Editor’s Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative August 2018 news and views
Note: Excerpts are from the authors’ words except for subheads and occasional “Editor’s notes” such as this.
Supreme Court Battle / #MeToo
New York Times, Details of F.B.I.’s Kavanaugh Inquiry Show Its Restricted Range, Michael D. Shear, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, Sept. 30, 2018 (print edition). The F.B.I. will interview four witnesses about sexual assault claims against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as part of a background check, not a full-fledged criminal investigation. The White House will decide the breadth of the inquiry and can order further investigation based on the findings from the four interviews.
The Atlantic, Opinion: This Was Never About Finding Out the Truth, Matt Thompson, Sept. 30, 2018. Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony before the Senate was a lesson in power — who wields it, and at whose expense.
Palmer Report, Analysis: Deborah Ramirez has already dropped the FBI hammer on Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Palmer, Sept. 30, 2018. Even as controversy and chaos swirl around the scope of the FBI investigation into the sexual assault allegations into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the FBI is moving forward very quickly.
Deborah Ramirez, right, was interviewed by the FBI earlier today, according to a CNN report this evening. Not only that, she provided the FBI with a list of witnesses who can corroborate her sexual assault accusations against Brett Kavanaugh.
Washington Post, Kellyanne Conway: ‘I’m a victim of sexual assault,’ Alex Horton, During an appearance on CNN, Sept. 30, 2018. The White House adviser suggested conservatives have become targets for political score settling.
Natural Disaster: Indonesia
Washington Post, Death toll soars past 800 after quake, tsunami in Indonesia, Ainur Rohmah and Shibani Mahtani, Sept. 30, 2018. Fearing that the number of people killed could eventually be in the thousands, rescue workers were only just starting to take stock of the wreckage — pulling out survivors buried under the rubble from a collapsed hotel, treating patients in tents and racing to get food and water to survivors.
New York Times, Elon Musk Steps Down as Tesla’s Chairman in Settlement with S.E.C., Matthew Goldstein, Sept. 30, 2018 (print edition). Mr. Musk will step down as Tesla’s chairman for three years and pay a $20 million fine. He will remain as the company’s chief executive.It is part of a deal to resolve a securities fraud case over Mr. Musk’s post on Twitter last month that he had “funding secured” for a buyout of the company.
SCOTUSBlog, This week at the court, Andrew Hamm, Sept. 30, 2018. The October 2018 term begins on Monday. We expect additional orders from the September 24 conference at 9:30 a.m. The justices will hear oral argument in Weyerhaeuser Company v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Mount Lemmon Fire District v. Guido.
Supreme Court Battle
New York Times, Opinion: Thank You, Jeff Flake. Maybe America Can Now Learn the Truth. Editorial Board, Sept. 29, 2018 (print edition). An attack of conscience by one Republican senator, Jeff Flake of Arizona (shown at right), quickly reinforced by some wavering colleagues, compelled the Senate leadership and the White House to accede to common sense by commissioning an F.B.I. inquiry into the allegations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
Washington Post, FBI reaches out to 2nd woman who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, Shane Harris, Matt Zapotosky, Tom Hamburger and Seung Min Kim, Sept. 29, 2018. The FBI has begun contacting people as part of an additional background investigation of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, including a second woman who alleges that the Supreme Court nominee sexually assaulted her, according to people familiar with the unfolding investigation.
The bureau has reached out to Deborah Ramirez, a Yale University classmate of Kavanaugh’s who alleges that he shoved his genitals in her face at a party where she had been drinking and become disoriented. It was not clear that agents had yet interviewed Ramirez (shown at right in a photo by Benjamin Rasmusseen The New Yorker). But the FBI is moving quickly to contact people as part of the new background investigation, which President Trump ordered on Friday under pressure from key members of his party.
Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump begins backing down after he’s caught trying to rig FBI investigation into Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 29, 2018. Earlier this evening, multiple major news outlets reported that Donald Trump had been caught trying to secretly place severe and absurd restrictions on the FBI investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, including forbidding the FBI from investigating the claims made by Julie Swetnick. Trump could only have gotten away with this if no one found out until it was too late to matter. Now that he’s been caught, predictably, he’s already begun backing down.
After the news broke, Trump’s Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah released a statement insisting that the FBI was free to investigate any and all aspects of the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh. Because Trump and his White House have publicly staked themselves to this, Trump is not going to be able to keep the investigation limited.
NBC News, White House limits scope of the FBI’s investigation into the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, Ken Dilanian, Geoff Bennett, Kristen Welker, Frank Thorp V, Hallie Jackson and Leigh Ann Caldwell, Sept. 29, 2018. The FBI has not been permitted to investigate the claims of Julie Swetnick, a White House official confirmed to NBC News. The White House is limiting the scope of the FBI’s investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, multiple people briefed on the matter told NBC News.
While the FBI will examine the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, the bureau has not been permitted to investigate the claims of Julie Swetnick, who has accused Kavanaugh of engaging in sexual misconduct at parties while he was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in the 1980s, those people familiar with the investigation told NBC News. A White House official confirmed that Swetnick’s claims will not be pursued as part of the reopened background investigation into Kavanaugh.
Twitter, Swetnick Lawyer Avenatti Responds To Trump Muzzle On FBI, Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti), Sept. 29, 2018. “If true, this is outrageous. Why are Trump and his cronies in the Senate trying to prevent the American people from learning the truth? Why do they insist on muzzling women with information submitted under penalty of perjury? Why Ramirez but not my client?”
Washington Post, New Kavanaugh inquiry draws FBI into partisan tug of war, Matt Zapotosky, Sept. 29, 2018 (print edition). The FBI has grown accustomed to its work being viewed through sharply partisan lenses. But President Trump’s order for a “supplemental investigation” of Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh presents challenges.
Washington Post, Details in Kavanaugh’s 1982 calendar entry could be scrutinized in FBI probe, Michael Kranish, Joe Heim and Emma Brown, Sept. 29, 2018 (print edition). Democrats have seized on the scrawled notes as possible evidence that could support Christine Blasey Ford’s charge that the Supreme Court nominee sexually assaulted her.
Palmer Report, Analysis: FBI is already ripping into Brett Kavanaugh’s life tonight, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 29, 2018. How much can the FBI accomplish in the week it’s been given to investigate the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh? Let’s just say that the bureau is hitting the ground running, with a vengeance. Not only is the FBI investigating multiple sexual assault accusations, it’s been seeking to conduct key interviews as soon as tonight.
This is important for two reasons. First, it confirms what Mitch McConnell’s office stated earlier this evening, which is that the FBI has been given the authority to investigate all the accusations, and not just those made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
Second, it demonstrates just how quickly the FBI is working on this. The sooner it can interview Kavanaugh’s various accusers, the sooner it can use their responses to zero in on which other potential witnesses and physical evidence to pursue. The FBI already has a leg-up even before these interviews, because Ford just finished giving detailed public testimony, while Ramirez and Swetnick have also gone public in detail. All of this can be – and surely already is being – used to help guide the investigation even before the accuser interviews can be conducted.
Washington Post, American Bar Association had concerns in 2006 about Kavanaugh, Avi Selk, Sept. 29, 2018 (print edition). The ABA flagged concerns of possible bias just before the Senate made Brett M. Kavanaugh a federal judge.
Washington Post, An elevator confrontation, a meeting in a phone booth: Sen. Flake’s Friday drama, Elise Viebeck, Sean Sullivan and Paul Kane, The deal to delay a vote on President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee was made behind closed doors — by two senators crammed into an old-fashioned phone booth built for one. The deal to delay a final vote on President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee was made behind closed doors Friday — by two senators crammed into a battered, old-fashioned phone booth built for one.
Washington Post, ‘I was demanding a connection’: Ana Maria Archila reflects on confronting Jeff Flake over Kavanaugh nomination, Elise Viebeck, Sept. 29, 2018 (print edition). Ana Maria Archila had never told her father that she was sexually abused as a child. But after she confronted a U.S. senator about President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee and the video started going viral, she thought it was time to share her story.
“I always carried the fear that my parents would feel that they had failed in taking care of me if I told them,” Archila (co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy in New York) said Friday night in a phone interview with The Washington Post.
The encounter on Friday morning between Archila, a second woman and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has already become an iconic moment in the debate over Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. With a CNN camera behind them broadcasting live, Archila and Maria Gallagher blocked the doors of an elevator for about five minutes in an effort to confront Flake about his just-announced support for Kavanaugh, who is facing several allegations of sexual misconduct.
Disaster In Indonesia
New York Times, Tsunami and Earthquake in Indonesia Kill Nearly 400, Officials Say, Richard C. Paddock and Muktita Suhartono, Sept. 29, 2018. Hundreds were killed in the city of Palu alone, and it was feared that the toll could rise further still. Preparations for a beach festival had been underway when the tsunami hit Friday evening, on the heels of a 7.5-magnitude earthquake.
But those figures applied to Palu alone, and there were other vulnerable coastal areas where communications were down. Officials had been unable to make contact with Donggala, a fishing community near Palu that was also reported to have been hit by the tsunami.
More #MeToo Fallout
Washington Post, Abuse settlement from 2005 with Cardinal Wuerl’s name raises questions, Michelle Boorstein and Julie Zauzmer, Sept. 29, 2018 (print edition). Cardinal Donald Wuerl, shown at right, who has said that he didn’t know about sexual misconduct complaints involving Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, was named in a 2005 settlement agreement that included allegations against McCarrick, according to the accuser and documents obtained by The Post.
Supreme Court Battle
Roll Call, After Last-Second Talks to Delay, Judiciary Committee Advances Kavanaugh Nomination, John T. Bennett, Sept. 28, 2018. Flake joins other Republicans to set up floor vote despite call for delay. The Senate Judiciary Committee, after a gut-wrenching spectacle of a hearing Thursday and last-second negotiations among Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., right, and panel Democrats to delay a floor vote, voted to advance Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination to the chamber floor despite multiple sexual misconduct allegations against him.
The Friday vote was along party lines, 11-10, with all Democrats voting against him after siding with Christine Blasey Ford, who testified before the panel for four hours Thursday about her contention that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and intended to rape her in the early 1980s. She told the panel she came forward because she does not believe he should be a high court justice with a lifetime appointment.
Palmer Report, Analysis: Confirmed: FBI is now allowed to criminally pursue Brett Kavanaugh for lying to the Senate, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 28, 2018. We’re already learning that the FBI is now allowed to pursue criminal charges against Kavanaugh if it’s determined that he lied under oath to the Senate.
Halfway through a lengthy new exposé from the Washington Post, we find this sentence regarding the the FBI investigation in question: “If investigators uncover evidence that Kavanaugh lied to lawmakers during hearings or on his background-check forms, that could spark a criminal investigation in which law enforcement could use the full extent of its legal powers.”
This confirms Palmer Report’s earlier premise that once the FBI begins an investigation like this, there really are no limits to the FBI’s ability to follow the evidence to any and all federal crimes. By our count, Kavanaugh [shown in a Palmer Report graphic] appeared to commit at least four separate provable instances of perjury during his televised Senate testimony, even before the sexual assault accusations surfaced. He lied extensively about the circumstances under which he received and forwarded stolen emails, and among other issues.
This may help explain why Senate Democrats uniformly pushed so hard for an FBI investigation. Even if the FBI can’t prove within the next seven days that Brett Kavanaugh tried to rape Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, it can quickly and easily prove that he committed felony perjury.
New York Times, A Bitter Nominee, Questions of Neutrality, and a Damaged Supreme Court, Adam Liptak, Sept. 28, 2018. In the first round of his Supreme Court confirmation hearings early this month, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh kept his cool under hostile questioning, stressed his independence, and exhibited the calm judicial demeanor that characterized his dozen years on a prestigious appeals court bench.
“The Supreme Court,” he said, “must never be viewed as a partisan institution.”
His performance on Thursday, responding to accusations of sexual misconduct at a hearing of the same Senate committee, sent a different message. Judge Kavanaugh was angry and emotional, embracing the language of slashing partisanship. His demeanor raised questions about his neutrality and temperament, and threatened the already fragile reputation of the Supreme Court as an institution devoted to law rather than politics.
“This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit,” he said, “fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.”
In a sharp break with decorum, Judge Kavanaugh responded to questions about his drinking from two Democratic senators — Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island — with questions of his own about theirs. He later apologized to Ms. Klobuchar.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh before Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 27, 2018 (Reuters photo by Jim Berg via NBC News)
Washington Post, Kavanaugh hearing turns partisan as GOP senators lash out at treatment of nominee, Seung Min Kim, Ann E. Marimow, Mike DeBonis and Elise Viebeck, Sept. 28, 2018 (print edition). Sen. Graham rejects allegations, rips Democrats in a furious speech.
“To my Republican colleagues, if you vote no, you’re legitimizing the most despicable thing I’ve seen in my time in politics,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said.
Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh called his confirmation process a “national disgrace” and denied sexual assault allegations, which Christine Blasey Ford detailed in testimony earlier.
Daily Mail, New questions over who leaked Christine Ford’s explosive accusation that Brett Kavanaugh tried to rape her, as reporter who broke the story says it WASN’T Dianne Feinstein and her staff, Alana Goodman, Sept. 28, 2018. The reporter who broke the story about the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh said that the news was not leaked to him by Dianne Feinstein’s office – as she launched a new defense of her handling of Christine Ford’s accusation of the Supreme Court nominee.
Ryan Grim, right, the D.C. bureau chief for The Intercept, was the first to report in September on the existence of a confidential letter written by Ford that accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party in the early 1980s. The story said there was ‘tension’ inside the Democratic membership over the handling of the letter.
Grim said late Thursday that the letter was not leaked to him by Feinstein or anyone in her office, as many have speculated. ‘Feinstein’s staff did not leak the letter to The Intercept,’ said Grim in a Twitter post.
‘Nor did she or her staff leak the existence of the letter to The Intercept. After our story, she turned it over to the FBI, which placed it in his background file, which meant that it became widely available and soon after it was leaked to CNN,’ he added. Grim’s story, which ran on Sept. 12, reported that Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee ‘have privately requested to view a Brett Kavanaugh-related document’ held by Feinstein. The story noted that Feinstein had rejected the requests.
Washington Post, 3 takeaways from the Kavanaugh hearing so far, Amber Phillips, Sept. 28, 2018 (print edition). Republicans struggled to show they are taking it seriously. Meanwhile, Christine Blasey Ford, shown at right, cut a sympathetic, down-to-earth figure.
1. This isn’t going well for Republicans
2. Meanwhile, Ford came across as credible, emotional and sympathetic
3. Republicans’ decision to hand their questions over to a female prosecutor is seeming questionable.
New York Times, Kavanaugh Denies Sexual Assault Charges and Attacks Democrats in Scathing Testimony, Staff report, Sept. 28, 2018 (print edition). At an extraordinary hearing, Brett M. Kavanaugh denied that he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford when they were in high school. In an angry statement to the Senate Judicial Committee he said the Supreme Court confirmation process had become “a national disgrace.”
The Hill, Jesuit magazine calls for Kavanaugh nomination to be withdrawn, Tal Axelrod, Sept. 27, 2018. The editors of America Magazine, a Jesuit publication, called on President Trump to withdraw Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.
The piece was published after Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a woman who accused Kavanaugh of trying to rape her in 1982 at a house party, testified before of the Senate Judiciary Committee about the allegations.
The editors wrote a piece in July praising Trump’s nomination of Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy and Kavanaugh’s pro-life stance.
“Judge Kavanaugh is a textualist who is suspicious of the kind of judicial innovation that led to the court’s ruling in Roe. That decision removed a matter of grave moral concern — about which there was and remains no public moral consensus — from the democratic process,” they wrote at the time.
Kavanaugh attended Georgetown Preparatory School, a Jesuit high school. The magazine’s reversal reflects the tumult into which sexual misconduct allegations have thrown Kavanaugh’s confirmation process.
Washington Post, Several Democrats walk out of Kavanaugh meeting in protest, Seung Min Kim and John Wagner, Sept. 28, 2018. Senate committee decides along party lines to vote on nomination this afternoon. Red-state Democrat Sen. Joe Donnelly said he would vote against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh. The Republicans had been courting him as well as Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).
Washington Post, ‘Look at me when I’m talking to you!’: Crying protester confronts Sen. Flake after he says he’ll vote for nominee, Lindsey Bever, Sept. 28, 2018. Two women tearfully and loudly confronted the Arizona Republican in an elevator, telling Sen. Jeff Flake that he was dismissing the pain of sexual assault survivors.
After Sen. Jeff Flake’s announcement that he would, in fact, vote to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, the emotional debate over the confirmation spilled into the halls of Congress, on live television, as two women tearfully and loudly confronted the Arizona Republican in an elevator, telling Flake that he was dismissing the pain of sexual assault survivors.
“What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit in the Supreme Court,” one woman shouted during a live CNN broadcast as Flake was making his way to a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting. “This is horrible. You have children in your family. Think about them.”
Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump’s pal Alan Dershowitz shockingly tries to put the brakes on Brett Kavanaugh nomination, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 28, 2018. After Dr. Christine Blasey Ford gave credible and compelling testimony yesterday alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh tried to rape her, and Kavanaugh responded by having a mental breakdown during his own subsequent testimony, various entities called for a halt to the nomination so an FBI investigation could be conducted.
Not surprisingly, the American Bar Association was among them. Shockingly, so was Donald Trump’s pal Alan Dershowitz.
Not long before midnight eastern time, it was widely reported that the ABA had sent a letter to Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein, arguing that the FBI must step in and help determine whether Kavanaugh or Ford is telling the truth. This is a major development, but perhaps not surprising.
On the one hand, with the Brett Kavanaugh nomination now rapidly shaping up as a stain on American history, it’s possible that Alan Dershowitz may simply be trying to avoid taking one more reputational hit as he continues to turn into more of a Trump shill.
On the other hand, maybe Dershowitz, above left, really is trying to talk Trump into moving on from Kavanaugh, for fear that pushing any further forward could backfire.
Democrats Threatened With Senate Reprisals
Roll Call, Lindsey Graham to Democrats: ‘I’ll Remember This,’John T. Bennett, Sept. 28, 2018. South Carolina senator could be Judiciary chairman next year if GOP holds Senate.
Lindsey Graham, right, who could become Senate Judiciary Committee chairman next year, warned his Democratic colleagues Friday that he will remember how they handled the Brett Kavanaugh saga.
“If I am chairman, next year, I’m going to remember this,” the South Carolina Republican said before a planned vote on the Supreme Court nominee.
“There’s the process before Kavanaugh and the process after Kavanaugh. If you want to vet the nominee, you can. If you want to delay things until after the election, you cannot. If you try to destroy somebody, you will not get away with it.”
Roll Call, Rosenstein Called to Testify in Private House Hearing, Meadows Says, Griffin Connolly, Sept. 28, 2018. House GOP leadership agrees to ask deputy AG, right, about reports he wanted to secretly record Trump.
Washington Post, Democrats’ lawsuit alleging Trump’s business violates Constitution can proceed, judge rules, Jonathan O’Connell, David A. Fahrenthold and Carol D. Leonnig, Sept. 28, 2018. The federal judge’s decision means that the Trump Organization is now facing two lawsuits claiming it is improperly receiving payments from foreign governments.
A federal judge on Friday gave the go-ahead to a lawsuit filed by 200 congressional Democrats against President Trump alleging he has violated the Constitution by doing business with foreign governments while in office.
The lawsuit is based on the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bars presidents from taking payments from foreign states. Trump’s business, which he still owns, has hosted foreign embassy events and visiting foreign officials at its downtown D.C. hotel.
The decision opens up yet another legal front for the president, who is now facing an array of inquiries into his business, his campaign and his charity. In his ruling, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan wrote that the members of Congress “appropriate seek relief in federal court” because they have no way to address their concern about Trump’s alleged violation of the emoluments clause with legislation.
The congressional plaintiffs, led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), right, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), asked the court to force Trump to stop accepting payments they consider improper — or to force him to seek Congress’s consent first.
More U.S. Politics, #MeToo
Seattle Times, Seattle woman says state Sen. Joe Fain raped her in 2007; Fain denies allegation, Heidi Groover, Mike Baker and Joseph O’Sullivan, Sept. 28, 2018. A Seattle woman said Thursday that prominent Washington state Sen. Joe Fain raped her after her college graduation in 2007. Fain denied the accusation and called for an investigation into the alleged incident.
The woman, Candace Faber, tweeted about Fain on Thursday afternoon and later issued a statement saying “we cannot heal without accountability.” The tweet came after hours of televised testimony on sexual-assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Faber said in her tweet that the assault occurred the night she graduated from Georgetown University. She had previously written a post about being assaulted by someone serving in the Washington state Legislature, but did not include a name.
In that earlier account, posted online in June, she described how she and the lawmaker met “at the Capitol” and spent a night out drinking and kissing. She wrote that she helped the drunken man return to his hotel room. In the room, she wrote, he pulled down her dress “so hard the straps tore.”
Fain, a Republican from Auburn, denied Faber’s account in a text message to The Seattle Times. “I absolutely deny what Ms. Faber is accusing me of,” Fain said. “Any allegation of this serious nature deserves to be heard and investigated for all parties involved. I invite and will cooperate with any inquiry. I ask everyone to show respect to Ms. Faber and to the process.”
More On Kavanaugh Hearing
Washington Post, American Bar Association calls for FBI investigation into Kavanaugh allegations, delay in confirmation votes, Meagan Flynn andSeung Min Kim, Sept. 28, 2018. The American Bar Association called on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday evening to halt the confirmation vote for Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, saying it should not move forward until an FBI investigation into the sexual assault allegations against him can be completed.
“The basic principles that underscore the Senate’s constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI,” ABA President.
The Intercept, Kavanaugh’s High School, Georgetown Prep, Warned Parents in 1990 of “Sexual or Violent Behavior” at Parties, Jon Schwarz and Camille Baker, Sept. 28, 2018. According to a 1990 article in the Washington Post, the headmasters from seven prestigious Washington, D.C.-area private schools sent a joint letter that year to parents, warning them that their children had developed a party culture that included heavy drinking leading to “sexual or violent behavior.”
One of the schools was Georgetown Prep, from which Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh graduated in 1983. Christine Blasey Ford, who during congressional testimony on Thursday described being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh in 1982, attended another of the schools, Holton-Arms.
The Post article also reported that before the letter was sent, Georgetown Prep had individually “held a conference with parents to discuss the problem of unsupervised parties.”
Malcolm Coates, then the headmaster of the Landon School in Bethesda, Maryland, is quoted as saying that the schools decided to write the letter jointly “to give it more impact. … The fact that seven schools decided it was enough of a problem to address it is significant.”
Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Senators stuck in their closets, Wayne Madsen, Sept. 27, 2018 (subscription required). Two Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee have had good reason to attack women who have come forward with allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted them while they were teens.
Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Orrin Hatch of Utah fear that if any credence is given to Kavanaugh’s accusers men who they have accosted in the past may be emboldened to reveal their stories.
Legal Schnauzer, Opinion: Lindsey Graham and Orrin Hatch are staunch Brett Kavanaugh supporters, probably because they want to keep gay accusers from their own pasts underground, Roger Shuler, Sept. 28, 2018. Two Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are closeted gays who likely are staunch supporters of Brett Kavanaugh — and doubters of his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford — because they want to ensure that ugly incidents from their own pasts never surface, according to a report from a D.C.-based investigative journalist.
Wayne Madsen reports that Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) are well known among Washington insiders as closeted homosexuals with histories of having inappropriate physical contact with men — not unlike the conduct Ford spelled out against Kavanaugh in yesterday’s contentious Senate hearing.
Dutch Foil Terror Plot
Dutch News, Police round off terror raids, more details emerge about suspects Society, Staff report, Sept. 28, 2018. Dutch police said on Friday morning they had completed their searches of private homes, following the arrest of seven people on Thursday who, police say, were planning a major terrorist attack.
But police are remaining tight-lipped about what they found during the search, broadcaster NOS reported. They did say on Thursday they had seized five handguns and several vehicles, including a minibus rented in France. The suspects range in age from 21 to 34 and three of them, including the alleged ringleader, have previous convictions for attempting to join IS in Syria, the public prosecution department said in a statement.
Roll Call, Senate Judiciary to Vote Friday on Kavanaugh Nomination, Todd Ruger, Sept. 27, 2018. Decision came after nearly nine hours of testimony from nominee and accuser
New York Magazine, Opinion: Why Brett Kavanaugh’s Hearings Convinced Me That He’s Guilty, Jonathan Chait, Sept. 27, 2018. I think Brett Kavanaugh is probably lying about having sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford, and many other things, and has decided from the beginning to say what he has to in order to fulfill his career ambition.
There is, however, at least some, small chance that he is telling the truth when he professes his innocence. And that small chance gives me some sympathetic human reaction to his emotional testimonial. If he is somehow innocent, as he claims, he has been subject to a horrifying and humiliating ordeal.
That, however, does not justify confirming Kavanaugh to a lifelong position on the Supreme Court. He has, for one thing, all but abandoned the posture of impartiality demanded of a judge. A ranting Kavanaugh launched angry, evidence-free charges against Senate Democrats. Why they took this revenge against Kavanaugh, rather than the first justice who was appointed after the 2016 elections, when Democrats’ anger over both the election and the treatment of Merrick Garland ran hotter, he did not say. Kavanaugh does not seem able to imagine even the possibility that Democrats actually believe the women accusing him of sexual assault. He is consumed with paranoid, partisan rage.
The method Republicans have used to defend Kavanaugh has consisted of suppressing most of the evidence that could be brought to bear in the hearing, and then complaining about the lack of evidence. “Unless something new comes forward, you have just an emotional accusation and an emotional denial without corroboration,” said Senator Lindsey Graham. Conservative columnist Kimberly Strassel argued, “The standard here isn’t where you ‘look’ or ‘sound’ ‘credible.’ It is whether you provide evidence.”
HuffPost via Yahoo, Man Who Pushed To Ask Bill Clinton Sexually Explicit Questions Bemoans Dirty Politics, Amanda Terkel, Sept. 27, 2018. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh came out swinging on Thursday, telling the Senate Judiciary Committee that his confirmation process had become a “national disgrace” and bemoaning the partisan politics around it.
“The Constitution gives the Senate an important role in the confirmation process, but you have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy,” he said angrily in his opening remarks. “Since my nomination in July, there has been a frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything to block my confirmation.”
The dirty politics Kavanaugh is alleging should be no surprise to him, since he spent part of his career in that world.
Kavanaugh cut his teeth in Washington working for what Democrats consider to be the most brazen and partisan crusade in modern politics: Ken Starr’s investigations into President Bill Clinton in the 1990s. He spent more than three years working for the independent counsel, who was looking into various scandals surrounding Clinton and his wife, Hillary.
Kavanaugh personally urged Starr to expand the Whitewater investigation to include looking at the death of White House staffer Vince Foster, a controversy that was a partisan attempt to use a man’s death to go after the Clintons.
Foster died by suicide in 1993, a conclusion reached by U.S. Park Police (his body was found in a park) and the FBI. In fact, multiple investigations concurred that it was a suicide.
Yet in March 1995, after those reviews, Kavanaugh called for a “full-fledged investigation” into Foster’s death. That inquiry helped validate right-wing conspiracy theorists who believed that the Clintons killed Foster, and the matter outraged Foster’s family.
During the Monica Lewinsky inquiry, Kavanaugh pressed Starr to ask Clinton sexually graphic questions about his relationship with the White House intern.
Roll Call, Jeff Flake Straddling the Fence on Kavanaugh Ahead of Friday Vote, Niels Lesniewski, Sept. 27, 2018. Arizona Republican isn’t committing to supporting Supreme Court nominee.
Sen. Jeff Flake, seen as a key swing vote who could either put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court or kill his chances, is not committing to voting for the nominee at a Friday morning Judiciary Committee markup.
The Arizona Republican sounded very conflicted Thursday evening following a meeting of the Senate Republican Conference after the Judiciary panel spent nearly nine hours Thursday hearing from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexually assaulting her at a party decades ago when they were both in high school.
Washington Post, Kavanaugh just showed remarkable anger for a Supreme Court nominee, Aaron Blake, Sept. 27, 2018. Brett M. Kavanaugh dropped the usual nonpartisan pretense and went hard at Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Roll Call, Kavanaugh Comes Out of Gate Angry, Says Confirmation Process Is ‘National Disgrace,’ John T. Bennett, Sept. 27, 2018. An angry Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, facing sexual assault allegations, opened up his testimony Thursday by calling the situation a “national disgrace.”
He lamented that his name and that of his family have been “totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false … accusations.”
Three women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault or sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh. Christine Blasey Ford, his first accuser who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier Thursday, has accused the nominee of sexually assaulting her at a party in the 1980s when the two were in high school. Supreme Court nominee aggressively foists blame on Democrats, accuses them of character assassination.
Washington Post, Chuck Grassley’s heavy-handed stewardship of a very delicate hearing, Aaron Blake, Sept. 27, 2018. Republicans have taken pains to prevent their 11 white, male committee members from talking. Grassley, though, has no choice.
Washington Post, Ford finishes her testimony, Kavanaugh to testify, Seung Min Kim, Ann E. Marimow, Mike DeBonis and Elise Viebeck, Sept. 27, 2018. Sen. Hatch, right, calls Christine Blasey Ford an ‘attractive’ witness.
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the longest-serving member of the Senate, was asked whether Ford was “credible” in her testimony. “I don’t think she’s un-credible.” he said. “I think she’s an attractive, good witness.”
New York Times, Nomination in the Balance as Kavanaugh and His Accuser Testify, Catie Edmondson, Sept. 27, 2018. Christine Blasey Ford, shown in a file photo, is set to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify about her accusation that Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her. Since Dr. Blasey came forward, two more women have accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct at parties in high school and in college.
An hour before the hearing, Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, held a news conference in support of Dr. Blasey, flanked by trauma experts who spoke of the difficult and often hostile cultural attitudes faced by survivors of sexual abuse.
Ms. Murray, left, was one of a number of female senators who was emboldened to run for office after watching Anita F. Hill testify in 1991, and she referenced that experience directly, calling on her colleagues to learn from their past mistakes.
“In 1991, I and millions of women across the country watched as Anita Hill was interrogated and attacked and the Senate failed this crucial test,” Ms. Murray said. “Twenty-seven years later, in 2018, we need to do better and we certainly should not do worse.”
As Ms. Murray delivered her remarks, dozens of protesters supporting Dr. Blasey poured into the Hart Senate Office Building, chanting “we won’t go back” and wearing shirts that said “Believe Women.” Four young women, wearing their Holton-Arms uniforms, walked through the Hart office buildings hallways, arms linked together.
SouthFront, U.S. Stepping Up Efforts To Form “Arab NATO” To Confront Iran, Staff report, Sept. 27, 2018. In an interview with the National news outlet, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs Tim Lenderking revealed that he has been touring the region for the past weeks to lay the groundwork for a US-hosted summit in January that would launch a strategic Arab alliance, similar to the NATO.
According to Lenderking, the priority of the new alliance, which will be named the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), will be to counter Iran’s influence in the Middle East. The main members of the US-led alliance will be Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Egypt and Jordan.
“This stems from the Riyadh summit in 2017 where everyone agreed that the US and the GCC would meet on an annual basis…we added on top of that the keen interest on both sides in building Mesa,” Lenderking said in the interview, which was released on September 27.
Observers doubt that U.S. efforts will succeed, especially that many attempts had been made previously to form such an alliance. However, the fundamental differences between U.S. allies were always the obstacle. The current crisis between Saudi Arabia and Qatar is an example of these differences.
New York Times, What We Know About Rachel Mitchell, the Arizona Prosecutor Set to Question Kavanaugh’s First Accuser, Matt Stevens, Sept. 27, 2018 (print edition). The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Republican leadership said Tuesday that it had retained Rachel Mitchell, an Arizona prosecutor specializing in sex crimes, to help question Christine Blasey Ford, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s first accuser. Rachel Mitchell, right, is shown during a TV interview in 2011 (Screenshot from ABC 15.)
The move allows Republicans to avoid having the 11 men who are part of the committee and in their party grill Dr. Blasey on Thursday about the alleged sexual assault in high school that she says a young Judge Kavanaugh carried out.
Washington Post, Who is Julie Swetnick, the third accuser? Michael E. Miller, Steve Hendrix, Jessica Contrera and Ian Shapira, July 27, 2018. The 55-year-old is an experienced web developer in the Washington area and has held multiple security clearances for her work on government-related networks.
Julie Swetnick, right, who Wednesday became the third woman to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, is an experienced Web developer in the Washington area who has held multiple security clearances for her work on government-related networks.
The child of two government bureaucrats — her father worked on the lunar orbiter for NASA and her mother was a geologist at the Atomic Energy Commission — has spent most of her life around Washington. Now 55, she grew up in Maryland and graduated in 1980 from Gaithersburg High School, located in a far less affluent section of the same county where Kavanaugh lived and attended an exclusive prep school.
Swetnick’s father, 95, said Wednesday he was shocked to learn from a Washington Post reporter that his daughter had made the explosive allegations.
Washington Post, Trump laments #MeToo as ‘very dangerous’ for powerful men, Philip Rucker, Robert Costa, Josh Dawsey and Ashley Parker, Sept. 27, 2018 (print edition). President Trump, shown in a file photo, cast doubt on the credibility of three women who have accused Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct and other women who have claimed sexual abuse by prominent men.
Washington Post, ‘Give it to me’: Trump lets loose with 81 minutes of bluster, falsehoods and insults, Ashley Parker, Sept. 27, 2018 (print edition). What was perhaps most remarkable was just how transparent and revealing the 45th president of the United States continues to be.
CNN guest commentators Kirsten Powers and Michael Caputo, right, squared off on the show of Anderson Cooper, left.
Washington Post, ‘I called out his victim blaming and he lost it,’ says Kirsten Powers after Michael Caputo’s CNN meltdown, Allyson Chiu, Sept. 27, 2018. Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign aide turned political strategist and conservative pundit, was thrust into the spotlight after having what many are calling a “meltdown” during a heated panel discussion about the controversial allegations against Kavanaugh on Anderson Cooper’s “AC360” Wednesday night.
Justice Department / Mueller Probe
Washington Post, Ahead of what is to be fateful meeting, Trump says he would prefer to keep Rosenstein, Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 27, 2018 (print edition). The deputy attorney general has frequently been the target of attacks from a president furious over the Russia investigation, but behind the scenes, the two have had an amiable relationship.
The Hill, Avenatti releases client’s identity, allegations against Kavanaugh, Tal Axelrod, Sept. 26, 2018. Avenatti claims client has ‘credible information’ on Kavanaugh, ex-classmate. Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing adult film actress Stormy Daniels in her suit against President Trump released the identity of his client accusing Brett Kavanaugh of being present for a “gang rape” of which she was a victim.
Avenatti tweeted out a sworn testimony from Julie Swetnick, shown above, in which she declares she met Kavanaugh in “approximately 1980-1981” and attended several house parties for which Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were also present.
Her affidavit states:
“I witnessed Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh drink excessively and engage in highly inappropriate conduct, including being overly aggressive with girls and not taking ‘No’ for an answer. This conduct included the fondling and grabbing of girls without their consent,” Swetnick writes.
“I also witnessed efforts by Mark Judge [shown at right], Brett Kavanaugh and others to cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be ‘gang raped’ in a side room or bedroom by a ‘train’ of numerous boys … These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh … In approximately 1982, I became the victim of one of these ‘gang’ or ‘train’ rapes where Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh were present,” she added.
Avenatti wrote: “Here is a picture of my client Julie Swetnick. She is courageous, brave and honest. We ask that her privacy and that of her family be respected.”
Avenatti, who has not ruled out a bid for the White House in 2020, said, “Under no circumstances should Brett Kavanaugh be confirmed absent a full and complete investigation.”
Below is my correspondence to Mr. Davis of moments ago, together with a sworn declaration from my client. We demand an immediate FBI investigation into the allegations. Under no circumstances should Brett Kavanaugh be confirmed absent a full and complete investigation.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) 10:42 AM – Sep 26, 2018.
Washington Post, Kavanaugh says he is victim of ‘character assassination,’ John Wagner and Amy Gardner, Sept. 26, 2018. Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh is also set to tell senators at a Thursday hearing that while he was “not perfect” in high school, he did not sexually assault Christine Blasey Ford when they were teens. Uncertainty looms over Kavanaugh and the GOP after new misconduct allegation.
Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh [shown in a screenshot from the confirmation hearing] is scheduled to appear Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee at a high-stakes hearing. The committee will hear from Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who says President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee sexually assaulted her when both were teenagers.
Lawmakers from both parties and lawyers for Kavanaugh and Ford maneuvered for advantage on the eve of the hearing, and President Trump weighed in on the fate of his nominee.
12:50 p.m.: Trump attacks Avenatti as ‘a total low-life!’
President Trump on Wednesday lashed out at Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing a new accuser of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh.
“Avenatti is a third rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations, like he did on me and like he is now doing on Judge Brett Kavanaugh,” Trump said in a tweet. “He is just looking for attention and doesn’t want people to look at his past record and relationships – a total low-life!”
Avenatti also represents Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress who was paid by a personal attorney for Trump to remain quiet about an alleged decade-old affair with Trump.
On Wednesday, Avenatti revealed that he is representing Julie Swetnick, who said Kavanaugh was physically abusive toward girls in high school and present at a house party in 1982 where she says she was the victim of a “gang” rape.
12:45 p.m.: Grassley says new accuser won’t affect Thursday’s hearing
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said the emergence of a third accuser would not affect the hearing scheduled Thursday at which the panel will hear from Christine Blasey Ford about her allegations of sexual assault against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh.
12:30: Kavanaugh says third accuser’s allegations are ‘from the Twilight Zone’
Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on Wednesday dismissed the allegations of a third accuser as “ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone.” Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh is scheduled to appear Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee at a high-stakes hearing. The committee will hear from Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who says President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee sexually assaulted her when both were teenagers.
The Intercept, Key House Democrat Pledges Investigation of Brett Kavanaugh If Confirmed: “We Would Owe That to the American People,” Ryan Grim, Sept. 26, 2018. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, plans to open an investigation into the background of Brett Kavanaugh if he is confirmed to the Supreme Court, Johnson told The Intercept.
If Democrats take control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections, which prognosticators believe is increasingly likely, Johnson would become chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet. The subcommittee would have authority to subpoena witnesses, documents, and emails related to Kavanaugh.
“This whole process has stunk to high heaven. This confirmation process that has been run by [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell out of his office, over and above what [Sen. Chuck] Grassley purports to be doing, is just strictly political,” Johnson said in an interview. “Their aim is to get Kavanaugh confirmed regardless of his background.”
Kavanaugh’s history as a high school and college student has become increasingly relevant to his nomination to the Supreme Court in light of accusations of sexual assault by two women, Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez.
On Wednesday, a third woman, Julie Swetnick, came forward with a sworn affidavit alleging that Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were present when she was drugged and raped in the early 1980s, when the duo were classmates at Georgetown Preparatory School in suburban Maryland. She witnessed inappropriate behavior from Kavanaugh multiple times, said Swetnick, who holds multiple security clearances in Washington. Her security clearances are relevant because she stands to lose them — along with her career — if she is found to be committing perjury. In her sworn affidavit, she said there are multiple other people who can corroborate her story. Swetnick and those witnesses could be called in connection with Johnson’s probe.
“His background is fair for consideration, both before he is confirmed and, if he should be confirmed, we would be duty-bound to follow-up on any blemishes on his record that were not fully discovered prior to his confirmation. We would owe that to the American people,” said Johnson.
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Roll Call, Trump: Democrats Running ‘Big, Fat Con Job’ on Kavanaugh, John T. Bennett, Sept. 25, 2018. President won’t say whether he thinks accusers are lying.President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused Senate Democrats of being hellbent on taking down Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, saying they would have attacked him even if the FBI had returned a “perfect score” after investigating sexual misconduct allegations against him.
“You wouldn’t have gotten one vote” from Democrats, Trump said at a news conference in New York where he has been attending a United Nations conference.
“The told us they’ve investigated Judge Kavanaugh six times. They know him very well,” the president said. “There was … nothing to investigate. They didn’t know the location. They didn’t know time. They didn’t know the year. They didn’t know anything,” he added, referring to the first allegation against the nominee that will be the subject of a Thursday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Washington Post, Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell emerges as GOP choice to question Kavanaugh and accuser at hearing, Sean Sullivan, Josh Dawsey and Rosalind S. Helderman, Sept. 26, 2018 (print edition). Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell has emerged as Senate Republicans’ choice to question Brett M. Kavanaugh and the woman who has accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, according to two people familiar with the decision.
Mitchell, the sex crimes bureau chief for the Maricopa County Attorney’s office in Phoenix, is the leading candidate to query the two at Thursday’s highly anticipated hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to the individuals.
They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it on the record. A registered Republican, Mitchell has worked for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for 26 years.
Washington Post, Brett Kavanaugh has no good choices anymore, Deanna Paul, Sept. 26, 2018. Allegations of decades-old sexual misconduct resurfaced days before Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh was all but set to sail through his confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. Kavanaugh categorically denied each claim of misconduct in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee and in an interview with Fox News on Monday, vowing to fight the accusations and defend himself.
The controversial nominee is faced with two unattractive options: withdraw or testify at a second hearing Thursday. He has pledged to do the latter, though either leaves his name tarnished.
“It’s difficult to imagine an exit strategy that’s not personally and professionally devastating for Kavanaugh,” Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University Law School professor, told The Washington Post on Tuesday. Those encouraging the federal judge to withdraw are telling him to cut his losses, Turley said. But the losses are quite considerable.
New York Times, Kavanaugh’s Calendar Portrays Party-Filled Summer for Supreme Court Nominee, Nicholas Fandos, Sept. 26, 2018. The Senate Judiciary Committee released the handwritten calendar pages kept by a teenage Brett Kavanaugh from the summer of 1982. Further clouding Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation, a third woman has come forward to accuse him of misconduct during high school.
The Senate Judiciary Committee released calendar pages [one is shown] from the summer of 1982 on Wednesday that paint an image of a party-hopping Brett M. Kavanaugh in high school, complicating his self-drawn portrait of a diligent student obsessed mainly with sports and reaching the top of his class
At the same time, lawyers for the woman who has accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her that summer, Christine Blasey Ford, gave the committee four affidavits — one from Dr. Blasey’s husband and three from friends — stating that she had told them in recent years that President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee had assaulted her in high school.
Released as both sides prepare for an extraordinary public hearing before the Judiciary Committee on Thursday, neither disclosure proves or disproves the cases that Dr. Blasey or Judge Kavanaugh have sought to advance, but Democratic senators are likely to use the calendars to question how truthful Judge Kavanaugh has been about his younger days. And although the affidavits suggest that Dr. Blasey’s story has been consistent, Republicans are more likely to focus on the lack of contemporaneous evidence that could corroborate her story.
Rachel Mitchell gives a TV interview in 2011/Screenshot from ABC 15
Raw Story, GOP’s Kavanaugh questioner Rachel Mitchell comes from a troubled office with a terrible record of rape convictions, Martin Cizmar, Sept. 26, 2018. Wary of having 11 middle-aged or elderly white men interrogate the woman who says she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Senate Republicans have instead tapped an Arizona prosecutor to handle the questioning of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
Rachel Mitchell works for the Special Victims Division in the Maricopa County attorney’s office in Arizona. Mitchell has a lot of experience, having spent 12 years running the sex-crimes bureau in Phoenix. She’s been with the office for 26 years, the last eight under Bill Montgomery.
Before that, Mitchell worked under ultra-conservative Andy Thomas, who focused heavily on immigration busts and feuded bitterly with the more moderate county officials who fund his office, at one point indicting county officials over their squabbles. Mitchell’s former boss was later disbarred following an abuse of power case.
The agency that Mitchell comes from has come under fierce criticism for its handling of rape cases, and has a poor track record of getting justice for victims in rape, child molestation or domestic violence cases.
Although it’s hard to get county-level statistics, Maricopa County includes Phoenix and it’s sprawling suburbs, and contains most of the state’s population. Maricopa County has more than 4 million residents. The rest of Arizona has less than 3 million residents combined.
In 2016, there were 3,290 rapes reported across Arizona. Police only made 344 arrests as a result.
That clearance rate of Arizona rape cases stands at approximately 10%, well below the national average of 34.5%.
Maricopa County is notorious for disgraced former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of federal crimes and pardoned by Donald Trump. But the prosecutor’s office that Arpaio worked with has also had a number of high-profile fails—especially when it comes to sex crimes. Arpaio has been slammed for ignoring rape and child molestation cases so he could pursue a jihad against Latinos. Maricopa County had to pay out massive settlements as a result of Arpaio’s mishandling of rape cases.
That includes an alleged 2014 gang rape that prosecutors declined to take before a jury and several high-profile cases at Arizona State University in Tempe in Maricopa County, which the school has responded to by arguing that expulsion is “too severe” a punishment for rapists.
Business Insider, Kavanaugh says it was legal for seniors to drink when he was in high school, but Maryland’s drinking age was raised to 21 when he was 17, Eliza Relman, Sept. 25, 2018. Both women who have accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in high school and college said he was intoxicated at the time.
Kavanaugh addressed his high school’s drinking culture in an interview on Monday, saying the minimum legal drinking age was 18 back then.
But in 1982, when Kavanaugh was 17, Maryland — where he was raised and attended high school — changed the minimum legal drinking age to 21 from 18.
Both women who have accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in high school and college said he was intoxicated at the time.
Kavanaugh addressed his high school’s drinking culture in an interview on Monday, saying the minimum legal drinking age was 18 back then.
But in 1982, when Kavanaugh was 17, Maryland — where he was raised and attended high school — changed the minimum legal drinking age to 21 from 18.
Washington Post, Opinion: Christine Blasey Ford can control Thursday’s hearing, Jennifer Rubin, right, Sept. 26, 2018. However Senate Republicans choreograph the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday at which Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford are set to testify, 11 mute Republican men, too nervous to interrogate a sympathetic witness, will be hiding behind (or alongside) a woman hired for the purpose of making the men look less like bullies.
Still, the stage is Ford’s. She is the star. The camera is on her. She can talk as long as she wants and say anything she wants — what, will commitee chairman Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) interrupt and gavel her out of order? Democrats can only pray for such stupidity.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, had an unusual interview with Fox News on Monday in an attempt to defend the Supreme Court nominee’s reputation amid allegations of sexual misconduct from two women.
As the backdrop to these allegations, Kavanaugh has been portrayed as an eager participant in a hard-partying culture at his elite all-boys high school, Georgetown Preparatory, and as a college student at Yale University, where he was a member of a fraternity and an all-male secret society, Truth and Courage, nicknamed “Tit and Clit.”
Both women have said Kavanaugh was intoxicated when the alleged misconduct occurred. At one point during the Monday interview, Kavanaugh addressed Georgetown Prep’s drinking culture.
“Yes, there were parties, and yes, the drinking age was 18,” Kavanaugh told the Fox host Martha MacCallum. “And yes, the seniors were legal and had beer there. And yes, people might have had too many beers on occasion. And people generally in high school — I think all of us have probably done things we look back on in high school and regret or cringe a bit.”
But Maryland’s minimum legal drinking age for beer and wine was changed to 21 from 18 in July 1982, during the summer before Kavanaugh’s senior year. It was already 21 for hard liquor.
Residents who had turned 18 by that time were grandfathered in and allowed to drink legally. Kavanaugh was 17 at the time.
In 1984, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act made the minimum legal drinking age 21 nationwide. (—Alice Crites (@alice_crites) September 25, 2018.)
Politico, Feinstein: Kavanaugh misled about grand jury secrecy in Vince Foster probe, Josh Gerstein, Sept. 26, 2018. The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee is accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of misleading the Senate about his handling of grand jury secrets while working for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr two decades ago.
Kavanaugh’s nomination has run into trouble in the last two weeks over allegations of sexual assault by two women, but Democrats have also complained that he misled them during his Senate testimony on a number of issues, including his handling of warrantless wiretapping and detainee policy in the George W. Bush administration.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, right, told Politico that she has now identified another area in which she believes Kavanaugh was not truthful in communications with senators. She said that by directing officials to speak to reporters during the investigation of President Bill Clinton, Kavanaugh may have violated grand jury secrecy laws — even though he told her and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) he never broke those rules.
“According to a memo from the National Archives, Brett Kavanaugh instructed Hickman Ewing, a colleague and deputy counsel in the Starr investigation, to ‘call [Chris] Ruddy’ about matters before a grand jury, which would be illegal to disclose,” Feinstein said in a statement to POLITICO. “I asked Judge Kavanaugh in questions for the record whether he had shared ‘information learned through grand jury proceedings.’ His answer, which says that he acted ‘consistent with the law,’ conflicts with the official memo from Mr. Ewing. Disclosing grand jury information is against the law and would be troubling for any lawyer, especially one applying for a promotion to the highest court in the country.”
New York Times, Yale Touted Kavanaugh; Now Comes ‘a Moment of Reckoning,’ David W. Chen, Sept. 26, 2018. Students and faculty members from Yale Law School packed the campus’s largest church on Tuesday for a hastily arranged town hall, where they spoke about the sexual assault allegations swirling around the Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, a 1990 graduate of the school.
Yale Law School, long regarded as one of the best in the country, has always stood out as an intimate, largely liberal bastion with a nonpareil track record in propelling graduates to prestigious court clerkships and white-shoe law firms. And the pinnacle of accomplishment, arguably, is a seat on the Supreme Court, where a Justice Kavanaugh would join the Yale alumni Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., and Sonia Sotomayor.
But these days, Yale is experiencing an unusually intense bout of existential hand-wringing, buffeted by the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh, the paroxysms of the #MeToo movement, and a more diverse, politicized student body uncomfortable with the privilege of an Ivy League pedigree, even as it actively pursues it. The school, student activists now say, has been overly obsessed with burnishing credentials, turning a blind eye to concerns about the behavior of its alumni and faculty.
Miami New Times, “Blacks for Trump” Founder Banned From Bankruptcy Court for Abusing System, Tim Elfrink, Sept. 25, 2018. “Blacks for Trump” Founder Banned From Bankruptcy Court for Abusing System. Maurice Symonette has become a political celebrity thanks to Donald Trump’s staff, which has repeatedly given the ex-member of Miami’s deadly Yahweh ben Yahweh cult prime seats behind the president at nationally televised rallies to show off his “Blacks for Trump” signs. But Symonette recently told a bankruptcy court that he’s dead broke, raising the question of who’s been paying for his recent trips to rallies from Arizona to Tampa.
In an order issued Monday, Chief United States Bankruptcy Judge Laurel M. Isicoff dismissed Symonette’s latest bankruptcy case and ordered him not to file anything else with the court for the next five years. Isicoff found that Symonette had repeatedly filed bankruptcies simply to obtain temporary protection from foreclosures — but then never bothered to follow the court’s orders in any of the cases.
Isicoff’s order is just the latest bizarre chapter in the story of Symonette, also known as “Michael the Black Man,” who beat charges in the early ’90s that he participated in Yahweh ben Yahweh’s brutal cult killings before transforming himself into a local anti-Obama activist.
Trump then helped catapult him onto a national stage, where he used his prominent placement at rallies to show off signs and T-shirts directing people to his truly insane website, which accuses Cherokees of secretly running America’s banking system and alleges an FDR-created secret program is sabotaging conservatives.
“[Symonette] has clearly abused the privilege of filing bankruptcy by using the bankruptcy courts only as part of his efforts to thwart the exercise by secured creditors, landlords, and homeowner associations,” Isicoff writes in the order. “Bankruptcy is a privilege, not a right.”
New York Times, Black Female Lawmaker in Vermont Resigns After Racial Harassment, Liam Stack, Sept. 26, 2018. Kiah Morris, a Democrat, resigned from her seat in the State House of Representatives one month after she ended her re-election campaign over harassment and threats.
Rape Charge Against GOP Court Pick?
Palmer Report, Analysis: Former State Department employee is accusing Brett Kavanaugh of rape, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 25, 2018. As things stand, three different women are accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault and/or rape, along with conflicting reports of a possible fourth accuser. Only the first two accusers have come forward by name. But now the third accuser is about to do the same, and while we won’t know her name until sometime tomorrow, we are learning details about her background.
The woman, represented by attorney Michael Avenatti, left, is a former employee of the State Department and the U.S. Mint, according to a new statement made by Avenatti to reporters. This is the woman who is accusing Brett Kavanaugh of participating in multiple gang rapes. She says she’s a victim of it, and Avenatti says he has witnesses lined up who are willing to corroborate her story.
Why does it matter that this woman has worked for the State Department? We don’t believe that a woman’s career path or station in life should have any impact on her believability when it comes to sexual assault accusations. But what may be of importance here is that she has multiple security clearances, which means that she’s survived multiple background checks by the Feds. When it comes to the court of public opinion, she’ll have a strong counterargument to make when Kavanaugh’s defenders point out that he went through federal background checks while climbing the ranks as a judge.
Bill Cosby Sentenced
Washington Post, Bill Cosby sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison in the first celebrity trial of the #MeToo era, Enrique Peña Nieto, Sept. 25, 2018. Cosby’s sentencing follows an April conviction on charges of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, a Temple University basketball official he was mentoring.
Dozens of women have publicly accused Cosby, right, of sexual assault in incidents dating from the 1960s and through the 2000s. The prosecution had requested a 5- to 10-year sentence for the 81-year-old entertainer. Cosby has vowed to appeal.
Rushed Vote Set Friday On Kavanaugh
Vox, The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a vote on Kavanaugh even though his accuser hasn’t testified, Li Zhouli, Sept. 25, 2018. The vote’s just one day after a hearing scrutinizing sexual misconduct allegations.
Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA), right, has rescheduled a committee vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh for this upcoming Friday. That’s just one day after a hearing that will take place on Thursday, which is set to scrutinize sexual misconduct and assault allegations that have been brought against Kavanaugh.
Grassley’s announcement of the committee vote is the latest signal that Republicans are ready to barrel ahead with Kavanaugh’s confirmation, in spite of the recent accusations that have been levied by Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez. Ford — who has said that Kavanaugh tried to force himself on her while both of them were in high school — is set to testify, along with Kavanaugh, on Thursday. Kavanaugh has unequivocally denied all of the allegations.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday emphasized that he was eager to hear from Ford — while simultaneously casting doubt on the legitimacy of her allegations.
Washington Post, Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell emerges as GOP choice to question Kavanaugh and accuser at hearing, Sean Sullivan, Josh Dawsey and Rosalind S. Helderman, Sept. 25, 2018. Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell has emerged as Senate Republicans’ choice to question Brett M. Kavanaugh and the woman who has accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, according to two people familiar with the decision.
Mitchell, the sex crimes bureau chief for the Maricopa County Attorney’s office in Phoenix, is the leading candidate to query the two at Thursday’s highly anticipated hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to the individuals.
Rosenstein Seen Surviving For Now
Washington Post, Rod Rosenstein’s departure was imminent. Now he’ll probably survive until after the midterms, officials say, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 25, 2018. The deputy attorney general told the White House he was willing to quit if President Trump wouldn’t disparage him.
Rod J. Rosenstein’s departure seemed so certain this week that his boss’s chief of staff told colleagues that he had been tapped by the White House to take over as second-in-command of the Justice Department, while another official would supervise the special counsel probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, people familiar with the matter said.
But by Monday afternoon, the succession plan had been scrapped. Rosenstein, who told the White House he was willing to quit if President Trump wouldn’t disparage him, would remain the deputy attorney general in advance of a high-stakes meeting on Thursday to discuss the future of his employment. The other officials, too, would go back to work, facing the prospect that in just days they could be leading the department through a historic crisis.
More Supreme Court Battle
New York Times, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska and a key swing vote, delivered a message: Take the Kavanaugh accusations seriously, Nicholas Fandos, Sept. 25, 2018. Republican Party leaders may be insisting that they will install Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, but Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is offering a blunt warning of her own: Do not prejudge sexual assault allegations against the nominee that will be aired at an extraordinary public hearing on Thursday.
“We are now in a place where it’s not about whether or not Judge Kavanaugh is qualified,” Ms. Murkowski, right, a key swing Republican vote, said in an extended interview in the Capitol Monday night. “It is about whether or not a woman who has been a victim at some point in her life is to be believed.”
New York Times, Trump Accuses Democrats of Running ‘Con Game’ Against Kavanaugh, Mark Landler and Peter Baker, Sept. 25, 2018. Speaking in New York, President Trump disparaged a woman who accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her, saying she was “messed up” and “drunk” at the time.
President Trump accused Democrats of orchestrating “a con game” against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh in hopes of blocking his ascension to the Supreme Court and said that one of two women who have accused the nominee of misconduct as a student was “messed up” and “drunk” at the time.
Dispensing again with the restraint that advisers have urged him to exercise, Mr. Trump went beyond defending Judge Kavanaugh into attack mode, saying that Democrats were “making him into something he’s not” as part of a strategy to “delay and obstruct” his confirmation.
“I think it’s horrible what the Democrats have done. It’s a con game,” he said while in New York for the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly. “They’re playing a con game,” the president repeated, and added, “They’re playing actually much better than the Republicans.”
Mr. Trump singled out the latest accuser, Deborah Ramirez, right, who said in an interview with The New Yorker that Judge Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a drinking party at Yale University. “She was totally messed up,” Mr. Trump said. “The second accuser has nothing,” he added. “She admits she was drunk.”
