The Open Thread for September 18, 2018

KAVANAUGH AND FORD WILL TESTIFY. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused him of assaulting her in high school, will both testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday.

New York Times: “The hearings will set up a potentially explosive public showdown, one that carries unmistakable echoes of the 1991 testimony of Anita Hill, who accused the future Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in an episode that riveted the nation and ushered a slew of women into public office. They will play out against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, which has energized Democratic women across the nation.”

COLLINS LAYS HER MARKER DOWN.  Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) “told reporters on Monday that if Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh lied in denying that he sexually assaulted a woman at a high school party in the early 1980s that it would ‘obviously’ disqualify him from a seat on the nation’s highest court,” CNBC reports.

Said Collins: “Obviously if Judge Kavanaugh has lied about what happened that would be disqualifying.”

THE COUNTERATTACKJonathan Swan: “Since the story broke, I’ve spoken to four sources close to the Kavanaugh confirmation process. All were defiant and sought to raise doubts about the accuser’s credibility and the holes in her story — though none were willing to do so on the record.”

A senior White House official told the Daily Beast that, as of Sunday evening, things are still “full steam ahead” for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court despite allegations by Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh tried to rape her while they were in high school.

“The president has told those close to him in recent days that he believes there is a ‘conspiracy’ or organized effort by Democrats to smear Kavanaugh and try to derail the nomination of a ‘good man.’ One Trump confidant said on Sunday that they ‘can’t imagine that’ Ford coming forward will change the president’s position, and that it will far more likely cause Trump to dig in and attack those going after Kavanaugh.”

President Trump called the notion that Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination for the Supreme Court might be withdrawn over sexual misconduct allegations from his high school days “ridiculous,” Roll Call reports.  “But he backed delaying the confirmation process so the nominee and his accuser could speak with senators.”  Said Trump: “If it takes a little delay, it’ll take a little delay. I’m sure it will work out very well.”

The White House hasn’t asked the FBI to investigate the allegation Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman when they were in high school, a request required for the FBI to take further action, Bloomberg reports.

MCCONNELL’S DECISION.   Playbook: “If you’re McConnell,  the squeaky-clean, fairly easy Supreme Court nominee just made life a lot more complicated. McConnell’s political legacy will be his dogged pursuit of getting more conservative justices. But McConnell knows his members as well as any political leader. If he gets the sense that this is too tough a vote for his members to take, he’s not going to go through with it. And he also certainly is not going to put up a SCOTUS vote that isn’t going to pass.”

FORD’S CREDIBILITY LIKELY OUTWEIGHS KAVANAUGH’S.  Reason: “Some are making a big deal out of the fact that Christine Blasey Ford took a polygraph, and the allegation was deemed credible. This is actually a comparatively weak piece of evidence in Ford’s favor. Lie detectors can be gamed, and the scientific community is conflicted on their overall reliability.”

“But other circumstantial evidence gives some weight to Ford’s claims. Kavanaugh’s friend, Mark Judge, is a conservative commentator who strongly denied Ford’s accusation when it was made anonymously… Judge is also the author of two books that address his own alcoholism throughout his teen years — Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk and God and Man at Georgetown Prep.”

Meanwhile, Mother Jones “suggests that Judge might simply not remember the incident in question. The article also draws attention to another passage from the Georgetown Prep book, in which Judge makes reference to friend, ‘Bart O’Kavanaugh,’ who ‘puked in someone’s car the other night’ and passed out on the way back from a party. And the Georgetown Prep yearbook entry for Kavanaugh makes reference to his membership in the ‘Keg City Club.’”

“That the teenage Kavanaugh was a notorious drinker and party boy while in high school does not confirm what Ford has said about him. But it does make it somewhat easier to believe Ford’s claim.”

Hillary Clinton, writing in The Atlantic:  “It’s been nearly two years since Donald Trump won enough Electoral College votes to become president of the United States. On the day after, in my concession speech, I said, ‘We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.’ I hoped that my fears for our future were overblown.”

“They were not. In the roughly 21 months since he took the oath of office, Trump has sunk far below the already-low bar he set for himself in his ugly campaign.”

