Alleged leader of mosque bombing could be threatening figure


In this July 2017 booking photo released by Ford County Sheriff's Office, Michael Hari is seen on an assault charge. Hari, 47, allegedly intended for the attack to scare Muslims into leaving the U.S. He and two associates were charged Tuesday, March 13, 2018, with traveling from rural Clarence, Illinois, about 120 miles south of Chicago, to carry out the Aug. 5 pipe-bomb assault on the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. (Ford County Sheriff's Office via The News-Gazette, via AP)

In this July 2017 booking photo released by Ford County Sheriff's Office, Michael Hari is seen on an assault charge. Hari, 47, allegedly intended for the attack to scare Muslims into leaving the U.S. He and two associates were charged Tuesday, March 13, 2018, with traveling from rural Clarence, Illinois, about 120 miles south of Chicago, to carry out the Aug. 5 pipe-bomb assault on the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. (Ford County Sheriff's Office via The News-Gazette, via AP)


FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2017 file photo, Law enforcement officials investigate an explosion at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn. Federal authorities said Tuesday, March 13, 2018, they have charged three men from rural central Illinois with the bombing of a Minnesota mosque last year and one of the men told an investigator the goal of the attack was to "scare" Muslims out of the United States. A statement from the U.S. attorney's office in Springfield, Illinois, says the men also are suspected in the attempted bombing of an abortion clinic in November. (David Joles/Star Tribune via AP File)


A building that housed Michael Hari's business is seen Wednesday, March 14, 2018, in Clarence, Ill. Hari, a former sheriff's deputy accused of being the ringleader in the bombing of a Minnesota mosque emerges in court documents as a sometimes-threatening figure with anti-government views who also wrote books and attracted others into his shadowy group. Hari, allegedly intended for the attack to scare Muslims into leaving the U.S. He and two associates were charged Tuesday, March 13, 2018m with traveling some 500 miles from rural Clarence, Illinois, about 120 south of Chicago, to carry out the Aug. 5, 2017 pipe-bomb assault on the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)


By MICHAEL TARM, AMY FORLITI and TERESA CRAWFORD

Associated Press

CLARENCE, Ill. (AP) — A former sheriff’s deputy and purported ringleader in the bombing of a Minnesota mosque emerges in court documents as a sometimes-threatening figure with anti-government views who also wrote books and attracted others into his shadowy group.

Michael Hari, 47, allegedly intended for the attack to scare Muslims into leaving the U.S. He and two associates were charged Tuesday with traveling from rural Clarence, Illinois, about 120 miles south of Chicago, to carry out the Aug. 5 pipe-bomb assault on the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota.

The explosion caused a damaging fire just as morning prayers were about to begin, but no one was hurt.

Even before his arrest, the self-described entrepreneur and watermelon farmer had a background that included working in law enforcement, floating ideas for a border wall with Mexico, fleeing with his daughters to Central America during a custody dispute and suing the federal government for allegedly cutting in on his food-safety business.

Court papers say Hari promised his accomplices $18,000 for their participation in the mosque attack. But the complaints in the case do not portray him as well off, citing an informant who said Hari frequently stayed at his parents’ home because he had no running water or electricity.

Hari describes some of his political views in a federal lawsuit he filed last month against the Department of Agriculture in which he complains it was cutting in on his food-safety certification business, Equicert.

“The People of the United States have rejected the Marxist doctrine that the government shall own the means of production,” he wrote.

Under the screen name “Illinois Patriot,” Hari posted 19 videos to YouTube in the past two months, most of them anti-government monologues delivered in a smooth, matter-of-fact voice. He wears a balaclava that obscures all but his eyes.

In a March 11 video titled “A Cry for Liberty,” Hari criticizes the Justice Department as “a political animal,” and calls the government “completely illegitimate.”

He spoke to the Chicago Tribune last year for a story on Illinois residents seeking contracts to help build the border wall with Mexico championed by President Donald Trump. Hari said he had drafted a $10 billion construction plan.

In addition to Hari, authorities charged Joe Morris, 22, and Michael McWhorter, 29. All three men live in Clarence, a community with a population of just a few dozen people encircled by farm fields. During a reporter’s visit on Wednesday, at least four homes displayed Confederate flags — one flying high atop a flagpole in a front yard.

It isn’t clear why the men targeted a mosque in Minnesota, though Al-Farooq had been in the headlines in recent years.

