Kyl to replace McCain

Staff & Wire Reports

Dutch police officers point their guns at a wounded 19-year-old man who was shot by police after stabbing two people in the central railway station in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Friday Aug. 31, 2018. Police investigators in Amsterdam included an extremist attack as a possible motive for the stabbings of two people at a busy railway station Friday as authorities in the Dutch capital reported that the suspect shot by police is an Afghan citizen. (AP Photo)

Dutch police officers point their guns at a wounded 19-year-old man who was shot by police after stabbing two people in the central railway station in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Friday Aug. 31, 2018. Police investigators in Amsterdam included an extremist attack as a possible motive for the stabbings of two people at a busy railway station Friday as authorities in the Dutch capital reported that the suspect shot by police is an Afghan citizen. (AP Photo)

Suspect in stabbing of Americans believes Dutch insult Islam


Associated Press

Tuesday, September 4

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — An Afghan asylum-seeker accused of stabbing two Americans in Amsterdam believes that Islam is insulted in the Netherlands, Dutch prosecutors said Monday, giving the first indication of why they think a “terrorist motive” was behind the attack.

The 19-year-old suspect is accused of stabbing the 38-year-old tourists Friday in an unprovoked attack after he arrived at Amsterdam’s Central Station on an international train.

The American men were not targeted because of their nationality, which the alleged attacker did not know, prosecutors said. The suspect’s grievance was with the European country where the assault took place, they said in a written statement.

“It is apparent from his statements that he believes that in the Netherlands, the Prophet Muhammad, the Quran, Islam and Allah are repeatedly insulted,” prosecutors said, noting that the young Afghan man specifically mentioned Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, who is well known for his fierce anti-Islam rhetoric.

“From the suspect’s statements so far, it is clear the man had a terrorist motive … and that he traveled to the Netherlands for that reason,” the prosecutors’ said.

Earlier Monday, German authorities said the man had applied for asylum in Germany and was not considered a security threat there.

Wilders last week called off a planned contest for cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad following death threats and concerns other people could be put at risk. Prosecutors said the suspect did not mention the contest in his statements.

Wilders reacted with a tweet, writing: “Muslim terrorists hate our way of life and our freedoms. They answer criticism of Islam with violence.”

The prosecutors added that there was so far no indication the suspect, identified as Jawed S. under Dutch privacy rules, was working with anyone else.

Police shot him after the stabbings, and he remains in a hospital. An investigating judge held a closed-door hearing there Monday and ordered him held for two more weeks on suspicion of assaulting the Americans “with a terrorist motive.”

They suffered serious, but not life-threatening injuries in the attack.

The judge extended the suspect’s custody because of fears he may flee, repeat the crime or violate the law, according to a statement by an Amsterdam court.

Former Arizona U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl to replace John McCain

Tuesday, September 4

PHOENIX (AP) — Sen. John McCain’s widow on Tuesday said former Sen John Kyl will fill her late husband’s seat.

Cindy McCain made the statement on Twitter minutes before Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey was due to make the formal announcement.

Kyl, a Republican, is currently shepherding Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. His appointment may make it possible for him to vote for the nomination.

He is expected to be a placeholder, not running in 2020, when voters will get to decide who fills the remainder of McCain’s seat through 2022. Then the seat will be up again for a full six-year term.

Kyl will be entering a narrowly divided senate where Republicans could gain or lose seats in November.

The GOP is hoping he’ll be a more reliable partisan vote than McCain, whose opposition to a partial repeal of President Obama’s health care law pitched the party into turmoil last year.

The choice will also have political consequences for Ducey. He’s up for re-election this November against Democratic challenger David Garcia. For Republican voters who are on the fence about Ducey, a choice they dislike could cause them to withdraw their support for the incumbent or stay home on Election Day.

Kyl is a well-respected Republican in Arizona who spent 26 years representing the state before becoming an attorney and lobbyist.

