Monday . 18 March . 2019
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Brett Kavanaugh, Instagram, Bill Cosby: Your Tuesday Briefing

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Good morning.

Here’s what you need to know:

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, appearing on Fox News on Monday night, declared that he would not withdraw from consideration for the Supreme Court, vowing to fight what he called “smears,” after two women accused him of sexual impropriety.

Joined by his wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, the judge addressed the accusation by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who says he assaulted her when they were teenagers: “The truth is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone, in high school or otherwise,” he said.

He and Dr. Blasey are scheduled to testify on Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The interview: It was the first time in memory that a Supreme Court nominee submitted to a TV interview before the confirmation vote. Read excerpts from a transcript.

The politics: Democrats are hoping to defeat Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination and to win control of the Senate in November. Doing so would enable them to block President Trump’s future Supreme Court nominations.

President Trump, who is in New York for the annual session of the U.N. General Assembly, said he would meet on Thursday with his deputy attorney general, after much of Washington — including Mr. Rosenstein himself — was convinced that he would be fired on Monday.

The drama unfolded after The Times reported last week that Mr. Rosenstein had considered secretly taping the president and had discussed using the 25th Amendment to remove him from office. Mr. Rosenstein called the report “inaccurate.”

What’s at stake: As the top Justice Department official overseeing the investigation by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, Mr. Rosenstein has long been a target of Mr. Trump’s complaints. Mr. Rosenstein has repeatedly backed Mr. Mueller.

The annual meeting of the General Assembly opened in New York City on Monday against a backdrop of turmoil for President Trump, who was asked almost immediately about the accusations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The president called them “totally political.”

Later, an announcement by Mr. Trump about talks with North Korea was quickly overshadowed by questions about his deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein. The president is scheduled to address the U.N. today. Here are the latest updates.

Iran nuclear talks: President Hassan Rouhani, in New York for the meetings, said he would reopen nuclear talks with Washington only if Mr. Trump reversed his decision to back out of the 2015 deal.

In Moscow: As tensions with Israel escalate, Russia announced that it would supply Syria with an advanced air missile system. Doing so could increase the risks of an air war there.

Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom, who started the photo-sharing app in 2010, resigned on Monday and plan to leave in the coming weeks.

They didn’t give a reason for stepping down, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter, but plan to take time off.

Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion, and it has been one of the social media company’s most successful acquisitions. At the time of the deal, the app had about 30 million users, a number that has since ballooned to more than a billion.

Why it matters: The founders’ departures create uncertainty at a time when Facebook faces some of the biggest crises of its 14-year history.

Prosecutors have asked that the disgraced entertainer be handed the maximum prison term possible: 10 years. (He had faced a sentence of up to 30 years, but on Monday, Judge Steven O’Neill merged the three counts of aggravated indecent assault he was convicted of into one.)

What to watch for: He is likely to be incarcerated, experts say, though it is unclear for how long. Read more here.

Hotel workers are worried about robots at the front desk. As technologies threaten to displace service workers, unions are making job protection and new opportunities a priority in contract talks.

Dallas police officer is fired

Amber Guyger had been charged with manslaughter over the fatal shooting of her neighbor inside his apartment this month.

The killing of Botham Shem Jean, an unarmed black man, led to protests against police brutality.

Poaching in the cross hairs

What we’re reading

Michael Roston, an editor for our Science section, recommends this article in GQ: “A community of wealthy Americans who don’t want to pay their federal income taxes has found a haven in Puerto Rico. This offers a very interesting look at where and how they live.”

William Faulkner, born on this day in 1897 in New Albany, Miss., won two Pulitzers and the Nobel Prize in Literature. His Southern-rooted fiction, heartbreaking, dark and perverse, is often remembered for its long, winding sentences. His work appears in almost every listing of the best American novels.

What’s less known about Faulkner is that he was a devotee of mysteries — Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, Dorothy L. Sayers — and that he tried his hand at the genre.

William Faulkner in 1962.CreditNeal Boenzi/The New York Times

In 1946, he won second prize in the annual Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine contest, for the story “An Error in Chemistry.” (Its big reveal involved a whiskey toddy).

The story later appeared in “Knight’s Gambit,” a mystery collection by Faulkner featuring a mild-mannered yet shrewd country lawyer from Mississippi. Reviews were mixed, but The Times gave it a thumbs up.

Faulkner rarely discussed his love of mysteries, perhaps considering them lowbrow, but he seemed to understand their importance to his writing.

A friend recalled visiting a library with him, so Faulkner could “exchange a stack of mystery stories for a new stack. I asked him, ‘Why do you read all of these damn mysteries?’ and he said, ‘Bud, no matter what you write, it’s a mystery of one kind or another.’ ”

Nancy Wartik wrote today’s Back Story.

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Follow Chris Stanford on Twitter: @stanfordc.

Mary Hui and Jillian Rayfield contributed reporting.




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