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D.C. Memo: Supreme thwart

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman when they were both teenagers totally consumed Washington this week.

The D.C. Memo is a weekly recap of Washington political news, journalism, and opinion, delivered with an eye toward what matters for Minnesota. Sign up to get it in your inbox every Thursday.

This week in Washington, a #MeToo scandal blew up President Trump’s second Supreme Court nomination, throwing D.C. into turmoil and setting up the possibility of a high-stakes hearing on the Hill next week. Amid the crisis, POTUS found time to threaten a shutdown, hug a hurricane victim, and make Jeff Sessions feel even worse, if that’s even possible.

This week in Washington

Greetings from Washington, which is totally consumed with the explosive sexual assault allegations levied against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by a California college professor named Christine Blasey Ford, who came forward to say that a 17-year old Kavanaugh drunkenly accosted her at a suburban D.C. party in the 1980s.

Ford’s allegations have totally derailed Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the high court, which was looking solid just a week ago. A vote to approve him in the Senate Judiciary Committee was slated for Thursday before getting postponed, and now we await a potentially momentous Monday: that’s the day that Senate GOP leadership has marked for Kavanaugh and Ford to testify about what happened.

Or not: Ford, who was reluctant to go forward with her story, has said this week she wants an investigation from federal law enforcement before appearing in front of senators to testify. That call has been echoed by many Democrats and the op-ed boards of major newspapers. Along with several other Senate Democrats who are former prosecutors, Sen. Amy Klobuchar wrote the White House on Thursday calling on the administration to reopen the FBI background check into Kavanaugh.

Senate Judiciary chair Chuck Grassley, backed up by basically every Republican, says that’s not going to happen, and gave Ford until Friday to decide if she will appear before the committee, and basically the entire country, on Monday. (Thursday’s Daily 202 newsletter from the Washington Post’s James Hohmann is a good dive into the role the FBI investigation is playing here.)

The New York Times reported Thursday afternoon that Ford and her lawyers are negotiating with Judiciary Committee staff about her coming to testify next week — but not on Monday.

Meanwhile, Kavanaugh — who denies Ford’s allegation — is preparing with his allies as if a hearing next week will happen, though it’s unclear if it will go forward if Ford is not present. He’s spent a few days at the White House subjecting himself to mock grillings.

The early days of this week were uncertain, with the hovering possibility Kavanaugh could withdraw, but now it looks like the White House and GOP brass are committing to moving forward with the embattled nomination, and they’re feeling confident about their decision to do so.

Republican senators seem to have settled on a comfortable line: they have (mostly) deemed Ford’s allegations serious and called on her to come forward and share her story — but if she does not do so on Monday and under the committee’s parameters, well, they say they’ll have made a good-faith effort to hear her out and should move to hold a vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation without delay.

Per Politico, GOP brass is aware of the very bad optics of the Senate Judiciary Republicans — all of whom are white men — questioning a woman who says she is a victim of sexual assault. They are trying to take some steps to avoid a disaster if Ford does come in to testify.

But there were some unforced errors on the sensitivity front from the Republican men of the Senate, some of whom were very dismissive of Ford: Sen. Lindsey Graham said that this was a “drive-by shooting” on Kavanaugh and that he’d “listen to the lady, but we’re going to bring this to a close.” Sen. John Cornyn, the number two Senate Republican, said there were “gaps” in Ford’s story. (“The problem is, Dr. Ford can’t remember when it was, where it was or how it came to be,” he said of the allegations.)

#NotAllRepublicanMen? Arizona Never-Trumper Sen. Jeff Flake stepped up to bravely tweet a denouncement of a joke that Large Son-in-Chief Donald Trump, Jr. made online at Ford’s expense. (Trump Jr. will be in Minnesota for a fundraiser benefiting the Minnesota GOP next week, for those interested.)

