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PayPal Dumps Alex Jones, Infowars

PayPal, the digital payments company, says it has cut business ties with far-right media personality Alex Jones and his Infowars website.

A PayPal spokesman said Friday, “We undertook an extensive review of the Infowars sites, and found instances that promoted hate or discriminatory intolerance against certain communities and religions, which run counter to our core value of inclusion.”

Infowars said the move is a ploy aimed at sabotaging Jones’ online influence just weeks ahead of the midterm elections.

In recent months, several other companies, including  Apple, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have either dumped or limited their connection with Jones.

Jones is one of the country’s most controversial media figures, known for saying the President George W. Bush White House was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He also called the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting a fake. Some of the parents of the murdered children are suing Jones.

 

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Senator Gives Kavanaugh Accuser More Time to Decide About Testimony 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley has given the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault until 2:30 p.m. Saturday to decide if she will testify next week, according to a report in The New York Times.

The newspaper reported that Grassley sent an email to Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers that said the Senate panel “absolutely must hear by 2:30 p.m.” about Ford’s decision.

The Senate committee had given Ford until 10 p.m. Friday to make a decision, but her lawyer asked for a one-day extension minutes before the Friday deadline.

Grassley announced the extension on Twitter in a post with an apologetic tone that was addressed to Kavanaugh.

Lawyers for Ford have said she wants to testify before a Senate panel next week, but only if her safety is ensured. According to U.S. media reports, attorney Debra Katz said in an email to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Ford wishes to testify “provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety.”

Katz said her client has gotten death threats, and Ford and her family have been forced from their California home.

Grassley, a Republican, has scheduled a hearing for Monday for both Ford and Kavanaugh to appear to tell their stories.

But Katz wrote that “Monday’s date is not possible and the committee’s insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event.”

Katz said Ford’s “strong preference” is that “a full investigation” be completed before she testifies. She had earlier called for the FBI to look into the charges against Kavanaugh.

Trump tweets

On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump questioned the integrity of Ford, posting on Twitter that “if the attack … was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed” with police.

Trump also accused “radical left wing politicians” of attacking Kavanaugh, who Ford said sexually assaulted her at a house party 36 years ago.

Late Thursday, the White House released a letter from Kavanaugh to Grassley in which he said he wants to tell his side in a Monday hearing.

“I will be there. I continue to want a hearing as soon as possible so that I can clear my name,” he wrote.

Media reports say Kavanaugh has also received what law enforcement officials say are credible death threats.

Confirmation seemed certain

Trump chose Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

His approval by the Judiciary Committee and the Republican-majority Senate appeared to be an almost certainty until The Washington Post published its interview with Ford, who is now a California psychology professor.

She alleged a “stumbling drunk” 17-year-old Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a Maryland house party in 1982 when both were in high school. She said Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her, putting his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream, before she managed to escape.

Kavanaugh has adamantly denied the charges, saying he has never done any such thing to Ford or any other woman.

​Supporters for both sides

Women who say they have known and worked with Kavanaugh throughout his legal career say he has been respectful and fair in dealing with them. Dozens of women who support Kavanaugh held a Washington news conference Friday.

Sara Fagen, who described herself as a friend and former colleague of Kavanaugh, said she and the other women at the news conference believe the allegation is untrue.

“The reason that we know that this allegation is false is because we know Brett Kavanaugh,” Fagen said.

Women who attended Holton-Arms High School in Bethesda, Maryland, with Ford signed a letter in support of her that was personally delivered Thursday to Republican Senator and Holton-Arms alumna Shelley Moore Capito. Organizers said it was signed by more than 1,000 former students.

“We believe Dr. Blasey Ford and are grateful that she came forward to tell her story,” the letter said. “Dr. Blasey Ford’s experience is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves.”

Republican lawmakers are trying to win Senate confirmation for Kavanaugh ahead of the court’s start of a new term on 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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US Agency Endorses Plan to Block New Mining Near Yellowstone

U.S. officials recommended approval on Friday of a plan to block new mining claims for 20 years on the forested public lands that make up Yellowstone National Park’s mountainous northern boundary.

Regional Forester Leanne Marten submitted a letter to the Bureau of Land Management endorsing the plan to withdraw 30,000 acres (12,140 hectares) in Montana’s Paradise Valley and the Gardiner Basin from new claims for gold, silver, platinum and other minerals, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Marna Daley said.

A final decision is up to the office of U.S. Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke, who favors the withdrawal. Zinke said in a statement that it could be finalized in coming weeks.

The Trump administration’s support is notable given the president’s outspoken advocacy for the mining industry and his criticism of government regulations said to stifle economic development. The proposal has received bipartisan backing in Montana, with Democrats and Republicans alike eager to cast themselves as protectors of the natural beauty of the Yellowstone region.

