Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as the newest Supreme Court Justice at a private ceremony. Chief Justice John Roberts administered the constitutional oath and retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy administered the judicial oath, according to the Supreme Court.

The officials have so far provided no evidence or detail on how they arrived at this conclusion.
CNN has not been able to independently confirm these reports and has not been able to get a comment from the Saudi government on the reports.
Khashoggi has been missing since he entered the consulate in Turkey’s largest city on Tuesday, his fiancée and two other sources familiar with the event said.
Saudi Arabia has strenuously denied any involvement in his disappearance, calling the claims “false.” A Saudi official said Khashoggi exited the consulate shortly after he visited. The Saudis did not, however, release any surveillance footage or other proof Khashoggi had left.
Khashoggi’s fiancée, who has not been named, tweeted Saturday “Jamal was not killed and I do not believe he was killed.” She went with him to the consulate Tuesday but remained outside and never saw him emerge.

Turkey probing the disappearance

The Turkish government launched an investigation into the disappearance, according to Turkey’s state-run news agency Anadolu.
“His whereabouts and who is responsible will be uncovered,” Omer Celik, spokesman for Turkey’s ruling AK Party, said Saturday at a party meeting in Ankara, according to Anadolu.
Khashoggi’s disappearance comes amid a wave of arrests of Saudi critics of the kingdom’s leadership, steered by young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The crackdowns have targeted clerics, journalists, academics and activists, some of whom were detained outside Saudi Arabia.
A man enters the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Wednesday.

Turkish officials have said this week they believed Khashoggi remained inside the Saudi Consulate.
Wednesday, the crown prince told Bloomberg that he was willing to allow Turkey to search the consulate.
“The premises are sovereign territory, but we will allow them to enter and search and do whatever they want to do,” bin Salman told Bloomberg in an interview in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. “We have nothing to hide.”
Saturday, journalists were allowed to look around.

Khashoggi writes for Washington Post

Turkish police have reportedly examined surveillance footage from the area and said there is no sign of Khashoggi leaving the consulate, Turan Kislakci, the head of the Turkish Arab Media Association and a friend of Khashoggi’s, told CNN.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's policies were targeted in some of Khashoggi's work.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's policies were targeted in some of Khashoggi's work.

Khashoggi, known in part for his interview with terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, was a Saudi royal court insider before he left Saudi Arabia in 2017 for Washington. He began to contribute opinion pieces to The Washington Post that were critical of bin Salman’s policies, including his consolidation of power. He was named a contributing writer at the Post in January.
Khashoggi said the Saudi government had ordered him to stop using Twitter after he wrote a tweet cautioning against the leadership’s enthusiasm about Donald Trump, then the US president-elect.
“So I spent six months silent, reflecting on the state of my country and the stark choices before me. It was painful for me several years ago when several friends were arrested. I said nothing. I didn’t want to lose my job or my freedom. I worried about my family,” he wrote in a September 2017 Washington Post opinion piece titled “Saudi Arabia wasn’t always this repressive. Now it’s unbearable.”
“I have made a different choice now. I have left my home, my family and my job, and I am raising my voice. To do otherwise would betray those who languish in prison.”
Here’s where Kavanaugh, who was a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit for 12 years, stands on some hot-button issues:

Roe v. Wade and abortion rights

During his first round of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh said he views Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, as “important precedent of the Supreme Court” that has been “reaffirmed many times.” Yet he declined to say he would not vote to reverse Roe, saying that such a vow — on any case — would violate judicial norms.
He also defended a dissenting opinion he wrote last year when the full DC Circuit allowed a 17-year-old to end her pregnancy over objections from the Trump administration.
For Kavanaugh, a 'formative' job; but for senators, few records are available

In his dissent, Kavanaugh wrote the Supreme Court has held that “the government has permissible interests in favoring fetal life, protecting the best interests of a minor, and refraining from facilitating abortion.” He wrote that the high court has “held that the government may further those interests so long as it does not impose an undue burden on a woman seeking an abortion.” He said the majority opinion was “based on a constitutional principle as novel as it is wrong: a new right for unlawful immigrant minors in US government detention to obtain immediate abortion on demand.”
Overall, his testimony reinforced his past writings suggesting he would permit the government to more strictly regulate abortion, for example, with additional requirements that could delay the procedure or stiffer rules for physicians who would perform it.
Trump has long vowed to appoint justices who would reverse Roe and allow the states to determine whether abortion should be legal. Kennedy had been a swing vote in favor of abortion rights.

