Is It Any Wonder Women Don’t Come Forward With Sexual Assault Allegations?

Ken AshfordSex Scandals, Sex/Morality/Family Values, Supreme Court, Trump & Administration, Women's IssuesLeave a Comment

Even though Trump himself said that Dr. Christine Ford’s allegations were “credible”, he somehow managed to attack her last night at a rally.

What do you do?  If I were a principled Republican (and I’m not sure they exist anymore), I would note “no” on Kavanaugh because of Trump’s little mocking alone. Yes, for that reason alone, and I would tell Kavanaugh why.  Blame Trump. 

The White House says that Trump was highlighting inconsistencies.  But I didn’t hear a single inconsistency.  It was Trump mocking her for not remembering small and irrelevant details from 36 years ago.  That’s not being inconsistent.  That’s just how the brain works.

Senator Collins, a swing vote, has spoken against Trump’s speech against Ford.  So has Jeff Flake.  But how will they vote?

UPDATE — Trump is defending himself this morning — here’s his tweet and an accurate response.

And Flake seems to be flaking out…

But….

People Reaching Out To FBI Don’t Seem To Be On Team Kavanaugh

Ken AshfordSex Scandals, Sex/Morality/Family Values, Supreme Court, Trump & Administration, Women's IssuesLeave a Comment

NBC News:

In the days leading up to a public allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself to a college classmate, the judge and his team were communicating behind the scenes with friends to refute the claim, according to text messages obtained by NBC News.

Kerry Berchem, who was at Yale with both Kavanaugh and his accuser, Deborah Ramirez, has tried to get those messages to the FBI for its newly reopened investigation into the matter but says she has yet to be contacted by the bureau.

The texts between Berchem and Karen Yarasavage, both friends of Kavanaugh, suggest that the nominee was personally talking with former classmates about Ramirez’s story in advance of the New Yorker article that made her allegation public. In one message, Yarasavage said Kavanaugh asked her to go on the record in his defense. Two other messages show communication between Kavanaugh’s team and former classmates in advance of the story.

***

NBC News reached out to Berchem for comment after obtaining a copy of a memo she wrote about the text messages. In a statement to NBC News, Berchem, a partner in the law firm Akin Gump, said: “I understand that President Trump and the U.S. Senate have ordered an FBI investigation into certain allegations of sexual misconduct by the nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I have no direct or indirect knowledge about any of the allegations against him. However, I am in receipt of text messages from a mutual friend of both Debbie and mine that raise questions related to the allegations. I have not drawn any conclusions as to what the texts may mean or may not mean but I do believe they merit investigation by the FBI and the Senate.”

On Sunday, Berchem emailed FBI agent J.C. McDonough her memo. After getting no response, she resent the summary on Monday morning along with screenshots of certain texts that she thinks raise questions that should be investigated. “I’m sure he’s really busy and expect that he’ll get back to me,” said Berchem.

Berchem’s memo outlining her correspondence with Yarasavage shows there’s a circle of Kavanaugh friends who may have pertinent information and evidence relevant to the inquiry who may not be interviewed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already set in motion a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination on the Senate floor for later this week.

It also appears that Kavanaugh was working the witnessses

Berchem’s texts with Yarasavage shed light on Kavanaugh’s personal contact with friends, including that he obtained a copy of a photograph of a small group of friends from Yale at a 1997 wedding in order to show himself smiling alongside Ramirez 10 years after they graduated. Both were in the wedding party: Kavanaugh was a groomsman and Ramirez a bridesmaid at the wedding.

On Sept, 22nd, Yarasavage texted Berchem that she had shared the photo with “Brett’s team.”

But when Kavanaugh was asked about the wedding during a committee interview on Sept. 25th, he said he was “probably” at a wedding with Ramirez. Asked if he interacted with her at the wedding, Kavanaugh replied, “I am sure I saw her because it wasn’t a huge wedding,” but added that he “doesn’t have a specific recollection.” Lying to Congress is a felony whether testimony is taken under oath or not.

Yup — let’s recap:

SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: When did you first hear of Ms. Ramirez’s allegations against you?

KAVANAUGH: In the last — in the period since then, the New Yorker story [published on Sept. 23].

But NBC News’s Heidi Przbyla and Leigh Ann Caldwell write that Kavanaugh and his team were trying to refute Ramirez’s allegations BEFORE they became public.

So that’s a problem.

And it seems that Kavanaugh was Creepy McCreeperson:

Finally, Berchem is concerned about what she witnessed at the 1997 wedding where Ramirez and Kavanaugh were both in the wedding party.
According to the information Berchem provided, Ramirez tried to avoid Kavanaugh at that wedding of their two friends, Yarasavage and Kevin Genda.

Ramirez, “clung to me” at the wedding, Berchem wrote to Yarasavage in a Sept. 24th text message. “She never went near them,” a reference to Kavanaugh and his friends. Even in the group photo, Berchem wrote, Ramirez was trying to keep away from Kavanaugh.

Here’s that photo —

The NY Times also has some more on Kavanaugh’s background:

As an undergraduate student at Yale, Brett M. Kavanaugh was involved in an altercation at a local bar during which he was accused of throwing ice on another patron, according to a police report.

The incident, which occurred in September 1985 during Mr. Kavanaugh’s junior year, resulted in Mr. Kavanaugh and four other men being questioned by the New Haven Police Department. Mr. Kavanaugh was not arrested, but the police report stated that a 21-year-old man accused Mr. Kavanaugh of throwing ice on him “for some unknown reason.”

A witness to the fight said that Chris Dudley, a Yale basketball player who is friends with Mr. Kavanaugh, then threw a glass that hit the man in the ear, according to the police report, which was obtained by The New York Times.

The report said that the victim, Dom Cozzolino, “was bleeding from the right ear” and was treated at a hospital. A detective was notified of the incident at 1:20 a.m.

But, uh oh, none of this matters, according to this breaking Bloomberg news:

The FBI has been granted authority to investigate sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, but isn’t doing its own deep dive into his alcohol use or whether he committed perjury when he testified last week, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The Senate won’t vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination until after the FBI completes its one-week probe into allegations of sexual assault and misconduct, said second-ranking Republican John Cornyn.

The White House agreed on Monday to let the Federal Bureau of Investigation question more people in connection with allegations that he was sexually abusive toward women following growing criticism that the probe was too constrained.

But the White House hasn’t asked the FBI to do a full-throttle probe of Kavanaugh’s use of alcohol or whether he intentionally gave false testimony to the Senate committee, the person said. The FBI has also been told to finish the probe by Friday, meaning there are time limits on what agents can do.

The fix IS in.

Is The Fix In?

Ken AshfordSex Scandals, Sex/Morality/Family Values, Supreme Court, Trump & Administration, Women's IssuesLeave a Comment

Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow talk about this FBI investigation:

As the F.B.I. began its investigation this weekend into allegations of sexual misconduct by Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, several people who hope to contribute information about him to the F.B.I. said that they were unable to make contact with agents. President Trumphas promised to give the F.B.I. “free rein” in its probe, but the Times reported on Saturday that the White House had asked the F.B.I. to question only four witnesses. In the course of the next day, confusion spread about whom the F.B.I. would be interviewing, and Senate Democrats demanded that the White House provide the Senate Judiciary Committee with a copy of the written directive that it had sent to the F.B.I. regarding the investigation.

With a one-week deadline looming over the investigation, some who say they have information relevant to the F.B.I.’s probe are suspicious that the investigation will amount to what one of Kavanaugh’s former Yale classmates called a “whitewash.” Roberta Kaplan, an attorney representing one potential witness, Elizabeth Rasor, a former girlfriend of Kavanaugh’s high-school friend Mark Judge, said her client “has repeatedly made clear to the Senate Judiciary Committee and to the F.B.I. that she would like the opportunity to speak to them.” But, Kaplan said, “We’ve received no substantive response.”

Christine Blasey Ford has accused Judge of being an accessory to Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual assault on her, in 1982, when they were all in high school. Kavanaugh has vehemently denied any role in the assault, and Judge, through his attorney, Barbara Van Gelder, also has denied any recollection of it. Kaplan said that early this past week she began reaching out to the F.B.I. and to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Rasor’s behalf. “She feels a sense of civic duty to tell what she knows,” Kaplan said. “But the only response we’ve gotten are e-mails saying that our e-mails have been ‘received.’ ” At one point, she said, an F.B.I. official suggested she try calling an 800-number telephone tip line.

Debra Katz, the lead attorney for Ford, said that her client, too, had been willing to coöperate with the F.B.I.’s investigation, but as of Sunday the F.B.I. had not contacted her, despite Ford’s central role in the controversy. “We’ve tried repeatedly to speak with the F.B.I, but heard nothing back,” Katz said.

F.B.I. officials referred questions to the White House. The White House spokesman Raj Shah defended the process, and released a statement that placed responsibility for any limitations on the Senate. “The scope and duration has been set by the Senate. The White House is letting the FBI agents do what they are trained to do,” his statement said. Shah accused Senate Democrats of merely wanting to “further delay and politicize” the investigation rather than being genuinely concerned about its integrity.
Rasor dated Judge on and off for two to three years while they were students at Catholic University, and she is now a public-school teacher in New York. After hearing Judge’s denials, Rasor came forward, offering to give a sworn statement to the F.B.I. challenging Judge’s credibility. According to Kaplan, the F.B.I. has so far shown no interest in hearing what Rasor has to say, and efforts to contact the Bureau have gone nowhere.

A Yale classmate attempting to corroborate Deborah Ramirez’s account that, during her freshman year at Yale, Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face at a drunken party, said that he, too, has struggled unsuccessfully to reach the F.B.I. The classmate, who asked to remain anonymous, recalled hearing about Ramirez’s allegation either the night it happened or during the following two days. The classmate said that he was “one-hundred-per-cent certain” that he had heard an account that was practically identical to Ramirez’s, thirty-five years ago, but the two had never spoken about it. He had hoped to convey this to the F.B.I., but, when he reached out to a Bureau official in Washington, D.C., he was told to contact the F.B.I. field office nearest his home. When he tried that, he was referred to a recording. After several attempts to reach a live person at the field office, he finally reached an official who he said had no idea what he was talking about. At this point, he went back to the official at the F.B.I.’s D.C. headquarters, who then referred him, too, to an 800-number tip line. (He eventually left a tip through an online portal.)
“I thought it was going to be an investigation,” the Yale classmate said, “but instead it seems it’s just an alibi for Republicans to vote for Kavanaugh.” He said that he had been in touch with other classmates who also wanted to provide information corroborating Ramirez’s account, but that they had not done so.

One of the issues that was discussed over the weekend was the overt LYING that Kavanaugh did.

In plain terms, for all his spleen and outrage, Judge Kavanaugh lies about everything. In his earlier hearings, he lied about his judicial philosophy, and he lied about his days as a Republican operative, both in and out of the White House. On Monday, he lied to Martha McCallum of Fox News. On Thursday, he lied about his entire adolescence and his college days.

He lied even when he didn’t have to lie. He lied in preposterous ways easily disproven by common sense. (The “Devil’s Triangle”? “Renate Alumnius”?) He lied like a toddler, like a guilty adolescent, and like a privileged scion of the white ruling class, which is a continuum with which we all are far too familiar. He lied and he dared the Democratic members of the committee, and the country, to call him on his lies. And now, he is a couple of easy steps away from having lied his way into a lifetime seat on the United States Supreme Court. This guy is going to be deciding constitutional issues for the next four decades, and the truth is not in him.

Some say his lying (IF he lied) don’t make it more or less likely that he sexually assaulted Christine Ford, but of course, that’s not true. It explains why he might not REMEMBER assaulting Christine Ford.

But there is a larger issue — perjury is perjury.  

And some at Yale are not coming out with stories of Kavanaugh as a belligerent and aggressive drunk.

In short, on Thursday, Kavanaugh revealed how much he shares the president’s intemperate disposition and contempt for democratic norms. He was as Trumpian as Trump could want. He made clear that he considers himself savagely wronged and that he will never let go of his searing anger.

That alone disqualifies him from a job that requires sober dispassion and an unshakable commitment to fairness. It would be supremely reckless to entrust the demands of justice to someone bent on revenge.

Why is the GOP fighting so hard for this guy? Certainly, there are other conservative judges who could easily pass confirmation, who don’t have the baggage. At this point, it seems like they want to pass him simply BECAUSE he has been attacked by the left.

BTW, here’s the SNL treatment:

Concerns abound….

This, meanwhile, is troubling:

Hmmm…. “breaking” news. Looks like the criticisms worked.

The list of witnesses that the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee would like the FBI to interview

but the GOP will push this on through no matter what.

Weekly List 98

Ken AshfordWeekly ListLeave a Comment

This week our country was riveted as new allegations of sexual assault surfaced against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. On Thursday, 20 million Americans tuned in to the watch the Kavanaugh hearings. Despite Dr. Christine Blasey Ford coming across as poised and credible, while a belligerent Kavanaugh delivered testimony riddled with inaccuracies, Republicans planned to push forward for a confirmation vote on Friday. In a stunning turn, the power of the #MeToo movement and protests changed a key senator’s vote early Friday, pushing off Kavanaugh’s confirmation and forcing Trump to open a one-week FBI investigation into the sexual assault allegations against his nominee.

