Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

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

Trump Threatens Accountants Over Release Of His Financial Records

Trump’s accounting firm is poised to hand over 10 years of his financial records to Congress — and Trump is desperate to keep that from happening.

Politico reported Monday that two of Trump’s lawyers have essentially threatened to sue the firm, Mazars USA, if it decides to comply with a subpoena from House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings requesting 10 years’ worth of audits and other financial information on the Trump Organization and other entities.

Those records could prove that Trump committed fraud by lying about his net worth to banks and insurance companies — as Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, testified under oath that Trump had done.

In an attempt to corroborate Cohen’s testimony, Cummings officially requested the financial records from Mazars last month. There’s already reason to suspect that Cohen’s allegations are true, Cummings noted in his request: Between June of 2012 and March of 2013, “the value of the President’s assets appears to have skyrocketed by $4.2 billion” — yet this increase in value only came from a “single line item” in Trump’s assets that did not exist in 2011 or 2012.

The accounting firm indicated that it was willing to comply with the request, but that it would need a subpoena in order to do so — and Cummings announced Friday that he would oblige. Because Congress is in recess for two weeks starting Monday, Cummings said he would issue it on Monday without waiting for the committee to vote.

Since Mazars itself requested this “friendly” subpoena, there’s no reason to believe the firm wouldn’t comply. And that’s probably why Trump’s team is resorting to legal threats in order to stop it.

The Trump attorneys, William S. Consovoy and Stefan Passantino, whined in their letter to Mazars that Democrats are just trying to “damage [Trump] politically” by issuing the subpoena. The lawyers further whined that Congress is “not a miniature Department of Justice,” and claimed that Cummings is violating the Constitution by trying to “assume for Congress the role of police, prosecutor, and judge.”

These claims are nonsense. One of the Oversight Committee’s constitutionally mandated jobs is to conduct oversight of the executive branch, and it has subpoena power in order to help it do this job. The committee doesn’t make charging or sentencing decisions, but it does gather information.

And if a president committed financial fraud, that’s information worth gathering — and presenting to the public, or to prosecutors, so they can decide what to do with it.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

IMAGE: Michael Cohen, the former Trump attorney whose testimony about the president’s finances led Congress to subpoena his accountants.

Trump Preparing To Take Food Stamps Away From 750,000 Americans

When Americans are struggling, you can always depend on Trump to kick them while they’re down.

Right before Christmas, the Trump administration proposed a draconian new rule that would kick about 750,000 Americans off of food stamps. The public comment period for that rule is ending Tuesday, NPR reports — and if the final rule looks like the proposed one, three-quarters of a million people are likely to lose their badly needed food assistance later this year.

Even more people, likely millions, would lose their food stamps or have their benefits slashed under Trump’s proposed budget. But unlike that budget, which is unlikely to ever become law, this rule change by Trump’s Department of Agriculture can and will hurt a lot of people very soon.

Under current rules, the overwhelming majority of able-bodied adults who receive food stamps for more than three months must also work, volunteer, or get job training for at least 20 hours a week.

But not everyone lives in an area where jobs — or even job-training programs — are easy to find. That’s why states whose unemployment rates are at least 20 percent higher than the national rate can apply to waive the work requirement, so that families can keep putting food on the table even during a localized economic downturn.

Trump wants to change all that. And Trump Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has a disgusting justification for taking food out of Americans’ mouths: “We believe the purpose of our welfare system should help people to become independent rather than permanent dependency,” he recently told the House Agriculture Committee.

In other words, Perdue thinks helping people feed themselves while they look for a job promotes “dependency,” and that starving them will magically encourage them to “become independent” and find other income sources faster.

It’s important to note that nobody is living large off food stamps. The average benefit per person is about $126 a month, or $1.40 per meal. Many people who rely on food stamps also have to rely on charities like food pantries in order to get enough to eat every month.

And despite Perdue’s gross, ill-informed claims about “permanent dependency,” the average beneficiary stays on the program for just seven to nine months.

The rule change is also yet another end-run around Congress, much like Trump’s move to declare a fake “national emergency” to get funding for his racist border wall. Trump’s team proposed the rule change right after Congress refused to pass the same proposal — and Democrats in Congress have threatened to sue if the rule change goes into effect, because they say it’s an abuse of executive power to override Congress’ power of the purse.

Between this proposal and the Trump administration’s relentless attacks on health care, you could be forgiven for thinking Republicans want people who aren’t wealthy to die faster.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

IMAGE: A local food pantry with supplies for hungry families.

 

What Is Trump’s Attorney General ‘Redacting’ From Mueller’s Report?

[vc_row][vc_column]

Congress has given Attorney General William Barr a hard deadline on handing over the full report from special counsel Robert Mueller: no later than April 2, and without redactions so congressional investigators can see all the relevant evidence.

Barr’s counter-offer? Sometime in mid-April, and with lots of redactions.

Barr sent a letter on Friday to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, informing them that the report is being redacted so that it can be released to both Congress and the public.

Barr didn’t say anything in his letter about releasing a version to Congress that has fewer redactions, or none. That suggests that he intends to hide just as much of the Mueller report from Congress as he does from the public.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, was not impressed.

“As I informed the Attorney General earlier this week, Congress requires the full and complete Mueller report, without redactions, as well as access to the underlying evidence, by April 2,” Nadler said in a statement. “That deadline still stands.”

Almost no one has actually seen the full, nearly 400-page report from Mueller on Russian election interference and Trump’s potential obstruction of justice.

All we’ve seen is a four-page summary from Barr — who was vocally opposed to the Mueller investigation long before Trump chose him to lead the Department of Justice — that was released less than 48 hours after Barr received a copy of the Mueller’s full report.

Barr’s rushed summary said that Mueller could not establish that the Trump team conspired with the Russian government (which is a pretty high bar for “collusion”). Barr’s summary also noted that while Mueller’s report “does not exonerate” Trump on obstruction of justice crimes, Barr and the DOJ had already decided that there wasn’t enough evidence to accuse Trump of a crime — again, less than 48 hours after they received the full text of Mueller’s 400-page report.

Barr has been criticized for what looks likely to be a biased summary of Mueller’s report, and that criticism seems to be bothering him.

