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NYT: O'Reilly Struck $32M Settlement In January Over Harassment Allegations

Sat, 2017-10-21 13:54

Former top Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who left the network in April amid accusations of sexual harassment, in January struck a $32 million settlement agreement with a former analyst for Fox News, months before his contract was extended, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

The New York Times reported, citing two unnamed sources briefed on the matter, that O’Reilly made the agreement to settle allegations “of repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material” to the analyst.

Despite the settlement, and others the New York Times reported in April totaled $13 million to five women over the last 15 years, 21st Century Fox extended O’Reilly’s contract in February, according to the report.

21st Century Fox said in a statement to the New York Times that O’Reilly’s settlement with Lis Wiehl, a former legal analyst at Fox News, was a personal matter between the two, and said O’Reilly “was the biggest star in cable TV.”

O’Reilly claimed to the New York Times that he “never mistreated anyone” and claimed he could “prove it.”

Fox News did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.

Read the full report here.

Dossier Firm's Lawyers Ask Judge To Block Nunes' Subpoena To Firm's Bank

Sat, 2017-10-21 12:37

Lawyers representing the firm that assembled a controversial dossier alleging ties between President Donald Trump and Russia on Friday asked a judge to block the firm’s bank from disclosing the identify of the client who commissioned the dossier.

Fusion GPS said House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), who claimed he recused himself from the panel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, “unilaterally issued” a subpoena to Fusion GPS’ bank “in violation of his recusal.”

“Although the bank submitted objections, Mr. Nunes — through staff — rejected them. In light of that communication, the bank then informed its customer that the bank was going to timely comply,” Fusion GPS’ lawyers wrote in the complaint.

The firm asked the judge for “a declaratory judgment and injunction” preventing the bank from complying with Nunes’ subpoena, and claimed Nunes’ signature on subpoenas related to the investigation “was another sign of his rogue inquiry.”

Fusion GPS’ lawyers last week accused Nunes and his staff of operating with a “pattern of unprofessional conduct.”

Read the complaint:

h/t The Daily Beast

Appeals Court Blocks Undocumented Teen Immigrant's Access To Abortion

Sat, 2017-10-21 11:11

WASHINGTON (AP) — An appeals court is blocking, for now, an abortion sought by a pregnant 17-year-old immigrant being held in a Texas facility, ruling that the government should have time to try to release her so she can obtain the abortion outside of federal custody.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued its ruling Friday hours after arguments from lawyers for the Trump administration and the teenager. The court ruled 2-1 that the government should have until Oct. 31 to release the girl into the custody of a sponsor, such as an adult relative in the United States. If that happens, she could obtain an abortion if she chooses. If she isn’t released, the case can go back to court.

The judge who dissented wrote that the court’s ruling means the teen will be forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy for “multiple more weeks.”

The teen, whose name and country of origin have been withheld because she’s a minor, is 15 weeks pregnant. She entered the U.S. in September and learned she was pregnant while in custody in Texas.

She obtained a court order Sept. 25 permitting her to have an abortion. But federal officials have refused to transport her or temporarily release her so that others may take her to have an abortion. A lower federal court ruled that she should be able to obtain an abortion Friday or Saturday, but the government appealed.

Federal health officials said in a statement that for “however much time” they are given they “will protect the well-being of this minor and all children and their babies” in their facilities.

Susan Hays, legal director of the Texas group Jane’s Due Process, which works with pregnant minors seeking an abortion and had offered to help pay for the teen’s abortion, said the court appeared to be “punting” the final decision on whether the teenager would be entitled to an abortion.

Brigitte Amiri, the ACLU lawyer who represented the teen in court, said in a statement that the group is “investigating all avenues to get justice for her.”

“Justice is delayed yet again for this courageous and persistent young woman. She continues to be held hostage and prevented from getting an abortion because the Trump administration disagrees with her personal decision,” Amiri said. “Our client and women across this country should be able to access a safe, legal abortion without federal officials stepping in to interfere.”

