Here’s what we know about the 2 prominent lawyers Rep. Matt Gaetz hired in federal sex-trafficking probe

Matt Gaetz
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, in Washington.

  • Rep. Matt Gaetz has secured help in fighting a federal sexual misconduct probe, hiring two high-profile lawyers, Mark Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner, to defend him.
  • Officials are trying to determine whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl or violated sex-trafficking laws.
  • Mukasey is a longtime associate of Rudy Giuliani’s who also has close ties to former President Donald Trump.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Embroiled in a federal sex-trafficking investigation, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida has hired two topdog defense attorneys to represent him.

The lawyers, Marc Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner, come as a probe into Gaetz intensifies.

The House Ethics Committee on Friday announced an investigation into Gaetz over allegations of sexual misconduct. A bombshell New York Times report released last week revealed that Gaetz is facing a federal sex crimes investigation, a probe designed to determine whether he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Officials are also seeking to learn whether he had violated sex-trafficking laws.

The Florida Republican has not been charged, and he’s repeatedly denied all allegations. Instead, he’s pushed a narrative that says the federal investigation and these allegations make up an elaborate and convoluted scheme to extort him and his family for $25 million.

“Once again, the office will reiterate, these allegations are blatantly false and have not been validated by a single human being willing to put their name behind them,” Gaetz’s office said in a statement Friday.

The probe, nevertheless, is heating up. And Gaetz hired well-connected powerhouse attorneys to help him navigate through the mess.

The attorneys “will take the fight to those trying to smear his name with falsehoods,” a statement from his office said.

Marc Mukasey

Mukasey is a high-profile attorney with close ties to former President Donald Trump and his ex-personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Mukasey and Giuliani used to be law partners. After they split ways, one of Mukasey’s first clients was Trump himself. He currently represents the Trump Organization in an ongoing criminal probe into the former president’s tax returns conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

One of Mukasey’s most controversial cases involved Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher, accused and acquitted of charges related to war crimes.

Mukasey’s career and that of his father have for years closely intertwined with the needs of top GOP leaders.

His father, Michael, was a district judge appointed by Ronald Reagan, Law&Crime reported. He also served as the US attorney general under the George W. Bush administration.

Isabelle Kirshner

Kirshner is an outspoken critic of Trump, constantly blasting him in public. She’s previously referred to the former president as a “scourge” and an “existential threat,” according to Law&Crime.

As an attorney, her record is marked in part by male clients who’ve faced serious sexual abuse and misconduct allegations.

She is a former Manhattan assistant district attorney who represented former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman after allegations of sexual assault and violence against him came out. Schneiderman denied all allegations but resigned from his position.

Kirshner’s also represented Dr. Robert Hadden, the New York gynecologist accused of sexual assault. Among his accusers was Evelyn Wang, the wife of now New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang. Evelyn said Hadden had sexually assaulted her multiple times during an OB-GYN visit while she was pregnant with her first child.

Hadden was charged last September with a pattern of sexual assault and abuse spanning decades, from 1993 to 2012.

Neither Mukasey nor Kirshner immediately returned requests for comment from Insider.

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Neo-Nazi leader pleads guilty to threatening journalists and opponents of anti-Semitism

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Raymond Duda, FBI Special Agent in Charge in Seattle, speaks as he stands next to a poster that was mailed earlier in the year to the home of Chris Ingalls, an investigative reporter with KING-TV.

  • Cameron Shea, 25, has pled guilty to federal hate crime and conspiracy charges.
  • Shea was a member of the Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group linked to multiple killings.
  • He was charged with threatening journalists and others who exposed anti-Semitism.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A 25-year-old leader of a neo-Nazi organization linked to murders across the United States has pleaded guilty to federal hate crime and conspiracy charges after threatening journalists and others who worked to expose anti-Semitism.

Cameron Shea was arrested in March 2020 and charged with conspiring to intimidate members of the press and the Anti-Defamation League in Washington state, as The Guardian’s Jason Wilson reported. In charging documents, the Department of Justice described him as a “high-level member and primary recruiter” for the Atomwaffen Division.

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the group, founded in 2015, as “a terrorist neo-Nazi organization” whose members believe in using violence to accelerate the collapse of society.

