Delaware

The Open Thread for September 19, 2018

“The woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault says the FBI should investigate the incident before senators hold a hearing on the allegations,” CNN reports.

Christine Blasey Ford’s attorneys argue that “a full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner, and that the Committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions.”

The letter from Ford’s lawyers Ford has also “been the target of vicious harassment and even death threats” and has been forced to leave her home.

An FBI investigation would interview people like Rebecca White, who told the San Jose Mercury News that Christine Blasey Ford had told her about the alleged sexual assault by Brett Kavanaugh — without naming him — in late 2017 during the height of the #MeToo movement and long before Kavanaugh was a Supreme Court nominee.

Last year, White had added her own #MeToo story about being raped as a teenager to a Facebook post.

Said White: “She reached out to me afterward, supporting me and my story and that she had something happen to her when she was really young and that the guy was a federal judge. She said she had been assaulted. She said hers had been violent as well, physically scary, fighting for her life.”

Anita Hill: “Today, the public expects better from our government than we got in 1991, when our representatives performed in ways that gave employers permission to mishandle workplace harassment complaints throughout the following decades. That the Senate Judiciary Committee still lacks a protocol for vetting sexual harassment and assault claims that surface during a confirmation hearing suggests that the committee has learned little from the Thomas hearing, much less the more recent #MeToo movement.”

First Read: “The danger for Republicans is that, in what’s already billed as another ‘Year of the Woman’ (with fired-up female voters and a record number of female candidates), there is not a single Republican woman who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, compared with four female Democrats. Another danger for the GOP was Kavanaugh’s shaky original performance before the committee (compare and contrast his testimony versus Neil Gorsuch’s a year ago). And then there’s President Trump, who could pour gasoline on this fire at any time (though he was remarkably restrained yesterday).”

“The peril for Democrats is that brass-knuckled fights over the culture wars have traditionally benefited the Republican Party, and that few issues fire up conservatives more than the courts. What’s more, a Kavanaugh vs. Christine Blasey Ford spectacle presents a level of unpredictability in an election season where Democrats currently have the advantage.”

“Given this danger for both parties, we wouldn’t be surprised if this hearing never happens — because Kavanaugh ultimately withdraws his nomination. He survived yesterday. But does he survive today? Or tomorrow? Or Thursday? Or Friday?”

New York Times: “Trump’s lawyers have only a limited sense of what many witnesses — including senior administration officials and the president’s business associates — have told investigators and what the Justice Department plans to do with any incriminating information it has about Mr. Trump, according to interviews with more than a dozen people close to the president.”

“What is more, it is not clear if Mr. Trump has given his lawyers a full account of some key events in which he has been involved as president or during his decades running the Trump Organization.”

Sam Baker: “Democrats are serious about making health care the centerpiece of their midterm election strategy. Every day brings new ads, press statements and other election-season positioning — from moderates and progressives alike — that slams Republicans over threats to the Affordable Care Act.”

“Democrats’ health care strategy is well-established, so every new example of it isn’t newsworthy. But it’s still worth stepping back to appreciate just how quickly Democrats have gone back on offense on health care, after so many years of seeing mainly Republican ads about the issue.”

Jonathan Chait: “Of course, if voters like the Republican policy agenda, there is nothing stopping candidates from trying to remind them of all their good works. If you recall, during the debate over the tax cut, Republican leaders continually insisted the tax cuts would be popular, and if enacted into law would provide the basis for their candidates to campaign. But the tax cuts remain unpopular, and Republicans have stopped talking about them.”

“In fact, the Republicans’ own polling confirms this. Josh Green has obtained internal Republican survey data, which includes the hilarious finding that Republicans voters refuse to believe Democrats might win Congress. More pertinently, it reveals that voters are not actually onboard with the party agenda. The survey found ‘increasing funding for veterans’ mental health services, strengthening and preserving Medicare and Social Security, and reforming the student loan system all scored higher than Trump’s favored subjects of tax cuts, border security, and preserving the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.’”

Jonathan Swan: “Folks involved in the process seem to be most worried about Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) — even more so than Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), whom they’re quite worried about.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) told CBS News that she believes the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when the two were high school students in the 1980’s, noting that Christine Blasey Ford, the woman behind the allegations, has “nothing to gain” by stepping forward.

