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By Jonathan Allen
WASHINGTON — Congress wanted to honor the ailing Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. President Donald Trump did not.
In extended remarks during a visit to Fort Drum in upstate New York to sign the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 — this year’s version of an annual bill that sets defense policy — Trump chose not to mention the former prisoner of war and Senate Armed Services Committee chairman who is battling brain cancer. He even omitted McCain’s name when citing the title of the bill.
The two men have long been fierce critics of each other, with McCain calling Trump’s supporters “crazies” in 2015 and Trump retaliating by questioning whether McCain, who was subjected to torture in a Vietnamese prison camp, is really a “war hero” because “he was captured.”
The snub at Fort Drum, home to the combat aviation brigade of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, did not escape the notice of McCain’s allies.
“For those asking did I expect Trump to be an a—— today. No more than I expected it to be Monday,” Mark Salter, McCain’s longtime aide, wrote on Twitter.
McCain’s condition — dire enough that a recent HBO documentary on him was titled “John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls” — has not stopped Trump from deriding the Arizona senator at political rallies. Though Trump does not use his name, he tells crowds that he would have been able to repeal Obamacare if not for a thumbs-down sign from one senator — McCain.
The senator’s own statement included Trump’s name in the headline and in a preamble written by staff. But the words attributed to McCain did not.
“I’m very proud that the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 has been signed into law,” he said.
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Anita Hill says she’d be open to voting for Joe Biden
Anita Hill said she considers Joe Biden partly responsible for how she was treated during Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings in 1991 — but she’s still open to voting for him for president.
In a wide-ranging interview with NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell, Hill said she’s more interested in the former vice president’s plans for the future than his apologies for the past.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of what he could say,” Hill said. “For me it’s a matter of what we want all of our leaders to say; that is, after almost three decades now of having discovered the problem of sexual harassment, more people understanding it is a serious problem and so prevalent. I really want our leaders to stand up and say what happened in 1991 will never happen again.”
Hill said she wants leaders to “stand up and say that ‘I understand this is a serious problem, that women are not safe in the workplace, they’re not safe in our schools, they’re not safe on our streets.'” She added that she wants leaders to “use the government’s resources to eliminate the problems.”
Hill had worked for Thomas at two federal agencies, and she testified at his Supreme Court confirmation hearing that he’d sexually harassed her, which Thomas denied. She was grilled by Republicans in the Judiciary Committee, which was chaired by Biden.
The then-Delaware senator opted not to call witnesses who could have corroborated Hill’s story, creating what she called a “he said, she said” situation.
Before Biden announced his bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, he called Hill to express his regret over how she was treated. She told The New York Times earlier this year that she was not satisfied by the apology, but she told Mitchell she didn’t consider Biden’s handling of the hearings “disqualifying.”
“I don’t think it has disqualified him,” Hill, a law professor at Brandeis University, said. “He’s perfectly capable of running for president. I think we will have to make our decisions about what we want our leaders to be doing in the future around these issues of gender violence.”
Hill said she does hold Biden responsible for how the hearings were handled because “I believe every chairman of any committee really is responsible for how a hearing is conducted.”
Asked if there was any “moral equivalency” between Biden and President Donald Trump, who’s denied allegations that he sexually assaulted more than a dozen women over the years, Hill said: “Absolutely not. I never said that and never intended to say that.”
When asked if she could conceive of voting for Biden if he is the Democratic nominee in 2020, Hill said, “Of course I could.”
Hill would not pick out a favorite from the current 2020 field.
“I would love to see a question about gender violence during the debates,” she said, adding that she did not appreciate chatter about female candidates being good vice-presidential picks.
“If you present this picture of them as second, then their arguments for being president are taken less seriously,” she said.
Hill also weighed in on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, saying she “absolutely” identified with Christine Blasey Ford, who accused him of sexual assault, which Kavanaugh denied.
“She was in the same situation” with “intense pressure,” Hill said.
Asked if she’d been in contact with Ford, Hill said: “I have. Not much lately, but I have.”
One person she has not been in contact with is Thomas, who accused her of smearing him. Asked if she ever heard from him, Hill said, “No,” and: “I don’t expect to. And I certainly won’t be getting in touch with him.”
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