Reddit Blackout: Thousands of Subreddits Going Dark for 48 Hours
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Citizen Frank



More than 6,000 forums have gone dark in protest of the social forum website Reddit charging developers for access to its internal code, a protest that could leave users unable to use large portions of the website for days.

Several subreddits, or smaller forums dedicated to specific subjects on Reddit, set themselves to private on Monday, meaning users will not have access, including those who had previously subscribed. The protesting subreddits include some of the website’s largest, such as r/funny, r/aww, r/gaming, r/music, and r/science.

The moderators of the subreddits said they were protesting over the company charging developers for its once-free API, which third-party apps require in order to access a website’s content. Several Reddit app developers claim that the current pricing system is too much for their overhead costs, forcing them to shut down their apps.

“This isn’t something any of us do lightly: we do what we do because we love Reddit, and we truly believe this change will make it impossible to keep doing what we love,” the Redditor Toptomcat wrote in a r/Save3rdPartyApps post announcing the protest last week.

The protest is scheduled from June 12-14, although some subreddits may extend the shutdown until Reddit updates its API policy.

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman hosted an “Ask Me Anything” on Friday over the API changes, but the questioning session was poorly received. Several users slammed Huffman, calling him a coward and stating they lost his trust.

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NYT: Dem Donors Freeze $90 Million Cash, Demanding Biden to Step Down from Race

A number of donors have told the largest super PAC supporting President Biden that they are keeping their wallets and checkbooks closed while the 81-year-old remains the presumptive Democratic nominee.

The frozen pledges to Future Forward are worth approximately $90 million — and include multiple contributions of $10 million or more, the New York Times reported Friday, citing two sources familiar with the situation.

One donor told the outlet that he had rebuffed approaches by Future Forward for contributions multiple times since Biden shocked the world with his disastrous performance in his June 27 debate with presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump.

The report is another indication that Democratic bundlers have soured on Biden since the debate and have been agitating for the party to replace the president with another candidate — likely Vice President Kamala Harris.

As of Friday afternoon, 20 congressional Democrats had called on Biden to bow out of the 2024 race, with many saying they felt he could not beat Trump, 78.

The identities of the rebel donors were kept private, while an associate of another bundler, billionaire LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, ripped the move as a mistake.

“A funding freeze is a problematic strategy at this point in the election cycle,” said the associate, Rae Steward, who called on donors to give instead to progressive “issue groups” who are “agnostic about who is at the top of the ticket.”

On Wednesday, actor George Clooney, who co-hosted a $30 million fundraiser for Biden last month, called on the incumbent to leave the race, saying Democrats “are not going to win in November with this president.”

Since the debate, opinions about Biden’s political future have been split — with donors and back-bench lawmakers calling on him to get out and House and Senate leadership largely standing by the president.

“I think everyone will be talking over Friday, Saturday and by Sunday you should have some idea of what’s going on,” Sen. Joe Manchin (I-WV) told reporters Thursday.

Hours later, Biden gave an hour-long press conference to cap the NATO summit in Washington that was studded with errors, including when he referred to Harris as “Vice President Trump” while the audience gasped and groaned.

“The president was able to answer questions that Donald Trump couldn’t even begin to understand,” a Democratic source told The Post Friday when asked for the state of play inside the party, “but, regrettably, those aren’t the questions the American people are asking or worried over right now.”

Biden has repeatedly insisted he will remain in the campaign to the end, arguing that he is the only Democrat proven to have defeated Trump at the ballot box.

“I’m determined on running but I think it’s important that I allay fears by letting them see me out there,” Biden said Thursday during the news conference. “There is so much we can do still and I’m determined to get it done.”

“There are other people who could beat Trump too, but it’s awful hard to start from scratch.”

Biden also insisted that he is fit to serve another four years, and only needed to “pace myself a little more” to avoid a performance like the one he gave at the debate.

However, the president’s campaign has already begun poll-testing Harris head-to-head against Trump, while OpenLabs, a progressive polling non-profit associated with Future Forward, has also surveyed voters on their feelings toward Harris and other potential Democrat picks.

In one OpenLabs poll taken in the aftermath of the debate, the president fared the worst compared to his Democrat counterparts. Adjusted for name recognition, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg came out on top with 301 expected electoral votes, followed by Michigan.Gov. Gretchen Whitmer with 290.

Biden got only 223 electoral votes, while Harris came in at 240 and California Gov. Gavin Newsom got 235.

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Alec Baldwin’s Rust Manslaughter Case Dismissed

In a dramatic turn of events, Alec Baldwin‘s involuntary manslaughter trial for the fatal 2021 shooting of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was dismissed Friday over “critical evidence” that a New Mexico judge ruled had been concealed.

“The state has repeatedly made representations to defense and to the court that they were compliant with all their discovery obligations,” New Mexico Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer said in her ruling from the bench just now. “Despite their repeated representations, they have continued to fail to disclose critical evidence to the defendant.”

“The state is highly culpable for its failure to provide discovery to the defendant,” Sommer added in a measured tone. “Dismissal with prejudice is warranted,” she concluded.

The ruling ends any hope of the state recharging Baldwin again.

Breaking down in tears at the defense table, the multi-Emmy-winning actor was in the courtroom when Sommer announced her ruling on the defense motion to dismiss based on concealed evidence that Baldwin’s lawyer filed late Thursday, relating to ammunition brought to police by an ex-cop.

The decision by Sommer on Friday, at the end of an evidentiary hearing over a defense motion to dismiss over bullets dropped off to Santa Fe police in recent weeks by ex-Arizona cop Troy Teske, could also mean the release of incarcerated Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed from New Mexico state prison.

With the constant chorus of local police missteps, blatant professional incompetence, DA stumbles and eccentrics that has been center stage in this matter since that terrible day almost three years ago, the dismissal of the case was simultaneously shocking and not that unexpected.

Hutchins was fatally shot, and Rust director Joel Souza was injured, on October 21, 2021 after the Colt .45 Baldwin was pointing at the cinematographer fired off a live round during a rehearsal at the Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe where the indie Western was filming. Facing up to 18 months in state prison if found guilty, Baldwin has always insisted that while he cocked the hammer, he did not pull the trigger and the gun somehow went off on its own. The FBI, an independent analysis and, yesterday in court the man who actual made the gun all disagreed with Baldwin’s contention — which we will likely never know definitively now.

After nervous Rust ammunition supplier Seth Kenney and a series of Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office members gave testimony Friday, including bodycam footage of Teske bringing the ammunition to the cop shop, an exasperated special prosecutor Kari Morrissey decided to roll the dice and take the stand herself.

Although Rust armorer Gutierrez-Reed was sentenced to 18 months in a state prison after being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, no full explanation has ever been given for how a live round got on the Rust set.

Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyers plan to file a motion for her release ASAP, I hear; Sommer was also the judge in the armorer’s trial. Gutierrez-Reed had been brought to Santa Fe earlier this week from prison, where she is serving her sentence, in the assumption she would be a witness in Baldwin’s trial as soon as today.

Just three days into what was supposed to be a nearly two-week trial, Erlinda Johnson, one of the special prosecutors in the case, resigned. The sudden move came because Johnson, who only joined the case a couple of months ago, didn’t agree with there being a public hearing on the move by Baldwin’s Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to see the matter tossed to the legal curb.

“I could see it was not at all similar to the live rounds on the set of Rust so I made the decision not to collect the rounds since they had never left Arizona,” Morrissey told the court on the record, as she and police officials had stated before of the ammunition brought in by Teske.

A close friend of Thell Reed, the iconic Hollywood gun coach and father of Gutierrez-Reed, Teske was never called as a witness in the armorer’s trial this spring and the defendant’s own lawyer Jason Bowles said he didn’t want them, according to Morrissey Not long afterwards, Teske took the ammunition to the police – something the defense claims it was just informed of despite requiring all the evidence in the case.

Over the months since Baldwin was recharged earlier this year, the defense had quibbled over and over about evidence, discovery and tactics with what has sometimes seen like a battle of locals versus city slickers. In that context, New York City-based defense lawyer Alex Spiro today accused Morrissey of not liking Baldwin personally. Almost spitting out the words, Spiro claimed Morrissey has called Baldwin “an arrogant prick” and a “c*cksucker” in the past.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Morrissey replied, insisting that she likes a number of Baldwin’s movies, SNL appearances and “his politics.” The special prosecutor also tried to state on the record that she offered Baldwin, a longtime Democrat, a plea deal early this year.

Before Morrissey could get far down that route, she was shut down by both Spiro and Sommer. “I never said to witnesses that I would teach him a lesson,” Morrissey added to further claims by Spiro. “Absolutely not.”

There was talk about a new possible plea deal today, sources tell me, but that never came together. On the other hand, with a TLC reality show in the works likely to pay some of those sizable legal bills and a couple of documentaries on the Rust calamity in production, Baldwin’s freedom from criminal prosecution could see the well-respected actor back on the big and small screen in scripted roles as a big draw for the first time in years.

