It was a tale of two Americas.
Protestors stormed the Supreme Court steps, repeatedly banging on the door in an unprecedented display of civil disobedience. Rage was in the air as news of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court spread.
Meanwhile, Brett Kavanaugh was being sworn in at a private ceremony. President Trump celebrated with his rally of supporters in Topeka, Kansas as Republicans rejoiced.
The last several weeks have been a whirlwind of emotion for survivors of sexual assault, for women, and for decent Americans who have watched the devolution of our political discourse reach the lowest of the low. Do not be misled by the “both sides” media coverage. We all know this is all at the hands of the Republican Party and their leader who lacks the character to lead the country towards any other direction but cultural division.
We’ve watched the President of the United States mock a survivor of sexual assault and accuse passionate protestors of being arsonists that are paid by George Soros. We’ve watched the Republican Party conduct a sham FBI investigation that turned witnesses away and subsequently confirm an alleged sexual abuser, serial liar, and the most unpopular Supreme Court nominee in modren history to the highest court in the land.
These actions by President Trump and the Republican Party (backed by conservative media) are the latest in a series of actions that prove they don’t govern for the people; they govern in spite of them. From their tax law to the attempted repeals of the Affordable Care Act to their separation of migrant families, the Republican Party has repeatedly pushed causes that are favored by the minority and staunchly opposed by the majority. They believe they can continue to get away with this because they’ve engineered minority rule through gerrymandering and voter suppression. But this time, I believe they’ve stepped over the line. They’ve attacked the one constituency they need most one-time too many: women.
Women are infuriated. They’ve been angry since Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual abuse by over a dozen women, was elected and the anger hasn’t stopped since. This administration’s threat to reproductive rights has never felt as great as it does with the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh who, like Trump, has been credibly accused of sexual abuse and has made his views on Roe v. Wade well-known. Kavanaugh’s opposition is also emboldened by his past views on executive power, and the possibility that he could protect President Trump from being subpoenaed or rule in favor of increasing his pardon powers.
Although the Republican Party thinks they’ve struck gold with the recent rise of enthusiasm in their base, evidence suggests they are gravely mistaken. There was already evidence indicating the GOP is shrinking, and now we’ve seen multiple polls indicating that women disapprove of the Republican Party, and that has only been exacerbated by their handling of the Kavanaugh confirmation process. Come November, we’ll see if suburban women turnout for them or if they vote as they did in the Virginia gubernatorial race.
With the midterm elections just 30 days away, President Trump and the Republican Party are placing a very large bet on indecency. I believe they will lose. But that will only happen if the decent rise to the occasion on November 6th.
Start by reliving the week that should give you all the fuel you need to go knock on some doors for your local candidate.
Let’s dive in.
Day 620: Monday, October 1
Lying Under Oath
The Lede: With the Senate floor vote for Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation approaching this Friday and the FBI’s background investigation expanded in scope by the White House, a report today raises more questions about the honesty of Kavanaugh. It also appears to bolster the credibility of Deborah Ramirez’s allegation.
NBC News reported that two former classmates, Kerry Berchem and Karen Yarasavag who also attended Yale with Kavanaugh, are in possession of some damning text messages. They reportedly reveal that Brett Kavanaugh and his team were trying to get ahead of Deborah Ramirez’s allegation as far back as July of this year. They paint a picture of Kavanaugh reaching out to former classmates to try and discredit Ramirez. One message even included Yarasavag claiming that Kavanaugh asked her to go on the record in his defense.
In another text, Berchem raised concerns about a 1997 wedding of a mutual friend that Brett Kavanaugh and Deborah Ramirez attended. Berchem claimed that Ramirez tried to avoid Kavanaugh and “clung” to her. Berchem has unsuccessfully tried to get in touch with the FBI to provide these text messages.
This reported effort by Kavanaugh and his team to discredit Ramirez’s allegation was in the lead up to the New Yorker story by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer that outlined Ramirez’s allegation of Kavanaugh placing his penis in her face in a college dorm room while their peers egged him on.
