The Trump administration is defending one of the president's federal court nominees, who has come under attack from LGBT advocates and his home state senator, after saying same-sex marriage is worse than abortion because of "the damage it does to civil society."
Gordon Giampietro, who was nominated to the U.S. ...
Nikolas Cruz is just the latest U.S. mass shooter to legally obtain and own weapons because of limited weapons laws, lapses in the background check process or law enforcement's failure to heed warnings of concerning behavior.
The 19-year-old had made threats and was expelled from school, bragged about killing animals, ...
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A Rhode Island state senator has been arrested on charges of video voyeurism and extortion.
State police say Republican Sen. Nicholas Kettle was arrested Friday and was being taken to their headquarters to be processed. They say they're unsure when Kettle will appear in court.
SALEM, Ore. (AP) - The Oregon State Ethics Commission has voted unanimously in finding former Gov. John Kitzhaber guilty of 10 ethics violations.
The preliminary finding on Friday means that Kitzhaber can appeal. The former governor resigned in 2015 amid accusations of influence peddling involving his fiancée Cylvia Hayes.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Lawmakers in Rhode Island are renewing their push to pass an assault weapon ban.
The Providence Journal reports Democratic Sen. Gayle Goldin re-introduced a bill Thursday that would prohibit high-capacity magazines. Democratic Sen. Joshua Miller and Democratic Rep. Jason Knight hope to introduce bills when the ...
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - New Hampshire's plan to continue its expanded Medicaid program is coming together in Concord.
Medicaid expansion, made possible through former President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law, subsidizes health care for about 50,000 low-income people. It will expire if not reapproved by December 2018. In November, ...
CARNEGIE, Pa. — Democrat Connor Lamb is holding firm in his belief that Congress doesn't need to pass stricter gun control laws following the school shooting in Florida, insisting the best way to deter these kinds of horrific events is to enforce the laws on the books.
The stance puts ...
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut lawmaker wants other states to know about a law on his state's books that could help prevent mass shootings.
Republican Rep. Arthur O'Neill of Southbury said Friday he is sending a letter to leaders of 45 state legislatures that don't have a risk warrant ...
George Frey / Getty Images
Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is now a Senate candidate in Utah — and his announcement shows he’s sensitive about being labeled a carpetbagger.
“Utah,” the Republican, says at the beginning of a video he shared Friday morning on social media, “is admired not only for its beauty, but also for the character of its people. Utahns are known for hard work, innovation, and our can-do pioneering spirit. But more than these, we’re known as a people who serve, who care, and who rise to any occasion.”
It goes on like that for more than two minutes. One reporter joked on Twitter that he lost count of how many times Romney said “Utah.” The strategy, telegraphed in recent days is clear and multi-pronged: Romney, who fell short in two previous White House bids and emerged as one of Donald Trump’s fiercest critics, is trying to persuade voters that he is laser-focused on is adopted state and not on the president or the job he’s pined for in the past.
Though on paper this should be a cakewalk — Romney is a hardly a stranger in Utah, and Democrats have little chance of picking up the seat — two prominent Republicans have made an issue of Romney’s Trump-bashing and his relocation West. One of them, state auditor John Dougall, told BuzzFeed News that GOP activists in and outside Utah have been encouraging him after he said this week that he was seriously considering challenging Romney.
“Some of the key things in Utah are that we want to make sure we have a senator who understands Utah issues, and those are clearly different than Massachusetts issues, for instance,” Dougall said Friday morning in a brief telephone interview.
Dougall added that Romney called him Thursday evening to inform him of his imminent announcement, which has been anticipated since Sen. Orrin Hatch made his retirement plans known last month. “I wished him all the best,” Dougall said of Romney.
A Romney spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Dougall declined to say who is encouraging him to run. But he suggested support would come from those concerned about electing someone who would not be aligned with Trump. For weeks on his Facebook page, Dougall has been arguing against a “coronation” of Romney.
“What we need is not somebody who doesn’t like the president,” Dougall told BuzzFeed News. “I think the key thing right now is folks need to know what he stands for.”
After the phone interview, Dougall added via email: “I should have also mentioned that ‘It's clear that Utahns have a very favorable view of Mr Romney. The odds are strongly in his favor.’”
Earlier this week, Utah Republican Party chair Rob Anderson noted Romney’s criticism of Trump and spoke dismissively of his Utah credentials in an interview with the Salt Lake Tribune: “I think he’s keeping out candidates that I think would be a better fit for Utah because, let’s face it, Mitt Romney doesn’t live here, his kids weren’t born here, he doesn’t shop here.”
