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Jamie Dupree's Washington Insider

    President Donald Trump on Tuesday issued a series of surprise high profile pardons and commutations, moving to free former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), who was convicted in 2011 of corruption for essentially trying to sell the official appointment to fill the U.S. Senate seat of President Barack Obama. 'He served eight years in jail - a long time,' the President told reporters, as he noted he saw Blagojevich's wife on Fox News, and knew of Blagojevich from his time on 'Celebrity Apprentice.' 'That was a tremendously powerful and ridiculous sentence,' Mr. Trump added, pointedly name-checking former FBI Director James Comey, and the special prosecutor in the case, former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. Blagojevich was Governor of Illinois in 2008 when Barack Obama won the White House, thus opening his seat in the Senate. Evidence gathered by the feds showed Blagojevich quickly saw the vacant Senate seat not as a political opportunity, but one which could net the Illinois Democrat big money. 'I've got this thing and it's f#$%ing golden,' Blagojevich was heard on a secretly recorded tape. 'And I'm just not giving it up for f&#$ing nothing!'  In his indictment and trial, prosecutors described Blagojevich as angling for a quid pro quo with a possible Senate pick, where they would set up a non-profit company which would employ Blagojevich after he served as Illinois Governor, funneling big money to him as payback for the Senate appointment. Before being tried and convicted of corruption, Blagojevich was impeached by the Illinois State House, and then convicted and removed from office by the Illinois State Senate in early 2009. The vote was unanimous. Illinois GOP lawmakers in the Congress issued a joint statement two hours after the President's announcement, saying they were disappointed by Mr. Trump's move. 'Blagojevich is the face of public corruption in Illinois,' the lawmakers stated, adding 'we shouldn't let those who breached the public trust off the hook.' The President on Tuesday also issued a pardon for David Safavian, who was convicted of obstruction of justice and making false statements in connection with his involvement in the famous Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal.
  • The political rumble that is the Democratic race for President in 2020 is entering a crucial next fourteen days as 16 states are on the schedule - fourteen of them on Super Tuesday, March 3. Just as the results in Iowa and New Hampshire helped to reshape the race and knock out some of the long shot contenders, the next two weeks should help determine whether the Democratic nomination is going to be sewed up quickly - or if the race will go on for some time. The big news today is that Michael Bloomberg has qualified for his first debate - Wednesday in Nevada.  Here is what to look for in a very active next two weeks: + Nevada comes first on Saturday. The third stop in this year's nominating schedule is the Silver State, as the Democratic candidates will now flood this state for the rest of this week, with caucuses set for Saturday. Just like in New Hampshire, there will be one final debate before the Nevada vote, that is set for Wednesday night on the Strip in Las Vegas. Unlike the Iowa Caucuses, there is early voting allowed in the Nevada version, as voters then indicate alternate choices if their candidate is not 'viable' in the caucus vote. So far, there has been a lot of interest among Democratic Party voters. Are Nevada Democrats ready? When early voting began last Saturday, Nevada Democrats said 56 percent of those voting were joining the caucus for the first time. + After Nevada, it's off to South Carolina. Last on the schedule this month is the Palmetto State. Nevada has caucuses on Saturday February 22. South Carolina has a primary on Saturday February 29. Just as the results of Iowa and New Hampshire helped to winnow and further shape the Democratic race, one would think the same thing happens after Nevada. There will be another debate in South Carolina on Tuesday February 25, in Charleston. So, just in the next week alone, the Democrats will have two debates - the final two before Super Tuesday. + Will Democrats look ahead to Super Tuesday? Unlike the clear full week before the Nevada Caucuses, Democrats only have a couple of days from the vote in South Carolina on February 29 until the 14 states of Super Tuesday, which vote on March 3. Think about it for a second - do you just campaign around the Palmetto State for the full week next week? Or do you also go somewhere else which might help you the following Tuesday? One state? Or 14 other states? There is no easy answer when you consider that California and Texas are two huge states on Super Tuesday. The clock is ticking toward March 3. Fast. + What about Mike Bloomberg? I don't think you can ignore Bloomberg. History tells us we should, as when you ignore Iowa and New Hampshire, usually your campaign for President goes nowhere (see Al Gore 1988, and Rudy Giuliani 2008). But right now, this seems different, mainly because Bloomberg is pouring vast sums of money into advertising for the Super Tuesday states, and the Democratic Party field doesn't seem like it's sorting out very quickly. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and others have all taken jabs at Bloomberg, who has not been on a debate stage as yet. + Voters are still making up their minds. I spoke to a voter in Virginia this weekend who didn't realize Super Tuesday was just in two weeks. The candidates have that hurdle to overcome. Like a lot of voters, this person was still undecided on who to support on the Democratic side, but indicated they were being bombarded with material from Mike Bloomberg. We haven't seen many polls from Super Tuesday states, but what is notable about this one from Monmouth is that 25 percent of voters say they could still switch. That means there is a lot of wiggle room - and uncertainty - in the next two weeks.
