The Charges Against Trump Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort, Just Got Stacked a Little Higher

Former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, had better make a deal like his partner, Rick Gates, because he’s been hit with some new accusations.

According to court filings on Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, they’re claiming newly discovered criminal conduct from Manafort, listed as “a series of bank frauds and bank fraud conspiracies” relating to a mortgage on Manafort’s property in Fairfax, Va.

Manafort had recently requested that the conditions of his bail agreement be reconsidered. Mueller denied the request, based in part on this new information.

“The proposed package is deficient in the government’s view, in light of additional criminal conduct that we have learned since the court’s initial bail determination,” the prosecutors wrote in the court filing rejecting the bail proposal.

Manafort offered the Fairfax home as collateral in the bail agreement. Investigators said they found “substantial evidence” that Manafort had moved to obtain a $9 million mortgage for the home “through a series of false and fraudulent representations to The Federal Savings Bank.”

To be clear, new charges have not been brought, as a result of this new information. At this time, the charges against Manafort stand at conspiracy against the U.S. and money laundering, based on foreign consulting work they did for the pro-Russia party in Ukraine.

Manafort’s defense seems to be contained in a lawsuit he brought in January against those federal prosecutors. His claim is that the charges brought against him are for things that happened before he was a part of Trump’s campaign team, and as such, Mueller had no business stepping outside of the parameters of the Russia probe, in order to dig into his dirty, dirty past.

He may have a point, but smart money says that Mueller, for whatever charges he’s brought against Manafort and Gates, is less interested in pursuing them than he is in using them to squeeze the duo for “other” information.

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Those Leftover Trump Inauguration Funds Promised to Charities? We’ve Now Got the Rundown

They said that money would go to charity, but in the year since President Trump’s inauguration, nobody really knew what happened to the remainder of the whopping $107 million inauguration fund.

Our Patterico questioned the whereabouts of those funds on Monday of this week.

Well, Patty-cakes, we have an answer.

And not much of it really went to charity (as if we couldn’t have guessed as much).

According to a recent New York Times report, a few million did make it to a charitable organization or two, but the bulk went elsewhere.

The chairman of the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee was longtime Trump pal, Thomas J. Barrack, Jr. Barrack assured us that the remainder of the funds would be carefully doled out to charities.

What required IRS filings showed was a lot of money spent on administrative expenses surrounding putting together events for wealthy Trump supporters and donors.

No small donation redcappers allowed.

By contrast, the return showed that the group’s charitable donations included only a previously publicized $3 million for hurricane relief, as well as a total of $1.75 million to groups involved in decorating and maintaining the White House and the vice president’s residence, and $250,000 for the Smithsonian Institution.

The grand portion – $57 million – went to four different event planning companies.

An even split?

Not quite. The bulk of that went to a pal of Melania Trump’s.

The company that received the biggest payment — $26 million — was WIS Media Partners of Marina del Rey, Calif. Records show that the firm was created in December 2016, about six weeks before the inauguration, and its founder, according to a person familiar with the firm, was Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a longtime friend of Mrs. Trump’s. Otherwise there is very little information available about the company.

Wait – the company was only 6 weeks old and immediately warranted that much money? Even if you’re not outraged that the money promised to charity was given to celebrate Trump’s rich friends, this has to be a bit much.

Ms. Winston Wolkoff made her name planning Manhattan society galas. An associate of the Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Ms. Winston Wolkoff traveled in the same circles as Mrs. Trump, who attended Ms. Winston Wolkoff’s 40th birthday party in 2010. Ms. Winston Wolkoff has subsequently been brought on as a senior adviser to the first lady’s official government office.

OH, well that’s special.

Wolkoff is apparently a name-dropper, often invoking the First Lady’s name, while making whatever plans she made for the after-inauguration festivities.

Mr. Barrack praised Ms. Winston Wolkoff, saying she “executed her duties well.”

But Craig Holman, an official with the government watchdog group Public Citizen, which had called on the inaugural committee to release more details about its finances sooner, described the payments to Ms. Winston Wolkoff’s firm and other expenditures as “fiscal mismanagement at its worst.”

Much of the money paid to Ms. Winston Wolkoff’s firm and other event production companies was probably passed through to other vendors that provided goods or services on a subcontractor basis.

Yeah, but she wasn’t the only event planner involved. She’s just the one that got an exorbitant amount of cash from a fund that was supposed to go to charity.

