Category Archives: Stormy Daniels News

WADDY: Democrats’ impeachment obsession is a danger to democracy

Sad to say, but Tom Steyer, even though he’s an out-of-touch and unlikable billionaire, may be the most representative face of the Democratic Party these days. That’s because, almost since the day Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, Steyer has been bawling like a toddler and insisting that Trump’s prompt removal from office, via impeachment, is a moral and political imperative.

Steyer and his “Need to Impeach” movement offer a laundry list of reasons why Trump should be impeached, from alleged obstruction of justice to violations of the emoluments clause, Russian collusion, racism and bigotry, recklessness, “persecution” of political opponents and the free press, mistreatment of “immigrants” and paying hush money to Stormy Daniels.

Or, to put it another way, Steyer’s rationale for impeachment is so diffuse that it’s utterly incoherent. Steyer presumably is bargaining that, if he throws everything but the kitchen sink at Trump, one of these charges — it doesn’t much matter which one — will stick, and Trump will go down like a ton of bricks.

Steyer, for all his malevolent fury, is just a private citizen, albeit one who has plowed hundreds of millions of dollars of his own money into a campaign to subvert American democracy. What’s more worrying is that Steyer’s no-stone-left-unturned approach to impeaching President Trump now seems to be the official strategy of the House Judiciary Committee under Chairman Jerrold Nadler. Nadler has made it clear that any anti-Trump narrative, no matter how obscure, laughable or deficient in terms of evidence, is potentially acceptable as a pretext for impeachment. Again, he doesn’t much care why Trump is impeached, just so long as he is.

Now, though, Democrats are taking their impeachment obsession to the next level. Brimming with enthusiasm for the removal of Trump from office, they are beginning to apply their convoluted impeachment “logic” to other political enemies. Their latest target is Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Even before Kavanaugh was confirmed in 2018, there were whispers among Democrats that, if this alleged abuser of women should be added to the nation’s highest court, Congress would be entirely justified in impeaching and removing him. Never mind that the charges made against Kavanaugh were unsubstantiated — in fact, they were specifically rejected as untrue by many of the people who were present at the time of the alleged offense. No matter. The new standard of proof — for Republicans and conservatives only — is that, if someone says you did something wrong, you assuredly did.

The suggestion last year that Kavanaugh should be impeached because of Christine Blasey Ford’s politically-motivated and uncorroborated accusations was outrageous, given the hallowed principle of American justice that we are all innocent until proven guilty. Now, though, prominent Democrats are doubling down.

Presidential candidates Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, among others, are calling for Kavanaugh’s impeachment anew, because a biased news story appeared in the New York Times alleging another incident in which Kavanaugh is supposed to have mistreated a young woman. The Times neglected to mention that the woman in question has no recollection of her own mistreatment.

The truth or falsehood of the latest accusations against Kavanaugh are, of course, irrelevant to his tormentors. They know only two things about Kavanaugh for certain: that he is a bad man in the eyes of feminists, who have made him a poster boy for sexual assault, despite the fact that he has never been charged with or convicted of any crime, including crimes against women; and that he is a bad Supreme Court justice in the eyes of progressives.

The moral of the story seems to be this: in the banana republic or pseudo-democracy that leftists are trying to create, impeachment, like every other legal and constitutional tradition, exists for one reason only: to help liberals crush their enemies and conquer power.

The miracle, then, is that no one has yet called for the impeachment of Neil Gorsuch, or Mitch McConnell, or hundreds of other Republican and conservative judges and office holders. For they too are guilty of the only real crime that the modern left recognizes: standing in its way.

It is only a matter of time before the impeachment dragnet is widened. Liberals won’t be satisfied until all of their enemies have been driven from the halls of power, and ultimately from politics itself.

Then, one assumes, they will turn on each other, at which point some of them will rediscover the beauty of the phrase “innocent until proven guilty”…

Nicholas L. Waddy is an associate professor of history at SUNY Alfred. His essay was published originally by American Greatness.

WADDY: Democrats’ impeachment obsession is a danger to democracy

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This Laser Tripwire Automatically Minimizes Your Tabs When Someone Walks By

I work in an open office. I also view a lot of very “not safe for work” things for, ironically, my job. So I bought a privacy screen for my office laptop that darkens my monitor when it’s viewed at an angle; it seemed like the most polite thing to do for my deskmates who don’t want to be distracted by Dragon Boob Z in their periphery while they’re trying to focus.

Even with the screen protector, there are times when I wish I could be faster on the draw as an unsuspecting colleague approaches my desk, like while reviewing some of the more climactic scenes of Stormy Daniels’ Chatroom, or scrolling through particularly sticky slime girl forums.

The “DayTripper,” a laser tripwire developed by a coder who goes by dekuNukem is what I need.

The small, simple setup consists of a transmitter that’s attached to your desk, doorway, or wherever you want to detect passers-by, and a receiver that’s plugged into your computer. When the transmitter detects movement, the receiver triggers all screens to minimize—the same function as the Windows + M key shortcut.

“Do you always slack off on your computer and worry about getting busted?,” dekuNukem wrote. “Not anymore because Daytripper is here to save the day!”

It detects motion within four feet—well within range of someone trying to crane their neck and read my messages in the blueberry kink chat rooms.

According to dekuNukem’s Github repository for the device, it’s compatible with any system that has a USB port and a keyboard, including Linux and MacOS. It’s also programmable for other shortcut functions, like locking or shutting off the computer.

“I was wasting time on Reddit, and it just suddenly came to me just how many teenagers are trying to hide whatever unspeakable things they are viewing in their bedrooms from their nosy parents and siblings,” dekuNukem told Motherboard. “It was just too great an idea to ignore. Novel concept, practical, great commercialisation potential, I’m amazed nobody did it before.”

Past projects by dekuNukem include a Raspberry Pi-based device that uses facial recognition to track how many hours you spend sitting at your desk, and a reverse-engineered Nintendo Switch.

The tripwire is available on Tindie for $59.99 as a completely assembled plug-and-play device, or as a kit with all the pieces you can assemble yourself.

The early reviews on Daytripper are great, though dekuNukem notes, “I am not responsible for the consequences of using this device. Use it at your own risk.”

This post was updated at 3:05 p.m. on 9/10/19 with comment from dekuNukem.

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

This Laser Tripwire Automatically Minimizes Your Tabs When Someone Walks By

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Stephen J. Lyons: ‘Who won the week?’ Me, because I stopped watching cable news

I was slogging through my Saturday workout at the gym trying to balance and read a book on the elliptical while ignoring the three muted television sets on the wall. The gym’s owner usually starts the day with Fox News on the right, MSNBC on the left and HGTV in the middle. Democracy on full display.

When I glanced at MSNBC, the crawler read, “Who won the week?” It happened to be Joy Reid’s show, but it could have been any number of shows on any cable news network.

Gathered around her were a cluster of serious “experts and analysts” to break down the past five days for us proles living outside the East Coast babble beltway.

Did President Donald Trump win the week? Or did Nancy Pelosi? The suits were ready with answers — answers that mattered, most of all, well, to them.

Despite occasional forays to the Heartland, the insiders inside the echo chamber that is Washington have no earthly idea what happens west (or north or south) of the Potomac River — you know, that mysterious flyover country that tricked them in 2016.

Instead, much like our current president, they are consumed by their image, their current Q ratings and their next book deal.

Out here among the corn and soybean fields of the Midwest I have never heard anyone wonder which pol won the week. At my local gym, we avoid politics. It’s divisive and, besides, we are trying not to trigger atrial fibrillation. Now, if you want to talk about the fortunes of the Cubs and Cardinals, or who is on chemo, or whose parents just died, I can guarantee you a reality-based conversation.

Cable news sent me packing just after the release of the Mueller report. Up until then I was a devoted viewer of CNN and MSNBC. At 5 p.m. I would tune in to Wolf Blitzer as he announced (without a trace of emotion), “Happening now! Breaking news!” Then, in between the geezer ads, a parade of attractive correspondents and former this and thats would breathlessly announce how multiple, unnamed sources had just revealed that Mueller had unearthed something horrendous and impeachable. Wow! This was going to be as big as Stormy Daniels’ bust!

And most of the time it was a bust.

At 6 p.m. I would switch to MSNBC’s overly caffeinated Chris Matthews who, in between interrupting his guests, would follow the same playbook as CNN. Breaking news! Panel of well-connected (and well-fed) journalists! Somebody somewhere had something juicy and that something wasn’t looking good for that someone named Trump.

As someone who despises Trump, I was “all in” on every twitch of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. I thought the report would finally nail the oafish billionaire. The scoundrel would finally be disgraced on prime time.

Well, we know what happened with the release of the report. Nothing.

So I tuned out the chatter and my mental state has vastly improved. Now 5 p.m. is wine hour. If the humidity is decent and the mosquitoes have eaten their fill, my wife and I will sit out on our modest patio and listen to the cicadas, tree frogs and birdsong.

(Apparently I am not alone. Adweek Network’s TVNewser reported on July 30 that all three cable news channels were down 22% for prime time from the same date a year ago.)

So what have I missed on cable news besides countless mesothelioma and dubious medical cure-all commercials?

The House committees’ infinite subpoenas are DOA. Trump continues to raise his tiny middle finger to established standards of decency and to our Constitution. Michael Avenatti is MIA. Stormy might be dancing in the Quad Cities. Kellyanne is somehow still married.

Blitzer remains robotic. Matthews still shouts over his guests. Maddow is all smirk and snark. Hannity, Dobbs and Carlson continue to fill in nicely for the Three Stooges.

Perhaps by now you are wondering what does “winning the week” mean for this Midwesterner? Well, it means my 96-year-old mother-in-law makes it to the weekend without a nasty fall. Winning the week is trying to find a creative way to pay off mounting medical bills and, on a related topic, praying that my wife and I have enough money to live out the last third of our lives. Not being gunned down in a mass shooting always counts as a win.

And, if I can make it through the week without hearing or seeing the current leader of his own freak world, then I have truly won the week.

Stephen J. Lyons is the author of four books of essays and journalism. His most recent book is “Going Driftless: Life Lessons from the Heartland for Unraveling Times.”

Stephen J. Lyons: ‘Who won the week?’ Me, because I stopped watching cable news

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The Crown season 3: Will Margaret Thatcher appear in the new series?

Fans of royal drama The Crown will know that it focuses around different historical events and their impact on the British Monarchy. One major plotline in the series so far has been the interaction between Queen Elizabeth II and the various prime ministers who have served under her rule. With the new season fast approaching, viewers are curious to know whether it will feature Margaret Thatcher.

Will Margaret Thatcher appear in The Crown season 3?

Netflix made the official announcement earlier this week that Gillian Anderson has been cast as Margaret Thatcher in The Crown.

The news was confirmed on the official Twitter account of the hit drama.

Accompanying the announcement, Anderson released a statement about playing the prime minister.

She wrote: “I am so excited to be joining the cast and crew of The Crown and to have the opportunity to portray such a complicated and controversial woman.

“Thatcher was undoubtedly formidable but I am relishing exploring beneath the surface and, dare I say, falling in love with the icon who, whether loved or despised, defined an era.”

READ MORE: The Crown season 3: Prince Charles was ‘forced’ to marry Diana

The Crown Margaret Thatcher

The Crown: Gillian Anderson will play Margaret Thatcher (Image: GETTY)

Anderson is best known for her long running role as Dana Scully in The X-Files as well as appearing in Netflix show Sex Education and Jamie Dornan serial killer series The Fall.

But while the third series will be released later this year in November, viewers will not see Anderson as Thatcher until season four.

The fourth season is not expected until 2020 but it is currently in production.

Season three of the show is expected to cover the time period of the mid-1960s.

READ MORE: The Crown season 3: Inside Margaret and Snowdon’s stormy romance

The Crown Margaret Thatcher

The Crown: Margaret Thatcher will appear in season 4 (Image: GETTY)

This was confirmed in an interview with showrunner Peter Morgan in Entertainment Weekly in which he revealed that some key events of the decade will be covered.

These include the 1964 reveal that the Queen’s art adviser Anthony Blunt was a Soviet spy as well as the breakdown of the marriage between Princess Margaret (Helen Bonham Carter) and Lord Snowdon (played by Ben Daniels).

But the announcement of Thatcher implies that the fourth outing may take place in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

As Thatcher became leader of the Conservative Party in 1975 and prime minister in 1979, this could be depicted in the series.

READ MORE: The Crown season 3: Netflix UK release date, cast, latest news 

The Crown Margaret Thatcher

The Crown season 3: Olivia Colman plays The Queen (Image: NETFLIX)

She was Britain’s first female prime minister and retained the position from 1979 to 1990.

Thatcher is well remembered as a controversial figure who was nicknamed the ‘Iron Lady’ thanks to her uncompromising leadership style.

This timeline is also implied by the casting announcement of Emma Corrin as Lady Diana Spencer, who will also appear in season four.

Diana came to prominence in the public eye after she became engaged to Prince Charles in 1981.

READ MORE: The Crown: Will Helen Mirren play the Queen again?

The Crown Margaret Thatcher

The Crown season 3: Josh O’Connor plays Prince Charles (Image: NETFLIX)

Before fans see how the historical figures will be brought to life, the third series is expected on Netflix later this year.

In the new series Olivia Colman will play the Queen, taking over from Claire Foy in the first two seasons.

Alongside her, Helena Bonham Carter has replaced Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret and Tobias Menzies has taken over as Prince Philip from Matt Smith.

The new series will also feature grown-up incarnations of the Queen’s children Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor) and Princess Anne (Erin Doherty).

The Crown season 3 will be released on Netflix on November 17.

The Crown season 3: Will Margaret Thatcher appear in the new series?

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Duke Probe Finds No Evidence Nike Paid Zion Williamson

DURHAM, N.C. — Duke University says an investigation has found no evidence that former basketball star Zion Williamson received improper benefits.

School spokesman Michael Schoenfeld said in a statement Saturday that a “thorough and objective” probe led by investigators outside the athletic department found “no evidence to support any allegation” that would have jeopardized Williamson’s eligibility.

Duke athletic director Kevin White said in April that the school would investigate after lawyer Michael Avenatti accused Nike Inc. of paying Williamson’s mother to persuade him to attend a college affiliated with the Beaverton, Oregon-based shoe company.

Avenatti said in a statement Saturday that he “never heard from anyone associated with Duke” about the investigation and repeated his claim that Williamson was paid to attend the school.

“The documents and the hard evidence do not lie,” he said.

Williamson was taken first overall by the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA draft after earning Associated Press player of the year honors as a freshman at Duke.

Avenatti has pleaded not guilty to charges he tried to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening to publicize claims the sportswear company enabled payouts to promising young athletes and their families.

Avenatti has released material his attorneys say support his claims the sportswear company was paying amateur athletes.

He gained fame by representing porn star Stormy Daniels and sparring on social media with President Donald Trump.

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Duke Probe Finds No Evidence Nike Paid Zion Williamson

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Duke clears Zion Williamson after investigating allegations from Michael Avenatti that Nike paid him

A monthslong investigation by Duke University into whether Nike paid one-and-done sensation Zion Williamson to attend Nike-sponsored Duke has ended. The conclusion reported Friday by the News & Observer is that there was “no evidence” of such wrongdoing, and that Williamson’s eligibility was in no way compromised.

The investigation by the university was triggered earlier this year after Michael Avenatti, a lawyer who famously represented Stormy Daniels, alleged Nike arranged payments for Williamson along with other former top-rated recruits. Avenatti sent out a tweet in March vowing to expose Nike for nefariously wandering in the realm of recruiting related to the college basketball scandal. He was arrested by the federal government and charged with extortion against Nike an hour later.

In August as part of another turn to the story, Avenatti’s legal team filed a motion to have those same charges dismissed. In the motion he attached accusations against Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball division (EYBL). Here’s the gist of what that entailed, from earlier this summer:

Avenatti claims Nike was knowingly involved in nefarious behavior of illicit payments for parents and/or guardians of high school basketball players. The filing on behalf of Avenatti’s legal team, however, did not provide evidence of payments to any high school players or their families/representatives.

True to form, Avenatti when reached for comment by the News & Observer remained steadfast in his findings despite Duke’s conclusion. In a statement he not only doubled down, but loaded up a cannon of accusations against Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski and his program.

“I never heard from anyone associated with Duke in connection with my allegations or any investigation,” said Avenatti. “I was never asked a single question. I was never asked what information or documents that I was aware of. Who the hell conducted this investigation? Inspector Clouseau? The documents and the hard evidence do not lie. Zion Williamson was paid to attend Duke. Coach K has made and facilitated payments to players for years. And when the truth comes out — and eventually it will — Coach K and Duke’s reputation will be forever and rightfully tarnished.”

Williamson, the ACC Player of the Year last season, averaged 22.6 points per game and went on to become the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Duke clears Zion Williamson after investigating allegations from Michael Avenatti that Nike paid him

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Sunny Hostin suggests Trump could be charged with felony for claim about Hurricane Dorian’s path

“The View” hosts had fun Thursday jabbing at the president for showing an apparently doctored chart of Hurricane Dorian’s path, and warned that he could face legal consequences for giving a false forecast.

President Trump initially tweeted that the hurricane would hit Alabama, apparently prompting the National Weather Service to clarify that Dorian wasn’t headed in that direction. Amid criticism, Trump doubled down — displaying a chart in the Oval Office that appeared to be altered with a black marker.

“It’s illegal to falsely — under federal law — to pass off a doctored, National Weather Service forecast,” host Sunny Hostin commented. “Wouldn’t it be interesting if this is what took down the president?” she asked before adding that doctoring a forecast was a felony.

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A White House official told Fox News that before cameras were allowed in the Oval Office, an individual –whom the official declined to identify–used a pen to put the extra loop on Dorian’s path.

‘VIEW’ HOSTS DEFEND BIDEN AMID FAKE WAR TALE: WASN’T LYING, HE’S A ‘GOOD STORYTELLER’

Hostin said she told her children that while it was fine to make a mistake, Trump was wrong to not own up to it.

Co-host Joy Behar attempted to crack a joke, saying: “Just because you sleep with somebody named Stormy does not make you a weatherman.” She was referring to Trump’s alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels.

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When co-host Abby Huntsman chimed in, she expressed sympathy for Alabamians who thought the hurricane was coming their way. She asked where Trump’s advisers were to stop him from warning that Dorian would hit Alabama.

“They’re like, ‘Look we tried. We tried for two years, and we’re out,'” co-host Whoopi Goldberg responded.

Sunny Hostin suggests Trump could be charged with felony for claim about Hurricane Dorian’s path

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Aaron Lewis, Darius Rucker, Sister Hazel all doing well with country sound

Many hit-making singers and bands are pointing themselves toward musical dirt roads. Are they making it work or are these cases of being country after being country was cool?

Aaron Lewis

Lewis is the voice of stormy rockers Staind, who steadily gained a following through the late 1990s before hitting it big with the power ballad “It’s Been Awhile” from 2001’s “Break the Cycle.” The band was a fixture of hard rock radio for about 15 years, and its biggest songs continue to find a wide audience.

As the 2010s began, Lewis, a native of New England, made a complete 180-degree turn into country, releasing three LPs and an EP.

Stretch of the imagination? Until “State I’m In,” out earlier this year, Lewis’ efforts sounded just like a countrified version of his work with Staind — maudlin mid-tempo songs that asked very little of him creatively. “State I’m In” breaks from that box a bit but still doesn’t secure his place as a top country artist.

Company he keeps: Country icons George Jones and Charlie Daniels put their stamp on Lewis early, showing up on “Country Boy” from his 2011 EP “Town Line.” Not to be outdone, Willie Nelson shows up on the title track from Lewis’ 2016 record “Sinner.” Reading the fine print, he has collaborated with and relied upon some of country’s finest and longest-tenured session players.

Success so far: Each of Lewis’ country records have sold well; “Town Line” and “Sinner” topped the Billboard Country Albums chart, while “State I’m In” has peaked at No. 2 to date.

Best songs: “The Road” from 2012’s “The Road”; “Sunday Every Saturday Night” from 2016’s “Sinner”; “Reconsider,”and “The Party’s Over,” “Burnt the Sawmill Down” from “State I’m In.”

Do the boots fit? So many of the songs on Lewis’ first country records find him justifying his presence in the genre. When he actually lands on the common ground between country and rock — the hard luck and hard living — his music actually resonates.

Darius Rucker

Rucker applied his rich South Carolina baritone in the service of Hootie & the Blowfish’s jangly college-rock. The band’s 1994 debut “Cracked Rear View” went on to sell more than 20 million copies, before the inevitable backlash produced a series of diminishing returns. The last Hootie album came out in 2005, though the band is currently on tour.

Rucker pivoted into his solo career with 2002’s soulful “Back to Then.” Since 2008’s “Learn to Live,” he has planted his feet on country territory, to great success.