Washington Post, White House open to testimony from second Kavanaugh accuser, Sanders says, John Wagner, Sept. 25, 2018. Deborah Ramirez alleges that the Supreme Court nominee exposed himself at a party when both were Yale University students.
Fox host Martha MacCallum, left, interviews Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his wife Ashley Kavanaugh, a former Bush White House staffer, during a Sept. 24 Fox interview
Washington Post, Kavanaugh, in emotional interview on Fox News, says he has no intention of bowing out, Sean Sullivan, Seung Min Kim and John Wagner, Sept. 25, 2018. The nationally televised interview marked a new tactic for Brett M. Kavanaugh, who has mostly avoided media attention since being accused of sexual assault.
Washington Post, Analysis: Brett Kavanaugh’s Fox News interview transcript, annotated, Aaron Blake, Sept. 25, 2018 (print edition). Facing multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, Brett Kavanaugh took an unusual step for a Supreme Court nominee on Monday night: Appearing on television. Kavanaugh’s Fox News interview included repeated references to wanting a fair process as he disputes allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez.
Appearing next to his wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, he also asserted he had never been blackout drunk and that he was a virgin until “many years” after high school. Below is the full transcript, with annotations and analysis in yellow.
Washington Post, Three Yale Law School classmates who endorsed Kavanaugh call for investigation into sexual misconduct claims, Elise Viebeck, Sept. 25, 2018. Three former Yale Law School classmates who endorsed Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh called Tuesday for an investigation into allegations by two women that he engaged in sexual misconduct in the 1980s.
Kent Sinclair, Douglas Rutzen and Mark Osler were among roughly two dozen of Kavanaugh’s law school classmates who lauded Kavanaugh’s qualifications in an Aug. 27 letter to leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Their support for an investigation came as Yale Law professor Akhil Amar, right — who taught Kavanaugh and testified on his behalf before the committee this month — also called for a probe into what he described as “serious accusations” from the women.
Washington Post, Conservatives rally in bid to get Kavanaugh nomination across the finish line, Robert Costa, Sept. 25, 2018. Rather than tread cautiously amid sexual assault allegations and the #MeToo movement, conservative forces have gone on the offensive — speaking darkly of a Democratic smear campaign and attacking the credibility of Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh’s accusers.
New York Times, Opinion: Judge Kavanaugh’s “golden résumé” has turned into a lead weight, our columnist writes, Carl Hulse, Sept. 25, 2018. President Trump thinks Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh has the perfect pedigree for a spot on the Supreme Court.
“They were saying it 10 years ago about him: He was born for the Supreme Court,” Mr. Trump exclaimed over the weekend at a rally in Missouri. “He was born for it. And it’s going to happen.”
At the moment of his nomination, Judge Kavanaugh, shown at right, did truly seem like a test-tube version of a Republican Supreme Court nominee. The right schools. The right friends. The right clerkships. The right mentors. The right White House experience. The right appeals court slot. Republican senators said he might be the most qualified nominee ever. It was all set.
Right up until it wasn’t. Now, with his confirmation in such jeopardy that he felt compelled to defend himself in a Fox News television interview on Monday, some of the glittery inside-the-Beltway aspects of his résumé that made him so appealing to his enthusiastic supporters are putting his ascension to the country’s top court in doubt.
Start with Judge Kavanaugh’s schooling, a period that has given rise to the most serious threat to his confirmation: accusations of sexual misconduct. He is the product of the elite Georgetown Preparatory School just outside Washington, as well as Yale University and Yale Law School, proven incubators of Supreme Court justices. Degrees from those institutions are treated as strong evidence of academic rigor and excellence.
But accusations from two women who say they were subjected to sexual assault by Judge Kavanaugh during his years at the schools have exposed a dark side of such privileged education. “He has a golden résumé, but appears to be a deeply flawed nominee,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, who sits on the Judiciary Committee.
The Intercept, Analysis: How One Senator Cornered Brett Kavanaugh About His Mentor’s Sexually Explicit Emails, Akela Lacy, Ryan Grim, Sept. 25, 2018. Two days from now, Brett Kavanaugh will resume testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. As a confirmation vote looms as early as Friday or Saturday, the question of his credibility has never been more critical.
Throughout his confirmation process, Kavanaugh has consistently denied knowledge of his mentor Judge Alex Kozinski’s years of sexual harassment, for which he was finally brought down in December 2017.[The judge, regarded as a feeder to right-wing Supreme Court justice clerkships, is shown in a file photo.]
The news, Kavanaugh told the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath, was a “gut punch.”
Under follow-up questioning from Sens. Mazie Hirono and Chris Coons, Democrats from Hawaii and Delaware respectively, he expanded his denials to include any knowledge of the email list Kozinski used to distribute pornography and off-color jokes to court employees. That denial is crucial, because if it’s false, it demonstrates that Kavanaugh lied about what he knew of Kozinski’s behavior. And that he’s still lying.
And the answer is knowable. Following the hearing, Coons asked Kavanaugh a set of direct written questions that was met with a tellingly vague response.
New York Times, Mormon Women’s Group Calls for Probe of Allegations Against Kavanaugh, Elizabeth Dias, Sept. 25, 2018. As turmoil grows over sexual misconduct allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, casting doubts over his confirmation to the Supreme Court, a group of Mormon women is calling on senators to suspend his confirmation proceedings until a thorough investigation is completed.
The Mormon Women for Ethical Government, an activist women’s group formed in response to President Trump’s election, issued a statement on Monday aimed at influencing the four Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee who are also members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are: Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee of Utah, Jeff Flake of Arizona, left, and Mike Crapo of Idaho.
“Sexual assault must not be normalized or condoned in any way or by anyone, especially those charged with political leadership,” the group said in the statement, which they sent to the four senators and to others on Monday. “We boldly condemn any attempts to justify such inexcusable and reprehensible behavior and demand that our elected leaders set a morally sound example.”
Washington Post, White House hit with one-two punch over Kavanaugh and Rosenstein, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 25, 2018 (print edition). As President Trump simmers over the “molasses-like” pace of the confirmation of his Supreme Court nominee, officials are also grappling with the uncertain job status of the deputy attorney general.
Washington Post, Analysis: Kavanaugh’s Fox News interview risks contributing to a credibility gap, James Hohmann, Sept. 25, 2018. The Supreme Court nominee’s memory of himself is very different from his portrayal in a yearbook. That could undercut his denials about bigger things.
Brett Kavanaugh did more than just emphatically reject the allegations of sexual assault from Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez during an interview with Fox News on Monday. President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court portrayed his teenage self as a sort of 1980s version of Wally Cleaver, the good kid on the sitcom “Leave it to Beaver.”
“I went to an all-boys Catholic high school where I was focused on academics and athletics, going to church every Sunday … working on my service projects and friendship — friendship with my fellow classmates and friendship with girls from the local all-girls Catholic schools. … I’ve always treated women with dignity and respect
Washington Post, Ted Cruz and wife shouted out of D.C. restaurant over his support for Kavanaugh, Avi Selk, Sept. 25, 2018. The senator and his wife were ambushed inside an upscale Washington restaurant. The chanting never stopped. “We believe the survivors!”
Trump At UN
Washington Post, In speech at the U.N., Trump rejects constraints imposed by other nations, says U.S. will act to counter ‘global control,’ David Nakamura and Anne Gearan, Sept. 25, 2018. President Trump, shown above in a file photo, issued a sharp warning to the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela and China over what he described as their rogue behavior. But he also made clear that the United States would not be bound in its affairs by the consensus among traditional allies and partners.
Washington Post, The Fix: World leaders stumble upon a potent response to Trump’s claims — laughter, Aaron Blake, Sept. 25, 2018. President Trump has made more than 5,000 false or misleading claims since being inaugurated. The question journalists often ask themselves is whether he even realizes it. On the rare occasion when he puts himself in a position to answer for his falsehoods, he has declined to defend them and blamed it on something he had heard. Trump’s aides have privately vented that he does not seem to be moored by real-world facts, even when they are explained to him repeatedly.
But on Tuesday, Trump got subtly called out for a whopper he often tells — and by his fellow world leaders, no less.
Appearing at the United Nations, Trump recycled a bogus claim he often makes at partisan rallies, in Fox News interviews and in formal settings: that he has accomplished more to this point in his presidency than his predecessors. The problem is this time he said it in front of an audience that might actually question it.
Washington Post, Analysis: Trump cuts a lonely figure at the U.N., Ishaan Tharoor, Sept. 25, 2018. On his return to the U.N. General Assembly, President Trump (shown in a Pentagon file photo) will surprise few world leaders with his sharp rhetoric. His speech today is expected to underscore a now-familiar message: American sovereignty and supremacy are not to be challenged, nor is Washington’s right to act unilaterally on the world stage.
Washington Post, Trump accused Germany of becoming ‘totally dependent’ on Russian energy at the U.N. The Germans just smirked, Rick Noack, Sept. 25, 2018. Out of President Trump’s speech at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, it probably won’t be the script that will be remembered by diplomats but, rather, world leaders’ laughter, caught on camera and shared in viral videos.
One of them captured the amused reactions of the German delegation as Trump said: “Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course. Here in the Western Hemisphere, we are committed to maintaining our independence from the encroachment of expansionist foreign powers.”
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas could be seen smirking alongside his colleagues.
It wasn’t the first time Trump had lashed out at Germany over its gas imports from Russia.
#MeToo Scandal: German Catholics
Washington Post, German report documents more than 3,600 abuse cases within the Catholic Church, Luisa Beck and Chico Harlan, Sept. 25, 2018. A report to be released Tuesday documents the sexual abuse of more than 3,600 people by 1,670 clergy members within Germany’s Catholic Church over a period of 68 years — and even those numbers probably underestimate the scale of the problem, the authors say.
Abuse of that magnitude constitutes one of the largest Catholic Church scandals in Europe. But at the same time, it is not altogether surprising to many church watchers. Evidence of widespread abuse and its coverup has been found in every jurisdiction that has launched an investigation. Australia, Chile and several U.S. states are part of the growing list.
The German report, commissioned by the German Bishops’ Conference and conducted by researchers from three German universities, provides a snapshot not only of abuse but of the trauma and isolation faced by victims long afterward.
Famed Model’s Rape Reveal
New York Times, Opinion: I Was Raped at 16 and I Kept Silent, Padma Lakshmi, Sept. 25, 2018. Ms. Lakshmi (shown below in her Twitter photo) is an A.C.L.U. ambassador for immigration and women’s rights. I understand why a woman would wait years to disclose a sexual assault.
When I was 16 years old, I started dating a guy I met at the Puente Hills Mall in a Los Angeles suburb. I worked there after school at the accessories counter at Robinsons-May. He worked at a high-end men’s store. He would come in wearing a gray silk suit and flirt with me. He was in college, and I thought he was charming and handsome. He was 23.
When we went out, he would park the car and come in and sit on our couch and talk to my mother. He never brought me home late on a school night. We were intimate to a point, but he knew that I was a virgin and that I was unsure of when I would be ready to have sex.
On New Year’s Eve, just a few months after we first started dating, he raped me.
Trade Wars: Canada
Washington Post, U.S. all but certain to miss deadline to include Canada in new NAFTA deal, David J. Lynch and Damian Paletta, Sept. 25, 2018. The Trump administration appears virtually certain to miss its weekend deadline for reaching agreement with Canada on a new North American trade deal, according to U.S. officials and people close to the talks.
A downbeat U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, right, Tuesday said negotiators are “sort of running out of time” to include Canada in the trade deal with Mexico, which was finalized last month.
The administration wants to notify Congress of its plans for a new North American accord by Sunday to meet a timetable permitting the current Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, to sign it on his final day in office November 30.
Justice Integrity Project: Deputy Attorney Gen. Rod Rosenstein left the White House shortly after 1 p.m. (Eastern Time) on Sept. 24 apparently still holding office despite prominent news reports earlier in the day that he been summoned to a meeting either to resign or be fired in the wake of reporting that he had expressed disloyalty to President Trump. Rosenstein had issued two statements Friday disputing that report in the New York Times, saying his words were sarcastic humor.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, right, made the extraordinary gesture of escorting Rosenstein out to the street to a car and shaking the deputy attorney general’s hand in the view of television cameras. Rosenstein appeared to have a slight smile then as he walked several steps to enter a waiting car.
NBC News Justice Department correspondent Pete Williams, a former Justice Department spokesman during the George W. Bush administration, speculated that Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions will almost certainly be forced out after the mid-term elections in order to exert more control over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 elections and related matters.
Relevant news reports before the meeting are excerpted below, with full details following major developments on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Washington Post, Rod Rosenstein, who had been overseeing Russia probe, has offered to resign, Devlin Barrett, Ashley Parker and Carol D. Leonnig, Sept. 24, 2018. Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein has told White House officials he is willing to resign in the wake of revelations he once suggested secretly recording the president, but it’s unclear if the resignation has been accepted, according to people familiar with the matter.
New York Times, Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General, Is Expected to Leave Job, Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Sept. 24, 2018. Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, was expected to leave days after private discussions were revealed in which he talked about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office. Mr. Rosenstein was the top Justice Department official overseeing the Russia investigation, and had been a fierce defender of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel.
High Court Battle
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) screams at his longtime Democratic colleague Pat Leahy of Vermont during the Kavanaugh hearing, in which Leahy and other Democrats have accused the nominee of perjuring himself by denying use of stolen Democratic Senate documents (screenshot).
Palmer Report, Opinion: What did they know about Brett Kavanaugh and when did they know it? Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 24, 2018. This evening we learned, thanks to Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer of the New Yorker, that unnamed “Senior Republican staffers” became aware last week that their Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had a second accuser named Deborah Ramirez. We also know that in response, the GOP decided to push harder to advance the confirmation process even more quickly, in the hope of confirming him before Ramirez’s accusations could become public.
It leads to a crucial question: which Republican Senators knew about this, and when did they know it?
Over the past several days we’ve all seen Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, as well as committee members Orrin Hatch and Lindsey Graham, publicly try to push Dr. Christine Blasey Ford into testifying as soon as humanly possible. They were demanding she testify on Monday. When she said she couldn’t make it there before Thursday, they then demanded that she testify on Wednesday.
While this was going on, Palmer Report pointed out that the Republicans were so afraid of the Kavanaugh nomination imminently slipping away, they were literally afraid to give Ford one more day; we just didn’t know specifically why. Now we do. Certain Republican Senators knew about Ramirez, and they knew she could go public at any minute, and they were racing against time.
So here’s the question. Did the entire GOP Senate know about Ramirez, or were certain GOP Senators like Grassley and Hatch trying to keep this information from potential “no” votes in their own party, such as Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski? (The two are shown on the adjoining photo, with Collins at right.).
Roll Call, Mitch McConnell Reaffirms Vow for Senate to Vote on Kavanaugh, Niels Lesniewski, Sept. 24, 2018. Nothing, it seems, could keep the majority leader from giving the Supreme Court nominee a floor vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not heard anything that should slow confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, pledging to push ahead.
“Judge Kavanaugh will be confirmed,” McConnell, left, said on the Senate floor. He was echoing comments he made Friday, before revelations of additional accusations of sexual assault were leveled at Kavanaugh on Sunday.
The Kentucky Republican started with a fiery opening speech blasting the handling of allegations against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee as a “smear campaign” Monday — just a prelude to Thursday’s main event, the hearing where the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear from both Kavanaugh and one of his accusers, Christine Blasey Ford.
Washington Post, Trump calls sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh ‘totally political,’ vows to back him ‘all the way,’ John Wagner, Sept. 24, 2018. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also weighed in, citing a “vast left-wing conspiracy” against the Supreme Court nominee.
President Trump on Monday dismissed sexual misconduct allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as “totally political” and pledged to support his Supreme Court nominee “all the way.”
Trump’s comments, made as he entered United Nations headquarters in New York, were his first since a report Sunday night on a second allegation of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh, who Trump said is “a man with an unblemished past.”
“There’s a chance that this could be one of the single most unfair, unjust things to happen for a candidate for anything,” Trump told reporters. “For people to come out of the woodwork from 36 years ago and 30 years ago and never mention it, all of a sudden it happens. In my opinion, it’s totally political.”
Protesters against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and police gather in the Russell Senate Office Building on Sept. 24, 2018 (ABC News photo by Brad Fulton via Twitter)
Washington Post, 128 arrested after anti-Kavanaugh protest on Capitol Hill, Justin Wm. Moyer, Sept. 24, 2018. Protests Monday against the confirmation of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill ended with 128 arrests, authorities said.
Winnie Wong, a liberal activist and senior adviser to the Women’s March, said one protest began on the steps of the Supreme Court around 8:30 a.m. before moving to the office of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who some believe can be persuaded to vote against Kavanaugh.
After some demonstrators shared stories of sexual assault, about two dozen were arrested outside Collins’s office, Wong said, before protesters moved on to the office of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a critic of President Trump who is retiring and is seen by some as another possible “no” vote on the nominee.
The protest eventually moved to the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building. Women in Yale University sweatshirts — Kavanaugh attended law school there — shouted, “We believe the women.”
“This is a group effort led by seasoned activists and organizers,” Wong said. “We are close to victory.”
Ady Barkan, an activist who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and was among those arrested, said protests would continue until Kavanaugh withdrew. “The fact that we are going to win and that Kavanaugh will not be confirmed is proof of how important it is to always fight even when people say there is no chance of winning,” he said.
Palmer Report, Two of Brett Kavanaugh’s defenders withdraw their support, Bill Palmer, Sept. 24, 2018. Now that Deborah Ramirez has become the second Brett Kavanaugh accuser to identify herself by name, it’s prompted two of Kavanaugh’s defenders to withdraw their support. Kavanaugh’s legal team had issued a statement signed by six of his former classmates, all of whom were defending him. But now two of them are making clear that they no longer want anything to do with the statement.
Ronan Farrow revealed just now that Louisa Garry and Dino Ewing, who both signed the statement supporting Brett Kavanaugh, have “approached The New Yorker after the publication of this article and asked that their names be removed from it.” Garry is saying “I cannot dispute Ramirez’s allegations, as I was not present.” Ewing is saying that “I also was not present and therefore am not in a position to directly dispute Ramirez’s account.” So how does this change things?
For one thing, Louisa Garry has been appearing in television commercials in support of the Kavanaugh nomination, so it’s a huge blow that she’s abandoning him. And as Farrow points out in his update, the only people still standing by the pro-Kavanaugh statement are two guys who are accused of having participated in the Kavanaugh-Ramirez incident, the wife of one of the guys, and one other classmate. In other words this “statement of support” is now a lot closer to being a denial from the other people who have been accused.
New York Times, Kavanaugh’s Yearbook Page Is ‘Horrible, Hurtful’ to a Woman It Named, Kate Kelly and David Enrich, Sept. 24, 2018. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and some of his high school friends described themselves in a yearbook as “Renate” alumni. The woman, Renate Schroeder Dolphin, was unaware of these references when she signed a letter defending the judge’s character this month.
Brett Kavanaugh’s page in his high school yearbook offers a glimpse of the teenage years of the man who is now President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee: lots of football, plenty of drinking, parties at the beach. Among the reminiscences about sports and booze is a mysterious entry: “Renate Alumnius.”
The word “Renate” appears at least 14 times in Georgetown Preparatory School’s 1983 yearbook, on individuals’ pages and in a group photo of nine football players, including Judge Kavanaugh, who were described as the “Renate Alumni.” It is a reference to Renate Schroeder, then a student at a nearby Catholic girls’ school.
Two of Judge Kavanaugh’s classmates say the mentions of Renate were part of the football players’ unsubstantiated boasting about their conquests.
“They were very disrespectful, at least verbally, with Renate,” said Sean Hagan, a Georgetown Prep student at the time, referring to Judge Kavanaugh and his teammates. “I can’t express how disgusted I am with them, then and now.”
CNN, Ronan Farrow details new allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, CNN host John Berman interviews New Yorker writer Ronan Farrow, Sept. 24, 2018 (video: 6:29 min. video). The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow discusses his article about a second woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of inappropriate sexual behavior. Kavanaugh has denied all accusations made against
USA Today, What we know about Deborah Ramirez, the second woman to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual assault, William Cummings, Sept. 24, 2018. A second woman came forward Sunday to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a decades-old sexual assault, the same day his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, committed to testifying about her own allegations before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Here’s what we know about Kavanaugh’s second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, and her allegations:
Ramirez (shown at right in a portrait by Benjamin Rasmussen for The New Yorker) alleged in an article in The New Yorker magazine that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party when they were both freshmen at Yale University.
According to Ramirez, she and Kavanaugh were among a small group of students playing a drinking game in a dorm room in the university’s Lawrence Hall when the alleged incident occurred. Ramirez said the game quickly led to her intoxication. She recalls being on the floor and slurring her words when she alleges a male student exposed himself and shoved his penis in her face. She said she pushed the man away, touching him in the process.
She alleged she remembered Kavanaugh pulling up his pants and laughing. Ramirez told The New Yorker the incident left her “embarrassed and ashamed and humiliated.” Ramirez told The New Yorker that she was initially reluctant to come forward because she was intoxicated when the alleged incident occurred and “her memories contained gaps.”
Ramirez, 53, was raised a “devout Catholic” in Connecticut, according to The New Yorker. She currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.
Ramirez studied sociology and psychology at Yale, where she graduated in 1987, along with Kavanaugh. NBC News reports that she is a board member and volunteer at Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence, an organization that helps victims of domestic violence.
Vanity Fair, “The Strategy Was to Try and Do Something Really Big”: Trump Wanted to Nuke Rosenstein to Save Kavanaugh’s Bacon, Gabriel Sherman, Sept. 24, 2018. At the beginning of one of the most consequential weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, an enormous smoke bomb was detonated in the news cycle when Axios, deeply wired in Trump’s West Wing, reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had resigned.
Quickly, a head-spinning array of conflicting accounts were put forth: had he been fired? Was he heading to the White House to be fired—or was he going to a regularly scheduled meeting? Finally, Sarah Huckabee Sanders brought a measure of clarity by tweeting that whatever was going to happen to Rosenstein would happen on Thursday, when the president returned from New York.
The confusion surrounding Rosenstein’s tenure may not give Kavanaugh a reprieve. In public, Trump continues to voice support for his embattled Supreme Court nominee, telling reporters at the United Nations earlier this morning that he stands with Kavanaugh “all the way.” But in private, Trump is growing increasingly frustrated by being mired in a deteriorating political situation beyond his control. On Monday morning, a Republican briefed on Trump’s thinking said the president has been considering pulling Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is considering pulling the Brett Kavanaugh nomination, Bill Palmer, Sept. 24, 2018. Over the past sixteen hours, multiple additional women have come forward to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of everything from sexual assault to serial gang rape. Even as the accusations continue to become more ugly, and the number of accusers continued to grow, Kavanaugh has released a statement this afternoon insisting that he will not withdraw from the nomination process. But behind the scenes, Donald Trump is saying something rather different.
Earlier today, Palmer Report explained how Trump and his White House managed to manipulate the media cycle by floating a phony story about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein having resigned or having been fired. This was clearly aimed at distracting the media from the worsening Kavanaugh accusations. After the whole thing rather quickly unraveled, the White House admitted in an official statement that Rosenstein still had his job. Now Vanity Fair is echoing our premise that the phony Rosenstein narrative was indeed a last ditch effort at saving the Kavanaugh nomination – but they have an additional tidbit to go with it.
Here’s the key passage from the Vanity Fair expose: “On Monday morning, a Republican briefed on Trump’s thinking said the president has been considering pulling Kavanaugh’s nomination.” Keep in mind that we wouldn’t be reading a sentence like this unless Trump and/or the Republican in question wanted this out there. So either Trump is already trying to hedge his bets by floating the fact that he’s considering yanking Kavanaugh, or the GOP is trying to nudge Trump into yanking Kavanaugh by revealing that Trump is already considering it.
In any case, if Brett Kavanaugh does end up withdrawing, he’ll continue to publicly insist he’s sticking with the nomination right up until the minute he withdraws. So his denial doesn’t tell us anything, beyond the fact that things have gotten so ugly for him, he felt compelled to issue a denial today.
ABC News 7 correspondent Wayne Freedman, right, interviews James Roche, former Yale College freshman roommate of Brett Kavanaugh
ABC News 7, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s Yale roommate says he believes second accuser, Wayne Freedman, Sept. 24, 2018. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s roommate from Yale says he believes the second woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.
Twitter: “Just spoke with #JamesRoche who was Yale roommate of Brett #Kavanaugh. He confirms that the #SCOTUS nominee was frequently drunk, and incoherently. Says he supports integrity of Debbie Ramirez, the 2nd accuser. #abc7now #KavanaughConfirmation Respects her courage.”
James Roche says he was Kavanaugh’s roommate in the Fall of 1983. “We shared a two-bedroom unit in the basement of Lawrence Hall on the Old Campus. Despite our living conditions, Brett and I did not socialize beyond the first few days of freshman year. We talked at night as freshman roommates do and I would see him as he returned from nights out with his friends,” Roche said in a statement.
“It is from this experience that I concluded that although Brett was normally reserved, he was a notably heavy drinker, even by the standards of the time, and that he became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk. I did not observe the specific incident in question, but I do remember Brett frequently drinking excessively and becoming incoherently drunk.”
Washington Post, ‘How’d you find me?’: Mark Judge has been holed up in a beach house in Delaware amid a media firestorm, Gabriel Pogrund, Carol D. Leonnig and Aaron C. Davis, Sept. 24, 2015. Mark Judge has been conspicuously absent for more than a week: Named as the only witness to an alleged sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, he has not been seen and has said little beyond a statement released by a lawyer saying he recalled no such incident.
A high school friend of Kavanaugh’s, Judge has been absent from his Maryland residence for days as Democratic lawmakers and accuser Christine Blasey Ford have demanded that Republicans summon him before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer questions under oath.
On Monday, a Washington Post reporter found Judge, shown in a file photo, holed up in the house of a longtime friend in Bethany Beach, nearly three hours away. A car in the driveway contained piles of clothing, a collection of Superman comics and a package addressed to Judge at the Potomac home where he lived three years ago.
Barbara “Biz” VanGelder, Judge’s lawyer, said she instructed him to leave the D.C. area last week because of an onslaught of criticism and media questions. At the time, the conservative blogger’s life and writings were beginning to come under scrutiny, leading to charges of misogyny and worse.
Judge, 54, has chronicled the debauchery of his 1980s high school years as a student at Georgetown Prep, where he and Kavanaugh were self-proclaimed members of the “100 Kegs or Bust” club.
False Alarm On Rosenstein Firing?
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (File photo)
Washington Post, Rosenstein to stay as deputy attorney general, will meet with Trump, Devlin Barrett, Ashley Parker, Carol D. Leonnig and Rosalind S. Helderman, Sept. 24, 2018. The two men will meet Thursday, the White House press secretary said, after officials had described a series of private discussions that pointed to Rod J. Rosenstein’s resignation or firing.
See earlier stories on Monday morning:
Washington Post, Rod Rosenstein, who had been overseeing Russia probe, has offered to resign, Devlin Barrett, Ashley Parker and Carol D. Leonnig, Sept. 24, 2018. Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein has told White House officials he is willing to resign in the wake of revelations he once suggested secretly recording the president, but it’s unclear if the resignation has been accepted, according to people familiar with the matter.
One Justice Department official said Rosenstein was on his way to the White House Monday and is preparing to be fired.
Rosenstein had been overseeing the investigation of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, right, who is probing Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates conspired with those efforts. It wasn’t immediately clear what Rosenstein’s departure might mean for that investigation, or who now would oversee it, though that role could naturally fall to Solicitor General Noel Francisco.
Editor’s Note: As of Monday shortly after noon (Eastern Time), MSNBC commentators provided varied perspectives on the implications.
NBC Justice Department reporter Pete Williams said Rosenstein could be resigning, could be fired or could be summoned for a “dressing down” by the White House on Monday morning in a meeting with Chief of Staff John Kelly, left. Williams said that Rosenstein appears to have continued acting as deputy attorney general during a meeting of peers after meeting with Kelly.
Earlier, former Obama Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Rosenstein’s departure could seriously thwart Special Counsel Robert Mueller III’s investigation of the Trump Administration and lead to his firing. By contrast, former Bush Justice Department official Paul Rosensweig said Mueller could proceed with his work even if Rosenstein is ousted.
MSNBC contributor Robert Costa said that a firing could be used as evidence of obstruction of justice in Mueller’s probe, whereas a resignation would not necessarily carry that implication. Trump was at Trump Tower in New York City preparing for meetings at the United Nations.
New York Times, Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General, Is Expected to Leave Job, Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Sept. 24, 2018. Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, was expected to leave days after private discussions were revealed in which he talked about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office. Mr. Rosenstein was the top Justice Department official overseeing the Russia investigation, and had been a fierce defender of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel.
Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, was planning on Monday to leave his job at the Justice Department, days after private discussions were revealed in which he talked about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office and secretly taping him to expose chaos in the administration.
It was not immediately clear whether he expected to be fired by Mr. Trump or whether he planned to resign. Justice Department officials said on Monday morning that he was on his way to the White House expecting to be fired. But over the weekend, Mr. Rosenstein called a White House official and said he was considering quitting, and a person close to the White House said he was resigning.
[Read New York Times, Rosenstein Suggested Secretly Recording Trump and Discussed 25th Amendment, Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt, Sept. 21, 2018.]
It was also unclear whether Mr. Trump would accept a resignation that would likely thrust the administration into further turmoil just weeks before November’s midterm elections. As the top Justice Department official overseeing the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, Mr. Rosenstein had long been the target of Mr. Trump’s bitter grievance about what he calls a politically motivated witch hunt.
Mr. Rosenstein had been a fierce defender of Mr. Mueller, repeatedly refusing to consider firing him despite accusations by Mr. Trump and his allies that the special counsel is part of a Democratic conspiracy to undermine his presidency. His departure prompted immediate questions about whether Mr. Trump would seek next to topple Mr. Mueller, a move he tried to orchestrate last year, only to be talked down by his White House counsel.
Roll Call, Meet Noel Francisco, the Conservative Supreme Court Litigator Who Could Take Over Oversight of Mueller Investigation, Niels Lesniewski, Sept. 24, 2018. If Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is ousted Monday, oversight of the special counsel investigation of Russian activity will most likely fall to Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco.
Francisco, shown at right, a former partner at the Jones Day law firm in Washington, is the next Senate-confirmed Justice Department official in line to oversee the probe led by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller. However, there is an open question about Francisco’s role in such a situation, because of a possible conflict dating from his time at Jones Day.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions previously recused himself from involvement.
New Book On Alleged Russian Election Interference
The New Yorker, How Russia Helped Swing the Election for Trump, Jane Mayer (right), Sept. 24, 2018 (Oct. 1 Issue). Book review: Kathleen Hall Jamieson, of Penn, has done a forensic examination of the campaign;.A meticulous analysis of online activity during the 2016 campaign makes a powerful case that targeted cyberattacks by hackers and trolls were decisive.
Donald Trump has adopted many contradictory positions since taking office, but he has been unwavering on one point: that Russia played no role in putting him in the Oval Office. Trump dismisses the idea that Russian interference affected the outcome of the 2016 election, calling it a “made-up story,” “ridiculous,” and “a hoax.”
He finds the subject so threatening to his legitimacy that — according to “The Perfect Weapon,” a recent book on cyber sabotage by David Sanger, of the Times — aides say he refuses even to discuss it. In public, Trump has characterized all efforts to investigate the foreign attacks on American democracy during the campaign as a “witch hunt”; in March, he insisted that “the Russians had no impact on our votes whatsoever.”
Few people, including Trump’s opponents, have publicly challenged the widespread belief that no obtainable evidence can prove that Russian interference changed any votes.
Politicians may be too timid to explore the subject, but a new book from, of all places, Oxford University Press promises to be incendiary. “Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President — What We Don’t, Can’t, and Do Know,” by Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor of communications at the University of Pennsylvania, dares to ask — and even attempts to answer — whether Russian meddling had a decisive impact in 2016. Jamieson offers a forensic analysis of the available evidence and concludes that Russia very likely delivered Trump’s victory.
The book, which is coming out less than two months before the midterm elections, at a moment when polls suggest that some sixty per cent of voters disapprove of Trump, may well reignite the question of Trump’s electoral legitimacy.
JFK Research: New Book
JFKcountercoup, Review of Gail Nix Jackson’s book ‘Pieces of the Puzzle,’ Bill Kelly, Sept. 24, 2018. Gayle Nix Jackson adds some previously missing pieces of the Dealey Plaza picture in her book Pieces of the Puzzle, an important new book on the assassination.
As the late Jim Marrs says, “Some people believe that there’s nothing left to say about JFK’s assassination. They couldn’t be more wrong. There are still people alive who were there and who were witnesses to the goings on in Dallas and beyond.” Gayle has found these people and talked to them and that’s what good investigative reporters do: they go to the source. In a time where so many JFK books are nothing more than recycled stories everyone has heard, Gayle brings us new information about people we’ve heard about but never knew. Now we do.”
As Gayle Nix Jackson’s second book on the assassination, after one on her grandfather’s film, this is an anthology with chapters written by James Wagenvoord, Doug Campbell, Steve Roe and Chris Scally. So there is more than one dimension to this book.
Global Affairs: Russia & Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin flanked by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu (file photo)
Axios, Russia to supply Syria with S-300 missiles in rebuke of Israel, Barak Ravid of Israel’s Channel 10, Sept. 24, 2018. One week after a Russian plane was accidentally shot down by Syrian missiles launched at Israeli fighter jets [killing 15 Russian military personnel], Russia has announced it will supply the Syrian army with sophisticated S-300 surface-to-air missiles.
Why it matters: Israel has asked the Russians for many years to avoid supplying S-300 missiles to Syria because it could limit the Israeli air force’s freedom of operation in Syria. The Russian announcement threatens to break the coordination mechanism between the two countries in Syria and unravel what was thought to be a close relationship between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The latest developments:
Israel sent the commander of its air force to Moscow to provide the Russians with information about the incident. The Israelis made clear the Syrians shot down the Russian plane long after Israeli jets left the area.
The Russian investigation concluded that while Israel did not shoot down the plane, it was still responsible for the incident. The Russians claimed the Israelis didn’t observe the coordination agreements between the two militaries — and their airstrike in Syria put the Russian plane in danger.
Today, the Russian minister of defense announced a series of new military steps in Syria. In addition to providing the S-300 missiles, Russia will equip the Syrian air defenses with automated control systems to guarantee that all Russian planes are identified by the Syrians. Russia will also provide the technology to jam satellite navigation, airborne radars and communication systems of Israeli fighter jets that conduct airstrikes along the Syrian coast.
Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu said today that Russia agreed in 2013 to an Israeli request not to supply the missiles to Syria, but added that after the incident, “things have changed and it isn’t Russia’s fault.” He stressed that he is convinced the new Russian measures “will cool down the hotheads [in Israel] and prevent ill-considered actions threatening Russian soldiers.”
Putin spoke on the phone with Netanyahu today, shown in a file photo, and told him that the Russian decision to supply Syria with the missiles was appropriate in order to protect the security of Russian troops. Putin added that the actions taken by the Israeli Air Force had a central role in the tragedy of the Russian plane.
Putin also told Netanyahu the information supplied by the Israeli Air Force about the downing of the Russian plane doesn’t coincide with the conclusions of the Russian Ministry of Defense.
What’s next: Over the last few years, the Israeli air force has prepared for the possibility of Syria getting S-300s from the Russians. Nevertheless, Israel will have to be calculated and careful when conducting any future airstrikes against Iranian or Hezbollah targets in Syria.
This crisis was a test of the close relationship between Putin and Netanyahu. Today’s announcement shows Putin chose to side with his generals and not with Netanyahu.
Roll Call, Kavanaugh Has Bumpy Week Ahead as Two More Women Come Forward, Todd Ruger, Sen. Dianne Feinstein calls for stop to the confirmation process. Sept. 23, 2018.
Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who rose to fame by aggressively taking on President Donald Trump on behalf of his client Stormy Daniels, tweeted that he had another woman with an allegation who will be demanding that Kavanaugh’s nomination be withdrawn:
“We are aware of significant evidence of multiple house parties in the Washington, D.C., area during the 1980s” during which Kavanaugh and others “would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs in order to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them,” Avenatti wrote. Avenatti, left, said he would provide additional evidence in the coming days.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, right, the committee’s top Democrat, wrote a letter to Grassley on Sunday asking to stop the confirmation process.“
“I also ask that the newest allegations of sexual misconduct be referred to the FBI for investigation, and that you join our request for the White House to direct the FBI to investigate the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford as well as these new claims,” Feinstein said.
New York Times, Christine Blasey Ford Reaches Deal to Testify at Kavanaugh Hearing, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sept. 23, 2018. The woman who has accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers has committed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, her lawyers said on Sunday. The lawyers said some details — including whether an outside lawyer will question her — still needed to be resolved, but that those issues would not impede holding a hearing.
The agreement, reached after an hourlong negotiating session Sunday morning between the lawyers and committee aides, is the latest step in a halting process toward a potentially explosive hearing that will pit the woman, Christine Blasey Ford, against Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump’s second nominee to the Supreme Court. On Saturday, the two sides reached a tentative agreement for Dr. Ford, shown right in a file photo, to appear on Thursday.
The on-again, off-again talks — with an appointment to the nation’s highest court in the balance — have consumed official Washington, and thrown confirmation proceedings for Judge Kavanaugh, who has vigorously denied Dr. Ford’s allegations, into turmoil. Until last week, Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation seemed all but assured; that is no longer the case.
The New Yorker, Senate Democrats Investigate a New Sexual-Misconduct Allegation Against Brett Kavanaugh, Ronan Farrow (shown at right) and Jane Mayer, Sept. 23, 2018. Deborah Ramirez, a Yale classmate of the Supreme Court nominee, has described a dormitory party gone awry and a drunken incident that she wants the F.B.I. to investigate.
As Senate Republicans press for a swift vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Senate Democrats are investigating a new allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh. The claim dates to the 1983-84 academic school year, when Kavanaugh (shown in his prep school yearbook photo as a senior) was a freshman at Yale University.
The offices of at least four Democratic senators have received information about the allegation, and at least two have begun investigating it. Senior Republican staffers also learned of the allegation last week and, in conversations with The New Yorker, expressed concern about its potential impact on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Soon after, Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote. The Democratic Senate offices reviewing the allegations believe that they merit further investigation.
The woman at the center of the story, Deborah Ramirez, who is fifty-three, attended Yale with Kavanaugh, where she studied sociology and psychology. Later, she spent years working for an organization that supports victims of domestic violence.
The New Yorker contacted Ramirez after learning of her possible involvement in an incident involving Kavanaugh. For Ramirez, the sudden attention has been unwelcome, and prompted difficult choices.
After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away. Ramirez is now calling for the F.B.I. to investigate Kavanaugh’s role in the incident. “I would think an F.B.I. investigation would be warranted,” she said.
Palmer Report, Opinion: Deborah Ramirez accuses Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct – and a third accuser is on the way, Bill Palmer, Sept. 23, 2018. Deborah Ramirez is accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct toward her when they were students at Yale, in a new expose published tonight by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer in the New Yorker.
This comes shortly after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford formally agreed to testify before the Senate about her attempted rape accusation against Kavanaugh. And in a sign that the floodgates are open, a third woman is now also seeking to testify to the Senate about Kavanaugh.
Yesterday, Michael Avenatti, shown at right, hinted that additional accusers were about to come forward against Kavanaugh. This evening he tweeted that he had retained an unnamed woman as a client, and that she wanted to testify to the Senate about Kavanaugh. When the New Yorker story broke tonight, many observers mistakenly assumed that this was what Avenatti was talking about. But then Avenatti tweeted that his client is not Ramirez.
This means we’re talking about three different women coming forward against Brett Kavanaugh – and the night is still young. Does anyone still believe Mitch McConnell’s claim that he has the votes to confirm this guy?
Roll Call, Kavanaugh Has Bumpy Week Ahead as Two More Women Come Forward, Todd Ruger, Sen. Dianne Feinstein calls for stop to the confirmation process. Sept. 23, 2018. The same day the Senate Judiciary Committee set a hearing about a decadesold allegation of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, more allegations of sexual misdeeds from women in his past emerged to cause more turbulence for Republican efforts to make him a justice.
Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who rose to fame by aggressively taking on President Donald Trump on behalf of his client Stormy Daniels, tweeted that he had another woman with an allegation who will be demanding that Kavanaugh’s nomination be withdrawn.
Within minutes, Senate Judiciary Committee staff sent an email to Avenatti asking for information to promptly start an inquiry. Avenatti responded with a bombshell.
“We are aware of significant evidence of multiple house parties in the Washington, D.C., area during the 1980s” during which Kavanaugh and others “would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs in order to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them,” Avenatti wrote. Avenatti said he would provide additional evidence in the coming days.
Fox News, Fox News Poll: Record number of voters oppose Kavanaugh nomination, Dana Blanton, Sept. 23, 2018. Voter support for Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court is down in the wake of Christine Ford’s assault allegations, as more believe her than him.
Currently, 40 percent of voters would confirm Kavanaugh, while 50 percent oppose him, according to a Fox News poll. Last month, views split 45-46 percent (August 19-21).
The Intercept, Another Kavanaugh accuser, Ryan Grim, Sept. 23, 2018. Senate Republicans spent the last week pushing Christine Blasey Ford to testify on Monday rather than later in the week, as she had asked for.
We now know that they knew a second allegation, from Brett Kavanaugh’s time at Yale, was coming down the pike, so their bickering about the schedule starts to make a lot more sense.
Washington Post, ‘Incredibly frustrated’: Inside the GOP effort to help Kavanaugh survive allegation, Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 23, 2018. In mock questioning sessions, Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh refused to answer some questions that he saw as too personal. The tense preparations underscore the monumental stakes of public testimony from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexual assault. As hearing looms, senators seem unwilling to budge on Kavanaugh.
Just as he did several weeks ago to prepare for his confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court, Brett M. Kavanaugh was back inside a room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building — again facing questioners readying him for a high-stakes appearance in the Senate.
This time, the questions were much different. An array of White House aides, playing the role of various senators on the Judiciary Committee, quizzed Kavanaugh last week about his sex life and other personal matters in an attempt to prepare him for a hearing that would inevitably be uncomfortable.
Washington Post, Opinion: If Republicans don’t get answers, Democrats will in 2019, Jennifer Rubin, right, Sept. 23, 2018. Whether or not Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh gets confirmed to the Supreme Court, there will be plenty of serious questions about the confirmation process that require answers. Assuming Kavanaugh appears at a hearing this week, Democrats can interrogate him. Moreover, all of this could be reviewed next year if Democrats win the majority in either house of Congress (and claim the subpoena power).
Democrats may be keen to focus on the apparent skullduggery that transpired. If the inquiry takes place next year, conservative lawyer Ed Whelan, Mark Judge and any other witnesses who should have participated in the process may be called. There is plenty to look into.
• Who came up with the mistaken-identity scheme?
• Who was aware of it?
• Did someone in the White House approve it?
If this sounds far-fetched, it is because Republicans took the unbelievable step of pressing forward with a nominee against whom there was a credible claim of sexual assault and decided not to conduct a thorough investigation.
What is truly far-fetched is putting Kavanaugh on the court with witnesses out there who haven’t been interviewed and potential avenues to investigate. There is a reason why we should only put on the court individuals about whom there is no ethical questions whatsoever. The way you insure there are no ethical questions is by completing a thorough investigation. This is a recipe for chaos.
Findings of wrongdoing in the confirmation process itself, if serious enough, are grist for impeachment or professional sanctions. (Only one other Supreme Court justice was impeached, Samuel Chase. He escaped removal in 1805.) There may be other crimes (e.g., witness intimidation, obstruction of justice) committed by third parties or Republicans inside the confirmation process. There may be Senate or White House staff whose conduct warrants their termination.
Washington Post, The party of men: Kavanaugh fight risks worsening the GOP’s gender problem, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker and Robert Costa, Sept. 23, 2018. The moment shows the gulf that has emerged between the parties as they navigate America’s cultural reckoning on sexual assault
The Republican Party’s fight to save President Trump’s embattled Supreme Court nominee amid allegations of sexual assault has surfaced deep anxieties over the hypermasculine mind-set that has come to define the GOP in the nation’s roiling gender debate.
Inside Trump World
New York Times, U.S. Aims to Sharply Restrict New Green Cards for Those on Public Aid, Michael D. Shear and Emily Baumgaertner, Sept. 22, 2018. Immigrants who legally use public benefits like food assistance and Section 8 housing vouchers could be denied green cards under new rules. The proposal, aimed at keeping out people the administration deems a drain on the economy, could affect millions of poor immigrants.
Trump administration officials announced Saturday that immigrants who legally use public benefits like food assistance and Section 8 housing vouchers could be denied green cards under new rules aimed at keeping out people the administration deems a drain on the country.
The move could force millions of poor immigrants who rely on public assistance for food and shelter to make a difficult choice between accepting financial help and seeking a green card to live and work legally in the United States.
Older immigrants, many of whom get low-cost prescription drugs through the Medicare Part D program, could also be forced to stop participating in the popular benefits program or risk being deemed a “public charge” who is ineligible for legal resident status.
Washington Post, For Nikki Haley, a lower profile as Trump heads back to the U.N., Anne Gearan and John Hudson, Sept. 23, 2018. When President Trump appears at the annual United Nations gathering this week, Haley will still be a central figure. But her role narrowed as aides with more nationalist agendas gained favor.
New York Times, Kavanaugh Was Supposed to Be a Midterm Boon for G.O.P. Not Anymore, Jonathan Martin, Sept. 23, 2018. No Republican Senate candidate has been as aggressive in using the Supreme Court nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh as a political weapon as Josh Hawley, the Missouri attorney general who is in an intensely tight race against Senator Claire McCaskill.
A former Supreme Court clerk, Mr. Hawley, right, made his first campaign commercial about control of the court, and he assailed Ms. McCaskill for refusing to say if she would support Judge Kavanaugh. And after the accusation of sexual assault against Judge Kavanaugh last week, Mr. Hawley denounced Democrats for staging an “ambush.”
Yet in Missouri and other politically competitive battleground states, leaders in both parties are increasingly doubtful that Mr. Hawley and other Republicans can wield the Kavanaugh nomination as a cudgel without risking unpredictable repercussions in the midterm elections.
U.S. Politics: New Moore Film
The Wrap, How ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ Stacks Up on Michael Moore’s Box Office Record, Jeremy Fuster, Sept. 23, 2018. Once a documentary titan in the mid-2000s, Moore is not attracting as big an audience now.
After months of hype from the provocative director, Michael Moore’s anti-Donald Trump polemic Fahrenheit 11/9 arrived in theaters this weekend. But despite strong reviews from critics and liberal-leaning moviegoers who appreciated Moore’s pull-no-punches take on our current political climate, the film’s box office hasn’t stacked up against Moore’s biggest films.
In an effort to get the film out to the widest audience possible prior to the midterm election in November, Fahrenheit 11/9 eschewed the traditional steady rollout release most documentaries take in favor of a wide release on 1,719 screens. But while independent trackers pegged the film for a $5-7 million opening, the film only grossed $3.1 million for a per screen average of just over $1,800.
While that opening still ranks in the top 15 highest openings for documentaries, other Moore films that have been released on similar screen numbers have performed better. The largest was the 2004 film Fahrenheit 9/11, which opened to $23.9 million on 868 screens and is still the highest grossing documentary of all-time with $119 million domestic.
But even Moore’s 2007 follow-up, Sicko, outperformed 11/9 with $3.6 million from 702 screens, while the 2009 film Capitalism: A Love Story opened to $4.4 million from 962 screens.
Part of the film’s struggle may simply be a lack of interest even with some liberals to see a movie about a U.S. president who has dominated the 24-hour news cycle. It certainly isn’t from a general lack of interest to see documentaries, as the summer box office season saw multiple titles like RBG and Won’t You Be My Neighbor? find success.
“With documentaries, it often just comes down to the subject matter,” said comScore analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “With a film like ‘RBG’ you had a very positive, inspiring story about a Supreme Court Justice, and with so much attention paid to the current political divide, each type of film has to succeed on its own merits while trying to appeal to those beyond its core audience.”
But Steve Bunnell, head of sales for the film’s distributor, Briarcliff Entertainment, is confident the film can still find legs in the weeks between now and the election. He notes that comScore’s PosTrak audience survey reported that 58 percent of opening weekend audiences for Moore’s film said they would “definitely recommend” the film, nearly matching the 59 percent for Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
“I think audiences are reacting positively to the fact that Moore isn’t just talking about Trump,” Bunnell told TheWrap. “He also talks about the Democrats and Obama and even has some criticism for them too. I think the people who saw this movie are going to encourage others to see it, and it’s going to become more topical as the election gets closer.”
All 10 Michael Moore Documentary Features Ranked, Including ‘Fahrenheit 11/9‘ (Photos)
More Kavanaugh Fallout In GOP Circles
Politico, Ed Whelan taking ‘leave of absence’ after posting Kavanaugh theory, Quint Forgey, Sept. 23, 2018. The Ethics and Public Policy Center announced Sunday that its president, Ed Whelan, right, “will take a leave of absence” from the conservative Washington think tank after peddling a conspiracy theory on social media last week related to a sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Following a special phone-in meeting of the EPPC board on Friday after Whelan’s Twitter screed, he offered to resign “in light of what he described as an ‘appalling and inexcusable’ error in posting online a series of comments that he has now deleted and for which he promptly publicly apologized,” the organization said in a statement.
The board declined Whelan’s offer to step down permanently, according to the statement, and the EPPC’s vice president, Yuval Levin, “will be in charge” during Whelan’s time away.
“The board will meet in a month to review the situation,” the statement said. Later Sunday, Whelan released a statement of apology. “I apologize deeply and sincerely to all those whom I have harmed by my appalling and inexcusable tweet thread last week — above all, the person whose name I wrongly made public,“ he said.
Referencing Christine Blasey Ford, he added: “I also apologize to victims of sexual assault and to Dr. Ford for these and other tweets that did not address with respectful consideration the difficult question of how to assess allegations of sexual assault. I do not believe that all such allegations must be accepted as true, and I believe further that the usual inquiries into motivation, cognition, memory and other matters that apply to other charges properly apply to these as well. But my tweets did not advance the discussion in a constructive way.“
Whelan became the target of swift bipartisan criticism on Thursday evening after offering an unsubstantiated alternative explanation for Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation that Kavanaugh forced himself on her at a drunken high school party more than three decades ago.
His conjectures, laid out in a series of tweets, included floor plans of the house in which Whelan said the alleged assault may have taken place. It also featured the name and photo of a high school classmate of Kavanaugh’s whom Whelan identified as a potential suspect and posited that Ford may have misremembered as the federal judge.
New Mueller Focus?
Washington Post, Washington attorney under scrutiny by prosecutors in offshoot of Mueller probe, Tom Hamburger, Sept. 23, 2018. Gregory Craig’s work for the Ukrainian government while at the Skadden law firm is under investigation. The investigation of Craig — a former White House counsel for President Barack Obama — along with other lobbyists, have shaken Washington’s lobbying and legal community.
Federal prosecutors have stepped up their investigation of prominent Washington attorney Gregory Craig, right, for work he conducted at his former law firm on behalf of the Ukrainian government in 2012, an effort coordinated by Paul Manafort, according to people familiar with the matter.
Shortly before Manafort pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and obstruction this month, attorneys for Craig received requests for information from prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, who are investigating Craig’s activities as an offshoot of the broader probe led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, according to one person with knowledge of the exchange.
Craig’s case — and that of two Washington lobbyists who worked with Manafort on Ukrainian matters — were referred last April to New York prosecutors, who appear to be focused on whether the three failed to register as foreign agents while working with Manafort’s Ukrainian clients.
The investigation of Craig — a White House counsel for President Barack Obama — along with lobbyists Vin Weber and Tony Podesta, has shaken Washington’s lobbying and legal community, which until recently had faced little scrutiny of its representation of foreign clients.
Mueller’s Job Threatened By Disputed NYT Report?
New York Times, Rosenstein Suggested Secretly Recording Trump and Discussed 25th Amendment, Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt, Sept. 22, 2018 (print edition). The deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, right, suggested last year that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit.
Washington Post, Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford say she has accepted Senate Judiciary Committee request to testify against Kavanaugh, Washington Post Staff, Sept. 22, 2018. The Senate Judiciary Committee and lawyers for Ford have been in negotiations for days about whether she would appear before the panel. Ford, shown at right in a file photo, has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in the 1980s when both were teenagers.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, had given Ford until 2:30 p.m. to respond to a revised offer to testify at a Wednesday hearing. Her lawyers asked the committee for a call later Saturday to work out other specifics.This is a developing story. It will be updated.
Palmer Report, Opinion: Dr. Christine Blasey Ford confirms she’ll testify this week – and she has an ace up her sleeve, Bill Palmer, Sept. 22, 2018. The Republicans on the committee blinked when they delayed the Kavanaugh vote so Dr. Ford could testify. She must have realized that this meant they were afraid to move forward without her testimony.
So she’s been trying to leverage that by calling for an FBI investigation into Kavanaugh. If the FBI did begin investigating Kavanaugh, the most likely outcome is that he’d end up in prison; even if the attempted rape can’t be legally proven, he’d surely get nailed for lying to the FBI, or perjury, or whatever the story is with his gambling problem and his disappearing personal debts. Kavanaugh knows this; Ford was trying to use the FBI angle to nudge him into dropping out.
Ford’s FBI gambit hasn’t worked. The Republican Senators weren’t actually going to invite the FBI to investigate, knowing that it would probably result in their own nominee going to prison.
This was all about whether Kavanaugh was going to blink. Since Kavanaugh hasn’t dropped out, Ford’s next move is to show up and testify against him, which she now says she’s going to do. But she can also file a police report in Montgomery County, Maryland at any time. As Palmer report has pointed out, the police chief there conspicuously announced last night that he’s ready to investigate Kavanaugh as soon as Ford files a report.
Ford has proven that she’s willing to allow her own life to be turned upside down to keep her alleged attempted rapist Brett Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court. Does anyone really think she won’t file criminal charges if that’s what it takes? Kavanaugh’s window for dropping out is closing fast. If he doesn’t withdraw soon, he’ll be locked into a path to losing everything – and unless he’s completely delusional, he knows it.
Washington Post, Senate panel to give Kavanaugh accuser more time to decide whether to testify, Sean Sullivan, Seung Min Kim and John Wagner, Sept. 22, 2018 (print edition). Earlier Friday, Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) set a deadline of 10 p.m. for Christine Blasey Ford to decide whether to testify about her allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were in high school. But after the deadline passed, Grassley said on Twitter that he “granted another extension” to Ford: “I want to hear her.”
Washington Post, ‘100 Kegs or Bust’: Kavanaugh friend, Mark Judge, has spent years writing about high school debauchery, Marc Fisher and Perry Stein, Sept. 22, 2018 (print edition). The high-court nominee’s accuser says Mark Judge was there and should have to testify. Judge says he does not remember the party and never saw his buddy behave like that.
As Christine Blasey Ford tells it, only one person can offer eyewitness confirmation of her account of a sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh: Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate at Georgetown Prep.
Ford says Judge, shown at right, watched Kavanaugh attack her at a high school party in the early 1980s and then literally piled on, leaping on top of her and Kavanaugh. Judge says he does not remember the party and never saw his buddy behave like that. Ford’s legal team has asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to compel Judge to testify.
A review of books, articles and blog posts by Judge — a freelance writer who has shifted among jobs at a record store, substitute teaching, housesitting and most recently at a liquor store — describes an ’80s private-school party scene in which heavy drinking and sexual encounters were standard fare.
NBC News, Spokesman for GOP on Kavanaugh nomination resigns; has been accused of harassment in the past, Heidi Przybyla, Sept. 22, 2018. An adviser for the Senate Judiciary Committee has resigned amid questions from NBC News about a previous sexual harassment complaint.
A press adviser helping lead the Senate Judiciary Committee’s response to a sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has stepped down amid evidence he was fired from a previous political job in part because of a sexual harassment allegation against him.
Garrett Ventry, 29, who served as a communications aide to the committee chaired by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, had been helping coordinate the majority party’s messaging in the wake of Christine Blasey Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago at a high school party. In a response to NBC News, Ventry denied any past “allegations of misconduct.”
After NBC News raised questions about Ventry’s employment history and the sexual harassment allegation against him, Judiciary Committee Spokesman Taylor Foy replied in a statement: “While (Ventry) strongly denies allegations of wrongdoing, he decided to resign to avoid causing any distraction from the work of the committee.” Ventry also resigned Saturday from the public relations company where he had been on a temporary leave of absence to work for the Judiciary Committee, a company spokesman told NBC News.
Republicans familiar with the situation had been concerned that Ventry, because of his history, could not lead an effective communications response. Ventry worked as a social media adviser in 2017 in the office of North Carolina House Majority Leader John Bell, who fired Ventry after several months. Sources familiar with the situation said Ventry was let go from Bell’s office after parts of his résumé were found to have been embellished, and because he faced an accusation of sexual harassment from a female employee of the North Carolina General Assembly’s Republican staff.
More: Mueller’s Job Threatened?
Mueller’s Job Threatened By Disputed Report?
New York Times, Rosenstein Suggested Secretly Recording Trump and Discussed 25th Amendment, Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt, Sept. 22, 2018 (print edition). The deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, shown above in a file photo, suggested last year that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit.
Mr. Rosenstein made these suggestions in the spring of 2017 when Mr. Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director plunged the White House into turmoil. Over the ensuing days, the president divulged classified intelligence to Russians in the Oval Office, and revelations emerged that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey to pledge loyalty and end an investigation into a senior aide.
