Headlines: October 5, 2018
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UPDATED: Republican Senators forced a procedural vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Friday, saying that they were satisfied with the results of a cursory FBI probe into allegations of sexual assault against him. The vote took place 51 to 49 with Democrat Joe Manchin voting with Republicans. Republican Lisa Murkowski voted no on the procedural vote. Senator Jeff Flake who had been wavering now says he will vote for Kavanaugh in the full vote, which is expected to take place on Saturday.
Perhaps hoping to defuse the criticism over his lack of appropriate temperament, Kavanaugh penned his own op-ed in the Wall Street Journal late on Thursday saying that he might have been, “too emotional” in his testimony last week. The Journal has strongly defended Kavanaugh, publishing mostly positive coverage of his candidacy for weeks. In his late-breaking op-ed, Kavanaugh wrote, “I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said.” He repeatedly assured readers that he would be an independent and impartial Supreme Court justice and a “team player.”
But many Americans think otherwise. More than 2,000 lawyers have signed onto a letter saying that Kavanaugh is not fit for the court. One signatory said Kavanaugh’s behavior, “was not what we should expect of a Supreme Court Justice. Telling obvious lies about his background, yelling at senators, refusing to answer questions, and blaming his troubles on others is not appropriate behavior.” Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens also does not think Kavanaugh is qualified. He had initially thought of Kavanaugh as suited to the court but then said recently, “His performance in the hearings changed my mind.” The New York Times editorial board published a lengthy and profound op-ed on Friday urging the Senate to vote against Kavanaugh for similar reasons.
Hundreds of people took over the Hart Senate building on Thursday after Republican Senators claimed that Kavanaugh was absolved of the allegations made against him. Hundreds of mostly women taking over the Hart Senate building on Thursday in Washington DC in protest of Kavanaugh. A number of women remained seated in the atrium and refused to move and were eventually arrested by the Capitol police. Among those arrested were actors Amy Schumer and Emily Ratajkowski. Amy Schumer is one of many hundreds and possibly thousands of women who have been continuously gathering at the Senate Hart building over the course of the Kavanaugh confirmation scandal. On Thursday marches took place all over the country including in Los Angeles where this program is produced.
In Maine, protesters gathered in front of Republican Senator Susan Collins’ office urging her, as they have done for days, to vote down Kavanaugh’s confirmation. But on Thursday Collins said that although she hadn’t finished reading the report from the narrow and secretive FBI probe, that in her opinion, “It appears to be a very thorough investigation.” This, despite widespread criticism that the probe was anything but thorough. Hundreds of current and former law clerks for state and federal judges also sent Collins a letter saying that she should not confirm Kavanaugh. They explained in the letter that Kavnaugh, “explicitly and repeatedly revealed blatant partisanship … he behaved with inappropriate and open hostility to the [committee]…His volatile behavior calls into serious question his ability to approach cases before him with fairness and neutrality.” It is not yet clear if Collins will vote to confirm Kavanaugh and has said she will announce her decision in a press conference on Friday afternoon.
Another GOP Senator who has made it very clear that he would support Kavanaugh no matter what – Orrin Hatch – was confronted by protesters as he attempted to board an elevator. He told them to “grow up.” Protesters confronted Senator Orrin Hatch over his support of Kavanaugh at the Senate Hart building on Thursday.
Doug Jones, the junior Senator from Alabama said on Thursday afternoon that pro-Kavanaugh supporters had been threatening some female staffers in his office. The Democrat said, “The hate and ugliness I have witnessed is unprecedented.” He added, “I’ve even had callers telling the young women who’ve answered my phones that they hope they are sexually assaulted.”
In other news, thousands of hotel workers at the Marriott hotel chain walked off their jobs on Thursday in San Francisco in a show of force over their labor rights. The workers are on strike for higher wages, safety in the workplace, and job security among other things. The striking workers are members of Unite HERE and numbered at about 2,500 from 7 different hotels. They picketed in downtown San Francisco demanding that Marriott negotiate their contract in good faith. A Unite HERE spokesperson spoke to press at a picket line in downtown San Francisco where 2,500 workers are on strike during the busy convention season.
In the wake of the bombshell New York Times investigation into Trump’s tax dodging, news reports are speculating that the President could face civil charges resulting in millions of dollars in fines. The city of New York and the New York State Tax Department have both reportedly been studying the report and are considering next steps. According to Time magazine, “Civil fraud charges for intentionally underpaying taxes, as the Times alleged the Trump family did, could include a penalty of up to 75% of the unpaid federal taxes and double the unpaid state amount.”
Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday gave a speech in Washington DC where he took aim at China, echoing some of the language that President Trump used last week during his UN speech. Much of what he said sounded similar to the accusations made by Democrats against Russian interference to help Trump win the election. Vice President Mike Pence warned about China’s interference in US elections. Just two days earlier Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said at a conference, “We currently have no indication that a foreign adversary intends to disrupt our election infrastructure.”