Stretch of the imagination? You can take the artist out of Carolina, but you can’t take the Carolina out of the artist. Hootie & the Blowfish always possessed a laid-back, homespun charisma that carries perfectly into Rucker’s country sound. The band’s brand of rock lived closer to the alt-country and Americana side of the dial and, with Rucker’s sonorous voice selling each and every hook with sincerity, the transition has been seamless.

Company he keeps: Rucker’s country albums have featured guest performances by Brad Paisley, Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Sheryl Crow and the songwriting talents of Chris Stapleton and Radney Foster.

Success so far: Rucker owns one platinum- and two gold-selling albums, as well as a greatest hits’ collection worth of successful singles. In 2014, he won a Grammy for best country solo performance, honoring his take on the oft-covered “Wagon Wheel,” which he turned into a triple-platinum single.

Best songs: “This” and “Come Back Song” from 2010’s “Charleston, SC 1966”; “Lie to Me” from 2013’s “True Believers”; “You Can Have Charleston” from 2015’s “Southern Style”; “Count the Beers” from 2017’s “When Was the Last Time.”

Do the boots fit? Rucker both has made the most seamless transition from rock to country of the artists identified here, and released the most consistently charismatic records.

Sister Hazel

Named for a nun, this good-natured band broke through with its 1997 hymn to devotion, “All For You.” The band remained a commercial force through the early 2000s, its harmony-rich, Tom Petty-lite approach to rock scratching an itch for those who appreciate catchy songs about life’s simple gifts and graces.

With 2016’s “Lighter in the Dark,” the band declared its good intentions toward the country world. A series of three EPs — “Water,” “Wind” and “Fire” — over the past two years have maintained the band’s connection with the elements of that style.

Stretch of the imagination? Not unlike Rucker and Hootie, Sister Hazel didn’t have far to travel to cross the country line. The band has long been rooted in the more accessible side of Southern rock with big-hearted songs, Ken Block’s Everyman vocals and Ryan Newell’s dynamic lead guitar, which wraps together the various cords and chords of Americana.

Company they keep: Rucker joined the band for “Karaoke Song” on “Lighter in the Dark.” The band also has graced the sacred stage at the Grand Ole Opry.

Success so far: “Lighter in the Dark” landed at No. 4 on the Billboard Country Albums chart less than a month after its release. The “Water” EP also cracked the Top Ten on that chart in early 2018.

Best songs: “Fall off the Map,” “Take It With Me” and “That Kind of Beautiful” from “Lighter in the Dark”; “Roll On Bye” and “More Than I Want To” from 2018’s “Water” EP

Do the boots fit? The band’s recent projects sound authentically country without writing off or waving goodbye to its previous work. Bending its notes ever so slightly — warm harmonies become practically Eagles-esque, for example — Sister Hazel finds a welcome, suitable home within country music.

Aaron Lewis, Darius Rucker, Sister Hazel all doing well with country sound

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Daniels raring to testify

Porn star Stormy Daniels said Tuesday she’s ready to testify before Congress amid revelations that House Democrats are gearing up to investigate President Donald Trump’s role in salacious hush payments issued to her and another woman before the 2016 election.

“I have no fear of being under oath because I have been and will be honest. Bring it!” tweeted Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Daniels’ upbeat missive came on the heels of sources confirming that the House Judiciary Committee plans to pick up where federal prosecutors left off and dig into the $130,000 hush payment that was issued to her on Trump’s behalf in exchange for her promising to keep her lips sealed about allegedly having sex with the president in 2006.

Hearings on the matter could take place as early as next month, a person familiar with the matter told the New York Daily News.

The Democrat-controlled committee, which will resume its work when Congress kicks back into session next week, will investigate the $150,000 payoff issued to former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal as well, according to the source. Like Daniels, McDougal says she took the cash before the 2016 election in exchange for keeping mum about an alleged affair with Trump.

A spokesman for the Judiciary Committee declined to comment on whether it would take Daniels up on her offer to testify.

McDougal did not respond to emailed questions on whether she would be willing to testify.

The committee will look into the Daniels and McDougal payoffs as part of its more sweeping inquiry into alleged crimes committed by Trump and whether they warrant articles of impeachment, according to sources.

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was sentenced to 3 years in prison in part for pleading guilty to campaign finance crimes stemming from the Daniels and McDougal payoffs.

Federal prosecutors in New York closed their investigation into the matter in July without charging anyone else with campaign finance crimes, even though court papers implicated Trump and others, including American Media Inc. CEO David Pecker, in the illegal payoff scheme.

The decision to not charge anyone else raised speculation from legal experts that Trump may have been shielded by longstanding Justice Department policies that say sitting presidents can’t be criminally indicted.

The House judiciary panel, which is led by Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-New York, indicated it was interested in probing the pre-2016 election hush payoffs in March, when it demanded any records related to the payments from Pecker and fellow AMI executive Dylan Howard.

Daniels raring to testify

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Democrats Preparing To Investigate Trump Over Links To Hush Money Payments: Report

Congressional Democrats plan to open an inquiry into claims that President Donald Trump was involved in hush money payments to two women during the 2016 election, according to a report Monday evening in The Washington Post.

The outlet, citing people familiar with the plans, notes that the House Judiciary Committee may soon hold hearings with witnesses linked to the payments as early as October when lawmakers are back from their summer recess. The probe would focus on payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Both women claim they had affairs with the president before he was elected, but were paid off in 2016 by people linked to the Trump campaign so their stories wouldn’t damage his bid for the White House.

The White House did not immediately reply to HuffPost’s request for comment on the reports. Jay Sekulow, the president’s personal attorney, told the Post that Trump did not engage in any “campaign violations.”

The payment to Daniels was arranged by Trump’s longtime attorney and former fixer, Michael Cohen, who is currently serving a three-year sentence for campaign finance charges and other crimes. During his trial, Cohen testified that Trump ordered him to pay $130,000 in hush money to Daniels. He later told Congress that he was reimbursed by Trump after he was elected to office, showing lawmakers two copies of checks that Cohen received, including one signed by the president himself.

Cohen also helped broker a deal between McDougal and the parent company of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc., to pay her off as part of a “catch and kill” effort.

Trump has denied the affairs took place and distanced himself from the payments, at times saying he didn’t even know about them. His attorney, Rudy Giuliani, later said he reimbursed Cohen but “didn’t know the specifics” of the payments.

However, Cohen told prosecutors during his trial that he had blind loyalty to the president at the time and was being sentenced because of it, noting that he was “going to jail in part because of my decision to help Mr. Trump hide that payment from the American people before they voted a few days later.”

A judge said in July that the federal investigation into Cohen and any potential campaign finance violations was closed. But the Post notes Democrats believe there is enough evidence to begin their own probe and potentially name the president himself as a co-conspirator in the crimes that resulted in Cohen’s sentence. Any potential wrongdoing would only further Democratic efforts to bring articles of impeachment against Trump and build on what special counsel Robert Mueller said were five instances of potential obstruction of justice during the investigation into the 2016 election.

Should lawmakers open their own inquiry, they may consider speaking with AMI chief executive David Pecker, a longtime friend of the president, the Post reported.

More than 130 House Democrats have called for an impeachment inquiry, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has continued to resist such calls. Last month, Pelosi said once again that the public didn’t yet support impeachment, saying that Congress’ role was to be “unifying and not dividing.”

“If and when we act, people will know he gave us no choice,” the speaker told fellow lawmakers several weeks ago, per a report by the Associated Press.

Democrats Preparing To Investigate Trump Over Links To Hush Money Payments: Report

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What is Trump so Desperate to Hide?

What is Trump so Desperate to Hide?

Trump threatens to sue his former personal assistant if the speaks out any more. He’s Suing Omarosa for Breaking ‘Confidentiality Agreement’. Constitutional experts, however, believe the confidentiality agreements are Un-Constitutional.

 

By James DiGeorgia

Donald Trump made good on Saturday on the threat to sue former White House aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman on Saturday for violating the confidentiality agreement while doing so she slandered her by asserting she “despised by everyone.”

Many Constitutional experts agree that since she was paid by the U.S. government that any confidentiality placed beyond the requirement to not discuss government-related secret, classified information on an employee would be a violation of the U.S. Constitution. In other words anything dealer with the personal behavior of Trump and family or their breach of laws or public trust

In a number of Trump Tweets, he made clear he had forgiven ousted personal assistant Madeleine Westerhout, who while off the record and after having a few drinks disclosed personal details about Trump’s family during a dinner and car ride with reporters. Trump claimed in his Tweets that he had in place a “fully enforceable confidentiality agreement” on her, and he is suing others (Omarosa Manigault-Newman)  for violating their confidentiality agreements.

‘Yes, I am currently suing various people for violating their confidentiality agreements. Disgusting and foul-mouthed Omarosa is one,’

‘I gave her every break, even though she was despised by everyone, and she went for some cheap money from a book. Numerous others also!’

Donald Trump has long been known for requiring employees to sign non-disclosure agreements on his companies’ employees. He’s been compulsive about not embarrassing details about him and his family hit the news headlines. This concern with the truth leaking out about is exemplified by Trump violation of federal campaign laws for reportedly paying off adult film star Stormy Daniels after her claim that they had a brief affair just a few months after the birth of his youngest son. He is referred in the criminal prosecution as an individual one in the criminal indictment of his former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Confidentiality agreements are widespread and in private business and private lives, but Constitutional experts say the concept will not be held up for people who work for the White House and are the public payroll.

The Washington Post  has reported that President Trump had in lace non-disclosure agreements on his White House employees, which was confirmed by top Kellyanne Conway, droves of legal experts asserted that these agreements are not enforceable.

A good many of these legal experts all agreed they were unconstitutional.

Mark Zaid, a Washington-based attorney who focuses on government and national security, wrote on Twitter that it would be unconstitutional …

‘The version of the White House non-disclosure agreement he had examined between the employee and the U.S. government, a significant change from anything previous administrations have done.’  

This all comes after his forcing his long-time personal assistant Madeleine Westerhout who has worked in the white house from almost day one. The question is what is he worried about becoming public?

You can bet that his lawsuits trying to enforce these confidentiality agreements will not keep Madeleine Westerhout from writing a book and becoming a darling of the press and mass media. Every bit of dirt she can reveal on him and she’s going to be paraded publically.

The number of former Trump administration officials lining up to release books or to go public is increasing by the week. This past week the former Secretary of Defense hinted this week he WILL attack Donald Trump in public saying…

 ‘period in which I owe my silence’ is ‘not going to be forever.’

‘I may not like a Commander in Chief one fricking bit, but our system puts the Commander in Chief there, and to further weaken him when we’re up against real threats—I mean, we could be at war on the Korean peninsula, every time they start launching something.’

What is Trump so Desperate to Hide?

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Trump — or What, Exactly?

Let’s compare Trump’s policies and behavior to that of prior presidents — and to his 2020 opponents’.

In traditional political terms, there is always an alternate agenda to an incumbent president’s that reasonable voters can debate.

In Trump’s case, two massive annual budget deficits — coming on top of the previous two administrations that doubled the national debt — seem fair game. No president for the past 19 years has sought to offer any remotely sane budget. And with still relatively low interest rates, massive federal spending, a $22 trillion national debt, and an annual deficit of nearly $1 trillion, it is hard to imagine, in extremis, that there remains any notion of “stimulus” or “pump-priming” left.

Yet we hear little about such financial profligacy.

Not a word comes from Trump’s critics about the need for Social Security or Medicare reform to ensure the long-term viability of each — other than the Democrats’ promises to extend such financially shaky programs to millions of new clients well beyond the current retiring Baby Boomer cohorts who are already taxing the limits of the system.

To counter every signature Trump issue, there is almost no rational alternative advanced. That void helps explain the bizarre, three-year litany of dreaming of impeachment, the emoluments clause, the Logan Act, the 25th Amendment, the Mueller special-counsel investigation, Stormy Daniels and Michael Avenatti, Trump’s tax returns, White Supremacy!, Recession! — and Lord knows what next.

The subtext of all these Wile E. Coyote all-too-clever efforts at trapping road-runner Trump is not just the wish to abort an elected presidency; they’re offering the heat of hatred rather than the light of a viable political alternative.

Read the rest from Victor Davis Hanson HERE.

If you like what you see, please “Like” us on Facebook either here or here. Please follow us on Twitter here.

Trump — or What, Exactly?

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Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto slams Trump for attacking network: ‘We don’t work for you’

Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto slammed Donald Trump Thursday after the president tweeted “Fox isn’t working for us anymore” in a series of tweets. Trump, in his tweets, also accused the network of “promoting the Democrats through their DNC Communications Director, spewing out whatever she wanted with zero pushback by anchor, @SandraSmithFox.”

Trump, over the past few weeks, has become noticeably critical of anchor Shephard Smith and analyst Juan Williams, calling them “hopeless and clueless.” Cavuto slammed the president in his segment and said it was “weird” the president is getting “sick” of the network because he believes Trump gets “pretty fair coverage on Fox.”

Neil Cavuto during FOX’s “Your World with Cavuto” live from the River Walk at Trump International Hotel & Tower on October 3, 2011, in Chicago, Illinois. (Getty Images)

“First of all, Mr. President, we don’t work for you. I don’t work for you. My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you, just report on you. Call balls and strikes on you. My job, Mr. President, our job here, is to keep the scores, not settle scores,” Cavuto said.

“It is called being fair and balanced, Mr. President, yet it is fair to say you’re not a fan when that balance includes stuff you don’t like to hear or facts you don’t like to have questioned,” Cavuto continued. The Fox News anchor also went on to list things Trump has done or said that were fact-checked on the network, including one instance where a top Trump trade adviser called tariffs a “wonderful thing,” when the president said Mexico would pay for a wall along the U.S. southern border, the president flip-flopping on gun background checks, him ordering former White House counsel Don McGahn to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and the president seemingly questioning the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential elections.

Cavuto, during his segment, said: “These aren’t fake items, they’re real items and you really said them. Just like you never paid to silence a porn star until it turns out you did,” Cavuto said as a photo of adult film star Stormy Daniels was displayed on-screen. “Fake is when it’s wrong, Mr. President.” Cavuto stated. “Not when it’s unpleasant.”

“Hard as it is to fathom, Mr. President, just because you’re the leader of the free world, doesn’t entitle you to a free pass, just a free press. Goodnight,” Cavuto concluded in his segment. 

If you have a news scoop or an interesting story for us, please reach out at (323) 421-7514

Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto slams Trump for attacking network: ‘We don’t work for you’

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Estrich: Happy birthday, President Clinton

On the occasion of Bill Clinton’s 73rd birthday, the chattering class has come to bury the president they once adored — and not to praise him.

Not me.

I wish the biggest thing I had to worry about in the world was a blue dress. Imagine having time or energy for such nonsense when the Russians are wreaking havoc with our democracy.

I wish the guy in the White House spent his energy trying to put out racial fires rather than ignite them.

I wish our commander in chief didn’t play domestic politics with Israel’s future and security.

I wish the current president were devoting almost every waking moment he had to try to bring peace to the Middle East, instead of picking fights with Israel.

I wish we had a president who at least knew what our pain felt like, instead of not even having a clue.

I wish Madeleine Albright were secretary of state and Al Gore were vice president.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President.

Back in 1988, when the world thought I was the biggest idiot on the planet for not sending my candidate out to fight the good fight, you defended me. You told them it was not my decision. You stood by your friend when times were tough.

And when they came after you, demanding impeachment for a mistake so many of them had made, I stood by you. Not because you were right, but because they were wrong. It was all just a weapon. Who would have ever imagined Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen, that a man who said he grabbed girls by the genitals — who has a grown daughter — would become the president?

So, you weren’t perfect. So, you made mistakes.

I remember the first time I saw you in the White House. Your shoulders were broader. You were, well, bigger. Hope. Imagination. What am I to say when young people talk about bringing children into a world that your successor is happily watching burn up? Hope?

I remember one night, long after Monica, when we stayed up talking. You talked about terrorism. I talked about hate and whether “politics” — not money and ads, but compromise and cooperation — could ever surmount the passions of faith and the miseries of poverty.

I so wish you were president today.

We were so young. But we knew the stakes. We had lost and lost, and if we had kept on losing, the Supreme Court would be lost for good.

Days after Ronald Reagan took office, Marian Wright Edelman, the founder of the Children’s Defense Fund — my hero — wandered the halls of the U.S. Senate, looking for even a handful of votes to support programs for children.

People suffered. They are suffering now. This isn’t a fight for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. It is a fight for the health and well-being of the poorest among us, a fight for a safety net without holes, a fight to hold families together.

Perhaps we are not liberal enough; that’s what I thought of my parents. Then again, 51% of America is probably not to Bill Clinton’s left.

The country is a better place because you were our president, even if we have miles still to go before we sleep.

Susan Estrich (sestrich@law.usc.edu) teaches law and political science at the University of Southern California. She writes for Creators Syndicate.

Estrich: Happy birthday, President Clinton

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‘Bad Blood’ Author John Carreyrou on Why He Left The Wall Street Journal and What He’ll Do Next

The author of Bad Blood, one of the biggest books of the year, has left his day job. 

John Carreyrou departed the Wall Street Journal this summer following the smash success of his book that chronicled the rise and fall of Silicon Valley sweetheart Elizabeth Holmes. Carreyrou exposed her blood-testing company Theranos as an apparent fraud before going on to write the book based off of his work. 

Bad Blood has sold almost a million copies since it was released last year, Carreyrou told The Daily Beast during his first interview since leaving the Journal. The book is currently being made into a film starring Jennifer Lawrence as Holmes and inspired an avalanche of television shows, podcasts and documentaries.

Carreyrou said part of the reason he’s leaving the paper after 20 years is because of the Journal’s policy against paid speaking engagements.  

“The Journal has a pretty blanket ban on its reporters taking money to speak publicly. If I were to do that or my colleagues do that it compromises the Journal. I respect the reasons for their policy but for me it meant leaving quite a bit of money on the table. I’m in pretty high demand due to the success of the book. I’m grateful for everything they’ve done for me.”

Paid speaking engagements are highly lucrative, with some journalists earning five-figure sums to give a speech to a company or organization. 

The Journal said in a statement the policy exists to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest: “The Journal has a deep commitment to the highest standards and ethics, including our guidelines around paid speaking engagements, because nothing is more important than the independence of our journalism. We never want our journalists to be in situations where those standards can be questioned, and neither do our readers.”

Carreyrou said just because he’s done with the Journal doesn’t mean he’s done with journalism. 

“I’m not retiring,” he said. “I’d been there almost 20 years. It felt fitting to me. It has been a great place to me. I owe this recent string of success to the Journal but I needed a change. I want to keep writing non-fiction books for the second part of my career. That’s more my priority. I may find a home for my reporting in between books.”

Carreyrou has had discussions about joining several news publications, including The New York Times, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Carreyrou, who was born in France and has had reporting stints in Brussels, Paris and New York with the Journal, is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. In 2003, he shared a Pulitzer in Explanatory Reporting for a series of stories on corporate scandals; in 2015, he won a Pulitzer for Investigative Reporting for a series exposing fraud and abuse in Medicare that cost taxpayers billions of dollars. 

His biggest story started in 2015 when he began chipping away at the glittering facade of Theranos and its charismatic young founder Holmes, who lured billions of dollars from investors with the promise of technology that could diagnose everything from cholesterol to HIV with one test of a small drop of blood. 

A lot of journalists uncritically reported on the fantastic claims, until Carreyrou discovered that Theranos had cheated on tests, provided false data to patients, and that CEO Holmes allegedly lied to the company and its board. 

After Carreyrou exposed the alleged fraud, the company folded. Holmes and her business partner, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, were subsequently charged with federal counts of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud. Holmes and Balwani have both pleaded not guilty and are due to face trial next summer. 

Carreyrou is the latest heavy hitter to depart the Journal. In May, Tom Wright left after co-authoring the best selling book Billion Dollar Whale about the Malaysian fugitive Jho Low, who partied with American celebrities by using the proceeds of what U.S. authorities say was a billion-dollar fraud. Wright on his Twitter account lists a contact for a paid-speaking agency.

Last week, Michael Rothfeld left the Journal for the Times after sharing a Pulitzer this year for a series of stories breaking wide open how President Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen paid hush money to silence alleged mistresses of Trump in the run up to the 2016 election. Rothfeld will join the investigative unit on the Times’ metro desk. 

Rothfeld has his own book due out in January with Journal colleague Joe Palazzolo tentatively titled The Fixers from Random House, which is expected to provide more details on the people who helped silence Karen MacDougal and Stormy Daniels for Trump, including the National Enquirer, and its parent company American Media.

—Maxwell Tani contributed reporting. 

