Michael Cohen Back in Court for Second Day of Testimony in Trump Fraud Trial
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Former President Trump’s onetime personal lawyer Michael Cohen is back at the Manhattan courthouse on Wednesday to testify against his former boss in Trump’s ongoing New York civil fraud trial.

Cohen testified Tuesday, during his first face-to-face encounter with Trump in years, that he manipulated financial information to reflect “whatever number Mr. Trump told us.”

Wednesday’s expected testimony is set to be Cohen’s second day on the stand in Trump’s civil fraud trial.

Trump, who called Cohen a “proven liar” on Tuesday, is also expected to appear in court again on Wednesday, NBC News reports.

Cohen is a key witness in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ $250 million lawsuit alleging that Trump, his eldest children and the Trump Organization committed years of financial fraud.

Cohen, a fixer-turned-foe of the former president, was originally set to testify last week, but postponed it due to a “pre-existing medical condition.”

Read 5 Comments
  • Guest says:

    Cohen admitted to lying to Congress in November 2018, so why wouldn’t he lie now? I wouldn’t trust Cohen as far as you could throw a stick.

  • wilma d. smith says:

    He has it in for Trump because he had to go to jail for something he did. He is dying to get revenge on Trump. They should not have called a liar to the jury or as a witness.

  • Beverly Soltwedel says:

    This Letitia James had to stoop pretty low to come up with Micheal Cohen-a proven liar like she is. They most likely have coffee together so he will know just what to say. Both are liars.

  • L'Angelo Mysterioso says:

    Conehead Cohen deserves nothing short of a deaf ear, since he’s a proven liar. I’m still trying to figure out what this idiot even brings to the table, other than a headline for Letitia “Jesse” James.

  • k munroe says:

    POS Coward

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    Derek Chauvin Was Stabbed 22 Times — Ex-FBI Informant Attacked Him on Black Friday as Symbolic Connection to BLM



    The man who stabbed ex-Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin in prison purposefully attacked on Black Friday as a symbolic connection to the Black Lives Matter movement, according to investigators.

    Former Mexican Mafia member John Turscak, 52, stabbed Chauvin 22 times inside a Tucson federal prison and said he would’ve killed him if corrections officers had not responded so quickly, prosecutors said.

    He is now charged with attempted murder, assault with the intent to commit murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, and assault resulting in bodily injury.

    Turscak — who is serving a 30-year sentence for crimes committed while working as an FBI informant – said he thought about stabbing the ex-cop convicted of killing black man George Floyd by kneeling on his neck during his arrest for months before the act.

    Turscak attacked Chauvin with an “improvised knife” with the “intent to do bodily harm” and to “commit murder,” according to the criminal complaint viewed by The Post.

    He told investigators he chose Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving when shops bring sale events — for his attack because it was “symbolic with the Black Lives Matter movement and the ‘Black Hand’ symbol associated with the Mexican Mafia criminal organization,” according to FBI agents who interviewed him on Nov. 26

    The attack on the disgraced police officer took place around 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 24 inside the facility’s law library. Officers used pepper spray to subdue Turscak.

    Chauvin, who is serving a 22-year sentence for Floyd’s death, was taken to a hospital for “emergency medical treatment,” after employees had to perform “life-saving measures” on him.

    Turscak waived his Miranda Rights for his interview with the FBI, where he denied he had intended to kill Chauvin.

    A lawyer for the criminal was not listed, although he has represented himself on previous occasions.

    He has since been moved into an adjacent federal facility, where he remains.

    Tursak was convicted in 1997 for crimes he committed while working as an FBI informant against the Mexican Mafia. His work resulted in getting an indictment against 40 alleged mafia members and associates, according to a 2001 report by the Los Angeles Times.

    However, during his time as an informant, he dealt drugs, extorted money, and authorized assault. He was dropped as an informant and charged with racketeering and conspiring to kill a rival gang member, The Times reported.

    At the time, Tursak claimed he told the FBI about his methods and was allegedly told: “Do what you have to do.”

    “I didn’t commit those crimes for kicks. I did them because I had to if I wanted to stay alive,” he said at the time.

    Chauvin, on the other hand, was shoved into the spotlight in May 2020 after he was pictured kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine-and-a-half minutes, causing his death.

    He was sentenced to almost two decades in federal prison in July 2022 for depriving Floyd of his rights.

    His condition following the stabbing is still unknown. Chauvin’s attorney, Greg Erickson, told The Post on Wednesday his client’s family has not been able to speak to the ex-cop and don’t know about his current condition.

    “They say he’s stable, but he also could be stable but unconscious, we just don’t know,” Erickson said. “That’s all we were told.

    Erickson could not immediately be reached on Friday afternoon.

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    Zelensky Concedes Counteroffensive Failed



    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy characterized the Ukrainian military’s summer counteroffensive against Russia as a disappointment, failing to achieve its expansive goal of pushing Russian forces back to pre-2014 lines, in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday.

    Ukraine’s forces have made incremental advances against Russian lines and crippled Moscow’s Black Sea naval fleet, Zelenskyy said, but did not achieve major routs similar to those claimed in a previous counteroffensive. Zelenskyy told the AP that Ukraine lacked both the manpower and the weapons from allies it needed to make a quick advance and push back Russian troops.

    “We wanted faster results. From that perspective, unfortunately, we did not achieve the desired results. And this is a fact,” he said.

    The Ukrainian president was in Kharkiv following a tour throughout the country aimed at boosting morale, according to the AP.

    Winter will bring new challenges, Zelenskyy told the outlet, but said that Ukraine is determined not to give up on the fight to expel invading forces.

    “Look, we are not backing down, I am satisfied. We are fighting with the second (best) army in the world, I am satisfied,” he said, referring to the Russian military.

    However, speaking about whether he was satisfied with the counteroffensive, Zelenskyy added, “We are losing people — I’m not satisfied. We didn’t get all the weapons we wanted — I can’t be satisfied, but I also can’t complain too much.”

    He also noted that the ongoing conflict in the Middle East has captured the attention of the U.S., Ukraine’s biggest backer, and worried that competing political priorities could jeopardize Western resources and support for Ukraine.

    The U.S. has devoted heavy weaponry and long-range missiles in limited quantities. Ukraine could not commit the 31 U.S.-made Abrams main battle tanks to the conflict until the fall, after training and deliveries were completed, and so far there is only one documented use of the long-range Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), in October.

    Still, American military support for Ukraine, now totaling $44 billion, includes short range artillery systems along with millions of rounds of standard artillery ammunition, Patriot air defense systems, infantry fighting vehicles and more, according to the latest fact sheet.

    Artillery stockpiles are running low, even as the winter months will bring a heavier reliance on fires over maneuver warfare. It also brings renewed fears of Russian airstrikes on Ukrainian cities and energy infrastructure, according to the AP.

    “We have a new phase of war, and that is a fact,” Zelenskyy told the AP. “Winter as a whole is a new phase of war.”

    On Nov. 25, Moscow launched the largest drone attack since the war began in February 2022, according to the AP.

    “There is not enough power to achieve the desired results faster. But this does not mean that we should give up, that we have to surrender,” Zelenskyy told the AP. He is working to boost domestic artillery production.

    “This is the way out,” he said.

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    Cops Hunt Homeless Serial Killer



    Five homeless people were shot, leaving two dead, in Las Vegas – just hours after cops revealed they are hunting for a serial killer who murdered another three in Los Angeles.

    A lone gunman opened fire on the group of homeless people at 5.30pm near a highway overpass in the northern part of Vegas. Two died and the other three suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

    The Vegas bloodbath came on the same day LA officials revealed they are hunting for a serial killer who shot three homeless people dead in their sleep in alleyways during separate attacks on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday.

    The Californian killings led to an unprecedented warning from Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, who told the city’s homeless population: “Our message to the unhoused community is clear – do not sleep alone tonight.”

