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Westlake Legal Group > News Releases (Page 55)

We Still Don’t Know How Many People Died In American Jails 4 Years Ago

Westlake Legal Group 5c1a9bc21d00002c0231b104 We Still Don’t Know How Many People Died In American Jails 4 Years Ago

It’s been four years since Sandra Bland died inside a Texas jail cell at the age of 28, and the federal government still hasn’t formally counted her death.

The Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics is supposed to track the deaths in jails and prisons throughout the United States. But their reports are falling further and further behind. DOJ’s most recent jail and prison death reports ― Mortality In State Prisons, 2001-2014 and Mortality In Local Jails, 2000-2014 ― were released two and a half years ago in December 2016, when Barack Obama was still president.

An official previously told HuffPost that the final 2015 jail death data would be released in December 2018. Then the official said there had been a further delay and that the numbers were still “awaiting final review” and would be released “as soon as possible.” Then BJS said it hoped to publish the numbers sometime this summer.

“BJS continues efforts to publish the mortality in jails and prisons reports data for 2015 and 2016,” spokeswoman Tannyr Watkins told HuffPost in March. “Staff turnovers have resulted in delays.”

HuffPost’s jail deaths project, which sought to create a database of American jail deaths in the year after Bland’s demise, found that experts agree that suicides ― the most common cause of death inside jails since the turn of the century ― were nearly always preventable. The latest BJS report on 2014 jail deaths found the highest number of suicides in American jails since 2000. 

Even when released in a timely fashion, federal jail death statistics aren’t particularly useful. The statistics are aggregated to the state level, which makes it impossible to identify specific jails with particularly concerning death rates

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has released two reports on jail and prison conditions since Trump took office: One report found Alabama state prison conditions unconstitutional and another report focused on Hampton Roads Regional Jail’s violation of inmates’ constitutional rights. HuffPost’s investigation found that Hampton Roads Regional Jail ― where Jamycheal Mitchell died in August 2015 after spending nearly four months in custody over an alleged $5 theft ― was among the nation’s deadliest jails

In the months since the DOJ report, a Hampton Roads Regional Jail inmate died of suicide, a guard was indicted for choking an inmate unconscious, and another guard pleaded guilty to assaulting an inmate by throwing water at him that the man alleged was tainted with feces. Even as deaths at the facility continue, there hasn’t been much progress on reaching a settlement with the Justice Department.

A number of jail deaths included in HuffPost’s jail deaths project have resulted in significant settlements. Bland’s family settled for $1.9 million. Mitchell’s family settled for $3 million. A lawsuit by the family of a man who died of “profound dehydration” inside a jail run by Trump supporter and former Sheriff David Clarke settled for $6.75 million. An undisclosed settlement was reached in the death of Michael Sabbie, a 35-year-old father of four who died in a privately run jail on the border of Texas and Arkansas after he begged for help and said, “I can’t breathe” as guards assaulted him and placed him in the cell where he died.

None of those deaths has been formally counted by the federal government.

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How Mexico Beefs Up Immigration Enforcement To Meet Trump’s Terms

Westlake Legal Group gettyimages-1151323539_custom-f6986dec472174f029425f132f2f2549b99252a9-s1100-c15 How Mexico Beefs Up Immigration Enforcement To Meet Trump's Terms

Mexican National Guard members prevent Central American migrants from trying to cross the Rio Grande from Juárez, Mexico, on June 21. Herika Martinez/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Herika Martinez/AFP/Getty Images

Westlake Legal Group  How Mexico Beefs Up Immigration Enforcement To Meet Trump's Terms

Mexican National Guard members prevent Central American migrants from trying to cross the Rio Grande from Juárez, Mexico, on June 21.

Herika Martinez/AFP/Getty Images

Under pressure from President Trump’s tariffs threat, Mexico reached a deal with the United States on June 7 to step up immigration enforcement and let more asylum-seekers wait in Mexico while their cases are pending in the U.S.

The agreement reads: “Given the dramatic increase in migrants moving from Central America through Mexico to the United States, both countries recognize the vital importance of rapidly resolving the humanitarian emergency and security situation. The Governments of the United States and Mexico will work together to immediately implement a durable solution.”

The deal came at a critical time: Families are fleeing Central America for a better life in the north in record numbers. Getting Mexico to take strong action was President Trump’s latest move to reverse this trend.

Here is a look at how it’s going.

What is Mexico doing to ramp up immigration enforcement?

The Mexican government’s main promise was to deploy its National Guard, even if it had not officially been created yet. NPR has seen many members of the new force still wearing army or marine uniforms but with National Guard armbands. About 6,500 guard members are deployed near Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala and another 15,000 are patrolling the northern part of Mexico, on its side of the U.S. border, according to Mexican officials. The National Guard is working, often alongside immigration enforcement agents, to prevent migrants from entering Mexico from Guatemala in the south, and to stop them from leaving to the U.S. in the north.

Westlake Legal Group gettyimages-1160247224-88429916a8ac2c17303b7275c1f863f5311aa9fe-s1100-c15 How Mexico Beefs Up Immigration Enforcement To Meet Trump's Terms

A member of Mexico’s new National Guard watches over the Suchiate River to prevent illegal border crossings from Guatemala into Mexico’s southern border in Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas state. Cristopher Rogel Blanquet/Getty Images hide caption

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Cristopher Rogel Blanquet/Getty Images

Westlake Legal Group  How Mexico Beefs Up Immigration Enforcement To Meet Trump's Terms

A member of Mexico’s new National Guard watches over the Suchiate River to prevent illegal border crossings from Guatemala into Mexico’s southern border in Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas state.

Cristopher Rogel Blanquet/Getty Images

Mexico’s immigration agency added more checkpoints on highways in the south, where they search buses and cars for undocumented migrants. Officials have stepped up raids of a freight train people call La Bestia, or The Beast — long known as a quick and free, but risky, way for migrants to travel north. Several bus companies in the country now require immigration documents to purchase a ticket.

