Political Musings June 12, 2013: National Security Agency’s dragnet classified data collection: National security necessity or Orwellian proportion privacy invasion?

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

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National Security Agency’s dragnet classified data collection: National security necessity or Orwellian proportion privacy invasion?

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program.

The Obama Administration can add a fourth burgeoning scandal to their second term woes. Last Wednesday June 5, 2013, the Washington Post and the London, UK paper the Guardian revealed the National Security Agency (NSA) along with FBI had been the monitoring all phone and internet records in the United States. The story took an added twist on Sunday, June 9 when Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor responsible for leaking documents from the surveillance program to the press came forward. Now the focus is on two fronts, the violations of rights to privacy in exchange for national security, and the legal fate of the whistleblower.

When the story broke, news headlines first focused on Verizon releasing information relating to all their customers landline and mobile phone calls because of a special and secretive court order.  The data collection focuses on the metadata; telephone numbers, call lengths, locations, and call frequency for all calls within the country and calls abroad dialed within the United States. There have been repeated assurances that the phone calls themselves were not recorded. However, the public was soon informed that the government’s collection was far broader and included internet and social media sites including Yahoo, Google and Facebook.

The administration has justified the data surveillance by stating it is important to national security and has thwarted terrorist attacks in the past. A White House official speaking to ABC News stated the program was “a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States,” but complies “with the Constitution and laws of the United States and appropriately protect privacy and civil liberties.”

The government position is that this revelation to the general public would hinder their ability to protect the public from terrorism.  Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper released a statement which an excerpt read “The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.”

President Barack Obama speaking in California on Friday, June 7 attempted to reassure the public that their phone calls were not being recorded, “Nobody is listening to your telephone calls. They are not looking at people’s names, and they’re not looking at content.  But by sifting through this so-called metadata, they may identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism,” Obama said.

The phone and internet surveillance program known as PRISM has popular support in Congress and there seems there might not be grand scale opposition in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. Chair of the Intelligence Committee Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-CA stated that the records collection was a part of the 2001 Patriot Act and said “It’s called protecting America…. I understand privacy…. we want to protect people’s private rights and that is why this is carefully done.”

President Obamas also made it clear on Friday that although the program was a secret to the public, but there was bipartisan support and knowledge of the data collection program from Congress. “The programs that have been discussed over the last couple days in the press are secret in the sense that they’re classified, but they’re not secret in the sense that when it comes to telephone calls, every member of Congress has been briefed on this program,” Obama stated.  The President continued “The relevant intelligence committees are fully briefed on these programs.  These are programs that have been authorized by broad, bipartisan majorities repeatedly since 2006.”

Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Republican agreed with Obama in an interview on Tuesday morning, June 11with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “He’s a traitor,” Boehner declared about Snowden’s press leak. Boehner continued; “The disclosure of this information puts Americans at risk.  It shows our adversaries what our capabilities are.  And it’s a giant violation of the law.”

Americans and human rights activists are left pondering can the widespread invasion of privacy sacrificed by the government be justified even for national security, even to prevent a widespread and catastrophic terror attack? The answer was no to Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who leaked the documents on the PRISM program on the widespread data collection and privacy intrusion.

Snowden first contacted the media in January getting the wheels in motions for the big reveal. Living and working in Hawaii, Snowden took sick leave from his job and then left for Hong Kong, where he was staying at the time the leaks about the NSA was made public last week up until the disclosure Sunday, June 9 that he was the whistleblower.

In his interview with the Guardian Snowden claimed; “I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”

As the US government looks into charging Snowden, he has been fired from his contracting job at Booz Allen, and the conversation has veered to countries that would give him asylum. Snowden supporters have created a petition on the White House’s We the People web site stating that “Edward Snowden is a national hero”  and are asking that there be a “full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed.” As of late Tuesday night, June 11 there are 58,299 signatures, with 41,701 needed for the 100,000 required for a review.

Human rights groups are standing firmly against the data collection, the head of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called the data collection program Orwellian. On Tuesday the ACLU filed a suit in federal court against the Obama Administration challenging the constitutionality of the data collection program.

If there is partisan support for the program there is also bipartisan opposition, former Vice President Al Gore a Democrat, wrote on Twitter “In digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?” While a Republican and Libertarian in Congress such as Senator Rand Paul said it “represents an outrageous abuse of power.”  “It is an extraordinary invasion of privacy…. I also believe that trolling through millions of phone records hampers the legitimate protection of our security,” Paul said on Fox News.

Despite the so-called broad bipartisan support, two bills have been introduced to curb data collection since details of the NSA programs appeared in the media. On Friday June 7, Senator Paul introduced a bill; the Fourth Amendment Restoration Act, which would make it necessary to obtain a warrant prior to a data search. On Tuesday June 11, eight senators in a bipartisan effort introduced a bill to end and declassify secretive data collection laws. The heavily democratic supported bill has among its ranks Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Republicans Mike Lee, Utah and Dean Heller, Nev.

At this time the public opinions seems more unclear, two conflicting polls released on Monday, June 10 from the Washington Post-Pew Research Center and Tuesday, June 11 from CBS News.

The Washington Post-Pew Research Center seems to find Americans looking favorably on the data collection. According to the poll 56 percent find it “acceptable,” and 41 percent find it “unacceptable” for the government to monitor phone data. When it came to expanding government monitoring internet activity the results differed; 52 percent did not believe it should be expanded versus 45 percent who support collection expansion.

According the CBS News poll 6 in 10 disapproved of the phone data collection program, however Americans strongly approve by three-quarters that terrorist suspects should be monitored and the internet data of foreigners. Still 53 to 40 percent believe this program helps discover terrorists.

Whatever the political fallout will be for the Obama administration and the legal outcome for Snowden there is no doubt that Snowden will be put down among the ranks of the major whistleblowers in American history.

Political Headlines June 16, 2011: Weinergate: Rep. Anthony Weiner Announces his Resignation after Sexting Scandal

POLITICAL HEADLINES

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

IN FOCUS: REP. ANTHONY ANNOUNCES HIS RESIGNATION AFTER SEXTING SCANDAL

Congressman Anthony Weiner announced his resignation Thursday after weeks of being embroiled in a scandal over lewd text messages.
Craig Warga/News

Congressman Anthony Weiner announced his resignation Thursday after weeks of being embroiled in a scandal over lewd text messages.

Rep. Anthony Weiner announces his resignation: Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) announced his resignation Thursday in Brooklyn, again apologizing for his actions. At a news conference where he was heckled by bystanders, he said “the distraction I have caused” had made it impossible for him to remain in office.
The news conference comes hours after a Democratic source claimed Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) plans to step down from his House seat Thursday after revelations of his lewd online exchanges with women.

Rep. Anthony Weiner Resignation Speech: “I’m here to apologize for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment that I have caused. I make this apology to my neighbors and my constituents, but I make it particularly to my wife, Huma…. I had hoped to be able to continue the work that the citizens of my district elected me to do, but the unfortunately, the distraction I created has made that impossible… Today I announce my resignation, so my colleagues can get back to work and my neighbors choose a new representative, and most importantly, that my wife and I can continue to heal from the damage that I have caused.”

