October 17, 2019

An Illuminati-loving self-help author is now in charge of honoring the smartest high school seniors in the country.

Last week, President Trump named Colorado lawyer George Mentz to the Commission on Presidential Scholars, which chooses academically excelling high school seniors to honor with a national award. Mentz is "a prolific author of self-help Illuminati books and operator of an education company that sells more than a hundred types of certifications," reports The Denver Post.

Mentz, a longtime Trump supporter and donor, is the author of The Illuminati Secret Laws of Money, The Illuminati Handbook, 50 Laws of Power of the Illuminati, and 100 Secrets and Habits of the Illuminati for Life Success. Several of those books are co-authored with someone named "Magus Incognito," and generally share how mindfulness can lead to prosperity. Mentz cautioned The Denver Post about getting "too excited" about his word choice, essentially saying the term "Illuminati" is used as a marketing tactic.

Mentz is also the current owner of the Global Academy of Finance and Management and former CEO of the American Academy of Financial Management, both of which "award certifications, allowing applicants to add an alphabet soup of titles after their names," The Denver Post writes.

A Wall Street Journal article from 2004 found that for one certification:

Applicants who already have certain professional designations, like a CFA or CPA can simply take the test without going through the course. In some cases, they can skip the test altogether and just pay for the certification, according to George Mentz, the Academy's general counsel.

"It's not a comprehensive course," Mr. Mentz says. "That's why we call it a certification, not a designation." [The Wall Street Journal]

Another Journal article from 2010 found that AAFM listed people on its board of advisers who said they'd never advised the company.

Read more at The Denver Post and the Wall Street Journal.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect changes in the The Denver Post's original reporting. Kathryn Krawczyk

8:58 p.m.

U.S. military officials announced on Tuesday that "out of an abundance of caution," additional service members affected by the Iranian missile attack earlier this month have been sent to Germany for medical evaluations and treatment.

On Jan. 8, Iran fired missiles at two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops, in response to President Trump's authorization of an airstrike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. The next day, Trump said "no Americans were harmed" and "only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases." Military officials at the al-Asad base told The Washington Post on Jan. 13 that "dozens" of service members there were suffering from concussion-like symptoms, which do not always appear right away. By Jan. 15, 11 people had received treatment.

The Pentagon confirmed last week that the 11 service members had left Iraq to receive treatment, but did not share any information on their conditions. Officials on Tuesday did not say how many additional service members are receiving treatment, only revealing they are in Landstuhl, Germany, and not hospitalized. "As medical treatment and evaluations in theater continue, additional service members have been identified as having potential injuries," Army Maj. Beth Riordan said in a statement. "Given the nature of injuries already noted, it is possible additional injuries may be identified in the future." Catherine Garcia

7:37 p.m.

New York Yankees great Derek Jeter was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday, receiving 396 out of 397 votes cast.

This was the shortstop's first year of eligibility. A 14-time All Star, Jeter spent his entire career with the Yankees, and was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1996. He retired in 2014, after scoring 1,923 runs and making 3,465 base hits. His former teammate, Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2019, the only player ever to be chosen unanimously.

Larry Walker was also elected to the Hall of Fame on Tuesday; this was the British Columbia native's final year of eligibility. The outfielder played with the Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies, and St. Louis Cardinals during his 17-year career, and while with the Rockies, Walker — the 1997 National League MVP — led the team in 1995 to its first playoff appearance. Catherine Garcia

6:39 p.m.

Jeff Flake, the former senator from Arizona, doesn't know whether he would have voted to impeach President Trump, but is sure of one thing: Trump definitely did something wrong.

Flake announced in 2017 he would not seek re-election, saying he felt there wasn't any room in the Republican Party for critics of Trump. He was in the Senate chamber on Tuesday, watching his former colleagues participate in Trump's impeachment trial, and during a break told reporters he saw valid points on both sides of the argument over whether Trump's pressure on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was an impeachable offense.

