Trump Administration, Week 88: Friday, 21 September – Thursday, 27 September 2018 (Days 610-616)

Families Belong Together and Free: Rally in Williamstown, MA, Saturday, 30 June 2018

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are my emphasis. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.


Friday, 21 September 2018, Day 610:


Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Suggested Secretly Recording Trump and Discussed the 25th Amendment in the Spring of 2017, The New York Times, Adam Aoldman and Michael S. Schmidt, Friday, 21 September 2018: “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 in interviews over the past several months, 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. None of Mr. Rosenstein’s proposals apparently came to fruition. It is not clear how determined he was about seeing them through, though he did tell Mr. McCabe that he might be able to persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions and John F. Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security and now the White House chief of staff, to mount an effort to invoke the 25th Amendment.” See also, McCabe memos say Rosenstein considered secretly recording Trump, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, Friday, 21 September 2018. See also, So You Want to Use the 25th Amendment to Get Rid of Donald Trump? Here Are the Hurdles to Removing a Mentally Impaired President. The Intercept, James Risen, Friday, 21 September 2018: “Of the three major processes through which Trump could be evicted from the White House — impeachment, indictment, or a determination of mental unfitness under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution — the last may be the Republic’s only hope. Today’s polarized politics and Republican strength in Congress would make impeachment nearly impossible, while longstanding Justice Department legal opinions may convince federal prosecutors that they can’t indict a sitting president. Yet the 25th Amendment has never been used to remove a president, and the path to doing so is by no means clear.”

Kavanaugh ally Ed Whelan says he did not communicate with White House or Supreme Court nominee about his theory of another attacker, The Washington Post, Elise Viebeck, Emma Brown, and Robert Costa, Friday, 21 September 2018: “A conservative legal commentator on Friday denied communicating with the White House or Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh about his theory that the woman [Christine Blasey Ford] accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault was mistaking him for someone else. ‘I have not communicated at all with [White House counsel] Donald McGahn or anyone at the White House, or Judge Kavanaugh, about the topic of the Twitter thread,’ Ed Whelan said in a brief interview with The Washington Post…. Whelan’s claims on Twitter on Thursday evening that Ford might have been assaulted by someone else raised immediate questions about whether he had spoken to or coordinated with Republican leaders about his theory…. Whelan has been involved in helping to advise Kavanaugh’s confirmation effort and is close friends with Kavanaugh and Leonard Leo, the head of the Federalist Society, who has been helping to spearhead the nomination. On Sunday, Ford noticed that — even before her name became public — Whelan appeared to be seeking information about her. That morning, Ford alerted an associate via email that Whelan had looked at her LinkedIn page, according to the email, which was reviewed by The Post. LinkedIn allows some subscribers to see who views their pages. Ford sent the email about 90 minutes after The Post shared her name with a White House spokesman and hours before her identity was revealed in a story posted on its website.”

‘This is an extraordinary moment’: Yale Law faculty call on Senate committee to treat sexual assault allegations seriously in the hearing on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, The Washington Post, Susan Svrluga and Shelby Hanssen, Friday, 21 September 2018: “A majority of Yale Law School faculty members are urging the Senate Judiciary Committee not to rush to judgment in considering Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, a graduate of the school, and to treat seriously allegations regarding a past sexual assault. On Friday afternoon, as some Yale Law students worked on plans for protests on Monday, 47 faculty members sent a letter to the committee, writing, ‘Some questions are so fundamental to judicial integrity that the Senate cannot rush past them without undermining the public’s confidence in the Court. This is particularly so for an appointment that will yield a deciding vote on women’s rights and myriad other questions of immense consequence in American lives.’ Nearly every permanent member of the faculty joined the effort, which happened essentially overnight, said Muneer Ahmad, clinical professor of law and deputy dean for experiential education at Yale Law School. It is something that had never happened in his more than 15 years on the faculty. ‘In my view it’s an extraordinary statement that this is an extraordinary moment in our country’s history,’ with great concern about public confidence in the Supreme Court, he said. Ahmad said professors sought to express their belief that the confirmation process should proceed in a fair and deliberate way in light of the charges made by Christine Blasey Ford.”

Continue reading Week 88, Friday, 21 September – Thursday, 27 September 2018 (Days 610-616)

Senator Charles Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Extends Negotiation Deadline for Christine Blasey Ford, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Friday, 21 September 2018: “After a tense night of legal brinkmanship, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee late Friday told lawyers for the woman who has accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual assault that they can have until 2:30 p.m. Saturday to negotiate the terms of their client’s testimony before the panel next week. The chairman, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, made his announcement on Twitter shortly before midnight, after lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford sent an angry email accusing his staff of bullying their client. He directed his tweet to Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, who has flatly denied the assault and has said he is eager to testify to clear his name…. The late-night missives were the latest twist in a legal tango that has riveted Washington, with a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court hanging in the balance. The back-and-forth has also infuriated Mr. Trump, who lashed out on Friday at Dr. Blasey on Twitter, saying that if the attack ‘was as bad as she says,’ she or her parents would have reported it to the authorities when it happened more than 30 years ago…. In his tweet on Friday, Mr. Trump called on Dr. Blasey to produce contemporaneous law enforcement reports ‘so that we can learn date, time, and place!’ Dr. Blasey, who was around 15 at the time of the assault, has said publicly that she did not report it to the authorities, and that she does not recall exactly when it took place. Experts say many women are reluctant to come forward and report sexual assaults, in part because they fear they will not be believed. Mr. Trump’s broadside outraged many women, some of whom took to social media and the news media to reveal their own stories of long-ago sexual assaults. Patti Davis, the daughter of President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, wrote an opinion article for The Washington Post revealing that she was raped about 40 years ago, and like Dr. Blasey, is hazy on the details.” See also, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley says he’ll give Kavanaugh’s accuser Christine Blasey Ford more time to decide whether to testify before the committee, The Washington Post, Sean Sullivan, Seung Min Kim, and John Wagner, published on Saturday, 22 September 2018.  See also, Trump says Christine Blasey Ford must have gone to authorities. Most young assault victims don’t. The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Friday, 21 September 2018: “A 2015 poll found that only 12 percent of college women who were victims reported assaults to police.”  See also, Trump just gave cover to the egregious things these politicians have said about the sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Friday, 21 September 2018. See also, Republican Representative Ralph Norman of South Carolina Is Criticized for Joking That Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Was ‘Groped’ by Abraham Lincoln, The New York Times, Laura M. Holson, Friday, 21 September 2018. See also, ‘100 Kegs or Bust’: Brett Kavanaugh’s friend, Mark Judge, has spent years writing about high school debauchery, The Washington Post, Marc Fisher and Perry Stein, Friday, 21 September 2018. See also, ‘Kavanaugh will be on the U.S. Supreme Court’: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just erased any doubt about Republicans’ intentions to hear Ford outThe Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Friday, 21 September 2018.

Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan’s daughter, writes that she was sexually assaulted roughly 40 years ago. She writes about why she doesn’t remember many of the details. The Washington Post, Patti Davis, Friday, 21 September 2018: “Roughly 40 years ago, I showed up at a prominent music executive’s office for an appointment that had been scheduled suspiciously late in the workday. But I wasn’t suspicious. I was instead eager to try to place some of my original songs with artists he represented…. I don’t remember what the executive said about the songs. Nor do I recall what we talked about. I remember the sky turning dark outside the window behind his desk. I remember sensing that people had left the building and we were there alone. I remember his face, his hair and what he was wearing…. He crossed the room. There was a dark-green carpet, but his footsteps seemed loud, hard. He was against me, on top of me — so quickly — with his hands under my skirt and his mouth on mine, that I froze. I lay there as he pushed himself inside me. The leather couch stuck to my skin, made noises beneath me. His breath smelled like coffee and stale bread. He didn’t use a condom. I remember leaving afterward, driving home, the night around me glittered with streetlights and alive with people out at dinner or bars. I felt alone, ashamed and disgusted with myself. Why didn’t I get out of there? Why didn’t I push him off? Why did I freeze? I don’t remember what month it was. I don’t remember whether his assistant was still there when I arrived. I don’t remember whether we said anything to each other when I left his office. I never told anyone for decades — not a friend, not a boyfriend, not a therapist, not my husband when I got married years later. It doesn’t surprise me one bit that for more than 30 years, Christine Blasey Ford didn’t talk about the assault she remembers, the one she accuses Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of committing. It’s important to understand how memory works in a traumatic event. Ford has been criticized for the things she doesn’t remember, like the address where she says the assault happened, or the time of year, or whose house it was. But her memory of the attack itself is vivid and detailed. His hand over her mouth, another young man piling on, her fear that maybe she’d die there, unable to breathe. That’s what happens: Your memory snaps photos of the details that will haunt you forever, that will change your life and live under your skin. It blacks out other parts of the story that really don’t matter much.” See also, Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan’s Daughter, Tells Her Story of Sexual Assault, The New York Times, Jacey Fortin, Friday, 21 September 2018.

