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Justice Department ends stock trading investigation against Richard Burr at no charge

Mr Burr was one of five senators known to have been investigated by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission for possible insider trading around the start of the pandemic in the United States . Senators Kelly Loeffler, Republican of Georgia; James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma; and Dianne Feinstein, Democrat from California, were all eliminated in May. An investigation of Georgia Republican Senator David Perdue has broadened to include transactions worth more than $ 1 million at a financial company, where he previously served on the board of directors, before his closing in August.

Mr. Burr’s has been open for months longer.

While he does not dispute that he sold much of his portfolio for fear of the spread of the pandemic, he insisted his transactions were based entirely on information reported by financial news organizations in Asia, and not on special briefings he had received as a senator.

Insider trading cases – especially those involving lawmakers – are notoriously difficult to prove. Lawmakers, like any other citizen, are empowered to make investment decisions based on public information. Under the Stock Law of 2012, they are prohibited from making decisions based on specific, non-public information to which they have access as senators.

The challenge for investigators is to shield the public from non-public information with enough confidence to prove that a lawmaker like Mr Burr has acted with an unfair advantage over other investors. This is made even more difficult by the speech or debate clause of the Constitution, which gives members of Congress unusual protections against investigators.

In this case, Mr Burr’s sales came just days after a series of briefings he received as a member of the Senate Intelligence and Health Committees in late January and early February focused on the threat of the coronavirus. At the time, Mr. Trump and members of his party were playing down the viral threat, and although it had spread widely in Asia, the pandemic had not yet affected American life or its financial markets much.

Mr Burr, who had long focused his attention on public health and warned of the threat of a pandemic, clearly took it more seriously. On February 13, he sold 33 shares, with a collective value of $ 628,000 to $ 1.7 million, a significant portion of his portfolio.

The timing allowed him to avoid losses suffered by other investors when the stock market contracted sharply in February and March. Financial markets have since recovered and reached record levels.

There were other charges for Mr. Burr along the way. He remained on the sidelines, for example, when the Intelligence Committee delivered the final results of its multi-year investigation into 2016 Russian election interference and ties to the Trump campaign this summer. He had overseen the politically sensitive investigation from the start, working closely with the panel’s lead Democrat, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, in the face of strong objections from President Trump, earning the respect of his colleagues on both sides.

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Madeleine Dean: charge official points out her experience in ethics

WASHINGTON – A week ago, Representative Madeleine Dean, Democrat of Pennsylvania, was among lawmakers hiding on the floor of the House gallery, donning an emergency hood as tear gas was fired into the rotunda and demonstrators threatened to enter the room.

Ms Dean, almost two weeks into her second term, is now one of the impeachment officials that President Nancy Pelosi of California has appointed to present the case of President Trump’s impeachment on the grounds that he committed serious crimes and offenses.

“The President and many members of this chamber have shamelessly peddled dangerous untruths about this election – despite warnings as to the destination of those lies,” Ms. Dean told the House before voting to impeach Mr. Trump. “Last Wednesday, those lies and dangers found their way inside this Capitol. This hateful rhetoric is another virus – it’s time to take down its host. “

Within the Democratic caucus, she was one of the earliest supporters of continuing an impeachment inquiry against the president just over a year ago and has shown little reluctance in approving a second impeachment. charge.

In an opinion piece that appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer after she voted to impeach Mr. Trump in 2019, Ms. Dean admitted that she challenged a number of the president’s policies, such as his “indifference to the environment” and ” inhumanity and brutality towards the vulnerable. ”But she added that while these were not open to attack, the articles of indictment, rooted in“ attacks on our constitutional order ”, were of another case.

“To heal, we need responsibility and truth,” Ms. Dean said Wednesday. “It starts with recognizing the President’s dangerous lies and their deadly consequences.”

At 19, Ms Dean volunteered for her first campaign for a state representative, where she met her husband. After earning a law degree and opening her own practice, she changed careers to become an Assistant Professor in the English Department at La Salle University and taught writing and ethics.

She was elected state representative in 2012 and then applied for a seat in Congress after the 2016 election. In Congress, she won a seat on the House Judiciary Committee. She won her second term by 19 points in November.

