NEWS BRIEFS

Garden City Telegram

Biden’s deportation freeze is blocked again for 2 weeks

WASHINGTON - The Biden administration’s plan to freeze deportations for 100 days was temporarily blocked again by a judge in a lawsuit brought by Texas, which argues the federal government can’t make immigration enforcement changes without first consulting the state.

U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton in Victoria, Texas, on Tuesday extended by two weeks a temporary restraining order against the deportation pause that was set to expire today. Texas has also requested a longer-lasting injunction that could block the plan during the entire litigation, with a hearing on that request set for Feb. 19.

”The irreparable harm that would accrue to Texas if an extension of the TRO is not granted before consideration of its motion for a preliminary injunction is more substantial than any harm incurred by the defendants,” wrote Tipton. -  Bloomberg News

R. Kelly’s Brooklyn federal trial pushed back to August

NEW YORK - The Brooklyn federal trial of disgraced R&B star R. Kelly has been delayed yet again, this time to August 2021.

A federal judge on Tuesday pushed back the original April date to Aug. 9. The trial has already been delayed numerous times due to COVID-19.

“I suppose it won’t come as a surprise to anyone that that’s a date that isn’t going to work due to the current conditions in New York,” said Judge Ann Donnelly about the April date, adding that it wasn’t “realistic at all.”

The judge also said she is concerned about moving the “I Believe I Can Fly” singer from federal jail in Chicago to federal jail in Brooklyn, where she noted there is a current COVID-19 outbreak.

Dozens of witnesses - many from out of state - are expected to testify at Kelly’s Brooklyn trial, where he is accused of running a racketeering scheme that trafficked women and underage girls who came to his shows.

He also is charged with having sexual activity with three girls under the age of 18 and making child pornography. - New York Daily News

FBI arrests New York man who filmed himself smoking pot inside Capitol during riot

NEW YORK - The FBI on Tuesday arrested a Long Island man accused of filming himself smoking pot inside the nation’s highest house of government during the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol.

Greg Rubenacker of Farmingdale, who the feds say works as a DJ, was expected to be arraigned on charges in Central Islip federal court for his alleged role in the violent insurrection that left five dead, including a Capitol Police officer.

The FBI tracked down Rubenacker after one of his Snapchat followers forwarded the feds incriminating screenshots from his account posted on the day of the siege.

“This is history! We took the Capitol!” Rubenacker narrates on one of the videos he posted online, federal court documents state.

Following that video, Rubenacker posted more showing him inside the Capitol Rotunda smoking a blue electronic cigarette or other vaping device, according to the documents.

“He inhales from the device and blows out smoke into the Rotunda on a number of occasions,” court papers charge. “Recording from below and pointing up showing his face and the Rotunda ceiling, (he) looks into the camera and says, ‘America, baby. What a time.’”

Rubenacker was grassed on by one of his former schoolmates, according to court documents, and the FBI was then able to square his identity with records from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Another video Rubenacker posted shows him sitting near a painting in the Rotunda with other pro-Trump rioters. - New York Daily News

Biden ‘clearly opposes any effort to recall’ California Gov. Gavin Newsom, White House says

WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden opposes a movement in California to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

“In addition to sharing a commitment to a range of issues with @GavinNewsom from addressing the climate crisis to getting the pandemic under control, @POTUS clearly opposes any effort to recall @GavinNewsom,” Psaki said.

Psaki offered the administration’s robust support in a tweet after receiving a question on the matter in a briefing with reporters earlier in the day.

“Obviously he is somebody who he has been engaged with in the past,” Psaki said at the time. “They have a range of issues they have common agreement on, from the need to address climate change to put people back to work to address the COVID crisis. And, you know, we remain closely engaged with him and his office.”

The effort to recall Newsom has gained steam in recent months as dissatisfaction with Newsom’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has grown. Recent polling found Newsom’s approval ratings have dropped following a peak over the summer.

Recall organizers have also benefited from an extended deadline to collect signatures after arguing successfully in court that the pandemic interfered with that effort. Recall organizers say they are on track to collect the nearly 1.5 million valid signatures they need to qualify for the ballot, but it’s still not certain they will reach their goal.

Newsom deflected questions about the recall at a Tuesday morning press conference, saying he’s focused on battling the coronavirus.

“I’m not focusing on that at all,” he told reporters gathered at a mass vaccination site at the San Francisco 49ers stadium, pointing to his work on vaccines, school reopenings and boosting the economy. “That’s where my energy goes, and that’s what we are accomplishing here in the state.” - McClatchy Washington Bureau