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Trump Stumps for Senator in Las Vegas

President Donald Trump is in Las Vegas stumping for Republican Sen. Dean Heller, who is in the fight of his career to keep his seat.

 

Trump is praising Heller as “a champion” of workers, veterans and families and says he has “no better friend.”

 

Heller, who once said he “vehemently” opposed Trump, has now allied himself with the president.

 

Trump says, “We started off slow, but we ended up strong.”

 

Heller is in a tight race with Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen, a first-term congresswoman who stands to benefit from a wave of anti-Trump activism.

 

Trump is mocking Rosen as “Wacky Jacky.” 

 

Trump saved Heller from a costly primary earlier this year when he persuaded Danny Tarkanian to drop out of the Senate race and instead seek a House seat.

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Facebook to Drop On-site Support for Political Campaigns

Facebook Inc. said Thursday that it would no longer dispatch employees to the offices of political campaigns to offer support ahead of elections, as it did with U.S. President Donald Trump in the 2016 race.

The company and other major online ad sellers, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Twitter Inc., have long offered free dedicated assistance to strengthen relationships with top advertisers such as presidential campaigns.

Brad Parscale, who was Trump’s online ads chief in 2016, last year called on-site “embeds” from Facebook crucial to the candidate’s victory. Facebook has said that Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton was offered identical help, but she accepted a different level than Trump.

Google and Twitter did not immediately respond to requests to comment on whether they also would pull back support.

Facebook said it could offer assistance to more candidates globally by focusing on offering support through an online portal instead of in person. It said that political organizations still would be able to contact employees to

receive basic training on using Facebook or for assistance on getting ads approved.

Bloomberg first reported the new approach.

Shaping communications

Facebook, Twitter, and Google served as “quasi-digital consultants” to U.S. election campaigns in 2016, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of Utah found in a paper published a year ago.

The companies helped campaigns navigate their services’ ad systems and “actively” shaped campaign communication by suggesting what types of messages to direct to whom, the researchers stated.

Facebook’s involvement with Trump’s campaign drew scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers after the company found its user data had separately been misused by political data firm Cambridge Analytica, which consulted for the Trump campaign. 

In written testimony to U.S. lawmakers in June, Facebook said its employees had not spotted any misuse “in the course of their interactions with Cambridge Analytica” during the election.

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US Prepared to Strike in Cyberspace

The United States is prepared to go on the offensive in cyberspace to ensure adversaries know there is a price to pay for hacks, network intrusions and other types of attacks.

President Donald Trump signed a new National Cyber Strategy on Thursday, calling for a more aggressive response to the growing online threat posed by other countries, terrorist groups and criminal organizations.

“My administration will use all available means to keep America safe from cyber threats,” Trump said in a statement, calling the new strategy an “important step.”

Other key officials called the new strategy an important and badly needed change.

“We’re not just on defense,” National Security Adviser John Bolton told reporters. “We’re going to do a lot of things offensively, and I think our adversaries need to know that.”

“Our hands are not tied as they were in the Obama administration,” he added.

Strategy effective immediately

The strategy, which takes effect immediately, is being billed by the Trump administration as the first “fully articulated” cyberstrategy in 15 years, providing direction to various departments and agencies on how best to protect their data as well as the private data of millions of Americans.

The internet has brought prosperity and productivity to American lives and those across the world, Bolton said. 

“We must do more to ensure it is secure and remains an engine of American growth,” he added.

He said the ultimate goal is “to create the structures of deterrence that will demonstrate to adversaries that the cost of their engaging in operations against us is higher than they want to bear.”

​Midterm elections

The new strategy comes less than two months before the U.S. midterm elections Nov. 6, and as key security and intelligence officials have amplified their warnings that Russia and other adversaries, such as China, Iran and North Korea, may seek to use cyber means to interfere.

“I remain deeply concerned about threats from several countries,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said during a security conference outside Washington earlier this month, warning the threats are even more pervasive.

“Influence efforts online are increasingly being used around the globe,” Coats said. “The weaponization of cybertools and the relative lack of global guardrails significantly increases the risk.”

Promoting responsible behavior

The new U.S. cyberstrategy seeks to allay some of those concerns by promoting responsible behavior in cyberspace, urging nations to adhere to a set of norms, both through international law and voluntary standards.

It also calls for specific measures to harden U.S. government networks from attacks, like the June 2015 intrusion into the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which compromised the records of about 4.2 million current and former government employees, an attack attributed to China.

