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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 215)

Netflix Spent Big on Oscar-Worthy Films. That May Not Be Enough.

Westlake Legal Group 00netflix-oscars-1-facebookJumbo Netflix Spent Big on Oscar-Worthy Films. That May Not Be Enough. The Irishman (Movie) Taback, Lisa Sarandos, Ted Roma (Movie) Parasite (Movie) Netflix Inc Movies Golden Globes (Awards) Gold Derby Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Academy Awards (Oscars) 1917 (Movie)

LOS ANGELES — Ballots for the coming Academy Awards are still being tabulated. But it already seems clear: This will not be Netflix’s year.

The streaming giant will arrive at Sunday’s Oscar ceremony leading the field, with 24 nominations. That’s up from 15 last year and eight the year before, a trajectory that highlights the success that Netflix has had in building a prestige film operation with a minimal presence in actual movie theaters. But the company could end the evening with only two wins, according to Gold Derby, which compiles the predictions of 28 awards handicappers, despite dumping truckloads of cash into awards-oriented marketing campaigns. Competitors estimate that Netflix has spent at least $70 million, a startling sum even by Hollywood’s profligate standards. Netflix declined to comment.

“The Irishman,” Martin Scorsese’s gangster character study, nominated for 10 Oscars and relentlessly hyped by Netflix as “one of the best films of the decade,” is expected by awards forecasters to get shut out completely. Prognosticators like Mark Harris of Vanity Fair and Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter base their opinions on how films have performed at predictive awards ceremonies leading up to the Oscars.

At the same time, Oscar voters are poised to shower statuettes on films from old-line studios that received traditional runs in theaters, including the late-arriving World War I drama “1917” (Universal), which is the front-runner to win best picture.

It raises unpleasant questions for Netflix. Spending freely on awards campaigning is one of the ways it has been able to woo marquee filmmakers like Mr. Scorsese. But with some analysts starting to question the return — Netflix already had a poor outcome at the recent Golden Globe Awards — will the streaming giant change its ways?

While there are those who would argue that competing films like “1917” and “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” (Sony) are simply better, the film establishment has been wary of Netflix. Could the lack of statuettes be a backlash to a tech giant that is upending entertainment-industry business practices and threatening Hollywood power hierarchies?

Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said losses at awards shows leading to the Oscars in no way represented an uprising against the company.

“A pushback? Nobody can say that with a straight face,” he said last week at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences annual nominee luncheon. “We got 24 nominations, the most of any studio. Our films have been honored across the board.”

The academy’s old guard has resisted a dogged push by Netflix to join the best picture club, arguing that, since the streaming service does not release its films in a traditional theatrical manner, its offerings should be better considered by Emmy voters. (Helen Mirren, onstage at the most recent National Association of Theater Owners convention, used an expletive to refer to the company.) Some longtime academy members say that Netflix’s campaigning has turned them off, in part because it reminds them of the days when Harvey Weinstein solicited Oscar votes with no-stone-unturned vigor.

“Obviously, there is one company that is spending more than the others, but that’s not going to affect how I will vote — nor do I think it will affect other members,” said Hawk Koch, a producer and former president of the academy, who recently wrote a memoir about his long career in Hollywood. “There is an awful lot of wasteful money being spent that could be used for making movies rather than trying to win an award.”

Netflix made its Oscar ambitions clear in 2018, when it hired one of Hollywood’s top awards campaign strategists: Lisa Taback, who cut her teeth at Miramax with Mr. Weinstein in the 1990s and whose résumé includes best-picture winners like “The King’s Speech” and “Spotlight.” She orchestrated a costly Oscar push for Netflix’s black and white “Roma” for last year’s Academy Awards. That film received 10 nominations, including one for best picture (Netflix’s first), and won three: director (Alfonso Cuarón), cinematography (Cuarón) and foreign film. It was a very solid outcome, one that seemed to signal the academy’s warming to Netflix.

This time around, Netflix seemed to be holding an even stronger hand. It had a living legend in Mr. Scorsese. His ambitious “Irishman,” which cost at least $160 million to make, brought Joe Pesci out of retirement and paired him with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Netflix also had “Marriage Story,” Noah Baumbach’s unnerving portrait of divorce; “Dolemite Is My Name,” a flamboyant comeback vehicle for Eddie Murphy; and “The Two Popes,” a well-reviewed drama about Vatican politics starring Jonathan Pryce and Anthony Hopkins.

“Marriage Story,” with six Oscar nominations, is expected to win for Laura Dern’s supporting performance as a formidable divorce lawyer. “Dolemite” did not receive any Oscar nominations. “The Two Popes” received three nods, but is not expected to win any on Sunday.

Another win for Netflix is expected to come from “American Factory,” a documentary backed by Michelle and Barack Obama that looks at a clash between a Chinese entrepreneur and blue-collar Ohioans.

“That’s a lot of campaigning for not a lot of hardware,” said Sue Fleishman, the head of September Media, a corporate communications consultancy, and the former communications chief at Warner Bros. and Amblin Partners.

In truth, no film wins the top Oscar without spending. All nine of this year’s best-picture nominees have been draped in for-your-consideration campaigns for months. Sony has certainly not been stingy with its “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” get-out-the-vote effort, which included a 28-minute special about its themes (“a love letter to making movies”) that ran on two Los Angeles television stations. Neon, the scrappy indie with the potential best-picture disrupter “Parasite,” has been spending money like a major, hopeful that the love for the genre-defying South Korean film will help it make Oscar history.

But Netflix has taken campaigning to a new level. Most studios put their firepower behind a couple of contenders. Netflix pitched eight films to awards voters this year, including two that received nominations for best animated film: “Klaus,” a hand-drawn holiday story that triumphed at the BAFTAs, Britain’s equivalent of the Oscars, and “I Lost My Body,” about an amputated hand. About 60 people work in Ms. Taback’s department, which also includes talent relations.

“Think of all of our awards work as a really smart way to make us the best home for talent in the world,” Reed Hastings, Netflix’s chief executive, said during a quarterly earnings call last month. “The business benefit is that we will win deals that we wouldn’t have otherwise.” Netflix may be spending a lot on awards campaigns. But the sum is a rounding error when you consider the company is poised to spend $17.3 billion on content this year.

Like all studios, Netflix flies stars to ceremonies that are seen as campaign stops, advertises in trade publications and sends swag to reporters (a pair of red slippers to support “The Two Popes,” for instance). But Netflix has also gone a great deal further, promoting films in ways that have raised eyebrows.

Rather than rely on trade news outlets, Netflix has opted to create its own, including a thick, expensive-looking magazine called “Queue,” filled with glossy photos and essays from high-profile contributors like Roxane Gay, and two separate podcasts from the former entertainment journalists Kris Tapley and Krista Smith (now consultants for Netflix).