Members of the group have been linked to a string of violent hate crimes. After one member was charged in 2018 with killing Blaze Bernstein, a gay, Jewish college student in California, Google, Discord, and other technology companies moved to bar the organization from using their platforms, which had been used to spread propaganda and organize illicit activities.

The US Department of Justice, in a statement on Wednesday, said Shea and three co-defendants conspired online to “identify journalists and advocates they wanted to threaten in retaliation for the victims’ work exposing anti-Semitism,” focusing primarily on Jews and reporters of color. Targets in Tampa, Seattle, and Phoenix were then mailed posters featuring Nazi symbols and threats of pending violence.

“We will be postering journalists houses and media buildings to send a clear message that we too have leverage over them,” Shea said in a November 2019 group chat, the Associated Press reported. The targets were chosen for their critical work on far-right extremists.

A poster sent to an employee of the Anti-Defamation League featured a “Grim Reaper-like figure wearing a skeleton mask holding a Molotov cocktail,” according to the Justice Department, with text reading: “Our Patience Has Its Limits . . . You have been visited by your local Nazis.”

Last fall, two other members of the group pleded guilty to involvement in the conspiracy. And in July 2020, another admitted to making false claims to police that led to SWAT teams arriving at the homes of reporters, Seattle-area NBC affiliate KING 5 reported.

In March, a 20-year-old Atomwaffen member, John William Kirby Kelley, was handed a 33-month prison sentence for hosting the chat room where such activities were planned, according to The Washington Post. Other targets included Black churches and a former Trump Homeland Security chief, Kristjen Nielsen.

Another member of the conspiracy, Taylor Parker-Dipeppe, pleaded guilty to distributing a poster in Florida – at the wrong address – and last month received a sentence of time served. According to their attorney, Parker-Dipeppe was kicked out of the neo-Nazi group after coming out as transgender.

Shea will be sentenced in June 2021. He faces up to 15 years in prison.

Emily Langlie, a spokesperson for the Justice Department, declined to state whether Shea is cooperating with authorities, citing department policy.

An alleged co-conspirator, Kaleb Cole, has pleaded not guilty and is due to face trial in September, she said.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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Matt Gaetz was once accused of inventing a sex game where he and his male colleagues got points for ‘sleeping with aides, interns, lobbyists, and married legislators’

matt gaetz
Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz

  • Gaetz was once accused of creating a sex game with his male colleagues in the Florida legislature.
  • A state lawmaker said last year that Gaetz “created a game where members of the FL House got ‘points’ for sleeping with aides, interns, lobbyists, and married legislators.”
  • Gaetz denied inventing or taking part in the sex game.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz was once accused of creating a game in which he and his male colleagues in the Florida House of Representatives would score their sexual conquests.

State GOP Rep. Chris Latvala tweeted in January 2020 that Gaetz “created a game where members of the FL House got ‘points’ for sleeping with aides, interns, lobbyists, and married legislators.” Latvala’s accusation came after Gaetz criticized him for meeting with Rev. Al Sharpton.

ABC News reported that targets in the sex game also included staffers that the group of lawmakers had heard were virgins.

Gaetz denied inventing or taking part in the scoring system in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times.

The Miami Herald first reported on the existence of the game in 2017, but Gaetz’s name was not tied to it until 2020.

Read more: Secret Service protection would follow Trump if he goes to prison, former agents say

Allegations about the scoring system resurfaced this week after The New York Times reported that the Justice Department was investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl in 2019 and broke federal sex-trafficking laws.

These are the main allegations against Gaetz, according to media reports:

  • In addition to looking into whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old in 2019, investigators are examining if he paid for her to travel with him and broke federal sex-trafficking laws by doing so.
  • According to The Times, the 17-year-old at the heart of the Gaetz probe is the same girl who was involved in a felony sex-trafficking count against Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector who was charged with 14 counts and pleaded not guilty.
  • Investigators are said to be examining whether Gaetz used campaign money to fund travel and other expenses for women.
  • The Times reported that the inquiry is focusing on Gaetz and Greenberg’s interactions with “multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments.”
  • One person familiar with the conversations told The Times that Gaetz told the women to say that he paid for dinners and hotel rooms as part of their dates if anyone asked about the nature of their relationships.
  • People familiar with the encounters told The Times that some of the men and women, including Gaetz, took MDMA before having sex, and that in some cases the Florida lawmaker asked the women to find others who may want to have sex with him and his friends.
  • ABC News reported that the sex probe is focusing not just on Gaetz’s conduct in his home state of Florida but in other states as well.

