Crimes and Their Punishments – Through the Ages

Punishments for Crimes through the ages – from the bizarre to outrageous, from the sublime to the ridiculous. We don’t know how lucky we are!

Many of us are apt to complain about sentences handed out by our Courts for crimes these days – too harsh, too lenient. But a quick look at some punishments for crimes through the ages, including in some countries today, we should really consider how much we really have to complain about.

Not only have punishments been truly shocking (and in some instances still are), but even some of the crimes are truly unbelievable.

Many Sydney criminal lawyers would have had their work cut out for them if some of these historical crimes were still on the statute books! Lucky for us that our complaints about the justice systems these days are limited to whether an offender should be given a jail sentence or community service, or whether a 2 year sentence is sufficient or whether 5 would have been better, and so on.

Thank goodness we don’t have to contend with crimes for which the penalty is being tortured to death by some truly unimaginable means. Criminal lawyers in Australia, as in Europe, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and others, these days don’t have to plead for the type of mercy that offenders of times gone by had to. And of course, some of these barbaric practices do still exist today in other parts of the globe, as you can see below.

Some Crimes and Some Punishments You Won’t Believe

Take a look …

Crimes and Their Punishments

Salma Hayek shares harrowing story of Harvey Weinstein's behavior after she rejected him sexually: 'I will kill you, don’t think I can't'

salma hayek

  • Salma Hayek wrote a New York Times op-ed alleging that Harvey Weinstein made inappropriate demands and threats toward her during the making of the 2002 film “Frida.”
  • Hayek wrote that Weinstein threatened to “kill” her and replace her on the film after she rejected his numerous sexual advances and demands. 
  • “Frida,” produced by Weinstein’s Miramax company, would go on to earn six Oscar nominations. 

 

Actress Salma Hayek wrote an op-ed for The New York Times on Wednesday detailing a harrowing account of working with disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein on the 2002 movie “Frida.”

In the op-ed, Hayek wrote about how Weinstein made inappropriate demands and threats toward her as she attempted to get the film, based on the life of the Mexican artist Frida Khalo, produced by Weinstein’s studio, Miramax. 

Hayek wrote that turning down Weinstein’s demands included her saying, “No to me taking a shower with him. No to letting him watch me take a shower. No to letting him give me a massage. No to letting a naked friend of his give me a massage. No to letting him give me oral sex. No to my getting naked with another woman.”

After she rejected his numerous demands, Hayek said that Weinstein, “in an attack of fury,” told her, “I will kill you, don’t think I can’t,” before saying that he would offer the role to another actress. 

salma hayek fridaHayek wrote that she ended up giving into one of Weinstein’s demands, which was that Miramax would make the film if she agreed do a sex scene with another woman that included “full-frontal nudity.”

“In his eyes, I was not an artist,” Hayek wrote. “I wasn’t even a person. I was a thing: not a nobody, but a body.”

The sex scene deeply troubled Hayek, she wrote, describing having to take a tranquilizer to stop “crying and convulsing” as she performed the scene. 

Hayek’s account of Weinstein’s harassment and intimidation tactics falls in line with the multitude of women who have accused Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault.

“When Harvey saw the cut film, he said it was not good enough for a theatrical release and that he would send it straight to video,” Hayek wrote.

That was not the case.

“Frida” would go on to be a commercial success and earn six Oscar nominations for Miramax, including a best actress nod for Hayek’s portrayal of Khalo. 

Weinstein’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Read Hayek’s column for The New York Times.

SEE ALSO: 6 women file proposed class-action lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein, alleging sexual assault cover-ups were racketeering

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Conservatives are up in arms about 'chain migration', how they say the NYC bombing suspect entered the US — here's how it works

akayed ullah 2x1

  • Akayed Ullah, the suspected Manhattan bomber, benefited from “chain migration,” the Trump administration said.
  • Ullah entered through a family-based immigration category that many conservatives and immigration critics want eliminated.
  • Advocates say the program is a proud part of American history, and takes far too long to be considered a threat.

The attempted suicide bombing in New York City on Monday prompted a fresh wave of condemnation for family-sponsored immigration, which allowed the suspected terrorist to legally enter the United States from Bangladesh in 2011.

Authorities say Akayed Ullah, the 27-year-old suspect, strapped a makeshift pipe bomb to his chest and partially detonated it in a passageway in the heart of midtown Manhattan, mildly injuring three and causing thousands of commuters to flee before authorities found him lying on the ground at the scene of the explosion. Federal prosecutors charged Ullah with supporting a terrorist organization and using a weapon of mass destruction.

