NAACP’s Trump insurrection lawsuit expected to add 10 new plaintiffs, including members of Congress, per reports

trump grifting
Donald Trump.

A federal lawsuit targeting former President Donald Trump, his lawyer, and far-right extremists in the aftermath of the July 6 Capital attack is reportedly scoring some new, heavyweight plaintiffs.

The NAACP’s suit alleging Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and members of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers conspired to incite a riot in an effort to prevent the certification of the 2020 presidential election is expected to add 10 new plaintiffs, including other members of Congress, on Wednesday, according to The New York Times and The Daily Beast.

Lawyers for the civil rights organization brought the suit on behalf of Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi in February and alleged the former president and his lawyer, in conjunction with far-right extremist groups, violated the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act by depriving Americans of their civil rights and disrupting the electoral vote count on January 6.

In addition to new plaintiffs, the amended complaint will also reportedly feature additional information regarding the deadly riot in Washington DC, according to The Beast.

During the violent siege, Thompson was among lawmakers who were forced to don gas masks and lie on the floor in an effort to avoid rioters, according to the suit. The Mississippi rep. was eventually led out of the Capitol to the Longworth House Office Building, where he sheltered in place with more than 200 other lawmakers, staffers, and family members.

Trump has chosen Jesse Binnall, a Republican lawyer who filed a “Stop the Seal” lawsuit in Nevada, which attempted and failed to overturn the 2020 election results, to represent him in the suit, The Beast reported.

The expanded lawsuit comes as Trump faces a barrage of other legal troubles since leaving office in January.

Prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, announced in February that they were officially launching a criminal investigation into whether Trump committed election interference by pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” additional votes in the state’s presidential contest. In New York, prosecutors are investigating his financial dealings while the state’s attorney general is civilly investigating whether Trump’s organization illegally inflated the value of its assets to score tax breaks.

Meanwhile, the former president also faces a lawsuit from two longtime Capitol police officers, who allege Trump “inflamed, encouraged, incited, directed, and aided and abetted” the mob that caused both men injuries on January 6. Rep. Eric Swalwell of California has also filed a suit against Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Giuliani, and Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama for allegedly inciting the insurrection.

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A lawsuit that accused Google of collecting the data of people who were using incognito mode can continue, said a federal judge

Google Office Logo Chrome
Alphabet Inc.’s Google logo.

  • A federal judge on Friday denied Google’s request for dismissal in incognito mode tracking case.
  • The complaint said users weren’t notified Google collected data even during private browsing.
  • “‘Incognito’ does not mean ‘invisible,'” Google’s lawyers wrote.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A federal judge denied Google’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit accusing the search giant of tracking users even while they were using incognito mode on their browsers.

The suit, Brown v. Google, alleged that Google collected data when users were using Chrome’s private browsing mode. In some instances, other websites that used Google Analytics or Google Ad Manager sent “a secrete, separate message to Google’s servers in California,” the suit said.

In asking for a dismissal, Google said users were given enough information about how their activity might be tracked while using the private browsing mode. Insider has reached out to the company for comment.

“Google also makes clear that ‘Incognito’ does not mean ‘invisible,’ and that the user’s activity during that session may be visible to websites they visit, and any third-party analytics or ads services the visited websites use,” Google’s lawyers wrote.

But Google’s argument was rejected on Friday by Lucy Koh, a judge for the northern district of California.

Koh, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, wrote: “First, Google cannot demonstrate that Plaintiffs expressly consented because Google did not notify users that it would be engaging in the alleged data collection while Plaintiffs were in private browsing mode.”

The class-action lawsuit was filed in June 2020, with three plaintiffs attached to it. In their initial complaint, they said Google tracked their internet use between June 1, 2016, and the present. The tracking continued in private browsing mode, without their consent and without “a legitimate business interest” from Google, they said.

“Secret monitoring of web private browsing is highly offensive behavior,” the suit said.

In the months since the suit was filed, tech giants have wrestled with how much consumer activity should be tracked.

There was a battle brewing between Facebook and Apple, after the iPhone maker announced software updates that would limit some ad tracking. Known as App Tracking Transparency, the update will require app developers to request permission before they can track users.

At the same time, federal lawmakers are renewing their focus on whether the internet ad businesses run by Google and Facebook violate antitrust laws.

Rep. David Cicilline, antitrust subcommittee chairman, said during a hearing on Friday: “Overall, the market power of Google and Facebook is reinforced by the unprecedented amount of data collected by these companies, along with other factors that have tipped digital markets in favor of these firms and blocked rivals and new entrants from challenging their dominance.”