Hidden in her pocket Constitution, which she takes with her at all times, is a copy of the Beatitudes.

“I carry them with me because one is a guide to life – a high standard to achieve – and the other is the law of the land,” Ms. Dean said. “One is how to live as a human being and how to live as a citizen.”

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No charge for second officer involved in Oscar Grant filming, says DA

No charges will be laid against Anthony Pirone, a former transit officer involved in the fatal Oscar Grant III shooting at a Bay Area train station, months after an investigation into the 2009 murder reopened, announced Monday a manager.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said in a recently released report that Mr Pirone could only be convicted of murder if he personally killed Mr Grant or if he aided and abetted the real killer. His office concluded that he had done neither, calling another policeman “the sole and real killer.”

“Although Pirone’s conduct was aggressive, completely unprofessional and disgraceful, she did not achieve the mental state required for a murder,” Ms O’Malley said in a video statement Monday.

In response to a brawl on a Bay Area rapid transit train, Johannes Mehserle, a white transport officer, shot Mr. Grant on New Years Day 2009 while Mr. Grant, a black man of 22 years old, lay face down, unarmed, on a train platform at Fruitvale station. The shoot was filmed on cellphone cameras and quickly spread to social media, sparking mass protests in Oakland, California, and more than a decade of calls for justice. The murder was the basis of the 2013 film “Fruitvale Station,” in which Michael B. Jordan described Mr. Grant in an account of his last 24 hours.

Mr Mehserle claimed the murder was an accident because he mistook his pistol for his stun gun, which he said he intended to use. In 2010, Mr. Mehserle was convicted of manslaughter and served 11 months in prison.

“There is no evidence that Pirone personally caused Mr Grant’s death,” Ms O’Malley wrote in the report, but said “Mr Pirone’s overly aggressive conduct contributed to the chaotic nature Of the events that took place that day.

Mr. Pirone, who is white, was seen in videos dragging Mr. Grant from the train, pinning him to the ground with one knee against his neck and using a racial slur. A long-sealed report on the murder, released in 2019, put much of the blame on Mr Pirone, and said he hit Mr Grant without justification, lied to investigators and “set off a cascade of events which ultimately led to the shooting. “

The day after the murder, Mr. Pirone was fired.

His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

The murder investigation was reopened last fall at the request of Mr Grant’s family, raising hopes that prosecutors would lay charges against Mr Pirone. Ms O’Malley said at the time that her office had “listened carefully” to the family’s requests and that she had appointed a team to “assess the evidence and the law, including the law applicable at the time and the statute of limitations and make a decision. “

Mr Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson, told reporters on Monday that her “heart ached” to hear the district attorney’s announcement after 12 years of “calling for justice,” according to the East Bay Times.

“My son lay down on the cold concrete with Officer Pirone’s knee on his neck,” she said. “My son’s head was smashed against the wall and he was kicked and pushed. Pirone still walks freely today. “

Charles Bonner, an attorney for Mr Grant’s family, said they would seek redress through other avenues.

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An impeachment charge against Trump is introduced as Republicans block a measure demanding Pence’s act.

House Democrats on Monday presented an impeachment article against President Trump for inciting a mob that attacked the Capitol last week, vowing to pressure the prosecution as Republicans blocked their decision to formally call the Vice President Mike Pence to remove him from power under the 25th Amendment.

The double-acting came as President Nancy Pelosi and her caucus sought to pressure Mr. Pence to step in and push Mr. Trump to resign. If they did not, Democrats promised immediate consequences for Mr. Trump’s role in an attack that endangered the lives of the vice president, members of Congress and thousands of working employees. on Capitol Hill as they gathered to formalize President-elect Joseph R Biden Jr.’s victory.

As expected, Republicans opposed a resolution calling on Mr Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, meaning the House is expected to call a full vote on the measure on Tuesday. Democratic leaders believed it would pass and pressured Republican lawmakers to vote with them to implore the vice president, who is said to be opposed to the use of constitutional powers, to do so.

It was a remarkable threat. If Mr Pence does not intervene “within 24 hours” and the president does not resign, the House will move on Wednesday to consider the impeachment resolution on the floor, barely a week after the attack. Already more than 210 Democrats have signed the charge, slightly less than the majority in the House. Several Republicans are said to have considered voting for impeachment for the first time, although party leaders have opposed it.

