Category Archives: Crime

House Intelligence Committee members refute chairman Nunes

It turns out that Rep. Devin Nunes’ breathless news conference a couple of weeks ago was much ado about nothing, a dog and pony show designed to create a grand distraction for the Trump administration after a very bad day of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that he chairs.

Now that members of his committee and its staff have had a chance to review allegedly the same documents that White House sources shared with Nunes, their assessment is that there is nothing to see here.

CNN reports CNN Exclusive: Classified docs contradict Nunes surveillance claims, GOP and Dem sources say:

After a review of the same intelligence reports brought to light by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers and aides have so far found no evidence that Obama administration officials did anything unusual or illegal, multiple sources in both parties tell CNN.

Their private assessment contradicts President Donald Trump’s allegations that former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice broke the law by requesting the “unmasking” of US individuals’ identities. Trump had claimed the matter was a “massive story.”

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FBI is sweeping up Russian hackers in a global dragnet

A Russian hacker arrested in Spain this past weekend is the latest suspect swept up in a global dragnet that U.S. officials hope will yield intelligence on Russian government interference in November’s presidential election. Russian Hacker Busted in Spain Latest in Global U.S. Roundup:

At least six Russians have been arrested in Europe on international warrants over the past several months, according to McClatchy Newspapers. The most recent arrest was Friday in Barcelona, where a 32-year-old Russian computer programmer was nabbed.

Pyotr Levashov, 32, was arrested Friday. A tweet from the Spanish National Police said that “In cooperation with the FBI, one of the most wanted cybercriminals has been detained in Barcelona. He is accused of scamming and data theft.” The U.S. has charged that Levashov is spam kingpin Peter Severa, who is closely associated with Russia’s most active cyber criminals.

According to Russian television, quoting Levashov’s wife, armed police stormed into their apartment in Barcelona and quizzed her husband for two hours. Later in a phone conversation from a Spanish jail, Maria Levashov said her husband told her the arrest was “linked to Trump’s election win.”

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Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III visits Nogales, controversy ensues

Charles Pierce at Esquire covers this story in the way only he can, so let him tell this story. This Is What America Means to Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III:

We’re going to have to make a semi-regular daily feature on the doings of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, presently the Attorney General and the only man in America who thinks Birth of a Nation was a documentary.

On Tuesday, he visited the Arizona-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona, with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and, by way of encouraging the law-enforcement types gathered there, according to Tiger Beat On The Potomac, these were his prepared remarks:

“Depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete attacks and beheadings,” he said. “It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth.”

Nobody I know is in favor of depravity and violence—at least outside the studios of Fox News, anyway—nor is anyone I know in favor of machete attacks and/or beheadings, although some of our staunch allies elsewhere are rather high on the latter. But when you’ve got the attorney general of the United States planning to refer to other human beings, no matter how criminal they are, as “filth,” you’ve got the Department of Justice descending into the status of a Breitbart comment thread, and that is never good for anyone. When it came time for the speech, Sessions ultimately did not say “filth” out loud, but the Department of Justice doubled down on the word in a statement:

The Department of Justice declined to comment on the departure from prepared remarks, but said:

“As the Attorney General said in his statement, we must take a stand against filth like MS-13 and the cartels that turn cities and suburbs into warzones, that rape and kill innocent people, and that profit by trafficking in drugs and people. It is unfortunate that there are misinformed people that think that we need to treat such violent criminals as if they deserve anything but the worse kind of condemnation.”

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Federal District Court for Texas again strikes down Texas voter ID law for intentional racial discrimination

Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, on remand from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, has again ruled (.pdf) that the voter identification law the Texas Legislature passed in 2011 was enacted with the intent to discriminate against black and Hispanic voters. Federal Judge Says Texas Voter ID Law Intentionally Discriminates:

In a long-running case over the legality of one of the toughest voter ID laws in the country, the judge found that the law violated the federal Voting Rights Act.

Judge Gonzales Ramos had made a similar ruling in 2014, but after Texas appealed her decision, a federal appellate court instructed her to review the issue once more.

The appeals court — the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans — found that Judge Ramos had relied too heavily on Texas’ history of discriminatory voting measures and other evidence it labeled “infirm” and asked her to reweigh the question of discriminatory intent.

In her ruling on Monday, Judge Ramos wrote that the evidence cited by the Fifth Circuit “did not tip the scales” in favor of the state.

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Dirty deeds done dirt cheap: GOP kills Senate filibuster rule for SCOTUS justices

Authoritarian Tea-Publicans have gone “nuclear” and blown up the Senate filibuster rules. The New York Times reports, Senate Republicans Deploy ‘Nuclear Option’ to Clear Path for Gorsuch:

Senate Republicans changed longstanding rules on Thursday to clear the way for the confirmation of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to serve on the Supreme Court, bypassing a precedent-breaking Democratic filibuster by allowing the nomination to go forward on a simple majority vote.

Lawmakers convened late Thursday morning to decide whether to end debate and advance to a final vote on Judge Gorsuch. Republicans needed 60 votes — at least eight Democrats and independents joining the 52-seat majority — to end debate on the nomination and proceed to a final vote.

Only a handful of Democrats defected, and the vote failed, 55-45, leaving Republicans to choose between allowing the president’s nominee to fail or bulldozing long-held Senate practice.

[The chamber then voted] on a party-line vote, with all 52 Republicans voting to overrule Senate precedent and all 48 Democrats and liberal-leaning independents voting to keep it.

The Senate then voted 55-45 to cut off debate — four votes more than needed under the new rules — and move to a final vote on Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation Friday evening, with a simple majority needed for approval.

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Senator Jeff Merkley holds a talk-a-thon to protest Judge Gorsuch

Ahead of Thursday’s farcical vote to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to a stolen Supreme Court seat, for which Judge Gorsuch will forever be tainted by illegitimacy, Sen. Jeff Merkley held the Senate floor for more than 15 hours to protest Judge Gorsuch:

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., took to the Senate floor a few minutes before 7 p.m. Tuesday night to protest President Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, vowing to speak “as long as I’m able.”

He did so for more than 15 hours, yielding the floor shortly after 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Merkley mounted his demonstration in response to Republicans who refused to consider former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, following the February 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

“The majority team in this chamber decided to steal a Supreme Court seat,” he said. “Such a theft has never, ever happened in the history of our nation.”

Republicans argued that neither party should fill a Supreme Court vacancy that opened up during an election year.

Barbara A. Perry, the Miller Professor of Ethics and Institutions and director of presidential studies at U-Va.’s Miller Center: One-third of all U.S. presidents appointed a Supreme Court justice in an election year. Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog, Supreme Court vacancies in presidential election years: There is no “practice of leaving a seat open on the Supreme Court until after the election.”

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