HEADLINES: September 24, 2018
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Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has reached a deal with the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify this Thursday. Blasey Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her when they were both in high school. Her lawyers released a statement on Sunday saying, “Despite actual threats to her safety and her life, Dr. Ford believes it is important for senators to hear directly from her about the sexual assault committed against her.” According to the New York Times, “While several details — including whether Republicans will use an outside lawyer to question her — remain unsettled, a spokesman for the committee said its chairman, Senator [Chuck] Grassley … considers the negotiations over, and Dr. Blasey’s lawyers said the hearing would go on no matter how those details are resolved.”
Meanwhile two new allegations have been revealed implicating Kavanaugh. On Sunday The New Yorker published a report of a woman who says she was the target of sexual misconduct and assault by Kavanaugh at a party in the early 1980s when the judge was a freshman at Yale University. Fifty three year old Deborah Ramirez who also attended Yale alongside Kavanaugh recalls being at a party and that she, “remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself … thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away.” According to the report, “Ramirez is now calling for the F.B.I. to investigate Kavanaugh’s role in the incident.” The offices of at least four Democratic Senators have been contacted with this information. The White House released a statement saying that Kavanaugh denied the allegation and called it, “a smear, plain and simple.”
The New Yorker report also obtained statements from a woman named Elizabeth Rasor who was in a relationship with Mark Judge for 3 years. Judge is Kavanaugh’s friend and the other person that Blasey Ford says was in the room when Kavanaugh assaulted her. Mr. Judge has since denied any misdeeds during his high school years. But his ex-girlfriend Rasor, who was interviewed by the New Yorker, “recalled that Judge had told her ashamedly of an incident that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman. Rasor said that Judge seemed to regard it as fully consensual. She said that Judge did not name others involved in the incident, and she has no knowledge that Kavanaugh participated.”
Attorney Michael Avenatti who represents Stormy Daniels, late on Sunday posted a tweet saying, “I represent a woman with credible information regarding Judge Kavanaugh and Mark Judge. We will be demanding the opportunity to present testimony to the committee and will likewise be demanding that Judge and others be subpoenaed to testify. The nomination must be withdrawn.” He added in a second tweet that his client was not Ms. Ramirez. Then, in a third tweet he posted an email that he sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee saying, “We are aware of significant evidence of multiple house parties in the Washington D.C. area during the early 1990s during which Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge and others would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs in order to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them. There are multiple witnesses that will corroborate these facts and each of them must be called to testify publicly.”
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to ranking Republican Chuck Grassley late on Sunday after Deborah Ramirez’s story appeared, asking for, “an immediate postponement of any further proceedings related to the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.” On Monday morning President Trump said the accusations against Kavanaugh were “totally political,” and that he supported him, “all the way.” Activists supporting Dr. Blasey Ford have organized a national walkout on Monday between 1-2 pm urging people to, “wear black and walk out – of your home, your office, your classroom, wherever you are – and post a picture to your social media with the hashtag #BelieveSurvivors.”
In other news the New York Times reported over the weekend that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had last year considered secretly recording Trump, “to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit.” The Times story seems to have added fuel to the fire over Rosenstein’s continued presence in the Justice Department as the overseer of the Russia investigation implicating the President. According to Politico, “The West Wing and Trump’s top outside allies may be united in the belief that the president should fire his deputy attorney general, but they are deeply divided about the timing of the action and what the president’s stated cause for the firing should ultimately be.” Meanwhile on Monday morning the New York Times reported that Rosenstein was considering turning in his resignation.
Arizona Representative Paul Gosar is facing stiff opposition to his reelection – from multiple members of his immediate family. The House Republican currently represents Arizona’s 4th district. Six of his 9 siblings have spoken out against his reelection in political ads saying things like, “It would be difficult to see my brother as anything but a racist.” The incident is the latest in a series of family members denouncing their high-profile Republican relatives.
In immigration news, the Trump administration is moving ahead with a proposal to curb legal residency for those immigrants who would be eligible to obtain it but who have used public assistance in the past including Section 8 housing and food stamps. The new regulation was announced on the website of the Department of Homeland Security claiming it is merely about enforcing an existing law that, “Promotes Self-Sufficiency and Protect American Taxpayers.” A spokesperson of the National Immigration Law Center said, “This is an attack on immigrant families and an attempt to make our immigration system a pay-to-play system where only the wealthy need apply.”
In international news, nearly 30 people were killed in Iran on Friday at a military parade in the city of Ahvaz. The attack was apparently from gunmen dressed in military garb firing from a nearby park. Videos captured the scenes of chaos during the shooting. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denounced the violence and blamed, “US backed regimes in the region.” Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has warned of a “crushing response” to the attack.
In Britain, negotiations over Brexit – Britain’s exit from the European Union – are continuing along their rocky course. The nation’s Labor Party will conduct a vote this week to consider a new Brexit referendum if Prime Minister Theresa May cannot get her Brexit bill through Parliament. Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn says he supports a second referendum. The Brexit referendum surprised pollsters and the British electorate when a vote to leave the EU passed by a slim margin in 2016.
President Trump will address the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday. Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN said, “I am sure that’s going to be the most watched Security Council meeting ever.” Apparently Trump wants to use his pulpit in front of the 15-member gathering in New York to denounce Iran. According to Haley, “We want to make sure (Iran) understands the world is watching. That’s the biggest reason for this meeting.”
Meanwhile the United Nations General Assembly is hoping to focus on a global existential threat – climate change. According to the Associated Press, “in between discussing how to tackle wars, poverty and deadly diseases around the world, leaders will be devoting substantial time in New York this week to the question of global warming and how to rein it in.”