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Dr. Vanessa Tyson Gains Support For Coming Forward With Fairfax Assault Allegations

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Via The New York Times this week, five people said that Dr. Tyson told them over the last two years that she had been sexually assaulted in an encounter at the convention, and that her account was consistent with her public statement this week. The people said she provided varying levels of detail to them, but three of them said she identified the assailant as Mr. Fairfax, a lieutenant governor, or a politician on the rise.

Tyson did not tell anyone about the assault after it occurred in 2004, and she did not report the assault to local police.

But throughout academia, there has been an outpouring of encouragement for Dr. Tyson, 42, who has taught at Scripps College in California and Dickinson College in Pennsylvania over the last decade, and earned a Ph.D in political science from the University of Chicago.

More than 740 academics have signed a letter of support for her, according to its organizer, Nadia E. Brown, a political scientist at Purdue University who said Dr. Tyson also told her of the assault. A GoFundMe account, set up by a political scientist at Menlo College in California, had raised more than $20,000 as of Friday morning. A hashtag has sprung up on Twitter: #IBelieveVanessa.

“Everything she said in her statement was exactly what she told me when we talked,” said Diane L. Rosenfeld, a founding director of the Gender Violence Program at Harvard Law School, who said Dr. Tyson told her of the assault in December 2017.

“She’s not doing this for any fame,” Dr. Rosenfeld added. “She’s not suing him for money, so disbelievers and doubters can’t say, ‘Oh, she just wants money.’ She just wants, as she says, the Virginia voters to know who this person is.”

Dr. Tyson’s account was also partly corroborated late Wednesday night by Representative Bobby Scott, Democrat of Virginia, whose aides said Dr. Tyson told the congressman a year ago that she had made an allegation of sexual assault against Mr. Fairfax, without offering details.

In her statement, Dr. Tyson described a forced sexual encounter with Mr. Fairfax in a Boston hotel room while the two were working at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. It began with kissing that was “not unwelcome,” she said, but quickly escalated into non-consensual oral sex.

She asked for privacy, insisting that she wanted to resume her life as an academic and professor. “I do not want to get embroiled in this highly charged political environment,” she wrote in the statement.

Health

Judge Rejects Anti-Vaxxer Lawsuit Against New York City’s Vaccine Mandate

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A state judge on Thursday rejected a lawsuit filed by anti-vaccination parents who sought to lift New York City’s new measles vaccination mandate, as parts of the metropolis continue to face an outbreak.


“A fireman need not obtain the informed consent of the owner before extinguishing a house fire,” Judge Lawrence Knipel wrote in his ruling. “Vaccination is known to extinguish the fire of contagion.”

Five anonymous parents in Brooklyn filed the lawsuit earlier this week against the city health department for ordering the mandatory vaccinations in parts of the borough amid a growing outbreak of the measles virus concentrated in the Williamsburg area. The lawsuit said the city’s response is “irrational,” and that the spread of the virus does not pose a clear danger to public health.

Knipel ruled that the city’s decision to require measles vaccinations during the outbreak is supported by “largely uncontroverted” evidence.

New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot issued the emergency order on April 9, requiring everyone who lives and works within four Brooklyn ZIP codes to receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine if they hadn’t already gotten it. Failure to comply with the mandate could result in misdemeanor punishments, including criminal fines or imprisonment.

The city has already issued summons to three people who refused the mandate and face $1,000 in fines.

As of Wednesday, the measles outbreak has infected at least 329 people since October, mostly children from Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn, according to Barbot. Many Orthodox Jewish people believe vaccinations go against Jewish or Talmudic law, resulting in low vaccination rates for some communities.

Barbot praised the decision to dismiss the lawsuit, saying in a statement to HuffPost that it “will protect New Yorkers from a very dangerous infection with potentially fatal consequences.”

She added that officials “do not want to issue violations but will continue and hope that New Yorkers make the best choice for their families, their neighbors and their own health ― to get vaccinated.”

(Reporting by HuffPost)

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Court Rulings

Federal Appeals Court Backs California Laws To Protect Immigrants

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Thursday kept in place three California laws intended to protect immigrants, continuing the state’s efforts to be a national leader in opposing Trump administration policies.


The court upheld lower court rulings denying the Trump administration’s request to block law enforcement from providing release dates and personal information of people in jail, as well as to throw out a law barring employers from allowing immigration officials on their premises unless the officials have a warrant.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected U.S. District Judge John Mendez’s reasoning last year for denying a portion of the third law, which requires the state to review detention facilities where immigrants are held. It ruled that the section requiring the state to review circumstances surrounding the apprehension and transfer of detainees puts an impermissible burden on the federal government.

But the appellate panel said Mendez can consider rejecting a preliminary injunction for that section on other legal grounds.

The U.S. Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has repeatedly sued the Trump administration mostly over immigration and environmental decisions, said the ruling shows that states’ rights “continue to thrive.”

“We continue to prove in California that the rule of law not only stands for something but that people cannot act outside of it,” Becerra said in a statement.

California officials have said the immigration laws promote trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement, while the administration argued the state is allowing dangerous criminals on the streets.

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Mueller Report

Trump Attempted To Choke Russian Probe, Oust Mueller, Redacted Report States

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Special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as released on Thursday, April 18, 2019, is photographed in Washington. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Public at last, special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed to a waiting nation Thursday that President Donald Trump tried to seize control of the Russia probe and force Mueller’s removal to stop him from investigating potential obstruction of justice by the president. Trump was largely thwarted by those around him.


Mueller laid out multiple episodes in which Trump directed others to influence or curtail the Russia investigation after the special counsel’s appointment in May 2017. Those efforts “were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” Mueller wrote.

