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‘America Needs a Superhero’: Trump Teases ‘Major Announcement’ for Thursday
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Former President Donald Trump took to Truth Social to tease a big Thursday announcement.

Trump said he “will be making a MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT tomorrow” because “AMERICA NEEDS A SUPERHERO,” according to a video posted on Trump’s Truth Social account.

The Rumble video linked in Trump’s post shows a recording of Trump promising to make an announcement, followed by a cartoon version of him in a superhero costume with laser beams piercing from his eyes. The video was set to a musical score typical of a blockbuster movie.

The announcement will land a month from the day the former president launched his official 2024 presidential run at Mar-a-Lago on Nov. 15, remarking that “America’s comeback starts right now.”

“Our country needs a truly great leader, and we need a truly great leader now. We need a leader that wrote ‘The Art of the Deal.’ We need a leader that can bring back our jobs, can bring back our manufacturing, can bring back our military, take care of our Vets. Out Vets have been abandoned,” Trump said during his speech launching his third White House bid.

Fox News host Todd Starnes suspects that Trump’s announcement is likely connected to his presidential campaign. “Pure speculation – but he could announce that he’s running as an Independent candidate or he may have decided he simply wants to be a “King Maker.” Again – pure speculation,” Starnes wrote.

While one Twitter user said they see Trump declaring “his VP pick tomorrow…or a lawsuit,” another wondered if the video was hinting at the former president’s return to Twitter.

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    GOP Donors Are Pushing for Youngkin to Enter the 2024 Presidential Race

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    Republican donors are set to gather next month at Virginia Beach’s historic Cavalier Hotel to rally behind Gov. Glenn Youngkin. This “Red Vest Retreat” might officially focus on the GOP’s efforts in Virginia’s upcoming elections, but there’s buzz about something bigger: a push to draft Youngkin into the Republican presidential race.

    As some Republicans grow restless looking for an alternative to former President Donald Trump, Youngkin, who managed to win Trump voters without the former President’s direct involvement, is emerging as a potential savior for the anti-Trump faction. However, the logistics and challenges of a late entry into the race are daunting.

    Washington Post reported:

    Some of the biggest Republican donors in the country will converge next month at the historic Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach for a two-day meeting to rally behind Gov. Glenn Youngkin. The closed gathering, named the “Red Vest Retreat” after the fleece Youngkin wore during his 2021 campaign, will begin Oct. 17 and be focused, officially, on the Republican effort to win full control of the General Assembly in Virginia’s upcoming elections. But unofficially, several donors tell me, it will be an opportunity for them to try to push, if not shove, Youngkin into the Republican presidential race.

    Others say they will be busy prodding Youngkin and his allies in phone calls from afar. “He appears to be leaving the door open,” Thomas Peterffy, a billionaire who has already given millions of dollars to Youngkin’s PAC, told me this week. “And if Republicans win in Virginia, maybe we can talk him into it. He obviously wants to see what emerges, what the state of play is.

    “The money would be there,” Peterffy assured me.

    Donors and anti-Trump Republicans have been fixated on Youngkin for two years, since his 2021 election impressed them for how he was able to win support from Trump voters while keeping Trump himself at a distance. They also know a direct challenge to Trump would be politically brutal — and that late entries are logistically near-impossible.

    Nevertheless, the anti-Trump Republicans carry on, in text messages and emails, and over meals at five-star hotels, talking to friends and megadonors about the need to be prepared to help Youngkin ramp up a robust national campaign. They want to be ready.

    “I’m for whoever can beat Trump in the primary and, while I still think some of the current candidates can do this, I’d welcome Youngkin putting his oar in,” William P. Barr, Trump’s former attorney general, told me. “If the governor indicated he’d to it, I believe he would draw serious support and be a strong candidate,” Barr said.

    Rupert Murdoch, the new chairman emeritus of Fox Corporation and News Corp., has encouraged Youngkin in at least two face-to-face meetings, as The Post reported last month. And Murdoch has continued to speak highly of a possible Youngkin campaign to colleagues, according to a person familiar with his comments.

    “The search for other people is very real,” Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton told me, recounting how he went to Atlanta in August to try to recruit Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who resisted Trump’s pressure campaign in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Bolton left unconvinced that Kemp would do it. “A lot of people put Youngkin in the category of a kind of fresh face who could make a difference,” he said. (Bolton hasn’t ruled out his own late run if others decide against it.)

    Of course, many other donors and anti-Trump Republicans hope that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) or former vice president Mike Pence, among others, could eventually pull even with Trump. But the experience of DeSantis has dampened spirits. If someone who thundered to national prominence couldn’t overtake Trump by now, who can?

    “DeSantis has faltered and failed to meet expectations and donors know it,” Ed Rollins, Ronald Reagan’s former campaign manager, told me. “No one has a real opening right now, but people are trying to figure out what to do.”

    The various Youngkin 2024 theories go something like this: If Virginia’s state legislature goes Republican on Nov. 7, Youngkin could claim he flipped a state that Joe Biden won in 2020. If the governor then signaled interest in exploring a run, supporters could rush to collect signatures for him to get on the ballot in delegate-rich states, many of which have December deadlines. If he got in, he’d make a play for Iowa and build a campaign with an eye on staying in until the convention.

    If that isn’t daunting enough, he would have to do it all while Trump takes aim. There are some around Youngkin who say the prospect of relentless attacks from the GOP front-runner could be what keeps him on the sidelines, with one person close to him saying, “Glenn cringes when he thinks about what Trump would do.”

    The ballot deadlines would present huge hurdles for Youngkin. He would likely miss some key contests in Nevada and South Carolina, which have October filing deadlines, forcing supporters to scramble to get him on the ballot in delegate-rich states holding primaries throughout March, beginning with Super Tuesday on March 5.

    “If he misses some, it’s going to compromise the number of delegates he’d be eligible for,” the nonpartisan elections expert Josh Putnam told me. “While there are some contests after April 2, there are not too many heavy hitters after that.”

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    Watch Live: First Biden Impeachment Inquiry Hearing Begins

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    House Republicans are holding the first hearing in the impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden.

    According to the office of House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., the hearing “will examine the value of an impeachment inquiry,” and will present all evidence to date uncovered by the committee in its investigation into the Biden family finances.

    The witnesses who will testify at the hearing include:

    • Bruce Dubinsky, a forensic accountant with decades of experience in financial investigations and consulting, and who the committee says has testified in over 80 trials, including trials that involved financial fraud
    • Former Assistant Attorney General Eileen O’Connor, who served in the U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division
    • Law professor Jonathan Turley, who testified in the Clinton and Trump impeachments, will also testify

    President Biden has denied any involvement in his son Hunter’s business dealings. The White House has dismissed today’s hearing as an “evidence-free” probe and a “political stunt.”

    Watch Live:

    Key Moments

    https://twitter.com/KanekoaTheGreat/status/1707402334274560454?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1707402334274560454%7Ctwgr%5Efb08cfeb6c6e7d2fdb35114f6d1859ce9c84df2a%7Ctwcon%5Es1_c10&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zerohedge.com%2Fpolitical%2F100s-pages-newly-released-memos-spark-fresh-corruption-charges-ahead-1st-biden

    Early into the session, impeachment witness Jonathan Turley suggested that while the current evidence does support launching the impeachment inquiry, it does not currently support articles of impeachment, rather, it’s something that the impeachment inquiry must establish.

    Mountains of evidence released by House Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee today point to a decade and more of influence peddling and financial fraud involving President Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and brother, James, and multiple business associates.

    These documents will be reviewed on Thursday in the first special impeachment inquiry hearing of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee.

    Newly revealed materials confirm that Hunter Biden was traveling the world to sell influence and access to the Biden “brand,” meaning his father, Joe Biden.

    Hunter has even referred to access to his father as “the keys” to “my family’s only asset.”

    In just the last day, we have discovered:

    A $250K wire for Hunter Biden in 2019 from China with Joe Biden’s address as the beneficiary.

    The wires were from Wang Xin and Jonathan Li, the latter of whom ran a Chinese private equity fund (BHR) which Hunter was listed as being on the board of directors. Hunter also arranged for a meeting between Li and Joe Biden while Joe was VP, while Joe allegedly gave Li’s son a letter of recommendation.

    Emails showing a U.S Attorney would not allow FBI agents to investigate the Bidens for FARA violations.

    One document confirmed rumors that at one point the FBI and IRS investigated Hunter Biden for possible violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), a federal law requiring disclosure of any lobbying activities on behalf of foreign powers. “Please focus on FARA evidence only,” Delaware Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf emailed agents in August 2020 concerning a possible search warrant application.

    Test message showing that James Biden suggested it was normal for Joe Biden to be involved in his son’s business.

    In an affidavit to the committee, Ziegler suggested agents believed there was evidence in a series of WhatsApp encrypted text messages that Joe Biden was involved in the CEFC business deal and others before it, but the FBI’s interview with James Biden was constructed to avoid asking those questions.

