Impeachment Week in Review: Rosenstein's Future

This was another slow week for actual, hard Trump impeachment news – but a big week for impeachment-related news.  Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's may resign or be fired later this week, in the wake of his reported comments and actions immediately following President Trump's decision last year to fire FBI Director James Comey.  That would put the fate of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation in doubt.  But the biggest impeachment-related story is an abrupt halt to Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s cake walk towards a Supreme Court seat – multiple accusations of sexual assault have been made against him, dating back to High School and his undergraduate days at Yale.  This story is impeachment-related because it will inevitably affect whether the Democrats or Republicans win control of the U.S. House this November – that in turn is likely to decisively determine whether there will or will not be a House impeachment investigation of President Trump.  If Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court, a NY Times op-ed (below) suggests he may also be impeached.  The two women Republican Senators, Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK), could play a crucial role – if both oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation, and all Democrats and Independents also oppose him, that would be a majority no vote of 51.  Although Senate Majority Mitch McConnell has promised a floor vote, that could change if defeat was likely or certain.  Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear: Trump in the White House was #1 in its first week on the PublishersWeekly.com list of top 25 hardcover non-fiction books.  Michael Moore’s newest documentary, Fahrenheit 11/9 launched with weak sales, and may only have a tenth of the box office punch of his earlier Fahrenheit 9/11, still the most successful documentary at the box office.

Meet To Impeach event planning: With fall semester approaching, MeetToImpeach is contacting Twin Cities law schools, inquiring about holding meetings at their campuses.  No current meetings are scheduled.  

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Deputy Attorney Rosenstein’s job in jeopardy amid controversy over reported comments

The main Trump impeachment story this week involves aftermath from accounts about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's reported comments and actions immediately following President Trump's decision last year to fire FBI Director James Comey.  Rosenstein may resign or be fired later this week -- that would put the fate of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation in doubt.  Rolling Stone magazine reports on new energy for a dormant drive among House Republicans to impeach Rosenstein, in the wake of a report from the NY Times: "Rosenstein last year proposed the idea of recruiting Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment — a complex process to remove Donald Trump from power. Rosenstein also reportedly discussed wearing a wire to record his interactions with President Trump.  ¶Rosenstein’s ideas were never implemented. The Times story suggests he had targeted John Kelly — then the Homeland Security secretary now the president’s chief of staff — to coordinate the 25th amendment solution. Rosenstein reportedly also talked of wearing a wire or recording the president using his cell phone during an erratic period when Trump was weighing whom he’d appoint as the country’s new FBI director."  A Justice Department source characterized Rosenstein's suggestion about wearing a wire as "sarcastic."  Rosenstein has said he does not believe the 25th Amendment should be invoked. 

Kavanaugh confirmation “cake walk” stopped by sexual assault accusations from 1980’s

The apparent cake-walk of Judge Brett Kavanaugh towards a seat on the Supreme Court abruptly ended as multiple accusations of sexual assault were made against him, dating back to High School and his undergraduate days at Yale.  A hearing is scheduled for Thursday, where his High School accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, will testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee, to be followed by Judge Kavanaugh.  The Washington Post casts the Kavanaugh confirmation process in the context of the so-called Culture Wars, "with conservatives casting their support for the nominee as a stand against the forces of political correctness and liberals striking back with a passionate mantra: 'Believe women.'”  Obviously, the idea of a political battle to shape the direction the Supreme Court is likely to take America on legal issues central to many social issues is the biggest question at issue.  The Post article is typical of others in reviewing the many pieces to the Culture Wars puzzle, and in emphasizing how this battle has escalated significantly beyond the boiling points reached in the confirmation processes for Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas.   However, a reasonable response to that analytical framework must raise a question as to whether the confirmation of one person should ever be a key element in the overall, ongoing conflict.  Given the evidence of Judge Kavanaugh's own writings in his High School yearbook -- together with context such as a 2015 video showing him say of his high school: "What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep" and much more that is certain to be unearthed about the culture Kavanaugh grew up in -- the end result may be that many evangelicals and conservatives will come to bitterly regret that their cause has become associated with such fallible clay-footed leaders as Donald Trump.

Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer, writing for the New Yorker, report on and chronicle relevant background of another accusation against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, from Deborah Ramirez, who was a classmate at Yale.  Their article recounts: "After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away. Ramirez is now calling for the F.B.I. to investigate Kavanaugh’s role in the incident. 'I would think an F.B.I. investigation would be warranted,' she said."  This excerpt has the most direct corroborating detail from the New Yorker article: "The New Yorker has not confirmed with other eyewitnesses that Kavanaugh was present at the party. The magazine contacted several dozen classmates of Ramirez and Kavanaugh regarding the incident. Many did not respond to interview requests; others declined to comment, or said they did not attend or remember the party. A classmate of Ramirez’s, who declined to be identified because of the partisan battle over Kavanaugh’s nomination, said that another student told him about the incident either on the night of the party or in the next day or two. The classmate said that he is 'one-hundred-per-cent sure' that he was told at the time that Kavanaugh was the student who exposed himself to Ramirez. He independently recalled many of the same details offered by Ramirez, including that a male student had encouraged Kavanaugh as he exposed himself. The classmate, like Ramirez, recalled that the party took place in a common room on the first floor in Entryway B of Lawrance Hall, during their freshman year. 'I’ve known this all along,' he said. 'It’s been on my mind all these years when his name came up. It was a big deal.' The story stayed with him, he said, because it was disturbing and seemed outside the bounds of typically acceptable behavior, even during heavy drinking at parties on campus. The classmate said that he had been shocked, but not necessarily surprised, because the social group to which Kavanaugh belonged often drank to excess. He recalled Kavanaugh as 'relatively shy' until he drank, at which point he said that Kavanaugh could become 'aggressive and even belligerent.'”  The article includes extensive background information about the drinking culture Kavanaugh was described as having participated in extensively while at Yale. 

Monday on FOX News Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his wife Ashley were interviewed together by Martha MacCallum about all three recent allegations of sexual assault and misbehavior, including a new but currently anonymous allegation reported by Attorney Michael Avenatti to be forthcoming.   Kavanaugh repeatedly denied that anything had happened, and called for fairness, saying: "A fair process, at a minimum, requires hearing from both sides before rushing to judgment."  Both Judge Kavanaugh and his wife said the process had been even harder on them and their family that they had expected.

If Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed, he could face a House Impeachment inquiry in 2019

Ronald J. Krotoszynski Jr., a University of Alabama law professor, suggests in a NY Times op-ed America may be heading for an impeachment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, if he is confirmed, and if the Democrats win the House this fall.  If the Senate confirms him before the election, Krotoszynski ventures to suggest Democrats should campaign on the promise that an Impeachment investigation of Justice Kavanaugh will begin in 2019.  Such an investigation could consider sexual harassment and assault allegations from the 1980's but also more recent allegations of perjury during his current and previous confirmation hearings.

Fahrenheit 9/11 flip flops?

Owen Gleiberman, chief film critic for Variety.com, is a fan of Michael Moore, but dutifully casts a critical eye on what appears to be Moore's faltering franchise.  Moore's most recent film, Fahrenheit 11/9, flips the date on his most successful documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, which has the all-time box office record for documentary film revenue of $119 million.  Even amid today's massive "anti-Trump hype", Fahrenheit 11/9 appears destined to fall far short of that -- Gleiberman writes it "will be lucky to gross one-tenth of what 'Fahrenheit 9/11' did."   Gleiberman concludes one big reason is that Moore's audience has aged out -- both he and they are older now, and the audience is simply far less inclined to go to movies.  Beyond that -- from the title forward... or backward... or whatever... they've seen it all before.  Moore's "trademark fusion of snark and liberal warning" hasn't changed in Gleiberman's assessment.  But Gleiberman hasn't given up on Moore, who he notes basically "predicted Trump’s victory — not just the what, but the why. It’s no accident that Moore called that one so accurately; time and again, he has kept his finger on the pulse where others haven’t. He understands working-class America, and in 2018 that means he understands Trump’s America. If you’ve continued to watch his films, you may feel (as I do) that Moore has not lost his provocative vitality as a documentary artist."  Gleiberman recounts seeing Moore's quickie "Michael Moore in Trumpland" just before the 2016 election: "a hastily shot film of a one-man show that Moore performed in Ohio, where he basically wound up begging an audience full of undecided voters to please please please cast their votes for Hillary Clinton."  Gleiberman wraps up by suggesting Moore, could build on that theme and that approach -- by going to talk to Trump supporters Moore: "could speak to people in our divided America with a uniquely inquiring spirit. I thought he could do it and bring the news. I still think he could. Or do something else just as out of the box. But he’s no longer going to bring the news to anyone if he isn’t willing to surprise us by surprising himself."

Book Beat -- Fear: Trump in the White House, by Bob Woodward opened at #1 for its first week on the PublishersWeekly.com list of top 25 hardcover non-fiction titles, with an incredible first week total sales of 339,104.  It could be the uptick of general interest in the White House expose genre prompted by Woodward's book that moved Omarosa's book Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House from #13 to #5 for its 5th week on the list, with total sales now at 77,536 -- especially since Amazon free shipment is often triggered when customers buy two books.  Former Independent Counsel Ken Starr's new book, Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation, opened at #15, with first week sales of 5,050.

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