  • PHOTOS: WEINER’S WOMEN: Anthony Weiner’s ‘sextual’ partners: PHOTOS Women of Weiner-Gate: Porn star, college student, single mom among his ‘sext’ pals.
    TIMELINE: THE RISE AND FALL OF WEINER
  • Weiner resigns in wake of sexting scandal: Embattled New York Rep. Anthony Weiner is resigning from Congress, saying he cannot continue in office amid the intense controversy surrounding sexually explicit messages he sent online to several women…. – AP, 6-16-11
  • Live blog: Rep. Anthony Weiner resigns: We live blogged Rep. Anthony Weiner’s resignation announcement. The New York Democrat has admitted he sent sexually explicit messages to women through Twitter and Facebook.
    Weiner spoke at the Council Center for Senior Citizens in Brooklyn, in the district he’s represented since 1998…. – USA Today, 6-16-11
  • Rep. Anthony Weiner resigns after online sex scandal: Embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner resigned today after admitting to sexually charged relationships with women on Facebook and Twitter.
    “Today I announce my resignation … so my colleagues can get back to work and my neighbors can choose a new representative,” the New York Democrat said, in brief remarks at a senior citizens center in Brooklyn.
    A Democratic source, who asked for anonymity, confirmed to USA TODAY that Weiner informed Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of his plans last night while she was attending the annual congressional picnic at the White House…. – USA Today, 6-16-11
  • Weiner Quits House Seat Over ‘Mistakes': Representative Anthony D. Weiner, an influential Democrat who had been considered a leading candidate to be the next mayor of New York City, said Thursday that he was resigning from Congress following revelations of lewd online exchanges with several women.
    “I’m here to apologize for the personal mistakes I have made and the embarrassment that I have caused,” Mr. Weiner said, adding that he had hoped to be able to continue serving his constituents. “Unfortunately,” he said, “the distraction I created has made that impossible.”
    Mr. Weiner announced his resignation in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, at a senior center where he announced his first campaign for City Council in 1991.
    On Wednesday night, Mr. Weiner called Representative Nancy Pelosi of California and Representative Steve Israel of New York while they were at a White House picnic to inform them he had decided to resign, a top Democratic official said.
    The news came as Democratic leaders prepared to hold a meeting on Thursday to discuss whether to strip the 46-year-old congressman of his committee assignments, a blow that would severely damage his effectiveness.
    Mr. Weiner began telling his most trusted advisers about his decision on Wednesday night by phone, informing them that it no longer seemed fair to his constituents and his colleagues for him to remain in office…. – NYT, 6-16-11
  • Anthony Weiner resigns: Disgraced congressman calls it quits over sexting scandal: Rep. Anthony Weiner finally stepped down Thursday after a three-week cybersex scandal that turned the once promising politician into a laughingstock.
    “I had hoped to be able to continue the work that the citizens of my district elected me to do,” Weiner said. “But the distraction that I have created has made that impossible.”
    Then Weiner said he was resigning his seat and in a sign of how low his stock had fallen in a district that reelected him handily several times, some in the crowd actually broke into cheers – and one man was heard yelling “bye-bye pervert.”
    Weiner paused for a moment and then finished his statement. It was an unusually terse statement from the normally loquacious liberal…. – NY Daily News, 6-16-11
  • Anthony Weiner resigns from Congress, apologizes for ‘embarrassment’ he caused: Anthony Weiner announced his resignation from Congress on Thursday, apologizing for the “embarrassment” his personal behavior caused to his family and colleagues.
    Standing without his wife but before a horde of media at a senior center in his Brooklyn district, Weiner said he had hoped to continue his work in the House but “unfortunately, the distraction that I created has made that impossible.”
    Resigning, Weiner said, will allow him to “continue to heal from the damage that I have caused.”
    Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, recently returned from overseas travel with her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. His Democratic colleagues have been steadily ramping up pressure on him to step down, and were prepared to take further action had he tried to stay on.
    Pandemonium erupted in the room as Weiner made his announcement, which lasted less than five minutes. “Bye-bye, pervert,” one man screamed as others showed support for Weiner…. – LAT, 6-16-11
  • Weiner’s colleagues say scandal isn’t the end of his career: As they absorbed news of his coming resignation, colleagues of Rep. Anthony Weiner expressed a mix of relief and regret at his stunning downfall Thursday.
    “It’s a loss,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.). “He could articulate the issues very well and dramatize them. Anytime you lose that kind of talent, of course it’s a loss.”
    “There is life after Congress for Anthony Weiner and I hope he devotes himself to repairing the damage he caused to his personal life,” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said in a statement…. – LAT, 6-16-11
  • Ami Eden: Weiner follies: OK, now that Anthony Weiner is closing the zipper on his congressional career and stepping down — it’s time to focus on his critics.
    Let’s start on the right.
    In the past few campaign cycles, a standard line from Jewish conservatives has been… liberals should learn to love conservatives because support for Israel is more important than abortion rights and a host of other domestic issues.
    Well… Weiner has been one of the hawkish supporters of Israel in the Democratic caucus. He’s a regular at the annual dinner of the Zionist Organization of America, often taking the stage to declare that he represents the “ZOA wing of the Democratic Party.” I’ve seen him adapt the line for other crowds — “I represent the CAMERA wing of the Democratic Party.”
    To be clear, ZOA — which has been a strong critics of U.S.-led diplomatic efforts, Israeli concessions and the idea that the current Palestinian leadership is a partner for peace — did not throw Weiner under the bus over Twitter-Gate. It’s president, Morton Klein, praised Weiner’s record and said his troubles represented a “terrible loss for the pro-Israel community.” But Republicans who talk about the importance supporting Israel, like GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, had no trouble saying it was time for Weiner to go.
    Of couse, after the scandal broke, it might be unrealistic to expect partisans to take a pass on the scandal, just because Weiner was, from their perspective, good in one area. But what about before the fact? Andrew Breitbart, the right-wing muckraking blogger who broke the story, was a featured speaker at a Republican Jewish Coalition gathering on Sunday in Los Angeles.
    It turns out that several RJC members also helped bankroll Breitbart:

    “My first event was held here,” he told the audience. “Not in this esteemed room, but in the bar downstairs.” Since then, Breitbart said, he’s had the chance to speak to RJC gatherings numerous times, and he acknowledged that he has financial backers from the ranks of the RJC. “What a lucrative alliance we’ve created,” Breitbart said.

    Hey, it’s a free country, and no one forced Weiner to live up to his name in so many different ways. But next time you hear a Jewish conservative talking about how Jewish liberals should put domestic concerns aside to worry more about Israel… just remember… a bunch of Jewish conservatives helped bring down one of Israel’s staunchest congressional defenders over these tweets.
    But liberals, wipe that self-satisifed smile off your face. How many times in the past 15 years have you ripped into Republicans for trying to impeach Bill Clinton over his sexual indiscretions and lying under oath. Somehow all these Democratic leaders who have spent years painting Ken Starr and the congressional GOPers as waging a puratanical crusade against the will of the people took just a few days to conclude that Weiner had to go.
    Weiner sent tweets to young women, Clinton had an actual affair with his intern.
    Weiner lied to the press, Clinton lied under oath.
    Weiner lied for a few days, Clinton lied and roped his Cabinet into the lies for about eight months.
    Why exactly did Weiner have to go, but Bubba had to stay?
    OK, OK. That’s politics. But, still. – JTA, 6-16-11

Anthony Weiner announces his resignation from Congress in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Anthony Weiner announces his resignation from Congress in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Justin Lane / EPA)

Political Buzz June 6, 2011: Weinergate: Rep. Anthony Weiner Sexting Scandal

POLITICAL BUZZ

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

IN FOCUS: WEINERGATE: REP. ANTHONY WEINER SEXTING SCANDAL

US Congressman Anthony Weiner speaks to the media in New York, Monday. Representative Anthony Weiner admitted to sending a lewd photo of himself to a 21-year-old female college student over his Twitter account after previously denying he had done so.

