4 key suspects in Haiti presidential slaying in U.S. custody


The fourth suspect was identified as Colombian citizen Germán Rivera García, 44, who is among nearly two dozen former Colombian soldiers charged in the case.

Rivera, along with Solages and Vincent, face charges including conspiring to commit murder or kidnapping outside the U.S. and providing material support and resources resulting in death, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Sanon is charged with conspiring to smuggle goods from the U.S. and providing unlawful export information. Court documents state that he allegedly shipped 20 ballistic vests to Haiti, but that the items shipped were described as “medical X-ray vests and school supplies.”

It was not immediately known if the four suspects had attorneys who could comment on the development. The men are scheduled to appear in federal court Wednesday in Miami.

A total of seven suspects in the case are now in U.S. custody. Dozens of others still languish in Haiti’s main penitentiary, which is severely overcrowded and often lacks food and water for inmates.

The case has reached a virtual standstill in Haiti, with local officials last year nominating a fifth judge to investigate the killing after four others were dismissed or resigned for personal reasons.

One judge told The Associated Press that his family asked him not to take the case because they feared for his life. Another judge stepped down after one of his assistants died under murky circumstances.

Court documents state that exactly two months before Moïse was killed, Vincent texted Solages a video of a cat “reacting alertly” to the sound of gunfire and that Solages laughed, prompting Vincent to respond: “That’s the way Jovenel will be pretty much, but (sooner) if you guys really up to it!”

The document states that Solages responded that “(this) cat will never come back,” and “trust me brother, we definitely working our final decision.”

Then in June, some 20 former Colombian soldiers were recruited to supposedly help arrest the president and protect Sanon, who envisioned himself as Haiti’s new leader. Rivera was in charge of that group, the documents state.

A day before the killing, Solages falsely told other suspects that it was a CIA operation and that the mission was to kill the president, according to the documents. Shortly before the killing, authorities said, Solages shouted that it was allegedly a DEA operation to ensure compliance from the president’s security detail.

About a year after the killing, U.S. authorities say they interviewed Solages, Vincent and Rivera while they were in Haitian custody and that they agreed to talk.

The other suspects already in U.S. custody are Rodolphe Jaar, a former U.S. government informant and a Haitian businessman who was extradited from the Dominican Republic, where he was detained in January 2022.

That same month, U.S. authorities arrested Mario Antonio Palacios Palacios, a former Colombian soldier who was deported by Jamaica after fleeing there from Haiti. While en route to Colombia, he was deained by U.S. officials in Panama during a layover.

Also in January 2022, authorities arrested former Haitian Sen. John Joël Joseph, who also had fled to Jamaica.

Alfredo Izaguirre, a Miami-based lawyer for Palacios, said Tuesday’s arrival of the four other suspects will postpone the trial because they all have to be tried at the same time. He said Palacios had been prepared for the trial to begin in early March, but now it could be postponed for up to four months.

Haiti police say other high-profile suspects remain at large, including a former Supreme Court judge who authorities say was favored to seize power from Moïse instead of Sanon as originally planned. Another fugitive is Joseph Badio, alleged leader of the plot who previously worked for Haiti’s Ministry of Justice and the government’s anti-corruption unit until he was fired, police say.

Emmanuel Jeanty, an attorney for the president’s widow, Martine Moïse, who was injured in the attack and flown to the U.S. for care, did not return a message for comment.

In December, Martine Moïse tweeted that her husband — who also has been accused of corruption, which he denied — had fought against it, which resulted in his assassination. “Despite the blockages, 17 months later, the people are demanding #Justice,” she wrote.


Source link

read more

House votes to end Covid public health emergency


Still, the disclosure that Biden plans to wind down the emergencies might have helped shore up the Democratic vote. The final tally was 220-210, with no member crossing party lines.

Republicans, who know the bill has no chance of being enacted with Biden in the White House, said their aim was to send a message and push the administration for a more detailed plan for winding down the emergency.

“We’ve been asking for one for a year,” Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee chair, told POLITICO. “Hopefully, this will have them send a plan … there are issues we need to deal with.”

Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), noting that Biden had declared the pandemic over in an interview with CBS News in September, argued it shouldn’t take months to unwind the emergency.

“I’m pleased the administration is following the House Republicans in finally abiding by President Biden’s own acknowledgment,” she said.

The end of the emergencies will halt a wide-ranging set of eased regulations established at the pandemic’s outset to bolster the country’s response. The administration’s move will mean many patients will have to pay for all, or some portion, of the costs of Covid therapeutics, depending on their health insurance or lack thereof.

The unwinding could also mean the end of Title 42, ordered by the Trump administration in March 2020 to shut down the southern border, though Republicans argued the policy could remain. The Biden administration has tried to end Title 42, but courts have blocked those efforts several times and Title 42’s fate will likely be decided by the judiciary.

Democratic leadership whipped against the bill Tuesday, saying the legislation would “abruptly end numerous policies” without sufficient coordination and leave states without billions in funding.

But they also said the emergencies shouldn’t go on indefinitely and backed the administration’s plan to end them in a few months.

“There’s a right way to wind down,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.). “Make sure there aren’t vulnerable people that would be impacted …This isn’t a serious effort. This is about messaging.”

The House also voted mostly along party lines, 227-203, to end a federal rule requiring health care workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Republicans plan to bring to the floor later this week the resolution by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) to end the Covid national emergency.

That declaration undergirds Biden’s plan, now stuck in court, to forgive some federal student loans. The Senate passed a resolution by Kansas Republican Sen. Roger Marshall in November to end the national emergency, with 12 Democrats joining a united GOP in the 61-37 vote.

Marshall took advantage of a provision in the 1976 National Emergencies Act that allows senators to call for a vote on presidentially declared emergencies, and he could do so again.

Guthrie told POLITICO before the House vote Tuesday that Republicans would have a Senate vehicle to end the emergency in case the Biden administration doesn’t do so on May 11.


Source link

read more

‘They come to me’: Jane Roberts’ legal recruiting work involved officials whose agencies had cases before the Supreme Court


Jane Roberts’ placements included at least one firm with a prominent Supreme Court practice, according to the complaint, which also includes sworn testimony from Roberts herself, in which she notes the powerful officials — whose agencies have had frequent cases before her husband — for whom she has worked.

“A significant portion of my practice on the partner side is with senior government lawyers, ranging from U.S. attorneys, cabinet officials, former senators, chairmen of federal commissions, general counsel of federal commissions, and then senior political appointees within the ranks of various agencies, and I — they come to me looking to transition to the private sector,” Roberts said, according to a transcript of a 2015 arbitration hearing related to her former colleague’s termination.

In her testimony, Roberts also noted the benefit of working with senior government officials: “Successful people have successful friends.”

Jane Roberts and her firm, Macrae, did not immediately respond to requests for comment by email.

A spokesperson for the Supreme Court declined to respond to questions Tuesday about the complaint and whether the court is pursuing the issues raised in it.

In response to earlier questions about the justices’ financial disclosures, the court pointed to a 2009 ethics opinion from the Judicial Conference that judges generally don’t need to recuse themselves in cases simply because their spouse works as a consultant or service provider to a firm involved in litigation before the court.

“As a general proposition, the fact that the spouse or the spouse’s business has a business relationship with an entity that appears in an unrelated proceeding before the judge usually does not require the judge’s recusal,” the opinion says.

The high court also noted that the federal government’s rules for financial disclosures generally do not require public disclosure of the clients of officials’ spouses.

As the most senior officials in the judicial branch, the justices are not bound to follow such guidance or policies. However, they look to those practices for guidance, a spokesperson said.

The complaint included a list of Jane Roberts’ placements between 2007 and 2014 and her alleged commissions, some of which are hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is unclear whether the figures represent her earnings or the firm’s billings for her work.

In an analysis filed along with the complaint, Pace University law professor Bennett Gershman writes that “it is plausible that the Chief Justice’s spouse may have leveraged the ‘prestige of judicial office’ to meaningfully raise their household income.”

