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Woman investigated for allegedly stealing laptop from Pelosi’s office during Capitol riot faces new charges

Riley Williams, the woman who was accused by a former romantic partner of stealing a computer from Nancy Pelosi’s office during the U.S. Capitol riot, is facing new charges, according to court documents released Tuesday. The amended criminal complaint cites a video from that day in which Williams allegedly instructs a man to put on gloves before he touched Pelosi’s laptop, and claims she can be seen entering and leaving Pelosi’s office. 

Williams is now charged with “Aid Abet Others to Embezzle, Steal, Purloin” and “Obstruct, Influence or Impede any Official Proceeding.” She is still facing her initial charges of “Knowingly Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Grounds Without Lawful Authority” and “Violent Entry and Disorderly Conduct on Capitol Grounds.” 

Williams surrendered to authorities in Pennsylvania on Monday, after a person who identified themselves as her former romantic partner called the FBI multiple times in the days after the riots to report they had seen her in videos inside the Capitol, according to court documents. 

In the amended complaint, an FBI agent said that Williams’ former partner shared video clips with investigators that they said had been recorded or live streamed by Williams during the riot. In one 4-second video, the person holding the camera — who the agent said they believe to be Williams — tilted it down to show an HP laptop sitting on a wooden desk. 

screen-shot-2021-01-19-at-9-49-09-pm.png
A screenshot of the video included in the criminal complaint.

The Department of Justice


A female voice believed to be Williams then said, “Dude, put on gloves,” according to the complaint. The video then appears to show a man’s arm touching a laptop, the complaint said, adding that text across the video reads “they got the laptop.”  

The complaint said Capitol Police have confirmed that an HP laptop was stolen from Pelosi’s office on the day of the riot. Capitol police also confirmed that the footage shown in the video was taken in Pelosi’s office.

The complaint also cited posts on the social media app Discord in which a user named Riley wrote “I STOLE S*** FROM NANCY POLESI (sic)” and “I TOOK NANCY POLESIS HARD DRIVES I DONT CARE.” The complaint does not provide concrete evidence linking Williams to the social media posts, but it noted that her former partner said she frequently used the platform. 

Williams’ former partner also told authorities that she “intended to send the computer device to a friend in Russia, who then planned to sell the device to SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service,” according to the complaint. But that plan “fell through for unknown reasons,” the partner said, alleging that Williams either still has the device or destroyed it. That claim “remains under investigation,” according to the complaint. 

Clare Hymes contributed reporting.


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Three former presidents will attend Biden’s inauguration

Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama are expected to attend the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday, although his immediate predecessor is expected to leave the White House ahead of the day’s ceremonies. Along with President Trump, former President Jimmy Carter, who at 96 is the oldest living president, will not be attending the inauguration.

Despite Mr. Trump’s absence, Vice President Mike Pence is expected to attend the inauguration ceremony. Pence will not be appearing at Mr. Trump’s farewell event at Joint Base Andrews before the president departs for Florida on Wednesday morning, a senior administration official told CBS News.

Mr. Biden will be sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Several members of Congress are expected to attend the event, although they have only been allowed one guest ticket. In previous years, each member of Congress has been granted 200,000 tickets to distribute to constituents. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, attendance at Mr. Biden’s inauguration is expected to be very limited.

There are also expected to be several celebrity guests in attendance at the inauguration, including Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Bruce Springsteen and Garth Brooks.

Although attendance will be sparse, there will be tight security at the inauguration, which will occur just two weeks after an unprecedented assault on the Capitol. The Pentagon has authorized more than 25,000 National Guard troops to secure the event, and the FBI is vetting all Guard members.


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Trump pardons 73 people, including Steve Bannon, and commutes sentences of 70 others

On his way out the door, President Trump pardoned 73 people, including his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and commuted the sentences of 70 others. The White House announced the last-minute flurry of pardons and commutations early on Wednesday, Mr. Trump’s last day in office.

