Mar-a-Lago Case Turns Hot. Jack Smith Filing Threatens Judge Cannon with Appeal.
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Special counsel Jack Smith strongly criticized a recent order by the judge presiding over the case of former President Donald Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents, saying that her request for jury instructions from his office and Trump’s lawyers is based on a “fundamentally flawed legal premise.”

In a court filing Tuesday, Smith argued that the legal premise behind Judge Aileen Cannon’s request is “wrong” and that it would “distort” the trial, potentially leading to a directed verdict in Trump’s favor. The special counsel urged Cannon to “promptly” decide whether the legal premise in question represents a “correct formulation of the law,” and indicated that federal prosecutors would appeal if the judge rules against them.

Cannon last month directed Trump and the special counsel to submit jury instructions framed with two competing scenarios concerning the Presidential Records Act as it relates to the charges brought against Trump under the Espionage Act accusing him of mishandling of classified documents.

The first scenario Cannon outlined allows the jury to review records and determine which documents Trump retained are “personal” or “presidential” under the Presidential Records Act. In the second scenario, Cannon instructed lawyers to draft instructions based on the assumption that presidents have the “sole authority” under that act to lawfully retain documents at the end of their term by declaring them as “personal” or “presidential” records, aligning with Trump’s defense in the case.

“Both scenarios rest on an unstated and fundamentally flawed legal premise — namely, that the Presidential Records Act (‘PRA’), and in particular its distinction between ‘personal’ and ‘Presidential’ records determines whether a former President is ‘authorized,’ under the Espionage Act to possess highly classified documents and store them in an unsecure facility,” Smith’s team wrote in the filing.

The Presidential Records Act requires the return of presidential records at the end of a president’s term, but says they can keep their personal records, which is described as documents containing “highly personal information, such as diaries, journals, and medical records.”

In a Tuesday filing responding to Cannon’s order, Trump’s lawyers maintained that the Presidential Records Act gives Trump the authority to decide whether a record is personal or presidential, that all of the records found in his possession could be considered personal despite classification markings, and that that Trump’s determination that they’re personal records can’t be second-guessed by the courts.

One of their proposed jury instructions was for the judge to tell jurors “if President Trump designated a document as a ‘personal record’ under the Presidential Records Act, then the classification status of that document, if any, is not relevant to your evaluation of whether the government has met its burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the document you are considering is a ‘Presidential record.’”

Smith’s office said such an instruction would be a grievous mistake and characterized Trump’s defense using the Presidential Records Act as pure fiction.

“Trump’s entire effort to rely on the PRA is not based on any facts,” prosecutors said. “It is a post hoc justification that was concocted more than a year after he left the White House, and his invocation in this Court of the PRA is not grounded in any decision he actually made during his presidency to designate as personal any of the records charged.”

“During its exhaustive investigation, the Government interviewed Trump’s own PRA representatives and numerous high-ranking officials from the White House — Chiefs of Staff, White House Counsel and senior members of the White House Counsel’s Office, a National Security Advisor, and senior members of the National Security Council,” they wrote. “Not a single one had heard Trump say that he was designating records as personal or that, at the time he caused the transfer of boxes to Mar-a-Lago, he believed that his removal of records amounted to designating them as personal under the PRA. To the contrary, every witness who was asked this question had never heard such a thing,” and Trump and his attorneys repeatedly referred to the documents he had possessed as “presidential records” well after he left the White House.

Trump’s lawyers, meanwhile, said in their proposed instructions to the jury that to find Trump had “knowingly” taken control of classified documents, the government would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did so “voluntarily and intentionally and not because of a mistake or by accident.”

“Medical science has not yet devised an instrument which can record what was in one’s mind in the distant past,” the proposed instructions read. “Rarely is direct proof available to establish the state of one’s mind. State of mind may be inferred from what a person says or does: his words, his actions, and his conduct, as of the time of the occurrence of certain events. The intent with which an act is done is often more clearly and conclusively shown by the act itself, or by a series of acts, than by words or explanations of the act uttered long after the occurrence.”

Trump faces multiple charges in the classified documents case, including willful retention of national defense information, false statements and representations, conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record and corruptly concealing a document.

The former president has pleaded not guilty to all counts. His co-defendants in the case, Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, have also pleaded not guilty to related charges. Trump in February moved to dismiss the classified documents indictment in Florida, arguing that on the basis of presidential immunity he cannot be prosecuted.

Cannon last month denied Trump’s motion to dismiss the case as constitutionally vague and expressed skepticism over his lawyers’ argument for tossing out the case based on the Presidential Records Act.

Read 37 Comments
  • Richard Young says:

    Jack Smith a Special Prosecutor who is unauthorized by Federal Law to be a Special Prosecutor, who flew Virginia Citizens into Florida for a Grand Jury which is illegal, who objects to the Jury being told about the Presidential Records Act but only wants the Jury to hear the Espionage Law, now threatening to appeal to the Circuit Court Directly to remove a Federal Judge without 1st making the motion to the Judge as required by Federal Law? How many laws can Jack Smith break in one case??

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    Sydney Rocked by Second Stabbing in Days as Priest and Worshippers Targeted at Church



    The moment worshippers pinned down the man accused of stabbing a bishop in the middle of a church sermon in Sydney has been captured on video.

    Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was preaching at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley in Sydney’s west on Monday just after 7pm when a man dressed in a dark hoodie walked up to the altar and stabbed him multiple times.

    Horrifying footage of the incident, which was being broadcast live on the church’s YouTube page, shows Bishop Emmanuel look up in astonishment as the attacker suddenly rains down blows on his face and head.

    Father Isaac Royel was also among those injured in the chaos.

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    Footage immediately after the attack has emerged of the alleged attacker being pinned down on his front by at least three people, including a police officer, as he smiles and appears to mock his captors.

    One man, with blood visible on his jeans, sits with his legs straddling the alleged attacker’s head.

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    The police officer injects: ‘Stop, just let go, please. You’re going to make it worse.’

    But then the man holding the camera pulls the other man’s leg away to reveal the alleged attacker’s face.

    He is smiling and appears to laugh as the man holding the camera says ‘you’re a f***ing idiot, you’re going to cop it’.

    The alleged attacker then appears to say: ‘You think they’ll hurt my brother?’ as the police officers try to usher the men away.

