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Police Investigating Discovery of 2020 Absentee Ballots in Michigan Storage Locker
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Police in Michigan are investigating the discovery of roughly 300 absentee ballots from the 2020 election that were found in a storage locker.

The ballots were discovered in a storage locker in Thetford Township in August 2022 but just disclosed after the town’s supervisor, Rachel Stanke, filed a freedom of information request and discussed the findings at a municipal meeting this week. The ballots, which were found in a locker owned by the deputy town clerk, appear to mostly be spoiled ballots, Michigan State Police said.

Stanke, who was tipped off in 2021 that some absentee ballots might be missing, said that it was important to bring the discovery to light so citizens could trust future elections.

“That’s why I want to bring this to their attention,” she said, according to Michigan News Source. “And I want them to be able to make sure that their elections are run fairly and smoothly.”

With spoiled absentee ballots, voters could be sent a new one or go pick one up. “Say they didn’t receive their ballot or they lost it or their dog ate it. They would have to come into the township and write a letter I believe show their ID and be issued a new ballot,” Stanke said.

The Michigan attorney general’s office will decide if any criminal charges need to be filed or if any laws were broken, according to ABC 12 News. The investigation by Michigan State Police is still ongoing.

Stanke said that the ballots had been accidentally stored at the facility by a former city employee.

“She was not aware when she was asked to store them in there. She thought they were old township documents,” she said.

Members of the community want assurances that there will be more oversight about how and where ballots are stored.

“Now this is all coming out and … I’m kind of happy that it’s coming out because the election is right around the corner again,” said Katie Hicks, a candidate for township clerk in 2020 who lost by just 19 votes. “And it concerns me that this will take place again for 2024.”

Thetford Township, a town of about 7,000 people, is located just north of Flint, Michigan.

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Report: Biden Could Drop Out This Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Schumer’s office sang a similar tune.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pelosi Privately Told Biden He Cannot Win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. JD Vance Tells His Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Personal Stories Highlighted

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

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

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

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

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

3. Gold Star Families Honored

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Border Security Brought to Life

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

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

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

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

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

5. Kai Trump Makes Political Debut

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

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

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

6. Fresh out of Prison, Peter Navarro Speaks Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Secret Service Chief Faces Mounting Pressure to Resign

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

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

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

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

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

A tight-lipped Cheatle continued to walk briskly away.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Trump: Taiwan Should Pay US for Defense

Global chip stocks fell sharply, with ASML, Nvidia and TSMC posting declines amid reports of tighter export restrictions from the U.S. and a ramp-up of geopolitical tensions fueled by comments from former U.S. President Donald Trump.

ASML’s Netherlands-listed shares were down 11%, while Tokyo Electron shares in Japan closed nearly 7.5% lower. Arm, AMD, Marvell, Qualcomm and Broadcom closed down more than 7%.

The moves came after Bloomberg on Wednesday reported that the Biden administration is considering a wide-sweeping rule to clamp down on companies exporting their critical chipmaking equipment to China.

Washington’s foreign direct product rule, or FDPR, allows the U.S. to put controls on foreign-made products even if they use the smallest amount of American technology. This can affect non-U.S. companies.

ASML’s stock drop came even as it reported earnings that beat market expectations for the second quarter. However, 49% of its sales over the period took place in China — highlighting how much is at risk for the firm, in the event of tighter restrictions. ASML makes the machines that are required to manufacture the most advanced chips in the world.

Comments from Trump, a Republican, added further negative sentiment to semiconductor stocks.

The former president said Taiwan should pay the U.S. for defense, in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek published Tuesday. He also claimed Taiwan took “about 100%” of America’s semiconductor business.

The remarks have thrown doubt over the U.S. commitment to defend Taiwan if Trump becomes president and in the event of an attack by China, which sees the democratically governed island as part of its territory.

The Taiwan-listed shares of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. closed down 2.4% on Wednesday.

The geopolitical tensions also weighed on chip stocks in the U.S. The VanEck Semiconductor ETF closed down over 7%. Super Micro Computer and Applied Materials were among the other U.S.-listed laggards in trading.

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Katzenberg Warns Biden: The Money Is Drying Up

President Joe Biden heard some hard words Wednesday from Jeffrey Katzenberg about his reelection chances.

The longtime Democratic donor and fundraiser spoke with Biden today in Las Vegas, Deadline can confirm, before the announcement came down that Biden had Covid again.

Due to the president’s proximity to Los Angeles, Katzenberg, a campaign co-chair, traveled to Vegas to meet face-to-face with Biden. In a small meeting with a handful of senior advisors, he laid out to the 81-year-old Biden how donors are drying up due to ongoing concerns about the president’s age.

The exec supposedly told Biden that the road ahead to another term could be very difficult, sources tell us.

Senior campaign officials tell Deadline that the meeting was “routine” on a number of matters as well as donors, and “nothing out of the ordinary” occurred. Biden and Katzenberg speak regularly, and the president is fully aware of the dissent among some formerly loyal donors, we hear.

No news if Katzenberg has Covid like the president, but the longtime mega-bundler was in close quarters with Biden earlier today.

Already, a number of Hollywood donors and key supporters have called on Biden to withdraw from the campaign, amid concerns that there is no path to victory following the president’s dismal debate performance last month.

Biden’s meeting with Katzenberg and a trio of others comes as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a strong ally of Nancy Pelosi, said publicly today that he has thinks the president will have a hard time winning in November. “While the choice to withdraw is President Biden’s alone, I believe it is time for him to pass the torch,” said Schiff, widely tipped to win California’s open Senate seat in November. “And in doing so, secure his legacy of leadership by allowing us to defeat Donald Trump in the upcoming election.”

Among the Tinseltown donor class, most prominent was George Clooney who, in a New York Times op-ed last week, called for Biden to drop out of the race. He wrote that “our party leaders need to stop telling us that 51 million people didn’t see what we just saw. We’re all so terrified by the prospect of a second Trump term that we’ve opted to ignore every warning sign.”

The op-end came after Clooney co-hosted a fundraiser in Los Angeles for the Biden campaign on June 15; the event raised more than $30 million, a record. Clooney wrote that “it’s devastating to say it, but the Joe Biden I was with three weeks ago at the fund-raiser was not the Joe “big F-ing deal” Biden of 2010. He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate.”

