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“Just say it was corrupt and leave the rest up to me and the Republican[s]” : Overnight News Digest

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Vice News

‘Just Say the Election Was Corrupt and Leave the Rest to Me’

Donald Trump called top Justice Department officials “virtually every day” in the waning days of his presidency to repeatedly pressure them to investigate his disproven claims about election fraud in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election, according to testimony given during the Jan. 6 select committee hearing Thursday.

Between Dec. 23, 2020, and Jan. 3, 2021, Trump either met with or called acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen every day except Christmas to push his false election fraud claims, Rosen testified to the committee.

Former Assistant Attorney General Richard Donoghue said he once spent 90 minutes debunking Trump’s false claims about the election being stolen from him one by one. But eventually, Trump gave up trying to convince them of legal merit.

“Just say it was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen,” Trump said at one point, meaning himself and Republican allies in Congress, according to notes taken by Donoghue and made public during the hearing.

Donoghue reiterated: “That’s an exact quote.

The Washington Post

Echoes of Watergate: Trump’s appointees reveal his push to topple Justice Dept.

[…] The meeting centered on a plan by a mid-level Justice official, Jeffrey Clark, to become attorney general. New details released at the hearing revealed just how close the Justice Department came to collapsing and throwing the country into an unprecedented constitutional crisis.

Among those details: a possible link between Clark, another Justice official and John Eastman, a conservative attorney running a parallel effort on Trump’s behalf to push states to overturn the election. And, White House phone logs that at one point listed Clark as the acting attorney general, showing how close he came to getting the position.

Much of the dramatic testimony on this Washington summer afternoon had already been detailed in dry depositions and previously released court documents. But delivered with raw emotion on Tuesday, those details landed with new gravity as some of Trump’s former top aides called out his falsehoods about the election, still sounding shocked and disdainful at what they had witnessed.

In a series of striking moments, nationally televised to millions, the damning testimony from the nation’s top law enforcement officials was the closest that the investigation has come to events that unfolded a half-century ago in the Watergate scandal.

Politico

Multiple House Republicans on defensive over Jan. 6 panel testimony that they sought post-riot pardons

[…] Several top Trump aides during the post-Jan. 6 period, including special assistant Cassidy Hutchinson and aide Johnny McEntee, described outreach to White House officials from multiple members of Congress seeking clemency: Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).

Los Angeles Times

‘A murder-suicide pact’: Former DOJ officials say they refused Trump’s requests to intervene in election

[Donald] Trump pushed Department of Justice officials to falsely claim there was evidence of fraud in the 2020 election and attempted to replace the acting attorney general when he refused to comply with his demands, the House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection detailed in its hearing Thursday.

The committee argued that such a declaration from Justice Department officials that fraud took place in the election would have cast doubt on the results and given GOP-controlled state legislatures a pretense to appoint alternate presidential electors and prevent President Biden’s victory.

“Donald Trump didn’t just want the Justice Department to investigate. He wanted the Justice Department to help legitimize his lies, to baselessly call the election corrupt, to appoint a special counsel to investigate alleged election fraud,” said Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).

CNN

5 takeaways from the fifth day of January 6 hearings

[…]Three Trump appointees testified in-person on Thursday, joining a growing list of Republicans who have gone under oath to provide damning information about Trump’s post-election shenanigans. The witnesses were former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, his deputy Richard Donoghue, and Steven Engel, who led the department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

Here are takeaways from Thursday’s hearing.

  • Select committee has the goods on GOP congressional pardons…
  • Trump considered firing the acting attorney general and installing [Jeffrey] Clark…
  • White House pushes conspiracy theory…
  • Vivid description of Trump’s pressure campaign…
  • Shocking raid of Clark home preceded hearing…

USA Today

Feds search home of Jeffrey Clark, ex-DOJ official at center of Trump’s effort to overturn election

Federal authorities on Wednesday conducted a search at the suburban Virginia home of former Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Clark, once central to Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, two people familiar with the matter said Thursday.

