February 22, 2019

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North Carolina Officials Order New Election in Disputed House Race

North Carolina Officials Order New Election in Disputed House RaceNorth Carolina officials on Thursday ordered that a second election take place in the state's ninth district after the initially victorious Republican candidate conceded that the first vote was tainted by an illegal get-out-the-vote effort indirectly backed by his campaign.The state board of elections voted unanimously to hold a second election after being presented with evidence that Leslie McCrae McDowless, a contractor hired by Republican Mark Harris's campaign, ordered his volunteers to go door-to-door collecting absentee ballots and, in some cases, filling them out in favor of Harris.After resisting calls for a new election since November, Harris relented on the witness stand on Thursday and conceded that public faith in the election had been sufficiently eroded so as to warrant a new election.“It’s become clear to me that the public’s confidence in the Ninth District’s general election has been undermined to an extent that a new election is warranted,” Harris said.Harris still maintains, however, that he was unaware of McDowless activities at the time they occurred. Neither McDowless nor any of his volunteers, many of whom are family and friends, have yet been charged in connection with the scheme.McDowless has previously been charged with felony fraud and was accused in 2016 of interfering with absentee ballot collection in a different race.


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North Carolina voter fraud: New election ordered after Republican operatives ‘illegally collected ballots’

North Carolina voter fraud: New election ordered after Republican operatives ‘illegally collected ballots’A new vote has been ordered in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District after the republican in the race admitted his lead over his democratic opponent was tainted by ballot-tampering conducted by operatives working for is campaign. The new vote was approved unanimously by the state's board of elections on Thursday after several days of evidentiary hearings in which witnesses said that operatives hired by the campaign of Mark Harris conducted illegal door-to-door ballot harvesting in violation of state law. Mr Harris, who had previously pushed back on the notion that his victory came as a result of any voter fraud, agreed on Thursday that his 905-vote lead over Democrat Dan McCready may have been impacted by that tampering.


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IRS Analyst Charged with Leaking Michael Cohen’s Bank Records to Avenatti

IRS Analyst Charged with Leaking Michael Cohen’s Bank Records to AvenattiAn Internal Revenue Service analyst was charged Thursday with leaking confidential reports that revealed President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen sought to profit from his White House access.The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California charged analyst John Fry for leaking a suspicious activity report (SAR) to Michael Avenatti, the attorney who represented pornographer Stormy Daniels in her defamation case against President Trump.Avenatti published the SAR on Twitter last May, revealing to the public that Cohen set up a shell company known as Essential Consultants in order to collect payments from a number of corporations hoping to influence Trump administration policy. Cohen used the same shell company to make a $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels.During the Trump campaign and transition period, Cohen received hundreds of thousands of dollars from corporations, including Korea Aerospace Industries, AT&T, and Columbus Nova, a New York affiliate of the Russian corporation Renova Group which is owned by a Russian oligarch who donated to Trump's campaign and has been sanctioned by the U.S.According to the indictment filed Thursday, Avenatti also shared Fry's information with the New Yorker's Ronan Farrow.


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Pope Francis Lays Out Plan to Combat Sex Abuse in Church

Pope Francis Lays Out Plan to Combat Sex Abuse in ChurchOn Thursday, the opening day of a Vatican summit addressing the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy, Pope Francis laid out a 21-point plan to combat the crisis battering the Church in almost all corners of the world.“We hear the cry of the little ones asking for justice,” Francis said. "We sense the weight of the pastoral and ecclesial responsibility that obliges us to discuss together, in a synodal, frank, and in-depth manner, how to confront this evil afflicting the Church and humanity. The holy people of God looks to us, and expects from us not simple and predictable condemnations, but concrete and effective measures to be undertaken."Some of the recommendations Francis listed include informing the civil authorities and higher ecclesiastical authorities about incidents of abuse, protecting and offering support to victims, raising the minimum age for marriage to 16, and setting up protocols to handle various situations.The Vatican’s top sex-crimes investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, called Francis's "reflection points" a "road map for our discussion."The four-day summit, dubbed “The Protection of Minors in the Church,” has gathered 190 Church leaders from around the world. Francis has said that the summit is designed to determine “how best to protect children, to avoid these tragedies, to bring healing and restoration to the victims, and to improve the training imparted in seminaries.”"May the Virgin Mary enlighten us as we seek to heal the grave wounds that the scandal of pedophilia has caused, both in the little ones and in believers," the pope said in his opening speech.Francis has been excoriated by large swaths of the Church for his tepid response to new, shocking revelations over the past year that thousands of priests abused minors and adult seminarians and that certain Church leaders, including possibly Francis himself, covered up their crimes.However, in December, Francis ordered abusers to turn themselves in to civil authorities.“To those who abuse minors I would say this: Convert and hand yourself over to human justice, and prepare for divine justice,” the pope said in his Christmas address to the Vatican Curia.The Survivor's Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) released a statement critical of the new plan, saying that it is not adequate and will likely be ignored."We have heard these words before," SNAP said. "Formalizing these points into policy is meaningless without any willingness to back them up with punishment."


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Trump news: President's ally Roger Stone banned from speaking about case after Instagram post of judge

Trump news: President's ally Roger Stone banned from speaking about case after Instagram post of judgeFBI special counsel Robert Mueller could hand in his report into allegations members of the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 US presidential election as early as next week, according to reports on Wednesday. As that report was hypothesised about, Donald Trump’s former confidant, the flamboyant political consultant Roger Stone, appeared in court after posting an image on Instagram appearing to threaten a US district judge overseeing his criminal trial, itself instigated by Mr Mueller’s investigation. House Democrats will meanwhile file a resolution tomorrow against Mr Trump’s controversial decision to declare a national emergency over illegal immigration from the southwestern border in order to bypass Congress and get his wall built.


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