NY Democrat acknowledged ‘inappropriate’ online conduct, had insisted he has no plans to resign: Weiner spokeswoman Risa Heller said Saturday afternoon that the congressman “departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person.”
She added that he would request “a short leave of absence from the House” after which he would make a decision on his political future.

Pelosi and Other Leaders Call On Weiner to Resign: The move by the House Democratic leader underscored Democrats’ growing concern about Representative Anthony D. Weiner’s online exchanges with women.

Rep. Anthony Weiner admits sending lewd Twitter picture of himself: Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) acknowledged Monday that he tweeted the lewd picture that has been at the center of a controversy since it surfaced a week ago, and he said the image was of him. “It was something that I did that was just wrong and I regret it,” he said. He apologized and said he is not resigning.

  • Timeline of Rep. Weiner’s online sex scandalWatertown Daily News, 6-11-11
  • Timeline: From a Photo to an Apology (June 7, 2011)NYTREP. ANTHONY WEINER, D-N.Y.:
    Last Friday night, I tweeted a photograph of myself that I intended to send as a direct message as part of a joke to a woman in Seattle.
    Once I realized I had posted it to Twitter, I panicked. I took it down, and said that I had been hacked. I then continued with that story, to stick to that story, which was a usually regrettable mistake.
    To be clear, the picture was of me, and I sent it. I am deeply sorry for the pain this has caused my wife, Huma, and our family and my constituents, my friends, supporters, and staff.
    In addition, over the past few years, I have engaged in several inappropriate conversations conducted over Twitter, Facebook, email, and occasionally on the phone with women I have met online. I have exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years.
    For the most part, these relations — these communications took place before my marriage, though some have, sadly, took place after. To be clear, I have never met any of these women or had physical relationships at any time.
    I am deeply regret — regretting what I have done, and I am not resigning.
    I have made it clear that I accept responsibility for this, and people who draw conclusions about me are free to do so. I have worked for the people of my district for 13 years and in politics for 20 years. And I hope that they see fit to see in the light that it is, which is a deeply regrettable mistake.
    For my use of Twitter, I mean, it’s not — it’s something that I found useful. And Facebook is a way to get out the message. But I — I certainly wouldn’t obviously do the things that I have done that — that led me — that led me — that led me to this place.
  • Poll backs Weiner vow not to quit: Under growing pressure to quit, Rep. Anthony Weiner insisted again Thursday that he won’t resign, and a new poll showed a majority of voters in his district agreed he should stay in office.
    A new Marist poll released Thursday found 56 percent of registered voters in his 9th Congressional District in Queens and Brooklyn don’t think he should quit over revelations of his salacious social-media life. But the poll also included troubling news for Weiner: Only 30 percent said they definitely would vote for him again…. – Seattle Times, 6-9-11
  • Weiner to Enter Treatment Center and Seek Leave From House: Representative Anthony D. Weiner planned to check himself into a treatment center on Saturday after House Democratic leaders, including Nancy Pelosi, called on him to resign and suggested he needed psychiatric counseling.
    A spokeswoman for Mr. Weiner said he would request a leave of absence from the House and seek treatment, but provided no further details. “Congressman Weiner departed this morning to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person,” said the spokeswoman, Risa Heller. “In light of that, he will request a short leave of absence from the House of Representatives so that he can get evaluated and map out a course of treatment to make himself well. “Congressman Weiner takes the views of his colleagues very seriously and has determined that he needs this time to get healthy and make the best decision possible for himself, his family and his constituents.”
    Ms. Pelosi, the minority leader, was joined in her call for Mr. Weiner to step down by other leading Democrats, including the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida; and the leader of the House Democrats’ re-election efforts, Representative Steve J. Israel of New York. Their calls underscored the growing concern that his online exchanges with women had become a distraction for the party. “Congressman Weiner has the love of his family, the confidence of his constituents, and the recognition that he needs help,” Ms. Pelosi said in a statement. “I urge Congressman Weiner to seek that help without the pressures of being a member of Congress.”
    Ms. Wasserman Schultz called Mr. Weiner’s online exchanges a “sordid affair” that had become an “unacceptable distraction” for the congressman, his constituents and the House. “The behavior he has exhibited is indefensible and Rep. Weiner’s continued service in Congress is untenable,” Ms. Wasserman Schultz said…. – NYT, 6-11-11
  • Abandoned by party leaders, how long can Anthony Weiner hang on?: In a major blow to Rep. Anthony Weiner’s attempt to hold onto his job in the wake of a “sexting” scandal, three top Democratic leaders Saturday told the embattled New York congressman that he has to go…. – CS Monitor, 6-11-11
  • Rep. Anthony Weiner Could Face Trouble For Interacting With 17-Year-Old: A 17-year-old high school student went to a Delaware Police Station Friday with her laptop and cell phone to help authorities analyze the conversations made between her and New York Rep. Anthony Weiner.
    According to Fox News, the girl’s mother said her daughter told her that none of the messages between her and Weiner were inappropriate.
    The Philadelphia Inquirer also reported Friday that Daniel P. McElhatton, who represents the high school student’s family, issued a statement saying: “The ‘Tweets’ in question between the student in question and the Congressman were not salacious or in any manner inappropriate. No photographers were ever sent to her or from her.”… – Neon Tommy (USC), 6-10-11
  • Weiner’s Fifth Sexting Partner Revealed: The fifth woman in the Weinergate scandal has been identified as Traci Nobles, a Pilates and Zumba instructor who repeatedly referred to the Rep. Anthony Weiner’s genitalia in their online chats, the New York Post reported Friday….
    The other women who have come forward are Meagan Broussard, a 26-year-old single mother, Lisa Weiss, a 40-year-old Las Vegas blackjack dealer, and porn star Ginger Lee…. – Fox News, 6-10-11
  • Congressman Anthony Weiner: Why Democrats are extra mad at him: Congressman Weiner faces some steep political fallout – in addition to any personal consequences – after admitting to ‘regrettable’ interactions with several women other than his wife…. – CS Monitor, 6-7-11
  • Huma Abedin, Rep. Anthony Weiner’s wife: Abedin, 34, is a longtime top aide to Hillary Rodham Clinton. She usually stays out of the limelight, in contrast to her headline-grabbing husband, who has been an outspoken Democrat on Capitol Hill…. – WaPo, 6-7-11
  • Report: Rep. Weiner’s wife is pregnant: Huma Abedin, the wife of embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner, is pregnant with the couple’s first child, according to The New York Times.
    The newspaper, citing “three people with knowledge of the situation,” said the couple has disclosed the pregnancy to close friends and family.
    The revelation tops a wild day in which key Democrats have called on Weiner to resign. After days of denials, the New York congressman admitted Monday that he sent a lewd, crotch-level photo of himself to a Seattle woman. He also said he had “inappropriate” relationships with women on Facebook and Twitter.
    Weiner has said he will not resign. During his sometimes-tearful news conference, Weiner also said he and his wife — an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton — have no plans to split up. They got married in July 2010.