The company rented out the famed Belasco Theater on Broadway to screen “The Irishman” and reopened the defunct Manhattan single-screen theater the Paris with a long-term rental deal. The company is still conducting talks to buy the historic Egyptian theater in Hollywood.

In December The Washington Post revealed that Netflix courted members of the Broadcast Film Critics Choice Association, which puts on the Critics’ Choice Awards, with free trips to Los Angeles and New York for private access to filmmakers and stars. Members of the association who accepted stayed in luxury hotels like the Four Seasons. The group awarded Netflix films and television shows with nine trophies, including best acting ensemble for “The Irishman.”

In a statement this week, Netflix responded to The Post article, saying, in part: “Promotional tactics like junkets, screenings and festivals are standard industry practice and not just for awards.”

“Netflix is not violating any rules. They just have lots of resources,” said Joe Pichirallo, a producer and a professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. “They do it to gain credibility and legitimacy and to let skittish auteur directors know that if you make a movie for Netflix, they will go all out to get you an Oscar, just like the studios.”

Even without winning big on Sunday, the company has already won. Netflix’s many nominations mean that 30 million people in the United States will watch a celebration of a lot of movies that they have not seen in theaters. Netflix will have succeeded in creating an emotional and intellectual shift — high-caliber original films associated with television sets and computer screens.

The streaming giant’s bruising night at the Globes certainly didn’t cast a pall over its after-party. Many of the night’s biggest stars made the soiree their first — and perhaps only — stop on the evening’s celebration circuit.

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio huddled alongside “The Irishman” cast in a cordoned-off corner of a tented structure in Beverly Hills as waiters offered fried-chicken sandwiches, mini corn dogs and specialty Casamigos cocktails. Scarlett Johansson, Ms. Dern and Jennifer Aniston all showed up to pay their respects to the town’s deepest pockets, and that was before Tiffany Haddish grabbed the DJ’s mic and started rapping.

“We ready,” Ms. Haddish shouted into the microphone, while holding a glass of white wine in her other hand. “Netflix putting food on people’s tables.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Susan Collins To Vote To Acquit Trump Of All Impeachment Charges

Westlake Legal Group 5e39ca982100008102e1c767 Susan Collins To Vote To Acquit Trump Of All Impeachment Charges

WASHINGTON ― Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced Tuesday that she does not support removing President Donald Trump from office, sticking with her party on another controversial vote ahead of a tough reelection fight in November.

“I do not believe the House has met its burden of showing that the president’s conduct, however flawed, warrants the extreme step of immediate removal from office,” she said in a short speech on the Senate floor.

The Senate is set to vote Wednesday on whether to remove Trump from office for pressuring the government of Ukraine to open an investigation that could benefit him politically, while using congressionally approved foreign aid and a potential White House meeting. Along with abuse of power, Trump was also impeached by the House for obstruction of justice after he allegedly tried to block the chamber’s probe into the matter. 

Collins was one of only two Republican senators who supported an effort to call witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial. In a vote last week, nearly every GOP senator opposed allowing witness testimony, making it the first U.S. presidential impeachment trial to feature no live witnesses. 

However, Collins said Tuesday that House Democrats should have pursued testimony from witnesses like former national security adviser John Bolton by seeking legal action in court before taking steps to impeach Trump. 

“The House chose to skip the basic steps of judicial adjudication and instead went straight to impeachment,” Collins said, making clear she intended to also vote no on the second article of obstruction of Congress.

Collins is facing a tough re-election fight for what would be her fifth term in office. Winning her seat is key for Democrats aiming to flip the Senate in November. Maine state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D), one of her top would-be challengers, has built a formidable war chest ahead of the state’s June primary. Last month, a Morning Consult tracking poll showed Collins’ approval with voters in Maine take a substantial hit. The Maine Republican surpassed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as the most unpopular senator in the country, according to the poll.

The Senate is expected to acquit Trump on both charges, with a strong majority of Republicans voting against conviction. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), the other GOP senator who supported calling witnesses, has not yet announced how he intends to vote on the removal of the president from office.

On the Democratic side, red-state Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Doug Jones of Alabama, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona remain undecided on Wednesday’s vote on the impeachment articles.

In her speech on Tuesday, Collins said it was “wrong” for Trump to ask a foreign country to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his political rival. In an earlier interview with CBS News, she said she believed Trump learned a “pretty big lesson” from impeachment and will be “much more cautious” about seeking foreign assistance in the future.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

California man who killed son for insurance is convicted of killing wife in 1991 for insurance

A man in prison for killing his son for insurance money has been convicted in California for killing his wife years earlier — and for the same reason.

The guilty verdict was returned Monday in the case of Karl Karlsen, 60, according to reports.

He was charged with setting a fire that killed his wife Christina Karlsen in 1991 in Murphys so that he could collect on a $200,000 life insurance policy he took out 19 days before her death, the Sonora Union-Democrat reported.

She died trapped in a bathroom with a boarded-up window, Mymotherlode.com, a news outlet, reported.

CONNECTICUT MAN CHARGED IN WIFE JENNIFER DULOS’ MURDER, DEAD AFTER SUICIDE ATTEMPT, LAWYER SAYS

Westlake Legal Group Karl-Karlsen-Calaveras-County-Sheriff-Office California man who killed son for insurance is convicted of killing wife in 1991 for insurance Robert Gearty fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox news fnc/us fnc article 303c5a3d-21ae-5897-a209-8491a8f8f066

Mugshot for Karl Karlsen, 59. (Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office)

In 2013, Karl Karlsen pleaded guilty in New York to murdering his 23-year-old son for $700,000 in insurance.

Levi Karlsen died in 2008 in upstate New York. He was crushed under a truck that fell off a jack, according to reports. Prosecutors said Karl Karlsen staged the scene to look like an accident.

Karl Karlsen agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a prison sentence of 15 years to life, which he is currently serving.

FLORIDA MAN, MISTRESS CHARGED IN WIFE’S MURDER-FOR-HIRE PLOT

In court Monday, Karl Karlsen exhibited no emotion as the verdict was read after a month-long trial that featured testimony from 35 prosecution witnesses, including members of his family and his wife’s family, the Union-Democrat reported.

“Three years is a long time to stand firm,” Christina Karlsen’s mother Arlen Melzer said afterward, according to the paper.

Karl Karlsen is scheduled to be sentenced in March and faces life without parole.

Defense attorney Richard Esquivel said his client would appeal the conviction.

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Christina Karlsen’s death was reopened after Karl Karlsen went to prison for their son’s death.