Damon Lindelof, another prominent Hollywood donor, wrote in a Deadline essay that the entertainment industry should withhold its money from the party until the top of the ticket is changed. Other figures, like Rob Reiner and Stephen King, also have urged Biden to drop out.

Semafor first reported on the Biden and Katzenberg meeting today.

Heading now on Air Force One to isolate in his Delaware home, Biden has another fundraising swing to Southern California planned later this month. That trip includes a reception in Laguna Beach on July 26 with co-hosts Anne Earhart, Janet Keller and Bernie Schneider and James Costos, per an invite.

The next day, Biden is scheduled to headline a campaign fundraiser in Piedmont, CA, with co-hosts Quinn Delaney and Wayne Jordan, and Buffy Wicks and Peter Ambler.

The Biden-Harris campaign has about $250 million cash on hand, we hear.

Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to headline a fundraiser in Provincetown, MA on Saturday.

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MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough Calls for Biden to Drop Out

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough all but called on President Biden to drop his re-election campaign Thursday — as the TV host ripped the commander-in-chief’s inner circle for keeping him in the race.

“This is not going to end well if it continues to drag out,” Scarborough said during a lengthy spiel on his “Morning Joe” talk show.

Scarborough, who has staunchly defended the 81-year-old president in recent weeks despite the mounting calls for him to step aside, called on those closest to Biden to help him “do the right thing.”

“It’s really incumbent on people that are around Joe Biden to step up at this point and help the president and help the man they love and do the right thing,” he said.

“The anger I hear are at the people that are keeping him in a bubble or who may have their own interests, some financial, in keeping him in the race. That is the real anger,” Scarborough continued.

“It is widespread. Joe Biden deserves better. He deserves better than he is getting from those closest to him.”

Scarborough said members of Congress are worried they are going to lose the House and the Senate, adding that Biden’s numbers are heading down in swing states and top fundraisers are telling the president that Dem donors have “all gone away.”

The “Morning Joe” host acknowledged his co-host and wife Mika Brzezinksi’s connections to the Biden family.

“We have known him for a long time,” Scarborough said. “Mika and her family, extraordinarily close to the Bidens.”

The show’s lean to the left runs deep – it was pulled from air Monday over alleged fears that a guest may make an inappropriate comment about the assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump.

Scarborough’s somewhat noncommittal push for Biden to drop out of the race is a complete flip from Brezinzski’s 15-minute monologue in defense of the sitting president just a few weeks ago.

“I still believe in Joe Biden,” Brzesinksi said on the “Morning Joe” show after Biden’s disastrous debate performance. “I’ve learned that counting him out is always a mistake and doing that now could be catastrophic for our country.”

During that show, she slammed the “sneering, mocking, jeering” headlines from newspapers across the political spectrum. She called out The New York Times and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for publishing editorials calling on Biden to bow out of the race.

And she questioned the lack of editorials calling on Trump to bow out of the race, citing just one from The Philadelphia Enquirer which said “the only person who should withdraw from the race is Trump.”

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Bud Light Slips to No. 3 After Boycott Reshaped Beer Industry

Bud Light’s star is still falling more than a year after a boycott turned the U.S. beer industry upside down. The former favorite has tumbled to the No. 3 spot behind Modelo Especial and Michelob Ultra, recent sales data show.

Bud Light represented 6.5% of beer dollar sales in U.S. stores in the four weeks ended July 6, compared with 7.3% for Michelob Ultra and 9.7% for Modelo, according to an analysis of NielsenIQ data by the consulting firm Bump Williams.

Modelo Especial, a Mexican import sold by Constellation Brands has outsold Bud Light by dollar sales since last year. In the four weeks that included this year’s July Fourth weekend, Modelo overtook Bud Light by sales volume, too, according to Bump Williams. The stretch between Memorial Day and July Fourth is crucial for the beer industry and can make or break a brewer’s year.

The new rankings show the fallout from a Bud Light boycott that began in April 2023, when a transgender influencer posted an Instagram video about a personalized beer can that the brand had sent her as a gift. The following month Bud Light lost its spot as the top-selling beer in America and continued to be a target of the political right for much of the year.

Though Donald Trump in February gave the beer a surprise endorsement, Bud Light’s sales have continued to fall, in part because U.S. retailers have reduced the amount of shelf space allocated to the brand.

The news isn’t all bad for Bud Light’s brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev. The company also makes Michelob Ultra, whose growing sales have vaulted that brand into second place. Busch Light is another bright spot, with sales up 12.8% in the four weeks ended July 6. Overall, AB InBev’s share of the U.S. beer market is slipping, sales data show.

AB InBev Chief Executive Michel Doukeris earlier this year said the company had lost between 5% and 7.5% of shelf space in spring shelf resets, when retailers change their allocation of space according to what is selling and what is not. Most of the space lost by Bud Light was gained by other AB InBev brands, he said.

The company this year is creating in-store displays tied to marketing campaigns around the National Basketball Association, the Copa América, the Paris Olympics and the National Football League, which should make up for the lost shelf space, he said.

AB InBev this summer is making a sports push with Michelob Ultra, sponsoring the U.S. and Mexico men’s teams during the Copa América, along with the Argentine star Lionel Messi, and Team USA at the Paris Olympics.

Busch Light is leaning into country music, sponsoring performances this summer at music festivals and state fairs from Alabama to North Dakota.

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‘I’m Sick’: Biden Tests Positive for Covid, Cancels Speech in Las Vegas

President Joe Biden tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday, the White House said.

The president, who was delivering speeches in Las Vegas, “is experiencing mild symptoms,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

Biden “will be returning to Delaware where he will self-isolate and will continue to carry out all of his duties fully during that time,” she said.

“The White House will provide regular updates on the President’s status as he continues to carry out the full duties of the office while in isolation.”

Biden boarded Air Force One in Las Vegas around 6:30 p.m. ET, the White House pool reported. The president did not appear to be wearing a mask as he boarded the plane.

Biden’s doctor said that the president came down with a runny nose and a “non-productive cough” on Wednesday afternoon.

“He felt okay for his first event of the day, but given that he was not feeling better, point of care testing for COVID-19 was conducted, and the results were positive for the COVID-19 virus,” the physician said in a statement shared by the White House.

Biden’s symptoms “remain mild,” with a normal temperature and respiratory rate and a 97% pulse oximetry reading.

“The President has received his first dose of Paxlovid,” the doctor said. “He will be self-isolating at his home in Rehoboth.”

