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FBI Searching Mike Pence's Home Amid Classified Docs Investigations
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FBI agents searched former Vice President Mike Pence’s residence Friday as federal authorities continue their classified document investigation, two sources confirmed to Fox News.

Local police blocked off the entrance to the Carmel, Indiana home before federal investigators arrived in a white vehicle.

The search was planned for days, the sources said, with the full consent of the former vice president.

Pence is not at home during the investigation — he is currently in California visiting his daughter, who recently gave birth to his second grandchild.

Authorities will be assisted by an attorney representing Pence if necessary.

The officials could be seen showing a badge to local police before being granted entry to the residence.

Pence informed Congress last month that he discovered documents bearing classified markings from his time as vice president on Jan. 16. This search is to check that nothing was missed, the sources indicated.

Pence attorney Greg Jacob wrote on Jan. 18 to Acting Director Kate Dillon McClure of the White House Liaison Division National Archives and Records Administration to inform her of the papers “containing classified markings.”

Pence’s team found the documents following revelations that classified documents from President Biden’s tenure as vice president were found at the Penn Biden Center think tank and at the president’s home Wilmington, Delaware.

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Read 28 Comments
  • Joe says:

    They wanted to find classified documents at Pences residence to justify Chairman Xiden having classified documents. That way they can say every one does it, like that doesn’t make it illegal.

  • Michael says:

    Where were the search warrants for Obama , Biden and Hunter and members of congress ? Talk about selective enforcement and a very selective response . Makes one think they are helping them avoid any accountability . While turning Trump and Pence into a three ring circus . With out any real reason for it other then political smearing . And acting As the political enforcers of the DNC . But that’s only because they are . And their ethical and moral corruption has become more clear every day . My respect of the fbi is at Zero it can’t go any lower . And there is no sign by their actions it will ever go up . Ever again . Because nothing they say or do at this point can ever be trusted or believed .

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    WATCH LIVE: Second Republican Presidential Debate

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    Biden Dog Bites Another Secret Service Agent; 11th Incident

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    When and where is the debate?

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

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

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

    How can I watch it?

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

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

    Who is moderating the Republican debate?

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

    What are the Republican debate topics?

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

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

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

    Which candidates will be there?

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

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

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

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

    Will Donald Trump attend the Republican debate?

    Obviously not.

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

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

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

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

    What’s changed since the last debate?

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

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

    How did the candidates qualify?

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

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

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

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

    Which candidates did not qualify?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Real Estate Insiders Bewildered by Judge’s $18M Valuation of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago: ‘Would List at $300M’

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    A New York judge’s Tuesday ruling valuing Donald Trump’s sprawling, headline-making Florida estate at $18 million has left industry experts perplexed.

    In his verdict, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron delivered a bombshell ruling that the former president committed fraud by inflating the value of his wealth, with details including the monetary value associated with Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach.

    This decision, which came down without a jury, has sent shockwaves through political — and real estate — circles, especially that $18 million base value for the property.

    One prominent Palm Beach real estate broker, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Post, “It’s utterly delusional to think that property is only worth $18 million.”

    The insider added, “If that property were on the market today, I would list it at around $300 million, minimum … at least. He also has the separate golf course minutes away.”

    Engoron’s verdict holds Trump, 77, along with his family and his business empire, the Trump Organization, liable for fraud — a central allegation in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against the defendants.

    In a 35-page judgment, Engoron sided with James, asserting that Trump had made unequivocally false statements in official documents to secure favorable terms with financial institutions.

    Notably, Trump’s claims, such as his triplex penthouse in Trump Tower being 30,000 square feet when it was closer to 11,000, were also described by Engoron as “fraudulent” given their significant discrepancies.

    However, the ruling raised eyebrows when Engoron, a Democrat who ran unopposed in the general election on Nov. 3, 2015, evaluated the worth of Trump’s prized Mar-a-Lago Club resort at $18 million, ruling that the property was inflated by 2,500%.

    He cited a basic Palm Beach Assessor valuation that ranged from $18 million to $28 million between 2011 and 2021, with industry sources saying it fails to take into consideration the fair market value. This valuation is far from Trump’s 1985 purchase price of $10 million, $8 million less than what the judge declared it was worth today.

    There are also nearby comps.

    To put it in perspective, a 2-acre wooded lot at 1980 S. Ocean Blvd., just 5 minutes from Mar-a-Lago, is currently listed for $150 million. Mar-a-Lago, situated at 1100 S. Ocean Blvd., dwarfs this lot tenfold and operates as a commercial business with around 500 members as part of the golf club.

    Also nearby: a 2.3-acre plot of land at 1063/1071 N. Ocean Blvd., on the market for a sky-high $200 million.

    Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate boasts 20 acres.

    Forbes had appraised the property, boasting 128 rooms, at approximately $160 million in 2018 following extensive renovations and its exclusive Palm Beach location on Billionaires’ Row. The property includes a 20,000-square-foot ballroom, five clay tennis courts and a sprawling waterfront pool.

    And in the five years since, Palm Beach properties have only increased in value.

    Nearby residential properties, less than half the size and lacking ocean frontage, are commanding an average price of $40 million in today’s market.

    There have also been very prominent local purchases.

    In March, Rush Limbaugh’s widow, Kathryn Adams Limbaugh, sold her husband’s longtime Palm Beach compound, on 2.7 acres, for $155 million.

    And back in 2013, hedge funder Ken Griffin paid $129.6 million for four parcels in the area.

    In addition to the verdict, Engoron revoked the New York “business certificates” held by the Trump Organization and any other New York-based business associated with the former commander-in-chief or his family. He further mandated an independent third party to oversee the “dissolution of the cancelled LLCs.”

    In response, Trump denounced it as a “Witch Hunt.”

    Trump issued a lengthy statement, saying, “It is a great company that has been slandered and maligned by this politically motivated Witch Hunt. It is very unfair, and I call for the help from the highest courts in New York State, or the Federal System, to intercede. THIS IS NOT AMERICA.”

    Last year, Engoron referred to Trump as “just a bad guy” in a scathing rebuke to a lawyer arguing that the former president was being unfairly singled out for investigation by James.

    “If Ms. James has a thing against him, OK, that’s not in my understanding [of] unlawful discrimination. He’s just a bad guy she should go after as the chief law enforcement officer of the state.”

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    Fauci Secretly Visited CIA Headquarters to ‘Influence’ COVID Origins Probe, House Republicans Allege

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    A Republican congressman has claimed that Dr. Anthony Fauci was invited to CIA headquarters to participate in the agency’s probe into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, who chairs the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, made the claim in a letter on Tuesday to the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General.