The teenager’s lawyers have argued that even a brief delay in allowing her to obtain an abortion could mean she may need a more complex procedure, one possibly not available in the region where she lives. If that happens, she could have to travel hundreds of miles to obtain an abortion, and if her case drags on she could lose her right to an abortion all together, her lawyers said. Texas law bans most abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy.

During arguments at the appeals court, Amiri told the judges that all the government needed to do was “get out of the way.” An attorney appointed to represent the teen’s interests had said she could transport her to and from appointments necessary for the procedure, and the federal government would not have to pay for it.

But administration lawyer Catherine Dorsey told the judges that the federal Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for sheltering children who illegally enter the country unaccompanied by a parent, has a policy of “refusing to facilitate” abortions and that releasing the teenager would require arranging a transfer of custody and follow-up care.

During arguments, Judge Brett Kavanaugh said releasing the girl to a sponsor seemed to be the best option. That, he said, would get her out of the facility where she is being held, allow her to obtain an abortion and leave the government out of it. But Amiri said a sponsor hadn’t yet been found and that the process could take months. At least one potential sponsor has fallen through.

In a two-page order, Kavanaugh and Judge Karen Henderson, both of whom were appointed by Republican presidents, said that if a sponsor is found by Oct. 31 and the teenager released, the government agrees she “will be lawfully able, if she chooses, to obtain an abortion on her own pursuant to the relevant state law.”

Judge Patricia Millett, who was appointed by a Democrat, President Barack Obama, would have allowed the girl to obtain an abortion as the lower court had ruled. Millett wrote that the girl “has already been forced by the government to continue an unwanted pregnancy for almost four weeks, and now, as a result of this order, must continue to carry that pregnancy for multiple more weeks.”


Associated Press reporter Nomaan Merchant in Houston contributed to this report.


Follow Jessica Gresko on Twitter at

Total Number Of US Victims In Unexplained Cuba Attacks Rises To 24

Sat, 2017-10-21 11:08

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States says two more government workers are confirmed victims in the unexplained Cuba attacks.

The State Department is increasing the official tally from 22 to 24. But State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says the new victims “do not reflect new attacks.” She says the additional victims were confirmed following medical evaluations of workers attacked earlier in the year.

Nauert says the most recent attack is still believed to have been near the end of August. A U.S. official told The Associated Press previously that attack occurred Aug. 21. The official wasn’t authorized to disclose the exact date and requested anonymity.

The State Department says it can’t rule out “additional new cases.”

The attacks started last year and affected American diplomats, intelligence officials and their spouses in Havana.

Report: WH Asked Pentagon For List Of Gold Star Families After Trump's Claim

Sat, 2017-10-21 11:01

The White House on Tuesday asked the Pentagon for the identities and contact information of family members of military personnel killed after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Roll Call reported late Friday.

Trump on Tuesday claimed he had personally contacted “virtually” every family of a soldier killed since his inauguration.

“I have called, I believe, everybody, but certainly I’ll use the word virtually everybody,” Trump claimed.

Roll Call reported, citing an internal Defense Department email, that Capt. Hallock Mohler, Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ executive secretary, subsequently gave the White House information about how each servicemember had died and contact information for their families.

Mohler indicated in the email, according to the report, that he provided the information in response to a request from White House staff.

“The White House ensured that the President had contacted all families of soldiers killed in action that had been presented to him through existing protocols,” a White House spokesman told Roll Call on Friday.

The Associated Press reported Friday that several Gold Star families never heard from Trump at all.

Trump Bashes 'Fake News Media,' Says He'll Release JFK Assassination Files

Sat, 2017-10-21 10:29

President Donald Trump on Saturday complained about the “Fake News Media” and said he would allow the release of files related to former President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

Trump complained that the “MSM barely covered” Senate passage of his budget plan or the stock market’s “all time high” last week.

“I hope the Fake News Media keeps talking about Wacky Congresswoman Wilson in that she, as a representative, is killing the Democrat Party!” Trump tweeted, referring to Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL).

And, Trump tweeted, “Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.”

