Category Archives: LAW

Trump said an immigration program lets countries pick their 'worst of the worst' and 'put 'em in a bin' — that's not what happens

donald trump diversity visa lottery

  • President Donald Trump mischaracterized a popular US immigration program on Friday, accusing countries of sending “their worst people” and putting them “in a bin.”
  • Trump was referring to the diversity visa lottery, which allots roughly 50,000 visas to eligible applicants from around the world each year.
  • A suspected terrorist accused of killing eight people in New York City last month entered the US through the program in 2010.

President Donald Trump assailed a popular US immigration program during his speech to the FBI academy on Friday, calling on Congress to eliminate the diversity visa lottery program that a suspected terrorist used to enter the United States years ago.

“They have a lottery. You pick people. You think the countries are giving us their best people?” Trump said, to laughter from the audience. “No. What kind of a system is that?”

“They give us their worst people, they put ’em in a bin,” Trump continued, making a lifting gesture. “But in his hand when he’s picking these people, it’s really the worst of the worst. ‘Congratulations, you’re going to the United States.’ What a system.”

The program has faced increased scrutiny from lawmakers after a truck attack in New York City killed eight people in October. The suspected perpetrator, 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov, was an Uzbeki national who entered the US in 2010 after winning the diversity visa lottery.

Trump’s description of the lottery, however, omitted or mischaracterized several significant details about the nature of the program. For instance, countries do not send the US “their worst people” — foreign nationals apply for the visas at their own discretion and pay for their own $330 entry fees.

Furthermore, the program maintains strict eligibility requirements that bar those who lack certain education- or work-related qualifications. Applicants must have either a high school education or two years of qualifying work experience to be eligible to apply.

Beyond that, lottery winners undergo the standard interviews, security screening, and vetting applied to immigrants, and can be denied a visa if their backgrounds raise red flags to US immigration officials. In Saipov’s case, for instance, authorities believe he was not radicalized at the time of his application — he became so years after entering the US.

The diversity visa program allots roughly 50,000 visas annually to immigrants from countries with “historically low rates of immigration to the United States,” according to the State Department.

Millions of people across the world enter the lottery each year, and very few are selected. In 2015, the most recent year for which agency data is readily available, 50,000 visas were made available to more than 9 million qualified entries.

The diversity visa previously came under fire from certain Republican lawmakers earlier this year, when Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue reintroduced their RAISE Act, intended to slash legal immigration to the US by half over the next decade. But the act, which would eliminate the lottery, has little support from the majority of Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

SEE ALSO: Trump is assailing the diversity visa lottery after the NYC terror attack — here’s what it is

DON’T MISS: Trump just unveiled a new plan to slash legal immigration

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NOW WATCH: Fox News’ Tucker Carlson — a registered Democrat — explains why he always votes for the most corrupt mayoral candidate

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Rupert Murdoch calls allegations of sexual misconduct at Fox News 'largely political'

Rupert Murdoch

  • Rupert Murdoch called the series of sexual harassment allegations made against men at Fox News “largely political” in a recent interview.
  • Several prominent Fox News employees were ousted in recent years over sexual misconduct allegations, including former CEO Roger Ailes, and hosts Bill O’Reilly and Eric Bolling.

 

In an interview about the Disney-Fox deal with Sky News on Thursday, media mogul Rupert Murdoch called the series of sexual harassment allegations at Fox News in recent years “largely political.”

Several high-profile men at Fox News were ousted in the past two years after sexual misconduct allegations, including former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, and hosts Bill O’Reilly and Eric Bolling.

“That’s all nonsense,” Murdoch said, when asked whether sexual harassment allegations had harmed Fox News. “There was a problem with our chief executive, sort of, over the years, outside incidents. Soon as we investigated it, it was out of the place in hours. Well, three or four days. And there’s been nothing else since then.”

“But that was largely political, because we’re conservative,” Murdoch continued. “Now, of course, all the liberals are going down the drain. NBC is in deep trouble. CBS, their stars.”

Murdoch, who currently is executive co-chairman of 21st Century Fox, did not go into further detail on NBC and CBS. For context, NBC fired “Today” host Matt Lauer in November after a series of sexual misconduct allegations were made against him; CBS fired Charlie Rose in November over sexual misconduct allegations. 

Murdoch’s comments on sexual misconduct at Fox News addressed only the allegations Ailes faced. He neglected to mention that O’Reilly and Bolling were also ousted over alleged sexual misconduct.

