MIAMI (AP) — Conservative activist James O’Keefe has released secretly recorded, selectively edited video footage that includes a Democratic activist bragging about deploying troublemakers at rallies held by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
After O’Keefe began releasing videos this week, two Democratic operatives stopped working on the presidential race and both the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign denounced the tactics described in the footage. Both said the activities described never took place.
O’Keefe’s group, Project Veritas, promised to release additional videos ahead of the Nov. 8 election.
The central character in the recordings is Scott Foval, a Wisconsin-based liberal operative. He is portrayed in the footage as boasting about his connections to the party and the Clinton campaign, and claiming to have arranged for people, including some who are mentally ill, to incite violence at Trump rallies.
“You can message to draw them out, and draw them out to punch you,” Foval is shown on a video as saying.
Foval also appears to say hired agitators should have their medical and legal bills covered. As with much of the video’s content, it’s impossible to say with certainty what Foval meant, because the videos are edited in a way so that it’s not clear what led to the comment.
In a separate video, Foval muses to an undercover O’Keefe associate about how it would be easier to get away with voter fraud if out-of-state residents drive to the polls in the targeted states in cars rather than being bused in by an organizer. “So you can’t prove that it’s en masse, so it doesn’t tip people off,” he says.
There’s no evidence presented in the video that anything Foval discusses as a theoretical has ever occurred.
Foval told The Associated Press in an email that O’Keefe’s associates had set him up.
“This scheme to cast legitimate organizing activities as a sinister plot is nothing but a ruse,” he said, adding, “O’Keefe’s crew of impostors continued to walk down a path of deception and manipulation.”
O’Keefe and Project Veritas have a long track record of targeting Democratic groups, often by hiding their identities and using hidden cameras. A previous O’Keefe sting led to the demise of ACORN, a community organizing group that O’Keefe portrayed as engaged in criminal activity via hidden camera videos.
O’Keefe was convicted in 2010 as part of a scheme to illegally make recordings at the office of then-Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat.
In this case, Foval appears to have been several steps removed from the presidential race.
In July, the Democratic National Committee paid about $26,000 to Mobilize, the consulting firm of Robert Creamer, a longtime liberal activist based in Washington and the husband of Illinois Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky. Creamer was also featured in the latest O’Keefe videos, although not saying anything that appeared to be unethical or illegal
His DNC contract called for him to stage Democratic events outside Trump rallies, and he hired Foval as a subcontractor.
Creamer told the AP that Democrats have, in fact, sought to limit their contact with Trump supporters, requesting police barricades to avoid conflicts. Creamer voluntarily ended his DNC contract on Tuesday, saying he was doing so to avoid becoming an election-time “distraction.”
Americans United for Change, a liberal group that said it had a separate contract with Foval to work on Social Security issues, said it is no longer associated with him. People For the American Way, another group that once employed Foval, said it has not worked with him in months.
Both groups said that what Foval appeared to say in the videos did not reflect their ethical standards.
DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile accepted Creamer’s decision to end his contract work and said in a statement the activities described in the videos “do not in any way comport with our long standing policies on organizing events.”
She also said she does not believe anything “articulated in the video actually occurred.”
Clinton campaign spokesman Zac Petkanas said the campaign supports the decision to cut ties with the operatives ensnared by O’Keefe, saying “some of the language and tactics referenced in the video are troubling even as a theory or proposal never executed.”
Associated Press writer Lisa Lerer contributed to this report from Las Vegas.
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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — Police in Virginia Beach are conducting an internal review after an officer was captured on video struggling with a woman on the ground as he handcuffed her.
Police said in a statement Tuesday that an officer responded to a call about a disorderly person at the Four Sails Resort Hotel on Monday and arrested 24-year-old Shakema Mitchell of Virginia Beach. Police say Mitchell freed herself from handcuffs and didn’t cooperate as the officer re-handcuffed her. Mitchell was charged with public intoxication and released Tuesday.
Media outlets report that Lauren Etheridge posted video of the struggle to Facebook, saying she saw the officer yank Mitchell from the cruiser and smash her head into the ground.
Court records list Mitchell’s race as black. Police didn’t release the officer’s name or race.
GREENVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Officials in a Mississippi school district have fired a special education teacher after a video showed her dragging a special-needs student by her hair across the floor.
