The Cohen Report – Brett Kavanaugh

First real episode of my new radio show. Sorry for all the interruptions from the school announcements! Recorded on 10/11/2018

Script Below:

Who Is Brett Kavanaugh?
Information thanks to Business Insider

  • Brett Kavanaugh was born Feb. 12, 1965, in Washington, DC.
    He attended Georgetown Preparatory School, an all-boys school in Rockville, Maryland. He was staff for the school newspaper, played on the school’s varsity football team, and was captain of the basketball team.

    • Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, also attended Georgetown Prep and graduated two years before Kavanaugh.
  • After Yale University, Kavanaugh attended Yale Law School, which also produced current Supreme Court justices Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, and Samuel Alito.
  • In 1993, Kavanaugh served as a law clerk to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, whom he replaced when the Senate confirmed him.
  • Before he was a partner at DC law firm Kirkland & Ellis, Kavanaugh was associate counsel on the team led by Kenneth Starr, the special prosecutor who investigated former President Bill Clinton’s extramarital affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
  • As part of Starr’s team, Kavanaugh helped draft the report recommending Clinton’s impeachment, in which he wrote independent counsel investigations can take “too long,” easily become “politicized,” and can go beyond their original scope.
  • He has expressed doubt that a president can even be indicted while in office.
  • From 2001 to 2006, Kavanaugh worked under former President George W. Bush as assistant, staff secretary, and senior associate counsel to the president.
  • Bush nominated him to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, where he has served since 2006. The Senate confirmed him with a vote of 57 to 36. The chief justice John Roberts, and justices Clarence Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg also served on the same court before joining the high court.
  • At a 2004 confirmation hearing, Senator Dick Durbin called Kavanaugh “the Zelig or Forrest Gump of Republican politics” because he’s been present at so many dramatic events throughout his career.
  • Kavanaugh helped Bush’s team in the high-stakes Supreme Court decision to block the recount of votes in the 2000 presidential election between Bush and Al Gore.
  • Kavanaugh also represented then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in his push for a school voucher program that attempted to get public money to private religious schools, which the Supreme Court eventually ruled was unconstitutional while Kavanaugh was on George W. Bush’s staff.
  • Kavanaugh was on the White House staff during and in the several years of aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and has since issued rulings supporting wide-ranging governmental authority to surveillance.
  • Kavanaugh made headlines last year when he backed the Trump administration’s arguments in his dissent to a ruling that allowed an undocumented minor to receive an abortion.
  • During his 2006 confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh said he “would follow Roe v. Wade faithfully and fully. That would be binding precedent of the court.”
  • During his time on the DC Circuit Court, Kavanaugh taught at Georgetown Law Center, Yale Law School, and Harvard Law School, where he was hired by Justice Elena Kagan, who was then dean of Harvard Law.
  • Kavanaugh tutors and coaches children, volunteers for Catholic charity groups, and attends church in the Washington, DC area, where he lives with his family.

Allegations Against Him
Information from CBS News

Christine Blasey Ford

  • Ford came public with her allegations against Kavanaugh on Sept. 16, after Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, requested to delay Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote because of allegations against him from a then-anonymous woman. Feinstein had been aware of the allegations since July.
  • Ford said in an interview with the Washington Post that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her at a house party in 1982, when Kavanaugh was 17 and Ford was 15. She also alleged that Kavanaugh’s friend, Mark Judge, was also in the room during the alleged assault. Judge has denied that this occurred. At the time, Kavanaugh was a student at the all-boys school Georgetown Prep, while Ford attended the nearby all-girls school, Holton-Arms.
  • She told the Post that the alleged incident “derailed” her for four or five years, and has contributed to feelings of anxiety and post-traumatic stress symptoms in the years since. She detailed the account to a therapist in a marriage counseling session in 2012, although she did not specifically name Kavanaugh.


Deborah Ramirez

  • The New Yorker published new allegations against Kavanaugh dating to the 1983-1984 school year, when he was a freshman in college. Ramirez was initially hesitant to speak to the magazine because there were gaps in her memory due to her own drinking.
  • Ramirez claims that during a party, an inebriated Kavanaugh exposed himself to her and forced her to touch his penis without her consent, and another male student shouted about the incident.

Julie Swetnick

  • Swetnick claimed under penalty of perjury in a document provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee that in approximately 1982, she had been gang-raped at a house party while Kavanaugh and Judge were present.
  • Swetnick said that she saw Kavanaugh and Judge together at at least ten house parties, and that the two would drink excessively and engage in inappropriate behavior around girls. She said that Kavanaugh in particular engaged in “abusive and physically aggressive behavior towards girls.” She also claimed that the two would “spike” the punch with quaaludes at the parties.
  • Swetnick alleges that a “train” of boys would lure girls into bedrooms to be “gang raped,” and that she recalls seeing Kavanaugh and Judge in line in the “train” of boys waiting to assault girls.

