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May 20, 2019

Attorney General William Barr is pushing back against criticism that he is using his position to protect President Trump.

During an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Monday, Barr said that before becoming Trump's attorney general, he saw the president was the focus of several investigations, and felt "the rules were being changed to hurt Trump, and I thought it was damaging for the presidency over the long haul."

Barr wrote a 19-page memo to the Department of Justice last year, saying Special Counsel Robert Mueller's obstruction inquiry hurt the presidency; after the report was released, Barr decided that several incidents of potential obstruction described in Mueller's report were not criminal. "At every grave juncture the presidency has done what it is supposed to do, which is to provide leadership and direction," Barr said. "If you destroy the presidency and make it an errand boy for Congress, we're going to be a much weaker and more divided nation."

Barr's critics have called him out for refusing to turn over an unredacted copy of Mueller's report to the House Judiciary Committee, which led to the panel voting to hold him in contempt; ordering a review into the origins of the Russia investigation; and telling lawmakers that Trump campaign associates were the victims of "spying." All of this is "an affront to everyone who worked on that case and who supported it, and to everyone who works counterintelligence in general," former top FBI counterintelligence agent Frank Montoya told the Journal. Catherine Garcia

April 9, 2019

Responding to the backlash against him, Herman Cain on Monday said those who are critical of him are "the devil," and he will wear "the full armor of God" in order to protect himself.

Cain is the former chairman and CEO of Godfather's Pizza and a 2012 Republican presidential candidate, who dropped out of the race after several women accused him of sexual misconduct; he denied the allegations. Last week, President Trump said he plans on nominating Cain, one of his loyalists and the founder of a pro-Trump super PAC, to the Federal Reserve Board.

Critics say Cain is too partisan and doesn't have the right experience to be on the board, but he maintains that because he served in an advisory role at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, he is in fact the perfect person for the job. During the Monday edition of his Facebook show, Cain said he is the victim of "hack attacks," and people are saying "negative, unfair, insane things" about him because he is an "outspoken voice of conservatism," Reuters reports. Catherine Garcia

August 22, 2018

The traditional reward for acts of unimaginable bravery is a Purple Heart — but apparently eight felony convictions works in a pinch.

President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was convicted on eight counts of felony financial crimes Tuesday. The president has consistently defended Manafort both in person and on Twitter. He added to his online flattery of the convicted felon Wednesday morning, declaring that he feels "very badly" for Manafort and lauding Manafort for not taking a plea deal, unlike someone else he knows. He concluded: "Such respect for a brave man!"

Manafort actually faced 18 counts of financial crimes, but the Virginia jury hearing his case was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the other 10. It's unclear how much more "respect" the president would have for someone convicted of 18 crimes rather than a measly eight. Kimberly Alters

August 7, 2018

Content from conspiracy peddler Alex Jones has been removed from Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, Apple, and even Pinterest, but don't expect to see the Infowars founder suspended from Twitter any time soon.

Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted Tuesday night that Jones "hasn't violated our rules. We'll enforce if he does. And we'll continue to promote a healthy conversational environment by ensuring tweets aren't artificially amplified." Twitter has been "terrible at explaining our decisions in the past," he added, and the company is "fixing that."

Jones has come under fire for saying outlandish things like the parents of Sandy Hook victims are "crisis actors," and Dorsey said if "we succumb and simply react to outside pressure, rather than straightforward principles we enforce (and evolve) impartially regardless of political viewpoints, we become a service that's constructed by our personal views that can swing in any direction. That's not us." Accounts like Jones' "can often sensationalize issues and spread unsubstantiated rumors," Dorsey added, "so it's critical journalists document, validate, and refute such information directly so people can form their own opinions. This is what serves the public conversation best." Catherine Garcia

July 26, 2017

Republican lawmakers have been rallying around Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week, as Sessions weathers friendly fire from President Trump. Trump has criticized Sessions recently in a variety of ways — including on Twitter, from the White House Rose Garden, and in print — and many of Sessions' former colleagues on Capitol Hill have come to his defense.

But perhaps the strongest defense of Sessions came from fellow Alabama lawmaker Rep. Mo Brooks (R), who is running for the Alabama Senate seat Sessions vacated to become attorney general. Brooks released a lengthy statement Wednesday comparing Trump's treatment of Sessions to a "public waterboarding":

I cannot remain silent about the treatment Jeff Sessions is receiving from President Trump. If the president has reservations about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that is okay. No two people agree all the time. But President Trump should raise his reservations with Attorney General Sessions privately, man to man, one on one, not publicly scorn a great man like this.

I support President Trump's policies, but this public waterboarding of one of the greatest people Alabama has ever produced is inappropriate and insulting to the people of Alabama who know Jeff Sessions so well and elected him so often by overwhelming margins. [Rep. Mo Brooks]

Brooks then offered Trump a deal: If he wants to fire Sessions, Brooks will withdraw from the Alabama Senate race if all of his Republican opponents agree to do so as well in order to pave the way for Sessions. Then, Brooks said, if Sessions were to leave Washington, the path would be cleared for him to return to the Senate, while Trump could replace Sessions at the Justice Department with whomever he wants.

"I recognize that President Trump is popular in Alabama," Brooks said. "My closest friends and political advisers have told me not to side with Jeff Sessions, that it will cost me politically to do so. My response is simple: I don't care."

The special election to fill Sessions' seat is Dec. 12. Read Brooks' full statement below. Kimberly Alters

May 4, 2017

In late 2007, Amanda Knox was arrested for the murder of Meredith Kercher, with whom she shared a flat in Italy. In 2009, Knox stood trial in an Italian court for the murder, issuing a not-guilty plea; she was convicted and sentenced to 26 years in prison. In 2010, she began an appeals trial, and in 2011, her conviction was overturned.

But in 2016, she did not vote for Donald Trump for president — and that's the life moment she chose to expound upon in a strange op-ed Thursday in the Los Angeles Times:

I discovered just how blinding loyalty could be when, in December 2009, an Italian court convicted me of a murder I didn’t commit. That judgment rested heavily on the court's bias in favor of the prosecution, which represented the Italian people and the Italian state, over the defense, which represented a foreigner.

This is loyalty taken too far. And it calls to mind the party-over-policy approach that currently plagues our own politics.

Yes, Trump donated to my defense. And yes, Trump defended my innocence, recognizing that coercive interrogations produce false testimony authored by the interrogators themselves, a well-studied and documented fact.

[...] What do I owe Trump? A thank you for his well-intentioned, if undiplomatic, support. So for the record: Thank you, Mr. President. But the more important question is, what do I owe my country? Civic engagement, careful consideration of issues that affect my fellow citizens, and support for policies that deserve support, even if it makes the president "very upset." [Los Angeles Times]

Several times in 2011, during Knox's appeals trial, Trump tweeted about her innocence and called for Americans to "boycott Italy." Knox wrote in her blog last October of her decision to support Hillary Clinton in the election, which you can read here. Kimberly Alters

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