    To back up the claim, Ziegler attached a summary of one text messages between James Biden and Hunter Biden from 2018. “This can work, you need a safe harbor. I can work with you father alone !! We as usual just need several months of his help for this to work. Let’s talk about it. It makes perfect sense to me. This is difficult to fully vet without talking,” the uncle wrote Hunter Biden.

    A memo showing that Burisma received Joe Biden’s talking points from lobbyists ahead of his trip to Ukraine.

    Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings received Joe Biden’s planned talking points ahead of his December 2015 trip to Ukraine, according to a newly released memo from lobbying firm Blue Star Strategies.

    Blue Star Strategies sent the memo to Burisma on Dec. 2, 2015, after an apparent call with “senior administration officials” and detailed then-Vice President Joe Biden’s messaging strategy for his trip to Ukraine, the memo shows.

    And finally, and perhaps most damningly, as Kyle Becker highlighted, Hunter Biden signed off on a Burisma memo to the Ukrainian prosecutor who replaced Viktor Shokin that warned not to continue further investigations.

    “Moreover it is imperative that allegations of criminal activity made to the media about Burisma and/or Nikolay Zlochevsky come to an end.”

    Is that enough “evidence” for the “there is no evidence” misinformation-spreaders to fold?

    We highly doubt it… but tomorrow’s hearing will give us a glimpse at the Democrats’ plan…

    While the proceedings will initially convene in that committee’s hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building, the inquiry – authorized Sept. 12 by Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) – is being led by oversight panel chairman Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.).

    As Mark Tapscott detailed earlier via The Epoch Times, Republicans have portrayed the initial hearing as merely a summary or review of the evidence obtained to date, but Mr. Comer announced Sept. 26 that his panel received in response to subpoenas two previously unknown wire transfers to Hunter Biden from Chinese businessmen with numerous links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

    “On July 26, 2019, Hunter Biden received a $10,000 wire from Wang Xin. On August 2, 2019, Hunter Biden received a $250,000 wire from Jonathan Li and Tan Ling. Both wires originated in Beijing and Joe Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware, home is listed as the beneficiary address for both wires,” Mr. Comer said in a statement. The transfers directly contradict claims by the President and Hunter Biden’s lawyer that no funds were received from China.

    In addition, Mr. Comer pointed out that “evidence shows Joe Biden developed a familiar relationship with Jonathan Li during his vice presidency and prior to these payments to Hunter Biden. Devon Archer, a Biden business associate, described [to the oversight committee in closed-door testimony] how Joe Biden met with Jonathan Li in Beijing, China, had a phone call with him, and later wrote college recommendation letters for his children.”

    Then on Sept. 27, Mr. Smith’s panel made public 700 pages of additional evidence provided by two IRS whistleblowers who were deeply involved in the government’s long-running investigation of Hunter Biden’s failure to pay taxes on income he received in 2014 and 2015.

    The Ways and Means panel made the new evidence public following a closed-door executive session in which all 18 Democrats opposed the release.

    The new materials made public by Mr. Smith indicated the Biden family received at least $19 million in income from entities in at least 23 countries around the world which was channeled through 20 shell companies.

    The income was ultimately received directly or indirectly by multiple members of the Biden family, including the president while he was vice president.

    The materials also included numerous references in emails and telephone messages to the senior Biden playing an active role in what Mr. Smith described to reporters during a Capitol Hill news conference following the executive session as “a complex and lucrative enterprise operated by the Biden family to enrich themselves to the tune of at least $20 million, with much of Hunter Biden’s share going unreported for taxes.”

    Mr. Smith further claimed the new evidence makes clear that “then Vice President Joe Biden’s political power and influence was ‘the brand’ that Hunter Biden was selling all over the world. Even more alarming, the Biden family foreign influence peddling operation suggests an effort to sway U.S. policy decisions.”

    The tranche of materials includes an August 2020 email from Lesley Wolf, a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney helping to oversee the investigation of Mr. Biden, telling investigators to redraft a search warrant to remove mention of “political figure 1.”

    That was a reference to then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, according to Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), chairman of the panel.

    “It’s about a two-tiered system of justice. If Joe Biden’s name had been Smith or Jones or Johnson, he would not have been excluded from this search warrant. But he was. And we wouldn’t know that if the whistleblowers had not come forward,” Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.), a former U.S. attorney and member of the committee, told reporters.

    The backgrounds of the witnesses for the hearing suggest the impeachment inquiry’s summary of evidence will focus on three major areas.

    Witness Bruce Dubinski is a Florida-based forensic accountant who specializes in cases involving white-collar crime and financial fraud.

    He has testified as an expert witness in multiple federal and state bench and jury trials.

    Republican leaders of the impeachment inquiry have repeatedly described their efforts as “following the money,” and they have pointed to more than 170 Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) from financial institutions to the Department of Treasury concerning the movement of funds among the 20 Biden shell companies as evidence of money laundering in an attempt to conceal the sources of income to the family.

    Mr. Dubinski is expected to shed additional light on the significance of the SARs and how the funds flowed from foreign sources to the shell companies and then to members of the Biden family, including several grandchildren.

    Former Assistant Attorney General Eileen O’Connor will be the second witness providing testimony to the impeachment inquiry. She oversaw the Tax Division of the Department of Justice during the presidency of George W. Bush from 2001 to 2007.

    Ms. O’Connor has since specialized in civil and criminal tax disputes, from the administrative investigative phases through trial litigation and appellate processes. Committee members will likely quiz her closely on issues and evidence related to the government’s investigation of Hunter Biden’s failure to report income and pay taxes on it.

    She will also be questioned about the significance of the failed plea deal rejected in July by a federal judge that would have enabled the president’s son to plead guilty to two tax misdemeanors and a felony gun charge, and which would have granted him immunity from all future prosecutions.

    Professor Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University Law School will be the third witness. Mr. Turley is a constitutional law authority who frequently testifies before committees of both chambers in Congress, including during the first impeachment hearings of the 117th Congress against President Donald Trump.

    A Fox News Contributor, Mr. Turley is a frequent commenter on controversial legal and political developments in the nation’s capital, and he has also served as a legal analyst for CBS News and NBC News on high-profile controversies. Committee members will likely seek his insights on constitutional issues related to impeachable activities and federal ethics laws and regulations.

    Democrats condemn the impeachment inquiry as a waste of time, especially coming with only hours until the federal government could be forced to shut down if Congress has not adopted a 2024 budget by midnight Saturday, the end of the current fiscal year.

    Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee, issued a statement following the closed executive session in which he labeled the hearing “a distraction from my colleagues’ inability to govern and from their inability to fund the government. Amid their chaos, they’ve failed to convince their own colleagues of the necessity of their political stunt, let alone the American people.”

    The Massachusetts Democrat, who preceded Mr. Smith as Chairman, added that “millions of women and children are at risk of losing their food assistance because of my colleagues’ disinterest in governing. How are we supposed to tell our constituents that Fox News hits were more important than their next meal? Or what are we supposed to say to the 2.2 million American workers who may go without a paycheck when Republicans shut down the government? For this Republican majority, regardless of evidence, all roads lead to impeachment. It’s a sad day for the Congress and for the American people.”

    Finally, The Daily Caller reports that an email obtained by a CNN producer showed Hunter Biden expected all of the “stuff” regarding his criminal wrongdoings to disappear once his father, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, became president, according to documents the House Ways and Means Committee released.

    Justin T. Cole, the Office of Communications Director for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), notified the agency’s chief and deputy chief a CNN producer reached out about their investigation into Hunter’s tax and gun crimes, according to an email the Ways and Means committee released. Cole apparently said the CNN producer possessed an email from Hunter saying he believed he would be off the hook once his father became president and that he was unwilling to accept a plea deal.

    “Producer has an email from Hunter saying he expected all of this “stuff” to go away when his dad becomes President,” Cole wrote.

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    A Government Shutdown Is Nearing This Weekend. What Does It Mean, Who’s Hit and What’s Next?

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    The federal government is just days away from a shutdown that will disrupt many services, squeeze workers and roil politics as Republicans in the House, fueled by hard-right demands, force a confrontation over federal spending.

    While some government entities will be exempt — Social Security checks, for example, will still go out — other functions will be severely curtailed. Federal agencies will stop all actions deemed non-essential, and millions of federal employees, including members of the military, won’t receive paychecks.

    A look at what’s ahead if the government shuts down on Sunday.

    WHAT IS A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN?

    A shutdown happens when Congress fails to pass some type of funding legislation that is signed into law by the president. Lawmakers are supposed to pass 12 different spending bills to fund agencies across the government, but the process is time-consuming. They often resort to passing a temporary extension, called a continuing resolution or CR, to allow the government to keep operating.

    When no funding legislation is enacted, federal agencies have to stop all nonessential work and will not send paychecks as long as the shutdown lasts.