Also reaping payments for event production services was Hargrove Inc., of Lanham, Md., a company that plans trade shows and other events, which was paid $25 million. David Monn of New York, who also is known for orchestrating society events and planned a state dinner for former President Barack Obama, was paid $3.7 million, which the operative said was primarily to plan two events, one of which was billed as a “candlelight dinner” attended by Mr. and Mrs. Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence.

What are they eating that cost nearly $4 million? That’s a lot of Big Macs, Mr. President.

The committee spent heavily on administrative expenses, including $9.4 million on travel, $500,000 on legal fees, $237,000 on fund-raising and $4.6 million on salaries and benefits for its 208 employees. That included $100,000 paid to Rick Gates, the former Trump campaign aide, who has since been indicted on a host of charges by the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, according to the operative who worked with the inaugural committee.

Rick Gates? I hope that money is enough to pay off his attorney fees.

By October, the inaugural committee had paid off most of the costs associated with rewarding Trump’s rich friends, and had $2.8 million left in the bank. They’re promising that as soon as they pay off the remaining expenses, they’ll be donating what’s left to charity, as promised.

Wow.

The committee pointed out that what they’ve already donated to six nonprofits, for a total of $5 million is more than former President Obama’s inaugural committee gave.

It might be because you guys had raised so much more.

Maybe.

So who got the $5 million?

The White House Historical Foundation got $1 million.

The Vice President’s Residence Foundation (They pay for redecorating and keeping up the home of the VP) got $700,000. That should cover some new drapes.

Three groups involved in the hurricane relief efforts got $1 million, each. Those would be the Salvation Army (worthy of much more), the American Red Cross, and Samaritan’s Purse (Hello, Franklin Graham).

Barrack had boasted, when questioned last summer, about the amount of funds that would be handed out to the various charities and nonprofit foundations, insisting that it would exceed any previous administration’s after-inaugural giving.

Ugh.

The inaugural committee split the costs of staging a range of festivities with the taxpayer-funded Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and various federal, state and local government agencies. Security costs alone were predicted to surpass $100 million, which will eventually be paid for by the federal government.

“…paid for by the American taxpayers.”

There ya go. I fixed it for you.

Of those Trump supporters making big government great again, donor Sheldon Adelson gave $5 million.

Companies like Chevron, Boeing, and AT&T also donated.

You know, we should be used to liars and gross largess in politics, by now, but our ability to be outraged really seems to be dependent on our partisan politics.

In other words, I don’t expect Trump’s devotees to condemn this.

 

 

 

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An Instagram Group Chat Reveals Nikolas Cruz’s Obsession With Violence and Racism

The stories of Parkland, Florida high school shooter being part of a white supremacist group may have been a 4chan hoax, but this is not.

CNN went on a hunt to find out more about who Nikolas Cruz is, researching his now-deleted YouTube account, and that led them to a private Instagram group that was frequented by the 19-year old.

In that group, Cruz didn’t just display a fascination with violence and guns, but also promoted racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Cruz seems to have joined the 6-person group in August 2017.

Racism was a constant theme in the chat group, which was called “Murica (American flag emoji) (eagle emoji) great” — a name it was given by Cruz.

The hatred he and others in the group espoused met little resistance from its active members. In one part of the group chat, Cruz wrote that he hated, “jews, ni**ers, immigrants.”

He talked about killing Mexicans, keeping black people in chains and cutting their necks. The statements were not made in jest.

This could almost be written off as irresponsible, ugly juvenile behavior, if not for the fact that he turned out to be a cold-blooded killer.

Of the posts to the group, there were “hundreds” of racist messages and memes.

One member even joked about Cruz’s particular venomousness, saying that although he hated black people, too, he didn’t “to a point I wanna kill the (sic) like nick.”

Cruz said he hated black people simply because they were black; Cruz hated Jews because he believed they wanted to destroy the world.

After one member expressed hatred for gay people, Cruz agreed, saying, “Shoot them in the back of head.”

He also expressed disgust with white women in interracial relationships, calling them “traitors.”

He liked to talk about his guns, or what he called his “arsenal.”

Authorities say he bought 5 guns in the past year, legally.

He also bought body armor, and posted images of himself wearing it.

When it was payday, Cruz let the group know where the money was going to be spent.

“Guys I got paid 330. I am buying body armor,” he wrote.

Cruz did purchase the body armor, according to receipts he posted in the chat — with a $30 discount and free shipping.

Then he asked the group whether it was legal to wear body armor to school.

