Sen. Cotton says if Apple deplatforms Twitter, it’s because Apple’s CEO is ‘envious’ of Musk

Apple CEO Tim Apple—that’s what Donald Trump calls  him, and Donald Failing Real Estate Company is always right—does pretty well for himself. The chief executive formerly known as Tim Cook made almost $99 million last year, and he’s the top decision-maker at the most valuable company on the planet . Meanwhile, Elon Musk, who recently purchased Twitter for a gobsmacking $44 billion, is turning the beloved social media platform into something more like a social disease.

But just because Cook wants to protect his brand by keeping New Twitter—which is kind of like New Coke if they’d put a Klansman on the production line to spit in every can—at arm’s length doesn’t mean he’s biased against Republicans. Unless Republicans want to step up and admit they’re the party of neo-Nazis and other assorted racists, that is. No, Twitter has—erm, had—hard and fast rules about what you could or couldn’t post. And racist nonsense and dangerous conspiracy theories are—erm, were—strictly verboten.

They were, anyway, before Musk opened the floodgates and let both the ocher abomination and his phalanx of flying monkeys out of their cages. Now Musk is feuding with Apple—though, so far, it’s been little more than a feckless, one-sided slap-fight.

The Verge:

Elon Musk claims that Apple  has threatened to “withhold” Twitter from the iOS App Store for unknown reasons. The news follows a tweet  where Musk said Apple had “mostly stopped advertising” on the platform and a poll asking whether Apple should “publish all censorship actions it has taken that affect its customers.” Apple did not immediately comment on Musk’s claim.

The news follows much more subtle signs of mounting tension between Apple and Musk-owned Twitter. Musk has criticized Apple’s App Store fee  for in-app purchases, dubbing it a “hidden 30% tax” on the internet. And Apple App Store boss Phil Schiller deleted his Twitter account  following Musk’s takeover, shortly after Donald Trump’s account was reinstated.

In a November 15th interview  with CBS News, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that “they say that they are going to continue to moderate. I’m counting on them to continue to do that.” Musk, however, has pledged to loosen Twitter’s moderation guidelines and floated the idea of a mass unbanning of suspended accounts .

Yes, by all means, take on the biggest company in the world—one that could make or break your platform with a single decision —instead of just reassuring them you won’t condone racist threats, incitements to violence, or corrosive conspiracy theories. Sounds like a plan!

In a recent tweet, Musk claimed Apple was “withholding” approval of its app without saying why.

Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022

He also—rather hilariously—attacked Apple for not sending him money even after he specifically asked them to.

Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022

Of course, Musk’s own decisions have no doubt had more than a little to do with Apple’s cold shoulder. He’s weakened the company, including its ability to respond to offensive content, with his massive layoffs, and his new “free speech-ish” vibe has brought the orcs out of hiding. Forbes:

It’s also in context of Twitter losing perhaps 70% of its staff,  with likely many involved in content moderation and brand safety no longer in place. That has resulted in an increase of impersonation — particularly with paid-for verification — which Musk has said has now dissipated, and additional porn, spam, and inauthentic behavior, likely from bots, on the platform. The most recent manifestation : a massive amount of porn targeting any discussion of China  and the anti-Covid restriction riots in its cities.

It’s important to note that Musk used the word “withhold” and not remove. Withholding Twitter from the App Store suggests that Twitter may be having difficulties updating its app, which must pass an Apple App Store review for compliance with app submission guidelines. As a point of reference, Spotify’s recent app update which including various ways for customers to buy audiobooks was rejected three times by Apple . Facebook also had trouble updating its gaming app in recent years.

In other words, if Twitter gets bounced off Apple’s App Store, Musk will have no one but himself to blame. But that’s not how Sen. Tom Cotton sees it! On Hugh Hewitt’s unreality show, the man who puts the “sass” in Arkansas claimed petty envy was lurking somewhere behind Cook’s avuncular gaze. Watch:

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) says Apple CEO Tim Cook may be threatening to pull Twitter off the App Store because he is “envious of Elon Musk’s massive success as a business man.”

