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White House aides and congressional allies worked all week to keep President Donald Trump from unloading on the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.

But as Kavanaugh's nomination hung in the balance, Trump couldn't contain his frustration any longer and unleashed a direct Twitter attack on the credibility of Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her decades ago during a high school party.

Friday's tweet landed with a splat in the noxious brew of gender and politics that has taken over a high-stakes confirmation battle playing out against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement. In keeping with Trump's natural instinct to fight back when under attack, as well as his long pattern of defending powerful men against the claims of women, the president's tweet reflected growing anger over all the focus on Ford's accusation.

Trump initially believed he could support his nominee without wading into the specific allegations against Kavanaugh since they did not involve him. But that began to change as Trump watched ongoing coverage of the accusations, particularly on Air Force One TVs tuned into Fox News on his long flight Thursday from Washington to Las Vegas, according to a White House official and a Republican close to the White House. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private conversations.


An Alaska man linked to a missing 10-year-old girl's death made his first appearance in federal court Tuesday. Peter Wilson, 41, of Kotzebue is charged with making false statements as authorities tried to find Ashley Johnson-Barr.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Russo, the criminal chief for the U.S. Attorney's office in Alaska, said in court a grand jury also could return an indictment against Wilson this week. If that happens, Wilson would be arraigned Friday. If not, he would return to court Sept. 27.

The girl had been missing since Sept. 6. She was found dead Friday just outside Kotzebue, a town of about 3,100 people on Alaska's northwestern coast.

An FBI affidavit says Wilson had the girl's cellphone, whose GPS coordinates of where the phone traveled led to the girl's body. The affidavit says the girl's death appears to be a homicide, but her death remains under investigation. The federal Public Defender's office was appointed to represent Wilson.

An Alaska man charged in connection with a 10-year-old girl's disappearance and death will make his first appearance in Federal Court Tuesday. Forty-one-year-old Peter Wilson of Kotzebue is charged with making false statements as authorities tried to find Ashley Johnson-Barr.

The girl had been missing since Sept. 6. She was found dead Friday just outside Kotzebue, a town of about 3,100 people on Alaska's northwestern coast.



A French court of appeals has upheld a ruling Wednesday that two directors of French celebrity magazine Closer should be fined a maximum 45,000 euros ($52,500) for breaching the privacy of Kate Middleton, when publishing topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing back in 2012.

The Versailles appeals court upheld the Sept. 2017 decision in Nanterre to hand the maximum possible fine under French law to Laurence Pieau, an editor of Closer's French edition, and Ernesto Mauri, chief executive of Mondadori, the media group that publishes the weekly.

The court also upheld fines for the two photographers who snapped the duchess of 10,000 euros each.

Last September, the office of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said they were pleased at the ruling as they "wished to make the point strongly that this kind of unjustified intrusion should not happen."

The timing of last year's ruling had particular resonance in Britain, as it was shortly after the 20th anniversary of the death of Prince William's mother, Princess Diana, who was being pursued by paparazzi when her car crashed in a tunnel in Paris.


President Donald Trump is taking the Washington debate over his Supreme Court nominee to the homes of two red-state Senate Democrats this week, elevating Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation as a political litmus test for voters.

Trump's strategy aims to turn the screws on the lawmakers, Jon Tester of Montana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who find themselves caught between Senate leaders and progressive donors who are fighting Kavanaugh's confirmation, and their states' more conservative electorate, which is more broadly supportive of Trump's pick.

Neither senator has laid down a clear marker on how he or she will vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation, which Senate Republican leaders hope to bring to a vote before the full chamber later this month — just weeks before the general election.

Trump is holding a rally in Billings, Montana, on Thursday night, and then attending fundraisers in Fargo, North Dakota, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on Friday.

White House officials contend the Supreme Court was a powerful motivator for Republican base voters in 2016, when Trump won the White House, and they're seeking to capitalize on Kavanaugh's confirmation to help overcome an enthusiasm gap with Democrats. Likewise, a vote for Kavanaugh by either Tester or Heitkamp could frustrate their Democratic base eager for a more confrontational approach to the Trump administration.

"It's a real pickle," said GOP strategist Josh Holmes.