Mr. Rosenstein was just two weeks into his job. He had begun overseeing the Russia investigation and played a key role in the president’s dismissal of Mr. Comey by writing a memo critical of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But Mr. Rosenstein was caught off guard when Mr. Trump cited the memo in the firing, and he began telling people that he feared he had been used.
None of Mr. Rosenstein’s proposals apparently came to fruition.
NBC News, Rosenstein joked about secretly recording Trump, Justice Department officials say, Pete Williams, Ken Dilanian and Jonathan Allen, Sept. 22, 2018 (print edition). “Well, what do you want me to do, Andy, wear a wire?” the deputy attorney general asked FBI official Andrew McCabe at a meeting last year.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was joking when he discussed wearing a wire to secretly record President Donald Trump and does not believe Trump should be removed from office through the use of procedures outlined in the Constitution’s 25th Amendment, according to Justice Department officials who requested anonymity to discuss the conversation.
The officials were responding to a New York Times report that Rosenstein, in the tumultuous spring of 2017, had discussed with other Justice and FBI officials the possibility of recruiting members of Trump’s Cabinet to declare him unfit for the job and that he offered to wear a recording device during conversations with the president.
In a May, 16, 2017 meeting at a secure facility at the Justice Department — one week after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey — Rosenstein was arguing with Andrew McCabe, then the acting director of the FBI, about the president, according to a senior Justice Department official.
“Well, what do you want me to do, Andy, wear a wire?” Rosenstein, right, asked at the meeting, which also included FBI lawyer Lisa Page and four career DOJ officials, according to the senior official. One of the career civil servants was Scott Schools, who would later go on to sign off on the firing of McCabe, the official said.
This official and a source who was in the room characterized Rosenstein’s remark as sarcastic.
People who have discussed the matter with McCabe, however, say he remembers Rosenstein as being serious in making the comment about wearing the wire.
Media Critic Slams Times
Palmer Report, Opinion: Washington Post exposes New York Times story on Rod Rosenstein for being bullshit, Bill Palmer, Sept. 21, 2018. “No, that could never happen, major newspapers have better standards than that.” This is the reflexive response I’ve been getting from some observers in the two hours since I called bullshit on the New York Times story about Rod Rosenstein wanting to wear a wire and wanting to invoke the 25th Amendment.
Unfortunately, the reality is that major media outlets do often walk into traps set by inside sources with an axe to grind. It’s pretty clearly what just happened here – and it’s yet another reminder that if Donald Trump knows how to do one thing well, it’s to take advantage of the mainstream media’s willingness to play the role of braindead stenographer.
The New York Times story in question is already being exposed a work of fiction.
For instance the Washington Post just reported, from another source who was in the meeting in question, that Rosenstein’s remark about wearing a wire “was said in a moment of sarcasm, and that the 25th amendment was not discussed.” If you make an obviously sarcastic remark in order to demonstrate that a certain scenario isn’t realistic, and someone writes a story claiming that you offered up that scenario as a realistic option, that’s a fake story – period.
Sadly, none of this should come as a surprise. We spent the entire 2016 election cycle seeing that major news outlets often give us dubious and even false stories based on inside sources they know are biased and/or unreliable.
Most major newspapers think “journalism” equals printing anything that’s been given to them by multiple inside sources, even if those sources aligned with each other, and even if those sources are biased to the point that their claims about their adversaries shouldn’t be believed. Most cable news hosts think “journalism” equals quoting major newspapers as if they were the word of God, and then offering doomsday speculation about it to keep you tuned in.
But anyone with their thinking cap on today knows that this story is sourced to Team Trump, and that it’s a dishonest attempt at setting the groundwork for ousting Rosenstein, and that it’s a direct response to this morning’s failure of Trump’s declassification gambit, which was also an attempt at ousting Rosenstein.
This Rosenstein story is quickly being exposed as a wildly out of context work of fiction from sources with an axe to grind – just like all the false reporting on Hillary’s emails.
Today is a good day to take a look around at the various political reporters and pundits, and to see who has the guts to state the obvious. In this industry, you take a lot of heat for pointing out that someone as big as the New York Times has run an obviously bullshit story.
Lazy thinkers out there don’t want to hear it from you, because it’s easier for them to just pretend every word they hear from the Times is fact. And competing pundits (on both sides) then use it as an opportunity to paint you as some kind of conspiracy theorist for going against the Times. It’s so much easier on days like this to just go with the flow.
So let’s see who in this industry has the guts and integrity today to speak the truth about this story.
Another #MeToo Charge Against Republican
Newsweek, Former Trump Aide Jason Miller Accused of Secretly Administering Abortion Pill, Alexandra Hutzler, Sept. 22, 2018. Jason Miller is now engaged in a custody battle with A.J. Delgado. In new court filings, Delgado accuses Miller of secretly giving another woman with whom he had an affair an “abortion pill” after she got pregnant.
Former Donald Trump aide Jason Miller has been accused of secretly administering an “abortion pill” to a woman he got pregnant during an affair, new court documents show.
The court filing, obtained and reported on by Splinter, alleges that Miller, shown in a file photo below at right, had an affair with a woman he met at a strip club in Orlando, Florida in 2012. As a result of the affair the woman got pregnant, at which point Miller is accused of giving her with an abortion pill without her knowledge or consent. The woman claims that the pill caused her to lose the baby and nearly cost her her life.
The documents allege that the affair happened when Miller was working for a Republican advertising firm Jamestown Associates. He would often bring clients to Rachel’s Gentleman’s Club in Orlando, where he allegedly met the woman he would later get pregnant. She is only identified in the court filing as “Jane Doe.”
The filing goes on to claim that Miller showed up at Jane Doe’s apartment with a smoothie in hand.
“Unbeknownst to Jane Doe, the Smoothie contained an abortion pill. The pill induced an abortion, and Jane Doe wound up in a hospital emergency room, bleeding heavily and nearly went into a coma,” the document reads.
As a result of the pill the child died and Jane Doe herself was “hospitalized for two days, the abortion pill possibly reacting with potential street drugs in her system at the time she drank the Smoothie.”
Miller’s attorney denied these allegations, telling Splinter in a statement: “To be clear, there is no validity to the false accusations made in Ms. Delgado’s filing.”
These allegations were made in court filings made by the legal team of A.J. Delgado, Miller’s ex-lover who is suing for custody of their son. Delgado, shown with Miller in file photos, began her affair with Miller in October 2016, after he told her he had separated from his wife. But Miller had never separated from his wife and was, in fact, expecting a child with her when Delgado found out that she was pregnant from their affair. Now, Delgado and Miller are locked in a custody battle.
Miller was Trump’s spokesman during his 2016 campaign and a member of the president’s transition team. When his affair with Delgado was made public, Miller was essentially forced to turn down a job as the White House communications director. Delgado was also a former Trump campaign staffer.
In previous court filings, Delgado has also accused Miller of sexual and physical abuse, which Miller has also denied.
Trump Slams Justice Department ‘Stench’
New York Times, At Missouri Rally, Trump Continues Attacks on Federal Law Enforcement, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Sept. 22, 2018 (print edition). Mr. Trump cast the midterm election as a rallying cry for his agenda while promising to eliminate the “lingering stench” at the Justice Department.
President Trump cast the midterm elections as a referendum on him and his agenda, arguing at a rally here on Friday that a vote for any Democrat would empower “dangerous” and “crazy” people and sap the Republican Party’s fragile congressional majorities.
More On Kavanaugh Probe
Salon, Grooming Brett Kavanaugh: From prep school to the Supreme Court was a straight line…and crooked as hell, Lucian K. Truscott IV (author, journalist and former West Point cadet, as shown in a 1969 photo), Sept. 22, 2018. Ordinarily, when you think of the word “grooming,” pets come to mind. A poodle, say, or maybe a Westie.
Then a Supreme Court seat becomes vacant, and you start to see that, at least in Republican circles, people need grooming, too. People like Brett Kavanaugh, who as legal commentator Jonathan Turley informed us in The Hill “has long been viewed as someone actively groomed for the court by supporters in the Federalist Society and conservative legal circles.”
Grooming someone like Kavanaugh means nothing less than this: an older man, or more often older men, pick a young man, usually during the time he is being educated and trained for his chosen career, and they take him under their collective wing, and they put him on a path that will lead him where they want him to go, and while they’re doing it, they make sure he will arrive there fortified with the necessary beliefs and most importantly “fealty” that will insure that he does exactly what they want him to do. It’s usually men who are groomed in this manner. It didn’t used to happen with women, although it does now. But it’s usually a guy thing that involves stuff like prep schools and college fraternities and secret societies such as Skull and Bones.
But grooming isn’t mentoring. It’s deeper and more insidious than that. A mentor might take a young man or young woman under the wing and help them along with career skills and advice. I heard this job came up that you’d be perfect for! Here’s what to keep in mind when you go in for your interview . . .
Grooming is first and foremost selective. Those who are groomed, like Kavanaugh, are chosen — singled out from a pack of similarly inclined candidates for special attention. What really distinguishes those who are groomed from those who aren’t is exclusivity. You’re one of only a few. Remember when we heard Trump would be picking his Supreme Court nominees from lists given him by the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society? Trust me. They weren’t long lists. You can’t groom everyone.
What’s going on here, right now as I write these words is this: I’m breaking these rules. I’m telling you this secret because I was groomed as a young man, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t take the deal. It happened this way.
When I was a cadet at West Point, every year a powerful man from Washington D.C. came up to the Academy as a kind of guest lecturer in the social science department. He spent a couple of weeks talking with cadets taking a required class in social science, and one by one, he picked out four or five to be groomed.
Washington Post, ‘I’ve got this terrible secret,’ Jessica Contrera, Ian Shapira, Emma Brown and Steve Hendrix, Sept. 22, 2018. Christine Blasey Ford’s husband, Russell Ford, remembered her mindset when Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced his retirement. She even considered moving to another country, her husband said.
When Donald Trump won his upset presidential victory in 2016, Christine Blasey Ford’s thoughts quickly turned to a name most Americans had never heard of but one that had unsettled her for years: Brett M. Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh — a judge on the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia — was among those mentioned as a possible replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016. When Trump nominated Neil M. Gorsuch, Ford was relieved but still uneasy.
Then Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced his retirement and Ford, 51, (shown in a file photo) began fretting again.
“Her mind-set was, ‘I’ve got this terrible secret. . . .What am I going to do with this secret?’ ” her husband, Russell Ford, 56, recalled.
To many, Kavanaugh was a respected jurist. To her, he was the teenager who had attacked her when they were in high school.
In her Post interview, Ford said a group of boys from Georgetown Prep was at one of the beer-drinking sessions in an unsupervised house near Columbia Country Club, possibly in the summer of 1982. One of them was Kavanaugh, who she described as an acquaintance. At the time, she was 15, and he was 17.
New York Magazine, Aide Who Helped Guide Strategy for Kavanaugh Quits After Sexual Harassment Allegation Revealed, Benjamin Hart, Sept. 22, 2018. Garrett Ventry, a communications aide to Chuck Grassley on the Senate Judiciary Committee, resigned on Saturday morning after NBC News asked him about a sexual harassment allegation in his past.
Ventry, shown on his Twitter photo, had been helping direct the strategy to steer Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination after Christine Ford came forward to accuse him of sexual assault. In addition, Ventry worked at a public-relations firm that was involved in crafting a widely publicized (and mocked) theory that Ford had identified the wrong man 36 years ago. Ventry also resigned from that company on Saturday.
NBC reported that the 29-year-old Ventry had been fired in 2017 from the office of North Carolina House Majority Leader John Bell, where he served as social media adviser:
Sources familiar with the situation said Ventry was let go from Bell’s office after parts of his résumé were found to have been embellished, and because he faced an accusation of sexual harassment from a female employee of the North Carolina General Assembly’s Republican staff.
There was little further information about the specific allegations. Ventry told NBC, “I deny allegations of misconduct.” In a statement, Judiciary Committee Chairman spokesman Taylor Foy said, “While (Ventry) strongly denies allegations of wrongdoing, he decided to resign to avoid causing any distraction from the work of the committee.”
The spectacle of a Republican staffer on the committee quitting over such allegations would be uncomfortable enough on any given day. But it looks particularly unseemly considering the drama playing out around Kavanaugh and Ford, and given Ventry’s associations beyond the Judiciary Committee.
Washington Post, Former top White House official revises statement about Flynn’s calls with Russian ambassador, Shane Harris and Devlin Barrett, Sept. 22, 2018. Deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland now acknowledges that Michael Flynn may have told her he discussed sanctions with Sergey Kislyak.
Mueller’s Job Threatened?
Daily Beast, Trump Is Ready for Justice Department ‘Jihad’ After Rod Rosenstein Report, Betsy Woodruff, Asawin Suebsaeng and Sam Stein, Sept. 21, 2018. “Most people here are talking about the very real possibility that Rod is on his way out,” said one senior Justice official.
Friday afternoon’s Rod Rosenstein bombshell brought with it a familiar anxiety inside the Trump administration, as aides waited to see just how volcanic the president’s reaction would be to the latest story about backstabbing within his top ranks.
Current and former administration officials said they fully expected President Trump to dismiss staff inside the Justice Department following reports that Rosenstein had contemplated—sarcastically, his defenders say—the idea of wiretapping the president or removing him from office via the 25th Amendment. Less clear was how many people will get the ax and when, exactly, it will fall.
“Trump is gonna go on a jihad,” one former senior White House official told The Daily Beast. The official speculated that Rosenstein’s comments were leaked with just that reaction in mind. “The NYT op-ed gave an opportunity to really drive home the deep state stuff. With this new story, it gives additional credibility.”
The stakes of the latest administration imbroglio could not be higher, as Rosenstein heads the Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. His position atop that probe has made him a regular target of Trump supporters, and a new round of calls for his dismissal came quickly after the Times story posted Friday afternoon.
Washington Post, McCabe memos say Rosenstein considered secretly recording Trump, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, Sept. 22, 2018 (print edition). Memos written by Andrew McCabe when he was the acting FBI director say Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein suggested he secretly record his talks with President Trump, and that Rosenstein discussed possibly trying to remove Trump from office, according to people familiar with the matter.
The account, first reported by the New York Times, paints Rosenstein as so concerned in May 2017 in the wake of Trump’s firing of then-FBI Director James B. Comey that he contemplated secretly recording conversations with the president. He also initiated discussions about invoking the 25th Amendment, which details how the Cabinet can decide whether a president is no longer able to discharge the duties of the office, one of the McCabe memos said.
The revelations immediately prompted speculation that Trump might seize on the new information to fire Rosenstein. The deputy attorney general oversees special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates conspired in those efforts.
The saga features two of the president’s biggest targets for public criticism, McCabe, shown at right, and Rosenstein, both of whom he blames for an investigation he calls a “witch hunt.”
In this instance, McCabe’s memos offer an extraordinary account of Rosenstein’s thinking at a difficult time in the Justice Department and could could give Trump fresh ammunition to move to oust Rosenstein. McCabe was fired this year, and a grand jury is weighing possible charges against him for allegedly misleading investigators in a leak probe.
Rosenstein denied the account.
“The New York Times’s story is inaccurate and factually incorrect,” Rosenstein said. “I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the department and are advancing their own personal agenda. But let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”
People familiar with the 2017 discussions — and the memos written about the discussions — offered wildly divergent accounts of what was said and what was meant.
High Court Battle
Washington Post, Trump, in overt attack on Kavanaugh accuser, questions her credibility, John Wagner and Seung Min Kim, Sept. 21, 2018. President Trump contended that Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, would have reported the attack to law enforcement if it “was as bad as she says.”
Trump’s tweets came as lawyers for Ford (shown in a high school photo) continued negotiations about conditions under which she might testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Republican U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Members
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans
- Chuck Grassley, Iowa, Chairman, right.
- Orrin Hatch, Utah.
- Lindsey Graham, South Carolina.
- John Cornyn, Texas.
- Mike Lee, Utah.
- Ted Cruz, Texas.
- Ben Sasse, Nebraska.
- Jeff Flake, Arizona.
CBS News, Kavanaugh accuser wants extra day to make decision about testifying, Staff report, Sept. 21, 2018. A lawyer for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were in high school, on Friday requested an extra day for Ford to decide if she will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senate Judiciary Committee had given Ford a 10 p.m. Friday deadline for her decision, which Ford’s attorney Debra Katz called “arbitrary.”
The committee, led by chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Ford could testify Wednesday — a day earlier than she demanded, but also two days later than the day the committee had originally announced, Monday. The committee is also proposing that Ford testify before Kavanaugh, as opposed to after, and that outside counsel handle the questioning. According to a GOP committee aide, the exact language in the counter offer asks Ford, “Please respond by 5 p.m.”
On Friday night, Katz released the letter she said was sent at 4 p.m.
“I advised you that Dr. Ford had traveled to meet with the FBI for several hours about the death threats she had been receiving, and we would need until tomorrow to confer with her and to be able to provide you with a well-considered response,” Katz said in the letter. “Rather than allowing her the time she needs to respond to the take-it-or-leave-it demand you conveyed, you sent us an email at 5:47 p.m. – which you again gave to the media first – insisting that we accept your “invitation” for a Wednesday hearing by 10:00 p.m. tonight.”
President Trump weighed in on the matter Friday Morning, firing off his first tweets about the allegation, saying that if the “attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed” with the police “by either her or her loving parents.”
“I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!” Mr. Trump tweeted.
The president has commented on the Kavanaugh allegation throughout the week, praising his Supreme Court pick’s integrity and intellect, while declining to attack Ford. On Friday, the president questioned why no one contacted the FBI “36 years ago,” after Democrats have urged the FBI to open an investigation into Ford.
“The radical left lawyers want the FBI to get involved NOW. Why didn’t someone call the FBI 36 years ago?” Mr. Trump tweeted.
Roll Call, Senate Judiciary Committee Postpones Monday Kavanaugh Hearing, Todd Ruger, Sept. 21, 2018. The Senate Judiciary Committee has postponed its hearing, set for Monday, that would have featured Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused him of sexually attacking her decades ago.
And in a sign that Senate Republicans are playing hardball to get Ford to agree to their terms to testify, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley has scheduled a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination in the event there is no deal with Ford.
The notice included no reschedule date and came out amid reports that the panel and Ford’s attorneys did not meet a panel-set 5 p.m. deadline to agree to terms.
Pro-Kavanaugh Power Plays
Fox News, McConnell voices confidence on Kavanaugh confirmation: ‘We’re going to plow right through it,’ Adam Shaw, Sept. 21, 2018. McConnell tells conservatives ‘keep the faith’ on Kavanaugh. Speaking to the Values Voter Summit, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, right, predicts Judge Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the Supreme Court ‘in the very near future’; reaction from attorney and journalist Tim O’Brien.
“President Trump has nominated a stunningly successful individual. You’ve watched the fight, you’ve watched the tactics, but here’s what I want to tell you, in the very near future Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court,” he told supporters at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C.
Kavanaugh’s nomination has been roiled by an accusation from Christine Blasey Ford that he pinned her down on a bed and tried to remove her clothing at a party in high school 36 years ago. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.
But the bombshell claim has led to calls from Democrats, who say they believe Ford’s account, for a delay on the vote until there is a full FBI investigation and further hearings — while also slamming Republican efforts to get Ford to testify on Monday.
Republicans, in turn, are accusing Democrats of attempting to force a delay until after the November midterms, where Democrats are hoping to take control of the Senate. They have also criticized Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., for not mentioning the allegations earlier, despite knowing about them in July.
Politico, PR firm helped Whelan stoke half-baked Kavanaugh alibi, Eliana Johnson, Sept. 21, 2018. CRC Public Relations, a powerhouse conservative firm, guided Ed Whelan, right, on a bad Twitter adventure.
It turns out that the Keystone Cops detective work by conservative legal activist Ed Whelan — which set Washington abuzz with the promise of exonerating Brett Kavanaugh, only to be met by mockery and then partially retracted — was not his handiwork alone.
CRC Public Relations, the prominent Alexandria, Virginia-based P.R. firm, guided Whelan through his roller-coaster week of Twitter pronouncements that ended in embarrassment and a potential setback for Kavanaugh’s hopes of landing on the high court, according to three sources familiar with their dealings.
After suggesting on Twitter on Tuesday that he had obtained information that would exculpate Kavanaugh from the sexual assault allegation made by Christine Blasey Ford, Whelan worked over the next 48 hours with CRC and its president, Greg Mueller, to stoke the anticipation.
A longtime friend of Kavanaugh’s, Whelan teased his reveal — even as he refused to discuss it with other colleagues and close friends, a half dozen of them said. At the same time, he told them he was absolutely confident the information he had obtained would exculpate the judge.
The hype ping-ponged from Republicans on Capitol Hill to Kavanaugh’s team in the White House, evidence of an extraordinarily successful public relations campaign that ultimately backfired when Whelan’s theory — complete with architectural drawings and an alleged Kavanaugh doppelgänger — landed with a thud on Twitter Thursday evening.
Patch, Holton-Arms Students Could Attend Ford Testimony, Payton Potter, Sept. 21, 2018. Should Christine Blasey Ford testify before the Senate next week, Holton-Arms students may attend if a certain list of criteria is met.
Students at Christine Blasey Ford’s alma mater, Holton-Arms School, will be allowed to attend a possible hearing next Thursday in which Ford would testify against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavauaugh on her allegation that he drunkenly tried to “attack” her during a house party in the early 1980s while they were both high schoolers in suburban Maryland.
In order to attend, students must first meet certain criteria, including providing a parental permission letter and a “cut slip,” the school announced in a letter to parents Friday.
Ford (now 51 and shown as a junior at the school) told The Washington Post that Kavanaugh and a friend were both deeply intoxicated when they ushered her into a bedroom in Montgomery County. She said Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and, while the friend watched, and groped her over her clothes. Kavanaugh grinded his body against hers, she alleged, and tried to take off both her one-piece bathing suit and clothes she was wearing over it. Ford said she tried to scream but that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand.
Ford, now a psychology professor in California, has, since the accusation became public, reportedly received death threats and for safety reasons has relocated her family.
“She wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety,” her attorney, Debra Katz, wrote in an email which was obtained by The Associated Press after first being reported by The New York Times.
Also on Friday, 1,000 Holton-Arms alumnae released a signed letter in support of Ford, writing, “Dr. Blasey Ford’s experience is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves.”
ENews.com, Lili Reinhart and More Celebrities Join #WhyIDidn’tReport Movement, Cydney Contreras, Sept. 21, 2018. Celebrities are sharing their own experiences with sexual harassment or assault as part of the #WhyIDidn’tReport movement.
On Friday, actresses like Lili Reinhart and Ashley Judd took to Twitter to reveal why they chose not to go to the authorities after suffering from sexual harassment or assault. These women were inspired by Alyssa Milano after she protested the treatment of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
In Ford’s defense, the actress tweeted, “Hey, @realDonaldTrump, Listen the f–k up. I was sexually assaulted twice. Once when I was a teenager. I never filed a police report and it took me 30 years to tell my parents.” She then encouraged women to share their own stories with #WhyIDidn’tReport.
Her statements came after President Donald Trump tweeted, “I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!”
Celebrities are sharing their own experiences with sexual harassment or assault as part of the #WhyIDidn’tReport movement. Soon after, the hashtag began trending on Twitter and celebrities spoke out about the trauma they endured.
Lili Reinhart, who rose to fame because of her role as Betty in Riverdale, tweeted she was to afraid to come forward with her claims, “Because I didn’t want to lose my job or make people think I was a drama queen.”
Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi also revealed her experiences from over the years. “I was 7 the first time I was sexually assaulted. He was a relative of my mom’s second husband. I told my folks and they sent me away,” the TV personality shared. She continued, “The second time I was 16 years old and a virgin. He was my boyfriend. ‘Date rape’ wasn’t discussed in the 80’s. I was horrified and ashamed.”
Padma’s experiences and sentiments were echoed by Ashley Judd, who also endured sexual abuse from a young age. “The first time it happened, I was 7. I told the first adults I came upon. They said ‘Oh, he’s a nice old man, that’s not what he meant,'” Judd revealed. “So when I was raped at 15, I only told my diary. When an adult read it, she accused me of having sex with an adult man.”
Similarly, Daryl Hannah went through a similar experience, even after reporting the incident. “I did, it didn’t matter, I was dismissed, disparaged, & I still get blamed,” the actress said.
Other celebrities showed solidarity for the thousands of people who came forward with their stories by highlighting their braveness.
“If you want to see who the leaders are of #MeToo look no further than the thousands of people sharing their #WhyIDidntReport stories. This movement will not be derailed by anyone. It is decentralized collective power which is why it has limitless strength,” Patricia Arquette said.
The Hill, Nearly 50 Yale Law faculty members call for FBI to probe allegation against Kavanaugh, Justin Wise, Sept. 21, 2018. Nearly 50 members of the Yale Law School faculty are calling for the FBI to investigate sexual assault accusations brought against President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The faculty made the request in the form of an open letter https://law.yale.edu/yls-today/news/open-letter-senate-judiciary-committee-yale-law-faculty to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday, writing that “allegations of sexual assault require a neutral factfinder and an investigation that can ascertain facts fairly.”
“As the Senate Judiciary Committee debates Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, we write as faculty members of Yale Law School, from which Judge Kavanaugh graduated, to urge that the Senate conduct a fair and deliberate confirmation process,” reads the letter, which was signed by 49 faculty members. “With so much at stake for the Supreme Court and the nation, we are concerned about a rush to judgment that threatens both the integrity of the process and the public’s confidence in the Court.”
The letter adds that the FBI must have “adequate time to investigate facts” and concludes by saying that the Supreme Court confirmation process “must always be conducted, and appointments made, in a manner that gives Americans reason to trust” the court.
Kavanaugh, who graduated from Yale and Yale Law School, is facing increased scrutiny regarding sexual assault accusations leveled against him, which he has flatly denied.
Washington Post, Kavanaugh accuser open to testifying later next week, dismisses theory of a different attacker, Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey and Emma Brown, Sept. 21, 2018 (print edition). A lawyer for Christine Blasey Ford said she “wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety.” Brett M. Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination was roiled further by tweets from a friend who named another classmate as Ford’s possible attacker.
President Trump introduces U.S. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh, shown with family, as his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court on July 9, 2018 (White House photo)
Center for American Progress, Opinion: Kavanaugh’s Credibility Chasm, Jake Faleschini and Jesse Lee, Sept. 21, 2018. Amid a crisis in Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination process, new reports suggest that President Trump’s nominee may have been personally involved in a public relations effort to shift blame for sexual assault allegations made against him onto another specific individual with unsubstantiated speculation from an ally.
This alone would demonstrate a deep breach of integrity and credibility and would be disqualifying in itself for a position on the highest court in the land. Unfortunately, it also aligns with an entire career using dishonest tactics and statements to advance his personal ambition.
In Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s first words on the national stage as a Supreme Court nominee, he made two plainly false statements in quick succession. In a vacuum, they might be dismissed as overly effusive pleasantries; in fact, they were part of a decades-long pattern of defaulting toward deception whenever useful.
“Mr. President, thank you. Throughout this process, I’ve witnessed firsthand your appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary,” Kavanaugh stated. This immediately stood as a refutation of Trump’s previous nominee Neil Gorsuch, who had in fact condemned Trump’s well-known, ruthless attacks on the judiciary, reportedly leaving Trump outraged. Kavanaugh was making clear there that he would offer no such dissent. In fact, Kavanaugh later refused to echo Gorsuch’s criticism of Trump in his own hearing.
Later in his initial statement, Kavanaugh said, “No president has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.” Again, this claim is ridiculous on its face and is reminiscent of early Trump Cabinet meetings where attendees would heap superlative praise upon Trump. But it also spoke to a deeper deception: In fact, Trump had explicitly promised to choose his nominee off of a pre-approved list from conservative advocacy groups, a list to which Kavanaugh’s name had mysteriously been added just months before.
More generally, though, Kavanaugh’s statement shows he opts to say what is best in the moment in order to advance his career. This is even if those statements were objectively — even obviously — misleading. However, this is no new tactic for Kavanaugh. As shown below, this has been a hallmark of his entire career.
- Leaking information for Ken Starr
- Accessing stolen documents
- Warrantless wiretapping
- Judicial Nominations
- Sexual harassment allegations against Judge Alex Kozinski
- Roe v. Wade
- Presidential Power
Kavanaugh began his career as a political operative willing to use whatever deceptive means necessary — from leaking in the special counsel’s office to dealing with stolen documents in court fights while in the White House. Worse than that, though, when he attempted to transition into a career in the judicial branch, he neither changed his ways nor owned up to his past behavior. Instead, he repeatedly misled the Senate about his prior deceptions, from one confirmation hearing to the next.
Kavanaugh may have rightly believed that, with the Senate controlled by other partisan Republicans, lying and misconstruing facts regarding his record would have no consequence. Indeed, Senate Republicans have blocked any review of the vast majority of his record, so this list of false and misleading statements represents only a small portion of the total.
But, as his Supreme Court confirmation process comes to a head — hinging precisely on whether his denials of credible accusations against him should be believed — Kavanaugh’s record of almost casual deception has caught up with him. The American people simply have no reason to believe him.
Another GOP Pervert Scandal?
Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), MN Rep. Jim Knoblach ends campaign ahead of MPR abuse allegations story, Nina Moini and Briana Bierschbach, Sept. 21, 2018. Republican state Rep. Jim Knoblach, right, abruptly ended his re-election campaign Friday as MPR News prepared to publish detailed accusations from his daughter of inappropriate behavior toward her since childhood.
The announcement came hours after an attorney for Knoblach denied the allegations in an interview.
Knoblach, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, declined to be interviewed after being approached more than a week ago.
In a written statement, Knoblach called the allegations “indescribably hurtful” and said he would work toward healing his family.
“I love my children more than anything, and would never do anything to hurt them. Her allegations are false,” Knoblach wrote. “I and other family members have made repeated attempts to reconcile with her in recent years, but she has refused.”
The timing of his exit could make his St. Cloud-area seat, already a top target for Democrats, impossible for Republicans to hold, barring some kind of court intervention or a write-in campaign by a substitute candidate. Knoblach was seeking a ninth term and was being challenged by Democratic candidate Dan Wolgamott, also of St. Cloud. Knoblach plans to serve out his term.
More #MeToo News
Washington Post, Opinion: I was sexually assaulted. Here’s why I don’t remember many of the details, Patti Davis, Sept. 21, 2018. Patti Davis, right, the daughter of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, describes an attack from 40 years ago at a prominent music executive’s office. She says she never told anyone for decades.
It doesn’t surprise me one bit that for more than 30 years, Christine Blasey Ford didn’t talk about the assault she remembers, the one she accuses Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of committing.
It’s important to understand how memory works in a traumatic event. Ford has been criticized for the things she doesn’t remember, like the address where she says the assault happened, or the time of year, or whose house it was.
But her memory of the attack itself is vivid and detailed. His hand over her mouth, another young man piling on, her fear that maybe she’d die there, unable to breathe. That’s what happens: Your memory snaps photos of the details that will haunt you forever, that will change your life and live under your skin. It blacks out other parts of the story that really don’t matter much.
ABC News, Female sailors at highest risk of sexual assault, Defense Department finds, Elizabeth McLaughlin, Sept. 21, 2018. Newly released data from the Department of Defense shows female sailors are at the highest risk of sexual assault, compared to women serving in the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps. The risk is highest on U.S. Navy ships, including on a majority of the nation’s aircraft carriers, the data shows.
Military installations in the Washington, D.C., region were typically associated with the lowest risk of sexual assault for men and women.
The findings were published on Friday in a RAND Corporation study, commissioned by the Pentagon, that used data collected in 2014 through more than 170,000 surveys of active duty service members. The study identified the 15 lowest-risk and highest-risk installations for men and women in each service.
Mueller Continues Probe Of Roger Stone
ABC News, Another Roger Stone associate meets with Mueller grand Jury, Ali Dukakis, Sept. 21, 2018. Another associate of political operative Roger Stone met Friday with a federal grand jury convened to hear testimony in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian meddling, appearing at the U.S. District Court House in Washington, D.C., a source with direct knowledge tells ABC News.
Stone is a longtime and close ally of President Donald Trump who has been under increasing scrutiny from the special counsel investigation.
Jerome Corsi, right, who until recently served as the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for the controversial far-right news outlet Infowars, is one of at least 11 individuals associated with Stone who have been contacted by the special counsel.
Corsi had been summoned to testify in Mueller’s probe Sept. 7, but his appearance was canceled the night before, his attorney, David Gray told ABC News at the time.
Corsi, who stoked such false rumors as President Barack Obama not being born in the U.S., joined Infowars last year but has since departed. Corsi has been acquainted with Stone – who currently serves as a key contributor to Infowars – for years.
Stone, left, has been under scrutiny from the special counsel in part because of statements he made in August 2016 which political opponents allege showed he knew that WikiLeaks was going to leak damaging information on former secretary of state and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton before it was released.
Stone has been targeted because he communicated with Guccifer 2.0, the unnamed hacker group that has taken credit for breaking into Democratic National Committee email servers, sources told ABC News.
Corsi’s name surfaced earlier this year after investigators with Mueller’s team spent almost an hour interviewing Theodore Roosevelt “Ted” Malloch, 65, an American academic and conservative London-based author, discussing his ties to Stone, Corsi, and WikiLeaks, according to a post-script for Malloch’s latest book.
Mueller’s interest in Stone and WikiLeaks goes to the heart of the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion, released in a report in January 2017, that WikiLeaks weaponized and published damaging information on Clinton provided to it by a hacker from the Russian government.
GOP Vote Rigging Court Claim
ABC News, Federal judge orders Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to give deposition in 2020 census case, Julia Jacobo, Sept. 21, 2018. A federal judge has ordered U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross be deposed over a decision to reinstate a question regarding citizenship status to the upcoming 2020 census, court documents show.
U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman of the Southern District of New York wrote in his opinion Friday that “Secretary Ross must sit for a deposition because, among other things, his intent and credibility are directly at issue.”
Ross is to be questioned by attorneys representing more than a dozen states and cities in lawsuits challenging the decision and accusing Ross of acting improperly.
The lawsuit claims immigrants will be discouraged from participating if the citizenship question is added, which will dilute political diversity, and in turn, decrease federal funding to states that tend to vote Democrat, according to The Associated Press.
Ross began considering whether to reinstate the question shortly after he was appointment in February 2017, “well before” the Department of Justice made a formal request to do so on Dec. 12, according to the order, which cited earlier submissions made by Ross.
Ross manifested an “unusually strong personal interest in the matter,” Furman wrote, adding that the secretary demanded to know as early as May 2017 why no action had been taken on his months-old request — seven months before the formal DOJ request was made.
More On DOJ, FBI Documents
Washington Post, Trump walks back his plan to declassify Russia probe documents, Devlin Barrett, Sept. 21, 2018. The retreat comes after the president said he was told that releasing the documents might have a negative impact on the special counsel’s Russia investigation, and allies had asked him not to put them out.
Related story: Roll Call, Trump Reverses Himself, John T. Bennett, Sept. 21, 2018. President Trump reversed himself on Friday on the release of reams of Justice Department and FBI documents he claims show an internal bias to wreck his 2016 campaign and then his presidency.
Trump earlier this week announced the text messages and other documents would soon be made public, per the request of House Republicans. But he backtracked in a Friday tweet, saying Justice Department officials and “key allies” urged him to avoid a huge document dump.
Washington Post, The line between Trump and Fox News isn’t blurry. It barely exists, Philip Bump, Sept. 21, 2018. For the second time in a month, a Trump rally started with a Fox News “interview.”
Palmer Report, Opinion: Office of Special Counsel issues official warning to Melania Trump’s spokesperson, Bill Palmer, Sept. 21, 2018. As Donald Trump’s scandals have grown worse than ever these past couple weeks, Melania Trump has seemed to be trying to lay low of late. But even as Melania continues to carefully say nothing at all about the attempted rape accusations against Brett Kavanaugh, or the Paul Manafort plea deal, or Michael Cohen’s cooperation in dismantling the Trump Organization, it turns out Melania’s spokesperson is the one who’s suddenly in the midst of a scandal.
Melania Trump’s spokesperson Stephanie Grisham posted this tweet awhile back: “Three years ago today I listened to my gut & joined the Trump team in #PHX … & life has never been the same. So proud to work for both @POTUS @realDonaldTrump & @FLOTUS #MAGA.” That tweet was in fact a violation of the Hatch Act, a federal law which prohibits most federal government employees from promoting political candidates or campaigns during election season.
Today the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (which to be clear has nothing to do with Special Counsel Robert Mueller) sent a formal warning letter to Grisham, informing her that she did in fact violate the law with her tweet. The Hatch Act isn’t exactly punitive in nature. The worst that can happen to you is that you forfeit your government salary, or you get fired. Because this was her first offense, according to Newsweek, she simply received an official warning letter. This nonetheless matters, because it means she’ll have to be very careful with her words and tweets for the rest of the election season, or she could end up summarily terminated – and Melania wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.
Yes, this is a minor scandal in comparison to the various major and potentially history-making scandals that are playing out in the other corners of the Donald Trump regime. But it’s even more bad press for Team Trump at a time when the last thing they need is another scandal. It’s also an important reminder that someone is still in fact minding the store when it comes to curtailing the abuses being carried out by Trump’s underlings.
Washington Post, Trump demands a border wall, but his GOP allies — not just Democrats — stand in the way, Erica Werner, Josh Dawsey and Seung Min Kim, Sept. 21, 2018 (print edition). The president lashed out at Congress for failing to deliver and has speculated that it’s worth causing a shutdown over the issue, but many Republicans say a wall is impractical and too costly.
The Intercept, Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9” Aims Not at Trump But at Those Who Created the Conditions That Led to His Rise, Glenn Greenwald, Sept. 21, 2018. “Fahrenheit 11/9,” the title of Michael Moore’s new film that opens today in theaters, is an obvious play on the title of his wildly profitable Bush-era “Fahrenheit 9/11,” but also a reference to the date of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 election victory.
Despite that, Trump himself is a secondary figure in Moore’s film, which is far more focused on the far more relevant and interesting questions of what – and, critically, who – created the climate in which someone like Trump could occupy the Oval Office.
For that reason alone, Moore’s film is highly worthwhile regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum. The single most significant defect in U.S. political discourse is the monomaniacal focus on Trump himself, as though he is the cause – rather than the by-product and symptom – of decades-old systemic American pathologies.
Personalizing and isolating Trump as the principal, even singular, source of political evil is obfuscating and thus deceitful. By effect, if not design, it distracts the population’s attention away from the actual architects of their plight.
Republican Groping ‘Joke’ Brings Rebuke
Washington Post, GOP congressman jokes about Ruth Bader Ginsburg being groped — by Abraham Lincoln, Reis Thebault, Sept. 21, 2018. A South Carolina congressman kicked off an election debate Thursday with a joke — which got a few laughs inside the room, but drew condemnation from observers across the state and country who didn’t find it funny at all.
“Did y’all hear this latest late-breaking news on the Kavanaugh hearings?” Rep. Ralph Norman (R) asked the audience at a Kiwanis Club in Rock Hill, S.C., referring to the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg came out saying she was groped by Abraham Lincoln.”
At 85, Ginsburg is the oldest Supreme Court justice and its preeminent liberal dissenter.
The comment from Norman, who is running for reelection in November, comes at the height of the controversy surrounding sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, who has denied the accusations. Elsewhere, Republicans have taken a cautious approach to commenting on the allegations, wary of the potential political fallout if their party is seen as dismissive of Kavanaugh’s accuser.
Norman’s off-color attempt at humor drew swift criticism, and many felt the congressman was making light of women who come forward to talk about their experience with sexual violence.
Media News: Sinclair Promos For Kavanaugh?
President Trump sat down for an interview with Sinclair’s chief political analyst, Boris Epshteyn, who has never disagreed with the president in his commentary (screenshot).
Media Matters, Opinion: In an interview with Sinclair, Trump touts Kavanaugh’s “unblemished record” and says he thinks he will be confirmed, Pam Vogel, Sept. 21, 2018. Media Matters is a left-leaning media criticism project founded by author and former right-leaning activist David Brock. Sinclair Broadcast Group, the largest owner and operator of local TV stations in the country, regularly broadcasts pro-Trump propaganda segments created by an ex-Trump staffer into the homes of millions of Americans. And now those segments include an interview with President Donald Trump himself, in which he was given a friendly platform to discuss his continued support of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh despite a report that he committed sexual assault.
The media company’s chief political analyst, Boris Epshteyn, has been producing regular commentary segments, called “Bottom Line With Boris,” for Sinclair for more than a year. Epshteyn had previously worked in the Trump White House on the communications team, after doing stints on the Trump inaugural committee and on the Trump campaign. Epshteyn also served as a Trump media surrogate throughout the campaign and first days of the Trump presidency. Epshteyn is personal friends with the president’s sons Eric and Donald Jr., and he has been spotted at Trump International Hotel multiple times, including with Don Jr. in June. He also may or may not have signed a nondisparagement agreement while he was working on the campaign, which could legally prevent him from criticizing Trump.
For a chief political analyst, Epshteyn offers takes that are notably unoriginal. At best, he regurgitates Trump talking points or touts some vague, imaginary bipartisan ideals that involve being nicer to Trump. At worst, he defends the most upsetting, racist things Trump does. In fact, in a recent interview on a National Review podcast, Epshteyn could not think of a single issue about which he had disagreed with the Trump administration in any of his commentary segments. What’s more: These segments ultimately air on an estimated 100 TV news stations under Sinclair’s control, exploiting the trust people have in their local news.
Given the president’s penchant for granting interviews to sycophants, it was only a matter of time before Trump himself made an appearance on “Bottom Line with Boris.”
On September 21, Epshteyn shared the first of what will likely be several must-run segments featuring excerpts from his sit-down with the president. This one is focused on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court and professor Christine Blasey Ford’s account of sexual assault by Kavanaugh when they were both in high school. In the segment, Trump largely repeats broad White House talking points about making sure Ford is heard, and then pivots to touting Kavanaugh’s “unblemished record.” Trump also says he believes Kavanaugh will ultimately still be confirmed.
BORIS EPSHTEYN: The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is facing last-minute turmoil over allegations that he committed sexual assault decades ago. I spoke with President Trump about this in a one-on-one, exclusive interview. Here’s what he shared.
[INTERVIEW CLIP BEGINS]
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I think they’ve been very respectful of Dr. Ford, extremely respectful. I think they’re doing the right thing. They want to give her a voice, if she wants to take it. They’re talking now about timing. It’s already been delayed a week. That’s a long time. This is the U.S. Senate we’re talking about.
TRUMP: I can only say this: Let her speak. But Brett Kavanaugh is one of the finest people you’ll ever meet. I think it’s been extremely hard on him and his family. When I look at what’s happening — here’s a man with an unblemished record, and to be going through this all of a sudden. So I won’t say anything now. All I’m saying is that — let it play out. Let her have open voice. And let’s see what happens.
This year, Epshteyn has aired interviews with seven other members of the Trump administration, eight Republican congressmen, and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The appearances include: then-Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Vice President Mike Pence, Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Council of Economic Advisers Chair Kevin Hassett, and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI). DeSantis, McCarthy, Rooney, and Duffy are all on ballots this year.
Crime, Courts: New York
New York Times, The Brothel Empire and the Ex-Detective, Always One Step Ahead of the Law, Michael Wilson, Ashley Southall, Alan Feuer, Al Baker and Ali Winston, Sept. 21, 2018. A former vice detective is at the center of one of the New York Police Department’s worst scandals in recent years. Here is his story, as uncovered by a team of Times reporters.
New York Times, He Was Governor Cuomo’s Closest Aide. Now He’s Going to Prison for 6 Years, Benjamin Weiser and Vivian Wang, Sept. 21, 2018 (print edition). Joseph Percoco, a former top adviser and confidant to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, right, was sentenced to six years in prison on Thursday in a case that cast a long and unflattering shadow over the Cuomo administration.
Mr. Percoco, 49, was convicted in March of soliciting and accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from executives of two companies with state business in return for taking official actions on the firms’ behalf.
Albany has long been plagued by corruption, and federal prosecutors in New York City have been racking up convictions of some of the capital’s most powerful figures, including Sheldon Silver, the former powerful Democratic speaker of the State Assembly, and Dean G. Skelos, the former Republican State Senate majority leader.
But the conviction and sentencing of Mr. Percoco hit Mr. Cuomo in a much closer, more personal way. Mr. Percoco was extremely loyal to the governor, working behind the scenes to protect him, using his political muscle with pugnacious verve.
World Report: Brexit
Washington Post, As May tries to sell Brexit, France’s Macron calls Brexit backers liars, William Booth, Sept. 21, 2018 (print edition). British Prime Minister Theresa May pitched European leaders on her proposals, which have been criticized abroad as unworkable and at home as too weak.
JIP’s Pick: Top Court Commentaries
Washington Post, Opinion: Republicans, be forewarned: Kavanaugh’s accuser has options, Jennifer Rubin, right, Sept. 20, 2018. Trump, whom a flock of women has accused of harassment and assault, and the all-male Republican contingent on the Senate Judiciary Committee might think they have Christine Blasey Ford cornered. The reality is that she has many options, some of which are far more dangerous to Republicans than what she has demanded, namely an FBI investigation.
Ford might choose to appear on Monday, and make a powerful opening statement accusing Republicans of running a sham investigation. Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has figured out it would be a good idea to interview her in advance of Monday’s hearings, but the staffers conducting the interview would be unlikely to have the ability or the will to follow up on investigative leads.
Ford can use the hearing to put the senators, who have behaved shabbily, on defense.
Ford has another option: Hold a news conference with her own experts and make the case directly to the American people. She can sit down for an interview with a respected TV journalist. She can say whatever she wants, make certain that experts are heard and even recount the much more extensive investigative efforts undertaken when Hill stepped forward. To make her case to the American people and convince them that she is sincere, honest and credible, Ford doesn’t need the Senate.
Ford also might have the ability to go to local police to investigate if the White House refuses to activate the FBI. The Hill reports: “Can Brett Kavanaugh be investigated for an attempted rape he allegedly committed over three decades ago? In Maryland, it’s entirely possible under the law, according to some experts.
Washington Post, ‘These are the stories of our lives’: Prep school alumni hear echoes in assault claim, Joe Heim, Sept. 20, 2018 (print edition). Lettina Lanyi remembers. It was 1986, and she was in eighth grade.
Lanyi has thought about that night often since Sunday, when Christine Blasey Ford (shown at right in a high school photo) publicly accused Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when she was a 15-year-old student at Holton-Arms School and he was a 17-year-old student at Georgetown Prep. She has thought about stories of male entitlement and drunken sexual assault she heard from classmates while she was a student at Prep’s Bethesda neighbor, Stone Ridge of the Sacred Heart, and the many more stories she has heard in the years since their graduation.
There was a lot of shame and stigma then if a girl was raped, so girls tried to hide it. They didn’t tell anyone,” Lanyi said. “The term ‘date rape’ wasn’t something that even existed then. So if it happened, it was always kind of the girl’s fault.”
Lanyi’s recollection of a private school culture suffused by alcohol and drugs — and frequent if unreported sexual assault or misbehavior — is widely shared by students who attended those schools in the 1980s. It was, they recalled, an era marked by excess and illegality that went widely unchecked by parents and school leaders who were unaware or uninterested in cracking down on the behavior.
On Tuesday, Lanyi helped launch an online letter of support for Ford from women and men who grew up in the upper Northwest Washington neighborhoods and Maryland suburbs that fed into the exclusive private schools and country clubs during the same era that Ford and Kavanaugh attended their schools.
The letter’s message to Ford is unambiguous: “We believe you. Each one of us heard your story and not one of us was surprised. These are the stories of our lives and our friends’ lives.” More than 300 people signed the letter, including graduates of Stone Ridge, Georgetown Prep, Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, Gonzaga and many others.
A similar letter of support for Ford from Holton-Arms graduates bore 925 signatures Wednesday, including from actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Class of 1979. The letters came in response to a missive Friday signed by 65 women supporting Kavanaugh (shown in his 1983 yearbook photo) after the assault allegations emerged but before Ford came forward.
“We are women who have known Brett Kavanaugh for more than 35 years and knew him while he attended high school between 1979 and 1983. For the entire time we have known Brett Kavanaugh, he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect,” read the letter, from women who attended schools including Visitation, Stone Ridge and Holton-Arms.
This story is based on interviews with two dozen former students, many of whom asked not to be identified because of how tightly knit and powerful the alumni from those schools are, and because they fear retribution or harassment for speaking out on the allegations engulfing Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Washington Post, Kavanaugh accuser won’t testify Monday but is open to doing so later next week, Seung Min Kim, John Wagner and Emma Brown, Sept. 20, 2018. In an email to the Senate Judiciary Committee, a lawyer for Christine Blasey Ford said she wanted to negotiate conditions for her testimony, saying, that she “wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety.”
Roll Call, Judiciary Staffer’s Tweets Fuel Fight Over Kavanaugh Accuser, Todd Ruger, Sept. 20, 2018. ‘Unfazed and determined. We will confirm Judge Kavanaugh,’ committee’s chief staffer says.
Amid a pitched partisan battle over how the Senate handles an allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman decades ago as a teenager, liberal groups on Thursday seized on comments from a Judiciary Committee staffer to paint the process as a sham.
Mike Davis, the committee’s chief staffer for nominations, tweeted twice overnight about his key role in the committee’s review of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation, as well as criticism of Ford’s attorneys and his desired outcome of the process.
“Unfazed and determined. We will confirm Judge Kavanaugh. #ConfirmKavanaugh #SCOTUS,” Davis tweeted at 11 p.m. Wednesday.
Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Opinion: Kavanaugh and Georgetown Prep: Pedophilia acceptance, Wayne Madsen, Sept. 20, 2018 (subscription required, with excerpt below by permission). Investigative reporter and author Wayne Madsen, right, is a former Navy intelligence officer who was appointed to be a temporary FBI special agent during a period in the 1980s to help convict his Navy commanding officer on pedophilia charges.
Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s dubious nominee for the Supreme Court, not only faces questions about his views on a woman’s right to choose her own health decisions and his own questionable past treatment of women, but his elite high school.
Georgetown Preparatory High School in North Bethesda, Maryland has been a hotbed for Roman Catholic sex abuse of minors. As a member of the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh would become the court’s fifth Catholic judge. His decisions on cases involving the cover-up of child sex abuse by religious organizations and politically powerful individuals could dictate for decades to come how the nation deals with the issue of sex abuse of minors.
Mueller Probe: Election Subversion
New York Times, Investigation: The Plot to Subvert an Election, Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti, Sept. 20, 2018 (print edition). For two years, Americans have tried to absorb the details of the 2016 interference by Russia: hacked emails, social media fraud, possible espionage — and President Trump’s claims that it’s all a hoax. We unravel the story so far. Special Counsel Robert Mueller III is shown at right.
Washington Post, Trump feels angry, unprotected amid mounting crises, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker, Sept. 20, 2018 (print edition). Publicly, President Trump is going through the ordinary motions of being president. But behind the scenes, he is confronting broadsides from every direction — legal, political and personal.
New York Times, From the Anonymity of Academia to the Center of a Supreme Court Confirmation, Elizabeth Williamson, Rebecca R. Ruiz, Emily Steel, Grace Ashford and Steve Eder, Sept. 20, 2018 (print edition). Dr. Blasey, a researcher and statistician, was reluctant to come forward with her allegation that Judge Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her.
The text message from Christine Blasey Ford, shown left in a file photo, this summer worried her college best friend, Catherine Piwowarski. Over their years of friendship — as roommates, bridesmaids and parents on opposite coasts — Dr. Blasey wanted to know, had she ever confided that she had been sexually assaulted in high school?
No, Ms. Piwowarski said she texted back, she would have remembered that, and was everything O.K.? Dr. Blasey didn’t want to speak in detail quite yet, her friend recalled her responding. “I don’t know why she was asking that or what it ultimately meant or didn’t mean,” Ms. Piwowarski said in an interview, but she remembers thinking that the question betrayed deep turmoil.
New York Times, Dr. Blasey has been the target of widespread social media disinformation since she came forward. We debunk five viral rumors, Kevin Roose, Sept. 20, 2018 (print edition). Just minutes after Christine Blasey Ford, a California-based psychologist, went public with accusations of teenage sexual assault against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee, internet investigators began combing her past for clues about her possible motives, and trying to cast doubt on the veracity of her claims.
Roll Call, Judiciary Staffer’s Tweets Fuel Fight Over Kavanaugh Accuser, Todd Ruger, Sept. 20, 2018. ‘Unfazed and determined. We will confirm Judge Kavanaugh,’ committee’s chief staffer says.
Amid a pitched partisan battle over how the Senate handles an allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman decades ago as a teenager, liberal groups on Thursday seized on comments from a Judiciary Committee staffer to paint the process as a sham.
Mike Davis, the committee’s chief staffer for nominations, tweeted twice overnight about his key role in the committee’s review of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation, as well as criticism of Ford’s attorneys and his desired outcome of the process.
“Unfazed and determined. We will confirm Judge Kavanaugh. #ConfirmKavanaugh #SCOTUS,” Davis tweeted at 11 p.m. Wednesday.
Davis tweeted two hours later: “I personally questioned Judge Kavanaugh under penalty of felony and 5 years of imprisonment, if he lies. I’m still waiting to hear back from the accuser’s attorneys, who can’t find time between TV appearances to get back to me.”
The comments contrasted with the tone Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley has tried to set in letters to committee Democrats as Ford’s attorneys have so far declined to have their client testify at a hearing the committee set for Monday, saying that she first wants an FBI investigation into her allegation.
The Iowa Republican told reporters Wednesday he is focused in the next few days on “doing everything we can to make Dr. Ford comfortable with coming before our committee, either in an open session or a closed session, or a public or a private interview.”
The executive director of Demand Justice, an advocacy group that has bought advertisements opposing Kavanaugh and worked to pressure Senators to oppose the nomination, was among those who criticized Davis’ tweets and said: “The mask has slipped.”
State of Alaska, Alaska’s Governor and Lieutenant Governor oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Sept. 20, 2018. Governor Bill Walker, right, and Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott [Independents] on Thursday offered the following statement:
We oppose the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
One of our top priorities as Governor and Lieutenant Governor is expanding affordable healthcare access to all Alaskans. We supported increasing the number of people eligible to receive health insurance by increasing the pool of those who have access to Medicaid, and we have also championed protections for Alaskans with pre-existing health conditions.
Another priority of our administration is protecting the rights of working Alaskans. Mr. Kavanaugh’s record does not demonstrate a commitment to legal precedent that protects working families. Key aspects of our nation’s healthcare and labor laws may be at risk if Mr. Kavanaugh receives a lifetime appointment.
Mr. Kavanaugh’s appointment could also jeopardize the Indian Child Welfare Act, Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, and other laws that enable tribal self-determination due to his overly narrow view of the relationship between federal and tribal governments. Alaska is home to 227 tribes, nearly half of all tribes in our nation.
Finally, we believe a thorough review of past allegations against Mr. Kavanaugh, left, is needed before a confirmation vote takes place. Violence against women in Alaska is an epidemic. We do not condone placing someone into one of our nation’s highest positions of power while so many key questions remain unanswered.
New York Times, Evangelical Leaders Are Frustrated at G.O.P. Caution on Kavanaugh Allegation, Jeremy W. Peters and Elizabeth Dias, Sept. 20, 2018. Ralph Reed, the social conservative leader, said if Senate Republicans fail to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, “it will be very difficult to motivate and energize faith-based and conservative voters in November.”
Alliance for Justice, Opinion: 8 Reasons to Expect Kavanaugh’s Nomination to Fail, Bill Yeomans, right, Sept. 20, 2018. The accusation by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford that a drunken 17-year old Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her has imperiled Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. Here are eight reasons why Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination may fail.
1. Dr. Blasey Ford’s credibility is virtually unassailable.
Washington Post, Kavanaugh’s unlikely story about Democrats’ stolen documents, Salvador Rizzo, Sept. 20, 2018 (print edition). As a White House lawyer, Kavanaugh received insider information taken from Democrats’ files but has repeatedly said he never suspected that his source was stealing it. These claims defy logic.
Washington Post, Analysis: Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill showdown shadows Senate in Kavanaugh nomination, Paul Kane, Sept. 20, 2018. The Senate Judiciary Committee finds itself in politically treacherous territory — a heated Supreme Court confirmation battle with an allegation of sexual assault, ahead of an election shaping up to be a reckoning for female candidates up and down the ballot.
Not since the fall of 1991 has this committee faced such a quandary, when Clarence Thomas’s confirmation turned into a political and societal Rorschach test for what constituted sexual harassment. So much has changed, yet so little has changed. A 1991 Time Magazine cover at right illustrates the hearing.
Palmer Report, Opinion: LeBron James slam dunks Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Sept. 20, 2018. A month and a half ago, in a thinly veiled racist attack, Donald Trump insulted the intelligence of NBA superstar LeBron James.
In response, LeBron did something very smart – he decided not to give Trump the ongoing feud he was looking for. Instead LeBron ignored the insult, even as black and white athletes from various sports came to his defense. Now LeBron is finally firing back at Trump, but he’s doing it in dignified fashion.
