Skip to main content
Visit the Midday Edition homepage

Roundtable: Supreme Court Controversy

September 28, 2018 1:35 p.m.

Roundtable: Supreme Court Controversy


Jade Hindmon, reporter, KPBS News

Sara Libby, managing editor, Voice of San Diego

Ken Stone, reporter, Times of San Diego

Lori Weisberg, reporter, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Related Story: Roundtable: Supreme Court Controversy


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

Capitol Hill or a courthouse in Pennsylvania. It's been a week of reckoning in the ME TOO era. What are we learning about the way we treat allegations of sexual assault. Congressman Duncan Hunter digs in this county Republican fires up his base and calls out the ancestry of his challenger. And though we're focused on November San Diego is looking to a special election to deal with short term rentals and the Convention Center by Mark Sauer. The PBS roundtable starts now.

Welcome to our discussion of the week's top stories I'm Mark Sauer. And joining me at the PBS roundtable today Sarah Livi managing editor of The Voice of San Diego. Kaye PBS reporter Jade Heidemann. Ken Stone reporter with The Times of San Diego and Laurie Weisberg who covers marketing and tourism for the San Diego Union Tribune. Well it was one of the most extraordinary televised spectacles in the history of modern American government and politics. Brett Kavanaugh Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court accused of attempted rape by psychology professor Christine Blassie Ford. Here's a snippet from the accuser and the accused.

I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help when I did. Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling. This is what terrified me the most and this had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me.

The day after the allegation appeared I told this committee that I wanted the hearing as soon as possible. To clear my name I demanded a hearing for the very next day. Unfortunately it took the committee ten days to get to this hearing. In those ten long days as was predictable. And as I predicted my family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed.

All right sir. Incredible disturbing hearing was this. Are we seeing the backlash of man against the student movement brought into sharp relief.

I mean certainly called into focus the extent to which many men think that they are the true victims of this moment. And I think it really crystallized how men are still allowed to be really angry in public whereas you heard from Dr. Ford being very polite and very accommodating. And it wasn't just Brett Kavanaugh who was very angry and had a lot of rage. You saw in Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham just being very defiant and angry. And if you think back a few weeks ago to the uproar over Serena Williams. I mean it really puts a clear focus on who can be angry and how they're treated for that.

Lindsey Graham I mean I didn't see that kind of reaction after 22 children were shot in Sandy Hook or Kirkland Florida.

I mean it just seems you know in watching that that Cavanagh had an entire meltdown in that hearing. But it also shows why there are so many women that don't come forward with this the skepticism that she's that Ford has been put under. It's just a huge example of that.

LOHR Well yeah yeah I knew. I knew. And you keep hearing the mantra from that and some on the committee and President Trump well if this was such a big deal why didn't she say something sooner or why did she wait so long and which then sparked its own movement that you saw on Twitter and social media. Why I didn't report it right away. And to explain to men who don't stand the reasons why and we've seen it play out. This is the reason why that kind of backlash you're talking about.

Right. We're going to get into more of that in a minute. Now the Senate Judiciary Committee the committee that held extraordinary hearing little more collegial today they did vote out Kavanaugh's nomination. That was a strict 11 10 party vote. One little Cavey out there though GOP Senator Jeff Flake he wants a delay talking about the FBI investigating maybe a delay. Maybe it won't come early next week as planned to the full floor of the Senate as this confirmation a done deal sir.

I mean I feel a little bit like after 2016 maybe we shouldn't be in the business of making predictions but if I had to guess though yes I think it seems pretty clear that they are willing to confirm him.

The GOP wants to get that through.

You know to me it seems like an FBI investigation would be an obvious thing. You have two people who are 100 percent sure about their account of what happened. Both said that literally. Exactly so your only recourse the only way that you can even somewhat get to the truth would be an FBI investigation. I'm not sure why distance running into such opposition I don't understand.

Well I mean I think I terms of predicting the outcome of the vote is one thing but are you are you feeling after you watch what we saw this morning that there's conference that there will be an FBI investigation because I think what the White House is doing and what the Republican leadership is doing is counting votes on the floor and they may not have those votes if they don't get the FBI investigation.

I mean if it's in the hands of Trump and Mitch McConnell then I would lean toward no. But perhaps if they feel that's the only way that it's a certainty then maybe.

All right now I did want to make a point today CNN reported today the national rape and sexual abuse hotline saw 200 percent increase in reports during yesterday's hearing which course went on all day and the story noted that typically when you get public attention focused on sexual abuse you do see a spike do you see some women empowered coming forward because of this whole national attention on this.

Well I think one thing that this case has demonstrated as well as the Bill Cosby sentencing is just how many credible women need to come forward in the case of a very powerful man in order for there to be consequences.

