Newsroom

Inauguration Donald Trump

US warned of possible militia plot to attack Capitol

Federal authorities on Wednesday warned that people associated with identified militia groups have been discussing plans for another attack on the US Capitol with the aim of removing Democratic politicians on or about 4 March.

Capitol Riots

D.C. Guard chief says ‘unusual’ restrictions slowed deployment of backup

Maj. Gen. William J. Walker said he did not receive approval to change the D.C. Guard’s mission and send his forces to the Capitol on Jan. 6 until three hours and 19 minutes after he first received an emotional call from the Capitol Police chief requesting urgent backup. Walker described the Pentagon’s restrictions as “unusual,” noting that he did not have such limitations last summer, when the D.C. Guard was tasked with responding to local racial-justice protests after the killing of George Floyd.

Capitol Riots

Police: Militia attack groups want to ‘blow up Capitol’ during Biden speech

Militia groups involved in the 6 January insurrection want to stage another attack around Joe Biden’s upcoming address to Congress, aiming to “blow up” the complex and kill lawmakers, the acting chief of the US Capitol police has warned. In alarming testimony to a House subcommittee, Yogananda Pittman said that threats were circulating that directly targeted the president’s first formal speech to a joint session of Congress. A date for the event has not yet been announced.

Criminal Investigation

Trump's tax returns and related records turned over to Manhattan district attorney

Prosecutors obtained the records on Monday, just hours after the US Supreme Court denied Trump's last-ditch effort to keep the records private, a spokesperson for the district attorney said. The millions of pages of documents, sources say, contain Trump's tax returns spanning from January 2011 to August 2019, as well as financial statements, engagement agreements, documents relating to the preparation and review of tax returns, and work papers and communications related to the tax returns.

Steve Bannon

Investigation gains steam as Manhattan prosecutors subpoena financial records

The Manhattan district attorney's office has subpoenaed financial records related to Steve Bannon's crowd-funding border-wall effort, signaling that its criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump's chief strategist is advancing, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mohammed bin Salman

Jamal Khashoggi assassins used company seized by Saudi crown prince

The two private jets used by a Saudi Arabian assassination squad that killed and allegedly dismembered journalist Jamal Khashoggi were owned by a company that less than a year prior had been seized by the Kingdom's powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, according to recently filed court documents seen by CNN. The documents, filed as part of a Canadian civil lawsuit earlier this year, are labeled "Top Secret" and signed by a Saudi minister who relayed the orders of the crown prince, the young de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.

Criminal Investigation

Manhattan prosecutors 'expand their investigation into Donald Trump

Investigators in Manhattan looking into Donald Trump's tax affairs are becoming increasingly interested in the president's oldest son, according to a report. Donald Trump Jr has been running the Trump Organization alongside his brother Eric, 37, while their father was in the White House.

Horror Crash

Police say Tiger Woods 'lucky to be alive' after car crash in California

Tiger Woods has had surgery for multiple fractures of his right leg after a car accident that a Los Angeles police officer said he was “very fortunate” to have survived. The golfer was “awake and responsive” after the operation to insert a rod into his tibia and stabilize his ankle with pins, according to a statement by his TGR foundation on Tuesday night.

Criminal Investigation

Supreme Court declines to shield Trump's tax returns from Manhattan DA

Donald Trump blasted a Supreme Court ruling on Monday that paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain his tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances. 'This investigation is a continuation of the greatest political Witch Hunt in the history of our Country,' begins the missive, sent out from the Office of Donald J. Trump. The nearly-400 word statement, clearly dictated by Trump himself, brings back a litany of past complaints by the former president: calling the investigation a 'witch hunt,' blasting former special counsel Robert Mueller, and falsely claiming he won the election.

QAnon

Biden helped China create the Texas energy crisis

As if Texans didn’t have enough to deal with between energy blackouts, broken water pipes, food shortages, and their elected officials lying about Cancún holidays in the middle of the crisis, QAnon followers are now actively trying to claim that the winter storm was orchestrated by the Biden administration with the help of China.

