July 10, 2018

Grab a drink and have a seat, because you'll want to settle in for this odd story about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

On Tuesday afternoon, The Wall Street Journal reported that Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., were joining Stonington Global LLC, a new lobbying and consulting firm. Many thought it was peculiar that the company would hire a man who pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators and is waiting to be sentenced, but one of Stonington Global's founders, Joey Allaham, told the Journal the elder Flynn "has experience all over the world. He can do a lot for us. We are very lucky to get a man like that."

While it is strange for a firm to hire a person who might have to use his vacation time to serve a prison sentence, the story was straightforward enough, until Flynn's attorneys came forward just a few hours later to say Flynn was not working with Stonington and the announcement was made because of a "misunderstanding." Flynn "has not joined Stonington and did not personally issue any public statement," attorneys Robert Kelner and Stephen Anthony said in a statement. "He was aware that a statement was being drafted, but he did not intend that it be issued at this time."

After that statement was released, Allaham and his partner, Nick Muzin, told the Journal they started Stonington with Flynn — a man they did not know until Allaham approached him about joining the firm — and while they couldn't comment on his "considerations about the timing of the announcement, we have faith in his patriotism and long history of service to our country. We look forward to working together." Flynn was set to serve as director of global strategy, and based on these dueling statements, perhaps one day he still will? Read more at The Wall Street Journal, before Flynn rejoins the firm and quits again. Catherine Garcia

9:09 a.m.

Federal authorities raided Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy's Los Angeles office in 2018, ProPublica reported on Monday.

The Justice Department has been investigating whether Broidy, former national deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee, tried to profit off of his influence within the Trump administration with foreign entities, as The Washington Post previously reported. For example, The Wall Street Journal has reported that he was in negotiations to earn $75 million if the Justice Department stopped an investigation into a Malaysian business.

Citing a sealed search warrant, ProPublica writes that authorities in raiding Broidy's office were "seeking records related to his dealings with foreign officials and Trump administration associates" and were investigating potential "conspiracy, money laundering and violations of the law barring covert lobbying on behalf of foreign officials." They were reportedly seeking evidence related to a variety of people and entities, including former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, and they received authorization to use Broidy's face or fingerprints to unlock phones.

Brody stepped down from the Republican National Committee in 2018 after reports he had made a hush-money payment to a Playboy Playmate he had an affair with, per The Wall Street Journal. This payment was set up by President Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Broidy, who resigned from the Republican National Committee after a report that he made a hush-money payment to a Playboy model he had an affair with and impregnated, through his lawyer has said he has "never agreed to work for, been retained by nor been compensated by any foreign government for any interaction with the United States Government, ever." Brendan Morrow

7:55 a.m.

Beto O'Rourke just jumped into the 2020 Democratic presidential race with more money raised in 24 hours than anyone else.

The former congressman's presidential campaign said on Monday that it raised $6.1 million in its first 24 hours, more than any other 2020 Democratic candidate has reported raising during its first day, per The New York Times.

This outpaces the $5.9 million Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) reported his campaign raised in its first day, as well as the $1.5 million Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) reported raising during that time. O'Rourke's campaign did not clarify how many donors this amount came from, per The Washington Post.

O'Rourke previously broke fundraising records when he raised $80 million during his 2018 Senate campaign against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). He said in a statement on Monday, "In just 24 hours, Americans across this country came together to prove that it is possible to run a true grassroots campaign for president." Brendan Morrow

7:42 a.m.

The last time Rudy Giuliani appeared on TV to attack Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation on behalf of his client President Trump was Jan. 20, when he told NBC News that talks to build a Trump Tower Moscow may have lasted until November 2016 and rambled to CNN about Michael Cohen. Those appearances led to speculation that Trump would pull Giuliani from TV interviews, and Jonathan Swan at Axios said Sunday there's probably some truth to that.

Two people "with direct knowledge" said Trump and his Russia investigation lawyer Emmet Flood have privately griped about some of Giuliani's TV appearances, Swan reports, and a third source said Trump thought it would be best for Giuliani to stay off the air after his Jan. 20 hits. Giuliani himself told Swan that he's laying low to protect Trump from Mueller, not his own TV gaffes.

After the Jan. 20 appearances, "we thought the Mueller report was imminent" and decided "it it would be better not to comment until the report was filed or made public," Giuliani texted Swan, adding that he opted to stay of-the-air so as "not to upset the apple cart, not to create unnecessary, additional, needless friction" with Mueller. Swan said he found that "odd," because "sources familiar with Giuliani's thinking say he views a major part of his job as trying to undermine public confidence in the Mueller probe and harden the support of Republican voters for Trump to protect him against impeachment."

So Swan asked "the president's lawyer" if he thought Giuliani's purported strategy could work. And "the president's lawyer" — who sounds an awful lot like "John Barron" or another Trump alter-ego, probably coincidentally — said: "Yes, because we've had, over a period of time, after we were very tough, we've had some what we regard as very fair decisions, and some that aren't as fair. So we see that there's the capacity to go either way." Peter Weber

6:39 a.m.

Millionaire Jeffrey Epstein reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in 2007 that allowed him to serve just 13 months in county jail on two Florida state charges of soliciting a prostitute, at least one of whom was a minor. That deal, approved by former prosecutor and current Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, was already widely seen as overly lenient before a federal judge ruled last month that Acosta's team violated the Crime Victims' Rights Act.