  • Trying to bounce back from a disappointing fourth place finish in New Hampshire, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) found energy and solace from a large turnout at a Thursday night rally in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., as Warren aimed her fire at the stalking horse of the 2020 Democratic race, billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Veering away from her usual stump speech, Warren turned her fire on Bloomberg, who has quickly turned into a threat to every Democratic candidate who survived the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primary. 'Michael Bloomberg came in on the billionaire plan,' Warren said, as the crowd booed at the mention of his name. 'Just buy yourself the nomination.' “A video just came out yesterday in which Michael Bloomberg is saying in effect, that the 2008 financial crash was caused because the banks weren’t permitted to discriminate against black and brown people,” Warren said, sharpening a verbal knife for the former New York mayor.  “And anyone who thinks that should not be the leader of our party,' Warren added. The turnout for Warren's stop overwhelmed a large gymnasium at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia, an area which voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016, as hundreds of people were shunted to an overflow room, with hundreds more kept outside. Before starting her rally, the Massachusetts Democrat was greeted by loud cheers from the first overflow room as she vowed to press ahead in this Democratic race for the White House. 'I am in this fight with you until we win it,' a charged-up Warren said. The Senator then threw on a coat and sprinted outside where hundreds more were standing in the dark, unable to get in the schoolhouse door. Back inside before the crowd in the gym, Warren wasted little time getting down to the business of the 2020 race. 'I'm here to ask for your vote,' Warren said early in her remarks, reflecting a new sense of urgency in her stump speech.  'We've heard from two states,' Warren said, making clear she's not quitting after just Iowa and New Hampshire. In a county which voted 76-17 percent for Hillary Clinton in 2016 over Donald Trump, Warren's message was very well received - no matter the troubles she ran into in New Hampshire. 'The story is the scene outside,' one woman said unprompted to me about the hundreds and hundreds of people outside who were unable to get in to see Warren. 'It's phenomenal.' A few hours before her appearance in Virginia, it was a different kind of feel, as Warren sent a video fundraising plea to her supporters. 'I need to level with you,' Warren said from what looked like a kitchen in a house. 'Our movement needs critical funds so that I can remain competitive in this race through Super Tuesday.' Super Tuesday is in less than three weeks on March 3, meaning there is little time to campaign in person in Nevada, South Carolina - and the fourteen Super Tuesday states. 'We setting an ambitious goal of raising $7 million before the Nevada Caucuses,' Warren added in her plea for cash. Nevada takes place on February 22. The South Carolina Primary is February 29. In between, there are two Democratic debates.
  • In a bid to breathe new life into the Equal Rights Amendment, the U.S. House on Thursday voted to allow the states to proceed with ratification of the constitutional change, even though backers missed the deadline for action in 1982. The vote was 232 to 183, as five GOP lawmakers broke ranks to back the ratification extension.  'We must seize this moment to end sex discrimination,' said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). 'This is an historic day,' said Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA). 'Equality has NO deadline,' tweeted Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE). “The Constitution does not guarantee equality for women,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA). 35 states ratified the ERA by the original March 1979 deadline, three short of the super-majority needed to add the measure to the U.S. Constitution. Congress then added three years, but no other states voted for ratification. Several state legislatures have ratified the ERA in recent years - including Virginia last month, which would reach the needed 38 states - but there were also five states which reversed their approval of the amendment. Republicans argued the Congress could not reach back and changed the deadline for ratification, which was originally 1979, but was extended until June 30, 1982. 'If you want to do this - start over,' said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). GOP lawmakers raised a series of concerns in opposition, arguing the ERA would endanger religious freedom for Catholics, interfere with separate college sports for men and women, and require the NFL, NBA and all men's pro sports to field teams with 50 percent women. The arguments probably won't matter, as the legislation has little chance of being taken up by the GOP-led Senate.