    ‘According to information gathered by the Select Subcommittee, Dr. Anthony Fauci, then-director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, played a role in the Central Intelligence Agency’s review of the origins of COVID-19,’ wrote Wenstrup.

    ‘The information provided suggests that Dr. Fauci was escorted into Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Headquarters—without a record of entry—and participated in the analysis to ‘influence’ the Agency’s review,’ he added.

    The letter does not specify the source of the information, the date of Fauci’s alleged CIA visit, or the nature of his purported advice or influence on the CIA probe.

    Ever since SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID, first began spreading in Wuhan, China in late 2019, investigators around the world have been trying to definitively determine its origin.

    The two central theories are a natural spread from animals to humans through close contact, or a laboratory leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which studies similar viruses.

    Fauci’s public remarks, particularly early in the pandemic, tended to strongly downplay the lab leak theory, though he stated last November that he has ‘a completely open mind’ on the question.

    The CIA ultimately refused to make an assessment on COVID’s origins, even with low confidence, in a report declassified in June of this year.

    ‘Both hypotheses rely on significant assumptions or face challenges with conflicting reporting,’ according to the agency.

    Other intelligence agencies were split on the origins question, with some favoring natural spread and others a lab leak. But all agreed that SARS-CoV-2 was not developed as an intentional biological weapon.

    In his letter, Wenstrup asked HHS to hand over any documents or communications related to Fauci’s access to CIA facilities and CIA employees.

    He also requested an interview with HHS-OIG Special Agent Brett Rowland, who was involved with Fauci’s personal protection detail when he was NIAID director.

    Fauci retired from NIAID in December, after leading the agency since 1984. He was considered the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and it would not be unusual or unethical for the intelligence community to seek his input on COVID matters.

    But in a statement, Wenstrup’s subcommittee called Fauci’s purported contact with the CIA ‘questionable’ and said that it ‘lends credence to heightened concerns about the promotion of a false COVID-19 origins narrative by multiple federal government agencies.’

    The Republican-led COVID subcommittee has been tasked with investigating the origins of COVID-19, gain-of-function research, coronavirus-related government spending, and mask and vaccine mandates.

    Earlier this month, the subcommittee cited an unnamed CIA whistleblower as testifying that the agency bribed its own analysts to say COVID-19 did not originate in the Wuhan lab.

    In a letter to CIA Director William J. Burns, Wenstrup and Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Turner, also an Ohio Republican, cited the testimony of a ‘multi-decade, senior-level, current Agency officer.’

    The officer, who was not named, said that the CIA offered a ‘significant monetary incentive’ to members of a Covid Discovery Team to influence their findings.

    The person said that six members of the seven-person team originally believed a lab leak was likely, but were persuaded to change their views. The seventh member assessed natural spread was more likely.

    The CIA denied engaging in bribery and said it would investigate the allegations.

    ‘At CIA we are committed to the highest standards of analytic rigor, integrity, and objectivity. We do not pay analysts to reach specific conclusions. We take these allegations extremely seriously and are looking into them. We will keep our Congressional oversight committees appropriately informed,’ CIA director of public affairs Tammy Kupperman Thorp said in a statement.

    Turner and Wenstrup set a September 26 deadline for the CIA to turn over all records involving the COVID Discovery Team and all communications with the FBI, State Department, Health and Human Services and Energy Department about the matter.

    They threatened to slap the agencies with subpoenas if they do not comply. It was not immediately clear as of Wednesday whether the documents had been provided.

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    95 Year-Old War Veteran Kicked Out of NYC Nursing Home to Make Room for Illegal Migrants

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    A Korean War veteran feared he would be left ‘on the curb’ after he was ordered out of his Staten Island nursing home to make way for the migrants overwhelming New York City.

    Frank Tammaro, 95, was given six weeks to get out of the Island Shores Senior Residence when it was sold to city authorities last month.

    Ten people were arrested amid furious protests when the first migrants were bussed to the facility last week after the last of the elderly residents were thrown out.

    ‘The thing I’m annoyed about is how they did it, it was very disgraceful what they did to the people in Island Shores,’ Tammaro told a press conference.

    ‘One day there was a notice on the board, I think that gave us a month and a half to find out where we were going to go.

    ‘I thought my suitcases were going to be on the curb because I’m not that fast.

    ‘If it wasn’t for my daughter, they would’ve been on the curb. That was it.

    ‘I said, ‘No, no, no, no, you’re not moving me,’ and they said, ‘Yes, yes, yes we are.’

    ‘Everything was done behind closed doors – we didn’t have a chance to actually make any attempt to stop them because there wasn’t enough time.’

    More than 113,000 undocumented migrants have arrived in New York after crossing the southern border since last year in a crisis mayor Eric Adams has warned will ‘destroy the city’.

    And another 233,000 were recorded crossing the southern border in August.

    And around 100 hotels have been turned into shelters including the The Paul Hotel, The Paramount Hotel, and the Roosevelt which alone is now housing some 3,000.

    The mayor is planning to spend an extra $1billion on hotel accommodation for migrants over three years, it emerged yesterday, with the city’s public services facing swingeing cuts to pay for it.

    ‘The migrant crisis has evolved into a financial boondoggle, with quietly extended contracts fattening the pockets of a few at the taxpayer’s expense,’ said Democratic Queens Councilman Robert Holden,

    City planners have estimated the cost at $4.7billion this year alone, equal to the budgets for the city’s sanitation, fire and parks departments combined.

    Adams has warned that the cost could reach $15billion over three years, and that library hours, meals for senior citizens, and day care for three-year-olds are at risk as he lops 15 percent of departmental spending.

    The city has a legal obligation to give shelter to those who make their way to the metro, and Adams has desperately turned to a variety of city landmarks, makeshift shelters and temporary housing as short-term solutions.

    While officials have not revealed how many hotel rooms have been designated for migrants, hotel industry experts believe it’s as many as 10,000, as reported by The City.

    ‘Never in my life have I had a problem that I did not see an ending to,’ the Mayor said earlier this month. ‘We are about to experience a financial tsunami that I don’t think the city has ever experienced.

    ‘Every service in this city is going to be impacted from child service to our seniors to housing.

    ‘This issue will destroy New York City.’

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently dispatched a small team to New York City to help determine how the federal government should respond.

    The federal government has so far promised the city $140 million to help, although the city has yet to receive any of that money.

    Adams condemned the ‘ugly display’ from a ‘numerical minority’ who greeted migrants with protests when they arrived at the Staten Island facility.

    ‘I understand the frustration that New Yorkers are going through and understand the frustration that asylum seekers are experiencing as well,’ he added.

