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Judge Kavanaugh denies emergency request from Illinois GOP groups seeking to hold large rallies

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Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on Saturday denied an emergency appeal submitted by GOP lawmakers from Illinois that had argued against the governor’s restrictions on meeting in groups larger than 10 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Illinois Republican Party filed a suit in the U.S. District Court in mid-June after Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker permitted religious groups and protestors to convene in large gatherings. Political gatherings and rallies remain banned in the state due to the recent pandemic.

The request went to Kavanaugh based on geography alone. The Illinois Republican Party is continuing to push the lawsuit forward in the lower courts, but the Supreme Court will not be stepping in to permit political gatherings.

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Kavanaugh, who received political backlash from the Democratic Party after being recommended for the seat by President Trump in 2018, has reportedly denied the request without comment, rather than refer the request to the full Supreme Court.

The lawsuit claims that “in-person contact is the most persuasive form of communicating ideas” and the restrictions infringe on their First and 14th Amendment rights.

“Democrats in the state hold almost every lever of power, and the only thing providing a check on their power, the Illinois Republican Party, isn’t even allowed to get together to meet or to properly plan and network for an election [that] is only five months away,” Illinois Republican Party Co-Chairman Tim Schneider told the Chicago Times last month. “This is fundamentally wrong, and as this lawsuit contends, a violation of our First Amendment right.”

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Schneider also said that the governor’s appearance at several Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death is “incandescent hypocrisy on following his own orders.”

Pritzker has said it is his First Amendment right to attend the protests. He also permitted religious gatherings after several lawsuits were filed in May, reclassifying in-person worship as an “essential activity,” but he has encouraged people to continue attending services remotely.

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“There simply is no substitute for the energy, enthusiasm, personal connections to a candidate and media coverage generated by a rally, a bus tour or a fly-around,” the lawsuit says. “Politics is a people business and it is most effective when people connect in person.”

Fox News' Shannon Bream and Bill Mears contributed to this report.

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British judge rejects Venezuela's Maduro’s bid for gold in London bank

Will Maduro ever step down as Venezuela’s president?

Retired four-star general Gen. Jack Keane discusses Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro’s corrupt actions and later provides insight into a new video showing Venezuelan troops reportedly capturing two former U.S. soldiers in an alleged coup attempt.

A British judge on Thursday refused to give Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro control of nearly $2 billion in gold sitting in a Bank of England vault because Britain does not recognize the socialist leader as president of the Latin American nation.

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Maduro has demanded the gold to help his cash-starved nation fight the coronavirus pandemic. But the central bank for the United Kingdom, whose government recognizes Venezuelan opposition politician Juan Guaidó as his country’s legitimate leader, had refused to hand it over to Maduro’s administration.

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The ruling clarifies the question of who is Venezuela’s legitimate leader — at least in the eyes of one world power.

“This is very much showing the isolation of the Maduro government,” said Christopher Sabatini, a senior research fellow for Latin America at the Chatham House think tank in London.

Guaidó has sought to preserve the gold stash at the Bank of England to keep it out of the hands of the Maduro government, which it contends is illegitimate and corrupt. His lawyers reiterated during a recent four-day hearing their stance that the National Assembly leader became Venezuela’s rightful president under provisions of the country’s constitution.

Guaidó, who holds no practical power within Venezuela, called the ruling a “great victory” for his interim government’s international recognition and the anti-Maduro coalition’s fight to protect the country’s wealth and assets held abroad, which includes an ongoing battle over its Citgo refineries in the United States.

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“The first thing is that it’s protected from the clutches of the dictatorship,” Guaidó said of the gold, adding that for now it will remain in the bank’s vaults.

Also Thursday, Maduro’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza announced that Venezuela had withdrawn an expulsion order against European Union Ambassador Brilhante Pedrosa.

Maduro on Monday had ordered her delegation out hours after the EU sanctioned several Maduro officials. However, Arreaza and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell released a joint statement, saying they had repaired relations in a phone call.

Venezuela, a nation in economic and political crisis, sits atop the world’s largest crude reserves, but that source of cash has dried up under years of mismanagement and more recently stiff U.S. sanctions aimed at forcing Maduro out.

