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Capitol Rioters Are Now Blaming Trump in Their Court Appearances

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The results of the impeachment trial of former president Donald Trump could benefit those criminally charged in connection with the Capitol Riot.

What We Know:

  • So far, attorneys for at least 7 accused rioters have referenced Trump in efforts to explain their clients’ actions, according to statements and documents. Former U.S Attorney Harry Litman exclaimed that legally blaming Trump would be “difficult, but practically, it makes sense”. Litman continued to explain that blaming Trump is the only smart move for a defendant’s argument. The chess move could create sympathy with jurors and might even require Trump to be subpoenaed. This is considered to be a major logistical obstacle for prosecutors, as the move would slow down cases and force prosecutors to drop to lesser charges.
  • According to Dr. Ziv Cohen, criminal forensic psychiatrist, defendants in Capitol Riot cases are using what is called the “public authority defense”. It’s typically used in law enforcement collaboration cases where a defendant denies criminal liability, essentially pushing the blame on a public authority entity. Unreasonable or excessive use of this defense could lead to a violation and criminal charge.
  • While not far from unreasonable, prosecutors are still using every tool at their disposal to convict the accused. Prosecutors also cited defendants’ pro-Trump social media posts in an attempt to prove the defendants were at the Capitol.
  • The main argument prosecutors of these cases are trying to convince judges is that these people will remain dangerous. Former federal prosecutor Adam S. Fels believes this is because “they’re willing to engage in violent conduct on the perceived instructions of the president of the United States”.
  • Former President Trump managed to be acquitted in his second impeachment trial with only 7 Republicans voting to convict him. Mitch McConnell, for example, voted to acquit Trump on the basis of what he viewed as “a constitutional limitation of impeachment”. In laymen’s terms, McConnell believes the Capitol rioters behaved the way they did because the “most powerful man on Earth” fed them falsehoods.
  • When asked if Trump was responsible for the Capitol Riots, 89% of Republicans replied “no” in a recent poll. Another poll from Quinniac University, released on Monday, claims that 56% of Republicans believe Trump “did everything he could” to stop the insurrection attack. Despite various evidence that would argue the contrary, it appears most republicans are continuing to shrug off Trump’s responsibility for the January 6th attack.

The fate of the Capitol rioters on trial continues to update amidst news of former president Donald Trump’s acquittal from impeachment.

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Crime

Classes canceled at Howard University as US Government investigates ransomware cyberattack

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Howard University officials along with leading cyber experts are trying to assess what has been compromised in an active ransomware, cyberattack on the HBCU campus. Officials have deemed the attack criminal.

What We Know:

  • Monday, the university issued a statement to faculty and students that “the service disruption was caused by a ransomware cyberattack against the university.”
  • Classes have been canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Students have been notified that online and hybrid classes will remain canceled and only essential staff will be allowed on campus. All in-person undergraduate, graduate, professional, and clinical experiential courses will resume as scheduled on Wednesday.
  • A ransomware attack can be triggered by simple, everyday activity. Opening a unintended link inside of can lead to a cyberattack.  Computer, tablet and phone users are encouraged to change their passwords and security questions regularly.

Howard University is home to several notable high profile Black alumni such as Chadwick Boseman and Phylicia Rashad.

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Crime

New Orleans 911 Operator Wanted After Allegedly Disconnecting Calls on Purpose

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A New Orleans 911 operator deliberately disconnected emergency calls without obtaining necessary information or relaying the callers’ emergencies to other dispatchers, and she is now facing arrest, according to authorities.

What We Know:

  • Precious Stephens, 25, is wanted on a count of malfeasance in office, and she remained at large Thursday, police said. She has been fired from her job as a 911 operator, officials said.

“(The district) has and will continue to cooperate with the … investigation into this matter and dedicated to providing any and all assistance to aid in (the) efforts.”

  • Stephens worked for the Orleans Parish Communication District, which dispatches first responders to 911 calls. On Aug. 24, the district reported to police that Stephens had deliberately disconnected 911 calls without obtaining vital information or informing other dispatchers about the callers who were in need of help.  The district conducted an investigation into the quality of a random set of calls when they detected the problems with Stephens during her shifts Aug. 20 and Aug. 21, officials said.  A statement from the district highlighted how its own internal protocols identified the issues with Stephens, who was immediately turned over to police and dismissed from her post.

Police asked anyone who knows where Stephens is to call Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111. Tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward.

Louisiana law defines malfeasance in office as unlawfully performing a job in public service. It can carry up to five years in prison.

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R&B Star R. Kelly Jurors Summoned for Sex Trafficking Trial

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The first phase of R. Kelly‘s trial began on Aug. 9 with a jury selection after several delays.

What We Know:

  • U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly asked potential jurors if they could keep an open mind about Kelly as he faces charges for abusing women and girls for nearly two decades. Donnelly also reminded jurors that Kelly was presumed innocent, so they should not feel influenced by any bad publicity the singer experienced because of the accusations.
  • Due to pandemic restrictions, the event took place online. Because of this, Kelly and the jurors faced difficulty popping up on the screen and the audio cut off at times.
  • During the trial, jurors will expect to hear testimonies from several of Kelly’s accusers. In addition, a judge ruled that officials may only use the women’s first names. Currently, Kelly faces sex trafficking charges. Scrutiny around Kelly’s sexual behavior has followed him for decades. These include charges for child pornography. Alongside the sex-trafficking case in New York, Kelly also faces sex-related charges against him in Illinois and Minnesota.
  • In addition, prosecutors might provide evidence that Kelly schemed with others to buy a fake ID for late R&B singer Aaliyah. In 1994, when Aaliyah was only 15, Kelly married and began a sexual relationship with her; it is also speculated he impregnated her. Prosecutors believe he married her so that she could not testify against him.
  • In regards to his sex-trafficking trial, Kelly denies any wrongdoing; he has pleaded not guilty to leading a criminal enterprise of managers, bodyguards, and other employees who recruited women and girls for sex. Concerning the criminal enterprise, federal prosecutors reported the group found victims at concerts and other venues. After recruiting the women and children, they would make travel arrangements so they could meet with Kelly. Kelly’s lawyers claimed the victims were “groupies” who showed up at his concerts and “were dying to be with” Kelly.

The case is scheduled to officially begin on Aug. 18 with opening statements.

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