President Trump said Monday he wants the FBI to expand the scope of its investigation into Brett Kavanaugh, even as he said the Supreme Court nominee had been treated unfairly by the media, and promised the bureau would work quickly to complete its probe.
President Donald Trump: “I want them to do a very comprehensive investigation, whatever that means according to the senators and the Republicans and the Republican majority. I want them to do that. I want it to be comprehensive.”
The Washington Post reports the slightly expanded investigation will now include a look into allegations by a third Kavanaugh accuser—Julie Swetnick—who says she observed Kavanaugh at high school parties in the 1980s joining efforts to inebriate girls so they could be gang-raped. The FBI won’t have much time to complete its work; Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s planning a vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation by the end of the week.
This comes as NBC News is reporting Kavanaugh and his team worked behind the scenes to refute claims of sexual misconduct by his former Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez—before her claims went public. Ramirez told The New Yorker Kavanaugh exposed himself to her by thrusting his genitals in her face at a drunken dorm party when they were both freshmen. NBC reports Kavanaugh personally contacted former classmates ahead of publication by The New Yorker, urging them to go on the record in his defense. This contradicts Kavanaugh’s sworn testimony to Republican Orrin Hatch at Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that he only learned about Ramirez’s allegations from The New Yorker article.
Meanwhile, a former classmate of Kavanaugh said Monday that he watched as a drunken Brett Kavanaugh got into a bar fight near the campus of Yale after the pair attended a reggae concert in 1985. This is Chad Ludington, speaking on CNN.
Chad Ludington: “Brett said, '[bleep] you,' or something to that effect, and threw the ice at the guy. And the guy, understandably, even though he had been aggressive in his response, found that was a little one step too far, so he took a swing at Brett, and then they were kind of, you know, two guys fighting.”
The FBI is investigating the 1985 bar fight, in which Kavanaugh was questioned by New Haven police but not arrested.
Protests against Kavanaugh’s nomination continue to rage across the country. In West Virginia, 17 women gathered inside the Charleston, West Virginia, office of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin Monday, saying they’ll occupy the space until Manchin pledges to vote “no” on Kavanaugh’s confirmation. At Washington, D.C.’s National Airport, women survivors of sexual assault tried to speak with Senator Mitch McConnell Monday as he walked across a terminal, but were ignored by the Republican majority leader.
Protester 1: “Senator McConnell, why do women have to bear their whole soul to you until their whole [inaudible]?”
Protester 2: “How many stories of sexual violence do you need to hear in order to believe women?”
In New York City, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Yale Club in Manhattan Monday before marching to Grand Central Station to protest Kavanaugh’s nomination. This is Tre Kwon, an activist with the New York State Nurses Association and editor of Left Voice.
Tre Kwon: “Some of us recall from the news Anita Hill 15 years ago. We are here to make sure another Anita Hill does not go down. She was dissected in front of a stony-faced wall of white men. She was humiliated doubly, first with the sexist harassment from Clarence Thomas and again by a system that caps women and does not allow the truth to be heard and does not allow truth to be spoken to power. We are here today to make sure that does not happen again.”
President Trump is under fire for belittling women reporters at Monday’s press conference in the Rose Garden. This is President Trump calling on ABC News’s Cecilia Vega for the first question of the news conference.
President Donald Trump: “OK, question? Yeah, go ahead. Sure. She’s shocked that I picked her. She’s like in a state of shock.”
Cecilia Vega: “I’m not. Thank you, Mr. President.”
President Donald Trump: “That’s OK. I know you’re not thinking. You never do.”
Cecilia Vega: “I’m sorry?”
President Donald Trump: “No, go ahead.”
The White House has come under fire for editing the transcript of his comments to say “I know you’re not thanking” instead of “thinking.”
The Supreme Court began a new session on Monday amid the ongoing saga of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the open ninth seat on the bench. The court’s opening case involves the preservation of an endangered frog species—the dusky gopher—pitting the government against the timber giant Weyerhaeuser, which is seeking to develop land that has been designated as “critical habitat” for the frog. The court also rejected an appeal to review a 2017 case upholding the legality of a ban on new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon—a decision celebrated by environmental and Native American groups who live in the protected area.
In Indonesia, the death toll from Friday’s massive earthquake and tsunami is at 1,234 and is expected to continue rising, as the United Nations’ humanitarian organization said more than 190,000 people are in urgent need of aid. Among the dead are 34 students whose bodies were found buried Monday after a landslide engulfed their church. Another 52 at the site remain missing. Critics say officials were caught off guard by the unexpected strength of a tsunami resulting from a 7.5 magnitude quake and called off a tsunami warning too early.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said Monday it fired a barrage of missiles into eastern Syria in retaliation for the deadly attack in Ahvaz last month. Iran believes the Ahvaz attack, which killed 29 people and wounded 70 others at a military parade in the southwestern Iranian city, is the responsibility of separatists supported by the United States and Saudi Arabia. Reports on casualties from Monday’s strike are unconfirmed.
