Posts tagged with "HuffPost"

George Santos is expelled from Congress

December 4, 2023

The House voted on  Friday, December 1, to expel Representative George Santos (R-New York) from Congress—an embarrassing end to his brief legislative career that was built on lies from the start, reports HuffPost.

The final vote was 311 to 114. You can read the expulsion resolution here.

Their action comes after a House Ethics Committee investigation found last month that Santos spent thousands of dollars in campaign funds on personal services and products—such as Botox treatments, Hermès designer products, and access to a website used primarily by sex workers.

The panel also alleged that Santos reported fake donations to his campaign in order to persuade donors to give him even more money―and then kept all of that money for himself.

The Republican chairman of the committee sponsored the resolution to throw Santos out of Congress right after the panel released its report.

There have only been 20 people expelled from Congress in its entire history; and most were in the Senate and kicked out in the 1860s for supporting the Confederacy. The last time a federal lawmaker was expelled was in 2002, when then-Rep. Jim Traficant (D-Ohio) was convicted of bribery and racketeering.

Santos is the sixth House member to be expelled, and the first Republican House member. His expulsion may be the least of his woes. He’s facing a 23-count federal indictment that alleges conspiracy, cheating to get unemployment benefits, credit card fraud and other crimes.

Santos has also been accused of lying about his résumé so many times that it’s hard to keep up. He’s misled people about his name, his Jewish heritage; being a descendent of Holocaust survivors from Ukraine; his mother being in the Twin Towers during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; and his mother being the first female executive at a major financial institution. Immigration documents show that his mother worked as a housekeeper.

The New York Republican has consistently denied he’s done anything wrong. Last month, he dismissed the House Ethics Committee’s probe into his finances, calling it “a dirty biased act and one that tramples all over my rights.”

In the wake of that report, though, he did announce he wouldn’t run for reelection.

Research contact: @HuffPost

This is how Americans really feel about tipping—and whom they are likely to tip the most

November 21, 2023

If you feel like you’re expected to tip more often these days, but no longer know what the guidelines are, you have plenty of company out there, reports HuffPost.

Most U.S. adults believe that the expectation to tip has increased during the last few years—yet they feel a lot of uncertainty about when to leave gratuities and how large they should be, according to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.

More than 70% of the survey’s respondents said it feels like more businesses expect their workers to be tipped than was the case five years ago. But only around 33% of respondents said it was very easy to know whether to leave a gratuity in a given situation, and roughly the same share said it was very easy to know how big it should be.

Respondents also said they were far more likely to tip certain service workers than others. More than 90% said they always or often leave a tip for a restaurant server; but only 76% said the same for an app-based delivery worker; 61%, for a ride-share driver; and just 25% for a coffee shop barista.

Drew DeSilver, a Pew writer who analyzed the survey results, told HuffPost that the findings dovetail with anecdotal evidence of a tipping culture shift―sometimes dubbed tipflation, tip creep, or tipping fatigue―in which customers feel more pressure, often through point-of-sale touch screens, to leave gratuities for a wider swath of services. (The pilot episode of HuffPost’s new podcast “Am I Doing It Wrong?” explored the confusion around tipping in today’s service economy.)

“It’s one of those things where you have a feeling you know what’s going on, but there’s not really a way to quantify that,” DeSilver said. “Certainly the perception is that people are being asked to tip in more places.”

DeSilver cautioned that the tipping survey has a drawback: This is the first year Pew has done it, so researchers couldn’t perform an apples-to-apples comparison with survey results from prior years. But he said they tried to frame the survey in a way that would capture whether people feel as though tipping expectations have changed.

He said the results reflected a lot of uncertainty around the custom.

“A lot of people say it is not particularly easy to know when to tip or how much to tip,” he said. “There is no authoritative single source on what the rules of tipping are.”

The survey also found that people generally don’t like being prompted with suggested tip amounts (40% oppose this practice, compared with 24% who favor it), and they very much dislike automatic tips or service charges (72% said they oppose them regardless of the size of their party). More restaurants seem to be adding automatic charges to bills―sometimes dubbed service fees or even “living wage” fees linked to minimum wage increases―although they don’t always go to the workers.