    Then just hours later, Vegas cops were called to a shooting that bore similar hallmarks – although it is not officially confirmed that the incidents are all linked. LVPD Lt. Mark Lourenco said: “We believe this is an isolated event,” when asked if it was an active shooter situation. The investigation is currently ongoing, with no suspect in custody.

    The identities and ages of the Vegas victims have not been released yet. The LA victims were described as two Hispanic males and one Black male. Detectives released a CCTV image of a hooded suspect and a dark-colored sedan believed to be linked to the killings

    Mayor Bass said: “Our message to our unhoused community is clear – try not to be alone tonight. We will do all we can to make shelter and services available.

    “To the many Angelenos who have friends or family who are unhoused, please let them know the danger that exists. We must stay safe. We will work diligently to bring those responsible to justice.

    “As we always do in the face of a challenge or crisis, our region is mobilizing to respond to this issue. We will work tirelessly to find the individual responsible, arrest them, and hold them accountable. I have met with our partners at the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Housing Department and we are moving immediately to get the word out to our unhoused neighbors in housing networks.”

    LAPD Chief Michel Moore said: “I commend the LAPD for creating a dedicated task force to uncover the identity of a potential serial killer preying on the most vulnerable in our community.

    “I’ve assigned our Major Crimes Division, Bureau of Victim Services and our Bureau of Investigation to assist with these efforts. Today, we demonstrate our collective resolve and stand united in our pursuit of justice, unwavering against the darkness that preys on the most defenseless among us.”

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    Texas Ordered to Remove Floating Rio Grande Barriers



    Texas must remove a floating barrier it placed at the Rio Grande to deter immigrants from illegally crossing the United States-Mexico border, an appeals court ruled Friday.

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled 2-1 to decline a request by Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) to reverse a lower court decision that had ordered it to remove the 1,000-foot-long string of buoys placed at the river in July near Eagle Pass, Texas. The decision can still be appealed, but it marks a victory for the Biden administration’s efforts to remove the barriers, arguing they unlawfully block navigation and cause humanitarian concerns.

    A panel of three judges held that the shallow waters where the buoys were deployed were considered navigable, thereby requiring Texas to obtain permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under environmental laws, according to a 67-page majority opinion.

    Abbott blasted the panel’s decision as “completely wrong” and said he and Attorney General Ken Paxton would seek an immediate en banc hearing. If granted, it would convene all the court’s judges to rehear the case.

    “We’ll go to SCOTUS if needed to protect Texas from Biden’s open borders,” Abbott posted on X, the website formerly known as Twitter.

    Following the Biden administration’s July lawsuit against Texas, U.S. District Judge David Ezra ordered state officials to move the buoys to an embankment on the U.S. side of the river, which serves as the border with neighboring Mexico, pending a final ruling in the case.

    Judge Don Willett, an appointee of then-President Donald Trump, was the lone dissenter. He argued the district court “tried to spin” the river’s naturally treacherous conditions as evidence that the barrier itself is dangerous. But “I cannot,” he contended.

    “To support the district court’s assessment, the majority opinion cites a quote by Governor Abbott that migrants ‘risk their lives by crossing illegally through the [Rio Grande],'” Willet said, noting that the majority opinion “misread” Abbott’s quote.

    “The majority opinion holds this out as evidence that ‘the floating barrier pose[s] a risk to human life.’ But Governor Abbott was talking about the danger posed by the river, not the barrier,” Willet explained.

    The barrier is one of Abbott’s most recent strategies to try to block immigrants from crossing the river, and he has also deployed razor wire along the riverbank to deter crossings further. On Thursday, a federal judge rejected Texas’s bid to block federal immigration authorities from destroying wire fences.

    Abbott and Republican allies have criticized the Biden administration’s handling of the immigration crisis at the southern border, and they say the federal government is not working hard enough to deter illegal immigrant crossings.

    The Department of Homeland Security announced in October that it would create more sections of border wall to deter immigrants from crossing from Mexico, which marked an about-face to embrace a familiar policy position of the Trump administration.

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    Protester Critically Injured After Setting Self on Fire Outside Israeli Consulate



    A protester was in critical condition Friday after setting themself on fire outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta, authorities said. A security guard who tried to intervene was also injured.

    A Palestinian flag found at the scene was part of the protest, Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said at a news conference.

    He added that investigators did not believe there was any connection to terrorism and none of the consular staff was ever in danger.

    “We do not see any threat here,” he said.

    “We believe it was an act of extreme political protest that occurred.”

    Authorities did not release the protester’s name, age or gender.

    The person set up outside the building in the city’s midtown neighborhood on Friday afternoon and used gasoline as an accelerant, Atlanta Fire Chief Roderick Smith said.

    The protester was in critical condition, with burn injuries to the body. A security guard that tried to stop the person was burned on his wrist and leg, Smith said.

    Schierbaum said police are aware of heightened tensions in the Jewish and Muslim community and have stepped up patrols at certain locations, including the consulate.

    Demonstrations have been widespread and tensions in the U.S. have escalated as the death toll rises in the Israel-Hamas war.

    A weeklong cease-fire that brought the exchanges of dozens of hostages held by Hamas for scores of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel gave way Friday morning to resumed fighting between Israel and Hamas.

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    Al Jazeera Posts Blurred Doll, Claims to Be Dead Baby



    Al Jazeera has published on X footage of an emotional man holding a ‘baby’ with a blurred face wrapped in white.

    However, social media users quickly shared footage of the ‘baby’ without the blurred edits shared by the News source, revealing it to be only a doll.

    “He was born and martyred during the war…a month-and-a-half-old baby was martyred in the hands of his mother, after an Israeli bombing targeted the family home in the Al-Mughraqa area, south of the city,” Al Jazeera wrote alongside the doctored footage.

    It is unclear if Al Jazeera had edited the footage themselves in an attempt to deliberately mislead the public or if they had shared the footage without properly researching the background. However, despite numerous people contacting the site about the falsified footage, the X post has remained published.

    The X post has garnered over 17,000 views but only reposted 56 times.

    While this footage could not be located on Al Jazeera’s Arabic website, other footage was found with adults crying over the death of dolls.

    The bias of Al Jazeera

    The reporting of Palestinian-related News has been heavily criticized since Hamas’s October 7 terror attack which resulted in the brutal murder of 1200 people. Israel’s foreign ministry has told the Jerusalem Post that the “pro-Hamas” site was being monitored and that Israel had planned to shut it down.

    In one such Post piece, an Al Jazeera journalist was seen cutting off a Palestinian in Gaza condemning Hamas.

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    The Secret Life of Cornel West



    Cornel West has been a fixture of American society for more than three decades, publishing books, teaching at Ivy League institutions, commenting on cable news, collaborating on music with Prince—even popping up in sequels to the Matrix. Ubiquity provided liquidity, with West earning an estimated $15 million or so over the last 30 years. But oddly, as he mounts an independent run for president, his net worth resembles that of a first-year adjunct professor. “I live paycheck to paycheck,” says West.

    A review of federal filings and property records confirms that West’s net worth is near zero. Other outlets have previously reported on his troubles paying taxes over the years. But no one so far has explained how someone so successful became so broke. With West in position to affect who becomes America’s next president, Forbes set out to answer that question, digging into heaps of legal and tax documents filed in various jurisdictions over six decades. Turns out much of the damage was self-inflicted.

    West burst onto the national scene in the 1990s with Race Matters, a compilation of essays that sold more than 500,000 copies. He traveled the country to deliver speeches, hauling in more than $500,000 a year. Much of the money flowed to him with no taxes deducted. West blew it—on many things, especially women—leaving little left for Uncle Sam by the time tax season arrived. The liens piled up: $144,000 in 1998, $105,000 in 2000, $205,000 in 2001 and so on. “Almost like a reptile biting its tail,” he says now.

    West lived in a Four Seasons condo in Boston, which he later admitted he could not afford, and rode around in a Mercedes or Cadillac. One of his four ex-wives accused West of maintaining a covert apartment in Boston for $5,000 a month to use as a love den. She also alleged that, despite not having any health conditions, he later took a medical leave from his job at Harvard to live a “secret life” with another woman in New Mexico.

