Thursday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

George Santos is still dominating the political news. At this point you have to question everything this guy says and does. Is is name really George Santos? Is he even an American citizen? It’s wild. I’ll get to that, but first I want to share two other interesting stories. 

President Biden vs. the Secret Service

Major Biden

Major Biden

According to a new book by Chris Whipple, President Biden doesn’t trust the Secret Service and believes that many agents are sympathetic to Trump. Andrew Feinberg at The Independent: Biden won’t speak freely near Secret Service and thinks agents lied about dog bite incident, book reveals.

President Joe Biden was so disturbed by the Secret Service’s handling of text messages sought by the House January 6 select committee that he stopped speaking candidly in the presence of special agents assigned to his protection detail, a new book on the Biden White House has revealed.

In The Fight of His Life: Inside Joe Biden’s White House, author Chris Whipple writes that Mr Biden’s discomfort with the post-Trump era agency began early on in his presidency, when it became clear that “some of” the agents charged with protecting him from assassination were strong supporters of the man he defeated in the 2020 election, former president Donald Trump.

According to a copy of the book obtained by The Independent ahead of its 17 January 2023 release date, Whipple writes that Mr Biden simply did not trust the agents, and noted that his attitude is a sharp contrast from how he felt during his years as vice president, when he’d become very close with the agents on his detail. He added that the change in Mr Biden’s view is also a result of the increased size of the detail assigned to the chief executive and suggested that the president shouldn’t have been surprised by the presence of “Maga sympathisers” among his bodyguards because the Secret Service “is full of white ex-cops from the South who tend to be deeply conservative”.

Biden believes a Secret Service agent lied about being bitten by the Biden’s dog Major.

He added that Mr Biden’s trust in his protection detail was further shaken by a March 2021 incident involving a Secret Service agent and his then-three-year-old German Shepherd, Major.

Major, who Mr Biden adopted from the Delaware Humane Association in 2018, was the first rescue dog to serve as First Canine. He allegedly bit a Secret Service agent in the private residence portion of the White House on 8 March 2021, and was temporarily relocated to Delaware for training in the wake of that incident, though he later bit a National Park Service worker just after returning to the White House at the end of that month.

According to Whipple, Mr Biden was quite sceptical about the details of the first alleged biting incident. He writes that although no one disputed that an incident had taken place, the president “wasn’t buying the details,” particularly the alleged location of the biting.

Whipple reveals that Mr Biden expressed his concerns to a friend while he was giving a tour of the White House family quarters. The president reportedly pointed to the alleged location of the biting — on the second floor of the executive mansion — and told the friend: “Look, the Secret Service are never up here. It didn’t happen”.

He added that Mr Biden thought “somebody was lying … about the way the incident had gone down”.

Read more at The Independent. 

Junk Science in the U.S. Justice System.

I want to recommend this investigation of junk science in the U.S. courts at ProPublica. 

It’s very long, but if you’re at all interested in how our justice system works–and doesn’t work–it’s a must read. It’s about a former cop who dreamed up a way people who call 911 are actually guilty of the crimes they are reporting and who, with the help of ambitious prosecutors got judges to accept this utterly unscientific “research.” This is far from the only example of junk science being used to convict innocent people. The introductory paragraphs

Tracy Harpster, a deputy police chief from suburban Dayton, Ohio, was hunting for praise. He had a business to promote: a miracle method to determine when 911 callers are actually guilty of the crimes they are reporting. “I know what a guilty father, mother or boyfriend sounds like,” he once said.

Harpster tells police and prosecutors around the country that they can do the same. Such linguistic detection is possible, he claims, if you know how to analyze callers’ speech patterns — their tone of voice, their pauses, their word choice, even their grammar. Stripped of its context, a misplaced word as innocuous as “hi” or “please” or “somebody” can reveal a murderer on the phone.

So far, researchers who have tried to corroborate Harpster’s claims have failed. The experts most familiar with his work warn that it shouldn’t be used to lock people up.

Prosecutors know it’s junk science too. But that hasn’t stopped some from promoting his methods and even deploying 911 call analysis in court to win convictions.

In 2016, Missouri prosecutor Leah Askey wrote Harpster an effusive email, bluntly detailing how she skirted legal rules to exploit his methods against unwitting defendants.

