News & Analysis of Economic, Racial, Gender Justice and More

President Trump visited the storm-ravaged state of North Carolina on Wednesday and assisted with displaced people at a church in New Bern, serving them food. He spoke to press during his visit. Reporters that are part of the White House pool are relaying that during a briefing Trump inquired about an area affected by Hurricane Florence called Lake Norman. He apparently said, “How is Lake Norman doing?” and when he was told it was fine he said, “I love that area. I can’t tell you why, but I love that area.” Lake Norman is home to one of Trump’s golf clubs. A New York Times reporter also cited that Trump made a joke to one resident whose backyard had a yacht washed up on it, saying, “At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.”

Later in the day Trump posted a taped video of himself in front of the White House making rambling observations about the hurricane.

The death toll from Hurricane Florence has now jumped to 37, and two of those deaths took place when police were transporting mental health patients in a van in South Carolina that was overwhelmed by floodwaters. Water contamination is also a major problem now after 5 million gallons of partially treated sewage mixed in with river water.

In other news, Senate Judiciary Committee leader Chuck Grassley has given Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser Christine Blasey Ford a deadline of 10 am this Friday to respond to his request that she appear at a committee hearing on Monday. Dr. Ford has said that she wants a full investigation before appearing in front of Senators but Republicans have so far refused. One of Ford’s attorneys said that she, “continues to believe that a full non-partisan investigation of this matter is needed and she is willing to cooperate with the Committee… However, the Committee’s stated plan to move forward with a hearing that has only two witnesses is not a fair or good faith investigation; there are multiple witnesses whose names have appeared publicly and should be included in any proceeding.”

Grassley also requested in writing that Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein provide him with an un-redacted version of the letter that Ford had sent lawmakers earlier this summer about her experience of sexual assault at Kavanaugh’s hands.

A letter bearing the names of hundreds of women who are graduates of Holton-Arms School which Ford attended, has now emerged, supporting her and backing her claims. The letter can be found at http://www.standwithblaseyford.com. According to Associated Press, “One of the signers, Cristina King Miranda, tweeted Wednesday that the alleged attack ‘was spoken about for days afterward in school’ and that Kavanaugh ‘should stop lying.’ But in a Facebook post hours later, she said she had no firsthand knowledge of the matter and wouldn’t comment further amid a media ‘circus’ and a barrage of interview requests.”

In other news related to Kavnaugh, a Reuters-Ipsos poll has found that 36% of Americans now oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation, up several points from before and a historic low for any Supreme Court nominee. Thirty one percent support Kavanaugh. And, six Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are now suing the National Archive and the CIA over their refusal to release all of Kavanaugh’s documents.

President Trump once more slammed his Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday. First in an interview on Hill.TV he said, “I don’t have an attorney general.” He expanded on that saying that he was, “so sad over Jeff Sessions,” because Sessions recused himself very early on from the Justice Department’s probe into allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. He also maligned Sessions’ confirmation hearing performance saying, “He was the first senator that endorsed me. And he wanted to be attorney general, and I didn’t see it. And then he went through the nominating process and he did very poorly. I mean, he was mixed up and confused, and people that worked with him for, you know, a long time in the Senate were not nice to him, but he was giving very confusing answers. Answers that should have been easily answered.” Later in another interview outside the White House to reporters Trump walked back his sentiments a little bit saying, “I’m disappointed in the Attorney General for numerous reasons. But we have an attorney general.”

Meanwhile Mr. Sessions gave a speech on Wednesday during which he pointed to a consent decree intended to reform the Baltimore Police Department as being responsible for rising crime rates in the city. Sessions said that Baltimore was, “one of the most tragic examples” of how consent decrees hamper efforts to maintain law and order. He erroneously blamed the ACLU for the consent decree when it was in fact his own Justice Department that ordered the police reforms. A federal judge signed the decree a few months before Sessions was appointed. In the same speech, Sessions added, “Colossal mistakes have been made by politicians and leaders that have had particular catastrophic consequences for the people of cities like Chicago, Baltimore, and St. Louis.”

Also on Wednesday Mr. Sessions issued new restrictions on the power of immigration judges to dismiss deportation cases. Unlike other types of judicial cases, immigration ones fall under the authority of the Justice Department and Attorney General Sessions has been more involved than most of his predecessors in this area. According to Reuters, “Sessions said judges can only terminate or dismiss cases in ‘specific and circumscribed’ circumstances. Judges ‘have no inherent authority to terminate removal proceedings even though a particular case may pose sympathetic circumstances.'”

Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn has received a sentencing date of December 18, well over a year after he pled guilty to charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. There have apparently been numerous delays in his case and the extent of Flynn’s cooperation with the Special Counsel is not yet known.

President Trump has admitted that his recent decision to release classified information relating to the FBI investigation of the Russia issue was influenced by Fox News. During his interview with the Hill he cited several Fox figures as helping him decide on the release: “I have been asked by so many people that I respect, please — the great Lou Dobbs, the great Sean Hannity, the wonderful great Jeanine Pirro.”

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released a new study that found 30 millions Americans are suffering from diabetes. That’s 14% of the US population. Men are impacted more than women with 16% of men having diabetes compared to 12% of women. Diabetes also impacts Latinos and African Americans more than whites.

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