Kavanaugh And His Accuser To Testify About Alleged Rape

Ken AshfordPolitical Scandals, Republicans, Sex Scandals, Supreme Court, Trump & Administration, Women's IssuesLeave a Comment

The woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of an attempted rape that occurred 35 years ago has a name and an identity: 
Christine Blasey Ford.

Actually, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a clinical psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California. A biostatistician, she “specializes in the design and analysis of clinical trials and other forms of intervention evaluation.”

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.

There was no police report filed, and she did not tell her parents about the incident, nor anyone else, until 2012 when it came up during couples therapy:

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.

Notes from an individual therapy session the following year, when she was being treated for what she says have been long-term effects of the incident, show Ford described a “rape attempt” in her late teens.

Ford’s husband backed up his wife’s claims:

In an interview, her husband, Russell Ford, said that in the 2012 sessions, she recounted being trapped in a room with two drunken boys, one of whom pinned her to a bed, molested her and prevented her from screaming. He said he recalled that his wife used Kavanaugh’s last name and voiced concern that Kavanaugh — then a federal judge — might one day be nominated to the Supreme Court.

Republicans are falling all over themselves not to attack Dr. Ford, although the alt-right in the social media seems to have that angle covered.  The GOP did NOT want to have hearings on this, but their hand has been forced, and both Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Ford have been called to testify on Monday.

So far, the GOP does not intend to delay the Kavanaugh vote next weekend, which seems like a very terse “investigation” into the truth or falsity of the allegations.

Brett Kavanaugh released a statement this weekend:

This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes – to her or to anyone.

Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday.

I am wiling 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.

Over the weekend, the Trump team lined about 65 women who attested to Kavanaugh’s good character at the time, which, as many have said, does not negate the fact that he still could have tried to rape someone.  It also begs the question as to how 65 women even KNEW Kavanaugh back then, since he attended an all-boy’s prep school. 

Ask them to answer these questions with as much detail as is expected from Dr. Ford:

  1. When did you first meet Kavanaugh?
  2. How many interactions have you had with him over the years?
  3. Explain the extent of these interactions.
  4. When was the last time you had an interaction with BK?

Instead of expecting us to just take their signature as a statement of facts.

Here’s my take: Ford’s story is credible. If she was making it up, she would not put a potential witness in the same room. She would not include comical details (like how the Mark Judge bounced on the bed and sent all three tumbling).  The only way this could not be true is if she mis-remembered her attacker, i.e., it was someone other than Kavanaugh.

I don’t think the GOP wants this fight. They want Kavanaugh, but they don’t want to have to attack Dr. Ford.  Doing like was done to Anita Hill is out of the question, especially in a #MeToo environment.

Twenty-seven years ago this fall, Anita Hill, came forward, not of her own volition, with claims that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her when they worked together at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Thomas was confirmed to the Court nonetheless, but a wave of angry women ran for office in the wake of Hill’s treatment by the committee, and her story was crucial to establishing “sexual harassment” as a form of gender discrimination. The seeds sown during the Hill hearings have come into full flower in the past two years, as the #MeToo movement erupted following the election of a multiple accused sexual harasser, and angry women jumped into electoral contests around the country.

Republicans don’t want that again. So the best case scenario for Republicans is to have Kavanaugh withdraw his nomination, but that doesn’t seem likely.

A lot of eyes are on the swing vote female Senate Republicans: Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.

Various defenses are being floated — like the “horseplay” defense.

The “what women wear” defense (updated and shined for a #MeToo world, but still the same shit)

The “but everyone rapes, amiraite?” defense:

And the “she’s confused” (a favorite of Senator Orrin Hatch

Weekly List 96

Ken AshfordWeekly ListLeave a Comment

Increasingly, Trump stands alone. Reporting indicates his sense of betrayal from current and former officials speaking out in Bob Woodward’s book and in the anonymous Times op-ed has left Trump outraged and paranoid — canceling meetings, and trusting a shrinking circle of his family and Stephen Miller. The sense of a pending coup from the “deep state” was further exacerbated by the stunning news that Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is cooperating fully in the Mueller probe.

Even by Trump standards, his behavior this week was unbalanced and alarming. On the solemn anniversary of 9/11, Trump acted entirely inappropriately, with no one to rein him in. With Hurricane Florence approaching and questions about his past handling of hurricanes resurfacing, Trump bragged about his regime’s performance in Puerto Rico, and then careened into conspiracy theories about the actual death toll.

Stories abound this week about the impact of the regime’s cruel immigration and refugee policies — and the continuing whitening of America. With Hurricane Florence approaching, news broke that Trump’s FEMA director Brock Long is under an ethics investigation and has been asked to resign, along with stories that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis may get pushed out, as well as a continuing outflow of senior officials.

As the week came to a close, questions surfaced about Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, and allegations of sexual assault in high school; but Republicans appear unheeded in bringing the nominee up for a vote, mindful that as Trump’s approval continues to decline, they may well lose control of the Senate in midterms.