He was able to avoid many of the battles with activists that complicated McCain’s career and that of the state’s other senator, Jeff Flake. Flake is retiring because his feud with Trump made his re-election impossible.

Filling McCain’s seat marks a turning point in Arizona political history. That seat in particular has been held by two men who were heralded as giants of the Senate: McCain took the seat once held by Sen. Barry Goldwater after he had served in the House of Representatives.

McCain’s office said an estimated 15,000 people came to see the late senator as he laid in state in the Arizona state Capitol for a public viewing several days after his death. Nearly 3,500 people gathered at the North Phoenix Baptist Church the following day for a memorial service where former Vice President Joe Biden spoke.

Democratic Senators Must Not Approach This Sham Hearing as Business As Usual

From: Brian Fallon & Christopher Kang, Demand Justice

Date: September 3, 2018

Republicans have turned the entire process of filling a Supreme Court vacancy into a sham. Just by attending this week’s hearings on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, Democratic senators are lending legitimacy to a charade. If they insist on going, Democrats must at least reject the courtesies and customs that typically mark these hearings. Democrats cannot approach these hearings as business as usual when this process is so clearly not on-the-level and when so much is at stake with this nomination.

Republicans’ Rush To Hold These Hearings—Without Insisting on Obtaining Kavanaugh’s Full Records—Makes This Process Illegitimate.

Senate Republicans have reduced their solemn constitutional obligation to provide advice and consent on a Supreme Court nomination into a farce. Democrats ought to respond accordingly.

Before Donald Trump even nominated Kavanaugh, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned that Kavanaugh’s millions of pages of White House records would reopen controversies of the George W. Bush administration and delay consideration of the nomination. When Trump ignored McConnell and nominated Kavanaugh anyway, McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley simply changed the norms. Rather than request that the National Archives produce all of Kavanaugh’s records—as the Judiciary Committee did when Elena Kagan was nominated—Grassley refused to seek any documents from Kavanaugh’s three years as White House Staff Secretary, shielding 75% of the records. Then, instead of relying on the non-partisan National Archives to produce the records, Republicans turned to President Bush’s personal, political lawyer to cherry-pick which records to release to the Senate—and then to screen again which of those records can be released to the public.

According to the National Archives, there are approximately 3,850,000 pages of presidential records from Kavanaugh’s White House service. Thus far, the Archives has completed its review and production process for only 3,826 pages. That amounts to just one tenth of one percent of the total records. But Grassley has scheduled Kavanaugh’s hearing for this week anyway. Republicans have so shattered the normal practice that it’s no wonder that McConnell—who once warned of a lengthy and delayed confirmation process if Kavanaugh were the nominee—is on track to force a confirmation vote for Kavanaugh in fewer days than it took the Senate to confirm Kagan.

One week before Kagan’s hearing, then-Ranking Member Sessions threatened to boycott in a dispute over 1,600 pages of Kagan’s White House records. Although Sessions relented, it is striking that he would publicly threaten a boycott over 1,600 pages not being produced by the Archives, while Democrats today seem resigned to participating in a hearing even though 3,846,000 pages have not been produced by the Archives.

Democrats’ insistence on adhering to past norms is lending legitimacy to the Republican mockery of their constitutional duty. It is time to stop ignoring the reality that this process is being conducted in utter bad faith.

Democrats can start by publicly questioning Kavanaugh about issues raised in the 141,000 pages of documents that Grassley is unilaterally hiding from the public by designating them “Committee Confidential.” Senate Democrats have protested, “the vast majority of the documents that we would like to use at the hearing remain in this category.” Democrats should not allow Grassley to hide information from the American people; they should expose this farce and use the documents.

Donald Trump’s Litmus Tests—and Kavanaugh’s Extensive Record on Key Issues—Mean He Cannot Get Away with Refusing to Answer Questions.