He had also taken out insurance on his second wife, a revelation that led her to cooperate with prosecutors, The Associated Press had reported in 2013.

“I would be worth $1.2 million dead to Karl,” Cindy Karlsen testified in court.

Westlake Legal Group Karl-Karlsen-Calaveras-County-Sheriff-Office California man who killed son for insurance is convicted of killing wife in 1991 for insurance Robert Gearty fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox news fnc/us fnc article 303c5a3d-21ae-5897-a209-8491a8f8f066   Westlake Legal Group Karl-Karlsen-Calaveras-County-Sheriff-Office California man who killed son for insurance is convicted of killing wife in 1991 for insurance Robert Gearty fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/us-regions/northeast/new-york fox-news/us/crime/homicide fox news fnc/us fnc article 303c5a3d-21ae-5897-a209-8491a8f8f066

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Andrew McCarthy: Rush Limbaugh is an American original – There’s no one like him. Keep him in your prayers

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6129310258001_6129307883001-vs Andrew McCarthy: Rush Limbaugh is an American original – There's no one like him. Keep him in your prayers National Review fox-news/politics fox-news/opinion fox-news/entertainment/media fnc/opinion fnc article Andrew McCarthy 44fdb8ed-82bf-5682-80b5-dbdba565899a

I haven’t felt much like working the last couple of days. Or like doing much else. See, Rush Limbaugh is a longtime friend of mine. Like all of Rush’s friends and tens of millions of other Americans, I’m reeling from the sudden diagnosis of advanced lung cancer.

Rush is an American original. It is said of some originals that, if you didn’t have them, you’d have to invent them. (Voltaire was talking about God when he said it; Don King, of course, about himself.) Yet no one could ever have invented Rush, because he was inconceivable.

L. BRENT BOZELL: RUSH LIMBAUGH IS OUR TRUE NORTH — WE LISTEN TO HIM TO UNDERSTAND THE WORLD

When he burst upon the national scene over three decades ago, popular political media was the preserve of the political left. The thought of anyone, much less an unabashed conservative, carrying a three-hour daily broadcast through monologues teeming with conviction and good cheer — with the occasional phone call but virtually no guests — was not just unheard of. It was not in the realm of perceived possibility.

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It took talent on loan from God, for sure. But it mainly took a guy with supreme belief in himself. Belief that was well-founded because it sprang from a unique combination of life-experience, of getting off the floor when life knocks you down, and of a sense of destiny about doing what you’re born to do. Add to that Rush’s abiding faith in the innate goodness of America — of her traditions, love of liberty, willingness to sacrifice, and grasp that human flourishing means learning from our mistakes.

He needs that strength now.

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING ANDREW McCARTHY’S COLUMN IN THE NATIONAL REVIEW

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM ANDREW McCARTHY

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6129310258001_6129307883001-vs Andrew McCarthy: Rush Limbaugh is an American original – There's no one like him. Keep him in your prayers National Review fox-news/politics fox-news/opinion fox-news/entertainment/media fnc/opinion fnc article Andrew McCarthy 44fdb8ed-82bf-5682-80b5-dbdba565899a   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6129310258001_6129307883001-vs Andrew McCarthy: Rush Limbaugh is an American original – There's no one like him. Keep him in your prayers National Review fox-news/politics fox-news/opinion fox-news/entertainment/media fnc/opinion fnc article Andrew McCarthy 44fdb8ed-82bf-5682-80b5-dbdba565899a

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Iowa Confusion, Democratic Jostling and Caucus Criticism: What We Know

Video

transcript

‘A Complete Mess’: Still No Results from Iowa Caucus

Democratic candidates tried to spin the chaotic situation at the Iowa caucuses, and campaigned in New Hampshire as they awaited the results.

“It would not let me change his number at all, like to zero.” “So we’re going to need each representative to sign off on here from the preference group.” “So we don’t know all the results, but we know by the time it’s all said and done, Iowa you have shocked the nation. By all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious.” “And when those results are announced, I have a good feeling we’re going to be doing very, very well here in Iowa.” “Thank you so much. So listen, it is too close to call. So I’m just going to tell you what I do know —” Audience member: “You won!” “We don’t know exactly what it is yet, but we feel good about where we are.” “You know technology can fail on us, and we have to go the old-fashioned way and count them by hand — that’s what we have to do.” “This simply is not the way that we should do this. It was a complete mess. It is not reliable in the way that we want this to be reliable when we’re starting off the process of electing the most important public servant in our country and in the world.” “Well I’d rather them be accurate than rush it.” “But when you expect the results, and you don’t get them, you are disappointed.”

Westlake Legal Group 04primary-livebriefing-top2-videoSixteenByNine3000 Iowa Confusion, Democratic Jostling and Caucus Criticism: What We Know Warren, Elizabeth Presidential Election of 2020 Manchester (NH) Iowa Democratic Party Buttigieg, Pete (1982- )

Democratic candidates tried to spin the chaotic situation at the Iowa caucuses, and campaigned in New Hampshire as they awaited the results.CreditCredit…Mark Makela for The New York Times

  • The Iowa Democratic Party will begin releasing results from the caucuses at 5 p.m. Eastern time. The party blamed a “coding issue” in the app used to tabulate results. Officials in Nevada, the next state to hold caucuses, said they would not use a caucus app, as they had planned.

  • A frustrated pack of Democratic presidential candidates sought to turn the mood of chaos to their own advantage Tuesday morning as they barreled toward the next nominating contest, in New Hampshire. And Michael R. Bloomberg, the multibillionaire former New York City mayor, is trying to capitalize by doubling his spending on television commercials.

  • Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., among others, have events in New Hampshire today.

  • Unexplained inconsistencies in results, heated conference calls and firm denials of hacking: Read more about how the Iowa caucuses melted down.

Here’s what you need to know:

The Iowa Democratic Party will begin to release results from Monday’s caucuses at 5 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, its chairman, Troy Price, told the Democratic campaigns in a conference call.

Mr. Price told the campaigns that “the majority” of results the party had in hand would be made public later Tuesday, but he dodged questions from the campaigns about how much would be released and when final totals would become available.

“I don’t want to put a number on it but I can tell you it’s going to be more than 50 percent,” he said.

Officials on the call said the party was trying to verify results using paper records collected from each precinct and that it had dispatched staff members to collect them around the state.

The call quickly turned combative, as campaign representatives pressed the party officials about when results would be released and why it was taking so long.

“What do you have to back up these results?” one campaign representative asked.

“We have always said we have a paper trail in the process,” Mr. Price replied. “This is what we would have done on caucus night,” he added, of releasing verified results, as they have them.

