No surprise here.
President Trump retweeted a conspiracy theory Saturday evening alleging without evidence that former President Bill Clinton was in some way connected to the death of millionaire financier and alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, and his aides saw it coming from a mile away, The Daily Beast reports.
Epstein’s death was ruled a suicide after he was found dead in his prison cell on Saturday morning, but it has sparked several conspiracy theories already, most centered on foul play, which the FBI has said it has no indication of.
But Trump’s apparently on board. The president retweeted a post by comedian and conservative commentator Terrance K. Williams that contained a video of Williams arguing that “somebody got paid not to do” their job, deeming it incomprehensible as to how someone on suicide watch would be able to harm themselves. At the time of his death, however, Epstein was no longer on suicide watch.
Trump’s advisers were reportedly expecting the president to dive into the conspiracy theories. One White House official told The Daily Beast that they assumed the president would say or tweet something about Clinton-centric conspiracies as soon as they started filtering out onto the internet, including from longtime Trump ally and Department of Housing and Urban Development official Lynne Patton. The general consensus among his advisers, however, is that there’s nothing they can do about it until he grows bored and moves on to something else. Read more at The Daily Beast. Tim O’Donnell
New Zealanders have turned in more than 10,000 firearms in the 1st month of post-shooting buyback
New Zealand Police/Getty Images
Police in New Zealand said Monday that as of Sunday, 10,242 firearms have been surrendered under a government gun-buyback program launched July 13, and another 1,269 have been turned in under a no-questions-asked amnesty. New Zealand’s Parliament banned most automatic and semiautomatic weapons in April, on a vote of 119 to 1, following the murder of 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch in March. The suspect, a white nationalist who has pleaded not guilty, purchased his weapons legally in New Zealand after getting a gun license in 2017.
The gun buyback scheme was signed into law in June, and since its launch in July, police have held more than 90 events around the country, attended by 7,180 gun owners, police said. “We have been really happy with New Zealand’s engagement and response to this process and we look forward to more people taking part in the buyback scheme over the coming months.” The buyback program, expected to cost up to $200 million, sets fixed prices for each type of firearm, high-capacity magazine, and parts that convert firearms into semi-automatic weapons.
Gun owners have until Dec. 20 to hand over the banned weapons. There are no hard numbers for how many guns are in New Zealand and how many of them are automatic or semi-automatic — you have to register to own a firearm in New Zealand but don’t register your weapons — but police estimate that there are 1.2 million to 1.4 million guns in circulation. Australia held a gun buyback program after a gunman killed 35 people in 1996, and about 640,000 newly banned weapons were recovered, CNN reports. Peter Weber
It wasn’t all bad
FBI agent reunited with abducted baby — now a Marine — he helped rescue decades ago
After spending decades wondering about the baby he rescued 22 years ago, retiring FBI agent Troy Sowers was finally able to give Stewart Rembert — now a corporal in the Marine Corps — a hug.
In 1997, a woman pretending to be a nurse abducted a newborn Rembert from the hospital. Sowers had only been with the FBI for a few months when he was tasked with finding Rembert, and after tracking down the woman, Sowers and other law enforcement officials were able to get her to reveal that she had left Rembert in a box behind a restaurant in Tacoma, Washington. “It’s crazy to think that without his efforts, I wouldn’t even be here today,” Rembert told NBC News. “I wouldn’t be a Marine. My family wouldn’t be the same.”
Sowers is now based in Knoxville, Tennessee, and wanting to give him a special send-off, his colleagues found Rembert and invited him to Sowers’ retirement celebration on Friday. Rembert said he was “honored” to meet Sowers, and Sowers called this “probably one of the best surprises I’ve ever had.” They shook hands and shared a hug, with Sowers remembering that after Rembert was found, a senior agent told him, “You’ll never do anything better than that.” Catherine Garcia
Dinesh D’Souza tried to use his time behind bars to bolster Epstein conspiracy theory, failed
Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative commentator and provocateur, was last in the news for receiving a pardon from President Trump, though he still says odd things on Fox News. Over the weekend, D’Souza tried to leverage his eight months in a federal correctional center to lend authority to the bizarre, evidently Trump-endorsed conspiracy theory that the Clintons might be responsible for Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide.
Taking on the Obama-Clinton gang is a health hazard. When I was in federal confinement for eight months, I was more afraid of something like this—drugs “found” in my locker, an “apparent” suicide—than I was of the murderers, rapists & gang members who were my fellow inmates
— Dinesh D’Souza (@DineshDSouza) August 10, 2019
Twitter wasn’t having it. Some commentators said if you’re going to chase conspiracy theories, the sitting president — whose Justice Department was in charge of Epstein in prison — had pretty close ties to the late alleged sex trafficker, and others said D’Souza was mostly reminding people he is a convicted felon (he pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations in 2014). Some people noted that D’Souza actually survived his incarceration unharmed, undermining his case, while others pointed out that he hardly served hard time.
Dinesh went to prison like Epstein went to prison in 2008:
“D’Souza, 53, was ordered by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan to live in a center, which would allow him to leave during non-residential hours for employment”
— Ned Pyle (@NerdPyle) August 10, 2019
D’Souza conceded that point when someone dared him to admit he served time “in prison,” and that didn’t go well for his argument, either:
Well, if “Confinement centers are not prison”, how come you had “murderers, rapists & gang members” as fellow inmates then?
— Jorge Teixeira (@JorgeCVTeixeira) August 10, 2019
And when one replier tweeted, “It blows my mind this guy has an audience,” D’Souza chose to respond again.
my favorite thing about this guy is how he somehow thinks he’s important enough to be suicided by the state, yet he still replies to people who “languish in total obscurity” on his twitter feed. delusion with a microphone.