Make no mistake: these hearings will be a ruse. Republicans will ask Kavanaugh inane questions, as they did of President Trump’s last nominee, Neil Gorsuch, about mutton busting and where he fishes for trout. Kavanaugh will try to evade Democratic senators’ questions by hiding behind platitudes or outright refusing to answer. Democrats cannot treat Kavanaugh’s reticence as acceptable.

The bar for Kavanaugh at this hearing is higher because he is the product of a nakedly political selection process that featured explicit litmus tests. Donald Trump stated that he would only appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade and signaled that he would only select justices who would rule against the Affordable Care Act. Then, Trump asked two extremely conservative organizations, the Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society, to screen potential candidates, and he pledged to select a nominee only from their list.

In addition to the fact that he cleared Trump’s litmus tests, Kavanaugh has a record of writings and decisions that pointedly suggest he would rule the wrong way on several key issues. He has given speeches praising the dissent in Roe, criticizing the 2012 decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, and suggesting a sitting president is above the law.

Quite simply, Kavanaugh does not deserve the benefit of the doubt from senators that he would approach future cases with an open mind. Instead, Kavanaugh starts off these hearings with three strikes already against him. Democrats must make clear that the onus is on Kavanaugh to recant his past statements and disown the positions Trump has ascribed to his nominee. If Kavanaugh refuses to do so, Democrats must refuse to support him.

When Kavanaugh tries to evade questions, Democrats should treat him as a hostile witness. When he ducks questions on abortion by describing Roe as “settled law,” Democrats must point out the obvious hollowness of that statement since the Supreme Court can unsettle its own precedent at any time, as it just did this past term in Janus v. AFSCME. Just yesterday, Senator Lindsey Graham—who has been mooting Kavanaugh for the hearings—acknowledged that Roe “can be overturned like every other decision.” When Kavanaugh asserts that he cannot answer questions about whether prior Supreme Court cases were correctly decided, Democrats must refresh his memory about the many times when Kavanaugh has eagerly discussed past Supreme Court cases, from Roe v. Wade and U.S. v Nixon to NFIB v. Sebelius and Morrison v. Olson.

Even when Kavanaugh does engage questions, past experience proves he can’t be trusted to be truthful in his answers. In 2006, when Kavanaugh testified before the Judiciary Committee under oath as a nominee for his current position, he gave misleading testimony. Senator Durbin said he felt “perilously close to being lied to,” and there is recent evidence that Kavanaugh may have misled senators on a second issue.

In light of all this, it is fair to ask what Democrats expect to glean from these hearings. Democrats have insisted that they should attend the hearing because they can effectively question Kavanaugh. This sets the bar for their questioning very high. To meet it, they should be sure to ask the attached questions—and demand that Kavanaugh clearly and directly answer them.


1. Given your praise of the dissent in Roe v Wade, will you commit—under oath today—that you will not overturn Roe?

If Kavanaugh refuses to answer, he should be asked why it was appropriate for him to publicly name other decisions—such as Morrison v. Olson—that he thinks should be overturned. If Kavanaugh calls Roe “settled law” or claims that it would be improper to discuss his views on matters that might come before the Court, he should be asked why he felt it was appropriate—just last year—to praise Rehnquist’s dissent in Roe.

2. Do you believe that Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt was correctly decided?

Kavanaugh should be forced to justify how, according to Senator Collins, he “expressed agreement with Chief Justice Roberts’ confirmation hearing statement that Roe is settled precedent and entitled to respect under principles of stare decisis.” In Whole Woman’s Health, Roberts would have allowed Texas to impose medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers, resulting in the closure of more than 75% of Texas’s abortion clinics and gutting the rights protected by Roe. Which is it: does Kavanaugh agree with Roberts or believe Whole Woman’s Health was correctly decided?

3. What do you understand “abortion on demand” to mean? Is there any circumstance in which a woman seeking to exercise her constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy is not seeking “abortion on demand?”

