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Judge Mulls Roger Stone’s Bid For A New Trial Amid Attacks On Judge From Trump : NPR

Roger Stone, center, departs federal court in Washington on Thursday.

Alex Brandon/AP


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Alex Brandon/AP

Roger Stone, center, departs federal court in Washington on Thursday.

Alex Brandon/AP

A federal judge in Washington on Tuesday heard arguments from Roger Stone’s lawyers, who are pushing for a new trial arguing that the jury foreperson was politically biased.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson last week sentenced Stone to more than three years in prison after a jury convicted him for obstructing a House investigation and lying to Congress.

Jackson did not indicate when she planned on ruling on the request for a new trial for Stone, a self-styled “dirty trickster” and longtime adviser to Trump.

At the opening of the more than four-hour hearing, Jackson raised concerns about the personal safety of the trial jurors, pointing to President Trump’s tweets and commentators including Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, who have attacked the credibility of the forewoman of the jury.

Jackson ordered that court spectators and members of the media clear out the courtroom and listen to the proceeding from an audio feed. She also asked lawyers not to refer to any jurors by name.

“I think it’s without question that this is a highly publicized case,” Jackson said. “And in a highly polarized political climate in which the president of the United States himself has shown a spotlight on the jury,” she said. “The risk of harassment and intimidation of any jurors who may testify in a hearing later today is extremely high.”

Those angry about Stone’s conviction, the judge noted, “may choose to take it out” on the jurors personally.

As the proceeding was unfolding, Trump again aimed criticism at the forewoman in the Stone trial, tweeting that the individual was “so tainted” for allegedly having “hatred” of Trump and Stone. Trump also said Jackson is “totally biased.”

The motion seeking a new trial was filed under seal since it concerned the identity of a juror in the case, but Jackson said it involved questions about a questionnaire prospective jurors had to take during the jury selection process.

The jury forewoman answered questions under oath in the Tuesday hearing about her activity on social media, including a postings about Stone’s arrest in which she wrote: “brought to you by the lock her up peanut gallery.”

The forewoman was also asked about a first-bump emoji the morning before the jury reached a unanimous guilty verdict. The forewoman said it was a message out of solidarity.

The forewoman said that at the time she answered the jury questionnaire she could not recall posting anything about investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election; she added her answers were based on what she remembered.

A woman who identified herself on social media as the forewoman in the Stone case once unsuccessfully ran as a Democrat for Congress. The juror told the judge during jury selection that her former bid for office would not inhibit her ability to serve on the panel as a fair and impartial juror.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Jackson called two unidentified jurors, who described how the forewoman was selected. Both said the jury examined each count Stone was charged with based on the evidence. Neither of them said there was any pressure to reach any particular conclusion based on personal bias.

In November, a jury convicted Stone for lying about his involvement in being a point person in the Trump campaign’s efforts to obtain Russian-hacked Democratic emails.

During the trial, prosecutors offered emails, text messages and public statements showing that Stone had lied to House investigators about his central role in communicating with the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks about its possession of stolen emails.

Stone was the sixth former Trump associate to be convicted in connection with the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Before handing down a sentence of three years and four months for Stone, Jackson gave lengthy remarks about the threat posed to an independent judiciary as attacks on judges, juries and the system itself become more widespread. Such smear tactics against the courts system, she said, should be met with “dismay and disgust.”

“The truth still exists. The truth still matters,” she said. “Roger Stone’s insistence that it doesn’t, his belligerence, his pride in his own lies are a threat to our most fundamental institutions, to the very foundation of our democracy.”

Justice Department lawyers had originally recommended seven to nine years in prison for Stone, which Trump described as “horrible and unfair.” Following those comments, the Justice Department revised down its initial prison request, leading to four prosecutors on the case to withdraw.

Supporters of Stone have called on Trump to pardon him. Speaking at an event last week in Las Vegas, the president said “I’d love to see Roger exonerated,” calling him “a good person,” but also saying he wants “the process to play out.”

