AUTHOR’S NOTE: This blog post contains a tweet containing a graphic video depicting a person being shot and killed. Reader discretion is strongly advised.
Earlier today, the police car dashcam video of the shooting and killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald at the hands of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke clearly shows that McDonald did not lunge at Van Dyke or any other police officer. In fact, the video shows that, even if McDonald intended to lunge at Van Dyke or a different officer (which is not 100% clear, although McDonald did turn around to face the squad car that the dashcam footage was recorded from right before being shot), he didn’t have time to do so before Van Dyke repeatedly shot McDonald. Van Dyke was immediately behind a white police van when he opened fire on McDonald, and, from the perspective of the dashcam, Van Dyke was shooting from left to right at McDonald.
Here’s the dashcam video:
McDonald was shot a total of 16 times by Van Drew, and McDonald died as a result of the shooting. Van Drew has been officially charged with first-degree murder, which, in Illinois, is punishable by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment (Illinois abolished the death penalty in 2011), although the case has not yet gone to trial.
Furthermore, Chicago Police have deleted security footage from a Burger King fast food restaurant near the site of the shooting, according to a report from Chicago NBC affiliate WMAQ-TV, citing a district manager for Burger King:
It’s clear to me that the Chicago Police Department tried to cover up evidence of one of their officers shooting and killing a black teenager. Whoever deleted the Burger King security camera footage should, if possible, be charged with destroying evidence or whatever applicable criminal charge would apply in this scenario.
Former Republican U.S. House Speaker and current lobbyist Dennis Hastert of Illinois, who presided over the lower branch of government for eight years from 1999 to 2007, has been indicted on federal criminal charges for his role in a scheme in which Hastert agreed to pay $3.5 million in hush money to a former acquaintance that he wronged for some reason:
Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been indicted on federal charges alleging he agreed to pay $3.5 million in apparent hush money to a longtime acquaintance blackmailing him, then lied to the FBI when asked about suspicious cash withdrawals from several banks, federal prosecutors said.
The stunning indictment of the longtime Republican powerhouse alleged he gave about $1.7 million in cash to the acquaintance, identified only as Individual A in the charges, to “compensate for and conceal (Hastert’s) prior misconduct” against Individual A that had occurred years earlier.
Hastert, 73, of Plano, was charged with one count each of structuring currency transactions to evade Currency Transaction Reports and making a false statement to the FBI, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He will be arraigned later at U.S. District Court in downtown Chicago.
The full indictment is available here.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Hastert, I’ll provide a bit of a refresher about who Hastert is. Hastert is a longtime member of the same Republican old boys network here in Illinois that has produced the likes of George Ryan of licenses-for-bribes infamy. During his tenure in the House, Hastert was a big supporter of pork-barrel spending projects (example of that here), especially if they benefited Northern Illinois and not other areas of Illinois and the rest of the country. As House Speaker, Hastert allegedly received tens of thousands of dollars from Turkish people that federal authorities were wiretapping. After Hastert left Congress, Hastert received a $35,000/month contract to lobby on behalf of Turkey.
However, Hastert isn’t being indicted over pork-barrel spending or his corrupt ties to Turkish interests. Instead, he’s being indicted for trying to evade federal currency transaction reports, which the federal government requires financial institutions in this country to file for any deposit, withdrawal, or other type of monetary transaction of more than $10,000. Hastert has also been indicted on a related charge of lying to the FBI about his scheme to pay millions of dollars in hush money to someone, whose identity was not revealed in the indictment for legal/privacy reasons, who he wronged. Although not confirmed, some sources are reporting that the charges may stem from actions that Hastert took when he was a high school teacher before entering electoral politics.
Just like his right-wing political cronies George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, Hastert blatantly violated federal laws. However, unlike Bush and Cheney, Hastert might actually have to serve time in prison for his crimes.
CNN is now reporting that U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will be charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Even though the military has not yet made a formal announcement regarding the Bergdahl case, CNN cited two sources, one of which was Sgt. Bergdahl’s attorney, in its report, which leads me to believe that CNN’s report is likely, but not certainly, accurate.