No members of the president’s family — including Mr. Trump himself — were on the list. There was considerable speculation in the waning days of his term over whether he would issue presumptive pardons for himself, any of his children or son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Also missing from the list — Rudy Guiliani — Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, who led legal efforts to prove false claims that Mr. Trump won the presidential election over Joe Biden.

Among others getting pardons were former top GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy and rapper Lil Wayne, 

Bannon was indicted in August for allegedly defrauding donors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars with a fundraising campaign to build a wall along the southern border, known as the “We build the wall” campaign. The scheme raised $25 million, and Bannon was accused of taking $1 million to cover personal expenses and pay another person accused in the scheme.

FILE PHOTO: Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon exits the Manhattan Federal Court in New York City
Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon leaves Manhattan Federal Court following his arraignment on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering on August 20, 2020.

ANDREW KELLY / REUTERS


In announcing his pardon, the White House said Bannon “has been an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen.”

But Representative Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, took to Twitter to swipe at the move, saying, “Steve Bannon is getting a pardon from Trump after defrauding Trump’s own supporters into paying for a wall that Trump promised Mexico would pay for. And if that all sounds crazy, that’s because it is. Thank God we have only 12 more hours of this den of thieves.”

Broidy, the RNC’s former deputy finance chair, was charged in October for his alleged role in a covert scheme to lobby the Justice Department and Trump administration on behalf of undisclosed foreign entities. Broidy resigned as the GOP’s top fundraiser in 2018 after admitting to paying off a Playboy Playmate.

Mr. Trump also pardoned rapper Dwayne Michael Carter Jr, also known as Lil Wayne. Carter pleaded guilty in December to a federal gun charge. 

The president commuted the sentence of Kwame Kilpatrick, the former Detroit mayor who has served approximately 7 years of a 28 year sentence for racketeering and bribery. “This commutation is strongly supported by prominent members of the Detroit community, Alveda King, Alice Johnson, Diamond and Silk, Pastor Paula White, Peter Karmanos, Representative Sherry Gay-Dagnogo of the Michigan House of Representatives, Representative Karen Whitsett of the Michigan House of Representatives, and more than 30 faith leaders,” the White House said.

Kilpatrick, once seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party, received one of the longest sentences for corruption ever given to a major U.S. politician.

New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a statement blasting Mr. Trump’s actions, saying in part, “The 143 pardons and commutations, issued in the twilight hours of the Trump Administration, perfectly sum up what this lame-duck president has always been about: favoritism towards those who show absolute loyalty to Donald Trump.”

Prior to the late blitz, Mr. Trump had granted 70 pardons, the majority of them in December, according to Justice Department records. 

He waited until after the November election to issue some of his most controversial pardons, including for former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner’s convict father Charles Kushner, and longtime Trump ally Roger Stone. 

By the time President Obama had left office, he had pardoned 212 people; 189 were pardoned by President George W. Bush; and 396 received a pardon from President Clinton, according to the Justice Department. 

Mr. Trump isn’t the first president to issue highly controversial pardons. Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon, and Mr. Clinton granted clemency to friends and supporters. 

The president’s pardon powers are virtually unlimited when it comes to federal crimes. The presidential pardon power allows the president to pardon anyone charged with or convicted of a federal crime — it does not apply to state crimes. Article II of the Constitution states that the president “shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” 


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Trump pardons 73 people, including Steve Bannon, and commutes sentences of 70 others

On his way out the door, President Trump pardoned 73 people, including his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and commuted the sentences of 70 others. The White House announced the last-minute flurry of pardons and commutations early on Wednesday, Mr. Trump’s last day in office.

No members of the president’s family — including Mr. Trump himself — were on the list. There was considerable speculation in the waning days of his term over whether he would issue presumptive pardons for himself, any of his children or son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Also missing from the list — Rudy Guiliani — Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, who led legal efforts to prove false claims that Mr. Trump won the presidential election over Joe Biden.

Among others getting pardons were former top GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy and rapper Lil Wayne, 

Bannon was indicted in August for allegedly defrauding donors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars with a fundraising campaign to build a wall along the southern border, known as the “We build the wall” campaign. The scheme raised $25 million, and Bannon was accused of taking $1 million to cover personal expenses and pay another person accused in the scheme.

