Amerika

Matt Gaetz Scandal

Wingman Joel Greenberg paid dozens of young women — and a 17-year-old

As new details emerge about Rep. Matt Gaetz’s role in an alleged sex ring, The Daily Beast has obtained several documents showing that the suspected ringleader of the group, Joel Greenberg, made more than 150 Venmo payments to dozens of young women, and a girl who was 17 at the time. The payment from Greenberg, an accused sex trafficker, to the 17-year-old took place in June 2017. It was for $300 for “Food.” Greenberg’s relationship with Gaetz, and the money Greenberg paid to women, is a focal point for the Justice Department investigation into Gaetz.

Republican Party

Donald Trump digs in on attacks against Republican leaders

Former President Trump is showing no signs of wanting to unify the GOP even as party leaders scramble to smooth out divisions that they fear will be damaging in the 2022 midterm elections. In a Saturday night speech to attendees at a donor retreat in Florida, Trump railed against his perceived enemies in both parties and offered little, if any, reassurance that he would try to rally together a GOP riddled with internal divisions and desperate to regain governing power in Washington.

Sex Scandal

Matt Gaetz named as subject of House Ethics Committee probe

The House Ethics Committee said it has begun an investigation into allegations involving Rep. Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.), citing a host of alleged abuses including sexual misconduct, the sharing of inappropriate images or videos on the House floor and the improper conversion of campaign funds to personal use.

SCOTUS

Joe Biden establishes commission to study expanding Supreme Court

President Biden signed an executive order Friday establishing a commission to study whether to add seats to the Supreme Court and other reform proposals, the White House announced, fulfilling a promise he made on the campaign trail. The commission will be chaired by former White House counsel Bob Bauer and Cristina Rodriguez, a Yale law school professor and former deputy assistant attorney general, and largely consists of academics and former officials from across the political spectrum.

Election Fraud

Feds told that Gaetz, lobbyist discussed running sham candidate in state Senate race

Federal investigators were told that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) discussed running a sham candidate in the 2020 state Senate race with a lobbyist, two people familiar with the matter told The New York Times. The Times reported that the Florida Republican discussed the possibility of running a sham candidate with lobbyist Christ Dorworth to help Jason Brodeur, an associate of Gaetz’s, win an open seat in the Florida state Senate.

Sex Scandal

'Matt Gaetz wants to date your child' billboard appears in Florida

A billboard has appeared in Florida taking aim at the federal sex trafficking investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). The ads were paid for by the liberal Mad Dog PAC. Claude Taylor, former staffer in former President Clinton’s White House who chairs the PAC, shared a video of the billboard with the caption “Hello, @mattgaetz, any thoughts on our billboard? Reporters are trying to reach to you for your comments.”

Sex Scandal

Matt Gaetz reported to have sought a ‘blanket’ pardon from Donald Trump

Rep. Matt Gaetz allegedly sought a “blanket” presidential pardon from Donald Trump in the closing weeks of his administration — a request which was ultimately not fulfilled, according to news reports. The request for a blanket preemptive pardon for the Florida Republican and unidentified congressional allies, first reported on Tuesday night by The New York Times, came as the Justice Department was opening an investigation into whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old and paid for her to travel across state lines.

Debra Haaland

Secretary create unit to investigate missing and murdered Native Americans

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, the U.S.’ first Indigenous cabinet secretary, will create a unit within the Bureau of Indian Affairs to investigate missing and murdered Native Americans, the department announced Thursday evening. There are some 1,500 American Indian and Alaska natives in the National Crime Information Center’s database of missing persons, while about 2,700 murders and nonnegligent homicides have been reported to the federal Uniform Crime Reporting program.

Kevin McCarthy

GOP leader says Gaetz would lose committee seat if charges true

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Wednesday that GOP leaders will remove Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) from his committee assignments if he's found to be guilty of sex trafficking, a case currently under investigation by the Justice Department. But McCarthy suggested Gaetz would remain on those panels, which include the powerful Judiciary Committee, during the course of the DOJ's investigation.

Ivanka Trump

Flagship policy program slammed by government auditors

The Government Accountability Office has issued a damning report about Ivanka Trump’s pet project during her time as an adviser to her father, President Donald Trump. As Ivanka Trump traveled the world talking up the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, a whole-of-government women’s empowerment initiative, deep problems were developing in the implementation of the bipartisan Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act of 2018.