President Donald Trump, along with scores of conservatives and immigration critics, blamed the attack on what he described as “lax” immigration policies. Some have argued that the attack could have been prevented under the provisions of a proposed bill known as the RAISE Act, which seeks to curb legal immigration to the US by half.

“Today’s terror suspect entered our country through extended-family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House. “America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country … Congress must end chain migration.”

What is chain migration?

Donald TrumpChain migration is a term almost exclusively used by immigration hardliners when referring to the family reunification part of the US immigration system.

It lets US citizens or lawful permanent residents (people with Green Cards) to sponsor close family members to join them in the US.

Prominent groups that advocate for stricter immigration policies — like the Federation for American Immigration Reform and NumbersUSA — have frequently denounced chain migration, describing it as a process that admits “indefinite” numbers of unskilled immigrants based on family connections alone. They say it prompts foreigners to view US immigration as a “right or entitlement.”

But those criticisms ignore the country’s history of immigration, which has always allowed Americans to bring in their relatives, according to Stuart Anderson of the National Foundation for American Policy, a non-partisan think tank.

They’re not gladiators or something. They’re going to have family members.

“The term ‘chain migration’ is a contrived term,” Anderson told Business Insider. “It’s just part of every single immigration category in every country in the world, that when the principal person is sponsored, they’re allowed to bring their spouse and minor child with them. They’re not gladiators or something, they’re human beings. They’re going to have family members.”

Immigration proponents typically describe family-based immigration as essential in helping new immigrants assimilate into US society. The American Immigration Council, for instance, argues that newcomers who can bring family members with them when they immigrate to the US have stronger social and economic support.

“It would almost seem opportunistic to use the case of one person out of the millions of people throughout US history who’ve come in by being sponsored by a family member to try to eliminate a particular category,” Anderson said. “Particularly when this individual, from everything we know, did not present any problems at the time they came into the country but became radicalized in the last few years.”

How chain migration applies to the NYC bomber

port authority times square nyc explosion

Ullah entered the US in 2011 and received permanent residency under an immigration program known as the fourth family-based preference, Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton said on Monday.

This year, most foreigners immigrating to the US under the fourth preference category waited in line for 13 years to come. But wait times can last as long as 23 years, depending on which country the immigrants are originally from.

It’s unclear when exactly Ullah’s family first petitioned for their immigrant visas, but it’s likely they, too, waited in line for years before their 2011 entry. State Department data show that people who are currently being issued immigrant visas for that same fourth preference category have been waiting in line since at least 2004.

The “preference” in this case refers to the four family-based immigration categories, the last of which allows foreigners to apply for immigrant visas if their sibling is a US citizen.

Because those immigrants are allowed to bring their spouses and minor children, which is how Ullah gained entry, the process is often viewed by critics as allowing a “chain” of extended family members to immigrate to the US.

Millions of applicants and years-long backlogs

NYC bombing December 2017

Immigration hardliners’ theory that scores of newly naturalized US citizens are sponsoring endless strings of family members has been roundly criticized by immigration experts.

The US’s visa and green-card backlogs alone ensure that many prospective immigrants face painstakingly long waiting periods before being admitted to the country or given permanent residency — a significant barrier in trying to get more family members to join them.

Family-based immigration is not an immediate process, and it can take years or even decades for immigrant visas to be made available and processed.

This is because the federal government applies strict numeric quotas to most family-based preference categories, resulting in years-long line-ups that eligible immigrants must wait in before their applications are approved.

For instance, the fourth preference category that Ullah’s family waited in currently only allows 65,000 people to enter per year. Yet there’s a backlog of nearly 2.5 million applicants, according to an upcoming NFAP report viewed by Business Insider.

Beyond the issuance of immigrant visas, once an immigrant arrives in the US on a visa, it takes additional time to receive a green card that denotes permanent residency. After that, permanent residents typically have to wait five years before they may apply to become US citizens.

dick durbin lindsey graham dream act daca

The ongoing debate over family-based immigration could signal a bump in the road for any immigration deal between Republicans and Democrats.

The bipartisan Dream Act, reintroduced in Congress in September by Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, includes a pathway to citizenship for young unauthorized immigrants, whose protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will be phased out over the next six months.

Immigration critics have argued that any pathway to citizenship offered to those immigrants would inevitably allow them to sponsor relatives — in some cases that could include their parents who first brought them to the US as children.