    In court documents filed in 2002 and 2003, West did not deny burning money on affairs, at least one of which produced a child. (He acknowledged he had an 18-month-old daughter at the time.) And in his 2009 memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud, West confirms some of the less-salacious details. But when asked in November to respond to claims he’d “hid or wasted” close to a million dollars, at least some of which went to support extramarital affairs, West offered via email that “The allegations were too ridiculous to attend to–then and now, my brother!” He did not respond to a follow-up inquiry that detailed his ex-wife’s specific allegations.

    In 2002, he blamed his financial troubles on other factors, such as his soon-to-be ex-wife’s propensity to spend money on Chanel clothing, upscale dining and antique furniture. More recently, after news about his tax liens surfaced, West elaborated on the genesis of his debt problems, suggesting the student loans he incurred as an undergraduate put him in a “black hole” that he could never escape.

    That’s nonsense. After three decades in the public eye, West has earned more than enough money to pay back his student loans. Without enormous earnings, West would not owe the federal government so much in unpaid taxes (he still has about $483,000 in outstanding tax liens today). The real explanation for West’s financial problems: recklessness. Despite his professorial appearance—West is famous for his toothy smile and W. E. B. Du Bois-inspired, three-piece suits—he has spent and lived wildly, impregnating and abandoning multiple women, leaving him with significant divorce and child-support payments, some of which he failed to pay. If government leadership is largely about managing money and maintaining relationships, it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the field who is less prepared for the job than Cornel West.

    West was born in Tulsa and raised in Sacramento, by parents who had middle-class jobs, his mom as an elementary school teacher and his dad as a civilian Air Force contractor. At 17, West got a partial scholarship to Harvard. To cover the rest of his tuition, he got assistance from his parents, worked by cleaning toilets and delivering mail and took out loans, he wrote in his memoir. Wary of accumulating more debt, he raced through Harvard in three years. Then in 1973 at age 20, he headed down the East Coast to Princeton, on a full scholarship, to work on his doctorate in philosophy.

    Read the full article.

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    Drivers Would Pay $15 to Enter Manhattan Under Plan



    Most drivers would pay $15 to enter Manhattan’s central business district under a plan released by New York officials Thursday. The congestion pricing plan, which neighboring New Jersey has filed a lawsuit over, will be the first such program in the United States if it is approved by transportation officials early next year.

    Under the plan, passenger car drivers entering Manhattan south of 60th Street during daytime hours would be charged $15 electronically, while the fee for small trucks would be $24 and large trucks would be charged $36.

    Cities such as London and Stockholm have similar programs in place, but New York City is poised to become the first in the U.S.

    Revenue from the tolls, projected to be roughly $1 billion annually, would be used to finance borrowing to upgrade the city’s mass transit systems.

    The proposal from the Traffic Mobility Review Board, a New York state body charged with advising the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on the tolls, includes discounts for travel between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. and for frequent low-income drivers. Government vehicles such as municipal garbage trucks would be exempt.

    Taxi drivers would pass a $1.25 surcharge onto their passengers for entering the congestion zone, while app-based ride-hail passengers would see a $2.50 surcharge.

    Officials say that in addition to funding needed transit improvements, congestion pricing will result in improved air quality and reduced traffic.

    “Absent this we’re going to choking in our own traffic for a long time to come and the MTA is not going to have the funds necessary to provide quality service,” Carl Weisbrod, chair of the traffic review board, said in presenting the report to MTA officials.

    Opponents include taxi drivers, who had pushed for a full exemption.

    “The city has already decimated the taxi industry with years of unregulated, unchecked competition from Uber and Lyft, and the MTA seems poised to land a final blow to the prospect of stability and modest survival,” Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York City Taxi Workers Alliance, said in a news release. “If this proposal is implemented, thousands of driver families will get dragged back into crisis-level poverty with no relief in sight.”

    New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy criticized the traffic mobility board’s proposal after some news organizations reported on it Wednesday ahead of its official release.

    “The Traffic Mobility Review Board’s recommended credit structure is wholly inadequate, especially the total lack of toll credits for the George Washington Bridge, which will lead to toll shopping, increased congestion in underserved communities, and excessive tolling at New Jersey crossings into Manhattan,” Murphy, who filed a federal lawsuit over congestion pricing in July, said in a statement.

    The MTA board will vote on the plan after a series of public hearings scheduled for February 2024.

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    Jussie Smollett Headed Back to Jail After Conviction Upheld by Appeals Court



    Disgraced actor Jussie Smollett may be going back to jail soon as an appeals court upheld his convictions related to a 2019 hate crime hoax on Friday.

    The “Empire” star, 41, was convicted in 2021 of five felony counts of disorderly conduct related to the alleged racist, homophobic attack and sentenced to 150 days behind bars.

    He served just six days of the sentence while the appeal was pending.

    Smollett challenged the role of the special prosecutors, the jury selection, evidence, and other aspects of the case against him – but the convictions were ultimately upheld in 2-1 opinion from the Illinois Appeal Court.

    The California native – who made his big screen debut in 1992’s “The MIghty Ducks” – made headlines in 2019 when he reported to Chicago police that he was the victim of a homophobic and racist attack by two men wearing ski masks.

    The search for the attackers quickly backpedaled into an investigation into Smollett, and resulted in his arrest on charges that he paid two man he knew from “Empire” to help him orchestrate the incident.

    Lawyers for Smollett claimed that the was victim of a racist justice system and politicking.

    Appellate Judge Freddrenna Lyle said Friday that she would have tossed Smollett’s conviction on the grounds that it was “fundamentally unfair” to appoint a special prosecutor and charge the actor when he already completed community services as part of a previous deal with Cook County prosecutors.

    “It was common sense that Smollett was bargaining for a complete resolution of the matter, not simply a temporary one,” she opined.

    Special prosecutor Dan Webb, however, told TMZ that the ruling was “a resounding and profound victory.”

    “Having a dissenting voice in the ruling is not uncommon. The decision by the appeals court is final,” he insisted.

    “What happens next is Mr. Smollett can file a petition for a higher appeal to The Illinois Supreme Court,” Webb continued.

    “This is purely discretionary meaning the court does not have to hear this appeal. He lost all legal rights to an appeal with today’s decision. If the Supreme Court decides to hear his appeal, there will be briefs filed and a hearing date set. If not, then the case goes back to the trial court, which will execute his sentence.”

    Smollett’s team vowed to keep fighting the court’s decision.

    “We wish to highlight that the decision was divided, with Justice Lyle offering a detailed analysis in favor of Smollett,” a rep for the actor told TMZ.

    “We are preparing to escalate this matter to the Supreme Court, armed with a substantial body of evidence.”

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    Rep. George Santos Expelled from House



    The House voted on Friday to expel Republican Rep. George Santos of New York after a critical ethics report on his conduct that accused him of converting campaign donations for his own use. He was just the sixth member in the chamber’s history to be ousted by colleagues.

    The vote to expel was 311-114. Expulsion requires support from two-thirds of the House, a purposefully high bar, but a blistering House Ethics Committee report that accused Santos of breaking federal law proved decisive.

    As it became clear that he would be expelled, Santos placed his overcoat over his shoulders, shook hands with conservative members who voted against his expulsion and departed the House chamber.

    House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., soon took the gavel, quieted the chamber and solemnly instructed the House clerk to inform the governor of New York that Santos’ former House seat was now vacant.

    Santos had fought the expulsion effort, leading his own defense during House floor debate and in conducting a news conference and interviews.

    “I will not stand by quietly,” Santos declared as lawmakers on Thursday evening debated his removal. “The people of the Third District of New York sent me here. If they want me out, you’re going to have to go silence those people and go take the hard vote.”

    Of the previous expulsions in the House, three were for disloyalty to the Union during the Civil War. The remaining two occurred after the lawmakers were convicted of crimes in federal court. Santos made his case for remaining in office by appealing directly to lawmakers who worry they are setting a new precedent that could make expulsions more common.