High school preview: Sperry, Beggs again on 2A-3 collision course; Metro, Vian are district favorites

THREE STORYLINES

1. Can defending state champion Sperry win its first district title since 1992?

Sperry and Beggs are strong favorites again to battle for the district title. They will meet in Week 10 at Sperry. Last year, they also met in the Class 2A state final, won by Sperry after Beggs captured the district crown. Victory Christian, a perennial playoff team, will probably reach the postseason again, but it has only one returning starter on each side of the ball.

So what is it like for Sperry to go into the season as a defending state champion?

“I think our backs are kind of against the wall now,” Sperry linebacker Joe Whiteley said. “Everyone wants to go after us and try to beat us. We are definitely maintaining our intensity and no one is letting down. I think us and Beggs will be there again (playing for the district title).”

2. After losing in the state finals the past two years, can Beggs win the gold ball this year?

Beggs suffered major graduation losses but also still has a lot of talent. Easton Davis had 27 sacks last year, and receiver/defensive back Kendal Daniels is one of the state’s top juniors.

“We graduated 24 seniors, so we are having to rebuild,” Beggs coach David Tenison said. “We have some pretty athletic young players, but we have to teach them how to play. We lost so much experience on both offensive and defensive lines, and at quarterback. Dusty Pendergrass, he was a linebacker last year, now our quarterback — I love his athleticism. Last year was a special group, but the ones we have are really good.”

3. Another coaching change for Haskell

Haskell has its third head coach in three years as Greg Nation succeeds Frank Marsaln. Nation enjoyed considerable success at Bishop Kelley, going 54-35 there from 1996-2003, including a trip to the 5A semifinals in 1999. Nation was Norman’s head coach from 2008-16, with three consecutive playoff berths in 2010-12, and led Dibble last year.

TEAM CAPSULES

Teams ranked by participating coaches’ voting

1. Sperry Pirates

Head coach: Robert Park (20th year, 120-93)

2019-20 ADM: 296.61

2018 record: 14-1

District titles: 1951, ’67, ’68, ’69, ’70, ’74, ’85, ‘92

State titles: 2018

Top players: Bryce Carter, RB (5-10, 180, Sr.); Kohlby Foster, WR/DB (5-10, 160, Sr.); Levi Juby, L (5-6, 240, Sr.); Walker Niver, LB/RB (6-2, 215, Sr.); Cooper Park, QB/DB (5-9, 160, Sr.); Stormy Weathers, WR/DB (5-10, 170, Sr.); Joe Whiteley, LB/RB (5-11, 180, Sr.)

Notable: Robert Park was the World’s 2018 state coach of the year. … Nondistrict games are against Verdigris, Claremore Sequoyah and Kingston.

2. Beggs Golden Demons

Head coach: David Tenison (2nd year, 13-2)

2019-20 ADM: 328.27

2018 record: 13-2

District titles: 1957, ‘71-72, ‘75-77, ‘82-85, ‘91, 2001, ‘10-11, ‘14, ‘17-18

State titles: 1975

Top players: Kendal Daniels, WR/DB (6-4, 191, Jr.); Easton Davis, DE/WR (6-3, 180, Sr.); Trey Gaines, WR/DB (6-1, 160, Jr.); Dusty Pendergrass, QB (6-2, 170, Sr.); ; Matthew Pierce, L (6-4, 315, Sr.); Tafv Sanders, L (6-1, 335, Sr.)

Notable: Beggs hosts Class A No. 2 Rejoice Christian and Hennessey in a scrimmage Friday. Regular-season nondistrict foes are Okmulgee, Webster and Shiloh Christian (Arkansas).

3. Victory Christian Conquerors

Head coach: Dub Maddox (2nd year, 8-3)

2019-20 ADM: 317.50

2018 record: 9-3

District titles: 2002, ‘04, ‘06-07, ‘12-13, ‘16

State titles: None

Top players: Solomon Byrams, RB/DB (5-3, 163, So.); Gabriel Calhoon, WR/DB (6-3, 180, Jr.); Triton Chandler, QB/LB (6-2, 180, So.); Luke Freeman, QB/DB (6-2, 180, So.); Kyle Pittman, WR/DB (6-0, 155, Sr.); Emerson Reichert, L (6-5, 340, Fr.); Rayn Stafford, WR/DB (5-11, 160, Sr.)

Notable: The Conquerors host McLain on Friday. Other nondistrict opponents are Rogers and Verdigris.

4. Morris Eagles

Head coach: Robert Daniels (2nd year)

2019-20 ADM: 298.44

2018 record: 5-6

District titles: 1947, ‘53, ‘56, ‘58, ‘78-84

State titles: 1983, ‘85

Top players: Kolby Burgess, QB (6-0, 190, Jr.); Jerry Ramos, RB (5-9, 180, Jr.)

Notable: The Eagles made the playoffs last year for the first time since 2012. They are 9-12 over the past two years after going 3-37 over the previous four. … Nondistrict foes are Quapaw, Henryetta and Kellyville.

5. Kiefer Trojans

Head coach: Trent Worley (1st year)

2019-20 ADM: 275.17

2018 record: 3-7

District titles: 1945-47, ‘51, 2010-12, ‘14, ‘17

State titles: none

Top players: Hayden Cooper, WR (6-1, 160, Sr.); Tanner Folsom, QB (6-0, 180, Sr.); Matthew Gilmore, FB (5-10, 210, Sr.); Isaac Sharbutt, C (6-0, 250, Sr.)

Notable: Worley coached Piedmont into the 5A playoffs in 2018. … The Trojans’ nondistrict foes are Morrison, Kellyville and Rejoice Christian.

6. Haskell Haymakers

Head coach: Greg Nation (1st year)

2019-20 ADM: 224.02

2018 record: 5-5

District titles: 1973, ‘76, ‘90, ‘99

State titles: None

Top players: Zane Adams, L (6-3, 255, Sr.); Kyle Burris, RE (6-1, 210, Sr.); Jakolby Gouldsby, QB (5-8, 170, Sr.); Ines Mendoza, LB (5-4, 150, Sr.); Brace Polk, L (6-3, 220, Sr.); Easton Roberts, WR (6-2, 180, Sr.); Jaxon Sanders, RB (6-0, 180, Sr.)

Notable: The Haymakers open Thursday at Gore. They also play Porter and Rejoice Christian in nondistrict games.

7. Dewey Bulldoggers

Head coach: Trent Turner (1st year)

2019-20 ADM: 325.71

2018 record: 2-8

District titles: 1944-45, ’47, ’55, ’61, ’63, ’65, ’70, ’72, ’91, 94

State title: 1947

Top players: Kale Carner, WR (5-11, 165, Sr.); Zayne Lorenz, RB/LB (5-11, 170, Sr.)

Notable: Turner was Adair’s offensive coordinator last year. Adair defeated Dewey 60-0 in 2018. … Dewey hosts Adair on Friday. Other nondistrict foes are Nowata and Vinita.

8. Caney Valley Trojans

Head coach: Stephen Mitchell (4th year, 11-20)

2019-20 ADM: 213.41

2018 record: 2-8

District titles: 1980

State titles: None

Top players: Seth Gilbreath, QB/LB (61, 155, Jr.); Hayden Wingo, WR/DB (6-1, 175, Jr.)

Notable: The Trojans host Barnsdall on Friday. Other nondistrict foes are Oklahoma Union and Liberty.

OTHER AREA 2A TEAMS

Adair Warriors

Head coach: Rob Gilstrap (3rd year, 22-5)

2019-20 ADM: 256.61

2018 record: 12-2

Projected 2A-4 finish: 2nd

District titles: 1975-77, ‘79, ‘83, ‘85, ‘89, ‘91-92, 2011-18

State titles: 2015

Top players: Barrett Bradbury, WR/S (6-1, 170, Sr.); Brock Borin, TE/DL (6-4, 240, Sr.); Avery Couch, L (6-2, 250, Sr.); Lucas Hendrex, L (5-9, 225, Sr.); Jacob Lappe, RB/LB (5-9, 165, Sr.); Garrett Long, WR/S (6-0, 160, Jr.); Gunnar Rader, T/LB (5-10, 210, Sr.)

Notable: Bradbury has 71 career catches for 1,600 yards and 20 TDs. … Rader has 238 tackles over the past two seasons. … Nondistrict foes are Dewey, Commerce and Locust Grove. Adair hosts Metro Christian in a district opener Sept. 27.

Henryetta Knights

Head coach: Lance Beck (1st year)

2019-20 ADM: 313.66

2018 record: 1-9

Projected 2A-2 finish: 7th

District titles: 1945, ‘51, 2007

State titles: None

Top players: James Martin, DB (5-8, 160, Jr.); Jake White, QB (5-11, 185, Jr.); Logan Whitlock, RB (5-7, 175, Sr.); Tyler Wilson, L (6-2, 230, Jr.)

Notable: White passed for 1,142 yards and nine TDs last season. … Wilson had 64 tackles. … Nondistrict foes are Morris, Warner and Hartshorne.

Holland Hall Dutch

Head coach: Tag Gross (20th year, 113-90)

2019-20 ADM: 339.25

2018 record: 9-3

Projected 2A-5 finish: 2nd

District titles: 2017-18

State titles: None

Top players: Daniel Bowers, OL (6-4, 270, Sr.); Nunu Campbell, DB (6-0, 175, Jr.); Wallace Clark, QB (5-10, 170, Jr.); Charlie Goddard, OL (6-2, 210, Jr.); Owen Ostroski, DL (6-2, 225, Jr.); Ty Tetrick, RB (5-10, 190, Sr.); Zane Woodham, LB (5-10, 175, Jr.)

Notable: Woodham had 97 tackles as a freshman. … Nondistrict opponents are Cascia Hall, OKC Casady and Metro Christian. The Dutch visits Vian on Oct. 25.

Kellyville Ponies

Head coach: Joe Brown (1st year)

2019-20 ADM: 276.90

2018 record: 8-4

Projected 2A-2 finish: 4th

District title: 2002

State titles: None

Top players: Colton Ayres, QB (6-2, 1655, Jr.); Jeremy Hicks, H-B/LB (5-10, 190, Jr.); Shawn Lay, TE/DE (6-3, 195, Sr.); Tra McFadden, WR/CB (5-9, 160, Jr.); Jordan Ruhl, H-B/LB (6-3, 205, Sr.); Tayver Thornbrugh, RB/S (6-0, 175, Jr.); John Vaughan, L (6-2, 235, Jr.)

Notable: The Ponies have doubled their previous season’s win total in three consecutive years. … Nondistrict foes are Pawhuska, Kiefer and Morris.

Metro Christian Patriots

Head coach: Jared McCoy (12th year, 92-26)

2019-20 ADM: 275.50

2018 record: 12-2

Projected 2A-4 finish: 1st

District titles: 1993-94, 2000, ‘03, ‘09-13

State titles: None

Top players: Price Allman, LB (6-2, 185, Sr.); Ethan Benson, OL (6-0, 275, Sr.); Carson Callaway, WR (5-10, 175, Sr.); Aiden Currivean, WR/DB (6-0, 175, Sr.); Asher Link, QB/DB (6-0, 197, Sr.); Andrew Marouk, DE (6-1, 225, Sr.); Junior Simpson, WR (6-0, 160, Jr.)

Notable: Marouk was the district’s defensive lineman of the year in 2018. … The Patriots have new turf and video board. … After hosting Broken Bow on Friday, other nondistrict opponents are Oklahoma Christian School and Holland Hall.

Nowata Ironmen

Head coach: Chris Messner (1st year)

2019-20 ADM: 207.04

2018 record: 1-9

Projected 2A-4 finish: 7th

District titles: 1945-46, ‘51, ‘53, ‘70, ‘83, ‘87-88, ‘99, ’04, ‘14

State titles: 1970

Top players: Dillon Barnes, RB/DE (6-1, 190, Sr.); Dayne Bowlin, L (5-10, 250, Sr.); Josiah Clark, TE/LB (6-0, 170, Sr.); Jace McKisson, RB/CB (6-0, 160, Sr.)

Notable: Messner was an offensive lineman for Oklahoma from 2002-06. … Nondistrict foes are Oklahoma Union, Dewey and Vinita.

Tahlequah Sequoyah Indians

Head coach: Shane Richardson (7th year, 33-33)

2019-20 ADM: 352.16

2018 record: 3-7

Projected 2A-5 finish: 4th

District titles: 1949, ‘51-53, 2002-03, ‘06-07, ‘09, ‘12

State titles: None

Top players: Skylar Birdtail, QB (6-0, 170, Sr.); Drake Brueklander, L (6-3, 250, Jr.); Tyson Cochran, L (5-10, 230, Jr.); Joah Fourkiller, L (5-9, 215, Sr.); Trenton Harris, WR/LB (6-3, 190, Sr.); Tyler Purkey, LB (5-9, 175, Sr.); Shade Watie, RB (5-7, 160, Sr.)

Notable: Purkey had 132 tackles last year. … Nondistrict foes are Muldrow, Miami and Locust Grove.

Vian Wolverines

Head coach: Gary Willis (4th year, 30-8)

2019-20 ADM: 253.64

2018 record: 10-3

Projected 2A-5 finish: 1st

District titles: 1965-67, ‘70-73, ‘79-83, ‘87, ‘89, ‘95, 2004-06, ‘08, ‘11-13, ‘15-17

State titles: 1971

Top players: Gunnar Griffith, TE/LB (6-1, 205, Sr.); Nick Hughes, L (6-2, 240, Jr.); Xavin Lackey, LB/RB (6-1, 220, So.); William Lyons, L (6-0, 270, Sr.); Elijah Wright, H-B/LB (6-0, 215, Sr.); Javyn Wright, QB/CB (6-0, 160, Jr.); Solomon Wright, NT (6-0, 275, Jr.)

Notable: Elijah Wright had 13 TDs and 12 sacks last year. … Nondistrict foes are Eufaula, Lincoln Christian and Okmulgee.

High school preview: Sperry, Beggs again on 2A-3 collision course; Metro, Vian are district favorites

Stormy Daniels
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Roy Moore Asks Alabama Judge to Dismiss Defamation Lawsuit

Roy Moore. (AP file photo/Brynn Anderson) 

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (CN) – Roy Moore’s attorney wanted to talk details.

Melissa Isaak wanted the judge to go one by one through 16 statements Moore – a former Alabama Supreme Court judge – made during the final weeks of his 2017 campaign for U.S. Senate responding to allegations of sexual misconduct. Leigh Corfman, who is suing Moore, alleges that these statements were defamatory.  

Determining whether a statement is defamatory is a question for the court to initially decide, Isaak told Alabama judge John Rochester during a more than four-hour hearing in a Montgomery courtroom Monday, pertaining to Moore’s request for summary judgment in the defamation suit. 

No bailiff attended the hearing. When Rochester, wearing a gold tie and no robes, announced a five-minute break, he waved down the four attorneys as he walked out the door. “No, no, sit down,” he said.

It was a strikingly casual hearing, given its relation to the story that rocked the 2017 off-year elections. 

Thirty-two days before Alabama voters headed to the polls on Dec. 12, 2017, for a special election to fill Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat, The Washington Post published Corfman’s account alleging that Moore – a district attorney working in Etowah County at the time – sexually abused her in 1979. He was 32 and she 14.

The Republican nominee’s poll numbers tanked as the issue dominated his campaign. 

Democrat Doug Jones became the state’s newest senator and The Washington Post won a Pulitzer Prize for its investigation into the story.

Almost two years after that tumultuous November, Isaak said Monday that Moore’s comments could be categorized as simple denials, subjective characterizations, opinion or hyperbole – none of which rise to the level of defamation, she argued. 

Isaak pointed to the federal case in which President Donald Trump prevailed after adult film star Stormy Daniels sued him for defamation. A judge ruled in October that Trump’s “rhetorical hyperbole” was protected by the First Amendment.

In many of Moore’s comments, Isaak said, the politician was responding to the multiple allegations made against him.

“Nothing is directed at Leigh Corfman,” Isaak said. 

However, Corfman’s attorney Jeff Doss – of the Birmingham firm Lightfoot, Franklin and White – said the “entire tapestry of comments” have to be considered to see the messaging that defamed his client.

Does pointed to Moore’s use of the word “malicious” in one comment. When people associated with Moore’s campaign spoke about the allegations, they suggested conspiracy theories and spoke half-truths, the attorney argued.

“Roy Moore all along never told them to stop,” Doss said. “The authorization was implied every step of the way.”

Isaak also represented Judge Roy Moore for U.S. Senate, which she said was only a financing committee to fund the “loose grassroots gathering of supporters” and should not be a part of the lawsuit.

Rochester asked each attorney if Judge Roy Moore for U.S. Senate would be a party in a lawsuit if one of its volunteers, say, got in a car accident while on the way to a courthouse.

Isaak said the question was a rabbit hole, but said she thought the campaign could not be sued in that instance. Doss said the committee was a plaintiff in a lawsuit Moore filed to challenge the results of the 2017 election.  

“I’m going to go through everything,” Rochester told the attorneys at the end of the hearing.

Moore announced in June that, in 2020, he will once again run for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Roy Moore Asks Alabama Judge to Dismiss Defamation Lawsuit

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Trump Says He’s King of the Jews. The Bible Says Otherwise.

By Candida Moss, The Daily Beast

In the early hours of Aug. 21, President Trump approvingly tweeted the words of Christian convert and radio host Wayne Allyn Root. The tweet compared Trump to “the King of Israel” and described him as being akin to “the second coming of God.” It went on to criticize “American Jews” who don’t like and support Trump.

As a number of commentators have noted, the tweets are wildly anti-Semitic: By definition, Jews don’t recognize Jesus as God or the Messiah. Expecting them to jump on board with the notion that Trump is “like Jesus” or “the Second Coming” is truly offensive. But anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism aside, this statement and Trump’s approval of it displays a mind-boggling ignorance of Christian theology that borders on blasphemy.

This isn’t the first time that Trump has been compared to a biblical hero. Pro-Trump Christians have been using the “King David” defense to excuse the president’s personal shortcomings for years. According to the Bible, David was chosen by God to lead his people. His elect status continues even though David had lusted after Bathsheba, seduced her, and engineered her husband Uriah’s death when she became pregnant. Despite it all, however, David remained chosen and was a man “after God’s own heart.” A sinner—but a powerful, divinely ordained sinner.

The shocking thing about this reading is that the strategy works: The David defense has seen Trump through no shortage of scandals, from the Stormy Daniels affair, to accusations of sexual assault, to his crude attacks on his opponents. In 2016, GOP donor Foster Friess said, “throughout history, God has harnessed imperfect people to fulfill his perfect will.” Pro-Trump Christians already have a framework through which to view and, if necessary, ignore Trump’s behavior. Continue Reading…

Trump Says He’s King of the Jews. The Bible Says Otherwise.

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The immorality of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump

(MENAFN – Jordan Times) LONDON — In a 2013 press conference, then-recently inaugurated Pope Francis famously said that, when it comes to sexual orientation, including past homosexual acts, ‘who am I to judge?’ Should we take a similarly non-judgmental approach to the past personal behaviour of our political leaders?

The question is acutely relevant today in both the United States and the United Kingdom. US President Donald Trump, who has already reached the height of political power in his country, and former UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who aspires to keep rising in the ranks, have in common not just their crude nationalism, but also their apparent inability to control their sexual appetites. 

Trump’s extramarital affairs are common knowledge, despite hefty pay-offs intended to silence his sexual partners, such as the adult film performer and stripper known as Stormy Daniels. Though Trump is far from the first US president with a long record of adultery, he stands out for the crudeness of his remarks about women.

As for Johnson, reports are circulating that his wife has kicked him out over an affair. While this is hardly his first, nor even the first time he has been given the boot, there are questions now about whether this will hurt his political ambitions, which many believe were the main motivation behind his decision to act as a leader of the campaign to withdraw the UK from the European Union.

But is it appropriate to judge political leaders based on their sex lives, as many have been wont to do? The answer, in my opinion, is no.

Of course, actions like sexual harassment or assault should inform our assessment of a leader. But while Trump has faced such accusations, Johnson has not. And, ultimately, we do not elect people to political office because we want them to act as standard bearers for our subjective, varied and evolving definitions of morality. Someone who has been unfaithful to his or her spouse can be a skilled leader, just as a faithful wife or husband can be a poor one.

Nonetheless, there are plenty of other problems with the leadership of both Trump and Johnson, who resigned from his post as foreign secretary in July over his opposition to the compromises that Prime Minister Theresa May’s government decided it would be willing to make in the Brexit negotiations with the EU. While Johnson has some rhetorical skill, which he has been using with increasing vigor to whip up support for a ‘hard Brexit’, the general view is that he was a hopeless diplomat, always preferring a cheap joke to a serious brief. During his stint as foreign secretary, Johnson was a near-constant cause of embarrassment for the UK, with gaffe after gaffe leaving Britain’s friends abroad with their heads in their hands.