    Although employees deemed essential to public safety such as air traffic controllers and law enforcement officers still have to report to work, other federal employees are furloughed. Under a 2019 law, those same workers are slated to receive backpay once the funding impasse is resolved.

    WHEN WOULD A SHUTDOWN BEGIN AND HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?

    Government funding expires Oct. 1, the start of the federal budget year. A shutdown will effectively begin at 12:01 a.m. Sunday if Congress is unable to pass a funding plan that the president signs into law.

    It is impossible to predict how long a shutdown would last. The Democratic-held Senate and Republican-controlled House are working on vastly different plans to avert a shutdown, and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is struggling to win any support from hard-right conservatives to keep the government open.

    Many are bracing for a stoppage that could last weeks.

    WHO DOES A SHUTDOWN AFFECT?

    Millions of federal workers face delayed paychecks when the government shuts down, including many of the roughly 2 million military personnel and more than 2 million civilian workers across the nation.

    Nearly 60% of federal workers are stationed in the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security.

    While all of the military’s active-duty troops and reservists would continue to work, more than half of the Department of Defense’s civilian workforce, which is roughly 440,000 people, would be furloughed.

    Across federal agencies, workers are stationed in all 50 states and have direct interaction with taxpayers — from Transportation Security Administration agents who operate security at airports to Postal Service workers who deliver mail.

    U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has said new training for air traffic controllers will be halted and another 1,000 controllers in the midst of training will be furloughed. Even a shutdown that lasts a few days will mean the department won’t hit its hiring and staffing targets for next year, he said.

    “Imagine the pressure that a controller is already under every time they take their position at work, and then imagine the added stress of coming to that job from a household with a family that can no longer count on that paycheck,” Buttigieg said.

    Beyond federal workers, a shutdown could have far-reaching effects on government services. People applying for government services like clinical trials, firearm permits and passports could see delays.

    Some federal offices will also have to close or face shortened hours during a shutdown.

    Businesses closely connected to the federal government, such as federal contractors or tourist services around national parks, could see disruptions and downturns. The travel sector could lose $140 million daily in a shutdown, according to the U.S. Travel Industry Association.

    Lawmakers also warn that a shutdown could rattle financial markets. Goldman Sachs has estimated that a shutdown would reduce economic growth by 0.2% every week it lasted, but growth would then bounce back after the government reopens.

    Others say the disruption in government services has far-reaching impacts because it shakes confidence in the government to fulfill its basic duties. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce warned, “A well-functioning economy requires a functioning government.”

    WHAT ABOUT COURT CASES, THE WORK OF CONGRESS AND PRESIDENTIAL PAY?

    The president and members of Congress will continue to work and get paid. However, any members of their staff who are not deemed essential will be furloughed.

    The Supreme Court, which begins its new term Monday, would be unaffected by a short shutdown because it can draw on a pot of money provided by court fees, including charges for filing lawsuits and other documents, court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe said.

    The rest of the federal judiciary also would operate normally for at least the first two weeks of October, said Peter Kaplan, a spokesman for the judiciary.

    Even in a longer shutdown, the entire judiciary would not shut down, and decisions about what activities would continue would be made by each court around the country. The justices and all federal judges would continue to be paid because of the constitutional prohibition on reducing judges’ pay during their tenure, according to the Congressional Research Service.

    Notably, funding for the three special counsels appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland would not be affected by a government shutdown because they are paid for through a permanent, indefinite appropriation, an area that’s been exempted from shutdowns in the past.

    That means the two federal cases against Donald Trump, the former president, as well as the case against Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, would not be interrupted. Trump has demanded that Republicans defund the prosecutions against him as a condition of funding the government, declaring it their “last chance” to act.

    HAS THIS HAPPENED BEFORE?

    Prior to the 1980s, lapses in government funding did not result in government operations significantly shuttering. But then-U.S. Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti, in a series of legal opinions in 1980 and 1981, argued that government agencies cannot legally operate during a funding gap.

    Federal officials have since operated under an understanding they can make exemptions for functions that are “essential” for public safety and constitutional duties.

    Since 1976, there have been 22 funding gaps, with 10 of them leading to workers being furloughed. But most of the significant shutdowns have taken place since Bill Clinton’s presidency, when then-Speaker Newt Gingrich and his conservative House majority demanded budget cuts.

    The longest government shutdown happened between 2018 and 2019 when then-President Trump and congressional Democrats entered a standoff over his demand for funding for a border wall. The disruption lasted 35 days, through the holiday season, but was also only a partial government shutdown because Congress had passed some appropriations bills to fund parts of the government.

    WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO END A SHUTDOWN?

    It’s the responsibility of Congress to fund the government. The House and Senate have to agree to fund the government in some way, and the president has to sign the legislation into law.

    The two sides are deeply entrenched and nowhere near reaching a deal to avert a shutdown.

    But if the shutdown lasts for weeks, pressure will build to end the impasse, particularly if active-duty military members miss pay dates on Oct. 13 or Nov. 1. If the wider public starts seeing disruptions in air travel or border security as workers go unpaid, it will further goad Congress to act.

    Congress often relies on a so-called continuing resolution, or CR, to provide stopgap money to open government offices at current levels as budget talks are underway. Money for pressing national priorities, such as emergency assistance for victims of natural disasters, is often attached to a short-term bill.

    But hardline Republicans say any temporary bill is a non-starter for them. They are pushing to keep the government shut down until Congress negotiates all 12 bills that fund the government, which is historically a laborious undertaking that isn’t resolved until December, at the earliest.

    Trump, who is Biden’s top rival heading into the 2024 election, is urging on the Republican hardliners.

    If they are successful, the shutdown could last weeks, perhaps even longer.

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    McCarthy and Gaetz Spar in Heated Meeting Ahead of Government Shutdown

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    Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) got in a heated exchange during a Thursday morning conference meeting, with the Florida Republican accusing the speaker of paying influencers to attack him on social media.

    The confrontation comes while Gaetz is threatening to introduce a motion to vacate — a mechanism to oust a speaker — if McCarthy backs a bipartisan stopgap funding bill to avert a government shutdown.

    Gaetz has been vocal in his criticisms of McCarthy’s leadership in recent days, arguing that a bipartisan short-term spending bill would be a breach of the deal McCarthy made with conservatives to obtain the gavel in January.

    During the Thursday meeting McCarthy made the case that they need to send a stopgap that includes border security to strengthen their hand in negotiations with the Senate.

    Tensions between the two lawmakers and Gaetz critics were evident, according to multiple sources in the meeting.

    During the open mic portion of the conference meeting, Gaetz asked McCarthy “if he was behind the effort to get ‘MAGA influencers’ to attack him,” one lawmaker told Axios.

    McCarthy shot back saying that “he wouldn’t waste his time or money on him. Matt said he was “willing to give (Kevin) the benefit of the doubt,” the source added.

    McCarthy’s outside legal council sent a cease and desist notification on Tuesday to an individual leading the push for influencers to come out against Gaetz, according to materials viewed by Axios. That individual had allegedly claimed they were acting on behalf of McCarthy.

    Congress remains at an impasse on finding a path forward to keep the government open that doesn’t put McCarthy’s speakership on shakier ground ahead of their Sept. 30 deadline.

    McCarthy is pushing for a vote on a stopgap resolution with conservative priorities attached on Friday, which is unlikely to receive enough support to pass the lower chamber.

    Moderates in the House are weighing procedural tactics to force a vote on a bipartisan measure.

    The Senate has taken a more bipartisan approach, hoping to force the House’s hand in passing a measure to avert a shutdown.

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    Kari Lake Launching Arizona Senate Campaign Oct. 10

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    Kari Lake will announce a run for Kyrsten Sinema’s Senate seat next month, setting the stage for what is expected to be one of 2024’s most competitive and unpredictable races.

    Lake told The Wall Street Journal she will launch her next campaign at an Oct. 10 rally. The race looks likely to be a three-way matchup between the Republican Lake, Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego and Sinema, who now identifies as an independent. The winner of the seat could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

    “We need to get a senator in there who is going to fight back and put America first,” Lake said in an interview.

    Arizona is a top battleground in next year’s presidential and Senate elections, and combined campaign spending in the state will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Voters here have narrowly elected Democrats for president, governor and Senate over the past several cycles, after moderate Republicans and independents moved away from former President Donald Trump and his GOP allies, including Lake.

    Sinema hasn’t said if she will run for re-election but her team has been putting in place the infrastructure for a third-party campaign, the Journal has reported. Gallego, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is running and is expected to be the Democratic nominee.

    Over the past year, Lake has traveled the country fundraising for her lawsuits, held a book tour and acted as official surrogate for Trump’s presidential campaign. She recently knocked on doors for him in Iowa and appeared as a surrogate at the Republican debate Wednesday.

