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Peter King Skips Town Hall for Closed Door Meeting, Activists Release Transcript

Peter King Skips Town Hall for Closed Door Meeting, Activists Release Transcript

Massapequa Park, NY – Members of new group, New York’s 2nd District Democrats (NY02 Dems) have been requesting meetings with Rep. Pete King. He has refused to schedule constituent meetings or hold a Town Hall. He has also been deleting dissenting comments from his Facebook page, and blocking constituents. On Friday, February 3, the group joined a half dozen local organizations and faith groups in organizing a rally to protest Rep. King’s support of President Trump’s Executive Order, banning refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Liuba Grechen Shirley, the founder and district organizer, of NY02 Dems called to request a meeting before the rally began, and was told that staff would try to meet with her and a few members that afternoon. When they arrived, the office was locked. Grechen Shirley called the district office, and was transferred to the Washington, D.C. office, who told her that the police insisted the NY office lock its doors. Hundreds marched, and Rep. King agreed to meet with Grechen Shirley and three other members on February 21.

Read Full Transcript of their Meeting HERE

After the meeting, King told WCBS 880 he personally met with leaders of “protest groups.” Grechen Shirley called King’s office to explain that she was in fact a “taxpaying constituent,” not a “leader of a protest group.”

During their meeting they discussed topics including: 

Town Hall

Rep. King told Grechen Shirley that his constituents know his positions, because he is regularly on television, and he refused to host a Town Hall adding that, “No one wants to have a confrontation.”

“The purpose of a Town Hall is not for constituents to hear our Representative’s positions, but for him to listen to ours. He works for us. He represents us – all of us, even those who didn’t vote him. When my boss calls me into a meeting, I cannot say no. Pete King is refusing to do his job,” said Liuba Grechen Shirley.

Grechen Shirley has been following up with his office regarding the telephone Town Hall, and has been told that, while not confirmed, the tentative date is this Wednesday, March 8. She suggested that one day’s notice is not sufficient for constituents with busy schedules.

“Rep. King’ office is clearly not taking this seriously. His constituents want to speak with him, and he cannot even give one day’s notice for a telephone Town Hall.  People have jobs, children, schedules to juggle. This is his attempt to limit the number of people able to attend,” said Grechen Shirley.

Russia Investigation

When asked if he would support Rep. Jerry Nadler’s Resolution of Inquiry to investigate President Trump’s ties to Russia, Rep. King responded, “There’s no need for it.” He added that, “The public report and the classified report does not give much evidence.”

Rep. King does not support a special prosecutor, independent commission, or even a select committee investigation.

When interviewed by Bill Ritter on Channel 7, Rep. King said there was no evidence of President Trump’s ties to Russia, except three tenuous connections. Liuba Grechen Shirley asked if he thought it was “fair to say that Trump’s former campaign manager, national security advisor and Secretary of State were tenuous connections,” and Rep. King responded that “If you go to Manhattan right is now there is any number of business people who have connections to Russia.”

Rep. King said that, “An investigation is going to prove nothing right now.”

Grechen Shirley asked, “How do you reconcile your assertion that there is no evidence, with the intelligence community’s conclusion that Putin interfered with our election to get Donald Trump elected?”

Rep. King responded, “Putin could have favored Trump.” “That’s not a reflection on Trump. Assume Putin did that.”

Trump’s Lies

Rep. King referred to President Trumps lies as “quirks” and a “stream of consciousness.” He said, “You want me to define a lie? When something is obviously wrong and you say it, is it really a lie? I don’t know.”

When discussing President Trump’s lie about an attack in Sweden, Rep. King said, “I can see how somebody can do that. I mean Hillary Clinton said she was shot at in Bosnia.” When Grechen Shirley said, “When you’re in that position you can’t do that,” he seemed to excuse it by saying, “You cant, but again I can show you any number of things that Bill Clinton said or I’ve said.”