Jeff Weaver, a senior aide to Mr. Sanders, praised the officials on the call and noted, “You do have a paper trail.” He warned rival campaigns against “discrediting the party,” a veiled reference to the Biden campaign, which had objected earlier in the call to the process.

“I do want to urge people in the interest of not discrediting the party, that folks who are just trying to delay the return of this because of their relative positioning in the results, last night, I think that’s a bit disingenuous,” Mr. Weaver said. “Those results should be rolled out as we get them.” But how long the process could take was not answered.

“Today, tomorrow, the next day, a week, a month?” said Jesse Harris, a senior adviser to Mr. Biden in Iowa, pressing the party. “We’re continuing to work through our process and just as soon as we can,” Mr. Price replied.

Democratic officials in Nevada tried to assuage fears that their Feb. 22 caucuses would not be a repeat of the Iowa meltdown. Officials said that they would not use the same app or vendor used in Iowa, despite previous plans to do so.

“NV Dems can confidently say that what happened in the Iowa caucus last night will not happen in Nevada,” William McCurdy, the state party chairman said in a statement. “We had already developed a series of backups and redundant reporting systems, and are currently evaluating the best path forward.”

While the state had planned to use a similar app from the technology company Shadow to calculate its results, a state party official said that after the problems in Iowa became clear, that plan was scrapped. The state party had gone through a practice run with the app without any problems last weekend.

Now, Nevada Democratic Party officials are scrambling to decide which of their backup plans they will put in place for the caucuses. The state party paid Shadow at least $58,000 to develop an app, and officials believed the company had created a slightly different plan for the state.

The Nevada caucus works somewhat differently in Nevada than in Iowa, with early voting open for the first time this year with written preference cards for candidates printed in English, Spanish and Tagalog. More than 80 early voting locations will be open beginning Feb. 15.

The app used in Iowa was not properly tested at a statewide scale, said people who were briefed on the app by the state party.

The app was built by Shadow Inc., a for-profit technology company that is also used by the Nevada Democratic Party, the next state to hold a caucus, as well as by multiple presidential campaigns.

The secrecy around the app this year came from the Iowa Democratic Party, which asked that even its name be withheld from the public. Read more here.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_168332433_f6ea3ec3-e5ae-4e34-b44e-21fcd13f97e2-articleLarge Iowa Confusion, Democratic Jostling and Caucus Criticism: What We Know Warren, Elizabeth Presidential Election of 2020 Manchester (NH) Iowa Democratic Party Buttigieg, Pete (1982- )

Mr. Bloomberg at a campaign event in Sacramento, Calif., on Monday.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

COMPTON, Calif. — Mr. Bloomberg’s presidential campaign moved on Tuesday to exploit the chaotic outcome of the Iowa caucuses, authorizing his campaign team to double his spending on television commercials in every market where he is currently advertising and expand his campaign’s field staff to more than 2,000 people, strategists involved in the conversations said.

The Bloomberg campaign has been trying to chart an unprecedented route to the Democratic nomination, skipping the first four contests in February but aggressively contesting the array of larger states that begin voting in March. From the outset, Mr. Bloomberg’s advisers believed the strategy would only have a chance of working if another moderate candidate — most likely former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. — failed to emerge from February with a decisive upper hand in the race.

In an interview on Monday in Compton, Mr. Bloomberg was unusually blunt about his campaign spending strategy and his intent to seek advantages while his rivals toiled in the four early states, which have relatively few delegates needed to win the nomination.

“It’s much more efficient to go to the big states, to go to the swing states,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “The others chose to compete in the first four. And nobody makes them do it, they wanted to do it. I think part of it is because the conventional wisdom is ‘Oh you can’t possibly win without them.’”

Later, he added: “Those are old rules.”

Mr. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor whose campaign is fueled by a multibillion-dollar personal fortune, conferred with advisers on Tuesday morning about the muddled results in Iowa. Encouraged by the murky outcome, Mr. Bloomberg authorized his campaign team to undertake the expansion in advertising and staff.

His campaign also released a new advertisement scheduled to be aired nationally Tuesday night, when President Trump is set to deliver his State of the Union address. The spot focuses on criticism of Mr. Trump, warning of a nation “divided by an angry, out-of-control president” and a White House “beset by lies, chaos and corruption.”

The advertisement tries to portray Mr. Bloomberg as the candidate who is best equipped to beat Mr. Trump in November.

The Iowa Democratic Party said Tuesday that there were delays in announcing the results from the precincts because the new app that it planned to use for its caucus results reported only partial data.

“As part of our investigation, we determined with certainty that the underlying data collected via the app was sound,” Mr. Price said. “While the app was recording data accurately, it was reporting out only partial data. We have determined that this was due to a coding issue in the reporting system. This issue was identified and fixed.”

The electoral debacle in Iowa raised bipartisan concerns on Capitol Hill about the caucus system, prompting one top Democrat — Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois — to suggest that it be abandoned entirely.

Mr. Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, complained that the caucus system “limits and restricts opportunities for people to vote,” effectively disenfranchising poor and working people who do not have time to attend.

“As I watched that on television last night, I thought to myself, ‘How many folks at the end of a workday, picking kids up from day care are likely to show up at the caucus?’ Not many,” Mr. Durbin said. “I think we’ve got to take a look at it as a party.”

Senator Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina and the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Mark Warner of Virginia, the committee’s top Democrat, both sought to tamp down fears that the caucus system had been hacked.

“We’re confident there was no outside interference in their system, and I’m sure the party in Iowa will figure out where their glitches were,” Mr. Burr told reporters.

“We have enough problems with the Russians and other foreign actors trying to destroy Americans’ trust in our elections — we don’t need to add fuel to the fires of those efforts,” Mr. Warner said in a statement.”

But Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, who sought his party’s nomination for 2016, warned there would be more problems to come: “Think #IowaCaucus meltdown is bad?” he wrote on Twitter. “Imagine very close Presidential election Russian or Chinese hackers tamper with preliminary reporting system in key counties When the official results begin to be tabulated it shows a different winner than the preliminary results online.”

Sean Bagniewski had seen the problems coming.

It wasn’t so much that the new app that the Iowa Democratic Party had planned to use to report its caucus results didn’t work. It was that people were struggling to even log in or download it in the first place. After all, there had never been any app-specific training for this many precinct chairs.

So last Thursday Mr. Bagniewski, the chairman of the Democratic Party in Polk County, Iowa’s most populous, decided to scrap the app entirely, instructing his precinct chairs to simply call in the caucus results as they had always done.

The only problem was, when the time came during Monday’s caucuses, those precinct chairs could not connect with party leaders via phone. Mr. Bagniewski instructed his executive director to take pictures of the results with her smartphone and drive over to the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters to deliver them in person. She was turned away without explanation, he said.