And the strategy calls for the U.S. to continue to name and shame bad cyber actors, calling them out publicly for attacks when possible, along with the use of economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure.

“Not every response to a cyberattack would be in the cyber world,” Bolton said, calling offensive cyber tools “part of the range of instruments of national power that we have.”

​Obama directive reversed

As for what offensive cyber measures might look like, Bolton would not say. But White House officials contend they have already made it easier for the military to hack back by reversing a directive from the Obama administration known as PPD-20, which created what they describe as a lengthy approval process for any offensive operation.

Military officials have said that newfound flexibility is being put to use.

“We are engaged every single day against our adversaries,” U.S. Cyber Command Commander General Paul Nakasone said at a security conference earlier this month.

“It may not be readily apparent because we are doing this very closely held,” Nakasone said, adding, “the forces that are working are well-trained, extremely capable and ready to do what’s necessary.”

Earlier criticism

The Trump administration has come under criticism at times for its approach to cybersecurity, raising concerns earlier this year when it eliminated the National Security Council’s cybersecurity coordinator.

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office also said that the administration’s efforts lacked “a more clearly defined, coordinated and comprehensive approach,” a charge repeated by some members of Congress.

But Bolton said the new strategy should ease such concerns.

“I’m satisfied that this allows us the comprehensive look at strategy across the entire government,” Bolton said. “Each agency knows its lane and is pursuing it vigorously.”

The new strategy also places a heavy emphasis on working with allies.

“There will be consultations, there have been already, with friends and allies because many of us are vulnerable to the same hostile actions,” Bolton said. “It’s very important that we work through our alliance structures where we can do that.”

White House Bureau Chief Steve Herman contributed to this article.

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Republicans Want Decision on Whether Kavanaugh Accuser Will Testify

The head of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee says the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her has until Friday morning to indicate she plans to testify before the panel in a hearing Monday.

California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her 36 years ago when both were in high school, an alleged attack that left Ford fearful for her life. Kavanaugh has denied the claims.

 

WATCH: Fate of Supreme Court Nominee Rests With a Divided Senate

“As you know, I have reopened the hearing on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination in light of Dr. Ford’s allegations,” Chairman Chuck Grassley said in a letter Wednesday. “That hearing will begin again on Monday, September 25, at 10 a.m. I have invited Dr. Ford to testify regarding her allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. And in recognition of how difficult it can be to discuss allegations of this kind in public, I have also offered her the choice of testifying in either a public or closed session of the hearing.”

Ford has not indicated whether she will attend the hearing. Her lawyers have called for an FBI probe of her allegations before she testifies.

“The rush to a hearing is unnecessary, and contrary to the committee discovering the truth,” Lisa Banks, one of Ford’s lawyers, said in a statement to CNN on Wednesday.

Banks said Ford and her family have received threats, which has caused them to leave their home.

“She continues to believe that a full, nonpartisan investigation of this matter is needed, and she is willing to cooperate with the committee,” Banks said. “However, the committee’s stated plan to move forward with a hearing that has only two witnesses is not a fair or good faith investigation; there are multiple witnesses whose names have appeared publicly and should be included in any proceeding.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee is considering Kavanaugh’s nomination for a lifetime seat on the country’s highest court.

Republicans hold a slim majority in the Senate. The Judiciary Committee had been expected to vote on Kavanaugh Thursday, but that was pushed back after Ford went public with her accusation in a Washington Post article.

Many Republicans have called for the confirmation process to go forward, accusing Democrats of trying to stall. Democrats have said there is no need to rush and that the allegations should be fully considered.

Democrats seek FBI inquiry

That continued Wednesday with Democratic Senator Kamala Harris saying Republican opposition to an FBI probe “doesn’t make sense.”

“Members of the U.S. Senate should exercise due diligence, not rush toward a vote for a lifetime appointment. The people we represent didn’t send us here to shirk our duty,” she said.

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch wrote in the Washington Examiner that both Kavanaugh and Ford should directly address the allegations before the committee, but that Democrats have mishandled the process.

“No matter the outcome, Democrats should be held responsible for circumventing the very process that protects people like Ford. Their decision to reveal this allegation at the most politically damaging moment reeks of opportunism,” Hatch said.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, to whom Ford wrote a letter in July outlining her allegations, has defended the timing of how the information became public, saying it was only appropriate for Ford to make that decision.

President Donald Trump expressed support for his nominee Wednesday, saying that “it’s very hard for me to imagine” that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Ford.