The law enforcement action comes as the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol prepared to outline how Trump unsuccessfully sought to install Clark as acting attorney general to pursue false allegations of election fraud. […]

Clark made a brief video appearance at Thursday’s panel hearing, recorded from a prior meeting with the committee in which he declined to answer questions. Asked about the letter intended for Georgia officials, Clark invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against self incrimination.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Gov. Kemp to testify in Fulton County’s Trump probe

Gov. Brian Kemp will deliver testimony next month to Fulton County prosecutors investigating Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 elections, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.

But unlike the parade of witnesses who have appeared at the Fulton courthouse to answer questions in front of a special grand jury, the Republican will instead deliver a “sworn recorded statement,” according to a letter from the Fulton County District Attorney’s office dated Wednesday…

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Ron Johnson now says he helped coordinate effort to pass false elector slates to Pence, but his new explanation drew a quick rebuke

After initially claiming to be “basically unaware” of an effort by his staff to get fake presidential elector documents to Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said Thursday he coordinated with a Wisconsin attorney to pass along such information and alleged a Pennsylvania congressman brought slates of fake electors to his office — a claim that was immediately disputed.

Evidence presented this week by the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol showed Johnson’s chief of staff tried to deliver the two states’ lists of fake presidential electors for former President Donald Trump to Pence on the morning of the U.S. Capitol insurrection but was rebuffed by Pence’s aide.  

Johnson initially told reporters this week he did not know where the documents came from and that his staff sought to forward it to Pence. But he said in a Thursday interview on WIBA-AM that he had since discovered the documents came from Pennsylvania U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, and acknowledged he coordinated with Dane County attorney Jim Troupis and his chief of staff by text message that morning to get to Pence a document Troupis described as regarding “Wisconsin electors.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Pa. Republicans’ roles in attempts to overturn 2020 election draws scrutiny in congressional, FBI probes

Pennsylvania Republicans’ efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results — in both their state and others — came under scrutiny Thursday in parallel probes by both congressional and federal criminal investigators.

On Capitol Hill, U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R., Pa.) and Philadelphia-born attorney Jeffrey Clark were key figures in testimony by three top officials from Trump’s Department of Justice. The former officials detailed how Perry peddled false conspiracy theories to the highest levels of the government, hoping to launch investigations that would cast doubt upon the vote. One — based on a video he found on YouTube — led to top Defense officials contacting the Italian government about a conspiracy supposedly involving that country’s satellites affecting U.S. votes.

When Perry was rebuffed, he pushed … Donald Trump to oust his acting attorney general and replace him with a Philadelphia native, who was willing to embrace those claims. The officials testified that putting Clark, an environmental lawyer and then-acting head of the Justice Department’s civil division, in charge “may very well have spiraled us into a constitutional crisis.”

The New Orleans Advocate

Trump wanted Louisiana AG Jeff Landry as special counsel while fighting election, testimony says

Donald Trump’s administration wanted to appoint Louisiana’s Attorney General as “special counsel” to investigate election fraud after the 2020 election, former United States Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel testified Thursday.

Engel explained the request for special counsel while he testified before the U.S. House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Engel did not refer to Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry by name, but said the request involved Louisiana’s attorney general. […]

Questions have swirled since the 2020 election about Landry’s role in trying to overturn its results. Landry was chairman at the time of the Republican Attorneys General Association, and Trump courted Landry to be the face of a major election fraud lawsuit shortly after the 2020 election, according to The New York Times.


NPR News

Supreme Court strikes down N.Y. law that restricts concealed carrying of guns

The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority on Thursday declared for the first time that there is a constitutional right to carry a handgun in public for self defense. By a vote of 6-to-3, the court struck down a century-old gun law in New York that limited licenses to carry a gun outside the home to people carrying them for sports like hunting or shooting, and those with a special need, like messengers carrying cash. […]

In New York, site of a mass shooting last month, Gov. Kathy Hochul seethed with anger moments after the opinion was announced.