Gaetz has denied ever paying for sex and claims the investigation into him is part of an elaborate scheme to extort his family for $25 million.

“Matt Gaetz has never paid for sex,” his office said in a statement to The Times. “Matt Gaetz refutes all the disgusting allegations completely. Matt Gaetz has never ever been on any such websites whatsoever. Matt Gaetz cherishes the relationships in his past and looks forward to marrying the love of his life.”

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Matt Gaetz reportedly received talking-to about ‘acting professionally’ in Congress by House staff during first term, per CNN

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House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis. administers the House oath of office to Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., during a mock swearing in ceremony on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, in Washington.

  • A new CNN report alleges Rep. Matt Gaetz was a long source of frustration for House GOP leadership.
  • Staff for former House Speaker Paul Ryan reportedly held a discussion with Gaetz during his first term.
  • Two sources said the conversation was about “acting professionally” while in Congress.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Among the barrage of alleged scandals and controversies currently plaguing Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, a new CNN report claims the Republican lawmaker received a “talking-to” about his brash behavior as a freshman lawmaker in DC.

Gaetz quickly made a name for himself as a conservative provocateur and Trump loyalist shortly after entering Congress in 2017. The 38-year-old became a brazen staple on Fox News and Newsmax, frequently causing frustration among Republican House leadership, according to CNN.

Behind the scenes, Gaetz earned a reputation as a showboat among his colleagues. As Insider previously reported, many of his fellow Republicans were gloating about recent news reports that he is under a DOJ investigation. Former Trump aides told Insider they “feel a little vindicated.”

“He’s the meanest person in politics,” one said to Insider’s Robin Bravender.

But a Thursday report from CNN suggests Gaetz has was a thorn in the side of GOP leadership.

According to the outlet, staff for then-House Speaker Paul Ryan held a short meeting with Gaetz in the Capitol during his first term. They reportedly had a discussion with the freshman lawmaker about “acting professionally while in Congress,” two sources with knowledge of the meeting told the outlet.

The discussion was not related to one specific incident, according to one of the sources, and Ryan did not personally lecture Gaetz.

A spokesperson for Gaetz rejected the account to CNN, denying that Gaetz was ever reprimanded by Ryan or his staff.

“That did not happen, no meeting with the speaker or his staff,” the spokesperson told the outlet.

A spokesperson for Gaetz did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

The Justice Department is investigating whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and potentially violated federal laws against sex trafficking in the process. Since The New York Times reported the investigation earlier this week, Gaetz has faced further issues.

Gaetz on Wednesday claimed the DOJ’s investigation is part of “an organized criminal extortion” scheme against him led by a former DOJ prosecutor. In a series of tweets, he said he and his family have been cooperating with the FBI on the matter and he provided emails to Politico on Wednesday that appeared to back up his statements.

But, as Insider’s Sonam Sheth reported, it’s unlikely the sex-trafficking investigation is connected to the alleged extortion plot. The former was launched in the summer of 2020, months before Gaetz said his father was contacted and allegedly extorted.

The saga continued Thursday morning when CNN reported that the Justice Department is also investigating whether Gaetz used campaign funds to pay for travel and other expenses for women.

Later Thursday, a CNN report alleged Gaetz showed lawmakers nude photos of women he said he had slept with, and boasted about his sexual exploits. He reportedly showed off the photos both in private and on the House floor, according to the outlet.

CNN reported that there is no indication the photos in question are connected to the Justice Department investigation.

Sonam Sheth contributed to this report.

