Don’t Confirm Brett Kavanaugh, Says Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said Thursday that he does not support the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh “had the qualifications” to be a Supreme Court justice but his behavior at a hearing last week ― where he defended himself against allegations of sexual assault by blaming Democrats seeking “revenge on behalf of the Clintons” ― was inappropriate and disqualifying, Stevens said.

“His performance in the hearings changed my mind,” Stevens said, the Palm Beach Post first reported. “The senators should pay attention to this.”

Former justices do not normally comment on pending Supreme Court nominations, and Stevens is the only living former justice to comment on whether Kavanaugh should be confirmed. Sandra Day O’Connor, David Souter and Anthony Kennedy, whom Kavanaugh was nominated to replace, have not said anything about the nomination process. 

Few figures could be more dissimilar from each other than Stevens and Kavanaugh. Stevens was nominated by Republican President Gerald Ford in 1975. He went on to become the most liberal member of a minority bloc on the Supreme Court. He retired in 2010 and was replaced by Justice Elena Kagan.

Kavanaugh has been a partisan political operative, working with Republicans to investigate President Bill Clinton and helping George W. Bush win the Bush v. Gore court case in 2000 before being nominated to a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. (Stevens dissented in Bush v. Gore.) He was chosen to fill Kennedy’s seat because conservatives are assured that he will be a reliable conservative vote, unlike Stevens (or Souter).

Stevens also noted on Thursday that the partisan political influence over the high court was “worse” than ever.

“I’ve never been a political person,” he added. 

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Kavanaugh Has Regrets About Testimony: ‘I Said a Few Things I Should Not Have Said’

WASHINGTON — Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, the embattled Supreme Court nominee, defended his impartiality and independence on Thursday in an unusually public attempt to assuage concerns about his judicial temperament after his emotional and often viscerally angry testimony last week rebutting allegations of sexual misconduct.

“You can count on me to be the same kind of judge and person I have been for my entire 28-year legal career,” Judge Kavanaugh wrote in an opinion piece published in The Wall Street Journal. He acknowledged that he had regrets about some of the things he said in his testimony last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but did not specify what they were.

“I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been,” he wrote. “I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said. I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad.”

The op-ed appeared to be directed at a handful of lawmakers who remained publicly undecided before a vote Friday morning that would end debate over his nomination and set the stage for a final decision on his confirmation.

Republicans had appeared increasingly confident on Thursday that Judge Kavanaugh would be confirmed, though a no vote from three of the four publicly undecided senators — Jeff Flake of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia — could derail the proceedings.

Before answering questions from lawmakers about the allegations last week, Judge Kavanaugh had denounced the accusations in a prepared statement as “a calculated and orchestrated political hit” intended in part to exact “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.” He also accused Democratic senators of “lying in wait” with the initial allegation, revealing it only when other attempts to block his confirmation failed.

That language, coupled with Judge Kavanaugh’s often combative and bitter demeanor during the hearing, drew scrutiny to the judge’s temperament in the days after the hearing. Earlier on Thursday, former Justice John Paul Stevens told a group of retirees in Florida that he felt Judge Kavanaugh’s performance should disqualify him from the nation’s highest court, and thousands of law professors delivered a letter to senators echoing that sentiment.

Judge Kavanaugh wrote in the opinion piece that his words during the hearing “reflected my overwhelming frustration at being wrongly accused, without corroboration, of horrible conduct completely contrary to my record and character.” He vowed to remain impartial and emphasized his belief “that an independent and impartial judiciary is essential to our constitutional republic.”

The piece was the second time the judge had taken the rare step of publicly speaking out during the nomination process in the weeks since Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist, came forward with allegations that he had assaulted her at a high school party more than three decades ago. He first delivered a stoic rebuttal during a prime-time Fox News interview before his second hearing, an appearance that starkly contrasted with the teary, red-faced defiance he voiced before lawmakers last week.

Mr. Trump, who has personally fended off accusations of sexual misconduct with aggressive denials, praised Judge Kavanaugh’s forceful testimony as a “powerful, honest, and riveting” performance that “showed America exactly why I nominated him.”