  1. Twenty months into office, just half of positions considered key roles in Trump’s executive branch have been filled (364 of 705), and more than 1 in 5 positions have yet to have a nominee named (154 of 705).
  2. On Monday, a CNN poll found Trump’s approval rating has fallen 6 points in the last month to 36%. His approval among independents has fallen from 47% approval last month to 31% now, a new low.
  3. On Monday, a Quinnipiac Poll found voters give Trump his lowest grade for honesty since he was elected, saying 60-32 percent that he is not honest. Trump also got low grades on most character traits.
  4. In all, eight high-quality polls completed over the two last weeks show Trump’s approval rating falling, on average, three points. The dip could have an impact on midterms.
  5. On Thursday, WAPO reported Trump surpassed 5,000 false or misleading claims on the 601st day of his time in office. In the past nine days, Trump averaged 32 false or misleading claims a day.
  6. WAPO reported top civil servants are leaving the Trump regime at a record clip: in fiscal 2017, 18.6% of Senior Executive Service (SES) members left the government. Experts warn of a future crisis from the leadership drain.
  7. On Saturday at the second annual “Mother of All Rallies” at the National Mall, billed as an all-day event with the goal to “preserve and protect” American culture, approximately 350 people showed up at the rally’s peak.
  8. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported the event headlined conspiracy theorists, hate groups like The Proud Boys and American Guard, and famous alt-right names like Mike “Mersh” Schiele and Joey Gibson.
  9. The Guardian reported Trump ordered $25 million earmarked for the care of Palestinians in East Jerusalem hospitals be redirected to “high-priority projects elsewhere,” according to a State Department official.
  10. Republicans in the House passed a bill to reclassify dozens of federal crimes such as burglary, fleeing, and coercion through fraud, as “crimes of violence,” making them deportable offenses under immigration law.
  11. WAPO reported thousands of Vietnamese in the U.S. face deportation after the Trump regime reinterpreted a 2008 agreement reached by W. Bush and Vietnam, a policy shaped by senior adviser Stephen Miller.
  12. The new policy could impact 8,000 Vietnamese who have green cards but never became U.S. citizens. At least 57 people who arrived before 1995 were in ICE detention in mid-June, and 11 have already been deported.
  13. Reuters reported that despite a record high of 68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, the Trump regime is on track to take in roughly 22,000 refugees, a quarter of the number admitted in 2016 under Obama.
  14. The Trump regime set the 2018 annual refugee ceiling at 45,000, the lowest number since the refugee program was established in 1980. The 22,000 admitted is the fewest in four decades.
  15. The regime has extended the strictest type of vetting to women as well as men from 11 countries, mostly in the Middle East and Africa, and reduced the number of officials conducting refugee interviews from 155 to 100.
  16. Under the new Trump policies, the percentage of refugees who are Muslim is now a third what it was two years ago, while the percentage who are Europeans has tripled.
  17. Current and former officials say the new policy is being driven by a small core including Miller, chief of staff John Kelly, and Gene Hamilton, a former advisor at the Department of Homeland Security.
  18. On Wednesday, NYT reported despite reunification of most of the children separated under Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, the number of migrant children in detention has quietly shot up more than fivefold.
  19. According to data obtained by the Times, children in federally contracted shelters for migrant children reached a total of 12,800 this month, up from 2,400 such children in custody in May 2017.
  20. Federal shelters are at or near full capacity. On Tuesday, the Trump regime said it would triple the size of a temporary “tent city” in Tornillo, Texas, to house up to 3,800 children through the end of the year.
  21. The Guardian reported conditions at detention centers at the U.S. border have grown only grimmer since Trump’s “zero tolerance”policy was first put in place.
  22. Detention centers are overcrowded and unhygienic. Migrants are prone to outbreaks of vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory infections, and other communicable diseases. Basics like food and water are inadequate.
  23. In their cages, or “hieleras,” translation for iceboxes, migrants are taunted and threatened by guards with turning the temperature down. Guard laugh at migrants and say, “Why didn’t you stay in your country?”
  24. Detroit Free Press reported ICE plans to deport Francis Anwana, a 48 year-old who is deaf and has cognitive disabilities, back to Nigeria. Several years ago, his visa was not renewed as he was being moved in foster care.
  25. Immigrant advocates, who say deporting him would be a virtual “death sentence” given his severe disabilities, have raised concerns with ICE and are pushing to prevent his deportation. He has been in the U.S. since age 13.
  26. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported acting ICE director Ronald Vitiello attended an annual media event for anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
  27. On Monday, Ben Zayn, the mayor of Kenner, Louisiana, banned local booster clubs from purchasing Nike apparel for use at public recreation facilities, citing the company’s campaign honoring Colin Kaepernick.
  28. The College of the Ozarks, a small, private college in Missouri, said it would stop using uniforms with the Nike logo. Truett McConnell University, a small college in Georgia, announced it would do the same.
  29. WAPO reported the director of the Morgan County Public Library in West Virginia said it will not stock a copy of Bob Woodward’s book “Fear,” after residents expressed mostly dismay and outrage on a Facebook post.
  30. Later, the president of the trustees of the Morgan County Public Library reversed the decision, saying the board had not known about it.
  31. On Friday, the Texas State Board of Education voted to eliminate mention of Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller from the state’s history curriculum as part of an effort to “streamline” the curriculum in public schools.
  32. WAPO reported Ron DeSantis, the GOP candidate for Florida governor, spoke four times at a conference hosted by David Horowitz, an activist who has said that African Americans owe their freedom to white people.
  33. Valerie Scogin, a high school math teacher in Louisiana wrote in a racist Facebook post, “go-back-to-Africa,” “quit acting like animals,” and cease “voting for handouts and pay taxes.” She was later fired.
  34. In an online NRA-TV program mocking additions of adding female and international characters to the children’s television show “Thomas & Friends,” host Dana Loesch featured a video of trains in KKK white hoods.
  35. On Wednesday, in an op-ed by Barbara Res, who led construction at the Trump Organization, Res claimed Trump ordered an architect not to include braille in Trump Tower elevator panels.
  36. According to Res, when the architect told Trump including braille is federal law, Trump responded, “Get rid of the (expletive) braille. No blind people are going to live in Trump Tower. Just do it.”
  37. On Wednesday, Eric Trump told “Fox & Friends” that Woodward wrote his book to “make three extra shekels.” Shekels is a term used by white nationalist to describe money tainted by Jewish influence.
  38. When asked on “Morning Joe” how he would win over black voters given his racist past, Mississippi State Senator Chris McDaniel said “After 100 years of begging for federal government scraps, where are you today?”
  39. The gubernatorial campaign of Ron DeSantis, under fire for recent racist remarks about his opponent Andrew Gillum, blocked a former state official from co-chairing a fundraiser, citing racist remarks.
  40. Patient advocacy groups filed a lawsuit against the Trump regime’s expansion of bare-bones “short-term” health plans, which undermine the stability of the Affordable Care Act.
  41. A woman born in Kansas was told by the U.S. Passport Agency out of Houston, Texas that her birth certificate was not enough to prove citizenship. After her senator intervened, the matter was corrected.
  42. WAPO reported on Trump shrinking the Environmental Protection Agency. Since he took office, nearly 1,600 workers have left, while fewer than 400 were hired, bringing staffing levels down to levels not seen since the Reagan administration.
  43. Among those who have resigned or retired include some of the EPA’s most experienced veterans, as well as young environmental experts who would have replaced them, causing concern about a brain drain at the agency.
  44. On Monday, NYT reported the Trump regime is taking its third major step this year to roll back federal efforts to fight climate change, making it easier for energy companies to release methane into the atmosphere.
  45. The EPA will propose weakening an Obama-era requirement that companies monitor and repair methane leaks, and the Interior Department will repeal restrictions on venting and burning methane.
  46. This third step, in addition to weakening rules on carbon dioxide from vehicles tailpipes in July and coal-fired power plants in August, represents the foundation of the U.S. effort to rein in global warming.
  47. On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office issued its monthly review for August 2018, which showed the federal deficit had grown by $222 billion in the first 11 months of fiscal year 2018, reaching a record $895 billion.
  48. The CBO said the increase was due mostly to the new Republican tax law and Congress’ routine decision to increase spending. The CBO also said the deficit will approach $1 trillion by the end of Fiscal Year 2019.
  49. On Wednesday, a Washington federal court judge ruled against Betsy DeVos’s Department of Education, saying the department’s postponement of the Obama-era Borrower Defense rule was procedurally improper.
  50. The lawsuit brought by 19 states and the District of Columbia accused the department of wrongly delaying implementation of regulations to protect students who took out loans to attend college from predatory practices.
  51. Trump’s Interior Department is quietly moving to lease hundreds of thousands of acres of public land to energy companies, for commercial purposes such as mining for minerals and drilling for oil and gas.
  52. According to data compiled by environmental groups, the Bureau of Land Management will put 2.9 million acres in New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona up for potential leasing in the next four months.
  53. NBC News reported next Thursday FEMA will do its first test of the alert system, which would allow Trump to send a message to most U.S. cell phones. More than 100 mobile carriers are participating in the roll out.
  54. The Emergency Alert System is a national public warning system that allows the president to address the nation during a national emergency. The test message will have a header that reads “Presidential Alert.”
  55. On Monday, White House economist Kevin Hassett said at a press briefing that Trump’s tweet that the Gross Domestic Product was the highest “in over 100 years” was not true, saying highest in 10 years was accurate.
  56. Hassett, who was part of the first White House press briefing in 19 days, denied he was included because of Obama’s claim last Friday that Trump inherited an economic recovery spurred by his presidency.
  57. In another tweet Monday morning, Trump mischaracterized a comment Obama made more than two years ago. Trump tweeted that Obama said Trump would need a “magic wand to get to 4% GDP.” This is a false claim.
  58. WAPO analyzed the content of Trump’s July rallies and found 76% of his 98 statements were false, misleading, or unsupported by the evidence. Last week, the average percentage for the two rallies was 72%.
  59. NBC News reported a record-breaking 100 women could be elected in 2018, as 30 to 40 new women are poised to win. The increase is driven by Democrats, as a record breaking 50% of new candidates are women.
  60. The previous record was 24 set in 1992’s “Year of the Woman,” in a backlash against Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court confirmation. This year is in response to Trump and his policies.
  61. On Tuesday, in New Hampshire’s primary, Safiya Wazir, a 27-year-old Afghan refugee won her race with 70% of the votes over a veteran state representative who railed against immigrants “getting everything.”
  62. On Wednesday, Juli Briskman, the cyclist who got fired for flipping off Trump in Week 52, announced she is running to represent the Algonkian District on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in Virginia.
  63. On Thursday, in New York’s primary, Letitia James became the first black woman to win a major party statewide nomination in New York, defeating her Democratic opponents for attorney general.
  64. On Sunday, Vice President Pence said on “Face the Nation” that Mueller’s team has not asked him for an interview, but he has provided requested information. Pence said he would be willing to speak to Mueller’s team.
  65. On Sunday, Steve Bannon told Reuters that Trump is facing a “coup” based on the anonymous NYT op-ed, adding the “Republican establishment” was looking to nullify the 2016 election and neuter Trump.
  66. On Monday, with the launch of his book, “Fear,” Bob Woodward told the “Today Show,” that he has “never seen an instance when the president is so detached from the reality of what’s going on.”
  67. Woodward claims in his book Trump’s staff believes he is unhinged and erratic. Woodward said, “This has not been treated seriously enough. The things…that Trump did and does jeopardizes the real national security.”
  68. Before the interview, Trump tweeted, “The Woodward book is a Joke — just another assault against me,” adding, “Dems can’t stand losing. I’ll write the real book!”
  69. After the interview, Trump tweeted, “It is mostly anonymous sources in here, why should anyone trust you?” adding, “Bob Woodward is a liar who is like a Dem operative prior to the Midterms.”
  70. Woodward’s book claims Trump exploded at his former lawyer John Dowd, after reading news reports that Mueller had subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank, exclaiming, “This is bulls — -!”
  71. The book also claims, in a conversation about the federal deficit with Gary Cohn during the transition period, Trump suggested, “We should just go borrow a lot of money, hold it, and then sell it to make money.”
  72. Cohn reportedly explained to Trump that printing money could lead to inflation and be catastrophic for the economy. Cohn was “astounded at Trump’s lack of basic understanding” about the federal debt.
  73. Vanity Fair reported Trump is bitter over Woodward’s book and former allies and employees who betrayed him. He let Cohn and Rob Porter know he would attack them publicly if they didn’t disavow the book. They both did.
  74. Trump is reportedly even more fixated on finding the author of the NYT op-ed. Meetings have been derailed because of Trump’s suspicions. Donald Jr. has told people he’s worried Trump is not sleeping because of it.
  75. The only person Trump trusts outside of family is Stephen Miller. The op-ed has validated Trump’s belief, propagated by Miller and Bannon, that the deep state is out to get him. Trump believes there is a coup.
  76. On Monday, Omarosa told “The View” that Trump has “sicced his entire legal team on me to stop any further release of tapes,”saying “he wants to make sure that I am silent,” but that, “I’m gonna keep on fighting.”
  77. On Monday, CNN reported the White House has again changed phone policy in reaction to Omarosa’s leaking of tapes. White House staffers will no longer be able to leave phones in lockers outside the Situation Room.
  78. On Monday, the Trump regime said it would close the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, citing the PLO “has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”
  79. The State Department also said the closure was “consistent with” concerns about Palestinian calls for an investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court. Neither Israel or the U.S. recognize the ICC.
  80. On Monday, national security adviser John Bolton said if the ICC pursues charges against Americans over alleged war crimes committed in Afghanistan, those involved will be banned from traveling to the U.S.
  81. On Sunday, Reuters reported Energy Secretary Rick Perry will meet with Russia’s Energy Minister in Moscowon Thursday. Perry will be the most senior U.S. official to visit Russia since the Helsinki summit.
  82. On Tuesday, Russia held Vostok 2018, its largest military drills since 1981 when Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as president, at a time of heightened tensions between the West and Russia.
