Archive for Kelsey Vlamis

Ex-Trump aide who founded ‘free speech’ app GETTR says he couldn’t come to a deal with Trump, who has just announced a new social platform of his own

Jason Miller, Senior Adviser to the Trump 2020 re-election campaign, appears for the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump in the Senate, at the Capitol in Washington, on Feb. 9, 2021.
Jason Miller, Senior Adviser to the Trump 2020 re-election campaign, appears for the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump in the Senate, at the Capitol in Washington, on Feb. 9, 2021.
  • Donald Trump announced plans Wednesday to launch a new social media site called TRUTH Social.
  • Former Trump spokesperson Jason Miller said the two were unable to reach a deal on a platform.
  • Miller left his Trump role to launch the "free speech" app GETTR, which Trump hasn't joined.

Jason Miller, who served as an adviser to former President Donald Trump, said the two were unable to reach a deal regarding their social media sites in a statement that followed Trump announcing plans to launch a new platform.

Earlier this year, Miller left his role as Trump's spokesman to launch GETTR, a social media platform that brands itself as a "free speech" app.

Bloomberg's Jennifer Jacobs reported at the time that Trump did not have any plans to join or become financially involved in GETTR, as he was still looking into launching his own platform.

Trump officially announced plans for a new platform on Wednesday, saying in a statement he created it "to stand up to the tyranny of Big Tech." The social media site, which will be called TRUTH Social, is slated to launch for the public in 2022, according to Trump.

Following the news, Miller released a statement congratulating Trump and saying the two had tried to come to a deal.

"Congratulations to President Trump for re-entering the social media fray! Now Facebook and Twitter will lose even more market share," he wrote. "President Trump has always been a great deal-maker, but we just couldn't come to terms on a deal."

He also touted new features on GETTR and urged people to download the app.

Trump has been exploring ways to get back on social media after being booted from popular platforms like Twitter and Facebook earlier this year for violating their terms of service.

In addition to foregoing GETTR, Trump has not joined any of the other alternative apps aimed at conservatives and members of the far-right, such as Parler or Gab.

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Widow of a DC police officer who died by suicide after the Capitol riot says ‘if it wasn’t for January 6, he would still be here’

capitol police
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they storm the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.
  • Erin Smith says her husband would still be alive if not for the January 6 Capitol riot.
  • Jeffrey Smith, a DC police officer, shot and killed himself nine days after working the riot.
  • Erin Smith says video of the riot shows her husband being hit in the head with a metal pole.

The widow of Jeffrey Smith, a DC Metropolitan police officer who died by suicide after the Capitol riot, said her husband would still be alive if not for his experience on January 6.

Erin Smith told NBC's "Weekend Nightly News" in an interview set to air Sunday that Jeffrey Smith, a 12-year veteran officer, changed after the "traumatic situation" at the Capitol.

"He got more distant. He got angry. He was very short tempered. And he was not himself," Erin Smith said, according to a transcript of the interview shared with Insider.

She told NBC News' Leigh Ann Caldwell that the behavior was "very out of character" for Jeffrey Smith, who she described as a "fun guy" who "was always dancing around the house, making jokes, kind of an uplifting person that would keep you smiling and laughing."

"If it wasn't for January 6, he would still be here," Erin Smith said.

Jeffrey Smith, who was 35 at the time of his death, died nine days after working the Capitol riot, during which he was struck in the head by a metal pole, according to his wife.

Video from that day captured the attack and showed Jeffrey Smith knocked to the ground, apparently unconscious, according to a lawsuit filed by Erin Smith against the alleged attackers.

He shot and killed himself while driving on the George Washington Memorial Parkway the day after he was ordered to return back to work.

Erin Smith wrote in an op-ed for USA Today that medical experts, including the former DC chief medical examiner, told her the events of January 6 directly caused her husband's death.

She has called for his death to be classified as in-the-line-of-duty, which she says comes with proper recognition of service and benefits for his family.

