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kavanaugh-ford hearing
September 28, 2018

When Christine Blasey Ford decided to speak out, others did, too.

Calls to the National Sexual Assault Hotline saw a 201 percent spike Thursday while Ford gave an emotional testimony relaying her alleged sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network spokeswoman Sara McGovern told CNN.

Numbers have been increasing over the past week, McGovern said, with a 57 percent uptick last weekend. Ford said last week she'd be willing to testify in the next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and The New Yorker published allegations from a second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, on Sunday.

RAINN, which oversees the National Sexual Assault Hotline, often sees increases like this when stories of sexual assault are prominently featured in the news, McGovern said. "Following the (Harvey) Weinstein case and the #MeToo movement, the hotline saw a 46 percent increase," she told CNN.

RAINN's hotline services include both a phone line to call and an online chat. Marianne Dodson

September 28, 2018

Never tweet, the wisdom goes — but it's too late for Matt Schlapp.

During the Brett Kavanaugh Senate hearings Thursday, Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, retweeted a picture of Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), writing, "Look at this photo conservative voters in WV, ND, IN, FL, MO, MT, MI, TN, AZ, NV." The picture was taken as Democratic senators questioned Kavanaugh on allegations that he groped and tried to rape Christine Blasey Ford when he was in high school. Ford testified Thursday that she was "100 percent" sure Kavanaugh perpetrated the assault, while Kavanaugh strongly denied the allegations.

But as the photo Schlapp shared happens to focus solely on the three Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee who are people of color, he was quickly slammed for what critics argued was a racist dog-whistle.

Conservative Bill Kristol, the editor-at-large of The Weekly Standard, said Schlapp's tweet "seems to be a straight-up appeal to bigotry." Kristol also suggested that the tweet was especially outrageous because Schlapp's wife is Mercedes Schlapp, the White House's director of strategic communications. Meanwhile, Federalist contributor Tom Nichols, a Republican, also found the tweet to be questionable, writing, "I wonder what it is about this photo Schlapp finds so alarming."

Schlapp tried to defend himself by saying that the racial implications were unintentional, arguing he was simply sharing "a photo of three senators who tried to destroy my friend" and saying that "if the photo had included [Democratic Sen. Dianne] Feinstein it would have been even better." But not everyone bought this explanation, with The Weekly Standard's deputy managing editor, Kelly Jane Torrance, saying she found it "entirely unconvincing." Brendan Morrow

September 28, 2018

Some people think Brett Kavanaugh was telling the truth during his Thursday Senate hearing. Others believe his accuser Christine Blasey Ford. For those who can't decide, Fox News' Geraldo Rivera has a solution.

On Thursday, Ford emotionally relayed a story to the Senate Judiciary Committee accusing the Supreme Court nominee of sexually assaulting her. Kavanaugh vehemently denied her story to the committee just hours later. And Rivera thinks they "both were speaking their truth," he said in a Friday tweet.

Like some Republicans who believed Kavanaugh but also found Ford credible, that leaves Rivera in a sticky spot. But he's got a simple fix: "Tie goes to the nominee," Rivera tweeted.

Any conflicted Republicans seemed to follow Rivera's new rule, with Sen. Jeff Flake's (R-Ariz.) Friday promise to vote in favor of Kavanaugh all but guaranteeing the nomination will move to a full Senate vote. Kathryn Krawczyk

September 28, 2018

Democrats marched out of a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting in protest Friday, calling the entire process "unfair."

Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) stood up and left the room after Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Christine Blasey Ford did not meet the required "burden of proof" during her testimony Thursday and that Republicans planned to move forward as planned.

Ford testified that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school in the 1980s, which Kavanaugh strongly refuted in his own testimony. Senate Republicans said that they had given Ford sufficient time and respect, and that they would proceed to vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation.

When voting on a motion to schedule the confirmation vote for 1:30 p.m. ET, Hirono burst out: "I strongly object. This is just totally ridiculous. What a railroad job. My answer is no, no, no!" Harris, along with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) remained silent, while Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called it a "violation" of the committee's customs.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), upon hearing the news that potential GOP swing vote Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) would support Kavanaugh, reportedly choked up and said, "Oh f--k." Speaking outside the hearing room, Harris condemned Republicans as unjustly pushing through, exploiting the "tyranny of the majority" to confirm Kavanaugh through "raw power." Watch the moment below, via The Daily Beast. Summer Meza

September 28, 2018

The White House is coming out in full force to defend Brett Kavanaugh the morning after Thursday's historic Senate hearing.

In an interview with CBS This Morning on Friday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Christine Blasey Ford was "very compelling and very sympathetic" when she spoke on Capitol Hill, telling the anchors she has "goosebumps right now" recalling the testimony. But Conway still doesn't think Ford is right when she says she is "100 percent" certain it was Kavanaugh who groped her and attempted to rape her at a high school party.