  • I first covered the New Hampshire Primary in 1992, and coming back every four years for this election ritual has morphed into the comforting feeling one might get when you return to a favorite family vacation spot, as you recognize the familiar sights and think of how things were years earlier. While a lot has changed since I found my way to the Dover Elks Club to hear Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas give his famous 'I'll stick with you 'til the last dog dies' speech, the feel is much the same. The schedule is packed. So are the parking lots of the rallies you are trying to attend. There always seems to be somewhere to go, someone to interview, a story that you should have filed.  An event you should have gone to see. But it's always so much fun. So, here's a quick review of my eighth New Hampshire Primary: + Trust your eyes and ears. The most important part of covering a campaign is being there in person to see what's going on.  I always mentally note which TV network big shots I see out in the field.  Sure, you can watch many of the New Hampshire campaign events on C-SPAN or on your computer while sitting in a warm hotel or restaurant. But that's no fun. Getting out to see the candidates, to watch their organizations, to see what's really going on is what the campaign trail is all about. For example, it was obvious right away that Pete Buttigieg had a lot of interest in his campaign in New Hampshire. And it was obvious starting on Saturday that Amy Klobuchar was seeing a surge, going from just some interested voters to hundreds of interested voters.  + Behind the scenes. I saw Elizabeth Warren do a campaign rally for the first time back in June in Miami, just before the first Democratic debate. Many months later, her campaign speech was pretty much the same - but it was important to watch her again on the ground in New Hampshire. After seeing her in Derry, I wrote one of my friends saying the crowd was decent, but 'they wouldn't burn down the building for her.' In other words, there wasn't any momentum in the room. And when she botched a closing line at a Sunday rally by saying, 'And now it's up to you, Massachusetts,' it was one more item which made you wonder. I went to two Warren events over the past week - in each one, the campaign internet for the press did not work. That may have been emblematic of a larger issue in the Granite State. + Debates still matter. As much as the presidential debates have become campaign cattle calls dressed up as PR events for a television network news operation, there are a lot of voters who use the late debates to make up their mind. That was really driven home by last Friday's debate in New Hampshire, where Amy Klobuchar made a good impression on the crowd, and it brought a big bump for her on primary night. It also can go the other way, as Joe Biden began the debate by basically saying he wasn't going to win in New Hampshire, and then spent the weekend trying to dig out of that hole. It didn't work. Klobuchar surged. Biden sunk. And he left town early before the results were even in on Tuesday night. + The Primary Focus.  Much of the action in New Hampshire is centered along the roads from Nashua north to Manchester and on to the state capital of Concord. There are some reporters who barely make it out of Manchester, which is the unofficial center of the universe for the Primary, especially the Doubletree Hotel on Elm Street. You can literally sit in the lobby of that hotel and find an endless supply of famous people and campaign pundits who will provide you with all of the necessary quotes to cover a campaign.  But that's not the same as getting in your car and driving somewhere, as it will reward you with something nice - like this photo of the New Hampshire State Capitol.  One staple of the campaign which does not seem to happen anymore was the candidates addressing the state legislature before the primary. That was always a fun event to cover.  + The other places I could go. The best piece of advice that I would give to any reporter covering the New Hampshire Primary is to get out of the Nashua-Manchester-Concord corridor, and go to some of the smaller towns which dot the Granite State. I checked another two off the list in this campaign, when I drove over to Keene State College to see a Buttigieg rally, and then to Franklin Pierce University in Rindge to see a Sanders rally on Monday. I don't know how many times over the years I had thought about taking the 90 minute drive through the back roads of New Hampshire to get there - but I never did. So, chalk up a few more small colleges that I've seen on my many years on the campaign trail. + Celebrity campaigning. I don't worry very much about which celebrity comes out on the campaign trail for what candidate, but I did see some famous types over the course of this past week. Actor Kevin Costner showed up at a Buttigieg rally on Monday in Exeter. Actress Cynthia Nixon - who had backed Hillary Clinton in 2016 - spoke for Bernie Sanders at a pre-primary rally. And actor Michael J. Fox showed up on Saturday to speak on behalf of Buttigieg at Keene State College. The reaction to Fox was priceless. A guy behind me in the crowd exclaimed, 'I thought he was dead!' Another guy hurriedly dialed a friend on his cell phone to relate the news. 'MICHAEL J. EFFIN' FOX IS HERE. YEAH, DUDE. MICHAEL J. FREAKING FOX!' I'm not sure any of it matters, but star power is still a big deal in politics. + The campaign music. You learn a little about each campaign from the music they play while waiting for a rally to start. As a reporter, a few years later you will hear a song on the radio and it will trigger a memory from a past campaign.  Like President Trump still using the Rolling Stones, 'You Can't Always Get What You Want,' or Hillary Clinton in 2008 using 'Suddenly I See' from Katie Tunstall. That's why my ears perked up as I sat in Exeter High School on Monday evening waiting for a Pete Buttigieg rally to begin, when a cover of the Johnny Cash song 'Ring of Fire' came on the speakers. It's probably the first time I've ever heard Social Distortion at a campaign stop. My love for covering campaigns might be more like the Social Distortion song, 'Ball and Chain.' + A first for the first-in-the-nation primary. Four years ago in Iowa, I had to take a 'transit van' because the rental car company had run out of regular cars. Then in New Hampshire, my 2016 car was a bright red car which you couldn't miss in the parking lot. This year, I dragged my luggage off the plane and to the rental car counter and was rewarded with something that I had never had for a primary week - a sports car. It wasn't really the vehicle of choice for multiple days of snow and ice, but that's what was there, and you do what you have to do.   Yes, there was a bit of fishtailing one day, but I survived just fine, even though my GPS tried to test my winter driving skills. + Big Blue is Back. On the campaign trail, you tend to run into friends who are journalists, which gives it a home town feel while you are driving pell mell across yet another state. Four years ago in Iowa, Greg Bluestein of the Atlanta Journal Constitution joined me for a day of driving all over Iowa, as we chased down Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. When Bluestein emailed me with his coverage plans for Sunday as he drove up from the Boston airport, I advised the whippersnapper that he might need to change his plans, which involved driving all the way up to Lebanon. It was great to see him - and many others along the way. + The Press.  For the press, it's the same routine in the last week of the campaign.  You rush to get to a rally, try to claim some workspace, listen to the candidate and some voters, then grab your equipment and dash for the next event.  I have to say that it is quite something to watch all of my colleagues from various fields - whether the TV groups, other radio reporters, the print press, and the still photographers - they all have their own rhythms and routines on the campaign trail, all doing their own jobs. Thanks, New Hampshire.  It was another fun visit.  Maybe we can do it again in 2024.