In fact, he spent an entire paragraph of his Friday letter to Congress whining about how his summary shouldn’t have been called a “summary” at all, because it was not “an exhaustive recounting” of Mueller’s report and only summarized its “principal conclusions.”

Barr was apparently fine with doing a rush job on Mueller in order to make Trump look good. But now that it’s time to be held accountable to Congress and the public, he’s dragging his feet — and, by the looks of it, trying to hide as much as he can.

Four types of information in the Mueller report are subject to redaction, Barr said in his latest letter to Congress: material from Mueller’s grand jury, information that could compromise intelligence sources and methods, information related to ongoing investigations, and “information that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.”

The line about “third parties” is especially alarming because it’s so vague. Who counts as a “peripheral third party,” and what “reputational interests” of theirs could be used as an excuse to keep Congress and the public in the dark?

For instance, is Barr redacting important information about Ivanka Trump or Donald Trump Jr. just because it made them look bad? We don’t know.

Nadler is also calling for Barr to immediately testify before Congress “to explain the rationale behind his letter, his rapid decision that the evidence developed was insufficient to establish an obstruction of justice offense, and his continued refusal to provide us with the full report.”

Nadler’s statement also made clear that Congress needs to see everything — not just the text of Mueller’s report, but also the grand jury evidence that informed it. While that information can’t be publicly disclosed, Nadler urged Barr to work with the House Judiciary Committee to get it using a court order.

“There is ample precedent for the Department of Justice sharing all of the information that the Attorney General proposes to redact to the appropriate congressional committees,” Nadler said.

“Again, Congress must see the full report.”

Published with permission of The American Independent.

[/vc_column][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Trump Campaign Urges TV Producers To Silence His Critics

Talk about bad faith.

On Monday, the Trump campaign sent a memo to TV producers arguing that prominent Trump critics — including four Democratic members of Congress, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, and former CIA Director John Brennan — should be banned from appearing on news segments.

The reason? All six people have made comments about Trump and Russia that the Trump team disagrees with.

Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the Trump campaign, claims in the memo that Brennan, DNC Chair Tom Perez, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Eric Swalwell (D-CA), have all made “outlandish, false claims” about the likelihood that Trump or members of his campaign colluded with Russia on its election-meddling.

Murtaugh then begs producers to “employ basic journalistic standards” when considering whether these members of Trump’s enemies list “warrant further appearances” — or, in other words, to never book them again. If producers do decide to book them, Murtaugh begs that anchors at least “challenge them to provide the evidence which prompted them to make the wild claims in the first place.”

There’s a lot to unpack here.

First of all, Trump is routinely represented on TV by serial liars like Kellyanne ConwaySarah Huckabee Sanders, and Rudy Giuliani. Even if the claims about Trump critics lying were true, it would take a lot of chutzpah for the Trump campaign to try to take the high road on facts and truth.

But more to the point, the claims about lying aren’t true.

The Trump campaign, like the Trump White House, is promoting the bogus idea that the Mueller report has completely exonerated Trump — even though almost no one, including the White House, has gotten the chance to read that report in full.

The only thing made public so far is a four-page summary of Mueller’s report that is written by a biased source: William Barr, Trump’s hand-picked attorney general.

And even that likely skewed summary included a quote from the Mueller report making clear that the report “does not exonerate” Trump on the question of obstruction of justice.

It’s true that Barr’s report also says the Mueller report “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

But we don’t know what else the Mueller report said about the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia. And being unable to “establish” collusion beyond a reasonable doubt is not the same thing as saying there was no evidence for it.

That’s what the six critics on the Trump campaign’s list were talking aboutevidence of collusion. And there’s plenty of that — both in public reports, and potentially as part of investigations still being conducted by Congress.

It’s hard to say whether the Trump campaign’s stunt is more pathetic, or more scary. It’s a chilling attempt to stifle freedom of the press, but it’s also a flatly absurd gambit from a group of serial liars.

In other words, it’s typical Trump behavior.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

Congressional Probe Demands Documents On Ivanka Trump

When the House Judiciary Committee kicked off its massive new investigation this month into Trump and his inner circle, one member of that inner circle seemed conspicuously absent: Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

While the committee requested documents from 81 Trump-connected people and organizations — including Ivanka’s brothers Eric and Donald Jr. — Ivanka herself wasn’t on that list.

But as the New York Times reported Wednesday, that doesn’t mean she isn’t being investigated. In fact, more than half of the Judiciary Committee’s document requests, 52 out of 81, include requests for information about Ivanka Trump.

The congressional probe’s main focus is whether and how Donald Trump obstructed justice, abused his power, or engaged in public corruption.

But the committee also appears to be looking at Ivanka Trump’s potential financial conflicts of interest — and even whether she violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution by profiting from foreign governments while serving as her father’s adviser in the White House.

When it comes to Ivanka’s shady financial dealings, there’s a lot to investigate. Some of it could also spell trouble for her father, since their family business dealings have long been intertwined.

Emails uncovered by ProPublica and WNYC showed that while she was still an executive at the Trump Organization, Ivanka directed suspicious spending on behalf of Trump’s inaugural committee that may have illegally enriched her family.

The New York Times notes that Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, never fully divested from their companies even after making their White House roles official, and that they make tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars from investments they’re still involved in.

Ivanka made money off of her fashion brand while representing the U.S. government, and continues to pursue lucrative trademarks in China — one of which was approved the same day her father lifted sanctions on a big Chinese corporation.

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen told Congress last month that Ivanka was one of the people he kept apprised of updates on the Trump Tower Moscow project — a deal so shady and potentially problematic for Trump that Cohen, when he was still representing Trump, lied to Congress about how long Trump and his team had pursued it.

Cohen’s testimony throws doubt on Ivanka Trump’s claims that she knew “literally almost nothing” about the Moscow project — which the Trump team was still pursuing at the same time Russia was meddling in the 2016 election to help Trump.

And while this was before Trump ran for president, another investigation by ProPublica and WNYC found that Ivanka routinely helped her father mislead buyers and investors on Trump Organization real estate projects. In order to attract more money and outside investment, the Trumps overstated how many units had been sold and lied about how much stake the Trump family had in the projects.

