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Mitt Romney Says He’s Behind ‘Pierre Delecto’ Twitter Account



Mitt Romney, the senator from Utah, former Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor, is also, apparently, the man behind a Twitter account that uses the moniker “Pierre Delecto.”

Mr. Romney on Sunday admitted to McKay Coppins, a writer at The Atlantic, that he was responsible for the social media account, which he uses to covertly monitor political discourse and occasionally defend himself. It’s unclear what, if anything, Pierre Delecto is a reference to.

Several events preceded the admission.

First, The Atlantic published on Sunday a profile of Mr. Romney, one of the few prominent Republican lawmakers to criticize President Trump over his efforts to press Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rivals. Those efforts form the basis of an impeachment investigation by the House.

Mr. Trump lashed out in response this month, calling the senator on Twitter a “pompous ‘ass’ who has been fighting me from the beginning.” In one tweet, the president used the hashtag “#IMPEACHMITTROMNEY.”

In the Atlantic profile, Mr. Romney admitted to having what he called a “lurker account” — essentially a profile under a different name that he operated in secret to monitor the political conversation. But he declined to divulge the name associated with the account.

The admission spurred curiosity, particularly that of the online newsmagazine Slate.

Slate theorized that Pierre Delecto, or Twitter user @qaws9876, was Mr. Romney after it discovered the account among the Twitter followers of one of his grandchildren.

Slate noted that Pierre Delecto’s first follower was Mr. Romney’s oldest son, Tagg. The account was created in 2011, shortly after Mr. Romney announced his intention to run for president. The account also followed all of Mr. Romney’s children who are on Twitter and several former advisers, according to Slate.

The account also posted several telling replies to Romney-related tweets, which were captured by screenshot before the account was made private on Sunday night.

In one tweet from May, Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger at The Washington Post, said Mr. Romney’s strategy on Mr. Trump was “non-confrontation verging on spinelessness.”

“Jennifer, you need to take a breath,” Pierre Delecto replied. “Maybe you can then acknowledge the people who agree with you in large measure even if not in every measure.”

The Slate article prompted many on social media to surmise that if Pierre Delecto was in fact Mr. Romney, he had concocted one of the most extraordinary pseudonymous social media accounts for a public official ever (besting the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey’s onetime moniker of Reinhold Niebuhr).

After Slate published its article, Mr. Coppins circled back with Mr. Romney to ask if he was indeed “Pierre Delecto.”

“Just spoke to @MittRomney on the phone, and asked him about Pierre Delecto,” Mr. Coppins said in a tweet. “His only response: “C’est moi.”’


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Republicans Shift Defense of Trump, While He Attacks Another Witness




Ms. Pelosi, also appearing on “Face the Nation,” suggested that Mr. Trump — who is blocking key witnesses like Mick Mulvaney, his acting chief of staff, from testifying — make his case for himself, while delivering a brief lesson in Latin: “If he has information that is exculpatory, that means ex, taking away, culpable, blame, then we look forward to seeing it.”

Hours after that broadcast, Mr. Trump — who last week attacked Marie L. Yovanovitch, his former ambassador to Ukraine, on Twitter while she was testifying — unleashed an afternoon Twitter storm, lashing out at a second witness, Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Mike Pence.

Ms. Williams, a longtime State Department employee with expertise in Europe and Russia who has been detailed to Mr. Pence’s national security staff, is among those who listened to a July 25 telephone call in which Mr. Trump asked President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to “do us a favor” and investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter.

Mr. Trump had frozen the military aid about a week before.

Ms. Williams told House investigators she thought the telephone call was “unusual and inappropriate,” adding, “I guess for me it shed some light on possible other motivations behind a security assistance hold,” according to a transcript of her deposition released Saturday evening by Democrats.

“Tell Jennifer Williams, whoever that is, to read BOTH transcripts of the presidential calls, & see the just released ststement from Ukraine,” Mr. Trump wrote, misspelling the word “statement.” “Then she should meet with the other Never Trumpers, who I don’t know & mostly never even heard of, & work out a better presidential attack!”


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Iran Blocks Nearly All Internet Access




The Associated Press reported that Iran also experienced wide disruptions and outages of internet service on Friday and Saturday, according to the group NetBlocks, which monitors worldwide internet access. By Saturday night, connectivity had fallen to just 7 percent of ordinary levels, NetBlocks said.

