‘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.


South Korea to deploy anti-piracy unit to the Strait of Hormuz

Updated 22 January 2020

South Korea to deploy anti-piracy unit to the Strait of Hormuz

  • South Korea will not officially be joining a coalition of forces known as the International Maritime Security Construct

SEOUL: South Korea’s military said on Tuesday it plans to expand the deployment of an anti-piracy unit now operating off the coast of Africa to the area around the Strait of Hormuz, after the United States pressed for help in guarding oil tankers.
Attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz off the coast of Iran last year prompted US officials to call for allies to join a planned maritime security mission.
While South Korea, a key US ally, will deploy its forces to the area, including the Gulf, it will not officially be joining a coalition of forces known as the International Maritime Security Construct, the defense ministry said.
“The South Korean government decided to temporarily expand the deployment of the Cheonghae military unit,” a ministry official told reporters, adding that the step would ensure the safety of citizens and free navigation of South Korean vessels.
The decision to divert the navy unit already operating southwest of Arabia is a political compromise that will not require fresh authorization by parliament ahead of an election in April.
The Cheonghae unit will continue with its mission while it cooperates with the coalition, the ministry said, adding that the United States had been briefed on the decision, which was also explained to the Iranians separately.
The United States welcomes and appreciates South Korea’s decision to expand the mission of its Cheonghae anti-piracy unit to the Strait of Hormuz, William Coleman, spokesman for the US Embassy in Seoul, told Reuters on Wednesday.
“This decision is a demonstration of the strength of the US-ROK alliance and our commitment to cooperate on global security concerns.”
The Iranian embassy in Seoul had no comment on the matter.
The Strait of Hormuz is a busy passageway into the Gulf, with vessels sailing through it approximately 900 times a year for South Korea, which gets more than 70% of its oil from the Middle East, the defense ministry says.
Sending troops to the area has been a politically sensitive issue in South Korea ahead of the election.
A survey by pollster Realmeter last week showed 48.4% of South Koreans were opposed to dispatching soldiers to the Strait, while 40.3% supported the idea.
Tuesday’s move was broadly supported by lawmakers although some said it could risk Iran ties and the safety of South Koreans in the region. A number of progressive activist groups issued a statement criticizing the decision and said they will stage a protest in front of the president’s office on Wednesday.
The Cheonghae unit has been stationed in the Gulf of Aden since 2009, working to tackle piracy in partnership with African countries as well as the United States and the European Union.
The 302-strong unit operates a 4,500-ton destroyer, a Lynx anti-submarine helicopter and three speed boats, South Korea’s 2018 defense white paper showed.
Among its operations were the rescue of a South Korean ship and its crew in 2011, shooting eight suspected pirates and capturing five others in the incident.
The South Korean troops have also evacuated South Korean citizens from Libya and Yemen, and as of November 2018 had escorted around 18,750 South Korean and international vessels.
South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest crude oil importer and one of Iran’s major oil customers, stopped importing Iranian crude from May after waivers of US sanctions ended at the start of that month.