Saturday, May 21, 2022
Saturday, May 21, 2022

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020 & 2021 Award Winners

Rittenhouse Trial: Maurice Freeland Suspected of Being ‘Jump Kick Man’

Maurice Freeland, a felon with a long criminal history and an open domestic violence charge, is accused of being the mysterious supposedly unidentified man known as “Jump Kick Man” during the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

Wisconsin Right Now has learned from a law enforcement source in a position to know that prosecutors informed the Rittenhouse defense team only last Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, as the trial came to an end, that Freeland had come forward claiming to be Jump Kick Man.

Freeland is listed as being in the custody of the Kenosha County Jail as of Nov. 16, 2021. His most recent booking is listed as a probation hold with no bond.

Maurice freeland

It’s not clear when Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger and his boss, DA Mike Graveley, first learned about Freeland’s claims, the source said. Clearly, it would be a much bigger issue if the prosecution knew his identity for longer because the defense might have wanted to call or cross-examine him or track him down and vet the story; Wisconsin Right Now wrote Graveley and Binger and asked them for comment, and neither wrote back.

Our source added additional details, saying that authorities were unable to do effective facial recognition analysis to prove definitively that Freeland was Jump Kick Man because videos and photos don’t show enough of his face, partly because he was masked.

Maurice freeland jump kick man
Jump kick man

WISN 1130 talk radio host Dan O’Donnell first broke the story that prosecutors had identified Jump Kick Man, although he chose not to name him. Our source then provided his name and gave additional details, also confirming O’Donnell’s account that prosecutors told the defense team that Freeland allegedly wanted immunity for an ongoing criminal case, which prosecutor Thomas Binger didn’t grant.

Maurice Freeland was on the streets the night of the Rittenhouse shootings less than two months after getting a plea deal and probation in a domestic abuse case. Binger referred to the men who attacked Rittenhouse as people stopping an “active shooter.”

Jump Kick Man, who delivered a flying kick to Rittenhouse’s head after Rittenhouse fell to the ground, a move caught in some of the most searing imagery in the case, supposedly remained unidentified until the end of the trial; the jury instructions, which charge Rittenhouse with endangering his life, refer to him as an “unknown man.”

Maurice freeland
This is a photo from april 2021 of freeland from facebook.

See the reference to him in jury instructions here:

Maurice freeland jump kick man

Jump Kick Man – as he was referred to by all parties in the court – was never named in court, and he was not called to the stand. The jury went into deliberations thinking his identity was “unknown.” The Rittenhouse jury deliberated for a day without reaching a verdict, concluding at about 5:45 p.m. on Nov. 16, 2021. They will resume deliberations Wednesday morning.

In closing arguments, which took place after our source says Binger told the defense that Freeland claims to be Jump Kick Man, Binger described him this way: “This man that the defense wants to call Jump Kick Man, he’s got no weapons, no gun, no knife, no nothing, comes in and tries to kick the defendant in the face.”

At another spot in closing arguments, Binger told the jury, “And these folks that are coming at him, the Jump Kick Man, Anthony Huber, aren’t armed, they’re not a credible imminent threat to his life…He saw the defendant shoot at Jump Kick Man at close range, miraculously missing… He (Rittenhouse) put jump kick man’s life in jeopardy.

Maurice freeland

Defense attorney Mark Richards, in closing arguments, said, “Count three, Jump Kick Man, the uncomplaining unidentified witness in count three…Jump kick man comes in, kicks him in the face, spins his body 180 degrees…Even Gaige Grosskreutz said he was concerned about the blows that Jump Kick Man and Anthony Huber were inflicting on Kyle’s head…We saw video earlier of this individual starting the Duramax on fire right here, jump kick man.” He came up multiple times in both closing arguments but never by name.

Freeland has several Facebook pages. His most recent is in the name of Maurice Gohard Freeland and says he also goes by the name King Reese. It doesn’t have much on it that’s visible. Both prosecutors in the case, Thomas Binger and James Kraus, handled some of his previous court hearings on other charges, and he has appeared before Judge Bruce Schroeder in a past case also, according to court records.