    She has been discussed as a potential running mate for Trump, though she could be a less likely choice if she is the GOP nominee in a crucial Senate race. Lake declined to answer what she would do if Trump offered her the vice presidential-nominee slot.

    Lake, a rock star with the Republican base, is expected to win the GOP nomination for Senate, and her aides say they are already looking ahead to a general election. Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb is running, but so far has struggled to gain traction.

    Blake Masters, who lost his bid to unseat Sen. Mark Kelly (D., Ariz.) last cycle, had been moving forward with a run, the Journal reported. However, he put those plans on hold after Trump called him and walked through Lake’s strengths in a GOP primary, according to people familiar with the call. The people said he still hasn’t officially ruled out getting in the race.

    Even national Republicans who had initially expressed misgivings about a Lake run have mostly come to accept she will likely be the party’s nominee, though they lament that her candidacy makes what was once an obvious pickup opportunity for Republicans more difficult.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) hasn’t committed to spending national-campaign cash in the state, and people close to him say they would need to see Lake prove she is able to run a competitive race. Lake said she hopes to meet with McConnell soon and that she would vote for him for leader of the Republican Party if he was the top Republican choice. She is set to meet with Republicans across the ideological spectrum during a Washington, D.C., visit next week.

    “I’d like to meet them to show them that I’m a very reasonable person who loves my state,” she said. Democrats have a 51-49 Senate majority including the three independents who caucus with them.

    Lake is set next week to meet with Josh Holmes, a Republican strategist who is close to McConnell and often meets with candidates in competitive states. During that same trip to Washington, Lake will have meetings with several other senators, including Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), a McConnell ally seen as his possible successor. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) is expected to sherpa her visit.

    The National Republican Senatorial Committee has been helping set up meetings for Lake and has been advising on campaign strategy. NRSC aides also have been in touch with Lamb and Masters. The NRSC hasn’t ruled out an endorsement in the race.

    “She is a talented campaigner with an impressive ability to fire up the grassroots,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R., Mont.), chair of the NRSC.

    Senate Democratic leaders also haven’t picked a side in the race. Sinema, the incumbent, is still a critical vote for the party.

    Lake lost her 2022 election by just over 17,000 votes in large part because 11% of Republicans and people who lean Republican voted for Democrat Katie Hobbs, now the governor, while only 4% of Democrats and those who lean Democrat backed Lake. Independent voters also backed Hobbs by nearly 30 points, 63%-35%, according to the election survey AP VoteCast.

    Democrats, including Biden in 2020 and Sinema in 2018, have won the state with similar narrow coalitions.

    A path to victory for Sinema in a three-way race, however, would be very difficult. A flier being circulated by Sinema’s camp and viewed by the Journal said a winning formula for her could include 10%-20% of Democrats, 60%-70% of independent voters and 25%-35% of Republicans—margins that far exceed her 2018 totals with independents and Republicans.

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    Huge Explosion ‘Caused by EV Batteries’ Rips Through Airport. 160+ Injured in Blast Felt for 20 Miles.

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    A Boy of 15 has been killed in a giant explosion feared to have been triggered by detonating electric car batteries.

    At least 163 were also injured following the huge blast in a customs warehouse near Tashkent Airport in Uzbekistan in the early hours, which was felt up to 20 miles away.

    Shocking footage shows the explosion at 2.43am local time, which caused damage to hundreds of houses and other buildings over a vast area.

    Batteries for electric cars exploded at the airport warehouse, it is understood.

    Dozens of ambulances ferried the wounded to hospitals and at least five children suffered wounds from shattered glass.

    A 15-year-old boy died after a frame collapsed on his head due to the explosion.

    It is unclear how many people were in the warehouse when it exploded.

    Initial reports suggested a plane crash, forcing authorities in the ex-Soviet state to deny this was the cause of the thunderous explosion that shook much of the city.

    The Uzbek Interior Ministry later claimed lightning struck a warehouse where electric cars and batteries were stored, sparking the blast and fire.

    But there were later doubts that lightning had been a factor in the explosion.

    There are suspicions explosives were also present in the Inter Logistics LLC warehouse given the scale of the blast, but this was officially denied.

    Sixteen separate fire teams rushed to battle the enormous blaze which covered more than 32,000 square feet.

    The blast wave was felt by residents of Nurafshan, a town south of Tashkent, some 20 miles from the epicentre of the explosion.

    The Uzbek Emergencies Ministry said: “In some social media, fake news spread that the incident in the Sergeli district was a result of a plane crash. This is an absolute lie.”

    The ministry later said it was working to establish full details of the cause of the explosion.

    Flights at the nearby Tashkent airport were reportedly not impacted by the explosion and inferno.

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    Teary-Eyed Influencer ‘Meatball,’ Who Livestreamed Philly Looting Mayhem, Is Hit with 6 Felonies

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    The Philadelphia social media influencer arrested while she livestreamed Tuesday night’s looting mayhem fought back tears as she was charged with six felonies.

    Dayjia Blackwell, better known as “Meatball,” shared her firsthand view of the chaos, in which looters targeted several businesses including Apple, Foot Locker and Lululemon, before being caught.

    In the videos posted to her Instagram Stories, Blackwell can be heard laughing and cheering on the other looters as she stood by and watched the chaos unfold.

    At one point during her stream, Blackwell turned to face her camera and challenged the cops to arrest her.

    “Tell the police they’re either gonna lock me up tonight, or it’s gonna get lit, it’s gonna be a movie,” she said at one point.

    “This is what happens when we don’t get justice in this city,” she screamed as she joined a crowd of youngsters in the street.

    Blackwell’s video showed hordes of looters rushing into the Apple store and running away with iPhones and tablets.

    “Free iPhones! Free iPhones,” Blackwell yelled.

    Police used the social media posts of Blackwell and other alleged looters to determine their precise location amid the chaos, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    On Wednesday, “Meatball” was handed eight separate charges including six felonies stemming from her involvement with the looting, according to court documents viewed by The Post.

    Blackwell was charged with burglary, criminal trespassing, conspiracy, criminal mischief, riot with the intent to commit a felony and criminal use of a communication facility.

    Police also issued the influencer two misdemeanors — receiving stolen property and hazardous conditions/physically offensive.

    Blackwell’s bail was set for $25,000, which she posted early Thursday, according to the documents.

    Following the mass looting in the City Center neighborhood and its surrounding areas, Philadelphia police heightened security around the city Wednesday night.

    But that didn’t stop some from causing more havoc.

    Several stores were struck including a liquor store, according to footage captured by NBC Philadelphia, and a Wells Fargo drive-up ATM that was stolen.

    In total, at least 52 people have been arrested over the past two days for their involvement in the looting.

    Interim Chief of Police John Stanford told the outlet the lootings were executed by “opportunists” who took advantage of the anger over the decision in the Eddie Irizarry case.

    Thousands of people took to the streets Tuesday afternoon to protest Municipal Judge Wendy Pew’s decision to dismiss all charges, including murder and manslaughter, against police officer Mark Dial, who fatally shot Irizarry through a car window during an August traffic stop.

    The protest ended around 7:30 Tuesday night, just before the city turned hectic as the unruly mob overpowered security and police officers to ransack the stores.

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    Michael Gambon, Actor Who Played Dumbledore in ‘Harry Potter’ Films, Dies at 82

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    Michael Gambon, the Irish-born actor knighted for his storied career on the stage and screen and who went on to gain admiration from a new generation of moviegoers with his portrayal of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore in six of the eight “Harry Potter” films, has died. He was 82.

    The actor died on Wednesday following “a bout of pneumonia,” his publicist, Clair Dobbs, said Thursday.

    “We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon. Beloved husband and father, Michael died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside,” his family said in a statement.

    While the Potter role raised Gambon’s international profile and found him a huge audience, he had long been recognized as one of Britain’s leading actors. His work spanned TV, theater and radio, and he starred in dozens of films from “Gosford Park” and “The King’s Speech” to the animated family movie “Paddington.” He recently appeared in the Judy Garland biopic “Judy,” released in 2019.

    Gambon was knighted for his contribution to the entertainment industry in 1998.

    The role of the much loved Professor Dumbledore was initially played by another Irish-born actor, Richard Harris. When Harris died in 2002, after two of the films in the franchise had been made, Gambon took over and played the part from “Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban” through to “Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2.”

    He once acknowledged not having read any of J. K Rowling’s best-selling books, arguing that it was safer to follow the script rather than be too influenced by the books. That didn’t prevent him from embodying the spirit of the powerful wizard who fought against evil to protect his students.

    Fiona Shaw, who played Petunia Dursley in the “Harry Potter” series, recalled Gambon telling her how central acting was to his life.

    “He did once say to me in a car ‘I know I go on a lot about this and that, but actually, in the end, there is only acting’,” Shaw told the BBC on Thursday. “I think he was always pretending that he didn’t take it seriously, but he took it profoundly seriously.”

