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Senator Announces Kavanaugh Vote, Throws Swamp Into Major Chaos

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There is high drama on Capitol Hill today as Republicans and at least one Democrat get ready to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Rumor has it that the Republicans have now secured enough votes to cement Kavanaugh’s nomination. It will be a razor-thin margin, but just enough. Yesterday, one Republican senator, in particular, threw the swamp into major chaos. It was glorious.

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), an unlikely conservative warrior at best, gave a speech that just knocked my socks off. It was a constitutional originalist’s dream come true. I was incredibly impressed. This is a woman who has suffered vile, obscene and deadly threats in Maine if she dared to vote for Kavanaugh. She’s doing so anyway. Stephen King must be ticked. Good.

Collins thoroughly reviewed everything about Kavanaugh and all the evidence for and against him. The Senate held their breath as she took the floor. In the end, she threw her support behind SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh. And the protesters screeched over it. They interrupted her more than once and she appropriately ignored them.

Throughout one of the finest speeches ever given on that political floor, Collins made a number of points about what her vote meant and what it didn’t mean. This is a brave woman who researched Kavanaugh thoroughly and stood on her principles. Something you see very rarely in the Senate.

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In a very lengthy, 40+-minute-long speech, Collins spoke out about the tradition of due process and the importance of the presumption of innocence. Two things that are sacrosanct in American politics and law. The left wants to do away with them… President Trump and the right are intent on reinstating and strengthening them.

Here is a partial transcript of Collins’ historic speech:

“Despite all this, after weeks of reviewing Judge Kavanaugh’s record and listening to 32 hours of his testimony, the Senate’s advice and consent role was thrown into a tailspin following the allegations of sexual assault by Professor Christine Blasey Ford. The confirmation process now involves evaluating whether or not Judge Kavanaugh committed sexual assault, and lied about it to the Judiciary Committee.

“Some argue that because this is a lifetime appointment to our highest court, the public interest requires that doubts be resolved against the nominee. Others see the public interest as embodied in our long-established tradition of affording to those accused of misconduct a presumption of innocence. In cases in which the facts are unclear, they would argue that the question should be resolved in favor of the nominee.

“Mr. President, I understand both viewpoints. This debate is complicated further by the fact that the Senate confirmation process is not a trial. But certain fundamental legal principles—about due process, the presumption of innocence, and fairness—do bear on my thinking, and I cannot abandon them.

“In evaluating any given claim of misconduct, we will be ill-served in the long run if we abandon the presumption of innocence and fairness, tempting though it may be. We must always remember that it is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy.

“The presumption of innocence is relevant to the advice and consent function when an accusation departs from a nominee’s otherwise exemplary record. I worry that departing from this presumption could lead to a lack of public faith in the judiciary and would be hugely damaging to the confirmation process moving forward.

“Some of the allegations levied against Judge Kavanaugh illustrate why the presumption of innocence is so important. I am thinking in particular not of the allegations raised by Professor Ford, but of the allegation that, when he was a teenager, Judge Kavanaugh drugged multiple girls and used their weakened state to facilitate gang rape. This outlandish allegation was put forth without any credible supporting evidence and simply parroted public statements of others. That such an allegation can find its way into the Supreme Court confirmation process is a stark reminder about why the presumption of innocence is so ingrained in our American consciousness.

“Mr. President, I listened carefully to Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Judiciary Committee. I found her testimony to be sincere, painful, and compelling. I believe that she is a survivor of a sexual assault and that this trauma has upended her life. Nevertheless, the four witnesses she named could not corroborate any of the events of that evening gathering where she says the assault occurred; none of the individuals Professor Ford says were at the party has any recollection at all of that night.

“Judge Kavanaugh forcefully denied the allegations under penalty of perjury. Mark Judge denied under penalty of felony that he had witnessed an assault. PJ Smyth, another person allegedly at the party, denied that he was there under penalty of felony. Professor Ford’s life-long friend Leland Keyser indicated that, under penalty of felony, she does not remember that party. And Ms. Keyser went further. She indicated that not only does she not remember a night like that, but also that she does not even know Brett Kavanaugh.

“In addition to the lack of corroborating evidence, we also learned some facts that raised more questions. For instance, since these allegations have become public, Professor Ford testified that not a single person has contacted her to say, “I was at the party that night.”

