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

By Keith Coffman

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Reuters) – The man accused of killing three people and wounding nine in a shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs was told he faces charges including first-degree murder during his first court appearance on Monday.

Robert Lewis Dear, 57, appearing by video link from jail, spoke only to confirm that he understood and to tell the judge he had no questions. There was no discussion of the motives during the brief hearing, and formal charges will be filed at a court appearance scheduled for Dec. 9.

Planned Parenthood has said reports that Dear told investigators “no more baby parts” after his arrest following Friday afternoon’s deadly siege showed he was acting on an anti-abortion agenda.

Chief Judge Gil Martinez told Dear, who was in handcuffs and leg irons and strapped into a padded vest, apparently for his own safety, that if convicted, he faces a minimum sentence of life without parole or a maximum of death.

District Attorney Dan May said prosecutors have 63 days after Dear’s arraignment to decide whether to bring a death penalty case. Documents in the investigation were ordered sealed by the court on Monday.

“I personally will be part of the prosecution team,” May told reporters outside after the hearing.

For his appearance by closed-circuit camera from the jail where he is being held without bond, Dear was flanked by Dan King of the state’s public defender’s office. King defended the Colorado movie massacre gunman, James Holmes.

A handful of victims sat in the front of the packed courtroom, watching Dear on a screen. They were ushered out of a different door than the journalists.

VIDEO CONTROVERSY

The rampage blamed on the South Carolina native is believed to have been the first deadly attack on a U.S. abortion provider in six years. The Colorado Springs center has been the target of protests by anti-abortion activists.

A police officer and two civilians died in the attack, which, according to newly emerging details, began just outside the building, adjacent to a shopping area on the northwest side of Colorado’s second-largest city.

Ke’Arre Stewart, 29, an Iraq war veteran, was shot in front of the clinic after walking out to talk on his cell phone. Wounded, he ran back inside to warn others to take cover, his brother told NBC News. Stewart died of his wound.

“I believe that’s his military instinct, you know,” NBC News quoted his brother, Leyonte Chandler, as saying. “Before his time ran out, I guess that was his main priority … to help and save other lives.”

Planned Parenthood already was on heightened alert against threats of violence nationwide. Some affiliates said they would review their security measures further.

Several U.S. media outlets, citing unnamed law enforcement sources, have said Dear used the phrase “no more baby parts” in statements he made to investigators after his surrender. Reuters could not independently confirm those reports.

The reported comment was widely seen as an apparent reference to secretly recorded videos released months ago that anti-abortion groups have said showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of aborted fetal tissue.

Planned Parenthood has said the videos were produced to distort the issue of fetal-tissue donations made by the group for scientific research. It says reimbursements the organization received to cover the costs of those donations were neither unlawful nor unethical.

Authorities have said they do not know what precipitated the attack and have declined to discuss publicly the suspect’s motives.

U.S. Justice Department officials have joined the investigation, raising the possibility the federal government could bring a terrorism or civil rights case against Dear.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Additional reporting by Daniel Wallis and Dan Whitcomb; Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Bill Trott, Bill Rigby and Jonathan Oatis)

Robert L. Dear is seen in an undated picture released by the Colorado Springs (Colorado) Police Department November 28, 2015.  REUTERS/Colorado Springs Police Department/Handout via Reuters  