Trump said he hopes Ford testifies at Monday’s hearing.

“I really want to see her, to see what she has to say,” Trump said of Ford, now 51. He said it “would be unfortunate” if she does not appear.

​Anita Hill

Meanwhile, Anita Hill, the law professor at the center of lurid 1991 confirmation hearings involving Clarence Thomas as a U.S. Supreme Court justice, supported Ford’s call for an FBI investigation of her claims.

Hill told ABC’s Good Morning America show: “The American public really is expecting something more. They want to know that the Senate takes this seriously.”

Hill, now a law professor at Brandeis University, said Republican leaders are in an unnecessary rush to confirm Kavanaugh.

“Either they don’t take this seriously,” she said, “or … they just want to get it over. I’m not sure which is in play. Maybe they’re not concerned, or maybe they don’t know how to handle this kind of situation.”

The specter of Hill’s allegations 27 years ago that Thomas often sexually harassed her when they both worked for a federal government agency hangs heavy over the current Kavanaugh confirmation proceedings.

Hill’s accusations were largely dismissed then by the all-male Senate committee, but many American women sympathized with her claims against Thomas, saying they resonated with their own experiences in the workplace. Thomas was confirmed on a narrow Senate vote and remains a conservative stalwart on the court to this day.

Republican lawmakers are trying to win Senate confirmation for Kavanaugh ahead of the start of the court’s new term, Oct. 1, or if not by then, ahead of the Nov. 6 nationwide congressional elections, to show Republican voters they have made good on campaign promises to place conservative judges like Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

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Fate of Supreme Court Nominee Rests With a Divided Senate

The U.S. Senate remains divided over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh has denied an allegation by Christine Blasey Ford that he sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers in the 1980s. Ford and Democrats are seeking an FBI investigation into the alleged assault before she would testify at the Senate Judiciary Committee, while President Donald Trump and Republicans are so far resisting. More on the battle over Kavanaugh’s nomination from VOA national correspondent Jim Malone.

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Lawmaker: US Senate, Staff Targeted by State-Backed Hackers

Foreign government hackers continue to target the personal email accounts of U.S. senators and their aides – and the Senate’s security office has refused to defend them, a lawmaker says.

Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said in a Wednesday letter to Senate leaders that his office discovered that “at least one major technology company” has warned an unspecified number of senators and aides that their personal email accounts were “targeted by foreign government hackers.” Similar methods were employed by Russian military agents who leaked the contents of private email inboxes to influence the 2016 elections.

Wyden did not specify the timing of the notifications, but a Senate staffer said they occurred “in the last few weeks or months.” The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

But the senator said the Office of the Sergeant at Arms , which oversees Senate security, informed legislators and staffers that it has no authority to help secure personal, rather than official, accounts. 

“This must change,” Wyden wrote in the letter. “The November election grows ever closer, Russia continues its attacks on our democracy, and the Senate simply does not have the luxury of further delays.” A spokeswoman for the security office said it would have no comment.

Wyden has proposed legislation that would allow the security office to offer digital protection for personal accounts and devices, the same way it does with official ones. His letter did not provide additional details of the attempts to pry into the lawmakers’ digital lives, including whether lawmakers of both parties are still being targeted.

Google and Microsoft, which offer popular private email accounts, declined to comment.

The Wyden letter cites previous Associated Press reporting on the Russian hacking group known as Fancy Bear and how it targeted the personal accounts of congressional aides between 2015 and 2016. The group’s prolific cyberspying targeted the Gmail accounts of current and former Senate staffers, including Robert Zarate, now national security adviser to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Jason Thielman, chief of staff to Montana Sen. Steve Daines, the AP found.

The same group also spent the second half of 2017 laying digital traps intended to look like portals where Senate officials enter their work email credentials, the Tokyo-based cybersecurity firm TrendMicro has reported.

Microsoft seized some of those traps, and in September 2017 apparently thwarted an attempt to steal login credentials of a policy aide to Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill , the Daily Beast discovered in July. Last month, Microsoft made news again when it seized several internet domains linked to Fancy Bear , including two apparently aimed at conservative think tanks in Washington.

Such incidents “only scratch the surface” of advanced cyberthreats faced by U.S. officials in the administration and Congress, according to Thomas Rid, a cybersecurity expert at Johns Hopkins University. Rid made the statement in a letter to Wyden last week .