SEE ALSO: The New York bombing suspect wrote ‘Trump, you failed to protect your nation’ on Facebook right before the attack, feds say

DON’T MISS: Trump assailed the diversity visa lottery after the NYC truck attack — here’s what that is

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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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'Empire' Ratings Rise Earns Fox A Demo Win, 'Criminal Minds' Matches Low – Deadline

While no longer the blockbuster it was,Empire (1.8/7) proved the doubters wrong last night in its penultimate episode of 2017. With a strong hour full of prison flashbacks, suburban revelations, boozy sibling bonding and a delusional death, what may be making Fox even happier is that the ratings for the Lee Daniels and Danny Strong created drama climbed 13% in the fast affiliates key demo from last week’s series low.

Last night’s Empire result, which could see an adjustment like last week did, plus a steady Star (1.2/4) delivered a Wednesday primetime 18-49 win for the still Murdoch owned net. CBS was tops in viewership with 7.01 million watching Survivor (1.8/7), SEAL Team (1.1/4) and Criminal Minds (0.9/4), but Fox easily won the demo category with a 1.5/6 rating.

Both the vet reality show and the Navy warriors series were even with their November 29 airings while 10 PM’s Criminal Minds slipped a tenth from its last original to match a series low among adults 18-49. Tied with Empire for the highest rated show of the night, Survivor was the most watched show on Wednesday with an audience of 8.93 million.

On the whole, even was kind of the word on Wednesday as Speechless (1.1/4), Designated Survivor (0.7/3), Riverdale (0.5/2), and Dynasty (0.2/1) also matched their results of last week.

Then again, ABC saw Modern Family and The Goldbergs up a tenth from their November 29 shows while American Housewife rose 20%. Starting out with a repeat of it’s a Very Pentatonix Christmas (0.8/3) special, NBC had Law & Order: SVU (1.3/5) and Chicago PD (1.2/5) on. The former was down 13% in the demo and the latter dipped 8% from last week.

And for a bit more math – are you counting the remaining shopping days to Christmas yet?

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Looking for humor in dark story of Eric Conn and his Social Security clients | opinion – The Courier-Journal

Been quite a week here in the Kentucky mountains. The capture of self-proclaimed political refugee (Eric Conn) by a masked Honduran SWAT team while he was utilizing his WiFi at a Pizza Hut in the beach town of La Ceiba, Honduras has produced a wave of hilarity and pure delight in the mountains.

The astonishing variety of social media postings and nonstop chatter has revealed a level of satire that has produced no shortage of laughter. This humorous interlude is in sharp contrast to the gloom that has descended over the mountains. For more than two years the dark clouds caused by Conn and his colorful array of conspirators has stubbornly hung over this poverty-stricken region.

More: Fugitive Kentucky lawyer Eric Conn captured in Honduras after six months on the lam

More: Email to newspaper claiming to be from Eric Conn lists terms of surrender

 Don’t ever remember a story capturing the imagination of so many at such an intense level. John Grisham could not have imagined the bizarre facts. If he had written the story – would be some sort of comedic farce quickly labeled as fiction.

Now that the laughter has died down, some sobering thoughts. About 800 of Conn’s former clients have lost their benefits. They have also lost their health insurance and are receiving ominous letters from the Social Security Administration demanding those who struggled to exist on $800 per month pay back amounts often in excess of $100,000. Had three confirmed suicides. The true number is likely higher. You wouldn’t know these facts by reading the national publicity.

More: Fugitive lawyer Eric Conn was captured at a Pizza Hut in Honduras, FBI says

More: Indictment: Fugitive lawyer Eric Conn had help in escape plot a year before he disappeared

More: Fugitive lawyer Eric Conn, spotted in New Mexico, sentenced in absentia to 12 years

The Social Security Administration envisioned by FDR was designed to be a compassionate agency to alleviate the hardships of poverty. The agency throughout the Conn crisis has been anything but compassionate. Instead, their mission is to punish Conn’s vulnerable and innocent clients for the crime of guilt by association. Conn’s outrageous antics have fueled this inferno of guilt by association.  The ironic and infuriating part of the equation is there never was any true association. Still have yet to meet the first client who met Conn. The masked members of the Honduran SWAT team spent more time with Conn than his former clients.

While it makes enjoyable reading to read about Conn and sells newspapers, there is a more important story that is briefly mentioned.  It’s about the folks left behind. They don’t think any of this is funny.

Ned Pillersdorf is a criminal defense attorney and managing partner with the Prestonburg, Kentucky law firm of Pillersdorf, DeRossett and Lane. 

