Posts tagged with "HuffPost"

Failed GOP candidate arrested in string of shootings at New Mexico Democrats’ homes

January 18, 2023

On Monday, January 19, police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, arrested a former Republican candidate for the state House of Representatives in connection with multiple shootings at local Democratic politicians’ homes, reports HuffPost.

Solomon Peña is accused of conspiring with and paying four other men to shoot at the homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said. He was arrested after a brief standoff with a police SWAT team.

The department has been investigating at least six shootings between December 4 and January 5. Four of those have been linked to Peña, police said, and two others are still under investigation.

“It is believed that he is the mastermind behind this,” Medina said at a news conference Monday, per NBC News.

During one attack on Decembver 11, at least 12 bullets were fired at a county commissioner’s home, the Albuquerque Journal reported. On January 3, multiple shots were fired at State Representative Linda Lopez’s home—including three bullets that went through her ten-year-old daughter’s bedroom.

Peña launched an unsuccessful bid for New Mexico’s 14th House District in 2022, losing by 47 percentage points to his Democratic opponent, State Representative Miguel Garcia. The Albuquerque Journal notes that Peña has continued to dispute the results of the race, claiming election fraud.

Peña faced criticism during his bid after Garcia filed a suit to disqualify him from office over a 2008 conviction for stealing in a “smash and grab” robbery. Peña served seven years in prison, but a judge ruled that laws barring convicted felons from office were unconstitutional.

Research contact: @HuffPost

41 House Democrats introduce bill to bar ‘insurrectionist’ Trump from presidency

December 19, 2022

Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) and 40 other House Democrats introduced a bill on Thursday, December 15, that would ban Donald Trump from becoming president again because he “engaged in an insurrection,” reports HuffPost.

Donald Trump very clearly engaged in an insurrection on January 6, 2021, with the intention of overturning the lawful and fair results of the 2020 election,” Cicilline said in a statement. “You don’t get to lead a government you tried to destroy.”

Cicilline, senior member of the House Judiciary Committee and the impeachment manager for Trump’s first impeachment, noted that even Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell held Trump responsible for last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.

There’s “no question—none—that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” McConnell said after the storming of the Capitol, days before Trump left the White House.

The bill cites Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, adopted after the Civil War, which bars any official who has sworn an oath to defend the government from then seeking reelection if they had “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the government — or have “given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) survived a 14th Amendment reelection challenge in court earlier this year, but a challenge succeeded in September against a New Mexico official who participated in the January 6 insurrection.

A judge in New Mexico ruled in response to a lawsuit by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and others that Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin be removed from office—noting the attack on the U.S. Capitol was an insurrection and that Griffin’s participation disqualified him from office under the 14th Amendment.  The ruling removed Griffin “effective immediately” and barred him from holding public office again.

The New Mexico Supreme Court last month dismissed an appeal by Griffin, who was the founder of the group Cowboys for Trump and was convicted of trespassing on the Capitol grounds during the January 6, 2021, attack.

The decision marked the first time since 1869 that a court has disqualified a public official under the amendment—and the first time any court has branded the January 6 storming of the Capitol an insurrection, CREW noted. The organization has said it plans to use the amendment to sue Trump to bar him from office.

“This language in our Constitution clearly intended to bar insurrectionists from holding high office in the United States,” Cicilline wrote to his colleagues last month after he drafted the bill

Proof that “Donald Trump engaged in insurrection” was “demonstrated through the January 6th Committee hearings, the 2021 impeachment trial, and other reporting,” he added.

If passed, the bill would “prevent Donald Trump from holding public office again under the Fourteenth Amendment,” Cicilline emphasized.

Trump “engage(d) in insurrection against the United States by mobilizing, inciting, and aiding those who attacked the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to disrupt certification of the 2020 Presidential Election,” the bill states.

That makes him “ineligible to again hold the office of President of the United States or to hold any office, civil or military, under the United States,” according to the 14th Amendment, the bill states.

Research contact: @HuffPost

DOJ seeks to speak with Pence as part of January 6 investigation

November 25, 2022

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is seeking testimony from former Vice President Mike Pence for its investigation into Donald Trump’s attempts to stay in power after losing the 2020 presidential election, reports HuffPost.