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    ‘We ask for your prayers at this time,’ a spokesman said,

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    Outside the church, groups of police officers, completely outnumbered, huddled together as bottles and bricks were hurled at them

    Some in the crowd cheered as car windows were smashed.

    Footage on social media appeared to show a ladder being used to smash down a window of the church.

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    Trump Criminal Trial Begins: Everything You Need to Know



    Donald Trump said he is facing “persecution” as he walked into the courtroom for the start of his hush money trial in New York, the first criminal trial for a former president.

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    Israel: No Choice But to Retaliate Against Iran



    Israel’s response to Iran’s weekend missile attack could come as soon as today as the nation’s war cabinet convened to hammer out the timing and scope of the impending counterstrike, according to a report.

    On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned his US counterpart, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, that the Jewish state has “no choice” but to retaliate against the rogue Islamic Republic after it launched hundreds of missiles and suicide drones into Israeli airspace Saturday night, according to Axios correspondent Barak Ravid.

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    Meet NPR’s New CEO Katherine Maher



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    FBI Opens Criminal Investigation Into Baltimore Bridge Collapse



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    The FBI was aboard the cargo ship Dali conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity, the agency said in a statement Monday. It didn’t elaborate and said it wouldn’t comment further on the investigation, which was first reported by The Washington Post.

    Meanwhile, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott on Monday announced a partnership with two law firms to “launch legal action to hold the wrongdoers responsible” and mitigate harm to city residents.

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    The Supreme Court May Throw Out Hundreds of Jan. 6 Convictions



    More than three years after the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, the Department of Justice is continuing to pursue those who participated through hundreds of aggressive prosecutions. That includes Donald Trump, whose political future and personal freedom may depend on whether a jury believes he is to blame for the violence. But the intensity of the Biden DOJ’s crackdown on Jan. 6 offenders has stirred controversy, drawn scrutiny from the Supreme Court in Fischer v. United States, and become a central focus of Trump’s third presidential campaign. In this series, Riot revisited: Jan. 6, Justice, and Capitol Consequences, the Washington Examiner will look at the legal weaknesses in the DOJ’s efforts to punish Jan. 6 rioters and the future of those cases should Trump reclaim the White House.

    More than 1,265 defendants have been charged by the Department of Justice under President Joe Biden in relation to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Hundreds of them may have been wrongly charged with a felony.

    The Supreme Court is preparing to weigh oral arguments on Tuesday in Fischer v. United States, a dispute that could drastically alter the indictments against possibly hundreds of defendants, including former President Donald Trump. The namesake of the case is Joseph Fischer, a former Pennsylvania police officer who was charged for his alleged participation in violence on the day of the riot.

    Fischer was arrested on Feb. 19, 2021, and charged with assaulting a police officer, disorderly conduct within the Capitol, and obstruction of a congressional proceeding, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2), which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison and makes it a crime to “otherwise obstruct[], influence[], or impede[] any official proceeding.” The Justice Department used the obstruction of an official proceeding charge in hundreds of other cases, but Fischer’s lawyers will argue to the Supreme Court this week that the statute has no relevance to the riot.

    Prosecutors say Fischer sent text messages before the Jan. 6 riot, including a text that said his former police chief may need “to post my bail” because the protest “might get violent.” At one point amid the riot, the former officer called on those around him to “hold the line” as he was part of a crowd that pushed against U.S. Capitol Police officers, according to his criminal affidavit.

    The former police officer, who contends he was only inside the Capitol for a few minutes after he was pushed into the police line by the crowd, is asking the justices to throw out the obstruction charge but not the two other charges he faces. The core of his argument is that the law was only intended to apply to evidence tampering and that applying it to protesters who went into the Capitol was an unfair interpretation of the statute.

    More than 300 other defendants from that day of protest and rioting have been charged with violating the obstruction law, which was enacted in 2002 as part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in the wake of the Enron scandal. The provision was intended to punish the destruction of documents in the scandal surrounding Enron after auditor Arthur Andersen was accused of destroying possibly incriminating records. The federal law is also at the center of two chargea brought in special counsel Jack Smith’s 2020 election subversion indictment against Trump, for which the justices will hear argument on April 25 regarding Trump’s claims of presidential immunity.

    The eventual rulings in both Supreme Court cases, expected by the end of June, will shape the future for hundreds of Jan. 6 defendants as well as Trump’s federal criminal cases.

    Back in February, the group America First Legal filed a brief at the Supreme Court on behalf of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), and 21 other members of Congress in support of Fischer, saying the defendant was subjected to a “weaponized criminal prosecution” while accusing the Biden administration of a double standard when the DOJ handed down no indictment against Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), who was caught on video pulling a fire alarm on Sept. 30 during a vote on the House floor.

    Frederick Ulrich, a federal public defender who represented Fischer after the government appealed the lower court decision to toss the obstruction charge, told the Washington Examiner he was convinced the Supreme Court would seek to reexamine the breadth of the obstruction statute after a federal appeals court issued a “fractured” decision on his client’s case.

    “Because it affected so many of these prosecutions and because the application of the statute in that context was unusual and unprecedented, we thought it had a shot of being [granted for review] regardless of the fact that later on, the Justice Department charged a former president with similar offenses,” Ulrich said.

    Here is what you need to know as the justices prepare to hear the case.

    How did this case arrive before the Supreme Court?

    U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, an appointee of Trump, dismissed the obstruction charge against Fischer on March 15, 2022. Nichols found that the previous subsection, § 1512(c)(1), which prohibits tampering with evidence “with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding,” limits § 1512(c)(2) to cases involving evidence tampering that obstructs an official proceeding.

    The government appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The appeals court reversed the decision in an opinion by a three-judge panel written by Judge Florence Pan, an appointee of President Joe Biden who succeeded Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson after she was elevated to the Supreme Court by Biden.

    Pan agreed with the defendant’s viewpoint that “outside of the January 6 cases brought in this jurisdiction, there is no precedent for using” § 1512(c)(2) “to prosecute the type of conduct at issue in this case.” But she clarified that the meaning of the statute is “unambiguous,” stating that it clearly “applies to all forms of corrupt obstruction of an official proceeding.”