45office.com

Donald Trump uses new website to rewrite the history of his terrible presidency

Donald Trump has launched a new website celebrating his time as US president that includes a very selective retelling of the history of his time in office. 45office.com is billed as a platform for his supporters to stay in touch and a place where Trump will continue his “America first” campaign. The centerpiece of the site is an 885-word history of the Trump presidency, listing the achievements of what it describes as “the most extraordinary political movement in history”. It says he dethroned political dynasties, defeated “the Washington establishment” and “overcame virtually every entrenched power structure”.

Immigration

Biden administration fires most Homeland Security Advisory Council members

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas fired most members of the department’s independent advisory council on Friday, a purge that included several allies of former president Donald Trump and veteran officials who served under both parties.

Cleta Mitchell

Key Republican lawyer in voter restriction effort advised Trump

A Republican lawyer who advised Donald Trump on his campaign to overturn the 2020 election results is now playing a central role coordinating the Republican effort to tighten voting laws around the country. The moves comes as Trump himself signaled his support for new Republican-pushed legislation in Georgia which critics have slammed as being a major blow to voting rights for communities of color, especially Black voters. Joe Biden called the Georgia laws “Jim Crow in the 21st Century” and “an atrocity”.

Voter Suppression

Biden urges to pass election reform in wake of Georgia voting restrictions

President Joe Biden slammed Georgia's new voting restrictions, calling them 21st-century “Jim Crow” and urging Congress to pass election reform bills. “This law, like so many others being pursued by Republicans in statehouses across the country is a blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience,” Biden said in a statement Friday afternoon. “This is Jim Crow in the 21st Century. It must end. We have a moral and Constitutional obligation to act.” Biden also urged Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

White House

Biden’s first press conference tackles filibuster, immigration, COVID-19

President Biden said the U.S. might not meet a May 1 deadline to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, signaled support for changes to the legislative filibuster and said his administration would double its goal for the number of Covid-19 shots administered in his first 100 days. In a wide-ranging hourlong press conference Thursday, his first since taking office, Mr. Biden said he didn’t expect U.S. troops would still be in Afghanistan in 2022, but he was equivocal about the timeline for a withdrawal.

Gavin Newsom

California governor picks Rob Bonta as first Filipino attorney general

California’s governor has nominated a state assemblyman known for pushing criminal justice reform to be the state’s next attorney general. Rob Bonta, a Democrat, would replace Xavier Becerra, who was confirmed last week as Joe Biden’s health and human services secretary. Pending likely confirmation by the state’s Democratic legislature, Bonta would hold the job through 2022, when he would have to run for election.

Gavin Newsom

Adam Schiff will not become California’s next attorney general

Gov. Gavin Newsom has decided against appointing the Los Angeles area congressman to lead the state’s law enforcement agency, a post recently vacated by Xavier Becerra when he was confirmed to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. It is not yet known whom Newsom has chosen for the AG role, though a formal announcement is expected soon.

Donald Trump

Lawyer says ‘no reasonable person’ would believe her election lies

A key member of the legal team that sought to steal the 2020 election for Donald Trump is defending herself against a billion-dollar defamation lawsuit by arguing that “no reasonable person” could have mistaken her wild claims about election fraud last November as statements of fact.

Boulder Mass Shooting

Joe Biden urges Congress to pass assault weapon ban

President Biden on Tuesday called on Congress to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and to close loopholes in the background check system after a gunman killed 10 people at a grocery store in Boulder, Colo. “I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common sense steps that will save lives in the future and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act,” Biden said in remarks at the White House following Monday’s shooting. “We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again. I got that done when I was a senator. … We should do it again.”

Ted Cruz

'I don't apologize for thoughts or prayers' for shooting victims

In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Cruz talked about the ways the United States could prevent shootings like the ones seen in Atlanta and Boulder, Colo., that occurred almost one week apart. The Texas senator said that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has a "long" and "indefensible" practice of not "prosecuting felons and fugitives" who try to illegally purchase firearms.

Donald Trump

Ending the filibuster would be 'catastrophic' for Republican Party

Former President Trump is warning Republicans that any effort to abolish the Senate filibuster would cause irreparable damage to the party. During an interview on the podcast “The Truth with Lisa Boothe," Trump discussed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his attempts to fight off talk from progressives to eliminate the longstanding filibuster rule.

Georgia

Trump looks to take down Raffensperger

Former President Donald Trump on Monday endorsed Rep. Jody Hice in a campaign to unseat Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in next year’s Republican primary, saying that "unlike" the incumbent, "Jody leads out front with integrity."