The federal government is required, under the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, to release in full documents related to Kennedy’s assassination in Nov. 1963 by next Thursday unless Trump intervenes.

Budget that just passed is a really big deal, especially in terms of what will be the biggest tax cut in U.S. history – MSM barely covered!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2017

I hope the Fake News Media keeps talking about Wacky Congresswoman Wilson in that she, as a representative, is killing the Democrat Party!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2017

Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2017

Stock Market hits another all time high on Friday. 5.3 trillion dollars up since Election. Fake News doesn't spent much time on this!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2017

Of Course

Fri, 2017-10-20 23:06

This is amazing, comical, sad. From Roll Call

In the hours after President Donald Trump said on an Oct. 17 radio broadcast that he had contacted nearly every family that had lost a military servicemember this year, the White House was hustling to learn from the Pentagon the identities and contact information for those families, according to an internal Defense Department email.

The email exchange, which has not been previously reported, shows that senior White House aides were aware on the day the president made the statement that it was not accurate — but that they should try to make it accurate as soon as possible, given the gathering controversy.

Read More →

Graham Responds To Sanders: 'In America' Debating Generals Appropriate

Fri, 2017-10-20 16:55

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Friday pushed back against a statement from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that it would be “highly inappropriate” for a reporter to “get into a debate with a four-star Marine general.”

The general to whom she was referring is retired: White House chief of staff John Kelly. But generals and chiefs of staff alike are routinely subject to journalists’ questions in the United States.

After the briefing, a reporter asked Graham about Sanders’ comment.

“The White House press secretary today said it was highly inappropriate to get in a debate with a four-star general, do you agree with that?”

“No, not in America,” Graham said.

The reporter asked Sanders if Kelly would be willing to discuss an inaccurate statement he made while attacking Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL). Kelly had accused Wilson of bragging about securing funding for an FBI building in Miramar, Florida in 2015. That did not happen.

Kelly’s other attack against Wilson came in response to her discussing the content of a phone call between President Donald Trump and the grieving widow of Sgt. La David Johnson on Tuesday. Wilson was in the car with the widow, Myeshia Johnson, when Trump called, and Johnson answered the call on speakerphone. Trump had previously, incorrectly, claimed to have called “every” family of a fallen member of the military during his time in office.

Graham said of the controversy: “I just think a member of Congress should have some discipline, and so should the President.”

“I don’t know Congresswoman Wilson, I’ve never met her,” he continued. “I know she’s not a big fan of the President. And to her credit, she was in the car with the family. But I think she started something that was really — I would never do that.”

Wilson had told members of the media after listening to Trump’s call with Johnson that Trump did not mentioned La David Johnson by name, referring to the fallen soldier as “your guy” instead. And, Wilson said, Trump told Myeshia Johnson that her husband “knew what he signed up for.”

Trump Admin Tells Court Only Congress Can Pay Health Insurers What They're Owed

Fri, 2017-10-20 16:38

The lawsuit from nearly 20 states over the Trump administration’s recent decision to cut off subsidies to health insurance companies—a move roiling the individual market and raising premiums across the country—goes before a judge on Monday.

On Friday, the Trump administration submitted a response to the states’ attempt to force the payments, arguing that only Congress can constitutionally authorize those payments. The argument carries echoes of an earlier, still-pending lawsuit by House Republicans that sought to declare the Obama administration’s expenditures on the subsidies an illegal usurpation of Congress’ power of the purse – except now the roles are somewhat reversed.

“No matter how compelling the rationale, neither the Executive nor the Judiciary has the authority to expend taxpayer dollars, including billions of dollars in annual cost-sharing reduction payments under the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), if Congress has not appropriated those funds,” the Justice Department said, asking the court to reject the states’ request for a temporary for a temporary restraining order that would force the administration to pay out the funds. “Congress may reverse course and appropriate funds, but the Executive cannot make that decision for Congress by expending funds where no appropriation for CSR payments exists.”

