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By Jonathan Allen

If Andrew Gillum ends up as the next governor of Florida, his post-election gymnastics will have been worth it.

But for now, a narrow defeat — close enough to trigger a recount under Florida law — may be the worst possible outcome for a rising star in the Florida and national Democratic parties who had briefly found the political silver lining in a graceful exit after a close race.

On Election Night, Gillum conceded the contest to Republican Ron DeSantis. His decision was rendered with the alacrity and upbeat notes of a candidate who knew he’d be back on the ballot — and it stood in contrast to the bitter fight that Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who also trailed his Republican opponent, Gov. Rick Scott, started to mount immediately.

But on Saturday, with the vote gap having closed considerably, Gillum reversed himself.

“I am replacing my earlier concession with an unapologetic and uncompromised call to count every vote,” he said.

The conundrum for Gillum was both straightforward and a bit of a political straitjacket.

If he had stuck to the initial concession, he might have enhanced his standing with swing voters who don’t want a drawn-out process — at the cost of disappointing dedicated Democrats in Florida and around the country. By pushing the process forward, even reluctantly or with less vigor than Nelson, he may please his core constituency but signal to swing voters that he’s a sore loser — the exact opposite of the message sent by his concession.

Either decision carried risk.

Because Florida is once again the center of national political attention, these themes — Gillum as protector of the rights of voters in heavily minority parts of Florida, or partisan Democrat unwilling to accept the results of the election — figure to have implications whether he has designs on state or federal office down the road.

His camp says his actions on election night and since have been responsible and geared toward ensuring the sanctity of the 2016 election — not positioning himself for any other bid for office.

“I don’t think he’s so much thinking about his future whether it’s statewide, nationally or within the party. I think it’s a bright future,” said one Gillum adviser who spoke to NBC on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the topic on the record.

“While the race isn’t over yet, his top priority is making sure that the will of the people is heard, and that means making sure that every vote is counted, and I don’t think that is going to do anything to hurt him in the future,” the Gillum adviser said. “I think he’s being an adult here.”

But Gillum has tread much more lightly when it comes to litigation than Nelson, a 75-year-old three-term senator who seems unlikely to run for office again if he loses his seat — or, if he ultimately wins and wants to seek re-election, has six years to repair any damage.

Nelson and Gillum are playing something of an inside-outside game, with Gillum working the grassroots.

Gillum has let Nelson take the lead on litigation, but he’s remaining actively engaged with his political base. He held a rally at a black church in Ft. Lauderdale Sunday night and had another event planned in Palm Beach Monday. And it is Gillum’s supporters who have faced off against Trump backers outside the Broward County supervisor of elections’ office.

Barry Richard, an attorney for Gillum, told NBC’s Hallie Jackson Monday that Gillum is reluctant to engage in legal action if some Florida’s counties aren’t able to complete their vote counts by the 3 p.m. Thursday deadline but noted that the candidate is “reviewing his options” and that a lawsuit has always been “on the table.”

“As of this morning, we had a discussion in which he wants to receive advice as to what options he has,” Richard said on MSNBC. “What Mayor Gillum is concerned about at this point is, whether or not it ultimately would affect his race, that he feels an obligation to ensure votes are counted and not to sit back when we are learning that they are not being counted for a number of reasons.”

With Republican and Democratic operatives and lawyers being recruited to travel to Florida to observe vote-counting for the second time in two decades, it’s not entirely clear how the rest of the plot will play out for Gillum, Nelson, DeSantis and Scott.

But Gillum, faced with the toughest set of choices of the four — the two Republicans could and did declare victory while Nelson doesn’t have to worry about rubbing voters the wrong way — has cast his lot on the side of not surrendering unless he remains behind after all the votes have been counted, recounted and perhaps tallied a third time.

He has to hope that, if he is defeated, voters can accept the explanation that demanding a full count was about standing up for the rights of Floridians rather than for himself.

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Justin Trudeau: Activist CONDEMNS PM after fresh controversy – 'I want man-to-man apology'



CANADA Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has faced more controversy after a black student and activist claimed he was a victim of racial profiling before a meeting with the politician.

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Prosecutors broke law in deal with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein



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By Sarah Fitzpatrick, Tom Winter, Kristen Welker, Hallie Jackson and Rich Schapiro

A Florida judge ruled Thursday that federal prosecutors, led by a man who is now President Donald Trump’s secretary of labor, broke the law when they signed a plea agreement with financier Jeffrey Epstein without notifying his sex abuse victims.

