“Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday they will not be questioning Christine Blasey Ford about her sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh later this week. Instead, they are hiring a woman as outside counsel to do it for them,” the HuffPost reports. “There’s a simple reason Republicans are doing this: Every GOP senator on the committee is male, and they don’t want to be seen as bullying a woman who is speaking out about being sexually assaulted as a teenager.”
Roll Call: “But the identity of that counsel remained an enigma Tuesday.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to push the idea that Brett Kavanaugh’s ascension to the Supreme Court is inevitable, despite the fact that as of now he doesn’t have the votes. McConnell is still trying to send a message to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and to Deborah Ramirez, who have accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, that they don’t need to bother testifying—the fix is already in.
In the Republican conference lunch, McConnell told members that they would be in session over the weekend, according to both Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Johnny Isakson of Georgia. The potential timeline for the votes would be a committee vote on Friday, a cloture motion to end debate on Saturday, the 30 hours of cloture debate occurring Sunday, and a floor vote Monday—when the Supreme Court begins its new session.
That’s McConnell’s plan, and he is clearly sending the message to Ford and to Ramirez and whatever survivors of Kavanaugh who might come forward between now and then that they might as well not bother. He is making it abundantly clear that Republicans are not interested in hearing what these women have to say.
It looks like there are not enough votes to confirm the Supreme Court nominee right now. An FBI investigation—depending on what it finds—could change that.https://t.co/jj4iraZhC2
— Washington Monthly (@washmonthly) September 25, 2018
McConnell may need to speak to Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Over the past day, a flurry of quotes from her suggest that she actually wants answers about the character of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, not just platitudes and a sham hearing so they can proceed with a confirmation vote, as fellow Republican and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised to do. First, she said Tuesday that an FBI investigation “would sure clear up all the questions, wouldn’t it?” She basically called B.S. on Donald Trump’s claim that the FBI just doesn’t do these kind of inquiries and the blanket acceptance of her male counterparts that such an investigation just isn’t necessary. Murkowski followed suit by urging Kavanaugh’s second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, to step forward while other Republicans were trying to dismiss the allegation by Ramirez as “pretty thin.”
“If there are allegations out there, Miss Ramirez needs to be willing to come forward with them,” she told reporters on Capitol Hill. Just like with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Murkowski added, “In order for us to take it under consideration, she needs to take the next step.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled its vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court for Friday morning at 9:30 am, CNN reports.
Politico: “According to committee rules, Judiciary must schedule a committee vote three days in advance. But the committee said the vote will only proceed if a ‘majority of the members’ of the 21-member committee are ready to vote on Friday.”
So in going after both of Kavanaugh's accusers with a clawhammer, Trump's either off his leash for good or is signaling a GOP strategy of holy war. https://t.co/cQuXAjSRSn
— Ed Kilgore (@ed_kilgore) September 25, 2018
President Trump called the allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh “a con game being played by the Democrats,” the Washington Post reports.
He disputed the New Yorker report that Deborah Ramirez, a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale, said he exposed himself at a party when they were both first-year students.
Said Trump: “The second accuser has nothing. She thinks maybe it could have been him, maybe not. She admits that she was drunk. She admits that there are time lapses…She said well it might not be him, and there were gaps, and she was totally inebriated and all messed up.”
James Roche, who was Brett Kavanaugh’s freshman year roommate at Yale, issued a statement on Deborah Ramirez’s accusations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in college: “Based on my time with Debbie, I believe her to be unusually honest and straightforward and I cannot imagine her making this up. Based on my time with Brett, I believe that he and his social circle were capable of the actions that Debbie described.”
“Perhaps Brett Kavanaugh was a virgin for many years after high school. But he claimed otherwise in a conversation with me during our freshman year in Lawrance Hall at Yale, in the living room of my suite.” — Steve Kantrowitz, a Yale classmate of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, on Twitter
“At first, the Sunday night publication of a New Yorker article detailing a new allegation of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh looked like a disaster for the White House,” Politico reports.
“But by Monday afternoon, President Trump’s aides and allies argued it was not only survivable, but that they could turn an alleged ‘smear’ into a political winner that might help rescue Kavanaugh’s nomination. The judge’s accusers had overplayed their hand, they insisted of the mounting charges, and revealed the coordinated partisan attack on an honorable man.”
“Undergirding the firm response was the White House’s belief that surrender in the face of what Republican loyalists consider a liberal assault would cost Trump dearly with conservative voters, a view drawn from internal White House polling.”
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) September 25, 2018
Jeffrey Toobin called the interview “weird.”
First “But how impartial can a Supreme Court nominee be when he goes on Fox News – of all possible platforms – to defend himself?
“Indeed, you can argue that the entire process of this nomination – the protests, the accusations, the defenses and now the Fox News interview – makes it almost impossible for Kavanaugh to be viewed as an impartial player. And it’s doubly tough for someone who, despite serving on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, worked on the Ken Starr investigation in the 1990s and in the George W. Bush White House in the early 2000s.”
