Open Thread

The Open Thread for September 25, 2018

“Republicans stood firm in their support of Judge Brett Kavanaugh accusing Democrats of character assassination and vowing to plow forward with his nomination in the wake of new sexual assault allegations over the weekend,” USA Today reports.  Kavanaugh continued to deny allegations of sexual assault: “There is now a frenzy to come up with something – anything – that will block this process and a vote on my confirmation from occurring. Such grotesque and obvious character assassination – if allowed to succeed – will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions from service.”

Kavanaugh said he will “not be intimidated into withdrawing” his Supreme Court nomination after a second woman came forward with a sexual misconduct allegation against him, The Hill reports.  Kavanaugh described the accusations against him as “smears, pure and simple.”  He added: “I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process. The coordinated effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. The last- minute character assassination will not succeed.”

Meanwhile, Michael Avenatti, who said he has “credible information” about more sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, told The Hill that he expects his new client will appear for an on-camera interview within the next 48 hours.  He said he does not know which media outlet she will appear on: “We have not finalized the details.”  So that is a third accuser.   And “Montgomery County investigators confirmed Monday they’re aware of a potential second sexual assault complaint in the county against former Georgetown Prep student and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh,” the Montgomery County Sentinel reports.  “While investigators weren’t specific and spoke on background, they said they are looking at allegations against Kavanaugh during his senior year in high school after an anonymous witness came forward this weekend.”  So that is a fourth accuser.

Further, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said Monday she believed the Senate Judiciary Committee should hear from Kavanaugh’s second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, who alleges that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when the two were freshman at Yale University in the early ‘80s. The Hill writes:  “I believe that the committee investigators should reach out to Deborah Ramirez to question her under oath about what she is alleging happened,” Collins told reporters, when asked what she made of the latest allegation against Kavanaugh.

But Collins also indicated she did not think Ramirez should testify this Thursday—when Kavanaugh’s first accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is scheduled to appear before the panel—because Senate staffers haven’t had a chance to even interview Ramirez yet.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “will stay in the job for now, but will meet with the president on Thursday, after officials described a series of private discussions that pointed to his resignation or firing,” theWashington Post reports.

“The announcement capped a tense few hours after officials said Rosenstein had told White House officials over the weekend that he was willing to resign in the wake of revelations that he once suggested secretly recording President Trump.”

New York Times: “A departure by Mr. Rosenstein would likely thrust the administration into further turmoil just weeks before November’s midterm elections.”

Josh Marshall on what happened here, and I agree with him:  “My read here is that Kelly thought or wanted to think that Rosenstein said he was willing to resign. But he refused to resign and made clear that if they wanted him gone Trump would have to fire him. Trump didn’t have the nerve to pull that trigger. Perhaps Kelly made clear that this was something Trump needed to do himself. So here we are.”

It is a classic stalemate situation where the White House wants Rosenstein to resign, but it will not fire him; and where Rosenstein wants to be fired, but he will not resign

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) told Showtime that she doesn’t believe Brett Kavanaugh will overturn a landmark abortion ruling if he’s confirmed to the Supreme Court.

When asked about how she could potentially be “the vote” that leads to the landmark 1973 case being repealed, she replied: “Well first of all I do not believe he’s going to repeal Roe v. Wade.”

She added that she won’t formally make up her mind on Kavanaugh before hearing from Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of trying to rape her while they were both in high school.

Someone needs to ask her if she will immediately resign when Roe v. Wade is overturned by a Justice she votes for.   She won’t, of course, since she is a Republican and thus does not know the definition of the word ‘accountability.’

Gabriel Sherman: “For all the morning’s madness, there may have been an underlying logic. Over the weekend, as Brett Kavanaugh’s prospects appeared increasingly imperiled, Trump faced two tactical options, both of them fraught. One was to cut Kavanaugh loose. But he was also looking for ways to dramatically shift the news cycle away from his embattled Supreme Court nominee. According to a source briefed on Trump’s thinking, Trump decided that firing Rosenstein would knock Kavanaugh out of the news, potentially saving his nomination and Republicans’ chances for keeping the Senate… The leak about Rosenstein’s resignation could have been the result, and it certainly had the desired effect of driving Kavanaugh out of the news for a few hours.”