Senate Democrats say there’s no reason to rush all this with an artificial deadline; Obviously, Republicans see a reason to rush: their window to confirm Kavanaugh or another nominee before the November midterms is closing, and Democrats have an outside shot to claim control of the Senate. Politico has some behind-the-scenes reporting on how Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who’s driving the GOP response to the Kavanaugh allegations, has been crafting strategy.

For once, President Donald Trump seems to have bit his tongue here, for the most part. Keeping with his tradition of showing sympathy for men accused of sexual misconduct (who aren’t Al Franken), POTUS has said this week that it’s “very sad” what Kavanaugh and his family are going through, but has stuck to the GOP line that Ford should get a hearing. (CNN reports that White House aides are stunned at this show of class and restraint.) The New York Times, meanwhile, reports that Ford has received death threats and has been forced to move out of her home; when asked, Trump would not say if he felt bad for her.

Trump and other Republicans have focused instead on criticizing Democrats for what they say is an 11th-hour torpedo to Kavanaugh’s nomination. Scrutiny centers on California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who became aware of Ford’s story in a letter she obtained in July, but she sat on it because Ford insisted on anonymity. The letter exploded last week, after Kavanaugh’s hearing, when Feinstein released a statement saying she had referred a matter regarding Kavanaugh to the FBI. BuzzFeed News has a dive on Feinstein’s handling of all this, which is a fascinating and could reverberate through the process.

The Kavanaugh news from this week reverberated in Minnesota, particularly in the U.S. Senate special election contest between DFL Sen. Tina Smith and GOP state Sen. Karin Housley. Smith has opposed Kavanaugh’s confirmation, prompting Housley to label her an obstructionist. When the allegations broke, Housley echoed the GOP line and called for Ford to tell her story, but was quick to pivot to Keith Ellison, whose own abuse allegations Republicans are trying to turn into radioactive toxic waste for any Minnesota Democrat who hasn’t explicitly denounced him.

Housley said Smith and Democrats should apply the same scrutiny they’re applying to Kavanaugh to Ellison. It’s unclear what that would look like, but there’s no question that Democrats have been more forthcoming about ideas to get to the bottom of the Kavanaugh allegations than they have about those against Ellison. Look for Republicans to continue to make hay out of this as this plays out.

Looking beyond Minnesota: the Kavanaugh allegations are a far bigger deal in the 10 U.S. Senate races where an incumbent Democrat is up against a Republican challenger in a state Trump won in 2016. The NYT checks in on how red-state Dems are navigating this, which includes a paradoxical take: apparently, Dems are worried that Kavanaugh failing would make the midterms a referendum on the Supreme Court and gin up GOP base turnout; Republicans fear very same outcome would deflate their core supporters and hand majorities to the Democrats.

The historical symmetry of the Kavanaugh episode to that of SCOTUS justice Clarence Thomas, who was accused by Prof. Anita Hill of sexual harassment after Thomas’ confirmation hearing in 1990, is overwhelming. WaPo’s Paul Kane, a veteran Capitol observer, has a good column on that. Hill herself had an op-ed in the New York Times with thoughts on how this apparent rerun of her saga should go. NYT’s Kate Zernike has a look at #MeToo as a backdrop for the debate on the Kavanaugh’s allegations, highlighting the stakes for what happens next.

One final note on this: the rumor mill is swirling in D.C. that Kavanaugh could either get exonerated with definitive evidence — or that more women will come forward with stories. (On that note: the Guardian reports that Judge Kavanaugh’s female law clerks tended to have a certain, uh, “look.”)

Big news from the Supreme Court in terms of actual law stuff: the high court moved to shine a spotlight on dark money in politics by letting a ruling stand that requires political nonprofits to disclose who some of their donors are. That means the public will know a lot more about who funds the political ads aired by “social welfare” 501(c)4 nonprofits, many of which are conservative big-money groups like the NRA. The disclosure requirement kicks in soon, meaning we’ll have a better idea of dark money before Election Day 2018.

On that topic: check out my story from last week on the handful of big-money groups — from party committees to super PACs to 501(c)4s — poised to leave the biggest marks on Minnesota’s key races this year.