— The Recount (@therecount) November 29, 2022

HEWITT: “Apple is considering removing Twitter from the App Store. How does that strike you? How would you respond to that?”

COTTON: “Hugh, I think that would be a very ill-advised decision by Tim Cook at Apple. I understand that he may not care for Elon Musk, maybe he’s a little envious of Elon Musk’s massive success as a businessman, but to remove a widely used social media app from Apple’s App Store simply because he has political disagreements with Elon Musk and the direction he’s taking Twitter would simply be inviting aggressive legislative and regulatory action in Washington.”

Shorter Cotton: “If you don’t create a special carveout for newly racist Twitter, Congress is going to punish you, so let the Nazis run wild—or else.”

If mainstream Republicans are running afoul of Twitter’s rules, they need to either examine themselves or those rules more closely. But what Musk is basically saying is that the old rules against peeing in the pool are brutally unfair to chronic pool-pissers.

Of course, anyone is free to swim in an ocean of urine if they want to, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us should be required to join the party.

Sen. Raphael Warnock is still defending his Georgia seat, and the Dec. 6 runoff is coming fast. If you can—and if you aren’t too tired from saving America on Nov. 8—please rush a donation to Team Warnock now!  You can also write letters to Georgia voters with Vote Forward!  Let’s finish up strong!

Check out Aldous J. Pennyfarthing’s four-volume Trump-trashing compendium , including the finale, Goodbye, Asshat: 101 Farewell Letters  to Donald Trump , at this link . Or, if you prefer a test drive, you can download the epilogue to Goodbye, Asshat for the low, low price of FREE .

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RNC commissions panel filled with Trump allies to investigate what went wrong in midterms

The Republican National Committee announced this week it plans to set up a team of advisers to review the party’s midterm performance following the anticipated “red wave” that never materialized. According to Politico , the team of advisors would help guide the party’s strategy.

This is actually a good idea. Any party should examine its performance following an election, whether they win or lose. But while the idea seems productive, the Republicans aren’t sending their best. The RNC panel seems to be full of Donald Trump allies—many of whom, like Trump himself, lost their elections. Why the RNC would pick candidates who lost to advise others on winning strategies is a mystery.

“As we assess the midterms and plan for 2024, we are gathering a diverse range of respected leaders in our movement to join together and help chart a winning course in the years to come,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement to Politico. “I am thrilled that this talented group of Republicans will be shoulder to shoulder with us as we work to grow our party, hold Democrats accountable, and elect Republicans.”

Amongst the panel members are Trump administration official Kellyanne Conway, Alabama Sen.-elect Katie Britt, Texas Rep.-elect Monica De La Cruz, Michigan Rep.-elect John James, and Blake Masters—who lost the Arizona Senate run that many people thought would’ve been easy for him to secure. In his case, it’s interesting to see him conducting a review as a panelist as opposed to being one of the campaigns being analyzed as the problem. If the party is trying to analyze issues in midterms and strategy, picking those who lost what many considered “easy” runs is probably not the best way to go about it.

Blake lost his bid to unseat incumbent Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly. As a MAGA candidate, many noted Blake failed to resonate with voters, despite predictions of Kelly’s growing unpopularity.

“Our party needs to modernize. We’re fighting against Big Tech, the media, and now, the Democrats’ GOTV early voting machine,” Trump-endorsed Masters said in a statement despite his loss, according to Politico . Trump also supported claims that Masters had his race stolen, even though Arizona officials pushed back on election fraud allegations.

Love Blake Masters being one of the advisors to help the RNC discover the lessons of the 2022 midterms, chief among which should be “don’t nominate weirdo fascist freaks like Blake Masters”

— Max Steele (@maxasteele) November 29, 2022

Campaign Action

According to Politico, the plan to create a panel came as McDaniel continues to face growing criticism from Republicans after a lackluster finish and barely gaining control of the House.

Former New York gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin recently said  he is considering a run for McDaniel’s position—as is MyPillow founder Mike Lindell .