A career resurrection that might begin with Rust itself.

As the march towards this trial and that of Gutierrez-Reed moved slowly forward, the one time Jensen Ackles co-starring film was brought back last year without the young armorer or the Supernatural actor. Rust 2.0 completed production in Montana in early 2023 with Souza was as director, and Baldwin as star and producer. The now-finished Rust hasn’t secured a buyer nor distributor. Some sources have said that was always the plan until Baldwin’s legal woes were over. Others have told Deadline that the film has been actively shopped at film markets to no success. That might change in short order now that Baldwin’s criminal trial is old news.

Having left the courtroom and likely Santa Fe in a hurry Friday after Sommer’s ruling, Baldwin hasn’t quite left his Rust legal troubles in the dust. The actor is up against several civil cases in California and New Mexico courts related to the film he conjured up with Souza and the terrible shooting on the movie’s set.

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Judge Dismisses Giuliani Bankruptcy, Allowing Creditors to Try to Seize His Assets

Rudy Giuliani is no longer entitled to bankruptcy protection, a judge decided Friday, making it possible for creditors to immediately pursue his assets within days.

The former mayor of New York sought bankruptcy protection after a jury awarded two Georgia election workers $148 million because Giuliani defamed them after the 2020 election. The judge’s decision Friday, to end his bankruptcy, paves the way for Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, as well as other creditors, who are trying to collect on the more than $150 million Giuliani owes.

Judge Sean Lane of the federal bankruptcy court in New York made the decision partly because of Giuliani’s lack of transparency after he filed for bankruptcy more than six months ago.

Lane highlighted in his 22-page opinion that Giuliani hadn’t provided any insight whatsoever into the books of companies he solely owns, and that have taken in thousands of dollars in wire transfers in recent weeks. The judge also said Giuliani hasn’t been fully transparent with his creditors – such as by not fully explaining on time an upcoming book contract he has, or keeping his personal earnings from a radio show and podcast coming into one of the corporate accounts.

“Mr. Giuliani has failed to provide an accurate and complete picture of his financial affairs in the six months that this case has been pending,” Lane wrote in his decision Friday. “The lack of financial transparency is particularly troubling given concerns that Mr. Giuliani has engaged in self-dealing and that he has potential conflicts of interest that would hamper the administration of his bankruptcy case.”

Giuliani – once Time magazine’s Person of the Year and a fixture in New York society – says he is now worth about $10.6 million, with nearly all of that wealth in the value of two apartments he owns, in New York City and in Palm Beach, Florida.

Moss and Freeman plan to seek liens on those properties in the coming days, according to their lawyers.

In a statement provided by a spokesman, Giuliani cast himself Friday as a man being punished for his role in politics in recent years.

“We will continue to pursue justice and we are confident that—in the long run—our system of justice will be restored and the mayor will be totally vindicated,” Giuliani’s spokesman Ted Goodman said in the statement.

Giuliani’s attorneys have indicated he plans to appeal the defamation jury verdict in favor of Moss and Freeman and that he may fight them in state court on any liens they seek.

In addition to the $6 million, three-bedroom co-op apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and the $3.5 million condo on the Intracoastal Waterway in Florida, Giuliani’s creditors will also be able to try to seize his bank accounts, a Mercedes-Benz sports car, his collection of 26 luxury watches, three World Series championship rings for the New York Yankees, and other baseball memorabilia, like a signed Joe DiMaggio shirt he claims to own.

The worth of those other assets is unclear, as creditors accuse Giuliani of downplaying or not disclosing complete estimates of the value of what he owns. The creditors believe one World Series ring alone would sell for nearly $30,000, according to court filings in his bankruptcy case.

Giuliani also says in bankruptcy filings that the state of California owes him more than $10,000 related to overpaid taxes from his appearance on the TV singing game show “The Masked Singer,” according to bankruptcy filings.

Giuliani also said in filings in recent weeks that he expects to be paid tens of thousands of dollars from various ventures: coffee beans being marketed with his name and image, and a documentary that’s been in the works for years.

The court decision on Friday, announced by Lane in White Plains, New York, marks a long, slow decline for Giuliani, largely related to his work as a lawyer for former President Donald Trump after the 2020 election.

Giuliani lost his law license in New York last week because he had pushed false information in court challenging the election results on behalf of Trump. He is also fighting criminal charges in Arizona and Georgia related to Trump’s efforts to undermine his electoral loss. Giuliani has pleaded not guilty in both cases.

Giuliani agreed to end his bankruptcy proceedings, after Freeman and Moss suggested that approach earlier this week. They and other creditors had become furious with the lack of transparency he provided into his assets.

The creditors argued to the judge in recent days that Giuliani was exploiting the bankruptcy system to avoid having to pay his debts, and was acting in bad faith. That accusation prompted outbursts from Giuliani in court, claiming he was the one being defamed.

In addition to Moss and Freeman, Giuliani owes more $1 million in taxes, tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid phone bills, and more than $1 million to a law firm where a close friend represented him through past investigations.

Several other companies and people, such as a former assistant and the voting machine companies Smartmatic and Dominion, are suing him too.

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Axios: Obama, Pelosi, Carville, Hillary and Bill Clinton Are Working Behind the Scenes to Get Rid of Biden

President Biden beat back the initial public campaign by Democrats to oust him from the party’s presidential ticket, swiftly and decisively. But very-connected Democrats, mostly veterans of the Obama and Clinton administrations, are plotting hourly to get him to withdraw quickly.

They’re commissioning polls, lobbying former presidents, back-channeling Democratic leaders, organizing donors and taking the fight to Biden in a very public way.

They’re the unofficial Committee to Unelect the President. The mission: Push Biden out of the presidential race — the sooner, the better.

This loose anti-Biden network is growing by the day — and is circulating polls showing Democrats would shoot from sure losers to big winners with a new ticket. Some donors are talking of a massive financial commitment to any non-Biden presidential ticket.

These Democrats see the race in stark, black-and-white terms: Just three states matter — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. That’s the Blue Wall, all of which Biden won in 2020.

And they see an obvious solution: Forget the niceties of backing Biden or even Vice President Harris. Be ruthless about finding the two people most likely to win those three states.

The anti-Biden Democrats are trading texts, emails and polling, fighting fellow Democrats on TV and X, and circulating stories and arguments by sympathetic journalists and columnists, including Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias.

Members of this notional committee tell us there’s no hidden hand — no command and control. Instead, these are all people who’ve worked together on past campaigns.

“No one is more than one person away from everyone else,” a central player told us. And almost all are one step away from former presidents Obama or Clinton.

James Carville, who helped propel Bill Clinton into the Oval Office, told us Clinton and Obama are sending a clear message by vanishing after they tweeted support for Biden the day after the debate.

“Silence is a very loud form of speech,” Carville said. “No one is saying ‘come hell or high water.'”

Obama has spoken privately with former Speaker Pelosi over their “concerns” about Biden’s viability, CNN reports.

No one’s sure the pressure campaign is working. It all depends on Biden, who controls the party’s delegates and cannot be defeated for the nomination if he stays in — no matter how bleak the outlook for November.

“You need a psychiatrist more than a spin doctor,” a veteran operative told me.

A “fatalism” and “sense of resignation” grip the party from coast to coast. “The Clinton diaspora is freaking the hell out,” said one alumnus of Clinton’s White House. “But all these people going on the record aren’t helping. All it seems to have done is cause the Bidens to dig in deeper.”

In what one operative called a “donor strike,” top party benefactors — who don’t want to be named, because they know a donor-led revolt would backfire — are moving money away from Biden, and into House and Senate campaigns as a hedge against a victory by former President Trump.

The committee includes:

Former Obama aides: The strained relationship between Obama and Biden extends to their former aides, including David Axelrod (Obama’s ruthlessly pragmatic chief strategist) and the influential “Pod Save America” guys. Biden has reportedly called Axelrod a “prick,” and threw shade at him — “Oh! You’re kidding” — during Monday’s call-in on “Morning Joe.” The pod guys — Obama alumni Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Tommy Vietor and Dan Pfeiffer — have irritated Biden’s camp by arguing for a new candidate. Lovett writes that it’s “hard to deny that in the two weeks since the debate, it’s the arrogant and small Joe Biden we’ve seen most.”

Former Clinton advisers: Carville, appearing all over the cable dial, says unsparingly that a new candidate is inevitable, whether the president admits it or not. Keeping him would be “an idiotic choice for the future of this country,” Carville told Anderson Cooper on CNN.

Elected Dems: Massive pressure is building from rank-and-file members of the Democratic caucus. One Democratic senator (Peter Welch of Vermont) and 17 House Democrats have publicly called for Biden to drop out. Scores more are furious at the White House for pushing them to support a president they view as unelectable.

