Daily Recap — October 1

Whew lads, the Trump news cycle shows no mercy.

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PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT

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And this is a big ‘un.

Despite the cynical jeers of the ‘highly educated’ crowd who said he’d never pull it off, The Donald has come through on yet another huge promise to the American worker: a new, improved trade deal with our northern and southern neighbors.

Rightly hailed by PDT as ‘historic,’ the deal, known as the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which PDT had bashed long before deciding to run for president and especially after he decided to throw his hat in the ring. This is the trademark Trump issue, and one of the primary reasons he ever decided to run in the first place. We’ve been getting screwed, folks, and PDT has seen enough. And luckily for all of us, he decided to do something about it.

That brings us to now. Let’s examine some key takeaways from the landmark deal.

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It’s a huge political win for Trump:

 

Aside from immigration, trade is the signature issue for the Trump administration. 

On the campaign trail, he assured supporters that he would renegotiate trade deals to the benefit of U.S. workers and manufacturers, rather than just the profit margins of multinational corporations. While the message didn’t sit well with conservative free trade purists, the average American worker found it very appealing and PDT was able to ride it all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

It was this message of economic nationalism, in fact, that helped PDT to become the first GOP presidential candidate in more than a generation to win the states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, aka the once thought impenetrable ‘blue wall.’ While the Trump administration has had various successes with trade since assuming office, this new NAFTA deal is a #BigFat tangible thing that can be touted going into the midterms, which is important given the difficulties arising from Chinese tariffs in middle America.
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Simply put, Trump has portrayed himself as the trade president, and now he’s putting some real meat on those bones.
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Trudeau blinked:

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Canada had shown itself to be an unwilling partner in renegotiating the deal (who can blame them), so during the summer, PDT decided to leave them out of the loop completely, choosing instead to focus solely on getting Mexico on board. 

By the end of August, outgoing Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto reached an agreement with the U.S., which PDT touted by making a call to Nieto from the Oval Office in front of TV cameras in true Trumpian style. 

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All of this put Ottawa in a difficult position, given its need to stay in the trade deal. At the same time, PM Justin Trudeau didn’t want to be seen as caving to Trump’s pressure. But behind the scenes, the pressure was most definitely being applied. Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland spent most of September shuttling back and forth between Ottawa and Washington trying to reach a deal. 

And it was a deal they ultimately got.

But in the end, the lesson was learned, which was that it’s worth it to stick to our guns. They need us more than we need them, and it all it takes is a little spine and stubbornness to force the issue.

Trump won, Trudeau lost.

I suppose this was predictable.

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Better access to the Canadian dairy market:

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The deal will provide dairy farmers, especially those along the border like Wisconsin, more market access to the Canadian dairy industry.  

It provides an additional 3.59% share of the market up from the 3.25 secured in Obama’s  Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which the Trump administration was more than happy to point out in its announcement. But they weren’t the only giddy folks around, as American dairy farmers were sure to voice their pleasure.

“Any time we can improve our market access, and gain new market access with a new agreement, that’s what we need to be doing for our dairy industry,” said Michael Dykes, president and CEO of the International Dairy Foods Association, which represents milk, cheese and ice cream producers. 

“We’re pleased to see President Trump follow through on his commitments to dairy.”

The deal also eliminates a milk ingredient pricing policy that affected U.S. exports of so-called ultrafiltered milk, a moneymaker for farmers in Wisconsin and New York and a product that wasn’t subject to tariffs under the old agreement. 

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producer Federation, said the agreement “should give us additional marketing opportunities that will allow us to provide high-quality American dairy products to Canada,” calling it “incremental progress.”

Canada’s blocking of American dairy farmers from its market has been a common complaint for decades now, and finally something is being done about it. 

That’s very good news for our dairy farmers and very bad news for Dims who have been trying to get the rust belt back into their back pocket.

Good luck with that, partner.

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Steel and aluminum tariffs not going anywhere:

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Under the deal, Trump does not have to remove the 25% tariffs on steel and 10% tariffs on aluminum from Canada and Mexico.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the steel and aluminum tariffs and the new trade agreement are two separate issues and “we’re engaging in talks now in an effort to preserve the effect of our program and still take care of their needs. Hopefully we’ll be able to work that out.” 

