Home Tags Posts tagged with "senate hearing"

senate hearing


Image source Wikimedia

Prof. Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of assault, has said the incident “drastically altered” her life.

It is part of the written testimony Christine Blasey Ford has released before she appears at a crucial Senate panel hearing on September 27.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who will also testify, has strenuously denied the accusation.

However, fresh allegations, which Brett Kavanaugh also denies, have appeared as the hearing looms.

His confirmation to the highest US court has been delayed in the wake of the allegations against him.

The nine-member Supreme Court is the final word on US law, including highly contentious social issues and challenges to government policy.

President Donald Trump Appoints Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court

President Trump Starts Supreme Court Search to Replace Retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy

In a written testimony provided ahead of September 27 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Christine Blasey Ford says: “It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell the truth.”

Christine Blasey Ford alleges Brett Kavanaugh tried to drunkenly remove her clothing, pinned her to a bed and groped her at a party when she was 15 and he was 17.

“Brett’s assault on me drastically altered my life. For a very long time, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone the details,” she wrote in her prepared statement.

“I tried to convince myself that because Brett did not rape me, I should be able to move on and just pretend that it had never happened.”

Christine Blasey says Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge locked her in a bedroom during a small gathering at a house in Washington DC suburbs in the summer of 1982.

“Both Brett and Mark were drunkenly laughing during the attack,” she said.

Mark Judge has disputed the allegations, saying he does not recall the incident.

“I believed [Brett Kavanaugh] was going to rape me,” Christine Blasey said. The fact that he covered her mouth she says “terrified” her the most, and has had “the most lasting impact”.

“It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me.”

When Mark Judge jumped on the bed, she says “we toppled over and Brett was no longer on top of me.” She was then able to run from the room.

Brett Kavanaugh is also facing other accusations of assault from three women.

However, he denies Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation “immediately, unequivocally, and categorically”.

The judge also released prepared written testimony ahead of the hearing.

Brett Kavanaugh says: “Over the past few days, other false and uncorroborated accusations have been aired. There has been a frenzy to come up with something – anything, no matter how far-fetched or odious – that will block a vote on my nomination. These are last-minute smears, pure and simple.”

The written testimony suggests Brett Kavanaugh will not try to portray himself as a saint.

He will say: “I was not perfect in those days, just as I am not perfect today. I drank beer with my friends, usually on weekends. Sometimes I had too many.”

He will also say that what he has been accused of is “far more serious than juvenile misbehavior”.

The hearing is scheduled to get under way at 10:00 local time and could last five hours.

There will be opening statements from the leading Republican and Democrat members.

Christine Blasey Ford will deliver her opening statement first.

The 21 senators on the committee will then have five minutes each to pose questions, but while the 10 Democrats are expected to ask questions themselves, it is believed a special counsel will act on behalf of the Republicans.

Christine Blasey Ford will then leave the room and Brett Kavanaugh will enter. She had earlier asked not to be in the same room as the judge.

Brett Kavanaugh will deliver his statement and the same round of questioning will follow.

President Donald Trump has portrayed the events in political terms, accusing the Democrats of trying to block the nomination.

Democrats have boycotted a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee in which Steven Mnuchin, Donald Trump’s nominee for Treasury secretary, and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), President Trump’s nominee for health and human services secretary, would have likely been approved for consideration by the full Senate.

They said they wanted more information about the financial activities of health nominee Tom Price and treasury pick Steven Mnuchin.

A vote on attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions was also postponed.

On January 30, the acting attorney general was sacked for questioning the legality of Donald Trump’s immigration order.

It imposes a temporary travel ban on seven mainly-Muslim countries.

Acting Attorney General Sally Yates had been appointed by President Barack Obama.

Finance Committee Democrats told reporters outside the hearing that they were seeking more information about Tom Price’s trading in health company stock.

The Georgia Congressman has been nominated for the post of health and human services secretary in the new administration.

The senators said they were also concerned by reports of financier Steven Mnuchin’s behavior involving foreclosures at his former bank OneWest.

However, Senator Orrin Hatch, the Republican committee chair, described the Democrats’ behavior as “posturing and acting like idiots”, AP reported.

A battle also raged in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Jeff Sessions came under heavy criticism.

An early Donald Trump backer, Senator Jeff Sessions has faced racism allegations which overshadowed his confirmation hearings.

Committee chairman Senator Chuck Grassley began January 31 meeting by saying that neither Jeff Sessions nor any of his current staff, “had a role in formulating or drafting the executive orders” – including the controversial travel ban.

Several Democratic Senators spoke in the committee meeting to say that they intended to vote against the 69-year-old Alabama senator.

Senator Diane Feinstein criticized his role in Donald Trump’s election campaign and his closeness to the new president during it.

“It is very difficult to reconcile for me the independence and objectivity necessary for the position of attorney general with the partisanship this nominee has demonstrated,” she said.

