No sooner had Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona announced that he planned to vote for the confirmation of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court than he declared, on September 28, that his support of President Donald Trump’s nominee was conditional: Flake requested a limited, one-week investigation of the sexual abuse allegations that Palo Alto University psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford had made against Kavanaugh at her September 27 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
But truth be told, the FBI investigation being conducted this week is unlikely to change the outcome of the nomination. If anything, it is a public relations ploy designed to give the so-called “undecided” Republicans in the Senate—namely, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins—an excuse to vote for Kavanaugh. And more than likely, Kavanaugh’s confirmation will be rammed through the Senate despite all the sexual abuse allegations being made against him.
Here are five reasons why the FBI investigation of Kavanaugh being conducted this week is a joke and a sham.
1. The Investigation Is Brief and Superficial, Not Comprehensive
The FBI investigation of Kavanaugh taking place this week isn’t meant to be a criminal investigation like the Russia-related investigation that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been conducting. It is meant to be more of a background check, and the standards that apply in the Supreme Court nomination/confirmation process are much different from the standards that apply in a criminal trial. But even as a background check, the FBI’s Kavanaugh-related investigation has been a joke. A week isn’t nearly enough time for the FBI to seriously investigate Kavanaugh’s history and all the allegations being made against him.
2. The Investigation Gives ‘Undecided’ Senators an Excuse to Vote for Kavanaugh
For supposedly “undecided” Republicans like Flake, Collins and Murkowski—and possibly, Blue Dog Senate Democrats such as West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp as well—the FBI’s investigation is the best of both worlds. An investigation this brief and superficial is unlikely to produce any startling new revelations, but it will still give Flake, Collins and Murkowski a chance to claim that Kavanaugh was subjected to FBI scrutiny and passed with flying colors. Manchin and Heitkamp, both of whom voted for the confirmation of Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, in 2017 and are seeking reelection in the 2018 midterms, will likely make the same claim and join Flake, Collins and Murkowski in a “yes” vote for Kavanaugh. But in reality, the FBI scrutiny being applied to Kavanaugh this week is cursory at best.
3. The FBI Should Have an In-Depth Conversation with Julie Swetnick
Christine Blasey Ford is not the only woman who has made sexual abuse allegations against Kavanaugh. Deborah Ramirez, his second accuser, alleges that when she became intoxicated at a Yale University dorm party in the early 1980s and was lying on the floor, Kavanaugh placed his penis in front of her face—and the allegations of Kavanaugh’s third accuser, Julie Swetnick, are even more disturbing. Swetnick, a client of attorney Michael Avenatti, alleges that Kavanaugh helped organize parties where women were drugged and gangraped, including herself in 1982. Given the severity of Swetnick’s allegations, the FBI should have a long, in-depth conversation with her. But on Tuesday, October 2, Avenatti complained that Swetnick had yet to hear from the FBI.
4. This Is an Investigation on Trump and Don McGahn’s Terms
Trump, on Twitter, has insisted that the White House isn’t imposing any limitations on the FBI’s Kavanaugh-related probe. But in reality, the terms of the investigation are being dictated by Kavanaugh’s allies—namely, Trump and White House Counsel Don McGahn. Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler has warned that if a real investigation doesn’t occur, Democrats will need to conduct a Kavanaugh-related probe of their own if they regain control of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, November 6.
5. Potentially Valuable Tips Are Being Ignored
Tad Low is a 52-year-old New York City resident who attended Yale University during the same period of time as Kavanaugh and offered the FBI a potentially valuable tip—and when he spoke to the New York Daily News on October 1, Low asserted that the FBI had been giving him the runaround. Low alleges that during the 1987/1988 academic year, he witnessed something “shocking” at a party held by Kavanaugh’s fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon. In a real investigation of Kavanaugh, the FBI would be taking a very close look at Low’s allegation—not giving him the runaround.