    Pan contended that Supreme Court precedent states that even if a statute can be applied in situations not clearly anticipated by Congress, it does not demonstrate ambiguity but rather “demonstrates breadth.”

    Judge Gregory Katsas, a Trump appointee on the panel with Pan, argued in a dissent to Pan’s majority decision that the DOJ’s interpretation of the law was likely “improbably broad and unconstitutional in many of its applications.”

    After losing at the District of Columbia Circuit, Fischer appealed to the highest court, and the justices agreed to hear the case.

    How will justices rule in the case of Fischer?

    Ulrich said the Supreme Court’s options for deciding the Fischer case are based on the range of divergent viewpoints that have been expressed by judges so far in lower court proceedings.

    “It could adopt Judge Nichols’s very narrow view of the statute, which confined it pretty much to document destruction or something akin to it, or it could be closer to Judge Katsas’s view that it reaches beyond documents … like involving testimony … or they could adopt Pan’s view that it reaches anything from an official proceeding,” Ulrich said.

    Bill Shipley, a defense attorney who has represented more than 50 clients involved in the Jan. 6 protest, told the Washington Examiner he believes the justices’ agreement to consider the breadth of the obstruction statute may signal their belief that the DOJ has gone overboard by using it against defendants.

    “There was no reason for the court to take this case if it thought that the outcomes were appropriate. It generally only takes criminal cases for the purposes of reversal,” Shipley said.

    The Supreme Court’s prior case examining the Sarbanes-Oxley Act also supports the idea of a more limited application of the obstruction statute, according to Fischer. He contends that the listing of specific acts of tampering in the language of § 1512(c)(1) — altering, destroying, mutilating, or concealing — limits the scope of § 1512(c)(2) on obstruction because the use of the word “otherwise” in § 1512(c)(2) suggests the acts that fall under the second subsection of the law must be related to those in the first.

    Shipley explained the dichotomy the justices will be analyzing: Does “otherwise” mean “other actions of the same type of kind, or does [it] mean anything that corruptly” impedes an official proceeding?

    Justice Department Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar contends that § 1512(c)(2) is not limited to conduct involving the availability of evidence but is instead a “catchall offense designed to ensure complete coverage of all forms of corrupt obstruction of an official proceeding,” according to a brief filed at the high court.

    In Prelogar’s understanding of the obstruction statute, words such as “impede” or “obstruct” are intentionally broad terms that can cover a wide range of conduct that hinders official proceedings.

    And while the DOJ has acknowledged that § 1512(c) was enacted in direct response to the Enron scandal, it contends Congress created § 1512(c)(1) to preclude legal gaps exposed by the scandal and further argues that § 1512(c)(2) was written to address the risk that “corrupt obstruction could occur in unanticipated ways not prohibited by statutes targeted at specific forms of obstruction.”

    What are the implications for Trump and other defendants?

    More than 327 defendants have been charged with violating the obstruction statute, and more than 50 have pleaded guilty to the count, according to a Washington Examiner review of court records.

    Trump has been charged with two counts under the same law, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and obstruction of an official proceeding, in Smith’s 2020 election subversion case. He has pleaded not guilty to both of these counts, along with two others that arose from his actions in the weeks following the 2020 election.

    Ulrich said he believes that if the justices find the obstruction law was overly broad as applied to Fischer, the court will likely remand the case back to the trial court with an accompanying opinion outlining the breadth of § 1512(c)(2).

    Notably, the federal public defender said he thinks the more than 50 defendants who have already pleaded guilty to the obstruction count could be “out of luck.”

    “Not unless they pled conditionally,” Ulrich said of whether those defendants could benefit from the Supreme Court’s decision.

    For defendants who have already been “tried, convicted and sentenced or pled and did not raise this issue,” Ulrich said they may find it difficult to have their sentences retroactively altered. But he noted for defendants who do have guilty pleas on the record, there is a so-called collateral challenge mechanism they could use if the high court narrows the breadth of § 1512(c)(2).

    Meanwhile, Smith has sought to pour cold water on the notion that Trump could shake off two charges against him in his Washington, D.C., federal criminal case, one of two indictments the special counsel has levied against him as he fights two other state-level indictments amid the 2024 presidential campaign.

    In his latest Supreme Court filing arguing against Trump’s claim that he can avoid a trial entirely by invoking “presidential immunity,” Smith argued that even if the justices narrowed the breadth of the obstruction statute in Fischer, the statute as applied to Trump would remain “valid.”

    “Whether the Court interprets [that provision] consistently with a natural reading of its text or adopts the evidence-impairment gloss urged by the petitioner in Fischer, the Section 1512 charges in this case are valid,” Smith wrote.

    Even if Trump managed to shake off two charges he faces in the indictment, he would still be on the hook for the other two charges, including conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy against rights to have votes properly counted.

    Trump more broadly has sought to delay his federal criminal trials at every turn, as he could call on the DOJ to end its prosecution of him if he defeats Biden in the election. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all 88 felony counts he faces across four separate indictments.

    Nearly one week after the arguments in the Fischer case, the nine justices will reconvene on April 25 to weigh whether Trump enjoys broad immunity that shields him from Smith’s indictment, another case that will determine the potency of Smith’s case against the former president.

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    Tesla Lays Off More Than 10% of Workforce: Read the Elon Musk Memo



    Tesla will lay off more than 10% of its global workforce, according to a memo sent to employees by CEO Elon Musk.

    The company’s shares were down 3% on Monday morning.

    “As we prepare the company for our next phase of growth, it is extremely important to look at every aspect of the company for cost reductions and increasing productivity,” Musk said in the memo obtained by CNBC.

    “As part of this effort, we have done a thorough review of the organization and made the difficult decision to reduce our headcount by more than 10% globally,” the memo said.

    The memo was first reported by Electrek.

    Tesla had 140,473 employees as of December 2023.

    Tesla shares have taken a bruising in recent months, falling 31% year to date. While electric vehicle sales are still gaining popularity worldwide, their sales growth rate has slowed especially for Tesla. The company now faces more competition than ever.

    To end 2023, China’s BYD temporarily dethroned Tesla as the world’s top EV maker. Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi in March said it would sell its first electric car for far less than Tesla’s Model 3.