    Johnson was among those who voiced concerns about removing Santos, though he has told members to vote their conscience. Others in leadership agreed with his reasoning and opposed expulsion. But some Republicans, including Santos’ colleagues from New York, said voters would welcome lawmakers being held to a higher standard.

    “I’m pretty confident the American people would applaud that. I’m pretty confident that the American people expect that,” Republican Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, whose district adjoins Santos’, said before the vote.

    Santos warned lawmakers they would regret removing a member before they have had their day in court.

    “This will haunt them in the future where mere allegations are sufficient to have members removed from office when duly elected by their people in their respective states and districts,” Santos said.

    The expulsion was the final congressional chapter in what was a spectacular fall from grace for Santos. The first-term lawmaker initially was celebrated as an up-and-comer after he flipped a district from Democrats last year and helped Republicans win control of the House. But soon after, troubles began. Reports began to emerge that Santos had lied about having Jewish ancestry, a career at top Wall Street firms and a college degree. His presence in the House quickly became a distraction and an embarrassment to the party.

    In early March, the House Ethics Committee announced it was launching an investigation into Santos. Then in May, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York indicted Santos, accusing him of duping donors, stealing from his campaign and lying to Congress. Prosecutors would later add more charges in an updated 23-count indictment.

    The indictment alleges he stole the identities of campaign donors and then used their credit cards to make tens of thousands of dollars in unauthorized charges. Federal prosecutors say Santos, who has pleaded not guilty, wired some of the money to his personal bank account and used the rest to pad his campaign coffers.

    Meanwhile, Ethics Committee investigators spent eight months investigating Santos and interviewing witnesses. When their work was complete, the panel said it had amassed “overwhelming evidence” of lawbreaking by Santos that it sent to the Justice Department.

    Among other things, the committee said Santos knowingly caused his campaign committee to file false or incomplete reports with the Federal Election Commission, used campaign funds for personal purposes and violated the Ethics in Government Act with his financial disclosure statements.

    Arguing against expulsion during debate on Thursday, Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., said that while he respected the committee, he had concerns about how the Santos case was handled. He said he was troubled that a Republican-led committee would submit a report that was so judgmental and publicized.

    “The totality of circumstance appears biased,” Higgins said. “It stinks of politics and I’ll oppose this action in every way.”

    While the committee does have a Republican chairman, its membership is evenly divided. Rep. Susan Wild, the top Democrat on the committee, reminded members that the decision approving the investigators’ findings was unanimous.

    “As the Ethics Committee’s report lays out in thorough detail, Mr. Santos has repeatedly, egregiously and brazenly violated the public’s trust,” Wild said. “Mr. Santos is not a victim. He is a perpetrator of a massive fraud on his constituents and the American people.”

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    Sandra Day O’Connor, First Woman on Supreme Court, Dies at 93



    Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, has died.

    O’Connor was 93 years old.

    She died in Phoenix, Arizona, on Friday “of complications related to advanced dementia, probably Alzheimer’s, and a respiratory illness,” the Supreme Court said in a statement.

    O’Connor was appointed to the court in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan and served nearly a quarter-century, retiring in 2006.

    She was replaced by Justice Samuel Alito, who in 2022 wrote the majority opinion overturning a federal right to abortion that had been protected for decades by the cases Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

    O’Connor had co-authored the majority opinion in the latter case, which Alito blasted for having “enflamed debate and deepened division” in the United States.

    She stepped back from public life in late 2018, after having problems with her short-term memory, her family said at the time.

    Chief Justice John Roberts, in a statement released by the court, said, “A daughter of the American Southwest, Sandra Day O’Connor blazed an historic trail as our Nation’s first female Justice. She met that challenge with undaunted determination, indisputable ability, and engaging candor.”

    “We at the Supreme Court mourn the loss of a beloved colleague, a fiercely independent defender of the rule of law, and an eloquent advocate for civics education,” Roberts said. “And we celebrate her enduring legacy as a true public servant and patriot.”

    During her tenure, O’Connor was joined on the nine-member Supreme Court by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993. Before O’Connor died, Ginsburg was the most recent justice to have died, in September 2020.

    Four other women have been appointed to the court since Ginsburg was, all of whom are currently serving: Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Amy Coney Barrett and Ketanji Brown Jackson.

    O’Connor was serving as a judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals when Reagan, a Republican, tapped her to become the first female on the Supreme Court in its then 191-year history.

    The El Paso, Texas, native previously served as assistant attorney general of Arizona, as a member of the Arizona state Senate, where she was majority leader at one point, and as a judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court.

    O’Connor’s husband, John, died in 2009, three years after she retired to care for him when he was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

    She is survived by three sons, six grandchildren and her brother.

    The Supreme Court’s press office said funeral arrangements for O’Connor will be released when available.

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    Federal Court Rules Trump Does Not Have Immunity from Jan 6 Civil Suits



    Former President Donald Trump can be sued in civil lawsuits related to the January 6, 2021, US Capitol riot in a long-awaited, consequential decision from the federal appeals court in Washington, DC.

    The decision will have significant implications for several cases against Trump in the Washington, DC, federal court related to the 2020 election. The decision arises out of lawsuits brought by Capitol Police officers and Democrats in Congress.

    The opinion, written by Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan, states that not everything a president does or says while in office is protected from liability.

    The president “does not spend every minute of every day exercising official responsibilities,” the opinion said. “And when he acts outside the functions of his office, he does not continue to enjoy immunity. … When he acts in an unofficial, private capacity, he is subject to civil suits like any private citizen.”

    The decision to allow the January 6 lawsuits against Trump to proceed was unanimous among the three judges on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Greg Katsas concurred with the decision, and Judge Judith Rogers concurred in part. Trump will still be able to seek additional appeals on the issue, if he chooses.

    But at this time, the decision allows three lawsuits against Trump from Capitol Police officers and members of Congress who are seeking recovery from emotional distress and physical injury from the attack to move forward, and at least a half dozen other lawsuits against Trump may be able to emerge from dormancy too. The complaints largely rely on a federal law prohibiting individuals from conspiring to prevent someone from holding federal office.

    The appeals court’s decision may also shape how judges look at arguments of immunity that Trump is making in his federal criminal case around the 2020 election, though the ruling on Friday only applies to civil cases.

    Two of the lawsuits were brought by Democratic House members, while a third was filed by Capitol Police officers.

    The lawmakers allege that they were threatened by Trump and others as part of a conspiracy to stop the congressional session that would certify the 2020 presidential election on January 6, 2021, according to the complaints. They argue that Trump should bear responsibility for directing the assaults.

    Trump moved to dismiss the lawsuits against him on several grounds, including presidential immunity, which the DC District Court rejected, saying that the former president’s actions in the lead-up to the riot at the US Capitol riot were all an effort to remain in office and not official functions of his presidency.

    The district court did find that Trump was protected by presidential immunity from the claim that he failed to stop to the riot, saying that he would be acting in his official presidential powers in that instance.

    The appeals court opinion on Friday distinguished between campaign speech a president seeking reelection might make and official actions of the presidency.

    Trump had argued in court he was immune for anything he said while president, but the court found that is not the case – specifying that the January 6 Trump rally that preceded the riot at the Capitol is potentially part of his campaign.

    Trump still will be able to contest the facts of the case as the lawsuits move forward. The appeals court said Trump also may be able to make more arguments around immunity before the January 6 lawsuits move into extensive evidence-gathering phases.

    The court’s decision on Friday “is flexible enough to accommodate rare cases where even speech made during a campaign event may be official,” Katsas wrote in his concurring opinion. “And it is cautious, in leaving open both the question whether the [Trump January 6] speech at issue is entitled to immunity and, if not, whether the First Amendment nonetheless protects it.”

    The opinion stated a president running for a second term was acting “as office-seeker, not office-holder” when he was campaigning, such as by attending a private political fundraiser, hiring and firing campaign staff and while speaking in political advertisements and reelection campaign rallies.

    Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Trump’s reelection campaign, responded to the opinion on Friday by calling it “limited, narrow and procedural.”

    “The facts fully show that on January 6 President Trump was acting on behalf of the American people, carrying out his duties as President of the United States,” Cheung said in a statement provided to CNN.

    Lawyers for injured Capitol Police officers and Democratic members of Congress who are suing Trump cheered the decision on Friday, after it had the lawsuits on hold for a year.

    “This is the right result and an important step forward in holding former President Trump accountable for the insurrection on January 6,” Matt Kaiser, lawyer for Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said on Friday.

    “Today’s ruling makes clear that those who endanger our democracy and the lives of those sworn to defend it will be held to account,” attorney Patrick Malone said in a statement following the opinion’s release on Friday. “Our clients look forward to pursuing their claims in court.”

    “We’re moving one step closer to justice, one step closer to accountability, and one step closer to healing some of the wounds suffered by [Officers] James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby,” said Kristy Parker, counsel at Protect Democracy. “As this case shows, our constitutional order does not grant former President Donald J. Trump immunity for his attempt to subvert our democracy.”

    Go deeper ( 4 min. read ) ➝


    5 Top Moments from the fiery DeSantis-Newsom Debate



    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) went head-to-head in a Fox News debate Thursday as the governors — one a current presidential contender and the other seen as a future White House prospect — clashed over their records and policy.

    During the fiery 90-minute debate, moderated by Sean Hannity and branded as “The Great Red vs. Blue State Debate,” DeSantis and Newsom took jabs at each other over how they handled key issues including the COVID-19 pandemic, crime and abortion, at times reverting to personal attacks such as calling each other bullies.

    The debate came against the backdrop of DeSantis’s presidential campaign; the Florida governor was initially seen as a threat to Donald Trump but is now lagging in polls behind not only the former president but also former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.

    Meanwhile, Newsom has been widely floated as a presidential hopeful; while he has said he’s not interested in challenging President Biden next year, the Fox News debate has only helped elevate his national profile and fueled further speculation over his plans.

    Here are five takeaways from the DeSantis-Newsom debate:

    Newsom shows his strengths

    Though Newsom often found himself on the defense in a hostile media environment, the California Democrat managed to keep his calm throughout, easily batting away attacks while also lobbing many of his own at DeSantis.

    In one such instance, DeSantis went after Newsom over his COVID-19 policies, saying that in California “you had Disney closed inexplicably for over a year” and that Newsom was “a lock-down governor.”

    Newsom quickly fired back.

    “Let’s talk about your record on COVID,” Newsom said. “You pass an emergency declaration before the state of California did. You closed down your beaches, your bars, your restaurants. It’s a fact. You had quarantines — you had quarantines, you had checkpoints all over the state of Florida. By the way, I didn’t say that. Donald Trump laid you out on this.”

    “He followed science. He followed Fauci,” Newsom added of DeSantis, to which the Florida governor said, “that’s not true.”

    Throughout the debate, Newsom was confident and good-humored, rarely seeming fazed when being attacked by DeSantis or pressed by Hannity, a self-proclaimed conservative.

    His debate performance will likely bolster his image as an extremely polished, media-savvy politician who nonetheless knows how to throw a punch when necessary.

    DeSantis does a decent job — with help from Hannity

    DeSantis went into the debate with arguably more at stake than Newsom, since he’s currently running in the GOP presidential primary.

    Ultimately, the Florida governor delivered a decent performance, frequently demonstrating his research of the topics at hand and even at times displaying visual aids — including a map of what he said was human excrement in San Francisco — to knock Newsom.

    He also landed a couple memorable blows, such as when he labeled Newsom a “liberal bully” or when he mocked his opponent for what he said was Newsom’s “shadow campaign” for the Democratic nomination for president in 2024.

    Still, the “red state vs. blue state” debate also felt at times like a two-on-one match-up.

    Hannity, during his introduction for the debate, acknowledged his well-known reputation for boosting Republican candidates for office and conservative causes, though he emphasized that he wanted to be a referee in the debate, not a participant.

    Throughout the night, many of the moderator’s questions began with an infographic or chart displayed on the screen for viewers, most of which painted California in a less favorable light than Florida on issues of homelessness, the economy and migration.

    Newsom on several occasions pushed back directly on Hannity’s line of questioning, DeSantis’s characterizations of the statistics and argued his state was in a stronger position than conservative critics routinely suggested.

    By contrast, Hannity gave little pushback to most of DeSantis’s answers or his attacks on the California governor.

    The debate was raucous

    Hannity repeatedly said Thursday night that he wanted to let the event “breathe,” resulting in a free-flowing — and at times raucous — debate.

    DeSantis and Newsom frequently talked over each other, to the point when they were sometimes unintelligible. They lobbed attacks at each other throughout the night and often interrupted each other.

    Hannity, for his part, worked hard to interject or move on to a new topic whenever it got chaotic. At one point, he begged the two governors not to “turn me into a hall monitor.”

    The lack of an in-person audience allowed the two participants to go after each other more freely, as there was no need for either governor to hold for applause or raise his voice over shouting spectators.

    Before one early commercial break, Newsom finished an answer to a question on his handling of the coronavirus pandemic by looking into the camera and saying, “more to come on this,” as the outro music signified a break was imminent.

    DeSantis joked that Newsom would be setting up “the next segment, I guess.”

    “I’m not a potted plant,” an apparently frustrated Hannity joked later during the debate, as the two governors bickered back and forth.

    Adding to the sense of chaos was a moment near the end in which it seemed like the debate was being abruptly extended. Hannity asked the two men on stage if they’d like to continue debating past the pre-planned 10:30 p.m. end time.

    “I don’t know why we don’t do another half hour; I’ve got all night,” Newsom said.

    “I think it’s been fun and it’s more entertaining than … I’m sorry to the guests I’ve invited,” Hannity said, before sending the broadcast to what would be its final commercial break.

    Once the network returned, Hannity said both candidates “had other commitments” and welcomed in a post-debate panel to provide analysis on the debate.

    Biden is GOP boogeyman

    DeSantis sought to make President Biden a frequent boogeyman during the debate, tying Newsom to the president, who continues to suffer underwater approval ratings.

    “I’ll give Gavin credit. He did at least admit in his first answer, he’s joined at the hip with Biden and Harris,” DeSantis said at one point. “He thinks Biden and Harris have done a great job. He thinks the economy is working because of their policies for Americans and they are not.”

    “And so, what California represents is the Biden-Harris agenda on steroids. They would love nothing more than to get four more years to be able to take the California model nationally. That would be disastrous for working people in this country,” he added.

    Unsurprisingly, Newsom found himself as chief defender of the Biden-Harris administration during the debate, while trying to paint a stark contrast between Democrats and the Republican Party.

    “I’m here to tell the truth about the Biden-Harris record, and also compare and contrast Ron DeSantis’s record and the Republican Party’s record as a point of contrast that’s as different as daylight and darkness,” Newsom said.

    It’s not the first time Newsom has positioned himself as a surrogate for the Biden campaign — he played a similar role during the second GOP debate in Simi Valley, Calif. The move strategically helped demonstrate his loyalty to the Biden campaign while also elevating his own national profile amid rumors that he might run for the White House himself.

    But the frequent mention of Biden also emphasized the extent to which Republicans like DeSantis believe the president is an albatross for Democrats heading into 2024.

    Needle is unlikely to move much for either man

    While sparks flew during the Fox News debate, it’s unlikely to change much for either governor.

    For DeSantis, he’s still struggling to catch up to Trump in the 2024 GOP primary as all signs increasingly point to the former president once again winning the nomination.

    He has notched key endorsements from Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) and influential Evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats, but still faces steep hurdles in polling out of the early primary states of New Hampshire and South Carolina, where he’s polling behind Haley.

