Samuel Chamberlain

A Florida judge ruled Tuesday that video purporting to show New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft paying to receive sex acts from a massage parlor worker should not be made public until after the case either goes to trial or is resolved in some other way.

Circuit Judge Leonard Hanser agreed with Kraft’s attorneys that releasing the video likely would make it impossible to seat a jury to try the 77-year-old on misdemeanor prostitution charges. Kraft pleaded not guilty to the charges but has issued a statement apologizing for his conduct.

Several media organizations have requested the release of a redacted version of the video under Florida’s broad public records laws.

Hanser wrote that under normal circumstances, an older man allegedly paying for sexual services would be “a rather tawdry but fairly unremarkable event.”

“But if that man is the owner of the most successful franchise in, arguably, the most popular professional sport in the United States, an entirely different dynamic arises,” Hanser wrote. He said the video would be shown widely on television and on the Internet and it would be difficult for him to find unbiased jurors.

Kraft was one of 25 men charged with solicitation after police secretly installed cameras at the Orchids of Asia massage parlor in Jupiter, Fla., in what authorities initially said was an investigation into human trafficking. Prosecutors have since said they found no evidence of trafficking at the spa.

In a separate hearing, Circuit Judge Joseph Marx permitted spa owner Hua Zhang and therapist Lei Wang to subpoena celebrity gossip site TheBlast.com and its phone provider in an effort to determine who reached out with an offer to sell the Kraft video to the website last week.

CUSTOMERS FILMED AT SPA IN ROBERT KRAFT CASE SUE FLORIDA LAW ENFORCEMENT

TheBlast reported that it did not buy the video, but that the would-be leaker showed its employees a snippet. One of Kraft’s attorneys, Alex Spiro, testified that the website’s CEO and lawyer described to him what the alleged leaker showed and he believed it matched the video police showed him.

Attorneys for Zhang and Wang argued that the video leak must have come from the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office or Jupiter police. Both agencies denied that and Marx said the attorneys had not proven that the leak was real. The judge did order both agencies to hand over a list by Monday of all employees who had access to the video.

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“If this video has really been leaked then we’re going to see it,” Marx said. “It’s a sad state of affairs but there’s nothing I can do right now that will prevent that.” The video has not shown up elsewhere.

In a separate matter, Kraft’s attorneys were seeking to suppress the video on grounds that it was an invasion of privacy and that the search warrant to install the cameras was obtained using untrue statements indicating that investigators had found potential evidence of human trafficking. A hearing on that motion was scheduled for Friday.

Fox News’ Heather Lacy and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Tuesday that President Trump’s conduct as described in the Mueller report was “unethical, unscrupulous and beneath the dignity of the office he holds,”  but added that she was “not there yet” in supporting the initiation of impeachment proceedings.

In an interview at the Time 100 summit in New York City, Pelosi called impeachment “one of the most divisive paths that we could go down in our country” before adding that “if the path of fact-finding takes us there, we have no choice. But we’re not there yet.”

Pelosi made her remarks one day after telling members of her caucus on a conference call that there were no immediate plans to move forward with impeachment, saying: “We don’t have to go to articles of impeachment to obtain the facts, the presentation of facts.” On Tuesday, Pelosi said that 177 House Democrats “were on the call for 87 minutes, 70 minutes at least of that was listening to the comments of 20 members who called in …”

DEM LEADERS REJECT IMMEDIATE IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS IN URGENT CONFERENCE CALL

“There are many ways to hold the president of the United States accountable,” Pelosi added. ” …This is about being totally free from passion, from prejudice, from politics It’s about the presentation of the facts, and when we have the facts, we’ll have a better idea about how we go forward.”

At least three Democratic presidential candidates — Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California, as well as former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro — have called on Congress to launch impeachment proceedings. Their demands have been backed by two prominent freshman Democrats, Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

On Tuesday, Pelosi played down reports of divisions among Democrats over the impeachment issue, saying: “There are some people who are more eager for impeachment, many more eager to just follow the investigation … I don’t think it’s a growing number [who support impeachment.]”

