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FLAKE: PUT BRAKES ON KAV. VOTE

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The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman is working to keep the Supreme Court nominee’s confirmation on track after Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Sunday he was working on setting up bipartisan calls to keep Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation on track.

Grassley’s office said it was working to hold calls alongside Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, to speak with Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman alleging the judge sexually assaulted her more than 30 years ago.

“The Chairman and Ranking Member routinely hold bipartisan staff calls with nominees when updates are made to nominees’ background files,” Grassley’s office said in a statement. “Given the late addendum to the background file and revelations of Dr. Ford’s identity, Chairman Grassley is actively working to set up such follow-up calls with Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford ahead of Thursday’s scheduled vote.” 

Ford revealed her identity on Sunday in The Washington Post after information leaked that Feinstein was in possession of a letter accusing Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting a woman in his high school years. Ford alleges that Kavanaugh was “stumbling drunk” at a party in the 1980s where he pinned her to a bed, groped her, grinded his body against hers and attempted to pull off her clothing. 

Kavanaugh has denied the allegations. 

Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee initially released a statement Sunday calling Ford’s motive into question and seemed ready to continue with Kavanaugh’s confirmation as scheduled.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) told Politico Sunday that he was “not comfortable” with moving forward without speaking to Ford.

“We need to hear from her. And I don’t think I’m alone in this,” Flake told Politico.

Brett Kavanaugh Accuser Goes Public: ‘I Thought He Might Inadvertently Kill Me’

Christine Blasey Ford wrote a confidential letter alleging the Supreme Court nominee sexually assaulted her decades ago.

The woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault in a confidential letter to members of Congress has come forward to tell her story.

Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University in California, told The Washington Post that she had feared Kavanaugh “might inadvertently kill” her as he held her down and groped her while they were both high school students around 1982.

Ford alleges another teenager watched as a drunken Kavanaugh attempted to remove her clothing at a gathering outside Washington in suburban Maryland. She tried to scream, but Kavanaugh covered her mouth to silence her, she told the Post. She said she escaped after Kavanaugh’s friend entered the room and jumped on top of both of them.

“I think it derailed me substantially for four or five years,” Ford told the Post of the alleged assault. She described the incident as a “rape attempt” during a therapy session in 2012, according to her therapist’s notes obtained by the Post.

Kavanaugh, 53, has denied any wrongdoing.

“I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation,” Kavanaugh said in a statement last week when news of the letter first surfaced. “I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

Ford had been requesting anonymity, but she decided to identify herself in the Post article published early Sunday afternoon.

Ford sent the letter to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) during the summer, after Kavanaugh was nominated for the high court vacancy by President Donald Trump, to share her concerns about him.

After weeks of media speculation, Feinstein, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will decide whether to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate, confirmed the existence of the letter on Thursday. She also said she referred the matter to the FBI.

Ford told the Post she hadn’t wanted to identify herself publicly, but after details of her letter began to leak, she decided she wanted to be the one to tell her story.

The Judiciary Committee vote on Kavanaugh is scheduled for Thursday, but Feinstein said the panel should wait to vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation until the FBI has conducted its review into the matter.

“I support Mrs. Ford’s decision to share her story, and now that she has, it is in the hands of the FBI to conduct an investigation,” Feinstein said in a statement Sunday. “This should happen before the Senate moves forward on this nominee.” 

Taylor Foy, a spokeswoman for Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), on Sunday termed “disturbing” the timing of “uncorroborated allegations from more than 35 years ago, during high school.”

Foy said that if Feinstein and other committee Democrats “took this claim seriously, they should have brought it to the full committee’s attention much earlier.” She also called on Feinstein to release the letter she received from Ford in July “so that everyone can know what she’s known for weeks.”

Several other Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), on Sunday echoed Feinstein’s call for a delayed vote on Kavanaugh.

Grassley “must postpone the vote until, at a very minimum, these serious and credible allegations are thoroughly investigated,” Schumer said in a statement.

The White House reiterated its support for Kavanaugh, a federal appellate court judge, in the wake of the latest development.

“We are standing with Judge Kavanaugh’s denial,” White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in a statement to Fox News on Sunday.

GOP Donor Les Wexner Announces Departure From Republican Party After Obama Visit

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The L Brands CEO had previously condemned Donald Trump’s response to Charlottesville in a speech to employees.

Ohio billionaire and longtime Republican donor Les Wexner says he is officially done with the party, and was prompted to leave after former President Barack Obama visited the state.

Wexner, the CEO of retail conglomerate L Brands, which owns Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, announced at a leadership summit in Columbus on Thursday that he “won’t support this nonsense in the Republican Party” anymore, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

The announcement, made at a panel discussion, came the same day Obama visited Columbus before heading to a rally in Cleveland to support Democrat Richard Cordray’s run for governor. 

“I was struck by the genuineness of the man; his candor, humility and empathy for others,” Wexner said of Obama.

Wexner said he’s been telling lawmakers that he is now an independent.

“I just decided I’m no longer a Republican,” he said.

Last year, following a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Wexner condemned the racists in a speech to his employees. He said Trump’s tepid response to the violence ― in which a white supremacist killed counterprotester Heather Heyer ― made him feel “dirty” and “ashamed,” the Dispatch reported.

In a speech in Illinois earlier this month, Obama also called out Trump’s lukewarm response to the violence, in which the current president said there were “very fine people” on both sides.

“How hard is it to say Nazis are bad?” Obama said.

Wexner has long donated to Republican causes, including cutting a check to Jeb Bush for $500,000 in 2015 during Bush’s presidential run. The billionaire philanthropist has also donated $2.8 million to With Honor, a super PAC that endorses both Republican and Democratic candidates. 

During the panel discussion Thursday, former Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman praised Wexner for standing up to his former party, the Dispatch reported. 

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