Maurice freeland

He’s no stranger to the DA’s office – including Rittenhouse’s prosecution team – or the system.

Maurice freeland

We hit the streets of Racine and Kenosha, Wisconsin, on the night of November 16, 2021, knocking on the doors of four addresses attached to Freeland and his soon-to-be ex-wife to see if we could learn more. Freeland has long ties to Kenosha. One address was only a block from the courthouse and a few blocks from the Rittenhouse shooting scenes; it was listed as his current address in a small claims case as of November 15, 2021. No one appeared home, and two men hanging out in a nearby yard didn’t know who he was.

Maurice freeland jump kick manOn the afternoon of Nov. 16, the jail’s inmate database was down for maintenance, so we called the jail. A jail official said they couldn’t look him up because their computer was down but that he wasn’t in jail the day before. Our source said he might be out of state now. However, the jail inmate database went back up later in the day on Nov. 16, and he’s now listed as being in custody.

We will continue trying to get his side of the story (if you know Maurice Freeland, write us at [email protected]).

A man who lived at one of the homes for three years said the residence had a new door because the last one was kicked in because a “drug dealer” had lived there, but he didn’t recognize Freeland’s name. A woman at a Racine address attached to him in recent court records said she wasn’t in contact with him anymore, and she wouldn’t open the door of her home, which had a Black Lives Matter sticker on the window. At first, she didn’t seem surprised to hear he’s being accused of being Jump Kick Man, but then she said she didn’t know anything about it. Through social media, we wrote Maurice Freeland, his soon-to-be ex-wife, a woman close to him, but received no response.

Maurice Freeland has open charges for drunk driving with a passenger under 16, disorderly conduct with a domestic abuse modifier, and marijuana possession. The case was filed in June 2021, in Kenosha County. He’s out on a $1,500 signature bond. Court records say he was in court for a status conference in that case on October 29, 2021, and he had just been released from custody.

Jump Kick Man

Jump Kick Man is a critical figure because Rittenhouse is facing a serious charge relating to allegedly shooting at, and missing, him. His attorneys argue that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense. Rittenhouse shot and killed Anthony Huber a few seconds later; Huber was hitting him with a skateboard and trying to grab his gun when he opened fire. Then, Gaige Grosskreutz, per his own testimony, moved toward Rittenhouse while pointing a gun at him, and Rittenhouse shot him.

During opening statements, Binger called him “the unknown individual.”

During opening statements, Binger said this about Jump Kick Man: “An individual who is the subject of count number two, the unknown individual, runs in at that point and attempts to kick the defendant in the face while the defendant is on the ground. This unknown individual is unarmed. The defendant, in response, points his AR-15 directly at this individual as this individual is literally flying over his body, and discharges that gun twice.”

In the case shortly before the Rittenhouse shootings, Maurice Freeland was convicted of domestic abuse battery, a misdemeanor. Other charges were dismissed or read in, in exchange for his guilty plea in a plea agreement. Binger was the attorney for the state at his March 23, 2020, initial appearance. On June 29, 2020, Judge Mary Kay Wagner sentence Maurice Freeland to 12 months probation.

That was less than two months before the Rittenhouse shootings.

There was a probation review hearing on March 11, 2021. He was kept on probation with DV programming by Judge David Wilk. His probation was extended six months.

His probation was revoked on August 16, 2021, and he was sentenced to seven months in the Kenosha County Jail with Huber privileges and 77 days credit.

In 2018, he was cited for disorderly conduct in Kenosha County, and, in 2017 and 2016, he was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct, also in Kenosha County.

There was a petition for child support filed against him in 2016. Court records, in that case, refer to him being in custody.

He has several past evictions.

