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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Federal investigators have been able to “dramatically expand” their investigation into financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein as prosecutors bring sex trafficking charges against him, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Rossmiller said in court on Monday.

The government revealed the expansion of the case at the day’s bail hearing. In searching the defendant’s house, investigators found an old passport with his picture and a fake name that listed Saudi Arabia as the location of his residence, the prosecutor said.

The judge was surprised at this revelation, NBC News reported, asking the attorney, “Say again?”

“The passport was issued in the name of a foreign country, it was issued in the 1980s, it is expired, it shows a picture of Jeffrey Epstein, and another name,” said Rossmiller.

Diamonds were also reportedly found along with the passport in a safe.

Rossmiller argued that Epstein is an “extraordinary flight risk.” The financier’s lawyers are arguing for his release and have proposed a set of conditions, including turning over his legitimate passport, that would allow him to remain in his own house pending trial. Epstein has been in jail since he was arrested on July 6.

To consider Epstein’s bail application, the government said it would like to better understand his finances.

“How much money does he have? Where is it?” asked Rossmiller. “How much of it is in diamonds or art?”

While Epstein has been reported to be a billionaire, recent reports have cast doubt on the size and origins of his wealth.

Investigators have been able to expand their probe, Rossmiller said, because “many individuals identifying themselves as victims and witnesses” have now come forward.

Annie Farmer and Courtney Wild both testified that Epstein victimized them and that he should remain in jail. Farmer was 16 at the time of the incident, saying he was “inappropriate” with her. Wild said she was 14 when Epstein sexually assaulted her.

Epstein’s lawyers argued he should be released because they said he has not re-offended since 2005, when the accusations of sex trafficking date from. However, the prosecution has suggested that Epstein has recently engaged in potential witness tampering, and the judge was skeptical about the defense’s claim that Epstein hasn’t committed any offenses since his prior prosecution. His lawyers contested the allegation that their client has tampered with witnesses, saying only that he “paid” a friend and an employee.

 

 

Sen. David Perdue

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) pulled out of his final debate against Democrat Jon Ossoff on Thursday —because he'd rather attend a Donald Trump campaign rally.

The Nov. 1 Senate debate was planned months ago, but Perdue's campaign said he could not participate as promised because he has been too busy doing his job.

"Senator Perdue will not be participating in the WSB-TV debate but will instead join the 45th president, Donald J. Trump, for a huge Get-Out-The-Vote rally in Northwest Georgia. For 8 of the last 14 days of this campaign, Senator Perdue went back to Washington to work for much needed COVID relief," his spokesperson John Burke said in a statement, referencing a failed attempt by Senate Republicans to pass Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) "skinny" $500 billion proposal.

"To make up for the lost time, Senator Perdue has over 20 campaign stops planned for the closing days of this race, and he is excited to welcome and join President Trump in Georgia before November 3rd to campaign for both of their re-election efforts," Burke added.

WSB-TV noted on Thursday that it offered Perdue's campaign other time slots to accommodate the Trump rally, but the overture was rebuffed.

Ossoff's campaign blasted Perdue's "cowardly withdrawal," saying in a statement that the move "says it all: David Perdue feels entitled to his office, and he'll do anything to avoid accountability for his blatant corruption and his total failure during this unprecedented health crisis."

The incumbent's decision to break his promise to debate came one day after a video of Jon Ossoff criticizing Perdue's anti-Obamacare record at a Wednesday debate went viral. As of Friday morning, a 72-second clip of Ossoff has been viewed more than 12 million times.

Perdue responded to that attack by making the odd claim that he repeatedly voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act — which would take insurance away from hundreds of thousands of his constituents — because he believed doing so would cover more people.

"I voted against the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, because it was taking insurance away from millions of Georgians. Today almost 18 percent of Georgians don't have any health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act," he falsely claimed.

This is not the first time Perdue has put Trump ahead of the interests of Georgians. According to FiveThirtyEight, he has voted with Trump about 95 percent of the time, including backing his right-wing Supreme Court nominees, his tax cuts for large corporations and the very wealthy, and his repeated attempts to take money from military families to pay for a massive Southern border wall.

Medical experts and data analyses have suggested Trump's rallies have been super-spreader events for the coronavirus. Trump has refused to adhere to social distancing rules or to require mask usage at the events and the mass gatherings have frequently been immediately followed by case spikes in the communities where he holds them.

One poll this week found that voters across the country said they are less likely to vote for Trump because of his "large, in-person campaign rallies where wearing a mask is not required of attendees."

The race between Ossoff and Perdue is considered a "toss-up" by election experts, and polls show it as virtual tied.

If no candidate gets a majority on Tuesday, the top two finishers will face off in a January runoff.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.