“This decision isn’t just reckless, it’s reprehensible,” she said. “Our states and our governors have a moral responsibility to do what we can because of what is going on The insanity of the gun culture that has now possessed everyone all the way up to even to the Supreme Court.”

San Francisco Chronicle

California won’t make it easy to obtain concealed carry licenses, despite Supreme Court ruling

The Supreme Court likely tore a giant hole in California’s concealed-carry gun law, but that doesn’t mean the Golden State must suddenly make it easy to obtain licenses to carry firearms in public. […]

State Attorney General Rob Bonta, a Democrat, warned residents that the bulk of California’s concealed-carry law remains in effect, meaning that residents generally must still obtain a permit from a local police officer or sheriff to legally carry a loaded, concealed firearm in public.

Bonta, Gov. Gavin Newsom and state legislators also announced that they are working on new legislation to tighten the state’s concealed-carry law, in a way that is both consistent with the court’s ruling and would make it difficult to obtain permits.

McClatchy DC

‘Take the issue off the table’: Why Mitch McConnell green-lit a GOP deal on gun violence.

[…] In the initial aftermath of the massacre inside a Uvalde, Texas elementary school, McConnell wouldn’t even utter the word “guns” when referring to the national epidemic of shootings. He maintained that mental illness and school safety were what needed to be addressed.

In fact, in the first 20 pages of the draft bill, handguns are hardly mentioned in the text. The initial section focuses on the expansion of mental health services for children, including the implementation of periodic screening of minors and using Medicaid and telehealth to increase access to those services. […] [McConnell] now has another significant vote in his pocket that he can hold up when Democrats complain the filibuster needs to be broken or amended to accomplish a legislative goal.

“Base blowback is a sunk cost having pursued a deal,” said [Liam Donovan, a former Republican Senate campaign operative turned Washington lobbyist]. “You have to balance the prospect of a divisive vote with the fact that this is their last best chance to take the issue off the table for the foreseeable future, and on relatively favorable terms.”

CBS News

Senate passes most significant gun control legislation in decades

The Senate late Thursday voted 65 to 33 to pass the bipartisan gun control bill, the most significant legislation addressing guns in nearly 30 years. […]

The legislation enhances background checks for prospective gun buyers under 21 years old, closes the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” clarifies the definition of a Federally Licensed Firearms Dealer and creates criminal penalties for straw purchases and gun trafficking. It also provides $750 million in grants to incentivize states to implement crisis intervention programs and provides roughly billions of dollars in federal funding to bolster mental health services for children and families and harden schools.

The Senate’s measure does not go as far as what Mr. Biden has called for and is significantly more narrow than a package of bills that passed the House this month.

Vox

The Supreme Court’s new gun ruling means virtually no gun regulation is safe

The Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen is a devastating decision for anyone who cares about reducing gun violence.

It massively expands the scope of the Second Amendment, abandons more than a decade of case law governing which gun laws are permitted by the Constitution, and replaces this case law with a new legal framework that, as Justice Stephen Breyer writes in dissent, “imposes a task on the lower courts that judges cannot easily accomplish.”

The immediate impact of Bruen is that handguns — which are responsible for the overwhelming majority of gun murders in the United States — are likely to proliferate on many American streets. That’s because Bruen strikes the types of laws that limit who can legally carry handguns in public, holding that “the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.”

The case involves a 109-year-old New York state law which requires anyone who wishes to carry a handgun in public, whether openly or concealed, to demonstrate “proper cause” before they can obtain a license to do so. 

Houston Chronicle

17-year-old sister of Uvalde shooting victim begs Texas Republicans to pass gun safety laws

Jazmin Cazares sat on her little sister’s empty bed this morning and cried.