Read More →

Here's Why One Black Activist Thinks Russian Trolls Sought Him Out

Fri, 2017-10-20 16:25

In one of the stranger aspects of the Russian influence campaign reported to date, the Federal News Agency (FAN) troll farm funded activism and social programs in black communities as recently as May. The Russian operation set up a news site that interviewed prominent thinkers like Occupy Wall Street’s Micah White and former Black Panther Party leading member Ericka Huggins. It also sponsored self-defense programs around the country, including one in Queens that specializes in de-escalating conflict between black people and police officers. None of those American activists who had contact with the operatives knew they were in contact with Russian agents at the time.

White (pictured above) has a theory for why those operatives were supporting black activism in the U.S. He has written on the tactical use of social movements to wage war—he wrote on the topic more than a year before the 2016 election—and he says that while Russia “can be pursuing multiple objectives simultaneously,” he thinks subverting the American status quo may be a mutual objective for a hostile Russian operation and the U.S. protest movements striving for more equality and justice—the challenge is to use that signal boost for noble ends.

“I think there aren’t many examples of social change that isn’t created by outside forces,” White told TPM. “Lenin was allowed back into Russia on German railroads while Russia and Germany were at war.”

As White observes in one essay, Russian state news couldn’t get enough of Occupy Wall Street. Indeed, RT flew Occupy organizers to London to be interviewed by Julian Assange for his TV show on the Kremlin-backed network.

One thing White said discourages him about the Russian propaganda efforts is how successful they were in terms of pure reach. As a rule, activists operate on a shoestring. The funds from the Russian trolls helped do things activists normally may be hard-pressed to pull off, like those classes in de-escalation.

“I do think it’s a watershed moment for American activism where American activists have to say, ‘Why is Russia able to create fake Facebook pages that get more likes than we do?’ I think it’s another sign that protest is broken,” he told TPM.

Another person contacted by the troll farm said he was surprised when the person who reached out wanting to facilitate political action wasn’t especially interested in talking politics.

“Their idea was they wanted to address police brutality, maybe do know-your-rights training,” said Omowale Adewale, a trainer in New York City who was asked to lead self-defense classes in Brooklyn and Queens by a troll-run group called BlackFist. “I was doing street harassment self-defense classes for women, so they caught me really at a time when I was already kind of engaged in a lot of this work.”

Adewale told TPM that while he was skeptical of the person who contacted him, he never thought a foreign government was recruiting him. He just thought the whole thing was probably a setup for a scam that would end up stealing from him.

“There never was any politics, which was just nuts,” he said.

But then the people Adewale thought might be scammers sent money to him. The prospect of offering something good to his community, especially bankrolled from the outside, thrilled him—but he was still curious about where the money was coming from. His thoughts, though, were primarily with a black community living in fear.

“I don’t know if you can fathom in the community the way people feel really targeted by police brutality,” Adewale told TPM. “I’m a fighter myself. Sometimes I jog and I’m running and cops are around. You can’t just run past them! White folks can just keep jogging, but if I’m in jogging gear, my jogging gear might include a hoodie! That’s problematic on a huge level, that somebody might be nervous and I might get shot, or at least get stopped and harassed. That’s the kind of thing that happens to me. A lot of things have to take place before you physically get somebody’s hands off of you. [It’s about] de-escalation ad knowing your rights. You really don’t want to die.”

That fear was a good litmus test for Adewale when it came to the intentions of “Taylor,” as well. “Taylor” didn’t seem to feel it, for himself or for anyone else.

“The lack of any kind of caring,” Adewale told TPM, “gave me insight.”

New Podcast

Fri, 2017-10-20 16:24

Episode 24 of The Josh Marshall Show (sub req): I talk to author Frank Foer about his new book “World Without Mind”, how big tech is changing the nature of our lives and our understanding of who we are.

White House: ‘Unfortunate’ If Widow Of Fallen Soldier ‘Misunderstood’ Trump

Fri, 2017-10-20 14:53

The White House is sticking by its line that President Donald Trump was respectful during his conversation with the widow of a fallen soldier, whose mother told The Washington Post that she felt “disrespected” by Trump’s remarks.

