Trump questions why Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser waited to report alleged assault

President Donald Trump on Friday questioned why the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a sexual assault waited years to report the incident, leveling his most direct criticism yet at Christine Blasey Ford.

“I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!”

The comments departed from the more restrained approach Trump has taken when discussing Blasey Ford. In his comments earlier this week, Trump has focused on defending Kavanaugh’s character while lamenting the public attention the case has received.

Blasey Ford has come forward with claims Kavanaugh and a friend took her into a room where he pinned her to a bed, groped her, tried to remove her clothes and put his hands over her mouth to muffle her screams at a house party in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., in the early 1980s, when he was 17 and she 15.

Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the allegations.

Experts say it is common for victims to delay reporting sexual abuse, in part because they feel ashamed or are fearful. Some studies suggest that only about one-third of rapes and sexual assaults are reported to law enforcement officials.

Blasey Ford reiterated Thursday that she would be willing to testify before senators about her allegations. Ford’s attorney spoke with staff for the Senate Judiciary Committee and laid out requests for her to testify next week, including that Kavanaugh not be in the same room.

After barreling ahead, Kavanaugh’s confirmation was abruptly halted this week when Ford came forward to identify herself as the author of an anonymous letter detailing the accusations. The committee has scheduled a meeting Monday to hear from both Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford, but negotiations over that hearing are ongoing.

Some Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have said the Senate should move quickly to confirm Kavanaugh before the November midterm elections. Others, notably Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, have been more cautious.

Republicans can confirm Kavanaugh without support from Democrats, but they can afford to lose only one of their own members.

Trump’s tweet went a step further in questioning Ford’s account than remarks he made in an interview with with Fox News late Thursday night.

“Why didn’t somebody call the FBI 36 years ago?” Trump said in the Fox interviews broadcast live before a rally in Las Vegas. “I mean, you could also say when did this all happen, what is going on? To take a man like this and besmirch …”

While Trump himself approached the issue cautiously in his initial comments, some of his surrogates have not.

Donald Trump Jr. drew criticism, including from Republicans, for making light of Blasey Ford’s accusations in an Instagram post over the weekend. The post included a fake letter, written in crayon, suggesting Kavanaugh was too young to have harmed Blasey Ford.

“This is sickening,” Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., wrote on Twitter Wednesday in response to the post. “No one should make light of this situation.”

[USA Today]

Trump Mocks the #MeToo Movement During Montana Rally

Donald Trump, whom more than a dozen women have accused of sexual misconduct, has made no secret of his distaste for the #MeToo movement, defending both longtime pal Roger Ailes and ex-Fox mega-host Bill O’Reilly against charges of sexual misconduct (Ailes he called a “very, very good person,” while of O’Reilly he said, “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”). But in February, the president made his position on #MeToo even more explicit: the day after defending former staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned amid allegations of domestic abuse from two of his ex-wives, Trump tweeted that “lives are being shattered and destroyed” by “mere” allegations. “He says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that,” Trump said the day prior. “He said very strongly . . . that he’s innocent.” The comments inspired a wave of disquiet among those inclined to support women in speaking out about harassment and abuse. And on Thursday, the president revived his rhetoric during a bizarre rally in Montana ostensibly intended to stoke support for the state’s Republican Senate candidate.

Riffing on his nickname for Senator Elizabeth Warren, whose Native American heritage he has repeatedly questioned, Trump—who made no mention of the hasty same-day resignation of E.P.A. chief Scott Pruitt—told the crowd, “I want to apologize. Pocahontas, I apologize to you . . . to you I apologize. To the fake Pocahontas, I won’t apologize.”

He went on to suggest that if Warren won the 2020 Democratic primary, he would dare her to take an ancestry test during a televised debate. “We’ll take that little kit and say, we have to do it gently because we are in the #MeToo generation, so we have to be very gentle. And we will very gently take that kit, and we will slowly toss it” to Warren, “hoping it doesn’t hit her and injure her arm.” Trump added that he’d give $1 million to charity if the test “shows [Warren is] an Indian . . . I have a feeling,” he said, “she will say no.”