Conway said it seems Ford "absolutely" was sexually assaulted, but not by Kavanaugh. "[Kavanaugh], and the rest of us, mean her no ill will," she said. "But he wasn't there." On Thursday, Ford repeatedly testified that there is no way she confused Kavanaugh with someone else, citing "basic memory functions." Kavanaugh has denied the allegations and has also argued that Ford is confused.

Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made the same argument on Today using similar language. Like Conway, she called the testimony "very compelling" but said it "lacked any evidence." Watch a portion of Conway's interview on CBS This Morning below. Brendan Morrow

September 28, 2018

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces his first vote Friday morning and can't be seated on the Supreme Court before Tuesday, but after Thursday's contentious hearings on one of the sexual assault allegations against him, there are already whispers of future impeachment hearings. "In a foreshadowing of how much uglier U.S. politics could get, top Democratic operatives are already talking about impeachment of Brett Kavanaugh as a 2020 campaign issue if he gets confirmed to the Supreme Court," says Axios' Mike Allen.

Allen doesn't quote any of these operatives by name, but Brian Fallon, spokesman for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign and head of anti-Kavanaugh group Demand Justice, did tweet Thursday night that if Republicans push through the confirmation, "Kavanaugh will not serve for life." A top Republican tells Allen that President Trump will likely start taking up his own impeachment to drum up support before the midterms. "Impeachment of Trump and Kav will be an animating issue on both sides," said a "veteran Republican close to Senate leaders and the White House." Take that as you see fit.

If you're wondering how a Democratic Congress might impeach Kavanaugh, Vox has an explainer. Allen ends on a perhaps appropriately dark note:

If Kavanaugh is confirmed, Democrats could be expected to question the legitimacy of his swing Supreme Court vote. Congress degraded itself yesterday. And the Trump White House of course has serious credibility issues. So the United States of America will be three-for-three in diminished trust in its branches of government. [Axios]

You can read more at Axios and Vox. Peter Weber

September 28, 2018

When Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh told Fox News he never drank to excess, several of his Yale classmates were so outraged they decided to set the record straight. One of them, Lynne Brookes, also accepted Chris Cuomo's invitation to join him on CNN after Kavanaugh repeated his claim of relative sobriety under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Cuomo asked Brookes — a Republican who admires Kavanaugh's judicial record — why she changed her mind.

"I'll tell you, Chris, I watched the whole hearing, and a number of my Yale colleagues and I were extremely disappointed in Brett Kavanaugh's characterization of himself and the way that he evaded his excessive drinking question" and "was lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee today," Brookes said. "There is no doubt in my mind that while at Yale, he was a big partier, often drank to excess, and there had to be a number of nights where he does not remember." She said she can "almost guarantee" he doesn't remember a night she witnessed where he was "stumbling drunk, in a ridiculous costume, saying really dumb things" to pledge a fraternity.

Brookes also dismissed Kavanaugh's defense that his studies and sports precluded heavy drinking, noting she played two varsity sports. "I studied really hard, too," she said. "I went to Wharton business school, I did very well at Yale, I also drank to excess many nights with Brett Kavanaugh." She recounted a party where Kavanaugh and Chris Dudley, one of his character witnesses, humiliated a female student by barging in on her in a compromising position.

"I'm not saying it's wrong that he drank," Cuomo concluded after the interview, but "if he's going to be the ultimate judge of truth in our society, a Supreme Court justice, and at 53 years old he's going to lie about what he did when he was 15, what else will he lie about?" Watch below. Peter Weber

September 28, 2018

Not everyone was as impressed with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's testimony Thursday as the man who nominated him, President Trump. Hours after the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing adjourned and a Friday morning confirmation vote affirmed, the American Bar Association urged the Senate to hit pause until after an FBI investigation and the prominent Jesuit magazine America rescinded its endorsement of Kavanaugh and urged his nomination withdrawn.

America's editors and the ABA gave similar reasons: Christine Blasey Ford's assault testimony was credible enough to merit a full investigation, and America needs to have confidence in the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh, a Catholic who attended a Jesuit high school, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), his most impassioned supporter, both held up the ABA's unanimous well-qualified rating in Thursday's hearing as a marker of his character and judgment.

"The basic principles that underscore the Senate's constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI," ABA president Robert Carlson wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee. "Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate's reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court."

America's editors said while they have "no special insight into who is telling the truth," Kavanaugh's nomination "is no longer in the best interests of the country." There are other jurists with "his legal credentials and his reputation as a committed textualist" but whose confirmation wouldn't signal to women that their sexual assault allegations against powerful men don't merit serious investigation, the editorial says. "Judge Kavanaugh continues to enjoy a legal presumption of innocence," but "there is no presumption of confirmability. The best of the bad resolutions available in this dilemma is for Judge Kavanaugh's nomination to be withdrawn." Read the entire editorial at America. Peter Weber

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