This week Trump was literally the laughing stock of the world, as leaders gathered at the UN General Assembly laughed out loud at a braggadocious claim during his speech. On Thursday, Trump held an 80-minute news conference, only his fifth since taking office, which was panned by media outlets as “bizarre,” “insane,” and “surreal.”

Increasingly, our country feels at war with itself, as Trump and white male Republican leadership readied to push through Kavanaugh’s nomination at any cost, ignoring the voices of women. Trump’s push on Kavanaugh threatened the integrity of another institution, the Supreme Court, while he continued his attacks on the FBI, the Department of Justice, and, his favorite target, the media. Notable this week were comparisons of the Kavanaugh proceedings to a storyline in “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

  1. On Saturday, WAPO reported Trump’s advisers are counseling him not to fire deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, citing concern it would feed the Democratic narrative of a regime in chaos and hurt the GOP in the midterms.
  2. Aides say Trump will fire Sessions after the election anyway, so removing Rosenstein would just hurt Republicans. Aides also say Trump could revive the incident later if Mueller’s probe produces an unfavorable conclusion.
  3. The FBI Agents Association defended its members amid Trump’s vitriol, tweeting “Attacks on our character and demeaning comments” will not stop agents from dedicating “our lives to protecting the American people.”
  4. On Sunday, WAPO reported the fight for Kavanaugh risks exacerbating the GOP’s problem with women, as it reveals the party’s hyper-masculine mindset. All 11 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are white men.
  5. Trump is also pulling the party along with him in grievances about what he sees as injustice against accused men, setting the stage for white men dismissing women and attacking them with victim blame.
  6. Reportedly, Sen. Mitch McConnell called Trump last Friday to warn him that Trump’s tweets attacking Dr. Christine Blasey Ford were not helpful and could cause new problems. Trump stopped attacking her over the weekend.
  7. On Saturday, the Trump regime announced a proposed rule which would make it harder to obtain visas or green cards for immigrants who have ever been dependent on public benefits, including Medicaid or food stamps.
  8. The rule would apply to immigrants already in the US legally as well as those seeking to enter. Disqualifying benefits would also include the Medicare Part D low-income subsidy and vouchers for Section 8 housing.
  9. The proposed rule is based on “public charge,” which was first implemented in the 1800s as a way to deny entry to immigrants who were likely to become a drain on the economy.
  10. The US already has a law that allows it to deny green cards to immigrants it believes could become “a public charge.” The rule would expand the definition to public benefit to programs like food stamps or Medicaid.
  11. Advocates say the new rule could cause about one-third of immigrants to drop or avoid signing up for benefits if enacted, leading to worse health outcomes and increased communicative diseases and poverty.
  12. On Monday, Trump declared himself an “absolute no” on the question of statehood for Puerto Rico, citing critics such as San Juan’s mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz as his rationale.
  13. A man in Alaska, Justin Schneider, was accused of kidnapping a woman, choking her until she passed out, then masturbating over her. He was given “one pass” by Judge Michael Corey and will serve no jail time.
  14. On Monday, Vice President Mike Pence became the first vice president to speak at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit. The group is designated an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
  15. Daily Beast reported the Trump regime has continued to systematically remove LGBTQ content from federal websites. There have been no advance announcements before information is to be removed.
  16. Most recently, the State Department removed a website for transgender people who wish to update their gender markers on their passports, replacing it with offensive language like “sex change.”
  17. The head of advocacy group Human Rights Commission said the regime “appears to be systematically scrubbing the progress made for LGBTQ people from official websites.” The Department of Housing and Urban Development also recently scrubbed information.
  18. On Thursday, the State Department announced it will no longer allow same-sex domestic partners of United Nations employees to get visas unless they are married. Just 12 percent of UN member states allow same-sex marriage.
  19. On Monday, Sen. Ted Cruz and his wife faced protestors chanting “We believe the survivors” at DC restaurant Fiola. Before the era of Trump, such power restaurants were a safe haven for politicos of both parties.
  20. On Wednesday, the owner of Fiola restaurant said in a statement that he, his staff, and their families had received “harassment and life-threatening messages.”
  21. The Detroit News reported Sean Bostwick, a Detroit police officer, was fired after posting a video of himself on Snapchat in uniform saying “another night to Rangel up these zoo animals,” misspelling “wrangle.”
  22. On Thursday, Fox News cut ties with Kevin Jackson, a radio host and Fox News contributor, after he called Kavanaugh’s accusers “lying skanks” and other misogynistic terms in a series of tweets.
  23. The Guardian reported conservationists have sued to block Trump’s Interior Department’s reinterpretation of the 100-year-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act to allow for “incidental” killings of migratory birds.
  24. On Monday, a federal judge restored Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears living around Yellowstone National Park, saying the Trump regime didn’t use the best available science in removing the bears from the threatened species list.
  25. On Tuesday, Yahoo News reported deputy press secretary Raj Shah has told multiple people that he plans to leave the White House after the Kavanaugh confirmation.
  26. ABC News reported as the first aid checks are going out to farmers from the Trump regime to compensate them for the impact of Trump’s tariffs, many are concerned the bailout will not be enough.
  27. The Trump regime is providing farmers with roughly $6 billion of the $12 billion set aside in this first round of payments. Soybean growers will get the largest checks, at $1.65 per bushel for a total of $3.6 billion.
  28. AP reported that on Monday a judge ordered Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office to turn over emails between then-Gov. Mike Pence, Trump, and Carrier Corp, a victory for watchdog group Citizens Action Coalition.
  29. The emails were sent between November 14–29, 2016, and relate to Trump’s negotiations to prevent the company from moving most of its operations from Indianapolis to Mexico.
  30. The judge found Holcomb’s office had violated Indiana’s open records law by failing to provide updates on the status of the records request. The judge has given Holcomb 30 days to disclose any communications.
  31. Under the deal, Carrier pledged to keep nearly 1,100 jobs in Indianapolis, but 550 were still eliminated. Carrier also received up to $7 million in conditional state tax incentives and training grants in the arrangement.
  32. On Tuesday, attorney general Jeff Sessions hosted a meeting between the Justice Department and state attorneys general following Trump’s public complaints about alleged social media company bias in Week 94.
  33. The highly anticipated meeting, attended by 13 attorneys general, including mostly red states and California, did not focus on political bias but rather on ways to safeguard consumers using online digital platforms.
  34. On Tuesday, the Atlantic reported Sen. Orrin Hatch, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, filed an amicus brief earlier this month in Gamble v. United States, a case that could expand Trump’s pardon powers.
  35. The case is about a 150-year-old exception to the Fifth Amendment’s double-jeopardy clause. If the dual-sovereignty doctrine were overturned, Trump could pardon a person at both the federal and state levels.
  36. On Tuesday, an appeals court ruled Justice Department official John Gore must sit for questioning by attorneys relating to lawsuits brought over his role in the citizenship question added to the 2020 Census.
  37. On Tuesday, WSJ reported that according to a report by the Inspector General, FEMA director Brock Long’s travel cost the government $151,000 for the unauthorized use of government vehicles.
  38. Keith LaFoucade, a Long aide, destroyed evidence about Long and his family’s trip to Hawaii in an attempt to thwart the IG investigation. LaFoucade has been suspended, as has senior official John Veatch.
  39. On Monday, Axios reported Rosenstein had resigned in the morning. The story was later updated to say Rosenstein had “offered to resign.”
  40. The story set off a morning of speculation when Rosenstein went to the White House to meet with chief of staff John Kelly, potentially to be fired. Ousting Rosenstein would allow Trump to impact the Mueller probe.
  41. Shortly after, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, at Rosenstein’s request, he would meet with Trump at the White House on Thursday, when Trump returns from New York.
  42. Vanity Fair reported, according to a source, the brush up was a “smoke bomb” designed to distract attention away from the brewing controversy around the Kavanaugh nomination.
  43. On Monday, Trump’s lawyers demanded a pause in the Mueller probe if Rosenstein were ousted, with Jay Sekolow calling for “a timeout on this inquiry” on a radio show and Rudy Giuliani echoing those sentiments to the Daily Beast.
  44. The Guardian reported Ecuador went as far as appointing Julian Assange to a diplomatic position at its embassy in Moscow days after he got Ecuadorean citizenship as part of its failed plan to help him escape.
  45. The plan did not work, however, due to the UK’s refusal to grant Assange diplomatic protection. Ecuador made two requests in December 2017, but both were turned down.
  46. An upcoming book, “Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President” by Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, uses forensic analysis to conclude Russia delivered the 2016 election to Trump.
  47. WSJ reported, according to a Def Con report delivered to Congress, election machines used in more than half of the states carry a flaw that makes them vulnerable to a cyber attack. The flaw was first disclosed in 2007.
  48. The flaw is in Model 650, a high-speed ballot-counting machine by Election Systems & Software, the nation’s leading manufacturer of election equipment. The model is still sold on the company’s website.
  49. The concern is that the machines do not have the advanced security features of modern systems and could be vulnerable to Russian hacking. The report recommends moving away from machines that don’t include paper ballots.
  50. On Monday, Rob Goldstone, the British-born music publicist who helped set up the June 9th Trump Tower meeting, told NBC News he now believes the meeting could have been a set-up by Russian intelligence.
  51. Goldstone said he spoke to Mueller’s grand jury in March. He said Donald Trump Jr. was very happy to accept “opposition research,” which he believed was coming from the Russian government.
  52. Mother Jones reported Roger Stone offered to assist Randy Credico, thought to be Stone’s go-between to WikiLeaks, with legal fees. Credico said, “He wanted me to be quiet” and “go along with his narrative.”
  53. Credico said he did not take up Stone on his offer. Credico has asserted his Fifth Amendment rights and been excused from testifying, but he still faced scrutiny from Mueller’s team and other investigators.
  54. On Sunday, the New Yorker reported on a second allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh, detailing an event that allegedly took place during his freshman year at Yale. Senate Democrats are investigating the charge.
  55. Deborah Ramirez claims Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face during a drinking game. The reporters, Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow, saw emails sent between Yale alums discussing the incident back in July 2018.
  56. On Monday, Trump told reporters accusations against Kavanaugh are “highly unsubstantiated statements” and “totally political.” He said Kavanaugh is “an outstanding person and I am with him all the way.”
  57. On Monday, Kavanaugh and his wife appeared in a pre-recorded interview with Fox News host Martha MacCallum. Kavanaugh claimed, “I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or otherwise.”
  58. Kavanaugh claimed he was focused on “academics and athletics, going to church every Sunday,” and said he was virgin in high school and remained that way for “many years thereafter.”
  59. On Monday, Amnesty International USA issued a rare call to halt the vote on Kavanaugh until any information relevant to his possible involvement in human rights violations is made public.
  60. On Monday, of the 600-person student body, 115 Yale Law students headed to Washington D.C. to demonstrate against Kavanaugh, while 300 more protested on campus. More than 30 professors canceled classes.
  61. On Monday, nearly 1,000 Yale University alumnae signed an open letter in support of Deborah Ramirez, demanding her allegations be “thoroughly investigated” and that she be treated fairly and get to tell her story.
  62. On Tuesday, the Mormon Women for Ethical Government issued a statement calling on senators to suspendKavanaugh’s confirmation proceedings until a thorough investigation is completed.
  63. On Tuesday, John Clune, the attorney for Ramirez, told CNN that Republicans on the Judiciary Committee were a no-show on a scheduled call to discuss Ramirez’s allegations and also canceled a prior call.
  64. On Wednesday, Clune made his letter to the FBI and Judiciary Committee public, in which he wrote Ramirez “repeatedly has asked the Committee to speak with her about a process” but the majority staff has refused.
  65. On Tuesday, Trump used his strongest language against an alleged victim yet, telling reporters Ramirez “has nothing,” adding “she admits that she was drunk. She admits time lapses.”
  66. Trump made the remarks during a meeting with the president of Columbia at the UN General Assembly. Trump also told reporters Democrats are “really con artists. They don’t believe it themselves.”
  67. Later in a late evening tweet, Trump wrote, “Democrats are playing a high level CON GAME,” adding, “Behind the scene the Dems are laughing. Pray for Brett Kavanaugh and his family!”
  68. On Tuesday, amid new allegations and hearings scheduled for Thursday, Republicans scheduled a Senate Judiciary Committee vote on the Kavanaugh nomination for Friday morning.
  69. On Tuesday, Trump gave a speech to the UN General Assembly. He arrived nearly half an hour later than his allotted time.
  70. Trump bragged that his regime had accomplished more over two years than “almost any administration” in American history. The audience responded to the line with laughter.
  71. Trump appeared startled and said, “didn’t expect that reaction,” but he continued, saying “but that’s okay” and finished his speech.
  72. At the United Nations, Trump explicitly rejected “the ideology of globalism” and proposed in its place the “doctrine of patriotism.” The lead writer of the speech was reportedly Stephen Miller.
  73. On Wednesday, during a speech at the UN Security Council, Trump accused China of trying to meddle in the US midterms, offering no evidence to back his claim. Trump made no mention of Russia.
  74. In a session meant to focus on nonproliferation, Trump said of China, “They do not want me — or us — to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade.”
  75. On Wednesday, the House passed a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. In the chaos, this development received almost no notice. Trump had previously threatened to veto the legislation over his wall.
  76. On Wednesday, Julie Swetnick was the third accuser of Kavanaugh to come forward with accusations of sexual assault during their high school years in a sworn affidavit put forth by her attorney Michael Avenatti.
  77. Swetnick described parties where women were verbally abused, inappropriately touched, made “disoriented” with alcohol or drugs, and “gang raped.” She was gang raped and believes she was drugged.
  78. Swetnick said Kavanaugh participated in misconduct, including lining up outside a bedroom where “numerous boys” were “waiting for their ‘turn’” in a gang rape. She is unsure if he participated in her rape.
  79. Swetnick, who has held multiple security clearances for her work on government-related networks, would lose those clearances if she was found to have lied in her sworn affidavit.
  80. On Wednesday, Trump attacked Swetnick’s attorney, Avenatti, tweeting that he is “a third rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations,” and “a total low-life!”
  81. On Wednesday, NBC News reported, according to a transcript released by the committee, a fourth accuser came forward in an anonymous complaint that was sent to Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado.
  82. The complaint claimed Kavanaugh physically assaulted a woman he socialized within the Washington, D.C., area in 1998 while he was drunk, adding “there were at least four witnesses including my daughter.”
  83. Democrats on the committee asked that the claim be investigated more deeply, but Republicans refused to move forward on the claim, saying it was made anonymously and cannot be corroborated.
  84. Kavanaugh has denied all claims and said he is the victim of “character assassination,” adding “This is crazy town. It’s a smear campaign. It’s trying to take me down, trying to take down my family.”
  85. On Wednesday, Mark Judge’s college girlfriend Elizabeth Rasor, who told the New Yorker about his shame in participating in a gang rape, said she would speak to the FBI and Judiciary Committee.
  86. On Wednesday, Trump held his fifth solo news conference. Trump stuck by Kavanaugh, saying “evil people,” including women in search of fame and fortune, routinely fabricate sexual assault charges against powerful men.
  87. When asked what his message was to young men, Trump warned to be afraid of women who can destroy, again bringing it back to himself, saying, “It’s happened to me many times, where false statements are made.”
  88. Trump also accused Democrats of being partisan in their attacks on Kavanaugh, saying “If we brought George Washington here and we said, we have George Washington, the Democrats would vote against him.”
  89. Trump also claimed his accusers were paid off, saying “I was accused by four or five women who got paid a lot of money to make up stories about me” and adding “I’m a very famous person, unfortunately.”
  90. CNN reporter Jim Acosta asked Trump to call on female reporters to take questions about Kavanaugh and sexual assault, asking whether he would call on “one of our female colleagues.” Trump then did.
  91. When asked about world leaders laughing at him during his UN speech, Trump said, “They weren’t laughing at me; they were laughing with me. We had fun,” adding, “They respect what I’ve done.”
  92. Trump said he had rejected a one-on-one meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau because of an impasse on trade, saying “We don’t like their representative very much” and that Canada “has treated us very badly.”
  93. When asked about his claim of China hacking our election, Trump said the country has “total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump’s very, very large brain.”
  94. Trump said of the Mueller probe, “there’s no obstruction, there’s no collusion” unless “you call obstruction the fact that I fight back” and again referred to the investigation as a “witch hunt.”
  95. Trump’s 80-minute news conference was described as a “marathon” and “insane” by WAPO, “rambling and combative” by the NYT, “bizarre” by USA Today, “surreal” by the Atlantic, and “freewheeling” by Bloomberg.
  96. In taking a question from Kurdish journalist Rahim Rashidi, Trump said, “Yes, please, Mr. Kurd. Go ahead.”
  97. On Wednesday, Chuck Grassley announced Rachel Mitchell, a sex crimes prosecutor in the Maricopa County attorney’s office in Arizona, would question Ford in lieu of the 11 white Republican men on the committee.
  98. On Thursday, Trump postponed his scheduled meeting with Rosenstein until next week. Press secretary Sanders told reporters, “They do not want to do anything to interfere with the hearing.”
  99. Before Ford spoke, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Grassley and ranking member Diane Feinstein clashed over the timing of the release of Ford’s letter, with both accusing the other side of politicizing the process.
  100. Ford read an opening statement, saying “I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.”
  101. When asked by Sen. Patrick Leahy what she remembered most, Ford mixed emotion and science, saying, “Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two (Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh) and their having fun at my expense.”
  102. Sen. Dick Durbin asked, “To what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?” Ford leaned into her microphone and responded, “100 percent.
  103. Rachel Mitchell, standing in for the 11 Republican men, did not discredit Ford in any way. Politico reported one Trump regime official called the hearing a “disaster” for Kavanaugh’s confirmation hopes.
  104. On Fox News programming discussing the hearing, host Chris Wallace said that Ford’s “extremely emotional, extremely raw, and extremely credible” testimony had created a “disaster” for the Republicans.
  105. During the hearing, C-SPAN was flooded with callers who shared their stories of sexual assault, as the network created a split-screen during Ford’s testimony.
  106. On Thursday, 59 protestors were arrested near the Supreme Court as thousands rallied nationwide to protest the Kavanaugh nomination.
  107. When his turn came, Kavanaugh read a long emotional and angry defense he had written himself, at times ranting in anger and at times appearing close to tears, calling the process “a circus” and a “national disgrace.”
  108. Kavanaugh accused the Democrats of conspiring to scuttle his nomination and said the sexual-misconduct allegations against him might have been the result of people seeking “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.”
  109. Rachel Mitchell, who started out questioning Kavanaugh, disappeared after Sen. Lindsey Graham launched into a fiery diatribe, saying his Democratic colleagues were deliberately smearing Kavanaugh.
  110. Kavanaugh was openly hostile to women senators, interrupting Feinstein, and, when Sen. Amy Klobuchar asked him “Have you ever blacked out?” he sneered and responded, “Have you?” He later apologized to Klobuchar.
  111. Feinstein said in her 25 years on the committee, “I have never seen a nominee for any position behave in that manner.” Klobuchar said if she acted like Kavanaugh in his courtroom, “he would have thrown me out.”
  112. Trump was pleased with Kavanaugh’s aggressive tone, tweeting after the hearing was over, “Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him. His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting.”
  113. NYT fact-checked Kavanaugh’s testimony and found numerous examples of statements that were misleading, disputed, or off point.
  114. Examples include Kavanaugh citing three people who he claimed had exonerated him. This is misleading. All three said they did not recall the gathering, and two said he did not generally act in an aggressive manner.
  115. Kavanaugh said he did not excessively drink in high school and college. This was disputed by multiple classmates at Yale. As an undergraduate, he was affiliated with two organizations known for hard partying.
  116. Kavanaugh also falsely claimed that the high school Ford attended did not mingle with his prep school and that he was unaware that Democrats’ documents were stolen when he worked for George W. Bush.
  117. AP reported that Kavanaugh wrongly claimed he could legally drink in Maryland in the hearing and on Fox News. The state’s drinking age increased to 21 at the end of his junior year, while he was still 17.
  118. On Thursday, the WAPO Editorial Board said it was irresponsible for Republicans to vote without an investigation, but, if they do, “the responsible vote must be no.”
  119. On Thursday, the influential Catholic Jesuit magazine America rescinded its endorsement of Kavanaugh, saying it doesn’t want to be associated with a man whose sexual assault allegations may never be put to rest.
  120. On Thursday, the American Bar Association, which issued a favorable rating for Kavanaugh that he and his supporters have bragged about, called for senators to delay a confirmation vote, pending an FBI investigation.
  121. On Friday, Yale Law School joined the ABA, saying in a statement: “Proceeding with the confirmation process without further investigation is not in the best interest of the Court or our profession.”
  122. On Friday, the New Yorker reported emails reveal Republican Senate staffers stymied attempts by Deborah Ramirez to testify before Congress.
  123. On Thursday, chairman Grassley said he would convene the committee at 9:30 a.m. Friday to debate on Kavanaugh. At 9:30 a.m. Sen. Jeff Flake, a possible holdout, said he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh.
  124. On Friday morning, Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee, Sens. Kamala Harris, Mazie Hirono, and Richard Blumenthal, walked out as debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination was just getting underway.
  125. Sen. Cory Booker said he could not “participate in what I know history’s going to look back as a dark moment again, in the same way we look back on the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas trials,” then stood up and left, too.
  126. On Friday morning, House Democratic women marched over to join their Senate colleagues in registering their opposition to Kavanaugh. They stood together in the back of the room as proceedings resumed.
  127. On Friday, hundreds of mostly women protestors flooded Capitol Hill to oppose Kavanaugh. Protestors raised fists and shouted “Lock Him Up” in front of the Supreme Court and also protested the Senate office building.
  128. As Flake headed over to vote, two protestors, Maria Gallagher and Ana Maria Archila, who said they had been sexually assaulted, blocked the elevator. Gallagher said, “You’re telling me that my assault doesn’t matter.”
  129. Shortly after noon, after senators took turns speaking, Flake approached his friend Democrat Sen. Chris Coons and the two left the room along with Klobuchar. The vote was set for 1:30 p.m.
  130. Flake came back to the room at 1:51 p.m. and said he will only vote to move Kavanaugh out of the committee if the full Senate floor vote is delayed by up to one week to allow for an FBI investigation of allegations.
  131. After Flake was done speaking, Grassley abruptly adjourned the hearing, citing the rarely used “two-hour rule,” much to the surprise of both Flake and Feinstein.
  132. A hot microphone picked up confusion between the chairman and ranking member, as Grassley said, “This is all a gentlemen and women’s agreement,” and Feinstein saying, “Let him say what he’s committed to.”
  133. Flake was later joined by Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski and Democrats Sens. Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp in his compromise, meaning there were not enough votes to confirm Kavanaugh.
  134. Asked about this development, Trump told reporters Ford’s testimony was “very compelling” and called her “a very fine woman,” adding “It was an incredible moment in the history of our country.”
  135. Trump backed off his defiant tweet on Thursday that accused Democrats of a “search and destroy strategy,” saying about Kavanaugh “I don’t know if this is going to continue onward or if we’re going to get a vote.”
  136. On Friday, Trump ordered the FBI to reopen the investigation of Kavanaugh’s background, after indicating this was not the type of thing the FBI does in Week 97.
  137. Trump said the investigation “must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week.” The committee said the probe would cover “current credible allegations,” although it was unclear which would be included.
  138. CNN reported Flake, Collins, and Murkowski will set the scope of the investigation. The three want the FBI to investigate Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s friend who is mentioned in Ford’s and Swetnick’s allegations.
  139. On Friday, Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s close high school friend who Ford claims was in the room during the assault, said through his attorney that he will cooperate with the FBI and answer any and all questions.
  140. On Friday, the attorney for Deborah Ramirez said in a statement: “We can confirm the FBI has reached out to interview Ms. Ramirez and she has agreed to cooperate with their investigation.”
  141. On Friday, WSJ reported the White House is “shell-shocked” by today’s developments in the Kavanaugh nomination. On Thursday night “everyone was in a good mood” and “everything was locked and loaded.”
  142. Reportedly, there is “no Plan B” if Kavanaugh’s nomination does not go through. Any backup plan would not be “viable” given the timing of the midterm elections in early November.
  143. The ABA letter, for which there was “enormous anger” from the White House, was cited as a turning point. The letter prompted strong discomfort in particular from Sen. Murkowski.
  144. On Friday, Politico reported that since the Kavanaugh nomination became problematic, press secretary Sanders has been foregoing press briefings and instead communicating through television appearances.
  145. The last press briefing was on September 10, when Kavanaugh’s nomination seemed straightforward. Before that, Sanders had not answered questions in a formal briefing since August 22.
  146. On Friday, the House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously to release dozens of transcripts of interviews from its investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.
  147. Transcripts will include conversations with Trump’s senior associates, including about the June 9 Trump Tower meeting, as well as with members of the Obama administration.
  148. Transcripts will not include the committee’s interview with former FBI director James Comey or former NSA director Michael Rogers. Democrats had requested that all transcripts be released.
  149. On Friday, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chair of the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS, to appear for a deposition, after Simpson said he would not agree to be interviewed.
  150. Goodlatte said he subpoenaed Simpson “as part of our joint investigation into decisions made by DOJ in 2016.” Fusion GPS was hired by lawyers for the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
  151. Goodlatte said in a tweet the committee has invited “James Comey, Loretta Lynch, Sally Yates, Stuart Evans, Richard Scott, Sally Moyer, and Mike Kortan” as witnesses, and if they do not agree they too will be subpoenaed.
  152. On Friday, a federal judge gave the go-ahead to a lawsuit filed by 200 congressional Democrats against Trump alleging Trump has violated the Constitution by doing business with foreign governments while in office.
  153. The lawsuit is based on the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bars presidents from taking moneyfrom foreign governments without Congress’ consent. The lawsuit cites the Trump Hotel DC.
  154. The ruling is a victory for Democrats, recognizing that Members of Congress have standing to sue. Trump is facing a separate emoluments suit filed by the attorneys general of Washington, D.C., and Maryland.
  155. On Friday, NYT reported House Republicans plan to privately question Rosenstein about alleged discussions last year to secretly tape Trump and remove him from office under the 25th Amendment.
  156. Rep. Goodlatte said in a statement that he and Rosenstein had spoken. Rep. Jerry Nadler, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said his Republican colleagues “cannot be left alone in a room” with Rosenstein.
  157. Rep. Mark Meadows, another Trump ally, tweeted that if Rosenstein does not comply with their request, he will be subpoenaed.
  158. On Saturday, the ACLU broke its non-partisan tradition, issuing a statement opposing Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. The organization did so citing credible allegations of sexual assault against him.