“That concern, together with the failure of the Chief Justice to recuse himself in cases where his spouse received compensation from law firms arguing cases before the Court, or at least advise the parties of his spouse’s financial arrangements with law firms arguing before the Court, threaten the public’s trust in the federal judiciary, and the Supreme Court itself,” Gershman wrote.

A sworn affidavit backing the complaint was submitted by Kendal B. Price, a Massachusetts attorney and former colleague of Jane Roberts at the legal recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa, where Price was a managing director in the partner practice group.

Price, who was eventually fired from the firm, recalled in his affidavit being told that Roberts was the company’s highest-earning recruiter and that her early significant commissions, going to someone with so little recruiting experience, represented a “stark anomaly” compared to the rest of the field. When he raised the issue, colleagues did not seem to wish to discuss it, he said.

In a statement to POLITICO, Price said he decided to file a complaint with government authorities in order to expose potential ethical issues regarding the Supreme Court.

“The national controversy and debate regarding the integrity of the Supreme Court demanded that I no longer keep silent about the information I possessed, regardless of the impact such disclosures might have upon me professionally and personally,” Price said. “Not sharing it with the appropriate authorities for purposes of enabling them to investigate weighed on me increasingly, and I felt obligated to make this contribution to this important national conversation.”

A New York attorney who submitted the complaint on Price’s behalf, Joshua Dratel, said his client acted in part out of frustration that there is no official mechanism for raising ethics issues at the Supreme Court and due to previous reporting in POLITICO and elsewhere about ethics concerns at the high court. In September, POLITICO reported that gaps in ethical disclosures enabled justices, including Roberts, to shield their spouses’ clients who may have business before the court.

“The importance of this issue and the unavailability of any viable means of addressing this is what led to us sending it to the places that we sent it to,” Dratel said Tuesday. “This is a gap in transparency that’s only become more critical in the past year in terms of the impact that it has on the integrity of our institutions.”

In 2014, Price sued Major Lindsey over his termination, alleging that the firm had not paid his commissions and that another colleague there had stolen his clients, according to Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Jane Roberts was named as a defendant in the case. Price explained in his affidavit sent to Congress that he had been afraid of potential negative consequences of coming forward with allegations against Jane Roberts.

Price’s suit against Major Lindsey was moved from a Massachusetts state court to an arbitrator, who eventually ruled against Price. In his affidavit, he noted that he only directly interacted with Jane Roberts once during his time as an employee of Major Lindsey.

In a statement, John Cashman, president of Major Lindsey, maintained that Roberts, who worked at the firm for more than a decade, was among “several very successful recruiters at [the firm].”

“As a firm, MLA makes placements at hundreds of law firms each year – and like many of our highly-skilled recruiting consultants, Mrs. Roberts had a strong track record of excellent work,” Cashman said in the statement. “The success of our recruiters – and of our organization – stems from the fact that we hold our work and each of our consultants to the highest standards: Candidate confidentiality, client trust, and professionalism are the cornerstones of our 40 years of successful business.”

Dratel, Price’s attorney, rejected the notion that Price leveled the complaint against the Robertses out of lingering spite over his firing or the failure of his legal action against the firm.

“We’re well down the road from that,” Dratel said. “This is about the nation and the integrity of the court and knowing something that contributes to that. … He didn’t publish this. He sent it to Congress.”

Among the officials represented by Roberts at Major Lindsey was former Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar, who joined the prominent Washington-based law firm WilmerHale in 2013, according to Price. For arranging Salazar’s hiring, Price calculated that Roberts must have received about $350,000, he alleges. And as part of that deal brokered by Roberts, WilmerHale also agreed to open an office in Denver.

In the 2015 testimony in Price’s suit, Jane Roberts said lawmakers she has placed at law firms have started at annual salaries ranging up to $3 million.

WilmerHale did not immediately respond to a message asking for comment.

Salazar is currently U.S. ambassador to Mexico. Efforts to reach him were unsuccessful.

Five years after Roberts received the commission from WilmerHale, the firm’s lawyers appeared before the Supreme Court representing a marine construction company, the Dutra Group, in a case regarding a sailor injured on one of the company’s vessels. Chief Justice Roberts ultimately sided with WilmerHale’s client, that the sailor was not owed punitive damages, Gershman noted.