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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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[WATCH] 'Criminal Minds' Sneak Peek: Why Is the Team Delivering the Profile Early to Conspiracy Theorists? – BuddyTV (blog)

The agents aren’t going to have it easy when it comes to the case and the people who can help them in this episode of Criminal Minds. Two members of a conspiracy group in Roswell, New Mexico die in quick succession, and the group isn’t exactly going to be eager to help the FBI.

Will Reid’s Mom Return in Criminal Minds Season 13?>>>

Watch the promo for “False Flag”:

[embedded content]

Check out a sneak peek of the profile:

[embedded content]

The UnSub is a male, most likely in his 20s based on the two victims so far, though age is the most difficult variable to predict. The profile is a guide only, Prentiss stresses, and one of the deductions they have made is that the UnSub knew his victims personally. That’s why the team is delivering the profile to a group of conspiracy theorists: they also knew the victims.

However, these people aren’t exactly jumping to help stop a killer hiding amongst them. Instead, one of them is more interested in asking Rossi about his last book. JJ does try to steer the conversation back to the matter at hand, even making sure not to call them conspiracy theorists because they don’t like that term, but all she ends up doing is, in one of their minds’, confirm one of their theories.

Criminal Minds season 13 airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on CBS. Want more news? Like our Criminal Minds Facebook page.

(Image/videos courtesy of CBS)

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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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As Mueller's Russia Probe Forges Ahead, Potential Legal Endgames Begin to Take Shape – NPR

Protesters outside the federal courthouse where Michael Flynn pleaded guilty early this month speculate what is coming next in the special counsel probe.

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While many aspects of the Justice Department’s Russia investigation remain shrouded in secrecy, one thing at this point is clear: Special counsel Robert Mueller isn’t finished yet.

That raises the question about where he might be heading.

Mueller has moved aggressively in his high-profile probe since taking the reins seven months ago. He has brought charges against four people with ties to the Trump campaign or administration so far, including the president’s onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The outcome of Mueller’s relationship with Flynn — who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with investigators — could be the key to what happens down the line, attorneys say.

“There are two possible ways this could end up going, and both hinge on why Flynn lied,” said Randall Eliason, a former federal prosecutor who teaches white collar criminal law at George Washington University Law School. “Depending on which is the case, you could have very different endgames.”

If Flynn lied about his Russia contacts because they were deemed politically damaging, then Trump associates — and maybe the president himself — could get caught in a cover-up, even if what they’re trying to hide isn’t itself criminal.

If the facts bear that out, that could mean an obstruction of justice case. For months, news outlets have reported that Mueller is looking into whether Trump obstructed justice, which would amount to attempting to influence or subvert an ongoing investigation.

A Trump tweet after Flynn’s guilty plea renewed the talk about possible obstruction and fueled questions about what the president knew when he cut Flynn loose in February.

Trump said on Twitter that he fired Flynn “because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies.” Trump lawyer John Dowd took responsibility for the tweet after it ignited a firestorm, but the White House ultimately acknowledged that Trump knew in late January, before he fired Flynn, that Flynn had probably lied to the FBI.

“The president has the right to fire anybody when he wants. But what he can’t do is try to interject improper influence in, and impede, an investigation,” said Michael J. Moore, a former U.S. attorney now at Pope McGlamry in Atlanta.

Moore alluded to the account of former FBI Director James Comey after Flynn’s firing. Trump, in Comey’s telling, asked him in a confidential meeting at the White House whether he would “let this go.” And Trump later fired Comey himself.

“That’s why that tweet was so important,” Moore said. “If he knew at the time that Flynn had lied to the FBI and told Comey to back off, then he’s using his position as Comey’s superior as leverage to try to achieve an outcome in an investigation — that amounts to obstruction.”

Obstruction could remain a possible endgame charge in a second scenario as well: If Flynn lied to shield a broader network of contacts between Trump associates, Russians and some nefarious actions they engaged in together.

Mueller’s mandate from the Justice Department calls for him to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government” and the Trump campaign. In the popular parlance, that is often called the question of “collusion.”

But even though “collusion” is a word that has been frequently bandied about, there is no such criminal charge. There is another C-word that could come into play — conspiracy.

Depending on the facts developed in Mueller’s investigation, there are a couple of options.

A Trump tweet after Flynn pleaded guilty renewed the talk about possible obstruction and fueled questions about what the president knew when he cut Flynn loose in February.

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One potential charge might be conspiracy to violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, says Barak Cohen, a partner and litigation lead at Perkins Coie in Washington, D.C. Mueller’s team could reach for that if there is evidence that Trump associates worked with Russia on the hacking of the Democratic National Committee or the emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.

“I think the special counsel would like to be able to charge them as co-conspirators to the hack or accessories after the fact,” Cohen said. “It’s the most credible and well-established legal theory.”