And Now The Committee Vote [NOPE! An FBI Investigation!]

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

With the embarrassingly empty Kavanaugh hearings behind us, and a nation left wrecked by the he said/she said testimonies, the Senate is going ahead with the votes to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court.

After a closed-door meeting of the Republican conference late last night following the nearly nine-hour hearing, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.) announced plans to vote Kavanaugh out of the Judiciary Committee at 9:30 a.m. Lawmakers were told that they need to stay in Washington over the weekend for procedural votes on Saturday and Monday.  A final confirmation vote on the floor is planned for Tuesday.

Republicans are going to ram this thing through no matter what.

Friday: Judiciary Committee votes at 9:30 a.m. [UPDATE: Moved to 1:30]
Saturday: Senate holds a procedural vote around noon
Monday: Senate votes on cloture
Tuesday: Final vote for confirmation

One of the swing votes, Sen Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is on the Republican committee, and…

The motion to subpoena Mark Judge was defeated 11-10, on party lines.

This is hurtful.

And precisely why women do not come forward.

Some overnight developments.

(1)  America Magazine, a Catholic Jesuit publication, rescinded its endorsement of Kavanaugh following today’s hearing. Kavanaugh’s alma mater, Georgetown prep, is a Jesuit school.

(2) The American Bar Association called on the Senate to halt the consideration of Trump’s SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh until an FBI investigation is completed into the sexual assault allegations that have roiled his nomination. This is notable, since ABA gave Kavanaugh a well qualified rating.

(3) Even Alan Dershowitz, one of Trump’s favorite legal minds, is now calling for an FBI probe of Kavanaugh charges: “Right now there are too many unanswered questions to bring the confirmation to a vote…FBI needs to talk to the judge’s accusers and others.”

The New York Times penned an editorial, signed by Editorial Board, entitled “Why Brett Kavanaugh Wasn’t Believable (And why Christine Blasey Ford was).  Key grafs:

Judge Kavanaugh’s biggest problem was not his demeanor but his credibility, which has been called in question on multiple issues for more than a decade, and has been an issue again throughout his Supreme Court confirmation process.

On Thursday, he gave misleading answers to questions about seemingly small matters — sharpening doubts about his honesty about far more significant ones. He gave coy answers when pressed about what was clearly a sexual innuendo in his high-school yearbook. He insisted over and over that others Dr. Blasey named as attending the gathering had “said it didn’t happen,” when in fact at least two of them have said only that they don’t recall it — and one of them told a reporter that she believes Dr. Blasey.

Judge Kavanaugh clumsily dodged a number of times when senators asked him about his drinking habits. When Senator Amy Klobuchar gently pressed him about whether he’d ever blacked out from drinking, he at first wouldn’t reply directly. “I don’t know, have you?” he replied — a condescending and dismissive response to the legitimate exercise of a senator’s duty of advise and consent. (Later, after a break in the hearing, he apologized.)

Judge Kavanaugh gave categorical denials a number of times, including, at other points, that he’d ever blacked out from too much drinking. Given numerous reports now of his heavy drinking in college, such a blanket denial is hard to believe.

In contrast, Dr. Blasey bolstered her credibility not only by describing in harrowing detail what she did remember, but by being honest about what she didn’t — like the exact date of the gathering, or the address of the house where it occurred. As she pointed out, the precise details of a trauma get burned into the brain and stay there long after less relevant details fade away.

She was also honest about her ambivalence in coming forward. “I am terrified,” she told the senators in her opening remarks. And then there’s the fact that she gains nothing by coming forward. She is in hiding now with her family in the face of death threats.

And for me, this was the lynchpin — his bizarre (to my mind) and absolute refusal to endorse an FBI investigation:

Pressed over and over by Democratic senators, Judge Kavanaugh never could come up with a clear answer for why he wouldn’t also want a fair, neutral F.B.I. investigation into the allegations against him — the kind of investigation the agency routinely performs, and that Dr. Blasey has called for. At one point, though, he acknowledged that it was common sense to put some questions to other potential witnesses besides him

And there you have it.  This too….

Meanwhile

UPDATE:  It is 12:30 and we are approaching the 1:30 vote….

It’s 1:40 and something is DEFINITELY happening. Not voting and meetings (presumably with Flake) in the ante room.  Grassley is frowning.

The room is silent. All the action is in the ante room. FYI:  7 Members of the Committee, actually present, shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of discussing business. 9 Members of the Committee, including at least 2 Members of the minority, shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of transacting business.

BOOM

Senate Judiciary advances Kavanaugh’s nomination to full Senate, Flake votes “aye” with the understanding that a floor vote could be delayed no more than a week in order to let the FBI do an investigation that is “limited in time and scope.”

Democrats should now send letter to White House formally requesting FBI investigation co-signed by Jeff Flake and every senator who wants FBI investigation.

Senator Graham to reporters: “Someone’s gotta explain this to Trump. I guess that’s my job”

The remarkable turn of events over the past few hours leading to a high probability of up to a week’s delay so the FBI can investigate will be a mirage unless the FBI investigation is deep and thorough. Here’s where they can start

Stay tuned!

This Is It: The Kavanaugh Hearings

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

Two more allegations last night, although they were anonymous and went to the Senate Judiciary Committee. They were released last night in an effort by Republicans, I suspect, to show that there are many loony accusations.  Also two men came forward to take “credit” for the Kavanaugh assault on Dr. Ford, which actually does not HELP Kavanaugh.

I will not live blog the hearings.  I might not even listen to them that much.  I think, on the whole, they are a farce.  I think most Republicans have made up their mind. I think it only focuses one Ford’s allegation, and not the other two.  And even with Ford’s allegation, it doesn’t call necessary witnesses.

People not testifying at today’s hearing:

1. Deborah Ramirez
2. Julie Swetnick
3. Mark Judge
4. Mark Judge’s ex-girlfriend
5. Kavanaugh’s freshman year roommate
6. Four people Ford told about the alleged assault before Kavanaugh was nominated
7. Experts on sexual assault

This may be moot — here’s why:

Senator Grassley has already started his spiel and is already attacking Senator Feinstein and the process, subtly backing the President’s theme that this is all a con.  And now he calls for civility.  If Grassley was concerned about civility, maybe he should allow Ford to speak before blasting the process in which Ford came forward and engaging in an extensive defense of Kavanaugh’s sterling character.

This is starting off like you would expect

Chairmansplaining.

10:40pm.  Seriously, I am not live-blogging this.  But Ford is reading her opening statement and immediately, she comes off as credible if not traumatized.

Ron Lieber, a columnist for the NY Times is on a plane with others, watching the hearing:

Here is her prepared opening statement:

The GOP is fighting a social media battle.  This was released online AS Dr. Ford is reading her opening statement. I think it will backfire.

#IstandWithBrett pic.twitter.com/zviUcC6bvb— GOP (@GOP) September 27, 2018

Ford taps into her psychology background to explain why she’s so sure it was Kavanaugh that attacked her. 

Feinstein asked, “How are you so sure that it was he?”

Ford: “The way that I’m sure I’m talking to you right now, it’s just basic memory functions, and also just the level of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain that sort of, as you know, that neurotransmitter encodes memories into the hippocampus so that trauma-related experience is locked there so other memories just drift.” 

Rachel Mitchell, an outside prosecutor who is questioning Ford on behalf of the GOP committee member, is  using a typical “good cop” cross examination tactic — gentle style, non-confrontational, but methodically attempting to build a battery of alleged errors, mistakes or gaps in testimony.

11:30 — They are on break. I have missed a lot so far, but it seems clear that the FORMAT is not helpful.  Five minutes with the Dems and five minutes with Mitchell breaks Mitchell’s line of questioning.  It is all scattershot.

Curious how the right is taking it:

Oh, here’s one of the deplorables:

11:50 pm — They are back and I am listening to Mitchell’s cross.  It’s an attempt at “death at a thousand cuts”.  She is picking at inconsistencies in her statements and press reports.  Her answers are usually, “I don’t have a perfect memory of these things”, which is a valid answer.

All of these questions, though, only manage to highlight THE NEED FOR AN FBI INVESTIGATION.

And now Grassley is defending his decision not to have had an FBI investigation.

Whoa…. NY Times is moved

WHOA  — THIS IS BIG!

Oh my God….

Lunch break. How Fox is reporting it:

When Air Force One landed at Joint Base Andrews late Thursday morning, all of the televisions were tuned to Fox News’ coverage of Christine Blasey Ford’s Senate testimony, according to a pool report. The analysis from President Donald Trump’s favorite network’s news hosts may not have been what he was hoping to hear.

“Compelling testimony, obviously emotional,” anchor Bret Baier said, as the hearing entered its first break.

Fellow news anchor Martha MacCallum, noting the disjointed nature of the questioning by a prosecutor brought in by Republicans for the hearing, said, “You have to believe that the Republican senators right now are asking themselves whether this was a good idea, whether or not they have robbed themselves of the opportunity to ask pointed questions in a way that perhaps might be more compelling.”

But it was veteran news host Chris Wallace who dropped the hammer the hardest.

“This was extremely emotional, extremely raw, and extremely credible,” he said. “Nobody could listen to her deliver those words and a talk about the assault and the impact it had on her life and not have your heart go out to her.”

“This is a disaster for Republicans,” Wallace said, referring to the format and sex crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell’s questioning. He later added, “The Democrats are landing haymakers.”

***
A viral moment, though, came Thursday, when Wallace discussed conversations he’d had with his daughters about sexual assault. “Two of my daughters have told me stories that I had never heard before about things that happened to them in high school and hadn’t told their parents,” he said.

“There are teenage girls who don’t tell stories to a lot of people,” he said. “I don’t think we can disregard that. I don’t think we can disregard Christine Blasey Ford and the seriousness of this.”

Good story here:

Ben Shapiro is not optimistic:

But Senator Graham, who has pre-judged this, is having a meltdown:

Hearing devolves into discussion about procedure — Lawyers for Ford pipe up with….

Add we’re adjourned for now. Ford is done with testimony.

ANOTHER UPDATE — Lindsay Graham is having a fit…. video coming, I think….

3:10 pm — And we’re back.  Kavanaugh is reading his written testimony.  He’s playing outrage.  Speaking loudly and forcefully.

But he seems to be attacking Democrats.  Saying that rhetoric of the Democrats lead to this.  In his statement, an angry Brett Kavanaugh blamed the Democrats, including the Clintons for his troubles

He is calling a an orchestrated character assassination.

He’s breaking down. Crying a little. Gathers himself.  I’m not sure how that will play.

He is asked about why he doesn’t want FBI to clear his name.  He just rants (almost cries) about how unfair everything has been.  Says he will do whatever the committee wants.  But he won’t answer the question.

The GOP is again passing off their questions to Mitchell.  A bit of a surprise since prosecuting sex assaulter crimes is her milieu. And indeed, she seems to be asking more probing questions of Kavanaugh than Ford.

Trump likes this, reportedly:

Best point made so far in Kavanaugh questioning just made by @SenatorDurbin.  Kavanaugh in his opening said he will welcome any investigation — Dick Durbin just instructed Kavanaugh to turn to Don McGahn and ask for an FBI investigation.  Kavanaugh balks.

Righteous indignation from Lindsay Graham.

Cornyn now trying to rehabilitate Kavanaugh. I guess they’ve abandoned their female prosecutor.

Wow.  

Kanavaugh Hearings Update

Ken AshfordCrime, Sex Scandals, Sex/Morality/Family Values, Supreme Court, Trump & Administration, Women's IssuesLeave a Comment

The hearings are a sham.  The Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee (all older white men) will not question any witnesses, but will cede their power to a woman named Rachel Mitchell, an Arizona prosecutor.

Mitchell is the chief of the special victims division of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, which deals with sexual assault cases, among others. A registered Republican, Mitchell has worked for in the county attorney’s office for 26 years.