Executive branch authority

During his confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh declined to elaborate on his views on executive power or protections for a president who might face an investigation and subpoena.
When Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California asked Kavanaugh if a sitting president could be compelled to respond to a subpoena, he declined to offer his views. “I can’t give you an answer on that hypothetical question,” he said.
In a 2009 Minnesota Law Review article, Kavanaugh had written that “Congress might consider a law exempting a President — while in office — from criminal prosecution and investigation, including from questioning by criminal prosecutors or defense counsel.” In the same article, however, he noted, “If the President does something dastardly, the impeachment process is available.”
John Dean, Theodore Olson among witnesses for upcoming Kavanaugh hearings

John Dean, Theodore Olson among witnesses for upcoming Kavanaugh hearings

Agency power and government regulation

Kavanaugh has demonstrated a tendency toward suspicion of, rather than deference to, regulatory agency interpretations of federal laws.
“It’s all about the statute you write,” he emphasized to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, noting he would not impose new requirements — on businesses, for example — that Congress had not made explicit. That view, as Klobuchar noted, can limit regulatory safeguards on the job, environmental rules and consumer protection.
Kavanaugh’s views on government regulation may be best exemplified by his dissent in the case of a killer whale that attacked a SeaWorld trainer.
What the case of a killer whale tells us about Brett Kavanaugh

What the case of a killer whale tells us about Brett Kavanaugh

As Kavanaugh criticized a Labor Department move to sanction SeaWorld following the drowning of a trainer by the orca Tilikum, he declared that the agency had “stormed headlong into a new regulatory arena” and warned that regulators would try to impose new safety requirements on sports, the circus and more.
Overall, his view is that agencies should exercise authority as clearly spelled out in federal statutes and that judges should not, as occurred in the SeaWorld case, defer to agency interpretations that go beyond what’s explicit in a law.
In opinions and speeches, Kavanaugh has questioned a ruling in a 1984 Supreme Court case, Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, that said judges should defer to agency interpretations of ambiguous laws. That, he said in a 2017 speech, “encourages agency aggressiveness on a large scale.”

Religious liberty

Kavanaugh said generally during his hearings that “it’s important to recognize that the First Amendment to the Constitution, as well as many statutes, of course, protect religious liberty in the United States … and as I’ve said in some of my opinions, we are all equally American no matter what religion we are or no religion at all — and that means religious speakers and religious people have a right to their place in the public square.”
On the DC Circuit, Kavanaugh dissented in the 2015 case of Priests for Life v. Department of Health and Human Services, focused on a religious exemption to the Affordable Care Act. He dissented when the DC Circuit declined a full court review of a religious group’s objection to the process for employers seeking to opt out of the mandate to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives.
Priests for Life had challenged the process for certifying eligibility for exemptions, contending the paperwork involved burdened religious rights. Kavanaugh agreed, saying, “To plaintiffs, the act of submitting this form would, in their religious judgment, impermissibly facilitate delivery of contraceptive and abortifacient coverage.”
He said that rather than a form, the group could — as the Supreme Court had allowed in separate cases — be permitted to simply notify the secretary of health and human services in writing that it objects to providing coverage for contraceptives.

