What Had Happened Was... (Sept. 9th-15th, 2019)

A lightning fast weekly recap so you don't feel like an idiot on Monday

Here’s a catch-up of the major events of the week of September 2, 2019. You can check in with a minimal time commitment, read about the big stuff and stay in the know before we’re on to the next. This week we saw Trump firing John Bolton, North Carolina House Republicans going off the rails, Jerry Nadler announcing an impeachment something or other, Trump rolling back more critical E.P.A. protections and Brett Kavanaugh getting caught in another lie…again. There’s a lot to unpack and it’s all pretty depressing, so let’s just barrel through it together and hold hands.

Trump Fires His National Security Advisor

On Tuesday, Trump fired National Security Advisor John Bolton after a 17 month tenure and a recent series of disagreements over policy issues, particularly those involving Afghanistan and the plan to invite the Taliban to Camp David in the days leading up to the anniversary of Sept. 11th.

Bolton insisted he had left on his own accord and made a statement via Twitter from the official White House digital account that directly contradicted Trump’s claims that he was fired.

As the debate over who broke up with whom continued in the press, it became apparent that even a Republican hawk like Bolton couldn’t restrain Trump from reckless decisions involving foreign enemies. According to inside sources, Trump mocked Bolton’s aggressive approach to military action and often mocked him in meetings while claiming Bolton would be responsible for getting the U.S. into another war. Bolton often felt he was the voice of reason in an administration that was fraught with impulsivity and a general lack of understanding about foreign relations altogether. It’s as if the two men had never actually met one another.

According to reports from those in attendance at critical meetings leading up to Camp David, Vice President Mike Pence may have agreed with John Bolton, who was adamantly against the the idea of Trump meeting with an enemy combatant at Camp David. But, when news reports started to surface about Pence’s possible opposition to the president, Pence went on the offensive to defend his support of Trump while Bolton remained silent. This was seen as a betrayal by Trump and triggered his resolve to fire Bolton.

Trump claims he will appoint a replacement for Bolton next week, but considering how many of his critical staffing positions remain vacant, it does not seem like a sure thing. Charles M. Kupperman, the deputy national security adviser, will serve in an acting capacity after taking over for Bolton. Trump continues to break records in a bad way with this latest move, as no other president has had four national security advisers in his first three years in office. A key takeaway from all of this back and forth over who did what is that one of the most militant figures in modern politics was seen as a tempering influence to a president who wishes his advisor was more aggressive.

N.C. GOP Steals Vote After BARELY Winning Election

On Wednesday, Republicans in the North Carolina House of Representatives overrode the governor’s veto of the state budget while all of their Democratic colleagues were at a 9/11 remembrance event. According to The Daily Beast, House Democratic leader Darren Jackson said he was told by Republicans there would be no recorded votes that morning, so he then relied on that and advised his caucus that they did not need to be at the session. When Rep. Jason Saine (R) made the motion to reconsider the controversial budget, the nearly half-empty chamber broke out into chaos. What’s worse, the remaining Democrats in the chamber were unable to vote because their microphones were intentionally turned off.

“The trickery that is being evidenced by this morning is tantamount to a criminal offense…The fact that they would sit and lie in wait to trap these good citizens, these good representatives, is disgraceful.” — Democratic NC Rep. Deb Butler

Democratic Governor Roy Cooper held a press conference later that day (see below) to chastise Republican’s for their deception saying, “Let me be clear, today Republicans waged an assault on our Democracy. They cheated the people of North Carolina.”

Given the recent results of the special election in North Carolina’s 9th District and how the Democratic challenger nearly defeated a Republican in a very red state, these further antics by the state Republicans are especially bold. This ongoing brazen behavior by state Republicans is especially insulting, considering that the special election was being held in the first place because the North Carolina State Board of Elections was forced to order a new election after credible allegations of ballot fraud from the Republican campaign emerged. Given the history of election fraud and gerrymandering in North Carolina, don’t expect this audacious behavior by Republicans in the state to stop anytime soon.

Nadler Announces Impeachment

On Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chair, Jerry Nadler (D-NY) publicly announced that impeachment investigations into all aspects of Donald Trump’s illegal and unethical actions would be ramping up. The House panel voted to adopt a resolution intended to intensify its impeachment probe against Trump by making their ongoing investigation more public and formal.

Although the media seemed intent on parsing the exact phrasing being used by Nadler and comparing that to the word choices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for some indication of the seriousness moving forward, Nadler was pretty clear. He told press there’s no confusion about what his committee is doing and that it’s an impeachment investigation, no matter how you want to phrase it.

