The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein, is calling for the immediate postponement of the nomination proceedings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after a second woman came forward alleging sexual misconduct by the judge. A former classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale University has accused him of exposing himself and thrusting his penis in her face during a college party in a dorm room. The woman, Deborah Ramirez, spoke on the record to The New Yorker and is now calling on the FBI to investigate her allegations. Meanwhile, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday about her allegations that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when she was 15 years old. Kavanaugh has denied both accusations. As part of his defense, Kavanaugh has given the Senate a copy of his calendar from the summer of 1982, which does not show him attending any parties like the one described by Christine Blasey Ford. But Kavanaugh’s own team acknowledged the newly unearthed calendar also does not disprove her allegations.
On Friday, President Trump openly questioned Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s claim.
He tweeted, “… if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents.” See more coverage of the Kavanaugh nomination here.
The Trump administration has announced a new crackdown on immigrants applying for green cards to live and work in the United States. Under the proposed new rules, applicants could be denied green cards if they have ever used public assistance, including food assistance or housing vouchers, or received discounted prescription drugs through Medicare Part D. The National Immigration Law Center slammed the proposed rule change, saying it would rig the nation’s immigration system so green cards would only go to the highest bidder. The group says, “This is a regulatory backdoor approach to separate more families.” The mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, vowed to fight the rule change, saying, “Hundreds of thousands of our neighbors may be unable to see their doctors, keep a roof over their heads or afford a trip to the grocery store, if they wish to remain in the United States. That is simply wrong and un-American.”
The New York Times is reporting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggested last year that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the turmoil inside the administration following Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. The Times also reports Rosenstein discussed recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office for being unfit. Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, called the Times report “inaccurate and factually incorrect.” On Friday night, President Trump suggested there would be more firings at the Department of Justice, saying there is a “lingering stench” at the department.
In news from Iran, 29 people were killed and at least 70 wounded when four gunmen dressed in military uniform attacked a military parade in the southwestern city of Ahvaz on Saturday. The dead included military personnel, civilians and a journalist. ISIS and a Saudi-backed separatist group called Ahvaz National Resistance both claimed responsibility for the attack. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani placed blame on the United States and Gulf states including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
President Hassan Rouhani: “The small puppet countries that we see in the region are backed by America, and the United States is provoking them and giving them the necessary capabilities to commit these crimes.”
Tension between the United States and Iran is escalating ahead of this week’s U.N. General Assembly, where both Rouhani and Trump will speak. On Wednesday, Trump is chairing a U.N. Security Council briefing on “counter-proliferation.” He is expected to use the meeting to single out Iran. One of Trump’s top attorneys, Rudolph Giuliani, addressed an Iranian opposition group called the National Council of Resistance of Iran on Saturday. The group is tied to the MEK, which was once considered a terrorist organization by the United States. Giuliani openly backed the overthrow of the Iranian government.
Rudolph Giuliani: “I don’t know when we’re going to overthrow them. It could be in a few days, months or couple of years, but it’s going to happen. They’re going to be overthrown.”
In environmental news, the Waterkeeper Alliance is calling for more stringent national and state regulations on coal ash after a massive coal ash spill last week sent toxic waste into the Cape Fear River near Wilmington, North Carolina. The spill occurred after a dam was breached following Hurricane Florence. The storm caused several other coal ash spills in North Carolina.
In news from Latin America, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned the Trump administration is preparing a “series of actions” in the coming days to increase pressure on the Venezuelan government. Pompeo said, “We’re determined to ensure that the Venezuelan people get their say.” Earlier this month, The New York Times revealed Trump administration officials held multiple secret meetings with rebel Venezuelan military officers last year to discuss possible plans to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Pompeo’s comment came just ahead of the annual U.N. General Assembly in New York. It remains unclear if Maduro will attend.
In news from Europe, around 20,000 people marched in the Swiss capital of Bern on Saturday demanding equal pay for women and protesting against discrimination. The protest came as the Swiss parliament is considering legislation to require all companies with more than 100 workers to analyze pay rates to ensure there is no discrimination between the salaries of men and women. Swiss protesters vowed more demonstrations if salary inequality continues.
Jacqueline Ricciardi Werlen: “I think the message is pretty clear. As long as we don’t have salary equality, as long as no sanctions are being taken or no control made regarding salary equality, we will go out on the streets.”
In Texas, Republican Senator Ted Cruz and his Democratic challenger, Congressmember Beto O’Rourke, held their first debate on Friday and clashed on a number of issues, including criminal justice reform, President Trump and immigration. Beto O’Rourke vowed to protect DREAMers from deportation.
Rep. Beto O’Rourke: “There is no better people than those of us here in this state, Republicans and Democrats, independents alike, the defining border experience, the defining immigrant experience and state, to rewrite our immigration laws in our own image and to ensure that we begin by freeing DREAMers from the fear of deportation by making them U.S. citizens, so they can contribute to their full potential to the success not just of themselves and their families, but to this country.”
Senator Ted Cruz vowed to do more to crack down on undocumented immigrants.
Sen. Ted Cruz: “You know, this issue presents a stark divide between Congressman O’Rourke and me. My views on immigration are simple, and I’ve summed them up many times in just four words: legal, good; illegal, bad. I think the vast majority of Texans agree with that. I think when it comes to immigration, we need to do everything humanly possible to secure the border. That means building a wall. That means technology. That means infrastructure. That means boots on the ground.”
Comedian Bill Cosby will be back in court today for the beginning of a 2-day sentencing hearing. He faces up to 30 years in prison. In April, a jury found Cosby guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, the former director of operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University. Constand is one of about 60 women who have accused Cosby of sexual assaults dating back decades.