In enlisting Mitchell to join their staff, Republican senators are taking an unusual step. They are turning to her to ask what are expected to be personal and potentially painful questions about the woman’s youth on live television, sparing the all-male panel of 11 Republican senators on the committee some uncomfortable exchanges that could sway the public’s opinion about the session.

That’s not the only thing unusual about the hearing tomorrow. The other thing is that there will be testimony from only two people: Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford.  Each senator will get five minutes of questioning (which means, presumably, that Mitchell gets 55 minutes per witness).  But there will be nobody but those two — basically formalizing a he said/she said.

What can be gained from that?  Very little. I expect both will be deemed “credible”.  But most people, I assume, will have made up their minds.

The vote is scheduled for Friday morning.

This is not an investigation for the truth. The intention of the hearings, for Republicans, is not to determine the facts of the case, but to assuage the few senators who could be swing votes on the nomination: potentially Sens. Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski. Just two Republican senators voting against him would be enough to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Even the president has hinted this is the party’s goal. He told reporters Wednesday morning he would have preferred that the nomination process were sped up earlier, to defray any questions into Kavanaugh’s background.

There will be no testimony from the eyewitness identified by Ford: Mark Judge. 

And there will be no testimony related to a SECOND allegation against Kavanaugh. Deborah Ramirez has provided corroboration for her story. According to the New Yorker, a classmate of Ramirez’s told the publication he heard that Kavanaugh had exposed himself to Ramirez at a party shortly after it allegedly happened. Another classmate says he heard about the incident at the time, but wasn’t specifically aware that Kavanaugh was the alleged perpetrator.

And now, Michael Avenatti reveals his client: yet another Kavanaugh accuser, Julie Swetnick.

Will the Swetnick allegation be looked at?  Probably not.

Here’s where Kavanaugh may have made a mistake: the Fox News interview. There, he portrayed himself as something of a choir boy. He drank, he said, but was always respectful of women. That did not go over well with many.

….. and it is not even noon.

UPDATES THROUGHOUT THE DAY….

Remember, the “train” rape allegation is not new here…

Kavanaugh seems to be backtracking in an under oath statement he issued today — now admits to some heavy drinking as a teen

Uh oh — Trump is entering the fray with Accuser #3

That’s kind of odd, because the Stormy Daniels accusations turned out to be true!

Avenatti responds to Trump….

Dems call on Trump to withdraw the nomination or have an FBI investigation —

Keep digging, GOP.  It’s not helping!

Submission from Ford’s lawyers to the committee including polygraph results:

Oy vey….

In other corners of DC….

The Future Is AI And The US Is Falling Behind

Ken AshfordScience & Technology, Social NetworkingLeave a Comment

The Trump administration has done little to support artificial intelligence research, experts say. Now, the top members of a House subcommittee are calling for a plan to maintain American leadership in AI.

As the White House idled, China implemented a national plan that is propelling its AI research and implementation. Now, the two countries are in a race to reap the technology’s economic and military rewards.

The leaders of the House Oversight and Reform IT subcommittee — Chairman Will Hurd and Ranking Member Robin Kelly — call on the U.S. government to step it up:”The United States cannot maintain its global leadership in AI absent political leadership from Congress and the Executive Branch.”

The government hasn’t moved with the urgency the situation requires, Hurd, a Republican from Texas. China’s rapid AI rise should shock Congress and the White House into action, he and Kelly write.

  • Just yesterday, the White House convened a summit on quantum computing to work toward a strategy for supporting research in that much less developed field.
  • The progress contrasted with stagnation in planning for AI, a technology that has been around much longer.

The pair of legislators lay out high stakes for failure. “Whoever masters AI will have an outsize role in this world,” said Hurd.

  • The nation with the strongest AI program will achieve a more efficient economy and improve decision-making in every industry. It will also have access to autonomous weapons, devastating cyberattacks, and supercharged disinformation and propaganda.
  • And the first mover will get to set vital international norms and standards. “We should make sure how this topic is viewed around the world is based on free-market, western, liberal thinking,” Hurd said.

The report offers four recommendations:

  • More funding for R&D through agencies like the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, DARPA, and NASA.
  • Publishing government data sets, a potential boon for training data-hungry AI.
  • Developing standards for measuring the progress and dangers of AI.
  • More DARPA Grand Challenges, like the one that motivated much of the early work on autonomous driving.

Focused on broad themes, the report is thin on specifics.

  • It calls for R&D funding, but doesn’t say where money should go, said William Carter, deputy director of technology policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He says funds should focus on basic research, often overlooked by the private sector, and on mitigating the potential societal harms of AI.
  • The government should also promote the technologies that AI will depend on, like 5G and robotics, Carter wrote in an email to Axios.

While it’s early to be implementing rules, some areas show promise for regulation, said Paul Scharre, director of the technology and national security program at the Center for a New American Security.

Earlier this month, DARPA announced it’s investing $2 billion for research into more flexible and powerful AI. That’s progress, Hurd and Kelly write, as was a May summit on AI at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

What’s next: “There’s not the level of interest and urgency and immediacy that we need from government right now,” Scharre said, beyond a handful of interested lawmakers and White House staffers. “There is no national strategy.”

  • The executive branch needs to take the lead, he said, especially in driving funding.
  • One immediate spark that could boost AI research: Opening vast government datasets, like information gathered from a vast network of weather sensors, said Hurd.

Kavanaugh Drama Continues

Ken AshfordSex Scandals, Supreme Court, Trump & Administration, Women's IssuesLeave a Comment

It really is starting to look like the GOP and Trump are choosing to prevail or die on this hill.  And I’m not sure it is the best hill to die on.

SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh went on Trump TV (Fox News) last night with his wife, and — imagine this — denied that he sexually assaulted Dr. Ford in high school.  He doubled down in a way, saying that he was a virgin throughout high school (which is sweet, but entirely irrelevant) and touted his own bonafides as being respectful of women, even back then.

As for the second allegation, Kavanaugh cited his college reputation as evidence he’s been falsely accused by former Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez, who told the New Yorker Kavanaugh once thrust his genitals into her face at a party.

“The women I knew in college and the men I knew in college say it’s inconveivable that I could have done such a thing,” he said.

But around the same time Kavanaugh was making that claim on Fox News, his former Yale roommate, James Roche, told the Bay Area ABC affiliate that he believes Ramirez.

“I concluded that although Brett was normally reserved, he was a notably heavy drinker, even by the standards of the time, and that he became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk,” Roche told ABC 7. “I did not observe the specific incident in question, but I do remember Brett frequently drinking excessively and becoming incoherently drunk.”

Roche said it was “believable” to him that Kavanaugh was part of a group of men who thought it was fun to torment women.

“I do not consider myself to be a political person and I have no political agenda,” he added. “I have shared this information with a small number of reporters who reached out to me directly because Debbie has a right to be heard and I believe her.”

Also last night following the interview, the New York Times published a deep dive into Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook page. The reporting drilled in on a comment on the page — “Renate Alumnius” — that traced back to high school boasts about the pursuit of a Catholic girls’ school student named Renate Schroeder. The news came as an unpleasant surprise to Schroeder, now Renate Schroeder Dolphin, as described on the Time’s homepage. She told the Times she did not know about the yearbook page and also contradicted a statement from Kavanaugh that the two shared an innocent high school kiss.

“I can’t begin to comprehend what goes through the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue,” she told the Times. “I pray their daughters are never treated this way.”

During his Fox News interview, Brett Kavanaugh said repeatedly that he wants a “fair process.” That phrase shows up 23 times in the transcript of the interview, in fact. Usually “I just want a fair process where I can be heard” or “I want a fair process where I can defend my integrity.” But when he was asked whether he supports an FBI investigation, he dodged—again using the phrase “fair process,” twice, and “I want to be heard” as well. But Kavanaugh definitely didn’t say that a fair process would involve him being heard by the FBI.

And then there is this:

 A third woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct will come forward in the next 48 hours, according to Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for adult film star and alleged President Donald Trump mistress Stormy Daniels.

Following a Monday hearing over Daniels’ lawsuit against Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen over a hush-money deal, Avenatti told reporters he has been hired by a former employee of both the State Department and the U.S. Mint who has information of a sexual nature about Kavanaugh and his high school friend Mark Judge.

“It will relate to how they behaved at countless house parties,’’ Avenatti said.

Avenatti also told reporters the woman, whom he did not name, has multiple security clearances and will “literally risk her life’’ by coming forward. He called her “100 percent credible,’’ saying she has multiple witnesses to corroborate her story and would be willing to take a polygraph if Kavanaugh does as well.

We shall see what happens, but a FOX POLL(!) shows Kavanaugh is not going over well.

Trump et al would be wise to withdraw the nomination.  But he needs to be convinced of that, and I’m not sure anyone is making that argument. And even if he is persuaded, he needs to find a face-saving way to do it.  Maybe he’ll just put the screws to Kavanaugh himself to resign.

But in the context of the Kavanaugh fight, Trump’s view that he and people like him should be able to do whatever they like with impunity has stained and corrupted the process of selecting a new Justice from top to bottom.

Some new reporting in The Post sheds light on Trump’s state of mind, now that the Kavanaugh nomination is in some doubt. Trump is “simmering with frustration” over the sluggish pace of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, and he and his aides are angry at Senate Republicans over it (bolding added):

Despite their public projections of unity, Trump and his aides behind the scenes see Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) as having been too accommodating to Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor who has alleged that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when he was 17, by delaying her hearing until Thursday. The president has said that Republicans are too easily manipulated by Democrats, that he is sick of Ford’s attorneys getting their way and that he does not believe her accusations are credible, according to a Republican briefed on Trump’s private comments.

For today, I hope it is quieter, as each side goes to its respective corner.

UPDATE — Fuel on the fire:

Key vote in Murkowski….

And the white men have got a ringer….

MORE UPDATE — As for Michael Avenatti’s claim of another woman, it could be that he is susceptible to trolls.

Or not….

Breaking: Rosenstein Resigning? Fired?

Ken AshfordBreaking News, L'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Hard to tell what is happening. There are conflicting reports:

In any event, Rosenstein is being summoned to the White House.  THAT much is confirmed.

There is a third possibility that Rosenstein is going to the White House simply to “clear the air” after a report in the New York Times that he suggested talking to Trump while wired to get evidence for a possible 25th Amendment removal. (Rosenstein vehemently denied this).

To be continued….

UPDATE: Rosenstein was neither fired nor compelled to resign.  Trump is in New York at the Trump Tower, preparing to give an offensive speech about immigrants tomorrow.  He and Rosenstein will meet later this week.

More Women Accuse Kavanaugh

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

From The New Yorker:

As Senate Republicans press for a swift vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Senate Democrats are investigating a new allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh. The claim dates to the 1983-84 academic school year, when Kavanaugh was a freshman at Yale University. The offices of at least four Democratic senators have received information about the allegation, and at least two have begun investigating it. Senior Republican staffers also learned of the allegation last week and, in conversations with The New Yorker, expressed concern about its potential impact on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Soon after, Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote. The Democratic Senate offices reviewing the allegations believe that they merit further investigation.

“This is another serious, credible, and disturbing allegation against Brett Kavanaugh. It should be fully investigated,” Senator Mazie Hirono, of Hawaii, said. An aide in one of the other Senate offices added, “These allegations seem credible, and we’re taking them very seriously. If established, they’re clearly disqualifying.”

The woman at the center of the story, Deborah Ramirez, who is fifty-three, attended Yale with Kavanaugh, where she studied sociology and psychology. Later, she spent years working for an organization that supports victims of domestic violence. The New Yorker contacted Ramirez after learning of her possible involvement in an incident involving Kavanaugh. The allegation was conveyed to Democratic senators by a civil-rights lawyer. For Ramirez, the sudden attention has been unwelcome, and prompted difficult choices. She was at first hesitant to speak publicly, partly because her memories contained gaps because she had been drinking at the time of the alleged incident. In her initial conversations with The New Yorker, she was reluctant to characterize Kavanaugh’s role in the alleged incident with certainty. After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney,

Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away. Ramirez is now calling for the F.B.I. to investigate Kavanaugh’s role in the incident. “I would think an F.B.I. investigation would be warranted,” she said.

In a statement, Kavanaugh wrote, “This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple. I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name—and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building—against these last-minute allegations.”

The White House spokesperson Kerri Kupec said the Administration stood by Kavanaugh. “This 35-year-old, uncorroborated claim is the latest in a coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats designed to tear down a good man. This claim is denied by all who were said to be present and is wholly inconsistent with what many women and men who knew Judge Kavanaugh at the time in college say. The White House stands firmly behind Judge Kavanaugh.”

Ramirez said that, when both she and Kavanaugh were freshmen at Yale, she was invited by a friend on the women’s soccer team to a dorm-room party. She recalled that the party took place in a suite at Lawrance Hall, in the part of Yale known as Old Campus, and that a small group of students decided to play a drinking game together. “We were sitting in a circle,” she said. “People would pick who drank.” Ramirez was chosen repeatedly, she said, and quickly became inebriated. At one point, she said, a male student pointed a gag plastic penis in her direction. Later, she said, she was on the floor, foggy and slurring her words, as that male student and another stood nearby. (Ramirez identified the two male onlookers, but, at her request, The New Yorker is not naming them.)

