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'I haven't seen him': Matt Gaetz skips GOP conference meeting where lawmakers pretend he doesn't exist
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) reportedly skipped a weekly Republican conference meeting on Wednesday where lawmakers declined to discuss the allegations against him.
Gaetz has been linked to a Department of Justice investigation into sex trafficking and other allegations.
CNN's Manu Raju first reported that Gaetz had not shown up for the weekly meeting. Raju noted that Gaetz was not discussed at the meeting.
Rep. Matt Gaetz didn't attend the House Republican Conference's weekly meeting this morning, per multiple sources - and there was no discussion of his conduct. GOP keeping distance from Gaetz as the investigation plays out
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) April 14, 2021
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) was asked about Gaetz at a press conference later in the morning.
"We've heard a lot of stories," Scalise explained. "There's been nothing yet from the Department of Justice. If something is going on, obviously we'll find out about it. Right now, it's hard to speculate on rumors but if something really formal happens from Justice we of course will react and take action."
"I haven't talked to him to get his explanation of what's been alleged," he continued. "I haven't seen him. We just had a conference meeting... he wasn't there in the room. I'm not sure if he was on the Zoom [teleconference]."
Bernie Madoff, the mastermind behind the worst financial scam in history, died in jail at age 82 on Wednesday, US prison officials said.
Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison in 2009 for running a pyramid-style scheme that defrauded tens of thousands of people around the world.
The scheme was estimated to be worth around $63 billion.
"We can confirm Bernard Madoff passed away on April 14, 2021, at the Federal Medical Center (FMC) Butner, North Carolina," an official with the federal Bureau of Prisons told AFP in an email.
The statement said the cause of death needed to be determined by a medical examiner.
In February 2020, Madoff's lawyer said the disgraced Wall Street financier was terminally ill and wanted to leave prison to die.
Attorney Brandon Sample said Madoff was suffering from "terminal kidney disease, among other serious medical conditions."
"The Bureau of Prisons concluded in September 2019 that Madoff has less than 18 months to live because of the terminal nature of his kidney failure," Sample wrote.
The Washington Post reported then that Madoff needed a wheelchair and 24-hour care.
He asked for compassionate release so he could mend fences with his grandchildren and die at home but the request was rejected by the prisons bureau.
"I've served 11 years already, and, quite frankly, I've suffered through it," Madoff told the paper in an interview.
"You know, there hasn't been a day in prison that I haven't felt the guilt for the pain I caused on the victims and for my family," he said.
A pyramid, or Ponzi, scheme is a form of fraud in which returns on investments are generated only by bringing in fresh investments from new victims. Cash from new clients is used to pay existing clients until the scheme eventually collapses.
Madoff's fraud was revealed during the financial crisis in 2008 when he was unable to satisfy growing client demands to withdraw their investments, and many lost their savings or were unable to retire.
New Yorker Madoff never invested a single cent of the money the scheme's clients trusted him with, instead using money from new investors to pay older ones.
US authorities have seized about $4 billion related to Madoff and aim to return it to tens of thousands of his victims around the world.
The Madoff Victim Fund will disburse payments to more than 30,000 people around the world who were cheated out of their investments by the crooked financier between the 1970s and 2000s, the US Justice department has said.
© 2021 AFP
A group of anti-maskers in Sandpoint, Idaho this week protested a local library and criticized it for making "health and safety" its top priority.
The Bonner County Daily Bee reports that protesters gathered this week to demand that the Sandpoint Library rescind its mask mandate and let them into the library without any kind of face covering.
Protester Grant Dorman, for one, criticized the library's policy of prioritizing the health of its staff and patrons.
"The first sentence of the [library board] policy states, 'the health and safety of employees and patrons is our highest priority,'" he said. "This ideology is the view of the board. And while health and safety [are] important, it surely isn't the most important thing in everyone's view."
Another protester, identified only as Robert R., expressed incredulity that more people in the city didn't believe his claims that masks were actually harmful to people who wear them.
"What I encounter is people who have no idea what I'm talking about, and their standard questions, 'oh, where do you get your information?'" he said. "I can tell you, it doesn't come from CNN and it doesn't come from Google."
In the end, however, the library refused to back down from its policy and reminded the anti-maskers that it offers pick-up services to people who don't want to wear masks.
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