“The personal accounts of senators and their staff are high-value, low-hanging targets,” Rid wrote. “No rules, no regulations, no funding streams, no mandatory training, no systematic security support is available to secure these resources.” 

Attempts to breach such accounts were a major feature of the yearlong AP investigation into Fancy Bear that identified hundreds of senior officials and politicians – including former secretaries of state, top generals and intelligence chiefs – whose Gmail accounts were targeted. 

The Kremlin is by no means the only source of worry, said Matt Tait, a University of Texas cybersecurity fellow and former British intelligence official. 

“There are lots of countries that are interested in what legislators are thinking, what they’re doing, how to influence them, and it’s not just for purposes of dumping their information online,” Tait said.

In an April 12 letter released by Wyden’s office, Adm. Michael Rogers – then director of the National Security Agency – acknowledged that personal accounts of senior government officials “remain prime targets for exploitation” and said that officials at the NSA and Department for Homeland Security were discussing ways to better protect them. The NSA and DHS declined to offer further details.

Guarding personal accounts is a complex, many-layered challenge.

Rid believes tech companies have a sudden responsibility to nudge high-profile political targets into better digital hygiene. He said he did not believe much as been done, although Facebook announced a pilot program Monday to help political campaigns protect their accounts, including monitoring for potential hacking threats for those that sign up.

Boosting protection in the Senate could begin with the distribution of small chip-based security devices such as the YubiKey, which are already used in many secure corporate and government environments, Tait said. Such keys supplement passwords to authenticate legitimate users, potentially frustrating distant hackers.

Cybersecurity experts also recommend them for high-value cyber-espionage targets including human rights workers and journalists. 

“In an ideal world, the Sergeant at Arms could just have a pile of YubiKeys,” said Tait. “When legislators or staff come in they can (get) a quick cybersecurity briefing and pick up a couple of these for their personal accounts and their official accounts.” 

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State Department Meeting With Congress on Refugee Cap

The U.S. State Department says it is scheduling meetings with members of Congress, after the country’s top diplomat this week proposed a record-low cap on refugees coming to the United States in the next year.

When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday told reporters the “proposed” cap would be 30,000 refugees for Fiscal Year 2019, lawmakers and refugee advocates swiftly criticized the announcement.

What Pompeo did not explain — and it took the State Department a day to clarify in a news conference with the agency’s chief spokesperson Heather Nauert — is that Pompeo’s announcement was a proposal included in an annual report submitted to Congress, not the final number.

A State Department spokesperson told VOA on Wednesday that the agency sent the report, with the proposed refugee ceiling, to Congress on Sept. 17, the same day as Pompeo’s announcement.

“We are working to schedule an in person consultation with Members and a briefing for their staffs as soon as possible,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement to VOA.

The report is created by the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of the president.

Every year, the president sets the so-called “ceiling” on refugees — the maximum number that will be allowed in over the 12-month period starting Oct. 1 — by a “presidential determination.” Part of the process is a consultation with Congress before the figure can be finalized.

The president has until the end of the month to make the presidential determination on the refugee ceiling. The full report is expected to be made public in the coming days, the State Department spokesperson added.

If the president sticks to the 30,000-refugee cap for FY2019, it will be the lowest ceiling on record since the U.S. refugee program began in the early 1980s.

The decision will come after a series of Trump administration decisions that have whittled down the program, citing unproven national security concerns.

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Trump Rips Attorney General Over Russia Probe, Other Issues

U.S. President Donald Trump launched an array of attacks Wednesday on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, disparaging Sessions’ performance as the country’s top law enforcement official.

“I’m disappointed in the attorney general for many reasons,” Trump told reporters at the White House. His remark came hours after a television interview with HillTV aired in which Trump declared, “I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad.”

Trump for more than a year has railed against Sessions, the first senator to declare his support for then-candidate Trump in 2016. Trump continues to vent his anger at Sessions for removing himself from oversight of the long-running investigation of Russia links to Trump’s campaign and whether, as president, Trump obstructed justice by trying to thwart the probe.

Sessions has said that he was required by Justice Department dictates to recuse himself from overseeing the probe because he staunchly backed Trump’s campaign and also had two contacts in 2016, when he was a senator from Alabama, with Russia’s then-ambassador to Washington. Oversight of the Russia probe then fell to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who in turn, over Trump’s objections, appointed Robert Mueller, a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as special counsel to head the investigation.

Mueller has now won several convictions of top Trump aides and continues to investigate Trump’s campaign and his actions as president.

