According to a report from the New York Times, close associates of Donald Trump have been raking in tens of thousands of dollars from wealthy felons seeking a presidential pardon before the president steps down next week.
In his waning weeks in office, the president has been pardoning close associates who were either facing criminal charges tied to his 2016 election or were already serving time.
According to the latest report from the NYT's Michael Schmidt and Jonathan Vogel, based on documents and interviews with more than three dozen lobbyists and attorneys, the market for pardons has increased ever since it became apparent the president would be leaving office.
"The pardon lobbying heated up as it became clear that Mr. Trump had no recourse for challenging his election defeat, lobbyists and lawyers say," the report states. "One lobbyist, Brett Tolman, a former federal prosecutor who has been advising the White House on pardons and commutations, has monetized his clemency work, collecting tens of thousands of dollars, and possibly more, in recent weeks to lobby the White House for clemency for the son of a former Arkansas senator; the founder of the notorious online drug marketplace Silk Road; and a Manhattan socialite who pleaded guilty in a fraud scheme."
The report also notes that Trump's former personal attorney, John Dowd has been "marketing" himself to potential clients seeking pardons and that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani also has been implicated.
"A onetime top adviser to the Trump campaign was paid $50,000 to help seek a pardon for John Kiriakou, a former C.I.A. officer convicted of illegally disclosing classified information, and agreed to a $50,000 bonus if the president granted it, according to a copy of an agreement," the Times is reporting. "And Mr. Kiriakou was separately told that Mr. Trump's personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani could help him secure a pardon for $2 million. Mr. Kiriakou rejected the offer, but an associate, fearing that Mr. Giuliani was illegally selling pardons, alerted the F.B.I. Mr. Giuliani challenged this characterization."
According to Margaret Love, who worked on clemency issues in the Justice Department from 1990 until 1997, "This kind of off-books influence peddling, special-privilege system denies consideration to the hundreds of ordinary people who have obediently lined up as required by Justice Department rules, and is a basic violation of the longstanding effort to make this process at least look fair."
The Times reported that the White House had no comment when asked about the allegations.
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The social-media network Gab -- the most recent refuge for conservative and alt-right extremists -- has been victimized by a massive hack, including private data, Wired.com has reported.
The transparency group DDoSecrets says it will make the 70 GB of passwords, private posts, and more available to researchers, journalists, and social scientists, according to Wired.
A white supremacist leader was caught on camera assaulting a Black security guard shortly after one of his associates referred to the guard as a "monkey."
Australia's The Age reports that Thomas Sewell, a leader of the far-right National Socialist Network, assaulted the security guard after the guard had forced him and his associate to vacate the Channel Nine building in Melbourne.
Christian leaders need to admit to their role in the Capitol terrorism – according to a former ‘soldier of the apocalypse’
In a column for Time magazine, a Georgetown professor who was brought up as an evangelical Christian in Arkansas said that the Christian community needs to take a good hard look at itself and decide if it wants to get back to the teachings of Christ or travel further down the road to Christian-based right-wing extremism.
Under a dramatic headline announcing, "I, Too, Was Once a Soldier of the Apocalypse," Charles King wrote that he was brought up in a church that taught, "You should shun Procter & Gamble products because there was a hidden 666, the mark of the beast, inside the company logo. If you played certain rock songs backwards, you would hear entreaties to smoke marijuana.," and showed a movie that suggested, "what would happen when the United Nations was given free rein during the coming Tribulation, as forecast in the Book of Revelation. The global government would lop off the heads of those who honored Jesus and refused to bow to state tyranny."
With that in mind, he wrote that the culture -- both regional and faith-based -- bears a striking similarity to the views expressed by some of the rioters who stormed the nation's Capitol on Jan. 6th leaving death and destruction behind.
The story we told ourselves was all bravery and justice. A devil-serving elite was arrayed against us, so we geared up for battle against 'the world,' the term for everyone else," he wrote. "But we assumed that when Christ returned and set up his kingdom, people like us—white and righteous—would be first in line at his heavenly palace."
Admitting that some Christian leaders have made statements condemning the Jan 6th. insurrection, he wrote that the need to do more.
"White evangelical leaders and their communities must lead a deep process of inward-looking discernment. It is beyond time for a new Reformation inside evangelical Christianity, one that will reject the holy war against liberals, journalists, scientists, non-believers, and other actual human beings," he suggested.
In particular, he suggested the churches need to weed out, "committed supporters of Trump [who] share a worldview that might be described as radical Christianism, an outlook on politics and culture that has remained largely unchanged for decades. It traffics in conspiracy and encourages distrusting one's own eyes and ears. "
King suggested the time is now for reflection on where evangelicals went wrong.
"Today, Christian leaders who once took Islam to task for its alleged role in fomenting terrorism among a small group of extremists should now look in the mirror. When religion fuses with grievance and existential struggle, it can be a powerful motivator for action," he wrote before making several recommendations.
"There are pathways to healing. Church leaders can organize de-radicalization programs modeled on those used successfully by some mosques. They can break the God-and-guns nexus that twists legitimate sporting equipment into a holy relic. Internet literacy classes and addiction recovery groups can help older Christians use online information and social media responsibly,." he wrote. "Ministers can speak openly about conspiracy theories and the sin of white nationalism. Preaching along these lines isn't 'being political.' It is speaking directly to the burdens and temptations that are harming the people sitting in the pews."
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