Bill Barr’s Dept. of Justice has closed the file on U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler, refusing to prosecute the Republican from Georgia accused of insider trading. Loeffler, who is in an increasingly desperate election bid, was accused of selling millions of dollars in stocks after receiving confidential information on the impending coronavirus pandemic before it tanked the markets.
The FBI was looking into stock trades of Sen. Loeffler, along with those of Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Sen. Richard Burr (D-NC). All investigations except for the one into Senator Burr have been dropped, The Wall Street Journal reports.
All three Senators whose cases were dropped have said their investment advisors made the trades without their prior knowledge.
Loeffler was appointed to her seat in January by Gov. Brian Kemp to complete the term of Senator Johnny Isakson, who resigned. She is down in the polls. Her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, is the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). He gave Trump’s Super PAC a $1 million check last week. The couple reportedly have donated $3.2 million to political campaigns, mostly Republican.
“Loeffler and her husband sold 27 stocks between January 24 and February 14 at a value of $1.28 million and $3.1 million, according to Senate financial disclosure records,” CNN reported in March. “They also purchased three stocks for between $450,000 to $1 million, including shares in Citrix, a software company used for teleconferencing that’s one of the few that’s gained value amid the coronavirus outbreak.”
Her husband “recently acquired as much as $415,000 in stock in DuPont de Nemours, a chemical company that manufactures protective equipment in exceedingly high demand because of the coronavirus pandemic,” the AP reported last month.
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Sinema Says ‘DC Solutions’ on Guns Not ‘Realistic’
U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), one of two major roadblocks to Democrats passing President Joe Biden’s top agenda items including gun control, just one day after an 18-year old gunman massacred 21 people in Texas including 19 elementary school children, offered to be open to discussion but made clear she does not believe in a federal solution to the gun violence that plagues America.
The United States is the only country in the world with a gun crisis of this magnitude. The leading cause of death for children and teens is now a gun.
Republicans allowed the 1994 federal ban on semi-automatic weapons to expire in 2004. A 2019 study found “Mass-shooting fatalities were 70% less likely to occur during the federal ban period.”
Senator Sinema appeared to disagree with that study in remarks to reporters late Wednesday morning.
“I asked her if she was willing to set aside the filibuster,” Punchbowl News co-founder Jake Sherman reports. “She said she didn’t believe ‘that DC solutions are realistic here.'”
The federal assault weapons ban was a “DC solution.”
Sinema also told Sherman that “despite the fact that there is always heated rhetoric here in DC, I do think there’s an opportunity for us to actually have real conversations and try and do something. I think the conversation across America is very different than it is here.”
90 percent of Americans want Congress to pass a background check bill, which the House already has but Senate Republicans refuse to allow. Eliminating the 60-vote threshold in the filibuster might allow that legislation to pass, as it almost did under President Barack Obama, with 54 votes.
“People at home all across America are just, they’re scared,” Sinema added, suggesting that is no reason to make changes to the way the Senate works, or to pass gun control legislation. “They want us to do something.”
Sinema committed to no action other than “to start having conversations again with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to determine whether or not there’s something we can actually do to help increase safety and protect kids across the country.”
The House has already passed multiple bills the Senate could take up and pass — or at least get Senators on the record.
Sen. Sinema’s reluctance to do anything substantive stands in clear contrast to her Arizoan Democratic colleague in the House. U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, long rumored to be a potential primary opponent when Sinema is up for re-election, on Tuesday night blasted Sinema and others, like “baby killer” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), standing in the way of gun control.
Please just stop.. unless you are willing to break the filibuster to actually pass sensible gun control measures you might as well just say “thoughts and prayers” https://t.co/YA5Pp3dqao
— Ruben Gallego (@RubenGallego) May 24, 2022
Just to be clear fuck you @tedcruz you fucking baby killer.
— Ruben Gallego (@RubenGallego) May 24, 2022
Fuck you @NRA
— Ruben Gallego (@RubenGallego) May 24, 2022
Florida Republican Levies ‘Threat’ Against Biden Over Guns After Being Investigated for Cyberintimidation
Florida State Representative Randy Fine, a Republican from Brevard County, Wednesday morning posted what some say appears to be a threat against President Joe Biden. Tuesday evening the President addressed the nation just hours after 19 second, third, and fourth-grade school children and two teachers were massacred in one of the nation’s worst mass shootings.