— Harry Cherry (@yourfriendnickb) August 10, 2019
Twitter is no place for thin skin. Peter Weber
Trump reportedly likes sending Justin Trudeau notes, via snail mail
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
President Trump once sent a note to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that was so odd, the Canadian ambassador had to contact the White House to make sure it was legitimate and not the work of a prankster, Axios reports.
In May 2017, Trump saw an issue of Bloomberg Businessweek with Trudeau’s photo on the cover, underneath the headline “The Anti-Trump,” four people with knowledge of the matter told Axios. He ripped the cover off, grabbed a silver Sharpie, and scribbled something along the lines of, “Looking good! Hope it’s not true!” Thinking this was weird, White House staffers weren’t sure if Trump should send the cover, but they relented, thinking it would be received positively. It was sent to the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., where the ambassador, believing this was the work of anyone but the president of the United States, called the White House for confirmation, Axios reports.
That wasn’t the only piece of mail Trudeau received from his unsolicited pen pal, and in one case, he responded. In December 2017, Trump falsely claimed the U.S. had a trade deficit with Canada, and sent Trudeau a document that tried to prove this, a person with knowledge of the matter told Axios. Trudeau mailed a letter back on his official stationery, wishing Trump a lovely holiday season, with a P.S., writing that Trump was “slightly off on the balance of trade with Canada. USTR says so!”
Trudeau enclosed a printout from the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s website, and circled the part that read “U.S. goods and services trade surplus with Canada was $12.5 billion in 2016,” Axios reports. Next to it, Trudeau couldn’t help but draw a smiley face. Catherine Garcia
Simone Biles wins 6th U.S. gymnastics title, defies gravity with never-attempted moves just because she can
Simone Biles won her sixth U.S. women’s gymnastics national title on Sunday night, her overall two-day score — 118,500 — five points higher than No. 2 Sunisa Lee and about eight points ahead of third-place finisher Grace McCallum. Winning was nothing new for Biles, 22, who has triumphed in every meet she’s participated in since the 2013 nationals. “But a move on floor exercise so difficult no other woman has done it and very few men even try it?” says Nancy Armour at USA Today. “Now that made it a night to remember.”
Biles nailed that gravity-defying move, her triple-twisting double flip, during her floor routine Sunday night. The” triple-double” was “the exclamation point of another dazzling performance that showcased just how wide the gulf between Biles and the rest of the world has become,” The Associated Press says. She got “so much height on the move the folks in the first half-dozen rows had to crane their necks to see her,” Armour adds. “Someone could have parked an SUV on the floor and Biles would have cleared it easily. Take that, NBA Dunk Contest participants.”
RESPECT THAT, BOW DOWN @Simone_Biles keeps making history! First woman to land a triple double in competition on floor
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) August 12, 2019
And the triple-double was the second move no woman had even tried before in competition. On Friday night, Biles landed a double-twisting, double-somersault (“double-double”) dismount on balance beam.
Congrats to Simone Biles!
She is the FIRST person in HISTORY to perform a double-double dismount on a beam pic.twitter.com/ukoAE2K7SO
— MEFeater Magazine (@mefeater) August 10, 2019
Biles took the top scores on floor, vault, and balance beam events, and placed third on bars, her least-favorite event and her final dismount of the 2018 nationals.
Watch her work @Simone_Biles is a true legend. pic.twitter.com/KOTJ3xIgt3
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) August 12, 2019
“When she came back to gymnastics after taking a year off following the Rio Olympics, it wasn’t because she wanted more medals or had anything left to prove” — she has more titles than any gymnast, male or female, and plenty of Olympic gold, Armour writes. “No, Biles wanted to challenge herself, to see how much she could wring out of her otherworldly talent.” That “pursuit is symbolized by the idea to include the triple-double,” AP adds. “Mathematically, she didn’t need to add it to maintain her advantage over the rest of the world. Instead, she did it just to see if she could.” Peter Weber
crisis in venezuela
In Venezuela, Guaidó says Maduro’s government plans on dissolving opposition-led legislature
Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó announced on Twitter Sunday night that on Monday, President Nicolás Maduro’s government plans on dissolving the opposition-run National Assembly.
The country has long been in turmoil, with the United States and other countries accusing Maduro of holding fraudulent elections last year and recognizing Guaidó as the rightful president. Guaidó leads the National Assembly, and says the Constituent Assembly, which is a parallel legislature run by the ruling Socialist Party, also aims to “illegally convene parliamentary elections or even begin mass persecution of legislators. If they do what they intend to do tomorrow, the result will be a phase of escalated conflict.” Parliamentary elections aren’t scheduled until December 2020.
The head of the Constituent Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, tweeted that the session will take place tomorrow, and if Guaidó is “scared” he should “buy a dog,” Reuters reports. Cabello also said there is a “crisis of justice,” and “these traitorous worms are leaving in a stampede.” Catherine Garcia
Acting CBP chief downplays video of sobbing girl whose dad was detained in raid: ‘Her father committed a crime’
August 11, 2019
Acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan wasn’t moved by video of a weeping 11-year-old girl, begging for the release of her parents after they were detained in Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in Mississippi last week.
“I understand that the girl is upset and I get that,” Morgan told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday. “But her father committed a crime.” On Wednesday, ICE raided seven agricultural plants and arrested 680 people. During an interview with a local news station, the girl cried and pleaded with the government to let her parents go. “My dad didn’t do nothing,” she said. “He’s not a criminal.”
Morgan, who told Tapper the girl has since been reunited with her mother, said the interview was “done on purpose to show a picture like that,” and insisted that the news should instead talk to people whose identities have been stolen by undocumented immigrants. “It is not just a victimless crime that’s going on here,” he said.