The Mexican government is hiring new immigration agents as well as transferring federal police to the institution. But 500 immigration agents were fired in June as part of an anti-corruption effort, according to the agency’s new director, Francisco Garduño Yáñez. He said many had been involved in human trafficking and extorting migrants.

Mexico also said it would dismantle people-smuggling networks. While a few large trucks have been caught secretly carrying dozens or hundreds of migrants north, these busts were fairly common before the surge and Mexico has yet to detail advances on breaking up smuggling networks. Some reporting suggests smugglers continue to thrive.

What about asylum-seekers?

It can take months or even years to wait for asylum in the United States. Mexico agreed with the U.S. to expand the Migrant Protection Protocols, a program commonly known as “Remain in Mexico.” Under MPP, some of the migrants crossing the border to request asylum in the U.S. are sent back to Mexico to wait for their day in U.S. immigration court.

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But there are problems with the program. Asylum-seekers are sent to cities including Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez and Nuevo Laredo, some of the most violent in Mexico. Migrants in the program have reported being kidnapped, extorted and raped after returning to Mexico. Government and nonprofit shelters are overwhelmed and migrants say they receive little or no support from the Mexican government. The conditions are so bad that many asylum-seekers have voluntarily been bused back to their home countries by Mexican and United Nations authorities.

The legal process for people under MPP is confusing, constantly changing and erodes due process, according to lawyers representing the asylum-seekers. Human rights advocates say migrants detained in Mexico are often denied the opportunity to request asylum before being deported.

Mexican authorities have registered a record number of people seeking asylum in Mexico this year. The national refugee agency says 31,355 people requested asylum in Mexico in the first half of 2019, the largest portion of whom were from Honduras. That is already more than last year’s overall total. With an annual budget of just $1.2 million, the agency’s director says, it needs more funds and resources to process the applications and resettle those granted protection. The country granted asylum in 53% of completed cases in 2018, led by a 98% approval rate for Venezuelans. Roughly a third of Guatemalan, Honduran and Salvadoran applicants were granted asylum here in 2018.

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Since 2014, Washington has provided more than $100 million to help Mexico with immigration control, including equipment and training, according to a Congressional Research Service report published last month. The U.S. has allocated millions more in asylum and refugee assistance for Mexico. But the June deal did not include additional support.

Is this the first time Mexico has cracked down on migrants?

No. Mexico’s last major immigration enforcement effort started in 2014, after thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America arrived at the U.S. border. Mexico launched the Southern Border Plan with support of the armed forces to catch migrants at a geographical bottleneck in southern Mexico called the Tehuantepec Isthmus. Subsequently, the U.S. began providing financial support and training to Mexican immigration authorities through the Mérida Initiative. In 2015, In the first full year of this plan, Mexico increased migrant arrests by 50% to 180,000 and deportations by 68% to 177,000, but those numbers have ebbed and flowed since. Some experts see the current efforts as a ramp-up of the Southern Border Plan.

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What have been the results this time?

In June 2019, in the weeks following the deal the Trump administration reached with Mexico’s government, the U.S. saw a 28% drop in the number of people detained after crossing the Southwest border, the first decrease in a year. A number of factors including, summer heat, were probably at work, but the decline was likely driven in part by Mexican enforcement.

Mexico detained more than 29,000 migrants that month, up 200% compared with June 2018. Deportations totaled nearly 22,000 in June 2019, up 180% from June 2018. Both are Mexico’s highest monthly totals in more than a decade.

These trends could waver as the number of people traveling toward the U.S. usually drops in hotter summer months.

The Remain in Mexico plan has also expanded in recent weeks since the U.S.-Mexico deal. From Jan. 26 when the program began until April 8 (when the program was briefly suspended), the U.S. returned 1,323 people to Mexico. From April 16 until June 7, another 9,060 were returned to Mexico. Since the U.S.-Mexico deal was signed June 7, another 8,110 have been sent back to Mexico, nearly doubling the total of the previous four months combined. As of July 7, a total of 18,503 people had been sent back to Mexico, according to the country’s National Migration Institute.

Who is getting caught in the dragnet and why are they leaving their countries?

Westlake Legal Group ap_19185798241405_custom-c47cccdc5c57993c5fe0bfc08146bcea16678476-s1100-c15 How Mexico Beefs Up Immigration Enforcement To Meet Trump's Terms

Detained migrants huddle together in a storage room at the back of the Azteca Hotel where they tried to hide from Mexican immigration agents conducting a raid, in Veracruz, Mexico, June 27. Under increasing U.S. pressure to reduce the flow of Central Americans through Mexican territory, Mexico’s government has stepped up enforcement. Felix Marquez/AP hide caption

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Felix Marquez/AP

Westlake Legal Group  How Mexico Beefs Up Immigration Enforcement To Meet Trump's Terms

Detained migrants huddle together in a storage room at the back of the Azteca Hotel where they tried to hide from Mexican immigration agents conducting a raid, in Veracruz, Mexico, June 27. Under increasing U.S. pressure to reduce the flow of Central Americans through Mexican territory, Mexico’s government has stepped up enforcement.

Felix Marquez/AP

Most migrants Mexico has detained in 2019 come from Central America. Hondurans represent 46%, Guatemalans 26%, and Salvadorans 10% of the total migrants arrested this year.

Much of the region called the Northern Triangle — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — continues to suffer from violent crime, poverty, climate change and other factors that have driven families to flee in droves.

Smaller groups include Haitians (3%) and Cubans (5%). Some Haitians are fleeing economic and political instability, while others previously escaped after the 2011 earthquake and have spent years traveling from country to country in the Americas.

The reason Cubans travel through Mexico largely goes back to President Barack Obama ending a Cold War-era policy that allowed Cubans fleeing the country to be eligible for U.S. residency a year after setting foot on U.S. soil. So instead of Cubans trying to reach the U.S. by sea, which could lead to quick arrest and deportation, they now fly to other nearby countries like Nicaragua and Guyana and make their way over land to the U.S.-Mexico border to request asylum.