  83. Sen. Mark Warner, ranking Democrat of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the committee will not release its report before midterms, citing wanting to conduct more interviews, including Michael Cohen and George Papadopoulos.
  84. On Sunday, Axios reported that Trump is expected to declassify documents related to the government’s surveillance of Carter Page, and the investigative activities of Bruce Ohr.
  85. Trump allies on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees believe the release will taint the Trump-Russia investigation by showing it was illegitimate, and that the Obama administration illegally spied on Page.
  86. On Tuesday, NBC News reported that U.S. intelligence agencies believe Russia is the main suspect in the mysterious attacks that led to brain injuries of U.S. diplomats in Cuba and China.
  87. On Tuesday, CNN reported New York tax investigators met with Michael Cohen’s attorney, Guy Petrillo, and possibly Cohen, as part of a state probe regarding Cohen and the Trump Organization.
  88. BuzzFeed reported on suspicious money transfers. The first came 11 days after the June 9 Trump Tower meeting: an offshore company controlled by Aras Agalarov wired $19.5 million to his account in New York.
  89. The second came shortly after the election when the Agalarov family sent a series of transactions totaling $1.2 million from their bank in Russia to an account in New Jersey controlled by Arar’s son, Emin Agalarov.
  90. On Tuesday, Donald Jr. told “Good Morning America” that he is not afraid of going to jail in Mueller’s Russia investigation, saying “I’m not because I know what I did, and I’m not worried about any of that.”
  91. Dutch newspapers reported that the two Russian spies who had been plotting a cyber attack from the Netherlands on a Swiss defense lab which was analyzing the nerve agent used in Britain were detained and expelled.
  92. Swiss authorities said the investigation began in March into “suspicion of political espionage,” and led to a joint investigation by Swiss, Dutch, and British intelligence services.
  93. The attempted attack is the latest example of the Kremlin waging a sophisticated and unconventional campaign to work its will abroad, and to undermine adversaries and their alliances.
  94. Rep. Trey Gowdy told The Hill that the House Intelligence Committee should release all transcripts from the Russia probe. Gowdy’s remarks echo those of House Intelligence Democrats, who have called for the same.
  95. On Tuesday, the solemn anniversary of 9/11, Trump started the day with a series of tweets rehashing reports on Fox Business Network and Fox News while he traveled to the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
  96. The topics of Trump’s morning tweets included: “New Strzok-Page texts,” and “collusion between the FBI & DOJ, the Hillary campaign,” and Obama attorney general Eric Holder.
  97. Trump then retweeted a 9/11-related post by social media director Dan Scavino and on Hurricane Florence,before resuming a series of tweets attacking his adversaries.
  98. Trump tweeted, “You know who’s at fault for this more than anyone else, Comey,” and about “Crazy Maxine Waters,” and quoted Lou Dobbs, saying, “Russian “collusion” was just an excuse by the Democrats.”
  99. Photos of Trump fist-pumping as he exited the airplane in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and walked toward supporters drew national attention and condemnation of being inappropriate for the solemn day by many.
  100. At the Shanksville memorial site where Trump was giving a speech, he walked up to the podium, whilepointing at people in the crowd and mouthing the words “thank you” as they clapped for him.
  101. Later Tuesday, in remarks in the Oval Office, Trump said his regime’s response to Hurricane Maria was “an incredible, unsung success” and falsely claimed Puerto Rico had virtually no electricity before the storm.
  102. When asked about Hurricane Florence approaching, Trump said his regime was “as ready as anybody has ever been” and warned that the storm would be “tremendously big and tremendously wet.”
  103. Trump continued his use of superlatives, saying of Hurricane Florence, “many people are now saying that this is the worst storm/hurricane they have ever seen.”
  104. On Tuesday, BuzzFeed reported that FEMA received 2,431 requests for funeral assistance from Puerto Ricans related to the hurricane Maria, and approved just 75, or 3%.
  105. In a letter, FEMA director Long cited, Puerto Ricans had to provide a death certificate or letter from a government official “that clearly indicates the death was attributed to the emergency or disaster.”
  106. On Wednesday, Sen. Jeff Merkley revealed on the Rachel Maddow Show that the Trump regime redirected $9.75 million from FEMA to ICE for detention and removal, months before hurricane season is set to begin.
  107. The transfer of funds was approved by the Republican chairs of the House and Senate Homeland Security appropriations subcommittees, but not by the rest of the subcommittees’ members.
  108. Director Long claimed that none of the money came from the Disaster Relief Fund. However, the money came from the response and recovery, preparedness and protection and mission support operations budgets.
  109. On Thursday, NBC News reported that the Department of Homeland Security transferred $169 million from other agencies to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the detention and removal of migrants this year.
  110. According to a document sent to Congress by DHS, many of the transfers came from key national security programs, including Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, the U.S. Coast Guard, FEMA and several TSA programs.
  111. DHS also transferred $33 million from other ICE programs to pay for detention and removal, bringing the total to $202 million transferred in.
  112. On Wednesday, NYT reported Trump started a new strategy in mid August of using short videos of himself, shared on Twitter, a strategy reportedly designed by former Fox News executive Bill Shine.
  113. The videos, shot with the White House as the setting, have thus far been less viral and gotten less engagement, in the form of responses, likes and retweets, than Trump’s most provocative text tweets.
  114. On Thursday, Politico reported FEMA director Brock Long is under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security inspector general into whether he misused government vehicles during his commutes.
  115. The inspector general’s interest was drawn after one of the vehicles used by Long for trips back home to Hickory, North Carolina, on the weekends — a black Suburban — was involved in an accident.
  116. Long has also reportedly been clashing in recent weeks with his boss, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen over his travel logs, as the hurricane season approaches. She confronted him at a meeting in late August.
  117. On Wednesday, the Irish Independent reported Trump canceled a November visit to Ireland to visit his golf course in Doonbeg, Co Clare as part of a trip to Europe for Armistice Day celebrations.
  118. On Wednesday, at a news conference, The White House said it has not yet made a final decision on whether Trump will make a stop in Ireland. The Irish Ambassador to the U.S. said he had not been informed of the trip.
  119. On Wednesday, Independent UK reported that Trump canceled the trip to Ireland because massive protestshave already been planned to greet him.
  120. On Friday, the NYT wrote an Editors’ Note to an article which inaccurately reported U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley spent $52,701 on curtains for the UN residence. The order was placed under the Obama administration.
  121. On Thursday, the bitter fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation plunged into chaos as Sen. Dianne Feinstein disclosed that she referred a letter that describes alleged sexual misconduct involving Kavanaugh in high school to the FBI.
  122. On Friday, reporters Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer of the New Yorker obtained the letter, which Sen. Feinstein has had since July. Kavanaugh “categorically and unequivocally” denied the allegations.
  123. Anita Hill called on the federal government to implement a “fair and neutral” way to investigate sexual misconduct, saying she seen “firsthand what happens when such a process is weaponized against an accuser.”
  124. On Wednesday, ABC News reported Paul Manafort has been in ongoing negotiations with Mueller’s office over a potential plea agreement. The negotiations have picked up steam in recent weeks.
  125. On Friday, CNN reported the federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are considering criminal charges against former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig for failing to register as a foreign agent.
  126. Prosecutors are also considering taking action against the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flomwhere Craig was a partner during the activity under examination.
  127. Like Alex van der Zwaan, who also worked at Skadden, Craig was involved in promoting a report on Yulia Tymoshenko to members of Congress and the media on behalf of the then-president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych.
  128. The inquiry is a Mueller referral, and is now in advanced stages and is closely linked to a case against Manafort. Details about Skadden’s work was disclosed on Friday by Mueller’s office in charges against Manafort.
  129. On Thursday, Rudy Giuliani confirmed Manafort and Trump have a joint defense agreement that allows sharing of confidential information, and that Trump’s lawyers and Manafort’s have been in regular contact.
  130. Giuliani also told Politico he sees no danger for Trump from a Manafort plea deal, saying, “There’s no fear that Paul Manafort would cooperate,” adding, “we long ago evaluated him as an honorable man.”
  131. On Friday, in a stunning development, Manafort agreed to cooperate in the Mueller probe, pleading guilty and promising to tell the government about “his participation in and knowledge of all criminal activities.”
  132. Court documents revealed that Manafort was talking in detail with Mueller’s team as early as Monday. Manafort made multiple statements and a written proffer as the two sides worked toward a deal.
  133. Manafort said his Ukraine work included shaping U.S. perception of Yanukovych and his pro-Russia party. He admitted he didn’t register as a foreign agent and misled federal investigators about his work.
  134. Manafort also pleaded guilty to cheating the IRS out of $15 million and lying repeatedly to try to cover his tracks. Manafort faces as much as 10 additional years and fines of $250,000 per count based on his plea.
  135. As part of the plea, Manafort will forfeit a host of assets, including his condo at Trump Tower, worth an estimated $21.7 million. He will also return to prison while he cooperates.
  136. Manafort agreed to cooperate “fully and truthfully,” and if he complies, he stands to have years shaved off his prison sentence, perhaps serving no time, and to have his family hold on to some property.
  137. Manafort has agreed to meet with law enforcement regarding the investigation without the presence of his counsel.
  138. Both cases brought against Manafort by the special counsel stemmed from his work in Ukraine. Manafort may provide key information on the June 9 Trump Tower meeting, changes in the RNC platform, and other areas.
  139. In reaction, Giuliani said, “Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign. The reason: The president did nothing wrong.”
  140. Shortly after, press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement: “This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 Presidential campaign. It is totally unrelated.”
  141. Trump ally Alan Dershowitz told MSNBC the plea deal is a “big win” for Mueller, saying “It potentially opens up lots of doors that probably haven’t been opened before.”
  142. Dershowitz also said a presidential pardon now is “off the table, saying if Manafort is given a pardon, then he can’t take the Fifth Amendment” and “would have to testify” and could be called in front of a grand jury.
  143. Manafort’s guilty plea revealed hardball tactics. He enlisted a foreign politician secretly on his payroll to deliver a message to Obama in the Oval Office. He also smeared adversaries to protect pro-Russian Yanukovych.
  144. Manafort spread stories that jailed Ukrainian politician Yulia Tymo­shenko was a murderer. In 2011, Manafort spread stories that then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was supporting anti-Semitism by taking up Tymo­shenko’s cause.
  145. In 2012, Manafort paid Skadden Arps $4.6 million to write a report analyzing Tymoshenko’s trial that he then used to spread to the false claim that her conviction had not been politically motivated.
  146. On Friday, Vanity Fair reported it has become common knowledge among close friends of Michael Cohen that he is talking to Mueller’s team. The extent and purposes of the talks is not clear.
  147. On Friday, WSJ reported, as Hurricane Florence was forming in the Atlantic, senior Trump officials were considering replacing FEMA director Long, amid allegations he misused resources.
  148. DHS inspectors found that Long, who was under surveillance, often left FEMA headquarters on Thursdays and traveled home with a caravan of federal workers, who stayed in nearby hotels for the long weekend.
  149. The inspector general is also reviewing communications between Long and a FEMA contractor that appear to include discussions about future employment.
  150. Secretary Nielsen brought Long details of the inspector’s preliminary findings, and asked him to resign if the allegations are true. Trump has been frequently meeting with Long this week ahead of Hurricane Florence.
  151. Intercept published a story about Kavanaugh which was originally posted at Think Progress, but wassuppressed at Facebook after conservative Weekly Standard fact-checked it to be false. It was not.
  152. On Wednesday, defending his regime’s response to past hurricanes, Trump tweeted, “We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida (and did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico).”
  153. Trump also blamed the response in Puerto Rico on it being “an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan,” referring to his adversary San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.
  154. Also in the series of tweets, Trump again used hyperbole, saying “Hurricane Florence is looking even bigger than anticipated.
  155. On Thursday, Trump lied about the deaths in Puerto Rico, tweeting, “3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths.”
  156. Instead, Trump blamed the Democrats, tweeting, “This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible,” claiming, “I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico.”
  157. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz tweeted, “This is what denial following neglect looks like: Mr Pres in the real world people died on your watch,” adding “YOUR LACK OF RESPECT IS APPALLING!”
  158. On Friday, Trump continued to attack the Puerto Rico death toll, quoting Geraldo Rivera in a tweet, “70% of the power was out before the storm,” adding it’s a “political agenda couched in the nice language of journalism.”
  159. Trump also tweeted quotes by Ed Rollins who complimented him on Puerto Rico, as “an extraordinary job,” and Lou Dobbs, “The people of Puerto Rico have one of the most corrupt governments in our country.”
  160. On Friday evening, as Hurricane Florence continued to batter the Carolinas, Trump again tweeted about the Puerto Rico death count, “FIFTY TIMES LAST ORIGINAL NUMBER — NO WAY!”
  161. Trump closed out Friday, tweeting that the “Fake News Media” did not cover when Obama said there were 57 states in 2008. This is false.
  162. On Saturday, NYT reported Trump’s relationship with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has frayed. Trump is weary of comparisons to Mattis as the adult in the room, and increasingly concerned that Mattis is a Democrat at heart.
  163. Officials say Trump has largely tuned out his national security aides as he feels more confident in himself. Mattis has balked at some of Trump’s requests and is protective of the military being used for political purposes.
  164. Officials say Trump may fire Mattis, a significant departure given that foreign allies and adversaries, as well as the U.S. national security establishment, view Mattis as the one thing standing between Trump and global tumult.
  165. Mattis has largely avoided the media. Aides say he is fearful about being put on the spot by questions that will expose differences with Trump. He has refused requests to go on “Fox & Friends” to praise Trump’s agenda.
  166. On Saturday, the White House issued a “lid” for the day, meaning no planned news events or presidential movements. Trump did not tweet through noon, or golf, as would be typical.