It was a surreal opening act for the 2020 campaign that included unexplained “inconsistencies” in results that were not released to the public, heated conference calls with campaigns that were hung up on by the state party, firm denials of any kind of hacking and a presidential primary left in a strange state of almost suspended animation.

“A systemwide disaster,” said Derek Eadon, a former Iowa Democratic Party chairman.

Amid the chaos and confusion, there were conflicting candidate speeches declaring various degrees of victory, as Mr. Sanders’s campaign released its own set of favorable partial results, and multiple campaigns hoped that the mess would not lessen the eventual impact of what they said appeared to be a disappointing first test for Mr. Biden.

DES MOINES — In a brief question-and-answer session with reporters aboard his charter plane before it took off for New Hampshire, Mr. Sanders denounced the Iowa Democratic Party for not being able to report caucus results as his campaign released internal numbers that showed him winning the state on all metrics.

“I think we should all be disappointed in the inability of the party to come up with timely results,” he said. “But we are not casting aspersions on the votes that are being counted.”

“This is not a good thing,” he added. “This is not a good night for democracy.”

At the same time, his campaign released its internal results, with 60 percent of precincts counted, that it said showed Mr. Sanders winning the first head count and the count after realignment.

Still, Mr. Sanders stopped short of saying he had won, saying only that based on that information, “We’re in pretty good shape.”

“We’re not declaring victory,” he said.

He also expressed disappointment with the turnout numbers, after focusing his closing message on getting people out to caucus.

“What I have heard is they are somewhat higher than they were in 2016, not as high frankly as I would’ve liked to have seen,” he said.

Asked what his reaction was to Mr. Buttigieg declaring victory on Monday night, before any results were reported, Mr. Sanders was dismissive.

“I don’t know how anybody declares victory before you have official statement as to election results,” he said.

Mr. Sanders also said attempts by the Biden campaign to discredit the results were “unfair.”

KEENE, N.H. — Ms. Warren of Massachusetts called on the Iowa Democratic Party to “get it together,” saying the reporting errors that upended caucus results threatened to damage trust in the Democratic process.

Speaking to reporters after an event in Keene, her first in New Hampshire after landing at 4 a.m., Ms. Warren said reports that the Iowa Democratic Party planned to release half of the caucus results later this afternoon made little sense.

“I just don’t understand what that means to release half of the data,” she said. “So, I think they ought to get it together and release all of the data.”

Ms. Warren told the audience that the results showed a close race atop the Iowa field between her, Mr. Sanders and Mr. Buttigieg. Her campaign has sought to frame the caucus results — however unclear — as a bad night for Mr. Biden.

Asked if voters will be able to trust results, Ms. Warren replied, “I hope they’ll be able to.” At the same time, her campaign sent an email to supporters framing the results as a good night for them amid a tumultuous time for democracy.

“I know there are reasons to feel frustrated and discouraged,” it read. “Yesterday we had a bumpy democratic process. Tonight a lawless president will deliver his State of the Union. Tomorrow Republicans in the Senate will likely declare that their loyalty is to Donald Trump rather than our Constitution and the rule of law.”

NASHUA, N.H. — Fresh off an overnight flight from Des Moines, Mr. Buttigieg met the mayor of Nashua, Jim Donchess, for a coffee at the Riverwalk Café downtown.

“You did a great job last night on your speech,” Mr. Donchess said, as he greeted Mr. Buttigieg on a sidewalk outside of the coffee shop.

“Thanks,” Mr. Buttigieg said. “Felt good.”

As the two men walked down the sidewalk, Mr. Buttigieg told the Nashua mayor that it was “frustrating” to not have good results, but said “you can’t deny” that he had had a strong night.

Mr. Donchess, a four-term mayor, announced his endorsement of Mr. Buttigieg this morning, though said he had been considering it for some time and was not influenced by the reports of a strong finish in Iowa.

Mr. Buttigieg lingered in the coffee shop for about 10 minutes, sitting down with three voters to talk about local issues. He ignored questions from reporters about whether his speech last night in Iowa, seemingly declaring victory absent any official results, was premature.

Voters here — both those who said they were undecided and those who said they would vote for Mr. Buttigieg — offered a collective shrug at the former mayor’s decision to declare victory in the absence of any official results.

Asked if it was appropriate for Mr. Buttigieg to have suggested he had won, Ben Gayman, an undecided voter from Manchester, did not hesitate.

“Of course,” he said. “They all did.”

A lot of reasons contributed to Monday night’s events, chiefly a breakdown of the process by which caucus leaders were supposed to report results to the Iowa Democratic Party.

But one factor was baked into that process from almost the moment the caucuses ended four years ago.

Historically, the party had focused on highlighting only one caucus result: the number of delegates each candidate had earned for the state convention. The winner of the Iowa caucuses was the person who earned the most state delegates, which translate into national delegates, which determine the nomination. This year, however, the state party chose to release four results from the caucuses.

That’s because in 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton edged out Mr. Sanders in the state delegate count by a quarter of a percentage point, earning roughly 700 to Mr. Sanders’s 697. That meant 23 national delegates for Mrs. Clinton and 21 for Mr. Sanders — an inconsequential difference between the two rivals.

Mr. Sanders’s 2016 campaign fought for an audit in Iowa — comparing the reported results with the papers on which caucus leaders had recorded voters’ preferences — and accused the state Democratic Party of a lack of transparency.

Largely because of Mr. Sanders’s objections, the party decided to release additional numbers in 2020 that it had always logged but never made public: the number of supporters each candidate had in the first round of voting and the number he or she had in the second round, after nonviable candidates were eliminated and caucusgoers realigned.

The idea was that all this data would provide a fuller picture of each candidate’s strength. But it also made reporting the results more complicated. Read more here.

Reporting was contributed by Maggie Astor, Peter Baker, Alexander Burns, Nick Corasaniti, Sydney Ember, Reid J. Epstein, Sheera Frenkel, Shane Goldmacher, Christine Hauser, Astead W. Herndon, Nicole Perlroth, Jonathan Martin, Jennifer Medina and Matt Stevens.

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Jeffrey Epstein’s Mystery Bank Came Alive After His Death

Westlake Legal Group 00Epsteinbank1-facebookJumbo Jeffrey Epstein’s Mystery Bank Came Alive After His Death Wills and Estates Virgin Islands (US) Tax Credits, Deductions and Exemptions Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Banking and Financial Institutions

In the years after Jeffrey Epstein registered as a sex offender, he closed his money management firm and started a business to develop algorithms and mine DNA and financial databases.