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‘Beyond Horrific’: Tucker Carlson’s Fox News Producer Is an Out Gay Man Helping ‘Ramp Up’ Hate Says LGBTQ Journalist
Fox News propagandist Tucker Carlson, whose nightly show frequently has the largest reach of any on cable news, regularly attacks the LGBTQ community with fear-mongering and hate-filled segments about gay people, transgender people, “groomers” and the latest target: “drag queen story hours.”
His senior executive producer, who oversees Carlson’s media empire at Fox News, is a married, out, gay man named Justin Wells, according to veteran journalist and SiriusXM Progress host Michelangelo Signorile, who is calling it “beyond horrific to think a gay man has helped to shape and widely disseminate a message of hate against LGBTQ people.”
Last week, in the wake of the horrific anti-LGBTQ hate crime mass shooting Carlson hosted a guest, the head of the so-called “Gays Against Groomers,” who told Fox News viewers the attack on LGBTQ people at a gay bar in Colorado Springs was “predictable” and warned that these hate crime massacres will continue, “until we end this evil agenda” of gender-affirming care.
Tucker Carlson guest: Shootings like the Club Q shooting are going to keep happening “until we end this evil agenda” of gender-affirming care. pic.twitter.com/4ajSonqlug
— Kat Abu (@abughazalehkat) November 23, 2022
Carlson has repeatedly hosted Jaimee Mitchell, the Gays Against Groomers founder who fear mongers against LGBTQ people, with the apparent consent of Wells, who “helped promulgate the kind of hate that leads to violence,” says Signorile.
“It’s unlikely that any narrative would get broadcast by Tucker without significant buy-in from Justin,” Angelo Carusone, President and CEO of media watchdog Media Matters, told Signorile.
Indeed, referring to the Colorado Springs mass shooting massacre, Signorile noted it is “the same kind of nightclub at which Wells, in years past, danced the night away in Miami Beach and elsewhere, liberating himself from the world outside and surely never imagining he’d be shot dead.”
“Now he’s aided the extremists who deny that sense of safety and liberation to every future generation of queer people,” says Signorile, explaining that “Wells runs the entire Tucker Carlson operation, and is responsible for imprinting the Tucker Carlson brand, which is all about emboldening white heterosexual male grievance, furthering the racist conspiracy of ‘replacement theory’ and pushing an increasingly virulent anti-LGBTQ agenda.”
One of Carlson’s frequent LGBTQ targets is Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who he has called an “unqualified ‘kid’ who ‘breastfeeds,’ and has no business running the agency,” as Mediaite reported.
“And as Carlson further pushed white nationalism, attacked transgender people and embraced Hungary’s authoritarian leader Victor Orban,” Signorile reports, “Wells, in 2021, was named a Vice President at Fox News, in charge of all Carlson product that airs on Fox News TV as well as on Fox’s streaming network, Fox Nation.”
Signorile says, “it’s quite stunning that Wells would work for Carlson, who has a well-known history of visceral homophobia. That’s something that came to light again last year when it became known that Carlson had offered a tribute to Dan White, the assassin of San Francisco supervisor and gay civil rights leader Harvey Milk, in his college yearbook back in 1991, as well as to the late vociferously anti-gay Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who whipped up homophobia during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.”
“I wrote about those jarring revelations when they surfaced last year,” he continues, “as well as about what I dubbed Carlson’s ‘pathological obsession with homosexuality’ throughout his career. Carlson has expressed revulsion at homosexuality, and in one incident he reveled in a violent response. In a TV interview in 2007 he described having smashed a man’s head ‘against the stall’ in a public rest room, after the man ‘bothered’ him.”
“Wells, as a gay man, only emboldens Carlson further,” Signorile concludes. “He gives him permission to launch the ugly attacks and helps Carlson validate, for himself (and likely for executives at Fox News), the vitriol he espouses. That makes Justin Wells’ presence as the powerful gay man behind Tucker Carlson all the more newsworthy. And all the more dangerous.”
Signorile notes that his reporting is not an outing.