Many Nicaraguans, who make up 2% of those detained, are fleeing their country’s prolonged political crisis marked by repression and political persecution from President Daniel Ortega.

Other migrants traveling through Mexico come from as far as Africa and Asia. More than 1,000 Cameroonians have been detained in Mexico so far this year, as a violent conflict in the central African nation between its majority French-speaking and minority English-speaking populations continues. More than 1,000 Congolese have also been caught passing through Mexico, as years of brutal conflict continue to force people out. Hundreds of migrants from Angola, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have also been detained in Mexico this year.

Why they all choose the U.S. as their destination varies, largely combining reasons related to safety, economic opportunity and family ties in the country.

What is the end goal?

The Trump administration says it wants to reduce the number of Central American immigrants and asylum-seekers crossing the Southwestern border. The U.S.-Mexico agreement says: “Both parties also agree that, in the event the measures adopted do not have the expected results, they will take further actions. Therefore, the United States and Mexico will continue their discussions on the terms of additional understandings to address irregular migrant flows and asylum issues, to be completed and announced within 90 days, if necessary.”

But it never says what “expected results” means. The countries agreed to reconvene after 45 days from the start of the deal, roughly in late July, to assess progress. But there is no protocol for what happens then.

After long criticizing Mexico’s handling of immigration, President Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on July 1 that he was pleased with Mexico’s recent efforts.

The lack of clear goals leaves Mexico in a weak bargaining position. It also leaves the country vulnerable to factors outside its control, like a worsening crisis in any of the migrants’ home countries.

Additionally, Mexico may not gain anything from the agreement as it stands, beyond improving its immigration control. But it can hold off U.S. tariffs, a pressure tactic President Trump has used on other countries. If Mexico fails to satisfy Trump’s demands, the next step could for Mexico to enter into a “safe third country” agreement with the U.S. That would mean that asylum-seekers who travel through Mexico would have to apply for protection in that country, and would be ineligible to do so in U.S.

Mexico may be stopping more migrants from getting to the U.S. and taking in more asylum-seekers for now, but there’s no evidence yet of progress toward “resolving the humanitarian emergency and security situation,” as the agreement says.

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‘Star Trek’ actress Stephanie Niznik dead at 52

Actress Stephanie Niznik has died at the age of 52.

The star reportedly died unexpectedly on June 23 in Encino, California, according to Variety.

She’s best known for playing Nina Feeney, the neighbor of the Brown family, on the drama series “Everwood” from 2002 – 2006. She also played Perim in the 1998 movie, “Star Trek: Insurrection” and made an appearance on “Star Trek: Enterprise.”

In 2017, she returned for the show’s 15th-anniversary panel at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour.

Westlake Legal Group GettyImages-825673998 'Star Trek' actress Stephanie Niznik dead at 52 Jessica Napoli fox-news/entertainment/events/departed fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 6036f977-5146-5d9f-b6b4-d3d742d5fa97

Actor Stephanie Niznik of ”Everwood’- A 15th Anniversary Reunion’ speaks onstage during the CW portion of the 2017 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Niznik also has roles in “Nash Bridges,” “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Diagnosis Murder.”

She was a Bangor, Maine native and graduated from Duke University. Niznik is reportedly survived by her mother, stepfather, brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephews, aunt and uncle, and her beloved dogs, Nucleus and Jake.

No cause of death has been given and her manager did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment.

Story developing. 

Westlake Legal Group nizlik 'Star Trek' actress Stephanie Niznik dead at 52 Jessica Napoli fox-news/entertainment/events/departed fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 6036f977-5146-5d9f-b6b4-d3d742d5fa97   Westlake Legal Group nizlik 'Star Trek' actress Stephanie Niznik dead at 52 Jessica Napoli fox-news/entertainment/events/departed fox news fnc/entertainment fnc article 6036f977-5146-5d9f-b6b4-d3d742d5fa97

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Tracking Tropical Storm Barry: Louisiana coast braces for season's first hurricane

CLOSEWestlake Legal Group icon_close Tracking Tropical Storm Barry: Louisiana coast braces for season's first hurricane

Tropical Storm Barry is intensifying in the northern Gulf, and the threat of widespread flooding in Louisiana and Mississippi looms over the next 48 to 72 hours. Ryan Truchelut, WeatherTiger

At only 5 mph, slow-moving Tropical Storm Barry continues to head towards the Gulf Coast bringing torrents of rain that could cause disastrous flooding to areas in its path.

As of 4 a.m. CDT Saturday, bands of rain are moving onshore with the storm located 55 miles southwest of Morgan City, Louisiana with maximum sustained winds near 65 mph, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

The storm is expected to make landfall sometime Saturday morning as the first hurricane of the season near Morgan City with wind speeds approaching 74 mph. A hurricane warning is in effect along the Louisiana coast, from Intracoastal City to Grand Isle.

Although a relatively weaker hurricane, the NHC said on their Facebook page that forecasters are mainly concerned about the water, both from storm surge and inland freshwater flooding. Governors declared emergencies in Louisiana and Mississippi where the storm is expected to inflict the most damage.

Watch Live: Webcams show Barry’s landfall in New Orleans and the Louisiana coast

“It’s powerful. It’s strengthening. And water is going to be a big issue,” National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham warned.

The NHC reported that Barry is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 10 to 20 inches over south-central and southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi. Some areas could get as much as 25 inches.

In all, some 14 trillion gallons of rainwater is forecast to fall on Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas during Barry, according to an estimate from BAM Weather meteorologist Ryan Maue.

Water levels have already begun to rise along the coast of southern and southeastern Louisiana, portions of Lake Pontchartrain, and portions of coastal Mississippi where a storm surge warning is in effect.