In Reversal, Trump No Longer Demands Declassification of Russia Documents, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Friday, 21 September 2018: “In a rare retreat, President Trump on Friday reversed himself and said he was no longer demanding that documents related to the Russia investigation be immediately declassified and released to the public. Taking to Twitter on Friday morning, Mr. Trump said that instead of an immediate release, Justice Department officials would review the documents, adding that ‘in the end I can always declassify if it proves necessary.’ Less than a week ago, Mr. Trump had ordered that law enforcement and intelligence agencies declassify and release the documents, which include text messages about the Russia inquiry, along with other documents related to the surveillance of a former Trump aide.” See also, Trump walks back his plan to declassify Russia probe documents, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Friday, 21 September 2018.

Trump administration diverts nearly a half-billion dollars from social programs to cover the expense of sheltering migrant children, The Washington Post, Amy Goldstein and Robert Moore, Friday, 21 September 2018: “Federal health officials are reshuffling nearly a half-billion dollars this year to cover the expense of sheltering a record number of migrant children in the department’s custody, according to government documents and officials. In a recent letter to several members of Congress, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the department is moving ‘up to $266 million’ to house children from other countries who are on their own, diverting money originally intended for biomedical research, HIV/AIDS services and other health-care purposes. HHS also has given its ‘unaccompanied alien children’ program all $180 million available from a discretionary pot of public health money — a fund the Obama administration used to help implement the Affordable Care Act, a law that President Trump has sought to undermine.”

Ex-Trump Lawyer John Dowd Tried to Help Pay Legal Fees for Paul Manafort, Trump’s Former Campaign Manager, and Rick Gates, the Campaign’s Deputy ChairmanThe Wall Street Journal, Rebecca Ballhaus, Friday, 21 September 2018: A top lawyer for President Trump this year sought to help pay legal fees for Paul Manafort and Richard Gates, initially trying to divert money from the White House legal defense fund and later soliciting donors and pledging $25,000 of his own. In both cases, the president’s advisers objected to the lawyer’s actions over concerns it could appear aimed at stopping the two former aides from cooperating with investigators.” Trump’s Ex-Lawyer John Dowd Is Said to Have Proposed Diverting Funds Raised in Connection With Trump to Paul Manafort, Trump’s Former Campaign Chairman, and Rick Gates, the Campaign’s Deputy Chairman, The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, Friday, 21 September 2018: “President Trump’s former lead lawyer for the special counsel investigation discussed the prospect of directing funds raised in connection with the president toward two former top campaign aides facing charges in the inquiry at the time, according to two people familiar with the plan. The lawyer, John M. Dowd, talked with others close to the case in the months before he left the legal team in March about the possibility of directing the money toward Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, and Rick Gates, the campaign’s deputy chairman. Both men have pleaded guilty to charges brought by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and Mr. Manafort was also convicted at a trial last month on monetary fraud charges in the inquiry. Mr. Dowd told associates of Mr. Trump in a Feb. 22 email that the men needed money and that he intended to donate $25,000 to Mr. Manafort’s defense fund, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported his plan…. White House officials cautioned Mr. Dowd that a move to cover expenses for Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates could look like an effort to influence them as they were deciding whether to cooperate with the special counsel, according to a person familiar with the discussions.”

Why Did Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Slash the Number of Refugees Allowed in the United States? The New Yorker, Jonathan Blitzer, Friday, 21 September 2018: “On August 22nd, Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, travelled to the White House for a meeting about refugee policy. Every summer, officials from the State Department and the National Security Council lead a series of discussions to determine the annual ‘cap’ on the number of refugees that the country can admit over the following year, and, eventually, a figure is presented to the President. Pompeo’s attendance signified that the process was nearing its conclusion. That afternoon, he was to join the other principals, including Kirstjen Nielsen, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and John Bolton, the national-security adviser, to finalize the decision. But, even at that late stage, according to three sources with knowledge of the talks, there was uncertainty. Pompeo wanted the number to be consistent with where it was for the current year, after the Trump Administration set it at forty-five thousand—the lowest level since the refugee program began, nearly forty years ago. He was at odds with an influential figure at the White House, however: President Trump’s senior policy adviser, Stephen Miller. White House officials orchestrated an informal meeting of the principals earlier in the day to gauge where everyone stood. When it became clear that Pompeo supported forty-five thousand, two former State Department officials with knowledge of the situation told me, Miller arranged to have the official meeting cancelled. It was finally held last Friday, after nearly a month of delays, and, on Monday, the Trump Administration announced its plan—it will reduce the annual refugee cap to thirty thousand. It was Pompeo who made the announcement, at a press conference in the State Department Treaty Room, but ‘Miller’s takeover of the State Department is now complete,’ one of the former officials told me…. It still isn’t clear what, exactly, led Pompeo to change his position, but former State Department officials told me that Miller was clearly involved. ‘No one wants to cross him,’ one said. ‘Pompeo probably didn’t care enough about this issue to fight Miller on it. Miller has made the cost of opposition so high.’ In the past, officials who reportedly clashed with Miller on refugee policy—such as Larry Bartlett, at the State Department, and Jennifer Arangio, at the N.S.C.—have been sidelined or fired. (Neither could be reached for comment.)”

State Department Team Led by Former Raytheon Lobbyist Charles Faulkner Pushed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Support Yemen War Because of Arms SalesThe Intercept, Lee Fang and Alex Emmons, Friday, 21 September 2018: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo faced internal opposition to U.S. support for the war in Yemen from State Department staff, according to a recent report. The staffers had become concerned by the rising civilian death toll in the war being carried out by Persian Gulf monarchies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — not only owing to bombings of densely populated areas, but also a humanitarian crisis exacerbated by the fighting, with up to 8.4 million people at risk of starvation. Those concerns, however, were overruled after Pompeo discussed the matter with the State Department’s legislative affairs team. The legislative affairs staff, according to the Wall Street Journal, argued that restricting U.S. support would endanger billions of dollars in future weapons sales, including a massive sale of precision-guided munitions between Raytheon, a U.S. weapons manufacturer, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE. That staff — the legislative affairs team at the State Department — is led by a former Raytheon lobbyist. Before his presidential appointment last June, Acting Assistant Secretary of State Charles Faulkner was paid handsomely by Raytheon to lobby lawmakers on defense procurement issues, ethics records show…. The U.S. has provided logistical support to the Saudi- and UAE-led coalition since March 2015, when the Gulf countries began their intervention in Yemen. In addition to the weapons and refueling support, the U.S. provides the coalition with targeting intelligence. The continued support has come despite the coalition’s repeated bombings of civilians, including a wedding in April and a school bus carrying children last month.”

Federal judge compels Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to be deposed in suit challenging citizenship question, The Washington Post, Julie Zauzmer, Friday, 21 September 2018: “A federal judge ordered Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to sit for a deposition in a lawsuit challenging Ross’s addition of a question about citizenship to the U.S. census, in a new opinion filed Friday. The government had sought to shield Ross from answering questions about his decision to ask U.S. residents filling out the census questionnaire about their citizenship, a decision which attorneys general from 17 states and the District say discriminates against predominantly immigrant communities. The 18 attorneys general plus several cities bringing the lawsuit, led by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, say that as the Trump administration takes numerous actions to curtail both legal and illegal immigration, a question about citizenship would frighten some residents, especially immigrants, so much that they would not fill out the census at all. Their communities would then be undercounted, leading the government to provide less federal funding for services like roads and schools.”

FEMA administrator Brock Long will reimburse government for his misuse of federal vehicles, but he will be allowed to remain in his job, The Washington Post, Nick Miroff and Josh Dawsey, Friday, 21 September 2018: “FEMA Administrator William ‘Brock’ Long has been ordered to reimburse the government for his misuse of federal vehicles, but he will be allowed to remain in his job, according to statements from Long and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen released late Friday. The statements appeared to be aimed at overcoming a tense feud between Long and Nielsen that has distracted staff at the Federal Emergency Management Agency— where Long is well liked — right at the moment that the agency is coping with flooding from Hurricane Florence.” See also, FEMA Administrator Brock Long Must Reimburse U.S. for Misuse of Agency Vehicles, The New York Times, Sarah Mervosh, published on Saturday, 22 September 2018.