“School shooters,” he replied, when someone asked why he wanted to know.

Cruz’s bio read, “annihilator,” and at one point, he said to the group, “I think I am going to kill people.”

The group was not amused and told him not to say things like that. He said he was just playing.

During one of the anti-Semitic rants in the chat, Cruz spoke of his birth mother, saying, “My real mom was a Jew. I am glad I never met her.”

Cruz was adopted as a young child by Roger and Lynda Cruz. His adoptive father died in 2004 and his adoptive mom passed away in the Fall of 2017.

In his first message to the chat group, Cruz bragged about writing a letter to President Donald Trump — and receiving a response. CNN reached out to the White House for comment about any correspondence to and from Cruz but has not heard back.

In August 2016, a math teacher, Jim Gard, was told to alert school administrators if Cruz came on campus with a backpack.

They didn’t trust him.

Then, there were the small animals.

He posted several times about killing animals.

He posted a photo on his Instagram account of a disemboweled frog, saying he had killed it because one had killed his dog. In the Instagram chat, he describes killing a number of birds with his gun.

His fellow Instagram group members felt he may have been targeting endangered animals.

“He seemed nice but also had some mental issues,” one member told CNN. “All (I know) is that he likes guns and really hates liberals.”

He was a time bomb that went off, and whether he was a member of a white supremacist group or not, his actions went beyond mere racism.

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Activist Group Looks to Politicize “Black Panther”

Please don’t ruin “Black Panther” for me.

The anticipation for the latest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is high, and reviews for the movie have been glowing, so far.

As a true, Marvel comics geek, I never miss one of the releases, and the long buildup to “Avengers: Infinity War” has been a wonderful ride.

And I just want to enjoy all the characters, all the movies, and all the goofy fun that comes with suspending disbelief.

But then there are always those who will latch on to something good and try to twist it for their own purposes. With the buzz surrounding the “Black Panther” movie, you had to know it was coming.

An activist group is using screenings of the movie for a voter registration drive.

Why?

Members of the Electoral Justice Project, an offshoot of the Movement for Black Lives, are seeking to “mobilize the black electorate” and increase political engagement with the #WakandaTheVote campaign, Blavity reported.

Oh. I get it. “Black Panther” is a black superhero. The movie is set in a fictional African nation called Wakanda, so this is just opportunism.

The founders of the project, Kayla Reed, Jessica Byrd, and Rukia Lumumba say they go where the people are, whether in the streets or at movie theaters.

“This weekend we wanted to meet our people in Wakanda,” Byrd and Reed told Blavity. “We know that for some it’s a superhero world, but we know that the world we deserve is still waiting to be built — and we want to build it.”

The project’s website notes that volunteers will be wearing “Wakanda inspired outfits” to help moviegoers register to vote.

I honestly don’t have a problem with organizations working in their communities, being civic minded, educating and enrolling new voters.

That can be a really good thing.

What I fear is that they’ll take what should be a fun, positive thing – such as this latest Marvel installment – and turn it hyper-partisan, and intensely political.

If this movie is as amazing as the previews show, it shouldn’t lose its luster by being attached to the political motives of others outside of the movie process.

The project intends to up their efforts ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

“We want to take every opportunity to engage our communities in the conversation of electoral justice,” they said.

Electoral justice?

Um, ok. Just let people enjoy the movie, though.

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There Were 13 Russians Indicted by Mueller’s Grand Jury Today (Let Me Introduce Them to You)

So who are the 13 Russians indicted by special counselor Robert Mueller’s team today?

Their goal was to harness social media, from YouTube to Twitter and Facebook, to interact with Americans, promote hoaxes, fuel partisan bickering, and basically, to create chaos among Americans.

Who was it that said a house divided cannot stand?

Oh, yeah. Jesus.

Mark 3:24-25 NASB “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”

So these sowers of discord weeded their way into American social media and set about dividing. Buzzfeed managed to round up the names:

Evegny Prigozhin – Considered Putin’s “personal chef,” he owns Concord Management and Consulting and the related company Concord Catering. Those are maybe not so much consulting and catering as they are fronts for the Internet Research Agency, otherwise known as Russia’s “troll farm.”

Concord was the primary funding for the 2016 activities.

Said a cocky Prigozhin:

“Americans are very impressionable people, they see what they want to see,” he told Russian outlet RIA on Friday when asked about the indictment. “I relate to them with great respect. I’m not upset at all that I’m on this list. If they want to see the devil, let them see it.”