In the only major, abortion-related case Kavanaugh has ruled on, he would have blocked a 17-year-old unaccompanied immigrant woman from obtaining an abortion, even after she had met every onerous requirement that the State of Texas imposed. When his own court later reversed his ruling, Kavanaugh wrote a dissent in which he repeatedly adopted the language of the anti-abortion movement, arguing that the court’s majority created a right to “immediate abortion on demand.” This prompted a judge to respond, “Abortion on demand? Hardly.”

4. Do you agree that women surrender their right to privacy and bodily integrity when they decide to have sex?

The young woman that Kavanaugh attempted to block from obtaining an abortion, and other women like her, found herself at the mercy of Scott Lloyd, an HHS official and virulent anti-abortion extremist who personally intervenes to force detained women to continue their pregnancies against their will. Lloyd once wrote that women lose their constitutional right to privacy and “bodily integrity” when they decide to have sex, and that men should have a say in whether a woman can get an abortion. As head of the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement, Lloyd set a new policy that requires him to personally approve requests to obtain an abortion—which he has never done. Do you believe that allowing a single, ideologically extreme bureaucrat to have control over women’s ability to access abortion constitutes an undue burden?

5. Do you agree with the Trump administration’s arguments that the Affordable Care Act’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions are unconstitutional?

The Trump administration has taken the controversial step of no longer defending key provisions of the ACA, and it’s likely that these legal challenges will make their way to the Supreme Court. Democrats must force Kavanaugh to answer this question directly and not allow him to hide behind the norms of not discussing a pending case. Republicans abandoned all norms when Trump said his nominees would rule against the ACA, when his administration refused to defend the law, and when Kavanaugh himself criticized Roberts’ decision in NFIB.

6. Do you believe that President Trump, as a sitting president, must comply with a subpoena, or is he above the law?

Trump is now an unindicted co-conspirator in federal crimes related to his election. Kavanaugh has said that a sitting president cannot be indicted—and that the president should be able to select and fire the prosecutor who investigates him. Kavanaugh even suggested that the unanimous Supreme Court decision that forced President Nixon to turn over the Watergate tapes was “wrongly decided.” Given how extensively Kavanaugh has already weighed in on these subjects, and given that he owes his appointment to someone who is currently the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, Kavanaugh also must be pressed about recusing himself from matters that may arise out of the Mueller investigation.

7. Just last year, you called the late Chief Justice Rehnquist your “first judicial hero,” so answer these questions:

Rehnquist opposed the Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which relegated the racist “separate but equal doctrine” to the dustbin of history. He wrote in a memo that, “I realize that this is an unpopular and unhumanitarian position for which I have been excoriated by ‘liberal’ colleagues, but I think Plessy v. Ferguson was right and should be re-affirmed.” Do you believe that Brown v. Board of Education was correctly decided?

How could someone who ever believed Plessy was “right” be your judicial hero?

During his confirmation process, Rehnquist claimed that his statement was prepared “as a statement of Justice Jackson’s tentative views for his own use.” Over the years, evidence has mounted that Rehnquist’s statements to the Senate were not honest. Surely, in identifying Rehnquist as your judicial hero, you do not mean to condone misleading the Senate as Rehnquist appeared to do during his confirmation process?

Rehnquist had a very hostile record on LGBTQ equality. He joined the majority opinion in Bowers v. Hardwick, in which the Court ruled that the Constitution does not protect same-sex intimacy, and he dissented when the Court later overturned that narrow-minded decision in Lawrence v. Texas and effectively decriminalized the very existence of LGBTQ people. Do you agree with Justice Rehnquist’s positions in Bowers v. Hardwick and Lawrence v. Texas? Do you believe that the Constitution protects the right of gay people to have intimate relationships and to “retain their dignity as free persons?”

8. The White House has explained that your financial debt—which you reported in 2016 was as much as $200,000—was for baseball tickets and home improvements. Did you assist the White House in crafting its statement explaining your finances? Will you verify—under oath—that these were the only sources of your debt?

How did the White House determine that the debt was for baseball tickets and not attributable to the roughly $90,000 in initiation fees you paid when you joined the Chevy Chase Club in 2016?

