Archive for Sarah Al-Arshani

Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is gearing up for a presidential run: report

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at Jerusalem Post's annual conference on October 12, 2021 in Jerusalem, Israel.
Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at Jerusalem Post's annual conference on October 12, 2021 in Jerusalem, Israel.
  • Mike Pompeo's political action committee spent $30,000 on media training between March and June 2021.
  • The former secretary of state is rebranding his personal and political image, Axios reported. 
  • Last April Pompeo also signed on as a contributor with Fox News. 

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is working to upgrade his personal and political brand in advance of a potential presidential bid, Axios reported. 

Axios reported that between March and June 2021, Pompeo's political action committee spent $30,000 on media training – the highest service it spent on excluding payroll during the first half of last year. 

Pompeo's PAC made the payments to a firm that's run by Brett O'Donnell, a GOP strategist and adviser to the former secretary of state, Axios reported. 

The outlet reported the spending highlights the importance Pompeo is placing on branding amid speculation he's preparing to run for president. 

The former Trump secretary of state also signed on as a contributor to Fox News in April 2021. Additionally, Pompeo said he's lost 90 pounds in six months. 

Insider was unable to reach Pompeo, who HAS previously denied any political aspirations for 2024. 

"The truth is, I'm really getting ready for 2044 and hoping I'll be around in 2054," Pompeo told the New York Post, referencing time he wants to spend with his family. 

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Desperate to preserve at-home COVID-19 testing kits, some families are sharing a single test. Health experts say this ‘intranasal promiscuity’ is gross and yields inaccurate results.

A resident displays an at-home rapid COVID-19 test kit in Philadelphia, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021
A resident displays an at-home rapid COVID-19 test kit in Philadelphia, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021
  • COVID-19 at-home tests were scarce as the Omicron variant spread throughout the US. 
  • Some families desperate to save tests used the same swab to test everyone, the Atlantic reported. 
  • Health experts warn that it's gross and could spread the coronavirus and other germs. 

As the Omicron variant swept through the country, COVID-19 at home rapid tests were in high demand and hard to come by – so some desperate families decided to test multiple people with one swab, the Atlantic reported. 

Public health experts, however, warn that the method may not yield accurate results and called sharing mucus with others "unsafe" and "gross."

"From a public-health perspective, the idea of sticking swabs up each other's noses doesn't sound like a great thing to do," Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told the Atlantic.

Elena Korngold, a radiologist told the publication that late last month she first used a swab from a BinaxNOW test in her nostrils before passing the swab to her husband, who swabbed his own nostrils. The couple's two kids then swabbed their own nostrils. 

They then tested that sample, which came back negative. 

The Atlantic reported that the method draws inspiration from pool PCR testing, which is normally done at schools like Northeastern University or large institutions like hospitals. The method takes individually provided samples from asymptomatic people which are then combined to run as one test. If that test comes back positive, each individual sample would then be tested.  

However, experts told the Atlantic that pool PCR testing was designed to accommodate multiple samples, whereas at-home tests work are meant for just one sample. 

However, Susan Butler-Wu, a clinical microbiologist at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, told the Atlantic that combining samples from multiple people in an at-home test could dilute the virus sample, which is needed for the test to work. 

It's not just whether or not this creative testing method would work to pick up a COVID-19 case, health experts said. The chance of someone spreading COVID-19 to a house member is between 15% and 35% but Nuzzo told the Atlantic that this "intranasal promiscuity" could further spread not just the coronavirus, but other germs as well. 

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Clarence Thomas’ wife spoke at a conservative conference featuring the founder of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group involved in the Capitol riot

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sits with his wife and conservative activist Virginia Thomas while he waits to speak at the Heritage Foundation on October 21, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sits with his wife and conservative activist Virginia Thomas while he waits to speak at the Heritage Foundation on October 21, 2021 in Washington, DC.
  • Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' wife has ties to right-wing groups, the New Yorker reported. 
  • The founder of the Oath Keepers was featured in an event where Virginia Thomas co-hosted a banquet.
  • Earlier this month, Stewart Rhodes was charged with sedition in connection to the Capitol riot.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' wife co-hosted a banquet as part of a symposium that featured the founder of the Oath Keepers, the New Yorker reported. 

