Trump confidant Stone is arrested, faces obstruction charge
By ERIC TUCKER and CHAD DAY
Friday, January 25
WASHINGTON (AP) — Shouting “FBI, open the door,” authorities arrested Roger Stone, a confidant of President Donald Trump, before dawn Friday in a criminal case that revealed that senior members of the Trump campaign sought to benefit from the release of hacked emails damaging to Hillary Clinton.
Stone, a self-proclaimed “dirty trickster,” faced a seven-count indictment in the first criminal case in months from special counsel Robert Mueller.
The indictment provides the most detail to date about how Trump campaign associates in the summer of 2016 were actively seeking the disclosure of emails the U.S. says were hacked by Russia, then provided to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. It alleges that unidentified senior Trump campaign officials contacted Stone to ask when stolen emails relating to Clinton might be disclosed.
The indictment does not charge Stone with conspiring with WikiLeaks or with the Russian officers Mueller says hacked the emails. Instead, it accuses him of lying to Congress about WikiLeaks, tampering with witnesses and obstructing the probe into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin to tip the election.
Some of those false statements were made to the House intelligence committee, prosecutors allege.
CNN aired video of the raid at Stone’s Fort Lauderdale, Florida, home, showing FBI agents in body armor using large weapons and night-vision equipment, running up to the home and banging repeatedly on the door.
“FBI open the door!” one shouts. “FBI, warrant!” Stone could then be seen in the doorway in his sleepwear before he was led away. He is expected to appear in court later Friday.
Stone is the sixth Trump aide charged in Mueller’s investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign and the 34th person overall. The investigation has laid bare multiple contacts between Trump associates and Russia during the campaign and transition period and efforts by several to conceal those communications.
The case against Stone comes weeks after Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was castigated by a judge in open court and just hours before Paul Manafort, his ex-campaign chairman, was due in court on allegations that he had lied to Mueller’s prosecutors.
In referring to Trump campaign officials and their desire to leverage hacked emails, the criminal case brings Mueller’s investigation into the president’s inner circle but it does not accuse the president of any wrongdoing or reveal whether he had advance knowledge of the WikiLeaks trove.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Trump’s press secretary, told CNN on Friday the charges brought against Stone “don’t have anything to do with the president.”
Well-known for his political antics and hard ball tactics, Stone has reveled in being a Washington wheeler-dealer dating back to the Nixon administration. He has also pushed several conspiracy theories and was an early and vocal supporter of Trump’s candidacy.
Stone was one of Trump’s earliest political advisers, encouraging both his presidential runs. He briefly served on Trump’s 2016 campaign, but was pushed out amid infighting with then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Stone continued communicating with Trump on occasion and stayed plugged into the circle of advisers — both formal and informal — who worked with and around Trump.
According to the indictment, many of Stone’s conversations during the campaign involved WikiLeaks. The indictment lays out in detail Stone’s conversations about stolen Democratic emails posted by the group in the weeks before Trump, a Republican, beat Clinton. Mueller’s office has said those emails, belonging to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, were hacked by Russian intelligence officers.
The document says that by June and July 2016, Stone had told senior Trump campaign officials that he had information indicating that WikiLeaks had obtained documents that could be damaging to Clinton’s campaign.
After the July 22, 2016, WikiLeaks release of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee, the indictment says a senior Trump campaign official “was directed” to contact Stone about additional releases and “what other damaging information” WikiLeaks had “regarding the Clinton campaign.” The indictment does not name the official or say who directed the outreach to Stone.
Another Trump campaign official cited in the indictment is Steve Bannon, who later became Trump’s chief strategist in the White House. Bannon, referred to as a “high-ranking Trump Campaign official,” exchanged emails with Stone in October 2016 about WikiLeaks’ plans for releasing hacked material. The indictment quotes from those emails, which had previously been made public by news outlets.
While the indictment provides some new insight into the Trump campaign, it deals largely with what prosecutors say were Stone’s false statements about his conversations with conservative writer and conspiracy theorist, Jerome Corsi, and New York radio host, Randy Credico. Corsi is referred to as Person 1 in the indictment, and Credico as Person 2.
