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California Democrat, and #MeToo activist, allegedly urged staffers to play ‘spin the bottle’: report

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A California Democrat who was featured in Time magazine’s Person of the Year issue for her role in the anti-sexual harassment “#MeToo” movement allegedly urged staffers to play the grade-school classic, “spin the bottle,” after a night of heavy drinking at a fundraiser, Politico reported Sunday.

David John Kernick, 38, who worked in Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia’s office for five months in 2014, filed a formal complaint with the state, claiming that he was dismissed from his job for questioning the game.

Kernick told Politico that they played the game after an evening of heavy drinking. Garcia sat on a floor in a hotel room with about six people that included staff, he told the magazine.

“It was definitely uncomfortable,’’ Kernick said. “But I realized it’s different for a man than for a woman. … You know it’s inappropriate, but at the same time you may wonder, ‘How many women do you work for that act like that?’ You think … ’Maybe she’s just really cool.’’’

Last week, Garcia was hit with fresh allegations of misconduct in her office, including frequent discussions about sex and alcohol consumption at the Capitol.

San Diego lawyer Dan Gilleon filed a formal complaint with the Legislature detailing the allegations on behalf of four anonymous former employees in Garcia’s office.

He said they will cooperate with an investigation but do not want their names to be public at this time for fear of retribution.

The complainants allege that Garcia regularly talked about her sexual activity, including with other members, in front of staff. They also allege Garcia drank alcohol while doing official Assembly business and pressured staff to join her in drinking at the office or at bars.

The allegations came as Garcia is on a leave of absence following news she is being investigated in the groping of a former male legislative staff member in 2014.

None of the new complaints involve sexual misconduct, but Gilleon said the former employees considered Garcia’s frequent talk about sex a form sexual harassment.

“My clients will vigorously defend what they have said, but I will insist that the Assembly takes serious steps to ensure their protection against reprisal,” Gilleon said in a letter he delivered to the Assembly Rules Committee after a press conference on the Capitol steps.

Garcia, in a Facebook post, said she will address each of the issues individually once an investigation has been completed. But she said the claims don’t square with the atmosphere she worked to create. Her current and former chiefs of staff denied the behaviors described in the letter.

“I am confident I have consistently treated my staff fairly and respectfully. In a fast-paced legislative office, not everyone is the right fit for every position, and I do understand how a normal employment decision could be misinterpreted by the individual involved in that decision,” Garcia wrote.

Garcia took a leave of absence Friday after news broke that Daniel Fierro, a former staffer in another office, alleged she rubbed his back, grabbed his buttocks and tried to grab his groin at a legislative softball game in 2014. She denies the claims.

The allegations against Garcia mark a stunning twist to the California Legislature’s widening sexual harassment scandal that first broke open last fall and prompted two male assemblymen to resign. Garcia, a Democrat who represents southeast Los Angeles, chaired the Legislative Women’s Caucus until Wednesday, when her colleagues installed Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Eggman of Stockton, as the interim chair.

Garcia has been one of the most vocal critics against her colleagues and a staunch advocate of the #MeToo movement. She has authored numerous bills about sexual assault, activity and consent.

Tim Reardon, Garcia’s former chief of staff, said he never heard or was told that Garcia was discussing her sexual activities in the office. He said alcohol is occasionally present at the Capitol but drinking is never excessive.

“There are times in a lot of offices where someone will have wine or that nature,” he said. “But there has never been excessive drinking like it’s some kind of drinking party.”

The letter also alleges Garcia asked her staff to perform personal duties, such as taking care of her dogs, as well as campaign activities for her and other lawmakers. It alleges Garcia was “vindictive” toward staff and frequently disparaged other lawmakers.

Ashley Labar, her current chief of staff, denied the allegations.

“I’ve never seen the member engage in the behavior listed in the letter by Mr. Gilleon,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Brexit panic: UK warned 'US is IRISH' and no trade deal to thwart EU nation will be made

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BREXIT negotiators were warned that the “US is Irish” and that any future trade deals between Washington and the UK would not “thwart Ireland or the EU”, unearthed accounts reveal.

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Ex-Pence aide Olivia Troye assails Trump’s coronavirus response

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WASHINGTON — Olivia Troye, who played a key role in the Trump administration’s coronavirus response as an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, says that President Donald Trump is “not actually looking out for” Americans in his handling of the pandemic.

In an interview with NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell, Troye spoke about Trump “undermining” guidelines developed by the White House’s coronavirus task force.

She cited, for example, the president’s decision to hold a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the height of the pandemic during the summer, where he didn’t follow the advice of experts on protective measures, such as wearing a mask.

“He’s not actually looking out for you,” Troye said. “He’s not looking out for these people. He’s not looking out for them. He just wants you in that audience so he can have the camera shot of, you know, his fanfare and the people around him. But the truth is, he’s putting those lives at risk.”

For more on this story, watch NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. CT.

Troye left the White House in July and announced publicly last week that she planned to vote for Trump’s opponent, Democratic nominee Joe Biden, for president. She had worked as a homeland security and counterterrorism aide to Pence for two years and served as his adviser on the coronavirus task force.

Troye said it was “very challenging” working on the task force because “suddenly the course of what we were doing had changed because that wasn’t really what the president wanted.”

“It’s very hard when you’re trying to actually base things on facts and science and on the data to have a president that wasn’t focused on that,” she said. “He was really focused on public image, messaging and it was really more about, you know, his personal agenda than really the agenda that the task force had at hand, which was how are we going to save and protect Americans.”

Troye said it was “embarrassing” when Trump suggested that people inject themselves with disinfectant to help combat Covid-19 and she confirmed that Trump said in the Situation Room, “’You know, when you’re a politician, you have to shake a lotta hands. You have to shake a lotta hands. And these people are disgusting. It’s gross. And so maybe COVID — COVID’s probably a good thing, right? I don’t have to shake hands. I don’t have to do that anymore.'”

“I can’t believe you would even say that out loud,” she said. “These people are suffering right now and you’re worried about or you’re happy about the fact that you don’t have to touch them anymore.”

Troye said that toward the end of her tenure, she increasingly saw interference in scientific reports from political public affairs people, saying, “There was a lot of political pressure internally to word things in the right way.”

Ultimately, the coronavirus is “not gone,” despite the president saying the U.S. is rounding the final turn, Troye said.

“We just hit 200,000 deaths. It’s not going away,” she said.



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BBC host loses it with Gove over UK's latest coronavirus rules: 'You didn't answer me!'

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MICHAEL GOVE was involved in a fierce clash regarding the UK Government’s latest coronavirus rules with the BBC’s Mishal Husain.

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