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Texas Judge Threw Out The NRA's Bankruptcy Case, Clearing The Way For New York's Attempts To Dissolve The GroupBy Shabibilicious
A Texas judge threw out the NRA's bankruptcy case, clearing the way for New York's attempts to dissolve the group
A Texas judge threw out the NRA's bankruptcy case, clearing the way for New York's attempts to dissolve the group Kelly McLaughlin,Jacob Shamsian Tue, May 11, 2021, 4:22 PM A Texas judge rejected the NRA's attempt to go bankrupt, siding with New York state prosecutors.
Prosecutors said the bankruptcy filing was an attempt to squirm out of other litigation.
In August, New York's attorney general accused the NRA of corruption and negligent oversight.
A Texas judge threw out the National Rifle Association's bankruptcy filing on Tuesday, saying the case was filed in "bad faith" in an effort to avoid litigation in New York.
Judge Harlin Hale's decision came after New York Attorney General Letitia James and others questioned the legitimacy of the bankruptcy filing. Law360 first reported the ruling.
The NRA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on January 15 after James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the gun-rights organization, alleging that it had abused its legal status as a nonprofit. In a filing in August, New York prosecutors accused the group of corruption and said its longtime CEO, Wayne LaPierre, had "instituted a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement, and negligent oversight."
While reports of financial troubles have dogged the NRA for years, its bankruptcy filings showed it was solvent and had assets worth roughly $50 million more than its debts. The organization tried to restructure in Texas, claiming that New York had a corrupt regulatory environment.
Prosecutors in James' office viewed the bankruptcy filing as an attempt to squirm out of the litigation. Hale sided with those prosecutors, effectively giving a green light to James' office to continue its lawsuit.
"A judge has ruled in our favor and rejected the @NRA's attempt to claim bankruptcy and reorganize in Texas," James said in a tweet on Tuesday. "The @NRA does not get to dictate if and where it will answer for its actions, and our case will continue in New York court. No one is above the law."
In court hearings, attorneys for the NRA have accused James of waging a political campaign against the organization. Closely aligned with Republican politicians, the NRA rallies its members to thwart gun-safety laws typically supported by Democratic politicians. Research has consistently found that strict gun laws reduce gun violence. The NRA's attorneys said that Texas, controlled by Republicans, would offer a regulatory haven for the organization.
The Justice Department stepped into the dispute earlier in May, saying that the "evidentiary record clearly and convincingly establishes" that LaPierre failed to provide proper oversight and manipulated personal expenses to look like business expenses.
Hale's ruling permits the NRA to file for bankruptcy again, but he said he would likely appoint a trustee to oversee the group if it did rather than leave LaPierre in control of the organization's finances.
LaPierre is dealing with several other headaches in addition to the litigation from the New York Attorney General's Office. In October, The Wall Street Journal reported that the IRS had opened a tax-fraud investigation into him. And in April, The Trace and The New Yorker published footage of him struggling to kill an elephant; the NRA said the publication of the video was intended to embarrass him.
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Trump's Election-Fraud Claims Can Be Traced Back To A Texas Businessman Who Spent Years Falsely Asserting That Electronic Voting Machines Manipulated VotesBy Shabibilicious
Trump's election-fraud claims can be traced back to a Texas businessman who spent years falsely asserting that electronic voting machines manipulated votes
Sarah Al-Arshani Mon, May 10, 2021, 2:39 AM President Donald Trump. Evan Vucci/AP Parts of Trump's baseless election-fraud claims started in 2018, The Washington Post reported.
Some of the claims originated with the Texas businessman Russell Ramsland Jr. and his associates.
Trump allies such as Sidney Powell met with associates of Ramsland in 2019.
When former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, he said it was because of voter fraud, citing claims that were initially started years ago by a Texas businessman, The Washington Post reported.
The Post reported that Russell Ramsland Jr. and his associates at Allied Security Operations Group began giving presentations to conservative lawmakers, activists, and donors that said audit logs in voting machines, the mechanisms that document the machine's activity, had indications of manipulation beginning in late 2018.
The allegations about voting systems and fraud made by Ramsland and ASOG were unsubstantiated and widely debunked by data-security experts.
Ramsland, a failed congressional candidate, attempted to find political candidates who had lost elections they believed they'd won to sell them on this idea. But he didn't have much success until associates of Trump latched on to the claims, passing it along to Trump, who accepted and further spread claims that the machines were faulty.
In 2019, Ramsland began briefing GOP lawmakers and officials from the Department of Homeland Security on the idea that US election software was coming from Venezuela, and that there would be efforts to manipulate votes in the 2020 election on a large scale, The Post reported.
While Trump and his associates, including lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, continued to sow doubt about the security of the election, the DHS said there was no evidence of fraud and called it "the most secure in American history."
Powell has used Ramsland's assertions in lawsuits that she filed on behalf of Trump and Giuliani, and has publicly made some of the assertions that started with Ramsland. Powell, The Post reported, was also briefed by ASOG two years before the election.