Moving on: Hurricane Florence — a “1,000-year” rain event — slammed into the Carolinas over the weekend, so Trump traveled to visit affected areas on Wednesday, show human emotion, and check in on a golf course he owns around there. A reporter for the Tennessean newspaper was taken aback by Trump’s style at his hurricane “briefing.”

On the disaster front: FEMA chief Brock Long has a lot on his plate this week — and that’s before you get to the fact that he’s under investigation for using government vehicles for routine personal travel, and faces a possible criminal probe.

News from the administration, which announced this week that it will only admit 30,000 refugees in the coming year, the lowest total in decades.

Another god-awful week for Trump’s chief immigration enforcer, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In an interview, Trump reiterated he is “very disappointed” in Sessions, at one point claiming, “I don’t have an attorney general.” Opaque as usual, POTUS suggested options might be available to replace him, but it seems like the strategy is to make his old pal so sad that he quits. (Call it “self-deporting.”)

The seemingly interminable trade war continued this week: new tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods — fully half of what the U.S. imports from that country — are set to take effect, covering consumer goods like air conditioners and lamps. China hit back with $60 billion in tariffs on U.S. imports, but the NYT reports that Chinese leadership is increasingly at a loss over Trump’s strategy, and is running out of options to retaliate. The NYT asks the big picture question: is this an economic Cold War we’re seeing unfold? (Counterpoint from the Atlantic: No.)

To the Midterms 2k18 Mega-Doppler: According to our advanced forecasts, there are 47 days until the election. Some illuminating stuff from the world of polls and prognostication this week: Bloomberg scoops that internal polling from the Republican National Committee revealed conservatives don’t believe Democrats will take back Congress. (They’ve been listening to their president!)

As history has shown us, voters who think their side is in fine shape to win often don’t show up to vote — bad news for Republicans, who face a disadvantage in these midterms already if historical trends are to be believed.

Relatedly: I have a blog post on MN-3 and whether victory there is slipping out of incumbent GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen’s grasp, with two major election forecasters — the Cook Political Report and the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics — moving the race to the “leans Democratic” column from “toss-up.” It’s uncommon for a veteran incumbent like Paulsen, who’s typically won in the west metro without breaking much of a sweat, to be rated as a clear underdog in his re-election. (The Cook Political Report also moved CD2, where GOP Rep. Jason Lewis has long been tagged as vulnerable Republican, to “leans Democratic” from “toss-up” status.)

So it was a good week, overall, for Paulsen challenger Dean Phillips, even before you account for his viral moment: His campaign released an online ad in which “Bigfoot” attempts to find evidence that Paulsen, apparently so busy meeting with pharma companies that he can’t be found, actually exists. The spot was widely praised by national political types and got written up in progressive media as one of the best ads of the 2018 cycle. No doubt, it was a creative way to try to stick a narrative about an opponent — and had the slick production that’s defined the gelato entrepreneur’s campaign. (Almanac dove into claims made by Republicans that the financing for the ad was not above board.)

The NYT had a cool interactive feature exploring the kinds of places — suburbs, exurbs, rural areas — where the battle for the House will be decided this fall. It featured fun illustrations of these places’ landmarks, and I’ll tell you that the Mall of America, Paul and Babe, and the Jolly Green Giant made the cut.

At MinnPost, be sure to read my colleague Peter Callaghan’s great story about political “trackers,” the iPhone-brandishing junior operatives who show up to every political event in hopes of catching their campaign rivals making a mistake.

On that note: if you’re enjoying the great election-year coverage from the whole MinnPost team — and even this humble newsletter — there is still time (!) to support our fall membership drive. We’re going to be relying on your support to help deliver smart and important stories on these crazy midterm elections, so please consider stepping up with a donation.

This week’s essential reads

President Trump’s move to pull the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal was criticized for plenty of reasons, but many were alarmed that re-imposing sanctions on Iran could throw the global oil market into turmoil. But with sanctions set to take effect, Trump’s Iran gambit appears to be working, for now — leaving experts scratching their heads. The NYT’s Clifford Krauss:

Nearly two months before American oil sanctions go into effect, Iran’s crude exports are plummeting. International oil companies, including those from countries that are still committed to the nuclear agreement, are bailing out of deals with Tehran.