Since leaving that position, Johnson has not cleaned up his act. Just last month, he made the Islamophobic declaration that Muslim women wearing niqabs resemble ‘bank robbers’ and ‘letter boxes’.

Soon after, Johnson described May’s EU negotiating position as being tantamount to wrapping ‘a suicide vest around the British constitution’ and handing the detonator to the EU. The comment was tasteless, to put it mildly, not least because 22 people, including children, were killed by a suicide bomber at a concert in Manchester last year.

Such statements are clearly not befitting of a British political leader, much like many of the racially charged and otherwise incendiary comments, not to mention actions, that Trump has made. But these leaders’ failures run even deeper. To understand them, it is worth looking at three reputable leaders who died this summer: former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan, former British foreign secretary and NATO secretary-general Peter Carrington and US senator John McCain.

Having worked with Annan and for Carrington, I can vouch for their grace, honour and commitment to truth. McCain plainly had the same qualities, not to mention a level of personal bravery far beyond what is expected of most of us, though it should be noted that Carrington was also a war hero. These leaders’ combination of honour and commitment to truth, two attributes that are intrinsically connected, is nowhere to be seen in Trump or Johnson.

No one would suggest that political leaders must respond to every question they are asked with entirely frank answers. That would be to expect behaviour far above and beyond what is normal. Dealing with life’s predicaments sometimes demands, to borrow the language of former UK cabinet secretary Robert Armstrong, that we are somewhat economical with the truth.

But there is a big difference between some economising, as even honourable leaders, like McCain and Carrington have surely done, and being a serial liar, as is the case with Trump and Johnson. Trump typically says whatever is in his short-term interest, though sometimes it seems that he does not even know what the truth is. Even his own lawyer is reputed to have described him as a liar.

Yet, Trump’s dishonesty runs even deeper: his entire nationalist political platform is based on the mendacious notion that America needs to be made great again. Yet, America was great before Trump, and his behaviour, riding roughshod over international agreements, trashing allies and pursuing protectionist trade measures, will only undermine that greatness by, among other things, depleting the country’s formidable stock of soft power. Similarly, Johnson’s Brexit campaign was based entirely on deception, crackpot economics and vainglorious wishful thinking.

A healthy democracy depends on an honest exchange of ideas and opinions, against a background of shared respect for facts and truth. The moral case against Trump and Johnson is not that they have been unfaithful to their wives, but rather that they subvert these conditions by lying relentlessly to the people they are supposed to represent.

Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong and a former EU commissioner for external affairs, is chancellor of the University of Oxford. Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2018.
www.project-syndicate.org

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The immorality of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump

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Avenatti Wants Stormy Daniels Fraud Case Moved To Calif.

Law360 (August 23, 2019, 5:38 PM EDT) — Michael Avenatti on Thursday asked a New York federal judge to transfer charges that he embezzled book deal funds from his former client, adult film actress Stormy Daniels, to California, saying they are essentially the same as the client fund theft rap the embattled attorney is facing in Orange County.

Avenatti, who is currently facing three separate federal criminal cases, asked the court to consolidate his case accusing him of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Daniels’ advance for her book, “Full Disclosure,” with the California action claiming he defrauded five former clients by lying to them about settlement money…

Avenatti Wants Stormy Daniels Fraud Case Moved To Calif.

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The Mooch Method

I thought I would have had to wait longer to get Anthony Scaramucci to give me his rules to live by. But the Mooch is well aware that time is money.

At 8:49 p.m., I paid $100 to get a personalized video from President Trump’s former communications director. Scaramucci is one of thousands, ranging from semi-celebrities to hemi-demi-semi-celebs, available for birthday greetings, wedding announcements, graduations and other essential moments in life on the online platform Cameo.com. I have asked the Mooch to tutor my friend “Wex” in the ways of success. I have placed my digital cash on the digital table. Before Scaramucci can pick it up, he must deliver a short video fulfilling my request.

It didn’t take long. Before I have even heard a single word of wisdom, the Mooch has proved that he knows the first rule of success: If some knucklehead wants to give you a hundred bucks to talk into your phone, for God’s sake, take it. By 9 p.m., my credit card was charged and the Mooch is in my mailbox.

I fear that I must have interrupted his dinner because Scaramucci does a little discreet chewing and tooth-sucking between life-lesson tidbits. But give the man his due. He is well-tailored and well-pressed, especially his snowy white shirt collar, tall and dandified enough for Tom Wolfe’s tastes. And that’s with less than 10 minutes’ notice.

The Mooch stumbles a bit with the name Wex. But who can blame him? It isn’t really a name but an abbreviated portmanteau derived from W-ashington EX-aminer. After all, if Beto can be a nickname, so too can Wex.

The preliminaries over with, Professor Scaramucci gets down to business, careful to deliver exactly what I have requested of him.

“I’m going to give you the four rules to live by.” The first of which is, “You’ve got to get up every morning and have a plan of attack.” Not bad advice. Though it does raise the question whether, back on that fateful day in July 2017, the Mooch woke up and decided that his day’s plan of attack included unleashing a farrago of obscenities about his White House colleagues to the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza.

Rule No. 2: “Plans change, so you have to be unbelievably adaptive in your life.” Plans do indeed change, as when one is fired for unleashing a farrago of obscenities about one’s White House colleagues to the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza.

But it’s Rule No. 3 where Scaramucci really delivers the goods: “You gotta be tough,” he says. “You can’t let people bully you.” If he had been video-phoning it in before, the Mooch now speaks with conviction: “I mean, look at what’s going on with me right now. I’ve got the president of the United States bullying me on his Twitter feed. And my wife is also being bullied on this j—off’s Twitter feed. You can’t have that!”

In the interest of journalistic fairness, I would have sought a response from the president, but Donald Trump is not available on Cameo. There are a number of Trump impersonators to choose from, but not the actual Tweeter-in-Chief.

Scaramucci is hardly the only Trump-world castoff trying to cash in courtesy of Cameo. At the website, one can see examples of the messages that can be personalized for a price. Omarosa ($58) is chipper and cheerful in her promotional Cameo sizzle-reel. Stormy Daniels ($250) goes through the motions with a sullen lassitude befitting her status as a professional.

My hundred-dollar minute with the Mooch is nearly up, and he draws to a close with a Mel Brooks line that he often repeats: “Relax,” Scaramucci says with a broad, vaguely reptilian smile. “None of us are gettin’ out of here alive.”

Eric Felten is the James Beard Award-winning author of How’s Your Drink?

The Mooch Method

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The president is correct: there is an insanity gripping our nation

President Donald Trump has publicly blamed mental illness for mass shootings and other gun violence. He is correct, to a point. I agree that there does exist an insanity, a moral pathology, that is endangering all of us – and many have already become victims. On the other hand, I do not understand the threat in the same way he does. Indeed, I believe Trump himself is the foundational problem for many of the dangers our nation now faces.

I do not offer this opinion with a political motivation. I write as a Christian and lifelong minister and seminary professor. My Christian faith dictates how I should live and requires that I do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. To be a silent witness to the troubling words and deeds of our nation’s leader would present a false testimony to my neighbors.

My intention is not to claim that Trump is mentally ill. In fact, the overwhelming majority of people who suffer from psychological disorders don’t say or do the mean-spirited things he does. I will not explain or excuse his behavior by associating it with illness. I am not a trained psychotherapist, but based generally upon my college minor in psychology more than 50 years ago and more specifically on my cross-cultural life experiences and career spent teaching Christian ethics, I feel justified in making a few observations and relevant connections for people of faith.

“His denial of reality concerning the harm humans are doing to our environment is pathological.”

Like a growing number of other observers, I conclude that the president’s behavior is abnormal for one who occupies the highest office in the land. More importantly, that behavior strikes me as radically different from how Jesus spoke and acted. It is wholly inconsistent with the ethical path that Christians claim to follow – mirroring the life of the one who is the Way. Speaking as a Christian, I refute the claims of people like Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign manager Brad Parscale, respectively, that Trump is “a man after God’s own heart,” that God “wanted him to be president” and that he is “a savior to our nation.”

Instead, I view the president’s character as wildly contrary to the portrait of God in Christ. I perceive him to be the polar opposite of the One to whom I am committed.

Looking at the life of Jesus, I see five traits (among others) that test my own life and that critique and challenge who Trump has proven to be. Jesus was humble, accepting, respectful, truthful and dependable.

The president is not humble.

His narcissism has taken America into dangerous, potentially lethal, relationships with global dictators in Russia and North Korea. Convinced that Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un think he is great, Trump has repeatedly discounted the evaluations of America’s intelligence agencies and developed bromances that overlook potential risks of underestimating the animosity these enemies of the United States feel toward our nation. Conversely, he has alienated America’s longtime friends and allies with his arrogant and rude behavior. World leaders of nations with historically close ties with our government – like Justin Trudeau of Canada, Angela Merkel of Germany, Emmanuel Macron of France and Theresa May of Great Britain – have felt slighted and offended, or alternately amused, by how the American president has treated them and the countries they represent.

“Trump’s blatant racism is hurting people both directly and indirectly.”

Likewise, Trump’s conviction that he is a “stable genius” has prompted him to claim to know more than America’s generals, scientists, economists and academics. For arguably the first time in memory, the “leader of the free world” makes decisions publicly and unilaterally on impulse, often without the knowledge or support of top advisers.

The president is not accepting.

Trump’s blatant racism is hurting people both directly and indirectly. His claims that our country is being “invaded” by illegal immigrants and refugees from Mexico and Latin America have emboldened irrational people to shout xenophobic, hateful words and to condone or even commit random or premeditated acts of violence. His assessment that Muslims should be blocked from entering our country has made it difficult for good people who identify with the second largest religion in the world to fulfill their dreams by moving to the United States, and it has put at risk those followers of the prophet Muhammad who already live here among us as our neighbors. His derogatory remarks about African nations and clear preference for Anglo-European countries like Norway echo the perverted ideology of the Ku Klux Klan and white nationalism. His transparent xenophobia has stirred him to call black athletes who protest injustice “sons of bitches” and to excuse excessive violence toward people of color by the police, ICE and border patrol agents.

The president is not respectful.

His sexism and heterosexism have threatened the status of women and the LGBTQ community. His brazen remarks about grabbing women’s private parts and his “scoring” women based on what he considers to be attractive physical attributes demean one-half of the American population. He slurs well-known figures who criticize or intimidate him, resorting to middle school epithets like “pig” (Rosie O’Donnell), “loser” (Cher), “horseface” (Stormy Daniels), “overrated” (Meryl Streep) and “crooked” (Hillary Clinton). He employs stigmatizing regulations and pronouncements to devalue the sacrificial service of LGBTQ and transgender Americans in the military.

These evidences of almost clinical unkindness are startling when they come out of the mouth of America’s highest elected leader.

The president is not truthful.

His inability to recognize or speak the truth has divided our nation, exacerbating some divisions and cynically creating others. Approximately half of American citizens defends him and seems to accept his exaggerations, distortions and lies as fact, even when his statements starkly contradict clearly-documented evidence and even what he has said previously, sometimes only moments before. Meanwhile, the other half of the populace attacks him and seems to reject his every utterance as fiction, regardless of whether his comments are scripted or spontaneous.

“I view the president’s character as wildly contrary to the portrait of God in Christ . . . the polar opposite of the One to whom I am committed.”

While the assertion that Trump has made over 12,000 false or misleading statements thus far during his presidency is disputed by his base, it is undeniable that he has a very strong penchant for “alternative facts.”

The president is not dependable.

His denial of reality concerning the harm humans are doing to our environment is pathological. His rollback of EPA regulations, which are designed to protect our national parks and wildlife, honor the sacred lands of our native peoples and make progress in alternative fuels and clean energy sources, is putting our children and grandchildren in serious jeopardy. His refusal to accept global scientific consensus about climate change translates into policies and programs that threaten future generations and the planet.

To deny what is affirmed by the vast majority of environmentalists and the science that undergirds their warnings, to use a British phrase, is “mental.”

The title of Eric Minton’s recent opinion article published by Baptist News Global asserts that “The President is right: Mental illness is killing all of us.” It’s true. Insanity – moral disorder – imperils our people, our nation, our earth. Some of us are dying, literally, as a result of growing right-wing hatred and unregulated gun proliferation. Others of us are in grave danger of dying one day as the result of a nuclear accident or attack or from massive, irreversible climate disaster.

But more subtly, more insidiously, other treasures of inestimable value are being lost. Our sense of honor is dying. Our reason to feel proud is dying. Our national soul is dying.

The president is correct that together we are experiencing a frightening dis-ease. What he doesn’t seem to recognize is that he is the source of much of the chaos.

The president is correct: there is an insanity gripping our nation

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UK Tax Filings Show Trump Inflated Value of Scottish Resorts by $165 Million

Donald Trump in June 2016 at Trump International in Scotland. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Despite California’s Trump-targeting law requiring candidates to release their tax returns in order to be listed on the ballot for the state’s 2020 primary, the president’s tax filings remain as opaque as they were when he dipped his elevator shoes into politics in 2015. But Trump’s tax elusivity does not hold up abroad, as the president has to file detailed balance sheets in the United Kingdom for his Scottish golf courses: Trump International outside Aberdeen and Trump Turnberry in Ayrshire. According to numbers from the U.K. filings published by HuffPost, the president’s resorts abroad aren’t doing as hot as he says they are.

In a 2018 U.S. filing, Trump claimed that his courses in Ayrshire and Aberdeen were each worth over $50 million, but in the U.K., the balance sheets showed that their combined debt exceeded assets by the equivalent of $64.8 million. In a 2018 public financial disclosure filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, he stated that the U.K. golf courses made a profit of $23.8 million, though filings in the U.K. for that same time period showed a loss equal to $6.3 million. In addition, the U.S. disclosure does not mention the $199.5 million in loans Trump has made to his U.K. Scottish links, made up of a $54.9 million personal loan to Trump International and $144.6 million from his trust to Trump Turnberry.

Anthony Scaramucci cashes in on Trump feud: ‘So far, he hasn’t laid a glove on me’

Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, besides engaging in an increasingly nasty Twitter war with President Trump, is renting himself out on video for $100 per hit.

At Cameo.com, you can hire Mr. Scaramucci to record birthday greetings for your Trump-hating friends, help organize your fantasy football league or say just about anything else within reason.

In a video message last week for two lawyers named Peter and Art, Mr. Scaramucci said into the camera: “Both of you guys are anti-Trump. Let me tell you something. I did my best to try to support this guy. But he’s, you know, off his rocker.”

Mr. Scaramucci confided about the president to the two strangers, “He doesn’t take any counsel. He’s now blowing up the global economy with the trade thing. We will survive that, the economy will be fine. It’s just the racist nonsense. You don’t want to destroy the social fabric of the country. But anyway, I’m giving you guys a shoutout.”

Ka-ching.



Mr. Scaramucci is not the only one from the Trump world available at Cameo.com. Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman can be hired for $58; porn actress Stormy Daniels commands $250.

The rest of the world is getting Mr. Scaramucci’s rebellious views of the president free of charge. The man who once proclaimed at the White House press podium of Mr. Trump, “I love the guy,” now is calling the president a crazy, narcissistic “jackass.”

“He’s a paper tiger,” Mr. Scaramucci told Vanity Fair last week. “He can be completely dismantled and defeated. We gotta defeat him.”

Mr. Scaramucci said Monday that he is assembling “a team of people that feel the exact same way that I do.”

“This is not a ‘Never Trump‘ situation, this is not just screeching rhetoric,” he said on CNN. “This is, ‘OK, the guy’s unstable, everyone inside knows it, everyone outside knows it, let’s see if we can find a viable alternative.’ Moreover, I’ve got to get some of these former Cabinet officials in unity to speak up about it.”

Mr. Trump has noticed, and he is counterpunching with tweets of derisive fury.

Anthony Scaramucci is a highly unstable ‘nut job’ who was with other candidates in the [2016] primary who got shellacked, & then unfortunately wheedled his way into my campaign,” the president tweeted Monday. “I barely knew him until his 11 days of gross incompetence — made a fool of himself, bad on TV. Abused staff, got fired.”

Mr. Trump added, “He was a mental wreck. We didn’t want him around. Now Fake News puts him on like he was my buddy!”

There was a time in summer 2017 when the president spoke favorably to aides about Mr. Scaramucci as “the young Italian kid.”

Mr. Scaramucci, 55, a Wall Street hedge fund manager, was one of the president’s most visible and vocal defenders on TV, and Mr. Trump rewarded him with the job of White House communications director in a move that caught some in the West Wing by surprise.

Anthony is a person I have great respect for, and he will be an important addition to this administration,” the president said at the time.

After 11 turbulent days, Mr. Scaramucci was forced out by then-White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, a victim of his own theatrics. Along the way, he threatened mass firings in the press shop for leaking and drew ridicule for a profanity-laced tirade published in a New Yorker interview that, he said, he thought was off the record.

Mr. Scaramucci remained mostly supportive of the president until a few weeks ago. He said the breaking point was what he considers Mr. Trump’s “racist” rhetoric against four female House freshman lawmakers, all of whom are minorities.

White House aides and allies are dismissing his criticisms as self-serving and revisionist.

“I think what’s motivating Scaramucci is that he’s trying to rehabilitate his image in New York with his colleagues who have had a big problem with him being pro-Trump,” said one Republican close to the West Wing. “He is trying to show people, way before the 2020 elections, that he is a changed man. It feels very disingenuous to come after the president after supporting him for so long.”

This Republican said Mr. Scaramucci also might have been feeling ostracized socially in liberal New York City.

“He’s still playing at a really high level on the social circuit,” the Republican said. “I’m sure no one is sitting at his lunch table right now, and he’s trying to make some new friends.”

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham criticized the media for giving Mr. Scaramucci a megaphone.

“He worked at the White House for less than two weeks and is certainly no expert on this president,” she told Sinclair. “This is all self-serving on his part, and the media plays right into it. It’s embarrassing to watch.”

Former White House communications director Mercedes Schlapp said Mr. Scaramucci was “too weak and too much of a loser to survive the stresses of a White House.”

Mr. Scaramucci, who also has a weekly podcast with wife Deirdre called “Mooch and the Mrs.,” acknowledges that he has “eaten crow over the last two or three years.”

“I’m in a Twitter war with the president of the United States,” Mr. Scaramucci said on the podcast last week. “Just think about how surreal and ridiculous that is. But I have been successful in detaching my emotions from it.”

He said of the president, “So far, he hasn’t laid a glove on me.”

In recent days, Mr. Scaramucci has been openly speculating that Mr. Trump will abandon his reelection bid early next year if his polling doesn’t improve.

“There is a scenario — it’s less than 5% — that the president doesn’t run,” he said on his podcast. “I’m not ruling out voting for President Trump. I just wish he would stop — there’s no reason for racist tweets coming from the Oval Office. If he doesn’t cut it out, I do predict that there is a 5% chance, maybe less than that, of an intervention, where a group of senior leadership in the Republican Party says, ‘OK, it’s going a bridge too far.’”

He recited for his audience some of the harsh criticisms coming at him from White House aides.

On the podcast, his wife urged him to get off social media.

“You’re spending way too much time online,” Mrs. Scaramucci told her husband. “Why are you wasting your life reading these comments from people who mean nothing to you?”

He replied, “Because I’m stupid. And human.”

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Anthony Scaramucci cashes in on Trump feud: ‘So far, he hasn’t laid a glove on me’

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Four Lawtech Startups Transforming The Way The Legal Sector Operates

Transforming the legal sector

Transforming the legal sector

Pixabay

It’s almost impossible these days for legal professionals to operate without the aid of technologies such as automation, data, and AI. The lawtech movement has expanded rapidly across the sector, making legal processes faster and more efficient, reducing operating costs, and making legal services more accessible to those who need them.

Lexoo

The legal industry is experiencing a shift in mindset with in-house lawyers under pressure to do more with less and increasingly questioning the established practices and fee structure of the big city law firms.

Lexoo began as an online marketplace for lawyers and is evolving into a ‘new law’ company, providing bespoke and tech-enabled teams of former big law lawyers typically on a fixed-fee basis. Founded in 2014 by Daniel van Binsbergen, a former lawyer at De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, and Chris O’Sullivan, a developer, last October Lexoo closed a $4.4 million Series A financing round led by Earlybird, with investors including Ned Staple, General Counsel at Zoopla.

Lexoo now has a network of over 1,000 lawyers covering 65 countries delivering work at around 50% of the cost of a traditional law firm. Lexoo lawyers are typically former big firm lawyers with at least six years’ commercial law experience and are individually vetted to ensure quality.

As well as being the alternative platform of choice for leading disruptors such as Monzo, Transferwise and Revolut, Lexoo is increasingly being used by major enterprises and is on the legal panel of a number of corporates including Vodafone and Travelodge.

