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DeSantis Signs Bill That Cracks Down on Squatters in Florida
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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation into law Wednesday that ends squatters’ rights in the Sunshine State, stating that “squatting” is a scam that violates private property rights.

After alarming stories about squatters commandeering homes and depriving the owners of their property rights made nationwide news in recent weeks, DeSantis took action.

“We are in the state of Florida are ending this squatters scam once and for all. And momentarily I’ll be signing HB 621, which will give the homeowner the ability to quickly and legally remove a squatter from a property and which will increase criminal penalties for squatting,” DeSantis said during a press conference on the signing at the Orange County State Attorney’s Office.

“You are not going to be able to commandeer somebody’s private property and expect to get away with it. We are in the state of Florida are ending this squatters scam once and for all, DeSantis added.

The common sense law allows property owners to file an affidavit to prove they legally own a property. Squatters will quickly face criminal charges once its proven that they illegally moved into a home.

If the suspect is unable to produce documents authorizing his residency, the property owner can call on the sheriff’s office to immediately remove the squatter from his home.

The law establishes harsher penalties for squatting crimes, including “a second-degree felony charge against squatters who damage a home, a first-degree felony charge against those who fraudulently sell or lease a property, and a misdemeanor charge against those who purposefully present a fraudulent lease.”

Previously, squatters in Florida, as well as other states, were considered tenants after a specific length of time and legal property owners often had to launch lengthy and expensive court battles to legally remove them from their homes.

“Now, we have not had the same type of issues here, as you’ve seen in California or New York. Nevertheless, our laws were really geared towards this not necessarily being a fad,” DeSantis said.

The governor said that unlike Democrat-led states that protect squatters, Florida will crackdown on the criminals.

“They’re siding with the squatters,” he said of the blue states.

“In fact, we have seen squatters move in and claim residence. This forces a massive, long, drawn-out judicial review before they can even be removed from the property. These are people that never had a right to be in the property to begin with. Earlier this month in New York, a woman returned to a property she inherited to find squatters living there. She changed the locks to get them out, and the state of New York arrested her instead of the squatters.”

During the signing ceremony in Orlando, Sheriff Dennis M. Lemma said the word “squatter” is too kind and the perpetrators should instead be referred to as “criminals and con artists.”

“I want to thank our legislative body, both our delegates here in central Florida and abroad, because this received unanimous support, and it’s been long too often where we’ve seen homeowners that have spent their entire life working and earning. Some have inherited homes of parents and to knock on the door and be met with squatters,” Lemma said.

“Squatters actually is a very, very kind term. These are criminals and con artists that need to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” he continued.

Florida, similar to other states across the nation, has seen repeated incidents of squatters fraudulently moving into a home or property, including a squatter in September who moved into a multimillion-dollar home in Bonita Springs and was found wearing the homeowner’s clothing. Another homeowner in June, who was on vacation abroad before returning to his Ocala house, was forced to confront a squatter who trashed his property in his absence.

While residents in a neighborhood in Winter Park sounded off in September that squatters had turned the area into a “nightmare” because the police department was “handcuffed” from arresting the suspects as it was considered a civil matter.

DeSantis pointed out that in Florida, there are many seasonal residents who reside in the state for half the year and leave their houses unattended when they return to their home states in the north.

The governor said those people shouldn’t have to worry that “some rogue person moves in and tries to assert rights against the lawful property owner.”

DeSantis said that he believes Florida is the first state to decisively handle this problem.

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Read 12 Comments
  • Jerry Mat says:

    TOO BAD DESANTIS HAD TO ENTER THE PRESIDENIAL RACE AND BAD MOUTH TRUMP, HE WOULD HAVE MADE A GREAT VP ONTO THE POTUS SOMEDAY.. HE HAD VERY BAD ADVISERS.. MAYBE 2032

  • L'Angelo Mysterioso says:

    GOOD SHIT, FLORIDA!!! Bet you won’t have much of a problem with this kind of thievery now! Why in hell this should even be a problem ANYWHERE in this country just shows how low left-wing anarchists will crawl to get what they want & inflict as much damage as they can!

  • Hog Jockey says:

    Don’t expect Biden or the demrat party to make this the law of the land. They have too many illegal alien voters to find homes for!

  • BEIJING PEDOPHILE BIDEN AND HIS ENTIRE FAMILY ARE TRAITORS TO AMERICA AND SHOULD BE HUNG IN A PUBLIC SQUARE AND LEFT FOR THE BIRDS says:

    Yay…..it’s sad that you have to pass a law to protect the legal land owner.

    FUCK BIDEN

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    House Passes $95 Billion Aid Package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan — But Not US Border

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    The U.S. House on Saturday voted on a bipartisan basis to pass a $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific.

    THE 4 BILLS EXPLAINED 

    The package was passed in four separate bills, one each for Israel, Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific and another containing sanctions on Russia, China and Iran, including the REPO Act and TikTok ban legislation.

    What the bills provide:

    • Ukraine $60 billion aid: includes $13.8 billion for Ukraine to buy advanced weapons, $13.4 billion for replenishing U.S. stockpiles, $11 billion to support U.S. allies in the region, and another $13.8 billion to purchase U.S. defense systems for Ukraine. Another $9 billion will be allocated to the war-torn country as economic assistance in the form of loans that can be forgiven by the president with Congress’s approval.
    • Israel $26 billion aid: includes $17 billion in defense aid to Israel, and some $9 billion providing humanitarian relief to people in Gaza as well as other war-torn regions (the final decision on allocation was up to the White House, with analysts expecting roughly $2 billion would go to Gaza). Of the aid to Israel, some $5.2 billion will go toward replenishing and expanding Israel’s missile and rocket defense system; another $3.5 billion will go to purchasing advanced weapons systems; $1 billion to enhance weapons production; $4.4 billion for other defense supplies and services provided to Israel; and some $2.4 billion to US operations in the region amid the Gaza war.
    • Indo-Pacific $8 billion aid: includes $2 billion for Foreign Military Financing Program for Taiwan and other regional partners, $1.9 billion to build Taiwan military capabilities, and $3.3 billion to build drydocks and boost other regional infrastructure for U.S. submarines, among other items.
    • TikTok ban: The fourth bill in the package would place sanctions on the seizure of frozen Russian sovereign assets and a measure that could lead to a nationwide ban of TikTok. The bill gives the app’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, nine months to sell the social media company or it would be banned from US app stores.

    How the House voted:

    • Ukraine aid: 311-112. This was the most contentious bill and it received unanimous support from Democrats, while Republicans were split.
    • Israel aid: 366-58
    • Indo-Pacific aid: 385-34
    • TikTok and Iran sanctions bill: 360-58

    US BORDER SECURITY 

    Notably absent was so much as a dime for the US border.

    The U.S. House Saturday failed to pass a border security bill that Republican leadership intended as an incentive for conservatives to support a foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

    The border bill, turned down on a 215-199 vote with five Democrats joining all Republicans in voting in favor, was brought to the floor under a fast-track procedure known as suspension of the rules that requires a two-thirds majority for passage.

    The border security bill – nearly identical to legislation House Republicans passed last year – was an attempt by House Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana to quell growing conservative dissatisfaction prompted by his support for the $95 billion foreign aid package.

    The measure is separate and not part of a package of three supplemental funding bills containing aid for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan as well as another so-called sidecar bill dealing with TikTok. The Senate will be able to clear the foreign aid package and ignore the border security bill that closely resembles another House-passed border bill the Senate has not acted on.

