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Dec. 1 2017 2:28 PM

Trump Could Put Lives at Risk and Gain Nothing by Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Axios reports today that President Trump plans to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in a speech on Wednesday. It’s not clear yet if this also means he’s ordering the U.S. Embassy to be moved to the city, though the Israeli media has reported that he’s planning to do so, and Vice President Mike Pence said this week that he’s “actively considering” doing so. According to the Wall Street Journal, “U.S. officials this week said the administration is mulling a long-term plan to move the embassy that could play out in Mr. Trump’s second term,” though that seems a bit optimistic considering the rest of today’s news.

The move would be deeply controversial. Israel claims Jerusalem as its capital, and most of its governments—including the current one—have opposed dividing the city. Palestinians, meanwhile, want east Jerusalem to be the capital of a future independent state. The long-standing U.S. position has been to stay neutral on Jerusalem’s permanent status until it is resolved through negotiations, so the American Embassy—along with the embassies of almost every other country—is in Tel Aviv.

Congress passed a law in 1995 declaring that Jerusalem should be recognized as the Israeli capital, and the embassy moved, but it allows the president to delay the move for six months due to national security concerns, which four presidents have done every six months since then.

Trump, like Bill Clinton and George W. Bush before him, vowed on the campaign trail to move the embassy, but he too signed the waiver in June to keep the embassy in Tel Aviv. Trump had placed a great deal of faith in his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his former lawyer Jason Greenblatt to reach the “ultimate deal”  for Mideast peace, and the embassy move could derail that effort. The administration was also reportedly lobbied by Jordan’s King Abdullah as well as some Israeli officials. While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly maintains that the embassy should be moved, there have been quite a few reports that he’s said otherwise in private. Whether or not that’s true, it doesn’t seem to be a major priority for him. But there has been growing pressure on Trump to fulfill his campaign promise since then, particularly from pro-Israel Christian evangelical groups. If Trump does indeed make this announcement next week, it can be taken as another sign of the Christian right’s growing influence over U.S.–Israel policy.

So what would happen if the embassy was moved? Fears that the move would provoke a new intifada are probably overblown. But there would be protests, perhaps in Israel or the Palestinian territories or at U.S. embassies elsewhere, and some of those protests would likely turn violent. As Michael Koplow has written, is this an entirely symbolic gesture from which the U.S. and Israel would gain nothing material “worth even one American, Israeli, or Palestinian life? Is it worth even one dollar of property damage?”

Palestinian officials have vowed diplomatic retaliation for any move, and Arab leaders would probably sour on cooperating with whatever it is Kushner is up to. (In some interesting timing, Kushner is due to give a rare public speech about his peace efforts in Washington on Sunday.)

Thus far, the Trump administration’s approach to Israeli-Palestinian issues, while far from exemplary, haven’t been as disastrous as we might have feared after the campaign. This is in large part because Trump himself has been uncharacteristically quiet on the subject and has avoided any overtly provocative moves.

That may be about to end. When I wrote a preview of the Trump administration’s Mideast policy last December, Aaron David Miller, a former State Department Middle East negotiator who served in multiple Democratic and Republican administrations, told me that moving the embassy “would send a powerful signal that the Israel-Palestinian peace process, at least for the Trump administration, is closed for the season.”

So much for the ultimate deal.

Dec. 1 2017 1:13 PM

Senate Republicans Have the Votes to Pass Their Tax Bill

Senate Republicans have the votes to pass their tax bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters late Friday morning after meeting with his caucus. The GOP senators were all smiles on the Senate floor afterwards—except for Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who appears to have gotten rolled.

The holdouts heading into Friday morning were Corker, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, and Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson.

Johnson announced his support for the bill earlier in the day. The deduction for pass-through businesses, which the original bill pinned at 17.4 percent, will now be 23 percent. He told reporters the cost would be offset by adopting the House’s slightly higher rates on deemed repatriated earnings.

