‘Tremendous victory’: Trump celebrates Kavanaugh win

US President Donald Trump gestures as he steps off Air Force One upon arrival for a "Make America Great Again" rally in Topeka, Kansas, on Oct. 6, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 08 October 2018

‘Tremendous victory’: Trump celebrates Kavanaugh win

  • Kavanaugh was sworn in as a justice Saturday evening in Washington after an extraordinarily fraught nomination that sparked angry protests
  • Trump, throughout the day, insisted Kavanagh would not be tainted by the sexual assault allegations from Christine Blasey Ford

TOPEKA, Kansas:  President Donald Trump at a Kansas rally celebrated the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, condemning Democrats for what he called a “shameless campaign of political and personal destruction” against his nominee.
To cheers of supporters at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, Trump declared it an “historic night,” not long after signing the paperwork to make Kavanaugh’s status official.
“I stand before you today on the heels of a tremendous victory for our nation,” he said to roars, thanking Republican senators for refusing to back down “in the face of the Democrats’ shameless campaign of political and personal destruction.”
Kavanaugh was sworn in as a justice Saturday evening in Washington after an extraordinarily fraught nomination that sparked angry protests, nail-biting votes and a national reckoning about sexual assault allegations and who should be believed. Kavanaugh staunchly denied the allegations, but nearly all Senate Democrats voted against his confirmation.
The final vote took place Saturday afternoon as the president was flying to Kansas aboard Air Force One, and he invited traveling reporters to his private office to watch the climactic roll call, which was interrupted several times by protesters in the Senate galleries before Capitol Police removed them.
When it was official, Trump delivered a double thumbs-up from his desk. Several aides applauded.
“Very, very good,” Trump said. “Very happy about it. Great decision. I very much appreciate those 50 great votes and I think he’s going to go down as a totally brilliant Supreme Court Justice for many years.”
Trump, throughout the day, insisted Kavanagh would not be tainted by the sexual assault allegations from Christine Blasey Ford and others that nearly tanked his nomination. Trump said he was “100 percent” certain Kavanaugh was innocent.
“I have no doubt,” Trump said, telling reporters that he had chosen Kavanaugh, in part, because “there’s nobody with a squeaky-clean past like Brett Kavanaugh.” He said the FBI had done seven background investigations and argued that, had there been an issue, it would have surfaced sooner.
“If there was even a scintilla of something wrong — he was a very big judge for many years on what they call the second highest court — that would have come out loud and clear,” he said.
Throughout the day, Trump also kept his focus on the opposition, saying Kavanaugh had withstood a “horrible, horrible attack” that “nobody should have to go through.”
He continued lashing out at Democrats when he rallied supporters in Topeka, telling them “radical Democrats” have become “an angry, left-wing mob” and “too dangerous and too extreme to govern.” He urged Kansas voters to send Republicans to Congress.
“You don’t hand matches to an arsonist and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob. And that’s what they’ve become,” he said.
Kavanaugh’s nomination sparked protest across the Capitol, which continued Saturday. When the vote was over, hundreds of protesters massed on the Supreme Court steps, chanting, “We believe survivors.”
Asked by reporters aboard Air Force One what message he had for women across the country who feel the nomination sends a message that their allegations of sexual assault aren’t believed, Trump disagreed with the premise, saying women “were outraged at what happened to Brett Kavanaugh” and “were in many ways stronger than the men in his favor.”
“We have a lot of women that are extremely happy — a tremendous number — because they’re thinking of their sons, they’re thinking of their husbands and their brothers and their uncles and others and women are, I think, extremely happy,” he added.
Trump has repeatedly sided with men accused of sexual misconduct and has warned of the dangers false accusations pose to men — even though research has shown false accusations to be extremely rare.
Pointing to television footage of protesters outside the Capitol, he said their numbers paled in comparison to the thousands of supporters awaiting him in Kansas.
“The crowd in front of the U.S. Supreme Court is tiny, looks like about 200 people (& most are onlookers) - that wouldn’t even fill the first couple of rows of our Kansas Rally, or any of our Rallies for that matter!” he tweeted.
Trump also revealed that he believed a widely criticized rally speech in which he mocked Ford’s Senate testimony had been a turning point for the nomination, changing the momentum in his favor.
“I think that the Mississippi speech had great impact,” he said, calling it “a very important thing.”
He later told Fox News host Jeanine Pirro in an interview from his limousine that once he made the comments, “it started to sail through.”
Advisers and Senate leaders had urged Trump not to attack Ford publicly, worried such a move would anger on-the-fence senators. But Trump went after her anyway, mocking her testimony and gaps in her memory as a rally crowd laughed and cheered.
“I thought I had to even the playing field,” he said.
Trump was in Kansas to campaign for Kris Kobach, secretary of state and the Republican nominee for governor, and Steve Watkins, the GOP nominee in the 2nd Congressional District of eastern Kansas. Retiring Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins holds the seat, and Democrats hope to flip it. Both joined him on stage at the Expocentre to speak.
Trump has been holding rallies across the country as he tries to boost Republican turnout in November’s midterm elections, which will determine which party will control the House and Senate during the second half of Trump’s term.
He said Saturday he thinks Republicans “are going to do incredibly well” in the elections after Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
“I think we have a momentum that hasn’t been seen in years,” he said.