"These officers need to be recognized for the horrors they have seen and protected us from," she wrote. "Their families should receive the same support and assistance as every other fallen officer's family. Instead, we have been stigmatized, had our health insurance taken, denied even the courtesy of an official burial."

At least four police officers who defended the Capitol on January 6 later died by suicide.

The full interview with Erin Smith will air Sunday night on NBC at 6:30 pm ET.

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AOC appeared to dunk on Kyrsten Sinema as progressives and moderates feud, saying there isn’t anything ‘maverick’ about protecting the rich

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appeared to take a shot at fellow Democratic lawmaker Sen. Kyrsten Sinema in a tweet on Saturday as progressives and moderates struggle to agree on key pieces of legislation.

"There really isn't anything maverick, innovative, or renegade about being a politician that works with corporate lobbyists to protect the rich, short-shrift working families, and preserve the status quo," Ocasio-Cortez wrote, adding its one of the "most conventional ways to navigate politics."

She didn't mention the Arizona senator by name, but the tweet was posted hours after a report suggested Sinema wanted to be remembered as a "maverick," like the late Arizona Sen. John McCain.

"I think she definitely would like for her legacy to be 'the maverick' like him," Grant Woods, a former Arizona attorney general, told Time magazine. "He was instinctively drawn to doing the opposite of what he was told and what people expected. She's definitely attracted to that image."

Many of the replies to Ocasio-Cortez's tweet directly named or mocked Sinema. Others were retweeting it and directly tagging Sinema's account.

Representatives for Sinema did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Sinema has refused to support President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion "Build Back Better" social spending bill, angering progressives and sparking confusion over her stance. The bill would increase taxes on the rich and corporations, expand Medicare and Medicaid, lower prescription drug prices, improve access to childcare, and more.

The bill also needs the support of every Democrat in the Senate, which is split 50-50.

Sinema drew more criticism after The New York Times reported she was hosting a political fundraiser for business lobbying groups that oppose much of the bill.

Meanwhile, House progressives refused to support Biden's $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill this week after Speaker Nancy Pelosi decoupled it from the larger social-spending plan. Pelosi is still working to shore up support for the bill and said she expects the House to vote on it before the end of the month.

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Scarlett Johansson and Disney settled a lawsuit brought by the actress over her pay for ‘Black Widow’

Scarlett Johansson in Black Widow
  • Scarlett Johansson and Disney settled a lawsuit brought by the actress in July over "Black Widow."
  • Johansson argued the company violated their contract and cost her wages by releasing the film in theaters and on Disney+ at the same time.
  • Disney said the lawsuit had "no merit whatsoever." The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Scarlett Johansson and The Walt Disney Company reached a settlement in a lawsuit brought by the actress over the company's distribution of the Marvel movie "Black Widow."

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but Johansson was seeking additional compensation for her work on the film.

"I am happy to have resolved our differences with Disney," Johansson said in a statement provided to Insider. "I'm incredibly proud of the work we've done together over the years and have greatly enjoyed my creative relationship with the team. I look forward to continuing our collaboration in years to come."

Alan Bergman, chairman of Disney Studios Content, said he was also happy to have resolved the dispute.

"I'm very pleased that we have been able to come to a mutual agreement with Scarlett Johansson regarding 'Black Widow,'" he said in a statement. "We appreciate her contributions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and look forward to working together on a number of upcoming projects, including Disney's 'Tower of Terror'."

Johansson filed the lawsuit against Disney in July, arguing that the company's decision to release "Black Widow" simultaneously on its Disney+ streaming platform and in theaters violated her contract and cost her millions in income.

Johansson's salary for the film was largely based on how it performed at the box office. Sources told The Wall Street Journal she was seeking as much as $80 million from Disney in addition to the $20 million she was already paid for the film.

Disney said the lawsuit had "no merit whatsoever" and was "especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic."

