September 26, 2018

Trump Terrible 10: Kavanaugh Confrontation Edition

Trump Terrible 10: Kavanaugh Confrontation Edition

A woman, Christine Blasey Ford, came forward on her own and provided a detailed account of a drunken Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulting her in high school. A second woman, Deborah Ramirez, when contacted by reporters who had heard about an incident from former Yale students, said that a drunken Kavanaugh exposed himself to her in college.

And that, according to Mitch McConnell, Orrin Hatch, and Brett Kavanaugh, is a Democratic “smear” campaign.

According to Donald J. Trump, it’s a “con game.”

Why is this sexual assault allegation phase of the Kavanaugh confirmation battle of interest to this little anti-corruption news outlet? Because there is a relentless, heavily-funded campaign by the conservative establishment, backed with corporate donations, to put this most anti-worker, anti-consumer, anti-environment judge on the Supreme Court, and the architects of the campaign — Leonard Leo, Mitch McConnell, Don McGahn, Donald Trump — seem determined to shove the nominee through before the truth can be reached.  Kavanaugh himself repeatedly made false statements in his confirmation hearings regarding his work in the Bush administration, and his blanket denials of any youthful misconduct also ring false. The entire charade highlights the grotesque tactics of the Donald Trump-Mitch McConnell Republican Party, the most corrupt American political party of our lifetimes.

The GOP has rallied, attacking the Kavanaugh accusers with merciless repetition of prescribed talking points, well beyond Kavanaugh’s already-famous seventeen-times repetition of the words “fair process” in his Fox News interview. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Kavanaugh’s lawyer, Beth Wilkinson, were among those who parroted the phrase “character assassination.” Numerous Republicans said the women’s allegations should not be able to “ruin” Kavanaugh’s life, as if all of us who are not Supreme Court justices have ruined lives.

On CNN Monday, Laura Bush White House aide Anita McBride offered Wolf Blitzer an obviously canned talking point that the accusations against Kavanaugh would deter good people from government service; her interview was interrupted by a CNN Breaking News alert in which a reporter read a new statement from Kavanaugh saying exactly the same thing. Tuesday morning at the UN, Trump uttered that talking point as well.

With the emergence of an extremely troubling accusation from a third woman, Julie Swetnick, even Kavanaugh’s most ardent backers are shaking.  But it’s not over yet. As one guy often says, we’ll see what happens.

Since 2017, Republic Report‘s “Trump Terrible 10” has ranked the week’s 10 most disgraceful people in Trump world.

Republic Report, which focuses on how money corrupts democracy, has met its abusive dream mate with the kleptocratic administration of President Donald J. Trump. Trump and his lieutenants personify how money and greed, mixed with disrespect for constitutional values, know-nothing ignorance, serious bigotry, and an endless capacity for lying, can really, really corrupt democracy.

Permanent spoiler alert: We can’t imagine anyone other than Donald Trump ever occupying the top spot in the rankings. But we won’t get tired of him winning. Believe me.

10. Charles Grassley, United States Senator (R-IA), and chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee. Last week’s ranking: —

A beleaguered old farmer chasing crows off his porch, Grassley, acting as McConnell’s stooge, refused to seek an FBI investigation of Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh; refused to consider calling other witnesses, like alleged-other-boy-in-room Mark Judge and Deborah Ramirez; hired a female lawyer to front for the Eleven Angry Republican Men on the committee; and has scheduled a committee vote on Kavanaugh for 9:30 am Friday, just hours after the committee is set to hear from Ford.

9. Alexandra Walsh, founding member, Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz, and attorney for Brett Kavanaugh. Last week’s ranking: —

Reacting to the revelation that Kavanaugh and his prep school buddies used the Georgetown Prep yearbook to slur a girl named Renate as promiscuous — with Kavanaugh and others boasting they were “Renate Alumni” — Walsh issued a statement asserting, “Judge Kavanaugh and Ms. Dolphin attended one high school event together and shared a brief kiss good night following that event…. The language from Judge Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook refers to the fact that he and Ms. Dolphin attended that one high school event together and nothing else.” That is such obvious BS. And by the way, Ms. Dolphin says there was no such kiss, and she added of Kavanaugh and his friends, “I pray their daughters are never treated this way.”