Ivanka Trump tries to cultivate a soft, moderate, professional image that’s very unlike her boorish father (or her brothers, for that matter). Some reporting even indicates that Democrats are worried about backlash if they directly target Ivanka right out of the gate.

But she’s not out of the woods yet. In fact, her troubles may be just beginning.

Cover-Up? Trump Golf Club Dismisses Undocumented Workers

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

 

Trump has been demonizing Latin American immigrants and claiming they’re bad for the economy ever since he started running for president. But as it turns out, Trump has also spent years personally benefiting from the labor of undocumented Latin American immigrants at his golf clubs.

Now that his secret is out, the Washington Post reports at least one of Trump’s golf clubs is suddenly scrambling to fire undocumented workers who have been loyal employees in good standing for years — even though their undocumented status was hardly a secret.

Through interviews and documents, the Post learned that about a dozen undocumented workers from Latin America were fired on Jan. 18 from the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester County, New York.

Many had worked there for years, and said the firings felt like a shocking betrayal. One former maintenance worker from Mexico, Gabriel Sedano, told the Post that he started to cry after being fired from the job he’d held since 2005.

“I had worked almost 15 years for them in this club, and I’d given the best of myself to this job,” Sedano said. “I’d never done anything wrong, only work and work.”

Margarita Cruz, a housekeeping employee from Mexico who was fired after eight years, said her bosses had said “absolutely nothing” about her immigration status before suddenly firing her.

“They never said, ‘Your Social Security number is bad’ or ‘Something is wrong,’” Cruz said. “Nothing. Nothing. Until right now.”

And according to one former manager of the club, the Trump Organization took a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to hiring undocumented immigrants. They knew it was likely to happen, the former manager said, but they didn’t care — all they cared about was getting “the cheapest labor possible,” and they thought they could get away with it because immigration raids seemed unlikely to happen at posh golf clubs.

This is the second Trump golf club to make the news for using undocumented labor. In December, the New York Times published a report featuring interviews with two women who said they’d worked at a Trump golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, for years despite their undocumented status, and that they had other coworkers in similar situations.

The two reports from the two clubs have a lot in common. They both feature workers who had been loyal employees for many years — some of whom even had fond personal memories of Trump — but who felt betrayed by their employers and by Trump’s vicious anti-immigration rhetoric.

And both include credible allegations that the Trump Organization either knew or should have known that it was likely employing undocumented workers. Multiple workers even claimed that their supervisors actively helped or encouraged them to get better illegal paperwork to avoid detection.

Anibal Romero, an attorney who organized the interviews between the Post and the fired New York golf club workers, told the Post that the Trump Organization has shown “a pattern and practice of hiring undocumented immigrants, not only in New Jersey, but also in New York.”

Trump still owns the two clubs, along with 14 others worldwide, and his sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. handle the day-to-day business concerns.

In a statement, Eric Trump tried to pretend that because the “system is broken,” the Trump Organization is now responsibly cracking down on something it had no reason to know about before. He also claimed that this debacle is one of the reasons “my father is fighting so hard for immigration reform.”

It’s pretty rich to claim that Trump’s insistence on causing the longest government shutdown in history over funding for an ineffective border wall counts as “fighting” for “immigration reform” — especially when Trump himself has made money off the same people he claims to want to keep out of the country.

If Trump really wanted to fight hard for immigration reform, he could easily have started in his own back yard. Instead, he chose to profit from the sweat of hard-working people when it suited him, and throw them under the bus when it didn’t.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

 

In Meeting With Democratic Leaders, Trump’s Tantrum Backfires

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

 

Trump probably thought he was being clever on Tuesday when he insisted on inviting the press into what was supposed to be a closed-door negotiating session over government spending with House Minority Leader (and likely soon House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Instead, Trump made a complete fool of himself on camera.

He whined and yelled. He interrupted and made dumb, snide remarks. He told the same blatant lies about how the wall is already being built and is already effective that have already been repeatedly fact-checked — the kinds of Trump lies that are so persistent, the Washington Post’s fact-checker had to invent a whole new category of “Pinocchios” to describe them.

Pelosi and Schumer actually tried, gently at first, to steer Trump away from publicly humiliating himself by urging him to have this discussion off-camera.

But when he refused, they also stood firm against his bullying, called out his nonsense, and made him look exactly like the petulant child he is.

It’s worth watching the whole exchange, which pool reporters later described as “nuts” and “unbelievable even by the standards” of this White House.

Trump started getting very testy when Pelosi pointed out that he doesn’t even have the votes in the Republican-dominated House for the full $5 billion of border wall funding that he wants.

He insisted that he could “easily” get the votes in the House if he wanted to, but claimed there was no point because it wouldn’t get through the Senate.

Pelosi patiently explained that in the process of legislating — which, she reminded Trump, “is what we do” — you start by making your case with bills and votes.

“That’s what the House Republicans would do, if they had the votes,” she said. “But there are no votes.”

Then Trump kept repeating the phrase “border security” like it was a magic word, insisted that you can’t have border security without having the wall, and claimed that the wall is already partially built and is already working.

But Schumer systematically explained why all of that was nonsense.

“The Washington Post today gave you a whole lot of Pinocchios because they say you constantly misstate how much of the wall is built,” Schumer told Trump. He pointed out that according to experts, the wall is “wasteful and doesn’t solve the problem” of border security.

And if Trump is bragging about the current state of border security, Schumer asked, then what’s wrong with just giving him the same deal he got last year — money for border security, but not specifically a wall? (What’s more, as Schumer later pointed out to reporters, most of last year’s $1.6 billion appropriated for border security hasn’t even been spent yet.)

Things started getting really bad when Pelosi reminded Trump that voters decisively rejected his agenda in November by putting Democrats back in charge of the House.

“We’ve gained in the Senate!” Trump objected petulantly. He repeated, interrupting Pelosi: “Nancy, we’ve gained in the Senate. Excuse me, did we win the Senate?”

“When the president brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana, he’s in real trouble,” Schumer quipped.

“I did!” Trump whined. “We did win!”

And in a moment almost too self-sabotaging to be believed, Trump actually declared that he would be “proud” to shut down the government if he doesn’t get his way on the wall.

Trump really, really, wants his wall. He wants it like a toddler wants a new toy he just saw on TV, and he will quite literally throw a tantrum until he gets it.