A third male student then exposed himself to her. “I remember a penis being in front of my face,” she said. “I knew that’s not what I wanted, even in that state of mind.” She recalled remarking, “That’s not a real penis,” and the other students laughing at her confusion and taunting her, one encouraging her to “kiss it.” She said that she pushed the person away, touching it in the process. Ramirez, who was raised a devout Catholic, in Connecticut, said that she was shaken. “I wasn’t going to touch a penis until I was married,” she said. “I was embarrassed and ashamed and humiliated.” She remembers Kavanaugh standing to her right and laughing, pulling up his pants. “Brett was laughing,” she said. “I can still see his face, and his hips coming forward, like when you pull up your pants.” She recalled another male student shouting about the incident. “Somebody yelled down the hall, ‘Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie’s face,’ ” she said. “It was his full name. I don’t think it was just ‘Brett.’ And I remember hearing and being mortified that this was out there.”

Ramirez acknowledged that there are significant gaps in her memories of the evening, and that, if she ever presents her story to the F.B.I. or members of the Senate, she will inevitably be pressed on her motivation for coming forward after so many years, and questioned about her memory, given her drinking at the party.

And yet, after several days of considering the matter carefully, she said, “I’m confident about the pants coming up, and I’m confident about Brett being there.” Ramirez said that what has stayed with her most forcefully is the memory of laughter at her expense from Kavanaugh and the other students. “It was kind of a joke,” she recalled. “And now it’s clear to me it wasn’t a joke.”

Kudos to Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow. Oh, but that’s not all.

Lawyer Michael Avenatti told the Senate Judiciary Committee late Sunday that he has multiple witnesses who can say Brett Kavanaugh participated in gang rapes of drunken women during high school.

“We are aware of significant evidence of multiple house parties in the Washington, D.C. area during the early 1980s during which Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge and others would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs in order to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them,” Avenatti said in an email to Mike Davis, chief counsel for nominations for the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Avenatti did not disclose any details or identities of his witnesses.

Oh, but that’s not all.

Investigators in Montgomery County, Maryland, where Kavanaugh grew up, “confirmed Monday they’re aware of a potential second sexual assault complaint in the county,” the Montgomery Sentinel reports:

While investigators weren’t specific and spoke on background, they said they are looking at allegations against Kavanaugh during his senior year in high school after an anonymous witness came forward this weekend.

It’s not yet clear if this is the same person Michael Avenatti has said he’s representing, so, if this report is validated, there might be four sets of allegations or it might still be three. 

At this point, the White House and the Republicans in Congress appear to be doubling and tripling down on Kavanaugh, a terrible idea politically as the elections are coming up.

But with an agree-upon heariong set for Thursday, questions abound:

WHAT IS MITCH MCCONNELL THINKING? A congressional leader is supposed to shield their members from tough votes — and there is no one better at that than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Whether the allegations are proven or not, has the vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh become too politically toxic for Republican senators to take? Will he, somehow, nudge Kavanaugh out, press PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP to nominate someone new and try to get the nominee through in the lame-duck?

WILL KAVANAUGH WITHDRAW? Kavanaugh is a veteran Republican who signed up decades ago for a conservative reimagining of the court. Would he advise a friend in his shoes to stick it out? Or would he say that this nomination is hurting the larger cause?

WHAT DO THE FENCE-SITTERS SAY? Does this make it easier for REPUBLICAN SENS. SUSAN COLLINS (MAINE) and LISA MURKOWSKI (ALASKA) — and even JEFF FLAKE (ARIZ.) and BOB CORKER (TENN.) — to wash their hands of Kavanaugh? Has a no vote become that much easier? A no vote just got much easier for JOE MANCHIN (D-W.VA.)HEIDI HEITKAMP (D-N.D.) and all other Democrats.

WHERE IS TRUMP? If there’s one thing we know about the president, it’s that he hates losing. Does he believe a Kavanaugh withdrawal makes Kavanaugh look like a loser — but does not affect his standing? If so, Kavanaugh is gone. Does he believe Kavanaugh withdrawing would make him a loser? If that’s the case, he’ll probably stick by his guy, and try to push him through.

THE HEARING ON THURSDAY — if it ends up happening — is going to be a session about Kavanaugh’s high school and college behavior. Democrats will ask how much he drank and how much he partied.

UPDATE: Kavanaugh letter to Committee

Then why doesn’t he want an investigation by the FBI?

Meanwhile…

Republicans are no longer pretending where they stand on this:

Dr. Ford responds to Committee – a personal letter not through her lawyer:

Aaaaand Grassley responds:

Kavanaugh to do a media blitz with friendly news outlet (Fox News)

And whooooooaaaa:

Weekly List 97

Ken AshfordWeekly ListLeave a Comment

This week the news was dominated by accusations of sexual assault against Trump’s nominee for Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, as the accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford came forward. Trump restrained himself from attacking Dr. Ford until Friday, but Republican senators and GOP operatives were out in full force all week.  Senate Judiciary Committee member Orrin Hatch called Dr. Ford, “mixed up,” while conservative legal commentator Ed Whalen tried to pin the blame for the assault on Kavanaugh’s classmate. Meanwhile, Republicans sought to temper comparisons to the Anita Hill hearings with midterms approaching, amid concerns about the party’s declining standing with suburban women voters.

The Mueller probe continues to move ahead, as this week we learned Michael Cohen is cooperating, along with Paul Manafort. Trump took unprecedented steps in an effort to undermine the FBI and the Mueller probe by ordering the declassification and release of Carter Page’s surveillance documents and other officials’ text messages, but later in the week reversed his decision. Rumors and concern swirled Friday that Trump may fire Rosenstein, using a NYT article claimed Rosenstein secretly suggested recording Trump and discussed the 25th Amendment as a pretext. The story was later contradicted in reporting by the Post and NBC News, which suggested Rosenstein was being sarcastic and did not mention the 25th Amendment.