Google this month said it would shift away from precision-targeting ads and would no longer track specific users as they browse the web.

“We remain committed to preserving a vibrant and open ecosystem where people can access a broad range of ad-supported content with confidence that their privacy and choices are respected,” David Temkin, director of product management for ads privacy and trust, wrote in a blog post.

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A Tesla investor has sued the company’s board and Elon Musk, claiming Musk’s ‘erratic’ tweets violate an SEC settlement

elon musk
Elon Musk. REUTERS/Steve Nesius

  • Tesla investor brings lawsuit against Elon Musk, company board, for CEO’s “erratic” tweets.
  • Musk’s tweets cost the company billions and violated an SEC settlement, the lawsuit claims.
  • In 2018, Tesla and the SEC agreed Musk’s tweets would need prior approval.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Elon Musk and the Tesla board are facing a lawsuit from an investor who said some of Musk’s comments on Twitter violate a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission meant to temper his communications.

Musk’s tweets have cost the electric-vehicle company “billions of dollars in market capitalization” and have breached an agreement with the SEC, according to the lawsuit, which was brought by investor Chase Gharrity in Delaware and first reported on by Bloomberg Law.

In 2018, the SEC leveled a securities fraud charge at Musk for a tweet saying he would take Tesla private if the stock price hit $420. The parties came to a settlement, in which Musk was forced to step down as the company’s chairman and required that Tesla put in place procedures to oversee Musk’s communications relevant to Tesla shareholders.

Read more: The true disrupter in the auto industry isn’t Tesla – it’s Fisker

The new lawsuit, as reported by Bloomberg, said some of Musk’s tweets since then have been in violation of that agreement. The filing cited a May 2020 tweet from Elon Musk’s verified account, which said, “Tesla stock is too high imo.” The stock price dropped almost 10% in the hours following the tweet.

“The Valuation Tweet was only one in a series of erratic tweets on this date from the same Twitter account,” said the lawsuit, which was originally filed March 8. “Musk’s wrongful conduct has caused, and will continue to cause, substantial harm to Tesla.”

The lawsuit also accuses the board of failing to keep Musk’s comments in check.

Tesla did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on the lawsuit.

Musk’s social media presence has shown influence on everyday investors. In one recent study, about a third of respondents said they made personal investments based on the CEO’s tweets, and another 16% said they’d made investments many times.

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Judge approves $650 million settlement of Facebook privacy lawsuit linked to facial photo tagging

Facebook Logo
The class-action case against Facebook was first filed in Illinois in 2015.

  • The $650 million settlement is one of the largest-ever from a privacy lawsuit in the US.
  • The suit claimed Facebook violated an Illinois law prohibiting collection of biometric data without consent.
  • About 1.6 million claimants will receive a payout of at least $345, the lawsuit said. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A federal judge has approved a settlement in which Facebook will pay $650 million to users who sued the social media company over its tagging feature.

The settlement, which is one of the largest-ever from a privacy lawsuit, was a “landmark result,” said US Judge James Donato of the Northern District of California in his Friday order. About 1.6 million people who joined the lawsuit will receive a payout of at least $345, the lawsuit said. 

“Overall, the settlement is a major win for consumers in the hotly contested area of digital privacy,” wrote Judge Donato. “The standing issue makes this settlement all the more valuable because Facebook and other big tech companies continue to fight the proposition that a statutory privacy violation is a genuine harm.”

The class-action case was first filed in Illinois in 2015. Facebook users claimed the company had violated the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act, which prohibits a private entity from collecting, storing, or using biometric identifiers or information without prior notification and written consent.

The lawsuit claimed Facebook created and stored a face template for Illinois users starting in June, 2011, as part of its feature to promote tagging – or identifying – individuals in photos. “The class members alleged that Facebook collected and stored their biometric data – namely digital scans of their faces – without prior notice or consent,” the settlement order said.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the finalization of the lawsuit. The social media giant had fought the suit, saying it had always disclosed its facial recognition technology. It also said users had the option to turn it off. 

This isn’t the first time Facebook has received pushback for its facial-recognition feature. In 2019, Facebook began requiring users to opt-in to use their facial-recognition tool, after the FTC fined the company $5 billion for its role in the Cambridge Analytica privacy breach, as previously reported by Insider.

Facebook originally tried to settle the Illinois lawsuit for $550 million, but the judge presiding over the case rejected that offer.