Beyond the Dutra case, WilmerHale maintains a significant practice before the Supreme Court, and between 2013 and 2017, argued more cases before the court than any other law firm, according to data from SCOTUSBlog cited in the complaint.

Gershman argued that, given his wife’s relationship with the firm, the judicial recusal statute would require the chief justice to recuse himself from WilmerHale’s 27 cases between 2013 and 2017. Alternatively, Roberts could have sought disclosure and waiver. Gershman argued that the chief justice must recuse himself from all cases with counsel that have “made substantial payments to his household or ‘fully disclose’ such payments to counsel and seek a waiver by the litigants.”

Gershman also noted that Roberts’ financial disclosures list his wife’s income as salary, as opposed to commission. The allegations that Jane Roberts may have used her husband’s position for financial benefit, combined with the deficiencies in Roberts’ financial disclosures, is “far from trivial, technical, or harmless,” Gershman writes.

“It directly threatens the public’s trust and confidence in the federal judiciary at the highest level,” he noted.


Source link

read more

N.Y. AG’s office: Trump and kids ‘falsely deny facts they have admitted’


The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James says former President Donald Trump and three of his adult children lied in the answers they submitted to the court in response to James’ $250 million lawsuit accusing them and the Trump Organization of large-scale financial fraud.

Both the former president his children “falsely deny facts they have admitted in other proceedings,” deny knowing things “ that are plainly within their knowledge,” and use defenses “repeatedly rejected by this Court as frivolous and without merit,” Kevin Wallace, senior enforcement counsel in the Attorney General’s office, said in a letter to New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron.

James’ office is seeking a pre-trial conference to work out fact from fiction and to “sanction Defendants and their counsel,” for the false claims, according to the letter.


Source link

read more

Covid emergency’s end will mean new costs, hassles


Key changes Americans can expect:

— Many will have to pay for Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments. People without health insurance will have to pay out of pocket, while those with private plans could see more costs depending on the terms of their insurance. Insurers typically cover the costs of preventive care, such as vaccines, but often charge deductibles or require cost-sharing for drugs.

— Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program beneficiaries could also face more cost-sharing for tests and some Covid antivirals, though vaccines will remain free.

— Employers will no longer be able to offer telehealth access as a premium, tax-free benefit separate from other health plans.

— Eased rules for prescribing controlled substances without an in-person doctor’s visit could also end unless the Drug Enforcement Administration moves to extend them. That could affect people seeking mental health care, transgender care, treatment for opioid use disorder, and even for severe coughs.

— Medicare coverage requirements that were waived during the emergency will now resume. For example, Medicare patients seeking admission to a skilled nursing facility will first have to spend three days in a hospital.

— The Medicare prescription drug benefit will no longer allow patients to get extended supplies of many drugs.

— Medicaid and CHIP coverage will change in some ways, as state and federal agencies made changes — such as boosting provider payments, increasing beneficiary access to medicines and expanding some covered services — to their programs because of the emergency. Some of those changes, though, can continue after the end of the emergency, depending on the state and policy.

— Hospitals will lose the 20 percent increase in Medicare payments they’ve received for treating Covid patients.

Nutrition assistance

— Work requirements for federal food assistance programs that were paused during the pandemic will return in more than two dozen, mostly Republican-controlled states that haven’t waived the requirements.

— Other administrative rules that helped people receive their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits will also end.


— The White House said the end of the emergency would also end Title 42, a health policy used at the start of the pandemic to shut down the southern border by denying immigrants the opportunity to request asylum. But Republicans in Congress have argued that the policy is not tied to the public health emergency.

What Biden’s decision on the emergencies won’t change:

— Medicare patients and people in high-deductible health plans will continue to have eased access to telehealth through the end of 2024 because of an extension Congress included in the year-end spending bill.

— Lawmakers also agreed in that legislation to wind down beginning in February extra SNAP food assistance that was offered during the pandemic.