  • The latest budget deficit report from the Treasury Department held more red ink for Uncle Sam, as the feds reported budget gap of $33 billion in the month of January, pushing the deficit for first four months of Fiscal Year 2020 to $389 billion, $79 billion more than the same point a year ago. January is often a rare month in the black for the federal government, as a year ago Uncle Sam ran a budget surplus of $8.7 billion - but in 2020, that swung the other way. The new deficit figures were issued a day after the chairman of the Federal Reserve called for a 'more sustainable' federal budget, telling the Congress that $1 trillion deficits are unacceptable. The latest budget plan from the White House issued on Monday does not envision a balanced U.S. federal budget for 15 years. The last time the feds ran a surplus was at the end of the Clinton Administration in the late 1990's. The report showed the federal government raised nearly $7 billion in import duties in January, as the President's higher tariffs on imported goods continues to be felt by certain U.S. companies. In the first four months of the fiscal year, the government has brought in $28 billion in tariffs - an average of $7 billion a month for the entire year would total out to just under $100 billion. Collections of tariffs are up $3.6 billion from the same point a year ago - an average of $900 million per month. For comparison, when President Trump took office three years ago in January of 2017, the feds were collecting $3 billion per month in tariffs. That figure has now more than doubled to an average of $7 billion.
  • Bernie Sanders declared victory late Tuesday night in the New Hampshire Primary, edging ahead of his main opponent from the Iowa Caucuses, Pete Buttigieg, as Amy Klobuchar surprised many by finishing a strong third in the Granite State. 'Let me say tonight that this victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump,' Sanders said to cheering supporters. 'Now our campaign moves on to Nevada, South Carolina, to communities across our country,' said Buttigieg. 'We have been on a quite a journey together, and you have learned this about me,' Klobuchar told backers. 'I never give up.' Here are some of the main points for Tuesday's vote: + Bernie Sanders. Sanders won easily in 2016 against Hillary Clinton with over 60 percent of the vote, but the tally in 2020 was much different, as he was held to 26 percent. There were some big changes from 2016, like in Exeter, where Sanders defeated Clinton, but this time, he finished third, well back of Buttigieg, who did well in the more populous southern areas of the state. This wasn't the slam dunk kind of win which Sanders backers might have been imagining when the sun came up - but it was still a victory. + Pete Buttigieg. After running neck-and-neck with Sanders in Iowa, Buttigieg may have lost some votes to Amy Klobuchar in the last few days, but still had enough for a very solid finish on the heels of Sanders. No matter the final result, it confirms that Buttigieg is in the top tier with Sanders, as the Indiana Mayor should have no problems continuing on in this race, and raising the necessary money to fund a more national campaign. The polls showed Buttigieg losing to Sanders by over 7 points in New Hampshire - but the final outcome was much closer. And someone was watching - as President Trump tweeted that Buttigieg was 'Giving Crazy Bernie a run for his money.' + Amy Klobuchar. After finishing fifth in Iowa, Klobuchar came to New Hampshire with seemingly little hope - then she had a solid debate performance, and her campaign took off with a late Granite State surge. While critics will certainly say that a third place finish might not mean much a few weeks from now, Klobuchar has certainly earned the right to move on to Nevada and South Carolina, and a shot on Super Tuesday. Klobuchar smartly went on to speak to her supporters while the votes were still coming in, and used her time to introduce herself to voters who may know little about her. 'We have beaten the odds every step of the way,' Klobuchar told her supporters in New Hampshire. + Elizabeth Warren. What a disappointing result this was for Warren, since much of New Hampshire is basically a suburb of Massachusetts, where she is a U.S. Senator. This should have been a home field advantage for her, just like it was for Bernie Sanders, who is from next door in Vermont. But not only did Warren fall flat and finish fourth, she couldn't even crack double digits, as she goes home with no delegates at all from New Hampshire, with major questions being raised about the long term viability of her campaign. She says she is going forward. + Joe Biden. The fact that the former Vice President was doing a campaign event in South Carolina on the night of the New Hampshire Primary tells you everything you need to know. Biden said only two states have voted so far, so there's no reason to give up before Nevada, South Carolina, and the Super Tuesday states. But Biden has now finished a distant fourth in Iowa, and a distant fifth in New Hampshire. He was the front runner for months. Now some political pundits openly wonder whether he's in danger of a campaign collapse. Also of note, two candidates dropped out of the race on Tuesday night. Next up are caucuses in Nevada on February 22, followed by a primary in South Carolina on February 29. During that time, there are two also two debates. Super Tuesday is March 3.