New York Times, Once ‘99 Percent Against Trump,’ Dean Heller Calls Him ‘Great Leader,’ Jonathan Martin, Sept. 20, 2018 (print edition). Senator Dean Heller on Wednesday called President Trump “a great leader” who had revived Nevada’s economy, a striking departure from the arm’s-length approach Mr. Heller, right, took with Mr. Trump in the 2016 campaign and in the first months of his presidency.
Washington Post, Paddlers sue Coast Guard for kicking them off the Potomac when Trump is golfing, Jenna Portnoy, Sept. 20, 2018. Paddlers who use the Potomac River near President Trump’s Loudoun County golf course filed a federal lawsuit to try to reverse a policy that closes a two-mile stretch of the river when the president is playing golf.
The Coast Guard instituted the shore-to-shore security perimeter last summer, angering recreational canoers and kayakers who use the river for paddling, classes and conservation.
Democracy Forward, a nonprofit formed last year that focuses on executive branch actions, is representing the Canoe Cruisers Association of Greater Washington DC, which is based in Montgomery County.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Maryland, says Trump has made more than three dozen visits to the golf club since the rule was put into place and each time river access was restricted.
Washington Post, HUD gave pay raises, promotions to new hires with no housing experience, Tracy Jan, Sept. 20, 2018. About a third of the 70 appointees at the upper ranks of the Department of Housing and Urban Development lack policy experience, a Post analysis found.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded promotions and pay increases to five political operatives with no housing policy experience within their first months on the job, demonstrating what government watchdogs and career staff describe as a premium put on loyalty over expertise.
The raises, documented in a Washington Post analysis of HUD political hires, resulted in annual salaries between $98,000 and $155,000 for the five appointees, all of whom had worked on Donald Trump’s or Ben Carson’s presidential campaigns. Three of them did not list bachelor’s degrees on their résumés.
New York Times, Review: In ‘Fahrenheit 11/9,’ Michael Moore Targets Trump, and Us, Glenn Kenny, Sept. 20, 2018. In his new documentary examining the rise of President Trump, the director points fingers at everyone, including himself.
Michael Moore began his filmmaking career with an investigative passion and a flair for showmanship. His 1989 debut feature, “Roger & Me,” used the funny populist hook of Mr. Moore, in his working-class Everyman persona, pursuing Roger B. Smith, the then-head of General Motors, to confront him about the company’s abandonment of Mr. Moore’s hometown, Flint, Mich.
In his new documentary, “Fahrenheit 11/9,” Mr. Moore, his sense of showmanship not only intact but enhanced by a bigger production budget, fills a water truck with the same supply that’s piped to Flint residents for drinking and bathing.
This water is famously polluted with lead (among other toxins), in a yearslong scandal that’s still not come to a satisfactory conclusion. (“No terrorist organization has figured out how to poison an entire American city,” Mr. Moore notes in voice-over. “It took the Michigan Republican Party to pull that off.”) He drives the truck to the home of the most powerful Republican in Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder, and waters his lawn with it.
For Mr. Moore, the situation in Flint is a microcosm of the disaster he sees President Trump imposing on this country.
Daily Beast, U.S. Paid $1B to Contractor Accused of Bigotry at Iraq Air Base, Zack Kopplin and Irvin McCullough, Sept. 18, 2018. Sallyport Global was contracted to help keep Balad Air Base orderly, safe, and secure. But past
The U.S. government has paid Sallyport Global, a military contracting company, over $1 billion since January 2014 to provide security, life support, training and other basic operations at Balad Air Base in Iraq. But the results, according to 17 current and former Sallyport employees, have been chaotic, bizarre, in many cases sinister, and posed major risks to the personnel on the base at a time when the so-called Islamic State controlled swathes of territory nearby.
Sallyport employs roughly 1,850 people at Balad. Its company headquarters is in Virginia, but it also has a corporate presence in Bermuda.
What Sallyport runs in Iraq is basically a small army of private military contractors, known in the trade as PMCs, recruited from around the world. Employees are paid handsomely to survive insurgent attacks, blistering heat and crushing boredom for a few years while supporting American international military and policy objectives.
But unlike most armies, at Balad there was a distinct lack of discipline.
Poor leadership empowered different factions operating at the base, including white South African guards, a Bosnian “mafia,” and an Iranian-backed militia, who vied with other Sallyport employees and with the Iraqi Air Force for control over the sprawling facility north of Baghdad.
Washington Post, Opinion: In 2006, she reported her rape. Her hometown turned against her. What do we owe her? Elizabeth Bruenig, Sept. 20, 2018 (print edition). Twelve years ago, Amber Wyatt reported her rape. Few believed her. Her hometown turned against her. The authorities failed her.
Washington Post, Employee at Md. distribution center fatally shoots herself after killing 3 people, wounding 3 others, Dana Hedgpeth and Justin Jouvenal, Sept. 20, 2018. The attacker, a 26-year-old woman from Baltimore County, reported to work at a Rite Aid distribution facility near Aberdeen, Md., before she started shooting about 9 a.m., said Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler.
Washington Post, As ‘Doonesbury’ characters turn 50, Garry Trudeau describes his journey from pummeling Nixon to tackling Trump, Michael Cavna, Sept. 20, 2018 (print edition). It was the summer of 1968, and Garry Trudeau, home after a seasonal job in Washington, had a few days to kill before returning for his junior year at Yale. So he sat on his bed in Saranac Lake, N.Y., and began to draw; by the end of an afternoon, he had created a week of comic strips that would alter the entire direction of his life.
There, in incipient form, he rendered B.D., a quarterback character named as a nod to Yale football player Brian Dowling. This was a sports strip, Trudeau recounts, but B.D. and his teammates did more talking than tackling, with their Vietnam War-era huddle serving less as an arena for marching orders and more as a verbal playground for exchanging ideas.
The next week, Trudeau took his four-panel samples to the Yale Daily News, where executive editor Reed Hundt told the aspiring cartoonist: “They’re all right. We publish pretty much anything.” And so on Sept. 30 — 50 years ago this month — the characters of what would become “Doonesbury” first saw the light of publication, beginning what Trudeau calls his “life’s project.”
Kavanaugh Court Battle
New York Times, Kavanaugh’s Supporters and His Accuser Are at an Impasse Over Her Testimony, Peter Baker and Nicholas Fandos, Sept. 19, 2018. The confrontation between Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh and his accuser devolved into a polarizing stalemate on Wednesday as Democrats and Republicans advanced competing narratives to convince voters that the other side has been unfair in the Supreme Court confirmation battle.
Christine Blasey Ford, the professor who alleged that Judge Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers, said a Senate hearing set for Monday to hear her allegation would not be fair and Democrats insisted that an F.B.I. investigation take place first. Backed by President Trump, Senate Republicans rejected any F.B.I. inquiry, and said that Monday was her chance to be heard.
Dr. Blasey’s resistance to appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday seemed to galvanize Republicans and drew wavering Republican senators back into Judge Kavanaugh’s camp. Barring new information or an agreement by Dr. Blasey to testify after all, Judge Kavanaugh may now have enough momentum to be confirmed as early as next week. Republicans set a committee meeting for Wednesday for a possible vote to move the nomination to the floor.
In a statement, Lisa J. Banks, a lawyer for Dr. Blasey, said on Wednesday that her client was still willing to work with the Judiciary Committee, but was not convinced that a hearing featuring just her and Judge Kavanaugh would be adequate.
“The committee’s stated plan to move forward with a hearing that has only two witnesses is not a fair or good faith investigation; there are multiple witnesses whose names have appeared publicly and should be included in any proceeding,” Ms. Banks said. “The rush to a hearing is unnecessary, and contrary to the committee discovering the truth.”
Washington Post, Kavanaugh accuser’s lawyer: GOP’s rush for hearing is unfair, Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey and John Wagner, Sept. 19, 2018. Senate Republicans signaled they will continue to push for a vote soon on embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation while the attorney for the woman who accused Kavanaugh of a sexual assault decades ago called the GOP insistence on a public hearing next week “not a fair or good faith investigation.”
#MeToo: ‘This Incident Did Happen’
The New Civil Rights Movement, ‘This Incident Did Happen’: Woman Says She Knew Kavanaugh and ‘Many of Us Heard About It in School,’ David Badash, Sept. 19, 2018. Christine Blasey Ford’s high school who have signed on to a letter supporting her has come forward to say Brett Kavanaugh did sexually assault Christine Blasey in high school. Dr. Ford is shown at right in high school. She says she was 15 at the time she was attacked.
In postings to Facebook and Twitter, which she says she has since deleted because the media is contacting her and she is unsure of how to move forward, Christina King writes that at the time, ‘many of us heard about it in school and Christine’s recollection should be more than enough for us to truly, deeply know the accusation is true.’
King, who has also been identified as Christina King Miranda, says drinking in those days at these private Catholic prep schools was ‘out of control.’
See also, OpEdNews, ‘This Incident Did Happen’: Woman Says She Knew Kavanaugh and ‘Many of Us Heard About It in School, Rob Kall (Founder and publisher of prominent progressive site OpEdNews that has extensive social media capabilities), Sept. 19, 2018. Quick Link: ‘This Incident Did Happen.’
More #MeToo Claims
New York Times, Mavericks and Mark Cuban Sanctioned by N.B.A. Over Handling of Sexual Harassment, Scott Cacciola, Sept. 19, 2018. An investigation determined Cuban could have done more to address misconduct among team officials. The owner agreed to donate $10 million to charities in lieu of a fine.
Mark Cuban (shown in a file photo), the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, will pay $10 million to women’s leadership and domestic-violence organizations under an agreement with the N.B.A. announced Wednesday to address sexual harassment and other improper conduct among employees in the team’s front office.
The payment, and other reporting, staffing and leadership changes, are a result of a monthslong investigation into accusations against several employees, including the former team president and chief executive, Terdema Ussery.
Cuban did not face accusations of misconduct, but the investigation found his supervision severely lacking, and he agreed to the payment, avoiding a fine. Still, the payment by far exceeds the amount of any fine the league has imposed on a team or owner.
New York Times, New York Review of Books Editor Is Out Amid Uproar Over #MeToo Essay, Cara Buckley, Sept. 19, 2018. Ian Buruma, the editor of The New York Review of Books, left his position on Wednesday amid an uproar over the magazine’s publication of an essay by a disgraced Canadian radio broadcaster who had been accused of sexually assaulting women.
“Ian Buruma is no longer the editor of The New York Review of Books,” Nicholas During, a publicist for the magazine, wrote in an email.
The essay’s author, Jian Ghomeshi, who was acquitted of sexual assault charges in 2016, lamented his status as a pariah, “constantly competing with a villainous version of myself online.”
It caused immediate furor, with some criticizing what they saw as a self-pitying tone, and soft pedaling of the accusations, which included slapping and choking, and had come from more than 20 women, rather than “several,” as Mr. Ghomeshi wrote. Mr. Buruma drew further censure by giving an interview that many interpreted as showing a lack of interest in the accusations against Mr. Ghomeshi.
More On Kavanaugh Battle
Raw Story, Former Georgetown Prep classmate calls Kavanaugh accusations ‘story I know was repeated dozens of times,’ Sarah K. Burris, Sept. 19, 2018. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault while in a room with friend Mark Judge. Judge has since come to Kavanaugh’s defense with emphatic declarations about their lives at Georgetown Prep. But one fellow classmate is calling Judge out for his history of victim-shaming.
According to a Facebook post by Eric Ruyak, Judge went on the attack after Ruyak alleged a priest from Georgetown Prep molested him.
“For those of you who don’t know, I went to Georgetown Prep, where both Kavanaugh and Gorsuch went as well,” wrote Ruyak. “When I came forward with allegations regarding Gary Orr, a former priest, sexually assaulting me…Mark Judge (Kavanaugh’s friend in this who despicable story of sexual assault) reached out to alums saying that Gary Orr was a great priest and that I had obviously been corrupted by liberalism into a homosexual and therefore was most definitely lying.”
Years later, Orr admitted to raping many children and Georgetown Prep confessed to the incident in a letter to parents and students. “There are inevitable feelings of sadness, disbelief and anger, which are the same emotions I have been struggling with,” Rev. William L. George, president of Georgetown Prep. said in a letter.
Palmer Report, Classmate corroborates Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations against Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Palmer, Sept. 19, 2018. After Senate Republicans blinked by agreeing to delay the committee confirmation vote for Brett Kavanaugh until his accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford could testify, she decided to up the ante by demanding that the FBI criminally investigate the matter before she testifies. Now a former classmate of Ford is corroborating her accusations, raising the stakes even further.
Cristina King Miranda made a lengthy post on social media, in which she stated that “This incident did happen. Many of us heard about it in school.” In legal terms this is a big deal. Miranda didn’t personally witness the incident in question. But because people were talking about the incident shortly after it happened, it means one of two things. Either Ford was telling people about the incident back then, or someone else at the party witnessed it and was aware of it back then. At the least, this proves that this is not some story that Ford has fabricated in adulthood.
Miranda has since deleted her original post, before tweeting this explanation: “Hi all, deleted this because it served its purpose and I am now dealing with a slew of requests for interviews from The Wash Post, CNN, CBS News. Organizing how I want to proceed. Was not ready for that, not sure I am interested in pursuing. Thanks for reading.” She then added “To all media, I will not be doing anymore interviews. No more circus. To clarify my post: I do not have first hand knowledge of the incident that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford mentions, and I stand by my support for Christine. That’s it. I don’t have more to say on the subject.”
Congressman Ted Lieu, a former JAG prosector, retweeted Miranda’s letter and added this: “Additional evidence below that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is telling the truth about having been sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh.” In other words, this is indeed an important legal development. If Dr. Ford is successful in leveraging her testimony into an FBI investigation, Miranda is precisely the kind of witness the FBI would want to speak with.
It’s also a reminder that if the FBI does start investigating Brett Kavanaugh, the odds are that he will end up in prison – particularly when you throw in his recent felony perjury – and he’s familiar enough with the federal criminal justice system to know that his freedom would be at stake.
Roll Call, McCaskill to Vote ‘No’ on Kavanaugh, Staff report, Missouri Democrat is one of the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbents, Sept. 19, 2018. Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill announced Wednesday that she will not support Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. In a statement posted on Twitter, the Democrat attributed her decision to the nominee’s “positions on several key issues, most importantly the avalanche of dark, anonymous money that is crushing our democracy.”
Kavanaugh’s nomination has been rocked by allegations that he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford at a party when the two were in high school in the 1980s. McCaskill said she did not base her decision on the allegations, which she said were “troubling and deserve a thorough and fair examination by the Senate Judiciary Committee.”
McCaskill is one of the most vulnerable senators running for re-election this year. Her Republican opponent, state Attorney General Josh Hawley, has made the Supreme Court vacancy a centerpiece of his campaign. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Missouri Senate race a Toss-up.
Palmer Report, Brett Kavanaugh’s own words about Georgetown Prep come back to bite him, Bill Palmer, Sept. 19, 2018. Brett Kavanaugh now stands accused of having attempted to rape Dr. Christine Blasey Ford during a party, back when he was a high school student at Georgetown Prep, and she was attending a nearby high school. Ford has gone into great detail about the incident; Kavanaugh claims he never even attended any such party. But now Kavanaugh’s own words are coming back to bite him.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has unearthed a video from 2015 in which Brett Kavanaugh told an audience that “Fortunately we’ve had a good saying that we’ve held firm to, to this day, as the Dean was reminding me before the talk, which is what happens at Georgetown Prep, stays at Georgetown Prep.” The audience responded with what sounded like nervous laughter.
Kavanaugh was clearly trying to spin the famous “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” tagline, which has long been seen as a pitch that any debauchery you engage in while visiting Las Vegas won’t follow you home. It’s more than a bit unsettling to hear any adult insist that the same motto would apply to his time in high school. He’s a federal judge and a nominee for the Supreme Court, so everything he’s ever done in his life is fair game for determining his suitability.
Yet even after becoming a judge, Brett Kavanaugh went on to make this remark. In so doing, he tacitly acknowledged that his high school years were indeed full of debauchery, while insisting that none of it is anyone’s business, and thinking it’s hilarious that his former classmates would cover for anything he’s done.
When you place this within the context of what Christine Blasey Ford is asserting about Kavanaugh’s high school years, it takes on a profoundly disturbing context.
Palmer Report, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s gambit to put Brett Kavanaugh in the barrel, Robert Harrington, Sept. 19, 2018. Imagine this: you’re a woman who was sexually assaulted. You’re asked to testify about it in front of a panel dominated by men who are desperate to see the man you’ve accused be exonerated. In fact their political lives depend on it.
These men each have richly deserved reputations for hypocrisy, double-dealing, lying, criminal activity and cowardice. Most of them have legal backgrounds. There exists no criminal remedy or consequences if the men interrogating you lie, deceive you, twist your words, or set traps for you in bad faith. Your testimony may be televised. What’s not to love about it?
Such is the quandary facing Dr Christine Blasey Ford in her testimony against Brett Kavanaugh in front of the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, and such is the measure of her veracity that she is nevertheless willing to go through with it anyway. That’s with just one single proviso: that the FBI investigates her allegations first.
And what a proviso it is. Lying to the FBI is a felony. Everyone involved in this incident can go to prison if they lie to the FBI, including Brett Kavanaugh, the witnesses involved, and Dr Ford herself. It’s the kind of proviso only a person telling the truth would make, and it’s the kind of proviso only a person or group of people with something to hide would do everything possible to avoid.
So it comes as no surprise that Republican Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa is opposed to the idea. “Dr. Ford’s testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events,” Grassley said in a statement. “Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay.”
If you’re having trouble making sense of Grassley’s attempt to explain why having the FBI investigate Dr Ford’s complaint is a bad idea, have no fear. You didn’t misread it. Grassley’s rationale is pure, unalloyed bullshit. An FBI investigation would inject the fear of prison into the bowels of Kavanaugh and any other witness tempted to lie. That is a powerful inducement to tell the truth. Dr. Ford knows this and wants it. Senator Grassley knows it and doesn’t want it. Any questions?
Kavanaugh Credibility, Costs
New York Times, Christine Blasey Ford Wants F.B.I. to Investigate Kavanaugh Before She Testifies, Peter Baker, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Nicholas Fandos, Sept. 19, 2018 (print edition). The woman who has accused President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault all but ruled out appearing at an extraordinary Senate hearing scheduled for next week to hear her allegations, insisting on Tuesday that the F.B.I. investigate first.
Speaking through lawyers, Christine Blasey Ford said she would cooperate with the Senate Judiciary Committee and left open the possibility of testifying later about her allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, left. But echoing Senate Democrats, she said an investigation should be “the first step” before she is put “on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident.”
Republicans signaled Tuesday night that they would not negotiate an alternative date and would go ahead with the hearing without her or declare it unnecessary if she refuses to appear, then possibly move to a vote. They have repeatedly stressed that Monday would be Dr. Blasey’s opportunity to testify, either privately or publicly, and that they planned to move forward with the confirmation process afterward.
Washington Post, Kavanaugh’s accuser thought her life would be upended. She was right, Elise Viebeck, Sept. 19, 2018. Within hours of coming forward, Christine Blasey Ford faced multiple attacks on her privacy and credibility, confirming her fears about what would happen if she went public and echoing the backlash faced by other accusers in the #MeToo era.
Washington Post, Republicans fear Kavanaugh confirmation could come at a steep political cost, Robert Costa, Sept. 19, 2018. Facing a torrent of scrutiny about how they are handling the sexual assault accusation against Brett M. Kavanaugh, a male-dominated GOP is unnerved by the potential fallout of the charged, gender-infused debates that have upended this campaign season.
Roll Call, Grassley Says Monday Hearing Not Likely Without Kavanaugh Accuser, John T. Bennett, Sept. 19, 2018. Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, right, said Wednesday a planned Monday hearing on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh would likely not go on without accuser Christine Blasey Ford.
Asked about Ford saying she wouldn’t appear on Monday, the chairman indicated it would not go on without the accuser present because the nominee would not know the full scope of allegations against him. Any decision to cancel that session, Grassley said, will be made at the “last” possible minute.
Washington Post, Trump says it is ‘very hard for me to imagine anything happened’ between Kavanaugh and his sexual assault accuser, Staff report, Sept. 19, 2018. President Trump praised Brett M. Kavanaugh, his Supreme Court nominee, while leaving the White House en route to the Carolinas, but said Christine Blasey Ford deserves to be heard about her claim that she was sexually assaulted while both were teenagers. “If she shows up and makes a credible showing, that will be very interesting and we’ll have to make a decision,” Trump said.
Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has bizarre midnight meltdown after Brett Kavanaugh nomination falls apart, Bill Palmer, Sept. 19, 2018. This evening we saw the Brett Kavanaugh nomination fall apart after Dr. Ford demanded that the FBI investigate Kavanaugh before she testifies.
That’s backed him into a corner where he’ll seriously risk going to prison if he doesn’t drop out very soon. Shortly after Palmer Report explained why Ford had just achieved checkmate, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell both went on to opine the the nomination is indeed collapsing. Right around midnight, Trump seemed to figure that out as well.
Washington Post, Analysis: Senate Republicans are playing hardball with accuser in push to swiftly confirm Kavanaugh, James Hohmann, Sept. 19, 2018. Republicans say they plan to go ahead with a new hearing whether Christine Blasey Ford is there or not, a take-it-or-leave-it gambit that risks backfiring politically.
Washington Post, Opinion: These quotes from Republicans give away their game on Kavanaugh, Greg Sargent, Sept. 19, 2018. The Republicans’ strategy to get Brett Kavanaugh confirmed is to do the absolute minimum necessary to appear as if they are taking the sexual assault charges against him seriously — while doing all they can to limit the ability of the American people to make a fully informed judgment about those charges themselves.
The words and actions of Republicans themselves confirm the rationale behind this strategy: Any delay and further fact-finding might make it less likely that Kavanaugh gets confirmed and could threaten more political damage to the GOP’s chances in the midterms. And if confirmation is delayed past the election, and Democrats somehow do win the Senate, that throws the seat’s fate into some doubt
What could have been a peaceful moment between President Trump and Polish President Andrzej Duda, left, immediately took an awkward turn (White House photo).
Washington Post, Poland used to be okay with Trump. Then, he posted a photo, Rick Noack, Sept. 19, 2018. Poland is one of the few European countries where President Trump is still not only welcome but indeed sought after. When Polish President Andrzej Duda visited the White House on Tuesday, he repeatedly praised the president and even floated the idea of naming a possible future U.S. military base in his country Fort Trump.
The Polish government did everything it could to turn Tuesday’s visit into one of Trump’s more enjoyable moments.
But while signing the document, Trump sat comfortably in his chair while the Polish leader was forced to stand next to him and awkwardly reach over the table to sign. Poland’s Duda still somehow managed to smile at the camera, as Trump looked on with a stern face. The scene was captured on camera by the White House and was tweeted out shortly after — much to the bewilderment of Polish journalists, politicians and researchers.
Washington Post, ‘I don’t have an attorney general’: Trump escalates his attacks on Jeff Sessions, John Wagner and Matt Zapotosky, Sept. 19, 2018 (print edition). In an interview with Hill.TV, President Trump offered a scathing review of the attorney general, right, including his work on immigration.
WhoWhatWhy, Drunk With Power — Quotations and Context for the Trump Era, Milicent Cranor, Sept. 19, 2018. The people who work for President Donald Trump have a tricky job to do: They must, in effect, act as dry cleaners for the emperor’s new clothes. Quoted below are some magnificent insights into evil and its various forms, some of which are insidious.
New York Times, They Were Seeking Mental Health Care. Instead They Drowned in a Sheriff’s Van, Tyler Pager, Campbell Robertson and Chris Dixon
Sept. 19, 2018. Nicolette Green had decided to get better. The medication she was taking to treat her schizophrenia had calmed her and cleared her head. On Tuesday morning, her oldest daughter, Rose, with whom she had spent the weekend waiting out Hurricane Florence, drove her to her regular counseling session.
A new therapist saw Ms. Green, 43, that day. And within a half-hour of evaluating her, he wanted her committed, said Donnela Green-Johnson, Ms. Green’s sister.
After hours of filling out paperwork, Ms. Green said goodbye to her daughter. She told Rose that this was a good thing, that she would be O.K., that they would soon all be a happy family again watching movies together at home.
Then Rose watched, troubled, as sheriff’s deputies patted her mother down and put her in a van to take her to a hospital almost two hours away. Rose, 19, recalled the deputies having handcuffs out when they frisked her mother, though she did not know if they put them on.
Sometime that evening, the van, carrying Ms. Green and Wendy Newton, another woman being transported to a mental health facility, was overtaken by the flooding waters of the Pee Dee River. The two sheriff’s deputies in the van managed to get out, said Sheriff Phillip E. Thompson of Horry County in a Wednesday afternoon news conference. The women did not.
By the time emergency workers arrived by boat and found the deputies on the van’s roof, it was too dark to dive. The van, with Ms. Green and Ms. Newton inside, remained in the waters by Highway 76 overnight. Their bodies were recovered Wednesday evening.
For the families of the two dead women, there was one big question: How could the state take someone in, ostensibly to make her better, to protect her even from herself — and then let her drown by the side of a highway?
Shocking Sports Racism
Washington Post, Texas superintendent regrets disparaging Deshaun Watson on basis of being a black QB, Des Bieler, Sept. 19, 2018 (print edition). A Texas school district superintendent is claiming he regrets saying of the Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson (now of the National Football League, NFL) after an award-winning career in college), “You can’t count on a black quarterback.”
The comment was posted to a Houston Chronicle Facebook page, and the official said he thought he was responding instead to a private message from a friend.
Climate Change Disasters
New York Times, Jerry Brown Made Climate Change His Issue. The Result: Attacks From All Sides, Somini Sengupta, Sept. 19, 2018 (print edition). The California governor, set to retire in January, made global warming a signature cause. His appraisal: “I don’t know if I’m an optimist. I’m a realist.”
Syrian War Analysis
Washington Post, Russia-Turkey deal may delay, but not prevent, a battle for Syria’s Idlib province, Liz Sly and Louisa Loveluck, Sept. 19, 2018 (print edition). Syrians disagreed Tuesday about what a new Russia-Turkey deal means, casting into doubt whether it will ultimately prevent a potentially devastating war for control of the Syrian province of Idlib.
The deal announced Monday has been broadly welcomed as an opportunity to forestall the full-scale Syrian government offensive against Idlib that has been widely feared, averting the humanitarian catastrophe it was expected to trigger.
Under the broad terms of the agreement outlined by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russia and Turkey will jointly oversee the creation of a nine-mile demilitarized zone between rebel and Syrian government lines intended to keep the two sides apart.
Investigations: Huge Scams Alleged
Legal Schnauzer, Opinion: What happened to almost $40 million Alabama investors gave for a Russian lottery; did it wind up in an offshore account or maybe a Riley office building? Roger Shuler, Sept. 19, 2018. Alabama investors, including the late VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor lost almost $40 million on a proposed Russian-lottery scheme that Rob Riley and his gaming partner, Robert Sigler, cooked up, according to a state political insider.
Also, the insider says the Riley family and associates still could face criminal prosecution in the matter. McGregor lost about $26 million, and Montgomery lawyer Tommy Gallion (and several of his friends) lost about $10 million, according to whistle blower, oppo researcher and retired attorney Jill Simpson.
Washington Post, Investment scam netted more than $350 million, prosecutors allege, cheating mostly Md., Va. residents, Ann E. Marimow, Sept. 19, 2018. The reported Ponzi scheme traded on the consumer debt crisis and built fortunes for the defendants, federal officials contend in charges.
The American Conservative, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, Bruce Fein, right, Sept. 19, 2018. Bradley Birkenfeld exposed massive tax evasion in offshore banks, and was jailed for his efforts. Last Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that while its amnesty program for tax cheats is coming to a close, the IRS will continue its decade-long investigation of income tax evasion by tens of thousands of American billionaires and millionaires holding secret offshore accounts in Switzerland or otherwise.
The program’s success, WSJ noted, was partly owned to one UBS bank whistleblower, Bradley Birkenfeld, who exposed his bank’s industrial scale criminality and helped recoup some over $780 million in owed taxes from UBS for the government.
Birkenfeld was awarded $104 million by the government for his efforts. What was unsaid, however, even more astonishing: they awarded him after sending him to prison for two years. This despite all of his game-changing disclosures, which not only included the massive UBS corruption but helped expose schemes totaling some $17 billion from the most powerful banks in the world.
As we’ve seen with the federal government so many times—no good deed goes unpunished in this town.
CNN, Ford wants FBI investigation before testifying, Sophie Tatum, Sept. 18, 2018. The woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault says the FBI should investigate the incident before senators hold a hearing on the allegations.
In a letter addressed to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and obtained by CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” Christine Blasey Ford’s attorneys argue that “a full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner, and that the Committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions.”
The letter from Ford’s lawyers notes that despite receiving a “stunning amount of support from her community,” Ford has also “been the target of vicious harassment and even death threats” and has been forced to leave her home.
“We would welcome the opportunity to talk with you and Ranking Member Feinstein to discuss reasonable steps as to how Dr. Ford can cooperate while also taking care of her own health and security,” the letter from Ford’s lawyers said.
“What we’re saying is there should be an investigation because that’s the right thing to do,” Ford’s attorney Lisa Banks told Cooper.
“She is prepared to cooperate with the committee and with any law enforcement investigation,” she added.
The letter comes after a day of uncertainty about whether the hearing scheduled for Monday would even take place, as Republicans continued to emphasize their repeated efforts to reach out to Ford.
Democrats have pushed back on the hearing. All 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter on Tuesday to FBI Director Christopher Wray and White House counsel Don McGahn arguing that the FBI should conduct an investigation prior to a hearing.
Republican U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Members
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans
- Chuck Grassley, Iowa, Chairman, right.
- Orrin Hatch, Utah.
- Lindsey Graham, South Carolina.
- John Cornyn, Texas.
- Mike Lee, Utah.
- Ted Cruz, Texas.
- Ben Sasse, Nebraska.
- Jeff Flake, Arizona.
Yahoo News, Analysis: Republican men — and not a single GOP woman — will be Christine Blasey Ford’s interrogators on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Alexander Nazaryan, Sept. 18, 2018. Next week, Christine Blasey Ford will likely face intense questioning from Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee about the truthfulness of her accusations against Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee, who she says attempted to rape her during a party in the 1980s. Her turn on Capitol Hill could decide Kavanaugh’s suddenly uncertain fate, as well as the Supreme Court’s direction for a generation.
Ford will face questions from the 11 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Ford will face questions from the 11 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, all of them men, with an average age of 62. (The chairman, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the second-oldest sitting senator, is 85.) In the committee’s 202-year history, it has not had a single Republican woman. Four of the 10 Democrats are women, including ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who is a few months older than Grassley. The committee has never been chaired by a woman.
The spectacle of Ford, 51, being interrogated about her sexual history by older men could present an uncomfortable sight that the White House may take great pains to avoid. The outrage over that discrepancy, however, is already building. “In the year 2018, a group of white men has essentially complete control over lifetime nominations to an entire branch of government,” tweeted Robert Reich, the former Labor secretary and current Berkeley professor. The message was retweeted more than 2,000 times
In the last 40 years, use of the judiciary to advance ideological goals has rendered the process of nominating judges highly political, with nominees evaluated on a narrow range of cultural issues, notably abortion, gun control and, until recently, gay marriage. That has tended to turn the Senate Judiciary into a hotbed of assertive ideologues, including, recently, Jeff Sessions and Ted Cruz. GOP women have made their contributions elsewhere, effectively ceding judicial nominations to their male counterparts.
Washington Post, Democrats protest plan to limit witnesses at new Kavanaugh hearing, John Wagner, Seung Min Kim and Robert Costa, Sept. 18, 2018. No. 2 Senate Republican sharply questions credibility of Kavanaugh accuser·The No. 2 Republican in the Senate on Tuesday sharply questioned the credibility of the woman who has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, as GOP leaders indicated they will limit witnesses at next week’s hearing to just the Supreme Court nominee and his accuser.
Speaking to reporters, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), right, said he was concerned by “gaps” in the account of Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor in California, who told The Washington Post in an interview published Sunday that Kavanaugh drunkenly pinned her to a bed on her back, groped her and put his hand over her mouth at a house party in the early 1980s when the two were in high school.
“The problem is, Dr. Ford can’t remember when it was, where it was, or how it came to be,” Cornyn told reporters at the Capitol late Tuesday morning.
When asked whether he was questioning the accuser’s account — which Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied — Cornyn said, “There are some gaps there that need to be filled.”
His comments came shortly after Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) outlined a plan to limit testimony at Monday’s planned hearing to that provided by Kavanaugh and Ford — which brought cries of protest from Democrats.
They insisted that other witnesses also be called, including Mark Judge, a Kavanaugh friend who Ford said witnessed the assault. “What about other witnesses like Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge?” ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California said in a statement. “What about individuals who were previously told about this incident? What about experts who can speak to the effects of this kind of trauma on a victim? This is another attempt by Republicans to rush this nomination and not fully vet Judge Kavanaugh.”
Speaking to reporters later, Grassley defended his plan. “We’ve had two people that want to tell their story and that’s what we’re gonna do,” he said. Pressed about the precedent of the Hill hearing, Grassley said: “You’re talking about history. We’re not looking back. We’re looking forward.”
Kavanaugh was at the White House on Tuesday for a second day in a row, but Trump said he has not spoken to him.
New York Times, Kavanaugh and His Accuser Will Both Testify Monday, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Sept. 18, 2018 (print edition). The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, under mounting pressure from senators of his own party, will call President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, and the woman who has accused him of sexual assault before the committee on Monday for extraordinary public hearings just weeks before the midterm elections.
Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, told reporters Monday afternoon that the chairman, Senator Charles E. Grassley, right, Republican of Iowa, told senators there would be an “opportunity” for senators to hear from Judge Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, in a public setting where senators would be able to ask questions. Both have said they are willing to testify. A Senate Republican aide confirmed that it would be on Monday, effectively delaying a planned committee vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, which had been scheduled for this Thursday.
The hearings will set up a potentially explosive public showdown, one that carries unmistakable echoes of the 1991 testimony of Anita Hill, who accused the future Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in an episode that riveted the nation and ushered a slew of women into public office. They will play out against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, which has energized Democratic women across the nation.
Brandeis University professor Anita Hill, as portrayed in the 2013 documentary “Anita” based on her experiences testifying against future Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
New York Times, Opinion: How to Get the Kavanaugh Hearings Right, Anita Hill, Sept. 18, 2018. The Senate Judiciary Committee has a chance to do better by the country than it did nearly three decades ago.
Select a neutral investigative body with experience in sexual misconduct cases that will investigate the incident in question and present its findings to the committee. Outcomes in such investigations are more reliable and less likely to be perceived as tainted by partisanship. Senators must then rely on the investigators’ conclusions, along with advice from experts, to frame the questions they ask Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Blasey. Again, the senators’ fact-finding roles must guide their behavior. The investigators’ report should frame the hearing, not politics or myths about sexual assault.
Do not rush these hearings. Doing so would not only signal that sexual assault accusations are not important — hastily appraising this situation would very likely lead to facts being overlooked that are necessary for the Senate and the public to evaluate. That the committee plans to hold a hearing this coming Monday is discouraging. Simply put, a week’s preparation is not enough time for meaningful inquiry into very serious charges.
WUSA (Washington, DC), Brett Kavanaugh high school yearbook raises new questions about Supreme Court nominee, Staff report, Sept. 18, 2018. Brett Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook has pages dedicated to each graduating high school senior. Kavanaugh’s page includes references to the “Keg City Club” and “100 kegs or bust.“
Amid accusations of sexual assault against a woman while in high school, the high school yearbook of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has prompted more questions about his character.
Kavanaugh, shown in a file photo, graduated from Bethesda’s Georgetown Prep high school in 1983.
Washington, D.C.-area attorney Seth Berenzweig received the yearbook from a woman who did not want her name revealed. Berenzweig says she brought it forward after seeing Judge Kavanaugh’s repeated denial of engaging in inappropriate behavior with a then 15-year-old girl at a high school party.
“The question of integrity and character and fitness,” said Berenzweig. “There’s information here that appears to potentially be inconsistent with what the judge said earlier this morning.”
The yearbook has pages dedicated to each graduating high school senior. Kavanaugh’s page includes references to the “Keg City Club” and “100 kegs or bust.”
“[He’s] someone who apparently may have had a reputation for some heavy drinking,” said Berenzweig. Kavanaugh’s page also includes a reference to the ‘Devil’s Triangle’, one possible interpretation of which is slang for a sexual situation involving two men and a woman.
The allegations against Kavanaugh are that he attempted to sexually assault a woman at a high school party during his junior year. Published reports and the alleged victim’s recollection is that another Georgetown Prep student, and friend of Kavanaugh’s, named Mark Judge was also present in the room during the alleged assault.
Lawyer says excerpts from Brett Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook raises questions. Judge’s yearbook page includes this quote, “Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs.” His page also references “100 kegs or bust” and “Alcoholics Unanimous [Founder].”
Roll Call, Mark Judge, Possible Witness to Alleged Brett Kavanaugh Sexual Assault, Does Not Want to Testify, Niels Lesniewski, Sept. 18, 2018. The third person identified by Christine Blasey Ford as having been present in the room during what she alleged was a sexual assault by Judge Brett Kavanaugh wants no part of the Judiciary Committee proceedings. Mark Judge is shown at right.
Washington Post, Trump says he feels ‘badly’ for Kavanaugh: ‘This is not a man who deserves this,’ Seung Min Kim, Robert Costa and John Wagner, Sept. 18, 2018. President Trump said during a news conference at the White House that he supports the congressional hearing on an allegation that Brett M. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman in high school, because there shouldn’t be any doubt about his innocence. Trump also blamed Democrats for not bringing the allegation forward sooner.
Palmer Report, Opinion: Susan Collins just threw a big monkey wrench into the GOP’s Brett Kavanaugh plot, Bill Palmer, Sept. 18, 2018. Even after the Republican leadership announced last night that it was agreeing to delay the Senate Judiciary Committee vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, it was clear the GOP was still playing games. This was set up as a rush job in which Kavanaugh and his accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford would each quickly testify on Monday before any real investigating could be done. Now Republican Senator Susan Collins has thrown a big monkey wrench into that plan.
Here’s what Susan Collins, right, tweeted this afternoon: “I’m writing to the Chairman & RM of Judiciary Cmte respectfully recommending that at Monday’s hearing, counsel for Prof. Ford be allocated time to question Judge Kavanaugh & counsel for the Judge be granted equal time to question Prof. Ford, followed by questions from Senators. Such an approach would provide more continuity, elicit the most information & allow an in-depth examination of the allegations.” Wait, so what is she up to?
She has clearly decided that she wants Monday’s testimony to be something of substance, where Kavanaugh can be grilled by a legal professional in front of the cameras. Collins has to know that Kavanaugh, who has already proven himself to be an inept and self-contradictory witness on various matters, would fare poorly in such a scenario.
Palmer Report, Opinion: Robert Mueller’s new Michael Flynn move means he’s way ahead of where he thought he was, Bill Palmer, Sept. 18, 2018. Michael Flynn, right, is going to prison. Of course we’ve already known that since last December, when he first cut a cooperating plea deal, and pleaded guilty to the kind of thing that you go to prison for. But as of yesterday it’s basically a done deal.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally decided that he no longer needs any help from Flynn, and he’s told a judge to go ahead and lock him up. That’s remarkable, considering that Flynn was the “Lock her up” guy. But there’s more to this.
Yes, it’s rather appropriate that after Michael Flynn spent the election demanding that Hillary Clinton be sent to prison for imaginary crimes that never existed, Flynn is the one who is now going to prison – for crimes he committed while participating in a conspiracy to rig the election against her. But let’s not forget what the (apparently amicable) conclusion of a cooperation agreement means: Mueller is signaling that he doesn’t need Flynn anymore.
Trade War Expands
Washington Post, China retaliates with tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. imports after Trump’s latest move in trade war, Danielle Paquette, Sept. 18, 2018. Beijing will immediately retaliate against President Trump’s new tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports, setting the stage for a protracted dispute that could raise prices of household goods in both countries.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, has refused to budge amid mounting threats from Trump, who vowed to place higher border taxes on practically everything the United States buys from China if Beijing unveils new duties next week.
“In order to safeguard our legitimate rights and interests and the global free trade order, China will have to take countermeasures,” the country’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement. “We deeply regret this.”
The Chinese government previously warned it would hit back with tariffs on an additional $60 billion in American goods following Trump’s escalation, which would slap higher border taxes on nearly all U.S. exports to China.
Trump accused China in a pair of tweets Tuesday of targeting American workers in the heartland, wrongly saying the country had “openly stated” it was aiming to sway U.S. elections. (Beijing’s earlier round of tariffs, launched in July, hit U.S. soybeans and pork, among other goods.)
Inside Trump Team
Washington Post, Embattled FEMA chief Brock Long facing possible criminal investigation, Nick Miroff and William Wan, Sept. 18, 2018 (prin edition). William “Brock” Long, the top official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is facing a potential criminal probe related to his use of government vehicles, after an internal investigation into his travel was referred to U.S. attorneys for prosecution, according to administration officials and others familiar with the matter.
The development intensifies pressure on Long, shown at right, to step down and comes as he leads FEMA’s response to Hurricane Florence.
WhoWhatWhy, Breaking News: Federal Judge Rules ‘No’ on Paper Ballots in Georgia, Timothy Pratt, Sept. 18, 2018. A federal judge has ruled that Georgia’s vulnerable electronic voting machines must stay in place for the November elections, striking down the plaintiffs’ motion to immediately replace them with paper ballots.
Washington Post, Race-blind’ Va. political map offered to replace one deemed racially gerrymandered, Laura Vozzella, Sept. 18, 2018. Facing an Oct. 30 deadline, GOP leaders proposed a remedial redistricting map to replace one deemed unconstitutional because of the way black voters were concentrated into a few districts.
Roll Call, Court Bucks Chief Justice, Sheds Light on Dark Money Donors, Kate Ackley, Sep 18, 2018. Justices denied stay of lower court ruling requiring. donor disclosure.
Some political groups may no longer be able to hide the identities of their donors after the full Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed a decision by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, right, that had stopped a lower court ruling requiring the disclosures. The full court, which has eight members at the moment, denied an application for a stay — or delay — of the lower court ruling in a case involving the conservative group Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, which has been fighting since 2012 a lawsuit demanding that it disclose its donors.
The case involving Crossroads, and on the other side the liberal-leaning group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, dates back to 2012 when CREW filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that the conservative group had violated federal campaign finance laws by failing to disclose the names of donors who funded campaign ads.
“This is an important decision which will help insure that voters have valuable information they need in evaluating advertising which is unquestionably aimed at trying to influence how they vote in elections,” campaign finance law professor Rick Hasen wrote on his Election Law Blog. “It does not solve all of the current disclosure problems, but this is a victory for transparency.”
Washington Post, Senate passes massive defense and health spending bill, tries to delay border wall fight, Erica Werner, Sept. 18, 2018. The vote came less than two weeks ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline when government funding will run out without action by Congress and President Trump.
New York Times, Claire McCaskill Fights Charges That She Is a Stranger in Her Own State, Stephanie Saul, Sept. 18, 2018. The Missouri senator, below right, is in a neck-and-neck race to keep a crucial seat in Democratic hands. She is battling criticism from her opponent, Josh Hawley, that she’s a D.C. insider.
Ms. McCaskill, 65, is playing to tough audiences these days as she faces the political fight of her life. She’s come a long way from the McCaskill & Son feed mill her family once operated in the southern part of the state, moving up the ranks of Democratic politics in Missouri and then to Capitol Hill, where she has served for nearly 12 years. Along the way, she also became wealthy by virtue of her second marriage to a St. Louis developer.
Now her opponents are seizing on that wealth, pouring millions of dollars into one of the most hotly contested races of the midterms in an effort to paint Ms. McCaskill as out of touch with Missourians, co-opted by the liberal Democratic establishment and corrupted by the business arrangements of her husband. Everything from her Washington condo to her use of a private plane is under attack.
“D.C. changed Claire McCaskill,” said one ad paid for by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity. Mr. Hawley has accused Ms. McCaskill of being the “ultimate D.C. insider,” saying she wants “liberals in charge.’’ (The billionaires David Koch, left, and his brother Charles Koch are shown in a montage of photos by Gage Skidmore and Fortune Brainstorm via Flickr.)
But the election is not only a test of Ms. McCaskill’s popularity and endurance. It’s also a referendum on whether fealty to Mr. Trump will be a winning strategy.
Mr. Hawley, like many other Republican candidates across the country, has closely aligned himself with the president and his priorities, but Mr. Trump’s popularity here has declined since 2016, with a recent NBC News/Marist poll showing his unfavorable rating at 50 percent. On campaign stops, Ms. McCaskill focuses mainly on consumer and pocketbook issues. Among the farmers, it was Mr. Trump’s trade war — which Mr. Hawley supports — and its effect on agriculture prices.
Washington Post, White House reviews incident involving Epoch Times photographer handing a folder to Trump, David Nakamura, Sept. 18, 2018. The White House has reviewed an incident last week in which a news photographer for the Epoch Times, a publication banned in China for its critical coverage, stepped into a restricted area and handed President Trump a folder during an official event.
The photographer, identified by other photojournalists as Samira Bouaou, passed the purple-colored folder to Trump as he was walking out of the East Room on Sept. 12 after delivering remarks at a reception for the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Bouaou was lined up with other photographers in an area reserved for journalists when she entered a restricted pathway where the president was walking, according to several news photographers who witnessed the incident.
Trump accepted the folder and appeared to open it briefly as he departed before quickly shutting it, the witnesses said. It was not clear what was inside the folder. Photographers who asked Bouaou afterward why she did it and what the folder contained said she declined to provide details. Bouaou was said by those who know her to have recently secured a White House “hard pass” from the Secret Service allowing her daily access to the press briefing room and other events.
The incident was a violation of protocol for journalists covering the White House, and it marked at least the second time an Epoch Times journalist has disrupted a White House event. In 2006, an Epoch Times reporter, who had obtained a press credential to cover Chinese President Hu Jintao’s arrival on the South Lawn for a visit with President George W. Bush, shouted out, calling on Bush in English to stop Hu “from killing” and “persecuting the Falun Gong” — a spiritual group that has been outlawed by the Chinese Communist Party.
The Epoch Times was founded in New York in 2000 by a group of Chinese Americans in an effort to counter Chinese government propaganda. The newspaper bills itself as the largest news outlet aimed at the Chinese community outside mainland China and Taiwan, with versions in 23 languages and a reach of more than 1 million readers.
The Intercept, Attorney Sent Letter to Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein Claiming Federal Court Employees Willing to Speak About Brett Kavanaugh, Ryan Grim, Sept. 17 2018. The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee were both approached in July by an attorney claiming to have information relevant to the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The attorney claimed in his letter that multiple employees of the federal judiciary would be willing to speak to investigators, but received no reply to multiple attempts to make contact, he told The Intercept.
Cyrus Sanai made his first attempt to reach out to Sens. Charles Grassley (right), R-Iowa, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in a letter dated July 24.
Sanai told the committee leadership that “there are persons who work for, or who have worked for, the federal judiciary who have important stories to tell about disgraced former Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, left, and his mentee, current United States Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I know that there are people who wish to speak out but fear retaliation because I have been contacted by more than a half-dozen such persons since Judge Kozinski resigned in disgrace.”
Sanai is the California attorney who blew the whistle on Kozinski years before a series of articles in the Washington Post in December finally brought about the resignation of the former chief judge of the 9th Circuit Court over sexual harassment revelations. Sanai has long challenged the judiciary and was deemed a “vexatious litigant” by one trial court, an attempted designation that was overturned on appeal.
Since Kozinski’s resignation, questions have been raised about what Kavanaugh knew or did about such behavior, given the close relationship between the two. Kavanaugh clerked for Kozinski in the 1990s, a post that led directly to his clerkship with Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who recommended Kavanaugh to President Donald Trump as his replacement. Kozinski and Kavanaugh remained close and both vetted prospective clerks for Kennedy.
Kozinski’s son recently clerked for Kavanaugh. The Sanai letter was overnighted and emailed to Grassley’s office on July 25, and Sanai provided a copy of the receipt. He dropped the letter off by hand to Feinstein’s office in West Los Angeles, he said, after being told over the phone that was the most efficient route to delivery.
Neither Grassley nor Feinstein provided comment by the time of publication.
New York Times, Opinion: Boys Will Be Supreme Court Justices, Michelle Goldberg, right, Sept. 17, 2018. Kavanaugh’s accuser is credible. Will it matter? Some conservatives — though not just conservatives — insist that it is unfair to judge a middle-aged man for things he did as a kid. On Fox News, the former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer pondered the weight of high school misbehavior. “Should that deny us chances later in life?” he asked. “Even for Supreme Court job, a presidency of the United States, or you name it?”
Such arguments would be more convincing if people on the right weren’t so selective in their indulgence. Donald Trump called for the death penalty for the Central Park 5, who were 14 to 16 years old when they were arrested. (They’ve since been proven innocent.) Children are regularly put on sex offender registries, sometimes for their entire lives, for conduct less serious than what Kavanaugh is accused of.
Anyway, this is no longer just about what Kavanaugh might have done 36 years ago. We need to determine, as best we can, if he’s lying now. The Judiciary Committee will be able to begin trying to do that at a public hearing next Monday — called by the committee’s head, Charles Grassley, under pressure from some members of his own party.
Senators should also demand that Kavanaugh’s old friend Judge, who grew up to become a right-wing writer, testify, though Kavanaugh would surely prefer other character witnesses.
If the Kavanaugh nomination goes forward, it’s because Trump and his allies believe that a certain class of men accused of sexual assault deserve impunity. The question now is whether any Republican senators believe otherwise.
Daily Mail, ‘A school swimming in alcohol’, beach parties, sex and even a STRIPPER — inside Brett Kavanaugh’s elite education, by the friend accused of being part of ‘drunken sex attack,’ Alana Goodman, Sept. 17, 2018. Brett Kavanaugh’s private Catholic high school was ‘positively swimming in alcohol’ and his graduating class of 80 students consumed at least 100 kegs of beer their senior year, according to an account from one of his classmates who has been accused of witnessing Kavanaugh assaulting a high school girl during a drunken party in 1982.
Mark Judge, (shown in a Twitter photo) a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Georgetown Prep, has written several books about his experiences at the elite Catholic high school near Washington, D.C.
Christine Blasey Ford, a California professor who stepped forward late last week to accuse Kavanaugh of trying to drunkenly sexually assault her at a party when she was 15 and he was 17, claimed Judge was also in the room during the alleged attack and alternatingly encouraged the assault and tried to stop it.
Judge has said he has no recollection of an assault, and told the Weekly Standard on Friday that the claim was ‘just absolutely nuts. I never saw Brett act that way.’
For his part Kavanaugh told Utah senator Orin Hatch that he was not at the party described by Ford — although he did not make clear how he knew exactly which party it was.
Ford herself has said that she does not recall exactly when or where it was, but said that she strongly remembers being sexually attacked.
Judge does not mention witnessing — or taking part in — any sexual assaults in his autobiographical books Wasted and God and Man at Georgetown Prep, which describe his struggles with alcoholism and eventual recovery.
But he does detail the hard-partying exploits of his classmates and friends — a group that included Kavanaugh — often in houses where parents were absent, matching the circumstances described by Ford of her alleged attack.
‘[Georgetown] Prep was a school positively swimming in alcohol, and my class partied with gusto — often right under the noses of our teachers,’ wrote Judge in his 2005 book God and Man at Georgetown Prep.
‘Senior year, my class of eighty decided that by the end of the year we would drink a hundred kegs of beer,’ wrote Judge. ‘I’m sorry to say that we succeeded.’
Kavanaugh is not named in the books and in both the author uses pseudonyms, in the first book even calling Georgetown Prep ‘Loyola’, a reference to St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order of Catholic priests who ran the school.
In an earlier book, Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk, published in 1997 (and shown at left), he writes of how the boys carefully forged IDs, in some cases obtaining them by fraud at the Maryland Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and were regulars at a bar called O’Rourkes.
He writes: ‘When we didn’t go to O’Rourke’s, we took turns having parties. The word would get out that someone’s parents were going away, and the other guys would pressure them into “popping,” promising to help them keep things under control. I had seen houses destroyed by rampaging hordes of drunken teenagers, friends of the kid whose parents owned the house.”
‘This, of course, was a joke. I had seen houses destroyed by rampaging hordes of drunken teenagers, friends of the kid whose parents owned the house.’
In fact, Judge says, that happened to him when his parents left him alone and another student kicked a hole from their attic through to the ceiling below as he searched for alcohol.
Washington Post, Kavanaugh accuser willing to testify, her lawyer says, John Wagner, Sept. 17, 2018. A lawyer for Christine Blasey Ford, shown in a high school file photo, the woman who said Judge Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her when the two were in high school (with Blasey aged 15), said Monday that Ford is willing to testify about the allegations before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“She is. She’s willing to do whatever it takes to get her story forth,” lawyer Debra Katz said on NBC’s “Today” show when asked if her client would speak publicly about President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh has denied the allegations, which have roiled his confirmation process. The White House indicated Monday that it is continuing to stand by Kavanaugh but expects Ford will offer testimony to the Judiciary Committee.
New York Post, Orrin Hatch says Kavanaugh accuser may be ‘mixed up,’ Bruce Golding, Sept. 17, 2018. The woman who’s accused US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her while in high school may be “mixed up” about the alleged incident, US Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said Monday.
Hatch, right, told reporters that he spoke by phone with Kavanaugh, who denied attending a 1982 party where Christine Blasey Ford says he drunkenly pinned her to a bed, groped her and tried to remove her clothing. “The judge who I know very, very well, is an honest man, said this didn’t happen,” Hatch said, according to The Hill.
Hatch also said there’s “some question” whether Ford is “mixed up” and confusing Kavanaugh with someone else. Ford claims Kavanaugh was “stumbling drunk” at the time, but Hatch rejected the possibility that he was so intoxicated he can’t remember the incident.
“He said this did not happen and he’s naturally very upset about it,” Hatch said. And he describes how the elite school’s students would party barely supervised on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. ‘My immersion into alcohol began at the end of my sophomore year, during beach week.
‘Every year when we let out for the summer because we didn’t observe non-Catholic holidays, our school year was about a month shorter than the public schools all the kids from Catholic school would pilgrimage down to the Eastern Shore for a week-long bacchanalia of drinking and sex, or at least attempts at sex,’ he writes.
In the 1997 memoir, he writes about being asked during that vacation: ‘Do you know Bart O’Kavanaugh?’ and replying: ‘Yeah. He’s around here somewhere.’ The girl he was speaking to said: ‘I heard he puked in someone’s car the other night.’
New York Times, Allegations Against Kavanaugh ‘Will Be Heard,’ Kellyanne Conway Says, Eileen Sullivan, Sept. 17, 2018. President Trump’s counselor said that she had spoken with Mr. Trump and senators and that the accuser “will be heard.”
Roll Call, Kavanaugh Would Testify Against Sexual Assault Allegation, John T. Bennett, Posted Sep 17, 2018. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said Monday he would testify to give his side of the story of an alleged 1982 incident when a California professor says he sexually assaulted her.
“This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone,” Kavanaugh said in a statement released by the White House.
“Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday. I am willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity.”
Washington Post, Opinion: The claim against Kavanaugh is not an 11th-hour bombshell because this isn’t the 11th hour, Margaret Sullivan, Sept. 17, 2018. In the Kavanaugh case, as The Post’s Emma Brown reported in her piece, Ford didn’t want her name used, for fear of subjecting herself to criticism and the personal attacks that would be sure to follow. (And have.)
In time, and for various reasons — including what she described as a moral duty — she changed her mind and spoke to Brown on the record. It’s always a long, necessary process, with many twists and turns, from tip line to completed story.
“With time and reporting, the truth can always be known,” Jill Abramson, the former New York Times top editor, told me Sunday, disagreeing with the notion this is strictly a “he said, she said” case.
Roll Call, Trump Calls Kavanaugh Withdrawal Notion ‘Ridiculous,’ John T. Bennett, Sept. 17, 2018. President Donald Trump on Monday called the notion that Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination for the Supreme Court might be withdrawn over sexual misconduct allegations from his high school days “ridiculous.” But he backed delaying the confirmation process so the nominee and his accuser could speak with senators.
“If it takes a little delay, it’ll take a little delay,” Trump said. “I’m sure it will work out very well.”
The Hill, Alumnae of Kavanaugh accuser’s high school express support for her, Justin Wise, Sept. 17, 2018. Alumnae of Christine Blasey Ford’s high school are circulating a letter to show their support for her, after Ford came forward with sexual misconduct accusations against President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh (shown in his 1983 yearbook photo).
“We believe Dr. Blasey Ford and are grateful that she came forward to tell her story,” a draft letter from alumnae of Holton-Arms, a private girls school in Bethesda, Md., reads, as first reported by HuffPost. “It demands a thorough and independent investigation before the Senate can reasonably vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to a lifetime seat on the nation’s highest court.”
The letter, which says it’s from more than 200 alumnae from classes 1967 through 2018, added that Ford’s allegations about Kavanaugh are “all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton.”
“Many of us are survivors ourselves,” it said. HuffPost reported that the letter had received three dozen additional signatures as of Monday morning.
The report comes just a day after Ford detailed her allegations against Kavanaugh for the first time to The Washington Post.
New York Times, Hillary Clinton Blasts Trump in New Essay: ‘Our Democracy Is in Crisis,’ Christina Caron, Sept. 17, 2018. In a blistering critique published by The Atlantic, Mrs. Clinton accused President Trump of ignoring the law, dividing the country and serving himself above all.