    Musk has previously recognized that China, home to a large Tesla factory, may also house the company’s strongest competition. “There’s a lot of people who are out there who think that the top 10 car companies are going to be Tesla followed by nine Chinese car companies. I think they might not be wrong,” Musk said in November.

    Some would-be Tesla customers are now skipping the brand owing to Musk’s incendiary rhetoric

    Earlier this month, Tesla reported its first annual decline in vehicle deliveries since 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted production extraneous of demand — first-quarter deliveries fell by 8.5% on the year to 386,810 in the first quarter, with output down 1.7% from a year earlier and 12.5% sequentially despite discounts and incentives offered to customers throughout the quarter.

    More recently, Tesla trimmed the subscription price of its premium driver assistance system, marketed as its Full Self-Driving or FSD option, for U.S. customers. The move was sharply at odds with Musk’s previous pledges that the FSD fee would only bulk up as Tesla added features and functionality to the system. Despite the brand name, the system does not make Tesla vehicles self-driving and requires a driver attentive to the road, ready to steer or brake at any time.

    But the squeeze on the company’s operating margin — which came in at 8.2% in the fourth quarter, down from 16% a year earlier — remains, and Tesla has warned investors to brace that vehicle volume growth this year “may be notably lower” than the rate logged in 2023, saying it is “currently between two major growth waves.”

    Logistical challenges exacerbated Tesla’s problems this year. The company’s component supply was a casualty of disruptions caused by Yemeni Houthi maritime attacks in the Red Sea, while the automaker’s gigafactory near Berlin was forced to briefly suspend production due to suspected arson at a nearby electricity substation.

    Tesla is scheduled to report first-quarter financial results on April 23.

    Here’s the full memo from Musk (transcribed by CNBC):

    Over the years, we have grown rapidly with multiple factories scaling around the globe. With this rapid growth there has been duplication of roles and job functions in certain areas. As we prepare the company for our next phase of growth, it is extremely important to look at every aspect of the company for cost reductions and increasing productivity.

    As part of this effort, we have done a thorough review of the organization and made the difficult decision to reduce our headcount by more than 10% globally. There is nothing I hate more, but it must be done. This will enable us to be lean, innovative and hungry for the next growth phase cycle.

    I would like to thank everyone who is departing Tesla for their hard work over the years. I’m deeply grateful for your many contributions to our mission and we wish you well in your future opportunities. It is very difficult to say goodbye.

    For those remaining, I would like to thank you in advance for the difficult job that remains ahead. We are developing some of the most revolutionary technologies in auto, energy and artificial intelligence. As we prepare the company for the next phase of growth, your resolve will make a huge difference in getting us there.


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    Gun Supervisor for “Rust” Movie to Be Sentenced



    A movie weapons supervisor is facing up to 18 months in prison for the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin on the set of the Western film “Rust,” with her sentencing scheduled for Monday in a New Mexico state court.

    Movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was convicted in March by a jury on a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and has been held for more than a month at a county jail on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

    Baldwin, the lead actor and co-producer for “Rust,” was pointing a gun at Hutchins when the revolver went off, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

    Baldwin has pleaded not guilty to an involuntary manslaughter charge and says he pulled back the gun’s hammer, but not the trigger, before the gun went off. His trial is scheduled for July before the same judge, Mary Marlowe Sommer, who oversaw the trail of Gutierrez-Reed.

    Gutierrez-Reed could also receive a $5,000 fine.

    Prosecutors blamed Gutierrez-Reed for unwittingly bringing live ammunition onto the set of “Rust” where it was expressly prohibited and for failing to follow basic gun safety protocols. After a two-week trial, the jury deliberated for about three hours in reaching its verdict.

    Defense attorneys for Gutierrez-Reed requested leniency in sentencing — including a possible conditional discharge that would avoid further jail time and leave an adjudication of guilt off her record if certain conditions are met.

    Gutierrez-Reed was acquitted at trial of allegations she tampered with evidence in the “Rust” investigation. She also has pleaded not guilty to a separate felony charge that she allegedly carried a gun into a bar in Santa Fe where firearms are prohibited.

    Defense attorneys have highlighted Gutierrez-Reed’s relatively young age “and the devastating effect a felony will have on her life going forward.”

    They say the 26-year-old will forever be affected negatively by intense publicity associated with her prosecution in parallel with an A-list actor, and has suffered from anxiety, fear and depression as a result.

    Special prosecutor Kari Morrissey urged the judge to impose the maximum prison sentence and designate Gutierrez-Reed as a “serious violent offender” to limit her eligibility for a sentence reduction later, describing the defendant’s behavior on the set of “Rust” as exceptionally reckless. She said Gutierrez-Reed has shown a lack of remorse, citing comments by Gutierrez-Reed in phone calls from jail that are monitored by authorities.

    “Rust” assistant director and safety coordinator Dave Halls last year pleaded no contest to negligent handling of a firearm and completed a sentence of six months unsupervised probation. “Rust” props master Sarah Zachry, who shared some responsibilities over firearms on the set of “Rust,” signed an agreement with prosecutors to avoid prosecution in return with her cooperation.

    Written testimonials in favor of leniency included letters from Gutierrez-Reed’s childhood friend and romantic partner Sean Kridelbaugh, who said Gutierrez-Reed cries constantly out of remorse in the shooting and that further incarceration would interfere with efforts to care for a relative with cancer. Other friends and former colleagues urged the judge to emphasize rehabilitation over punishment in the sentencing.

    The pending firearms charge against Gutierrez-Reed stems from an incident at a bar in downtown Santa Fe, days before she was hired to work as the armorer on “Rust.” Prosecutors says investigations into the fatal shooting led to discovery of a selfie video in which Gutierrez-Reed filmed herself carrying a firearm into the bar, while defense attorneys allege vindictive prosecution.

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    Reuters: Biden Conveyed to Iran That It’s Attack on Israel Had to Be “Within Certain Limits”



    Iran informed Turkey in advance of its planned operation against Israel, a Turkish diplomatic source told Reuters on Sunday, adding that Washington had conveyed to Tehran via Ankara that any action it took had to be “within certain limits.”

    Turkey, which has denounced Israel for its campaign on Gaza, said earlier on Sunday that it did not want a further escalation of tensions in the region.