  1. European biggest economic powers, led by France, Germany, and Britain, are planning to create a “special purpose” financial company to thwart Trump’s sanctions and allow Iran to continue to sell oil in the EU.
  2. In an email, the Texas Farm Bureau, the largest farm organization in Texas, instructed employees not to wear Nike apparel while at work.
  3. The WNBA Champion Seattle Storm have not been invited by Trump to the White House, nor would the team reportedly attend if an invitation is offered. Trump did not invite the Minnesota Lynx last year, breaking years of tradition.
  4. On Sunday, two days after the announcement that Paul Manafort is cooperating in the Mueller probe,Trump tweeted the “illegal Mueller Witch Hunt continues in search of a crime.”
  5. Trump also tweeted, “there was never Collusion with Russia, except by the Clinton campaign,” adding the “17 Angry Democrats” are looking for anything, and calling it “Very unfair and BAD for the country.”
  6. On Sunday, on “Meet the Press,” FEMA director Brock Long defended Trump, questioning the relevance of independent studies which found thousands of deaths in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
  7. Long tried to differentiate between direct deaths and “indirect deaths” to refute the George Washington study, saying there was a tenuous link between indirect deaths and the federal government’s response.
  8. On Sunday, WAPO reported Long is resisting an effort by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to fire him in the midst of hurricane season over his alleged misuse of government vehicles.
  9. The number two position at FEMA is also vacant as Trump’s nominee, Peter Gaynor, awaits confirmation. Trump’s first nominee, Daniel Craig, withdrew over falsified work and travel records under George W. Bush.
  10. On Monday, NYT reported the House Oversight Committee will launch an investigation into whether Long repeatedly misused government vehicles to commute from Washington to his home in North Carolina.
  11. Committee chair Rep. Trey Gowdy sent a letter to Long on Monday requesting documentation and other information. Gowdy gave Long until October 1 to produce relevant documents.
  12. On Tuesday, Politico reported John Veatch, a senior official and Trump appointee at FEMA was suspended without pay on Friday related to a DHS inspector general investigation into Long.
  13. On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the Trump regime will lower the cap on the number of refugees that can be resettled in the U.S. to 30,000 for 2019.
  14. The number represents the lowest cap since the program was put into place in 1980. Trump had set the cap to 45,000 for 2018, significant lower than the cap in place of 110,000 under Obama for 2017.
  15. The reduced cap is the culmination of efforts by Stephen Miller, who had advocated for a 25,000 cap as part of his efforts to severely restrict the number of refugees offered protection inside the country.
  16. To justify the reduction, Pompeo cited the backlog of 800,000 asylum seekers who are awaiting a decision by immigration authorities. NYT reported, according to DHS, the number is just under 320,000.
  17. Advocates accused the regime of pitting those seeking asylum against refugees. Although the cap is 45,000, thus far the regime has only admitted 20,918 so far in 2018, less than half the cap.
  18. Border Patrol agent Juan David Ortiz confessed to killing four people on the Southern border in September 2018. The victims — four women, one of whom was transgender — who he shot in the head, were sex workers.
  19. On Wednesday, in an opinion, Jeff Sessions wrote that immigration judges don’t have “free-floating power” to end deportation cases. Sessions reversed an immigration judge’s decision to terminate a removal case.
  20. A representative of the national union of immigration judges said Sessions’ move is part of a broader effort to limit judges’ independence, and shows the Trump regime’s “political approach” to immigration courts.
  21. CNN reported, confirming of the worst fears of immigrants and their advocates, ICE has arrested dozens of undocumented immigrants who came forward to take care of migrant children in government custody.
  22. On Friday, ICE in Detroit halted the deportation of Francis Anwana for at least 30 days after public outcry. Anwana is deaf and cognitively disabled.
  23. PBS reported on a Republican Party “identity crisis” as a handful of GOP congressional candidates this year have openly expressed or supported racist views. One appeared alongside Jason Kessler, a white nationalist.
  24. The Cap Times reported a constituent called 911 on Dane County Supervisor Shelia Stubbs as she was out canvassing for an Assembly seat. The caller reported a suspected drug deal. Stubbs is a black American.
  25. News Star reported a white teen in Louisiana was jailed after reportedly putting a noose around a black students neck. The teen said he wanted to see how many black boys’ necks he could put it around and get photos.
  26. The Fort Bend County Republicans in Texas issued an apology, after releasing a campaign ad in the India Herald with an image of Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu deity, and likening it to the GOP elephant.
  27. Mother Jones reported that new documents released as part of a lawsuit by New York state directlycontradict Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ claims about the origins of the census citizenship question.
  28. An email reveals when Ross asked a top aide to get the DOJ to come up with a pretext for adding the question, they balked. The aide cited the bad press Justice was getting at the time with “the whole Comey matter.”
  29. On Friday, a federal judge ruled Wilbur Ross must sit for a deposition in a lawsuit challenging the department’s decision to ask U.S. residents about their citizenship, saying his “intent and credibility are directly at issue.”
  30. On Monday, a judge ruled that Georgia will continue using its touchscreen voting machines for the midterms, despite concern that the technology of the machines leaves them vulnerable to hacking.
  31. The judge rebuked Georgia and state election officials over their handling of election security. Georgia is one of 14 states using machines that do not leave a paper trail voting record.
  32. On Tuesday, Politico reported newly released records reveal Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao flew on Federal Aviation Administration planes rather than commercial flights on seven occasions.
  33. Records show the total cost to taxpayers for flights between January and August 2017 was roughly $94,000, including one flight to and around Europe that cost taxpayers an estimated $68,892 for her and five staffers.
  34. On Tuesday, Trump released a video praising the response to Hurricane Florence, saying Florence was a “tough” hurricane, and that it is one of the “wettest we’ve ever seen, from the standpoint of water.”
  35. NYT reported at the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, much of Puerto Rico is still in ruins. Hundreds of thousands of people across the island are still living in homes in desperate need of repair.
  36. Of the 1.1 million households that sought help, FEMA inspected 754,336 homes for damage, and just 138,572 household received a grant for repairs. Two-thirds of the grants were for less than $3,000.
  37. The Hill reported, according to a letter sent to Sen. Tom Carper, the Office of Special Counsel warnedStephanie Grisham, First Lady Melania Trump’s spokesperson, over a tweet found to be in violation of the Hatch Act.
  38. Several other members of the Trump regime, including Kellyanne Conway and U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley have also been in violation of the Hatch Act, but no punishments have been levied by the White House.
  39. On Wednesday, Sen. Ron Wyden wrote a letter to Senate leaders alerting them that his office has discovereda number of senators and Senate staff members were warned that their emails were being targeted.
  40. On Thursday, Google confirmed that it has warned some senators and Senate aides that their personal Google accounts have been the targets of attempted hacks backed by foreign governments.
  41. BuzzFeed reported based on internal emails it obtained, Trump’s July 26, 2017 tweet on the transgender military ban caused chaos at the Pentagon, where policy changes are typically rolled out after months or years.
  42. Despite Trump claiming to have consulted with “my Generals and military experts,” the Pentagon was blindsided. One email sent shortly after Trump’s tweets said, “Boss needs to see this now,” and “Unbelievable!”
  43. On Sunday, WAPO reported California professor Christine Blasey Ford is the author of the confidential letter on Brett Kavanaugh, detailing allegations of sexual assault when they were in high school.
  44. Ford feared for her life during the attack, and later told her husband in 2012 and her therapist in sessions. She held off going public for fear of her and her family’s safety, but said reporters were close to outing her identity.
  45. Ford engaged Debra Katz, a Washington lawyer known for her work on sexual harassment cases. Ford took a polygraph test administered by a former FBI agent in early August, and passed.
  46. On Sunday, Donald Jr. mocked Ford on his Instagram account, posting a meme depicting a grade school love letter, written in crayon, asking “will you be my girlfreind” and was signed “love, Bret.”
  47. Sen. Jeff Flake slammed Donald Jr.’s Instagram post, tweeting “This is sickening. No one should make light of this situation.”
  48. On Monday, Sens. Flake, Bob Corker, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins said the Senate should delay the vote and hear from Ford. Chairman Chuck Grassley said Ford deserves to be heard, but would not say if the vote would be delayed.
  49. On Tuesday, in an op-ed, Anita Hill said, “the Senate Judiciary Committee still lacks a protocol for vetting sexual harassment and assault claims that surface during a confirmation hearing,” and gave suggestions.
  50. On Tuesday, in a letter to Grassley, Katz called for an FBI investigation: “A full investigation by law enforcement officials.” Katz has also called for other witnesses including Mark Judge, who was allegedly in the room.
  51. On Tuesday, Trump said he does not think the FBI should involved in investigating Ford’s allegations, falsely claiming this “is not what they do.” The FBI did investigate allegations by Anita Hill against Clarence Thomas.
  52. On Tuesday, NYT reported Ford has been inundated with vulgar email and social media messages, and death threats. She has gone into hiding, and has arranged for private security for herself and her family.
  53. On Tuesday, Vanity Fair reported Kavanaugh’s imperiled confirmation has unsettled Trump and the White House. The threat of losing the Senate and the House in midterms has stopped Trump from attacking Ford.
  54. Trump is also concerned about losing in the midterms, and reportedly told a friend in the Oval Office last week that it would be Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan’s fault if Republicans lost the House and the Senate.
  55. On Wednesday, Trump told reporters that it is “very hard for me to imagine anything happened” between Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, calling Kavanaugh an “outstanding man.”
  56. Trump also said of the possibility of Ford testifying, “If she shows up and makes a credible showing, that will be very interesting, and we’ll have to make a decision.”
  57. On Monday, Bloomberg reported Mueller’s team will seek to have Michael Flynn sentenced as soon as November 28, indicating his cooperation with the Special Counsel is complete.
  58. According to federal guidelines, Flynn could face as long as six months; although others who cooperated received lighter sentences: George Papadopoulos got 14 days and Alex van der Zwaan got 30 days.
  59. Politico reported Manafort’s plea deal contains several provisions that appear intended to discourage Manafort from seeking a pardon from Trump, and rein in the impact of any pardon Trump might grant.
  60. The deal says if Manafort’s guilty pleas or convictions are wiped out for any reason, prosecutors have the right to charge him with any other crimes he may have committed or confessed to during plea negotiations.
  61. On Monday, AP reported that in a November 2010 letter it obtained, Julian Assange gave a friend authority “to both drop off and collect my passport” as he tried to relocate to Russia. Interpol issued a red alert, preventing it.
  62. A trove of emails obtained show when Wikileaks planned to publicize 250,000 U.S. State Department cables. When Swedish authorities moved in on Assange, he wrote to the Russian Consulate in London for help.
  63. Guardian reported Russian diplomats held secret talks in London last year with people associated with Julian Assange to set up a secret plan to help him escape the U.K.
  64. The involved smuggling Assange out of Ecuador’s London embassy on Christmas Eve in 2017 in a diplomatic vehicle and transporting him to another country, with the ultimate destination being Russia.
  65. The plan was put in place to avoid having Assange extradited to the U.S. as part of the Mueller investigation, but was abandoned after being judged as too risky.
  66. On Tuesday, NYT reported although Trump’s legal team has expanded to nearly a dozen lawyers, they are struggling to understand where the investigations could be headed and the extent of Trump’s legal exposure.
  67. Trump’s legal team is representing him in two federal investigations, one in Washington and one in New York. Reportedly it is not clear if Trump has given his lawyers a full account of his decades running the Trump Org.
  68. His legal team also has limited knowledge of what senior regime officials and Trump’s business associates have told investigators. Manafort cooperating brings a new level of uncertainty.
  69. Former attorney John Dowd’s strategy of cooperating with the Mueller probe has failed. Dowd has told associates that strategy was based on his believing Trump when he said he did nothing wrong.
  70. The Times compiled an interactive article titled, “The Plot to Subvert an Election: Unraveling the Russia Story So Far,” which gave a two year summary of what we have learned and what it means.
  71. Over the two years, Trump’s position on contacts with Russian has evolved from: there were none; then, that they did not amount to collusion; next, that in any case collusion was not a crime.
  72. Russians had dozens of contacts during the campaign with Trump aides and associates, who seemed enthusiastic about meetings in Moscow, London, New York, and Louisville, Kentucky.
  73. Russian intervention involved American companies including Facebook and Twitter; engaging American feelings about immigration and race; and using American journalists eager for scoops; as well as Russian trolls.
  74. On Wednesday, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow told CNN, without evidence, that NBC edited the interview in which Trump told Lester Holt he was thinking of “this Russia thing” when fired Comey.
  75. On Thursday, ABC News reported over the past month, Michael Cohen has participated in multiple interview sessions lasting for hours with investigators from Mueller’s office.
  76. The interviews took place in New York and Washington, D.C., and parts were attended by prosecutors from the Southern District of New York. Cohen’s participation was voluntary.
  77. Mueller’s team has primarily questioned Cohen on Trump’s financial and business dealings with Russia, and alleged collusion by the Trump campaign with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
  78. Cohen has reportedly also been questioned on whether Trump or any of his associates had discussed the possibility of a pardon with Cohen. Cohen recently launched a GoFundMe page to help pay his mounting legal fees.
  79. On Friday, WSJ reported as head of Trump’s legal defense team, Dowd tried to help pay legal fees for Manafort and Gates, initially trying to divert money from the White House legal defense fund, then later, to solicit funds.
  80. On February 22, 2018, Dowd said in an email Manafort and Gates need funds immediately, and that he planned to donate $25,000 to Manafort’s defense. The next day, Gates pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate.
  81. Trump aides and associates warned Dowd his efforts to donate and raise money would look improper. Dowd told the WSJ he “did not make that contribution.”
  82. On Friday, ABC News reported Roger Stone associate Jerome Corsi, who until recently served as the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for Infowars, met with the federal grand jury convened in Mueller’s Russia probe.
  83. At least 11 people associated with Stone have been contacted by Mueller’s team including Michael Caputo, Sam Nunberg, Kristin Davis, John Kakanis, Jason Sullivan, and Andrew Miller.
  84. On Friday, BuzzFeed reported $3.3 million began moving on June 3 between two of the men who orchestrated the June 9 Trump Tower meeting: Aras Agalarov and Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze.