Swing-seat Dems: This is the group that really matters. Vulnerable Democrats have a clear-eyed view of the president’s prospects. These Dems will abandon him — some already have — if they sense their seats are in jeopardy.

The donor class: George Clooney, who headlined the largest fundraiser in Democratic Party history last month, is the leading voice of a growing number of Hollywood types who want Biden to end his candidacy. The group includes Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings and Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel (Rahm’s brother).

Late-night liberals: Stephen Colbert — who moderated a major Biden fundraiser at Radio City in March — strongly suggested the president should step aside: “I think that Biden debated as well as Abraham Lincoln, if you dug him up right now.” Jon Stewart has escalated pleas for the nominee to be someone else. He hosted Favreau and Vietor on his podcast yesterday.

N.Y. Times Opinion: Debate-night columns by Tom Friedman and Nick Kristoff gave way to full-throated editorials — all saying Biden must go.

Biden aides busily leaking: “Some longtime aides and advisers to President Biden,” the N.Y. Times reports, “have become increasingly convinced that he will have to step aside from the campaign, and in recent days they have been trying to come up with ways to persuade him that he should.”

Two prominent ex-Biden aides — former White House communications director Kate Bedingfield and press secretary Jen Psaki — have suggested Harris as a promising alternative.

Neither specifically called for Biden to step aside. But both have softly criticized the campaign’s strategy and said he needs to put forward a coherent path to victory.

Axelrod — who’s making the case for Biden’s withdrawal two or three times a day as CNN’s senior political commentator — told us he aims to be “both realistic and respectful.”

“President Biden is a historic figure, and a lot of that is gonna be tainted if he persists and loses this race,” Axelrod told us. “The people around him have [a collective] hundreds of years of campaign experience. They know how to interpret data. They know how to read the moment. It’s just a question of whether their affection for him clouds that.”

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Elon Musk Donates to Pro-Trump Super PAC: Report

Tech magnate Elon Musk has donated a “sizable amount” to the America PAC, which supports former President Donald Trump, according to Bloomberg.

It’s the first time this election cycle that Musk has endorsed or financially backed a presidential candidate.

Musk, who has shown right-leaning views on X, the social media platform he owns along with Tesla, is considered the richest man in the world.

The donation comes as Democrats have blasted President Joe Biden with calls to step down and donors have threatened to freeze funds to his presidential campaign if he doesn’t.

Trump largely trailed in fundraising until he was convicted in his Manhattan hush money trial in May, a month in which the campaign raised $141 million.

The cash injection closed the gap between Trump and Biden in cash on hand, and Musk’s donation could add to that.

America PAC generally deals with bolstering the Trump campaign’s ground game.

Trump and Musk have been rumored to be close as it appeared the former president was weighing an advisory role for him if Trump won the presidency again.

In a Tesla annual meeting last month, Musk said, “[Trump] does call me out of the blue for no reason.”

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Pentagon: President Has Sole Ability to Launch Nuclear Weapons

I’m going to refresh your memory about an incident involving the Presidential Emergency Satchel, colloquially known as the “nuclear football.” That’s the leather briefcase carried by a rotating cast of military aides traveling with the president that contains secret atomic war plans, codes and highly classified documents. There’s also a backup “football” carried by a military aide shadowing the vice president, in case the president can’t communicate to the Pentagon orders to launch a nuclear attack.

On Jan. 6, 2021, rioters who stormed the Capitol came within 100 feet of Vice President Mike Pence and the backup football. That spooked some lawmakers, and prompted them to ask the Defense Department’s inspector general to look into security procedures for the nuclear football. The IG issued a report about its review a couple years ago. Even though the document was classified as top secret and kept under wraps, I was able to pry loose a copy under the Freedom of Information Act. Not surprisingly, the report was heavily redacted. Still, I was able to glean a few interesting details. Keep reading to learn more.

Good news. If the nuclear football is “lost, stolen or compromised,” the DOD “has procedures to ensure only the U.S. president can authorize the use of nuclear weapons,” according to the IG’s October 2022 report.

Wait, is that good news? I think we all agree that we don’t want the president to bring on the apocalypse. But it’s a relief to know that if a rogue nation, terrorist or Jan. 6th-type rioter intercept the football, they’d likely fumble trying to access our nuclear arsenal.

That’s the only major takeaway, and probably the most important, from the 38-page report, which remains classified at the top secret level. The rest of it is so heavily redacted that it’s impossible to glean additional details beyond the assurances the IG provided. But there’s a few notable pieces of information.

“Grave national security concerns”

First, a refresher on the inspector general’s review and how it got off the ground.

On March 16, 2021, Democratic Representatives Stephen Lynch and Jim Cooper, chairmen of the House Oversight and Reform and Armed Services subcommittees, sent a letter to DOD Acting Inspector General Sean O’Donnell.

Lynch and Cooper noted that during the Senate’s impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump in February 2021, footage was played that showed Pence being whisked away as a “violent mob” came dangerously close to him — and the military aide carrying the backup football.

Their letter also said it wasn’t the first time the nuclear football was compromised. They referenced a 2017 incident in China that reportedly involved a brawl over the nuclear football with former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

Lynch and Cooper said the double episodes raised “grave national security concerns” and prompted the need for a review to determine “whether any security protocols and procedures may have been violated.”

The IG “should also examine how DOD is prepared to respond to an incident whereby an unauthorized user gains access to a nuclear football.”

The inspector general’s review found [redacted]

The IG’s office spent nearly a year on its security review. It issued a final report on Oct. 14, 2022. I requested it on June 1, 2023, right after the watchdog’s office publicly revealed that it had wrapped up its work. It took nearly a year to get a copy because it was classified top secret and therefore had to go through a classification review.

The IG’s FOIA office explained that it withheld the most sensitive information that relates to “military plans, weapon systems, or operations” and remains classified under an Obama-era presidential executive order.

Even the Defense Department’s one-page definition of “lost, stolen or compromised” was redacted.

The IG’s team interviewed a handful of officials at the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and reviewed classified and unclassified military documents related to nuclear operations, communications and policy. The report concluded that there is absolutely no way an adversary can authenticate the president’s identity and transmit nuclear launch plans, and made no recommendations.

I reached out to Stephen Schwartz, the preeminent authority on the nuclear football and author of the book Atomic Audit, which chronicles the true cost of the nuclear weapons program. Much like storm chasers, Schwartz keeps close tabs on the briefcase, albeit from a safe distance, and shares photographs of its movements on social media.

I wanted his take on the report and whether he thought the document had value despite the redactions. He said the report is “reasonably helpful in figuring some things out,” and that its public release was potentially designed to give “a modicum of reassurance to those of us who don’t have access to classified information.” In a way, no news is good news.

“The fact that there were no recommendations suggests to me that the IG’s office and the people responsible for the whole apparatus of the Presidential Emergency Satchel didn’t feel like anything bad enough happened that they needed to take any specific action,” Schwartz told FOIA Files. “I’m not surprised that they have a fairly rigorous set of procedures to make sure nothing happens to this satchel.” After all, he said, “it contains the holiest of holies in terms of nuclear weapons data.”

Schwartz added that the report is noteworthy because the review was sparked by a domestic incident, not an international one.

“January 6th was a real wake up call,” he said. Typically, “they’re worried about foreign actors” and “not US citizens at the United States capital somehow getting uncomfortably close to this.”

Still, it would be incredibly insightful to get a chance to look behind the redactions. In particular we might learn what would happen in the event that the strike options in the nuclear decision handbook, also known as the black book, are compromised. But for now, the public will just have to be satisfied with the report’s assurance that it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

In a memo, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also “assured the Speaker of the House that a very specific and deliberate process governs a nuclear launch.” The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs “repeatedly stated that the DOD has processes, protocols, and procedures in place such that there is no chance of an illegal, unauthorized, or accidental launch.”

The memo also said the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs met with his deputies and military intelligence officials to confirm that the security procedures for the nuclear football are practiced daily.

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Sen. Menendez’s Fate Now in Hands of Manhattan Jury

After nine weeks and well over a million words of testimony and lawyer arguments, jurors in Sen. Bob Menendez’s corruption trial began deliberations on Friday afternoon.

They will decide whether a sprawling, yearslong federal investigation and high-stakes political prosecution is a righteous takedown of a corrupt New Jersey Democrat or a catastrophic and misguided waste of time.

Their decision will determine the fate of a famed New Jersey politician who wielded enormous influence on the local, national and world stage over the course of his 50-year career. At 70, a guilty verdict could very well mean Menendez will spend the rest of his life in prison. But an acquittal — or hung jury, like in his 2017 trial — would amount to a historic and extraordinary legal feat for a senator who has long accused the Justice Department of “hunting” him.

The jury left for the weekend without reaching a verdict. Afterward, Menendez said: “I have faith in God and in the jury.”