Maurice Freeland’s Criminal Record

  • In 2013, he was convicted of THC possession as a repeater, a felony, and misdemeanor obstructing an officer, as a repeater. He received local jail time.
  • In 2010, he had another forfeiture for disorderly conduct in a different court.
  • In 2009, he was convicted of taking and driving a car without owner’s consent, a felony, and obstructing an officer as a repeater, a misdemeanor.
  • He was subjected to a paternity case in 2009.
  • In 2008, he was convicted of felony escape.
  • In 2008, he was also convicted of two felony counts of misappropriating ID.
  • In 2007 and in 2003, he was convicted of misdemeanor THC possession.
  • He was convicted of escape, a felony, in 2000.
  • Read his Kenosha County jail history here.
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Stock Market Flirts With Bear Market; Americans Fear Recession

(The Center Square) – The stock market came back from a midday drop on Friday, the day ending with the S&P 500 Index 18.6% below the record high set in early January.

A bear market would have begun if the decline reached 20%.

The stock market tumble is a continuation from declines earlier this week, a week that saw record high gas prices continue to rise. Other contributing factors in the index most closely associated with workers 401(k) accounts are rising interest rates, inflation, the war in Ukraine and China's economy.

“Since 1928, the S&P 500 has had 1 bear market every 4 years on average,” Charlie Bilello, founder of Compound Capital Advisors, wrote on Twitter. “With the S&P down 20% from its peak in January, this is now the 3rd bear market we've experienced in less than 4 years.”

New polling shows the majority of Americans expect a recession as energy prices and inflation continue to soar. Quinnipiac University released new polling this week that showed most Americans are pessimistic about the nation’s economic future.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans (85 percent) think it is either very likely (45 percent) or somewhat likely (40 percent) that there will be an economic recession in the next year, while 12 percent think it is either not so likely (8 percent) or not likely at all (4 percent),” the poll said.

Overall, Americans did not think the economy was doing well before the stock market declines this week.

“Roughly 1 in 5 Americans (19 percent) say the state of the nation's economy these days is either excellent (2 percent) or good (17 percent), while 4 in 5 Americans (80 percent) say it's either not so good (34 percent) or poor (46 percent),” the poll reported. “This is Americans' most negative description of the state of the nation's economy in a Quinnipiac University poll since President Biden took office.”

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Justice Clarence Thomas: ‘We Are in Danger of Destroying The Institutions … Required For a Free Society’

(The Center Square) – It’s been two weeks and there’s still no word on who leaked the U.S. Supreme Court draft brief indicating that the court was set to overturn Roe V. Wade and returning the issue of abortion back to the states.

At a recent event in Dallas, Texas, hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution, and the Manhattan Institute, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke about the leak and his concern for the rule of law and credibility of the court.

A roughly 8-minute clip of his talk was published by C-SPAN, in which he said, “I think we are in danger of destroying the institutions that are required for a free society. You can’t have a civil society, a free society without a stable legal system.

“You can’t have one without stability in things like property or interpretation and impartial judiciary. I’ve been in this business long enough to know just how fragile it is.”

Prior to the draft opinion being leaked this year, Thomas said it was impossible to think that even one line of one opinion would be leaked by anyone.

“No one would ever do that,” he said. “There’s such a belief in the rule of law, belief in the court, belief in what we were doing, that that was beyond anyone’s understanding or at least anyone's imagination, that someone would do that.”

Now, “look where we are,” he said. “That trust and belief is gone forever. When you lose that trust, especially in the institution that I’m in, it changes the institution fundamentally. You begin to look over your shoulder. It's like kind of an infidelity, that you can explain it, but you can't undo it.”

New York University professor Melissa Murray holds a similar sentiment. She told the New York Times last week that the leak “violates the omertà that traditionally has shrouded the court’s deliberations. To the public, this not only looks like the kind of maneuvering that we’ve come to expect from politicians, it also strips the court of the mystique it has generally enjoyed.”

Meanwhile, Chief Justice John Roberts’ reputation is also at stake. He has a lot riding on whether or not the leaker is identified and punished, Dan McLaughlin at National Review Online notes.

“John Roberts’s Court is at stake here,” he argues. “If decisions can be leaked in draft form with impunity in order to influence their outcomes, this will become a regular feature of high-profile cases, placing the Court under even worse pressures and threats than already exist.”

