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US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell States Senate Has Enough Votes To Confirm Amy Coney Barrett As Supreme Court Justice

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(The Guardian) — The Republican Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said he has the votes to confirm the nomination of conservative Amy Coney Barrett as a supreme court justice as the upper chamber’s judiciary committee scheduled a vote for 22 October to advance the nomination towards a full Senate ballot shortly after.

Barrett’s progression towards taking up the seat vacated by the death of the liberal favorite Ruth Bader Ginsburg now appears virtually assured, but the unprecedented nomination of a new justice so close to a presidential election – and one who will shift the balance of the court rightward – has been contentious.

Barrett raised alarm among Democrats at her confirmation hearings this week for taking an agnostic view on the legality of voter intimidation and on the question of whether a president might unilaterally delay an election, neither of which in the view of experts is a close legal call.

Barrett likewise declined to say whether she would recuse herself from any case that might reach the supreme court that could help decide the November election – though Donald Trump has made clear that one reason he wants her on the court is to help him prevail in such a scenario.

Democrats on the judiciary committee, who are in the minority and who signaled on Thursday that they were out of tools and tactics to stop the Barrett nomination from advancing, additionally expressed concern that Barrett refused to say whether she accepted the science of climate change. She also appeared poised to help vacate the Affordable Care Act and left open the possibility that the watershed Roe v Wade ruling protecting reproductive rights might be overturned.

But with a 53-47 Republican majority in the Senate, McConnell expressed optimism that his caucus would be able to overcome Democratic objections and make Barrett Trump’s third supreme court justice to be installed in just four years. The last president to install justices so quickly was Ronald Reagan, who saw three justices confirmed during his second term in the late 1980s.

“We have the votes,” McConnell told reporters.

Two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have signaled that they would not back the Barrett nomination, out of concern that it fell too close to a presidential election.

But the rest of the Republicans have fallen in line, including those who objected to a Barack Obama nominee in March 2016 on the grounds that the nomination fell too close to an election being held eight months later.

“This goose appears to be cooked,” Senator Cory Booker, a Democratic member of the judiciary committee, said during deliberations on Thursday preceding witness testimony.

The increasing regularity with which supreme court confirmations were achieved under unusual circumstances pointed to the corrosive presence of outside influences that had hijacked the process for their own purposes, said committee member Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, a Democrat.

Whitehouse said the refusal by the same committee to consider the Obama nominee Merrick Garland in 2016, and the subsequent refusal by the committee to credit substantial sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s second nominee, pointed up the deterioration of the process.

He warned that a return to bipartisan comity on the question of future supreme court questions was difficult to envision.

“Republicans shouldn’t think that they will have any credibility if the shoe is on the other foot to come to Democrats and say, ‘Yeah, I know you can do that, but you shouldn’t’,” Whitehouse said.

“That credibility will die if they continue to proceed this way with this supreme court nomination.”

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Trump Adviser Rudy Giuliani Captured In Compromising Position With Woman He Was Told Was A Reporter In ‘Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’

The forthcoming “Borat” sequel reportedly features Rudy Giuliani engaging in provocative behavior with a woman he’d been told was a reporter.

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(The Hill) — The forthcoming “Borat” sequel reportedly features Rudy Giuliani engaging in provocative behavior with a woman he’d been told was a reporter.

The adviser to President Trump appears to have unknowingly participated in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” the comedy starring Sacha Baron Cohen that is poised to be released Friday on Amazon Prime Video.

According to multiple reports, Giuliani sits down for an interview at a New York hotel with the character Tutar, Borat’s teenage daughter who’s posing as a TV journalist and was played by 24-year-old actress Maria Bakalova.

The 76-year-old former New York mayor is heard complimenting the supposed reporter and following her to a bedroom, where eventually he stretches out on the bed.

Vanity Fair describes the scene captured on hidden cameras, saying of Giuliani, “His hand is in his pants. Watching it, your brain turns into an exclamation point.”

Cohen, as Borat, then reportedly runs into the hotel room sporting a bikini and exclaiming, “She’s 15. She’s too old for you.”

Giuliani did not respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

He told the New York Post in July that he had agreed to participate in what he believed was an interview about the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response.

“This person comes in yelling and screaming,” Giuliani said of Cohen, “and I thought this must be a scam or a shake-down, so I reported it to the police. He then ran away.”

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Pope Francis Announces Support For Civil Unions For Same-Sex Couples In New Documentary

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(CNN) — Pope Francis has declared support for civil unions for same-sex couples for the first time, according to the Catholic News Agency.

The Pope made the historic remarks in a new documentary film, “Francesco,” which was released in Rome on Wednesday.

“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it,” the Pope said in the film, the Catholic News Agency reported.”

“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” the Pope said.

Francis has suggested in past interviews that he is not against civil unions, but this is the first time as Pope that he has directly come out in favor of them.

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis advocated for same-sex civil unions as an alternative when Argentina was discussing whether to legalize same-sex marriage.

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Person Who Flown With Biden In Recent Days Tests Positive For COVID-19

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(ABC News) — The Biden campaign has announced that someone who flew with former Vice President Joe Biden to Ohio on Monday and Florida on Tuesday has tested positive for COVID-19. The positive result was discovered through the contact tracing that the campaign undertook following the positive diagnosis of Sen. Kamala Harris’ communications director and a non-staff flight crew member.

“Around noon on Thursday, October 15th, we learned – as part of our contact tracing of the crew member on Senator Harris’ plane that tested positive for COVID last night – that an administrative member of the Aviation company that charters Vice President Biden’s aircraft tested positive for COVID-19,” Campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon wrote in a statement.

However, the campaign says that Biden and the member who tested positive did not have any passing or close contact during the flight and he is not required to isolate.

“Vice President Biden was not in close contact, as defined by the CDC, with this individual at any time. In fact, the Vice President did not even have passing contact: this individual was over 50 feet from VP Biden at all times, entered and exited the aircraft from a rear entrance, and both the individual and the Vice President wore masks for the entire flight. Given these facts, we have been advised by the Vice President’s doctor and the campaign’s medical advisors that there is no need for the Vice President to quarantine,” she added.

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