With the midterms fast approaching, Hillary Clinton has written a scathing critique of President Trump that accused him of disregarding the law and weakening the social fabric of the country, imploring voters to “do everything we can to fight back” and “mobilize massive turnout” in November.
When Mr. Trump prevailed over Mrs. Clinton in the 2016 election, she had told her supporters that they owed him “an open mind and the chance to lead,” she recalled in the essay, which was posted by The Atlantic on Sunday.
“I hoped that my fears for our future were overblown,” she wrote. “They were not.”“And right now, our democracy is in crisis,” she added, saying she does not use the word “crisis” lightly.
Roll Call, Indicted GOP Rep. Chris Collins to Stay on November Ballot, Report Says, Bridget Bowman, Sept. 17, 2018. Collins, right, represents the most Republican district in New York. Indicted GOP Rep. Chris Collins will remain on the ballot in November, The Buffalo News reported Monday, setting up a potentially competitive race in a deep red district in Western New York.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Meredith Kelly said in a statement that the development meant “the stakes just got a whole lot higher on November 6th.” Kelly noted two indicted Republicans will be on the ballot in November, a reference to California GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter who is facing charges relating to misuse of campaign funds.
Collins will face Democratic Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray in November in a district President Donald Trump won by 24 points in 2016. Collins’ recent indictment for charges relating to insider trading have shaken up the race. Collins initially said he would run for re-election, but reversed course under pressure from local and national party leaders.
Local GOP leaders had for several weeks been looking for a way to replace Collins with another Republican candidate on the ballot. The news Monday signals that they were not able to find a viable path to replace Collins.
New York Times, Bloomberg May Run for President as a Democrat. Bloomberg May Run for President as a Democrat. His Views on Policing and #MeToo Could Be a Problem, Alexander Burns and Sydney Ember, Sept. 17, 2018. Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, acknowledged he has serious differences with leading Democrats, including in his positions on #MeToo and policing. But, he said, “It’s impossible to conceive that I could run as a Republican.”
Mental Health / Suicide / Public Safety
New York Times, Yet Another Worrisome Subway Statistic: More People Are Going on the Tracks, Emma G. Fitzsimmons, Sept. 17, 2018. The man stood casually on the subway tracks, his face showing no sign of terror as he stared down a 360-ton train. The train operator spotted him and stopped the train just in time, sparing his life. Then the man climbed onto the platform and disappeared.
“It was totally bizarre how he was so calm,” Doug Latino, a subway rider, said of the man he recently saw on the tracks at Grand Central Station in Manhattan. Anxious witnesses were relieved that the man survived, but frustrated that the incident set off a cascade of train delays.
The episode was also far from unusual. As subway officials work to pull the system out of crisis, their effort to run trains on time is hampered by ancient signals, creaky trains and, increasingly, by people venturing onto the tracks — sometimes in a suicide attempt, but more often for other reasons.
There were nearly 900 incidents last year in which someone was on the tracks or was hit by a train after getting too close while on the platform. This year, the number of incidents is on pace to rise even higher — a worrisome trend that subway officials are struggling to curtail.
U.S.-China Trade War
New York Times, Trump Hits China with Tariffs on $200 Billion in Goods, Escalating Trade War, Jim Tankersley and Keith Bradsher, Sept. 17, 2018. The fresh round of tariffs comes on top of $50 billion worth of Chinese products already taxed earlier this year.
President Trump said the tariffs, which will hit everyday consumer products including electronics, food, tools and housewares, will go into effect on Sept. 24. The tariffs on $200 billion worth of products comes on top of the $50 billion worth already taxed earlier this year, meaning nearly half of all Chinese imports into the United States will soon face levies.
BBC, Syria war: Russia and Turkey to create buffer zone in Idlib, Staff report, Sept. 17, 2018. Russia and Turkey have agreed to create a demilitarised buffer zone in Syria’s Idlib province to separate government forces from rebel fighters based there.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said it would be 15km to 25km (9-15 miles) wide and come into force by 15 October. Troops from Russia, an ally of Syria’s government, and Turkey, which backs the rebels, will patrol the zone. The UN had warned of a humanitarian catastrophe if the Syrian army launched an all-out assault to retake Idlib.
Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Syria — The Rationale Behind The Delay Of Idleb’s Liberation, b, Sept. 17, 2018. The Syrian-Russian operation to liberate Idleb is on hold but not canceled. President Assad is not ready to give up Idlib to President Erdogan.
Assad is said to be ready to start the attack in a few weeks even alone at the cost of dragging everybody behind him onto the battlefield. The operation has to wait until the Congressional elections in the U.S. are over and the danger of a U.S. escalation for domestic policy reasons recedes. Russia also fears that an attack on Idelb right now could re-unite the U.S. and Turkey and lead to a new coordinated onslaught on Syria.
Trump Steps Up Fight Against FBI
Washington Post, Trump orders Justice Dept. to declassify Russia-related material, Matt Zapotosky, Devlin Barrett and Karoun Demirjian, Sept. 17, 2018. The material includes portions of a secret court order to surveil one of his former campaign advisers, and to release text messages of several former high-level FBI officials, including James B. Comey and Andrew McCabe.
The Intercept, Government Can Spy on Journalists in the U.S. Using Invasive Foreign Intelligence Process, Cora Currier, Sept. 17 2018. The U.S. government can monitor journalists under a foreign intelligence law that allows invasive spying and operates outside the traditional court system, according to newly released documents. Targeting members of the press under the law, known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, requires approval from the Justice Department’s highest-ranking officials, the documents show.
In two 2015 memos for the FBI, the attorney general spells out “procedures for processing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act applications targeting known media entities or known members of the media.” The guidelines say the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, or their delegate must sign off before the bureau can bring an application to the secretive panel of judges that approves monitoring under the 1978 act, which governs intelligence-related wiretapping and other surveillance carried out domestically and against U.S. persons abroad.
The high level of supervision points to the controversy around targeting members of the media at all. Prior to the release of these documents, little was known about the use of FISA court orders against journalists. Previous attention had been focused on the use of National Security Letters against members of the press; the letters are administrative orders with which the FBI can obtain certain phone and financial records without a judge’s oversight. FISA court orders can authorize much more invasive searches and collection, including the content of communications, and do so through hearings conducted in secret and outside the sort of adversarial judicial process that allows journalists and other targets of regular criminal warrants to eventually challenge their validity.
“This is a huge surprise,” said Victoria Baranetsky, general counsel with the Center for Investigative Reporting, previously of Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press. “It makes me wonder, what other rules are out there, and how have these rules been applied? The next step is figuring out how this has been used.”
Kavanaugh Accuser Speaks Out
Washington Post, Writer of confidential Brett Kavanaugh letter speaks out about her allegation of sexual assault, Emma Brown, Sept. 16, 2018. Christine Blasey Ford alleges that Kavanaugh attacked her more than three decades ago when they were each in high school, an allegation the Supreme Court nominee has flatly denied.
Earlier this summer, Christine Blasey Ford wrote a confidential letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades ago, when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. Since Wednesday, she has watched as that bare-bones version of her story became public without her name or her consent, drawing a blanket denial from Kavanaugh, right, and roiling a nomination that just days ago seemed all but certain to succeed.
Now, Ford has decided that if her story is going to be told, she wants to be the one to tell it.
Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” Ford alleges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.
While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.
Ford said she told no one of the incident in any detail until 2012, when she was in couples therapy with her husband. The therapist’s notes, portions of which were provided by Ford and reviewed by The Washington Post, do not mention Kavanaugh’s name but say she reported that she was attacked by students “from an elitist boys’ school” who went on to become “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.” The notes say four boys were involved, a discrepancy Ford says was an error on the therapist’s part. Ford said there were four boys at the party but only two in the room.
Reached by email Sunday, Judge declined to comment. In an interview Friday with The Weekly Standard, before Ford’s name was known, he denied that any such incident occurred. “It’s just absolutely nuts. I never saw Brett act that way,” Judge said. He told the New York Times that Kavanaugh was a “brilliant student” who loved sports and was not “into anything crazy or illegal.”
On Sunday, the White House sent The Post a statement Kavanaugh issued last week, when the outlines of Ford’s account first became public: “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”
For weeks, Ford declined to speak to The Post on the record as she grappled with concerns about what going public would mean for her and her family — and what she said was her duty as a citizen to tell the story.
Axios Sneak Peek, What’s next: The politics of Kavanaugh’s crisis, Jonathan Swan, Sept. 16, 2018. What was previously an allegation of sexual misconduct against Brett Kavanaugh by an unidentified person — without a lot of details or evidence — is now backed by a name, a specific allegation and therapist’s notes. A senior Republican official involved in Kavanaugh’s confirmation privately admitted to me that they felt queasy when they read The Washington Post story. And there was one sign tonight that these allegations could actually derail Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court — which was previously a sure thing.
Jeff Flake [the Arizona Republican at right] told the WashPost’s Sean Sullivan that the Senate Judiciary Committee should wait to hear more from Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford: “For me, we can’t vote until we hear more.”
Why it matters: Doug Jones’ special election victory late last year gave Democrats an extra seat on Senate Judiciary — there are now 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats — meaning that Flake’s defection could stall Kavanaugh’s confirmation process.
Since the story broke, I’ve spoken to four sources close to the Kavanaugh confirmation process. All were defiant and sought to raise doubts about the accuser’s credibility and the holes in her story — though none were willing to do so on the record. They signaled potential lines of attack: the accuser’s Democratic political background, lapses in her memory and the accounts of the 65 women who’ve known Kavanaugh since high school who’ve vouched for his character.
Washington Post, GOP Sen. Jeff Flake: Postpone vote on Kavanaugh until accuser is heard, Sean Sullivan, Seung Min Kim and Felicia Sonmez, Sept. 16, 2018. Flake was the first Republican to join Democrats in urging a delay in the Senate Judiciary Committee vote, scheduled for Thursday. Republicans hold an 11-to-10 majority on the panel, and Flake’s opposition could stall the Supreme Court nomination.
Another Claim That Kavanaugh Lies
Palmer Report, Opinion: Senator Dick Durbin throws down the gauntlet on Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Palmer, Sept. 16, 2018. Are the eleven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee willing to risk rubber-stamping a Supreme Court nominee who is also an alleged [attempted] rapist? If they approve him, and then his confirmation collapses before a full Senate vote, the debacle will get hung around their necks – and they know it.
Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, right, is now throwing down the gauntlet when it comes to the committee vote on Kavanaugh.
Senator Durbin posted this message on Saturday night: “I am calling on Senate Republicans to delay next week’s Judiciary Committee vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. This is the most important Supreme Court vacancy in a generation, and President Trump has chosen Judge Kavanaugh to be the decisive vote on the health, privacy, and rights of all Americans, and whether our Constitution will protect everyone or just the wealthy and powerful. The American people deserve to know who Judge Kavanaugh is, but Republicans are trying to rush through this nomination while concealing critical parts of the nominee’s record.”
Washington Post, Opinion: Kavanaugh’s accuser steps forward, Jennifer Rubin, right, Sept. 16, 2018. If Kavanaugh did what he was accused of and then has lied about it, he cannot be confirmed for the Supreme Court. It is noteworthy he has not denied the allegation under oath. The Senate therefore must bring him back as well as Ford to tell their accounts in public and under oath.
If the allegation is true — and at this point, none of us is in a position to assess credibility — he dare not lie under oath, putting at risk his current seat on the bench. (A far more difficult matter presents itself if Kavanaugh issues less than an absolute denial under oath but argues that this episode was decades old and therefore should not be disqualifying. I find it difficult to believe, however, that he’ll deviate from his initial, complete denial.)
The nomination fortunately does not hang on whether the White House or the vast majority of Senate Republicans behave responsibly, for surely they will not. Here, the two pro-choice Republican senators, Susan Collins, left, of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, once more are in the driver’s seat. If they indicate they will not vote to confirm unless and until the matter is investigated, then the nomination stops in its tracks.
To Republicans and the judge himself who may think this is terribly unfair, I have two responses. First, the entire confirmation process has been rushed, incomplete and hampered by the partisan, limited release of relevant documents. Second, it may well be unfair to hear a last-minute allegation, but it would be much more unfair to allow someone who has lied to the American people about an alleged sexual assault to reach the highest court.
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans
Chuck Grassley, Iowa, Chairman, right.
Orrin Hatch, Utah.
Lindsey Graham, South Carolina.
John Cornyn, Texas.
Mike Lee, Utah.
Ted Cruz, Texas.
Ben Sasse, Nebraska.
Jeff Flake, Arizona.
Roll Call, Three Ways Kavanaugh Nomination Could Play Out After Accuser Speaks, John T. Bennett, Sept. 16, 2018. Female GOP senators could have big say in what happens next. What was an anonymous letter with serious allegations against Supreme Court nominee are now vivid words from an accuser, putting a name and face on the charges and raising new questions about the nomination.
A California professor contends she instantly thought a “stumbling drunk” Kavanaugh might “inadvertently kill” her during a party in the early 1980s while they were in high school, breaking her public silence and handing Republican leaders and the White House tough decisions about what to do next.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Christine Blasey Ford told the Washington Post in an article that published Sunday afternoon. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.” She also claims Kavanaugh and a friend trapped her in a bedroom during the party, with the high court nominee pinning her on a bed while his friend watched and groping her over her one-piece bathing suit. Ford says she was able to escape without injury.
GOP Lobbyist’s Crime Career
Washington Post, Guilty plea exposes hardball tactics Manafort used to thrive in ‘swamp,’ Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Matt Zapotosky, Sept. 16, 2018 (print edition). Before he was the Trump campaign chairman, the lobbyist went to extreme lengths in a secret effort to help a Ukrainian politician, court papers show.
Before he was Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort embraced extreme tactics in his lobbying efforts: He schemed “to plant some stink” and spread stories that a jailed Ukrainian politician was a murderer. He enlisted a foreign politician who was secretly on his payroll to deliver a message to President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. And he gleefully fueled allegations that an Obama Cabinet member who had spoken out against his Ukrainian client was an anti-Semite, according to court papers.
With his guilty plea Friday, Manafort admitted the lengths to which he went to manipulate the American political system and the media for massive profit, exposing how he thrived in the Washington swamp that Trump railed against during his campaign.
The president has dismissed the allegations against his former campaign chairman as run-of-the-mill lobbying — and has even contemplated pardoning him. But new details revealed Friday show how far beyond the law Manafort went in pursuit of his goals.
By pleading guilty, Manafort agreed that he knew he was required by law to publicly report that a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party was paying him and his stable of lobbyists, which included former leaders of Austria, Poland and Italy.
Instead, he operated in the dark, working diligently to keep his lobbying for Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovych, right, a secret and pocketing millions routed through offshore bank accounts to hide his work and avoid paying taxes.
“This is extraordinary,” said Michael McFaul, a Stanford University professor who served as U.S. ambassador to Moscow.
“I was well aware at the time that Manafort was making efforts to present Yanukovych in the best light,” McFaul said, but added that he had no idea of the extent of Manafort’s elaborate schemes.
Trade Wars / China
Washington Post, Trump to escalate trade war with tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, Damian Paletta, Sept. 16, 2018 (print edition). An announcement is expected within days, said people briefed on the decision. The 10 percent tariffs would apply to more than 1,000 products, including phones, toys, televisions and other consumer items.The new tariffs would apply to more than 1,000 products, including refrigerators, air conditioners, furniture, televisions and toys. These penalties could drive up the cost of a range of products ahead of the holiday shopping season, though it’s unclear how much.
The U.S. imports roughly $500 billion in Chinese goods each year, and — combined with existing tariffs — these new penalties would cover half of all goods sent to the U.S. from China each year.Trump first imposed tariffs on roughly $50 billion in Chinese products this summer. The list of products mostly included industrial equipment to avoid directly impacting consumers.
China responded by imposing tariffs on U.S. products like beef and soybeans, a response that spooked the U.S. agriculture industry and angered Trump and other White House officials
Hurricane / Typhoon Disasters
Washington Post, At least 14 deaths reported as storm slogs across the Carolinas, Katie Zezima, Sept. 16, 2018. Tropical depression Florence continued its march through the Carolinas on Sunday, dumping torrential and historic amounts of rain. Floodwaters are expected to push many rivers to all-time highs and could spur life-threatening landslides as the hurricane’s remnants move into the mountains in the middle of the states and then up into southwestern Virginia.
Related earlier story: Record rain causes at least 11 deaths, leaves thousands powerless, Brady Dennis and Susan Svrluga, Sept. 16, 2018. Sopping storm creeps inland, bringing flooding and misery. Florence, which has weakened to a tropical depression, is moving at a crawl deeper into North Carolina, spurring warnings of flash flooding in parts of the Piedmont and landslides in the state’s western mountains. The storm has dropped 30 inches of rain and threatens to bring more.
Washington Post, FEMA Administrator Brock Long says Puerto Rico hurricane death toll numbers are ‘all over the place,’ Felicia Sonmez, Sept. 16, 2018. FEMA administrator casts doubt on Puerto Rico hurricane death toll.
Embattled FEMA Administrator William “Brock” Long said Sunday that the figures for how many people died as a result of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last year are “all over the place,” in remarks that echoed President Trump’s efforts to cast doubt on a George Washington University study finding there were nearly 3,000 excess deaths on the island in the months after the storm.
“It’s hard to tell what’s accurate and what’s not,” Long said in an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” He made similar remarks in appearances on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” and CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”
Puerto Rican authorities have accepted the results of the university’s study.
Long’s television appearances were supposed to focus on the administration’s response efforts as Hurricane Florence tore through the Carolinas. Yet that message was overshadowed by questions surrounding Long’s future at FEMA, now in jeopardy due to an internal investigation of his alleged misuse of government resources, and the uproar caused by Trump’s response to the death toll in Puerto Rico.
New York Times, Typhoon Mangkhut Slams Hong Kong and Southern China, Gerry Mullany, Tiffany May and Steven Lee Myers, Sept. 16, 2018. Typhoon Mangkhut battered Hong Kong and Macau on Sunday with 100 miles-per-hour wind gusts, drenching rains and 11-foot surges of seawater that inundated the first urban area of Asia to face the wrath of the year’s mightiest storm.
Mangkhut left a swath of damaged buildings and scores of injuries in Hong Kong and Macau before churning across the southern coast of China. Barely a day earlier, it ravaged the northern Philippines and left dozens buried in landslides, including people sheltering in a church and a dormitory for miners.
Manafort Plea Bargain
Washington Post, Opinion: I was a prosecutor. Here’s what stands out to me about Manafort’s deal with Mueller, Deanna Paul, Sept. 15, 2018. What’s clear is that Paul Manafort was out of cards to play. Unlike the other criminally charged former Trump aides, Manafort’s problem was that he was facing a functional life sentence.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, a prison term is determined by a defendant’s criminal history and his conduct during the charged crime.
In the D.C. plea deal, that calculation did not work out well for Manafort, handing him a particularly onerous sentence. In addition to a court-imposed fine, according to court documents, the range for Manafort was 210 to 262 months imprisonment, or 17 to 20 years.
Trump White House
The Hill, AGs ask for Trump’s communications with foreign officials about DC hotel, Avery Anapol, Sept. 16, 2018. Two attorneys general are asking a court to order President Trump to hand over any communications with domestic or foreign government officials related to his Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
The requests were filed Friday in a U.S. District Court in Maryland, as part of discovery in the civil suit alleging Trump violated the emoluments clause of the *Constitution, according to NPR. D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine and Maryland Attorney General Peter Frosh claim in the lawsuit that Trump is profiting from foreign governments without congressional approval due to foreign officials staying in his hotel.
Trump has tried to have the case dismissed, but U.S. District Judge Peter Missette ruled in July that the lawsuit can go forward.
The attorneys general also asked for records of the hotel’s business with foreign government officials, records of cash flow between the hotel and the president and records from the federal agency that leases the hotel building to the Trump business.
Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump goes berserk about the demise of his presidency, Bill Palmer, Sept. 16, 2018. As of 4pm eastern time [Saturday], Donald Trump hadn’t tweeted anything at all – leaving some to wonder if perhaps his handlers had slipped a sedative in his coffee to keep him from exploding about the Paul Manafort plea deal against him.
Trump came alive by late afternoon, bragging about what a great job he was doing with Hurricane Florence, even while failing to acknowledge the Americans who were dying in the storm. Then around 6 pm, he remembered that Robert Mueller and Manafort had just destroyed his life, and he went off the deep end about it. It also included admissions to charges that the Virginia jury hung on, though Friday’s cooperation deal agreed to dismiss them after Manafort is sentenced.
Washington Post, Analysis, Robert Mueller may have just eliminated one of Trump’s biggest complaints, Philip Bump, Sept. 15, 2018 (print edition). Trump likes to complain about the cost of the Mueller probe. It might just have paid for itself.
If we assume the same cost-per-day for the investigation that was reported through March of this year, the probe has so far cost the government about $26 million. That’s the $17 million through March and another $9 million since.
But here’s the thing, pointed out by journalist Marcy Wheeler on her personal site: The Mueller probe may have just paid for itself.
Why? Because part of the plea agreement reached between Mueller and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort includes forfeiture of certain property to the government. While it’s not clear how much value will be extracted from that forfeiture, there’s reason to think that it could more than pay for what Mueller has incurred so far.
New York Times, Paul Manafort Forfeits $22 Million in New York Real Estate in Plea Deal, Julia Jacobs, Sept. 15, 2018. Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, is forfeiting an estimated $22 million worth of real estate in New York — including three Manhattan apartments, a Brooklyn townhouse and a home in the Hamptons — as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors announced on Friday.
Under the terms of the deal, Mr. Manafort agreed to tell all he knows to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Mr. Manafort, 69, said he would turn over to the government the five properties in New York, including an apartment in Trump Tower, as well as the contents of three bank accounts and his life insurance policy.Two of the Manhattan apartments, in SoHo, are estimated to be worth $3.2 million and $4.1 million, according to an estimate by Zillow, the online real estate company. Mr. Manafort’s apartment in Trump Tower in Midtown has an estimated value of $3 million.
The first four and a half months of the special counsel investigation cost taxpayers nearly $7 million, including $3.2 million in direct spending by Mr. Mueller’s team. The investigation has lasted about 16 months.
Supreme Court Battle
New York Times, New Kavanaugh Disclosure Shows Little Sign of Impeding His Nomination, Carl Hulse, Sept. 15, 2018. Sudden new revelations in Supreme Court confirmation fights are not new. Anita Hill’s accusations of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas surfaced after his initial hearings had concluded. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, President Trump’s first nominee to the court, faced claims that he had plagiarized parts of his book just as his nomination headed toward a Senate floor vote.
Now the bitter and extremely contentious Senate fight over the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh has taken its own post-hearing turn with the disclosure that a top Democrat had for weeks possessed a letter accusing the nominee of sexual misconduct while he was in high school. The development, coming a week before the Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on his nomination, did not yet appear to be impeding Judge Kavanaugh’s steady progress toward assuming a seat on the court this fall.
Even after new details about the accusation became public on Friday, the office of Senator Charles E. Grassley, the Iowa Republican who is the chairman of the panel, said the committee vote would proceed as scheduled. In a statement, the committee noted that no similar allegations had ever arisen during six F.B.I. background investigations from 1993 to 2018, and that the “anonymous allegations are reportedly from Judge Kavanaugh’s high school time roughly 35 years ago.
Privately, Republicans expressed puzzlement over the handling of the letter by Ms. Feinstein, who said her decision-making had been driven by the accuser’s demand for anonymity and unwillingness to press the issue. Republicans noted that Ms. Feinstein could have asked Judge Kavanaugh, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, about it privately during her own meeting with him or during a closed session of the confirmation hearing.
Most committee Democrats did not learn about the letter from the woman, dated in July, until Wednesday night. A decision was made to keep it confidential and turn it over to the F.B.I.
The F.B.I. then added it to Judge Kavanaugh’s background file and returned it to the offices of the Judiciary Committee, where senators can review it if they like. One top Senate official said that Judge Kavanaugh, who maintained his composure during two days of testimony in which his honesty and integrity were repeatedly challenged, was angry over the disclosure of the accusation. He has two young daughters, and his coaching of a girls’ basketball team was proudly mentioned throughout the hearing.
Washington Post, Opinion: We need the fullest possible airing of the accusation against Brett Kavanaugh, Ruth Marcus (Deputy editorial page editor), Sept. 15, 2018. As the story emerges of sexual assault-type allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, it is important not to leap to misleading parallels between the situation now and the allegations 27 years ago against Supreme Court nominee and now-Justice Clarence Thomas.
President Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis at the Pentagon (file photo)
New York Times, Fraying Ties With Trump Put Mattis’s Fate in Doubt, Helene Cooper, Sept. 15, 2018 (print edition). Officials say that President Trump has soured on his defense secretary, and that Jim Mattis is increasingly weary of capricious demands from his boss. The president and Mr. Mattis have found themselves at odds over NATO, resuming large-scale military exercises with South Korea and, privately, Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
Back when their relationship was fresh and new, and President Trump still called his defense secretary “Mad Dog” — a nickname Jim Mattis detests — the wiry retired Marine general often took a dinner break to eat burgers with his boss in the White House residence.
Mr. Mattis brought briefing folders with him, aides said, to help explain the military’s shared “ready to fight tonight” strategy with South Korea, and why the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has long been viewed as central to protecting the United States. Using his folksy manner, Mr. Mattis talked the president out of ordering torture against terrorism detainees and persuaded him to send thousands more American troops to Afghanistan — all without igniting the public Twitter castigations that have plagued other national security officials.
Palmer Report, Opinion: Laurence Tribe says Mike Pence is in big trouble – and he’s right, Bill Palmer, Sept. 15, 2018. On Thursday, as the news was surfacing that Paul Manafort was in the process of cutting a plea deal, Palmer Report pointed out that this could end up having a very ugly outcome for Mike Pence. Among other reasons, it was Manafort – who was under Kremlin control the entire time – who pushed Donald Trump into picking Pence to begin with. Now that Manafort has indeed flipped on everyone, it turns out one of the nation’s foremost legal experts agrees with us about Pence, shown at right.
Here’s what Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, left, had to say on Twitter after the Manafort cooperation agreement was revealed: “Anyone recall who hand-picked Pence as Trump’s VP? Paul Manafort. And recall who led the squirrely transition? Mike Pence. Watch what unfolds as Manafort tells Mueller all he knows!” Jennifer Rubin, a conservative reporter for the Washington Post, added this: “Who carried fake cover story on Comey firing? Pence. Who carried misinformation about Flynn’s convers with Russians? Same.”
Here’s what Palmer Report wrote about the matter on Thursday: “There was no legitimate reason for Paul Manafort to have zeroed in on Mike Pence, whose approval rating as Governor of Indiana was so low, he wasn’t even bothering to seek reelection. If Manafort believed that Donald Trump needed an evangelical running mate, there were better options than Pence. The move simply made no sense at the time … If the Kremlin told Manafort to go with Pence, then Manafort is about to tell Mueller why.” But Tribe brings up another good point.
Last December, Palmer Report brought you the story of how Special Counsel Robert Mueller had been sitting on the emails from the Trump transition team all along. Mike Pence was the head of the transition team. It was separately reported that the transition team knew at the time that Michael Flynn was coordinating with the Russian Ambassador. So unless the rest of the transition team went out of its way to prevent Pence from knowing about this, Pence knew. That would further confirm that Pence lied about Flynn in early 2017, which would constitute felony obstruction of justice.
Lawfare, The Watergate ‘Road Map’ and the Coming Mueller Report, Stephen Bates, Jack Goldsmith, Benjamin Wittes, Sept. 14, 2018. According to countless media accounts and President Trump’s own lawyers, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is writing some kind of report on allegations of presidential obstruction of justice. Exactly what sort of report this may be is unclear. But to the extent that Mueller is contemplating a referral to Congress of possible impeachment material, he has two historical models of such documents to draw on. One, the so-called Starr Report, is famous and publicly available. The other is a document most people have never heard of: the “Road Map” that Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski sent to Congress in 1974 and that informed its impeachment proceedings, which were already underway.
Washington Post, At least 5 dead, nearly 1 million without power as storm slogs across Carolinas; Tropical storm swells rivers, breaks local rainfall records, Mark Berman and Abigail Hauslohner, Sept. 15, 2018. The deaths include a woman and an infant killed in Wilmington, N.C., when a tree fell on their home. The storm still poses an extreme risk as it moves slowly inland at 5 miles per hour, dropping tremendous amounts of rain along the way.
Natural Disasters: Philippines
New York Times, Typhoon Mangkhut Wreaks Havoc in Philippines, Leaving At Least 25 Dead, Staff report, Sept. 15, 2018. Mangkhut, which meteorologists called the most powerful storm in the world this year, swept through the northern end of the Philippine island of Luzon. Amid the suffering, there was also relief that the storm’s damage was not much worse, at least according to the initial assessments.
Dutch Nix White Helmets ‘Propaganda’
Moon of Alabama, Opinion: The Dike Breaks — Netherland Ends Support For “White Helmets” Terrorist Propaganda, B, Sept. 15, 2018. The Netherland just announced that it is ending its support for al-Qaeda’s propaganda gang, the “White Helmets. It also ends its support for the so called Free Syrian Police.
Last week the Netherlands shut down its “non-lethal” support for the Free Syrian Army after Dutch news organizations found that members of these groups were accused of terrorism by their General Prosecutor.
According to the Volkskrant daily (in Dutch), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ended the support for the White Helmets after its Directorate for International Research and Policy Evaluation issued a critical report about them. For the White Helmets, which had received €12.5 million from the Dutch government, it lists the following issues:
The seemingly intentional lack of transparency practically guarantees that much of the more than $150 million the White Helmets received from various governments will have flown into the private pockets of the people who organize the scam.
This blog published several pieces about the White Helmets, mostly pointing out their obviously faked media productions:
- The U.S./UK Financed “White Helmets” Shtick: Fake “Child Rescued” Videos, June 1, 2016
- “Dramatic Rescue! Man With Kid Runs Towards Camera!”: 44 Staged Pictures, June 21, 2016
Crime, Courts: Boston Mob
Washington Post, Boston mobster known as ‘Cadillac’ gets life in prison for 1993 murder, Taylor Telford, Sept. 15, 2018 (print edition). Frank “Cadillac” Salemme, a former Mafia boss in New England, has a criminal record that is shocking and cinematic. He was convicted of killing a nightclub owner to keep investigators from finding out about his hidden ties to the business.
Crime, Courts: Uniformed Serial Killer?
New York Times, Border Patrol Agent Arrested in Connection With Murders of 4 Women, Simon Romero and Manny Fernandez, Sept. 15, 2018. A United States Border Patrol agent was arrested in South Texas on Saturday in connection to a calculated killing spree that left four people dead in recent weeks around the city of Laredo, the authorities said.
Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar said police officers arrested the agent, Juan David Ortiz, early on Saturday morning after a woman who claimed she had been abducted by Mr. Ortiz escaped half-clothed and sought help at a gas station in Laredo.
“We consider this man to be a serial killer who was preying on one victim after another,” Sheriff Cuellar said. “Fortunately, he’s now been apprehended.”
The case is the latest in a series of recent gruesome episodes involving Border Patrol agents, and comes at a time when protesters and some Democratic lawmakers are seeking to curb the actions of immigration officials. Some are calling for an end to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which was created in 2003. Customs and Border Protection, another agency in the Department of Homeland Security, has also come under fierce criticism.
School Sex Assault Claim Made Against GOP Court Nominee
Details below and here: SCOTUSBlog, Friday round-up, Edith Roberts, Sept. 14, 2018.
Trump Campaign Manager Pleads Guilty
Former Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort, left, and Deputy Campaign Manager Rick Gates, a former aide and business partner to Manafort for a decade.
CBS News, Paul Manafort will cooperate with special counsel, Paula Reid, Clare Hymes, Steven Portnoy and Jeff Pegues, Sept. 14, 2018 (4:16 min. video). Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort entered a guilty plea to two felonies Friday. He will also be cooperating with the special counsel in its Russia investigation, prosecutor Andrew Weissman told the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. Friday.
Weissman referred to Manafort’s plea deal as a cooperation agreement in court Friday, which could jeopardize his chances of a presidential pardon. In late July, an attorney for Manafort told CBS News’ Paula Reid that there was “no chance” his client would cooperate with the special counsel in its Russia probe. It is not yet clear whether Manafort’s cooperation is related to President Trump or whether he would provide information on some other aspect of the investigation.
Manafort appeared at the hearing with three attorneys, including Kevin Downing, who said nothing during the hearing. The government brought a large contingent, though special counsel Robert Mueller was not present. Several lawyers, FBI and IRS agents who had worked on the case attended the hearing, occupying two-and-a-half rows in the audience. They were all hugging and congratulating each other at the end of the hearing.
The president’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was asked by Reid (CBS Washington correspondent) whether he had been told by Manafort’s attorneys that the cooperation deal will not require him to share anything related to the president. “I’m confident,” he replied, without saying whether Manafort’s lawyers had given him this assurance.
Manafort is pleading guilty to charges the special counsel filed Friday on conspiracy against the U.S. and conspiracy to obstruct justice. The former includes money laundering, tax fraud, failing to file Foreign Bank Accounts, and the latter includes the charge of witness tampering.
Manafort is still subject to whatever sentence is imposed in the Virginia trial. And the judge may decide to run those sentences consecutively or concurrently. In Washington, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that based on the guidelines, which are determined based on factors such as Manafort’s involvement and the nature of the crimes, he faces a range of 210 to 262 months and a $400,000 fine. But that is more than the statutory maximum which is five years, which the judge cannot exceed.
The charges were filed in a superseding criminal information — a formal criminal charge — which lays out the facts of the offense and is often the precursor to the announcement of a deal.
In the courtroom, Manafort stared straight ahead, while Weissman read a condensed version of the litany of illegal acts to which Manafort is pleading guilty. Jackson called it the “longest and most detailed” reading of criminal information she had ever heard.
The Atlantic, What Paul Manafort Knows, Franklin Foer, Sept. 14, 2018. What kind of threat does Paul Manafort now pose to Donald Trump? Robert Mueller’s indictment of the fallen lobbyist is a masterful portrait of a craven man and his methods.
But the chronology contained in the document filed this morning takes us right up to the eve of Manafort joining the Trump campaign, and then leaves the reader bursting with curiosity about what comes next. While Mueller has tied up all sorts of narratives about Manafort’s strange career in Ukraine, so many strands of the Manafort story remain maddeningly untidy.
Perhaps not even Mueller fully knows what Manafort has to offer about his time in the Trump campaign. But in the unresolved threads of the tale, there are hints of the subjects that Manafort could clarify.
Washington Post, Manafort to plead guilty to second set of charges in Mueller probe, Spencer S. Hsu and Devlin Barrett, Sept. 14, 2018. The signal of a plea by Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, came not long before his trial in D.C. on charges of money laundering and lobbying violations and after his August conviction in federal court in Virginia.
• Read the new court filing in Manafort’s case, with excerpt at the top below. Some conduct extended into 2017, according to the plea document:
PAUL J. MANAFORT, JR. (MANAFORT) served for years as a political consultant and lobbyist. Between at least 2006 and 2015, MANAFORT conspired with Richard W. Gates (Gates), Konstantin Kilimnik (Kilimnik), and others to act, and acted, as unregistered agents of a foreign government and political party.
Specifically, MANAFORT conspired to act and acted as an agent of the Government of Ukraine, the Party of Regions (a Ukrainian political party whose leader Victor Yanukovych was President from 2010 to 2014), President Yanukovych, and the Opposition Bloc (a successor to the Party of Regions that formed in 2014 when Yanukovych fled to Russia).
MANAFORT generated more than 60 million dollars in income as a result of his Ukraine work. In order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities, from approximately 2006 through at least 2016, MANAFORT, with the assistance of Gates and Kilimnik, laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts.
School Sex Assault Claim Made Against GOP Court Nominee
New Yorker, A Sexual-Misconduct Allegation Against the Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Stirs Tension Among Democrats in Congress, Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer, Sept. 14, 2018. On Thursday, Senate Democrats disclosed that they had referred a complaint regarding President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the F.B.I. for investigation. The complaint came from a woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when they were both in high school, more than thirty years ago.
The woman, who has asked not to be identified, first approached Democratic lawmakers in July, shortly after Trump nominated Kavanaugh.
The allegation dates back to the early nineteen-eighties, when Kavanaugh was a high-school student at Georgetown Preparatory School, in Bethesda, Maryland, and the woman attended a nearby high school. In the letter, the woman alleged that, during an encounter at a party, Kavanaugh held her down, and that he attempted to force himself on her.
She claimed in the letter that Kavanaugh and a classmate of his, both of whom had been drinking, turned up music that was playing in the room to conceal the sound of her protests, and that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand.
She was able to free herself. Although the alleged incident took place decades ago and the three individuals involved were minors, the woman said that the memory had been a source of ongoing distress for her, and that she had sought psychological treatment as a result.
In a statement, Kavanaugh said, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”
New York Times, Dianne Feinstein Refers a Kavanaugh Matter to Federal Investigators, Nicholas Fandos and Catie Edmondson, Sept. 14, 2018 (print edition). The senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee referred information involving Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, to federal investigators on Thursday, but the senator declined to make public what the matter involved.
Two officials familiar with the matter say the incident involved possible sexual misconduct between Judge Kavanaugh and a woman when they were both in high school. They spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
The statement by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California came a week before the Judiciary Committee is to vote on his nomination. “I have received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,” Ms. Feinstein said in a statement. “That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision. I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”
The information came in July in a letter, which was first sent to the office of Representative Anna Eshoo, Democrat of California, and accuses the judge of sexual misconduct toward the letter’s author, a person familiar with the letter confirmed.
Washington Post, Bitter Senate fight to confirm Kavanaugh plunges deeper into chaos over letter, Seung Min Kim and Elise Viebeck, Sept. 14, 2018. The letter describes an alleged episode of sexual misconduct involving the Supreme Court nominee when he was in high school, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Politico, Sexual assault allegation roils Kavanaugh confirmation fight, Elana Schor, Burgess Everett and Eliana Johnson, Sept. 14, 2018. Republicans rushed to defend the Supreme Court nominee with a letter from women who’ve known him since high school.
Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans on Friday released a letter from 65 women who knew Brett Kavanaugh during his high school years calling him “a good person” — escalating their defense of the Supreme Court nominee as a decades-old sexual misconduct allegation surfaced.
Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley’s (R-Iowa) office circulated the pro-Kavanaugh letter less than 48 hours after the committee’s top Democrat, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, referred the allegation against the nominee to the FBI. Feinstein, who declined to say when she first became aware of the accusation, said she had “honored [a] decision” by the woman making the charges to maintain confidentiality. But the senator’s handling of the matter has stoked already-fierce partisan tensions over a confirmation the GOP is still pushing to wind up by the end of this month.
The woman leveling the charge against Kavanaugh attended a nearby high school at the same time as the nominee. She, Kavanaugh, and another high-school male were alone in a room together when the alleged misconduct took place, according to two sources. The New Yorker reported Friday that the woman alleged Kavanaugh had attempted to force himself on her while physically restraining her.
The flaring controversy has not shaken Republican plans to bring Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate floor before the Supreme Court’s new term begins in the first week of October. The Judiciary panel is still scheduled to vote on the nomination on Thursday, Grassley’s office said.
The Senate has received an updated FBI background report on Kavanaugh that includes the letter, which means that senators will have access to the letter if they want to view it.
With Republicans holding a 51-49 advantage, Kavanaugh’s prospects for approval are still on track despite his lack of 50 public “yes” votes — heightening the importance of the letter’s effect on the Senate GOP’s two female swing votes, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Neither Collins nor Murkowski has expressed skepticism about the nominee.
Collins and Kavanaugh had an hour-long phone call on Friday, a spokeswoman said, though the contents of the call were not divulged. A spokeswoman for Murkowski did not respond to a request for comment.
In the letter that the GOP circulated, Kavanaugh’s female contemporaries countered the damning portrayal of the nominee that has surfaced the past 24 hours. “Through the more than 35 years we have known him, Brett has stood out for his friendship, character, and integrity. In particular, he has always treated women with decency and respect,” the women wrote. “That was true when he was in high school, and it has remained true to this day.”
Democrats have remained notably mum about the situation since Thursday, even as liberal groups off the Hill call for a pointed push to withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“That’s now in the hands of the FBI. That’s all I’m going to say about it,” Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who pressed Kavanaugh on the #MeToo movement during his confirmation hearing, told POLITICO’s Off Message podcast in an interview set to run Tuesday.
Brian Fallon, a former senior aide to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) who now helms the left-leaning group Demand Justice, nudged Democats for a more pointed response. “The message needs to be clear: withdraw,” he said.
Undecided red-state Democrats were similarly tight-lipped following the report on the letter’s content. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Doug Jones of Alabama and Jon Tester of Montana had no immediate comment. Tester is still trying to schedule an initial meeting with Kavanaugh and Manchin is seeking a second meeting.
The White House first heard vague rumors about the allegation against Kavanaugh late last week, but the specifics of the alleged high-school sexual assault landed on White House Counsel Don McGahn’s desk on Thursday, hours after Feinstein referred the matter to the FBI.
Kavanaugh’s denial may do little to stanch the damaging trickle of revelations. The co-author of the New Yorker’s story, Ronan Farrow, has traveled to California in an attempt to persuade the woman behind the allegations to share her story, according to a source familiar with his reporting. The woman’s letter was channeled to Feinstein as well as to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) through a Stanford Law School professor.
Perjury Claim Against Kavanaugh
Washington Post, Opinion: Brett Kavanaugh misled the Senate under oath. I cannot support his nomination, Patrick Leahy, Sept. 14, 2018 (print edition). Patrick Leahy, right, a Democrat, represents Vermont in the U.S. Senate and is a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee..
Last week, I uncovered new evidence that Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh misled the Senate during his earlier hearings for the D.C. Circuit Court by minimizing and even denying his involvement in Bush-era controversies. I gave him the opportunity to correct his testimony at his hearing last week; he chose instead to double down.
I make no claim that Kavanaugh is a bad person. But when his prior confirmation to our nation’s “second highest court” was in jeopardy, he repeatedly misled the Senate when the truth might have placed that job out of reach.
Take his relationship with the ringleader of the “Memogate” scandal. Between 2001 and 2003, two Republican staffers regularly gained unauthorized access to the private computer files of six Democratic senators, including mine, taking 4,670 files on controversial judicial nominees.
Kavanaugh was asked more than 100 times about this scandal in 2004 and 2006. He testified repeatedly that he knew nothing about the source of the information; that he received nothing that even appeared to be prepared by Democratic staff; and that he never suspected anything unusual, or “untoward.”
But emails I released last week show that then-Republican Senate Judiciary Committee counsel Manuel Miranda regularly shared obviously ill-gotten, inside information with Kavanaugh, which Miranda often asked be kept secret.
SCOTUSBlog, Friday round-up, Edith Roberts, Sept. 14, 2018 (Visit SCOTUSblog for hotlinks to original articles). For The New York Times, Catie Edmondson and Nicholas Fandos report that “[t]he senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee referred information involving Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, to federal investigators on Thursday, but the senator declined to make public what the matter involved.”
Additional coverage comes from Seung Min Kim and Elise Viebeck for The Washington Post, Richard Wolf for USA Today, Kristina Peterson and Jess Bravin for The Wall Street Journal, Burgess Everett and Edward-Isaac Dovere at Politico, and Jennifer Haberkorn for the Los Angeles Times, who reports that the Intercept, an online news publication that originally revealed the existence of the letter, “said the letter apparently describes an incident involving Kavanaugh and a young woman while they were in high school, but included no details.”
Nina Totenberg reports for NPR that “[t]he White House is accusing Senate Democrats of an unfounded ‘11th hour attempt to delay’ a vote on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.” The editorial board of The Wall Street Journal asserts that “[t]he episode says more about the desperation of Democrats than it does about Mr. Kavanaugh, and the real disgrace would be if Republicans did anything other than move promptly to a confirmation vote.”
In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Paul Waldman writes that “a Supreme Court with Kavanaugh on it could create a free-for-all when it comes to the influence of money in politics, a new era in which corruption is absolutely rampant — and completely legal.” At The Daily Signal, Thomas Jipping deplores “the misdirection, the fake indignation, the sudden interest in a once-irrelevant confirmation process, [and] the most creative obstruction tactics” of Senate Democrats who “already had their minds made up” to oppose the nomination.
Washington Post, Hurricane Florence makes landfall in North Carolina, slamming state with ‘life-threatening’ rainfall, Mark Berman, Antonia Noori Farzan and Kyle Swenson, Sept. 14, 2018.
• The hurricane made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., at 7:15 a.m., according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm hit with estimated maximum winds of 90 mph.
• The storm had already hit some areas hard overnight. In New Bern, N.C., emergency officials fielded more than 100 calls from people trapped in their cars or who had water coming into their homes. More than 300,000 homes also lost power, officials said.
•Trump creates political storm with false claim on Puerto Rico’s hurricane death toll
• As Florence arrives, FEMA and its administrator face mounting scrutiny
• Graphic: Tracking Florence’s path
Washington Post, At least 1 dead as gas-line explosions tear through 3 towns north of Boston, Karen Weintraub, Deanna Paul, Taylor Telford and Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Sept. 14, 2018. State police received between 60 and 100 reports of structure fires and gas explosions in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover, Mass. The explosions left at least 10 people hospitalized, and officials are still unsure exactly what caused the blasts.
Washington Post, The 2018 primary season is over. Here are the biggest winners and losers, Amber Phillips, Sept. 14, 2018. It was a good season to be President Trump or a candidate from diverse backgrounds, and a bad one to be a member of the House seeking higher office or an incumbent with a disconnect from your base.
New York Times, Gov. Andrew Cuomo Easily Holds Off Cynthia Nixon in New York Democratic Primary, Shane Goldmacher, Sept. 14, 2018 (print edition). Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo took a decisive step toward a third term on Thursday, quelling a threatened liberal rebellion by turning aside the insurgent challenge of Cynthia Nixon after a bruising battle to claim the Democratic nomination in New York.
Mr. Cuomo, right, had marshaled the support of nearly all of the state’s most powerful Democratic brokers — elected officials, party leaders, labor unions and wealthy real estate interests — to defeat Ms. Nixon.
The race cemented both Mr. Cuomo’s standing as an unmatched force in New York politics and a merciless tactician with little regard for diplomacy.
Ms. Nixon had cast her first-time candidacy as a fight for the direction of the Democratic Party in New York and beyond, offering a pure brand of liberalism against Mr. Cuomo’s more triangulating pragmatism, a style defined less by ideology and more by what he deemed possible. After a six-month slog versus Ms. Nixon, Mr. Cuomo now faces a less than 60-day sprint of a general election against the Republican, Marcus J. Molinaro, the affable Dutchess County executive who was once the youngest mayor in the nation.
Washington Post, Willie Nelson is playing his first-ever political concert, for Beto O’Rourke, Timothy Bella, Sept. 14, 2018. Some fans are abandoning him. For Nelson, the jam session with O’Rourke was the latest in a career filled with activism and liberal-leaning political stances that have largely gone against the norm for country-music culture.
But for some of Nelson’s fans, his partnership with O’Rourke was the breaking point. After Nelson announced Wednesday that he would be headlining a Sept. 29 rally for O’Rourke in Austin, the first public concert he’s ever held for a political candidate, fans have taken to social media to boycott and publicly disown the country legend.
Tycoon Renounces GOP
Columbus Dispatch, Les Wexner renounces Republican Party affiliation after Obama stops in Columbus, Suzanne Goldsmith, Sept. 14, 2018. As former Democratic President Barack Obama made a quiet stop in Columbus on Thursday night, the wealthiest Republican supporter in the state told a small audience at a Downtown event that he is fed up and has quit the Republican Party.
“I just decided I’m no longer a Republican,” said L Brands CEO Leslie H. Wexner, speaking during a panel discussion about civility at Miranova’s Ivory Room billed as a “Columbus Partnership and YPO Leadership Summit.”
“I’m an independent,” he said. “I won’t support this nonsense in the Republican Party. I’ve been a Republican since college, joined the Young Republican Club at Ohio State.
“I haven’t run an ad in the newspaper that said, ‘I quit,’” he told the gathering on Thursday. Instead, he’s been writing notes to his friends in elective office who are Republicans, telling them, “I want you to know that now I’m an independent.”
The event was jointly sponsored by the Columbus Partnership, a group of central Ohio’s most influential business leaders that Wexner chairs, and YPO (formerly Young Presidents’ Organization), a group of under-45 business leaders.
Obama stopped in Columbus before a rally in Cleveland Thursday night to support Democrat Richard Cordray’s run for governor.
The former president spoke on stage in Columbus with Alex Fischer, president and CEO of the Columbus Partnership, during a portion of the event that was closed to reporters. The panel on which Wexner later spoke was moderated by political commentator David Gergen, a former adviser to presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton. Panelists also included Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and Nancy Kramer, chief evangelist at IBM iX. It was attended by approximately 140 people.
Wexner spoke warmly about Obama and about the theme of bipartisan civility, something he has been promoting in recent months. “It’s a great moment for the community,” he said of Obama’s rather secretive visit to Columbus before his Cleveland rally for Cordray. “I know he came here because of the Partnership and the things we have done, and the knowledge that civility is a priority for our community. He wanted to touch it and feel it for himself.
“I was struck by the genuineness of the man; his candor, humility and empathy for others,” Wexner said of Obama. Those comments presented a stark contrast to Wexner’s comments about Republican President Donald Trump. A little over a year ago, the billionaire CEO said in a speech to L Brands employees that he felt “dirty” and “ashamed” following Trump’s response to violence that erupted at the Unite the Right rally that left one dead in Charlottesville in 2017.
Trump had said there were “very fine people” among the white nationalist protesters at that rally. On Thursday, Wexner recalled that incident, which he said caused him to lose sleep. “I have to do something because the leader of our country is behaving poorly,” Wexner recalled thinking.
New York Daily News, Trump ally Roger Stone says Paul Manafort’s cooperation deal doesn’t concern him: ‘It has no bearing on me,’ Chris Sommerfeldt, Sept.14, 2018. Roger Stone, the beleaguered longtime ally of President Trump, shrugged after his friend and former colleague Paul Manafort copped a plea deal Friday that involves cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller.
The self-proclaimed “dirty trickster” of politics has been in Mueller’s cross-hairs for months over his contacts with WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.
Stone, 66, has speculated Mueller will indict him on “bogus” charges over his communications with the radical transparency organization, which released emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign that had been stolen by Russian hackers as part of the Kremlin’s Trump-boosting election interference, according to the U.S. intelligence community.
Washington Post, Man accused in ‘horrific’ child rape cases convicted of video-recording the assaults, Dan Morse, Sept. 14, 2018. A Maryland man accused of video-recording his sexual assaults of three girls ages 2 to 4 was convicted in federal court Thursday on 18 counts of producing child pornography.
Kyle Thompson, 33, right (shown in a mug shot), a former commercial HVAC technician, faces a possible sentence of more than 200 years in prison. The jury deliberated less than 30 minutes in a case that longtime child-abuse investigators had called among the most disturbing they’d seen.
Thompson “engaged in sexually explicit conduct” with the three girls from May 2015 to January 2017 to produce the pornography, said Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland.
Skirpal Poisoning In United Kingdom
CraigMurray.com, Opinion: Lynch Mob Mentality, Craig Murray (historian, former UK ambassador, human rights activist), Sept. 14, 2018. I was caught in a twitterstorm of hatred yesterday, much of it led by mainstream media journalists like David Aaronovitch and Dan Hodges, for daring to suggest that the basic elements of Boshirov and Petrov’s story do in fact stack up.
What became very plain quite quickly was that none of these people had any grasp of the detail of the suspects’ full twenty minute interview, but had just seen the short clips or quotes as presented by British corporate and state media.
Were I Vladimir Putin, I would persuade Boshirov and Petrov voluntarily to come to the UK and stand trial, on condition that it was a genuinely fair trial before a jury in which the entire proceedings, and all of the evidence, was open and public, and the Skripals and Pablo Miller might be called as witnesses and cross-examined. I have no doubt that the British government’s desire for justice would suddenly move into rapid retreat if their bluff was called in this way.
Washington Post, Trump has made more than 5,000 false or misleading claims as president, Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, Sept. 13, 2018 (print edition). The president — who broke the 2,000-mark for questionable claims in January — has averaged 32 false or misleading claims a day in just the past nine days.
President Trump, shown in a now-notorious NBC TV screenshot last year throwing rolls of paper towels to Puerto Rican victims of Hurricane Maria, created new controversy on Sept. 13
Washington Post, Trump questions number of deaths attributed to Hurricane Maria, John Wagner, Sept. 13, 2018. A George Washington University report estimated there were 2,975 “excess deaths” in the six months after the storm struck Puerto Rico last year. The president falsely said a high toll had been generated by Democrats to “make me look as bad as possible.”
President Trump took issue Thursday with the number of deaths attributable to Hurricane Maria, falsely saying a much higher count had been generated by Democrats to “make me look as bad as possible.” Trump said on Twitter that “they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths” when he visited the island about two weeks after the storm.
“As time went by it did not go up by much,” Trump wrote. “Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000. … This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!”
Trump’s tweets — which came as a highly dangerous Hurricane Florence churned toward the Carolinas — brought an immediate rebuke from Democrats in Congress, as well as some Republicans.
Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said she believes the figure of nearly 3,000 is sound. “What kind of mind twists that statistic into ‘Oh, fake news is trying to hurt my image,’” she said. “How can you be so self-centered and try to distort the truth so much? It’s mind boggling.”
In a statement, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, called on Trump to “resign at once.”
More On Puerto Rican Disaster
Washington Post, Nearly one year after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico residents see a failure at all levels of government, poll finds, Scott Clement, Katie Zezima and Emily Guskin, Sept. 13, 2018 (print edition). Residents of the island territory sharply rebuke President Trump, along with the federal and local governments, for last year’s response to Hurricane Maria, a devastating storm that created an enduring humanitarian crisis affecting nearly all aspects of life in Puerto Rico, according to a new Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll.
Manafort Plea Deal: Report
ABC News, Paul Manafort and special counsel reach tentative plea deal: Sources, Katherine Faulders, Trish Turner, John Santucci and Matthew Mosk, Sept. 13, 2018. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has tentatively agreed to a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller that will head off his upcoming trial, sources familiar with the negotiations tell ABC News.
The deal is expected to be announced in court Friday, but it remains unclear whether Manafort has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors or is simply conceding to a guilty plea, which would allow him to avoid the stress and expense of trial, according to three sources with knowledge of the discussions.
Manafort, shown in a mug shot, and his most senior defense attorneys spent more than four hours Thursday in discussions with a team of special prosecutors who are involved in the ongoing investigation into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
ABC News spotted the team arriving in a dark SUV Thursday morning, pulling into a secret entrance out of public view at the building where Special Counsel Robert Mueller is based.
Palmer Report, Opinion: Everything just went down the toilet for Donald Trump Jr and Jared Kushner, Bill Palmer, Sept. 13, 2018. Paul Manafort and Special Counsel Robert Mueller have tentatively agreed to a plea deal, and while we don’t yet know if that deal will officially require Manafort to cooperate with the Trump-Russia investigation, that part doesn’t matter. Manafort is doing this in the hope he might get out of prison before the end of his natural life, meaning he’s going to sell out everyone he can sell out. That’s an instant nightmare for at least two members of Donald Trump’s family.
Donald Trump Jr is in seventeen kinds of legal trouble over his Trump Tower meeting with Russian government representatives during the election. His own emails reveal that he went into that meeting seeking dirt on Hillary Clinton, which means he attempted to receive stolen goods, and he attempted to receive foreign items of value on behalf of a campaign – both felonies. But these kinds of criminal cases are always made much stronger by a cooperating witness.
More On Anti-Kavanaugh Claim
MSNBC, The Last Word, Lawrence O’Donnell, Sept. 13, 2018. MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell, a former high-ranking Senate staffer for Democrats, told his audience Thursday night that he learned of the letter the previously Friday. He said the claim by a woman who was a minor, as was Kavanaugh, regarding a matter “sexual in nature” could be considered a “sexual assault” depending on circumstances, according to his information.
O’Donnell said that his initial reaction was that the matter would not be made public because the complainant declined to press the matter or step forward. But the process has a way of changing with allegations that he described as apparently serious.
O’Donnell said that the situation appears to have an “eerie” resemblance to the charges made by whistleblower Anita Hill against Clarence Thomas. Hill similarly made allegations of sexual harassment privately, but found herself pulled into public testimony before a committee that treated her shabbily, he said.
O’Donnell said the charge against Kavanaugh could be regarded as “assault” and thus more serious than the harassment claim by Hill against her onetime boss Thomas, shown in a file photo. Republicans, bolstered by a majo advertising campaign by the group Citizens United, pressured a then-Democratic majority in the Senate push the Thomas confirmation process quickly without calling all relevant witnesses before his confirmation by a narrow margin.
The Intercept, Feinstein acknowledges mystery letter exists, Ryan Grim, Sept. 13, 2018. Yesterday I reported that Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee had requested to privately review a document related to Brett Kavanaugh that was in the possession of Dianne Feinstein, right, the top-ranking Democrat on the panel. She refused.
Last night, she briefed Democrats on its contents and today she put out a statement acknowledging that the document exists and that she has turned it over to the FBI. The New York Times is reporting that the letter alleges sexual misconduct while Kavanaugh was in high school, which is also what I was told by sources familiar with it.