If Trump associates weren’t directly involved in the hacks but, say, knew about them and kept them hidden, then they could be charged as accessories after that fact, Cohen said.

Another theory proffered by John Norris and Carolyn Kenney for the liberal Center for American Progress is that Mueller might try to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

“More dominoes seem almost inevitable to fall given the special counsel’s efforts to secure cooperating witnesses, and RICO statutes give him a powerful card to play if he wishes to do so,” they wrote.

Or a more general conspiracy charge — to defraud the United States — could come into play, according to Eliason. Conspiracy of this sort means interfering with a lawful government function by deceit or dishonest means. In this case, prosecutors might try to prove the Trump camp had helped pervert the election.

“Of course, it depends on what the facts show,” Eliason said, “but if one worked with the Russians to leak information and create false social media accounts and other such stuff, that could be conspiracy to defraud the U.S.”

A third possible endgame is some sort of financial crime such as money laundering.

“My guess is this is all going to center around money — Russian money,” Moore said.

Questions swirl around Trump’s finances, partly because he has been opaque about his tax payments and partly because of charges by opponents that his businesses are the terminus of a money laundering scheme.

This aspect of the story got a boost after reports that Deutsche Bank had received a subpoena from Mueller’s team for information on accounts held by people or entities connected to Trump.

A lawyer for Trump, Jay Sekulow, denied those reports. The bank itself has made no comment. A Deutsche Bank spokesman told a German business newspaper that it cooperates with official inquiries but does not comment on individual cases.

Probing possible financial crimes dating back to before Trump took office and unrelated to Russia could be perilous politically. Trump’s aides and Republicans have already argued that such a move would be a step too far for Mueller.

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The 'electronic privacy case of the century' is now in court, and it could redefine your right to privacy

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  • The Supreme Court is re-examining American rights to digital privacy in a case that has been described as the most important electronic privacy case of the 21st century.
  • The court’s ruling, which takes place in June, will determine whether or not law enforcement must acquire warrants when accessing geolocational data emitted by cell phones. 
  • If the case is lost, it could transform digital privacy and allow for closer government surveillance. 

 

The Supreme Court is re-examining American rights to digital privacy in a hallmark case that’s been called the most important electronic privacy case of the 21st century.

Potentially, the court’s decision could reframe the modern-day understanding of the Fourth Amendment, imperil society’s expectations of digital privacy, and reinterpret notions of American identity and the American right to privacy.

This landmark decision can be traced back to a series of crimes that took place nearly eight years ago, when Timothy Ivory Carpenter orchestrated a string of robberies at cellphone stores, including Radio Shack and T-Mobile, in several midwest cities in the US. After Carpenter’s arrest, prosecutors recreated his physical movements over a six-month period using geolocational data from his cellphone records. Their case rested almost entirely on Carpenter’s cell phone records, which had been obtained through the Stored Communications Act, a federal law that requires investigators provide reasonable proof to obtain tracking data, but has less exacting stipulations than those demanded by a warrant.

David Gray, attorney and author of the book “The Fourth Amendment in an Age of Surveillance,” says that at the core of the Supreme Court case is the understanding of the word “search,” as defined by the Fourth Amendment. 

The Fourth Amendment protects Americans against arbitrary arrests and seizure, and in one clause, upholds that citizens are protected against unreasonable searches.

“It all depends on this weird definition of the word ‘search’ and how that applies to technology,” Gray told Business Insider. “The court is using their authority to impose limitations on the use of new technologies by changing the definition of the word ‘search.'”

Jeffrey Rosen, president of the National Constitution Center, an educational nonprofit, agrees with Gray’s assessment. In an interview with Business Insider, Rosen said the court’s definition of the word “search” is determined by a 1970s Supreme Court case that ruled Americans have no privacy protections over most of their data because it’s voluntarily shared with third parties.

“If the court applies that idea to our most intimate data, including huge amounts of information about where we move in public, that can essentially mean that we have no privacy,” said Rosen. “The broad, important, crucial question is how much privacy do we have when the government seizes huge amounts of data stored by third parties.”

The outcome of the case will be determined in June, and according to Rosen, it could be lost either broadly or narrowly. If the court loses broadly and the court upholds that Americans have no expectation of privacy in digital data stored with third parties, Rosen says “it could transform American identity.”

“It would mean that we have no private spaces in which we record our most intimate thoughts, our criticism of the government, our hopes, and our fears,” he said. “It would mean that Americans aren’t as free today than they were at the time of the framing of the Constitution.”

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