Manafort Flips

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

It finally happened — Paul Manafort flipped.

The former Trump campaign chair appeared in court in Washington on Friday and pleaded guilty to a reduced set of charges. And as part of his plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, prosecutors said, Manafort agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

It’s enormously important news for the Russia investigation. Many have long speculated that the special counsel’s main aim in charging Manafort with financial and lobbying crimes was to pressure him to “flip” — so he’d agree to provide information related to their true concern of whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to interfere with the election.

Now, it’s happened. And that should make President Donald Trump very nervous indeed.

Manafort was convicted of eight counts of financial crimes last month and is expected to face a years-long prison sentence. This new deal will stave off a scheduled second trial for Manafort, which was scheduled to begin in Washington later this month, as well as dismissing 10 mistrial counts from Manafort’s Virginia trial last month. Much of Manafort’s money and property will also be subject to forfeiture, according to the agreement.

In advance of Manafort’s court appearance Friday, Mueller’s team filed a new document that drops some charges and lays out what Manafort will admit to. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States (related to his foreign lobbying work for Ukraine and his finances), and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice (related to attempted witness tampering earlier this year).

The deal marks the end of one phase of the Mueller investigation. Manafort’s prosecution was the most visible activity of the special counsel’s office so far. It also appeared to be part of an initial stage of the investigation that involved trying to get key Trump aides to flip by charging them with false statements or financial crimes.

We don’t know the exact terms of the plea deal, but there is a reason for that: prosecutors want to make Manafort pardon-proof.  Keeping the detail secret was meant to prevent a last minute pardon from Trump undercutting it.

Here’s why this deal is pardon proof:

  1. Mueller spent the hour and a half delay in arraignment doing … something. It’s possible Manafort even presented the key parts of testimony Mueller needs from him to the grand jury this morning.

  2. The forfeiture in this plea is both criminal and civil, meaning DOJ will be able to get Manafort’s $46 million even with a pardon.

  3. Some of the dismissed charges are financial ones that can be charged in various states.

This tweet didn’t age well:

Statement from White House: “This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 Presidential campaign,” said Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. “It is totally unrelated.”

Yes. The crimes Manafort has pleaded guilty to ARE totally unrelated to the presidential campaign. But the information that Manafort is turning over in his cooperation with Mueller?  Priceless.  And related to Trump.

Some are calling it Trump’s worst tweet, which is an honor that has much competition.

And it looks like the Trump White House was thrown off a little by the cooperation agreement news:

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, issued a statement saying, “Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign. The reason: the President did nothing wrong and Paul Manafort will tell the truth.”

But just minutes later, Giuliani issued a revised statement that conspicuously omitted the “and Paul Manafort will tell the truth” part and merely said “The President did nothing wrong.”

Letter Alleges Brett Kavanaugh Tried To Rape When In High School. Is The Nomination Jeopardized?

Ken AshfordCongress, Political Scandals, Republicans, Supreme Court, Women's IssuesLeave a Comment

NY Times:

WASHINGTON — A secretive letter shared with authorities by the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee charges that a teenage Brett M. Kavanaugh and a male friend trapped a teenage girl in a bedroom during a party and tried to assault her, according to three people familiar with the contents of the letter.

According to the letter, Mr. Kavanaugh, then a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in suburban Washington and now President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, had been drinking at a social gathering when he and the male friend took the teenage girl into a bedroom. The door was locked, and she was thrown on the bed, the letter says. Mr. Kavanaugh then got on top of the teenager and put a hand over her mouth, as the music was turned up, according to the account.
But the young woman was able to extricate herself and leave the room before anything else occurred, the letter says.

The woman considered the incident an assault. She has declined to be publicly identified, and asked Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, not to publicize the letter.

The episode took place more than 30 years ago, when all three individuals involved were minors. The New York Times has not seen the letter, but its contents were described by the three people.
In a statement shared by the White House, Mr. Kavanaugh said the charges were false.

“I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation,” he said. “I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

As of Friday morning, senators were still planning to move ahead with Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation. The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a key vote to advance the nomination next Thursday, and Republican leaders hope to hold a final vote of the full Senate before the end of September to allow Mr. Kavanaugh to be seated before the start of the Supreme Court’s fall term.

On Thursday, the White House all but accused Democrats of playing dirty, withholding mysterious information until the eve of Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation in a last-ditch effort to derail a nominee they have always opposed.

“Senator Schumer promised to ‘oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination with everything I have,’ and it appears he is delivering with this 11th-hour attempt to delay his confirmation,” said Kerri Kupec, a White House spokeswoman, referring to the top Senate Democrat, Chuck Schumer. Aides to Mr. Schumer said he had not seen the letter.

Maybe I’m too cynical. I just don’t believe this will change one Republican vote.  He’ll be confirmed.

UPDATE:

From CNN:

Both men were drunk, she said, and Kavanaugh attempted to remove her clothes.

At one point, Kavanaugh was on top of her laughing as the other male in the room periodically jumped onto Kavanaugh.

And Republicans are trying to counter the publicity by bringing out all the women he DIDN’T rape

A Weakened Florence Hits The NC Coast

Ken AshfordDisasters, Local Interest, WeatherLeave a Comment

After lingering for days, Hurricane Florence hit the NC coast this morning.  It had slowly been downgraded over the past two days, so it hit as a Category One.  Still pretty serious.

The real threat from Florence isn’t the wind; it’s the rain coupled with its slow speed.  This morning, Wilmington got hit with heavy winds, knocking down trees and taking power out.  But that might be it for wind damage.  Now comes the water damage.

A tree uprooted by strong winds lies across a street in Wilmington, N.C., after Hurricane Florence made landfall Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Florence has veered southward so the Piedmont of NC (where I am) will not get hit too badly.  Maybe 2-5 inches of rain.  But we are in for LOTS of rainy days ahead.

RELATED: Meanwhile Trump is battling the media and, well, everybody, by claiming that the death toll in Puerto Rico was NOT 3000, but actually 16.  Trump claims the number was generated by Democrats to make him look bad.

Some are calling it Trump’s worst tweet, which is an honor that has much competition.

Deficit Doves

Ken AshfordClass Warfare, Corporate Greed, Economy & Jobs & Deficit, Occupy Wall StreetLeave a Comment

Remember when Republicans cared about the deficit?  No longer:

The federal deficit hit $895 billion in the first 11 months of fiscal 2018, an increase of $222 billion, or 32 percent, over the same period the previous year, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The nonpartisan CBO reported that the central drivers of the increasing deficit were the Republican tax law and the bipartisan agreement to increase spending. As a result, revenue only rose 1 percent, failing to keep up with a 7 percent surge in spending, it added.

Revenue from individual and payroll taxes was up some $105 billion, or 4 percent, while corporate taxes fell $71 billion, or 30 percent.

The August statistics were somewhat inflated, however, due to a timing shift for certain payments, putting the deficit measure through August slightly out of sync with the previous year, the CBO noted. Had it not been for the timing shift, the deficit would have increased $154 billion instead of $222 billion.

Earlier analysis from CBO projected that deficits would near $1 trillion in 2019 and surpass that amount the following year.

This is absurd.  Deficits should go up during times of economic strife and recovery, because you are borrowing money.  But not during good times economically.

Why don’t Republicans care?  Because they are benefiting from the tax cuts which cause the deficit.  Plus, it gives them an excuse to shut down federal programs.

