Trump rebuffs Kavanaugh impeachment calls after new sexual misconduct report

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump rejected Democrats’ calls for impeaching Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on Sunday after a new report that alleged sexual misconduct, encouraging Kavanaugh to sue for libel and suggesting the Justice Department could “rescue” him.At least three Democratic presidential candidates called for Kavanaugh’s impeachment after the New York Times report.The Times essay, drawn from an upcoming book written by the newspaper’s reporters, discussed a previously unreported account of Kavanaugh’s behavior as a freshman at Yale University that echoed allegations against him by former classmate Deborah Ramirez.The new account from former classmate Max Stier describes Kavanaugh pushing his private parts into the hand of a female student at a party, according to the Times piece. The report said the classmate notified U.S. senators and the FBI about the incident, but the FBI did not investigate. The FBI did not respond to a request for comment on the report.“Brett Kavanaugh should start suing people for libel, or the Justice Department should come to his rescue,” Trump wrote on Twitter.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.It was unclear what action the Republican president was advocating the Justice Department take.Kavanaugh did not comment to the Times on Stier’s allegation. The Supreme Court press officers did not immediately return a request for comment.Kavanaugh, a conservative appointed by Trump, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in October after he denied accusations of sexual assault from three women. After acrimonious hearings, the Senate confirmed his appointment to the high court by 50-48 vote, one of the tightest margins ever for a justice.Trump did not mention the Times article but blamed “radical left Democrats” and the “LameStream Media” for going after Kavanaugh. In a series of Twitter posts, he accused Democrats of threatening impeachment to influence Kavanaugh’s opinions on court cases.“They want to scare him into turning Liberal!” he wrote.Three Democrats running to replace Trump in 2020 called for Kavanaugh’s impeachment on Sunday.“I sat through those hearings. Brett Kavanaugh lied to the U.S. Senate and most importantly to the American people,” Senator Kamala Harris wrote on Twitter. “He must be impeached.”“Confirmation is not exoneration, and these newest revelations are disturbing. Like the man who appointed him, Kavanaugh should be impeached,” Senator Elizabeth Warren said in another Twitter post.Julian Castro, housing secretary under President Barack Obama, said the new allegation should be investigated.“What’s become clear is that he should be impeached,” Castro told MSNBC. “Based on this new information, that’s certainly what it appears like – that he lied under oath.” (Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Lisa Shumaker) read more

Respect for fundamental rights and freedoms key for peaceful polls in DRC

Leila Zerrougui, head of the UN Stabilization Mission in the country, known by its French acronym, MONUSCO, briefed ambassadors on the latest developments related to the December vote, which will mark the first peaceful transfer of power in the country.However, key concerns persist, including disputes over the eligibility of candidates, the use of voting machines, women’s participation, targeting of political activists and human rights defenders, insecurity, and what Ms. Zerrougui called “the perceived credibility” of the electoral process.“It is also imperative that respect for fundamental rights and freedoms is assured throughout the territory of the DRC in a consistent manner, so that all Congolese citizens can participate freely and fairly in all stages of the electoral process moving forward,” she said, speaking via videoconference from the capital, Kinshasa.“A failure to allow for political engagement and participation as foreseen by the Congolese constitution, could jeopardize the peaceful nature and the credibility of the polls.”MONUSCO is providing technical support for the elections, which are set to take place on 23 December.  While the DRC authorities have not requested external logistical or financial support, Ms. Zerrougui underscored her mission’s readiness to assist.The DRC ranks among the world’s largest countries, and nearly 20,000 people have registered as candidates in the provincial elections, while more than 15,220 will take part in the legislative race.Ms. Zerrougui reported that incumbent Joseph Kabila will not be in the running, having “respected his commitment not to be a candidate”. Though first elected in 2006, President Kabila has been in power since 2001, following the assassination of his father, Laurent-Desire Kabila. Nineteen men will vie for the presidency as the sole woman candidate, Marie-Josée Ifoku, was deemed unsuitable to stand. Three former presidents, as well as former vice-president and ex-rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, were also among the six persons excluded from taking part in the race.Overall, women account for roughly 12 per cent of those seeking office in the DRC, a source of concern for Solange Lwashiga Furaha, spokesperson for the local civil society group Rien Sans les Femmes (Nothing Without Women), which has been advocating for gender equality at all levels of decision-making.“The fact that there is less than 15 per cent of women is a significant issue,” she said, speaking alongside the UN mission chief.“Most of society in DRC are still reticent about women being able to vote. There is lack of resources within the electoral campaigns, there is lack of resources to encourage voters to go out and vote for women, and there are also problems surrounding the voting machines.”The Security Council also heard from Monseigneur Marcel Utembi, president of the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO), who praised the “peaceful climate” in which the registration of candidates took place.CENCO facilitated a December 2016 agreement that allowed President Kabila to stay in power beyond the end of his second term, which would have expired at the end of that year. Speaking from Kisangani,  Monseigneur Utembi listed recommendations for the  authorities, including taking measures to reduce tensions in the wake of the vote.“The credibility of elections depends to a great extent on the observation of these elections by national and international groups who have an interest in doing so,” he said. “CENCO wishes to contribute to observation of the next elections, and we plan to use more than 1,000 observers over the long-term, and more than 40,000 over the short-term.  It is counting on the support of the Independent Electoral Commission to accredit all of these observers, who will be well-trained, and to also give them the opportunity to also carry out this important work, which will undoubtedly contribute to reducing tensions in the post-electoral climate.” read more