The rocky peaks and forested stream valleys covered by the withdrawal attract skiers, hikers and other recreational users. It’s an area where grizzly bears, wolves and other wildlife roam back and forth across the Yellowstone border — and where the scars of historical mining still are visible on some hillsides.

The Forest Service recommendation follows concerns among business owners, residents and local officials that two proposed mining projects north of Yellowstone could damage waterways and hurt tourism, a mainstay of the local economy. 

Those two projects would not be directly affected because the companies behind them have already made their mining claims, the companies have said. But others have said the new move could discourage investment into those project.

About 1.7 million people drove through the area last year, and withdrawing the land from new mining development would help protect the areas for wildlife and recreation, according to U.S. Forest Service officials.

The withdrawal includes only public lands, not existing mining claims or exploration on private lands. It’s been in the works since 2016 under Zinke’s predecessor, former Interior Sec. Sally Jewell.

“I’ve always said there are places where it is appropriate to mine and places where it isn’t. The Paradise Valley is one of those unique places,” Zinke said.

Montana Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines said the areas covered by the withdrawal were “truly special places that deserve protection.” 

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, called on Daines to support legislation sponsored by Tester that would make the withdrawal permanent. Tester’s bill was introduced last year and is currently before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, of which Daines is a member.

An identical bill sponsored by Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte is pending in the House.

The mining industry opposes putting the public land off limits. Backers of the withdrawal want it made permanent. 

Under the proposal, government officials have estimated that 81 acres (33 hectares) would still be disturbed by mining and 4.5 miles (7 kilometers) of new roads would be built, according to a Forest Service analysis completed in March. That compares to an estimated 130 acres (53 hectares) of land disturbed by mining and 7 miles (11 kilometers) of roads over 20 years if the withdrawal were not enacted.

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Trump Hits Pause on Controversial Release of Classified Russia Probe Material

Just days after ordering the controversial declassification of materials related to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, President Donald Trump in a sweeping and quick reversal of an order has put the release of the documents on hold. 

In a pair of Friday morning tweets, Trump said he had met with the Justice Department concerning declassification of unredacted documents from the Russia investigation. 

Federal law enforcement officials were reluctant to release material from an ongoing investigation, including part of a secret court order to monitor a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.

Also of deep concern to officials is the declassification of the interviews conducted for the application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. 

“The odds that a high-level resignation threat (Wray, Rosenstein?) wasn’t behind this are slim to none,” tweeted Ned Price, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, who was a spokesman for the National Security Council in the preceding administration of Barack Obama. 

There has been no comment from either Christopher Wray, who is the director of the FBI, or Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who oversees the investigation being led by special counsel Robert Mueller into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. 

“The president continues to project a rudimentary understanding of his authority and how government bureaucracy actually works,” according to Bradley Moss, an attorney specializing in national security matters and the deputy executive director of the James Madison Project. “He effectively ordered the declassification of materials and then retracted it mere days later, deferring to the inspector general to handle the tasks, something the IG never does.” 

The president also has ordered the public release of text messages exchanged among several former high-level Justice Department and FBI officials. 

In the end, if the inspector general — already looking into how the special counsel’s investigation has been handled — does not reach a conclusion Trump desires, the president in his Friday tweets indicated he will override the review process and again move to declassify the materials. 

“This isn’t declassification in the interest of transparency or national security,” Moss told VOA. “This is declassification by personal whim.” 

The top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Adam Schiff, says Trump has acknowledged strenuous objections by the Justice Department and U.S. allies, and that the president already had known “the release of these documents would cross a ‘red line,’ potentially compromising sources and methods and hindering the investigation.”

Schiff added that Trump, the White House Counsel and his personal lawyers are still seeking access to the material “for the corrupt purpose of discrediting the Special Counsel — we cannot allow that.”

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Rosenstein Denies He Proposed Secretly Taping Trump

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein denied a New York Times report Friday that he floated the idea of using the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump as unfit for office and suggested secretly recording the president to expose the chaos in the administration.

 

The Times cited several people, who were not named, who described the episodes that came in the spring of 2017 after FBI Director James Comey was fired. The newspaper’s sources also included people who were briefed on memos written by FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

“The New York Times’ story is inaccurate and factually incorrect,” Rosenstein said in a statement. “I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the department and are advancing their own personal agenda. But let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”

The 25th Amendment to the Constitution spells out that a president can be declared “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” upon a majority vote of the vice president and the Cabinet.

A person who was in the room at the time, and provided a statement through the Justice Department, said Rosenstein’s comment was “sarcastic” and that he “never discussed any intention of recording a conversation with the president.”

