Tuesday Reads: Kavanaugh Will Not Be Confirmed (IMHO)

Brett and Ashley Kavanaugh on Fox News last night

Good Morning!!

I said a few days ago that I didn’t believe Brett Kavanaugh would be confirmed to the Supreme Court. I’m even more sure of that now. It’s looking like the Republicans don’t have the votes as of now, and each days that goes by more ugly information comes out about Trump’s nominee.

Politico: GOP support for Kavanaugh wavers.

Senate Republicans have gone from confidently predicting the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to a new message: It all comes down to Thursday.

The GOP is staking Kavanaugh’s prospects to his hearing later this week, when he and Christine Blasey Ford will testify publicly about her allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school more than 30 years ago. It’s a shift that puts some of the onus on Kavanaugh to convince a growing number of wary senators whether his word is more credible than hers in the battle over the high court seat.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is warning his colleagues publicly and privately that his plan is to hold a floor vote on Kavanaugh no matter what happens in the Judiciary Committee, possibly as soon as early next week. Though Kavanaugh currently lacks the votes to be confirmed, the GOP leader is signaling that he will hold the vote anyway to force all 100 senators to go on record and put maximum pressure on red state Democrats that the GOP is hoping to defeat this fall, Republican senators said.

Whether that vote will be successful remains in doubt, the senators said.

That’s quite a shift. And more information could very well come out. Even a Yale professor who strongly supported Kavanaugh’s nomination is now having second doubts. The Yale Daily News: Second thoughts on Kavanaugh, by Akhil Amar.

Akhil Amar

Minutes after President Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh ’87 LAW ’90 to the Supreme Court, I published a controversial op-ed in The New York Times endorsing the nomination. I later testified in support of Kavanaugh on the final day of his confirmation hearings.  I still stand by what I have said about Kavanaugh’s uniquely impressive judicial and scholarly record over the last dozen years. But now that serious accusations have arisen about his conduct in his teenage years, I believe that these accusations deserve the best and most professional investigation possible — even if that means a brief additional delay on the ultimate vote on Judge Kavanaugh, and even if that investigatory delay imperils his confirmation.

As agonizing as this delay might be for all concerned, in the long run this additional investigation is the best way forward, not just for the Court and the country and Kavanaugh’s accusers, but also for Kavanaugh himself. If the investigation’s facts and findings support him, then he will join the Court in the sunshine and not under a cloud. If instead the investigation uncovers compelling evidence against him, President Trump should be ready with a pre-announced back-up nominee.

Read the rest at the link.

I don’t know whether to buy into Michael Avenatti’s claims about a woman he represents or not. I really don’t like the way he’s hyping whatever he knows on Twitter and in TV appearances instead of having the woman and her other witnesses talk to someone in the media. The Daily Beast:

On Sunday evening, just as The New Yorker revealed the identity of a second woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, attorney Michael Avenatti announced that he, too, had “credible information” about Kavanaugh and his high-school friend Mark Judge.

Michael Avenatti interviewed by Rachel Maddow last night

The media-savvy lawyer told The Daily Beast on Monday that his client would be coming forward “in the next 48 hours” with details and accusations that mirrored those already leveled and could, in his estimation, torpedo Kavanaugh’s confirmation—all of which would seem helpful for Democrats as they make the case that Kavanaugh is morally unfit to sit on the Supreme Court….

Avenatti, who has flirted with a 2020 presidential bid, has so far revealed only some information about the allegations he is set to bring forward. He has yet to provide evidence or identify the woman he is representing, only teasing that he may do so via a television interview before Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford—who has accused the federal judge of sexual assault—appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Still, Rachel Maddow thought it was worth having Avenatti on her show last night, so I’ll reserve judgement until  I see what he reveals tomorrow.

Based on watching his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee and what I’ve seen of his Fox News interview last night, I have to say that Kavanaugh is a completely unimpressive person. I have to wonder if he would have gotten as far in his career as he has if he had not been dialed into the right wing anti-Clinton forces back in the 1990s.

Last night on Fox News, Kavanaugh came across as weird–wearing heavy pancake makeup, repeating the same talking points over and over, and seeming almost whiny about what he’s going through. Some clips from Aaron Rupar’s Twitter feed:

Kavanaugh repeatedly claimed that he always treated women with respect, but that claim was destroyed by a disgusting report in The New York Times last night: Kavanaugh’s Yearbook Page Is ‘Horrible, Hurtful’ to a Woman It Named.

Brett Kavanaugh’s page in his high school yearbook offers a glimpse of the teenage years of the man who is now President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee: lots of football, plenty of drinking, parties at the beach. Among the reminiscences about sports and booze is a mysterious entry: “Renate Alumnius.”

The word “Renate” appears at least 14 times in Georgetown Preparatory School’s 1983 yearbook, on individuals’ pages and in a group photo of nine football players, including Judge Kavanaugh, who were described as the “Renate Alumni.” It is a reference to Renate Schroeder, then a student at a nearby Catholic girls’ school.

Two of Judge Kavanaugh’s classmates say the mentions of Renate were part of the football players’ unsubstantiated boasting about their conquests.

“They were very disrespectful, at least verbally, with Renate,” said Sean Hagan, a Georgetown Prep student at the time, referring to Judge Kavanaugh and his teammates. “I can’t express how disgusted I am with them, then and now.”

The woman who was the butt of these sickening “jokes” never knew about it until recently.

This month, Renate Schroeder Dolphin joined 64 other women who, saying they knew Judge Kavanaugh during their high school years, signed a letter to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is weighing Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. The letter stated that “he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect.”

When Ms. Dolphin signed the Sept. 14 letter, she wasn’t aware of the “Renate” yearbook references on the pages of Judge Kavanaugh and his football teammates.

“I learned about these yearbook pages only a few days ago,” Ms. Dolphin said in a statement to The New York Times. “I don’t know what ‘Renate Alumnus’ actually means. I can’t begin to comprehend what goes through the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue. I pray their daughters are never treated this way. I will have no further comment.”

Brett Kavanaugh is on the right

Obviously, Kavanaugh was not respectful to women when he was in high school and he isn’t now based on his judicial opposition women’s bodily autonomy. Read more about the yearbook page vs. the Fox News interview in this piece by James Hohman at The Washington Post: The Daily 202: Kavanaugh’s memory of himself in high school is very different than his portrayal in the yearbook.

Last night, a man who was Kavanaugh’s roommate during his freshman year at Yale came forward, speaking to ABC News in San Mateo, CA: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s Yale roommate says he believes second accuser.

James Roche says he was Kavanaugh’s roommate in the Fall of 1983.

“We shared a two-bedroom unit in the basement of Lawrence Hall on the Old Campus. Despite our living conditions, Brett and I did not socialize beyond the first few days of freshman year. We talked at night as freshman roommates do and I would see him as he returned from nights out with his friends,” Roche said in a statement….

“It is from this experience that I concluded that although Brett was normally reserved, he was a notably heavy drinker, even by the standards of the time, and that he became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk. I did not observe the specific incident in question, but I do remember Brett frequently drinking excessively and becoming incoherently drunk.”