“In-house lawyers are open to working with alternative legal services providers across an increasingly wide range of work,” says CEO van Binsbergen. “We’re also benefiting from the rise of the legal operations manager, which is forcing businesses to prioritize the effectiveness of their legal dollars over legacy relationships.”

CrowdJustice

Unfairness in the UK justice system has meant that it doesn’t work for everyone. In 2015 that prompted lawyer Julia Salasky to leave the security of her job to create a new type of access to justice and launched CrowdJustice, a crowdfunding platform for public interest litigation.

As a commercial litigator at Linklaters, where she did a lot of pro bono work, Salasky had seen at first hand how difficult it was for ordinary people to access legal services.

“In short, legal teams and clients now have a funding option where, for a lot of people, there used to be a dead end,” says Salasky. “What CrowdJustice offers is an opportunity to bring people together and take on the fight.”

The startup selects public interest cases and invites the public to fund them. Through the CrowdJustice platform people can raise funds for their legal matters, and build a community of support as they move through the legal system.

Some of the most famous cases involving CrowdJustice, which expanded to the U.S. in 2017, have included a legal challenge to establish that the UK’s parliament must vote on the outcome of Brexit, and in another case to fund Stormy Daniels’ legal costs against President Donald Trump.

InCloudCounsel

One of the biggest challenges for legal professionals is coping with high volumes of routine legal work that can have a negative impact on work-life balance. InCloudCounsel is a lawtech startup that provides remote, flexible work opportunities for freelance lawyers and manages routine legal work.

Founded in 2014 by three friends, lawyer Ben Levi, management consultant Troy Pospisil, and software engineer Lane Lillquist, InCloudCounsel has introduced a gig economy-based model of legal work, incorporating technologies such as AI, automation and machine learning.

It frees up large companies from the negotiation and management of routine legal work, such as NDAs and vendor contracts.

“We do this by combining a curated network of experienced freelance attorneys with our end-to-end software platform that’s backed by AI and machine learning,” says Levi.

Implemented across hundreds of companies InCloudCounsel has created hundreds of work opportunities for corporate attorneys wanting a flexible yet steady remote work arrangement; a concept that’s nearly unheard of in corporate law.

Earlier this year InCloudCounsel opened an office in London and plans to open its first office in Asia-Pacific by the end of 2019.

Farillio

As a lawyer, serial entrepreneur and customer of legal services for many years, Merlie Calvert experienced the struggle of finding key-information and materials needed to thrive as a business and became obsessed with fixing it. In 2018 she launched Farillio.

She says: “We built an online ‘cookbook’, stuffed with comprehensive recipes that meet the everyday objectives that small businesses experience, from help with HR and handling complaints, to harnessing IP and much more. We dropped those into a Google Docs-style, collaborative environment that’s pre-populated with the ingredients to deliver on those objectives.”

Shortlisted in the U.K. Startups 100 list in 2019, Farillio’s solution for democratizing legal and business services for SMEs, empowering them to solve everyday business problems.

Users can access ‘how-to’ video tutorials, checklists, infographics, and curated templates, plus experts on a pay-as-you-go basis is extra help is needed via the platform’s user-friendly technology.

“We’re a springboard to business success and a safety net if problems arise,” says Calvert.

Farillio has raised more than £1.5 million ($1.8 million) from Lord Stanley Fink and other angel investors. 

Four Lawtech Startups Transforming The Way The Legal Sector Operates

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How celebrity shout-out startup Cameo is trying to turn its 15 minutes into full-fledged stardom

For as along as there’s been a cadre of the rich, famous, and influential, there’s also been the public in their wake fascinated by their every move. Researchers in the 1950s actually coined the term para-social interaction to describe the perceived relationship people have with public figures.

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Celebrity obsession may be nothing new, but how we interact with them (and who’s even deserving of that title) has seen a significant evolution. Social media has given the public unprecedented access to their favorite celebrities, while simultaneously creating a new class, aka influencers. This intersection of accessibility and entrepreneurship is what cofounder and CEO Steven Galanis is using as the foundation for his company Cameo.

Founded in 2017, Cameo is a platform where users pay celebrities to make personalized video messages. Celebrities on the platform—including Snoop Dogg (who’s also an investor), Tituss Burgess, and Stormy Daniels—set their own rates, which can range anywhere from $25 per video to Caitlyn Jenner’s exorbitant fee of $2,500. Users give a brief description of what they want them to say or who the message is for, and within a few days or even hours, a video is delivered.

Cameo taps into our celebrity obsession while simultaneously providing a new revenue stream of long-tail content for creators. Investors have taken notice: Kleiner Perkins led its $50 million series B funding round (it’s raised $65 million to date). The company currently has 15,000 celebrities who have produced more than 300,000 videos.

Cameo’s appeal is evident: It’s a fun and flashy way to surprise (or playfully troll) family and friends. But there’s a long road in front of the startup to prove that it’s more than just a novelty. Here’s how Cameo is trying to turn its 15 minutes into full-fledged stardom.

Star search

The running joke against Cameo is that it’s something of a respirator for C-list celebrities gasping for their last bit of relevancy and revenue. But the way Galanis sees it, one person’s “C” is another’s “A”—and, point of fact, can be better for the company overall. “If Drake was on Cameo, for example, maybe he would charge $10,000 and there’s just not as many people in the world that can afford that,” Galanis says. “Our number one KPI (key performance indicator) at Cameo is the amount of Cameos created. So for us it’s not just about who’s making them, it’s about how many people are we delighting?”

With its most recent cash infusion, Galanis says the company’s first priority is getting more international celebrities on the platform. “We’re seeing rabid customer demand coming from overseas even though we haven’t largely acquired a significant amount of foreign talent,” he says.

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Around 30% of bookings come from people outside of the United States, but, by Galanis’ estimate, less than 5% of talent on the platform is from other parts of the world. Some of Cameo’s target countries for more immediate expansion include Australia, the U.K., Canada, and Mexico. Certain archetypes have proven more successful on the platform stateside (namely, musicians and comedians), so Galanis believes finding those counterparts abroad will play well, in addition to tapping celebrities who lord over country- or region-specific fandoms (K-pop in South Korea, soccer players across Europe, cricket players and Bollywood stars in India, and so forth).

That’s where Cameo cofounder Martin Blencowe comes in. The British actor turned producer (he had a hand in not one but two Bruce Willis action thrillers) turned entrepreneur recently moved from Los Angeles to London in order to head up the company’s expansion efforts.

“Steven likes to sometimes call me a talent whisperer as a joke,” Blencowe says. “I’ve signed people up in the gym, anywhere you can imagine.” Rapper Tyga? A run-in at the Beverly Hills hotel. Actor Taye Diggs? At Soho House.

Blencowe admits that some celebrities have flat-out refused. “We’re too young [as a company]. We’re not the norm yet. I get that,” he says.

Cameo’s “delight” factor has become part of the company’s ethos—not to mention a selling point for some celebrities. “You just got to find the thing that motivates them,” Blencowe says of the talent recruitment process. “Because some guys it’s not always money—some guys see the fan reactions [from other Cameos] and they’re like, ‘I want to do that. I want to make people feel that way.’ ”

Cameo co-founders, Steven Galanis (left) and Martin Blencowe (right). [Photo: courtesy of Cameo]

Finding new revenue streams

Cameo’s prime source of revenue today comes from the 25% cut the company takes from each transaction, which is not only far less than, say, YouTube’s purported 45% cut of ad revenue with creators but also avoids the increasingly fractious ad-supported business model of traditional social-media platforms altogether. “The great thing about this compared to having a startup where you’ve got to build an audience and sell eyeballs is, this is a transaction,” says Paul Hardart, director of the entertainment, media, and technology program at New York University Stern School of Business. “There is a real business model.”

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The challenge, of course, is that transaction means that the chances any one person will regularly buy Cameos is also pretty slim. “It might be funny for your wedding, your birthday, [or if] you’ve got a big test, but a lot of these are not cheap,” Hardart says. “Snapchat or Facebook or Instagram, those are things that people use multiple times during the day. How do you turn [Cameo] into something that people are integrating into their lives more regularly? When there’s a transaction cost, that gets to be harder.”

Which is why Galanis is looking to brands for to open up a new revenue stream.

Cameo’s standard content/user agreement gives ownership rights of the video to the talent and Cameo; the user is effectively a leaseholder. They’re encouraged to post and share the videos they receive but only for noncommercial purposes.

But now Cameo is experimenting with a new option where brands can license a celebrity’s content to repurpose as part of a campaign. For example, as Galanis lays out, Charlie Sheen charges $550 for a regular Cameo video, but for a brand he could go as high as $5,000 for an endorsement. The company is currently testing this branded tier with about 10 celebrities.

Kool-Aid recently became the first brand on Cameo, working with a host of celebrities. To celebrate National Kool-Aid Day (August 14), the brand worked with the digital agency VaynerMedia to create a Cameo-centric campaign including putting The Kool-Aid Man on the platform as a bookable celebrity for free (they allotted 50 Cameos, which were filled in 20 minutes). They also created a music video of Cameo celebrities including Raven-Symoné, Sisqó, Flavor Flav, and Ryan Cabrera singing what Kool-Aid is calling their “Oh Yeah Anthem.”

“It’s really like a seamless experience, the likes of which really don’t exist in the traditional world of the marketing ad agency model with talent,” says Nick Miaritis, executive vice president at VaynerMedia. “To get Flavor Flav to do something would normally be six meetings and 17 phone calls. Now it’s the press of a button. So from a creative perspective on the agency side, this idea of frictionless communication with talent is fascinating.”

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Cameo is also exploring how to leverage their stable of celebrities for charitable causes. Blencowe says they’re in the early stages of collaborating with actor and comedian Bryan Callen (The Hangover) to do something in the viral vein of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge for the nonprofit Operation Smile, an organization dedicated to giving children access to cleft lip and palate surgeries.

“For two months, we’ve been trying to find out what is that thing for Operation Smile. Is it a song? Is it a dance? It’s more complicated than I hoped for but then if you get it, hopefully we can do a lot of good with it,” Blencowe says.

As Blencowe is trying to create more brand awareness with talent, Miaritis urges Cameo to do the same with advertisers, explaining how the platform could fit within their campaign strategies.

“At this stage in the game, I would say them communicating general awareness to the ad community of what this is and how powerful it can be for brands is my number one, two, and three priority for them,” Miaritis says. “I’ve got ideas in my mind which are like, how do we do this at scale 5,000 times a day? How do we surprise and delight 5,000 customers of another brand in the house today with something on Cameo?”

Building a brand that lasts

Even with a broader, more international user base and talent pool and brands gravitating to the platform, there’s still something of a “so what?” factor to Cameo: You buy one for a friend, and they post it to Instagram or tweet it out. It gets the word out, sure, but all those likes, retweet, and comments are engagement on another platform. There’s no sense of community on Cameo right now and that could make for a rather slippery trek as the company tries to gain its foothold in an already crowded social space.

“The branding of it is gonna be really important because it has the hallmarks of something that could be kind of a passing trend,” NYU’s Hardart says.

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Miaritis adds, “The same way on Facebook certain meme content gets suppressed a bit more by their algorithm, it’ll be interesting to see how big this could get and how long it goes before it becomes something that feels almost spammy. That’s the one thing that with explosive growth, it comes with the risk of it’s here today, gone tomorrow.”

Part of that problem stems from the fact that Cameo can’t offer customers the opportunity to transact through its iOS app because of Apple’s 30% commission for each in-app purchase, ironically enough a higher cut than Cameo takes.

“We have a 75/25 split with talent. It’s so criminal the rate that Apple tries to take for payment processing in the app,” Galanis says. “[Payment platform] Stripe is under 3%. For us, we’ve launched mobile but we are not going to go into the app store until that changes.” Cameo is fully available on Android.

Right now, Galanis is focused on building the platform into a space with a higher frequency of engagement. He says in the next two to three months, Cameo needs to evolve into a two-way messaging platform (e.g., texting with celebrities) and/or a content platform.

Judging from how frequently both Galanis and Blencowe brought up the impact Cameo is having on people’s everyday lives, building out content that gives the context around a video seems to be the higher priority. “We’ve seen people getting engaged with this platform, and people come out to their parents—so many of life’s biggest moments Cameo now is playing a pretty central role to it,” Galanis says. “Enabling users to share their stories is something that can be super compelling. We know people love watching the videos. So how do we build a content business around that?”

[Image: courtesy of Cameo]The other challenge Galanis says they’re addressing immediately is search and discoverability on the platform. When Cameo first started, the number of celebrities was manageable enough to scroll through every single one. Now, with more than 15,000 options, you have to know who you’re looking for. The fix: a more personalized version of Cameo where, as you’re scrolling, you see the most relevant options to you based on people you’ve selected before.

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Galanis says that Cameo’s tallest hurdles to clear at the moment are all about scaling the team and the platform itself.

But what about the infamous Brett Favre incident?

Back in 2018, the former Green Bay Packers quarterback fulfilled a request from a user that, at first, seemed like an innocuous shoutout. However, as it was later discovered, the message Favre was asked to deliver was loaded with coded anti-Semitic language. As Cameo elevates its profile, and as content shared on social media continues to be more and more weaponized, there is a risk that the Favre incident could happen again, if it hasn’t already. But Galanis was bullish on the issue.

“We built the infrastructure [to filter requests] and we continue to iterate on it all the time,” he says. “There’s always going to be bad actors out there, but I’d put our safety record against any platform that’s ever existed. I think we fixed something that could have been an existential threat to the company, and we’ve turned that into a huge strength. There is no way that another platform would be safer than what we’re doing.”

All the talent in the world

Cameo is standing at critical juncture: It has a sizable talent roster, notable investors, and brands and users willing to pay for the product. Competitors such as CelebVM, Greetzly, and Starsona have popped up, but none have quite entered the zeitgeist like Cameo has—and by “entered,” it’s more like a foot in the door. How successful Galanis and Blencowe are at executing their strategies for growth and, most importantly, cultural relevancy will play out soon enough. The main thing on Galanis’ mind: perfect the core product and “don’t fuck it up.”

“What we’re really building at Cameo is the marketplace where for X amount of money, you can do Y activity with Z person. We’ve just been focused on doing one Y activity with as many people as possible,” he says. “Our game plan is to get all of the talent in the world on Cameo. The fight for simplicity is also a value at Cameo. It’s really important that we have something that’s super easy and intuitive for [users and celebrities] to figure out. Once people start figuring it out, that’s when we would starting experimenting.”

How celebrity shout-out startup Cameo is trying to turn its 15 minutes into full-fledged stardom

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New court documents detail alleged text messages between UK coach, Nike basketball official

California attorney Michael Avenatti makes a statement as he leaves a courthouse in New York on July 23 as he faces charges accusing him of cheating porn star Stormy Daniels out of $300,000 in a book deal.

California attorney Michael Avenatti makes a statement as he leaves a courthouse in New York on July 23 as he faces charges accusing him of cheating porn star Stormy Daniels out of $300,000 in a book deal. AP

The exhibits previously mentioned in the motion filed on behalf of attorney Michael Avenatti to dismiss charges against him related to the college basketball corruption scandal were released Friday, and they include the text messages purported to be between Nike official Carlton DeBose and a University of Kentucky assistant coach.

According to the motion, the messages sent in the early morning hours of July 6, 2017, are communications between DeBose, the head of Nike’s EYBL travel circuit, and the UK assistant, whose name appears in the messages as “KP.”

Kenny Payne has been on John Calipari’s coaching staff at Kentucky since 2010.

“KP” asks DeBose in the first message included in the exhibit: “Do u help people like Webster and speedy every year and how many more people asked you to help them. They both are happy u are helping them how many more are their.”

DeBose responds with a list of about 10 Nike league coaches who he says “are helping families to the total of about ($200,000) annually.”

“Wow,” KP responds.

“Can it come back n hurt you?” reads a later message from “KP.”

“Not really,” DeBose responds. “Have to to do it cleanly and with a process. I’m good but it’s enough to where Lynn and Nico don’t want to know the intimate details to cover their asses. So it’s a risk but my every day job is a damn risk so I’m used to it now.”

Lynn Merrit is a senior official in Nike’s basketball marketing operation. Nico Harrison is Nike’s vice president of North American basketball operations.

“Watch your back bro,” KP responds to DeBose.

The motion to dismiss federal charges against Avenatti filed this week on his behalf alleged several instances of Nike officials planning to pay high school players. One of those examples was, “DeBose acknowledged in an exchange of text messages with an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky that Nike was funneling payments to high school players through at least ten different EYBL coaches.”

That was the only mention of Kentucky’s basketball program in the 50-page court filing, and the text messages released Friday to support that statement showed no evidence that “KP” had any prior knowledge or involvement in the alleged plan to pay recruits.

The filing on behalf of Avenatti also accused Nike officials of conspiring to pay at least $35,000 to Zion Williamson, $20,000 to Romeo Langford, and $15,000 to a player from Michigan who was not named because he is a minor. Additional documents to back up those claims were also included in Friday’s update to the motion along with several other documents showing communication between Nike officials.

There was nothing in Friday’s filing that showed any wrongdoing on the part of the aforementioned players, and there was no evidence presented that those players were even made aware of the alleged plan.

These court filings revolve around the Avenatti legal team’s argument that federal investigators mishandled the case that led to charges against him earlier this year. The lawyer was charged with extortion, and federal investigators characterized his conduct toward Nike as a “shakedown” — accusing Avenatti of threatening to release evidence against the company unless Nike agreed to a payment of more than $20 million.

Avenatti has disputed those charges, and the court filings this week seek to prove that he was simply trying to arrange for a settlement for his client, Gary Franklin, a Nike-affiliated AAU coach who says he was used by Nike grassroots officials to make payments to associates of some of his highest-profile players, DeAndre Ayton, Bol Bol and Brandon McCoy, while they were still in high school.

The documents released Friday also show an email sent to DeBose in July 2016 from Mel McDonald, who was connected to the recruitments of Ayton and Bol, showing expenses that appear to be related to Ayton’s recruitment.

One of those expenses is dated Dec. 12 and refers to “5k in Kentucky (3 cells 2k cash).”

Ayton’s high school team, Hillcrest Prep (Ariz.), played two games in Lexington on Dec. 12 and Dec. 13, 2015.

UK was at times linked to Ayton’s recruitment, but the Wildcats did not seriously pursue the No. 1-ranked player in the 2017 class in the latter stages of his recruitment. Ayton never took a recruiting visit to UK, and he committed to Arizona (a Nike school) in the fall of 2016 and later became the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Two Adidas officials were found guilty last year of federal crimes related to the college basketball corruption scandal, which also led to the arrest of four assistant coaches at major colleges and directly resulted in Rick Pitino’s ouster as the head coach of Louisville in 2017.

Shortly after the initial round of arrests and charges related to the scandal in the fall of 2017, Nike was served with a federal subpoena as part of the ongoing investigation. The documents included in this week’s court filing on behalf of Avenatti were handed over to the federal government as a result of that subpoena.

No one associated with Nike has been charged as a result of the investigation, and the company has not specifically commented on Avenatti’s claims.

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Ben Roberts covers UK basketball, football and other sports for the Lexington Herald-Leader and has specialized in UK basketball recruiting for the past several years. He also maintains the Next Cats recruiting blog, which features the latest news on the Wildcats’ recruiting efforts.

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New court documents detail alleged text messages between UK coach, Nike basketball official

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Michael Avenatti blames arrest on “vindictive” prosecutors, claims Nike was paying amateur athletes

NEW YORK — Lawyer Michael Avenatti wants a judge to dismiss criminal charges that he extorted Nike, and he is blaming his arrest on what he calls vindictive prosecutors as he releases material his attorneys say support his claims the sportswear company was paying amateur athletes.

Avenatti’s attorneys filed papers Wednesday in Manhattan federal court, saying the lawyer who gained fame by representing porn star Stormy Daniels and by sparring on social media with President Donald Trump is being unfairly targeted by the Justice Department.

The lawyers wrote that Avenatti was facing criminal charges in part because of “his aggressive public persona, long feud with President Trump, and brief entanglement with” New York prosecutors who blamed him for spoiling a planned meeting with Daniels last year in their probe of ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.

Cohen is serving a three-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to charges.

“President Trump, the leader of the Executive Branch, and his family have demonstrated genuine animus toward Mr. Avenatti,” the lawyers said. “President Trump’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., gleefully celebrated on Twitter when Mr. Avenatti was arrested on March 25.”

Prosecutors declined through a spokesman to comment.

Avenatti has pleaded not guilty to charges he tried to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening to publicize claims the sportswear company enabled payouts to promising young athletes and their families.

Avenatti represented Daniels over a nondisclosure deal regarding Daniels’ claims that she had an affair with Trump.

Avenatti is also charged separately with defrauding Daniels in a book deal, and he faces federal fraud charges in California related to clients. He has denied wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, Avenatti’s lawyers gave a glimpse of some of the alleged wrongdoing within Nike that Avenatti claimed he referenced with their lawyers before his arrest.