In the past three years, inland flooding has accounted for 83% of the deaths during tropical cyclones, half of those in vehicles, according to the agency.

That is a lot of rain: How will Barry compare to Louisiana’s 2016 flooding?

In Louisiana, New Orleans residents were urged to “shelter in place” in lieu of evacuation orders. For the first time since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city 14 years ago, Gov. John Bel Edwards said all floodgates were sealed in Hurricane Risk Reduction System.

Rescue crews and about 3,000 National Guard troops were posted around Louisiana with boats, high-water vehicles and helicopters. President Donald Trump declared a federal emergency for Louisiana, authorizing federal agencies to coordinate relief efforts.

Contributing: Doug Stanglin, Doyle Rice, Leigh Guidry, USA TODAY; Nick Siano, Lafayette Daily Advertiser; Associated Press

Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT

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Devin Nunes: Without jail time for Russia probe ‘dirty cops’, no Republican will trust DOJ for ‘generations’

Westlake Legal Group Nunes041719 Devin Nunes: Without jail time for Russia probe 'dirty cops', no Republican will trust DOJ for ‘generations' Sam Dorman fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/person/devin-nunes fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc article 555e8d6e-7fc0-5422-bd9d-0314d0c839b8

House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said there will be massive political consequences if Justice Department officials don’t face jail time for their conduct during the Russia investigation.

According to Nunes, the Russia investigation was an “obstruction of justice trap,” that started without evidence of collusion and ended in an “awful situation” that could only be fixed by jailing the people who “perpetuated this hoax.”

“These are all a bunch of dirty cops and I’ll tell you,” he told Fox News’ Bill Hemmer on the latest “Hemmer Time” podcast. “We’re going to go down in a spiral in this country because you will not have a Republican that will trust the FBI or the Department of Justice for generations to come.”

Nunes specifically mentioned Andrew Weissman, one of the Mueller team’s top prosecutors who briefed AP reporters in 2017, before Mueller’s team was assembled, on “something to do with the Trump-Russia investigation.”

Authorities, Nunes said, hid that fact from his committee — something he said was inappropriate given that Weissman was briefed on the Steele dossier in the summer of 2016.

At Mueller’s hearing, Nunes plans to ask him whether he knew that Weissmann had been briefed on the dossier. Weissmann’s early involvement with the chain of custody, according to legal advice Nunes received, effectively disqualified him from serving on Mueller’s team.

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE ‘HEMMER TIME’ PODCAST

Nunes’ comments came before former Special Counsel Robert Mueller was scheduled to testify on July 17 before the House Judiciary Committee — a hearing Nunes suspected Democrats hoped would include “nasty” comments making President Trump “look bad.”

That date, according to sources, could have been pushed back to July 24, although committee Democrats have maintained the hearing would take place on July 17.

While the committee’s chair, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., joined other Democrats in continuing to pursue the Mueller report’s findings, Republicans have attempted to refocus the debate on accountability for what Nunes described as “dirty cops.”

REP. NUNES ON CHRISTOPHER STEELE’S GRILLING BY DOJ INVESTIGATORS: A LOT OF THE DOSSIER ‘WAS JUST MADE UP’

Barr already started the investigation and Nunes, in April, sent a criminal referral notification telling the Justice Department in April that he had identified “potential violations” of the law. Those criminal referrals stemmed from the Intelligence Committee’s investigation when Nunes was chair and Republicans held the House.

Nunes told Fox News host Bill Hemmer that he thought it was possible that the Russia investigation was a way for the House to develop an impeachment strategy. He accused DOJ officials of trying to drag out the investigation in order to find legal violations.

“They were trying to hold out this investigation as long as possible, bust people here and there for nickel and dime stuff — like obstructing an investigation, lying to Congress — and eventually they would get Trump,” he said.

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“What they were probably trying to get Trump to do was say something publicly, tweet something … probably their best dream was for him to fire Mueller … and then you’d have public sympathy and public support” for action against Trump.

Listen to the full interview on the latest episode of “Hemmer Time” here, and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Westlake Legal Group Nunes041719 Devin Nunes: Without jail time for Russia probe 'dirty cops', no Republican will trust DOJ for ‘generations' Sam Dorman fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/person/devin-nunes fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc article 555e8d6e-7fc0-5422-bd9d-0314d0c839b8   Westlake Legal Group Nunes041719 Devin Nunes: Without jail time for Russia probe 'dirty cops', no Republican will trust DOJ for ‘generations' Sam Dorman fox-news/politics/justice-department fox-news/person/devin-nunes fox-news/news-events/russia-investigation fox news fnc/politics fnc article 555e8d6e-7fc0-5422-bd9d-0314d0c839b8

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New White House Press Secretary ‘Likes A Challenge’

Westlake Legal Group gettyimages-1152115436_slide-ac2f4029ba4251014bd4ce8e5e8ac91f2deb37da-s1100-c15 New White House Press Secretary 'Likes A Challenge'

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham waits as Air Force One is refuelled at Elmendorf Air Force Base while travelling to Japan June 26, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Westlake Legal Group  New White House Press Secretary 'Likes A Challenge'

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham waits as Air Force One is refuelled at Elmendorf Air Force Base while travelling to Japan June 26, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Years before she would become President Trump’s third press secretary, Stephanie Grisham had a photo of the White House hanging on her office wall in Arizona, to remember where she wanted to go.

“She made no secret of the fact that she wanted to be the White House press secretary,” said Hank Stephenson, the editor of the Yellow Sheet Report, a daily political tip sheet in Arizona. “She told reporters that. She told friends that.”

It was her “dream job.”

Grisham, who now holds one of the most high-profile jobs in the White House, is keeping a low profile so far. Nearly two weeks into the job, she hasn’t held a press briefing, or gone on Fox News, a favorite venue of her predecessor Sarah Sanders.

Grisham declined to be interviewed for this piece and those who know her say she doesn’t want to be the story.

