Pence calls on GOP to ‘step up to the plate’ on health care bill

(CNN)Vice President Mike Pence is increasing the pressure for Republicans to pass health care legislation, calling on senators to “step up to the plate” and keep their seven-year promise.

The elevated rhetoric comes as the Republican health care legislation hangs by a tenuous thread.
The Senate is expected to vote on a plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act next week, but what exactly that will be has yet to be announced. The Senate Republican leadership is urging members to pass a procedural vote to begin debate, but with Arizona Sen. John McCain out as he deals with newly diagnosed brain cancer, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only lose one member of his conference and still advance a bill.
    As of now, there’s no indication the votes are there.
    “We’re going to vote on whether to proceed to a bill,” Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said Thursday. “And I know people are fixated on what bill are we going to vote to proceed on — but the problem with that is that this is a unique process where every senator can offer amendments to change the bill. So it really is irrelevant what technical vehicle we proceed to. This is just strictly, are we going to start the debate, so people can offer amendments and so we can at some point finish.”
    President Donald Trump echoed Pence in a tweet Saturday morning.
    “The Republican Senators must step up to the plate and, after 7 years, vote to Repeal and Replace,” Trump wrote. “Next, Tax Reform and Infrastructure. WIN!”
    “ObamaCare is dead and the Democrats are obstructionists, no ideas or votes, only obstruction,” he continued in a follow-up tweet. “It is solely up to the 52 Republican Senators!”
    Pence reiterated the message Saturday night, saying he and the President “are going to keep fighting every single day until this Congress puts this bill on [Trump’s] desk.”
    “President Trump said it plainly the other day when he had every senator over to the White House,” Pence added. “He said he had pen in hand. He’s ready to act and the Senate health care bill, we believe, is the right bill at the right time to begin to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
    For now, the Trump administration is trying to come up with some kind of Obamacare replacement bill that will satisfy moderates. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma has been meeting in both group and individual settings with moderate hold-outs, hoping to convince them that there is a way to protect low-income people in their states once Medicaid expansion ends.
    A new Congressional Budget Office score Thursday showed that Republicans had more than $200 billion more to spend on health care and still make their budget target. That may give leaders and the White House some room to negotiate.
    But spending more money to win votes is making some Republicans uncomfortable.
    “It’s beginning to feel like there is a lack of coherency in what we’re doing, and it’s almost becoming a bidding process. Let’s throw $50 billion here, let’s throw $100 billion there. And again, it may write itself, but it’s making me uncomfortable right now,” said Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker.

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    Spicer’s exit will not lift White House siege as walls close in

    Washington (CNN)In a White House under siege, something had to change.