    The Turkish source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan had spoken to both his US and Iranian counterparts in the past week to discuss the planned Iranian operation, adding Ankara had been made aware of possible developments.

    Middle East de-escalation efforts

    Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Fidan to make clear that escalation in the Middle East was not in anyone’s interest.

    “Iran informed us in advance of what would happen. Possible developments also came up during the meeting with Blinken, and they (the US) conveyed to Iran through us that this reaction must be within certain limits,” the source said.

    “In response, Iran said the reaction would be a response to Israel’s attack on its embassy in Damascus and that it would not go beyond this.”

    Iran, which neighbours Turkey, had vowed retaliation for what it called an alleged Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate on April 1 that killed seven officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

    Turkey’s foreign ministry later confirmed the contacts in a statement, saying Ankara had called for restraint and warned of a regional war if tensions escalated further.

    It said Ankara would continue efforts to prevent further conflict and escalation in the region.

    A Turkish security source said CIA chief William Burns had spoken to Ibrahim Kalin, head of Turkey’s MIT intelligence agency, over the Eid al-Fitr holidays and asked him to act as a “mediator” in the Israel-Iran tensions.

    The two discussed ceasefire efforts in Gaza as well, the source said, without elaborating.

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    Police Seize Illegal Handgun from E. Jean Carroll



    Police in New York took possession of a gun belonging to writer E. Jean Carroll in February after she said during testimony in her defamation lawsuit against former President Donald Trump that she had an unlicensed firearm at home, according to a police report obtained by NBC News.

    The chief of police in Warwick, New York, visited Carroll at her home on Feb. 15 “to discuss some open issues,” the report states, including Carroll’s disclosure of the handgun while she was on the witness stand Jan. 17.

    During the second day of the civil trial, Carroll had told the federal court in lower Manhattan that she kept a “high standard revolver, nine chambers” at home with ammunition. “By my bed,” she said.

    “I still do not have a license,” Carroll added.

    John Rader, the reporting officer, said in his report that he “offered to secure the weapon at the police station’s property for safekeeping.”

    Carroll and a member of her security team surrendered the gun a day after Rader visited, and the firearm was being held until Carroll receives a New York pistol license, the report said.

    Under New York state law, a person can be found guilty of criminal possession if they possess a firearm, such as a pistol, that has not been registered. The felony carries a maximum sentence of four years.

    It was unclear why police waited almost a month to inquire in person about the unregistered gun Carroll said she had at her house or whether police are still in possession of it.

    Carroll’s gun became a contentious topic under cross-examination in the January hearing, as Trump attorney Alina Habba pressed Carroll on her gun ownership and whether she knew she needed a license for it.

    The judge presiding over the case, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, appeared outwardly frustrated over the line of questioning by Habba.

    “Don’t even start,” told her when she began asking Carroll about the firearm.

    The jury ordered Trump to pay Carroll $83.3 million in damages for repeatedly defaming her. The award included $11 million for damage to Carroll’s reputation, $7.3 million for emotional harm and other damages, and $65 million in punitive damages.

    Kaplan later rejected arguments by Trump’s attorneys that the case should be thrown out because Carroll deleted threatening messages, including death threats. The judge said that while Carroll admitted she deleted some of the purported death threats, the details of the deletions remain unclear.

    Trump had already been found liable for defaming Carroll while he was in the White House, with the jury tasked only with determining how much she should receive in damages.

    Trump has denied the rape and defamation claims against him, and posted a $91.6 million bond to secure the judgment while he appeals the verdict.

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    Trans High School Runner Finishes 2nd Among Girls, Would Have Finished Near the Bottom of Boys Division



    An Oregon high school came under fire on Saturday as a transgender athlete was able to compete against girls at a meet.

    Aayden Gallagher, a 10th-grader at McDaniel High School, competed in the Sherwood Need For Speed Classic in Sherwood, Oregon.

    Gallagher was seen in one clip blowing away the competition in a heat for the 200-meter.

    Gallagher clocked in with a 25.49 mark and ended up finishing in second place in that event as well as the 400 meter and in seventh place in the 4×100 replay and eighth place in the 4×400 relay.

    But Gallagher’s ability to compete in the event sparked outrage on social media.

    “Championing boys in girls sports is blatant misogyny,” the Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS) wrote on X.

    Gallagher clocked in with a 25.49 mark and ended up finishing in second place in that event as well as the 400 meter and in seventh place in the 4×100 replay and eighth place in the 4×400 relay.

    But Gallagher’s ability to compete in the event sparked outrage on social media.

    “Championing boys in girls sports is blatant misogyny,” the Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS) wrote on X.



    “Abuse of girls…by the gov’t,” Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton wrote.

    “Another proud moment for ‘women’s’ sports!” OutKick founder Claty Travis wrote.

    Libs of TikTok added: “These high school girls just had their dream stolen from them because the school is catering the delusions of a boy who pretends to be a girl. . . . He is a cheater.”

    The Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) has a policy for transgender participation in high school sports.

    “The OSAA endeavors to allow students to participate for the athletic or activity program of their consistently asserted gender identity while providing a fair and safe environment for all students,” the policy stated.

    “As with Rule 8.2 regarding Duration of Eligibility / Graduation, rules such as this one promote harmony and fair competition among member schools by maintaining equality of eligibility and increase the number of students who will have an opportunity to participate in interscholastic activities.”

    Additionally, the OSAA rules state that “once a transgender student has notified the student’s school of their gender identity, the student shall be consistently treated as that gender for purposes of eligibility for athletics and activities, provided that if the student has tried out or participated in an activity, the student may not participate during that same season on a team of the other gender.”

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    John Bolton: Israel Should Annihilate the Iranian Nuclear Program



    In a candid Sunday interview with CNN, former US National Security Advisor John Bolton expressed strong views on how Israel should respond to Iran’s threats.

    He urged Israel to consider the current geopolitical tension as a crucial moment to target and dismantle Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

    “I think Israel has a wide range of potential targets starting by flattening Iran’s air defense capabilities,” Bolton asserted, emphasizing the existential threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions to Israel’s national security.

    Bolton articulated that the primary focus for Israel should be crippling Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

    “Most importantly, I think Israel should be looking at this as an opportunity to destroy Iran’s nuclear weapons program, which is the existential threat that Israel faces,” he explained.