Biden was scheduled to deliver remarks Wednesday afternoon at the UnidosUS Annual Conference in Las Vegas, after an interview with Univision at the Original Lindo Michoácan Restaurant.

Photos show Biden shaking hands with patrons at that restaurant.

But Biden did not show up to the conference at his scheduled speaking time of 4:30 p.m. ET.

After 6 p.m. ET, UnidosUS President Janet Murguia announced to the crowd that Biden had tested positive for the virus.

“Regrettably, I was just on the phone with President Biden, and he shared his deep disappointment at not being able to join us this afternoon,” she said. “The president has been at many events, as we all know, and he just tested positive for Covid.”

“He said to tell my folks that we’re not going to get rid of him that quickly,” she added. “He’s just really sorry he couldn’t be with us.”

The illness comes as Biden, 81, has come under mounting pressure from his fellow Democrats to withdraw from the presidential race against Republican nominee Donald Trump.

A growing number of Democratic lawmakers, along with top donors and other allies, have urged Biden to step aside after his disastrous debate performance stoked panic about his fitness to campaign.

Biden has repeatedly rejected those calls and defended his physical and mental health.

But in an interview with BET on Tuesday, Biden said that he might reconsider his decision to stay in the race if a “medical condition” emerged.

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CNN: Biden Is More Open to Idea of Quitting Race Against Trump

As President Joe Biden flies back to Delaware from Las Vegas on Wednesday night, cutting his trip short after testing positive for Covid-19, he faces one of the most momentous decisions of his long political life: Should he heed the rising calls from his fellow Democrats to extinguish his bid for reelection?

For Biden, is it a new moment?

Even though anger and panic have been steadily rising inside the Democratic Party for nearly three weeks, after the president’s alarming debate performance in Atlanta, the White House and the Biden campaign are in a new place, multiple Democratic officials told CNN.

“The private conversations with the Hill are continuing,” a senior Democratic adviser told CNN, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid alienating the campaign and the White House. “He’s being receptive. Not as defiant as he is publicly.”

“He’s gone from saying, ‘Kamala can’t win,’ to ‘Do you think Kamala can win? “ the adviser said. “It’s still unclear where he’s going to land but seems to be listening.

The Biden campaign, which is also facing a growing outcry from Democratic donors, dismissed the suggestion the president was rethinking his candidacy.

“If the facts matter – and they should – here is one: President Biden is the Democratic nominee and he is going to win this November,” Kevin Munoz, a Biden spokesman, told CNN.

The developments come at a crucial time for the Biden campaign. ABC News’ Jonathan Karl reported earlier Wednesday that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told Biden on Saturday that it would be best if Biden bowed out of the presidential race.

In a statement responding to the ABC News reporting, a Schumer spokesperson said, “Unless ABC’s source is Senator Chuck Schumer or President Joe Biden the reporting is idle speculation. Leader Schumer conveyed the views of his caucus directly to President Biden on Saturday.”

What that statement did not say, however, was three important words that Schumer has included every time he is asked whether Biden’s candidacy should proceed: “I’m with Joe.”

The private meeting between Schumer and Biden, which was held at the president’s beach house Saturday in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, is seen by Democratic officials as one of the most important moments in this escalating drama.

Earlier Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff, who’s running for Senate in California, became the latest high profile member of Biden’s party to call on the president to exit the race, the first congressional Democrat to do so publicly following the assassination attempt against former President Donald Trump.

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Schumer Told Biden It Would Be Best to End Candidacy: ABC News

Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told President Joe Biden in a private meeting it would be best to end his presidential bid, ABC News reported on Wednesday evening.

“Schumer forcefully made the case that it would be better for Biden, better for the Democratic Party, and better for the country if he were to bow out,” Jonathan Karl said while reporting from the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee.

Karl said there has been no denial from Schumer’s camp. The senator’s office said, “Leader Schumer conveyed the views of his caucus.”

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has made similar statements “directly to the president,” Karl added.

Last week, Schumer signaled in private that though he backs Biden publicly, he was open to having another person at the top of the Democratic ticket.

Biden, 81, has been facing growing calls to end his reelection bid after his disastrous debate performance last month and subsequent interviews in which he did little to quell fears he can defeat former President Donald Trump in November and serve another four years.

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Adam Schiff Calls on Biden to Drop Out of the Race

Rep. Adam Schiff on Wednesday became the most prominent elected Democrat to publicly call on President Joe Biden to drop out of the race.

The announcement by Schiff, who is running for US Senate in California, makes him the first Democrat to urge Biden to step aside since the failed assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump over the weekend.

Schiff’s call also is notable as he, unlike many of the other Democrats who have so far publicly called for Biden to drop out, is not in a swing district and he is close to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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

The California Democrat served as an impeachment manager during one of Trump’s impeachments and has been one of the sharpest critics of the former president. In his statement, Schiff praised Biden’s legacy but added, “our nation is at a crossroads.”

“A second Trump presidency will undermine the very foundation of our democracy, and I have serious concerns about whether the President can defeat Donald Trump in November,” he continued.

Previously, in the aftermath of Biden’s disastrous performance in the CNN debate last month, Schiff would only go so far as to say the president “should take a moment to make the best-informed judgment” about the future of his campaign.

A Biden campaign official responded to the call from Schiff by pointing to a July 8 letter from Biden to congressional Democrats noting his intention to stay in the race, along with his support from Democratic lawmakers, like Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Nanette Barragan, among others.

The Democratic Party remains roiled about the path forward amid fears that, in light of the debate, Biden cannot defeat Trump and he risks taking down-ballot Democrats with him in November.

Earlier Wednesday, CNN reported that the Democratic National Committee is moving ahead with its controversial plan to virtually nominate Biden ahead of the Democratic convention in Chicago next month – ignoring the growing calls from some of the party’s elected officials to ditch that strategy given the serious ongoing debate about whether the president should continue to seek a second term.

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Secret Service Spotted Thomas Crooks on Roof 20 Minutes Before He Shoot Trump

Law enforcement officials investigating the assassination attempt on Donald Trump told lawmakers Wednesday that 20 minutes passed between the time U.S. Secret Service snipers first spotted the gunman on a rooftop and the time shots were fired at the former president, according to several law enforcement officials and lawmakers briefed on the matter.

Officials said the snipers spotted the suspect, 20-year-old Thomas Matthew Crooks, on the roof of a building outside the security zone at the rally Saturday in Butler, Pennsylvania, at 5:52 p.m. ET. The shooting happened at 6:12 p.m. ET, 20 minutes later, the sources said.