Watch the full interview over at Sky News.

SEE ALSO: Rupert Murdoch laid out his vision of TV’s future after the Disney-Fox deal, and it raises a lot of questions

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NOW WATCH: Here’s how Jay-Z and Beyoncé spend their $1.16 billion

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The NYC subway bombing suspect made his first court appearance from his hospital bed

akayed ullah 2x1

  • Akayed Ullah, the New York City subway bombing suspect, appeared in court Wednesday via video from his hospital bed.
  • Federal prosecutors charged Ullah on Tuesday with five counts, including providing support to a terrorist organization and using a weapon of mass destruction.

Akayed Ullah, the man accused of detonating a makeshift bomb in a busy underground passageway in New York City on Monday, made his first court appearance on Wednesday via video as he lay in his hospital bed.

Ullah, a 27-year-old Brooklyn resident originally from Bangladesh, was presented with the charges laid by federal prosecutors on Tuesday, which include supporting a terrorist organization, using a weapon of mass destruction, bombing a place of public use, destroying property by means of fire or explosives, and using a destructive device during a violent crime.

Three of the counts carry a maximum sentence of life in prison upon conviction. Prosecutors on Wednesday asked that Ullah continue to be detained without bail, and his public defender did not challenge the request, according to court documents.

Ullah remains hospitalized due to serious burns from the pipe bomb that was strapped to his chest when it partially detonated. During his appearance, he was covered to the neck in a white blanket, and remained mostly expressionless, according to a Reuters reporter who was there. The Manhattan federal court doesn’t allow cameras inside the courtroom.

Magistrate Judge Katharine Parker told him that he had a right to an attorney and did not have to make any statements. His next court appearance is set for January 13.

The alleged attack occurred early Monday morning in a narrow passageway connecting the Times Square subway station and Port Authority bus terminal in Manhattan. The explosion injured just three people in addition to Ullah, who was found lying on the ground at the scene and arrested.

Ullah told investigators in an interview that he constructed the bomb and carried out the attack on behalf of the terrorist group ISIS, according to a criminal complaint released Tuesday.

akayed ullah nyc bombing screenshotAuthorities said Ullah posted several statements to Facebook shortly before the attack, including a taunt to President Donald Trump saying, “Trump you failed to protect your nation.”

Another post expressed a message Ullah “believed would be understood by members and supporters of ISIS to convey that Ullah carried out the attack in the name of ISIS,” according to the complaint.

In a search of Ullah’s apartment, authorities also found bomb-making materials consistent with those of the pipe bomb found at the scene of Monday’s explosion, and a Bangladeshi passport that contained the handwritten message “O AMERICA, DIE IN YOUR RAGE,” the complaint said.

Investigators said they believe Ullah was first radicalized around 2014 and began conducting internet research on how to build improvised explosive devices roughly a year ago.

The complaint said Ullah viewed pro-ISIS materials online and watched a video instructing supporters to carry out attacks in their homeland if they were unable to travel overseas to join the terrorist group.

The complaint accuses Ullah of carrying out the attack “to terrorize as many people as possible,” alleging that he chose to attack on a Monday with the hope that more people would be present since it was a workday.

The pipe bomb used in the attack was filled with metal screws and attached to Ullah’s body using zip ties, with a homemade detonator that included Christmas-tree lights, according to the complaint.

SEE ALSO: Conservatives are up in arms about ‘chain migration’, how they say the NYC bombing suspect entered the US — here’s how it works

DON’T MISS: The New York bombing suspect wrote ‘Trump, you failed to protect your nation’ on Facebook right before the attack, feds say

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NOW WATCH: Vladimir Putin could secretly be one of the richest men in the world — an investigative reporter who spent 4 years in Russia explains

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A Roy Moore campaign spokesman appeared to be speechless when a CNN host said elected officials don't have to be sworn in on the Christian Bible

Screen Shot 2017 12 12 at 2.46.07 PM

  • A campaign spokesman for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore appeared on CNN’s “The Lead” for an interview with Jake Tapper on Tuesday.
  • He seemed to suggest that members of Congress would have had to swear on the Holy Bible and appeared speechless when Tapper corrected him.

As the final hours of Alabama’s special election came to a close, Ted Crockett, Republican candidate Roy Moore’s campaign spokesman, appeared on CNN’s “The Lead” for an interview with Jake Tapper on Tuesday.