And so I think you know that's one thing that is an issue with the Cavanagh appointment is that Dr. Ford was very credible she's you know white educated woman and yet it might not be enough.

And even Donald Trump today had a headline and a quote saying that she was credible on it's up to the Senate now on more investigation can serve you're the political wonk.

What is the consequence for Republicans who vote to confirm even even with a week's delay. It seems that Jeff Flake is trying to split the baby saying I'm on both sides. I'm on I'm on the accuser's side I'm on the the accused side. And even though he's not running for reelection like minded Republicans may take him up on that offer to push this off as a way of perhaps showing their constituents that on both sides that they are open minded to the to the angry woman vote that is having it both ways is that of her.

Well I mean I think he want to face consequences from voters but he might be thinking of you know a future in lobbying as many ex senators do and perhaps this anger has maybe running again in 2012 for that as far as people like Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins I think they really relish their roles as wild cards. And so it may not be a huge backlash for them. It's there who it all rests on.

All right I didn't want to hear we do have a soundbite here from President Trump. He's been accused of sexual impropriety by more than a dozen women of course he bragged about assaulting women on the famous Hollywood axis tape during the campaign. Let's hear from the president on this idea of guilty until innocent regarding these killings when you are guilty.

Until Proven Innocent. It's just not supposed to be that way.

Always I heard you're innocent until proven guilty. I've heard this for so long and it's such a beautiful phrase.

In this case you're guilty.

Until Proven Innocent. I think that is a very very dangerous standard for our country.

All right now I did want to bring up at that press conference that was at the U.N. in New York he complained about four women typically he did not have that accurate. It was more than a dozen who've accused him but he often promised during the campaign I'm going to sue these women and to clear my name I'm going to get the depositions will get them under oath here in penalty of perjury here. No reporter ask him Laurie about clearing his name.

Why do you think that was. I don't know if it's a case of been there done that and we we just never took him seriously that you know we're going to that he makes these promises and votes and then doesn't follow follow through. Maybe maybe it at this point seemed beside the point. I don't know. But you're right.

Nobody did press him on that will serve simply have their hands full as far as the claims you make and you have to sort of pick and choose which ones you pursuing you know at that same press conference he said he won the women's vote which is simply not true. He won actually white women. All right. So you kind of just have to pick and choose which claims you're going to go after.

I was going to also make a point about Mr. Trump earlier on this week. He said if this was such a serious thing involving the attack alleged attack by Kavanaugh against against Professor Ford when when they were teenagers then she would have reported the police that time her loving parents would have stepped forward in coming. That doesn't happen. We learned as we did we can.


Studies have found for decades that victims of sexual violence especially young people do not report for fear of parental anger and embarrassment shame. And the proof in that is that the the rain RAII in rape hotline is jumping off the hooks because if people finally finding the courage and will to to make those complaints so this is an indication that you cannot use that argument against her or any other sexual violence victim.

We talked earlier on about Kavana who came out swinging in his statement there and he accused the left and the Democrats Revenge of the Clintons. It was quite a performance there and there has been a lot of commentary and whether as a as a job interview which is confirmation is supposed to be is that disqualifying simply from a manner of measure of temperament for a judge. But before I end this segment I didn't want to get back to to Bill Cosby which we mentioned early on sentenced this week to three to 10 years in prison for drug drugging and sexually assaulting a woman. Scores of women accused Cosby over the years. Sir what impact do you think this conviction and Kavanagh's confirmation hearing have it maybe on the behavior of men and boys going forward in public and in private.

I think it's a bit of a mixed message. You know though Bill Cosby was sentenced this week it took decades for these victims to be believed and only when they got a critical mass. Did anyone take it seriously. And then it's similar with. And I think they're still somewhat of a message that if you're powerful and have a lot of resources behind you that you're going to be treated differently than somebody who doesn't.

All right we are going to leave this segment before we do. Tell us about Paletta First Voice of San Diego.

Yes. Voices San Diego is putting on Paletta fast on October 6 that U.S. Stiehm will have a lot of great debates and a lot of rundowns about some of the decisions that people will be facing on the November ballot. So if you're looking to get kind of up to speed about the election that's coming up it'll be a great way to do that plus a first or a very good.

All right thank you. We're going to move on now to more politics. Republican Duncan Hunter faces felony federal charges along with his wife of using campaign funds on family vacations school fees dental work bbls golf ski outings and many other things. Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in campaign funds. The allegation is that they misused and lying about it to cover tracks. Hunter continues his campaign for re-election in the fiftieth Congressional District which includes East San Diego County and hours after his latest appearance in federal court this week. Hunter addressed a Republican women's group making several bold charges against his opponent. Almar campin ajar for one hunter seemed to claim the Democrat may be a Muslim terrorist and Kenya were at that. And there was an ad along the same lines here that we can we can talk about as well. So start with what Hunter is saying and what he said at that event that you were.

