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Monday, September 16, 2019

Republicans Lash Out; McConnell Claims, 'This Is Not NORMAL Political Behavior'

GOP Leaders Decry Kavanaugh Attacks, GOP Strikes Back!

Kavanaugh attacks see top Republicans lash out; McConnell claims 'this is not normal'

 Alex Pappas

Senate Republican leaders on Monday unloaded on Democrats over their revived efforts to push college-era allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accusing them of engaging in “not normal political behavior.”
McConnell, R-Ky., took to the Senate floor Monday afternoon to decry what he described as a familiar “pattern” involving Kavanaugh allegations: “Shoot first, correct the facts later.”
He accused Democrats of “rushing to exploit” the new accusations and “hysterically” demanding his impeachment, but maintained that a majority of senators were right to confirm him last year. He also accused Democrats of deploying the “politics of personal destruction” in their handling of both sets of allegations.
“It’s just as transparent and self-serving today,” McConnell said. In his blistering floor speech, he went on to rebuke several Senate Democrats for a recent brief that urged the Supreme Court to “heal itself” or face restructuring – which was widely seen as a threat of court-packing.

“This is not normal political behavior,” McConnell said.
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the Judiciary Committee chairman who mounted one of the most passionate defenses of Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing, called the attacks “beyond the pale.”
“My heart goes out to Justice Kavanaugh’s family for being forced to endure this ridiculous treatment once again,” he tweeted.
Many of the Democrats seeking to unseat President Trump in 2020 over the weekend released statements calling for Congress to impeach Kavanaugh, citing The New York Times' reporting of a disputed allegation of sexual misconduct. But Graham insisted that wouldn't happen.
“As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I promise you Justice Kavanaugh will not be impeached over these scurrilous accusations,” Graham tweeted.
Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, who led the Judiciary Committee during the Kavanaugh hearings, said his office never "received an allegation against Kavanaugh like the one referenced in the report over the weekend."
"We now have an uncorroborated accusation, rooted only in unnamed sources, with no direct knowledge of the event, and that the alleged victim doesn’t even remember," Grassley said. "Since when did that become something 'fit to print' by the supposed American paper of record?"
By late Sunday, the paper had revised its portrayed blockbuster story to include the fact that several friends of the alleged victim said she told them she did not recall the reported sexual assault in question.
President Trump repeatedly ripped the paper on Monday.
"The New York Times should close its doors and throw away the keys," he tweeted Monday afternoon, reacting to quotes from Fox News' Greg Gutfeld. "The women mentioned in the Kavanaugh story said she didn’t even remember the event."
As for Democrats, California Sen. Kamala Harris, who said over the weekend that Kavanaugh “must be impeached,” did not back down in a new tweet Monday, writing: “The reality of Kavanaugh's confirmation process is that it lacked any integrity — there has never been a meaningful investigation into these allegations. We need the truth.”
The Times piece by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, adapted from their forthcoming book, asserted that a Kavanaugh classmate, Clinton-connected nonprofit CEO Max Stier, “saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.”
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro tweeted in response: “It’s more clear than ever that Brett Kavanaugh lied under oath. He should be impeached. And Congress should review the failure of the Department of Justice to properly investigate the matter.”
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote: “Last year the Kavanaugh nomination was rammed through the Senate without a thorough examination of the allegations against him. Confirmation is not exoneration, and these newest revelations are disturbing. Like the man who appointed him, Kavanaugh should be impeached.”
While 2020 Democrats did not back down from their impeachment calls, despite the Times revision, top Democrats in Congress appeared less eager.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., seemed to brush off his party's calls to launch impeachment proceedings against Kavanaugh, saying on a radio show Monday: “We have our hands full with impeaching the president right now.”
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters: “I am saying nothing on Kavanaugh right now.”
Fox News’ Judson Berger, Chad Pergram and Gregory Re contributed to this report.

ON OFFENSE: Trump Eyes Path To EXPAND 2016 Victory Map, FLIP Dem-Leaning States

New Mexico called ripe target because president has a "good story to tell" about job creation there

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the El Paso County Coliseum, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) ** FILE **
President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the El Paso County Coliseum, Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Tom Howell Jr.