    His Democratic colleagues are starting to show their impatience. Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania, who recruits Democratic candidates to run for office, said Weiner has lost his credibility.
    “Having the respect of your constituents is fundamental for a member of Congress. In light of Anthony Weiner’s offensive behavior online, he should resign,” Schwartz, a top lieutenant of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement…. – USA Today, 6-8-11
  • Weiner’s Wife Is Pregnant: Their marriage has become the subject of intense speculation and scrutiny amid an embarrassing online sex scandal.
    Now, Representative Anthony D. Weiner and Huma Abedin are about to make news of a different kind: they are expecting their first child.
    Ms. Abedin, 35, is in the early stages of pregnancy, according to three people with knowledge of the situation…. – NYT, 6-8-11
  • Huma Abedin, Rep. Anthony Weiner’s unflappable wife: Huma Abedin, the wife of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), has for years drawn notice in Washington. In a town that demands conservative conformity, she has been seen as a high-powered professional with exotic beauty and a closet full of Prada suits and heels.
    Now, with her husband’s admission of sexually explicit Internet and phone exchanges with several women, Abedin, 35, joins a more pedestrian group — the wives of wayward and powerful husbands. And her dilemma may be even greater than previously thought after the New York Times reported late Wednesday that the senior State Department aide is pregnant with the couple’s first child. The Times said that Abedin, who is very close to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, was in the early stages of pregnancy when the Weiner scandal unfolded. Abedin left Wednesday for a trip to Northern Africa with Clinton. A person close to the Clinton family confirmed the pregnancy to The Post on Wednesday.
    When asked directly about the development late Wednesday, State Department official Philippe Reines, e-mailed from the Clinton trip in Abu Dhabi: “no comment.”… – WaPo, 6-7-11
  • Online Flirtation With Weiner Started With One Word: Meagan Broussard, a 26-year-old Texan, came to Representative Anthony D. Weiner’s attention when she posted a single word on his Facebook page: “Hottttt.” But, she says, it was the New York congressman who turned up the heat.
    In an interview broadcast Tuesday morning on “Good Morning America,” Ms. Broussard said it was Mr. Weiner who quickly initiated a conversation via instant messaging, Mr. Weiner who moved that conversation in a sexual direction and Mr. Weiner who sent racy photos. “It wasn’t like I was chasing him, at all,” she said.
    Ms. Broussard said she first wrote on Mr. Weiner’s Facebook page in April, after being impressed by a speech she saw on the Internet, delivered by Mr. Weiner, who until last week had best been known for his fiery liberal speech. “He sent me a friend request the same day,” Ms. Broussard said. “I just thought, that’s weird.”
    Ms. Broussard, in the first on-the-record mainstream media interview offering a window into how Mr. Weiner entered into at least six sexually explicit online relationships with women he met via Facebook, said her online exchange with the congressman started simply enough. The congressman, she said, was “asking about Texas, that sort of thing, just joking back and forth.”… – NYT, 6-8-11
  • Weiner exchanges ‘didn’t make sense’ Student’s story fits online pattern: Gennette Cordova said she did not even think the photo was real. It was nearly 9 p.m. on a Friday when Cordova, who was preparing to head out for the night with a friend, logged onto Twitter and discovered that Representative Anthony D. Weiner had sent her a suggestive photo of himself in gray boxer briefs.
    “It didn’t make any sense,” Cordova, a 21-year-old college student in northwestern Washington state, said in her first extensive interview since Weiner confessed in a news conference Monday to sending her the photo. “I figured it must have been a fake.”
    Cordova’s experience with Weiner appears to fit a pattern: In rapid and reckless fashion, he sought to transform informal online conversations about politics and policy into sexually charged exchanges, often laced with racy language and explicit images.
    Cordova, who had text-messaged with Weiner, a New York Democrat, about their shared concern over his conservative critics, said she had never sent Weiner anything provocative. Asked if she was taken aback by Weiner’s decision to send the photo, she said, “Oh gosh, yes.”
    Cordova spoke to The New York Times as Weiner faced intensifying calls for his resignation because of his acknowledged online sexual communications with at least six women over a period of three years. Yesterday, House leaders began a concerted effort to persuade him to step down, as another of his missives, more explicit in nature, surfaced and word went out that his wife, Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, is pregnant…. – Boston Globe, 6-8-11
  • Weiner’s downfall a reminder of perils of Jewish pride: He was supposed to be one of Congress’ rising stars, a Jewish boy from Brooklyn with great ambition and promise.
    A truculent Democrat with a penchant for media attention, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) was an unabashed liberal on domestic affairs and a hard-liner on foreign policy, particularly Israel. Like his predecessor in his U.S. House of Representatives seat, Sen. Charles Schumer, Weiner had larger ambitions — in his case, mayor of New York City.
    But then came his shamefaced news conference Monday, when the 46-year-old congressman, who was married last year, admitted to lying about sending a lewd photo to a woman he met on the internet…. – JTA, 6-7-11
  • Weiner should resign, Cantor says: Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the U.S. House of Representatives majority leader, called on Congressman Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) to resign.
    “I don’t condone his activity. And I think he should resign,” Cantor said Tuesday after a Chamber of Commerce luncheon, the Charlottesville Daily Progress reported.
    “We’ve got a lot of serious challenges in this country and a lot of work for Congress to do,” Cantor said. “The last thing we need to do is get enmeshed in a discussion about Congressman Weiner and his Twitter activities.”… – JTA, 6-7-11
  • Anthony Weiner: Jon Stewart Says Congressman’s Confession Is ‘Killing Me’: “This is the weirdest f—ing story I’ve ever seen in my life — or the greatest episode of ‘Maury’ ever,” the “Daily Show” host quips of Andrew Breitbart’s press conference interruption…. – Hollywood Reporter, 6-7-11
  • Weiner Constituents Grapple With ‘Juvenile’ Behavior: Fierce advocate for heavily Jewish district on the ropes after admitting lies and lewd tweeting…. – The Jewish Week, 6-7-11
  • Weiner silent as few colleagues defend him: With pressure increasing from colleagues on both sides of the aisle, embattled Rep. Anthony Weiner fell uncharacteristically silent Tuesday: no news conferences, no cable television appearances and certainly no Twitter posts.
    One day after admitting he had sent sexually charged messages via Twitter and Facebook to half a dozen women over three years — and then lying about it when evidence surfaced last week — the New York Democrat found few friends on Capitol Hill.
    His party’s leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, formally referred his case to the Ethics Committee. Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Weiner should resign. And when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was asked what he would tell the congressman if Weiner called seeking advice, he replied, “Call somebody else.”
    Nevertheless, even Weiner’s critics suggested the decision on his fate was up to the congressman and his Brooklyn and Queens constituency…. – USA Today, 6-8-11
  • Anthony Weiner explained self to Bill Clinton: Rep. Anthony Weiner explained himself and apologized for his conduct to Bill Clinton, who officiated his wedding to wife Huma Abedin, sources familiar with the call said.
    Weiner made the call within the past 48 hours. It took place following his emotional press conference Monday in New York City, where he admitted that he had posted a lewd photo of himself to Twitter 10 days earlier, the sources said…. – Politco, 6-7-11