    During Friday’s floor debate, Democrats argued that the bill, H.R. 3602, was a rehash of H.R. 2, a bill House Republicans passed last year that would reinstate Trump-era immigration policies such as the construction of the border wall. Both bills would also require asylum seekers to remain in Mexico.

    WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: 

    Speaker Mike Johnson said in remarks after the vote the national security legislation does not represent a “blank check” and it was passed in light of aggression from Russia, Iran, and China, posing a “global threat to our prosperity and our security.”

    “If we turn our backs right now the consequences could be devastating,” he said.

    Johnson noted the legislation is not perfect but “the House has made many strong improvements to the Senate bill,” including language preventing funding from going to Hamas or “any other bad actors.”

    “It’s an old military adage,” Johnson said, “but we would rather send bullets to the conflict overseas than our own boys, our troops.”

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on his Telegram “Thank you, America!”

    “Democracy and freedom will always have global significance and will never fail as long as America helps to protect it. The vital US aid bill passed today by the House will keep the war from expanding, save thousands and thousands of lives, and help both of our nations to become stronger. Just peace and security can only be attained through strength,” Zelensky added.

    Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu thanked US lawmakers on X.

    “The US Congress just overwhelmingly passed a much appreciated aid bill that demonstrates strong bipartisan support for Israel and defends Western civilization. Thank you friends, thank you America!”

    Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says she will let her fellow House Republicans hear from their constituents before deciding whether to move forward with a vote to remove Speaker Mike Johnson.

    “I do not support Mike Johnson, he’s already a lame duck,” Greene told reporters.

    WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

    The legislation will be combined into one amendment before being sent to the Senate, where lawmakers will begin voting on it Tuesday.

    The Senate is likely to pass the package, which would then head to President Joe Biden, who has signaled that he would sign it.

    This article was updated.

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    Dems Move to Strip Secret Service Protection from Trump If He’s Convicted

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    Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) introduced legislation on Friday that targets former President Donald Trump and would take away his Secret Service protection if he is convicted in his trial.

    In a post on X, the House Homeland Security Committee Democrats revealed that Thompson, the top member of the committee and the former chairman of the now-defunct January 6 Select Committee, had introduced legislation that would ensure “convicted felons sentenced to prison” would have no Secret Service protection.

    In a statement, Thompson said:

    Unfortunately, current law doesn’t anticipate how Secret Service protection would impact the felony prison sentence of a protectee-even a former President. It is regrettable that it has come to this, but this previously unthought-of scenario could become our reality. Therefore, it is necessary for us to be prepared and update the law so the American people can be assured that protective status does not translate into special treatment-and that those who are sentenced to prison will indeed serve the time required of them.

    The Denying Infinite Security and Government Resources Allocated toward Convicted and Extremely Dishonorable (DISGRACED) Former Protectees Act says that protection will “terminate for any person upon sentencing following conviction for a Federal or State offense that is punishable for a term of imprisonment of at least one year.”

    Thompson argues in a fact sheet for the DISGRACED Former Protectees Act, that the bill “would remove the potential for conflicting lines of authority within prisons and allow judges to weigh the sentencing of individuals without having to factor in the logistical concerns of convicts with Secret Service protection.”

    Although Trump’s name is not mentioned in the bill’s text, the fact sheet points out that “former President Donald J. Trump’s unprecedented 91 felony charges in Federal and State courts across the country have created a new exigency that Congress must address to ensure Secret Service protection does not interfere with the criminal judicial process and the administration of justice.”

    The fact sheet also points out that the bill proposed by Thompson will “apply to former President Trump.”

    Byron York, Chief Political Correspondent with the Washington Examiner, pointed out in a post on X that the underlying “obvious subtext” was that taking away Trump’s Secret Service would make it “easier for someone to kill Trump.”

    York wrote:

    Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson ran the January 6 committee, which mixed elements of show trial and reality series. Focused solely on Trump, of course. Now, Thompson wants to take away Trump’s Secret Service protection if Trump is convicted on any of the 88 felony charges levelled against him by elected Democratic prosecutors and a Biden Justice Department appointee. Obvious subtext here is that removing USSS would make it easier for someone to kill Trump, which is arguably the goal of Thompson’s bill, H.R. 8081: The DISGRACED Former Protectees Act.

    Trump’s hush money trial, which began on Monday, saw more than 50 potential jurors out of 96 dismissed on the first day after they indicated they were unable to be impartial. On Thursday, 48 more potential jurors were dismissed after indicating they could not be fair.

    Bragg charged Trump in April 2023 with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree in relation to hush money payments made to adult entertainment star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election.

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    Michael Avenatti Says He’s Talking to Trump’s Legal Team — And Would Testify for the Ex-Prez

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    Disgraced Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti has been in contact with former President Trump’s legal defense team and is ready and willing to testify against his former client, he told The Post in an interview from jail.

    “The defense has contacted me,” Avenatti told The Post in a phone call from Terminal Island, a minimum-security federal prison in Los Angeles where he is currently serving a 19-year sentence for extortion, tax evasion, fraud, embezzlement and other federal crimes.

    “I’d be more than happy to testify, I don’t know that I will be called to testify, but I have been in touch with Trump’s defense for the better part of year,” Avenatti said.

    The ex-litigator refused to offer any details about the specifics of his conversations with Team Trump.

    A person close to the former president confirmed the ongoing discussions.

    While Avenatti made his name as one of Trump’s most ferocious critics — and even publicly called for Trump’s indictment in 2018 — the defense attorney sang a different tune from the clink.

    “There’s no question [the trial] is politically motivated because they’re concerned that he may be reelected,” Avenatti said. “If the defendant was anyone other than Donald Trump, this case would not have been brought at this time, and for the government to attempt to bring this case and convict him in an effort to prevent tens of millions of people from voting for him, I think it’s just flat out wrong, and atrocious.

    “I’m really bothered by the fact that Trump, in my view, has been targeted. Four cases is just over the top and I think there’s a significant chance that this is going to all backfire and is going to propel him to the White House,” he added.

    “Depending on what happens, this could constitute pouring jet fuel on his campaign.”

    Once an obscure California litigator, Avenatti vaulted into public prominence in 2018 while representing Stormy Daniels, the porn star who alleged Trump had an affair with her in 2006.

    While the former president has consistently denied the charge, the $130,000 payment to Daniels to allegedly buy her silence during the 2016 presidential election now lays at heart of the Manhattan criminal case against him.

    At his height, the quotable attorney was such a regular presence on MSNBC that he frequently slept in their New York City headquarters.

    Former CNN host Brian Stelter and Trump confidante Steve Bannon both suggested Avenatti would be a formidable presidential candidate.

    He visited Iowa.

    A show with former Trump communications director Anthony Scaramucci was floated (but went nowhere).

    But it all came crashing down.

    In November 2018 he was booked on charges of domestic violence.

    In 2020 he was convicted of trying to extort Nike for up to $25 million.

    In June 2022 he was found guilty for stealing $300,000 in book advance money from Daniels.

    That same month he also pled guilty to federal fraud and tax charges.

    His combination of crimes have earned him nearly two decades behind bars.

    Avenatti conceded he had made some “mistakes” and exercised “bad judgment” in the past — but insisted his sentence was overly draconian.

    Of his former client, Avenatti was scathing — and warned New York City prosecutors that he expected Daniels to commit perjury should she be called as a witness.

    “Stormy Daniels is going to say whatever she believes is going to assist Stormy Daniels and putting more money in her pocket,” Avenatti said. “If Stormy Daniels lips are moving, she’s lying for money.”