When Stephenson worked with Grisham she was the spokesperson for the state’s House Republicans and he was a reporter digging up dirt for the Arizona Capitol Times.

“Spokespeople generally fall into one of two categories: the kind that hide from you and the kind that confront you head on,” said Stephenson. “Grisham was definitely in the latter category.”

That is to say, she responds quickly to emails and is generally available to reporters. She was previously married to a TV news anchor in Arizona and is widely seen as understanding what reporters need to do their jobs. But Grisham can also be fierce in defense of those she works for.

‘Stephanie feels like she has to punch back 10 times harder’

Before being elevated to White House press secretary and communications director, Grisham served as communications director for first lady Melania Trump. And that’s how reporter Kate Andersen Brower learned first-hand about the hazards of crossing Grisham.

Brower, who has written a book about first ladies, wrote an opinion piece for CNN saying among other things that Trump “doesn’t understand what it means to be first lady” and Grisham responded by writing her own opinion piece criticizing Brower and the media more broadly, saying “absurdity abounds in the media’s coverage of our first lady.”

“Stephanie feels like she has to punch back 10 times harder,” said Brower who experienced a full force pro-Trump internet backlash after Grisham’s piece was posted. “When Stephanie did write that response it was, I thought like a little bit over the top, but I do think it showed her loyalty to Melania Trump.”

Grisham, who is 42 and has two sons, first entered the Trump orbit during the campaign, serving as chief wrangler for the traveling press corps. That experience surfaced in her first moments as White House press secretary. During President Trump’s visit to the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, North Korean security was trying to block the reporters following Trump. Grisham put her body between the guards and the press and physically cleared a path.

“Go, go, go,” she intoned as the cameras filed past her.

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It earned her bruises and early praise.

Even people who work in the White House say it’s not clear yet how Grisham will approach her new role, or what changes she might make to the way the administration interacts with the press.

Grisham has spent the last couple of weeks having conversations with people in the White House communications and press operations, trying to figure out what’s working and what isn’t and how to fix it. She’s also considering how to adapt as more news cycles are consumed by the Democratic primary and president Trump’s re-election campaign.

“She has a real understanding and trust of the first family, both the president and the first lady,” said Sean Spicer, Trump’s first press secretary, who also interacted with her during the campaign. “But she also has a deep respect for the needs of the press corps.”

Spicer thinks it is unlikely Grisham will bring back the once daily White House press briefing, which essentially died during the tenure of Sarah Sanders.

“At this point, it’s not just about what the press secretary wants. It’s about what the president wants,” Spicer said.

Trump prefers to be his own spokesperson, answering questions about news of the day and sparring with reporters in the Oval Office or on the South Lawn of the White House with Marine One whirring behind him. White House sources say Grisham is happy to let Trump take the lead in publicly communicating his message.

Westlake Legal Group gettyimages-1153060099_slide-f566322396a5e622be0da1648788947e9ca6e26c-s1100-c15 New White House Press Secretary 'Likes A Challenge'

Grisham at a news conference with President Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Seoul on June 30, 2019. Jacquelyn Martin /AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Jacquelyn Martin /AFP/Getty Images

Westlake Legal Group  New White House Press Secretary 'Likes A Challenge'

Grisham at a news conference with President Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Seoul on June 30, 2019.

Jacquelyn Martin /AFP/Getty Images

Background checks and access

Hank Stephenson, the reporter from Arizona, was on the wrong side of Grisham during an incident earlier in her career that’s once again getting attention.

Stephenson had written an investigative piece about the Speaker of the Arizona House misusing public resources. It set off what Stephenson says was an ongoing campaign to get him removed from the beat, which culminated with Grisham sending around notice to journalists that they would have to pass a background check in order to be allowed on the House floor — a key part of covering the Capitol.

But the list of offenses that could get someone barred was puzzling, he said. “It was very serious felonies: murder, assault, and then the only misdemeanor on the list was trespassing.

A couple of years earlier, Stephenson had been arrested for second-degree trespassing at a bar. He spent the night in a “drunk tank,” paid his fine and thought he had moved on.

“So when we realized that, it kind of clicked that, ‘oh this isn’t a background check policy, this is a way to screen Hank out of the building,'” said Stephenson.

At the time Grisham firmly denied that the new policy had anything to do with him or his incident at the bar.

The press corps refused to participate and the policy was reversed in less than a week, said Daniel Barr, a First Amendment attorney who represented Stephenson and other news organizations.

“You know whenever you have a governor or a president or in this case a Speaker of the House ejecting a reporter, it sort of like, it works out as well as Wiley E. Coyote and his schemes against the roadrunner,” Barr said. “They always backfire.”

Barr and Stephenson don’t know whether Grisham hatched the plan or just implemented it, and she didn’t respond to an emailed question about it. But Barr said regardless, she was a loyal foot soldier.

“She has some comfort in participating in stuff like this,” said Barr, suggesting such willingness fits right in at a White House that tried to eject CNN reporter Jim Acosta, only to back down after being sued.

Still, Stephenson looks back fondly on his time working with and tangling with Grisham. He too, thinks the Trump White House is a good match for her.

“I think she likes a challenge. I think she likes the chaos of it,” Stephenson said. “She’s very good at crisis management.”

With three titles: press secretary, communications director and still communications director for the first lady, this could be Grisham’s biggest challenge yet.

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Jeffrey Epstein Taught at Dalton. His Behavior Was Noticed.

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In the mid-1970s, students at one of New York’s most esteemed prep schools were surprised to encounter a new teacher who pushed the limits on the school’s strict dress code, wandering the halls in a fur coat, gold chains and an open shirt that exposed his chest.

The teacher, Jeffrey Epstein, would decades later face allegations that he coerced and trafficked teenagers for sex. At the Dalton School on the Upper East Side, some students saw Mr. Epstein as an unusual and unsettling figure, willing to violate the norms in his encounters with girls.