In announcing his pardon, the White House said Bannon “has been an important leader in the conservative movement and is known for his political acumen.”

Broidy, the RNC’s former finance chair, was charged in October for his alleged role in a covert scheme to lobby the Justice Department and Trump administration on behalf of undisclosed foreign entities. Broidy resigned as the GOP’s top fundraiser in 2018 after admitting to paying off a Playboy Playmate.

Mr. Trump also pardoned rapper Dwayne Michael Carter Jr, also known as Lil Wayne. Carter pleaded guilty in December to a federal gun charge. 

The president commuted the sentence of Kwame Kilpatrick, the former Detroit mayor who has served approximately 7 years of a 28 year sentence for racketeering and bribery. “This commutation is strongly supported by prominent members of the Detroit community, Alveda King, Alice Johnson, Diamond and Silk, Pastor Paula White, Peter Karmanos, Representative Sherry Gay-Dagnogo of the Michigan House of Representatives, Representative Karen Whitsett of the Michigan House of Representatives, and more than 30 faith leaders,” the White House said.

Kilpatrick, once seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party, received one of the longest sentences for corruption ever given to a major U.S. politician.

Prior to the late blitz, Mr. Trump had granted 70 pardons, the majority of them in December, according to Justice Department records. 

He waited until after the November election to issue some of his most controversial pardons, including for former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner’s convict father Charles Kushner, and longtime Trump ally Roger Stone. 

By the time President Obama had left office, he had pardoned 212 people; 189 were pardoned by President George W. Bush; and 396 received a pardon from President Clinton, according to the Justice Department. 

Mr. Trump isn’t the first president to issue highly controversial pardons. Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon, and Mr. Clinton granted clemency to friends and supporters. 

The president’s pardon powers are virtually unlimited when it comes to federal crimes. The presidential pardon power allows the president to pardon anyone charged with or convicted of a federal crime — it does not apply to state crimes. Article II of the Constitution states that the president “shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.” 


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Trump issues late-night pardons on eve of inauguration

President Trump issued 143 pardons and commutations in the early hours on Wednesday, including to his former campaign chair Steve Bannon, former top GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy and rapper Lil Wayne. The list of pardons did not include any of his family members.

Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden arrived in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday ahead of his inauguration, heading to the Lincoln Memorial for a ceremony honoring the 400,000 Americans who have died of COVID-19. In brief remarks, Mr. Biden emphasized the need for the nation to “heal.”

Before heading to Washington, Mr. Biden gave an emotional farewell to Delaware at the Major Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center, named for his late son, Beau.

Mr. Biden said he has just “one regret,” that Beau Biden, who died in 2015, could not be there.  

Mr. Trump, meanwhile, released a nearly 20-minute farewell video that touted his accomplishments but did not address Mr. Biden by name. Mr. Trump is scheduled to depart the White House at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, since he is skipping the inauguration. 

The National Guard is still checking vehicles heading for the Capitol, and authorities are also watching the skies after receiving a threat that extremists could use drones to disrupt the inauguration.

Two National Guardsmen were removed from inauguration duty over possible links to extremism. Another 10 were removed not for national security reasons but because unrelated red flags showed up in background checks.

Prosecutors on Tuesday announced conspiracy charges against Thomas Caldwell, who investigators allege is a leader of the anti-government group the Oath Keepers. Prosecutors said that he was involved in the planning and coordination of the January 6 assault on the Capitol.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reconvened the Senate for the first time since the counting of the Electoral College votes was disrupted when a mob of angry Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. McConnell said Tuesday the mob was “provoked by the president and other powerful people.”

Senate committees held confirmation hearings for five of Mr. Biden’s key Cabinet nominees: Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary nominee Lloyd Austin, Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and director of national intelligence nominee Avril Haines. 

Mr. Biden will take office with none of his Cabinet confirmed.

Biden
President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden are joined by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff to participate in a COVID-19 memorial event at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, in Washington.

