FBI runs global sting by creating message service for crooks

When the FBI dismantled an encrypted messaging service based in Canada in 2018, agents noticed users moving to other networks. Instead of following their tracks to rivals, investigators decided on a new tactic: creating their own service.

ANOM, a secure-messaging service built by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, launched in October 2019 and solidified its following after authorities took down another rival. Popularity spread by word of mouth.

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When ANOM was taken down Monday, authorities had collected more than 27 million messages from about 12,000 devices in 45 languages — a vast body of evidence that fueled a global sting operation, authorities said Tuesday.

Users were “upper-echelon, command-and-control” figures in more than 300 criminal organizations, the FBI said. Unbeknown to criminals, authorities were copied on every message sent on the FBI devices, much like blind recipients of an email.

More than 800 suspects were arrested and more than 32 tons of drugs seized, including cocaine, cannabis, amphetamines and methamphetamines. Police also seized 250 guns, 55 luxury cars and more than $148 million in cash and cryptocurrencies. An indictment unsealed Tuesday in San Diego named 17 foreign distributors charged with racketeering conspiracy.

Fed lawyers: Trump not liable for ‘crude’ remarks at accuser

Donald Trump cannot be held personally liable for “crude and disrespectful” remarks he made about a woman who accused him of rape because he made the comments while he was president, U.S. Justice Department lawyers told an appeals court late Monday.

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Responding to misconduct allegations is part of the president’s job, the government’s lawyers told the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. As such, it is the United States itself — and not Trump — who should be the defendant in a defamation lawsuit brought by columnist E. Jean Carroll, who says Trump raped her in the mid-1990s in an upscale Manhattan department store.

In defending Trump in its filing Monday, the Justice Department is carrying on an effort that began under former U.S. Attorney General William Barr while Trump was still in office.

Washington Justice Department lawyers wrote that Trump was acting “within the scope of his office” in denying wrongdoing after White House reporters asked him about Carroll’s claims.

Chris Harrison out as ‘Bachelor’ host after racism controversy

In the aftermath of a racism controversy that engulfed the first Black Bachelor’s highly anticipated season earlier this year, Chris Harrison is officially parting ways with the popular reality series after 20 years as the face of the franchise, network ABC and production company Warner Horizon announced Tuesday.

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“Chris Harrison is stepping aside as host of ‘The Bachelor’ franchise,” read the joint statement. “We are thankful for his many contributions over the past 20 years and wish him all the best on his new journey.”

Harrison posted his own statement on Instagram: “I’ve had a truly incredible run as host of The Bachelor franchise and now I’m excited to start a new chapter. I’m so grateful to Bachelor Nation for all of the memories we’ve made together. While my two-decade journey is wrapping up, the friendships I’ve made will last a lifetime.”

“The Bachelor” faced a racial reckoning last season after photos surfaced of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell at an Old South-themed party in 2018. Harrison himself was caught up in the scandal following an interview with Rachel Lindsay, the first Black “Bachelorette,” in which he made racially insensitive statements minimizing the images. Soon thereafter, Harrison announced he was stepping back from season 25 of “The Bachelor” before the finale aired.