Tapper questioned Crockett on several of Moore’s controversial statements, including why he believed Muslims would be ineligible to serve in Congress — a topic on which Moore opined in 2006, after Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota became the first Muslim member of Congress and used Thomas Jefferson’s Quran for his swearing-in ceremony.

“Because you have to swear on the the Bible,” Crockett said. “I had to do it, I’m an elected official.”

“You have to swear on a Bible to be an elected official in the [US],” Crockett continued. “He alleges that a Muslim cannot do that ethically, swearing on a Bible.”

Tapper responded: “You don’t actually have to swear on a Christian Bible. You can swear on anything, really. I don’t know if you knew that. You can swear on a Jewish Bible.”

“Oh no, I swore on the Bible, Crockett said. “I’ve done it three times, Jake.”

Tapper replied: “I’m sure you have, I’m sure you’ve picked a Bible. But the law is not that you have to swear on a Christian Bible. That is not the law.”

After Tapper’s last comment, Crockett did not respond.

Tapper appeared to nudge the interview forward: “You don’t know that?”

“I know that Donald Trump did it when we made him President,” Crockett finally said.

Tapper replied: “Because he’s Christian and he picked it. That’s what he wanted to swear in on.”

Several US presidents have been sworn in on other sacred texts for their respective ceremonies. For instance, President John Quincy Adams is assumed to have placed his hand on the Constitution.

“Some might care less about making the oath more effective, and more about using the oath to reinforce traditional American values, in which they include respect for the Bible … over other holy books,” UCLA Law professor Eugene Volokh wrote in an op-ed in 2006, amid the backlash from Ellison’s decision.

“Yet this would literally violate the Constitution’s provision that ‘no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States,'” Volokh continued. “For the devout, taking an oath upon a religious book is a religious act. Requiring the performance of a religious act using the holy book of a particular religion is a religious test. “

Watch the clip below:

SEE ALSO: Veterans are unloading on Roy Moore’s comments about military service

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NOW WATCH: A North Korean defector tells us what life was like under a dictatorship

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'He held onto my hand, and he kept kissing me': 3 women accusing Trump of sexual harassment speak out in harrowing interview

Rachel Crooks

  • Jessica Leeds, Rachel Crooks, and Samantha Holvey recounted their allegations of sexual misconduct against President Donald Trump in an interview on NBC News’ “Megyn Kelly Today” on Monday.
  • “All of a sudden he was all over me, kissing and groping,” Leeds said.
  • Crooks said Trump held her hand and kissed her on the mouth when she was working as a receptionist at Trump Tower in Manhattan in 2005.
  • On Sunday, Nikki Haley, the UN ambassador who is one of the highest-ranking women in the Trump administration, said the president’s accusers “should be heard.”
  • The White House denied the accusations on Monday, saying in part, “The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes, and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them.”

The White House lashed out Monday at the women who have accused President Donald Trump of sexual harassment after three of them recounted their accusations during a television interview.

Jessica Leeds, Rachel Crooks, and Samantha Holvey, who initially went public with their accusations last year, detailed them on NBC News’ “Megyn Kelly Today” on Monday.

“We are private citizens, and for us to put ourselves out there to try and show America who this man is and especially how he views women, and for them to say, ‘Nah, we don’t care’ — it hurt,” Holvey said. “Now it’s just like, all right, let’s try round two. The environment’s different. Let’s try again.”

The White House denied the accusations in a statement.

SEE ALSO: Trump could be forced to testify on sexual-harassment allegations — and if he lies he could be impeached

“These false claims, totally disputed in most cases by eyewitness accounts, were addressed at length during last year’s campaign, and the American people voiced their judgment by delivering a decisive victory,” the statement read. “The timing and absurdity of these false claims speaks volumes, and the publicity tour that has begun only further confirms the political motives behind them.”

Samantha Holvey

Crooks said that she introduced herself to Trump in 2005 outside an elevator in Trump Tower in Manhattan, where she worked as a receptionist, and that he kissed her on the mouth.

“He held onto my hand, and he kept kissing me,” Crooks said.

“I was shocked, devastated,” she said, adding: “I remember hiding in our boss’ office because no one else was there, it was early in the morning, and I called my sister … I felt horrible.”

Crooks said that at the time she thought she would lose her job if she told her company anything about the interaction.

“I wish I had been stronger then,” she said.