Second Amendment

In 2011, Kavanaugh dissented from a majority opinion of the DC Circuit that upheld a ban that applied to semiautomatic rifles in the District of Columbia.
In his dissent, he wrote that the Supreme Court had previously “held that handguns — the vast majority of which today are semiautomatic — are constitutionally protected because they have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens.”
Citing a previous high court ruling, Kavanaugh went on to say, “It follows from Heller‘s protection of semiautomatic handguns that semiautomatic rifles are also constitutionally protected and that DC’s ban on them is unconstitutional.”
Feinstein pressed Kavanaugh on his dissent during his confirmation hearings, asking, “What did you base your conclusion on that assault weapons are in common use?”
“I had to follow precedent,” Kavanaugh said, adding that “semiautomatic rifles are widely possessed in the United States … so that seemed to fit common use in not being a dangerous and unusual weapon. That was the basis of my dissent.”

Privacy and national security

In 2015, Kavanaugh wrote an opinion defending the US government’s controversial metadata collection program, in part citing national security considerations. He wrote that the program “is entirely consistent with the Fourth Amendment,” which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.
He wrote that the program “does not capture the content of communications, but rather the time and duration of calls and the numbers called,” and said it “serves a critically important special need — preventing terrorist attacks on the United States.” Kavanaugh argued “that critical national security need outweighs the impact on privacy occasioned by this program.”

Net neutrality

In a 2017 dissent, Kavanaugh said he believed that Obama-era net neutrality regulations were “unlawful” and wrote that the policy violated the First Amendment.
At issue were rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission in 2015 to more strictly regulate the Internet. The rules, based on the principle of “net neutrality,” were intended to provide equal opportunity for Internet speeds and access to websites. In a May 2017 order, a majority of the DC Circuit declined to review an earlier decision siding with the FCC. Under the Trump administration, the FCC has since moved to dismantle the regulation.
Kavanaugh pick was scripted end to Trump's reality show

Kavanaugh pick was scripted end to Trump's reality show

Kavanaugh wrote in his 2017 dissenting opinion that the regulation was consequential and “transforms the Internet.” But he said the rule “impermissibly infringes on the Internet service providers’ editorial discretion,” and he suggested the FCC had overreached in issuing the regulation. “Congress did not clearly authorize the FCC to issue the net neutrality rule,” he wrote.
David Yaffe, president of the center in Fairfax County, Virginia, said 19 white swastikas were spray-painted on the building early Saturday. Yaffe told CNN the community was shocked the first time, but is not shocked this time.
“This is getting to be a regular thing — it’s in the air around us, in the country around us,” Yaffe said. “There are expressions of support but they are tinged with fatigue. It’s hard to jump up and down when it happens that regularly and frequently. How much outrage can you sustain for that long period of time?”
Police in Fairfax County, about 14 miles west of Washington, said community center staff discovered the swastikas around 8 a.m. Saturday. Surveillance video shows a suspect spray-painting the building around 4:30 a.m.
“As many of us recognize, these acts do not represent the community around the J or the community in Northern Virginia,” community center officials said in a statement.
Eugenie, 28, is set to marry Jack Brooksbank at St. George’s Chapel, where her cousin, Prince Harry, wed Meghan Markle earlier this year.
Trumpeters from the band of the Household Cavalry will perform a fanfare during the service that was written especially for the occasion, the palace announced.
State trumpeters from the Household Cavalry Band will perform a fanfare during the upcoming wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, Buckingham Palace announced Saturday.