The underage victim Epstein pleaded guilty to having sex with was 16, not the 14-year-old girl who first alerted police to Epstein's underage sexual activities, The Washington Post reported Sunday night. "The decision to charge Epstein with a crime involving an older teen," confirmed by state prosecutors, "has eased his obligations to register as a sex offender." In more than half of U.S. states, the age of consent is 16. So in New Mexico — where Epstein owns a 7,600-acre ranch — for example, he does not have to register as a sex offender because his listed victim was 16; in Florida and the Virgin Islands, Epstein is classified as a lower-risk offender.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra said that in reviewing the federal non-prosecution agreement, he saw evidence that Epstein violated sex trafficking laws and abused at least 30 girls between 1997 and 2007, and an investigation by the Miami Herald found 80 girls and women who said they were victimized by Epstein. Prosecutors "had a grab bag of 40 girls to choose from" in charging Epstein, Spencer Kurvin, a lawyer representing the 14-year-old victim, told the Post. "The rug has been swiped out from under the one girl who was brave enough to come forward and break this thing."

Epstein lawyer Martin Weinberg told the Post his client "has fully complied with all applicable registration obligations under federal and local law, and will continue to do so." You can read more about Epstein's sex-offender registration issues at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

4:58 a.m.

On Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she and her Cabinet agreed in principle to a set of changes to the country's gun laws that will be unveiled within 10 days. In her news conference, Ardern also announced an investigation into what intelligence and security services "knew or could or should have known" about the plans of a 28-year-old Australian man arrested for killing 50 people and wounding 40 others at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday, "including his access to weapons and whether they could have been in a position to prevent the attack."

Also on Monday, the owner of Christchurch gun shop Gun City, David Tipple, said his store had sold the alleged gunman, Brenton Tarrant, four guns and ammunition through a "police-verified online mail order process." None of the weapons were semiautomatic, military-style rifles, he said. Ardern said the gunman used five guns, including two semiautomatic rifles modified after they were purchased legally. Currently, people need a license to own guns in New Zealand — 99.6 percent of the 43,509 applications were approved in 2017, The Washington Post reports — and Ardern has discussed banning semiautomatic weapons and requiring a license for each weapon.

Tarrant appeared in court on Saturday and then fired his state-appointed lawyer, saying he wants to represent himself. "He seemed quite clear and lucid," the lawyer, Richard Peters, told the New Zealand Herald. "He didn't appear to me to be facing any challenges or mental impairment, other than holding fairly extreme views." There is concern Tarrant will try to use his trial to spread his professed racially extremist, white nationalist views. Peter Weber

4:00 a.m.

"Thanks to the internet, it has never been easier to pile on to a public shaming," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. "In fact, it's now one of America's favorite pastimes," and "you've probably participated" in this "golden age of internet shaming," he said. "And you may be expecting me to say that all public shaming is bad, but I don't actually think that. When it's well-directed, a lot of good can come out of it."

Oliver held up Fox News host Tucker Carlson as "a good example of an internet pile-on being merited: He's a public figure, he made his comments publicly, they are appalling, and he's standing by them. But clearly it's not always that simple. Because when misdirected, internet pile-ons can completely destroy people's lives," and "often it is not a public figure who's on the receiving end of it."

Oliver and his writers think a lot "about who we make fun of, why we're doing it, and how," he said. For example, it's fine to pile on the parents who allegedly paid serious money to cheat their kids into college, but "it gets more complicated" with their kids. "When millions of people all feel the need to weigh in, and do it potentially for years, the punishment can be vastly disproportionate to the offense," he said. "And perhaps the best example of this is Monica Lewinsky."

To imagine Lewinsky's experience, "think of the dumbest thing you did when you were young — not the dumbest thing you go caught doing," Oliver said. "Now imagine hearing about that every single day for decades on end." Public shaming is complicated, he said, "but Monica Lewinsky might actually be the perfect person to remind all of us what the consequences can be to a misdirected flood of public anger." So he sat down and asked her, and you watch their interview below. (Some of the clip has NSFW language.) Peter Weber

2:41 a.m.

As more and more wounded service members came home from Iraq and Afghanistan in 2006, Steve Peth knew he had to do something to help.

A Vietnam veteran, the newly retired Peth had the time to give back. Able to drive in from his home near Quantico, he became a Red Cross volunteer at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. — and when the hospital moved to Bethesda, Maryland, becoming the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, he followed. In the years since, he's formed tight bonds with patients in the Department of Rehabilitation's amputee program. "Anything you can do for them is really appreciated, and that's really amazing," Peth, 72, told The Week. "That's what motivates me."

After joining the Army in 1967, Peth was a medical evacuation helicopter pilot, a dangerous — yet rewarding — job. When his helicopter was hit 39 times by fire, he ended up with serious injuries, later earning the Purple Heart, in addition to the Silver Star and two Distinguished Flying Crosses. He says he remembers what it was like to be in the hospital and go through physical therapy, and can empathize with patients as they learn how to adjust to their new way of life. "It's a lot easier for me as a volunteer to talk to patients because I've been a patient, talk to a service member because I am a veteran, but you don't have to be wounded to be a volunteer," Peth said. "There are civilians that have just decided they want to give back."

Volunteers make up 90 percent of the Red Cross' workforce, and Peth determines which volunteers are a good fit for the amputee program and oversees them. There are about 75 volunteers, all ages and from different backgrounds, which keeps Peth busy. "In retirement, I get to do something that is valued," he said. "I don't get a paycheck — I get back a lot more than what I give." Catherine Garcia

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