  • With the polls already open on Tuesday for the crucial vote in the New Hampshire Primary, former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign announced that he would not stick around the Granite State for the final results this evening, instead leaping ahead to South Carolina, which votes on February 29. In a written statement sent to reporters, Biden's campaign said he would address his New Hampshire backers by livestream from the state capital of Columbia, South Carolina. 'I have enjoyed traveling across New Hampshire,' Biden said in a statement. who added he was 'looking forward to traveling to South Carolina this evening and Nevada later this week,' the next two states in the 2020 race.  The announcement was seen a distinct admission on primary day that Biden was not going to do well in the Granite State - as last Friday he started a final debate by saying he expected to take 'a hit' like his fourth place finish in Iowa. Biden's poll numbers in New Hampshire have been going the wrong way in recent days, with the threat that he might be passed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who has seen a surge of interest since Friday's debate. Once the front runner in the Democratic Race, Biden's strategy especially envisioned South Carolina as a firewall, where he has strong support in the black community.
  • As President Donald Trump jetted into New Hampshire on Monday evening to hold a re-election rally in the midst of the primary campaign in the Granite State, his appearance came as Democrats continue to wrestle not only with who should lead the opposition to Mr. Trump in November, but also the general exasperation among many Democratic voters about his presidency. 'Who's ready to put the tweets behind us?' asked Pete Buttigieg to a rousing cheer from a crowd at Exeter High School on Monday, a line which draws routine strong approval from his campaign audiences. No matter the candidate, no matter the type of event, from a simple rally to a town hall meeting, the issue of President Trump isn't far from the tongues of Democrats, as voters in the past week almost seemed to plead with Democrats to stop their infighting and join together to end the Trump Administration. 'Job one is defeating Donald Trump,' a man told Joe Biden at a rally in Hudson on Sunday. 'I hate the man. I hate him.' And it's even reflected in the polls. On the ground here in the Granite State, there were a number of examples at events in the past week of how Mr. Trump's election jolted ordinary Americans into getting involved in the 2020 campaign, against the President.  'I've always been interested in politics, but I've always stayed on the sidelines,' a woman named Jan from Derry said at an Elizabeth Warren rally.  'And then Donald Trump got elected. And everything changed.' The story was similar on Sunday, as Becky Gilbert of Concord talked about how her father had made sure she registered as a Republican when she turned 18 years old, telling her, 'You are a Republican.' 'And then my party nominated Donald Trump,' Gilbert said, adding that she left the GOP last summer. 'On the way here this morning I found out that my mother just did too,' she added. The final rallies of the Democratic campaign came as President Trump arrived in Manchester for a rally of his own - as there is also a Republican Primary in the Granite State on Tuesday. The Associated Press reported Monday that part of the goal of the President's advisers was to use the rally to scramble the campaign plans of Democrats in the Manchester area - but most were wrapping up their campaigns in other New Hampshire towns. At the same time President Trump was holding his rally, actor Kevin Costner took the stage to speak on behalf of Buttigieg in Exeter - but instead of a stirring stump speech, Costner spoke in hushed tones, almost like it was a group therapy session. And much of it was about the President, though Costner never said his name. 'Normally, I would cast my vote and get back to work, and that's as far as I would go in this process,' Costner said.  'But things don't really feel right to me. And they haven't felt right for a while. And maybe you're feeling the same thing,' Costner said. “It's impossible to not hear it, even for our children,” as Costner bemoaned that the political language has 'shifted dangerously.' 'We can't tolerate four more years of this presidency,' said Melanie Levesque, a New Hampshire State Senator. And that's certainly been on display in the Granite State.