“We as a nation have to ask when in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby. When in God’s name do we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?” President Biden implored Americans as he spoke barely more than one hour after landing at the White House after a five-day Asia trip.
Early Tuesday morning Rep. Fine tweeted: “I have news for the embarrassment that claims to be our President — try to take our guns and you’ll learn why the Second Amendment was written in the first place.”
Some online are seeing that as an apparent threat.
“This sounds like a threat against the President,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Is this a threat Randy?” asked another.
Several reported the tweet to Twitter Safety, and more responded by tweeting it to the FBI and Secret Service.
One user whose bio says she is an Internet Safety Expert tweeted “18 U.S.C. §871(a).” That is the federal law for ‘Threats against President and successors to the Presidency.”
Rep. Fine has been investigated but not prosecuted for cyberintimidation, among other allegations.
In February, “prosecutors announced that after an exhaustive investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and a thorough review by Chief Assistant State Attorney Stacey Salmons …, no criminal charges would be filed in allegations leveled at State Representative Randy Fine by Brevard County School Board Member Jennifer Jenkins, and Publisher Robert Burns,” the Florida State Attorney’s Office stated.
“Jenkins and Burns alleged that between July and August of 2021, Fine had committed the offenses of Corruption by Threat Against a Public Servant; Cyberintimidation by Publication; Stalking; Residency Qualification Violations; Campaign Finance Violations; and Voter Fraud (Oct. 2019 – Nov. 2020).”
The State Attorney’s Office declined to file charges against Fine, but State Attorney Phil Archer added: “Although no criminal charges are being filed, I am concerned that the continued use of heated rhetoric on social media and public statements by both sides, could produce a volatile and dangerous escalation we should all seek to avoid.”
Top Texas Republicans Resist Gun Control and Push for More Armed Teachers and Police at Schools in Wake of Uvalde Shooting
“Top Texas Republicans resist gun control and push for more armed teachers and police at schools in wake of Uvalde shooting” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
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In the hours after a gunman killed more than 20 people at a South Texas elementary school Tuesday, the state’s top Republicans sought to immediately squelch the possibility of gun control measures in the wake of yet another mass shooting.
As the death toll mounted from the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde and President Joe Biden vowed to push for stricter gun laws, Texas Republicans made it clear that any kind of gun restriction in response to the tragedy was off the table.
“Inevitably when there’s a murder of this kind, you see politicians try to politicize it, you see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “That doesn’t work. It’s not effective. It doesn’t prevent crime.”
In an appearance on the far-right television network Newsmax, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton quickly dismissed the notion of enacting restrictions on firearms — reasoning that shooters wouldn’t follow the law anyway.
“I’d much rather have law-abiding citizens armed and trained so that they can respond when something like this happens because it’s not going to be the last time,” Paxton said.
Meanwhile, Biden called for a renewed push to reform the nation’s gun laws in the wake of the shooting during a nationwide address Tuesday evening.
“We as a nation have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name do we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?” Biden said.
In the wake of mass shootings at Santa Fe High School in 2018 and a Walmart in El Paso in 2019, Texas Republicans vowed to take steps to prevent similar killing sprees in the future and passed laws that cover issues like identifying potentially dangerous students, training school employees to deal with emergencies and giving teachers more access to guns.
But in gun-friendly Texas, any laws restricting access to firearms have been a nonstarter. Instead, state legislators have expanded access to firearms — including with a law allowing residents to carry guns without a permit.
On Tuesday, Republican officials revived ideas to stop future mass shooters — arming teachers and school administrators, putting more police officers on campus and limiting entryways to school buildings.
“We have to harden these targets so that no one can get in ever except through one entrance,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told Tucker Carlson in an appearance on Fox News. “Maybe that would help. Maybe that would stop someone.”
Gov. Greg Abbott, Cruz and former President Donald Trump are scheduled to talk in Houston on Friday at the National Rifle Association’s 2022 annual meeting. Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Abbott’s Democratic opponent in this year’s gubernatorial race, called on Abbott to skip the convention and tell the NRA to take the convention elsewhere.
“Governor Abbott, if you have any decency, you will immediately withdraw from this weekend’s NRA convention and urge them to hold it anywhere but Texas,” O’Rourke tweeted Tuesday night.
Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/05/24/texas-republicans-uvalde-gun-control/.
The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.
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