The USMCA has a side agreement that outlines discussions about reaching a metals agreement. A deal could be done by the time the countries sign the pact at the end of November. 

Both Canada and Mexico have been pretty angry about being labeled national security threats by the Trump administration (for the purpose of levying tariffs, of course) but oh well. We’ve been playing one-sided hardball with these guys since NAFTA was implemented and now some bullets are finally flying in the other direction.

If they’ve got an issue, Trump has a tissue.

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Help for American auto workers:

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The USMCA aims to support American workers in myriad ways, but the auto industry may be the most significant.
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The deal requires that 40% to 45% of car and truck parts be made by workers earning at least $16 an hour. The goal is to level the playing field between American and Mexican auto workers and to incentivize manufacturers to build more in the U.S. One of the main criticisms of NAFTA is that it prompted American car makers to shift production south of the border, where workers earn much less than their US counterparts.
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The deal also mandates that 75% of a vehicle’s parts must be made in North America, up from the current 62.5% rule. The Trump administration argues that this will help incentivize billions in new auto sector production in the US.
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Also, Mexico has committed to recognize workers’ right to collectively bargain, and all three countries agreed to enforce rights recognized by the International Labor Organization. In other words, Mexico will be getting labor unions as well, meaning there will likely be less cheap Mexican labor to entice American factory owners to head down south.
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“Instead of jobs leaving for overseas, they will be returning back home,” PDT said triumphantly in a Rose Garden ceremony.
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It should be noted, however, that some trade experts are skeptical that the deal will boost auto sector employment. In fact, the new mandates may prompt American carmakers to shift production to Japan, Korea or other countries outside North America. They’ll have to pay a 2.5% tariff, but they may find it more economical than adhering to the USMCA rules. Companies will always look after their profit margins first, regardless of what any government says.
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One wildcard is whether the Trump administration will try to raise the aforementioned 2.5% tariff on importing cars and auto parts. The president is reportedly considering levying a 25% tariff on imported vehicles, citing national security.
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If that happens, it will incentivize domestic production to be sure, but you can also expect a price hike on vehicles across the board. The hope is that it doesn’t come to that. Thus far, PDT has earned the benefit of the doubt, so I’m giving it to him.
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Exchange rate curbs:

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Tucked in the agreement is a foreign-exchange provision to deter countries from manipulating their currencies.
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The language isn’t likely to impact all three NAFTA countries, which have a free-floating exchange rate. Instead, it’s intended as a signal to other countries outside of North America.(*cough* CHINA *cough*)
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Countries frequently commit to avoiding unfair currency manipulations, but the tougher language in the accord is designed to give the U.S. more leverage in trade negotiations with our ole buddy President Ping Pong.
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Sunset Clause:

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Renew it or lose it, fool.
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PDT had wanted to include in the new agreement a clause that would kill NAFTA after five years unless all three countries agreed to renew it.
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Instead, negotiators stitched into the updated treaty new terms of the deal, agreeing to keep the trade pact for 16 years, unless all three countries agreed to extend it.
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That means the deadline could be extended far out into the future, if all three countries agreed to either renew or renegotiate the trilateral trade pact. The U.S., Canada and Mexico will be required to meet every six years to decide whether to do so.
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The Trump administration had been seeking a shorter time frame of five years in an effort to keep the pact up to date. But Mexico and Canada were less in favor of that proposal arguing it would stunt investment in their countries if the future of the agreement was in question.
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So a compromise was had and voila!, a timeframe was nailed down.
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Modernizing for the digital age:

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The USMCA addresses issues that have emerged over the past 25 years.
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For example, it outlines criminal penalties for pirating movies online. It also prohibits duties on digital music, books, software and video games that are distributed electronically.
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There are also stronger intellectual property protections, including patents for biotech and financial services.
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Pirates haven’t had a day this bad since governors began hanging them on coasts as a warning.
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It still has to go through the Swamp:

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PDT said today he had no idea whether swampers on Capitol Hill would pass the agreement next year. 

If Dims win back the House majority, they are likely to want to put it up for a ‘thorough examination,’ which we all know means they’ll find anything that could make PDT look good and strike it down. They’ve shown a willingness to destroy the country so long as Trump goes down with it. Sad but true.