Lots of Money Transferred After Infamous Trump Tower Meeting

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

The Trumps made a “flurry” of suspicious financial transactions following Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian intelligence asset in Trump Tower, reports BuzzFeed News.

According to the new report, just after the meeting “a complex web of financial transactions among some of the planners and participants who moved money from Russia and Switzerland to the British Virgin Islands, Bangkok, and a small office park in New Jersey.”

The key figure is Putin-allied oligarch Aras Agalarov, who also has ties to Donald Trump. Following the meeting, Agalarov transfered money to “at least two people” who attended the meeting.

Then, after the election, there was a second flurry of transfers.

“The Agalarov family started sending what would amount to $1.2 million from their bank in Russia to an account in New Jersey controlled by the billionaire’s son, pop singer Emin Agalarov, and two of his friends,” BuzzFeed reports. “The account had been virtually dormant since the summer of 2015, according to records reviewed by BuzzFeed News, and bankers found it strange that activity in Emin Agalarov’s checking account surged after Trump’s victory.”

Another piece of interesting timing: The first transfer happened on June 20, the same day Trump fired campaign manager Lewandowski so he could put Paul Manafort in charge. Manafort famously refused to take a salary, but on the same day Agalarov used a company called Silver Valley Consulting to move millions.

I’m not sure what to make of it. It could be a coincidence.  I’m sure Mueller is already on this.

Florence Update

Ken AshfordLocal Interest, WeatherLeave a Comment

Hmmmm.  We might be okay where we are as it appears that it will turn southerly and go through South, rather than North, Carolina.  We’ll still get rains though in the outer bands.

That said, this tweet is disturbing if only because he’s right:

Disaster Days

Ken AshfordDisasters, Trump & Administration, War on Terrorism/Torture, WeatherLeave a Comment

It’s 9/11 again.  Seventeen years ago.  This date is starting tom make me feel old.

And we have a potential disaster by the name of Florence looming off the coast.

So what does our President do?

Well, in between tweets about 9/11 (he is watching TV), he is attacking the DOJ and the FBI.  How patriotic.

But then he left the White House to attend a 9/11 ceremony at Shanksville, PA, where he did this:

9/11!  Fuck yeah!

On this September 11, it is factual to note the following about Trump: On the very day of the attacks, he bragged that the destruction of the World Trade Center meant that he now had the tallest building in lower Manhattan…,

He later claimed – with no evidence – that “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated 9/11. When reporters pointed out his 9/11 falsehoods, he chose to mock them – notably imitating the NYT’s Serge Kovaleski, who has a congenital joint condition

Plus this:

Turning to Florence, the news remains the same.  She’s heading this way with a powerful punch:

Mandatory evacuations are underway for parts of the U.S. East Coast, including the completes coasts of both North and South Carolina. The storm’s wet and windy punch is expected to hit the Carolinas within 48 hours. Federal, state, local officials are coordinating their efforts.

Those like me who are inland are not out of the woods. 

Meteorologists fear that Hurricane Harvey-style rainfall could deluge the Carolinas causing massive freshwater flooding reminiscent of the devastation in Texas last year, which killed 68 people and caused $125 billion in damage.

Florence, which may have strengthened to near Category 5 strength, is expected to make a direct hit in the northernmost part of South Carolina or North Carolina. Rather than continuing to churn north along the coast, the hurricane is expected to strike the coast head-on and move inland, allowing it to dump vast quantities of water—perhaps more than 30 inches in places—as it slows down.

But don’t forget about toxic sludge:

Hurricane Florence’s potential for destruction also includes increased risks for the environment and public health as torrential rains could overwhelm the pits where toxic waste from power plants is stored. Animal-manure lagoons are also at risk of flooding.

Duke Energy Corp. was ordered two years ago to clean up coal-ash ponds in North Carolina that posed risks to the environment and public health. The company won’t be done in time for the storm, leaving the sites vulnerable to spills that can unleash the waste. The state is also a major producer of poultry and hogs, and man-made lagoons that hold manure also could be at risk of overflowing into fields and nearby waterways.

Florence continues to grow in size and strength, now poised to become the strongest hurricane in almost 30 years to hit the Carolinas as more than 1 million people began fleeing the U.S. coastline.

Duke came under pressure to address coal-ash storage after about 39,000 tons spilled in 2014 from a pond near Eden, North Carolina. In 2016, the state gave the company until Aug. 1, 2019, to dig up and close some coal-ash pits and almost a decade more to deal with others. Duke has begun work at several high-risk sites

Trump Takes A Hit In The Polls

Ken AshfordPolls, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Two new polls that came out today affirm a sag in Trump’s standing:

Quinnipiac has Trump at 38% approve, 54% disapprove… while Gallup has him at 40% approve, 54% disapprove

The Quinnipeac poll takes a deeper dive on Trump:

60–32% is not honest
57–38% does not have good leadership skills
55-41% does not care about average Americans
65–30% not level-headed
57-39% is a strong person
51-42% is intelligent
60-33% does not share voters’ values

Also in the Quinnipiac poll:

American voters believe 55 – 28 percent anonymous allegations that senior aides to President Donald Trump work behind his back to keep him from making what the aides believe are bad decisions.

Republicans don’t believe these accounts 52 – 27 percent, the only listed party, gender, education, age or racial group which does not believe that aides are working behind the president’s back.

None of this is good for Trump or Republicans as we move into the midterms.

UPDATE —

CNN poll out today too.  It puts Trump at 36% approve – 58% disapprove,  Back in August, it was 42/53.  So that’s a net -11 to a net -22 in one month.  Most of the drop was from independents who disapprove of Trump at 65% now compared to 55% a month ago.

Serena Williams And The Sexist Double Standard

Ken AshfordRace, Red Sox & Other Sports, Women's IssuesLeave a Comment

On Saturday, Serena Williams, winner of  23 Grand Slam singles titles,  lost to  Naomi Osaka in the finals of the U.S. Open.  Osaka was the better player and deserved to win. But the contest was marred by bad reffing.  Well, that’s one way to look at it.

Williams’s eruption came in the second set of Saturday’s U.S. Open final — a finger-pointing tirade at chair umpire Carlos Ramos that drew her third penalty of the match; cost her a game when she stood just two games from defeat to 20-year-old Naomi Osaka, who was by far the better and steadier player; and, on Sunday, resulted in a $17,000 fine.

After Williams’s rage subsided and the trophies were awarded — with Williams playing peacemaker, calling on the New York crowd to quit booing and celebrate Osaka, who wept through what should have been her shining moment following her 6-2, 6-4 triumph — Williams started an overdue conversation on two issues that tennis has dodged for too long:

● A rule book that is sorely in need of overhaul and capriciously applied — particularly on widely violated infractions such as foot faults and impermissible coaching. (It was a rarely called coaching violation that triggered the first strike against Williams on Saturday.)

● A double standard for men and women regarding on-court decorum, whether that’s Williams getting slapped with her third violation in Saturday’s final for berating Ramos and calling him a “thief” for docking her a point or French player Alizé Cornet being penalized earlier in the tournament for changing her shirt on-court under sweltering conditions — as is male players’ right. As Williams put it in her post-match interview: “I’ve seen other men call other umpires several things. I’m here fighting for women’s rights and for women’s equality and for all kinds of stuff. . . . He has never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief.’ ”

She is right on both counts.  Nearly 24 hours later, the Women’s Tennis Association acknowledged Williams’s point in a statement released Sunday night. “The WTA believes that there should be no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men vs. women and is committed to working with the sport to ensure that all players are treated the same. We do not believe that this was done [Saturday] night.”

Not surprisingly, they didn’t see it that way on Fox News. Instead, what they saw was a (black) athlete who didn’t know her place.

Nearly 24 hours later, the Women’s Tennis Association acknowledged Williams’s point in a statement released Sunday night. “The WTA believes that there should be no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men vs. women and is committed to working with the sport to ensure that all players are treated the same. We do not believe that this was done [Saturday] night.”

Unfortunately, the talk of the US Open isn’t about Serena’s defeat or Osaka’s win, but the referee. 

Storm’s a Comin’

Ken AshfordLocal Interest, WeatherLeave a Comment

Purge Cache (All Pages)

UPDATE….

Weekly List 95

Ken AshfordWeekly ListLeave a Comment

This week, the country watched the contentious Senate hearings for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Senator Patrick Leahy called it the “most incomplete, most partisan, least transparent” vetting of a Supreme Court nominee in his forty-four years in the senate. As hearings wrapped up, questions linger about whether Kavanaugh has lied under oath in this and past judicial hearings, as well as whether Trump had selected Kavanaugh, who was not on his 2016 campaign list, in order to protect himself from the Mueller probe.

This week was also dominated by previews of Bob Woodward’s upcoming book “Fear” on Trump’s White House, and an explosive opinion piece in the Times by an anonymous senior official in the Trump regime. Both seemed to suggest that Trump is unfit for office, and his White House is operating chaotically, potentially exposing the country to danger. Trump lashed out, seeking to discredit Woodward, and summoning his Justice Department to investigate the NYT for what he described as “treason.”

As the week came to a close, former President Obama re-emerged on the national political scene, two months ahead of midterms, calling out Trump by name, and rallying voters to be engaged. As with the funeral of Sen. John McCain in Week 94, Obama’s presence, in sharp contrast to Trump, served as a reminder of how far from normalcy our country has strayed since Trump took office.

