Loose Ends
November 25, 2020

Fox News and Joel and Mary Rich disclosed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in New York that they have reached a settlement in the lawsuit the Rich family filed against the network over a false story it published and promoted about their son, Seth Rich. Seth Rich was a 27-year-old staffer at the Democratic National Committee when he was shot dead in Washington, D.C., in July 2016, in what D.C. police determined was likely a botched robbery.

FoxNews.com published an article in May 2017 falsely claiming Rich had leaked damaging DNC emails to WikiLeaks, feeding a frenzy of conspiracy theories that Democratic Party leaders had him murdered. Russian military hackers had stolen and distributed the DNC emails, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation later confirmed. Fox News retracted the story after a week, saying it did not meet "editorial standards."

But Fox News opinion hosts, notably Sean Hannity, continued to bolster the claim, suggesting it helped disprove the conclusion that Russian intelligence helped President Trump during the 2016 election. "Fox News announced it was conducting an internal investigation into how the story came to be posted on its website, but it has never released the results," Yahoo News reports.

Joel and Mary Rich filed suit in 2018, saying Fox News "intentionally exploited" their son's murder for political gain, causing them extreme emotional distress. A U.S. district judge dismissed the lawsuit but a federal appellate judge reinstated it, and Fox News decided to settle last month, right before Hannity and Fox News executives were scheduled to be deposed under oath about what they knew about the fake story, Yahoo News reports.

The terms of the settlement weren't made public, but Yahoo News says it "includes a lucrative seven figure payment to the Rich family consistent with the size of payouts Fox News and related corporate entities have made in other cases that have brought them negative publicity." Fox News said in a statement it is "pleased with the resolution of the claims and hope this enables Mr. and Mrs. Rich to find a small degree of peace and solace moving forward." Peter Weber

January 14, 2020

George Nader, a wealthy Lebanese-American political campaign bundler for Hillary Clinton and frequent guest in President Trump's White House in the first few months of his administration, pleaded guilty Monday to child exploitation charges in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. His sentencing is scheduled for April 10.

The guilty plea covers Nader's sexual acts with a 14-year-old Czech boy in the U.S. 20 years ago and possession of child pornography in 2012, but under a plea deal with prosecutors, he won't be charged for child pornography found on his phone en route to Mar-a-Lago, leading to his cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Trump's campaign and Russia.

Nader, 60, was questioned by Mueller's investigators about whether he illegally channeled campaign contributions to Trump's 2016 campaign from the United Arab Emirates, where he worked as an adviser to UAE leadership, and about a January 2017 meeting he set up and attended between Trump associate Erik Prince — Blackwater founder and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — and a Russian official close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The crimes Nader pleaded guilty to carry penalties of up to 50 years in prison, but prosecutors agreed to request the mandatory minimum of 10 years behind bars, served concurrently. He still faces campaign finance charges in federal court in Washington, D.C., for allegedly illegally funneling more than $3 million in campaign contributions to Democrats and Republicans. Nader served six months for child pornography charges in 1991, and he was sentenced to a year in prison in the Czech Republican in 2003. Between his Czech sentence and his 2000 journey with the 14-year-old boy, Nader served as Pentagon contractor and Middle East policy adviser to President George W. Bush's administration, The Washington Post reports. Peter Weber

June 19, 2019

These facts are uncontested: Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife met and befriended a 21-year-old male pool attendant at Miami's tony Fontainebleau hotel in 2012; they invested in a gay-friendly South Beach youth hostel at the recommendation of the pool attendant, Giancarlo Granda, and named him co-manager; they introduced Granda to Donald Trump at Falwell's Liberty University in Virginia in 2012; Falwell endorsed Trump for president in early 2016; and Trump's former fixer and lawyer Michael Cohen told comedian Tom Arnold in March that he had intervened to protect the Falwells by trying to bury racy, kinky photos of them in late 2015, in a dispute involving the "pool boy" and the hostel.