“Of course this line of research is not ‘recognized’ as a science in our state,” Askey wrote, explaining that she had sidestepped hearings that would have been required to assess the method’s legitimacy. She said she disguised 911 call analysis in court by “getting creative … without calling it ‘science.’”

“I was confident that if a jury could hear this information and this research,” she added, “they would be as convinced as I was of the defendant’s guilt.”

Askey used the technique to convict a man named Russ Faria of murdering his wife in a high-profile case that has become the subject of documentaries, books, and podcasts. Faria was later found not guilty and released after years in prison. 

The Latest on the George Santos Scandal.

Andrew Kaczinski and Em Steck at CNN: More false claims from George Santos about his work, education and family history emerge.

Rep.-elect George Santos made additional false claims over the years about his family history, work history and education in campaign appearances over the years, a review of statements made in two of his campaigns for Congress found.

CNN’s KFile uncovered more falsehoods from Santos, including claims he was forced to leave a New York City private school when his family’s real estate assets took a downturn and stating he represented Goldman Sachs at a top financial conference where he berated the company for investing in renewables.

CNN also reviewed more instances of Santos providing additional false history of his family’s background. In one interview, Santos said his mother’s family’s historical Jewish name was “Zabrovsky,” and later appeared to operate a GoFundMe campaign for a pet charity (which he falsely claimed was a 501(c)(3) nonprofit) under that alias. Genealogists CNN previously spoke with found no evidence of Jewish or Ukrainian heritage in his family tree.

In another, he said his mother, whose family has lived in Brazil since the late 1800s, was a White immigrant from Belgium.

Since reports first surfaced about his false claims, Santos has made efforts to downplay his fabrications as mere “embellishments.” But the previously unreported claims from Santos illustrate a pattern of fabricating details about his life, often in service of presenting a more compelling or interesting personal narrative. The Nassau County district attorney’s office said Wednesday that it is looking into Santos’ fabrications, though it did not specify the falsehoods it would explore.

In interviews over the past few days, Santos admitted to lying about parts of his resume, including graduating from college, but he told the New York Post that the misrepresentation of his work history at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup was a “poor choice of words.” There is no record he worked at the top financial institutions in the country, as he had previously claimed.

Santos also denied that he falsely called himself Jewish, claiming he “never claimed to be Jewish” but jokingly said he was “Jew-ish” to the New York Post. He also falsely claimed that his grandparents “survived the Holocaust” and fled Europe to escape Jewish persecution. But CNN found that Santos called himself an “American Jew” and “Latino Jew” on multiple occasions. The Republican Jewish Coalition disinvited Santos from appearing at any of its events because he “misrepresented his heritage.”

Read more details on Santos’ lies at the CNN link.

When did Santos’ mother die? Is she even dead?

Roger Sollenberger and William Bredderman at The Daily Beast: George Santos’ Massive Campaign Loans May Not Be Legal.

Even as Rep.-elect George Santos (R-NY) embarks on his apology tour, admitting he lied to voters for years about some of the most fundamental facts of his life, there’s been one mystery that Santos has been less than clear about: where his purported millions came from.

The Daily Beast now has at least part of the answer—the identities of four Santos corporate clients. And while this new revelation might put Santos in even more hot water, what Santos did with his newfound riches could be even more damning.

Santos has already admitted using cash from his company, the Devolder Organization, to fund his campaign—a move campaign finance experts say could add up to an unlawful $700,000 corporate contribution.

That’s because, while candidates for federal office may give unlimited amounts of their own money to their campaign, they cannot expressly tap corporate accounts to do so.

Santos confirmed to The Daily Beast on Wednesday that he withdrew money from the firm to underwrite his campaign. He made the same claim in an interview on Monday, telling WABC radio host and Santos donor John Catsimatidis that the combined $700,000 in loans—scattered in varying increments across a period of more than a year—“was the money I paid myself through the Devolder Organization.” (Santos’ most recent financial disclosure shows a $750,000 salary from the Devolder Organization, along with dividends valued between $1 million and $5 million.)

Jordan Libowitz, communications director of government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told The Daily Beast that the government imposes strict rules on how candidates can support their campaigns.

“You can fund a campaign with your own money to whatever extent you’d like, but the deal is it has to be your money,” Libowitz said. “Two major problems here. One, if it’s the company’s money, it’s not his money. If it were Santos personally doing business as the company—that is, if it were his bank accounts—that’s okay. But this is an actual corporation, and you can’t make a corporation to run money through to your campaign.”

