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Senior U.S. Democrat focused on Trump impeachment, not Kavanaugh

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Senior U.S. Democrat focused on Trump impeachment, not Kavanaugh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chairman of the U.S. congressional committee responsible for launching any impeachment efforts said on Monday he is focused on investigating President Donald Trump, signaling that calls by some fellow Democrats for impeaching Trump’s Supreme Court appointee Brett Kavanaugh would have to take a back seat.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) leads Democratic members of the committee in a statement to reporters following the committee’s vote to adopt a resolution allowing it to designate hearings as impeachment proceedings against President Trump, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. September 12, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Several Democratic presidential candidates and lawmakers have called for impeaching Kavanaugh following a New York Times article published over the weekend detailing what was described as a previously unreported incident of sexual misconduct by the conservative justice when he was a college student in the 1980s.

House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, speaking in a radio interview, faulted the FBI’s probe into sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh ahead of the justice’s narrow October 2018 confirmation in the Senate, saying it “apparently was a sham.”

But Nadler said his committee is currently focused on investigating Trump as it explores possible impeachment.

“Personally, I think the president ought to be impeached,” Nadler told WNYC radio.

“We have our hands full with impeaching the president right now and it’s going to take up our limited resources and time for a while,” Nadler added.

He said FBI Director Christopher Wray would face questions about the agency’s probe into Kavanaugh when Wray appears before the committee next month. Trump’s appointment of Kavanaugh cemented the Supreme Court’s 5-4 conservative majority.

“We’re certainly going to ask about this, and we’ll see where it goes from there,” Nadler said.

No Supreme Court justice has ever been ousted from office through the impeachment process set out under the U.S. Constitution in which the House initiates proceedings and the Senate then holds a trial on whether to remove an individual from office. The only justice ever impeached in the House was spared in the Senate in 1804.

While Democrats control the House, Trump’s fellow Republicans control the Senate, making it highly unlikely Kavanaugh would ever be removed.

Nadler said his panel’s jurisdiction over Kavanaugh could center around whether the jurist lied to the Senate during his contentious confirmation hearings last year.

The FBI investigated allegations against Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct dating to the 1980s in a background check and sent a report to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation process. Kavanaugh denied those accusations. Kavanaugh on Monday declined to comment on the latest allegation.

‘ASSAULTED BY LIES’

Trump and other Republicans rejected the calls for Kavanaugh’s impeachment. Trump encouraged Kavanaugh to sue for libel. Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, vowed Kavanaugh would not be impeached.

“The one who is actually being assaulted is Justice Kavanaugh – Assaulted by lies and Fake News!” Trump wrote on Twitter on Monday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, called the Times story “unsubstantiated” and said the Democratic presidential candidates were “hysterically” calling for impeachment.

The Times reported that a Yale classmate, Max Stier, saw Kavanaugh “with his pants down” at a drunken dormitory party “where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.” The Times said the female student declined to be interviewed and that her friends said she does not recall the incident.

The claim was similar to a previous allegation by Kavanaugh’s former Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez that Kavanaugh exposed his penis to her during a drunken party. Another woman, Christine Blasey Ford, in Senate testimony accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault in 1982 when they were high school students.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a prominent House member on the left, joined in the impeachment demands.

“It is unsurprising that Kavanaugh, credibly accused of sexual assault, would lie under oath to secure a Supreme Court seat. Because sexual assault isn’t a crime of passion – it’s about the abuse of power,” she wrote on Twitter.

A second impeachment inquiry could further expose divisions within the Democratic Party. Some moderate Democrats already have told party leaders they fear that a focus on impeaching Trump instead of on issues important to voters such as healthcare could hurt Democratic election prospects in November 2020.

Democrat Chris Coons, a Senate Judiciary Committee member, said he sent a letter to the FBI’s Wray expressing concern that the agency’s Kavanaugh investigation was “very narrow and very limited in its analysis.” Coons told Fox News his letter asked “for more clarity about why they didn’t interview more people.”

Democratic presidential candidates calling for Kavanaugh’s impeachment included: former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro; U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker; South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg; and former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke.

Others, including front-runner Joe Biden, the former vice president, stopped short of advocating impeachment. Instead, they called either for an investigation into the new claim or a review of whether Trump’s administration blocked the FBI from following leads during its Kavanaugh background investigation.

Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan in Washington; Additional reporting by Lawrence Hurley and Joseph Ax; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Will Dunham

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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in ‘SMEAR story’

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Trump rips New York Times over Kavanaugh piece, calls for resignation of anyone involved in 'SMEAR story'

President Trump blasted The New York Times over its supposed bombshell report on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, calling on “everybody” involved in the “smear” to resign.

“I call for the Resignation of everybody at The New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh SMEAR story, and while you’re at it, the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, which is just as phony!” Trump tweeted Monday evening.

