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Texas sheriff recommends criminal charges in DeSantis' plot to ship migrants to Martha's Vineyard
The Sheriff of Bexar County, Texas, Javier Salazar, has recommended charges in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' scheme to trick migrants in San Antonio onto a plane to dump them in Martha's Vineyard, reported the Miami Herald on Monday.
"Those flights last September sent 49 asylum seekers, most of them Venezuelans, from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts," reported Sarah Blaskey. "According to a statement provided to the Miami Herald, the Bexar County sheriff completed its criminal investigation into the on-the-ground operation that allegedly lured migrants onto the flights with false promises of jobs and opportunities on the other end. 'The case filed includes both felony and misdemeanor charges of Unlawful Restraint,' according to the statement. 'At this time, the case is being reviewed by the DA’s office. Once an update is available, it will be provided to the public.'"
Florida officials may have chosen Martha's Vineyard as a political statement, as former President Barack Obama's family owns an estate there. The unexpected dumping of migrants in the off-season island resort and fishing town off the coast of Cape Cod sent local residents scrambling to provide emergency food and shelter, and connect them with legal services, as no federal immigration offices exist on the island for them to check in with.
The final decision to issue charges would rest with the district attorney of Bexar County.
"Last fall, Salazar issued special certifications to all of the migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard declaring them to be official victims of a crime and paving the way for them to stay in the United States under a special visa for those helpful to law enforcement," said the report. "Unlawful restraint is a misdemeanor unless the victim is younger than 17 — as was the case for five of the migrants."
It remains unclear who exactly would face charges, but it could go as high as some top aides to DeSantis: "The migrant relocation program, using Florida tax dollars, was overseen by DeSantis’ chief of staff, James Uthmeier, and public safety czar Larry Keefe."
All of this comes as more planeloads of migrants are being unloaded in Sacramento, California, also having falsely been told they were being provided with work. California officials suspect may also be the work of the DeSantis administration and are threatening legal action.
'Prosecutors don’t believe in coincidences': former U.S. attorney on suspicious flood at Mar-a-Lago
CNN reported on Monday that a mysterious flood happened at Mar-a-Lago in October 2022 when the Justice Department was telling Donald Trump to preserve documents and the security footage at the country club.
The Washington Post reported last Tuesday on an incident with the security cameras and a member of the former president's staff.
"The employee allegedly had a conversation with an IT worker at the site about how the security cameras worked and how long images remained stored in the system," the Post reported, citing a person familiar with the investigation.
CNN explained that when the staff was draining the pool, it inadvertently flooded the room where the security footage was being kept.
"Prosecutors don’t believe in coincidences," said former U.S. Attorney Renato Mariotti. "It’s not surprising that they are very suspicious about the flooding of a room where Mar-a-Lago surveillance video logs were kept. A jury would likely be skeptical of this evidence as well."
However, a federal and state trial attorney took issue with the comment, saying that the jury might not hear the information at all unless the government can make such a case if they can't tie Trump to the incident.
Legal analysts have already suggested that Donald Trump obstructed justice by refusing to turn over the documents the first five times they were requested by the National Archives.
Trump claims he made a $75 million oil purchase that never happened: fact check
Former President Donald Trump boasted at a Fox event in Iowa last week about a massive purchase of oil he made during his presidency, as a contrast to President Joe Biden's energy policy.
“We had so much oil we didn’t know what to do with it. We bought a lot of it for very little for the strategic national reserves,” said Trump. “Think of it: 75 million barrels, and I bought it for peanuts, and Congress – I had to fight Congress, and the pricing was so crazy and so good.”
There's just one problem, according to CNN fact-checker Daniel Dale: Trump didn't buy 75 million barrels of oil.
"Trump did propose to buy 77 million barrels for the reserve in 2020 as oil prices cratered because of the Covid-19 pandemic. But the Democratic-controlled Congress rejected the $3 billion in funding that would have paid for the purchase, describing it as a subsidy to big oil companies," reported Dale.
"Various Republicans have since criticized the Democrats for blocking Trump’s proposal, arguing that they caused the country to miss a golden opportunity to fill the reserve while prices were unusually low. That’s fair game. But Trump boasted on Fox that he overcame the congressional opposition and did buy tens of millions of barrels at those prices. That’s not true."
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve declined under Biden, as the administration sold off barrels to ease global energy price shocks that drove up the price of gasoline sharply last summer. However, it also declined under Trump, from 696 million barrels to 638 million. The only purchase made for the reserve under the Trump administration was a restocking of 124,000 barrels in 2020.
Trump also claimed at the same event that the SPR is now "close to empty" under Biden, but that is false as well — just over 355 million barrels remain, which is a 40-year low but still more than half of what it was when Trump left office. And he claimed that Biden misused the reserve because it is just "meant for times of war." Not only is that not true — SPR is used for peacetime emergencies as well — but the Russian invasion of Ukraine was indeed a factor in the decision to release reserves.
The Biden administration is currently working to replenish the SPR, with a purchase of 3 million barrels last month.
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