👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
In the mean time, try our little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding and for being here. I'm going to miss you.
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1/ Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is “prepared to testify next week” as long as senators offer “terms that are fair and which ensure her safety.” In an email sent to committee staff members, Ford’s attorney reiterated that it is their “strong preference” that the FBI conduct “a full investigation” before her testimony. (New York Times)
2/ Senate Republicans plan to move forward with Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation despite sexual assault allegations by Ford. Trump, in defending Kavanaugh, said it was “very hard for me to imagine anything happened” with Ford because Kavanaugh “is such an outstanding man.” Sen. Chuck Grassley said a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing would begin at 10 a.m. Monday, and gave Ford a deadline of 10 a.m. Friday to submit prepared remarks if she plans to testify. While Ford has not officially declined the committee’s invitation, her attorney has asked for a “full, nonpartisan investigation.” (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times)
3/ Trump insists there is no role for the FBI in investigating Ford’s claim. Trump said that investigating Ford’s accusation that Brett Kavanaugh covered her mouth while trying to strip her bathing suit off during a high school party in the 1980s “is not really their thing.” Former government officials, however, have come forward to contradict Trump’s claim that the FBI cannot investigate the allegations against Kavanaugh. While Republican leaders in the Senate have echoed Trump’s claim, several officials involved in nomination and background check processes say it’s actually common. (Politico / NBC News)
4/ Sen. Dean Heller called the sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh a “little hiccup” and that he hopes “all senators” will address the accusations “in good faith” so they can “get through this” and “off to the races.” The Nevada Republican went on to call Trump “a great leader” despite saying he was “99 percent against Trump” in October 2016. Heller is considered the most vulnerable Senate Republican seeking reelection this year. (Washington Post / The Hill / New York Times)
5/ A former classmate of Ford walked back her claims that she knew about Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged assault at the time it happened. “That it happened or not, I have no idea,” said Cristina Miranda King. “I can’t say that it did or didn’t.” In a now-deleted Facebook post, King previously said: “The incident DID happen, many of us heard about it in school.” (NPR)
6/ Senator Claire McCaskill will vote against Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, but not because of the allegations against him. McCaskill cited Kavanaugh’s “positions on several key issues, most importantly the avalanche of dark, anonymous money that is crushing our democracy,” as the reason for her “no” vote. McCaskill says Kavanaugh “revealed his bias against limits on campaign donations” and that she is “uncomfortable about his view on Presidential power,” as well as his “position that corporations are people.” The Missouri Democrat is running for re-election this year in a state Trump won in 2016. Republicans hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate and could still confirm Kavanaugh’s appointment even if all Democrats oppose his nomination. (NPR / Politico / CNN)
7/ Michael Cohen met with Robert Mueller’s team multiple times over the last month for interview sessions lasting several hours. The special counsel has focused on Trump’s dealings with Russia, including the investigation into collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Mueller’s team is also interested in knowing whether Trump discussed the possibility of a pardon with Cohen, who is voluntarily participating in the meetings without any guarantee of leniency from prosecutors. (ABC News)
poll/ 38% of voters say they oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination to serve on the Supreme Court compared to 34% who support his nomination. (NBC News)
Trump told Spain’s Foreign Minister to “build a wall across the Sahara” in order to curb migration from Africa. When Spanish diplomats pointed out that the Sahara stretched for 3,000 miles, Trump responded by saying: “The Sahara border can’t be bigger than our border with Mexico.” The US/Mexico border is roughly 2,000 miles long. (The Guardian / Bloomberg / CNN)
The Department of Health and Human Services wants to reallocate $266 million in funds to pay for housing for detained immigrant children. Funds would be diverted from National Cancer Institute, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, Head Start, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other refugee support programs. (Yahoo News)
Jeff Sessions announced new limits on the ability of immigration judges to dismiss deportation cases, saying judges “have no inherent authority to terminate removal proceedings even though a particular case may pose sympathetic circumstances.” (Reuters)
The U.S. says it is ready to resume talks with North Korea after Kim Jong Un pledged on Wednesday to dismantle key missile facilities and suggested that he would close the Yongbyon nuclear complex. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo invited North Korea’s foreign minister to meet in New York next week to discuss the possibility of North Korea denuclearizing by January 2021. (Reuters)
Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis (R) is dealing with his campaign’s fifth race-related controversy after newly unearthed tweets showed one of his campaign allies using a racial slur to describe Barack Obama. “FUCK THE MUSLIM N—–,” wrote Steven Alembik, who has donated more than $20,000 to DeSantis’ campaign. A DeSantis campaign spokesperson said that they “adamantly denounce this sort of disgusting rhetoric.” (The Hill / Politico)
Trump has named retiring Rep. Darrell Issa to head the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. Issa is the former House Oversight Committee chairman, and has been in Congress for nine terms. He built a name for himself by clashing with the Obama administration for years and by accusing top officials at the IRS of targeting conservative groups for political purposes. (Politico)
A Pennsylvania state representative introduced a bill to ban public school teachers from discussing politics in the classroom. Will Tallman said his bill would stop teachers from discussing “legislation, regulations, executive orders or court cases involving any level or branch of government.” (Morning Call)
The Russia story so far: What we know and what it means. (New York Times)
What We’ve Learned in the Russia Probe: Week of Sept 9 - 15. (WTF Just Happened Today)
The Trump Russia Investigation. Everything we’ve learned so far. (WTF Just Happened Today)
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