  • Weiner admits he sent lewd picture; won’t quit: After days of denials, a choked-up Rep. Anthony Weiner confessed Monday that he tweeted a photo of his bulging underpants to a young woman, and he also admitted to “inappropriate” exchanges with six women before and after he got married. He apologized for lying but said he would not resign.
    “This was me doing a dumb thing and doing it repeatedly and lying about it,” the 46-year-old New York Democrat said after a week of double-entendre headlines and late-night wisecracks full of Weiner jokes.
    House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi immediately called for an ethics committee investigation into whether Weiner broke House rules…. – AP, 6-6-11
  • Weiner Admits He Sent Lewd Photos; Vows Not to Resign: Representative Anthony D. Weiner, a rising star in Democratic politics who has long aspired to be mayor of New York City, admitted on Monday to having inappropriate online exchanges with at least six women, and repeatedly lying about his role in sending a sexually suggestive photograph to a young woman over Twitter last month.
    An image of Representative Anthony D. Weiner, one of several posted on Andrew Breitbart’s Web site, BigGovernment.com.
    After a week of sometimes indignant public denials and insistence that he was the victim of an Internet hacker, a weeping and stammering Mr. Weiner, 46, acknowledged at a news conference that he had sent the photo of himself in his underwear to the woman in Seattle.
    The six-term congressman from Brooklyn insisted that he had broken no laws and vowed to remain in office, calling the matter an “aberration from which I’ve learned.”
    During an extraordinary 27-minute appearance, the congressman went on to describe a side of his life that he had kept secret from his closest confidants and family members, in which he befriended young female admirers over the Internet and engaged in intimate sexual banter with them. “Over the past few years, I have engaged in several inappropriate conversations conducted over Twitter, Facebook, e-mail and occasionally on the phone with women I had met online,” Mr. Weiner said.
    Mr. Weiner said he had never met the women with whom he corresponded in person and added: “I don’t know what I was thinking. This was a destructive thing to do. I’m apologetic for doing it.”
    But Mr. Weiner’s political standing appeared in grave danger after his news conference. There was a striking absence of any public expressions of support from his colleagues, and the House Democratic leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi, called for an ethics investigation into Mr. Weiner’s conduct. “I am deeply disappointed and saddened about this situation,” she said.
    House ethics rules state that members should conduct themselves “at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”… – NYT, 6-6-11
  • Weiner Says He Sent Photos and Lied, But Won’t Resign: At a news conference in Midtown Monday afternoon, Representative Anthony D. Weiner tearfully confessed to sending a photo of himself in his underwear to a woman via Twitter and then lying about it.
    Mr. Weiner said the indiscretion was part of a pattern of sending inappropriate and at times explicit photos and messages to women he met over the Internet.
    Mr. Weiner, 46, a popular and brash Democrat from Queens who has been considering a run for mayor of New York City and is known for aggressive and sometimes intemperate political commentary on Twitter, apologized repeatedly.
    “I have made terrible mistakes that have hurt the people I care about the most and I’m deeply sorry,” Mr. Weiner said. “I have not been honest with myself, my family, my constituents, my friends and supporters and the media.”
    He said he had no intention of resigning, that he had broken no laws and that while his wife “made it clear that she thought that what I did was very dumb,” his marriage was not ending. He said he never met any of the women.
    After Mr. Weiner’s appearance, the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, called for an ethics investigation of her Democratic colleague to see if he broke any House rules. Mr. Weiner responded that he would “fully cooperate” with it.
    Mr. Weiner’s speech and question-and-answer session was the culmination (so far) of a drama that began over Memorial Day weekend when the conservative blog BigGovernment.com published a close-up of a man in underwear that appeared to have gone out over Mr. Weiner’s Twitter account to the attention of a woman in Seattle. Mr. Weiner had maintained ever since that he had not sent the photograph, though he said he could not be certain whether he was the person in it.
    On Monday, though, BigGovernment.com published a series of embarrassing photos of Mr. Weiner that it said he had sent to another woman last month, prompting Mr. Weiner to call a 4 p.m. news conference at the Sheraton hotel in Midtown…. – NYT, 6-6-11
  • Rep. Weiner confesses ‘terrible mistakes.’ Did he save his career?: After a week of dodging questions, Rep. Weiner says he sent a lewd photo of himself and lied about it. Nancy Pelosi calls for a federal investigation. Will voters forgive him?… -
    Saying he had made “terrible mistakes” and had lied about it, Rep. Anthony Weiner finally came clean.
    After a week of dodging questions over whether he had sent a lewd photo of himself to a coed in Seattle, the grim faced congressman admitted that and more at a press conference Monday in New York City.
    He admitted he sent photos and had on-line chats – even intimate phone calls – with at least six women over the last three years. He termed his own behavior “destructive,” especially since he continued the practice of communicating with women and sending them risky – even nude – photos, even after he was married…. – CS Monitor, 6-6-11
  • Rep. Anthony Weiner admits sending lewd photos: Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., held a news conference in New York Monday afternoon. He said he lied last week when he claimed that his Twitter account had been hacked by someone who sent photos of a man’s underwear-clad crotch to a young woman in Seattle. At the time, he said he could not say “with certitude” whether the photo was of him…. – USA Today, 6-6-11
  • Rep. Weiner admits tweeting lewd photo of himself: In an extraordinary reversal at an extraordinary news conference, Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York admitted Monday afternoon that he had repeatedly lied to his constituents and the country in denying that he had sent a lewd picture of himself to a college-age woman on Twitter. In a tearful admission, he said that he had in fact sent multiple inappropriate messages to multiple women but that he had done nothing illegal and would not resign.
    “The picture was of me, and I sent it,” said Weiner (D), who called it “a very dumb thing to do,” “a hugely regrettable mistake” and “destructive.” “I am deeply ashamed,” said Weiner, his jaw clenched.
    Soon after Weiner finished speaking, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who he said had urged him to tell the whole truth, called on the House ethics committee to conduct an investigation into his case…. – WaPo, 6-6-11
  • Breitbart publishes alleged photos of Anthony Weiner: Rep. Anthony Weiner is set to to hold a 4 p.m. news conference on Monday after two Web sites run by conservative activists posted stories claiming the lawmaker sent a shirtless photo of himself to a young woman.
    The photo, which has not been independently verified by Weiner or other news organizations, could raise a new problem for the New York Democrat, who gave a muddled account last week in explaining how a photo of a man’s crotch was sent under his Twitter account to a young woman in Washington state.
    At a dramatic Manhattan news conference, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said he won’t resign despite taking and sending lewd pictures to women. (June 6)
    The new photo shows the bare torso and part of the face of a man resembling Weiner. The websites BigGovernment.com and BigJournalism.com, both of which are run by conservative Andrew Breitbart, posted the photo this morning and said they came from a young woman who got them from Weiner. The websites didn’t identify the woman.
    The photograph is reminiscent of one sent by Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) to a young woman in the Washington area via the “personals” category on Craigslist.com. Lee resigned shortly after the photo became public…. – WaPo, 6-6-11
