Circle of silence
A professional referee said that Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), then an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University, brushed off a complaint about disgraced team doctor Richard Strauss’ sexual misconduct, a lawsuit alleged last week. The ref says he reported that Strauss masturbated in front of him in a shower after a match, and Jordan replied, “Yeah, that’s Strauss.” The assertion comes in a lawsuit filed by 43 survivors against Ohio State, which alleges that Strauss drugged and raped athletes and abused kids as young as 14. Jordan, a coach from 1986 to 1994, called the referee’s statements “ridiculous,” maintaining he was unaware of Strauss’ predations. Former wrestler Dunyasha Yetts previously said he told Jordan that Strauss, who died in 2005, tried to pull down his pants. Yetts commended the unnamed ref for speaking out, adding, “Jordan and the other coaches knew what was going on and they blew it off.”
Sweet home Alabama
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced last week that he will run to reclaim his old Senate seat, banking on his ability to overcome the months of scorn President Trump heaped on him before forcing him out last year. Sessions’ first campaign ad emphasized his unwavering support for Trump: “Did I write a tell-all book? No. Did I go on CNN and attack the president? Nope.” Trump, who was furious at his AG for recusing himself in the Russia probe, called the appointment his “biggest mistake” as president, saying Sessions was a “dumb Southerner” who “should be ashamed of himself.” Alabama holds its GOP primary election on March 3, and the winner will face Democrat Doug Jones, who won a startling upset in a 2018 special election to fill Sessions’ seat. A poll this week showed 71 percent of Alabama Republicans still view Sessions favorably.
Onetime Trump campaign deputy chairman Rick Gates testified that he witnessed a phone call between Trump and former adviser Roger Stone about WikiLeaks’ efforts to disclose and publicize emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee. After hanging up, Gates testified, Trump personally told him that “more information would be coming.” With Stone standing trial for lying to Congress, obstruction, and witness tampering, Gates’ testimony is a key piece of evidence of an ongoing relationship between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign. It stands in stark contrast to Trump’s own testimony to special counsel Robert Mueller, in which Trump said he didn’t recall speaking with Stone around that time. Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon also testified that the campaign saw Stone as an “access point” to WikiLeaks. Stone’s defense rested without calling witnesses.
President Trump drew fierce criticism this week for hosting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House, one month after a Turkish offensive displaced an estimated 180,000 people in northern Syria. With crowds of protesters outside, Trump said he and Erdogan are “very good friends” and that Turkey’s cease-fire deal is “holding very well,” though Trump said Erdogan “has to do something” about the “many people from Turkey being killed.” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) called welcoming Erdogan “absolutely shameful.” Though the House overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill to impose sanctions on Turkey for attacking Syria’s Kurds, and a similar bill winds its way through the Senate, Trump has offered Erdogan a new trade deal. “It’s time for us not to be worried about other people’s borders,” Trump said next to Erdogan, adding, “We left troops behind only for the oil.”
DACA in doubt
The Supreme Court’s conservative majority appeared poised this week to let the Trump administration shut down a program protecting 700,000 young immigrants known as “Dreamers.” During oral arguments, Justice Brett Kavanaugh said President Trump made a “considered decision” in 2017 to wind down Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era program shielding some immigrants brought in illegally as children from deportation. Opponents of Trump’s action have argued the administration gave no policy justification for ending the program, pulling the rug out from people who’d relied on the government’s assurances. Trump once called DACA beneficiaries “good, educated, and accomplished young people,” but more recently he’s claimed that they are “no angels.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor called the decision to end DACA “a choice to destroy lives.” Also this week, the court let families of victims in the 2012 Newtown, Conn., school shooting sue gunmaker Remington Arms, maker of the gunman’s AR-15–style rifle.
Alt-right email thread
Presidential adviser Stephen Miller routinely promoted white nationalist sites and sources before joining the White House, according to 900-plus emails leaked this week that he sent editors at Breitbart News in 2015 and ’16. Miller, a driving force behind many of President Trump’s hard-line immigration policies, argued against giving Mexican victims of 2015’s Hurricane Patricia temporary refuge in the U.S. and cited a link from VDARE, a site that endorses the “white genocide” theory that people of color are scheming to overtake whites. Miller also slammed Amazon for halting sales of Confederate flags after the 2015 massacre in a Charleston, S.C., black church. In other emails, Miller urged Breitbart writers and editors to read Camp of the Saints, a dystopian novel resurrected by the alt-right that depicts refugees as murderers and rapists. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said the emails exposed Miller as a “bona fide white nationalist.”
AP, Jeff Malet, AP (2) ■