“Furthermore, the professor testified that although she does not remember how she got home that evening, she knew that, because of the distance, she would have needed a ride – yet not a single person has come forward to say that they were the one that drove her home or were in the car with her that night. And Professor Ford also indicated that even though she left that small gathering of six or so people abruptly and without saying goodbye and distraught, none of them called her the next day – or ever – to ask why she left – is she okay – not even her closest friend, Ms. Keyser.

“Mr. President, the Constitution does not provide guidance as to how we are supposed to evaluate these competing claims. It leaves that decision up to each Senator. This is not a criminal trial, and I do not believe that claims such as these need to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Nevertheless, fairness would dictate that the claims at least should meet a threshold of “more likely than not” as our standard.

“The facts presented do not mean that Professor Ford was not sexually assaulted that night – or at some other time – but they do lead me to conclude that the allegations fail to meet the “more likely than not” standard. Therefore, I do not believe that these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from serving on the Court.

“Let me emphasize that my approach to this question should not be misconstrued as suggesting that unwanted sexual contact of any nature is not a serious problem in this country. To the contrary, if any good at all has come from this ugly confirmation process, it has been to create an awareness that we have underestimated the pervasiveness of this terrible problem.

“I have been alarmed and disturbed, however, by some who have suggested that unless Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination is rejected, the Senate is somehow condoning sexual assault. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“Every person—man or woman–who makes a charge of sexual assault deserves to be heard and treated with respect. The #MeToo movement is real. It matters. It is needed. And it is long overdue. We know that rape and sexual assault are less likely to be reported to the police than other forms of assault. On average, an estimated 211,000 rapes and sexual assaults go unreported every year. We must listen to survivors, and every day we must seek to stop the criminal behavior that has hurt so many. We owe this to ourselves, our children, and generations to come.

“Since the hearing, I have listened to many survivors of sexual assault. Many were total strangers who told me their heart-wrenching stories for the first time in their lives. Some were friends I have known for decades, yet with the exception of one woman who had confided in me years ago, I had no idea that they had been the victims of sexual attacks. I am grateful for their courage and their willingness to come forward, and I hope that in heightening public awareness, they have also lightened the burden that they have been quietly bearing for so many years. To them, I pledge to do all that I can to ensure that their daughters and granddaughters never share their experiences.

“Over the past few weeks, I have been emphatic that the Senate has an obligation to investigate and evaluate the serious allegations of sexual assault. I called for and supported the additional hearing to hear from both Professor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. I also pushed for and supported the FBI supplemental background investigation. This was the right thing to do.

“Christine Ford never sought the spotlight. She indicated that she was terrified to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and she has shunned attention since then. She seemed completely unaware of Chairman Grassley’s offer to allow her to testify confidentially in California. Watching her, Mr. President, I could not help but feel that some people who wanted to engineer the defeat of this nomination cared little, if at all, for her well-being.

“Professor Ford testified that a very limited number of people had access to her letter. Yet that letter found its way into the public domain. She testified that she never gave permission for that very private letter to be released. And yet, here we are. We are in the middle of a fight that she never sought, arguing about claims that she wanted to raise confidentially.

“One theory I have heard espoused repeatedly is that our colleague, Senator Feinstein, leaked Professor Ford’s letter at the eleventh hour to derail this process. I want to state this very clearly: I know Senator Diane Feinstein extremely well, and I believe that she would never do that. I knew that to be the case before she even stated it at the hearing. She is a person of integrity, and I stand by her.

“I have also heard some argue that the Chairman of the Committee somehow treated Professor Ford unfairly. Nothing could be further from the truth. Chairman Grassley, along with his excellent staff, treated Professor Ford with compassion and respect throughout the entire process. And that is the way the Senator from Iowa has conducted himself throughout a lifetime dedicated to public service.”

You can hear the full speech in the video below. It is well worth a listen. Collins made history yesterday and, God-willing, Judge Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed today to the Supreme Court.

 

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Mueller Begs McConnell For Protection Bill – He Responds With Something Better

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As the most reliable and balanced news aggregation service in the world, RWN offers the following information published by: Washington Times

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell flatly rejected the need to approve legislation protecting the special counsel’s probe into the 2016 election, saying Wednesday there’s no evidence the investigation needs protection.

Mr. McConnell laid out Republicans’ goals for the lame-duck session of Congress, saying preventing a government shutdown is tops on the list, along with passing new rules to stop sexual harassment on Capitol Hill and approving a farm bill.