Sources familiar with the matter confirmed the DOJ’s efforts to The New York TimesCNN, and ABC News on Wednesday, November 23. All reported that Pence, who has developed a fraught relationship with Trump after refusing to support his election fraud claims, is open to the request.

DOJ investigators reportedly contacted Pence before Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel―Jack Smith, who once led the public integrity section―to take over the probe last week. As of now, Pence has not been subpoenaed.

Although he is reportedly open to testifying before the DOJ, Pence has refused to participate in a similar investigation led by a House select committee, saying last week that Congress “has no right to my testimony.”

But that doesn’t mean that Trump is happy about it: Indeed, according to HuffPost, the former president may seek legal avenues to stop Pence from testifying by invoking executive privilege, which at the very least, could stall the DOJ’s efforts to convene with him.

Pence could be a key witness in the investigations into the efforts by Trump and his allies to subvert democracy, including a plan to create a fake slate of pro-Trump electors in several states Biden won in 2020, because of his close communications with the ex-president in the days leading up to January 6, 2021, when an angry mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol with Trump’s encouragement.

Pence detailed many of their exchanges in his recently released book, saying Trump summoned him to meet with attorney John Eastman, who then pressured Pence to block the electoral college certification process in Congress.

Wednesday’s news comes the week after Pence shared that he’s giving “prayerful consideration” to running for president in 2024―a race for which Trump already has announced his candidacy. Pence said there are “better choices” than Trump for president last week when asked if he’d be a good presidential candidate again.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Florida judge orders Ron DeSantis to turn over records on migrant flights

October 28, 2022

 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) must turn over records connected with migrant flights from Texas to Massachusetts, a Florida judge ruled on Tuesday, October 25, saying his administration had failed to comply with the state’s public records law, reports HuffPost.

 The governor’s office says it intends to appeal the decision, claiming that DeSantis already has provided “a significant number” of documents on the controversial flights, despite being preoccupied with Hurricane Ian.

This month, the open government group Florida Center for Government Accountability (FLCGA) filed a lawsuit seeking to compel DeSantis to release public records related to two charter flights he ordered that took 48 migrants, many of them Venezuelan, from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

 A judge in Leon County, Florida, J. Lee Marsh, ruled against the governor and ordered his office to turn over the public records that FLCGA requested within 20 days. These records include phone and text logs of James Uthmeier, the governor’s chief of staff, who helped transport migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.

The governor’s office did not show “any steps, direct steps taken to gather what this court finds are public records,” Marsh said.

 DeSantis also is facing lawsuits from migrants who were left stranded after being flown to the Massachusetts island. What’s more, a Texas sheriff is investigating whether the migrants, who were given false promises of work and shelter before they were flown to Massachusetts as a political stunt, were defrauded.

 Another investigation, launched in October by the Treasury Department’s inspector general, is investigating whether DeSantis “improperly used” money from COVID-19 aid to pay for the flights.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Judge rules Trump can ignore Special Master’s order to prove claim FBI ‘planted’ docs

October 3, 2022

U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Florida Aileen Cannon—who was nominated to the court by former President Donald Trump in April 2020—ruled on Thursday, September 29, that Trump does not have to comply with an order by the Special Master to put up or shut up about his claims that the FBI “planted” information among documents that agents seized from Mar-a-Lago, reports HuffPost.

Special Master Raymond Dearie—a federal judge who was recommended by Trump’s own legal team—had given the former president’s lawyers until Friday to confirm or refute an inventory list of items taken by the FBI agents that was provided by the Justice Department.

Dearie’s order, in essence, demanded proof of Trump’s claims that some White House files agents confiscated at Mar-a-Lago had been “planted.” It was a claim pointedly not ever made by his attorneys.

“This submission shall be Plaintiff’s final opportunity to raise any factual dispute as to the completeness and accuracy of the Detailed Property Inventory,” Dearie, a former federal prosecutor and a U.S. district judge in Brooklyn, New York, said when he issued the order.

Trump said that he and family members watched agents search sections of his Mar-a-Lago home and resort on surveillance cameras—raising the question of how the FBI could have secretly planted evidence at the same time.