The corruption case is, to be sure, complex. Prosecutors allege the senator was involved in a series of overlapping schemes to disrupt state and federal criminal investigations and help Egypt obtain American military aid in exchange for cash and gold found when the FBI searched his home.

But prosecutors from the Southern District of New York say their case boils down to a simple story about an entitled elected official selling himself. The trial opened in mid-May with jurors being shown those goods — piles of cash and over a dozen bars of gold.

The 12 jurors, who included a doctor and retired economist, have a daunting task ahead.

Prosecutors are attempting to prove beyond a reasonable doubt 18 separate charges against Menendez, a pair of businesspeople and the senator’s wife Nadine. A third businessperson already pleaded guilty and testified against Menendez. His wife will be tried separately because of a breast cancer diagnosis.

On Thursday and Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Sidney Stein spent about four hours giving the jurors instructions.

Some of those jury instructions were based on relatively fresh Supreme Court rulings that have made it harder than ever for prosecutors to combat political corruption.

And whatever jurors decide may not be the final word. If they convict Menendez on one or more of the 16 counts he faces, the senator will almost certainly appeal.

At the most basic level, the jurors main task ahead is who to believe: prosecutors or Menendez.

Yet, it became clear in the final days of the trial that there is a third side of the story.

Attorneys for the senator’s co-defendants — Egyptian-American meat mogul Wael “Will” Hana and prominent New Jersey developer and longtime Menendez friend Fred Daibes — acknowledged or left open the possibility that their clients gave gifts of cash or gold to the Menendezes that the senator’s legal team spent the whole trial suggesting he did not receive.

Instead, Hana and Daibes’ defense is that cash and gold was not given in exchange for any particular official act by the senator. Stein’s jury instructions included a relatively novel section that made clear not every gift to a public official, like Menendez, is a bribe.

“Were these bribes or were they gifts, were they something criminal, or were they something generous?” Hana attorney Larry Lustberg told jurors. “Don’t, as the government asks you to do over and over and over, just assume the worst.”

While all the defendants argued there were no bribes, the competing defenses add to what the jurors must reconcile.

“They didn’t give me any gifts whatsoever,” Menendez told POLITICO as he left the courthouse on Wednesday.

But authorities found Daibes’ fingerprints on envelopes of cash found in the Menendez home and have traced back some of the cash to when it was printed and put into circulation. The fingerprints of Hana associates have been found on other envelopes.

At other times, Menendez’s attorneys have tried to portray their client’s wife as doing things behind his back. Daniel Richenthal, one of the federal prosecutors, urged jurors to reject this defense.

“I’m not making fun of her,” he told jurors Thursday. “But does she strike you as a diabolical genius who concocts a plan with Menendez’s friend and Wael Hana to dupe him for five years, including when they’re living together? You think that she could have even pulled that off if she tried?”

No matter what the jury decides, Menendez’s political life is all but over, though he is mounting a long-shot reelection bid as an independent.

Until he was indicted last fall, Menendez was among the most powerful people in the world as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a post he was forced out of amid accusations from this case that he was working as an agent of the Egyptian government.

In a sign of how diminished he is, compare where he was on primary day in New Jersey. As Menendez was stuck in court on June 4 listening to an FBI investigator testify about a stakeout that caught him dining with an Egyptian intelligence officer, New Jersey Democrats went to the polls and selected Rep. Andy Kim as his likely replacement.

But Menendez is not going to go down without a fight.

Almost each day of the trial, his team of attorneys have made objections meant to preserve grounds for an appeal and provoke Judge Stein into making a ruling that could be used to overturn the whole case.

The judge’s mid-trial rulings have ranged from mundane instructions on basic rules of evidence to complex interpretations of the Constitution’s speech or debate clause. That language was meant by the nation’s founders to insulate members of Congress as they deliberate, and is seen by Menendez’s attorneys as fertile ground to plant an appeal aimed at Supreme Court justices who are increasingly hawkish in carving out immunity for elected officials.

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Matthew McConaughey Floats Political Run

Actor Matthew McConaughey on Friday once again floated the idea of running for political office while speaking to legislators at the National Governors Association (NGA) in Salt Lake City, Utah.

McConaughey, known for his acting roles in an array of legal dramas and romantic comedies, has mulled the idea of entering politics in his home state of Texas several times, including speculation about running for governor of the Lone Star State in 2022. He has also been politically involved on the issue of gun control, having met with President Joe Biden after the mass shooting in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas, in 2022.

Despite much speculation, the actor has not formally stated his political affiliation, leaving many to wonder what party, if any, he would align with should he seek office.

The Associated Press (AP) reported that when McConaughey was asked by New Jersey’s Democratic Governor Phil Murphy about his political plans at the NGA summer conference, the star said, “I’m on a learning tour and have been for probably the last six years.”

He added, “Do I have the instincts and intellect that it would be a good fit for me and I would be a good for it. You know, would I be useful?”

Hawaii’s Democratic Governor Josh Green reportedly encouraged the actor’s potential run, but warned him not to “fall into the trap to think you should be just one thing.”

“A lot of Republicans will want you to be Republican and a lot of Democrats will want you to be a Democrat, just be you because that might be something special for all of us,” Green said, per the AP.

The NGA, a bipartisan group of governors across the country, hosts annual meetings for leaders to discuss and address state and national issues, as well as broader political conversations.

McConaughey joined the group as a guest speaker on a panel with NGA chair Utah’s Republican Governor Spencer Cox and NGA vice chair Colorado Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat, about the “role of culture in polarization,” according to the event’s press release. The panel was centered on Cox’s “Disagree Better” campaign, which argues that “Americans need to disagree better,” and that “healthy conflict” can produce better policy when correctly engaged.

McConaughey, who is a supporter of the campaign, spoke about the current state of political affairs, saying, “We seem to be in a bad situation right now: The extremes seem to be going further left and further right. Decency doesn’t seem to be on the table.”

“I’m in the entertainment business. Our leaders don’t need to be in the entertainment business,” McConaughey said, adding, “The leadership, and especially the government, don’t need to look like an episode of The Real Housewives.”

He concluded his thought by saying, “It can change. I think we’re all hungry for it. America is hungry for it.”

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Massive AT&T Hack Compromises Phone, Text Records of ‘Nearly All’ Customers

AT&T experienced a massive hack of user data for nearly all of its mobile phone customers in 2022, the company announced Friday.

The hack is one of the biggest private communications data breaches in recent history, per Bloomberg.

The stolen data includes “records of calls and texts of nearly all of AT&T’s cellular customers,” other customers using AT&T’s wireless network, and “At&T’s landline customers who interacted with those cellular numbers between May 1, 2022 – October 31, 2022,” AT&T said in a statement Friday.

The breach also included a data from a small portion of customers dating to early January 2023.

The company learned in April that hackers had successfully downloaded customer data from its third-party cloud service, per the statement.

The company initially disclosing the hack in a regulatory filing.

Hackers did not obtain the content of the calls or texts, users’ personal information, or the time stamps of the calls or texts, AT&T said.

However, while customer names were not leaked, it is possible they could be gleaned using other publicly available tools, the company warned.

The Federal Communications Commission said Friday that it has an “ongoing investigation into the AT&T breach” and is working with other law enforcement partners.

AT&T said it is working with law enforcement and has “taken steps to close off the illegal access point.”

“We understand that at least one person has been apprehended,” the company added.

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WATCH: Biden Calls Zelensky ‘Putin’ Then Refers to Vice-President ‘Trump’

Joe Biden has referred to Volodymyr Zelensky as “President Putin” and Kamala Harris as “Vice President Trump”, in a pair of significant gaffes set to worsen the crisis engulfing his presidency.

The US president, who is facing calls to stand down over concerns about his age, confused the Ukrainian president with the Russian leader on stage at an international summit.

He then referred to Ms Harris, his vice president, as “Vice President Trump”.

The gaffes came at the end of a Nato summit in Washington DC, which had been pitched as an opportunity to rescue Mr Biden’s ailing reelection campaign.

Standing on a stage with 23 other allied world leaders, Mr Biden spoke for several minutes about the importance of protecting Ukraine from Russian aggression, before turning to Mr Zelensky and introducing him by the wrong name.

“Now, I want to hand over to the President of Ukraine, who has as much courage as he has determination,” he said. “Ladies and gentlemen: President Putin.”

He returned to the microphone and attempted to explain the error. “I’m so focused on beating Putin,” he said.

“I’m better,” Mr Zelensky replied.

“You’re a hell of a lot better,” Mr Biden said back.


Ninety minutes later, during a second press conference, Mr Biden was asked whether Kamala Harris was qualified to take over his job if necessary.

“I wouldn’t have picked Vice President Trump to be vice president, that I think she was not qualified to be president,” he replied.