“Trump and his cronies do so many despicable things that it can be hard to keep track. I think that may be the point—to confound us, so it’s harder to keep our eye on the ball. The ball, of course, is protecting American democracy. As citizens, that’s our most important charge. And right now, our democracy is in crisis.”

REPUBLICAN VOTERS ARE COMPLACENT AND DISBELIEVING.  GOOD.    Jonathan Swan: “A source who has seen recent polling, conducted by the Republican National Committee, told me the data show that a majority of Trump voters don’t believe the mountain of evidence that Democrats will win back the House in November.”

“Fifty-seven percent of strong Trump supporters believe it’s unlikely Democrats win the House.”  “This disbelief freaked out Republican strategists who want their voters to be panicked enough to vote in November.”

What does the GOP expect?  You get your entire base addicted to a Propaganda Channel that 1) paints Democrats as evil, wrong and losers and 2) that never allows any actual negative news or criticism of the President?   And that if there is any negative stories out there, that it is fake news.   LOL.  Of course this was going to happen.

INVESTIGATION OF THE FEMA CHIEF REFERRED TO PROSECUTORS.  An investigation targeting FEMA chief Brock Long has been referred to federal prosecutors to determine whether criminal charges should be pursued, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Long and two other federal employees “may have broken as many as six laws as they commuted frequently between Washington and Mr. Long’s home in Hickory, NC, at taxpayers’ expense.”

House Republicans will investigate reports that FEMA administrator Brock Long “repeatedly misused government vehicles to commute from Washington to North Carolina, where his family resides,” the New York Times reports.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote to Mr. Long “requesting documentation and other information related to his use of government vehicles and about the agency personnel who may have accompanied him on the trips.”

“Mr. Gowdy learned of the potential misuse last week from press reports, but he delayed launching an inquiry as FEMA girded for what was then Hurricane Florence, which was bearing down on the Carolina coast.”

FLYNN TO BE FINALLY SENTENCED.  Special counsel Robert Mueller “is asking a federal judge in Washington, D.C., to move forward with the sentencing of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, nearly 10 months after he pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about his Russia contacts,” The Hill reports.

“The latest development indicates that Mueller believes he has gotten all that he can or needs from Flynn in the nearly 10 months since he admitted to lying to FBI investigators about his Russia contacts.”

COLLINS TO REMAIN ON BALLOT.  Indicted Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) will stay on the ballot in his New York congressional district this fall, the Buffalo News reports.

Roll Call: “Local GOP leaders had for several weeks been looking for a way to replace Collins with another Republican candidate on the ballot. The news Monday signals that they were not able to find a viable path to replace Collins.”

David Frum: “The Kavanaugh nomination will now be assessed by people all of whom voted for the presidential candidate who confessed to grabbing women. On present indications, the allegations against Kavanaugh will not to be assessed in any meaningful sense at all. But ‘assessed’ is the wrong word. They are not going to be assessed in any meaningful sense of that word. The Senate Judiciary Committee has already released a statement dismissing the allegations as unworthy of further attention, and in fact, as an abuse of the hearing process. The candidate has been vetted, there is nothing more to learn or say.”

“‘The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.’ So said Mitch McConnell about the Merrick Garland nomination nine months before the 2016 elections. It’s now less than eight weeks to elections that may remake the Senate. What’s the case that this group of men should be the one to speak for the American people about this nomination?”

“It will be not be easy to ascertain what happened all those years ago. It will not be much easier to judge the relevance of those events, whatever they were, to a confirmation vote 36 years later. But we can judge the judges — and they are the wrong men in the wrong job at the wrong time. This vote should be delayed until more facts are in, and until a broader public has made its voice heard.””

MAKING NICE AT STATE.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “has nearly doubled promotions of top American diplomats as he seeks to restore diplomatic ties with a workforce alienated by his predecessor, Rex Tillerson,” Reuters reports.

“Since taking over in April, Pompeo has lavished attention on diplomats demoralized by the former oil executive’s distant management style, reluctance to consult in-house experts and inability to get personnel choices through President Trump’s White House.”

“The charm offensive by the former Republican lawmaker and CIA director includes resuming the hiring of diplomats’ family members when posted abroad, cheerleading emails to staff about his travels and a push to replenish the top ranks of U.S. diplomacy.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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