Trump Administration Proposes Weakening Rules Governing Organ Transplant Centers, ProPublica, Mike Hixenbaugh (Houston Chronicle) and Charles Ornstein, Friday, 21 September 2018: “The Trump administration this week proposed eliminating a decade-old regulation that puts hospitals at risk of losing their Medicare funding if too many of their patients die or suffer organ failure after receiving transplants. The rule the government is proposing to scrap is the same one that led the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to cut off funding last month for heart transplants at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston after an investigation by ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle revealed an outsized number of patient deaths and complications in recent years.”


Saturday, 22 September 2018, Day 611:


Christine Blasey Ford moves closer to deal with Senate Republicans to testify against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Sean Sullivan, and Emma Brown, published at 12:27 on Sunday, 23 September 2018: “Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, moved closer Saturday to reaching an agreement with Republicans for her to testify at a Senate hearing Thursday. Ford’s representatives and Senate negotiators zeroed in on an arrangement for her to tell her story in a Thursday hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to people familiar with the situation. The talks were expected to continue Sunday.” See also,  A Tentative Agreement Has Been Reached Between the Senate Judiciary Committee and Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford for Ford to Publicly Testify on Thursday, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Saturday, 22 September 2018: “The Senate Judiciary Committee and lawyers for the woman who has accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her decades ago reached a tentative agreement on Saturday for her to publicly testify on Thursday, an apparent breakthrough that could alter the course of a bitter confirmation fight. After a brief call late on Saturday, the woman’s lawyers and aides to Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, planned to talk again Sunday morning to continue the halting negotiations over the conditions of the testimony, according to three people familiar with the call. Aides to Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the committee’s top Democrat, were also involved. But in a possible setback for the woman, Christine Blasey Ford, Republicans on the committee received a statement on Saturday that seemed to eliminate any chance of corroboration of Dr. Blasey’s account by anyone who attended the high school party where she says she was assaulted.”

Republican Maryland Governor Larry Hogan Rebuffs Call for Criminal Investigation Into Christine Blasey Ford’s Allegations that Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Sexually Assaulted Her, The Intercept, Rachel M. Cohen and Ryan Grim, Saturday, 22 September 2018: “On Friday morning, Maryland state Sen. Cheryl Kagan, a Democrat, sent a letter to her state’s Republican Gov. Larry Hogan calling on him to direct the Maryland State Police to launch an investigation into Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegations. Ford ‘deserves the basic fairness she has been denied, and you have the power to give it to her because the assault allegedly occurred in Montgomery County, Maryland.’ Kagan wrote. ‘I know you understand the importance of an independent investigation because you signed HB1342, which requires an independent investigator to examine sexual harassment by members of the Maryland General Assembly.’ HB1342, which Hogan signed in May, is legislation designed to strengthen anti-harassment policies and prevent sexual harassment. It was pushed by the Women’s Caucus in the Maryland General Assembly. Hogan rejected Kagan’s request at a news conference several hours later, according to the Baltimore Sun. ‘The Maryland State Police will not be getting involved in this,’ he said, without further explanation. Kagan tweeted that she was ‘disappointed’ in Hogan and ‘hopes he’ll reconsider!’ Two hours later, she tweeted again that she hopes the governor ‘changes his tune and decides to stand up for Maryland women who have been assaulted. #InvestigateKavanaugh'”

Trump holds his fire as advisers urge him not to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Robert Costa, and Josh Dawsey, Saturday, 22 September 2018: “Advisers to President Trump are counseling him against firing Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein over memos written by the former acting director of the FBI that say Rosenstein proposed secretly recording the president and pushed for his removal from office. The details of the memos written by former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe were revealed Friday, prompting immediate speculation that the information would give Trump the justification to do what he has long desired: dismiss Rosenstein, the Justice Department official overseeing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. But those close to Trump and some of his allies on Capitol Hill believe that a politically charged firing in advance of the midterm elections will feed a Democratic narrative of chaos in the administration, and that the president should wait until November to make any changes at the Justice Department.”

Talk of the 25th Amendment Underscores Just How Volatile Trump’s Presidency Is and How Fractured the Team Around Trump Is, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Saturday, 22 September 2018: “President Trump had not even taken office before critics who considered him dangerous began imagining how to get him out. One idea floated from the very start was the clause in the Constitution permitting the removal of a president deemed unable to discharge his duties. ‘Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. Article 4,’ David Frum, a conservative author and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, wrote presciently just eight days after Mr. Trump’s election in November 2016. ‘We’re all going to be talking a lot more about it in the months ahead.’ On that, at least, he was right. There has been a lot of talk about it. But what has become increasingly clear in recent days is that the talk has extended not just to those who never supported Mr. Trump, but even to some of those who worked for him. As it turns out, according to memos written by an F.B.I. official, the deputy attorney general at one point last year suggested that the president was so unstable that Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet should consider invoking the amendment. There is no evidence that Mr. Pence or any cabinet members ever seriously contemplated the idea, and the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, now says he does not currently believe there is a basis for such a removal. Moreover, there are serious obstacles to invoking the amendment in the way Mr. Rosenstein is said to have suggested. But the very discussion of it within the administration underscores just how volatile this presidency is and how fractured the team around Mr. Trump is.”

A Federal Court Ruling on Health Care Subsidies Could Prove Costly for the Government, The New York Times, Robert Pear, Saturday, 22 September 2018: “A federal court ruled this month that a Montana insurer is entitled to federal compensation for subsidy payments under the Affordable Care Act that President Trump abruptly ended last October, a ruling that could reverberate through insurance markets and cost the government hundreds of millions of dollars. At issue are payments for so-called cost-sharing reductions, discounts that enhance the value of health insurance policies purchased from the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces by reducing deductibles, co-payments and other out-of-pocket costs for low-income consumers. President Trump ended the payments in October, one of a series of executive actions intended to undo President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. But Judge Elaine D. Kaplan of the United States Court of Federal Claims said this month that Mr. Trump’s actions violated a government promise to insurance companies participating in the health law. Although Congress never explicitly provided money for the subsidies, the court said, the government had a legal obligation to pay them.”

The Trump administration seeks to make it more difficult for immigrants to come to the U.S. or to remain in the country if they use or are likely to use public assistance, The Washington Post, Nick Miroff, Saturday, 22 September 2018: “The Trump administration will make it much more difficult for immigrants to come to the United States or remain in the country if they use or are likely to use housing vouchers, food subsidies and other ‘non-cash’ forms of public assistance, under a new proposal announced Saturday by the Department of Homeland Security. U.S. immigration laws have long contained provisions limiting foreigners who are likely to be dependent on financial aid and therefore a ‘public charge.’ But the proposed changes amount to a broad expansion of the government’s ability to deny visas or residency to immigrants if they or members of their household benefit from programs like Medicaid Part D, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Section 8 housing vouchers…. While the proposal does not include tax credits and other health benefits that were under consideration in previous drafts, immigrant advocates have raised concerns that the rule change will force families to forgo help to avoid jeopardizing their immigration status. Advocacy groups see the measure as one more attempt by the Trump administration to limit legal immigration and reduce the number of foreigners living in the United States. Census data show the foreign-born percentage of the U.S. population is at its highest level in more than a century, according to leading demographers.” See also, Trump Administration Aims to Sharply Restrict New Green Cards for Those on Public Aid, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Emily Baumgaertner, Saturday, 22 September 2018: “Trump administration officials announced Saturday that immigrants who legally use public benefits like food assistance and Section 8 housing vouchers could be denied green cards under new rules aimed at keeping out people the administration deems a drain on the country. The move could force millions of poor immigrants who rely on public assistance for food and shelter to make a difficult choice between accepting financial help and seeking a green card to live and work legally in the United States. Older immigrants, many of whom get low-cost prescription drugs through the Medicare Part D program, could also be forced to stop participating in the popular benefits program or risk being deemed a ‘public charge’ who is ineligible for legal resident status. The move is not intended to affect most immigrants who have already been granted green cards, but advocates have said they fear that those with legal resident status will stop using public benefits to protect their status. The regulation, which the administration said would affect about 382,000 people a year, is the latest in a series of aggressive crackdowns by President Trump and his hard-line aides on legal and illegal immigration. Federal law has always required those seeking green cards to prove they will not be a burden and has taken into consideration the acceptance of cash benefits. But the government has never before considered the use of other public benefits, like assistance for food.”