Donald Trump immediately seized on the moment, writing on social media: “Great job, Joe!”

Within minutes, the clips were being circulated online by official Republican Party accounts.

Mr Biden later defended his health, but said he must do more to “allay” concerns by appearing more often at public events.

The president’s advisers had been braced for the possibility of more errors on the world stage, after two weeks of criticism for his performance at the presidential debate on June 27.

The two slip-ups produced more calls for Mr Biden to end his campaign and make way for a younger candidate.

Jim Himes, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the Democrats must put forward the “strongest candidate possible” to beat Trump, and he “no longer believe[s] that is Joe Biden”.

Polls show that Mr Biden’s popularity has tanked since the debate. He is now behind Trump in almost all swing states, and some previously safe blue states are now “in play” in November.

Thursday’s incidents came as aides worked on a pitch to convince Mr Biden to stand down his presidential campaign, amid concerns he can “never recover” from questions raised about his age in the last two weeks.

Aides on the US president’s campaign and White House teams are working out how to persuade him to leave the race, after concluding that he has no chance of beating Trump.

Earlier this week, the Hollywood star and Democrat donor George Clooney called for Mr Biden to abandon his campaign, while the former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stopped short of defending his decision to remain in the race.

Mr Biden’s press conference at the end of the Nato summit was the first event of its kind for eight months.

The US president gave remarks and took questions from journalists for an hour, defending his record on the economy and foreign policy. He also addressed concerns about his age.

Insisting he would stay in the race, he said: “I’m not in this for my legacy. I’m in this to complete the job I started. I think I’m the best qualified person to do the job.”

He said he was “ready” to deal with Mr Putin and Xi Jinping “now, and three years from now”, when he will be 84 years old. He said the “gravity of the situation” required his experience in office.

But Mr Biden also acknowledged that he had dealt poorly with recent criticism from his own party, describing his errors on the debate stage two weeks ago as “stupid”.

“I’m determined on running, but I think it’s important that I allay fears by letting them see me out there,” he said.

Defending his health, he added: “My schedule has been full bore. So if I slow down and I can’t get the job done, that’s a sign that I shouldn’t be doing it, but there’s no indication of that yet — none.”

He denied a story that he intended to go to bed at 8pm every night, but said he thought it was important to “pace myself”.

“I love my staff, but they add things. They add things all the time. I’m catching hell from my wife,” he said.

Asked whether he would take a cognitive test, he replied: “I’ve taken three significant and intense neurological exams by a neurosurgeon, by a neurologist… as recently as February and they say I’m in good shape.”

“The only thing age does is it creates a little bit of wisdom if you pay attention”.

Mr Biden was asked repeatedly whether he planned to step down if polling data showed that Ms Harris would be more likely to beat Trump in the election.

He replied: “No, unless they came back and said, ‘there’s no way you can win’.”

Leaning into the microphone to whisper to the audience, he added: “No one is saying that. No poll says that.”

He had previously said that only “Lord Almighty” could convince him to step down.

Some Democrats praised Mr Biden for his performance in the latter half of the press conference, when he spoke in detail and without notes on US relations with China, South Korea and Russia.

David Axelrod, a former Barack Obama aide who has called for him to step down, said he was “very comfortable on national security issues”.

However, Mr Biden’s two gaffes in the final hours of the 75th anniversary Nato summit will overshadow three days of intense diplomacy by its member states, as discussion turns to the future of his campaign.

Sir Keir Starmer waved away Mr Biden’s confusion between Mr Zelensky and Mr Putin in his own press conference, arguing that the US president “should be given credit” for the summit.

Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, said that “slips of tongue happen”, while Emmanuel Macron, the French president, said Mr Biden was “in charge” and on top of matters.

Mr Biden repeatedly referred to other Nato leaders while defending his record.

He said this week’s Nato summit had been the most successful “for a long time”, and that attendees thanked him for bringing them together.

“I know it sounds self-serving, but other leaders and heads of state have thanked me, saying: ‘The reason we’re together is because of Biden’,” he said.

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Obama, Pelosi Have Spoken Privately About Biden

Former President Barack Obama and ex-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke privately this week about their growing concerns for President Biden’s 2024 re-election campaign — as a growing number of “very connected Democrats” plot to get him to drop out quickly, according to reports.

Obama and Pelosi are said to have discussed how much harder they think it has become for the embattled 81-year-old president to beat his GOP rival, former President Donald Trump, but neither is sure what to do, sources told CNN.

A slew of Democrats have also been begging Obama and Pelosi behind the scenes to help quickly end the turmoil before even more damage is done just four months before the election, the sources added.

Biden has rejected mounting calls for him to give up his candidacy in the wake of his train-wreck first presidential debate against Trump on June 27.

Those cries will likely only get louder following his error-laden “big boy” press conference Thursday night, which had only been called to try to dispel the Democratic clamor for Biden to step aside.

“They are watching and waiting for President Biden to reach a decision on his own,” a longtime Democrat close to Obama, Pelosi and Biden told CNN.

Meanwhile, other sources told Axios that high-powered Democrats — mostly veterans of the Obama and Clinton administrations — have been plotting on an hourly basis on how best to get Biden to drop out.

The group, which the outlet dubbed the “unofficial Committee to Unelect the President,” has apparently been firing off a barrage of texts and emails, commissioning polls and organizing donors in a bid to get rid of him.

Instead of squeezing a defiant Biden and his family, the Dems in question have been trying to pressure the likes of Obama, Pelosi, the Clintons, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), according to the sources.

Obama’s team wouldn’t comment on the reports about his private discussions, while Pelosi’s suggested no one could have such insight.

“There is no member of Congress who would have any knowledge of any conversation that Speaker Pelosi would have with President Obama,” a Pelosi spokesperson said. “Anyone who says they do is not speaking the truth.”

The developments came just hours after Biden spoke in a raspy voice, frequently paused to cough and repeatedly lost his train of thought during his closely watched press conference in Washington on Thursday night.

He ended up calling Vice President Kamala Harris “Vice President Trump” — sparking immediate ridicule from his predecessor and 2024 GOP rival on social media.

“Crooked Joe begins his ‘Big Boy’ Press Conference with, ‘I wouldn’t have picked Vice President Trump to be vice president, though I think she was not qualified to be president.’ Great job, Joe!” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform.

The gaffe came soon after he introduced Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as “President [Vladimir] Putin” — confusing him with the Russian tyrant whose forces have waged war on Ukraine for two and a half years.

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Dem Congresswoman Calls on Biden to Resign

Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-WA) became the first Democrat on Capitol Hill to call on President Joe Biden to not only drop out of the presidential race, but to resign from office on Thursday.

“I’ve spent the past two weeks listening to my constituents express their concerns about the President’s age and health. Like most people I represent in Southwest Washington, I doubt the President’s judgement about his health, his fitness to do the job, and whether he is the one making important decisions about our country, rather than unelected advisors,” said Gluesenkamp Perez in a statement.

“Americans deserve to feel their president is fit enough to do the job. The crisis of confidence in the President’s leadership needs to come to an end. The President should do what he knows is right for the country and put the national interest first.”

A number of Gluesenkamp Perez’s colleagues have suggested that Biden should step aside and allow someone else to top the Democratic ticket this November, but she is the first of them to also argue that he should resign.

Earlier this month, the first-term congresswoman observed that “about 50 million Americans tuned in and watched that debate. I was one of them for about five very painful minutes.”

“We all saw what we saw, you can’t undo that, and the truth I think, is that Biden is going to lose to Trump,” she added. “I know that’s difficult, but I think the damage has been done by that debate.”

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‘Gay Furry Hackers’ Attack Heritage Foundation, Release Sensitive Project 2025 Data

An established cybercrime group with a track record of attacking political targets posted on Tuesday roughly two gigabytes of data from the Heritage Foundation, a prominent conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C.

Self-described “gay furry hackers,” SiegedSec said it released the data in response to Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025, a set of proposals that aim to give Donald Trump a set of ready-made policies to implement if he wins this fall’s election. Its authors describe it as an initiative “to lay the groundwork for a White House more friendly to the right.”

The data, reviewed by CyberScoop, includes Heritage Foundation blogs and material related to The Daily Signal, a right-wing media site affiliated with Heritage. The data was created between 2007 and November 2022.

The group says it gained access to the data on July 2 and released it to provide “transparency to the public regarding who exactly is supporting heritage (sic),” a spokesperson for the group who goes by the online handle “vio” told CyberScoop in an online chat Tuesday.

The data includes the “full names, email addresses, passwords, and usernames” of people associating with Heritage, vio said, including users with U.S. government email addresses. “This itself can have an impact to heritage’s (sic) reputation,” they added, “and it’ll especially push away users in positions of power.”