Eight former students who attended the prestigious school during Mr. Epstein’s short tenure there said that his conduct with teenage girls had left an impression that had lingered for decades. One former student recalled him showing up at a party where students were drinking, while most remembered his persistent attention on the girls in hallways and classrooms.

“I can remember thinking at the time, ‘This is wrong,’” said Scott Spizer, who graduated from Dalton in 1976.

None of the female students who spoke to The New York Times in recent days remembered Mr. Epstein making unwanted physical contact with them, and he has not been accused of any crimes related to his time at the school.

But a few students said they had been discomfited by a close relationship he had with one of their female peers, a concern that had escalated so much that one of them had raised the issue then to a school administrator.

Dalton has long been known for its rigorous academics, repeatedly ranking among the nation’s best private schools while drawing the sons and daughters of New York titans of finance, media and art. Among the alumni are the CNN journalist Anderson Cooper, the actress Claire Danes and the comedian Chevy Chase.

Mr. Epstein’s time at Dalton was brief, and an administrator said it ended in a dismissal. While Mr. Epstein later developed a reputation in the world of finance as a man of brilliance — “He was a Brooklyn guy with a motor for a brain,” New York magazine wrote in a 2002 profile — the administrator told The Times that he had dismissed Mr. Epstein for poor performance.

But the accounts offer a window into Mr. Epstein’s early adulthood, before he developed extensive private wealth that allowed him to acquire a $56 million mansion just a mile south of the Dalton School. It was there, prosecutors said this week, that Mr. Epstein and his employees paid “numerous” underage girls to engage in sex acts with him.

Federal prosecutors in New York charged Mr. Epstein, 66, with sex trafficking on Monday. He has pleaded not guilty. His lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

Read the latest developments on the Epstein case.
Epstein Paid $350,000 to Possible Witnesses Against Him, Prosecutors Say

July 12, 2019

Officials with the Dalton School also did not respond to requests for comment, but news of the charges have led alumni to reconnect and swap memories of a young teacher who sometimes seemed to defy the expectations of behavior for an authority figure.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 14epstein-dalton-02-articleLarge Jeffrey Epstein Taught at Dalton. His Behavior Was Noticed. Upper East Side (Manhattan, NY) Teachers and School Employees Sex Crimes Private and Sectarian Schools human trafficking Epstein, Jeffrey E (1953- ) Dalton School Barr, Donald

Mr. Epstein from the 1976 yearbook at the Dalton School.

Like much of the rest of the country, the Dalton School in the 1970s was in the midst of a culture war.

The school, which had been a progressive haven for the children of artists and writers, was undergoing a shift under a new headmaster. Donald Barr, the father of Attorney General William Barr, came in as a disciplinarian focused on beefing up the academics of the school, and on enforcing a strict code of conduct.

In a school known for creativity, administrators had prohibited denim jeans and “bizarre and eccentric costumes.” If Mr. Barr caught students using marijuana, he would often send them to therapy as a condition of staying in the school. He himself described his leadership style as “by ukase,” using the Imperial Russian term for an edict from the czar.

Staff members would sometimes turn students away from their morning classes; girls for skirts that were too short, and boys for hair that was too long.

Some students and parents balked against the constraints. Still, the school continued to draw families of fame. Around the years of Mr. Epstein’s tenure, records show the student roster included Prudence Murdoch, the daughter of the media mogul Rupert Murdoch; the fashion designer Jill Stuart; and several future actresses, including Jennifer Grey, Tracy Pollan and Maggie Wheeler.

While Mr. Barr was strict on the school culture, he made it a point to hire teachers from unconventional backgrounds, recalled Susan Semel, a social studies teacher at Dalton from the 1960s to 1980s who later wrote a book on the history of the school.

“Barr didn’t care about credentials as long as you were interesting and knew your stuff,” Ms. Semel said.

In February 1974, Mr. Barr had announced that he was resigning as headmaster, protesting the meddling by the board of trustees, but that he would stay on until the end of the school year. It is unclear whether Mr. Barr hired Mr. Epstein during that time.

Mr. Epstein, from Brooklyn, was just 21 when he joined the faculty at Dalton, arriving without a college degree. The school’s student newspaper reported in September 1974 that he was starting that year as a math and physics teacher.

The next year, he participated in a school musical for parents and faculty, and he appeared in later editions of the paper as the coach of the Dalton Tigers math team until the beginning of 1976.

The school had new leadership under Gardner Dunnan, who tentatively explored a rollback of some of its strict rules. Mr. Dunnan announced in early 1975 a policy that would allow denim inside the building, although students were still told to be neat and clean.

In the years since, however, Mr. Dunnan has faced allegations of his own inappropriate conduct. A former Dalton student said in a lawsuit that she had been invited to live with Mr. Dunnan at age 14, and had suffered repeated sexual assaults under his care. Mr. Dunnan denied the allegations. The lawsuit was dropped, but the woman’s lawyers said they intended to refile it.

At Dalton, Mr. Epstein was known as a charismatic, young teacher who at times acted more like a friend than an authority figure to students.

The urban school inside a brick building did not have outdoor spaces to congregate, so the students gathered in halls and in rooms that spanned the building’s many stories. That included lab rooms dedicated to various subjects, providing a more informal and intimate setting for students to get help outside of class from their teachers.

It was in one of these lab rooms that Leslie Kitziger, who graduated from Dalton in 1978, first met Mr. Epstein.

Ms. Kitziger remembered him as a flamboyant dresser and lively jokester. “He was goofy and like a kid himself,” she recalled.

Ms Kitziger said she became close to Mr. Epstein at a time when she was struggling at home with her parent’s divorce. She confided in him, and remembered him as caring and attentive.

“He listened,” Ms. Kitziger recalled. “I was a 14-year-old and he helped me through a time when there wasn’t anybody else to talk to. I felt like he really cared that I was having a rough go.”

She stressed that Mr. Epstein was always professional with her.

