Soon-to-be-former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a frequent and acerbic critic of President Trump’s, tapped the brakes Friday on the Senate GOP’s rush to confirm Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, in a way that won’t make anybody happy, but at least should make everyone less ticked off.
Flake said he wouldn’t support holding a final vote on Kavanaugh unless the FBI investigated the allegations that have been leveled to date against the appellate judge. The investigation should be conducted right away, Flake said, and last no more than a week.
The federal judiciary is technically a nonpartisan branch of government. On Thursday, however, one member of the federal appeals court — and a potential Supreme Court justice — spewed contempt explicitly on Senate Democrats.
That would be Brett Kavanaugh, who delivered what may be the angriest, most emotional opening statement ever by a witness before the Senate Judiciary Committee. His intensity was understandable, considering the serious and occasionally salacious accusations leveled against him after the committee completed a lengthy round of hearings on his nomination. But Kavanaugh didn’t just defend himself. He said his accusers were engaged in a “calculated and orchestrated political hit” as “revenge” for President Trump’s victory.
In particular, he was angry that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), whom he — along with most of the committee’s Republican members — accused of sitting on Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation against him for a month in order to waylay his nomination. He also was furious at the committee for not rushing to let him testify as soon as Ford went public with her allegation that a youthful Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her, saying the delay gave others time to come forward with false accusations. And he was livid at other Senate Democrats for their more hyperbolic criticisms of his nomination.
The day before one of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrats on the panel asked President Trump to “immediately” withdraw the nomination — unless, that is, Trump agreed to reopen an FBI background check of Kavanaugh to examine sexual assault allegations.
Those allegations are multiplying. They now comprise not only the claim by Christine Blasey Ford, who is scheduled to testify Thursday that Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were teenagers in the early 1980s, but also the charge by Deborah Ramirez that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were students at Yale and new accusations by a Washington woman named Julie Swetnick.
On Wednesday, Swetnick’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, posted a document in which Swetnick alleged, among other things, that Kavanaugh was present at a 1982 house party at which she was gang raped. (Kavanaugh said her statement was “ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone.”)
On Wednesday, a longtime federal employee and contractor named Julie Swetnick became the third woman to come forward against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, offering a sworn affidavit Wednesday accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of “inappropriate contact of a sexual nature” with women multiple times as a high-schooler.
Her lawyer — Michael Avenatti, who also represented porn actress Stephanie Clifford (a.k.a. Stormy Daniels) in her fight with President Trump and his former attorney, Michael Cohen — says she’s ready and willing to testify. And Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) left open the possibility that his panel will hold additional hearings beyond the one scheduled for Thursday with Kavanaugh and one of his earlier Kavanaugh accusers, Christine Blasey Ford.
But Swetnick’s affidavit suggests that the committee really needs to hear from someone else: Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s prep school classmate and alleged companion on the party circuit.
Don’t feel sorry for Bill Cosby, who was sentenced to three to 10 years in prison Tuesday for aggravated indecent assault.
Perhaps it seems cruel to incarcerate a doddering, nearly blind octogenarian, but the actor and comedian is a sexual predator. Now, finally, he will be treated as one.
That includes classification as a sex offender. Dozens of women have accused Cosby of sexual assault going back four decades, but many of the incidents are long past the statute of limitations and could not be prosecuted. Cosby will be listed on a sex offender registry and will be required to report regularly to authorities and undergo monthly counseling for the rest of his life.
Barring a thunderclap revelation at Thursday’s scheduled Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, senators are heading toward a confirmation vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh that will put members in an incredibly uncomfortable position.
Two women will have leveled serious allegations of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh in his youth, with one of them, Christine Blasey Ford, potentially giving the details under oath of an alleged sexual assault by the nominee. Kavanaugh, for his part, has denied the allegations unconditionally and called the one made by a former Yale classmate a “smear.”
The committee is set to hear from just Ford and Kavanaugh on Thursday. Given the circumstances — Ford said she told no one of the assault until about six years ago, when she confided in a therapist — the result is likely to be two irreconcilably different accounts of an event that did or did not happen more than three decades ago.
Climate change affects the entire globe, obviously, but the researchers argue that the most extreme environments are suffering the most extreme changes, from melting in Glacier National Park and the Arctic to reduced rain and increased heat in the Southwest deserts. And that’s where most of the nation’s parkland happens to be, such as Denali National Park in Alaska, Yosemite National Park here in California and the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.
In fact, researchers warn that 90% of Joshua trees may be gone by the end of the century as their high-elevation habitat becomes too warm for them. The stress already has had a significant impact, with younger trees not sprouting and older trees dying out.
Just how much is Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein going to enjoy his next three days at the office?
Monday opened with the news that Rosenstein — the Justice Department official who oversees special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation — was heading to the White House to turn in his resignation. By mid-day, though, the story had changed, with Rosenstein scheduled to meet with President Trump on Thursday to discuss his fate.
“Because the President is at the United Nations General Assembly and has a full schedule with leaders from around the world, they will meet on Thursday when the President returns to Washington, D.C.,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders explained.
Republicans who fear that Silicon Valley’s tech titans are actively suppressing conservative voices and ideas have focused their suspicions lately on Google, the internet’s dominant search engine. The Wall Street Journal gave them more ammunition on Friday, reporting that leaked emails from inside Google showed employees discussing ways to “tweak the company’s search-related functions to show users how to contribute to pro-immigration organizations and contact lawmakers and government agencies” in the days after President Trump announced his travel ban.
This story comes about a week after Breitbart News published a leaked internal video showing upset Google executives and employees commiserating about Trump’s surprise victory in November 2016. According to Breitbart, the video “reveals an atmosphere of panic and dismay amongst the tech giant’s leadership, coupled with a determination to thwart both the Trump agenda and the broader populist movement emerging around the globe.”
Google insists that its search results remain unaffected by the opinions of the people who work on the technology, however strong or uniform they may be. In a statement to the Journal, the company declared, “Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology — not in the current campaign season, not during the 2016 election, and not in the aftermath of President Trump’s executive order on immigration. Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies.”
With friends like this, Judge Brett Kavanaugh needs no enemies.
My colleague Mike McGough just outlined the idiocy of President Trump’s tweets in support of Kavanaugh on Friday. Meanwhile, a key member of the judge’s nomination-support team, Ed Whelan of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy think tank, offered a profuse but partial apology Friday for a series of tweets that accused one of Kavanaugh’s high school classmates by name of committing the alleged sexual assault that Christine Blasey Ford has claimed that Kavanaugh committed against her 36 years ago.
I made an appalling and inexcusable mistake of judgment in posting the tweet thread in a way that identified Kavanaugh's Georgetown Prep classmate. I take full responsibility for that mistake, and I deeply apologize for it. I realize that does not undo the mistake.
Note here what Whelan isn’t apologizing for: airing an elaborate and wholly speculative explanation pointing the blame for the alleged assault away from Kavanaugh. Whelan’s string of tweets, which have since been deleted, offered floor plans of a house that he said matched the description Ford offered of the site of the assault. He also noted the resemblance between Kavanaugh and the classmate who lived at the house — and included pictures of them to underline this point.