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Alex Jones, Under Questioning, Is Confronted With Evidence of Deception

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AUSTIN, Texas — In a brutal cross-examination on Wednesday in the trial of the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, a lawyer for Sandy Hook parents produced text messages from Mr. Jones’s cellphone showing that he had withheld key evidence in defamation lawsuits brought by the families for lies he had spread about the 2012 school shooting.

The messages were apparently sent in error to the families’ lawyers by Mr. Jones’s legal team.

“Mr. Jones, did you know that 12 days ago, your attorneys messed up and sent me an entire digital copy of your entire cellphone with every text message you’ve sent for the past two years?” the parents’ lawyer, Mark Bankston, asked Mr. Jones.

The text messages were significant because Mr. Jones had claimed for years that he had searched his phone for texts about the Sandy Hook cases and found none.

“You know what perjury is, right?” Mr. Bankston asked Mr. Jones, who indicated that he did.

The disclosure of the texts provided a striking capstone to the final day of testimony in a trial to determine how much Mr. Jones must pay the parents of a child who died in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., for broadcasting conspiracy theories that the shooting was a hoax and that the families were “actors.” The jury began deliberating late Wednesday.

The texts also revealed that Mr. Jones was warned about posting a false report about the coronavirus by a staff member calling the report “another Sandy Hook” for spreading disinformation about an event.

He acknowledged the staff member’s concerns, but Mr. Bankston said the false report remained live on his Infowars website on Wednesday.

Mr. Jones is also under scrutiny for his role in planning events around the attack on the Capitol, so the texts could be of interest to the House Jan. 6 committee.

“We fully intend on cooperating with law-enforcement and U.S. government officials interested in seeing these materials,” Mr. Bankston said.

The file with Mr. Jones’s texts is part of a raft of material related to the Sandy Hook cases mistakenly delivered to the families’ lawyers. Mr. Bankston estimated that the files relayed to him in apparent error by Mr. Jones’s lawyers contained several hundred gigabytes of material.

Mr. Bankston, who is representing the Sandy Hook parents Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin at the trial, also revealed new evidence of Mr. Jones’s failure to produce court-ordered documents related to lies he spread about the mass shooting and its victims. Visibly uncomfortable for most of the 40-minute cross-examination, sweat running into his eyes and down his neck, Mr. Jones said he “100 percent” believed that the shooting occurred.

Mr. Bankston also presented financial records that contradicted Mr. Jones’s claim under oath on Tuesday that he was bankrupt, and clips from his broadcasts maligning the judge and jury in the case.

Mr. Jones lost four defamation cases last year that were filed against him by the families of 10 victims of the shooting, which killed 20 first graders and six educators.

Mr. Jones lost those cases by default, after nearly four years of litigation in which he failed to produce documents and testimony ordered by courts in Texas and Connecticut. That set in motion three trials for damages; the one in Austin this week is the first.

In testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, Mr. Jones continued to insist that he had complied with court orders to produce documents and testimony in the run-up to the defamation trials. In fact, his losses by default resulted from his failure to produce those materials.

He also repeatedly tried to claim that his right to free speech protected him. But by defaulting in the defamation cases because he failed to comply with discovery by withholding documents and testimony, he lost the opportunity to test that claim at trial. The current trial and the two upcoming trials are only to decide the amount he must pay the families in damages.

The judge admonished Mr. Jones and his lawyer, F. Andino Reynal, after the Infowars fabulist lied about the matter under oath on Tuesday. The judge also chastised Mr. Jones for telling the jury that he was bankrupt when his bankruptcy filing last week has yet to be adjudicated; the families’ lawyers say it is his latest attempt to delay the upcoming damages trials. A federal bankruptcy court in Texas ruled that the current trial could proceed, but the others are delayed for now.

In court on Wednesday, Mr. Bankston produced financial records indicating that Mr. Jones was earning revenue of as much as $800,000 per day in recent years by selling diet supplements, gun paraphernalia and survivalist gear in ads accompanying his broadcasts. Mr. Jones tried to accuse the families’ lawyers of cherry-picking the most lucrative daily revenues, but he was silenced by the judge.

Mr. Bankston also produced clips from Mr. Jones’s Infowars broadcast in which he aired a copy of a photograph of the judge in Ms. Lewis’s and Mr. Heslin’s case, Maya Guerra Gamble, engulfed in flames.

“That’s justice burning,” a cowed Mr. Jones told Mr. Bankston.

In another broadcast, Infowars falsely linked the judge to pedophilia and human trafficking; in another, Mr. Jones questioned the intelligence of the jurors in the case, implying that his political enemies had handpicked “blue-collar” people who “don’t know what planet they’re on,” and were ill-equipped to decide what monetary damages he must pay Ms. Lewis and Mr. Heslin. In written questions submitted to Mr. Jones, jurors took immediate issue with that characterization.

“Are you aware that this jury consists of 16 intelligent, fair-minded citizens who are not being improperly influenced in any way?” one wrote to Mr. Jones.

“I don’t think that you are operatives,” Mr. Jones replied.

Ms. Lewis and Mr. Heslin are requesting $150 million in damages from Mr. Jones. But more than money, they have said the case represents an opportunity to alert Americans to the societal harms posed by the viral spread of disinformation over the decade since Sandy Hook.

In closing remarks on Wednesday, Mr. Jones’s lawyer said he was prepared to pay a single dollar to Ms. Lewis and Mr. Heslin for each of the eight defamation claims.

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The Quiet Thrill of Winter Wildlife Viewing

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A coyote walking the freshly groomed cross-country ski trails greeted us at the nearby Snowmass Club Golf Course, where we scanned a pond for ring-necked ducks, a diving duck with distinctive tattoo-like white, black and gray bills. They were sharing the ice flows with Crayola-bright mallards with vivid orange legs and velvet green heads.