  • Fighting through snow and cold rain on a final day of campaigning, leading Democrats in the 2020 race for President rushed through one more blizzard of campaign events in the Granite State, on the eve of finding out whether their months of work - and millions of dollars in overall spending - was going to produce a result beneficial to their candidate. 'It's going to be a busy day,' said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), as he addressed a supportive crowd at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire.  Sanders urged his supporters to turn out in large numbers, and cast the New Hampshire vote as the start of major change in the U.S. political system. 'Tomorrow could begin the end of Donald Trump,' Sanders said to cheers. While Sanders was hoping to win on Tuesday, other Democrats were simply hoping for a good showing. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who had been languishing in the polls for months, suddenly got a second look from New Hampshire voters after the final Democratic debate on Friday. Over the weekend, her crowd numbers swelled dramatically, as she drew 1,100 people to an event in Nashua, and had to turn away people Monday in an event in Exeter. 'We're on a bit of a surge,' Klobuchar said to cheers at the historic Exeter Town Hall, where the room filled up well before her rally was to start. There were also cheers as Klobuchar talked about waking up to two tracking polls which showed her edging ahead of Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, into third place in New Hampshire. Like her competitors, Klobuchar appealed to those in attendance to consider voting for her - and get their friends to do the same. 'I'm asking you to do that, today, tonight,' Klobuchar implored. 'Call your friends, and ask them to vote for me.' While Biden and Klobuchar were doing four formal events, Warren was only holding two campaign stops - a rally in Rochester, and a final event in Portsmouth. 'It comes to you, New Hampshire,' Warren told voters at her first stop, as she characterized the 2020 election in dramatic terms. 'Our democracy hangs in the balance,' Warren added. Warren has worked for months to set in place an effective ground game in New Hampshire, something which could offset any late gains by Klobuchar in the polls. But after a distant third place finish in Iowa, anything worse than third could be damaging for Warren, especially since the election is basically taking place in her back yard - and yet, she seems to have little home court advantage. Like Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden could also face trouble for his campaign if he places in fourth or fifth on Tuesday. Biden started the day up north in New Hampshire, in the town of Gilford, again pressing his theme of experience, and making clear his distaste for the current occupant of the White House. 'Trump is coming to New Hampshire today,' Biden said, drawing chuckles from his audience, about the President's primary-eve rally. 'I can hardly wait.' Just about the time that Mr. Trump will be holding a campaign rally in Manchester, Biden was going to be just a five minute drive away, holding his own late campaign event. 'Donald Trump is now in more danger to our community and our country than he's ever been,' Biden said. Biden has said no matter what the results on Tuesday, he will go on to Nevada and South Carolina. One wild card on Tuesday will be the results of Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who finished nose-to-nose with Bernie Sanders in Iowa, and has seen his poll numbers bump up here in New Hampshire since the Caucuses. In his first event on Monday, Buttigieg more directly criticized Bernie Sanders, altering his usual stump speech to specifically raise questions about all of the social plans which Sanders has introduced during the campaign. 'How are we going to pay for it?' Buttigieg asked. 'Here's the problem - there's $50 trillion worth of spending,' Buttigieg added. Buttigieg and Sanders will both being going on past New Hampshire no matter what - what's not clear right now is whether it will be another one-two finish like in Iowa. As for the polls, they seem to be pointing all in the same direction - which might make some wonder whether they are missing something happening inside the Democratic Party electorate.

News

  • Ricky Leo Davis, who was convicted nearly 15 years ago of the murder of a newspaper columnist, has become the first California inmate to be exonerated by genetic genealogy, the same technology that identified the alleged Golden State Killer in April 2018. Davis, 54, was released Thursday from the El Dorado County Jail in Placerville after the same DNA evidence that proved he did not kill his housemate, Jane Anker Hylton, in July 1985, pointed to another man as the killer. Hylton, a 54-year-old mother and columnist for the Foothills Times, was stabbed 29 times and suffered a bite mark on her left shoulder, according to authorities. Saliva from that bite mark would ultimately solve the case. Davis, who was convicted in the 20-year-old case in August 2005, is the second inmate in U.S. history to be freed using genetic genealogy, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “Simply put, Ricky Leo Davis did not kill Jane Hylton,” El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson said. Pierson announced the latest development in Davis’ case during a news conference Thursday. He also announced the arrest of the new suspect, who the Sacramento Bee identified as 51-year-old Michael Eric Green. CBS Sacramento reported Green was arrested outside his Roseville home, where neighbors said he’d spent much of his life living with and caring for his parents. Green was one of three young men Hylton’s then-13-year-old daughter told investigators she’d met in a park the night her mother was slain. She identified the boys by first names only: Calvin, Michael and a third boy named either Steve or Brian. Green, who was a juvenile when Hylton was killed, was arrested Tuesday in Placer County. He was booked Friday into the El Dorado County Jail on a murder charge, according to jail records. Pierson said the other two boys Hylton’s daughter named the morning her mother’s