The Democrats’ lengthy speeches extended the hearing into the afternoon, eventually forcing Sen. Chuck Grassley to postpone the vote until February 1.

If Jeff Sessions’ nomination is approved by the judiciary committee, the full Senate – where Republicans hold a 52-48 majority – is expected to vote on it by the end of the week.

The Alabama senator faced two days of tough questioning during his confirmation hearings this month.

One of the most conservative members of the Senate, Jeff Sessions was denied a federal judgeship in 1986 after the judiciary committee heard testimony about his remarks on race.

Bitcoin’s value has soared to over $900, after a US Senate committee hearing.

The committee was told that virtual currencies were a “legitimate financial service” with the same benefits and risks as other online payment systems.

The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is exploring the “promises and risks” of Bitcoin for “government and society at large”.

The virtual currency has more than trebled in value since October.

The Senate hearing was prompted by the closure of the Silk Road website in October. The site, which sold drugs and other illegal goods, was shut down by the FBI.

Users of the site were required to pay for their transactions using bitcoins.

Representatives from the Department of Justice and financial regulator the Securities and Exchange Commission have been asked to provide their views about virtual currencies to the committee and submissions have been received from the FBI and the US Federal Reserve.

“Virtual currencies, perhaps most notably Bitcoin, have captured the imagination of some, struck fear among others, and confused the heck out of the rest of us,” the chair of the committee, Senator Thomas Carper, said in opening remarks.

Bitcoin has more than trebled in value since October 2013

Bitcoin has more than trebled in value since October 2013

The FBI, in a letter to the committee released on Sunday, said that it recognized virtual currencies offered “legitimate financial services” but they could be “exploited by malicious actors”.

Jerry Brito, senior research fellow at George Mason University told Bloomberg: ”Two years ago it was alarm when Silk Road first came on the scene.

”Since then, Congress has been educating itself and understands that there are great potential benefits, and like any new technology there are going to be some challenges. But they see there is a balance to be struck here and they are generally positive on the technology.”

Trade in Bitcoin is small compared with that in countries’ official currencies. But since its creation in 2008, Bitcoin has become a popular way to pay for things online. There are currently more than 12 million bitcoins in existence according to Bitcoincharts, a website that provides financial information about the currency.

On one exchange site, Mt. Gox, the value of the currency rose to $900 on Monday before falling back to $727. This compares with a price of $200 in late October.

The closing down of Silk Road and hearings in front of US government committees have led some to believe that prices are increasing as investors think Bitcoin will gain more mainstream acceptance.

“Lots of factors are driving the price action in Bitcoin, including pure speculation,” said Garrick Hileman, an economic historian at the London School of Economics.

“Regulatory interest in Bitcoin also traditionally has a positive effect on the price of Bitcoin,” he added.

Jan Lambregts, head of financial market research at Rabobank, which does not trade in Bitcoin, said regulators were right to get involved.

“Looking at it from a distance, it very much looks like it could be a speculative bubble. It’s a small market, with a lot of interest in it, which is inflating and distorting the price,” he said.

“But you can see the concerns for governments – this is a currency outside their normal domain and which is not influenced by central banks.

“It may all be relatively small-scale now, but decisions taken now could have wider repercussions were such virtual currency experiments to be expanded in the future,” he added.

[youtube jKfBsxEY5hg 650]

Hillary Clinton faced her toughest critic in Wednesday’s Senate hearing over Benghazi attack when Senator Rand Paul criticized her role in the investigation as a “failure of leadership”.

“I think that ultimately with your leaving, you accept the culpability for the worst tragedy since 9/11, and I really mean that,” Rand Paul said at the hearing.

“Had I been president at the time and I found that you did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did not read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post.

“It’s not satisfactory to me.”

In a response that some critics saw as a way to deflect blame onto her inferiors, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “I am the Secretary of State. And the Accountability Review Board made very clear that the level of responsibility for the failures that they outlined was set at the Assistant Secretary level and below.”
Hillary Clinton faced back-to-back hearings on Wednesday, the first in the Senate and an afternoon session in the House which remains underway.

The first hearing was rife with emotional moments, whether it be her sparring matches with Republicans or the moment where she got choked up while talking about the four Americans who lost their lives in the September 11 attack.

Hillary Clinton said the incident is not just about “policy, it’s personal”.

“I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the sons and daughters and the wives left alone to raise their children,” she said, her voice shaking.

“I stood next to President Obama as the Marines carried those flag-draped caskets off the plane at Andrews.”

Hillary Clinton appeared more composed during the hearing in the House of Representatives, which is underway now.

“As I have said many times since September 11, I take responsibility,” Hillary Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger and more secure.”

Hillary Clinton insisted on Wednesday that the department is moving swiftly and aggressively to strengthen security at U.S. missions worldwide after the deadly September 11 raid on the consulate in Libya.

