Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces a final day of Senate confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill today—one day after the proceedings took a dramatic turn when Democratic senators began releasing confidential documents from Kavanaugh’s work at the George W. Bush White House. The release was begun by New Jersey’s Cory Booker, who said he was willing to risk his Senate career by deliberately violating rules against revealing protected information. Booker was responding to the Trump administration’s decision to withhold more than 100,000 pages of Kavanaugh’s records on the basis of presidential privilege.
Sen. Cory Booker: “I come from a long line, as all of us do as Americans, and understand what that kind of civil disobedience is, and I understand the consequences. So I am, right now, before your—before your process is finished, I am going to release the email about racial profiling. And I understand that the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate.”
The drama came as The New York Times reported that Kavanaugh, as a White House attorney, wrote in an email in 2003 that he did not deem the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision to be “settled law of the land.” That contradicts Kavanaugh’s statement during sworn testimony Wednesday that described Roe v. Wade’s right to abortion as settled—and an “important precedent.” Other newly released documents appear to show Kavanaugh may have lied under oath during hearings for his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2004 and 2006. The documents suggest Kavanaugh may have falsely testified he did not know about confidential communications and documents stolen from Democratic senators.
Meanwhile, women’s rights groups are blasting Kavanaugh’s statement Thursday conflating contraception with abortion. NARAL Pro-Choice America tweeted, “Kavanaugh just referred to birth control as 'abortion-inducing drugs,' which is not only an anti-science lie, it’s an anti-choice extremist phrase that shows that our right to access both abortion and contraception would be in SERIOUS danger if he is confirmed.” We’ll have more on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court later in the broadcast.
The Trump administration moved Thursday to remove court-imposed time limits on the detention of immigrant children. The proposal would allow immigrant families to be held in detention indefinitely, ending the long-standing 1997 Flores agreement which says that children cannot be jailed for more than 20 days. Nearly 500 children remain separated from their parents more than a month after a court-imposed deadline requiring the Trump administration to reunite all of the separated families. This comes as a top American Civil Liberties Union lawyer said it appears ICE officials had access to the phone numbers of hundreds of parents of separated children before the June 26 family reunification deadline, but intentionally withheld the phone numbers for months. We’ll have more on the Trump administration’s family separation policy later in the broadcast.
The Justice Department and ICE—Immigration and Customs Enforcement—have subpoenaed millions of voting records from 44 counties in North Carolina, prompting fears of bureaucratic gridlock just weeks before the midterm elections. The unprecedented demand for documents came after federal officials said 19 noncitizens voted illegally in North Carolina during the 2016 election. President Trump has repeatedly made the false claim that millions of people voted illegally nationwide in 2016. John Carella, a voting rights attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, told reporters, “It is an attempt to stoke the fires and to create this idea that voter ID and other kind of restrictions would be appropriate.”
The White House has reportedly crafted a list of a dozen possible officials who might be behind an anonymous op-ed published in Thursday’s New York Times claiming there’s a “quiet resistance” underway within the Trump administration aimed at reining in the president’s impulsive behavior. In the extraordinary op-ed, the unnamed official writes that Trump is amoral, erratic, ill-informed and reckless, with “half-baked” ideas. On Thursday, a flood of Trump administration officials issued denials that they were the author of the op-ed. They include Pentagon chief James Mattis, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Vice President Mike Pence, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, National Security Adviser John Bolton, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and others. Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul said Thursday the White House should require administration officials to take a lie detector test.
In Washington, D.C., a federal court jury deadlocked Thursday over whether to convict former Blackwater contractor Nicholas Slatten on murder charges for his role in the 2007 Nisoor Square massacre in central Baghdad, where Blackwater contractors killed 17 civilians after opening fire with machine guns and grenades on a crowded public space. The attack has been called the “My Lai massacre of Iraq.” In 2014, Slatten was convicted on murder charges over the massacre and sentenced to life in prison. But an appeals court voided that conviction and ordered a new trial for Slatten, which ended in Thursday’s hung jury.