As the couple depart the chapel, the steps will be lined with members of the Grenadier Guards. Eugenie’s father, Prince Andrew, is a colonel with the guards.
The wedding cake will be red velvet and chocolate, meant to reflect “the rich colors of autumn,” the palace said. London-based cake designer Sophie Cabot, originally a costume designer, will create the cake.
Eugenie and her older sister, Princess Beatrice, are the children of Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, the Duke and Duchess of York.
In an interview with the BBC after announcing their engagement, Eugenie said she met Brooksbank, who has a background in hospitality, when she was 20 and he was 24. He said in the interview it was “love at first sight.”
Trump is visiting Topeka for a Saturday evening fundraiser and rally for Kris Kobach, the controversial secretary of state running for Kansas governor, and Steve Watkins, the GOP nominee in a key congressional race there.
Aboard Air Force One on the way to Kansas, Trump mocked protesters outside the Supreme Court who opposed the confirmation of Kavanaugh, who faced allegations of sexual assault.
Trump tweeted: “The crowd in front of the U.S. Supreme Court is tiny, looks like about 200 people (& most are onlookers) – that wouldn’t even fill the first couple of rows of our Kansas Rally, or any of our Rallies for that matter! The Fake News Media tries to make it look sooo big, & it’s not!”
Trump told reporters aboard the flight he is certain one of Kavanaugh’s accusers, California professor Christine Blasey Ford, named the wrong person when she identified Kavanaugh as the man who assaulted her when the two were in high school.
“I’m a hundred percent. I’m a 100%. I have no doubt,” he said.
Trump also called Kavanaugh, as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, en route to Kansas, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.
Kobach, a strident advocate for strict voting laws, is best known for backing Trump’s unproven claims of widespread voter fraud. He led Trump’s commission that investigated voter fraud — ultimately failing to uncover evidence to back the President’s claims.
Watkins is running against Democrat Paul Davis in the 2nd District race. It’s one of two competitive House contests in Kansas — with Democrat Sharice Davids in the Kansas City-based 3rd District hoping to oust GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder, who will not be attending Saturday night’s rally.
David Gergen

James Piltch

James Piltch

Perhaps — but that day now seems far away, almost beyond our imaginations. This struggle over the fate of the next Supreme Court justice has inflicted deep wounds upon our body politic that may need a generation or longer to heal. Tragically, it didn’t have to be this way.
In an earlier day, the two parties would have looked for ways to reconcile their differences, seriously addressing the underlying issues and protecting the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. But in this case, neither party rose to the occasion.
Democrats took every opportunity to disparage Kavanaugh about things that had little to do with the alleged assault. Republicans, who controlled this process and could have sought compromise, used brute force to get their way and, in doing so, showed little regard for the pain so many women were rightfully expressing.
The result leaves the Supreme Court without a swing vote for possibly decades to come and leaves many women legitimately wondering if powerful political leaders in Washington care about their experiences with sexual assault.
For those with long memories, also distressing was something else, captured in Susan Collins’ speech justifying her yes vote: that our bipartisan tradition, one that has deteriorated severely in the last several years, is all but dead.
After Kavanaugh, what have we learned?

After Kavanaugh, what have we learned?

Many are angry at Collins for the way she voted. But if she genuinely believes Kavanaugh to be innocent and genuinely believes that he will be a check on President Trump, then one can’t begrudge the vote on the judicial merits.
What was concerning, though, was that Collins, emerging as the decisive vote, chose not to exercise her power to walk in the footsteps of her hero, the late congresswoman from Maine, Margaret Chase Smith. Instead, she chose to go along with, and even to feed into, the rank partisanship and power politics that defined this process and have dominated American politics recently
Margaret Chase Smith, serving in the Senate in an era of similar (or even worse) political dysfunction and nastiness, did not stand by idly and ignore that issue. On June 1st, 1950, Smith took to the Senate floor and gave her famous speech, “Declaration of Conscience.” Many — including Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley — remember that speech as Senator Smith denouncing fellow GOP Senator Joe McCarthy, and that is precisely what it was.
But Smith’s words were much more than that. That day, Smith stood up to her entire party. She made it clear that winning the wrong way was much worse than losing the right way.
How the Democrats got outplayed on Kavanaugh

How the Democrats got outplayed on Kavanaugh

She declared, “I think that it is high time for the United States Senate and its members to do some real soul-searching and to weigh our consciences as to the manner in which we are performing our duty to the people of America and the manner in which we are using or abusing our individual powers and privileges.”
She went on to reprimand her fellow Republicans for their role in that system: “To displace [the Democratic Party] with a Republican regime embracing a philosophy that lacks political integrity or intellectual honesty would prove equally disastrous to the nation.” And finally, she asked Republicans to take a pledge: “We are Republicans. But we are Americans first.”
In her speech on Friday, Collins was right to point out that the Democrats made some important mistakes in the Kavanaugh process. They sat too long on the initial claims by Christine Blasey Ford and leaked her letter without her permission. They tried to incite their base, a group that already had legitimate, organic reasons for anger, and failed to acknowledge the lack of definitive evidence that would have proven Kavanaugh undoubtedly guilty.
On Kavanaugh, the spotlight is on Democrats now

