Trump: 'When does it stop?'
At least five of the Democratic 2020 candidates called Sunday for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and two more urged new investigation after a report in The New York Times added details to allegations of sexual misconduct from his prep school and college years.
In turn, Donald Trump was outraged by the reporting. "The lies being told about him are unbelievable," he tweeted. The president said Kavanaugh, elevated to the court almost a year ago, "should start suing people for liable" (corrected to "libel" in a subsequent tweet).
Trump also declared "the Justice Department should come to Kavanaugh's rescue." It was unclear what he thinks Justice could do.
The new uproar was ignited by an excerpt in the Times of a new book by two of its reporters on allegations that Kavanaugh denied during confirmation proceedings.
The authors said they found new witnesses who corroborate Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez's account that he exposed himself to her at a drinking party and who weren't interviewed by the FBI. They also describe a similar, previously unreported alleged incident featuring a pants-down Kavanaugh. Its chief source, a onetime Supreme Court clerk named Max Stier, said he told the FBI, but the bureau, whose investigation was put on a short leash, didn't follow up.
Senate Judiciary Committee member Kamala Harris tweeted that Kavanaugh "lied" and "must be impeached." Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro and Beto O'Rourke also urged removal proceedings. Bernie Sanders favored "any appropriate constitutional mechanism to hold him accountable," and Judiciary member Amy Klobuchar said the Justice Department won't turn over documents needed for an investigation.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the "uncorroborated and unsubstantiated allegations" against Kavanaugh were settled. "I look forward to many years of service to come from Justice Kavanaugh," said the head of the Senate's Republican majority. For more, see Newsday's story by Scott Eidler.
'Locked and loaded' for Iran
A day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for a drone attack that crippled a Saudi Arabian oil field, Trump tweeted that the U.S. has "reason to believe that we know" who did it and is "locked and loaded depending on verification."
The president also said he authorized the release of oil from the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve to keep the market well supplied. "PLENTY OF OIL!" a tweet said.
In another tweet, Trump complained "The Fake News is saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, 'No Conditions.' That is an incorrect statement (as usual!)."
In fact, Pompeo said Tuesday, “He (Trump) is prepared to meet with no preconditions.”
Janison: Easy money
Austerity looks to be off the table as the 2020 election battles proceed, writes Newsday's Dan Janison. Trump and Congress have dramatically widened the federal deficit — it topped $1 trillion for the first 11 months of this fiscal year.
For Trump, an escalating defense budget and massive corporate tax cuts are points of pride. Meanwhile, the Democratic contenders are arguing over whether to go big, bigger or biggest on health care plans. Sanders waved his arms at last Thursday's debate as if bidding at an auction.
The other Rocket Man
Trump hasn't given Elton John a nasty nickname, but he seems to regard him as a competitor of sorts, writes The New York Times.
Trump was giddy on Twitter after being told he topped the English pop superstar's attendance record at a Manchester, New Hampshire, arena. But in the following days, Trump was deflated when that stat didn't make headlines.
Last summer at a Montana rally, he also asserted he topped John's record for the venue and complained he wasn't getting credit for it. “I have broken more Elton John records … And I, by the way, I don’t have a musical instrument. I don’t have a guitar or an organ. No organ. Elton has an organ. And lots of other people helping."
He also told North Dakota's Sen. Kevin Cramer he wanted to beat John's numbers in Fargo.
John disappointed Trump by declining to perform at his 2017 inaugural after the president-elect had bragged he would be there. But John's "Tiny Dancer" remains on the Trump-approved playlist at rallies. In 2016, he blasted John's music aboard his private jet so loudly that people couldn't sleep.
Will Trump want Rose ceremony?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called Trump Sunday and appealed to him to support the House-passed bill for universal background checks in gun sales.
The two leaders said they promised to join Trump “for a historic signing ceremony at the Rose Garden” if the president would endorse the legislation and lean on McConnell to pass it. A White House spokesman, Judd Deere, said the conversation was "cordial" but the president made no commitment.
Separately, Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand were joined by gun violence survivors at a Manhattan news conference, reports Newsday's David M. Schwartz.
On the Sunday talk shows, O'Rourke's call to ban and confiscate assault weapons drew a dissent from Buttigieg, who said "yes" when asked if O'Rourke was playing into the hands of Republicans. For more, see Eidler's story for Newsday.
A big misunderstanding
While Castro's insinuation about Joe Biden's cognition was a hot topic after last week's Democratic debate, Trump always seems to have a way to turn the focus back on himself. On Sunday, he tweeted with surprise: "Can’t believe the @washingtonpost wrote a positive front page story."
Trump got the headline right: “ ‘More united’ vs. ‘A house divided’: GOP goes all in on Trump while Democrats clash over ideology and tactics.” But he seems to have skipped over the first paragraph, which noted the president "falsely claimed that televisions turn off when wind turbines stop spinning."
The president also was pleased with a Post column by Kathleen Parker which said in its headline that Trump "won the debate." Either someone crossed parts of what followed with a Sharpie, or he was apparently unbothered by her descriptions of him in the text as an "impudent scoundrel" who "made people feel excited, if for all the wrong reasons."
Another Trump tweet raging at his usual array of foes counted among them "the few remaining Republicans In Name Only (RINOS, who are on mouth to mouth resuscitation)." The best guess is that he was trying to say they were on life support.
What else is happening:
- Democratic 2020 candidate Andrew Yang said that while racist comments hurt, new "Saturday Night Live" cast member Shane Gillis shouldn't be fired for past remarks that included slurs on Asians. Cutting Gillis slack as a comedian, Yang said "our country has become excessively punitive and vindictive about remarks that people find offensive or racist."
- Sanders is calling for a housing plan that would cost $2.5 trillion over 10 years and also introduce national rent controls.
- A central pitch of Buttigieg's campaign is "generational change," but the 37-year-old South Bend, Indiana, mayor's campaign hasn't caught fire with fellow millennials, The Associated Press writes.
- Sanders ripped Biden's positive comments about drug companies. Biden said at a Saturday fundraiser: "By the way, great drug companies out there — except a couple of opioid outfits.” Sanders said the companies are "greedy, corrupt and engaged in price fixing."
- Biden, accused by critics of being out of touch on African American issues, spoke Sunday at a Birmingham, Alabama, church that was bombed by the KKK in 1963, killing four black girls. He said white people can "try … but we can never fully understand" the impact of racism.