This is key, because as NBC reports, “Kavanaugh told the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath that the first time he heard of Ramirez’s allegation was in the Sept. 23 article in The New Yorker.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s spokesman stated: “the texts from Ms. Berchem do not appear relevant or contradictory to Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony.”
Reality says otherwise.
The Context: In stark contrast to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s very credible testimony recounting her alleged assault, Judge Brett Kavanaugh was objectively not credible. During the September 27th hearing, he appeared entitled, enraged, temperamentally unstable, and reckless with his words as he concocted a Clinton conspiracy theory and failed to be truthful about the simplest of things, such as whether or not he watched Dr. Ford’s testimony. Kavanaugh also lied about Dr. Ford’s witnesses. He claimed that they said the assault “didn’t happen” when they actually said they had no recollection of it. In fact, one of them said they believed Dr. Ford.
The list goes on. Here is a quick thread of the lies and here’s a more comprehensive article on it.
ALL THE LIES KAVANAUGH TOLD CAN’T EVEN FIT INTO A SINGLE TWEET:
Ford’s allegations are refuted
Never attended a gathering like the one described by FORD
Did not travel in the same circles as Ford
Did not drink beer to the point of blacking out
Drinking age was 18 in MD 1/
— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) October 1, 2018
The Analysis: Yes, Kavanaugh has numerous other reasons for his confirmation to be voted down (his partisanship or the allegations themselves) but his lying is especially important. Besides potentially amounting to the legal definition of perjury, Kavanaugh’s lies place his confirmation in jeopardy. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), whose maverick moment triggered by brave survivors of sexual assault got us this delay and FBI investigation, is a key vote for confirming Kavanaugh. And in an interview with 60 minutes, Flake said if Kavanaugh lied to the committee, his nomination would over:
Scott Pelley: “If Judge Kavanaugh is shown to have lied to the committee, nomination’s over?”
Jeff Flake: “Oh, yes.”
Chris Coons: “I would think so.” https://t.co/pfONsabFEt
— Tim O’Brien (@TimOBrien) October 1, 2018
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), another key Senator, has also called lying on the part of Kavanaugh disqualifying.
We shall see if they stick to their word.
In other news…
- NBC News: White House authorizes FBI to expand probe of Kavanaugh
- The New York Times: Kavanaugh Was Questioned by Police After Bar Fight in 1985
- The New York Times: Migrant Children Moved Under Cover of Darkness to a Texas Tent City
- Vox: The US, Canada, and Mexico have a new NAFTA deal. It’s called USMCA.
Reminder that Obama renegotiated NAFTA through TPP. Trump basically embraces TPP provisions which he trashed, and which would have applied not just to Canada and Mexico but to a huge chunk of Asia, also creating a coalition that could stand up to China. https://t.co/Zrf5u9LQns
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) October 1, 2018
- President Trump disrespected a female reporter…again.
Trump to woman reporter: “She’s shocked I picked her, she’s in a state of shock”
Reporter: “I’m not, thank you Mr. President”
Trump: “I know you’re not thinking, you never do”
Reporter: “I’m sorry?”
Trump: “Go ahead”
This is institutionalized misogyny.
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) October 1, 2018
Day 621: Tuesday, October 2
A Legacy Of Fraud And Deception
The Lede: Today, The New York Times dropped a bombshell report that’s been a year in the making. They obtained a trove of documents, including Fred Trump’s tax returns. This is the most extensive look into the Trump family’s finances yet, and it paints an incriminating picture of fraud and definitively proves that Donald Trump is not a self-made billionaire.
In extensive detail, the Times outlines the fact Donald Trump received, at least, the equivalent of $413 million from his father’s real estate empire. They used shady methods, sometimes constituting fraud, to funnel money to one another. Donald Trump was also a millionaire by age 8, racking in $200,000 a year starting at age 3. And that “small $1 million loan” Trump received from his father? It was actually at least $60.7 million ($140 million in today’s dollars). Trump never paid it back.
