What We Know:
- Last year Bolton, former President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, released a tell-all book titled, The Room Where It Happened. The DOJ under Trump’s administration sued Bolton for allegedly publishing classified information and failing to complete the pre-publication review.
- The book gave a behind-the-scenes look into Trump’s handling of foreign affairs, like asking China’s President Xi Jinping to help with his re-election campaign. The DOJ wanted Bolton to halt the book’s production and give all funds received from copies already sold to them.
- Despite the lawsuit and criminal investigation, Bolton went through with releasing the book ahead of the 2020 election after Ellen Knight, a White House National Security Council official, released a statement that his book no longer included confidential information. According to AP, Knight stated that the Trump administration “exerted political pressure to block the book” and used “an unusual process of delay tactics and legal maneuverings.” After failing to stop the book’s publication, the DOJ opened a criminal investigation and subpoenaed Bolton’s publisher and literary agent for their communication records.
- President Joe Biden’s DOJ dropped the year-long investigation and lawsuit after determining that it was a way for the Trump administration to use government power to suppress former pro-Trump officials who were now anti-Trump.
- Charles J. Cooper, Bolton’s lawyer, stated, “we are very pleased that the Department of Justice has dismissed with prejudice its civil lawsuit against Ambassador Bolton and has terminated grand jury proceedings. We argued from the outset that neither action was justifiable, because they were initiated only as a result of President Trump’s politically motivated order to prevent publication of the Ambassador’s book before the 2020 election.”
- Bolton had recently received approval from a federal judge that he could begin deposing those who worked under Trump. They would have had to testify about how Trump forced them to go after Bolton and how his book was handled.
- Along with dropping the lawsuit, the DOJ informed Bolton that they intend to receive no money from the books he sold, nor will they attempt to sue him again over his book. Bolton has claimed that if he releases another book, he will turn over his information to be checked for national security violations.
Advisors of the Biden administration feel like the dropping of this lawsuit was for the best, and the administration should instead set its sights towards the pre-publication review process.
Prosecutors Say R. Kelly Abused 17-Year-Old Boy
Prosecutors say that former R&B singer R.Kelly abused a 17-year-old boy in 2006 after meeting him at a Chicago McDonald’s.
What We Know:
- Lawyers claim that the singer, whose real name is Robert Kelly, initially offered to help the boy with his music career and invited him to his studio. After Kelly questioned the boy on what he would do to make it in the industry, Kelly propositioned and had sexual contact with the minor.
- The young boy also introduced his 16 or 17-year-old male friend to Kelly; the singer eventually began a relationship with this other boy. Prosecutors allege that Kelly filmed the two minors engaging in sexual acts with others, including some of Kelly’s girlfriends, including an under-aged female.
- In addition, when Kelly faced child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008, the first boy told him he knew one of the jurors. Kelly proceeded to ask the boy to contact the juror and vouch that Kelly was a “good guy.” However, the prosecutors’ filings do not specify if the youth did so.
- Attorneys want judges to consider hearing this evidence during Kelly’s upcoming August trial. They believe this information will show that Kelly’s actions “were not isolated events and were part of a larger pattern.”
- The Grammy Award winner has faced scrutiny for his sexual behavior for a while. Currently, he faces charges for recruiting women and girls for sex and pornography and exercising control over them. These include child sexual exploitation, making indecent images of minors, racketeering, and obstruction of justice. According to lawyers, Kelly managed a “criminal enterprise” alongside managers, bodyguards, and other employees. These charges involve six different victims. In addition to the aforementioned sufferers, prosecutors want jurors to hear the stories of more than one dozen others who experienced sexual misconduct at the hands of Kelly.
Because of the accusations, Kelly has been in jail for two years while awaiting his day in court.
Gender Reveal Party Couple Face Jail Time over Deadly California Wildfire
A California couple whose gender reveal party allegedly started a deadly wildfire faces involuntary manslaughter charges and a lengthy stint in jail.
What We Know:
- Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr and Angela Renee Jimenez set off a smoke bomb during their gender reveal party back in September 2020 in Yucaipa, California. The “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” supposedly sparked the El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino County. Survallience footage showed the family light the smoke bomb at the edge of the El Dorado Ranch Park and was seen trying to put flames out. The wildfire burned over 22,000 acres, destroyed multiple homes and properties, and lasted more than two months.