“I am 100% running for the RNC Chairman against Ronna McDaniel,” Lindell said. “One of the big donors said to me, he said, ‘Mike, everybody wants you to be head of the RNC, some of them just don’t know it yet.’”

Others are criticizing Republican leadership, including South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, who suggested it may be time to replace McDaniel.

“We really have a responsibility to message what Republican policies bring to this country,” Noem said . “And I don’t know of a party that can continue to lose like we have and keep their jobs. Everybody needs to evaluate what we are doing, and is it effective, and are we messaging truly that our policies work.”

But despite the backlash she is facing for her lack of leadership, McDaniel’s allies say they are confident she has the support needed to win reelection when the 168-member committee gathers for its annual winter meeting in January. According to Politico, the committee is expected to publish the findings sometime during the first half of 2023.

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Arizona Republicans refusing to certify votes might actually turn red seats blue

On Monday, following delay after delay, the MAGA-controlled Cochise County, Arizona, board of elections missed its deadline to certify 47,000-plus (mostly conservative) votes. The move was seen by most as pure political theater from a deep-red county which has swallowed the Big Lie election denialism hook, line, and sinker. Like all political theater, this will cost taxpayers money.

Before two MAGA-conspiracy theorists who don’t trust “any computers” failed to do their part to certify their constituents’ votes, Arizona State Elections Director Kori Lorick explained that there was no evidence of impropriety in the 2022 midterm elections, and “the secretary will use all available legal remedies to compel compliance with Arizona law and protect Cochise County voters’ right to have their votes counted.”

Late on Monday, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who will be the state’s next Democratic governor, sued the Republican-controlled county for refusing to do its job. The fact that this move does not help Democrats get more votes seems lost on the fake-triots in Cochise County. However, as people have begun to point out, not only is this quixotic conspiracist’s adventure going to be financially costly for Arizonans, the Republican Party officials behind it are putting a lot of conservative constituents’ votes in jeopardy. “Lorick wrote in a letter last week that Hobbs is required by law to approve the statewide canvass by next week and will have to exclude Cochise County’s votes if they aren’t received in time. ” You know what that means? Yes. It means exactly what you think it means.

RELATED STORY: MAGA-controlled Arizona county fails to certify election results by deadline

According to the Associated Press , the loss of Cochise County’s votes—which are expected to greatly favor Republican candidates—would threaten a possible U.S. House seat and a state schools chief position. The best part about this all is that you can now take the next sentence and file it in your “foot, meet mouth” folder. Those seats are expected to go to Republican candidates—but could now flip to the Democratic challenger.

Thoughts and prayers!

Hobbs’ lawsuit is asking the Cochise County Superior Court to require officials to certify the election results no later than this coming Thursday. Arizona state law requires all results to be certified by Dec. 8—“with or without certification from all of the counties.”

Cochise County had a statutory duty to certify the results of the 2022 General Election by today. My office has filed a lawsuit to ensure all voters have their votes county. ⬇️

— Secretary Katie Hobbs (@SecretaryHobbs) November 29, 2022

Here’s a thought.

Before you can “own the libs,” you must first learn to own yourself. Cochise County is a fast learner!

— Pence’s Hair Fly (@PENCESFLYTRAP) November 29, 2022

Is it likely that the lack of Cochise votes would result in a big flip from red to blue? No. But it is theoretically possible, and an important reminder to conservative voters that their elected officials, who barely care about their voters under any circumstance, drop all pretense of working for their constituency the moment they are elected to office.

The new Secretary of State-elect has this to say:

The Cochise County Board has disrespected its voters and broken the law. This is ANOTHER stain on Arizona’s reputation, and it’s bad for business. The lie must end.#ProtectDemocracy #ProtectTheRepublic #ProtectAZVoters

— Adrian Fontes (@Adrian_Fontes) November 29, 2022

Elections matter!

Add your name: Thank you for voting, donating and volunteering for Democrats!