    Born in Dublin on Oct. 19, 1940, Gambon was raised in London and originally trained as an engineer, following in the footsteps of his father. He made his theater debut in a production of “Othello” in Dublin.

    In 1963 he got his first big break with a minor role in “Hamlet,” the National Theatre Company’s opening production, under the directorship of the legendary Laurence Olivier.

    Gambon soon became a distinguished stage actor and received critical acclaim for his leading performance in “Life of Galileo,” directed by John Dexter. He was frequently nominated for awards and won the Laurence Olivier Award 3 times and the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards twice.

    A multi-talented actor, Gambon was also the recipient of four coveted British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards for his television work.

    He became a household name in Britain after his lead role in the 1986 BBC TV series “The Singing Detective,” written by Dennis Potter and considered a classic of British television drama. Gambon won the BAFTA for best actor for the role.

    Gambon also won Emmy nominations for more recent television work — as Mr. Woodhouse in a 2010 adaption of Jane Austen’s “Emma,” and as former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson in 2002’s “Path to War.”

    Gambon was versatile as an actor but once told the BBC he preferred to play “villainous characters.” He played gangster Eddie Temple in the British crime thriller “Layer Cake” — a review of the film by the New York Times referred to Gambon as “reliably excellent” — and a Satanic crime boss in Peter Greenaway’s “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.”

    He also had a part as King George V in the 2010 drama film “The King’s Speech.” In 2015 he returned to the works of J.K. Rowling, taking a leading role in the TV adaptation of her non-Potter book “The Casual Vacancy.”

    Gambon retired from the stage in 2015 after struggling to remember his lines in front of an audience due to his advancing age. He once told the Sunday Times Magazine: “It’s a horrible thing to admit, but I can’t do it. It breaks my heart.”

    Gambon was always protective when it came to his private life. He married Anne Miller and they had one son, Fergus. He later had two sons with set designer Philippa Hart.

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    The Second Republican Debate’s Biggest Highlights

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    On Wednesday, the seven Republicans who qualified for the second primary debate appeared onstage at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, where they discussed former President Donald Trump—who once again skipped the debate—the United Auto Workers strike, the border, education, and other key issues.

    Trump still dominates polls, often earning more than 50% of the Republican vote. Since the first GOP primary debate in August, none of his rivals have gotten much closer to displacing him. The rest of the field has reshuffled, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, long viewed as Trump’s biggest rival, falling behind former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley in some surveys.

    These were the candidates on hand for Wednesday’s debate:

    • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
    • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
    • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum
    • Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley
    • Former Vice President Mike Pence
    • Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina
    • Vivek Ramaswamy

    Here are the most notable moments from Wednesday’s debate:

    United Auto Workers strike

    The debate opened with questions about striking auto workers and whether they should be fired for causing disruptions at several plants and distribution centers.

    Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy said he doesn’t have much patience for union leaders but sympathizes with workers, urging them to picket in front of the White House to protest President Joe Biden’s economic policies. “I understand that hardship is not a choice,” Ramaswamy said, citing his parents’ economic struggles while he was growing up. “But victimhood is a choice and we choose to be victorious in the United States of America.”

    Former Vice President Mike Pence chimed in, claiming “Bidenomics has failed” and that the President’s economic policies are “good for Beijing and bad for Detroit.” “Joe Biden doesn’t belong on a picket line, he belongs on the unemployment line,” Pence said.

    North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum steered the conversation to foreign affairs, a focus of his campaign, and blamed Biden for subsidizing electric vehicles with batteries sourced from China.

    Haley responded to the question about striking workers by pitching her economic plan “to get more cash in the pockets of workers,” a plan that includes eliminating gas and diesel taxes and making small business taxes permanent.

    DeSantis says Trump is “missing in action” for skipping debate

    After a round of questions about the UAW strike, the moderators turned to the looming government shutdown. Speaking for the first time, DeSantis took the opportunity to knock Trump for not showing up to the debate.

    “Donald Trump is missing in action,” DeSantis said in response to a question on whether populist Republicans are to blame for the shutdown. “He should be on this stage tonight. He owes it to you to defend his record.”

    DeSantis criticized Trump for adding more than $7 trillion to the nation’s debt during his presidency, which Christie also noted, while chiding him for not showing up.

    “Donald Trump, he hides behind the walls of his golf clubs and won’t show up here to answer questions,” Christie said. “He puts $7 trillion on the debt, he should be in this room to answer those questions.”

    Christie said “everyone” is to blame for the shutdown.

    “Voters should blame everybody who’s in Washington, D.C. They’re being sent down there to do the job, and they’ve been failing at doing the job for a very long time,” Christie said. “If the government closes, it is to the blame of everyone in Washington, D.C.”

    Southern border crisis 

    Amid a spike in unlawful border crossings, Haley proposed defunding sanctuary cities, adding 25,000 more border patrol and ICE agents, and implementing a catch-and-deport policy instead of a catch-and-release policy. She suggested no money should go toward addressing the root causes of migration until the border is secure.

    Christie suggested the surge in migrants across the southern border be treated as a law-enforcement issue, vowing to sign an executive order to send the National Guard to partner with Customs and Border Patrol to stop the flow of fentanyl and accusing Trump of failing to complete the border wall he touted in his 2016 campaign.

    Ramaswamy said that he agreed with his fellow Republicans, but is going even further by supporting the end of birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants. He also advocated for militarizing the Southern border, while DeSantis supported using the military to go after Mexican drug cartels. “Those Mexican drug cartels are going to be treated like the foreign terrorist organizations they are,” DeSantis said.

    Candidates take aim at Ramaswamy over business record and China

    Like in the first debate, the 38-year-old Ramaswamy again became a target of the other candidates, with his rivals taking aim at his business record.

    “Last debate, he said we were all ‘bought and paid for’ and I thought about that for a little while, and said, you know, I can’t imagine how you can say that knowing that you were just in business with the Chinese Communist Party and the same people that funded Hunter Biden [with] millions of dollars was a partner of yours as well,” Scott said.

    Ramaswamy called the accusation “nonsense” and said he pulled his company out of the Chinese market while other companies were expanding there.

    “You know what I did with my first company? We opened a subsidiary in China. But you know what I did that was different than every other company? We got the hell out of there,” he said.

    “Yeah, right before you ran for president,” Haley said.

    Candidates clash in sharp exchange over U.S. support for Ukraine

    In an exchange that brought out some of the starkest differences in opinion of the night, the candidates clashed over the United States’ ongoing support for Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing invasion, an issue that has become a sticking point in negotiations in Washington to avoid a government shutdown.

    DeSantis said it’s in the United States’ interest to end the war.

    Scott said “degrading the Russian military” is in “our national vital interest,” now and in the long run.

    “At the end of the day, when you think about the fact, if you want to keep American troops at home, an attack on NATO territory would bring our troops in,” Scott said.

    Ramaswamy said it’s time to “level with the American people.”

    “Just because [Vladimir] Putin’s an evil dictator does not mean Ukraine is good,” Ramaswamy said.

    Haley, who often clashes with Ramaswamy, interjected.

    “A win for Russia is a win for China,” Haley said to Ramaswamy, adding, “I forgot, you like Russia.”

    Pence, supportive of continued Ukraine aid, said, “Peace comes through strength.”

    Christie said of Russia, “If we give them any of Ukraine, next will be Poland.”

    Haley to Ramaswamy: “I feel a little bit dumber” after listening to you

    Haley slammed Ramaswamy during a discussion on TikTok, after a moderator noted that the entrepreneur recently joined the social media platform, which has been roundly criticized by Republicans as being a spy mechanism for China.

    “You joined TikTok after dinner with boxer and influencer Jake Paul. Should the commander in chief be so easily persuaded by an influencer?” Varney, the moderator, asked Ramaswamy.

    “So the answer is, I have a radical idea for the Republican Party,” Ramaswamy said. “We need to win elections, and part of how we win elections is reaching the next generation of young Americans where they are.”

    Haley jumped in, calling Ramaswamy’s position “infuriating.”

    “TikTok is one of the most dangerous social media apps that we could have,” she said. “Honestly every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say.”

    She later said, “We can’t trust you.”

    “I think we would be better served as a Republican Party if we’re not sitting here hurling personal insults and actually have a legitimate debate about policy,” Ramaswamy said.

    DeSantis dismisses polls, and Christie says Trump should be “voted off the island”

    In the last segment of the night, moderator Dana Perino asked the candidates to write down which candidate on stage they would choose to vote “off the island.” Mathematically, Perino pointed out, the crowded field gives Trump a clearer path to the nomination.

    But DeSantis dismissed the exercise, suggesting it would be disrespectful to his fellow candidates. Asked instead to explain his path to the nomination in the face of Trump’s “commanding and enduring lead,” DeSantis likewise dismissed the polls.