Over the weekend, Jackson rejected a request by Stone’s legal team that she step down from the case.

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Samuel Alito Rules Against Family of Mexican Child Shot By Border Patrol Agent

Remember back in 2006, during his nomination hearings, when Associate Justice Samuel Alito was just Strip-Search Sammy, and the late Senator Ted Kennedy was so mean to Strip-Search Sammy that the nominee’s wife fled the hearing room in tears because she could no longer handle the intimation that her husband had a problem applying the equal protection of the law to anyone less melanin-deprived than himself? From ABC News:

Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., had been sympathizing with Alito, telling him he was sorry he was being subjected to grueling questions from Democrats. In an effort to settle the matter of whether the nominee was prejudiced against women and minorities, Graham asked him directly, but sympathetically, “Are you a bigot?” Alito responded, “I’m not any kind of bigot.”

It was at this point that Alito’s wife, who was sitting right behind her husband, began to cry and left the hearing. After a recess in the hearing, she returned for its remainder. One White House official later said that Mrs. Alito viewed the attacks on her husband as disgraceful. “She was very upset that a good and decent man would get attacked,” the official told ABC News. “It’s outrageous.”

Outrageous, I tells ya. Even then-Senator Joe Biden, who grilled Alito and got his previous brush with plagiarism slapped back at him by the nominee, was heard to muse something to the effect of this being no way to run a confirmation process. It’s hard even now to imagine how unfair that was. Well, maybe not so hard, at least not on Tuesday. From the AP:

Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the court that the case is tragic, but that strong border security and international relations issues led to the ruling against the parents of Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca. “Since regulating the conduct of agents at the border unquestionably has national security implications, the risk of undermining border security provides reasons to hesitate” about allowing the parents to sue in American courts, Alito wrote.

By the now-customary 5-4, the Supreme Court ruled that the family of Guereca, an unarmed Mexican 15-year-old killed by a Border Patrol officer in 2010, could not sue the officer or the Border Patrol in an American court under what is called a “Bivens action.” That’s a legal proceeding with its roots in a 1971 Supreme Court decision under which an individual could be said to have an implied cause of action against federal officials operating under the color of law who are determined to have violated the individual’s constitutional rights. In this case, the cause of action is painfully clear and the guilty mind of the officer who killed the boy is undeniable, since the officer endeavored to cover his ass after the shooting.

The family said Sergio was playing a game with friends on a June evening, running through a culvert and over the border, touching it, and running back. Mesa rode up on a bicycle, took Sergio’s friend into custody, then fired across the border. The Justice Department said Mesa was trying to stop “smugglers attempting an illegal border crossing” and fired his gun after he came under a barrage of rocks. Mesa said in court filings that Sergio was among the rock throwers. Video footage of the incident seems to dispute that. U.S. officials chose not to prosecute Mesa, and the Obama administration refused a request to extradite him so that he could face criminal charges in Mexico. When the parents of the boy tried to sue Mesa, federal judges dismissed their claims.

In a separate concurrence, and because he is a twisted soul who is realizing that his time for exacting vengeance on the world may be running out, Justice Clarence Thomas advocated for doing away with Bivens actions entirely. Which would pretty much enable agents to turn any federal law-enforcement action at the border into the OK Corral.

Clarence Thomas wanted in on the act.

The Washington PostGetty Images

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the rapidly devolving federal judiciary, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals took a big whack at the reproductive freedom and privacy rights of poor women by upholding an administration* “gag rule” regarding information concerning abortion. From the Washington Post:

Monday’s ruling is the first substantive court decision on a move by the Department of Health and Human Services that heightened a long-brewing antagonism between social conservatives on one side and Planned Parenthood Federation of America and other family planning groups on the other. Under federal law, health-care groups were already barred from using federal funds for abortion services. The rule issued by HHS a year ago went further, forbidding health centers that provide abortions or refer patients for abortions elsewhere from receiving any money through the half-century-old family planning program — a change critics lambasted as a “gag rule.” The rule also requires health centers to erect “clear physical and financial separation” between services funded by the program and other activities.