    Press secretary Sean Spicer’s resignation Friday let off a pressure valve, allowing an administration that is being pummeled on multiple and multiplying fronts the chance, at least for once, to dictate its own story.
    But Spicer’s departure after the most fraught six months of antagonism between the press and a West Wing that anyone can remember, is just one move in a shuffle of personnel and tactics that augurs an aggressive White House fightback that is likely to intensify the current discord in Washington.
      Trump has beefed up his legal team and escalated his rhetoric in an apparent attempt to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller, and any results of his probe into alleged collusion between his campaign team and Russian officials.
      Trump appears to be trying to revive his organization in an attempt to break out of a prolonged funk that has to a great extent wasted the first six months of his term — a time when presidents are usually at the apex of their power.
      But the reshuffle will not address what many critics see as the root of the crises that are assailing the White House the behavior and political conduct of the President himself. Scaramucci made that much clear.
      “The President himself is always going to be the President. I was in the Oval Office with him earlier today, and we were talking about letting him be himself, letting him express his full identity,” he said.
      “I think he’s got some of the best political instincts in the world, and perhaps in history.”
      Trump’s own behavior in recent days, in which he has all but declared war on both Mueller and his own Attorney General Jeff Sessions as well as revived questions over the Russia investigation in an astonishing interview with the New York Times, appeared at the least to call Scaramucci’s assessment of his political sense into question.
      His heated interventions also appear to be betraying the rising pressure inside the White House at the expanding allegations and investigations marching inexorably closer to the administration and the Trump family.
      News broken by CNN Friday that Mueller’s investigators asked the West Wing staff to preserve documents relevant to a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer last year confirmed that the White House itself is now in Mueller’s crosshairs.
      Mueller is also moving inexorably closer to the thing Trump cares about most — his family — with both his son-in-law Jared Kushner and Donald Jr. under scrutiny over their past history of meetings with Russian intermediaries.
      Trump’s warning in the Times interview that it would be a “violation” if Mueller probed his personal finances, could indicate that he believes the special counsel is targeting tax returns he has refused to release.
      Trump’s position is that his and his family’s financial dealings are off limits, even though Mueller might view them as a possible tool to see whether his business history poses any conflicts of interests to the President’s current role.
      “The President’s point is that he doesn’t want the special counsel to move beyond the scope and outside of its mission,” Sanders told reporters after Scaramucci had vacated the podium. “And the President’s been very clear, as have his accountants and team, that he has no financial dealings with Russia.”
      The Russia pressure is not going to relent next week either.
      Key members of the Trump campaign team, including Donald Jr., Kushner and former campaign chair Paul Manafort have been asked to give testimony on Capitol Hill that would send Russia fever into overdrive.
      Meanwhile, the White House is still struggling for the kind of “wins” that Trump promised. Despite introducing new measures to curtail illegal immigration, there are few other obvious successes for the new communications team to trumpet. While jobs creation has remained steady and strong, the economy has not yet exploded into growth. And though the stock market has been on a bull run, many presidents find that tying their performance to the markets is a perilous practice.
      Scaramucci’s first job, in his first appearance at the podium in the White House Briefing Room on Friday, was to insist that the walls are not closing in around Trump. And he appeared to be performing as much for the President as the journalists in front of him and the audience watching at home.
      “I’ve seen this guy throw a dead spiral through a tire, I’ve seen him at Madison Square Garden with a topcoat on, standing in the key and hitting foul shots and swishing them — he sinks three-foot putts,” Scaramucci said.
      “I don’t see this as a guy who’s ever under siege. This is a very, very competitive person. Obviously there’s a lot of incoming that comes into the White House. But the President’s a winner and what we’re going to do is we’re going to do a lot of winning.”
      Scaramucci’s attitude to his new job appears, for public consumption at least to be that Trump is actually doing a great job as president, but that his successes have simply not been properly communicated to the nation.
      “When you look at the individual state by state polls, you can see the guy’s doing phenomenally well,” Scaramucci said. “It’s indicating to me that the president is really well loved. There seems to be a disconnect in terms of some of the things that are going on and we want to connect that.”
      Scaramucci’s smooth, urbane performance was in contrast to the antagonistic and defensive performances from the podium that characterized much of Spicer’s tumultuous tenure as White House spokesman.
      But it was a contrast in style more than it was a contrast in substance.
      He punted on the question of Trump’s unproven assertion that millions of illegal votes cost him victory in the popular vote against Hillary Clinton in last year’s election. But he was careful not to contradict the President in one of his most infamous falsehoods, suggesting that questions of credibility and truthfulness will continue to be an issue once he is running the show.
      “If the president says it, … let me do more research on it, My guess is that there’s probably some level of truth to that,” Scaramucci said.

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      Tennessee county inmates get reduced jail time for getting a vasectomy

      (CNN)Yes, you read that right. Inmates in White County, Tennessee, can shave 30 days off their jail sentence if they undergo an elective birth control procedure.

      Both male and female inmates can volunteer for the new program. Women receive a Nexplanon implant in their arm, which provides up to three years of continuous birth control. Men undergo a vasectomy. The procedures are free and conducted by the Tennessee Department of Health.
      General Sessions Judge Sam Benningfield signed a standing order on May 15 enforcing the program.
        “I hope to encourage them to take personal responsibility and give them a chance, when they do get out, not to be burdened with children,” Benningfield told CNN affiliate WTVF. “This gives them a chance to get on their feet and make something of themselves.”
        Since the program started, 32 women and 38 men have volunteered. The men are currently waiting to have the vasectomies performed.
        “I understand it won’t be entirely successful, but if you reach two or three people, maybe that’s two or three kids not being born under the influence of drugs. I see it as a win-win,” Benningfield said.

        Controversy over new program

        Not everyone is enthusiastic about the idea. District Attorney Bryant Dunaway and the ACLU are speaking against the ethics and legality of it.
        “Those decisions are personal in nature and I think that’s just something the court system should not encourage or mandate,” Dunaway told WTVF.
        Dunaway has instructed his staff not to make any arrangements involving the birth control program.
        “Offering a so-called ‘choice’ between jail time and coerced contraception or sterilization is unconstitutional,” said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN executive director, in a statement.
        “Judges play an important role in our community — overseeing individuals’ childbearing capacity should not be part of that role.”