Election season overtime is finally winding down, so Democratic operative Joe Sudbay joins David Nir on The Downballot as a guest-host this week to recap some of the last results that have just trickled in. At the top of the list is the race for Arizona attorney general, where Democrat Kris Mayes has a 510-vote lead with all ballots counted (a mandatory recount is unlikely to change the outcome). Also on the agenda is Arizona’s successful Proposition 308, which will allow students to receive financial aid regardless of immigration status.

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Virginia cop killed by police after allegedly killing three people and abducting teen he catfished

Depending on the news source you’ve followed on a very big and disturbing new case out of Riverside, California, it might be unclear to you whether or not Austin Edwards—the 28-year-old cop who allegedly catfished a teenager before killing her family—was an active officer of the law at the time of the crime. For example, as folks on Twitter immediately picked up on, NBC News—a legitimate and reputable outlet—initially ran a story with the headline vaguely framing Edwards as a “law enforcement worker.” To me, and apparently, to many readers, this headline suggests, if anything, Edwards was perhaps a “bad apple” who had once been employed in law enforcement and was no longer.

And that, my friends, is the beauty of cultural “copaganda .” Police get the benefit of the doubt all of the time, including, sadly, in the media. But as covered by BuzzFeed News , for example, we know that Edwards had been a trooper in the Virginia State Police. He resigned from the role in October. But his career in law enforcement didn’t end there—he actually worked for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia after that. He had apparently begun his orientation less than two weeks before allegedly killing the teen’s mother and grandparents. 

RELATED: Republicans have been trying to defund NPR for decades… and they still have no leg to stand on

Here are the specifics of his employment timeline, according to CBS News . A spokesperson for the Virginia State Police said Edwards graduated from the academy as a trooper on Jan. 21, 2022. He was assigned to Henrico County and resigned on Oct. 28, 2022. He was reportedly still employed as a trooper when he applied to work at the sheriff’s office. He was hired by the sheriff’s office on Nov. 16, 2022, and was in orientation. So, put another way: He got this job nine days before allegedly killing three people and trying to flee with a teenager.

Even without all of this confusion about the suspect, this crime is both deeply disturbing and deeply sad. Edwards allegedly first met the teenage girl online, while she was living in California and he was across the country in Virginia. Edwards lied about his identity while they developed some sort of a relationship (hence the “catfishing”), per the Riverside Police Department .

Authorities think Edwards went to California on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, and set the family house on fire, killing the teen’s mother and two grandparents. The specific cause of the fire and causes of death for the girl’s family have not been determined, but they’re considered homicide victims at this time. By the time the police and fire department arrived, the three adults—Mark Winek, Sharie Winek, and Brooke Winek—were found on the floor at the entryway of the home. 

A neighbor told local outlet KABC that she had seen Edwards and the teen get into his car and noted the girl didn’t have shoes or pants on at the time. The neighbor was concerned for obvious reasons, including that the girl couldn’t seem to speak and appeared to be crying.

“She did seem and appear a little distressed,” the public information officer for the police department, Ryan Railsback, told the outlet. “So it was concerning enough to these people to call.”

Per CNN , police believe Edwards killed the three adults before setting the home on fire and taking the girl back to his car. Police have stated they do not believe the girl had any involvement in setting the house on fire or the murders. She is now in protective custody. 

And Edwards? According to a press release from police, he and the girl were found several hours later while Edwards was driving. He was killed by deputies during a shootout with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. 

“It is shocking and sad to the entire law enforcement community that such an evil and wicked person could infiltrate law enforcement while concealing his true identity as a computer predator and murderer,” Washington County Sheriff Blake Andis said in a statement. Andis added their “thoughts and prayers” are with the family, friends, and all affected by the “heinous crime.”

Here’s the thing. More than a little news coverage includes folks reminding us at home to be careful about online predators—don’t give away too much information, don’t tell people where you live, and so on. Obviously, this is good advice. But it feels like, yet again, people are reluctant to discuss the finding that police officers in the U.S. commit domestic violence at roughly 15 times the rate of the general population.