    Avenatti said she would be a poor witness in the approaching trial, citing her past claims of speaking to dead people and her possession of a “haunted” doll named Susan.

    “I don’t know how you can possibly put someone who makes those claims on the witness stand and use them as a star witness in a case against a former president United States who’s running for president. That is just absolutely ludicrous to me.”

    Avenatti said if the election were held today, Trump would win.

    The lawyer said he saw much of his own struggles in Trump’s current ordeal — adding they were both in the crosshairs of a weaponized justice.

    “I think that we were both targeted by the justice system,” Avenatti said. “There’s a lot of people on the left that were very concerned about my potential rise within the Democratic Party and my potential rise in Democratic politics. And the fact that I was not someone that was easily controlled.”

    Avenatti insisted he wasn’t fishing for clemency in a potential second Trump term — and his change of heart was not motivated by the former president’s famous susceptibility to flattery.

    “I’m not saying any of this because I’m seeking a pardon,” Avenatti said.

    And he claims he never would have penned his New York Times Op-Ed against Trump in 2018 had he known at the time that Daniels was a “serial liar.”

    “I wish I would have never met Stormy Daniels. I should have left her where I found her.”

    Reached by phone, Daniels called Avenatti a “lunatic” and a “scumbag.”

    “I was about to say that I also wish I’d never met him but I’m actually glad because I’m the one that helped convict him so he couldn’t steal from even more unsuspecting clients,” Daniels said.

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    Senate Passes FISA Surveillance Tool

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    Roughly 40 minutes after it lapsed, the Senate voted to pass a renewal of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which serves as a critical tool used by the government to gather intelligence on foreign subjects using the compelled assistance of electronic communication service providers.

    The upper chamber voted 60-34 to pass the re-authorization. The provision lapsed for less than an hour at midnight on Friday, and if the renewal hadn’t passed soon after, the expiration would have meant companies would not be forced to comply with the government’s requests for surveillance aid under the bill.

    Here are the thirty Republican Senators who voted for final passage:

    • John Barrasso of Wyoming
    • John Boozman of Arkansas
    • Katie Britt of Alabama
    • Ted Budd of North Carolina
    • Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
    • Susan Collins of Maine
    • John Cornyn of Texas
    • Tom Cotton of Arkansas
    • Mike Crapo of Idaho
    • Joni Ernst of Iowa
    • Deb Fischer of Nebraska
    • Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
    • Chuck Grassley of Iowa
    • Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi
    • John Kennedy of Louisiana
    • James Lankford of Oklahoma
    • Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
    • Jerry Moran of Kansas
    • Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma
    • Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
    • Pete Ricketts of Nebraska
    • Mitt Romney of Utah
    • Mike Rounds of South Dakota
    • Marco Rubio of Florida
    • Dan Sullivan of Alaska
    • John Thune of South Dakota
    • Thom Tillis of North Carolina
    • Roger Wicker of Mississippi
    • Todd Young of Indiana

    Without the FISA section’s re-authorization, the government would be required to seek a warrant to compel any such assistance, which is a process that can span extended periods of time.

    The measure now heads to President Biden’s desk for his signature.

    “The stakes of such an outcome are grave,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned his colleagues in floor remarks Friday afternoon prior to any votes on amendments or the final bill.

    “The authorities in question today have, quite literally, been the only defense against would-be national security disasters,” he added.

    On Thursday, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., claimed the program would not “go dark,” as others had suggested, if it was not renewed on time. Instead, Durbin pointed to recent certifications granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) that the Justice Department had informed Congress would “ordinarily remain in effect for one year, expiring in April 2025.”

    However, the DOJ cautioned Congress against allowing this knowledge to slow down the Section 702 renewal process in a letter earlier this month, as companies “are likely to stop or reduce cooperation with the legal process they receive.”

    The DOJ further noted that this occurred during a previous surveillance measure lapse.

    This warning was reiterated by McConnell on Friday, who said, “It will be up to the government to play a slow and painstaking game of whack-a-mole in court against an army of the most sophisticated lawyers in the country.”

    “And in the meantime, actionable intelligence will pass us right by,” he predicted.

    By around 6:00 p.m. on Friday, it seemed unlikely that the Section 702 FISA re-authorization would be voted on until next week, as several senators were unwilling to yield their debate time and sought votes on their various amendments to the measure.

    However, around 8:00 p.m., senators appeared to come to an agreement on amendment votes and debate time, clearing the way for an expedited voting process.

    Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., revealed the compromise made my senators on the floor, announcing several roll call votes would take place. “All day long, we persisted and persisted and persisted in hopes of reaching a breakthrough, and I am glad we got it done,” he said, noting that there had been “great doubt” it would be accomplished.

    “We finally got the Senate to agree to take votes to address serious problems with the FISA expansion and 702 reauthorization passed by the House,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, wrote on X.

    Bipartisan coalitions had grown on both sides of Section 702 renewal, with some arguing that the provision is a vital national security necessity, and others sounding the alarm about what they believe to be violations of constitutional protections.

    Amendments from Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Roger Marshall, R-Kan., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Lee and Durbin were voted on ahead of the final bill’s consideration. “We cannot continue sacrificing our freedoms in the name of security. Rather than reining in FISA overreach, RISAA expands it dramatically,” Paul said prior to votes on his amendments, which required 60 supporters to pass. “I urge my colleagues to support meaningful reforms that protect both national security and civil liberties.”

    Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., spoke against the consideration of amendments to the bill, citing the fast approaching deadline. If any amendments to the measure were passed in the Senate, the bill would be sent back to the House, where they would once again need to approve it.

    All of the amendments failed to garner enough votes for passage, and thus were not added to the bill.

    “Allowing FISA to expire would have been dangerous,” Schumer remarked prior to the votes.

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    News

    Letitia James Asks Civil-Fraud Judge to Void Trump’s $175 Million Bond

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    New York attorney general Letitia James on Friday asked the judge presiding over former president Donald Trump’s civil-fraud case to void his $175 million bond, arguing that the insurance company that underwrote the bond cannot prove it can make the payment.

    Trump posted the bond at the start of April to put off the more than $454 million judgment, which Judge Arthur Engoron served against the former president, his business, and his co-defendants. Trump’s bond, underwritten by the California-based Knight Specialty Insurance Company (KSIC), ensures James can’t collect the much larger judgment while he appeals.

    However, the Democratic attorney general asked Engoron in a new court filing to throw out the $175 million bond, forcing Trump to post a replacement bond with a new insurance company.

    “Based on the foregoing, the People respectfully request that the Court deny Movants’ motion to justify the surety, declare the Bond to be without effect and order that any replacement bond be posted within seven days, along with such other and further relief the Court deems necessary and appropriate,” James’s office wrote in a 26-page filing.

    James argued that the current insurance company hasn’t demonstrated its “financial capacity” to pay the bond if Trump can’t. Notably, the company reports it’s worth only $138 million — over $35 million less than the size of the bond.

    The filing alleges that Knight Specialty Insurance uses a “shadow” company in the Cayman Islands to make itself “appear more financially stable than it actually is.”

    Another concern of hers is that KSIC “is not authorized to write business in New York and thus not regulated by the state’s insurance department.” The insurer “had never before written a surety bond in New York or in the prior two years in any other jurisdiction,” she added.

    Trump’s lawyers and Knight Specialty Insurance defended the bond and the company’s finances in a Monday court filing, arguing its “solvency and substantial financial credibility . . . enable it to satisfy all obligations under the bond.”