On Kavanaugh, the spotlight is on Democrats now

But if she wanted to keep bipartisanship alive and find the best possible outcome for the Supreme Court and country, why did she not also condemn the egregious mistakes of her own party, the party that now controls all three branches of government? She should have criticized her fellow Republicans for the withholding of documents and the empty FBI “investigation.”
She should have decried the GOP’s rush to judgment and ignoring of Ford’s own right to due process. Surely, she should have rejected President Trump’s ugly taunting of Ford and the awful theory put forth that another man was the one guilty of Ford’s assault.
To use such a pivotal moment, with all the eyes and cameras on her, to critique just one side and cast doubt on Ford’s words was not what Americans needed. Citizens and politicians alike needed to hear an honest accounting of how this process became so ugly. We needed to be reminded not only of the way Democrats tried to block Kavanaugh but also of how Republicans blocked Merrick Garland (one of the most qualified nominees to the Supreme Court) without giving him a hearing at all.
This was worse than what the Senate did to Anita Hill

This was worse than what the Senate did to Anita Hill

Yes, Democrats ginned up anger towards Kavanaugh with “dark money” long before these allegations, but a fair-minded analysis would have pointed out how Judicial Watch spent millions to support him and then demean Ford. And yes, Democrats should not have spoken to Judge Kavanaugh the way they did during the first Senate hearing—but he also was wrong to sarcastically question Sen. Amy Klobuchar the way he did.
This piece is not to take anything away from Susan Collins. Other senators could have taken action, too, and she is a fine person who on more occasions than most, has acted bravely in putting country above party. But if we now want to restore our bipartisan tradition and regrow needed trust in our political institutions, all Americans need to remember the Margaret Chase Smiths of our past and, in moments of national testing, draw strength from their profiles in courage.
If one leader had done that, this process did not have to, and would not have, ended this way. Instead, Americans must reckon with a Senate and Supreme Court now defined by partisanship.
The jury came to this conclusion after hearing testimony for more than two weeks, and after deliberating for more than seven hours.
Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke found guilty of second-degree murder in Laquan McDonald killing

The critical legal issue was whether Officer Van Dyke was justified in killing the African-American teen back on October 20, 2014. They concluded that he was not.
One could only wonder what Officer Van Dyke was thinking when he took McDonald’s life.
Why did he jump out of his police cruiser and start firing his service weapon in the first place — much less six seconds after arriving upon the scene? Other officers at the scene stayed in their cars. Why didn’t he? No other officers discharged their firearms. Why did Van Dyke?
What was his rush? Why didn’t he make an effort to de-escalate the situation? Why not allow McDonald more of an opportunity to comply? Why did he feel he was in danger when McDonald was so far away from him? Why did he shoot to kill when McDonald was not advancing toward him?
These are just some of the many questions that apparently troubled the jury and led to Van Dyke’s conviction.
Jurors: Jason Van Dyke's testimony was too rehearsed