“Some call this process an impeachment inquiry. Some call it an impeachment investigation. There is no legal difference between these terms, and I no longer care to argue about the nomenclature. But let me clear up any remaining doubt: The conduct under investigation poses a threat to our democracy. We have an obligation to respond to this threat. And we are doing so.” — Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY)

Nadler announced that formal hearings will begin next week and will include the testimony of former Trump Campaign Manager, Corey Lewandowski on September 17th. As the committee now advances the impeachment investigation in the form of hearings, it’s important to note that this is only a first step in many. The committee would have to introduce impeachment articles against Trump and win approval from the House to bring charges and Democrats do not have the necessary numbers to do this yet. The Republican-led Senate will also block any attempt to convict Trump and/or remove him from office, so these hearings ultimately amount to a partisan show.

Nevertheless, many have been calling for movement on the impeachment process and the timing is also important considering we are moving into an election year. Given the list of court cases against Trump and his unwillingness to allow anyone to testify, as well as those expected to testify before the committee, we still have a ways to go. Stay tuned.

Trump Rolls Back Critical EPA Protections

On Thursday, the Trump administration continued its mission of rolling back environmental protections in the name of profit by announcing the intention to open up the entire coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska for incredibly aggressive oil and gas exploration. On the same day, the Trump administration formally revoked an Obama-era regulation that protected U.S. wetlands and streams from pollution. Developers and farmers have long since claimed these protections hurt economic development and infringed on property rights and it seems Trump is making good on campaign promises at a critical time leading up to re-election.

The result of this attack on E.P.A. protections will do irreversible damage to people, animals, plants, the environment and on and on. It will also cost tremendous amounts of money in law suits that will inevitably come next, for people seeking the court’s intervention. It’s waste after waste and the cost is incalculable and the basis of all of this de-regulation is simple — money. There is much more to this story and you can read all about it here.

Kavanaugh Lied Under Oath According to Witnesses

On Saturday evening, The New York Times published an exclusive that detailed some previously unknown details about Deborah Ramirez’s account of attending Yale with Brett Kavanaugh and her accusations of sexual assault by him. The expose featured details about her background as a lower middle class scholarship student as compared to his privileged experiences at the same school. It also uncovered another alleged victim of Brett Kavanaugh via second hand testimony of a classmate who witnessed the assault himself.

According to Max Stier, a former classmate of Brett Kavanaugh’s who attended Yale with him, Kavanaugh re-enacted a similar assault to the one against Ramirez at another drunken dorm party on campus and he not only pulled his pants down like before, but he pushed his penis into the hand of a female student. What is most concerning about this account from Stier is that he notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account before Kavanaugh’s testimony, but the F.B.I. refused to investigate.

According to The New York Times, at least seven people, including Ms. Ramirez’s mother, heard about the Yale incident long before Mr. Kavanaugh was even seated as a federal judge. Two of those people who knew about the incident were classmates of Kavanaugh’s, who had learned of it just days after the party occurred. This type of witness account not only provides corroboration but it suggests that it was discussed at the time by several students at Yale.

Brett Kavanaugh, who is now a sitting Supreme Court Justice with a lifetime tenure, would not speak to The Times because the publisher and Kavanaugh “could not agree on terms for an interview.” Kavanaugh did make a point to reiterate his denial of Dr. Ford’s and Ms. Ramirez’s allegations, but he refused to answer questions about Mr. Stier’s account of the new abuse allegation.

The article goes on to make critical distinctions between the life Kavanaugh had that “fit the more traditional Yale mold” and the upbringing of Deborah Ramirez, who grew up in working-class Shelton, Conn., in a strict Catholic family and had never had a drink of alcohol before college. Kavanaugh went to a prominent prep school and his family was well off. Ramirez was working class and Puerto Rican. The power imbalance between Kavanaugh and his alleged victim is glaring and represents a common dynamic between an assailant and his victim across the board.

I highly recommend that you take the time to read every word of this article, as it reflects the disproportionate access to justice that victims, often women experience. Considering all of the questions we still have about Brett Kavanaugh, such as how he was able to pay off substantial credit card debt just before his confirmation hearings began, these lingering issues surrounding his fitness for the highest court in the land are ever present and still deserve answers. As this story continues to evolve and the truth continues to come out, I will leave you with this link about the process of impeaching a Supreme Court Justice as well as Article III, section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, which reads:

“The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.”

For more detail on the events of the week, see the following articles listed below:

Trump is Destroying Our Land and Water

Donald Trump Kept Lying and Made 9/11 Worse

Hijacking the Vote in Ohio

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Amee Vanderpool writes the “Shero” Newsletter and is an attorney, contributor to Playboy Magazine, analyst for BBC radio and Director of The Inanna Project. She can be reached at avanderpool@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.