Posts tagged with "Ballrooms"

‘Insane,’ ‘ludicrous,’ ‘absurd’: FBI’s Wray shows teeth to GOP critics

July 17, 2023

Early in a tense hearing on Wednesday, July 12, featuring FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, Representative Ken Buck (R-Colorado) tried to lighten the mood. Amid growing attacks by Republicans on Wray, he noted that Wray had been nominated to his current post —and also a previous post—by Republican presidents, reports The Washington Post.

“According to Wikipedia, you’re still a registered Republican,” Buck said, “and I hope you don’t change your party affiliation after this hearing is over.”

Wray, too, repeatedly leaned into his Republican bona fides. “Yes, I think there were only five votes against,” he said of his 2017 confirmation as FBI director, “and they were all from Democrats.”

Later in the House Judiciary Committee hearing, he told a Republican congresswoman of GOP allegations against him: “The idea that I’m biased against conservatives seems somewhat insane to me, given my own personal background.”

The exchanges highlighted the paradox of Wray’s suddenly becoming Public Enemy No. 1 to congressional Republicans, as they press conspiratorial and highly speculative allegations about the purported weaponization of federal law enforcement.

And while the Trump-nominated FBI director was characteristically even-tempered in his testimony, there were times in which his exasperation at his predicament came to the surface—and in which he showed his critics some teeth.

Multiple Republicans peppered Wray with questions about whether FBI agents or sources were present on January 6 during the attack on the Capitol—feeding a still baseless Tucker Carlson-fueled conspiracy theory that the FBI might have played a role in the insurrection.

Wray at one point remarked: “I will say this notion that somehow the violence at the Capitol on January 6 was part of some operation by FBI sources and agents is ludicrous and is a disservice to our brave, hard-working, dedicated men and women.”

When Representative Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) pressed Wray on the government’s efforts to crack down on misinformation and mentioned the COVID lab-leak theory, Wray took exception.

He called it “ironic” and “somewhat absurd” to suggest the FBI was suppressing the lab-leak theory, because the FBI was once “the only agency in the entire intelligence community” to assess that as being the most likely origin for the virus, back in 2021.

“Insane.” “Ludicrous.” “Ironic.” “Absurd.” All words used to describe theories promoted by Wray’s fellow Republicans.

Wray at other points more subtly pushed back on such allegations.

Republicans continued to allege that the FBI’s search of Donald Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago to recover classified documents Trump had withheld was overzealous. And Wray stuck to long-standing FBI policy of not commenting on ongoing cases.

But at one point, he did lean in. When a Democrat asked whether it would be appropriate to keep such documents in bathrooms, ballrooms, and bedrooms, Wray responded somewhat bitingly—while qualifying that he was only speaking generally.

“I will say there are specific rules about where to store classified information and that those need to be stored in a SCIF, a secure, compartmentalized information facility,” Wray said. “And in my experience, ballrooms, bathrooms, and bedrooms are not SCIFs.”

Wray easily could have begged off the question as obviously referring to a specific case, but he didn’t.

Wray got somewhat personal during an exchange with Representative Chip Roy (R-Texas). Roy invoked a “tyrannical” FBI and cited armed agents showing up to arrest a conservative activist who was charged with a crime but later acquitted.

Wray rejected the T-word and the idea that anyone was arrested at “gunpoint,” as Roy said. Then Wray added: “Whenever our agents conduct an arrest, they’re armed. Our agents are armed virtually all the time, as you may remember from your own experience as a prosecutor.”

And when Representative Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) pressed Wray on his not commenting on ongoing matters, Wray noted that “the last administration actually strengthened those policies.”

None of it was terribly heated, but it was also clear that Wray increasingly recognizes that the reason many Americans—mostly his fellow Republicans—have soured on the FBI is the often-flimsy theories he was confronted with, also by his fellow Republicans.

At Wednesday’s hearing, he subtly took aim at this “somewhat insane” set of circumstances.

“Some people refer to me as low-key,” Wray said toward the end of the hearing, “But no one should ever mistake my demeanor for what my spine is made out of.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Las Vegas Sands plans $4B casino development on Long Island, New York

March 29, 2023

The Las Vegas Sands, a Paradise, Nevada-based casino and resort company, announced plans to develop a multi-billion-dollar flagship hospitality, entertainment and casino project on Long Island, New York, reports Hotel Dive.

The transaction, which still requires certain approvals, would grant the resort company control of up to 80 acres in Nassau County, New York. The $4 billion Long Island development would include outdoor community spaces, four- and five-star hotel rooms, a live performance venue, convention space and a casino, Newsday first reported.

Other features of the planned site, which is currently home to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, will comprise:

  • Restaurants,
  • Ballrooms,
  • A day spa,
  • A swimming pool, and
  • A health club.

And the perks won’t be just for guests: The Las Vegas Sands plans to partner with trade schools, community colleges, and local universities to offer a wide range of training programs and professional advancement opportunities for laborers on the project.

Robert Goldstein, the company’s chairman and CEO, expects the project to generate thousands of union jobs in both construction and operations. He added that the development will use “cutting-edge sustainable building and operating practices” and will seek guidance from Long Island’s environmental leaders on “its ambition to achieve LEED certification and its goal of being the greenest building on Long Island,” according to a press release.

The company brought in former New York Governor David A. Paterson in 2019 to assist with the development timeline, reported The Nevada Independent. He recently spoke in December at the joint meeting of the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce and the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers to present the plan for the Long Island site, according to World Casino News.

“[Las Vegas Sands’ track record] gives us a unique perspective on what it takes to develop transformative tourism destinations that positively impact the local community,” said Goldstein. “Based on that experience, we strongly believe Long Island can be home to one of the region’s great entertainment and hospitality developments.”

Research contact: @HotelDive