Two lawyers for Trump were also at Mar-a-Lago during the search, and one signed off on a list of boxes and “miscellaneous top secret documents” that were removed.

In a letter written on Sunday, September 25, and made public late Wednesday, Trump’s team attempted to duck Dearie’s demand.

“Because the Special Master’s case management plan exceeds the grant of authority from the District Court on this issue, plaintiff must object,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.

Cannon agreed in her order Thursday, saying Trump’s attorneys would not be required to affirm the accuracy of the FBI’s inventory from Mar-a-Lago before getting a chance to review the records themselves.

“There shall be no separate requirement on Plaintiff at this stage, prior to the review of any of the seized materials. … The Court’s Appointment Order did not contemplate that obligation,” Cannon wrote.

Her order also extended the timeline to review the documents Trump took from the White House to stash at Mar-a-Lago from November 30 until December 16. The records, which belong to the public, are supposed to be held by the National Archives.

Dearie is supposed to be reviewing the several boxes of documents to determine if any may be protected by lawyer-client or executive privilege.

While Dearie appeared to be speeding up the process, Cannon is slowing it down— which will delay revealing any damning information until after the midterm elections.

In a blow to Trump, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled last week that the Justice Department can resume reviewing the seized classified records—blocking a portion of a stay issued earlier by Cannon. The appeals court also prohibited Dearie from vetting the documents marked classified.

After the ruling, Cannon—whose decision in Trump’s favor protecting the records seized at Mar-a-Lago has been criticized by several legal expert— amended her own order. It now states that material subject to a special master review no longer includes the “approximately one-hundred documents bearing classification markings.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

ADL: Hundreds of police and military officers, and public officials are members of the Oath Keepers

September 8, 2022

The names of hundreds of U.S. law enforcement officers, elected officials, and military members appear on the leaked membership rolls of a far-right extremist group that’s accused of playing a key role in the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to a report released on Wednesday, September 7, reports HuffPost.

 The Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism pored over more than 38,000 names on leaked Oath Keepers membership lists and identified more than 370 people it believes currently work in law enforcement agencies—including as police chiefs and sheriffs—and more than 100 people who are currently members of the military.

 It also identified more than 80 people who were running for or serving in public office as of early August. The membership information was compiled into a database published by the transparency collective Distributed Denial of Secrets.

 The data raise fresh concerns about the presence of extremists in law enforcement and the military who are tasked with enforcing laws and protecting the USA. It’s especially problematic for public servants to be associated with extremists at a time when lies about the 2020 election are fueling threats of violence against lawmakers and institutions.

“Even for those who claimed to have left the organization when it began to employ more aggressive tactics in 2014, it is important to remember that the Oath Keepers have espoused extremism since their founding, and this fact was not enough to deter these individuals from signing up,” the report says.

Appearing in the Oath Keepers’ database doesn’t prove that a person was ever an active member of the group or shares its ideology. Some people on the list contacted by The Associated Press said they were briefly members years ago and are no longer affiliated with the group. Some said they were never dues-paying members.

 “Their views are far too extreme for me,” said Shawn Mobley, sheriff of Otero County, Colorado. Mobley told the AP in an email that he distanced himself from the Oath Keepers years ago over concerns about its involvement in the standoff against the federal government at Bundy Ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada, among other things.

 The Oath Keepers, founded in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, is a loosely organized conspiracy theory-fueled group that recruits current and former military, police, and first responders. It asks its members to vow to defend the Constitution “against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” promotes the belief that the federal government is out to strip citizens of their civil liberties, and paints its followers as defenders against tyranny.

 More than two dozen people associated with the Oath Keepers—including Rhodes—have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack. Rhodes and four other Oath Keeper members or associates are heading to trial this month on seditious conspiracy charges for what prosecutors have described as a weekslong plot to keep President Donald Trump in power. Rhodes and the other Oath Keepers say they are innocent and that there was no plan to attack the Capitol.

 Among the elected officials whose names appears on the membership lists is South Dakota state Representative Phil Jensen, who won a June Republican primary in his bid for reelection. Jensen told the AP he paid for a one-year membership in 2014, never received any Oath Keepers’ literature, attended any meetings, or renewed his membership.