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SpaceX should be forced to cooperate with a DoJ subpoena about alleged hiring discrimination after months of refusing to comply, a judge ruled

Elon Musk
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

  • A job applicant said SpaceX discriminated against him because of his citizenship status.
  • The company refused to comply with a DoJ subpoena for documents, calling it “unduly burdensome.”
  • A California judge on Monday recommended that SpaceX comply with the subpoena.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) is investigating hiring practices at SpaceX after a job applicant said he was discriminated against because of his citizenship status.

Elon Musk’s aerospace company repeatedly refused to comply with a DoJ subpoena asking for documentation related to its hiring procedures, saying in February authorities have given only “the flimsiest of justifications.”

But a judge on Monday recommended that SpaceX comply with the subpoena, saying that the company did not produce sufficient evidence to dismiss the DoJ’s case.

CNBC first reported on the filings on Monday.

A complaint from a SpaceX job applicant started the investigation

The Office of Immigrant and Employee Rights (IER), a division of the DoJ, began its investigations in June 2020 after job applicant Fabian Hutter complained of status-based discrimination.

Hutter was interviewed for the position of technology strategy associate at SpaceX’s internet project Starlink in March. His resume said he held dual citizenship in Austria and Canada, and is a lawful permanent US resident.

His complaint, from May, alleged that SpaceX asked Hutter about his citizenship status “and ultimately failed to hire him for the position because he is not a US citizen or lawful permanent resident,” per a court document filed by DoJ attorney Lisa Sandoval in January.

Read more: SpaceX investor Draper Associates backed futuristic data capture startup Cipher Skin in a $5 million funding round after seeing this pitch deck

Under US International Traffic in Arms Regulations, non-US citizens can work for SpaceX if they have a green card, CNBC reported.

In a court filing, SpaceX called the case “facially nonsensical.”

SpaceX said it knew about Hutter’s citizenship before offering him the interview because it was on his resume. The interviewer was “unimpressed” by Hutter’s responses to questions, SpaceX said, and it ultimately decided not to hire anyone for the role.

The DoJ launched its investigation in June

IER told SpaceX in June that it had opened an investigation into both Hutter’s complaint and whether the company engaged in any broader pattern or practice of discrimination.

As part of its investigation, IER requested documentation from SpaceX related to its hiring processes. This included all Form I-9 data collected by the company since June 2019 and copies of any supporting documentation, such as copies of employees’ passports, driver’s licenses, or Social Security cards.

As part of a Form I-9, which is filled in when a new hire starts, the employee has to identify their citizenship status. The employer must certify that they viewed original documentation proving this.

This is “highly relevant” to the IER investigation, the DoJ’s Sandoval wrote, because the documents may show whether SpaceX was “engaging in a pattern of not hiring [non-US citizens] due to their citizenship status.”

SpaceX refused to comply with a subpoena

After IER gave it multiple extensions, SpaceX finally shared the Form I-9 documents in August, but refused to produce supporting documentation, the DoJ’s filing said. SpaceX said this would be “unduly burdensome” and would involve submitting documents from more than 3,500 employees “from barista to rocket scientist.”

After SpaceX repeatedly refused to supply the supporting evidence, IER obtained a subpoena, asking SpaceX to send the relevant documents by October 22. SpaceX still refused to send the documents, even after IER offered a further deadline extension, per the filing.

SpaceX then asked authorities to modify or revoke the subpoena, arguing that it exceeded the scope of IER’s authority, was not relevant to IER’s investigation, and would be “unduly burdensome” for SpaceX to comply with.

The authorities denied SpaceX’s request in December. The authorities then ordered SpaceX to comply with the subpoena within 14 days, and authorized IER to seek enforcement in district court if SpaceX did not comply.

After SpaceX still refused to send the information, IER asked a California district court to require SpaceX to comply.

SpaceX asked the court to block the subpoena. It said it had already spent more than 1,000 hours complying with IER’s requests and submitted “thousands of pages” of documents. It said IER had given only “the flimsiest of justifications,” calling it “the very definition of government overreach.”

Judge says SpaceX should comply

In a court filing on March 29, Magistrate Judge Michael Wilner recommended that the district judge force SpaceX to comply with the subpoena.

Wilner said that the subpoena was relevant and enforceable, and that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that it was overbroad or presented an undue burden to SpaceX.