The reason, he explained, is that such a scheme hides the origin of the money.

Read more at the link.

The Washington Post: Nassau County district attorney opens investigation into Rep.-elect George Santos.

The Nassau County district attorney announced that she is opening an investigation into Rep.-elect George Santos (R-N.Y.), whose surprise victory in November was quickly followed by revelations that he lied about his business experience, educational background and family ancestry.

The district attorney, Anne T. Donnelly (R), said in a statement: “The numerous fabrications and inconsistencies associated” with Santos “are nothing short of stunning.” The residents in the congressional district “must have an honest and accountable representative in Congress” and “if a crime was committed in this county, we will prosecute it.” Donnelly’s spokesman, Brendan Brosh, said in a statement, “We are looking into the matter.”

Days after an explosive New York Times story on Dec. 19 detailed lies Santos told about his background, Santos gave a handful of interviews in which he acknowledged he was untruthful about having worked at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup and graduating from college. He said he never claimed to be Jewish, despite previous public comments about his heritage.

Also unclear is the exact source of the $700,000 Santos claimed to have loaned his campaign in 2022, just two years after filing a financial disclosure report during an unsuccessful 2020 congressional run that stated he had no major assets or earned income….

News of the investigation came as another detail in Santos’s biography unraveled Wednesday.

During his 2020 congressional race, he told a dramatic story on a podcast about how a prestigious private school he attended refused to help his financially struggling family months before his graduation.

In the October 2020 interview, which resurfaced on social media Wednesday, Santos, referring to his parents, said: “They sent me to a good prep school — which was Horace Mann Prep in the Bronx. And in my senior year of prep school, unfortunately, my parents fell on hard times.” Santos went on to say that at the time his family couldn’t “afford a $2,500 tuition” and “I left school [with] four months till graduation.”

But a spokesman for the Horace Mann School told The Washington Post that the school has no record of Santos attending the institution.

The Feds are also investigating Santos. The New York Times: George Santos Faces Federal and Local Investigations, and Public Dismay.

Federal and local prosecutors are investigating whether Representative-elect George Santos committed any crimes involving his finances and lies about his background on the campaign trail.

The federal investigation, which is being run by the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn, is focused at least in part on his financial dealings, according to a person familiar with the matter. The investigation was said to be in its early stages.

In a separate inquiry, the Nassau County, N.Y., district attorney’s office said it was looking into the “numerous fabrications and inconsistencies associated with Congressman-elect Santos” during his successful 2022 campaign to represent parts of Long Island and Queens….

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on Wednesday. The office’s interest in Mr. Santos was reported earlier by ABC News, and the Nassau County inquiry was first reported by Newsday.

Both investigations followed reporting in The New York Times that uncovered that Mr. Santos had made false claims about his educational and professional background, including whether he worked at Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. The Times also found that Mr. Santos had omitted key details about his business on required financial disclosures.

Questions remain about how Mr. Santos has generated enough personal wealth to be able, as campaign finance filings show, to lend his campaign $700,000. Mr. Santos has said his money comes from his company, the Devolder Organization, but he has provided little information about its operations.

You can also check out this opinion piece by Jill Filipovic.

Also check out Peter Strzok on Santos’ Russian connections.

Read more at Strzok’s Substack page, Moscow Heat.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if more Santos revelations come out today. What do you think about all this? What other stories are you interested in?

10 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Have a nice Thursday!!

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. dakinikat says:

    I found a sport that I could love watching because of this man. I crushed hard on him and was amazed by his athletic abilities.

    Pelé has gone to the ancestors.

  4. NW Luna says:

  5. NW Luna says:

    That Harpster ‘technique’

    a miracle method to determine when 911 callers are actually guilty of the crimes they are reporting. “I know what a guilty father, mother or boyfriend sounds like,” he once said.

    Abso-effin-lutely nuts.

    • quixote says:

      So-called lie detector tests do barely better than random guesses, but they’re well made rockets to the moon compared to the Harpster nonsense.

      • bostonboomer says:

        There is a lot of junk science being used by police and prosecutors. Blood spatter, footprints, etc. Judges don’t know enough to evaluate the studies.