And remarkably, the price of oil in the United States has risen only modestly while gasoline prices have essentially remained flat. The current global oil price hovers around $80 a barrel, $60 below the highs of a decade ago.

“The president is doing the opposite of what the experts said, and it seems to be working out,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research, a research and consulting firm.

Initial signs of a foreign-policy success could benefit Mr. Trump politically as Republicans try to hold on to control of Congress. The president and lawmakers allied with him could point to the administration’s aggressive stand toward Iran as evidence that his unconventional approach to diplomacy has been much more fruitful and far less costly than Democrats have been willing to acknowledge.

Democratic megadonors tend to be Wall Street and Hollywood elite — but not Deborah Simon and Cynthia Simon-Skjodt, sisters who hail from an Indiana shopping mall dynasty. The “Simon sisters” have spent years antagonizing VP Mike Pence in the Hoosier State and have already put $12 million toward boosting Democrats in the midterms. Politico’s Maggie Severns:

The Simon sisters, as these members of Indiana’s most famous business family are called around Indianapolis, are still relatively unknown figures on the national stage. But their turn to big-league giving, mostly to help Democrats retake the Senate, comes after years of donations to progressive nonprofits such as Planned Parenthood and the Anti-Defamation League — and as Democratic donors have gone into hyperdrive after the election of President Donald Trump. …

The Simons, too, were fired up by the success of Trump — and his running mate, friends of the family and Indiana operatives said in interviews with POLITICO. The sisters, who generally avoid media attention, did not respond to requests for comment.

But their focus on progressive causes in Indiana is well known in political circles. The state has long hosted fiery debates over how the government should address social issues such as abortion, gay rights and sexual assault, and the Simon sisters donated millions of dollars to left-leaning nonprofits.

The week in takes

Your weekend longread

When we think of tax havens where rich people go to hide their money, places like Monaco and the Cayman Islands come to mind — not Puerto Rico. Yet, the U.S. territory has become a preferred destination for the super-rich and their fortunes, thanks to loopholes in the island’s tax laws.

GQ’s Jesse Barron reports from gilded gatherings of the one percent in Puerto Rico, a place already beset by severe income inequality, where much time and energy is devoted to complying with the tax haven requirements. Seems like they still make time to have fun!

From the valet station, guests had entered a red-carpeted freight elevator, where bartenders poured them sangria. There were reasons to raise a toast. In 2012, Puerto Rico had passed two laws intended to make the island a “global investment destination.” Act 20 allows corporations that export services from the island to pay only 4 percent tax. Act 22 goes much further: It makes Puerto Rico the only place on U.S. soil where personal income, capital gains, interest, and dividends are untaxed.

In order to qualify for Act 22, individuals must prove to the IRS that they have become bona fide residents of Puerto Rico, without “close contacts” on the mainland. (Most native Puerto Ricans are not eligible for the exemption.) At the party, I heard about a man who had lost his tax-free status because the IRS smoked out a wife back in Dallas. I asked Gold, 63, whether his wife had moved along with him. “Now, this is where the colorful-character shit comes in,” he said. “My third wife, she’s 25. She was in college. I told her, ‘Babe, you gotta go to college in Puerto Rico, I’m really sorry. We have this opportunity that I cannot pass up. You can stay if you want, but if you stay, we gotta get divorced.’ ”

Though the law requires him to spend at least 183 days a year on the island, Gold claimed he spends closer to 250. “Soy boricua,” he said proudly—I am Puerto Rican.

The mainlanders who have relocated are not quite Forbes-list billionaires, who have access to more complex tax strategies than leaving town; they belong to the middle class of the ultra-rich. They are new-money people who might not have their congressman’s cell-phone number back home but who wield influence here in Puerto Rico. “Back in the States, I’m just one of 300 million voters,” James Slazas, a hedge-fund quant, told me at the party. “Here I’ve already met a lot of the key players.”