Roche says he became friends with Debbie Ramirez. “She stood out as being exceptionally honest, with a trusting manner. As we got to know one another, I discovered that Debbie was very worried about fitting in. She felt that everyone at Yale was very rich, very smart and very sophisticated and that as a Puerto Rican woman from a less privileged background she was an outsider. Her response was to try hard to make friends and get along.”

Deborah Ramirez is the woman who accused Kavanaugh of exposing his penis and waving in her face during a drinking game. In case you haven’t read it yet, here’s the article in The New Yorker by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer published on Sunday: Senate Democrats Investigate a New Allegation of Sexual Misconduct, from Brett Kavanaugh’s College Years.

In his Fox News interview, Kavanaugh claimed this couldn’t possibly have happened because it would have been the talk of the campus. But according to the article, students were talking about it then and are still doing so now.

Kavanaugh also claimed in the interview that he never had intercourse in high school and for years afterward. But of course he hasn’t been charged with that and there are many ways to sexually assault someone without vaginal penetration. Yuck I can hardly believe he said that on TV. So embarrassing for him and his wife!

Now people have come forward to say either that’s not true or he lied to them.

Kantrowitz is a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin and an award-winning author.

I guess that’s it for me today. I really think Kavanaugh’s nomination will be withdrawn before the scheduled Thursday hearing. If it isn’t, the Republicans are going to look even worse than they do now.

I know there’s lots more happening in the news. What stories are you following?

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Lazy Caturday Reads: Senate Dotards Determined to Put Attempted Rapist on Supreme Court

Reading a book, watched by a cat, by David Brooke

Good Morning!!

Everything is so surreal in the U.S. today that I feel as if I’m living in a Salvador Dali painting. I don’t even know how to begin to write about what’s happening right now. If you watched Rachel last night, you know that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s attorney responded to 85-year-old dotard Chuck Grassley’s nasty message threatening to hold a vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination until Ford agreed to testify before his committee on Wednesday–a day before she said it was possible to do so.

Slate: Christine Blasey Ford’s Lawyer Issues Scathing Letter in Response to Judiciary Committee’s Deadlines.

The Senate Judiciary Committee tried to initiate a Friday night game of chicken with attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. The committee had issued a 10 p.m. ultimatum for Ford to agree to testify by Wednesday, stating that the vote to confirm Kavanaugh would proceed on Monday without her agreement. Ford’s lawyers did not bite.

Ford’s attorney Debra S. Katz responded to the ultimatum with a strongly-worded letter decrying the “aggressive and artificial deadlines” as an attempt “to bully Dr. Ford.” Katz explains that Ford had “traveled to meet with the FBI for several hours about the death threats she had been receiving,” and that her legal team requested time “to be able to provide you with a well-considered response.”

“Your cavalier treatment of a sexual assault survivor,” Katz writes, “is completely inappropriate.”

Read the entire letter and read about Grassley’s threats at the link. Hours later Grassley sent a tweet that read as if it were intended to be an email or text message:

Followed by this one:

Historian Michael Cohen posted this in response to the first one:

Followed by this from Frank Rich:

Seriously, why is an 85-year-old man still in the Senate? We need age limits.

I think this piece at Deadspin provides a very good explanation for the behavior of all the right wing white men who are having tantrums over Kavanaugh when they could easily withdraw his name and have Trump appoint someone who didn’t try to rape a 15 year-old-girl when he was in high school–maybe someone who didn’t work in the Bush White House on torture and who wasn’t involved in stealing Democratic emails, and who hasn’t lied repeatedly to Congress.

Brett Kavanaugh is a Man the Right Can Get Behind, by Albert Burneko

By Rita Cavallari

Shit’s real weird now.

A thing it took, like, the New York Times and Washington Post and CNN and so forth maybe a little too long to figure out, back during the 2016 campaigns, a lapse that has launched innumerable blinkered Cletus Safaris in search of some other, less chillingly sociopathic answer in the aftermath of that hell-moment, is this: What the American right wants, what it’s after, isn’t some abstract pluralist success, like the smooth functioning of government and/or the material improvement of American life. It wants, only and entirely, to defeat its opponents. Those aren’t quite the same thing. The Republican party would not choose the former if it could be accomplished without the latter.

An example: Any number of grub-like Yale jurist-ghouls with diamond-edged ‘80s-dad hair and uniformly right-wing ideas about constitutional law could get confirmed to fill the Supreme Court’s vacant ninth seat, and once in that seat could be counted upon to plagiarize Anton Chigurh dialog into incumbent legal precedence for the next three decades. The earth contains no shortage of these. And so, in the aftermath of the discovery that Brett Kavanaugh, the one Donald Trump happened to nominate for the gig, quite likely attempted to rape a 15-year-old girl in the summer of 1982 (and, perhaps less important though no less relevant, almost certainly lied to the Senate about the use of stolen materials to aid George W. Bush’s judicial nominees) and has been living comfortably with this fact about himself for the ensuing 36 years, it should be easy enough to withdraw his nomination and move along to the next crypto-Nazi cottage cheese sculpture in the pipeline. He’d breeze through confirmation, whoever he was: You could pretty much count on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s terminally third-brained centrist Democrats lining up to play themselves. And that would be a success, theoretically: A new, arch-conservative Supreme Court justice, possibly even one not tainted by a credible accusation that he once tried to rape a child.

by Sonya Grassmann

But that would not be enough. It has to be this guy. It has to be this guy now more than ever. It has to be this guy, now, because he has been accused, credibly, of attempting to rape a 15-year-old girl in 1982—moreover because people believe this should be considered a disqualifying blight on his record. The thing that must happen is that those people must be defeated. That is the whole point. What must be shown to the whole world is that this, even this, cannot stop him. The bigger the outrage that can be brushed aside, the more thorough the defeat for the people who thought something, anything, might take precedence over this white man being the pick of another white man.

A bit more:

It’s a bit late for anyone not to have figured this out yet, but the skeleton key to understanding American conservatism is this: At bottom, it lacks absolutely any moral or ideological underpinning beyond the reactionary protection of moneyed white men—of their station, their wealth and power, and their egos. Its supposed ideas and abstractions are just a framework for spasmodic lashing-out against anything that can be interpreted as a threat to rich white dudes. It likes supply-side economics because the supply side is made of rich white dudes. It likes tax cuts because the taxes are mostly cut for rich white dudes. It likes cops and soldiers because cops and soldiers uphold a social order with rich white dudes at the top. It likes “traditional family values” because social, economic, and sexual dominion over women are the most traditional family values of all. It likes “Make America Great Again” because rich white dudes used to roll through society and over everyone else with even greater impunity than they do now. All of these things are just proxies for reiterating, over and over and over, forever, the power and security and primacy of rich white dudes.

There’s much more at the link. I hope you read all of it.

The Girl with the Book. Otar Imerlishvili (Georgia, 1970-)

As we all know, there actually was a witness to the rape attempt, Kavanaugh’s high school buddy Mark Judge; but the Judiciary Committee dotards are determined that he will not testify. And here’s why:

The Washington Post: ‘100 Kegs or Bust’: Kavanaugh friend, Mark Judge, has spent years writing about high school debauchery.

