The Open Thread for September 22, 2018

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) told the lawyers for accuser Christine Blasey Ford that the panel “has been extremely accommodating to your client” but will schedule a vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court on Monday if they do not respond by 10 p.m. ET, the Washington Post reports.

Grassley said the panel is willing to move Monday’s scheduled hearing to Wednesday, but “we are unwilling to accommodate your unreasonable demands. Outside counsel may not dictate the terms under which committee business will be conducted.”

But Grassley doesn’t have Collins and Murkowski on board:

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggested secretly recording President Trump “to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office for being unfit,” the New York Times reports.

Rosenstein “made these suggestions in the spring of 2017 when Trump’s firing of James Comey as FBI 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 Trump had asked Comey to pledge loyalty and end an investigation into a senior aide.”

“The extreme suggestions show Rosenstein’s state of mind in the disorienting days that followed Comey’s dismissal.”

ABC News and the Washington Post report that the details of Rosenstein’s discussions are included in the memos of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

Rosenstein slammed The New York Times’ report that he suggested recording President Trump and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office, calling the piece “inaccurate and factually incorrect.”

“The New York Times’s story is inaccurate and factually incorrect,” he told the Times in a statement. “I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the department and are advancing their own personal agenda. But let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”

This is all a put up job by Trump and his allies to give him an excuse to fire Rosenstein and thus Mueller.

And we have our first Richard Mourdock of the 2018 cycle.  North Dakota U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Cramer (R) said that the accusation against Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh was “even more absurd” than Anita Hill’s accusation against Clarence Thomas because Kavanaugh and his accuser were drunk teenagers when the alleged incident occurred, CNN reports.

Said Cramer: “These are teenagers who evidently were drunk, according to her own statement. They were drunk. Nothing evidently happened in it all, even by her own accusation. Again, it was supposedly an attempt or something that never went anywhere.”

Christine Blasey Ford alleged that Kavanaugh was “stumbling drunk,” but only said she had one beer at the party.  Here’s the audio of what Cramer said — the quoted remarks start at around 4 minutes and 30 seconds in, though it’s worth listening to his full comments.

Max Boot: “That Kavanaugh is the victim of mistaken identity was the implausible theory put forward by Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington. On Thursday night he posted (and now has deleted) a long series of tweets, complete with links to Zillow and Google Maps, arguing that Ford had indeed been assaulted — but by a friend of Kavanaugh’s who looked a lot like him. And then he proceeded to name the friend and post his picture. In the long annals of American politics, a lot of people have done a lot of irresponsible things, but for sheer callousness and craziness it’s hard to top an accusation of sexual assault against a specific individual based on, essentially, nothing. This is McCarthyism redux — and if Kavanaugh is revealed to have any connection to the propagation of this loathsome falsehood, he should be voted down overwhelmingly by the Senate.”

“It tells you how far the right has descended into madness that this vile accusation did not come from an anonymous blogger on some online bulletin board or from professional conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. It came from someone with sterling establishment credentials.”

Politico: Public relations firm helped Whelan stoke half-baked Kavanaugh alibi.

“The National Republican Congressional Committee’s independent expenditure unit is cancelling its remaining ad reservation in the Pittsburgh media market through Election Day – a potentially grim sign for Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA),” The Hill reports.

“The move comes weeks after the NRCC pulled the plug on reservations in the area for Sept. 12-Oct. 8 and could signal that the committee may be losing confidence in whether Rothfus can defeat Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) in November.”


Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) “raised nearly $9.1 million online for his Senate bid in August, according to a new campaign finance filing, increasing the pressure on GOP Sen. Ted Cruz in an unexpectedly close race,” Politico reports.  “The online haul puts O’Rourke on pace to have one of the most prolific fundraising quarters of any Senate candidate in history.”

Benjamin Wittes: “I have known Brett Kavanaugh for a long time—in many different contexts. I am fond of him personally. I think the world of him intellectually. I don’t believe he lied in his Senate testimony. I don’t believe he’s itching to get on the Supreme Court to protect Donald Trump from Robert Mueller. I’m much less afraid of conservative judges than are many of my liberal friends. As recently as a few days ago, I was cheerfully vouching for Kavanaugh’s character.”

“That said, the allegation against him is, at least so far as one can tell from the press reports, credible, and it deserves to be taken seriously.”

“If Kavanaugh were to ask my advice today—and to be clear, he hasn’t done so—I would tell him he almost certainly should have his nomination withdrawn. The circumstances in which he should fight this out are, in my view, extremely limited.”

Wall Street Journal: “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.”

“John Dowd, who at the time was heading Mr. Trump’s legal team, at the start of the year told associates of the president he wanted to direct money from the legal defense fund set up for White House officials and campaign aides to the lawyers for Messrs. Manafort and Gates.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said she was “appalled” by President Trump’s tweets Friday morning that criticized Christine Blasey Ford for not coming forward sooner with her allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the Portland Press Herald reports.  Said Collins: “I was appalled by the president’s tweet. First of all, we know that allegations of sexual assault – I’m not saying that’s what happened in this case – but we know allegations of sexual assault are one of the most unreported crimes that exist. So I thought that the president’s tweet was completely inappropriate and wrong.”