    James also took issue with Trump’s collateral, saying he and his co-defendants have failed to demonstrate that “there is sufficiently secure and ascertainable collateral backing the bond.” Trump still has full access to $175 million in cash collateral, which the attorney general argued should be in the insurer’s full control.

    Earlier this year, Judge Engoron ruled that Trump and his co-defendants engaged in fraud to financially benefit the Trump Organization. The initial judgment was more than $355 million before interest was taken into account.

    In March, an appeals court agreed to reduce the bond’s price from $454 million to $175 million after Trump’s lawyers said it was impossible for their client to secure the full judgment amount.

    Engoron will hold a hearing on Monday concerning the KSIC-backed bond’s fate.

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    TikTok Ban Now ‘Inevitable’ After House Passes Bill Forcing Sale

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    The House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a bill that will ban TikTok in the United States unless its Chinese owner divests from the company — making final passage into law “inevitable,” insiders say.

    The ban was tied to the vote on a $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, and has gotten comparatively little attention.

    The TikTok bill passed by a vote of 360 to 58. The full aid bill has yet to be voted on, but is expected to pass

    Roughly 150 million Americans are on TikTok and there have been growing fears among lawmakers about what influence its Chinese Communist owners have on the company.

    In recent months TikTok has made headlines for promoting Osama Bin Laden and urging young users to choke each other.

    After Hamas’ terrorist massacre in Israel, the company has faced accusations of promoting Hamas propaganda and turning younger Americans toward Islamic terrorism.

    “The forced sale of TikTok represents a bipartisan breakthrough against the CCP’s most powerful tool of information warfare against the United States,” Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-Bronx) told The Post. “No longer will Congress stand by idly while the CCP freely weaponizes TikTok to corrupt the minds of young Americans, radicalize Americans against their own country, and amplify antisemitism on a scale and at a pace not seen in human history.”

    Wall Street has been buzzing about who might purchase TikTok in the event of a forced divestment from its Chinese owner ByteDance. Microsoft, Meta, Apple and Oracle have all been floated as possible suitors. Rumble, a scrappy free speech-oriented competitor to YouTube has also been talked about as a possible buyer.

    One obstacle is the sheer scale of the purchase. The social media company has been valued in the past as worth up to $50 billion.

    In March the House passed a similar TikTok bill, which moved through the chamber in a broad bipartisan majority. That effort, however, has been stalled in the Democratic Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has so far refused to bring the measure of up for a vote. The Senate leader said he would get to the matter eventually.

    Schumer has in the past vigorously supported efforts to curtail the influence of TikTok.

    “A US company should buy TikTok so everyone can keep using it and your data is safe,” he wrote in an X post from 2020. “This is about privacy. With TikTok in China, it’s subject to Chinese Communist Party laws that may require handing over data to their government. A safe way must be found for TikTok to continue.”

    With the TikTok ban now buried in the foreign aide package — widely considered urgent, must-pass legislation — the Senate will likely have no choice but to take up the measure. Senate leaders have promised to move the measure swiftly and get it to President Biden for his signature.

    “The Ban was inevitable. It was just how we would get there that was up for debate,” said one Senate insider. “TikTok did a horrible job fighting for its corporate life.”

    The new TikTok ban will allow the company nine months (extendable to a year by the president) to divest or face a nation-wide ban — meaning its full consequences won’t come into force until after the 2024 presidential election.

    The House’s previous TikTok legislation would have only allowed a six month window. Democrats in particular rely on TikTok to mobilize younger voters to the polls.

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    WATCH: Police Killed Armed Pedophile When He Showed Up to Meet Underage Girls

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    Seattle police released bodycam footage of a Wednesday shooting that left a 67-year-old suspected pedophile dead late Friday evening.

    The 67-year-old man arrived at a Tukwila, Washington, hotel Wednesday believing he would be meeting two girls, ages seven and 11, for a sexual encounter, according to KING TV.

    Police said in a video statement accompanying the released footage that the attempted arrest of the unidentified suspect was an operation undertaken by a task force handling internet crimes against children.

    “On Wednesday, the Washington State Internet Crimes against Children task force conducted an arrest operation on a child predator suspect,” Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said in the video statement released Friday on YouTube. “The Seattle Police Department is the lead agency for this task force.”

    Watch:

    “Our community response group officers were waiting to arrest the 67-year-old white man when he arrived at the hotel room where he thought he was meeting two young girls, 7 and 11 years old,” Diaz continued. “For our officers, these situations are dangerous, unpredictable and can escalate rapidly.”

    The video starts with a knock at the door, and three police officers open to greet the suspected pedophile, who starts to pull a gun once he sees the police officers. One officer grabs at the gun, a gunshot is heard, then the other two officers open fire until the suspect is on the ground.

    The video showed bodycam footage from all three officers involved in the incident. Bodycam video from a second officer showed the police officer firing rounds from his pistol as he took cover, while the third officer’s body cam shows the officer emptying his magazine at the suspected pedophile and reloading his Glock pistol.

    One officer was slightly wounded in the exchange of gunfire, KING reported.

    Go deeper ( < 1 min. read ) ➝

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    Transgender Student Brutally Assaulted Female at Pennsylvania Middle School

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    More than 50 people packed a North Penn School District meeting Thursday night to voice concerns about an attack by transgender identifying male that left a female student injured.

    The assault happened on Wednesday afternoon around 1:20 p.m. in the cafeteria of the Pennbrook Middle School in North Wales.

    According to Upper Gwynedd police, surveillance video shows a 7th grader walking along a lunch table when the accused transgender student runs towards her and begins hitting her in the head with a Stanley cup.

    “This was avoidable and the district truly failed to protect the students at Pennbrook,” said one parent at the meeting. “What are we supposed to say to our children after this? How do I send him back to school?”

    “I just don’t know what went wrong. How did it get to this point? I would like answers on that,” added another parent.

    The school district did not respond to any of the parents’ questions at the meeting. Officials say the incident is under investigation.

    Emily, a student at the school, witnessed the attack as others were eating lunch.

    “I just hear all this screaming and everybody running. All of sudden you just hear these terrible loud bangs of the Stanley bouncing off her head,” the student recalled. “We had to sit in there and watch them clean up the blood off those tables and ground, and we had to watch them take her out with blood dripping down her face and I will never forget that.”

    Upper Gwynedd police describe the incident as an “unprovoked, sudden, violent attack.” They say the assailant came from behind and immediately began hitting the student.

    “Next thing they heard was a bang,” said Chris Pekula whose daughter was only feet away from the victim.

    Police say the victim’s injuries are so severe she had to get staples in her head and is on concussion protocol.

    A security guard jumped on the alleged assailant who held onto the victim for several more seconds. Once the victim was freed, a teacher can be seen on the video shielding her from other students and walking her into a hallway. Other kids in the cafeteria looked stunned as they witnessed it all.

    “The fear in these kids’ voices. This had to be a brutal attack because so many kids were screaming and crying,” said parent Megan Krache.

    Parents say the attack could have been prevented if the school had heeded their warnings.

    “The students went to the counselor yesterday and said, ‘We heard something’s gonna happen at lunch today,'” said Stephanie Palovcak of the warning she says other students gave to staff at Pennbrook Middle School Tuesday.

    Palovcak’s daughter called her amid the chaos.

    “When you get a phone call from your child crying saying, ‘Mom, help, there’s blood everywhere,'” she said through tears.

    Pennbrook Middle School was put on a hold for eight minutes as police and first responders came to the scene.

    The school’s principal, Nick Taylor, sent a letter to parents that says in part: “The safety of our students is of the utmost importance.”

    The letter went on to say, “I ask that parents speak with their children about the consequences of fighting.”

    “This isn’t a fight. This is an assault,” said Palovcak.

    The parents say it all happened after the alleged attacker had been in the school for only three days as a new student. The student’s first day was Monday. The incident happened on Wednesday.

    “There were multiple parents who reached out about this child making threats,” said Palovcak of the worries parents had over the course of two days, including students describing the suspected assailant as having a list of people to beat up.

    “I believe the people working at the school are good people, they do the best they can,” said Pekula. “My question is what happened between that warning and the attack”

    Stefan Ross says his son went to the student’s previous school.

    “The person came out from the trees and brandished a knife on my son and his friend,” he said of an incident that allegedly happened off school grounds.

    In a letter to parents, Superintendent Todd Bauer, denies the student was transferred to this school after being expelled for violent behavior at another school.

    He spoke to concerned parents Thursday night saying, “This should not have happened period, as an educator, your superintendent and a father, I’m appalled by what happened. “We are currently pursuing the details leading up to this incident and why it occurred. We are also collaborating with our local law enforcement in their investigation as we work to ensure that something like this can’t happen again.”

    Police say the accused student will likely face several charges including felony 1 aggravated assault.

    WATCH:

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    FBI Director Warns Chinese Hackers Are Preparing to “Physically Wreak Havoc” on US

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    Chinese hackers are developing the “ability to physically wreak havoc on our critical infrastructure at a time of its choosing,” FBI director Christopher Wray said this week.

    He added that the hackers are waiting “for just the right moment to deal a devastating blow.”

    The hacking campaign, known as Volt Typhoon, has embedded itself successfully in several American critical infrastructure companies that include telecommunications, energy and water, and others, he said.

    “Its plan is to land low blows against civilian infrastructure to try to induce panic,” Wray said Thursday at the 2024 Vanderbilt Summit on Modern Conflict and Emerging Threats.

    A Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said this week that Volt Typhoon is part of a criminal ramsonware group and is not related to the government.

    “Some in the US have been using origin-tracing of cyberattacks as a tool to hit and frame China, claiming the US to be the victim while it’s the other way round, and politicizing cybersecurity issues,” the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. said in a separate statement.

    Microsoft and Google security experts have previously linked the hackers to China and Wray said the effort is connected to U.S.-Chinese tensions around Taiwan.

    Wray gave a similar warning to lawmakers on Capitol Hill in February, saying Chinese hackers are intending to “wreak havoc and cause real-world harm to American citizens and communities.”

    Wray and other government officials were testifying in front of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party for a hearing titled “The Chinese Community Party Cyber Threat to the American Homeland and National Security.”

    “There has been far too little public focus on the fact that PRC [People’s Republic of China] hackers are targeting our critical infrastructure – our water treatment plants, our electrical grid, our oil and natural gas pipelines, our transportation systems. And the risk that poses to every American requires our attention now,” Wray told lawmakers at the time.

    Wray also said that “today, and literally every day” Chinese hackers are “actively attacking our economic security, engaging in wholesale theft of our innovation, and our personal and corporate data.”

    “And they don’t just hit our security and economy. They target our freedoms, reaching inside our borders, across America, to silence, coerce, and threaten our citizens and residents,” Wray testified.

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    5 Students Shot During Senior Skip Day Festivities in Maryland

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    Five people were shot in Greenbelt, Maryland, during a high school senior skip day party at a park, police said in a Friday evening press conference.

    The shooting happened at Hanover Parkway in Prince George’s County.

    Hundreds of students were gathered for the party before shots rang out around 2:30 p.m., Greenbelt Police Chief Rick Bowers said.

    “My heart breaks for them. These are just kids trying to have a good time,” Bowers said of the victims, who ranged in age from 16 to 18.

    One of the victims was in critical condition, he said, while the others are in stable condition.

    “This is a horrible, tragic, senseless act that happened today,” he added.

    “There is no reason that this occurred. These were seniors or senior skip day.”

    Greenbelt Mayor Emmett V. Jordan echoed Bowers’ sentiment.

    “If a group of high school students can not get together and have a good time, what is the world coming to?”

    Bowers said no arrests have been made, but police believe there is one suspect who escaped when the shooting started.

    “I’m pretty upset by this,” Bowers added as he, Jordan and the city manager vowed to catch the suspect while appealing to the public for help.

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    Biden’s New Title IX Rule Is Worse Than Expected

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    The Department of Education just released its long-delayed Title IX rule—a rewrite of the 50 year-old civil rights law so vast that it promises to turn Title IX’s guarantee of sex equality in education completely upside down.

    Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is all of a single sentence. It simply bars sex discrimination in any federally funded education program. It does not matter how much federal funding a school or institution of higher education receives. And it does not matter whether such funding from the federal government is direct or indirect. So yes, even the vast majority of private schools must comply with the rule.

    But this simple longstanding prohibition on sex discrimination has been manipulated by the Biden administration to both undermine constitutional freedoms—like the freedom of speech—and erase the very women that Title IX was enacted to protect.

    The Department of Education has unilaterally expanded the prohibition against discrimination based on “sex” to include a prohibition against discrimination based on: “sex stereotypes, sex-related characteristics (including intersex traits), pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity.”

    Under the Biden administration’s sweeping new Title IX rule, any K–12 school or institution of higher education that receives any federal funding would have to open girls’ bathrooms, locker rooms, housing accommodations, sports teams, and any other sex-separated educational program or offering to biological boys who claim to “identify” as girls. Similarly, boys’ facilities would have to be accessible to biological girls who “identify” as boys.

    And the law’s decimation of equality doesn’t stop there. The regulations also eliminate due process protections for students accused of sexual misconduct (like the right to call witnesses, introduce evidence, or be represented by counsel during an investigation), and violates the First Amendment to the Constitution by forcing teachers and fellow students to use of a student’s “preferred pronouns.”

    The regulations also require K-12 schools to accept a child’s gender identity regardless of biological sex without providing any notice to, much less seeking the approval of, the child’s parents.

    And while the Education Department has punted, at least for the moment, on its second Title IX rule—one that applies only to athletics—the Biden administration’s representation that sports are not included in today’s rule is a complete head fake. By expanding the definition of “sex” to include “gender identity” and applying the rule to all “extracurricular activities,” male and female athletic teams will be a thing of the past. Indeed, the word “athletics” appears in the new rule at least 31 times.

    Furthermore, the Department of Education’s reading of Title IX lacks any support in the text of the title, its implementing regulations, and the law’s congressional history.

    Congress had a chance in 1987 to amend the Title IX “sex” definition to include “gender identity,” when it amended Title IX under the Civil Rights Restoration Act. But it did not.

    Executive agencies are empowered only to promulgate “rules” or “regulations” that implement or interpret laws passed by Congress—not to create completely new laws.

    Apparently, the Department of Education has forgotten that.

    Now the question isn’t if legal challenges will follow, but how fast they’ll come.

    The Independent Women’s Law Center has already indicated it is readying a lawsuit against the Department of Education. Others are likely to follow. Let’s hope so.

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    UPDATE: Man Who Set Himself On Fire Outside Trump NYC Trial Dies In Hospital

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    UPDATE:

    Max Azzarello died Friday night hours after he set himself on fire in a Manhattan park across the street from former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial, police said.

    Original post:

    A Florida man set himself on fire outside Manhattan Criminal Court Friday — as former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial was underway, police said.

    Max Azzarello, 37, of St. Augustine, Florida, shuffled into the public park across the street from the 100 Centre Street courthouse just after 1:30 p.m. — just as the jury was finalized in the historic case, according to cops.

    Once inside the park, which was surrounded by barricades for Trump’s trial, Azzarello took off his jacket, dumped what cops believe was an alcohol-based cleaning accelerant over himself — and then lit himself up.

    “He’s on fire and the area in the park where some of the accelerant spilled is also on fire,” NYPD Chief of Department, Jeffrey Maddrey, said as he described the horror.

    “Civilians, court officers, members of the police department, they run into the park, they make efforts to put him out. They use their coats, they use fire extinguishers.”

    Disturbing footage from the scene showed Azzarello completely engulfed in flames for several minutes as his blackened body twitched on the ground while horrified witnesses screamed in the background.

    Just seconds before lighting himself up, Azzarello had reached into a book bag and retrieved a stack of colorful pamphlets that he tossed into the air — including some that linked to a Substack page with the heading, “I have set myself on fire outside the Trump Trial.”

    In a rambling, incoherent 2,648-word manifesto posted online prior to the ordeal, Azzarello — who identified himself as an investigative researcher — said he had self-immolated as an “extreme act of protest” over a “totalitarian con” and impending “apocalyptic fascist world coup.”

    “The pamphlets appear to be propaganda-based, almost a conspiracy theory type of pamphlet,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said.

    “Some information in regards to Ponzi scheme and the fact that some of our local educational institutes are fronts for the mob. So, a little bit of a conspiracy theory going on here.”

    First responders loaded a severely burned Azzarello into an ambulance and rushed him to Cornell University Hospital’s burns unit where he remained in a critical condition as of Friday afternoon, police said.

    Those who jumped in to help douse the flames — including three NYPD officers and one court officer — suffered minor injuries from their exposure to the fire, FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh said.

    “It happened fast. He was up in flames and seemed determined,” a witness, only identified as Dave, told The Post.

    “I heard this clattering and it was these papers that he had flung up and they clattered to the ground,” he continued. “Then he pulled out a can and he poured it over himself. At that point, I thought ‘oh this could be awful’.”

    “And after pouring himself with obviously something flammable he took out, I think, a lighter then he lit himself on fire,” he added.

    Disturbing video posted on Instagram showed officers scrambling to put out the flames on metal barriers in the park and the ash-covered man twitching on the ground.

    In the aftermath, cops could be seen scurrying around collecting the discarded flyers.

    Azzarello, who hails from Florida, had arrived in the Big Apple at some point after last Saturday, police said.

    His family weren’t even aware he’d left the Sunshine State, according to cops.

    He was pictured outside the courthouse just on Thursday, holding up a sign that said “Trump is with Biden and they’re about to fascist coup us” and wearing red and black gloves and a backpack.

    Court records show Azzarello had filed a conspiracy-laced lawsuit in Manhattan federal court in April 2023 against over 100 defendants — including the likes of Bill and Hillary Clinton, the country of Saudi Arabia, Mark Cuban, Richard Branson, and Ross Perot.

    The meandering case — filed by Azzarello, without a lawyer — alleged “an elaborate network of Ponzi schemes” dating back to the 1990s and continuing through 2023.

    The lawsuit was tossed, though, last October when Azzarello failed to follow up with required court filings.

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    Iran Threatens Strike on Israeli Nuke Sites

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    The Middle East is on the “precipice” of a broader war that can be averted with a two-state solution allowing Israel and Palestine to exist side-by-side with Jerusalem as a shared capital, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council on Thursday.

    However, that solution won’t come from immediate U.S. recognition of a Palestinian state after the U.S. vetoed in the Security Council a draft resolution to that effect Thursday.

    Guterres’ comments came as Tehran warned it has the ability to strike Israeli nuclear sites if Israel targets Iran’s nuclear facilities.

    Guterres said a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis is the basis of U.N. resolutions, international law and previous agreements.

    The current Israeli government, however, has shown little interest in relinquishing control of the occupied territories.

    “One miscalculation, one miscommunication, one mistake, could lead to the unthinkable – a full-scale regional conflict that would be devastating for all involved and for the rest of the world,” he said.

    Guterres called on Israel as the “occupying power” to protect the Palestinian population in the West Bank against violence and intimidation and to allow safe passage for humanitarian aid into Gaza.

    “Let me be clear − the risks are spiraling on many fronts,” he said.

    “We have a shared responsibility to address those risks and pull the region back from the precipice.”

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    Bank of America Boycott Calls Grow After MAGA Accounts Closed

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    Bank of America is facing calls for a boycott over allegations it is closing accounts of customers based on their political views.

    Multiple MAGA profiles and Republicans have criticized the bank in recent days over claims, which have been denied by the company, that it is allegedly engaging in a practice known as “de-banking” because of customers’ religious and political beliefs.

    John Eastman, a former lawyer for Donald Trump, recently claimed his Bank of America and USAA accounts were closed in response to his attempts to help the former president overturn the 2020 election results. Eastman was recommended for disbarment from practicing law in March after a judge found his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 results in favor of Trump had violated attorney conduct rules.

    A number of pro-Trump and MAGA social media profiles are now calling for a boycott of Bank of America over the alleged de-banking.

    LJ Lindsey posted on X, formerly Twitter: “No one should be using Bank of America for their personal accounts as they are not personal loan friendly and have not been for years.

    “They want the larger corporate customers. It is time to boycott Bank of America so they are forced to be bought out.”

    The @mnbbrewster account added: “If I had a Bank of America account I would definitely close it. And no further information will be provided. If you have an account with Bank of America boycott them.”

    “If you are MAGA you must BOYCOTT Bank of America. And if you are a MAGA veteran, you must BOYCOTT USAA!,” a user of X posted while sharing an article on Eastman’s accounts.

    Another X user added: “Bank of America thinks it can get involved in politics & de bank patriots that fight against corruption, like the obviously stolen election! BOYCOTT THEM NOW.”

    Elsewhere, 15 Republican attorneys general signed a letter warning Bank of America CEO Brian T. Moynihan against its alleged “discriminatory behavior” targeting people for their political or religious views.

    “Your bank needs to be transparent with and assure us, its shareholders, and others that it will not continue to de-bank customers for their speech or religious exercise,” they wrote.

    In a statement to Fox News, Bank of America spokesperson Bill Halldin denied the claims of alleged de-banking.

    “Religious beliefs are not a factor in any account-closing decision,” Halldin said. “We are proud to provide banking services to non-profit organizations affiliated with diverse faith communities throughout the United States.”

    The letter came after Bank of America was said to have sent the FBI and U.S. Treasury private consumer financial data in order to assist with investigations into the January 6 attack at the Capitol in 2021, DailyMail.com reported.

    In a post on X, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey wrote: “Proud to be one of 15 AGs demanding answers from Bank of America for reportedly debanking Missourians.

    “If any company is punishing consumers because of their political beliefs, that may constitute a serious violation of the First Amendment. We will get to the bottom of it.”

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    Hillary Clinton: Trump Wants to Kill His Opposition, Drive Journalists Into Exile

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    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a podcast released on Friday that she believes former President Donald Trump wants to model himself after dictators like Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Trump beat Clinton to become president during the 2016 election, and she has alleged that he has connections to Russia.

    Clinton, on the “Democracy Docket” podcast, accused Trump of modeling himself after Russian President Vladmir Putin and other global dictators, suggesting her former opponent wants to commit heinous acts against those who oppose him.

    “Putin does what [Trump] would like to do,” Clinton told election lawyer Marc Elias during the podcast.

    “Kill his opposition, imprison his opposition, drive journalists into exile, rule without any check or balance. That’s what Trump really wants. And so we have to be very conscious of how he sees the world because in that world, he only sees strong men leaders. He sees Putin, he sees Xi, he sees Kim Jong Un in North Korea. Those are the people he is modeling himself after and we’ve been down this road in our, you know, world history. We sure don’t want to go down that again.”

    Watch:

    “My view, having negotiated with Putin, and knowing one of the reasons he went after me is because he knew I would deal with him in an appropriate way, and Trump would basically do whatever he wanted, it’s really important to think about what could happen to our world with Trump back in the White House,” Clinton added.

    “Withdrawing us from NATO, not caring about what happens with Europe … The idea that he wants Ukraine to fail. The idea that he doesn’t want us to be able to surveil our enemies. This is a very scary prospect.”

    Clinton’s 2016 campaign funded a since-discredited dossier assembled by Christopher Steele alleging Trump colluded with Russia during the election.

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    Tesla Recalls All 3878 Cybertrucks Over Faulty Accelerator Pedal

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    Tesla has issued a voluntary recall of 3,878 Cybertrucks to fix a “stuck pedal” issue that had been depicted in a viral TikTok video posted last week by owner Jose Martinez.

    A pad on top of the Cybertruck’s accelerator pedal could come loose and get trapped in the interior trim causing unintended acceleration, a Tesla filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledged.

    Tesla’s service department plans to replace or repair the accelerator pedal assembly, free of charge for owners.

    In a defect notice, Tesla revealed that an “unapproved change introduced lubricant (soap) to aid in the component assembly of the pad onto the accelerator pedal. Residual lubricant reduced the retention of the pad to the pedal.”

    Tesla first became aware of this issue on March 31, 2024, according to the filing. After assessing the problem, Tesla on April 12 decided to issue a voluntary recall of the Cybertrucks, the filing says.

    Deliveries of the Cybertruck have been low, with under 4,000 units shipped since CEO Elon Musk kicked off deliveries at an unveiling event on Nov. 30, 2023, the filings said.

    The company reported disappointing first-quarter vehicle deliveries for 2024, totaling 386,810 cars. That represented a drop of 8.5% from the same quarter last year.

    Tesla reports first-quarter earnings on Tuesday.

    CNBC asked the NHTSA about the trapped pedal issue on the Cybertruck on April 14, after Martinez’s video raised public awareness of the defect and unintended acceleration.

    A representative for the NHTSA said on Monday that the agency had received three vehicle owner complaints about the Cybertruck and that the agency was aware of the video.

    The NHTSA said it “uses many data sources in its enforcement processes, including social media and vehicle owner and other related forums.”

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    House Advances Ukraine, Israel Aid as Dems Help Speaker Johnson, GOP

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    The House advanced legislation Friday to send aid to Ukraine and other embattled U.S. allies overseas, clearing a key procedural hurdle after Democrats stepped in to back the measure — a rare move by the minority party, but one that was crucial to nudge the package forward in the face of fierce conservative opposition.

    The chamber approved the foreign aid rule in a 316-94 vote, opening up debate on a quartet of bills combining military aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan with humanitarian assistance to Gaza and other global war zones. The successful rule tees up final passage of all four measures, which are scheduled to hit the floor in separate votes Saturday afternoon.

    The advancement brings Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) one step closer to passing an explosive foreign aid package that has been the subject of intense debate within the Capitol — and his conference — for months amid dire warnings from lawmakers, U.S. officials and foreign figures that Kyiv’s beleaguered forces need more U.S. assistance.

    But the bipartisan vote is sure to land Johnson in more hot water with his right flank, which has sharply criticized the package — both for the billions of dollars in Ukraine aid and the exclusion of border security — and have long denounced the Speaker’s tendency to work with Democrats to advance key priorities including, now, foreign assistance.

    Highlighting those internal tensions, three Republicans on the House Rules Committee had voted against the rule on the panel late Thursday night, and 55 conservatives voted against it again when it hit the House floor Friday morning. The House Freedom Caucus released an official position Thursday urging all Republicans to oppose the rule.

    The internal opposition to what has historically been a standard procedural matter has become its own routine this Congress, as conservatives have sought to press GOP leaders to fight harder for Republican priorities — the dynamic that led to the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) last October.

    But despite the drama, Johnson’s job appears safe — for now.

    Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has filed a resolution to oust the Speaker, but she has not said when she plans to trigger a vote on it. And Thursday, even as she railed against Johnson’s handling of the Ukraine debate, she said she’s not ready to force her vacate resolution to the floor.

    “I’m not acting out of emotions or rash feelings or anger,” Greene said. “I’m doing this the right way, and I’m allowing my conference to see exactly what I saw months ago.”

    Lending Johnson a huge boost — and perhaps a job-security lifeline — former President Trump threw his support behind the Speaker during a joint appearance at Mar-a-Lago last week, a vote of confidence that has muddied Greene’s path forward in her ouster effort.

    Even if she does force a vote to remove Johnson, Democrats are likely to step in and save him. A number of Democrats in recent months have said that if the Speaker moves aid for Ukraine, they will protect him from a conservative coup. Some have predicted there are dozens of Democrats in that camp.

    On Friday’s rule vote, the eleventh-hour help from Democrats did not come as a surprise: President Biden endorsed the foreign aid package earlier this week, and the four Democrats on the Rules Committee voted late Thursday night to advance the package through the panel over the opposition of three committee conservatives.

    Nonetheless, the Democratic support was extraordinary: Members of the minority party rarely help majority leaders pass procedural rules. The only other instance of Democrats helping Republicans advance legislation on a procedural vote this Congress was in May, when Democrats crossed the aisle to support a rule to begin debate on the debt limit bill crafted by Biden and McCarthy.

    Friday’s bipartisan vote to advance the foreign aid package — as well as Johnson’s decision to risk his gavel to bring it to the floor — reflect the urgency felt by leaders in both parties as Ukraine is running low on weapons supplies and Israel is under fire from Iran.

    Full list of vote results here.

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    Republican Introduces Legislation to Defund NPR

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    Republican Indiana Rep. Jim Banks introduced legislation Friday to defund National Public Radio (NPR).

    The Daily Caller first obtained a copy of the legislation, which is titled the Defund NPR Act. The bill would cut off any federal funds to NPR.

    An NPR editor, Uri Berliner, published a piece alleging the outlet has deep political bias and that the Washington D.C. bureau employs 87 registered Democrats and zero registered Republicans.

    Berliner resigned after NPR suspended him for publishing the piece.

    NPR’s new CEO, Katherine Maher, has also made headlines as old tweets and clips of her show political bias. Maher, who was hired in March, previously expressed support for President Joe Biden’s campaign in 2020 and called former President Donald Trump a “racist” in 2018.

    She has also described the First Amendment as “the number one challenge” to combatting “misinformation.”

    “NPR’s new CEO is a radical, left-wing activist who doesn’t believe in free speech or objective journalism. Hoosiers shouldn’t be writing her paychecks. Katherine Maher isn’t qualified to teach an introductory journalism class, much less capable of responsibly spending millions of American tax dollars,” Banks told the Caller before introducing the bill.

    READ THE LEGISLATION HERE: 

     

    “NPR was a liberal looney bin under the last CEO John Lansing, and it’s about to get even nuttier. It’s time to pull the plug on this national embarrassment. Congress must stop spending other people’s hard-earned money on low grade propaganda,” he added.

    The legislation has appeared to pick up the support of businessman Elon Musk, who said it was “great” Banks is introducing the bill.

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    Witness Claims Matt Gaetz Attended Drug-Fueled Party with Underage Girl in Statement to Lawmakers

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    The House Ethics Committee is investigating whether or not Rep. Matt Gaetz used illicit drugs as a member of Congress, multiple sources familiar with the committee’s work told ABC News.

    Committee investigators have inquired about whether Gaetz was under the influence of drugs at parties in Florida after becoming a member of Congress in 2017, according to the sources.

    According to a sworn written statement that has been obtained by the Ethics committee, a woman says that in summer of 2017, when she was 20 years old, she attended a party in Florida that Gaetz also attended, which featured alcohol and drugs including cocaine and MDMA, sources familiar with the committee’s work told ABC News.

    In the sworn statement, which has not been previously reported, the woman said that in addition to Gaetz, the party was attended by the then-minor who was at the center of a yearslong Justice Department investigation into accusations that the Florida Congressman had sex with her when she was 17, according to sources.

    According to the statement provided to the committee, sources said the woman who made the statement — who ABC News is not identifying — said she saw the then-minor naked at the party, which was also attended by adult men other than Gaetz, and that at the party there allegedly were bedrooms that were made available for sexual activities.

    Gaetz has repeatedly denied all wrongdoing, including the allegations that he had sex with a minor. The Justice Department informed Gaetz in 2023 that it was declining to bring charges against him.

    Though the statement obtained by Congress references Gaetz, it was not written specifically to the Ethics Committee and is not primarily about the congressman, and the woman does not discuss whether or not she had knowledge of Gaetz’s alleged sexual relations with the then-minor, sources said.

    When asked if Rep. Gaetz recalled attending the 2017 party, a spokesperson for the Florida Congressman told ABC News, “No.” The spokesperson also said “no” when asked if Gaetz has used illicit drugs since becoming a member of Congress.

    The sworn statement places Gaetz at a party with the then-minor, who Gaetz has denied ever having a relationship with and previously claimed “doesn’t exist” when asked about the allegations on Fox News in March 2021.

    “The person doesn’t exist,” Gaetz told Tucker Carlson. “I have not had a relationship with a 17-year-old, that is totally false.”

    In March, Gaetz was subpoenaed as a witness by attorneys representing the former minor in a civil lawsuit brought by Gaetz’s longtime friend, Chris Dorworth, who alleges he was defamed by her and others during the Justice Department’s probe into the matter. Gaetz is not a party to the lawsuit. Gaetz’s deposition is slated for June and could see the congressman asked under oath about allegations that he engaged in sexual activity with the woman when she was a minor.

    Last week, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy made headlines when he claimed he was ousted because he would not stop the ongoing House Ethics probe into Gaetz.

    “I’ll give you the truth why I’m not speaker,” McCarthy said at an event at Georgetown University. “It’s because one person, a member of Congress, wanted me to stop an ethics complaint because he slept with a 17-year-old.”

    Gaetz appeared to respond on X, formally known as Twitter, writing, “Kevin McCarthy is a liar. That’s why he is no longer speaker.”

    The House Ethics probe into Gaetz has continued to move forward in recent weeks, with investigators reaching out to more individuals, including young women who were allegedly paid by Gaetz’s one-time close friend Joel Greenberg to attend sex parties, sources said.

    Committee investigators have asked witnesses whether they had seen or had knowledge of Gaetz using and or purchasing drugs himself, sources said.

    ABC News previously reported that the House Ethics Committee had subpoenaed Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend for testimony, which she sat for in late February.

    ABC News also reported that the committee had obtained texts allegedly showing Gaetz setting up a trip to the Florida Keys trip with a separate woman that Greenberg had paid for sex.

    A spokesperson for Gaetz told ABC News at the time, “Rep. Gaetz has no knowledge of these activities by Mr. Greenberg and was not involved in them. Rep. Gaetz has never paid for sex. Rep. Gaetz does not know anything about the woman you’re referencing, though he takes thousands of selfies each year.”

    Gaetz has criticized the Ethics Committee for “trying to weaponize their process.”

    “The Ethics Committee is engaging in payback against me for ousting the person who singularly appointed every Republican — Kevin McCarthy,” Gaetz previously said in a statement to ABC News.

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    Pentagon Speeding Up Work on First New Nuclear Warhead in 40 Years

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    The United States is building the first new nuclear warhead in 40 years but will do so without nuclear testing, Energy Department officials told Congress Wednesday.

    The W93 warhead will be used on submarine-launched ballistic missiles and is being built with $19.8 billion requested by the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) for weapons in fiscal 2025, according to Senate testimony by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and NNSA Administrator Jill Hruby.

    The W93 has been in an early phase of feasibility and design at Los Alamos National Laboratory since May 2022 and is “on track” for production beginning in the mid-2030s, the two officials said in prepared testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    Nuclear forces modernization is the Pentagon’s top priority and the Navy’s nuclear-missile submarines are considered the linchpin of U.S. strategic nuclear forces, which also include ICBMs and bombers.

    NNSA stated on its website that the W93 “will allow the U.S. to keep pace with future adversary threats.”

    All nuclear components will be based on currently deployed and previously tested nuclear designs.

    The W93 will include modern technologies, such as insensitive high explosives used for triggering. Other new features will include improved safety, security and flexibility “to address future threats,” the NNSA said.

    The warhead is said to be lighter than the current W76 and W88 warheads, allowing for greater missile ranges.

    The nuclear missile submarine forces will be scaled down from 14 Ohio-class submarines to 12 Columbia-class missile boats.

    The department also is modernizing five existing warhead types — the B61-12 life extension program, the B61-13, the W88, W87, and W80 warheads under a funding request of $2.84 billion, the two officials’ testimony states.

    The B61 is a nuclear gravity bomb dropped by aircraft and the newer variant will be built by 2025.

    The Biden administration, however, failed to request funds for the new submarine-launched cruise missile-nuclear, known as SLCM-N in the current budget, the two officials stated, blaming the timing of last year’s defense authorization enactment.

    The SLCM-N likely will be armed with the W80 warhead, Ms. Hruby said during a committee hearing.

    The W80 also will be used on the Air Force’s new air-launched, long-range missile.

    Congress demanded the nuclear cruise missile in legislation after its development was opposed by the administration.

    NNSA will continue to work with the Pentagon and Congress to comply with the law, the officials stated.

    The Pentagon-Energy Nuclear Weapons Council ordered development of the new warhead to be sped up and the funds requested for it will seek to achieve that, Ms. Granholm and Ms. Hruby‘s testimony states.

    “The W93 is a new warhead program based on existing designs that will not require new underground nuclear explosive testing,” the two women stated.

    The number used for the warhead – W93 – is the latest effort at a new warhead. The W89 and W92 were canceled after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

    The United States is adhering to a nuclear testing moratorium despite the Senate having rejected the proposed Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1999.

    “The W93 will meet DoD requirements to enhance operational effectiveness of the U.S. ballistic missile submarine force,” Ms. Granholm and Ms. Hruby said.

    Plutonium pits for the warhead will be produced at the Savannah River National Laboratory in South Carolina.

    The warhead, which was requested by Adm. Charles Richard in late 2020 when he was commander of the Omaha-based Strategic Command, will being built with assistance from the British government, which also will be deploying the weapon.

    Adm. Richard, who retired in January 2023, was the first nuclear forces commander to sound the alarm on what he termed China’s nuclear “breakout.”

    China has doubled its nuclear warhead stockpile and has begun deploying multi-warhead intercontinental ballistic missiles at three large missile fields in western China.

    These fields could include up to 360 missiles, military officials have said.

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