The Trump 2020 campaign noticed something interesting while crunching data from its February rally in El Paso: A significant percentage of the crowd crossed into Texas from Las Cruces, New Mexico, including plenty of women and Hispanics, who will be pivotal to the president’s reelection prospects.
“That piqued our interest in New Mexico,” said Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s director of communications.
Mr. Trump will rally with supporters outside Albuquerque, the state’s largest city, on Monday as part of a bid to expand his 2016 victory map and win states that have tilted blue in recent presidential cycles.
Besides New Mexico, the campaign is eyeing New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada and even Oregon, which has a libertarian streak and, the Trump team theorizes, could be stocked with voters sick of hyper-PC antics in liberal Portland.
Mr. Trump’s critics say his campaign is looking for insurance against leaking support in the Upper Midwest and elsewhere, though the campaign insists that’s not the case. The campaign says its operations in big states such as Ohio and Michigan are well-funded, so they are going to reach for more.
“Why would you not? If you think you can be competitive and win in any given state, why would you not take a shot at it?” Mr. Murtaugh said.
The campaign says New Mexico is a ripe target because Mr. Trump has a “good story to tell” about job creation there, especially in the petroleum industry.
Michael Glassner, chief operating officer of the Trump campaign organization, cited an “economic boom” in New Mexico when he announced the rally last week. He said the state has added 34,000 jobs since Mr. Trump took office.
The Rio Rancho event will be Mr. Trump’s third rally in New Mexico, though his first since 2016.
Analysts said Mr. Trump faces an uphill battle in turning the state red.
He lost New Mexico to Democrat Hillary Clinton by 8 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election, and Barack Obama won it comfortably in each of his presidential elections.
“Back in 2000 and 2004, New Mexico was truly a battleground state in which George Bush had two very close elections, one of which he won and one of which he lost. However, since then, the Democratic presidential candidates have won in New Mexico by very comfortable margins,” said Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc. in Albuquerque.
He said Mr. Trump’s fortunes will hinge on Hispanics, who account for about a third of the New Mexico vote in presidential cycles. As it stands, about 7 in 10 typically vote for the Democratic candidate, Mr. Sanderoff said.
His final polling from the 2016 cycle suggested that Mr. Trump grabbed 27% of the Hispanic vote and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate, got 14%.
Mr. Trump will have to reel in some of that Johnson share in 2020 and find a way to garner 40% of the Hispanic vote to have a shot at winning New Mexico, Mr. Sanderoff said.
“Many Hispanics are liberal on economic issues and more conservative on social issues such as abortion,” he said. “I think the Trump campaign will attempt to sway the Hispanics on social issues and border security.”
He is right about the strategy.
The Trump team says it is confident that the president’s pro-life record is a winner with Hispanics, and they insist Mr. Trump can sway members of the bloc by posing a simple question: If you or your family members immigrated to the U.S. legally, shouldn’t others?
“They say, ‘Damn right,’” said Mr. Murtaugh. “We think significant numbers support the president’s approach to immigration, contrary to what Democrats believe.”
The Trump campaign is hoping to make inroads during National Hispanic Heritage Month. It held a training session Thursday for volunteers in Houston ahead of the Democratic primary debate in the city, and it plans to follow up Mr. Trump’s rally with a “Vamos to Victory” event in Albuquerque on Tuesday.
Campaign manager Brad Parscale and other top campaign figures will appear at the session.
Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, a Hispanic Democrat running for an open Senate seat in New Mexico, responded to the announcement of the president’s rally in Rio Rancho by tweeting that “his values are not our values.”
The Democratic National Committee, meanwhile, said it has no intention of losing steam in New Mexico after a good showing in the midterm elections.
“Last cycle, Democrats crushed Republicans in New Mexico because voters are fed up with President Trump’s toxic health care agenda and broken promises,” said David Bergstein, the DNC’s spokesman on battleground states. “We take nothing for granted, but this GOP strategy looks like they’re concerned about a realistic pathway to 270 electoral votes.”

