HEADLINES: September 25, 2018
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128 people were arrested on Capitol Hill on Monday protesting the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. The nominee now faces accusations from multiple women of sexual assault including Palo Alto University professor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and former Yale University student Deborah Ramirez. The mostly female protesters chanted, “We believe women,” as they were handcuffed by police. The protests were part of a national call to walk out on Monday in support of Kavanaugh’s accusers. Across the nation people posted photos of themselves wearing black and carrying signs saying #BelieveWomen. Celebrities such as Kerry Washington, America Ferrera, and Debra Messing also participated.
Among those gathered in Washington DC was one woman who took the train from Boston and told her personal story of surviving rape while protesters and on-lookers listened. A warning for listeners, especially survivors of sexual assault that this clip could be triggering.
Students at Kavanaugh’s alma mater, Yale Law School also organized dramatic protests on Monday. Hundreds of law students wore black and walked out of their classrooms, forcing the university to cancel more than 30 classes. A third-year law student named Dana Bolger read a statement saying, “The Senate’s treatment of our own alumna Anita Hill more than two decades ago sent a crystal-clear message to women and to all people who have experienced sexual violence: We don’t care about you. We demand that the Senate not repeat this same shameful mistake again. We state unequivocally that we believe and stand with Professor Blasey Ford and Debbie Ramirez.” More than a hundred Yale students also joined protesters in DC.
Meanwhile Kavanaugh himself has gone on the offensive and gave an interview to Fox News with his wife sitting next to him – the first time a Supreme Court nominee has ever given an interview to the press ahead of confirmation. He told the outlet that he refused to back down. Brett Kavanaugh’s interview on Fox News on Monday is an unprecedented move for a Supreme Court nominee ahead of confirmation. After today’s news headlines we’ll continue our coverage of the Kavanaugh hearings with an in-depth interview featuring Jessica Mason-Pieklo of Rewire.News.
In other news Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appears to have preserved his job for the time being, amid rumors that President Trump was going to fire him and reports that he was going to offer his resignation. This latest chaotic chapter in the Russia investigation was sparked by an earlier New York Times report about Rosenstein mulling the idea of secretly taping the President and then invoking the 25th Amendment to make the case of Trump being unfit for the Presidency. For now though Trump has allowed Rosenstein to remain in his position and scheduled a meeting between the two at the White House for Thursday – the same day as Dr. Blasey Ford testifies in the Kavanaugh hearings.
A former Watergate Prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks said on CBS on Monday that, “If [Rosenstein] is fired it could look like it is a part of the obstruction of justice that continues.” She added, referencing the Nixon-era series of events, “It could look exactly like the ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ taking place over a protracted period of time.” In other words, Trump would likely fill Rosenstein’s position with someone who would do his bidding in ending the Special Counsel’s investigation and firing Robert Mueller.
According to CNN, if Rosenstein leaves, the oversight of the Russia investigation at the Justice Department would fall to solicitor general Noel Francisco. Mr. Francisco, “has defended the Trump administration’s positions before the Supreme Court,” and “he has a history of defending the authority of the executive branch, including when it comes to the ability to remove certain appointees, which is sure to be scrutinized if he were to take over the closely watched probe that has already brought down allies of the President.” Democrats have urged the GOP leadership to protect Mueller’s position if Rosenstein were to be fired.
Meanwhile Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be meeting state attorneys general on Tuesday to discuss potential enforcement of antitrust laws aimed at large tech companies like Google and Facebook. The meeting comes a few days after Business Insider obtained a leaked memo from the White House of a proposed executive order to investigate whether companies like Facebook had violated anti-trust laws. The moves are all seen as part of a broader crackdown on tech companies by the Trump administration after Trump publicly claimed they were biased against right wing sources and ideology.
The state of California on Monday urged the Trump administration to not implement its plan to weaken gas mileage standards for vehicles. State authorities said the rollback would hurt both people’s bottom line, and exacerbate climate change. State Attorney General Xavier Becerra said, “Stopping us from protecting our people, our jobs and economy or our planet is like trying to stop a mother from protecting her child.”
In international news, President Trump spoke at the United Nations on Tuesday, focusing specifically on Iran. He made it clear ahead of the gathering that he would not be meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Meanwhile, the nations that are party to Iran’s nuclear deal brokered by the Obama Administration reaffirmed their commitment on Monday, albeit without the US. The Trump administration withdrew from the deal leaving the US’s European allies worried about the future of the carefully crafted agreement. Once new US sanctions kick in, it might be impossible for anyone to preserve the agreement.
And finally, the US State Department released its report on the Myanmar government’s rampant abuse and killings of Rohingya Muslims. The report was missing two key phrases: “genocide,” and “crimes against humanity,” both of which carry legal weight. According to Politico, “The department posted its report online, but it did not issue a news release or hold a public rollout of any kind to unveil its findings.” Activists have been waiting for the report’s results for months, hoping it would signal the start of US pressure against Myanmar’s government.