  1. ABC News reported press secretary Sarah Sanders spent a combined three hours and 58 minutes at 13 press briefings during June, July, and August — significantly less than last summer and in prior administrations.
  2. WAPO reported that after 592 days in office, Trump has made 4,713 false or misleading claims. Although he averaged 4.9 claims per day in his first 100 days, in the past 3 months he has averaged 15.4 false claims per day.
  3. After June with 534 false or misleading claims, August ranked second with 469 claims. Immigration is the top source of Trump’s misleading claims, now totaling 592 claims.
  4. NYT compiled a list of Trump ethical lapses in the Trump regime so far. First, five who have been convicted of or have pleaded guilty to crimes five, including Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, Rick Gates, and Michael Flynn.
  5. Second, seven current and former Cabinet officials have misspent taxpayer money or violated ethics rules, including Scott Pruitt, Ben Carson, David Shulkin, Wilbur Ross, Tom Price, Brenda Fitzgerald, and Nikki Haley.
  6. Finally, four current or former White House staffers have security or ethics issues, including Rob Porter, Dan Scavino Jr., Kellyanne Conway, and John McEntee.
  7. In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee last Friday, Trump said he will not release 102,000 pages of records from Kavanaugh’s tenure for George W. Bush, claiming they would be covered by executive privilege.
  8. On Sunday talk shows, Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee spoke out against Trump’s refusal to release records. Dick Durbin said there’s “more concealment of documents…than ever in the history” of the country, and Amy Klobuchar said, “This is not normal.”
  9. On Sunday, Axios reported Omarosa taped nearly every conversation she had while working in the White House. She carried two phones, allowing her to record conversations she was having on one phone on the other.
  10. On Sunday, in an op-ed at the Des Moines Register, Mollie Tibbett’s father asked that people not distort her death to advance racist views: “On behalf of my family and Mollie’s memory, I’m imploring you to stop.”
  11. An Idaho white supremacist group placed a robocall in Florida targeting Democrat Andrew Gillum, saying “Well hello there. I is Andrew Gillum,” and in the background are sounds of drums and monkeys.
  12. The calls end saying they were funded by The Road to Power, an anti-Semitic, white supremacist website, which also did robocalls in Week 94 using the death of Mollie Tibbetts to promote white supremacist messages.
  13. On Sunday, members at the North Austin Muslim Community Center in Austin, Texas said someone tried to break into their building. Photos show shattered glass on the front door and side entrance.
  14. Vassar College said the students responsible for creating and distributing a “disorientation” guide that is “provocative of violence and anti-Semitism” distributed to incoming freshmen last week will face penalties.
  15. On Monday, New Yorker editor David Remnick canceled a scheduled appearance by Steve Bannon at the magazine’s October festival, after a social media backlash and several notables pulled out in protest.
  16. On Wednesday, the Atlantic reported Daily Caller writer and editor Scott Greer wrote under a pseudonym for an alt-right website associated with Richard Spencer. Greer severed ties with The Daily Caller after the Atlantic reporting.
  17. On Wednesday, the Justice Department issued subpoenas demanding millions of North Carolina voter records be turned over to ICE by September 25, threatening chaos two months ahead of midterms.
  18. The secretive move appeared to be part of an effort to crack down on unauthorized voting, after federal officials announced 19 noncitizens in North Carolina were charged last week with casting illegal votes in 2016.
  19. Critics speculated the move was a continuation of the work by the Trump regime’s Election Integrity Commission, which was disbanded in January after finding no evidence of significant fraud or a corrupt voting system.
  20. On Thursday, ProPublica reported internal documents from a Chicago shelter for migrant children forcibly separated from their parents, one of the nation’s largest networks for unaccompanied minors, reveal despair and tedium.
  21. Documents reveal children considering suicide, going on a hunger strike, contemplating escape. A 10-month-old boy was repeatedly bitten by an older child and later hospitalized after falling from a highchair.
  22. On Thursday, the Trump regime announced a new rule which would allow immigrant children with their parents to be held in detention indefinitely, upending a ban on indefinite detention in place since 1997.
  23. The rule proposed by the departments Homeland Security and Health and Human Services is meant to terminate the Flores settlement agreement which says children must be released in 20 days, citing court backlogs can drag out the time immigrants must wait.
  24. On Thursday, in a court document, the Trump regime said 416 migrant children separated under Trump’s zero-tolerance policy have yet to be reunited with their parents, 14 of which are under 5 years-old.
  25. On Monday, NBC News anchor Chuck Todd said in an op-ed it was time for the press to stop complaining and start fighting back, citing Trump’s “campaign to destroy the legitimacy of the American news media.”
  26. On Tuesday, Trump shot back at “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd of Fake NBC News” in a tweet, saying of the media they have been fighting: “They’ve gone all out, and I WON, and now they’re going CRAZY!”
  27. Trump also called out “NBC FAKE NEWS” over their killing of the Harvey Weinstein story, and again called for reexamining NBC’s TV license, which it does not have. The FCC does not issue licenses to TV networks.
  28. On Tuesday, in an interview with The Daily Caller, Trump said of NBC and their pattern of alleged corruption, “Well, not only NBC, I think the media, large segments of the, not all, large segments of the media are corrupt.”
  29. Trump also said about Chuck Todd, “He’s Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd. He covers me very dishonestly,” and of CNN commentator Ana Navarro, “she’s sick. I mean, she’s sick.”
  30. Trump told The Daily Caller on the topic of Mueller, “I could give you 100 pictures of him and Comey hugging and kissing each other. You know, he’s Comey’s best friend.” No such pictures have been made public.
  31. On Monday, The Young Turks reported federal documents show at least two former clients of FEMA Administrator William “Brock” Long have received FEMA contracts totaling more than $14 million.
  32. Long joined FEMA in June 2017 after six years at Hagerty Consulting, a disaster consulting firm. Eagle Hill won a $53k contract from FEMA, while Booz Allen got multiples contracts totaling approximately $14 million.
  33. On Tuesday, AP reported analysis completed by Trump’s EPA concluded that the rollback of pollution rules would lead to a greater number of people dying prematurely and suffering health problems in coal country.
  34. The EPA analysis found Trump’s plan would lead to thousands more heart attacks, asthma problems, and other illnesses that would not have occurred under the Obama administration’s plan.
  35. On Thursday, the Guardian reported, according to documents released under the FOIA, a government photographer edited official pictures of Trump’s inauguration to make the crowd appear bigger.
  36. Documents provided by the inspector general of the Department of Interior reveal an early morning call between Trump and the acting National Park Service director, Michael Reynolds on January 21, 2017.
  37. Documents also show that Sean Spicer, then White House press secretary, called NPS officials repeatedly that same day to follow up on making the photos more flattering.
  38. On Monday, Nike revealed Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who drew Trump’s ire by kneeling during the national anthem, as a face of its campaign for the 30th anniversary of “Just Do It.”
  39. The caption for Kaepernick read: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” Kaepernick has sued the NFL for collusion, citing no team would employ him up after he protested.
  40. On Tuesday, in an interview with The Daily Caller, Trump said Nike sent a “terrible message” picking Kaepernick, and added Nike was a tenant of his and paid “a lot of rent,” referring to its Niketown store on East 57th Street.
  41. Trump supporters responded by trending #BoycottNike, and showing photos and videos on social media of Nike products being set on fire, cut up, or otherwise destroyed.
  42. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “Just like the NFL, whose ratings have gone WAY DOWN, Nike is getting absolutely killed with anger and boycotts,” adding, of the NFL, “I just find it hard to watch, and always will, until they stand for the FLAG!”
  43. On Friday, Edison Trends reported Nike sales grew 31% from the Sunday of Labor Day weekend through Tuesday, as compared with a 17% gain in the prior year. Nike’s stock also rebounded back.
  44. On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for Kavanaugh began. Hours before the hearing, the White House sent 42,000 pages of documents to the committee that had been previously withheld.
  45. Democrats complained that William Burck, a private attorney who is a Kavanaugh associate, and works for George W. Bush and worked with Bush’s presidential library, is deciding which documents can be released.
  46. Democrats also complained just 4% of Kavanaugh’s White House records have been made public, and 7% have been made available to the committee. That compares to 99% of Justice Elena Kagan’s White House records.
  47. Women dressed as handmaids from the Hulu series, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” stood lining the halls outside the hearing room.
  48. U.S. Capitol Police said they had made 70 arrests on the first day of hearings, which was marked by frequent outbursts by protestors.
  49. On Tuesday, in an interview with The Daily Caller, Trump called the anti-Kavanaugh protestors “an embarrassment to the country,” adding, “in the old days, we used to throw them out.”
  50. On Wednesday, the second day of Kavanaugh hearings, the number of seats for the public were reduced by half, from 48 to 24. Following media inquiries, the committee restored the full 48 seats six hours later.
  51. NYT reported on hundreds of pages of emails detailing Maria Butina’s work with former N.R.A president David Keene, and his wife Donna, a Washington D.C. lobbyist, to pursue a big pay day for brokering jet fuel.
  52. On Sunday, NYT reported the FBI and Justice Department attempted to gain cooperation from roughly a half-dozen Russian oligarchs. Bruce Ohr and Christopher Steele were involved in the effort.
  53. Between 2014 and 2016, agents unsuccessfully tried to turn Oleg Deripaska into an informant to get information on Russian organized crime and later on Russian aid to Trump’s 2016 campaign.
  54. The Daily Beast reported Nell Hughes, a highly-visible Trump surrogate on CNN during the 2016 election, took a new job with Russian-state media outlet, RT.
  55. On Tuesday, NYT reported Mueller’s team told Trump’s lawyers in a letter that they will accept written answers from Trump on whether his campaign conspired with Russia’s election interference.
  56. Mueller did not say he was giving up on an interview altogether, including on questions of obstruction of justice; but the tone of the letter indicates the scope may be more limited than Trump’s team initially believed.
  57. On Thursday, Rudy Giuliani told AP early in the day that Trump would not voluntarily submit to an interview. Later, he told Politico Trump would provide some written answers, and has not ruled out an interview.
  58. On Wednesday, U.K. authorities charged two men it says are Russian G.R.U. military intelligence officers, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, with the nerve-agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal.
  59. Prime Minister May said the use of a chemical weapon, which left a British woman dead and four people seriously ill, was carried out by officers and was almost certainly approved “at a senior level of the Russian state.”
  60. Reuters reported PM May had briefed Trump on Tuesday evening, ahead of the charges. Trump did not issue any comment or tweet.
  61. On Wednesday, NYT reported Mueller’ team subpoenaed Jerome Corsi, a conspiracy theorist with links to Roger Stone, to testify on Friday before a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. on Russia’s election interference.
  62. Corsi, who previously worked for Alex Jones’ Infowars, was also one of the people whom Trump, before he was a candidate, contacted for information Obama’s birth certificate in pressing the false birther claim.
  63. Corsi did not testify on Friday. His attorney spoke to Mueller’s office Thursday to negotiate a voluntary interview for his client in lieu of a grand jury appearance. The topic is thought to be Corsi’s contacts with Stone.
  64. Corsi shared research with Stone around the same time Stone said he was in contact with Julian Assange and had advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ releases of the hacked emails.
  65. On Friday, radio host Randy Credico, an associate of Stone, with a dog in tow, testified before Mueller’s grand jury. Credico’s attorney said, “Mr. Credico’s testimony was concerning his relationship with Roger Stone.”
  66. On Tuesday, WAPO reported on Bob Woodward’s upcoming book, “Fear,” which is drawn from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand participants and witnesses that were conducted on “deep background.”
  67. The book describes John Dowd conducting a mock interview with Trump about the Russia investigation, which provoked stumbles, contradictions and lies from Trump. Dowd said Trump could end up in “an orange jumpsuit” if he testifies.
  68. Trump’s national security team was shaken by his lack of curiosity and knowledge about world affairs, and contempt of mainstream perspectives. Jim Mattis said Trump had the understanding of a “a fifth- or sixth-grader.”
  69. Gary Cohn removed documents from Trump’s desk to avoid him signing. Trump said of his initial speechafter Charlottesville condemning white supremacists, “That was the biggest fucking mistake I’ve made.”
  70. On Tuesday, Trump tweeted the book “has already been refuted and discredited” by Chief of Staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary Mattis, saying, “their quotes were made up frauds,” and “Woodward is a Dem operative.”
  71. Trump also tweeted the book, “has me calling Jeff Sessions “mentally retarded” and “a dumb southerner.” I said NEITHER,” adding, “never used those terms on anyone.” A video surfaced of Trump saying “retarded
  72. Trump also told The Daily Caller that Woodward had not interviewed him for the book, saying, “I probably would have preferred to speak to him, but maybe not…He wanted to write the book a certain way.”
  73. WAPO released the audio of Woodward seeking an interview with Trump as he was writing the book. Trump said no, and then called Woodward in August to say he would participate after the manuscript was done.
  74. On Wednesday, Axios reported Trump’s White House was caught flat-footed and unprepared by the explosive content in Woodward’s book, and that no one had seen an advance copy, similar to Omarosa’s book.
  75. On Wednesday, press secretary Sanders told “Good Morning America” that Woodward’s hundreds of hours of tapes are probably come from “disgruntled former employees” and “a lot of anonymous sources.”
  76. On Wednesday, Trump tweeted a statement by Kelly, denying a passage in Woodward’s book that he called Trump an “idiot” and other negative things: “The idea I ever called the President an idiot is not true.”
  77. Trump also tweeted out a statement by Mattis denying what is attributed to him in the book. Trump wrote, “Thank you General Mattis, book is boring & untrue!”
  78. Throughout, Woodward said he stood by his reporting. He provided CNN a copy of a letter Cohn stole from Trump’s desk described in the book, which would have terminated a free trade deal with South Korea.
  79. On Wednesday, Vanity Fair reported after news of the Woodward book broke, “pandemonium” broke out as the West Wing came to a standstill. Current and former staffers pointed the finger in all directions for leaks.
  80. Reportedly after the McCain funeral, Ivanka and Kushner told Trump that if they are going to last in Washington, he needs to get control of himself, saying they cannot be this far off the mark with the establishment.
  81. On Tuesday, Bill Graves, the former Republican governor of Kansas, endorsed the Democrat running for governor, Laura Kelly, over GOP nominee Kris Kobach.
  82. On Tuesday, in the Massachusetts primary, Ayanna Pressley — a black, female, Bostonian — sent shock waves after beating 10-term incumbent Michael Capuano by 17 points for a congressional seat once held by J.F.K.