Unfortunately for Trump, he has to negotiate with grown-ups. And the grown-up Democratic leaders in Congress just proved that they’re perfectly willing to just let Trump cry it out until he gives up.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

 

Report: Undocumented Women Worked At Trump National Golf Club

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

 

Two immigrant women have gone on the record with The New York Times to admit they were undocumented when they worked at one of Trump’s golf clubs — and to speak out against Trump’s dehumanizing treatment of immigrants during his presidency.

The Times conducted extensive interviews in Spanish with Victorina Morales, who crossed the southwest border illegally in 1999 from Guatemala, and Sandra Diaz, a native of Costa Rica who is now a legal U.S. resident but says she was undocumented when she worked at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, from 2010 to 2013.

Their story is remarkable. Trump, of course, routinely demonizes immigrants — especially undocumented immigrants, and especially people from Latin America. And as the Times pointed out, he has also bragged about verifying his workers’ documents electronically to make sure he “didn’t have one illegal immigrant on the job.”

But Morales and Diaz say that while they can’t say for sure how many other workers at the club have been undocumented, they are far from the only ones.

And while there’s no hard evidence that either Trump himself or Trump Organization executives knew that the Bedminster club hired undocumented workers, Morales and Diaz say it’s a common and accepted enough practice that multiple supervisors knew about their status. One manager, Morales said, even loaned her money to get new fake documents when there was a problem with her old ones.

And Morales — who was given a personalized certificate from the White House Communications Agency for the “outstanding” support she gave Trump during his many stays at the club — said she had trouble believing Trump was totally ignorant of her status.

“I ask myself, is it possible that this señor thinks we have papers? He knows we don’t speak English,” she told the Times. “Why wouldn’t he figure it out?”

Diaz trained Morales, cleaned Trump’s two-story residence with her for a time, and quit shortly thereafter. But Morales still works at the club, and still doesn’t have papers.

Morales told the Times that she knows she will probably lose her job and risks being deported by coming forward.

But she felt she couldn’t stay silent anymore in the face of Trump’s hypocritical and hurtful public comments about people like her.

“We are tired of the abuse, the insults, the way he talks about us when he knows that we are here helping him make money,” Morales told the Times. “We sweat it out to attend to his every need and have to put up with his humiliation.”

One of those humiliations, Diaz said, included getting yelled at by Trump when she couldn’t get a stubborn orange makeup stain out of his white golf shirt.

Shortly after Trump kicked off his virulently racist and anti-immigrant presidential campaign in 2015, Morales was told she couldn’t work inside Trump’s residence anymore. Other undocumented workers she knew had their hours cut and eventually quit.

The Times reports that despite all of this, the two women found Trump to be “demanding but kind” in their personal interactions with him, and sometimes a very generous tipper. Morales even thought of him as “a good man.”

But as time went on, the Times notes, Morales and other workers grew “increasingly disturbed” about Trump’s demeaning anti-immigrant remarks, which “seemed to embolden others to make negative comments.”

That included a supervisor at the golf club, who Morales says called workers “stupid illegal immigrants” with less intelligence than a dog.

And so Morales and Diaz, through a lawyer they are both working with on immigration issues, finally decided to go public.

It’s a courageous act that puts a well-deserved spotlight on Trump’s racist, brutal, and wildly hypocritical treatment of hard-working immigrants who are trying to make a better life for themselves and their families.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

 

Poll: Many Americans Say Vote Suppression Kept Them From Ballot Box

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

 

Democrats dominated the midterm elections this year and took back the most House seats they have since Watergate.

But the news was also full of reports about Americans facing long lines and broken voting machines — or even being unable to cast a ballot at all because of Republican-passed laws that make it harder to vote, especially in minority communities.

And a new post-election poll includes a shocking indication of just how bad this problem was: At least 10 percent of people who didn’t vote say that either voter suppression tactics or voter ID laws got in the way when they tried to vote.

About 1 in 10 people who didn’t vote or weren’t registered to vote (9 percent) said the following statement applied to them: “I was not able to vote, or it was harder for me to vote, because of voter suppression tactics in my state or at my polling location.”

Another 10 percent of non-voters said they didn’t have the right kind of identification in order to vote or register to vote.

The poll, a survey of 4,159 adults conducted by USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times between Nov. 7-15, has a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

A couple of caveats: It’s not clear from the poll results how many people experienced both voter suppression and ID problems, versus how many experienced just one or the other.

It’s also not clear how many non-voters would have definitely been able to cast a ballot if they didn’t run into either of these problems; some may still not have been able to get time off work, for instance. And the poll question didn’t specify what exactly “voter suppression tactics” meant.

But even given all that, this result is shocking, and should scandalize anyone who supports free and fair elections in America.

Many close midterm elections this year were determined by less than 1 percent of voters. If even a fraction of these non-voters had been able to cast a ballot, it could have changed the outcome of some close elections.

Voter suppression tactics and voter ID laws are used heavily by Republicans in order to depress turnout among minority groups, college students, and others who are likely to vote for Democrats.

These dirty tricks actually work. Voter ID laws, for instance, consistently suppress voters of color, but have little if any effect on white voter turnout.

And voting problems have been a major point of contention in some very close high-profile races — especially in Florida and Georgia — that Democrats are losing, but that are still counting and recounting ballots and that may be subject to court challenges.

The poll also found that 35 percent of non-voters reported being unable to vote because they could not take the time away from work or other personal obligations.

That’s also an outrage, and it’s why many voting rights advocates are calling to expand early voting and make Election Day a federal holiday.

As their very first bill after taking the majority in January, House Democrats plan to introduce a sweeping proposal to protect voting rights, as well as address other problems like partisan gerrymandering that have been central to the Republican war on voting.

And given these disturbing poll results on voter suppression, it’s clear that such reforms are more needed than ever.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

 

Trump Calls Halt To Medical Progress Over Stem Cell Research

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

The Trump administration is considering cutting $100 million worth of crucial medical research into developing new vaccines and treating diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

“It will slow some projects down that are vital for sick Americans,” Larry Goldstein, the director of UC San Diego’s stem cell program, told Politico, blasting the proposal by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to discontinue National Institutes of Health (NIH) research that uses fetal tissue.