Trump pushed Zelensky to launch an investigation into his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and while Flake doesn't know if Trump should be removed from office over this, it wasn't a good idea. "As a Republican, it pains me when I see Republicans, House Republicans, try to maintain that the president did no wrong, that this is somehow normal," he said. "It's not." Catherine Garcia

5:30 p.m.

Just call him the crown prince of hacking.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos reportedly had his phone hacked after receiving what was apparently an infected video file over WhatsApp from none other than Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in 2018, sources told The Guardian. An analysis of Bezos' phone reportedly revealed that following a seemingly friendly conversation between the two men, the video file sent by the crown prince corrupted Bezos' phone and made large amounts of data vulnerable, eventually leading to embarrassing leaks.

The Guardian didn't receive word on what may have been pulled from Bezos' phone following the alleged incident, but the news that Saudi Arabia's future king was possibly directly involved with the infiltration is a major revelation in its own right. Saudi Arabia has previously denied targeting Bezos' phone, but previous investigations had determined with "high confidence" that Riyadh was behind the efforts.

There's another wrinkle to the already-head scratching story, though. It's been reported by The Intercept that the prince chatted regularly on WhatsApp with White House adviser Jared Kushner, who's also President Trump's son-in-law. That's now raising some speculation that those conversations may have taken a similar turn to Bezos. Read more at The Guardian. Tim O'Donnell

5:04 p.m.

That's one down.

The Senate stuck to party lines Tuesday as President Trump's impeachment trial got under way. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced an amendment to the rules dictating the impeachment proceedings which called for the Senate to subpoena White House documents related to the events. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) then responded with a motion to table the proposal.

There wasn't much drama after that. The motion to table passed 53-47, as every member of the upper chamber stuck with their side, including a few GOP lawmakers like Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who are generally considered the biggest threats to cross the aisle. Collins, for her part, issued a statement shortly after the vote indicating her decision had more to do with the timing of Schumer's proposal than her opposition to bringing in new evidence.

After the defeat, Schumer introduced a second amendment, this time calling for documents from the State Department. Tim O'Donnell

4:31 p.m.

Harvey Weinstein's defense will aim to discredit his accusers by citing alleged "loving emails," which a judge has just ruled can be referenced during his rape trial.

Attorney Damon Cheronis claimed in court Tuesday that Weinstein's defense team has "dozens and dozens and dozens of loving emails" from witnesses to Weinstein that it wants to use during the trial, The Associated Press reports. The defense claims that in these emails, women "describe being in loving relationships" with Weinstein or "describe him as someone they cared about both before and after these alleged sexual assaults," Bloomberg reports.

"We will counter with their own words," Cheronis said, also alleging that "witnesses who claim sexual assault with him also bragged about being involved in sexual relations with him," Deadline reports.

Judge James Burke said Tuesday the defense is permitted to reference what was allegedly said in these emails, although they aren't allowed to actually show them, NBC News reports. Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi blasted the defense's characterization of the emails as "blatantly inaccurate," per Bloomberg.

Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 80 women, is facing charges of rape and sexual assault, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

Although Weinstein's defense on Tuesday won the right to reference these emails, it lost another bid to move his trial out of New York City; Assistant District Attorney Harriett Galvin called this a "transparent attempt to delay the proceedings," per AP. After a jury of seven men and five women was selected last week, opening arguments in the Weinstein trial are set to begin Wednesday. Brendan Morrow

4:17 p.m.

Anything you say can and will be held against you.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) got a little taste of that Tuesday when Jaime Harrison, who is running to challenge Graham's Senate seat, launched a new campaign ad. In the video, the Democratic candidate begins reading a statement, as Graham's voice creeps into the scene. Viewers are then transported back in time to 1998 as Graham, then a member of the House, advocates for a thorough impeachment case against then-President Bill Clinton in which "everybody had a chance to have their say."

Graham hasn't exactly maintained that position in the present day — he wants President Trump's trial over and done, and isn't one of the Republicans who's on board with calling witnesses. But despite Graham's staunch anti-impeachment stance, Harrison seems to think it's worth reminding the senator of the good old days. Tim O'Donnell

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