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Ripple faces a SEC lawsuit for breaking investor-protection laws when selling its XRP cryptocurrency

In this photo illustration of the ripple cryptocurrency 'altcoin' sits arranged for a photograph on April 25, 2018 in London, England. Cryptocurrency markets began to recover this month following a massive crash during the first quarter of 2018, seeing more than $550 billion wiped from the total market capitalisation. (Photo by )

  • Ripple plans to defend itself against an expected SEC lawsuit over allegedly breaking investor-protection laws while selling its cryptocurrency, XRP.
  • In a series of tweets, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse blasted the SEC’s decision to sue his firm right before the holidays.
  • “Ripple has and will continue to use XRP because it is the best digital asset for payments – speed, cost, scalability and energy efficiency,” he said.
  • The lawsuit would come after years of debate about whether XRP is a security, or a cryptocurrency outside regulatory scope.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Cryptocurrency firm Ripple is facing a lawsuit by the Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly violating investor-protection laws by selling its XRP token, a security the regulator considers as unlicensed.

Ripple’s CEO Brad Garlinghouse tweeted that the SEC is unjustifiably attacking crypto and blasted chairman Jay Clayton’s decision to sue his firm right before the holidays.

“Jay Clayton is taking notes from the Grinch this holiday season, leaving the actual legal work to the next administration,” Garlinghouse said, referring to the chairman’s departure at the end of Trump’s presidential tenure. 

The lawsuit hasn’t been filed yet, but Ripple is aware of the regulator’s impending action. The fact that the crypto firm disclosed that it’s about to be sued is uncommon, highlighting its intention to defend itself against legal action.

“We know crypto and blockchain technologies aren’t going anywhere,” Garlinghouse said. “Ripple has and will continue to use XRP because it is the best digital asset for payments – speed, cost, scalability and energy efficiency. It’s traded on 200+ exchanges globally and will continue to thrive.”

Read More: Investing veteran Barry Norris is beating 95% of his peers by betting against the market’s riskiest companies. He warns investors against the ‘siren call’ to own value stocks – and explains why he’s now bearish on Rolls-Royce.

Garlinghouse went on to say that the regulator isn’t in line with the rest of the US government, and shouldn’t limit innovation especially if its decision “directly benefits China.”

Over the past years, the SEC has filed, and mostly won, civil lawsuits against startups that breached securities laws when raising money via cryptocurrency sales. But none of those firms are as big as Ripple. XRP’s current market cap stands at about $22 billion, and it is the third-largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin and Ethereum, according to data from Coin Gecko.

The lawsuit would come after years of debate between both sides about whether XRP is a security, or a currency that exists beyond the SEC’s scope of regulation.

The SEC did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Read More: Bank of America unveils its top stock pick in each of the 11 S&P 500 sectors and explains why they’re poised to dominate in the year ahead

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Pinterest has paid $22.5 million to settle a gender discrimination suit from former executive Francoise Brougher, who claimed she was fired after speaking up

Francoise Brougher
Francoise Brougher, former COO of Pinterest, filed a lawsuit against the company in August. Now, it will pay $22.5 million to settle the claims.

  • Pinterest on Monday paid $22.5 million to end a lawsuit brought by Francoise Brougher, its former chief operating officer, who alleged gender discrimination.
  • Brougher claimed she was paid less than male colleagues and that she was excluded from meetings.
  • Pinterest admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement. It and Brougher will jointly donate $2.5 million of the settlement to programs supporting women and underrepresented communities in tech.
  • Brougher and her attorneys will receive $20 million.
  • “I’m glad Pinterest took this very seriously,” Brougher said in an interview with the Times. “I’m hoping it’s a first step in creating a better work environment there.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Social media platform Pinterest on Monday paid $22.5 million to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit brought by Francoise Brougher, its former chief operating officer.

After two years in the COO role, Brougher suddenly left Pinterest in April, without explanation. Four months later, she filed a lawsuit against the company in a San Francisco court, claiming she “was treated unfairly because of my gender.”

Brougher said in the lawsuit that she was paid less than her male peers, that the company excluded her from meetings, and that she wasn’t invited to attend the corporate road show in the runup to Pinterest’s IPO in 2019.

The photo-sharing site and Brougher said Monday they planned to jointly donate $2.5 million of the settlement to organizations that support women and underrepresented minorities in tech, with a focus on education, funding and advocacy, per The New York Times. The donations are expected to be made by the end of 2020.

Brougher and her attorneys will receive $20 million.

In the suit, Brougher, 55, claimed she was fired following a heated exchange with Pinterest’s chief financial officer, Todd Morgenfeld, about her treatment at the company.

The lawsuit said Morgenfeld made disparaging comments about her in front of colleagues and gave her feedback that she considered sexist, saying she wasn’t “collaborative enough.”