Yeah. Ok.

Mikhail Bystrov:

A retired police colonel, Bystrov is named in the indictment as the executive director of the Internet Research Agency, the body’s highest-ranking position. He’s been referred to as the “founder and CEO” of the troll farm, Russian corporate records show that by late 2016 the IRA was officially closed down. But a 2015 Russian tax filing showed that Bystrov was now general director of a company called Glavset, LLC. Mueller’s team has determined that the company was one of many fronts for the IRA’s ongoing activities.

I guess when you’re engaged in such shade activity, it pays to move things around, from time to time.

Aleksandra Krylova – She’s the group’s number 3, and hasn’t been previously connected to the troll farms. She was the listed as the leader, at one time.

According to the indictment, Krylova was one of two defendants who obtained visas under “false pretenses” and in June 2014 travelled to the United States. During that trip, she visited Nevada, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois, Michigan, Louisiana, Texas, and New York.

Mikhail Burchik:

Burchik, a 31-year-old internet entrepreneur, is listed in the indictment as the executive director of the Internet Research Agency, the second highest ranking post. According to the indictment, Burchik joined on or around October 2013, before reaching his current position by March 2014.

Anonymous International leaked his name as executive director of the troll farm in 2014. He denied it, but the New York Times blew up that denial in 2015 through some matching emails from the document dump, that also matched Burchik’s email address.

He’s named in the indictment as the manager involved in planning, infrastructure, and personnel.

Here’s an interesting one: Anna Bogacheva.

Bogacheva allegedly worked for a department inside the Internet Research Agency that was known as the “translator project.” This was, per the indictment, the project that “focused on the U.S. population and conducted operations on social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.” While on the project, she oversaw its data analysis.

Bogacheva joined Krylova on her trip to the US. Prior to their departure, according to the indictment, they “planned travel iteneraries, purchased equipment […] and discussed security measures (including ‘evacuation scenarios’).”

The IT manager for the troll farms was Sergey Polozov. According to the indictment, he oversaw “”procurement of U.S. servers and other computer infrastructure that masked [the Internet Research Agency’s] Russian location when conducting operations” in the US.

 Maria Bovda – From November 2013 to approximately October 2014, she served as head of the translator project.

I’m going to assume she and Robert Bovda are related, in some way. So what’s his role?

Robert Bovda was the alleged deputy head of the translator project and attempted to make the trip to the US with Krylova and Bogacheva. But the State Department denied his visa request. The indictment does not note what, if any, relationship Robert has with Maria Bovda.

See? They don’t know, either.

Dzheykhun Aslanov is another veteran of the “translator project.” He joined the troll farm in 2014, and oversaw many of the 2016 election projects. He’s a native of Azerbaijan, and for some reason, others in the “American division” as “Jay-Z.”

He first came to St. Petersburg to study economics at the Russian State Hydrometeorological University, according to the magazine, and lived in the US and visited London as a student.

“Jay was a really not bad manager: not the most competent in this field, well, frankly speaking, generally incompetent, but he had assistants,” a former employee of the Internet Research Agency told Dozhd TV.

Aslanov denied any connection to the organization to RBC.

He was also registered as the general director of a company called Azimut LLC, according to the indictment. He’s charged not only with conspiracy to defraud the US but also committing bank or wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Vadim Podkopaev was an analyst for the translator project. He joined the organization in June 2014. His job was to research the U.S. and draft social media content.

So all those ignorant memes of a young, muscular Trump riding a tank? Yeah, probably his work.

Gleb Valischenko – in charge of “posting, monitoring and updating the social media content” for accounts run by the organization. He was the guy pretending to be Americans, creating groups or grassroots events to get the base riled up. He was with the farm for several years, from August 2014 to September 2016.

He was charged in the indictment with serving as the head of sub-groups focused on interfering in U.S. politics, including the 2016 election. If that’s not enough, he’s being charged with wire and bank fraud, as well as identity theft.

Irena Kaverzina:

Kaverzina served on the same project and posted social media content posing as “multiple US personas,” according to the indictment. She joined the organization two years before the election, in October 2014.

“I created all these pictures and posts, and the Americans believed it was written by their people,” she wrote in an email to a family member last September, according to the indictment.

Kaverzina also admitted she and her colleagues were destroying the evidence.

“We had a slight crisis here at work: the FBI busted our activity (not a joke). So I got preoccupied with covering tracks,” she wrote.