A review of books, articles and blog posts by Judge — a freelance writer who has shifted among jobs at a record store, substitute teaching, housesitting and most recently at a liquor store — describes an ’80s private-school party scene in which heavy drinking and sexual encounters were standard fare.

Judge wrote about the pledge he and his friends at the all-male school on Rockville Pike in North Bethesda, Md., made to drink 100 kegs of beer before graduation. On their way to that goal, there was a “disastrous” party “at my house where the place was trashed,” Judge wrote in his book “God and Man at Georgetown Prep.” Kavanaugh listed himself in the class yearbook as treasurer of the “100 Kegs or Bust” club.

“I’ll be the first one to defend guys being guys,” Judge wrote in a 2015 article on the website Acculturated. He described a party culture of “drinking and smoking and hooking up.” During senior year, Judge said he and his pals hired a stripper and bought a keg for a bachelor party they threw to honor their school’s music teacher.

“I drank too much and did stupid things,” he said in his memoir.

By Wlad Safronov

“Most of the time everyone, including the girls, was drunk,” Judge wrote in “Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk,” a memoir of his alcoholism and recovery. “If you could breathe and walk at the same time, you could hook up with someone. This did not mean going all the way . . . but after a year spent in school without girls, heavy petting was basically an orgy.”

While many of his classmates moved on to careers in law, politics, business and education, Judge seemed to some friends to stay fixed in the experiences of his adolescence. Over time, his politics shifted from left to right, and his writing often focused on his view of masculinity (“the wonderful beauty of uncontrollable male passion”) and his concern that gay culture was corroding traditional values.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

Another take from The Intercept’s Peter Maas: Mark Judge’s Memoir about Kavanaugh’s High School Portrays a Culture of Aggression and Excessive Drinking. I won’t quote from it, but there are lots of excerpts from the book that are relevant to why Grassley wants to keep Judge very far away from his Committee hearing.

And then there’s another of Kavanaugh’s close friends, Ed Whelan–the man behind the swiftboating of John Kerry–and his doppleganger theory.

Politico: PR firm helped Whelan stoke half-baked Kavanaugh alibi.

It turns out that the Keystone Cops detective work by conservative legal activist Ed Whelan — which set Washington abuzz with the promise of exonerating Brett Kavanaugh, only to be met by mockery and then partially retracted — was not his handiwork alone.

Woman with a Cat – Tatyana Gorshunova

CRC Public Relations, the prominent Alexandria, Virginia-based P.R. firm, guided Whelan through his roller-coaster week of Twitter pronouncements that ended in embarrassment and a potential setback for Kavanaugh’s hopes of landing on the high court, according to three sources familiar with their dealings.

After suggesting on Twitter on Tuesday that he had obtained information that would exculpate Kavanaugh from the sexual assault allegation made by Christine Blasey Ford, Whelan worked over the next 48 hours with CRC and its president, Greg Mueller, to stoke the anticipation. A longtime friend of Kavanaugh’s, Whelan teased his reveal — even as he refused to discuss it with other colleagues and close friends, a half dozen of them said. At the same time, he told them he was absolutely confident the information he had obtained would exculpate the judge.

The hype ping-ponged from Republicans on Capitol Hill to Kavanaugh’s team in the White House, evidence of an extraordinarily successful public relations campaign that ultimately backfired when Whelan’s theory — complete with architectural drawings and an alleged Kavanaugh doppelgänger — landed with a thud on Twitter Thursday evening.

Read the tick tock at the link. Politico claims the White House wasn’t involved in this insanity, but I don’t believe that for one minute. Kavanaugh has spent days at the White House figuring out how to deal with this scandal, and I have no doubt Kavanaugh was the source of the theory that someone else did it. He even told Oren Hatch that it could be a case of mistaken identity.

One more from Politico: Ed Whelan’s Troubles Might Be Just Beginning. He’s playing a dangerous game with the law, by John Culhane.

Ed Whelan may have just crossed a line he can’t jump back over.

Woman with cat, by Yana Movchan

Yesterday, Whelan, the president of the Ethics and & Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank, and an assertive supporter of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, took to Twitter to lay out a Hardy Boys-inspired scenario, suggesting that Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Kavanaugh of attempted rape in high school, might have been mistaken about the identity of her alleged sexual assaulter. Using a mash-up of yearbook photos, Zillow information, Google Maps and Facebook, Whelan laid out a “case” that another man, a former classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Georgetown Prep—whom he named and provided a current photograph of—might have been the person Ford has in mind. After his wild theory received widespread criticism, Whelan deleted the tweets, and tried to walk back the accusation this morning.

The common law of defamation isn’t that complicated. To be liable, the defendant must make an intentionally or negligently false statement about the plaintiff that tends to cause reputational harm, and harm must actually ensue.

The man Whelan accused has already been harassed by the media. Read more about libel law at Politico.

I’m out of space, and I haven’t even written about the New York Times’s irresponsible article about Rod Rosenstein. Links to Emptywheel’s takes on that:

NYT GIVES TRUMP HIS EXCUSE TO FIRE ROD ROSENSTEIN.

THE NYT “SCOOP” APPEARS TO BE AN EFFORT TO SPIN OPENING AN INVESTIGATION INTO TRUMP AS AN ERRATIC ACT.

That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?


Thursday Reads: Women’s Righteous Rage

Good Morning!!

Two new books explore the power of women’s rage. One is already available and the other will be released on October 2. The first is Rage Becomes Her, by Soraya Chemaly. The second is Good and Mad, by Rebecca Traister. There couldn’t be a more appropriate time for these books and for women to embrace their righteous rage.

Just a short time ago, we saw Serena Williams viciously attacked for defending herself against an unfair tennis umpire in milder ways then men have been getting away with for decades. And now we have the spectacle of old white Republican men bullying a survivor of sexual abuse because she dared to speak out publicly about the man they desperately want to install on the Supreme Court.

Women are sick and tired of being pushed around–at least millions of us are. We are sick of being treated like property and being told we shouldn’t be able to make choices about our own bodies and our own futures. After hundreds of years of struggle, women are finally “allowed” to hold positions previously forbidden to us–doctors, lawyers, professors, Senators. But we still earn less money than men and we are still expected to accept being sexually harassed on the job, sexually assaulted, and beaten by our husbands and boyfriends. When we dare to speak out about male violence, we are expected to deal with death threats, rape threats and having our personal information posted on the internet.

On Tuesday I wrote about being triggered by the Brett Kavanaugh attempted rape controversy and the ugly reaction by the old white men of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Yesterday, my rage at this situation became so all-consuming that I felt as if I were having an out-of-body experience. Today, I’m a little calmer, but still angry as hell. I know I should try to detach from this controversy, but I can’t. It feels too important.

That’s all I can write for today. I’m going to list some important articles I’ve read yesterday and this morning. I just don’t have the strength to do excerpts, sorry.

Please don’t miss this one by Elizabeth Bruenig at The Washington Post: Twelve years ago, Amber Wyatt reported her rape. Few believed her.  Her hometown turned against her. The authorities failed her.

Isaac Chotiner at Slate: An Interview With the Psychiatrist Who Says White House Officials Called Her With Concerns About Trump.

The New York Times: From the Anonymity of Academia to the Center of a Supreme Court Confirmation.

