Monday, April 25, 2022
Musk buys Twitter, Trump held in contempt, missing Texas National Guard member found, Depp trial hears more recordings, Meta to open physical store and more.
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Happy Monday. Here’s what is happening:
It’s official: Twitter has reached a deal with Tesla's Elon Musk to purchase the company and take it private at $54.20 per share in cash. The transaction is valued at approximately $44 billion, according to a news release published at 2:50pm ET.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk reaches deal to acquire Twitter for approximately $44B.
"Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated," said Mr. Musk. "I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it."
Twitter stock was up over 5.5 percent Monday afternoon amid news of a deal:
A New York judge has held former President Donald Trump in contempt of court and ordered him to pay $10,000 a day until he turns over documents that have been subpoenaed by the state attorney general, NBC News reports:
Attorney General Letitia James had sought the fine as a way to force the former president to turn over documents her investigators say they need as part of their civil probe into the Trump Organization's business practices.
In a pair of tweets, James hailed Justice Arthur Engoron's ruling as "a major victory."
"Today, justice prevailed. Our investigation into Donald Trump and the Trump Organization’s financial dealings will continue undeterred because no one is above the law," James wrote.
In a court filing earlier this month, James' office said Trump had been trying to stonewall their long-running investigation into whether he and his company manipulated financial statements.
In court filings, her office alleged that it has “uncovered substantial evidence establishing numerous misrepresentations in Mr. Trump’s financial statements provided to banks, insurers, and the Internal Revenue Service.”
Trump and his company have denied any wrongdoing, with the former president calling the probe "a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt of all time."
Trump's lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling.
CNN has obtained 2,319 text messages that former President Donald Trump's White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sent and received between Election Day 2020 and President Joe Biden's inauguration:
The vast trove of texts offers the most revealing picture to date of how Trump's inner circle, supporters and Republican lawmakers worked behind the scenes to try to overturn the election results and then reacted to the violence that effort unleashed at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
The logs, which Meadows selectively provided to the House committee investigating the January 6 attack, show how the former chief of staff was at the nexus of sprawling conspiracy theories baselessly claiming the election had been stolen. They also demonstrate how he played a key role in the attempts to stop Biden's certification on January 6.
The never-before-seen texts include messages from Trump's family -- daughter Ivanka Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner and son Donald Trump Jr. -- as well as White House and campaign officials, Cabinet members, Republican Party leaders, January 6 rally organizers, Rudy Giuliani, My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, Sean Hannity and other Fox hosts. There are also text exchanges with more than 40 current and former Republican members of Congress, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mo Brooks of Alabama and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.
CBS News reports that text messages obtained show Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene asked Meadows about martial law.
Fox News reported over the weekend that Hunter Biden's most prominent investment partner had an official sit-down with Vice President Joe Biden in 2010, one of 19 visits visits Eric Schwerin paid to the White House, according to visitor logs.
The Associated Press has an interview with Ukraine’s foreign minister, who is urging the United Nation’s to press Russia for an evacuation of Mariupol:
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told The Associated Press in an interview Monday he was concerned that by visiting Moscow before traveling to Kyiv, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres could be vulnerable to falling into a Kremlin “trap” in the war.
“Many other foreign officials were trapped visiting Moscow and played around just to show the supremacy of Russian diplomacy and how great they are and how they dictate the world how to behave,” he said.
Guterres “should focus primarily on one issue: evacuation of Mariupol,” Kuleba said, referring to the the seaside city where an estimated 100,000 people are trapped while a contingent of Ukrainian fighters hold out against Russian forces in a steel mill where hundreds of civilians also are taking shelter.
“This is really something that the U.N. is capable to do. And if he demonstrates political will, character and integrity, I hope that will allow us to make one step forward,” he said.
From The Chicago Sun Times: A new book, making headlines for catching House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in a lie, also details Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s strong pushback to the Biden team rejecting her for vice president on the grounds her Thailand birth to an American father would give rise to distracting birther lies and possibly litigation:
“This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future” by Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, both New York Times political writers, reveals a conversation McCarthy, the California Republican, had about how to get former President Donald Trump to resign following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Martin and Burns write how Duckworth impressed the Biden vice-presidential search team and “for a moment, it seemed the running mate might be Tammy Duckworth.”
Duckworth was born in Thailand; her mother was Thai and her father an American. Biden’s lawyers were worried that the Trump campaign or allies would go to court to claim she was not a “natural-born citizen.” They did not want a court battle.
Biden raised the matter with Duckworth, “gingerly … Duckworth pushed back hard on the Biden team, arguing that they should not preemptively surrender to the threat of birther-style litigation. She reminded them that she had been attacked in racist and xenophobic terms in past campaigns, and that she had prevailed.
“I’ve beaten every a--h--- who’s come after me with that,” she said. Biden’s reply was rueful. It’s not a question of whether you’re eligible, he said. It’s just a question of whether we want this to become a distraction in the campaign.
“The senator got the sense that Biden felt bad about the message he was conveying to her. His campaign was about to engage in a preemptive surrender to the most vicious of Donald Trump’s political tactics — to a version of the same lie that had made Trump a celebrity folk hero to the paranoid right.”
Fox News reports the body of the Texas National Guard member who went missing while attempting to rescue migrants from drowning while crossing into the U.S. from Mexico was found Monday.
Texas Army National Guard Specialist Bishop E. Evans, 22, went missing near Eagle Pass Friday while attempting to rescue two migrants who "appeared to be drowning while crossing the river from Mexico into the U.S.," according to the Texas Military Department.
Multiple sources initially confirmed to Fox News that Evans body was found and recovered in Eagle Pass, Texas Monday morning.