That being said, it will be interesting to watch it unfold should that be the case. Over the past two decades, Dims have been more reflexively anti-trade than Republicans in Congress, but that has been changing in the Trump era. PDT’s protectionist bent is far more leftwing than rightwing, hence the displeasure of the more traditional Republicans in the party with the Trump trade policy in general.

But Dims have been running on this sort of stuff for decades, though they’ve never really done anything about it. It will be hard sell to the working class in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, etc., who cited trade as a primary reason for leaving the Dim party in the first place.

If Republicans hold on to majorities in the House and Senate, passage of the USMCA still won’t be a slam dunk (again, free trade NeverTrumpers), but it’s still much likelier to get done than not.

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Big Picture:

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We’re in somewhat new territory as a country, as we haven’t had such a forceful advocate in the White House in modern history. And so far, it’s paying off.

With China already lowering import tariffs and now both Canada and Mexico coming into the fold, this long, arduous process of taking on our piggybank robbers is finally bearing fruit.

I’m not going to lie to you and say everything will be sunshine and rainbows, as many of the new provisions will undoubtedly raise prices for everyday products, at least in the short term. Auto parts is probably the most glaring example.

But as we’ve discussed before, this could be necessary short-term pain fo sustained long-term gain. The good news is our economy is booming with no end in sight, so much of that pain is offset.

Now that Mexico and Canada are in the books, PDT can put up more of a united front against China. And when he beats those guys, we’ll really be cookin’ with grease.

Go get ’em, PDT!

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KAVANAUGH UPDATE

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This could be a recap all by itself.

As everyone already painfully knows, Dims have succeeded in delaying the Kavanaugh confirmation by bullying Jeff Snowflake in an elevator, though with his history of virulent anti-Trumpism, it’s likely that he welcomed a reason to hold up the show.

The result was a request for a one-week supplementation to the 14,000 FBI background investigations Judge Kavanaugh has already undergone, apparently in the insane hopes that new evidence will somehow turn up. And given the Left’s penchant for “speaking up” at politically opportune times, I’ve no doubt that some “brave soul” will come forward with third-hand nonsense that can’t be proved or disproved either way.

But as agonizingly transparent as this sham has been, politics dictates that we go along with the dance. Let’s break down the latest dance moves.

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Investigation expanded:

 

The White House has reportedly permitted the FBI to interview “anyone deemed appropriate” in its investigation into sexual misconduct allegations.

The Failing New York Times reported today that the White House gave authorization to expand the investigation from an initial limited list of witnesses, provided that the review is completed by the end of the week.

The FBI has already spoken with the four individuals with whom it had been given permission to speak, presumably the same four witnesses who said they had no earthly clue what the hell Christine Ford was talking about. Predictably, that wasn’t enough for Dims, so after some kicking and stomping they’ve gotten their way once again.

“I think the FBI should do what they have to do to get to the answer,” PDT told reporters at his press conference announcing Cooter Trudeau had been taken to the cleaners.

“Now with that being said, I’d like it go quickly,” he continued. “And the reason I’d like it to go quickly — very simple, so simple — because it’s unfair to [Kavanaugh] at this point.”

That’s one way of putting it. Another way is to say this has been an anti-American witch hunt that should be faced down and ended immediately.

Yesterday, Dims criticized the White House for “micromanaging” the investigation amid reports that the administration provided the FBI a limited list of witnesses to interview. Their main beef was that the bureau had agreed to probe the claims of Ford and the even-less-believable Deborah Ramirez, but not Julie Swetnick, the Michael Avenatti client who told a tale of gang rape parties that only the severely brain-damaged could believe.

The White House disputed that it was involved in the review, instead arguing that Senate Republicans were dictating the terms of the investigation.

PDT suggested he was open to the FBI talking to whomever it wanted to interview — including Kavanaugh himself and all three women who have leveled accusations against him — but also suggested that his view of the investigation was colored by what the Senate GOP wanted.

“I’m guided by the Senate,” Trump said. “I want to make the Senate happy, because ultimately they’re making the judgment. I’m not making the judgment.”

