By Andy Sullivan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic U.S. senators and President Joe Biden have agreed to place an income limit on Americans who would receive stimulus payments under his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, according to media reports and lawmakers on Wednesday. That comes as the Democratic-controlled Senate expects to open debate as early as Wednesday, with a final vote for passage seen later in the week. Biden has agreed to limit the income eligibility for individuals receiving the $1,400 in financial aid under the legislation, the Washington Post reported Wednesday. It di...
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Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) on Sunday insisted that he did not mean to disrespect President Joe Biden when he suggested that someone else is in charge of the federal government.
Fox News host Chris Wallace asked Cornyn about the tweet during an interview on Fox News Sunday.
"My question," Wallace asked, "is that helpful to be sending out a tweet questioning President Biden's mental faculties?"
"Well, Chris, thank you for the question," Cornyn replied. "Because I think there's been a lot of confusion in the Twitterverse about that. That actually was a quote from a Politico story that I pasted into a tweet and then I simply asked a question."
"What I'm trying to do is reconcile the Joe Biden we heard from on Jan. 20th, the Joe Biden that many of us know from his previous service in the United States Senate from the Joe Biden we're seeing now jamming through $1.9 trillion of spending bills," the Texas Republican added. "I've learned in Washington, you not only need to listen to what people say, you need to watch what they do. And so far, there's a conflict I'm trying to reconcile and I bet I'm not the only one."
Wallace pressed: "Do you have questions as to whether or not Joe Biden is really in charge and whether, frankly, he's up to the job?"
"That tweet was not meant to suggest anything about the president's competency -- physical or mental," Cornyn insisted. "I know some people have suggested that and that certainly wasn't my intention. I simply tried to reconcile the rhetoric with the reality. And we need the reality to match the rhetoric and it's not matching right now."
Watch the video below from Fox News.
Poor, pitiful Roger Stone.
Oh, what a fall from grace it has been for the Prince of Darkness, the Dirty Trickster, Roger Dodger the Artful Codger. Call him what you will (he's said to like the first one), Stone has suddenly pivoted to a new persona.
Meet Roger Stone, downtrodden political martyr. Here's how he is spinning his suffering at -- where else? -- the Roger Stone Legal Defense Fund:
"As a Victim of The Mueller Witch Hunt, I Have Been Drained of All My Resources," Stone blubbered to his followers.
"For me and my family, the Mueller Witch Hunt never seems to end- even after the President of the United States saw through the corruption and unfairness of my railroading in a DC Courtroom and granted me a commutation and ultimately a full pardon.
"For three years I was smeared by CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times and the Washington Post and the rest of the fake news media, hunted, terrorized, silenced, de-platformed, gagged, censored, harassed, persecuted, and forced into poverty by the corrupt politically-motivated Mueller witch hunt.
"Now the same corrupt cabal of media leftists and their Democrat allies are seeking to frame and destroy me again." In recent days the exact same fake media outlets seek to imply that I was involved in or knew about the storming of the Capitol on January 6th. This is categorically false and a smear, based solely on naked "guilt by association", sly innuendo and baseless supposition. It did not happen.
"Now these same Trump-hating leftists are once again demanding I be prosecuted in connection to the January 6th storming of the Capitol, an event I was not present for and have no knowledge of or connection to!"
Stone's plea conveniently left out a few details. One, was the part about a jury in that DC courtroom having found him guilty in November 2019 of all seven charges he faced: Five counts of lying to Congress, one count of witness tampering and one count of obstruction of a proceeding. That was a jury. Not Mueller. Not the media.
Stone also forgot to mention that his current financial plight owes to the IRS closing in on him regarding tax liabilities dating back a decade prior to the Mueller probe. Here's the crux of Stone's newest (and not small) problem, as reported Friday by Newsweek:
"The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against former President Donald Trump's ally and confidante Roger Stone on Friday, alleging that Stone avoided paying about $2 million in taxes and fees to fund his "lavish lifestyle."