“The ongoing disruption is the most severe recorded in Iran since President Rouhani came to power, and the most severe disconnection tracked by NetBlocks in any country in terms of its technical complexity and breadth,” the group said. The internet firm Oracle called it “the largest internet shutdown ever observed in Iran.”

Ahmad, a taxi driver in Tehran who did not want his last name used, said in telephone interview that when he tried to connect to the internet on his mobile phone, a recorded message said that because of a decision by the National Security Council, connectivity had been cut off.

WhatsApp and Instagram, both used widely by Iranians, were also blocked.

Fahimeh, an accountant, said she and her friends relied on WhatsApp to find out the location and time of protests, and in the absence of the internet, it would be difficult for Iranians to plan and spread the word.

The Ministry of Information said Sunday that it had identified bad actors among protesters and warned that those responsible for unrest would be arrested.

Intelligence agents on Sunday arrested Abdoleza Davari, a senior aide to Iran’s former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and a vocal critic of the gas price policy, according to his wife, Elham Salmani. Mr. Davari had posted a tweet a day earlier saying that the people have the right to demonstrate and that parliament must hear their concerns and stand up to the branches of the government imposing this policy.

“They have failed to successfully counter freethinking with ideology so the only tool at their disposal is violence,” said Ms. Salmani, a journalist and political activist, in a telephone interview. She said the prosecutor’s office had threatened to arrest her as well and had accused her of hiding her husband’s mobile telephone and laptop computer.

Mostafa Tajzadeh, a prominent reformist politician, said on Twitter that if elected officials could not listen to the demands of the people, “they should resign and leave the country to its real rulers.”


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Life Dealt Him a Series of Blows. Now He’s Fighting Back.




Owayne Mcleod has been drawn to athletics for as long as he can remember.

As a child in Jamaica, he racked up trophies as a sprinter on his school’s track and field team. To pass the time, he and his friends played cricket, raced barefoot in the streets of Kingston and lifted makeshift barbells fashioned from concrete and metal rods.

But life was not all fun and games. “I would go days without eating,” he said. “It was horrible.”

Mr. Mcleod’s parents divorced when he was young. His mother emigrated to the United States when he was 4, leaving him in the care of his grandmother and two older brothers. The situation at home was so dire that his mother would send the family barrels of clothes and food that would last them months.

Mr. Mcleod’s mother eventually remarried and settled in New York City. When he was 12, he and one of his brothers left Jamaica to move in with her and their stepfather on the Lower East Side. “As soon as that plane landed, as soon as I got into the house, I looked in the fridge,” he said with a chuckle.

Now 21, Mr. Mcleod has smiling eyes and a relaxed demeanor that belie the hardships he went through. He was in middle school when he first came to the United States, and his mother had him wear suits and church shoes to class. “The teachers loved it,” he said. But many of his classmates bullied him over his dapper style and mocked his Jamaican accent, which has since faded.

“It made me feel like I didn’t belong here,” he said. “I wanted to go back home.”

One day after school, Mr. Mcleod started a fight with someone who was bullying him. “People were saying that I got beat up,” he said. “I felt like I had something to prove.” He wanted to learn how to defend himself, so he went home and watched videos of Ultimate Fighting Championship athletes to study their techniques. Later, he came across a book at school about professional boxers. Two of his teachers noticed his interest and helped him find a boxing gym.

The sport has defined his life ever since; his goal is to become a professional boxer.

Mr. Mcleod trains every day for about three hours at a gym in the Bronx with John Skerret, a former boxer. Mr. Skerret trains 13 fighters of varying ages, and said Mr. Mcleod is his best. “He listens,” he said. “When he’s committed to something, he’s committed.”

Mr. Skerret has been training Mr. Mcleod for about six years, and has never charged him for his services. Sometimes Mr. Mcleod cannot afford to pay the gym’s $50 monthly fee, so Mr. Skerret offers to split it. “He does it out of love,” Mr. Mcleod said. “He’s like a father figure to me.”

Recently Mr. Mcleod has been devoting time to other ambitions. In June, he graduated from the Brooklyn High School for Leadership and Community Service, a transfer school for older and undercredited students run by the New York City Department of Education and Brooklyn Community Services, one of the seven organizations supported by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund.


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