 Jensen said he felt compelled to join because he “believed in the oath that we took to support the U.S. Constitution and to defend it against enemies foreign and domestic.” He wouldn’t say whether he now disavows the Oath Keepers, saying he doesn’t have enough information about the group today.

 “Back in 2014, they appeared to be a pretty solid conservative group, I can’t speak to them now,” he said.

 ADL said it found the names of at least ten people who now work as police chiefs and 11 sheriffs. All of the police chiefs and sheriffs who responded to the AP said they no longer have any ties to the group.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Surf’s up, Dawg! Gnarly pups catch waves at World Dog Surfing Championship

August 11, 2022

A bunch of very cool dogs went toe to toe at Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica, California, on Saturday, August 6, for the World Dog Surfing Championships, reports HuffPost.

The event, which donates a portion of its proceeds to dog-related nonprofits, invites surfer dogs and their human pals to hang ten at the beach for a day of activities, including surf and doggy costume competitions, dog adoptions, a pet wellness fair and a “yappy hour” to end the festivities.

“Humans aren’t the only ‘surf dogs’—surfers’ four-legged friends love water too, and many even like catching waves,” the event’s website said. “These amphibious canines are special creatures: Top surfers believe that dogs who learn to surf develop a unique attitude, knowing they have something that sets them apart from other dogs.”

Surf prizes were awarded, based on dog size and other categories–including tandem dogs and human/dog tandem. Skyler, an Australian cattle dog, won the top prize, placing first in the Top Dog Final Overall Champ.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Donald Trump gets a tax break by burying ex-wife Ivana at his golf club

August 2, 2022

Donald Trump’s first wife Ivana was buried in a gold-hued coffin at the former president’s New Jersey golf club last month, following an Upper East Side funeral service  at which she was remembered as a woman who was “adored,” reports Fortune Magazine.

However, the Trump family has been accused of having ulterior motives, Fortune says, for choosing the golf course as her final resting places—motives that could benefit the family patriarch’s finances.

Trump’s first wife—and mother to his three oldest children Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric—passed away in July.

She was laid to rest at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, according to the New York Post, which reported that her grave was “not too far from the main clubhouse” and below the backside of the first tee.

Documents  published by ProPublica show that the Trump Family Trust previously sought to designate a property in Hackettstown—around 20 miles from the golf course where Ivana now is buried—as a non-profit cemetery company.

Indeed, defining the golf course as a cemetery could grant the business a whole raft of tax breaks.

Under New Jersey law, land being used for cemetery purposes is exempt from real estate and personal property taxes, as well as sales tax, inheritance tax, business tax and income tax.

Cemetery property is also exempt from sale for collection of judgements, with cemetery trust funds and trust income exempt from both tax and sale or seizure for collection of judgments against the company.

Ivana Trump is the only known person to have been buried onsite at Trump National Golf Club, according to reports.

Brooke Harrington, a tax researcher and professor of sociology at Dartmouth, said in a tweet on Sunday, July 31, that using the golf course as a cemetery was “a trifecta of tax avoidance.”

She added that in New Jersey, there was “no stipulation regarding a minimum [number] of human remains necessary for the tax breaks to kick in.”

“Looks like one corpse will suffice to make at least three forms of tax vanish,” she said.

A representative from the Trump Organization told Fortune in an email on Monday that links being made between Ivana Trump’s grave site and tax laws were “truly evil.”

Trump himself has previously expressed wishes to be buried at his New Jersey golf club, telling the New York Post  in 2007 that he wanted to be laid to rest in the “beautiful land” of Bedminster.

“Mr. Trump … specifically chose this property for his final resting place as it is his favorite property,” his company wrote in a 2014 filing  seen by The  Washington Post.

The filing sought approval to build a ten-plot private family mausoleum at Trump National Golf Club.

Resistance from local decisionmakers reportedly led to withdrawals and resubmittals of proposed burial sites over the years, with Trump’s ideas ranging from a small but opulent family mausoleum to a 1,000-grave site that would see plots for sale to members of the golf club.