Evan Vucci / AP



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Donald Trump pardons Steve Bannon amid last acts of presidency

Donald Trump has reportedly pardoned former senior adviser Steve Bannon among scores of others in the final hours of his presidency.

Others pardoned, according to Reuters, were Elliott Broidy, a leading former fundraiser for Trump who has admitted illegally lobbying the US government to drop its inquiry into the Malaysia 1MDB corruption scandal and to deport an exiled Chinese billionaire.

Rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black – who were prosecuted on federal weapons offences – and former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who is serving a 28-year prison term on corruption charges, were also pardoned, the news agency quoted senior administration officials as saying.

The New York Times and CNN described the pardoning of Bannon, a former editor of Breitbart as a last-minute pre-emptive move to protect Bannon from his upcoming fraud trial. Bannon faces trial in May following his arrest in August last year on a luxury yacht off the Connecticut coast, accused of siphoning money from We Build the Wall, an online fundraiser for Trump’s contentious border wall with Mexico.

Federal prosecutors allege Bannon used a non-profit he controlled to divert “over $1m from the … online campaign, at least some of which he used to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal expenses”.

Officials said We Build The Wall raised more than $25m. Bannon has denied one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and another of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The news on Bannon and Broidy brought swift outcry. Noah Bookbinder at legal watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said: “Even Nixon didn’t pardon his cronies on the way out. Amazingly, in his final 24 hours in office, Donald Trump found one more way to fail to live up to the ethical standard of Richard Nixon.”

Bannon was recently banned from Twitter for calling for the beheading of Dr Anthony Fauci and the FBI director, Christopher Wray.

He and Trump have been estranged since the former adviser left the White House and made critical remarks about the president in a tell-all book about the president called Fire and Fury by journalist Michael Wolff. Trump said his former consigliere had “lost his mind”.

Despite Trump’s last-minute move on Bannon, reportedly delayed because the president was so torn on the issue, would not protect his former adviser from charges brought by state courts.

It is understood Trump did not attempt to give himself a pre-emptive pardon, and has not pardoned members of his family or Rudy Giuliani, his former personal lawyer with whom he has fallen out. Prosecutors and scholars have, however, said a grey area in the constitution means a president may be able to issue “secret” pardons, without notifying Congress or the public.

Trump has also been mulling future political ambitions, according to the Wall Street Journal, reportedly speaking to aides about the possibility of forming a new political party. The president favoured the name Patriot Party, it reported.

Multiple Republican party figures defending Trump in his second impeachment, for inciting the Capitol attack on 6 January, counseled him not to offer pardons to any of the more than 100 people arrested as a result.

Presidential pardons and acts of clemency do not imply innocence. Presidents often bestow them on allies and donors but Trump has taken the practice to extremes.

Previous recipients include aides and allies Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, George Papadopoulos and Paul Manafort, all convicted in the investigation of Russian election interference and links between Trump and Moscow, and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump’s son-in-law and chief adviser, Jared Kushner.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were reportedly closely involved in the process deciding Trump’s final pardons.

Trump is due to leave Washington on Wednesday morning, ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration as the 46th president. He will fly to Florida, stripped of the legal protection of office.

Trump faces state investigations of his business affairs and could face legal jeopardy over acts in office including his attempts to overturn election defeat and his incitement of the Capitol riot on 6 January, over which he was impeached a second time.

If Trump is convicted in his second Senate trial, he could be barred from running for office again.


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Author: Martin Pengelly in New York and Julian Borger in Washington DC

Trump expected to pardon former top strategist Bannon: source

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to grant clemency to former White House aide Steve Bannon as part of a wave of pardons and commutations he will issue during his final hours in office, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

Trump was not expected to pardon himself, members of his family or lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was at the forefront of unsuccessful efforts to get the results of the 2020 presidential election overturned.

Trump leaves office on Wednesday, when Joe Biden is sworn in as the nation’s next president.

Trump pardoned rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black who were prosecuted on federal weapons offenses, as well as former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was serving a 28-year prison term on corruption charges, a senior administration official said.