"Black Window" was originally slated for release on May 1, 2020, but was pushed back multiple times due to the pandemic. In March, Disney announced the film would be released in July in theaters and on Disney+, where subscribers could rent it for $30.

As of August, the film had grossed $367 million at the box office worldwide and $125 million on streaming.

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Liz Cheney said ‘I was wrong’ for opposing same-sex marriage and that she has since reconciled with her sister

Liz Cheney
Rep. Liz Cheney (R)
  • Rep. Liz Cheney sad she was wrong when she condemned gay marriage in 2013 while running for Senate.
  • The comments prompted a denouncement from her sister, Mary Cheney, who is married to a woman.
  • Cheney said on "60 Minutes" Sunday that she was wrong and she and her sister have reconciled.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Rep. Liz Cheney said she was wrong when she condemned same sex marriage in 2013 in remarks that led to a public feud with her sister, who is married to a woman.

In an interview with "60 Minutes" that aired Sunday, correspondent Lesley Stahl pointed out that Cheney's father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, came out in favor of same-sex marriage at the time. She asked Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming, how she defends her decision to come out against it.

"I was wrong. I was wrong. I love my sister very much. I love her family very much," Cheney said. "It's a very personal issue, and very personal for my family. I believe that my dad was right. And my sister and I have had that conversation."

She added: "We need to work against discrimination of all kinds in our country, in our state. We were at, at an event a few nights ago and, and there was a young woman who said, she doesn't feel safe sometimes because she's transgender. And nobody should feel unsafe. Freedom means freedom for everybody."

Cheney was running for Senate in Wyoming in 2013 when she said she opposed same-sex marriage. At the time, Mary Cheney, Cheney's sister, had been with her wife since 1992 and married to her since 2012.

Mary Cheney denounced her sister and said she was treating her family like "second class citizens."

In a post on Sunday, Mary Cheney said she loves her sister and is "so proud of her."

"It took a ton of courage to admit that she was wrong back in 2013 when she opposed marriage equality. That is something few politicians would ever do," she wrote in a Facebook post. "I have nothing but respect and admiration for the strength of character she continues to show on a daily basis."

"And as her sister - I have one more thing that I just have to say. I told you so," she added.

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A female soldier at Fort Bliss said she was assaulted by a group of male Afghan refugees, officials say

An aerial view of Fort Bliss' Doña Ana Village in New Mexico is seen Friday, Sept. 10, 2021.
An aerial view of Fort Bliss' Doña Ana Village in New Mexico is seen Friday, Sept. 10, 2021.
  • A soldier at Fort Bliss said she was assaulted by a group of Afghan refugees, officials said Friday.
  • The FBI is now investigating the incident.
  • Thousands of Afghan refugees are being temporarily housed on military bases in the US.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A female soldier at Fort Bliss reported she was assaulted by a group of male Afghan refugees, officials said Friday.

"We can confirm a female service member supporting Operation Allies Welcome reported being assaulted on Sept. 19 by a small group of male evacuees at the Doña Ana Complex in New Mexico," Lt. Col. Allie Payne, director of Public Affairs for Fort Bliss and the 1st Armored Division, said in a statement to ABC-7.

Payne said extra security measures will be taken at the at the Doña Ana Complex, such as better lighting, and that the soldier has recieved medical care and counseling. She also said the FBI is investigating.

Sources with knowledge of the incident told ABC-7 the assault was not sexual in nature and that the soldier was attacked near her car after arriving for duty.

Violence is an ongoing problem for female soldiers, particularly sexual assault and harassment. According to the nonprofit Futures Without Violence, "women in the military are particularly vulnerable to abuse due to geographical isolation from family and friends, and the potential for social isolation within the military culture."

During the US's withdrawal from Afghanistan, tens of thousands of Afghan allies and refugees were evacuated and sent to the states. Nearly 49,000 are being held on eight military bases throughout the country as they await resettlement, according to a federal document obtained by The New York Times.