In a story published Friday, Jane Mayer detailed Virginia "Ginni" Thomas' ties to conservative groups. 

Among her connections is Stewart Rhodes, who founded the extremist militia group in 2009. Prosecutors previously said the Oath Keepers planned out attacks on the Capitol and held trainings in the weeks before January 6, 2021.

Thomas, a conservative activist and attorney, co-hosted a Remember the Ladies Banquet at the 2010 Liberty XPO & Symposium, which has been described as the "largest conservative training event in history," alongside Moms for America president Kimberly Fletcher.

The symposium also featured Rhodes, who earlier this month was arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy in connection to the Capitol riot. His arrest and charges marked the first time federal prosecutors brought sedition charges against anyone in the investigation into the Capitol siege. He has pleaded not guilty. 

Rhodes is just one of many connections Thomas has to right-wing extremists and the January 6 insurrection, Mayer reported. 

Fletcher, for instance, who co-hosted the banquet with Thomas, gave two speeches the day before the riot in which she spread the false claim that the 2020 election had been stolen from former President Donald Trump. 

The New Yorker report on Thomas' connections to right-wing groups and those involved in the Capitol riot comes on the heels of the Supreme Court denying Trump's request to block the January 6 house select committee from obtaining presidential records for their investigation.

Thomas' husband, Justice Clarence Thomas, issued the lone dissenting vote. According to the New Yorker, Thomas is also involved with parties whose cases are presented before her husband in the Supreme Court. 

Bruce Green, a professor at Fordham specializing in legal ethics, told Mayer that the appearance of Thomas's political activism has an impact on the perception of justice and is "awful." 

"They look like a mom-and-pop political-hack group, where she does the political stuff and he does the judging," Green said. 

Insider has reached out to Thomas, the Supreme Court, Fletcher, and an attorney for Rhodes for comment.

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A former Trump official admitted he helped Rudy Giuliani with the fake electors scheme

A November 19, 2020 photo shows the personal lawyer of US President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, speaking at a press conference watched by Trump campaign advisor Boris Epshteyn (R), at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, DC.
A November 19, 2020 photo shows the personal lawyer of US President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, speaking at a press conference watched by Trump campaign advisor Boris Epshteyn (R), at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, DC.
  • Republicans in seven states tried to falsely certify the election in favor of Donald Trump.
  • On Friday, Boris Epshteyn, a Trump adviser, told MSNBC he helped with the fake electors scheme. 
  • Epshteyn, alongside Rudy Giuliani, was subpoenaed by the January 6 House select committee last week.

A former Trump campaign adviser admitted to playing a role in a scheme to have illegitimate pro-Trump supporters falsely certify the election for him in seven states won by President Joe Biden. 

MSNBC host Ari Melber asked Boris Epshteyn on Friday if he ever worked on or supported the elector scheme. 

"Yes, I was part of the process to make sure there were alternate electors for when, as we hoped, the challenges to the seated electors would be heard, and would be successful," Epshteyn said. 

On Thursday The Washington Post reported that Epshteyn said he'd participated in conference calls with members of Trump's legal team, including Rudy Giuliani, to discuss the electors. 

The Post and CNN reported on Thursday that members of Trump's inner circle, led by Giuliani, coordinated the scheme.

The illegitimate electors' plan had Trump supporters in seven states – ArizonaGeorgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – submit documents to Congress falsely claiming Trump won the states despite the majority of votes actually going to Joe Biden, according to documents obtained by the watchdog group American Oversight in March 2021. 

That plan was included in a six-page memo written by attorney John Eastman detailing a plan for overturning the 2020 election. 

During his interview with Melber, Epshteyn continued to make false claims about election fraud. He also said he did everything legally, citing Hawaii in the 1960 presidential election as a "precedent" for "alternate" electors being used.