Here are some highlights:
In all, the president’s parents transferred well over $1 billion in wealth to their children, which could have produced a tax bill of at least $550 million under the 55 percent tax rate on gifts and inheritances that was in place at the time. Helped by a variety of tax dodges, the Trumps paid $52.2 million, or about 5 percent, tax returns show.
The deceptive taxes went beyond loopholes:
But tax experts briefed on The Times’s findings said the Trumps appeared to have done more than exploit legal loopholes. They said the conduct described here represented a pattern of deception and obfuscation that repeatedly prevented the I.R.S. from taxing large transfers of wealth to Fred Trump’s children.
The child millionaire:
But The Times’s investigation makes clear that in every era of Mr. Trump’s life, his finances were deeply entwined with, and dependent on, his father’s wealth. By age 3, he was earning $200,000 a year in today’s dollars from his father’s empire. He was a millionaire by age 8. In his 40s and 50s, he was receiving more than $5 million a year.
The myth of self-made Donald:
But the partnership between Donald Trump and his father was about more than the pursuit, and the preservation, of riches. They were also confederates in a more ambitious project: creating the myth of Donald J. Trump, Self-Made Billionaire. If Fred Trump was the silent partner, helping finance the accouterments of wealth, it was Donald Trump who spun them into a seductive narrative.
Trump’s father saved the family hundreds of millions of dollars by undervaluing properties they gifted to their children.
Fred Trump’s 1995 gift tax return claimed that the 25 apartment complexes and other properties in the trusts were worth just $41.4 million. The implausibility of this claim would be made plain in 2004, when banks valued that same real estate at nearly $900 million.
Fred Trump didn’t trust Donald’s business acumen, and stripped him of sole control over his estate in his will:
Fred Trump feared that the document potentially put his life’s work at risk, that his son might use the empire as collateral to save his own failing businesses, according to depositions given years later during a family dispute.
Fred Trump took prompt action to thwart his son. He dispatched his daughter to find new estate lawyers. One of them took notes on the instructions she passed on from her father: “Protect assets from DJT, Donald’s creditors.” The lawyers quickly drafted a new codicil stripping Donald Trump of sole control over his father’s estate. Fred Trump signed it immediately.
The Context: From Trump University to Trump SoHo, the Trump family’s history of fraudulent behavior is no secret. David Fahrenthold revealed the Trump Foundation’s self-dealing in 2016 and it led to an investigation by the New York Attorney General. Trump’s alleged money laundering has also drawn great scrutiny. Trump is already plagued by multiple federal investigations and lawsuits, so he may have to add this to the list:
- Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference and potential conspiracy with the Trump campaign.
- The Southern District of New York’s investigation into Trump’s former lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen
- The Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation into the Trump Organization
- The New York Attorney General’s investigation into the Trump Foundation
- Emoluments clause lawsuits
- Stormy Daniels and Summer Zervos lawsuits
The Analysis: It appears that Donald Trump has been hiding the fact that not only is he not self-made, he had to be bailed out by his father on multiple occasions. Needless to say, there is a reason Donald Trump did not want to release his tax returns. The New York State Tax Department is looking into what was laid out in this report. Do you know who could corroborate the content of the tax returns? Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg who has reportedly been granted immunity by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.
Although Democrats are likely wishing this surfaced in 2016, it’s here now, and will likely be used as a means to advocate for the release of Trump’s tax returns and to poke a hole in Trump’s fabricated self-made persona. And if criminal fraud is derived from his finances, it’s likely Democrats will add that to their articles of impeachment if they win the House. One way or another, while he’s in office or afterward, his finances will eventually catch up to him.