Research on stem cells derived from fetal tissue is absolutely essential to medical progress. It brought us the vaccines for polio and measles, and it’s currently being used to develop potential vaccines for HIV/AIDS and influenza, as well as treatments for neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, ALS, and more.

There are strict ethical guidelines on how to obtain the fetal tissue, which comes from miscarriages and legal abortions, and which has unique properties that give researchers insights they often can’t find elsewhere.

This fetal tissue would just get thrown away if it weren’t being donated to research — and that research could save future babies by finding treatments for the Zika virus and other prenatal problems.

But Trump is willing to throw all of that progress out the window just to pander to the same religious extremists who want to ban birth control and fertility treatments.

An HHS spokesperson told Politico that the department is “holding multiple listening sessions with various stakeholders [like] scientists, pro-life groups, ethicists” on whether to ban this medical research.

Among those “pro-life groups” is the Susan B. Anthony List, an extremist lobbying group that’s basically like the NRA of the movement against reproductive health and rights.

But groups like SBA List do even worse things to science and medicine than the NRA, which has blocked government research on gun violence.

The anti-choice extremist movement in America operates a lot like the climate change denial movement: Making up garbage lies and peddling garbage “experts” in order to confuse people about the validity of well-established science.

Thanks to the lobbying of these extremists, doctors are often forced to lie to women about basic health issues or use outdated medical practices. They risk losing their license or even jail time if they can’t figure out how to follow badly written laws that make no medical sense. And women are even arrested for miscarriage when prosecutors abuse laws that were intended to protect pregnant women.

So when the Trump administration says it’s consulting scientists, ethicists, and “pro-life groups” about medical research, it’s a lot like saying NASA is consulting engineers, astrophysicists, and used car salesmen before launching the next space probe.

The real scientists aren’t happy about this at all — and some worry that they’re being “listened” to just so that the Trump administration can cover its ass and do what it’s been planning to all along.

“I don’t know how much time anyone has to give a compelling case,” one anonymous representative of a scientific organization on the listening tour told Politico. “Is this just a fait accompli and window dressing to say that you listened to people?”

Trump, probably taking the advice of the virulently anti-choice Vice President Mike Pence, has already stuffed HHS full of anti-science hacks who push abstinence-only sex “education” for teenagers and who want to defund basic family planning and health programs.

When Pence was governor of Indiana, he signed a law that would have forced women who had miscarriages to seek funerary services for their fetuses.

And of course, the Trump administration and the GOP have tried to ruin health care across the board by systematically sabotaging Obamacare.

Once again, Trump and his lackeys are working hard to sacrifice human health at the altar of right-wing extremism.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

 

Women Made Historic Midterm Gains — But Not GOP Women

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

 

After a virulently misogynist sexual predator won the presidency in 2016, a lot of women were pissed off — and they turned that fury into action. They got organized on a massive scale and ran for office in historic numbers, both to fight against Trump and to fight for their communities.

So it’s no wonder that women made historic gains in Congress on election night. At least 121 women will serve in the next House and Senate. That’s a new record, up from the current 107, and the number may grow as more results come in.

For the first time in U.S. history, more than 100 women will serve in the House of Representatives.

And those women are diverse. All at once, Congress will welcome its first two Muslim women (Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota) and first two Native American women (Sharice Davids of Kansas, Deb Haaland of Michigan) to serve in the House.

But there’s a huge, glaring asterisk attached to this progress: It’s all thanks to Democratic women.

In fact, the 116th Congress will have fewer Republican women than the 115th.

The first and only black Republican woman in Congress, Mia Love of Utah, was defeated in her re-election bid. It’s possible that Republicans could add another woman of color in their caucus come January if Young Kim is able to hold her lead against Gil Cisneros in California, but that’s far from certain.

And the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, has announced  that she won’t run for GOP leadership again after a very challenging re-election campaign.

In general, women are drastically underrepresented at all levels of government, and in both major parties. But the gender gap is much, much worse for Republicans, and has been for decades.

There are a lot of reasons for this, none of them good.

For starters, the Republican Party platform is a regressive carnival of horrors when it comes to women’s health and rights. The GOP really has been waging war on women for decades, opposing just about every possible effort to promote gender equality.

That includes not only reproductive freedom, but also issues like equal pay, paid family leave, workplace accommodations for pregnant and nursing mothers, and protections for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, among many others.

And that’s “just” in the policy arena. Republicans are also culturally dismissive of women’s dignity and equality, as their disgraceful display over Brett Kavanaugh made clear.

The GOP is now the party of rape — not just rapists, but also the people who protect and excuse rapists. (Not to mention pedophiles and actual Nazis.)

If you’re a Republican who hasn’t been turned off yet by a party this systemically hostile to women, you just might be less likely than most to support a woman candidate.

That’s one reason why GOP strategists were actually discouraging many Republican women, especially more moderate women, from running this year — because that’s just how toxic and misogynist the pro-Trump GOP is these days.

But if you’re a woman trying to succeed in the Republican Party despite its misogyny, you’ve actually got much bigger problems than sexist voters: You’ve also got a sexist party that structurally disadvantages women.

In general, research finds that women in both parties are just as likely to be elected to office as men are — once they actually run. But the hard part is getting women to run in the first place, because they tend to have less robust political networks than men, more conflicting obligations at home, fewer people encouraging them to run for office, and fewer women elected officials to look up to and think, “I could do that too.”

Democratic and progressive organizers have spent a lot of time and money trying to change that by actively recruiting and training women to run for office.

The GOP, on the other hand, embraces traditional gender norms that frown on women seeking ambitious careers. Its leaders openly mock the value of diversity and equal representation.

And if you’re a conservative Republican woman, chances are that you enthusiastically endorse the very same regressive ideas that end up holding you back as both a woman and a candidate for office.

This is the other important reason GOP women missed out on this year’s pink wave: They actually weren’t pissed off when the misogynist Trump got elected. Or at least not pissed off enough to do something about it.

Despite Trump’s ugly behavior toward women, over half of white women still voted for him. That’s about the same share of white women who vote for Republicans in every election.

A lot of those women claimed they didn’t care for Trump’s behavior, or even said they found it repugnant. But because Trump was the Republican nominee, they found reasons to excuse or minimize his misogyny in order to vote for him.