What to look for next week

As you might imagine, the question looming over the next week is whether or not Ford, or Kavanaugh, or both, will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify about the sexual assault allegations — and when that hearing might happen.

Something else to think about in that vein: the Supreme Court’s October term begins the following week, basically kicking off the upcoming year on the high court. With Kavanaugh unlikely to be on the bench by the 1st of the month, the National Law Journal takes stock of what an eight-member court might look like this term.

With government funding set to run out on Sept. 30, the Senate took a big step to avoid a shutdown, voting this week in favor of a continuing resolution to fund the government until December 7. The House will vote on that package next week. Trump, however, fumed on Twitter about the deal and made clearer than usual that he wants a spending deal with border wall funding, and now. “REPUBLICANS MUST FINALLY GET TOUGH!” @realDonaldTrump proclaimed. So, yeah, start that shutdown clock.

We’ll be following all that and more next week. For now, thanks for sticking with me through this crazy week. Get in touch:

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Comments (34)

  1. Submitted by Curtis Senker on 09/21/2018 - 09:03 am.

    No one takes Ford’s accusation seriously, not even Democrats, and for good reason. Her accusation reminds one of the Collin Ray song about a philandering hubby’ s last line of defense:

    “Well, I ain’t got a witness, and I can’t prove it,
    but that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.”

    It would be quite funny, if not for the fact that an honorable man’s sterling reputation is being dragged through the mud. Judge Kavanaugh’s calm and deliberate handling of this incident proves he has the temperament to be an excellent SCOTUS justice.

    Ms. Ford is being offered an opportunity to have her say on Monday, and either she takes it, or doesn’t. The Senate will not have it’s rules dictated to it, nor should it.

    • Submitted by Eric Snyder on 09/21/2018 - 09:39 am.

      “No one takes Ford’s accusation seriously, not even Democrats…”

      This is factually incorrect. And all that it would take to correct this misinformation would be to examine any liberal or left website, blog or social media page.

      Perhaps you’re mistaking right-wing media for the world?

      • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 09/21/2018 - 10:56 am.

        Oh, there’s plenty of screeching out there, no doubt. But it’s so transparently specious we can all share the wink and nod.

        • Submitted by Eric House on 09/21/2018 - 11:28 am.

          So it is ‘screeching’ and ‘transparently specious’ to believe it highly likely that a drunken high school boy attempted to rape someone? Thanks for clearing that up.

        • Submitted by Henk Tobias on 09/21/2018 - 01:02 pm.

          Yeah Ed Whelan, respected in right wing legal circles, advisor and friend to Bret Kavanaugh, was screeching about some poor middle school teacher being the real culprit. Of course his accusations landed with a loud thud and he had to apologize and withdraw them. Odd that Whelan would make such a desperate move if there was no substance to Dr. Ford’s accusations. Weird really, smells of desperation.

        • Submitted by Brian Gandt on 09/25/2018 - 09:17 am.

          I won’t be sharing a wink and nod on this Curtis. That’s not my world.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/21/2018 - 11:38 am.

        There’s no mistake. It’s all a part of the right wing habit to trivialize sexual assault (heck, it’s like having your car stolen, up on the Range!) or finding it amusing. Look at the President they support with such slavish delight. He admitted to sexual assault, but that’s just brushed aside. Judge Kavanaugh needs no defense because, in their eyes, whatever happened wasn’t that bad.

        We can all remember this the next time Republicans claim that the “War on Women” idea is SO unfair to them. WHy, they love women even without their consent!

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 09/21/2018 - 10:23 am.

      And if the Senate should decide that and she does not testify she will eventually show up on 60 minutes with a credible story (as a college professor, I am sure she has very good verbal communication skills) and no one will challenge her on anything to any extent as she give her story.

      The very best thing for Kavanaugh is to demand an FBI investigation, to require a subpoena to Judge in order to be able to point to the integrity of the process exonerating him as he encounters challenges through out his planned court tenure.