“Ducks are in breeding plumage in winter, so they are at their finest,” Ms. Weiss said.

We searched for brown-capped rosy finches, which are endemic to Colorado and driven down from the high mountains in winter, at a collection of feeders at a private home nearby in the hills above the Aspen airport (Ms. Weiss is well known among local birders who often allow her access to their feeders). Instead, we found a flock of house finches, another of pine siskins and a diminutive downy woodpecker.

“No one knows the exact formula to get rosy finches to their feeders,” Ms. Weiss remarked of the prized birds that otherwise spend their time among 14,000-foot peaks, often called “14-ers.” “It’s incredible to see a flock of 150 gorgeous high-altitude birds that occur in Colorado and nowhere else in the world. And they’re easier to find than to scale a 14-er.”

We ended our tour at Hallam Lake, admiring the fortitude of American dippers, bathing in a snow-banked stream. The continent’s only aquatic songbird, the dark, plump, fastidious birds are considered a harbinger of clean water.

Despite the cold, nearly four hours surveying nature sped by.

“Birding is a superfun way to engage with a landscape and get to know it on a deeper, kind of meditative level,” Ms. Weiss summarized. “You can forget about everything else as you’re watching the birds treasure-hunt.”

While snow muffles the terrain, obscuring the specifics of a forest under an insulating blanket, it can be a great revealer, too. Snow records the frequency of passing animals that so often we cannot see, their tracks telltale in the impressionable landscape.

Interpreting the forest habitat, ACES guides lead nature snowshoe tours departing twice daily in ski season from Aspen Mountain and the nearby Snowmass ski area ($44 if you have a lift ticket, $75 if you don’t).

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Scientist who worked at Wuhan lab says COVID was man-made virus

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A scientist who worked at a controversial research lab in China has claimed that COVID was a man-made virus that leaked from the facility, according to a report.

Andrew Huff said COVID leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China two years ago and blamed authorities for the “biggest US intelligence failure since 9/11,” Britain’s The Sun reported Saturday.

The lab has been at the center of fierce debates about the origins of COVID, with both Chinese government officials and lab personnel denying that the virus leaked from the facility.

Scientist Andrew Huff said COVID leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China two years ago.
AndrewHuff.com

Huff, an epidemiologist said in his new book, The Truth About Wuhan, that the pandemic was the result of the US government’s funding of coronaviruses in China.

He said that China’s gain-of-function experiments, which were carried out with lax security, led to a lab leak at the Wuhan lab.

“Foreign laboratories did not have the adequate control measures in place for ensuring proper biosafety, biosecurity, and risk management, ultimately resulting in the lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” he said in his book, which was exclusively excerpted in the newspaper.

Virologists work in the P4 lab of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China.
Virologists work in the P4 lab of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China.

A picture of the cover of a book written by Dr. Andrew Huff.
“Foreign laboratories did not have the adequate control measures in place for ensuring proper biosafety, biosecurity, and risk management…” Dr. Huff wrote in his book.

Over the last two years, increasing evidence has suggested that the virus was man-made.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology, a state-run and funded research facility home to China’s riskiest coronavirus research, has been under immense pressure by the ruling Chinese Communist Party to produce scientific breakthroughs to raise China’s global status despite lacking resources, according to a recent investigation published by ProPublica/Vanity Fair.

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Texas Man Threatened Boston Doctor Who Treats Gender Nonconforming Children, U.S. Says

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A Texas man was arrested on Friday on a federal charge that he left a voice mail message threatening to kill a Boston doctor who provides care to gender nonconforming children, the authorities said.

The man, Matthew Jordan Lindner, 38, of Comfort, Texas, was charged with one count of transmitting interstate threats, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts. He is being held without bail pending a court hearing next week. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison and three years of supervised released and a fine of up to $250,000.

Efforts to reach a lawyer for Mr. Lindner late Friday were unsuccessful.

According to federal prosecutors, false information began to spread online in August that doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital were providing hysterectomies and gender affirmation surgery to patients under the age of 18. The hospital does not perform those procedures on minors, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors allege that on Aug. 31, Mr. Lindner called the Boston-based National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center and left the threatening voice mail for one of the center’s doctors.

Repeatedly using profanity, Mr. Lindner said in the message, “you’re all gonna burn,” according to prosecutors, adding that there was “a group of people on their way to handle” the doctor. “You signed your own warrant,” Mr. Lindner allegedly said, again naming the doctor. “Castrating our children. You’ve woken up enough people. And upset enough of us. And you signed your own ticket.”

Mr. Lindner also called two phone numbers associated with a Rhode Island university where the doctor is a faculty member and called a medical practice where the doctor had previously worked, prosecutors said in the criminal complaint.

The National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center, which is part of the Fenway Institute, provides educational programs and health care for the queer and transgender communities. The center did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

The doctor who received the threat was not publicly named. Prosecutors said she is an advocate for gender-affirming care and the use of puberty hormones and blockers.

Prosecutors said that phone records had been used to identify Mr. Lindner. They also said that they had matched the voice on the call that threatened the doctor with that on videos that Mr. Lindner had previously posted on Facebook.

Rachael S. Rollins, the U.S. attorney in Massachusetts, said in a statement that she was committed to “vigorously” investigating and prosecuting people who threaten members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community, including health care professionals.

“Death threats instill fear and terror in their targeted audiences,” Ms. Rollins said. “Mr. Lindner’s alleged conduct — a death threat — is based on falsehoods and amounts to an act of workplace violence.”

Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Boston Division, said in a statement that the doctor had been targeted because she was caring for gender nonconforming children.

“No one,” he said, “should have to live in fear of violence because of who they are, what kind of work they do, where they are from, or what they believe.”

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