"The suit claims that Stone and his wife Nydia Stone used the company Drake Ventures as an "alter ego" to avoid paying $1,590,361.89 in taxes, interest and fees for the tax years 2007 to 2011, along with another $407,036.84 for the 2018 tax year.
"Although they used funds held in Drake Ventures accounts to pay some of their taxes, the Stones' use of Drake Ventures to hold their funds allowed them to shield their personal income from enforced collection and fund a lavish lifestyle despite owing nearly $2 million in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties," the complaint states. "As the Stones' alter ego, Drake Ventures is liable for the taxes."
"The complaint goes on to note that Drake Ventures is "dominated and controlled" by the Stones to such an extent that it "does not exist as an independent entity," with the company having no website or phone number and the Stones' private residence listed as the address. Nydia Stone is said to be listed as the managing member of Drake Ventures, while all other members are also members of the Stone family."
"They purchased the residence shortly after Roger Stone's indictment and placed it in the name of the Bertran Trust just prior to defaulting on their installment agreement with the IRS," the suit claims. "The Stones have long owed back taxes, and they have been parties to numerous installment agreements, some of which were terminated by the IRS. They were aware that their default would result in IRS collection activity."
"In addition to repayment of the unpaid taxes and fees, the DOJ is seeking that the house the Stones transferred to the trust be declared their own property rather than that of the trust, allowing it to be included in tax liens that could collect the unpaid balances."
Perhaps it's understandable that Stone would fail to mention any of that. It's a bit awkward to be trying to blame federal prosecutors and media leftists for all those IRS tax delinquencies -- and related shenanigans -- from a previous decade.
Besides, Stone apparently views another cause as riper for fund-raising purposes: The January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. While ignoring his enormous IRS problem, Stone's urgent plea for help spins his need for lawyers to fend off still another political persecution:
"Because, by the grace of God, I escaped the devilish deadly snare set for me by Congressman Adam Schiff and Robert Mueller's dirty cops, the hysterical demand for my blood on Twitter has reached epic proportions. There are literally thousands of butthurt leftists screaming for my blood- despite the total lack of evidence that I knew about or was involved in this appalling act of lawlessness.
"That's why I need your help. Please contribute to the STONE LEGAL DEFENSE FUND to help prepare to fend off this malicious assault on me once again.
"We lost our home, our savings, my car and most of our insurance in my epic fight for freedom list year. Being banned for life on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram has made it virtually impossible to sell my books online- my main source of income in the two years in which I awaited trial. I simply do not have the personal resources to fight yet another legal battle where I have done nothing whatsoever wrong."
How could anyone read that without tearing up? How is this poor man -- homeless, car-less, drained of all his resources -- supposed to carry on epic fights for freedom?
One way, apparently, was to jet off from Florida to Washington DC, stay at a posh hotel -- presumably serving the "impoverished" -- and hang out innocently with members of the Oath Keepers militia group. Mind you, without knowing who they are, except for the fact they had "graciously" offered to provide free security services for a few days.
Stone was famously videotaped on January 6 in front of that hotel talking with these perfect strangers.
ABC News had this report in February:
"In the video, which was obtained and reviewed by ABC News, Stone takes pictures and mingles with supporters outside a D.C. hotel as Oath Keepers hover around him, one wearing a baseball hat and military-style vest branded with the militia group's logo.
"So, hopefully we have this today, right?" one supporter asks Stone in the video, which was posted just after 10 a.m. on the morning of the rally. "We shall see," Stone replies.
"It is not known to what they were referring.
"Stone has maintained that he played "no role whatsoever in the Jan. 6 events" and has repeatedly said that he "never left the site of my hotel until leaving for Dulles Airport" that afternoon. He has also decried attempts to ascribe to him the motives of the people around him."
Since the ABC report, the FBI has charged one of the men in the video, Roberto Minuta of Texas, in connection with the riot.