Then he set up a bank.

In a banking license application reviewed by The New York Times, Mr. Epstein described himself as one of the investing world’s “pioneers” and said he wanted to pursue the “dynamic discipline of international banking.”

Officials in the Virgin Islands, the United States territory where Mr. Epstein set up most of his businesses, approved a license for him in 2014 to run one of the territory’s first international banking entities, a specialized bank that can do business only with offshore clients. The approval was unusual, given Mr. Epstein’s status as a convicted sex offender.

The bank, Southern Country International, renewed its license for each of the next five years, but it’s unclear whether it conducted any business or had any customers. Mr. Epstein, who died while in federal custody last summer following his arrest on sex trafficking charges, does not appear to have done any marketing for the bank or hired much staff.

The bank was created under a territorial law that lacked many of the oversight requirements banks are usually subject to, and its regulatory file is largely empty. A lawyer for Mr. Epstein told officials in the Virgin Islands in 2018 that Southern Country had not commenced operations. And regulators in the territory said they did not exercise oversight of the bank because it did not appear to be doing any business.

And yet, after Mr. Epstein’s death, his estate transferred more than $12 million to Southern Country, according to court documents.

On Tuesday, at a court hearing in the Virgin Islands on motions involving Mr. Epstein’s estate, a magistrate judge, Carolyn Hermon-Purcell, questioned the estate’s lawyers about the transfers to Southern Country, saying the disclosure was not satisfactory. The judge said she did not know why Southern Country would be receiving checks from the estate. “There’s no explanation for it,” she said.

A lawyer for the estate responded that some of the payment had been made in error, but the judge was not satisfied with his response and asked him to follow up with a fuller accounting.

The checks — listed in the estate’s transactions for routine payments such as cable-TV bills and phone service for Mr. Epstein’s many properties — stand out. The list of payments were filed with Judge Hermon-Purcell, who is overseeing his $635 million estate, including the possible establishment of a compensation fund for his victims.

That Mr. Epstein was able to get a banking license in the first place is unusual.

His 2008 conviction in Florida on a charge of soliciting prostitution from an underage girl required him to register as a sex offender. Most bank operators doing business in the United States are required to undergo rigorous background checks, and most banking institutions are subject to oversight by the arm of the Treasury that investigates suspicious financial transactions. Neither was required by the Virgin Islands when Mr. Epstein submitted the application in 2013.

The territory had passed its international banking entity law a year earlier, in hopes of enticing investment from overseas. It modeled its law on that of Puerto Rico, where international banking entities have existed for three decades.

Such organizations are attractive to offshore investors because the banks are able to offer more favorable tax treatment than the investors’ own countries can. In return, the territories expect local residents to manage the banks, even though they cannot use its services.

These specialized banks have drawn scrutiny because of their potential for abuse, including money laundering. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York describes international bank entities in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as “high-risk” institutions. Last year, it temporarily suspended applications for them to obtain financial services from the Fed until it can issue stricter rules for them.

Mr. Epstein was carefully evasive in answering a question on the application that was meant to reveal information about an applicant’s criminal record. His response mentioned his guilty plea to state charges in Florida, but it played down other elements of the case.

“For a relatively brief period, in what has otherwise been a productive and accomplished life,” the application said, Mr. Epstein “did face some legal difficulties relating to matters alleged to have taken place seven years ago.” The application noted that a federal investigation had been “discontinued.”

But that answer was misleading, said Richard Scott Carnell, a former assistant secretary for financial institutions at the Treasury Department. The application did not reflect that Mr. Epstein’s plea deal included an agreement with federal prosecutors, who promised not to bring their own charges. The agreement acknowledged that federal authorities had compiled a long list of other possible underage victims.

“Bank regulators expect applicants to be candid,” said Mr. Carnell, now an associate professor at Fordham Law School. “You’d never suspect there was a nonprosecution agreement. As a bank regulator, I’d be outraged to learn that an applicant had misled me in that way.”

In his application, Mr. Epstein listed as references James E. Staley, the chief executive of Barclays who had cultivated a relationship with Mr. Epstein while at JPMorgan Chase. Another reference was Andrew Farkas, a New York real estate tycoon and co-owner of a marina and office complex on St. Thomas with Mr. Epstein. Spokesmen for both men said they had been unaware they were listed as references, along with JPMorgan and FirstBank, a Puerto Rico-based lender with branches in the Virgin Islands that long held some of Mr. Epstein’s accounts.

The application was submitted by Erika A. Kellerhals, a longtime tax lawyer for Mr. Epstein in the Virgin Islands. She did not return requests for comment.

Southern Country had not commenced doing business as of April 2018, according to correspondence between Ms. Kellerhals and the territory’s banking department. Regulators said the bank was a “self-reporting” company and did not require additional regulatory oversight if it was not operational.

But court documents show Southern Country was active for some of last year.

Records filed by the estate on Friday indicate that Southern Country had $693,157 in assets when Mr. Epstein died on Aug. 10. Then, in mid-December, the estate transferred $15.5 million to Southern Country in two checks. Southern Country sent back $2.6 million, leaving the total it received at $12.9 million. The documents filed by the estate do not give a reason for the transfers.

It’s also not clear what Southern Country did with that money. Two weeks later, the year-end value of Southern Country’s assets was $499,759, according to the estate’s filings.

The estate has told officials in the Virgin Islands that it does not intend to renew the bank’s license again.

Around the time the territory granted Mr. Epstein his banking license, it also gave a lucrative tax break to Southern Trust, a company Mr. Epstein said was developing sophisticated algorithms to mine DNA and financial databases. The tax break came from the territory’s Economic Development Authority, which was approved by the territory’s former governor, John de Jongh Jr., while his wife, Cecile, worked for Mr. Epstein. Neither Ms. de Jongh nor her husband returned messages seeking comment.

The tax break, granted in 2013, was a boon for Mr. Epstein. Southern Trust generated about $300 million in profit in six years, and he paid an effective tax rate of about 3.9 percent. The source of Southern Trust’s revenue is not clear; the bare-bones corporate filings made by the company in the Virgin Islands do not list any clients.

Although the Virgin Islands was long a place where Mr. Epstein got his way, it has lately cast itself as one of his victims.

In a lawsuit last month, the attorney general of the Virgin Islands, Denise N. George, said Mr. Epstein had sullied the territory’s reputation with his conduct. She sued Mr. Epstein’s estate, seeking to seize his private islands and dissolve what she said were shell companies acting as fronts for his sex-trafficking enterprise.