Nor did Trump confine himself to insulting a potential Democratic opponent—during the same speech, he also claimed that Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters had an I.Q. in the “mid-60s,” lobbed derogatory criticisms at journalists, and vouched for Russian President Vladimir Putin. After the rally, Warren fired back with a tweet, writing, “Hey, @realDonaldTrump: While you obsess over my genes, your Admin is conducting DNA tests on little kids because you ripped them from their mamas & you are too incompetent to reunite them in time to meet a court order. Maybe you should focus on fixing the lives you’re destroying.”

The president’s particular strain of misogyny has been on display for much of this week—earlier on Thursday, Trump told reporters that he doesn’t believe allegations that G.O.P. Rep. Jim Jordan knew about the sexual abuse of student athletes while he was a coach at Ohio State University. (Jordan himself has denied them.) “I don’t believe them at all,” Trump said of Jordan’s accusers, adding that he believes in Jordan’s innocence “100 percent”. Thursday also happened to be the day the White House officially hired Bill Shine, the former Fox News co-president who allegedly covered for Ailes for years. In making such statements, Trump seems to be indicating that no line of attack is off-limits—a tactic that successfully set him apart from a crowded Republican field in 2016.

He’s also setting a deeply toxic precedent for the 2020 presidential race—particularly if he faces off against another woman. And though this strategy is likely to appeal to his base, potentially deepening the gulf between people who believe women when they say they’ve been forced to endure sexual harassment and people who don’t, it is not without risk for Republicans. Not only could it further galvanize Democrats, but it could also alienate women voters who, according to a poll published on Friday, have a disproportionately negative view of the president: just 32 percent of women approve of his job performance, compared to 51 percent of men.

[Vanity Fair]

White House announces hiring of former Fox News exec Bill Shine

Veteran Fox News executive Bill Shine is President Trump’s new right-hand-man for White House communications.
The appointment was announced on Thursday afternoon, shortly before Shine joined Trump on a trip to Montana. Shine’s title is Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications
His move from Fox to the White House further solidifies the backscratching relationship between TV network and Trump’s orbit. But it’s especially eyebrow-raising because Shine resigned last year amid a flurry of sexual harassment allegations within the network.

Shine was a key deputy of powerful Fox News chairman Roger Ailes. When Ailes was accused of sexual harassment by numerous women in 2016, Shine was accused of covering up the alleged misdeeds.

Some of the accounts portrayed Shine as Ailes’ protector and fixer. Shine was named in at least four lawsuits or allegations related to alleged sexual harassment or racial discrimination at the network. He has denied all wrongdoing. And he has never been accused of harassment himself.

The liberal group UltraViolet issued a statement calling Shine’s hiring “disturbing” but “unsurprising.” The group said the “Trump White House has been a revolving door of sexual abusers and their enablers.”

The National Women’s Law Center, another group staunchly critical of Trump, said “the President’s choice runs counter to widespread efforts to address and prevent sexual harassment at this moment of reckoning. This country deserves better.”

When Ailes was forced out of Fox News in July 2016, Shine was initially promoted to co-president. But this turned out to be just a transition period. He resigned in May 2017, in part due to his reputation being tainted from the Ailes scandals.

Shine also had powerful supporters. Shine and Sean Hannity rose up the ranks at Fox News together, and the two men remain close friends. Hannity is now Fox’s biggest star and the president’s biggest booster. CNN previously reported that Hannity pushed the idea of Shine joining the White House behind the scenes.

Shine’s imminent hiring was reported last week. And he was seen at the White House earlier this week. The reports prompted two of Shine’s critics in the right-wing media world to resurface the Ailes-era allegations against Shine.

Newsmax, run by Trump friend Chris Ruddy, published several critical stories. And conservative activist Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch, told The Daily Beast, “I don’t want so see the ghost of Roger Ailes running the White House communications operation.”