Desaster

Millions of Texans struggle for drinking water following deadly winter storm

Millions of Texans are facing water shortages after the deadly winter storm ravaging the state caused pipes to burst and treatment plants to back up, disrupting services and contaminating supplies. Texas officials ordered seven million people – a quarter of the population of the nation’s second-largest state – to boil tap water before drinking it following days of record low temperatures that damaged infrastructure and froze pipes. Almost 600 public water systems in more than 140 counties reported disruptions in service, affecting nearly 12 million people on Wednesday night, a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality spokesperson told the Texas Tribune.

Kayleigh McEnany

Ex-Trump press secretary criticized for stirring up QAnon on Twitter

Former White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has come under fire for a tweet singling out a comment from President Biden about his adoration of children.

Legal

Rudy Giuliani not representing Donald Trump in legal matters

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is not currently representing Donald Trump in any legal matters, according to a spokesman for the former president, Jason Miller. Giuliani had served as Trump’s personal lawyer since 2018 and was one of the main figures representing Trump in his failed legal efforts to challenge the 2020 election results.

Black Lives Matter

Charges dropped against woman who called police on Black birdwatcher

Prosecutors in New York have dropped a charge against Amy Cooper, a woman who achieved widespread notoriety after she confronted a Black man birdwatching in Central Park who asked her to put her dog on a leash. Cooper, who is white, was charged in July last year with filing a false report regarding the confrontation with Christian Cooper, no relation.

Republicans

Trump on acquittal: MAGA 'has just begun'

Former President Trump declared victory on Saturday after Senate Republicans voted to acquit him for a second time, saying that his political movement has “only just begun” and that he would have more to share in the near future. Trump thanked his legal team for “upholding justice and defending truth.”

Criminal Investigation

Georgia prosecutors open criminal investigation into Donald Trump phone call

Prosecutors in Fulton county, Georgia, are investigating Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the southern state’s 2020 presidential election results, according to a letter, in the second criminal investigation faced by the former president. The Fulton county district attorney, Fani Willis, has sent a letter asking state government officials to preserve documents, including those related to the then president’s call to the Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, pressuring him to “find” more votes.

Rudy Giuliani

Associate jailed for a year over fraud at fraud-busting business

A Florida businessman whose fraud-busting business was exposed as a fraud itself was sentenced on Monday to a year and a day in prison, in a case in which prosecutors said Rudy Giuliani was hired as a consultant to attract investors.

BuzzFeed News

Trump’s business sought a stake in Parler before he would join

Talks between members of Trump’s campaign and Parler about Trump’s potential involvement began last summer, and were revisited in November by the Trump Organization after Trump lost the 2020 election to the Democratic nominee and current president, Joe Biden. Documents seen by BuzzFeed News show that Parler offered the Trump Organization a 40% stake in the company. It is unclear as to what extent the former president was involved with the discussions.

ICE

US suspends Haiti deportation flights

The US has suspended deportation flights to Haiti, in the latest sign the Biden administration is attempting to assert control over the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, ICE, according to community activists and congressional sources.

COVID-19

House passes budget resolution, paving way for Biden's relief plan

The House on Friday approved the Senate-amended budget resolution, setting in place the process to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan without the need for GOP support. The bill passed 219-209. Rep. Jared Golden (Maine) was the only Democrat to join every Republican in voting against the measure. Golden cited a preference for passing a standalone vaccine bill immediately instead of embarking on the lengthier reconciliation process. The final version, which passed at 5:30 a.m. following 15 hours of debate and voting, included some strong signals from centrist Democrats that they expect changes to the proposal.

Kenosha Killer

Kenosha prosecutors want to arrest Kyle Rittenhouse for bail violation

Prosecutors are seeking a new arrest warrant for Kyle Rittenhouse – the Illinois teen charged with shooting three people, killing two of them, during a protest over police brutality in Wisconsin – after he apparently violated his bail conditions.

Neo Fascist Organization

Canada designates Proud Boys as terrorist organization

Canada has described the far-right Proud Boys group as a “serious and growing threat” and branded it a terrorist organization alongside Isis and al-Qaida, amid growing concerns over the spread of white supremacist groups in the country. On Wednesday Bill Blair, public safety minister, also announced the federal government would designate the white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups the Atomwaffen Division, the Base and the Russian Imperial Movement as terrorist entities. The federal government also added offshoots of al-Qaida, Isis and Hizbul Mujahedin to its list.