Scores of protesters were injured on Monday in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem as Palestinians and Arab citizens of Israel clashed with Israeli forces during a strike to protest Israel’s Jewish nation-state law. The law, which passed in July, declares that only Jews have the right to national self-determination, and established Hebrew as the official language. This is protester Husni Sultan.
Husni Sultan: “We are here united, and our message is one message against the nation-state law, which aims at separating us from the lands of our fathers and grandparents.”
First lady Melania Trump has arrived in Ghana as part of her first major solo international trip. The first lady will visit Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Egypt over the coming week. In January, Democratic lawmakers said President Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador and unspecified African nations as “shithole countries” during a closed-door meeting at the White House. Trump has denied making the remark.
In Barcelona, Spain, baton-wielding police broke up demonstrations and sit-in protests by Catalan independence activists Monday, as an estimated 180,000 people marched on the first anniversary of a referendum on independence that was banned by Spanish authorities. Riot police clashed with demonstrators outside the headquarters of Spain’s national police; elsewhere, activists occupied roads, a highway and a high-speed rail line, stopping traffic for hours. A year ago, more than 800 people were injured after Spanish police stormed polling stations and tried to forcibly prevent people from voting in an independence referendum, firing tear gas and physically attacking prospective voters.
In Japan, voters in Okinawa have elected a new governor who has promised to oppose the long-running U.S. military presence on the Japanese island. Denny Tamaki has vowed to block the controversial relocation of a U.S. military base—a move which is likely to upset both the central government and the United States, which has long depended on Okinawa to accommodate its military bases and personnel. Many residents of the small island have opposed the U.S. military’s presence for decades. This is Governor-elect Tamaki.
Governor-elect Denny Tamaki: “Over two generations, governors have protested the new bases at Henoko and have been ignored. But now, the gubernatorial government has already withdrawn its permission for the base’s land reclamation project. And the prefectural government has used the proper process based on what is best for the good of the public. I will continue to let the central government understand that not abiding by this process is undemocratic and is against the rule of law.”
Back in the United States, mourners came together in Las Vegas, Nevada, Monday to commemorate one year since 58 people were killed and more than 850 others wounded at a country music festival, in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Hotels along the famed Las Vegas Strip dimmed their marquee lights as officials read the names of the victims at the dedication of a memorial garden, and survivors formed a human chain around the site of the deadly attack. The anniversary came and went as President Trump and the Republican-led Congress have enacted no major new gun control policies. In March, the Justice Department proposed a rule change that would ban the sale of bump stocks like those used in the Las Vegas massacre—which turn semiautomatic rifles into fully automatic machine guns. But President Trump has yet to sign an executive order. On Monday, he declared that the bump stocks ban would take effect in “two or three weeks.”
President Donald Trump: “In order to eliminate—terminate—bump stocks, we have to go through a procedure. We are now at the final stages of that procedure. In fact, the lawyers were just telling me, and over the next couple of weeks I’ll be able to write it up. But you can’t just write it up, because rules and regulations in this country are really tough, even for something like that. So, we’re knocking out bump stocks. I’ve told the NRA. I’ve told the—bump stocks are gone.”
A number of states have implemented their own gun control measures recently, including California, which has just signed bills that increase the minimum age for purchasing rifles and shotguns from 18 to 21 and ban the possession of firearms for people convicted of domestic violence and those who have been hospitalized for mental health issues more than once in a one-year period.
In sports news, Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reported to practice for the first time in nine months, after the NFL player spent the better part of a year as an unsigned free agent following his participation in protests during the national anthem led by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Speaking to reporters Monday, wearing a shirt that read “#IMWITHKAP,” Eric Reid said he wouldn’t rule out further protests.
Eric Reid: “Next year will be 2019. It will mark 400 years since the first slave touched the soil in this country. That’s 400 years of systemic oppression. That’s slavery, Jim Crow, new Jim Crow, mass incarceration, you name it. The Great Depression, they come out with the New Deal. Black people didn’t have access to those government stimulus packages. The New Deal set up what is known as the modern-day middle class. We didn’t have access to those programs, the GI Bill, Social Security, home loans, none of that. So this has been happening since my people have gotten here.”
Online retail giant Amazon says it’s raising its company-wide minimum wage to $15 per hour for all of its U.S. employees. The announcement comes amid a union organizing effort at Whole Foods grocery stores—which are owned by Amazon—and amid mounting complaints over labor conditions at the company’s warehouses.
And congratulations to Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous, who won an Emmy last night alongside journalist Laila Al-Arian and the Al Jazeera English Fault Lines team for their reporting on the Trump administration’s travel ban. This is Laila Al-Arian at the awards ceremony on Monday evening.
Laila Al-Arian: “Our story is about the Trump administration’s travel ban, how it unfolded and who it affected. We tell the story of a Syrian refugee family that was supposed to come to the U.S. but ultimately couldn’t because of the ban. As the policy was being challenged in court, 6-year-old Yahya died in a hospital in Turkey. His parents’ hope was that he’d be able to get medical treatment here. This award is dedicated to his memory.”