    But city councilor Nicole Malliotakis said the eviction of seniors shows ‘our country and our city’s priorities are backwards’.

    ‘My blood pressure went through the roof when I found out Homes for the Homeless cut a deal with the City of New York to turn Island Shores into a migrant shelter,’ the GOP lawmaker said.

    ‘Our tax dollars as citizens of New York should not be utilized to house citizens of other countries, especially at the expense of our senior citizens and veterans who put their lives on the line, paid taxes their whole lives and built our communities.’

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    UPDATE: North Korea Deports US Soldier Who Defected Over “Racism”

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    North Korea on Wednesday deported the American soldier who tried to defect by bolting across the demilitarized zone from South Korea earlier this year.

    23-year old US Army soldier Travis King was among a group of tourists when he ran across the border and was immediately taken into North Korean custody in the July incident.

    King, who had actually been facing Army disciplinary action after spending two months in a South Korean jail on assault charges, claimed he was running from “inhuman maltreatment and racial discrimination” in the US Army.

    King’s statement to the North Koreans also said he was “disillusioned about the unequal U.S. society.”

    It seems he was trying to gain sympathy by playing into Pyongyang’s standard propaganda narrative about the West. Two US officials have confirmed to the Associated Press that King is now back in American custody.

    North Korea’s KCNA says that investigators have completed their questioning of King, and now the “relevant organ of the DPRK decided to expel Travis King, a soldier of the U.S. Army who illegally intruded into the territory of the DPRK, under the law of the Republic.”

    “North Korea did not say how and when it planned to deport Private King, including whether he would be sent back to South Korea through the Demilitarized Zone, which separates North and South Korea,” wrote the NY Times earlier in the morning.

    A prior US military statement said that King had “willfully and without authorization crossed the Military Demarcation Line into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

    The NY Times notes that typically North Korea does not return American soldiers who’ve defected:

    It is unusual for North Korea to expel an American soldier who has expressed a wish to seek asylum there. In the past, the country allowed American G.I.s who deserted to its side to live and even start families there. It often used them as propaganda tools, casting them as evil United States military officers in anti-American movies.

    King’s saga has added an intriguing new ingredient to perpetually quarrelsome US-North Korea relations, which lately has seen the Kim Jong Un regime ramp up ballistic missile tests in response to growing US military drills with the south.

    In 2017, a North Korean soldier ran across the border in 2017 and was hit by five bullets as his fellow soldiers unleashed a 40-round hail of gunfire. He survived and lives in the South.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

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    How Your Social Security Payments Will Be Affected by Government Shutdown

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    As multiple government programs are poised to halt work as a possible government shutdown grows closer ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline, Social Security will not be one of them.

    Social Security payments are issued through a private trust that is not affected by the federal government shutting down, even as millions of federal workers could temporarily go without pay. Medicare and Veterans Affairs benefits would still be distributed during a shutdown.

    Social Security benefits are paid through two sources: payroll taxes and bonds the Treasury Department redeems from Social Security trust funds.

    The shutdown should not be confused with the debt ceiling fight, which would have seen delays in payments had an agreement not been reached.

    A shutdown does affect many other federal programs, including benefits in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, which will stop running a couple of days into the shutdown, according to NBC News.

    But Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said some states could keep their programs running a bit longer. The program helps pregnant women and children under 5 receive healthy food.

    Although the shutdown does not affect any Social Security programs, a longer shutdown is expected to hurt the economy.

    The longest shutdown, which occurred during former President Donald Trump’s administration, is estimated to have cost the economy at least $11 billion directly, with indirect costs even higher, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That shutdown lasted 35 days.

    Social Security recipients receive one retirement payment each month, which goes out on the second, third, and fourth Wednesday of the month. Some recipients also receive Supplemental Security Income checks if they have limited income or are considered disabled.

    To qualify for the disability, the person must be at least partially blind or have a physical or mental disability that severely limits his or her daily activities for at least one year or is expected to result in death.

    The highest retirement payment is up to $4,555 for people who retire at 70.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

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    Large Crowds of Juveniles Loot Multiple Stores in Philly — At Least 15 Arrested

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    Brazen thieves have been caught on video running from Footlocker, Apple and Lululemon with arms full of merchandise as Philadelphia police struggle to grab the looters.

    Videos shared on social media shows police officers attempting to grab lotters, some of who are wearing Halloween masks, as they run from a Lululemon store carrying goods.

    Numerous bikes and piles of merchandise can be seen piled up on the sidewalk outside the clothing store on Walnut Street in the heart of the city.

    Police said that a large crowd of around 100 juveniles kept moving from store to store, with 15 to 20 arrests already being made, with two firearms being recovered.

    It has also been reported that there have been numerous shots fired during the looting in the downtown area.

    Thieves also descended on a nearby Foot Locker store and Apple Store, with CBS News reporting that the security guard at the footwear store was assaulted.

    In another video of the store being ransacked, a large number of thieves can be seen rifling through the store.

    Footage from the Apple store shows the aftermath of the looting, with iPhones and other electronic goods seemingly ripped from their display stands.

    What appears to be staff members can be seen standing around looking bemused.

    Fox News reporter Steve Keeley also shared footage showing the fallout of the looting.

    Officers can be seen placing handcuffs on one man, as they guard the exterior of the store.

    Numerous people can be heard shouting in the background as he is led to the rear of a police van.

    Another shot of looters outside the Lululemon store shows a large number of thieves making their escape.

    Numerous officers quickly arrive on the scene and can be seen pinning several men down.

    A police officer also told NBC Philadelphia that over 100 juveniles had looted the Lululemon store.

    Protests had started round the city earlier in the day over the dismissal of charges against police officer Eddie Irizarry who was involved in a fatal shooting.

    Hugh E. Dillon also shared a video showing the police response to his social media page.

    Dillon wrote: ‘Stay out of center city: Kids looted Apple Store , Lululemon and Chestnut street I hear footlocker has been broken into.

    ‘The police are doing an incredible effort on bikes and in cars corralling the kids blocked by Block. They are pulling cars over a lot of kids are in cars.

    ‘They stop and a whole bunch of them get out and then they start trying to break in the stores. But the police are on top of it.’

    Security guard at a nearby Wendy’s, Hakeem Russel told NBC that the store next to the fast food restaurant had been broken into, with a guard assaulted.

    Russel told the outlet: ‘A couple a kids decided they wanted to take full advantage of the unjust shooting that’s happened.

    ‘It’s definitely been unrest around here since the verdict.’

    Another video shows what appears to be a liquor store in the city, with one woman filming the scene shouting: ‘Everybody must eat, everybody must eat.’