In other news…
- Politico: Manafort meets with Mueller prosecutors
- Politico: Roger Stone associate to plead 5th before Senate panel
- The Wall Stree Journal: Trump Directed Legal Action to Enforce Stormy Daniels’s Hush Agreement
- Foreign Policy: Trump Administration to Deny Visas to Same-Sex Partners of Diplomats, U.N. Officials
- CNN: FBI expands inquiry into Ford allegations
- HuffPost: Mitch McConnell Says FBI’s Kavanaugh Report Won’t Be Made Public
- The New York Times: Homeland Security Agency’s Computers Couldn’t Track Separated Families, Report Finds
- Politico: Rosenstein to meet with House Republicans on Oct. 11
- CNN: Suspected ricin detected in mail sent to Trump, Pentagon
- President Trump mocked Dr. Christine Blasey Ford at a rally, and his supporters cheered.
Watch as @realDonaldTrump mocks Dr. Ford, who just delivered credible testimony outlining her alleged sexual assault at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh.
And then listen, as his supporters cheer him on.pic.twitter.com/C3qysOiJ7n
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) October 3, 2018
Day 622: Wednesday, October 3
Kavanaugh’s Bot Army
Molly McKew wrote an excellent deep dive into the information warfare that was occurring to boost the Kavanaugh nomination. She wrote in Wired:
The cadre coalesced and sharpened its edge starting in 2014 with Gamergate before throwing in with then-candidate Trump. It has promoted toxic conspiracies like Pizzagate and QAnon, and was ever-present around movements from Unite the Right to #releasethememo.
This same information architecture was used to attack Blasey Ford and exonerate Kavanaugh. The attacks on Blasey Ford aimed to discredit and silence her using the same tactics that have been deployed to discredit and silence others over the past few years. As others have come forward to accuse Kavanaugh of wrongdoing—including Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick—they have been similarly harassed and smeared by the same machinery and themes.
In other news…
- NBC News: FBI has not contacted dozens of potential sources in Kavanaugh investigation
- NPR: Poll: More Believe Ford Than Kavanaugh, A Cultural Shift From 1991
- NBC News: Should sex harassment charges disqualify a political candidate? 56 percent of Republicans say no
- The New York Times: International Court Orders U.S. to Ease Some Iran Sanctions
- Politico: U.S. tears up obscure Iran treaty, escalating stand-off
- Bloomberg: New York City Is ‘Looking to Recoup’ Any Unpaid Trump Taxes, de Blasio Says
- The Washington Post: EPA excluded its own top science officials when it rewrote rules on using scientific studies
- The Salt Lake Tribune: Police say Utah man confesses to sending ricin-laced letters to Trump and other top government leaders
Day 623: Thursday, October 4
The Sham Kavanaugh Investigation
Today, the White House and Senate Republicans declared that the FBI background investigation found no corroborating evidence to support the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh. What they failed to mention was the fact that the reason the FBI couldn’t find corroborating evidence was because they were not permitted to look for any and, in some cases, turned evidence away. They did not interview Brett Kavanaugh or Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. They rejected witnesses who were offering corroborating evidence and only interviewed a list of witnesses who that was, for the most part, preferential to Kavanaugh.
Contrary to President Trump’s claims that the FBI was permitted to investigate freely, the White House kept the scope of the investigation severely limited. The FBI wasn’t even permitted to investigate whether or not Brett Kavanaugh lied under oath, which he repeatedly did. CNN reported:
There was never a directive to the FBI to investigate a third assault allegation against Kavanaugh, or to probe his drinking habits and whether he lied about them to the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to a source briefed on the investigation.
The FBI only reached out to 10 people. 9 agreed to be interviewed. CNN continued:
So far, it appears a majority of the people interviewed were those already sympathetic to Kavanaugh.
Of the six who are known interviews, Mark Judge, Patrick Smyth, Tim Gaudette and Chris Garrett were not expected to be hostile to the Supreme Court nominee. Ramirez was expected to repeat her allegations against Kavanaugh, as well as Leland Keyser, who has previously said through her lawyer that she doesn’t recall the alleged incident.
