Politics roundup: Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearing gets more heated


Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces sexual assault allegations. What should Congress do? This and more in the latest politics roundup.

Kavanaugh faces assault allegations

After Christine Blasey Ford brought forth her accusation against Brett Kavanaugh, currently undergoing confirmation hearings to become the next Supreme Court Justice, it seemed like everything started to crumble at the edges. The now-professor alleges that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when both were teenagers.

Almost immediately, the already contentious hearings plunged into a far more intense debate. Should Kavanaugh be out of the running entirely? Should there be an investigation? If so, how should Congress handle it? Or, should Senators forge ahead with a confirmation vote anyway?

Ford and her legal team have requested that the FBI investigate the incident, which reportedly occurred 36 years ago. Republicans generally maintain that such a review is unnecessary, while Democrats have spoken up in its favor. The Senate Judiciary Committee, which is holding the hearings, has invited Ford to testify before Congress.

Ford’s lawyers have said that she is open to testifying, but will not be able to do so as early as Monday. They claim that she has been subject to repeated threats against herself and her family members. In the short time between Ford’s initial charge and now, she has also been subject to numerous and oftentimes false rumors.

Instead of speaking out in his normally combative fashion, the president has remained comparatively restrained. That’s not to say he hasn’t questioned the nature of the allegations, saying that it is “hard for me to imagine that anything happened.”

Kim Jong-un to visit South Korea again

According to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, he will visit South Korea “in the near future” on a repeat state visit to South Korea. Furthermore, he has agreed to continue disassembling missile complexes in the presences of outside inspectors.

Considering the state of the Korean Peninsula even a year ago, this is an astounding development. Previously, Kim and other North Korean officials were busy making threats against South Korea and the United States, even going so far as to threaten missile launches against their enemies.

Kim has since met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in three times. He was even spotted hugging Moon at the current North-South summit held in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital. Even if it was a carefully stage-managed political moment, the image of the two leaders and their wives greeting one another with smiles is still unexpected in light of the historic animosity between their countries. Additionally, Kim has spoken with U.S. officials on multiple occasions, including a summit with the U.S. President in June.

While there are still significant questions hanging in the air, especially concerning U.S. participation in a denuclearization program, Koreans and non-Koreans alike remain hopeful.

Carter Page becomes a divisive figure

To talk about Carter Page, first we must talk about warrants. Specifically, we have to talk about a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant issued as part of the ongoing Russia investigation. Even more specifically, we have to zero in on the FISA warrants recently urged declassified by the President in what appears to be a transparent political move.

The warrants in question concern one Carter Page, a former campaign adviser whom the FBI suspects acted as a foreign agent for Russia. Just a few weeks before the 2016 election, the FBI applied for a FISA warrant to monitor Page.

Now, Republicans like House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes are trying to take these 2016 actions and paint them as part of a larger conspiracy. The FBI and other intelligence agencies were unfairly targeting those related to the Republican presidential campaign, they say. Those agencies, some Republicans claim, were motivated by little more than a dossier of info with a shaky foundation and partisan jealousies. Democrats, meanwhile, say that a careful review of the documents justifies the FISA warrant.

This is all a surprising turnaround, given earlier Republican attitudes towards Page. He traveled to Russia in July of 2016, purportedly to deliver a speech. However, portions of the FISA warrant application released by the Justice Department this summer indicate that Page was there to establish and maintain “relationships with Russian government officials, including Russian intelligence officers.”

And, finally, your palate cleanser

Hey, what are your plans for the weekend? Some of you might have important things to do, like working or going to weddings or some such, but let’s be honest. Most of you are probably just going to slowly merge with the couch in front of an endless carousel of Netflix shows. Don’t tell me you’re going to be doing laundry at the same. I mean, you might be, and that’s certainly useful, but neither does it qualify as a grand time.

If you really don’t have anything pressing to do this weekend, then get to a museum. Seriously. For free! This Saturday is Museum Day, put on by Smithsonian Magazine. And, no, this isn’t some sort of sponsored tie-in. This is an honest-to-goodness free day for hundreds of museums, nationwide.

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There are some big museums on the list, but don’t forget about some of the little guys here, too. Check out some firefighting museums, for instance, or maybe Chicago’s Intuitive and Outsider Art Museum. So, secure some (again, free!) museum tickets and explore some of your local history, art, or otherwise. Get to know your community and enrich your weekend a bit. Netflix will still be there when you get back.