The indictment accuses Stone of carrying out a “prolonged effort” to keep Credico from contradicting his testimony before the House intelligence committee. During that effort, prosecutors note that Stone repeatedly told Credico to “do a ‘Frank Pentangeli,’” a reference to a character in “The Godfather: Part II” who lies before a congressional committee.
Stone is also accused of threatening Credico. The indictment cites several messages, some of which have already been public, that Stone sent to Credico last year. On April 9, Stone called Credico a “rat” and a “stoolie” and accused him of backstabbing his friends. Stone also threatened to “take that dog away from you,” a reference to Credico’s dog, Bianca.
“I am so ready. Let’s get it on. Prepare to die (expletive),” Stone also wrote to Credico.
The indictment had been expected. Stone has said for months he was prepared to be charged, though he has denied any wrongdoing. A grand jury for months had heard from witnesses connected to Stone. And the intelligence committee last year voted to release a transcript of Stone’s testimony to Mueller as a precursor to an indictment.
On Thursday, hours before his arrest, Stone posted on Instagram a photo of himself with Trump and the caption, “Proud of my President.” He also posted a screen shot of a CNN segment and complained that the network had found the “worst photo of me possible.”
Attorney Grant Smith, who represents Stone, did not return phone messages seeking comment Friday.
Stone has publicly denigrated the Mueller investigation and echoed the president’s descriptions of it as a witch hunt. But he has long attracted investigators’ attention, especially in light of a 2016 tweet that appeared to presage knowledge that emails stolen from Podesta would soon be released. Stone has said he had no inside information about the contents of the emails in WikiLeaks’ possession or the timing of when they’d be released.
Stone has said he learned from Credico that WikiLeaks had the emails and planned to disclose them. Stone has also spoken openly about his contacts with Corsi.
Credico hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing. Last year, Mueller’s prosecutors offered a plea agreement to Corsi that would have required him to admit that he intentionally lied to investigators about a discussion with Stone about WikiLeaks. But he rejected the offer and denied that he lied.
In a tweet Friday, Podesta wrote that it was now “Roger’s time in the barrel.” That was a play on Stone’s own words. Stone had tweeted cryptically before the Podesta emails were disclosed that it would soon be Podesta’s “time in the barrel.”
Read the indictment: http://apne.ws/1P23qpR
Associated Press writers Terry Spencer, Jennifer Kay and Kelli Kennedy contributed to this story from Florida.
Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen delaying testimony to Congress
By MICHAEL BALSAMO
Thursday, January 24
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, will not testify before a House committee next month as scheduled, his adviser said Wednesday, depriving Democrats for now of a prime opportunity to scrutinize Trump, his links to Russia and payments to buy the silence of a porn star.
Cohen indefinitely delayed his Feb. 7 appearance before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. He blamed threats from Trump and the president’s attorney-spokesman, Rudy Giuliani, and cited his own ongoing cooperation in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Cohen adviser Lanny Davis said the decision was made on advice of Cohen’s lawyers.
“This is a time where Mr. Cohen had to put his family and their safety first,” Davis said in a statement.
The statement did not detail the threats. But Trump and Giuliani have publicly urged the Justice Department to investigate Cohen’s father-in-law, insinuating he was part of some unspecific criminal activity. Trump, for example, told Fox News this month that Cohen “should give information maybe on his father-in-law, because that’s the one that people want to look at.”
Asked about the claim of a threat, Trump accused Cohen of lying.
“He’s only been threatened by the truth, and he doesn’t want to do that, probably for me or other of his clients,” Trump said at the White House. “He has other clients also, I assume, and he doesn’t want to tell the truth for me or other of his clients.”
Trump’s fixer-turned-foe is a central figure in Mueller’s investigation into possible coordination between Russia and Trump’s campaign. Cohen also played a pivotal role in buying the silence of a porn actress and a former Playboy Playmate who both alleged they had sex with Trump. The president has denied their claims.