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        To fix health care, look to state governors

        (CNN)The recent collapse of Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare can be blamed on disagreements about policy more than anything else.

        For seven years, Republicans at all levels of government were able to articulate the simple message that President Barack Obama’s signature health care law had to go, and a set of better, market-based policies needed to replace it.
        But once the GOP captured control of the White House and both houses of Congress, it became clear that the devil really was in the details. Within their own ranks, Republicans remain divided on fundamental questions of policy — whether to change how Medicaid is financed, whether there should to be tax credits to help low-income Americans afford private insurance, and how far to go in deregulating the marketplace.
          So, what’s next? Republicans may soon vote on a bill that will mirror the 2015 legislation they passed (and Obama vetoed) repealing large parts of Obamacare, without an accompanying package of replacement reforms. This approach, dubbed “repeal and delay” because it offsets the repeal of Obamacare by two years, raises significant concerns. It would introduce dramatic uncertainty into the health care system, place the most vulnerable among us at risk of losing the coverage they need, and punt on the important work of replacing Obamacare with reforms that could actually lower costs and expand choices for consumers.
          The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated the impact of “repeal-and-delay” and found that, while it would decrease budget deficits significantly, it would also leave 32 million more Americans uninsured in 10 years, as compared to Obamacare. Moreover, a recent survey from the Associated Press and the University of Chicago showed that, by a 2-to-1 margin, those polled believed that Obamacare should not be repealed until a replacement was available.
          This suggests that Republicans would be the ones who would “own” the political consequences for rising premiums, diminishing choices, and lost coverage during the two years before Obamacare is actually repealed — a period of time that includes a crucial midterm election.
          Plus, the notion that a two-year delay would be an action-forcing mechanism is sheer folly. It is an approach that has never been particularly effective at encouraging policymaking amongst members of Congress on even the most urgent of priorities (see the much-maligned budget sequester for evidence of this).
          But there is another route.
          Despite the many policy differences between Republicans that torpedoed the recent repeal-and-replace effort, there was common ground between Senators (and many governors, as well as members of the House) on the value of federalism and state-led reforms in our health care system. This concord should form the basis of any future GOP discussions about the fate of Obamacare, or what should go in its place. It might even jumpstart bipartisan discussions about the future of health reform, as some Democrats have suggested that state-focused solutions are a reasonable step forward.
          A number of existing legislative proposals speak to this emerging consensus.
          The stalled GOP Senate bill included a notable provision that dramatically expanded upon a state innovation provision contained in Section 1332 of Obamacare. This section of current law allows states to waive many of the law’s mandates and requirements so long as they establish health solutions that don’t increase the federal deficit, and furnish coverage that is at least as affordable, comprehensive and widespread as that provided for by Obamacare.
          The Senate bill basically eliminated these guardrails and deemed state reform plans presumptively valid, so long as they did not increase the federal deficit. Many conservatives cheered this change and believed it would create an “escape hatch” from Obamacare for many states, particularly those governed by conservative leaders.
          Earlier this year, Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Susan Collins of Maine — two skeptics of the Senate Republican legislation — introduced their own bill that, at core, would allow states the option of implementing Obamacare (with its mandates and requirements) or designing their own health systems, with some or none of Obamacare’s regulatory structure.
          Their legislation would keep many of Obamacare’s tax hikes in place, but send this money to states that, at a minimum, elected to maintain protections for those with preexisting health conditions. While most conservatives balked at the notion of retaining so many of Obamacare’s tax increases, the federalist core of the Cassidy-Collins proposal should be appealing to Republicans looking for a way forward.
          Finally, Senator Lindsey Graham has a proposal that mirrors many elements of the Cassidy-Collins proposal (in fact, media reports indicate that he worked with Cassidy on his plan) that would retain almost all of Obamacare’s tax hikes, as well as its protections for patients with preexisting conditions, in return for block grants to states. These grants would give states significant flexibility in each pursuing the solutions that suit their citizens best.
          Republicans have long advocated for solutions that empower governors and state elected officials to address major public policy challenges. Reforms such as the landmark 1996 welfare reform legislation, which granted states significant latitude to design safety net programs that suited their populations best, illustrate the value that such an approach can have.

