How Maine Senators Susan Collins and Angus King voted last week

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The House was in recess this week. Along with last week’s roll call votes, the Senate also passed the Supply Chain Counterintelligence Training Act (S. 1388).

There were no key votes in the House this week.

SENATE VOTES

CLAIMS COURT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of David Austin Tapp to serve as a judge on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims for a 15-year term. Tapp, a circuit court judge in Kentucky since 2005, was previously a criminal defense lawyer and police officer. A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said: “As a volunteer drug court judge, Judge Tapp has earned national praise for promoting long-term recovery in the courtroom. He has also developed a sterling reputation for fairness throughout Kentucky and around the country.” The vote, on Nov. 5, was 85 yeas to 8 nays.
YEAS: Susan Collins, R-Maine; Angus King, I-Maine

APPEALS COURT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Danielle J. Hunsaker to serve as a judge on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Hunsaker had been a county judge in Oregon since 2017, and before that a law professor and private practice lawyer in Portland from 2008 to 2017. The vote, on Nov. 6, was 73 yeas to 17 nays.
YEAS: Collins, King

ARKANSAS JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Lee Philip Rudofsky to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Rudofsky, Arkansas’s solicitor general from 2015 to 2018, has also been a senior lawyer for Walmart and a private practice lawyer in Washington, D.C. A supporter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called Rudofsky a nominee who believed “in the quaint notion that the job of a judge is to apply our nation’s laws and Constitution as they were actually written, not as they might wish they were written.” An opponent, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Rudofsky “has a long history in Arkansas of working to deny women access to reproductive healthcare.” The vote, on Nov. 7, was 51 yeas to 41 nays.
YEAS: Collins
NAYS: King

PENNSYLVANIA JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Jennifer Philpott Wilson to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Wilson has been a lawyer at her family’s law firm in Duncannon, Pennsylvania, since 2009, and before that a tax trial attorney at the Justice Department from 2005 to 2009. The vote, on Nov. 7, was 88 yeas to 3 nays.
YEAS: Collins, King

SECOND APPEALS COURT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of William Joseph Nardini to serve as a judge on the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Nardini has been on the staff of the U.S. attorney’s office for Connecticut since 2000, and currently heads the office’s criminal division. The vote, on Nov. 7, was 86 yeas to 2 nays.
YEAS: Collins, King

Susan Rice says she won’t challenge GOP Sen. Collins in 2020

Rice told former Obama administration official Alyssa Mastromonaco at the 10th annual Women in the World Summit on Thursday in New York that she loves Maine and that her family has deep roots in the state. But she said she decided with her family “that the timing really isn’t right for us.”

NEW YORK — Susan Rice, who served as national security adviser under President Barack Obama, won’t be challenging Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine in 2020.

Rice told former Obama administration official Alyssa Mastromonaco at the 10th annual Women in the World Summit on Thursday in New York that she loves Maine and that her family has deep roots in the state. But she said she decided with her family “that the timing really isn’t right for us.”

Rice tantalized Democrats in October when she expressed interest in Collins’ seat during the contentious confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. She said at the time that Collins “betrayed women across this country” by supporting Kavanaugh.

Rice said during the event on Thursday that her daughter is going into her junior year of high school and that her family has already sacrificed for her.

“I’ve given this a lot of thought, and in the course of weighing it all, I’ve decided with my family that the timing really isn’t right for us,” she said.

Her announcement could free other Democrats to enter the race.

So far, no high-profile Democrat has announced a challenge to Collins next year. But the race is still early, and Collins herself hasn’t formally announced she’ll seek re-election.

Collins’ office had no immediate comment Thursday.

Collins is a self-described centrist in an era of increasingly polarized politics. First elected to the Senate in 1996, she’s now the last Republican member of Congress from New England.

Rice’s maternal grandparents emigrated from Jamaica to Maine in the 1910s. Her grandfather, David Augustus Dickson, worked as a shipper, porter and janitor. Rice’s grandmother, Mary Dickson, a maid and seamstress, was named Maine State Mother of the Year in 1950.

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Judge: Alex Acosta Broke Law in 2008 over Sex Abuser Jeffrey Epstein Plea Deal; #pizzagate

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Calls are growing for Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to resign, after a federal judge ruled Thursday that Acosta broke the law in 2008, while working as a federal prosecutor, for his role in securing a controversial plea deal for billionaire serial sexual abuser Jeffrey Epstein. The deal allowed Epstein to avoid a federal trial and possible life in prison, and effectively ended an FBI probe into the case, which alleged Epstein sexually abused and trafficked more than 30 underage girls. The plea deal was then sealed, in violation of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. A recent Miami Herald investigation described the deal as “one of the most lenient deals for a serial child sex offender in history.” The deal also gave immunity to Epstein’s co-conspirators. Epstein was known to socialize with many prominent figures, including Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew and Donald Trump.

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(Still free, still  wealthy. #pizzagate)

Maine man, Steven H. Downs, charged in 26-year Alaska cold-case rape and murder of Sophie Sergie

Alaska State Troopers announced Friday the arrest of 44-year-old Steven H. Downs, who is accused of murdering Sophie Sergie in April 1993.

Sergie was 20 years old on April 24, 1993, when she flew from her home of Pitkas Point to Fairbanks for an appointment and to visit friends, according to the Alaska Department of Public Safety. She planned to stay with a friend at a dormitory on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF).

Sergie’s flight back was scheduled for April 26. But she never made it home.

Authorities say Sergie was last seen alive shortly after midnight when she left the dorm to smoke a cigarette. She was found dead later that afternoon when a janitor discovered her body in a bathtub at Bartlett Hall.

An investigation showed Sergie had been sexually assaulted and murdered.

Suspect DNA was taken from the scene and uploaded into the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). Unfortunately, the profile was not on file and therefore the suspect remained unknown and at-large. Dozens of leads were developed, hundreds of interviews were conducted and many DNA samples were collected, however, none resulted in a matching profile.

Over the years, “despite the arduous and meticulous effort done by a variety of investigators,” a suspect was never identified, Alaska DPS said.

Finally, in April 2018, the “Golden State Killer” was arrested using genetic genealogy, prompting Alaska State Troopers’ Cold Case Unit to submit the unknown DNA profile from Sophie’s case two months later.

Genetic genealogy combines genetic analysis with traditional history and genealogical research to study family history.

When the results came back from Virginia-based Parabon Nanolabs, the CCU had a likely suspect for the first time in more than a quarter-century — and the person was alive, living 3,000 miles away on the opposite side of the country.

A follow-up investigation showed that Downs, who was 18 years old at the time of the killing, had not only been a student at UAF but lived in Bartlett Hall. The CCU then worked with Maine authorities.

A plan was implemented to contact and interview Downs, collect DNA and other evidence and search his Auburn residence for evidence of the crimes.

Downs was taken into custody 1 p.m. Friday at a local business in Auburn.

“While an arrest doesn’t bring Sophie back, we are relieved to provide this closure,” said Col. Barry Wilson, director of the Alaska State Troopers. “This case has haunted and frustrated Sophie’s family and friends, the investigators and beyond. However, we did it. Investigators never gave up on Sophie.”

Downs is being extradited to Alaska to face the charges.

The Auburn Police Department and Maine State Police, specifically its Unsolved Homicide Unit, Evidence Response Team and Tactical Team, assisted Alaska State Troopers with their investigation.

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