The suit seeks to intervene in the administration of Mr. Epstein’s will to safeguard assets for dozens of his victims, claiming the coexecutors may have a conflict of interest because they were officers in many of Mr. Epstein’s companies, including Southern Country and Southern Trust. The coexecutors, Darren Indyke and Richard Kahn, did not return requests for comment.

Judge Hermon-Purcell, the magistrate judge overseeing the administration of Mr. Epstein’s will in the Virgin Islands, heard arguments on the attorney general’s request at the hearing on Tuesday. The judge said she would issue a ruling at a later date.

Freeman Rogers contributed reporting.

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Tesla’s Stock Is Up 40% in Two Days. What’s Going On?

There’s a new rocket ship from Elon Musk: Tesla’s stock.

The electric-car manufacturer’s shares were trading above $920 on Tuesday afternoon, up from $650 at the end of last week — a gain of more than 40 percent. Since Jan. 1, the price has more than doubled.

You can credit much of the increase to the seemingly boundless enthusiasm of Tesla’s supporters, for whom Mr. Musk, the chief executive, is a hero. But the haters appear to be playing a role, too: After betting that the company would fail, many seem to be cutting their losses — and that is actually pushing shares higher.

Here’s what’s happening.

To the bulls, Tesla is positioned for greatness now that it has recovered from a rocky start to 2019.

After burning through $1.1 billion in the first half of last year as it struggled with the production and delivery of its more affordable Model 3 car, Tesla turned a corner in the second half of 2019. In the fourth quarter, it generated $1 billion in cash even after capital expenditures and posted its second straight quarterly profit.

Even though Tesla posted an annual loss for 2019, as it has every year, its backers argue that the company has corrected course. Operating costs were down about 7 percent last year, while automotive sales were up 13 percent and deliveries rose 50 percent. With a new Shanghai factory producing vehicles in China and another under construction in Europe, Tesla is also poised for global expansion, they say.

But the company’s sky-high valuation — which has more than tripled since late October — is about more than improved efficiency and new factories. It’s a bet on Tesla’s future.

The company has a lock on the small, but growing battery electric vehicle market — and the bulls believe Tesla’s not about to lose it. In a note over the weekend, ARK, an investment management firm, said it expected Tesla’s share price to soar to $7,000 in five years based on a belief that Tesla can increase profits, decrease costs and build a fully autonomous taxi network. Even less-exuberant analysts say the company has proved itself.

“Tesla has demonstrated that it can build cars while generating cash and with best-in-class profit margins,” said Pierre Ferragu, an analyst at New Street Research. His rating on the stock is neutral, however, with a price target of $800.

There have been several reasons to bet against Tesla’s shares.

The company seemed unable to generate enough cash from car sales to cover its costs. It was having real problems producing cars on time. Mr. Musk behaved in unorthodox ways, including making remarks that courted scrutiny from regulators and resulted in his stepping down as Tesla chairman. And according to critics, Tesla has long been overvalued, leaving the stock vulnerable if its financial results disappointed.

The recent turnaround seems to have quieted some of the critics, but not everyone is convinced that the company has proved itself.

Vicki Bryan, chief executive of Bond Angle, a research firm, says she’s waiting to see whether recent sales growth can continue through 2020. Tesla, she says, does well when it enters new markets, often benefiting from customer tax incentives, but then struggles to keep sales growing at a fast rate.

Others point to recent safety concerns as evidence that Tesla’s quality control is lacking.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_168118242_1a188c02-b6b0-40dc-97e7-39b0c2ee71e5-articleLarge Tesla’s Stock Is Up 40% in Two Days. What’s Going On? Tesla Motors Inc Stocks and Bonds Short Selling Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Musk, Elon Electric and Hybrid Vehicles

A Tesla showroom in Manhattan.Credit…Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Investors that betted against Tesla’s stock are now helping to drive it far higher. A look at the mechanics of these bets, known as short sales, explains why.

The investors borrowed Tesla shares from their brokers and sold them, hoping to buy back the shares and return them once Tesla’s stock price declined. The difference between the price at which they sold and the lower purchase price would be their profit. A short-seller who borrowed a Tesla share, sold it at $300, and then bought it back at $200, would make a $100 gain (not counting the costs of the trade), for example.

But if a stock rises steadily above the price at which the short-sellers initially sold it, they are sitting on a loss. That loss — in theory — has no limits because a stock can keep rising. And if a stock zooms higher, as Tesla’s has, the short-sellers will usually have to rush to buy the shares to protect themselves against further losses. If enough investors do this, it pushes the stock price up even further, forcing even more buying by short-sellers. Other investors often join the buying, in the belief they can make quick and easy profits.

This effect, known as a short squeeze, not only creates losses on existing short bets, but also deters new investors from betting against the stock. The almost vertical trajectory of Tesla’s share price suggests that a particularly acute short squeeze is in progress.

S3 Partners, a data firm that tracks short-selling, estimated on Monday that the number of Tesla shares sold short had fallen 5 percent in the previous 30 days. Tesla’s stock is still one of the most shorted stocks on the stock market, though much less so than it was in the recent past.

Short squeezes are not always the end of the story. If short-sellers continue to have doubts about a company, and still have the stomach and wherewithal to bet against the company, they will look for an opportunity to sell the shares short again once the squeeze is over.

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George Washington elected 1st president: This Day in History

On this day in history, in 1789, George Washington was elected the first President of the United States.

Washington, then 56 years old, was unanimously elected by all 69 electoral votes, a distinction never achieved by any subsequent presidents.

Presidential electors were chosen from each state between Dec. 15, 1788, and Jan. 10, 1789. Only 10 states cast electoral votes, with New York having failed to put forth electors, and North Carolina and Rhode Island having not yet ratified the Constitution.

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Engraving of the fhe First Inauguration Of President George Washington on April 30th, 1789.

ROBERT’S VISIBLY REACTS TO WARREN’S IMPEACHMENT QUESTION ABOUT HIS ‘LEGITIMACY’ WITHOUT TRIAL WITNESSES

As a national hero, Washington was everyone’s first choice. He’d served as the commander in chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and was president of the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.

Per Article II of the Constitution, electors in the Electoral College have two votes and candidates who receive the majority are elected president. Candidates in second place are elected vice president. John Adams, who had served as the first U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, became the first vice president of the United States.

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Washington took the presidential oath of office on April 30, 1789, at Federal Hall in New York City — then the capital of the United States — and was inaugurated as the nation’s first president.

Washington was unanimously reelected in 1792 but refused a third term. He died on Dec. 14, 1799, at his home in Mount Vernon, Va.