Well he he did not explicitly say my opponent is a Muslim. He said my opponent changed his name several times including once legally.

A week after the June primary two from the original birth name of Amar Yasir Najjar and two of our company Ajarn which is which has been his usual name professionally and in his life Evernham as Yasser. But contrary to Hunter's allegation that this was a he was named after Yasser Arafat the Palestinian terrorist leader. In fact Yasser Arafat his dad's name. But in addition to that.

The Hunter Hunter has been using his mother's surname Campa for a while and Hunter is trying to link Amaar to his his family lineage which includes the grandfather who died 16 years was killed 60 years before he was born.

Who was he who was and who was an active member of Black September who did not mastermind the Munich 72 Olympic attacks on the Israelis. But in fact in a in a advertisement commercial that has not aired I don't think on TV. But it's been shared on social media and as all them. The grandfather was involved even though. But I'd love for. But the but the commercial which appeared two days after his Romona appearance and apparently Hunter was telegraphing or previewing this to his audience the the the commercial that explicitly says he's he's he's he's in the lineage of terrorists right.

That was very clear. You see the Jade. I wanted to get the response from him jar's camp says this is a desperate ravings of a congressman and you've interviewed him this week we're going to play a bite from that.

All right. I mean you know he said that basically you know you can't have a law breaker be a lawmaker. He's been very critical of Duncan Hunter blaming his wife and his son for the allegations of misused campaign funds. He's also been critical saying that the allegations are one thing but the lack of accountability is another thing. And basically the the I guess attacks on his heritage on a mark jars. Heritage is just an extension of that lack of accountability he said.

All right let's hear that sound bite then part of the response from the it's unfortunate that he's trying to fearmonger based on race. I think Hunter is looking at this district in a way that doesn't reflect the reality of our district. This district is changing. We're not backwards bigoted backwoods people. And I think just like me the people in my district to help raise me educate me mentored me. They will rise to the occasion.

All right. Ken I want to get back to the event you were at Hunters following President Trump's lead in going after immigrants at the event. And we're going to set up a soundbite here what did he say.

Well he said something that I hadn't heard before that immigrants do not deserve to be here. I've never known that to be an issue. But in the course of saying that he said sorry you were sorry you were born in Africa. Some were bad or some were bad. Why did she do what these men did during the colonial revolutionary period which is fight for their own country. He basically said all right we've got that but let's hear it from. From that event you were born or somewhere why don't you tell me what are.

Your plans. Well now instead of coming over here and getting welfare and food stamps lost jobs six years of your lives you don't deserve to.

Not a lot of sympathy there for refugees from from horrible places. What did Hunter have to say about his legal jeopardy and the U.S. Justice Department.

Well he did not specifically address the charges but he sure had a head of steam going regarding the Justice Department. He called it corrupt. He said he's never seen so much corruption. He said we're just we're just need to fight. And he repeated that several times. Basically he's doing giving himself a pep talk in the course of discussing this with his audience. You know we need to fight. And he says that DOJ if if if if a person were put in a federal lockup and he had a choice he would believe the the defendant route over the actual charges the person in prison in the federal prison. Right.

So it's a tricky thing coming this election because on the one hand here you've got this candidate facing this indictment. You think that know pretty tough to overcome and yet he's in a district that's heavily Republican. I'm just curious is are the respective parties given these different onze or are they putting or dumping a lot of money into these respective campaigns Republican and Democrat will be the Kepa Nadar campaign which I guess has had over a million dollars fit into it.

Not from PACs but from political institutions agencies. Has has has has far outraised Hunter and I think this is this is basically the one shot Democrats think they'll ever have to unseating him because a recent Monmouth University poll said that even if 40 percent of the of the of the registered voters in responding to a survey think Hunter is guilty you're probably guilty.

One out of 10 of those are going to vote for him anyway while you don't want to give you the last word on this from Compean to jar. And what's he saying he wants to do in this conservative district. You know if he's elected.