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CDC director endorsed Pfizer booster shots for older Americans, people with underlying conditions, and those with higher risk on the job, partially breaking from advisory panel

Rochelle Walensky
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky
  • The CDC endorsed booster shots for Americans 65 and older and at-risk groups late Thursday.
  • CDC Director Rochelle Walensky partially broke with the advisory panel, endorsing shots for those at higher risk due to their job.
  • That could include healthcare workers, teachers, and grocery store employees, among others.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed booster shots of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for select groups late Thursday evening. The move means the jabs can start being administered.

In line with the recommendations made by a CDC advisory panel earlier on Thursday, the CDC endorsed the shots for Americans 65 and older, residents of nursing homes, and adults aged 18 to 64 with underlying health conditions.

But Director Rochelle Walensky partially broke from the panel, endorsing the booster shots for people who are at an increased risk of getting COVID-19 while at work or because of where they live. That could include healthcare workers, teachers, grocery store employees, and people who live in prisons or homeless shelters.

Hours after the panel voted 9-6 not to recommend boosters for those groups, Walensky overruled them.

"As CDC Director, it is my job to recognize where our actions can have the greatest impact," Walensky said in a statement late Thursday, according to The Associated Press. "At CDC, we are tasked with analyzing complex, often imperfect data to make concrete recommendations that optimize health. In a pandemic, even with uncertainty, we must take actions that we anticipate will do the greatest good."

Walensky noted her recommendation aligned with the Food and Drug Administration, which recommended on Wednesday that adults "in an occupational or institutional setting" that increases their risk of getting COVID-19 also be eligible for the shot.

The CDC advisory panel, made up of independent medical experts, broke with the FDA on that recommendation in a split decision on Thursday. The panel said it was concerned the move could send mixed messages about the vaccines, which are incredibly effective at preventing severe illness.

Walensky also said Thursday the primary goal remains to get unvaccinated Americans their first shot. According to the CDC, as of Thursday, 55% of the US population is fully vaccinated, while 64% had received at least one dose.

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Workers with a higher risk of getting COVID-19, like healthcare workers and teachers, are eligible for a Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot

Vaccine
  • The FDA authorized booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for some groups on Wednesday.
  • People 18 to 64 who have a higher risk of getting COVID-19 at work are among the eligible groups.
  • That could include healthcare workers, teachers, and grocery store employees, among others.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The Food and Drug Administration authorized booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for use in some groups on Wednesday, and lots of American workers just became eligible.

The FDA authorized the boosters for people 65 and older and people 18 to 64 who are at a high risk of getting a severe case of COVID-19. It also approved the shots for people 18 to 64 who are at a higher risk of getting COVID-19 while at work.

That could include healthcare workers, teachers, and grocery store employees, among other occupations.

"Today's action demonstrates that science and the currently available data continue to guide the FDA's decision-making for COVID-19 vaccines during this pandemic," Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement, adding that the authorization was amended "to allow for a booster dose in certain populations such as health care workers, teachers, and daycare staff, grocery workers and those in homeless shelters or prisons, among others."

The FDA also authorized the boosters for those 18 to 64 who are at a higher risk of getting COVID-19 because of where they reside, such as prisons and other institutions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to issue more guidance on who should be prioritized to receive the booster shots. But similar to the initial vaccine rollout, it will be up to state and local governments to implement.

Unlike the initial vaccine rollout, the US is less likely to face a supply issue where those who are eligible have a difficult time getting a shot.

The US is still urging Americans to get their first vaccine dose. As of Wednesday, 75% of eligible Americans 12 years of age or older had received one vaccine dose according to the CDC, while 64% were fully vaccinated.