The opinion, written by Circuit Judge Sandra Ikuta, appointed to the court by former president George W. Bush, said the Trump administration’s rule is slightly less restrictive than a 1988 version upheld by the Supreme Court. The decision also says the rule’s separation requirement is not arbitrary or capricious, rejecting opponents’ argument that HHS did not consider potential harm to clinics and patients.

A Justice Department spokeswoman, Mollie Timmons, said in a statement: “We are pleased by the … decision upholding HHS’s rule forbidding the use of taxpayer money to subsidize abortion through Title X grants. Congress has long prohibited the use of Title X funds in programs where abortion is a method of family planning and HHS’s recent rule makes that longstanding prohibition a reality. We look forward to continuing to defend this vital rule against all challenges.”

Vital, I tells ya. This one’s headed to the Nine Wise Souls, I’m sure. So odds are that I’ll be writing another gloomy post on this one day soon.

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What are the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act and Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act?

Two abortion-restricting bills, one aimed at restricting late-term abortions and and the other providing care for survivors of the procedure, failed to pass the Senate on Tuesday.

The first bill, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., would prohibit doctors from performing an abortion after 20 weeks – the point at which, according to a review study published in a maternal medical journal, Seminars in Perinatology, fetuses can feel pain – unless it is necessary for the mother’s life or was the product of rape.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. 
(AP)

The United States is currently one of seven countries in the world that permit elective abortion after 20 weeks.

The second bill, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., mandates that care be provided for babies that survive an abortion attempt.

Sasse said the bill was intended to make sure every newborn baby “has a fighting chance — whether she’s born in a labor and delivery ward or whether she’s born in an abortion clinic.”

Forty-one Democratic senators voted to block the born-alive bill by filibustering the legislation and preventing it from advancing to a floor vote.  The pain-culpable bill also failed to advance, with 44 senators voting “nay.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined by the GOP leadership, speaks to reporters just after meeting with Attorney General William Barr.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined by the GOP leadership, speaks to reporters just after meeting with Attorney General William Barr.
(AP)

Democratic Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Doug Jones of Alabama, and Joe Manchin from West Virginia were the only lawmakers to cross party lines on the born-alive bill. Jones and GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska opposed the late-term abortion ban.

Given previous failed attempts to pass the bills, they stood little chance of advancing on Tuesday. A vote on each was primarily intended to put lawmakers’ abortion stance on record ahead of the general election in November.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accused Democrats of bowing “to the radical demands of the far left” to “drown out common sense” and the views of millions of Americans.

APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION RULES AGAINST TITLE X FUNDING FOR ABORTION

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., accused Republicans of acting in bad faith and alleged that the bills would “criminalize” women’s reproductive care and intimidate health care providers.

“Every single Senate Republican knows that these bills cannot and will not pass,” he said. “But they’re putting them on the floor anyway to pander to the hard right. And to cover up the fact that they won’t provide good health care for women.”

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The two votes marked the latest efforts by Republicans to restrict abortion availability. President Trump evoked the issue during his State of the Union address earlier this month.

“To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking Congress to pass legislation to prohibit late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb,” he said. “Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Former Barr Deputy Says Intervention in ‘Crony’ Roger Stone Case Reeks of ‘Favoritism’

A former deputy to Attorney General William Barr during his tenure in the first Bush administration has written a new column assailing Barr’s intervention in the sentencing of Roger Stone, an associate of President Donald Trump.

In an article for Just Security, Stuart M. Gerson, who helmed the Justice Department’s civil division from 1989 to 1993, described Stone as “a crony of the president” whose assist from the department suggests a “whiff of favoritism.”