    Officers have now blocked off several streets in the area with crime scene tape due to the robberies.

    ABC reported that police had detained individuals ranged from teenagers to young adults, and recovered one weapon.

    Just three weeks ago, the Philadelphia Police Commissioner resigned from her post as the Democratic run city dealt with a wave of homicides and lawlessness.

    Danielle Outlaw, 48, who has been Philly’s top cop since February 2020, officially left the department on September 22.

    Outlaw’s new role will be the Deputy Chief Security Officer at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where she will oversee the airports, bridges, tunnels and other transportation infrastructure in the New York City area.

    Before she took office, Philadelphia saw less than 400 homicides each year since 2007. Both 2021 and 2022 have seen more than 500 homicides across the city.

    Latest figures, which are up until last Sunday, show how there has been 302 homicides in the city so far this year.

    There has also been 402 reported rapes, 58,759 cases of property crime, 3,701 cases of aggravated assaults and 1,314 shooting victims.

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    Judge Rules Trump Committed Fraud in New York Civil Case

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    A New York state judge ruled that former President Donald Trump and his company are liable for fraud in a lawsuit that was brought by the New York Attorney General’s office.

    Judge Arthur Engoron, issuing a ruling Tuesday in a civil lawsuit brought by Attorney General Letitia James, found that the former president and the Trump Organization deceived banks, insurers, and others by allegedly overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing financing.

    The decision, which comes just days before the start of a non-jury trial in the lawsuit, canceled President Trump’s business certificates. Within 10 days, the former president and other defendants must recommend three independent reviewers to manage the dissolution of the corporations, including the Trump Organization.

    Judge Engoron said Ms. James, a Democrat, had established liability for false valuations of several properties, including Mar-a-Lago and others, and claimed the former president made comments in a deposition that were “wholly without basis in law or fact.”

    “He claims that if the values of the property have gone up in the years since the (financial statements) were submitted, then the numbers were not inflated at that time,” the judge wrote on Tuesday. “He also seems to imply that the numbers cannot be inflated because he could find a ‘buyer from Saudi Arabia’ to pay any price he suggests.”

    A trial has been slated for Oct. 2, and could last well into December.

    Tuesday’s order also ordered sanctions of $7,500 for each attorney who had represented President Trump and the co-defendants, alleging they made previously rejected and frivolous claims in court documents.

    “Defendants’ arguments that the factual record developed in discovery changed the landscape under which standing should be viewed is legally preposterous,” the judge also wrote (pdf). “The best that defendants could muster at oral argument was to contend (incorrectly) that plaintiff cannot sue because the subject transactions were between private entities, and nobody lost money.”

    Ms. James sued Trump in September 2022, accusing him and the Trump Organization of lying for a decade about asset values and his net worth to get better terms on bank loans and insurance. She alleged that Trump inflated his net worth by as much as $2.23 billion, and by one measure as much as $3.6 billion, on annual financial statements given to banks and insurers.

    The former president and his attorneys, however, have denied wrongdoing in the case. Several days ago, his team said that Ms. James’s office has no case during a hearing before Judge Engoron.

    Ms. James’s case is “out of context,” Trump attorney Christopher Kise said in the hearing, according to reports. The former president and other defendants involved in the Trump Organization didn’t commit fraud and said the attorney general’s arguments, according to Mr. Kise, essentially are: “Believe me, this is fraud.”

    The lawyer further stated that there is no evidence of that because the attorney general’s contrary statements did not make it so, and that valuation disputes were immaterial, he said. “The foundation of the case is to ignore everything,” Mr. Kise said. “The case comes down to prosecuting the defendants for engaging in successful business transactions.”

    Earlier this month, President Trump sued Judge Engoron and accused him of taking too long to narrow the case. The lawsuit sought to delay the trial to allow the defendants to prepare properly after the judge decides which claims the attorney general can pursue.

    Defense lawyers have also accused Ms. James of ignoring a June appeals court decision. A U.S. appeals court is expected to decide next week whether the trial should proceed as scheduled.

    Trump’s statement

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    Hunter Biden Received $250K in Wires From China in 2019 – With Beneficiary Address Listed as Joe’s Delaware Home

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    Hunter Biden received wires that originated in Beijing for more than $250,000 from Chinese business partners during the summer of 2019 — wires that listed the Delaware home of Joe Biden as the beneficiary address for the funds, Fox News Digital has learned from a congressional committee.

    House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., has been investigating the Biden family business dealings and President Biden’s alleged involvement in those ventures.

    As part of the investigation, Comer subpoenaed financial records related to a specific bank account and received records of two wires originating from Beijing and linked to BHR Partners.

    BHR Partners is a joint-venture between Hunter Biden’s Rosemont Seneca and Chinese investment firm Bohai Capital. BHR Partners is a Beijing-backed private equity firm controlled by Bank of China Limited. Hunter Biden reportedly sat on the board of directors of BHR Partners.

    The first wire transfer sent to Hunter Biden, dated July 26, 2019, was for $10,000 from an individual named Ms. Wang Xin. There is a Ms. Wang Xin listed on the website for BHR Partners. It is unclear if the wire came from that Wang Xin.

    The second wire transfer sent to Hunter Biden, dated Aug. 2, 2019, was for $250,000 from Li Xiang Sheng — also known as Jonathan Li, the CEO of BHR Partners — and Ms. Tan Ling. The committee is trying to identify Ling’s role.

    The beneficiary for the wires is listed as Robert Hunter Biden with the address “1209 Barley Mill Rd.” in Wilmington, Delaware. That address is the main residence for President Biden.

    Comer and the House Oversight Committee have obtained bank records as part of their investigation, alleging that the Biden family and their business associates received millions of dollars from oligarchs in Russia, Ukraine, Romania and Kazakhstan during the Obama administration.

    Fox News Digital has also learned that the committee has records that allegedly reveal that from 2014 to 2019 the Biden family and their associates received $24 million in foreign payments — $15 million to the Bidens and $9 million for their business associates, $4 million more than previously known.

    Committee aides told Fox News Digital that beneficiary addresses are either the address listed to the recipient account or listed by the individual sending the wire. It is unclear, based on the wire records, who listed the address.

    Hunter Biden spent time in 2017, 2018 and 2019 living at the Biden family home in Wilmington. It is unclear if he was living at the home at the time of the wire transfers in July and August 2019.

    The wires were sent just several months after then-Vice President Joe Biden announced his 2020 presidential campaign. Joe Biden, in August 2019, said he “never discussed with my son or my brother or anyone else anything having to do with their business, period.”