Mind you, it’s tough to get numbers on this for obvious reasons. But that’s a horrifying number as it is. Based on this data—which is admittedly drawn from a small sample size—about 40% of responding cops said they had participated in domestic violence in the previous year. In a related study, about 40% of cops admitted they had been violent with their spouse in the previous six months. 

After sending love to victims and their loved ones in a statement, Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez added in part: “This is yet another horrific reminder of the predators existing online who prey on our children. If you’ve already had a conversation with your kids on how to be safe online and on social media, have it again. If not, start it now to better protect them.”

While it’s, again, fair to remind young people (and really, people in general) to be careful what they share online, it’s not as though online safety was the only factor here. Not by a long shot. 

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Oath Keepers Elmer Stewart Rhodes, Kelly Meggs found guilty of seditious conspiracy

For their attempt to stop the nation’s peaceful transfer of power by force on Jan. 6, 2021, a jury has found the leader of the extremist Oath Keepers organization Elmer Stewart Rhodes and co-defendant Kelly Meggs guilty.

Co-defendants Jessica Watkins, Thomas Caldwell and Kenneth Harrelson were found not guilty on the seditious conspiracy charge. 

The charge of seditious conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. It will likely be many months before the parties are sentenced and presiding U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta did not set a date for sentencing after the verdicts were read for each defendant, count by count. 

Oath Keeper founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes was found guilty of seditious conspiracy, not guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding, not guilty of conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging his duties and guilty of tampering with documents. 

Florida Oath Keeper leader Kelly Meggs was found guilty of seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging his duties and tampering with documents. Meggs was found not guilty of destruction of government property. 

Ohio Oath Keeper Jessica Watkins, just one of the Oath Keepers who breached the U.S. Capitol in an organized stack, was found not of guilty seditious conspiracy but was found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and obstruction of an official proceeding. She was also found guilty of conspiring to prevent officers from discharging their duties and civil disorder. Those two verdicts were expected after Watkins admitted to civil disorder from the witness stand at trial. On the destruction of government property charge she was found not guilty. 

Thomas Caldwell, a former Naval commander who prosecutors said coordinated the groups’ efforts to establish a heavily-armed quick reaction force, or QRF, to support Oath Keepers on the ground at the Capitol, was found not guilty of seditious conspiracy; not guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; not guilty of conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging his duties but guilty on two charges: tampering with documents and obstruction of an official proceeding. 

Kenneth Harrelson, another Oath Keeper leader from Florida that joined the stack breaching the Capitol, was found not guilty of seditious conspiracy, not guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and not guilty of destruction of property. He was, however, found guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging his duties. 

Elmer Stewart Rhodes was arrested on Jan. 13, a little over a year to the day that he stood outside of the U.S. Capitol, stalking from side to side of the building as the pro-Trump mob swelled and members of the group he founded in 2009 stormed the building with the aim of stopping the certification of the 2020 election.

At trial, Rhodes denied having a specific plan in place for Jan. 6, citing the lack of a written or express agreement to halt the certification. This point made up the lion’s share of the defense and it was often that Oath Keepers would claim they were simply “swept up”  by a jostling, fast moving crowd.

Even from the witness stand, Oath Keepers who have already pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges like Jason Dolan and Graydon Young testified that there was never an explicit plan about using force to stop Congress.

It was, however, “implied ,” Young said.

And this, according to prosecutors, is what mattered to secure the seditious conspiracy convictions.

An explicit agreement was never required for the jury to find the defendants guilty of seditious conspiracy. An implied agreement was indicated in myriad Oath Keepers texts, video, and audio recordings, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nestler said during the government’s final rebuttal on Nov. 21.

Rhodes alone published two open letters to former President Donald Trump in December 2020 urging him to invoke the Insurrection Act so that Oath Keepers could be called up to stop what Rhodes believed was a “deep state” coup aimed at removing Trump from the White House despite his popular and electoral defeat to now-President Joe Biden.  