Barr was attorney general for just over a year at the end of the George H.W. Bush administration.

“It looks to many present and former federal prosecutors that undue leniency was being afforded to a privileged, white friend of the president, who himself lent credence to the charge of favoritism by his relentless social media criticism of the case, the prosecutors, and even the presiding judge,” Gerson wrote.

Around one week ago, more than 1,100 former federal prosecutors and Justice Department officials, from both Democratic and Republican administrations, signed an open letter calling on Barr to step down after the Stone controversy came to a head. That number has since swelled to more than 2,600 Justice Department alumni.


U.S. Attorney General William Barr walks through a hallway at the U.S. Capitol February 25, 2020 in Washington, DC. Barr is on Capitol Hill to attend the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon.
Alex Wong/Getty

A few days later, the Federal Judges Association, a national association representing a majority of the judiciary’s Article III judges, convened an emergency meeting to discuss the matter.

Roger Stone, earlier convicted on seven felony charges in the District of Columbia, faced a lengthy prison sentence, especially after prosecutors recommended a term of imprisonment within a ratcheted-up guidelines range, seven to nine years.

In an awkward maneuver, the Justice Department overruled its line prosecutors and resubmitted an amended filing pressing for a more lenient sentence. One prosecutor resigned; three others withdrew from the case.

The Justice Department has sought to distance itself from the constant exhortations of the president to come to Stone’s rescue. It has said that the decision to overrule the trial team was made independently, before Trump issued a now-fateful tweet disparaging the prosecution.

“Many citizens both inside and outside the Department of Justice are asking whether DOJ stands for the rule of law or for the rule of an authoritarian administration,” Gerson writes. “Adherence to the law and the Department’s traditions demands that it clearly be the former. There is no room for error or even the perception of it being otherwise.”

Trump has continued to assail both the jury foreperson and the U.S. district court judge assigned to Stone’s case, Amy Berman Jackson. From her perch on the bench, Jackson used the occasion of Stone’s sentencing—he ultimately received 40 months in prison—to defend the integrity of the trial she oversaw against outside criticism.

“He was not prosecuted, as some have complained, for standing up for the president,” Jackson said. “He was prosecuted for covering up for the president.”

During an interview with ABC News, Barr said that Trump’s constant tweets make it “impossible” for him to do his job.

The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment about Gerson’s column.

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Church shooter Dylann Roof staged death row hunger strike

WASHINGTON (AP) — White supremacist mass murderer Dylann Roof staged a hunger strike this month while on federal death row, alleging in letters to The Associated Press that he’s been “targeted by staff,” “verbally harassed and abused without cause” and “treated disproportionately harsh.”

The 25-year-old Roof, who killed nine black church members during a Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, told the AP in a letter dated Feb. 13 that the staff at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, feel justified in their conduct “since I am hated by the general public.”

A person familiar with the matter said Roof had been on a hunger strike but was no longer on one, as of this week. The person couldn’t immediately provide specific details about the length of the hunger strike or whether medical staff needed to intervene. The person wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Roof wrote in his letter to the AP that he went on the hunger strike to protest the treatment he received from a Bureau of Prisons disciplinary hearing officer over earlier complaints that he was refused access to the law library and access to a copy machine to file legal papers.

Roof’s Feb. 13 letter indicated he was already “several days” into a hunger strike, and he wrote in a follow-up letter that the protest ended a day later after corrections officers forcibly tried to take his blood and insert an IV into his arm, causing him to briefly pass out.

“I feel confident I could have gone much, much longer without food,” Roof wrote in the Feb. 16 follow-up letter. “It’s just not worth being murdered over.”

The allegations could not immediately be verified and a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Prisons said the agency had no comment on Roof’s allegations, citing privacy concerns.

Roof’s lawyers said in a statement that they were “working with BOP to resolve the issues addressed in the letters.”

Roof’s lawyers filed an appeal to his federal convictions and death sentence last month, arguing that he was mentally ill when he represented himself at his capital trial.

