Trump Courthouse Incident, Sidney Powell’s Victory, RNC’s 2024 Strategy, and Planned Parenthood Controversy

Good morning, and welcome to The Epoch Times News Brief for Saturday, April 20, 2024. I’m Bill Thomas, and today, we’re diving into some urgent topics, which in
Trump Courthouse Incident, Sidney Powell’s Victory, RNC’s 2024 Strategy, and Planned Parenthood Controversy
Fire extinguishers (R) are left at the park across from Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City after a man reportedly set himself on fire during the trial of US President Donald Trump, in New York City on April 19, 2024. A man set himself on fire Friday outside the court, New York police said, with officers rushing to extinguish the flames. TV reporters described the scene that unfolded moments after the full panel of 12 jurors and six alternates was selected for the trial of the former president in a hush money cover-up case. (ANGELA WEISS / AFP)
Bill Thomas

Good morning, and welcome to The Epoch Times News Brief for Saturday, April 20, 2024. I’m Bill Thomas, and today, we’re diving into some urgent topics, which include a shocking self-immolation near the Trump trial courthouse, certain controversial abortion statistics, the RNC’s plans for election integrity in 2024, and a thwarted school shooting plot in Maryland. In our last story, we'll share with you the reasons behind yesterday’s sudden 911 outages.

Let’s get started with our first big story for today: a man sets himself on fire outside the Manhattan courthouse where former President Donald Trump’s trial is taking place.

Man Sets Himself on Fire Outside Trump Trial Courthouse

On Friday, a man lit himself on fire in a park opposite a Manhattan courthouse. The self-immolation incident took place just minutes after the full jury was selected in President Trump’s trial.

Disturbing video footage captures the man engulfed in flames while onlookers desperately cry out for help. Emergency responders swiftly arrived at the scene, including several police officers. They extinguished the fire quickly and transported the severely injured man to the hospital.

New York Police Department said at a press conference later in the day that the man has been identified as Max Azzarello. He is still in hospital, where he remains in critical condition, according to the police.

A sign found at the scene reads: “Trump is with Biden and they’re about to fascist coup us.” The sign is believed to be associated with the man who set himself on fire.

The police said that Mr. Azzarello pulled out some pamphlets before setting himself on fire, which they described as “almost like a conspiracy theory type pamphlet.”

Self-immolation incidents are rare in the United States, with about three dozen cases since the 1960s.

The police said at the press conference that the incident is being investigated.

The incident happened just across the courthouse where President Trump faces a criminal trial. However, it’s unclear if the incident was related to the former president’s trial at all.

Now, we'll move on to see a significant legal victory made by Sidney Powell.

Sidney Powell Handed Win After Judges Dismiss Disciplinary Effort by Texas State Bar

Sidney Powell, an attorney who filed lawsuits after the 2020 election, successfully defended herself in a Texas case where an appeals court found that the Texas bar could not prove that she engaged in misconduct or fraud.

A panel of judges on the Fifth District of Texas Court of Appeals in Dallas ruled Wednesday that the state bar’s arguments lacked merit and evidence. They also criticized the state bar prosecutors for their disorganized handling of the case.

Ms. Powell refuted the allegations that she submitted altered evidence, and the court seemed to support her defense.

A previous court had also pointed out flaws in the evidence provided by the State Bar of Texas Commission for Lawyer Discipline.

The commission has not yet commented on the decision of the appeals court.

Ms. Powell was among the most prominent lawyers to file lawsuits challenging election results in critical states. In 2023, she pleaded guilty in Georgia and accepted a plea agreement.

President Trump, who has also been charged in the case, dismissed the charges as unfounded.

Now, let’s have a look at the Republican National Committee’s endeavoring efforts for the 2024 elections. Let’s see what they are doing.

RNC Seeks to Deploy 100,000 Election Integrity Workers Ahead of 2024 Elections

The Republican National Committee (RNC) said that it will recruit over 100,000 volunteers and attorneys to ensure the integrity of the 2024 election.

In a statement on April 19, the RNC said that its “legal team will be working tirelessly to ensure that elections officials follow the rules in administering elections.”

The RNC also said that it plans to take legal action against Democrats if they violate election laws or attempt to make last-minute rule changes.

According to the statement, the RNC has filed 82 election integrity lawsuits in 25 states so far.

RNC co-chair Lara Trump said that the RNC is now in the process of hiring “hundreds of election integrity staff” and recruiting “thousands of more observers” to safeguard the voting process in 2024. She said in the statement: “Every ballot. Every precinct. Every processing center. Every county. Every battleground state. We will be there.”

These staff members and observers will focus on identifying potential issues at polling sites and ballot tabulation centers. The program will also include testing the accuracy and reliability of voting machines, early voting, Election Day voting, and post-election auditing.

RNC-affiliated attorneys will be stationed at specific processing centers, and battleground states will have an election integrity hotline available.

Additionally, the RNC has appointed Christina Bobb, formerly a lawyer working with President Trump’s Save America political action committee, as a senior counsel for election integrity. She is the author of the book “Stealing Your Vote.” It alleges the 2020 election had fraud and manipulation.