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          Health care is an area where federalism not only has the potential to lead to more innovative solutions, but to forge consensus between conservatives — and maybe even across the partisan divide.

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          Republicans Worry Theyll Suffer Politically After Health Care Setback

          WASHINGTON Republicans failed again this week to find the votes to pass an Obamacare repeal bill, and now theyre facing an uncomfortable prospect: going home for a monthlong recess in August without a single major legislative accomplishment under their belts.

          After three GOP senators refused to support the latest bill aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act just enough senators to tank the entire effort Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday that hes throwing in the towel and abandoning the effort, for now.

          Its a stunning failure by Republicans who have been promising for the last seven years to repeal the health care law. It also means GOP lawmakers could face a conservative backlash that threatens their partys prospects in the 2018 midterm elections.

          McConnell brushed off a question about how hell explain to voters why Republicans wasted the last seven months on a failed health care push and have nothing else to show for that period of time.

          Well, we have a new Supreme Court justice, he said, boasting that Republicans also repealed some Obama-era regulations this year. He said theres still a year and a half left in this Congress, which gives Republicans time to work on other priority issues.

          Well be moving onto tax reform, infrastructure, theres much work left to be done for the American people, McConnell offered.

          But that doesnt change the fact that Republicans have failed to deliver on their No. 1 campaign issue. GOP leaders talked big in January about repealing Obamacare immediately. Their timeline slid, however, as Republicans in the House and Senate disagreed on how rapidly to move and how much to undo a law that many Americans including influential Republican governors whose states expanded Medicaid have come to rely on.

          The House passed a Obamacare repeal bill in May that, if enacted into law, would leave 23 million more people uninsured, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate. Even some Republicans who voted for the legislation thought it stunk, but had hopes that it could be a starting point for the Senate to take up and build on.

          Sincethats not happening, Republicans who voted for that bill are worried they may have walked that plank for nothing and could become the targets of Democratic attacks next year.

          From the right or the left, whether youre a moderate or a strong conservative, there would be concerns on that front, because its a good 30- or 60-second ad if theres not something to point to, Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) said Tuesday.

          Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who chairs the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said the collapse of the Senate health care bill makes the next few weeks critical.

          If we dont make Obamacare repeal done, it makes it a lot more difficult to go home and say, Look what weve accomplished, he said though he predicted that Republicans would eventually be successful.

          Other Republicans who voted for the House health care bill, however, dismissed the notion that they ought to be concerned about their political futures.

          I dont think of the bill in those terms whatsoever, said Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), who authored the amendment that ultimately helped pass the House bill. To look at a health care bill that affects millions of lives, to look at it through the lens of does it hurt or help me, that to me is really inappropriate and cynical.

          Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a vulnerable California Republican whose district Democrat Hillary Clinton won in last years presidential election, similarly dismissed the question.

          I dont care, he said. I mean, [Obamacare] is already hurting my state.

          Beyond Capitol Hill, some conservative pundits fumed as Obamacare repeal appeared to be unraveling. Radio show host Hugh Hewitt, for one, ranted on Twitter about the handful of Republicans who stood in the way of getting it done.

          Hewitt said everyone knows the list to blame for failing to repeal the law, and named senators who at some stage opposed the bill on the table: Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). He even called for removing one of them from office, even if that means a Democrat ultimately wins the Senate seat in 2018.

          But to be clear, it began w/ @DeanHeller. If #RepealPlus2Years fails he has to be replaced, even if by a D, Hewitt tweeted.

          Some senators are just as peeved as Hewitt, including one senator Hewitt complained about. Paul, whos been calling for completely doing away with Obamacare, with or without a replacement, grumbled about his moderate colleagues who stood in the way of fully repealing the law.

          Theyre going to have to go home and explain why they used to be for it and now theyre no longer for it. Thats a big change in peoples opinion, he said.

          Theres some variation of repeal, certainly, that must pass, Pauladded, or these people really dont believe anything they said.

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          Lindsey Graham: John McCain is like his old self again after surgery

          (CNN)Sen. Lindsey Graham said his closest friend in the Senate, Sen. John McCain, is like his old self again after surgery Friday to remove a blood clot above his left eye.