Though the I-9 attachment would not be relevant to the IER’s investigation into whether SpaceX discriminates during its hiring practices, the documentation could help the IER’s investigation into potential overdocumentation violations, the judge said.

Wilner’s recommendation will be sent to a federal district judge, who will deliver a ruling, CNBC reported.

Insider has contacted SpaceX and IER for comment.

Do you have a tip you want to share? Contact Grace Dean via email (gdean@insider.com). Always use a nonwork email.

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Visa slips 5.5% on report the DOJ is investigating the firm’s debit-card practices

visa cards

Shares of Visa slipped as much as 5.5% on Friday after a report said the Department of Justice is investigating the firm’s debit-card practices.

Visa is under investigation for “anticompetitive practices” in the debit-card market, reported the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources.

The Foster City, California-based financial services corporation is specifically being investigated for possibly limiting merchants’ ability to route debit-card transactions over less expensive networks.

Visa and other credit card companies use what are called “network fees” as a main source of revenue. Although these fees are invisible to consumers, they can heavily weigh on merchants and be very lucrative for card companies.

The DOJ is probing whether Visa’s move to prevent merchants from avoiding their network fees could allow the firm to illegally maintain its leading market position, the WSJ reported.

Visa stock is down nearly 7.5% since hitting March 11 record highs of over $226 per share.

Before this latest news analysts were overwhelmingly bullish on shares of Visa. The company boasts 49 “buy” ratings, six “neutral” ratings, and zero “sell” ratings from analysts.

Most recently, Morgan Stanley maintained their buy rating and $253 price target on Visa in a note to clients on March 16.

Visa stock traded down 5.16% as of 1:23 p.m. ET on Friday.

Visa chart 2
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A SpaceX engineer has pleaded guilty to DOJ charges of insider trading on the dark web

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket takes off at the Kennedy Space Center on May 30, 2020 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket takes off at the Kennedy Space Center on May 30, 2020 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

  • SpaceX engineer James Roland Jones pleaded guilty to insider trading on the dark web, the DOJ said Thursday.
  • He called himself “MillionaireMike” and was sold information by an undercover FBI agent.
  • Separately, the SEC has charged him with selling “insider tips” on the dark web in exchange for bitcoin.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A SpaceX engineer has pleaded guilty to charges of insider trading on the dark web, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Thursday.

James Roland Jones, from Hermosa Beach in California, faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison, the DOJ said in a statement.

Under the username “MillionaireMike,” Jones bought and sold personally identifiable information on the dark web, including names, addresses, dates of birth, and social security numbers, between 2016 and 2017, the DOJ said.

The DOJ alleged the 33-year-old used this information to open up fake accounts to conduct trades on material, non-public information (MNPI), data on a company that has not been made public but could impact its share price if shared.

In April 2017, an undercover FBI employee sold Jones purported insider information about a publicly traded company in the US, the DOJ said.

Jones and another conspirator the DOJ didn’t identify made numerous securities transactions between April 18, 2017 and May 4, 2017, based on the company insider information.

According to the DOJ, Jones told the agent in July 2017 that he had separate non-public information on another US company.

In a separate set of charges, the Securities Exchange Commission on Thursday accused Jones of falsely claiming to have what he called “insider tips” and selling them on the dark web in exchange for bitcoin.

The SEC said in its complaint that Jones’s tips were usually predictions that a stock would go up or down.

Traders then paid Jones for the tips through bitcoin and he made around $27,000, according to the SEC.

The DOJ identified Jones as a SpaceX engineer but didn’t state whether he still worked for the company or did at the time of the crime. The SEC didn’t mention SpaceX in its complaint.

The SEC said this was the first case in which it has brought an enforcement action alleging securities violations on the dark web.

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Senate confirms Merrick Garland as attorney general

merrick garland
Judge Merrick Garland testifies at his confirmation hearing for attorney general.

The Senate voted on Wednesday to confirm Judge Merrick Garland as attorney general of the United States, elevating the longtime federal jurist to become the country’s chief law enforcement officer. The widely-expected confirmation went through with broad bipartisan support in a vote of 70 in favor to 30 opposed.