Bannon, who was a key adviser in Trump’s 2016 presidential run, was charged last year with swindling Trump supporters over an effort to raise private funds to build the president’s wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. He has pleaded not guilty.

White House officials had advised Trump against pardoning Bannon. The two men have lately rekindled their relationship as Trump sought support for his unproven claims of voter fraud, an official familiar with the situation said.

Bannon, 67, is the latest prominent political ally to receive clemency from Trump, who has often used the powers of the executive branch to reward loyalists and punish his enemies.

Trump previously pardoned former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI about his conversation with the former Russian ambassador, and he commuted the prison term for Roger Stone, who was convicted of lying to Congress during its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Lil Wayne, 38, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., pleaded guilty in federal court in December to illegally possessing a firearm and faced up to 10 years in prison. He has expressed support for Trump’s criminal justice reform efforts.

Kodak Black, 23, who was born Bill Kahan Kapri, is in federal prison for making a false statement in order to buy a firearm.

(Reporting by Steve Holland. Additional reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Jan Wolfe. Writing by James Oliphant.; Editing by Mary Milliken and Lincoln Feast.)


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Trump Defies Lawyers, Pardons Former Top Strategist Steve Bannon: NYT

President Trump has pardoned his former top strategist Steve Bannon in the final hours of his presidency, according to multiple reports.

The move came after Trump was repeatedly cautioned against granting pardons to Bannon and GOP allies who were implicated in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Bannon’s chances at clemency had reportedly appeared to shrink when lawyers staged an intervention of sorts for Trump on the eve of his White House departure, warning him of potential legal headaches and further scrutiny in his impeachment trial.

But Trump apparently defied the advice of lawyers after going back and forth on whether to pardon his former aide-turned-accused-fraudster. According to The New York Times, Trump made the decision after speaking to Bannon by phone earlier Tuesday.

The move was reportedly meant to clear Bannon of the charges against him and spare him from standing trial in May. Bannon was arrested in August for allegedly defrauding donors in the $25 million “We Build the Wall” fundraising campaign, which sought to fulfill Trump’s pledge to build a wall with Mexico. Prosecutors accused Bannon and three others of pocketing the donations and using the money for their personal expenses, with the former White House strategist accused of personally skimming off $1 million.

The former chairman of far-right news site Breitbart pleaded not guilty in New York federal court and was released after posting a $5 million bond.

Trump had distanced himself from his former aide following the arrest and stressed that he hadn’t had anything to do with Bannon for a “very long time.”

But in the countdown of his final hours in office on Tuesday, Trump reportedly could not let go of the prospect of pardoning Bannon, repeatedly asking aides about if even after many thought the issue had already been settled and the pardon was a no-go.

Bannon’s involvement in the Jan. 6 riot was seen as a dealbreaker. As The Daily Beast reported, a company with links to Bannon sent out mass text messages “calling all patriots” to head to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 to protest the certification of Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election.


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Author: Allison Quinn

Three former presidents will attend Biden’s inauguration

Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama are expected to attend the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday, although his immediate predecessor is expected to leave the White House ahead of the day’s ceremonies. Along with President Trump, former President Jimmy Carter, who at 96 is the oldest living president, will not be attending the inauguration.

Despite Mr. Trump’s absence, Vice President Mike Pence is expected to attend the inauguration ceremony. Pence will not be appearing at Mr. Trump’s farewell event at Joint Base Andrews before the president departs for Florida on Wednesday morning, a senior administration official told CBS News.

Mr. Biden will be sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Several members of Congress are expected to attend the event, although they have only been allowed one guest ticket. In previous years, each member of Congress has been granted 200,000 tickets to distribute to constituents. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, attendance at Mr. Biden’s inauguration is expected to be very limited.

There are also expected to be several celebrity guests in attendance at the inauguration, including Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Bruce Springsteen and Garth Brooks.

Although attendance will be sparse, there will be tight security at the inauguration, which will occur just two weeks after an unprecedented assault on the Capitol. The Pentagon has authorized more than 25,000 National Guard troops to secure the event, and the FBI is vetting all Guard members.


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