  85. NYT reported Russian billionaire oligarch Konstantin Nikolaev, who was recently revealed as a backer of Maria Butina, has been a source of funds for business ventures useful to the Russian military and security services.
  86. On Saturday, WAPO reported K.T. McFarland, who served briefly as Michael Flynn’s deputy, revised her statement to investigators about a key event in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  87. In the summer of 2017, McFarland denied to FBI investigators that she had spoken to Flynn about his discussion of sanctions with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in December 2016, during the transition.
  88. On Monday, in a surprise announcement, Trump ordered the Justice Department to declassify significant materials from the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  89. Trump ordered the DOJ to immediately declassify 20 pages of a surveillance application that targeted Carter Page, as well as the the unredacted text messages of several former high-level DOJ and FBI officials.
  90. Trump ordered text messages sent by Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and Bruce Ohr to be released — all of whom have been targets of Trump’s continued ire.
  91. The White House said the order came at the request of “a number of committees of Congress” and was done “for reasons of transparency.”
  92. Trump’s Republican allies in the House like Reps. Mark Meadows and Devin Nunes have been pushing for the release, suggesting it would help show anti-Trump bias at the highest levels of the FBI.
  93. WAPO reported former officials described Trump’s order as “totally unprecedented,” saying even though he has the authority to do this, it is tainted by severe conflict of interest since he is the subject of investigation.
  94. WAPO also reported the Justice Department did not receive any advance instructions about the materials covered in Trump’s order, and signaled its intention to slow-walk the request.
  95. On Wednesday, in an interview with Hill.TV, Trump criticized attorney general Jeff Sessions, saying, “I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad,” adding, “I’m disappointed in the attorney general for many reasons.”
  96. Trump also said of Sessions’ confirmation process that he “did very poorly,” adding Sessions “was mixed up and confused” over “answers that should have been easily answered.”
  97. Trump also said Sessions did not need to recuse himself, saying “now it turned out he didn’t have to recuse himself,” and that would have prevented the Mueller investigation.
  98. When asked if he would fire Sessions, Trump said, “We’ll see what happens. A lot of people have asked me to do that,” adding, “We’ll see how it goes with Jeff. I’m very disappointed in Jeff. Very disappointed.”
  99. When asked about the term “deep state,” Trump said, “I don’t like to use it because it sounds so conspiratorial and believe it or not I’m really not a conspiratorial person. But I think it’s a sad day for our country.”
  100. On Comey, Trump said, “If I did one mistake with Comey I should have fired him before I got here,” adding, “I should have fired him the day I won the primaries. I should have fired him right after the convention.”
  101. Trump also said, “I’ve always said that the Russia hoax was an excuse for them losing the election,” and said of Mueller’s team, “not only that it’s fraudulent what they did…you have the 17 angry Democrats.”
  102. Speaking about his order Monday to declassify and release documents, Trump also said exposing the “corrupt” FBI probe could become one of the “crowning achievements” of his presidency.
  103. Trump admitted he had not read the documents he ordered declassified and released, but said he expected they would prove the FBI case started as a political “hoax.”
  104. Trump also added he had “been asked by many people in Congress” to release the documents, as well “many people that I respect…the great Lou Dobbs, the great Sean Hannity, the wonderful great Jeanine Pirro.”
  105. WAPO reported the interview with Hill.TV reflects that Trump feels betrayed by Sessions, and increasingly believes he is unprotected against the Mueller probe with midterms coming.
  106. Trump, family members, and longtime loyalists worry about who they can trust, rattled by Woodward’s book and the NYT op-ed. Trump is confronting crises from every direction — legal, political and personal.
  107. On Friday, Trump said he would delay the release, tweeting, the DOJ “agreed to release them” but said it may have a “perceived negative impact on the Russia probe.”
  108. Trump also tweeted, “key Allies’ called to ask not to release.” He did not specify which allies, although the U.K. and other international intelligence agencies have provided information on attempts to hack the 2016 election.
  109. Trump tweeted the Inspector General was asked to review “documents on an expedited basis,” adding, “I believe he will move quickly on this (and hopefully other things which he is looking at).”
  110. Trump reportedly changed his mind after talks with intelligence officials, including deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who explained to Trump about the ramifications of his order.
  111. On Wednesday, quoting Peter Ferrara, former advisor to President Reagan, Trump took credit for improvements in the U.S. economy, falsely claiming in tweets, “The recovery got started on Election Day 2016.”
  112. Trump also falsely claimed, “Before that it was the worst and slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression.” Ferrara made these claims while appearing on “Fox & Friends.”
  113. On Wednesday, when asked by reporters if he is worried about Manafort talking with prosecutors, he responded, “I believe that he will tell the truth, and, if he tells the truth, no problem.”
  114. When asked if he would pardon Manafort, Trump responded, “I don’t want to talk about it now.”
  115. Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported when Donald Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle announced a campaign rally at a Montana restaurant, the owner said he would not host the event, citing wanting to “stay politically neutral.”
  116. NYT reported a record 244 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender candidates will be on the ballot for midterms. Of the 430 candidates who ran in the primaries, only 20 were Republican.
  117. According to Spanish newspaper El País, Trump advised Spanish officials to build a wall to stop migrants, saying “the border with the Sahara can’t be bigger than ours with Mexico.”
  118. Spanish officials reportedly explained that the Sahara is much larger. Reportedly, the remarks were made when Foreign Minister Borrell accompanied the Spanish royal family to the White House in June.
  119. On Thursday, a poll by Abacus Data found that 9% of Canadians have a positive view of Trump, 10% are neutral, and 80% have a negative view.
  120. On Thursday, seven women who have come forward with sexual harassment allegations while working in Congress made a public plea for lawmakers to finalize a deal to strengthen the misconduct policing system.
  121. In their letter, the former aides said they were, “dismayed and disheartened by Congress’s failure to act,” and described a “culture of secrecy and an unforgiving, flawed system that protects those in power.”
  122. On Thursday, South Carolina Republican congressman Ralph Norman joked about the Kavanaugh allegations, saying, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg came out that she was groped by Abraham Lincoln.”
  123. On Wednesday, Sen. Susan Collins told WVOM in Maine, “My office has received some pretty ugly voicemails, threats, terrible things said to my staff.”
  124. On Thursday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said her office has received threats of bodily and sexual harm against staff, some naming specific employees.
  125. On Thursday, 56 protesters who were targeting the offices of swing vote Republican senators on the Kavanaugh nomination, and chanting things like, “We believe women,” were arrested by U.S. Capitol Hill Police.
  126. On Wednesday, HuffPost reported Amy Chua, a Yale Law School professor, advised students seeking judicial clerkships with Kavanaugh on their appearance, saying he liked his female clerks to have a “certain look.”
  127. On Thursday, the dean of Yale Law School said in a letter to the law school community regarding “alleged faculty misconduct,” saying “the allegations being reported are of enormous concern to me and to the School.”
  128. According to reports, Jed Rubenfeld, Chua’s husband, who is also a professor at Yale Law School, also once told a student seeking a clerkship that Kavanaugh “hires women with a certain look.”
  129. On Friday, in an open letter from Yale Law School Faculty to the Senate Judiciary Committee, faculty said“we are concerned about a rush to judgment that threatens both the integrity of the process and the public’s confidence in the Court.”
  130. The faculty also pushed for a FBI investigation, writing, “a partisan hearing alone cannot be the forum to determine the truth,” adding allegations “require a neutral factfinder and an investigation.”
  131. On Tuesday, Ed Whelan, a conservative legal commentator and former law clerk to Justice Scalia, tweeted, “By one week from today, I expect that Judge Kavanaugh will have been clearly vindicated on this matter.”
  132. On Thursday, in a series of tweets, Whelan claimed Ford had mistaken Kavanaugh with a classmate at Georgetown Prep. Ford responded she knew them both, so “there is zero chance that I would confuse them.”
  133. On Thursday, WAPO reported Kavanaugh and his allies have been discussing a defense that would not question whether the assault happened, but instead would raise doubts the attacker was Kavanaugh.
  134. On Friday morning, Whelan tweeted he had made an “inexcusable mistake” by identifying Kavanaugh’s classmate. The PR firm that helped Whelan was CRC Public Relations, the firm behind the swift boat ad.
  135. On Thursday, at a rally in Las Vegas, Trump said, “do you remember the tears from the fake news media, when it was obvious that we were going to win?” adding, “They’re still crying. Look at them. They’re still crying.”
  136. Trump also continued to talk about the 2016 election, “And we won big, 306-223. Remember? There is no way, right? There is no way that Donald Trump gets to 270. No, we got to 306.”
  137. Trump also said of today’s Democratic Party that it is “held hostage by left-wing haters, angry mobs, socialist fanatics, ‘deep-state’ bureaucrats, and their fake news allies.”
  138. On Friday, Trump abandoned his self-restraint, attacking Ford in a series of morning tweets. He called Kavanaugh “a fine man, with an impeccable reputation, who is “under assault by radical left wing politicians.”
  139. Trump also tweeted, “I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed,” asking that she bring filings forward so we “can learn date, time, and place!”
  140. Trump also tweeted, “The radical left lawyers want the FBI to get involved NOW,” adding, “why didn’t someone call the FBI 36 years ago?
  141. Trump was criticized for his tweets, including by Sen. Collins who said, “I was appalled by the president’s tweet,” and by Sen. Flake who said, “I thought that was incredibly insensitive.”
  142. In response to Trump’s tweet, thousands tweeted using the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport to share their stories of why they did not report being sexually assaulted. #WhyIDidntReport was the top trender on Friday.
  143. Trump later tweeted, “Senator Feinstein and the Democrats held the letter for months,” adding, “done very purposefully to Obstruct & Resist & Delay. Let her testify, or not, and TAKE THE VOTE!
  144. On Friday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in remarks at the Values Voter Summit, “Here’s what I want to tell you: In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court.”
  145. On Friday, Sen. Grassley set an ultimatum for Friday at 10 p.m. for Ford to say if she would testify next Wednesday, with no witnesses or FBI investigation as Ford had requested, else he threatened a vote on Monday.
  146. Sen. Collins said the committee should delay to “make it as comfortable as possible,”and Sen. Murkowski spoke out late Friday, saying “I won’t vote on Kavanaugh until hearing from his accuser.”
  147. Late Friday, Ford’s attorney Katz asked for an additional day, saying the Republicans’ arbitrary deadlines and ultimatums had created stress and anxiety for Ford.
  148. Katz said in a statement, “Your cavalier treatment of a sexual assault survivor who has been doing her best to cooperate with the Committee is completely inappropriate.”
  149. On Friday, a new USA TODAY/Ipsos Public Affairs Poll found 40% to 31% that the Senate should not approve Kavanaugh’s nomination, the first time a plurality have opposed a Supreme Court nominee since polling began.
  150. On Friday, HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a speech at the Values Voter Summit that allegations against Kavanaugh are part of a centuries-old socialist plot to take over America.
  151. On Friday, in a bombshell report, NYT reported Rosenstein suggested in the spring of 2017 that he secretly record Trump in the White House and discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment.
  152. Reportedly Rosenstein made the remarks in meetings and conversations with other DOJ and FBI officials in the days after Comey was fired and Trump divulged classified information to Russians in the Oval Office.
  153. According to the Times, not only was Rosenstein serious, but according to a memo by acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, Rosenstein suggested that McCabe secretly record his talks with Trump.
  154. In a statement, Rosenstein responded, “The New York Times’s story is inaccurate and factually incorrect,” adding, “based on my personal dealings” with Trump “there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”
  155. The revelations breaking Friday afternoon immediately drew speculation that Trump would fire Rosenstein.Donald Jr. tweeted, “No one is shocked that these guys would do anything in their power to undermine” Trump.
  156. In a second statement hours later, Rosenstein said, “I never pursued or authorized recording the president and any suggestion that I have ever advocated for the removal of the President is absolutely false.”
  157. WAPO reported both McCabe and Lisa Page, as McCabe’s in-house counsel, took notes of two meetings with Rosenstein on May 16. Both mention the recording device, but Page’s notes do not mention the 25th Amendment.
  158. According to attendees at the meeting, Rosenstein’s comment, in response to McCabe pushing to open an investigation in Trump, were said sarcastically, “What do you want to do, Andy, wire the president?
  159. NBC News likewise reported that according to a Justice Department senior official and a source who was in the room, Rosenstein’s remark was sarcastic, and Page’s notes make no mention of the 25th Amendment.
  160. Attendees the May 16, 2017 meeting included Rosenstein, McCabe, Page, and four career DOJ officials, including Scott Schools, who would later go on to sign off on the firing of McCabe.
  161. Fox New host Laura Ingraham tweeted that Rosenstein “must be fired today” when the NYT article came out, and on her show said Trump “should seriously consider whether Rod Rosenstein should remain on the job.”
  162. Later that night, at a rally in Missouri, Trump told the crowd, “We have great people in the Department of Justice,” but added, “there’s a lingering stench, and we’re going to get rid of that, too.”
  163. Later that night, Fox News host Sean Hannity said on his show, “I have a message for the president tonight. Under zero circumstances should the president fire anybody.” Ingraham later deleted her tweet.
  164. On Saturday, Garrett Ventry, a communications aid for the Senate Judiciary Committee, resigned amid questions from NBC News about a previous sexual harassment complaint.
  165. Ventry worked for North Carolina House Majority Leader John Bell, and was reportedly fired after an accusation of sexual harassment from a female employee of the NC General Assembly’s Republican staff.
  166. While doing work for the Judiciary Committee, Ventry was also employed by CRC Public Relations, a PR helping promote Kavanaugh’s nomination. CRC was also working with Ed Whalen and the Federalist Society.
  167. Ventry helped coordinate the Republicans on the committee’s messaging around Kavanaugh’s nomination. He had claimed the Judiciary Committee had “no knowledge or involvement” with Whalen and CRC’s suggestions.
  168. On Friday evening, DHS Secretary Nielsen released a statement saying FEMA director Long has been ordered to reimburse the government for his misuse of federal vehicles, but he will be allowed to remain in his job.
  169. A canoeing group filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump regime, claiming Trump’s use of his Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia has led to illegal restrictions on the abutting Potomac River.
  170. On Saturday, Trump played his 156th round of golf while in office; 155 have been at one of 17 Trump-owned golf courses. Overall, Trump has played golf 1 in 4 days since he took office.

