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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

A new book by two New York Times reporters suggests that Deborah Ramirez — who claimed that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while both were Yale students — had significant evidence to corroborate her charges. But Republicans seeking to confirm Kavanaugh ensured that her charges were not fully investigated. Now some prominent Democrats, including several presidential candidates, are calling for Kavanaugh to be impeached for lying during his Senate confirmation hearings.

According to The Education of Brett Kavanaugh, which the Times excerpted last weekend, Ramirez described the incident to the FBI in detail:

During the winter of her freshman year, a drunken dormitory party unsettled her deeply. She and some classmates had been drinking heavily when, she says, a freshman named Brett Kavanaugh pulled down his pants and thrust his penis at her, prompting her to swat it away and inadvertently touch it. Some of the onlookers, who had been passing around a fake penis earlier in the evening, laughed.

Ramirez reportedly gave investigators a list of 25 witnesses who could support her allegation but they were hindered by rules imposed by the Senate Republicans and interviewed none of the proposed witnesses. Following up on her charges in a ten-month investigation, however, authors Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly found that “at least seven people, including Ms. Ramirez’s mother, heard about the Yale incident long before Mr. Kavanaugh was a federal judge.” Two of those witnesses were Ramirez classmates who learned of the assault just days after the party, “suggesting that it was discussed among students at the time.”

(Here I should note that both Pogrebin and Kelly were my colleagues at the New York Observer — and I continue to hold them in the highest regard.)

Over the weekend, the Times itself came under heavy criticism for an insensitive tweet promoting an article about the book, which described “having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party” as seeming “like harmless fun.” The paper subsequently deleted the tweet and instead noted on Twitter that “we deleted a previous tweet regarding this article. It was offensive, and we apologize.”

While President Trump and Senate Republicans continued to defend Kavanaugh, denouncing the new reporting as a “smear,” Democrats demanded a renewed investigation and possible impeachment of the new justice. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) declared in a tweet that Kavanaugh “was put on the Court through a sham process and his place on the Court is an insult to the pursuit of truth and justice. He must be impeached.”

In her own tweet, Senator Elizabeth Warren linked him to Trump: “Last year the Kavanaugh nomination was rammed through the Senate without a thorough examination of the allegations against him. Confirmation is not exoneration, and these newest revelations are disturbing. Like the man who appointed him, Kavanaugh should be impeached.”

 

Poll: Most Parents Oppose Rapid School Reopening

Numerous local school systems around the country are plowing ahead with plans to resume in-person instruction despite growing evidence that children are just as capable of spreading the coronavirus as adults.

Classes were set to begin on Monday in Baker County, Florida. Masks for students will be optional, not required. "It looks like it's back to normal this morning, honestly," a local television reporter observed as parents dropped their kids off in the morning. Many students wore no face coverings.

The Trump administration and the GOP have pushed for full reopening of schools for months."Schools in our country should be opened ASAP," Donald Trump tweeted in May. "Much very good information now available."

"SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!" he reiterated on July 6.

"The science and data is clear: children can be safe in schools this fall, and they must be in school this fall," demanded Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) on Aug. 1.

"I believe our schools can, and should rise to the occasion of re-opening for in-person education this fall," agreed Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) two days later.

"The CDC and Academy of Pediatrics agree: We can safely get students back in classrooms," tweeted House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) last Tuesday.

But while Scalise, Mike Pence, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have all cited the American Academy of Pediatrics in their arguments for reopening, a new study by the group and the Children's Hospital Association raises red flags about how safe that will be.

Their report found 338,982 reported coronavirus cases in children as of July 30 in the United States. Between July 16 and July 30, the nation saw a 40% increase — 97,078 new infected children.

Last week, a high school student in an Atlanta suburb posted a photo online showing few students wearing masks in a crowded school hallway. Since that time, at least six students and three adult employees in the school have reportedly contracted the coronavirus, and the school temporarily has switched to online classes.

Another Georgia school district has already seen at least 13 students and staff members test positive since reopening a week ago.

A recent study in South Korea found that children aged ten and older spread the coronavirus at the same rates adults do. A separate study in Chicago suggested young kids might also be effective spreaders.

These contradict the false claims made by Trump and his administration that kids have an "amazing" near immunity to COVID-19.

"If you look at children, children are almost — and I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease, so few. They've got stronger, hard to believe, and I don't know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this," Trump told Fox News on Wednesday.

"You got to open the schools. They have a stronger immune system even than you have or I have," he told Barstool Sports on July 23. "It's amazing. You look at the percentage, it's a tiny percentage of one percent. And in that one case, I mean, I looked at a couple of cases. If you have diabetes, if you have, you know, problems with something, but the kids are in great shape." Children have made up nearly nine percent of all cases, even with schools mostly closed.

And DeVos incorrectly said in a July 16 interview, "More and more studies show that kids are actually stoppers of the disease and they don't get it and transmit it themselves."

In early July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for how schools could operate more safely during the pandemic.

Trump publicly ridiculed the guidelines, dismissing them as "very tough & expensive" and "very impractical."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.