— A requirement that states allow people to stay enrolled in Medicaid regardless of their eligibility for the program will end in April, allowing states to kick millions off the rolls. Many of those affected, whose incomes are now too high to qualify for Medicaid, will be eligible for low-cost Obamacare plans.

— The FDA will continue to have the power to authorize vaccines, tests and drugs on an emergency basis.


Source link

read more

FDA chief: No one getting fired over baby formula crisis


“But the short answer is no one’s going to be resigned or fired because of the infant formula situation,” Califf told reporters.

Scrutiny of the FDA’s foods division increased after advocates and lawmakers accused the agency of failing to rapidly and effectively address an infant formula contamination event that had a major impact on U.S. supply. The actions unveiled by Califf on Tuesday follow an external review of the foods division that found “constant turmoil” within its ranks, and a complex leadership structure that left staff “wondering which program is responsible for decision-making.”

Baby formula supplies have bounced back since the widespread shortages triggered by a recall that sent parents scrambling for supplies last year. But some families — especially those with medically vulnerable children — are still struggling to find formula.

Top FDA officials were warned about food safety concerns at a key infant formula plant months before the agency’s inspectors found strains of a bacteria that can be deadly to babies. Months after those warnings, Abbott, the company at the center of the formula crisis, issued a recall of some formula products and shut down the facility, triggering widespread shortages across the country. The company, which maintains there is no connection between the bacteria found at the plant and the deaths of several babies, is now under criminal investigation by the Justice Department.

“Where there could have been better performance, that’s reflected in the performance evaluation system. And, of course, that’s confidential information between supervisors and employees,” Califf said in response to the question from POLITICO.

FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Janet Woodcock told reporters on Tuesday that FDA’s formula response was “a systems problem, not an individual problem.” She also noted an internal review of FDA’s infant formula supply chain response last year. As POLITICO reported, the report didn’t name any specific teams responsible for breakdowns at FDA and surprised stakeholders with its lack of accountability.

“And so the system fixes that we are putting in place, both the information technology support as well as many of the changes, will address all the different issues,” Woodcock said.

“This was a failure of the systems — to the extent there was a failure — to provide the information to the right people at the right time,” Woodcock added.

Califf and other top FDA officials, despite acknowledging to lawmakers a string of internal breakdowns that contributed to the crisis, have pushed back against claims that there were any major failures at the agency. That includes a breakdown in internal FDA communication that some senior FDA officials said prevented them from knowing about the food safety issues until just weeks before the recall.

Califf and Yiannas said a whistleblower report alleging food safety problems at the plant, which was mailed in October 2021, did not reach the FDA’s highest ranks until mid-February 2022. Califf, in testimony to lawmakers, said senior officials didn’t receive the whistleblower report due to pandemic “mailroom issues.”


Source link

read more

Biden says Hudson River Tunnel project is finally full steam ahead


But the president’s visit Tuesday was particularly symbolic for the New York and New Jersey politicians in attendance who have witnessed the $16 billion endeavor suffer several delays over the years. Biden’s trip showed that after repeated setbacks, the critical infrastructure project finally has federal backing— even if it’s still years in the making.

“All told, this is one of the biggest and most consequential projects in the country,” Biden said at an event in a 30-track rail yard in front of commuter trains emblazoned with the presidential seal. “But it’s going to take time. It’s a multibillion effort between the states and the federal government. But we finally have the money and we’re going to get it done, I promise you.”

In 2009, officials did a ceremonial groundbreaking for a previous version of the tunnel project that was intended to alleviate commutes for the 200,000 passengers who relied on it everyday. The 10 miles of track stretching between Newark, New Jersey and New York Penn Station are a common source of delays and service meltdowns.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said he recalled the celebratory event that was over a decade ago “almost to the day.” Shortly after that, then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pulled state funding for the project and workers who had started digging the tunnel entrance had to fill it back in.

“Our journey since that press conference has been long and winding. But today it brings me immense pleasure to say we’re finally getting it done,” he said.

The project was revived after Hurricane Sandy, which inundated the tunnel with seawater. Biden said signs of the damage remain.