Klayman said Shine’s handling of harassment claims needed to be investigated.
Reaction to Shine’s hiring included some negative responses from those who used to work for him or Fox News.

“I say this as someone who was on Fox for a decade and had no beef (though little interaction) with Bill Shine: It’s a disgrace that a man who, it turns out, enabled and covered up truly repulsive behavior by Roger Ailes, would get a senior White House job,” said Bill Kristol, editor at large of The Weekly Standard in a tweet.

And two years to the day former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the network, quoted a story on Twitter and talked about the impact of “giving women a voice, letting them know you can be believed … and say enough is enough.”

One of the president’s sons, Donald Trump, Jr., predicted the criticism in a tweet on Thursday afternoon.

“On your marks, get set…. how long till the liberal media and snowflakes start taking shots at the great Bill Shine? Competent, hard working and a believer in making America great again!” Trump Jr. wrote.

Thursday’s White House statement about the appointment highlighted Shine’s past experience with Fox News.

“[Shine] brings over two decades of television programming, communications, and management experience to the role. Previously, Mr. Shine served as Co-President of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network,” it read.

[CNN]

Trump Calls Female Reporter ‘So Obnoxious,’ Tells Her to Be Quiet At Least 5 Times

On Friday, President Donald Trump told a female reporter to be quiet at least five times. He also called her “so obnoxious.”

It all happened during Trump’s whirlwind media blitz on Friday and with plenty of cameras nearby was all caught on tape.

Video of the incident shows Trump singling out CBS News correspondent Weijia Jiang and telling her to be quiet at least five times, according to Jiang’s account.

Then, when she pressed POTUS on not calling out North Korea’s human rights violations he put his hand out towards her face and turned his head away.

Then he told another reporter,” she’s so obnoxious.”

Trump then threw in another scolding “quiet” for good measure.

Jiang talked about what happened on Twitter, giving it a somewhat positive spin, writing, Trump “told me I was obnoxious and to be quiet at least 5x, but to his credit he did answer plenty of our questions.”

The White House, which has been increasingly adversarial towards the press, has not commented on the incident or otherwise remarked on Trump’s behavior towards Jiang.

[Mediaite]

Trump disrupts G-7 gender equality meeting by arriving late

President Donald Trump arrived late for a gender equality meeting at an international summit, prompting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to kick it off without waiting for “stragglers” to arrive.

Trump created a distraction when he walked in late for Saturday’s breakfast meeting during the Group of Seven summit of leading industrialized nations being held in Quebec.

He missed Trudeau’s introductory statement and entered the room while Gender Equality Advisory Council co-chair Isabelle Hudon was speaking.

Security personnel had to open a path for Trump through a throng of journalists and cameramen. The camera clicks for Trump almost drowned out Hudon.

French President Emmanuel Macron stared at Trump after he sat down.

Trudeau and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland later tweeted photos of the women’s empowerment meeting, showing Trump’s empty chair.

Trudeau had made the issue of gender equality a priority for the gathering. He said gender equality must “cut through” everything the G-7 does.

[PBS]

Top staffer at a pro-Trump super PAC doubles down on claim that black people are ‘statistically’ lazier than whites

Carl Higbie, a former Trump administration official who now works as a high-ranking staffer at a super PAC connected to the president’s agenda distanced himself from racist comments he made on the radio that led to his resignation in January. Now, however, he is doubling down on his claim that black people are “statistically” lazier than whites and claiming the comments were taken out of context.

CNN’s KFILE, the blog that originally revealed the America First Policies’ staffer’s numerous bigoted comments, reported Tuesday that Higbie has since recanted his apology for the remarks he made on his radio show in 2013 and 2014. During those shows, Higbie said he believes “wholeheartedly” that the “black race as a whole” are lazier than white people. He also claimed black women use welfare “as a form of employment,” and that he doesn’t like Muslims because their “ideology sucks.”

When resigning from his position leading the government program that sponsors Americorps, Higbie said that his comments from years prior “do not reflect who I am or what I stand for” and claimed to “regret saying them.”