Jurors: Jason Van Dyke's testimony was too rehearsed

The narrative spun by the defense was predicated upon a spirited attack on Laquan McDonald’s character that painted the deceased as a villain. Officer Van Dyke himself had pointed to what he characterized as McDonald’s bugged-out eyes that he never lost sight of, and that seemed to be “staring right through me.” Additionally, the defense highlighted the PCP that was found in McDonald’s system, his troubled youth and his failure to obey police commands to drop the knife before being shot.
In doing so, the defense sought to put McDonald on trial, while arguing that Officer Van Dyke perceived him to represent a deadly and immediate threat. It was the standard police refrain: The officer feared for his life, and the victim was a really bad guy who failed to obey commands. That line of attack was about as commonplace as police shootings of African-American men — in Chicago and across the country. And alas, it failed.
So too, did the defense fail to adequately explain why 16 bullets were necessary to end the supposed “threat” posed by the black youth. Notably, he was multiple feet away from Officer Van Dyke, with a knife, not a gun.
The jury also held Van Dyke accountable for this misconduct as well. He was found guilty of 16 counts of aggravated battery — one for each shot.
Chicago police, activists and businesses prepare for verdict in officer's trial in Laquan McDonald killing

Chicago police, activists and businesses prepare for verdict in officer's trial in Laquan McDonald killing

Officer Van Dyke did not do himself much good with his own testimony. His version of events includes the teen attempting to rise from the ground while still pointing the knife at the officers on the scene after being shot. Importantly, the dashcam video seems to tell entirely another story.
Recognizing this, the defense attempted to shift the focus to Officer Van Dyke’s perceptions, and away from the facts. It even presented expert testimony to explain his level of anxiety, why his perceptions might differ from reality and how any inconsistent statements he made to authorities after the shooting were understandable and excusable. Van Dyke tried to explain this inaccuracy by saying he was “in shock.” Hmmm.
And as to the knife, Van Dyke specified that McDonald raised it across his chest. The video, however, seems to show McDonald with both hands at his side. Van Dyke goes on to say that McDonald was still pointing the knife at him while on the ground. The video, however, shows McDonald lying motionless. That same video contradicts Van Dyke’s core contention that McDonald was approaching him at the time he was shot. To the contrary, the video shows him moving in a different direction.
'Stand your ground' laws encourage racially charged violence