Shortnews

Fox & Friends

Harry and Meghan cause for Prince Philip's death

Minutes after the British royal family announced that Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, Prince Philip, had died at the age of 99, the sleuths at Fox & Friends blamed their inevitable culprits: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Host Brian Kilmeade immediately linked the death of the extremely old and sickly Duke of Edinburgh to Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, which aired last month and contained shocking claims of racism and cruel treatment against Meghan by royal family members.

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Fox & Friends

Harry and Meghan cause for Prince Philip's death

Minutes after the British royal family announced that Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, Prince Philip, had died at the age of 99, the sleuths at Fox & Friends blamed their inevitable culprits: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Host Brian Kilmeade immediately linked the death of the extremely old and sickly Duke of Edinburgh to Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, which aired last month and contained shocking claims of racism and cruel treatment against Meghan by royal family members.

Kilmeade said on Friday’s show: “There are reports that [Philip] was enraged after the interview and the fallout from the interview with Oprah Winfrey, so here he is trying to recover and he’s hit with that.”

Kilmeade then went on to cite Piers Morgan, of all people, as evidence that Philip’s health was hit by the Oprah interview. Morgan resigned in disgrace from his show, Good Morning Britain, after thousands of people complained about his repeated attacks on Meghan. The low point came when he said didn’t believe her admission that she felt suicidal.

The Fox & Friends host said: “Piers Morgan was saying on his morning show, which he famously walked off of, is like ‘Really? Your grandfather is in the hospital, you know he’s not doing well, is this really the time you have to put out this interview?’ Evidently, it definitely added to his stress.”

Philip left his London hospital after a month-long stay for treatment of an unspecified infection. He also underwent a procedure for a pre-existing heart condition in that time. He was also 99 years old.

Ghislaine Maxwell

New charges as US prosecutors expand criminal case

Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of aiding in her former partner Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of minor girls, faces two more charges, a new Manhattan federal court indictment filed on Monday reveals. This indictment also identified a new accuser in the case, referred to as “minor victim-4” in court papers, and expanded the timeframe of Maxwell’s alleged participation in Epstein’s abuse by seven years – from 1994 to 2004, rather than from 1994 to 1997. Maxwell now faces a total of eight counts.

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Ghislaine Maxwell

New charges as US prosecutors expand criminal case

Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite accused of aiding in her former partner Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of minor girls, faces two more charges, a new Manhattan federal court indictment filed on Monday reveals. This indictment also identified a new accuser in the case, referred to as “minor victim-4” in court papers, and expanded the timeframe of Maxwell’s alleged participation in Epstein’s abuse by seven years – from 1994 to 2004, rather than from 1994 to 1997. Maxwell now faces a total of eight counts.

The new charges, sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking of a minor, involve “minor victim-4”.

The indictment alleges that “minor victim-4” was “recruited to provide Epstein with sexualized massages” that he or his associates – including Maxwell – paid for.

Maxwell allegedly met “minor victim-4” at Epstein’s south Florida home around 2001, when the girl was around 14-years-old, and “interacted with [her] on multiple occasions”, according to court papers.

During their interactions, which happened from 2001 to 2004, Maxwell allegedly “groomed minor victim – 4 to engage in sexual acts with Epstein through multiple means.”

Maxwell did so by asking “minor victim-4” about her family and life. She “also sought to normalize inappropriate and abusive conduct by, among other things, discussing sexual topics in front of minor victim-4 and being present when minor victim-4 was nude in the massage room of the Palm Beach residence,” according to the court documents.

On multiple occasions from 2001 to 2004, this victim gave Epstein nude massages, during which he “engaged in multiple sex acts” with her. Maxwell would sometimes call this victim to schedule these massages, court papers allege.

During this timeframe, Epstein and Maxwell invited her to travel with him, and said they would help her get a passport. She declined their offer.

The court papers also allege that during this period, Epstein’s staff, including Maxwell, sent the victim gifts – such as lingerie – at her Florida home.

Maxwell and Epstein were both accused of encouraging this girl “to recruit other young females to provide sexualized massages to Epstein”.

She did so, the indictment claims, by bringing “multiple females, including girls under the age of 18” to Epstein’s south Florida home.

“On such occasions, both minor victim-4 and the girl she brought were paid hundreds of dollars in cash,” court papers state.

Maxwell has maintained her innocence since her arrest last summer at a secluded luxury home in New Hampshire.

When Maxwell was arrested, she faced six counts, including conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and perjury.

Her attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new charges.

She is being held in federal detention in Brooklyn.

Epstein, a convicted sex offender, was found dead in his cell in federal custody in New York in August 2019, where he was awaiting trial on serious charges just over a month after his arrest on charges of sex trafficking girls as young as 14.