In Cincinnati, Ohio, a gunman opened fire at a downtown bank Thursday, killing three people and injuring two others before he was shot and killed by police. Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said the gunman fired more than a dozen shots from a legally purchased 9-millimeter semiautomatic pistol. In a statement, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said, “Random mass shootings, which plague our nation, are not normal and we as a country can’t allow them to be normalized.”
Thursday’s killings came after Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said he’s launched an internal review of an officer who used his Taser weapon to electrocute an 11-year-old African-American girl for allegedly shoplifting from a supermarket. Body cam video released this week shows the immediate aftermath of the incident, as officer Kevin Brown—who’s also African-American—scolds the girl, telling her, “This is why there aren’t any grocery stores in the black community.”
Officer Kevin Brown: “Sweetheart, the last thing I want to do is tase you like that. When I say stop, you stop. You know you’re caught. Just stop. That hurt my heart to do that to you. Then I’ve got to listen to all these idiots out here in the parking lot telling me how I was wrong for tasing you. You broke the law, and you fled as I tried to apprehend you. … You know what, sweetheart? This is why there aren’t any grocery stores in the black community, because of all this going on.”
Another portion of video shows fire department medics wearing latex gloves as they pull Taser barbs out of the flesh of the 11-year-old girl’s back. Cincinnati’s police chief says officer Brown appears to have violated four department policies; he will now face a pre-disciplinary hearing and will have the right to appeal any punishment.
In Charlottesville, Virginia, a jury has affirmed a misdemeanor assault charge against anti-racist protester Jeffrey Winder, who was convicted of punching Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler in the head one day after a white supremacist drove his car through a crowd of counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. On Tuesday, the jury handed out its punishment to Winder: a one-dollar fine. That’s far short of the maximum possible sentence of a $2,500 fine and a year in jail.
In Brazil, far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro was hospitalized Thursday after he was stabbed in the abdomen during a campaign rally in southern Brazil. Bolsonaro is expected to spend a week at the hospital with a perforated intestine. Bolsonaro has a long history of making racist and homophobic comments. He has encouraged police to kill suspected drug dealers, and has routinely praised Brazil’s former military dictatorship, saying it should have killed more people.
The stabbing came as jailed former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva appears poised to give up his campaign for the presidency, after a Supreme Court judge on Thursday rejected his latest appeal, saying Lula cannot run from prison. Polls show Lula as the front-running candidate for the October presidential elections.
New York’s attorney general on Thursday subpoenaed all eight of the state’s Catholic dioceses as part of a massive civil investigation into whether the church covered up the abuse of children by priests. The probe comes just weeks after a grand jury in Pennsylvania reported more than 300 Catholic priests sexually abused 1,000 children, and possibly thousands more, over seven decades and that church leadership covered up the abuse.
Twitter said Thursday it has permanently suspended far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars program from the platform. The decision came after Twitter came under fire for not following other sites run by Apple, Google, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify—all of which banned Jones last month for “glorifying violence” and “using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants.”
In Northern California, a massive wildfire tripled in size overnight amid high temperatures and dry conditions. The Delta Fire in Shasta County has consumed more than 34 square miles of trees and brush and forced the closure of Interstate 5, where some truck drivers abandoned their rigs to flee oncoming flames. The fire comes amid a record fire season in California that climate scientists say is likely exacerbated by global warming.
Meanwhile, some schools across the U.S. East Coast canceled classes during the opening days of the school year, amid an intense September heat wave. In Baltimore alone, officials said some 60 school buildings lacked adequate air conditioning to hold classes.
And in New York City, thousands of protesters marched through Lower Manhattan Thursday demanding action to tackle climate change. Protesters demanded city and state officials do more to stop fossil fuel projects, support renewable energy and penalize corporate polluters.
Patrick Houston: “Just in the last few months alone, we’ve seen record-setting wildfires in California. We’ve seen the Arctic burning. We’ve experienced punishing heat waves right here in New York. This is not sustainable! This is not sustainable. This is not inevitable. And this is not acceptable!”