HOUSE JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN SUBPOENAS EX-WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL DON MCGAHN

Shortly before the House Democratic conference call began, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., subpoenaed former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify next month. Nadler also issued a subpoena last week for the full, unredacted version of the Mueller report. House Democrats have refused invitations by Attorney General William Barr to come to its headquarters and read a less-redacted version of the report.

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On Tuesday, Pelosi accused the White House of “stonewalling” after lawyers for Trump sued to block a subpoena issued by the House Oversight Committee seeking the president’s financial records.

“This is a moment in our history,” the speaker said. “As I say, it’s not about politics. It’s about patriotism. It’s an existential threat, this administration, to our democracy in terms of our Constitution, Article I, the legislative branch [as] spelled out in the Constitution, the power of oversight over other branches of government, [and] the right to know.”

Fox News’ Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.

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The top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee told Fox News on Monday night that Democrats attacking Attorney General William Barr for his handling of the Mueller report are “going to try and take down the attorney general so that nobody will believe him.”

“The Democrats don’t seem to like an attorney general who knows how to do his job,” Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., told “The Story with Martha MacCallum.” “And I think what he has done is his job … He’s credible, he’s done what he said and the Democrats are still desperately searching for a reason to paint and smear this president.”

Collins spoke to Fox News hours after reading a less-redacted version of the Mueller report at the Justice Department, making him the only known lawmaker to accept Barr’s offer to view the more detailed version of the report in private.

“There’s nothing, as I said after I read the less-redacted report, that changed the conclusions, changed nothing about what Bob Mueller … found out,” Collins told Ed Henry. “Not Bill Barr. Bob Mueller did these investigations. He was the one that came up with the reports. He was the one that said no charges on obstruction. He was the one that said definitively no collusion by anyone or Americans in working to do this.”

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“Maybe they [Democrats] were more used to [Eric] Holder and [Loretta] Lynch, who sort of obfuscated, hid behind executive privilege and did stuff to tear away from the fabric of the American people instead of Attorney General Bill Barr, who’s actually done his job,” Collins elaborated, referring to former attorneys general under President Obama.

Barr is scheduled to testify before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees at the beginning of next month.

Fox News’ Ed Henry contributed to this report.

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House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., on Monday subpoenaed former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify publicly next month following last week’s release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation.

Nadler described McGahn, who stepped down as White House counsel in October 2018, as “a critical witness to many of the alleged instances of obstruction of justice and other misconduct described in the Special Counsel’s report.”

“The Special Counsel’s report, even in redacted form, outlines substantial evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction and other abuses,” Nadler said. “It now falls to Congress to determine for itself the full scope of the misconduct and to decide what steps to take in the exercise of our duties of oversight, legislation and constitutional accountability.”

Nadler added that he has requested McGhan to appear before the committee on May 21 and has set a May 7 deadline for him to provide documents related to the Mueller investigation.

“His [McGahn’s] testimony will help shed further light on the President’s attacks on the rule of law, and his attempts to cover up those actions by lying to the American people and requesting others do the same,” Nadler said.

The committee’s ranking member, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., slammed the chairman’s move. “For the second time in four days, the chairman has issued a subpoena prematurely and contrary to his pledge not ‘to issue a subpoena every time we have a disagreement with the administration.’ Don McGahn sat for more than 30 hours of interviews with the special counsel’s investigation, and the chairman has answered that with a stunning 36-item subpoena. Instead of looking at material that Attorney General [William] Barr has already made available, Democrats prefer to demand additional materials they know are subject to constitutional and common-law privileges and cannot be produced.”

Fox News’ Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.

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Kansas’ new governor vetoed a bill Monday that would require doctors and abortion clinics to tell their patients about a disputed treatment meant to stop a medication abortion.

The veto from Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, sets up a showdown with a Republican-dominated legislature that appears to have the two-thirds majorities needed in both chambers to override the veto. Legislators are scheduled to return from a weeks-long break May 1.