The Delta Democrat-Times reports (http://bit.ly/2er9nWt) the Greenville Public School District’s Board of Trustees voted Monday to terminate Linda Winters-Johnson.
The decision comes 11 days after the video began circulating on the Internet.
A state Office of Educator Misconduct investigator has accused Winters-Johnson of “grabbing, hitting in the head and dragging of a special-needs student during P.E. class at Greenville High School” around Sept. 21. The commission on Nov. 4 will decide whether to suspend or revoke her special education teaching license.
Police have said they are investigating, but have filed no charges.
The Associated Press could not find a phone number for Winters-Johnson.
Information from: Delta Democrat-Times, http://www.ddtonline.com
WASHINGTON (AP) — Even if you’re not a champion speller, there’s a way to win a trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
For the second straight year, Scripps has launched its “Spellebrity” video contest.
Students who enter will produce videos about their love of reading. A panel of judges will pick the best 10 videos, and a public vote will determine the top five. The kids who make those videos will be invited to next year’s bee, which will be held late May at a convention center outside Washington.
This year’s contest was launched earlier to encourage more participation. Teams of up to four students have until Jan. 31 to submit videos.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Some NFL teams are going old school to find ways around a league policy that prohibits team social media accounts from sharing their own highlight videos.
Sports Illustrated reported earlier this month that the NFL is strictly limiting its teams from sharing their own video or animated graphics of highlights. The teams are limited to reposting video from the NFL’s accounts. SI reports a league memo said teams can be fined up to $100,000 for multiple infractions.
With that in mind, the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns got creative on their Twitter accounts Sunday. The Browns used a video of toy football players to celebrate on Twitter after a touchdown. The Eagles used a similar video to show an interception, complete with a homemade sign.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Hard-liners in Iran posted a video online Monday showing a detained Iranian-American businessman for the first time since his arrest in the country a year ago, a taunting challenge to the United States in the wake of the nuclear deal with Tehran.
The minute-long video featuring Siamak Namazi, dubbed over with what sounded like a dramatic film score, highlighted recent tensions between the Islamic Republic and the U.S.
It also comes as hard-liners in Iran’s security forces continue to target dual nationals and anyone with Western ties after the nuclear deal negotiated by the moderate administration of President Hassan Rouhani.
The montage of clips includes an Iranian drone flying over a U.S. aircraft carrier and American sailors on their knees after being briefly detained by Iran in January. It shows Namazi’s U.S. passport, his United Arab Emirates ID card and a clip of him in a conference room, his arms raised at his sides.
At the end of the video, it shows a still image of U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, a California Republican who chairs the House’s Foreign Affairs Committee. It quotes a statement by Royce from last year describing Namazi’s arrest as “latest show of contempt for America.”
A request for comment to Royce was not immediately answered early Monday.
It wasn’t clear why hard-liners chose to release the video, which was posted online Monday by Iran’s state-run Mizan judicial news agency. However, it comes as Namazi, who earlier advocated for closer ties between Iran and the U.S., faces his one-year anniversary of being detained in Iran.
Namazi is a son of Baquer Namazi, a former UNICEF representative who once served as governor of Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province under the U.S.-backed shah. His father was arrested after apparently being lured to Iran over his son’s detention.
The two were not released as part of a January deal that freed detained Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian and three other Iranian-Americans in exchange for pardons or charges being dropped against seven Iranians.
That deal also saw the U.S. make a $400 million cash delivery to Iran.
Analysts and family members of those detained in Iran have suggested Iran wants to negotiate another deal with the West to free those held. In September, Iran freed a retired Canadian-Iranian university professor amid negotiations to reopen embassies in the two nations.
Iran does not recognize dual nationalities, meaning those detained cannot receive consular assistance. In most cases, dual nationals have faced secret charges in closed-door hearings in Iran’s Revolutionary Court, which handles cases involving alleged attempts to overthrow the government.
Others with Western ties recently detained in Iran include:
— Robin Shahini , an Iranian-American detained while visiting family who previously had made online comments criticizing Iran’s human rights record;
— Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe , a British-Iranian woman sentenced to five years in prison on allegations of planning the “soft toppling” of Iran’s government while traveling with her young daughter; and
— Nizar Zakka , a U.S. permanent resident from Lebanon recently sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $4.2 million fine.
Still missing is former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who vanished in Iran in 2007 while on an unauthorized CIA mission.
Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellap. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/jon-gambrell .