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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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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Here's how a recount would work if Roy Moore refuses to concede the Alabama Senate election

roy moore

  • The Republican Roy Moore has refused to concede the US Senate race in Alabama despite results showing a clear margin of victory for his Democratic challenger, Doug Jones.
  • Moore is holding out hope for a recount, which would likely only take place if the certified votes show a less than 0.5% margin.
  • Here’s how the certification and recount process could play out.

The Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore refused to concede Alabama’s special election to his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, on Tuesday night despite preliminary results showing Jones leading by more than 21,000 votes.

The 1.5-percentage-point margin is narrow, but Alabama’s secretary of state, John Merrill, says it is most likely wide enough to ensure Jones’ victory even with some votes remaining to be counted.

“I know a lot of people would say it’s never over until it’s over, but the margin of victory for Doug Jones at this particular time looks like a very difficult amount of votes to overcome as the remaining votes that are out there to be counted next week begin to be considered at the local level,” Merrill told CNN on Wednesday.

But Moore is not giving up hope.

“Realize when the vote is this close, it’s not over,” Moore told supporters in a speech late Tuesday night. “And we still got to go by the rules about this recount provision … It’s not over, and it’s going to take some time.”

On Wednesday night, Moore released a YouTube video in which he again refused to concede, saying he would wait until all the votes were counted.

What happens next

Over the coming days, each of Alabama’s 67 counties will process the remaining write-in votes and provisional and military ballots from overseas.

Counties must report those votes to the secretary of state’s office by December 22. Then, at some point between December 26 and January 3, all votes will go through a certification process.

If the margin of victory then turns out to be under 0.5%, an automatic recount provision will kick in. In that case, the state government has to pay for the recount.

Beyond that, Moore might not have a recourse.

“However, several offices are not included in Alabama’s law for contesting elections: lieutenant governor, U.S. senator, and U.S. representative,” Alabama’s election handbook reads. “The omission of U.S. senators and representatives is probably due to the fact that each house of Congress is the final judge of its own members’ qualifications.”

John Bennett, Merrill’s deputy chief of staff, told Business Insider on Wednesday that the handbook is not the law, but rather an interpretation of the law, and that it is too soon to discuss the possibility of a recount.

But he also said that Sections 17-16-20 and 17-16-21 of Alabama’s election law “probably” allow political parties or the candidates themselves to request a recount in elections for both state-level and federal positions.

“We’re just not at that point,” he said. “We should get to verifying the vote first.”

Doug jones election night

Some, including a few Republicans, have already criticized Moore’s delayed concession.

“Roy Moore won’t concede; says will wait on God to speak,” the former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas tweeted Wednesday morning. “God wasn’t registered to vote in AL but the ppl who voted did speak and it wasn’t close enough for recount. In elections everyone does NOT get a trophy. I know first hand but it’s best to exit with class.”

Tuesday’s special election, held to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, followed one of the most scandal-plagued political contests in recent memory. Moore spent much of the campaign’s final weeks fighting off several accusations of sexual misconduct with teenagers from when he was in his 30s.

Assuming the election-night results hold true, Jones, a former prosecutor, will be the first Democrat to hold an Alabama Senate seat since 1992.

SEE ALSO: ‘IT’S NOT OVER’: Roy Moore refuses to concede and insists there could be recount

DON’T MISS: Chuck Schumer is demanding the tax bill be put on hold until Alabama’s new Democrat is seated in the Senate

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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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'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.”

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

supreme court

  • 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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'Morning Joe' host Mika Brzezinski questions the #MeToo movement: Do 'all women need to be believed?'

Morning Joe

  • “Morning Joe” cohost Mika Brzezinski on Friday cast doubt on the veracity of the allegations made by one of Al Franken’s sexual harassment accusers.
  • Brzezinksi’s comments seemed to question the intentions of the #MeToo movement at large.
  • In the same broadcast, Brzezinski announced MSNBC’s suspension of a “Morning Joe” contributor who was accused of sexual misconduct. 

 

On Friday, “Morning Joe” cohost Mika Brzezinski cast doubt on a sexual harassment accuser of Al Franken while seeming to question the intentions of the #MeToo phenomenon, a movement which has seen myriad women come forward with experiences and accusations of sexual misconduct in recent months. 

“In this #MeToo environment, you must always just believe the women and I think that there’s a lot of reasons why we need to look at the women seriously and believe them,” Brzezinski said on Friday’s show. “I’m just wondering if all women need to be believed, and I’m concerned that we are being the judge, the jury, and the cops here, and so did Senate Democrats getting ahead of their skis.”

Brzezinski went on to question whether the first woman to accuse Al Franken of sexual harassment, Leeann Tweeden, had a political motive. (Franken resigned from his Senate seat on Thursday in response to the numerous allegations of misconduct made against him over weeks, and pressure from his Democratic colleagues.) 

Brzezinski noted that Tweeden had appeared as a “Hannity” contributor.

“We’ve never really talked about the woman who first came out against Al Franken,” Brzezinski said. “A performer, a Playboy model who goes on ‘Hannity,’ who voted for Trump. I see some politics there.”

In the same broadcast on Friday, Brzezinski announced that “Morning Joe” contributor Harold Ford Jr. would be taken off the air after Ford was terminated by his employer, Morgan Stanley, for alleged misconduct. 

Watch a segment of the broadcast below:

SEE ALSO: 36 powerful men accused of sexual misconduct after Harvey Weinstein

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