Said Harris: “I think it’s going to be about, it comes down to credibility…and it’s going to about listening to what each party has to say, but I believe her.”

“With the noxious odor of red tide hanging in the air and a fresh wave of dead fish washing up on nearby Gulf beaches, a large crowd of people incensed about the devastating algae bloom that has plagued the region for months directed their anger at Gov. Rick Scott (R) during a campaign event,” the Sarasota Herald Tribune reports.

The protesters forced Scott “to enter the restaurant through the back door and leave the same way after just 10 minutes as members of the crowd shouted ‘coward.’”

“The Republican governor is on the defensive about his environmental record as he tries to unseat Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). Protesters gathered Monday took aim at Scott for cutting funding for environmental agencies early in his first term, arguing Scott’s cost-cutting and deregulation have kept the state from implementing measures that could have helped minimize naturally occurring red tide blooms.”

Associated Press: “Even if those voters do show up in large numbers, Republicans could still come up short. The polling presented to White House officials, which was commissioned by the Republican National Committee, showed that Trump’s loyal supporters make up about one-quarter of the electorate. Another quarter is comprised of Republicans who like Trump’s policies but not the president himself and do not appear motivated to back GOP candidates. And roughly half of expected midterm voters are Democrats who are energized by their opposition to the president.”

“White House aides say Trump is getting regular briefings on the political landscape and is aware of the increasingly grim polling, even though he’s predicted a ‘red wave’ for Republicans on Twitter and at campaign rallies. Aides say Trump’s sober briefings from GOP officials are sometimes offset by the frequent conversations he has with a cadre of outside advisers who paint a sunnier picture of the electoral landscape and remind the president of his upset victory in 2016.”

Searching for a new wedge issue to use against his opponent, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) suggested that Beto O’Rourke (D) wanted to ban barbecue in Texas, the Austin American Statesman reports.

Said Cruz: “When I got here someone told me that even PETA was protesting and giving out barbecued tofu, so I got to say, they summed up the entire election: If Texas elects a Democrat, they’re going to ban barbecue across the state of Texas.”

He added: “You want to talk about an issue to mobilize the people, and I’m talking everybody. So I want to thank PETA and I do want to tell PETA you’re going to have to disclose to the FEC that by coming and protesting and giving away tofu, that you have given an in-kind contribution to my campaign by demonstrating just how bad things can get.”

“A titan of Kansas Republican politics is shunning Kris Kobach (R), her party’s nominee, in his run for governor,” the Kansas City Star reports.  “Nancy Kassebaum, who represented Kansas for three terms in the U.S. Senate, said she will support Laura Kelly’s (D) campaign.”

“Republicans are bracing for political aftershocks from the sexual assault accusation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, with some expressing fear that the coming investigation will refocus the nation’s attention on an issue that could drive up the Democratic vote in the midterm elections,” the Washington Postreports.

“The initial hope that the conservative Kavanaugh’s appointment would encourage turnout by grateful GOP voters this fall has been tempered by new fears that more voters, especially independent women, might head to the polls with fresh anger about Republican handling of sexual impropriety after a new round of public hearings.”

“The sexual-misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh may remove pressure that some Democratic senators faced to back his confirmation as a way of reassuring conservative voters in congressional elections just seven weeks away,” Reuters reports.

“Since Kavanaugh was nominated to the high court by President Donald Trump, Democratic senators from states that Trump won in 2016 were locked in a dilemma. If they didn’t vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, they would have appeared to be out of step with voters at home and risked losing re-election.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller’ plea agreement with Paul Manafort “took unusual and possibly unprecedented steps to undercut President Trump’s ability to pardon his former campaign chairman,” Politico reports.

“The plea deal Mueller struck with the former Trump campaign chairman contains several provisions that appear intended to discourage the former Trump aide both from seeking a pardon and to rein in the impact of any pardon Trump might grant.”

“Legal experts with sweeping views of executive power and attorneys who advocate for broad use of clemency criticized what they call an effort by Mueller’s team to tie the president’s hands.”

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

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