- While trying to put out the fire, firefighter Charles Morton was killed, and many others were injured. Morton, 39, had worked as a firefighter for 18 years, 14 of them with the US Forest Service. US Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen stated that Morton was a “well-respected leader” and was always there for his crew.
- Refugio and Angela have been charged with 30 crimes: three felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, four felony counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures, 22 misdemeanor counts, and one felony count of involuntary manslaughter. On Tuesday, the couple pleaded not guilty.
- During a news conference, Jason Anderson, San Bernardino County District Attorney, said that a grand jury heard 34 witnesses and saw 434 exhibits. He mentioned that the fire affected the community tremendously and that at least six different agencies “were involved in containing, extinguishing, and investigating” the wildfire.
“You’re obviously dealing with lost lives, you’re dealing with injured lives, and you’re dealing with people’s residences that were burned and their land that was burned. That encompasses a lot of, not only emotion, but damage, both financially and psychologically,” said Anderson
- Gender reveal parties are where couples find out the gender of their baby. They could cut into a cake and see if the inside is blue for a boy or pink for a girl, pop a big balloon to see the color of the confetti, or even do a song that reveals the gender at the end. Over the years, gender reveals have gotten more elaborate and dangerous.
- In February, a father-to-be died after the gender reveal device he was building exploded on him, and in 2017 a gender reveal party sparked a wildfire in Arizona, burning close to 47,000 acres. The expected father in that incident pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, was sentenced to five years of probation, and had to pay nearly $8.2 million in fines.
Refugio and Angela were released on their own recognizance and are set to return to court on September 15th. If found guilty, they could face up to 20 years in jail.
First Felony Sentence for January Insurrection Handed to Florida Man
What We Know:
- Paul Hodgkins, 38, pleaded guilty to a single count of obstructing an official proceeding last month. The crane operator, along with others, breached the US Capitol at the alledged request of former President Donald Trump. The former Commander in Chief held a rally where he said dangerous rhetoric about the election being rigged. He told his supporters to go to the Capitol, where they were counting electoral votes, and urge senators to overturn the presidential election results.
- Hodgkins was seen walking onto the Senate floor holding a red “Trump 2020” flag and wearing a Trump shirt. He went to Washington initially for the rally that was held near the White House. He stated that he had no idea that day would end with him storming the capitol and that he was caught up in “the passion of the day.”
- The US Justice Department considered the events of Jan. 6th as “acts of domestic terrorism.” They encouraged the judge to treat Hodgkins on the same level as those who are deemed domestic terrorists. Since Hodgkins took a plea deal, the government agency asked District Judge Randolph Moss to sentence him to 1.5 years in prison. Prosecutor Mona Sedky claimed that giving Hodgkins harsh sentencing would stop future people who planned on recreating the events of that day.
- In court on Monday, Hodgkins spoke for about 10 minutes on how “remorseful” he was and that he “regretted” his actions on that day. He believes that the riots caused great harm to the “country that he loves,” and he takes full responsibility for his part in it.
- Although Moss considered Hodgkins’ actions “utterly unacceptable,” he didn’t believe him a threat and stated how he didn’t have any previous criminal history. Moss sentenced Hodgkins to eight months in prison, two years on probation, and ordered him to pay $2,000 in damage fees.
“Hodgkins did some very bad things that day and caused some real damage to this country, but I don’t consider him to be a threat or see him as an evil person. This is a very bad episode in his life and a very bad episode in this country … some sentences will be far higher, and some will be far lower. This is what I believe is a fair sentence,” said Moss.
- Over 530 people have been charged since Jan. 6th, with the help of social media and surveillance cameras. Of that number, “165 accused of assaulting, resisting or impeding officers,” and over 50 charged with “using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer.” According to CNN, 20 people have already pled guilty and are awaiting their sentencing, while two charged with misdemeanors have already been sentenced: one to six months and one to three years probation.
Many charged rioters are pushing the idea of going to trial as they believe they did nothing wrong. Hodgkins walked out of court happy with the results and will be allowed to self-surrender once he is informed of where he will carry out his 8-month sentence.
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