  • Rep. Anthony Weiner: ‘The Picture Was of Me and I Sent It’: Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York said today he has engaged in “several inappropriate” electronic relationships with six women over three years, and that he publicly lied about a photo of himself sent over Twitter to a college student in Seattle over a week ago.
    “I take full responsibility for my actions,” Weiner said. “The picture was of me, and I sent it.”
    The announcement came as ABC News prepared to release an interview with Meagan Broussard, a 26-year-old single mother from Texas who provided dozens of photos, emails, Facebook messages and cell phone call logs that she says chronicle a sexually-charged electronic relationship with Weiner that rapidly-evolved for more than a month, starting on April 20, 2011.
    ABC News reached out to Weiner earlier today for comment about his possible ties to Broussard, but he did not respond to requests for an interview. At a press conference later, Weiner confirmed Broussard was one of the women with whom he sexted…. – ABC News, 6-6-11View an exclusive slideshow of images obtained by ABC News.
  • Web Site Posts Image Said to Be of Bare-Chested Weiner: A conservative blog published a series of embarrassing photographs and e-mails on Monday that it claimed had been sent by Representative Anthony D. Weiner to an unidentified woman over the last few weeks.
    The blogger, Andrew Breitbart, said he had obtained the photos and messages from the woman, but did not describe either her or her connection to Mr. Weiner, who is married.
    The photos, posted throughout the day on BigGovernment.com, apparently depict Mr. Weiner barechested and sitting at his computer and show him lounging on a couch in a T-shirt, with two cats at his side.
    Mr. Breitbart said the photos were sent last month, on May 4, 5 and 20.
    Mr. Breitbart, a provocative scourge of the political left, said in an interview that he knows who the woman is and that she would be stepping forward shortly to explain how she came into possession of the photos.
    “You’re going to know who this person is by tomorrow,” Mr. Breitbart said. “She is going to come out of her anonymity in a very short time. She will be coming forward to communicate the means by which she received these photos. I think it will be clear that she is telling the truth.”
    An ABC News employee said that the network has conducted an interview with a woman, who says she received the photos from Mr. Weiner, evidently the same photos Mr. Breitbart obtained.
    As of this afternoon, the network was determining when it would broadcast the interview.
    Mr. Weiner is expected to address the news media at 4 p.m. at a Midtown Manhattan, breaking several days of silence.
    Two people close to Mr. Weiner said he would not resign on Monday, but rather express some responsibility for his actions…. – NYT, 6-6-11Big Government Photos
  • Anthony Weiner: How Twitter’s features tripped him upCS Monitor, 6-6-11
  • Anthony Weiner: Were his dreams of being mayor just Twittered away?CS Monitor, 6-2-11
  • Weiner Admits to Sending Lewd Photos, Faces Call for Ethics Investigation: Rep. Anthony Weiner, D – N.Y., went before cameras Monday to admit to sending sexually explicit photos and messages to several different women. Jeffrey Brown discusses the scandal with NewsHour Political Editor David Chalian. … – PBS Newshour, 6-6-11
  • Twitter scandal: a mess for Anthony Weiner, a lesson for CongressCS Monitor, 6-1-11
  • Why Weiner’s no-sex scandal has him hanging by a thread: It never gets old. The political sex scandal occupies such an integral place in the American experience that it should get a wing of its own at the Smithsonian.
    The past month has been particularly fecund in revelations of gasp-worthy behaviour by the power elite. Dominique Strauss-Kahn (allegedly) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (definitively) became examples of foreign-born bigwigs whose reputations were soiled on U.S. soil.
    U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner, D-NY, wipes his eye during a news conference in New York where he admitted that he tweeted a bulging-underpants photo of himself to a young woman. Richard Drew/AP
    Then new details of John Edwards’s shameless duplicity emerged in his six-count indictment last week on charges of violating campaign finance laws to hide the affair he was having during his last presidential run.
    New York congressman Anthony Weiner, perhaps proving that one’s patronymic is destiny after all, is the latest to join the bad boys’ club.
    There’s only one problem with this so-called sex scandal, however. Apparently, there was no sex. Unlike Mr. Edwards and Mr. Schwarzenegger, the newlywed Mr. Weiner did not get physical with any of the six women to whom he has admitted sending sexually suggestive photos of himself and talking (lewdly, one presumes) on the phone. He never even met them in person.
    “In an era where we are more and more tolerant and less and less embarrassed by various sexual content – we see more of it on TV and are more explicit about it in our daily conversations – we’re making scandals of things that wouldn’t even have been that scandalous in the Victorian era,” Robert Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, remarked in an interview…. – Globe and Mail, 6-8-11
  • Julian E. Zelizer: Surviving sex scandals: Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) has been at the center of a major scandal ever since the conservative web mogul Andrew Breitbart revealed that the congressman’s Twitter account was a little more interesting than most. As details about Weiner’s tweets and Facebook chats became public, along with photos of naked body parts, the congressman made a profuse public apology.
    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for an ethics investigation less than five minutes after he spoke. A growing number of legislators are now demanding that Weiner resign.
    Though the pressure has intensified, Weiner insists he is staying in office. A new poll supports his decision — revealing that more than 60 percent of his constituents believe he should not resign…. – Politico, 6-10-11
  • History shows Weiner could persevere past scandal: If he manages to keep his seat in Congress, Anthony Weiner would join a handful of political figures who survived what initially looked like a career-ending debacle.
    And even if the experiences of the likes of Bill Clinton, Barney Frank, David Vitter and others weren’t enough, a new poll points to a forgiving constituency.
    Both factors point to what observers call a truism in the fast-paced world of seamy gossip and online revelations — the first few days after a politician comes clean are invariably the worst.
    “By sitting tight, most of the politicians were able to stay in office,” said Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “In general, voters are interested in these sex scandals, but they are not willing to kick their senators or representatives out of office.”… – AP, 6-11-11
  • Rabbi Joshua Hammerman: Jewish Ethics and Anthony Weiner’s Very Bad Week: Q – Does Rep. Weiner’s admitted act of sending out explicit photos of himself disqualify him from public office? Is this a new form of adultery? Given the fact that “sexting” is so common these days among young people, will it become a political albatross comparable to pot smoking for aspiring pols who came of age in the ’60s? After all, isn’t this just a byproduct of the Internet revolution in the way that drug use was the byproduct of the counter culture? Eventually, won’t the culture simply catch up to these new freedoms and no one will care that he did this?
    A – I see what you are getting it. “I took the photo but did not send it” comes perilously close to “I didn’t inhale.” And now, having inhaled pot in one’s youth does not even raise an eyebrow, much less disqualify one from office, as President Obama has proven. So will the same be said for “sexting” a few years from now?
    I doubt it, at least in the case of Rep. Wiener. Politicians may get a pass for other recklessness, but our tolerance for sexual indiscretion while in office has been decreasing with each shocking new revelation…. – The NY Jewish Week, 6-9-11