The bill would require abortion clinics to display a sign notifying women that they could stop a medication abortion by taking the hormone progesterone — even if they have already taken Mifepristone, the first of two drugs used in the procedure — and doctors would have to tell a patient in writing that a medication abortion could be reversed. A clinic that failed to post a sign could be fined $10,000, and a doctor who failed to notify a patient could be charged with a misdemeanor for a first offense and a felony for a second.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, vetoed a bill related to abortion, setting up a showdown with state Republicans. (AP Photo/John Hanna, File)

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, vetoed a bill related to abortion, setting up a showdown with state Republicans. (AP Photo/John Hanna, File)

Medication abortions using Mifepristone, also known as RU-486, are the most common way of terminating a pregnancy in Kansas, accounting for 61 percent of the total last year, according to statistics from the state health department.

Supporters of so-called “reversal” laws have cited a 2018 study led by Dr. George Delgado, a board member of the American Association of Pro-Life OB/GYNs and a voluntary associate clinical professor at the University of California, San Diego’s medical school. They also noted that progesterone has been used for decades to prevent miscarriages.

Abortion-rights supporters have said the study was flawed and progesterone’s use for reversing a medical abortion hasn’t been tested adequately. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has disputed the usefulness of the procedure, stating in August 2017 that “[c]laims regarding abortion ‘reversal’ treatment are not based on science and do not meet clinical standards.”

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Seven states with Republican governors have enacted such laws, starting with Arkansas in 2015, and Oklahoma’s GOP-controlled legislature recently approved a measure. Kelly was elected last year and took office in January after the state imposed a raft of new abortion restrictions under her Republican predecessors Sam Brownback and Jeff Colyer.

Other states, including Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio, have moved to ban abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected, as early as the sixth week of pregnancy. Kansans for Life, the state’s most influential pro-life group, has long favored an incremental approach and restrictions that would survive court challenges.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Thursday that most of three California sanctuary laws limiting cooperation with federal immigration authorities can continue to be enforced, rejecting the bulk of a suit brought by the Trump administration.

The judges declined to block the most contentious law, Senate Bill 54, which prohibits police and sheriff’s officials from notifying immigration authorities when immigrant inmates are released from prison. In the opinion, Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. wrote: “We have no doubt that makes the jobs of federal immigration authorities more difficult.” However, he added that the law “does not directly conflict with any obligations” placed on state or local governments by federal law “because federal law does not mandate any state action.”

The court also upheld a California law, Assembly Bill 450, mandating that employers alert employees of any upcoming federal immigration inspection share the inspection results with employees who may not be authorized to work in the U.S. Judge Smith, who was nominated to the federal bench by George W. Bush, ruled that the state law “imposes no additional or contrary obligations that undermine or disrupt the activities of federal immigration authorities.”

The court did block part of Assembly Bill 103, which requires the state to review detention facilities where immigrants are held, ruling that a provision requiring the state to review circumstances surrounding the apprehension and transfer of detainees puts an impermissible burden on the federal government.

“Only those provisions that impose an additional economic burden exclusively on the federal government are invalid,” wrote Judge Smith.

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The Justice Department sued California over its sanctuary laws in March 2018, with then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying that they hindered cooperation between federal and local law enforcement and prevents the government from enforcing federal immigration law. U.S. District Judge John Mendez previously threw out the federal government’s challenge to Senate Bill 54, Assembly Bill 103 and part of Assembly Bill 450.

California officials have said the immigration laws promote trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has repeatedly sued the Trump administration, mostly over immigration and environmental decisions, said the ruling shows that states’ rights “continue to thrive.”

“We continue to prove in California that the rule of law not only stands for something but that people cannot act outside of it,” Becerra said in a statement.

The Justice Department had no immediate comment.

Fox News’ Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s office made 14 referrals for investigation of “potential criminal activity” that fell outside the scope of its investigation into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, as well as potential obstruction of justice by the Trump administration.

Among those referred for criminal investigation were Michael Cohen, Trump’s onetime personal attorney, and Gregory Craig, a former White House counsel under President Barack Obama. The other 12 referrals were redacted, citing “Harm to Ongoing Matter.”

Cohen was sentenced in December 2018 to three years in prison after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress about Trump’s past business dealings in Russia. In his plea, Cohen said he arranged “hush money” payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign “at the direction” of then-candidate Trump.