The Washington Post: ‘These are the stories of our lives’: Prep school alumni hear echoes in assault claim.

Vanity Fair: The Toxic Politics of the GOP’s Plan to Save Brett Kavanaugh.

Sandra Newman at The Washington Post: Want to help prevent rape? Withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination.

HuffPost: Brett Kavanaugh Liked Female Clerks Who Looked A ‘Certain Way,’ Yale Student Was Told.

Thiru Vignarajah at The Washington Post: Kavanaugh’s accuser deserves a fair criminal investigation.

Washington Post Fact Checker: Brett Kavanaugh’s unlikely story about Democrats’ stolen documents.

The Boston Globe: Elizabeth Warren for president? New survey shows Mass. voters don’t love that idea.

Lili Loofbourow at Slate: Men Are More Afraid Than Ever. Why Kavanaugh advocates would rather defend malfeasance than deny it.

HuffPost: Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong.

Business Insider: ‘We’re in the fourth quarter’: James Comey says Mueller may be about to finish his investigation into Trump.

This is an open thread. Have a nice day and embrace your anger!


Tuesday Reads

Garden at Sainte Adresse, Claude Monet

Good Morning!!

I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but the whole Kavanaugh thing has really triggered my PSTD. I haven’t been able to sleep much at night, I wake up early, and then I fall asleep in the afternoon. I feel disgusted and depressed by the entire ugly episode. It was bad enough that Republicans were determined to confirm a political operative whose main goal in life seems to be to curtail the rights of women and hand corporations the power to rip off and poison Americans, but now we may get a reprise of the Anita Hill hearings.

I’m glad that Christine Blasey Ford has come forward with her story of being nearly raped by Trump’s SCOTUS pick, but at the same time I wish the whole horrible thing would just go away.

Actually, I’m convinced that there won’t be a hearing next Monday. I think Kavanaugh will be forced to withdraw. It seems that Trump isn’t really all that enthused about him, and he can always nominate another evil right wing nut. In fact, he could solve the whole sexual abuse/assault issue by appointing a conservative woman, Amy Coney Barrett. She probably didn’t try to rape anyone when she was in high school, and she would likely vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Here’s the latest tick tock from the WaPo White house reporters: With Trump muted, White House leans on Kavanaugh to defend himself.

White House aides said they persuaded the president to refrain from tweeting a defense of Kavanaugh in the accusation’s immediate aftermath and deliberately worked to keep him from meeting personally with the nominee, even though the two men spent most of the day in proximity.

Don McGahn watches Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate testimony

Kavanaugh was hunkered down in the West Wing office of White House Counsel Donald McGahn, strategizing to save his nomination and calling senators to deny the claim against him….

One senior White House official said Trump thinks Kavanaugh can survive and told top advisers he thought the judge’s denial of wrongdoing was forceful. “The president’s thinking is, don’t get out there and defend him if he’s not defending himself,” this official said. “But he liked that he defended himself.”

But two Trump confidants Monday also underscored the president’s history of self-interested calculations amid political tumult. “He’s going to do what’s best for Trump,” said one of them, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment. “The president thinks it’s rough for Kavanaugh, and he’d decry the process as disgusting if he withdraws, but he’d nominate a carbon copy of Kavanaugh in a second if he goes down.”

Another reason why Kavanaugh might be thrown overboard, again from the WaPo: Republicans fear reversals in November due to accusation against Supreme Court nominee.

Republicans are bracing for political aftershocks from the sexual assault accusation against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, with some expressing fear that the coming investigation will refocus the nation’s attention on an issue that could drive up the Democratic vote in the midterm elections.

The initial hope that the conservative Kavanaugh’s appointment would encourage turnout by grateful GOP voters this fall has been tempered by new fears that more voters, especially independent women, might head to the polls with fresh anger about Republican handling of sexual impropriety after a new round of public hearings.

Anita Hill testifying in 1991

“It’s not just about Kavanaugh but more about the midterms,” Rick Hohlt, a Republican lobbyist and veteran strategist, said of the party’s concerns. “With more women running for public office than ever before and the majority of them being Democrats, we could have a 1992 situation.”

That’s a reference to the elections in 1992, dubbed the “Year of the Woman” after the number of women elected to the House nearly doubled, to 47, and the number of women elected to the Senate tripled, to six. The election came one year after Justice Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court despite allegations that he had sexually harassed a subordinate, Anita Hill, in the workplace.

Even before the accusation against Kavanaugh surfaced, polls showed women preferred Democrats more than men did and were more likely to disapprove of President Trump, who faced accusations of sexual misconduct by 19 women before his 2016 election. A Washington Post-ABC News poll in late August found 58 percent of female registered voters intended to cast a ballot for a Democrat for Congress, compared with 45 percent of men.

Remember Mitch McConnell never wanted Trump to appoint Kavanaugh. It’s a long time until next Monday’s scheduled hearing. A lot can happen in that time. My guess is the Republicans will cut Kavanaugh loose. Certainly, if another woman comes forward, he will be dead in the water.

Meanwhile, FEMA’s threatened presidential emergency alert system rollout has been postponed because of all the protests. NBC News:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which oversees the wireless emergency alert (WEA) system, announced that the test that had been scheduled for Thursday will be pushed back to Oct. 3, citing the “ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence.”

Postponed, thank goodness!

The initial announcement was met with concerns from social media users who stated that a direct message from President Donald Trump to the nation could be used for political purposes, similar to how he uses his official Twitter page.

Many also went on to raise the issue of the alert being mandatory, with no way to opt of it. One user even messaged Verizon Wireless, one of the 100 wireless service companies that have agreed to provide the alert to their network, asking how she can avoid receiving it.

Some users even threatened to cancel their cellphone service, while others said they would protest the test by turning their phones off, creating the hashtag #GoDark920 in response to the original test date.

Stephen Cobb, a security researcher at ESET, a technology security company, tweeted via his verified account that the blowback against the test indicated the broader frustration with the president.

“This POTUS is so bad that folks are prepared to forgo the potential benefits of a national alert system – which already exists on radio and TV – because it is hard to believe Trump will not abuse it.”

As long as we’re talking about the sexual predator in the White House, I might as well include this creepy info from The Guardian on Stormy Daniels’s tell-all book:

Trump’s bodyguard invites Daniels to dinner, which turns out to be an invitation to Trump’s penthouse, she writes, in a description of alleged events that Daniels has disclosed previously but which in the book are rendered with new and lurid detail. She describes Trump’s penis as “smaller than average” but “not freakishly small.”

“He knows he has an unusual penis,” Daniels writes. “It has a huge mushroom head. Like a toadstool…

“I lay there, annoyed that I was getting fucked by a guy with Yeti pubes and a dick like the mushroom character in Mario Kart…

“It may have been the least impressive sex I’d ever had, but clearly, he didn’t share that opinion.”

Ugh. Still, I’d love to be a fly on the wall when someone reads this to Trump.

Finally, if you haven’t already done so, you should read Hillary Clinton’s new essay at The Atlantic: American Democracy Is in Crisis.

It’s been nearly two years since Donald Trump won enough Electoral College votes to become president of the United States. On the day after, in my concession speech, I said, “We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.” I hoped that my fears for our future were overblown.