The lawyers said “widespread corruption of amateur basketball at Nike” was revealed in evidence given to Avenatti’s lawyers as they prepare for a November trial.

They cited, for instance, proof that an unspecified University of Kentucky men’s basketball assistant coach exchanged text messages with a Nike youth league director alleging that the company’s plan to pay elite high school players included New Orleans rookie and No. 1 overall draft pick Zion Williamson, as well as Romeo Langford, chosen 14th in the NBA draft by the Boston Celtics. There was no claim a payment was made.

The filing said Nike Elite Youth Basketball League director Carlton Debose acknowledged texting the Wildcats assistant that Nike paid players “through at least ten different” Elite League coaches.

The filing also said a Nike executive who led “Event Strategy” for the Elite League told a colleague “about carrying large amounts of cash through airport security and indicated that she would lie and ‘just say I just sold my car’ if she got stopped.”

Nike said in a statement: “Nike will not respond to the allegations of an individual facing federal charges of fraud and extortion. Nike will continue its cooperation with the government’s investigation into grassroots basketball and the related extortion case.”

In a statement, Kentucky said that the athletic department remains “committed to compliance in all facets. … and will work closely with the NCAA and Southeastern Conference when necessary on any and all matters.”

Michael Avenatti blames arrest on “vindictive” prosecutors, claims Nike was paying amateur athletes

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Avenatti filing: Nike OK’d payments to Zion, more

Attorneys representing lawyer Michael Avenatti filed a court motion on Wednesday that alleges that a Nike employee at least approved under-the-table payments to former Duke star Zion Williamson and ex-Indiana star Romeo Langford when they were still in high school in February 2017.

The alleged offers — $35,000 or more for Williamson and $20,000 for Langford — were purportedly discovered among “text messages, e-mails and other documents from 2016-17 … proving that Nike executives had arranged for and concealed payments, often in cash, to amateur basketball players and their families and ‘handlers,'” according to the motion filed in U.S. District Court in New York.

There is no evidence that the offers or payments were made to Williamson, Langford or their families. Williamson played one season at Duke and was the No. 1 pick by the New Orleans Pelicans in this year’s NBA draft. Langford also was one-and-done at Indiana and was the No. 14 pick by the Boston Celtics.

Avenatti was arrested and charged by federal prosecutors in March with attempting to extort up to $25 million from Nike by threatening to expose the shoe company’s alleged improper payments to high-profile players in its grassroots basketball league, the EYBL.

Avenatti has pleaded not guilty, and on Wednesday his lawyers asked a federal judge to dismiss the charges on grounds of vindictive and selective prosecution.

“The evidence shows I should have never been arrested, let alone charged,” Avenatti told ESPN on Wednesday. “I was targeted. Nike, Zion, Duke and many others have a lot of explaining to do.”

Among the allegations included in Avenatti’s motion to dismiss:

• Nike EYBL manager Jamal James texted EYBL director Carlton DeBose and Nike recruiting coordinator John Stovall in February 2017, asking whether they would be “willing to do … whatever may be needed for the Zion/Romeo situations as well as the money we’re now going to do for the [unnamed] kid in Michigan.”

According to the motion, Stovall responded:

“Langford – 20 Zion – 35 plus [Unnamed minor player] – 15”

“Debose allegedly responded that he was willing to pay Langford, Williamson and the unnamed player a total of $70,000 and that they should ‘stay aggressive’ while he got ‘creative’ with the budget,” according to the motion.

Stovall later informed James and DeBose that they had “not presented our new offer” to Williamson but agreed that it was not a good idea “to put it in print.”

• An EYBL coach expressed concern to Nike executives about players and family members being paid by the shoe company and said he couldn’t “see how this ends well for Nike or the EYBL. Some of us will be deemed guilty by association; others will be found guilty of failure to supervise.”

• DeBose told Nico Harrison, Nike’s vice president of North America basketball operations, that he was “willing to bet that 38 of the 40 teams in the EYBL had to pay a moderate to considerable ransom to families just to play in the EYBL. Of these approximate 38 teams these arrangements are being viewed as a contract by the families and players.”

• Rachel Baker, a Nike executive who led event strategy for the EYBL, allegedly expressed concern to a colleague about carrying large amounts of cash through airport security and indicated that she would lie and “just say I just sold my car” if she was stopped by security.

• Debose acknowledged in an exchange of text messages with an unnamed assistant coach at Kentucky that Nike was “funneling payments to high school players through at least 10 different EYBL coaches.”

The motion included references to emails, text messages and other documents, but those were not attached to the motion to dismiss. A footnote said they would be filed “as soon as the parties resolve any possible redactions to the exhibits pursuant to the protective order.”

According to the federal complaint, Avenatti threatened to hold a news conference on the eve of Nike’s quarterly earnings call and the start of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, at which time he would announce allegations of misconduct by Nike employees.

Avenatti represented Gary Franklin, a former coach of the California Supreme of the EYBL. Franklin’s former players include NBA players Deandre Ayton (who played at Arizona) of the Phoenix Suns, De’Anthony Melton (USC) and Solomon Hill (Arizona) of the Memphis Grizzlies, Aaron Holiday (UCLA) of the Indiana Pacers, and Bol Bol (Oregon) of the Denver Nuggets.

The motion alleges that DeBose directed Franklin to make multiple payments to people associated with amateur players, including $30,000 to Ayton’s handler, Mel McDonald; $15,000 to former UNLV star Brandon McCoy’s handler, Shaun Manning; $10,000 in cash and travel expenses to Ayton’s mother and family; and more than $42,000 to McDonald once he was working with Bol.

“Nike executives directed Coach Franklin to submit false invoices to Nike to disguise the payments as travel expenses and sponsorships for 501 (c) (3) organizations,” the motion says. “Coach Franklin was forced out by Nike executives when he no longer felt comfortable going along with their scheme.”

In early 2018, according to the motion, Franklin sought advice from Jeffrey Auerbach, an entertainment industry executive and consultant in California.

On Feb. 6, 2019, Auberbach allegedly contacted Nike executive vice president John Slusher and advised him that there were “ongoing corruption and illicit schemes being carried out by DeBose and James.” Slusher referred Auberbach to Nike’s outside counsel given the “seriousness of the matters you raised and how serious we take these situations,” the motion says.

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Franklin retained Avenatti on March 5, 2019, and Avenatti and attorney Mark Geragos met with Nike’s attorneys in New York two weeks later.

According to prosecutors, Avenatti demanded Nike pay Franklin $1.5 million to remain silent regarding any claims the coach might have about Nike’s alleged payments to top players and their families and said Nike had to hire Avenatti and Geragos to conduct an internal investigation, with the stipulation that if the company hired another firm to conduct the inquiry, it would have to pay Avenatti and Geragos “at least twice the fees of any other firm hired.”

“At the end of the meeting, Avenatti and [Geragos] indicated that Nike would have to agree to accept those demands immediately, or Avenatti would hold his press conference,” the complaint said.

In the motion Wednesday, Avenatti’s attorney wrote that he proposed a settlement that included Nike paying $1.5 million to Franklin for damages and the shoe company conducting a thorough internal investigation led by Avenatti and Geragos.

“Mr. Avenatti told Nike’s counsel that, ‘whatever the investigation costs, it costs,'” the motion said. “At no point did Mr. Avenatti promise to ‘cover up’ Nike’s misconduct in exchange for payments.”

In October, a federal jury in New York convicted former Adidas executive James Gatto, Adidas consultant Merl Code and aspiring business manager Christian Dawkins on felony charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for their roles in pay-for-play schemes to influence recruits to sign with Adidas-sponsored schools, including Kansas, Louisville and NC State.

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Why Trump Tweeted a Conspiracy Smear

When Donald Trump retweeted a malicious fantasy about the apparent suicide of imprisoned pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, he wasn’t merely entertaining his deluded fans. Trump’s conspiratorial canard — with attendant promotion by Russian bots, American alt-rightists and far-right media — was plainly designed to deflect attention from his own embarrassing associations with Epstein.

For him to insinuate the Clintons are responsible for Epstein’s demise was brazenly absurd. Were Bill and Hillary supposed to have sent a team of ninjas to lower Manhattan? In reality, the dead financier was an inmate of the Metropolitan Corrections Center, a facility overseen by Trump’s Justice Department, headed by Attorney General William Barr. And while an outraged Barr shifts responsibility down the chain, he is the nation’s top law enforcement official, with the means to prevent the suicide of the most notorious prisoner in federal custody.

It isn’t clear whether Barr and Trump had motive as well as means. While Trump had well-documented connections with Epstein, and perhaps financial ties, let’s stipulate that no evidence has emerged implicating the president in the abuse of underage girls. Indeed, author James Patterson, who wrote a book on the Epstein case, says his investigators cleared Clinton and Trump.

Yet the president is obviously very worried by what might be revealed about the nature of his relationship with Epstein.

Let’s forget for the moment Trump’s quote about his friend Epstein’s penchant for women “on the younger side.” Let’s forget as well the videotape of him and Epstein ogling models at a party. And never mind his boasts about invading the dressing rooms of Miss Teenage America when he owned the pageant. Those snippets of Trump’s legendary vulgarity are distasteful but not necessarily incriminating.

Less than a week before Epstein died, however, the U.S. edition of the conservative Spectator of London published a column claiming that Epstein kept pictures of himself and Trump with young girls — and that he had showed them to a “mutual acquaintance” in 2016. That individual described the pictures to the Spectator columnist, a respected journalist who uses the nom de plume “Cockburn,” as follows: “‘Jeffrey had a set of these pictures that had been taken, probably 2003, 2004, of Trump with a variety of the same girls that Jeffrey got in trouble for. They’re vaguely suggestive, but not overtly sexual. I think maybe in one picture a girl was sitting on his lap. … There were maybe a dozen of these pictures.'”

The man who claimed to have seen those pictures told “Cockburn” that he didn’t know the age of the “girls,” but at least one was a witness to Epstein’s sexual abuses who had been interviewed by police. Should those photos exist in the archives Epstein reportedly maintained, they are probably in the hands of law enforcement authorities today.

Beyond any photographic evidence, a serious investigation of the nexus linking Trump and Epstein would delve into the infamous “catch and kill” operation conducted by the National Enquirer, which paid off Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal (and ended up with Trump attorney Michael Cohen in prison, taking the fall for “Individual 1”). Reporters who worked on that Enquirer scheme kept records of the women they interviewed about Trump, who received payments for signing nondisclosure agreements. Were any of those women involved with Epstein as well? Then there is the matter of Epstein’s financial consultancy, which many analysts believe was actually a massive money-laundering and tax-avoidance enterprise. The Trump Organization is accused of evading millions in federal taxes and is widely suspected of laundering millions. Did it ever do business?

Even in death, Epstein remains the subject of at least three federal investigations. Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are still considering what to do about his alleged procurer Ghislaine Maxwell and anyone else who enabled his criminal conduct. (Interestingly, the case is under the purview of the public corruption unit.) Justice Department lawyers also are looking at Epstein’s lenient Florida plea deal, approved by former Labor Secretary Alex Acosta when he served as U.S. attorney in 2008. And the Bureau of Prisons is probing the lax circumstances surrounding Epstein’s death.

Barr should recuse himself from all these probes, since he has proved untrustworthy in criminal matters potentially concerning the president. But Trump may not be able to rely on the attorney general to orchestrate a cover-up as he attempted with the Mueller report. One of the Southern District prosecutors working on the Epstein case is Maurene Comey, daughter of the former FBI director. Oversight by the appropriate congressional committees is essential if we are ever to learn the full truth about Epstein, his crimes and his untimely death.

Until then, conspiracy theories can cut in any direction — and smearing Clinton won’t dispel suspicion of the Trump Justice Department and White House.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Why Trump Tweeted a Conspiracy Smear

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How Holmes Would Work the Epstein Case

Given the roll call of high and mighty involved, Michael Brenner inspects the many dead ends investigators are likely to hit.    

Jeffrey Epstein, center. (YouTube)

By Michael Brenner

Jeffrey Epstein is dead. An alleged suicide who was found strangled in his prison cell Saturday morning at the federal Metropolitan Correction Center in NYC. He made an apparent previous attempt on June 23 – after which he was placed under suicide watch and received daily psychiatric examinations for six days. On June 29 he was returned to his original cell with the suicide watch removed, but scheduled to be checked by guards every 30 minutes. They did not do so the night of his death. There is a suggestion that they were working an unnaturally long overtime shift.

That’s all we know for sure. Let’s put ourselves in the position of those famed fictional detectives and consider their methods for dealing with hundreds of such cases. What lessons have Jules Maigret, Cain, Inspector Salvo Montelbano, et al, taught us?  

First, we should attempt to ascertain with as much exactitude as the evidence permits what happened. Epstein choked to death – by what means? A belt?  The legs of his trousers? By his own hands?  If the first, why wasn’t the elementary rule of removing every possible instrument of self-destruction from the cell observed – especially whatever it was he used in the first attempt? Where did he hang himself from – an overhanging pipe or other protuberance? If so, why was he placed in a cell so designed? 

Forensics  

Bruno Crémer as Jules Maigret. (Wikimedia Commons)

How long had Epstein been dead when the body was discovered? Do we know with certainty the cause of death, i.e. could he have been killed by poison, for example, before the hanging? How long would it normally take for one to die from a self-administered hanging of this sort? How does that relate to the sequence of look-ins by guards? Are there any other observable marks on the cadaver?  

Motives 

Numerous. All those associated with Epstein before his 2006 conviction, during his virtual imprisonment, and subsequently by whomever might appear in his little black book, or remembered by pilots or other staff (e.g. one pilot testified that former President Bill Clinton was on 10-to-20 “Lolita Express” flights; the doorman at Epstein’s Manhattan apartment saw President Donald Trump join the party on several occasions). We are talking about a large slice of the American elite – political, economic, legal, entertainment. More than a cross-section, it is a veritable roll-call of the high and mighty. In addition, there is Prince Andrew and an array of Gulf sheiks. They all had compelling reason to want to keep Epstein’s mouth shut. So, too, those who arranged his unprecedented, highly dubious plea bargain in 2006.  

That may include the FBI and/or CIA which had a strong situationally defined interest in getting their hooks into Epstein who was in a position to blackmail all of the above. So, too Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency. Let’s note that Ghislaine Maxwell (Epstein’s No. 2 and sometime “partner”) is the daughter of the British publisher Robert Maxwell who is now known to have run an extensive intelligence network for Mossad among the London elite for which he was honored by President Shimon Peres and six former intelligence chiefs when buried in Jerusalem after a mysterious death off his private yacht in 1991. 

Cooperation from any of this list of suspects is unlikely. 

Interrogation 

Appropriate methods vary by person and circumstance. Here are a few standard techniques to get tongues wagging. 

No. 1. Build an irrefutable case against one of the suspects and then use that as leverage to induce a denunciation of others – particularly the most exposed and vulnerable. This is an old standard that retains its effectiveness. Blackmail holds its value. Some of the young women who served as sex slaves for our lords and masters should be able to identify the most recognizable figures. Doubtless, though, most have either been bought off (as Trump did Stormy Daniels and others), will be bribed, or blackmailed by virtue of their reluctance to put at risk their present lives. And they will need guarantees of protection. From whom? – accidents happen.

No. 2. Physical coercion.  Fortunately or not, this method is ruled out because of the case’s high visibility. Moreover, CIA Director Gina Haspel is currently unavailable as she is fighting tooth-and-nail to stay in the good graces of her boss. In addition, the Thai government reportedly has withdrawn its grant of access to the local “black sites” out of fear that the country’s highly lucrative sex tourism trade could be harmed by further exposure of the unsavory goings-on beyond the world of massage parlors. 

No. 3. Psychology. There are a variety of approaches that evidently are more effective for eliciting vital information than physical coercion. Only morons like those in the CIA believe that you can beat the truth out of resistant suspects – of course, for them the real satisfaction came in the torture rather than in the solicitation of vital information. Revenge is what the War on Terror has been all about. There is also the risk that they will fabricate information in order to stop the pain and/or because they have paid to do so. 

Those more subtle methods may run into other obstacles. 

For one thing, the high and the mighty have developed over their years in power both a sense of impunity/immunity and a pathological conviction that they can do no wrong – whatever the action involved.  Defense mechanisms are elaborate and well- practiced. They are habitual liars; many are clinical narcissists who may be unable to differentiate truth from falsehoods altogether, e.g. Trump.  Second, appeals to honor, morality or sense of embarrassment may also be fruitless because these people tend to be shameless.   Can anyone recall the last time that a prominent public figure in the United States has demonstrated genuine remorse? 

NYC prison where Jeffrey Epstein died. (Jim Henderson, CC0, Wikimedia Commons)

A Strategy 

If there were some intervention by another party that facilitated or encouraged Epstein’s death – an admittedly overriding IF – then the best way of determining who it was is to concentrate on the narrow end of the funnel. IF someone arranged for a lifting of the suicide watch with an ulterior motive in mind, or instructed guards to space out widely their look-ins at Epstein’s cell, or “forgot” to remove the drawstring from his pajamas – that conjectured person (or his intermediary) could be identified by whomever implemented the instructions/suggestions. Said person(s) could be more easily intimidated, blackmailed or induced to spill the beans than any of the big shots. 

The behavior of the psychiatrists who gave permission to lift the suicide watch is also suspect.  Their action is being described as unheard-of by renowned psychiatrists. One distinguished professor has told me in confidence that they will be in deep professional trouble for their warped judgment alone – whatever other circumstances obtain. All of their communications with outside parties should be examined. Any signs of evasion should evoke intense grilling – psychiatrists are easier to break than al-Qaeda fanatics, Mafia hitmen or narcissistic politicos. 

Conclusion 

We are assured that the investigation will cover the whole gamut of Epstein’s illicit actions, including the 2006 cover-up, which will be pursued.  At the moment, most powers-that-be seem to agree on that. Doubtless, will see a long editorial from that holier-than-thou/pillar of the republic, The New York Times board, calling for a full and thorough inquiry as to what happened. They will cite the public interest in reaffirming the impartiality of our hallowed judiciary – including looking back at 2006. They will make no mention of the awkward fact that they themselves paid the matter little heed for 13 years. Understandable – numerous persons cited are folks they run into at Upper East side cocktail parties and the Hamptons. 

Prediction: The Department of Justice, led by Trump’s lackey Attorney General William Barr, will insist on controlling all aspects of the investigation. If they can turn up a few snippets regarding the Clintons, they will leak them. Then, the entire affair will slip from public view. We have become expert at losing the past in the mists of the present – like the fog rolling through the Golden Gate — that erase all images on a regular 24-hour cycle. 

So, a year of two from now, there will be a low-key announcement that the investigation has found nothing that calls into question the conclusion that Epstein indeed committed suicide – alone and of his own volition. His earlier alleged crimes will be said to be excluded by the statute of limitations or the absence of credible evidence due in part to the deaths of certain principals. One negligent guard will be singled out for dereliction of duty; a letter of reprimand will be placed in his personnel file and he will be punished by a denial of coffee breaks for a full two weeks.  Maybe, just maybe, the American Psychiatric Association will devise some new guidelines re. Suicide Watches in prison – without specifically mentioning this incident. 

Michael Brenner is a professor of international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. mbren@pitt.edu

Before commenting please read Robert Parry’s Comment Policy. Allegations unsupported by facts, gross or misleading factual errors and ad hominem attacks, and abusive language toward other commenters or our writers will be removed.

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How Holmes Would Work the Epstein Case

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Bill Clinton Naked Massage Photo Circulating After Epstein’s Death Is Fake

Bill Clinton

Getty

A photo of a naked man that looks like former President Bill Clinton has been circulating on social media following the death of Jeffrey Epstein.

While the photo does look real and appears to show Clinton nude on a massage table, it’s actually a shot taken by a professional photographer back in 2016.

The photo hasn’t gone viral just yet but it is getting a few retweets and some attention by social media users who seem to think that Clinton is actually the man pictured.

Here’s what you need to know:


Some Social Media Users Have Been Retweeting the Photo, Thinking it’s of Clinton at a Massage Parlor Following Jeffrey Epstein’s Apparent Suicide

Bill Clinton

The photo is believable, perhaps, because it’s not great quality. It appears as though the photo was taken in the dark and it’s a bit grainy, which makes it seem legit. The picture shows a naked man — who looks exactly like Clinton — sitting naked on the edge of a massage table with a television remote control in his hand. He appears to be changing the station on the television while a blonde woman kneels on the massage table behind him, rubbing his back.

What you may not see in the conveniently cropped social media pics is the Clinton lookalike is actually watching former first lady Hillary Clinton on the television. This can be seen in the full photo here.