    As for Jonathan Li, according to testimony from Hunter Biden’s former business associate, Devon Archer, as part of the House Oversight Committee’s investigation, Joe Biden sat down for coffee in Beijing with the CEO of BHR. Archer also testified that Biden wrote a college recommendation letter for Li’s daughter to Georgetown. Archer said Hunter Biden put his father on speakerphone for at least one call with Li in addition to meeting for coffee.

    Separately, Fox News Digital first reported in 2022 that Biden wrote a college recommendation letter for Li’s son to Brown University.

    “Bank records don’t lie, but President Joe Biden does,” Comer told Fox News Digital.

    “In 2020, Joe Biden told Americans that his family never received money from China. We’ve already proved that to be a lie earlier this year, and now we know that two wires originating from Beijing listed Joe Biden’s Wilmington home as the beneficiary address when he was running for president of the United States. When Joe Biden was vice president, he spoke on the phone and had coffee with Jonathan Li in Beijing and later wrote a college letter of recommendation for his children,” Comer said.

    “Joe Biden’s abuse of public office for his family’s financial gain threatens our national security. What did the Bidens do with this money from Beijing? Americans demand and deserve accountability for President Biden and the first family’s corruption. The Oversight Committee, along with the Judiciary and Ways and Means committees, will continue to follow the evidence and money to provide transparency and accountability.”

    Despite Hunter Biden receiving more than a quarter of a million dollars in the summer of 2019 from BHR-linked individuals, in October 2019, then-attorney for Hunter Biden, George Mesires, explained Hunter’s role at the company by saying he “served only as a member of the board of directors, which he joined based on his interest in seeking ways to bring Chinese capital to international markets.”

    “It was an unpaid position,” Mesires said on Oct. 13, 2019. “In October 2017, Hunter committed to invest approximately $420,000 USD (as of 10/12/2019) to acquire a 10% equity position in BHR, which he still holds. To date, Hunter has not received any compensation for being on BHR’s board of directors. He has not received any return on his investment; there have been no distributions to BHR shareholders since Hunter obtained his equity interest.”

    Hunter resigned from the board of BHR at the end of October 2019.

    The White House, attorneys for Hunter Biden and Mesires did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. The White House maintains that the president was “never in business with his son.”

    The subpoenaed financial records come amid House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry investigation against President Biden.

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    Egyptian Businessman Accused of Bribing Sen. Bob Menendez Arrested

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    An Egyptian businessman accused of bribing New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez for legislative favors was arrested at New York’s JFK International Tuesday morning.

    The arrest, the 40-year-old’s lawyer said, came after Wael Hana voluntarily flew to the city to face the federal charges – part of a sprawling, three-part indictment filed by the US attorney’s office.

    In it, federal prosecutors allege the Egypt national was one of three New Jersey businessmen who collectively paid hundreds of thousands to Menendez, 69, over the course of several years, in the form of cash, gold, and even a Mercedes Benz.

    The bribes, fed say, came in exchange for Menendez agreeing to use his power and influence to personally enrich Hana, and to benefit the Government of Egypt.

    Hours after being cuffed in Queens, Hana pleaded not guilty to the allegations before a federal magistrate judge, who ordered him released on a $5million bond on the condition he surrender his travel documents.

    Hana complied, and also agreed to be subject to constant GPS monitoring via a device that must be worn at all times, and a curfew at his New Jersey home from 8pm to 8am.

    He’s accused of helping facilitate meetings and dinners between Menendez, the senator’s wife Nadine, and Egyptian military and intelligence officials in a secret bid to increase US aid to Egypt.

    At the meetings, officials pressed the senator – who until his indictment was the most powerful person in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – to sign off on military aid Washington had withheld over concerns about Egypt’s human rights record.

    In exchange, prosecutors allege, Hana put Nadine – who began dating the senator in 2018 before marrying in 2020 – on the payroll of a company he controlled.

    That company – identified in the indictment as New Jersey-based IS EG Halal – had the exclusive right to certify halal meat shipped to Egypt from the US.

    As the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez – who has enjoyed his seat since 2006 – held sway over various military sales, financing and other aid.

    Using this influence, feds allege the senator – who is now facing calls to step down from Democrats – sought to pressure an official at the Department of Agriculture in an effort to protect Hana’s business, and disrupted a criminal case undertaken by the New Jersey AG related to associates of another one of the businessmen, Jose Uribe.

    A 56-year-old former insurance agent from Union City and Hana’s business associate, Uribe – who has also been arrested – was introduced to the senator by Hana, prosecutors said.

    It is then alleged that Uribe asked the senator to intervene in the state attorney general’s prosecution of one of his colleagues accused of insurance fraud, In exchange for $15,000 in cash that she used to make a down payment on a Mercedes-Benz C-class convertible.

    Prosecutors said that Nadine then texted her husband, ‘Congratulations mon amour de la vie, we are the proud owners of a 2019 Mercedes.’

    The last person named in the indictment, local real estate developer and longtime Menendez associate Fred Daibes, is charged with taking part in an insider loan scam at Mariner’s Bank, in which he reportedly asked Menedez to intervene in exchange for cash, furniture, and gold bars.

    The scheme allegedly saw Menedez recommend a candidate for U.S. Attorney in New Jersey whom the senator could influence in Phillip Sellinger, who successfully became the top federal prosecutor in the state.

    According to a report from NJ.com, Daibes pleaded guilty in 2022 to one count of concealing a $1.8 million bank loan made to him – in exchange for the government dropping the remaining 13 counts against him and promising not to seek a prison term.

    All are expected to appear in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday to face charges including conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.

    Bob and Nadine Menendez also each face one count of conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right – a charge that itself can warrant a 20-year prison sentence,

    Altogether, the pair each face up to 45 years in a federal lockup, with both pleading not guilty – despite the bevy of evidence being held against them.

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    Police Name Suspect in Murder of Tech CEO, 26, in Her Baltimore Apartment — He Was Freed Early by Soros-Backed DA

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    The prime suspect in the brutal murder of Baltimore tech CEO Pava LaPere may have struck days earlier in a knifepoint sex assault and arson attack that left two people fighting for their lives, DailyMail reported.

    Police issued an arrest warrant for Jason Billingsley on Tuesday afternoon along with a stark warning to the public that the convicted sex offender, 32, has a history of rape and violence.

    Billingsley faces charges of first-degree murder, assault and reckless endangerment in the killing of 26-year-old LaPere, a rising star in tech who made the prestigious Forbes ’30 Under 30′ list.