Former top White House official K.T. McFarland revises her statement to special counsel Robert Mueller about Michael Flynn’s calls with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, The Washington Post, Shane Harris and Devlin Barrett, Saturday, 22 September 2018: “A former top White House official has revised her statement to investigators about a key event in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, after her initial claim was contradicted by the guilty plea of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to people familiar with the matter. K.T. McFarland, who briefly served as Flynn’s deputy, has now said that he may have been referring to sanctions when they spoke in late December 2016 after Flynn’s calls with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, these people said. When FBI agents first visited her at her Long Island home in the summer of 2017, McFarland denied ever talking to Flynn about any discussion of sanctions between him and the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in December 2016 during the presidential transition. For a time, investigators saw her answers as ‘inconsistent,’ putting her in legal peril as the FBI tried to determine if she had lied to them.”


Sunday, 23 September 2018, Day 612:


Senate Democrats Investigate a New Allegation of Sexual Misconduct, From Brett Kavanaugh’s College Years at Yale: Deborah Ramirez, a Yale classmate of Brett Kavanaugh’s, has described a dormitory party gone awry and a drunken incident that she wants the F.B.I. to investigate, The New Yorker, Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer, Sunday, 23 September 2018: “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.”

Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh to Give the Senate His Calendars From 1982 to Back Up His Denial of Sexual Assault Allegations, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Sunday, 23 September 2018: “Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh has calendars from the summer of 1982 that he plans to hand over to the Senate Judiciary Committee that do not show a party consistent with the description of his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, according to someone working for his confirmation. The calendars do not disprove Dr. Blasey’s allegations, Judge Kavanaugh’s team acknowledged. He could have attended a party that he did not list. But his team will argue to the senators that the calendars provide no corroboration for her account of a small gathering at a house where he allegedly pinned her to a bed and tried to remove her clothing.” See also, If Brett Kavanaugh’s Calendar Doesn’t Show the Binge Drinking He Boasted of in His Yearbook, What Does It Prove? The Intercept, Robert Mackey, published on Monday, 24 September 2018: “The New York Times reports that Brett Kavanaugh plans to offer the Senate Judiciary Committee pages from his high school social calendar which include no mention of a scheduled engagement with a teenage Christine Blasey in the summer of 1982, as if that somehow proves that he did not attempt to rape her at a drunken house party. It is, of course, blindingly obvious that teenage boys do not typically use calendars to schedule criminal acts of sexual assault, or, for that matter, to make a written record of their illegal activities after the fact. But in Kavanaugh’s case, there is an obvious way to establish how incomplete of a record his calendar is: comparing pages for that summer, and the ensuing school year, to the regular binge-drinking sessions he referred to in his high school yearbook. In his yearbook entry for the 1982-83 school year, Kavanaugh boasted about his leading role in a club devoted to drinking 100 kegs of beer, and referred to episodes of drunken vomiting, a wild ‘FFFFFFFourth of July’ party, and run-ins with the police during outings at the beach.”


Monday, 24 September 2018, Day 613:


Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Senate Judiciary panel’s top Democrat, calls for delay in Kavanaugh hearing after new sexual assault allegationThe Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Amy Gardner, and Seung Min Kim, Monday, 24 September 2018: “Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called late Sunday for a delay in further consideration of Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh after a second woman accused him of sexual misconduct. ‘I am writing to request an immediate postponement of any further proceedings related to the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh,’ Feinstein (Calif.) wrote in a letter to Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee’s chairman.  Her letter came after the New Yorker magazine reported that Deborah Ramirez, a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale University, said he exposed himself at a party when they were both first-year students. Ramirez, who told the magazine that they both had been drinking at the time of the incident, acknowledged some gaps in her memory but said she remembered another student shouting Kavanaugh’s name.”

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh vows to fight sexual assault allegations as Trump and Republicans voice their support for himThe Washington Post, Sean Sullivan, Seung Min Kim, and John Wagner, Monday, 24 September 2018: “Republicans launched a full-scale campaign Monday to install Brett M. Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, dismissing new allegations of sexual misconduct as Democratic smears while the embattled nominee asserted he has no intention of bowing out. President Trump vowed to support his choice ‘all the way,’ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) guaranteed that Kavanaugh will receive a vote ‘in the near future,’ and the nominee coupled a letter to the Senate railing against ‘grotesque and obvious character assassination’ with an emotional television interview, an unusual step for a judicial pick. ‘I’m not going anywhere,’ Kavanaugh said in an interview with Fox News Channel, his wife, Ashley, by his side. He said he has ‘never sexually assaulted anyone, in high school or otherwise.’ In a tweet late Monday evening, the president wrote: ‘The Democrats are working hard to destroy a wonderful man, and a man who has the potential to be one of our greatest Supreme Court Justices ever, with an array of False Accusations the likes of which have never been seen before!'” See also, Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Vows Not to Withdraw After Facing New Sexual Assault AllegationsThe New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Catie Edmondson, Monday, 24 September 2018. See also, Kavanaugh’s Yearbook Page Is ‘Horrible, Hurtful’ to a Woman It Named, The New York Times, Kate Kelly and David Enrich, Monday, 24 September 2018. See also, Who’s Renate? How the Trump era’s gravity field pulls little-known people into the national narrative. The Washington Post, Kyle Swenson, published on Tuesday, 25 September 2018. See also, Brett Kavanaugh offers a deeply personal defense in Fox News interviewThe Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Monday, 24 September 2018: “In one deeply personal exchange with MacCallum, Kavanaugh said that he was sexually inexperienced as a teenager. ‘So you’re saying through all these years that are in question that you were a virgin?’ she asked. ‘That’s correct,’ he answered. ‘And through what years in college, since we’re probing into your personal life here?’ MacCallum asked. ‘Many years after, I’ll leave it at that,’ Kavanaugh said. ‘Many years after.'” See also, Partial Transcript of Brett Kavanaugh’s Interview With Fox NewsThe New York Times, Monday, 24 September 2018. See also, Brett Kavanaugh’s Fox News interview transcript, annotatedThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Monday, 24 September 2018. See also, Protesters Rally Against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Back His Accusers: ‘the Wave of Women Is Here,’ The New York Times, Maya Salam and Niraj Chokshi, Monday, 24 September 2018: “Survivors of sexual assault and their supporters stood shoulder to shoulder on the steps of New York’s City Hall on Monday, holding signs that read ‘I believe Christine,’ ‘Misogyny bores me’ and ‘Block InJustice Kavanaugh.’ In Washington, over 100 protesters were arrested after gathering in front of the Supreme Court and inside Senate office buildings.” See also, Yale Law students sit out class, travel to Supreme Court to protest the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme CourtThe Washington Post, Susan Svrluga, Monday, 24 September 2018: “Yale Law School students protested Monday in Washington and Connecticut, opposing the nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. More than 100 students traveled Monday to Washington to protest at the Supreme Court and to meet with senators, while others staged a sit-in at the law school. In Washington, students held umbrellas and signs aloft outside the Supreme Court in the rain, while on campus in New Haven, they filled the hallway of the law school. More than 30 professors canceled classes Monday. On Friday, most faculty members signed a letter urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to treat seriously allegations of a sexual assault.”

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s Job Is Safe, for Now: Inside His Dramatic DayThe New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Katie Benner, Maggie Haberman, and Michael S. Schmidt, Monday, 24 September 2018: “When Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, headed to the White House on Monday morning, he was ready to resign and convinced — wrongly, it turned out — that President Trump was about to fire him. Top Justice Department aides scrambled to draft a statement about who would succeed him. By the afternoon, Mr. Rosenstein was back at his Pennsylvania Avenue office seven blocks away, still employed as the second-in-command at the Justice Department and, for the time being at least, still in charge of the Russia investigation. What happened in between was a confusing drama in which buzzy news reports of Mr. Rosenstein’s imminent departure set in motion a dash to the White House, an offer to resign, Capitol Hill speculation about Mr. Rosenstein’s successor and, finally, a reprieve from an out-of-town president. ‘We’ll be determining what’s going on,’ Mr. Trump said Monday afternoon from New York, where he was meeting with foreign leaders at the United Nations General Assembly. Asked about Mr. Rosenstein, Mr. Trump said, ‘We’re going to have a meeting on Thursday when I get back.'”

How Russia Helped Swing the Election for Trump: A meticulous analysis of online activity during the 2016 campaign makes a powerful case that targeted cyberattacks by hackers and trolls were decisive. The New Yorker, Jane Mayer, published online on Monday, 24 September 2018 and in the print edition on Monday, 1 October 2018: “’Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President—What We Don’t, Can’t, and Do Know,’ by Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor of communications at the University of Pennsylvania, dares to ask—and even attempts to answer—whether Russian meddling had a decisive impact in 2016. Jamieson offers a forensic analysis of the available evidence and concludes that Russia very likely delivered Trump’s victory.”