"There is no question that all of these red-state Democrats would prefer to have an extremely quiet experience when it comes to the consideration of Kavanaugh," he said. "They don't want to upset leadership and the liberal base that's funding their campaigns, but the voters who control their fate are overwhelmingly in favor of Kavanaugh."

Democrats question whether the Kavanaugh vote will resonate in the race to unseat Tester, the Big Sandy farmer who has emphasized his independence and willingness to cross the partisan aisle to work with the president, who carried Montana by 20 percentage points two years ago.

"It's not like you're standing in the grocery store line and people are talking about the Kavanaugh confirmation. It's pretty inside baseball for folks," said Barrett Kaiser, a Montana-based Democratic strategist who advised former Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. Kaiser said Tester had demonstrated a "proven bipartisan record of working with this administration when it helps Montana and oppose them when it doesn't."

Republicans last year assailed Tester for his vote against the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, Trump's nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Tester said Gorsuch would "stand between women and her health care" and not protect personal privacy.


Officials from the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius told United Nations judges Monday that former colonial power Britain strong-armed its leaders half a century ago into giving up territory as a condition of independence, a claim that could have an impact on a strategically important U.S. military base.

Judges at the International Court of Justice began hearing arguments for an advisory opinion the U.N. General Assembly requested on the legality of British sovereignty over the Chagos Islands. The largest island, Diego Garcia, has housed the U.S. base since the 1970s.

"The process of decolonization of Mauritius remains incomplete as a result of the unlawful detachment of an integral part of our territory on the eve of our independence," Mauritius Defense Minister Anerood Jugnauth told judges.

Mauritius argues that the Chagos archipelago was part of its territory since at least the 18th century and taken unlawfully by the U.K. in 1965, three years before the island gained independence. Britain insists it has sovereignty over the archipelago, which it calls the British Indian Ocean Territory.

Jugnauth testified that during independence negotiations, then-British Prime Minister Harold Wilson told Mauritius' leader at the time, Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, that "he and his colleagues could return to Mauritius either with independence or without it and that the best solution for all might be independence and detachment (of the Chagos Islands) by agreement."

Ramgoolam understood Wilson's words "to be in the nature of a threat," Jugnauth said.

British Solicitor General Robert Buckland described the case as essentially a bilateral dispute about sovereignty and urged the court not to issue an advisory opinion.



The state Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a last-minute bid by former coal CEO Don Blankenship to get his name on the ballot in November's U.S. Senate race in West Virginia.

The court upheld a decision by the secretary of state denying Blankenship's application for a third-party candidacy.

"The West Virginia Secretary of State is ordered to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that Donald L. Blankenship does not appear on the 2018 General Election Ballot for the Office of United States Senator for the State of West Virginia," the decision said.

The court itself is in a state of upheaval. One of the judges hearing the case Wednesday was filling in for a suspended justice, and two sat in for judges who retired after lawmakers voted to impeach them over allegations of improper use of court funds.

The justices issued the decision in the form of an order, rather than an opinion that would have laid out how each one voted and included comments from a majority ruling.

In a statement, Blankenship thanked his supporters and said he will evaluate his next step with his attorneys, which could include an appeal.

"For those who believe in democracy, it is a frightening decision," he said. "Americans desperately need to pay attention as the politicians continue to move voters to the sidelines and out of the election process."

Secretary of State Mac Warner had blocked Blankenship's bid to run as the Constitution Party's nominee, based on the state's "sore loser" law. It prohibits major-party primary candidates who lose from switching to a minor party. Blankenship finished third in the Republican primary in May.



The three cities vying to host the 2020 Democratic convention are courting party leaders and activists at their summer meeting in Chicago.

Houston, Miami and Milwaukee are the finalists. A selection committee has been visiting the potential sites. A decision is expected early next year.

Miami gave people attending the Democratic National Committee meeting a taste of Chicago's waterfront offerings by renting out a boat docked at Navy Pier for its party.

Milwaukee's gathering featured an appearance by onetime Milwaukee Bucks basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The city has suggested the Bucks' new arena as the convention's venue.

Gospel singer Yolanda Adams highlighted Houston's party. Houston also scattered promotions throughout the DNC's meeting hotel, including Texas-shaped decals on the carpet and bar tabletops.

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