Political Headlines June 3, 2011: John Edwards Indicted by Grand Jury for Misappropriating Campaign Funds

POLITICAL HEADLINES

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

IN FOCUS: JOHN EDWARDS INDICTED

Jennifer Rotenizer/Winston-Salem Journal, via Associated Press

John Edwards enters the Federal Building in downtown Winston-Salem, N.C. on Friday. A grand jury indicted the two-time presidential candidate, accusing him of trying to protect his political ambitions by soliciting and secretly spending more than $925,000 to hide his mistress and their baby from the public.

Grand jury indicts former presidential candidate John Edwards: A federal grand jury has indicted two-time presidential candidate John Edwards over massive sums of money spent to keep his mistress in hiding during the peak of his 2008 campaign for the White House. The case of USA v. Johnny Reid Edwards contains six counts, including conspiracy, four counts of illegal campaign contributions and one count of false statements. The indictment was returned in the Middle District of North Carolina on Friday.

  • U.S. v. Johnny Reid Edwards indictment: The charges Conspiracy: John Edwards faces one conspiracy count, with prosecutors arguing that he participated in a scheme to violate federal campaign-finance laws by using $925,000 in private money from two wealthy benefactors to help keep his pregnant mistress and love child a secret.
    Illegal campaign contributions: Prosecutors filed four charges of illegal campaign contributions against Edwards, saying he was part of a conspiracy that willfully and knowingly accepted contributions that exceeded federal limits. The four charges are nearly identical, referencing contributions Edwards received in 2007 and 2008 from his former campaign-finance chairman, Fred Baron, and Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, the widow of banking heir Paul Mellon.
    False statements: The indictment includes one count of false statements, saying that the conspiracy Edwards participated in knowingly allowed the filing of false and deceptive campaign-finance reports that failed to disclose the illegal contributions from Baron and Mellon. Document: The full indictment against John Edwards
  • Public vs. private: Long an issue for John Edwards: The legal case against two-time presidential candidate John Edwards focuses on where to draw the line between the public and private in a politician’s life, a divide he riskily straddled throughout his entire career and family life.
    Edwards isn’t alone. The private activities and concerns of public officials increasingly seem to be pulled or pushed into the public arena. Is that Rep. Anthony Weiner modeling his underwear? Donald Trump and Sarah Palin use a knife and fork to eat pizza! Which school did President Barack Obama pick to go all the way in college hoops?
    These things don’t reveal much about their qualifications to lead, yet they fascinate Americans…. – AP, 6-5-11
  • Feds say Edwards hid mistress to aid campaign: In May 2007, as John Edwards endured ridicule for his $400 haircut, a wealthy supporter fired off a note to a campaign aide, vowing to privately pay for his hair care and other expenses important to his candidacy.
    “It is a way to help our friend without government restrictions,” Bunny Mellon wrote in a letter cited by federal prosecutors.
    Investigators believe there should have been restrictions on the $925,000 in under-the-table money that Mellon and another benefactor ended up providing to support Edwards. It’s key to the government’s contention that the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee broke the law in hiding his pregnant mistress during the final months of his 2008 campaign for the White House. Prosecutors contend that plan was an illegal conspiracy to evade campaign finance laws…. – AP, 6-4-11
  • Edwards Indicted in Campaign Fund Case: John Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina and presidential candidate, was indicted Friday morning by a grand jury in Raleigh on charges that he violated campaign finance law during his 2008 presidential campaign.
    Mr. Edwards is scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court in Winston-Salem, N.C., at 2:30 p.m. before Magistrate Judge Patrick Auld.
    The grand jury, which has been investigating the case for two years, indicted Mr. Edwards on six counts — four involving illegal payments, one involving conspiracy and one involving false statements. “Mr. Edwards is alleged to have accepted more than $900,000 in an effort to conceal from the public facts that he believed would harm his candidacy,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said in a statement. “As this indictment shows, we will not permit candidates for high office to abuse their special ability to access the coffers of their political supporters to circumvent our election laws.”
    At issue are financial contributions that prosecutors say Mr. Edwards received in excess of federal limits, did not report properly and then misused for the political purpose of hiding his extramarital affair to save his candidacy. Mr. Edwards, 57, has maintained that he used the money to hide the affair, but for private purposes — to conceal it from his wife.
    Mr. Edwards had a chance to reach a plea agreement and avoid the indictment, but he chose not to do so and will fight the charges, his lawyers said.
    The decision to fight could lead to a long, messy, public trial and possible jail sentence for Mr. Edwards, or it could lead to his acquittal.
    The decision to risk a trial reflects confidence by some on the Edwards legal team that the government’s case would not hold up in court…. – NYT, 6-3-11
  • Edwards Pleads Not Guilty in Campaign Fund Case: John Edwards, the former Democratic senator from North Carolina, pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he conspired to cover up an extramarital affair while running for president in 2008 by “secretly obtaining,” misusing and misreporting certain campaign contributions in violation of federal law.
    He entered his plea at the federal courthouse in Winston-Salem on Friday afternoon, setting the stage for a trial to begin July 11. When the judge read him his list of rights, including the right to remain silent, Mr. Edwards, who was the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004 and twice a candidate for president, said: “Your honor, I’m an attorney. I’m aware of that.”
    Later, outside the courthouse, Mr. Edwards told reporters he had behaved badly but insisted he had not committed a crime.
    “I will regret for the rest of my life the pain and the harm that I’ve caused to others,” he said. “But I did not break the law. And I never, ever thought that I was breaking the law.”
    The indictment handed up earlier Friday in Greensboro charged that Mr. Edwards, 57, conspired to use illegal campaign contributions to conceal his affair with his mistress for political reasons…. – NYT, 6-3-11
  • Edwards pleads not guilty to finance charges in NC: Former presidential hopeful John Edwards pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges that he solicited and secretly spent more than $925,000 to hide his mistress and their baby from the public at the height of his 2008 White House campaign.
    In a 30-second statement to dozens of reporters and television news cameras that surrounded him outside the courthouse, he said he never thought he was breaking the law.
    “There is no question that I have done wrong,” he said. “And I take full responsibility for having done wrong. And I will regret for the rest of my life the pain and the harm that I have caused to others. But I did not break the law.”
    Edwards did not have to post bond, but he had to surrender his passport and is not allowed to leave the continental U.S. He also can’t have contact with one of the wealthy benefactors who gave him money that prosecutors say was used to hide the affair.
    The indictment contained six felony counts, including conspiracy, four counts of receiving illegal campaign contributions and one count of false statements for keeping the spending off the campaign’s public finance reports.
    It said the payments made with money from two wealthy supporters were a scheme to protect Edwards’ presidential ambitions.
    “A centerpiece of Edwards’ candidacy was his public image as a devoted family man,” the indictment said. “Edwards knew that public revelation of the affair and the pregnancy would destroy his candidacy.
    Prosecutors said the spending was illegal because the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee should have reported it on public campaign finance filings and because it exceeded the $2,300 limit per person for campaign contributions.
    Edwards’ lawyer, Gregory Craig, said there’s no way that anyone, including Edwards, would have known that the payments should be treated as campaign contributions.
    “This is an unprecedented prosecution,” he said at the courthouse. “He has broken no law and we will defend this case vigorously.”… – AP, 6-3-11
  • John Edwards indicted in $925K mistress cover-up: John Edwards acknowledged he has “done wrong” and hurt others but denied breaking the law after federal prosecutors charged him Friday with using $925,000 to hide his pregnant mistress during his 2008 run for president.
    The former U.S. senator and two-time Democratic presidential hopeful was indicted on six felony charges that he violated campaign-finance laws in a desperate bid to protect his White House hopes and his image as a devoted family man.
