News from the note…
A round up of the day’s news that might be of interest to you.
This is an OPEN THREAD, folks. Chat about any of the stories listed, share links to stories that caught your eye today, and generally have a good time discussing whatever you want.
The future of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination is in question after a woman went public over the weekend with accusations that the 53-year-old federal judge physically and sexually assaulted her when the two were in high school.
Kavanaugh said in a statement Monday that the allegation was “completely false” and he would be willing to speak with lawmakers to refute it.
Republicans hold a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate, meaning they can afford to lose only one of their own if every Democrat ends up voting against Kavanaugh (if it becomes 50-50, Vice President Mike Pence could step in and cast the tie-breaking vote).CNN
The Supreme Court has denied a request from a conservative political group to temporarily block a lower court ruling which would force it to disclose its donors.
The request for a stay had initially been entered by Chief Justice John Roberts on Saturday after Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS disputed an earlier ruling that invalidated a Federal Election Commission regulation allowing donors to remain anonymous.The Hill
The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to pass a mammoth spending package including $675 billion for the Defense Department and a measure to keep the entire federal government open until Dec. 7, a step toward avoiding a Sept. 30 shutdown.Reuters
A senior FEMA official has been suspended without pay in connection with a Department of Homeland Security inspector general investigation into the improper use of government vehicles by FEMA administrator Brock Long, according to two current government officials.
The official, John Veatch, was informed of his suspension by FEMA chief of staff Eric Heighberger last Friday, just as the agency was leading coordination of the response to Hurricane Florence.Politico
A federal judge will not force Georgia to use paper ballots for the November election, citing the potential for last-minute confusion, but expressed concern that the state’s electronic machines could be vulnerable to hacking.
U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg said in a ruling late on Monday that while it is important for citizens to know their ballots are properly counted, voters also must rely on a smooth process, especially in a fast-approaching election race.
“Ultimately, any chaos or problems that arise in connection with a sudden rollout of a paper ballot system with accompanying scanning equipment may swamp the polls with work and voters – and result in voter frustration and disaffection from the voting process,” Totenberg said in a 46-page decision.Reuters
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s plea agreement with Paul Manafort on Friday took unusual and possibly unprecedented steps to undercut President Donald Trump’s ability to pardon his former campaign chairman.
The plea deal Mueller struck with Manafort contains several provisions that appear intended to discourage the former Trump aide from seeking a pardon and to rein in the impact of any pardon Trump might grant.
Legal experts with sweeping views of executive power and attorneys who advocate for broad use of clemency criticized what they call an effort by Mueller’s team to tie the president’s hands.
“What is most concerning to me is that Mr. Mueller, who is a part of the executive branch and is supposed to follow all of DOJ’s policies and procedures, is specifically seeking to impede the ability of the president to exercise his constitutional pardon authority,” said David Rivkin, a Justice Department official under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.Politico
There are 35 Senate seats on the ballot across the country this fall. But if you are trying to figure out whether Democrats have any plausible chance at winning back the majority, there’s one race that should tell you all you need to know: the Tennessee Senate race.
Tennessee is one of a quartet of Republican-held seats where polling suggests that Democrats have a real chance of winning — sharing that distinction with Arizona, Nevada and Texas. But those four seats are not created equal: Nevada and Arizona look like they are leaning slightly toward Democrats, while Texas, due to its partisan lean, is the toughest of the four for the minority party to win.CNN
Since her arrest in Washington, D.C., in July, Mariia Butina, the gun-slinging Russian student accused by the U.S. government of being a spy for her Motherland, has been languishing in a jail cell. Earlier this month, in documents arguing Butina should be held in detention because she is a flight risk, prosecutors revealed that Butina has gotten quite a bit of attention from top Russian officials.
According to the prosecution’s filing, the Russian government has conducted six consular visits to Butina and passed four diplomatic notes to the U.S. Department of State about her case. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has spoken twice to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to complain about Butina’s incarceration and prosecution. As prosecutors noted, in the days following Butina’s arrest, the official Kremlin Twitter account changed its avatar to a picture of her and launched #FreeMariaButina. RT—a Russian news outlet funded by the Russian government—has written a number of articles about her, decrying her prosecution and detention. According to prosecutors, “Russia has issued more diplomatic notes on the defendant’s behalf in the past month than for any other Russian citizen imprisoned in the United States in the past year. Put simply, the Russian government has given this case much more attention than other cases.”Politico