body was discovered have also been tracked down. One has since died and the other is cooperating with the investigation. The prosecutor said the new developments in the murder case were “two of the most dramatic extremes” he’d experienced in his 28 years on the job. “On one hand, a person, Ricky Davis, was falsely accused, brought to trial, convicted and has spent the last 15-some years in custody for a crime that I can tell you, in all confidence, he did not commit,” the prosecutor said. “It’s not a matter of we don’t have sufficient evidence to move forward on it or to proceed to a new trial. “In all confidence, he did not commit this crime. He is not responsible.” A brutal crime Davis, who was 20 when Hylton, 54, was killed, called police shortly after midnight July 7, 1985, after he and his girlfriend at the time, Connie Dahl, found Hylton’s body in the home they had just begun sharing, according to the Northern California Innocence Project. The home, located in El Dorado Hills, belonged to Davis’ grandmother, who the day before had allowed Hylton, who was her employee, and Hylton’s daughter to move in because the columnist was having marital trouble. “Davis and Dahl told detectives they had gone to a party the night before and returned home at 3:30 a.m., where they found Hylton’s daughter waiting outside,” the organization’s synopsis of Davis’ case reads. “She told them that she had gone out with a group of boys that night and was afraid her mother would be upset with her for being out too late. The three entered the house together. “Davis saw blood in the hallway outside the master bedroom and found Hylton’s body on the bed. Davis and Dahl immediately called 911 to report the crime.” Hylton’s estranged husband was cleared of the crime and the case eventually went cold. Fourteen years later, in November 1999, cold case detectives with the El Dorado Sheriff’s Office reopened the investigation and brought in Dahl for questioning. “The detectives interrogated Dahl four times over the next 18 months using techniques known to increase the chances of false confessions,” the case synopsis says. “Dahl ultimately changed her story for police and implicated Davis as the killer. She also implicated herself in the crime, telling the police that she bit the victim during the attack.” In addition, Dahl claimed Hylton’s daughter helped the couple move her mother’s body. Based nearly entirely on Dahl’s new claims, Davis was convicted in 2005 and sentenced to 16 years to life in prison, the synopsis states. Dahl, meanwhile, received a sentence of a year in county jail for her purported role in the crime. The Northern California Innocence Project became involved in Davis’ case in 2006, opening its own investigation into Hylton’s murder. With the cooperation of Pierson’s office, Davis’ attorneys sought DNA testing on evidence from the crime scene, including the victim’s nightgown and scrapings taken from under her fingernails. The testing found a man’s DNA on the nightgown in the area of the bite mark, the synopsis says. DNA found under the victim’s fingernails matched the sample from nightgown. “The test results excluded Davis, Dahl and Hylton’s daughter as the sources of the DNA,” according to the case synopsis. “The unknown male DNA profile found on the nightgown indicated that Dahl did not bite the victim, contrary to her testimony at trial.” Innocence Project attorneys went to court with the new evidence, successfully arguing in 2018 that the evidence would have likely resulted in a different outcome at Davis’ trial. Davis’ conviction was overturned on April 15, 2019, but prosecutors initially intended to retry him for Hylton’s slaying. Instead, Pierson’s office teamed up with the Sacramento County Crime Lab to use genetic genealogy to trace the unknown DNA to potential family members who had submitted their own genetic profiles to public websites. The process led detectives and prosecutors to Green. ‘Aggressive confession-driven interrogation tactics’ Pierson on Thursday highlighted the interrogation tactics he said led to Davis’ arrest and conviction more than two decades after Hylton was killed. In a court hearing at which Davis was officially set free, the prosecutor described Dahl’s questioning by two now-retired investigators as “aggressive, confession-driven interrogation.” In a snippet of Dahl’s interrogation transcript shared by Pierson’s office via video, a detective urged her to be the first to talk in the case. “So the train is coming through right now and, in my experience in law enforcement, the first one to jump on the bandwagon always gets the, always gets the easiest ride,” the unnamed detective said. “Right,” Dahl responded. Watch a video about the Jane Hylton case below. Editor’s note: The video contains crime scene footage that may be too graphic for some viewers. The detective then brought up the bite mark on the victim’s left shoulder. “…whether Ricky brings it on you or you bring it on somebody else, have you ever been the type of person that, during a fight, you know, whether you scratch, hit, punch, have you ever bitten someone? Do you ever bite?” the detective asked. “I’ve bitten some,” Dahl responded. “I’ve bitten a couple of times. Yeah.” The next snippet shows Dahl saying she didn’t know if she’d bitten Hylton. “I don’t know if … I don’t believe that I have it in me to help do this,” she said. Eventually, Dahl confessed to biting Hylton and said Davis killed her. Dahl died in 2014, the Bee reported. Watch Thursday’s news conference announcing Ricky Davis’ exoneration below. According to the newspaper, which covered Davis’ hearing Thursday, Pierson told El Dorado Superior Court Judge Kenneth J. Melekian that the DNA evidence exonerating Davis led his office to go over the murder case again as though it had never been solved instead of trying to prove Davis was the killer. When Melekian turned toward Davis a short time later, he declared him “factually innocent.” Davis and his attorneys were emotional following the hearing, the Bee reported. One Innocence Project lawyer, Melissa O’Connell, thanked Davis for his “tremendous strength and resilience, and never giving up hope,” the newspaper said. Davis, who emerged from the jail