PDT said he expected the bureau to speak with Ford — who testified last week that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her in the 1980s — and Ramirez, who claimed that Kavanaugh exposed his tallywacker during a college party in the 80s.

Kavanaugh has denied both allegations, obviously

PDT also said he would be OK with the FBI speaking with Swetnick, but suggested that she has “very little credibility.”

“If there is any credibility, interview the third one,” Trump said. “But I want it to be done quickly because it’s unfair to the family and to the judge.”

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Despite this transparent farce, from which PDT fully expects Kavanaugh to be exonerated, he says he’s open to having his mind changed by whatever the FBI dredges up. Then again, what else is he gonna say?

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New “evidence” emerges: 

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As was predictable and predicted, more leftwingers are coming out to create a pile-on.

A mutual friend of Judge Kavanaugh and Deborah Ramirez has asked the FBI to investigate text messages that Kavanaugh and his allies sent to friends before her story was made public. 

Kerry Berchem, who was at Yale when Kavanaugh is accused of exposing himself to Ramirez, emailed FBI agent J.C. McDonough asking the agency to review those messages as part of its reopened background investigation of Kavanaugh.

The failing NBC has reported that text messages between Berchem and Karen Yarasavage, a friend of Kavanaugh, suggest Kavanaugh was discussing Ramirez’s accusations with former classmates before the publication of the frivolous New Yorker piece about the allegations. Yarasavage reportedly said in one message that Kavanaugh tried getting her to publicly defend him.

Berchem told NBC News in a statement that she hasn’t drawn conclusions about the messages but believes “they merit investigation by the FBI and the Senate.”

“I understand that President Trump and the U.S. Senate have ordered an FBI investigation into certain allegations of sexual misconduct by the nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I have no direct or indirect knowledge about any of the allegations against him,” Berchem said.

“However, I am in receipt of text messages from a mutual friend of both Debbie and mine that raise questions related to the allegations. I have not drawn any conclusions as to what the texts may mean or may not mean but I do believe they merit investigation by the FBI and the Senate,” she added.

NBC reported that the memo Berchem sent to McDonough, the FBI agent, indicates that there are multiple friends of Kavanaugh who haven’t yet been but interviewed but who may have information about the alleged incident.

Berchem says that she re-sent her memo on Monday to McDonough because she hadn’t yet heard back from him.

So to recap, Bercham can’t even decide for herself whether these alleged texts are shady, but she thinks they warrant an FBI investigation nonetheless. The only information that has been proffered was that Kavanaugh was seeking friends to defend him publicly, which isn’t exactly a scandal. I’m sure if people were accusing me of being a rapist/pervert in college, I’d want friends to defend me as well. And guess what, many have. Lots in fact.

You’ll notice that all these new stories coming out follow a common theme: people reaching out to the FBI to no avail. That’s no accident. The anti-Kavanaugh operation is playing on the same sheet of music, and the current song is titled, “The FBI doesn’t care.” 

It’s all about the narrative. Whatever is on those texts surely doesn’t constitute actual evidence, but so long as they can create a pile-on while portraying the FBI as looking the other way, their mission is accomplished.

The good news is it’s getting to be really pathetic at this point and I think most people not wearing a vagina hat can see through it.

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Kavanaugh the bar fighter: 

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The Failing New York Times has come up with a brand new “bombshell.”

Judge Kavanaugh was reportedly questioned by police in 1985 after he was accused of throwing ice on someone during a college bar fight.

Yes, that’s what we’re down to now. Alleged ice-throwing incidents from 1985.

The failing NYT obtained a report from the New Haven Police Department today dating back to when Kavanaugh was an undergrad at Yale.

Kavanaugh, then 21 years old, was questioned along with four other guys after an early morning altercation at Demery’s bar. He was not arrested but was accused of throwing ice on someone for “some unknown reason,” according to the report.

Kavanaugh did not want “to say if he threw the ice or not” when speaking with officers, according to the report. A witness told police that Chris Dudley, one of Kavanaugh’s friends, also hit the man in the ear with a glass. Dudley denied the accusation.

Police noted that the victim, Dom Cozzolino, “was bleeding from the right ear”  and was treated at a local hospital. The report lists the altercation as “an assault” but does not indicate if there were ever any arrests or charges filed.