During the White House press briefing Friday, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it was “unfortunate” if the family “misunderstood.”

“Certainly if the spirit of which those comments were intended was misunderstood, that’s very unfortunate. As the President has said, as General Kelly has said, who I think has a very deep understanding of what that individual would be going through, his comments were very sympathetic, very respectful,” Sanders said. “And that was the spirit in which the President intended them. If they were taken in any other way, that’s certainly an unfortunate thing.” 

The comments follow a week-long firestorm that Trump started on Monday when he was asked about the deaths of four U.S. troops in Niger nearly two weeks ago. Trump claimed that “Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls, a lot of them didn’t make calls,” which was met with widespread condemnation from former Obama aides.

When Trump did make phone calls to the families of the four fallen soldiers, 14 days after their deaths, he reportedly told Myeshia Johnson, the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, that the soldier “knew what he was getting into” when he enlisted, according to Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), who was apparently in the car with Johnson when she received the call.

Trump and Wilson have been publicly criticizing each other ever since, with Trump calling Wilson a liar and Wilson standing by her characterization of the phone call.

Chief of Staff John Kelly got involved on Thursday, telling reporters he was “stunned” by the fact that Wilson had listened in on the phone call and calling Wilson an “empty barrel.”

WH Says 'Highly Inappropriate' For Reporter To Question 'Marine General'

Fri, 2017-10-20 14:46

The White House on Friday told a journalist who asked about errors chief of staff John Kelly made Thursday that it would be “highly inappropriate” to “get into a debate with a four-star Marine general.”

The militaristic language, used to refer to the civilian position in the White House occupied by the retired Marine general, came when the reporter pointed out that Kelly had inaccurately accused a congresswoman of claiming credit for securing funding for an FBI building in Miramar, Florida in 2015.

As video published Friday by the Sun Sentinel showed, the congresswoman, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), never claimed to have secured funding for the building. She did mention during her speech that she had led a congressional effort to name the building after two fallen FBI officials.

Sanders repeated a misleading statement regarding Kelly’s remarks in the press briefing Friday.

“As we say in the South, all hat, no cattle,” she added, a statement that could allude to the fact that Rep. Wilson is known to wear colorful hats.

The reporter pointed out that Kelly’s statement Thursday was misleading: Wilson didn’t discuss the building’s funding in her speech in 2015.

“She also had quite a few comments that day that weren’t part of that speech and weren’t part of that video that were also witnessed by many people that were there,” Sanders said, referring to “what Gen. Kelly referenced yesterday.”

The reporter pressed: Would Kelly respond to reporting on his inaccurate statement?

“I think he’s addressed that pretty thoroughly yesterday,” Sanders said.

“He was wrong yesterday in talking about getting the money,” the reporter countered.

“If you want to go after Gen. Kelly, that’s up to you,” Sanders said. “But I think that, if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that’s something highly inappropriate.”

The press secretary added later, responding separately to a question about a speech made by former President George W. Bush on Thursday: “I think if anybody is pushing a lot of fabricated things right now, I think most of that would be coming from the news media.”

Huckabee doubles down on the lies and says it’s “highly inappropriate” to disagree with a Marine 4 Star General.

— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) October 20, 2017

It Gets Uglier

Fri, 2017-10-20 14:31

Today White House Press Briefing may turn out to be uglier than yesterday’s. Sarah Sanders just doubled down on the phony FBI building story, claimed Wilson said the really bad things off camera and then it was “highly inappropriate” to get into a “debate” with a Marine 4 Star General.

“If you want to go after General Kelly that’s up to you but i think that that … if you want to get into a debate with a Four Star Marine General I think that that’s something highly inappropriate.”

Huckabee doubles down on the lies and says it's "highly inappropriate" to disagree with a Marine 4 Star General.

— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) October 20, 2017

San Juan Mayor: Puerto Rico Response Was A 10 If It’s ‘Out Of A Scale of 100’

Fri, 2017-10-20 14:02

While she admits that the federal response has “stepped up” in Puerto Rico in the past week, the mayor of San Juan is still pleading for help in the hurricane recovery and relief efforts and criticizing federal response efforts.