Meanwhile, a strong majority overall (72%) said they believe the tips they leave should stay with the restaurant worker who served them. However, this is often not the practice in restaurants that run tip pools; and spread the gratuities among other front-of-the-house workers, like bartenders and food runners.

Most respondants (77%) said they factor the quality of the service they received into how much of a tip they will leave. Only a quarter said a worker’s pre-tip wages serve as a major factor. Many tipped workers are paid a sub-minimum wage ―as low as $2.13 per hour in some states―with gratuities expected to make up the difference.

One of the more surprising findings for DeSilver: A majority of respondents said they were likely to tip 15% or less on a sit-down meal at a restaurant. Only a quarter said they would tip 20% or more.

He expected most people to land in the 18% to 20% range. “I generally thought that was the norm,” he said.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Trump told nuclear sub secrets to Australian billionaire—who went on to tell 45 others

October 9, 2023

Former President Donald Trump reportedly shared details about America’s nuclear submarine program with an Australian billionaire, who then went on to tell journalists, foreign officials, and others about the sensitive information, HuffPost reports.

ABC News first reported that Special Counsel Jack Smith had learned about Trump’s disclosure to the billionaire—a cardboard magnate named Anthony Pratt —as part of his investigation into the former president’s handling of classified documents. Trump allegedly told Pratt several government secrets about the submarines during an event at his Mar-a-Lago Club and residence in Palm Beach, Florida, where the billionaire is a member.

Pratt reportedly told prosecutors and FBI agents that Trump brought up the submarine fleet in April 2021, after he had left the White House. The former president then revealed the supposed number of nuclear warheads that are on board U.S. submarines at any time and how close the vessels can get to a Russian submarine without detection.

The billionaire, ABC News added, shared that information with at least 45 people, including three former Australian prime ministers, a half dozen journalists and other foreign officials. Australia recently inked a deal with the United States to spend up to $245 billion over the next three decades to build a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.

It’s unclear if the details were accurate, or if they were bluster or exaggerations, but ABC News reported that Pratt was informed by investigators not to share the numbers he was reportedly given.

The New York Times, which confirmed the report with people familiar with the matter, said the details would be highly protected information and could endanger the U.S. nuclear fleet if made public.

A former Australian ambassador to the United States told the paper the information wasn’t new to his country, saying: “If that’s all that was discussed, we already know all that.

“We have had Australians serving with Americans on U.S. submarines for years, and we share the same technology and the same weapons as the U.S. Navy,” the former ambassador, Joe Hockey, said.

The reported information was not included in Smith’s federal indictment of Trump earlier this year related to his handling of classified documents after he left the White House. Trump was charged with 40 counts related to willful retention of documents and obstruction of justice. But it could be used as part of the ultimate case against him to bolster any pattern of Trump’s handling of sensitive material.

A Trump spokesperson told ABC that the former president did “nothing wrong,” adding the report lacked “proper context and relevant information.”

“President Trump did nothing wrong, has always insisted on truth and transparency, and acted in a proper manner, according to the law,” the spokesperson told ABC News.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Studio executives finally reach deal with writers to end historic strike

September 26, 2023

Nearly five months after thousands of film and TV writers went on strike over more equitable pay and working conditions in the streaming era—effectively shutting down the entertainment industry—Hollywood studio and streaming executives at long last have reached a tentative deal with the Writers Guild of America-East and West, reports HuffPost.

In an email to members late on Sunday, September 24, the union said it had reached “an agreement in principle on all deal points, subject to drafting final contract language.”

The union said it will share details about what the union negotiators and studio executives agreed to once union leadership reviews the final language in the agreement.

“What we have won in this contract—most particularly, everything we have gained since May 2nd—is due to the willingness of this membership to exercise its power, to demonstrate its solidarity, to walk side-by-side, to endure the pain and uncertainty of the past 146 days. It is the leverage generated by your strike, in concert with the extraordinary support of our union siblings, that finally brought the companies back to the table to make a deal,” the email to members continued.