In the days since the shooting, the Secret Service has come under scrutiny for its response to the assassination attempt and the agency’s director, Kimberly Cheatle, has been subpoenaed to testify before Congress. A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson said she “welcomes the opportunity to testify.”

The revelation of the timeline came as sources told ABC News that Crooks searched on his phone for images of President Joe Biden and former President Trump and searched for the dates of Trump’s rally in Butler and for dates of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

The phone search history revealed no indication of Crooks’ political views and investigators were trying to determine his motive.

The FBI director, his deputy director and the head of the Secret Service told lawmakers Crooks was identified as a person of interest a full 62 minutes before the shooting took place, according to the law enforcement officials and lawmakers briefed.

According to the sources, the timeline presented in the briefing was as follows:

  • 5:10 p.m. Crooks was first identified as a person of interest
  • 5:30 p.m. Crooks was spotted with a rangefinder
  • 5:52 p.m. Crooks was spotted on the roof by Secret Service
  • 6:02 p.m. Trump takes the stage
  • 6:12 p.m. Crooks fires first shots

From the time Crooks fired his first shot to the gunman being killed was just 26 seconds, according to law enforcement officials. Eleven seconds after the first shot, Secret Service counter snipers acquired their target — and 15 seconds after that, Crooks was shot dead.

Briefers told lawmakers that Crooks purchased an ammunition box at a Walmart on July 5, two days after the rally was announced. On July 13, he went to the rally site in the morning, was there for an hour and then left. He came back sometime in the early 5 p.m. hour and tried to enter the security perimeter.

New analysis by ABC News’ visual verification team reveals that one of two sniper teams posted atop buildings to the north and south behind the rally stage repositioned before the first gunshots were fired. At 6:09 p.m., three minutes before the first gunshots rang out, the sniper team on the roof of the building south of the stage, the furthest away from the shooter’s location, repositioned, turning from the south to the north in the direction of the shooter’s location.

The motive for the assassination attempt remains a mystery, according to the briefers, and they have not identified any ideological nexus to Trump and/or Biden.

Based on interviews with the shooter’s parents, law enforcement told members they believe that neither has strong political leanings.

The FBI told lawmakers they’ve conducted 200 interviews as part of the investigation, a source said.

Timeline comes into focus

Though law enforcement sources said Crooks is believed to have purchased a 5-foot ladder at a Home Depot before the shooting, it does not appear to have been used to climb on the roof and was not found at the scene.

Crooks was able to get a clear shot at the former president by scaling an air conditioning unit accessible from the ground and pulling himself up to the top of a building outside the security perimeter, sources told ABC News. From there he gained access to the top of the neighboring American Glass Research (AGR) building, sources said.

Witnesses told ABC News they saw him shimmying up the slope of the AGR building’s roof to the area where he got off up to eight shots at Trump who was speaking at a podium about 400 feet away.

Trump said he suffered a bullet wound to his right ear. Three rallygoers were shot in the incident, including 50-year-old volunteer firefighter Corey Comperatore, who was killed shielding his family from the gunshots, officials said. The two other rallygoers were listed in stable condition.

Minutes before pulling off the brazen assassination attempt, Crooks was seen walking around near the magnetometers where rallygoers were being scanned for weapons before entering the outdoor venue, according to law enforcement sources.

New bystander video obtained exclusively by Pittsburgh ABC affiliate WTAE appears to show Crooks pacing just beyond the boundaries of the Trump rally at 5:06 p.m. Saturday — about 1 hour and 5 minutes before shots were first fired. Law enforcement sources said they believe this video shows Crooks.

Crooks’ presence in the area of the metal detectors in the minutes before the shooting caught the eye of someone in law enforcement who became suspicious and started to approach him, multiple sources told ABC News. At that point, the would-be assassin backed up and faded into the crowd, according to sources. It was not clear how long before the shooting this happened.

Between the time he was spotted near the magnetometers and when Crooks allegedly fired at Trump, there were two sets of radio transmissions, one reporting that police were looking for a suspicious person and another more generic warning that officers were following up on something suspicious, sources said.

As officers began searching for the suspicious person, Crooks made his way to the area of the AGR building, the sources said. At the time, the building was being used as a staging area for local police, who were inside the structure, the Secret Service director, Cheatle, told ABC News in an exclusive interview this week.

More specifically, sources told ABC News that there were local police personnel and counter-sniper units in the AGR building where Crooks eventually took up a position to fire at Trump, sources said. Investigators believe that could have led to confusion as Secret Service snipers were trying to determine whether there was a threat to Trump and where it might be coming from, according to the sources.

Secret Service counter snipers positioned on buildings close to the rally stage were aware the AGR building was being used as a staging area by law enforcement, sources said. Investigators believe that could have led to a delay in the Secret Service sharpshooters’ reactions because they had to first figure out whether the suspect was a threat, sources said.

But once shots were fired at the former president, the Secret Service snipers could not wait any longer and took out the gunman, sources said.

“Seeking that person out, finding them, identifying them, and eventually neutralizing them took place in a very short period of time, and it makes it very difficult,” Cheatle said during the interview with ABC News.

Meanwhile, two sources familiar with the situation told ABC News Wednesday that before the rally, the Secret Service requested a local police cruiser to be positioned at the AGR building, but local police officials were not able to provide one. The detail was first reported by the Washington Post.

As the FBI investigation continued Wednesday, questions swirled about how the gunman was able to ascend unimpeded to the roof, gain a direct line of sight and fire a barrage of shot at the former president.

While Crooks was making his way to his shooting position, Secret Service agents were listening to radio traffic about a suspicious person police were looking for and heard local law enforcement talking about some sort of confrontation involving police, the sources said.

Butler County Sheriff Michael T. Slupe told ABC News that he was informed by other law enforcement officials that a Butler Township police officer searching for the suspicious person was vaulted onto the AGR building’s roof and briefly confronted the gunman, who turned his weapon to the officer, causing him to retreat back down. Shots rang out moments later.

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Menendez Set to Resign from Senate After Bribery Conviction

Newly minted felon New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez has told allies that he plans to resign following his conviction on federal bribery charges, according to a report Wednesday.

NBC News, citing two unnamed sources “directly familiar with those conversations,” reported that the three-term Democrat voiced his intent to call it quits.

