05 24 2016
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  • On Tuesday, a judge ordered the 78-year-old Cosby to stand trial on sexual assault charges 
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  • The judge concluded Officer Edward Nero played little role in the arrest and wasn't responsible for the failure by police to buckle Gray in  
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  • Bill Cosby faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday to determine if his criminal sex-assault case in suburban Philadelphia goes to trial.Prosecutors had declined to charge the comedian-actor over the 2005 complaint, but arrested him in December after his explosive deposition in the woman's lawsuit became public. In the testimony given in that deposition, Cosby is grilled about giving drugs and alcohol to women before sex; making secret payments to ex-lovers; and hosting Andrea Constand at his home. They knew each other through Temple University, where he was a trustee and she managed the women's basketball team. Bill Cosby's wife refused to answer dozens of questions during a combative deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by seven women who say the comedian branded them liars after they accused him of sexually assaulting them, according to a transcript released Friday. Camille Cosby was subjected to intense questioning by the women's lawyer, who repeatedly pressed her to say whether she believes her husband "acted with a lack of integrity" during their 52-year marriage. The lawyer also asked if her husband used his position and power "to manipulate young women." Camille Cosby didn't answer those questions and many others after her lawyer cited marital privilege, the legal protection given to communications between spouses. She repeatedly said she had "no opinion" when pressed on whether she viewed her husband's behavior as dishonest and a violation of their marriage vows. About 50 women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of forcing unwanted sexual contact on them decades ago. Cosby has denied the allegations. He faces a criminal case in Pennsylvania, where prosecutors have charged him with sexually violating a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand. He has pleaded not guilty. Camille Cosby answered questions in the deposition Feb. 22 and again April 19 after her lawyers argued unsuccessfully to stop it. A judge ruled she would have to give a deposition but said she could refuse to answer questions about private communications between her and her husband. Camille Cosby's lawyer, Monique Pressley, repeatedly cited that privilege and advised her not to answer many questions asked by the women's lawyer, Joseph Cammarata. The exchanges between Cammarata and Cosby became testy at times, and she admonished him: "Don't lecture me. Just keep going with the questions." Using a transcript of a deposition Bill Cosby gave in a civil lawsuit filed by Constand in 2005 and a transcript of an interview she gave to Oprah Winfrey in 2000, Cammarata asked Camille Cosby about extramarital affairs her husband had. "Were you aware of your husband setting up trusts for the benefit of women that he had a sexual relationship with?" Cammarata asked. She didn't answer after her lawyer cited marital privilege. Cammarata asked her about Shawn Thompson, a woman who said Bill Cosby fathered her daughter, Autumn Jackson, in the 1970s. Jackson was convicted in 1997 of attempting to extort money from Bill Cosby to prevent her from telling a tabloid she's his daughter. He acknowledged he had an affair with her mother and had given her money. "Was it a big deal when this came up in the 1970s that your husband had — big deal to you that your husband had an extramarital affair and potentially had a daughter from that extramarital affair?" Cammarata asked. "It was a big deal then, yes," Camille Cosby replied. She said she had "no opinion" on whether her husband's admission he obtained quaaludes to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex violated their marriage vows. Her lawyer objected and instructed her not to answer when Cammarata asked her if she ever suspected she had been given any type of drug to alter her state of consciousness when she had sex with her husband. A spokesman for the Cosbys declined to comment on her deposition. The Cosbys have a home in Shelburne Falls, an hour's drive from Springfield, where the lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed. An attorney handling a separate lawsuit against Bill Cosby revealed Friday that Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner provided sworn testimony Wednesday. In the sexual battery lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, Judy Huth says Cosby forced her to perform a sex act on him at the Playboy Mansion around 1974, when she was 15. Bill Cosby's former lawyers have accused Huth of attempting to extort him before filing the case and have tried unsuccessfully to have it dismissed. Huth's attorney, Gloria Allred, said Hefner's testimony will remain under seal for now. Hefner also was named as a defendant in a case filed Monday by former model Chloe Goins, who accuses Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually abusing her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.   The Associated Press generally doesn't identify people who say they're victims of sexual abuse, but the women accusing Cosby have come forward to tell their stories.___AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
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Lauren Burke

Even though the next Congress, which starts on January 6, will feature 48 African Americans, the largest number in history, the question is: Can they get anything done in a Congress that’s been gridlocked for four straight years?

But since most Black members will serve as members of the minority party in the House, most of their power to control federal policy and billions of dollars will be decided by compromise as they serve on major committees.  Though members of the Congressional Black Caucus will not control the policy agenda, they will still play a key role in those decisions.

For the first time in history, seven members of the Congressional Black Caucus will serve as Ranking Members of major House Committees for the upcoming 114th Congress.  Why does this matter? Because even a member in the minority in the hyper-partisan House, which has been controlled by Republicans since 2010, is going to have a seat at the table.

Much of what is done behind the scene goes unreported by press corps fixated on the political cat fight of the moment. And in the case of the CBC, the Black Press is the only place where their work is likely to be covered.

November 19, was one of the biggest days for the Caucus since four Black Committee Chairman were christened in January 2009.

Seven Black members of the House – Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) will have a seat at the legislative table next year as ranking committee members.

Additionally, two of the most powerful members of the Black Caucus, Reps. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) and Chaka Fattah (D-Penn.), are ranking members on subcommittees on the most powerful committee in the House: Appropriations.  From those positions they will have a say in doling out several hundred billion dollars every fiscal year.

“Politics is about who gets what when and how and being at the table is essential to determining that those resources get where they need to be,” Rep. Bishop told the The Root in an interview.

“It is my hope that we are able to use the appropriations process and the policy making process here in Congress in a bipartisan way that will benefit all the American people,” Bishop said in the interview.

In an effort to show they can actually govern, Republicans in the 114th Congress are expected to pass legislation rather than repeat another four years of their core strategy: Gridlock.  The last two years witnessed the least productive U.S. House in history in terms of bills passed, all under Republican control.

Even with the well-publicized gridlock over the last four years, Rep. Fattah was able to get the Urban Jobs Act through the House after a compromise was reached with House Republicans.  The bill’s passage, which was a rare example of bipartisanship, received almost no press.

The gridlock strategy was employed by House Republicans in hopes of preventing President Obama from getting anything done.  But going into the 2016 presidential campaign, Republicans are expected to show they can produce actual legislative results in what would be a huge strategic change.

As part of its normal process, the Congressional Black Caucus elected a new Chairman yesterday, Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.). Though he plans to outline a detailed strategy for the Caucus in January, he spoke in general terms about the policy focus he’ll have next Congress.

“The economy is not working for African Americans.  Some are succeeding, but the vast majority of African Americans are not succeeding. It’s our job as legislators to try and enact policies that will enact policies that will move the needle – whether it’s with a coalition of Democrats or Republicans,” Butterfield told The Root.

The new chairman will inherit the largest Congressional Black Caucus in history at a time when presidential politics will play a big role in the narrative.  Whether he and the Black Caucus can navigate the games of gridlock will depend on how afraid Republicans are of being tagged as the “party of no” as their presidential candidates tour the country.

Chances are those politics will be the real reason the GOP will suddenly be interested in moving legislation during President Obama’s last two years in office.

Lauren Victoria Burke is freelance writer and creator of the blog Crewof42.com, which covers African American members of Congress. She Burke appears regularly on “NewsOneNow with Roland Martin” and on WHUR FM, 900 AM WURD. She worked previously at USA Today and ABC News. She can be reached through her website, laurenvictoriaburke.com, or Twitter @Crewof42 or by e-mail at LBurke007@gmail.com.

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