Collins seemed quite pleased leaving the caucus meeting, and said to expect a statement soon, as a McConnell staffer ushered her through the sea of reporters. Collins had been calling for a couple of health care provisions to pass separately, to mitigate the negative impact of repealing Obamacare’s individual mandate, as well as to include the House bill’s deduction for property taxes. Her reaction suggested perhaps leaders had persuaded Collins to take them to 50 votes, allowing them to ignore the demands of deficit hawks like Flake and Corker.

Corker had thrown the process for a loop on Thursday night, holding a procedural vote hostage until he got a commitment for an additional $350 billion in revenue. That didn’t go over well with the rest of the conference, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz led a counter-revolt. A reporter asked Cruz on Friday morning if he won out.

“That’s correct,” he said.

Marc Short, the White House’s legislative director, was making the rounds Friday morning. I asked him if the plan was just to leave Flake and Corker behind without major changes on their issues, and to just get to 50 with Collins.

“No, I would not say that,” he said.

We found out why shortly thereafter, when Flake announced his support.

The Arizona senator said he “secured both” of his objectives: Eliminating an expensing gimmick in the bill, and obtaining "a firm commitment from the Senate Leadership and the administration to work with me on a growth-oriented legislative solution to enact fair and permanent protections for DACA recipients.”

We’ll find out soon enough how far that “firm commitment” gets through the legislative process. But for now, he’s on the bill. Getting 51 votes instead of 50 is important for leaders not just as a show of strength, or to give tie-breaking Vice President Mike Pence his Friday duties off. It also would make the final vote on the conference committee report “Alabama-proof,” in case Democrat Doug Jones wins the Dec. 12 special election against Roy Moore.

Another piece of outstanding business, the Rubio-Lee amendment to boost the child tax credit and raise the corporate tax rate, will still come up for a vote as an amendment, Lee's office told me.

Corker may or may not vote for the bill. But he, and the deficit hawk cause, got taken to the woodshed overnight. Corker is usually quite chatty with reporters. He wasn’t after the meeting Friday.

“I’m not in a conversing mood right now,” he said.

Dec. 1 2017 12:51 PM

Trump Lawyer’s Response to Flynn News: You Mean That Former Obama Official Got in Trouble?

President Donald Trump’s attorney Ty Cobb issued a response on Friday to the news that former national security adviser Michael Flynn had pled guilty to making false statements to the FBI and appeared to be cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of potential Trump ties to Russian election interference.

That statement was basically, nothing to see here.

Today, Michael Flynn, a former National Security Advisor at the White House for 25 days during the Trump Administration, and a former Obama administration official, entered a guilty plea to a single count of making a false statement to the FBI.
The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year. Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn. The conclusion of this phase of the Special Counsel’s work demonstrates again that the Special Counsel is moving with all deliberate speed and clears the way for a prompt and reasonable conclusion.

Considering the statement went out of its way to describe Flynn as a “former Obama administration official,” it’s probably worth recalling a few fast facts about the Flynn situation.

  • Flynn’s “statement of the offense” implicates an unnamed Trump transition official, presumably above him on the food chain, in knowing about and advising his conversations with the Russians, which were at issue in Flynn’s false statements.
  • Flynn was kept on as national security adviser even after then–acting attorney general Sally Yates warned the White House that he had lied about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in a way that left him open to blackmail by the Russians. He was ultimately only fired when it emerged publicly that he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence.
  • It’s also maybe worth noting that former FBI director James Comey—who was fired by Trump because of the Russian investigation, according to the president—testified under oath that he was privately asked by Trump to drop his investigation of Flynn. (The president denies this.)
  • And it also might be worth noting that Flynn was not some minor figure in Trump’s campaign. In fact, he was one of Trump’s fiercest defenders, most notably leading a chant of “lock her up” during prime time of the Republican National Convention. In fact, he was so high up in the Trump campaign that candidate Trump himself floated his name to the New York Times as a possibility for vice president.
  • Finally, it’s possibly worth remembering that former President Barack Obama had Flynn removed from his position as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency two years into his work there. Oh yeah, and Obama reportedly explicitly warned President Trump to “steer clear” of Flynn.

But, sure, he’s probably most notable as “former Obama administration official.”

Dec. 1 2017 12:51 PM

Remember When Trump Reportedly Told Michael Flynn to “Stay Strong” During the Russia Investigation?