While registering the golf course as a cemetery would exempt it from taxes, the former president already found a way to slash his tax bill for the New Jersey club by registering it as a farm, the Huffington Post  reported in 2019.

Trump reportedly owns several goats and farms hay at the resort, which reduced his tax bill by around $88,000 a year, according to a Huffington Postanalysis

Under this arrangement, the golf course was taxed at just over $6 an acre in 2019, rather than $462 an acre.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Meet Isa, the new Gerber Baby Contest winner

May 9, 2022

It’s official! There’s a new Gerber baby in town. On Wednesday, May4, the baby food brand announced the winner of its 12th annual Gerber Baby Photo Search Contest: 7-month-old Isa Slish from Edmond, Oklahoma, reports HuffPost.

A panel of judges selected Isa from a pool of more than 225,000 entrants to serve as the 2022 Gerber “spokesbaby” and honorary “chief growing officer.” She will hold the title of “chief taste tester” and “review” the brand’s new baby food products, the company says.

Isa also will appear on Gerber’s social media channels and marketing campaigns for the year. Her family will receive a $25,000 cash prize, free Gerber products for up to a year, $1,000 in Gerber baby clothes and a $1,000 gift card from the ezpz brand of developmental feeding tools.

Isa’s win is not just an exciting moment for her family but also marks a victory for disability inclusion. The 7-month-old was born with congenital femoral deficiency and fibular hemimelia, which in her case means she was born without a femur or fibula in her right leg.

“Ever since we knew Isa was going to be born with a limb difference, we’ve wanted to raise awareness and advocate as much as possible,” Isa’s mother Meredith Slish told HuffPost. “After I saw the call for entries, we thought this could be a great opportunity to show off our beautiful baby girl and raise awareness around limb difference.”

Meredith and her husband, John, feel it’s fitting that they were able to enter Isa into the Gerber contest during the month of April, which is Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month. As for her win, they are excited the judges recognized how “amazing” and “special” their joy-filled daughter is.

“We’re incredibly grateful to Gerber for choosing a baby who represents diversity,” Meredith said. “And we hope going forward she will not only be the wonderful, fun-loving, giggly, smiling, beautiful girl she is, but also help us raise awareness—communicating to families that there is hope, and if babies are supported and loved by the family, friends and community around them, that they can really grow and be whatever they want to be.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

Roe v. Wade may be overturned, a leaked draft of Supreme Court opinion reveals

May 4, 2022

A leaked Supreme Court draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito  and  published late Monday by Politico  indicates that the court may be preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 precedent that established a constitutional right to an abortion, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The draft, dated from February, couldn’t be independently confirmed, but legal observers said it appeared to be authentic. On Tuesday, May 2, Chief Justice John Roberts confirmed the draft was authentic and launched an investigation into the leak, according to a report by HuffPost.

According to the Journal, the 67-page opinion, marked as a first draft, declared that Roe was “egregiously wrong and deeply damaging,” and that Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 decision that limited but didn’t eliminate abortion rights, prolonged the court’s error.

“Abortion presents a profound moral question. The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion,” the draft opinion said. “Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”

The draft does not necessarily represent the court’s ultimate decision in the case or even the majority’s current thinking. However, it is consistent with the tenor of December’s oral arguments in the case challenging Roe, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organizationconcerning Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks. The draft was labeled the opinion of the court—implying that a majority of justices had agreed with it.

The apparent leak represents a nearly unheard of breach of the court’s private, behind-the-scenes deliberations on a blockbuster case that the court hasn’t yet publicly issued. It also could threaten longstanding bonds of trust on a court that has already been under ideological and personal strains.

After an initial vote among justices on a case, Supreme Court decisions can undergo considerable evolution in tone and substance as justices circulate draft opinions for weeks and months. Those drafts are circulated between chambers—with justices typically offering feedback, support, and criticism in writing—until the court arrives at a final ruling, which is frequently accompanied by concurring and dissenting opinions that weigh in on the court’s holding.

Given those internal processes, it’s possible that there are more recent versions of the decision that look different than the draft Politico published. And on occasions, justices can change their positions during deliberations.

The court’s decision has been expected by the end of June or early July.

Research contact: @WSJ