  83. On Wednesday, at a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg testified, “We were too slow to spot this and too slow to act” relating to Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  84. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testified the company found itself unprepared and ill-equipped for the immensity of the problems it faced: abuse, harassment, troll armies, propaganda and misinformation.
  85. Google, which has been under attack from Trump and his allies for allegedly rigging search results against Trump and conservatives, did not show up for the hearings.
  86. Outside the Senate Intelligence hearings, Alex Jones taunted Sen. Marco Rubio as he was speaking to the media, calling him a “little gangster thug” and “frat boy.” After Jones patted him, Rubio said, “not to touch me again.”
  87. On Thursday, joining Facebook, Apple, and Google, Twitter permanently suspended Alex Jones’s account, as well as the account for Infowars, citing, “videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behavior policy.”
  88. On Monday, Trump blasted attorney general Sessions, tweeting, “investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen” were charged right before midterms, saying Democrats, “must love him now.”
  89. On Wednesday, Sessions announced he was gathering state attorneys general to examine whether tech companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter are “intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas” online.
  90. On Friday, WAPO reported Democratic attorneys general have not yet been invited by Sessions to the Justice Department’s upcoming review of tech companies, prompting charges that the inquiry is a politically motivated attack.
  91. Attorneys general from two tech hubs, California and New York, as well as officials from Connecticut and Washington, which are active on issues related to technology, consumer protection, and antitrust, were not invited.
  92. On Wednesday, a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation poll found Trump’s approval rating has dropped to 37%. This third poll follows two polls in Week 94 which found his approval had dropped to 36%.
  93. On Thursday, a weekly survey conducted for The Economist found Trump’s approval rating had fallen to 38%, two points above his all-time low in December. His approval was pulled down by college-educated whites.
  94. On Wednesday, NYT published an anonymous op-ed by a senior Trump official who claimed to be part of the resistance inside the Trump regime who have vowed to “thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”
  95. The official wrote “the root of the problem” is Trump’s “amorality,” adding, “he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making,” and he is “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.”
  96. The official wrote that there were “early whispers” of the Cabinet invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump, but decided instead to avoid a constitutional crisis and work within the administration to contain him.
  97. On Wednesday, WAPO reported Trump reacted to the NYT op-ed with “volcanic” anger and was “absolutely livid” over what he considered a treasonous act of disloyalty. Trump tweeted, “TREASON?”
  98. Trump also questioned in a tweet, does the “so-called “Senior Administration Official” really exist,” or whether it was the “Failing New York Times with another phony source?”
  99. Trump also tweeted that if the “GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist,” then, falsely claiming, theTimes should “for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!
  100. Trump was angered by a line in the op-ed calling Sen. John McCain “a lodestar for restoring honor to public life and our national dialogue.” NYT’s editor said the op-ed came in before the Woodward story broke.
  101. The op-ed put White House is disarray as aides canceled meetings and huddled behind closed doors to strategize on a response. Aides said it was hard to narrow down the person, saying it could be so many people.
  102. WAPO also reported prior the op-ed there was a dwindling circle of people Trump felt he could trust. After the op-ed, a source said Trump fretted that he could only trust his children.
  103. On Wednesday and Thursday, one by one, Trump’s cabinet, Vice President Pence and others senior officials came forward to deny writing the op-ed. NYT reported Trump’s White House had a list of about 12 suspects.
  104. Trump ally Sen. Rand Paul recommended that Trump force members of his regime to take polygraph examinations. Another proposal by aides was asking senior officials to sign sworn affidavits that could be used in court.
  105. On Thursday, NYT reported Kim Jong-un offered an olive branch to Trump, telling a South Korean envoythat he wanted to denuclearize North Korea before Trump’s first term ends.
  106. On Thursday, without context, Trump tweeted, “Kim Jong Un of North Korea proclaims “unwavering faith in President Trump,”” thanking “Chairman Kim,” and saying “We will get it done together!”
  107. On Thursday, in a Fox News interview, Trump said of the person who wrote the op-ed, “may not be a Republican, it may not be a conservative, it may be a deep state person who has been there for a long time.”
  108. On Thursday, Trump tweeted, “The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy — & they don’t know what to do.”
  109. On Thursday, First Lady Melania Trump said in a statement the free press is “important to our democracy,” but to the op-ed writer, “you are not protecting this country, you are sabotaging it with your cowardly actions.”
  110. On Friday, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that Sessions “should be investigating who the author of that piece was” saying the NYT op-ed is a “national security” issue.
  111. Hours later, a White House official tried to clarify Trump’s comments about wanting the Justice Department to investigate, saying they did not amount to an order to federal prosecutors.
  112. On Friday, Trump told North Dakota television station KVLY that he can identify up to five people who could have written the anonymous op-ed, adding, “mostly people that either I don’t like or don’t respect.”
  113. Trump also told KVLY that the issue is “reverberating in the opposite direction,” saying people think it is “disgusting” that the Times would publish such a piece.
  114. On Wednesday, Sen. Kamala Harris grilled Kavanaugh about whether he had discussed Mueller’s investigation with any individuals at Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz’s law firm. Kavanaugh avoided answering directly.
  115. On Thursday, NYT reported on leaked Kavanaugh documents it obtained. As a lawyer for the W. Bush administration, he challenged the accuracy of Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision to be “settled law of the land.
  116. Kavanaugh also engaged with the DOJ in what became the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program, and was critical about some Department of Transportation affirmative action regulations.
  117. On Thursday, Sen. Cory Booker released confidential documents relating to Kavanaugh’s views on racial profiling, saying, “I’m knowingly violating the rules,” and “I openly accept the consequences.”
  118. Several other Democrats, including Sens. Dick Durbin, Mazie Hirono, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Richard Blumenthal said they also planned to release confidential documents or reserved the right do so in the future.
  119. When asked by Sen. Booker if he would recuse himself from the Mueller probe, Kavanaugh answered no, saying, “All I would be doing is demonstrating that I don’t have the independence of the judiciary.”
  120. Sen. Blumenthal asked Kavanaugh if like his predecessor Justice Neil Gorsuch, he would condemn Trump’s attacks on the judiciary, Kavanaugh said he did not want to “get within three Zip codes” of such a political controversy.
  121. On Thursday, when Sen. Harris pressed Kavanaugh again on whether he had a conversation with anyone at Kasowitz Benson Torres about the Mueller probe, after initially dodging, he answered, “The answer is no.”
  122. On Thursday, Mother Jones summarized the five times Kavanaugh appears to have lied to Congress while under oath, including saying he knew nothing about warrantless wiretapping and torture in a 2006 hearing.
  123. In 2004, Kavanaugh said he had not “personally” worked on the nomination of Judge Pryor for W. Bush, and in 2006 downplayed his role in the nomination of Charles Pickering, a controversial judicial appointee.
  124. In 2002 he was a White House lawyer working on judicial nominations when Manuel Miranda, a GOP aide on the Senate Judiciary Committee, stole thousands of documents belonging to the committee’s Democratic staff.
  125. On Friday, a former Democratic staffer who wrote some of the stolen confidential emails Kavanaugh received from Miranda, said Kavanaugh for should be impeached for lying about it.
  126. Citing the op-ed, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat, tweeted, “Kavanaugh used materials stolen from Democratic senators to advance President Bush’s judicial nominees. He was asked about this in 2004, 2006 and this week. His answers were not true.”
  127. According to U.S. Capitol Police, at least 227 demonstrators, mostly women, were arrested between the start of the nomination hearings on Tuesday and the end of testimony on Friday.
  128. On Thursday, Trump held a rally in Montana, for the second time since July 4. Sections of the arena were empty, and the crowd was silent at times during his speech, which lasted for over an hour.
  129. Before his speech, Trump did an interview with Fox News at the arena, which aired Friday morning on “Fox & Friends.”
  130. In the interview, Trump accused the NYT of “virtually” committing “treason” by publishing the anonymous op-ed. Trump also said the author must be “fairly low level,” and suggested they could be a “deep state person.”
  131. In his speech, Trump told the audience they had to show up at the polls, saying, “this election, you aren’t just voting for a candidate, just before bringing up what he called “the impeachment word.”
  132. Trump said Democrats will impeach him, regardless of whether he has done something to merit it, impersonating Rep. Maxine Waters and saying, “It doesn’t matter, you will impeach him!”
  133. Trump also said his impeachment would be strictly political, saying it would start of a cycle of impeachment, “If the opposite party becomes president, every time before it even starts.”
  134. Trump praised Rep. Greg Gianforte, who in Week 28 body-slammed a reporter, mimicking the move while speaking, “This man has fought in more ways than one, for your state…He is a fighter and a winner.”
  135. A 17 year-old senior at Billings’ West High School who stood behind Trump drew national attention for his facial expressions, interpreted as looks as disbelief, and mouthing the word, “Have you?”
  136. Tyler Linfesty said before the rally he was told, “you have to be enthusiastic and be clapping and cheering.”He was escorted off-stage, then he said the Secret Service agents took him to a back room and looked at his ID.
  137. On Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren told CNN that Trump should be removed from office, saying if senior officials think “the President of the United States is not able to do his job, then they should invoke the 25th Amendment.”
  138. On Friday, NBC News reported, according to experts, a majority of the country’s voting machines and the PCs that tally the votes are not reliable. Most voting machines are close to 15 years old.
  139. Despite U.S. intelligence finding Russia compromised seven states prior to the 2016 election, little progress has been made in the two years since to improve matters. Lack of funding is cited by state voting officials.
  140. On Friday, Papadopoulos was sentenced in federal court in Washington to 14 days in prison for lying to the FBI. Papadopoulos is the first former Trump campaign aide to be sentenced in Mueller probe.
  141. Prosecutors said Papadopoulos repeatedly lied in January 2017 interview with investigators, which hampered the Russia probe at a critical moment, allowing professor Joseph Mifsud to leave the U.S. in February 2017.
  142. The judge stressed the importance of the investigation to the integrity of American democracy, saying determining whether a foreign government interfered in the electoral process was “a matter of enormous importance.”
  143. Trump mocked the sentence, tweeting, “14 days for $28 MILLION — $2 MILLION a day, No Collusion. A great day for America!” This is a false claim: the Mueller probe has secured other guilty pleas and indictments.
  144. On Friday, Papadopoulos told the Times he had “no recollection” of telling any Trump advisers about the emails supposedly in Russia’s hands. He said a call with Stephen Miller that was scheduled later that day was canceled.
  145. Papadopoulos also claimed he had no memory of discussing the dirt about Hillary Clinton in May 2016 with Alexander Downer, the top Australian diplomat in London, which prompted the FBI to open its investigations.
  146. On Friday, in a court filing by the Democratic National Committee in its suit against Russia, the Trump campaign, and WikiLeaks for interfering in the 2016 election, DNC lawyers say professor Joseph Mifsud may be dead.
  147. The filing say DNC lawyers believe all the defendants in the case have been served with the complaint, “with the exception of Mifsud (who is missing and may be deceased).” The lawyers did not elaborate further.
  148. On Friday, Bloomberg reported Manafort is considering a plea deal to avoid a second criminal trial in September. Manafort faces as long as 10 years in prison under advisory sentencing guidelines in the Virginia case.
  149. It is not clear if Manafort would cooperate in Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, although experts expect Mueller would require it. Manafort faces emotional and financial costs in a second trial.
  150. On Friday, Bloomberg reported in a follow-up to the Cohen conviction, federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether anyone else at the Trump Organization violated campaign-finance laws.
  151. The Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg cooperated with the Cohen probe, with limited immunity. Trump Organization is a stable of private companies run by Donald Jr. and Eric since Trump took office.
  152. On Friday, Trump told reporters, “Canada has been ripping us off for a long time.” Later, at his speech in North Dakota, Trump threatened tariffs on cars, which he said would cause the “ruination” of Canada.
  153. Also at his rally in North Dakota, Trump called Woodward an “idiot” and said he wrote a “fiction book.” Trump said, “the concept is true,” but that he would not use crude words, adding, “I went like to the best college.”
  154. On Friday, WAPO reported House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to coax Trump away from his threats to shut down the government at the end of the month by using props and flattery.
  155. McConnell presented a Washington Examiner article which claims Trump is brilliantly handling the current budget process, while Ryan brought glossy photos of a wall under construction along the U.S.-Mexico border.
  156. On Friday, a lawyer for Essential Consultants, the company created by Cohen in 2016, sought to void the nondisclosure agreement at issue in a lawsuit filed by Stephanie Clifford, seeking to avoid further litigation.
  157. The filing included a promise by Cohen not to sue Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, over claims that she breached the contract, and reserved the right to seek repayment of the $130,000 hush money payment.
  158. On Friday, former President Obama re-entered the national political debate giving an hour-long speech at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and for the first time, calling out Trump by name.
  159. Obama said of Trump, “He is a symptom, not the cause. He’s just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years, a fear and anger that’s rooted in our past”
  160. Obama compared Trump to foreign demagogues who exploit “a politics of fear and resentment and retrenchment,” saying, “This is not normal. These are extraordinary times, and they are dangerous times.”
  161. Obama rebuked Trump’s response to Charlottesville, saying, “We’re supposed to stand up to discrimination…and unequivocally to Nazi sympathizers. How hard can that be, saying that Nazis are bad?”
  162. Obama also said, “None of this is conservative,” adding, “It’s not conservative. It sure isn’t normal. It’s radical. It’s a vision that says the protection of our power and those who back us is all that matters.”
  163. At a rally in Fargo, North Dakota, Trump responded to Obama’s speech, saying, “I’m sorry, I watched it, but I fell asleep,” adding, “I found he’s very good, very good for sleeping.”
  164. At a later stop in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Trump said Obama’s re-emergence will motivate Trump’s base. “Now if that doesn’t get you out to vote for the midterms, nothing will.”
  165. Politico reported Trump is jealous of the fawning coverage and adulation Obama has received, and sees him as a much more formidable political opponent than Hillary. Aides worry Obama could get in to Trump’s head.