    The former advisor’s stance sheds light on the increasing skepticism about the effectiveness of ongoing diplomatic negotiations with Iran.

    Bolton’s call for a decisive military strategy highlights a critical division in international policy circles regarding the best approach to ensure stability and security in the Middle East.

    Opportunity in light of Iranian retaliation

    Iran launched a significant missile and drone attack against Israel on Sunday, with hundreds of drones and missiles reportedly originating from Iran and other regional sources.

    Despite the extensive attack, the Iron Dome and other Israeli defense systems effectively intercepted most threats, with limited damage reported. A young girl was seriously injured in one of the attacks, underscoring the human impact amidst the strategic defenses.

    John Bolton, an American attorney and diplomat, served as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 2005 to 2006 and as National Security Advisor from 2018 to 2019 under President Donald Trump, advocating strongly against the Iran nuclear deal.

    Known for his hawkish foreign policy views, Bolton has supported military action and regime change in several countries and has held various significant roles in the US government, including positions under Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and as a commentator for Fox News.

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    Caitlin Clark Roasts Woke Comedian on “SNL” During Surprise Appearance



    Iowa Hawkeyes great Caitlin Clark made a surprise appearance on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend as she got ready to hear her name called that the WNBA Draft.

    Clark appeared on the “Weekend Update” segment and chided Michael Che over his jokes about women’s sports and the WNBA. In the skit, Clark told Che she “wrote some jokes” for him and asked him to read them aloud.

    “The Indiana Fever have the first pick in this Monday’s draft,” he started.

    “A reminder that Indiana Fever is a WNBA team and not what Michael Che gave to dozens of women at Purdue University.”

    Clark smiled and said, “Now that’s a good joke about women’s sports.”


    One of Clark’s “jokes” poked fun at Che’s Netflix special and urged him to be funnier.

    “This year, Caitlin Clark broke the record for three-pointers in a single season, and I have three pointers for Michael Che. 1 – Be, 2 – Funnier, 3 – Dumba–.”

    Once the jokes were over, Clark said she was looking forward to the start of her WNBA career and thanked legends like Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, Cynthia Cooper, Dawn Staley and Maya Moore for helping pave the path for her to get to professional basketball.

    She ended the segment by giving Che an apron she signed.

    The Fever were expected to take Clark with the No. 1 pick in the draft. Clark set the all-time NCAA Division 1 basketball scoring record this year. Iowa fell short in the national championship to Staley’s South Carolina Gamecocks.

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    81-Year-Old Veteran Sucker-Punched and Carjacked While Delivering Pizzas in Chicago



    An elderly man who has delivered pizza in Chicago for 40 years was punched in the face and robbed before having his car stolen in a brazen carjacking on the city’s Northwest Side.

    Ernie Aimone, 81, explained how the sudden attack came after he had made a delivery in the Jefferson Park neighborhood.

    A man approached from behind before striking Aimone in the head, causing him to fall to the ground.

    The assailant demanded his car keys and then punched Aimone in the face, leaving him fearing for his life.

    Aimone, a retired Army vet Sergeant who fought in Vietnam, chose not to put up a fight and instead remained on the ground as the attackers fled in his car.

    ‘They said, ‘gimme the keys, gimme the keys,” Aimone said to ABC7 ‘And they sucker punched me from behind, hit me in the face. I was afraid for my life.’

    Chicago Police confirmed the incident occurred around 9pm on Wednesday on North Ludlam Avenue.

    State police later found his car, a 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe, but it had sustained significant damage after being involved in a crash.

    One teenage suspect has been apprehended, while the others remain at large.

    Aimone has been a dedicated pizza delivery driver for Joe’s on Higgins for four decades and is said to be loved by both his coworkers and customers.

    ‘He’s like family to us,’ said Frank Demonte with Joe’s. ‘He’s seen me grow up from very young. He worked for my Dad.’

    ‘Ernie’s very special to us. Always has been,’ added Frank’s wife Gina.

    Despite the traumatic event, Aimone vows to return to work making deliveries as soon as he is able to obtain another car.

    ‘I got a daughter and a son,’ Ernie said. ‘I gotta live for them.’

    His insurance company is refusing to pay for a new car as he was carjacked while working

    A GoFundMe set up in response to the incident by the Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce has so far raised almost $27,000 towards the purchase of a new vehicle, including a $1,000 donation from the pizza joint itself.

    ‘He’s like a local legend,’ said Dan Ciolino with the Chamber. ‘He’s been loyal to Joe’s for 40 years. He served our country. He deserves our support in his time of need.’

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    Man Randomly Sucker Punches 9-Year-Old Girl in NYC Grand Central Terminal



    A nine-year-old girl became the victim of an unprovoked attack in the heart of New York City’s Grand Central Terminal.

    The assailant, identified as 30-year-old Jose Carlos Zarzuela, was apprehended following the attack that occurred in the terminal’s bustling dining area.

    According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Police Department, Zarzuela, a recently released offender with a history of similar violent behavior, approached the young girl as she was standing near her mother and punched her in the face without any warning, amNY reported.

    The impact of the assault caused the girl to suffer from pain and dizziness, necessitating her transportation to NYU Langone-Tisch Hospital. Thankfully, she is expected to recover fully from her injuries.

    MTA Communications Director Tim Minton expressed outrage over the incident to amNY, questioning the recent release of Zarzuela, who had been charged with another random attack that resulted in a broken nose for the victim.

    “It doesn’t make any sense that this guy — who recently was released after being charged with randomly punching someone else and breaking that victim’s nose — should be back in a public space where he can attack others, especially children,” Minton said.

    “The people responsible for the criminal justice system need to learn from this episode before more innocent people become victims.”

    After assaulting the girl, Zarzuela fled the scene but was later located and arrested in the evening. Surveillance footage from the terminal captured Zarzuela meandering near a Shake Shack before running onto the street post-attack.

    Zarzuela has been charged with an array of offenses, including aggravated assault of a victim under 11, second-degree assault, third-degree assault, and attempted assault. His history with the law extends to eight other arrests, as indicated by sources close to the investigation.