          Graham said he spoke with McCain by phone on Sunday after the surgery in Arizona. He said McCain was doing much better and already itching to get back to Washington, though his doctors have told him he can’t fly for a week while he recovers.
          “He sounded like a different person. He clearly was a hurting guy,” Graham said. “I think they relieved the pressure and he sounded like the old John McCain, dying to get back and talking about driving across the country. I said no.”
            Graham told CNN’s Manu Raju that McCain had not been feeling well in the run-up to the surgery and was “getting forgetful.”
            “He’d been traveling a lot, we wrote it off that he was tired, but he was getting forgetful — and you know he just wore himself out traveling all around the world,” Graham said. “I’m glad they found out what I thought was the cause.”
            Later on Monday, Graham told CNN he wanted to retract that statement, saying that he did not mean to say that McCain was getting forgetful.
            The Senate has delayed consideration of the health care bill this week with McCain’s absence, as his vote at the moment would almost surely be needed for Republicans to get to 50 “yes” votes to pass the bill. McCain’s office has said he’ll be out at least a week.
            Graham, a South Carolina Republican, spoke to McCain again by phone on the way to Monday evening’s Senate vote — the first that McCain was missing following the surgery .
            Graham said it was a major surgery, but also has led a good outcome.
            “He’s got to heal up or he’ll take a step backwards,” Graham said. “I think they don’t want him to fly for a week. But I think he would walk back if they’d let him. … He’s dying to get back and for the sake of his family I hope he doesn’t have to stay there over a week.”
            In addition to the health care vote, McCain is supposed to lead debate on the annual National Defense Authorization Act on the Senate floor.
            Graham said it wasn’t clear yet if McCain would be back next week.
            “I don’t know. If it were up to him, he’d be on his way now,” he said. “But he … for once in his life, listen to his doctors. … He’s been hit pretty hard so it’s going to take a while.”

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            Bernie Sanders returns to Iowa to water the grassroots

            Des Moines, Iowa (CNN)The last time Sen. Bernie Sanders was in Iowa, there was an election to win. It was November 2016 and Sanders was barnstorming Hawkeye State college towns, trying in vain to drum up support for Hillary Clinton.

            He returned on Saturday under slightly different circumstances. President Donald Trump is finishing his sixth month in office and Senate Republicans are hammering away at an Obamacare overhaul that could cause more than 20 million people to lose insurance over the next 10 years. The campaign continues, but this time around it turns on health care — beating back the Senate GOP bill while building up support for the single-payer plan Sanders will likely introduce in August.
            Making the first of two scheduled summer visits here, the state that will play host to the first-in-the-nation caucuses of a still far-off presidential campaign season, Sanders kept up his broadsides against the Republican health care overhaul, calling it the most “anti-working class legislation in the history of the country.” He named and tried to shame both of his Senate colleagues from Iowa, pleading with the Republicans repeatedly to reject the bill.
              “I say to Sen. Grassley and Sen. Ernst, please, please take a hard look at what this disastrous legislation will do to the people of Iowa and the people of America,” the Vermont senator said. “I beg of them: please vote ‘no’ on this legislation.”
              Had he arrived on the scene in Des Moines an hour or so earlier, Sanders might have been able to deliver the message personally to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, who by some cosmic coincidence happened to be in town — just an escalator ride away — in the same building, speaking at the Family Leadership Summit, a gathering hosted by conservative evangelical activist Bob Vander Plaats.
              Or perhaps Sanders will have the chance in a few years. His appearance, downstairs, at this annual convention sponsored by the progressive Citizens for Community Improvement, has juiced up speculation over his 2020 plans. Typically loathe to discuss the prospect, he did allow in an interview with liberal radio host Mark Thompson this week that he was “not taking (the possibility of a run) off the table, I just have not made any decisions.”
              If Sanders does take a second shot, he would join the contest as an early favorite, a popular national figure equipped with the infrastructure he lacked in 2015 and 2016, both organizationally and in the form of elected officials eager to make a show of their common cause.
              Cathy Glasson, a nurse and union leader, was among the Sanders-loyal candidates making the rounds at the downtown Iowa Events Center. She is one of a hearty field of Democrats vying for the party’s gubernatorial nomination in 2018, a race made suddenly more appealing with the departure of Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who left office to become the Trump administration’s ambassador to China.
              “We want to change the dynamic in 2018,” Glasson said, arguing that victory for Iowa progressives — like her — in the midterm season could “set the frame for presidential candidates when they start coming through. It’s the very start of something fantastic that can happen right here in our own state to drive a national agenda as well.”
              But organizers here are almost reflexively averse to overindulgence in presidential chatter. It’s not a parry. Republicans’ inability to move on policy in Washington, while their GOP colleagues in state houses build heavy majorities and rack up legislative wins, hasn’t gone unnoticed. Nor has the utility — as evidenced in the fight to turn back Trump policy — of controlling high-profile statewide offices.
              “It’s extremely premature for anybody to talk about 2020, because we need to take things back in 2018,” Robert Becker, who ran Sanders operation in Iowa last year, said as attendees filled workshops on Medicare-for-all and climate action. “It’s not a campaign that ended, it’s beginning and evolving. The energy is up and down (the ballot).”
              As has become commonplace, especially as Capitol Hill holds Obamacare in the balance, Sanders’ one-two on health care — a defense of the Affordable Care Act, for which he has traveled the country rallying support, then a push to “Medicare for all,” the single-payer system that is growing in popularity on the left — drew roaring ovations in Des Moines.
              “What’s important about ‘Medicare for all’ specifically is that he’s saying you can beat something with nothing,” said Michael Lighty, the public policy director for National Nurses United. “And the ACA simply isn’t popular enough to take a purely defensive stand and expect victory.”
              No matter how the Senate vote breaks down, Sanders will be taking his proposal public in the coming weeks. While the bill is politically unfeasible in the current Congress, the plan among supporters is to brand the policy as a Democratic Party staple. For activists with their sights set high, simply making the pitch represents a chance to keep close with the grassroots.
              “He is going to areas where the Democrats have done badly since 2010,” Lighty said, rattling off the states and regions — western Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky — Sanders has visited over the last month. “So this is not just about health care.”