    Edwards, 57, pleaded not guilty and was released without bail on the condition he surrender his passport and not leave the continental U.S.
    A former trial lawyer who won multimillion-dollar verdicts with the same formidable powers of persuasion that propelled his political career, he faces the prospect of a lurid trial and the possibility of prison time and the loss of his license to practice law.
    “There’s no question that I’ve done wrong. And I take full responsibility for having done wrong. And I will regret for the rest of my life the pain and the harm that I’ve caused to others,” Edwards said outside the courthouse, accompanied by his oldest daughter, Cate, 29. “But I did not break the law.”… – AP, 6-3-11
  • John Edwards denies federal charges: The former Democratic presidential candidate says he didn’t break the law when he used funds from two supporters to hide his mistress and their daughter.
    Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has insisted that he broke no laws when he hid his pregnant mistress while seeking the nomination in 2008. Now, he’s made that position official, pleading not guilty to federal criminal charges that he accepted nearly $1 million from two supporters to fund the deception.
    On Friday, a federal grand jury indicted Edwards, 57, on six counts of violating campaign finance laws, lying to the government and conspiring to protect his candidacy by breaking the law.
    The case against Edwards could rise or fall on whether the government is reaching too far and trying to hold Edwards to a higher election law standard than usual. Notably, the first paragraph of the 19-page indictment said that a “centerpiece” of Edwards candidacy in 2008 was “his public image as a devoted family man” and that he often stressed to voters that “family comes first.”
    The government maintains that by accepting money to keep his mistress, Rielle Hunter, and eventually their daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, out of sight, he was trying to maintain the viability of his candidacy. Therefore, the government said, the money constituted undeclared campaign contributions. LAT, 6-3-11
  • John Edwards: ‘I did not break the law’: Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said he takes “full responsibility for having done wrong” but insisted he “did not break the law” to cover up his extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter.
    Edwards was indicted earlier today by a federal grand jury. He pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, making false statements and four counts of illegal campaign contributions.
    In a brief statement to reporters outside the courthouse in Winston-Salem, N.C., Edwards declared his innocence on the criminal allegations.
    “There’s no question I’ve done wrong,” Edwards said, adding he’ll “regret the pain and the harm” that he caused for the rest of his life. But he was adamant: “I did not break the law and I never, ever thought I was breaking the law.”… – USA Today, 6-3-11
  • John Edwards: ‘I’ve Done Wrong, but I Did Not Break the Law’: Two-time presidential candidate John Edwards pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he spent more than $900,000 in campaign donations to cover up his extramarital affair as he was running for the White House in 2008.
    “There’s no question that I’ve done wrong, and I take full responsibility for having done wrong. I will regret for the rest of my life the pain and harm that I’ve caused to others,” he said in a brief statement outside a federal courthouse in Winston-Salem, N.C. after being arraigned.”But I did not break the law, and I never ever thought I was breaking the law.”
    A federal grand jury indicted Edwards on six counts: conspiracy, four counts of illegal campaign contributions and one count of false statements. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count if convicted…. – Fox News, 6-3-11
  • John Edwards: I Did “Wrong,” But Broke No Law: Disgraced ex-senator John Edwards admitted today he has “done wrong” – but insisted he broke no laws. The onetime presidential hopeful made his 20-second statement shortly after he was indicted for allegedly using more than $900,000 in campaign funds to cover up an extramarital affair during his failed 2008 presidential campaign.
    “There’s no question that I’ve done wrong and I take full responsibility for having done wrong,” Edwards said after he pleaded not guilty – and endured the humiliation of having to surrender his passport.
    “And I will regret for the rest of my life the pain and the harm that I’ve caused to others. But I did not break the law and I never, ever thought that I was breaking the law.”
    Then Edwards, flanked by his daughter Kate, left without another word…. – NY Daily News, 6-3-11
  • John Edwards indictment: A North Carolina grand jury has indicted former Sen. John Edwards on criminal campaign finance violations in connection with a sex scandal.
    Edwards, the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2004 and a candidate for president in 2004 and 2008, was charged with four counts of illegal campaign contributions, one count of conspiracy and one count of false statements. The charges stem from a years-long investigation into whether Edwards used money from two supporters to cover up an affair with Rielle Hunter, a former campaign videographer with whom he had a child….. – LAT, 6-3-11
  • John Edwards in a brief statement outside a federal courthouse in Winston-Salem, N.C. after being arraigned: “There’s no question that I’ve done wrong, and I take full responsibility for having done wrong. I will regret for the rest of my life the pain and harm that I’ve caused to others. But I did not break the law, and I never ever thought I was breaking the law.”
  • Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer denounced Edwards’ “scheme”: “We will not permit candidates for high office to abuse their special ability to access the coffers of their political supporters to circumvent our election laws. Our campaign finance system is designed to preserve the integrity of democratic elections – for the presidency and all other elected offices – and we will vigorously pursue abuses of the kind alleged today.”
  • Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said in a statement: “As this indictment shows, we will not permit candidates for high office to abuse their special ability to access the coffers of their political supporters to circumvent our election laws.”
  • Former Federal Election Commission Chairman Scott Thomas, who is serving as an expert witness for Edwards’ legal team: “I believe that the theory on which the government intends to base its prosecution is without precedent in federal election law, and that the Federal Election Commission would not support a finding that the conduct at issue constituted a civil violation, much less warranted a criminal prosecution.”
  • John Edwards’ lawyer, Gregory Craig: “This is an unprecedented prosecution. He has broken no law and we will defend this case vigorously.”… -
  • Plus, John Edwards indicted: Can his legacy be rehabbed?Politico Arena, 6-3-11
  • Edwards emails acknowledge payments: Prosecutors have obtained emails between John Edwards and a former aide to use as evidence at trial that he knew about payments to his pregnant mistress even while he was publicly denying it, people familiar with the case told The Associated Press on Monday.
    Dozens of emails were exchanged between Edwards and his former speechwriter Wendy Button as they worked on a never-released draft statement to acknowledge paternity of his out-of-wedlock child, according to people who have seen the messages and requested anonymity because they have not been made public yet.
    The messages, draft statements and notes of their related phone conversations are key evidence prosecutors are using against Edwards, indicted on charges he failed to report nearly $1 million allegedly spent to keep his mistress out of the public eye as he pursued the White House. The former senator was still denying he was the baby’s father and publicly maintained he knew nothing about any money that may have been spent when the emails were sent in summer 2009…. – AP, 6-6-11
  • Criminal charges likely Fri. against John Edwards: Criminal charges were likely to be filed Friday against John Edwards, the culmination of a two-year federal investigation into money used to cover up an extramarital affair during the 2008 presidential election.
    Edwards’ attorney Greg Craig was traveling to meet with prosecutors in North Carolina, an indication that the former presidential candidate will likely be charged, either in a grand jury indictment or in a negotiated charge to which he would plead guilty…. – AP, 6-3-11
  • John Edwards indicted in $925K mistress cover-up: John Edwards acknowledged he has “done wrong” and hurt others but strongly denied breaking the law after federal prosecutors charged him Friday with using $925,000 in under-the-table campaign contributions to hide his pregnant mistress during his 2008 run for president.
    The former U.S. senator and two-time Democratic presidential hopeful was indicted on six felony charges that he violated campaign finance laws in a desperate bid to protect both his White House hopes and his image as a devoted family man…. – AP, 6-2-11
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