Undermining the Media

Grechen Shirley asked Rep. King, “Donald Trump recently called the media ‘the enemy of the American people.’  Bannon said the press should ‘keep their mouths shut.’  Do you think those comments are crossing a line?”

Rep. King responded, “No they don’t cross the line.  First of all he’s not doing anything. Nobody went after the press more than Obama did as far as leaks.”

When pressed on this, King said, “That to me is just political.  Listen the stuff that the Press says about Trump I don’t get offended. All of us are big people in this business.  There’s no doubt there’s a bias.” “The First Amendment also guarantees the president freedom of speech. Nothing he’s saying is worse that what the media is saying about him.”

When asked about McCain’s statement, “This is how dictatorships start,” Rep. King said:
“I think John McCain is wrong for saying it overseas.  There is no hint of any dictatorship in this country. Trump is taking no action against the media. He’s not cutting off the media.  I supported John McCain’s presidents in 2000. We are personal friends. But I don’t think an American politician should first of all criticize the president when he’s overseas.”

Donald Trump’s Tax Returns

Regarding President Trump’s tax returns, Rep. King said, “I wouldn’t push. I don’t think that should be legislated. Okay? I think that’s really a political issue in the best sense of the word and it’s up to the American people to decide that.  I don’t believe in forcing people to disclose that.”

Syria

Rep. King said that Obama was “the one that brought Syria back into the Middle East.”“Obama invited Putin in!  Obama’s the one who — Putin was not involved in Syria, Putin had nothing to do with Syria.  Obama invited him in, because he wouldn’t enforce the red line.”

This of course is a false narrative, trying to paint Obama as weak and miscalculating. Assad, and Putin have had a longstanding relationship, and close ties between the two countries stretch back four decades. Syria is Russia’s only key surviving ally in the Middle East. Syria’s coastal city, Tartus, has hosted a Russian naval port since 1971. The port allows the only Russian access to the eastern Mediterranean. Russia has cast vetoes on several UN resolutions against Syria – even before the so-called red line was crossed.

Paris Bataclan Attack

Rep. King said that there were certainly “refugees involved” in the Paris Bataclan attack, even though we know that all but one of the terrorists were identified as European nationals.  The outlier, who died near the Stade de France, could only be identified as Ahmad Al Mohammad —a name used in a falsified Syrian passport.  Authorities belive that he too was likely a EU citizen and was using the fake passport to travel to and from Syria.  Contrary to King’s claims, none of the terrorists were refugees.

European authorities made an error in not identifying the counterfeit passport Ahmad Al Mohammad carried. The extreme 24-month vetting of Syrian refugees under President Obama included biometrics, background checks, ground investigations and interviews. Mohammad’s October 3, 2015 entry to Europe via Greece did not have similar vetting.

Steve Bannon

When asked whether he supported Bannon’s appointment to the National Security Council, Rep. King said that, “Congress cannot interfere with the president as far as who is on the president’s staff.”

Anti-Semitism

When asked about President Trump’s use of the term “America First,” considering its connection to Nazi-friendly Americans in the 1930s, Rep. King said that Trump is “the most non anti-Semitic president we’ve ever had. That I can say. Long before it was fashionable.

ICE Raids

Rep. King: “The numbers I’ve seen roughly 90-95% of those who have been deported in these recent series all got criminal records.”  “Most of them have been aimed at criminals or have expanded it somewhat, people who may not have criminal charges against them, but who local police believe to be involved in gang activity.  From all the numbers I’ve seen, it’s been overwhelmingly people with criminal records.”

Muslim Ban

Rep. King said that the Executive Order was not a Muslim Ban. When Grechen Shirley reminded him that the “order specifically says they’re going to prioritize Christian refugees over Muslim refugees,” Rep. King responded “The logic in that would be, that if you know that a person is a Christian, you can assume they’re not an Islamic terrorist.  If a Jew is coming from Nazi Germany, you can assume they were not Nazis.”