After nearly two years, the two-volume, 448-page redacted report made for riveting reading.

In one particularly dramatic moment, Mueller reported that Trump was so agitated at the special counsel’s appointment on May 17, 2017, that he slumped back in his chair and declared: “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m f—ed.”

With that, Trump set out to save himself.

In June of that year, Mueller wrote, Trump directed White House Counsel Don McGahn to call Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the probe, and say that Mueller must be ousted because he had conflicts of interest. McGahn refused — deciding he would rather resign than trigger a potential crisis akin to the Saturday Night Massacre of Watergate firings fame.

Two days later, the president made another attempt to alter the course of the investigation, meeting with former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and dictating a message for him to relay to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The message: Sessions would publicly call the investigation “very unfair” to the president, declare Trump did nothing wrong and say that Mueller should limit his probe to “investigating election meddling for future elections.” The message was never delivered.

The report’s bottom line largely tracked the findings revealed in Attorney General William Barr’s four-page memo released a month ago — no collusion with Russia, no clear verdict on obstruction — but it added troubling layers of detailabout Trump’s efforts to thwart the investigation. Looking ahead, both sides were already using the findings to amplify well-rehearsed arguments about Trump’s conduct, Republicans casting him as a victim of harassment and Democrats depicting the president as stepping far over the line to derail the investigation.

The Justice Department released a redacted version of the report about 90 minutes after Attorney General William Barr offered his own final assessment of the findings at a testy Justice Department news conference. The nation, Congress and Trump’s White House consumed the report voraciously — online, via a compact disc delivered to legislators and in loose-leaf binders distributed to reporters.

The release represented a moment of closure nearly two years in the making but also the starting bell for a new round of partisan warfare.

A defiant Trump pronounced it “a good day” and tweeted a photo declaring “Game Over” in a typeface mimicking the “Game of Thrones” logo.

Top Republicans in Congress saw vindication, too.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said it was time to move on from Democrats’ effort to “vilify a political opponent.” The California lawmaker said the report failed to deliver the “imaginary evidence” incriminating Trump that Democrats had sought.

But Democrats cried foul over Barr’s preemptive press conference and said the report revealed troubling details about Trump’s conduct in the White House.

“Even in its incomplete form, the Mueller report outlines disturbing evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice and other misconduct,” said House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler.

He sent a letter to the Justice Department requesting that Mueller himself testify before his panel “no later than May 23” and said he’d be issuing a subpoena for the full special counsel report and the underlying materials. Barr said he wouldn’t object to Mueller testifying.

Trump himself was never questioned in person, but the report’s appendix includes 12 pages of his written responses to queries from Mueller’s team.

Mueller deemed Trump’s written answers — rife with iterations of “I don’t recall” — to be “inadequate.” The team considered issuing a subpoena to force the president to appear in person, but decided against it after weighing the likelihood of a long legal battle.

In his written answers, Trump said his comment during a 2016 political rally asking Russian hackers to help find emails scrubbed from Clinton’s private server was made “in jest and sarcastically” and that he did not recall being told during the campaign of any Russian effort to infiltrate or hack computer systems.

But Mueller said that within five hours of Trump’s comment, Russian military intelligence officers targeted email accounts connected to Clinton’s office.

Mueller evaluated 10 episodes for possible obstruction of justice, and said he could not conclusively determine that Trump had committed criminal obstruction. The episodes included Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, the president’s directive to subordinates to have Mueller fired and efforts to encourage witnesses not to cooperate.

The president’s lawyers have said Trump’s conduct fell within his constitutional powers, but Mueller’s team deemed the episodes deserving of scrutiny for potential criminal acts.

As for the question of whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, Mueller wrote, “While the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges.”

Workers at a Russian troll farm contacted Trump’s campaign, claiming to be political activists for conservative grassroots organizations, and asked for signs and other campaign materials to use at rallies. While volunteers provided some of those materials — and set aside a number of signs — investigators don’t believe any Trump campaign officials knew the requests were coming from foreign nationals, Mueller wrote.

Mueller also said there wasn’t sufficient evidence to charge any campaign official with working as an unregistered foreign agent of Russia or violating federal campaign finance laws.

Josh Blackman, a professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston, stressed that Mueller didn’t think the president’s obligations to run the executive branch entitled him to absolute immunity from prosecution. But to find that the president obstructed justice, he said, Mueller would have needed much clearer evidence that the president acted solely with “corrupt intent.”

“The evidence was sort of muddled,” Blackman said, adding that the president’s actions had multiple motivations.

Trump’s written responses addressed no questions about obstruction of justice, as was part of an agreement with Trump’s legal team.

He told Mueller he had “no recollection” of learning in advance about the much-scrutinized Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and a Russian lawyer. He also said he had no recollection of knowledge about emails setting up the meeting that promised dirt on Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

He broadly denied knowing of any foreign government trying to help his campaign, including the Russian government. He said he was aware of some reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin had made “complimentary statements” about him.

It wasn’t just Trump under the microscope. But Mueller wrote that he believed prosecutors would be unlikely to meet the burden of proof to show that Donald Trump Jr. and other participants in the Trump Tower meeting “had general knowledge that their conduct was unlawful.” Nor did Mueller’s probe develop evidence that they knew that foreign contributions to campaigns were illegal or other particulars of federal law.

Barr’s contention that the report contained only “limited redactions” applied more to the obstruction of justice section than its look at Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign.

Nearly two-thirds of the Russia section —135 pages out of 199— had some form of color-coded redaction. Blocked sections appeared on 22 of 182 pages in the obstruction section, and even showed up in the report’s table of contents. Barr had said that he would redact grand jury information and material related to ongoing investigation, privacy and intelligence.

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