Earlier Friday, Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to federal authorities about his conversation with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. Reports indicate Flynn is prepared to give evidence to special counsel Robert Mueller about Donald Trump and other Trump administration/campaign officials; Flynn, who was heavily involved in the Trump campaign and served briefly as national security adviser, could conceivably have information on discussions involving Russian "collusion" and/or the question of whether Trump obstructed justice by firing ex-FBI director James Comey.

In light of all of this, Michael Isikoff's May 18 Yahoo story about Trump communicating with Flynn after he resigned is particularly interesting:

[Flynn] indicated he and the president were still in communication. “I just got a message from the president to stay strong,” Flynn said after the meal was over, according to two sources who are close to Flynn and are familiar with the conversation, which took place on April 25.

April 25, for what it's worth, would put the conversation a few weeks before Comey's firing and after Trump had (allegedly) told Comey he hoped the FBI director would decide on "letting Flynn go" in regard to the investigation into the ex-national security director's lobbying activities and foreign contacts.

Dec. 1 2017 11:37 AM

Report: Flynn Prepared to Testify That Trump Told Him to Contact Russia

Update, Dec. 1, 8:10 p.m.: ABC News reporter Brian Ross corrected his report from earlier in the day, now saying it was then-president-elect Trump, not candidate Trump, who directed Flynn’s Russia contacts.

Original post, Dec. 1, 11:37 a.m.: ABC's Brian Ross says that Michael Flynn—the former national security adviser who pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI and is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation—is prepared to testify that Donald Trump directed him to make contact with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign. Video:

Trump has directly denied having any knowledge that anyone involved with his campaign was in contact at any point with Russian officials.

Some caveats:

On the other hand, wow!

Developing!

Dec. 1 2017 10:30 AM

Michael Flynn Pleads Guilty to Lying to FBI About Russia, Appears to Be Cooperating With Mueller

This post has been updated with developing news.

Former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty in federal district court Friday to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak.

Flynn subsequently issued the following statement:

After over 33 years of military service to our country, including nearly five years in combat away from my family, and then my decision to continue to serve the United States, it has been extraordinarily painful to endure these many months of false accusations of "treason" and other outrageous acts. Such false accusations are contrary to everything I have ever done and stood for. But I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right. My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the Special Counsel's Office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country. I accept full responsibility for my actions.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating Flynn for a number of potentially illegal activities involving foreign contacts and private-sector clients; that Flynn has been charged with only one crime seems to confirm the widely discussed possibility that he's cooperating with Mueller to give testimony against others. (The special counsel's office is reportedly also investigating whether Michael Flynn Jr., who worked with Flynn's lobbying firm, helped plan a kidnapping on behalf of the government of Turkey; potential charges against Flynn Jr. could also have constituted leverage encouraging Flynn to cut a deal.)

Per previous reports and the brief court document Mueller submitted, Flynn told FBI investigators (as well as other members of the Trump administration) that he had not discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia during a December 2016 phone call with Kislyak that appears to have been intercepted by U.S. intelligence services monitoring the Russian ambassador. The Obama administration imposed sanctions in retaliation for Russia's interference in the 2016 election, which means Flynn may have been motivated to hide the subject of his conversation with Kislyak for a number of reasons:

  • Trump (and thus Flynn) hadn't yet taken office and it's illegal to engage in unauthorized negotiations about sanctions (or any other subject) with a foreign government as a private citizen.
  • Flynn had previously been paid for private-sector work by Russian authorities and could have been accused of engaging in an unlawful quid pro quo.
  • The incoming Trump administration had political motivations to downplay the friendliness of its relationship with Russia.

Prosecutors on Mueller’s team stated in court Friday that Flynn coordinated his Kislyak conversation with a senior transition official at Mar-a-Lago in December. ABC News reported Friday that Flynn is prepared to testify that Trump directed him to make contact with Russian figures in 2016. Previous media reports indicate he may have been involved in Trump campaign efforts to contact Russian hackers about Hillary Clinton. He also may have information related to the question of whether Donald Trump obstructed justice by urging former FBI director James Comey to drop his investigation into Flynn (and by subsequently firing Comey).