The four-page impeachment article accuses Mr. Trump of “inciting violence against the United States government” when he sowed false allegations of electoral fraud and encouraged his supporters at a rally outside the White House to take extraordinary measures to stop the counting of electoral votes underway on Capitol Hill. Soon after, rioters stormed the building, ransacking the seat of the US government and killing a Capitol Hill police officer. (Four others also died from injuries or medical emergencies on the Capitol grounds.)

Last minute changes were made on Sunday evening to include a reference to the 14th Amendment, the post-Civil War era addition to the Constitution that prohibits anyone “who has engaged in an insurgency or rebellion. Against the United States to hold future office. Lawmakers also decided to quote specific language from Mr. Trump’s speech last Wednesday, inciting the crowd, quoting him as saying, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

“In all of this, President Trump has seriously endangered the security of the United States and its government institutions,” the article read. “It threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power and endangered an equal branch of government. He thus betrayed his confidence as president, to the obvious prejudice of the people of the United States.

Lawmakers involved in the effort have warned that the language could still change before any House votes.

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Once Trump’s enemy, Cruz leads a charge to reverse his electoral loss

WASHINGTON – When Donald J. Trump lost the 2016 Iowa Caucuses to Senator Ted Cruz, in a campaign in which he insulted Mr. Cruz’s wife and father, the future president does what he usually does after a loss: Mr. Trump falsely claimed he won and accused his opponent of electoral fraud.

“What Donald does, when he loses, is he blames everyone,” replied Texas Republican Mr. Cruz at the time. “It’s never Donald’s fault.”

Four years later, Mr. Trump suffers another defeat – this time a loss of more than seven million votes for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. – and, once again, he makes baseless allegations of fraud . But this time Mr. Cruz sings a different tune.

Instead of resisting Mr. Trump’s fictions like he did in 2016 when he claimed he would not become a “bonded puppy,” Mr. Cruz leads the effort to perpetuate Mr. Trump’s fantasy that the election was stolen from him.

“We have seen in the past two months unprecedented allegations of voter fraud,” Cruz said in an interview with Fox News on Sunday. “And it has produced a deep and deep mistrust of our democratic process across the country. I think we in Congress have an obligation to do something about it.

Mr Cruz and 10 other Republican senators have proposed the creation of an election commission to investigate allegations of electoral fraud in some states within 10 days, and said they would vote to reject Mr Biden’s voters on Wednesday until ‘that only one is formed. (This is unlikely to be the case.)

Every state in the country has certified the election results after verifying their accuracy, and judges across the country have rejected nearly 60 attempts by Mr. Trump and his allies to challenge the results. Former Attorney General William P. Barr said the Justice Department did not uncover any electoral fraud that would have changed the election results.

Nonetheless, Mr Cruz, who ultimately endorsed Mr Trump in 2016 and forged a difficult alliance with him, said he was responding to the President’s efficiency, with the help of the right-wing news media, had spread the misconception that the election was “rigged” throughout the Republican base.

Mr Cruz, who declined to be interviewed for this article, described his thinking on Fox News, saying he did not want his constituents to believe he was not interested in investigating allegations of voter fraud .

But he also didn’t want “to be in a position where we suggest overturning the results of an election, just because the candidate we backed didn’t win.”

“This is not a constitutional position of principle,” added Cruz.

Mr. Cruz’s call to reject the election result is supported by Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty, both of Tennessee; Mike Braun from Indiana; Steve Daines from Montana; Ron Johnson of Wisconsin; John Kennedy of Louisiana; James Lankford of Oklahoma; Cynthia Lummis from Wyoming; Roger Marshall of Kansas; and Tommy Tuberville from Alabama.

Along with Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, who announced last week that he would oppose Congressional certification of election results, they bring the proportion of Senate Republicans who have broken with their vote to nearly a quarter. leaders to join efforts to invalidate Mr. Biden’s victory. In the House, where a group of conservatives have been preparing the latest election objection in weeks, more than half of Republicans have joined a failed trial seeking to overturn the results, and others are expected to support the effort to challenge results in Congress. Wednesday.