“We can say, with great pride, that this deal is exceptional—with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership.”

Once ratified by the union members, the agreement could have huge effects—setting historic precedents on major industrywide issues. Throughout the strike, writers have framed the fight as an existential oneshowing the ways longstanding inequities in the industry have jeopardized the future of writing as a profession and restricted the types of people who can make a living as a writer in Hollywood. The issues that led them to strike include dwindling pay while corporate executives reap profits from writers’ work and the need for guardrails around the use of artificial intelligence. (HuffPost’s unionized staff are also members of the WGA East, but are not involved in the strike.)

The resolution to the strike means writers can soon resume work on film and TV shows—putting an end to a monthslong standstill on virtually all film and TV production. Looming deadlines likely motivated the studio executives, represented by the trade group Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, to finally reach a deal with the writers. Had the strike stretched further into the fall, network shows would not have enough time to put together a partial season of programming.

In the email to members, the union said that the writers are technically still on strike, since the agreement is subject to votes from the union’s negotiating committee and then from leaders of the WGA West and East. Those votes are tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, September 26, the WGA said.

Following those votes, union leaders would then authorize a full membership ratification vote on the agreement. During the ratification vote, members would then be allowed to return to work, the union said.

Throughout the strike, writers have had the upper hand in terms of public perception, picketing nearly daily in front of major studios and corporate headquarters in New York and Los Angeles. In addition to laying out the stakes of the strike in no uncertain terms, they were also able to point to the massive corporate greed of Hollywood executives, showing the huge gap between executive salaries and most writers’ relatively meager wages.

It did not help that studio executives continually dug a deeper hole for themselves and added to the public perception of them as cartoon villains—including giving anonymous quotes to Hollywood trade publications asserting the strike was meant to bleed writers dry. For instance, in July, a studio executive anonymously told Deadline: “The endgame is to allow things to drag on until union members start losing their apartments and losing their houses.”

The writers’ ability to wield the power of public protest also got results. Earlier this week, Drew Barrymore reversed plans to resume her talk show without her striking writers, after she faced a week of massive public backlash. Her announcement set off a domino effect: Several more talk shows that had been slated to return while their writers are on strike also reversed their plans.

Since July, actors represented by the Screen Actors Guild also been on strike over similar issues as the writers. While studio executives will need to reach a separate agreement with SAG-AFTRA, the resolution of the writers strike is an optimistic sign for a similar deal with the actors.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Do bond-building hair products like Olaplex really work?

September 19, 2023

For frizz-smoothing and shine-inducing, products that label themselves as “bond builders” are becoming increasingly popular. But do these products work—and are they more effective than traditional jhair care compounds at helping your dry, damaged locks? While anyone who follows #hairtok knows all about the love-hate relationship of many influencers (and investors) with Olaplex, the category dominator, there are plenty of other products out there to consider, too, reports HuffPost.

 Experts: This stuff works!

The experts to whom HuffPost talked to were big fans of the concept in general. “These bond or chain repair products have been a game changer in our industry,” says colorist Tina Deeke from Chicago’s Maxine Salon. “We’ve been able to protect hair while coloring or performing other chemical services. Bonders help strengthen and add shine. They have lasting results, especially if you continue using them at home after leaving the salon.”

“Bond building is a relatively new category in hair care, but it’s quickly become one of the most popular,” says Cassie Siskovic, U.S. national artistic director for Alfaparf Milano Professional. “The results are pretty much immediate, and I think that instant difference is what’s helped make this such a popular category in hair care.”

“Bond repair treatments are the new way to take your hair back to healthier, younger days,” says hairstylist Bradley Leake.

How it works

According to stylist Jamie Wiley, there are three separate things these products do to give your hair a boost. “First, they stabilize the protein chain in the horizontal disulfide bond of hair, which can be broken any time hair is damaged,” she says. “Then, they actively build the hydrogen bond, which is responsible for holding texture and shape. Finally, they strengthen salt bonds, which are responsible for balancing the acidity and alkalinity in the hair.”