    “Polls don’t elect presidents, voters elect presidents,” DeSantis said. “And we’re going to take the case to voters in these early states. We’re going to do it in a state by state direction. And why? Because as Reagan said in his day, this is our time for choosing.”

    But Christie was happy to weigh in on the original question.

    “I’d vote Donald Trump off the island right now,” Christie said.

    “Every person on this stage has shown the respect for Republican voters to come here, to express their views honestly, and candidly, and directly, and to take your questions directly,” Christie said, adding that he has “respect for every man and woman on this stage.”

    But Trump, who ditched the debate, has caused great rifts in the country, Christie said.

    “This guy has not only divided our party, he’s divided families all over this country,” Christie said. “He’s divided friends all over this country. I’ve spoken to people, and I know everyone else has, who have sat at Thanksgiving dinner, or at a birthday party, and can’t have a conversation anymore if they disagree with Donald Trump. He needs to be voted off the island, and he needs to be taken out of this process.”

    Ramaswamy said, although he disagrees with Christie on Trump, that “the America first agenda does not belong to one man … it belongs to you, the people of this country.”

    With that, the debate concluded.

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    Trump Responds After GOP Opponents Take Turns Bashing Him in Debate

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    Former President Donald Trump, responding to heated criticisms from his primary opponents during the second GOP debate, said it was “much more important” for him to work to “save” autoworkers Wednesday night than to appear at the debate due to his massive lead in the primary polls, while dismissing Chris Christie’s “Donald Duck” nickname for him.

    Trump did not attend the second Republican debate in Simi Valley, California—much to the dismay of his GOP primary opponents, who repeatedly brought him up, stressing that he should have been on the stage to defend the record of his administration.

    “I thought it was much more important, considering I have a 56-point lead, for me to be dealing with the UAW and the fact that the Biden Administration is going to destroy their jobs over the next two years by going all electric vehicle,” Trump told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview Wednesday night.

    Trump spoke before a crowd of autoworkers in Clinton Township, Michigan Wednesday night, pleading that, if elected, the future of the automobile will be “Made in America.”

    “The crowd was incredible—unreal,” he said. “I think we have great support to save the autoworker.”

    During the debate, though, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie laid into Trump, looking directly into the camera and saying:

    “Donald, I know you’re watching. You can’t help yourself,” Christie said. “You’re ducking these things. And let me tell you what’s going to happen. You keep doing that, no one here’s going to call you Donald Trump anymore.”

    Christie added: “We’re going to call you Donald Duck.”

    Trump told Fox News Digital he had not been watching, but dismissed the nickname.

    “Anybody that would come up with that nickname shouldn’t be running for president,” he told Fox News Digital.

    The most recent Fox News poll shows 60% of Republican primary voters supporting Trump for the GOP nomination — that’s up from 53% in the last survey in August.

    The only other candidates to receive double-digit support in that poll are DeSantis at 13% and Ramaswamy at 11%.

    Haley sits at 5%, with Pence and Scott at 3% each. Christie is polling at 2%, with the remaining GOP candidates receiving less than 1%.

    And according to a new Washington Post/ABC poll from over the weekend, Trump is currently leading President Biden by 10 points in a head-to-head general election survey among voters. The poll said if the 2024 presidential election were held today, Trump would win 52% to 42% over Biden.

    Meanwhile, Biden’s approval rating sits at 37%, according to the poll, while 56% of respondents actively disapprove of his presidency.

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    Vivek Ramaswamy Busted Plagiarizing Obama’s Speeches

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    The Super PAC aligned with Ron Desantis ‘Never Back Down’ has released a supercut of clips showing how Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy continues to rip off lines from Barack Obamas speeches.

    Throughout the campaign, Vivek has been accused of stealing ideas, policies, and lines from other Republican candidates past and present.

    His personal story where he has tried to portray himself as an up-from-the-bootstraps rugged individualist who grew up with working class parents has already been widely debunked.

    His acquisition of vast wealth has also come under scrutiny, revealing that he is either the luckiest investor in history or he is the most unscrupulous insider trader since Ivan Boesky.

    Now comes some pretty concrete proof that he has studied the speeches of Barack Obama and “borrowed” a few lines from him as well.

    Watch:

    Vivek Ramasamy’s past

    At the age of 20 years old, Vivek Ramaswamy had ‘maybe’ voted in the 2004 presidential election. On July 12 Vivek told Scripp News the first time he voted in his life was in 2020, and then switched it to saying he voted in for the libertarian in 2004 and then didn’t vote again until 2020.

    In Aug 2023, the 38-year-old Vivek Ramaswamy had spent his entire adult life as a hedge fund grifter. In fact, by August 2023, Vivek:

    • Vivek paid Wiki editors to scrub his wiki page,
    • His SuperPAC was formed (Feb 17, 2023)
    • Had never engaged in any public service in his entire life,
    • Had never advocated for any policy—ever,
    • Had never registered to vote as “Republican” (and still isn’t),
    • Had never voted in any primary election,
    • Had never voted in any state or local election,
    • He made millions Insider Trading: pump/dump scamming investors with his fake-Alzeheimer’s drugs
    • Incorporated his two main companies Roivant, and Axiovant in Bermuda to avoid paying US taxes, (not in America).
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    Trump Speaks on UAW Strike at Michigan Auto Plant

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    Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday night opted out of the latest 2024 Republican primary debate and instead spoke in Michigan about the ongoing auto workers’ strike.

    The event was held as counter-programming to Trump’s rivals, who gathered in California on the debate stage as he attacked President Joe Biden and urged union employees to back him next year.

    Unions this week drew the attention of both major parties’ presidential front-runners.

    On Tuesday, Biden joined the picket line in Michigan with members of the United Auto Workers in the UAW’s ongoing strike while seeking 46% pay raises and a four-day work week, citing the high profits earned by their employers.

    Trump and his campaign called Biden’s visit to the UAW picket line, which is unprecedented for a president in modern history, a “PR stunt.”

    Trump’s Wednesday event in Clinton Township, Michigan — which the campaign had called a speech to union workers — took place at Drake Enterprises, a non-union auto parts plant.

    Unions and workers were dominant themes in Trump’s speech, though. He began by immediately “saluting” UAW workers and arguing that Biden doesn’t sincerely side with them.

    The crowd here cheered for nearly every line in Trump’s speech.

    In his speech, Trump repeated his pitch for economic nationalism, calling himself the only candidate who wants to protect American labor — which was a key pledge in his previous campaigns.

    He also attacked Biden for the federal government’s environmental regulation push on tailpipe pollution, which would encourage more electric vehicle manufacturing — while also raising the concerns of auto workers like those in the UAW.

    “You’re all on picket lines and everything, but it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference what you get because in two years — you’re all going to be out of business. You’re not getting anything. What they’re doing to the auto industry in Michigan and throughout the country is absolutely horrible and ridiculous,” he said.

    At the picket line on Tuesday, Biden said, in part, “Folks, stick with it because you deserve the significant raise you need and other benefits.”

    On Wednesday night, Trump went on to criticize the heads of Ford and General Motors for not, as he said, fighting against electric vehicles and instead “giving up” too quickly. Both companies have signaled they see increased value in making more electric vehicles, given larger trends in the industry.

    Trump later went after Biden again, saying the president treats American jobs as “disposable.”

    “Joe Biden claims to be ‘the most pro union president’ in history. Nonsense,” Trump added.

    After being told in an NBC News interview that UAW President Shawn Fain was fiercely critical of him, Trump said he did not want the union’s endorsement. On Wednesday, however, he struck a different tone.

    “Hopefully your leaders at United Auto Workers will endorse Donald Trump,” he said.

    Though Fain criticized Trump this week and said there would be “no point” in meeting with him, Trump called Fain a “good man” but said it was time to endorse him. Only then, Trump said, will he “not say a bad thing about them again.”

    Trump’s message to the UAW president: endorse him so “you can take a nice two-month vacation come back and you guys are going to be better than you ever were.”

    The former president said he wouldn’t force people away from electric vehicles but wanted to give people the opportunity to choose.

    Of the GOP primary debate also held on Wednesday, Trump attacked some of his challengers, like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and suggested it was a job interview for a lesser role in his administration.

    He asked his crowd who they thought he should pick as his running mate. They yelled out for former Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, who was in attendance.

    Trump also briefly talked about the indictments against him. He has pleaded not guilty in all four cases.

    “Just like you’re fighting for your rights in your American dream, I’m fighting for my rights and fighting for my freedom against the coordinated … very politicized forces of evil. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Trump told the attendees.

    He said his second presidency would be about “patriotic protectionism,” slamming the amount of money the U.S. has given to Ukraine and claiming he would bring more jobs back home.

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    Trump Leads Biden 46-41 in New Poll

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    Former President Donald Trump has opened up a lead over President Joe Biden, according to the latest Harris/Messenger poll conducted by HarrisX.