Border Wall

Rep. King supports building the wall at any cost. When asked what programs we would have to cut to fund it, he said we will “Find a way to pay for it — same way you have to pay for anything.  To me, you have to pay for national security — national security has to be paid for.”

“If we have a growing economy, we have to cut where you have to.”

Medicaid

When asked why he says that he supports Medicaid expansion, when he voted for the Ryan budget that turns Medicaid into block grants, Rep. King explained, “That would go into the category of a protest vote.”

Mike Flynn vs. Karl Rove

Rep. King called Mike Flynn a “hero and a patriot” and said that whoever leaked the tapes should be prosecuted. Twelve years ago he said that Karl Rove deserved a medal and was trying to protect American lives when he exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame. Grechen Shirley asked, “What makes one a criminal and one a whistle-blower?”

Rep. King said, “Karl had nothing to do with Valerie Plame.” He added, “Karl Rove, I give him credit for standing up, but he did not, he didn’t leak it.”

Sexual Assault

When discussing President Trump boasting about sexual assault, Rep. King said, “Listen Bill Clinton is a friend of mine. It’s one thing to talk about, it’s another thing to do it.” Grechen Shirley responded that, “One thing is sex between two adults and the other is boasting about sexual assault!” Rep. King added, “Well were they consenting? It’s a whole different story between having a young girl in the White House. I don’t want to get into it…”

Rand Paul

Rep. King: “I was attacked by Rand Paul, the other day. He called me a big government Republican. Actually he and I hate each other anyway.”

 

Hundreds Will Protest Peter King Friday Over Penning of Controversial Muslim Ban

Hundreds Will Protest Peter King Friday Over Penning of Controversial Muslim Ban

Massapequa Park, NY – Hundreds of Long Island residents and local organizations will come together on Friday, February 3, 2017 for a demonstration outside the office of Congressman Peter King showing unity against President Donald Trump’s Executive Order banning refugees indefinitely from Syria and temporarily from 6 other Muslim majority countries.

Protestors will march in front of Peter King’s district office to protest his reported role in co-authoring the President’s Executive Order. Groups organizing the rally intend to underscore that Donald Trump’s order is unconstitutional, un-American, and illegal while aiming to unite individuals and organizations against Islamaphobia, xenophobia, and racism.

Protestors will march in solidarity with members of the Muslim community unfairly targeted because of their religious beliefs, and in support of refugees fleeing war-torn countries leaving everything they had with little or nothing on their backs risking their lives in search of a better future.

“Families are being separated and there are real consequences to this ban. I know of people who cannot visit their loved ones who are sick and elderly and this hurts us very badly,” said Habeeb Ahmed of Islamic Center of Long Island. “This country was made great by immigrants so let’s continue that.”

“We will march to uphold American values. America is a nation built by immigrants,” said Liuba Grechen Shirley of NY’s 2nd District Democrats in a press release. “We are all immigrants. Long Islanders call on President Trump to reverse his hateful, anti-refugee and anti-immigrant executive order, and District 2 constituents call on Rep. Peter King to denounce this executive order.”

“President Trump showed his true colors and issued radical, sweeping Executive Order that upend our immigration system and strike at the heart of our American values. These orders create a massive federal and state law enforcement deportation force to track down and deport immigrants and will rip apart American families, destabilize our communities and make us less safe” stated Lisa Tyson Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition.

WHO: New York’s 2nd District Democrats (NY02Dems), ATLI, The Long Island Progressive Coalition (LIPC), The Islamic Center of Long Island, Long Island Activists

WHEN: Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, 4-6 p.m.

WHERE: Congressman Peter King’s Office, 1003 Park Boulevard, Massapequa Park, NY 11762 {map link}

PUBLIC TRANSIT: Take the Long Island Rail Road from Penn Station, Jamaica, or points east on the Montauk/Babylon line to the Massapequa Park station.