Brett Kavanaugh and several other football players listed themselves as “Renate Alumni” in their Georgetown Prep yearbooks, the New York Times reports, apparently “boasting about their conquests.”
Renate Schroeder Dolphin was one of 64 women who signed a letter earlier this month defending Kavanaugh’s character after he was accused of sexually assault while in high school, but was stunned when she learned of the yearbook references.
Said Dolphin: “I can’t begin to comprehend what goes through… the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue. I pray their daughters are never treated this way.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders would not offer any assurances that President Trump will allow the special counsel investigation to continue without delay if Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein exits the Justice Department, telling ABC News that she doesn’t want to get ahead of the process.
The president treated the ambassadors, heads of state, and other dignitaries at the U.N. General Assembly to their very own Trump rally https://t.co/38RRMyjl0Q
— New York Magazine (@NYMag) September 25, 2018
Nate Silver: “There are huge risks to the GOP in both rushing to confirm Kavanaugh and in letting the process play out for several more weeks — which means that encouraging Kavanaugh to withdraw now, however painful it might be, is probably their least-worst option.”
“There is one other possibility, which is that McConnell — who reportedly didn’t want Kavanaugh to be chosen in the first place — could be rushing through the process in the hopes that Kavanaugh will be voted down (or forced to withdraw once it becomes clear that McConnell doesn’t have the votes). Back when Ford was Kavanaugh’s only accuser, this had seemed like a fairly likely exit strategy: The hearings would be engineered to allow Kavanaugh to save face, and perhaps to allow Republicans to stoke some grievances with their base. But wavering GOP senators such as Susan Collins and Jeff Flake would find some excuse to oppose his nomination and his nomination would be pulled. This scenario still seems like a distinct possibility — but the fact that the Kavanaugh story is developing so rapidly, with the stakes continuously increasing with every news cycle, could mean that McConnell is now pot-committed to the bluff even if he’d been hoping to keep his options open before.”
— Splinter (@splinter_news) September 25, 2018
Michael Avenatti said another woman with damning new allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh would reveal her identity and detail her claims when “we have adequate security measures in place,” CNBC reports.
But Avenatti also said that he expects his client to go public in advance of Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. She would be the third woman.
Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), who is running for Senate against Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), told Valley News Live suggested that the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are not disqualifying “even if it’s all true.”
Said Cramer: “Even if it’s all true, does it disqualify him? It certainly means that he did something really bad 36 years ago, but does it disqualify him from the Supreme Court?”
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) September 25, 2018
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said negotiators facing a self-imposed Sept. 30 deadline are “sort of running out of time” to include Canada in a new North American trade deal, the Washington Post reports.
If the remaining gaps cannot be bridged in the next few days, the administration will request congressional approval of a deal with Mexico only, he said.
Mazie Hirono was dead right about why believing Brett Kavanaugh is a suckers game, and conservatives have misinterpreted her because they can’t accept the basic point that he’s simply untrustworthy. https://t.co/J4VTh9gKX0
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) September 25, 2018
New York Times: “If Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination falls apart in the face of sexual misconduct accusations, Mr. Trump faces the very real possibility that he could lose his chance to put even his second choice in this seat, which holds the balance between conservative and liberal wings on the nation’s most important court.”
“Democrats need to pick up only two seats in the midterm elections six weeks from Tuesday to take control of the Senate, and their anger over the Republican refusal to even consider President Barack Obama’s last nominee for the Supreme Court in 2016 is unabated. If Democrats take charge, they could block any choice Mr. Trump sends up or at least force him to pick a candidate more to their liking.”
“That scenario helps explain why Mr. Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, are so determined to push through Judge Kavanaugh rather than replace him with a less damaged candidate.”
If Republicans sour on Kavanaugh, here are 4 alternatives waiting in the wings https://t.co/nM6bfiOd6S
— Vox (@voxdotcom) September 25, 2018
Ron Brownstein: “Converging crises are compounding the risk that Republicans could suffer historic 2018 losses in suburban communities that could harden a starkly polarized alignment in American politics.”
“Precisely as sexual abuse allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh threaten to deepen the GOP’s already cavernous deficit with well-educated white women, the chaos that erupted with Monday’s uncertainty about the fate of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appears likely to compound the concerns of independent voters who want Congress to provide more of a check on President Donald Trump.”
“Even before these developments, Republicans faced a perilous environment in white-collar suburbs rooted in discontent among college-educated white voters, especially women, over Trump’s tempestuous style, belligerent language and portions of his agenda.”
— The New Republic (@newrepublic) September 25, 2018
President Trump’s trade battles “are already triggering economic warnings — and rising danger for Republicans just ahead of the midterm elections,” Politico reports.
“As fresh U.S. tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports take effect Monday, surveys show consumers growing increasingly worried about higher prices this fall. Giant retailers such as Walmart are warning of price increases for manufactured goods. And smaller businesses in swing states and districts from Washington state to Iowa to Tennessee are complaining bitterly about big hits to their exports.”