After she complained about Morgenfeld’s comments to the head of human resources, and to CEO Ben Silbermann, Brougher said Silbermann fired her over a video call.

A Pinterest spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider that the company is investing $2.5 million in programs to advance women and underrepresented communities in tech.

The company admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement.

“Francoise welcomes the meaningful steps Pinterest has taken to improve its workplace environment and is encouraged that Pinterest is committed to building a culture that allows all employees to feel included and supported,” Pinterest said in a joint statement with Brougher.

“I’m glad Pinterest took this very seriously,” Brougher said in an interview with the Times. “I’m hoping it’s a first step in creating a better work environment there.”

Brougher is one of the most prominent female tech executives to file a gender discrimination lawsuit against a former company.

Pinterest’s feuds in 2020

This isn’t the first time Pinterest has been criticized for alleged discrimination in the workplace.

Pinterest shareholders sued the company, its top executives, and board of directors on December 2 over allegations of discrimination against women and employees of color.

The lawsuit claimed top executives failed to address claims of workplace bias by doing nothing to monitor unequal pay.

“Pinterest’s leadership and Board take their fiduciary duties seriously and are committed to continuing our efforts to help ensure that Pinterest is a place where all of our employees feel included and supported,” a Pinterest spokesperson told Business Insider at the time. They said the company doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

In August, more than 200 Pinterest employees staged a virtual walkout and 450 signed an online petition demanding pay transparency and equality, and increased diversity in senior levels of the company.

Pinterest in August added its first two Black board members, hired a new head of diversity, and commissioned an independent review of its workplace culture.

Read more: Pinterest abandoned plans for a big new office project in San Francisco, but experts say staying in the city has several major advantages

In June, Ifeoma Ozoma and Aerica Shimizu Banks, two Black women, publicly resigned from Pinterest. They said they faced retaliation and humiliation, and were passed over for promotion.

Pinterest told Business Insider: “We took these issues seriously and conducted a thorough investigation when they were raised, and we’re confident both employees were treated fairly. We want each and every one of our employees at Pinterest to feel welcomed, valued, and respected.”

It added that “we’re committed to advancing our work in inclusion and diversity by taking action at our company and on our platform. In areas where we, as a company, fall short, we must and will do better.” 

The same month, Business Insider talked to 11 former employees who said Pinterest was a toxic and difficult place to work. Some Black former employees who worked on Pinterest’s ad-sales team said they were fired or “pushed out” of the company without any explanation.

Other employees said they were yelled at by managers in front of colleagues, which made them feel humiliated and upset.

The same week, CEO Silbermann acknowledged that some of Pinterest’s “culture is broken” and said he was “embarrassed” that he didn’t understand the “depth of the hardship and hurt” employees went through.

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Sidney Powell’s secret source who used the pseudonym ‘Spider’ and identified himself as a military intelligence expert in her evidence-free election fraud lawsuits is actually an IT consultant, report says

Sidney Powell
UNITED STATES – NOVEMBER 19: Sidney Powell, attorney for President Donald Trump, conducts a news conference at the Republican National Committee on lawsuits regarding the outcome of the 2020 presidential election on Thursday, November 19, 2020. Trump attorneys Rudolph Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, also attended.

  • The “former military intelligence official” who is cited under the anonymous name “Spider” in Sidney Powell’s election lawsuits reportedly has no intelligence expertise and is an IT consultant, according to a Washington Post report. 
  • Joshua Merritt, a 43-year-old information technology consultant, confirmed his identity as “Spider” to the Post. 
  • He acknowledged that being cited as an expert was misleading. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The anonymous source named “Spider” or “Spyder” who was cited as a former military intelligence official in several of Sidney Powell’s election lawsuit is actually an IT consultant without expertise in military intelligence, according to a Washington Post report. 

Spider confirmed his identity as Joshua Merritt, a 43-year-old information technology consultant, to The Post. 

Powell was kicked off President Donald Trump’s campaign legal team in November but has sought her own lawsuits in Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, and Arizona trying to overturn the election results, Business Insider previously reported.

Her lawsuits make unsubstantiated claims about election fraud, and her cases in all four states have been dismissed by judges.

In the lawsuits, Merritt claims to have worked for the 305th Military Intelligence Battalion, based in Arizona. 

He also alleges that public data on server traffic shows that voting systems were “certainly compromised by rogue actors, such as Iran and China.”

However, while Merritt is an Army veteran who was enrolled in training with the 305th Military Intelligence Battalion, he never completed an entry-level training course, The Post reported. 

“He kept washing out of courses,” Meredith Mingledorff, a spokeswoman for the US Army Intelligence Center of Excellence told The Post. “He’s not an intelligence analyst.”