8. Amy Chua, John M. Duff, Jr. Professor of Law, Yale Law School. Last week’s ranking: —

Tiger Mom and Kavanaugh law clerk feeder Chua denies allegations that she told a group of law students last year that it was “not an accident” that Kavanaugh’s female law clerks all “looked like models” and that she encouraged a student to send her pictures dressed in various outfits so Chua could ensure she dressed in an “outgoing” way for her interview with the judge. I believe the accusers.

7. The Florida GOP operatives who talked with CNN. Last week’s ranking: —

Presented by CNN as a focus group of Republican women, these ringers offered such helpful views on Dr. Ford’s allegations as “Tell me what boy hasn’t done this in high school”; “Why didn’t she come out sooner if she’s telling the truth?”; “In the grand scheme of things, my goodness, there was no intercourse, there was maybe a touch,” “Who brought the alcohol for these kids?”; and “Perhaps in that moment she liked him.”

6. Edward Whelan, President, Ethics and Public Policy Center (on leave), and Greg Mueller, president, CRC Public Relations. Last week’s ranking: —

Mueller and CRC, known for the Swift Boat attack on John Kerry, crafted, along with Leonard Leo (see 3 below), the rollout of Kavanaugh pal Whelan’s Perry Mason tweetstorm fingering an innocent middle school teacher for the assault on Ford. It was a Hail Mary effort to get Ford to stay home, but she immediately made clear it was garbage and the scheme collapsed. Whelan apologized and took a leave of absence from his think tank, but his accusation, of course, made “Fox & Friends” and will live on in the hearts and memes of Trump supporters across the nation. It was also revealed that Mueller had planted a CRC employee on Grassley’s Judiciary staff, but that guy had to resign Saturday when it turned out he had been accused of sexual harassment.  I wonder if corporate clients of CRC, who have included Amazon, Chevron, General Motors, Microsoft, and Pizza Hut, will want to stay associated with this sleaze factory.

5. Lindsey Graham, United States Senator (R-SC)Last week’s ranking: 7

President Trump’s best friend tweeted Monday, “What we are witnessing is the total collapse of the traditional confirmation process for a Supreme Court nominee. It is being replaced by a game of delay, deception, and wholesale character assassination.” He demanded that there be a vote soon after the hearing. This afternoon, Graham opined that “normal people” would “go to the cops” in the event of a rape.

4. Orrin Hatch, United States Senator (R-UT). Last week’s ranking: —

Hatch’s initial response to the Ford allegation was that the accuser is “mixed up.” On the Senate floor Monday, Hatch called Ramirez’s allegations a “smear campaign” by Senate Democrats who are “demeaning both the Senate and the Supreme Court through their partisan games and transparent attempts at character assassination.” He added, “No innuendo has been too low, no insinuation too dirty. Everything is an excuse for delay, no matter how unsubstantiated.” Allegations that a man slated to serve on the highest court in the land committed sexual assault are “an excuse”?

3. Leonard Leo, Executive Vice President, the Federalist SocietyLast week’s ranking: —

Leonard Leo’s dream of a Supreme Court majority that will deny women their reproductive rights is bankrolled by millions in corporate and dark money donations to his web of organizations including the Judicial Crisis Network and the Federalist Society. The dream of these rich donors may differ somewhat from Leo’s — what many of them want is government rules that allow them to crush unions, engage in deceptive practices, and sell toxic products if they wish. Fortunately, it all comes together in the form of Leo’s close pal, Brett Kavanaugh. The fantasy that the Federalist Society is some kind of rarified intellectual grouping should have been shattered in the Lewinsky era and was exposed again this week with the revelation that Leo aided Ed Whelan in the unwarranted, outrageous accusation against the middle school teacher.