The Republican Party is holding conservative women back politically, and conservative women are letting it happen.

And until that changes, Democratic women will be the ones making history.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

 

GOP Senators Ram Through More Right-Wing Judicial Nominees

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

 

Ever since they stole a Supreme Court seat from President Barack Obama in 2016 by refusing to even give Merrick Garland a hearing, Senate Republicans have been running roughshod over democratic norms in order to pack the courts with hard-right conservative ideologues.

Recently, of course, they jammed through the nomination of accused sexual predator and right-wing hack Brett Kavanaugh — even though most Americans opposed his confirmation, and even though his vicious partisanship caused more than 2,400 law professors to oppose him.

But while the Supreme Court gets the most attention, Republicans are also pulling dirty tricks when it comes to lower court nominees — and that could do just as much damage to democracy and equal rights, if not more, than packing the highest court.

On Wednesday, Politico reports, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee did something almost unheard of. They met when the Senate wasn’t even in session, which meant most senators had already left town and no Democrats were around to object.

And at that meeting, GOP senators unilaterally advanced the nominations of a half-dozen of Trump’s judicial nominees — including some of his most extreme and most unqualified picks.

One of these nominees is 36-year-old Allison Rushing, a former clerk to far-right conservatives Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch. As Politico notes, she isn’t even admitted to the bar in her home state of North Carolina, “and her nine years’ experience falls short of the 12 years typically sought by the American Bar Association before they can provide ratings of nominees.”

Yet with a lifetime appointment to the Fourth Circuit, she could serve “for perhaps 40 or 50 years given her youth.”

Republicans even had the gall to claim that the committee’s minority leader, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), had approved of this shady deal.

They were lying, of course. A Feinstein spokeswoman told Politico that “she had given no such approval to move ahead on a ‘controversial’ nomination hearing during a Senate recess.”

Senate Majority Leader and professional craven hypocrite Mitch McConnell has been at this for years. It wasn’t just Garland, Politico notes — McConnell led Republicans in blocking as many of President Obama’s judicial nominees as they could, only to turn around and confirm Trump’s at a record pace:

Republicans spent the second half of Obama’s presidency delaying many of the Democrats’ nominees when they were in the minority and then blocking dozens of them outright once they got the majority in 2015. Now that Trump is president, they have smashed down on the accelerator: The GOP has confirmed two Supreme Court justices and 29 Circuit Court nominees and 53 District Court nominees in fewer than two years. During Obama’s first two years in office, Democrats — who held majorities in both houses — confirmed 62 federal judges.

Since most Americans actually oppose the extreme policies Republicans want, the party has known for a long time now that it can’t rely on democracy to advance its agenda.

That’s why the GOP has resorted to dirty tricks like gerrymandering and voter suppression. And it’s why conservatives have spent decades laying the groundwork to take over the federal judiciary — so that right-wing hacks can strike down the reforms that most Americans want.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

 

Kavanaugh’s ‘Friend’ Renate Dolphin Withdraws Her Support

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

Given that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been credibly accused by multiple women of drunken sexual assault in his high school and college years, it’s no surprise that he’s been getting a lot of questions about his drinking habits and attitudes toward women during those years.

Kavanaugh’s “responses” to these questions under oath have been obvious lies — but the FBI hasn’t been allowed to talk to witnesses who could confirm that he’s lying in its reopened, but extremely limited, background investigation.

One of those witnesses, the New Yorker reports, submitted a sworn declaration to the FBI contradicting Kavanaugh’s most insulting lie of all: that a series of obviously slut-shaming references in his high school yearbook to one particular young woman were made out of respect, not mockery.

And in response to that testimony, the woman who was mocked by Kavanaugh and his friends said she was “profoundly hurt” by hearing the sickening details about it — and confirmed that she was withdrawing her earlier support of Kavanaugh’s nomination.

In the Georgetown Preparatory School yearbook, one photo of nine football players that includes Kavanaugh is captioned, “Renate Alumni.” The phrase “Renate Alumnius” (sic) also appears on Kavanaugh’s individual page in the yearbook.

The reference was to Renate Dolphin, whose last name was Schroeder when she attended a nearby all-girls’ Catholic school.

The implication is obvious when a bunch of teenage boys say they are “alumni” of the same specific girl: They mean that they all engaged in sexual activity with her, or that they think it’s funny to say they did because it lets them call her a slut.

But that’s not what Kavanaugh said in sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He said that Dolphin was “one of our good female friends that we admired and went to dances with,” and that the yearbook reference was “clumsily meant to show affection, that she was one of us.”

Dolphin, however, was very clearly not in on the joke. She told the New York Times last week, before Kavanaugh testified, that she didn’t know about the yearbook references until a few days prior.

“I can’t begin to comprehend what goes through the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue,” she said. “I pray their daughters are never treated this way.”

In that article, Kavanaugh’s lawyer claimed that Kavanaugh and Dolphin “attended one high school event together and shared a brief kiss good night following that event.” Dolphin, however, denied ever having kissed Kavanaugh at all.

Kavanaugh’s lie about Dolphin seems even more obvious and insulting given that one of these “alumni” also had the following short poem on his yearbook page: “You need a date / and it’s getting late / so don’t hesitate / to call Renate.”

Dolphin’s name is reportedly pronounced “reh-NOT-uh” but was changed to “ree-nate” for the purpose of making up insulting rhymes.

The anonymous Georgetown Prep classmate who submitted a declaration to the FBI also mentioned such a “poem” — and told the New Yorker that Kavanaugh and his friends showed anything but respect for Dolphin:

But the classmate who submitted the statement said that he heard Kavanaugh “talk about Renate many times,” and that “the impression I formed at the time from listening to these conversations where Brett Kavanaugh was present was that Renate was the girl that everyone passed around for sex.” The classmate said that “Brett Kavanaugh had made up a rhyme using the REE NATE pronunciation of Renate’s name” and sang it in the hallways on the way to class. He recalled the rhyme going, “REE NATE, REE NATE, if you want a date, can’t get one until late, and you wanna get laid, you can make it with REE NATE.” He said that, while he might not be remembering the rhyme word-for-word, “the substance is 100 percent accurate.” He added, “I thought that this was sickening at the time I heard it, and it left an indelible mark in my memory.”