Nov. 30 2017 11:06 PM

Daily Tax Chat 4: Is There $350 Billion Under the Couch Cushion?

The Senate is expected to vote on the Republican tax reform bill this week. Until they do, Slate political writer Jim Newell and economics writer Jordan Weissmann will assess the bill’s chances of passage in daily Slack chats. This is the fourth of those chats. Read Wednesday’s chat here.

 

Jordan Weissmann: So things got complicated Thursday.

 

Jim Newell: Yes. Which is why I am home right now and not at the Capitol waiting for a 4 a.m. vote.

 

Weissmann: God bless.

 

To be honest, I’m shocked. Full disclosure: I wrote not one, but two pieces predicting that Republicans would simply shrug off the JCT’s dynamic score.

 

Newell: Well, 50 out of 52 of them did.

 

Weissmann: True!

 

But still. It came out. Showed that the tax cuts wouldn’t come close to paying for themselves. And suddenly stopped the bill cold.

 

Well, that and the fact that the trigger got nixed because of the reconciliation rules.

 

Which—good riddance.

 

Point being, the deficit hawks ... are kind of trying to stick to their principles?

 

Or so it seems. I don’t know. How does this look to you?

 

Nov. 30 2017 10:38 PM

The President Reportedly Keeps Pressing Senate Republicans to End the Russia Investigation

The president of the United States engaged with multiple Senate Republicans involved in the Russia investigation over the summer, encouraging them to put an end to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s probe into the Trump campaign’s ties to Moscow, the New York Times reported Thursday. The Republican Senators, including Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr, said President Trump discussed ending the investigation with the lawmakers. “It was something along the lines of, ‘I hope you can conclude this as quickly as possible,’” Sen. Burr told the Times.

Trump is already under investigation for potentially obstructing justice for the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of former FBI head James Comey and has never shown much interest in bright legal lines officiating his conduct as president. It doesn’t seem farfetched then that this paranoid president stomped on previous norms of conduct looking to allies for a break. The Republican lawmakers, Sen. Burr included, decided on a charitable reading of the president’s interactions with friendly members of the committee investigating him, chalking it up to political inexperience. For example, Sen. Burr, who leads the Senate Russia investigation into the president, explained to the Times Trump’s irritation with the Russia investigation stems from: “In his world it hampers his ability to project the strength he needs to convey on foreign policy.” Riiiight.

From the New York Times:

In addition, according to lawmakers and aides, Mr. Trump told Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, and Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri and a member of the intelligence committee, to end the investigation swiftly…
Mr. Burr said he did not feel pressured by the president’s appeal, portraying it as the action of someone who has “never been in government.” But he acknowledged other members of his committee have had similar discussions with Mr. Trump. “Everybody has promptly shared any conversations that they’ve had,” Mr. Burr said. One of them was Mr. Blunt, who was flying on Air Force One with Mr. Trump to Springfield, Mo., in August when he found himself being lobbied by the president “to wrap up this investigation,” according to a Republican official familiar with the conversation…
Mr. Trump also called other lawmakers over the summer with requests that they push Mr. Burr to finish the inquiry, according to a Republican senator who requested anonymity to discuss his contact with the president… Mr. Burr told other senators that Mr. Trump had stressed that it was time to “move on” from the Russia issue, using that language repeatedly, according to people who spoke with Mr. Burr over the summer. One Republican close to Mr. Burr, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Trump had been “very forceful.

“In conversations with Mr. McConnell and Senator Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Trump voiced sharp anger that congressional Republicans were not helping lift the cloud of suspicion over Russia, the senators told political allies,” according to the Times. “[Over the summer], Mr. Trump made several calls to senators without senior staff present, according to one West Wing official. According to senators and other Republicans familiar with the conversations, Mr. Trump would begin the talks on a different topic but eventually drift toward the Russia investigation.”

 

Nov. 30 2017 9:19 PM

Today in Conservative Media: The Harassment Scandals Are Turning Into a Witch Hunt

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A daily roundup of the biggest stories in right-wing media.