While the Republicans will inevitably use this opportunity to criticize President Barack Obama for swapping five Taliban members who were in U.S. custody in exchange for bringing Bergdahl back home, I will use this opportunity to defend the prisoner swap that brought Bergdahl back home to stand trial before our country’s military court system.
I think it’s absolutely disgusting that Republicans would rather allow the Haqqani terrorist network, a sworn enemy of the United States and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members, to effectively harbor an alleged criminal in Bergdahl than bring Bergdahl back to the U.S. to stand trial before a military court for desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. If it takes swapping five Taliban members for Bergdahl in order for Bergdahl to face military criminal charges for deserting the Army, that’s what it takes.
If a U.S. civilian fled to a foreign country to evade prosecution for crimes they allegedly committed in our country’s jurisdiction, the U.S. has, in my opinion, a responsibility to do everything necessary and proper to have the alleged criminal extradited back to the U.S. in order to stand trial here. The same principle applies with the Bergdahl case; the only differences are that Bergdahl is a U.S. Army member accused of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, Bergdahl was held in captivity by a sworn enemy of the U.S., and that Bergdahl will stand trial in a U.S. military court because of a prisoner swap between the Taliban and the United States.
I find it highly outrageous that 47 members of the United States Senate, all Republicans, signed a letter in a blatant attempt to undermine attempts at negotiating a deal with Iran to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons, apparently violating the federal Logan Act in signing the letter.
The 47 Senators who signed the Cotton Letter are as follows:
- Richard Shelby of Alabama
- Jeff Sessions of Alabama
- Dan Sullivan of Alaska
- John McCain of Arizona
- John Boozman of Arkansas
- Tom Cotton of Arkansas, the ringleader of the effort to undermine diplomacy with Iran
- Cory Gardner of Colorado
- Marco Rubio of Florida
- Johnny Isakson of Georgia
- David Perdue of Georgia
- Mike Crapo of Idaho
- Jim Risch of Idaho
- Mark Kirk of Illinois
- Chuck Grassley of Iowa
- Joni Ernst of Iowa
- Pat Roberts of Kansas
- Jerry Moran of Kansas
- Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Majority Leader
- Rand Paul of Kentucky
- David Vitter of Louisiana
- Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
- Roger Wicker of Mississippi
- Roy Blunt of Missouri
- Steve Daines of Montana
- Deb Fischer of Nebraska
- Ben Sasse of Nebraska
- Dean Heller of Nevada
- Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire
- Richard Burr of North Carolina
- Thom Tillis of North Carolina
- John Hoeven of North Dakota
- Rob Portman of Ohio
- Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma
- James Lankford of Oklahoma
- Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania
- Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
- Tim Scott of South Carolina
- John Thune of South Dakota
- Mike Rounds of South Dakota
- John Cornyn of Texas
- Ted Cruz of Texas
- Orrin Hatch of Utah, the Senate President Pro Tempore
- Mike Lee of Utah
- Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
- Ron Johnson of Wisconsin
- Mike Enzi of Wyoming
- John Barrasso of Wyoming
All 47 of those individuals who I named are traitors to this country who are more interested in starting World War III by undermining the sitting President of the United States and allowing Iran to develop nuclear weapons that they could use to bomb the United States and our allies than doing anything that would actually be productive, such as fixing crumbling roads and bridges, making it easier for Americans to go to college, helping the private sector create more good-paying jobs, and so on.
Also, regarding the so-called “pro-Israel” lobby’s support for the Cotton Letter, the Cotton Letter puts Israel, as well as other U.S. allies and the U.S. itself, of even greater danger of an attack by Iranian forces, since the Cotton Letter is designed to undermine efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons that could be used by Iran in an attack on the United States and its allies.
I’m calling for the U.S. Justice Department to bring up all 47 of the senators who signed the Cotton Letter on federal criminal charges for violating the Logan Act, which legally prohibits U.S. citizens who are not authorized diplomats from negotiating with a foreign government.