    The 6ft 4, 305lbs suspect had been jailed for 30 years in 2015, was set free by progressive, George Soros-backed District Attorney Marilyn Mosby in October 2022 – just seven years into his sentence. It is unclear why he was released so swiftly.

    LaPere was found dead on Monday morning at her Baltimore apartment with blunt force injuries that one veteran officer described to DailyMail.com as ‘absolutely brutal – some of the worst I’ve seen.’

    Announcing the warrant for Billingsley’s capture, Acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Richard Worley said the ‘repeat violent offender’ is a suspect in ‘at least one other case,’ without elaborating.

    ‘BPD’s Special Investigations Section is working to determine potential connections to Billingsley and other cases,’ the police said.

    DailyMail.com revealed detectives are probing possible links to an assault and arson attack in West Baltimore on September 19 that left two people in critical condition and a child in the hospital.

    The incident began when firefighters responded to smoke billowing from the basement of a townhouse at 9:24am.

    They rescued a man and a woman, both aged 26, who had burns and ‘multiple injuries’, along with a five-year-old child found suffering from smoke inhalation.

    A police source told DailyMail.com the attacker had initially targeted the woman, sexually assaulting her and slashing at her throat with a knife.

    Asked if Billingsley was considered a suspect, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore Police Department told DailyMail.com: ‘We can’t confirm that.’

    She said of the arson incident: ‘Officers located a 26-year-old male and an adult female, suffering from multiple injuries. On the upper level of the home, fire personnel located a five-year-old child, unharmed.’

    Medics arrived to the scene and transported the victims to area hospitals where the adult male and female were both listed in critical condition.

    Billingsley was described on Tuesday as ‘a repeat violent offender’, and a suspect in at least one other case.

    ‘He will kill, and he will rape,’ said Richard Worley, the police commissioner, at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

    Billingsley is ‘armed and dangerous,’ and locals should stay alert, said Worley.

    ‘To Jason Billingsley: I hope you are watching,’ he added.

    ‘Every single police officer in Baltimore and the state of Maryland is out there looking for you. We will find you, and we will prosecute you to the full extent of the law. So please turn yourself in.’

    Billingsley has a long criminal history, dating back to 2009 when he was arrested for robbery and assault in the second degree.

    He was arrested in 2011, and again in 2013, for multiple charges to include sex offense, 2nd degree assault charges and robbery.

    In 2015 he was given a 30-year prison sentence, with all but 14 years suspended, and served time at Maryland Correctional Institution in Hagerstown.

    It is unclear what he was jailed for.

    Mosby is no longer the DA in Baltimore, having been replaced in January 2023 by Ivan Bates, who reversed her non-prosecution policy for low-level offenses like drug possession, prostitution, and trespassing on his first day in office.

    Mosby ran her reelection campaign on her record of reducing the population behind bars, holding police officers accountable for their actions, and reviewing convictions for potential exoneration.

    She fired a long list of veteran prosecutors upon taking office, including a 20-year veteran in the middle of an armed robbery trial against a violent repeat offender.

    She instead hired young, inexperienced lawyers to fill the posts, MetroVoice News reported.

    In January 2022, Mosby was indicted on federal charges of perjury and making false mortgage applications, having allegedly made false applications to withdraw retirement money to purchase a vacation home in Florida.

    Mosby has pleaded not guilty on all charges, and is currently scheduled to go on trial in November.

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    Judge Throws Out Texas Ban on Drag Acts, Calls It Unconstitutional

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    A federal judge in Texas ruled on Tuesday that the state’s new law limiting public drag performances was an unconstitutional restriction on speech and he permanently forbid enforcement of it.

    “Not all people will like or condone certain performances,” U.S. District Judge David Hittner wrote.

    “This is no different than a person’s opinion on certain comedy or genres of music, but that alone does not strip First Amendment protection.”

    More than a dozen states have sought to restrict drag shows over last year, with Texas one of at least four to pass restrictions into law.

    Hittner ruled that the Texas law was discriminatory and improperly vague. He said drag performances were not inherently obscene, and were the sort of expressive speech protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

    Drag performers and Pride march organizers joined the American Civil Liberties Union in a lawsuit in Houston’s federal court seeking to block the law.

    The office of the Texas attorney general defended the law, which, among other restrictions, banned “the exhibition of sexual gesticulations using accessories or prosthetics that exaggerate male or female sexual characteristics” in public, or in venues where people under 18 may see it.

    Violations could be punished by fines and a jail sentence of up to one year.

    Texas lawmakers said the law was needed to protect children from seeing “sexually explicit” content.

    Opponents of the law said it was so broad that it appeared to criminalize acts by pop stars and cheerleaders, and that it was explicitly intended to target LGBT performers.

    Other federal judges in Tennessee, Florida and Montana have blocked similar new drag restrictions, finding similar free-speech violations.

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    Michelle Obama Paid $741,000 for “Diversity and Inclusion” Speech

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    Michelle Obama raked in nearly $750,000 for a one-hour speech at a tech fair in the southern German city of Munich on Monday, DailyMail reported.

    The 59-year-old picked up the eye-watering check for speaking to a start-up event held on the sidelines of the annual Oktoberfest beer festival, two sources close to the conference organizers said.

    According to the event’s webpage, the ex-attorney was set to speak to some 5,000 attendees on how to ‘push past self-doubt while discussing the importance of inclusivity and diversity.’

    The Harvard graduate will be paid 700,000 euros for her appearance at the three-day love-in for European entrepreneurs, which is roughly the equivalent of $741,000.

    Organizers said Mrs Obama had ‘topped the list’ of people that participants wanted to take part ‘year after year.’

    ‘They really pulled out all the stops to get her,’ said one person close to the team behind the annual ‘Bits and Pretzels’ forum. ‘It’s one of the highest fees that they have ever paid.’

    That sum is nearly double what Biden earns in a year as president.

    Axios previously reported that Michelle Obama could be booked for $200,000, while her husband cost $400,000.

    Her fellow speakers include Oliver Kahn, a former German soccer star turned entrepreneur.

    The Bits & Pretzels conference is set over three days and hears from founders of national and international companies that tell their success stories, as well as guest speakers like Michelle Obama.

    Michelle Obama was the United States’ First Lady from January 2009 to January 2017, when her husband Barack served two consecutive terms as the commander-in-chief.

    She has been mooted in recent months as a possible alternative candidate to Joe Biden, 80, if he decided to pull out of the 2024 presidential race amid concerns over his cognitive abilities.

    Democrat Party bigwigs are worried that Biden could end up losing to resurgent GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

    Even the Biden-bashing Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, believes Obama is preparing to run despite her denials.

