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Durham Distances Himself From Furor in Right-Wing Media Over Filing – The New York Times

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The special counsel implicitly acknowledged that White House internet data he discussed, which conservative outlets have portrayed as proof of spying on the Trump White House, came from the Obama era.

WASHINGTON — John H. Durham, the Trump-era special counsel scrutinizing the investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference, distanced himself on Thursday from false reports by right-wing news outlets that a motion he recently filed said Hillary Clinton’s campaign had paid to spy on Trump White House servers.

Citing a barrage of such reports on Fox News and elsewhere based on the prosecutor’s Feb. 11 filing, defense lawyers for a Democratic-linked cybersecurity lawyer, Michael Sussmann, have accused the special counsel of including unnecessary and misleading information in filings “plainly intended to politicize this case, inflame media coverage and taint the jury pool.”

In a filing on Thursday, Mr. Durham defended himself, saying those accusations about his intentions were “simply not true.” He said he had “valid and straightforward reasons” for including the information in the Feb. 11 filing that set off the firestorm, while disavowing responsibility for how certain news outlets had interpreted and portrayed it.

“If third parties or members of the media have overstated, understated or otherwise misinterpreted facts contained in the government’s motion, that does not in any way undermine the valid reasons for the government’s inclusion of this information,” he wrote.

But even as he did not acknowledge any problem with how he couched his filing last week, Mr. Durham said he would make future filings under seal if they contained “information that legitimately gives rise to privacy issues or other concerns that might overcome the presumption of public access to judicial documents.”

Former President Donald J. Trump has seized on the inaccurate reporting to declare that there is now “indisputable evidence” of a Clinton campaign conspiracy against him — and to suggest that there ought to be executions. Mr. Trump, Fox News hosts and others have also criticized mainstream journalists for not covering the purported revelation.

The dispute traces back to a pretrial motion in the case Mr. Durham has brought against Mr. Sussmann accusing him of making a false statement during a September 2016 meeting with the F.B.I. where he relayed concerns about possible cyberlinks between Mr. Trump and Russia. The bureau later dismissed those as unfounded.

Mr. Durham says Mr. Sussmann falsely told the F.B.I. official he had no clients, but was really there on behalf of both the Clinton campaign and a technology executive named Rodney Joffe. Mr. Sussmann denies ever saying that, while maintaining he was only there on behalf of Mr. Joffe — not the campaign.

Several sentences of the filing recounted a second meeting, in February 2017, where Mr. Sussmann had presented different concerns about odd internet data and Russia to the C.I.A., which came from the same cybersecurity researchers who developed the suspicions he had presented to the F.B.I.

At the C.I.A. meeting, Mr. Sussmann shared concerns about data that suggested that someone using a Russian-made smartphone may have been connecting to networks at Trump Tower and the White House, among other places.

Mr. Sussmann had obtained that information from Mr. Joffe. The court filing also stated that Mr. Joffe’s company, Neustar, had helped maintain internet-related servers for the White House, and accused Mr. Joffe — whom Mr. Durham has not charged with any crime — and his associates of having “exploited this arrangement” by mining certain records to gather derogatory information about Mr. Trump.

In the fall, The New York Times had reported on Mr. Sussmann’s C.I.A. meeting and the concerns he had relayed about the data suggesting the presence of Russian-made YotaPhones — smartphones that are rarely seen in the United States — in proximity to Mr. Trump and in the White House.

But over the weekend, the conservative news media treated those sentences in Mr. Durham’s filing as a new revelation while significantly embellishing what it had said. Mr. Durham, some outlets inaccurately reported, had said he had discovered that the Clinton campaign had paid Mr. Joffe’s company to spy on Mr. Trump. But the campaign had not paid his company, and the filing did not say so. Some outlets also quoted Mr. Durham’s filing as using the word “infiltrate,” a word it did not contain.

Most important, the coverage about purported spying on the Trump White House was premised on the idea that the White House network data involved came from when Mr. Trump was president. But Mr. Durham’s filing did not say when it was from.

Lawyers for a Georgia Institute of Technology data scientist who helped analyze the Yota data said on Monday that the data came from the Obama presidency. Mr. Sussmann’s lawyers said the same in a filing on Monday night complaining about Mr. Durham’s conduct.

Mr. Durham did not directly address that basic factual dispute. But his explanation for why he included the information about the matter in the earlier filing implicitly confirmed that Mr. Sussmann had conveyed concerns about White House data that came from before Mr. Trump was president.

The purpose of the earlier filing was to ask a judge to look at potential conflicts of interest on Mr. Sussmann’s legal team. Mr. Durham included those paragraphs, he wrote, in part because one of the potential conflicts was that a member of the defense had worked for the White House “during the relevant events that involved” the White House.

The defense lawyer in question is Michael Bosworth, who was a deputy White House counsel in the Obama administration.

Separately on Thursday, lawyers for Mr. Sussmann filed a pretrial motion asking a judge to dismiss the case.