Scientists voice opposition to weakening of the U.S. Endangered Species ActReuters, Laura Zuckerman, Monday, 24 September 2018: “Thousands of scientists joined on Monday to accuse the Trump administration of trying to erode the Endangered Species Act in favor of commercial interests with a plan to revamp regulations that have formed a bedrock of U.S. wildlife protection for over 40 years. The extraordinary critique of the administration’s proposal, which was unveiled in July, came in an open letter addressed to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross from three associations representing 9,000 professional biologists.”

U.S. District Court judge Dana Christensen restores federal protections for Yellowstone-area grizzly bearsThe Washington Post, Karin Brulliard, Monday, 24 September 2018: “A U.S. District Court judge restored federal protections Monday to about 700 grizzly bears living in and around Yellowstone National Park, canceling planned hunts in Wyoming and Idaho and overturning a Trump administration finding that the iconic population had recovered. In a 48-page order, Judge Dana L. Christensen wrote that the case was ‘not about the ethics of hunting, and it is not about solving human- or livestock-grizzly conflicts.’ Instead, he said, the ruling was based on his determination that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had illegally failed to consider how removing the Yellowstone bears from the endangered species list would affect other protected grizzly populations, and that its analysis of future threats to the bears was ‘arbitrary and capricious.’ The decision sided with multiple conservation and tribal organizations that sued Fish and Wildlife after it delisted Yellowstone grizzlies in 2017, and it supported one of their primary contentions: that the isolation of the bear population, which is expanding outward but remains unconnected to the other major U.S. grizzly population near the Canada border, makes it genetically vulnerable.” See also, Hunt of Yellowstone Grizzly Bears Is Canceled as a Result of Federal Judge’s RulingThe New York Times, Jim Robbins, published on Tuesday, 25 September 2018.

Vice president Mike Pence addressed the annual Values Voter Summit, a conference hosted by the Christian activist group Family Research Council, which is designated an ‘anti-LGBT hate group’ by the Southern Poverty Law CenterNBC News, Tim Fitzsimons, Monday, 24 September 2018: “Pence is the first vice president to address the group’s yearly event, and last year President Donald Trump became the first sitting president to do so.”


Tuesday, 25 September 2018, Day 614:


Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s ‘choir boy’ image on Fox interview rankles former Yale classmatesThe Washington Post, Aaron C. Davis, Emma Brown, and Joe Heim, Tuesday, 25 September 2018: “On Monday night, Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh said in a nationally televised interview that in his younger years, he was focused on sports, academics and ‘service projects.’ But it was his comments about drinking that rankled some Yale University classmates, prompting them to speak out for the first time. Liz Swisher, who described herself as a friend of Kavanaugh in college, said she was shocked that — in an interview focused largely on his high school years and allegations of sexual misconduct — he strongly denied drinking to the point of blacking out. ‘Brett was a sloppy drunk, and I know because I drank with him. I watched him drink more than a lot of people. He’d end up slurring his words, stumbling,’ said Swisher, a Democrat and chief of the gynecologic oncology division at the University of Washington School of Medicine. ‘There’s no medical way I can say that he was blacked out. . . . But it’s not credible for him to say that he has had no memory lapses in the nights that he drank to excess.’ Lynne Brookes, who like Swisher was a college roommate of one of the two women now accusing Kavanaugh of misconduct, said the nominee’s comments on Fox did not match the classmate she remembered. ‘He’s trying to paint himself as some kind of choir boy,’ said Brookes, a Republican and former pharmaceutical executive who recalled an encounter with a drunken Kavanaugh at a fraternity event. ‘You can’t lie your way onto the Supreme Court, and with that statement out, he’s gone too far. It’s about the integrity of that institution.'” See also, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s memory of himself in high school is very different from his portrayal in his yearbookThe Washington Post, James Hohmann, Tuesday, 25 September 2018. See also, The Closer You Look, the Worse Brett Kavanaugh’s Relationship With Mark Judge AppearsThe Intercept, Peter Maass, Tuesday, 25 September 2018: “A question that sounds innocuous — did Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge drink and party together at Georgetown Preparatory School? — has become key to figuring out whether an inebriated Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl as Judge watched and laughed in 1982. The short answer is that a number of data points connect Judge and Kavanaugh (now a Supreme Court nominee), as not just friends but as partners in binge drinking at raucous house parties attended by girls from other private schools. The connections include a reference to Kavanaugh in a memoir Judge wrote, mutual shout-outs on their yearbook pages, a football team they played on together, and mentions by both of blackout levels of drinking at Georgetown Prep, their all-boys Catholic school in Bethesda, Maryland.” See also, Fox News’s kid-gloves interview with Kavanaugh leaves all the tough questions to partisan DemocratsThe Washington Post, Philip Bump, Tuesday, 25 September 2018. See also, Three Yale Law School classmates who endorsed Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh call for an investigation into the sexual assault claims against himThe Washington Post, Elise Viebeck, Tuesday, 25 September 2018: “Three former Yale Law School classmates who endorsed Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh called Tuesday for an investigation into allegations by two women that he engaged in sexual misconduct in the 1980s. Kent Sinclair, Douglas Rutzen and Mark Osler were among roughly two dozen of Kavanaugh’s law school classmates who lauded Kavanaugh’s qualifications in an Aug. 27 letter to leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Their support for an investigation came as Yale Law professor Akhil Amar — who taught Kavanaugh and testified on his behalf before the committee this month — also called for a probe into what he described as ‘serious accusations’ from the women.” See also, In a Culture of Privilege and Alcohol at Yale, Deborah Ramirez’s World Converged with Kavanaugh’sThe New York Times, Stephanie Saul, Robin Pogrebin, Mike McIntire, and Ben Protess, Tuesday, 25 September 2018. See also, The virginity defense is a reminder of our ignorance about sexual violenceThe Washington Post, Eugene Scott, Tuesday, 25 September 2018. See also, ‘I Believe Her’: Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono Takes an Aggressive Stance in the Kavanaugh HearingsThe New York Times, Sydney Ember, Tuesday, 25 September 2018.

How Senator Chris Coons of Delaware Cornered Brett Kavanaugh About the Sexually Explicit Emails of His Mentor, Judge Alex KozinskiThe Intercept, Akela Lacy and Ryan Grim, Tuesday, 25 September 2018: “Two days from now, Brett Kavanaugh will resume testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. As a confirmation vote looms as early as Friday or Saturday, the question of his credibility has never been more critical. Throughout his confirmation process, Kavanaugh has consistently denied knowledge of his mentor Judge Alex Kozinski’s years of sexual harassment, for which he was finally brought down in December 2017. The news, Kavanaugh told the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath, was a ‘gut punch.’ Under follow-up questioning from Sens. Mazie Hirono and Chris Coons, Democrats from Hawaii and Delaware respectively, he expanded his denials to include any knowledge of the email list Kozinski used to distribute pornography and off-color jokes to court employees. That denial is crucial, because if it’s false, it demonstrates that Kavanaugh lied about what he knew of Kozinski’s behavior. And that he’s still lying. And the answer is knowable.”

Trump Unleashes on Second Kavanaugh Accuser Deborah Ramirez as Key Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska WaversThe New York Times, Peter Baker and Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 25 September 2018: “President Trump assailed the latest woman to accuse Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, saying on Tuesday that she ‘has nothing’ because she was ‘messed up’ at the time, even as a key Republican senator urged colleagues to take the accusations seriously. With pressure rising in advance of a make-or-break hearing on Thursday, Mr. Trump lashed out in a more vociferous way than he has since his nominee came under fire for allegations of sexual assault, blaming Democrats for orchestrating a ‘con game’ and targeting one of Judge Kavanaugh’s accusers in scathing, personal terms…. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s Republican leadership said on Tuesday that it had retained an outside counsel — Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, called her a ‘female assistant’ — to aid in Thursday’s hearing to question Judge Kavanaugh’s first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. Rachel Mitchell, the chief of the Special Victims Division of the Maricopa County attorney’s office in Arizona, has been hired to question Dr. Blasey rather than having the 11 male Republicans grill her about the sexual assault in high school that she has described. Dr. Blasey had sought to have the senators question her rather than a lawyer. As Mr. Trump and Republican leaders insisted that they will install Judge Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court despite the accusations, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a crucial Republican swing vote, offered a blunt warning of her own: Do not prejudge sexual assault allegations against the nominee. ‘We are now in a place where it’s not about whether or not Judge Kavanaugh is qualified,’ Ms. Murkowski said in an extended interview on Monday night in the Capitol. ‘It is about whether or not a woman who has been a victim at some point in her life is to be believed.'” See also, Trump Accuses Democrats of Running ‘Con Game’ Against Supreme Court Nominee Brett KavanaughThe New York Times, Mark Landler and Peter Baker, Tuesday, 25 September 2018. See also, Trump’s angry, meandering broadside against Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers, annotatedThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Tuesday, 25 September 2018: “President Trump on Tuesday offered his most full-throated comments to date about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers. Trump, who last week said Christine Blasey Ford deserved to be heard, now says even before she testifies that Kavanaugh should be confirmed. He also cast doubt upon Kavanaugh’s other accuser, Deborah Ramirez, for having been drunk during the alleged incident, and he said repeatedly that Democrats are running a ‘con’ on the American people.”

