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Ex-government Spokesman

Ex-government spokesman pleads guilty to contract fraud in $4M scheme – NBC News

A former U.S. government spokesman pleaded guilty Thursday to cheating more than a dozen companies out of more than $4 million by falsely claiming he was working on top-secret programs for the CIA.

Garrison Courtney, a former spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, appeared in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, and admitted that he engaged in a fraud scheme between 2012 and 2016, claiming to be a covert employee affiliated with the CIA. He said he was assigned to a highly classified government program called Alpha-214 that, in fact, did not exist.

Court documents said Courtney convinced private government contracting companies that they needed to put him on their payrolls to give him a cover story which would mask his CIA affiliation. The charges said he often met in secure locations with company representatives, persuaded them to sign non-disclosure agreements that prevented them from discussing the contracts with others, and told them they were under surveillance by foreign intelligence services. He threatened to revoke the security clearances of any company that tried to look into his supposedly covert status.

He also persuaded half a dozen former government officials he had worked with to give generic presentations to the companies in order to enhance his appearance of legitimacy. They acted as “unwitting props,” the Justice Department said. Courtney told the companies he was a U.S. Army veteran who killed hundreds during the Gulf War and survived an assassination attempt — none of which was true.

In the later phases of the scheme, he was actually hired as a private contractor for a branch of the National Institutes of Health that provides acquisition support. That position allowed him to try to steer contracts to companies that had put him on the payroll as part of his CIA scam.

Federal district court Judge Liam O’Grady scheduled sentencing for late October. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, although as a first-time offender his prison term will be shorter than that.

Courtney, 44, was a DHS spokesman for three years before serving as the chief DEA spokesman for four years, beginning in August 2005. He was also a spokesman for former Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Fla.

Pete Williams

Pete Williams is an NBC News correspondent who covers the Justice Department and the Supreme Court, based in Washington.

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Caputo Spokesman

HHS spokesman Caputo calls coronavirus whistleblower ‘second coming of Christine Blasey Ford’ – Fox News

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Former Trump campaign adviser and new Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spokesman Michael Caputo blasted whistleblower Rick Bright Thursday, claiming he is disgruntled over his “profile” during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I come to work here in Washington 24/7, like everybody else does,” Caputo told “The Ingraham Angle.” “There are 84,000 people at HHS who are working every day and Dr. Bright, who makes $285,000 a year, can’t find his way to work.

“To me, that’s just — I mean, for everybody back in my hometown who are locked down, who are losing their businesses, who aren’t able to go to school, that’s got to really smell up to high heaven.”

OUSTED HHS OFFICIAL WARNS OF ‘DARKEST WINTER IN MODERN HISTORY’ IF PROPER VIRUS STEPS NOT TAKEN

HHS pushed back on Bright’s testimony and whistleblower complaint earlier Thursday, accusing him of “politicizing the response” to coronavirus.

Bright has said he was removed for opposing the use of unproven antimalarial drug  hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for coronavirus, but the department has claimed Bright was actually a proponent of the drug.

“Everybody I’ve talked to around here just remembers him being a documented supporter of hydroxychloroquine,” Caputo said. “When he’s filed his whistleblower complaint, he made it all about that drug because he knew it was a hit right at President Trump. And that’s what this is.”

CLICK HERE FOR COMPLETE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

The HHS official then compared Bright to Christine Blasey Ford, who accused then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct during his confirmation process in 2018.

“He’s really just a second coming of Christine Blasey Ford,” Caputo said. “It’s an attack on President Trump. It’s an attack on [HHS] Secretary [Alex] Azar. And it’s an attempt to really politicize this for November.”

Fox News’ Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.

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Russian Spokesman

Spokesman For Russian President Putin Hospitalized With Coronavirus | NBC Nightly News – NBC News

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced today he’s been hospitalized along with his wife. He described his condition as stable and said he hasn’t seen Putin in a month.

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Spokesman For Russian President Putin Hospitalized With Coronavirus | NBC Nightly News

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