CNN reported that in that election, however, Richard Nixon initially had a lead on John F. Kennedy by 141 votes (a narrow margin compared to any state in this previous election). After a legal recount, Nixon lost, and the multiple panels of electors were due to the state changing the outcome following the recount. 

"So, Ari, everything that was done was done legally by the Trump legal team, according to the rules, and under the leadership of Rudy Giuliani," Epshteyn said.

Epshteyn, alongside Guiliani and Trump associates Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis were subpoenaed by the January 6 House select committee this week. 

Additionally, several attorneys general from the seven states with illegitimate electors say they're pursuing investigations and charges. 

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Texas AG Ken Paxton could face a lawsuit after missing a prosecutor’s deadline to hand over documents tied to his appearance at Trump’s rally before the Capitol riot

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, left, next to his wife and Texas State Sen. Angela Paxton, speaks to anti-abortion activists at a rally outside the Supreme Court, Monday, Nov. 1, 2021
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, left, next to his wife and Texas State Sen. Angela Paxton, speaks to anti-abortion activists at a rally outside the Supreme Court, Monday, Nov. 1, 2021.
  • A Texas prosecutor gave AG Ken Paxton four days to turn over records tied to his January 6 appearance. 
  • Paxton refused the request and called it "meritless," the Texas Tribune reported. 
  • The Travis County DA's office said Paxton broke the law by not disclosing his travel to the Capitol.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has refused a prosecutor's demand for information regarding his appearance at Donald Trump's rally before the January 6 Capitol riot, the Texas Tribune reported. 

In a letter to Paxton sent on January 13, Jackie Wood, director of public integrity and complex crimes at the Travis County District Attorney's Office said the attorney general had broken the law by not sharing records about his rally attendance or by not keeping records of it. 

The letter informed Paxton he would face a lawsuit if he didn't turn over the records of his communications within four days of receipt.

The request came after five of Texas' biggest newspapers — the Austin American-Statesman, The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Houston Chronicle, and the San Antonio Express-News – filed a complaint that Paxton was refusing to share records that should be public. 

Paxton said the Travis County district attorney's request was "meritless." In a letter sent on Friday, a lawyer for Paxton's office, Austin Kinghorn, said they had not violated any provision under the state's open records law. 

"Frustrated that they have failed to uncover anything worth reporting following 'numerous open records requests to AG Paxton office for various documents,' complainant newspaper editors have sought to leverage your office's authority to further their fishing expedition, or worse, manufacture a conflict between our respective offices that will give rise to publishable content for the complainants' media outlets," Kinghorn wrote about the five newspapers. 

Paxton's refusal to release records tied to his January 6 appearance comes after attorneys general are considering charges for illegitimate electors who falsified documents saying Trump won the majority of voters in states where he lost. 

Documents obtained by the watchdog group American Oversight in March 2021 showed Trump supporters in ArizonaGeorgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin submitted documents to Congress falsely claiming Trump won the states after the majority of votes actually went to Joe Biden. 

The January 6 House select committee is looking deeper into the illegitimate elector scheme and the role Trump and his associates played in it after it was revealed that Rudy Giuliani was tied to the effort

Both the Texas DA and AG offices did not respond to Insider's request for comment at the time of publication. 

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The White House is setting up a plan to give out free N95 masks through pharmacies and community sites, a new report says

A woman wearing an N95 mask
A medical assistant wears an N95 mask on January 4, 2022.
  • President Joe Biden's administration plans to give out free N95s, Politico reported. 
  • The White House is expected to announce the plan on Wednesday. 
  • According to Politico, the masks will be given out at pharmacies and community sites. 

The White House plans to announce an initiative to distribute hundreds of millions of free N95 masks through pharmacies and community sites on Wednesday, Politico reported. 

President Joe Biden's administration will use masks from the government's Strategic National Stockpile, three sources familiar with the initiative told Politico. 

The initiative comes at a time when public health experts are urging Americans to swap their cloth masks for the more protective N95s in light of the more transmissible Omicron variant. 

"While all masks and respirators provide some level of protection, properly fitted respirators provide the highest level of protection," according to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued Friday

Dawn O'Connell, assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services' Preparedness and Response division, said there were 737 million N95 masks in the Strategic National Stockpile, according to the Politico report.