'Stand your ground' laws encourage racially charged violence

Officer Van Dyke made still more assertions in his testimony that just didn’t seem to square with the facts. For starters, he claimed that he and McDonald never lost eye contact. Yet, the encounter happened in the dead of night and McDonald was multiple feet away. Strange how he was able to see McDonald’s eyes so well, especially given his vivid description of what McDonald was doing with the knife. Common sense would suggest that’s what Van Dyke was focusing upon.
The prosecution, for its part, pressed its theory that there was no immediate threat, and that the force used was grossly disproportionate to what the situation demanded. Nothing made that point more convincingly than the fact that there were about 10 other officers on the scene, and Van Dyke was the only one who used his weapon. Other officers provided testimony noting that they did not share Van Dyke’s fear nor safety concern. And that was damning.
The jury spoke volumes with its verdict. This time, the magic argument that an officer feared for his life and just had to shoot did not work. On these facts, it was hard to see how it would. Justice was served. Moving forward, may justice continue to be served whenever an officer dishonors their badge by failing to protect and serve.
Mattress Firm filed for bankruptcy on Friday to escape hundreds of leases it could no longer afford in suburban shopping malls and on city streets.
Mattress Firm has more than 3,300 stores across the country, and it plans to quickly shutter 200 of them. By the end of the year, the company may close up to 500 more.
Mattress Firm’s struggles have been, in part, self-inflicted. The company failed to recognize that its marketplace was moving online until it was too late. It misjudged what shoppers demanded — convenience and low prices — and ignored the threat digital upstarts like Casper posed to its grip on the industry.
The company was constrained by its decision to buy retail chain Sleepy’s in 2015 for $780 million. Instead of investing in digital tools and shipping infrastructure, Mattress Firm expanded its store base at exactly the wrong moment.
“This transformational acquisition unites the nation’s two largest mattress specialty retailers, providing customers with convenience, value and choice,” Mattress Firm’s chief executive Steve Stagner said at the time.
But taking on more than 1,000 Sleepy’s stores left Mattress Firm over-retailed. As store traffic slowed, costly leases turned into an albatross around Mattress Firm’s neck.
In a Chapter 11 filing, Stanger said that his company had “too many locations in close proximity to each other.”
Mattress Firm built out its stores as an effective online direct-to-consumer model began to emerge.
Casper, as well as Tuft & Needle, Leesa, Purple, and Yogabed, took advantage of retailers clinging to the status quo by offering shoppers a new solution for their bedding needs: shipping mattresses in a box to their homes for no added costs.
“Traditional mattress retailers have been alienating customers for decades and are now buckling under pressure,” Philip Krim, Casper’s co-founder and CEO, said in an email. “Casper has turned a tired industry on its head with innovative products and a superior shopping experience.”
Casper believed that shoppers had grown weary of the traditional mattress-buying experience: going into a store, testing out a handful of mattresses for a few minutes, and rushing to a decision about an expensive item designed to last for years. Customers were also turned off by complicated and expensive delivery options.
The company gained attention online with customers posting viral videos of themselves unboxing mattresses, racking up $100 million in sales in 2015.
Casper distinguished its business by pricing the only mattress it sold at the time below traditional competitors, as well as offering free delivery and a 100-day trial period at home.
Casper offered just three varieties of mattresses, which gave it an advantage over stores that sold a confusing array of soft mattresses, firm, foam, springy, and everything in between.
“Consumers have long gone into traditional mattress stores feeling uninformed and have been subject to ridiculous price points,” Bob Phibbs, CEO of the consultancy Retail Doctor, told CNN Business in August.
Casper continued selling direct-to-consumer online, moving into bed frames, sheets, pillows, and dog mattresses, and it partnered with retailers like Nordstrom, Target, and West Elm to increase distribution.
By the time Mattress Firm launched its own bed-in-a-box brand Tulo in 2017, it was too deep in debt to escape its troubles.
The rise of online companies wasn’t the only source of pressure on Mattress Firm.
Walmart has come out with its own brand: Allswell. Last week, Amazon debuted its own memory foam mattress under its AmazonBasics line.
In addition, a top Mattress Firm supplier, Tempur Sealy International, stopped selling to the company over a pricing dispute. And Mattress Firm’s parent company, Steinhoff International, has been bogged down with accounting woes that forced its CEO to resign last year.
Still, physical retail remains an important component of the mattress market.
In August, Casper announced it would open 200 stores in the next three years in an attempt to build loyalty with current shoppers and reach new ones.
Mattress Firm hopes a slimmed down store footing will allow it to remain relevant with shoppers who need a new bed.
“The process we have initiated today will allow us to strengthen our balance sheet and accelerate the optimization of our store portfolio,” said CEO Stagner.
Trump is visiting Topeka for a Saturday evening fundraiser and rally for Kris Kobach, the controversial secretary of state running for Kansas governor, and Steve Watkins, the GOP nominee in a key congressional race there.
Aboard Air Force One on the way to Kansas, Trump mocked protesters outside the Supreme Court who opposed the confirmation of Kavanaugh, who faced allegations of sexual assault.
Trump tweeted: “The crowd in front of the U.S. Supreme Court is tiny, looks like about 200 people (& most are onlookers) – that wouldn’t even fill the first couple of rows of our Kansas Rally, or any of our Rallies for that matter! The Fake News Media tries to make it look sooo big, & it’s not!”
Trump told reporters aboard the flight he is certain one of Kavanaugh’s accusers, California professor Christine Blasey Ford, named the wrong person when she identified Kavanaugh as the man who assaulted her when the two were in high school.
“I’m a hundred percent. I’m a 100%. I have no doubt,” he said.
Trump also called Kavanaugh, as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, en route to Kansas, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.
Kobach, a strident advocate for strict voting laws, is best known for backing Trump’s unproven claims of widespread voter fraud. He led Trump’s commission that investigated voter fraud — ultimately failing to uncover evidence to back the President’s claims.
Watkins is running against Democrat Paul Davis in the 2nd District race. It’s one of two competitive House contests in Kansas — with Democrat Sharice Davids in the Kansas City-based 3rd District hoping to oust GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder, who will not be attending Saturday night’s rally.