The Open Thread for September 20, 2018

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told Christine Blasey Ford that she must send him documents by 10 a.m. on Friday in order to testify Monday against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, CNBC reports.  “The deadline tightens the screws on Ford to testify in a public Senate hearing under oath about her allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both teenagers.”

Meanwhile, CNN reports Grassley offered to send staffers to California to interview Ford, “if that makes her more comfortable.”

Cristina Miranda King, a former schoolmate of Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser, wrote a Facebook post saying she recalls hearing about the alleged sexual assault involving Kavanaugh, NBC News reports.

Said King: “Christine Blasey Ford was a year or so behind me. I did not know her personally but I remember her. This incident did happen.”

She added: “Many of us heard a buzz about it indirectly with few specific details. However Christine’s vivid recollection should be more than enough for us to truly, deeply know that the accusation is true.”

President Trump “is growing more confident that his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, can weather a charge of sexual assault and will be confirmed,” Politico reports. “The feeling is shared by some of Trump’s key Republican allies, even as controversy continues to rage over a sexual-assault allegation against the conservative judge. The White House and its allies have taken no steps to line up a new nominee, according to four people familiar with the confirmation process.”

The Fix: Republicans seem to have the votes to confirm Kavanaugh.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to do his best to depress GOP turnout by giving his supporters fake news.  He doubled down on his confidence about this year’s midterm elections, telling The Hill that he liked the Republican party’s chances given the growing economy.  Said Trump: “I think we’re gonna do much better than anyone thinks because the economy is so good, and people do like the job I’m doing.”

Trump noted that his confidence is rooted in his experience from 2016 when he won the presidency against long odds.

“The Trump administration is unable to account for the whereabouts of nearly 1,500 migrant children who illegally entered the United States alone this year and were placed with sponsors after leaving federal shelters,” the New York Times reports.

“The revelation echoes an admission in April by the Department of Health and Human Services that the government had similarly lost track of an additional 1,475 migrant children it had moved out of shelters last year.”

NBC News: “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says he plans to shut down his country’s nuclear complex, halt missile testing and cease hostile acts toward South Korea as part of a new agreement unveiled Wednesday. The pact unveiled during a joint news conference held at the end of a two-day meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang also includes plans for the countries to host the Summer Olympics in 2032.”

But the New York Times cautions: “The offers Mr. Kim made on Wednesday … indicated that he was willing to curtail his country’s ability to produce more nuclear warheads and ICBMs. But they say little about what he will do with his existing arsenal. Mr. Kim’s ultimate goal, analysts say, is to make the Trump administration complacent enough about the recent détente to ease sanctions in return for a mere freeze — not the dismantlement — of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs.”

“President Trump’s declaration that ‘I don’t have an attorney general‘ was not merely the cry of an executive feeling betrayed by a subordinate,” the Washington Post reports.

“It was also a raw expression of vulnerability and anger from a president who associates say increasingly believes he is unprotected — with the Russia investigation steamrolling ahead, anonymous administration officials seeking to undermine him and a referendum looming in the Nov. 6 midterm elections, the results of which could potentially lead to impeachment proceedings.”

“Publicly, at least, Trump is going through the ordinary motions of being president… Behind the scenes, however, Trump is confronting broadsides from every direction — legal, political and personal.”

President Trump later said “We have an attorney general. I’m disappointed in the attorney general for many reasons,” the New York Times reports.  When asked whether he planned to fire Sessions, the president added: “We are looking at lots of different things.”

Former FBI Director James Comey told St. Louis Public Radio that he thinks that with the plea deal and cooperation by Paul Manafort, special counsel Robert Mueller may be in “the fourth quarter” of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Said Comey: “The reason I’m hesitant to even say that is because Bob Mueller’s conducted his investigation like a pro — you know nothing about it except through his public filings, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. And so I can’t say with certainty where he is.”

Indicted Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) wrote in an email to supporters that he would continue to serve in Congress if re-elected, Roll Call reports.