Peter Baker contributed reporting.

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Does Donald Trump deserve to win a Nobel Peace Prize?

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According to the Nobel Peace Prize committee, there there are 331 nominees for the 2018 prize. The list is heavily guarded but many have speculated who is on it.
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In these politically and culturally fractious times, it may be the ultimate geopolitical conversation starter (or stopper): Does Donald Trump deserve a Nobel Peace Prize?

Trump’s critics vehemently assert that the question isn’t even worth asking. Just look at his foreign policy adventures (they say): Trump has deepened trade wars; walked away from the Iran nuclear pact; pulled out of the Paris climate change accord; exacerbated tensions with NATO allies; rolled back improving ties with Cuba; separated immigrant children from their parents at the border; and poured salt on Palestinian wounds by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. More broadly, he’s played fast and loose with many fundamental assumptions about diplomacy, society and, well, civility.   

Why on Earth should such activity be rewarded with the world’s most prestigious accolade? Alfred Nobel, its instigator, wanted the prize to go to “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” Is that Trump?

The short answer (for Trump’s backers and enthusiasts), including Republican lawmakers who have nominated him, is that it can’t be ruled out. 

Exhibit A: During his 20-month tenure Trump has already achieved something that’s eluded every U.S. high office holder for the past quarter-century: He has convinced a reclusive and recalcitrant North Korea to agree — albeit on the vaguest of terms  — to talk about halting its nuclear weapons program. As he prepared to leave office in 2017, former President Barack Obama, who pursued a policy of “strategic patience” with Kim Jong Un over his nuclear arsenal, considered North Korea to be the U.S.’s top national security priority. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize after just eight-and-a-half months in the White House. He got nowhere with North Korea. Last week, Trump said he and Kim “fell in love” after exchanging “beautiful letters.” That looks like progress. 

With the Nobel Peace Prize to be announced Friday, USA TODAY asked foreign policy specialists and international relations experts to respond to the following question: “Does Donald Trump deserve a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts at denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.” Here’s what they said. 

Toby Dalton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

“Short answer for me is a qualified ‘No’ … Obama won the Nobel for words (which were not ultimately met by sufficient follow through) about the vision of a nuclear weapon-free world. Trump has been part of a process in North Korea that has yet to see ultimate results. There is reason for optimism, but also a high probability that denuclearization efforts won’t succeed … Now, if there is a denuclearization agreement and North Korea actually begins to verifiably implement it, then there is a case for Trump having helped make that possible … As of right now, though, it is really President Moon (Jae-in) of South Korea who has kept all the balls in the air to advance this peace process.”

James S. Robbins, USA Today columnist and Senior Fellow in National Security Affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council

“The breakthrough in relations was the critical element in shifting the ground toward peace, something that was unprecedented in U.S./North Korean relations. Even though a final denuclearization deal is not yet set, the breakthrough itself was what set the course … President Trump achieved this unprecedented diplomatic breakthrough, in large part because he was willing to first show strength, then express conciliation. This impressed Kim greatly, and Mr. Trump has since demonstrated great respect for his North Korean counterpart … Given the long duration and intensity of the conflict (since 1950), as well as more proximate crisis atmosphere that was defused, what President Trump achieved – and which few thought was even possible – more than merits the Nobel Peace Prize. It was a masterful example of the art of the deal.

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Alfred Nobel amassed a great fortune when he patented dynamite in 1867. Worried about a legacy of destruction, Nobel’s will established the Nobel Prizes upon his death. Nobel’s will caused a lot of controversy both in Sweden and internationally.
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Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). ICAN is winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize

“Trump shouldn’t win the Nobel Peace Prize, especially in a year he has announced a massive upgrade to the U.S’s nuclear arsenal. If he did want to win, signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons would be a good start. Instead the U.S. has sought to scuttle the Treaty at every step. As long as Trump bases his security policy on the constant threat of civilian slaughter, then we are never truly at peace and Trump is not truly a peacemaker.” (Note: The Trump administration announced in February that it intends to continue a nuclear modernization plan laid out by the Obama administration that will see it develop new nuclear weapons capabilities. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was signed by 69 countries in 2017. The U.S. is not one of them.)

