Spying on the libs
Erik Prince, a security contractor close to the Trump administration, has helped recruit former British and American spies to gather information for the pro-Trump group Project Veritas, The New York Times reported this week. The spies infiltrated the Michigan office of the American Federation of Teachers in 2017, the campaign of House candidate Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) in 2018, and other organizations deemed hostile to the president. One of the spies he recruited, an ex-MI6 officer, directed an operative to copy files and record conversations that could be made public to damage the union. The same operative posed as a volunteer seeking to work for Spanberger but was outed and fired. AFT Michigan has sued Project Veritas for trespassing and illegal eavesdropping. Prince, ex-head of Blackwater Worldwide and the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, is under federal investigation in a separate case involving Russian election interference.
Kansas City, Mo.
Mayor Quinton Lucas said poll workers refused to give him a ballot for Missouri’s Democratic primary this week because he “wasn’t in the system.” Lucas, who had posted a video encouraging people to vote moments before his ordeal, said his experience highlighted the obstacles facing voters, especially African-Americans. A Democrat who took office last year, Lucas used a utility bill to confirm his identity, but a poll worker insisted that Lucas didn’t appear on voter rolls. Lucas said he has voted at the same Baptist church polling place for the past 11 years. “If a mayor can get turned away, think about everyone else,” he said on Twitter. Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, a Republican, said that Lucas could have filed a provisional ballot but “didn’t want to be helped. He wanted to go on Twitter.” Lucas voted later that day.
The Justice Department can’t block Congress from reviewing grand-jury evidence tied to Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week. The 2-1 decision gives House Democrats access to Mueller’s 448-page report in full—including nearly 1,000 blacked-out portions, some of which covered entire pages—plus underlying interviews and memos. Judge Judith Rogers, a George W. Bush appointee, said Congress should see all materials because Mueller did not make a final decision on whether to bring charges against the president. Although the Senate acquitted Trump at his February impeachment trial, House Democrats said the full report is still needed to determine whether Trump obstructed justice, including by lying to Mueller in written testimony. Rogers said courts shouldn’t “micromanage” the House’s information requests.
President Trump dealt a crushing blow this week to former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, endorsing his opponent in Alabama’s Republican Senate primary. Sessions hopes to reclaim his old Senate seat in a March 31 runoff against former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville. Either would be a heavy favorite against Democratic Sen. Doug Jones. Tuberville claims Sessions “deserted” Trump by recusing himself in the Russia probe. Although Trump fired Sessions in 2018 and calls his appointment the biggest regret of his presidency, Sessions never spoke out against Trump. Yet Trump waded into the primary fight to give Tuberville “my Complete and Total Endorsement.” Democrats, meanwhile, were elated this week after Gov. Steve Bullock agreed to run in Montana’s Senate Democratic primary; party leaders, including Barack Obama, had urged Bullock to run, seeing him as the only Democrat who could take the seat from Republican Sen. Steve Daines.
Gone for life
New York City
Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison this week for raping one woman and sexually assaulting another, meaning the disgraced movie producer who sparked the #MeToo movement will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. Weinstein’s attorneys requested a five-year sentence, but Judge James Burke gave Weinstein 20 years for forcing oral sex on Miriam Haley in 2006 and three years for the third-degree rape of Jessica Mann in 2013. The sentences will run concurrently. All six women who testified to being sexually assaulted by Weinstein sat together in the courtroom, some sobbing upon hearing the sentence. Weinstein, 67, says he suffered a concussion while awaiting his sentence at the Rikers Island jail, and told Burke he’s experienced “hell on earth.” Although Weinstein said he feels “great remorse,” he also attacked #MeToo, saying he’s “totally confused” about what happened to his life.
Not acting anymore
President Trump announced last week that he’s replacing Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney with Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), one of Trump’s staunchest allies in Congress. Mulvaney, who served 14 months but maintained the “acting” qualifier, was gradually sidelined after becoming entangled in the Ukraine scandal. Asked about the use of political quid pro quos at an October press conference, he was widely criticized for essentially admitting the transgression and replying, “Get over it.” A former South Carolina congressman, Mulvaney had called Trump “a terrible human being” during the 2016 election but came to be a loyal aide who employed the hands-off “Let Trump be Trump” approach. Meadows was a leader in Trump’s impeachment defense, and Trump reportedly planned months ago to install him as chief of staff once the trial ended. Meadows will not have the “acting” title. Mulvaney will serve as special envoy to Northern Ireland. ■