During his speech at the U.N., Trump suffers the fate he always feared: world leaders laughed at himThe Washington Post, David Nakamura, Tuesday, 25 September 2018: “President Trump has long argued that the United States has been taken advantage of by other nations — a ‘laughing stock to the entire World,’ he said on Twitter in 2014 — and his political rise was based on the premise that he had the strength and resolve to change that. But at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Trump got a comeuppance on the world’s biggest stage. Delivering a speech that aimed to establish U.S. ‘sovereignty’ over the whims and needs of other nations, the president’s triumphant moment was marred in the first minute when he was met by laughter — at his expense. The embarrassing exchange came when Trump boasted that his administration had accomplished more over two years than ‘almost any administration’ in American history, eliciting audible guffaws in the cavernous chamber hall. The president appeared startled. ‘Didn’t expect that reaction,’ he said, ‘but that’s okay.'” See also, Fact-Checking Trump’s Speech to the United NationsThe New York Times, Linda Qiu, Tuesday, 25 September 2018: “Addressing the world body’s annual General Assembly meeting on Tuesday, President Trump made inaccurate claims about his own record, the Islamic State, the war in Yemen, reactions to the Iran nuclear deal and the trade deficit.” See also, Trump’s Speech at the U.N. Triggers Laughter From World Leaders, and DisbeliefThe New Yorker, Robin Wright, Tuesday, 25 September 2018: “The audible ripple of gasps and giggles began about a minute into President Trump’s U.N. speech on Tuesday, as he bragged that his Administration had already accomplished more than any in U.S. history. The reaction in the cavernous General Assembly hall, where more than a hundred and thirty heads of state and dozens of other delegations were gathered, forced Trump off-script. ‘I didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s O.K.,’ he said, with an awkward laugh. He then went back to his teleprompter and a checklist of achievements, not all of which would pass muster with a fact checker—or, apparently, the audience. Trump later dismissed the reaction by claiming he intended to draw laughter, an unlikely claim in the context of his speech. It was an ironic moment. In his stump speeches at home, Trump often laments that the United States is ‘the laughingstock of the world.’ But, on Tuesday, he was.”

Prosecuting Parents and Separating Families Was Meant to Deter Migration, Memo Signed by Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen ConfirmsThe Intercept, Cora Currier, Tuesday, 25 September 2018: “On April 23, the heads of the three major immigration agencies wrote to their boss, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, to present her with three options for how to step up immigration enforcement at the border. They recommended “Option 3” — prosecuting every adult who crossed the border illegally, including those who came with their children — because it would ‘have the greatest impact on current flows.’ In other words, top immigration officials believed that prosecuting parents, even if it meant separating families, would deter migration. Following their recommendation, Nielsen signed off on ‘Option 3,’ authorizing one of the darkest dramas in the Trump administration’s attempt to remake the U.S. immigration system, resulting in thousands of families ripped aparthundreds of parents deported alone, and children scattered in shelters across the country. Despite the fact that the memo makes clear that ‘Option 3’ would involve family separation, Nielsen for months maintained publicly that ‘this administration did not create a policy of separating families at the border’ and avoided saying that the goal of the newly aggressive prosecutions was deterrence.”

Trump administration launches review of government-funded fetal tissue researchThe Washington Post, Amy Goldstein, Ariana Eunjung Cha, and Laurie McGinley, Tuesday, 25 September 2018: “The Trump administration has launched a review of all federally funded research that uses fetal tissue and has canceled one contract for such material, stepping into a decades-old controversy that has been a sidelight to the ideological war over abortion. Federal health officials dispatched a letter Monday ending a contract with a California-based nonprofit group targeted by social conservatives in Congress and a coalition of antiabortion and faith-based groups. In July, the Food and Drug Administration had agreed to pay the organization, Advanced Bioscience Resources, nearly $16,000 for fetal tissue that was to be implanted into mice for research into immune responses to drugs.The cancellation of the relatively small contract was followed hours later by an announcement from the Department of Health and Human Services with far broader implications. The department said it has begun auditing ‘all acquisitions involving human fetal tissue’ to make sure they comply with laws and regulations. The Monday night statement also said HHS has begun ‘a comprehensive review’ of all fetal tissue research ‘in light of the serious regulatory, moral, and ethical considerations involved.’ The prospect that the administration could restrict — or eliminate — government support for fetal tissue research immediately alarmed biomedical scientists, who say that such tissue has been vital in testing new vaccines, exploring Parkinson’s disease treatments and understanding the transmission of HIV. Both supporters of such research and its opponents said they were uncertain whether HHS’s unprecedented review was intended largely as a bold symbolic step to appease the administration’s conservative allies or is a precursor to abolishing federal funding of fetal tissue, which has been employed in studies since the 1930s.”


Wednesday, 26 September 2018, Day 615:


Julie Swetnick Is the Third Woman to Accuse Brett Kavanaugh of Sexual MisconductThe New York Times, Steve Eder, Jim Rutenberg, and Rebecca R. Ruiz, Wednesday, 26 September 2018: “Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh was accused on Wednesday by another woman of engaging in sexual misconduct at parties while he was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in the 1980s. The allegation came from Julie Swetnick, 55, who like Judge Kavanaugh, 53, grew up in the Washington suburbs. In a statement posted on Twitter by her lawyer, Ms. Swetnick said she observed the future Supreme Court nominee at parties where women were verbally abused, inappropriately touched, made ‘disoriented’ with alcohol or drugs and ‘gang raped.’ She said she witnessed Judge Kavanaugh participating in some of the misconduct, including lining up outside a bedroom where ‘numerous boys’ were ‘waiting for their “turn” with a girl inside the room.’ Ms. Swetnick said she was raped at one of the parties and believed she had been drugged, but did not directly accuse Judge Kavanaugh of raping her. None of Ms. Swetnick’s claims could be independently corroborated by The New York Times, and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, declined to make her available for an interview.” See also, Julie Swetnick is the third woman to come forward with sexual misconduct allegation against Kavanaugh, further roiling the confirmation processThe Washington Post, John Wagner, Wednesday, 26 September 2018. See also, New Evidence, New Accuser, and New Doubts Threaten Supreme Court Nominee on Eve of HearingThe New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 26 September 2018. See also, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says he is the victim of ‘character assassination’ as Julie Swetnick, a third accuser, comes forwardThe Washington Post, Amy Gardner and John Wagner, Wednesday, 26 September 2018. See also, Read Brett Kavanaugh’s Complete Opening Statement to the Senate Judiciary CommitteeThe New York Times, Wednesday, 26 September 2018. See also, Brett Kavanaugh’s opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, annotatedThe Washington Post, Amber Phillips, Wednesday, 26 September 2018. See also, ‘Seared into my memory’: Christine Blasey Ford’s opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, annotatedThe Washington Post, Natalie Jennings and Reis Thebault, Wednesday, 26 September 2018. See also, Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford releases sworn declarations from her husband and three friendsThe Washington Post, John Wagner and Seung Min Kim, Wednesday, 26 September 2018: “Attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who says Brett M. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when both were teenagers, have sent four sworn declarations to the Senate from people who say Ford told them of her allegations before Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court. The declarations — from Ford’s husband and three friends — do not provide direct corroboration of the alleged attack but suggest Ford shared details about her recollection in the years before Kavanaugh’s nomination by President Trump on July 9. Only one account, from Russell Ford, the husband of the California professor, has been previously reported.” See also, The Women Who Have Accused Brett Kavanaugh of Sexual MisconductThe New York Times, Christine Hauser, Wednesday, 26 September 2018. See also, Brett Kavanaugh and allegations of sexual misconduct: The complete listThe Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, published on Thursday, 27 September 2018. See also, Debunking 5 (More) Viral Rumors About Brett Kavanaugh’s AccusersThe New York Times, Kevin Roose, Wednesday, 26 September 2018.

Senator Jeff Merkley seeks an injunction to stop vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett KavanaughPolitico, Elana Schor, Wednesday, 26 September 2018: “Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) on Wednesday announced that he’s seeking an injunction in federal court designed to stop a final vote on Brett Kavanaugh, asserting an obstruction of his constitutional duty to advise and consent on nominees. Merkley’s filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia comes as Senate Republicans vow to push ahead with a vote on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee in the coming days — and hours before a landmark hearing slated with Christine Blasey Ford, who has alleged a decades-old sexual assault by Kavanaugh. Merkley’s bid for an injunction hinges on the Senate’s constitutional duty to provide advice and consent on nominees and charges that he’s been prevented from fulfilling that due to the withholding of records on Kavanaugh’s past service in the George W. Bush administration.”