This joke of a story isn’t about what Kavanaugh actually did, which doesn’t appear to be much. It’s about the Dims’ new angle, which has to do with OMG HABITUAL DRINKING. 

If you’ll recall, BK testified under oath that he had never blacked out or passed out due to alcohol consumption. Dims have pounced all over that to portray him as lying about his drinking habits, which they argue demonstrates his general dishonesty as a person. If he’ll lie about that, they argue, he’d most definitely lie about his sordid past of tallywacker exposition. 

Chad Ludington, a man who attended Yale with Kavanaugh, told the failing NYT yesterday that Kavanaugh had mischaracterized his alcohol consumption during his testimony.

Ludington said he saw Kavanaugh “staggering from alcohol consumption” multiple times, describing him as a “belligerent and aggressive” drunk.

“It is truth that is at stake, and I believe that the ability to speak the truth, even when it does not reflect well upon oneself, is a paramount quality we seek in our nation’s most powerful judges,” Ludington said in a statement.

I can’t help but notice how many of these “witness” statements are overtly political. I also can’t help but notice that BK’s horrible behavior was only ever witnessed by people who oppose his nomination. I’m sure that’s all a coinky-dink, though. I’m sure a victim in a MAGA hat will emerge any day now.

The good news is the White House was ready for this particular attack, as they immediately released statements from Dan Murphy and Chris Dudley, Kavanaugh’s former roommate and classmate respectively, who said they never saw Kavanaugh black out from drinking.

Pro tip: stumbling from alcohol and blacking out violently from alcohol are two different things. If people are now getting in trouble for getting drunk in college, we’re going to have a serious shortage of public servants soon.

It’s all a farce.

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#SnappinTurtle says move it along:

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Turtle McConnell, tired of all the nonsense,  said the Senate will hold a vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination this week.

“The time for endless delay and obstruction has come to a close. Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination is out of committee. We’re considering it here on the floor and … we’ll be voting this week,” McConnell said.

There are rumors swirling about regarding when the probe will be wrapped up. Some reports have stated as early as Tuesday, others a bit later. GOP senators and aides have been careful not to pin down a specific timeline, but the deadline for completion is Friday in any event.

If Turtle waited until Friday to file cloture on Kavanaugh’s nomination that would set up an initial vote on ending debate as early as Sunday.

If he filed cloture before that, he could bring up the vote as soon as the Friday deadline passed or when the FBI wrapped up its investigation.

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Big Picture:

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It hasn’t changed much over the last several days.

Technically, we remain a few votes short of the requisite 50 for confirmation.

Republicans hold a narrow 51-49 majority meaning they can only lose one GOP senator before they need help from Democrats to confirm Kavanaugh. No Democrats have said, yet, that they will support him.

GOP abortion enthusiasts Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) remain undecided on Kavanaugh’s nomination pending investigation.

Jeff Snowflake is in the same boat, saying last week that he would support Kavanaugh so long as the one-week probe took place and no evidence of assault was found, which is idiotic since everyone knows the most they could possibly get is more witness statements which are likely to be unfalsifiable claims from partisans. 

Nevertheless, Flake said over the weekend that he expected to support Kavanaugh unless the FBI finds something.

One positive development is the report submitted by Rachel Mitchell, the sex crimes prosecutor hired by Senate Republicans to take on Ford’s case. It’s an absolutely devastating report that outlines the inconsistencies in Ford’s allegations as well as testimony. Dims are portraying it as a partisan document, which is to be expected, but it will serve as an outstanding resource for Turtle on the Senate floor to call out the RINOs before voting.

Simply put, if a Republican can vote against Kavanaugh despite the mountain of evidence undermining the claims against him, they’re going to have a tough time in the GOP moving forward.

There is also the matter of red state Dims like Joe Manchin and Claire McCaskill, who both stand to lose support in their home states should they follow Cryin’ Chuck’s orders.

We won’t really know anything until the latest investigative findings are released. Let’s just pray that the FBI handling this matter is different from the FBI we’ve come to know over these past two years.

It’s a horrible feeling not being able to trust your country’s most important institutions. God help PDT in fixing this mess.

And God be with the Kavanaugh family as they continue to suffer this gauntlet.

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