“This story is not, however, about a warped closet case, tormented by self-loathing, hiding his true self while bashing those like him. And thus, this story is not an outing, which involves exposing someone who covers up their sexual orientation while publicly presenting as heterosexual — though it certainly may be a startling revelation to a great many. It is, rather, about connecting the dots regarding a reality that seems to have been hiding in plain sight.”
You can read Signorile’s entire report on his Substack newsletter.
Questions Swirl Around Herschel Walker as New Report Shows His Georgia Residence Was Rented Out for Over a Decade
Where Herschel Walker lives has been a question since before he officially announced his candidacy as a Republican for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia. Numerous reports have looked into claims he lives in Texas and not the Peach State, which some Georgia voters might find problematic, but new reporting exposes what could lead to tax or voting fraud investigations.
Walker’s Georgia home, according to reporting from The Daily Beast‘s Roger Sollenberger, is owned by his wife, who for years has rented it out.
When Walker announced his candidacy, after a strong push from Donald Trump, it “was widely known at the time that the Republican hopeful had been living in Texas for decades, though he has claimed to maintain a residence in Atlanta for ’17 years.’ Less widely known, however, was that Walker’s wife collected tens of thousands of dollars in rental income for that residence, according to his 2021 financial disclosure forms.”
While it is unclear if the home was rented out when Walker officially launched his Senate run, the “house doubled as the Walker campaign’s first official address when he launched his bid in August 2021. Fulton County tax and property records show the home is solely owned by Walker’s wife, Julie Blanchard, who also collected rental income from 2020 and 2021 ranging from $15,000 to $50,000, according to the disclosure—defining the asset as ‘Georgia residence.'”
CNN last week reported that “Republican Herschel Walker is getting a tax break intended only for a primary residence this year on his home in the Dallas, Texas, area, despite running for Senate in Georgia.”
“In Texas, homeowner regulations say you can only take the exemption on your ‘principal residence,'” CNN’s K-File reported. “Walker is listed to get a homestead tax exemption in Texas in 2022, saving the Senate candidate approximately $1,500 and potentially running afoul of both Texas tax rules and some Georgia rules on establishing residency for the purpose of voting or running for office.”
Even after he launched his campaign for the U.S. Senate Walker still filed for the Texas tax exemption.
The complaint alleges “Herschel Walker appears to have committed a felony in August 2021 when he registered to vote in Georgia,” and “Herschel Walker appears to have committed a felony when he voted in the 2022 Georgia primary and general elections.” These are allegations and have not been investigated by authorities.
When he announced is candidacy, “Walker’s main GOP rival challenged him to ‘move here, pay taxes here, register and vote in some elections’ before running,” The Journal-Constitution notes. “Warnock’s allies have taken a similar line of attack, framing the Republican as an out-of-state charlatan.”
Trumps Latest Tactic? Attacking Special Counsel’s Sister-in-Law
Donald Trump is going all-in on attacks against the family of special counsel Jack Smith. Instead of mounting a defense for his actions, Trump deployed one of his top tactics: attacking anyone trying to hold him accountable.
One of Trump’s right-wing allies posted a claim that Smith’s sister-in-law, who is allegedly a psychologist and whose patients were “crying” and “sobbing” over Trump’s 2016 election.
“And I’m supposed to get a fair shake from this person, who’s under tremendous pressure from his family, but he is actually worse than they are?” Trump rambled on his personal social media site. “Can Republicans, and fair-minded people, generally, allow this to happen? Jack Smith is nothing less than a hit man for Obama, his Attorney General Eric Holder, and Andrew Weissmann. Weaponization. Our Country is in big trouble, a real mess!”
Smith was hired by Trump’s administration to serve as an acting United States Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee during Trump’s first year in office, his biography states. During this same time, the new Trump Justice Department was firing most of the U.S. Attorneys hired under President Barack Obama’s administration. One of those biggest names was Preet Bharara, who helped Trump with the transition while serving as the U.S. Attorney Southern District of New York. He was fired the same month that Trump hired Smith in 2017.
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