They were not.

Hillary Clinton photographed by Annie Leibovitz

In the roughly 21 months since he took the oath of office, Trump has sunk far below the already-low bar he set for himself in his ugly campaign. Exhibit A is the unspeakable cruelty that his administration has inflicted on undocumented families arriving at the border, including separating children, some as young as eight months, from their parents. According to The New York Times, the administration continues to detain 12,800 children right now, despite all the outcry and court orders. Then there’s the president’s monstrous neglect of Puerto Rico: After Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, his administration barely responded. Some 3,000 Americans died. Now Trump flatly denies those deaths were caused by the storm. And, of course, despite the recent indictments of several Russian military intelligence officers for hacking the Democratic National Committee in 2016, he continues to dismiss a serious attack on our country by a foreign power as a “hoax.”

Trump and his cronies do so many despicable things that it can be hard to keep track. I think that may be the point—to confound us, so it’s harder to keep our eye on the ball. The ball, of course, is protecting American democracy. As citizens, that’s our most important charge. And right now, our democracy is in crisis.

I don’t use the word crisis lightly. There are no tanks in the streets. The administration’s malevolence may be constrained on some fronts—for now—by its incompetence. But our democratic institutions and traditions are under siege. We need to do everything we can to fight back. There’s not a moment to lose.

Read the rest at the Atlantic link.


Lazy Saturday Reads: Another Wild Week In Crazytown

By David Hettinger

Good Afternoon!!

We’ve reached the end of another stunning week in Trump world, culminating in the news that Paul Manafort has flipped and SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh may be a sexual predator. How much more of this can we take?

It’s difficult to believe that it was only this Tuesday the Bob Woodward’s book Fear was released. I’ve been reading it and, difficult as this is to believe, it is even more surreal than Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury. We are truly living on the edge of disaster every single day under this “president.”

The cable networks have been obsessed with Hurricane Florence for days now, to the point that there was little coverage of the Manafort plea deal and the shocking news that Trump’s SCOTUS nominee allegedly tried to rape a woman when he was in high school.

It’s really difficult to know what to focus on today, so I’m just going to offer some reads that have caught my attention this morning.

Harry Litman at USA Today: Manafort plea is new proof that Mueller is Trump’s worst nightmare. He’s on to him.

It’s tempting to view Paul Manafort’s guilty plea and cooperation agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe in gladiatorial terms: Manafort brought utterly to heel; Mueller in full triumph; and the vainglorious orange-haired Emperor sulking in the royal box, his chosen warrior having turned tail and abandoned him.

By Claude Grobety

The actual story is even more exhilarating. In his all-out, morally bankrupt assault on the Mueller probe, the president had chosen Manafort as his poster child for justice. Manafort, the multi-million dollar tax cheat and mercenary servant of Russia’s interests, became Manafort, the stand-up guy. And the two men appeared to be enacting an obstruction of justice in plain view: Manafort keeping quiet and going to jail in the expectation of a corrupt pardon from Trump, which the president had shown himself very willing to give.

All that is blown to bits after the plea deal announcement, which is, more than anything, a triumph for the rule of law and the notion that, Rudy Giuliani’s buffoonish proclamations to the contrary, truth is truth.

What does the Manafort deal mean for Trump?

For the president, the plea agreement from his former campaign chair is at least a huge blow and potentially disastrous. It had been widely reported that Trump believed Manafort could incriminate him and took great relief from the thought that he would keep his lips sealed.

For starters, Manafort likely knows whether Trump had advance knowledge of the June 2016 meeting set up by Donald Trump Jr. to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, which would expose the president to co-conspirator liability. Manafort likewise was at the center of the manipulation of the Republican platform to favor Russian interests in the Ukraine.

By Jane Peterson

More generally, Manafort’s shamed, mumbled court confession to all Mueller’s charges further makes more untenable Trump’s histrionic shrieks of “witch hunt,” which already had been losing purchase.

Manafort’s cooperation promise also may bode ill for Roger Stone, his former business partner, on whom Mueller already has been turning the vise, and possibly Jared Kushner, who worked closely with Manafort during the campaign and now is a senior adviser to his father-in-law at the White House.

Yes, there’s much more to come, and it seems clear now that Mueller isn’t worried about Rudy Giuliani’s threats about the investigation continuing as we approach the election. After all, Trump is not on any ballots.

I didn’t know that Manafort was involved in identity theft. The New York Times: How a Ukrainian Hairdresser Became a Front for Paul Manafort.

KIEV, Ukraine — At first glance, what happened to Yevgeny G. Kaseyev hardly seems like misfortune.

Without his knowledge, he says, unknown individuals set up multiple companies in his name and deposited tens of millions of dollars into those companies’ bank accounts.

“Sometimes it seems fun,” Mr. Kaseyev, a 34-year-old hairdresser, said with a shrug during an interview. “I’m a secret millionaire.”

Sally Strand – A Good Read (2008)

Until the authorities came calling, that is, seeking $30 million in back taxes.

One of the people who did business with a company opened under Mr. Kaseyev’s stolen identity didn’t mean anything to him. But the name certainly caught the eye of investigators in the United States: Paul J. Manafort.

Mr. Manafort, who worked for a decade as a political consultant in Ukraine before becoming chairman of the Trump campaign in 2016, made a deal worth hundreds of thousands of dollars with the shell company under the hairdresser’s name. It was called Neocom Systems Limited, according to a Ukrainian lawmaker.

Read the rest of the twisted tale at the link.

On the Kavanaugh story, in July Sen. Diane Feinstein, the ranking member on on the Senate Judiciary Committee, received a letter from a woman who said that Brett Kavanaugh and a friend of his had sexually assaulted her at a party when they were high school students. From Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer’s New Yorker piece:

The allegation dates back to the early nineteen-eighties, when Kavanaugh was a high-school student at Georgetown Preparatory School, in Bethesda, Maryland, and the woman attended a nearby high school. In the letter, the woman alleged that, during an encounter at a party, Kavanaugh held her down, and that he attempted to force himself on her. She claimed in the letter that Kavanaugh and a classmate of his, both of whom had been drinking, turned up music that was playing in the room to conceal the sound of her protests, and that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand. She was able to free herself. Although the alleged incident took place decades ago and the three individuals involved were minors, the woman said that the memory had been a source of ongoing distress for her, and that she had sought psychological treatment as a result.

Feinstein sat on the story until the Intercept published a report that she was keeping it secret, even from other Democrats on the committee.

Félix Vallotton (Swiss-born French, 1865-1925), La Liseuse (1922)

Kavanaugh and the friend, Mark Judge, both deny that the events happened. But it turns out Judge has a colorful past. He wrote a book about being a teenage alcoholic, and wrote a bizarre 2012 piece for The Daily Caller claiming that a black person stole his bicycle, even though he actually had no idea who had done it: The End Of My White Guilt. Judge parked his car with his bike on the roof when he went to church; when he returned, the bike was gone.

But  when I came back to my car after the stations, my bike, which had been locked to a bike rack on my car, was gone. I called the cops and filed a report. Then I walked around Brookland, the neighborhood around the Shrine, for an hour to see if I could spot it. I didn’t, but I did talk to some people who said there were a lot of kids around that day because the schools are out.