“They’re supposed to strengthen the bonds in your hair by providing a more advanced, intensive treatment with amino acids,” says Dr. Nicole Negbenebor, a dermatologist. “The hope is that these amino acids would be able to reach the cortex of the hair and lead to strengthening of the hair shaft.”

What kind of hair it can help?

“These products may be best for patients experiencing dry hair with breakage,” Negbenebor says. “Some patients may need to use it if their hair seems more fragile, especially if they have had a history of chemical processing.”

“Bond builders work on all textures, but I see the biggest difference in my clients with wavy or curly textures,” colorist Ashleigh Marie Rancilio says. “When textured hair is repaired and hydrated with these products, the curl pattern is bouncier and less frizzy.”

Wondering if this is something you need? Do an at-home elasticity test to see if there’s been bond breakage. “Pick out one strand of damp hair, take it between your index finger and thumb, and position your hand about 1 inch away from the ends,” Siskovic says. “Take your other hand and place it about three inches above, also between your pointer and index finger. Stretch the strand. If it snaps, your hair probably has some broken bonds. If it doesn’t snap and just stretches a bit, then your hair more than likely has strong bonds.”

The best bond-building hair products

The brand most often mentioned by experts was Olaplex, but there are plenty of others that earned their praise. As you’re shopping, consider looking for something that contains citric acid. “That’s going to boost your shine and will make your hair feel softer,” says stylist Takisha Sturdivant-Drew.

Negbenebor has more shopping advice: “Look for products that also have other healthy ingredients in them. But if you’re allergic to fragrance, you’ll want to avoid anything with fragrance, as this could cause allergic contact dermatitis.”

If you do buy some bond builder, using it regularly is important. “Every brand and product is going to be a little bit different, but I do know a lot of the technology encourages consistent use,” Siskovic said. “This may mean using it once a month, or every time you wash or every day. Check with the brand instructions or your stylist to make sure you’re aligned on how often you should use it.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

Ex-prosecutor tells why new Trump indictment is ‘final nail in the coffin’

July 31, 2023

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance—who is an MSNBC legal analystspelled out on Thursday night, July 27, why the new defendant in the classified documents case is very bad news for the former president, reports HuffPost.

The former federal prosecutor says it could be the “final nail in the coffin” for former President Donald Trump if a new defendant charged in the Mar-a-Lago documents probe flips―an outcome that she believes is very likely.

Prosecutors this week charged a third person, Mar-a-Lago maintenance worker Carlos De Oliveira, in the federal case involving classified material Trump took from the White House to his Florida estate.

De Oliveira is accused of helping Trump aide Walt Nauta—the other person previously charged with Trump in the case—move boxes of classified documents stashed at Mar-a-Lago, and then lying to federal investigators about it. He also allegedly followed Trump’s orders to try and erase surveillance footage.

“This is a defendant who has almost no choice but to flip,” the former U.S. Attorney said in on MSNBC on Thursday. “He’s looking at spending a big chunk of time in prison if he goes forward.”

Pointing to De Oliveira’s interview with the FBI, Vance said De Oliveira “lies to them in a bald-faced manner,” so they “have him dead to center if he does not cooperate.”

Vance said De Oliveira’s cooperation would be key in helping prosecutors prove Trump’s criminal intent.

“If he does cooperate, he is putting Trump front and center in this scheme to obstruct,” she continued. “They have Trump wanting to figure out if the videos can be erased. And this is so important in showing that this was not an innocuous effort by the former president to hold on to trophies or souvenirs from his time in office; but that he, in fact, knew that what he was doing was wrong.”

“And so, if they can obtain De Oliveira’s cooperation, that’s probably the final nail in the coffin on this one.”

Trump now has been charged with three additional felonies in the probe, adding to the 37 he already faced, according to Thursday’s superceding indictment.

The new charges include additional counts of willful retention of documents and obstruction of justice—alleging that the three defendants schemed to “delete security camera footage at the Mar-a-Lago Club to prevent the footage from being provided to a federal grand jury.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

Domestic rabbits invade Florida suburb

July 19, 2023

When Alicia Griggs steps outside her suburban Fort Lauderdale home, Florida’s latest invasive species comes a-hoppin’ down the street: lionhead rabbits.