Anderson later apologized to Romney.
“I’ve no doubt that Mitt Romney satisfies all qualifications to run for Senate,” said Anderson in a Wednesday statement posted on Twitter, “and as chairman of the Utah Republican Party, I will treat all candidates equally to ensure their path to the party nomination is honest and fair.”
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A government lawyer says a 13-year-old oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico remains a "long-term problem" without a clear solution for eliminating chronic slicks that often stretch for miles off Louisiana's coast.
Justice Department attorney John Roberson told a federal judge last Friday that ...
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana's civil service director says the state doesn't have a government-wide policy for handling sexual misconduct allegations or requiring anti-harassment training, instead allowing agencies to cobble together their own standards.
Byron Decoteau told female lawmakers seeking to bolster efforts to combat sexual harassment that his ...
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The deadly school shooting in Florida has revived discussion over gun control and highlighted Minnesota's pending bills on the issue.
The Pioneer Press reports that there are at least five bills currently on file this session relating to firearms or the Second Amendment.
Aaron P. Bernstein / Reuters
The special counsel's office announced a federal indictment against the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), two other Russian entities, and 13 Russian individuals Friday in relation with the their actions of "interfering with the US political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016."
The special counsel's office, which is investigating Russian interference in the election, provided the following statement:
A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment on Feb. 16, 2018, against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities accused of violating U.S. criminal laws in order to interfere with U.S. elections and political processes. The indictment charges all of the defendants with conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants with aggravated identity theft.
Beginning in 2014, according to the indictment, the IRA began "operations to interfere with the US political system," including by "creating false US personas" to operate "social media pages and groups designed to attract US audiences" and "traveling to the United States under false pretenses for the purpose of collecting intelligence to inform Defendants' operations."
By mid-2016, the operations, according to the indictment "included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump ("Trump Campaign") and disparaging Hillary Clinton." Specifically, "Some Defendants, posing as US persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities."
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the special counsel's work due to Attorney General Jeff Sessions' recusal, announced the indictment sought by Mueller — laying out the alleged social media efforts and the alleged fraudulent ways in which the effort was organized and implemented. He said the defendants had characterized their activities as "information warfare against the United States, with the stated goal of spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general."
The indictment charges the IRA and others with a conspiracy to defraud the United States. Rosenstein specifically noted how the efforts included efforts to defraud the Federal Election Commission, Justice Department, and State Department. The additional charges include conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, as well as several counts alleging identity theft.
Rosenstein said on Friday that there were no allegations in the indictment "that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity" — he said the Russian nationals charged took "extraordinary steps" to make it appear that they were ordinary activists — or that the alleged criminal acts had "any effect on the outcome of the election."
"This indictment serves as a reminder that people are not always who they appear to be on the internet," Rosenstein said.
Specifically, the Justice Department charged IRA members with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud for allegedly using stolen identities to open accounts at a bank and online payments company PayPal. The indictment noted that defendants allegedly used the names, addresses, social security numbers, and birth dates of unwitting people to open four accounts at an unidentified US financial institution in the summer of 2016.
Some of that same information was used to register four accounts at PayPal, which according to its website, only requires a bank account and an email address to open an account. The defendants also allegedly opened 14 other PayPal accounts by buying credit card numbers and bank accounts that been created with stolen identities of real people. That operation used a combination of 14 unique bank accounts, six banks, and 11 email addresses.
A PayPal spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.
The indictment notes that stolen identities were used to maintain the PayPal accounts, as well as accounts on unnamed cryptocurrency exchanges. Accounts at an unknown bank and with PayPal were used to pay for “certain organization expenses” such as advertisements on Facebook to promote its social media accounts. Other expenses included paraphernalia including “buttons, flags, and banners for rallies.”
Some of the accounts were also used to receive money from US citizens for promotions and advertisements on IRA-owned social media pages. The defendants charged some US businesses $25 to $50 per promotional post on its fake accounts — including Being Patriotic, Defend The 2nd, and Blacktivist.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation "is ongoing," Rosenstein said. He did not provide any additional details. Rosenstein did not respond to shouted questions at the end of the press conference about whether the indicted defendants had a connection to the Russian government or Russian intelligence operations.
Read the indictment:
This is a developing story. Please check back at BuzzFeed News for the latest.
Special counsel Robert Mueller won indictments Friday charging 13 Russian nationals and several companies with interfering in the 2016 U.S. election in order to aid President Trump.
The indictment also accuses three companies of organizing and paying for the massive effort, that at its height had a budget of ...