Cohen pleaded guilty last year to campaign finance violations and other offenses connected to the payments. Federal prosecutors have said Trump directed Cohen to make the payments during the campaign.
Newly empowered Democrats wanted to make Cohen the first high-profile witness since they regained control of the House and have promised an aggressive effort to investigate the president. They have pledged to limit their questioning to avoid interfering with any investigations.
It is unclear how long Cohen is seeking to delay his testimony, but Cohen “looks forward to testifying at the appropriate time,” Davis said.
Cohen is scheduled to report to prison on March 6 to begin a three-year sentence.
Democrats have suggested they may subpoena Cohen to compel his testimony and the committee’s chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings, said Cohen could be brought from prison to appear before Congress.
“We will get his testimony,” Cummings said.
In a statement, Cummings and Rep. Adam Schiff, who heads the House Intelligence Committee, said they understood the “completely legitimate concerns” Cohen raised about threats. But, they added, it “was never an option” for Cohen not to appear before Congress.
The committees have been in touch with Cohen and offered to work with law enforcement to enhance security measures to protect his family and is in touch with Cohen’s lawyers about when he would testify, they said.
“We will not let the president’s tactics prevent Congress from fulfilling our constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities,” the chairmen said in a statement. “This will not stop us from getting to the truth.”
In November, Cohen also pleaded guilty to lying to Congress. He admitted that he said negotiations over the development of a Trump-branded tower in Moscow had ended in January 2016 but had actually continued until at least June 2016, well into Trump’s presidential campaign. Cohen has said he lied to be consistent with Trump’s “political messaging” and to minimize the public’s understanding of Trump’s ties with Russia.
Republicans, in their questioning at a Cohen hearing, probably would have seized on a disputed BuzzFeed News story that Trump instructed Cohen to lie before Congress.
The special counsel’s office issued a rare public statement after the story ran last week disputing elements of the article. BuzzFeed stands by the story and has asked for clarity from Mueller’s team.
Associated Press writers Chad Day, Laurie Kellman and Darlene Superville in Washington and Michael R. Sisak in New York contributed to this report.
Digital technology offers new ways to teach lessons from the Holocaust
January 24, 2019
Author: Jennifer Rich, Assistant Professor; Director of Research and Education for the Rowan Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Rowan University
Disclosure statement: Jennifer Rich does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
When it comes to understanding the horrors of the Holocaust – one of the key aims of International Holocaust Remembrance Day – most millennials are woefully lacking in knowledge. That much was laid bare in a 2018 study commissioned by the Claims Conference – an organization that supports survivors of the Holocaust.
For instance, the study found that nearly half of all millennials – that is, those born from the early 1980s through the 1990s – are unable to name even one of the more than 42,000 camps and ghettos in existence during the Holocaust. The same study found that 41 percent of millennials believe that substantially fewer Jewish people were murdered during the Holocaust than the accepted 6 million figure.
The Centre for Holocaust Education at the University College London found similar gaps in knowledge. For instance, the University College London study found that a third of England’s high school students “massively underestimated the scale of the murder of Jewish people.”
This is a problem when you consider that millennials and young people worldwide have entered or will soon enter classrooms in the United States and elsewhere as teachers.
I’ve found similar deficits in knowledge in my own research into Holocaust education. Several years ago, I conducted a study that measured what student teacher candidates in New Jersey knew about the Holocaust.
The study – which is soon to be published in the journal The Social Studies – found that teachers had giant gaps in their knowledge. Their responses prompted me to probe deeper.
Deficits in knowledge
In my survey of nearly 200 future teachers, I found that only 30 percent knew that the Jewish people were the primary victim of the Holocaust. Even fewer knew the correct century in which the Holocaust took place. Auschwitz was the only concentration camp they identified – although, in their responses, the teaching students spelled it 28 different ways.
This past fall – spurred in part by a rise in anti-Semitism – I conducted a follow-up survey to measure if these future teachers were learning anything more than in the past. The sample was modest but representative – 75 students, all on track to become teachers in another year or so. All had attended New Jersey public schools.