The effort is meant to help Americans access affordable and safe masks — something the Biden administration has been lobbied on in recent weeks, Politico reported. 

The White House has also required private health insurance companies to cover the cost of up to eight at-home COVID-19 tests a month for each covered individual. Additionally, on Tuesday, the government launched a site where each American household could order four free at-home COVID-19 rapid tests. The program is expected to launch on Wednesday. 

The White House did not respond to Insider's email request for comment. 

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Sen. Tim Kaine says most recent version of spending bill is ‘dead’ but ‘the core of the bill’ will likely pass

Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia campaigns for gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe at a rally in Richmond, VA on October 23, 2021. (Photo by
Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia campaigns for gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe at a rally in Richmond, VA on October 23, 2021. (Photo by
  • Democratic Senator Tim Kaine said there's hope the social and climate spending bill will pass. 
  • Kaine said while the current version of the bill is dead, core elements of it may still go through. 
  • Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has opposed the passing of the bill. 

Democratic Senator Tim Kaine pushed back on the idea that President Joe Biden's social and climate spending bill is completely "dead."

In a CBS "Face the Nation" interview with host Margaret Brennan, Kaine said while the most recent version of the measure is "dead," core elements of the bill could still pass. 

"Even the White House economist is using the past tense when referring to Build Back Better. It's dead. You don't have the votes in the Senate," Brennan told Kaine. 

 

"I don't agree with you, Margaret. You're right that it's dead. The most recent version of it is not going to happen but if you look at the core of the bill, I think the core is education and workforce and things like reduce childcare and education expenses, workforce training, and then support for the workforce in areas like health care," Kaine replied. 

The social spending bill faced numerous blows to getting passed as Sen. Joe Manchin has blocked support of it. Manchin said he opposed the sprawling $2 trillion legislation, mostly based on opposition to the expanded child tax credit, which provides up to $300 a month per child to most families. Manchin has also opposed the total price tag

Earlier this month, Manchin said he's no longer supporting his proposal of a $1.8 trillion plan after a breakdown in the negotiation process with Biden's administration.

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Biden says Texas synagogue hostage taker bought his gun ‘on the street’

US President Joe Biden speaks about the hostage incident at a synagogue in Texas as he arrives with US First Lady Jill Biden (R) to pack food boxes while volunteering in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service, at Philabundance, a hunger relief organization, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 16, 2022.
US President Joe Biden speaks about the hostage incident at a synagogue in Texas as he arrives with US First Lady Jill Biden (R) to pack food boxes while volunteering in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service, at Philabundance, a hunger relief organization, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 16, 2022.
  • Biden said the man who took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue bought his gun off the street. 
  • The FBI identified the suspect as 44-year-old British national, Malik Faisal Akram.
  • Biden said Akram had been in the US for a few weeks and spent his first night in a homeless shelter.

President Joe Biden said the man who took four people hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, on Saturday purchased his gun on the street. 

The FBI identified the suspect in the Congregation Beth Israel hostage situation as 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram.

In a press statement, Biden said Akram had been in the US for only a few weeks and had spent his first night in a homeless shelter. 

Biden said he doesn't have all the details yet but speculated that Akram might have "purchased it from an individual in a homeless shelter or a homeless community," because that's where he said he was. 

"It's hard to tell. I just don't know," Biden said. 

While Akram alleged he had bombs, the president said there were none "that we know of."

Biden added that while background checks are "critical" they don't work when someone buys a gun off the street. 

"But you can't stop something like this if someone is on the street buying something from somebody else on the street.  Except that there's too — there's so many guns that have been sold of late; it's just ridiculous," Biden said. "And it's because of the failure of us to focus as hard as we should and as consistent as we should on gun purchases, gun sales, ghost guns, and a whole range of things that I'm trying to do."

The hostage situation lasted for 11 hours. The synagogue was live-streaming a morning service via Facebook and Zoom, authorities said, when Akram entered and took the four hostages.

