👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
In the mean time, try our little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding and for being here. I'm going to miss you.
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1/ Trump questioned Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s credibility and contended that if the alleged attack “was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed,” adding: “Why didn’t someone call the FBI 36 years ago?” Trump also challenged Dr. Ford to produce law enforcement reports “so that we can learn date, time, and place!” of the attack. Trump added Brett Kavanaugh is “a fine man, with an impeccable reputation, who is under assault by radical left wing politicians.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal)
Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a fine man, with an impeccable reputation, who is under assault by radical left wing politicians who don’t want to know the answers, they just want to destroy and delay. Facts don’t matter. I go through this with them every single day in D.C.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 21, 2018
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. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 21, 2018
Susan Collins said she was “appalled” by Trump’s tweets criticizing Dr. Ford for not coming forward sooner with her allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. The Maine senator is a key swing vote in the larger Senate vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation. (Press Herald)
White House officials: “You have no idea” how hard it’s been to keep Trump from attacking Dr. Ford. A few hours before Trump’s tweets, a White House official said: “Hopefully he can keep it together until Monday. That’s only, like, another 48 hours right?” (Axios)
2/ The Senate Judiciary Committee agreed to meet some but not all of Dr. Ford’s conditions in order for her to testify next week about her allegation of sexual assault in the 1980s by Brett Kavanaugh. Republicans have not agreed with Ford’s lawyers that she should only be questioned by lawmakers – not an outside counsel – at Wednesday’s proposed hearing. (Politico / USA Today / CNN)
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s attorney says her appearance at a hearing on Monday is “not possible” but she could testify later in the week. Ford’s lawyer sent a request to top Senate Judiciary Committee staffers asking to set up a call with them to “discuss the conditions under which [Ford] would be prepared to testify next week.” Ford has been receiving death threats and has been forced to move out of her home. “She wishes to testify,” her attorney wrote to the committee, “provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety. A hearing on Monday is not possible and the committee’s insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event.” Kavanaugh also sent a letter to the committee, saying that he will attend the hearing on Monday “so that I can clear my name.” (Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times)
Sen. Diane Feinstein’s office has received threats of bodily and sexual harm against her and her staff as a result of her involvement submitting the allegations against Kavanaugh to the FBI. Some of the threats name specific employees. Feinstein is the second woman senator, after Sen. Susan Collins, whose office has reported receiving such threats. “My office has received some pretty ugly voicemails, threats, terrible things said to my staff,” Collins said on Wednesday. (McClatchy DC)
3/ Mitch McConnell predicts that “in the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the U.S. Supreme Court” despite Ford not yet testifying. The Senate Majority Leader said “We’re going to plow right through it and do our job.” (Washington Post / ABC News / CNN)
4/ Rod Rosenstein raised the idea of wearing a wire last year to secretly record Trump in the White House and expose the chaos in the administration, according to memos written by Andrew McCabe, then the acting FBI director. Rosenstein also discussed recruiting Jeff Sessions and John Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security, to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office. Rosenstein called the report “inaccurate and factually incorrect,” adding: “Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.” At least one person who was present for the discussions said Rosenstein was joking. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Associated Press)
5/ Trump reversed his demand to immediately declassify documents related to the Russia investigation, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court application to wiretap Carter Page. Less than a week later, Trump tweeted that the Justice Department inspector general would instead review the documents, adding that he “can always declassify if it proves necessary.” Trump said that while DOJ officials told him the “declassification” of documents “may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe,” he received calls from “key Allies,” who asked him not to release the documents. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN)
6/ Robert Mueller is investigating $3.3 million in bank transactions between two of the men who orchestrated the Trump Tower meeting. On June 3, 2016, the money was moved from Aras Agalarov, a billionaire real estate developer close to both Putin and Trump, to Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze, a longtime Agalarov employee who was once investigated for money laundering – the same day that Trump Jr. received an email from Rob Goldstone offering dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of the Russian government’s “support for Mr. Trump.” In that email, Goldstone told Trump Jr. he was writing on behalf of a mutual friend, Emin Agalarov – Aras’ son. The Trump Tower meeting occurred six days later. (BuzzFeed News)
Another Roger Stone associate met with Mueller’s federal grand jury. Jerome Corsi is one of at least 11 individuals associated with Stone who have been contacted by the special counsel. His name has surfaced in connection with WikiLeaks. (ABC News)
Russian diplomats tried to help Julian Assange escape the U.K. The plan called for the WikiLeaks founder to be smuggled out of Ecuador’s London embassy in a diplomatic vehicle and transported to another country – possibly Russia, where he wouldn’t be extradited to the U.S. (The Guardian)
John Dowd, who at the time was heading Trump’s legal team, help pay legal fees for Paul Manafort and Richard Gates. He initially tried to divert money from the White House legal defense fund, but Trump’s advisers objected over concerns it could appear aimed at stopping the two former aides from cooperating with investigators. (Wall Street Journal)
Federal immigration officers from July to September arrested 41 undocumented immigrants who came forward to care for undocumented children held in U.S. custody. An ICE official confirmed that the move to fully vet those who step up to care for undocumented children has served as another opportunity to track down and arrest more undocumented immigrants. (CNN)
The Trump administration imposed sanctions against the Chinese military for purchasing fighter jets and missile systems from Russia. The purchases breach U.S. sanctions designed to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The Chinese government has demanded that the sanctions be withdrawn. (Reuters)
Top Democrats promised to investigate Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s business dealings, travels, political activities and industry relations if the party wins back the House in the midterms. “Zinke is one the most ethically challenged members of the Cabinet and maybe one of the most ethically challenged secretaries of the Interior we’ve had in living memory,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly. Connolly said there is “rich material here to look into his behavior and his fitness for continued service in the office.” (Politico)
The U.S. and Mexico are prepared to move ahead on a new trade agreement without Canada, according to a Trump economic adviser. There is a little more than a week to go before a U.S.-imposed Oct. 1 deadline to publish the updated NAFTA deal, and the U.S. and Canada have still not agreed on terms. (Reuters / CNBC)
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