NYT UPDATES Kavanaugh 'BOMBSHELL' To Note Accuser Doesn't RECALL Alleged Assault


NYT forced to run editor's letter, notes that new accuser doesn't recall alleged assault

 Gregg Re

The New York Times suddenly made a major revision to a supposed bombshell piece late Sunday concerning a resurfaced allegation of sexual assault by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — hours after virtually all 2020 Democratic presidential candidates had cited the original article as a reason to impeach Kavanaugh.
The update included the significant detail that several friends of the alleged victim said she did not recall the purported sexual assault in question at all. The Times also stated for the first time that the alleged victim refused to be interviewed, and has made no comment about the episode.
The only firsthand statement concerning the supposed attack in the original piece, which was published on Saturday, came from a Clinton-connected lawyer who claimed to have witnessed it.
The Times' revision says: "Editors' Note: An earlier version of this article, which was adapted from a forthcoming book, did not include one element of the book's account regarding an assertion by a Yale classmate that friends of Brett Kavanaugh pushed his penis into the hand of a female student at a drunken dorm party. The book reports that the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident. That information has been added to the article."
The update came only after The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway, who reviewed an advance copy of the book, first flagged the article's omission on Twitter — prompting other commentators to press the issue.
The Times did not immediately respond to an email from Fox News seeking comment.
The paper's editors' note, meanwhile, did little to stem a torrent of criticism late Sunday.
"Should I be surprised at this point that the NYT would make such an unforgivable oversight?"
— Mark Hemingway
"Should I be surprised at this point that the NYT would make such an unforgivable oversight?" asked RealClearInvestigations' Mark Hemingway.
Wrote the Washington Examiner's Jerry Dunleavy: "Crazy how the 'one element' that wasn’t included in the original article was the part where the alleged victim’s friends said she doesn’t remember it happening."
This undated photo shows Deborah Ramirez. Her uncorroborated allegations that Kavanaugh had exposed himself to her in college – which came after she admitted to classmates that she was unsure Kavanaugh was the culprit, and after she spent several days talking to a lawyer – were reported Sept. 23, 2018, by The New Yorker magazine. (Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence via AP)
This undated photo shows Deborah Ramirez. Her uncorroborated allegations that Kavanaugh had exposed himself to her in college – which came after she admitted to classmates that she was unsure Kavanaugh was the culprit, and after she spent several days talking to a lawyer – were reported Sept. 23, 2018, by The New Yorker magazine. (Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence via AP)
"It’s important to point out that this correction almost certainly would have never occurred if conservative media folks like @MZHemingway  and others hadn’t obtained the copy of the actual book itself the same day the excerpt/article was released," author James Hasson said.
Throughout the day on Sunday, Kamala HarrisElizabeth WarrenBernie SandersBeto O'RourkeCory Booker and Julian Castro, among others, declared that Kavanaugh "must be impeached," citing the allegation.
The revitalized, longshot push to get Kavanaugh removed from the high court came as Democrats' apparent effort to impeach President Trump has largely stalled. Trump, for his part, suggested Sunday that Kavanaugh should sue for defamation.
The Times piece by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, adapted from their forthcoming book, asserted that a Kavanaugh classmate, Clinton-connected nonprofit CEO Max Stier, "saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student."
The Times did not mention Stier's work as a Clinton defense attorney, or Stier's legal battles with Kavanaugh during the Whitewater investigation, and simply called him a "respected thought leader."
According to the Times, Stier "notified senators and the FBI about this account" last year during the Kavanaugh hearings, "but the FBI did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly."
However, the Times' article also conspicuously did not mention that Pogrebin and Kelly's book found that the female student in question had denied any knowledge of the alleged episode.
"The book notes, quietly, that the woman Max Stier named as having been supposedly victimized by Kavanaugh and friends denies any memory of the alleged event," observed Mollie Hemingway. "Seems, I don’t know, significant."
The book reads: "[Tracy] Harmon, whose surname is now Harmon Joyce, has also refused to discuss the incident, though several of her friends said she does not recall it."
"Omitting these facts from the @nytimes story is one of worst cases of journalistic malpractice that I can recall," wrote the National Review's Washington correspondent, John McCormack, on Twitter.