If Trump didn’t act, Rhodes wrote, the Oath Keepers would be forced to. A civil war would be inevitable.

”You must act NOW as a wartime President, pursuant to your oath to defend the Constitution, which is very similar to the oath all of us veterans swore. We are already in a fight. It’s better to wage it with you as Commander-in-Chief than to have you comply with a fraudulent election, leave office, and leave the White House in the hands of illegitimate usurpers and Chinese puppets,” Rhodes wrote in an open letter to Trump published on the Oath Keepers website on Dec. 14.

If you fail to act while still in office, Rhodes wrote, “We the people” would be forced to engage in a civil war

— Brandi Buchman (@Brandi_Buchman) October 7, 2022

“Do NOT concede, and do NOT wait until Jan. 20, 2021. Strike now. If you fail to act while you are still in office, we the people will have to fight a bloody civil war and revolution against these two illegitimate Communist China puppets, and their illegitimate regime, with all of the powers of the deep state behind them, with nominal command of all the might of our armed forces (though we fully expect many units or entire branches to refuse their orders and to fight against them) and with their foreign allies also joining to assist in the impression of American patriots.” [Emphasis original]

The seditious missives didn’t stop there.

In a second open letter—published four days after Trump tweeted an invitation to the “big protest in D.C.” on Jan. 6—Rhodes’ frustration reached a fever pitch as he again urged Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act.

Stewart Rhodes’ second open letter to Trump urging him to invoke the Insurrection Act so he could stay in power despite handily losing the 2020 election to Joe Biden.

When he testified before the jury , Rhodes was unrepentant in his view that the 2020 election was “unconstitutional,” pointing to Covid-19 protocols implemented in battleground states during the pandemic. Under cross-examination from Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy, he also bizarrely denied his letters were intended to convince Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act and use a militia of Oath Keepers and other allies to overturn the election results.

He admitted to urging his followers to oppose the result s but then denied urging them to use force. Text messages seized off of his device, however, showed Rhodes explicitly stating: “The answer must be to refuse to accept, acknowledge or respect or obey any of these imposters or their pretend legislation and get gear squared away and ready to fight” and “Trump has one last chance right now to stand but he will need us and our rifles too.”

During the trial, any argument by the defense that the Oath Keepers failed to participate in a seditious conspiracy simply because there was not a definitive, spelled-out plan amounted to a “colossal waste of time,” Nestler said.  

“Let me be clear on behalf of the United States: We do not allege a specific plan to storm the Capitol. Never have. Aren’t now. We don’t have to prove a plan,” he said.

Jurors only needed to find evidence of a mutual understanding. Conspirators rarely put their plans in writing, a feature U.S. criminal law healthily accounts for. No oral agreement was required nor was there a requirement that the government prove beyond a reasonable doubt that all conspirators were aware of every detail of a conspiracy or even agreed to the means of the conspiracy.

The coordination to halt the nation’s transfer of presidential power played out over phone calls and texts among Rhodes and several of the group’s senior-most leaders in various states, including his co-defendant Kelly Meggs of Florida. 

Justice Department demonstrative showing the chain of command for Oath Keepers on Jan. 6

Evidence amassed by prosecutors showed Meggs not only reserved a hotel in November 2020 for a weapons training course, but was joined in that reservation by fellow Oath Keepers Jeremy Brown and Joseph Hackett. Brown brought an RV to the Washington, D.C. area on Jan. 6 allegedly stuffed with explosives. He left the vehicle in College Park, Maryland, roughly a half hour’s commute without traffic from D.C. Brown has not yet gone to trial and update in his case is expected before Dec. 19.

Hackett, like Meggs, was one of the Oath Keepers who stormed the Capitol in a stack formation on Jan. 6. He goes on trial for seditious conspiracy starting Dec. 5 along with Oath Keepers Roberto Minuta, David Moerschel and Ed Vallejo. All were charged alongside Rhodes but due to the limited space available to accommodate the large number of defendants and their attorneys plus the government’s attorneys at the federal courthouse, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta split the defendants into two groups.

This story is developing.

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