In a 321-page legal brief, Roof’s lawyers asked a federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, to review 20 issues, including errors they say were made by the judge and prosecutors that “tainted” his sentencing. One of their main arguments is that U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel should not have allowed Roof to represent himself during the penalty phase of his trial because he was a 22-year-old ninth-grade dropout “who believed his sentence didn’t matter because white nationalists would free him from prison after an impending race war.”

Roof is the first person to be ordered executed for a federal hate crime. Attorney General William Barr announced in July that the government would resume executions and scheduled five executions — though Roof is not included among that group — ending an informal moratorium on federal capital punishment as the issue receded from the public domain. The Supreme Court has temporarily halted the executions after some of the chosen inmates challenged the new execution procedures in court.

__

Martinez reported from New York; AP writer Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina contributed to this report.

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Republicans look to drop domestic spying on U.S. phones, texts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Republicans on Tuesday reacted skeptically to the Trump administration’s request to continue a controversial but inactive domestic surveillance program that collects data on U.S. phone calls and text messages.

FILE PHOTO: A person looks at their phone at a gate to Area 51 as an influx of tourists responding to a call to ‘storm’ Area 51, a secretive U.S. military base believed by UFO enthusiasts to hold government secrets about extra-terrestrials, is expected in Rachel, Nevada, U.S. September 20, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

U.S. Attorney William Barr, appearing at a luncheon with Senate Republicans, urged lawmakers to support a renewal of the National Security Agency program, along with less controversial measures due to expire next month as part of the USA Freedom Act, according to Republicans who attended the event.

The NSA has shut the program down. And while the Trump administration has been pushing for its reauthorization since last August, its efforts have found little traction in Congress.

“That’ll be a tough sell if you don’t use it,” Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham said after the meeting.

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican who sits on both the Senate Intelligence Committee and Graham’s panel, also said it would be hard to justify continuing the program.

“The NSA has indicated they think on balance that the phone program isn’t worth it, given their other priorities,” he told reporters.

Both the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democratic-led House of Representatives are preparing legislation that would discontinue the NSA program, while leaving other surveillance programs intact.

Some Republicans are also seeking to place new limits on the FBI’s surveillance powers, following a review by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog that found the agency committed numerous violations when it conducted surveillance on a foreign-policy adviser to President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.

The Republican president, stung by lingering claims his last campaign may have cooperated with Moscow, is reported to be pressing for changes.

Republican Senator Rand Paul said he wanted to prevent the use of “secret courts” and “secret warrants” against Americans and American political campaigns.

“In the past, many Democrats have supported something like that. We’ll see if they will in this instance or whether it’ll become a political football,” said Paul, who has successfully blocked other efforts to extend surveillance powers.

Barr told Republicans on Tuesday he would change the FBI’s internal practices to minimize the possibility of abuse.

Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Andy Sullivan and Tom Brown

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McConnell warns Republicans speculation on Sanders as the nominee ‘may be a bit foolish’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that Republican speculation about whether Sen. Bernie Sanders may be the easiest Democrat to beat “may be a bit foolish.”

“I’m reminded of when the Democrats back in 1980 were all pulling for Ronald Reagan to be the nominee because they thought he’d be the easiest to beat,” McConnell told reporters when asked if Sanders as the Democratic nominee would make it easier for the GOP to keep control of the Senate. “I think it’s going to be a contested general election with a lot of energy on both sides and for myself I’ll leave it up to the Democrats to pick who they’d like to be their candidate.”

Some Republicans are getting giddy at the prospect of Sanders (I-Vt.) becoming the Democratic nominee for president, after his wins in Nevada and New Hampshire. Senate Republicans — and moderate House Democrats — argue that Sanders’ status as a democratic socialist could hurt down-ballot races, especially in purple states. Already, Senate Republican incumbents are trying to tie their Democratic challengers to Sanders’ platform, including his signature Medicare for All bill.