They argued that even if Mr. Sussmann did falsely say at the F.B.I. meeting that he had no client — which they deny — that would not rise to a “material” false statement, meaning one affecting a government decision. The decision facing the F.B.I. was whether to open an investigation about the concerns he relayed at that meeting, and it would have done so regardless, they said.

Mr. Durham has said Mr. Sussmann’s supposed lie was material because had the F.B.I. known that he was acting “as a paid advocate for clients with a political or business agenda,” agents might have asked more questions or taken additional steps before opening an investigation.

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After Buffalo Massacre, Gov. Kathy Hochul Calls for Social Media Companies to Crack Down on Hate Speech – Vanity Fair

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Gov. Hochul mourns the loss of life in her hometown and vows change.

May 15, 2022

Image may contain Human Person Hat Clothing Apparel Footwear Shoe Skin Sunglasses Accessories Accessory and Crowd

BUFFALO, NY – MAY 14:People watch the crime scene of an active shooter across the street from the Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue and Riley Street in Buffalo on May 14, 2022. (Photo by Libby March for The Washington Post via Getty Images)The Washington Post

In one of the deadliest racist massacres in recent American history, a white 18-year-old has been accused of shooting and killing 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday. Authorities said Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York, shot 11 Black people and two white people in a rampage that he broadcast live.

A 180-page manifesto believed to have been posted on the internet by Gendron before the attacks focused on “replacement theory,” a white-supremacist belief that non-whites will eventually replace white people because they have higher birth rates, according to a copy viewed by ABC News.

“This individual came here with the express purpose of taking as many Black lives as he could,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said at a news conference Sunday.

Since taking office in August, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has faced several natural and man-made disasters, ranging from deadly Hurricane Ida to the recent subway shootings in Brooklyn. But for the Buffalo native, the racial-motivated mass shooting in her hometown is personal.

In an interview on ABC News on Sunday morning, Hochul expressed her grief and outrage: “Our hearts re broken—and I am angry. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. I will leave no stone unturned to protect the people of this community.”

Democrats lashed out against Republicans who are traditionally strong advocates of the Second Amendment, including the GOP’s third-highest ranking member in the House, upstate New York Rep. Elise Stefanik.

“Did you know: @EliseStefanik pushes white replacement theory?” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) tweeted on Saturday, referring to criticism of her congressional campaign’s Facebook ads hyping fears of a “permanent election insurrection.”

Stefanik, known as a moderate Republican turned Trump acolyte, tweeted a message of condolence upon hearing the news but has not commented on Kinzinger’s allegation.

“We pray for their families. But after we pray—after we get up off of our knees—we’ve got to demand change. We’ve got to demand justice,” New York State Attorney General Letitia James said while attending church services in Buffalo on Sunday morning. “This was domestic terrorism, plain and simple.”

For Hochul, the massacre reflected a failure not just to limit access to guns but to curb the ability to openly share and distribute hate speech.

The governor told ABC that the heads of technology companies “need to be held accountable and assure all of us that they’re taking every step humanly possible to be able to monitor this information.”

“How these depraved ideas are fermenting on social media–it’s spreading like a virus now,” she said, adding that a lack of oversight could lead to others emulating the shooter.

The Buffalo shooting prompted the New York Police Department to provide increased security at Black churches around New York City “in the event of any copycat,” the NYPD said in a statement.

“While we assess there is no threat to New York City stemming from this incident,” the NYPD said in its statement, “out of an abundance of caution, we have shifted counterterrorism and patrol resources to give special attention to a number of locations and areas including major houses of worship in communities of color.”

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Sunday Reading: Social-Media Disrupters – The New Yorker

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Sunday Reading: Social-Media Disrupters

Elon Musk Ivanka Trump and others at a black tie event cheersing their drinks.

Photograph by Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg / Getty

This past week, Elon Musk declared that he would allow Donald Trump back on Twitter, then wavered over his planned purchase of the social-media behemoth. As billionaire tech magnates dominate the public square and transform how we consume information, we’re bringing you a selection of pieces about social-media disrupters and their impact.

<a aria-label="More from the Archive” class=”external-link external-link-embed__hed-link button” data-event-click=”"element":"ExternalLink","outgoingURL":"https://www.newyorker.com/newsletter/classics"” href=”https://www.newyorker.com/newsletter/classics” rel=”nofollow noopener” target=”_blank”>More from the Archive

Sign up for Classics, a twice-weekly newsletter featuring notable pieces from the past.

