US President Donald Trump ordered a new FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations against his Supreme Court pick Friday, as the Senate delayed a vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to make way for the probe.
After a dramatic day-long hearing at which a university professor accused Kavanaugh of pinning her down and assaulting her at a party in the 1980s, the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier Friday approved his nomination in a preliminary vote along party lines.
But committee chair Chuck Grassley then bowed to intense pressure from inside and outside Congress and announced he was asking Trump to order the new background review that “must be completed no later than one week from today.”
Trump, who repeatedly blasted Democratic opposition to Kavanaugh as a political “con-job,” agreed.
“I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file. As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week,” the president said in a statement.
Trump’s order and the decision to put off a final vote came after a key Republican senator, Jeff Flake, threatened to break ranks with his party because of the clouds hanging over Kavanaugh’s head.
At least three women have now accused the 53-year-old conservative judge of sexual misconduct while drunk, as a high school and later a university student.
Democrats have repeatedly demanded those charges be assessed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine if he is suitable for the lifetime high court appointment.
Flake’s stunning 11th-hour move played out on national television amid heated partisan debate and raucous protests in the halls of the Capitol, where one woman cornered the Arizona senator in an elevator demanding he oppose Kavanaugh, citing her own experience with sexual assault.
“This country’s being ripped apart,” said Flake. “And we have to ensure that we do due diligence here.”
His move earned the endorsement of another Republican seen as wavering on the nomination, Lisa Murkowski.
With the Republicans holding a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate, that placed pressure on Trump to order the FBI probe.
Republicans see Kavanaugh as pivotal to their gaining control of the nine-member Supreme Court bench.
Trump nominated him to replace Anthony Kennedy, who for years was a swing vote between four conservative and four liberal justices.
Some conservatives hope Kavanaugh’s appointment could lead to a reversal of the court’s protection for women’s abortion rights and for “affirmative action” programs supporting minorities in schools and jobs.
With the stakes so high, the Judiciary Committee’s preliminary vote took place amid extraordinary tension. Kavanaugh’s supporters and opponents squared off furiously in hearing rooms and protestors crowded the hallways of Congress chanting “November is coming!” — a reference to the upcoming midterm elections.
“Don’t look away from me! Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me, that you’ll let people like that go to the highest court in the land,” one weeping woman berated Flake as he made his way to the committee room.
The panel vote split along strict party lines with the 11 Republican members backing Kavanaugh and all 10 Democrats opposing him.
The vote came a day after 51-year-old university professor Christine Blasey Ford described over four hours how she says Kavanaugh assaulted her 36 years ago and how it traumatized her for decades after.
Blasey Ford said she was “100 percent” certain that a drunken Kavanaugh, along with his friend Mark Judge, were the ones that attacked her at a high school party in suburban Maryland in 1982.
After Blasey Ford’s testimony, Kavanaugh hit back furiously, categorically denying the assault took place and accusing Democrats of destroying his reputation for political reasons.
“This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election,” he said. “This is a circus.”
The new FBI probe will likely include interviewing accusers and witnesses that the committee had refused to hear. The other person named by Blasey Ford as having taken part in her attack, Kavanaugh’s school friend Judge, said Friday he was willing to be interviewed by the FBI.
Kavanaugh meanwhile issued a statement saying he had done “everything” requested of him and would “continue to cooperate.”
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
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Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
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Drastic life changes affecting mental health
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