Good Monday Morning!
Liz Sheld will be back shortly, but the beginning of this week is a real doozy.
Violence broke out on Sunday in Trenton, New Jersey, at a 24-hour art festival. Twenty-two people, including a teenager, were injured, while the suspect, 33-year-old Tahaij Wells, is believed to have been killed by police.
The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office told CNN that the shooting appears to have been the result of a gang dispute, not related to terrorism. Another suspect, 23-year-old Amir Armstrong, has been charged on weapons offenses.
“It absolutely could have been worse given the confined space and the number of shots that appear to have been fired,” prosecutor Angelo Onofri said. Prior to the shooting, Onofri said that there were “numerous altercations” inside and outside the festival. Police had been trying to shut the festival down.
CNN did not report which gang is responsible for the violence. The notorious MS-13 gang has carried out numerous acts of gruesome murder, and President Donald Trump called them “animals.”
Meanwhile, at the FBI…
On Sunday, former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone told The Washington Post that an FBI informant met with him, posing as a Russian man offering damaging information on Hillary Clinton at the price of $2 million.
The Post reported that Stone met with the man in May 2016, in a meeting set up by Trump campaign aide Michael Caputo. Stone denied having any contact with Russians during the campaign. If the man, who called himself Henry Greenberg, was truly an FBI informant, Stone would have been telling the truth.
Stone said he rejected the offer from Greenberg. “You don’t understand Donald Trump,” Stone said he told the man. “He doesn’t pay for anything.”
Caputo told The Post that special counsel Robert Mueller is now investigating the campaign. Both he and Stone alleged that Greenberg was an FBI informant.
The Post reported that records do not indicate Greenberg was an FBI informant. Documents do show, however, that he has stated that he worked as an informant for the agency in the past, but that he said he stopped working for the agency after 2013.
Greenberg, for his part, denied that he was working on behalf of the FBI during the meeting. Caputo insisted otherwise.
“If you believe that [Greenberg] took time off from his long career as an FBI informant to reach out to us in his spare time, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I want to sell you,” he told the Post.
The Post seems to have concluded that Stone and Caputo were lying, and that Greenberg was not an FBI informant. More on this as it develops.
There will also be more on the FBI in this briefing — about the notorious Peter Strzok in particular — but first, more on The Washington Post.
Strike! Strike! Strike!
On Thursday, a large group of staffers at The Washington Post published a petition and a video urging Jeff Bezos to give them a raise — and significant benefits. The demands echoed the common identity politics push for closing the gender pay gap, along with pay gaps for other groups like racial minorities.
The workers did not threaten to strike, but such a threat was arguably implied. The president decided to champion the workers’ cause, and urge them to take to the picket lines.
“Washington Post employees want to go on strike because Bezos isn’t paying them enough,” Trump tweeted. “I think a really long strike would be a great idea. Employees would get more money and we would get rid of Fake News for an extended period of time! Is [The Washington Post] a registered lobbyist?”
Washington Post employees want to go on strike because Bezos isn’t paying them enough. I think a really long strike would be a great idea. Employees would get more money and we would get rid of Fake News for an extended period of time! Is @WaPo a registered lobbyist?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 17, 2018
The president may have a point, but mostly this seems to have been tongue-in-cheek. After all, even if The Washington Post stops running for a while, CNN and The New York Times will not.
Trump may have been responding to the Roger Stone story, and the constant suggestion that Trump’s campaign “colluded” with Russia to win the election.
Some have interpreted Trump’s final question, “Is The Washington Post a registered lobbyist?” as a suggestion that the Post attempts to advocate for Bezos in public and with the government. It seems more likely, however, that Trump was alleging that this paper supports Democrat causes and anti-Trump insinuations, so emblematic in that “Fake News” charge.
The WaPo union, the group behind the petition, released a statement disavowing Trump. “We welcome public support in our campaign to achieve a fair contract with The Washington Post,” the union stated. “However, we view President Trump’s tweet as an attack on us and our mission, and it is not helpful to our cause. Although we are pressing our case with our owner over workplace issues, we stand with Jeff Bezos and our fellow journalists in the fight to bring truth to light.”
While Trump was not opposing the general mission of “bringing truth to light,” the petitioners were probably smart to react negatively, as Bezos is probably rightly afraid of a long strike.
Back to the FBI.
The FBI agent who texted his mistress promising that they would “stop” Donald Trump from becoming president is willing to testify before Congress without an immunity deal. Aitan Goelman, the attorney for Peter Strzok, told The Washington Post that his client would not invoke his Fifth Amendment rights, and would be willing to testify. Goelman also confirmed this to Fox News.
Strzok “thinks that his position, character, and actions have all been misrepresented and caricatured, and he wants an opportunity to remedy that,” Goleman said.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told “Fox & Friends” Sunday morning that his panel had requested Strzok to appear “for quite some time now.”
“If an agreement is not reached in the next day or so to produce him voluntarily, we will issue [a] subpoena early this week,” he said.
The offer to testify came three days after Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report concluding that Strzok’s conversations with FBI attorney Lisa Page made it seem like investigative decisions in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails were motivated by bias against Donald Trump. Previous anti-Trump texts led to Strzok’s dismissal from the Mueller investigation.
Strzok’s story, as told in the inspector general report, was one of high tragedy, where the FBI agent’s anti-Trump bias may indeed have gotten Trump elected president.
Good guy with gun stops second carjacking.
An armed suspect injured two people and was himself killed in an attempted double carjacking Sunday afternoon at a Walmart in Tumwater, Wash., The Olympian reported. A driver was wounded as the suspect attempted to take control of his car. While the assailant attempted to hijack another vehicle, a civilian with a gun shot him.
Law enforcement interviewed the shooter, but given the assailant’s violent spree, it seems the civilian’s attack may have been justified.
While details may still emerge, it seems this case involved an armed civilian preventing a violent hijacker from killing others and taking their property by force.
Photo of the day.
On this day in 1815, Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte suffered his final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. Bonaparte had been exiled to the island of Elba, but he returned for a glorious last stand known as the “100 days.” This final defeat ended the period of French expansion begun during the French Revolution, but the shock waves of the revolution and Napoléon’s empire continued to rack Europe, leading to the July Revolution in 1830, a small uprising in Paris in 1832 (commemorated by Les Misérables), the revolutions of 1848, and more.