    ‘Here’s the scenario that I think is perhaps most likely, and most dangerous,’ he said on his podcast. ‘In August of 2024, the Democrat kingmakers jettison Joe Biden and parachute in Michelle Obama.’

    She commands wide support among the American people, and throughout her time in the White House the former first lady consistently gained sky-high approval ratings, according to Gallup.

    In a recent YouGov poll, 77 percent of people said they still had a favorable opinion of her, compared to just 15 percent unfavorable.

    And 71 percent of Americans and half of all Democrats say Biden is too old to be president and most voters say they are worse off since he took power, according to a damning DailyMail poll from June.

    Former president Barack Obama also spoke to the same Munich forum a mere three years ago in a keynote address that focused on ‘entrepreneurial spirit and leadership skills.’

    However his fee for that appearance has never been disclosed, but he picked up nearly $700,000 for two speeches in Australia earlier this year.

    Upon leaving the White House, the ex-presidential couple, married since 1992, have focused on boosting their earning power through lucrative speaking engagements as well as a $65 million publishing deal with Penguin for their memoirs.

    Together, they set up their joint production company ‘Higher Ground’, signing a multi-year ‘eight figure’ contract with streaming giant Netflix in 2018.

    Last year, the former First Lady staged a six-city U.S. tour for her recent tome, The Light We Carry, in which she explained to readers the habits and practices, attitudes and beliefs that she uses to overcome her fears.

    The mother-of-two gets a Secret Service security detail whenever she travels at home or abroad at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer.

    It is thanks, in part, to a law brought in by President Obama in 2013 that restored lifetime protection for former presidential spouses and their family members.

    That piece of legislation reversed a 1994 statute that had capped Secret Service protection at a maximum of just ten years for presidents who took office after Jan 1, 1997.

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    HORROR: Over 100 Killed and 150 Injured After Fire Breaks Out at Iraq Wedding

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    A raging fire caused by fireworks set off to celebrate a Christian wedding consumed a hall packed with guests in northern Iraq, killing at least 100 people and injuring 150 others as authorities warned Wednesday the death toll could still rise.

    The fire happened Tuesday night in the Hamdaniya area of Iraq’s Nineveh province in its, authorities said. The area, predominantly populated by members of Iraq’s dwindling Christian minority, is just outside of the city of Mosul, some 335 kilometers (205 miles) northwest of Baghdad.

    Television footage showed flames rushing over the wedding hall as the fire took hold. In the blaze’s aftermath, only charred metal and debris could be seen as people walked through the scene of the fire, the only light coming from television cameras and the lights of onlookers’ mobile phones.

    Survivors arrived at local hospitals in bandages, receiving oxygen as their families milled through hallways and outside as workers organized more oxygen cylinders.

    The health department in Nineveh province raised the death toll to 114. Health Ministry spokesman Saif al-Badr earlier put the number of injured at 150 via the state-run Iraqi News Agency.

    “All efforts are being made to provide relief to those affected by the unfortunate accident,” al-Badr said.

    Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani ordered an investigation into the fire and asked the country’s Interior and Health officials to provide relief, his office said in a statement online.

    Najim al-Jubouri, the provincial governor of Nineveh, said some of the injured had been transferred to regional hospitals. He cautioned there were no final casualty figures yet from the blaze, which suggests the death toll still may rise.

    There was no immediate official word on the cause of the blaze but initial reports by the Kurdish television news channel Rudaw suggested fireworks at the venue may have sparked the fire.

    Later footage aired by Rudaw, apparently shot by a guest, showed fireworks shooting up from the floor at the event and setting a chandelier overhead ablaze, to the horror of those gathered inside. Other footage appeared to show the bride and groom on the dance floor when the fire began, stunned by the sight of the burning debris. It wasn’t immediately clear if they were among those hurt.

    Civil defense officials quoted by the Iraqi News Agency described the wedding hall’s exterior as decorated with highly flammable cladding that is illegal in the country.

    “The fire led to the collapse of parts of the hall as a result of the use of highly flammable, low-cost building materials that collapse within minutes when the fire breaks out,” civil defense said.

     

    While some types of cladding can be made with fire-resistant material, experts say those that have caught fire at the wedding hall and elsewhere weren’t designed to meet stricter safety standards and often were put onto buildings without any breaks to slow or halt a possible blaze. That includes the 2017 Grenfell Fire in London that killed 72 people in the greatest loss of life in a fire on British soil since World War II, as well as multiple high-rise fires in the United Arab Emirates.

    The fire was the latest disaster to strike Iraq’s shrinking Christian minority, which over the past two decades has been violently targeted by extremists first from al-Qaida and then the Islamic State militant group. Although the Nineveh plains, the historic homeland, was wrested back from the Islamic State group six years ago, some towns are still mostly rubble and lack basic services. Many Christians have left for Europe, Australia or the United States.

    The number of Christians in Iraq today is estimated at 150,000, compared to 1.5 million in 2003. Iraq’s total population is more than 40 million.

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    Target Closing 9 Stores Due to “Theft and Organized Retail Crime”

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    The Target store in East Harlem was the company’s first in Manhattan, opened in July 2010, but it will now close on Oct. 21, 2023 because of retail crime.

    Target Corp. will shutter nine stores across four states on Oct. 21 because of theft and crime, the company announced Tuesday.

    Target said it made the “difficult decision” to close the stores — which include locations in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, Seattle, Portland and the San Francisco Bay Area — after the Minneapolis-based company tried ineffective theft-preventive measures. The company tried adding more security, including third-party guards, and used theft deterrents like locking up merchandise.

    “In this case, we cannot continue operating these stores because theft and organized retail crime are threatening the safety of our team and guests and contributing to unsustainable business performance,” the company said in a statement. “We know that our stores serve an important role in their communities, but we can only be successful if the working and shopping environment is safe for all.”

    Target leaders have continued to publicly decry organized retail crime, which the company has said it has seen high levels of for about a year, and it has negatively impacted the company’s bottom line.

    In the spring, Target executives said they expected inventory shrink, which they attributed in large part to theft and organized retail crime, to reduce the company’s profitability by more than $500 million this year compared to last year. Target CEO Brian Cornell said “violent incidents” continued to increase in stores and across the retail industry.

    Last month, during a call about the company’s second-quarter earnings, Cornell said during the first five months of the year, Target’s stores saw a 120% increase in theft incidents involving violence or threats of violence.

    “Our team continues to face an unacceptable amount of retail theft and organized retail crime. … Shrink in the second quarter remained consistent with our expectations but well above the sustainable level where we expect to operate over time,” Cornell said at the time. “And unfortunately, safety incidents associated with theft are moving in the wrong direction.”