All four were released unharmed and Akram was killed at the scene. No details about his death have been released. 

Biden said he did not know the specific motive behind the attack or why the specific synagogue was targetted. FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt DeSarno said that Akram was focused on an issue not linked to the Jewish community, AP reported.

"Well, no, I don't. We don't have — I don't think there is sufficient information to know about why he targeted that synagogue or why he insisted on the release of someone who's been in prison for over 10 years, why he was engaged — why he was using antisemitic and anti-Israeli comments. I — we just don't have enough facts," Biden said.

Akram reportedly made demands that convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui, dubbed "Lady Al-Qaeda," be released from the Carswell Air Force Base in Texas, during the hostage situation.

Siddiqui is serving an 86 year sentence after being convicted for attempting to kill a US soldier in 2010. 

 

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Trump calls the Capitol Police officer who shot Ashli Babbitt a ‘disgrace’ and claims the FBI was behind the insurrection

Former President Donald Trump reacts to the crowd as he arrives to speak at a Save America Rally Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Florence, Ariz.
Former President Donald Trump reacts to the crowd as he arrives to speak at a Save America Rally Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Florence, Ariz.
  • Trump held his first rally of 2022 in Arizona on Saturday. 
  • The former president spewed falsehoods about the January 6 insurrection in his speech. 
  • Trump called the officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt a "disgrace" and an "out-of-control dope."

Former President Donald Trump called the Capitol Police officer who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt during the January 6 riot at the US Capitol a "disgrace" and claimed the FBI was behind the insurrection. 

In the first rally of the year in Florence, Arizona, Trump falsely claimed that Democrats wanted to "protect" the officer exonerated of wrongdoing in Babbitt's killing following an internal investigation.

"I watched this guy being interviewed, they wanted to protect him so they wanted to keep him. He couldn't get on television fast enough. The guy who shot Ashli Babbitt for no reason," Trump said. 

Trump called the officer an"out-of-control dope" and a "disgrace."

"He's so proud of himself. Let's see how he could do without the protections that he got. And by the way, if that happened the other way around they'd be calling 'let's bring back the electric chair,'" Trump added, referencing Democrats. 

Lt. Michael Byrd, a 28-year-veteran of the force, revealed his identity in an interview with NBC News in August, months after the insurrection. 

Babbitt, who the night before the attack tweeted "Nothing will stop us. They can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours," was shot while trying to climb through a shattered window in front of the Speaker's Lobby.

Trump, however, went on to allege that the "real insurrection happened on Election Day" and alleged the FBI was behind the riot. 

"They never talk about that crowd. They talk about the people that walked down to the Capitol. They don't talk about the size of that crowd. I believe it was the largest crowd I've ever spoken before and they were there to protest the election," Trump said. 

He added: "The fake news never talks about it. They never talk about it. Exactly how many of those present at the Capitol complex on January 6 were FBI confidential informants, agents, or otherwise directly or indirectly with an agency of the United States government. People want to hear this."  

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot reached a deal with the teachers union so students can go back to school on Wednesday

Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot appears on 'Meet the Press.'
  • Students have been out of school in the Chicago Public Schools district for about a week. 
  • The city's teacher's union refused to teach in person as COVID-19 cases spiked. 
  • Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said a deal has been reached for in-person classes to resume on Wednesday.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she'd reached a deal with Chicago Teachers Union on Monday that would allow students to return to the classroom on Wednesday. 

Disputes over COVID-19 measures have resulted in about a week of canceled classes in the district, which is the third-largest in the country. 

The Chicago Teachers Union wanted to return to remote learning amid high COVID-19 cases and voted not to teach in person until there were new COVID-19 measures in place or case numbers decreased.

Lightfoot and the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Pedro Martinez, advocated for in-person learning. 

Instead of switching to remote learning, the school district canceled classes, which prompted some parents to sue the union. 

The Chicago Tribune reported that a part of the deal also includes a set of conditions where individual schools would return to remote learning based on the rate of staff absences and students in quarantine and isolation. The rate of community transmission would also be a factor in the decision. 

 

 

 

 

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