A Heritage spokesperson told CyberScoop after publication that the organization was not “hacked.” Instead, the spokesperson said “an organized group stumbled upon a two-year-old archive of The Daily Signal website that was available on a public-facing website owned by a contractor. The information obtained was limited to usernames, names, email addresses, and incomplete password information of both Heritage and non-Heritage contributors, as well as article comments and the IP address of the commentor.”

No Heritage systems were breached at any time, the spokesperson said, and the story of a hack “is a false narrative and an exaggeration by a group of criminal trolls trying to get attention.”

SiegedSec also claimed to be in possession of more than 200 gigabytes of additional “mostly useless” data, which the group said won’t be released.

The attack was carried out as part of SiegedSec’s “OpTransRights,” campaign, which has previously included the defacement of government websites and data theft from states either considering or implementing anti-abortion or anti-trans legislation.

The Heritage Foundation did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. The attack marks the second suffered by Heritage this year. In April, a Heritage official told Politico that the think tank had shut down its network in response to a breach by a nation-state hacking group.

Democrats have sought to tie Trump to Project 2025 proposals as an example of what to expect from his second term. Heritage President Kevin Roberts made news last week when he said the American right was “in the process of the second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be.”

SiegedSec, which emerged on Telegram in April 2022, has also targeted various NATO portals, the city of Fort Worth and a company involved in the monitoring of offshore oil and gas facilities.

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Trump Asks Judge to Dismiss Hush-Money Conviction, Citing SCOTUS Immunity Ruling

Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers asked New York Judge Juan Merchan on Thursday to toss out the guilty verdict in his hush money case after the Supreme Court ruled on the existence of presidential immunity.

The Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 opinion on July 1 that presidents have presidential immunity for some “official acts,” but not unofficial ones. However, the high court has not specified what constitutes official versus unofficial acts.

Trump was convicted by a Manhattan jury on 34 counts of falsifying business records in May, and was expected to be sentenced on Thursday.

However, Merchan allowed a delay last week for Trump’s team to consider how the Supreme Court ruling could impact his case, according to NBC News.

The sentencing is now scheduled for September.

Trump’s attorneys Todd Blanche and Emil Bove argued in the 52-page motion that the trial was “tainted” by evidence and testimony that is now protected under presidential immunity.

“Because of the implications for the institution of the Presidency, the use of official-acts evidence was a structural error under the federal Constitution that tainted [the District Attorney’s] grand jury proceedings as well as the trial,” the lawyers wrote, per ABC News.

The attorneys said testimony from former White House aides, and other evidence related to “official acts,” was used to fill “glaring holes” in the prosecution’s case.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has until July 24 to respond to the motion.

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Lauren Boebert Given Court Date for Failing to Pay Speeding Ticket

House Republican Lauren Boebert was ordered to attend Eagle County District Court in Colorado after failing to pay a $174.50 speeding ticket in time, according to a Denver publication.

Westword reported that Boebert was clocked going 84 miles per hour in a 65-miles-per-hour zone by the Colorado State Patrol on May 12 and instructed to pay a $174.50 fine. She was then ordered to attend Eagle County District Court on July 26 after the ticket wasn’t paid off within the requisite 20-day deadline, said the outlet. She has since accepted a standard plea deal.

In June, Boebert won the Republican primary to stand for the party in Colorado’s 4th congressional district this November with 43.6 percent of the vote, against 14.2 percent for her nearest rival. Boebert currently represents Colorado’s 3rd congressional district, which she only narrowly held in November 2022. She announced her switch to the more conservative 4th district in December 2023.

Following her primary victory, Boebert was called a “carpetbagging canoodler” in an article in The Colorado Sun by opinion columnist Mike Littwin, who said that with that win, she “definitely confirmed fears that whatever she does, whatever outrages she commits, whatever theater decorum she violates, whatever norm she offends, the MAGA base remains all in.”

Since first entering the House in January 2021 Boebert has emerged as one of the most outspoken supporters in Congress of Donald Trump, the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential candidate.

Speaking to Westword, the clerk at Eagle County District Court said: “Tickets that aren’t paid to the state before their twenty-day deadline, they’ll get sent to the court.

“Her case got forwarded to the court, we opened a case, and she took a standard plea offer.”

According to the clerk, Boebert contacted Eagle County District Court on July 3 to pay off her ticket after learning she had a court appearance booked due to her failure to pay within 20 days.

According to police cited by Westword, Boebert was caught on the morning of May 12, Mother’s Day, on Interstate 70 near mile marker 189 in a black Mazda CX-50.

A Colorado State Patrol public information officer told Westword Boebert was caught traveling at 84 miles per hour in a zone that had a 65-mile-per-hour speed limit.

Speaking to the publication, Boebert’s press secretary said the House Republican attempted to pay her ticket by sending a check to the Department of Revenue. After being told on July 3 that payment hadn’t been received, she then sent over the money online.

On Thursday, Boebert was criticized, especially online, for linking concern over 81-year-old President Joe Biden’s age and mental capacities to the COVID-19 vaccine in a post on X. The Colorado Republican shared four photographs of Biden receiving the vaccine and booster shots, writing: “I wonder what could have caused Joe Biden’s rapid physical and cognitive decline?” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the vaccines are “safe and effective” in preventing the spread of the virus.

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San Francisco’s New Plan to Fight Crime: Force Businesses to Close

San Francisco has discovered a new way to “solve” crime: Force businesses to close.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has unanimously decided to forcibly close retail food and tobacco businesses, not including restaurants and bars, from midnight to 5 a.m. in a designated “high-crime area” in the Tenderloin neighborhood.

This is a two-year “pilot” plan in response to the “high rate of drug-related crime in the Tenderloin.”

The Tenderloin Housing Clinic supported this decision, with its director of community organizing blaming businesses for “feeding into this ecosystem.”

Evidently, it is the fault of these businesses for allowing drug-addicted homeless people and criminals to wreak havoc in the neighborhood, not the fault of the district attorney, law enforcement, or the Board of Supervisors for allowing these conditions in the first place.

This is made all the more bizarre by the fact that the city had previously authorized a “safe” drug consumption center in the Tenderloin district.

San Francisco had given the green light to allow drug addicts to shoot up whenever they wanted, a move that predictably backfired as the neighborhood became less safe and less sanitary, made worse by the city’s refusal to prosecute them or just about any other criminals. Now, the blame is falling on businesses that are being forced to close by a city that created this problem in the first place.

San Francisco’s continued unwillingness to actually address its problems and instead punt the blame elsewhere continues to take a toll on people and businesses who have nothing to do with the problem.

Forcibly closing businesses in the early morning hours isn’t going to make criminals less criminal or drug addicts less drug-addicted. All it is going to do is further hamstring businesses that are also paying the price for the crime that the city has allowed to fester.

If closing businesses solved crime, San Francisco would be paradise, given how many businesses have closed permanently and moved out rather than deal with the city’s soft, incompetent leadership. San Francisco is a city run by people who have no clue how to keep a city functioning, and residents are going to feel the effects up until the point that they join others in moving out.

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NYT: Biden Campaign Conducts Secret Polling with Kamala as President

Under siege from fellow Democrats, President Biden’s campaign is quietly testing the strength of Vice President Kamala Harris against former President Donald J. Trump in a head-to-head survey of voters, as Mr. Biden fights for his political future with a high-stakes news conference on Thursday.

The survey, which is being conducted this week and was commissioned by the Biden campaign’s analytics team, is believed to be the first time since the debate that Mr. Biden’s aides have sought to measure how the vice president would fare at the top of the ticket. It was described by three people who are informed about it and insisted on anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information. They did not specify why the survey was being conducted or what the campaign planned to do with the results.

The effort, which comes as a growing number of prominent lawmakers call for Mr. Biden to step aside or suggest he should reconsider his plans to run, indicates that his campaign may be preparing to wade into a debate that has consumed the Democratic Party behind closed doors: whether Mr. Biden should step aside for his vice president.

While some of Mr. Biden’s top aides have quietly argued that Ms. Harris could not win the election, donors and other outside supporters of the vice president believe she might be in a stronger position after the debate, and could be a more energetic communicator of the party’s message.

In memo to campaign staff on Thursday, Mr. Biden’s campaign chair, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, and his campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, wrote about the “path ahead.”

“In addition to what we believe is a clear pathway ahead for us, there is also no indication that anyone else would outperform the president vs. Trump,” they wrote. “Hypothetical polling of alternative nominees will always be unreliable, and surveys do not take into account the negative media environment that any Democratic nominee will encounter. The only Democratic candidate for whom this is already baked in is President Biden.”

The memo also appeared to acknowledge an erosion of Mr. Biden’s support.

“The movement we have seen, while real, is not a sea-change in the state of the race,” the memo says.
As the White House and the Biden campaign try to project a unified front, some of their supporters are engaged in a tough assessment of who should top the ticket.