HuffPost, Dianne Feinstein Acknowledges Having A Secret Brett Kavanaugh Document, Igor Bobic, Amanda Terkel, Jennifer Bendery, Paul Blumenthal, and Ashley Feinberg. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) acknowledged Thursday that she has a document concerning Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh that she has so far refused to share, despite behind-the-scenes requests to do so from her fellow Democrats on the Senate judiciary committee.
The California Democrat, who is the senior minority member on the committee, had thus far refused to answer questions about the document, which was first reported by The Intercept.
Multiple sources have told HuffPost that the document in question is a letter sent to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) that concerns potential sexual misconduct involving Kavanaugh and a woman when they were both in high school. Eshoo’s office has also declined to comment, saying the letter was considered casework ― and thus wouldn’t be made public ― since it came from a constituent.
The White House took issue with Feinstein’s announcement Thursday, saying that she never brought up this matter when she met with him or at his hearings.
Roll Call, Kavanaugh Set to Advance Amid Democratic Objections, Todd Ruger, Sept. 13, 2018. Kavanaugh Set to Advance Amid Democratic Objections; Supreme Court nominee mostly evasive in follow-up answers to Judiciary panel.
Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to hold a committee vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh at a specific time, 1:45 p.m., on Sept. 20. The vote was 11-10 along party lines over the objections of committee Democrats who said it would prematurely cut off debate.
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee still had a lot of questions for Kavanaugh after last week’s confirmation hearing — they asked more than 1,200 written follow-up queries. But the nominee didn’t provide many revealing answers late Wednesday when he turned in 263 pages of responses in which he tried to provide more thoughts on one of the more dramatic moments of his confirmation hearing, brush aside questions about his finances, and clean up answers about abortion, his independence from political pressure and other topics.
But Kavanaugh appeared most keen to avoid any missteps that might jeopardize his solid support among Republicans. He did little to assuage concerns from Democrats about what they contend are inaccurate or false statements and remained elusive on many of the most contentious questions.
New York Times, Opinion: A Supreme Court Transformed, Linda Greenhouse, Sept. 13, 2018. What will the court look like when neither side of the ideological divide has to walk on eggs to win the favor of the justice in the middle?
Palmer Report, Opinion: Democrats move forward with plan to force GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski to vote against Brett Kavanaugh, Bill Palmer, Sept. 13, 2018. Over the past week we’ve seen a lot of attention paid to the efforts to push Republican Senator Susan Collins to vote against Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. That plan is straightforward: raise so much money now for Collins’ eventual Democratic opponent in 2020, she’ll realize her career is over if she votes “yes.” Far less attention has been paid to the efforts to push GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski to reject Kavanaugh, even though it’s an aggressive plan being led by Senate Democrats.
Collins comes from the moderate state of Maine, so it’s realistic that she could lose to a Democrat in 2020 if she votes for a far-right extremist like Brett Kavanaugh.
But Murkowski comes from Alaska, which is as red as you can get. Murkowski is a rare pro-choice Republican, a reminder that Alaska’s status as a red state arguably has less to do with social conservatism and more to do with its anti-federal government views. In any case, it would be far harder for a Democrat to defeat Murkowski. However, there is another way to pressure her.
Lisa Murkowski, right, lost the Republican primary race in 2010, and only managed to keep her Senate seat thanks to a write-in campaign which was spearheaded by the Alaska Federation of Natives. Last week we saw Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii focus heavily on Brett Kavanaugh’s stances against the rights of Natives. Sure enough, according to a major Alaska newspaper, the Federation announced today that it opposes the Kavanaugh nomination. This is a big deal.
Although Senator Murkowski isn’t up for reelection until 2022, it’s becoming clear that her political career will end in 2022 if she votes in favor of Brett Kavanaugh. If Senator Hirono made it impossible for Murkowski to vote “yes” by rallying the Natives against Kavanaugh, Senator Dianne Feinstein may have just given Murkowski an easy excuse to vote “no” by referring Kavanaugh to the FBI for criminal investigation for alleged sexual misconduct.
Palmer Report, Opinion: FBI goes all-in on Brett Kavanaugh sexual assault investigation, Bill Palmer, Sept. 13, 2018. Hours after Senator Dianne Feinstein confirmed that she referred Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the FBI for criminal investigation, various news outlets have reported that it centers around a sexual assault allegation. This evening we’re learning that the FBI is taking the matter very seriously.
This evening Rachel Maddow revealed during her MSNBC show that the FBI has now added this matter to the criminal background check that it already performed on Brett Kavanaugh as part of his confirmation process. This means the FBI views this criminal referral as a credible matter, and not as some kind of left-field hoax. This isn’t particularly surprising; as Palmer Report explained earlier today, Feinstein wouldn’t have wasted the FBI’s time – and set herself up for potential backlash – if she didn’t feel like this was a serious accusation. So now what?
We’ll see if this prompts the accuser to preemptively come forward, and how it changes the strategy that Senate Democrats are moving forward with. Before this news broke, the Democrats were already zeroing in on Kavanaugh’s time as a clerk for former judge Alex Kozinski, who resigned last year after being accused of sexual misconduct by several women. It’s still not clear what the connection might be, but it is fairly clear that the Democrats know some things that the rest of us don’t yet know.
Mother Jones, The Many Mysteries of Brett Kavanaugh’s Finances, Who made the down payment on his house? How did he come up with $92,000 in country club fees?
Stephanie Mencimer, Sept. 13, 2018. Before President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, he had a lot of debt. In May 2017, he reported owing between $60,004 and $200,000 on three credit cards and a loan against his retirement account.
By the time Trump nominated him to the high court in July 2018, those debts had vanished. Overall, his reported income and assets didn’t seem sufficient to pay off all that debt while maintaining his upper-class lifestyle: an expensive house in an exclusive suburban neighborhood, two kids in a $10,500-a-year private school, and a membership in a posh country club reported to charge $92,000 in initiation fees. His financial disclosure forms have raised more questions than they’ve answered, leading to speculation about whether he’s had a private benefactor and what sorts of conflicts that relationship might entail.
No other recent Supreme Court nominee has come before the Senate with so many unanswered questions regarding finances. That’s partly because many of Kavanaugh’s predecessors were a lot richer than he is. Chief Justice John Roberts, for instance, had been making $1 million a year in private practice before joining the DC Circuit as a judge. The poorer nominees had debts, but explainable ones, such as the $15,000 Sonia Sotomayor owed to her dentist. Neil Gorsuch came the closest to financial scandal when he disclosed that he owned a mountain fishing lodge in Colorado with two men who are top deputies to the billionaire Philip F. Anschutz, who had championed Gorsuch’s nomination.
Kavanaugh’s finances are far more mysterious. During his confirmation hearing last week, he escaped a public discussion of his spending habits because no senator asked about it. But on Tuesday, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent Kavanaugh 14 pages of post-hearing follow-up questions, many of which involved his finances. On Thursday, Kavanaugh supplied answers, but he dodged some of the questions and left much of his financial situation unexplained.
Mueller Probe / Media
New York Times, Under Fire, Robert Mueller Has a Novel P.R. Strategy: Silence, Michael M. Grynbaum, Sept. 13, 2018. Attacked by Fox News pundits, Rudolph Giuliani and a presidential Twitter account, the special counsel sticks to a stoic approach.
Since his appointment 16 months ago as special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, right, has granted no interviews and held no news conferences. The spokesman for his office is known around Washington as “Mr. No-Comment.” Even public sightings are rare: A photograph of Mr. Mueller at an airport gate, with Donald Trump Jr. in the background, went viral.
Silence as a public relations strategy is risky, especially for someone who is impugned almost daily by Fox News pundits, Trump allies like Rudolph W. Giuliani and tweets from the president himself. Supporters fear that the fusillade is eroding public confidence in the special counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election before Mr. Mueller has a chance to present his findings.
#MeToo Clergy Scandals
Washington Post, Pope summons bishops for summit on preventing clergy sex abuse and protecting children, Chico Harlan and William Branigin, Sept. 13, 2018 (print edition). The February summit at the Vatican — believed to be the first of its kind — was announced a day before Pope Francis, right, is set to meet with leaders of the U.S. Catholic Church to discuss some of the latest sex scandals.
Washington Post, Pope Francis orders investigation of W.Va. bishop on sexual harassment charges, William Branigin, Sept. 13, 2018. The pope instructed the archbishop of Baltimore to conduct a probe into allegations that Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, 75, of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va., sexually harassed adults. Bransfield is a former rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.
New York Times, Catholic Clergy in Germany Abused 3,600 Children, Study Says, Katrin Bennhold and Melissa Eddy, Sept. 13, 2018 (print edition). “It is depressing and shameful,” a Catholic bishop said after a report found that thousands of children had been assaulted over decades. The study, which was commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church bishops’ conference in Germany, found that at least 1,670 church workers had been involved in the abuse of 3,677 children. That is 4.4 percent of the clergy.
Boston Gas Explosions
Boston Globe, Fires, explosions rock Lawrence area, Danny McDonald, Josh Miller and Martin Finucane, Sept. 13, 2018. Dozens of fires and explosions broke out in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover Thursday afternoon, and State Police advised all residents in those communities who get their gas service from Columbia Gas to evacuate their homes immediately.
“Gas lines are currently being depressurized by the company,” but it will “take some time,” State Police said in a tweet. Electricity to all three communities was being shut off. The mayor of Lawrence asked all residents of the South Lawrence area to evacuate due to the power shutoff, not just Columbia Gas customers in the area, State Police said.
New York Times, Share of U.S. Population Born Abroad Is Highest Since 1910, With More From Asia, Sabrina Tavernise, Sept. 13, 2018. The Census Bureau’s figures for 2017 confirm a major shift in who is coming to the United States. The new arrivals are more likely to come from Asia and to have college degrees than those who arrived in past decades.
New York Times, Opinion: Make Voting Easier in New York, Editorial Board, Sept. 13, 2018 (print edition). Laws are designed to keep turnout low and protect incumbents. Rewrite them. Because New York’s electorate is heavily Democratic, the primaries effectively decide many elections. And yet in last year’s primary for mayor of New York City, only 12 percent of eligible voters bothered to weigh in.
Why is it so bad? For starters, blame the state’s “stupid policy,” as a political scientist described it to The Times recently. Sure, there’s reason to criticize other states for cutting back on polling places or hours, or passing voter-ID and proof-of-citizenship laws that make voting harder, especially for minorities and other vulnerable groups. But who are New Yorkers to judge? Their own electoral laws and practices are mired in the Dark Ages, prevented from entering the 21st century by lawmakers trying to protect their jobs.
Court Stifles Alleged GOP-Linked Vote Plot
Washington Post, Va. Supreme Court declines to reinstate independent candidate to congressional ballot, Gregory S. Schneider, Sept. 13, 2018. The Second District race was marred by what a circuit court judge called “fraud” after U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor’s staff tried to help opponent Shaun Brown gather signatures, many of which were later ruled forgeries.
The Virginia Supreme Court has denied the appeal of Shaun Brown, who was ordered off the ballot for the 2nd Congressional District election after a circuit court judge found that her qualifying petitions contained forged signatures.
Brown, who ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for the Hampton Roads-area seat in 2016, had sought to run as an independent against incumbent Rep. Scott Taylor (R) and Democratic challenger Elaine Luria. Staffers from Taylor’s campaign had collected signatures to help Brown qualify for the ballot in a strategy apparently aimed at siphoning votes away from Luria.
Washington Post, New estimate: GOP’s second tax cuts would add $3.8 trillion to deficit over 20 years, Jeff Stein, Sept. 13, 2018. The centrist think tank also found that the GOP law would give substantially bigger tax breaks to the richest families than to those in the middle class.
Washington Post, Wilbur Ross earned at least $27 million in 2017, his ethics filing shows, Steven Mufson, Sept. 13, 2018 (print edition). Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was paid $6.1 million for giving up his accumulated stock incentive plan with Invesco Group when he was named to the Cabinet, and the firm separately paid him a $970,530 bonus, according to his latest government ethics filing.
Ross, right, said that in the two months of 2017 before becoming commerce secretary he also received a director’s fee of $189,744 from international steelmaker Arcelor Mittal. For the year, he earned at least $27.2 million, the low end of a broad reported range of capital gains and dividend income during 2017.
The commerce secretary, who has estimated his net worth to be at least $800 million, also listed 21 previously unreported sales and purchases in 2017 of substantial amounts of municipal bonds. Each transaction was between $100,000 and $500,000. They included purchases of bonds such as those issued by the Edinburg, Tex., school district, the St. Paul, Minn., port authority and the Atlanta development authority.
Convicted felon and former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, shown in a 2016 campaign photo by Gage Skidmore
Daily Beast, Opinion: Michael Flynn to Appear at Far-Right Conference With Pizzagaters, Racist YouTube Stars, Kelly Weill, Sept. 13, 2018. President Trump’s disgraced former national security adviser will be picking up an award from conspiracy-mongering outlet The Gateway Pundit.
While he awaits sentencing for lying to the FBI, former national security advisor Michael Flynn will take his awards where he can get them — even if that means appearing alongside Pizzagate pushers and racist YouTubers.
Flynn, a former lieutenant general who resigned as Trump’s national security advisor after he was revealed to have lied about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador, could spend up to six months in prison for lying to the FBI. That hasn’t stopped the Gateway Pundit, a far-right, conspiracy-mongering news outlet, from presenting Flynn with a “Award for Service to America” at its upcoming conference this weekend. The conference features Pizzagate conspiracy theorists, an alt-right YouTuber accused of leading a “cult,” and members of far-right European parties.Advertisement
Flynn is scheduled to appear Friday night, following a series of speeches on why “President Trump Is #Winning.” Flynn, whose contacts with Russian and Turkish officials have brought scrutiny on the Trump administration, is arguably not the best spokesperson for #Winning.
But the Gateway Pundit has a history of playing loose with facts. The website falsely named a young Michigan man as the killer who drove a car into a crowd of anti-racist demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia last year. Gateway Pundit smeared the man as an “anti-Trump druggie” before the actual driver was revealed as neo-Nazi James Fields Jr. The Michigan man and his family are suing the Gateway Pundit, as is a man who uploaded a video of the car attack. The Gateway Pundit accused him of being a deep state plant who orchestrated the attack. After the smear campaign, conspiracy theorists harassed the man’s family and mailed him white powder, he alleges. The Gateway Pundit responded to the second lawsuit by calling the plaintiff an “unhinged leftie hack.” Both cases are ongoing.
The Gateway Pundit has also variously misidentified bomb-makers and shooters as anti-Trumpers, and peddled conspiracies about Hillary Clinton’s health during the 2016 election.
Turk-Syria War Analysis
Al Masdar News (AMN), Breaking: Syrian Army unleashes big assault across Hama-Idlib axis, Leith Aboufadel, Sept. 13, 2018. Led by the Tiger Forces, the Syrian Arab Army began the attack by heavily targeting the Islamist rebels near the Masasneh Checkpoint.
Moon of Alabama, Opinion: Syria – Turkish Tantrum Delays Liberation Of Idleb, B, Sept. 13, 2018. Turkey is again turning to the U.S. to achieve its aim of controlling and annexing north Syria. At the Tehran summit of the Russian, Iranian and Turkish presidents, Turkey presented a (likely U.S.-induced plan) for Idleb governorate.
Another U.S. attack on Syria would help U.S. President Trump on domestic issues, most importantly in the upcoming elections for Congress. In two weeks Trump will chair a UN Security Council meeting which he could use to propagandize against an Idelb attack. It is possible that Russia will hold back until these events are over.
For Russia this is a tricky situation. Erdogan can probably be pressured into retreat. But Russia also wants to prevent that it falls back into the U.S. fold. The typical Russian reaction in such a situation is to hedge, to play for time and to hope that some other incident happens which then helps to turn the situation. Such an event may come sooner than expected.
Washington Post, Federal borrowing soars despite strong economy, Damian Paletta and Erica Werner, Sept. 12, 2018. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the U.S. government spent $895 billion more than it brought in during the past 11 months, a 33 percent increase from one year before. And lawmakers from both parties are proposing ideas that would make the deficit swell even further.
Related story: Washington Post, House GOP is pushing a new round of tax cuts that could cost $2 trillion over 10 years, Jeff Stein, Sept. 12, 2018 (print edition).
New York Times, Molly Kelly Wins in New Hampshire, Sydney Ember, Sept. 12, 2018 (print edition). Democratic voters in New Hampshire selected Molly Kelly, a former state senator, as their nominee for governor on Tuesday, as female candidates for governorships continue to show their strength in primary elections this year. Ms. Kelly’s victory brings to 15 the number of women who have won governor’s nominations in this primary season, a record.
But Democrats rejected the bid of another female candidate, Maura Sullivan, a military veteran who had only moved to the state last year. She fell to Chris Pappas, a local party favorite, the A.P. reported, in a key House district that Republicans hope to target in November. Ms. Sullivan, an ex-Marine and former official in the Obama administration, was besieged by criticism during the campaign that she was carpetbagging, and was running in second place Tuesday in a field of 11 candidates, well behind Mr. Pappas.
Should Mr. Pappas win in November, he would be the state’s first openly gay representative in Congress. He will face Eddie Edwards, a Navy veteran and former police chief, who won the Republican primary Tuesday in a close race over Andy Sanborn. Mr. Edwards would become the state’s first African-American member of Congress.
Washington Post, GOP worries about Senate as candidates struggle and Trump’s support tumbles, Sean Sullivan, Sept. 12, 2018. I hope when the smoke clears, we’ll still have a majority,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), right, as the Republican Party finds itself fretting over races in Texas, Indiana and West Virginia.
Washington Post, Opinion: The anti-Trump backlash is gathering force. These new polls confirm it, Greg Sargent, Sept. 12, 2018. The anti-Trump backlash is about to collide violently with the GOP’s structural, counter-majoritarian advantages in this election — and the winner of the clash will decide whether President Trump will be subjected to genuine oversight or will effectively be given even freer rein to unleash more corruption and more authoritarianism.
Supreme Court Battle
The Intercept, Dianne Feinstein Withholding Brett Kavanaugh Document From Fellow Judiciary Committee Democrats, Ryan Grim, Sept. 12, 2018. Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have privately requested to view a Brett Kavanaugh-related document in possession of the panel’s top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, but the senior California senator has so far refused, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.
The specific content of the document, which is a letter from a California constituent, is unclear, but Feinstein’s refusal to share the letter has created tension on the committee, particularly after Feinstein largely took a back seat to her more junior colleagues last week, as they took over Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings with protests around access to documents.
Washington Post, Opinion: Two problems Brett Kavanaugh still must address, Jennifer Rubin, right, Sept. 12, 2018. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) on Tuesday sent 14 pages of questions to Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh. While Whitehouse covers a lot of ground — from abortion, to environmental regulations, to work Kavanaugh performed in the George W. Bush administration — two things stand out.
First, he asks a ton of questions about the judge’s finances, including “Are there any debts, creditors, or related items that you did not disclose on your FBI disclosures?” He asks a slew of questions about the debt Kavanaugh, left, incurred allegedly paying for baseball tickets for a friend who reimbursed him, as well as how he could afford membership at the Chevy Chase Club, which reportedly has a $92,000 initiation free and annual dues of more than $9,000.
Whitehouse also inquired whether Kavanaugh “participated in any form of gambling or game of chance or skill with monetary stakes, including but not limited to poker, dice, golf, sports betting, blackjack, and craps.” He even goes so far as to inquire whether Kavanaugh “ever sought treatment for a gambling addiction.
The second and, perhaps, more fundamental area of inquiry has to do with Kavanaugh’s views on executive power. In his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh gave not an ounce of reassurance to any senator concerned about executive power. It’s a measure of the degree to which the White House assumes all Republican votes are locked up that Kavanaugh brushed off questions not only from Democrats, but from independent-minded Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).
Washington Post, Kavanaugh offers details on purchases of Nationals tickets that led to thousands in debt, Seung Min Kim, Sept. 12, 2018. The Supreme Court nominee’s explanation is part of written responses to questions posed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Brett M. Kavanaugh also fielded questions about same-sex marriage and the Mueller investigation.
HuffPost, Pressure Mounts On Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski To Block Brett Kavanaugh, Laura Bassett, Sept. 12, 2018. The Maine and Alaska Republicans are feeling the heat in their home states ahead of Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), right, has received 3,000 coat hangers in the mail. Women dressed as handmaids in red robes and bonnets have shown up at her home in Maine to protest. Activists have raised over $1 million for her 2020 challenger should she vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh.
And the pressure continues to mount on Collins and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the Senate’s two potential swing votes, in the final days before a decision on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick ― a conservative judge who could potentially gut abortion rights in the United States.
Planned Parenthood launched a six-figure cable and digital ad campaign in Maine on Wednesday that features a focus group of independent female voters who strongly want Collins to oppose Kavanaugh. NARAL Pro-Choice America put an additional $500,000 into its $260,000 ad campaign in Maine this week, which will run on TV and online in Maine until the vote.
Collins and Murkowski both claim to support abortion rights, and have bucked their party before to protect federal funding grants to Planned Parenthood. Both senators claim to be undecided on Kavanaugh. Collins has said she’s impervious to outside political pressure.
Health / E-Cigarettes
New York Times, F.D.A. Cracks Down on Juul and E-Cigarette Retailers, Sheila Kaplan, Sept. 12, 2018. Warning that teenage use of electronic cigarettes has reached “an epidemic proportion,” the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday gave Juul Labs and four other makers of popular vaping devices 60 days to prove they can keep them away from minors. If they fail, the agency said, it may take the flavored products off the market.
New York Times, ‘60 Minutes’ Producer Jeff Fager Is Ousted at CBS, John Koblin and Michael M. Grynbaum, Sept. 12, 2018. Jeff Fager, the longtime executive producer of “60 Minutes” on CBS, was fired on Wednesday for sending a bullying text message to one of the network’s reporters, just days after Leslie Moonves stepped down as the company’s chief executive following numerous allegations of sexual misconduct.
In recent articles in The New Yorker and The Washington Post, Mr. Fager had been accused of touching women at company parties in ways that made them feel uncomfortable and fostering a culture of harassment at “60 Minutes.”
Mr. Fager has previously denied any wrongdoing, and CBS has enlisted two law firms to investigate the allegations and the workplace culture at CBS.
David Rhodes, the president of CBS News, told staff in an email that Mr. Fager’s departure was “not directly related to the allegations surfaced in press reports, which continue to be investigated independently.” It would be hard to overstate Mr. Fager’s power inside CBS’s news division or the significance of his departure to a network already reeling from the exit of its longtime leader.
Mr. Fager is only the second executive producer in the half-century history of “60 Minutes,” a show that despite dwindling audiences for news programs has remained among the highest-rated series on network television. Although Mr. Fager was not the titular head of CBS News, he was given carte blanche to run his fief as he saw fit.
Washington Post, Liquor board declines to act on Trump’s liquor license after residents complain about his character, Rachel Chason, Sept. 12, 2018. An effort by a group of D.C. residents to strip Trump International Hotel of its liquor license by arguing its owner — the president — is not of “good character” hit a roadblock Wednesday when the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control Board declined to review the case.
The board cited a technicality, noting that the character of liquor license owners is not reviewed at will, but when liquor licenses are issued, transferred or renewed. The five board members present Wednesday did not rule on the substance of the complaint, which suggests that President Trump is violating the D.C. law that states license applicants must be of “good character and generally fit for the responsibilities of licensure.”
“It is important to note that all hotel liquor license owners in the District of Columbia are required to apply for a renewal of their license by March 31, 2019,” Chair Donovan Anderson said following his decision, opening the possibility that the residents could file their complaint again next year.
But Joshua Levy, the attorney who filed the complaint on behalf of seven residents — three ministers, two retired judges and two rabbis — said the group does not plan to wait until next year and will submit a filing asking the board to reconsider its decision.
“The facts are so compelling right now,” Levy said after the ruling. “The board has a duty to act right now.”
Anderson said the board conducted a regulatory inspection of the Trump hotel following the complaint and found one alleged sale to a minor, which Anderson said does not have bearing on the good character complaint but will be reviewed by the board later this month.
The group behind the complaint, called “Make Integrity Great Again,” is backed by Jerry Hirsch, an Arizona Republican who practiced law and ran real estate and technology companies before becoming a philanthropist.
Hirsch said in a statement Wednesday that he found it puzzling that the board decided the complaint on a technicality.
New York Times, Judge Dismisses Federal Suit Accusing Firm of Defrauding 9/11 Responders, Matthew Goldstein, Sept. 12, 2018. A day after the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit, brought by the New York State attorney general’s office, that accused a financial firm of defrauding firefighters and others involved in the response out of funds meant to compensate them for resulting injuries and illnesses.
The attorney general must instead use state courts to pursue any claims it has against the financial firm, RD Legal Funding, Judge Loretta A. Preska of Federal District Court in Manhattan said Wednesday.
Climate Change Warning
New York Times, U.N. Chief Warns of a Dangerous Tipping Point on Climate Change, Somini Sengupta, Sept. 11, 2018 (print edition). Warning of the risks of “runaway” global warming, the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, on Monday called on global leaders to rein in climate change faster.
“If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change,” Mr. Guterres, shown in a file photo, said at United Nations headquarters in New York.
New York Times, Trump Administration Wants to Make It Easier to Release Methane Into Air, Coral Davenport, Sept. 11, 2018 (print edition). In a victory for energy companies, the administration plans to roll back rules covering methane leaks and the “flaring,” or burning, of the potent greenhouse gas. The new rules follow two regulatory rollbacks this year that, taken together, represent the foundation of the United States’ effort to rein in global warming.
U.S. Hurricane Disaster Expected
Washington Post, Hurricane watches issued as Florence churns toward Carolinas, Jason Samenow and Brian McNoldy, Sept. 11, 2018. The National Hurricane Center predicts the “extremely dangerous” storm could strengthen to nearly Category 5 intensity. More than 1.5 million people have already been ordered to evacuate.
U.S. Attacks International Justice System
Washington Post, Analysis: The White House’s new attack on the international system, Ishaan Tharoor, Sept. 11, 2018 (print edition). National security adviser John Bolton, above, launched a scathing attack on the International Criminal Court, pouring scorn on it for seeking to exercise “supranational” powers over the United States while mocking it as a toothless instrument of justice.
In his first major policy address since joining the White House in April, national security adviser John Bolton, right, offered a particularly aggressive demonstration of President Trump’s “America First” agenda. He threatened the International Criminal Court, a U.N.-mandated body based in The Hague, with punitive measures should it pursue an investigation into alleged U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan. He warned that the United States would ban ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the country, sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system and punish any company or government that complies with an ICC investigation into Americans.
In effect, Bolton declared that these officials — including respected jurists and rights activists — could receive the same treatment as certain Kremlin-linked oligarchs or shadowy financiers of extremist groups.
Washington Post, Trump administration orders closure of PLO office in Washington, Karen DeYoung and Loveday Morris, Sept. 11, 2018 (print edition). The Trump administration on Monday ordered the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, saying that the PLO “has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”
The closure was announced by the State Department shortly before White House national security adviser John Bolton, in his first major policy speech, threatened U.S. punishment for individuals and countries that cooperate with the International Criminal Court, where the Palestinians have lodged complaints against Israel.
“The United States supports a direct and robust peace process,” Bolton said, “and we will not allow the ICC, or any other organization, to constrain Israel’s right to self-defense.”
The PLO is recognized by most of the world as the “legitimate representative” of Palestinians. Its office in Washington — while not recognized as an embassy, since there is no recognition of a Palestinian state — is one of the few Palestinian vehicles for communication with the levers of U.S. power. It has survived repeated political and legislative calls to shut it down, across decades of unsuccessful U.S. efforts to forge a peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis.
U.S, U.K. Efforts Benefiting Al Qaeda, ISIS?
Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, Why Are We Siding With al-Qaeda? Ron Paul (right, a retired Republican congressman representing a Texas district), Sept. 10, 2018. Last week, I urged the Secretary of State and National Security Advisor to stop protecting al-Qaeda in Syria by demanding that the Syrian government leave Idlib under al-Qaeda control.
While it may seem hard to believe that the US government is helping al-Qaeda in Syria, it’s not as strange as it may seem: our interventionist foreign policy increasingly requires Washington to partner up with “bad guys” in pursuit of its dangerous and aggressive foreign policy goals.
Does the Trump Administration actually support al-Qaeda and ISIS? Of course not. But the “experts” who run Trump’s foreign policy have determined that a de facto alliance with these two extremist groups is for the time being necessary to facilitate the more long-term goals in the Middle East. And what are those goals? Regime change for Iran.
Let’s have a look at the areas where the US is turning a blind eye to al-Qaeda and ISIS.
Trump Statement On 9/11
Washington Post, Trump pays tribute to the ‘immortal’ heroes of Flight 93, David Nakamura and John Wagner, Sept. 11, 2018. A solemn President Trump paid tribute here Tuesday to the late passengers of Flight 93, who on Sept. 11, 2001, disrupted the plan of terrorists to crash one of their hijacked planes into the U.S. Capitol. Trump said the fallen had “joined the immortal ranks of American heroes.”
American Society of News Editors (ASNE), ASNE, APME approve merger plan to become News Leaders Association, Staff report, Sept. 11, 2018. At this pivotal moment for journalism and freedom of the press, two of the most significant organizations in journalism have voted to merge and become one voice for the industry.
The formation of the News Leaders Association, combining the American Society of News Editors and Associated Press Media Editors, was approved by the two groups’ members during their joint News Leadership Conference in Austin.
ASNE and APME will continue to work jointly on major projects during the coming year as legal steps toward the merger are completed. NLA is expected to be in place by the 2019 News Leadership Conference Sept. 9-10 in New Orleans.
“These are challenging times for our business and our country,” said Nancy Barnes, incoming president of ASNE for 2018-19. “We believe joining our two organizations will only strengthen our ability, as journalism leaders, to stand up for the principles we hold dear.”
“Editors’ jobs have never been more challenging, and we believe that our groups are stronger together as we work to be a valuable resource for leaders at news organizations of all sizes,” said APME President Angie Muhs.
Note: Justice Integrity Project Editor/Director Andrew Kreig, a longtime journalist and attorney, is a member of ASNE and voted to approved the merger.
Supreme Court Battle
New York Times, Opinion: The Handmaid’s Court, Michelle Goldberg, right, Sept. 10, 2018. Jane Doe may have been the first pregnant girl Brett Kavanaugh ruled against. But she won’t be the last.
Shortly after his inauguration, Donald Trump, uniquely attentive to his debt to the religious right, appointed the anti-abortion activist E. Scott Lloyd to head the Office of Refugee Resettlement, despite Lloyd’s lack of relevant experience. The position gave Lloyd authority over unaccompanied minors caught crossing into the United States, authority Lloyd exploited to try to stop pregnant migrants from getting abortions.
Last year, thanks to Lloyd’s interference, a 17-year-old from Central America had to wage a legal battle to end her pregnancy. Known in court filings as Jane Doe, the girl learned she was pregnant while in custody in Texas, and was adamant that she wanted an abortion.
Garza v. Hargan was the only major abortion-rights case Kavanaugh ever ruled on. His handling of it offers a clue about what’s in store for American women if he’s confirmed to the Supreme Court. No one knows whether Kavanaugh would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade outright or simply gut it. But even on a lower court, Kavanaugh put arbitrary obstacles in the way of someone desperate to end her pregnancy. Thanks to Trump, he may soon be in a position to do the same to millions of others.
SCOTUSblog, Tuesday round-up, Edith Roberts, Sept. 11, 2018 (See SCOTUSblog for hotlinks). Commentators continue to weigh in on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in the wake of Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearing last week. In an op-ed for Central Maine, Kavanaugh’s former White House colleague Sarah Day praises him as “a thoughtful leader [and] a champion of others.” For The Yale Daily News, Adelaide Feibel writes that “a few select Yalies had the chance [last week] to voice their opinions of Kavanaugh on a grand stage, before the Senate and the nation.”
Lisa Keen argues at Keen News Service that Kavanaugh’s testimony “did nothing to quell concerns in the LGBT community that Kavanaugh is an ultra-conservative, maybe even anti-LGBT, jurist who will almost certainly give the Supreme Court’s existing four conservative justices the fifth vote they need to vote against the equal rights interests of LGBT people.”
Michael Tomasky writes in an op-ed for The New York Times that lobbying red-state Democratic senators up for re-election “to vote no … [is] a waste of … time and money.” In an op-ed for The Washington Post, E.J. Dionne contends that “[c]onservatives are willing to bend and break the rules, violate decorum and tradition, hide information and push Judge Kavanaugh through at breakneck speed” because “[t]hey want a Supreme Court that will achieve their policy objectives — on regulation, access to the ballot, social issues, the influence of money in politics and the role of corporations in our national life — no matter what citizens might prefer in the future.”
Washington Post, Hollywood’s new hobby: Boosting House candidates to put a check on Trump, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Sept. 11, 2018 (print edition). When they’re not pitching pilots to studios, screenwriters are piling into Mercedes-brand buses to knock on voters’ doors for House races in California, Nevada and Arizona. The fervor for this year’s midterm elections rivals that of recent presidential campaigns, according to Democratic donors and strategists.
People who work in the television, movie and music industry in the Los Angeles metro area have given $2.4 million to House candidate committees so far this election, with the vast majority going to support Democrats, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. That is the largest sum from these donors to House Democratic campaigns since at least 2008, and it’s nearly $1 million more than they gave for the 2016 elections.
Roll Call, What 39,000 Words in 15 Profiles Didn’t Tell You About Beto O’Rourke, Nathan L. Gonzales, Sept. 11, 2018. El Paso politician has had a long rise to a position of national prominence.
Politico, Koch group loses donor secrecy fight at appeals court, Josh Gerstein, Sept. 11, 2018. A nonprofit group founded by conservative political megadonors Charles and David Koch must disclose its largest givers to law enforcement authorities in California, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The Americans for Prosperity Foundation had argued that the state’s rules requiring filing of the donor list violate the First Amendment by discouraging individuals from giving and by exposing them to threats and harassment.
Washington Post, Stormy Daniels’s lawyer fires back at attempts to dismiss her case against Trump, Elise Viebeck, Sept. 11, 2018 (print edition). The lawyer for adult-film actress Stormy Daniels argued Monday that her lawsuit over a 2016 nondisclosure agreement must be allowed to proceed in federal court because neither President Trump nor his former personal attorney has faced “any true consequences or a meaningful inquiry into the truth” in the case.
In a new court filing, Michael Avenatti, right, charged that recent attempts by Trump and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to invalidate the lawsuit from Daniels are designed to protect the defendants from having to testify under oath about hush-money payments to women in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.
Washington Post, Donald Trump Jr. says his father has fewer people he can trust after anonymous op-ed, John Wagner, Sept. 11, 2018. The president’s eldest son said he believes the op-ed was written by a “low-level person” and said that the Justice Department should investigate the author.
Ethics In Banking
New York Times, A Top Goldman Banker Raised Ethics Concerns. Then He Was Gone, Emily Flitter, Kate Kelly and David Enrich, Sept. 11, 2018. A senior banker called Goldman Sachs’s whistle-blower hotline, a rare dissent by a partner at the firm. His superiors, including the next chief executive, told him to relax.
By the tight-lipped standards of Goldman Sachs, the phone call from one of the firm’s most senior investment bankers was explosive.
James C. Katzman, a Goldman partner and the leader of its West Coast mergers-and-acquisitions practice, dialed the bank’s whistle-blower hotline in 2014 to complain about what he regarded as a range of unethical practices, according to accounts by people close to Mr. Katzman, which a Goldman spokesman confirmed. His grievances included an effort by Goldman to hire a customer’s child and colleagues’ repeated attempts to obtain and then share confidential client information.
Mr. Katzman expected lawyers at the firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, which monitored the hotline, to investigate his allegations and share them with independent members of Goldman’s board of directors, the people close to Mr. Katzman said.
The complaints were an extraordinary example of a senior employee’s taking on what he perceived to be corporate wrongdoing at an elite Wall Street bank. But they were never independently investigated or fully relayed to the Goldman board.
#MeToo Departure From CBS
CNBC, Leslie Moonves will get ‘zip’ from CBS exit package, veteran media analyst predicts, Berkeley Lovelace Jr., Sept. 10, 2018. Departing CBS CEO Leslie Moonves could walk away from the media empire empty-handed, veteran media analyst Porter Bibb predicted Monday. Bibb, a tech and media analyst with more than 40 years of experience on Wall Street, said Moonves will not receive the $100 million exit package the board is considering if allegations reported by journalist Ronan Farrow in Sunday’s New Yorker article and another in July turn out to be true.
The second New Yorker article on Sunday contained allegations by six more women. Moonves denied the accusations and characterized his relationships with some of the women as consensual. “He’s denying [the allegations] strongly, and I think he’s going to end up getting zip,” the managing partner at Mediatech Capital Partners said in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
Supreme Court Battle
Brett Judge Brett Kavanaugh faced the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, with former clerk and adviser Zina Bash at right behind him. Photo credit: C-SPAN / YouTube
WhoWhatWhy, The Kavanaugh Hearing: Beyond the Soundbites, Celia Wexler, Sept. 10, 2018. WhoWhatWhy’s take on these incredible and historic four days. Unlike other news outlets, we offer a comprehensive story. We did not try to do this in incremental pieces, or by referring you to videos. It captures, as best we can, some of the major issues on which Kavanaugh’s vote will make a difference. And it helps you understand Kavanaugh the man. What drives this ultra-conservative judge? How does he make his decisions? What he demonstrated during the hearings is a coldness that does not bode well for the republic.
This is a man who can advocate for female law clerks, but cannot — or will not — understand the pain of a teenaged undocumented immigrant in her fourth month of pregnancy; who says he tutors students from low-income neighborhoods, but does not understand the destructive role that guns play in their world; who can espouse Catholic social-justice teaching, but sees no disconnect in gutting regulations that protect the public’s health and safety.
In the four days senators considered Brett Kavanaugh’s qualifications to be the next Supreme Court justice, Democrats went through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance or, rather, resignation.
Kavanaugh (shown with his family and President Trump in a White House photo) would replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court’s swing vote, a conservative who sometimes sided with his more liberal colleagues on the bench.
Kavanaugh would join the court at a time when the third branch of government — the judiciary — never seemed more important. “Fears of authoritarian rule are rampant in this country,” said Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) because of concerns about “a president willing to walk away from rule of law.”
Washington Post, Opinion: The Kavanaugh hustle, E.J. Dionne Jr., Sept. 10, 2018 (print edition). While Trump is destroying the honor and reputation of the presidency, Senate Republicans are doing all they can to destroy the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.
Conservatives are willing to bend and break the rules, violate decorum and tradition, hide information and push Judge Kavanaugh through at breakneck speed. They want a Supreme Court that will achieve their policy objectives — on regulation, access to the ballot, social issues, the influence of money in politics and the role of corporations in our national life — no matter what citizens might prefer in the future.
SCOTUSBlog, Monday round-up, Edith Roberts, Sept. 10, 2018 (visit SCOTUSblog, edited by Edith Roberts, for hotlinks to articles cited below). On Friday, the Senate Judiciary Committee wrapped up its four-day hearing on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court with a day of testimony from witnesses, including former law clerks to Kavanaugh, two former solicitors general, a survivor of the Parkland school shooting, and John Dean, President Richard Nixon’s White House counsel during Watergate.
We live-blogged the session, and Jon Levitan rounded up early coverage and commentary for this blog. Amy Howe recaps the highlights of the day’s proceedings in a podcast at Howe on the Court; a Daily Journal podcast also has a rundown.
At NPR, Nina Totenberg reports that throughout the hearing, “President Trump’s pick for the high court successfully parried questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Democratic complaints that they had seen just 10 percent of his government record didn’t seem to raise much public ire.” For The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Seung Min Kim report that “by the close of the four-day hearings, some Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee seemed resigned to Kavanaugh’s confirmation.”
For The New York Times, Adam Liptak observes that “Judge Kavanaugh must have studied earlier confirmation hearings carefully, as he had absorbed all of their key lessons: Say nothing, say it at great length, and then say it again.”
Russian Spy Claims
Washington Post, Judge orders alleged Russian agent Maria Butina to remain in jail: ‘There is a very real risk of flight,’ Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 10, 2018. The judge also imposed a gag order after slamming prosecutors for their mistaken claim that Butina traded sex for access, then criticizing the defense for repeated public statements that the judge said could bias potential jurors.
New York Times, A Spy Story: Sergei Skripal Was a Little Fish. He Had a Big Enemy, Michael Schwirtz and Ellen Barry, Sept. 9, 2018. Sergei V. Skripal was a little fish. This is how British officials now describe Mr. Skripal, a Russian intelligence officer they recruited as a spy in the mid-1990s. When the Russians caught Mr. Skripal, they saw him that way, too, granting him a reduced sentence. So did the Americans: The intelligence chief who orchestrated his release to the West in 2010 had never heard of him when he was included in a spy swap with Moscow.
9/11 Causation Research Update
Architects & Engineers For 9/11 Truth, WTC 7 Evaluation Nearing the Finish Line: An Interview with Dr. Leroy Hulsey, Andy Steele, Sept. 10, 2018 (61:56 min. podcast). Editor’s Note: On our most recent episode of 9/11 Free Fall, Dr. Leroy Hulsey joined host Andy Steele to update listeners on the WTC 7 study at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), which is nearing completion. We are pleased to make this special episode of 9/11 Free Fall available as a transcribed interview to go along with the podcast. Stay tuned for the draft report of the UAF WTC 7 study in the coming months!
Andy Steele (AS): Dr. Leroy Hulsey got a BS in civil engineering I 1965 from the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy and an MS in civil engineering from the University of Missouri at Rolla in 1966. He did post-graduate work at the University of Illinois at the Ph.D. level from 1968 to 1971, and in 1976 he got his Ph.D. in structural engineering from the University of Missouri at Rolla. He has owned and run three high-tech engineering research corporations and has extensive teaching and research experience. Currently he’s the chair of the civil engineering and environmental engineering department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
We’re going to be talking about the World Trade Center 7 Study, giving an important update to our audience. He’s here to do that. First, Dr. Hulsey, I just want to welcome you back to 9/11 Free Fall.
Leroy Hulsey (LH): Thank you. I appreciate that.
AS: Before we get started, for newcomers, people who may not be aware of who you are and what the study is about, briefly tell us more about yourself and why you decided to undertake this study.
LH: One of the members of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth contacted me. He is originally from the East Coast and is now located in Anchorage. He was looking for a person who could actually conduct research. So he made contact with me. That was several years ago. I turned the opportunity down to do the research work. The approach was made again and I turned it down again. The approach was made again, and I put together an estimate of what I thought it would cost to do it. The dialogue began. At that point I decided I was old enough to not worry about whether there would be any consequences to this, so I went ahead and said, “Okay, I’ll do it.”
At the end of the day, I began the study for the sole purpose of bringing the truth to what had been done previously and try to explain how this building may have come down, or may not have—I may not be able to fully explain it, but we can certainly tell you what didn’t happen. That’s what my goals have been from the very beginning—to at least establish that pattern. Right now we’re close to having everything completed.
AS: Please tell us what the study is, and also tell us what a finite element analysis is, exactly, for the layman.
U.S. Crime, Police: Dallas
New York Times, Dallas Officer Who Killed Man in His Own Home Says He Ignored Her Commands, Sarah Mervosh and Matthew Haag, Sept. 10, 2018. A Dallas police officer who fatally shot her neighbor in his apartment, claiming she mistook the unit for her own, told the authorities that the door was already ajar when she entered and that she shot him after he ignored verbal commands, according to court records released on Monday.
The officer, Amber R. Guyger, 30, who has been charged with manslaughter, could face additional charges in a case that has led to accusations that the officer received preferential treatment and debate about whether race may have played a role in the deadly encounter between a white police officer and a black man in his home.
On Monday, the Dallas County district attorney, Faith Johnson, insisted that the investigation into the death of the neighbor, Botham Shem Jean, 26, had not ended and that her office could seek charges “including anything from murder to manslaughter.”
New Yorker, As Leslie Moonves Negotiates His Exit from CBS, Six Women Raise New Assault and Harassment Claims, Ronan Farrow (below right), Sept. 9, 2018. Members of the board of the CBS Corporation are negotiating with the company’s chairman and C.E.O., Leslie Moonves, about his departure. Sources familiar with the board’s activities said the discussions about Moonves stepping down began several weeks ago, after an article published in the The New Yorker detailed allegations by six women that the media executive had sexually harassed them, and revealed complaints by dozens of others that the culture in some parts of the company tolerated sexual misconduct. Since then, the board has selected outside counsel to lead an investigation into the claims.
As the negotiations continue and shareholders and advocacy groups accuse the board of failing to hold Moonves accountable, new allegations are emerging.
Six additional women are now accusing Moonves of sexual harassment or assault in incidents that took place between the nineteen-eighties and the early two-thousands. They include claims that Moonves forced them to perform oral sex on him, that he exposed himself to them without their consent, and that he used physical violence and intimidation against them. A number of the women also said that Moonves retaliated after they rebuffed him, damaging their careers. Similar frustrations about perceived inaction have prompted another woman to raise a claim of misconduct against Jeff Fager, the executive producer of “60 Minutes,” who previously reported to Moonves as the chairman of CBS News.
Update: Three hours after the publication of this story, CNN reported that Moonves would step down from his position at CBS. Later the same day, CBS announced that Moonves had left the company and would not receive any of his exit compensation, pending the results of the independent investigation into the allegations. The company named six new members of its board of directors and said it would donate $20 million to organizations that support the #MeToo movement and workplace equality for women. The donation will be deducted from any severance payments that may be due to Moonves.
Adweek, Embattled CBS CEO Les Moonves Is Officially Departing the Company After 23 Years, Jason Lynch, Sept. 9, 2018. He’ll leave immediately; COO Joseph Ianniello will step in as interim CEO. What does CBS look like without its über-confident longtime leader Les Moonves? We’re about to find out.
Washington Post, Leslie Moonves out as head of CBS as sexual misconduct claims multiply, Steven Zeitchik, Alex Horton and Sarah Ellison, Sept. 10, 2018. Moonves, once regarded as one of the country’s most respected media titans, fell from his perch after a dozen women alleged sexual misconduct, harassment and retaliation.
Moonves, right, had seemed bulletproof as of just six weeks ago, regarded as one of the entertainment world’s most sterling executives. But sexual-misconduct allegations by six women in The New Yorker in July led to the board hiring outside lawyers to conduct an investigation into Moonves and activists to call for his removal. On the magazine’s website Sunday, an additional six women alleged behavior that includes sexual misconduct, harassment and retaliation.
As part of the agreement, CBS and Shari Redstone’s controlling shareholder National Amusements will end their lawsuit as Redstone agrees not to merge the broadcaster with Viacom for at least two years. That move gives Moonves, right, a victory in that arena; he sought to keep CBS operating as a separate concern.
The allegations posted by The New Yorker Sunday include forced oral sex, Moonves exposing himself without consent and the use of physical violence and intimidation to silence the women. The women in Sunday’s report echoed descriptions of a culture of downplaying accusations and promoting men even after the company settled allegations against them.
World News: Palestine
Washington Post, Palestinians vow not to bend to ‘vicious blackmail’ as Trump administration plans to close office, Loveday Morris, Sept. 10, 2018. U.S. national security adviser John Bolton is expected to announce the move today. He also will threaten to impose sanctions against the International Criminal Court if it proceeds with investigations against the United States or Israel, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Washington Post, GOP candidate for Fla. governor spoke at racially charged events, Beth Reinhard and Emma Brown, Sept. 10, 2018 (print edition). Rep. Ron DeSantis, right, spoke four times at conferences organized by a conservative activist who has said that African Americans owe their freedom to white people.
Press Freedom: China
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Opinion, China: RSF press freedom laureate falls victim to violence in detention again, Staff report, Sept. 10, 2018. RSF condemns the latest violence inflicted by Chinese officials on Huang Qi, 55, the RSF Press Freedom Prize laureate who has been detained for almost two years without trial despite his critical health condition.
His trial, scheduled for June 20, 2018, was canceled without a further date. Last Friday, in one of the rare visits, permitted, Huang’s lawyer Liu Zhengqing discovered his client’s deteriorating health and weight loss. Huang, refusing to plead guilty despite pressure, had suffered 15 interrogations just in the month of August and complained of being hit by prosecutor Du Peng, as the apparent bruises on his chest indicate.
Huang Qi, the winner of the 2004 RSF prize, founder of civil-rights information website 64 Tianwang and winner of the 2016 RSF Press Freedom Prize, was arrested on October 23, 2016, for “divulging state secrets abroad,” punishable by death penalty. The journalist suffers from critical liver and kidney diseases as a result of eight years in jail and labor camp.
Probe of White House
Axios Sneak Peek, Scoop: Inside Trump’s biggest hire, Jonathan Swan, Sept. 9, 2018. President Trump was bluffing when he tweeted that he knows the successor to White House counsel Don McGahn, and instead he is vacillating about new legal leaders as he girds for open warfare with Democrats and Robert Mueller. The newest name on the president’s mind: Fannie Mae general counsel Brian Brooks, two sources with direct knowledge tell me.
Trump wants somebody who’ll be unquestioningly loyal — who’ll be “his guy” and defend him on TV, said a source familiar with his thinking. (McGahn, right, fulfills neither criteria: He’s independent-minded, TV-shy and makes no effort to disguise his contempt for Jared and Ivanka.)
Why it matters: This is, by far, Trump’s most important current staffing decision. The climax of Mueller’s probe lies ahead. And the White House faces the possibility of impeachment proceedings — and certainty of endless subpoenas and investigations — if Democrats win the House in November.
Emmet Flood, the White House attorney dealing with Mueller’s investigation, looked set to take the job. But Axios has learned that Trump is now seriously considering Brooks, a low-profile member of Washington’s high-powered legal community. Flood is still very much in contention, along with Washington litigator Pat Cipollone, according to sources involved in the process.
No decision is likely for a few weeks, one of those sources said. Meanwhile, the White House Counsel’s office is down to bare bones. McGahn is leaving soon, almost all of his deputies have departed and the office is nowhere near equipped for the storm that’s likely coming.
#MeToo Departure At CBS
Adweek, Embattled CBS CEO Les Moonves Is Officially Departing the Company After 23 Years, Jason Lynch, Sept. 9, 2018. He’ll leave immediately; COO Joseph Ianniello will step in as interim CEO. What does CBS look like without its über-confident longtime leader Les Moonves? We’re about to find out.
Syrian War Against Rebels
Al Masdar News (AMN), Breaking: Massive Turkish Army convoy enters Idlib with large arsenal of weapons, Leith Aboufadel, Sept. 9, 2018. A massive Turkish military convoy entered the Idlib Governorate from the Hatay Province, tonight, opposition activists reported.
According to the Syrian opposition activists, the Turkish military convoy consisted of more than 300 vehicles, including tanks, MLRS launchers, and BMPs.
The Turkish military convoy reportedly entered Syria through the Kafr Losen Crossing; it was heading towards the rebel front-lines in the Idlib and Hama governorates.
Some opposition activists have claimed that the Turkish military was heading to the Idlib Governorate with manpads, which, if true, would mean that they are preparing to down any Syrian warplane flying over their positions. Turkey appears to not be backing down from the Syrian government forces, despite the fact that the latter is backed by Ankara’s allies: Iran and Russia.
Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey ‘will not allow fait accompli in Idlib,’ says Erdoğan, Vahap Munyar, Sept. 9, 2018. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, shown above with fellow Turkish leaders upon their return from Iran to Turkey, said Turkey will not allow any fait accompli in the Syrian province of Idlib, vowing to continue intense diplomacy with Russia and Iran for the prevention of a large-scale military operation by the Syrian army in his remarks following a three-way summit in Tehran on Sept. 7.
“We are in favor of a political solution and not a military one in Syria. For this, protecting Syria’s territorial integrity, eliminating terrorists and not allowing fait accompli are a must. We should not allow the seven-year-old Syrian war to produce bigger humanitarian trajedies. We, as three guarantor countries, have emphasized that we should work on this in a sensitive manner,” Erdoğan told journalists on board during his return from Iran over the weekend.
Erdoğan, (at right below), Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, shown below in an official photo, attended the leaders’ summit on Syria.
But a joint communiqué did not specifically call the Syrian government to cancel a military operation into the rebel-held Idlib province. Turkey said a full-scale operation without separating jihadists from civilians would cause a human tragedy in this enclave where 3.5 million people reside.
On the United States’ position in regards to Idlib, Erdoğan stressed Turkey’s position with its ally does not fully overlap on this issue. The U.S. is only watching the developments in Syria and is not keeping its word, Erdoğan said, blaming Washington for not pushing the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij despite a bilateral deal.
“They said 90 days but it is over. Now, they are trying to inject terrorists back there. They did the same with Deir ez-Zor. Now, they are supporting the PYD [Democratic Union Party]/YPG there. How? With oil. The terrorists have a significant amount of revenue. It is around $300 million but could be up to $700 million to $800 when they consider oil products. I have discussed these figures with Mr. Putin. He was also stunned,” Erdoğan said.
Ruptly, Turkey: Military convoy heads towards border with Syria’s Idlib Governorate — reports, Sept. 9, 2018.
GOP Vote Suppression / Rigging Plans?
Politico, RNC asks court to keep recount plan for 2020 secret, Josh Gerstein, Sept. 9, 2018. The Republican National Committee is pressing to keep secret a memo detailing how the Trump campaign could respond if President Donald Trump’s re-election bid in 2020 turns out to be a squeaker.
Last week, RNC lawyers asked a federal judge in New Jersey to order that the so-called “recount memo” drafted in 2016 be kept under wraps until after the 2020 election because of the role it could play in that contest.
“The RNC requests protection of the document under seal only until after the conclusion of the next presidential election on November 3, 2020,” RNC attorneys Bobby Burchfield and Matt Leland wrote. “The memorandum was circulated during the 2016 election, but contains several plans that are likely to be used in or may bear upon future elections. This includes the election for President of the United States in 2020.”
The document was turned over to the Democratic National Committee as part of long-running litigation over the GOP’s alleged use of so-called “ballot security” measures to discourage minority voting.
OpEdNews, Book review: Jonathan Simon’s “Code Red: Computerized Elections and the War on American Democracy,” Marta Steele (author and election fraud expert), Sept. 9, 2018. The 2018 edition of Jonathan Simon’s Code Red is not only knowledgeable, insightful, and hugely educational. It is also a page turner. I have penciled in notes on nearly every page.
Moreover, the content is at times abstruse but always accessible. One more praise point: Simon (shown at right) is a master stylist — legible and at the same time bordering on literary with the wealth of imagery he supplies from a vast array of disciplines.
“The X-factor has been the electronic manipulation of vote-counts,” and the solution is to use hand-counted paper ballots with a rigorous and conscientious chain of custody and risk-limiting audits (RLA)(even a newly released report by the National Academies supports this). The public is urged not only to witness all stages of the election process except the voter making their choice in privacy and to volunteer to hand-count “four hours per lifetime”–there are 80 million of us eligible, Simon counts. This civic duty he calls “far less onerous than jury duty.”
This suggestion strikes the opposition as a “ludicrous Luddite nonstarter.” It can be seen as reactionary but also as democratic as we can get. Carefully audited HCPB is used very successfully in Columbia County, New York under the direction of a Republican and a Democratic commissioner, Jason Nastke and Virginia Martin, respectively.
And, contrary to the view that such a system is suitable for small towns only, if it works in that venue, it can work anywhere with a committed citizenry. It’s been done successfully in Canada, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, France, Norway, and Ireland, Simon points out. Several of these countries tried faith-based voting (that is, paperless) and recycled it thereafter into other honest entities — I’m sure exemplary ones.
WhoWhatWhy, Opinion: Will the Real Voter Fraud Criminals Please Stand Up? Klaus Marre and DonkeyHotey, Sept. 9, 2018. With no evidence to support their belief, people like President Donald Trump and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach are arguing that, on a regular basis, millions of ineligible voters risk steep fines and prison (or deportation in the case of undocumented immigrants) to vote in places like California, where Trump got trounced by four million votes.
At the same time, state officials, most of them currently Republicans, are doing all they can to deny millions of voters a chance to make their voices heard or to be represented equally. They are facing no repercussions even when they get caught.
More U.S. Politics
New York Times, Obama Heads to Front Lines of Democrats’ Battle to Reclaim House, Adam Nagourney, Sept. 9, 2018 (print edition). Former President Barack Obama, on Day 2 of his challenge to President Trump, spoke at a rally in California, a central battleground for Democrats hoping to capture seven seats now held by Republicans.
Obama came to the front lines of the Democratic battle to take back Congress on Saturday, describing the coming election as a pivotal moment for a divided nation and a chance “to restore some sanity to our politics.”
Democratic U.S. Senate nominee for Texas Beto O’Rourke, left, and incumbent GOP Sen. Ted Crz (file photos)
New York Times, Top Trump Adviser Says Ted Cruz Could Lose Texas Senate Race, Alexander Burns and Kenneth P. Vogel, Sept. 9, 2018 (print edition). Mick Mulvaney, White House budget director, said on Saturday in New York that Democrats were mounting a “movement of hate.”
A pair of top Republicans acknowledged in a private meeting on Saturday that the party was battling serious vulnerabilities in the midterm elections, including what one described as widespread “hate” for President Trump, and raised the prospect that Senator Ted Cruz of Texas could lose his bid for re-election because he is not seen as “likable” enough.