He flatly ruled out the chance of a partial government shutdown over border wall money and other spending fights.

And he dismissed the need for Congress to act on legislation Democrats and some Republicans want to protect special counsel Robert Mueller.

“I don’t think any legislation’s necessary,” Mr. McConnell said.

He said he speaks regularly with President Trump and while the president has made his distaste for the investigation clear, he’s never given an “indication” that he would attempt to shut down the probe.

Mr. McConnell said for his part he believes the investigation should be allowed to finish.

Democrats said they’re intent on getting Mueller protections approved during this lame-duck session of Congress.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Wednesday that those provisions, if they don’t pass as a stand-alone bill, need to be part of the year-end spending bill.

And Mr. Schumer drew lines over other parts of the spending bill, saying it should not go above the current $1.6 billion senators have included for new border security such as a wall.

Mr. Trump has demanded it include at least $5 billion in funding for his border wall. The House has passed a bill with that number, putting it on a crash course with senators.

Mr. Schumer said Congress should compromise by agreeing on the Senate’s number, and he told Mr. Trump to butt out of any negotiations.

“Every time he interferes, it gets bolluxed up,” the New York Democrat said.

Mr. Schumer also took a victory lap on last week’s election results, which saw his caucus likely lose one or two seats. The senator said that was still a victory for Democrats because it could have been much worse for them.

And he said voters sent a signal of support for Democrats’ policy ideas, which he said they’ll pursue even while in the minority in the Senate.

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Elected Republican Majority Whip Just Announced – Will Shake Up The Senate

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As the most reliable and balanced news aggregation service in the world, RWN offers the following information published by: Daily Caller

South Dakota Sen. John Thune was elected to serve as the Republican Majority Whip Wednesday.

Thune was nominated by former whip, Texas Sen. John Cornyn. This comes as Cornyn met his three-term limit in the position. The majority whip is the second-ranking position in Senate leadership.

Republicans voted for other leadership positions Wednesday, making Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt the Policy Committee chairman, Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst was voted in as vice chairwoman of the GOP conference and Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso will serve as Senate Republican Conference chairman, according to The Hill.

Senator John Thune speaks as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator John Barrasso listens during a media briefing on Capitol Hill. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Thune has served as chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee since 2015. He will now have to step down as chairman, after taking his new job as majority whip.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised Cornyn Wednesday, giving him a Louisville slugger baseball bat with “To John Cornyn – The Best Whip Ever,” written on it.

Meanwhile, The Hill has more on Joni Ernst elected to serve as vice chairwoman of the Senate Republican Conference:

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) has been elected to serve as vice chairwoman of the Senate Republican Conference, becoming the first woman to be elected to a Senate GOP leadership position since 2010.

Ernst, a veteran of the Iraq War who served a total of 23 years in the military, is considered a rising star among her colleagues.

She defeated Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) in the only contested Senate Republican leadership race after months of quiet campaigning in the conference.

Senate Republicans saw Ernst as someone who might be a better communicator for the conference on television, while Fischer garnered praise as someone who worked diligently behind the scenes to build relationships with members of GOP leadership.

Ernst emerged as the winner after Senate Republicans met in the Old Senate Chamber on Wednesday morning to vote on the new leadership team for the 116th Congress.

McConnell was reelected as Senate majority leader, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) was elected as majority whip, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) was elected as Senate Republican Conference chairman and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) was elected as Senate Republican Policy Committee chairman.

Ernst burst onto the national scene in 2014 with an ad recounting her upbringing on a farm where she castrated hogs and pledging that she would “make ‘em squeal” in Washington by cutting pork.

Senate Republicans say McConnell has been eager to add a woman to his elected leadership team after he came under criticism in 2017 for not appointing a woman to a special health-care working group he created.

A woman has not served as a member of the elected Senate GOP leadership since 2010, when Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) stepped down as vice chairwoman of the GOP conference after losing her primary race to conservative challenger Joe Miller.

Former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) served as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee from 2007 to 2009, the highest-ranking position a woman has held in the Senate GOP leadership since Sen. Margaret Chase Smith (R-Maine) chaired the Senate Republican Conference in the early 1970s.

Fischer and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) already serve as informal counselors on McConnell’s leadership team.

Senate Republicans also came under scrutiny during Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings over the all-male GOP membership of the Judiciary Committee.

McConnell says one of his priorities is to recruit more women to the Judiciary panel.

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