But other students, including Millicent Young, a graduate of the school’s 1976 class, saw things differently. She never had Mr. Epstein as a teacher, but the school was small enough that she would spend time around him. She recalled observing Mr. Epstein flirting with the girls at the school, which drew her attention because it was so different than how other teachers behaved.

“There was a real clarity of the inappropriateness of the behavior — that this isn’t how adult male teachers conduct themselves,” Ms. Young said.

Mr. Spizer, the fellow student who graduated the same year, said he had a clear recollection of disliking Mr. Epstein because he was spending so much time with girls in the school.

Some other students spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing retribution from Mr. Epstein. One recalled that he had made efforts to spend time with her outside of the school, and she remembered raising concerns about Mr. Epstein’s conduct with another student to Mr. Dunnan. An attorney for Mr. Dunnan said the former headmaster was not aware of any concerns about Mr. Epstein’s conduct at the school.

Another student, who also requested anonymity, fearing reprisals from Mr. Epstein, recalled seeing Mr. Epstein at a high school party in an apartment on the Upper East Side where students were drinking and socializing. Mr. Epstein was the only teacher there, which raised eyebrows among the students.

“It was weird,” said another former student, Paul Grossman, a 1978 graduate who did not attend the party but remembered talking to students about it. “Everyone talked about it.”

Peter Thomas Roth, who graduated from Dalton in 1975 and later founded a cosmetics and skin care company with his name, said Mr. Epstein was such a “brilliant” teacher that his father later hired him to tutor Mr. Roth in statistics.

Mr. Roth said he never heard of any rumors about misconduct at the school.

“He was like your friend, you know?” Mr. Roth said.

But Peter Branch, who was an interim headmaster after Mr. Barr and later the head of the high school, was not as fond of Mr. Epstein’s teaching. He said he did not recall anyone raising concerns to him about Mr. Epstein’s conduct with students, but Mr. Branch said he had heard concerns from the faculty about Mr. Epstein’s teaching and eventually determined that he needed to go.

“Epstein was a young teacher who didn’t come up to snuff,” Mr. Branch said. “So, ultimately, he was asked to leave.”

Mr. Roth, the former student, said he and Mr. Epstein did not stay in close touch. But a couple of years ago, he got an invitation to Mr. Epstein’s home after running into him.

It was the only time he had been invited to Mr. Epstein’s palatial townhouse, he said, and so he went over for an afternoon gathering. Everyone present was in their 40s and 50s, Mr. Roth said, and there was no untoward behavior.

Michael Gold contributed reporting.

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Stephen King says Trump’s presidency is ‘scarier’ than his novels

Westlake Legal Group z-qa6t1ukjuV06TkQeqXIN4QJClwmHfo3JxAkwBNBKo Stephen King says Trump's presidency is 'scarier' than his novels r/politics

There’s a part in his novel The Stand where he simply describes the breakdown of society and it’s the scariest thing he’s ever written. People turn on each other, branches of the military go rogue, white supremacists and black power advocates enter all-out war, and lots of innocent people die, and the scariest part is that it’s all so possible.

It’s hard not to read that section and think of Trump supporters, detention camps, right-wing militants and wonder if we’re not partway there.

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Andy Puzder: Sen. Elizabeth Warren is no more a capitalist than she is a Native American

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6047585182001_6047581890001-vs Andy Puzder: Sen. Elizabeth Warren is no more a capitalist than she is a Native American fox-news/politics/socialism fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/elizabeth-warren fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc dab9f6e5-fb09-5758-8438-2e009af729f8 article Andy Puzder

Unlike Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. – one of her competitors for the Democratic presidential nomination – Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., rejects the “socialist” label, insisting that she’s a “capitalist to the bone.”

However, Warren’s economic policies bespeak a socialist’s ambition to empower government and the elites who control it, rather than an understanding of capitalism’s potential to create opportunity and reward individual achievement.

On the campaign trail, Warren’s favorite phrase is “I’ve got a plan for that.” Unfortunately, this “capitalist to the bone” means that for every problem we face, she’s got a plan to expand and empower government.

ANDY PUZDER: BERNIE SANDERS DOESN’T HAVE A CLUE ABOUT ECONOMICS 101 (AND THAT’S SCARY)

For example, Warren advocates removing private enterprise from the health care sector, which represents about 20 percent of our economy. A supporter of “Medicare-for-all,” she was one of only two candidates in the recent Democratic presidential debates who raised her hand in support of totally eliminating private health insurance. The other was New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

It’s hard to argue with the notion that, as a nation, we should work to reduce costs and increase the quality of health care. But a capitalist would understand that the only thing that has ever reduced costs and increased quality is competition – and that competition is the first thing to die whenever the government takes control.

Only a socialist could believe that increasing government control in any economic sector would cause prices to decline or quality to improve.

Warren also supports – and even co-sponsored – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s, D-N.Y., Green New Deal (GND). The GND proposes extensive government control over the energy, transportation and construction sectors, allowing government elites to dictate business goals, discouraging innovation and investment while restricting what consumers would have the option to purchase.

As a justification for this massive act of government empowerment, the GND primarily offers “climate change,” which it blames for “economic injustice” disproportionally affecting “communities of color,” “the poor,” “low-income workers,” “women,” “people with disabilities,” and “youth,” among others.

A capitalist might note that, over the past two years, each of these groups has experienced an unemployment rate at or near historic lows with wage growth accelerating at rates not seen in a decade and at a faster pace for low wage workers. All this is due to a reduction in taxes and government regulation, plus a focus on domestic energy production.

A capitalist might also acknowledge that thanks to private sector innovation, we have an abundance of clean-burning natural gas that has allowed the U.S. to reduce its carbon emissions more than any other nation.

Of course, tax increases are a cornerstone to Warren’s economic policies. She wants to repeal the Republican tax cuts that have been so vital to the current economic boom.