Appearing on CNN Friday — after the governor of Puerto Rico paid a visit to Washington Thursday to meet with President Donald Trump, who rated the U.S. response in Puerto Rico as a “10” — San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz gave a tongue-in-cheek endorsement of Trump’s assessment.

“If it’s a 10 out of a scale of 100, of course, it’s a failing grade,” she said when asked about Trump’s assessment. “FEMA representatives have admitted that they really haven’t been able to canvas most of just — less than 2 percent of the people that have lost their roofs in their homes. FEMA administrators have admitted that they’re still in a recovery side and even though they have stepped up their game, and I have to say that in the last week, they have stepped up their game, it still isn’t enough.”

She said she thinks Trump “lives in an alternative reality world that only he believes the things that he’s saying.” When asked about what rating she would give the federal response she said “one.”

“The administration has been unresponsive. They go back and forth. The President first says Katrina was a real disaster and yesterday says, ‘this is worse than Katrina.’ … There are still place in Puerto Rico where food has not gotten there,” she said.

Cruz and Trump have been at odds for weeks. In the aftermath of the hurricane, Cruz appeared on numerous cable news shows, asking for more resources for relief efforts. Trump took her requests personally and lashed out, criticizing her leadership and blaming Puerto Rico for the devastation they faced on their poor infrastructure and debt.

WATCH LIVE: Sarah Huckabee Sanders Delivers Press Briefing At 2 PM ET

Fri, 2017-10-20 14:01

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is scheduled to deliver an on-camera press briefing at 2 p.m. ET Friday. Watch live below via NBC News:

Under Trump, Uninsured Rate Rises For First Time Since Obamacare Took Effect

Fri, 2017-10-20 13:55

A new Gallup survey released Friday shows a marked uptick in the number of Americans without health insurance since the Trump administration took office—a reversal after years of decline and a historic record low under the Obama administration.

Since the end of 2016, the survey found, the uninsured rate has climbed 1.4 percentage points, from 10.9 percent to 12.3 percent, with roughly 3.5 million more Americans uninsured. The current uninsured rate is the highest since the end of 2014.

Read More →

3 Charged With Attempted Murder After Allegedly Firing On Spencer Protesters

Fri, 2017-10-20 13:54

Three men who came out to support white nationalist Richard Spencer’s Thursday speech at the University of Florida were arrested on charges of attempted murder after one of them allegedly fired at protesters, according to arrest reports from the Gainesville Police Department.

Texas residents Colton Fears, William Fears and Tyler Tenbrink all were charged with attempted homicide and were being held in the Alachua County jail. Tenbrink received an additional second-degree felony charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

After departing Spencer’s event Thursday, where they had spoken to local press about their willingness to “push back” on those who oppose their message, the three men pulled their car up to a bus stop where a small group of protesters was waiting, according to the arrest reports. The report states they began shouting “Hail Hitler” and yelling at the seated protesters, one of whom hit the vehicle’s rear window with a baton.

The car sped ahead a few feet and came to an abrupt stop, at which point Tenbrink emerged with a handgun, according to the report. William and Colton Fears allegedly yelled, “I’m going to fucking kill you” and “shoot them.”

Tenbrink proceeded to do so, firing one shot at the victim that missed and hit a building in the background, according to the report. The men were apprehended by the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office shortly after fleeing the scene. The report states Tenbrink admitted that he had fired the gun.

The Fears brothers were being held on $1 million bond, while Tenbrink was being held on $3 million bond.

At least two of the men have ties to extremist groups, according to Gainesville police. Tenbrink and William Fears also have attended previous white nationalist events, including the chaotic rally in Charlottesville, Virginia where counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed and many others were injured when white nationalist James Fields plowed his car into them.

Earlier Thursday, William Fears, who brawled with counter-protesters at Charlottesville, suggested to the Gainesville Sun that Fields’ actions were justified.