On Friday, Powell told The Post: “I cannot confirm that Joshua Merritt is even Spider. Strongly encourage you not to print.”

She added, about his description as an intelligence analyst: “If we made a mistake, we will correct it.”

Merritt told The Post that he was a trainee with the 30th Battalion for seven months over 15 years ago. He acknowledged that his description as an expert in the lawsuits was misleading but blamed “clerks” for Powell’s legal team for writing that he was an expert not a student.

“That was one thing I was trying to backtrack on,” he told The Post. “My original paperwork that I sent in didn’t say that.”

Additionally, the separation papers he provided to The Post did not mention any intelligence training. Merritt spent most of his time as a wheeled vehicle mechanic while in the Army. 

Read more: ‘Like old-school roller derby’: Here’s Insider’s latest ranking of the likely 2024 GOP presidential candidates

Merritt told The Post that he’s removing himself from Powell’s cases and moving away with his family after his name had circulated. 

Powell’s legal team had asked the judge in the Wisconsin case to keep Spider’s identity sealed if they move forward to an evidentiary hearing. 

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Idaho’s GOP attorney general joins at least 4 other high profile GOP lawmakers in opposing Trump’s long-shot Texas lawsuit to overturn 2020 election

Trump
US President Donald Trump golfs at Trump National Golf Club on November 21, 2020 in Sterling, Virginia.

  • A small group of House Republicans and Republican attorneys general have publicly disagreed with the latest election lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
  • Republican attorneys general in Idaho, Ohio, and Georgia have declined to support the lawsuit.
  • Sen. Mitt Romney called the lawsuit, “simply madness.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A small minority of GOP lawmakers have opposed the last-ditch move to undo the election and throw out votes in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia, as a majority of House Republicans and 17 state attorneys general have signed onto a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. 

Idaho’s Republican Attorney General Lawrence Wasden issued a statement distancing himself from the case, and said, “I am declining to join this effort. As is sometimes the case, the legally correct decision may not be the politically convenient decision. But my responsibility is to the State of Idaho and the rule of law.” 

This week, at least 106 Republicans in the House of Representatives submitted an amicus brief in support of the case to the US Supreme Court. If the case is taken up by the Supreme Court, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has agreed to argue the case before the court.

The list of signatories is publicly supporting the outgoing president’s dwindling efforts to essentially throw out votes in the 2020 election and have GOP-led state legislatures appoint pro-Trump electors in battleground states decide the outcome.

On Wednesday, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas signaled a contrast with the Texas attorney general and Cruz. Cornyn told CNN, “I read just the summary of it, and I frankly struggle to understand the legal theory of it.”

Cornyn added, “Number one, why would a state, even such a great state as Texas, have a say-so on how other states administer their elections?” 

Similarly, Wasden said that his rejection was a matter of respect for state sovereignty, and “Likewise, Idaho should respect the sovereignty of its sister states.” Idaho’s Republican Party said it would sign an amicus brief in support of the Texas lawsuit.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a brief with the US Supreme Court on Thursday opposing elements of the Texas lawsuit, after more than 40 Ohio GOP lawmakers urged him to have Ohio join the suit. 

In his brief, Yost wrote that “The relief that Texas seeks would undermine a foundational premise of our federalist system: the idea that the States are sovereigns, free to govern themselves.” 

Yost continued, “The courts have no more business ordering the People’s representatives how to choose electors than they do ordering the People themselves how to choose their dinners.” Later in the brief, however, Yost encouraged the Supreme Court to rule on whether the election changes at the state level are unconstitutional.

On Thursday, veteran Republican Rep. Kay Granger of Texas stated that she was not supportive of her state’s lawsuit, telling CNN, “I’m not supporting it,” later adding, “I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere, and … it’s a distraction.”

Sen. Mitt Romney called the lawsuit, “simply madness.”

Read more: New document shows all the details of the $908 billion bipartisan coronavirus stimulus in the works 

Rep. Chip Roy, a Texas congressman-elect said that he wouldn’t sign on and publicly called the brief “a dangerous violation of federalism,” and said the effort “will almost certainly fail.”

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr split with the Trump camp as well, stating to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the lawsuit is “constitutionally, legally, and factually wrong.” His public stance on Wednesday was reportedly met with a fiery 15-minute phone call from Trump where he asked Carr not to rally other Republicans against the suit, according to AJC.

Legal experts say that the suit is likely to fail due to the recycling of previously thrown-out baseless claims about the election. Democratic attorneys generals from Washington, DC, and 22 states and territories filed a brief opposing Texas’s effort. 

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