      Or he could just sneak in…

      • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 09/21/2018 - 10:59 am.

        There’s nothing to investigate! She says she doesn’t remember when it happened, where it happened, who else was there. The only witness named says it didn’t happen.

        If I was Kavanaugh, I’d be lawyering up for a fat slander suit.

        • Submitted by Henk Tobias on 09/21/2018 - 01:08 pm.

          If her accusations are so flimsy you’d think he welcome an FBI investigation. Odd that he’s not demanding it. Why isn’t he threatening to sue? Maybe he’d prefer not to for some reason…why would that be? As I mentioned above, why would his friend Ed Whelan try to shift blame to another person? No, there is something being covered up here. Anyone with a brain can see that.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/21/2018 - 01:56 pm.

            The other answer to why he’s not threatening to sue is that he understands the law of defamation, as well as the standard of NY Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964).

            No matter what the Goniff-in-Chief says/rants, there is a constitutional standard for defamation claims.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/22/2018 - 08:29 am.

      Mr. Senker, should women make sure there are plenty of witnesses around when they get assaulted and raped?

      That would clear up a lot of things.

      Or people could just stop making excuses for, and minimizing rape and sexual assault. It would be a pro life thing to do. A lot of us would like to see a moral society, and this would be a good place to start.

      • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 09/23/2018 - 09:15 am.

        If people of both genders started making more decisions based on good character, self respect and good morals it would leave a lot more room for the dedicated sociopaths and reprobates to be identified and stopped.

        Unfortunately, we don’t see a lot of enthusiasm for that from the left.

        For instance, remember the mockery and cat-calls feom the left that followed Vice President Pence’s explaination that he doesn’t have dinner meetings with women unless his wife is present? I’m sure you’ll agree with me, he doesn’t look foolish at all now, does he?

        • Submitted by Robert Lilly on 09/26/2018 - 12:24 pm.

          It’s amazing how conservatives twist logic and facts to suite an agenda.
          “If people of both genders started making more decisions based on good character, self respect and good morals”
          How about starting with who you vote for for the highest office in the land. Do you apply that logic to yourself or just the lefties?
          FYI: People are still making jokes about Pence’s proclivities and I’m still laughing at the right trying to play the moral superiority card.

  2. Submitted by joe smith on 09/21/2018 - 09:28 am.

    I wonder what the sheriff’s up here on the Range would say if I claimed my car was almost stolen 35 years ago and I wanted an investigation? I have a suspicion they would decline. Anybody who spends 2 minuets thinking about a 17 year old boy groping a 15 year old girl at a party, with no witnesses, 35 years ago will understand it is a “he said, she said” situation.
    So other than delay this process (won’t stop nomination) or sully Kavanaugh, it has no value whatsoever. Sad to see this tactic employed by desperate people in America.

    • Submitted by Eric Snyder on 09/21/2018 - 10:31 am.

      Your comment contains several errors in judgment in my view.

      1. The analogy with car theft belittles the often great, life changing and trauma inducing effects of sexual assault. There’s a highly significant moral difference between property crime like car theft and personal violence of such an intimate nature.

      2. “…it is a “he said, she said” situation.” You’re correct in pointing out that this a clash of contradictory testimony. If it were just this and this alone, then you’re point would be well taken. However, a determinative piece of context is missing from your account: The vast majority of sexual assault claims are truthful. Research reveals that false claims range from 2-6% in the US:

      When this is taken into account, Ford’s allegation necessarily must be taken with great seriousness. Contrary to your claim that Ford’s claim ‘has no value whatsoever’, it actually has considerable value in terms of the truth.

      So, you’re left with the following possibilities:

      a) Find exonerating evidence for Kavanaugh.
      b) Revise your prior belief in light of the statistics of sexual assault reporting, and also the fact that no one wants to turn their life upside down for a false claim like this. Ford is in all likelihood telling the truth. (It doesn’t help Kavanaugh’s case that he has a tenuous attachment to the truth when it suits his needs.)