In the television interview, Trump attacked Sessions on a range of issues. The Justice Department, which Sessions heads, declined to comment. But Sessions, after another Trump attack on him last month, pushed back, saying, “While I am attorney general, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”

‘We’ll see how it goes’

Even though Sessions has proved to be a hardline foe of illegal immigration into the U.S., Trump said, “I’m not happy at the border, I’m not happy with numerous things, not just” Sessions’s removal of himself from oversight of the Russia investigation.

Trump suggested he did not foresee what would happen when he named Sessions as attorney general.

“I’m so sad over Jeff Sessions because he came to me. He was the first senator that endorsed me. And he wanted to be attorney general, and I didn’t see it,” he said.

“And then he went through the nominating process and he did very poorly,” Trump recalled. “I mean, he was mixed up and confused, and people that worked with him for, you know, a long time in the Senate were not nice to him, but he was giving very confusing answers. Answers that should have been easily answered. And that was a rough time for him.”

Despite his frequent complaints about Sessions, Trump has refrained from firing him, warned by Republican lawmakers that Trump would have great difficulty winning Senate confirmation for any replacement who did not pledge to allow Mueller to complete the Russia probe, an investigation that Trump derides on almost a daily basis.

Some Republican lawmakers have said they might be open to Trump replacing Sessions after the November 6 national congressional elections.

One Republican lawmaker who talks frequently with Trump, Senator Lindsey Graham, said recently, “The president’s entitled to having an attorney general he has faith in, somebody that is qualified for the job, and I think there will come a time sooner rather than later where it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice. Clearly, Attorney General Sessions doesn’t have the confidence of the president.”

Trump recently said Sessions was safe in his job until after the elections.

In the television interview, he said, “We’ll see what happens. A lot of people have asked me to [fire him]. And I guess I study history, and I say I just want to leave things alone, but it was very unfair what he did.”

“And my worst enemies, I mean, people that, you know, are on the other side of me in a lot of ways, including politically, have said that was a very unfair thing he did,” Trump said.

“We’ll see how it goes with Jeff,” Trump concluded. “I’m very disappointed in Jeff. Very disappointed.”

 

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Trump: ‘Hard for Me to Imagine’ Kavanaugh Assaulted Teen in 1982

U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that “it’s very hard for me to imagine” that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a teenage girl 36 years ago when both were in high school, an alleged attack the woman says left her fearful for her life.

Trump said he hopes Kavanaugh’s accuser, California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, testifies at a hearing next Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is considering Kavanaugh’s nomination for a life-time seat on the country’s highest court.

“I really want to see her, to see what she has to say,” Trump said of Ford, now 51. The U.S. leader said it “would be unfortunate” if she does not appear.

Ford’s lawyers late Tuesday called for an FBI probe of her claims before she testifies, but Trump and Republicans that control the Senate panel say an FBI investigation is unnecessary. Kavanaugh, who says he will appear at the Senate panel’s hearing, has adamantly denied knowledge of the purported 1982 party at a suburban Washington home and said he has never attacked any woman.

Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House as he headed to North Carolina to view vast flood damage from Hurricane Florence, praised the 53-year-old Kavanaugh as “an extraordinary man.” But Trump said “it’s really up to the Senate” to decide how to proceed with the confirmation process.

Meanwhile, Anita Hill, the law professor at the center of lurid 1991 confirmation hearings involving Clarence Thomas as a U.S. Supreme Court justice, supported Ford’s call for an FBI investigation of her claims.

Hill told ABC’s “Good Morning America” show, “The American public really is expecting something more. They want to know that the Senate takes this seriously.”

Hill, now a law professor at Brandeis University, said Republican leaders are in an unnecessary rush to confirm Kavanaugh.

“Either they don’t take this seriously,” she said, “or … they just want to get it over. I’m not sure which is in play. Maybe they’re not concerned, or maybe they don’t know how to handle this kind of situation.”

The specter of Hill’s allegations 27 years ago that Thomas often sexually harassed her when they both worked for a federal government agency hangs heavy over the current Kavanaugh confirmation proceedings.

 Hill’s accusations were largely dismissed then by the all-male Senate committee, but many American women sympathized with her claims against Thomas, saying they resonated with their own experiences in the workplace. Thomas was confirmed on a narrow Senate vote and remains a conservative stalwart on the court to this day.

The chairman of the Senate panel, Republican Senator Charles Grassley, said, “The invitation for Monday still stands” for both Ford and Kavanaugh to testify.