Menendez, 70, was convicted by a Manhattan federal jury Tuesday of 16 counts for trading his political power to benefit three Garden State businessmen and the governments of Egypt and Qatar in exchange for hundreds of thousands in cash, gold bars and gifts.

He refused to say whether he would step down while leaving court Tuesday — even as Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and fellow New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker called on him to resign.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and other Democrats like Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) called for a vote to expel Menendez should he refuse to resign himself.

If either occurs before the end of the term, Murphy would be able to appoint a temporary replacement to fill the seat until January 2025.

Menendez had briefly weighed an independent run to keep his seat, but the November election will now have Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) facing off against Republican opponent Curtis Bashaw.

Senate Ethics Committee chairman Chris Coons (D-Del.) and ranking member James Lankford (R-Okla.) also pledged Tuesday to “promptly” conclude a separate probe of the senator that would include a “full range of disciplinary actions available.”

The Garden State Democrat stepped down as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after his indictment in September — but was still receiving some classified briefings.

Menendez won’t be sentenced for the bribery conviction until Oct. 29.

Reps for his congressional office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

His wife, Nadine Arslanian, 57, had her trial indefinitely postponed hours before her husband’s verdict — despite accepting lavish gifts from the same business associates as him, as well as a black Mercedes-Benz convertible.

Wael Hana and Fred Daibes, two of the three businessmen indicted as co-defendants with Menendez and his wife, were also convicted Tuesday.

Jose Uribe, the other businessman, flipped on the senator and pleaded guilty before the start of the trial.

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Update: Conditions Improve for Two Men Injured in Trump Assassination Attempt

Two men who were critically injured Saturday during the assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump have seen their conditions upgraded, according to a hospital official.

James Copenhaver, 74, and David Dutch, 57, had arrived at Allegheny General Hospital in critical condition, but their statuses improved to “serious condition” on Wednesday, an Allegheny Health Network official told the Washington Examiner.

The pair were wounded when a gunman opened fire at Trump’s rally in Butler, Pennsylvania. A third man, 50-year-old Corey Comperatore, died at the scene.

Copenhaver’s family members said in a statement Tuesday that he had suffered “life-altering injuries.”

“At this time, the Copenhaver family would kindly request that friends, the public, and the media respect the family’s privacy and allow for Jim to recover from the life-altering injuries that he sustained on July 13, 2024,” they wrote. “The Copenhaver family would like to thank you for your continued thoughts, prayers, and support as Jim and his family recover from this horrible, senseless, and unnecessary act of violence.”

Dutch, who was also injured, is a member of the Marine Corps League, which is a veterans group.

“Our immediate support continues for David and his family as he continues his recovery from this attack,” the group wrote in a statement on Facebook. “We offer solace for David and his family along with eternal thoughts and prayers for all the victims of this tragedy.”

Dutch was shot twice, in the liver and stomach, Fox News reported.

Authorities say 20-year-old Thomas Matthew Crooks crawled to the top of a building outside the security perimeter of Trump’s rally on Saturday with a rifle and attempted to assassinate the former president. A bullet hit Trump in the ear, but he ducked behind his podium while Secret Service snipers fired at Crooks, killing him.

The Secret Service is now facing multiple investigations into the security failures that allowed Crooks to fire multiple rounds at Trump and into the crowd at the rally.

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Politico: Every Other Democrat Polls Ahead of Biden in 2024 Race

This polling memo from BlueLabs Analytics is circulating among party officials still keen to convince Joe Biden to step aside and prevent his party from suffering what many fear will be a historic loss to Donald Trump.

The topline findings from interviews with over 15,000 voters in seven battleground states:

  1. “Alternative Democratic candidates run ahead of President Biden by an average of three points across the battleground states. Nearly every tested Democrat performs better than the President. This includes Vice President [KAMALA] HARRIS who runs better than the President (but behind the average alternative).”
  2. “Some of the gains are coming from winning undecideds and those previously supporting a third party. However, alternative candidates are also pulling votes from Donald Trump. All candidates continue to hold the Democratic base.”
  3. “Voters are looking for a fresh face. Those more closely tied to the current administration perform relatively worse than other tested candidates.”

The data here opens a new front in the fight to replace Biden, strongly arguing that the best chance to defeat Trump is with a new Democratic nominee independent of the incumbent administration.

In other words: not Kamala Harris.

The strongest potential candidates are (in alphabetical order) Arizona Sen. MARK KELLY, Maryland Gov. WES MOORE, Pennsylvania Gov. JOSH SHAPIRO and Michigan Gov. GRETCHEN WHITMER. All four outpaced Biden “by roughly 5 points across battleground states.”

This data supports the views of strategists like JAMES CARVILLE and those arguing that blindly rallying around Harris would be as big a mistake as blindly supporting Biden’s reelection was. “Nearly twice as many voters say delegates should nominate the best candidate over picking the next in line,” the memo says. This faction of the #DumpBiden movement wants an open process to replace Biden — who, by the way, still says he has no intention of stepping aside.

On Monday, we checked in with one of the leaders of the effort in Congress, who gave us this update.

“The shooting clearly helped the strategy of Biden’s team to run out the clock,” this Democratic lawmaker said. “It also stopped what would have been a number of members going public after the very unhelpful calls with members on Saturday. But it’s not over. Senior D leaders have not changed their minds that Biden needs to get out. I think a final push will come once the R convention ends on Thursday.”

Yesterday, this same person told Playbook, “Quiet efforts continue to urge the president to step aside, and team Biden remains dug in.”

Cracks in The Unity Façade — For two days, the Republican Party has shown a remarkable level of unity in Milwaukee. Saturday’s assassination attempt bonded together all the quarrelsome factions of the GOP that we have grown so used to covering. (Remember the House Speaker’s race?)

But behind the scenes of the made-for-primetime programming, there are notable cracks in the unity here. The source of the tension is what it’s been ever since June 16, 2015: the tectonic plates of the old Republican Party and the Trump insurgency crashing against each other in fits and starts to create something new.

This morning, we’ll take stock of the notable changes happening off-stage in Milwaukee that are being papered over by the understandable effect of what happened in Butler, Pennsylvania.

By picking Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) as his running mate, Trump has inflamed the most passionate fight in the Republican Party.

“While toeing the party line and praising Vance in their public comments, in private the interventionists ranged from horrified to merely alarmed that one of the loudest critics of aiding Ukraine could soon be first in line for the presidency”.