Any strings tying those events together are speculative and disputed, as is their relationship to the 2016 presidential race, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Falwell, the son of Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell Sr., isn't an ordained minister, but his unexpected, pivotal endorsement of the thrice-married Trump "became a permission slip for deeply religious conservatives who were attracted by Mr. Trump's promises to make America great again but wary of his well-known history of infidelity" and other typical deal-breakers, the Times says. Trump's subsequent and enduring strength among white evangelicals helped propel him to the Republican nomination and the White House.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had been counting on strong evangelical support, and in mid-January 2016, Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz, told the Cruz campaign that Falwell had committed to endorsing Cruz, two people involved in the campaign told the Times. When a top Cruz adviser called to speed up the endorsement, Falwell said he couldn't endorse anyone, blaming Liberty's board, then a few days later, he endorsed Trump, the Times reports.

The Falwells have denied that there are any compromising or embarrassing photos of them and say they were unaware Cohen had allegedly intervened on their behalf. Cohen, in jail, has not commented on the allegations Arnold covertly recorded him sharing. Read more about the bizarre story at The New York Times. Peter Weber

March 5, 2018

A judge has ordered "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli to forfeit $7.36 million to the federal government ahead of his securities fraud sentencing, including assets such as the only existing copy of the Wu-Tang Clan's Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, NBC New York reports.

Shkreli previously threatened to destroy the $2 million album after Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah called Shkreli a "s---head." Shkreli retaliated by making a video with masked henchmen in which he mocked Ghostface Killah for being "old" and called him by his "government name," Dennis.

In addition to giving up Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, Shkreli was also ordered to surrender the only existing copy of Lil Wayne's unreleased The Carter V. (Musicians: Stop doing this). He also is required to give up a Pablo Picasso painting.

Shkreli first drew public ire after his pharmaceutical company hiked the price of a cancer and HIV drug by 5,000 percent. He was convicted of defrauding investors during his time as a hedge fund manager in 2017, and while he was shortly free on a $5 million bond he was locked up after offering $5,000 for a lock of Hillary Clinton's hair.

Shkreli's sentencing is expected Friday. Read why Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry believes the Pharma Bro is an American hero who deserves to be freed at The Week. Jeva Lange

December 5, 2016

North Carolina's Republican Gov. Pat McCrory conceded the gubernatorial race to his Democratic challenger, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, ending weeks of contention after the close election. "Despite continued questions that should be answered regarding the voting process, I personally believe that the majority of our citizens have spoken, and we now should do everything we can to support the 75th governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper," McCrory said in a video statement.

It has been 27 days since the North Carolina election. Jeva Lange

May 25, 2016

Back in January, when he was having a fight with Fox News, Donald Trump skipped out on a Fox News–sponsored presidential debate and held his own rally and fundraiser for charities dedicated to military veterans. "We just cracked $6 million! Right? $6 million," he said at the Iowa event. And "Donald Trump gave $1 million." That wasn't true until Monday night, David A. Fahrenthold says at The Washington Post, after Fahrenthold had taken to Twitter to try to ascertain how many veterans' charities had received any money from Trump.

On Monday night, Trump called the home of James Kallstrom, chairman of the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, and pledged $1 million, according to Kallstrom's wife. When Fahernthold asked Trump over the phone on Tuesday why it took him four months to follow through on his pledge, Trump said, "You have a lot of vetting to do." Fahrenthold suggested that perhaps Trump had only taken action because reporters were asking him about his pledge, and Trump shot back: "You know, you're a nasty guy. You're really a nasty guy. I gave out millions of dollars that I had no obligation to do." Trump also said that the fundraiser had rounded up about $5.5 million total, and that, despite the assertion of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, no major pledgees had dropped out, though "some of them came through very late."

Trump said he would have his staff send The Washington Post a list of groups that received the donations, but hadn't as of Tuesday night. Veterans' groups have been trying to figure out how to apply for some of the remaining millions, since there is no application process. But at least one group has been contacted since Monday, the Boston Wounded Vet Bike Run, founded by Andrew Biggio. Biggio told The Post that a Trump campaign worker had called him out of the blue on Tuesday to ask for the nonprofit's phone number, and that he hadn't applied for any of the money. However, he did suggest how he got on Trump's radar: "I served in Iraq with Donald Trump's bodyguard's son." You can read more at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

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