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  • 1.Why did Trump choose to hide certain specific files and not others at Mar-a-Lago? What were the criteria that Trump used to keep some files concealed and not others? Who selected those files? Did Trump consult or direct anyone in his selection of secret files? Trump was notorious for being too impatient to read his briefing papers, even after they had been drastically shortened and simplified. Is there the slightest evidence that he spirited these papers away so that he could consult or study them? Who besides Trump knew of the presence of the files he had concealed at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 2. Mar-a-Lago has an infamous reputation for being open to penetration even by foreign spies. In 2019, the FBI arrested a Chinese woman who had entered the property with electronic devices. She was convicted of trespassing, lying to the Secret Service, and sentenced and served eight-months in a federal prison, before being deported to China. Have other individuals with possible links to foreign intelligence operations been present at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 3. Did members of Trump's Secret Service detail have knowledge of his secret storage of the files at Mar-a-Lago? What was the relationship of the Secret Service detail to the FBI? Did the Secret Service, or any agent, disclose information about the files to the FBI?
  • 4. Trump's designated representatives to the National Archives are Kash Patel and John Solomon, co-conspirators in the investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election of 2016, the Ukraine missiles-for-political dirt scandal that led to the first impeachment in 2019, and the coup of 2020. Neither has any professional background in handling archival materials. Patel, a die-hard Trump loyalist whose last job in the administration was as chief of staff to the Acting Secretary of Defense, was supposedly involved in Trump’s “declassification” of some files. Patel has stated, “Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves."
  • The White House counsel failed to generate the paperwork to change the classification markings, but that doesn’t mean the information wasn’t declassified.” If Pat Cipollone, the White House legal counsel, did not “generate the paperwork,” was he or anyone on his staff aware at all of the declassifications? The White House Staff Secretary Derek Lyons resigned his post in December 2020. Did his successor, who held the position for a month, while Trump was consumed with plotting his coup, ever review the material found in Trump’s concealed files for declassification? Or did Patel review the material? Can Patel name any individual who properly reviewed the supposed declassification?
  • 5. Why did Trump keep his pardon of Roger Stone among his secret files? Was it somehow to maintain leverage over Stone? What would that leverage be? Would it involve Stone's role as a conduit with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers during the coup? Or is there another pardon in Trump’s files for Stone, a secret pardon for his activities in the January 6th insurrection? Because of the sweeping nature of the pardon clause, pardons can remain undisclosed (until needed). Pardons are self-executing, require no justification and are not subject to court review beyond the fact of their timely execution. In other words, a court may verify the pardon was valid in time but has no power to review appropriateness. A pardon could even be oral but would need to be verifiable by a witness. Do the files contain secret pardons for Trump himself, members of his family, members of the Congress, and other co-conspirators?
  • 6.Was the FBI warrant obtained to block the imminent circulation or sale of information in the files to foreign powers? Does the affidavit of the informant at Mar-a-Lago, which has not been released, provide information about Trump’s monetization that required urgency in executing the warrant? Did Trump monetize information in any of the files? How? With whom? Any foreign power or entity? Was the Saudi payment from its sovereign wealth fund for the LIV Golf Tournament at Trump’s Bedminster Golf Club for a service that Trump rendered, an exchange of anything of value or information that was in the files? If it involved information in the files was it about nuclear programs? Was it about the nuclear program of Israel? How much exactly was the Saudi payment for the golf tournament? The Saudi sovereign wealth fund gave Jared Kushner and former Trump Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin $2 billion for their startup hedge fund, Affinity Partners. Do the Saudis regard that investment as partial payment for Trump’s transfer of nuclear information? Were Kushner or Mnuchin aware of the secret files at Mar-a-Lago?
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  • 8.Were any of the secrets of our allies compromised? Has the U.S. government provided an inventory of breaches or potential breaches to our allies?
  • 9.Does the resort maintain a copying machine near the classified documents that Trump hid? Were any of the documents copied or scanned? Are Trump’s documents at Mar-a-Lago originals or copies? Were any copies shown or given to anyone?
  • 10.Trump’s lawyer Christina Bobb has revealed that a video surveillance system covers the places where Trump hid the files at Mar-a-Lago, and that the system is connected to a system at his other residences at the Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey and Trump Tower in New York City. According to Bobb, Trump and members of his family observed the FBI search and seizure of his files at Mar-a-Lago, “actually able to see the whole thing” through their surveillance system. Who has that surveillance system recorded entering the rooms where the files were kept?

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