There were reports from several news organizations that indicated that dozens of witnesses were either turned away at FBI field offices or received radio silence from their other methods of outreach. Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer of The New Yorker reported that one of the witnesses offered to corroborate Deborah Ramirez’s allegation that Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself to her while his peers cheered him on.
“I feel like I’m being silenced.” The FBI declined to interview primary witnesses related to the Kavanaugh allegations it was tasked with reviewing. Some of them resorted to sending in unsolicited sworn statements, which @JaneMayerNYer and I obtained: https://t.co/nY1uGCQ2Ki
— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) October 4, 2018
In the end, the FBI produced a 45-page report that Republicans are using to falsely claim vindication for Kavanaugh. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had one copy of the report and let senators take turns reviewing it in a SCIF.
All eyes are on key Republican Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Collins said, “It appears to be a very thorough investigation.” Flake agreed and added, “We’ve seen no additional corroborating information.” Murkowski has yet to let her thoughts be made public. All are still undecided.
The procedural vote was scheduled for Friday morning at 10:30 am. The previously scheduled Saturday vote looked like it would have to be rescheduled because Senator Steve Daines is going to his daughter’s wedding they went forward with it anyway.
What a sham.
The FBI was literally turning away witnesses who were trying to corroborate allegations because the White House wouldn’t permit them to interview them.
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) October 4, 2018
In other news…
- Rantt Media: Supporting Brett Kavanaugh Is Backfiring On The GOP
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 4, 2018
- The Hill: Scores of Kavanaugh protesters arrested after descending on Senate building
- The Washington Post: In 2:30 a.m. tweets, White House says FBI report supports Kavanaugh confirmation
- CNN: Key red state Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp to vote no on Kavanaugh
- NBC News: Judge blocks Trump administration from ending protections for some immigrants
- Reuters: Pence accuses China of ‘malign’ campaign to undermine Trump
- The Daily Beast: Russian Official Linked to Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Trump Tower Lawyer, Is Dead
- CNN: Special counsel’s office has radio interviews between Roger Stone and alleged WikiLeaks ‘back channel’
- CNBC: Justice Department charges 7 Russian hackers with targeting doping agencies, nuclear energy company
Day 624-625: Friday-Saturday, October 5-6
Collins, Confirmation, And Resistance
Friday and Saturday felt like one giant day. That’s likely because I didn’t get much sleep, as I’m sure many Americans didn’t as well.
Not only was Friday the one year anniversary of the Harvey Weinstein New York Times expose which sent the #MeToo movement into the stratosphere, but it was also the day of the Senate’s cloture vote on Brett Kavanaugh. This vote would decide whether they would move forward with the final confirmation vote on Saturday.
President Trump started it off by attacking the protestors as paid by George Soros.
The very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad. Don’t fall for it! Also, look at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others. These are not signs made in the basement from love! #Troublemakers
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2018
At the cloture vote, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) bravely voted no while Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted yes. Then, Collins announced a Senate floor speech for 3 pm where she would announce how she would vote on the final confirmation fo Brett Kavanaugh. What followed was one of the most fierce defenses of Brett Kavanaugh thus far, including cherry picking his writings to frame Kavanaugh as a justice who wouldn’t overturn Roe v. Wade or protect President Trump, ignoring Deborah Ramirez’s allegation, and claiming that Dr. Ford must’ve been mistaken about who her assaulter was.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announces her crucial vote in favor of confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. pic.twitter.com/kIvtc5Hzbe
— HuffPost (@HuffPost) October 5, 2018
Susan Collins would’ve been better off just quietly voting yes on Kavanaugh without this speech cherry picking his writings and praising this alleged sexual predator while casting doubt on Dr. Ford.
All she’s done is expose who she really is. History, and 2020, will not be kind.
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) October 5, 2018
This is just absurd.
Susan Collins is perpetuating the doppelgänger theory.