Mueller’s report noted that Trump’s conduct toward Cohen changed from praise to castigation after Cohen began cooperating with prosecutors following an FBI raid on his home, office and hotel room in April 2018. The report said the evidence could “support an inference that the president used inducements in the form of positive messages in an effort to get Cohen not to cooperate, and then turned to attacks and intimidation to deter the provision of information or undermine Cohen’s credibility once Cohen began cooperating.”

Cohen is scheduled to report to prison next month, though his legal team has claimed he is still sorting through documents that might be of interest to Democratic lawmakers investigating the president. Cohen’s attorneys have also said that they are holding out hope that federal prosecutors in New York will not only back another delay in the start of his prison term, but also would agree to reopen his case and advocate for a lighter sentence.

On Thursday, Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, tweeted that Cohen “knows and can fill in the bulk of the redactions” in the Mueller report. Cohen concurred, tweeting: “Soon I will be ready to address the American people again…tell it all…and tell it myself!”

Craig was indicted last week on two counts of making false statements and concealing information from investigators regarding his work for former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych. Craig, 74, has pleaded not guilty and called the prosecution “unprecedented and unjustified.”

The case against Craig intersected with the Mueller probe because former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was involved in the financing of a report Craig authored in 2012 for the Yanukovych government that sought to legitimize its prosecution of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

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Manafort was convicted last year by a federal jury in Virginia on eight counts of bank and tax fraud and was sentenced to 47 months in prison. He subsequently pleaded guilty to two felony conspiracy charges related to his overseas lobbying work with Ukraine and was sentenced to 73 months in prison by a D.C. federal judge. Manafort’s former deputy Rick Gates pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiracy against the U.S. and one count of making false statements to FBI agents and cooperated with prosecutors against Manafort.

All told, Mueller charged 34 people, including Manafort and Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and three Russian companies. Twenty-five Russians were indicted on charges related to election interference, accused either of hacking Democratic email accounts during the campaign or of orchestrating a social media campaign that spread disinformation on the internet.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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A Georgia man known for producing and acting in a pair of zombie movies was arrested last week and accused of physically assaulting two women, including shoving his hand into one’s mouth so she could “taste his blood.”

Eliot Ryan Rutledge, 30, was charged with felony aggravated assault and false imprisonment as well as misdemeanor battery, simple battery and disorderly conduct, The Rome News-Tribune reported, citing court documents.

Investigators said Rutledge trapped a woman at his home in August 2018 by blocking the exits, then punched, poked and elbowed her.

Eliot Rutledge was charged with assault and battery, among other counts.

Eliot Rutledge was charged with assault and battery, among other counts. (Floyd County Jail.)

The documents claimed Rutledge attacked the same woman at his home between June 2017 and October 2018. On one occasion, he allegedly “choked the victim, picked her up by the neck, slammed her into the front yard of [his home], and continued to choke her once she was on the ground.”

In January of this year, investigators said Rutledge choked and bit a second woman, causing bruises and severe lacerations. Less than two weeks later, Rutledge allegedly cut his fingers before shoving them into his alleged victim’s mouth.

He was being held without bond at the Floyd County Jail in Rome, about 70 miles northwest of Atlanta.

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IMDB.com credited Rutledge with producing and acting in the 2017 short films “Gangsters and Zombies” and “Gangsters and Zombies II.”

The News-Tribune reported that he also acted in local productions, including the Rome Shakespeare Festival.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Democrats in Congress attacked Attorney General William Barr Wednesday evening ahead of the Justice Department’s planned release of a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

Barr is set to hold a 9:30 a.m. news conference Thursday accompanied by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the Mueller investigation after the special counsel’s appointment in May 2017. Neither Mueller nor other members of his team will attend, according to special counsel spokesman Peter Carr. Democrats have criticized the timing of the news conference, saying that Barr would get to present his interpretation of the Mueller report before Congress and the public see it.

At a news conference Wednesday evening, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said the panel was expected to receive a copy of the report between 11 a.m. and noon, “well after the attorney general’s 9:30 a.m. press conference. This is wrong.”