The Supreme Court isn’t the only institution that’s changing, Thomas said. Universities, colleges, law schools have all changed over the last few decades. Today, the climate on most campuses doesn’t allow for peaceful debate of differing views, instead policies of censorship are creating a “chilling effect” on speech.

He recently met with students attending the University of Georgia, where he said students expressed that they can’t publicly affirm pro-life or traditional family views because of the climate on campus.

At Yale Law School, his alma mater, students could once freely speak about anything, “it was anything goes, you do your thing I do my thing,” he said. Now. there’s censorship, he said.

"I wonder how long we're going to have these institutions at the rate we're undermining them,” Thomas said. “And then I wonder when they're gone or they are destabilized, what we'll have as a country – and I don't think that the prospects are good if we continue to lose them."

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(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden's Department of Homeland Security "Disinformation Governance Board" has been put on hold after quickly falling into controversy, according to media reports.

The Washington Post on Wednesday reported a pause for the board, which DHS head Alejandro Mayorkas announced at a Congressional hearing last month.

Mayorkas told lawmakers the board would use federal law enforcement power to address disinformation. He gave the examples of bad information given to migrants as well as Russian disinformation.

"The goal is to bring the resources of (DHS) together to address this threat," he said before Congress in April.

Soon after, videos emerged online showing the woman tapped to lead the board, Nina Jankowicz, making a series of controversial comments. News outlets reported her resignation Wednesday.

Critics also raised concerns about how such a board could be used to silence free speech. Several lawmakers took issue with the board.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., posted a video on Twitter saying the “Soviet-style censorship agency” is evidence “the Marxist left are coming after your most basic constitutional rights.

“A lot of people don’t know this, but the Department of Homeland Security just set up a new office that’s going to be a speech police,” Rubio said after the board was announced. "They’re basically going to be focused on misinformation … so instead of the Department of Homeland Security focused on stopping drugs from coming into America or securing the border, stopping illegal immigration, they’re not going to be focused on that. They’re focused on policing speech, on making sure that people cannot share information or say things that they decide is misinformation."

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Stocks Tank After Target & Walmart Earnings Plummet Because of Rising Fuel Costs, Inflation

(The Center Square) – Stocks tanked Wednesday after major retailers’ earnings reports were down significantly because of inflation, sparking a selling frenzy. Wall Street closed with the largest drop in one day since March 2020.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average drop of nearly 1,200 points was the ninth-largest single-day drop in U.S. history, Seeking Alpha reports.

The stock market began to tank by midday. By noon EST, NASDAQ was down 400 points and the DJIA was down by 800 points. Then the DJIA dropped by roughly 1,100 points after 2pm EST and closed with a near 1,200-point loss.

The market closed with the DJIA down by 3.6%, the S&P 500 down by 4% and the Nasdaq down by 4.7%.

Overall, the DJIA dropped 1,164.52 points, closing at 31,490.07. The S&P 500 dropped 165.17 points, closing at 3,923.68. The Nasdaq dropped 566.37 points, closing at 11,418.15.

Panic set in after major retail corporations like Target and Walmart reported earnings losses. Apple and Microsoft also led big tech losses.

Target shares were down by nearly 25% after reporting first-quarter results that fell far below Wall Street forecasts. Its second-quarter outlook was also weaker than expected with its quarterly gross margin dropping from 30% to 25.7%.

“We were less profitable than we expected to be or intend to be over time,” Target Chief Executive Brian Cornell said, Reuters reported. “These (costs) continue to grow almost on a daily basis and there is no sign right now … that it is going to abate over time.”

Rising fuel and freight costs will add nearly $1 billion more than originally expected in annual cost, Target said.

Wal-Mart stock fell nearly 7% after it also reported a weaker-than-expected financial outlook. It also said it was grappling with rising fuel costs and inflation eating into its profits.

Apple stock fell 5.6%, Intel lost 4.6%, Microsoft lost nearly 5% and HP dropped 7%.

Companies reporting earnings losses cited rising fuel and freight costs as primary factors.

These, coupled with supply chain issues, caused transportation costs to skyrocket in the first quarter. While companies passed on increased costs to consumers, consumers weren’t buying enough to offset company losses.