Those involved admitted that their efforts were unlikely to succeed. Such a challenge must be supported both by the House, where Democrats hold a majority, and by the Senate, where leading Republicans, including Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, have attempted to shut it down. .

But even as Mr. Cruz presents his decision as a legitimate attempt to get to the bottom of the fraud allegations, other Republican senators – even some of Mr. Trump’s most ardent supporters – have seen his call for a commission as a populist game to win the support of the president’s base.

“Coming up with a commission on this late date – which has no chance of becoming a reality – does not effectively fight for President Trump,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, written on twitter. “It seems to be more of a political evasion than an effective remedy.”

Senator Roy Blunt, Republican No.4, said he too believes Mr Cruz’s plan has no chance of succeeding.

“I actually like to come up with plans that have a chance to be successful,” Blunt said.

He’s also been widely condemned, including by some prominent Republicans, such as former President Paul D. Ryan and House No. 3 Republican Liz Cheney of Wyoming.

“It is difficult to conceive of a more anti-democratic and anti-conservative act than federal intervention to overturn the results of state-certified elections and deprive millions of Americans,” Ryan said in a report on Sunday. rare release.

Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse told reporters on Capitol Hill that he was concerned that such spreading of electoral fraud myths could cause divisions in the country.

“Obviously, that’s not healthy for the Republican Party either,” Sasse said. “What’s good for America is the main question here, but it’s bad for the country and bad for the party.”

Senators who joined Mr. Cruz’s efforts tried to play down their actions to reporters on Capitol Hill as mere token support for Mr. Trump.

“This is a protest vote only, because there is, in my opinion, no chance that anything will come of it,” Braun told reporters. “The House is obviously not going to vote for the annulment. I don’t think you would even come close to the Senate. So above all, it remains for many of us a way to express your opinion. “

Mr Lankford said on Sunday his intention was to make a “statement” to his constituents who believe Mr Trump won and the election was rigged.

“None of us want to vote against the voters, but we all want to get the facts out,” Lankford said. “We’re trying to make a statement about it.”

Emily cochrane and Catie edmondson contribution to reports.

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No charge for Indianapolis officer who killed man after chase

An Indianapolis grand jury has decided not to indict a police officer who in May shot dead a 21-year-old man who police said shot the officer, officials said on Tuesday.

The murder was one of three deadly encounters between civilians and police in the city during a traumatic eight-hour period, sparking protests and calls for reform.

A special prosecutor overseeing the case, Rosemary Khoury, told a press conference that she presented “a very thorough and comprehensive investigation” to the grand jury and that her ruling meant he determined “that ‘there was not enough evidence to charge or charge’ the officer with a crime.

At times, Ms. Khoury, deputy district attorney for Madison County, India, appeared to hold back tears as she announced the grand jury’s decision. At one point, she told reporters, “I have to believe justice has been served because I trust our system. I have confidence in our legal system.

Ms Khoury expressed sympathy for the family of the victim, Dreasjon Reed, and the officer, Dejoure Mercer, who, like her, are black.

“I don’t know how Mr. Reed’s mother feels, but I am the mother of two black boys,” Ms. Khoury said. “I am also very empathetic towards Agent Mercer. I know it must have been a difficult position.

The fatal meeting took place on the night of May 6 and led to protests in the city. Mr. Reed broadcast parts of the episode on Facebook Live.

Ms Khoury said on Tuesday that state law prevented her from discussing evidence presented to the grand jury and she declined to say what charges she asked them to consider against the officer. She also declined to comment on how much consideration the grand jury gave to the widely viewed video of the encounter that appeared on Facebook.

At around 6 p.m. on May 6, the police chief and deputy chief were both driving unmarked cars and noticed that Mr. Reed was driving recklessly. When they tried to stop him, he continued to drive and started recording.

Police called off the car chase because it was deemed too dangerous. But as Mr. Reed got out of the car and fled, Agent Mercer, who was nearby, pursued him, shot him and killed him.

Randal Taylor, the police chief, later said a gun was found near Mr Reed and was fired twice, but it was not clear “what shots fire had been fired and when ”.