While declining to say what the top individual tax rate should be, she has refused to rule out 50 percent. For corporations, she would eliminate the current 21 percent rate and restore the growth-killing rate of 35 percent, which was the highest and least competitive rate among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s member nations.

But increasing existing tax rates isn’t enough for the “capitalist to the bone” Warren. “Let’s start with a wealth tax in America”, she declared in homage to class warfare during the first Democratic presidential debate. And what a tax it would be.

According to Warren’s campaign website, this annual tax on wealthy Americans would cover “all household assets held anywhere in the world” including “residences, closely-held businesses, assets held in trust, retirement assets, assets held by minor children, and personal property with a value of $50,000 or more.”

Of course, Warren proposes redistributing the additional revenue she believes her increased taxes would produce through a myriad of new government benefits, which would put the government in charge of housing, child care, and education while making “down payments” on a Green New Deal and “Medicare-for-All.”

Let’s be honest, Warren’s attempt to identify as a “capitalist to the bone” is simply absurd. Her campaign mantra is little more than an updated version of the repeatedly disproven claim that socialism is necessary to protect the oppressed masses from capitalist greed.

From the former Soviet Union to modern-day Venezuela, this myth has turned potentially productive nations into totalitarian disasters populated by oppressed and starving masses.

While Warren does not call for direct government ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, as is the case with traditional socialism, she advocates state control over these economic building blocks through laws, regulations, taxation, redistribution and a massive federal bureaucracy. It’s a distinction without a difference.

Traditional socialism’s primary fault was that it empowered government over individuals, eliminating the incentive for individuals to be productive. Absent that incentive, economic growth in socialist countries inevitably declines and their economies either collapse or their citizens live in abject poverty under the authoritarian control of government elites.

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Would substituting Warren’s pervasive government control for government ownership avoid traditional socialism’s pitfalls? Clearly, it would not. Warren’s brand of socialism would virtually eliminate the incentive for entrepreneurs, innovators and the leaders of private-sector firms to succeed, just like traditional socialism – and nothing like capitalism.

In her DNA, Warren is no more a capitalist than she is a Native American.

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Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6047585182001_6047581890001-vs Andy Puzder: Sen. Elizabeth Warren is no more a capitalist than she is a Native American fox-news/politics/socialism fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/elizabeth-warren fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc dab9f6e5-fb09-5758-8438-2e009af729f8 article Andy Puzder   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6047585182001_6047581890001-vs Andy Puzder: Sen. Elizabeth Warren is no more a capitalist than she is a Native American fox-news/politics/socialism fox-news/politics/2020-presidential-election fox-news/person/elizabeth-warren fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc dab9f6e5-fb09-5758-8438-2e009af729f8 article Andy Puzder

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J. Lo gives Carli Lloyd a lap dance onstage to celebrate World Cup win

Carli Lloyd of the U.S. Women’s World Cup soccer champions received a special gift Friday night from J. Lo.

Jennifer Lopez pulled Lloyd from the audience to the stage at Madison Square Garden in New York City and worked her sensual moves on the soccer star in a lap dance.

THESE WOMEN’S WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS GIVE ‘GLORY TO GOD’

After Lopez told the crowd that Lloyd was in attendance, her fiance Alex Rodriguez escorted Lloyd to security guards who walked her to the stage, where she sat on a chair shaped like a stiletto shoe.

Lopez congratulated Lloyd for her team’s win and then told the athlete: “Got a little present for you.”

“Actually Carli, I got two presents for you,” the pop star said. “Girls, will you take care of Carli and give her a little birthday present?”

Lopez left the stage and two of her female backup dancers gyrated on Lloyd as the 2009 hit “Birthday Sex” by R&B singer Jeremih played in the background. Lloyd’s 37th birthday is Tuesday.

Lopez returned to the stage, and she and her female dancers moved sensually in front of Lloyd, who was cheered on by the audience.

“Carli, you doing OK?” Lopez asked, then sitting on Lloyd’s lap as she sang a slowed-down version of “If You Had My Love,” her debut single released in 1999.

Westlake Legal Group AP19194220685953 J. Lo gives Carli Lloyd a lap dance onstage to celebrate World Cup win fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/person/jennifer-lopez fox-news/person/carli-lloyd fox-news/newsedge/sports/womens-world-cup fox-news/entertainment fnc/entertainment fnc e0d67596-1684-5ebe-9f8c-b60b59f003a2 Brie Stimson Associated Press article

Soccer player Carli Lloyd, left, is seen in Boulogne-Billancourt, Dec. 8, 2018, and Jennifer Lopez is seen at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City, June 3, 2019. (Associated Press)

The U.S. women’s national soccer team has been on a celebratory run since beating the Netherlands to capture a record fourth Women’s World Cup title earlier this week. On Wednesday, the team won trophies at the ESPYS in Los Angeles and was honored with a ticker tape parade in New York City.

Lloyd wasn’t the only special guest at the concert: Lopez’s 11-year-old daughter, Emme Maribel Muñiz, joined her onstage to sing a duet, which earned a standing ovation from the audience.

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Lopez’s “It’s My Party” Tour will return to Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Westlake Legal Group AP19194220685953 J. Lo gives Carli Lloyd a lap dance onstage to celebrate World Cup win fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/person/jennifer-lopez fox-news/person/carli-lloyd fox-news/newsedge/sports/womens-world-cup fox-news/entertainment fnc/entertainment fnc e0d67596-1684-5ebe-9f8c-b60b59f003a2 Brie Stimson Associated Press article   Westlake Legal Group AP19194220685953 J. Lo gives Carli Lloyd a lap dance onstage to celebrate World Cup win fox-news/sports/soccer fox-news/person/jennifer-lopez fox-news/person/carli-lloyd fox-news/newsedge/sports/womens-world-cup fox-news/entertainment fnc/entertainment fnc e0d67596-1684-5ebe-9f8c-b60b59f003a2 Brie Stimson Associated Press article

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