Prosecutors told a federal judge "Minuta came to the Capitol dressed in gear identifying him as a member of the right-wing Oath Keepers group — citing a video in which he appears with Stone that morning," the Washington Post reported. And there was this:
"The Justice Department and the FBI are investigating whether Stone and other high-profile right-wing figures played a role in the insurrection by promoting false claims that the election was stolen from former president Donald Trump. Stone, a longtime Trump friend and adviser, was involved in some events on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 but says they were peaceful protests.
"While investigators are interested in how the rioters became radicalized, they caution that criminal charges against Stone and others who spread misinformation are a distant prospect given case law on incitement and free speech."
At least two other Oath Keepers arrested in connection with the riot were pictured with Stone in December, the Post reported in a separate story.
Stone can't be troubled with any of that stuff. He's on a higher mission.
"Because of my unique perspective, I have an obligation to let the world know what happened to me and hold those responsible for abusing the system professionally accountable for their actions. But this does not come cheap and your donations are more vital than ever.
"As if fighting the government was not enough, throughout this whole ordeal, the DNC, former DNC employees, Larry Klayman, and Jerry Corsi have filed numerous and meritless lawsuits against me all over the country. With your donations and the help of expensive and skillful counsel, I have been able to beat back some of them, while some of them continue to be litigated. Your donations are also still needed to defend me from these attempts to bankrupt my family.
"Defending myself in court against the Mueller railroading and the other attacks on me cost almost $3M. Today the coffers are virtually bare. Once again I urgently need your help. Please consider making a contribution to my legal defense fund today."
Stone's tone certainly has changed since 2019. Perhaps you might recall the witness tampering thing, as it made for some reasonably colorful news coverage thanks to a more swaggering Stone.
Prosecutors presented evidence that Stone had threatened radio host Randy Credico, saying he would steal his little service dog if Credico didn't "do a Frank Pentangeli" (refuse, just like a mobster in "The Godfather," to testify before Congress).
"Stone wrote in an email to Credico, "You are a rat. A stoolie. You backstab your friends-run your mouth my lawyers are dying Rip you to shreds."
Now that 2019 quote didn't sound at all like today's whiny victim begging his supporters for charity. But that's not the important point, no more than Stone's need for cash is related to past IRS delinquencies. This is about the man's terrifying legal bills.
You see, as Stone is quick to point out, lawyers who rip people to shreds aren't cheap. These are practitioners with rare skill sets. They need to be cold and tough and willing to hurt people. They also need to be calculating enough to change their tune when the moment suits.
Just like Roger Stone.
According to a report from the Associated Press, lawyers for several of Jan. 6th Capitol rioters now facing jail time for storming the halls of Congress are asserting their clients were not part of a deadly insurrection but were working as "journalists" recording the action that day.
After having handed prosecutors a treasure trove of photos and videos of themselves taking part in the chaos of the day, participants are looking to duck responsibility with a legal strategy that appears dubious.
'It's unlikely that any of the self-proclaimed journalists can mount a viable defense on the First Amendment's free speech grounds, experts say," the report states. "They face long odds if video captured them acting more like rioters than impartial observers. But as the internet has broadened and blurred the definition of a journalist, some appear intent on trying."
Adding, "At least eight defendants charged in the Jan. 6 riot have identified themselves as a journalist or a documentary filmmaker, including three people arrested this month, according to an Associated Press review of court records in nearly 400 federal cases.," AP notes one participant in particular who is pushing his case.
"One defendant, Shawn Witzemann, told authorities he was inside the Capitol during the riot as part of his work in livestreaming video at protests and has since argued that he was there as a journalist. That explanation did not sway the FBI. The plumber from Farmington, New Mexico, is charged with joining in demonstrating in the Capitol while Congress was certifying Joe Biden's electoral victory over Donald Trump," AP reported.
According to Lucy Dalglish, dean of the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism, the rioters don't have much of a case.
Saying, "any defendant captured on video encouraging rioters cannot credibly claim to be a journalist," she told AP, "You are, at that point, an activist with a cellphone, and there were a lot of activists with copyrighted videos who sold them to news organizations. That doesn't make them journalists."
You can read more here.
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