    But at the same time, company leaders said they have seen signs that loss rates from shrink might soon plateau.

    The National Retail Federation (NRF), which represents retailers across the country, reported Tuesday the average shrink rate in fiscal year 2022 increased to 1.6%, up from 1.4% the year before that. Shrink, which theft primarily drives, represented $112.1 billion in losses for the industry in 2022, according to the NRF.

    Last year, the NRF, with support from retailers like Target and Best Buy, successfully advocated for Congress to pass the INFORM Consumers Act, which requires online marketplaces to verify the identity of high-volume, third-party sellers. That could help prevent larger criminal enterprises from selling stolen items online.

    The stores that will close include:

    517 E. 117th St., New York, N.Y.

    4535 University Way N.E., Seattle, Wash.

    1448 N.W. Market St., Seattle, Wash.

    1690 Folsom St., San Francisco, Calif.

    2650 Broadway, Oakland, Calif.

    4301 Century Blvd., Pittsburg, Calif.

    939 S.W. Morrison St., Portland, Ore.

    3031 S.E. Powell Blvd., Portland, Ore.

    4030 N.E. Halsey St., Portland, Ore.

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    White House’s Secret Mission: Don’t Let Biden Trip

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    President Biden and his campaign are working on a critical project for his re-election bid: Make sure he doesn’t trip, Axios reported.

    As voters express deep concerns about the 80-year-old president’s age and fitness for office, Biden’s team is taking extra steps to prevent him from stumbling in public — as he did in June, when he tripped over a sandbag at the Air Force Academy.

    With a physical therapist, Biden has been doing exercises to improve his balance as far back as November 2021.

    Since his stumble in June, he has been wearing tennis shoes more often to avoid slipping — and using the short stairs on Air Force One, entering the plane on a lower deck than before.

    Democrats, including some in the administration, are terrified that Biden will have a bad fall — with a nightmare scenario of it happening in the weeks before the November 2024 election.

    Some senior Democrats privately have been frustrated with Biden’s advance team for months, citing the sandbag incident and noting that the president often appears not to know which direction to go after he speaks at a podium.

    Biden’s balance difficulties are likely the result of what his physician has diagnosed as “a combination of significant spinal arthritis” and “mild post-fracture foot arthritis.”

    Biden works out many mornings with physical therapist Drew Contreras, who also worked with former President Obama.

    Biden’s doctor has recommended exercises for balance, which he called “proprioceptive maintenance maneuvers.”

    What the maneuvers entail is unclear.

    “I have never heard the term ‘proprioceptive maintenance maneuvers.’ It is not a clinical term in standard use,” said Professor James Gordon, associate dean and chair of the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy at the University of Southern California.

    Recent polls have shown Biden’s age is among voters’ chief concerns about him. Voters also have significant age concerns about former President Trump — the likely GOP nominee.

    Three-fourths of Americans see Biden as too old for office, according to an AP-NORC poll last month. About half also saw Trump, 77, as too old.

    Biden’s team is betting that any mockery he receives over using the shorter Air Force One steps and wearing tennis shoes will be worth it to avoid another public stumble.

    The Biden campaign’s calculus is similar to its efforts in 2020 to prevent him from getting COVID, even as those steps — such as strict limits on in-person campaigning— led to memes mocking Biden’s “basement campaign.”

    Some Democrats worry about Biden having an accident like Republican Bob Dole did in September 1996, when he accidentally fell off a stage at a rally weeks before the election.

    Democrats already had been knocking Dole, then 73, about his age — comparing him to the more energetic Bill Clinton, who at 50 was seeking his second term as president.

    The video of Dole’s fall, and a photograph of him grimacing in pain afterward, were widely republished and played.

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    Hunter Biden Sues Rudy Giuliani Over Laptop

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    Hunter Biden filed a civil lawsuit Tuesday against Rudy Giuliani and his former attorney, claiming they caused “total annihilation” of his digital privacy and violated federal and state computer privacy laws through their alleged efforts to hack his devices.

    In the lawsuit filed in federal court in California, Hunter Biden accuses Giuliani and Robert Costello of spending years “hacking into, tampering with, manipulating, copying, disseminating, and generally obsessing over data that they were given that was taken or stolen from” his devices.

    “Plaintiff has demanded Defendants Giuliani and Costello cease their unlawful activities with respect to Plaintiff’s data and return any data in their possession belonging to Plaintiff, but they have refused to do so,” attorneys for Hunter Biden wrote in the lawsuit. “Defendants’ statements suggest that their unlawful hacking activities are ongoing today and that, unless stopped, will continue into the future, thereby necessitating this action.”

    Tuesday’s lawsuit is the latest that Hunter Biden has brought as he pursues an aggressive legal strategy against his detractors. It comes as Republicans launch an impeachment inquiry into his father, President Joe Biden, that’s also examining Hunter Biden’s business dealings.

    “Everyone involved in stealing and manipulating Hunter’s data should be hearing footsteps right about now,” a source on Hunter’s legal team told CNN.

    An adviser to Giuliani denied allegations that the former New York mayor “manipulated” an electronic device belonging to the president’s son.

    “Hunter Biden has previously refused to admit ownership of the laptop,” said Ted Goodman, the adviser. “I’m not surprised he’s now falsely claiming his laptop hard drive was manipulated by Mayor Giuliani, considering the sordid material and potential evidence of crimes on that thing.”

    Earlier this month, Hunter Biden brought a similar civil suit against former Trump White House aide Garrett Ziegler, claiming that since leaving his White House post, Ziegler “has devoted most of his waking time and energy” on the effort to access devices that purportedly belonged to Hunter Biden. And last week, Hunter Biden sued the Internal Revenue Service, alleging its agents illegally released his tax information and that the agency failed to protect his private records.

    Hunter Biden’s attorneys allege in the lawsuit that the former New York mayor has “not only admitted but bragged about downloading data from Plaintiff’s ‘laptop’ (even though he only had a hard drive) onto his own computer; about using his own computer to access, tamper with and manipulate the downloaded data; and about maintaining multiple copies of the data for his and Defendant Costello’s personal use.”

    As an example, they pointed to an episode of Giuliani’s podcast ‘America’s Mayor Live’ in February 2023. According to the lawsuit, in a video of the podcast, Giuliani “held up a laptop computer on camera and announced: ‘This belongs to Hunter Biden.’”

    “He proceeded to brag about having copied Plaintiff’s data onto his own computer and about having accessed, analyzed and manipulated the transferred data,” the lawsuit states.

    The suit accuses Giuliani and Costello of breaking both federal and California state computer privacy laws and asks for a jury trial in the matter.

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