During a radio appearance on Friday, however, the former Trump administration official said he stands by his comments.

“They dig up a couple things, a couple. Look, I had a radio show,” Higbie told Virginia talk radio DJ John Fredericks. “How many times have you said something on radio that could possibly be construed as very controversial when taken completely out of context? What, daily?”

Higbie went on to tout his time spent “in low-income, urban minority communities” as well as his “mission trips in high school to Dominican Republic, Central America [and] South America” before saying he made a “statistical observation” about black people as a race.

“It fit their narrative,” he said of KFILE’s reporting that led to his resignation. “And because I made a statistical observation, they think that’s racist.”

CNN noted that America First Policies, Higbie’s employer, has hosted a number of events that have been attended by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who is scheduled to attend another such event tonight where the staffer will reportedly be. The super PAC also used to employ Pence’s chief of staff before he took his job in the White House.

[Raw Story]

Judge rules against Trump administration in teen pregnancy prevention case

A federal judge in D.C. ruled Thursday that the Trump administration’s cuts to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program were unlawful.

Last summer, the administration notified 81 organizations that their five-year grants through the program would end in 2018, rather than in 2020, prompting multiple lawsuits.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson ruled in one of those cases Thursday, ordering the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to accept and process applications of four grantees as if they had not been terminated.

“We are disappointed with today’s ruling. As numerous studies have shown, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program is not working. Continuing the program in its current state does a disservice to the youth it serves and to the taxpayers who fund it. Communities deserve better, and we are considering our next steps,” said HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley in a statement. 

The Public Citizen, a consumer rights group in D.C., represented Policy and Research LLC, Project Vida Health Center, Sexual Health Initiatives for Teens and the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy — four of 81 grantees who had their funds cut short by the administration last year.

Several other lawsuits are still playing out in court.

“The court’s decision today is a rebuke of the Trump administration’s effort to kill a program that is working effectively to lower teen pregnancy rates,” said Sean Sherman, an attorney at the Public Citizen Litigation Group. “Because of the court’s ruling, the four grantees will be able to continue to serve their local communities and to conduct important research. The court’s decision confirms that HHS must administer the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program in accordance with the agency’s own regulations and the requirement of reasoned decision-making.”

The administration abruptly cut the grants off last year, arguing that the programs were ineffective at curbing teenage pregnancy.

The program, created in 2010 under former President Obama, funds organizations working to reduce and prevent teen pregnancy, with a focus on reaching populations with the greatest need.

But it has long been criticized by conservatives for its focus on comprehensive sex education, which can include teaching about safe sex and abstinence.

[The Hill]

With Vice President Pence breaking tie, Senate passes anti-Planned Parenthood bill

Vice President Pence cast a tie-breaking Senate vote Thursday to pass legislation that will allow states to withhold federal funds from Planned Parenthood and other health care providers that perform abortions.

The measure, which now goes to President Trump for his signature, dismisses an Obama-era rule banning states from denying federal funds to such organizations.

Pence’s vote was needed to break a 50-50 tie. Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska broke with their party, voting against the measure.

Republicans have said the Obama rule should be overturned to allow states the right to steer funds away from abortion providers, if they choose.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said the measure reverses a rule that “attempted to empower federal bureaucrats in Washington and silence our states.”

Democrats condemned the measure throughout the day, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York calling it “another example of the Republican war on women.”

“It would let states treat women as second-class citizens who don’t deserve the same access to health care as men,” he said.

The House in February had voted 230-188 largely along party lines to reject the rule under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn recently enacted regulations.

The rule prohibits states from withholding family-planning funding from providers for reasons other than their ability to offer family-planning services. It took effect Jan. 18, two days before President Obama left office.

Since 2011, 13 states have restricted access to such grants, disrupting or reducing services in several instances.