“Worries over inflation and a hawkish Fed are nothing new, but now add in worries over profit margins and the impact of inflation on the consumer and you have the recipe for a big down day,” Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at LPL Financial, said, The Hill reported.

Normally, a drop in consumer demand would force companies to drop prices and subsequently reduce inflation. But supply chain issues, coupled with Biden administration energy policies restricting domestic production of oil and gas, are leading causes of prices skyrocketing across the board.

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(The Center Square) – Republicans at the Wisconsin Capitol are not happy with the new choice for chancellor at UW-Madison.

Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, who is the vice chairman of the Senate’s committee for universities and technical colleges, called Dr. Jennifer Mnookin a “ridiculous choice.”

“Jennifer Mnookin has a very clear history of advocating for the forced indoctrination of college students with critical race theory. She has openly supported mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations regardless of the rights of individuals to make that healthcare determination for themselves.,” Nass said Monday. “It has also been reported that Mnookin met with the scandal plagued Hunter Biden (in 2019) and supported him joining the UCLA faculty to instruct students on drug policies.”

UW Regents unanimously chose Mnookin, who is currently the dean at UCLA’s law school. They announced her selection on Monday.

Nass said the Republican-controlled legislature should take Mnookin’s appointment as a message from the university.

“If the Board of Regents truly believes that Mnookin is the best choice, then the next Republican governor and legislature should find it impossible to provide more taxpayer dollars or allow the board to increase tuition,” Nass added.

UW Regent Karen Walsh told reporters Tuesday that she doesn’t take that threat seriously.

“I don’t think that’s realistic,” Walsh said. “I would like for those folks to meet with Chancellor Mnookin before they threaten our funding. I don’t think they intend to do that. I think they’re much more interested in sitting in a room with us and talking about our differences.”

Mnookin told the same news conference that she is waiting to get to campus, so she can meet with everyone involved with the university.

"I look forward to arriving in Madison and looking for that common ground, and higher education is a place where I hope we can come together,” Mnookin added.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Monday pushed regents to take a look at another chancellor candidate.

“We deserve campus leaders who will encourage healthy debate, diverse thoughts and freedom of expression. Given her obvious viewpoints and political donations, Dr. Mnookin needs to prove she supports free speech on campus and not politically correct ideologies,” Vos said. “After all the work of Tommy Thompson and Rebecca Blank that attempted to strengthen relationships between the university and the Legislature, this is a step backwards. I strongly hope the Board of Regents will reconsider their selection.”

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(The Center Square) – Gasoline prices hit a new high in the U.S. on Monday, with the average cost of a gallon of regular gas at $4.48.

That's an increase of 15 cents a gallon in the past week and 40 cents over this time last month. A year ago, gas prices on average were $3.04 a gallon, $1.44 cheaper.

The average price for a gallon of diesel fuel is at $5.57 a gallon, also a record high. Diesel fuel is used by truckers who transport goods across the country, contributing to 40-year-high inflation that's sending the prices of groceries and other commodities significantly higher.

In California, the average price of a gallon of gasoline is $5.98, highest in the U.S.

President Joe Biden has attempted to blame the rising cost of gasoline on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but prices began elevating shortly after he took office, when he canceled new oil and gas leases on federal lands and placed new restrictions on the industry.

Just last week, Biden canceled three pending oil and gas drilling leases in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

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Republican Candidates Promise Tough On Crime Approach After Deer District Shootings

(The Center Square) – The Republicans running for governor in Wisconsin are promising more cops, more prisons, and say they'll fire prosecutors who don’t get tough on crime after a violent weekend in Milwaukee that saw more than two dozen people shot.

Milwaukee Police say Friday night’s shootings near the Deer District wounded 21 people. Another of those shootings saw 17 people shot. A string of shootings on Sunday saw another five people shot, including two people who died.

Monday saw the Republicans running for governor promising to get tougher on crime if elected.