Richard Goldberg, senior advisor at research institute Foundation for Defense of Democracies and architect of congressionally enacted sanctions against Iran

“To me it’s a silly conversation well suited perhaps for a European cocktail circuit audience. It would be too Obama-esque to accept a Nobel Prize prematurely. The goal of a U.S. president should be to keep Americans safe, not win Nobel Prizes, and I think the Trump administration is rightly focused on the former.

Richard Caplan, professor of international relations, University of Oxford

“Trump deserves credit for helping to lower tensions on the Korean Peninsula, which is very significant indeed. However, North Korea is notorious for rowing back on its commitments with regard to nuclear weapons. My point is simply that it is too early to say that denuclearization has been achieved. 

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Robert Manning, Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security

“Donald Trump absolutely does not deserve to win any prizes for his efforts on North Korea. Possibly an Emmy for great reality TV … Having said that, I do think Trump deserves credit for getting things this far. Trump’s threats and bluster were key in building support from China and Russia to obtain unprecedented UN Security Council sanctions that applied “maximum pressure” to the North Korean economy which helped bring Kim to the table. Also, Trump’s unconventional diplomacy has been a factor. In a system were one man makes decisions, Trump is the first U.S. leader to decide that he better meet with that one man, Kim.”

Denny Roy, senior fellow of Asia Pacific security issues, East West Center

Trump does not deserve the Nobel Prize for his North Korea policy for several reasons.
First, immediately before Kim Jong Un went on his diplomatic offensive, Trump was threatening a military attack against North Korea if it acquired nuclear weapons, and with nuclear annihilation, if North Korea tried to nuke the United States. That may well have worked, but the aim of the Nobel Prize is not to honor successful belligerence …  Trump’s policy since Kim Jong Un’s outreach has simply been to restate a longstanding U.S. offer that predated Trump, which is that the United States will compensate North Korea with upgraded economic and political relations if North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons. Trump did not break new ground, although he added his characteristically bizarre stylistic flourishes, such as publicly fawning over the despicable Kim Jong Un.”

Henrik Urdal, Research Director, Peace Research Institute Oslo 

“I don’t think any of the actors involved in the work towards de-nuclearization of the Korean peninsula deserves the prize this year, including Trump. We have seen promising signs that real negotiations could take place, but we are very far from any tangible and irreversible results towards nuclear disarmament. I think such a prize could happen down the road, but only after we have seen major progress.”

Bonus: Trump on Trump

“Everyone thinks so, but I would never say it,” the 45th president of the United States said in May, of himself, when addressing recent diplomatic progress made with North Korea and whether he deserved to collect the $1 million prize. Trump’s comment came in the wake of remarks made by South Korean President Moon. “President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize. The only thing we need is peace,” Mood said. 

More: Nobel Peace Prize: Who will win in 2018?

More: Unprecedented Nobel Prize combo may bode well for women in sciences

What do you think? Should Trump win the Nobel Peace Prize, if not this year then next? You can write to USA TODAY reporters Kim Hjelmgaard (khjelmgaard@usatoday.com) and Deirdre Shesgreen (dshesgreen@usatoday.com) with your views. 

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Trump calls Kavanaugh allegations ‘uncorroborated’ following FBI investigation

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday about his confidence in a Republican midterms victory, saying Democrats’ grilling of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will lead Americans to vote Republican. | Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

Kavanaugh Confirmation

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President Donald Trump on Thursday declared that the allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are “totally uncorroborated” and will possibly benefit Republicans in the upcoming midterms.

“The harsh and unfair treatment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh is having an incredible upward impact on voters. The PEOPLE get it far better than the politicians. Most importantly, this great life cannot be ruined by mean & despicable Democrats and totally uncorroborated allegations!” he tweeted.