The two Republican leaders, Mick Mulvaney, the federal budget director, and Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman, assured party officials and donors at a closed-door event in New York City that the right would ultimately turn back a purported “blue wave” in November. Mr. Mulvaney also questioned whether Democrats could marshal support from outside the left, criticizing them as a party defined solely by opposition to Mr. Trump.
But Mr. Mulvaney, right, and Ms. McDaniel also offered an unusually raw assessment of their own party’s strengths and weaknesses in the midterm elections. They pointed to the burning energy among Democratic voters and the dozens of open House seats, where Republican incumbents decided not to seek re-election, as fearsome obstacles to retaining control of Congress.
Their comments were captured in an audio recording that was obtained by The New York Times from a person who attended the party meeting.
Even as Mr. Mulvaney conceded that Mr. Trump’s personal unpopularity was a problem for the party, he predicted it would not ultimately be a decisive factor for most voters. He also alluded to Mr. Cruz, without mentioning his name, as a lawmaker who might lack the charm to win a contested race this year.
Mr. Cruz responded dismissively hours later, waving off Mr. Mulvaney as “some political guy in Washington.” Mr. Mulvaney, a former member of Congress from South Carolina, who was elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010, said Democrats had not marshaled a broad movement of opposition to Washington the way Republicans did that year. He argued that they lacked an issue to unify their cause, unlike Republicans eight years ago, who rallied in opposition to the Affordable Care Act.
Supreme Court Battle
Huffington Post, Lisa Murkowski’s Biggest Reason To Oppose Brett Kavanaugh May Not Be Abortion Rights, Jennifer Bendery, Sept. 9, 2018. Alaska Natives are urging the senator to vote no. She owes her re-election to them. For all the speculation about Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), below right, and whether she’ll vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, there is an issue beyond abortion rights perhaps weighing more heavily on her as she makes her decision: protections for Alaska Natives.
Advocates for Alaska Natives, who were crucial to Murkowski’s re-election in 2010, tell HuffPost they’ve been flooding her office all week and urging her to oppose Kavanaugh.
They’re raising concerns about his record on climate change, which is already causing real damage in Alaska. As a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Kavanaugh in 2017 held that the Environmental Protection Agency lacks the authority to regulate hydrofluorocarbons, chemicals linked to global warming.
They’re also unhappy with his record on voting rights. Kavanaugh voted in 2012 to uphold a South Carolina voter ID law that disenfranchised more than 80,000 minority registered voters.
The most pressing matter, however, is a case the Supreme Court is reviewing on Nov. 5 that could devastate Alaska Natives’ subsistence fishing rights. The case, Sturgeon v. Frost, raises questions about who has the authority to regulate water in national parks in the state ― the federal government or the state of Alaska. The case arose after Alaska resident John Sturgeon, who was on an annual moose-hunting trip, was riding a hovercraft on a river running through a national park when Park Service officials threatened to give him a citation. Sturgeon is arguing that his ability to use his hovercraft in this scenario is about states’ rights and that federal authority should be eliminated.
Kavanaugh has previously ruled to limit federal power in cases before him. If he gets confirmed and votes with the other four right-leaning justices in favor of Sturgeon’s argument, it will destroy the way of life for tribal communities who rely on subsistence fishing in protected federal waters, some Alaska Native rights groups say.
Washington Post, Bob Woodward’s meticulous, frightening look inside the Trump White House, Jill Abramson, Sept. 9, 2018 (print edition). Jill Abramson, the former executive editor of the New York Times, is a columnist for the Guardian and senior lecturer in Harvard’s English department. Her book “Merchants of Truth: The Business of Facts and the Future of News” will be published in January.
It’s hard to imagine a more disturbing portrait of a president than the one Bob Woodward painted of Richard Nixon in his final days: paranoid, poisoned by power, pounding the carpet and talking to the portraits on the walls. But the early days of Donald Trump’s presidency, as recounted by Woodward in his new book, Fear, are strikingly similar and in some ways even more gut-wrenching. Then, as now, the country faced a crisis of leadership caused by a president’s fatal flaws and inability to function in the job.
In both Fear and “Te Final Days, which he co-authored with Carl Bernstein, Woodward shows how a federal criminal investigation clouds and then comes to obsess a president and paralyze the operations of the White House. At a moment when feverish talk of presidential impeachment dominates the political discourse, Fear is full of Nixonian echoes, including Trump’s childishly short attention span and refusal to read briefing papers. Nixon’s aides were instructed not to give him anything more complicated than a Reader’s Digest article.
Fear is an important book, not only because it raises serious questions about the president’s basic fitness for the office but also because of who the author is. Woodward’s dogged investigative reporting led to Nixon’s resignation. He has written or co-authored 18 books, 12 of them No. 1 bestsellers; broken other major stories as a reporter and associate editor of The Washington Post; and won two Pulitzer Prizes. His work has been factually unassailable. (His judgment is certainly not perfect, and he has been self-critical about his belief, based on reporting before the Iraq War, that there were weapons of mass destruction.)
In this 2005 frame from video, Donald Trump prepares for an appearance on ‘Days of Our Lives’ with actress Arianne Zucker. He is accompanied to the set by Access Hollywood host Billy Bush.
Washington Post, Who’s taping now? In Trump’s world, everything is recorded, Sarah Ellison, Sept. 9, 2018. There was a time when recordings were definitive. The release of key segments of Richard Nixon’s tape recordings of his conversations in the Oval Office were a decisive step in his road to impeachment. But there are important differences between then and now.
Video or it didn’t happen. That was almost the lesson nearly two years ago when The Washington Post published the “Access Hollywood” tape capturing Donald Trump on a hot mic bragging about grabbing women’s genitals.
Except the world learned something else. With Trump, the normal rules don’t apply: Even with a video, there are those who will still argue it didn’t really happen.
Washington Post, Trump to provide written answers under oath in Summer Zervos defamation lawsuit, Elise Viebeck, Sept. 9, 2018. The former contestant on “The Apprentice,” shown at right in a file photo, says President Trump groped her in 2007. Court rules require the statements to be sworn, meaning that false answers could open Trump to charges of perjury.
#MeTo Clergy Protest
Cardinal Donal Wuerl with Chief Justice John Roberts attending the 2015 Red Mass at St. Matthew’s Church in the District of Columbia (Justice Integrity Project photo)
Washington Post, Catholic clergyman calls on Wuerl to resign, says he’ll refuse to participate in Mass with him, Julie Zauzmer, Sept. 9, 2018. “I cannot, in good conscience, continue to assist you personally,” a prominent member of Washington’s Catholic clergy wrote to Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who faces calls to resign because of his handling of sexual abuse allegations while he was bishop of Pittsburgh.
A highly visible member of Washington’s Catholic clergy has made a dramatic declaration calling on Cardinal Donald Wuerl, shown at right, to resign, the latest blow to Washington’s embattled archbishop.
Deacon James Garcia, in his role as the master of ceremony at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in the District, typically stands beside Wuerl during almost every major liturgy of the year. But Garcia wrote in a letter to Wuerl, which the deacon published online Saturday, that he refuses to assist in any Mass led by Wuerl again. Since deacons vow obedience to their bishop, it is a bold gesture.
Global Civil Rights/Wrongs
New York Times, China Is Detaining Muslims in Vast Numbers. The Goal: ‘Transformation,’ Chris Buckley, Sept. 9, 2018 (print edition). This camp outside Hotan, an ancient oasis town in the Taklamakan Desert, is one of hundreds that China has built in the past few years. It is part of a campaign of breathtaking scale and ferocity that has swept up hundreds of thousands of Chinese Muslims for weeks or months of what critics describe as brainwashing, usually without criminal charges.
Though limited to China’s western region of Xinjiang, it is the country’s most sweeping internment program since the Mao era — and the focus of a growing chorus of international criticism.
China has sought for decades to restrict the practice of Islam and maintain an iron grip in Xinjiang, a region almost as big as Alaska where more than half the population of 24 million belongs to Muslim ethnic minority groups. Most are Uighurs, whose religion, language and culture, along with a history of independence movements and resistance to Chinese rule, have long unnerved Beijing.
Medical / Scientific Ethics
New York Times, Top Cancer Researcher Fails to Disclose Corporate Financial Ties in Major Research Journals, Charles Ornstein and Katie Thomas, Sept. 8, 2018. This article was reported and written in a collaboration with ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative journalism organization.
A senior official at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York has received millions of dollars in payments from companies involved in research. According to an analysis by The New York Times and ProPublica, Dr. José Baselga omitted his financial ties from dozens of articles in prestigious publications.
Media / Propaganda: Book Review
Washington Post, When Soviet and British spies toiled among the Washington press corps, Dina Temple-Raston, Sept. 9, 2018 (print edition). Dina Temple-Raston was NPR’s counterterrorism correspondent for a decade and is now working on a technology project for the network. She is also executive producer and host of the podcast “What Were You Thinking,” which looks at adolescent decision-making and how the developing brain may influence choices.
In hindsight, had I been a CIA operative posing as a journalist, I am confident my handlers would have told me to seem plausibly literate about the agency — to at least know where it was….
The story came to mind as I read Steven T. Usdin’s Bureau of Spies: The Secret Connections Between Espionage and Journalism in Washington. With his meticulous research and careful reporting, Usdin, who previously wrote a book about members of the Rosenberg spy ring titled “Engineering Communism,” pulls back the curtain on 80 years of propaganda and espionage emanating from the corner of 14th and F streets in Northwest Washington: the National Press Building.
In reading “Bureau of Spies,” I was frequently reminded of parallels to current events. Allen’s push for “Russian recognition” was reminiscent of Michael Flynn’s contacts with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, during the presidential transition in 2016, when Flynn was set to become President Trump’s national security adviser. Flynn apparently urged the Russians not to retaliate in response to new Obama administration sanctions, suggesting to Kislyak that the sanctions could be rolled back once Trump took office.
Stories about Soviet operations make good cloak-and-dagger reading, but Usdin’s reporting on the influence operations of the British provide the most surprise. In the spring of 1940, Usdin writes, “British intelligence operatives, including American journalists in the National Press Building, worked to elect candidates who favored U.S. intervention [in the war], defeat those who advocated neutrality, and silence or destroy the reputations of American isolationists they considered a menace to British security.”
Global Political Salesmen
Strategic Culture Foundation, Beware of the American Political Snake Oil Salesmen, Wayne Madsen, Sept. 9, 2018. With the US Foreign Service largely neutered under President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, there is virtually no one left at various US embassies in far-flung diplomatic posts to warn host governments about the modern version of American “snake oil salesmen” pitching their election assistance wares to unsuspecting candidates for office.
Take Vanguard Africa, a Washington, DC-based election campaign consultancy that seeks public contributions under the aegis of the Democratic Party’s fundraising organization, ActBlue. During a time when there are complaints in the United States of foreign interference in American elections, why is an outfit like Vanguard America involved in elections in The Gambia and Niger?
Another snake oil merchant, Avenue Strategies Global – co-founded by Trump 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and Barry Bennett, manager of current Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s presidential run – is also selling political advice abroad. The firm, which is situated on a corner across from the White House, recently signed a lucrative contract with former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
It is obvious that Avenue Strategies is helping Tymosheno position herself for a future presidential run in Ukraine. And it is quite convenient that the firm, which Lewandowski has departed, is close, both geographically and politically, to the offices of Trump administration key officials, including National Security Adviser John Bolton.
Trump White House
Author Bob Woodward, right, is interviewed by David Martin of CBS (CBS photo)
CBS News, Bob Woodward: “People better wake up to what’s going on” in the Oval Office, David Martin, Sept. 9, 2018. Watergate journalist Bob Woodward made headlines once again this past week, with his new book about the Trump White House, entitled Fear. This morning, in his first TV interview, Woodward paints a picture for our David Martin of an administration in disarray:
“You look at the operation of this White House and you have to say, ‘Let’s hope to God we don’t have a crisis,'” said Bob Woodward.
For the Washington Post reporter, that is the bottom line to all the jaw-dropping chaos and discord described in his new book, “Fear: Trump in the White House” (published by Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS).
“People who work for him are worried … that he will sign things or give orders that threaten the national security or the financial security of the country, or of the world,” Woodward said.
Aides like then-Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn and White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter literally stole documents off the president’s desk in the Oval Office, such as a letter terminating a trade agreement with South Korea, so that, Woodward explained, Mr. Trump could not sign them: “Because they realized that this would endanger the country.”
Martin asked, “How’d they get away with that?”
“[Trump] doesn’t remember. If it’s not on his desk, if it’s not immediately available for action, it goes away.”
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, shown in a witness stand at far right, with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) at left center.
Washington Post, Leahy says Kavanaugh was ‘not truthful’ about Democratic documents, Michael Kranish, Sept. 8, 2018 (print edition). The Vermont senator, right, said the Supreme Court nominee should have realized the material was “stolen.”
Washington Post, Ex-Nixon counsel warns of a court overly deferential to the president, Seung Min Kim, Sept. 8, 2018 (print edition). John Dean, the former Nixon White House counsel who played a crucial role in the Watergate scandal, testified Friday that confirming Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as a justice will lead to the “most presidential-powers friendly” Supreme Court in the modern age.
The sharp criticism was laid out in Dean’s remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the last day of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. More than two dozen witnesses testified in favor of and against President Trump’s Supreme Court pick.
Dean (shown in his pre-Watergate days as Nixon White House Counsel) argued in his testimony that conservatives have “slowly done a 180-degree turn” on executive power and that a Supreme Court that is overly deferential to the president is “deeply troubling,” with Republicans controlling both the House and Senate.
“Under Judge Kavanaugh’s recommendation, if a president shot someone in cold blood on Fifth Avenue, that president could not be prosecuted while in office,” Dean told senators, a reference to Trump’s oft-repeated campaign line that he could act that way and not lose support.
Washington Post, Opinion: First they separated families. Now they’re incarcerating children, Editorial Board, Sept. 8, 2018 (print edition). The Trump administration ripped more than 2,600 migrant children from their parents’ arms with no plan or procedures for reuniting them, resulting in some 500 children remaining effectively orphaned even today, five months after the fact. Now it proposes a new policy for jailing migrant children indefinitely, one that ensures they “are treated with dignity, respect and special concern for their particular vulnerability as minors.”
That assurance, along with its rich irony, is offered by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who has proposed the policy in a brazen attempt to escape the strictures of a two-decade-old court settlement forbidding the long-term incarceration of minors who cross the border seeking asylum in the United States.
Palmer Report, Opinion: We told you Brett Kavanaugh was in real legal trouble, Bill Palmer, Sept. 8, 2018. This week, Senate Democrats accomplished two specific goals. First they used committee hearings to expose the antics and extremism of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, forcing certain Senate Republicans to think twice about whether voting for him could cost them reelection.
Second, the Democrats managed to get Kavanaugh to commit perjury under oath, while proving that he previously committed perjury as well. On Friday, Palmer Report explained why Kavanaugh could end up facing real legal consequences when this is all said and done. Now those consequences are already starting to play out.
This morning the Democratic Coalition announced that it has filed a criminal perjury complaint against Brett Kavanaugh with the Department of Justice. This begins to lay the legal groundwork for a criminal perjury case against Kavanaugh, and on some level gets the ball rolling for a federal criminal investigation into Kavanaugh. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the DOJ will promptly launch an investigation into him, but it is a start.
This comes after Palmer Report explained why it’s starting to feel like Brett Kavanaugh will end up in prison when this is over. Even if he is confirmed, the Democrats can – and likely will – use his felony perjury to force him off the Supreme Court the next time they have control of the Senate. Considering the seriousness of the hearings in which he committed perjury, there would be every reason to expect the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Washington DC to pursue him on it once the issue is forced.
The Democratic Coalition has also filed a judicial ethics complaint against Brett Kavanaugh, requesting that Kavanaugh’s actions be reviewed by – ironically enough – Chief Judge Merrick Garland. This serves as a reminder that the fight to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination is just getting started, even as Senate Democrats ramp up their efforts at destroying him.
New York Times, Obama Heads to Front Lines of Democrats’ Battle to Reclaim House, Adam Nagourney, Sept. 8, 2018. Former President Barack Obama, on Day 2 of his challenge to President Trump, spoke at a rally in California, a central battleground for Democrats hoping to capture seven seats now held by Republicans.
WhoWhatWhy, Florida Found to Violate the Voting Rights Act – Again, Nina Sparling, Sept. 8, 2018. A district judge has just delivered a stunning rebuke to the Florida Secretary of State, whose administration has continued to drag its heels in providing Spanish-language election information and ballots to displaced Puerto Ricans.
Elliott Broidy Briody, above, was finance chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) fromFrom 2005 to 2008. In 2017, he was named a deputy finance chairman of the RNC. Broidy resigned from his RNC role in April 2018 after the Wall Street Journal reported that he had been a party to a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with former Playboy Playmate Shera Bechard, paying $1.6 million for her silence about a sexual affair between them.
The Hill, Ex-Playboy model accuses GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy of physical abuse: reports, Justin Wise, Sept. 7, 2018. Former Playboy model Shera Bechard has reportedly accused top GOP fundraiser , a former Republican National Committee (RNC) official, of subjecting her to physical abuse.
HuffPost reported on Friday that Bechard made the allegations in a complaint that remains sealed under court order. The complaint is part of a lawsuit from Bechard that claims Broidy stopped making payments on a $1.6 million nondisclosure agreement.
Bechard has said the agreement and payment required her to remain silent about an extramarital affair and subsequent pregnancy. The deal was negotiated by President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty last month to several federal charges, including campaign finance violations.
The model says Broidy began hurting her during their sexual relationship and pushed her to excessive drinking so she “would be more compliant toward his physical abuse,” according to Bloomberg.
In addition to accusing the GOP fundraiser of physical abuse, Bechard alleges that the former RNC official also exposed her to herpes and emotionally abused her.
She reportedly says he told her she couldn’t date or be seen with other men and that he also sought for her to depend on him financially.
Bechard also alleges that Broidy told her he admired President Trump because of his “uncanny ability to sexually abuse women and get away with it,” according to the complaint.
California Superior Court Judge Elizabeth White issued a ruling Friday that allowed for Bechard’s claims to be made public, Bloomberg reported.
Attorneys for Broidy told the court that the allegations should be struck from the complaint, arguing that they aren’t tied to the lawsuit.
Washington Post, The polls are coming: Four tips on how to swim through a flood of pre-election surveys, Scott Clement, Sept. 8, 2018 (print edition). Experts point to several unique challenges that surveys face this fall and offer strategies on how to learn the most from polls — and what types of results to take with a grain of salt (or a whole salt shaker).
The Hill, ‘Plaid shirt guy’ ejected from Trump rally says Secret Service ‘told me not to come back,’ Tal Axelrod, Sept. 8, 2018. The man whose facial expressions behind President Trump at his Montana rally this week went viral online says the Secret Service treated him well but told him “not to come back” when he was removed from his seat behind the president Thursday.
Tyler Linfesty, more commonly known to the Internet as “plaid shirt guy,” says Trump campaign staffers asked him and his friends to leave midway through the president’s speech.
The Secret Service spoke to him for about 10 minutes and then told him to leave the rally, according to Linfesty. “They treated me fine,” he told The Billings Gazette. “They just told me not to come back.”
Linfesty, who says he supports the Democratic Socialists of America and not Trump, told CNN he was determined to give his genuine reactions to the speech when he found out he was going to be behind Trump.
“I think I know why they removed me. It’s because, well before the rally they told us that ‘you have to be enthusiastic, you have to be clapping, you have to be cheering for Donald Trump,’ and I wasn’t doing that because I wasn’t enthusiastic, I wasn’t happy with what he was saying,” he told CNN.
“The woman, she came in and she just said, ‘I’m going to replace you.’ I just walked off, I knew I was getting out for not being enthusiastic enough, but I decided not to fight it,” he added.
Washington Post, Analysis: Battle for the Senate could provide the most election night drama, Dan Balz, Sept. 8, 2018. The very existence of a series of races that are as close as they are right now, and the possibility that they stay that way over the coming weeks, suggests that the campaign for the Senate deserves plenty of attention.
Trump v. Media
Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence pose for a picture with a group of sheriffs at the White House. Guardian graphic from Photo by Rex/Shutterstock
The Guardian, Sheriffs who cheered Trump’s attack on press have their own media run-ins, Jon Swaine, Sept. 8, 2018. A group of sheriffs gave the president a troubling ovation after he called journalists ‘very, very dishonest.’ Here is a taste of local media scrutiny of 10 of them.
Donald Trump whipped up another rowdy ovation from a friendly crowd this week with an attack on the media, accusing journalists of being “very, very dishonest” and refusing to give him credit for his purported achievements.
But rather than the usual sports stadium packed with partisans in red baseball caps, this tirade against the press was applauded by dozens of senior law enforcement officials in the splendour of the East Room of the White House.
The episode unfolded on Wednesday afternoon, after the New York Times published an article by an unidentified senior Trump administration official who claimed to be one of many working to thwart Trump’s “worst inclinations” and frustrate his agenda.
Some figures in law enforcement were dismayed by the sheriffs’ response to Trump’s remarks. “They are supposed to be leaders, not puppets who cheer attacks on the media,” said Michael Bromwich, a former federal prosecutor. “A shameful scene.”
A review of coverage produced by regional media outlets over recent years found that many of the sheriffs who cheered the president have come under sharp scrutiny from the press for their own actions – or for those of the officers in their departments.
They have been held accountable by local journalists for incidents including the leaving of a service pistol in a casino bathroom, alleged mistreatment in jails, the wearing of blackface by an officer, and various other actions.
Here, the Guardian has compiled some of the notable reporting on the sheriffs who appeared with Trump:
1. Sheriff Ana Franklin, Morgan County, Alabama. Franklin is under investigation by the FBI and state authorities after a local news blogger, Glenda Lockhart, disclosed last year that the sheriff used $150,000 in public money to invest in a now-bankrupt used car dealership that was part-owned by a convicted fraudster. The money was taken from a fund meant for feeding inmates in the county jail.
The sheriff’s office recruited Lockhart’s grandson as an informant as they attempted to find a source leaking information to the blogger. The grandson said he was paid to install spyware on Lockhart’s computer. Franklin’s deputies raided Lockhart’s home and seized her computer. Franklin was found by a judge to have broken the law.
Washington Post, Prosecutors back off claim that accused Russian agent Maria Butina traded sex for access, Spencer S. Hsu and Rosalind S. Helderman, Sept. 8, 2018. They said they misunderstood text messages in a case that alleges Butina, right, was trying to infiltrate the NRA and other conservative groups.
“The government has enormous power to destroy lives and reputations through the criminal process,” Butina’s defense attorney, Robert N. Driscoll, said in a statement about the new court filing. “This is an unfortunate example of the misuse of that power. I’m glad the false allegation has been acknowledged, but it’s a hard bell to unring.”
Washington Post, Stormy Daniels says she fears for her safety as she pursues lawsuits against Trump, Elise Viebeck, Sept. 8, 2018 (print edition). The adult-film star spoke candidly in a television interview broadcast in the Netherlands about how sudden political celebrity changed her life.
Adult-film star Stormy Daniels said her safety has been threatened this year as her public profile grows and described feeling scared of “some pissed-off Trump supporter or fan coming after me, doing something stupid” as she pursues two lawsuits against President Trump.
In a rare television interview broadcast Thursday in the Netherlands, Daniels described how her role in the legal and political drama that has ensnared the White House dealt a fatal blow to her marriage and has prompted “hurtful” criticism on social media about her parenting.
Daniels, who also goes by the name Stephanie Clifford, only occasionally speaks to the media, making her wide-ranging, 40-minute conversation with the Dutch program “RTL Late Night with Twan Huys” unusual. She is shown at left in a screengrab from her major previous interview, that with CBS 60 Minutes earlier this year.
Related story: Michael Cohen firm seeks to void nondisclosure agreement with Stormy Daniels.
Syrian War Excecutions, False Flags?
Washington Post, Syrian rebels in Idlib target those who might surrender as government assault looms, Louisa Loveluck and Ghalia Al Alwani, Sept. 8, 2018 (print edition). Al-Qaeda-linked fighters erected a gallows to keep people in line and stepped up arrests and torture, witnesses said. A doctor was recently pulled from his home at night, and a pistachio peddler was arrested as masked men patrolled the street. “You just keep walking and hope you’ll be okay,” said a witness to the peddler’s detention.
Sputnik, Opinion: Chemical Weapons Provocation in Syria to Start September 8, Staff report, Sept. 8, 2018. Terrorists in the rebel-held Syrian city of Idlib have almost completed their preparations for a provocation involving chemical weapons, chief spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defense Major General Igor Konashenkov stated Saturday.
According to the general, leaders of the terrorist group Tahrir al-Sham,, the Turkistan Islamic Movement and representatives of the White Helmets met in Idlib on September 7 in order to coordinate their participation in the upcoming false flag operation.
SouthFront, Captured ISIS Member Claims US-led Coalition Indirectly Supports 1,500 Terrorists In Syrian Desert, Staff report, Sept. 8, 2018 (8:15 min. video). A Russian pro-government news outlet, Rusvesna, has released a video showing an interogation of the ISIS members captured by government troops in the desert area in central Syria.
According to the released video, the captured ISIS member, Abu Ayyub Al-Iraqi, claimed that a total number of ISIS members in the Suweida-Damascus desert is about 1,500 and some of them had been trained and supplied with weapons by the coalition. Furthermore, he claimed that the al-Rubkah refugee camp controlled by the US-led coalition is used by terrorists as a rear base.
If the provided data is confirmed, it will confirm previous statements by the Russian military that the US-led coalition is using the al-Tanf zone, including the Rubkah refugee camp, as a buffer zone allowing ISIS terrorists to carry out attacks on facilities of the Damascus government.
Washington Post, Official meets with Syria’s Assad, says British planning fake chemical attack, Laura Vozzella, Sept. 8, 2018. The extraordinary claim by Virginia state Sen. Richard H. Black (R) was flatly denied by the U.S. State Department as echoing “outrageous” Syrian and Russian propaganda.
Fresh off a sit-down with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Virginia state Sen. Richard H. Black turned up on an Arab TV last week making an extraordinary claim about one of the United States’ closest allies.
Black said Britain’s MI6 intelligence service was planning a chemical weapons attack on the Syrian people, which it would then blame on Assad.
“Around four weeks ago, we knew that British intelligence was working toward a chemical attack in order to blame the Syrian government, to hold Syria responsible,” Black said on Al Mayadeen, an Arab news channel based in Beirut.
Black (R-Loudoun) said later that he meant the British were planning not to carry out an attack themselves, but to either direct rebels to do so or stage a phony attack, with actors posing as victims. Black also said some chemical attacks previously reported to have occurred in Syria were British fakes, pulled off with help from volunteer first responders known as White Helmets.
Coup Plot In Venezuela?
New York Times, Trump Administration Discussed Coup Plans With Rebel Venezuelan Officers, Ernesto Londoño and Nicholas Casey, Sept. 8, 2018. The Trump administration held secret meetings with rebellious military officers from Venezuela over the last year to discuss their plans to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro, according to American officials and a former Venezuelan military commander who participated in the talks.
Establishing a clandestine channel with coup plotters in Venezuela was a big gamble for Washington, given its long history of covert intervention across Latin America. Many in the region still deeply resent the United States for backing previous rebellions, coups and plots in countries like Cuba, Nicaragua, Brazil and Chile, and for turning a blind eye to the abuses military regimes committed during the Cold War.
The White House, which declined to answer detailed questions about the talks, said in a statement that it was important to engage in “dialogue with all Venezuelans who demonstrate a desire for democracy” in order to “bring positive change to a country that has suffered so much under Maduro.”
U.S. Crime, Courts, Murder
Kelsey McFoley, left, Benjamin Bascom and Melissa Rios Roque are charged in the death of Carlos Cruz-Echevarria, who was to give a deposition in a road-rage case against McFoley. (Volusia County Dept. of Corrections, via AP)
Washington Post, A veteran pulled over to help a stuck truck. Its driver was a hit man hired to kill him, Taylor Telford, Sept. 8, 2018 (print edition). The Volusia County Sheriff’s Department arrested two men and a woman this week in what they’re calling a murder-for-hire plot to keep Carlos Cruz-Echevarria from testifying in a road-rage case.
Obama Launches Campaign Tour
New York Times, Obama Takes On Trump in Debut of 2018 Campaign Role, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, Sept. 7, 2018. The former president offered a stinging indictment of his successor, sometimes by name, accusing him and his Republican supporters of practicing a “politics of fear and resentment.”
As President Trump tries to refute the portrayal in the latest attention-grabbing book, he has not only denied saying the things attributed to him, he has denied that he has ever said anything like them. The problem for Mr. Trump is that, in some cases at least, the record shows that he has.
“The Woodward book is a scam,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Friday morning about “Fear: Trump in the White House,” the new volume to be published by Bob Woodward next week. “I don’t talk the way I am quoted. If I did I would not have been elected President. These quotes were made up.”
In particular, Mr. Trump has denied that he called Attorney General Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded” or a “dumb Southerner,” as the book reports. “I said NEITHER, never used those terms on anyone, including Jeff, and being a southerner is a GREAT thing,” the president wrote earlier this week.
New York Times, Trump Wants Attorney General to Investigate Source of Anonymous Times Op-Ed, Mark Landler, Sept. 7, 2018. President Trump said on Friday that he wanted Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate the source of an anonymous Op-Ed essay published in The New York Times, intensifying his attack on an article he has characterized as an act of treason.
Speaking to reporters on Air Force One as he traveled to Fargo, N.D., Mr. Trump said, “I would say Jeff should be investigating who the author of that piece was because I really believe it’s national security.”
Mr. Trump said he was also considering action against The Times, though he did not elaborate.
The president has raged against the essay since The Times published it on Wednesday afternoon. His latest remarks indicate that he wants to use the Justice Department to root out the source of the Op-Ed, which described some administration officials in a state of near mutiny against a president they view as dangerous and untethered from reality.
The Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington while the site of the historic Old Post Office was under reconstruction (Justice Integrity Project photo). City residents have challenged Trump’s liquor license on “good character” grounds in a filing here to be heard on Wednesday, Sept. 12
HuffPost, More ‘Bad Character’ Examples Added To Trump’s DC Liquor License Challenge, Mary Papenfuss, Sept. 7, 2018. The president needs to be “of good character” if he wants to hold on to his liquor license for Trump International Hotel.
A unique challenge by District of Columbia citizens to President Donald Trump’s liquor license has been updated to list even more examples of his alleged “bad character” that could threaten the president’s continued ability to have alcohol served at his Trump International Hotel.
New accusations concerning Trump’s character include revelations by the president’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen in court that Trump ordered him to make payments during the presidential campaign to cover up information about alleged affairs. Trump later acknowledged that the payments came from him. That means Trump “likely committed serious violations of the campaign finance laws,” according to supplemental documents added Thursday to the original challenge.
He also made “misleading statements regarding his son Donald Trump, Jr.’s June 2016 meeting” at Trump Tower with a Kremlin-connected attorney to get “dirt” on presidential rival Hillary Clinton, and then “lied to cover up his role in the crafting of the misleading statement” about the meeting, the document states.
“This new evidence of criminal conduct further supports Mr. Trump’s lack of good character,” the document says.
Third Supplement to Complaint by on Scribd
Five local religious leaders and two retired judges are challenging the liquor license Trump holds for his hotel in the District of Columbia, arguing that he doesn’t have the “good character” required by law to hold such a license.
By law, if the “true and actual owner of the establishment” serving alcohol is not “of good character,” the liquor license can be suspended or revoked by the local Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.
“The president is not above the law,” attorney Joshua Levy told HuffPost. “There’s no excuse or exception, even for the president of the United States.”
Editor’s note: The challenge here to the hotel’s liquor license will be heard on Wednesday, Sept. 12, by the District of Columbia Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA), chaired by Donovan Anderson at its offices at 2000 14th St. NW in the city. The board agenda here suggests that discussion will be in executive session as part of a day-long proceeding with numerous other restaurant-related disputes.
Supreme Court Battle
SCOTUSblog, Evening round-up: Final day of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, Jon Levitan, Sept. 7, 2018. The Senate Judiciary Committee has concluded its hearing on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Today consisted of witness testimony; there were four panels and 28 total witnesses.
Coverage of the day’s events comes from Jessica Gresko of the Associated Press, who reports that “with [Kavanaugh’s] questioning over, he seemed on his way to becoming the court’s 114th justice.” For The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim focuses on the testimony of John Dean, former White House counsel for the Nixon Administration, “who played a crucial role in the Watergate scandal” and testified against Kavanugh’s confirmation. Further coverage comes from Amanda Becker of Reuters, Byron Tau of The Wall Street Journal; Erik Wasson of Bloomberg; and Emma O’Connor of Buzzfeed. Commentary on the hearing comes from Damon Root for Reason; Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress; John Nichols for The Nation; Hans A. von Spakovsky for Fox News; David B. Rivkin Jr. in The Hill; Monica Hesse for The Washington Post; Jeremy Stahl of Slate, with another piece from Slate from Dahlia Lithwick, who focuses on the protesters who interrupted the hearings.
Editorials come from The Wall Street Journal, which decried Senator Cory Booker’s release of documents on Thursday, and The Washington Post, which lamented “a depressing display of the breakdown of Senate norms.” Two podcasts discuss the hearing — Elizabeth Slattery looks at the highlights with Tom Jipping and Hans A. von Spakovsky on SCOTUS 101, while Garrett Epps was interviewed by Diane Rehm on On My Mind.
New York Times, At Hearing’s End, Democrats Accuse Kavanaugh of Misleading Them on Crucial Issues, Charlie Savage and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sept. 7, 2018. Four days of Supreme Court confirmation hearings ended the way they began: With fierce partisan divisions over Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. Here are some of the issues that arose during the hearing, and how Judge Kavanaugh addressed them.
Senate Democrats and their allies accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on Friday of misleading the Judiciary Committee, saying he dissembled in testimony about crucial issues ranging from his views on abortion rights to his involvement in several Bush-era controversies.
But Republicans expressed confidence that none of the punches Democrats had thrown at the Supreme Court nominee had landed with sufficient force to jeopardize his confirmation.
Four days of Supreme Court confirmation hearings ended on Friday the way they began, with sharply partisan charges and tension remarkable for normally staid proceedings.
In two of the strongest statements on Friday, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the committee, said on Twitter that Judge Kavanaugh gave answers that “were not true” when asked whether he had used “materials stolen” from committee Democrats when he was a White House lawyer under President George W. Bush. Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, also using Twitter, accused the judge of lying.
New York Times, Opinion: Confirmed — Brett Kavanaugh Can’t Be Trusted, Editorial Board, Sept. 7, 2018. A perfect nominee for a president with no clear relation to the truth. In a more virtuous world, Judge Brett Kavanaugh would be deeply embarrassed by the manner in which he has arrived at the doorstep of a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
He was nominated by a president who undermines daily the nation’s democratic order and mocks the constitutional values that Judge Kavanaugh purports to hold dear.
Now he’s being rammed through his confirmation process with an unprecedented degree of secrecy and partisan maneuvering by Republican senators who, despite their overflowing praise for his legal acumen and sterling credentials, appear terrified for the American people to find out much of anything about him beyond his penchant for coaching girls’ basketball.
Perhaps most concerning, Judge Kavanaugh seems to have trouble remembering certain important facts about his years of service to Republican administrations. More than once this week, he testified in a way that appeared to directly contradict evidence in the record.
New York Times, The Future of Abortion Under a New Supreme Court? Look to Arkansas, Sabrina Tavernise, Sept. 7, 2018. When a patient arrived this spring at the only abortion clinic in western Arkansas, the doctor had startling news: A new state law had gone into effect, and clinics could no longer perform abortions via medication in the state.
“Wait — all of Arkansas?” the patient asked her doctor, Stephanie Ho.
“Yes,” Dr. Ho remembered replying.
Less than a month later, a judge suspended the law, which is now the focus of a legal fight as Arkansas tries to reinstate it. In the meantime, Dr. Ho is working at one of the three remaining abortion clinics in the state, aware that, at any moment, she might have to stop performing abortions again.
The fight in Arkansas could help define the looming legal battle over abortion, 45 years after the Supreme Court made it a constitutional right. There are 13 abortion cases currently before federal appeals courts, including the Arkansas case, and legal experts say any of them could be the first to reach the Supreme Court after Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement. Others include a parental consent law in Indiana, a ban on a common second-trimester abortion procedure in Alabama, and a requirement in Kentucky that ultrasounds be displayed and described.
Slate, Opinion: I Wrote Some of the Stolen Memos That Brett Kavanaugh Lied to the Senate About; He should be impeached, not elevated, Lisa Graves, Sept. 7, 2018. Much of Washington has spent the week focusing on whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed to the Supreme Court. After the revelations of his confirmation hearings, the better question is whether he should be impeached from the federal judiciary.
I do not raise that question lightly, but I am certain it must be raised.
Newly released emails show that while he was working to move through President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees in the early 2000s, Kavanaugh received confidential memos, letters, and talking points of Democratic staffers stolen by GOP Senate aide Manuel Miranda. That includes research and talking points Miranda stole from the Senate server after I had written them for the Senate Judiciary Committee as the chief counsel for nominations for the minority.
Receiving those memos and letters alone is not an impeachable offense.
No, Kavanaugh should be removed because he was repeatedly asked under oath as part of his 2004 and 2006 confirmation hearings for his position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit about whether he had received such information from Miranda, and each time he falsely denied it.
For example, in 2004, Sen. Orrin Hatch asked him directly if he received “any documents that appeared to you to have been drafted or prepared by Democratic staff members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.” Kavanaugh responded, unequivocally, “No.”
In 2006, Sen. Ted Kennedy asked him if he had any regrets about how he treated documents he had received from Miranda that he later learned were stolen. Kavanaugh rejected the premise of the question, restating that he never even saw one of those documents.
NBC News, Opinion: I knew Brett Kavanaugh during his years as a Republican operative. Don’t let him sit on the Supreme Court, David Brock, Sept. 7, 2018. David Brock is the author of five political books, including “Killing the Messenger” (Hachette, 2015) and “Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative” (Crown, March 2002). He founded Media Matters for America in 2004 and then American Bridge 21st Century in 2011.
I used to know Brett Kavanaugh pretty well. And, when I think of Brett now, in the midst of his hearings for a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, all I can think of is the old “Aesop’s Fables” adage: “A man is known by the company he keeps.”
And that’s why I want to tell any senator who cares about our democracy: Vote no.
Twenty years ago, when I was a conservative movement stalwart, I got to know Brett Kavanaugh both professionally and personally. Brett actually makes a cameo appearance in my memoir of my time in the GOP, “Blinded By The Right.” I describe him at a party full of zealous young conservatives gathered to watch President Bill Clinton’s 1998 State of the Union address — just weeks after the story of his affair with a White House intern had broken. When the TV camera panned to Hillary Clinton, I saw Brett — at the time a key lieutenant of Ken Starr, the independent counsel investigating various Clinton scandals — mouth the word “bitch.”
But there’s a lot more to know about Kavanaugh than just his Pavlovian response to Hillary’s image. Brett and I were part of a close circle of cold, cynical and ambitious hard-right operatives being groomed by GOP elders for much bigger roles in politics, government and media. And it’s those controversial associations that should give members of the Senate and the American public serious pause.
Call it Kavanaugh’s cabal: There was his colleague on the Starr investigation, Alex Azar, now the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Mark Paoletta is now chief counsel to Vice President Mike Pence; House anti-Clinton gumshoe Barbara Comstock is now a Republican member of Congress. Future Fox News personalities Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson were there with Ann Coulter, now a best-selling author, and internet provocateur Matt Drudge.
At one time or another, each of them partied at my Georgetown townhouse amid much booze and a thick air of cigar smoke.
In a rough division of labor, Kavanaugh played the role of lawyer — one of the sharp young minds recruited by the Federalist Society to infiltrate the federal judiciary with true believers. Through that network, Kavanaugh was mentored by D.C. Appeals Court Judge Laurence Silberman, known among his colleagues for planting leaks in the press for partisan advantage.
When, as I came to know, Kavanaugh took on the role of designated leaker to the press of sensitive information from Starr’s operation, we all laughed that Larry had taught him well. (Of course, that sort of political opportunism by a prosecutor is at best unethical, if not illegal.)
Another compatriot was George Conway (now Kellyanne’s husband), who led a secretive group of right-wing lawyers — we called them “the elves” — who worked behind the scenes directing the litigation team of Paula Jones, who had sued Clinton for sexual harassment. I knew then that information was flowing quietly from the Jones team via Conway to Starr’s office — and also that Conway’s go-to man was none other than Brett Kavanaugh.
That critical flow of inside information allowed Starr, in effect, to set a perjury trap for Clinton, laying the foundation for a crazed national political crisis and an unjust impeachment over a consensual affair.
But the cabal’s godfather was Ted Olson, the then-future solicitor general for George W. Bush and now a sainted figure of the GOP establishment (and of some liberals for his role in legalizing same-sex marriage). Olson had a largely hidden role as a consigliere to the “Arkansas Project” — a multi-million dollar dirt-digging operation on the Clintons, funded by the eccentric right-wing billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife and run through The American Spectator magazine, where I worked at the time.
Both Ted and Brett had what one could only be called an unhealthy obsession with the Clintons — especially Hillary. While Ted was pushing through the Arkansas Project conspiracy theories claiming that Clinton White House lawyer and Hillary friend Vincent Foster was murdered (he committed suicide), Brett was costing taxpayers millions by pedaling the same garbage at Starr’s office.
A detailed analysis of Kavanaugh’s own notes from the Starr Investigation reveals he was cherry-picking random bits of information from the Starr investigation — as well as the multiple previous investigations — attempting vainly to legitimize wild right-wing conspiracies. For years he chased down each one of them without regard to the emotional cost to Foster’s family and friends, or even common decency.
Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination is the result of years of unopposed conservative organizing. Kavanaugh was not a dispassionate finder of fact but rather an engineer of a political smear campaign. And after decades of that, he expects people to believe he’s changed his stripes.
New York Times, Opinion: Kavanaugh Will Kill the Constitution, Paul Krugman, right, Sept. 6, 2018. The legitimacy of the Supreme Court is on the line. At a fundamental level, the attempt to jam Brett Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court closely resembles the way Republicans passed a tax cut last year.
Once again we see a rushed, nakedly partisan process, with G.O.P. leaders withholding much of the information that’s supposed to go into congressional deliberations. Once again the outcome is all too likely to rest on pure tribalism: Unless some Republicans develop a very late case of conscience, they will vote along party lines with the full knowledge that they’re abdicating their constitutional duty to provide advice and consent.
True, Kavanaugh is at least getting a hearing, which the tax bill never did. But he’s bobbing and weaving his way through, refusing to answer even straightforward questions, displaying an evasiveness utterly at odds with the probity we used to expect of Supreme Court justices.
No, the real difference from the tax bill story is that last year we were talking only about a couple of trillion dollars. This year we’re talking about the future of the Republic. For a Kavanaugh confirmation will set us up for multiple constitutional crises.
So let me make a last-minute appeal to Republican senators who care about America’s future, if there are any left: Don’t do this. A vote for Kavanaugh will be a vote to destroy the legitimacy of one of the last federal institutions standing.
HuffPost, Brett Kavanaugh Refers To Birth Control As ‘Abortion-Inducing Drugs’ At Confirmation Hearing, Jenavieve Hatch, Sept. 7, 2018. On the third day of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he referred to contraception as “abortion-inducing drugs.”
Judge Kavanaugh was responding to a question from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), right, on Thursday about his 2015 dissent in the Priests for Life v. HHS case. Kavanaugh had sided with the religious organization, which didn’t want to provide employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives.
Priests for Life, a Catholic group that opposes abortion rights, filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services in 2013 over the provision under the Affordable Care Act that required certain health care providers to cover birth control. The group argued that the provision was a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ― the same premise of the Hobby Lobby lawsuit in 2014.
A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled against Priests for Life in 2014. When the group tried and failed to get a full court hearing the next year, Kavanaugh dissented to lay out why he would have ruled for them.
OpEdNews, Opinion: Deep State: Kavanaugh Covered-up Murder of Vince Foster, Garland Favorito, Sept. 7, 2018. As Republicans and Democrats exchange barbs on how wonderful or terrible Brett Kavanaugh’s decisions will be as a U.S. Supreme Court judge, neither group of senators will have the courage to discuss an elephant in the committee room concerning Judge Kavanaugh’s background. In 1996, Kavanaugh conducted an investigation into the death of Vincent Foster and concluded his death was a suicide despite overwhelming evidence Foster was murdered.
- Kavanaugh replaced him and completed the investigation that concluded Foster committed suicide despite obvious evidence of murder:
- Foster did not own the gun or ammunition that was used to kill him;
- Foster’s fingerprints were not on the gun that was used to kill him;
- No dirt or grass was on his shoes but he was found 200 yards into the park;
- Foster’s grey 1989 Honda was not in the parking lot at the time of his death;
- Powder burns found on his body were consistent with homicide, not suicide.
The U.S. Court of Appeals eventually ordered Starr to include a supplement about the cover-up in the final 20 pages of his report despite his objections. The supplement was written by Attorney John Clarke, witness Patrick Knowlton and researcher Hugh Turley.
Putin, Iran Vow Fight Against Syrian Rebels
Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, left, Hassan Rouhani of Iran, center, and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey met in a summit meeting about Syria on Sept. 7 in Teheran (official photo)
BBC, Syria war: Russia rejects Turkey’s calls for Idlib truce, Staff report, Sept. 7, 2018. The war in Syria could be about to enter its final stage. Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected Turkey’s calls for a truce to prevent a “bloodbath” in Syria’s Idlib.
At a trilateral meeting with Iran and Turkey, Mr Putin said that Russia would continue its fight against “terrorists” in the northern province. Idlib is the Syrian opposition’s last major stronghold, with almost three million residents.
There are fears that a major Syrian government offensive, backed by Russia and Iran, is about to take place there. During the meeting in Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also spoke of “fighting terrorism” in the province but said civilians must not be made to suffer.
“Fighting terrorism in Idlib is an unavoidable part of the mission of restoring peace and stability to Syria,” Mr Rouhani told his Russian and Turkish counterparts.
Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted at the trilateral meeting “the legitimate Syrian government has a right and must eventually take under control of its entire national territory.”
What did the new US envoy for Syria say?
Jim Jeffrey said the anticipated conflict would be a “reckless escalation.” “I am very sure that we have very, very good grounds to be making these warnings,” Mr Jeffrey said in his first interview since being appointed.
Washington Post, U.S. forces conduct live-fire exercise in southern Syria in a warning to Russia, Karen DeYoung, Sept. 7, 2018. U.S. Marines conducted a live-fire aerial assault exercise in southern Syria on Friday designed to warn Russian and other military forces to stay away from an American base there.
The exercise, involving a company-size unit, came amid rising U.S.-Russia tensions across the Syrian battlespace. The Trump administration has warned both Russia and the Syrian government against a planned offensive in Idlib province in northwest Syria, the largest remaining pocket of rebel fighters who have tried, and failed, over the past seven years to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
In support of the Idlib operation, Russia has deployed a significant naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean, with weaponry capable of reaching across Syria.
The Marine exercise took place near the U.S. garrison at Tanf, along the Syrian-Iraqi border near Jordan, around which the Americans have long declared a 35-mile deconfliction zone off-limits to others. It followed a Russian notification, and U.S. rejection, of a plan to enter the zone to pursue “terrorists.”
Washington Post, ‘A never-ending cycle’: Book, op-ed show how some Trump aides work to curb his instincts, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Greg Jaffe, Sept. 7, 2018 (print edition). This week’s revelations of a purported “resistance” force of senior government officials acting as guardrails against President Trump — manipulating him, infantilizing him and ignoring his directives — raised the specter of a shadow administration.
“Who’s in charge at the White House?” a reporter shouted at Trump on Thursday as he departed for a rally in Montana.
The president did not answer.
An anonymous op-ed in the New York Times, from someone identified only as a senior official, and a new Bob Woodward book, Fear, detail efforts at the highest levels of the government to contain Trump’s impulses and, in the most extreme cases, defy and even undermine his orders.
The successive disclosures crystallized what has long been evident throughout the Trump presidency — a cadre of administration officials alarmed by the whims and wishes of a chief executive they view as mercurial and impetuous working to curb his instincts on a range of issues, including national security, trade and immigration.
Raw Story, ‘Birther king’ Jerome Corsi will not testify before grand jury Friday despite Mueller subpoena: report, Brad Reed, Sept. 7, 2018. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller said cyber security will be the number one future threat in the country, but for the time being, “counterterrorism and stopping terrorist attacks” is more important. (Photo: Kit Fox/Medill Flickr)
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Jerome Corsi, right, the conspiracy theorist best known for falsely claiming that former President Barack Obama forged his birth certificate, will not be appearing before a grand jury on Friday, despite being subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Buzzfeed News’ Zoe Tillman reports that Corsi’s attorney now says his client will not testify in front of the grand jury, even though he claimed earlier in the week that Corsi would comply with the subpoena.
Manafort Plea Deal?
Bloomberg, Manafort Weighing Plea Deal to Avoid New Criminal Trial, Source Says, David Voreacos and Neil Weinberg, Sept. 7, 2018. Paul Manafort’s lawyers have talked to U.S. prosecutors about a possible guilty plea to avert a second criminal trial set to begin in Washington this month, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, was convicted of bank and tax fraud last month in a Virginia federal court. He’s accused in Washington of financial crimes including conspiring to launder money, as well as acting as an unregistered foreign agent of Ukraine and obstructing justice.
The negotiations over a potential plea deal have centered on which charges Manafort, shown in a mug shot, might admit and the length of the sentence to be recommended by prosecutors working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the person familiar with the matter said. Manafort, 69, already faces as long as 10 years in prison under advisory sentencing guidelines in the Virginia case.
By pleading guilty, Manafort could avoid the risk of a longer prison term if he’s convicted at a second trial, as well as the threat of forfeiting several properties and financial accounts. He could also save the cost of paying lawyers to defend him at trial. Such white-collar criminal cases can cost defendants millions of dollars.
The talks may break down without a deal, but if they succeed, they could prompt Mueller to request a reduced sentence in both the Washington and Virginia cases.
U.S. Politics / Media
New York Times, Conspiracy Theories Made Alex Jones Very Rich. They May Bring Him Down, Elizabeth Williamson and Emily Steel, Sept. 7, 2018. The Infowars founder and Trump backer is as much marketer as ideological warrior, selling products to assuage the fears he is so expert at stoking. He is now facing a reckoning that poses the most serious threat yet not just to his ability to inject the outlandish into the mainstream, but also to his lucrative business.
More than ever before in his two-decade career built on baseless conspiracy theories, angry nativist rants and end-of-days fearmongering, Alex Jones is being called to account.
In a Texas courthouse, his lawyers are battling defamation claims resulting from one of his most infamous acts: spreading false reports that the Sandy Hook massacre of 20 first graders and six adults was an elaborate hoax.
In Silicon Valley, Facebook, YouTube and, as of Thursday, Twitter, under pressure to better curb hate speech and incendiary misinformation, have largely cut him off. His latest stunt — turning up on Capitol Hill this week to call attention to his claim that he is being unfairly silenced on ideological grounds — led to an embarrassing rebuff by a conservative Republican senator.
Mr. Jones likes to portray his digital channel, Infowars, as a media outlet, and he is quick to wrap himself in the First Amendment. But in business terms, it is more accurate to describe Infowars as an online store that uses Mr. Jones’s commentary to move merchandise. Its revenue comes primarily from the sale of a grab-bag of health-enhancement and survivalist products that Mr. Jones hawks constantly.
More On Mueller Probes
New York Times, Trump Campaign Adviser Is Sentenced to 14 Days in Jail, Mark Mazzetti and Sharon LaFraniere, Sept. 7, 2018. In an interview, George Papadopoulos said he lied to the F.B.I. to distance himself and the Trump team from “what was probably an illegal action.”
George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser, was sentenced on Friday to 14 days in prison for lying to the F.B.I. about his contacts with Russian intermediaries before the 2016 election, with the judge saying he wanted to send a message to the public about the consequences of impeding an inquiry of national import.
Mr. Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty last year, is the first Trump campaign adviser to be sentenced as part of the continuing investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III (shown in a photo by Kit Fox of Medill via Flickr). Three others pleaded guilty or were convicted of felonies and await sentencing.
Though lying to federal investigators is not typically punished by incarceration, United States District Judge Randolph D. Moss said that Mr. Papadopoulos deserved prison time because he had deceived investigators probing “a matter of grave national importance.” He also fined him $9,500 and ordered him to complete 200 hours of community service and one year of probation after his release.
More On U.S. Politics
Washington Post, ‘Get into the arena and fight’: Cindy McCain urges support for think tank bearing her late husband’s name, John Wagner, Sept. 7, 2018. In her most extensive comments since her husband’s death, Cindy McCain is urging Americans to “get into the arena and fight” and support a think tank bearing the name of the late senator John McCain (R-Ariz.).
“The McCain Institute for International Leadership is now my home, and my mission,” Cindy McCain wrote in an op-ed published Friday morning in USA Today. “With your support we will pay his legacy forward.”
In her piece, McCain said the institute will strive to fulfill her husband’s mission of “serving a cause greater than ourselves,” a theme that was highlighted during memorial services last week.The institute, which is based in Washington and is affiliated with Arizona State University, was created in 2012 with an $8.7 million donation in unused funds from John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. Its fundraising practices generated controversy in 2016 after a report that the Saudi government had donated $1 million to the nonprofit’s fundraising arm.
The senator sought to distance himself from the institute after the report, telling reporters, “I’m proud that the institute is named after me, but I have nothing to do with it — except that they use my name.” McCain died Aug. 25 after a year-long battle with brain cancer.
“John McCain fought for others every day of his life, whether he was wearing a uniform or standing on the floor of the U.S. Senate,” Cindy McCain wrote in her op-ed.
Trump v. Media
Washington Post, ‘There’s a new sheriff in town’: Trump uses official events to wage campaign against press, David Nakamura, Sept. 7, 2018. The president enlisted law enforcement officers to amplify his criticism of an anonymous New York Times op-ed during a White House ceremony.
It was supposed to be a quick photo op with President Trump. But the 44 sheriffs at the White House got a lot more than that when Trump conscripted them as unwitting bystanders in a withering assault Wednesday on a critical, anonymous essay about him in the New York Times. In a surreal setting, the president turned to the uniformed law enforcement officers, assembled on a small riser in the stately East Room, for explicit support as he attacked the “dishonest media” as a “disgrace.”
“Hey, I’ll ask the sheriffs: Can you imagine?” Trump said, responding to a reporter’s shouted question about the opinion piece. It was purportedly written by a senior official in the Trump administration who suggested a “quiet resistance” of fretful aides who were conspiring to protect the nation from an unstable president.
Washington Post, Opinion: Stop looking for the anonymous writer. Start looking at Trump, Jennifer Rubin, right, Sept. 7, 2018. In true Washington fashion, the anonymous New York Times op-ed sparked an irrational, unproductive search for the author’s identity. If an unnamed “senior official” told us WWIII was about to break out, we wouldn’t spend our waking hours trying to find the reporter; we’d be trying to figure out whether he was right, what the consequences might be and how to stop it or ameliorate its ill effects.
Nevertheless, the fruitless search for the op-ed writer distracts us from the calamity. The president, we are repeatedly told by people close to him, is nonfunctioning, irrational and unfit to such a degree that he’s not fulfilling his job in a meaningful way. I’m inclined to agree with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who told CNN: “If senior administration officials think the President of the United States is not able to do his job, then they should invoke the 25th Amendment.”
Vanity Fair, “He’s Destroying Your Presidency”: In the Op-Ed Aftermath, Javanka Quickly Blamed John Kelly and His Deputy — And a New Suspect Emerges With Trump “punch-drunk,” Gabriel Sherman, Sept. 7, 2018. Ivanka and Jared Kushner are taking the lead in the mole hunt — and they’ve set their sights on an old enemy.
With Trump so far unable to execute a strategy to stanch the drip-drip-drip of damaging disclosures, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have taken the lead in getting control of the crisis. (The Washington Post reported that Trump said the only people he could trust were his family.) Earlier this week, they told Trump they were deeply troubled by the accounts in Woodward’s book and blamed Chief of Staff John Kelly for many of the leaks, an outside adviser close to them told me. “‘He’s destroying your presidency,’” Ivanka told her father, the outside adviser, who was briefed on the conversation, said. Their hunt for the author of the Times op-ed may bring them into the final chapter of their long-running feud with Kelly.
Update: Peter Mirijanian, a spokesperson for Abbe Lowell, attorney for Jared Kushner, emailed after publication: “We told Vanity Fair three times that it’s reporter or whatever anonymous source he claimed to have said this was flat out wrong. Jared and Ivanka never said this to anyone because the idea never crossed their mind.”
Marine’s #MeToo Story
New York Times, First person opinion: I Was Sexually Assaulted by Another Marine. The Corps Didn’t Believe Me, Justin Rose, Sept. 7, 2018. I would never have guessed that closure would come to me in a small courtroom in Manhattan, Kan. A year and a half ago, on my 34th birthday, I sat on a witness stand and recounted how I was sexually assaulted on New Year’s Day 2006 by a fellow Marine — someone I had considered a friend while we were deployed to the Horn of Africa.