Like Valischenko and Aslanov, she has also been charged with aggravated identity theft.

And finally, Vladimir Venkov.

Venkov began working for the troll farm in 2015. His job was to run multiple social media accounts, posing as another dedicated American patriot, of course, post crazy crap, and monitor social media for the frothing, insane feeding frenzy that became MAGA media.

He’s also being charged with identity theft.

So what does all of this mean for the Russia probe?

Well, it certainly means there was Russian interference in our nation’s political progress, as well as the 2016 election.

Now, as to how deep in it Trump or his team may be, we can’t say now. Maybe they weren’t, at all.

Either way, the continued calls of no Russian interference need to be put to rest.

We have this Russia probe now for a reason.

This is it, and it should bother you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mitt Romney Gets His First Big Endorsement

They shared the same ticket in 2012, so this seems appropriate.

House Speaker Paul Ryan responded to Mitt Romney’s announcement to run for Senator Orrin Hatch’s soon-to-be-vacated Senate seat with a resounding endorsement.

“This is a terrific day for the United States Senate,” Ryan said. “I was honored to join Mitt Romney on the national ticket in 2012 and couldn’t be happier that he’s running for this seat.

“Our party and our country are always better off when Mitt is engaged, and I know that he will put his unparalleled experience, conservative leadership, and lifetime of service to work for Utah in the U.S. Senate,” Ryan said. “His campaign has my unwavering support, and the people of Utah will be getting an accomplished and decent man when they make him their next Senator.”

Mitt Romney does seem like a nice enough guy.

I mean, I doubt there’s a single porn star in his closet.

That being said, he is the epitome of a squishy moderate. He could have walked away with the election in 2012, but after his lame performance in the third debate of the election season, I’m convinced he voted for Obama.

The argument begins now by some that Romney doesn’t live in Utah, but rather, lives in Massachusetts, the state where he was governor.

Romney is popular in Utah, however.

I’m going to go ahead and make this prediction: Romney just won Utah by announcing he’s running.

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There May Be a Plea Deal in the Works for This Former Trump Campaign Aid (What Does That Mean for the Russia Probe?)

Rick Gates, the partner of Paul Manafort, and a former Trump campaign aide has been working on a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller, according to a new report.

Does this mean the Russia probe is ramping up, or about to come in for a landing?

Hard to say, but the news of Gates’ plea deal negotiation is interesting.

Sources familiar with the case told CNN that Gates has been in negotiations for a plea deal for nearly a month. A plea deal with Mueller could indicate Gates is cooperating with the special counsel’s investigation.

CNN reports that Gates has had a “Queen for a Day” interview with Mueller’s team, a term criminal lawyers use to describe an interview in which a defendant answers questions from prosecutors and can admit to crimes with few consequences.

Gates may be taking this plea deal because of new, tax-related charges that could be coming his way.

Gates has already been hit with 8 different charges in the probe, one of which involved money laundering.

Additional charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort are also being prepared, according to CNN, which reported that Gates’s plea deal could be announced within the next week.

Gates hired a top white-collar attorney last month that was spotted meeting twice with Mueller’s team.

To date, charges have been brought against four former members of Donald Trump’s team: Gates, Manafort, Michael Flynn, and former foreign policy aide George Papadopoulos.

The speculation over what Gates’ plea deal may mean for the direction of the investigation has been hotly debated, this evening.

I say hold on to your hats. I don’t think we’re seeing half of what’s coming.

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Florida School Shooter Tied to White Supremacist Group

This young man, Nikolas Cruz, had a lot of problems. Clearly.

As the news and information about Wednesday’s school shooting, and the perpetrator, Cruz, begins to make its way out to the public, here’s one more shocking bit”

Cruz was an active member of a Florida-based white supremacist militia group.

The leader of the “Republic of Florida” white supremacist militia claimed in interviews with the Anti-Defamation League and the Associated Press that accused Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz belonged to the group and trained with other members in paramilitary drills.

A lot of problems.

On the social media sewer known as 4chan, in the section popular with neo-Nazis and white supremacists, several people claiming to be members of the same Florida militia stated, also, that Cruz was a member.

The group describes itself as a “white civil rights organization fighting for white identitarian politics,” according to the ADL. Militia leader Jordan Jereb told the AP that the group wants to create a “white ethno-state” in Florida.

In Florida? Really?

Jereb further pointed out that there was no instructions by his group to Cruz to go out and commit the horrendous school shooting.