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Republicans look to drop domestic spying on U.S. phones, texts

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON, Feb 25 (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Republicans on Tuesday reacted skeptically to the Trump administration’s request to continue a controversial but inactive domestic surveillance program that collects data on U.S. phone calls and text messages.

U.S. Attorney William Barr, appearing at a luncheon with Senate Republicans, urged lawmakers to support a renewal of the National Security Agency program, along with less controversial measures due to expire next month as part of the USA Freedom Act, according to Republicans who attended the event.

The NSA has shut the program down. And while the Trump administration has been pushing for its reauthorization since last August, its efforts have found little traction in Congress.

“That’ll be a tough sell if you don’t use it,” Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham said after the meeting.

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican who sits on both the Senate Intelligence Committee and Graham’s panel, also said it would be hard to justify continuing the program.

“The NSA has indicated they think on balance that the phone program isn’t worth it, given their other priorities,” he told reporters.

Both the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democratic-led House of Representatives are preparing legislation that would discontinue the NSA program, while leaving other surveillance programs intact.

Some Republicans are also seeking to place new limits on the FBI’s surveillance powers, following a review by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog that found the agency committed numerous violations when it conducted surveillance on a foreign-policy adviser to President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.

The Republican president, stung by lingering claims his last campaign may have cooperated with Moscow, is reported to be pressing for changes.

Republican Senator Rand Paul said he wanted to prevent the use of “secret courts” and “secret warrants” against Americans and American political campaigns.

“In the past, many Democrats have supported something like that. We’ll see if they will in this instance or whether it’ll become a political football,” said Paul, who has successfully blocked other efforts to extend surveillance powers.

Barr told Republicans on Tuesday he would change the FBI’s internal practices to minimize the possibility of abuse. (Reporting by David Morgan Editing by Andy Sullivan and Tom Brown)

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“We’re All Working Here, and Bernie Supports All of Us”

In Las Vegas this weekend, in a windowless ballroom deep in the Mandalay Bay casino’s massive convention center, a Somali cab driver took on a billionaire and won.

Despite being entirely new to participating in American politics, Jamal was giving the “realignment speech,” an important role in the Nevada caucus process. His task was to entice unaligned caucusers to join the Bernie Sanders group after their candidates had been declared unviable on the first round of voting. There were about twenty Steyer voters up for grabs, along with five in the Warren group (and zero for Pete Buttigeig). Only Sanders and Biden were viable during the first round.

“Bernie fights for us!” Jamal yelled to a room of casino workers and fellow taxi drivers.

His realignment speech followed one given by Evi Steyer, a young scion of the Steyer family fortune. Steyer, in a bright blue dress and combat boots, addressed the assembled housekeepers, janitors, and taxi drivers on behalf of her billionaire father Tom (“my dad”), praising him for his commitment to unions, his plan to raise the minimum wage to $22 an hour, and his promise to allow some workers to “keep their health care.”

The last point was a dig at Sanders and Medicare for All, both of which had been targets of Vegas’s powerful Culinary Union throughout February. Despite Steyer’s promises, her dad was still not viable after the realignment. Bernie gained even more support after Jamal gave his realignment speech, and he hugged the new workers as they joined their group.

“We’re all working here, and [Bernie] supports all of us,” he said.

Mandalay Bay, a luxury resort owned jointly by Blackstone and MGM Grand, boasts a four-star hotel, an eleven-acre pool, and real estate assets worth over $2 billion. It takes 1,500 workers, including housekeepers, maintenance staff, waitresses, and janitors, to keep it running every day.

On Nevada caucus day, it was host to one of seven caucuses open to workers with Saturday shifts on the Vegas strip, allowing them to participate in the primary without having to take the day off. And while Bernie was projected to win Nevada overall, his victory at Mandalay Bay was far from assured.

