Author: Matt Ferner

Trump Fired The FBI Chief. Now An FBI Veteran Is Hired To Probe The Trump Team

THE HUFFINGTON POST One week after President Donald Trump fired the head of the FBI and raised fears about the future of the agency’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, the Department of Justice has appointed a widely admired former FBI director to lead an independent inquiry. The newly named special counsel, Robert Mueller, was James Comey’s predecessor as FBI director. He and Comey drew widespread attention, and admiration, in an infamous showdown during the George W. Bush administration. In March 2004, Attorney General John Ashcroft was in intensive care when White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and...

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Inmate’s Death In A Hot Shower Is Ruled An Accident. But Documents ‘Raise Problems.’

THE HUFFINGTON POST The June 2012 death of Darren Rainey, an inmate at the Dade Correctional Institution in South Florida, attracted national attention after other inmates claimed he was burned like “a boiled lobster” after about two hours in a shower that guards had modified to punish prisoners. A Florida prosecutor issued a 101-page report earlier this month that cleared guards of any wrongdoing in Rainey’s death. The prosecutor, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, called Rainey’s death an accident resulting from his schizophrenia and heart disease and from confinement in the shower room. But a trove of official documents...

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White House Opens Door To Crackdown On Recreational Marijuana

White House press secretary Sean Spicer suggested during a press conference Thursday that the federal government may crack down on states that have legalized recreational marijuana. Spicer explained that President Donald Trump sees the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana as two distinct issues. When it comes to medical marijuana, Spicer indicated that the president understands the importance of the drug’s availability, especially to those facing terminal diseases. But when it comes to recreational use, Spicer had a very different take, connecting recreational marijuana use to the opioid crisis currently ravaging the nation. “There’s a big difference between [medical marijuana] and recreational marijuana and I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be encouraging people ― there’s still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature,” Spicer said. When asked if the federal government will take action around recreational marijuana, Spicer said, “That’s a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it. Recreational use … is something the Department of Justice will be looking into.” Marijuana remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act, despite statewide efforts to scale back on criminalizing the plant over the past few years. Legal recreational...

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More Bomb Threats Close Jewish Community Centers Across The Nation

  Jewish Community Centers were shaken by another wave of bomb threats, forcing evacuations in nine states Monday. Eleven Jewish Community Centers received threatening calls Monday, said Marla Cohen, communications manager for JCCA, the Jewish Community Center Association. Law enforcement officials were investigating the threats and, as of late Monday, centers were being reopened after explosive devices were not found. For some of these organizations, it was not the first threat made in recent weeks. There have now been at least 67 incidents at 56 Jewish Community Centers in 27 states and one Canadian province since the start of 2017, Cohen told The Huffington Post. Monday’s incidents are part a sharp rise in threats made against JCCs around the nation since Donald Trump began his presidential campaign, which was frequently criticized for winking at white nationalists and not forcefully condemning hate speech and extremism. The far-right has become emboldened under Trump, and while the number of Americans who directly support hardened hate groups remains far lower than in earlier decades, the number of hate groups in America is rising, according to a recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate and extremism around the nation. Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project at SPLC, said that this series of bomb threats since the new year is “unprecedented.” “I’ve been working at SPLC since 1999. I’ve never seen a string...

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DOJ Announces Investigation Into Orange County DA And Sheriff’s Department Over Informant Scandal

LOS ANGELES ― The U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday that it has opened a civil investigation into the Orange County district attorney’s office and sheriff’s department over allegations that both agencies have violated the rights of numerous defendants through a tainted jailhouse informant program. “A systematic failure to protect the right to counsel and to a fair trial makes criminal proceedings fundamentally unfair and diminishes the public’s faith in the integrity of the justice system,” deputy assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. The investigation will focus on allegations that the OCDA and OCSD “systematically used jailhouse informants to elicit incriminating statements from specific inmates,” inmates who had been charged and were already represented by attorneys. The investigation will also examine if county prosecutors violated defendants’ rights to a fair trial by “failing to disclose promises of leniency that would have substantially undermined the credibility of the informants’ trial testimony.” Gupta said that the investigation will examine the facts and evidence to determine if the OCDA and OCSD “engaged in a pattern or practice of violating” defendants’ rights. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas had previously requested that the Justice Department review his office’s informant policies and practices, and the DOJ said Rackauckas has offered “unfettered access to documents and personnel.” For the past three years, the OCDA and...

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Robert Reich Warns A ‘Dark Cloud Of Illegitimacy’ Hangs Over Trump’s Presidency

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich says that a “dark cloud of illegitimacy” hangs over the pending presidency of Donald Trump, and that the only remedy is for Trump to release his tax returns and for the CIA to release its findings about alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election to help Trump win. This information must be released, Reich said, before the Electoral College casts its ballots next week. “The CIA has found credible evidence that Russia intervened in the election in order to help Trump become president,” Reich wrote in a Facebook post over the weekend ― referring to a recent CIA assessment, reported by The Washington Post, that Russia interfered in the U.S. election not merely to disrupt the American democratic system, but specifically to help Trump win the presidency. The former secretary, who served in the cabinet of President Bill Clinton, went on to outline several other disturbing questions that continue to plague the president-elect. Reich, now a public policy professor at the University of California, Berkeley, cited allegations that surfaced during the campaign that Trump owes “vast sums” of money to Russian oligarchs who have also invested in Trump’s various business enterprises. Trump has denied the charge, but Reich and others have speculated that it could explain why Trump has not disclosed his tax returns, which Reich said “would show evidence of these deals.” Then there are the...

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Trump Death Watch Clock