At a News Conference, Trump Calls Kavanaugh Accusations ‘All False,’ but a Few Minutes Later He Says He Can Be Convinced by TestimonyThe New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Wednesday, 26 September 2018: “President Trump said on Wednesday that the accusations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, his Supreme Court nominee, ‘are all false,’ but also said that he ‘can always be convinced’ after watching the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused the judge of attempted rape. In a rambling and combative news conference during which he lashed out against Democratic senators, Mr. Trump said that his own opinion about Judge Kavanaugh’s case is affected by the many allegations of sexual misconduct that have been leveled against him by women in the past.” See also, Fact-checking Trump’s statements about sexual misconduct allegationsThe Washington Post, Glenn Kessler and Meg Kelly, Wednesday, 26 September 2018. See also, Trump’s U.N. press conference, annotatedThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake and Transcript courtesy of Bloomberg Government, Wednesday, 26 September. See also, 5 Takeaways From Trump’s News Conference at the United NationsThe New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Wednesday, 26 September 2018. See also, Checking 6 Claims From Trump’s News Conference at the United NationsThe New York Times, Linda Qiu, published on Thursday, 27 September 2018.

Trump’s Plan to Deny Green Cards to People on Medicaid or Food Stamps Is a Full-Blown Attack on the Immigrant PoorThe Intercept, Natasha Lennard, Wednesday, 26 September 2018: “Over the weekend, the Trump administration announced new and cruel immigration rules. The rules will not produce the visceral horrors of caged children, but threaten to imperil the well-being — indeed, the lives — of thousands of immigrants in this country. The proposal, which does not need congressional approval, will make it harder for legal immigrants to obtain new visas or green cards if they use, or have used, public benefits, including food aid and Medicaid. As with the draconian ‘zero-tolerance’ policies President Donald Trump imposed on the border, the administration is presenting this latest assault as merely an extension and thorough application of existing legislation. But the proposal is one of the most radical overhauls in immigration standards in decades. It makes clear that, for this administration, immigration policy is a matter of white supremacist social engineering aimed at excluding and decimating poor, predominantly nonwhite immigrants. Even those who have followed every U.S. law — people here with full legal authorization, abiding by all criminal statutes — are now at risk for having used social services to which they are entitled.” See also, The Trump Administration Has Proposed to Dramatically Expand the List of Public Benefits That the Government Would Treat as ‘Negative Factors’ in Visa and Green-Card ApplicationsThe New Yorker, Jonathan Blitzer, published on Friday, 28 September 2018.

House Resolution Directs Trump to End U.S. Support for Yemen WarThe Intercept, Alex Emmons, Wednesday, 26 September 2018: “In Congress, frustration with the U.S. role in Yemen is nearing a breaking point. Sen. Bob Menendez — the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — is holding up a $2 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates over concerns that the two countries routinely bomb civilian targets. Meanwhile, in the House, U.S. assistance to the Saudi- and UAE-led coalition is about to face another major hurdle. On Wednesday, California Democrat Ro Khanna introduced a resolution invoking the 1973 War Powers Act, declaring that Congress never authorized U.S. support for the coalition in Yemen and directing President Donald Trump to withdraw U.S. troops from ‘hostilities’ against the Houthis, the Iranian-backed rebel group at war with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The resolution would not affect U.S. forces who are on the ground in Yemen fighting Al Qaeda. The legislation closely resembles a similar measure Khanna introduced last year, but now has 23 other co-sponsors, including Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., the minority whip, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the top Democrat on the House Armed Services committee, and Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the leading Democrat on the House Foreign Relations Committee. As a ‘privileged’ resolution under House rules, the bill can bypass a committee vote and is overwhelmingly likely to receive a vote on the floor.”

Did Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross conceal the truth about the 2020 Census citizenship question? A judge is determined to find out. The Washington Post, Fred Barbash, Wednesday, 26 September 2018: “Thanks to two court decisions in New York, the Trump administration may be about to confront a moment of reckoning over one of its most controversial decisions: to include on the 2020 Census a question demanding to know the citizenship of those surveyed. Specifically, Judge Jesse Furman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has ordered depositions from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who is accused in at least five lawsuits of misrepresenting his reasons for the census decision, and from Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore, head of the department’s Civil Rights Division, who the lawsuits and documents say helped Ross. On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, based in New York, upheld Furman’s decision to depose Gore, a move the government had resisted.”

Eric Blankenstein, an anti-discrimination official at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, once called most hate crimes hoaxesThe Washington Post, Robert O’Harrow Jr., Shawn Boburg, and Renae Merle, Wednesday, 26 September 2018: “A senior Trump appointee responsible for enforcing laws against financial discrimination once questioned in blog posts written under a pen name if using the n-word was inherently racist and claimed that the great majority of hate crimes were hoaxes. Eric Blankenstein, a policy director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, expressed those and other controversial views more than a decade ago on a political blog he co-authored with two other anonymous contributors.” See also, Eric Blankenstein, an anti-discrimination official at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, faces rebellion at the agency over his racially tinged blog postsThe Washington Post, Robert O’Harrow Jr., Renae Merle, and Shawn Boburg, published on Friday, 28 September 2018: “A senior Trump appointee at an agency responsible for enforcing laws against financial discrimination faced open rebellion from subordinates Friday over blog posts he wrote years ago expressing controversial views on the n-word and hate crimes, according to internal emails obtained by The Washington Post. The uproar came as two Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee and a national housing rights organization called for the departure of the appointee, Eric Blankenstein, a policy director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The upheaval was triggered by a mass email from a senior civil servant who harshly criticized the writings, which The Post revealed and linked to Blankenstein in a report Wednesday. Writing under a pen name in 2004, Blankenstein questioned whether the n-word was inherently racist and claimed that the great majority of hate crimes were hoaxes. ‘The tone and framing are deeply disturbing to me as a woman, African American, advocate for LGBTQ rights, and human being,’ Patrice A. Ficklin, a career staffer and director of the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity, wrote to hundreds of agency employees.”


Thursday, 27 September 2018, Day 616:


Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford Duel With Tears and FuryThe New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Nicholas Fandos, Thursday, 27 September 2018: “Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh and his accuser faced off Thursday in an extraordinary, emotional day of testimony that ricocheted from a woman’s tremulous account of sexual assault to a man’s angry, outraged denial, all of which played out for hours before a riveted nation and a riven Senate…. Senators must ultimately take sides, and their decisions in the coming days will determine not only the fate of Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump’s second nominee to the Supreme Court, but also the ideological balance of the court for decades. In the end, the judge’s future most likely rests with a handful of undecided Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Jeff Flake of Arizona — and one Democrat, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia.” See also, Charges and denials fuel an emotional hearing as Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court hangs in the balanceThe Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Seung Min Kim, and Elise Viebeck, Thursday, 27 September 2018. See also, Updates From the Riveting Testimonies of Christine Blasey Ford and Brett KavanaughThe New York Times, Thursday, 27 September 2018. See also, Highlights from the testimonies of Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary CommitteeThe Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Ann E. Marimow, Mike DeBonis, and Elise Viebeck, Thursday, 27 September 2018. See also, Brett Kavanaugh’s Opening Statement: Full TranscriptThe New York Times, updated on Thursday, 27 September 2018. See also, Brett Kavanaugh’s modern-day ‘high-tech lynching’ speech, annotatedThe Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Thursday, 27 September 2018. See also, Key Moments in the Senate Testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and Brett KavanaughThe Intercept, Robert Mackey, Thursday, 27 September 2018. See also, Mark Judge’s book validates Christine Blasey Ford’s timeline of the alleged Kavanaugh assaultThe Washington Post, Philip Bump, Thursday, 27 September 2018. See also, Kavanaugh is pressed by Rachel Mitchell on the key July 1 entry in his calendar. But only to a point. The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Thursday, 27 September 2018. See also, Brett Kavanaugh and the Adolescent Aggression of Conservative MasculinityThe New Yorker, Alexandra Schwartz, Thursday, 27 September 2018: “‘I love Kavanaugh’s tone,’ Donald Trump, Jr., tweeted fifteen minutes into Brett Kavanaugh’s opening statement in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He was referring to the judge’s wildly emotional performance, in which he alternated between shouting, as he blamed the Clintons and the Democrats for conspiring to torpedo his nomination to the Supreme Court, and weeping, as he spoke about the pain that he and his family have experienced in the weeks since accusations of sexual assault against him became public. Kavanaugh choked up and sobbed as he described his father’s detailed calendars, which apparently inspired his own calendar-keeping practice; he seemed unable to gain control over himself, gasping and taking frequent sips of water. The initial impression was of naked emotional vulnerability, but Kavanaugh was setting a tone. Embedded in the histrionics were the unmistakable notes of fury and bullying. Kavanaugh shouted over Dianne Feinstein to complain about the ‘outrage’ of not being allowed to testify earlier; when asked about his drinking, by Sheldon Whitehouse, he replied, ‘I like beer. You like beer? What do you like to drink, Senator?’ with a note of aggressive petulance that is hard to square with his preferred self-image of judicious impartiality and pious Sunday churchgoing. Lindsey Graham eagerly took up the angry-man mantle, using his allotted five minutes of questioning to furiously shout at his Democratic colleagues. What we are seeing is a model of American conservative masculinity that has become popular in the past few years, one that is directly tied to the loutish, aggressive frat-boy persona that Kavanaugh is purportedly seeking to dissociate himself from.” See also, Kavanaugh’s testimony depended heavily on exonerations that aren’t exactly exoneratingThe Washington Post, Philip Bump, Thursday, 27 September 2018. See also, Does Christine Blasey Ford’s Testimony Require Corroboration? The New Yorker, Jeannie Suk Gersen, Thursday, 27 September 2018: “Christine Blasey Ford has credibly testified that Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her in high school. But many who believe that she is telling the truth are still wondering whether senators should decide how to vote on Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination based on her testimony, in the absence of any ‘corroborating evidence.’ Let’s put aside for a moment the possibility that additional evidence could emerge that supports or undermines Ford’s testimony. In a court of law, a judge or jury who believes that a witness is telling the truth can convict someone of a crime even without corroborating evidence. This happens all the time.” See also, Why Brett Kavanaugh Wasn’t Believable, and Why Christine Blasey Ford WasThe New York Times, The Editorial Board, Thursday, 27 September 2018: “What a study in contrasts: Where Christine Blasey Ford was calm and dignified, Brett Kavanaugh was volatile and belligerent; where she was eager to respond fully to every questioner, and kept worrying whether she was being ‘helpful’ enough, he was openly contemptuous of several senators; most important, where she was credible and unshakable at every point in her testimony, he was at some points evasive, and some of his answers strained credulity. Indeed, Dr. Blasey’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday was devastating.” See also, The Ford-Kavanaugh Hearings Will Be Remembered as a Grotesque Display of Patriarchal ResentmentThe New Yorker, Doreen St. Félix, Thursday, 27 September 2018: “A veneer of civility made it seem as if the senators were questioning [Christine Blasey] Ford and [Brett] Kavanaugh to get to the truth of whether Kavanaugh, as a drunk teen-ager, attended a party where he pinned Ford to a bed and sexually assaulted her, thirty-six years ago. But that’s not what the hearing was designed to explore. At the time of this writing, composed in the eighth hour of the grotesque historic activity happening in the Capitol Hill chamber, it should be as plain as day that what we witnessed was the patriarchy testing how far its politics of resentment can go. And there is no limit.… Ford … was phenomenal, a ‘witness and expert’ in one, and it seemed, for a moment following her testimony, that the nation might be unable to deny her credibility. Then Kavanaugh came in, like an eclipse. He made a show of being unprepared. Echoing Clarence Thomas, he claimed that he did not watch his accuser’s hearing. (Earlier, it was reported that he did.)… Alternating between weeping and yelling, he exemplified the conservative’s embrace of bluster and petulance as rhetorical tools. Going on about his harmless love of beer, spinning unbelievably chaste interpretations of what was, by all other accounts, his youthful habit of blatant debauchery, he was as Trumpian as Trump himself, louder than the loudest on Fox News. He evaded questions; he said that the allegations brought against him were ‘revenge’ on behalf of the Clintons; he said, menacingly, that ‘what goes around comes around.’ When Senator Amy Klobuchar calmly asked if he had ever gotten blackout drunk, he retorted, ‘Have you?’ (He later apologized to her.) There was, in this performance, not even a hint of the sagacity one expects from a potential Supreme Court Justice. More than presenting a convincing rebuttal to Ford’s extremely credible account, Kavanaugh—and Hatch, and Lindsey Graham—seemed to be exterminating, live, for an American audience, the faint notion that a massively successful white man could have his birthright questioned or his character held to the most basic type of scrutiny…. What took place on Thursday confirms that male indignation will be coddled, and the gospel of male success elevated.”

It is time for the Kavanaugh nomination to be withdrawnAmerica: The Jesuit Review, The Editors, Thursday, 27 September 2018: “Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee today clearly demonstrated both the seriousness of her allegation of assault by Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh and the stakes of this question for the whole country. Judge Kavanaugh denied the accusation and emphasized in his testimony that the opposition of Democratic senators to his nomination and their consequent willingness to attack him was established long before Dr. Blasey’s allegation was known. Evaluating the credibility of these competing accounts is a question about which people of good will can and do disagree. The editors of this review have no special insight into who is telling the truth. If Dr. Blasey’s allegation is true, the assault and Judge Kavanaugh’s denial of it mean that he should not be seated on the U.S. Supreme Court. But even if the credibility of the allegation has not been established beyond a reasonable doubt and even if further investigation is warranted to determine its validity or clear Judge Kavanaugh’s name, we recognize that this nomination is no longer in the best interests of the country. While we previously endorsed the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh on the basis of his legal credentials and his reputation as a committed textualist, it is now clear that the nomination should be withdrawn.” See also, Four Republican governors call for delaying Senate vote on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme CourtPolitico, Jesus Rodriguez, Thursday, 27 September 2018: “Four Republican governors have called for the Senate to take its time with or even forgo a vote on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court ahead of a hearing Thursday on Capitol Hill to examine sexual assault allegations against him. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, John Kasich of Ohio, Larry Hogan of Maryland and Phil Scott of Vermont are part of a small faction of Republicans who urged caution over three public allegations that have come to light since Kavanaugh’s July 9 nomination, even as the majority of their colleagues in the Senate have argued for pushing through the process. ‘The accusations brought against Judge Kavanaugh are sickening and deserve an independent investigation,’ Baker said in a tweet as the hearing began. ‘There should be no vote in the Senate.'”

Environmental Protection Agency to Eliminate Office That Advises Agency Chief on ScienceThe New York Times, Coral Davenport, Thursday, 27 September 2018: “The Environmental Protection Agency plans to dissolve its Office of the Science Advisor, a senior post that was created to counsel the E.P.A. administrator on the scientific research underpinning health and environmental regulations, according to a person familiar with the agency’s plans. The person spoke anonymously because the decision had not yet been made public. The science adviser works across the agency to ensure that the highest quality science is integrated into the agency’s policies and decisions, according to the E.P.A.’s website. The move is the latest among several steps taken by the Trump administration that appear to have diminished the role of scientific research in policymaking while the administration pursues an agenda of rolling back regulations.”

The Trump Administration Rolls Back Safety Rules Put in Place After the Deepwater Horizon Disaster in 2010The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Thursday, 27 September 2018: “The Trump administration has completed its plan to roll back major offshore-drilling safety regulations that were put in place after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in 2010 that killed 11 people and caused the worst oil spill in American history. The Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which was established after the spill in the Gulf of Mexico and regulates offshore oil and gas drilling, has finalized a proposal for loosening the regulations as part of President Trump’s efforts to ease restrictions on fossil fuel companies and encourage domestic energy production.”

Voting Machine Used in Half of U.S. Is Vulnerable to a Cyberattack, Report Finds. The flaw in Election Systems & Software’s Model 650 high-speed ballot-counting machine was detailed in 2007. The Wall Street Journal, Robert McMillan and Dustin Volz, Thursday, 27 September 2018: “Election machines used in more than half of U.S. states carry a flaw disclosed more than a decade ago that makes them vulnerable to a cyberattack, according to a report to be delivered Thursday on Capitol Hill.”

House Judiciary Committee subpoenas memos of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe as well as documents the FBI used in its application to conduct surveillance on former Trump campaign adviser Carter PageThe Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian, Thursday, 27 September 2018: “The House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena Thursday for former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe’s memos as well as the supporting documents the FBI used in its application to conduct surveillance on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Republicans requested McCabe’s memos from the Justice Department over the summer and were told they would not be shared, according to several lawmakers. But the revelation last week that McCabe suggested in his memos that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein considered recording President Trump in an apparent effort to remove him from office put new urgency behind the GOP’s desire to see the documents.”