She’s being willfully ignorant of the fact Brett Kavanaugh lied repeatedly under oath while Dr Ford delivered very credible testimony.
With that knowledge, one simply cannot take Kavanaugh at his word. https://t.co/8ftcKks0eY
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) October 6, 2018
The party who leads “lock her up” chants called for due process.
The party who refused to give Merrick Garland a hearing called this process unfair.
The party who impeached Clinton for lying is about to confirm a man who did the same.
We will never forget the @GOP‘s hypocrisy.
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) October 5, 2018
After her speech, more damning evidence came forward about Kavanaugh, but it was too late.
— Heidi Przybyla (@HeidiPrzybyla) October 5, 2018
EXCLUSIVE Chief Justice Roberts has received many misconduct complaints against Kavanaugh from a fellow judge based on Senate comments. In tense confirmation, he did not referr them to a judicial panel for further investigation. Me w @amarimow @thamburger https://t.co/gi9GYh2y4H
— Carol Leonnig (@CarolLeonnig) October 6, 2018
Friday came and went, and on Saturday, the day had finally come: the confirmation vote.
Ahead of the vote, protestors stormed the Capitol Building and the steps of the Supreme Court.
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 6, 2018
Kavanaugh was confirmed 50-48 a little after 4pm ET. After the vote, activists banged on the doors of the highest court in the land.
Decent Americans, women, and survivors of sexual assault are infuriated.
THAT is the story. Not Trump’s “win” that was attained through indecent measures. https://t.co/FMY2XLFjpH
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) October 6, 2018
By the end of the day, Judge Brett Kavanaugh was Justice Brett Kavanaugh. President Trump took a victory lap at his rally and sent out tweets attacking the protestors, and sent out a dangerous message.
The crowd in front of the U.S. Supreme Court is tiny, looks like about 200 people (& most are onlookers) – that wouldn’t even fill the first couple of rows of our Kansas Rally, or any of our Rallies for that matter! The Fake News Media tries to make it look sooo big, & it’s not!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 6, 2018
This is dangerous.
Lately, Trump has essentially claimed that Democrats and the press are not just political opponents, but violent enemies of the state.
The President is radicalizing his supporters and it gets covered as if it’s just campaign tactics.
Wake up. https://t.co/xbdaF3Ermo
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) October 7, 2018
We have a tough road ahead but I’ve been troubled by some of the coverage I’ve seen.
Meanwhile, we have orgs like @axios acting as if “both sides” are equally to blame for this
It’s President Trump and the @GOP dividing us
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) October 7, 2018
When @realDonaldTrump and the @GOP’s anti-Democratic behavior is covered as if it’s just politics as usual, and journalists search for ways to pin this devolution of our national discourse on “both sides,” it only perpetuates the divide by normalizing what the right is doing.
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) October 7, 2018
There is only one way to look at this:
Trump and the @GOP have anti-democratic impulses, assault the rule of law, and engineered minority rule through gerrymandering/voter suppression
Meanwhile, Democrats are actually fighting for the majority and want to uphold the rule of law
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) October 7, 2018
Why am I criticizing the media in a thread about Trump? I believe media is the lens through which people perceive reality (why I co-founded @RanttMedia).
When that lens isn’t held responsibly (falsely equalizes a dangerous demagogue with his opposition) it misleads the public.
— Ahmed Baba (@AhmedBaba_) October 7, 2018
A lot of people are rightfully fearful of what will happen to their rights. And a lot of survivors and decent Americans are rightfully pained at the thought of this alleged sexual abuser sitting on the Supreme Court. And a lot of women are furious in general.
Well, all I can say is November 6th is 30 days away. Vote.
When Franken was accused—he resigned
When Schneiderman was accused—he resigned
When Conyers was accused—he resigned
When Trump was accused—he was elected
When Moore was accused—he was endorsed
When Kavanaugh was accused—he was confirmed
Never say the parties are the same
— Rantt Media (@RanttMedia) October 6, 2018
In other news…