    The poll, taken September 13-19 among 3,015 registered voters, found that Trump led Biden, 46%-41%. The margin of error was plus or minus 1.8 percentage points.

    Trump has gained ground from the last Messenger/Harris poll conducted September 6-11, where Trump led Biden, 44%-43%.

    Dritan Nesho, chief pollster and CEO at HarrisX said polls last week picked up on a bad news week for Biden—as Republicans barreled towards an impeachment inquiry and his son, Hunter, was indicted.

    “Biden’s poll numbers will likely bounce back, but in general he’s begun to lag in national polls,” Nesho said.

    Eighty-six percent of Republicans backed Trump, while 80% of Democrats backed Biden. Independents backed Trump, 42%-34%, while 24% were undecided.

    Forty percent of voters approve of Biden’s job performance as president, while 56% disapprove. And only 31% say Biden should run for reelection, while 69% said that he should not seek another term.

    Trump continues to enjoy stronger support from his political base. When asked if Trump should seek another term, 44% said he should, while 56% said he shouldn’t.

    While 57% of Democrats think Biden shouldn’t run again, only 27% of Republicans say the same about Trump. A majority of Republicans (73%) believe Trump should seek the presidency again.

    Trump remains the clear frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination.

    In the national GOP primary, Trump led with 56% support. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was in a distant second place with 14%. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and venture capitalist Vivek Ramaswamy were at 5% each, and 7% said they didn’t know. All of the other candidates were at 3% or less.

    DeSantis remains the most popular second-choice option. When respondents were asked who they would back if Trump didn’t run for president, 35% said DeSantis, 17% said Ramaswamy, and 11% said Pence.

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    Signs of Trump Trouble in Early States

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    Likely Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are still playing the field even as former President Trump holds a strong lead in the 2024 GOP race.

    Over 75% of likely GOP voters in the two states are either not considering Trump at all, or are still considering him along with other candidates, a CBS News/YouGov poll found.

    However, when likely voters were asked who they would vote for today, Trump led the field by 30 points in Iowa and 37 points in New Hampshire. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was second in both states with 21% in Iowa and 13% in New Hampshire.

    Of likely GOP primary voters in Iowa, 20% are only considering voting for Trump, as are 23% in New Hampshire.

    48% of likely GOP primary voters in Iowa and 43% in New Hampshire are considering Trump and other candidates.

    31% of those surveyed in Iowa, and 34% in New Hampshire aren’t considering Trump at all.

    In the poll conducted Sept. 15-24, most of Trump’s backers in the two states said they’re considering at least one other candidate.

    These voters were more likely to say they support Trump “with some reservations” in comparison to voters who say they’re sticking with the former president.

    In both states, those only considering voting for Trump voters are outnumbered by a third of the electorate who aren’t considering him at all, per the poll.

    Meanwhile, voters considering choices beyond Trump expressed concern about the former president’s “controversies” and legal fights, and think the party should consider someone new, according to CBS.

    Non-Trump voters in Iowas are mostly considering DeSantis, while Haley leads in consideration by that group in New Hampshire.

    Iowa’s Republican caucus will meet on Jan. 15, 2024. New Hampshire’s primary is slated to be held in January, too, but an exact date has not been set.

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    Senate Unanimously Passes Formal Dress Code After Uproar

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    The Senate passed a resolution Wednesday to restore the formal dress code in the upper chamber following blowback over the loosening of the rule.

    Under the resolution, which passed unanimously, senators will once again be required to wear business attire on the floor.

    Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) confirmed a rollback of the dress code last week and the move was quickly dubbed the “Fetterman Rule” over Sen. John Fetterman’s penchant for wearing hoodies and baggy shorts.

    Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who publicly split with Fetterman (D-Penn.) over the latter’s lax wardrobe, sponsored the resolution.

    Earlier Wednesday, before the resolution was passed, Fetterman assured his Democratic colleagues that he would wear a suit while speaking or presiding over the Senate floor, Punchbowl News reported.

    Last week, Fetterman took advantage of the short-lived loosened dress code and presided over Senate proceedings with his classic baggy shirt and large shorts.

    He’s also known for donning a hoodie in the Capitol complex area.

    But under the resolution, men on the Senate floor must wear “a coat, tie and slacks or other longer pants.”

    Many senators voiced outrage over the lowering of standards.

    Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.), for instance, joked about wearing a bikini.

    Nearly every Republican senator signed a letter complaining about the change. The No. 2 Senate Democrat, Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Il.), even voiced his disagreement with the move.

    Notably the loosening of the dress code only applied to senators.

    Visitors and staffers were still required to wear the classified coat and formal clothing.

    Manchin claimed to have confided his misgivings about the change to Fetterman himself, before moving to reverse the change.

    Before the rollback of the Senate dress code, senators would often yell out “aye” or “nay” votes from the cloakroom to avoid breaching the rules.

    In his private remarks to Democrats on Wednesday, Fetterman said he’ll continue to vote from the cloakroom if he’s not wearing a suit, according to Punchbowl.

    Fetterman had practically abandoned any semblance of adherence to the code since returning to the Senate from his multi-week hospital stint for clinical depression.

    The 54-year-old senator was first elected to the upper chamber during the 2022 cycle and marked the only Senate flip of that year.

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    Musk’s X Fires Half of “Election Integrity Team”

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    Elon Musk announced on Wednesday that he has cut the Electoral Integrity team at X (formerly Twitter) in half, including the newly brought on board head of the group, Aaron Rodericks.

    When the news was reported, Musk replied “Oh you mean the ‘Election Integrity’ Team that was undermining election integrity? Yeah, they’re gone.”

    A person familiar with the circumstances, said that four people had been released, which constitutes the whole of the election integrity unit in Dublin.

    In an August blog post, X said that there were positions available on the “threat disruption” team, and that they company was “currently expanding our safety and elections teams to focus on combating manipulation, surfacing inauthentic accounts and closely monitoring the platform for emerging threats.”

    In a post concerning election integrity, the platform posted that “You may not use X’s services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes, such as posting or sharing content that may suppress participation, mislead people about when, where, or how to participate in a civic process, or lead to offline violence during an election. Any attempt to undermine the integrity of civic participation undermines our core tenets of freedom of expression and as a result, we will apply labels to violative posts informing users that the content is misleading.”

    The post clarified what that meant, however, and noted further that “Not all false or untrue information about politics or civic processes constitutes manipulation or interference. In the absence of other policy violations, the following are generally not in violation of this policy: inaccurate statements about an elected or appointed official, candidate, or political party; organic content that is polarizing, biased, hyperpartisan, or contains controversial viewpoints expressed about elections or politics; discussion of public polling information; voting and audience participation for competitions, game shows, or other entertainment purposes; using X pseudonymously or as a parody, commentary, or fan account to discuss elections or politics.”

    This comes after Musk named a new CEO in the spring, Linda Yaccarino, who had been with NBC. She had stated that X would expand trust and safety teams, along with election integrity units.

    Trust in the platform’s ability to police itself took a severe downturn after the publication of the Twitter Files, which revealed intensive bias within Twitter management toward Democrats and the left, and that government agencies had been interfering by insisting on policing speech on the site.

    Some of the meddling Twitter undertook during the 2020 presidential election included suppressing negative information about Joe Biden and his involvement with his son’s business dealings. Voters polled after the fact said that had they known about these concerns, they would not have voted for Biden in that hotly contested election.

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    WATCH LIVE: Second Republican Presidential Debate

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    Biden Dog Bites Another Secret Service Agent; 11th Incident

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    President Joe Biden’s younger dog, Commander, bit another US Secret Service agent at the White House Monday evening, CNN has learned, the 11th known biting incident involving the 2-year-old German Shepherd.

    “Yesterday around 8 p.m., a Secret Service Uniformed Division police officer came in contact with a First Family pet and was bitten. The officer was treated by medical personnel on complex,” USSS chief of communications Anthony Guglielmi told CNN in a statement.

    The injured officer spoke with Secret Service Uniformed Division Chief Alfonso M. Dyson Sr. on Tuesday and is doing OK, Guglielmi said.

    Commander has been involved in at least 11 biting incidents at the White House and in Delaware, according to CNN reporting and US Secret Service email correspondence, including a November 2022 incident where an officer was hospitalized after the dog clamped down on their arms and thighs.

    White House officials said in July that the Bidens were working through new training and leashing protocols for the family pet following the incidents.

    Asked by CNN whether the new training had taken place or if any further action would be sought, Elizabeth Alexander, communications director for the first lady, said in a statement that “the First Family continues to work on ways to help Commander handle the often unpredictable nature of the White House grounds.”

    “The President and First Lady are incredibly grateful to the Secret Service and Executive Residence staff for all they do to keep them, their family, and the country safe,” she continued.

    Another of Biden’s dogs, Major, was involved in biting incidents at the White House. The German Shepherd later moved out of the White House, and Commander arrived at the White House in 2021.