“Today over 10 years later there’s still remnants of seawater in the tunnel eating away at the concrete, the steel and the electrical components within the tunnel,” Biden said.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said the storm underscored the need for the project, recalling how two hurricanes caused severe infrastructure damage when she first entered office.

“You need to have the redundancy, backups to make sure this region is never ever paralyzed because that’s exactly what would happen,” she said.

As elected leaders in New York and New Jersey tried to revive the tunnels after Christie killed them, they ran into opposition from then-President Donald Trump. Biden, a known Amtrak lover, made the project a priority when he entered office — approving a required environmental study that had languished.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a major backer of the tunnel, also celebrated the significance of Biden’s visit after years of disappointment.

“Finally, finally, finally, we can say Gateway will be built,” he said.

The federal award will defray half the cost of building concrete casing on the far west side of Manhattan, preserving the right-of-way for future trains to enter New York Penn Station. Amtrak and other local partners in the project are expected to pay for the rest of the work.

Construction is also underway on other components of the Gateway Program, including the planned replacement and expansion of the Portal North Bridge in New Jersey.

Workers are expected to begin digging the actual tunnels in fall 2024. The entire project isn’t scheduled to be completed until 2038 and will cost more than initial estimates due to delays.

Buttigieg said the project is long overdue, stating that “we cannot lead the world in this century if we depend on infrastructure from early in the last one.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy echoed the point about the tunnel that was first opened in 1910.

“One of these days we’ll get into the 21st [century], I hope sooner than later,” he said.


Source link

read more

16 Hours With George Santos: Dunkin’ Donuts, 27,000 Steps and a Scolding


Wednesday, 4:52 p.m.

The Floor

Santos stands up from his usual seat in the middle of the House chamber, three seats from the center corridor where the late-night McCarthy speakership vote almost descended into a brawl. This is his usual perch on the floor, where he frequently yawns, covers his mouth, scrolls on his phone, looks off into the distance, clearly bored. His usual floor comrades: Republicans Burchett, Andy Harris of Maryland, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, and Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, with whom he trades jokes and makes conversation. Nancy Pelosi stops by in a burnt orange pantsuit, exchanging pleasantries with Burchett, grasping his forearm and patting his shoulder, laughing but pointedly never so much as glancing at Santos.

Carrying a brown folder, Santos makes his way down to the well, looking confident. He’s going to give his first floor speech, a one-minute expression of support for Iran’s protests. The chamber had just voted, with 420 members in support, to pass a resolution commending the protesters.

He approaches the clerk, wearing a variation of his trademark ensemble — a charcoal gray pullover under a slate pinstripe jacket — and he starts waxing on Ronald Reagan and freedom, words tumbling over words in a rush to make time. He looks down at the lectern, exposing the thinning tuft of hair atop his head.

“I declare with every bullet and with every act of violence imposed by the Iranian government comes a call for us to condemn their actions,” he says, in a decorous monotone, “and urge the Biden administration to take far greater action than mere sanctions to address the countless murders and examples of senseless brutality.

“I yield back my time.”

I catch Santos as he’s coming out of the Speaker’s Lobby, the colonnaded foyer just outside the House chamber. A veteran journalist is walking with him, deploying the time-honored reporter’s tactic of asking his question in a level, measured tone, so as not to come off as combative.

“Do you feel like at some point you need to answer questions, though, to sort of clear up—” the reporter says. “WHO’S KICKING ME?” Santos spits back at the roving scrum that had now mushroomed to a few reporters pushing for space, including me. (To be clear, nobody kicked him. I’d stepped on the back of his foot by accident amid the chaos. I quickly apologize, but he ignores me.)

Then more questions from the press, which aren’t just questions that journalists have, but questions that his constituents also have: “Have you been contacted by the Ethics Committee?”

“I’ve not,” George Santos says. (“No comment,” writes Tom Rust, the committee’s chief counsel, in a later email.)

I ask: “Have you been in touch with your legal team?”

“With who?” With your legal team.

“With my legal team? Do I have a legal team? I’m asking you, ‘Do I?’ You guys seem to know more than I do about myself!”


Source link

read more
1 2 3 4 554
Page 2 of 554