      The only legitimate question right now, barring the appearance of any future exonerating evidence, is whether a violent rape attempt, regardless of age or level of intoxication, matters for a Supreme Court justice. The idea that it does not strikes me as deeply perverse and morally unserious.

      • Submitted by cory johnson on 09/21/2018 - 11:42 am.

        Does innocent until proven mean nothing if the accused isn’t a Democrat? There isn’t one shred of evidence. If this accusation had any credibility it would’ve “leaked” weeks ago.

        • Submitted by Eric Snyder on 09/21/2018 - 11:50 am.

          1. Political party is irrelevant. Further, a court case is far from the only way to determine the truth of something.

          2. “There isn’t one shred of evidence.”

          This is false on its face. We have the evidence of Ford’s claim. Eyewitness testimony is commonly used as evidence.

          3. “If this accusation had any credibility it would’ve “leaked” weeks ago.”

          This is an arbitrary and irrelevant criterion for truth.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/21/2018 - 12:19 pm.

          “Innocent until proven [guilty]” is the standard for a criminal conviction in a court of law. That is the only place where that standard applies.

          This is not a criminal trial. It is a hearing before the US Senate Judiciary Committee. The worst possible outcome for Judge Kavanaugh is that he is not confirmed for one of the most powerful, prestigious jobs in the United States. he will not go to jail, he will not have to pay a fine, and he will not be barred from speaking to the Federalist Society about all the liberals picking on him.

          • Submitted by joe smith on 09/23/2018 - 08:05 am.

            RB, if the standard becomes you can not be employed because a person says you did something 35 years ago, that you deny, we are screwed as a society!

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/23/2018 - 02:56 pm.

            What are you accused of having done, 35 years ago? Pocketed a candy bar at the grocery store? Smoking pot on occasion? Attempted forcible rape?

    • Submitted by Eric House on 09/21/2018 - 10:43 am.

      Sad to see that the defense against sexual assault: is “It didn’t happen, but if it did, maybe it wasn’t him, but even if it was him,, it’s just he said, she said, except for the witness, but really this is just boys being boys…” and never mind the perjury or the mysterious erasing of Kavanaugh’s debts, or the lack of vetting allowed regarding his work in the Bush Administration….

      Why put someone so dodgy on the Supreme Court? Surely the Republican party can find someone who is actually a boy scout, and also has the right politics? Mr. Kavanaugh can’t really the best possible candidate.

      • Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 09/21/2018 - 12:13 pm.

        You ignore his most important qualifications: his view of presidential power in general and his view that a sitting president should not be subject to criminal investigations and civil suits.

    • Submitted by Henk Tobias on 09/21/2018 - 01:10 pm.

      Is the thief being considered for a lifetime appointment to one of the most powerful positions in the country? I’d hope you would report that.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/21/2018 - 03:18 pm.

      “[I]t is a ‘he said, she said’ situation.”

      Why does that end the inquiry? Courts all over America deal with “he said/she said,” or “they said/I said,” “you said/we said” etc. on a daily basis. A lot of litigation is like that. There is no smoking gun, there is no logical train that leads to only one conclusion, there is no spectator in the back of the courtroom standing up and saying “No! It was me! I did it!” It comes down to two or more conflicting stories, and it is up to the finder of fact to sort them out.

      How do they do that? They decide who is the most credible. There are dozens–if not hundreds–of ways of judging credibility. You probably do it yourself, when someone tells you something. Body language, demeanor, things like that.

      One traditional and important way of deciding if a person is telling the truth is whether they have been truthful in the past. In the old days, it used to be routine to instruct a jury that they must disregard the testimony of a witness who lies (“falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus”). That instruction has been much modified so that now the jury is told that they may consider a witness’s false testimony in assessing their credibility, but the underlying logic is the same: a witness who lies about one thing may be lying about everything.