Well he says he wants to focus on bringing jobs to the district. He said that an incentive in doing that in bringing those big corporations to the area may be to build on some of the Native American land it would be a tax incentive for them. And so you know he wants people to be able to work within the district instead of driving 45 minutes or so outside. But before we go on to the next subject I do want to mention and talk about the town and the white nationalist rhetoric that's coming out of the Hunter campaign right now. You know we've talked to experts and they're definitely pointing that out. But you know and also he you know he called a Kampen Ahar he's linking him to terrorism security risk. Sure security risk and obviously there are people who make the same question about Duncan Hunter being that he's got so many financial troubles but even the security risk that is linked to this white national rhetoric that that is coming out of the campaign. And I find it very interesting that this this man is linking that making a mark campaign Ahar to terrorism when you represent a district that has a whole town in it that is so notorious for terrorism that it's named Clay and tea at this point. So I just think that you know you've really got to get a true idea of what's happening in this district and really kind of point out some of the dog whistles that are now becoming bullhorn a lot more coverage to come on that between now and Election Day.

Fascinating race. Well we turn now to another hot controversy the battle over regulations governing short term rentals in San Diego Airbnb type rentals have proved to be a complaint machine in some neighborhoods for years regulating them has vexed San Diego City Council members finally came up with a set of rules. Now those rules are on hold and Laura reminds what were the rules and what happened this week.

Yeah and you're right it took a really long time to get to those rules. But it's there doing what you're seeing a number of other cities are starting to do as well. You could have short term rentals but only in the home you occupy your residence and up to six months out of the year while you're away. And that's it. So the effect is no more second homes. No investor properties that can be rented out for short term rentals so that would very that would slash the number of rentals and then that that applies to Mission Beach to which is full of short term rentals and the Opposition this week scored a victory though everything is on hold. They quickly put out a referendum they collected enough signatures on the effects of a referendum even before it goes before the voters. It puts everything on hold. So now the big question mark is how long is everything on hold because the next election isn't in 2020 but there has been talk of a special election which can be expensive but for 2019 and there's some other field behind that because waiting in the wings is a convention center initiative that has also qualified for a future ballot. So so that's why you're hearing this talk and it will be up to the mayor to push this before the city council to request the special election.

Who are the folks against what the City Council did in those restrictions.

So it's a coalition they call themselves share San Diego. Not surprisingly they're led by air BMB HomeAway property management companies that to do these search. And then a number of the short term rental homes.

OK. And so here we go again. Now this is good news. And in terms of the actual everything that was passed that's just suspend it was supposed to take effect next summer right.

Yeah you're right. Right. And that includes paying like a 950 dollar fee and registering and then and then having these ultimately in July having these restrictions go into place. Now the people that are very upset about this referendum and want these rules to stay in place they now go back and they're bringing up the same tourney's opinion that was issued last year saying there's nothing in the municipal ordinance that regulates the short term rentals. Therefore they are illegal. The city has never enforced that. And now these people are calling on to the council and the city to enforce them. I don't think that's going to happen. So now you're setting up this again this real division in the city.

How many of these rentals are we talking about.

Do we know it's always kind of a guess for third party companies have estimated they say as of last December there was an estimate of about 11000 which includes the renting out of a home while you're there in the home. But the most of them are these home rentals. So it's it's a lot. And most of them are concentrated in the beach communities.

OK. So might be a special election on this issue as you've mentioned the convention center issue here. And before we're done today I didn't want to get to this festering mess with the city's attempts to acquire property. Critical to the expansion of the downtown convention. We wrote about that this week.

So right now the city does not have control over the bay from the bay side of the land that would be used for this convention center expansion. They worked out a deal to get control. That was all premised on this measure that I was talking about qualifying for this November's ballot. It didn't. So they have to redo the agreement. They have gotten to the point where they pay the first term of that agreement was to pay a five million dollar deposit. So we're going ahead with that. But then that has to set in motion negotiations to see Will they have to pay more. Originally it's going to be a total of 33 million. So the question is when will the developer the owner of the lease hold want more money to back off and not process like it's a 400 million dollar hotel project that they want to do. They've been processing it.

Well I'm told there's a little bit of news here just this morning October 25th deadline on that 5 million dollars and that makes sense a follow up story for you.

Well they already said that they're going to they're going to pay that money once the City Council and the port take action in October.

OK. So that's I guess that's right. But you're talking about something that's come up this morning. So a lot to digest. There are a couple of seconds left. Special election Zoll gets shoved off to 2020.

I have a feeling there's enough pressure to move for a special election because I don't think that the council that the majority that supported these regulations wants to keep them on hold that long.

Well another one to watch are all sorts of follow up stuff from full employment for us. We are out of time so we're going to have to go. We'll hold those thoughts the next time that does wrap up another week of stories at the PBS roundtable. And I'd like to thank my guest Sarah Libbie of voice of San Diego. Jane Heidemann of CBS News. Ken Stone of the times of San Diego. And Laurie Weisberg of the San Diego Union Tribune. And a reminder all the stories that we discussed today are available on our Web site KPP stop Argee Mark Sauer. Thanks for joining us today on the roundtable.