Twenty Republicans joined Democrats to confirm Garland: Sens. Roy Blunt, Richard Burr, Shelley Capito, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, John Cornyn, Joni Ernst, Lindsey Graham, Chuck Grassley, Jim Inhofe, Ron Johnson, James Lankford, Mitch McConnell, Jerry Moran, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Mitt Romney, Mike Rounds, John Thune, and Thom Tillis.

President Joe Biden nominated Garland to lead the Department of Justice on January 7, saying in a statement that Garland and other DOJ nominees reflected Biden’s “deeply held commitment to reaffirming the Department of Justice as a pillar of independence and integrity, and ensuring that the Attorney General and his senior leadership team are the American people’s lawyers – not the president’s law firm.”

At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Garland committed to assuring that the DOJ applies the rule of law so that “the laws of our country are fairly and faithfully enforced, and that the rights of all Americans are protected.”

He will face a torrent of high-profile issues, including investigations into the deadly January 6 Capitol riot, immigration, the future of the death penalty, and the Hunter Biden tax probe.

Garland pledged during his confirmation hearings that the Capitol insurrection would be his “first priority” as attorney general.

“If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on January 6 – a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government,” he said at the time.

Garland criticized the migrant child separation policy of former President Donald Trump as “shameful.”

“I can’t imagine anything worse than tearing parents from their children, and we will provide all the cooperation that we possibly can,” he said.

After a surge of young migrants at the US-Mexico border, Biden has temporarily reopened a Texas facility for unaccompanied children, drawing harsh criticism from progressives and immigration activists.

Biden is opposed to the death penalty and Garland echoed many of the sentiments shared by opponents of the practice, citing an “arbitrariness and randomness” of the punishment.

“I am very concerned about the large number of exonerations that have occurred through DNA evidence and otherwise, not only in death penalty convictions but also in other convictions,” he said.

Garland also said that he hadn’t spoken to the president about his son, Hunter, and pledged that any investigations into the younger Biden’s tax affairs would be handled independently by the DOJ and without interference from the White House.

When Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey asked him to discuss his motivation for serving as attorney general, Garland became emotional.

“I come from a family where my grandparents fled antisemitism and persecution,” he said. “The country took us in and protected us, and I feel an obligation to the country to pay back, and this is the highest, best use of my own set of skills to pay back.”

Garland, 68, previously served as a judge on the US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, since 1997. He began his professional career at the DOJ in the 1970s under President Jimmy Carter and is widely respected in the legal community.

Before becoming a federal judge, Garland oversaw the prosecution of Timothy McVeigh, who carried out the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people and injured nearly 700 other people.

In March 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Aware of the deterioration of Senate legislative comity, Obama asked that Garland’s nomination be removed from the politics of the moment and that he be granted a hearing and a vote.

But Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, then the majority leader, stonewalled Garland’s nomination, left the seat empty, and said the winner of the 2016 general election should nominate Scalia’s successor to “give the American people a voice.”

Garland stepped away from hearing active cases in the DC circuit court after his nomination but returned to the bench in January 2017, when President Donald Trump was sworn in.

Trump quickly filled the Supreme Court vacancy, nominating conservative Judge Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed to the seat in April 2017.

During Garland’s confirmation hearings, he faced many of the same Republicans who blocked his nomination, but in the end, he won many of them over.

Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina praised Garland’s tenure on the federal bench and his reputation for judicial independence.

“Merrick Garland has an outstanding record serving our country and has a deep understanding of the law,” Tillis said in a statement. “I have no doubt he will serve with integrity, keeping the best interest of our great country in mind with every decision he makes, and will respect the constitutional rights and liberties of all Americans.”

McConnell once described blocking Garland’s Supreme Court nomination as “the most consequential thing I’ve ever done.”

This week, he voted to confirm Garland as attorney general.

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Antivirus magnate John McAfee has been indicted on federal charges related to ‘the fraudulent promotion of cryptocurrencies’

John Mcafee
McAfee Antivirus founder John McAfee.