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              Collectors Rejoice! Topps Just Released A Limited-Edition Hall Of Famers Pack That Includes Each Legends Stance On Abortion

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              Mom of murdered toddler sentenced to probation

              (CNN)The mother of murdered 2-year-old Bella Bond will not serve any additional jail time, despite helping dispose of her daughter’s body and continuing to take government benefits after her death.

              Rachelle Bond, 41, pleaded guilty in February to charges including being an accessory after the fact to her daughter’s murder.
              Her former boyfriend Michael McCarthy was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison last month for the murder of the toddler. He will be eligible for parole in 20 years.
                “The sentencing today just completes the circle of injustice,” McCarthy’s attorney Jonathan Shapiro told CNN in a telephone interview Wednesday.
                “She got away with murder by making a deal with the prosecution to testify against Mr. McCarthy in return for her freedom. The jury needed someone to pay for this terrible crime. If it couldn’t be Rachelle, then it had to be Michael.”
                Bond was in jail awaiting her own trial when she agreed to testify against McCarthy.
                She was also sentenced to two years’ probation for theft of over $250 by false pretense and for accepting government benefits meant for Bella after her death. Her probation will include a full psychiatric evaluation and rehabilitation for substance abuse.

                Prosecutor: Agreements not entered into lightly

                “We don’t enter into these agreements lightly or capriciously or frivolously,” Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said during a news conference Wednesday.
                “We could not prosecute Michael McCarthy, and we would not have been able to hold him accountable without the truthful testimony of Rachelle Bond.”
                Bond served nearly two years in jail and will enter a rehabilitation facility for substance abuse upon her release from South Bay Corrections Center in Boston on Friday, her attorney Janice Bassil said in court.
                “She is scared about her future,” Bassil said. “She has a future without her child, and regardless of what people think of her involvement or not, she grieves the loss of that child every single day.”
                Bond’s sentencing caps a saga that began in June 2015 when a jogger found an unidentified girl’s partially decomposed body in a trash bag along Deer Island near Boston. Authorities launched an extensive effort to identify the girl, known as “Baby Doe,” and commissioned an artist to draw a composite image of her that was widely shared.