According to a report by HuffPost, the bunnies—which sport an impressive flowing mane around their heads—want the food Griggs carries. But she also represents their best chance of survival and transitioning them to a safer spot: inside a home and away from cars, cats, hawks, Florida heat; and, possibly, government-hired exterminators.

Griggs is spearheading efforts to raise the $20,000 to $40,000 it would cost for a rescue group to capture, neuter, vaccinate, shelter and then give away the estimated 60 to 100 lionheads now populating Jenada Isles, an 81-home community in Wilton Manors.

The domestic rabbits are descendants of a group illegally let loose by a backyard breeder when she moved away two years as first reported by the AP. “They really need to be rescued. So we’ve tried to get the city to do it, but they’re just dragging their feet,” Griggs said. “They think that if they do that, then they’ll have to get rid of iguanas and everything else that people don’t want around.”

Monica Mitchell, whose East Coast Rabbit Rescue would likely lead the effort, said capturing, treating and finding homes for them “is not an easy process.” Few veterinarians treat rabbits and many prospective owners shy away when they find out how much work the animals require.

Griggs agreed. “People don’t realize they’re exotic pets and they’re complicated. They have a complicated digestive system and they have to eat a special diet,” said Griggs, a real estate agent. “You can’t just throw any table scraps at them.”

Wilton Manors is giving Griggs and other supporters time to raise money and relocate the rabbits rather than exterminate them, even though the city commission voted in April to do just that after receiving an $8,000 estimate from a trapping company.

The vote came after some residents complained the lionheads dig holes, chew outdoor wiring, and leave droppings on sidewalks and driveways. City commissioners also feared the rabbits could spread into neighboring communities and cities; and become a traffic hazard, if they ventured onto major streets.

“The safety of this rabbit population is of utmost importance to the City, and any decision to involve ourselves will be certain to see these rabbits placed into the hands of people with a passion to provide the necessary care and love for these rabbits,” Police Chief Gary Blocker said in a statement.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which often culls invasive animals, has told the city it will not intercede. The rabbits pose no immediate threat to wildlife.

Lionhead rabbits aren’t the only invasive species causing headaches or worse for Floridians. Burmese pythons and lionfish are killing off native species. Giant African snails eat stucco off homes and carry human disease. Iguanas destroy gardens. Like the Wilton Manors lionhead rabbits, those populations all started when people illegally turned them loose.

But unlike those species, Florida’s environment is not friendly to lionheads. Instead of the 7 to 9 years they live when properly housed, their lives outdoors are nasty, brutal, and shortened.

The lionheads’ heavy coat makes them overheat during Florida summers and their lack of fear makes them susceptible to predators. Munching on lawns is not a healthy diet. Their illnesses go untreated. They need owners.

“Domesticated (rabbits) released into the environment are not equipped to thrive on their own,” said Eric Stewart, executive director of the American Rabbit Breeders Association. He said the breeder who released them should be prosecuted, a path the city has not pursued.

The Wilton Manors colony survives and grows only because lionheads breed, like the rabbits they are, with females birthing litters of two-to-six offspring every month, starting when they are about three months old.

On a recent morning in Jenada Isles, clutches of between two to ten bunnies dotted the streets and lawns, the bravest hopping up to residents and visitors in search of treats.

A large group of rabbits gathered on the driveway of Gator Carter, who puts out food for them. He said the lionheads bring the neighborhood joy, and his two young grandchildren love giving them carrots.

“People drive by, stop, love ’em, feed ’em,” Carter said. “They don’t bother me. We have a couple Airbnbs on the island here and the people (guests) are just amazed that the rabbits come right up to them.”

But Jon King said he wants the rabbits gone soon. They dig in his yard and he spent $200 repairing his outdoor lights after they damaged the wiring. He bought rabbit repellent, but that didn’t work, and his little dog doesn’t scare them: “He’s their best friend.”