[USA Today]

In Closed-Door UN Meetings, Trump Administration Officials Pushed Abstinence For International Women’s Health Programs

In closed-door meetings at the United Nations in March, Trump administration officials pushed socially conservative views on women’s rights issues — including abstinence-based policies over information about contraception — that were further to the right than those expressed by most other countries present, including Russia and the representative for the Arab states, UN officials who attended the meetings told BuzzFeed News.

The Trump officials’ approach at the UN meeting makes it clear that the administration intends to extend its views on abortion, contraception, and sexual education beyond US borders to an extent that is unusual even for Republican administrations.

The comments came during the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women, a two-week session described by a spokesperson for the US Mission to the United Nations as the UN’s “most important meeting on women’s empowerment.” The main event is a closed-door negotiation on language to include in an annual UN document that sets global standards and outlines potential policies pertaining to gender equality efforts in all member countries.

Early in this series of meetings, Bethany Kozma — a senior adviser for gender equality and women’s empowerment at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and anti-transgender activistemphasized that the US was a “pro-life nation,” sparking a strong reaction from delegates in the room, two officials in the room confirmed to BuzzFeed News.

“When she said that there was sort of a record scratch and silence,” one UN official who participated in the negotiations but asked not to be named so as to maintain a working relationship with the other member states present told BuzzFeed News. “Everyone was like, ‘are you kidding me?’”

Shannon Kowalski, the director of the International Women’s Health Coalition, said that the Trump administration’s stances on women’s health presented in the meeting were “further to the right” than they were at last year’s commission, or even under George W. Bush’s administration. While the Bush administration implemented anti-abortion policies abroad, the scope was limited to family planning programs. Trump’s policies already expand beyond those limits.

“They’re far more extreme than the US was under the Bush administration,” Kowalski told BuzzFeed News shortly after the session wrapped up. “We saw placement of ideologues within key roles who took similar positions back then, but they limited what they applied their views to.”

Throughout the two-week session, Trump administration officials discussed shifting international policy on women toward abstinence-oriented education and teaching women sexual “refusal skills.” Those views — as well as the US’s push for more conservative policies on immigration, trade and environmental regulation — ended up uniting most of the 45 CSW member states against the US on family planning issues, six sources who attended or were familiar with meetings told BuzzFeed News.

While negotiations at the UN are often political, two officials familiar with the negotiations said that they had never seen nearly all of the other membership states — many of whom have wildly different stances and priorities on family planning issues — come together against the US. The members include several countries where abortion is illegal and punishable by fines or jail time.

The Trump administration has not been shy about its stance on abortion. On his third day in office, President Donald Trump instated an expanded version of the Mexico City Policy, a rule that prevents the US from funding organizations that provide or discuss abortions with the populations they serve. While most Republican presidents have used that policy, Trump’s version applies to all US health funding abroad — not just family planning funds that prior Republican administrations regulated. This includes organizations devoted to curbing HIV/AIDS, which the Bush administration left alone, Kowalski said.

[Buzzfeed]

Trump: ‘I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind’

President Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday that he is “totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind.”

The president made the statement as the White House continues to deal with a scandal involving former top aide Rob Porter, whose ex-wives have accused him of domestic violence.

“I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that,” Trump said Wednesday after reporters pressed him on whether he believed the women’s accusations.

It marked the first time Trump directly addressed the notion of domestic violence during the Porter imbroglio, which has thrust the White House into chaos over the past week. On Friday, Trump defended Porter, stressing that the former staff secretary has claimed he is innocent of the claims.

“We wish him well,” Trump said of Porter last week. “I think you also have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday he’s innocent.”

Porter wasn’t the only former White House aide to quit over domestic abuse allegations last week. Speechwriter David Sorensen resigned Friday after The Washington Post reported that Sorensen’s ex-wife accused him of emotional and physical abuse. Sorensen, in turn, denied the allegations and said his former wife actually victimized him.

[CNBC]

Reality

After ten days of dodging direct questions on where he stood on domestic violence and throwing his support behind Rob Porter, who beat his wives, Trump “heroically” says the right thing.

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