Commentary on sexual misconduct continued to dominate the conservative press on Thursday. At the Federalist, Ouachita Baptist University philosophy professor and “superhero against the dark forces of political correctness” made a case for supporting Roy Moore:

Here is one thing we know and should admit from the start: in his early thirties, Moore had a penchant for dating teenagers. Apparently, this was not an uncommon occurrence during this time. In fact, this practice has a long history and is not without some merit if one wants to raise a large family.
[...] [Doug] Jones has gone on record that not only does he support abortion, but he supports unrestricted abortion, even opposing a ban on abortion after 20 weeks. This is morally equivalent to supporting infanticide. So either Jones knows exactly what he’s doing in supporting killing babies in utero but doesn’t care, in which case he’s a moral monster, or his moral compass is in such need of calibration that one should never trust his judgment in moral matters. Politics, of course, is inextricably bound with such matters.
In my mind, Jones’ position is so extreme that a vote for him is a vote for the greater of two evils by a wide margin. It’s hard to imagine much worse than the mass murder of innocents. That’s also not taking into consideration his many other views with which conservatives disagree.

National Review’s David French condemned the piece:

This man is a philosopher? Of course we’re always choosing between imperfect men, but there are profound differences between conventional politicians and a man who tried to rape a teenager when he was a D.A. Believe it or not, the American political ranks are chock-full of politicians who possess better character than Moore, whose pasts are far less checkered. I don’t even have to get to the difficult process of line-drawing to have confidence in declaring that Christians should not vote to put a credibly-accused child abuser in the Senate.
[...] If condemning Roy Moore is “virtue-signaling,” then I’ll virtue-signal all day. I’m not urging any person to vote for Doug Jones. I would never vote for a pro-abortion politician. But if you believe this election will make any material difference in the prevalence or legality of abortion in the United States, then you need a civic education. In fact, it’s far more likely that electing a man like Moore will damage the pro-life cause.

At Townhall, Laura Hollis decried “the war on men.” “Not all men are monsters,” she wrote. “And morality shapes culture. But that conclusion is deeply unpopular with large segments of the American population, especially on the left. The ‘anything goes’ ethos of the sexual revolution—and the abandonment of individual restraint and traditional sexual morality—has only empowered the Harvey Weinsteins of the world.” At the Daily Wire, Matt Walsh characterized the wave of allegations as a potential witch hunt:

A man who faces these sorts of allegations is expected to apologize, and if he does not apologize, if he attempts to explain, or add context, or defend himself to any extent, his stubbornness is just seen as a symptom of his guilt. Keillor denied the charges against him, and USA Today called his statement “defiant” and “weird.” What’s so weird about a guy claiming his innocence if he is in fact innocent? Have we completely ruled out that possibility?
The whole thing reminds me of the last scene of The Crucible, where John Proctor is told he must confess to witchcraft in writing or be hung for witchcraft. His choices are not ideal: either admit your guilt and be seen as a witch, or deny your guilt and be hung as a witch. Proctor chose the rope. Most of these men choose to confess. But does that mean they’re all guilty?
And even if they are all guilty, do they all deserve to be destroyed?

RedState’s Brandon Morse unearthed a video of Jenna Bush Hager and Hoda Kotb oiling a male flag-bearer at the 2016 Olympics to argue that women aren’t held to the same standards on harassment. “[T]his clip of women ogling and putting their hands all over strange men is sending signals that dismissing someone’s accomplishments is cool if they’re a man and their body is sexy enough,” he wrote. “Our culture, and NBC — who vaguely said they have a set of “core values” that must be followed by its employees — seems to have a double standard here. At this time, it appears our culture believes one sex deserves more respect than another.”

In other news:

Conservatives assessed the prospects of tax reform in the Senate and the potential political aftermath. At National Review, Jibran Khan took a look at the Joint Committee on Taxation’s analysis of the Senate bill, which found that it would increase the deficit by $1 trillion:

Would making these cuts permanent be the best solution? While the cuts seem to spur some GDP growth, they also lead to massive deficits. Over the next ten years, the estimates show annual ratios such as $246 billion in revenue loss to $39 billion in additional revenue from growth. It continues along these lines until the sunset of individual rate cuts. After this, the plan is in the black; however, it seems unlikely to me that Congress would leave a vote-loser like a pending tax hike on the books without extending it, which would dig the deficit hole once more. It is difficult to see this as anything but extremely fiscally irresponsible.