“Every morning, I get up and first thing I do is cover up the holes and chase them out of the backyard. I like them; I just wish they would go somewhere else,” King said. “Rescue would be great.”

FResearch contact: @HuffPost


Supreme Court rejects radical independent state legislature theory

June 28, 2023

On Tuesday, June 27, the Supreme Court rejected the radical argument brought forward in the controversial case of Moore v. Harper that state legislatures have the sole power to draw congressional district maps and set election law, reports HuffPost.

The independent state legislature theory that Republicans in the North Carolina legislature wanted the court to adopt claims that the U.S. Constitution vests power to set the “time, place, and manner” of federal elections to state legislatures, alone. This would give state courts no ability to rule on gerrymandered maps or other election laws that may run afoul of their respective state constitution. State legislatures—themselves, often gerrymandered to give one party majority control—would then have free rein to draw congressional maps and set election laws without judicial checks and balances.

The court rejected this theory in a 6-3 decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts by affirming the role that judicial review by state courts still plays in judging district maps drawn and election laws passed by state legislatures. Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ketanji Brown Jackson joined Roberts’ opinion. Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch dissented.

“We are asked to decide whether the Elections Clause carves out an exception to this basic principle. We hold that it does not,” Roberts wrote. “The Elections Clause does not insulate state legislatures from the ordinary exercise of state judicial review.”

The heart of the case centered on the Elections Clause of Article I of the U.S. Constitution. That clause states that “the Legislature” of each state has the power to set the “time, place, and manner” of federal elections within its own boundaries. Proponents of the independent state legislature theory argued that “the Legislature” should be properly defined to mean the state legislature alone.

The court rejected this argument and affirmed that “the Legislature” included the whole body of state government, including the courts and the governor.

In doing so, Roberts pointed to three court precedents that upheld the ability of governors to veto congressional district maps, citizens to reject congressional redistricting by ballot initiative, and citizens to pass a ballot initiative to remove the legislature from the redistricting process.

“In sum, our precedents have long rejected the view that legislative action under the Elections Clause is purely federal in character, governed only by restraints found in the Federal Constitution,” Roberts wrote.

While the court rejected the most extreme version of the independent state legislature theory as put forward by North Carolina Republicans, Roberts still held that there are limits on how state courts interpret election law.

“As in other areas where the exercise of federal authority or the vindication of federal rights implicates questions of state law, we have an obligation to ensure that state court interpretations of that law do not evade federal law,” Roberts wrote. But Roberts did not provide any detail on what test the court might use to review state court decisions in future election cases.

“The questions presented in this area are complex and context specific,” Roberts wrote. “We hold only that state courts may not transgress the ordinary bounds of judicial review such that they arrogate to themselves the power vested in state legislatures to regulate federal elections.”

While the issue of the radical version of the independent state legislature theory is now settled, the court is likely to see an increase in cases challenging the merits of individual state court election law decisions.

Liberals and conservatives—from former Attorney General Eric Holder and Democratic Party lawyer Marc Elias to retired federal judge Michael Luttig and Federalist Society co-founder Steven Calabresi—opposed the adoption of the theory. They argued that if the court adopted the theory it could lead to a subversion of democracy and the enshrinement of minority rule.

Opponents of the theory cheered the court’s decision.

“This ruling is a resounding rejection of the far-right theory that has been peddled by election deniers and extremists seeking to undermine our democracy,” former President Barack Obama said in a statement. “And it makes clear that courts can continue defending voters’ rights—in North Carolina and in every state.”

The theory was at the heart of former President Donald Trump’s effort to overturn his loss in the 2020 election and led directly to the January 6 insurrection. Trump turned to the independent state legislature theory in arguing that state legislatures could submit competing slates of electoral votes in favor of him to Congress ahead of the January 6 counting of the votes. When no legislature did this, Trump and his lawyer John Eastman got GOP electors to submit fake slates in their bid to get then-Vice President Mike Pence to declare the result in key states contested and not count their votes.