  • McAfee Antivirus creator John McAfee is being indicted on federal charges for the second time.
  • This indictment is related to “the fraudulent promotion to investors of cryptocurrencies.”
  • McAfee faces a variety of charges, and is currently detained in Spain for a prior indictment.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Cybersecurity mogul and former presidential candidate John McAfee is facing a variety of charges brought by the US Department of Justice, according to a newly unsealed indictment.

McAfee is being charged on a range of offenses, “stemming from two schemes relating to the fraudulent promotion to investors of cryptocurrencies qualifying under federal law as commodities or securities,” the DOJ statement published Friday said.

Those charges range from, “conspiracy to commit commodities and securities fraud” to “money laundering conspiracy offenses,” and come in addition to a series of prior charges related to alleged tax evasion.

More specifically, McAfee and a colleague “allegedly raked in more than $13 million from investors,” Manhattan US Attorney Audrey Strauss said, through a variety of means related to cryptocurrency: A so-called “pump and dump” scheme, the indictment said, and undisclosed agreements to promote certain currencies for compensation. 

“The defendants allegedly used McAfee’s Twitter account to publish messages to hundreds of thousands of his Twitter followers touting various cryptocurrencies through false and misleading statements to conceal their true, self-interested motives,” Strauss said.

If found guilty, McAfee faces a potential maximum prison sentence that would amount to a life sentence.

McAfee has over 1 million Twitter followers, and remains active on the social media platform – even though he’s currently imprisoned in Spain due to the prior tax evasion charges. In his profile, McAfee described himself as an, “Iconoclast,” and a, “Lover of women, adventure and mystery.” 

McAfee didn’t respond to a request for comment as of publishing.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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California’s net-neutrality rules clear major hurdle as Biden’s DOJ abandons its efforts to block them

GettyImages 974049450 An internet speed test website is seen on a mobile device in this photo illustration on June 11, 2018 in Warsaw, Poland. With the American Federal Communications Commission having repealed law's that protect consumers from companies themselves determining internet speeds, the so called net neutrality rules fears arise that the internet will more and more resembel cable TV where a handful of big companies dominate broadcasting. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
  • The DOJ dropped its legal challenge to California’s net-neutrality rules on Monday.
  • California lawmakers passed the rules in 2018 after Trump’s FCC overturned Obama-era rules.
  • This is a reversal from the Trump administration’s fight against popular net-neutrality policies.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The Department of Justice has dropped its legal challenge to California’s net-neutrality rules, the agency said in a court filing on Monday.

The move clears a major hurdle that had prevented the state’s rules from going into effect, and represents a significant departure from the Trump administration’s approach to internet policy.

After the Trump-led Federal Communications Commission voted in 2017 to repeal widely popular Obama-era net-neutrality protections at the federal level, California lawmakers passed a law the following year that aimed to restore some of those protections within its own borders.

But the Trump administration challenged California’s rules, as did internet providers including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Charter Communications (their legal challenge is pending, and a hearing is scheduled for February 23).

Read more: Everything you need to know about California’s tough net neutrality bill

The Biden administration’s decision to abandon the fight against net neutrality, which comes on the heels of President Joe Biden’s nomination of acting FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel, signals it may take a tougher approach to companies that provide Americans with internet access.

“I am pleased that the Department of Justice has withdrawn this lawsuit,” Rosenworcel said in a press release.

“When the FCC, over my objection, rolled back its net-neutrality policies, states like California sought to fill the void with their own laws. By taking this step, Washington is listening to the American people, who overwhelmingly support an open internet, and is charting a course to once again make net neutrality the law of the land,” she said.

Public opinion polls have consistently shown that the overwhelming majority of Americans – including both Republicans and Democrats – support net neutrality, a policy that prevents internet providers like AT&T and Comcast from “throttling” customers’ internet speeds or forcing certain websites to pay more for “fast lanes.”

In addition to fighting net neutrality, the Trump administration mostly deregulated the industry. Under former FCC chair Ajit Pai’s leadership, the agency faced criticism for being overly friendly toward the companies under its purview, doing little to improve Americans’ internet speeds or ability to access the internet in the first place.

Despite industry arguments that deregulation promotes innovation and cost savings that benefit consumers, the US recently fell out of the top 10 countries for internet speeds globally, according to a report from DecisionData.org, and Americans still pay far more for that service.

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