Epstein and Maxwell’s arrests have spurred intense scrutiny of Prince Andrew, who was a friend of both purported sex traffickers.

Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s many accusers, alleged in a civil lawsuit that Maxwell lured her into Epstein’s circle under the false pretense of massage work.

After being pulled into their orbit, Maxwell forced her to have sex with powerful men, including Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, when she was just 17, Giuffre claimed. Maxwell denies the claims. Andrew directly and via statements from Buckingham Palace has vehemently and repeatedly denied all of Giuffre’s claims.

William Walker

Pelosi taps D.C. National Guard chief as top House security official

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped the head of Washington, D.C.,’s National Guard, Maj. Gen. William Walker, as the House’s new top security official. Walker, a 39-year military veteran, will become the House’s permanent sergeant-at-arms, Pelosi announced Friday. He succeeds Timothy Blodgett, who took over the post temporarily in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. The previous permanent sergeant-at-arms, Paul Irving, was pushed out of the job after Jan. 6, amid recriminations over the security failures that allowed a mob of thousands of Donald Trump's supporters to occupy the Capitol and delay Congress’ certification of the 2020 election results.

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William Walker

Pelosi taps D.C. National Guard chief as top House security official

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped the head of Washington, D.C.,’s National Guard, Maj. Gen. William Walker, as the House’s new top security official. Walker, a 39-year military veteran, will become the House’s permanent sergeant-at-arms, Pelosi announced Friday. He succeeds Timothy Blodgett, who took over the post temporarily in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. The previous permanent sergeant-at-arms, Paul Irving, was pushed out of the job after Jan. 6, amid recriminations over the security failures that allowed a mob of thousands of Donald Trump's supporters to occupy the Capitol and delay Congress’ certification of the 2020 election results.

“His historic appointment as the first Black American to serve as Sergeant-at-Arms is an important step forward for this institution and our nation,” Pelosi said in a statement. The California Democrat also noted that Walker had a long career as a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Walker has provided key information about the timeline of events that led to the security breakdown on Jan. 6. In Senate testimony earlier this month, he said he relayed an urgent plea from the head of the Capitol Police to senior Pentagon officials seeking backup for the overwhelmed police force.

But that request languished for more than three hours, Walker has said, until final approval just after 5 p.m. That delay in the official dispatching of the guard has become a key focus of lawmakers’ investigations into the riot.

Walker also has described a 2:30 p.m. phone call between Capitol Police and Pentagon brass and said senior Pentagon officials seemed to lack urgency despite frantic pleas from those inside the building.

Walker was the 23rd commanding general of the D.C. National Guard and previously spent three decades as a guardsman and DEA agent.

Asa Hutchinson

GOP Gov. admits ‘Near-Total Abortion Ban’ is unconstitutional

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) said he only signed what has been widely described as a “near-total abortion ban” in his state this month because he hopes it leads to the Supreme Court taking away women’s rights to make decisions about their own bodies. Hutchinson was speaking during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, after host Dana Bash raised with the issue with him.

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Asa Hutchinson

GOP Gov. admits ‘Near-Total Abortion Ban’ is unconstitutional

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) said he only signed what has been widely described as a “near-total abortion ban” in his state this month because he hopes it leads to the Supreme Court taking away women’s rights to make decisions about their own bodies. Hutchinson was speaking during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, after host Dana Bash raised with the issue with him.

“Even when you signed it, you said you had reservations about the law, saying that it violates Supreme Court precedent,” Bash said. “So to be clear, did you sign this bill because you hope it will be a vehicle for the Supreme Court to look at overturning Roe v. Wade.

“Yes, that was the whole design of the law,” Hutchinson told Bash. “It is not constitutional under Supreme Court cases right now.”

Claiming that he “preferred a rape and incest exception,” the governor added, “I didn’t get a vote on that and so I signed it because it is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, that was the intent of it, I think there’s a very narrow chance that the Supreme Court will accept that case, but we’ll see.”

The new Arkansas law only allows abortion in cases where the life of the mother is directly threatened. It is not expected to be enforced until summer 2021 at the earliest, which allows time for challenges at the lower court level before it takes effect.

COVID-19

Mar-a-Lago partially closed due to outbreak

Former President Trump's luxury resort club Mar-a-Lago has reportedly been partially closed in response to an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Palm Beach, Fla. property. Sources confirmed to The Associated Press that Mar-a-Lago has been closed until further notice in a cautionary move that follows positive COVID-19 tests. Several workers have reportedly been quarantined. The extent of the outbreak and the identities of those who have tested positive were not immediately made known.