Apr 19, 2019

Man arrested, threatens to kill Cory Booker, Eric Swalwell and Rashida Tlaib

Photo: Joe Raedle

Federal authorities arrested a South Florida man on Friday after he allegedly made multiple death threats to several Democratic lawmakers.

Details: According to a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida, John Kless left threatening voice messages on the office lines of Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). Police have indicated that Kless has also been investigated for “profane/harassing calls” to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in which he spoke of “Congress taking away his guns, abortion, illegal immigration and Muslims in Congress."

Driving the news:

  • According to the affidavit, on Tuesday, Kless called Swalwell — a 2020 presidential candidate — cautioning him that taking Americans' guns would put him on his "death bed." Swalwell has made gun violence a focal point of his platform, calling for universal background checks and forced buy-backs of assault weapons.
  • Transcripts of the message Kless allegedly left for Booker, include racial slurs, and support for the white supremacist who drove his car into a crowd of protestors in Charlottesville in 2017.
  • In his message to Tlaib, police say Kless referred to the Muslim congresswoman from Michigan as a member of the Taliban.
  • Kless also reportedly referenced Rep. Ilhan Omar's (D-Minn.) comments about September 11.

Kless made his first appearance in court on Friday and has been released on bond, per the U.S. Attorneys Office.

Go deeper: Death threats target freshmen Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar

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Live updates: Coronavirus spreads to Latin America

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Brazil confirmed the first novel coronavirus case in Latin America Wednesday — a 61-year-old that tested positive after returning from a visit to northern Italy, the epicenter of Europe's outbreak.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 81,000 others. By Wednesday morning, South Korea had the most cases outside China, with 1,261 infections. Europe's biggest outbreak is in Italy, where 374 cases have been confirmed.

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GOP congressman accuses California pension official of working for China

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The latest season of Red Scare has come to Sacramento.

Driving the news: Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) has repeatedly accused Ben Meng, chief investment officer of the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) of tacitly working on behalf of the Chinese government. Banks also says that, were it up to him, Meng would be fired — and has questioned the patriotism of California Gov. Gavin Newsom for not at least investigating Meng.

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South Carolina "kingmaker" Jim Clyburn endorses Joe Biden

Joe Biden with Rep. Jim Clyburn at the World Famous Jim Clyburn Fish Fry in Columbia, South Carolina in June 2019. Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the highest-ranking black member of Congress, endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden Wednesday, days before South Carolina's primary.

Why it matters: Clyburn wields tremendous political influence in South Carolina, where a weak showing by Biden could be the death blow to his presidential campaign. Biden has long viewed the state as his firewall due to his strong support among black voters, who make up about 60% of South Carolina's Democratic electorate.