McCormack wrote separately: "If Kavanaugh’s 'friends pushed his penis,' then isn’t it an allegation of wrongdoing against Kavanaugh’s 'friends,' not Kavanaugh himself? Surely even a modern liberal Yalie who’s been to one of those weird non-sexual 'naked parties' would recognize both the female student and Kavanaugh are both alleged victims in this alleged incident, barring an additional allegation that a college-aged Kavanaugh asked his 'friends' to 'push his penis.'"
The Times went on to note in the article that it had "corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Mr. Stier," but the article apparently meant only that the Times had corroborated that Stier made his claim to the FBI. No first-hand corroboration of the alleged episode was apparently obtained.
Nevertheless, Democrats announced a new effort to topple Kavanaugh. Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono -- who infamously said last year that Kavanaugh did not deserve a fair hearing because he might be pro-life -- said the Senate Judiciary Committee should begin an impeachment inquiry to determine whether Kavanaugh lied to Congress.
Impeaching Kavanaugh would require a majority vote in the Democratic-controlled House, and a highly unlikely two-thirds vote in the GOP-majority Senate would then be needed to remove him from the bench. No Supreme Court justice or president has ever been convicted by the Senate, although eight lower-level federal judges have been.
The long odds didn't stop 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls from joining in on the effort.
"I sat through those hearings," Harris wrote on Twitter. "Brett Kavanaugh lied to the U.S. Senate and most importantly to the American people. He was put on the Court through a sham process and his place on the Court is an insult to the pursuit of truth and justice. He must be impeached."
During the hearings, Harris strongly implied that she knew Kavanaugh had improperly discussed Special Counsel Robert Mueller's then-ongoing probe with a Trump-connected lawyer.
Harris provided no evidence for the bombshell insinuation, which went viral on social media and sent the hearing room into stunned silence, even as she directly accused Kavanaugh of lying under oath.
Castro and Warren echoed that sentiment and said Kavanaugh had committed perjury.
"It’s more clear than ever that Brett Kavanaugh lied under oath," Castro wrote. "He should be impeached. And Congress should review the failure of the Department of Justice to properly investigate the matter."
Warren wrote: "Last year the Kavanaugh nomination was rammed through the Senate without a thorough examination of the allegations against him. Confirmation is not exoneration, and these newest revelations are disturbing. Like the man who appointed him, Kavanaugh should be impeached."
O'Rourke claimed to "know" that Kavanaugh had lied under oath, and falsely said that the new accuser was not known to Senate Democrats or the FBI last year.
"Yesterday, we learned of another accusation against Brett Kavanaugh—one we didn't find out about before he was confirmed because the Senate forced the F.B.I. to rush its investigation to save his nomination," O'Rourke said. "We know he lied under oath. He should be impeached."
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., tweeted in part, "This new allegation and additional corroborating evidence adds to a long list of reasons why Brett Kavanaugh should not be a Supreme Court justice. I stand with survivors and countless other Americans in calling for impeachment proceedings to begin."
Amy Klobuchar stopped short of calling for impeachment, and instead posted a picture of Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford with the words, "Let us never forget what courage looks like."
Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, said he backed getting rid of Kavanaugh by any legal means available: "The revelations today confirm what we already knew: During his hearing, Kavanaugh faced credible accusations and likely lied to Congress. I support any appropriate constitutional mechanism to hold him accountable."
As the calls mounted, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., shot back Sunday afternoon on Twitter -- and made clear that Kavanaugh wasn't going anywhere.
"The far left’s willingness to seize on completely uncorroborated and unsubstantiated allegations during last year’s confirmation process was a dark and embarrassing chapter for the Senate," McConnell wrote.
He added: "Fortunately a majority of Senators and the American people rallied behind timeless principles such as due process and the presumption of innocence. I look forward to many years of service to come from Justice Kavanaugh."
The Times' piece also stated that well before Kavanaugh became a federal judge, "at least seven people" had heard about how he allegedly exposed himself to Deborah Ramirez at a party.
Ramirez had called classmates at Yale seeking corroboration for her story, and even told some of her classmates that she could not remember the culprit in the alleged episode -- before changing her mind and publicly blaming Kavanaugh "after six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney," the New Yorker reported last year in a widely derided piece.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, then led by Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote in an executive summary of its investigation that it contacted Ramirez’s counsel "seven times seeking evidence to support claims made in the New Yorker," but that "Ms. Ramirez produced nothing in response and refused a Committee request for an interview."