Kavanaugh Spokesman Resigns Because He (Oh, Dear) Sexually Assaulted A Woman

Ken AshfordPolitical Scandals, Sex Scandals, Supreme Court, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

You can’t make this stuff up:

A communications adviser to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) during the Supreme Court confirmation fight has abruptly resigned after an accusation of sexual harassment — an allegation he denies. 

Garrett Ventry submitted his resignation Friday night, he said in a brief phone interview Saturday morning. He said he denies the allegation but stepped down “in order to not be a distraction” as Senate Republicans continue to work to get Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh confirmed.

“Garrett was one of several temporary staff brought on to assist in the committee’s consideration of the Supreme Court nomination, a team that has done outstanding work,” a committee spokesman said Saturday morning. “While he strongly denies allegations of wrongdoing, he decided to resign to avoid causing any distraction from the work of the committee.

The resignation is another development in the chaos that has engulfed Kavanaugh’s confirmation fight. Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor in California, accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers in an interview with The Washington Post published this week.

Kavanaugh has categorically denied the allegation and says he wants to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the matter. The committee and Ford’s lawyers are still embroiled in a standoff over the conditions of her testimony, and Grassley has asked her attorneys to respond by 2:30 p.m. Saturday to his proposal for a Wednesday hearing.

Ventry was on leave from CRC Public Relations, a prominent public relations firm for conservative causes based in Alexandria, Va., that represents influential legal groups on the right such as the Federalist Society and the Judicial Crisis Network.  And The CRC has connections to Ed Whelan, who self-immolated a few days ago when he claimed the Ford assault was a case of mistaken identity. (By the way, Whelan was checking out Professor Ford’s LinkedIn page half an hour BEFORE her name went public.  How did he know about the accusations?)

Breaking: My God

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Rosenstein Suggested He Secretly Record Trump and Discussed 25th Amendment:

The deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, suggested last year that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit.

Mr. Rosenstein made these suggestions in the spring of 2017 when Mr. Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director plunged the White House into turmoil. Over the ensuing days, the president divulged classified intelligence to Russians in the Oval Office, and revelations emerged that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey to pledge loyalty and end an investigation into a senior aide.

Mr. Rosenstein was just two weeks into his job. He had begun overseeing the Russia investigation and played a key role in the president’s dismissal of Mr. Comey by writing a memo critical of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But Mr. Rosenstein was caught off guard when Mr. Trump cited the memo in the firing, and he began telling people that he feared he had been used.

Mr. Rosenstein made the remarks about secretly recording Mr. Trump and about the 25th Amendment in meetings and conversations with other Justice Department and F.B.I. officials. Several people described the episodes, insisting on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The people were briefed either on the events themselves or on memos written by F.B.I. officials, including Andrew G. McCabe, then the acting bureau director, that documented Mr. Rosenstein’s actions and comments.

If Trump is looking for a pretext to fire Rod Rosenstein, this might be it, sarcastic or not.  On the other hand, it came from the “fake news” “failing” New York Times, so why would Trump believe it?

UPDATE:  Rosenstein has come out with a denial, per the AP.

Also, there is some conjecture that the White House itself might be behind this story. Pretext for Trump to fire? Distraction from Kavanaugh? 

Did the NY Times get played (again)???

Hmmmm….. Senator Graham isn’t buying it.

UPDATE #2 — WaPo has a different spin about what happened at the meeting:

While McCabe’s memos assert both the recording and 25th amendment conversations occurred at a meeting within days of Comey’s firing, another person at the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, insisted the recording comment was said in a moment of sarcasm, and that the 25th amendment was not discussed.

That person said the wire comment came in response to McCabe’s own pushing for the Justice Department to open an investigation into the president. To that, Rosenstein responded with what this person described as a sarcastic comment along the lines of, “What do you want to do, Andy, wire the president?”

That person insisted the statement was never discussed with any intention of recording a conversation with the president.
Another official at the meeting, then-FBI lawyer Lisa Page, wrote her own memo of the discussion which does not mention any talk of the 25th amendment, according to a second person who was familiar with her account.

A third person familiar with the discussions said McCabe had privately asserted previously that Rosenstein suggested invoking the 25th amendment and the idea of a senior law enforcement officials wearing a wire while talking to Trump.

I think the NY Times got taken.

Whoa, THIS below from Andrew McCabe’s spokesperson: