Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Arrested After Mentioning Bill Gates’ Ties to Jeffrey Epstein
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The head of a conservative group was booted from Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting and arrested Saturday after questioning founder Warren Buffett’s politics and bringing up dead pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Peter Flaherty, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), had been recognized to speak in support of a proposal to require the roles of CEO and chairman be held by two different people. Both of those titles are currently held by Buffett, and Flaherty argued the Omaha-based company would be less identified with Buffett’s political activities if the chair was independent.

After getting into how Buffett donated billions of dollars to Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates’ foundation, as well as efforts supporting Critical Race Theory and gender ideology, Flaherty said a Berkshire official approached to tell him to stay on topic. Buffett gave him the go-ahead to continue, and that’s when Flaherty mentioned Gates’ ties to Epstein.

“We know how much Bill Gates cares about children,” Flaherty said. “He met and traveled with Jeffrey Epstein many times after Epstein was convicted of sex crimes.”

Video posted to social media shows the audience erupt in boos and some whistling when Flaherty brought up Epstein. Flaherty told The Daily Wire that at some point he realized his microphone had been cut as he continued to speak about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation before two security officials removed him from the venue and Omaha police arrested him. Arrest documents show Flaherty was charged with refusing to comply with a request to leave. He was released on a $250 bond and is expected back in court on May 22.

“I believe I touched the third rail of billionaire relations: Jeffrey Epstein,” Flaherty told The Daily Wire on Monday. With more than a decade of shareholder activism under his belt, Flaherty decried what he said was an “unprecedented” arrest and said Berkshire Hathaway had “no right to silence me.”

Video appears to show Buffett, who was on stage, responding to Flaherty, saying “you crossed the boundary” before explaining that his donations came from his money and not funds from Berkshire Hathaway. Bloomberg News reported that the proposal sponsored by NLPC was defeated by a wide margin, though Flaherty told The Daily Wire that he counts defeated proposals as victories when they garner a certain amount of support.

The Daily Wire left a voicemail with Berkshire Hathaway seeking comment.

In 2008, after Epstein was accused of sexually abusing female minors in Florida, he reached a deal with federal prosecutors. He pleaded guilty to state-level prostitution charges, registered as a sex offender, and served roughly 13 months in jail and in a work-release program. Epstein died at the age of 66 in his New York City jail cell in August 2019 after being arrested on sex trafficking charges involving young girls and pleading not guilty.

Gates has acknowledged having dinners with Epstein for what he says were philanthropic reasons, and has called those meetings a “mistake.” Melinda French Gates cited her now-ex-husband’s meetings with Epstein, whom she called “abhorrent,” while telling CBS last year about the various factors that led to her divorce from Bill Gates.

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Largest IT Outage in History: Airlines, Banks, Health Care Disrupted

Major airlines, medical facilities, businesses and police forces around the world are currently being affected by a massive information technology glitch affecting Microsoft cloud computing services early Friday.

The cybersecurity company CrowdStrike said Friday that the outages were the result of one of its routine software updates gone wrong, and was “not a security incident or cyberattack.”

CrowdStrike, which provides cybersecurity services and software for many large corporations that use Microsoft systems, has issued a new software update that has automatically fixed some computers. But some others must be manually restarted and patched, causing massive delays.

Microsoft announced late Friday morning that its 365 apps and services have recovered. Some individual customers may still be impacted, however.

The glitch has brought chaos to a number of key institutions and businesses around the world that may take some time to clear up.

Many flights have been grounded across the globe and stores and broadcasters in several countries went offline. According to aviation technology company FlightAware, the tech glitch was responsible for more than half of the U.S.’s 1,352 flight delays and cancellations before 8 a.m. (ET) on Friday.

Major carriers, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, all issued ground stops Friday morning citing communications issues. Passengers traveling to the United States from as far away as Japan have had their flights canceled. Delta has ordered a “global ground stop,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell, a member of the House subcommittee on cybersecurity.

George Kurtz, president and CEO of CrowdStrike, said the problems could persist for some time yet.

“It could be some time for some systems that just automatically won’t recover,” he told NBC’s “TODAY” this morning.

Kurtz said the company was “deeply sorry for the impact that we’ve caused to customers, to travelers, to anyone affected by this,” adding the issue has been fixed on their end.

“Many of the customers are rebooting the system, and it’s coming up, and it’ll be operational because we fixed it on our end,” he said. “We’re just trying to sort out where the negative interaction was,” he said of the faulty update that affected Windows PCs.

Earlier, in a post on X, Kurtz said that the outages were due to a “defect found in a single content update for Windows hosts.”

In Europe, Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport said there would be delays to passenger check-ins “because of a technical fault,” and Aena, which manages 46 airports in Spain, said “an incident in the computer system” could cause delays. Several budget airlines in South Korea reported technical problems and delays, The Associated Press said. Sydney Airport, one of Australia’s largest, said there would be delays.

Paris’ airport authority said in a statement that while its systems were not affected ahead of next week’s Olympic Games opening ceremony, “this situation has an impact on the operations of airlines at Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly airports: delays in check-in, delays and temporary suspension of some flights,” according to the AP.

The Paris Olympics organizing committee told Reuters that while the outage was slowing its operations, its ticket sales remained unaffected. Elsewhere in the world of sports, British soccer team Manchester United delayed a ticket release scheduled for Friday, blaming problems with Microsoft.

That was just one of many businesses affected across the United Kingdom, with train operators blaming IT outages for cancellations Friday morning and the London Stock Exchange saying that a “3rd party global technical issue” for stopping its regulatory news service posting any new items.

The country’s National Health Service posted on X that “the NHS is aware of a global IT outage and an issue with a [general practitioner] appointment and patient record system.” The statement added that the health system’s emergency phone service was still operating.

In Israel, too, at least 15 major hospitals have been affected, according to local media. However, most medical centers have now either returned to normal operations or reverted to manual operations. The emergency line of the country’s ambulance service is also affected.

At 2:20 a.m. (ET), Alaska State Troopers said that 911 and non-emergency phone numbers across the state were not working “due to a nationwide technology-related o kouts and countless websites.

The glitch has affected news outlets, too, including NBC News. Sky News, NBC News’ British partner broadcaster, was temporarily unable to air live news. Broadcasters in Australia also reported problems.

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Biden’s Family Discussing His Exit Plan from Race — White House Denies

Members of President Joe Biden’s family have discussed what an exit from his campaign might look like, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

The overall tone of the conversations has been that any exit plan — should Biden decide to take that step, as some of his closest allies increasingly believe he will — should put the party in the best position to beat former President Donald Trump while also being worthy of the more than five decades he has served the country in elected office, these people said.

Biden’s family members have specifically discussed how he would want to end his re-election bid on his own timing and with a carefully calculated plan in place. Considerations about the impact of the campaign on his health, his family and the stability of the country are among those at the forefront of the discussions, the people familiar with those discussions said.

The prospect of Biden’s considering stepping aside, much less that his family is gaming out a possible exit plan, is an extraordinary development that comes after he has repeatedly said he would not relinquish his position as the presumptive nominee of the party.

But concerns have mounted among party leaders, donors and even officials who are part of his re-election effort with every day that has passed since a devastating debate three weeks ago. At the same time, Democrats are watching Republicans rally around Trump, who just survived an assassination attempt and accepted his party’s nomination Thursday night.

White House spokesman Andrew Bates denied that any such exit discussions are happening among the family.

“That is not happening, period,” he said. “The individuals making those claims are not speaking for his family or his team — and they will be proven wrong. Keep the faith.”

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Friday, Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon acknowledged that the campaign has seen some “slippage,” but she said it’s been “a small movement” and insisted Biden is “absolutely” still in the race.

Ron Klain, Biden’s former White House chief of staff and an adviser to him for decades, said in an interview that Biden is hearing the public and private calls for him to exit the race.

“I think he’s feeling the pressure,” said Klain, who has spoken to Biden recently. “I want him to stay in.”

Klain’s take is that it makes no sense for Biden to be pushed aside. He said some in his party underestimate Trump at their own peril and undervalue the fact that Biden is the only one who has beaten him.

Biden and the people closest to him have felt burned by efforts to push him out that they see as backhanded and disrespectful. The family is distraught and moving through the stages of anger and grief over how people they perceived to be friends have treated the president.

“There was a much more dignified way to do this if this is what they wanted,” a Biden ally said. “This is no way to treat a public servant who has done a lot for this country.”

Discussions about how to game out a fitting plan for Biden to step aside have also played out among senior staff members, not just the president’s family, according to a person close to the re-election effort. Bates also denied these discussions are happening.

The family members Biden has relied on most include first lady Jill Biden, his son Hunter and his sister, Valerie Owens, as well as a few longtime close aides who have been at the core of the discussions.

The conversations about Biden’s political future have raged while he remains at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, sidelined after he tested positive for Covid on Wednesday.

On Thursday, some of Biden’s closest aides were calling trusted allies to get a sense of where they thought his political standing is, according to a person familiar with the phone calls.

A Democratic lawmaker described Biden in this moment as “reflective.” A third person close to Biden described the president as politically “fighting for his life.”

There are growing expectations among some allies that if Biden were to exit, it could be in the coming days. But they also caution that it still is up to him to make the decision and that he is not wired to quit even when he faces seemingly insurmountable adversity.

About the possibility any announcement is imminent, a person close to the Bidens said, “We don’t even know what we’re doing tomorrow.”

Still, Biden is not insusceptible to the mounting pressure from his own party, and he has said himself since the debate that he may consider leaving the race if there were no path for him to win.

“I think it’s inevitable,” a second person close to the re-election effort said of Biden’s withdrawing from the race.

As reports surfaced, including from NBC News, that Biden had shown signs that he could budge from his insistence that he remain the nominee, rumors and reports — some that the president’s allies flatly denied — began to fly. They included speculation about timing of a potential exit, whether Biden would immediately endorse Vice President Kamala Harris and who was on the shortlist to be her vice presidential running mate.

Among the reports: that longtime speechwriter and historian Jon Meacham was writing Biden’s exit remarks.

Meacham rebuffed the account.

“The report is totally false,” he said.

Amid the turmoil the Biden campaign sent out talking points to Democrats, according to a Democratic strategist: “President Biden has not spoken to congressional leadership today. The president is his party’s nominee, having won 14 million votes during the Democratic primary. He’s running for re-election, and that will not change until he wins re-election.”

As many in his own party turned against him, Biden continued this week to check in with allies and gauge their sentiments.

“With all the rumors that I’m leaving, I’m not,” Biden told the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights leader and MSNBC host, in a phone call Monday, Sharpton said.

“I will support whatever you decide,” Sharpton said he told the president.

Sharpton said in an interview Thursday that legacy is something Biden “has to think of” as he contemplates his political future. “If there’s anyone that could make a comeback … it’s Joe Biden. Whether he chooses to or not, I don’t know.”

Some in Biden’s camp had hoped he would be able to weather the storm of pressure for him to step aside — that news events, including the Republican National Convention, would turn the national conversation away from whether and when he might end his campaign. But even the attempted assassination of Trump on Saturday did little to quell the furor around Biden. If anything, Democrats have since turned up the heat.

A major factor driving the private pressure on Biden is the fear among Democrats that his candidacy could rob them not only of the White House and the Senate but also of a chance to flip the House to their control. That helps explain why senior lawmakers have pushed on Biden to reconsider his decision to stay in the race.

“The House is on the brink,” said Brian Wolff, the treasurer of the House Majority PAC, the main super PAC supporting House Democratic candidates. “These candidates don’t deserve that.”

Wolff said Democratic incumbents and challengers in tough races cannot risk splintering their own voter coalitions by publicly taking one side or the other as Biden considers his options.

“They can’t afford to alienate the base that wants to support Biden or the base that wants someone else,” he said.

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Whistleblowers: Most of Trump’s Security Detail Were Not Secret Service

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., wrote on X Friday that “whistleblowers tell me that MOST of Trump’s security detail working the event last Saturday were not even Secret Service.

“DHS assigned unprepared and inexperienced personnel,” he added, posting a letter he sent today to United States Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

“Whistleblowers who have direct knowledge of the event have approached my office. According to the allegations, the July 13 rally was considered to be a ‘loose’ security event. For example, detection canines were not used to monitor entry and detect threats in the usual manner,” Hawley wrote.

“Individuals without proper designations were able to gain access to backstage areas. Department personnel did not appropriately police the security buffer around the podium and were also not stationed at regular intervals around the event’s security perimeter.”

“In addition, whistleblower allegations suggest the majority of DHS officials were not in fact USSS agents but instead drawn from the department’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). This is especially concerning given that HSI agents were unfamiliar with standard protocols typically used at these types of events, according to the allegations,” Hawley also said.

Hawley used the letter to ask Mayorkas to respond to multiple questions regarding security at the Trump campaign event.

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LIST: 6 People Kamala Harris Could Choose for Her VP

Cries for President Joe Biden to drop his reelection bid have politicos bracing for movement from the president as soon as this weekend. If he does step down, Vice President Kamala Harris is considered the favorite to replace him.

And while Biden hasn’t announced anything yet, a future new Democratic Party ticket has already been speculated. Harris will need her own running mate.

Here are a few options for Harris if she takes the helm of the party, though there will be some notable omissions, including Govs. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) and Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI), who are reportedly not interested in being vice president.

Gov. Andy Beshear (D-KY)

The southern governor’s name has been floated often as someone who could convince Republicans who are shaky about former President Donald Trump to vote for the Democratic ticket, given his history of capturing those votes in deep-red Kentucky.

He’s viewed as a good counterbalance to Harris, who showed very progressive views as a California senator.

Former North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue said Beshear fit the prototype of a “moderate, middle-of-the-road” Democrat unbeholden to the far Left.

“I do think he can be vice president,” she said.

Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ)

Kelly is the twice-elected senator of swing state Arizona who would bring his expertise and appeal as a veteran and former astronaut to the ticket if selected. Similar to Beshear, he’s considered a more centrist Democrat who could expand Harris’s voter base.

Kelly has routinely pushed for stronger border security measures, normally a strong part of the Republican platform, which could appeal to voters who don’t think the Democratic Party cares enough about the border crisis.

Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC)

Cooper is also similar to Beshear, more so than Kelly, given his status as a southern Democrat who found electoral success in a state that doesn’t usually vote blue in the presidential election.

North Carolina has only voted for a Democrat once since 1980 but has been considered a swing state in the past few election cycles, which have been very closely contested. If North Carolina voters who feel Cooper represents them on the national level and vote for the ticket, he could be invaluable to its success.

He recently campaigned with Harris in North Carolina, saying, “I know she is a fighter, I know she gets the job done, and I know that she and Joe Biden need four more years to finish the job.”

Gov. Josh Shapiro (D-PA)

Shapiro’s state is also invaluable to a possible Democratic victory in November. He’s also a rising star in the party who has cultivated his own popularity enough to be a candidate to replace Biden in his own right, which may affect his efforts to join Harris on the ticket.

Another complication is the fact Shapiro still has plenty of time to serve as his state’s governor, given he was recently elected for the first time in 2022. But if these matters were overcome, Shapiro could offer his services as a moderate who has been able to work across party lines.

Because of Shapiro’s popularity and how much time he has left serving his state, he could be the most unlikely pick for Harris’s running mate.

Gov. JB Pritzker (D-IL)

Pritzker doesn’t offer the bonuses other governors do. He isn’t the governor of a swing state, and he’s not as centrist as other Democratic governors, but he comes with his own outstanding personal wealth as a billionaire, which could serve Harris’s campaign well.

He’s a possible presidential replacement for Biden as well given his built-in campaign war chest, but has stuck by the president in public.

One undeniable appeal to Pritzker is that he is a midwestern governor who could relate to some of the blue wall states — Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and his home state of Illinois.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg ran for president in 2020 and has been floated as a candidate to replace Biden as well. Unlike the others, Buttigieg already has a position within the Biden administration, which could make it easy for him to become vice president.

He also likely has a working relationship with Harris that not many of the other vice presidential candidates do, and he is 42 years old, only three years older than Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), Trump’s running mate.

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Group of House Dems Releases Joint Statement Calling on Biden to Drop Out

Five more House Democrats on Friday joined the growing number of congressional lawmakers who have called on President Biden to drop out of the 2024 election.

In a joint statement, Reps. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., Marc Veasey, D-Texas, Chuy Garcia, D-Illinois and Marc Pocan, D-Wisc., urged Biden to “pass the torch to a new generation of Democratic leaders.”

“Mr. President, with great admiration for you personally, sincere respect for your decades of public service and patriotic leadership, and deep appreciation for everything we have accomplished together during your presidency, it is now time for you to pass the torch to a new generation of Democratic leaders,” the lawmakers wrote.

“We must defeat Donald Trump to save our democracy, protect our alliances and the rules-based international order, and continue building on the strong foundation you have established over the past four years,” they said.

“At this point, however, we must face the reality that widespread public concerns about your age and fitness are jeopardizing what should be a winning campaign. These perceptions may not be fair, but they have hardened in the aftermath of last month’s debate and are now unlikely to change. We believe the most responsible and patriotic thing you can do in this moment is to step aside as our nominee while continuing to lead our party from the White House.”

Veasey is the first member of the Congressional Black Caucus, a group that has strongly backed Biden, to call for the president to step aside.

A fifth House Democrat, Rep. Sean Casten of Illinois, separately urged Biden to drop out in an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune.

“It’s time for Joe Biden to pass the torch,” Casten wrote.

“[P]olitics, like life, isn’t fair. And as long as this election is instead litigated over which candidate is more likely to be held accountable for public gaffes and ‘senior moments,’ I believe that Biden is not only going to lose but is also uniquely incapable of shifting that conversation.”

Additionally, Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., on Friday called on Biden to suspend his presidential campaign. He is now the third Democratic senator to do so.

“While the decision to withdraw from the campaign is President Biden’s alone, I believe it is in the best interests of our country for him to step aside,” Heinrich said in a statement.

There are now 28 Congressional Democrats who have called on Biden to step aside. That number represents more than 10% of elected Democrats in Congress.

Behind the scenes, more and more Democratic party officials, top donors and key Biden allies are reportedly urging the president to reconsider his decision to stay in the race. Should Biden drop out ahead of the Democratic National Committee convention in August, Vice President Kamala Harris is acknowledged to be in the best position to receive the party’s nomination — although some Democrats fear she would also lose to Trump and prefer that a candidate unaffiliated with the current administration be nominated in an open convention.

Biden has made no public indication that he intends to step aside, and his campaign has forcefully denied all suggestions to the contrary.

“Absolutely the president is in this race, you’ve heard him say that time and again,” Biden Campaign Chair Jen O’Malley Dillon said Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“I’m not here to say this hasn’t been a tough several weeks for the campaign, there’s no doubt that it has been, and we’ve definitely seen some slippage in support. But it has been a small movement.”

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Russia Sentences WSJ Reporter to 16 Years on Espionage Charges

Evan Gershkovich, the first American journalist to be arrested on espionage charges in Russia since the Cold War, has been found guilty of spying and sentenced to 16 years in prison by a Russian court, in a case that the US government, his newspaper and supporters have denounced as a sham.

The court in Yekaterinburg announced the guilty verdict and sentencing on Friday shortly after 3 p.m. local time (8 a.m. ET).

The court heard closing arguments and 32-year-old Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter, delivered his closing remarks behind closed doors on Friday morning.

The case’s rapid conclusion comes just weeks after Gershkovich first appeared in a glass cage with his head recently shaved at the start of his trial on June 26. On that day, Gershkovich stood cross-armed, occasionally smiling and waving to the crowd of reporters.

The speed of the trial has raised questions over whether the Kremlin is intending to use him as part of a prisoner swap deal with the United States, suggestions which spokesman Dmitry Peskov left without comment when asked about them on a Friday conference call ahead of the verdict announcement.

In June, Moscow confirmed again that contacts are ongoing regarding a potential prisoner exchange deal for Gershkovich, but Peskov repeatedly insisted that those conversations were to be carried out in “absolute silence” to prevent complications.

Gershkovich was arrested while reporting for the WSJ, during a trip to Yekaterinburg in March 2023, and later accused of spying for the CIA. Russian authorities have never offered any public evidence to support their claims.

Within two weeks of his arrest in March 2023, the US State Department designated him as wrongfully detained and called for his immediate release.

In a statement following Friday’s sentencing, Gershkovich’s employer said: “This disgraceful, sham conviction comes after Evan has spent 478 days in prison, wrongfully detained, away from his family and friends, prevented from reporting, all for doing his job as a journalist.

“We will continue to do everything possible to press for Evan’s release and to support his family,” the statement from Dow Jones CEO and Wall Street Journal Publisher Almar Latour and Wall Street Journal Editor in Chief Emma Tucker continued.

“Journalism is not a crime, and we will not rest until he’s released. This must end now,” it added.

The verdict has yet to enter into force, and the defense can appeal the conviction within 15 days, judge Andrey Mineyev said while delivering his verdict. The court also ordered Gershkovich to pay procedural costs of 6,708 rubles ($77), and for some of his personal items, including an iPhone and a notepad, to be destroyed.

According to the judge, the time Gershkovich has already spent in detention since last March will count towards his sentence.

Following his arrest, Gershkovich was held in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo prison, spending almost every hour of the day in a small cell, before being transferred to the city of Yekaterinburg in the Urals more than 1,100 miles east of the capital. He passed the time by writing letters to his friends and family, his parents said in an interview with the WSJ, adding that he was allowed just one hour of walking per day.

Gershkovich, the US government, and the WSJ have vehemently denied the charges against him.

US and Western officials have accused Russia of using Gershkovich and other jailed foreigners as bargaining chips for possible prisoner exchanges.

A high-profile swap in 2022 saw US basketball star Brittney Griner exchanged for arms dealer Viktor Bout. But Russia refused to release another jailed US citizen, Paul Whelan, as it was seeking a former colonel from Russia’s domestic spy organization in return.

In an interview with right-wing US media personality Tucker Carlson in February, Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested “an agreement can be reached” with the United States to release Gershkovich and alluded to the case of a Russian national convicted of carrying out an assassination in Berlin in 2019.

The trial of Gershkovich, the American-born son of Soviet-era emigres to the US, has highlighted the extent to which Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has harmed relations between Moscow and Washington.

In their indictment, Russian prosecutors said that “under instructions from the CIA” and “using painstaking conspiratorial methods,” Gershkovich “was collecting secret information” about a Russian tank factory.

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Appeals Court Blocks Biden Student Loan Plan

A federal appeals court blocked President Biden’s student loan repayment plan, which would have lowered payments for millions of people who borrowed money for education.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday, granting a motion for an administrative stay filed by Republican-led states. The order will prohibit the Biden administration from implementing parts of its Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) program that weren’t already blocked by lower courts, The Associated Press reported.

Earlier Thursday, the administration announced it would forgive another $1.2 billion in student loans for 35,000 people. The people who would have loans forgiven are teachers, nurses, law enforcement officers and first responders under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

The announcement brings the total number of people who have received relief to 4.76 million.

The SAVE plan has faced two separate legal challenges.

In June, two injunctions handed down by federal judges put parts of the plan on pause. A Kansas judge said the Education Department can’t enact the full scope of the plan because it did not receive authority from Congress to do so. A judge in Missouri ruled the department can’t forgive loans because it illegally deprives state loan operators of revenue.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin posted online celebrating the appeals court decision in his lawsuit against Biden.

“This is the latest blow to President Biden’s unlawful plans to cancel student loans without congressional approval. The president is disregarding the separation of powers in the constitution and the fundamentals so clearly articulated in schoolhouse rock,” Griffin said.

The ruling blocks all aspects of the SAVE plan.

The Department of Education said in a statement to The Hill that it is assessing the impacts of the ruling and will be in touch with borrowers if it impacts them.

“Our Administration will continue to aggressively defend the SAVE Plan – which has been helping over 8 million borrowers access lower monthly payments, including 4.5 million borrowers who have had a zero dollar payment each month,” a department spokesperson said in a statement. “And, we won’t stop fighting against Republican elected officials’ efforts to raise costs on millions of their own constituents’ student loan payments.”

In a statement Thursday evening, Education Secretary Michael Cardona said the decision could have “devastating consequences” for millions if it remains in effect.

“It’s shameful that politically motivated lawsuits waged by Republican elected officials are once again standing in the way of lower payments for millions of borrowers,” he said.

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Zuck Calls Trump ‘Badass’ Without Endorsing Him

Mark Zuckerberg said that former President Donald Trump’s immediate reaction after being shot was “badass” and inspiring, and helps explain his appeal to voters.

“Seeing Donald Trump get up after getting shot in the face and pump his fist in the air with the American flag is one of the most badass things I’ve ever seen in my life,” the Meta Platforms Inc. chief executive officer said Thursday during an interview at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

“On some level as an American, it’s like hard to not get kind of emotional about that spirit and that fight, and I think that that’s why a lot of people like the guy.”

Zuckerberg, 40, declined to endorse Trump or his presumed opponent, President Joe Biden, adding that he’s “not planning” to be involved in the election in any way. Still, his comments add to a growing chorus of Silicon Valley leaders, including Tesla Inc. billionaire Elon Musk and venture capitalists Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz, who are warming to the former president, some pledging donations to his campaign. Zuckerberg made the comments during a wide-ranging discussion about the future of AI, social media and more for The Circuit with Emily Chang. The full episode is set to air on Tuesday.

Zuckerberg said Meta is making changes that he hopes will mean Facebook is not as much of a flashpoint in elections going forward. “The main thing that I hear from people is that they actually want to see less political content on our services because they come to our services to connect with people.”

Meta is already recommending less political content to its users, he added. “I think you’re going to see our services play less of a role in this election than they have in the past.”

Zuckerberg’s relationship with Trump has been complicated by Trump’s use of Meta’s products to reach his followers. The former president’s posts have routinely contained misinformation or challenged Meta’s rules. The company suspended Trump from both Facebook and Instagram for two years in the wake of the January 6, 2021, Capitol riots. At the time, Zuckerberg posted that Trump was using his account to “undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor.”

While the accounts have since been reinstated, Trump indicated he hasn’t forgiven Meta or Zuckerberg, and recently suggested that he plans to retaliate. He called Facebook the “enemy of the people” in March. Earlier this month, Trump also appeared to warn Zuckerberg. “All I can say is that if I’m elected President, we will pursue Election Fraudsters at levels never seen before, and they will be sent to prison for long periods of time,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “We already know who you are. DON’T DO IT! ZUCKERBUCKS, be careful!”

Trump has reversed policy positions in the name of punishing Meta. While he was president, Trump pushed for a ban of the Chinese-owned video app, TikTok. Trump has since changed his stance, arguing in Businessweek that a ban would be too beneficial to Meta’s business.

Zuckerberg said he welcomes competition. “It’s good,” he said on The Circuit. “I think we’re doing pretty well here. We’re gaining market share. So I don’t know. They’ll go do what they need to do but I think we’re gonna be fine and we’re gonna continue doing well in this space either way.”

When asked if he thought TikTok should be banned, Zuckerberg demurred. “That’s above my pay grade,” he said.

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Lou Dobbs, Cable-News Pioneer and Conservative Pundit, Dies at 78

Lou Dobbs, the conservative political pundit and longtime host of “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” on CNN and then Fox Business Network, has died. He was 78.

“It’s with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of ‘The Great Lou Dobbs,’” reads a post on Dobbs’ X account. “Lou was a fighter till the very end — fighting for what mattered to him the most, God, his family and the country. Lou’s legacy will forever live on as a patriot and a great American. We ask for your prayers for Lou’s wonderful wife Debu, children and grandchildren.”

Dobbs was a commentator, author and host of “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” which originally premiered on CNN in 1980 as “Moneyline.” Dobbs anchored the series and served as CNN’s chief economics correspondent, later taking on the role of executive vice president at the cable news channel.

As “Moneyline” evolved into a more opinion-based program, it was renamed to “Lou Dobbs Moneyline” and then “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” which Dobbs presented from 2003 until he left CNN in 2009. He moved to Fox Business Network in 2011 and started up a new iteration of “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” which was canceled in 2021 after Fox was hit with a defamation lawsuit from voting machine vendor Smartmatic, following comments made on-air by Dobbs and other commentators. Dobbs was also named in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit, which Fox settled for $787.5 million. “Lou Dobbs Tonight” returned as a streaming program on Lindell TV in January 2024.

Donald Trump commemorated Dobbs, who showed staunch support for the former president, on Truth Social. “The Great Lou Dobbs has just passed away — A friend, and truly incredible Journalist, Reporter, and Talent,” Trump wrote. “He understood the World, and what was ‘happening,’ better than others. Lou was unique in so many ways, and loved our Country. Our warmest condolences to his wonderful wife, Debi, and family. He will be greatly missed!”

Dobbs was born in Childress County, Texas, in 1945 and attended Harvard University. He began his career in journalism in 1970 as a police and fire reporter for Arizona’s KBLU. He went on to become a TV anchor and reporter in Phoenix and then relocated to Seattle.

He joined CNN when it launched in 1980 and worked in high-powered positions at the cabler until 2009. During the Barack Obama administration, Dobbs promoted Birtherism, the false claim that the former president was not born in the U.S. He held strong anti-immigration views and supported Trump until the very end, posting on X about the former president just hours before his death.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Lou Dobbs,” said Fox News Media in a statement. “An incredible business mind with a gift for broadcasting, Lou helped pioneer cable news into a successful and influential industry. We are immensely grateful for his many contributions and send our heartfelt condolences to his family.”

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RNC Day 4: Trump Accepts Nomination, Delivers Speech on ‘Unity’

On the final night of the Republican National Convention, former President Donald Trump accepted the GOP presidential nomination and claimed an “incredible victory” in November to raucous applause.

“I am running to be president for all of America, not half of America, because there is no victory in winning for half of America,” Trump said after he surprised the crowd by appearing onstage during the musical rendition of “God Bless the USA.”

“So tonight, with faith and devotion, I proudly accept your nomination for president of the United States.

The address was his first since a gunman attempted to assassinate Trump during a Saturday rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, which has cast a long shadow over the convention. Trump’s ear was bandaged from a gunshot wound, and delegates throughout the week began to bandage their own ears in a show of unity with the former president.

“As you already know, the assassin’s bullet came within a quarter of an inch of taking my life. So many people have asked me what happened, tell us what happened please, and therefore I’ll tell you what happened, and you’ll never hear it from me a second time because it’s too painful to tell,” Trump explained.


“I had God on my side,” Trump said of his survival.

The Thursday night address represents Trump’s complete domination of the GOP eight years after he transformed American politics in the modern era. Most Republican dissension against Trump has turned into a whimper with many of his harshest critics losing influence in the national party or bending to Trump’s vision.

“I’m not supposed to be here tonight,” Trump said, but the crowd roared back, “Yes you are!

“Thank you,” Trump answered. “But I’m not.”

UFC President and CEO Dana White introduced Trump, who appeared at the convention all three previous nights but didn’t speak instead portraying himself as a silent warrior figure who watched the crowd and speakers champion his legacy to the American public. “He is willing to risk it all because he loves this country,” White said in a laudatory remarks.

Trump previously told the Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito that he rewrote his convention speech in the wake of Saturday’s events. The former president wanted his new speech to reunite the country and meet the demand of this critical moment.

Several speakers referenced the miraculous nature that Trump survived on Saturday and attributed the former president’s refusal to cower as a sign of the fighting spirit that will propel him to victory in November against President Joe Biden.

“I have seen this man dragged through hell and back, in and out of courtrooms, indictments, impeachments, mug shots, and even an assassination attempt, and yet, he has never backed down,” Lara Trump, the Republican National Committee co-chairwoman and the former president’s daughter-in-law, said when she spoke on Tuesday.

“What was my father’s reaction when his life was on the line? Not to cower, not to surrender, but to show for all the world to see that the next American president has the heart of a lion,” Donald Trump Jr. said on Wednesday.

Several delegates told the Washington Examiner before Donald Trump spoke that they fully expected him to galvanize the crowd, which has been waiting to hear the former president since he appeared on the convention floor on Monday.

“I hope that it’s a unifying speech. I hope that it puts America first,” Rachel Sikes, a Texas delegate wearing a bride-to-be sash, said. “I hope that it puts, even above America, I hope that it puts God first. I hope that he brings us together as a nation and does what he promises in his speeches and what he said up to this point.”

Trump also remains disciplined in not interjecting himself into the national conversation as Biden flounders and attempts to hold on to the Democratic presidential nomination despite growing calls from party members to step down.

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Read: Text of Trump’s RNC Speech

Former President Donald Trump on Thursday evening addressed the Republican National Convention. Read the full text of his speech below:


I stand before you this evening with a message of confidence, strength, and hope. Four months from now, we will have an incredible victory, and we will begin the four greatest years in the history of our country.


Together, we will launch a new era of safety, prosperity and freedom for citizens of every race, religion, color, and creed.


The discord and division in our society must be healed. As Americans, we are bound together by a single fate and a shared destiny. We rise together. Or we fall apart.


I am running to be president for ALL of America, not half of America, because there is no victory in winning for half of America.




Let me begin this evening by expressing my gratitude to the American people for your outpouring of love and support following the assassination attempt at my rally on Saturday.


As you already know, the assassin’s bullet came within a quarter of an inch of taking my life. So many people have asked me what happened, and therefore, I’ll tell you what happened, and you’ll never hear it from me a second time, because it’s too painful to tell.


Despite such a heinous attack, we unite this evening more determined than ever. Our resolve is unbroken, and our purpose is unchanged–to deliver a government that serves the American People.


Everything I have to give, with all of the energy and fight in my heart and soul, I pledge to our nation tonight.

This election should be about the issues facing our country and how to make America successful, safe, free, and great again.


In an age when our politics too often divide us, now is the time to remember that we are all fellow citizens—we are one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.


On this journey, I am deeply honored to be joined by my amazing wife, Melania. Thank you, Melania, and thank you also for your beautiful letter to America calling for national unity. It captivated so many.


I also want to thank my entire family—Don and Kimberly, Ivanka and Jared, Eric and Lara, Tiffany and Michael, Barron, and of course, my ten wonderful grandchildren.


I am thrilled to have a new friend and partner fighting by my side: the next VICE PRESIDENT of the United States, the current Senator from Ohio, J.D. Vance, and his incredible wife, Usha.


And a very special thank you to the extraordinary people of Milwaukee and the great state of Wisconsin for hosting this outstanding convention.


We will Make Wisconsin Great Again, I promise.


I am here tonight to lay out a vision for the whole nation. To every citizen, whether you are young or old, man or woman, Democrat, Republican, or Independent, black or white, Asian or Hispanic, I extend to you a hand of loyalty and friendship.


Together, we will lead America to new heights of greatness like the world has never seen before.


Under our leadership, the United States will be RESPECTED again. No nation will question our power. No enemy will doubt our might. Our borders will be totally SECURE. Our economy will soar. We will return LAW and ORDER to our streets, PATRIOTISM to our schools, and importantly, we will restore peace, stability, and harmony all throughout the world.


But to achieve this future, we must first rescue our nation from failed leadership. This will be the most important election in the history of our country.


Under the current administration, we are a nation in decline.


We have an INFLATION CRISIS that is making life unaffordable, ravaging the incomes of working and low-income families, and crushing our people.


We also have an ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION CRISIS – a massive invasion at our southern border that has spread misery, crime, poverty, disease, and destruction to communities all across our land.


Then there is an INTERNATIONAL CRISIS the likes of which the world has seldom seen. War is now raging in Europe and the Middle East, a growing specter of conflict hangs over Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines, and all of Asia, and our planet is teetering on the edge of World War Three, and this will be a war like no other.


It is time for a CHANGE. We simply cannot sustain four more years of this administration.


So tonight, I make this pledge to the great People of America.


I will END the devastating Inflation Crisis immediately, bring down interest rates, and lower the cost of energy—we will DRILL, BABY, DRILL, which will lead to a large-scale decline in prices.


I will END the Illegal Immigration Crisis by closing our border and finishing the wall, most of which I have already built.


I will END every single International Crisis that the current administration has created—including the horrible war with Russia and Ukraine, and the war caused by the attack on Israel, both of which would never have happened if I were president.


Together, we will restore VISION, STRENGTH, COMPETENCE, and COMMON SENSE to the Oval Office.


Just a few short years ago under my presidency, we had the most secure border and the best economy in the history of our country. We had NO inflation, soaring incomes, and the world was at peace.


But in less than four years, our opponents have turned incredible success into unparalleled tragedy and failure.


Today, our cities are flooded with illegal aliens. Americans are being squeezed out of the labor force and their jobs taken. Inflation has wiped out the life savings of our citizens, and forced the Middle Class into a state of depression and despair.


We cannot, and will not, let this continue. Less than four years ago, we were a great nation, and we will soon be a great nation again.


With proper leadership, every disaster we are now enduring will be fixed—and fixed quickly.


So tonight, whether you’ve supported me in the past or not, I hope you will support me in the future, because I will bring back the American Dream.

With great humility, I am asking you to be EXCITED about the future of our country.


This week, the entire Republican Party has formally adopted an agenda for America’s renewal.


First, we must get economic relief to our citizens. Starting on Day One, we will drive down prices and Make America AFFORDABLE again!


Under this administration, groceries are up 50%, gasoline is up 60%, mortgage rates have quadrupled, and you can’t get the money anyway. Total household costs have increased an average of $28,000 per family.


Republicans have a plan to bring down prices, and bring them down fast. By slashing energy costs, we will in turn reduce the cost of transportation, manufacturing, and all household goods. We have more liquid gold under our feet than any other country—we as a nation will make a fortune with oil and gas.


Next, we will end the ridiculous waste of taxpayer dollars that is fueling the inflation crisis. And all of the trillions of dollars that are sitting there not yet spent, will be redirected for important projects like roads, bridges, dams, and we will not allow it to be spent on the meaningless Green New Scam.


I will END the Electric Vehicle Mandate on Day One—thereby saving the U.S. auto industry from complete obliteration, and saving U.S. customers thousands of dollars per car.


I will bring auto jobs back to our country, through the proper use of taxes, tariffs, and incentives, and will not allow massive auto manufacturing plants to be built in Mexico, China, or other countries, where they send the product back to the United States, and steal our jobs, creating a hopeless situation for our companies and autoworkers.


We have long been taken advantage of by other countries, often being considered our allies. We lose jobs and revenue, they gain everything, and wipe out our businesses. I stopped it four years ago, and I will stop it again. We will not let countries come in, take our jobs, and plunder our nation.


The way they will sell their product in America is to BUILD it in America, and ONLY in America. This will create massive jobs and wealth for our country.


At the center of our plan for economic relief are massive tax cuts for workers—and that includes NO TAX ON TIPS. That means if you are a restaurant worker, bartender, hospitality worker, caddy, barber, mover, driver, or anyone else who relies on tip income, your tips will be 100% YOURS.


I gave the biggest tax cut in history, bigger than the Reagan Tax Cuts, but I am going to lower taxes still further.


By contrast, Democrats have promised to end the Trump Tax Cuts and impose a record-setting $5 trillion tax hike. I am going to LOWER taxes—Democrats are going to RAISE taxes.


I am going to PROTECT Social Security and Medicare—Democrats are going to DESTROY Social Security and Medicare.


Under my plan, incomes will skyrocket, inflation will vanish, jobs will come roaring back, and the Middle Class will prosper like never before.


But no hope or dream we have for America can succeed unless we stop the illegal immigrant invasion at our Southern Border.


At the heart of the Republican platform is our pledge to end this border nightmare, and to fully restore the sacred and sovereign borders of the United States of America—on Day One.


Less than four years ago, I handed this administration the strongest border in American history.


We ended all catch-and-release. Shut down asylum fraud. Stopped human trafficking, and forged historic agreements to keep illegal aliens on foreign soil.


Under the Trump Administration, if you came in illegally, you were apprehended immediately and deported.


The current administration terminated every single one of those great Trump policies that I put in place.

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Drone Attack in Tel Aviv: 1 Dead, 10 Wounded

An apparent drone attack that was claimed by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia hit central Tel Aviv in the early hours of Friday, killing one man and wounding ten others, the Israeli military and emergency services said.

The explosion, which did not trigger air raid alarms, occurred hours after the Israeli military confirmed it had killed a senior commander of the Iran-backed Hezbollah militia in southern Lebanon.

“An initial inquiry indicates that the explosion in Tel Aviv was caused by the falling of an aerial target, and no sirens were activated. The incident is under thorough review,” the military said in a statement.

The attack on Tel Aviv is likely to fan fears about further fallout from the Gaza war, as the Houthis and other Iranian proxies side with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

It said air patrols had been increased to protect Israeli airspace but said it had not ordered new civil defence measures, however the mayor of Tel Aviv said the city, Israel’s economic centre, had been moved to a state of heightened alert.

A spokesman for Yemen’s Houthi militants, which like Hezbollah are backed by Iran, said the group had attacked Tel Aviv with a drone and would continue to target Israel in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza war.

In a televised speech, spokesperson Yahya Saree called Tel Aviv a primary target “within the range of our weapons”.

Israel’s emergency services said the body of a 50 year-old man was found in an apartment close to the explosion and said the circumstances were being investigated.

Four people were taken to hospital with slight shrapnel injuries and four others were treated for shock. All of them were later released, the hospital said.

Footage from the site showed an apparent impact on a building located close to U.S. embassy premises in Tel Aviv. Broken glass could be seen strewn across the city pavements as crowds of onlookers gathered nearby. The site was sealed off by police tape.

Israeli media said fragments from an drone of a kind widely used by Iranian-backed militia groups in the region had been recovered nearby.

Israel has been exchanging daily missile and artillery fire with Hezbollah along its northern border and in southern Lebanon since the start of the war in Gaza, prompting fears of a wider regional conflict if the situation escalates.

The Houthis have also stepped up attacks against Israel and Western targets, saying they are acting in solidarity with the Palestinians.

Israel invaded the Gaza Strip following an attack by Hamas militants on southern Israel in October last year.

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Trump Shooter’s Online Activity Shows Searches of Rally Site, Use of Encrypted Platforms

In a briefing yesterday to House lawmakers, the Secret Service said they knew of suspicious person reports at least nine minutes ahead of former President Trump taking the stage at the Pennsylvania rally where he was shot on Saturday, Axios has learned.

The briefing came amid frustrations from lawmakers over the lack of information provided about the shooting as multiple House committees launch probes into the assassination attempt on Trump.

FBI and Secret Service officials briefed House lawmakers on Wednesday on their preliminary findings.

The Secret Service said they identified the building used in the assassination attempt as “an area of concern” as early as five days ahead of the event, according to audio obtained by Axios.

No political or ideological information was found in the suspect’s house, including his bedroom, officials told House lawmakers.

Below is the timeline of Saturday’s most crucial events, as relayed to lawmakers on Wednesday by Secret Service Deputy Director Ronald Rowe.

5:51pm: USSS notified of a suspicious person with a rangefinder on the outer perimeter.
5:52pm: The USSS Security room disseminated info to USSS counter sniper response team and additional response agents on the ground.
6:00pm: Trump walked on stage.
6:10pm: USSS counter sniper unit informed security room that local police were addressing an issue on the outer perimeter.
6:11pm: Trump’s site agent contacted their USSS counterpart to inquire about the issue on the outer perimeter. Shots are fired.

FBI deputy director Paul Abbate walked members through the suspect’s movements ahead of the attack on July 13, a source on the call confirmed to Axios.

July 6: Searched “where will Trump speak from on Saturday 13” and “when is the DNC convention”.
July 7: Traveled to Butler to get an advance of the venue and he remained there for 20 minutes.
July 11: Searched “Butler farm show photos”.
July 12: Went to the Clairton Sportsmen’s Club where he shot two firearms.
July 13: The suspect searched “Trump rally Butler, PA and “Allegheny arms.”

At 10am, he revisited the Butler farm show grounds and was there for 70 minutes.
At 1:30pm, the suspect returned to his home and his father provided him a rifle for the purpose of what he believed was to go back to the the sportsman club to shoot.
At 1:54pm, the suspect purchased 50 rounds of ammunition and traveled back to the fairgrounds.

Officials said at the briefing that they’ve started putting together a profile of the suspect.

He lived at home with his parents and a sister. Family members described him as fairly intelligent, a loner, and being a little odd.

He never discussed politics or expressed any political ideology.

He took firearms courses at a gun range, where an instructor recalls that he was quiet, non-aggressive and a loner.

The shooter used three encrypted platforms in Germany, New Zealand and Belgium.

The FBI uncovered a number of the shooter’s searches for images “of public figures of a variety, including both President Biden and former President Trump, and some limited online activity reflecting the subject’s state of mind,” but noted encrypted communications have limited their ability to obtain certain information.

The FBI has served legal processes on 30 companies and is waiting on returns from 18 of those companies, including foreign encrypted applications.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) have requested a classified briefing take place next week, where members are slated to obtain additional information on the incident.

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First Post-Assassination Attempt Poll Shows Big Swing Towards Trump

Former President Donald Trump is now leading President Biden by five points nationally, expanding his lead after his near-assassination on Saturday.

The CBS poll, published Thursday, shows Trump up 52%-47% nationally among likely voters. The same survey had him up by two points on July 3 (50%-48%).

A Republican president has not won the popular vote in two decades. It’s been three decades since one won by over 5%.

Trump also has a notable lead in key battleground states, where he bests Biden 51%-48%.

The former president upped his lead by one point across the swing states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — since the last time CBS conducted a battleground survey one week ago.

The survey indicated that the shooting could directly change their likelihood of voting for Trump in November.

The poll showed 26% of registered voters said they were more willing to vote for Trump after he was shot on Saturday by a gunman at his Butler, Pa., rally.

The majority of voters said the assassination attempt did not change their mind (67%), while 7% said it made them less likely to consider him.

Trump’s reaction to the shooting also directly impacted how voters view him. He rose up and pumped his fist in the air after being tackled by Secret Service agents at the rally and has since encouraged “unity” for the country.

A majority of respondents, 54%, said Trump has since encouraged “more unity,” while 46% said he encouraged “more division.”

A large number of voters, 75%, said the Secret Service could have “done more” to protect the former president from 20-year-old Thomas Crooks who shot into the crowd from an unguarded nearby roof.

Trump (51%) also fared better than Vice President Kamala Harris (48%) in a head-to-head matchup amid likely voters.Biden has been facing pressure from a growing number of Congressional Democrats and top allies to suspend his 2024 run after his stumbled heavily in his debate against Trump on June 27.

A majority of respondents, 56%, said Biden should step aside. Forty-four percent said he should continue running.

He was the top candidate for voters when they chose who would “fight a lot for people like you,” coming in at 37%, out of Biden (28%), Harris (26%) and GOP VP nominee Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio) (26%).

Vance, who was picked as Trump’s VP on Monday, had 51% of Republican registered voters saying they were enthusiastic about the choice.

Forty-three percent said they were “satisfied” and 6% said they were dissatisfied or angry.

Going forward, 63% of registered voters surveyed said they predicted political violence will get worse, while 28% said it would stay the same and 9% said decrease.

The survey was conducted July 16-18, had a sample size of 2,247 voters and had a margin of error of 2.7%.

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Thomas Crooks Threatened to ‘Shoot Up’ His High School and ‘Put Bombs in the Bathrooms’

Thomas Crooks threatened to ‘shoot up’ his high school when he was just 15-years-old in an incident that wasn’t taken seriously at the time but is now being probed by the FBI, can reveal.

Federal officers on Thursday visited Crooks’s former classmate Vincent Taormina, 20, to quiz him about the shooter’s ‘hatred’ of politicians and the threats he made as a freshman at Bethel Park High School.

Speaking exclusively to Taormina said, ‘We had like this anonymous place you could post things or tell on someone on our computers at school and he posted something like ‘Don’t come to school tomorrow,’ and something else that made it sound like he’d put bombs in the cafeteria bathrooms.

‘Half of us just didn’t come to school the next day – I didn’t. But it wasn’t taken seriously.

‘We all texted one another and it came out pretty quickly that it was Thomas and his friend group who’d made the threats to shoot [the school] up.’


According to Taormina investigators were keen to hear more about the threats made by the younger Crooks in 2019 which were not, he said, taken seriously at the time.

There is no picture of Crooks in Bethel Park High School’s 2019 yearbook and in fact only one appears to have been taken during his career at the school – the now widely seen 2020 picture which became the first published of him following his June 13 assassination attempt.

Since then, only a thin portrait of Crooks, 20, has emerged from his beginnings as a ‘normal’ little boy to the young man who grew up to be an increasingly troubled loner whose internet search history included ‘major depressive disorder’ and who some suspected was bi-polar or schizophrenic.

Former classmates have described him as sweet, quiet, intelligent and a ‘loner’ who was a bit ‘off,’

They say he ate lunch alone and was bullied for being shy and ‘weird.’

Madison Rudolph, 17, who was in Crooks’s computer class despite their age difference told that he was part of a small friend group she described as ‘outcasts’ with ‘strange hobbies’ the details of which she could not remember but she recalled that they wore nails as accessories.

Crooks’s high school experience coincided with the global pandemic and Rudolph noted that he was further ostracized for continuing to wear a mask long after the mandates had been lifted and student life resumed a semblance of normalcy.

One friend recalled that during the time of remote learning Crooks would not put on his camera when joining classes on Zoom.

Crooks was not a member of any high school clubs, teams or groups in stark contrast to his older sister Katie, 22, who was a popular and far more outgoing student, acting as both a school custodian and a member of the school yearbook team during her time at Bethel Park High.

Crooks graduated from high school in 2022 but was listed as absent from the senior yearbook pictures as he had been the year before.

He recently graduated from the Community College of Allegheny County with an associate degree in engineering science this spring and had been admitted to both the University of Pittsburgh and Robert Morris University for the fall.

The shooting on Saturday, which came so close to killing the former president, left father-of-two retired fire chief Corey Comperatore, 50, dead and two other attendees critically injured.

Former Marine David Dutch, 57, was shot in the chest and liver and has so far undergone two surgeries, while the family of the other victim James Copenhaver, 74, has asked for privacy while they come to terms with the ‘life-altering’ injuries he sustained.

So far, no motive has emerged for the shooting but, for Taormina, one possible reason was simply notoriety.

He said, ‘He was someone who flew under the radar, someone easily forgotten, people didn’t pay much attention to.

‘Maybe part of his motive was just to solidify his name in the history books because really he was a nobody.’

Investigators have revealed that they have managed to access the information stored on both of Crooks’s cell phones which they recovered, and which contained just 27 contacts.

The cells showed that Crooks visited the Butler site of the rally at least twice ahead of the event and contained photographs of Trump, Joe Biden, Fulton DA Fani Willis, Rudy Giuliani, House Speaker Mike Johnson, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and other politicians and celebrities as well as an unnamed member of the British royal family.

On Monday FBI agents visited his home, speaking with Crooks’s parents Matthew, 53, and Mary, 53, – both Pennsylvanian locals and both licensed counsellors – for several minutes before fanning out and moving door to door across the neighborhood.

One friend told ‘I suspect the FBI have interrogated his parents very thoroughly to find out what if anything they knew about his state of mind.

‘We’re just struggling to understand what happened, it’s so shocking. This is a community and for this to have happened within it…it’s almost too much to process right now. It’s going to take a long time.’

According to the friend, ‘Honestly we knew him less and less the older he got.’

But it seems he was nothing if not calculated and methodical. On Friday he went to Clairton Sportsmen’s Club shooting range and practiced firing.

The next morning, he went to a Home Depot and purchased a five-foot ladder – pictures obtained exclusively by show the concealed spot where he propped this ladder against the AGR building wall allowing him access to the roof across which he scrambled to take up position.

From the Home Depot he went to Allegheny Arms & Gun Works, a five-minute drive from his family home, where he purchased 50 rounds of ammunition.

On Monday FBI agents swarmed the AGR building from which Crooks fired his shots. witnessed several as they inspected the roof, at one point one dropped to his belly, lying prone as Crooks had done as he took aim and fired at Trump as he addressed the crowd.

They swept the grounds and rooted through shrubbery and trees, and they removed the ladder while questions continue to rage as to just how on earth a lone gunman managed to put it, and himself, there in the first place.

Crooks was a dietary aide at Bethel Park Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center – where he provided food and care for post-hospital elderly and sick people.

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BlueAnon Madness: 34% of Dems Think Trump Shooting Was Staged

A conspiracy theory has run unabated in Democratic circles following the assassination attempt against former president Donald Trump on Saturday. It posits that Trump staged the shooting for a photo op, that the wound on his ear was caused by something other than an assassin’s bullet, and that he was never in mortal danger.

It’s a baseless conspiracy theory disproven by reams of documentary evidence and eyewitness accounts. And it’s a belief held by one-third of the Democratic electorate.

One in three registered Democrats believe it is “credible” that the shooting Saturday in Butler, Pa., was staged and not intended to kill Trump, according to a Morning Consult poll released Monday. The findings show that large swaths of the Democratic base have fallen prey to the phenomenon known as “BlueAnon,” a play on the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory that once gripped portions of the Republican base and served as an obsession of the mainstream media throughout the first Trump administration.

But the Morning Consult poll shows that BlueAnon adherents among the Democratic base far outnumber their QAnon counterparts on the right. The poll showed that 34 percent of Democratic voters found it either definitely or probably credible that Trump staged Saturday’s shooting, with less than half—45 percent—saying the conspiracy theory is not credible. By comparison, a widely cited 2021 poll found that only 23 percent of Republicans were QAnon believers.

The rise of BlueAnon can be attributed to prominent Democratic activists and liberal media commentators egging on the notion that Trump staged Saturday’s shooting.

Democratic powerbroker Dmitri Mehlhorn, an ally of President Joe Biden who has made at least 10 visits to his White House, wasted no time fanning the flames of conspiracy in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s assassination attempt. Mehlhorn on Saturday evening sent a memo to reporters imploring them to portray the shooting as a false-flag operation straight from Vladimir Putin’s playbook, designed to give Trump a good photo opportunity.

“This is a classic Russian tactic, such as when Putin killed 300 civilians in 1999 and blamed it on terrorists to ride the backlash to winning power,” Mehlhorn wrote.

Mehlhorn did not address the numerous photos that captured bullets whizzing just inches away from Trump’s face and blood running from the clearly visible bullet wound across his right ear as Secret Service agents escorted the former president off the stage. Nor did he mention the death of firefighter Corey Comperatore, who was shot while shielding his family from the assassin’s bullets.

Mehlhorn is hardly the only liberal activist pushing the conspiracy to liberal voters. Jeff Tiedrich, a liberal social media influencer with 1.1 million followers who attended an Oct. 2022 White House influencer summit to coordinate midterm election messaging with the Biden administration, on Monday posted a Substack screed “connecting some weird dots” surrounding the shooting.

“Did the extreme right want this to happen?” Tiedrich wrote, speculating the shooting could have been connected to a plot to replace Trump atop the GOP ticket with former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Tiedrich, who did not return a request for comment, on Thursday mocked the Washington Post for describing the shooting as “Trump’s near-death experience” and said there was no hard evidence that a bullet grazed the former president’s ear.

“What the fuck is going on under that bandage?” Tiedrich asked. “And why is the press so disinterested in finding out?”

Liberal MSNBC commentators have adopted a subtler approach to fanning the conspiratorial flames, suggesting in recent days that Trump could not have been shot in the ear by a high-caliber rifle bullet and that the former president is hiding something by not releasing detailed medical records about his wound.

“If he was shot by a high-caliber bullet, there should probably be very little ear there,” MSNBC host Michael Steele told viewers on Tuesday.

Steele’s fellow MSNBC host Joy Reid on Wednesday joined him in asking questions about Trump’s injuries.

“I have many questions!” Reid wrote on Threads. “Like where are the medical reports? What caused Trump’s injury and what was the injury? Sheapnel? [sic] Glass? A bullet?”

Reid doubled down on her baseless conjecture Thursday morning, posting a video to TikTok in which she said that “we still don’t know for sure whether Donald Trump was hit by a bullet,” glass fragments, or something else. She then suggested something nefarious was behind the Secret Service’s having “allowed” Trump to pump his fist as agents led him off the rally stage.

“We don’t know why, for nine full seconds, Donald Trump was allowed to stand back up during an active shooting, an active shooter situation,” Reid said. “Even though they at that point had said the shooter was down, how would they have known if there were more shooters or not?”

“Yet they allowed him to stand up in the middle of that, you know, crisis and pose for a photo and fist-pump the air so he could get the iconic photo?” Reid added.

Straight news reporters have also joined in on the baseless speculation. Former CNN reporter John Harwood wrote Thursday morning that an AR-15 bullet could not have pierced Trump’s ear without blowing the ear to smithereens.

“On the other hand it’s easy to imagine a shard of shattered glass causing the bleeding Trump suffered,” Harwood said before adding that he is “not familiar with ballistics at all.”

Democratic conspiracy-mongering could distract from legitimate questions about the Secret Service’s response to Saturday’s shooting. Agency director Kimberly Cheatle is facing GOP calls to resign from her post following revelations that, 10 minutes before Trump took the stage, Secret Service agents spotted the gunman on the roof where he carried out the attack. Cheatle said Tuesday the roof was left unprotected because it was “sloped.”

“And so there’s a safety factor that would be considered there that we wouldn’t want to put somebody up on a sloped roof. And so the decision was made to secure the building, from inside,” Cheatle said.

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Report: Biden Could Drop Out This Weekend

Former President Barack Obama has told allies that President Joe Biden should seriously consider whether he should stay in the race, as speculation grows he could drop out within days.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Obama – who’s only spoken to Biden once since the disastrous debate – believes Biden’s path to victory has greatly diminished, but thinks the president needs to make the decision to quit himself.

Obama’s view on the state of the race comes after Axios reported that Democratic sources believe the drumbeat to exit the race from party leaders and friends will push Biden to make the decision to step aside as early as this weekend.

‘It feels the most real it’s ever been,’ one senior House Democratic aide told Another senior Democratic Hill aide told that chances are ‘high’ that Biden pulls the plug.

A defiant Biden has insisted publicly that he will be the Democratic nominee and only God or a ‘medical condition’ would compel him to bow out. So far, he’s been supported by family members, first lady Jill Biden and son Hunter, in the decision to stay put.

But privately he’s started to realize that might be untenable, as polling shows him losing to Trump and surveys show widespread concerns about his age and health that he’s unlikely to overcome.

This week private conversations he’s had with top Congressional Democrats have started to leak out, with reports saying Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries have delivered to Biden some hard truths.

They warned the president that he will lose the White House – and could take Congressional majorities down with him.

The official line remains that those lawmakers didn’t pressure the president to quit.

‘Leader Hakeem Jeffries privately met with President Joe Biden a week ago. On behalf of the House Democratic caucus, he directly expressed the full breadth of insight, perspective and conclusions reaached about the path forward – after extensive colleague to colleague discussions,’ a spokesperson for Jeffries told ABC News Thursday.

‘Any further characterization of the private, one-on-one meeting between President Biden and Leader Jeffries is speculative and uninformed,’ the statement continued. ‘The letter sent by Leader Jeffries to the House Democratic colleagues speaks for itself.’

The letter, released publicly Friday, didn’t give details about the meat of the conversation.

Schumer’s office sang a similar tune.

‘Unless ABC’s source is Senator Chuck Schumer or President Joe Biden the reporting is idle speculation. Leader Schumer conveyed the views of his caucus directly to President Biden on Saturday,’ a spokesperson told Wednesday evening.

Overall, 20 Democrats have urged Biden to quit the race.

On Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff – who’s on track to win a California Senate seat -made his fears public.

‘While the choice to withdraw from the campaign is President Biden’s alone, I believe it is time for him to pass the torch,’ Schiff said in a statement. ‘And in doing so, secure his legacy of leadership by allowing us to defeat Donald Trump in the upcoming election.’

The New York Times reported the day before that Schiff had told a group of Democratic donors at a fundraiser in the Hamptons on Saturday – before the assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump – that he didn’t believe Biden could win.

Schiff warned that the president’s unpopularity could kill Democrats’ chances in the House and Senate too.

Publicly Biden has said only ‘the Lord almighty’ would pry him from the race, though added in an interview with BET on Wednesday that he’d leave ‘if I had some medical condition that emerged.’

On Wednesday the White House characterized Biden’s COVID case as ‘mild’ with the White House physician saying the 81-year-old was experiencing ‘general malaise.’

But upon arrival at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Wednesday night, the 81-year-old paused several times as he walked down Air Force One’s stairs and seemed to need assistance getting into his black presidential SUV.

The White House called a lid Thursday at 9:41 a.m. – meaning the president would not be seen publicly all day as he recovers from COVID in Delaware.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby briefed reporters Thursday and said the president was still engaged.

‘While he’s certainly focused on getting better, as anyone who has COVID would want to do, he’s being kept up to speed as appropriate by his leadership team and certainly that includes on the national security front,’ Kirby said on a call.

Kirby also said Biden still plans to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in D.C. next week, but floated Vice President Kamal Harris could also stand in.

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Pelosi Privately Told Biden He Cannot Win

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi privately told President Joe Biden in a recent conversation that polling shows that the president cannot defeat Donald Trump and that Biden could destroy Democrats’ chances of winning the House in November if he continues seeking a second term, according to four sources briefed on the call.

The president responded by pushing back, telling Pelosi he has seen polls that indicate he can win, one source said.

Another one of the sources described Biden as getting defensive about the polls. At one point, Pelosi asked Mike Donilon, Biden’s longtime adviser, to get on the line to talk over the data.

This phone call would mark the second known conversation between the California lawmaker and Biden since the president’s disastrous debate on June 27. While the exact date of the conversation was not clear, one source described it as being within the last week. Pelosi and Biden also spoke in early July.

None of the sources indicated whether Pelosi told Biden in this conversation that she believes the president should drop out of the 2024 race.

Pelosi has spent the weeks following the debate listening to concerns from her colleagues.

Pelosi made waves when she said in an interview last week: “It’s up to the president to decide if he is going to run. We’re all encouraging him to make that decision because time is running short.”

When asked for comment, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates did not respond to the details of CNN’s reporting on the recent Pelosi-Biden call.

“President Biden is the nominee of the party. He plans to win and looks forward to working with congressional Democrats to pass his 100 days agenda to help working families,” Bates said.

A Pelosi spokesperson told CNN that the former House speaker has been in California since Friday and she has not spoken to Biden since.

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Vance, Working Class, Gold Star Families Honored: Takeaways from Day 3 of RNC

Vice Presidential nominee Sen. JD Vance headlined Day 3 of the Republican National Convention, presenting former President Donald Trump as the man who will champion the American worker and restore the nation to a position of strength in the world.

In an acceptance speech that highlighted his humble beginnings in an economically depressed industrial town in Ohio, Mr. Vance touted the former president’s record in building the economy, championing working Americans, and securing the country.

For most of the night, political speeches took a backseat to personal stories and the party hammered the themes of border security, military strength, and strength on the international stage against Lady Liberty’s adversaries.

Here are the key takeaways from Day 3 of the Republican National Convention.

1. JD Vance Tells His Story

Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio), the winner of former President Trump’s extended “veepstakes,” formally accepted the GOP’s vice president nomination in a lengthy speech that cast himself as worthy of the trust of the average American and lauded former President Trump as a champion of the forgotten man and woman.

The lawmaker and “Hillbilly Elegy” author unspooled his deep and complex story, which began in Ohio, where he was raised by his grandmother due largely to his mother’s substance abuse issues.

He went from Middle America to the Marine Corps and then Yale Law School, where he met his wife, Usha—the daughter of Indian immigrants.

Jane Timken, a Republican National Committeewoman from Ohio, said she was familiar with Mr. Vance’s story about the “tough grandma” who raised him. “I’m a tough woman too,” Ms. Timken said.

Mr. Vance, she added, was smart, thoughtful, and intelligent but also a fighter.

The candidate, a former venture capitalist, transitioned from a “Never Trumper” in 2016 to one of the rising intellectual forces in the MAGA movement.

Mr. Vance echoed former President Trump’s views on the Iraq War, which he called a “disastrous invasion,” China, the victor in a “sweetheart trade deal,” and more.

His RNC message was also explicitly aimed at Midwestern states that will be key to a Republican victory in November, including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

He pledged to be “a vice president who never forgets where he came from.”

2. Personal Stories Highlighted

The GOP continued its strategy of personalizing its core issues by inviting ordinary people to tell their experiences.
Highlighting the theme of border security, David Lara of the border town of San Luis, Arizona, told of Mexican drug cartels using school children to transport drugs through their community.

Shabbos Kestenbaum, an Orthodox Jewish student, told of harassment and death threats received at Harvard University. He has sued Harvard University for its alleged failure to combat anti-Semitism on campus.

Orna and Ronan Neutra spoke of their son Omer, who was taken hostage by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attack on Israel. He is one of eight Americans who continue to be held in Gaza. “Imagine over nine months, not knowing whether your son is alive,” Ms. Neutra said.

World War II veteran William Pekrul, 98, recalled fighting in the Battle of the Bulge and seeing the horror of Nazi concentration camps firsthand.

“There aren’t many of us left,” he said, “but for those of us who still are here, America is still worth fighting for.” Mr. Pekrul said.

3. Gold Star Families Honored

Personal recollections by families of some of the 13 military personnel who died in a suicide bombing attack during the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021 backed the GOP’s emphasis on the need for military strength. The segment brought many convention attendees to tears.

Grieving relatives paid tribute to those who died and expressed gratitude to former President Donald Trump for caring about them. Some also blamed President Biden mishandling the operation.

Watching a video telling the story of Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez, who was killed in the withdrawal, Sheriff Chad Bianco of Riverside County, California, wept. He had intended to hire Mr. Lopez on his discharge from the military.

“The way that family was treated was not American,” Mr. Bianco told The Epoch Times.

Christy Shamblin, whose daughter, Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, from Sacramento, California, was among those killed, said, “For the first time since Nicole’s death, I felt that I was not alone in my grief.”

After spending time with former President Trump, along with other Gold Star families, she said, “I had expected to meet an arrogant politician.” Instead, they said the former president was compassionate and caring.

4. Border Security Brought to Life

Republican speakers went light on statistics in conveying their urgency to secure the U.S. southern border. Instead, they portrayed the reality of life in border communities and described the impact of illegal immigration on the country.
They did that through a series of personal accounts from property owners, video footage of people illegally entering the country, and speeches by elected officials frustrated over the steep increase in illegal immigration during the Biden administration.

Rep. Monica De La Cruz, whose Texas district includes a stretch of the border around the city of McAllen, told of her grandparents’ legal immigration from Mexico in pursuit of a better life but decried illegal immigration for its impact on the country.

“There’s nothing compassionate about open borders,” Ms. De La Cruz said. “They threaten our national security and flood our country with deadly drugs, killing our precious children.”

Arizona ranchers Jim and Sue Chilton told of some 5,000 illegal immigrants crossing into the United State through their property since April and showed video footage of the more than 3,500 of those in camouflage carrying backpacks. “These are not asylum seekers,” Mr. Chilton said.

President Biden, who has criticized Congress for failing to take action to secure the border, announced a series of immigration reform actions on June 4, including barring those who enter the country illegally from receiving asylum.

5. Kai Trump Makes Political Debut

Kai Madison Trump, 17, the eldest daughter of Donald Trump Jr., made her political debut by delivering a speech about her grandfather, Donald Trump.
The 17-year-old recounted anecdotes of the former president challenging her at golf, bragging about her grades to friends, and giving out snacks when her parents weren’t looking.

Miss Kai acknowledged that the former president is perceived negatively by many but said, “I know him for who he really is. He’s very caring and loving. He truly wants the best for this country.”

Barron Trump, the son of former President Donald and Melania Trump, made his political debut at a campaign rally in Doral, Florida, on July 9. The 18-year-old waved to acknowledge the crowd who was chanting his name but did not deliver remarks on July 17.

6. Fresh out of Prison, Peter Navarro Speaks Out

Peter Navarro—emeritus professor of economics and public policy at University of California, Irvine, and former Democrat—took the stage in Milwaukee to loud cheers and a standing ovation.

“I went to prison so you don’t have to,” he told the crowd.

Mr. Navarro, who was appointed to lead the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy during the Trump administration for his book and documentary “Death by China,” had just emerged from a federal correctional institute in Miami, Florida, where he has been imprisoned for four months after being sentenced on criminal contempt of Congress charges for failing to comply with the anti-Trump Jan. 6 Committee.

“Guess what? They did not break me,” Mr. Navarro said.

Another figurehead of MAGA, Steve Bannon, recently went to prison under similar circumstances. Mr. Navarro spoke about that case too.

Paul Ingrassia, a young Republican lawyer who was in attendance, said Mr. Navarro “spearheaded the intellectual movement” behind changing America’s approach to trade with China.

“I’m so grateful to see that he’s out of jail,” he said.

“That was the most passionate speech I’ve heard anyone give,” said George Phillips, a teenager attending the convention. It included an embrace and kiss between Mr. Navarro and his fiancée.

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Secret Service Chief Faces Mounting Pressure to Resign

New allegations that Secret Service training resources were reallocated to “executive leadership bonuses” and DEI-prioritized recruitment are among the torrent of charges leveled against agency Director Kim Cheatle and other top officials in the aftermath of the assassination attempt against Donald Trump.

Inside the main hall of Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum, Republicans Thursday night were enjoying a Make America Great Again lovefest. But on the outside perimeter of the convention center, anger was still spewing over an avalanche of negative information about the layers of Secret Service failures that led to a bullet piercing Trump’s right ear, just millimeters away from killing him, four days ago at a rally in Pennsylvania.

Two GOP senators angrily confronted Cheatle, running her down when she refused to answer their repeated questions.

“This is exactly what you were doing today on the call – stonewalling,” Sen. John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, fumed at Cheatle as she walked sternly without speaking, a tall male Secret Service agent by her side.

“This was an assassination attempt!” stormed Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican. “You owe the people answers. “You owe President Trump answers.”

A tight-lipped Cheatle continued to walk briskly away.

Afterward, Blackburn and Barrasso posted a video on Twitter recounting the confrontation and reiterating their calls for answers and for Cheatle’s resignation.

“I’ve got a message for her, she can run but she cannot hide because the American people want to know how an assassination attempt was carried out on President Donald Trump,” she declared.

Allegations leveled against the Secret Service over the last 24 hours include:

  • A Secret Service special agent or officer was assigned to the building rooftop where Thomas Matthew Crooks fired off the shots but never showed up for work that day.
  • The explanation Cheatle provided for the unmanned rooftop – that she had placed agents and/or officers inside the building because the “slope” of the roof posted a physical danger – was nonsensical because there was a similar rooftop nearby where two counter snipers were positioned.
  • Four Secret Service snipers were present at the Pennsylvania rally, but only two of them were from the highly trained Secret Service ranks. The other two, who were responsible for firing the shots that killed Crooks, were local law enforcement officers.

A petition on calling for Cheatle to resign was blocked and placed under review. When the petition was shut down Tuesday, it was just a few hundred signatures shy of reaching its goal of 10,000. (Hours after RCP on publicly questioned the move as a potential example of censorship, the petition was restored.)

The revelations and serious allegations piled up Wednesday, with more lawmakers calling for Cheatle’s resignation after the director held a telephone briefing for senators on the security failures. On the call, senators learned that law enforcement had flagged Crooks for suspicious behavior more than an hour before he fired shots at Trump. The agents and officers noticed that Crooks was holding a rangefinder and was wearing a backpack. Counter snipers spotted Crooks 20 minutes before the shots rang out.

Sen. Barrasso talked to reporters after the briefing, reiterating calls for Cheatle to resign and complaining that Cheatle shut down the telephone briefing after just a couple of questions and “didn’t get into the meat of the matter.” Several senators, including Marsha Blackburn, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee, remained in the queue, never getting their questions answered, The Federalist reported on

“So far, they’re flooding us with details that aren’t helpful,” Sen. Lee, a Utah Republican, said in an post before the briefing ended. “I have yet to hear them substantively address the failures that led to this tragedy.”

Senators on the call also learned that the Secret Service was aware of a “potential threat” 10 minutes before Trump took the stage in Pennsylvania but let him go out anyway. That revelation outraged many senators, including Blackburn, who told reporters she was “appalled to learn the Secret Service knew about a threat prior to President Trump walking on stage.”

“I have no confidence in the leadership of Director Cheatle,” she added, “and believe it is in the best interest of our nation if she steps down from her position.”

The briefing for senators occurred after Cheatle failed to provide a promised Tuesday briefing for House Republicans on the Oversight Committee. Rep. James Comer, who chairs that panel, issued a subpoena Tuesday for Cheatle to appear for a hearing on Monday.

The petition calling for Cheatle’s resignation cited her support for a “30×30 pledge,” which aims to reach at least a 30% female workforce by 2030. The pledge is part of a national drive adopted by various law enforcement agencies across the country and one Cheatle has openly and enthusiastically backed.

“Although Director Cheatle’s goal may have good intentions,” the petition stated, “unfortunately her misguided agenda has employed methods that have apparently resulted in female candidates not being vetted.”

The petition also cited manpower shortages due to attrition driven by heavy workloads and low worker morale, as well as “selective promotion practices” during Cheatle’s tenure as director that aren’t merit-based. It said the agency is struggling with insufficient training funds while resources are being “reallocated” for recruitment, promotional testing, and executive leadership bonuses.

The petition detailed allegations that Cheatle and others in the agency’s “executive leadership” resisted taking appropriate investigative or disciplinary action for “blatant misconduct” by a female agent who had received poor performance reviews and then accused her supervisor of sexual harassment.

That superior allegedly filed a whistleblower complaint, which resulted in disciplinary action being taken against the female agent in question, according to a copy of an internal Secret Service memo dated Jan. 19, 2024, and obtained by RealClearPolitics.

Questions also are swirling around the agency about why its snipers didn’t shoot Crooks until after he fired on Trump.

One source in the Secret Service community said the agency has long taken an overly measured approach when it comes to firing on suspicious activity or people – even when they are armed.

In the fall of 2014, the Secret Service faced a crisis after several disciplinary problems and security lapses, including fence-jumpers making it inside the White House. Ralph Basham, a former Secret Service director from 2003-2006, a 30+ year veteran of the agency, and a former director of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, testified at a September 30, 2014, House Oversight Committee hearing.

Under questioning from lawmakers, Basham tried to explain why the Secret Service has a resistance to shooting first unless they can be fairly certain a suspicious person is a direct threat to the president or other protectees.

“So, there’s a lot of things going on in the Secret Service’s head, I am sure, when we have an intruder like that,” Basham said. “But I just have a real – well, I think I am out of time. But I will say, in 1976, there was an individual who came over the [White House] fence, apparently was carrying some type of device that was – appeared to be a weapon, but turned out to be a pipe, and they shot him. And there was criticism for that shooting in 1976. This is a difficult, difficult balance to strike.”

“That has contributed directly (among many other things) to the hesitation to shoot first,” the source said. “Also, note that [the 1976] incident was the first time I am aware of when a counter sniper fired on someone.”

“We don’t need a director who creates a culture where counter snipers and others have to be unreasonably concerned about ‘striking a balance,’” the source continued. ”We need to be trained, and then get a transformational leader who will back you if you followed your training.”

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