The newspaper reported that Rosenstein, frustrated with the hiring process for a new FBI director after Comey’s firing, offered to wear a “wire” and secretly record the president when he visited the White House. He also suggested that McCabe could also perhaps record Trump, the newspaper said.

McCabe’s lawyer, Michael Bromwich, said in a statement that his client had drafted memos to “memorialize significant discussions he had with high level officials and preserved them so he would have an accurate, contemporaneous record of those discussions.”

 

McCabe’s memos, which were later turned over to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, had remained at the FBI until McCabe was ousted in January and McCabe doesn’t know how any reporters could’ve obtained those memos, Bromwich said.

Rosenstein has been a target of Trump’s ire since appointing Robert Mueller as a Justice Department special counsel to investigate potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

He chose Mueller for the job one week after he laid the groundwork for the firing of Comey by writing a memo that criticized Comey’s handling of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server. The White House initially held up that memo as justification for Comey’s firing, though Trump himself has said he was thinking about “this Russia thing” when he made the move.

 

As deputy attorney general, Rosenstein oversees Mueller’s work and has made two public announcements of indictments brought by the special counsel — one against Russians accused of hacking into Democratic email accounts, the other against Russians accused of running a social media troll farm to sway public opinion.

 

On Friday, Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump, Jr., tweeted the Times’ story and said: “Shocked!!! Absolutely Shocked!!! Ohhh, who are we kidding at this point? No one is shocked that these guys would do anything in their power to undermine @realdonaldtrump.”

 

The story elicited an immediate response from members of Congress.

 

Rep. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican who chairs the conservative Freedom Caucus, said in a tweet that “if this story is true, it underscores a gravely troubling culture at FBI/DOJ and the need for FULL transparency.”

 

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the Times story “must not be used as a pretext for the corrupt purpose of firing Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein in order install an official who will allow the president to interfere with the special counsel’s investigation.”

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Trump Questions Integrity of Kavanaugh Accuser Over Sex Assault Allegations

U.S. President Donald Trump questioned the integrity of the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault years ago, posting Friday on Twitter  that “if the attack … was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed” with police.

Trump also accused “radical left wing politicians” of attacking Kavanaugh, who Christine Blasey Ford said sexually assaulted her at a house party 36 years ago.

Lawyers for Ford said she wanted to testify before a Senate panel next week, but only if her safety was ensured.

Attorney Debra Katz said her client had received death threats, and that Ford and her family had been forced out of their California home.

But according to U.S. media reports, Katz said in an email to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Ford still wished to testify “provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety.”

Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, had scheduled a hearing for next Monday for both Ford and Kavanaugh to appear in public to tell their stories.

But Katz wrote that “Monday’s date is not possible and the committee’s insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event.”

Katz said Ford’s “strong preference” was that “a full investigation” be completed before she testifies. She had earlier called for the FBI to probe the charges against Kavanaugh.

Late Thursday, the White House released a letter from Kavanaugh to Grassley in which he said he wanted to tell his side in a Monday hearing. 

“I will be there. I continue to want a hearing as soon as possible so that I can clear my name,” he wrote.

Media reports said Kavanaugh had also received what law enforcement officials said were credible death threats. 

Trump chose Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

His approval by the Judiciary Committee and the Republican-majority Senate appeared to be a near certainty until The Washington Post published its interview with Ford, who is now a California psychology professor. 

She alleged a “stumbling drunk” 17-year-old Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a Maryland house party in 1982 when both were in high school. 

She said Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her, putting his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. Ford said she feared Kavanaugh might inadvertently kill her before she managed to escape. 

Kavanaugh has adamantly denied the charges, saying he has never done any such thing to Ford or any other woman. 

Women who say they have known and worked with Kavanaugh throughout his legal career say he has been respectful and fair in dealing with them. Dozens of women who support Kavanaugh held a Washington news conference Friday.

Sara Fagen, who described herself as a friend and former colleague of Kavanaugh, said she and the other women at the news conference believe the allegation is untrue.

“The reason that we know that this allegation is false is because we know Brett Kavanaugh,” Fagen said. “We know his heart and we have known him over every aspect of his life, and the charge leveled against him is inconsistent with every single thing we know about him. So we stand here proud to support Brett and confident that the things being talked about are completely wrong.”

Trump has regularly expressed support for Kavanaugh, saying earlier this week “it’s very hard for me to imagine” that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Ford. But the president said he wanted her to testify, saying, “I really want to see her, to see what she has to say,” and that if it takes the Senate a little longer to confirm Kavanaugh, so be it.

Republican lawmakers are trying to win Senate confirmation for Kavanaugh ahead of the court’s start of a new term on 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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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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