A group of young Minnesota men who were convicted of conspiring to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State Group had frequented the mosque. A young woman and at least one of the men who successfully got to Syria also worshiped there. Mosque leaders were never accused of any wrongdoing.

Hari fled the U.S. in the early 2000s to live in Mexico and then the small South American nation of Belize, taking his two teenage daughters with him for fear his ex-wife would gain custody, according to media reports of legal proceedings against him after he returned to the U.S. in 2006. He was convicted of child abduction and given probation.

The case put Hari on television.

Dr. Phil McGraw of the “Dr. Phil” talk show used an investigator to help track down Hari in Belize, shortly before Hari came back to face charges of abducting his kids.

He wrote a handful of self-published books, including essays on religion. One was titled “Resurgence: More than Conquerors.” Another was “Beowulf: A Novel of the Norsemen,” which was listed as the first in a series.

Hari belonged to the Old German Baptist Brethren, a religious sect that shares some beliefs with the Amish, although its followers do not spurn modern technology, according to 2006 coverage of his trial published in the News-Gazette in Champaign, about 30 miles south of Clarence.

Some of Hari’s neighbors told Champaign television station WCIA that Hari frightened them. One neighbor said Hari gave her “the heebie-jeebies.”

His criminal record includes a charge of assaulting a neighbor who entered his property in July, when he allegedly held the man down and pointed a pellet gun at his head. Then in February, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives received an anonymous tip about explosives on that neighbor’s property.

Authorities found explosives, including a pipe bomb, which McWhorter said he, Hari and Morris planted to discredit the neighbor who reported the assault, according to court documents. Hari allegedly called in the phony tip.

In a March 10 video, just days before his arrest, Hari went to YouTube again and posted as “Illinois Patriot,” saying FBI and local law enforcement investigators had “run wild” and were terrorizing Clarence.

He asked “freedom-loving people everywhere to come and help us.”

Hari was raised near Champaign and went to graduate school in criminal justice at the University of Central Texas, now known as Texas A&M University-Central Texas, where he took courses in security-related construction, the Tribune reported.

The three men are also suspected in the attempted bombing of an abortion clinic on Nov. 7 in Champaign, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Springfield. In that attack, a pipe bomb was thrown inside but failed to go off.

A tip in December led authorities to investigate the three men, after a person sent the local sheriff photos of guns and bomb-making material inside Hari’s parents’ home. In January, a second informant told authorities that the men had carried out the mosque bombing and the failed clinic attack, according to the complaints.

Tarm reported from Chicago. Forliti reported from Minneapolis. News researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York City also contributed to this report.

Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mtarm .

Joy Behar apologizes to Christians; Franklin Graham accepts | Charlotte Observer

Joy Behar makes fun of Christians, Vice President Pence. Here’s how she came to apologize.

March 13, 2018

Joy Behar, one of the co-hosts of ABC’s “The View” made a brief on-air apology Tuesday to those Christians offended by her mid-February comment dismissing people’s claims that Jesus talks with them as “mental illness.”

Among the first to accept her apology: North Carolina-based evangelist Franklin Graham, who had called in a Tuesday Facebook post for her to publicly apologize. When she did, Graham updated his post: “Thank you, Joy – I accept your apology.”

He also tweeted his approval.

Behar caused a firestorm of controversy a month ago when she and the other hosts offered opinions about a scene from CBS’ “Big Brother: Celebrity Edition.” In the scene, former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman said that Vice President Pence “thinks Jesus tells him to say thing.”

Behar’s on-air reaction: “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness.”

Her remark prompted thousands of angry Christians to flood ABC and the show’s sponsors with angry phone calls.

Behar called Pence to offer him a personal apology, the vice president told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Monday night.

“I give Joy Behar a lot of credit,” Pence said. “She picked up the phone. She called me. She was very sincere, and she apologized. And one of the things my faith teaches me is grace: forgive as you’ve been forgiven.”

But Pence said he also encouraged Behar to publicly “apologize to tens of millions of Americans who were equally offended.”

On Tuesday morning, Graham echoed that call, saying on Facebook that it was “disappointing that there’s still been no action taken by the network and there hasn’t been a public apology. … I think she should publicly apologize to all Christians. Do you agree?

About 61,000 people liked or registered other reactions to Graham’s post. More than 11,000 people shared it and nearly 18,000 left comments.

On Tuesday’s episode of “The View,” Behar told her audience: “I think Vice President Pence is right. I was raised to respect everyone’s religious faith, and I fell short of that. I sincerely apologize for what I said.”