She said the denials from the White House were “laughable” and “crazy.”

“I can’t imagine anyone wanting to come into the spotlight about this,” she said. “The things that happened to us spanned decades, states, all over. What could we possibly — have we colluded to come up with these tales that all sound so eerily similar.”

Holvey, a contestant in the 2006 Miss USA pageant, which Trump owned, described Trump walking through the dressing room while the women were dressed in only robes.

“He lined all of us up,” she said. “I thought this was going to be like a meet-and-greet.”

But Trump was “looking me over like I was just a piece of meat,” Holvey said. “I was just simply there for his pleasure. It left me feeling very gross, very dirty, like, ‘This is not what I signed up for.'”

Jessica Leeds

Leeds said she was on a flight in the late 1970s when Trump, seated next to her, started groping her.

“All of a sudden he was all over me, kissing and groping,” she said. “Nothing was said … It was just this silent groping going on.”

She added, “When his hands started going up my skirt — I’m not a small person — I managed to wiggle out and stand up, grab my purse, and I went to the back of the airplane.”

Leeds said she was at a gala in New York three years later when she ran into Trump, who recognized her and called her a c—.

“He called me the worst name ever,” she said. “It was shocking. It was like a bucket of cold water being thrown over me.” When Kelly pressed Leeds on whether Trump called her a “c—,” Leeds said “yes.”

Trump has denied Leeds’ accusation.

“People that are willing to say, ‘Oh, I was with Donald Trump in 1980, I was sitting with him on an airplane, and he went after me,'” Trump said at a rally in October 2016. “Believe me, she would not be my first choice.”

Leeds said she decided when Trump announced he was running for president that she would go public with her story.

“I really wanted people to know who he is,” she said.

The interview aired the day after Nikki Haley, the US’s ambassador to the United Nations, discussed the president’s accusers.

“They should be heard, and they should be dealt with,” Haley, one of the highest-ranking women in the Trump administration, said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And I think we heard from them prior to the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up.”

Trump could be forced to testify on sexual-harassment accusations

Summer Zervos

Trump is facing a defamation lawsuit brought by Summer Zervos, one of at least 16 women who have accused him of sexual harassment.

Zervos, a former contestant on “The Apprentice,” said last year that Trump “very aggressively” kissed her, groped her breasts, and began “thrusting” his genitals at her in a 2007 meeting at The Beverly Hills Hotel. She says Trump damaged her reputation when he called her a liar.

Trump could be forced to testify on the many sexual-harassment allegations against him as part of the lawsuit. His accusers could also be called to testify.

Crooks said Monday that she had no interest in filing a lawsuit against Trump but that she would support Zervos’ lawsuit.

“I would be happy to support her,” Crooks said. “For me, it’s just about getting the truth out there.”

Trump’s legal team is arguing that the case should be dismissed because a sitting president can’t be sued in state court and that a trial could distract Trump from his official business.

A decision on whether the case can proceed could come before the end of the year.

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NOW WATCH: The woman behind the #MeToo movement on why she would never meet with Trump

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'A weapon of desperation': Trump loyalists are doubling down on a familiar strategy as the Russia probe reaches a boiling point

robert mueller

  • As special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation ramps up, President Donald Trump’s allies have doubled down on claims that Mueller’s team is biased against him.
  • Right-wing figures latched onto new reports last week that two investigators on Mueller’s team expressed views favoring former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
  • FBI veterans refute that characterization, saying agents don’t let political views interfere with their work.
  • One former federal prosecutor called the strategy a “weapon of desperation.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election is ramping up, and with it, President Donald Trump’s allies are reaching new heights to discredit Mueller and the Russia probe.

The special counsel has so far charged four of Trump’s former associates as part of the investigation: former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former adviser and Manafort associate Rick Gates, former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Mueller is also said to be building an obstruction-of-justice case against the president, stemming mainly from Trump’s decision to fire FBI director James Comey in May.

As Mueller’s investigation pushes on, Trump’s loyalists in politics and the media have launched a campaign focused on painting the special counsel and his investigators as biased and partisan, while echoing Trump’s demands that the FBI also investigate Comey and Trump’s former opponent, Hillary Clinton, over their alleged Russia ties.

Conservative talking heads and Trump allies latched onto a string of damaging reports this week about investigators on Mueller’s team.

