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Avenatti Pleads Not Guilty on All Counts, Trial Set for June

The former progressive activist will take his case to trial.

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The infamous former attorney for adult film actress Stormy Daniels pleaded not guilty on all counts Monday in federal court, weeks after being charged with wire fraud, stealing millions from clients, and dodging taxes.

“The 48-year-old [Michael] Avenatti, who was indicted earlier this month on 36 counts including wire and bank fraud, appeared in federal court for an arraignment in Santa Ana, California on Monday. The trial is set to begin on June 25 with a status hearing scheduled for June 15,” according to Fox News.

Prosecutors said that Avenatti embezzled settlement funds from five clients and that he “doled out small portions, sometimes labeling them as advances to prevent thefts from being discovered.”

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Avenatti, who also inserted himself into the Democratic Party’s swarm against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during Kavanaugh”s confirmation hearings, lectured Americans on the “presumption of innocence” in a Monday statement.

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“The right to a presumption of innocence and the right to a jury trial are two fundamental rights that our founding fathers demanded when this country was formed over 200 years ago,” the statement said.

Big League Politics reported on Avenatti:

Creepy porn lawyer and known huckster Michael Avenatti has been indicted by a Los Angeles grand jury on 36 charges, ranging from, fraud, embezzlement, and failure to pay taxes, to perjury.

“Avenatti stole millions of dollars from five clients and used a tangled web of shell companies and bank accounts to cover up the theft, the Santa Ana grand jury alleged in an indictment that prosecutors will make public Thursday,” said LA Times. 

The attorney, known for his representation of adult film actress Stormy Daniels in a lawsuit against President Donald J. Trump – which he lost – allegedly embezzled a $4 million settlement from a mentally ill paraplegic client named Geoffrey Ernest Johnson. The report said that Avenatti his the money from Johnson for years.

“In 2017, Avenatti received $2.75 million in proceeds from another client’s legal settlement, but concealed that too, the indictment says,” the report said. “The next day, he put $2.5 million of that money into the purchase of a private jet for Passport 420, LLC, a company he effectively owned, according to prosecutors.”

If convicted on all charges, Avenatti faces up to 335 years in prison.

CNN once promoted him as a 2020 presidential candidate.


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Big League National Security

Will Josh Hawley be the Next Champion for an America First Foreign Policy?

America First May Have its Next Leader to End Wars Abroad

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Does America First have a new non-interventionist champion?

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley has been viewed by many as one of the figures who could potentially lead a Trumpist movement after Trump, should Joe Biden end up being installed as president on January 2021.

Hawley has made a name for himself as a champion of Middle America and questioning the neoliberal orthodoxy on immigration and trade. Lately, Hawley has made a pivot towards  questioning the interventionist conventional wisdom on foreign policy. 

In early October of this year, the Missouri Senator called for the American government to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Hawley tweeted, “Almost 20 years now in Afghanistan. Long past time to draw this war to an end.”

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Hawley’s foreign policy has been a work progress over the past two years. During a 2019 speech Hawley gave at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), he questioned the nation-building policy prescriptions of previous administrations, demonstrating some degree of skepticism towards non-stop interventionism abroad on the part of the Senator.

That said, it remains to be seen if Hawley’s legislative record will fully match his rhetoric.

Hawley is a staunch China hawk, who fears the rise of China and is a strong voice against China’s expansionist efforts. Hawley’s track record shows that his foreign policy views are rough around the edges. Daniel Larison of The American Conservative is not as optimistic about Hawley judging by his votes on the Yemeni Civil War. Larison cited several of Hawley’s votes that may be cause for concern:

Sen. Hawley voted against the Senate’s resolution of disapproval that opposed the president’s effort to circumvent Congress with a bogus “emergency” to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. More important, he voted with the president and most Senate Republicans against the antiwar Yemen resolution that would have cut off all U.S. support to the Saudi coalition.”

Nevertheless, Hawley’s comments on Afghanistan are a good sign that Hawley is catching on to the fact that Americans are tired of foreign wars. Politicians can change their views and behaviors. Hawley is likely recognizing that the America First movement is exhausted by the endless wars and wants candidates and elected officials who offer withdrawal plans. 

After looking at the list of people who have been tapped to join the Biden administration, Hawley tweeted, “What a group of corporatists and war enthusiasts – and #BigTech sellouts.”

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, a fierce interventionist skeptic, maintained cautious optimism about Hawley. In a tweet, he commented, “All kinds of reasons to be skeptical of the authenticity here, but — purely as a matter of rhetoric — just imagine any national Republican speaking this way about a Dem administration even 10 years ago. The framework of politics is radically shifting.”

The jury is still out on Hawley. Regardless of flaws in his voting record, America First advocates should continue to push him and other America First leaning Republicans in the right direction. We should never forget that politicians are still receptive to political pressure and the grassroots holds the keys to political change. 

Young senators like Hawley are the future of American politics and it makes sense for foreign policy restrainers to lobby them and push them in a direction that favors non-interventionism.

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