“He acted on his own behalf of what he just did and he’s solely responsible for what he just did,” Jereb told the AP, adding that he thought Cruz had recently had “trouble with a girl,” suggesting that the attack could have been timed to coincide with Valentine’s Day.

Seventeen people were killed during Cruz’s rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. Fourteen were injured, with 6 who remain in critical condition.

Cruz was a former student at the school. He’d been expelled for bringing ammunition to school in a backpack.

The AR-15 he used in the shooting was purchased legally a year ago.

Law enforcement arrested Cruz away from school property on Wednesday, and he’s been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

He’s likely to face the death penalty for his actions.

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Was the FBI Warned About Nikolas Cruz as Far Back as September 2017?

There were signs.

Nikolas Cruz, the 19 year old who walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida and opened fire, killing 17, had caught the attention of teachers and authorities, already.

He was troubled.

According to Buzzfeed News, there were red flags from other sources, as well.

 Last fall, a Mississippi bail bondsman and frequent YouTube vlogger noticed an alarming comment left on one of his videos. “I’m going to be a professional school shooter,” said a user named Nikolas Cruz.

The YouTuber, 36-year-old Ben Bennight, alerted the FBI, emailing a screenshot of the comment to the bureau’s tips account. He also flagged the comment to YouTube, which removed it from the video.

I’d like to think YouTube did more than just remove the comment. In this situation, they should have contacted authorities, as well.

FBI field agents with the Mississippi office contacted Bennight “immediately.” On September 25 they conducted an in-person interview, to inquire about what he knew about this user, Nikolas Cruz, and the comment he’d made.

“They came to my office the next morning and asked me if I knew anything about the person,” Bennight told BuzzFeed News. “I didn’t. They took a copy of the screenshot and that was the last I heard from them.”

After Wednesday’s shooting, they reached out to him again.

So what were the signs that people noticed about Cruz that caused concerns?

According to classmates, teachers, neighbors and family members, he was a “loner.” He was obsessed with guns and often flaunted his weapons on social media.

The school had previously flagged Cruz as a potential threat.

He’d been expelled, and school officials were warned not to allow him on the campus with a backpack.

There were so many signs, and people had real concerns, but no action was taken.

Now the question that should be debated is what could they have done? How could this tragedy have been averted?

The FBI began following up on the information they had, immediately.

To date, it’s not known if they have confirmed that the “Nikolas Cruz” from the deleted YouTube comment was the same Cruz from Wednesday’s shooting (I’m thinking it’s a safe bet, yes).

But around 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday — about 30 minutes after Cruz was taken into custody by police in Broward County — Special Agent Ryan Furr with the FBI’s Miami field office called Bennight and left him a voicemail.

“I think we spoke with you in the past about a complaint that you made about someone making a comment on your YouTube channel,” the agent said in the message, which Bennight provided to BuzzFeed News. “I just wanted to follow up with you on that and ask you a question with something that’s come up, if you wouldn’t mind giving me a ring.”

Something that’s come up.

Agents from the Mississippi field office paid Ben Bennight another visit.

“They asked me if I knew who he was. I didn’t. I don’t,” Bennight said. “Then they left.”

According to Buzzfeed News, the YouTube account of the Nikolas Cruz who commented on Bennight’s video was still active Wednesday evening, but has now been removed, for what YouTube lists as, “multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy on violence.”

There were signs. These are not uncommon among these mass shooters.

Where do we go now, with the knowledge we have?

 

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Florida Senator Bill Nelson Reveals New Details About Parkland Shooter (VIDEO)

Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year old shooter identified in today’s Parkland, Florida mass shooting came prepared to do maximum damage.

The number of victims today is holding at 17, and Florida Senator Bill Nelson has revealed new details.

“He wore a gas mask and smoke grenades. He set off the fire alarm so the kids would come out into the hallways. And thus, he had the opportunity with a crowded hallway to start picking off people,” Nelson told MSNBC.

Cruz was a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and had, at one point, been expelled.

Some of the stories coming out from students and teachers are that Cruz was a discipline problem, who seemed preoccupied with guns, and was known to have guns at home.

And no, none of that is reason for the knee-jerk rush to call for gun control.

It is time to talk about soft targets.

What do all of these shootings have in common? The shooter is in no danger of being stopped by someone trained and armed on site.

We’ll be having these conversations for the next several weeks, but for now, just pray for the families and community affected by this.

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