CBS News: Republicans thought they were winning the Kavanaugh argument until Trump tweeted.

“Russian diplomats held secret talks in London last year with people close to Julian Assange to assess whether they could help him flee the UK,” the Guardian reports.

“A tentative plan was devised that would have seen the WikiLeaks founder smuggled out of Ecuador’s London embassy in a diplomatic vehicle and transported to another country. One ultimate destination, multiple sources have said, was Russia, where Assange would not be at risk of extradition to the US.”

“The plan was abandoned after it was deemed too risky.”

NBC News: “Days before the Trump administration announced plans to slash the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. to its lowest level in 40 years, Stephen Miller made his case for fewer refugees to a room of senior officials at the White House. His sales job was made easier by the absence of top officials who disagree with his stance. They weren’t there because they weren’t invited.”

“Missing from the room last Friday were U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Mark Green, both of whom have promoted a more generous policy toward refugees… Miller’s victories on the Muslim travel ban, limiting legal immigration and separating migrant families at the border show his skill in pulling bureaucratic levers, blocking opponents from key meetings, restricting the flow of information and inserting his allies in key positions.”

President Trump “walked back his order earlier this week to declassify information in the ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, saying Justice Department officials and others had persuaded him not to do so for the time being,” the Washington Post reports.

“The retreat from his declassification decree issued just four days ago underscores the ongoing tensions between the White House and the Justice Department over the probe by special counsel Robert Mueller III, who is examining whether any Trump associates may have conspired with the Kremlin to interfere in the election.”

First Read notes Trump hinted at this move last night: “We are moving along, we’re working along. We are also dealing with foreign countries that do have a problem. I must tell you. I got called today from two very good allies saying ‘Please, can we talk.’ It is not as simple as all of that. We do have to respect their wishes. But it will all come out.”

Playbook: “If you’re Trump, is there any cogent case to not shut down the government one week from today? Here is what a few of the president’s allies are whispering to us.”

“It wouldn’t hurt too badly. Congress has already passed a bunch of government spending bills, ensuring a shutdown would only be a partial stoppage of government funding. Trump has bills on his desk that fund critical parts of government. Much of the money Trump wants would come in Department of Homeland Security appropriations. So if he wanted to take a stand, it would be narrowly targeted to one department.”

“This is what he promised. If you are a Republican lawmaker who believes that the 2016 election was about Trump’s hard-line immigration policies — as many conservatives tell us they do — shouldn’t you take a stand on that while you can? Shouldn’t Republicans fear their base is going to stay home if an all-Republican Washington blows it on the wall?”

“Washington might not be red for long. This could be the president’s last chance to get a wall. The House is looking like it could be lost come January. No chance in hell that the leftward-drifting House will give him the wall if they get the majority in 2019. Zero. Zip. Zilch. If Ds win the House, there is no chance the president will get a wall in the lame duck, either.”

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

11 comments on “The Open Thread for September 22, 2018

  1. Said Cramer: “These are teenagers who evidently were drunk, according to her own statement. They were drunk. Nothing evidently happened in it all, even by her own accusation. Again, it was supposedly an attempt or something that never went anywhere.”

    Guess he applies this to attempted murder as well.

    Amazing how Republicans have moved past “he didn’t do it” to “boys will be boys and she was drunk”.

    • I’m beginning to think that the response to “boys will be boys” is “boys will be hurt”. Need to start a nationwide effort to train girls to fight back backed up with a massive legal defense fund.

    • This is the Brock Turner defense — it wasn’t intercourse, it was outercourse.

  2. Aaaand a third witness denies Ford’s allegations… a lifelong friend of the accuser. That’s not going to help her case.

    It is clear now that Democrats never wanted her to testify. That is why DiFi sat on the letter for two months. They know the allegations are false and that she would be a disaster on the stand. The presidential wannabes on the Democratic side of the Judicial Committee obviously felt they didn’t get enough grandstanding in during the hearings and wanted more camera time.

    Purely a political calculation to try and get the Democratic base of pussy hat wearing shrieking loons motivated for the midterms.

  3. Aaand now there’s a second Kavanaugh accuser. That’s not going to help his case.

    It is clear now that Republicans never wanted her to testify. That is why they’ve jacked her around and tried to rush this nomination through after sitting on the last one for nearly a year, an unprecedented declaration of war. They know the allegations are true and that wrinkled old senators would be a disaster grilling a woman. The frightened Trump-kissers on the Republican side of the Judicial Committee obviously felt they didn’t get enough credit for being “fighters” in during the hearings and wanted more camera time.

    Purely a political calculation to try and get the Republican base of racist fuckwads motivated for the midterms.

    There, fixed it for you.

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