2. Brett Kavanaugh, judge, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and nominee, United States Supreme CourtLast week’s ranking: 3

When, prior to the sexual assault allegations, we said Kavanaugh was poised to become our nation’s first bro Justice, we were reacting to the entitled, swaggery vibe he emitted. His handling of this whole affair smells of that attitude. Kavanaugh, who was schooled, after Georgetown Prep and Yale, in the Ken Starr investigation, the Florida recount, and the Bush White House, and who engaged in numerous documented deceptions in his prior hearings, may be a skilled legal practitioner, but at his core he is a political operative — Roger Stone posing as Learned Hand.

But even most political operatives know when it’s time to sacrifice for the good of the cause. Kavanaugh, like his patron Trump, is all about himself. Kavanaugh knew he had skeletons in his closet, from prep school through his Bush days. He knows we’re in the #MeToo era. He knows there are plenty of other judges who could have ably added the 5th vote that conservatives and corporations want on the Court. He could have politely declined the nomination, saying in private simply that he didn’t want to dig up the Bush era allegations and risk trouble for the GOP. Instead, he thought he could get away with it. And now he has created trauma for his own family, his accusers, and others.

Note that even Clarence Thomas, in his opening statement in the Anita Hill hearing, allowed for the possibility that he might have made mistakes:

I cannot imagine anything that I said or did to Anita Hill that could have been mistaken for sexual harassment. But with that said, if there is anything that I have said that has been misconstrued by Anita Hill or anyone else to be sexual harassment, then I can say that I am so very sorry and I wish I had known. If I did know, I would have stopped immediately and I would not, as I’ve done over the past two weeks, had to tear away at myself trying to think of what I could possibly have done.

By contrast, Kavanaugh, on Fox News, insisted he was choir boy, a sexual abstainer, that he was of legal age to drink as a high school senior (he was not). In his new statement to the Judiciary Committee, perhaps having heard the criticisms, he opens up slightly, but allows only that he is “not perfect,” and “sometimes… had too many” beers.  His prior boasts of binge drinking, of what happens in wherever stays in wherever, of boofing and Renating, still don’t exist.

2. Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader (R-KY)Last week’s ranking: —

McConnell just doesn’t give a damn that women may have been assaulted, if giving a damn would mean any risk of losing this nominee — the nominee who can deliver court decisions favored by wealthy GOP donors. McConnell said the Senate would “plow through” to confirmation, a horrible and revealing word choice. He said Tuesday, “I’m confident we’re going to win,” meaning at this point a “win” over women who say Kavanaugh attacked them.

1. Donald J. Trump, President of the United States. Last week’s ranking: no kidding

Trump’s ugly, misogynist tweet suggesting that Dr. Ford must be lying because she didn’t report the alleged assault immediately ranks with his most vile outbursts. At the UN this morning, Trump again essentially called Kavanaugh’s accusers liars, claiming that Democratic senators really “don’t believe” the allegations, but instead are engaged in a “con game.” And, of course, Trump has added Kavanaugh to the Pantheon of the Treated Very Unfairly, alongside such other martyrs as Dinesh D’Souza, Joe Arpaio, Louis Libby, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Ronny Jackson, Ivanka, Jared, Israel, and, of course, Donald J. Trump.

Trump also revealed this morning that he “would have preferred” that the Senate Republicans pushed through the Kavanaugh nomination two weeks ago — meaning without considering Ford’s allegations. He says Kavanaugh “was born” to be on the Court, and is, of course, from “Central Casting.” He’s an idiot.

Trump is also juggling whether to fire Rod Rosenstein now, or wait until after the elections — as if there would be any legitimacy to terminating the honest, capable Deputy Attorney General whose presence is the only protection for the Mueller probe of Russian interference in the U.S. election.

When the collected world leaders laughed at Trump’s United Nations brag that his presidency has been one of the best ever, it confirmed the closing refrain of this feature:

Trump is again number one — the most disgraceful person in Trump world. Trump is not merely a disgrace; he’s a total and complete disgrace.

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