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The tweet came as senators were set to begin reviewing the results of an FBI investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh levied by Christine Blasey Ford, who claims Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school. After a cascade of leaked confidential information related to Kavanaugh’s confirmation, only senators and a select few staffers can review the investigation under strict time restrictions. The White House received the results of the FBI investigation ahead of the senators’ review.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said on CNN he can’t discuss the contents of the investigation or provide a list of who was interviewed, though Ford’s lawyers have said their client was never interviewed by the FBI. Several friends and colleagues of Ford and Kavanaugh have spoken publicly about their recollections, including classmates who said Kavanaugh largely underplayed his drinking during his testimony last week.

Later in the morning as senators from both parties had an opportunity to review the file, Trump tweeted again: “This is a very important time in our country. Due Process, Fairness and Common Sense are now on trial!”

The White House and Senate Republicans have eagerly pointed out Kavanaugh has undergone several background checks without his alleged alcohol abuse or sexual misconduct ever posing a problem. Trump rejoined the chorus with another tweet Thursday morning pointing out “This is now the 7th. time the FBI has investigated Judge Kavanaugh.”

“If we made it 100, it would still not be good enough for the Obstructionist Democrats,” the president continued.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) rejected Republicans’ claim that past investigations contained “not a whiff” of the current allegations. Speaking in CNN on Thursday morning, the senator said: “I will tell you on its face that statement was inaccurate, that ‘not a whiff statement.” He added, “I know it based on having reviewed personally the background investigation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh before this controversy.”

Trump’s tweet also comes as midterm elections approach, with Republicans facing a dramatic wave of Democratic challengers. The president also tweeted Wednesday about his confidence in a large Republican victory, saying Democrats’ grilling of Kavanaugh will lead Americans to vote Republican.

“VOTERS ARE REALLY ANGRY AT THE VICIOUS AND DESPICABLE WAY DEMOCRATS ARE TREATING BRETT KAVANAUGH!” he tweeted Wednesday.

Later he added: “Wow, such enthusiasm and energy for Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Look at the Energy, look at the Polls. Something very big is happening. He is a fine man and great intellect. The country is with him all the way!”

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Julian Edelman returns, Tom Brady gets milestone as Patriots cruise past Colts

It wasn’t necessarily pretty — for either side — but the New England Patriots fended off the Indianapolis Colts 38-24 on Thursday night, putting themselves in position to reclaim a share of the AFC East lead.

Returning from a PED suspension, New England WR Julian Edelman played his first meaningful game since Super Bowl LI (he missed the 2017 season with a knee injury). He generally looked like his old self, hauling in seven Tom Brady passes (most among Patriots wideouts) for 57 yards, though did have a drop in the first half that cost his team a first down and big chunk of yards.

Meanwhile, Brady had another record-setting night, finishing with 341 yards and three TDs through the air while adding another on one of his patented goal-line sneaks. He did suffer two interceptions in a game that got uncomfortably close early in the fourth quarter before New England pulled away.

Doyel: Andrew Luck can’t beat Patriots by himself

Player safety failure: NFL continues to disregard rules against using helmet as weapon

Week 5 picks: Who wins Battle of Texas, NFL title game rematch?

The Miami Dolphins (3-1), who were blown out by the Patriots in Week 4, go to Cincinnati to face the Bengals (3-1) on Sunday. A Miami loss would drop them into a first-place tie with New England.

Here are three other things we learned from Thursday’s game:

More TB12 milestones: Brady’s fourth-quarter TD pass to Josh Gordon was the 71st of his career to a different player, a new NFL record (Brady tied Vinny Testaverde in Week 4). It was Brady’s third scoring strike of the night and 500th of his career as he joined Peyton Manning (539) and Brett Favre (508) in the 500 club.