“It’s always been socially acceptable to punch a Nazi, to attack people if they have right-wing political leanings,” Fears told the newspaper. “Us coming in and saying we’re taking over your town, we’re starting to push back, we’re starting to want to intimidate back. We want to show our teeth a little bit because, you know, we’re not to be taken lightly. We don’t want violence; we don’t want harm. But at the end of the day, we’re not opposed to defending ourselves.”

Fears was arrested in 2009 for abducting an 18-year-old University of Texas student at knifepoint and wounding her repeatedly. He was charged with aggravated kidnapping and possession of a controlled substance.

He told the Washington Post earlier this year that the first white nationalist event he attended was a speech Spencer held last December at Texas A&M University, where he said he met people who looked and thought the same way he did. His Twitter account is full of posts disparaging Jews, Muslims,and black people.

Asked about the arrests of three of his supporters, Spencer told TPM he was “traveling” and hadn’t “heard of the story of the arrest.” After TPM provided a link to a story about the incident, he said he had “never heard of these men” and wouldn’t “comment on an ongoing investigation.”

“When I organize events, a chief priority is safety,” Spencer said, later adding, “I encourage all supporters to avoid violence and escalation.”

The University of Florida shelled out $500,000 in security costs to prepare for Spencer’s speech and Gov. Rick Scott (R) declared a state of emergency in Alachua County. The event itself proceeded peacefully, absent a few minor scuffles between white nationalists and the hundreds of protesters who came out to denounce their message. Inside the Philips Center auditorium, Spencer was shouted down for much of his speech by students chanting, “Fuck you, Spencer!” and “Nazis are not welcome here!”

Spencer told TPM that their response was “frustrating” but insisted the event was ultimately a “victory” because he “persevered against protesters who acted like children having temper tantrums.”

The white nationalist often claims he is not a Nazi and does not advocate for violence. A video of him making a Nazi salute at a Dallas karaoke bar surfaced earlier this month.

Read the full police reports below:

And Now There's Video

Fri, 2017-10-20 13:22

Last night I noted the Miami Herald report which made it pretty clear that John Kelly had gotten his facts very wrong in his attack on Rep. Wilson’s comments at that FBI building dedication ceremony back in 2015. But they couldn’t get the actual video. Well, now the Sun-Sentinel has the video. Read More →

After Video Contradicts John Kelly, White House Doubles Down In Defense

Fri, 2017-10-20 13:20

The White House on Friday stood behind its chief of staff, despite video showing definitively that he misspoke when he attacked a Democratic congresswoman on Thursday.

Though John Kelly originally attacked Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) on Thursday for bragging about securing funding for an FBI building at a dedication ceremony in 2015, video published by the Sun Sentinel Friday of that 2015 event shows that Wilson did no such thing. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in a statement to TPM, glossed over Kelly’s inaccuracies.

“Gen. Kelly said he was ‘stunned’ that Rep. Wilson made comments at a building dedication honoring slain FBI agents about her own actions in Congress, including lobbying former President Obama on legislation,” Sanders said in a statement.

But that’s not an accurate summary of the chief of staff’s statement. Kelly said he was “stunned” that Wilson had spoken about securing the building’s funding. In reality, she had only briefly mentioned her efforts to pass legislation to have the building named after two fallen FBI officers. And, secondly, Wilson made no mention of lobbying Obama in her 2015 speech, according to the Sentinel’s video. 

Neither Sanders nor another White House spokesperson responded to TPM’s questions about the details it mischaracterized in recounting Kelly’s attack.

Sanders’ statement continued: “As Gen. Kelly pointed out, if you’re able to make a sacred act like honoring American heroes about yourself, you’re an empty barrel.”

“Empty barrel” is what Kelly called Wilson for her sharing with the media that President Donald Trump did not mention Sgt. Johnson’s name in the call with his widow, according to Wilson, and that he had told her that Johnson “knew what he signed up for.”

Kelly on Thursday said that Wilson, in her 2015 speech, “stood up, and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there and all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call he gave the money — the $20 million — to build the building. And she sat down, and we were stunned. Stunned that she had done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.”


Media Freedom International