Did you provide the White House with documentation of your debts? Because the White House has put all of this information into the public record, and given the attention that its baseball ticket explanation has received, are you willing to provide the Senate with your credit card statements or other documentation of your debts so that senators can verify the White House’s account of your finances?

One of the concerns when a judicial nominee has large financial debt without a credible explanation is that it might be the result of gambling, which could make the nominee susceptible to undue pressure in the future. Will you affirm—under oath—that no part of your debt was attributable to gambling?

You quickly paid down the $60,000 to $200,000 in debt before filing your 2017 financial disclosure. The White House asserted—without substantiation—that the debt was repaid when friends reimbursed you for their baseball tickets. Will you provide the Senate with documentation of these reimbursements or any other sources of income that eliminated your debt?

9. Last year, Judge Alex Kozinski stepped down amid allegations that he created “a hostile, demeaning and persistently sexualized environment” for his female law clerks during his 35 years on the federal bench. Former clerks alleged that Kozinski showed pornography to women and asked whether the images aroused them; clerks also accused Kozinski of forcible touching and kissing. Kozinski maintained a website featuring sexually explicit material; he also maintained an email group through which he distributed crude jokes to “a group of friends and associates, including his law clerks, colleagues on the federal bench, prominent attorneys and journalists.”

You clerked for Judge Kozinski and have been described as one of his “professional friends.” Were you a member of the email group to which Kozinski distributed crude jokes and content? If not, were you aware of the email group? Did anyone ever tell you about the group or forward emails from the group to you?

When you were nominated to a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Kozinski commended you to the Judiciary Committee during your confirmation hearing. He called you a “good friend” and indicated that you also developed close relationships with his other staff when you clerked for Kozinski. He said, “my staff, my secretaries, his co-clerks all enjoyed having [Brett].” During your time as a clerk, did you ever witness Kozinski engage in any inappropriate behavior? Did any of your fellow clerks or other court employees ever approach you with concerns about the way Kozinski behaved toward women? If so, what did you do?

You “served with [Kozinski] on a judicial selection committee to pick law clerks for Justice Anthony Kennedy.” Did you ever witness Kozinski engage in any inappropriate behavior? Did any former clerks or other court employees ever approach you with concerns about the way Kozinski behaved toward women? Did you ever hear of Kozinski’s alleged behavior from fellow judges or other colleagues in the legal community? If so, what did you do?

10. The National Archives has identified that you have approximately 3.85 million pages in White House records, but so far, it has produced fewer than 3,800 pages. Eventually, these records will be come out.

Do you believe that there are any documents that have been withheld that a senator would find relevant to considering your nomination?

Will you represent that there are no records that have been withheld that would provide additional information regarding your views on abortion? Same-sex marriage? Executive power? The legal justifications or the policies relating to the treatment of detainees?

Do you agree that making false or misleading statements under oath to the Senate is grounds for impeachment?

Will you commit today—under oath—that if documents that have been concealed from the Senate and the American people are released in the future and in any way contradict or raise questions regarding your answers in this hearing that you will return to this Committee, under oath, to answer our questions?

(Assuming yes,) do you agree that if you break the commitment you just made under oath that that in itself would be grounds for impeachment.

Dutch police officers point their guns at a wounded 19-year-old man who was shot by police after stabbing two people in the central railway station in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Friday Aug. 31, 2018. Police investigators in Amsterdam included an extremist attack as a possible motive for the stabbings of two people at a busy railway station Friday as authorities in the Dutch capital reported that the suspect shot by police is an Afghan citizen. (AP Photo) police officers point their guns at a wounded 19-year-old man who was shot by police after stabbing two people in the central railway station in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Friday Aug. 31, 2018. Police investigators in Amsterdam included an extremist attack as a possible motive for the stabbings of two people at a busy railway station Friday as authorities in the Dutch capital reported that the suspect shot by police is an Afghan citizen. (AP Photo)

Staff & Wire Reports