Throughout February, the Culinary Union campaigned hard against Sanders and Medicare for All. Instead of endorsing a candidate, the union encouraged their members to support anyone but Sanders. Because of this, he was widely expected to lose at all the Strip caucuses.

But workers in the belly of the beast of wealth and excess voted decisively for the workers’ candidate: Sanders went on to win five out of the seven Strip caucuses, tied at one, and came in second place at another, winning the most delegates on the Strip. Casino and hotel workers who are members of the Culinary Union shocked their union leadership by ignoring the leadership’s fearmongering around Sanders and Medicare for All. And at a similar hotel and casino further down the Strip, the Rio, a dozen taxi drivers came in to caucus together and kept Steyer from viability, all standing with Sanders. Sanders won the Nevada caucus by a landslide.

While there was something cinematic about Evi and Jamal’s competition at the caucus, their fight for the support of the working class represents a material difference of interests that are fundamentally irreconcilable with each other. This was apparent to Bernie volunteers who, like us, spent hours organizing taxi drivers at “the pit,” a sun-baked taxi depot at the Vegas airport where drivers would idle under an aluminum awning, use the bathroom, pray, socialize, and wait to queue up in the terminal above. The workforce is extremely multinational; we spoke with white workers, black workers, and workers from Cuba, Ethiopia, Mexico, Pakistan, Serbia, Somalia, and Turkey.

Although most of the white workers we spoke with were Trump supporters, many respected Sanders and regarded him as an honest politician. One white driver voted for Trump in 2016, but said he now supported Sanders because even though the economy is said to be doing well, the prosperity hasn’t trickled down to workers.

“What does the stock market have to do with us?” he asked.

And although some of the black and immigrant drivers also favored Trump, the majority were already Sanders supporters before we approached them. Many people lit up when we mentioned his name, citing his College for All plan and how it could help their children, who were, in many cases, likely the motivation for their migration.

Others said a local Ethiopian State Assembly member, Alexander Assefa, was the reason why they supported Bernie — the two politicians have done multiple events together in the Las Vegas Ethiopian community. Some workers already had Bernie literature and swag in their taxis, excitedly flashing tattered leaflets and bumper stickers.

A few Bernie supporters introduced us to other drivers they knew in the Pit, and translated information about Bernie and the caucus as needed. A few drivers even posted the caucus information in their massive Viber text messaging groups for Ethiopian drivers, encouraging drivers to come caucus for Bernie with endorsements like, “Vote for Bernie tomorrow he is good for taxi drivers and other workers.”

It’s important to note that many of these workers needed only a little encouragement and logistical support to turn out to the caucuses, despite the fact that it would cost them one to two hours of lost fares. Jamal, who gave the realignment speech for Bernie, didn’t know about the vote until he met an organizer two days before the caucus. He had never caucused for a candidate before.

The resounding victory for Bernie Sanders at both the caucuses on the Strip and across the state of Nevada should put the “Bernie Bro” myth to bed once and for all. At the Strip caucuses, the vast majority of voters were people of color, many of whom were immigrants — and those were of course the workers who voted decisively for Sanders.

Across the state, over 50 percent of Latinos who voted on Saturday voted for him, as well. But it wasn’t just Latino voters who turned out for Bernie: he won men and women, voters aged seventeen to sixty-five, those with college degrees and those without, and both union and nonunion workers.

Saturday’s Strip caucuses also showed us that the excitement and vision of Bernie’s campaign is mobilizing nontraditional voters, like meat-packers in Iowa and the taxi drivers in Vegas, in order to unite the vast majority of workers to build a movement to take on the billionaire class. It brought to life a major theme of the campaign — to fight for someone you don’t know — serving as a referendum on Medicare for All, as union workers with hard-fought, great health benefits said with their vote: “not me, us.”

Watching taxi drivers and union housekeepers stand shoulder to shoulder only confirmed what we already know: Bernie is the candidate of people who work for a living.