“They’ve taken the Old Grey Lady and broken her down, destroyed her virtue and ruined her reputation… She can never recover, and will never return to Greatness, under current Management. The Times is DEAD, long live The New York Times!”

NEW YORK TIMES CRITICIZED FROM BOTH SIDES OVER NOW-REVISED KAVANAUGH ALLEGATIONS

Late Sunday, The New York Times walked back an explosive report about a resurfaced allegation of sexual assault by Kavanaugh from his college days. The piece by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, adapted from their forthcoming book, alleged there was corroboration of an incident in which Kavanaugh, as a college student at Yale, exposed himself to a female classmate at a party.

However, The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway — who reviewed an advance copy of the book – flagged an omission and the paper eventually revised the controversial story after being lampooned on social media over the gaffe.

The update included the significant detail that several friends of the alleged victim said she did not recall the purported sexual assault. The newspaper also stated for the first time that the alleged victim refused to be interviewed, and has made no other comment about the episode.

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Trump was asked about whether anyone from The Times should be “fired” over the controversy. He called it a “fair” question but didn’t directly give an answer.

“I think The New York Times made another terrible mistake,” Trump said. “It’s a shame that a thing like that could happen… They used to have a thing called fact-checking. They don’t have fact-checking anymore.”

Fox News’ Brian Flood and Gregg Re contributed to this report.

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

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With New Mexico rally, Trump seeks to flip state won by Clinton in 2016

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will hold one of his signature rallies on Monday night in New Mexico, a longtime Democratic stronghold his campaign has added to the list of states it hopes to win in the November 2020 election.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

The last time New Mexico supported a Republican in a presidential race was 2004. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton beat Trump there by 8 percentage points three years ago.

Trump’s campaign sees an opening in the state with Latinos, who it believes will swing his way despite tough immigration policies, including a crackdown on migrants from Central America and a push to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Democrats have criticized those efforts. But a Trump campaign aide said the Republican president could win over Latinos who came to the United States legally and believe others should, too.

“Big crowd expected in New Mexico tonight, where we will WIN. Your Border Wall is getting stronger each and every day — see you in a few hours!” Trump tweeted ahead of his trip.

The campaign also views Trump’s support for the fossil fuel industry as a plus in the state, which is rich in oil and natural gas, said the campaign aide, who declined to be named. Trump is likely to discuss energy on Monday night.

Trump won the White House in 2016 with electoral votes from traditional Republican-leaning states and some surprise Democratic-leaning ones.

The Trump campaign says it wants New Mexico’s five electoral votes to augment the 306 electoral votes the president received in his first election, not create a separate path for victory. A candidate must get 270 electoral votes nationally to win.

Democrats, who did well in New Mexico during the 2018 mid-term elections, are skeptical.

“Last cycle, Democrats crushed Republicans in New Mexico because voters are fed up with President Trump’s toxic healthcare agenda and broken promises,” said David Bergstein, a communications director for the Democratic National Committee focused on battleground states.

“We take nothing for granted, but this GOP strategy looks like they’re concerned about a realistic pathway to 270 electoral votes,” he added.

Trump won electoral-vote-rich swing states such as Ohio and Florida in 2016, while also picking up Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania from Democrats.

The campaign says it is eyeing more pickups in 2020, including Colorado, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Nevada.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Tom Brown

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California adds Iowa to ‘travel ban’ over refusal to fund gender transitions

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California adds Iowa to 'travel ban' over refusal to fund gender transitions

California announced Monday that it has added Iowa to the list of states on its ever-expanding “travel ban” list because of that state’s new prohibition against funding gender-transition surgeries under Medicaid.

The announcement by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra means that as of Oct. 4, California will no longer offer taxpayer-funded trips to Iowa for any public employee or student at a state-run university.

Becerra’s authority came from a 2016 California law signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown that bars state-funded travel to other states that undercut LGBT rights. The list already included Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi.

WATCH: LIBERAL POLICIES BLAMED FOR WORSENING CALIFORNIA’S HOMELESSNESS CRISIS

Conservatives have called the law ineffective, inconveniencing, possibly unconstitutional and hypocritical. The state’s sports teams have turned to private funding to get around the restrictions, according to The Los Angeles Times.

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

A homeless woman smokes as she waits for city crews to clean the area near Los Angeles City Hall Monday, July 1, 2019. California is overrun with homeless individuals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

“The Iowa Legislature has reversed course on what was settled law under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, repealing protections for those seeking gender-affirming health care,” Becerra said in a statement. “California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it.”

The brouhaha began after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in March that taxpayers could be forced to pay for gender reassignment surgery. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law effectively overriding that ruling two months later.

At the federal level, the Trump administration has disputed the idea that sex-based discrimination prohibitions under law include protections for gender identity. The Health and Human Services Department, in May, angered progressive advocates with rules that both allowed doctors not to perform certain operations and stated that “gender identity” was not protected under sex discrimination law in health care.

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Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed to this report.

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