September 29, 2018

Week 98

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

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

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

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

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

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Christine Blasey Ford swears in at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 27, 2018, in Washington, DC. A professor at Palo Alto University and a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her during a party in 1982 when they were high school students in suburban Maryland.