A few Twitter users have tweeted out the picture, claiming that Clinton was seen enjoying a massage in the hours following Epstein’s death. However, Snopes previously debunked the validity of the photo, reporting that it was actually staged.

“Bill Clinton gets a relaxing nude massage after the successful Epstein ‘suicide’ op,” tweeted one social media user.

“Wow. Why isn’t this on front-page news?” another Twitter user wrote in response to another tweet of the photo.

The photo has popped up on social media here and there over the years and some people are fooled by it every time someone tweets it out.


The Naked ‘Bill Clinton’ Picture First Circulated in 2016 After Photographer Alison Jackson Snapped a Shot of a Clinton Lookalike

Bill Clinton

The photo was taken by a woman named Alison Jackson. According to Snopes, the photo was “‘leaked’ by Anonymous” back in 2016. However, the photo was completely and intentionally staged by Jackson.

Jackson is known for taking pictures of celebrity lookalikes in “private moments.”

“Jackson is renown for her explorations into how photography and the cult of the celebrity have transformed our relationship to what is ‘real’. Her notorious photographic portraits, life-like sculptures, films and videos are startlingly realistically staged affairs that cast uncannily styled actors into an entirely fathomable projection of a future that could have been; or the intimate, often salacious, imagined private moments of media icons such as Diana Princess of Wales, the Queen of England, Marilyn Monroe, George Bush, Brad and Angelina, and David Beckham. Jackson’s productions stress-test the implicit belief that a photograph can capture a frozen moment of ‘truth,’” reads her website.

A quick look at Jackson’s portfolio will show several other realistic-looking photos, including one of a Donald Trump/Stormy Daniels scene and another showing Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton lookalikes fighting — hair pulling and all.

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DOJ releases notes from official Bruce Ohr’s Russia probe interviews

The FBI on Thursday released the bureau’s notes from its Russia probe interviews with Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official who has come under GOP fire for his ties to the Steele dossier.

Ohr emerged as a key figure in the counterintelligence investigation examining ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, particularly after his connections to former British spy Christopher Steele and the opposition research firm Fusion GPS were revealed. 

As a result of these ties, Ohr became a GOP target of attacks by President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe inadvertent cyber wisdom of Donald J. Trump Is the film ‘The Hunt’ a misfire or a direct hit in our left-right divide? Warren unveils plan to combat gun violence MORE and others who have called for his firing from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The FBI released 34 pages of the 302s, an internal FBI term referring to notes of their interviews, that detailed contacts between Ohr and Steele from the start of 2016 to May 2017, which were released as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the conservative group Judicial Watch.

While heavily redacted, the documents reveal how Ohr and Steele came to form a relationship in which Steele began sharing intelligence he collected with the DOJ official, including early contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Russia.

They also reveal that Ohr continued to serve as an unofficial contact between the FBI and Steele after the bureau cut ties with the intelligence official over contacts with the press.

Steele and Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson shared intelligence on former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDOJ releases notes from official Bruce Ohr’s Russia probe interviews George Soros’s secret 2016 access to State exposes ‘big money’ hypocrisy of Democrats Judge dismisses one of two charges against former Obama White House counsel MORE’s ties to Russian oligarchs, former Trump lawyer Michael CohenMichael Dean CohenDOJ releases notes from official Bruce Ohr’s Russia probe interviews Avenatti considering 2020 bid again after saying he wouldn’t run Manhattan DA issues subpoena to Trump Org over hush money payments to Stormy Daniels: report MORE, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page and financial ties between Alfa Bank and Trump, among other allegations. 

Ohr, who shared notes from his contacts with Steele with the FBI, knew the nature of Steele’s work for Simpson. 

According to the 302s, Ohr knew Simpson had hired Steele to examine ties between Trump and Russia and that this information was contracted as opposition research that would be shared with the Clinton campaign, State Department employee Jon Winer, and the FBI. 

Despite this, Ohr believed Steele was genuine in passing along intelligence he’d collected, but he also recognized that there was a bounty of conspiracy theories that dribbled out of the Kremlin.

“Ohr never believed [Steele] was making up information or shading it,” the memos read in part. “There are always Russian conspiracy theories that come from the Kremlin,” it continues.

Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked as a contractor for Fusion GPS during this time. According to the documents, Bruce Ohr voluntarily provided his wife’s research to the FBI.

Republicans have long alleged that Bruce Ohr’s ties to Fusion GPS through his wife support their claims that there was bias against Trump within the FBI and DOJ.

Ohr also told the FBI that he believed Steele was having contacts with the press, suggesting this was at the request of Simpson, who wanted to draw attention to their allegations.

“Simpson asked [redacted] to speak to the Mother Jones reporter as it was Simpson’s Hail Mary attempt,” one memo says.

Another FBI memo dated December 2016 reveals that Steele had talked to a reporter in the fall of that year about ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. That led the FBI to cut its ties with Steele over the media disclosure.

Nevertheless, the 302s reveal that Ohr continued to act as an unofficial contact between Steele and the FBI months after the ties were severed.

The documents released Thursday are likely to further inflame GOP allegations of bias against Trump in the Russia probe, particularly over claims of improper contacts between a Democratic-funded opposition research firm and a top DOJ official.

“FBI terminated their formal relationship with Steele because he was leaking. But DOJ official Bruce Ohr continued to meet with Steele and reported to the FBI about those meetings,” Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanDOJ releases notes from official Bruce Ohr’s Russia probe interviews CNN slams GOP for not appearing on network after mass shootings, conservatives fire back Hillicon Valley: Pentagon chief orders probe into ‘war cloud’ contract | Oversight Republicans want briefings from Capital One, Amazon on breach | Facebook removes Saudi-tied disinformation campaign | Senate confirms Trump’s first chief technology officer MORE (R-Ohio), the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, tweeted Friday. “Why did top FBI officials try to hide their relationship with Steele?”

Republicans have long scrutinized the origins of the Russia probe, particularly over their allegations that officials overly relied on the dossier and Steele as a source in their efforts to obtain a surveillance warrant on Page. 

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: ‘I’d like to know’ if Mueller read his own report MORE, who was tapped to lead the Russia probe in May 2017, found there was not sufficient evidence to conclude the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 election. The former FBI director did not, however, make a determination as to whether Trump obstructed justice.

While Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrDOJ releases notes from official Bruce Ohr’s Russia probe interviews FBI tells lawmakers it can’t access Dayton gunman’s phone FBI Agents Association calls on Congress to make ‘domestic terrorism’ a federal crime MORE and other DOJ officials determined that the evidence laid out in the report did not reach the threshold to charge Trump with obstruction, Democrats have said they do not trust Barr, a presidential appointee.

House Democrats, who are conducting a sprawling investigation into Trump, say it is in their hands to examine whether Trump committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” and conclude whether his actions warrant his removal from office.

Updated at 11:28 a.m.

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Donald Trump Has Used A Secretive Justice System To Keep Lawsuits Against Him Out Of Court

Matt Chase for BuzzFeed News

WASHINGTON — Jane Doe, a hospice worker from California, was still undecided midway through an investor recruitment meeting in 2014 for a multilevel marketing company, ACN. But the promotional video she watched featuring Donald Trump — still in the midst of his run as star of The Celebrity Apprentice — won her over.

Trump’s assurances that ACN was “one of the best businesses” were convincing. He already had so much money, Jane Doe told herself, he wasn’t trying to scam her. She paid the $499 registration fee. She spent thousands of dollars attending ACN conferences, hosting recruitment events to sign up other investors, and attending local meetings, all while trying to sell ACN’s video conferencing and telecommunications products.

In the end, according to a lawsuit Jane Doe and other aggrieved ACN investors filed under pseudonyms against now-president Trump last year, she received one check. She earned $38. The investors are accusing Trump — who appeared in multiple promotional materials for ACN and spoke at the company’s investor conferences — of fraud. They claim that he falsely touted ACN as a profitable and low-risk investment, even though he knew or should have known it was a bad investment, and that neither he nor ACN disclosed that he was being paid to endorse the company.

Jane Doe now finds herself in a situation familiar to Stormy Daniels, former Trump campaign and White House staffers, employees who worked for Trump’s companies, and investors who put money into his businesses: Trump is arguing to move the lawsuit out of court — where evidence, arguments, and hearings generally are a matter of public record — and into the more secretive private justice system he has used for more than a decade to keep these kinds of unflattering allegations quiet, known as arbitration.

“Trump’s kangaroo court, that’s what they are.”

Of the thousands of lawsuits filed by or against Trump and his companies over the years — a USA Today investigation identified at least 3,500 cases — the vast majority have played out in court. But in a small number of cases in which Trump, his 2016 campaign, or his businesses have been accused of discrimination, shady business practices, and other bad acts, the president and his lawyers have invoked clauses in contracts that give them the power to force these disputes behind closed doors.

Unlike in court, the public and the media don’t have a right to observe arbitration hearings or to see documents. Arbitration critics also say the system disadvantages employees and other individuals who sign away their right to the public justice system via agreements they typically have no role in drafting.

“Why does Trump want arbitration? Because he wants to control information,” said Yale Law School professor Judith Resnik. “The key thing they’re shopping for is confidentiality.”

Resnik said there are often fewer resources available to people in arbitration who can’t afford a lawyer than in the courts. The party that writes the arbitration clause — for instance, Trump’s campaign or businesses — can also shape many of the rules for how a case will unfold in their favor, she said; the rules for how a lawsuit works are public and set in advance by the court.

Zach Gibson / Getty Images

Former Trump campaign adviser Sam Nunberg leaves the US District Court on March 9, 2018, in Washington, DC.

Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign adviser who was briefly embroiled in an arbitration fight with Trump in 2016 that they eventually settled, told BuzzFeed News that he felt he was at a disadvantage in a system that Trump was more familiar with.

“I don’t want to go to arbitration. Arbitration is expensive. … It wouldn’t have been a fair venue for me against someone like Donald Trump who brings everything to arbitration. They’re never going to rule against him,” Nunberg said. “Trump’s kangaroo court, that’s what they are — the way they acted, at least with me.”

Trump’s lawyers in recent cases that went to arbitration did not return requests for comment; neither did his 2020 campaign or an attorney for the Trump Organization.

One-Sided Agreements

Until the 1980s, arbitration was mostly used by companies that didn’t want to hash out disputes involving business practices and trade secrets in public. In the decades since then, the US Supreme Court has issued a string of decisions upholding the lawfulness of contracts with mandatory arbitration clauses, like those used by Trump, that cover a wider universe of situations in which a person might want to bring a claim against a company. This shift is part of a broader trend of more business-friendly decisions from a court that’s grown increasingly conservative, including under Trump.

Arbitration clauses are now in everything from credit card contracts and employee hiring agreements to Uber’s user terms of service. Unlike company-versus-company cases, which tend to involve well-resourced and heavily lawyered corporate actors who come into arbitration on an even playing field, consumer and employment agreements normally aren’t the product of negotiation. Whoever downloads an app on their phone, signs a hiring contract, or invests in a multilevel marketing company backed by a wealthy television personality is presented with terms the company came up with.

“The idea that arbitration is an easily accessible system for consumers is belied by the fact of how many people use it,” Resnik said.

Trump’s forays into arbitration over the past decade underscore complaints consumer advocates have about the modern state of the system. Some of these cases involve agreements that Trump’s 2016 campaign or his companies crafted unilaterally and presented to people who applied for jobs. Once the disputes were moved to arbitration, the proceedings became secret.

The ACN investors’ lawsuit presents a new twist. Trump’s lawyers said in a July 19 court filing that they planned to argue the case should go to arbitration even though Trump wasn’t named in the contracts that investors signed with ACN and he didn’t sign them. Neither did the Trump Organization, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., nor Eric Trump, who were also sued for their alleged role in promoting ACN.

Trump’s lawyers are arguing that the president can still invoke the arbitration clause because any claims against him as ACN’s “paid spokesman” were “intertwined” with the ACN agreement.

Screenshot via Internet Archive

An archived version of ACN’s homepage, which prominently features the company’s relationship with Trump.

But the investors want their case to stay in the public record in court. They counter that Trump waited too long to try to force arbitration and, regardless, he isn’t covered by the contract. A key part of the investors’ case is that they claim no one told them Trump was being paid by ACN, so they couldn’t have intended their contract with ACN to apply to Trump, attorney Roberta Kaplan argued in a July 18 letter to Trump’s legal team that was filed in court. Kaplan declined to comment, and Trump’s lawyers didn’t respond to an interview request.

“In light of these allegations, it is non-sensical […] to surmise that when Plaintiffs came to a meeting of the minds with ACN, they believed they were also constraining themselves as to the Trumps,” Kaplan wrote.

The investors’ case in some ways mirrors the experience of Stormy Daniels, the adult film actor who took a $130,000 hush money payment orchestrated by Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen so she wouldn’t go public with claims of an affair with Trump. In March 2018, Daniels sued Trump and Essential Consultants LLC — the company Cohen set up to facilitate the payment — challenging the validity of the hush money agreement, which included an arbitration clause that Cohen had tried to invoke.

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Stormy Daniels exits the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York for a hearing related to Michael Cohen on April 16, 2018, in New York City.

A month later, Essential Consultants, joined by Trump, asked a federal judge in California to move the case to arbitration, citing the hush money agreement. Daniels objected, arguing Essential Consultants wasn’t a party to that contract and Trump never actually signed it. The case was put on hold while Cohen faced criminal prosecution. Trump then came forward with an agreement that he wouldn’t try to enforce the nondisclosure agreement, and the parties are now litigating over whether that was valid and if it makes the case moot.

Daniels’ lawyers and lawyers for Trump and Essential Consultants did not return requests for comment.

The plaintiffs in the ACN case aren’t the first investors to put money in a Trump-affiliated business and then face an arbitration demand after trying to sue.

In 2008, investors who put money into the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Las Vegas sued the company, claiming they were defrauded. They alleged that sales representatives misled them about the value and risks of the investment in part by assuring them that the project would be profitable because of the “Trump brand.” In another, related case, investors accused Trump himself of falsely pushing a message to the public that the condos were selling fast in order to “manufacture a purchasing frenzy.”

All of those claims landed in arbitration, and the investors lost — in one case an arbitrator ruled the investors couldn’t go forward as a class action, and in another an arbitrator dismissed the claims outright. They unsuccessfully challenged arbitration decisions in court, and the disputes ended in confidential settlements. Lawyers for the plaintiffs and for the Trump project did not return requests for comment.

In the ACN case, Trump lost an early attempt to get the case tossed out of court. On July 24, a federal judge in Manhattan dismissed the investors’ racketeering claims against Trump, finding that they hadn’t shown that his actions were directly related to their financial losses through ACN. But she allowed the fraud claims to go forward.

The judge is expected to take up the arbitration issue this fall.

Layers of Secrecy

In arbitration, a neutral third party — paid for by one or both of the parties — considers evidence and arguments and decides who wins. The proceedings are generally private and the decisions are meant to be final. Under federal law, the courts can only intervene in cases where an arbitrator was clearly corrupt or biased, or if an award represented “manifest disregard” of the law, which is a high bar.

In 2013, former Miss USA contestant Sheena Monnin unsuccessfully tried to challenge an arbitrator’s decision awarding the Trump-backed pageant $5 million after finding she’d defamed the organization with claims that the contest was rigged. The Miss Universe organization went to court to enforce the award, and Monnin argued that the arbitrator exceeded his power and showed a “manifest disregard” for the law. She also argued that her lawyer never told her about the arbitration proceedings and she never got notice directly from the arbitrator. Monnin lost, although the judge noted she’d suffered in part from a “poor choice of counsel.”

Isaac Brekken / Getty Images

Miss Pennsylvania USA Sheena Monnin (right) competes during the 2012 Miss USA pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on June 3, 2012, in Las Vegas.

“The Court does not take lightly that Monnin is compelled to pay what is a devastating monetary award,” the judge wrote in a July 2013 opinion. “That being said, a court’s role in reviewing an arbitration award is necessarily limited. […] Sympathy, or apparent inequity, may play no role in a court’s legal analysis, and here, the law is clear.”

Trump’s 2016 campaign used arbitration clauses to build a second layer of secrecy into unusually broad nondisclosure agreements signed by some staffers. They had to pledge not only that they wouldn’t share confidential information — something other campaigns have done in the past — but also that they wouldn’t “demean or disparage publicly” Trump, his company, or his family members and their companies.

The NDAs featured a clause giving Trump, his campaign, and his family the sole power to decide if grievances raised by his campaign staffers should go to arbitration. The agreement also said that Trump kept the right to bring cases in court, a right not afforded to his campaign staff.

One former Trump campaign staffer, Jessica Denson, is challenging those NDAs. She filed a lawsuit in state court in New York in November 2017 accusing the campaign of discrimination and a hostile work environment. While her state court case was pending, the campaign went to arbitration, arguing that Denson’s lawsuit violated her NDA. She filed another lawsuit in March 2018, this time in federal court, arguing that the NDA itself was invalid. The judge granted the campaign’s request to move that case to arbitration.

An arbitrator concluded that Denson violated her NDA and awarded the campaign more than $52,000. She went back to state and federal courts to challenge the award. She lost and is now appealing, and also arguing to stop the campaign from enforcing the award in the meantime. Her original claims against the campaign are pending; the state court judge previously ruled the NDA didn’t cover her employment-related allegations.

After repeatedly having her claims moved out of court, when Denson decided to file a class action challenging all of the campaign’s NDAs, she went straight to arbitration. In late May, however, the campaign said they would not agree to arbitration, according to emails reviewed by BuzzFeed News, which meant Denson’s next option was to bring the case in court — putting her back where she started. In a letter to the American Arbitration Association last month, Denson’s lawyers accused the Trump campaign of engaging in an “unrelenting effort to prevent any tribunal from making a decision on the NDA’s validity.”

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Denson said the campaign “has attempted to use an illegal and unconstitutional arbitration agreement to attack my rights as a free American, a clear example of the threat on our democracy.” Denson’s lawyer David Bowles declined to comment on what they would do next, but in an interview he reiterated their original preference for a public airing of Denson’s claims.

“I always tell my clients to rip those clauses out of agreements.”

“I always tell my clients to rip those clauses out of agreements at every chance possible because they are giving up a very fundamental right of American justice which is due process,” Bowles said. “You’re getting secrecy and you are getting a lack of precedent. And those are not advantageous to the public, to employees or to consumers.”

Trump has brought arbitration cases against two former White House staffers, Omarosa Manigault Newman and Cliff Sims, both of whom wrote tell-all books about their time in the Trump administration. Sims, who worked on Trump’s campaign before going to the White House as a communications aide, filed a lawsuit in February after the campaign filed an arbitration demand accusing Sims of violating a nondisclosure agreement.

Trump is now arguing that an arbitrator, and not a judge, should decide whether Sims’ challenge to the NDA’s arbitration requirement should itself play out in arbitration. A federal judge in Washington is considering putting the case on hold, however, until an appeals court resolves pending questions in other cases about when judges can enter orders against a sitting president.

The campaign filed a similar arbitration proceeding against Manigault Newman, who also worked on Trump’s campaign before going to the White House. She hasn’t brought a challenge in court, and her lawyer didn’t respond to a request for comment about the status of the arbitration.

A spokesperson for Trump’s 2020 campaign did not return a request for comment on whether they’re having staffers sign any agreements now that include arbitration clauses.

In May 2016, Trump’s campaign filed an arbitration demand against Nunberg, whom Trump accused of leaking confidential information about the campaign — including, for instance, about a reported fight between then–campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks and then–campaign manager Corey Lewandowski — in violation of a nondisclosure agreement. The arbitration didn’t become public until July 2016, when Nunberg went to court to challenge it.

Nunberg’s lawyer argued that the only agreement Nunberg signed with any connection to the 2016 campaign didn’t provide for arbitration. Nunberg signed an earlier political consulting agreement with Trump in 2011 and 2012, according to his court papers, and that included an arbitration clause.

A month after Nunberg filed suit, he dropped the case, and Nunberg’s attorney told reporters that the fight had been “amicably resolved” but didn’t offer any details. In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Nunberg declined to comment on the terms of the settlement.

Zach Gibson / AFP / Getty Images

The Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC.

“Less Voluntary, Less Consensual”

A few employees of Trump’s businesses have also seen their claims taken out of court and moved to arbitration in recent years. In July 2018, Noel Cintron, who had worked for Trump and the Trump Organization for more than two decades, including as Trump’s personal driver, filed a lawsuit claiming thousands of hours in unpaid overtime. Trump’s lawyers invoked an arbitration agreement that Cintron signed. In late August 2018, Cintron dropped the lawsuit and the case went to arbitration.

Cintron’s attorney Joshua Krakowsky confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the arbitration case is pending, but otherwise declined to comment. Trump’s lawyer did not return a request for comment.