Mr. Biden’s political future will be determined in part by his performance during Thursday’s news conference at the NATO summit in Washington at 6:30 p.m., which party lawmakers, officials and donors have said they will closely monitor. It will be his longest unscripted appearance since the faltering debate performance two weeks ago.

Ahead of the news conference, Mr. Biden is dispatching some of his top aides — Steve Ricchetti, Mike Donilon and Ms. O’Malley Dillon are expected to go — to Capitol Hill to settle nervous Democratic senators who have begun to break ranks. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado has predicted that Mr. Biden will lose and deeply damage Democrats in down-ballot races. And Senator Peter Welch of Vermont on Wednesday evening became the first senator to explicitly call for Mr. Biden to drop out.

Much of the attention is on Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, who has said publicly that he is “with Joe” but who has signaled privately, Axios reported on Wednesday, that he is open to a ticket not led by Mr. Biden. In a statement provided after that article published, Mr. Schumer said, “As I have made clear repeatedly publicly and privately, I support President Biden and remain committed to ensuring Donald Trump is defeated in November.”

One person who spoke directly with Mr. Schumer last weekend, who discussed the conversation on the condition of anonymity to protect the relationship, said that the majority leader was looking for a way to find a different candidate while being mindful of Mr. Biden.

So far, much of the discontent has been voiced in similarly private and vague ways. The Democracy Alliance, a powerful network of major liberal donors, released a memo to members on Thursday morning stressing its commitment to funding House races in what Pamela Shifman, the president of the group, framed as a “challenging moment.” The memo made no direct mention of Mr. Biden, other than alluding to the fact that he could lose.

“The House is a bulwark against authoritarianism and our insurance policy against Project 2025,” Ms. Shifman wrote, referring to the far-reaching policy plans by Trump allies. “We can’t be caught flat-footed like we were eight years ago. After 2016, it would be malpractice for us not to have a plan in place for if the worst happens.”

The president’s team had felt bullish earlier in the week after a hard push on Monday to silence his Democratic critics, which included an open letter to Congress, a cable news call-in, a presidential appearance on a top donor call and a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus.

But any progress in moving past the debate was undone early on Wednesday when former Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Mr. Biden still had a decision to make about whether or not he was running — nearly a week after he told Democratic governors and the ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos that he was staying in the race.

Ms. Pelosi delivered her message — implying that Mr. Biden should reconsider his candidacy without explicitly saying so — on “Morning Joe,” the MSNBC show Mr. Biden often wakes up to watch. It was the same program to which the president had phoned in for an interview on Monday to declare that he was committed to running.

Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Schumer and Representative Hakeem Jeffries, the Democratic leader in the House, are seen as three of the most influential figures in the debate over whether Mr. Biden should step aside.

The question of what might come afterward if he does drop out has convulsed the Democratic Party and shaped the conversation about what to do. Many in the party have doubted Ms. Harris’s ability to unite a sufficiently broad coalition to defeat Mr. Trump in November.

While the Biden campaign is littered with aides panicked about Mr. Biden’s political standing, the president has been sanguine in his discussions with donors and Democratic elected officials, blaming the party and news media “elites” for the anxiety.

Since the debate, Mr. Biden’s innermost circle has shrunk to his family and a very small group of his closest aides, effectively cocooning the president. It is not clear how much Mr. Biden has been informed about how his standing has dropped among Democrats.

Ms. Harris has been careful to demonstrate complete loyalty to Mr. Biden’s bid. But outside supporters of her candidacy have been quietly and carefully floating the idea that she might be a stronger contender against Mr. Trump — with some even going so far as to suggest potential running mates for the vice president.

This week, strategists and donors who were supportive of Ms. Harris circulated a presentation of polling assessing her strength with younger voters and showing that two out of three Democratic voters in battleground states supported the idea of Ms. Harris as the nominee in a scenario where Mr. Biden dropped out.

Some of Mr. Biden’s aides have been privately skeptical of Ms. Harris’s ability to win the election.

Shortly after the debate, Mr. Biden’s campaign chair, Ms. O’Malley Dillon, and his White House chief of staff, Jeff Zients, met with a group of anti-Trump Republicans at a hotel near the White House. The meeting had been planned weeks before the debate, but the two Biden advisers found themselves fielding pleas from some in the room that Mr. Biden drop out after his poor showing onstage. Mr. Biden’s advisers said the conversation was a nonstarter.

When some of the Republicans suggested that Democrats had a number of other options among the party’s governors, Ms. O’Malley Dillon said that the options were either Mr. Biden or, if he were to drop out, Ms. Harris, and indicated that the discussion was a waste of time, according to one person briefed on what was said.

“Jen was clear: The 2024 ticket is President Biden and Vice President Harris,” said Kevin Munoz, a Biden campaign spokesman.

Another person who was briefed on the meeting, and who recounted the discussion about Ms. Harris, said the implication some took was that the Biden advisers did not think she would fare any better than the president.

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NBC: Biden Replacement Momentum Is Heating Up. Campaign Insiders Say He Has No Chance of Winning.

Several of President Joe Biden’s closest allies, including three people who are directly involved in efforts to re-elect him, told NBC News they now see his chances of winning as zero — and the likelihood of him taking down fellow Democratic candidates growing.

“He needs to drop out,” one Biden campaign official said. “He will never recover from this.”

For two weeks, Biden has struggled to stabilize his campaign following a late-June debate debacle. His ongoing clean-up effort, which is scheduled to include top aides meeting privately with Democratic senators and a presidential news conference Thursday, has done little to reassure lawmakers and party officials.

Instead, the reverse is happening.

The set of Democrats who think he should reconsider his decision to stay in the race has grown to include aides, operatives and officials tasked with guiding his campaign to victory. Those who spoke to NBC News said the sentiment that he should exit and leave the Democratic nomination to someone else — most likely Vice President Kamala Harris — is widespread even within the ranks of the campaign and the outside Democratic entities supporting it.

“No one involved in the effort thinks he has a path,” said a second person working to elect him.

A third person close to the re-election campaign said the present situation — the questions swirling around Biden’s cognitive abilities, the dearth of fundraising and more polls showing Biden dropping in support and other candidates faring better — is unsustainable. This person also said they didn’t see how the campaign could win.

All of them spoke on the condition of anonymity because they don’t want to be seen as further damaging a candidate they appreciate for his victory over then-President Donald Trump in 2020 and his policy wins in the White House. But two others close to Biden told NBC News that while they haven’t given up all hope of a turnaround, they see that as an increasingly unlikely outcome. And they believe the goal of defeating Trump in November should take precedence over backing Biden.

“The question for me, and a lot of us, is: Who is the best person to beat Donald Trump?” another person working to elect Biden said. “There are a lot of us that are true blue that are questioning our initial thoughts on that.”

“Patently false,” Biden campaign spokesman TJ Ducklo said. “This team stands with the president.”

Ultimately, the decision rests with Biden on whether he stays in, and the president has been insistent this week that he’s not going anywhere. But these sources say that Biden is done — whether he drops out before November or loses to Trump on Election Day.

Hours after NBC News asked Biden aides about that conclusion, campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon and campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez sent a memo to staff Thursday outlining why they believe the president can still win.

“Our internal data and public polling show the same thing: this remains a margin-of-error race in key battleground states,” they wrote. “The movement we have seen, while real, is not a sea-change in the state of the race — while some of this movement was from undecided voters to Trump, much of the movement was driven by historically Democratic constituencies moving to undecided.”

O’Malley Dillon and Chavez Rodriguez said they still view Georgia and Arizona — states Biden won in 2020 but where he trails in polling now — as winnable, along with the Rust Belt states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

“No one is denying that the debate was a setback,” they wrote. “But Joe Biden and this campaign have made it through setbacks before. We are clear eyed about what we need to do to win. And we will win by moving forward, unified as a party, so that every single day between now and election day we focus on defeating Donald Trump.”

Biden defenders have pointed to a 538 forecast of the fall election that shows the president’s chances of winning have barely moved post-debate, remaining at a 48-in-100 chance of winning. In the 538 average, Biden trailed Trump by 2.1%.

But Democrats this week have watched shifts in other surveys that have set off alarms, including an AARP poll showing Biden trailing in Wisconsin, which had been his best battleground state.

“That’s the bright shining data point,” a longtime Democratic presidential campaign strategist said. “We have this window and the White House is just running out the clock, which is so selfish. We’re all waiting around for Joe Biden to f— up again, which is not a great position to be in.”

NBC News reported Wednesday that fundraising for the campaign is drying up as major Democratic donors and grassroots contributors are closing their wallets. At the same time, Trump, who is due to accept the Republican nomination next week, has been raking in cash.

The concern for many Democrats is that Biden will not only lose but perform so poorly that he acts as an anchor on down-ballot candidates.

“I worry that the symbol of our party is the person who’s running for president and that that does absolutely trickle down to the down ballot races,” said one state party chair who wants Biden to abandon his campaign.

