WATCH: Rudy Giuliani insists ‘it’s not my job’ to investigate election-fraud claims before making them

Rudy Giuliani on his podcast (screengrab).

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani claimed it wasn’t his job — and he didn’t have time — to determine whether allegations of election fraud were true before making them public, in a new video obtained by CNN.

“Sometimes I go and look myself when stuff comes up,” Giuliani said in the video. “This time I didn’t have the time to do it.”

“It’s not my job, in a fast-moving case, to go out and investigate every piece of evidence that was given to me,” Giuliani said. “Otherwise, you’re never going to write a story. You’ll never come to a conclusion.”

The video is from Giuliani’s deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by former Dominion Voting Systems executive Eric Coomer.

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo said the video shows “how obvious and ugly” Trump’s intentions are.

“Just know, if you or anyone decides to still put stock in Trump’s sludge, you now know you are buying a bunch of lies designed to destroy confidence in government,” Cuomo said. “Rudy’s justification for spreading sputum is that everybody does it. So what we have here is a battle to the bottom. What does that mean for where we’re all headed?”

Watch below.

CNN obtained exclusive video that shows Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani, attorney Sidney Powell and others being deposed about their election

— Cuomo Prime Time (@Cuomo Prime Time)

The United States announced a $10 million reward Thursday for help finding leaders of the high-profile ransomware gang DarkSide, authorities’ latest try at combating spiking cyber-extortion attacks.

Washington blamed the Russia-based group for the online assault that forced the shutdown of the largest oil pipeline in the eastern United States in May.

Cyber-extortion heists involve breaking into a company or institution’s network to encrypt its data, then demanding a ransom, typically paid via cryptocurrency in exchange for the digital key to unlock it.

“In offering this reward, the United States demonstrates its commitment to protecting ransomware victims around the world from exploitation by cyber criminals,” said a US State Department statement.

Washington also offered a $5 million bounty for information leading to the arrest or conviction in any country of anyone who tries to join in an attack with DarkSide.

Despite the temptation potentially provoked by the sums, not all cyber-security experts were convinced the rewards would be effective in unmasking hackers.

“Absent a bounty hunter willing to travel to their jurisdiction, put their unconscious body in a bag and dumping it at the nearest US embassy, I doubt this will have much of an impact,” said John Bambenek at Netenrich, an IT and security operations company.

“To be fair, it certainly won’t hurt either,” he added.

Cyber crimes have been booming, with new data out in October showing $590 million in ransomware-related payments were reported to US authorities in the first half of 2021 alone.

The figure is also 42 percent higher than the amount divulged by financial institutions for all of 2020, the US Treasury report said, and there are strong indicators the true cost is likely in the billions.

Companies and institutions face intense pressure to pay up in order to get their data unlocked, but also to keep the attack from potentially angry clients and authorities who issue stern warnings not to give cash to criminals.

© 2021 AFP

A political action committee associated with the right-wing DeVos family is donating almost exclusively to one senator: Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.

The PAC associated with Alticor — the parent entity to the multilevel marketing company Amway — gave $2,500 to Sinema in late June, and so did three other similar companies, and Mary Kay executive chair Richard Raymond Rogers gave the same amount in April and Herbalife contributed that sum in July, and she’s the only lawmaker most of them have supported, reported Politico.

“Sinema does have a personal connection to the industry: Her own mother was a direct seller,” the website reported. “But the bigger incentive for multi-level marketers to give to Sinema appears to be her position on labor organizing. The companies face an existential threat from the pro-union Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which would make it more difficult to classify workers as independent contractors. According to one industry source, the bill has become the driving issue since Democrats took control of the White House and both chambers of Congress. And Sinema is one of — if not the only — Democratic allies in the Senate.”

Alticor is owned by the DeVos family, one of the conservative movement’s biggest contributors, and the Utah-based personal care and beauty company USANA Health Sciences, which gave $2,500 to Sinema in June, has only contributed to home state lawmakers Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT), along with a Republican PAC.

“Contributions to candidates from DSA’s political action committee are based on a variety of factors,” said a spokesperson for the Direct Selling Association.

The companies encourage customers to sell their products on commission, but the Federal Trade Commission has found most make little or no money, and those companies — along with so-called “gig worker” companies like Uber and Lyft — are adamantly opposed to the PRO Act, and Sinema is one of only three Democratic senators who have not yet co-sponsored the bill.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) signaled his support Monday at a rally, and Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) has said he supports the contours of the bill but wants to see some changes, including the provision on independent contractors.

“An industry that is literally built on contract employees — which is what the MLM is — would never want to be considered to be, to entertain the notion of having those independent representatives as employees,” said said William Keep, a professor at the College of New Jersey who studies multi-level marketing and pyramid schemes. “I think that [Sinema has] demonstrated a flexibility that they think they can capitalize on.”

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A citizen journalist jailed for her coverage of China’s initial response to Covid in Wuhan is close to death after going on hunger strike, her family said, prompting renewed calls from rights groups for her immediate release.

Zhang Zhan, 38, a former lawyer, travelled to Wuhan in February 2020 to report on the chaos at the pandemic’s epicenter, questioning authorities’ handling of the outbreak in her smartphone videos.

She was detained in May 2020 and sentenced in December to four years in jail for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”—a charge routinely used to suppress dissent.

She is now severely underweight and “may not live for much longer”, her brother Zhang Ju wrote last week on a Twitter account verified by people close to the matter.

Zhang has been on a hunger strike and was force-fed through nasal tubes, her legal team, which did not have information on her current condition, told AFP earlier this year.

“She may not survive the coming cold winter,” Zhang Ju wrote, adding that he had urged his sister in letters to “take care of herself”.

“In her heart, it seems there is only God and her beliefs, with no care for anything else.”

Zhang Ju’s posts sparked fresh calls for his sister’s release, with Amnesty International urging the Chinese government Thursday to “release her immediately so that she can end her hunger strike and receive the appropriate medical treatment she desperately needs”.

Amnesty campaigner Gwen Lee said in a statement that Zhang’s detention was a “shameful attack on human rights”.

Someone close to the citizen journalist, who declined to be named, told AFP the family had asked to meet Zhang more than three weeks ago at the Shanghai women’s prison where she is being held but had not received a response.

AFP was unable to reach Zhang Ju while Zhang’s mother declined to comment.

The Shanghai prison also offered no response when approached by AFP.

Zhang now cannot walk or even raise her head without help, according to Reporters without Borders (RSF).

RSF East Asia Bureau head, Cedric Alviani, said the “international community (must) apply pressure to the Chinese regime and secure Zhang Zhan’s immediate release before it is too late”.

“She was only performing her duty as a reporter and should never have been detained, not to mention receive a four-year prison sentence.”

Four journalists detained after reporting from Wuhan

China has reveled in its success in keeping domestic infections down to a trickle of sporadic outbreaks.

The government has put forward a narrative crediting the Communist Party with returning life almost to normal even as death tolls and infections continue to explode in the rest of the world.

But those who threaten the official version by raising questions about the government’s early cover-up and handling of the Wuhan outbreak face the party’s wrath.

Zhang is among a group of four citizen journalists — including Chen Qiushi, Fang Bin and Li Zehua—detained after reporting from Wuhan.