“The grimaces, sighs and whispered frustrations from the old guard as they made their way through the convention reception circuit were easy to find in the day after the selection.”

Some of the reactions he hunted down as he roamed the Fiserv Forum:

  • “Representative KEN CALVERT (R-Calif.), who oversees military spending as the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee chair, told one associate, according to a person familiar the exchange: ‘The Ukrainians better hurry up and win.’”
  • “Another influential congressional Republican simply told me about the Vance selection: ‘I’m scared to death.’”
  • “On Monday night, TOMMY HICKS, a close friend of Trump’s son and former RNC co-chair, sent an email to KARL ROVE, the former GEORGE W. BUSH strategist, who had praised North Dakota Gov. DOUG BURGUM as a potential running mate. ‘Karl – you fucked up,’ Hicks wrote in the note, which has been forwarded to others, who showed me, in the day since, ‘We will remember.’”
  • In their despair, the anti-Vance wing has started to plot how to box the veep out by pushing to stock a second Trump presidency with their own kind. Sen. JOHN THUNE (R-S.D.), who is running to lead Senate Republicans, told JMart, “It would be good, as they think about populating their cabinet and these key agencies and positions, to make sure that all those voices within the Republican heritage when It comes to national security policy are heard.”
  • “No less a dedicated Vance supporter than DONALD TRUMP JR. said the selection of the Ohioan represented a win but not the end of the internecine war. ‘I don’t know if it ever ends, right?’ Trump told me when I asked if he was ready to declare victory.”

Meanwhile, Adam Wren, Olivia Beavers, and Megan Messerly take stock of all the ways the convention is putting on display deep changes in the Republican Party, including:

  • “Increasingly embracing economic populism at home and isolationism abroad”
  • “shifting its decades-long position on abortion”
  • becoming “not only leery of, but hostile to, certain business interests,” a shift exemplified by the stemwinder delivered by Teamsters President SEAN O’BRIEN on Monday night.

Note this eye-popping summation of the changes from MARC SHORT:

“‘I think what we’re witnessing now is a full on frontal assault on conservatism,’ said Marc Short, who served as chief of staff to Vice President MIKE PENCE from 2019 to 2021, who is so estranged from this new version of the party that he was advised to skip the convention. ‘And you can look at the platform walking away from issues like life and traditional marriage, embracing tariffs across the board, but I feel like yesterday and last night went a step further when you have speakers that are basically saying NATO was at fault for [Russian President VLADIMIR] PUTIN’s invasion of Ukraine, and referring to job creators as ‘corporate pigs’ and and denouncing national Right to Work.’

“He said, ‘That’s an enormous departure from where our party has been and I don’t think it’s a prescription for success.’”

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Biden to Endorse Sweeping Changes to Supreme Court: Term Limits, Ethics Code

President Biden is finalizing plans to endorse major changes to the Supreme Court in the coming weeks, including proposals for legislation to establish term limits for the justices and an enforceable ethics code, The Washington Post reported.

He is also weighing whether to call for a constitutional amendment to eliminate broad immunity for presidents and other constitutional officeholders, the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations.

The announcement would mark a major shift for Biden, a former chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has long resisted calls to make substantive changes to the high court.

Biden previewed the shift in a Zoom call Saturday with the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

“I’m going to need your help on the Supreme Court, because I’m about to come out — I don’t want to prematurely announce it — but I’m about to come out with a major initiative on limiting the court. … I’ve been working with constitutional scholars for the last three months, and I need some help,” Biden said, according to a transcript of the call obtained by The Washington Post.

Term limits and an ethics code would be subject to congressional approval, which would face long odds in the Republican-controlled House and a slim Democratic majority in the Senate. Under current rules, passage in the Senate would require 60 votes. A constitutional amendment requires even more hurdles, including two-thirds support of both chambers, or by a convention of two-thirds of the states, and then approval by three-fourths of state legislatures.
The details of Biden’s considered policies have not been disclosed.

Shortly after The Post published this story, former president Donald Trump criticized the move on Truth Social: “The Democrats are attempting to interfere in the Presidential Election, and destroy our Justice System, by attacking their Political Opponent, ME, and our Honorable Supreme Court,” he wrote. “We have to fight for our Fair and Independent Courts, and protect our Country.”

Biden’s private remarks about his high-court plans came more than two weeks after his wobbly performance at a June 27 debate with Trump, which prompted calls from some Democrats for him to step aside as the party’s presidential nominee. Among those who have rallied to his side are many liberals who strongly support calls to remake the court.

Four days after that debate, the Supreme Court ruled that Trump was immune from prosecution for official acts during his first term in office. Less than an hour later, Biden called Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School, to discuss the ruling and the arguments for and against remaking the court.

“This decision today has continued the court’s attack in recent years on a wide range of long-established legal principles in our nation, from gutting voting rights and civil rights to taking away a woman’s right to choose, to today’s decision that undermines the rule of law of this nation,” Biden said in public remarks later that day.

The next week, Biden called Tribe again, and the two discussed a Guardian opinion piece he wrote endorsing reforms to the Supreme Court. Among the options they discussed: term limits, an enforceable ethics code and the constitutional amendment to address presidential immunity.

Tribe confirmed that he spoke with Biden but declined to comment on their discussion.

During the 2020 presidential race, Biden rebuffed calls from liberals who advocated expanding the court, but he promised he would create a commission to study potential changes. He followed through on that promise after being elected, and the commission issued a 294-page report to the president. Biden has not acted on the commission’s report since it was approved in December 2021.

Eight Democratic senators have co-sponsored a bill that would establish 18-year terms for Supreme Court justices, with a new justice appointed every two years. The nine most recently appointed justices would sit for appellate jurisdiction cases, while others would be able to hear original jurisdiction cases or to step in as a substitute if one of the most recent nine is conflicted or cannot hear a case for another reason.

The legislation was introduced by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), but it has been co-sponsored by several Democrats: Cory Booker (N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Alex Padilla (Calif.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Peter Welch (Vt.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.).

Democrats have offered other legislation to deal with ethics concerns about the high court, including a bill by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) that caps gifts judges can receive, requires the court to follow the judicial code of conduct and requires justices to provide written recusal decisions upon request from litigants, among other changes.

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RNC Day 2: Top Takeaways

The second full day of the Republican National Convention featured two of former President Donald Trump‘s fiercest primary rivals praising him onstage.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) both had complicated relationships with Trump in their unsuccessful primary challenges but have ultimately thrown their support for Trump.

