By Nandita Bose, Steve Keating and Michael Martina WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden's administration is signaling it currently has no plans to bar American athletes' participation in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, despite mounting calls for the Games to be moved over China's human rights record. Rights advocacy groups and politicians have made demands for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to take the event out of China, casting a pall on Beijing's efforts to highlight the Games as Thursday marks one year from opening day. A group of U.S. Republican senators on Tuesday...
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Proud Boys member swore he was 'handing out Bibles' on Jan. 6 — but his ankle monitor suggested otherwise
Many of the accused and arrested people involved in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol were captured in photographs and videos either outside the building or inside. Others were shown in police body camera videos and even social media posts from their fellow attackers. But one man is, a convicted burglar, told his parole officer that his trip to Washington, D.C. was to help the Gideons International hand out Bibles.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Bryan Betancur is finally admitting that he went to Washington to join members of the Proud Boys in the attack on the Capitol.
According to the plea deal, Betancur went to the rally for former President Donald Trump and stormed the Capitol in the effort to stop the certification of the 2020 election for President-elect Joe Biden.
Betancur was described by the FBI as a white supremacist living with his mother in Silver Spring, Maryland, which is mere miles from the Washington, D.C. line. On Wednesday he was sentenced to just four months behind bars for his participation in the riot.
The main thing that helped the police nab him is that he was wearing an ankle monitor required by probation officials. So, Betancur was tracked from the Ellipse at the White House, marching to the U.S. Capitol, and then to Union Station.
Betancur's lawyer tried a plea that other Jan. 6 attackers have attempted, claiming that he bought into "a falsehood advertised to millions — that former Vice President Mike Pence had the power to overturn the ‘fraudulent election.'" The lawyer also said that Betancur “struggles with mental health issues, which he does not and cannot bring himself to discuss. Instead, he puts on a brave face," the Post reported.
Judge Timothy J. Kelly, who was appointed by Donald Trump in 2017, has been criticized for handing out low sentences in Jan. 6 cases. In this case, Betancur is going to jail for just four months.
"Prosecutor Maria Y. Fedor asked for a six-month term in her sentencing memo, saying Betancur’s Jan. 6 visit to Washington wasn’t the first time he lied to probation officials to get approval to leave Maryland," the report said. "After gaining permission to hand out Bibles for the Gideons in D.C. a month earlier, on Dec. 12, he took part in the Proud Boys’ violent pro-Trump rally in the District that day, Fedor said."
The U.S. Dept. of Justice served Donald Trump with a grand jury subpoena months before the FBI raided the former President’s Mar-a-Lago home Monday, according to a right wing media outlet.
News of the existence of the grand jury subpoena being served on Trump months ago comes from Just the News, a website created by John Solomon. Solomon is a longtime journalist who in 2019 was labeled by The Daily Beast as “the Trumpian right’s favorite ‘investigative reporter,'” and the “Trump-friendly scribe” whose “Biden-Ukraine conspiracies were cited multiple times in the whistleblower memo.”
“Many of his co-workers are ashamed to be associated with him,” The Daily Beast reported, citing “his questionable reporting, which often seems specifically tailored to stoke the flames of right-wing paranoia.”
Solomon on Thursday writes: “Two months before his Florida home was raided by the FBI, former President Donald Trump secretly received a grand jury subpoena for classified documents belonging to the National Archives, and voluntarily cooperated by turning over responsive evidence, surrendering security surveillance footage and allowing federal agents and a senior Justice Department lawyer to tour his private storage locker, according to a half dozen people familiar with the incident.”
If accurate, that’s news.
“Very clearly not the intention of that John Solomon article, but it inadvertently reflects very well upon the Justice Department,” NBC News Justice reporter covering the DOJ, Ryan J. Reilly observes. “A subpoena was issued to the former president of the United States and it held for nearly three months, until Trump’s own team publicly disclosed it!”
National security and civil liberties journalist Marcy Wheeler adds: “Here’s what propagandist John Solomon says FBI had reason to believe Trump didn’t turn over in the original 15 box collection of stolen documents: Correspondence with foreign leaders.”
She points to this section of Solomon’s article:
“The subpoena requested any remaining documents Trump possessed with any classification markings, even if they involved photos of foreign leaders, correspondence or mementos from his presidency.”
According to multiple news outlets, FBI agents carted away an additional 10 to 12 cartons on Monday, in addition to the 15 the National Archives was forced to travel to Mar-a-Lago to retrieve earlier this year.
Even Rupert Murdoch’s Trump-friendly New York Post on Tuesday reported a “showdown over the materials first erupted back in January when the National Archives said it had retrieved 15 boxes of White House records — including classified information — from Mar-a-Lago that Trump should have turned over when he left office. The feds took another 12 boxes of material on Monday.”
On Thursday, the Pensacola News Journal reported that that a public school teacher in Escambia County, Florida resigned after a school employee removed his classroom photos of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and abolitionist Harriett Tubman.
"The teacher, Michael James, emailed a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis and Escambia County Superintendent Tim Smith in which he wrote that a district employee removed pictures of historic Black American heroes from his classroom walls, citing the images as being 'age inappropriate,'" reported Colin Warren-Hicks. "Images that were removed from the bulletin board at O.J. Semmes Elementary School included depictions of Martin Luther King Jr., Harriett Tubman, Colin Powell and George Washington Carver, James said."
"It really floored me," said James. "I've been teaching special education for 15 years, and it just really floored me when she did that."
"James chose the board's theme because the majority of the students and the residents in the neighborhoods that surround O.J. Semmes are Black, and he wanted to motivate his students with inspirational leaders they could easily look up to and see themselves," said the report. "James, 61, of Daphne, Alabama, sent his letter to the governor Monday night. He officially resigned from his position as an exceptional student education teacher at O.J. Semmes Elementary School on Tuesday morning."
Florida is currently facing a statewide shortage of teachers. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has sought to alleviate the problem with a new program that lets military veterans be certified without the usual degree requirements, a move that is controversial with school officials.
This also comes as Republicans in Florida and around the country have passed laws designed to increasingly censor the topics that can be discussed in class, including the infamous "Don't Say Gay" law.