Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the professor who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, is set to testify along with Kavanaugh today, ahead of a confirmation vote set for Friday by the Senate Judiciary Committee—even as new allegations against him continue to emerge. In Dr. Blasey Ford’s prepared testimony released Wednesday, she calls Kavanaugh “the boy who sexually assaulted me” and describes the night of the assault, stating, “I believed he was going to rape me.” She adds, “I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t remember as much as I would like to. But the details about that night that bring me here today are ones I will never forget.” Kavanaugh has denied Dr. Blasey Ford’s accusation, as well as other allegations of sexual misconduct made public by two other women this week.
On Wednesday, a new accuser, Julie Swetnick, came forward with help from lawyer Michael Avenatti and alleged in a sworn declaration that she observed Kavanaugh at high school parties in the 1980s participating in efforts to inebriate girls so they could be gang-raped. She says Kavanaugh was present at a party in which she herself was the victim of a “gang rape.”
Speaking from the United Nations at the second solo news conference of his presidency, Trump did not once mention the names of Kavanaugh’s accusers; instead, he attacked Julie Swetnick’s lawyer Michael Avenatti and accused Democrats of running a “con game” aimed at derailing the nomination.
President Donald Trump: “People are going to have to make a decision. Thirty-six years, there’s no charge. All of a sudden, the hearings are over, and the rumors start coming out. And then you have this other con artist, Avenatti, come out with another beauty today. I only say that you have to look at the facts.”
Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley has scheduled a vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation for Friday.
On Wednesday, Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon said he’s suing President Trump and Senate Republican leaders. Merkley is seeking a federal court injunction to stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, saying Republican leaders have obstructed senators’ constitutional duty to advise and consent on Supreme Court nominees.
Today’s hearing comes as right-wing “dark money” groups have spent heavily in support of Kavanaugh’s nomination. The Judicial Crisis Network spent $1.5 million last week on a 30-second ad featuring Kavanaugh’s longtime friend Louisa Garry. But since the ad aired, Garry has withdrawn her support for Kavanaugh amid accusations by Deborah Ramirez, who says Kavanaugh exposed himself and thrust his genitals in her face during a college party in a dorm room when they were both students at Yale University.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, protests against Kavanaugh’s nomination echoed through the halls of Congress again on Wednesday. Outside Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins’s office, police led protesters away in plastic handcuffs, as they chanted, “We believe survivors!”
Protesters: “We believe survivors! We believe survivors!”
Among those protesting on Capitol Hill Wednesday was actress Alyssa Milano, who responded to President Trump’s attacks on Dr. Christine Blasey Ford this week by saying for the first time that she, too, had been sexually assaulted—twice—as a teenager. In an essay for Vox, Milano wrote, “The courage of survivors will always be stronger than Donald Trump’s misogyny. The lives of survivors will always be more important than Brett Kavanaugh’s career.”
CNN reports that hours after Wednesday’s protests, Senator Susan Collins said in a private meeting she is “concerned” over the latest allegations against Judge Kavanaugh, questioning why the Senate Judiciary Committee had not subpoenaed Kavanaugh’s longtime friend Mark Judge, an alleged witness to crimes committed by Kavanaugh. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski—another crucial swing vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination—has also expressed concerns over the allegations.
At the United Nations, President Trump gaveled in a meeting of the Security Council Wednesday, as the U.S. took over the rotating position of council president. In prepared remarks, Trump once again attacked Iran over its alleged nuclear ambitions. He also singled out China for allegedly meddling in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections. Later, Trump held an 81-minute solo news conference—just the second of his presidency—in which he railed against Kavanaugh’s accusers and dismissed reports he was being laughed at when he addressed the General Assembly Tuesday as “fake news.” We’ll have more on Trump at the United Nations later in the broadcast.
Trump’s appearance at the Security Council came as critics of the U.S. administration took to the floor of the United Nations on Wednesday. In a fiery address from the Security Council, Bolivian President Evo Morales said the U.S. was uninterested in supporting democracies, pointing to its long history of financing coups and supporting dictators. Morales cited the case of Iran.
President Evo Morales: “In 1953, the United States financed, planned and implemented a coup d’état against a democratically elected government, which, in exercise of its legitimate sovereignty, nationalized its oil production, wresting it from the hands of an Anglo-U.S. company. After that, for many decades, the United States supported an authoritarian government which allowed the profits from oil production to line the pockets of transnational companies. This situation endured until the revolution of 1979. And now that Iran has retaken control of its own resources, it is once again the victim of a U.S. siege.”
President Trump said Wednesday he has no immediate plans to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who’s overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Earlier this week, The New York Times reported Rosenstein had suggested secretly recording President Trump in the White House and recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office for being unfit. Trump was due to meet Rosenstein today to discuss his future at the Justice Department, but the president said at Wednesday’s news conference at the U.N. he may delay that meeting until after today’s Senate hearing with Judge Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford.
President Donald Trump: “I would much prefer keeping Rod Rosenstein. Much prefer. Many people say I have the right to absolutely fire him. He said he did not say it. He said he does not believe that.”
In Oregon, students at Portland State University are calling on administrators to disarm campus police, three months after a pair of officers fatally shot 45-year-old Jason Washington as he tried to break up a bar fight on campus. Police body cam video of the killing shows campus police officers Shawn McKenzie and James Dewey opening fire on Washington with nine bullets, after a handgun Washington was wearing on his hip fell from its holster during a tussle. Earlier this month a grand jury declined to indict the officers over the killing. Portland State University’s Board of Trustees voted in 2015 to arm campus police officers; students at PSU have set up an Occupy-style encampment outside the campus security office, demanding they reverse the policy.
And in Mexico City, friends and relatives of 43 students who vanished from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ school in 2014 met with Mexico’s President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador Wednesday, on the fourth anniversary of the students’ disappearance. The students were attacked by local police in 2014 and are presumed dead; international experts say the Mexican military and federal police also played a role in their disappearance. This is Epifanio Álvarez, father of missing student Jorge Álvarez.
Epifanio Álvarez: “We have been filled with rage because we have not had a government that has cared about the case of the 43 disappeared students, the young boys who we are waiting for very anxiously. We are anxious to hug and kiss them and say, 'I love you, son.' This is what we are waiting for.”
López Obrador, who’s set to be inaugurated as Mexico’s president on December 1, on Wednesday reaffirmed his promise to create a truth commission to investigate the Ayotzinapa disappearances.
President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador: “My commitment is that we will carry through with the investigation that will bring us to the truth and justice. During my campaign, I made the commitment to help clarify all that has happened with this very unfortunate case of the disappearance of the young boys of Ayotzinapa. We will keep to our promise.”