Skip To Content
BuzzFeed News Home Reporting To You

Incoming: How The Hell'd We Wind Up Like This

The Justice Department's "things of value," Barr challenges Facebook's encryption, your weekend longreads

Posted on October 4, 2019, at 6:41 a.m. ET

The Justice Department has in the past argued sex, information, and worthless stocks were “things of value,” but it said Trump’s request for dirt wasn’t

Last week, a senior Justice Department official said that they'd decided not to open a criminal investigation into President Donald Trump’s July call with the Ukrainian president because they couldn’t “quantify” Trump’s request for dirt on former vice president Joe Biden as a “thing of value.”

How does this compare to previous precedents? Well, federal prosecutors have brought cases in the past under theories that sex, government information, witness testimony, worthless stock, and more are, legally speaking, “of value.”

States and federal courts have even found that “amusement,” a promise to reinstate an employee, and an agreement not to run in an election all count as well.

It’s against the law for a candidate to ask for or accept “money or other thing of value” from a foreign national. But that law and others that also refer generally to things “of value” don’t provide a clear definition of what the term means.

Read Zoe Tillman’s analysis of the “things of value.”

Alex Wong / Getty Images

The Bahamas is using Hurricane Dorian to push out Haitian immigrants, critics say

A month after the Category-5 storm pummeled the islands, the Bahamian government is barring thousands of Haitians displaced by Hurricane Dorian from returning to their communities, threatening undocumented immigrants in shelters with deportation, and is making it nearly impossible to keep a job if a person can't prove they have a work permit or “satisfactory living conditions.”

Advocacy and aid groups say the new rules blatantly target a vulnerable population that has been systematically mistreated and maligned for years.

SNAPSHOTS

These hardcore activists are prepared to shut down Europe in the name of preventing climate change. Earlier this year, Extinction Rebellion brought London to a standstill. The environmental group now says it has a plan to bring four European capitals to a halt next week, to demand action on climate change.

23 soldiers were injured when strong winds blew them into trees during a parachute training exercise. At the beginning of a 10-day military training exercise, 87 paratroopers got stuck in the trees due to a strong gust of wind. Officials said 23 jumpers sustained injuries from the accident, but none were life-threatening.

Robert De Niro’s former employee sued him for sexual harassment and discrimination after he sued her for embezzelment. Graham Chase Robinson, the actor's former assistant, said he subjected her to unwanted physical contact, sexually charged comments, and discriminated against her because of her gender during her 11 years of employment.

Nickelback’s record label got Donald Trump’s “Photograph” Twitter video taken down due to copyright. I can’t believe that’s a real sentence I just wrote. How the hell’d we wind up like this?

Three technology stories you should know about

First: Attorney General William Barr will ask Mark Zuckerberg to delay plans for implementing end-to-end encryption across its messaging services. Barr’s letter to Facebook raises concerns that more encryption will prevent law enforcement agencies from finding illegal activity conducted through the platform. In a short statement, Facebook said it strongly opposes government attempts to build backdoors.

Second: A BuzzFeed News investigation uncovered an extensive network of websites and accounts using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social platforms to sow propaganda targeting Iran and Qatar. The accounts, which have now been taken down, appear to have been professionally run by PR firms based in the Middle East and Africa.

Third: Instagram won’t say whether it will protect the identity of an anonymous account sharing #MeToo allegations in India’s art world. Emails seen by BuzzFeed News show that Instagram offered support and reassurances to anonymous accounts naming sexual harassers — and then walked back when the courts got involved.

Make some tea, grab a comfy sweater, sit down with these reads

Rudy Giuliani Is Finally America’s Mayor. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, Giuliani rose to an American moment. Now, two decades later, he is the face of another one. Read Matt Berman on the inexhaustible center of attention: “The US in 2019...is demanding your attention, even though you’re not really sure what it’s demanding. It is paranoid, anxious, and somehow winking…Giuliani isn’t just representing the nation’s psyche. Like a most capable mayor, he is guiding it.”

Chanel Miller On What Happened After Her Victim Statement Went Viral. You may not know Miller’s name, but you’ve almost certainly read her work. She was anonymous victim in the Stanford swimmer case, and she wrote a searing victim impact statement that went viral for being so powerful. We’ve published an exclusive excerpt from her book, Know My Name. A sample: “It was common to have people forward me the statement saying, ‘You have to read this.’ I wanted to respond, ‘I wrote it.’”

Am I Writing About My Life Or Selling Myself Out? Writing about yourself online is complicated. There may be an audience for it — an audience who may even come to know you as a ~brand~ — but you may be left unsure what, exactly, you’re getting out of it. Shannon Keating delved into this: “If the personal essay boom is over, then we are now living in the age of the influencer.”

ADVERTISEMENT