    The July email correspondence, obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests by the conservative group Judicial Watch, reflected 10 incidents.

    In one incident in October, first lady Dr. Jill Biden “couldn’t regain control” of the dog as it charged a member of Secret Service staff.

    “I believe it’s only a matter of time before an agent/officer is attacked or bit,” the staff member warned in an email.

    While Secret Service agents are not responsible for the handling of the first family’s pets, they can come into frequent contact with the animals.

    “This isn’t a Secret Service thing. This is a this is a workplace safety issue,” CNN contributor and former USSS agent Jonathan Wackrow told CNN.

    “There’s uniqueness here where it’s the residence of the president of the United States, but it’s also the workplace for hundreds, thousands of people. And you can’t bring a hazard into the workplace. And that’s what is essentially happening with this dog. One time you can say it’s an accident, but now multiple incidents, it’s a serious issue,” he added.

    Wackrow called it a “significant hazard” for agents on duty at the White House residence.

    “I’m sure that the Bidens love the dog. I’m sure that it’s a member of the family like every dog is, but you’re creating a significant hazard to those who support you – support the office of the president,” he said.

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    Everything You Need to Know About Tonight’s Second Republican Debate

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    It’s round two for seven 2024 GOP presidential aspirants, all of whom are seeking a breakout moment in the second Republican primary debate.

    Here’s what you need to know before tuning in.

    When and where is the debate?

    The candidates will converge at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. for the two-hour verbal rumble starting at 9 p.m. ET.

    The debate will be shown on the Fox Business Network, which will begin its special coverage at 6 p.m. with a special edition of “The Bottom Line” hosted by Dagen McDowell and Sean Duffy.

    Beginning at 8 p.m., FBN will host an hour-long “Countdown to the Debate” special featuring an array of Fox stars.

    How can I watch it?

    In addition to Fox Business, Univision is co-hosting and airing the debate, which can also be seen on Fox News, Fox Nation, and Rumble.

    Live TV streaming service Sling TV carries Fox News, but you’ll need to subscribe to a base plan + an add-on to stream it.

    Who is moderating the Republican debate?

    Fox News host Dana Perino, Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney, and Univision’s Ilia Calderón will moderate the showdown after Fox News’ Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum oversaw the first debate last month in Milwaukee.

    What are the Republican debate topics?

    The moderators have largely kept their cards close to the vest ahead of Wednesday night, but they have indicated that more than economic issues will be discussed.

    “I think the audience is interested in a wide variety of subjects and issues that are going to be front and center in the election. We don’t want to make it all about the economy just because it’s on Fox Business,” Varney told The Post.

    Expect topics such as the growing migrant crisis, the war in Ukraine, crime, worker strikes, and more to be discussed.

    Which candidates will be there?

    Seven of the eight candidates from the first debate will be there after former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson failed to qualify.

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Gov. and Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum will take part.

    The lineup is determined by polling position, so DeSantis will be center stage.

    From left to right as the audience sees it, the contenders will be: Burgum, Christie, Haley, DeSantis, Ramaswamy, Scott, and Pence.

    Will Donald Trump attend the Republican debate?

    Obviously not.

    As with the first debate, the former president and GOP frontrunner will skip the second showdown to visit Michigan and rally with striking members of the United Auto Workers union.

    President Biden quickly added a stop at the Michigan picket line to his Tuesday schedule after Trump’s visit was confirmed.

    Union workers are demanding higher pay and benefits from the Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler. They walked off the job Sept. 15.

    Trump has cited his massive polling lead as reason to forgo the debate.

    What’s changed since the last debate?

    For one thing, Trump has solidified his lead. Around the time of the first debate, he had a roughly 41 percentage-point edge nationally over his GOP peers, now it sits at around 43 points, per the RealClearPolitics average.

    Additionally, there’s been a slight reshuffling of the lower-tier candidates in national polling. Pence has been dethroned from fourth place by Haley, who appears to be overtaking Ramaswamy for third, according to RCP.

    How did the candidates qualify?

    Prerequisites for the second debate were slightly more rigorous than the first.

    To qualify, candidates needed to garner at least 50,000 individual donors — up from 40,000 in August.

    They also needed to lock down at least 3% in two national polls or 3% in one national poll and 3% in two polls from the first four early states. This was up from 1% last time.

    Candidates attending the second debate also had to sign multiple party pledges — including a commitment to back the eventual nominee, and only attend party-sanctioned debates.

    Which candidates did not qualify?

    In addition to Hutchinson, a handful of longshot hopefuls will not be onstage. They are: Former Texas Rep. Will Hurd, Los Angeles radio talk show host Larry Elder, Michigan businessman Perry Johnson, Texas businessman and pastor Ryan Binkley and former Cranston, RI, Mayor Steve Laffey.

    Miami Mayor Frances Suarez, who didn’t make the cut for the first debate, has since dropped out.

    Both Elder and Johnson cried foul over their exclusion from the first debate and revealed plans to sue the RNC as a result.

    The third debate will take place in Miami on Nov. 8, while the 2024 Republican primary calendar begins with the Iowa caucuses Jan. 15.

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    Sen. Menendez Pleads Not Guilty to Bribery Charges in Federal Court

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    U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to federal charges accusing him of pocketing bribes of cash and gold bars in exchange for wielding his political influence to secretly advance Egyptian interests and do favors for local businessmen.

    Menendez led his wife, who also pleaded not guilty in the case, by hand out of the courtroom after the brief hearing in the lower Manhattan federal courthouse days after prosecutors unsealed an indictment alleging vast corruption by the Democrat.

    Menendez spoke in court only when each defendant stood to acknowledge that they understood the charges against them. A lawyer entered the not guilty plea for Menendez, who was forced to step down as chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee after being indicted.

    The senator was ordered released on a $100,000 bond, and he must surrender any personal passports but will be allowed to keep an official passport that would allow him to travel outside the U.S. for government business. The judge ordered him not to have any contact with his co-defendants except for his wife. He also can’t have contact with Senate staffers who know about the facts of the case outside of the presence of lawyers.

    A defiant Menendez has said allegations that he abused his power to line his pockets are baseless. He has said he is confident he will be exonerated and has no intention of leaving the Senate.

    Still, calls for Menendez to resign continued to mount on Wednesday with Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, saying “he should step down.” More than half of Senate Democrats have now said that Menendez should resign, including fellow New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who said the indictment includes ” shocking allegations of corruption and specific, disturbing details of wrongdoing.”

    It’s the second corruption case in a decade against Menendez, whose last trial involving different allegations ended with jurors failing to reach a verdict in 2017.

    Authorities say they found nearly $500,000 in cash, much of it hidden in clothing and closets, as well as more than $100,000 in gold bars in a search of the New Jersey home Menendez, 69, shares with his wife.

    Charged alongside Menendez is his wife, Nadine, who prosecutors say played a key role in collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes from three New Jersey businessmen seeking help from the longtime lawmaker. An attorney for Nadine Menendez entered a not guilty plea for her on Wednesday, and she was ordered to be released on $250,000 bond secured by her Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, home.

    Prosecutors allege repeated actions by Menendez to benefit the authoritarian government of Egypt. They say Menendez also tried to interfere in criminal investigations involving associates, in one case pushing to install in New Jersey a federal prosecutor who he believed he could influence to derail a case.

    Two of the businessmen, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes, also were arraigned and pleaded not guilty. The third, Wael Hana, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges including conspiracy to commit bribery. Hana was arrested at Kennedy Airport on Tuesday after returning voluntarily from Egypt to face the charges, and he was ordered freed pending trial.

    Menendez, in his first public remarks after last week’s indictment, said on Monday that the cash found in his home was drawn from his personal savings accounts over the years and that he kept it on hand for emergencies.

    One of the envelopes full of cash found at his home, however, bore Daibes’ DNA and was marked with the real estate developer’s return address, according to prosecutors.

    Prosecutors said Hana promised to put Menendez’s wife on his company’s payroll in a low- or no-show job in exchange for Menendez using his influential post to facilitate foreign military sales and financing to Egypt. Prosecutors allege Hana also paid $23,000 toward her home mortgage, wrote $30,000 checks to her consulting company, promised her envelopes of cash, sent her exercise equipment and bought some of the gold bars that were found in the couple’s home.

    The indictment alleges repeated actions by Menendez to benefit Egypt, despite U.S. government misgivings over the country’s human rights record that in recent years have prompted Congress to attach restrictions on aid.

    Prosecutors, who detailed meetings and dinners between Menendez and Egyptian officials, say Menendez gave sensitive U.S. government information to Egyptian officials and ghostwrote a letter to fellow senators encouraging them to lift a hold on $300 million in aid to Egypt, one of the top recipients of U.S. military support.

    Prosecutors have accused Menendez of pressuring a U.S. agricultural official to stop opposing a lucrative deal that gave Hana’s company a monopoly over certifying that imported meat met religious standards.

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