The show also tweeted her public apology.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/living/religion/article204892799.html#storylink=cpy

Politics Elections White House Congress Law Taxes

Trump’s lawyer in Mueller probe, John Dowd, cited for Trump campaign contribution above the legal max

Christina Wilkie

CNBC

President Donald Trump’s lawyer, John Dowd, contributed more money last year to the president’s re-election campaign than is legally permissible.

A March letter from the Federal Election Commission to the Trump campaign listed Dowd as one of 108 donors who gave more than the the individual maximum in the third quarter of 2017.

The Trump campaign said it issued Dowd a refund earlier this year.

President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer in the Russia probe, John Dowd, contributed more money last year to the president’s re-election campaign than is legally permissible, according to a recent letter from the Federal Election Commission to the Trump campaign.

Dowd is Trump’s lead counsel, charged with crafting the president’s response to the special counsel’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election. A veteran white-collar defense attorney and a politically active Republican, Dowd’s understanding of how Washington works has made him a key member of the president’s legal team.

But a March 8 letter from the FEC to Bradley Crate, the Trump campaign treasurer, put the campaign on notice that there were 108 donors who had made “excessive, prohibited and impermissible” contributions to the Trump campaign in the last quarter of 2017. Dowd’s name appeared on this list, below. The X is for donations that require additional details.

Under federal law, the maximum amount an individual may contribute to a political campaign, per election, is $2,700. But Dowd has given a total of $3,000 to Trump’s 2020 general election campaign, according to the tally the FEC sent the Trump campaign.

Crate told CNBC that the campaign sent Dowd a refund check for $300 on January 3, a few days too late to be reflected in their fourth quarter filing to the FEC. He said it will appear on its next quarterly report to the FEC, to be released in April. Dowd said he had received the check.

It’s not uncommon for individual donors to accidentally contribute more to a candidate than the legal maximum of $2,700. But Dowd’s case is unusual, both because of the donor and because of the date, said Brendan Fischer, senior counsel at the nonprofit, nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center.

“These kinds of errors are understandable when made in the midst of a hectic election season by a rookie campaign. But they become more difficult to understand when made by a second-term presidential candidate 32 months out from his next election,” Fischer told CNBC. “And it is even more difficult to understand how the president’s lawyer managed to exceed contribution limits.”

“This is pretty embarrassing for the Trump campaign and for Dowd,” said a prominent D.C. election attorney who spoke to CNBC on the condition of anonymity.

As for who bears responsibility for the fact that Dowd’s Oct. 1 contribution was above the legal limit, and yet was accepted by the Trump campaign, experts said both the donor and the campaign share culpability.

“The law prohibits contributors from making excessive contributions to candidates, but it also prohibits candidates from accepting the excessive contribution. So both contributors and candidates bear responsibility – for making & accepting contributions, respectively,” sad Steve Spaulding, a former FEC special counsel now at the nonprofit watchdog group Common Cause.

The FEC has given the Trump campaign until April 12 to respond to the rest of the letter, which includes a 46-page list of 108 individual donors, including Dowd, who made excessive contributions in the third quarter of 2017. Campaigns have 60 days after the date of a prohibited contribution to either refund it, attribute it to another person (such as the donor’s spouse), or redesignate it to another election.

“Not accepting contributions that exceed federal limits is one of the most basic responsibilities for a campaign committee, although we can expect that campaigns bringing in a high volume of contributions will make some errors,” Campaign Legal Center’s Fischer said.

Individual donor limits, however, are not Fischer’s chief concern when it comes to the burgeoning Trump 2020 campaign operation, he said.

“The Trump campaign’s reckless record keeping is less problematic to me than its close association with the dark money group America First Policies,” Fischer said, referring to a nonprofit group closely aligned with the Trump White House, which CNBC reported on earlier this month.

“The FEC will catch when a donor gives more than $2,700 to the Trump campaign,” he said. “But nobody can know when a shady billionaire gives millions of dollars to Trump’s dark money group and asks for something in return.”

Christina Wilkie is Political Reporter for CNBC.com

Larry Kudlow’s former boss thinks he would be the ‘wrong voice’ to replace Cohn at the White House

Rep. Marcy Kaptur to become longest-serving woman in history of House

By Aileen Graef, CNN

March 13, 2018

Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio will shatter records Sunday by becoming the longest-serving woman in the history of the House of Representatives.