“The confusion surrounding Rosenstein’s tenure may not give Kavanaugh a reprieve. In public, Trump continues to voice support for his embattled Supreme Court nominee… But in private, Trump is growing increasingly frustrated by being mired in a deteriorating political situation beyond his control. On Monday morning, a Republican briefed on Trump’s thinking said the president has been considering pulling Kavanaugh’s nomination.”

“According to the source, Trump allies are imploring him to cut Kavanaugh loose for the sake of saving Republicans’ electoral chances in the midterms.”

Jeffrey Toobin: “Firing Mueller—who has been investigating Trump and his campaign and Administration for a year and a half—would be the very definition of a high crime and misdemeanor, as impeachable offenses are defined in the Constitution. But would the Republicans who control Congress see it that way?”

“Put another way, the real question is whether there is any political will among the Republicans who run the legislative branch of government to check Trump’s power. One of the signal features of the Trump Presidency has been the abject surrender of the Republican Party, especially in Congress, to all of Trump’s demands. Most congressional Republicans have made dutiful statements urging the President not to fire Mueller, but will they really take any action if Trump actually does it? Their history suggests that they will not—and they may soon have the chance to test that hypothesis. Mueller’s fate has never looked more precarious than it does today, and he would be foolish to think that the Republicans in Congress would do anything to protect him.”

Jonathan Chait: “People do make decisions for irrational reasons. But the power ultimately does not rest with Trump, or even the majority of Republicans who have been rushing the hearings through and working to prevent either additional testimony or an FBI investigation. The power to decide rests with any two Republican senators who don’t want to support Kavanaugh on the terms the party has set, which means hurtling through new revelations without even the pretense of due diligence. If any two of them pull the plug, Trump has no choice but to find a new candidate.”

“Kavanaugh is a massive liability now for a party that is already heavily identified with the grossest and most predatory aspects of male sexual entitlement. Keeping Kavanaugh at this point would be an act of sheer madness.”

Caitlin Owens: “With the midterm elections fast approaching and Democrats riding a clear advantage on health care, many Republicans are nevertheless doubling down on largely unpopular ideas like repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting Medicare.”

“This strategy may seem counterintuitive on its face. However, it likely reveals that the party has all but abandoned independent voters this year and instead is focused on turning out its base.”

“Brett Kavanaugh’s allies plan to aggressively contest what they call the ‘foggy memories’ of his accusers — an approach that’s likely to lead to nasty confrontations at Thursday’s showdown hearing on his confirmation to the Supreme Court,” Axios reports.

“The plan is to fight back right away, and to emphasize denials and hazy recollections. And the mission is to portray the debate as cheap-shot politics orchestrated by liberals and abetted by the media.”

“Kavanaugh’s future rests partly with Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. But the senator who most worries Kavanaugh strategists is Jeff Flake of Arizona, who is retiring and has ripped Trump (and been ripped by Trump).”

Jane Mayer: “Politicians may be too timid to explore the subject, but a new book from, of all places, Oxford University Press promises to be incendiary. Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President—What We Don’t, Can’t, and Do Know, by Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor of communications at the University of Pennsylvania, dares to ask—and even attempts to answer—whether Russian meddling had a decisive impact in 2016. Jamieson offers a forensic analysis of the available evidence and concludes that Russia very likely delivered Trump’s victory.”

“The book, which is coming out less than two months before the midterm elections, at a moment when polls suggest that some sixty per cent of voters disapprove of Trump, may well reignite the question of Trump’s electoral legitimacy.”

First Read: “As we learned from the accusations against Al Franken, one allegation is a big problem. Two or more become deadly, because there’s always the threat of yet another accusation.”

“And that brings us back to that ‘higher standard’ for Supreme Court nominees – with the Senate Judiciary Committee set to hear from Kavanaugh Christine Blasey Ford on Thursday. These aren’t allegations against a sitting U.S. senator (like Franken) or someone running for office whom voters can reject (like Keith Ellison). They’re against someone picked for a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

“Given that higher standard, as well as the lesson from Franken, it’s increasingly likely that Kavanaugh’s chances of getting 51 votes are over. We just don’t know how this ends. Does Kavanaugh withdraw? Does Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signal that the votes aren’t there – to give Trump and the GOP enough time to name a new nominee? Or is there enough time?”

James Hohmann: “No Democrats will vote for Kavanaugh at this point. That means that he’d go down if two of the 51 Republican senators defect.”

“The two senators considered likeliest to flip are the moderate women from Maine and Alaska, who have remained officially undecided and are both supportive of abortion rights. Each is holding their cards close to the vest. Remember, it was Collins and Murkowski who teamed up with John McCain to block the repeal of Obamacare last year. Because Roy Moore lost the special election in Alabama last December, the GOP now has one fewer seat than it did then.”

“If just one GOP senator defected, Vice President Pence would break the tie. But that’s a political headache for Republicans, too, because members like Nevada’s Dean Heller in 2018 and Cory Gardner in 2020 would inevitably face attack ads that accuse them of casting the deciding vote to put an accused sexual predator on the high court.”

“Also keep an eye on Jeff Flake. Retiring this year, the Arizona Republican is thinking a lot about his legacy. Is this a vote he wants to define it?”

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

16 comments on “The Open Thread for September 25, 2018

  1. Don’t count on a no vote from Collins, she has played this game a dozen times, when it comes down to it she’s a yes vote and a doctrinaire Republican. Jeff Flake is a much more likely defection from the party. As noted the Republicans could give a good god damn about it if the allegations against Kavanaugh are true or not, the goal is power and a court that is a rubber stamp for big business. Not noted is that like all good sexual predators Kavanaugh has an assortment of victims coming forth, believe the count stands at three with a fourth possible.

  2. “Such grotesque and obvious character assassination – if allowed to succeed – will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions from service.”

    Total bullshit, as there are no Republicans who are in government positions because they believe in “service.” They’re there to steal whatever they can. If we can dissuade Republicans from ever seeking government employment again, wonderful.

    • I took that to mean Rep Hood has also committed sexual assault, so has every man he associates with.

    • Like the Demorats are any better?? They’re politicians! But, not all politicians are bad.

  3. Kavanaugh’s yearbook contradicts his self-painted FOX interview choirboy image.

    “According to a Monday New York Times report, Kavanaugh’s personal page is tagged with “Renate Alumnius.” A picture of him and other football players is emblazoned with “Renate Alumni.”

    Renate Schroeder is a girl who attended a nearby school.

    Cavanaugh’s Lawyer’s explanation: “Judge Kavanaugh and Ms. Dolphin attended one high school event together and shared a brief kiss good night following that event,” the statement reads. “They had no other such encounter. The language from Judge Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook refers to the fact that he and Ms. Dolphin attended that one high school event together and nothing else.”

    When a group of high school football players tag a girl’s name like this it’s never sweet and innocent. Her name appears at least 14 times in the Georgetown Prep yearbook, but it was just about innocent dates? Yeah, right.

    Also, Renate says she never kissed Kavanuagh.

    And then there’s the reference to a Devil’s Triangle. I know of two definitions with this phrase. Google at your own risk.

  4. Re the yearbook entry (find it here: “Beach Week Ralph Club – Biggest Contributor” — the first thing that comes to mind is ralph = barf (at least when I was in high school, and I’m only a little older than this high school jerk). So he’s bragging about being the most prolific puker at parties? Gross. Also, what’s the meaning of Boof — He seems to be asking his friend Mark Judge whether he’s “boofed” yet. (Notice the Times folks seem to have redacted names, but left Renate in and apparently missed that Judge referred to a person and not a position.) The guy was clearly a cretin and doesn’t have the integrity to own up to any specific acts. How can he be trusted to rule with an open mind if he has such a lack of self-awareness, introspection, and humility?

    • Aaaaand… first definition makes total sense in context:

      • Actually, the second one makes more sense to me (emphasis mine):

        A synonym for weed. Originated in Washington, D.C.

        • Young person here who spent too much time at parties and music festivals… boof, or boofing only means one thing. and it aint herb. (no i havent boofed)

          • Eeeww! That’s disgusting, Ben! 😮

          • @Ben — so, definition #1? Seems to me that route of administration (to use medical terminology) was a thing here in NCC in the late 70s. I seem to recall downer suppositories (second-hand info, but I heard about them).

          • But, you’re not from D.C., are you? And Kavanaugh is, isn’t he?

            • Fair point. It IS pretty clear though, that he is a total drunk .”The method”, we’ll call it, is quite popular with folks who want to be blackout trashed w/o the wait of digestion or liver filtration . look at the guy. My guess is he narced on classmates who puffed, went home, butt-chugged some so-co and went looking for prey.

    • It is gross, Paula. The lying is just so blatant. No on believes the “Renate Alumni” excuse Kavanaugh’s lawyer put forth.

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