“The attorney general appears to be waging a media campaign on behalf of President Trump, the very subject of the investigation at the heart of the Mueller report,” Nadler told reporters. “Rather than letting the facts of the report speak for themselves, the attorney general has taken unprecedented steps to spin Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation.”

Hakeem Jeffries, another member of the Judiciary Committee and the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, accused Barr — whom Jeffries dubbed the “so-called Attorney General” of “presiding over a dog and pony show.

“Here is a thought,” Jeffries added. “Release the Mueller report tomorrow morning and keep your mouth shut. You have ZERO credibility.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., tweeted that Barr “has thrown out his credibility & the DOJ’s independence with his single-minded effort to protect ⁦‪@realDonaldTrump⁩ above all else. The American people deserve the truth, not a sanitized version of the Mueller Report approved by the Trump Admin.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said, “The process is poisoned before the report is even released.”

“Barr shouldn’t be spinning the report at all, but it’s doubly outrageous he’s doing it before America is given a chance to read it,” Schumer added.

Democrats were further angered Wednesday by a New York Times report which said Justice Department officials have had “numerous conversations with White House lawyers” about Mueller’s conclusions, which have aided the president’s legal team as it prepares a rebuttal to the special counsel’s report. The Times report has not been independently confirmed by Fox News.

Late Wednesday, Nadler and four other Democratic committee chairs released a joint statement calling on Barr to cancel the Thursday morning news conference, calling it “unnecessary and inappropriate.”

“He [Barr] should let the full report speak for itself, read the statement from Nadler, Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Elijah Cummings, D-Md., Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. “The Attorney General should cancel the press conference and provide the full report to Congress, as we have requested. With the Special Counsel’s fact-gathering work concluded, it is now Congress’ responsibility to assess the findings and evidence and proceed accordingly.”

In court filings in the case against Roger Stone on Wednesday, the Justice Department also said it planned to provide a “limited number” of members of Congress and their staff access to a copy of the Mueller report with fewer redactions than the public version. Nadler claimed Wednesday evening that the Judiciary Committee “has no knowledge of this and this should not be read as any agreement or knowledge or assent on our part.”

Nadler added that he would “probably find it useful” to call Mueller and members of his team to testify after reading the version of the report Barr releases.

The report is expected to reveal what Mueller uncovered about ties between the Trump campaign and Russia that fell short of criminal conduct. And, it likely will lay out the special counsel’s conclusions about formative episodes in Trump’s presidency, including his firing of FBI Director James Comey; his request of Comey to end an investigation into Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn; his relentless badgering of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions over his recusal from the Russia investigation; and his role in drafting an explanation about a meeting his oldest son took at Trump Tower with a Kremlin-connected lawyer.

The report is not expected to place the president in legal jeopardy, as Barr made his own decision that Trump shouldn’t be prosecuted for obstruction. But it is likely to contain unflattering details about the president’s efforts to control the Russia investigation

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Overall, Mueller brought charges against 34 people — including six Trump aides and advisers — and revealed a sophisticated, wide-ranging Russian effort to influence the 2016 presidential election. Twenty-five of those charged were Russians accused either in the hacking of Democratic email accounts or of a hidden but powerful social media effort to spread disinformation online.

Five former Trump aides or advisers pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate in Mueller’s investigation, including former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. Stone is awaiting trial on charges including false statements and obstruction.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson, Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

A 29-year-old Marine Raider has been identified as the victim of a deadly crash during training at a Southern California base over the weekend.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Braica was injured Saturday when an MRZR tactical vehicle he was driving rolled over during an exercise at Camp Pendleton. He died at a local hospital the following day. Two other Marines suffered minor injuries.

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Joshua Braica.

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Joshua Braica. (United States Marine Corps)

Braica, of Sacramento, Calif., was a critical skills operator with the 1st Marine Raider Battalion and was an eight-year veteran. He is survived by his wife and son.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

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Braica’s death was the second tragedy at Camp Pendleton in less than a week. On April 11, the Marine Corps announced that 1st Lt. Matthew Kraft, who failed to return from a ski trip in the Sierra Nevada mountain range more than a month ago, had likely died of exposure.

Fox News’ Travis Fedschun and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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