The Washington Post reported that Peter Strzok, a widely respected FBI counterintelligence veteran who used to work with Mueller on the Russia investigation, was ousted in July because he exchanged texts with a colleague at the FBI that could have shown that he favored Clinton over Trump.

donald trump hillary clinton second debate

Another report said that Strzok was the official who changed Comey’s final characterization of Clinton’s use of a private email server from “grossly negligent” — which would have carried criminal penalties — to “extremely careless.”

Andrew Weissman, a seasoned prosecutor on Mueller’s team who specializes in “flipping” witnesses, was also roped into the controversy when the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch released an email on Tuesday in which Weissman praised former acting attorney general Sally Yates for refusing to defend Trump’s initial travel ban in January. It also emerged this week that Weissman attended Clinton’s election night party at the Jacob Javits Center in New York last year.

Right-wing media lashes out

The revelations drew intense backlash from Trump loyalists.

Sean Hannity, the Fox News opinion commentator who is one of Trump’s staunchest defenders, called Mueller’s team “extremely biased” and “hyper-partisan” on Tuesday. He added that Mueller’s investigation “has put the country now on the brink of becoming a banana republic.”

“Mueller’s stooges are literally doing everything within their power and then some to try and remove President Trump from office,” Hannity told his 3 million viewers.

Sean Hannity

On Hannity’s show Wednesday night, Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett called Mueller’s investigation “illegitimate and corrupt,” and accused the special counsel of using the FBI as a political weapon and acting as “America’s secret police.”

“Secret surveillance, wiretapping, intimidation, harassment and threats,” Jarrett said. “It’s like the old KGB that comes for you in the dark of the night, banging through your door.”

Jarrett added that the FBI had turned into a “shadow government.”

Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham weighed in on the controversy, as well.

“What we are seeing here is a pattern and practice of Mueller hiring known Clinton and Obama political insiders and boosters, supporters, to undo a presidential election. That was the election of Donald Trump,” she told viewers on Tuesday.

The right-leaning Wall Street Journal editorial board published a column on Monday pointing to the Strzok texts as evidence of bias on Mueller’s team. The board said Mueller was too conflicted to “investigate the FBI and should step down in favor of someone more credible.”

Trump, who has frequently referred to the Russia investigation as a politically-motivated “witch hunt,” threw in his two cents on the Strzok revelations last week, retweeting Twitter user Paul Sperry, who said Strzok was “busted” and calling for FBI director Chris Wray to “clean house” at the bureau, which he claimed was “infected” by anti-Trump bias.

“After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters – worst in History!” he tweeted. “But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness.”

‘A weapon of desperation’

FILE PHOTO: Special Counsel Robert Mueller (R) departs after briefing members of the U.S. Senate on his investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 21, 2017.   REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

Former federal prosecutors and FBI agents agreed that investigators should be careful about expressing their personal views while working on politically charged cases, but they pushed back on the claims of bias on Mueller’s team from Trump’s allies.

“I can tell you I never knew what Andrew [Weissman’s] politics were when we were in the same office,” said Patrick Cotter, a former federal prosecutor and longtime white collar defense lawyer who worked with Weissman in the past.

“Politics never comes up between prosecutors in my experience. We have them, of course. We are citizens. But among the feds I worked with, it would have been incredibly inappropriate for anyone to express a political view at work.”

Cotter also added that in the law enforcement field, it was “rather irrelevant” to point to officials’ political affiliation. “If you allege bias by someone carrying out their job, point to facts, not fact-free arguments that all Republicans will be corrupt against Democrats or vice versa,” he told Business Insider.

Joseph Pelcher, a former FBI counterintelligence operative who was stationed in Russia and specialized in organized crime, said that while agents should be careful about openly expressing their opinions, “there is certainly nothing wrong with holding political views as long as it doesn’t interfere with an investigation.”

LaRae Quy, who served as a covert operative at the FBI for 24 years, largely echoed that point.

“It’s very important for agents to appear (and be) apolitical. I know that’s ‘pie in the sky’ since we all have political views,” she told Business Insider. “But the non-partisan aspect of an agent’s job is important.”

That said, “agents are allowed to express their personal opinions … and encouraged to vote and be responsible citizens,” Quy said. “Almost every agent I know votes and upholds the democratic process. They are just smart enough to keep their mouth shut and their minds open.”

Mainstream conservatives jump on the bandwagon

Chuck Grassley

But it looks like the right-wing and far-right talking point has trickled into the comments of more mainstream conservative figures and lawmakers.