I went to college at Catholic University, which is right next to the National Shrine, and I know Brookland pretty well. It’s home to several Catholic religious orders (Brookland was once known as “Little Rome”). I could be pretty certain that on Good Friday a member of the Little Sisters of the Poor, which is across the street from where I was parked, had not nicked my bike. Neither had the monks at the Dominican House of Studies on the corner. The students at Catholic University were on Easter break. That left the neighborhoods around the university. Since the time I was an undergrad at Catholic University in the 1980s, most of the crime that has occurred on campus has come from those neighborhoods, which are predominately black. As sure as it took the D.C. cops forever to get to the parking lot to file a report, I knew that the odds were very high that a black person had taken my bike — maybe one of the kids that had been described.

I actually remember reading about this at the time, because Judge was roundly mocked on the internet. So this guy is Brett Kavanaugh’s alibi. Read more about him at Heavy: Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh’s Classmate: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.

There’s at least one other rumor going around about Kavanaugh:

It’s also weird that Kavanaugh clerked for Alex Kosinki, the judge who was forced to resign over accusations of sexual harassment; yet Kavanaugh claims he had no knowledge of Kosinki’s blatantly abusive behavior. Slate: I Received Some of Kozinski’s Infamous Gag List Emails. I’m Baffled by Kavanaugh’s Responses to Questions About Them, by Heidi Bond

When I came forward in December about my experience in Judge Alex Kozinski’s chambers, I said that when he showed me pictures of naked people without my co-clerks present, I felt isolated. Had they been there, I explained, “it would have felt like I was being treated as one of the guys. Kozinski was not known for being terribly appropriate, but I could handle that. Inappropriateness directed solely at me felt very different than chambers-wide jokes.”

Cynthia Reading by Rosina Emmet Sherwood (1854 – 1948)

Those chamberswide jokes that I alluded to have now become an issue in Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. Kavanaugh clerked for Kozinski in the early 1990s and has maintained a close personal relationship with the judge. When Kavanaugh was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2006, it was Kozinski who introduced him to the Senate.

For years, Kozinski maintained an email list known as the “Easy Rider Gag List,” to which he would send sexually explicit and otherwise raunchy jokes; the existence of the list was first publicized in 2008. In his hearings, Kavanaugh was asked by Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mazie Hirono if he was aware of the email list, and if he had received emails from Kozinski with sexually explicit content. In response to these questions, he said he couldn’t recall anything like that. And, in response to a written question for the record—“Has Judge Kozinski ever made comments about sexual matters to you, either in jest or otherwise?”—Kavanaugh responded, “I do not remember any such comments.”

This last response leaves me wondering whether Kavanaugh and I clerked for the same man. Kozinski’s sexual comments—to both men and women—were legendary.

Click on the link to read the rest.

I’m running out of time and space, so I’ll end with this strange story from The Washington Post: A solar observatory in New Mexico is evacuated for a week and the FBI is investigating. No one will say why.

 At a small solar observatory tucked away in the woods of a national forest here, scientists and other personnel were commanded last week to leave at once. A week later, the facility remains vacant, and no one is willing to say why.

By Julian Barrow

The mysterious and lengthy evacuation, in a state known for secretive military testing and a suspected UFO crash, has spawned a wealth of speculation.

Did the researchers spot something extraterrestrial? Was the solar telescope hacked by a foreign power and deployed to spy on, say, the state’s missile testing range? Or is there an innocuous explanation, suppressed only because of corporate and government resistance to transparency?

On Friday, the entrance to the National Solar Observatory was blocked by yellow crime scene tape and two security guards, who said even they had been kept in the dark. The guards, from Red Rock Security & Patrol in Las Cruces, N.M., did not give their names but said it was the first day the company was guarding the entrance and that only the “director and an assistant” were allowed in. There was no obvious sign of law enforcement activity.

A spokeswoman for the nonprofit group that runs the facility said the organization was ad­dressing a “security issue,” but offered no additional information, other than, “I can tell you it definitely wasn’t aliens.” She said Friday that the facility “will remain closed until further notice.” Neither the FBI — which was spotted on the premises around the time of the evacuation — nor those who worked at the facility would tell local law enforcement what had happened, said Otero County Sheriff Benny House.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

So . . . what stories are you following today?


Thursday Reads: Hurricane Florence and Other News

Hurricane, Bahamas, by Winslow Homer

Good Morning!!

Hurricane Florence coverage is dominating the news as the storm approaches the Carolinas. Will the storm live up to the hype? For the sake of the people in it’s path, I hope it continues to weaken.

The Weather Channel: Hurricane Florence Long Siege is Beginning; Storm Surge, Catastrophic Flash Flooding, High Winds to Hammer the Carolinas, Appalachia.

Hurricane Florence is making its final approach to the Carolinas, with landfall possible either overnight tonight or Friday, kicking off an agonizing crawl through the Southeast into early next week, producing catastrophic inland rainfall flooding, life-threatening storm surge and destructive winds.

As of Thursday morning, Florence’s eye was located about 160 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, moving northwestward.

Outer rainbands are already pushing ashore in eastern North Carolina, only the beginning of what could be a record wet siege from a tropical cyclone in parts of the Tar Heel State….

On the Eye of the Hurricane, by Danittza Zimic

The National Hurricane Center noted Wednesday evening that while Florence has weakened some, “the wind field of the hurricane continues to grow in size. This evolution will produce storm surges similar to that of a more intense, but smaller, hurricane, and thus the storm surge values seen in the previous advisory are still valid.” [….]

“This will likely be the storm of a lifetime for portions of the Carolina coast,” the National Weather Service in Wilmington, North Carolina, wrote in its Tuesday evening area forecast discussion. A Wednesday morning forecast discussion said flooding in southeast North Carolina and northeast South Carolina could be “unprecedented.”

USA Today: Hurricane Florence nears coast: ‘This is a life-threatening situation.’

The storm was about 145 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and 195 miles off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Thursday as of 8 a.m. EST. But with tropical force winds extending almost 200 miles from the center, Florence was a poised to bring havoc well before making landfall.

That could happen sometime Friday, probably somewhere near the states’ border. FEMA administrator Brock Long urged people in mandatory evacuation areas to get out. And he warned that the storm cleanup will take time and patience….

Hurricane Katrina, by Carol Warner

More than 1 million people were evacuated from coastal areas, and 10 million live within areas of hurricane or tropical storm warnings and watches. Storm surge of up to 13 feet will be “life threatening” and rainfall of up to 40 inches will mean “catastrophic” flooding, he National Hurricane Center said.

“We want to continue to send the message that this monster of a storm is not one to ride out,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said.

Some folks still plan stay put, according to the article.

Meanwhile, we learned a couple of days ago that the Trump regime stole money from FEMA to pay for it’s child separation policy and immigrant concentration camps. But it turns out the situation is even worse than we thought.

CNN reports: It’s not just FEMA: ICE quietly got an extra $200 million.

The Trump administration this summer quietly redirected $200 million from all over the Department of Homeland Security to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, despite repeated congressional warnings of ICE’s “lack of fiscal discipline” and “unsustainable” spending.