Dolphin has already gone on the record as being insulted by the implication of Kavanaugh’s yearbook. But when the New Yorker asked Dolphin about the anonymous classmate’s new statement, she seemed devastated.

“If this report is true, I am profoundly hurt,” she said. “I did nothing to deserve this. There is nothing affectionate or respectful in bragging about making sexual conquests that never happened. I am not a political person, but my reputation matters to me and to my family. I would not have signed the letter if I had known about the yearbook references and this affidavit. It is heartbreaking if these guys who acted like my friends in high school were saying these nasty, false things about me behind my back.”

Dolphin confirmed to the New Yorker that she had asked for her name to be removed from a letter signed by 65 women who said they knew Kavanaugh in his high school years and vouched for his character.

Two other women who signed that letter have also subsequently asked to be removed, joining a growing number of former Kavanaugh backers who have officially withdrawn their support — not to mention hundreds of law school professors, and the nation’s largest group of churches, who say Kavanaugh’s nomination must be withdrawn.

It’s not hard to see why Kavanaugh is attracting such universal condemnation. The accusations of sexual assault are awful enough — but Kavanaugh’s willingness to brazenly lie under oath about trivial details destroys any semblance of credibility he might have as a judge.

Anybody who has ever interacted with teenage boys at an American high school knows Kavanaugh is full of it. Teen boys don’t form “clubs” to celebrate the girls they respect so much as friends. They do things like that to bond with their bros over humiliating young women together.

And Kavanaugh sexually humiliating young women and laughing about it is at the core of the very serious allegations against him. The thing that sticks with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford most about her horrific alleged assault, other than fearing she would die of suffocation when Kavanaugh covered her mouth, was hearing the laughter of Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge — best friends having the best time together while they’re trying to rape a girl.

Kavanaugh’s lies aren’t just obvious; they’re insulting. They are insults to the intelligence of anyone who hears them. And to Dolphin, the insult is deeply personal, and reveals some of the true depths of Kavanaugh’s disgusting misogyny.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

 

Kellyanne: Trump Treated Ford ‘Like A Faberge Egg’

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

After somehow refraining from saying anything terrible about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford for days on end, Trump let loose at a Tuesday night campaign rally with vicious mockery of Ford’s brave public testimony about being sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when they were both in high school.

It was so cruel, childish, and indefensible that even Fox News and die-hard Kavanaugh fans like Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) had to grudgingly admit Trump shouldn’t have gone there.

But somehow, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway thought it was a good idea the morning after this shameful performance to claim that actually, Trump and Republicans have treated Ford “like a Fabergé egg.”

“Was it appropriate for President Trump to openly mock the account of Christine Ford last night?” MSNBC reporter Peter Alexander asked Conway on Wednesday.

“I see that that is the lemming-like word you’re all using together, Peter,” Conway replied sarcastically, referring to the word “mock.”

“Well, he imitated her,” Alexander pointed out.

“Excuse me, excuse me. The woman has been accommodated by all of us, including the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Conway said. “She’s been treated like a Fabergé egg by all of us, beginning with me and the president.”

Comparing Ford to a famously rare and delicate luxury item like a Fabergé egg has some obvious, disgusting implications. Conway is suggesting that Republicans aren’t just being “accommodating” — they’re really being too accommodating, and Ford should be more grateful because they really don’t have to be so nice to her.

Trump, Conway added, was merely “pointing out factual inconsistencies” when he mocked Ford at the campaign rally.

Yes, “mocked.” There’s really no better or more accurate word for what Trump said about Ford — or “the woman,” as Conway dismissively referred to her — and how he said it.

“I had one beer!” Trump said Tuesday night, mimicking Ford. “How did you get home? I don’t remember. How did you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know! I don’t know! I don’t know!”

At this, the rally crowd laughed and laughed.

It’s shocking enough that Conway, who just came out publicly as a survivor of sexual assault herself, could excuse this sickening display from Trump and his supporters.

But she also went to bat for every Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee — who, by and large, have actually treated Ford terribly while only pretending to show her respect.

Talking to reporters after Ford’s moving, emotional testimony, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) flew into a rage, accused Ford of being part of an elaborate conspiracy against Kavanaugh, and suggested she was lying because she didn’t have to pay for her polygraph test.

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch declared that Ford was “mixed up” before even hearing her testimony — and on Tuesday, his office published a disgusting letter from a constituent that tried to discredit Kavanaugh’s third public accuser, Julie Swetnick, with nothing more than slut-shaming innuendo.

Not a single Republican on the Judiciary Committee was willing to ask Ford questions to her face, but they’ve all been willing to suggest to reporters that she may be either lying or confused.

That goes for Conway, too.

In the same interview where Conway disclosed her assault, she also cast doubt on Ford’s story — cynically claiming that Ford was “credible,” but that we don’t have to actually believe her because she “didn’t corroborate her testimony.”

Conway even sarcastically asked reporters on Wednesday whether they could “corroborate” Ford’s story.

But Ford actually has plenty of corroboration. Just for starters, she has therapists’ notes, testimony from people she talked to before Kavanaugh was nominated, two other women who have accused Kavanaugh of similar misconduct, and numerous witnesses who say Kavanaugh was a sloppy drunk in ways consistent with her description. Even Kavanaugh’s own high school calendar could potentially corroborate Ford’s story.

Ford is credible. Kavanaugh is not.

And all that Trump, Conway, and Republicans can do about that is try to smear and mock Ford and hope nobody notices what they’re doing.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

 

Affidavit Links Kavanaugh To Gang-Rape Of Inebriated Girls

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

 

A third woman has come forward to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct — specifically, that Kavanaugh facilitated “gang rapes” at house parties in high school, in which a “train” of boys waited outside a room for their “turn” to rape girls who had been incapacitated with drugs or alcohol.

The woman, Julie Swetnick, submitted a sworn declaration signed under penalty of perjury attesting that she was a victim of gang rapes at one of these house parties, during which she believes she was drugged with Quaaludes or a similar substance that made her unable to fight back.

She says that Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were both “present” during that incident, but does not specifically allege that either of them raped her. She also says she has a “firm recollection” of seeing Judge and Kavanaugh lined up with other boys in another “train.”