    For Newsom, the debate has boosted his national profile, though it’s hardly the first time the California Democrat has sought to position himself front and center in the public eye. It’s also unlikely to change the minds of the many conservatives watching the debate in an already hyper-partisan political environment.

    Still, both men came out of the event being praised by their respective sides — a sign that the event served some purpose for them.

    Go deeper ( 5 min. read ) ➝


    Ceasefire Ends: Israel Resumes Gaza Military Operation



    Israel renewed its assault on the Gaza Strip early Friday after the end of a weeklong truce with Hamas, pummeling the Palestinian enclave from the air while warning civilians to leave parts of southern Gaza in a sign that it intends to expand its ground offensive.

    International mediators said they were still working to restore the cease-fire, which saw the release of more than 100 hostages held in Gaza and 240 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. The pause had raised hopes for a broader deal, but that appeared to have collapsed as the two sides traded blame while smoke rose from Gaza’s ruined skyline and sirens wailed in Israeli border communities.

    The resumption of fighting will raise fears for Palestinian civilians in Gaza, as well as the remaining 140 or so hostages, as Israel grapples with the tension between its two stated war goals — destroy Hamas and free those taken captive in the Oct. 7 terror attack.

    The prospect of Israel expanding its ground campaign southward will also heighten international anxiety, including in the White House, which has warned its close ally to moderate its military tactics to reduce further civilian casualties and displacement.

    Talks and fighting

    The pause in fighting, brokered by the United States, Qatar and Egypt, was set to expire at 7 a.m. local time (midnight ET). In the last hour of that deal, Israel said Hamas fired rockets toward its territory from Gaza, at least one of which it managed to intercept, but that “a number” of others got through.

    Sirens sounded in Israeli communities near the border with the Palestinian enclave, while an NBC News team in the southern city of Sderot witnessed rockets being intercepted. Israeli officials have not said whether anyone was injured or killed by rockets from Gaza.

    Hamas in turn blamed Israel, saying it had refused “throughout the night to accept all offers to release other detainees.”

    Qatar, which hosts some Hamas leadership, expressed “deep regret” that fighting had resumed without an extension. The government added in a statement that negotiations were continuing.

    The Israel Defense Forces said it had “resumed combat” against Palestinian militants, and that “IDF fighter jets are currently striking Hamas terror targets in the Gaza Strip.” The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas had “violated the plan” and “did not live up to its duty to release all the kidnapped women today.”

    The government media office in Gaza, which is run by Hamas, a banned terror group in the U.S. and elsewhere, said that the Israeli army had begun “to continue its brutal war against our Palestinian people.”

    Gazans reported seeing and hearing airstrikes across the enclave’s north and south, as well as artillery shelling along the border to the east. Hamas-affiliated media reported heavy gunfire and that clashes were occurring in the north, the focus of Israel’s campaign so far. And NBC News’ team in Gaza witnessed dead and injured people being taken to hospitals in the center and south of the strip.

    “Every 10-15 minutes, there have been strikes, some of it 500 meters (550 yards) away from us,” Mohammad Ghalayini, 44, who lives in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, told NBC News in a voice note, with the distinct buzz of an Israeli drone discernible in the background.

    ‘Crammed’ into southern Gaza

    Israel had previously told Palestinians to leave northern Gaza, the focus of its initial military campaign, fueling an exodus of displaced residents now packed into the south of the enclave. But on Friday it dropped new leaflets on Khan Younis, warning residents that it had now become a combat zone and telling them to relocate again to the southern city of Rafah, on the border with Egypt.

    The IDF also published an online interactive map, dividing Gaza into hundreds of zones that it said would be used to warn residents where the fighting would be centered.

    Ghalayini, who received one of the leaflets, voiced the common Palestinian belief that this was part of a broader plan to get them to leave Gaza so Israelis can settle there. Although a few Israeli politicians have voiced support for the idea, Netanyahu has said Israel is trying to remove Hamas and does not seek to govern or occupy Gaza.

    “One fear is that, when crammed into a smaller area, people will break out through the border and Egypt may have no choice” but to accept them, Ghalayini said.

    The renewed outbreak of fighting follows a week of respite for the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, who have endured almost two months of aerial and ground assault, killing more than 15,000 people, including more than 5,000 children, according to local authorities.

    Israel launched the campaign after Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack in which some 1,200 people were killed and around 240 taken captive, according to the IDF.

    The recent pause allowed aid into the besieged, impoverished enclave, which has lurched further into a humanitarian crisis during the war. During that time, 105 hostages were released from Gaza, officials said, while Israel has released 240 Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

    Now there are also fears of the violence spreading, after a deadly shooting at a bus stop in Jerusalem and an Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank. Palestinian health officials said two boys were killed in the Israeli raid, one of them 8 years old.

    But a week ago, after a pressure campaign by the hostages’ families and a shift in public opinion, Israel agreed with Hamas to pause the fighting so some of the abductees could be liberated.

    With most Israelis supportive of a war they see as essential to their own security, Netanyahu has always said that the war would restart with full force after negotiations had run their course.

    The U.S. has publicly urged its ally to operate with much greater care for civilians in any renewed military campaign.

    Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said Thursday that he had discussed with Israeli leaders the imperative “that the massive loss of civilian life and displacement of the scale that we saw in northern Gaza not be repeated in the south.” He added: “As I told the prime minister, intent matters, but so does the result.”

    Hours later, the fighting had resumed.

    After a week in which diplomacy was given priority, violence was on Friday once again the dominant language of this struggle.

    Go deeper ( 4 min. read ) ➝


    NYT: Israel Knew Hamas Attack Plan More Than Year Ago



    Israeli officials obtained Hamas’ battle plan for the Oct. 7 terrorist attack more than a year before it happened, documents, emails and interviews show. But Israeli military and intelligence officials dismissed the plan as aspirational, considering it too difficult for Hamas to carry out.

    The approximately 40-page document, which Israeli authorities code-named “Jericho Wall,” outlined, point by point, exactly the kind of devastating invasion that led to the deaths of about 1,200 people.

    The translated document, which was reviewed by The New York Times, did not set a date for the attack, but described a methodical assault designed to overwhelm the fortifications around the Gaza Strip, take over Israeli cities and storm key military bases, including a division headquarters.

    Hamas followed the blueprint with shocking precision. The document called for a barrage of rockets at the outset of the attack, drones to knock out the security cameras and automated machine guns along the border, and gunmen to pour into Israel en masse in paragliders, on motorcycles and on foot — all of which happened Oct. 7.

    The plan also included details about the location and size of Israeli military forces, communication hubs and other sensitive information, raising questions about how Hamas gathered its intelligence and whether there were leaks inside the Israeli security establishment.

    The document circulated widely among Israeli military and intelligence leaders, but experts determined that an attack of that scale and ambition was beyond Hamas’ capabilities, according to documents and officials. It is unclear whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or other top political leaders saw the document, as well.

    Last year, shortly after the document was obtained, officials in the Israeli military’s Gaza division, which is responsible for defending the border with Gaza, said Hamas’ intentions were unclear.

    “It is not yet possible to determine whether the plan has been fully accepted and how it will be manifested,” read a military assessment reviewed by the Times.

    Then, in July, just three months before the attacks, a veteran analyst with Unit 8200, Israel’s signals intelligence agency, warned that Hamas had conducted an intense, daylong training exercise that appeared similar to what was outlined in the blueprint.

    But a colonel in the Gaza division brushed off her concerns, according to encrypted emails viewed by the Times.

    “I utterly refute that the scenario is imaginary,” the analyst wrote in the email exchanges. The Hamas training exercise, she said, fully matched “the content of Jericho Wall.”

    “It is a plan designed to start a war,” she added. “It’s not just a raid on a village.”

    Officials privately concede that, had the military taken these warnings seriously and redirected significant reinforcements to the south, where Hamas attacked, Israel could have blunted the attacks or possibly even prevented them.

    Instead, the Israeli military was unprepared as terrorists streamed out of the Gaza Strip. It was the deadliest day in Israel’s history.