Exclusive: St. Kitts & Nevis PM aims to ‘cement ties with the Middle East’

Updated 14 August 2020

Exclusive: St. Kitts & Nevis PM aims to ‘cement ties with the Middle East’

  • Prime Minister Timothy Harris emphasizes ‘enduring appeal’ of Saint Kitts and Nevis amid a global pandemic
  • Dual-island nation has announced a discount in the amount needed to secure citizenship for a limited period

DUBAI: After the turmoil and tedium of the last few months, a distant island getaway is probably what tops most people’s dreams. One Caribbean destination, surrounded by sparkling sand and turquoise waters, is intent on using its natural landscapes to nurse people back to normality — and build commercial bridges to the Middle East in the process.

In an interview via Zoom with Arab News, Prime Minister Timothy Harris noted with satisfaction that his country was home to a number of individuals from the Middle East, including the GCC countries. But his ambitions are clearly much bigger than that.

Harris, who was re-elected to a second term as prime minister of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis on June 5, says he will continue to deepen the dual-island nation’s relations with the GCC region.

“We intend to open an embassy soon in the UAE,” he told Arab News. “This will further cement our ties to the Middle East region and to the UAE specifically.”

With their relative affluence and large expatriate populations, GCC countries constitute a key part of the catchment area of the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program of St. Kitts and Nevis.

“What the CBI program offers applicants is the advantage of mobility,” said Harris, adding: “In the context of St. Kitts and Nevis, it also offers citizenship in a nation that is democratic, peaceful and safe.”

(Full Arab News interview with Prime Minister Timothy Harris)

His government is also counting on efficient processing of citizenship applications to help it stand out in a crowded field.

Amid the coronavirus disease pandemic, some, particularly for those hailing from troubled countries in the Middle East, see a silver lining: A discount on the citizenship of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Harris has announced a time-limited reduction in the contribution required to secure citizenship. The government of St. Kitts and Nevis has decided to temporarily reduce the family minimum contribution by $45,000 to $150,000. However, the minimum contribution for a single applicant remains at $150,000.

Basseterre, capital of St. Kitts and Nevis. (Supplied)
A single applicant seeking economic citizenship normally contributes at least $150,000, while the cost for a family of up to four comes to $195,000. But from July 7 until the end of this year, families of up to four people will be able to secure citizenship of St. Kitts and Nevis at the discounted rate.
The decision was influenced by the global fallout of the COVID-19 crisis and the efforts of the Harris government to find creative ways to stabilize the economy and put it back on the path to the growth rates it had enjoyed over five years preceding the pandemic.

Harris is upfront about his objectives. “This limited-time offer will provide the resources to help us successfully fight COVID-19 and enhance the safety nets for those who have lost their jobs or income as a consequence," he said.

(St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Timothy Harris talking about his country's COVID-19 response)

“The CBI program is crucial to our growth and development. The effects of COVID-19 have also destabilized our economy. Without the CBI program we would have been in serious danger.”

The St. Kitts and Nevis CBI program grants citizenship to individuals of high net worth and their families, who get visa-free access to 156 countries, including EU member states and the UK.

Migrate World Ltd is one of the authorized representatives for the CBI program for the Middle East and Africa. Speaking to Arab News in May, Moe Alhaj, CEO of Migrate World Ltd, said: “There’s been a notable increase — of around 40 percent — in applicants from the Arab world during the pandemic.

“The individuals that the program caters to in the Middle East are largely from Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia.” The CBI program does not accept applicants from Iran, Afghanistan and North Korea.

(St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Timothy Harris talking about his country's citizenship program)

During the pandemic, CBI officials say, the program has witnessed a 40 percent increase in applicants from families hailing from the Arab world. Arab News could not independently verify the figure.

What is undeniable is that while the coronavirus crisis continues to ravage countries across the globe, particularly those in North America, the Caribbean region has largely been spared high caseloads.

The total population of residents in the Caribbean is just under 45 million. As of July 27, the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections stood at 91,907. The nations with the highest number of cases are the Dominican Republic with 64,156; French Guiana with 7,332; Haiti with 7,315 cases and Puerto Rico with 5,416. 

Aerial view of Black Rocks Beach on St. Kitts. (Supplied)

St. Kitts and Nevis had one of the lowest numbers. By May 19 all of the 16 cases on its two islands had recovered, although one new case was announced on July 4. There have been no deaths. The islands went into lockdown on March 31 when just eight cases had been declared. It was then extended until April 18 and then again to April 25.

“We began an aggressive public education campaign in our schools and workplaces, security forces and health-care workers early on,” Harris told Arab News. “As cases rose, we were at a high level of alertness and citizens and residents complied, so we were able to stop the spread efficiently.”

The CBI program was launched in St. Kitts and Nevis in 1984 as a way to assist the island’s economy, which had suffered due to the collapse of the sugar industry, and to stimulate foreign direct investment inflows.

FASTFACT

ETHNIC GROUPS

- 53,821 = Population of St. Kitts & Nevis

- 92.5% African

- 3% Mixed

- 2.1% White

- 1.5% East Indian

“Clearly, size does matter and being a small nation state with limited resources, we had to find unique ways of bringing in investment that would help the country thrive from year to year,” Harris told Arab News.

“While COVID-19 has placed the world under enormous strain, St. Kitts and Nevis’s record to date of zero hospitalizations and zero fatalities from the disease underlines the character and enduring appeal of our great country.”

With alluring beaches, laid back Caribbean lifestyle and faraway location, the offer is hard to refuse — if one’s pockets are deep enough.

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Twitter: @rebeccaaproctor