      There is no doubt that Judge Kavanaugh has been lying through his teeth throughout these proceedings. He lied about his role in the nomination of Charles Pickering to the 5th Circuit. He lied about his use of stolen e-mails when strategizing regarding judicial nominees in the Bush White House. As Senator Feingold has said, every time he has appeared before the Senate, he has lied, and lied under oath.

      So “he said/she said?” Whom do you believe? Of course, the Judiciary Committee has already made up its mind and are just participating in this pantomime to placate the female electorate before the midterms (“We let the lady testify!”). It seems almost pointless to ask. Republicans, however, should be made to own their commitment to lying to advance their agenda and further sully public confidence in a crucial institution.

  3. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 09/22/2018 - 07:19 pm.

    Kavanugh’s accuser says it was attempted rape, so there’s no difference at all. There is also a big difference between Keith Ellison running for a limited term public office and a Bret Kavanaugh seeking a lifetime appointment to the highest judicial position in the country. I won’t deny that some have “condemned” Kavanaugh as guilty of what he’s accused of, but it’s a mistake to conflate those who think he’s guilty and those of us who think the confirmation process is being rushed just to make sure the nominee’s sanitized credentials do not receive the exacting scrutiny they deserve.

    • Submitted by joe smith on 09/23/2018 - 09:15 am.

      Jon, how could you know what Kavanaugh was accused of when nobody has seen her letter to Sen Feinstein? Shouldn’t you have some information before you claim attempted rape? BTW, Clinton’s accusers are on record with their complaints and Bill Clinton even paid off an accuser.

    • Submitted by Curtis Senker on 09/23/2018 - 09:20 am.

      If I understand it, you’re saying it’s OK to give abusive politicians a temporary pass as long as they have to give their office up at some point.

      That’s a fascinating suggestion.

      What’s the cut off date; 4 years? 8? 20? Is it arbitrarily set by the mob as conditions may merit?

      • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 09/23/2018 - 07:08 pm.

        Well, the “mob” elected the current occupant despite his past as a scammer, a liar and sexual predator. He gets a four year “pass” as you put it before the voters can reconsider their poor choice.

        I’ve read that Ford has described an attempted rape. Anyone, whatever happened, I’m sure we’ll know more if and when she testifies.

  4. Submitted by Curtis Senker on 09/23/2018 - 09:51 am.

    From today’s StarTrib:

    “The lawyer for a woman who Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser has said attended the 1980s party at which he allegedly molested her has told Senate Republican investigators that the woman doesn’t recall such a gathering or know the Supreme Court nominee.

    The Washington Post reports Saturday that Christine Blasey Ford told them that Leland Keyser was at that high school party.”

    Well, now both of supposed witnesses named by Ford say it never happened.

    These revelations make it clear that should Ford decide to appear before the Senate, her testimony will largely consist of “on the advice of my attorney, and under my 5th amendment rights, I decline to answer that”.

    I wonder if any of the prominent leftists that have been slandering judge Kavanaugh to any microphone that stands still will have the decency to apologize.

  5. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/23/2018 - 02:55 pm.

    Judge Kavanaugh is not accused of “teenage groping.” He is accused of attempted rape.

    Do you get the distinction? Do you also not understand that the accusations against President Clinton were dealt with decades ago, and your attempt to dredge them up reeks of either moral blindness or desperation?

  6. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 09/24/2018 - 08:46 am.

    Hmm..Another woman has come forward. Apparently Republicans knew about it last week and our wonderful “moral” Republican leaders, rather than investigate the new allegations, tried to SPEED UP the process. What is the big hurry? They held back Obama’s nominee for a year. Maybe they know something that we don’t. I guarantee there will be another allegation for the end of the week.

  7. Submitted by John OConnor on 09/25/2018 - 03:46 pm.

    The Democrats want to postpone the vote on what’s his name until after the mid-terms in hopes that they can take the Senate and get control of the Judiciary Committee. I hope it works. We need a balanced court, not one that is lopsided in either direction. On the other hand, I don’t think what’s his name is a serial rapist like Cosby and Weinstein. Just a dumb jock (like most of us guys).

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