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A doctor in Texas says he broke the law and performed an abortion: ‘I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972’

Protesters hold up signs at a protest against Texas' new abortion law outside the state capitol on May 29, 2021 in Austin, Texas.
Protesters hold up signs at a protest against Texas' new abortion law outside the state capitol on May 29, 2021 in Austin, Texas.
  • A new law took effect in Texas this month banning all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.
  • Dr. Alan Braid said in a Washington Post op-ed that he performed an abortion past that limit anyways.
  • "I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients," he wrote.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A doctor said he broke Texas' restrictive new law and performed an abortion, explaining his decision in an op-ed published by The Washington Post on Saturday.

Dr. Alan Braid, who provides abortion care in San Antonio, said he has spent nearly 45 years as a practicing OB/GYN in Texas, during which time he delivered 10,000 babies, conducted Pap smears and pelvic exams, and performed abortions.

"Then, this month, everything changed," Braid wrote, citing the controversial Texas law that took effect on September 1 that banned all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy with no exemptions for rape or incest.

"It shut down about 80 percent of the abortion services we provide," he said, adding that the law also allows him to be sued for at least $10,000.

But Braid said that on the morning of September 6, he performed an abortion for a woman who was in her first trimester but past the limit set by the new law.

"I acted because I had a duty of care to this patient, as I do for all patients, and because she has a fundamental right to receive this care," he wrote. "I fully understood that there could be legal consequences - but I wanted to make sure that Texas didn't get away with its bid to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested."

Other abortion providers in the state have said they turn away most of the women who contact them seeking abortions since the new law took effect. Abortion rights advocates say most women do not even know they are pregnant at the six-week mark.

Braid said that he violated the law because he believes abortion is "an essential part of health care" and because he remembers what it was like when he began his residency in 1972, before the Roe v. Wade ruling the following year.

"At the hospital that year, I saw three teenagers die from illegal abortions," he wrote. "I can't just sit back and watch us return to 1972."

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A rally held in DC in support of the January 6 defendants drew small crowds but plenty of police and media, despite Trump’s support

Police in riot gear observe the Justice for J6 rally near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.
Police in riot gear observe the Justice for J6 rally near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.
  • Law enforcement in DC was on high alert for a rally planned in support of the January 6 defendants.
  • The rally drew smaller than expected crowds, despite Trump voicing his support for the defendants.
  • Police, many in riot gear, outnumbered rallygoers, according to AP.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Heightened fears surrounding the "Justice for J6" rally held in Washington DC on Saturday turned out to be largely unwarranted, as the event failed to draw significant crowds.

The event was held in support of defendants charged with "nonviolent offenses" in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, according to a statement issued by the group organizing the event. More than 600 people were arrested in relation to the Capitol riot and are facing charges ranging from unlawful or violent entry to assault of a police officer.

The rally sparked security concerns, prompting police to place fencing around the Capitol earlier this week. A Department of Homeland Security official said they expected about 700 people to show up for the rally.

Matt Braynard, organizer of the Justice For J6 rally, speaks near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.
Matt Braynard, organizer of the Justice For J6 rally, speaks near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.

Former President Donald Trump appeared to express solidarity with the rallygoers in a statement issued Thursday.

"Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election. In addition to everything else, it has proven conclusively that we are a two-tiered system of justice. In the end, however, JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL!" he said.

But according to various reports, turnout was less than expected. Capitol Police said only about 400 to 450 people attended the rally. Photos and videos showed a massive police presence and plenty of media.

The Associated Press reported that law enforcement on the scene, many in riot gear, easily outnumbered the rallygoers. Capitol Police said they arrested at least four people, including one man with a handgun.

Speakers at the rally included candidates for elected office. AP reported false claims were shared about the integrity of the 2020 election and about the violence on January 6.

One of the speakers was the girlfriend of Capitol riot defendant Jonathan Mellis, who was captured on video attacking police officers with a stick on January 6, according to AP.

Matt Braynard, the event's organizer and a former Trump campaign staffer, called the rally a success on Twitter and thanked law enforcement who were there.

"Good energy, good message, everybody home safe. Mission accomplished," he wrote.

No GOP lawmakers attended the event, including those who have been speaking up in support of the January 6 defendants.

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