Shortnews

COVID-19

'Neanderthal thinking': Biden lays into states lifting restrictions

President Joe Biden said Wednesday that moves by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and others to lift statewide Covid restrictions showed 'Neanderthal thinking': “I think it’s a big mistake. I hope everyone has realized right now these masks make a difference," Biden said of the decision to lift mask mandates and other Covid mitigation measures. "We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we are able to get vaccines in people’s arms.”

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COVID-19

'Neanderthal thinking': Biden lays into states lifting restrictions

President Joe Biden said Wednesday that moves by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and others to lift statewide Covid restrictions showed 'Neanderthal thinking': “I think it’s a big mistake. I hope everyone has realized right now these masks make a difference," Biden said of the decision to lift mask mandates and other Covid mitigation measures. "We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we are able to get vaccines in people’s arms.”

The president's remark came after both Texas and Mississippi issued executive orders Tuesday to eliminate mask mandates and let all businesses open at 100 percent capacity, flying in the face of health officials who have urged continued Covid restrictions. Biden has signed an executive order requiring mask-wearing on federal property but has little authority to overrule governors and other state and local officials.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, laid into Biden for his comments Wednesday.

"President Biden said allowing Mississippians to decide how to protect themselves is 'neanderthal thinking.' Mississippians don’t need handlers," Reeves wrote in a tweet. "As numbers drop, they can assess their choices and listen to experts. I guess I just think we should trust Americans, not insult them."

In a statement to POLITICO, Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze said Abbott was "clear in telling Texans that COVID hasn’t ended, and that all Texans should follow medical advice and safe practices to continue containing COVID."

"The fact is, Texas now has the tools and knowledge to combat COVID while also allowing Texans and small businesses to make their own decisions," Eze said. "It is clear from the recoveries, the vaccinations, the reduced hospitalizations, and the safe practices that Texans are using, that state mandates are no longer needed. We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans."

Ku Klux Klan

No charges for man who displayed Klan flag next to Black neighbor's home

A prosecutor has declined to file charges against a man who displayed a Ku Klux Klan flag in his window in suburban Detroit, next to the home of a Black family. Such “horrible conduct” doesn’t violate Michigan law, Wayne county prosecutor Kym Worthy said on Tuesday, adding that an ethnic intimidation charge would require physical contact, property damage or threats of such activity.

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Ku Klux Klan

No charges for man who displayed Klan flag next to Black neighbor's home

A prosecutor has declined to file charges against a man who displayed a Ku Klux Klan flag in his window in suburban Detroit, next to the home of a Black family. Such “horrible conduct” doesn’t violate Michigan law, Wayne county prosecutor Kym Worthy said on Tuesday, adding that an ethnic intimidation charge would require physical contact, property damage or threats of such activity.

“I strongly encourage the Michigan legislature to look, revise and create laws to protect citizens from this kind of horrible conduct,” said Worthy, who is Black.

JeDonna Dinges, 57, of Grosse Pointe Park, said the flag was hanging next door in a window directly across from her dining room. The incident occurred two weeks ago.

The flag was removed after police carrying large cloths visited the home and made a switch, the city manager, Nick Sizeland, told the Detroit Free Press last week.

The man’s girlfriend claimed they could not afford a curtain, Sizeland said.

“There is absolutely no question that what happened to Ms Dinges was despicable, traumatizing and completely unacceptable,” Worthy said. “But, very unfortunately in my view, not a crime. The KKK flag, while intending to be visible to Ms Dinges, was hanging inside of her neighbor’s house.”

The Klan was a secretive society organized in the southern US after the civil war to assert white supremacy, often using violence. It flourished well into the 20th century.

Dozens of people turned out for a 21 February march and rally to support Dinges. Before the flag incident, she said she was concerned about her safety after finding a full gas can inside her outdoor recycling bin.

Archdiocese New Orleans

Catholics should avoid Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans urged Catholics against taking a vaccine for COVID-19 manufactured by Johnson & Johnson because the vaccine is developed from stem cells obtained from two abortions. In a statement on the archdiocese's website, the organization argued that Johnson & Johnson's vaccine was "morally compromised."

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Archdiocese New Orleans

Catholics should avoid Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans urged Catholics against taking a vaccine for COVID-19 manufactured by Johnson & Johnson because the vaccine is developed from stem cells obtained from two abortions. In a statement on the archdiocese's website, the organization argued that Johnson & Johnson's vaccine was "morally compromised."

