Two ex-Proud Boys leaders get some of longest sentences in Jan. 6 Capitol attack
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two former leaders of the far-right Proud Boys extremist group were sentenced to more than a decade each in prison Thursday for spearheading an attack on the U.S. Capitol to try to prevent the peaceful transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden after the 2020 presidential election.
The 17-year prison term for organizer Joseph Biggs and 15-year sentence for leader Zachary Rehl were the second and third longest sentences handed down yet in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.
They were the first Proud Boys to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, who will separately preside over similar hearings of three others who were convicted by a jury in May after a four-month trial in Washington that laid bare far-right extremists’ embrace of lies by Trump, a Republican, that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
Enrique Tarrio, a Miami resident who was the Proud Boys’ national chairman and top leader, is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday. His sentencing was moved from Wednesday to next week because U.S. District Kelly was sick.
Tarrio wasn’t in Washington on Jan. 6. He had been arrested two days before the Capitol riot on charges that he defaced a Black Lives Matter banner during an earlier rally in the nation’s capital, and he complied with a judge’s order to leave the city after his arrest. He picked Biggs and Proud Boys chapter president Ethan Nordean to be the group’s leaders on the ground in his absence, prosecutors said.
Justice Clarence Thomas reports he took 3 trips on Republican donor's plane last year
WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas acknowledged Thursday that he took three trips last year aboard a private plane owned by Republican megadonor Harlan Crow even as he rejected criticism over his failure to report trips in previous years.
It's the first time in years that Thomas has reported receiving hospitality from Crow. In a filing posted on the federal judiciary's website, the 75-year-old justice said he was complying with new guidelines from the federal judiciary for reporting travel, but did not include any earlier travel at Crow's expense, including a 2019 trip in Indonesia aboard the yacht owned by the wealthy businessman and benefactor of conservative causes.
The report comes amid a heightened focus on ethics at the high court that stems from a series of reports revealing that Thomas has for years received undisclosed expensive gifts, including international travel, from Crow.
Crow also purchased the house in Georgia where Thomas’s mother continues to live and paid for two years of private school tuition for a child raised by Thomas and his wife, Ginni.
The reporting by the investigative news site ProPublica also revealed that Justice Samuel Alito failed to disclose a private trip to Alaska he took in 2008 that was paid for by two wealthy Republican donors, one of whom repeatedly had interests before the court.
A look inside Donald Trump's deposition: Defiance, deflection and the 'hottest brand in the world'
NEW YORK (AP) — In newly public testimony, Donald Trump boasts about building a multibillion-dollar brand and saving “millions of lives” as president.
He spars with the New York attorney general suing him for fraud, telling Letitia James “the whole case is crazy” and accusing her staff of trying to trip him up like TV lawyer Perry Mason did to witnesses.
Trump gave seven hours of sworn testimony in April as part of James' lawsuit, which accused the Republican and his company of defrauding banks, insurers and others with annual financial statements that inflated the value of assets and boosted his net worth by more than $2 billion in some years.
Trump's lawyers posted a transcript of his deposition in a flurry of court filings Wednesday, ahead of a possible October trial.
Here are the highlights:
Election workers have gotten death threats and warnings they will be lynched, the US government says
WASHINGTON (AP) — More than a dozen people nationally have been charged with threatening election workers by a Justice Department unit trying to stem the tide of violent and graphic threats against people who count and secure the vote.
Government employees are being bombarded with threats even in normally quiet periods between elections, secretaries of state and experts warn. Some point to former President Donald Trump and his allies repeatedly and falsely claiming the 2020 election was stolen and spreading conspiracy theories about election workers. Experts fear the 2024 election could be worse and want the federal government to do more to protect election workers.
The Justice Department created the Election Threats Task Force in 2021 led by its public integrity section, which investigates election crimes. John Keller, the unit's second in command, said in an interview with The Associated Press that the department hoped its prosecutions would deter others from threatening election workers.
“This isn’t going to be taken lightly. It’s not going to be trivialized,” he said. “Federal judges, the courts are taking misconduct seriously and the punishments are going to be commensurate with the seriousness of the conduct.”
Two more men pleaded guilty Thursday to threatening election workers in Arizona and Georgia in separate cases. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department would keep up the investigations, adding, “A functioning democracy requires that the public servants who administer our elections are able to do their jobs without fearing for their lives."
Residents pick through the rubble of lost homes and scattered belongings in Hurricane Idalia's wake
HORSESHOE BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Florida and Georgia residents living along Hurricane Idalia's path of destruction on Thursday picked through piles of rubble where homes once stood, threw tarps over ripped-apart roofs and gingerly navigated streets left underwater or clogged with fallen trees and dangerous electric wires.