Nine-year-old Jackie should have been sleeping there peacefully… But Jackie’s life was stolen from her on May 24, when a teenage gunman wielding an assault-style rifle killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

“She was one of the sweetest souls anyone would ever meet,” Cazares, 17, told lawmakers Thursday in Austin. “She would bring a smile to anyone’s faces. We were all in shock when we received the news of her passing, and we’re still in shock, especially as we continue to receive new information that shows a lot of things that happened that day could have been prevented.”

Cazares … begged for lawmakers to “do something” — to expand background checks, to require repeated active shooter training for all police officers and to pass “red flag” laws that would allow courts to temporarily remove firearms from people deemed a danger to themselves or others.

The Kansas City Star

‘Physically angry in a flash.’ Sheena Greitens alleged abuse by former governor in 2018

Sheena Chestnut Greitens grew concerned enough about her then-husband Eric Greitens’ violent and controlling behavior four years ago that she contacted both a marriage therapist and family lawyer to outline allegations of the former Missouri governor being physically and emotionally abusive to her and their young children, records show.

The two communications, sent in 2018, offer an exhaustive account of the abuse allegations against Eric Greitens that were first made public in a sworn statement filed by Sheena Greitens in March.

Now a candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri, Eric Greitens has tried to paint the allegations as a political conspiracy orchestrated by establishment Republicans in an effort to derail his campaign.

The documents, obtained by The Star, undercut Greitens’ claim that his ex-wife’s allegations were politically motivated and make clear that she described the same allegations to at least four people, including Eric Greitens himself, in 2018 — when the abuse is alleged to have happened.

UPI

Russia shells outskirts of Severodonetsk as EU grants Ukraine official ‘candidate’ status

[…] For weeks, Russian forces have pounded Ukrainian positions across the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in the eastern part of the country in pursuit of its top goal of the war — winning total control of the Donbas.

Luhansk Gov. Serhai Haidai said the city of Lysychansk was under a withering assault from Moscow on Thursday. Lysychansk is located just a few miles to the southeast of downtown Severodonetsk, the city that’s been in Russia’s crosshairs for the past several weeks.

“[Lysychansk] suffers from heavy fire from Russian invaders,” Haidai said Thursday, according to The Guardian. “And there are so many artillery and mortars here that the Russians are simply covering entire neighborhoods with heavy fire. Numerous casualties among civilians.”

EuroNews

Europol operation targets online trafficking of Ukrainian refugees Access to the comments

Europol has launched a operation to tackle the online human trafficking of Ukrainian refugees, identifying suspicious posts on 42 online platforms across 14 countries in a single day.

Some users had posted fake job offers for Ukrainian women for “photo shoots” or instead promised accommodation and transport to refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine.

“Investigators identified attempts to lure victims through offers of a ‘bright future’, which tricked them into sexual or labour exploitation,” the European Union’s law enforcement agency said in a statement.

France24

Dutch join Germany, Austria, in reverting to coal

The Dutch joined Germany and Austria in reverting to coal power on Monday following an energy crisis provoked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Netherlands said it would lift all restrictions on power stations fired by the fossil fuel, which were previously limited to just over a third of output.

Berlin and Vienna made similar announcements on Sunday as Moscow, facing biting sanctions over Ukraine, cuts gas supplies to energy-starved Europe… 

Germany however said it still aimed to close its coal power plants by 2030, in light of the greater emissions of climate-changing CO2 from the fossil fuel.

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Long-awaited federal study finds threat to Boundary Waters from hardrock mining

Hardrock mining on public land in northern Minnesota risks contaminating the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, even with measures designed to head off those problems, a long-awaited federal study says.

The environment assessment released Thursday by the U.S. Forest Service buttresses the Biden Administration’s quest for a 20-year moratorium on hardrock mining on more than 200,000 acres in Superior National Forest next to the Boundary Waters.