45 Organizations Form Growing Coalition Against Hate, Urge Trump to Eject Extremists from Inner Circle 

45 Organizations Form Growing Coalition Against Hate, Urge Trump to Eject Extremists from Inner Circle 

Last week the Coalition Against Hate released the discriminatory records of individuals who have been raised as potential appointees or senior staff in a Trump administration with deep ties to racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. The Coalition urges Donald Trump to eject known extremists from his inner circle, such Senator Jeff Sessions, Representative Mike Pompeo, retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, Laura Ingraham and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

On Eve of GOP Debate Carolinians Gather for Vigil at Mosque to Counter Xenophobic Rhetoric

On Eve of GOP Debate Carolinians Gather for Vigil at Mosque to Counter Xenophobic Rhetoric

Charleston, SC — Local Carolinians will hold a candlelight prayer vigil at the Central Mosque of Charleston {1082 King St, Charleston, SC} to pray for the GOP Presidential hopefuls on the eve of the debate. The group, comprised of members of South Carolina’s queer, muslim, christian, women’s rights, and latino communities, will gather at 5:45pm to pray for them to “know, experience and share God’s love rather than human hate, greed and hostility.”

“We come from different faith traditions, but we all recognize love and compassion as key tenants of our respective faiths,” said Pastor Thomas Dixon. “Today, we pray for the candidate’s running for President, that God will protect them and show them the way to encourage love, compassion and community and to reject hate, prejudice, violence and greed.”

WHO: Activists with Lowcountry Peace and members of South Carolina’s Queer, Muslim, Christian, Women’s Rights, and Latino Communities

WHAT: A Candlelight Vigil and Prayer Service

WHEN: Today (Wednesday) 5:45pm-6:15pm

WHERE: Central Mosque of Charleston, 1082 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

Yassin Aref’s Journey for Justice: New Evidence Triggers Emergency § 2255 Motion to Rehear FBI Entrapment Case

Yassin Aref’s Journey for Justice: New Evidence Triggers Emergency § 2255 Motion to Rehear FBI Entrapment Case

[Albany / Binghamton, NY]  Yassin Aref, the Albany imam convicted of material support for terrorism along with pizzeria owner Mohammed Hossain in a 2006 FBI sting operation, will file a § 2255 petition in mid-July requesting, among other remedies, for his conviction to be overturned, or alternatively, a new trial be granted. Aref discovered significant new evidence about his case as the result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request he made in 2011. This evidence, which misidentified Aref at the inception of the FBI’s investigation, was apparently shown to the trial judge and the appellate court, but not to either the defense attorneys or to the jury at his trial.

The § 2255 motion, can be filed directly by the prisoner if new evidence is found that may materially affect his conviction. Over several years of incarceration, Aref has exhausted his formal appeals (to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City and to the U.S. Supreme Court) and also filed an earlier § 2255 motion, which was unsuccessful, though it did not include presentation of this new evidence.

NEW EVIDENCE FOR APPEAL

This newly uncovered evidence shows that as early as December 2002, the FBI mistakenly thought Aref was an Al Qaeda agent named Mohammed Yasin, and that “Yassin Muhiddin Aref” was merely one pseudonym for Mohammed Yasin. In several documents, the FBI gives alternate spellings of Aref’s name, which are always denoted by the designating acronym “IT-UBL” (International Terrorism-Usama bin Laden) and the term “Al Qaeda.” This misidentification predated the beginning of the FBI sting by 1½ years, which commenced in August 2003. Aref’s § 2255 motion states that it is probable that “the misidentification of Aref caused the case to become a priority in Washington, D.C. …Petitioner Aref was thus originally targeted based on the FBI erroneously linking him to Al Qaeda.” It is unclear from the FOIA file, which is heavily redacted, why or how this misidentification occurred, although it recurs in different FBI documents dated from 2002 to 2004, up to and including the time of the sting.