                A break in the case

                The case broke open in September 2015, after Rachelle Bond admitted to a friend that her daughter Bella was dead, and that the girl had not been taken away from the Department of Children and Families, as she had told others, including the child’s father. The friend recognized Baby Doe as Bella Bond and notified police. The tip led to the arrest of McCarthy and Bond.
                Prosecutors relied heavily on Bond’s testimony during McCarthy’s trial. They claimed that McCarthy had called Bella a “demon,” killed her and dumped a trash bag with the child’s body into the water near Deer Island.
                During closing statements, prosecutors said the devastating world of heroin addiction had subsumed the lives of McCarthy, Rachelle Bond and those around them. Bond’s attorney claimed it’s a world that her client will try to leave behind.
                “Once she completes an in-patient program, she will be in further step-down programs and eventually reach a point where I hope she will lead an independent life free of drugs and substance abuse,” Bassil said.
                In addition to attending rehab for substance abuse, Bond is also barred from residing with anyone who uses illegal substances, Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney David Deakin said in court.

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                Former USA Gymnastics doctor pleads guilty to child pornography charges

                (CNN)Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics physician accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women and girls, pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal child pornography charges.

                “Victims and the public can be assured that a day of reckoning is indeed in Dr. Nassar’s future,” Acting US Attorney Andrew Birge said in a statement. “No one, no matter his station in life, is above the law. Those who exploit children will be found out and they will be held accountable.”
                Nassar’s attorneys, Matthew Newburg and Shannon Smith, declined to comment on the guilty plea, but issued a brief statement about the state charges he also faces.
                  “Dr. Nassar’s position on the state cases has not changed and we intend to proceed to trial. The plea today was negotiated only to resolve the federal charges,” their joint statement reads.
                  In total, Nassar faces 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and 11 counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct at the state level, according to Megan Hawthorne, deputy press secretary for state Attorney General Bill Schuette.
                  Nassar has pleaded not guilty to all of the state charges, Hawthorne said. Several of the first degree charges pertain to victims under 13, and all of the state-level charges involve former family friends, gymnasts, and/or patients of Nassar, she said.
                  Nassar, the father of three school-aged children,was the team physician for the Michigan State University gymnastics and women’s crew teams, as well as an associate professor at MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. He worked at MSU from 1997 to 2016, and served as the USA Gymnastics physician through four Olympic Games.
                  Prosecutors alleged that between September and December 2004, Nassar knowingly downloaded images and videos of child pornography from the Internet and that between 2003 and 2016, he knowingly kept thousands of child pornography images and videos on his hard drive. Some of the images Nassar allegedly possessed included those of a minor under 12 years old, court documents state.
                  Furthermore, court documents allege that in September 2016, when he was aware that he was under investigation, Nassar paid $49 to have his laptop completely wiped of the pornographic images and videos and threw away several hard drives containing child pornography.
                  Nassar faces a combined maximum of 60 years of imprisonment. Nassar must also register as a sex offender and pay restitution to all of the victims of his sexual exploitation, the amounts of which will be determined at a later sentencing date, according to the terms of the plea deal.
                  In return, the US Attorney has agreed to dismiss Nassar’s original indictment and not prosecute Nassar for sexual exploitation and attempted sexual exploitation of children, relating to alleged conduct with two minors in Nassar’s swimming pool in the summer of 2015 and for “illicit sexual conduct” with two other minor children during interstate and international travel, according to the plea agreement obtained by CNN.
                  Jeanette Antolin, a member of the US National Gymnastics Team from 1995-2000 who alleges that Nassar molested her when she was competing in Canada, Switzerland, and China, denounced the plea agreement.
                  “I sacrificed my childhood to compete for the United States throughout the world,” Antolin said. “The doctor they assigned to treat me betrayed my trust. Now the federal government is giving him a free pass for his alleged assaults on me and many other child athletes. That’s not justice.”
                  These federal charges are separate from the sexual assault charges that Nassar faces at the state level.
                  The state charges, filed in two Michigan counties, stem from allegations that Nassar sexually abused young female athletes under the guise of providing medical care in his home and other settings, including the Michigan State University sports medicine clinic and Twistars Gymnastics Club.
                  In February, MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon stated that the university is “fully cooperating with every aspect of the ongoing criminal investigations and have urged all members of the MSU community to do so as well.”
                  The following month, Twistars Gymnastics Club issued a statement saying they “had zero knowledge of any of the allegations against Dr. Nassar, who was never an employee of Twistars. Our hearts go out to the women who have spoken up and, like everyone else, we are sickened to the core by their stories.”
                  In April, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) revoked Nassar’s medical license for a minimum of three years, said Jason Moon, communications director for LARA. Nassar must also pay a $100,000 fine if he chooses to file an application to reinstate his license. Reinstatement would require approval from the Michigan Board of Medicine, Moon said.

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