"The archdiocese must instruct Catholics that the latest vaccine from Janssen/Johnson & Johnson is morally compromised as it uses the abortion-derived cell line in development and production of the vaccine as well as the testing," the statement read.

"We advise that if the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine is available, Catholics should choose to receive either of those vaccines rather than to receive the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine because of its extensive use of abortion-derived cell lines," the archdiocese continued.

A request for comment from Johnson & Johnson was not immediately returned.

Catholic groups that oppose abortion have long criticized medical companies that use human cell lines from aborted fetuses, while companies including Johnson & Johnson have defended the process as leading to medical breakthroughs on the disease prevention front.

"As a research tool, human pluripotent stem cells promise to expand our understanding of normal physiologic processes such as cell growth and differentiation, and to enable new insights into disease, which may lead to new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat a wide variety of disorders," reads a statement on the company's website.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine became the third candidate authorized for emergency use in the U.S. earlier this month, joining two others on the market produced by drugmakers Moderna and Pfizer.

COVID-19

Justice Department appeals order blocking federal eviction ban

The Justice Department is appealing a ruling by a U.S. judge in Texas blocking the federal eviction moratorium, the agency announced late Saturday, arguing that the ban remains broadly in effect in the meantime. The court in the Eastern District of Texas blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium on Thursday, ruling that the federal government had overstepped its authority in imposing the sweeping ban. The decision “does not extend beyond the particular plaintiffs in that case, and it does not prohibit the application of the CDC’s eviction moratorium to other parties,” acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton argued. “For other landlords who rent to covered persons, the CDC’s eviction moratorium remains in effect."

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COVID-19

Justice Department appeals order blocking federal eviction ban

The Justice Department is appealing a ruling by a U.S. judge in Texas blocking the federal eviction moratorium, the agency announced late Saturday, arguing that the ban remains broadly in effect in the meantime. The court in the Eastern District of Texas blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s moratorium on Thursday, ruling that the federal government had overstepped its authority in imposing the sweeping ban. The decision “does not extend beyond the particular plaintiffs in that case, and it does not prohibit the application of the CDC’s eviction moratorium to other parties,” acting Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton argued. “For other landlords who rent to covered persons, the CDC’s eviction moratorium remains in effect."

The CDC’s September order banning evictions amid the pandemic cited a 1944 public health law that gives the agency certain powers to prevent communicable diseases from crossing state lines. The Biden administration recently extended the moratorium through June.

“The federal government cannot say that it has ever before invoked its power over interstate commerce to impose a residential eviction moratorium,” U.S. District Judge J. Campbell Barker wrote in the decision.

“It did not do so during the deadly Spanish Flu pandemic,” Campbell said. “Nor did it invoke such a power during the exigencies of the Great Depression. The federal government has not claimed such a power at any point during our Nation’s history until last year.”

Barker, an appointee of President Donald Trump, also said the government’s justification for the ban under the commerce clause of the Constitution was open-ended: “The federal government thus claims authority to suspend residential evictions for any reason, including an agency’s views on ‘fairness,’” he wrote.

The Justice Department filed a notice of appeal Saturday.

Boynton noted that Congress had signed off on the ban in his statement on the appeal.

"The CDC’s eviction moratorium, which Congress extended last December, protects many renters who cannot make their monthly payments due to job loss or health care expenses,” he said. “By preventing people from becoming homeless or having to move into more-crowded housing, the moratorium helps to slow the spread of Covid-19.”

Intel report

Saudi prince approved Khashoggi murder

The Biden administration on Friday released a long-secret intelligence report concluding that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. "We assess that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi," the report reads.

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Intel report

Saudi prince approved Khashoggi murder

The Biden administration on Friday released a long-secret intelligence report concluding that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had approved the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. "We assess that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi," the report reads.

The report was finally released more than a year after it was first completed by the intelligence community under former President Donald Trump and briefed to the relevant congressional committees, officials said on Thursday.
“We’ve made it clear that this administration will not sweep anything under the rug, and that President Biden will follow the law,” a senior administration official said ahead of the report’s release. The official added that the release was “in honor of Jamal and this horrific crime.”

“Our aim going forward is to make sure nothing like this ever happens again,” the official said.