Said Collins: “Voters can be assured that with the recent turn of events, they can count on me to actively campaign for Congress, and to serve should voters re-elect me. The stakes are too high to allow the radical left to take control of this seat in Congress”

Associated Press: “Groups that typically back GOP candidates, such as the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, are sitting on the sidelines. Mike Braun’s (R) recent three-stop ‘solutions’ tour — spread out across three days — was ridiculed by Democrats, who pointed to Sen. Joe Donnelly’s (D-IN) seven-day, 40-stop trek in August.”

“And while Braun, a multimillionaire businessman, took out $6.4 million in loans to fund his primary campaign, he also publicly groused about the cost. Now, with less than two months until the election, he has yet to purchase air time for October, while Donnelly has outspent him by almost double on TV and radio since June, records show.”

This is a long but important read.

President Trump said that he regrets not firing FBI Director James Comey sooner, “asserting that he should have done so while still a candidate for president — an option that was not actually available to him,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Trump: “If I did one mistake with Comey, I should have fired him before I got here. I should have fired him right after the convention, say I don’t want that guy. Or at least fired him the first day on the job. … I would have been better off firing him or putting out a statement that I don’t want him there when I get there.”

Trump seems to think he became President was bestowed all its powers the second he decided he wanted to be President.  He is truly insane.

Playbook: “All of a sudden, out of seemingly nowhere, it seems like Republicans are gently steering Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination back on track.”

“Republicans and Democrats are at a stalemate. Senate Republicans offered Christine Blasey Ford the chance to testify publicly or privately, but her lawyer said that first the FBI should investigate the three-decade-old sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.”

“Republicans will insist they were reasonable, and Kavanaugh’s fate will be in the hands of Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski. The more time that goes by without her testifying, the more likely it is that Kavanaugh will be confirmed.”

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao “flew on Federal Aviation Administration planes rather than commercial flights on seven occasions between January and August 2017, newly released records show — including one flight to and around Europe that cost taxpayers an estimated $68,892 for her and five staffers,” Politico reports.

“She appears to have halted the practice just as one of her fellow Cabinet members, then-Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, was facing increasing scrutiny over his use of private and military flights.”

Dick Polman: “To understand why women overwhelmingly support a Democratic takeover of Congress — a landslide majority of 65%, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post survey — it’s worth parsing some of the initial Republican responses to the sexual-assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. The remarks explain why, on the cusp of the first national elections of the #MeToo era, Republicans on the ballot are confronted with a gender gap that threatens to become an unbridgeable canyon.”

“After their initial defensive flurry, Republicans quickly recognized that ramming Kavanaugh’s nomination through without affording Ford an opportunity to testify under oath would be politically suicidal. But even though they’ve hit the pause button and slated a public hearing for Monday, it’s likely that many women in the electorate have already gotten the message, one that mirrors the message they’ve received from Trump Republicans all along: that the ruling patriarchy does not respect, and indeed feels threatened by, the power of women.”

“Advocacy groups pouring money into independent campaigns to influence this fall’s midterm races must disclose many of their political donors beginning this week after the Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to intervene in a long-running case,” the Washington Post reports.

“The high court did not grant an emergency request to stay a ruling by a federal judge in Washington who had thrown out a decades-old Federal Election Commission regulation allowing nonprofit groups to keep their donors secret unless they had earmarked their money for certain purposes.”

President Trump “is privately lashing out at one of his top allies, Ron DeSantis (R), angrily accusing the Florida Republican gubernatorial nominee of publicly betraying him,” Politico reports.

“The president has told close associates in recent days that he views DeSantis — who won his Aug. 28 GOP primary thanks to Trump’s strong support — as profoundly disloyal for distancing himself from the president’s assertion that the Hurricane Maria death toll was inflated by Democrats for political purposes.”

“Trump views the former congressman as politically indebted to him… because he believes DeSantis owes his electoral success to him.”

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

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