Long after the attack itself is over, you’re left dealing with all the toxic doubts and self-blame that come with being sexually assaulted. I fought with the idea that I somehow invited this upon myself, that I deserved it or was somehow to blame for the assault.
It stripped away my confidence and degraded the trust I had in my fellow Marines. I questioned the values that I first bought into when I became a Marine: the belief in honor, courage and commitment that was instilled by our drill instructors.
I didn’t immediately confront my attacker face to face — so where was my courage or honor? How would I react to real combat? Where was the commitment from my fellow Marines, when I needed support in the aftermath of the attack? Would they be there for me if I needed their help on the battlefield one day?
Jason Hairston Dies
Former NFL Star Jerry Hairston, left, and , Donald Trump, Jr. (right) and on a hunting trip in Canada (photo via Donald Trump, Jr. Instagram)
CBS News, Jason Hairston, former NFL player and friend of Donald Trump Jr., dead in apparent suicide, Staff report, Sept. 7, 2018. Another suicide connected to possible football-related brain injuries has left a UC Davis Athletic Hall of Fame member and former San Francisco 49er dead. CBS Sacramento reports that Jason Hairston was found dead just days after returning from a hunting trip in Canada with President Donald Trump’s son Donald J. Trump, Jr.
Hairston was the founder of a hugely successful hunting apparel company KUIU which is based in Dixon, California. The company valued at $50 million posted a solemn farewell picture of their founder in black and white on their social media sites.
Resistence To Trump
New York Times, From Opinion: I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration, Anonymous, Sept. 6, 2018 (print edition). I work for the president, but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations, our anonymous contributor writes.
Times Editor’s Note: The Times today is taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay. We have done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure. We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers. We invite you to submit a question about the essay or our vetting process here.
Washington Post, Analysis: The democratic crisis described by Bob Woodward and the New York Times op-ed, Aaron Blake, Sept. 6, 2018. In recent days, four senior administration officials have been described as using subterfuge to prevent the president from acting upon his decisions. Whether or not the rest of it is a crisis, that sure sounds like one.
Washington Post, Pence, other officials deny authoring anti-Trump op-ed, John Wagner, Sept. 6, 2018. A spokesman for the vice president said he “puts his name” on pieces he writes. Several senior administration officials have released statements to deny penning the anonymous column.
Supreme Court Battle
Washington Post, Clash intensifies over Kavanaugh records as new documents released, Seung Min Kim, Ann E. Marimow and Mark Berman, Sept. 6, 2018. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), shown in a file photo, said he was willing to violate chamber rules and release confidential documents about Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh — and to risk the consequences. It came as the fight intensified over access to records from Kavanaugh’s time in the George W. Bush White House.
New York Times, Newly Revealed Emails Raise Fresh Objections to Kavanaugh Confirmation, Charlie Savage and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sept. 6, 2018. The disclosure on Thursday of dozens of previously secret emails involving Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh provoked pointed new questions on the third day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, as Democrats pressed him to explain fresh disclosures on abortion rights, affirmative action and previous testimony to the Senate.
Much of the tumult surrounded one quotation from an email that Judge Kavanaugh wrote as a lawyer in George W. Bush’s White House concerning the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade: “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so.”
To Democrats and abortion rights advocates, that March 2003 statement appeared to contradict testimony from the judge on Wednesday, when he said he considered Roe “settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court.”
New York Times, Leaked Kavanaugh Documents Discuss Abortion and Affirmative Action, Charlie Savage, Sept. 6, 2018. As a White House lawyer in the Bush administration, Judge Brett Kavanaugh challenged the accuracy of deeming the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision to be “settled law of the land,” according to a secret email obtained by The New York Times.
The email, written in March 2003, is one of thousands of documents that a lawyer for President George W. Bush turned over to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Supreme Court nominee but deemed “committee confidential,” meaning it could not be made public or discussed by Democrats in questioning him in hearings this week. It was among several an unknown person provided to The New York Times late Wednesday.
Judge Kavanaugh was considering a draft opinion piece that supporters of one of Mr. Bush’s conservative appeals court nominees hoped they could persuade anti-abortion women to submit under their names. It stated that “it is widely accepted by legal scholars across the board that Roe v. Wade and its progeny are the settled law of the land.”
Judge Kavanaugh proposed deleting that line, writing: “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent, and three current Justices on the Court would do so.”
Washington Post, Kavanaugh advised against calling ‘Roe v. Wade’ ‘settled law’ while a White House lawyer, Sept. 6, 2018. A 2003 email written by the future Supreme Court nominee was among those deemed “committee confidential.”
Washington Post, Analysis: What Kavanaugh won’t say may be as revealing as what he will, James Hohmann, Sept. 6, 2018. Here are a dozen noteworthy questions about executive power, preexisting conditions and other issues that President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court dodged.
New York Times, Opinion: No More Grandstanding. Ask Kavanaugh Better Questions, Peter H. Schuck, Sept. 6, 2018. Mr. Schuck is an emeritus professor of law at Yale. Justices rarely perform the way partisans and the news media expect them to. In 75 percent of cases, partisan affiliation is not fully predictive of justices’ votes. In the hardest ones, lower courts reached different results despite seeing the same evidence, and considering the same legal arguments.
This week, senators should spend less time grandstanding with questions that simply highlight Judge Kavanaugh’s well-known ideological positions, and a lot more time trying to assess how he would vote in these much trickier cases.
New York Times, Opinion: Kavanaugh Will Kill the Constitution, Paul Krugman, Sept. 6, 2018. The legitimacy of the Supreme Court is on the line. At a fundamental level, the attempt to jam Brett Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court closely resembles the way Republicans passed a tax cut last year.
Once again we see a rushed, nakedly partisan process, with G.O.P. leaders withholding much of the information that’s supposed to go into congressional deliberations. Once again the outcome is all too likely to rest on pure tribalism: Unless some Republicans develop a very late case of conscience, they will vote along party lines with the full knowledge that they’re abdicating their constitutional duty to provide advice and consent.
True, Kavanaugh is at least getting a hearing, which the tax bill never did. But he’s bobbing and weaving his way through, refusing to answer even straightforward questions, displaying an evasiveness utterly at odds with the probity we used to expect of Supreme Court justices.
No, the real difference from the tax bill story is that last year we were talking only about a couple of trillion dollars. This year we’re talking about the future of the Republic. For a Kavanaugh confirmation will set us up for multiple constitutional crises.
So let me make a last-minute appeal to Republican senators who care about America’s future, if there are any left: Don’t do this. A vote for Kavanaugh will be a vote to destroy the legitimacy of one of the last federal institutions standing.
#MeToo Priests: More Probes
New York Times, State Investigations of Sex Abuse by Catholic Priests Expands to New York and New Jersey, Sharon Otterman and Laurie Goodstein, Sept. 6, 2018. Attorneys general across the United States are taking a newly aggressive stance in investigating sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, opening investigations into malfeasance and issuing subpoenas for documents.
On Thursday alone, the New York State attorney general issued subpoenas to all eight Catholic dioceses in the state as part of a sweeping civil investigation into whether institutions covered up allegations of sexual abuse of children, officials said. The attorney general in New Jersey announced a criminal investigation.
The new inquiries come several weeks after an explosive Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed the abuse of more than 1,000 children by hundreds of priests over decades. With Catholics clamoring for more transparency from their church, demanding that bishops release the names of accused priests, civil authorities are beginning to step up to force disclosure.
In the three weeks since the release of the Pennsylvania report, the attorneys general of Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska and New Mexico have also said they will investigate sex abuse by Catholic priests in their states and have asked local dioceses for records. Most bishops have been saying they will cooperate.
The announcements by Illinois, New Mexico, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey and New York come after a Pennsylvania report detailed the abuse of 1,000 children by hundreds of priests. On Thursday alone, the New York State attorney general issued subpoenas to all eight Roman Catholic dioceses in the state as part of a sweeping civil investigation.
Washington Post, Trump administration to circumvent court limits on detention of child migrants, Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti, Sept. 6, 2018. The maneuver is almost certain to land the administration back in court, where a judge has rejected attempts to extend the amount of time migrant children can be held with their parents.
Associated Press via Washington Post, Bezos, wife donate $10 million to veterans political group, Sept. 6, 2018. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Bezos have made their largest political donation to date, giving $10 million to a nonpartisan political-action committee devoted to helping military veterans running for Congress.
The North Carolina-based committee With Honor confirmed the donation, which was first reported Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal. With Honor said it has raised $20 million toward its $30 million goal to support veteran candidates of both parties.
Bezos, shown in a file photo at left, has previously made contributions to Washington Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and to Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch and former Rep. Jason Chaffetz. He has also contributed to Washington state campaign efforts to support gay marriage and charter schools and to defeat a measure that would have imposed a state income tax on high earners.
New York Times, What Jack Dorsey and Sheryl Sandberg Taught Congress and Vice Versa, Farhad Manjoo, Sept. 6, 2018. Wednesday’s hearings in Washington with social media executives did not devolve into ham-handed apologies. Instead, they showed a political system wrestling with issues that have no easy answers.
We are at a consequential juncture in the technology business and in society. A handful of tech giants have become the guardians of global speech, amplifying certain kinds of voices and limiting others according to their own bespoke, often opaque and shifting standards.
Although these companies — Facebook, Google and Twitter above all — are now integral to just about every corner of our lives, they face little regulatory oversight in the United States. It was only after the last presidential election that lawmakers even began expressing interest in the companies’ power.
And yet, against the scale of the issues involved, the congressional hearings held so far about the companies and their clout have often felt petty, misinformed and sharpened for political point-scoring. And President Trump’s assertion last week that Twitter, Facebook and Google are biased against conservatives only raised the stakes.
New York Times, Trump Says Google Is Rigged, Despite Its Denials. What Do We Know About How It Works? Daisuke Wakabayashi, Sept. 5, 2018. Not many people have a good understanding of how Google delivers search results. And for good reason — the company tries to keep it a secret.
New York Times, Man Repeatedly Crashes Truck Into Dallas TV Station’s Building, station’s building in downtown Dallas. Matthew Haag, Sept. 5, 2018. The man was detained after ramming the truck into the local Fox affiliate’s building, upset about the fatal police shooting of a friend in 2012, the police said.
Media News / Culture Wars
Advocate, Alex Jones to Marco Rubio: ‘Go Back to Your Bathhouse,’ Alexander Kacala, Sept. 5, 2018. The Infowars host and Republican Senator battled it out on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning.
NBC News is reporting that during a squabble outside of a Capitol Hill social media hearing on Wednesday, Infowars host Alex Jones said to Senator Marco Rubio, “Go back to your bathhouse.”
The fight began when Jones interrupted Rubio’s briefing with the press. Trying to laugh off his interruption, Rubio called Jones a “dumbass.” Soon after, Jones touched Rubio’s shoulder, which futher escalated the drama between the two.
“Hey, don’t touch me again, man. I’m asking you not to touch me again,” Rubio said.
“Well, sure, I just patted you nicely,” Jones responded.
“I don’t know who you are. You’re not gonna get arrested man, you’re not gonna get arrested, I’ll take care of it myself,” Rubio replied.
Modeling, #MeToo, #TimesUp
New York Times, Modeling in the #TimesUp Era, Vanessa Friedman, Sept. 6, 2018. There are new measures to safeguard young women from predatory behavior, but a wholesale change in the industry remains elusive.
In January, ahead of the first New York Fashion Week after the #TimesUp social revolution began, the Council of Fashion Designers of America sent out its regular preshow missive. For the first time it encouraged fashion houses to, among other things, create private changing areas, the better to guard against models being effectively naked in front of the many makeup artists, hairstylists, photographers, journalists and other random people who work behind the scenes of a show, where the making-of aspect has become as public as the event itself.
Most designers tried to comply. Nevertheless, at one show, as at many other shows over the following month in the other fashion cities, the private changing area was more of an ideal than a reality. “There was a male photographer there taking pictures while girls were getting undressed!” said Edie Campbell, a model.
In February, a model from Minneapolis who met with a photographer to work on her portfolio reported him to the police after she said he forcibly touched her near her breasts and genitals. Four other models’ accounts were also described, on Facebook, involving coerced nude photo shoots and suggestive personal commentary with the same man.
ISIS Intrigue In Middle East?
Zero Hedge, Israel’s Military Censor Removed News Report Detailing IDF Support To Anti-Assad Fighters, Tyler Durden, Sept. 5, 2018. The Jerusalem Post has confirmed it was told to remove a story on Israel providing weapons and supplies to anti-Assad factions fighting in Syria by the Israeli army’s military censor. In a written statement to RT News, the Jerusalem Post said, “We were told by the army’s military censor to remove that part of the story.”
Global Human Rights
New York Times, India Strikes Down Colonial-Era Ban on Gay Sex, Jeffrey Gettleman, Kai Schultz and Suhasini Raj, Sept. 6, 2018. In a groundbreaking victory for gay rights, India’s Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously struck down one of the world’s oldest bans on consensual gay sex, putting to rest a legal battle that stretched for years and burying one of the most glaring vestiges of India’s colonial past.
After weeks of deliberation in the Supreme Court and decades of struggles by gay Indians, India’s chief justice, Dipak Misra, said that the colonial-era law known as Section 377 was “irrational, indefensible and manifestly arbitrary.”
“We have to bid adieu to prejudices and empower all citizens,” he told a packed courtroom.
Palmer Report, Opinion: The self-fulfilling coup against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Sept. 5, 2018. Tonight’s op-ed in the New York Times has led a lot of people, including Donald Trump, to conclude that there’s now a coup underway against him. They’re citing the one passage in which the op-ed mentions that the cabinet was considering invoking the 25th Amendment against Trump early on. But it’s the rest of the letter that demonstrates the real “coup” playing out against Trump, and it’s rapidly about to become a self-fulfilling one.
The 25th Amendment is literally part of the Constitution, and it gives the vice president and cabinet the explicit right to remove the president from power. If the president disagrees, he takes it to Congress, who votes on it. This would represent a constitutional crisis for sure. But it would not be a coup, because that’s when you try to remove the president from power through unconstitutional means. So where is the real coup?
The rest of the op-ed reveals that one or (supposedly) more senior officials in the Trump administration are taking steps to trick or deceive Trump out of his presidential authority. The new Bob Woodward book dovetails with this, as it documents White House officials refusing to carry out Trump’s deranged military orders in the hope he’ll forget he gave the orders, and stealing documents off his desk in the hope he’ll forget about the decisions he’s already finalized.
Kavanaugh Court Hearings
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, an federal court of appeals judge, at his U.S. Senate confirmation hearing on Sept. 5, 2018 (screengrab at 3: 56 p.m.).
JFKFacts.org, Kavanaugh’s judicial activism on display, Sept. 5, 2018. On the second day of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, the Supreme Court nominee’s legal record is under close scrutiny. While far from is most important ruling, his last signed opinion as an appellate court judge provides a window into his judicial philosophy.
In a split decision on July 9, Kavanaugh’s vote decided my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for certain JFK assassination files. As fellow judge Karen Henderson pointed out in a stinging dissent, the majority decision ignored precedent and invented mandate.
Substantively, Kavanaugh’s decision undermined a key feature of FOIA law and strengthened the CIA and other agencies that want to keep embarrassing secrets out of the public record–even when they are more than 50 years old. That’s why I’m appealing the decision.
Washington Post, Kavanaugh won’t say whether presidents have to respond to subpoenas, Seung Min Kim, Ann E. Marimow and Elise Viebeck, Sept. 5, 2018. Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh emphasized that he had not taken a position on constitutional issues regarding presidential investigations. Earlier, Kavanaugh testified that the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion was settled precedent. But he did not say whether the case was correctly decided.
Esquire, Brett Kavanaugh Was Up a Tree. We Should See the Documents That Put Him There, Charles P. Pierce, Sept. 5, 2018. The public has a right to know far more about the Supreme Court nominee’s activities in the Bush White House.
There was a serious bit of eminence grise-on-eminence grise crime in the Senate Judiciary Committee between Chairman Chuck Grassley and Democratic Senator Pat Leahy, shown at right.
It came at an interesting moment, because Judge Brett Kavanaugh had been caught by Leahy with a line of questioning for which the nominee clearly had not been prepared. It involved an episode while Kavanaugh worked in the White House counsel’s office under President George W. Bush. In 2004, it was revealed by Charlie Savage, then working at the Boston Globe, that Republican staff members on the Judiciary Committee had penetrated the computer files of the Democratic senators on that committee that were concerned with judicial nominees, and that, in addition to using the purloined files to their own advantage, those staffers shared them with the media.
Leahy got Kavanaugh floundering on what, if anything, he knew about this rather garish dirty trick. Pretty plainly, Leahy was relying on documents marked “Committee-Confidential,” which is material available to committee members, who can read the documents, but not share them publicly. Leahy rather obviously knew enough to imply that Kavanaugh at least was aware of the espionage, and that he received at least some of the stolen documents.
Washington Post, Hearing offers an ‘unprecedented’ display of the Senate’s institutional decline, James Hohmann, Sept. 5, 2018. The hearing for President Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee is dramatically more intense than last year’s hearing for Neil M. Gorsuch because both sides expect Brett M. Kavanaugh will tip the balance of the court.
Washington Post, After nominee is heckled, Trump suggests protesting should be illegal, Felicia Sonmez, Sept. 5, 2018 (print edition). President Trump has long derided the mainstream media as the “enemy of the people” and lashed out at NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem. On Tuesday, he took his attacks on free speech one step further, suggesting in an interview with a conservative news site that the act of protesting should be illegal.
Trump made the remarks in an Oval Office interview with the Daily Caller hours after his Supreme Court nominee, Brett M. Kavanaugh, was greeted by protests on the first day of his confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill.
SCOTUSblog, Live blog of confirmation hearing (Day Two), Andrew Hamm, Sept. 5, 2018. We are live-blogging the second day of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senators are going through their first round of questioning for the nominee.
Washington Post, Opinion: An unheard-of hearing, Dana Milbank, Sept. 5, 2018. Brett M. Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing is scheduled to last all week. Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley lost control after just 13 words. There has never been a disruptive spectacle like this at a Supreme Court confirmation hearing. But then there has never been a Supreme Court nomination like this.
Kavanaugh may not become the most conservative member of the court, but his background suggests he would be the most partisan. Working for Kenneth W. Starr in the 1990s, he was involved in the Vincent Foster and Monica Lewinsky inquiries, proposing an explicit line of questioning for President Bill Clinton with graphic queries about genitalia, masturbation, phone sex and oral sex. And as a young lawyer under George W. Bush, Kavanaugh was involved in Bush v. Gore, the probe of Clinton’s pardons and legal decisions about torture. Hence the importance of the “documents.” Democrats say the committee received only 7 percent of Kavanaugh’s White House documents — and some of those have been altered, while half cannot be discussed publicly.
Why? They would likely reinforce what is already known about Kavanaugh as a nakedly partisan appointment, solidifying the court’s transition from a deliberative body to what is effectively another political branch.
School Gun Safety
CNN, Opinion: Brett Kavanaugh won’t keep Americans safe, John J. Donohue, Sept. 5, 2018. John Donohue, above, is an economist, lawyer and professor at Stanford Law School. As the country reels from an unprecedented number of mass shootings in the past year, public support for prudent legislative action is about to slam into a jarring reality. Nearly every important state and local gun law is imperiled by the prospect of the elevation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court.
In a stunning triumph of what former conservative Republican Chief Justice Warren Burger once referred to as the NRA’s “fraud on the American people,” the US Supreme Court’s 5-4 District of Columbia v. Heller decision in 2008 ignored text, history and tradition in disregarding the Second Amendment’s reference to a “well-regulated militia.” It held that the amendment should instead be read to grant a private right to have a handgun in the home.
The late Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion was deemed an incoherent “snow job” by Reagan-appointed federal appeals court Judge Richard Posner. Fortunately, the lower courts have largely recognized that the decision should not be read expansively to impose a straitjacket on legislative efforts to deal with the serious US problem of gun violence — unique among developed countries.
For example, two Republican-appointed judges on the DC Court of Appeals ruled in 2011 that the Second Amendment was not an impediment to the District’s ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines, let alone its entirely sensible gun registration regime. But Kavanaugh disagreed, writing a dissent that embodied the worst features of the historical amnesia, misguided originalism and imprudent judicial decision making of Scalia’s Heller decision.
The FBI recently reported that the 30 active shooter incidents in 2017 set a US record for both the highest number and the greatest number killed and wounded. A substantial majority of Americans support stricter gun laws, and nearly everyone wants universal background checks. Since the Parkland shooting left 17 students and teachers dead and many injured, a handful of states have taken much-needed strides to address gun violence, and stories abound about the new energy that students are bringing to the legislative forum on this issue.
But if Kavanaugh becomes the newest Supreme Court justice, it may all be for naught. Working largely below the public’s radar, the NRA has been suing every jurisdiction from Hawaii and California to Maryland and New Jersey to overturn restrictions on large-capacity magazines and assault weapons, as well as safe storage laws and restrictions on carrying guns in public.
New Revelations About Trump
Washington Post, Woodward’s book reveals a ‘nervous breakdown’ of Trump’s presidency, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, Sept. 5, 2018 (print edition). Aides routinely stole documents off President Trump’s desk. Military leaders ignored the president’s orders. And the backstabbing went both ways.
A forthcoming book by Bob Woodward, shown at right in a 2016 photo at the LBH Library, paints a harrowing portrait of the Trump presidency, based on in-depth interviews with administration officials and other principals.
Related story: The Fix: The most damning portrait of Trump’s presidency yet — by far.
Washington Post, Trump and White House strike back at Bob Woodward over new book, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 5, 2018 (print edition). Despite rumors for weeks that Woodward’s latest project would likely prove disastrous for President Trump and his team, the White House found itself ill-prepared and scrambling to obtain a copy of “Fear” Tuesday as scenes from the book first emerged. It eventually mounted a forceful defense.
Hours after The Washington Post first reported several key incidents from Woodward’s book, “Fear,” the administration mounted a vigorous string of public denials, with statements from top advisers — White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, right, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders — as well as from Trump’s former personal attorney John Dowd.
Mattis called the book “fiction,” and Sanders denounced the tome in a statement as “nothing more than fabricated stories, many by former disgruntled employees” without disputing any of the specifics that have been reported in excerpts.
Washington Post, Southern Republican senators reject Trump’s criticism of Sessions, Gabriel Pogrund, Sept. 5, 2018. Lawmakers rallied behind Jeff Sessions, above, after Bob Woodward’s new book recounted how the president called his attorney general a “dumb Southerner.”
Next Manafort Trial
Washington Post, Witnesses in Paul Manafort’s D.C. trial may include consultant who admits foreign money was funneled to Trump inauguration, Spencer S. Hsu, Sept. 5, 2018. An American political consultant who is cooperating with federal prosecutors and has admitted in court that he steered $50,000 from a Ukrainian politician to Donald Trump’s inaugural committee is among potential witnesses listed in the upcoming trial in Washington for Paul Manafort. W. Samuel Patten pleaded guilty on Friday in federal court to failing to register as a foreign lobbyist while working on behalf of a Ukrainian political party.
On Wednesday, as part of pretrial activity in Washington, Patten’s name was among those of 120 people who might testify or be mentioned at the trial of Trump’s former campaign chairman set to open Sept. 24, according to court filings.
Also on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District warned attorneys for both sides to drop “unduly prejudicial” tactics they deployed in Virginia. Jackson postponed ruling on the most contentious requests from the defense and prosecutors to exclude what they see as biasing evidence from the trial. But in a two-hour-long hearing, Jackson said she followed reports from Manafort’s trial in Virginia and ordered both sides to avoid duplicating some approaches they took there.
New York Times, Jerome Corsi, Conspiracy Theorist, Is Subpoenaed in Mueller Investigation, Maggie Haberman, Sept. 5, 2018. Jerome Corsi, a conspiracy theorist and political commentator with connections to the former Trump adviser Roger J. Stone Jr., has been subpoenaed to testify on Friday before the grand jury in the special counsel investigation into Russia’s election interference and whether Trump associates conspired with the effort, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
The lawyer, David Gray, said that he anticipates that investigators for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, plan to ask Mr. Corsi, right, about his discussions with Mr. Stone, who appeared to publicly predict in 2016 that WikiLeaks planned to publish material damaging to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Mr. Mueller’s team appears to be zeroing in on Mr. Stone as a possible nexus between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, which was used by Russian intelligence officers to spread information stolen from Democrats, according to an indictment by Mr. Mueller’s team. Another former associate of Mr. Stone, the New York political gadfly Randy Credico, is also expected to testify before the grand jury on Friday.
Mr. Stone has maintained that he had no contact with Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, and that he learned what WikiLeaks was doing through public sources and from Mr. Credico, who had a friend in common with Mr. Assange.
Monday: Supreme Court Battle
Washington Post, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee faces grilling by senators, Seung Min Kim, Ann E. Marimow and Elise Viebeck, Sept. 5, 2018. Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh is expected to face aggressive questions from Democrats on executive power, abortion rights, gun regulations and health care as his confirmation hearing continues before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Washington Post, Ten issues likely to come up on Day 2 of the Kavanaugh hearings, Ann E. Marimow and Michael Kranish, Sept. 5, 2018. Questions could span the course of Brett M. Kavanaugh’s long career in Washington — from his tenure as a member of independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr’s team in the 1990s to the George W. Bush White House to the 12 years he has spent as a federal judge.
Washington Post, Opinion: Never have we seen such a spectacle, Dana Milbank, right, Sept. 5, 2018. Brett M. Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing is scheduled to last all week. Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley lost control after just 13 words. There has never been a disruptive spectacle like this at a Supreme Court confirmation hearing. But then there has never been a Supreme Court nomination like this.
Kavanaugh may not become the most conservative member of the court, but his background suggests he would be the most partisan. Working for Kenneth W. Starr in the 1990s, he was involved in the Vincent Foster and Monica Lewinsky inquiries, proposing an explicit line of questioning for President Bill Clinton with graphic queries about genitalia, masturbation, phone sex and oral sex. And as a young lawyer under George W. Bush, Kavanaugh was involved in Bush v. Gore, the probe of Clinton’s pardons and legal decisions about torture.
Hence the importance of the “documents.” Democrats say the committee received only 7 percent of Kavanaugh’s White House documents — and some of those have been altered, while half cannot be discussed publicly.
Why? They would likely reinforce what is already known about Kavanaugh as a nakedly partisan appointment, solidifying the court’s transition from a deliberative body to what is effectively another political branch.
Associated Press via Washington Post, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel leaves city with big challenges, Staff report, Sept. 5, 2018. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel promised bold measures to help fix the nation’s worst-funded pension systems and failing schools, stabilize city finances and combat violence when he was elected to lead the nation’s third-largest city in 2011.
But despite some successes — including attracting new companies and raising the city’s minimum wage — many of the long-standing problems that Emanuel inherited will remain when he leaves office early next year. Emanuel announced Tuesday he will not run for a third term.
A closer look at some of the biggest challenges faced by Emanuel — and his successor.
Washington Post, A Va. congressman helped a rival collect signatures to get on the ballot; Some of those signatures were fake, Gregory S. Schneider, Sept. 5, 2018 (print edition). Republican Rep. Scott Taylor is subpoenaed to appear in court Wednesday about whether his staff helped falsify petitions for an independent candidate.
New York Times, Opinion: Andrew Cuomo Is the Democrats’ Best Choice for Governor, Sept. 5, 2018 (print edition). The threat of Donald Trump and new pressure from reformers are likely to summon his formidable strengths.
In his two terms as governor, Andrew Cuomo [right] has had significant accomplishments. But he has done little to combat the corruption in the Legislature and his own administration, and he has allowed the subway system, the foundation of the New York City economy, to rot. The case for change, at a time when so many New Yorkers yearn for change, is not hard to make.
Yet the actor and activist Cynthia Nixon was the only Democrat with the guts to take on Mr. Cuomo, his $30 million campaign war chest and his reputation for vindictiveness. She has campaigned on sweeping promises to address New Yorkers’ hunger for health care, housing and a fair criminal justice system.
Ms. Nixon’s candidacy has demonstrated the impressive effect of reformist pressure on Mr. Cuomo. When she spoke forcefully about criminal justice reform, he restored voting rights to parolees. When she criticized him for blessing the Independent Democratic Conference — a group of rogue Democrats who empowered Republican control of the State Senate in exchange for perks and pork — he made sure the alliance was dismantled.
But Ms. Nixon’s lack of experience in government or management of any sort do not inspire confidence that she could overcome the old guard in Albany to fulfill her promises and run the state. Her campaign has, at times, boiled down to a largely negative message — that she is not Andrew Cuomo — and while that can indeed seem an appealing truth, it is not, in the end, enough.
Washington Post, ‘Offensive and distasteful’: Aretha Franklin’s family blasts ‘black-on-black crime’ eulogy, Allyson Chiu and Antonia Noori Farzan, Sept. 5, 2018 (print edition). As Aretha Franklin’s eight-hour funeral drew to a close last week, the Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. rose from his seat and picked up the microphone. Some of those signatures were fake, Gregory S. Schneider, Sept. 5, 2018 (print edition). Republican Rep. Scott Taylor is subpoenaed to appear in court Wednesday about whether his staff helped falsify petitions for an independent candidate.
Trump Court nominee Kavanaugh snubs murdered Parkland shooting victim’s father Fred Guttenberg at Sept. 4 hearing (Associated Press photo by Andrew Harnik)
Common Dreams, Opinion: This Is Who Brett Kavanaugh Is, Abby Zimet, Sept. 5, 2018. Among his other egregious traits — rabid abortion opponent, fan of unconstrained presidential chutzpah, foe of the environment and longtime supporter of gun rights and especially assault weapons, whose confirmation, coincidentally, the NRA is spending over a million bucks to ensure — there’s this:
At his Tuesday hearing, purported devoted family man and “just such a nice person” Brett Kavanaugh refused to shake the hand of Fred Guttenberg, father of Parkland shooting victim Jamie Guttenberg, who has spent his grievous days, and likely nights, since his daughter was gunned down working tirelessly to ensure that other people’s kids won’t be.
Guttenberg described the moment: “Put out my hand to introduce myself as Jaime Guttenberg’s dad. He pulled his hand back, turned his back to me and walked away. I guess he did not want to deal with the reality of gun violence.”
When word of the ugly snub spread, the White House tried to blame Capitol Police, who later interrogated Guttenberg (WTF?), for intervening; they also claimed Guttenberg was an “unidentified individual,” though he’d earlier been introduced to the gathering by Dianne Feinstein.
In the fiery words of Emma Gonzales, we call bullshit. Photos and video of the encounter, complete with the clear contempt on Kavanaugh’s face, expose the brutal truth: He’s just a(nother) scumbag without heart, soul or moral compass.
New York Times, Nike’s Kaepernick Ad Set to Air on N.F.L.’s Opening Telecast, Kevin Draper, Sept. 5, 2018. Any questions about whether Nike might quickly back away from its decision to embrace the polarizing quarterback Colin Kaepernick amid threats of a boycott and criticism from President Trump dissipated on Wednesday when the company released a two-minute advertisement narrated by him and announced plans to have it run during the N.F.L.’s first telecast of the regular season.
The ad (shown above), called “Dream Crazy,” features Mr. Kaepernick and other star athletes in the Nike stable, including Serena Williams and LeBron James. It implores viewers to dream big, using the inspiring stories of those stars and of everyday weekend warriors who overcame illness or disability to triumph athletically.
“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything,” Mr. Kaepernick says over images of him watching a waving American flag projected against a building. Those words appeared in an ad that was released on Monday announcing Nike’s new partnership with Mr. Kaepernick and on a billboard of him that went up in San Francisco on Tuesday.
“Nike’s ‘Dream Crazy’ campaign will air this week during sporting events such as the U.S. Open, M.L.B. and college football in addition to ‘Thursday Night Football,’ ” Josh Benedek, a Nike spokesman, said.
UK Makes Dispupted Poisoning Charge
New York Times, U.K. Charges 2 Men in Nerve Agent Attack, Saying They’re Russian Agents, Richard Pérez-Peña and Ellen Barry, Sept. 5, 2018. Two Russian intelligence agents carried out the nerve agent attack in March against a former Russian spy living in Britain, Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain said. Prosecutors accused the men of attempted murder, the first criminal charges in a case that has caused an international uproar.
Investigators released a cache of evidence in the case, including security camera images [two shown below and disputed below] that captured the progress of two husky men from an Aeroflot flight to the scene of the crime, near the victim’s home, and from there back to Moscow.
Moon of Alabama, The Strange Timestamp In The New Novichok ‘Evidence,’ B, Sept. 5, 2018. Today, in a politically convenient moment, the British government released new information about the poisoning of the British spy Sergej Skripal, his daughter, and three other persons.
It claims to have identified two men with Russian passports who arrived in London from Moscow on March 2, went to Salisbury on March 3 on a ‘reconnaissance’ trip, came back to Salisbury on March 4 to put Novichok poison on the doorknob of Skripal’s home and flew back from London to Moscow on the same day. The names of the men were given as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov which are Russian language equivalents of Joe Smith and Sam Jones. These names are likely false.
CraigMurray.com, The Impossible Photo, Craig Murray (former United Kingdom ambassador), Sept. 5, 2018. Russia has developed an astonishing new technology enabling its secret agents to occupy precisely the same space at precisely the same time.
These CCTV [closed circuit TV] images released by Scotland yard today allegedly show Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov both occupying exactly the same space at Gatwick airport at precisely the same second. 16.22.43 on 2 March 2018. Note neither photo shows the other following less than a second behind.
There is no physically possible explanation for this. You can see ten yards behind each of them, and neither has anybody behind for at least ten yards. Yet they were both photographed in the same spot at the same second.
Supreme Court Battle
New York Times, Brett Kavanaugh Hearings: Takeaways From Day 1, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Adam Liptak and Charlie Savage, Sept. 4, 2018. The major takeaways from the day: Democrats turned the opening into a brawl, but Republicans pushed through.
Opening statements in the hearing were delayed by more than an hour as Democratic senators complained about the limits on their access to documents from Judge Kavanaugh’s tenure in the Bush administration White House and pressed to adjourn. With protesters shouting and being removed from the room, Democrats sought a vote to postpone the hearing but were denied it.
The frequent interruptions led one Republican, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, to call the opening of the hearing “mob rule.” But the committee chairman, Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, refused to delay the hearing’s opening day and got through it by about 5 p.m.
Washington Post, Kavanaugh hearing devolves into political brawl; GOP’s Grassley refuses to delay, John Wagner, Seung Min Kim and Ann E. Marimow, Sept. 4, 2018. At the outset, Democrats repeatedly interrupted the opening statement of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) — as protesters in the room heckled the senators — and sought to adjourn. Related column: Washington Post, The Fix: Democrats’ surprise, coordinated attack to tank Kavanaugh’s nomination, Sept. 4, 2018.
Washington Post, Trump shows fresh disdain for the rule of law as confirmation hearings begins, James Hohmann with Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve, Sept. 4, 2018. An 11th-hour document dump highlights how much still isn’t known about Trump’s pick.
Brett Kavanaugh, whose confirmation hearing to join the Supreme Court begins today, was one of George W. Bush’s attorneys during the 2000 recount. His lawyering in Florida, combined with his background as a Republican operative, landed him a plum job in the White House, which in turn helped him score an appointment to the D.C. Circuit — the second most powerful court in America.
The decision remains in dispute 18 years later. Senate Democrats are unlikely to focus on Bush v. Gore during this week’s confirmation hearing because they don’t want to look like sore losers, and there is evidence that Bush would have narrowly prevailed if there had been a complete statewide recount. But it’s nonetheless a timeless reminder not just that every justice counts, but also that the judiciary’s legitimacy depends on leaders of the executive and legislative branches respecting even decisions they disagree with.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, shown in a witness stand at far right, with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) at left center.
Wall Street Journal, Key Question in Senate Hearings: Would Kavanaugh Overturn Supreme Court Precedents? Brent Kendall, Sept. 4, 2018 (print edition). Senators expected to focus on Trump nominee’s position on landmark decisions involving abortion and other hot-button issues.
With Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings set to begin Tuesday, partisans on both sides are focusing on one of the most consequential questions surrounding his nomination: Whether he would stand firm with precedents set by landmark rulings or be willing to overturn them.
Washington Post, ‘Two easy wins now in doubt’: Trump renews attack on Sessions, Josh Dawsey, Sept. 4, 2018 (print edition). The president’s tweet cites the indictments of a pair of Republican congressmen and seems to suggest that politics should guide his attorney general’s actions.
President Trump attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions, right, and the Justice Department on Monday in connection with the indictments of two GOP congressmen on corruption charges, saying they could hurt the Republican Party in the midterm elections.
“Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department,” he said on Twitter.
Trump did not address the charges themselves or name the congressmen, but the tweet was apparently referring to the indictments this summer of Reps. Chris Collins of New York and Duncan D. Hunter of California, the president’s two earliest congressional endorsers.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), left, criticized the president’s tweet. “The United States is not some banana republic with a two-tiered system of justice — one for the majority party and one for the minority party. These two men have been charged with crimes because of evidence, not because of who the President was when the investigations began,” he said in a statement.
Roll Call, Kavanaugh Hearing Erupts in Chaos as Dems Demand Documents, John T. Bennett, Sept. 4, 2018. Kamala Harris: ‘We have not been given an opportunity to have a fair hearing.’
New York Times, Opinion: Who Is Brett Kavanaugh? Contrary to what supporters say, he’s no originalist, Emily Bazelon and Eric Posner, Brett Kavanaugh’s supporters call him an originalist. It’s a natural label to apply to the conservative judge who is President Trump’s choice for the Supreme Court.
But Judge Kavanaugh hasn’t earned his originalist badge. It’s being fixed to him to mask the fact that as an appeals court judge, he relentlessly pressed forward a Republican agenda favoring business and religious interests.
Ms. Bazelon is a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine. Mr. Posner is a professor at the University of Chicago Law School.
U.S. Politics: Arizona’s ‘New’ Senator
New York Times, Jon Kyl, Former Senator, Will Be Named to Replace McCain, Jonathan Martin, Sept. 4, 2018. Gov. Doug Ducey of Arizona has chosen former Senator Jon Kyl, right, to fill the seat left open by John McCain’s death, elevating a well-liked former Republican lawmaker who is acceptable to both Mr. McCain’s admirers and forces loyal to President Trump. Ducey faced a difficult balancing act in trying to please Trump supporters without alienating admirers of John McCain.
HuffPost, Ayanna Pressley Defeats 10-Term Congressman In Massachusetts Race, Sarah Ruiz-Grossman, Sept. 4, 2018. She scored an upset over longtime Rep. Mike Capuano and is set to become the state’s first black congresswoman.
Boston City Council member Ayanna Pressley defeated a 10-term incumbent Tuesday to win the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District, an upset building on the momentum for progressives sparked by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory in a New York House primary earlier this summer. Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) conceded to Pressley Tuesday evening.
With no Republican on November’s ballot for the district, Pressley is all but guaranteed to make history as the first black congresswoman from Massachusetts. Pressley, 44, already broke barriers in 2009 when she became the first woman of color elected to Boston City Council.
Roll Call, Outside Kavanaugh Cacophony, Congress Faces Looming Deadline on Government Spending, Jennifer Shutt, Sept. 4, 2018. Despite steady progress this year, lawmakers have little time to pass funding bills
Roll Call, Why Republican Candidates Aren’t Getting Asked Who They’d Back for Speaker, Lindsey McPherson, Sept. 4, 2018. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, wants to be House Republicans’ top leader, but GOP candidates are rarely asked whether they support his bid. That might be about to change, if Democratic criticism and advertising has anything to do with it.
Democratic candidates can’t escape the question, “Do you support Nancy Pelosi?” But how many Republican candidates can say they’ve heard the equivalent about Kevin McCarthy, right, or Jim Jordan, the two GOP speaker hopefuls?
More On U.S. Politics
Roll Call, Vulnerable Rod Blum Under House Ethics Inquiry, Katherine Tully-McManus, Sept. 4, 2018. The House Ethics Committee has taken up an inquiry into Iowa Republican Rod Blum.
Blum is considered one of the most vulnerable GOP incumbents up for re-election. He will face Democratic state Rep. Abby Finkenauer in November. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race a Toss-Up. Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race in Blum’s district, 49-45 percent.
The New Yorker, How Rudy Giuliani Turned Into Trump’s Clown, Jeffrey Toobin, Sept. 3, 2018 (Sept. 10 print edition). The former mayor’s theatrical, combative style of politics anticipated—and perfectly aligns with — the President’s.
The addition of Rudy Giuliani (right) to Trump’s legal team has been part of a larger change in the President’s strategy. During the first year of the Mueller investigation, which began in May of 2017, John Dowd and Ty Cobb, the lawyers leading Trump’s defense, took a coöperative approach, turning over as many as 1.4 million documents and allowing White House staffers to be interviewed.
Since joining Trump’s team, Giuliani has greeted every new development as a vindication, even when he’s had to bend and warp the evidence in front of him. Like Trump, he characterizes the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt” and the prosecutors as “thugs.” He has, in effect, become the legal auxiliary to Trump’s Twitter feed, peddling the same chaotic mixture of non sequiturs, exaggerations, half-truths, and falsehoods. Giuliani, like the President, is not seeking converts but comforting the converted.
This has come at considerable cost to his reputation. As a prosecutor, Giuliani was the sheriff of Wall Street and the bane of organized crime. As mayor, he was the law-and-order leader who kicked “squeegee men” off the streets of New York. Now he’s a talking head spouting nonsense on cable news.
But this version of Giuliani isn’t new; Trump has merely tapped into tendencies that have been evident all along. Trump learned about law and politics from his mentor Roy Cohn, the notorious sidekick to Joseph McCarthy who, as a lawyer in New York, became a legendary brawler and used the media to bash adversaries. [Trump and Cohn are shown together in a file photo at right.]
In the early months of his Presidency, as Mueller’s investigation was getting under way, Trump is said to have raged, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” In Giuliani, the President has found him.
Supreme Court Battle
Politico, Democrats’ last shot at stopping Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Adam Cancryn, Sept. 3, 2018. If they can’t beat Kavanaugh, they’ll use his conservative views to fuel their ‘blue wave.’
The long-shot path to killing Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination runs through the heart of the American health care system — and right into the November midterm elections. Senate Democrats prepping for this week’s marathon confirmation hearings are zeroing in on the health care views of the man who could pull the nation’s high court to the right for a generation — and determine the fate of abortion rights, the social safety net and Obamacare itself, possibly within months.
Washington Post, Democrats’ view of Kavanaugh shaped by bitter 2004 hearing, Michael Kranish, Sept. 3, 2018 (print edition). When former President George W. Bush nominated Brett Kavanaugh (shown during testimony then) for a federal circuit judgeship, Kavanaugh’s work on partisan missions put him at odds with Democrats. But the strategy Democrats used then to block his nomination for three years will no longer be available to them as Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court hearings begin Tuesday.
New York Times, How Brett Kavanaugh Would Transform the Supreme Court, Adam Liptak, Sept. 3, 2018 (print edition). Most confirmation hearings concern nominees who would not change the court’s basic direction. That is not the case with the nomination of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, whose Senate confirmation hearings will begin on Tuesday.
New York Times, Coveted Lawyer’s Juggling Act May Be Good for Trump, and Bad, Michael D. Shear and Michael S. Schmidt, Sept. 3, 2018 (print edition). William Burck, shown above in a screengrab, is deciding which documents about Judge Kavanaugh can be released. He also represents White House officials in the special counsel inquiry.
Myanmar Genocide / Press Freedom
National Press Club, Club condemns convictions of Reuters reporters in Myanmar, John Donnelly, Sept. 3, 2018. The National Press Club on Monday condemned the jail terms handed down to two journalists who exposed a genocide in Myanmar and committed to work to free them. The reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo of Reuters news service, are this year’s winners of the club’s international John Aubuchon Press Freedom award.
“When the Press Club extends the Aubuchon Press Freedom award to journalists it means we are committed to standing by those reporters until they are free and returned to their loved ones,” said National Press Club President Andrea Edney.
U.S. Culture Wars / Politics
Palmer Report, Opinion: Just Screw It — Nike sticks it to Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Sept. 3, 2018. Nike announced today that Colin Kaepernick is one of the new faces of its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.
This means a number of things. Nike is validating Kaepernick’s efforts to advance social justice, while also validating Kaepernick’s ongoing legal action against the NFL for blackballing him. It’s a bold move for Nike, considering its financial relationship with the NFL. It’s also a conscious slap in Donald Trump’s face.
Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee during the National Anthem in order to draw attention to police brutality against black people and racism in general, and several other NFL players followed.
Donald Trump then tried to hijack the kneeling issue in order to advance his racist agenda. Not only has he repeatedly attacked black NFL players across the board, he’s often zeroed in on Kaepernick in particular. At one point Trump called Kaepernick a “son of a bitch” to drive his point home.
Kaepernick and his legal team have long asserted that he was blackballed from the NFL because Donald Trump wanted it that way. Sure enough, when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was asked about it under oath, he acknowledged that Trump had called him directly and demanded that the team owners begin feuding with black players over the kneeling issue. Jones even stated that Trump specifically admitted he wanted it to happen because he believed it would boost his own approval rating.
With all of this taken into context, Nike’s decision to put Colin Kaepernick front and center in its new marketing campaign is, unmistakably, a direct repudiation of Donald Trump and everything he stands for. It’s also a middle finger to Trump’s racist base, who will now probably try to arrange a boycott against all Nike products. But whenever corporate America has bet against Trump, it’s tended to come out ahead – and things never turn out well in the end for anyone who sides with Trump.
Washington Post, Retropolis: The time the United States illegally deported 1 million Mexican Americans, Michael S. Rosenwald, Sept. 3, 2018. In 1931, President Herbert Hoover started a program that would result in the illegal deportation of 1.8 million people to Mexico by the end of the 1930s. Of those people, 60 percent were U.S. citizens.
On Feb. 26, 1931, a sunny Sunday in Los Angeles, hundreds gathered for an afternoon of relaxation in La Placita park in the heart of the city’s Mexican community.
Suddenly, a large group of plainclothes officers armed with guns and batons entered the park. Two officers were posted at each entrance to La Placita so that no one could leave. Dozens of flatbed trucks circled the park’s perimeter.
Russian ‘Femme Fatale?’
Maria Butina’s efforts to deal in Russian jet fuel were detailed in hundreds of pages of previously unreported emails. She is shown above in a 2014 promotion for guns.
New York Times, Seeking Jet Fuel Payday, Wife of Ex-N.R.A. Chief Tapped Accused Russian Agent, Matthew Rosenberg, Michael LaForgia and Andrew E. Kramer, Sept. 2, 2018.
Maria Butina surrounded herself with prominent American conservatives and dubious characters bent on making a fast buck. It was not always easy to tell one from the other. Ms. Butina, supported by Russian intelligence, managed to infiltrate conservative groups and advance Moscow’s interests in the United States, prosecutors say.
For the young Russian gun rights activist studying in the United States, it would have been an unimaginably rich payday: $1 million to help broker the sale of Russian jet fuel to an American middleman. All she had to do was secure the fuel.
So the activist, Maria Butina, whom American prosecutors now accuse of being a covert Russian agent, reached out to contacts in her homeland — and turned on the charm. In a July 2017 email, she told one man that his passport photo was “a handsome one.”
The following month, she told another Russian contact that she had labeled him in her phone as “the lovely Shakhov.” Every time he called, she was notified that “‘the lovely Shakov is calling you,’” Ms. Butina wrote. “Good feelings.”
A year later, Ms. Butina, 29 (and shown in a mug shot), is in a jail cell outside Washington, awaiting trial. Federal prosecutors have depicted her as a character out of “Red Sparrow,” the spy thriller about a Russian femme fatale.
Justice Department officials tried to turn the oligarch Oleg V. Deripaska, shown above in a file photo, into an informant as they sought information on Russian organized crime and, later, on possible Russian aid to President Trump’s 2016 campaign.
New York Times, Agents Tried to Flip Russian Oligarchs. The Fallout Spread to Trump, Kenneth P. Vogel and Matthew Rosenberg, Sept. 2, 2018 (print edition). In the estimation of American officials, Oleg V. Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with close ties to the Kremlin, has faced credible accusations of extortion, bribery and even murder.
They also thought he might make a good source.
Between 2014 and 2016, the F.B.I. and the Justice Department unsuccessfully tried to turn Mr. Deripaska into an informant. They signaled that they might provide help with his trouble in getting visas for the United States or even explore other steps to address his legal problems. In exchange, they were hoping for information on Russian organized crime and, later, on possible Russian aid to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, according to current and former officials and associates of Mr. Deripaska.
Supreme Court Fight
Washington Post, Issues for Kavanaugh: The president who chose him and the court he would change, Robert Barnes, Sept. 2, 2018 (print edition). As Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Brett M. Kavanaugh, right, begin Tuesday, abortion, affirmative action, religion and gay rights are among the issues at stake. But the hearings also come as the powers of a special prosecutor to investigate the president are part of a national debate, with decisions on executive power possibly awaiting the high court.
Washington Post, Trump to withhold 100,000 pages of Kavanaugh’s White House records, Seung Min Kim, Sept. 2, 2018 (print edition). The president claimed executive privilege in his decision to not release the records from Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh’s tenure in the George W. Bush White House. The move drew criticism from Democrats, who have pushed for more disclosure ahead of confirmation hearings.
Washington Post, The key players in the Kavanaugh hearings — and what’s at stake for each of them, Amber Phillips, Sept. 2, 2018. The Senate hearings to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh take place in a uniquely hyperpartisan political moment.
Axios, Scoop: How Omarosa secretly taped her victims, Mike Allen, Sept. 2, 2018. Omarosa taped nearly every conversation she had while working in the White House, including ones with “all of the Trumps,” a source who watched her make many of the tapes tells Axios’ Alayna Treene. Omarosa, whose book Unhinged became a New York Times bestseller after she was fired from the White House, was also (perhaps rightly) paranoid:
The source said Omarosa “wouldn’t write me on email or text me — many [conversations] happened on Facebook Messenger (she didn’t want what happened to Hillary Clinton and her emails to happen to her).”
Washington Post, Pope Benedict, in seclusion, looms in the opposition to Pope Francis, Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli, Sept. 2, 2018. Although many hoped to hear from Pope Benedict XVI, 91, and (shown at right in a 2010 photo before his 2013 resignation) amid new allegations that a coverup of sexual misconduct reached the highest levels of the Catholic Church, he has maintained silence on church matters.
Try as he might to stay out of the fray, he has been used as a symbol of resistance for a segment of traditionalists who oppose elements of Francis’s reformist papacy.
Cindy McCain greets former Vice President Dick Cheney at her husband’s funeral on Sept. 1 as former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton look on along with Hillary Clinton, Lynn Cheney and Laura Bush
New Yorker, Letter from Trump’s Washington: John McCain’s Funeral Was the Biggest Resistance Meeting Yet, Susan B. Glasser, Sept. 1, 2018. Donald Trump’s name was never mentioned. It didn’t have to be. The funeral service for John Sidney McCain III, at the Washington National Cathedral, on this swampy Saturday morning, was all about a rebuke to the pointedly uninvited current President of the United States, which was exactly how McCain had planned it.
Of course, there were fulsome tributes to Senator McCain’s bravery and courage and public service, stark reminders of the torture he endured as a prisoner of war, and of the policies he fought for (and against) in his many decades as a Republican politician from Arizona. But McCain knew that would not be the headline from the grand service, whose many details he personally oversaw.
It was a meeting of the Resistance, under vaulted ceilings and stained-glass windows.
This was made clear a few minutes into the two-and-a-half-hour service, when McCain’s daughter Meghan, weeping at times, called it a funeral for nothing less than “the passing of American greatness” that her father represented, and not the “cheap rhetoric” that now passes for it.
McCain’s grand funeral — the Obama adviser David Axelrod called it an exercise in “civic communion” — underscored a fact that is often lost about Washington these days. The city is much more bipartisan, in some respects, than it has ever been, more united than it may currently seem, in its hatred of Donald Trump (shown in an official photo).
Some are more forthright about this than others, for understandable reasons. Others are circumspect, especially the elected Republican officials who have now publicly bowed to Trump after trying and failing to stop his ascendance in their party.
A little after 9 A.M., President Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, made an entrance in the packed Cathedral, embracing Republican senators, nodding earnestly, dressed in black like everyone else. Trump’s national-security adviser, John Bolton, was there, too, along with John Kelly, the former Marine general whom Trump has enlisted as his White House chief of staff. All eyes were on them, and, after the service, that is much of what the buzzing knots of people outside the cathedral talked about: What were they thinking as they heard the speeches?
Roll Call, Meghan McCain Has Thinly Veiled Criticism for Trump at Father’s Funeral, John T. Bennett, Sept. 1, 2018. Meghan McCain, the daughter of late Sen. John McCain, right, issued a rebuke of Donald Trump — without naming him — during remarks at a funeral service in Washington at which the president was not welcome.
“We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness. The real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly, nor the opportunistic appropriation of those who lived lives of comfort and privilege,” she said at the start of the service.
“My father wasn’t an opportunistic man of wealth who sat back while others make their sacrifices,” she said in a not-too-thinly veiled shot at the sitting president.
Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush spoke at the funeral of Sen. John McCain, as did his daughter Meghan McCain, shown above in photos from the event.
New York Times, Two Presidents Offer a Tribute to McCain, and a Contrast to Trump, Peter Baker, Sept. 1, 2018. Barack Obama and George W. Bush were among the political figures from both parties who came to mourn John McCain, a giant of the Senate, and the ideal that he represented. That they were asked, and not the current president, spoke volumes about the man and the moment.
He drove them crazy. He berated them on the way to the White House and badgered them once they got there. He stood by them when he thought they were right and tore at their heels when he was convinced they were wrong. And when it came time to depart this world, John McCain wanted them to tell his story.
Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the two men who thwarted Mr. McCain’s ambitions to become commander in chief, stood one after the other before the nation’s elite at Washington National Cathedral on Saturday to honor the man they beat, extolling him as a one-of-a-kind figure the likes of which will not be seen again anytime soon.
That they were asked, and not the current president, spoke volumes about the man and the moment. And while neither former president made explicit mention of President Trump, who left the White House as the service began to go to his golf course in Virginia — uninvited and unwelcome at the funeral — their tributes to the senator could hardly be heard without the unspoken contrast to the current occupant of the Oval Office.
Roll Call, Barack Obama on John McCain: ‘He Made Us Better Presidents,’ John T. Bennett, Sept. 1, 2018. To honor senator, ‘get in the arena and fight for this country,’ 44th president says. Former President Barack Obama hailed the late Sen. John McCain as “an extraordinary man” who never lost his “zeal for life.”
“A warrior. A statesman. A patriot. Who embodied so much that is best in America,” Obama said, noting the former senator never shied away from letting the occupants of the Oval Office he never captured know when they were, as Obama put it, “screwing up.”
Obama revealed that, despite McCain’s seemingly daily critiques of his foreign policy, “every so often” his 2008 campaign opponent would come to the White House for a one-on-one Oval Office chat. They talked about “policy and family and the state of our politics,” he said.
“Our disagreements didn’t go away during these private conversations. Those were real and they were often deep,” he said. “But we enjoyed the time we shared away from the bright lights,” noting they “laughed together and learned from each other.”
Politico, Donald Trump’s Funeral Problem, Gwenda Blair, Sept. 1, 2018. John McCain’s ceremony is only the latest from which he has been shunned. Might be for the best because he’s been known to make it all about him. Donald Trump gets to do things his way much of the time. He met with Kim Jong Un in Singapore and Putin in Helsinki, got the tax cuts he wanted, and has played golf nearly a third of the days since he was inaugurated.
Funerals are another story. When Barbara Bush was laid to rest in April, word went out that he was persona non grata. And now, as Senator John McCain lies in state in the Capitol rotunda before Saturday’s services at Washington’s National Cathedral, Trump has also been asked to stay home. On Friday, streams of mourners passed by the late senator’s casket. At the same moment, the president headed to North Carolina to raise money for two Republicans in tight races.
These disinvites are hardly surprising. Who can forget Trump’s taunting Jeb Bush during the primaries as Low-Energy Jeb, or his declaration that McCain, who endured more than five years of torture as a POW, was not a real hero because he was captured. There aren’t too many ways of snubbing a sitting president, but this is one of them and McCain, who planned every minute of his multi-day memorial, wasn’t going to miss the chance.
To judge from Trump’s performance at the funeral of his own father, Fred, in June 1999, McCain made the right call.
More than 650 people, including Joan Rivers, Donald Trump’s ex-wife Ivana, and scores of politicians and other real estate figures, attended the service, held at Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan. The long-time head pastor, Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking, had died, but Fred Trump and his son Donald had remained firm adherents of Peale’s admonition to keep laser-focused on success.
Dissenting View On McCain
Global Research, The Beatification of John McCain, Adeyinka Makinde, Sept. 1, 2018. The eulogies for the recently deceased John McCain, a U.S. Senator for Arizona, have been plentiful, and so far as the American mainstream media is concerned, they have verged on the hagiographic. He has been variously described as a “patriot”, a “war hero” and a “defender of freedom.” Most perplexingly, McCain was lauded as a “warrior for peace”.
But while praise for McCain has been dutifully administered in reverential terms by both liberal and conservative figures, the truth is that there is widespread dissent about McCain’s legacy as a man, as a military officer, as well as a politician. Perhaps, most worrisome is the construction of McCain’s legacy as one of the resolutely principled maverick and insatiable peacese