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U.S. judge faults ex-Trump adviser Stone’s book that may violate gag order

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U.S. judge faults ex-Trump adviser Stone's book that may violate gag order

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal judge said Tuesday that the publication of a book last month by President Donald Trump’s former political adviser Roger Stone which criticized Special Counsel Robert Mueller may violate a media gag order – a transgression that could land the self-proclaimed “dirty trickster” behind bars.

Roger Stone, former political adviser of U.S. President Donald Trump, departs after a hearing where Stone said he had “abused” a gag order with an Instagram post that appeared to threaten U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over his criminal trial, at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Judge Amy Berman Jackson for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered Stone and his lawyers to provide her with a report by Monday explaining how he plans to comply with the order, and also demanded that he turn over certain records detailing everything he knew about the book’s release.

“There is no question that the order prohibited and continues to prohibit the defendant from making any public statements, using any medium, concerning the investigation,” Jackson wrote.

“It does not matter when the defendant may have first formulated the opinions expressed, or when he first put them into words: he may no longer share his views on these particular subjects with the world.”

Stone, a longtime Republican operative, is the 34th person to face charges as part of Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.

He has pleaded not guilty to seven counts of obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements.

Trump has denied any collusion with Russia occurred and called Mueller’s probe a witch hunt.

Shortly after Stone was charged, Jackson gave him wide latitude to discuss the case against him as long as it was not in the vicinity of the federal courthouse.

But just days later, she tightened the reins with a sweeping gag order after Stone posted a photo of her on his Instagram account next to an image resembling the crosshairs of a gun and a message critical of both her and Mueller.

In issuing her gag order on Feb. 21, Jackson warned Stone he would not have a second chance if he violated it. She also said his apologies about the posting, which was later removed, rang hollow.

After the gag order, Jackson learned that a 2017 book by Stone originally titled “The Making of the President 2016” had been re-published under the name “The Myth of Russian Collusion” and that it criticized Mueller in its introduction.

In addition, Stone also in March posted an item on Instagram that said “Who framed Roger Stone.” It was later removed.

Stone’s lawyers have said the book does not violate the gag order because it came out on Feb. 19, before the order was issued.

But Jackson blasted them for failing to disclose it to her when they had the chance, and said Stone must provide her with records including communications with the publisher, information on the publication of the book and other details related to his Instagram posts.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Alistair Bell

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Ocasio-Cortez blasts ‘injustice’ that prestigious New York City high school admitted few black students

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Ocasio-Cortez de-listed from board of Justice Democrats after controversy

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., charged on Tuesday that a selective New York public high school should have admitted more black applicants this year, saying their relatively low admit rate was an “injustice” and a “system failure” — although an objective state-mandated test is used to determine admissions decisions, and low-income Asian students took most of the spots.

In her fiery social media post, Ocasio-Cortez pointed to news reports that only seven black applicants secured offers of admission to Stuyvesant High School this year, out of 895 available slots.

“68% of all NYC public school students are Black or Latino,” Ocasio-Cortez began. “To only have 7 Black students accepted into Stuyvesant (a *public* high school) tells us that this is a system failure. Education inequity is a major factor in the racial wealth gap. This is what injustice looks like.”

The progressive New York Democrat cited a Monday New York Times report, which noted that the population of black students at Stuyvesant was seemingly decreasing: 10 were admitted in 2018, and 13 in 2017.

At the highly selective Bronx High School of Science, meanwhile, only 12 black students received offers of admission, compared with 25 in 2018.

But the report also mentioned several facts Ocasio-Cortez did not — including that “low-income” Asian students are a majority at New York City’s most selective schools. At Stuyvesant, for example, 74 percent of current students are Asian-Americans who performed very well on the admissions test, known as the Specialized High School Admissions Test, which is used by eight of New York City’s most selective high schools.

Approximately 19 percent of the students are white and 3 percent are Hispanic, according to school data.

HARVARD APPEARS TO PENALIZE ASIAN APPLICANTS, BOOST BLACK STUDENTS, EXPERT SAYS

The Times noted that state efforts to help students prepare for the test — including free test prep for minority students — have not helped change the admissions numbers in favor of black applicants.

“The numbers are abysmal; we knew that.”

— NYC public advocate Jumaane Williams

As a result, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio last year called for a new admissions system to New York’s most prestigious schools, which would simply scrap that test, and instead ensure that top students from each local middle school received admissions offers.

“These numbers are even more proof that dramatic reform is necessary to open the doors of opportunity at specialized high schools,” de Blasio said, responding to the Times’ report.

In an op-ed last year, de Blasio elaborated: “Eight of our most renowned high schools – including Stuyvesant High School, Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School – rely on a single, high-stakes exam. The Specialized High School Admissions Test isn’t just flawed – it’s a roadblock to justice, progress and academic excellence. If we want this to be the fairest big city in America, we need to scrap the SHSAT and start over.”

He added: “Right now, we are living with monumental injustice. The prestigious high schools make 5,000 admissions offers to incoming ninth-graders. Yet, this year just 172 black students and 298 Latino students received offers. This happened in a city where two out of every three eighth-graders in our public schools are Latino or black. … Can anyone defend this?”

Stuyvesant High School in New York, in JuneMARY ALTAFFER / AP

Stuyvesant High School in New York, in JuneMARY ALTAFFER / AP

But his proposal to eliminate the test remains unpopular in New York. A spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said only that there were “two sides” to the issue, and Jumaane Williams, the city’s public health advocate, told the Times that he opposed scrapping the test.