Rep. Tony Gonzales’ office separately told Fox News Digital that the Republican congressman received information from Border Patrol that Evans’ body was found Monday morning.
"This morning SPC Evans’ body was found and identified by local authorities," Gonzales said in a statement provided to Fox News Digital. "This young soldier made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of protecting and serving our country. He will never be forgotten."
The Texas Military Department subsequently released a statement publicly confirming that Evans, assigned to Operation Lone Star, "has been found deceased following an exhaustive interagency search."
"We are devastated by the loss of a member of our Guard family," Maj. Gen. Tom Suelzer, Adjutant General for Texas, said in a statement. "We recognize the selflessness of this heroic Soldier who put his life above others in service to our state and national security. The Texas Military Department sends our deepest condolences to the family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, said he was "heartbroken" after learning of Evans’ passing.
Dive teams were forced to halt their operations Saturday evening as the river’s current continued at an increased pace, making dive operations very challenging. Search and rescue operations began again early Sunday morning, with the addition of three airboats from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
In a previous statement to Fox News, the Texas Military Department said Texas Rangers have determined from initial reports that the two migrants "were involved in illicit transnational narcotics trafficking."
Jurors hearing testimony in Johnny Depp’s libel lawsuit against his ex-wife on Monday listened to audio recordings in which he referred to the violence that could ensue if their arguments were allowed to escalate, The Associated Press reports:
“The next move, if I don’t walk away ... it’s going to be a bloodbath, like it was on the island,” Depp says on the recording.
In other audio clips, Depp loudly shouts vulgarities at his wife, calling her a degrading name and yelling, “You stupid f—-” at her.
Depp winced on the stand as the clips were played, while Heard appeared to fight back tears.
Depp is suing Heard for libel over a 2018 op-ed piece she wrote in The Washington Post. She refers to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”
The clips were part of a grueling cross-examination of Depp that concluded late Monday morning, as he took the stand for a fourth day of testimony over his allegations that Heard falsely portrayed him as a domestic abuser.
WNBC-TV in New York reports that dozens of NYC teachers accused of faking COVID-19 vaccination cards have been placed on leave:
Several dozen New York City teachers and other school employees who officials said submitted fraudulent proof of COVID-19 vaccination were placed on leave as of Monday.
The United Federation of Teachers is challenging the disciplinary action, which it says violates its collective bargaining agreement. The employees in question were placed on leave after investigators determined that they had provided false vaccine cards, a spokesperson for the city Department of Education said.
“Fraudulent vaccination cards are not only illegal, they also undermine the best line of protection our schools have against COVID-19 — universal adult vaccination," the spokesperson, Nathaniel Styer, said in a statement. "We immediately moved to put these employees — fewer than 100 — on leave without pay.”
A COVID-19 vaccination mandate took effect for New York City school employees last fall and was later expanded to include all city employees.
The school vaccination rule was a key component of the city's policy of opening all classrooms to in-person learning this academic year, rather than offering a remote option as some school districts did.
The UFT said in a notice of claim filed Friday that about 82 of its members — including teachers, school psychologists and others — were notified last week that they were being placed on unpaid leave because they had provided false proof of vaccination.
The union said in the notice, a first step toward filing a lawsuit, that the employees should not have been disciplined without a due process hearing and that the action violates the collective bargaining agreement between the city and the union.
-The Associated Press reports that a Texas appeals court has delayed the execution of a woman amid growing doubts about whether she fatally beat her 2-year-old daughter in a case that has garnered the support of lawmakers, celebrities and even some of the jurors who sentenced her to death.
-The Kansas City Star reports that a judge has tossed the state’s Republican-drawn congressional map, finding the Legislature intentionally diluted minority votes in a partisan and political gerrymander that violated the state constitution.
Breaking News: A state court in Kansas rejected a Republican-drawn map of congressional districts as an unconstitutional gerrymander.
-CBS News reports the Supreme Court wrestled with a legal fight Monday between a former high school football coach who lost his job after praying on the 50-yard-line and the Washington school district that once employed him, in a case that could bolster religious rights in public schools.
-The Washington Post reports that a two-star general in the U.S. Air Force was found guilty Saturday of sexual assault, marking the first court-martial and conviction of a general officer in the military branch’s 74-year history.
-The Associated Press reports that North Dakota’s longest-serving state senator is resigning following a report that he had traded scores of text messages with a man jailed on child pornography charges.
-UPI reports that federal authorities are investigating a failed extreme aerobatic stunt in Arizona over the weekend in which two pilots tried to swap airplanes in mid-flight.
-WJTV-TV in Miami reports that the judge in the Parkland school shooting case declared Monday that the jury selection process will start over, conceding she should have questioned 11 potential jurors who said they would not follow the law before she dismissed them.
-KMSP-TV in Minneapolis reports that police in Western Wisconsin are now investigating the disappearance of a 10-year-old as homicide after her body was found in a wooded area near a trail in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.
-WFAA-TV in Dallas has live coverage of the trial for accused serial killer Billy Chemirmir, who allegedly killed 18 older women in Texas. The first jury to hear a case against him was deadlocked, leading to a mistrial.
-NBC News reports that the Coast Guard has suspended the search for three children who went missing after being seen entering the Mississippi River in New Orleans Saturday.
-CNBC reports that Meta is opening its first retail location in an effort to sell people its Oculus virtual reality headsets and its idea of the ‘metaverse.’
Facebook-owner Meta is set to open its first physical store where shoppers can try out and buy virtual reality headsets and other gadgets as the company plots a course to take its highly touted metaverse mainstream