The Forest Service report was released following years of controversy and a concerted effort to keep its work secret. Launched at the end of the Obama Administration, the study was canceled in 2018 by the Trump Administration which declared it an unnecessary “roadblock” to minerals exploration in the Rainy River Watershed, which drains into the Boundary Waters.  President Biden restarted the study.

The Verge

New White House partnership aims to speed construction of offshore wind farms

The White House and 11 governors from East Coast states forged a new partnership on Thursday to build up domestic supply chains for offshore wind farms and related infrastructure. The new Federal-State Offshore Wind Implementation Partnership includes governors from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

As part of the announcement, the Biden administration committed to the facilitation of “timely and effective permitting and environmental reviews” for offshore wind projects and lease sales. In the past, permitting has been a significant bottleneck for advancing offshore wind projects.

Crucially, President Joe Biden also moved to ease another major bottleneck: securing the specialized ships needed to erect turbines as tall as skyscrapers in the open ocean.

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Largest Burmese python ever found in Florida weighed 215 pounds and was 18 feet long

Ian Bartoszek… and his team of python trackers have caught the most massive python ever recorded in Florida: an 18-foot female snake weighing 215 pounds and carrying 122 eggs. […]

“This could be one of the founding snakes from back then that was intentionally released or an escaped pet, who knows,” Bartoszek told reporters…

The python team has developed a successful tracking method, however, which allows them to find pythons off grid. They surgically insert transmitters into the male pythons, called “scouts,” and then locate them using radio telemetry. During breeding season, they follow the scouts to pregnant female pythons, which they trap and kill before they lay eggs. […]

In the winter, they’ll return to the hunt, and maybe even break some more records.

“There’s always a bigger snake,” Bartoszek said. “We just haven’t found it yet.”

The New York Times

You Don’t Need a Microscope to See the Biggest Bacteria Ever Found

In a Caribbean mangrove forest, scientists have discovered a species of bacteria that grows to the size and shape of a human eyelash.

These cells are the largest bacteria ever observed, thousands of times bigger than more familiar bacteria such as Escherichia coli. “It would be like meeting another human the size of Mount Everest,” said Jean-Marie Volland, a microbiologist at the Joint Genome Institute in Berkeley, Calif.

Dr. Volland and his colleagues published their study of the bacteria, called Thiomargarita magnifica, on Thursday in the journal Science.

Scientists once thought bacteria were too simple to produce big cells. But Thiomargarita magnifica turns out to be remarkably complex. With most of the bacterial world yet to be explored, it is entirely possible that even bigger, even more complex bacteria are waiting to be discovered.

The Guardian

Scientists unveil bionic robo-fish to remove microplastics from seas

Scientists have designed a tiny robot-fish that is programmed to remove microplastics from seas and oceans by swimming around and adsorbing them on its soft, flexible, self-healing body. […]

“It is of great significance to develop a robot to accurately collect and sample detrimental microplastic pollutants from the aquatic environment,” said Yuyan Wang, a researcher at the Polymer Research Institute of Sichuan University and one of the lead authors on the study. Her team’s novel invention is described in a research paper in the journal Nano Letters. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first example of such soft robots.”

BBC News

South Africa’s Zondo commission: Damning report exposes rampant corruption

After the damning findings of an inquiry laid bare the looting of billions of dollars from South Africa’s state coffers under his predecessor, President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed it should “never [be] allowed to happen again”.

But South Africans are not so sure that lessons will be learnt. […]

The mammoth inquiry into corruption during the presidency of Jacob Zuma revealed how almost every arm of the state was suffocated and left bankrupt by leaders of the African National Congress (ANC), which has governed the country since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.

The report is a massive indictment of the party. President Ramaphosa himself was in the firing line with the judge-led panel stating that he should have done more to prevent the graft while he was Zuma’s deputy.

El País

Belgium gives back to Congo the only thing left of its national hero, Patrice Lumumba: A tooth

In 1884 Belgium became the metropolis of the colossus that is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a colonization process that culminated in an assassination and the whim of a drunken police officer.