Late Sunday, Grassley's office called out the Times for omitting key details in the story published this weekend.
"@NYTimes did not contact Sen. Grassley’s office for this story. If they had, we would've reminded them of a few key public facts they omitted," Grassley's team wrote. "Despite 7 attempts by staff, Ms. Ramirez' lawyers declined to provide documentary evidence referenced in the article/witness accounts to support the claims. They also declined invitations for Ms. Ramirez to speak with committee investigators or to provide a written statement."
Additionally, the FBI separately reached out to nearly a dozen individuals to corroborate the allegations by Ford and Ramirez, and ultimately spoke to ten individuals and two eyewitnesses, but apparently found no corroboration.
The agency's investigation began after then-Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., called for a one-week delay in Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings so an independent agency could look into the claims against him. Flake said the FBI's probe needed to be limited in length to avoid derailing the proceedings with endless claims and probes going back to Kavanaugh's high school years.
Kavanaugh, predicted by Democrats during his confirmation process to be a hardline conservative, often sided with liberal justices during the Supreme Court's last term.
The president, meanwhile, accused the media of trying to influence Kavanaugh. He also went on to say that Kavanaugh should go on the offensive and take on the media for false statements.
"Brett Kavanaugh should start suing people for libel, or the Justice Department should come to his rescue. The lies being told about him are unbelievable. False Accusations without recrimination. When does it stop? They are trying to influence his opinions. Can’t let that happen!" he tweeted.
Grassley sent several criminal referrals to the Justice Department related to alleged lies submitted to Senate investigators during Kavanaugh's confirmation process -- which could be what the president meant when he wrote Sunday that the DOJ "should come to [Kavanuagh's] rescue."
One of those referrals was for now-disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti and one of his clients, Julie Swetnick, regarding a potential "conspiracy" to provide false statements to Congress and obstruct its investigation. Swetnick's credibility took a hit as she changed her story about Kavanaugh's purported gang-rape trains, and her ex-boyfriend went public to say she was known for "exaggerating everything."
Swetnick and Ramirez were just two of several women who had accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct during his confirmation process. Christine Blasey Ford notably testified that Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her at a party when they were teens, and dubiously asserted that the memory was "indelible" in her "hippocampus" -- although no witnesses could corroborate her ever-changing story -- even her close lifelong friend, Leland Keyser, who Ford said had attended the party.
Keyser, according to the Times reporters' new book, did not believe Ford's story -- and refused to change her mind, despite pressure from progressive activists and Ford's friends.
"It just didn't make any sense," Keyser said, referring to Ford's explanation of how she was assaulted at a party that Keyser attended, but could not recall how she got home.
Ford's attorney, Debra Katz, was quoted in a new book as saying that Ford was motivated to come forward in part by a desire to tag Kavanaugh's reputation with an "asterisk" before he could start ruling on abortion-related cases.
"In the aftermath of these hearings, I believe that Christine’s testimony brought about more good than the harm misogynist Republicans caused by allowing Kavanaugh on the court," Katz said. "He will always have an asterisk next to his name. When he takes a scalpel to Roe v. Wade, we will know who he is, we know his character, and we know what motivates him, and that is important.
"It is important that we know, and that is part of what motivated Christine."
The Federalist reported last week that Ford's father privately supported Kavanaugh's confirmation, and approached Ed Kavanaugh on a golf course to make his support clear.
Some claims that surfaced during Kavanaugh's confirmation fell apart within days. For example, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., received a call from an anonymous constituent who claimed that in 1985, two "heavily inebriated men" referred to as "Brett and Mark" had sexually assaulted a friend of hers on a boat.
The Twitter account belonging to the accuser apparently advocated for a military coup against the Trump administration. The constituent recanted the sexual assault claim on the social media site days later.
Fox News' Andrew Craft in Plano, Texas, Chad Pergram, and Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.