    This latest incident follows an assault by Zarzuela on April 4, where he attacked a 54-year-old woman at Grand Central Terminal, resulting in a broken nose. Despite being initially charged with second-degree felony assault, his charge was reduced to third-degree misdemeanor assault, and after initially setting bail at 10,000, which was reduced to 2,500, Judge Laurie Peterson ordered his release without bail days later.

    More from amNY:

    In that incident, MTA Police sources said, Zarzuela allegedly punched the victim in the face without provocation or warning, breaking her nose. MTA Police officers arrested him on the spot and booked him on a second-degree felony assault charge.

    But that charge was downgraded to a third-degree misdemeanor assault count when Zarzuela appeared in New York County Criminal Court for arraignment later that day, according to court records. Prosecutors had requested that he remain behind bars on $10,000 bail; sources said that bail had been reduced to $2,500, which Zarzuela could not make.

    However, five days later at a follow-up hearing, Judge Laurie Peterson ordered Zarzuela released from custody without bail, court records noted.

    Peterson, who had ordered former Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg to serve a five-month sentence for perjury last week in connection with the former president’s civil fraud trial, gained notoriety in 2020 when she set free an individual accused of a bloody attack on a police officer amid the George Floyd protests that summer.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    Hollywood Actor Alan Ritchson Attacks Christians Who Support “Rapist” and “Con Man” Trump



    Alan Ritchson, known for his role as the lead character in Amazon Prime Video’s action-thriller series “Reacher,” has unleashed a barrage of criticisms against President Donald Trump.

    In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the actor delivered a scathing critique against President Trump, calling him “a rapist” and “a con man.”

    The actor, a self-proclaimed Christian, expressed his bewilderment at the Christian church’s embrace of Trump, whom he views as fundamentally antithetical to Christian teachings.

    “Trump is a rapist and a con man, and yet the entire Christian church seems to treat him like he’s their poster child and it’s unreal. I don’t understand it,” Ritchson said.

    “I’m a Christian quite simply because of what Jesus calls us to do. Love other people until death. It doesn’t mean we’re all to be hung on a cross, but how can I suffer for you? That is a beautiful thing.”

    “Christians today have become the most vitriolic tribe. It is so antithetical to what Jesus was calling us to be and to do,” he added.

    “It’s worth saying that the atrocities that are happening in the church that are being actively covered up, even to this day with people not being held accountable, is repulsive,” he said, adding, “I can’t for one second support the Catholic Church while there are still cardinals, bishops and priests being passed around with known pedophilic tendencies.”

    The interview turned to a 2020 Instagram post, showing the cop-hating liberal actor wearing a t-shirt with the message “Arrest the cops who killed Breonna Taylor.”


    View this post on Instagram


    A post shared by Alan Ritchson (@alanritchson)

    Viewers of his series are now calling for a boycott.

    Former Deputy Assistant Sebastian Gorka blasted “meathead” Ritchson.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    Iran Threatens to Hit US Bases If Washington Backs Israeli Counterattack



    Top Iranian commanders warned Israel on Sunday that the country would face a bigger attack if it retaliates against overnight drone and missile strikes, adding that Washington has been told not to back any military action from its ally.

    “Our response will be much larger than tonight’s military action if Israel retaliates against Iran,” Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri told state TV, adding that Tehran warned Washington that any backing of Israeli retaliation would result in US bases being targeted.

    “If the Zionist regime (Israel) or its supporters demonstrate reckless behavior, they will receive a decisive and much stronger response,” Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi said in a statement.

    The commander of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hossein Salami, also warned that Tehran would retaliate against any Israeli attack on its interests, officials or citizens. He said Tehran had created a “new equation” in which any Israeli attack on its interests, assets, officials or citizens would be reciprocated from its own territory. Salami also said the operation was a success “beyond expectations.”

    Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said in a meeting with foreign ambassadors in Tehran on Sunday that his country had informed the US that its attacks against Israel will be “limited” and for self-defense.

    Meanwhile, the Hamas terror group, one of Iran’s proxies in the region, jumped to Tehran’s defense after the attack.

    “We in Hamas regard the military operation conducted by the Islamic Republic of Iran a natural right and a deserved response on the crime of targeting the Iranian consulate in Damascus and the assassination of several leaders of the Revolutionary Guards,” the Palestinian group said in a statement. Israel is engaged in a war, now in its seventh month, with Hamas after the Gazan terror group killed nearly 1,200 people and abducted 253 in a shock onslaught on October 7.

    Israel reported modest damage and reopened its airspace after Iran launched a large wave of around 300 attack drones and missiles in the first-ever direct attack on the Jewish state by the Islamic republic, while the United States said it would discuss a diplomatic response with major powers on Sunday.

    Tehran’s attacks late on Saturday — launched after a alleged Israeli airstrike on its embassy compound in Damascus on April 1 that killed officers of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a US-designated terror group — raised the threat of a wider regional conflict.

    Iran had previously relied on its proxies across the region to attack Israeli and US targets in a show of support for Hamas in the ongoing war in Gaza, which shows no sign of easing despite numerous mediation efforts.

    “We intercepted, we repelled, together we shall win,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on X, formerly Twitter, after the Iranian attack.

    The Israel Defense Forces said more than 99 percent of the Iranian drones and missiles had been shot down by its air force and by allied countries, and it was discussing follow-up options.

    Channel 12 TV cited an unnamed Israeli official as saying there would be a “significant response” to the attack.

    The war in Gaza has ratcheted up tensions in the region, spreading to fronts with Lebanon and Syria and drawing long-range fire at Israeli targets from as far away as Yemen and Iraq.

    Iran’s most powerful ally in the region, the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah — which has been exchanging fire with Israel since October 8 — said early on Sunday it had fired dozens of rockets at an IDF base in the north.

    Drones were also reportedly launched against Israel by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group, which has attacked shipping lanes in and around the Red Sea to show solidarity with Hamas, British maritime security company Ambrey said in a statement.

    Those clashes now threaten to devolve into a direct open conflict pitting Iran and its regional allies against Israel and its main supporter, the United States. Regional power Egypt urged “utmost restraint.”

    IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari called Iran’s actions “very grave,” saying during a televised briefing that they “push the region toward escalation.”

    The Iranian salvo caused light damage to an Israel Air Force base in the south, Hagari said.

