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

A third named woman has come forward with shocking accusations of sexual assault and misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Attorney Michael Avenatti, who had warned in recent days that he represented a woman with detailed knowledge of Kavanaugh’s behavior in high school, made her identity public on his Twitter feed on Wednesday. Julie Swetnick says she attended numerous house parties in the 1980s in the Washington DC area where Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were present. She describes them as so close that they were, “joined at the hip.” Here is part of her letter where she made public what she saw and what happened to her:

“I also witnessed efforts by Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh and others to cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be ‘gang raped’ in a side room or bedroom by a “train” of numerous boys. I have a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room. These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh.”

Swetnick then said, “In approximately 1982, I became the victim of one of these ‘gang’ or ‘train’ rapes where Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh were present…. During the incident, I was incapacitated without my consent and unable to fight off the boys raping me. I believe I was drugged using Quaaludes or something similar placed in what I was drinking.” It is as yet unclear whether Swetnick’s testimony will derail Kavanaugh’s confirmation. She joins Deborah Ramirez and Christine Blasey Ford as publicly named accusers against Kavanaugh.

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans have hired a female attorney to question Dr. Christine Blasey Ford during her Judiciary Committee testimony on Thursday, despite requests by Democrats to not do so. Republicans are worried about the appearance of a large number of men ganging up on a female accuser in front of a national audience. The New York Times revealed that the questioner will be Rachel Mitchell, the chief of the Special Victims Division of the Maricopa County attorney’s office in Arizona. Dr. Blasey Ford’s attorneys said earlier this week that they were awaiting more details from Senator Chuck Grassley, the lead Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, about her specific requests to the committee. According to Politico, “Heeding Ford’s desire to avoid a ‘circus-like environment,’ Grassley said, he has agreed to limit the press presence in the hearing room and give her security protection through the Capitol Police.”

On Wednesday morning Blasey Ford’s lawyers said that have submitted four testimonies in the form of sworn affidavits from witnesses who knew of Kavanaugh’s alleged assault well before he was announced as a Supreme Court nominee. The affidavits throw Kavanaugh’s confirmation into further doubt, and Republicans are worried the entire process will further alienate women from their party for the midterm elections.

A group calling itself the Mormon Women for Ethical Government has now begun urging four Mormon members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to postpone the Kavanaugh confirmation pending an investigation. The four members are Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee of Utah, Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Mike Crapo of Idaho. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski now appears to be wavering in her resolve to affirm Kavanaugh in a full Senate vote. She said in a recent interview, “We are now in a place where it’s not about whether or not Judge Kavanaugh is qualified. It is about whether or not a woman who has been a victim at some point in her life is to be believed.”

On Tuesday a video emerged of a handful of activists confronting Texas Senator Ted Cruz at an upscale restaurant in Washington DC over his friendship with Kavanaugh. The activists chanted, “We believe survivors” at Cruz and his wife until they left.  Some of the activists were sexual assault survivors themselves. Cruz is apparently old friends with Kavanaugh. Because he sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee he will be among the 21 Republicans who will host Thursday’s hearing. Cruz faces a strong Democratic challenger named Beto O’Rourke in his Senate race this November.

Famed actor Bill Cosby has been sentenced to 3-10 years in prison on Tuesday for the crimes of drugging and raping a woman named Andrea Constand. Although he requested to be free on bail while his appeals made their way through courts, the judge declined the request and the 81-year old TV personality was led away in handcuffs soon after the sentence was announced. The judge in the case had declared Cosby a “violent sexual predator” which means he will remain a registered sex offender for the rest of his life. Cosby spokesperson Andrew Wyatt denounced the handling of the case saying it was the, “most racist and sexist trial in the history of the United States.” Cosby faced accusations from about 60 women who say he raped or assaulted them in some way. Later on today’s show we’ll turn to Lisa Bloom who represents one of Cosby’s accusers. She’ll analyze the case and also draw links with the accusations facing Brett Kavanaugh.

Minnesota’s Democratic Party says it is nearing completion of an investigation into allegations of abuse by Representative Keith Ellison. The progressive Democrat, who was touted as part of the Democratic Party’s bold new leadership faces accusations from a former partner of violent abuse. Reporting on the story Associated Press wrote, “Karen Monahan said Ellison once dragged her off a bed by her feet while screaming obscenities. She claims to have video footage of the 2016 incident but has refused to release it, saying it’s embarrassing.” The investigation was launched after Ellison won his primary race earlier this year. He faces reelection in November.

President Trump elicited laughter at the United Nations headquarters on Tuesday when he began his speech making wild claims about his impact on the US.  News media are saying he went off script during his boastful opening. The speech was more of a state of the union address to an international audience rather than the expected words of global cooperation and diplomacy.

Later in his speech Trump attacked Iran, which UN ambassador Nikki Haley had earlier said was to be the main focus of his appearance. After he spoke, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took to the microphone and accused the US of waging “economic war” against Iran through sanctions.  Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday following Trump’s antagonistic speech.

Zimbabwe’s new leader Emmerson Mnangagwa made his first trip to the United Nations as President. He told press that ahead of the UN meeting he met with New York investors and revealed that earlier this year he had met with Donald Trump’s business staff to offer land on which Trump could build a golf course. The US has had sanctions on Zimbabwe for years since Robert Mugabe’s regime. An offer of a quid pro quo such the one that Mnangwa revealed is highly unethical.

You’ve successfully subscribed to Rising Up With Sonali
Welcome back! You’ve successfully signed in.
Great! You’ve successfully signed up.
Success! Your email is updated.
Your link has expired
Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.