shortly after 3 p.m., walked into a crowd of about two dozen family members and Innocence Project staff. They hugged him and welcomed him back into the outside world. “God bless the Innocence Project,” Davis said as he held up a T-shirt from the organization. Both his own lawyers and Pierson said Davis will likely be financially compensated for the time he wrongfully spent in prison. According to The Associated Press, that compensation, under California law, would equal $750,000, or $140 for each day he spent behind bars. Pierson talked after the fact about meeting face-to-face with Davis a few nights before his release. “It’s an interesting conversation, to meet with someone as a prosecutor and realize that this person has, in fact, been falsely accused, convicted and incarcerated,” Pierson said. “He said a number of things. He knew that we had made a commitment that we would follow up on it.” He said Davis referenced the amount of time it had taken to free him since the DNA evidence first indicated his innocence in 2014. “I had to tell him, in all candor, if this investigation had moved forward years ago, the technology did not exist, the techniques did not exist that were employed in this case to unwind it the way that we were able to do it now,” Pierson said. “I wish it had occurred sooner, that we could have gotten him out of custody sooner. The practical reality is it’s only been the past year and a half, two years that genetic genealogy to identify someone in these circumstances has been in existence.” O’Connell said she and her colleagues believed in Davis’ innocence since they took on the case, both because of his own claims and what they believe were coercive interrogation methods. She said it was amazing how composed Davis remained in court Thursday. “I asked him, ‘Did you ever think this day would come?’ and he said, ‘Yes.’” O’Connell said. “He never gave up hope, and he trusted that the system would undo this wrongful conviction.” Watch Pierson and O’Connell discuss Thursday’s developments below, courtesy of the Bee. © 2020 © 2020 Cox Media Group
  • A California man is accused of entering a home, where the residents said he was making scrambled eggs and eating flan while not wearing pants, authorities said. Carl Cimino, 61, of Desert Hot Springs, was booked into the Riverside County Jail on a charge of residential burglary Tuesday morning, according to arrest records. According to police, three people woke up at their home around 7:30 a.m. and heard banging and yelling in the kitchen. They found Cimino making scrambled eggs with bologna and ranch dressing and eating flan, The Desert Sun reported. According to deputies, Cimino was not wearing pants and refused to leave the residence, the newspaper reported. Deputies finally were able to remove Cimino after using a police service dog, according to the arrest report. Cimino was placed on a gurney and removed from the home by paramedics, according to The Desert Sun. According to jail records, Cimino was free on bail after being arrested Jan. 23 on a drug-related accusation, the newspaper reported. The home’s residents said they were not hurt and there was no damage. They believe Cimino entered the home through an unlocked door, according to The Desert Sun.
  • Nearly all the employees at Orlando’s religious theme park, Holy Land Experience, will lose their jobs this spring. A document sent to the city of Orlando on Monday shows that the theme park will lay off all its staff involved in its stage shows. The move comes after the park announced it will be “shifting the focus of the park away from entertainment and theatrical productions to focus on the Biblical Museum.” Park officials said the layoffs will take effect April 18. In total, according to the Federal Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification document sent to the city of Orlando, 118 jobs will be eliminated. The restructuring comes as a result of a “corporate wide ministry reorganization,” according to documents filed with the city.
  • A man with a metal detector made an explosive discovery when he found a live mortar from World War II Monday. Police said the munition was a remnant from when the area was used as a training ground during the war. The bomb squad determined the mortar was too unstable to be moved so it was detonated near where it was found. “The blast was heard from a distance, which caused alarm for many residents,” Lebanon police said on social media. “We appreciate everyone’s concerns and phone calls.” Authorities searched the area for more mortars before deeming it safe.
  • Ja’net DuBois, who played feisty neighbor Willona Woods on the 1970s television series “Good Times,” was found dead in her home Tuesday morning, according to a report. She was 74. The actress’ family told TMZ that DuBois died in her sleep at her Glendale, California, home. DuBois played the Evans family’s neighbor on “Good Times,” and also sang the theme song to 1970s sitcom “The Jeffersons,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. DuBois composed and sang “Movin’ On Up” for the show. DuBois won two Emmys Awards for her voice-over work on “The PJs.” She also appeared in movies including “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka,” “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” and “Tropic Thunder,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. DuBois also worked on Broadway, performing in productions including “Golden Boy” and “A Raisin in the Sun.” TV Land, which has aired reruns of “Good Times,” tweeted a tribute to the actress, writing that DuBois “would be missed.”
  • A Florida woman died after a deer that went airborne Monday after being hit by a truck struck her vehicle. The passenger in the car, Edna Morgan Griffin, 81, died in the accident. The driver, Katharine Mills Comerford, 58, was taken to a hospital with serious injuries, WDHN reported. Jessie Alton Barnes, 47, hit the deer while driving a 2018 Dodge Ram. The deer flew through the air before crashing through Comerford’s 2010 Ford Escape. Investigators said the deer crashed through the front windshield, striking both Comerford and Griffin before flying through the back window, WDHN reported. No one else was injured.