Oh, Look. Obama!

Ken AshfordElection 2018, Obama & AdministrationLeave a Comment

In rare public speech ending moments ago, Obama said Trump poses such a threat to America that it forced him to speak out.

“I’m here today because this is one of those pivotal moments when every one of us as citizens of the United States need to determine just who we are, what it is that we stand for,” Obama said. “As a fellow citizen, not as an ex-president, I’m here to deliver a simple message, which is that you need to vote, because our democracy depends on it.”

Laying out a brief history of America — starting with George Washington’s decision to step out of public life after leaving the presidency — Obama framed the 2018 elections as more significant than ever before.

And for the first time since leaving office, he said Trump’s name.

“It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause,” Obama said, to applause. “He’s just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years.”

It’s not just about Trump, he said. It’s about Republicans “who know better in Congress … bending over backwards to shield” Trump. They’re hypocrites, he said, and they’re just as dangerous to America. At times mocking them and at times laying into them, Obama said they’ve abandoned all that they’re supposed to stand for as Republicans, and as citizens of this country.

It was certainly nice to hear a presidential address that was not an hour and a half of bizarre rants, punctuated by “Lock her up!” and “Build the wall!” and narcissistic self-praise (although Obama DID remind people that Trump is enjoying a recovery that Obama started — a true statement that is sure to get under Trump’s collar).

There was nothing subtle about the speech. Vote, and vote for Democrats, Obama said, several times. Trump’s policies on everything from the environment to veterans’ affairs are morally wrong, and a mismanagement of government.

“Even if you don’t agree with me or Democrats on policy, even if you agree with more libertarian economic views, even if you are an evangelical and the position on social issues is a bridge too far,” Obama said. “I’m here to tell you that you should still be concerned and should still want to see a restoration of honesty and decency and lawfulness in our government. It should not be Democratic or Republican. It should not be partisan to say that we do not pressure the attorney general or the FBI to use the justice system as a cudgel to punish our political opponents.”

He went on: Everyone in the country, he said, should be able to agree that journalists aren’t the enemy of the people, that people shouldn’t be persecuted because of what they look like, that everyone should be able to stand up to Nazi sympathizers.

“We are Americans,” Obama said. 

Trump supporters will have a problem with all of this.  Watch.