Epstein, 66, reached a nonprosecution deal in 2008 with then-Miami U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta’s office to halt a federal sex abuse probe involving more than 30 teenage girls. Epstein could have faced a possible life sentence. Instead, he pleaded guilty to state charges, spent 13 months in jail and paid settlements to victims.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra, in a 33-page ruling, said prosecutors violated the victims’ rights by not informing them of the deal and instead sending a letter counseling them to have “patience.”

“Particularly problematic was the Government’s decision to conceal the existence of the [nonprosecution agreement] and mislead the victims to believe that federal prosecution was still a possibility,” Marra wrote. “When the Government gives information to victims, it cannot be misleading.”

Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta at an event in the East Room of the White House on Oct. 6, 2017.Evan Vucci / AP file

A Department of Labor spokesperson released a statement following the judge’s ruling.

“For more than a decade, the actions of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida in this case have been defended by the Department of Justice in litigation across three administrations and several attorneys general,” it read. “The office’s decisions were approved by departmental leadership and followed departmental procedures. This matter remains in litigation and, thus, for any further comment we refer you to the Department of Justice.”

In his ruling, Marra said Epstein and others operated an international sex ring.

“Epstein and his co-conspirators knowingly traveled in interstate and international commerce to sexually abuse Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2 and others, they committed violations of not only Florida law, but also federal law,” Marra wrote.

“In addition to his own sexual abuse of the victims, Epstein directed other persons to abuse the girls sexually…Epstein worked in concert with others to obtain minors not only for his own sexual gratification, but also for the sexual gratification of others.”

A lawyer for Epstein did not immediately return requests for comment.

The Justice Department has opened a probe into how federal government lawyers handled the case, an official confirmed with NBC News earlier this month.

Brad Edwards, who represented several victims, applauded the ruling.

“Today’s order represents long-overdue vindication for all of the victims of Mr. Epstein and his co-conspirators,” Edwards said. “Unfortunately, this decision also highlights the failure of the United States Government to acknowledge its obvious wrongdoing. Rather than work to correct the injustices done to the victims, the Government spent 10 years defending its own improper conduct.”

Lawyer Jeffrey Herman, who also represented women alleging they were abused by Epstein, called Mara’s ruling a “step in the right direction.”

Epstein — a wealthy money manager who was friends with the likes of Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Great Britain’s Prince Andrew — has been dogged for years by allegations that he sexually abused dozens of teenage girls at his Palm Beach mansion and elsewhere in the early 2000s.

In December, he struck a last-minute deal to avoid a civil trial that would have allowed some of his victims to finally testify against him in open court.

The deal included a financial settlement, the details of which were kept confidential, NBC Miami reported. It also included an apology from Epstein to Edwards, who had accused Epstein of trying to ruin his reputation as retaliation for having represented the accusers.

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IRS agent admits giving Michael Cohen’s financial records to Stormy lawyer



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By Andrew Blankstein and Tom Winter

Federal prosecutors say an IRS investigator in California has admitted leaking confidential details of financial transactions by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to Michael Avenatti, lawyer for Stormy Daniels.

John C. Fry has been charged in federal court with searching for and disseminating Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), reports filed by banks when they note potentially suspicious transactions.

Federal officials say they found telephone records that indicate Fry placed a phone call from his personal cell phone to that of Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti the day before Avenatti released details of Cohen’s financial transactions, and the day after.

Via Twitter, Avenatti disseminated information about Cohen’s receipt in 2017 of $500,000 from Columbus Nova, a company founded by a Russian billionaire, as well as payments to a Cohen company called Essential Consultants from other firms who do business with the federal government, including AT&T and aircraft manufacturer. The

The Treasury Department’s Inspector General’s Office announced after Avenatti’s disclosure that it would be investigating the source of his information.

Fry, 54, is an investigative analyst with the law enforcement arm of the IRS, the Criminal Investigative Division. He has worked for the IRS since 2008.

According to the complaint, he conducted numerous searches related to Cohen, and downloaded five SARs, including one related to a bank account for Essential Consultants.

The federal complaint says Fry verbally admitted providing the information to Avenatti when he was confronted by federal agents.

In a statement, Avenatti told NBC News, “I have done nothing wrong and did not violate any law whatsoever, just like reporters don’t violate the law when they do their jobs.”

Sarah Fitzpatrick contributed.

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