Justice Department opens probe into Jeffrey Epstein plea deal

MIAMI — The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta’s role in negotiating a controversial plea deal with a wealthy New York investor accused of molesting more than 100 underage girls in Palm Beach.

The probe is in response to a request by Sen. Ben Sasse, a a Nebraska Republican and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who raised questions about the case following a series of stories in The Miami Herald. The Herald articles detailed how Acosta, then the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and other DOJ attorneys worked hand-in-hand with defense attorneys to cut a lenient plea deal with multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein in 2008.

The Herald’s three-part series, Perversion of Justice,’ was cited by Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd in his letter to Sasse. DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility will head the investigation, he said.

“OPR has now opened an investigation into allegations that Department attorneys may have committed professional misconduct in the manner in which the Epstein criminal matter was resolved,” wrote Boyd in the letter dated Wednesday.

— Miami Herald

Tulsi Gabbard rejects former KKK leader David Duke’s 2020 endorsement

WASHINGTON — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has received a presidential endorsement that she does not want — from former Ku Klux Klan leader and Louisiana GOP state Sen. David Duke.

Duke, 68, has made his Twitter banner photo an image of Gabbard with the caption, “Finally a candidate who will actually put America First rather than Israel First,” a reference to one of President Donald Trump’s trademark slogans.

Duke claimed in a tweet earlier this week that Gabbard, a Hawaii Democrat, is “the only Presidential candidate who doesn’t want to send White children off to die for Israel.”

But Gabbard rejected Duke’s characterization of her for rolling back military and strategic support in Israel and other parts of the Middle East, instead emphasizing that she wants to more broadly de-escalate U.S. involvement in “regime-change wars” in the region.

“I have strongly denounced David Duke’s hateful views and his so-called ‘support’ multiple times in the past, and reject his support,” she told The New York Post in a statement Tuesday.

“Publicizing Duke’s so-called ‘endorsement’ is meant to distract from my message: that I will end regime-change wars, work to end the new cold war and take us away from the precipice of a nuclear war, which is a greater danger now than ever before.”

— CQ-Roll Call

21 Savage’s lawyers say ICE ‘provided incorrect information’ about his criminal record and that he’s being detained ‘for no legal reason’

Lawyers for 21 Savage slammed ICE for its treatment of the rapper, saying the agency “provided incorrect information” to the public about his criminal record and is detaining him “for no legal reason.”

“Mr. Abraham-Joseph has no criminal convictions or charges under state or federal law and is free to seek relief from removal in immigration court,” his six-person legal counsel said in a statement released late Tuesday.

“There continues to be no legal reason to detain Mr. Abraham-Joseph for a civil law violation that occurred when he was a minor, especially when people in his exact situation are routinely released by ICE,” it continued.

21 Savage’s real name is She’yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph.

The Atlanta-based rapper was arrested Sunday by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after it emerged he was actually from the UK and was staying in the country with an expired visa, the department said.

His lawyers continue to argue that the government knew of his immigration status.

“He has never hidden from DHS or any of its agencies,” they said.

They also provided background on his history.

21 Savage arrived legally in the United States at the age of seven and remained here until 2005, when he was a teenager, according to his lawyers.

“He returned to the United States under a valid H-4 visa on July 22, 2005. Mr. Abraham-Joseph has been continuously physically present in the United States for almost 20 years, except for a brief visit abroad. Unfortunately, in 2006 Mr. Abraham-Joseph’s legal status expired through no fault of his own.”

The rapper allegedly has a pending U-Visa application, eligible for people who have been the victim of a crime. He applied in 2017.

His lawyer’s touched on speculation of “possible ulterior motives” for 21 Savage’s arrest, noting new lyrics he released “condemning the behavior of immigration officials for their detention of children at the border.”

In his appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” days before his arrest, he performed his new song “A Lot” with an added line.

“Been through some things, but I couldn’t imagine my kids stuck at the border (Straight up),” he rapped.

“We are unaware of why ICE apparently targeted Mr. Abraham-Joseph, but we will do everything possible to legally seek his release and pursue his available relief in immigration court,” the letter concluded.

ICE did not immediately respond to the Daily News for comment.

— New York Daily News

U.S. offers sanctions relief to Venezuelan military who betray Maduro

CUCUTA, Colombia — Washington on Wednesday offered relief from punishing sanctions to Venezuelan military officers who betray Nicolas Maduro.

In a tweet, U.S. national security adviser John Bolton urged military officers to back interim President Juan Guaido or suffer the consequences.

“The U.S. will consider sanctions off-ramps for any Venezuelan senior military officer that stands for democracy and recognizes the constitutional government of President Juan Guaido,” Bolton wrote. “If not, the international financial circle will be closed off completely. Make the right choice!”

The offer come as Guaido — who began assuming executive powers on Jan. 23 in defiance of Maduro — has been offering the military amnesty for past crimes in return for their support. While several military officers have defected, the tactic didn’t turn into the ground swell of support that some were hoping for.

The United States has slapped more than 65 current and former Venezuelan officials with sanctions, including many of the military’s high command.

Washington, Canada, Colombia, Brazil and dozens of other nations recognize Guaido as the country’s legitimate president, arguing that Maduro is holding onto power through fraudulent elections. Maduro, on the other hand, accuses the United States of trying to topple his administration.

— Miami Herald