    Israeli security officials have already acknowledged that they failed to protect the country, and the government is expected to assemble a commission to study the events leading up to the attacks. The Jericho Wall document lays bare a yearslong cascade of missteps that culminated in what officials now regard as the worst Israeli intelligence failure since the surprise attack that led to the Arab-Israeli war of 1973.

    Underpinning all these failures was a single, fatally inaccurate belief that Hamas lacked the capability to attack and would not dare to do so. That belief was so ingrained in the Israeli government, officials said, that they disregarded growing evidence to the contrary.

    Officials would not say how they obtained the Jericho Wall document, but it was among several versions of attack plans collected over the years. A 2016 Defense Ministry memorandum viewed by the Times, for example, says, “Hamas intends to move the next confrontation into Israeli territory.”

    Such an attack would most likely involve hostage-taking and “occupying an Israeli community (and perhaps even a number of communities),” the memo reads.

    The Jericho Wall document, named for the ancient fortifications in the modern-day West Bank, was even more explicit. It detailed rocket attacks to distract Israeli soldiers and send them hurrying into bunkers, and drones to disable the elaborate security measures along the border fence separating Israel and Gaza.

    Hamas fighters would then break through 60 points in the wall, storming across the border into Israel. The document begins with a quote from the Quran: “Surprise them through the gate. If you do, you will certainly prevail.”

    The same phrase has been widely used by Hamas in its videos and statements since Oct. 7.

    One of the most important objectives outlined in the document was to overrun the Israeli military base in Re’im, which is home to the Gaza division responsible for protecting the region. Other bases that fell under the division’s command were also listed.

    Hamas carried out that objective Oct. 7, rampaging through Re’im and overrunning parts of the base.

    The audacity of the blueprint, officials said, made it easy to underestimate. All militaries write plans that they never use, and Israeli officials assessed that, even if Hamas invaded, it might muster a force of a few dozen, not the hundreds who ultimately attacked.

    Israel had also misread Hamas’ actions. The group had negotiated for permits to allow Palestinians to work in Israel, which Israeli officials took as a sign that Hamas was not looking for a war.

    But Hamas had been drafting attack plans for many years, and Israeli officials had gotten hold of previous iterations of them. What could have been an intelligence coup turned into one of the worst miscalculations in Israel’s 75-year history.

    In September 2016, the defense minister’s office compiled a top-secret memorandum based on a much earlier iteration of a Hamas attack plan. The memorandum, which was signed by the defense minister at the time, Avigdor Lieberman, said that an invasion and hostage-taking would “lead to severe damage to the consciousness and morale of the citizens of Israel.”

    The memo, which was viewed by the Times, said Hamas had purchased sophisticated weapons, GPS jammers and drones. It also said Hamas had increased its fighting force to 27,000 people — having added 6,000 to its ranks in a two-year period. Hamas had hoped to reach 40,000 by 2020, the memo determined.

    Last year, after Israel obtained the Jericho Wall document, the military’s Gaza division drafted its own intelligence assessment of this latest invasion plan.

    Hamas had “decided to plan a new raid, unprecedented in its scope,” analysts wrote in the assessment reviewed by the Times. It said that Hamas intended to carry out a deception operation followed by a “large-scale maneuver” with the aim of overwhelming the division.

    But the Gaza division referred to the plan as a “compass.” In other words, the division determined that Hamas knew where it wanted to go but had not arrived there yet.

    On July 6, 2023, the veteran Unit 8200 analyst wrote to a group of other intelligence experts that dozens of Hamas commandos had recently conducted training exercises, with senior Hamas commanders observing.

    The training included a dry run of shooting down Israeli aircraft and taking over a kibbutz and a military training base, killing all the cadets. During the exercise, Hamas fighters used the same phrase from the Quran that appeared at the top of the Jericho Wall attack plan, she wrote in the email exchanges viewed by the Times.

    The analyst warned that the drill closely followed the Jericho Wall plan, and that Hamas was building the capacity to carry it out.

    The colonel in the Gaza division applauded the analysis but said the exercise was part of a “totally imaginative” scenario, not an indication of Hamas’ ability to pull it off.

    “In short, let’s wait patiently,” the colonel wrote.

    The back-and-forth continued, with some colleagues supporting the analyst’s original conclusion. Soon, she invoked the lessons of the 1973 war, in which Syrian and Egyptian armies overran Israeli defenses. Israeli forces regrouped and repelled the invasion, but the intelligence failure has long served as a lesson for Israeli security officials.

    “We already underwent a similar experience 50 years ago on the southern front in connection with a scenario that seemed imaginary, and history may repeat itself if we are not careful,” the analyst wrote to her colleagues.

    While ominous, none of the emails predicted that war was imminent. Nor did the analyst challenge the conventional wisdom among Israeli intelligence officials that Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas, was not interested in war with Israel. But she correctly assessed that Hamas’ capabilities had drastically improved. The gap between the possible and the aspirational had narrowed significantly.

    The failures to connect the dots echoed another analytical failure more than two decades ago, when American authorities also had multiple indications that the terrorist group al-Qaida was preparing an assault. The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were largely a failure of analysis and imagination, a government commission concluded.

    “The Israeli intelligence failure on Oct. 7 is sounding more and more like our 9/11,” said Ted Singer, a recently retired senior CIA official who worked extensively in the Middle East. “The failure will be a gap in analysis to paint a convincing picture to military and political leadership that Hamas had the intention to launch the attack when it did.”

    Go deeper ( 6 min. read ) ➝


    Young Chiefs Fan Speaks Out After “Blackface” Accusations



    A young Kansas City Chiefs fan reacted on Wednesday to allegations by a Deadspin writer who claimed the boy wore “blackface” when he painted half his face red and the other black for last Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

    During 9-year-old Holden Armenta’s appearance on “Jesse Watters Prime Time,” the boy and his father, Bubba Armenta, spoke to the Fox News host about being in the spotlight following the racism allegations by sports writer Carron Phillips.

    “It’s been a lot. It’s been a pretty crazy couple of days,” Bubba said. “I was mad, upset for him. I’m mad that he’s upset. He’s pretty devastated. I mean, he’s seen the videos and everything posted.”

    “It was his dream to get on the jumbotron,” he added.

    “And I’ve had family and friends call and [say], ‘Oh, we saw you on Sunday night football.’ So, he’s excited. But then everything else came up.”


    Watters then asked Holden how he was holding up.

    “It’s OK because a lot of kids at school are getting excited, but it’s starting to get me a little nervous because if they go a little bit overboard, it’s a little scary,” Holden said.

    The drama began after Phillips accused Holden of finding “a way to hate Black people and the Native Americans at the same time” when the boy wore an American Indian headdress and painted half his face red and the other half black to show his support for the Chiefs.

    In the Deadspin article, Phillips called out the child’s “disrespect” and only focused on one side of his face. When the writer was criticized online, he just doubled down on his accusations.

    The Community Notes feature on X added a disclaimer saying the writer “failed to provide full context” that the boy’s face paint was in reference to the football team.

    Holden’s mom later took to Facebook and defended her son, calling out the sports blog.

    “This has nothing to do with the NFL,” Shannon Armenta wrote in her post. “Also, CBS showed him multiple times and this is the photo people chose to blast to create division. He is Native American — just stop already.”

    Holden is from an American Indian family, and his grandfather is on the board of the Chumash tribe in Santa Ynez, California, according to The Post Millennial.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    Senate Democrats Authorize Supreme Court Ethics Subpoenas



    A Democratic-led U.S. Senate panel on Thursday authorized subpoenas to two influential conservatives – Harlan Crow and Leonard Leo – as part of an ethics inquiry spurred by reports of undisclosed largesse directed to some conservative Supreme Court justices.

    The Judiciary Committee voted to authorize the subpoenas for Crow, a billionaire Republican donor and benefactor of conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, and Leo, a legal activist who was instrumental in compiling Republican former President Donald Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees.