Powell is now being sued by Dominion Voting Systems for $1.3 billion after she said she had evidence the company "was created to produce altered voting results in Venezuela for Hugo Chavez."
Ultimately, Trump and his associates lost all of the more than 40 lawsuits challenging the 2020 election results.
Ramsland told The Post that ASOG did give Powell and Giuliani research, but said they never spoke with Trump directly.
He added that his company's perspective was "one of many voices" that expressed concerns about election-system vulnerabilities.
Powell, through an attorney, told The Post that she did meet with a Ramsland ally, but did not say whether she spoke with him directly. Giuliani and his attorney did not respond to The Post's request for comment.
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Federal Judge Ordered The DOJ To Release A Memo That Bill Barr Used To Clear Trump Of Obstruction Of Justice, Saying 'It Is Time For The Public To See' ItBy Shabibilicious
A federal judge ordered the DOJ to release a memo that Bill Barr used to clear Trump of obstruction of justice, saying 'it is time for the public to see' it
Sonam Sheth Tue, May 4, 2021, 1:32 PM Former Attorney General William Barr. Drew Angerer/Getty Images A federal judge ordered the DOJ to turn over an internal memo related to the Mueller probe.
Bill Barr cited the memo as the basis for his decision to clear Trump of obstruction of justice.
"It is time for the public to see that [the memo], too," the judge said in Tuesday's ruling.
A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Justice Department to turn over an internal memo that then-Attorney General Bill Barr cited as justification for clearing then-President Donald Trump of obstructing justice.
Barr said at the time that he'd come to his decision "in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other Department lawyers" but did not publicize the OLC's memo. In response, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit to obtain the memo.
In Tuesday's ruling, US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the unreleased OLC memo that Barr used to clear Trump of obstruction actually "contradicts" his claim that the decision to charge the president was "under his purview" because the special counsel Robert Mueller did not "resolve the question of whether the evidence would support a prosecution."
Barr announced the decision to clear Trump in a four-page letter to Congress in March 2019 summarizing Mueller's findings in the FBI's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 US election.
"The letter asserted that the Special Counsel 'did not draw a conclusion - one way or the other - as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction,' and it went on to announce the Attorney General's own opinion that 'the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense,'" Jackson wrote.
However, the OLC's memo "calls into question the accuracy of Attorney General Barr's March 24 representation to Congress," and it "raises serious questions about how the Department of Justice could make this series of representations to a court," the ruling said.
Jackson pointed out that Mueller himself criticized Barr's handling of the public release of the report and his description of the special counsel's conclusions.
On April 18, 2019, Barr "appeared before Congress to deliver the report," Jackson wrote. "He asserted that he and the Deputy Attorney General reached the conclusion he had announced in the March 24 letter 'in consultation with the Office of Legal Counsel and other Department lawyers.'"
"What remains at issue today is a memorandum to the Attorney General dated March 24, 2019, that specifically addresses the subject matter of the letter transmitted to Congress," she added, referring to the OLC memo.
She continued: "It is time for the public to see that, too."
Mueller's findings in the obstruction investigation were widely discussed when his final report was released in April 2019. He laid out 11 potential instances of obstruction by Trump, but declined to make a "traditional prosecutorial judgment."
Barr told reporters Mueller's decision was not influenced by longstanding Justice Department guidelines that state a sitting president cannot be indicted. He said that in fact, Mueller's determination - or lack thereof - was prompted by the inconclusive nature of the evidence.
But in his report, Mueller did not cite the nature, or absence, of evidence as the reason he did not come to a decision on obstruction. He did, however, cite the OLC's 1973 memo saying that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime.
Moreover, the special counsel's team said that "if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state." The team continued: "Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment."
GO RV, then BV
Dominion is accusing Sidney Powell of promoting 'defamatory falsehoods' to attract money and fame
Charles Davis Mon, May 3, 2021, 7:24 PM Sidney Powell participates in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington Jonathan Ernst/Reuters Dominion is accusing attorney Sidney Powell of lying about the company to earn money and sell books.
It made the argument in a court filing on Monday as part of a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit.
Powell's lawyers argued her conspiracy theories were not meant to be taken as statements of fact.
Sidney Powell doesn't think any "reasonable person" who listened to her claims about the 2020 election - and donated to her stated effort to overturn President Joe Biden's victory - would believe what she was saying on television "were truly statements of fact." That is what her attorneys argued last month in an attempt to beat back a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit from the company she accused of rigging the vote.
On Monday, Dominion Voting Systems fired back. In a court filing, it accused the far-right conspiracy theorist of spreading lies about the company and the integrity of US democracy in order to sell books and make money. And it accused her of seeking to evade responsibility by inventing a new standard for libel whereby one could get away with defamation merely by committing it on Fox News.
"After lying about the evidence supporting her claims," Dominion's legal team said, "Powell now asks this court to create unprecedented immunity for attorneys to wage televised disinformation campaigns."
The company, which filed its lawsuit in US federal court in January, is seeking $1.3 billion in damages.