The Trump campaign buoyed by a triumphant Monday night that saw Trump appear onstage is now claiming that several states including Minnesota, Virginia, New Jersey, and New Mexico as toss-ups while Maine could be in play. The former president appeared at the Fiserv Forum for the second night in a row, where he received a standing ovation, but did not address the crowd.

Tuesday night’s theme was “Make America Safe Once Again” as several speakers slammed President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris over the crisis of unchecked immigration at the southern border. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), for instance, claimed the U.S. was facing an “invasion” at the border while victims of crime derided the Biden administration.

Here are the top takeaways from RNC Day 2.

Nikki Haley is unequivocally backing Trump

After a bitter primary against Trump, Haley officially folded back into the Trump-led GOP when she spoke to the convention Tuesday evening. “I’ll start by making one thing perfectly clear: Donald Trump has my strong endorsement. Period,” Haley said unequivocally throwing her weight behind Trump.

“You don’t have to agree with Trump 100% of the time to vote for him,” Haley added, claiming the two former rivals agreed on the safety of America. Attendees of the convention appeared to support Haley’s attempts to reunite the GOP giving her a loud applause during her comments supporting Trump.

The former U.N. ambassador did not hesitate to attack Biden over the concerns he is too old to serve. “For the sake of our nation, we have to go with Donald Trump,” Haley implored claiming Harris should not become the next president of the U.S.

Other lawmakers repeatedly stressed that after the failed assassination plot against Trump it was imperative for the party to come together. “After President Trump got shot a couple of days ago, we now realize that this is not a time for Republican infighting. That’s over. Primaries are like that for a reason. And now it’s time for all of us to come together,” said Rep. Wesley Hunt (R-TX).

The Texas GOP delegation was warned not to boo Haley when she spoke however Princess Anne Gonzalez, an alternate delegate, was skeptical. “We might not be booing but I feel like other people from the other states might,” she said. But no discernible shouts of displeasure against Haley were heard during her speech.

Ron DeSantis continues the GOP unity tour, slams Biden

DeSantis, another tough primary rival of Trump’s, addressed the convention immediately after Haley and echoed much of her main points to the crowd.

“My fellow Republicans, let’s send Joe Biden back to his basement and let’s send Donald Trump back to the White House,” DeSantis said to cheers from the crowd.

Just as Haley did during her speech, DeSantis hit Biden over his age and concerns that he is not mentally capable to serve another four more years. “We need a commander-in-chief who can lead 24 hours a day and seven days a week,” DeSantis said before referencing a 1989 movie. “America cannot afford four more years of a weekend at Bernie’s presidency.”

DeSantis was once seen as Trump’s most competitive rival during the primary but after DeSantis campaign’s continued stumbles he dropped out of the race one week after the Iowa caucuses in January. The Florida governor and Trump would later end the tensions between the two after the former president became the presumptive GOP nominee earlier this year.

“Let’s make the 45th president of the United States, the 47th president of the United States,” DeSantis said urging the crowd to show up for Trump at the polls.

Lara Trump reflects on assassination attempt

RNC co-chair and Trump daughter-in-law Lara Trump shared somber words after Trump survived a plot to take his life. The speech she had planned to give was scrapped after Trump’s near-death encounter. “Our family has faced our fair share of deaths, mysterious powders sent to our homes, tasteless and violent comments directed towards us on social media,” the younger Trump said. “But none of them prepares you as a daughter-in-law to watch in real time someone try to kill a person you love.”

But Lara was quick to point to the unity of the GOP and the nation, as well as the well wishes of supporters. “Last Saturday was a dark reminder that we as Americans must always remember there is more that unites us than divides us,” she counseled.

Much of Lara Trump’s speech was dedicated to championing Trump’s record as president, including low gas prices, a more secure border, and low unemployment rates for black and Hispanic Americans. She also cautioned viewers at home to view Trump not how the media has portrayed but how his family sees him: as a caring father, father-in-law, and grandfather.

“I have seen this man dragged through hell and back, in and out of courtrooms, indictments, impeachments, mug shots, and even an assassination attempt. And yet, he has never backed down,” she said to the crowd’s approval.

Congressional leaders show a display of force with Trump

House and Senate GOP leaders championed Trump’s agenda in another display of GOP unity as they hope to retake the White House and the Senate from Democrats, creating a GOP trifecta. House Republicans, specifically, painted Biden as a danger to the nation and blamed him as the cause of the financial hardships Americans are facing, as they took the stage Tuesday evening.

“I’ve seen some crazy things in my time. But New Orleans has nothing on Washington, D.C., these past four years,” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) said. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have spent your tax dollars trashing America’s finances in ways no sane or sober-minded person ever would.”

“We fought back against Democrats’ reckless spending that caused record-breaking inflation for hardworking Americans,” added House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-MN). “When we grow our majority, when we flip the Senate, and when we send President Donald J. Trump back to the White House, we won’t just be holding the line anymore — we’ll be moving forward.”

Lawmakers in the upper chamber blamed Harris for the growing immigration problem, given her role as the “border czar.” Stopping immigrants from entering the nation illegally has been one of the top three issues for the average American voters, giving the GOP another line of attack against Democrats in the battle to retake the Senate.

“They have encouraged millions of illegal aliens to invade America,” Bernie Moreno, the Republican Senate candidate in Ohio, said during his speech. He later claimed that “the Democrat Senate have put the welfare of illegals ahead of our own citizens.”

“Who’s ready to retire Joe Biden and send border czar Kamala Harris back to California?” Dave McCormick, who is running against Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) in Pennsylvania, said.

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Cops Found Remote Detonator Next to Thomas Crooks’ Phone in Bomb Plot

A remote detonator was found on would-be assassin Thomas Crooks’ body alongside his cell phone after he was shot dead by Secret Service snipers at a Donald Trump rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday.

A picture first published by Pittsburgh’s WPXI showed the detonator, a rectangular grey device with a keypad similar to a television remote control, alongside the gunman’s cellphone.

It was earlier reported that investigating FBI agents recovered explosive materials, ammo and a bullet proof vest inside of the troubled 20-year-old’s car. CNN reports that the bombs were connected to the detonator.

Crooks attracted the attention of security at the rally, held in the town of Butler, 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, shortly after he arrived in the vicinity at approximately 3:00pm.

The shooter was behaving strangely around the metal detectors, at least an hour before the attempted assassination, and was later seen using a range finder.