Moore v. Harper dealt only with congressional elections and did not directly raise the possibility of putting the submission of Electoral College votes solely in the hands of state legislatures. But had it succeeded, it would have provided greater rhetorical heft to future efforts by presidential candidates who lie, claim election fraud and attempt to steal elections.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Steve Bannon reportedly subpoenaed in January 6 grand jury probe

June 9, 2023

Steve Bannon, a longtime supporter and ex-adviser to former President Donald Trump, was subpoenaed in Washington, D.C., by a federal grand jury in an investigation of the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, several news outlets reported on Wednesday, June 7, HuffPost said.

The subpoena, which was first reported by NBC News, is the latest update in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Trump’s actions following his loss of the 2020 election, including the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Sources told NBC that the subpoena was sent out in late May, along with calls for documents and testimony. CNN later confirmed that timeline.

Bannon previously was called on to appear before the House select committee that investigated the January 6 attack, but refused to cooperate with the congressional subpoena. He was found guilty of contempt of Congress in July 2022, a decision he then appealed.

While Bannon’s sentencing for contempt of Congress is pending, the former Trump campaign official and adviser is also set to go on trial in May 2024 on criminal charges for a separate case related to his involvement in a campaign to solicit funds for Trump’s southern border wall.

The January 6 probe is merely one of several investigations involving Trump—including one surrounding his mishandling of classified documents at his residence in Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. Last week, federal prosecutors reportedly told Trump’s lawyers that the former president is the target of a criminal investigation surrounding the Mar-a-Lago case.

Both the Mar-a-Lago and January 6 investigations are being directed by Smith, but the grand juries for the two cases are separate.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Billionaire Sackler family to get immunity in $6 billion opioid settlement

June 1, 2023

The billionaire family that owns Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, will receive immunity from all current and future civil claims over the company’s role in the opioid crisis as part of a deal approved by a federal appeals court on Tuesday, May 30, reports HuffPost.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit cleared the way for a settlement that would see the Sackler family pay up to $6 billion from its massive fortune derived from the painkiller business. Purdue Pharma has faced years of criticism that it  elped fuel the opioid crisis in America—aggressively marketing OxyContin while misleading the public about the highly addictive pills.

The company filed for bankruptcy in 2019 amid a crush of lawsuits, but the massive settlement had been held up after a judge said in 2021 that the Sacklers, who didn’t file for bankruptcy themselves, couldn’t be protected from liability.

States, local governments and those affected by the spread of opioids had grown frustrated after waiting years to see money disbursed to communities to help treat addiction and fund prevention programs, while the crisis has only grown, now fueled by a surge in fentanyl use.

Tuesday’s decision could finally resolve those cases, despite initial frustration surrounding the immunity deal.

Under the plan, Purdue will be dissolved and restructured into a new entity known as Knoa Pharma. The company will be overseen by a public board and will manufacture medications for addiction treatment, as well as OxyContin, with the profits used to fund programs that prevent and treat addiction itself. Those profits could total in the hundreds of millions of dollars over time.

About $750 million from the settlement will go to families and individuals affected by the opioid crisis. Payments are expected to range from about $3,500 to $48,000.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong accused the Sacklers of “cravenly” hiding behind the country’s bankruptcy code on Tuesday. He added that, although the state was frustrated with the immunity protections, the settlement will ultimately give “direct relief to families of victims and survivors of addiction.”

“There’ll never be enough justice to match the depths of pain and suffering the Sackler family caused,” Tong said in a statement. “But we recognized that we had pushed this as far as we could, and that it was necessary to get communities, victims and their families the resolution and billions of dollars funding desperately needed to save lives and fight the opioid epidemic.”

The settlement could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but that outcome is unlikely as almost all parties have signed on to the deal. The protections for the Sacklers do not extend to any criminal prosecutions that could arise in the future.

The families of the two brothers who founded Purdue said Tuesday they were pleased with the decision and “look forward to it taking effect as soon as possible.”

“The Sackler families believe the long-awaited implementation of this resolution is critical to providing substantial resources for people and communities in need,” the statement said.

Research contact: @HuffPost