Hard Luck Colts: Indianapolis fell to 1-4, falling into the AFC South cellar. But it’s evident a rebuilding team, still short of talent in many areas, will not be pushed around. Despite not having WR T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) and a losing a litany of defensive players, including stud rookie LB Darius Leonard (ankle), the Colts hung around most of the night. Andrew Luck continues to look like the ballyhooed player taken atop the 2012 draft as he travels the road back from shoulder surgery. He battled gamely (365 yards, 2 TDs) despite being undermined by numerous drops from his receivers. K Adam Vinatieri banged a field goal attempt off an upright in the first half, much to the delight of the New England fans who used to root for him. And the defense, which has shown great improvement under new coordinator Matt Eberflus, eventually gave out late after hemorrhaging too many starters. 

Gutsy Gronk: Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski played despite being limited all week by an ankle injury that had initially cast his status in doubt. He caught six passes for 75 yards, but was involved in an interception of Brady after a ball Gronk seemed to have possession of was jarred loose. He looked gimpy at times, but earned a 10-day rest heading into New England’s next contest, one sure to be hyped when they welcome Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football in Week 6.

***

Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

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Fox News Host Compares Brett Kavanaugh Confirmation To Crucifixion of Jesus Christ

“I know one thing about in my 12 years of Catholic Church was that crucifixion was an important event because it was designed to establish a wall between justice and mob rule,” Gutfeld said. 

“Christ died so that the mob wouldn’t survive,” he said. “He died for everybody’s sins.” 

And that’s apparently what Democrats have done to Kavanaugh. 

“What the Democrats have tried to do is tear down the wall between justice and mob rule. They decide to crucify someone once again. That’s what’s wrong.”

Kavanaugh, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by several women, appears to be days away from a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. 

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Dodgers slug past Braves in NLDS Game 1, Hyun-Jin Ryu masterful

Breaking down Game 1 of the National League Division Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium:

Dodgers 5, Braves 0: Dodgers lead the series 1-0.

Game: The Dodgers, without Clayton Kershaw on the mound, cruised to a 6-0 victory over the Braves, who returned to the postseason for the first time since 2013.

The Dodgers put on a power display early and late to account for five of six runs. Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz, who allowed 17 homers over 183 innings during the regular season, coughed up two of them in his first 12 batters.  

Dodgers’ Joc Pederson, who set the franchise record for leadoff home runs this year, hit a leadoff homer and Max Muncy added a three-run rainbow shot in the second inning to stake Hyun-Jin Ryu to a 4-0 lead.

Enrique Hernandez added a solo homer off Brad Bach in the sixth inning for a 5-0 lead.  

Ryu was exceptionally sharp with his command, using a combination of cutters, curves and change-ups to put a very aggressive offensive team on its heels. In the end, he allowed four hits — all singles — and struck out eight with no walks over seven innings.

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State of the series: The Dodgers head into Game 2 on Friday (9:37 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1) with the clear advantage. They have their ace Clayton Kershaw (9-5, 2.73 ERA) on the mound. While Kershaw wasn’t thrilled with the decision not to start Game 1, he accepted it. “I don’t need to prove myself to anyone,” he said. Kershaw’s presence on the mound alone is daunting, but he’s had his struggles in October, posting a 7-7 record with a 4.35 ERA. The Braves counter with Anibal Sanchez, who was 7-6 with a 2.83 ERA this season.

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Pivot point: It didn’t take long. On the third pitch of the game from Foltynewicz, Pederson sent a 98 mph fastball 400 feet over the right center field for a home run. Forty-seven pitches later, Foltynewicz was relieved from the game with a 4-0 deficit.  

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Man of the moment: Max Muncy, who was a non-roster invitee to spring training and wasn’t added to the 40-man roster until his call-up April 17, slugged a three-run homer in the second inning that lifted the Dodgers to 4-0 lead. He also played a big part in the tiebreaker game against the Colorado Rockies, connecting on a two-run homer in the win. Before 2018, he had five home runs to his credit. In 2018, he led the Dodgers and finished tied for fifth in the National League with 35 home runs.

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What you missed on TV: Manny Machado jerseys were spotted in the stands — but with his namesake in a Baltimore Orioles uniform. What fan wouldn’t want to part ways with the Orioles, who lost a franchise-record 115 games, and be traded along with Machado to Hollywood. 

Follow Boeck on Twitter @scott_boeck

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