Aref’s affidavit to accompany the § 2255 states:

“There is an Al-Qaeda agent named Mohammed Yassin who is reported to have been missing two middle fingers on one hand, who was assassinated in Gaza in 2011. I am still alive and have all my fingers so I cannot be Mohammed Yassin. The government convicted the wrong person and I am a victim of mistaken identity. I have never gone by the name Mohammed Yassin. I know nothing about anyone named Mohammed Yassin. I have never been involved with Al Qaeda. I am completely innocent of the charges against me, and was simply tricked by the FBI into gratuitously witnessing a loan that I believe was entirely legal.”

Aref is serving his 15-year sentence at the low-security federal prison in Loretto, PA.  Aref’s beginning 1/2 of his sentence, served at the Communications Management Unit at Terre Haute, IN, was the focus of a 2011 New York Magazine feature titled ‘Little Gitmo’.  His anticipated release date is in October, 2018.  Federal authorities have indicated they may request immediate deportation upon his release.

Yassin Aref’s 2255 motion requests that the court:

» Unredact those portions of the FOIA file that were sent to Aref

» Provide the defense with a description of the classified material given to the trial and appeal courts, especially material that misidentified Aref as Mohammed Yasin

» Provide the defense with exculpatory material not previously provided at trial

» Grant Yassin Aref a new trial

» Dismiss the charges against Aref on grounds of prosecutorial misconduct

The entire 2255 motion will be posted online at http://www.projectsalam.org once it is filed with the court in mid-July.

TWO SUPPORTING EVENTS & ONLINE PETITION

Friday, July 12 at 6 pm: Because of the importance of this appeal, the Muslim Solidarity Committee, Project SALAM, and the Aref-Hossain / Albany chapter of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF) will hold a rally and launch a special event on Friday, July 12 at 6 p.m. at the Masjid As-Salam, 278 Central Avenue in Albany. At the rally, which will also commemorate the ninth anniversary of Aref and Hossain’s arrests in 2004, speakers will discuss the new evidence, its impact on the case, and answer related questions. Speakers will include Kathy Manley, Esq., Aref’s appeal attorney; Honorable Dominick Calsolaro, outgoing Albany Common Council member who sponsored the Albany Resolution in 2010 that calls for the Justice Department to reopen all post-9/11 terrorism cases to determine whether exculpatory information was withheld from the defense; Dr. Shamshad Ahmad, president of the Masjid As-Salam, where Aref was imam; and Lynne Jackson, president of Project SALAM and a Muslim Solidarity Committee member.

yassin aref petition

Friday, July 12 at 7:30 pm: Jackson, accompanied by other supporters, will launch the “Journey for Justice,” a walk of 133 miles from Albany to Binghamton. To emphasize the importance of Aref’s appeal, Jackson is circulating an online petition that asks the judge who would hear the appeal, Honorable Thomas McAvoy (who was also the Aref-Hossain case trial judge), to give it serious consideration. Jackson intends to hand-deliver the petition signatures to McAvoy’s home court in Binghamton. Immediately following the rally, the Journey for Justice will depart from the Masjid As-Salam for the Pine Hills Library on Western Avenue (Route 20). The next day, Saturday, July 13, at about 10 a.m., Jackson and supporters will reassemble outside the library and continue the 10-day trek to Binghamton, via Route 20 and then Route 7, at the rate of approximately 13 miles per day. They expect to arrive in Binghamton on Tuesday, July 23 at 11 a.m. at the federal courthouse on 15 Henry Street, where a press conference is planned to mark their arrival.

For more information visit Project SALAM’s “Journey for Justice” blog HERE. To sign the petition in support of Aref’s 2255 motion visit his Change.org page HERE. To request an interview with Lynn Jackson or to place media inquiries regarding Yassin Aref’s 2255 please contact Jeanne Finley at (518) 438-8728 or via email at finlandia@nycap.rr.com. You can also contact Lynn Jackson directly at (518) 366-7324 or lynnejackson@mac.com.