“The numbers are abysmal; we knew that,” Williams, who is black, told the Times. “The question is what do we do about it, how do we do it without needlessly pitting communities against each other?”

Asian-Americans, backed by the Trump adminstration, have increasingly challenged what they characterize as Democrats’ insensitivity to racism directed at them by institutions and individuals. In one closely watched case, the Justice Department last year filed court documents siding with Asian-American students who allege Harvard discriminates against them in its admissions process.

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William Fitzsimmons, the 30-year dean of admissions at Harvard, who oversees the screening process of about 40,000 applicants and narrows them down to 2,000 acceptance letters that are handed out each year, testified during the trial that African-Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic high schoolers with mid-range SAT scores out of a possible 1600 combined math and verbal, are sent recruitment letters with a score as low as 1100, whereas Asian-Americans need to score at least 250 points higher – 1350 for women and 1380 for men.

“That’s race discrimination, plain and simple,” argued John Hughes, a lawyer for Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA).

Fox News’ Caleb Parke contributed to this report.

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Democrats’ calls to revamp Electoral College, Supreme Court reveal panic: Lara Trump

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Democrats' calls to revamp Electoral College, Supreme Court reveal panic: Lara Trump

President Trump’s senior campaign adviser and daughter-in-law Lara Trump blasted Democrats on Tuesday, including Democratic presidential contenders, after they called for changing the Electoral College and revamping the Supreme Court.

“I think it’s very clear that people are still upset on the left that their chosen candidate did not win in 2016.  They want to find any way they can to beat Donald Trump because I think they know it’s going to be incredibly hard, almost impossible to beat this president in the 2020 election,” Lara Trump said.

Her comments came after one 2020 contender, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., called for ending the Electoral College.

“My view is that every vote matters. And the way we can make that happen is we can have national voting, and that means get rid of the Electoral College,” Warren said in Mississippi Monday.

Trump said talk of changing the Supreme Court is another sign of panic among Democrats.

“I think that it’s pretty clear that these folks are very upset that this president has had two Supreme Court placements now,” Trump said in response to various Democratic candidates calling for changes to how Supreme Court justices are selected.

“And quite likely if he gets a second term he will get a third.  So, I think you’re seeing … panic mode now on the Democrat side.”

“I think we need to fix the Supreme Court. I think they stole a Supreme Court seat,” Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said on MSNBC Monday. He appeared to be referring to President Barack Obama’s late-term nomination of Merrick Garland for a Supreme Court seat, a nomination that did not get a confirmation hearing from a Senate then led by a GOP majority.

TRUMP FIRES BACK AT DEMS COURT PACKING PUSH

I think you’re seeing … panic mode now on the Democrat side.

— Lara Trump

Trump believes many of the candidates looking to secure the Democratic nomination are too far left with their platforms to beat President Trump in the general election.

“I really think when you look at the field these people are generally very, very far-left,” Trump told co-host Sandra Smith. “You look at people who are running in some cases on an almost socialist or fully socialist platform, that is not something I think the average person can get behind.”

Trump also addressed her father-in-law’s disapproval rating with women, saying she didn’t trust the polling and that many women are afraid to admit they support or voted for the president.

“They might not like all his tweets, they might not like everything he does, but at the end of the day I think they know he’s going to keep this country safe and prosperous,” Trump said.

SOMEONE IN THE STATE DEPARTMENT LIKELY INVOLVED IN THE BID TO TAKE DOWN TRUMP: HERRIDGE

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U.S. judge rebuts Trump on transgender troop limits

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U.S. judge rebuts Trump on transgender troop limits

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal judge on Tuesday contradicted the Trump administration’s “incorrect” claim that no legal blocks remain for it to enforce a contentious policy to restrict many transgender individuals from the U.S. armed forces starting on April 12.

FILE PHOTO – Members of the Army march up 5th Avenue during the Veterans Day Parade in New York November 11, 2012. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

In a three-page notice, U.S. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said an injunction that she issued against the policy in 2017 remains in place.

“Defendants were incorrect in claiming that there was no longer an impediment to the military’s implementation” of the transgender policy, the judge wrote.

A spokeswoman for Pentagon said it was consulting with the U.S. Justice Department, which declined to comment.

Three other injunctions issued by judges in separate cases have already been lifted, in part by a Jan. 22 U.S. Supreme Court decision and subsequent action by a federal judge in Maryland.

That prompted the U.S. Defense Department to sign a memo on March 12 that would enforce its service limitations on transgender people, effective one month later.

Kollar-Kotelly’s injunction, however, had been set aside by a three-judge panel of the District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Jan. 4. The panel said it would hold off on issuing a “mandate” to finalize the higher court’s decision until it resolves any request by the plaintiffs who challenged the transgender policy as a violation of the U.S. Constitution to rehear their appeal.

“The Trump administration cannot circumvent the judicial process just to fast track its baseless, unfair ban on transgender servicemembers,” said attorney Jennifer Levi of the anti-discrimination group GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, who represents the plaintiffs.

President Donald Trump in 2017 announced a plan to ban transgender people from the military, reversing Democratic former President Barack Obama’s policy of allowing transgender troops to serve openly and get medical transition care.

In March 2018, Trump backed a revised policy from then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. It banned, in some circumstances, transgender people with gender dysphoria, or distress due to internal conflict between physical gender and gender identity.

The Mattis policy also banned transgender people who seek or have undergone gender transition steps.

Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Richard Chang

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