    Iran had vowed retaliation for what it called the Israeli strike on its embassy compound that killed seven IRGC officers, including two senior commanders. Tehran said its strike was punishment for “Israeli crimes.” Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the consulate attack.

    “Should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe,” the Iranian mission to the United Nations said, warning the US to “stay away.” However, it also said Iran now “deemed the matter concluded.”

    US President Joe Biden, who spoke by phone with Netanyahu after the Iranian attack, said he would convene a meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven major economies on Sunday to coordinate a diplomatic response to what he called Tehran’s “brazen” attack.

    US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said America did not seek conflict with Iran but would not hesitate to act to protect US forces and support the defense of Israel.

    The UN Security Council was set to meet at 4 p.m. ET (2000 GMT) on Sunday after Israel requested it condemn Iran’s attack and designate the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization.

    Iran’s Fars news agency quoted a source as saying Tehran was closely watching Jordan, which might become the next target in case of any moves in support of Israel.

    Go deeper ( 4 min. read ) ➝


    Biden: US Won’t Support an Israeli Counterattack on Iran



    President Biden told Israeli Prime Minister that nothing of “value” was hit in Iran’s airborne attack Saturday and asserted American forces will not be participating in any offensive against Iran, according to a report.

    The president called Israel’s defense during the attacks a win — telling Netanyahu Israel’s ability to intercept nearly all of the hundreds of missiles and drones showed its military superiority, a US official told CNN.

    Biden also made it very clear that the US would not be engaging in any military offensive against the Islamic Republic, the senior official told the channel.

    Israeli Defense Forces said it had shot down the “vast majority” of projectiles outside of Israel’s borders. It was assisted by the US military.

    “At my direction, to support the defense of Israel, the U.S. military moved aircraft and ballistic missile defense destroyers to the region over the course of the past week,” Biden said in a statement Saturday night after his phone call with the Israeli leader, according to readout of the call released by the White House.

    “Thanks to these deployments and the extraordinary skill of our servicemembers, we helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles,” he added.

    “At my direction, to support the defense of Israel, the U.S. military moved aircraft and ballistic missile defense destroyers to the region over the course of the past week,” Biden said in a statement Saturday night after his phone call with the Israeli leader, according to readout of the call released by the White House.

    “Thanks to these deployments and the extraordinary skill of our servicemembers, we helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles,” he added.

    A handful of missiles made it through, with one striking an Israeli base, but damages were minor and no injuries were reported, according to IDF officials.

    A senior US official told CNN that the US forces intercepted more than 70 drones and at least three ballistic missiles. The missiles were shot down by two guided missile destroyers deployed in the eastern Mediterranean.

    US fighter jets also helped defend Israel from the barrage, another official told the outlet.

    Biden said he will meet with G7 leaders on Sunday “to coordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran’s brazen attack.”

    “While we have not seen attacks on our forces or facilities today, we will remain vigilant to all threats and will not hesitate to take all necessary action to protect our people,” the president said.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    Chicago Mass Shooting: 8-Year-Old Girl Killed, 10 Wounded Including Small Children



    Eleven people standing outside a family gathering Saturday night were shot including a young girl who was killed in what Chicago police believe was gang-related violence on the city’s South Side.

    Four victims were children, police said Sunday. An 8-year-old girl was fatally shot, while a 1-year-old boy and a 8-year-old boy were each shot multiple times and listed in critical condition. A 9-year-old boy was also injured with a graze wound to his finger and hospitalized.

    The department’s Sunday statement updated the number of shooting victims to 11 from 8 and gave new ages for the victims compared with a news conference late Saturday.

    No one was in custody Sunday.

    Department Deputy Chief Don Jerome told reporters Saturday that the shooting happened when shots were fired at a crowd standing outside a family gathering around 9 p.m.

    “This was not a random act of violence. It was likely gang-related,” Jerome said.

    “The offenders’ actions, make no mistake, are horrific and unacceptable in our city.”

    Police responding to a gunfire alert applied tourniquets and chest seals to victims, who also included adults between the ages of 19 and 40, Jerome said.

    A 36-year-old man who was shot in the arms and and back was listed in critical condition.

    The other adults were listed in good condition, police said Sunday.

    The investigation was still in the preliminary stages but witnesses told police that a black sedan approached and someone fired shots into the crowd before fleeing, police said Sunday. Jerome also told reporters Saturday that witness accounts described two possible shooters on foot.

    Go deeper ( < 1 min. read ) ➝


    Trump Slams Biden and Dems Amid Iranian Drone Attack on Israel



    Former President Donald Trump started his rally in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, with remarks that the Iranian attack on Israel on Saturday would not be occurring if he were still president.

    “I want to say God bless the people of Israel — they’re under attack right now,” he said as he began his rally, taking place ahead of Pennsylvania’s primary on April 23.

    “That’s because we show great weakness — this would not happen. The great weakness that we’ve shown is unbelievable, and it would not have happened if we were in office. You know that, they know that, everybody knows that.”

    “But America prays for Israel. We send our absolute support to everyone in harm’s way. This is an attack that would not have happened,” he added. “I will revive American strength abroad, and we will restore American strength at home.”

    “ISRAEL IS UNDER ATTACK!” Trump had posted earlier in the day on his Truth Social platform. “This should never have been allowed to happen – This would NEVER have happened if I were President!”

    Trump and Biden have each become the presumptive nominees of their respective parties and are headed for a rematch in November.

    Biden had returned to Washington, D.C., from Rehobeth Beach, Delaware, on Saturday earlier than expected to meet in the White House Situation Room with national security advisers that afternoon.

    “President Biden is being regularly updated on the situation by his national security team and will meet with them this afternoon at the White House,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement. “His team is in constant communication with Israeli officials as well as other partners and allies.”

    The first drones were expected to reach Israel around 2 a.m. local time, or 7 p.m. Eastern time.

    “This attack is likely to unfold over a number of hours,” Watson added. “President Biden has been clear: our support for Israel’s security is ironclad. The United States will stand with the people of Israel and support their defense against these threats from Iran.”

    On Friday, the president told reporters his “expectation is sooner than later” that Iran would attack Israel, but he did not provide specifics.

    “We are devoted to the defense of Israel,” Biden added Friday afternoon. “We will support Israel and help defend Israel and Iran will not succeed.”

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝

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