When the student teachers saw the questions, they groaned and uttered things such as, “I can’t believe I don’t know this.” (If you want to figure out how you might have done on the survey, you can ask yourself if you know the answers to the following survey questions: When did the Holocaust take place? What was the political party that perpetrated the Holocaust? Who were the victim groups? Who was the American president? What other genocides can you identify?)
After they completed the survey, the student teachers immediately began to search for the correct answers online. They were disappointed to see just how far off they were. One student teacher after another placed the Holocaust in the 1800s. Others listed Ronald Reagan as the American president during the Holocaust. Perhaps most disturbingly, many listed the number of victims in the thousands, which falls way short of the actual figure.
Digital lessons emerge
Every person cannot be expected to know every single facet of the Holocaust. At the same time, it’s deeply disturbing when large segments of the population don’t know basic facts about one of the most horrendous atrocities – actually a series of atrocities – ever perpetrated against humanity.
Knowing about the Holocaust is a vital part of historical understanding. It is a means of promoting tolerance and inclusion. And it also serves as a form of innoculation against future atrocities.
Fortunately, new advances in learning about the Holocaust through digital humanities offer new ways for American students and teachers – or anyone who cares to learn more about the Holocaust – to learn about an event that took place nearly three-quarters of a century ago.
Here are three examples:
The University of Connecticut recently unveiled Courtroom 600, a project that places users inside the courtroom at the Nuremberg trials where Nazis and collaborators were tried. This project, still in prototype form, allows users to engage with virtual reality technology in order to interact with a fictitious member of the United States team of prosecutors. It also enables users to read primary source documents, gather evidence and prosecute select defendants.
IWitness and holograms
Another digital resource is available through the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation. The foundation, perhaps best known as the holder of thousands of Holocaust survivor testimonies, has created the IWitness program. This is a collection of 1,500 testimonies of survivors and witnesses to genocide – the Holocaust, as well as others like the Nanjing Massacre in China. The testimonies can be searched by subject. There are also ready-made lessons for teachers that can be accessed from anywhere and used freely at any time.
The Shoah Foundation has also recently launched 3D holograms of survivors, giving users the experience of having a conversation with a survivor rather than passively viewing testimony. This project, called Dimensions in Testimony, is groundbreaking. It encourages students and others to engage with survivor testimony in new ways. For instance, each survivor hologram is able to participate in a “conversation,” with responses to commonly asked questions about faith, life before, during and after the war.
Digital source documents
Finally, a partnership between the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Wiener Library in London, and the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, Germany, has produced two online sourcebooks that feature primary sources that deal with the Holocaust. These online sources focus on the camp system and women under Nazi persecution.
Each guide provides images of primary sources found in the International Tracing Service database, descriptions, questions to guide conversation and further avenues of investigation for students. A high school teacher who is using these guides – even though they were originally intended for university-level classes – told me that the documents are easy to modify. She uses them to discuss how to read and engage with primary sources.
The International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen has also produced an “ITS e-guide,” intended to help families and scholars better understand the vast array of paperwork that was produced for any given survivor or victim of the Holocaust. By clicking on an image of a document, users are able to learn more about what the document was used for, how to decode it, who created it, and what to consider when reading the document. Examples include prisoner registration cards, malaria cards and personal effects cards. These artifacts show the great lengths that Nazis went to keep records – even as they carried out one of the most horrific massacres that humanity has ever experienced.
Ultimately, there is not a single solution for the challenges that face Holocaust education. Still, these digital examples all move teaching and learning from passively reading textbooks to actively engaging with history.
As for the answers to the survey questions I mentioned above, the Holocaust took place from 1933 to 1945. The victim groups included Jews, Poles, Roma and Sinti, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, people with disabilities and other groups deemed inferior. The American president during the Holocaust was Franklin D. Roosevelt. Other genocides in the 20th century include the Armenian, Cambodian, Rwandan and Bosnian genocides.