Menemsha Hurricane, by Thomas Hart Benton

The Department of Homeland Security asked for the money, according to a document made public this week by Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley. Of the $200 million, the document says $93 million will go to immigrant detention, a 3% budget increase that will fund capacity for an additional 2,300 detainees; and $107 million for “transportation and removal,” or deportations, a 29% budget increase.

The additional $200 million would put ICE’s budget for detention and transportation at more than $3.6 billion.

The money came from different parts of DHS, including FEMA, the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office, Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers, Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration, cybersecurity office and Customs and Border Protection.

Read the rest at CNN.

The residents of the states in the Florence’s path should be very nervous. This morning Trump again attacked Puerto Rico on Twitter. CNN: Trump falsely claims nearly 3,000 Americans in Puerto Rico ‘did not die.’

Nearly 3,000 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. President Donald Trump denied this reality as a hurricane barrels toward the Carolinas.

“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000,” he said in a tweet Thursday morning as Carolinians prepared to be pummeled by Hurricane Florence.

Hurricane Irene, by Eileen Dorsey

Earlier this month, the island’s governor formally raised the death toll from Hurricane Maria to an estimated 2,975 from 64 following a study conducted by researchers at The George Washington University. CNN’s own reporting reflects similar numbers. The university study accounted for Puerto Ricans who succumbed to the stifling heat and other aftereffects of the storm and had not been previously counted in official figures. Much of the US territory was without power for weeks.

Trump has consistently denied any fault for his administration in the aftermath of the storm. In fact, the President has instead sought praise for his handling of Hurricane Maria, saying earlier this week that it was “an incredible, unsung success.” [….]

“I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful,” Trump said Tuesday in the Oval Office, noting that the island location is “tough” during a hurricane due to the inability to transport vital equipment and supplies by truck. “It was one of the best jobs that’s ever been done with respect to what this is all about.”

Whether or not FEMA is prepared and has the necessary funds, Trump will claim he did a fabulous job.

The Senate Intelligence Committee met this morning, and they decided to postpone the vote on Brett Kavanaugh until next Thursday, Sept. 20 at 1:45PM after Democrats successfully pushed for the
delay
. CBS News:

Under the committee rules, any member can ask for a one-week delay on the vote of a nominee. After numerous Democrats deployed a strategy of holding up hearing business, citing lack of access to documents pertaining to Kavanaugh’s record, the minority pushed for another delay in the confirmation process.

Maurice Sapiro: Orient Point, After The Hurricane

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, began the committee’s business by motioning to adjourn “to make sure we have the time and information we need, the documents, the facts, the witnesses in order to proceed on the Kavanaugh nomination.”

“This nomination is going to be tainted, it will be stained by process…broken the traditions of this committee.” He added the nomination was rushed through to judgement in a “highly partisan and unfortunately failed way.”

Blumenthal argued that there’s an “even more urgent and pressing duty to get those documents and having witnesses to enable us to evaluate serious concerns raised as a result of evasive and seemingly misleading answers given to us at the hearing.”

Read more at the link. At least they bought time for more public opposition to Kavanaugh. Susan Collins of Maine has been subjected to sustained pressure, and she hasn’t handled it well at all.

Slate: Susan Collins Complains of “Bribery” After Nonbillionaires Try to Influence Her Kavanaugh Vote.

On Monday, Sen. Susan Collins accused political opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh of attempted “bribery.” The charge itself is without any legal merit whatsoever. That complaints about the campaign finance effort came from Collins, Republican election lawyer Cleta Mitchell, and an aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell make the episode almost too rich to be believed. Their cries of bribery, illegality, and lack of principle lay bare the bankrupt campaign finance system that Mitchell and McConnell helped create and that Collins has contributed to with previous Supreme Court votes and will supersize with her likely vote to confirm Kavanaugh.

The Hurricane, by Michael Rucker

Collins labeled as a “bribe” a fundraising plan by two progressive Maine groups, aided by the company Crowdpac, to raise funds for Collins’ eventual opponent in 2020. People are pledging to give money via Crowdpac to that unknown future opponent, but donors will only be charged for the donation if Collins votes “yes” on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. As of Tuesday night, the groups reported pledged donations of more than $1 million, with a $1.3 million goal. There were more than 39,000 individual pledges ranging from $1 to the maximum allowable donation to a candidate of $2,700.

Now we can argue about whether the political threat to Collins funded by tens of thousands of small donations should be illegal. But claims by Mitchell and others that the fundraising effort is illegal are wrong, in part thanks to the deregulated campaign finance system that Mitchell and others have helped to create through litigation and a sympathetic Supreme Court.

Read more at Slate.

For the past couple of days we’ve been hearing that Paul Manafort is negotiating for a plea deal to avoid having to go through a second trial. But it looks like he is still counting on a pardon from Trump once he’s finished with the legal process.

Today Politico reports that Trump and his legal team aren’t the least bit concerned.

At any time, Trump could wipe out Manafort’s earlier convictions and eliminate the need for the D.C. trial or a plea deal by pardoning Manafort. The president has sounded open to the idea, expressing deep sympathy for his former campaign chief….

The Storm, by Jim Booth

Several aides and advisers have told POLITICO they believe Trump will grant clemency to Manafort, but Giuliani has said the president has agreed to put off any consideration of the issue until the Mueller probe concludes.

Asked Wednesday whether a plea deal would close the door on Manafort getting a Trump pardon, Giuliani replied, “No, it doesn’t. I can’t speak for his exercising discretion on a pardon. But I don’t see why it would foreclose it, no.”

Isn’t dangling a pardon obstruction and/or witness tampering? Giuiliani also revealed that Trump’s and Manafort’s attorneys are still in a joint defense agreement, so Trump is privy to everything Manafort is doing and vice versa.

Giuliani also confirmed that Trump’s lawyers and Manafort’s have been in regular contact and that they are part of a joint defense agreement that allows confidential information sharing.

“All during the investigation we have an open communication with them,” he said. “Defense lawyers talk to each other all the time where as long as our clients authorize it therefore we have a better idea of what’s going to happen. That’s very common.”

Giuliani confirmed he spoke with Manafort’s lead defense lawyer Kevin Downing shortly before and after the verdicts were returned in the Virginia trial, but the former mayor wouldn’t say what he discusses with the Manafort team. “It’d all be attorney-client privilege not just from our point of view but from theirs,” he said.

It appears the fix is in. For all we know the attorneys already could have worked out how they will handle the pardon. Of courses that still would not get Manafort off the hook for state charges or for being forced by Mueller to testify before the grand jury. But Giuliani says they won’t act on a pardon until the investigation is over, so I guess until it happens, Manafort could still take the fifth and refuse to answer questions. I hope Mueller refuses any plea that doesn’t include cooperation from Manafort.

So . . . what else is happening? Let us know your thoughts in the comment thread below.


Tuesday Reads: 9/11 Anniversary, Hurricane Florence, and Political Storm Woodward

Good Morning!!

Today is the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

There’s a memorial ceremony going on in New York City, but Trump is in Shanksville, Pennsylvania for a Flight 93 event. I suppose he figured he wouldn’t be welcome in New York and he might get more votes out Pennsylvania. Anyway, this is a photo of his embarrassing behavior on arrival there.

This buffoon is not capable of acting appropriately in any situation. Remember when we had a dignified president?

Trump started the day with a series of tweets about his obsession with the Russia investigation and his campaign to destroy his own Department of Justice. NBC News:

President Donald Trump began the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by tweeting about the FBI, claims of possible collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia, and former Attorney General Eric Holder.

The tweets, apparently rehashing reports on Fox Business Network and Fox News, came as the president was traveling to a scheduled appearance at the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania — the site where one of the planes hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001, crashed into a field.

First, right after 7:00 a.m., Trump, appearing to quote from a Fox Business Network segment, tweeted, “‘We have found nothing to show collusion between President Trump & Russia, absolutely zero, but every day we get more documentation showing collusion between the FBI & DOJ, the Hillary campaign, foreign spies & Russians, incredible.’ @SaraCarterDC @LouDobbs.”

Lou Dobbs is a Fox Business anchor, while Sara Carter is a Fox News contributor. She posted an article Monday night alleging that officials from the FBI and Justice Department leaked information to the media.

Peter Strzok (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The “leak strategy” That the moron in chief and other idiots complained about was an effort by Peter Strzok to stop leaks from the FBI.

“The term ‘media leak strategy’ in Mr. Strzok’s text refers to a Department-wide initiative to detect and stop leaks to the media. The President and his enablers are once again peddling unfounded conspiracy theories to mislead the American people,” Goelman said.

Read the tweets and more at the link. This is the “president.” he spends most of his time sitting around watching TV and tweeting ignorant nonsense and the rest ranting at his staff or at paid audiences at his Hitler-style rallies.

USA Today on the 9/11 ceremonies:

Seventeen years out from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the nation comes together Tuesday to mourn and remember a day that changed history.

The country watched in horror as hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The attack killed 2,996 people, making it the deadliest foreign attack ever on U.S. soil.

Ceremonies begin in New York City on the 9/11 Memorial plaza at the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. Family members of victims of the 2001 and 1993 attacks, and they have been invited to participate in this year’s reading of the names.

President Donald Trump will pay tribute to the victims at a ceremony in western Pennsylvania. First lady Melania Trump will accompany her husband to the event.

The Shanksville ceremony will include the sounds of the Tower of Voices, a 93-foot-tall concrete and steel structure featuring a wind chime for each person on board with its own distinctive sound. The tower is the final phase of the 2,200-acre Flight 93 National Memorial.

The site is live streaming both events.

In other news, a powerful category 4 hurricane is bearing down on the mid-Atlantic coast and and another is bearing down on the Trump White House in the form of Bob Woodward’s book, which was released today.

From the ABC News 11 (Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, NC area): Hurricane Florence remains dangerous Cat 4 storm as it heads toward the Carolinas.

Hurricane Florence continues to be a dangerous Category 4 storm as it steams toward the U.S. East Coast, but a new wrinkle in the Gulf could affect its path.

It’s too early to know for sure, but a disturbance in the Gulf could form into Tropical Storm Joyce and potentially push Florence’s track northward — good news for many parts of North Carolina.

That’s just a possibility at this point, according to Chief Meteorologist Chris Hohmann.

So the situation is still fluid.

The Washington Post: Hurricane Florence: Watches posted as “extremely dangerous” storm churns toward Carolinas.

Large and violent Florence is continuing on a beeline toward the East Coast as an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane. Catastrophic flooding and destructive winds are becoming very likely in the eastern Carolinas.

Forecasts generally project the storm to make landfall between northern South Carolina and North Carolina’s Outer Banks as a strong Category 3  on Thursday, although shifts in the track are possible and storm impacts will expand great distances beyond where landfall occurs.

The National Hurricane Center is warning of an “extremely dangerous” triple threat in the Carolinas and Virginia:

1) A “life-threatening storm surge” at the coast — a rise in ocean water over normally dry land.

2) “Life-threatening freshwater flooding from a prolonged and exceptionally heavy rainfall event” from the coast to interior sections.

3) “Damaging hurricane-force winds” at the coast and some distance inland.

Like Hurricane Harvey, which stalled over Texas in 2017, Florence could linger over the Southeast for several days after landfall unloading 15 to 20 inches of rain and isolated amounts to 30 inches. The Hurricane Center said this “could produce catastrophic flash flooding.” […..]

More than 1.5 million people have already been ordered to evacuate coastal areas ahead of the storm, due to both destructive winds and storm surge which could place normally dry land under at least 10 feet of water.

Read more at the WaPo.

On the Woodward book, I highly recommend this review at Slate by Isaac Chotiner: Nobody’s Heroes: Bob Woodward’s new book presents Trump staffers as our last line of defense. We’re doomed.

Nearly 300 pages into Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear: Trump in the White House, a West Wing aide named Zach Fuentes cautions fellow staffers. With depressingly familiar words, Fuentes informs his colleagues, “He’s not a detail guy. Never put more than one page in front of him. Even if he’ll glance at it, he’s not going to read the whole thing. Make sure you underline or put in bold the main points … you’ll have 30 seconds to talk to him. If you haven’t grabbed his attention, he won’t focus.” Some subjects, such as the military, do engage him, but the overwhelming picture is worrying and dire. Still, one could finish this passage and feel at least slightly relieved that people like Fuentes are aware of the reigning deficiencies in the White House, and doing their best to mitigate them.

Fuentes is merely an assistant to John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, but Kelly and James Mattis, the secretary of defense, are presented throughout Woodward’s book as being cognizant of the president’s extreme limitations and authoritarian instincts, and rather boldly willing to push back against their boss. This is why it’s probably worth mentioning that Fuentes wasn’t talking about Donald Trump; no, he was talking about John Kelly. And Woodward’s book—which arrived at around the same time as the already infamous, still-currently anonymous New York Times op-ed about the men and women in the executive branch supposedly working to protect America from Donald Trump—is as much a portrait of the craven, ineffective, and counterproductive group of “adults” surrounding Trump as it is a more predictable look into the president’s shortcomings. It’s not entirely clear how aware Woodward is of what he has revealed about the people he’s quoting at length. (Sources tend to come off well in his books.) But intentionally or not, Fear will make plain to the last optimist that, just as Republicans in Congress are unlikely to save us, neither are the relative grown-ups in the Trump administration.

(Emphasis added.) It’s a frightening but important read.

One more on Trump’s reactions to the book from Politico’s Annie Karni:  Trump’s assault on Woodward riddled with contradictions.

President Donald Trump has called journalist Bob Woodward’s book on his administration a work of “fiction” and a “scam,” claiming that quotes in the book are “made up” and that the author is a “liar.”

At the same time, sources familiar with his thinking said he is livid at his former economic adviser, Gary Cohn, and his former staff secretary, Rob Porter, for “leaking” to Woodward.

It’s difficult to rationally argue that the book could be both: fiction dreamed up by Woodward, and a betrayal by former top stewards of the administration, who shared with the famed journalist alarming details about how the White House functions.

But it’s not hard for Trump, who often spouts two opposing views intended for different audiences. And his supporters often soak up the contradictory claims just as readily as he spits them out, taking it all in stride.

More Trump insanity at the link.I’ll add a few more links in the comment thread. What stories are you following today?