On January 17, 1961, Prime Minister Patrice Emery Lumumba, overthrown by a coup d’état promoted by Belgium and the CIA – which maintained that he had ties to communism – was executed in a forest in the eastern region of Katanga. However, the plan to completely erase any trace of the crime by dissolving the body in sulfuric acid did not quite work. A Belgian gendarme, Gérard Soete, who was completely drunk, pulled two teeth from the corpse “as a hunting trophy,” as he confessed in 1999. One of those two teeth, the only thing that remains of Lumumba, arrived on Wednesday by plane in a coffin to Congo. The coffin will now travel the country on a journey that will culminate in its burial on June 30, the 62nd anniversary of the independence of the DRC, in a mausoleum in Kinshasa.

The return of this dental piece is “a relief” for the family and “for the Congolese people” who “will finally be able to mourn,” explains Jean-Jacques Lumumba, great-nephew of the deposed leader, by telephone from Paris. But that gesture, more than half a century after the assassination, is “insufficient.” “It is necessary for the justice system to clarify this heinous crime and thus end impunity in Congo.”

Xinhua

China to continue measures for flood control, disaster relief

China will adopt continued measures for flood control and disaster relief to earnestly protect people’s lives and property, according to a decision made at the State Council’s Executive Meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday. […]

Forecast suggests relatively more extreme weather events in this year’s flood season, and the main rain belt is stair-stepping northward recently. […]

“Flooding in southern China came early this year. It is imperative to keep major rivers and large reservoirs safe during the flooding season, and ensure that the people’s lives and property are well protected. The northern regions should also make contingency plans and comb through and defuse potential risks,” Li said.

Al Jazeera

Taliban say Afghanistan earthquake rescue efforts almost complete

Aid has started to arrive in a remote part of Afghanistan where an earthquake killed at least 1,000 people, as Taliban officials said the rescue operation was almost complete.

The magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck early on Wednesday about 160km (100 miles) southeast of Kabul, in arid mountains dotted with small settlements near the border with Pakistan.

The Hindu

India reopens Embassy in Kabul

In a major step towards re-establishing its presence in Afghanistan, India sent a “technical team” of officials to be based in Kabul, reopening its Embassy on Thursday. India also sent its first consignment of earthquake relief assistance to Afghanistan…

The move to reopen the embassy, that comes more than ten months after the government shut down the Indian embassy, and pulled out all Indian personnel after the Ghani government fell, marks a reversal of the government’s policy on engaging the Taliban, and comes a few weeks after a team headed by senior MEA official J.P. Singh travelled to Kabul to meet with the Taliban-appointed acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mottaqi and acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, and received specific assurances on security for the deployment. The Indian embassy will become the 15th mission to be open in Kabul with staff deployed there under the Taliban regime, along with Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, European Union and four Central Asian states. The U.S. has delegated its diplomatic functions to the Qatari embassy there.

Ars Technica

How hiring the wrong medical “expert” derailed US pandemic response

While one congressional committee seems to be grabbing all the headlines recently, other investigations of the Trump administration have continued in the background. One of them is trying to determine how the US’s response to the coronavirus pandemic went so wrong that the country ended up with over a million deaths and one of the worst per-capita death rates in the world. In its own words, the committee’s goal is “to ensure the American people receive a full accounting of what went wrong and to determine what corrective steps are necessary to ensure our nation is better prepared for any future public health crisis.”

In its latest report, released on Tuesday, the committee details the White House career of Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no infectious disease experience. Atlas’ hiring by the White House was expected to be so controversial that he was initially instructed to hide his staff ID from the actual government public health experts. Yet he quickly became a driving force for the adoption of policies that would achieve herd immunity by allowing most of the US population to be infected—even as other officials denied that this was the policy.

Atlas’ lack of relevant expertise raises questions as to why he was hired in the first place.




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