“Dr. Ford’s testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events,” Grassley said. “Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay.”

Republican lawmakers are trying to win Senate confirmation for Kavanaugh ahead of the court’s start of a new term on October 1, or if not by then, ahead of the November 6 nationwide congressional elections, to show Republican voters they have made good on campaign promises to place conservative judges like Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

Ford’s lawyers told Grassley in a letter late Tuesday that some of the senators on the committee “appear to have made up their minds” and believe Kavanaugh.

“A full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a nonpartisan manner and that the committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions,” the letter said.

Death threats

The lawyers also said Ford has become the subject of death threats and harassment, and expressed fears that the committee planned to have her “relive this traumatic and harrowing incident” while testifying at the same table as Kavanaugh and in front of national television cameras.

“Nobody should be subject to threats and intimidation, and Dr. Ford is no exception,” Grassley said in a statement later Tuesday.

The Republican senator said there were no plans to have Ford and Kavanaugh appear at the same time, and that the committee had offered her the opportunity to appear before a private hearing.

Ford alleged in a Washington Post interview that Kavanaugh groped her at the house party when she was 15 and he was 17. 

She said Kavanaugh, “stumbling drunk,” threw her down on a bed, grinding his body against hers and trying to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she was wearing over it. Ford said when she tried to scream, he put his hand over her mouth.

She said she feared Kavanaugh might inadvertently kill her before she managed to flee.

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Woman Accusing Judge Kavanaugh of Sexual Assault Wants FBI Probe

Lawyers for the woman who is accusing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault more than 30 years ago says she wants the FBI to investigate her allegation before she testifies publicly.

Kavanaugh denies the charge and will apparently tell his side of the story before the Senate Judiciary Committee next Monday. 

His accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, has also been invited to testify. 

But Ford’s lawyers say in a letter to Committee Chairman, Republican Chuck Grassley, that some of the senators on the committee “appear to have made up their minds” and believe Kavanaugh.

“A full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a nonpartisan manner and that the committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions,” the letter states.

President Donald Trump gave Kavanaugh a ringing new endorsement Tuesday, saying he felt “so badly” that Kavanaugh is facing scrutiny over allegations that he assaulted a teenage girl when both were in high school.

“This is not a man that deserves this,” Trump said. “I feel terrible for his family.”

The president assailed California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein for not disclosing the allegations when she first learned of them in July. He accused Democrats of being “lousy politicians, but good obstructionists” in their efforts to derail Kavanaugh’s confirmation to a lifetime appointment on the country’s highest court.

Ford, a California psychology professor, told The Washington Post Kavanaugh groped her at a suburban Washington house party when she was 15 and he was 17. 

She said Kavanaugh, “stumbling drunk,” threw her down on a bed, grinding his body against hers and trying to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she was wearing over it. Ford said when she tried to scream, he put his hand over her mouth.

She said she feared Kavanaugh might inadvertently kill her before she managed to flee.

Some Democratic lawmakers have also called for an FBI investigation. The agency conducted background checks six times over the years on Kavanaugh.

But Trump said ahead of his news conference, “I don’t think the FBI should be involved because they don’t want to be involved.” He said senators hearing Ford’s accusations, if she testifies, “will open it up and they will do a very good job” considering Ford’s allegations and Kavanaugh’s denial.

Grassley said the panel plans to call only two witnesses, Ford and Kavanaugh, and not another man, Mark Judge, whom Ford says was in the same bedroom during the alleged attack.

Grassley’s omission of Judge, who has denied an attack occurred, and other possible witnesses, drew the ire of Feinstein, the top Democrat on the judiciary panel that is considering Kavanaugh’s nomination and held four days of testimony earlier this month, including hours of questioning of Kavanaugh. 

“It’s impossible to take this process seriously,” Feinstein said.

“What about other witnesses like Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge?” Feinstein said. “What about individuals who were previously told about this incident? What about experts who can speak to the effects of this kind of trauma on a victim? This is another attempt by Republicans to rush this nomination and not fully vet Judge Kavanaugh.”

The Senate’s No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, raised doubts about Ford’s account of the alleged three-decade-old incident, saying, “The problem is Dr. Ford can’t remember when it was, where it was, or how it came to be.” 

Republicans, some of whom see the allegations as a stalling tactic by Democrats to thwart Kavanaugh’s confirmation, have been pushing to confirm him before November’s midterm elections, when they could lose their 51-49 majority control of the Senate.

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