Thousands of people tuned in to Mr. Reed’s live broadcast when he was shot, but much of the encounter took place off camera. Police said no body camera or dashboard recorded the murder.

The video captured a morbid joke of a detective, out of view of the camera, after Mr. Reed was shot. “I think it’s gonna be a closed casket, mate,” said the detective, apparently referring to Mr. Reed’s funeral.

The police department said in a statement Tuesday that it welcomed the grand jury’s decision, while acknowledging that “this result may be frustrating for some of our residents.”

The department also said it hoped the “full transparency” of the special prosecutor in this case as well as the police commissioner “would help move our city forward, improve relations between our officers and neighborhoods, and bring us closer to. healing of division in our community.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said in a statement, “This ruling ends the criminal review of the interaction, but it does not address the divisions in our community caused by a heartbreaking incident like this.”

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs contributed reporting.

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Kenosha prosecutors drop sexual assault charge against Jacob Blake

In Kenosha County Circuit Court on Friday, prosecutors and Mr Blake’s attorney resolved charges he incurred after a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her in May.

Prosecutors have dropped one count of third-degree sexual assault squarely and agreed to drop one count of criminal trespass if Mr Blake pleads guilty to two counts of disorderly conduct, court records and attorney show by Mr. Blake, Patrick Cafferty.

Mr Blake, who appeared in court virtually via Zoom, pleaded guilty to both disorderly conduct charges and was sentenced to two years probation, Mr Cafferty said.

“I think it was a fair resolution to these accusations,” Cafferty said in an interview.

Mr Blake had argued that he did not commit a sexual assault and, by dropping the charge, Mr Cafferty said, prosecutors acknowledged that “in the end, the state could not prove in court ”.

Walworth County District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld, who had pursued the case, did not immediately respond to emails and phone calls on Friday evening.

Mr Cafferty said the resolution of the case would not affect the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation into Mr Blake’s shooting. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mr Blake was gunned down on August 23 after officers responded to a domestic complaint from a woman who called 911 to report he was at her home, state officials said. An arrest warrant for Mr Blake was issued in July after she accused him of sexually assaulting her in May.

Police tasered on Mr. Blake, but it failed to stop them, and Constable Rusten Sheskey fired his gun seven times in Mr. Blake’s back, as Mr. Blake attempted to get into a car, state authorities said.

Mr. Blake was left paralyzed from waist to toe, his family said.

Authorities said Mr Blake admitted to having a knife, which was later found on the floor of the driver’s side of his car.

Ben Crump, an attorney for Mr Blake’s family, denied Mr Blake carried a knife and said Mr Blake attempted to break up a disturbance involving two women when police arrived.

Constable Sheskey and two other officers who were present at the shooting were put on administrative leave in August.

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With winter on the way and Trump still in charge, virus experts fear the worst

Mr Biden said if elected president he would take a very different approach to the virus, acting aggressively to encourage – and possibly mandate – mask wear and remain open to imposing restrictions if necessary to slow the spread of the virus.

Mr Biden’s political advisers drew up plans that would go into effect upon taking office, including stepping up testing, ensuring a steady supply of protective gear, handing out a vaccine and getting money from Congress for schools and hospitals.

Under normal circumstances – not counting Mr. Trump’s transition in 2016 – Mr. Biden would likely wait to move these plans forward. Presidents-elect have generally chosen not to be in the limelight until inauguration day, following the general principle that the United States should have one president at a time.

And outgoing presidents, even of opposing parties, often try to support the efforts of their successors, especially when the country is in the midst of a crisis.

But few in Washington expect an orderly transition if Mr. Biden wins.

Mr. Trump is unlikely to stick to established traditions, and he has made his views on the virus clear at numerous rallies in the closing days of the campaign, telling crowds that a vaccine will arrive soon to end the threat.

“It’s ending anyway, but we’ve got the biggest companies in the world and we’re literally weeks away,” Trump told supporters in Butler, Pa. On Saturday. “We will eradicate the virus faster, eliminate the scourge from China once and for all, and we will return to work, to work, that’s what we want. Do you know what we want? We want normal.

Dr Koplan said if Mr Biden wins, he should move quickly to build relationships with governors and unveil a national strategy for the pandemic.