In probably her last appearance on Capitol Hill as America’s top diplomat, Hillary Clinton once again took full responsibility for the department’s missteps leading up to assault at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

Hillary Clinton alternated between being feisty and emotional in her responses.

Though each of the members of the Senate committee were congratulatory at the beginning of their remarks regarding her wide-reaching travels during her time as Secretary of State, three Republicans were her toughest critics.

The first was Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, a Tea Party favorite, who took issue with the fact that Hillary Clinton and her team did not immediately interview the other evacuees who were able to leave Libya safely.

“We had four dead Americans! Whether it was attack preplanned by terrorists or it because of a guy out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill Americans- what difference at this point does it make?!” Hillary Clinton responded.

Hillary Clinton chokes up, bangs fist on table during Benghazi testimony

Hillary Clinton chokes up, bangs fist on table during Benghazi testimony

After the heated exchange, Congressman Ron Johnson said that her emotional answer was just a way to avoid answering the question.

“It was theatrics. Again, she didn’t want to answer questions so she makes a big show of it,’ he told reporters afterwards.

“I’m not trying to be obnoxious here, I’m just trying to get the answers I believe the American people deserve to hear. It’s been four months.”

The next confrontation came from Senator John McCain. The senator and Hillary Clinton has worked together for years and have a generally friendly relationship, which was initially clear.

“It’s wonderful to see you in good health and as combative as ever,” John McCain said.

From there, things took a less convivial tone as John McCain grilled her about the fact that UN Ambassador Susan Rice made several appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows following the attack on behalf of the administration, where she claimed the attack was started by a protest that got out of hand.

Susan Rice was a hot-topic throughout the nearly three-hour hearing, and Hillary Clinton stood by her fellow diplomat.

“People have accused Ambassador Rice and the administration of misleading Americans… nothing could be further from the truth,” Hillary Clinton said during her testimony.

Susan Rice and the rest of the administration were “speaking off of what had been determined as the most acceptable talking points”.

Hillary Clinton went on to say that it was in American’s nature to give answers before they are confirmed fact, and that may have caused problems in this case.

“We get out there, here’s what we think happened, it’s subject to change,” she said of the claims made by Susan Rice.

John McCain has been one of the biggest critics of President Barack Obama and Susan Rice, effectively blocking her nomination to replace Hillary Clinton by saying that their moves in the days following the attack were not sufficient.

“We did not conclude, finally, that there were no protests at all until days after the attack,” Hillary Clinton said, explaining the long timeline.

“Even today, the motivation, the actions before they got onto the compound, is still not nailed down.”

Still she maintains that the motivation should not be the main focus of the investigation and subsequent American actions regarding the issue.

Hillary Clinton said that the reason for the attacks is “less important today… than to find them and to bring them to justice”.

Arguably the most abrasive interrogation came from Senator Rand Paul, who said that she should have been fired after she admitted that she did not read every diplomatic cable that comes through the State Department.

Rand Paul is widely considered to be a likely future presidential nominee for the Republican Party, so it may not be the last time that he squares off with Hillary Clinton.

“As I have said many times since September 11, I take responsibility,” Hillary Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at various points.

“Nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger and more secure.”

Though Hillary Clinton received no such demotion, an official U.S. inquiry concluded that the State Department was completely unprepared to deal with the attack, citing “leadership and management” deficiencies, poor coordination and unclear lines of authority in Washington.

Four lower-level U.S. officials were placed on administrative leave following the release of the inquiry, which did not find Hillary Clinton personally at fault.

This was Hillary Clinton’s second-to-last appearance on Capitol Hill as the nation’s top diplomat, as she will return on Thursday to attend the hearing of Senator John Kerry, who is expected to replace her as the Secretary of State.

While tarnishing Hillary Clinton’s tenure at the State Department, the controversy over the Benghazi attack also cost Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, her chance to succeed Clinton as secretary of state.

Republicans in Congress harshly criticized Susan Rice for her comments days after the attack in which she said the incident appeared to be the result of a spontaneous demonstration rather than a planned assault.

Susan Rice, who has said her comments were based on talking points from the U.S. intelligence community, eventually withdrew her name from consideration for the top U.S. diplomatic job.

“We were misled that there were supposedly protests and then something sprang out of that, an assault sprang out of that,” Senator Ron Johnson said, referring to Susan Rice’s appearance on Sunday television talk shows.

Hillary Clinton said the department is implementing the 29 recommendations of an independent review board that harshly criticized the department as well as going above and beyond the proposals, with a special focus on high-threat posts.

“Make no mistake about it, we have got to have a better strategy,” she said.

She also defended the State Department’s immediate response to the attacks, saying it was “timely and exceptional” and “saved American lives”.

But she noted that the U.S. is facing “increasingly complex threats”.

“We should never forget that our security professionals get it right more than 99 per cent of the time,” she said.

Hillary Clinton added that there is a “sliding scale” of about 20 U.S. missions globally that are at risk.

[youtube TC0AKNQBV80]