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GOP official indicted for human smuggling and sale of children in bizarre international fraud scheme

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On Wednesday, NBC News reported that Maricopa County assessor Paul Petersen has been indicted on 11 counts, including human smuggling and sale of a child, as part of a far-reaching international adoption fraud scheme.

Petersen, according to prosecutors, transported some 40 pregnant women from the Marshall Islands to Utah to give birth, and proceeded to sell the babies to U.S. families for $40,000. He also is accused of fraudulently billing Medicaid for the prenatal costs, by claiming the Marshallese women were residents of Arizona.

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A Republican, Peterson was first appointed to the position of Maricopa County assessor in 2013 after serving as the office’s liaison to the legislature, and won a regularly scheduled election unopposed in 2016.

His adoption law practice first came under scrutiny by the Honolulu Civil Beat in 2018. He was taken into custody by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Homeland Security Investigations, and officials from the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

“While Mr. Petersen is entitled to a presumption of innocence, our investigation uncovered evidence that he has committed horrible crimes,” said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. “Petersen’s illegal adoption scheme exploited highly vulnerable groups in two countries — the birth mothers and families in the Marshall Islands and the adoptive parents here in Utah.”

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2020 Election

GOP giving up trying to reclaim House seats as 2020 wipeout looms: report

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Faced with a ticket likely headed by an unpopular president and watching the Democrats rake in campaign cash ahead of the 2020 election, the Republican Party is conceding they will not win back the House by reclaiming seats they lost in the so-called 2018 "blue wave" election.

According to a report from Politico, Democratic candidates have been stockpiling massive amounts of cash to wage war in what is expected to be a high turnout election with Donald Trump as the face of the Republican Party and seats that the GOP thought they might have a shot at now appearing unattainable.

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Trump supporters cry bitter tears after bus company they never bothered paying leaves them stranded

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Hundreds of Trump supporters this week were left stranded by bus company U.S. Coachways after the organizers for a "March for Trump" rally in Washington D.C. failed to pay them.

The Daily Beast's Will Sommer reports that the Trump supporters had expected U.S. Coachways to pick them up and bring them to D.C. where they were set to rally against House Democrats' impeachment inquiry. After the buses never showed up, however, Trump supporters claimed that the bus company was part of a "deep state" conspiracy aimed at silencing their voices.

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Mick Mulvaney is Trump’s new fall guy on corruption — and Republicans just play along

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It's getting increasingly more difficult to keep track of all the new impeachable acts President Trump commits every day. And perhaps even more difficult to imagine the most outrageous thing he can do that the Republican Party would still defend.

This article first appeared in Salon.

It took almost two weeks, but the White House has finally admitting what everyone knew from day one: Trump demanded a quid pro quo from the Ukrainian government before releasing military aid authorized by Congress. Republicans have been denying the obvious, remaining willfully blind to a brazen scheme. That suddenly seems quaint, now that acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has confessed on live television that there was a quid pro quo.

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