“If it’s true that Andrew Weissmann attended Hillary’s victory party, this is getting out of hand,” tweeted Ari Fleischer, who served as White House press secretary under President George W. Bush.

During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, in which Wray was testifying, Republican Rep. Steve Chabot called “the depths of this anti-Trump bias” on the special counsel’s team “absolutely shocking.”

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley said this week that Strzok’s behavior and involvement in the Clinton email investigation and the Trump-Russia probe “raises new concerns of inappropriate political influence in the work of the FBI.”

Grassley also demanded more information about Strzok’s communications with Lisa Page, the FBI lawyer with whom he exchanged texts about Clinton and Trump.

“The question really is, if Mueller was doing such a great job on investigating the Russian collusion, why could he have not found the conflict of interest within their own agency?” asked Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina.

Meadows was likely referring to the 2010 Uranium One deal, which was approved by the Obama administration. After the deal made its way back into headlines in October — shortly before Manafort and Gates were indicted — a growing chorus of conservative legislators and commentators began calling for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a second special counsel to investigate Comey’s and the Clinton Foundation’s roles in the deal’s approval.

Extensive reporting and fact-checking found no signs of wrongdoing when the Obama administration allowed Rosatom, a Russian nuclear energy firm, to acquire Canada-based Uranium One, which had significant mining stakes in the US. The deal required approval from several government agencies, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which Clinton had no control over.

Cotter said Sunday that the emergence of the right wing’s argument that Mueller or his investigators are politically biased against Trump seems to be “strong circumstantial evidence that those who fear what the Mueller investigation may find have no actual fact-based criticisms to make.”

Their “reliance on character attacks,” he said, are “a weapon of desperation.”

SEE ALSO: This timeline paints the clearest picture we have yet of Russia’s meddling in the US election — and how the Trump campaign reacted

DON’T MISS: Trump’s lawyers are laying the groundwork for a brazen new legal strategy in the Russia probe

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NOW WATCH: What it’s like to live in Putin’s Russia, according to an investigative reporter who lived there for 4 years

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California assemblyman resigns after a lobbyist accuses him of masturbating in front of her in a bathroom

Matt Dababneh

  • Two women have publicly alleged sexual misconduct by Democratic Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, who represents California’s 45th district. 
  • One of the women, Pamela Lopez, alleged that Dababneh locked her into a bathroom during a wedding celebration in Las Vegas and masturbated in front of her. 
  • Dababneh denied all allegations, but said he is resigning anyway because he no longer believes he can serve his district effectively. 

Earlier this week, California-based lobbyist Pamela Lopez accused Democratic Assemblyman Matt Dababneh of forcing her into a bathroom, exposing his genitals, and urging her to touch him.

Another woman, Jessica Yas Barker, alleged Dababneh repeatedly commented on her appearance and talked about his sexual exploits while they were colleagues in Sherman’s office from June 2009 to December 2010, the LA Times reported

Dababneh, who represented the California State Assembly’s 45th district and previously worked as a senior aide to Congressman Brad Sherman, has flatly denied the allegations. 

He nevertheless announced on Friday that he would resign, effective on January 1.

“To be absolutely clear, the allegations made against me are not true. However, due to the current environment, I, unfortunately, no longer believe I can serve my district effectively, as I have done for the last four years,” Dababneh said. “I remain inspired by the many brave women across the country who have recently come forward with their stories. I will continue to support this fight as a private citizen in any way that I can.”

He said he will continue to fully participate in an ongoing Assembly investigation into the matter. 

“I am confident that the completed investigation will bring to light and into focus the significant and persuasive evidence of my innocence,” Dababneh said. 

The incident described by Lopez allegedly took place in January 2016 at a wedding celebration at a Las Vegas hotel.

“I felt a large body rush up behind me, use the weight of their body to push me into the restroom and I heard the door slam behind us,” Lopez told KTLA News, a Los Angeles-area local news station. “I spun around and realized I was face to face with Matt and that he had very quickly exposed himself and begun masturbating.” 

Lopez said she did not immediately report the encounter, fearing retribution. She said Friday that Dababneh’s resignation meant little without an apology.

“He’s not attempting to atone for his behavior,” she told the Associated Press.

Read Dababneh’s full resignation letter here.  