    Republican senators walked out of the contentious committee meeting in protest while Democrats cast votes. Some Republicans later questioned the vote’s legitimacy, accusing Democrats of violating procedural rules.

    “The subpoena clearly wasn’t legal,” Republican Senator John Kennedy, a committee member, said after the vote.

    Senator Dick Durbin, the panel’s chairman, said subpoenas were necessary due to the refusal by Crow and Leo for months to voluntarily comply with its previous requests for information. This included itemized lists of all gifts, transportation and lodging provided to any Supreme Court justice.

    Durbin also renewed his criticism of a new code of conduct announced by the court on Nov. 13 and promised to continue to pursue the committee’s ethics investigation.

    “Without an enforcement mechanism, this code of conduct, while a step in a positive direction, cannot restore the public’s faith in the court,” Durbin said.

    Senator Lindsey Graham, the committee’s top Republican, told the meeting that Democrats were engaged in a “jihad” against the Supreme Court, whose 6-3 conservative majority has handed major defeats to liberals in recent years on matters including abortion, gun rights and student debt relief.

    “When you say you don’t want to destroy the Roberts Court, I don’t believe you,” Graham said, referring to the court under the leadership of conservative Chief Justice John Roberts. “I don’t believe a word you’re saying.”

    The committee vote authorized Durbin to issue the subpoenas, which he could do unilaterally, according to a Democratic committee staffer.

    If the subpoena recipients fail to comply, Democrats would need 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate to initiate a civil enforcement action, meaning they would need the support of some Republicans. The Democrats also would have the option to make a referral to the U.S. Justice Department, which could choose to pursue criminal contempt proceedings against the subpoena recipients.

    Lawyers for Leo and Crow in letters to the committee have criticized the committee’s information requests as lacking a proper legal justification. Crow’s lawyer had proposed turning over a narrower range of information but Democrats rebuffed that offer, according to the panel’s Democratic members.

    The news outlet ProPublica reported this year on Thomas’s failure to disclose luxury trips and real estate transactions involving Crow, a Texas businessman.

    The outlet also reported that Leo helped organize a luxury fishing trip in Alaska attended by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, who failed to disclose taking a private jet provided by billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer. Trump chose all three of his appointees to the court from lists of candidates that Leo played a key role in drawing up.

    Thomas has said he believed the Crow-funded trips were “personal hospitality” and thus exempt from disclosure requirements, and that his omission of the real estate transaction was inadvertent.

    Alito, regarding the flight, said that Singer had “allowed me to occupy what would have otherwise been an unoccupied seat.”

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    Fauci to Testify in House on Covid Pandemic’s Origins, US Response



    After months of negotiations, former chief White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci has agreed to testify in Congress on the U.S. response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the virus’s origins in China.

    The testimony by Fauci, who led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases from 1984 until last year, will be his first before the Republican-controlled House.

    The U.S. intelligence community remains divided over whether the virus leaked from a laboratory or arose naturally, leaving lawmakers still searching for answers on how the pandemic began and the effectiveness of the U.S. response.

    The arrangements for Fauci’s testimony are extensive. They will begin with two days of transcribed interviews behind closed doors in January. A public hearing, which is expected to be contentious, will be held at a later date.

    Fauci, who won praise in many quarters for his high-profile role battling the pandemic and the earlier HIV/AIDS crisis, has been criticized by some GOP lawmakers who say he played down the possibility that the virus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the U.S. government’s links to virus research at the facility. During the pandemic, the longtime public-health official, who led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for almost four decades, became an unlikely figure of hatred and ire on the right over his support for government health mandates and other issues. He said he received death threats and his family was harassed, and in 2021, he was given an armed security detail.

    In a letter to Fauci today, Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R., Ohio), chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, said the committee and Fauci’s team had agreed Fauci would give a transcribed interview on Jan. 8 and 9 for seven hours each day.

    The letter states that two government lawyers and two personal attorneys can accompany Fauci at those sessions, which won’t be public. The date for the public hearing hasn’t yet been set.

    “As the former Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Advisor to the President of the United States, you have knowledge pertinent to both investigating and evaluating the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also preparing for future pandemics,” wrote Wenstrup.

    One of Fauci’s lawyers, David Schertler, in an email cited Fauci’s “ongoing cooperation with the Subcommittee regarding the coronavirus,” but didn’t respond to additional questions about his coming testimony.

    U.S. intelligence agencies are split on whether the coronavirus likely first infected humans via an animal, or via a lab-related research accident in Wuhan, China, where the pandemic began. The Energy Department earlier this year shifted its analysis to a “low confidence” assessment that it had leaked from a lab, joining the FBI, which has “moderate confidence” in that explanation.

    Four other U.S. intelligence agencies assess with low confidence that the virus arose naturally, while the Central Intelligence Agency has been agnostic.

    At the outset of the pandemic, Fauci said that the virus likely emerged naturally before jumping to humans. But he has also said that the origins should continue to be investigated and that it is important to keep an open mind.

    Fauci, now a distinguished professor at Georgetown University, has said in interviews since he retired from government that while there is no definitive answer to the virus’s origins, the preponderance of evidence points to natural transmission. He has also warned about the need to prepare for future pandemics.

    Wenstrup and other House Republicans, citing email exchanges, have charged that Fauci worked with other scientists to play down the possibility of a lab leak in a seminal March 2020 scientific article, “The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2,” in the journal Nature Medicine.

    Fauci wasn’t among the article’s co-authors, who have disputed Republicans’ interpretation of their discussions about the virus’s origin.

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    Appeals Court Reinstates Gag Order in Trump NY Case



    A New York appeals court reinstated a gag order preventing former President Donald Trump from maligning court staffers on Thursday.

    New York Judge Arthur Engoron had initially issued the gag order in early October after Trump lashed out at one of his law clerks on social media.

    Trump is currently fighting accusations of business fraud leveled by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

    Appeals court Judge David Friedman had issued a stay on Engoron’s gag order on Nov. 16, saying it potentially infringed on Trump’s First Amendment rights.

    By that time, Engoron had already fined Trump $5,000 for violating the order on social media on Oct. 20, and did so again on Oct. 25 for another $10,000 before threatening imprisonment if further violations were committed.

    Trump took the stand to testify personally in early November. He repeatedly cast James’ yearslong investigation and lawsuit as a “disgrace” and an attack on his business and his family.

    Trump has denied any wrongdoing and insists his assets were actually undervalued. Trump has repeatedly said his financial statements had disclaimers requesting that the numbers be evaluated by the banks.

    Engoron ruled in September that both Trump and his company had committed fraud by deceiving banks, insurers and others by overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing financing.

    “There was no victim here — the banks were represented by the best, biggest, most prestigious law firms in the state of New York — actually in the country, some of the biggest law firms,” Trump said when the trial began.

    “The banks got back their money, there was never a default, it was never a problem, everything was perfect. There was no crime.”

    Trump has attacked Engoron and James — both Democrats — as politically biased “operatives.”

    “They are defending the Worst and Least Respected Attorney General in the United States, Letitia James, who is a Worldwide disgrace, as is her illegal Witch Hunt against me. The Radical and Unprecedented actions of Judge Engoron will keep BUSINESSES and JOBS forever out of New York State,” Trump wrote in a recent social media post.

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    Rand Paul Uses Heimlich Maneuver to Save Senator Choking on Lunch



    Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) reportedly used the Heimlich maneuver on Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) today after she apparently began to choke on food.

    “Rand Paul used the Heimlich maneuver on Joni Ernst at Senate lunch today, she was choking on some food, per attendees,” said POLITICO reporter Burgess Everett. “She’s OK, senators say.”

    Ernst confirmed the news on X, posting from her official government account: “Can’t help but choke on the woke policies Dems are forcing down our throats. Thanks, Dr. @RandPaul!”

    “God bless Rand Paul,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). “I never thought I’d say that.”

    Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) said in a tweet earlier in the afternoon that food at the Senate lunch was provided by Ernst and the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

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