The Biden campaign has started to quietly assess the viability of Harris’ candidacy against Trump in a new head-to-head poll, a source familiar with the decision told NBC News.

This person said it’s being done in the context of the Republican presumptive nominee “stepping up” his attacks against her, like he did at a recent Florida rally. The survey will take place this week and was commissioned by the Biden campaign’s analytics team, as The New York Times first reported.

Separately, a Democratic operative pointed out that testing Harris’ standing against Trump would be instructive in showing Biden whether she may fare better, worse than — or the same as — he does in current polling and that may be one reason to do it now.

But as more Democrats come to the conclusion that Biden can’t win — and shouldn’t try — his innermost circle has tightened to the point that it includes only family members and a couple of longtime advisers, according to two people familiar with deliberations about the future of the campaign.

The combination of Biden floundering publicly and relying on an increasingly insular set of advisers privately has damaged Democratic insiders’ confidence in his ability to make the best decisions for himself, the party and the country.

One Democratic lawmaker close to Biden said that while he will “never publicly disavow” the president, he believes that bowing out would be “the right thing for himself and the country.”

This lawmaker argued that Biden still has a chance of beating Trump. Yet he said Biden’s legacy would be “completely ruined” if he ends up losing and dragging down Democratic candidates. Public calls for Biden to exit the race, this lawmaker said, are “counterproductive” because they make the president more likely to fight back.

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‘Morning Joe’ Hosts: Obama Working Behind the Scenes to Undermine Biden

Former President Barack Obama is “working behind the scenes” to undermine President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign, Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough said Thursday morning.

Democrats remain divided after Biden’s shaky debate performance against former President Donald Trump last month. Some prominent Democrats, including several of Biden’s colleagues on Capitol Hill, have called for the president to drop out of the presidential race and allow another Democrat to run for the party’s nomination.

Biden has repeatedly vowed to stay in the race, telling ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an interview released last week that he will drop out only if God tells him to.

On Thursday’s show, Scarborough and his co-host and wife, Mika Brzezinski, implied that Obama encouraged actor George Clooney to write his recent New York Times op-ed calling for Biden to step down from his campaign.

“Are you saying that Barack Obama put him up to this?” Scarborough asked Brzezinski.

“I think that Barack Obama has a lot of influence, and I think that there’s a lot there,” Brzezinski responded.

“I will say the one thing that we do have to underline here, just so viewers can follow what’s going on behind the scenes, is the Biden campaign and many Democratic officials do believe that Barack Obama is quietly working behind the scenes to orchestrate this,” Scarborough said later in the show.

“And if Joe Biden believes that, that’s not going to get him out of the race any faster.”

Their comments come as Politico reported that Clooney, a Democratic donor who has been a face of Biden’s fundraising efforts, gave Obama a heads-up before the op-ed, “George Clooney: I Love Joe Biden. But We Need a New Nominee,” was published.

According to people familiar with the conversation, Obama did not encourage or advise Clooney to write the op-ed, but he also didn’t object to it.

Obama has been a vocal supporter of Biden’s reelection campaign, at least in the public eye, and a vital part of the president’s fundraising efforts. Obama defended his former vice president’s weak showing on the debate stage, saying, “Bad debate nights happen. Trust me, I know.”

Speaking on the relationship between Biden and Democratic officials, Scarborough said on Thursday’s episode of Morning Joe, “Joe Biden is deeply resentful of his treatment under not only the Obama staff but also the way he was pushed aside for Hillary Clinton [in the 2016 election]. He’s deeply resentful of those trying to shove him out of the way. He’s always felt like an outsider. Always felt like people have looked down upon him.”

Biden is reportedly a loyal Morning Joe viewer and has a close relationship with Scarborough and Brzezinski.

The president called into the program on Monday to reiterate that he would not be quitting the 2024 race, saying that losing to former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, is “not an option.”

“I haven’t lost. I beat him last time. I’ll beat him this time,” Biden said.

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Milwaukee Radio Station Admits It Agreed to Edit Interview with Biden

Civic Media, a Wisconsin-based progressive talk-radio network, said Thursday it had agreed to make two edits to an interview with President Joe Biden at the request of his campaign before the broadcast aired, a decision the station said fell short of “journalistic interview standards.”

Still, the station said, it stands by its popular host Earl Ingram, who conducted the interview with Biden following the June 27 televised debate with rival Republican Donald Trump during which the president lost his train of thought and at times made nonsensical statements. Ingram’s interview was recorded on July 3 and aired on July 4.

“On Monday, July 8th, it was reported to Civic Media management that immediately after the phone interview was recorded, the Biden campaign called and asked for two edits to the recording before it aired. Civic Media management immediately undertook an investigation and determined that the production team at the time viewed the edits as non-substantive and broadcast and published the interview with two short segments removed,” the station said in a statement released on Thursday.

The station said it would make the full, unedited interview available online.

The two edits, according to the station, were:

  1. At time 5:20, the removal of “…and in addition to that, I have more Blacks in my administration than any other president, all other presidents combined, and in major positions, cabinet positions.”
  2. At time 14:15, in reference to Donald Trump’s call for the death penalty for the Central Park Five, the removal of “I don’t know if they even call for their hanging or not, but he–but they said […] convicted of murder.”

“With a high-profile interview comes a listener expectation that journalistic interview standards will be applied, even for non-news programming. We did not meet those expectations. Civic Media disagrees with the team’s judgments in the moment, both with respect to the handling of the interview questions and the decision to edit the interview audio,” the statement read.

According to the statement, Civic Media has clarified its policies “particularly for commentators and other non-news personnel.”

“Civic Media unequivocally stands by Earl Ingram and his team,” the statement read. “Earl is an invaluable voice for Milwaukee and Wisconsin, and remains a crucial member of the Civic Media organization. The decision to make the requested edits to the interview was made in good faith. While we disagree with the decision, we stand by our team. This has been a learning experience and we will do better moving forward.”

Ingram, a longtime Biden supporter, told ABC News last weekend, “Yes, I was given some questions for Biden.” Ingram has not responded to questions from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

A source familiar with the Biden campaign booking operation told the Journal Sentinel last weekend the campaign will no longer offer suggested questions.

“While interview hosts have always been free to ask whatever questions they please, moving forward we will refrain from offering suggested questions,” the source said.

Andrea Lawful-Sanders of WURD in Philadelphia, the second host to interview Biden following the debate, said she did not feel pressured to ask any specific questions. WURD Radio announced Sunday it has “mutually agreed to part ways” with Lawful-Sanders.

The interviews were scheduled in an effort to reassure voters of the president’s abilities. But the revelation that both hosts were given questions ahead of time has raised doubts about the confidence the president has in navigating unscripted conversations.

Ingram, who did not mention the pre-written questions during an earlier interview with the Journal Sentinel, told ABC News he was given five questions and asked four of them.

“I didn’t get a chance to ask him all the things I wanted to ask,” he told ABC News last weekend.

Lauren Hitt, spokeswoman for Biden, said it’s not uncommon for interview subjects “to share topics they would prefer.”

“These questions were relevant to the news of the day — the president was asked about this debate performance as well as what he’d delivered for Black Americans,” Hitt said. “We do not condition interviews on acceptance of these questions, and hosts are always free to ask the questions they think will best inform their listeners.”

“In addition to these interviews, the President also participated in a press gaggle (Friday) as well as an interview with ABC. Americans have had several opportunities to see him unscripted since the debate,” she added.

The campaign also noted host Geno Jones, who interviewed Biden in June, and actor and comedian D.L. Hughley, who interviewed Biden in May, said they were not given questions in advance of conversations with the president.

Ingram told ABC News he didn’t have concerns with the practice.

“To think that I was gonna get an opportunity to ask any question to the President of the United States, I think, is a bit more than anybody should expect,” he said. “Certainly the fact that they gave me this opportunity … meant a lot to me.”

In the pre-recorded interview with Ingram that aired Thursday, Biden said he “had a bad night” during the debate.

“And the fact of the matter is that I screwed up. I made a mistake,” he told Ingram.

Biden, during the 18-minute interview that aired on WAUK-AM, said he was “proud to be running for reelection as a president that has made his promises — and I’ve kept them.”

The 81-year-old president visited Madison last Friday, defiantly declaring he would stay in the race and pledging to defeat Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. He closed his rally with Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” just before taping a primetime interview with ABC that was organized to help overturn public fears of a lagging mental acuity.

Ahead of the rally, a group of local reporters were assembled to accompany the president’s motorcade from the Dane County Regional Airport to the rally event and elsewhere. But the campaign scuttled the plan while reporters were waiting at the airport without explanation. A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter was unable to cover Friday’s rally because of the situation.

Trump recently canceled an interview with a news outlet after learning what questions the reporter planned to ask. He also previously agreed to an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel during which he did not receive topics or questions ahead of time.

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