In September 2017, a group of current and former employees of a restaurant in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, BLT Prime, filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the hotel. The case included allegations that black and other minority workers were denied more lucrative shifts, ordered to adopt “Caucasian grooming standards,” and otherwise subjected to discriminatory personnel practices.

The hotel argued that the case should be moved to arbitration. The employees had signed a contract with the restaurant that included an arbitration clause, and the hotel’s lawyers argued that the lawsuit against the hotel, as opposed to the restaurant, was an attempt to get around it. The plaintiffs argued that civil rights claims shouldn’t be subject to forced arbitration and that the employment agreements weren’t clear about which corporate entity they had agreed to arbitrate with.

In February 2018, the judge ordered the case to arbitration. A.J. Dhali, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, told BuzzFeed News that the arbitration is ongoing, with a trial before an arbitrator scheduled for September. The hotel’s lawyers didn’t return a request for comment.

Arbitration is promoted as quicker and cheaper than going to court. That can be true, said Jean Sternlight, a professor at the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who studies arbitration. In some cases, consumers or employees may want the privacy that arbitration affords, she said, and having an arbitrator with industry or technical expertise can be more efficient than going before a judge.

But companies also can use arbitration clauses to put up barriers that disadvantage consumers and employees, Sternlight said. They can restrict how much money an individual can get if they win, shorten the deadline for filing, put the location for arbitration in an inconvenient location, or put the burden on the person filing the claim to pay the arbitrator’s fees, she said.

Companies can also block class action arbitration cases. It may not be economically viable for one employee to file a claim for discrimination or unpaid wages in arbitration, but it could be if they were joined by hundreds or thousands of other employees with the same claims, Sternlight said. In April, the US Supreme Court ruled that a contract had to explicitly allow class arbitration — if the language wasn’t clear, that wasn’t enough, the court ruled in a 5–4 decision.

“The more modern phenomenon [of arbitration] is less voluntary, less consensual in any meaningful way,” Sternlight said. ●

UPDATE

The story was updated to clarify the status of Jessica Denson’s lawsuit.

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Qualifying Day 2 in Northwest Louisiana

SHREVEPORT, La. – It’s day 2 of qualifying for the October election.

Here’s a breakdown of those who signed up on Tuesday and today in the top regional and parish offices:

STATE SENATE, REPRESENTATIVE:

Senate District 31 – Louie Bernard, Republican, Natchitoches; Douglas Brown, Republican, Cheneyville.

Senate District 36 – Ryan Gatti, Republican, Bossier City; Robert Mills, Republican, Benton; Mattie Preston, Democrat, Minden.

Senate District 37 – Debbie Hollis, Independent, Shreveport; Barrow Peacock, Republican, Shreveport.

Senate District 38 – John Milkovich, Democrat, Keithville; Barry Milligan, Republican, Shreveport.

Senate District 39 – Barbara Norton, Democrat, Shreveport; Gregory Tarver, Democrat, Shreveport.

State Representative District 1 – James Harper, Republican, Shreveport; Randall Liles, Republican Shreveport; Danny McCormick, Republican, Vivian.

State Representative District 2 – Sam Jenkins Jr., Democrat, Shreveport.

State Representative District 3 – Tammy Phelps, Democrat, Shreveport; Daryl Joe Walters, Democrat, Shreveport.

State Representative District 5 – Brian Salvatore, Democrat, Shreveport; Alan Seabaugh, Republican Shreveport.

State Representative District 6 – Thomas Pressly, Republican, Shreveport.

State Representative District 7 – Larry Bagley, Republican, Logansport.

State Representative District 8 – Raymond Crews, Republican, Bossier City.

State Representative District 9 – Dodie Horton, Republican, Haughton.

State Representative District 10 – Wayne McMahen, Republican, Springhill.

State Representative District 11 – Patrick Jefferson, Democrat, Homer.

State Representative District 22 – Gabe Firment, Republican, Pollock; Carl Ray Lasyone, Republican, Colfax.

State Representative District 23 – Kenny R. Cox, Democrat, Mansfield.

State Representative District 24 – Willie Banks, Independent; Greg Lord, Republican, Leesville; Rodney Schamerhorn, Republican, Florien.

BESE District 4 – Tony Davis, Republican, Natchitoches.

CADDO PARISH

Sheriff – Steve Prator, Republican, Shreveport; Eric Hatfield, Democrat, Shreveport; “Mike Chicken Commander” Boyter, other party, Vivian; Glenn Cornell, no party, Shreveport.

Clerk of Court – Mike Spence, Democrat, Shreveport.

Assessor – Charles Henington Jr., Democrat, Shreveport.

Coroner – Todd G. Thoma, Republican, Shreveport.

Caddo Commission:

District 1 – Ken Brown, Republican, Shreveport; Todd Hopkins, Republican, Mooringsport.

District 2 – Lyndon B. Johnson, Democrat, Shreveport.

District 4 – James Carstensen, Republican, Shreveport; Christopher David, Republican, Shreveport; John-Paul Young, Republican, Shreveport.

District 5 – Roy Burrell, Democrat, Shreveport.

District 6 – Steffon D. Jones, Democrat, Shreveport.

District 7 – Stormy Gage-Watts, Democrat, Shreveport.

District 8 – Jim Taliaferro, Republican, Shreveport.

District 9 – John Atkins, Republican, Shreveport.

District 10 – Mario Chavez, Republican, Shreveport.

District 11 – Parker Ward, Republican, Shreveport.

District 12 – Ken Epperson, Democrat, Shreveport; Louis Johnson, Democrat, Shreveport.

BOSSIER PARISH

District Judge 26th District – Charles Smith, Republican, Bossier City.

Sheriff – Julian Whittington, Republican, Benton.

Clerk of Court – Jill Sessions, Republican, Bossier City.

Assessor – Bobby Edmiston, Republican, Benton.

Coroner – John M. Chandler, Republican, Benton.

Bossier Parish Police Jury:

District 1 – Bob Brotherton, Republican, Elm Grove.

District 2 – Glenn Benton, Republican, Haughton; William Wittmer, Libertarian, Haughton.

District 3 – Wes Shepherd, Republican, Benton; Jim Viola, Republican, Bossier City; Robert D. Williams, Republican, Benton.

District 4 – Norman Craig, Republican, Haughton; John Ed Jorden, Republican, Benton.

District 5 – Jack “Bump”’ Skaggs, Republican, Bossier City.

District 6 – Chris Marsiglia, Republican, Bossier City; Steven “Greg” Nichols, Republican, Bossier City.

District 7 – Jimmy Cochran, Democrat, Bossier City.

District 8 – Douglas Rimmer Sr., Republican, Bossier City.

District 10 – Jerome Darby, Independent, Bossier City.

District 11 – Tom Salzer, Republican, Bossier City.

District 12 – Paul “Mac” Plummer, Republican, Bossier City.

DESOTO PARISH

Sheriff: Jayson Richardson, no party, Gloster.

Clerk of Court – Jeremy Evans, Democrat, Logansport; Brandy Koenig Pearce, Republican, Frierson.

Assessor – Anne Gannon, Democrat, Logansport.

Coroner – Pat McGauly, no party, Stonewall; Jeffrey Evans Republican, Mansfield.

DeSoto Parish Police Jury:

District 1A – Bruce Abram, Democrat, Keachi; Bill Bagley, Republican, Grand Cane; Jimmy Holmes Jr., Republican, Keachi.

District 1B – Dewayne Mitchell, Democrat, Logansport Daniel Polley, Democrat, Logansport.

District 1C – Keith Parker, no party, Mansifeld; Joe Wiggins Jr., Democrat, Mansifeld.

District 2 – Jimbo Davlin, Republican, Stonewall.

District 3 – Greg Baker, Republican, Stonewall; Jeremy Wilson, Republican, Stonewall.

District 4A – Ryan Dupree, Republican, Gloster; Richard Fuller, Democrat, Mansfield; Tom Gatti, Republican, Gloster.

District 4B – Jeri Burrell, Democrat, Mansfield; Donald Ray Davenport, Democrat, Mansfield; Charlotte Miller, Independent, Grand Cane.

District 4C – Ernel Jones, Democrat, Mansfield; Donny Taylor Jr., Democrat, Mansfield.

District 4D – JoAnn Peoples Adkins, Democrat, Mansfield; Thomas Jones, Democrat, Mansfield; Will Richardson, Democrat, Mansfield.

District 5 – Reggie Roe, Democrat, Frierson; Jemayel Warren, Democrat, Grand Cane.

District 6 – Ricky McPhearson, Republican, Pelican; Rodriguez Dale Ross, Democrat, South Mansfield.

WEBSTER PARISH

Sheriff – Gene Hanson, Republican, Cotton Valley; Don Smith, Democrat, Sarepta.

Clerk of Court – Holli Vining, no party, Minden.

Assessor – Carole Denise Edwards, no party, Minden; Hugh Wood, Republican, Minden.

Sarepta police chief – Michael McCullen, Republican, Sarepta.

Webster Parish Police Jury:

District 1 – Bruce Blanton, Independent, Springhill.

District 2 – Allen Gilbert, Independent, Springhill.

District 3 – Daniel G. Thomas, Republican, Springhill.

District 4 – Randy Thomas, Republican, Minden.

District 5 – Bernard Hudson, Democrat, Minden.

District 6 – Jim Bonsall, Democrat, Minden.

District 7 – Steve Lemmons, Republican, Dubberly.

District 8 – Nick Cox, no party, Minden.

District 9 – Jerri Lee, Democrat, Minden.

District 10 – Vera Davison, Democrat, Minden.

District 11 – Steve Ramsey, Democrat, Heflin.

District 12 – Clay Craig, Democrat, Doyline.

BIENVILLE PARISH

Sheriff – John Ballance, Democrat, Jamestown; Stephen Beard, Democrat, Arcadia; Henry Ford, Democrat, Arcadia.

Clerk of Court – William “Eddie” Holmes, no party, Arcadia.

Assessor – Carol Brown, Independent, Arcadia.

Coroner – Don Smith, Democrat, Arcadia.

CLAIBORNE PARISH

Sheriff – Michael Allen, Independent, Homer; Sam Dowies, no party, Homer; Jerry Lee Dunn Jr., no party, Homer; Russell Mills, no party, Homer; Vincent Smith, Democrat, Haynesville.

Clerk of Court – Brian Flynn, no party, Homer.

Assessor – Bob Robinson, no party, Homer.

Coroner: Mark Haynes, no party, Homer.

RED RIVER PARISH

Sheriff – Glen Edwards, Democrat, Coushatta.

Clerk of Court – Stuart Shaw, Independent, Coushatta.

Assessor – Dovie Beard, Independent, Coushatta; Tenisha Canterbury, Democrat, Coushatta; Vaughn Womack, Democrat, Coushatta.

Coroner – Wyche Coleman Jr., Republican, Coushatta.

NATCHITOCHES PARISH

Sheriff – Steve Pezant, Republican, Natchitoches; Steve Rachal, Republican, Natchitoches; Stuart Wright, no party, Natchitoches.

Clerk of Court – David Stamey, Independent, Natchitoches.

Assessor – Timothy Page, Democrat, Natchitoches.

Coroner – Timothy Collins, Republican, Natchitoches.

Parish president – Jerry Longlois, Democrat, Natchitoches; John Richmond, no party, Natchitoches; Lee Waskom, no party, Natchitoches; Nicholas Ryan Wright, no party, Robeline.

Campti mayor – Judy LeBrum Daniels, Democrat, Campti; Kristopher Vidos, Independent, Campti; LaRon Winslow, Democrat, Campti.

SABINE PARISH

Sheriff – Chris Abrahams, Independent, Many; Frankie Howard, Republican, Negreet; Aaron Mitchell, Republican, Florien; Ronny Richardson, Republican, Converse.

Clerk of Court – Pollie Brandon, Democrat, Many; Shelly Salter, Republican, Florien.

Assessor – Ronny Bison, Republican, Many; Carl Chance, Democrat, Florien; Carroll Ellzey, Democrat, Florien; Chris Tidwell, Republican, Many; Donnie Wooley, Independent, Many.

Coroner – Mark Holder, Republican, Many; Ron Rivers, Democrat, Converse.

School Board District 5 – Genevieve Gordon, Democrat, Many.

Many alderman-at-large – Mary Beth Key Brocato, Democrat, Many.

Noble police chief – Robert Wayne “Bob” Grant, Independent, Noble.

Qualifying Day 2 in Northwest Louisiana

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Urgent recall of Sweet & Soft children’s pyjamas and bath robes

Stormy Daniels struts in LAX and says disciplinary action for cops who arrested … – Sunday 04th August 2019 05:21 AM Swimmer is attacked by a crocodile at a popular Australian waterfall – Sunday …

Urgent recall of Sweet & Soft children’s pyjamas and bath robes

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Stormy Daniels struts in LAX and says disciplinary action for cops who arrested …

Stormy Daniels was spotted in a Defend New Orleans t-shirt as she strutted her stuff through LAX with a hunky male pal on Friday. The porn star, who claims to have had sex with U.S. President Donald …

Stormy Daniels struts in LAX and says disciplinary action for cops who arrested …

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Letter: Albert Casali Jr.: All-out attacks on Trump never let up

It looks like “Russian collusion” didn’t work. Then there was obstruction of justice, then there was Stormy Daniels, now it’s racism. If that doesn’t work, I guess it will be a business deal or a …

Letter: Albert Casali Jr.: All-out attacks on Trump never let up

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At least 15 dead, 22 injured in El Paso shopping complex shooting

Columbus police say five officers from the department’s now-disbanded vice unit face discipline for the 2018 raid on a strip club that resulted in the arrest of Stormy Daniels. Columbus police say …

At least 15 dead, 22 injured in El Paso shopping complex shooting

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Michael Avenatti again considering 2020 presidential bid

The high-profile celebrity lawyer, who once represented porn star Stormy Daniels in her legal battle with Trump over an alleged affair, appeared to still relish Bannon’s encouraging statements about …

Michael Avenatti again considering 2020 presidential bid

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Michael Avenatti says he’s rethinking his decision to stay out of 2020 race

The high-profile celebrity lawyer, who once represented porn star Stormy Daniels in her legal battle with Trump over an alleged affair, appeared to still relish Bannon’s encouraging statements about …

Michael Avenatti says he’s rethinking his decision to stay out of 2020 race

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Creepy Porn Lawyer is mulling a run for President….again

Avenatti, who in the past represented porn star Stormy Daniels against the likes of President Donald Trump and his then fixer Michael Cohen, told CNBC late on Friday that he is yet again contemplating …

Creepy Porn Lawyer is mulling a run for President….again

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Avenatti considering 2020 bid again after saying he wouldn’t run

Kelly, and he has previously represented clients such as adult-film star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Trump Donald John Trump Trump’s greatest allies for a 2020 win: AOC and …

Avenatti considering 2020 bid again after saying he wouldn’t run

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Stormy Daniels Reacts to Columbus Officers’ Punishment for Strip Club Bust

Stormy Daniels is getting a taste of justice after the Ohio cops who busted her at a strip club last year are now facing some consequences … but she ain’t done with them yet. The ex-adult film star …

Stormy Daniels Reacts to Columbus Officers’ Punishment for Strip Club Bust

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A woman is protesting Donald Trump by sewing his outrageous quotes into doilies and her designs are going viral

The Tiny Pricks Project encourages people to embroider striking quotes from the President of the United States onto cloth. …

A woman is protesting Donald Trump by sewing his outrageous quotes into doilies and her designs are going viral

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Michael Avenatti is mulling a run for president again after declaring he would not seek nomination

Michael Avenatti, who in the past represented porn star Stormy Daniels against the likes of President Donald Trump and his then fixer Michael Cohen, told CNBC late on Friday that he is yet again …

Michael Avenatti is mulling a run for president again after declaring he would not seek nomination

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Manhattan DA issues subpoena to Trump Org over hush money payments

We will respond as appropriate.” The subpoena, first reported by The New York Times, was for records related to payments that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen helped arrange to the porn actress …

Manhattan DA issues subpoena to Trump Org over hush money payments

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State Highway Patrol hosts ‘Cram the Cruiser’ Sunday in Warren

Columbus police say five officers from the department’s now-disbanded vice unit face discipline for the 2018 raid on a strip club that resulted in the arrest of Stormy Daniels. Columbus police say …

State Highway Patrol hosts ‘Cram the Cruiser’ Sunday in Warren

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Sebring man arrested after threatening to slice man’s throat

Columbus police say five officers from the department’s now-disbanded vice unit face discipline for the 2018 raid on a strip club that resulted in the arrest of Stormy Daniels. Columbus police say …

Sebring man arrested after threatening to slice man’s throat

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Firefighters called to house fire on Youngstown’s south side

Columbus police say five officers from the department’s now-disbanded vice unit face discipline for the 2018 raid on a strip club that resulted in the arrest of Stormy Daniels. Columbus police say …

Firefighters called to house fire on Youngstown’s south side

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Trump Org Lacks 5th Amendment Privilege But Has Options in Responding to Vance’s Subpoena

Manhattan prosecutors have issued a subpoena on President Donald Trump’s business in its investigation of alleged hush payments to Stephanie Clifford, the adult-film performer known as Stormy Daniels, …

Trump Org Lacks 5th Amendment Privilege But Has Options in Responding to Vance’s Subpoena

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Champion woman cited by Board of Health for feeding stray cats

Columbus police say five officers from the department’s now-disbanded vice unit face discipline for the 2018 raid on a strip club that resulted in the arrest of Stormy Daniels. Columbus police say …

Champion woman cited by Board of Health for feeding stray cats

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Future uncertain for Watkins & Shepard trucking in Austintown

Columbus police say five officers from the department’s now-disbanded vice unit face discipline for the 2018 raid on a strip club that resulted in the arrest of Stormy Daniels. Columbus police say …

Future uncertain for Watkins & Shepard trucking in Austintown

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Columbus bump stock ban in effect after appeals court ruling

Columbus police say five officers from the department’s now-disbanded vice unit face discipline for the 2018 raid on a strip club that resulted in the arrest of Stormy Daniels. Columbus police say …

Columbus bump stock ban in effect after appeals court ruling

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Ohio governor: ‘No doubt’ drugmakers caused opioid crisis

Columbus police say five officers from the department’s now-disbanded vice unit face discipline for the 2018 raid on a strip club that resulted in the arrest of Stormy Daniels. Columbus police say …

Ohio governor: ‘No doubt’ drugmakers caused opioid crisis

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The Manhattan D.A. Is Investigating Trump’s Payment to Stormy Daniels

— Why some Republican insiders fear Kamala Harris the most — No one is safe: how Saudi Arabia makes dissidents disappear — What the surfer-mom influencers of Byron Bay reveal about our world — The …

The Manhattan D.A. Is Investigating Trump’s Payment to Stormy Daniels

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Why Trump Should Be Worried About New York’s Latest Subpoena

Cohen has said he was repaid in installments by the Trump Organization, under the guise of a phony legal retainer, after wiring $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have slept …

Why Trump Should Be Worried About New York’s Latest Subpoena

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Authorities: 3-year-old girl drowns in swimming pool

Columbus police say five officers from the department’s now-disbanded vice unit face discipline for the 2018 raid on a strip club that resulted in the arrest of Stormy Daniels. Columbus police say …

Authorities: 3-year-old girl drowns in swimming pool

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Feds: Lawyer Michael Avenatti defrauded Stormy Daniels, his client

NEW YORK (AP) – Michael Avenatti, the attorney who rocketed to fame through his representation of porn star Stormy Daniels in her battles with President Donald Trump, was charged Wednesday with …

Feds: Lawyer Michael Avenatti defrauded Stormy Daniels, his client

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Manhattan D.A. May Be Reviving Investigation Into Stormy Daniels Hush Payments

The Manhattan district attorney’s office is reportedly reviving an investigation into illegal hush-money payments made by the Trump Organization to multiple women during Donald Trump’s …

Manhattan D.A. May Be Reviving Investigation Into Stormy Daniels Hush Payments

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‘Political hit job’: Trump Org subpoenaed by Manhattan DA over nondisclosure payment to Stormy Daniels

For President Donald Trump, the wolf is always at the door, be it in Washington, D.C., or home in New York City. Following the cue of congressional Democrats set on rehashing the Russian collusion …

‘Political hit job’: Trump Org subpoenaed by Manhattan DA over nondisclosure payment to Stormy Daniels

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Manhattan district attorney seeks documents related to Stormy Daniels payment

President Donald Trump’s private company has received a subpoena for documents related to a hush money to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, indicating renewed law enforcement interest in the payoff. The …

Manhattan district attorney seeks documents related to Stormy Daniels payment

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Manhattan district attorney seeks documents related to Stormy Daniels hush money payment

President Trump’s private company has received a subpoena for documents related to a hush money to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, indicating renewed law enforcement interest in the payoff. The …

Manhattan district attorney seeks documents related to Stormy Daniels hush money payment

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