Los Angeles (AFP) - With Los Angeles nightclubs closed, party promoters have turned to mansions in the Hollywood Hills to throw lavish, raucous and sometimes deadly gatherings that have enraged neighbors and local officials.Starting this weekend, Mayor Eric Garcetti has granted emergency powers to utility workers to cut electricity and water at sprawling homes dotted around the famous Hollywood sign that have "essentially become nightclubs" during the coronavirus pandemic."The consequences of these large parties ripple far beyond just those parties -- they repeat throughout our entire communit...
New evidence could be a big problem for John Durham's attempt to vindicate Bill Barr's conspiracy theories
In September 2020, attorney and cybersecurity specialist Michael Sussmann was charged with lying to the FBI — an indictment that resulted from Special Counsel John H. Durham’s probe of the 2016 Russia investigation. Now, according to New York Times reporter Charlie Savage, Sussmann’s defense team is asking for the trial date to be set sooner than what the prosecution has requested.
And the team defending Sussman, who was part of a firm working for the Democratic Party in 2016, argued in the new filing that the case against him is even weaker than it initially appeared.
In the initial indictment, the evidence for that claim was surprisingly thin. But Sussman's lawyers argued in the new filing that the charge is even less reliable than it initially appeared because other evidence in the Justice Department's possession undermines the case that Sussman lied.
'The indictment centered on a September 2016 meeting between Mr. Sussmann and James A. Baker, who was then the FBI’s general counsel," as Savage explained. "Mr. Sussmann relayed analysis by cybersecurity researchers who cited odd internet data they said appeared to reflect some kind of covert communications between computer servers associated with the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, a Kremlin-linked Russian financial institution."
Savage explained that according to Baker's own interview, it appears that Sussman never claimed he wasn't representing a client while speaking to the FBI:
In July 2019, Mr. Baker was interviewed by the Justice Department’s inspector general about the meeting. Mr. Baker stated, according to a two-page transcript excerpt, that Mr. Sussmann had brought him information “that he said related to strange interactions that some number of people that were his clients, who were, he described as I recall it, sort of cybersecurity experts, had found.”
The newly disclosed evidence also includes a page of a report Mr. Durham’s team made to summarize an interview they conducted with Mr. Baker in June 2020. According to that report, Mr. Baker did not say that Mr. Sussmann told him he was not there on behalf of any client. Rather, he said the issue never came up and he merely assumed Mr. Sussmann was not conveying the Alfa Bank data and analysis for any client.
If this evidence holds up and isn't undermined by additional evidence from Durham, it may be very difficult to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Sussman lied at all to the FBI. That would be a huge blow to Durham's credibility, and it would further undercut Bill Barr's hopes of having his conspiracy theories vindicated.
Justice Sotomayor slams 'highly questionable' reversal in qualified immunity case involving Louisiana cops
U.S. Supreme Court Assistant Justice Sonia Sotomayor recently weighed in on the Fifth Circuit's reversal in a qualified immunity case involving Louisiana police officers who brutally assaulted a man lying face down on the ground.
According to Law & Crime, Sotomayor described the ruling on the case, titled Tucker v. City of Shreveport, as "highly questionable" as she expressed support for Obama-appointed Circuit Judge Stephen A. Higginson's dissent.
“While this case does not meet our traditional criteria for certiorari, I write to note that the Fifth Circuit’s reversal of the District Court’s detailed order denying qualified immunity appears highly questionable for the reasons set forth by Judge Higginson’s thorough dissenting opinion,” Sotomayor concluded.
According to Tucker v. City of Shreveport, when Gregory Tucker was initially pulled over for broken tail light and license plate light, he "was violently pulled to the ground, causing his face to bleed as it smacked against the concrete. He suffered numerous injuries as a result."
While apprehended face down and not resisting, the officers “'repeatedly' punched and kicked, 'ostensibly in order to gain control of his hands and complete the arrest,'” according to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. The court's assessment also indicated that the officers "'each punched Tucker at least once, and William McIntire kicked him at least three times' as Tucker was 'kicking his legs while on the ground and was not laying still in order to allow himself to be handcuffed.'”
Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Erny Foote insisted that the minor offense Tucker was pulled over for did not warrant the type of behavior displayed by the officers. She also determined that the officers' actions were unjustifiable Fourth Amendment violations.
“The misdemeanor and traffic violations of which he was suspected did not of themselves warrant a particularly high degree of force,” Foote wrote. “Once he landed on the ground, four officers surrounded him and were able to handcuff him in less than a minute; the fact that there were four officers and that Tucker was on the ground where he had less room to maneuver suggests a reduced threat to officer safety.”
The court stated:
It is undisputed that as a result of Defendant Officers’ actions, Tucker cut his forehead and strained his left shoulder. While these injuries are unlikely to be sufficiently severe if the takedown and subsequent blows were reasonable, if the police maneuvers selected were unreasonable, then these injuries may be of constitutional significance. Moreover, one can clearly hear on the video a change in the tone of Tucker’s voice; the sound is that of a man in significant pain. Tucker has also testified that he had a black eye for several days after the incident, a headache, and a “sprung” knee. More significantly, he has testified to psychological damage, including extreme fear of the police that affects his ability to navigate the world. Because the Court must make inferences in Tucker’s favor on summary judgment, the Court finds that he has established a constitutional injury.
However, Foote's assessment was overruled by the Fifth Circuit. “It is only with respect to the legal significance of those facts where we ultimately part ways with the district court,” said Circuit Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt wrote, who was appointed by Former President George W. Bush.
The judge wrote, “Considering the record in this manner, we find the district court erred in concluding that the conduct of Officers McIntire and Cisco—in taking Tucker to the ground—was objectively unreasonable in light of pertinent clearly established law in November 2016."
The House Select Committee investigating the January 6th Capitol riot has apparently lost patience with former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows.
On Tuesday afternoon, the committee released a statement slamming Meadows for backing out of cooperating with them despite writing publicly in his new book about former President Donald Trump's response to the riots.
"Mark Meadows has informed the Select Committee that he does not intend to cooperate further despite his apparent willingness to provide details about the January 6th attack, including conversations with President Trump, in the book he is now promoting and selling," the committee said. "The Select Committee has numerous questions for Mr. Meadows about records he has turned over to the Committee with no claim of privilege, which include real-time communications with many individuals as the events of January 6th unfolded."
The committee then warned Meadows of severe consequences should he remain defiant.
"Tomorrow’s deposition will go forward as planned," the committee said. "If indeed Mr. Meadows refuses to appear, the Select Committee will be left no choice but to advance contempt proceedings and recommend that the body in which Meadows once served refer him for criminal prosecution.