SEE ALSO: Sexual harassment isn’t a Hollywood, tech, or media issue — it affects everyone

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NOW WATCH: The 4 best memes from Trump’s trip to Asia

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Former clerks accuse Reagan-appointed appeals court judge of sexual misconduct

Alex Kozinski

  • Several former clerks and externs for a federal court alleged that Judge Alex Kozinski made sexually suggestive comments to them.
  • At least two former clerks alleged that he asked them to watch pornography in his chambers.
  • “I would never intentionally do anything to offend anyone and it is regrettable that a handful have been offended by something I may have said or done,” Kozinski said in a statement.

Six former clerks and externs in the US’s largest federal appeals court alleged that Judge Alex Kozinski, a prominent jurist on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, acted inappropriately towards them, including asking at least two women to watch pornography inside his chambers.

Heidi Bond, a former clerk for Kozinski from 2006 to 2007, said that she was asked to go into Kozinski’s office on multiple occasions, where she was asked if she was aroused by pornographic images that played on his computer, or if she believed the images were photoshopped, according to a Washington Post report Friday.

“I was in a state of emotional shock, and what I really wanted to do was be as small as possible and make as few movements as possible and to say as little as possible to get out,” Bond told the Post.

Bond, who was in her early 30s at the time, said none of the images were related to a case. Her account was confirmed by emails describing the incident that were sent to a friend in 2008.

Konzinski, who was appointed in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan, said in a statement: “I have been a judge for 35 years and during that time have had over 500 employees in my chambers,” Kozinski said in a statement to The Post. “I treat all of my employees as family and work very closely with most of them.”

“I would never intentionally do anything to offend anyone and it is regrettable that a handful have been offended by something I may have said or done,” Kozinski continued.

Alex Kozinski

Emily Murphy, another former clerk on the 9th Circuit in 2012, alleged in the report that as she was talking with other clerks about a particular gym that wasn’t busy, Kozinski approached her and said that she ought to work out naked if the gym wasn’t as occupied.

When people in the group attempted to change the topic, Murphy and others who spoke to The Post, said that Kozinski kept trying to suggest she exercise in the nude.

“It wasn’t just clear that he was imagining me naked, he was trying to invite other people — my professional colleagues — to do so as well,” Murphy said in The Post. “That was what was humiliating about it.”

Another former 9th Circuit Court clerk alleged that she was sitting next to Kozinski during dinner around 5 years ago, when he picked up the tablecloth to see her legs. Kozinski reportedly said to her at the time that he wanted to see if she was “wearing pants because it’s cold out.”

“It made me uncomfortable, and it didn’t seem appropriate,” told The Post.

None of the women interviewed by The Post filed formal complaints at the time, the newspaper said. Kozinski reportedly emphasized the jurisprudence of the confidentiality of chamber discussions to at least one of the clerks, and another former clerk appeared to suggest there was no recourse after discovering her complaint would first go to Kozinski himself, before proceeding.

Kozinski has previously been accused of inappropriate conduct, according to The Los Angeles Times. In 2008, it was reported that he kept an email list to send offensive, “off-color material” jokes to colleagues, clerks, and journalists; and he also reportedly maintained a publicly accessible website containing sexually explicit material.

Kozinski, who was presiding over an obscenity trial at the time, acknowledged that he posted the material and said he did not know the website was accessible to the public, the LA Times reported.

SEE ALSO: Judge presiding over Mike Flynn’s case has been recused

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Donald Trump Jr.'s attorney-client privilege claim probably won't work, legal experts say

Donald Trump Jr.

  • Donald Trump Jr. cited attorney-client privilege as the reason he refused to answer lawmakers’ questions about a meeting he had with his father, President Donald Trump.
  • Trump Jr. said because a lawyer was present during the meeting, their conversation was protected.
  • Legal experts say that’s not how attorney-client privilege works.

Donald Trump Jr. invoked attorney-client privilege during his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, arguing that because lawyers were present during one of his meetings with his father, President Donald Trump, he could refuse to answer lawmakers’ questions about their conversation.

The conversation between Trump Jr. and his father was about a meeting Trump Jr. had at Trump Tower in June 2016 with a Russian lawyerto get “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. spoke with his father shortly after the news about the meeting broke in July 2017, but declined to share details of their discussion with lawmakers.

Lawmakers and legal experts immediately derided Trump Jr.’s invocation of attorney-client privilege, noting on social media and in news outlets that the mere presence of a lawyer does not make a conversation protected.