Venezuela holds a total of about $1.8 billion worth of gold at the Bank of England, and Maduro was asking for $1 billion of it. The Bank of England holds the world’s second largest sum of gold bars in the world, after the New York Federal Reserve, and it boasts of never losing any to thieves in 320 years.

The dispute hinged on the British stance toward Venezuela, a country in economic and political crisis where both Maduro and Guaidó have been claiming presidential powers for more than a year.

Venezuela’s Central Bank, controlled by Maduro’, sought to release the gold, which it says now that it wants to sell for food and medical equipment that is desperately needed to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. But it had also sought the gold before the pandemic began.

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The British government “has unequivocally recognized Mr. Guaidó as President of Venezuela,” the court ruling said. “It necessarily follows that (it) no longer recognizes Mr. Maduro as President of Venezuela.”

Sarosh Zaiwalla said in a statement that the judgment “entirely ignores the reality of the situation on the ground” in Venezuela.

“Mr. Maduro’s government is in complete control of Venezuela and its administrative institutions, and only it can ensure the distribution of the humanitarian relief and medical supplies needed to combat the coronavirus pandemic,” he said. “This outcome will now delay matters further, to the detriment of the Venezuelan people whose lives are at risk.”

The U.K. recognizes the claim of Guaidó, who heads Venezuela’s congress, as do the United States and about five dozen other governments. Guaidó proclaimed himself the interim president in early 2019, months after Maduro declared victory in an election that his critics say was rigged in his favor.

Maduro maintains the support of key allies, including Russia, China, Iran, Turkey and Cuba.

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Despite its support for Guaidó, the U.K. continues to have diplomatic ties with Maduro’s government. The British have not granted diplomatic credentials to the envoy that Guaidó has named ambassador to the U.K.

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Judge denies attempt to block John Bolton's book

New York (CNN Business)A New York judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked the publication of an unflattering tell-all book written by President Trump’s niece that Simon & Schuster is set to publish in July.

The ruling, issued by Judge Hal B. Greenwald of the New York State Supreme Court, the state’s trial court, is the first legal win for Robert S. Trump, the younger brother of the President. Robert Trump has sought to block the book by Mary Trump, the President’s niece, contending it violates a confidentiality agreement related to the estate of the President’s father, Fred Trump.
“Robert Trump is very pleased with the New York Supreme Court’s injunction against Mary Trump and Simon & Schuster,” Charles Harder, Robert Trump’s attorney, said in a statement.

    Calling the actions of Mary Trump and Simon & Schuster “reprehensible,” Harder added that he looked forward to “vigorously litigating this case.”
    “Short of corrective action to immediately cease their egregious conduct, we will pursue this case to the very end,” Harder said.

    In addition to his work for Robert Trump, Harder has a history of filing lawsuits against news organizations on behalf of President Trump. The lawsuits have been dismissed by legal experts as public relations stunts with little chance of success in court.
    Ted Boutrous, a renowned First Amendment attorney who represents Mary Trump, and who has also represented CNN on matters in the past, said the order “flatly violates the First Amendment.”
    “We will immediately appeal,” Boutrous said. “This book, which addresses matters of great public concern and importance about a sitting president in election year, should not be suppressed even for one day.”
    Adam Rothberg, a spokesperson for Simon & Schuster, said in a statement that the company was “disappointed” in the court’s decision.
    “We plan to immediately appeal this decision to the Appellate Division, and look forward to prevailing in this case based on well-established precedents regarding prior restraint,” Rothberg said.
    Simon & Schuster describes Mary Trump’s book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” as a “revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him.”
    The book, the publisher says, will shine “a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric.”
    The Tuesday ruling comes after a judge for the Queens County Surrogate Court in New York last week dismissed a similar attempt to block the book, citing a lack of jurisdiction.
    After that case was dismissed, Robert Trump took his case before the New York State Supreme Court.
    Robert Trump has argued that as part of litigation related to Fred Trump’s will, a settlement was reached that included a confidentiality provision. That provision, Robert Trump has argued, was agreed upon by all parties, including Mary Trump.

      The Trump administration recently took legal action in an attempt to block the tell-all book of John Bolton, the former national security advisor.
      But a federal judge denied the Department of Justice’s motion, writing in his decision that Bolton’s book had already been widely distributed and that the court would “not order a nationwide seizure and destruction of a political memoir.”
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