Kaptur took office in January 1983 as the representative of Ohio’s 9th Congressional District, which includes a good part of the coastline of Lake Erie, including Toledo. Recruited to run by the Lucas County Democratic Party against first-term Republican Ed Weber, she ran an economy-centered campaign during the recession of 1982.

Kaptur has been outspoken about environmental issues, especially preventing the pollution of the Great Lakes. She is also an advocate of tightening restrictions on campaign donations.

Kaptur’s length of service in Congress surpasses that of the late former Republican Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts, who served in Congress from 1925 to 1960.

At about three months in, 2018 has been a record-shattering year for women in Congress. When Democratic Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota was sworn in to office in January to replace former Sen. Al Franken, who resigned, it brought the number of women currently serving in the US Senate to 22. The previous high was in January 2017, when the number of female senators grew from 20 to 21.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, meanwhile, set the record for the longest speech on the House floor in February when she spoke for a little more than eight hours to oppose the budget deal to lift spending caps and avert a government shutdown because it did not address immigration issues, including protections for young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

In addition, Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois is expected to be the first woman to give birth while serving in the Senate.

CNN’s Ryan Struyk, Daniella Diaz and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.

In this July 2017 booking photo released by Ford County Sheriff’s Office, Michael Hari is seen on an assault charge. Hari, 47, allegedly intended for the attack to scare Muslims into leaving the U.S. He and two associates were charged Tuesday, March 13, 2018, with traveling from rural Clarence, Illinois, about 120 miles south of Chicago, to carry out the Aug. 5 pipe-bomb assault on the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. (Ford County Sheriff’s Office via The News-Gazette, via AP)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/03/web1_120081295-71bb08f85152467eaf7d145cac8c1393.jpgIn this July 2017 booking photo released by Ford County Sheriff’s Office, Michael Hari is seen on an assault charge. Hari, 47, allegedly intended for the attack to scare Muslims into leaving the U.S. He and two associates were charged Tuesday, March 13, 2018, with traveling from rural Clarence, Illinois, about 120 miles south of Chicago, to carry out the Aug. 5 pipe-bomb assault on the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. (Ford County Sheriff’s Office via The News-Gazette, via AP)

FILE – In this Aug. 15, 2017 file photo, Law enforcement officials investigate an explosion at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn. Federal authorities said Tuesday, March 13, 2018, they have charged three men from rural central Illinois with the bombing of a Minnesota mosque last year and one of the men told an investigator the goal of the attack was to "scare" Muslims out of the United States. A statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Springfield, Illinois, says the men also are suspected in the attempted bombing of an abortion clinic in November. (David Joles/Star Tribune via AP File)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/03/web1_120081295-cc753c01d8ad4dc5af39ba6a0218b381.jpgFILE – In this Aug. 15, 2017 file photo, Law enforcement officials investigate an explosion at the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minn. Federal authorities said Tuesday, March 13, 2018, they have charged three men from rural central Illinois with the bombing of a Minnesota mosque last year and one of the men told an investigator the goal of the attack was to "scare" Muslims out of the United States. A statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Springfield, Illinois, says the men also are suspected in the attempted bombing of an abortion clinic in November. (David Joles/Star Tribune via AP File)

A building that housed Michael Hari’s business is seen Wednesday, March 14, 2018, in Clarence, Ill. Hari, a former sheriff’s deputy accused of being the ringleader in the bombing of a Minnesota mosque emerges in court documents as a sometimes-threatening figure with anti-government views who also wrote books and attracted others into his shadowy group. Hari, allegedly intended for the attack to scare Muslims into leaving the U.S. He and two associates were charged Tuesday, March 13, 2018m with traveling some 500 miles from rural Clarence, Illinois, about 120 south of Chicago, to carry out the Aug. 5, 2017 pipe-bomb assault on the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/03/web1_120081295-ce826390eb484c0b954f69efbfa8308a.jpgA building that housed Michael Hari’s business is seen Wednesday, March 14, 2018, in Clarence, Ill. Hari, a former sheriff’s deputy accused of being the ringleader in the bombing of a Minnesota mosque emerges in court documents as a sometimes-threatening figure with anti-government views who also wrote books and attracted others into his shadowy group. Hari, allegedly intended for the attack to scare Muslims into leaving the U.S. He and two associates were charged Tuesday, March 13, 2018m with traveling some 500 miles from rural Clarence, Illinois, about 120 south of Chicago, to carry out the Aug. 5, 2017 pipe-bomb assault on the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford)