Guns Aren’t Going Anywhere, So Here’s What Needs to Happen

On this episode of the Smart Girl Politics podcast, RedState contributors Kira Davis and Teri Christoph, along with their co-host April Gregory, tackle the tough issues surrounding the school shooting in Parkland, discussing why we didn’t used to have such violent acts on school campuses and what needs to happen to put a stop to them (hint: it doesn’t involve fewer guns). Also, Omarosa disses Mike Pence’s Christianity, the media weirdly makes Kim Jong Un’s sister a thing, and the Olympics are in full swing.

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Jeff Sessions Orders Investigation of the FBI

FILE – In this March 6, 2017 file photo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions waits to make a statement at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in Washington. Sessions is seeking the resignations of 46 United States attorneys who were appointed during the prior presidential administration, the Justice Department said Friday, March 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Friday afternoon, Florida Governor Rick Scott called for FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign over the way the FBI totally screwed the pooch in their handling of a report that the shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, might have been dangerous.

The FBI has admitted it failed to follow its own procedures…and the FBI admitting anything is a fairly seismic event.

On January 5, 2018, a person close to Nikolas Cruz contacted the FBI’s Public Access Line (PAL) tipline to report concerns about him. The caller provided information about Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting.

Under established protocols, the information provided by the caller should have been assessed as a potential threat to life. The information then should have been forwarded to the FBI Miami Field Office, where appropriate investigative steps would have been taken.

We have determined that these protocols were not followed for the information received by the PAL on January 5. The information was not provided to the Miami Field Office, and no further investigation was conducted at that time.

Now Attorney General Jeff Sessions has weighed in:

I hope Sessions is serious and gets rid of some senior people pour encourager les autres.

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The Florida School Shooting and Think Progress’ Vile Smear of JROTC

Think Progress is being obscenely dishonest to score political points against the NRA and conservatives who support gun rights.

The sad reality of our modern era is that we now expect tragedies to be politicized. We’ve gone beyond Rahm Emanuel’s mantra to “never let a serious crisis go to waste” to watching the dead bodies of children be used in vile, disingenuous attempts to smear political opponents.

The latest round of this was sparked after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida. Democrats and sympathetic media allies have been working overtime to demonize the NRA and any Republican politician who dared to accept a penny from them. Never mind that the Washington Post — certainly no bastion of conservative propaganda — did a detailed analysis of mass shootings and gun laws and found that new laws would not have prevented these killings.

Facts be damned when there is a narrative to push! Think Progress tweeted this yesterday, accusing the NRA of funding the training for the shooter.

When you click on the link, you see the source of Think Progress’ outrage: a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) marksmanship program, in which students participated in target practice using air rifles, and the NRA had donated $10,000 to Stoneman Douglas’ JROTC in 2016.

JROTC is sponsored by the United States Armed Forces at middle and high schools across the country, along with schools operated at American military bases around the world. JROTC’s goals are to instill in students “the values of citizenship, service to the United States, and personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment.” Marksmanship contests using air rifles are included in competitions in the Olympics and NCAA.

Media reports, including a Sun Sentinel article and this RedState post by Streiff yesterday, include detailed accounts of how members of Stoneman Douglas’ JROTC responded during the shooting: with heroism and care for their fellow students, describing how they worked together to direct students into a classroom to hide and barricade themselves from the shooter.

The Sun Sentinel article includes a specific mention that the students used “several backdrops used for marksmanship practice that are made of Kevlar, a similar material used in bullet-proof vests” as a barrier. Oh, could that be something the JROTC purchased with the NRA donation?

“Honestly, I wish I could have saved more people,” JROTC student Colton Haab told the Sun Sentinel. “I wish we could have gotten more people in the classroom.”

That’s the type of leadership that JROTC instills: a desire to help others, even if it puts yourself at risk.

One of these JROTC members sacrificed his life to this cause. Peter Wang, a 15-year-old freshman, was holding open the door to allow other students to escape before him when he was shot and killed.

That’s the true nature of JROTC: building the next generation of leaders who will serve our country and put others before themselves.

The shooter taking advantage of a JROTC program for his own twisted needs impugns the honor of JROTC no more than the terrorists and other killers who use automobiles as their weapon of choice implicate the DMV. Think Progress’ attempt to smear this program dishonors the legacy of Peter Wang and his fellow JROTC members, who acted with true bravery.

Sadly, Think Progress is far from alone in using this extreme, divisive rhetoric. The New York Daily News touted their cover page with a similarly ugly attack:

Funny how there are plenty on the left willing to hold the NRA responsible for sponsoring the program that trained the shooter, but they don’t credit the NRA for sponsoring the program that trained the other JROTC members who acted with courage and sacrifice.

The 2018 midterms are rapidly approaching, so unfortunately we are likely to see this kind of dishonest smear continue, if not increase.

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker

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#HotTake: People Only Care About the Parkland High School Shooting Because the Kids Are White

A tragedy like the Parkland shooting brings out a lot of pathological personalities. One of those is former GOP political consultant Nicole Wallace was on MSNBC. AFter pushing the baldfaced lie that Trump and the GOP made it easier for the shooter to get a weapon, she has this to say.

“I think you are making a different point, you’re making a racial point as well, that people in urban settings — We’re talking about this because, let’s be honest, 17 white kids were [killed]- I think you’re making a good point, Eddie,”

Let the record show that Parkland, FL, is a moderately affluent town and the high school is 60% white.

Let the record also show that not all the victims were white:

When an expelled former student opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, Peter Wang used the last minutes of his life to help save his fellow students.

According to witnesses, the 15-year-old freshman member of the school’s JROTC program “was holding a door to let other students out before him” as suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz prowled the halls of his former alma mater, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

Wang was among the 17 people shot and killed by Cruz. His cousin, Lin Chen, told the Sun-Sentinel that Wang was wearing his standard grey JROTC shirt when he left for school that fateful morning.

(See my colleague, Sarah Rumpf’s post on the disgraceful hit on the JROTC program at Parkland.)

Wallace is a particularly detestable dingleberry around the sphincter of politics. She was one of the consultants who was supposed to help Sarah Palin in 2008 and, in reality, fed damaging information on her to the press. She’s no longer a consultant thanks to Erick Erickson, RedState, and Operation Leper. (This was back when we still backed GOP candidates in elections.)

[H/T to Newsbusters]

But she’s not alone. On Thursday, the New York Times’s Eric Lipton sent out this, now deleted, pair of tweets:

Basically the same point.

I think this kind of commentary says more about the people making it than it does about any national feeling. I seem to remember that lots of people were upset when a South Carolina church was shot up than they were about another church shooting in Sutherland Springs, TX. There is definitely less concern there than there was when garden variety thugs Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown were killed while being thugs. I’d go a step further and predict that if a white kid, mentally ill or not, walked into a 60% black high school and opened fire, there would be riots. For weeks.

This is just race baiting. It is a cheap virtue signaling that is based on a lie. It is a way of calling any Republican who expresses sympathy a racist by implying they are only saying it because the kids are white. It is shameful and disreputable. But it is MSNBC.

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What do we do about Sinners and Shooters?

“Stay in your lane,” says yet another self righteous young internet user, probably on Tumblr, schooling someone she disagrees with on whatever subject she’s become an expert: Russian hackers, feminist theology, “automatic weapons,” Shelby Mustangs, or the sexuality of various actors. The subject doesn’t matter. The idea is that people who don’t know or don’t agree ought to go Over There.


Facebook has made an entire industry of this now, accidentally on purpose (probably). We are finding ourselves exposed to whatever its algorithm thinks is “our lane.” We don’t have to look at icky Other Things. If you wrote and posted an article on dating four months ago, Zuckerberg’s monster now thinks that you want to read articles on dating 24/7, to the exclusion of all else. If you Liked your Aunt Susan’s babka recipe, you receive nothing but dessert bread links for weeks. You’re not only stuck in your lane; you’re on a train track.

We do this in real life, too, which in moderation is an evolutionary advantage meant to help us not be killed. If you see somebody running at you with a knife, you get out of their way. But we’ve hyper developed this fear of the unknown into an avoidance of everything that doesn’t sit well with us, which Jesus admonishes against in today’s Lenten Gospel reading, Luke 5:27-32:

Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. 

He said to him, “Follow me.”

And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.

Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house,

and a large crowd of tax collectors

and others were at table with them.

The Pharisees and their scribes

complained to his disciples, saying,

“Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

Jesus said to them in reply,

“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.

I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”

Look, I don’t want to spend time with tax collectors, either. I don’t want to talk politics with Lefties because they tend to get really emotional. I don’t want to come off like a crazy Jesus lady by talking to everybody about salvation because I want people to like me. I also don’t want to talk to quiet, creepy people because I’d rather be having fun with my friends (who are obviously all super cool people with great senses of humour).

I wonder what would happen if we all started talking to “creepy” people, especially when they are young, before they decide to act out their rage on their classmates and coworkers. I know that won’t always help. I know that some people are walking tornados, human forces of nature, and no amount of intervention or government regulation can prevent acts of nature at our present level of scientific knowledge.

But for a lot of kids deemed sinners or pariahs, eating and drinking (or just talking) with them could be life changing. The black stain on our modern world is not weaponry (that’s always existed) or mental illness (also with us since the dawn of time). It’s isolation. We are the most connected humans have ever been, which means when we choose to disconnect from others, it has a far greater impact on them.

Imagine if Jesus had never reached out to that tax collector. What would Levi’s life have been like? How many more people would he have exploited on behalf of Rome? What influence did Levi’s change of heart have on all the other tax collectors he invited to the banquet?

Our small kindnesses have consequences far greater than we imagine. All Christ said was “Follow me.” Maybe all we need to do is say “Hi, there!” to someone we would normally rush past.


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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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Water Cooler 2/17/18 – Open Thread – Joe Manchin; The Indictment

A short one from me today.

Joe Manchin

You’ve seen at RedState how Joe Manchin felt about Democratic behavior at the State of the Union address. And how he really really doesn’t want any Senators to say bad things about him.

Here he goes again. If a WV voter asks Manchin whether he is pro-life or pro-choice, the answer is “Yes”.

The Mueller indictments

You can have some fun opening the indictment and browsing or searching through it. Pages 17-23 go through various Twitter accounts, Facebook groups, and Instagram accounts they set up. It’s an impressive line-up. They obviously figured a Sanders-Trump matchup was a win-win for them, and the end they even tried to get Hillary voters to choose Jill Stein instead.

On or about November 3, 2016, Defendants and their co-conspirators purchased an advertisement to promote a post on the ORGANIZATION-controlled Instagram account “Blacktivist” that read in part: “Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein. Trust me, it’s not a wasted vote.”

This is a water cooler, and an open thread so feel free to add other topics. Have a great weekend!

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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.


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.


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.


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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It’s Not A Hoax, Mr. President: Take The Mueller Investigation Seriously

The indictment of thirteen Russians for various crimes spent relatively little time online before naysayers took to social media (ironically) to complain it was “nothing.” “It doesn’t matter.” “It doesn’t prove anybody in the Trump campaign was involved.” “This is all because some Russians used social media! That’s so stupid!”

Even President Trump got into it when he tweeted the following:

The mockery of Mueller’s investigation by those who wholly support the absurd conspiracy theory the Justice Department, FBI and Hillary Clinton campaign were in cahoots with each other to make sure Donald Trump lost, comes off looking rather silly after the charges were handed down.

Caleb made a good point on Twitter about those engaging in said mockery:

It goes even further than that. The same people who claim the Mueller indictments are absurd are typically the first tell you about all of their Twitter followers and the level of engagement they receive on social media. They promote their work, whether it’s writing, podcasts, video or a mixture of both using social media! People rely on social media sharing to drive traffic to their content. To get people to read. To get people to engage. To get people to believe.

Why is it so impossible to believe the Russians couldn’t do the same by creating fake social media accounts to drive engagement. Not in support of any one candidate, but instead in creating chaos within the political system?

Some of you no doubt know the name, Jenna Abrams. She may have followed you on Twitter. She never changed her avatar. It was always the same:

Jenna amassed tens of thousands of followers and people wanted her to follow them. But there was no Jenna. She was the product of a Russian troll farm outfit. But she had people fooled. From The Daily Beast:

Abrams, who at one point boasted nearly 70,000 Twitter followers, was featured in articles written by Bustle, U.S. News and World Report, USA Today, several local Fox affiliates, InfoWars, BET, Yahoo Sports, Sky News, IJR, Breitbart, The Washington Post, Mashable, New York Daily News, Quartz, Dallas News, France24, HuffPost, The Daily Caller, The Telegraph, CNN, the BBC, Gizmodo, The Independent, The Daily Dot, The Observer, Business Insider, The National Post, Refinery29, The Times of India, BuzzFeed, The Daily Mail, The New York Times, and, of course, Russia Today and Sputnik.

That is one hell of a list of publications. Everything from The Washington Post to Breitbart was fooled.

So why is so hard to believe the Russians couldn’t engage in the kind of chaos on a mass scale that would seek to interfere with our elections?

Remember, for Russia to claim success, their goal didn’t have to include supporting any one candidate. The goal was to sow seeds of distrust in the electoral system, the justice system, the political system and to turn Americans against each other. Looking at our political climate is there any doubt the Russians are celebrating?

President Trump may well not be connected to any of the activities of the Russians. In fact, it’s likely he’s not involved. The people who are part of the #Resist movement and think Trump will get indicted will likely wind up disappointed. But the president must show some leadership. In his tweet, he pretty much acknowledges the Russian malfeasance. He wants to separate himself from the events at hand but calling the investigation a “hoax” no longer applies.

President Trump can no longer sit back and choose to just dismiss the entire investigation and seek out ways to fire those associated with it. A foreign power attempted to meddle in our elections. It is time to take the Mueller investigation seriously, Mr. President.

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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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