At Commentary, Noah Rothman criticized the liberal response to comments from Sen. Marco Rubio, who told lobbyists that tax reform would lead to entitlement cuts:

In 2017, the trustees who manage Social Security’s big trust fund revealed that the program will reach insolvency in 2034. Medicare’s hospital trust fund is on pace to go broke in 2029. Non-discretionary spending already absorbs almost 70 percent of the federal budget. Even if it were possible to identify every instance of “waste, fraud, and abuse,” the elimination of such evils will not save these programs. Confiscating the wealth of every single millionaire and billionaire in America would purchase mere minutes on the doomsday clock. These programs will have to be reformed sooner rather than later.
Democrats and their sympathizers in media can pretend they haven’t heard Republican incessant warnings on this subject, but their theatrical displays of shock over comments like Rubio’s only suggest they haven’t been paying attention. The most avoidable financial crisis in modern American history is coming. The Republicans who observe this empirical fact are not the problem, even though their liberal detractors do put on a good show in acting as though they were.

Nov. 30 2017 8:56 PM

Undocumented Immigrant Acquitted in Death of “Beautiful Kate,” a Case Trump Used as Anti-Immigration Rallying Cry

A San Francisco jury, on Thursday, found Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, a homeless undocumented immigrant, not guilty for the 2015 shooting death of 32-year-old Kate Steinle. The timing and specifics of Steinle’s tragic death catapulted the case into the national spotlight as a cause célèbre for then-candidate Donald Trump, who seized upon the death of “beautiful Kate,” as he referred to her on the stump. Languishing in seventh behind his Republican competitors at the time, just two weeks into his campaign, Trump used Garcia Zarate’s past—he had been deported from the U.S. five times and had seven felony convictions, including drug charges—as proof of his campaign’s anti-immigrant operating thesis.

“For Donald Trump, we were just what he needed—beautiful girl, San Francisco, illegal immigrant, arrested a million times, a violent crime and yadda, yadda, yadda,” Steinle’s mother, Liz Sullivan, told the San Francisco Chronicle months after her daughter’s death. “We were the perfect storm for that man.” The fact that San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, months before the shooting, had refused to tell federal immigration officials when undocumented Garcia Zarate was to be released from jail made it a touchstone in the national debate on sanctuary cities.

Despite the national political implications, the San Francisco jury was charged with a more discreet task of criminal culpability for Steinle’s death. Steinle, a medical equipment saleswoman, was out for a July afternoon walk with her dad on San Francisco’s Pier 14 when she was struck in the back by a single bullet. The bullet, shot from a stolen gun, ricocheted off the concrete before striking Steinle. Garcia Zarate admitted to accidentally firing the gun.

The case came down to a question of intent. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

San Francisco prosecutors told the Superior Court jury that Garcia Zarate intentionally brought the gun to the pier that day with the intent of doing harm, aimed the gun toward Steinle and pulled the trigger. [The] Assistant District Attorney [-] spent much of the trial seeking to prove the gun that killed Steinle couldn’t have fired without a firm pull of the trigger, while establishing that Garcia Zarate tossed the weapon into the bay before fleeing the scene — an implication of his guilt, she said.
Defense lawyers said the shooting was an accident that happened when Garcia Zarate, who had a history of drug crimes but no record of violence, found the gun wrapped in a T-shirt or cloth under his seat on the pier just seconds before it discharged in his hands. Matt Gonzalez of the public defender’s office said his client had never handled a gun and was scared by the noise, prompting him to fling the weapon into the bay, where a diver fished it out a day later.

The jury considered first-degree and second-degree murder charges, as well as involuntary manslaughter charges against Garcia Zarate, but, after six days of deliberation, found the 45-year-old Mexican citizen guilty only of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

 

 

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