The gunfire rang out at the rally at 6:11 pm. Trump took to the stage at 6:03 pm, an hour later than advertised.

Four days after the shooting, law enforcement have not commented on what they believe Crooks may have been planning to do after the shooting with the Secret Service facing increasing scrutiny for their inability to secure the event.

Channel 11′s Nicole Ford, who obtained the exclusive photo, revealed that law enforcement agents saw Crooks outside of the the single-story AGR International building from which he shot the ex-President.

This new development comes as Secret Service director Kimberly Cheatle faces fresh questions after local law enforcement officials directly contradicted her claim that a Beaver County sniper team was stationed in the very building from which Trump was shot.

It emerged on Tuesday that the killer penetrated the security area of the rally a full three hours before carrying out his attack, after driving the 50 miles north from his home in Bethel Park on the southern outskirts of Pittsburgh.

At 3pm Crooks triggered a metal detector as he tried to gain access to the site, and was found to be carrying a rangefinder – a gun sight typically used by hunters and marksmen preparing to shoot at distance.

But security officers allowed him in while keeping an eye on him until he left the secure area a short time later, the official said.
He then fell off the radar until shortly before 5.45pm when an officer with the Beaver County Police Department saw him acting suspiciously near the outer perimeter and took a photograph.

It was claimed on Monday that a team of police snipers was stationed in the AGR International building, and that they saw him outside three times in the minutes leading up to the attack.

A law enforcement official told CBS that no action was taken after one of the snipers first spotted Crooks looking up at the roof of the building.

The gunman disappeared around a corner before he was seen a second time, sitting down and looking at his phone, prompting one of the snipers to take his picture.

The sniper then radioed to a command post after seeing Crooks take out his rangefinder.

But no further action was taken before Crooks reappeared a third time, this time wearing a backpack and disappearing from sight as he walked to the back of the building.

A further radio report relaying the information was submitted by the sniper team who did not realize that Crooks was now scaling their building.

Channel 11 said multiple sources on Tuesday confirmed that Crooks was on the roof with a gun for fewer than seven minutes before he was confronted by a Butler Township police officer.

That officer retreated after Crooks swung his AR-style weapon in his direction leaving the killer free to aim at his target.

Investigators have yet to figure out a motive for Crooks who had a minimal social media presence, and are hoping his phone may hold some clues.

But they found a bulletproof vest, three fully-loaded magazines containing around 100 bullets, and two remote-controlled explosive devices in Crooks’ car after the shooting it emerged on Tuesday.

Another bulletproof vest, and third remote-controlled bomb was later discovered at the house he shared with his parents.

The latest revelation that a transmitter was also with him has raised fears that Crooks may have been planning to continue his killing spree if he had escaped from the roof with his life, and may have had an accomplice to help him.

Hours earlier Crooks had asked his boss for the day off, telling him he had ‘something to do’, before travelling to Saturday’s rally.

The would-be assassin told colleagues at the Bethel Park Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center that he would see them on Sunday.

But a Secret Service agent at the Butler rally ensured that he would be the last person Crooks saw as he locked eyes with the killer before shooting him dead, graphic video has revealed.

Agents found him in their sights and one pulled the trigger seconds after the 20-year-old shot dead Pennsylvania fire chief Corey Comperatore, critically injured two others and hit Trump in the right ear from his vantage point 147 yards away.

‘They were looking at him while he was looking at them,’ a senior federal law enforcement official told CNN.

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RNC Day 3: Full Speaker List and Schedule

The third day of the Republican National Convention will feature some of the party’s biggest names as the convention turns it focus to foreign affairs and “border security.”

Among the most notable highlights will be the first public address of Ohio Sen. JD Vance, named former President Donald Trump’s running mate this week, as well as Donald Trump Jr.

The theme for the third day of the convention will be “Make America Strong Once Again,” according to the GOP.

Here’s who will be speaking on Day 3 of the RNC:

RNC Day 3: Full speaker list and schedule

SESSION TIME: 5:38 PM – 9:58 PM CT

5:44PM – VIDEO

5:59PM – VIDEO

6:01PM – Rep. Brian Mast (FL-21)

6:04PM – Rep. Nancy Mace (SC-01)

6:07PM – Rep. Ronny Jackson (TX-13)

6:12PM – VIDEO

6:13PM – Ric Grenell, Former Acting Director of National Intelligence

6:17PM – Rep. Matt Gaetz (FL-01)

6:24PM – Callista Gingrich, Former Ambassador to the Holy See

6:32PM – Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

6:36PM – Peter Navarro, Former Director of the U.S. O`ice of Trade and Manufacturing Policy

6:44PM – Rep. Monica De La Cruz (TX-15)

6:47PM – Thomas Homan, Former Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement

6:50PM – David Lara – Business Owner and Community Activist

6:53PM – Jim Chilton – Rancher

7:02PM – Governor Greg Abbott (TX)

7:10PM – Sarah Philips – Petroleum Engineer

7:13PM – Mayor Trent Conway (East Palestine, Ohio)

7:16PM – Governor Doug Burgum (ND)

7:28PM – Kellyanne Conway, Former Counselor to the President

7:33PM – VIDEO

7:36PM – Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (FL-13)

7:40PM – Staff Sergeant David Bellavia Ret., Medal of Honor Recipient

7:43PM – Scott Neil – Decorated War Hero & Founder, Horse Soldier Bourbon

7:46PM – Kimberly Guilfoyle

8:05PM – Rep. Michael Waltz (FL-06)

8:08PM – VIDEO

8:14PM – Alicia Lopez and Herman Lopez // Cheryl Jules and Christy Shamblin. Gold Star Families

8:20PM – Performance – Brian Kelley, Country Music Artist, and the Holy Redeemer Church of God in Christ Choir. UNC Frat Boys.

8:25PM – Shabbos Kestenbaum – Jewish American & Alumnus, Harvard University

8:32PM – Neutra Family – Family of Hamas Hostage

8:35PM – VIDEO

8:37PM – Sergeant William Pekrul – Decorated War Hero, World War II and D-Day Veteran

9:00PM – Kai Trump, Daughter of Donald Trump Jr.

9:05PM – Donald Trump Jr.

9:27PM – Usha Chilukuri Vance, Wife of Senator J.D. Vance, Vice Presidential Nominee

9:31PM – Senator J.D. Vance, Vice Presidential Nominee

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