“A lawyer isn’t a walking cone of silence,” Stanford law professor David Alan Sklansky told Vox. “The attorney-client privilege only protects confidential communications between a lawyer and a client to facilitate the provision of legal services.”

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told The Washington Post he’ll issue a subpoena if Trump Jr.’s lawyers continue to pursue his claim of attorney-client privilege. In the meantime, Schiff said, the lawyers have asked for more time to decide how to handle the claim.

“I don’t believe you can shield communications between individuals merely by having an attorney present,” Schiff told Politico on Wednesday. “That’s not the purpose of attorney-client privilege.”

Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, said on Twitter that he doubted any court would conclude Trump Jr.’s conversation with his father was protected.

“The general rule is that a conversation is *not* privileged if a third person is present for the conversation with an attorney and a client,” Mariotti said. “In this instance, both Trump and Trump Jr. are subjects of the same investigation and any legal advice they received on these topics would potentially implicate the other person.”

In fact, no communication between the Trumps would be protected unless both parties were receiving legal advice from a lawyer that applied to both of them, Duke University law professor Samuel Buell told the Post.

“That seems highly unlikely,” Buell said. “And the mere presence of a lawyer in the room is legally irrelevant. This is likely a frivolous assertion of the privilege.”

SEE ALSO: A ‘serious case of amnesia’: House Intel Democrat says Trump Jr. was ‘pretty non-responsive’ in 8-hour interview

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Federal appeals court grapples with a third version of Trump's travel ban following his administration's early Supreme Court victory

trump travel ban airport

  • Federal appeals court judges in Seattle heard arguments Wednesday on President Donald Trump’s third travel ban.
  • The ban targets people from eight countries, imposing various restrictions on their entry to the United States.
  • The arguments were highly anticipated, after the Supreme Court appeared to hand a small victory to the Trump administration two days earlier.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle heard fiery arguments on Wednesday regarding the latest iteration of President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which the Supreme Court on Monday allowed to fully take effect.

The ban targets roughly 150 million residents of eight nations — six of which are majority-Muslim — and imposes varying restrictions on their entry to the United States.

The case was first brought by the state of Hawaii, which convinced Judge Derrick Watson to block its implementation in October — as he had done with Trump’s previous two travel bans. Wednesday’s arguments were highly anticipated after the Supreme Court on Monday appeared to hand a small victory to the Trump administration in allowing the ban to be enforced pending the two federal appeals.

The Ninth Circuit’s three-judge panel, all of whom were Clinton appointees, appeared at times skeptical of the government’s arguments. They frequently interrupted an attorney representing the Trump administration who argued that the eight countries named in the ban have “inadequate information-sharing practices” or other factors that warranted tailored entry restrictions.

“The president was setting restrictions in a manner that was designed to encourage countries to improve their practices,” Justice Department attorney Hashim Mooppan said, arguing that the third ban was written following an extensive review of data that foreign governments have collected on their travelers.

But the judges questioned Mooppan on whether the Trump administration recognized any limits to its authority to use a federal statute giving the president the power to determine that certain classes of foreigners are detrimental to the interests of the US and can warrant restrictions on their entry.

donald trumpMooppan likened the travel ban to similar measures former presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan had used to restrict travel from Iran during the hostage crisis in 1980 and from Cuba in 1985, respectively.

The judges asked fewer questions, however, of Neal Katyal, the attorney representing the challengers to the ban. He called Trump’s ban “unprecedented and sweeping,” and argued that the president has not made any findings to support his conclusion that the entry of those travelers identified in the ban would harm the US.

The Trump administration’s “argument is, essentially, the president can take an iron wrecking ball to the immigration code, that finely reticulated system that Congress has done, and put the president in the driver’s seat,” Katyal said. “That’s certainly — it may be some constitution, it is not the Constitution of the United States.”

Katyal went on to argue that the government had presented “zero language” or evidence that the current vetting process for travelers to the US was failing.

“The burden is always on the individual visa applicant to come to the US, and if you can’t show that bad folks are coming here, there is no finding,” he said. “As long as the individualized vetting system is working, that’s enough.”

The court will issue an opinion as soon as is practical, Judge Ronald Gould said before adjourning.

“I think the Supreme Court has asked us to do that, so we shall comply,” he said, drawing laughter from the audience.

A separate challenge to the travel ban will be heard in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia on Friday.

SEE ALSO: Dozens of House Republicans are demanding a permanent DACA fix by the end of the year

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