After the November election, Powell, a former federal prosecutor who now sells autographed books and T-shirts on her website, alleged it was the loser of the 2020 election, Donald Trump, who in fact "won by a landslide" (Biden beat the former president by more than 7 million votes).
Her claims were cosigned by the Republican Party and endorsed by the former president, although his campaign later distanced itself from Powell as her outlandish assertions increased their legal vulnerability. (Rudy Giuliani, too, is now being sued by the company for his part in "a viral disinformation campaign.)
Among other things, Powell falsely asserted she had evidence Dominion "was created to produce altered voting results in Venezuela for Hugo Chavez," and that it had been imported to the US to do the same for Democrats. "We're collecting evidence now from various whistleblowers that are aware of substantial sums of money being given to family members of state officials who bought this software," she stated.
To support her claims against Dominion, she filed an affidavit from Ron Watkins, the owner of a conspiracy-theory message board, 8kun, that gained infamy as the home of the "QAnon" hoax.
Powell's attorneys now assert this was all merely the heated rhetoric of a political campaign, not intended to be actionable statements of fact. But Dominion's legal team says that is no defense - and that Powell harmed the company for personal profit, using "defamatory falsehoods to solicit funds … and to garner media attention," which in turn helped her sell "additional copies of her book and drummed up additional potential clients."
If Powell has any evidence to back up her claims, Dominion is inviting her to show them to the court.
"She either has a video of Dominion's founder admitting that he can change a million votes or she does not (she does not)," the company's lawyers state. "Dominion was either created in Venezuela to rig elections or it was not (it was not). Dominion either rigged the 2020 election by weighting, flipping, switching, and trashing votes or it did not (it did not). Dominion either bribed officials or it did not (it did not)."
Dominion's legal filing comes just days after one of its executives reached a settlement with Newsmax, a right-wing media organization that alleged the company's head of security had rigged the election himself. On its cable television network, Newsmax informed its viewers that it in fact had "no evidence" to support the allegation.
But retractions never garner the same amount of attention as an initial, inflammatory claim. A recent CNN poll found that while a large majority of Americans accept Biden's victory as the product of a free and fair election, 70% of Republicans believe his presidency is illegitimate.
GO RV, then BV
The Capitol Riot Defendants May Be Starting To Turn On One Another, Outing Far-Right Extremist LeadersBy Shabibilicious
The Capitol riot defendants may be starting to turn on one another, outing far-right extremist leaders
Cheryl Teh Thu, April 8, 2021, 1:44 AM Rioters clashing with security forces at the US Capitol on January 6. Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images Numerous defendants in January's Capitol riot are said to be turning on far-right groups.
CNN reported Wednesday that at least one defendant agreed to work against the Proud Boys.
Court records indicate that several plea deals with cooperators may be in the works.
The brotherhood of the Proud Boys may be falling apart, as attorneys on the case say some of the Capitol riot defendants have turned or are considering turning on the leaders of the far-right extremist group.
A CNN report on Wednesday quoted an attorney as saying a Capitol riot defendant had agreed to flip against the Proud Boys. In exchange for plea deals, cooperating defendants may have to work with the Department of Justice and prosecutors to build stronger cases against the head honchos of far-right extremist groups.
The extent of any cooperation with the DOJ and prosecutors is unclear, but CNN wrote that this was the strongest indication yet that one of the defendants was willing to work with authorities against the Proud Boys.
It was not the first sign, however, that there might be disloyalty within the ranks of the Proud Boys and other groups.
The Associated Press reported in February that another Proud Boy, Dominic Pezzola, was mulling a plea deal. Prosecutors accused Pezzola of snatching a police officer's riot shield and shattering a window at the Capitol to let rioters in.
There is also a history of Proud Boys members working with law enforcement.
In March, attorneys for the Proud Boys leader Joseph Biggs - who authorities allege was one of the first to clamber through a smashed window to get into the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection - argued that he should not be held in jail pending trial. The lawyers said in a court filing that Biggs had regularly spoken with the FBI in recent months to provide information about protests he was involved in and that these back channels, as well as the information he provided, should keep him out of jail.
Other groups linked to the storming of the Capitol are also seeing instances in which defendants are said to be considering trading information to escape indictment.
Insider reported this week that prosecutors were negotiating a plea deal with Jon Schaffer - a heavy-metal guitarist who was spotted storming the Capitol wearing an Oath Keepers hat, indicating his connection with the paramilitary group.
According to a now-deleted confidential court filing that was erroneously uploaded but seen by BuzzFeed News and Politico, Schaffer was involved in "debrief interviews" with prosecutors.
"Based on these debrief interviews, the parties are currently engaged in good-faith plea negotiations, including discussions about the possibility of entering into a cooperation plea agreement aimed at resolving the matter short of indictment," the filing said.
The criminal-defense attorney Martin Tankleff told CNN that he thought it likely that more cooperators would come forward and turn against the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and other groups facing pressure from law enforcement since the riot.
"Whenever you have a large group of people arrested and in jail, prosecutors will typically observe the group and pressure defendants to flip on one another," Tankleff said. "They're going to start talking. They're going to start sharing information."
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