“The simple points are to put 1,000 more cops on the street. Bail and sentencing reform to stop these bad D.A.’s and these bad judges. Fire [Milwaukee County] District Attorney John Chisholm on day one. And use the Wisconsin State Patrol to surge where violent crime is surging,” frontrunner Rebecca Kleefisch told News Talk 1130 WISN’s Jay Weber Monday morning.

Kleefisch said under Democratic leadership the Deer District has become the “fear district.”

Republican Tim Michels is also promising to fire Milwaukee County’s district attorney. But he is also promising to fire other prosecutors across the state who don’t get tougher on crime.

“I will review all the D.A.s, and the ones who have an awful pattern of catch-and-release, dropping charges quickly, and letting guys out on the street, I will remove them from office,” Michels told Weber.

Michels also said he wants to build more prisons in the state, starting with a replacement for the maximum security prison in Green Bay.

Candidate Kevin Nicholson took to Twitter on Sunday to blast Chisholm and the leadership in Milwaukee.

“Twenty one shot on Friday; 3 murdered last night. Out of control car thefts. Record-breaking homicides,” Nicholson Tweeted. “We’re sick of it. Time to turn the page. We need new leaders who are serious about getting this back on track.”

Crime and public safety have been issues in the race for governor since day one. Republicans have blamed Gov. Tony Evers for the spike in violent crime during his time in office, including record years for both shootings and homicides in Milwaukee for the past two years.

The governor on Saturday offered thoughts and prayers, but didn’t offer any plans after Milwaukee’s violent weekend.

“Kathy and I are heartbroken by last night’s horrific acts of gun violence in Milwaukee. We are thinking of all the people who were injured and are praying for their full recovery, and we are thinking of the many people affected by this senseless tragedy,” the governor Tweeted.

Baby Formula Crisis Illegal Immigrants Getting Baby Formula

FDA Launches Investigation Into Baby Formula Crisis

(The Center Square) – The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Monday the agency will investigate the national shortage of baby formula that has left American parents concerned and frustrated.

The shortage began last year but was exacerbated after problems at a baby formula plant in Sturgis, Michigan, leading the company Abbott to issue a recall on formula and shut down production in February. FDA Commissioner Robert Califf told NBC in an interview Monday that there will be a “full investigation” after a whistleblower report said there were problems at that factory in October, but an FDA inspector did not look into the issue until January.

“We always want to be as fast as we can possibly be while also being diligent, remembering, as shown by this example, that if we didn’t close the plant, then we have a supply shortage so we have to get this right,” Califf said in the interview. "There will be a full investigation of the timeline, and we'll do everything possible to correct any errors in timing that we had so that we don't repeat any mistakes that may have been made."

Also Monday, Abbott said it has reached a federal consent decree with the FDA that could allow its Sturgis plant to resume production in two weeks. It would take about six to eight weeks after that for the baby formula to be available to consumers.

The data company Datasembly reported that as of the week ending May 8, the national out of stock rate for baby formula hit 43%. The company said the product was already experiencing supply issues last year before the larger issues arose.

“This issue has been compounded by supply chain challenges, product recalls and historic inflation," Datasembly CEO Ben Reich said. "The category started to see stocking challenges beginning in July 2021, and the situation has continued to worsen into 2022."

Critics have blasted the Biden administration for its response to the shortage, which has left many parents scrambling to find formula. Biden came under fire for his response to a question from a reporter asking if he should have acted more quickly to address the baby formula shortage.

“If we’d been better mind readers, I guess we could have, but we moved as quickly as the problem became apparent to us and we have to move with caution as well as fear,” Biden said.

Those comments sparked controversy and led critics to point out the recall was issued in February, giving several months to anticipate the shortage.

“I’ve been calling on the Biden admin to address America’s baby formula shortage since February,” U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., wrote on Twitter. “They did nothing.”

The Biden administration said it is working with suppliers to help solve the shortage.

"We're very close to having a path forward to safely reopening the facility," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Republicans blasted Biden for the shortage, saying his efforts have been too little too late.

“In typical fashion, the Biden administration downplayed the baby formula shortage for months,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said. “Now that it's a crisis, they're pointing the finger at anyone but themselves.”

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