In “Plugged In,” from 2009, Tad Friend profiles an earlier incarnation of Musk, when the Tesla C.E.O. was focussed primarily on pitching his vision for electric cars and colonizing Mars. In “Can Mark Zuckerberg Fix Facebook Before It Breaks Democracy?,” Evan Osnos writes about the social-media platform’s evolution (or devolution) from a networking site to one of the leading disseminators of extremist rhetoric and propaganda. In “Reddit and the Struggle to Detoxify the Internet,” Andrew Marantz examines the destructive impact of rampant online conspiracy theories and hate speech. Finally, in “What Is It About Peter Thiel?,” Anna Wiener considers the influence of the first outside investor in Facebook—who, after serving as one of Trump’s biggest donors in 2016, continues to make forays into Republican politics, recently backing two Trumpian Senate candidates, J. D. Vance, in Ohio, and Blake Masters, in Arizona. For Thiel, Wiener writes, “the processes of liberal democratic life are either an obstacle or a distraction. . . . What’s on offer is a fantasy of a future shaped purely by technology.”

David Remnick


Musk and his children with clay model cars
Can Elon Musk lead the way to an electric-car future?

A GIF shows a stream of data materialize into a portrait of Peter Thiel.
The billionaire venture capitalist has fans and followers. What are they looking for?

Image may contain: Human, Person, Furniture, and Tabletop
How do we fix life online without limiting free speech?

Animated gif of a flashing, pixelated photograph of Mark Zuckerberg
The most famous entrepreneur of his generation is facing a public reckoning with the power of Big Tech.

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Health authority sues Brandon psychiatric nurse over allegedly defamatory social media posts – CBC.ca

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A Brandon, Man., woman who was a psychiatric nurse is being sued by her former employer over posts on TikTok, Facebook and Instagram calling fellow employees “idiots” and accusing the health authority of killing its patients. 

The case comes at a time when legal experts say the number of lawsuits filed over social media posts is growing rapidly.

In its lawsuit filed April 12, the Prairie Mountain Health authority is seeking a court injunction to prohibit the nurse from publishing defamatory statements about her former employer and make her remove existing posts.

Ten employees of the western Manitoba regional health authority are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit. They allege the nurse made false, malicious and defamatory social media posts about them, as well as the employer.

The psychiatric nurse’s Manitoba registration to practise was suspended on Jan. 12. The regulatory college’s website shows she then voluntarily surrendered her registration, effective Jan. 17.

The reason for the suspension is not stated on the Brandon woman’s listing on the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Manitoba website. The college’s registrar, Laura Panteluk, said she cannot talk about a specific case.

CBC News is not naming the people in the lawsuit due to allegations in it about mental health. The defendant has not filed a statement of defence and the allegations have not been proven in court.

Staff called ‘lazy, incompetent’: lawsuit

The psychiatric nurse worked at the Brandon Regional Health Centre, according to the statement of claim filed in Court of Queen’s Bench at Winnipeg.

The lawsuit refers to the content of four videos the defendant posted on her social media accounts. 

In January, she posted a video on her TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram accounts that refers to some of the plaintiffs as “idiots, horrible nurses” who do not care about patients, the claim says. 

It alleges the nurse used defamatory words to say some of the other employees were “lazy, incompetent, unintelligent, and do not care about the [Brandon Regional Health Centre] patients.”

The claim alleges that in the video, the nurse said she was bullied at work and that a manager — who is one of the plaintiffs — questioned her mental health in a disciplinary meeting, causing her to go on sick leave.

The claim also alleges that in another video the nurse posted, she said Brandon health centre staff “were making fun of homeless people,” and that the health centre “protects abusers” and “kills its patients.”

The court document alleges the nurse said in a video that she intended to determine the identities of staff members working on a particular day, and then publish their names in a video on her TikTok account in an attempt to cause them to lose their jobs.

“As a result of the publication of the defamatory words, the plaintiffs have been subjected to ridicule, alienation, and contempt and have suffered damages to their reputation,” both personally and professionally, the claim alleges.

It says they’ve suffered “embarrassment, humiliation, fear, and anxiety.”

The nurse has refused to remove two of the videos from her social media accounts, the claim says, further aggravating the damage to the plaintiffs. 

Attempts by CBC to contact the defendant were not successful.

Prairie Mountain Health communications co-ordinator Blaine Kraushaar said the health authority has no comment on the case.

Social media suits becoming more common: lawyer

Toronto lawyer Howard Winkler, who specializes in defamation law, says the number of lawsuits about social media posts has grown “exponentially.”

“It’s becoming more and more common as people are becoming more comfortable with their use of social media,” said Winkler, who is not involved with the Manitoba case.

Toronto lawyer Howard Winkler says the number of lawsuits related to social media posts has increased ‘exponentially.’ (Submitted by Howard Winkler)

The unrestrained expressions of opinions and anger found on social media can be very harmful, he said.

But social media users should be aware that ordinary laws of defamation apply to those kinds of posts, said Winkler, meaning they can face financial damages in court.

“So people have to be very careful when they’re posting these kinds of messages.”

A person’s social media footprint can also affect future employment prospects, regardless of whether or not their criticisms were valid.

“If someone’s applying for a job and the employer does a social media search and they see that a person’s had an earlier dispute with an employer, that may be a red flag to an employer that there’s some risk associated with hiring that person,” Winkler said.

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