The RNC and the Trump campaign are working closely to enhance their fundraising efforts, having already collected over $65 million in donations in March.

Our next topic is about shocking abortion statistics of one single American abortion provider.

Planned Parenthood Abortions Among ‘Top Four Leading Causes of Death’ in America

Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States, said in its 2022–2023 annual report that it performed nearly 400,000 abortions during the period.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America group, criticized the service provider for the huge number of abortions, saying that the abortions performed by Planned Parenthood were among the top four causes of death nationally, following heart disease, cancer, and COVID-19.

The organization also criticized Planned Parenthood for failing to provide alternatives to pregnant women, who are “sold an abortion 97% of the time, rather than helped to keep their child or make an adoption plan.”

According to Michael New, a social scientist and senior associate scholar at Charlotte Lozier Institute, the number of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood was a record for the organization, representing around 40 percent of total abortions performed in the United States, while its provision of other health services has declined.

Over the last decade, Planned Parenthood’s abortion services have risen by 20 percent, whereas cancer screenings and prenatal services have decreased by more than 58 percent and 67 percent, respectively.

Planned Parenthood is a significant recipient of federal funding, receiving nearly $700 million in taxpayer funds. Republican legislators have been actively seeking to reduce this funding, arguing that public funds should not support the country’s predominant abortion provider.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said in a press release last December that Planned Parenthood got $1.78 billion in federal money between 2019 and 2021. The amount included $90.4 million from the Paycheck Protection Program, which was a COVID-19 loan program aimed at helping small businesses affected by the pandemic.

Abortion is emerging as a pivotal issue in the upcoming presidential election. Democrats are pushing it as a central issue and launching ballot initiatives in key states. On the other hand, Republicans are calling for a national abortion ban.

Former President Donald Trump has publicly expressed his view on the issue, saying that the matter is best left to the states.

Our next story is about a transgender teenager in Maryland, who has been arrested for plotting a school shooting. Let’s have a look at the details.

Transgender Teenager Charged With Planning School Shooting After Police Discover ‘Manifesto’

Andrea Ye, a transgender teenager, has been arrested and charged with plotting a school shooting in Montgomery County, Maryland.

The arrest came after police found a memoir written by Ye detailing a character planning a school shooting and discussing tactics.

Ye also mentioned targeting an elementary school in the memoir and wrote about becoming famous. Montgomery County Department of Police (MCPD) said that they had obtained a search warrant and that they uncovered internet searches, drawings, and documents related to threats of mass violence.

MCPD said that Ye was taken into custody and was charged with threats of mass violence. A statement of charges revealed previous shooting threats made by Ye, as well as hospitalization for self-harm and suicidal thoughts. According to the statement, Ye is a biological female but prefers to be called Alex Ye.

Ye had also purchased a BB gun online without her parents’ knowledge. Internet search history and excerpts from Ye’s manifesto indicated a fascination with guns and school shootings. Ye is currently in custody awaiting a bond hearing.

Security at schools, particularly Wootton High School where Ye studies, was heightened as a result.

Lastly, let’s check out the reasons for the 911 outage that we shared with you yesterday.

Reasons for Thursday’s 911 Outage Revealed

The 911 outage reported Thursday was due to human error when workers installing a light pole in Kansas City, Missouri, accidentally severed a fiber line, knocking out emergency call services in Nebraska, Nevada, and South Dakota.

Service was restored after two and a half hours, and there were no reported outages in Kansas City.

Meanwhile, in Del Rio, Texas, an issue with a cellular carrier impeded 911 calls, though the city’s system was not at fault. Federal authorities are investigating the incident. The outages caused confusion among those trying to reach emergency services, but normal service was eventually resumed.

Nebraska experienced similar 911 outages in recent years, leading to a legislative hearing on the issue last December. South Dakota officials described their outage as unprecedented.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department also faced a brief disruption.

These incidents underscore the urgent need for updating critical telecommunications infrastructure and additional funding to enhance system resilience.

Now, we’re almost out of time, so that’s going to be our final story on the Saturday edition of The Epoch Times News Brief! Before we shut the studio down for the weekend, this brief reminder: If you enjoy our News Brief program, please let us know by dropping us an email. We’re at [email protected], and we always go through your comments, thoughts, and suggestions. Let’s scroll down together and see who’s written in.

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As we do each and every day, we end today’s program with a very “notable” quote:

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

He was an American lecturer, poet, essayist, and more and he also studied at Harvard when he was just 14 years old. That makes him a bright guy!

For all of us here at the Epoch Times News Brief, I’m Bill Thomas, do something extraordinarily fun this weekend, and have an EPOCH Saturday! So long everyone.

Bill Thomas is a two-time Golden Mike Award winner who has specialized in breaking news coverage. In his career he has covered floods, forest fires, police pursuits, civil unrest, and freeway collapses. He is a host of EpochCasts News Brief, an audio news show from The Epoch Times. You can reach Bill via email at [email protected]
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