Confirmation Process
Information thanks to Fox News

  • Trump officially tapped Kavanaugh as his Supreme Court pick on July 9 – less than two weeks after Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the bench.
    Once the president announces his nomination to the Court, the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing for the nominee to provide testimony and answer questions. This hearing can take multiple days.
  • After the hearing, the committee will vote, and it typically recommends the nominee to the full Senate for a vote. The committee can give a favorable or unfavorable recommendation – or none at all.
  • For the Supreme Court nominee to be confirmed, they need to receive a simple majority of 51 votes.
  • This wasn’t always the case; Senate Republicans deployed the so-called “nuclear option” in 2017 to ensure Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the nation’s highest court. This changed the rules, allowing a nominee to be confirmed with only 51 votes instead of 60.
  • If there is a tie on the Senate floor, the vice president would break it, and he would be more than likely vote for Trump’s nominee.
  • The final step in the confirmation process involves approval from the president. Once the Supreme Court nominee is confirmed by the Senate, the president must issue a written commission to his nominee. Afterward, the nominee needs to be sworn in – taking two oaths of office – before assuming his official position on the nation’s highest court.

How Will Kavanaugh Shape The Court?
Information thanks to The Independent

  • He has opposed Obamacare principles which required religious organisations to provide contraception to employees, saying this infringed their religious liberties.
    If there’s a chance to repeal the ACA again, Kavanaugh will side with conservatives most likely
  • He may resist cases seeking to restrict or limit the “right to bear arms” set out in the second amendment.
  • He has opposed the District of Columbia’s ban on semi-automatic rifles. In a 2011 opinion he said the constitutional protections afforded to semiautomatic handguns should be logically extended to the high powered assault weapons and DC’s ban was unconstitutional.
  • Kavanaugh is likely to occupy the deciding vote in future cases and has said he sees previous judgements uphold these rights as “important precedent”. This was enough to reassure Republican senator Susan Collins, a deciding vote in his confirmation, to back Kavanaugh.
  • Another reason suggested for the president’s backing of Mr Kavanaugh is his belief in executive power. He wrote in a 2009 article in the Minnesota Law Review that Congress should consider a law “exempting” the sitting president from criminal prosecution and investigation.
  • However in the same argument he said that the impeachment process would still be available “if the president does something dastardly”.
  • Kavanaugh wrote in response to Obama-era rules to limit emissions by power plants that he recognises “the Earth is warming and humans are contributing” and said actions to tackle this are “laudable”.
  • However he has opposed the plans, and others by the Environmental Protection Agency seeking to limit emissions or other forms of pollution, when the body has acted without specific authorisation from Congress.
  • Kavanaugh has said the mass collection of US citizens’ phone records, exposed by former National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, did not fall foul of constitutional rules prohibiting search and seizure without a warrant.
  • He added that preventing terrorist attacks through the collection of phone numbers and call duration addresses a “critical national security need” that “outweighs the impact on privacy occasioned by this programme”.
  • Side fact (information from FiveThirtyEight): this almost certainly makes Chief Justice John Roberts, a George W. Bush appointee, the median voter, shifting the court’s ideological center

Why Him?
Why Brett Kavanaugh? The list provided by the Federalist Society to President Trump had numerous candidates on it, and a Federalist Society member himself said that they don’t care who Trump picked on the list – they’re all the same to them.

Who is the Federalist Society? NPR describes them as, “…a hugely powerful, nationwide organization of conservative lawyers.” During an NPR interview, author Amanda Hollis-Brusky describes the beginnings of the group. She says, “The Federal Society grows up alongside the Reagan Revolution. You have a small group of law students at elite law schools who are conservative and libertarian-leaning. They see that conservative ideas and ideology are politically ascendant. And yet in their elite law schools, they don’t see those ideas represented in their curriculum. And so they decide that they need to found an organization, a club that would bring conservative and libertarian voices, scholars and perspectives into their law schools.”

Another group that endorsed Kavanaugh was the Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation is an American conservative public policy think tank based in Washington, D.C. Similarly to the Federalist Society, the Heritage Foundation rose during the Reagan administration.
From The Guardian:
If you were to navigate your browser to for some reason, you might expect to find a professional homepage set up by the newly appointed supreme court justice. Perhaps a list of his accomplishments, or a résumé with a handsome headshot? You would be wrong, however, because the url is now a resource for sexual assault survivors.

“We Believe Survivors” reads text overlaid on an image of the supreme court.

“The start of Brett Kavanaugh’s tenure on the supreme court may look like a victory for one interest group or another,” the page explains. “But, more importantly, it is putting a national focus on the issue of sexual assault – and how we as a country can and should do more to prevent it and to support those who have experienced it. This past month, thousands of survivors came forward to tell their stories. We applaud your bravery. We believe you.”

Below it lists a series of groups that can offer help, including the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, End Rape on Campus, and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.

The page was set up by a group called Fix the Court, a non-partisan supreme court accountability and transparency group, they announced on Tuesday.

The group’s executive director, Gabe Roth, explained he bought the url, and its .org and .net permutations, three years ago, figuring it might be useful in confirmation battles down the line.

“I believe Dr Ford. I believe Professor Hill. I also believe that asking for forgiveness is a sign of maturity and strength, not weakness,” he wrote.

On Tuesday at a White House swearing-in ceremony, the president lied that Kavanaugh had been “proven innocent” of sexual assault allegations brought against him by Dr Christine Blasey Ford and others.

The concept of squatting on a url for political trolling purposes isn’t uncommon. In the 2016 election a number of candidates, including Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, and most notably Carly Fiorina had urls associated with their names used by opponents.

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