Westlake Legal Group First-Inauguration-of-GW George Washington elected 1st president: This Day in History fox-news/us/this-day-in-history fox-news/politics fox news fnc/politics fnc Bradford Betz article 540f778a-d5dc-5992-ab84-04985cc3642d   Westlake Legal Group First-Inauguration-of-GW George Washington elected 1st president: This Day in History fox-news/us/this-day-in-history fox-news/politics fox news fnc/politics fnc Bradford Betz article 540f778a-d5dc-5992-ab84-04985cc3642d

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Hall of Fame voter opposing Derek Jeter keeps ballot private

The lone baseball writer who snubbed Derek Jeter for the Hall of Fame and ignited a firestorm of criticism for not voting for the New York Yankees captain has opted to keep their ballot private.

Jeter was elected to be enshrined in Cooperstown on 396 of the 397 ballots issued in the voting process. Jeter and Colorado Rockies slugger Larry Walker were both elected last month.

Walker was in his final year of eligibility. They will be inducted on July 26, along with catcher Ted Simmons and former players’ association head Marvin Miller, who were voted in last month by the Hall’s Modern Era Committee.

DUSTY BAKER REPLACES AJ HINCH AS HOUSTON ASTROS MANAGER

Westlake Legal Group 7171adb0-AP20023081278296 Hall of Fame voter opposing Derek Jeter keeps ballot private Louis Casiano fox-news/sports/mlb/new-york-yankees fox-news/sports/mlb fox news fnc/sports fnc f1dff168-1600-5117-a308-286f6835a65b article

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter speaks during the Baseball Hall of Fame news conference on. Jeter and Colorado Rockies outfielder Larry Walker will both join the 2020 Hall of Fame class. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Jeter is a 14-time All-Star who played his whole career in New York and won five Gold Glove Awards as a shortstop.

Mariano Rivera, Jeter’s teammate for five World Series titles, became the first unanimous pick for the Hall last year when he appeared on all 425 ballots.

In 2011, the BWAA decided to make the ballots public but were overruled by the Hall’s board of directors, which gave each voter the option to make their ballot public.

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Ryan Thibodaux’s vote tracker lists 331 ballots (83.4 percent), including five that are anonymous, and all included Jeter.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Westlake Legal Group 7171adb0-AP20023081278296 Hall of Fame voter opposing Derek Jeter keeps ballot private Louis Casiano fox-news/sports/mlb/new-york-yankees fox-news/sports/mlb fox news fnc/sports fnc f1dff168-1600-5117-a308-286f6835a65b article   Westlake Legal Group 7171adb0-AP20023081278296 Hall of Fame voter opposing Derek Jeter keeps ballot private Louis Casiano fox-news/sports/mlb/new-york-yankees fox-news/sports/mlb fox news fnc/sports fnc f1dff168-1600-5117-a308-286f6835a65b article

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California surgeon who appeared on Bravo may see rape case dismissed

Prosecutors said Tuesday they will seek to drop charges in a high-profile rape case against a California reality TV show surgeon and his girlfriend.

Grant Robicheaux, 39, and his girlfriend, Cerissa Riley, 32, both of Newport Beach, Calif., were charged with drugging and raping at least seven alleged victims.

“There’s insufficient evidence to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer told a news conference.

“This office will go to court as soon as possible and seek a dismissal on all the charges against the defendants,” he said.

Robicheaux and Riley in 2018 had been detained on a $1 million bail as they faced charges of kidnapping and rape by use of drugs, among other crimes. Robicheaux, an orthopedic surgeon who once appeared on reality Bravo TV show “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male,” faced up to 82 years in prison to life if convicted and Riley faced up to 63 years.

MORE THAN A DOZEN VICTIMS ACCUSE CALIFORNIA SURGEON, GIRLFRIEND OF RAPE; CALLED ‘BONNIE AND CLYDE’ TEAM

At the time, authorities said the pair slipped drugs to the victims while partying with them then sexually assaulted them while they were incapable of resisting.

Westlake Legal Group Robicheaux20-20Riley California surgeon who appeared on Bravo may see rape case dismissed Morgan Phillips fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/crime/rape fox-news/entertainment/genres/reality fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 1f185b18-382e-5d50-997d-bbe52d7bb4d3

Grant William Robicheaux, 38, and Cerissa Laura Riley, 31, were charged Tuesday with sexually assaulting two women by use of drugs, officials say. (2018) (Orange County District Attorney’s Office)

One woman reportedly described Robicheaux and Riley as a “Bonnie and Clyde” team that drugged her and engaged in sex acts without her consent. The woman told police the surgeon gave her two pills that made her feel “lethargic.” Robicheaux then had unprotected sex with the woman while his girlfriend — who also performed oral sex on the woman — recorded the ordeal on her phone.

Authorities suggested there could be “thousands of victims” of the couple. “I have not seen a case in my career that involved this many videos and sexual acts and possible crimes,” then-District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said in September 2018.

Authorities believed Robicheaux and Riley used their looks to prey on the alleged victims. “We believe the defendants used their good looks and charms to lower the inhibitions of their potential prey,” Rackauckas said. “We’ve all heard of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Well, a wolf can wear scrubs or doctor’s clothing. Or a wolf can be a beautiful woman.”

“There are thousands and thousands of videos and images. … There are several videos where women in the videos appear to be highly intoxicated, beyond the ability to consent or resist. They are barely responsive to the defendants’ sexual advances,” he added. “Based on this evidence, we believe there might be many unidentified victims out there.”

NEW ACCUSERS EMERGE IN CASE OF CALIFORNIA SURGEON, GIRLFRIEND ACCUSED OF DRUGGING, SEXUALLY ASSAULTING WOMEN

Defense lawyers said no such videos existed. Spitzer, the current DA, confirmed this.

“There is not a single piece of evidence or video or photo that shows an unconscious or incapacitated woman being sexually assaulted. Not one,” Spitzer said.

“No one felt any of the charged victims, the seven, could be proven,” Spitzer said.

The district attorney said he will meet with the victims to explain why the review did not sustain a burden of proof.

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Last year, Spitzer asked the California Attorney General’s office to take over the prosecution after he accused Rackauckas of improperly handling the case and using it to draw attention during a reelection bid.

The Associated Press and Lukas Mikelionis contributed to this report. 

Westlake Legal Group Robicheaux20-20Riley California surgeon who appeared on Bravo may see rape case dismissed Morgan Phillips fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/crime/rape fox-news/entertainment/genres/reality fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 1f185b18-382e-5d50-997d-bbe52d7bb4d3   Westlake Legal Group Robicheaux20-20Riley California surgeon who appeared on Bravo may see rape case dismissed Morgan Phillips fox-news/us/us-regions/west/california fox-news/us/crime/rape fox-news/entertainment/genres/reality fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 1f185b18-382e-5d50-997d-bbe52d7bb4d3

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