Swetnick is a government employee who has multiple current and active security clearances. She is being represented by Michael Avenatti, who is also the attorney for Stormy Daniels. Avenatti released Swetnick’s declaration on Twitter, along with an email he wrote to Senate Judiciary Committee staffers about it.

Avenatti announced earlier this week that he had a client with credible information about Kavanaugh’s activities during high school parties, and that this client would be ready to come forward and be named by today.

In addition, Swetnick alleges that Kavanaugh and Judge — who was allegedly the third person in the room during the assault described by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh’s first accuser — both behaved in an “overly aggressive with girls” when they drank.

Swetnick says she witnessed Kavanaugh behave in both physically and verbally abusive ways toward girls at parties, including groping them without their consent.

“I observed Brett Kavanaugh drink excessively at many of these parties and engage in abusive and physically aggressive behavior toward girls, including pressing girls against him without their consent, ‘grinding’ against girls, and attempting to remove or shift girls’ clothing to expose private body parts,” Swetnick stated. “I likewise observed him be verbally abusive towards girls by making crude sexual comments to them that were designed to demean, humiliate and embarrass them.”

To sum up, here’s what Swetnick is (and is not) specifically alleging:

  • She says she witnessed Kavanaugh sexually assault other girls at parties by groping them without consent.
  • She says both Kavanaugh and Judge facilitated “gang rapes” by “spiking” punch to lower girls’ inhibition and by being present for the rapes.
  • Swetnick does not allege witnessing another girl’s rape firsthand, and does not specifically allege being raped by either Kavanaugh or Judge.
  • She does allege that both Judge and Kavanaugh were “present” during her own rape, and that she was drugged at the time.
  • She does allege seeing both Kavanaugh and Judge waiting in line outside a room where it was understood by attendees that an incapacitated girl was being held so that boys could take “turns” raping her.

Judge’s former girlfriend, Elizabeth Rasor, told the New Yorker Judge had confessed to her that he and other boys had “taken turns having sex with a drunk woman.” He said this “ashamedly,” Rasor said, although he seemed to believe the encounters were consensual.

Swetnick’s declaration is worth reading in full. Her allegations about Kavanaugh’s hard drinking track with what others have said about Kavanaugh, including what some of Kavanaugh’s former classmates at Yale told the Washington Post.

“Brett was a sloppy drunk, and I know because I drank with him,” said Liz Swisher, who described herself as a friend of Kavanaugh in college. “There’s no medical way I can say that he was blacked out. … But it’s not credible for him to say that he has had no memory lapses in the nights that he drank to excess.”

The “choir boy” image Kavanaugh has been trying to cultivate for himself — a good guy who loves and respects women, a girls’ basketball coach, a guy who focused more on church and friends in high school than parties — is quickly falling apart under closer scrutiny.

And yet.

Even though Swetnick is the third named woman to come forward with serious allegations against Kavanaugh, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are preparing to move forward as planned with a hearing on Thursday.

And they’re moving forward with just two witnesses — Kavanaugh and Ford.

It’s clearer than ever that Senate Republicans want to “plow right through” this, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indelicately put it.

No matter how many women come forward, and no matter how many people corroborate their stories, Republicans seem determined to confirm an alleged sexual predator to the Supreme Court.

Published with permission of The American Independent. 

 

Poll: Women Register Overwhelming Disapproval Of Trump

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.

Trump is the least popular president in polling history; for most of his tenure, more than 50 percent of Americans have said they disapprove of the job he’s doing.

But it turns out Trump is especially unpopular among American women. According to a recent NPR/Marist poll, women disapprove of the job Trump is doing by a whopping 62 percent to 28 percent.

It’s not hard to see why.

Just for starters, Trump came into office haunted by more than a dozen credible allegations of sexual assault or harassment. So far, 19 women have come forward.

Trump was even caught on tape admitting to — and bragging about — committing routine acts of sexual assault against women.

If the Me Too movement had gotten off the ground before these revelations had come out, maybe the election would have gone differently. Then again, perhaps the outrage and injustice over an admitted serial predator being elected president is what helped Me Too get off the ground in the first place.

Either way, women were pissed about it — and they clearly haven’t forgotten.

Still, Trump being a predator also wasn’t enough for many women to withdraw their support. After all, a majority of white women voted for Trump, just as they have for almost every Republican nominee since the 1950s.

But that’s been changing, especially among white women who live in the suburbs.

Trump’s cruel policy of family separations — which included literally ripping infants from their mother’s breast and throwing toddlers in cages — sent his approval plummeting. (Approval ratings really shouldn’t be the most important factor when a U.S. president commits likely crimes against humanity, but that’s apparently where we are in the Trump era.)

The cruelty and callousness of Trump’s “zero tolerance” at the border was so brazen, so anti-family, and so inhumane, it became too much even for many women who had steadfastly supported Trump.

Meanwhile, Trump has also gone out of his way to support other accused sexual predators, like Roy Moore in Alabama.

And it’s been revealed that Trump paid hush money to two different women he had extra-marital affairs with. Trump isn’t even denying that he did this. The absolute best-case scenario for Trump is that those payments didn’t constitute a felony conspiracy to commit campaign finance violations with his former fixer, Michael Cohen, and that they “merely” showed him to be a liar and a philanderer.

And then there’s Brett Kavanaugh — an extremist Supreme Court nominee by any measure, whom Trump is still standing by even though Kavanaugh has been publicly accused of a violent attempted rape.

“If Republicans set out to smear a sexual assault survivor to steamroll Kavanaugh through, it will only further repel suburban women voters, who are already powering the November wave,” Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, a group that ­opposes the Kavanaugh nomination, told the Washington Post.

Republicans are also worried about how supporting Kavanaugh will look for Trump and the GOP.

Republican lobbyist and strategist Rick Hohlt told the Post, “With more women running for public office than ever before and the majority of them being Democrats, we could have a 1992 situation” — as in, another “Year of the Woman” where an unprecedented number of women get elected to office amid a backlash against sexism.

And if 2018 is indeed another Year of the Woman, Trump will only have himself to blame — not to mention the many Republicans who both enabled and perpetuated his misogyny.

Published with permission of The American Independent.