“My plan today is to go around and find anything that’s in the debris that is salvageable and clean out my storage shed," said Aimee Firestine of Cedar Key, an island located in the remote Big Bend area where Idalia roared ashore with 125 mph (201 kph) winds Wednesday.
Firestine rode out Idalia about 40 minutes inland. When she drove back onto the island hours after the storm passed, her heart sank. The gas station was gone. Trees were toppled. Power lines were on the ground. An entire building belonging to the 12-unit Faraway Inn her family owns had been wiped away. Another building lost a wall.
“It was a little heart-wrenching and depressing,” Firestine said.
At Horseshoe Beach in central Big Bend, James Nobles returned to find his home had survived the storm, though many his neighbors weren’t as lucky.
US regulators might change how they classify marijuana. Here's what that would mean
NEW YORK (AP) — The news lit up the world of weed: U.S. health regulators are suggesting that the federal government loosen restrictions on marijuana.
Specifically, the federal Health and Human Services Department has recommended taking marijuana out of a category of drugs deemed to have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” The agency advised moving pot from that “Schedule I” group to the less tightly regulated “Schedule III.”
So what does that mean, and what are the implications? Read on.
FIRST OF ALL, WHAT HAS ACTUALLY CHANGED? WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Technically, nothing yet. Any decision on reclassifying — or “rescheduling,” in government lingo — is up to the Drug Enforcement Administration, which says it will take up the issue. The review process is lengthy and involves taking public comment.
Texas high court allows law banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors to take effect
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas Supreme Court allowed a new state law banning gender-affirming care for minors to take effect on Friday, setting up Texas to be the most populous state with such restrictions on transgender children.
Legal advocates who sued on behalf of the families and doctors, including the American Civil Liberties Union, called the law and the high court's decision Thursday “cruel.“
“Transgender youth and their families are forced to confront the start of the school year fearful of what awaits them. But let us be clear: The fight is far from over,” the advocacy groups said in a joint statement.
Last week, a state district judge ruled the pending law violated the rights of transgender children and their families to seek appropriate medical care, and violated doctors’ ability to follow “well-established, evidence-based” medical guidelines under threat of losing their license.
The judge issued a temporary injunction to block the law and state officials immediately appealed to the state’s highest court for civil cases.
Pope arrives on first visit to Mongolia as Vatican relations with Russia and China remain strained
ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (AP) — Pope Francis arrived in Mongolia on Friday morning on a visit to encourage one of the world’s smallest and newest Catholic communities.
It's the first time a pope has visited the landlocked Asian country and comes at a time when the Vatican’s relations with Mongolia’s two powerful neighbors, Russia and China, are once again strained.
Francis arrived in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar after an overnight flight passing through Chinese airspace, affording the pontiff a rare opportunity to send a note of greetings to President Xi Jinping. Vatican protocol calls for the pope to send such greetings whenever he flies over a foreign country.
In his message to Xi, Francis expressed “greetings of good wishes to your excellency and the people of China.”
“Assuring you of my prayers for the wellbeing of the nation, I invoke upon all of you the divine blessings of unity and peace,” Francis said.
Biden administration proposes rule that would require more firearms dealers to run background checks
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is proposing a rule that would require thousands more firearms dealers to run background checks, in an effort to combat rising gun violence nationwide.
The proposal comes after a mandate from President Joe Biden to find ways to strengthen background checks following the passage of bipartisan legislation on guns last year.
People who sell firearms online, at gun shows or other places outside brick-and-mortar stores would be required to be licensed and run background checks on the buyers before the sales under the rule proposed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
A firearm-industry trade group swiftly raised concerns about the proposal, though, and said it could face a court challenge if finalized in its current form.
The bureau estimates that the rule would affect anywhere from 24,500 to 328,000 sellers. It is aimed at those who are in the business of gun sales, rather than those with personal collections.
'Walking Dead' spinoffs, 'Interview With the Vampire' can resume with actors' union approval
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A pair of spinoffs of “The Walking Dead” and the next season of “Interview With the Vampire” can resume production despite the ongoing Hollywood strikes after reaching an agreement with the actors' union.
The three AMC series are the highest-profile television productions yet to get what's known as an interim agreement from the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
The approval was granted Wednesday because the cable channel AMC and production company Stalwart Films are not part of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers — the coalition of studios the actors are striking against — though they are what's known as “authorized companies” that abide by the contracts reached by the AMPTP.
“The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon” and “Interview With the Vampire” will now resume shooting their second seasons. And the deal will allow actors to do post-production work on the first season of “The Walking Dead: Those Who Live.”
No new writing will be allowed on the series because the Writers Guild of America, in perhaps the most significant divergence in strategy with the actors union, has opted not to grant any such agreements.
The Associated Press