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Rep. George Santos Steps Down from Committee Assignments
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After facing weeks of allegations that he fabricated key details of his past and defrauded individuals, Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) has announced his decision to step down—at least temporarily—from his congressional committee assignments.

Santos informed his Republican House colleagues of his decision to temporarily recuse himself from his committee assignments during a closed-door meeting today. Santos told his colleagues he wanted to step down for the time being while he works to clear up a series of allegations that have arisen in recent weeks.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he felt Santos had made the “appropriate decision.”

The freshman congressman has been accused of fabricating numerous details about his family background, education, and work history. Santos had claimed on his biography that he had obtained “degrees in finance and economics” from Baruch College and New York University, and had worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

In December, Santos admitted to some “resume embellishments,” confessing he hadn’t graduated from Baruch College or any college for that matter. Santos said he also overstated that he worked for two Wall Street firms and said he instead worked for a company called Link Bridge, which did business with both firms. Santos also admitted to lying about owning 13 different properties.

Santos faced other allegations including that he had falsely said he was Jewish. In an interview with the New York Post Santos said he had “never claimed to be Jewish.”

Santos was also recently accused of defrauding a veteran who was trying to raise money for a surgical procedure for his dog. The veteran claimed he came into contact with Santos, who was going by the alias Anthony Devolder. The U.S. Navy veteran, Richard Osthoff, said Devolder set up a GoFundMe crowdfunding page for the medical procedure for the dog, but ultimately kept the money and cut off contact with the veteran, allowing the dog to die without the necessary medical treatment. Santos has entirely denied Osthoff’s claims, tweeting that “the reports that I would let a dog die is [sic] shocking & insane.”

Santos was assigned to the House Committee on Small Business and to the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. McCarthy had given Santos those relatively low-profile assignments amid criticisms and calls for Santos to resign from Congress altogether.

Santos has repeatedly rejected calls for his resignation over his fabrications, including from members of his own party.

“George Santos’s campaign last year was a campaign of deceit, lies, and fabrication,” Joseph Cairo, chairman of the Nassau County GOP, said in a recent press conference.

New York GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy also said that “it would be in the best interest of the taxpayers to have new leadership” representing the district in Congress.

“I was hired by the voters and I will be fired by the voters, not by the Democrat Party or the Republican Party or the media,” Santos said in a recent interview.

Though he stepped down from his committee assignments on Tuesday, Santos remains committed to serving out his term.

McCarthy and some other Republicans reiterated that Santos could eventually return.

“The voters have elected him,” McCarthy told reporters after the Republican meeting on Tuesday. “He’ll have a voice here in Congress. And until he answers all those [ethics] questions, then at that time, he’ll be able to be seated on committees.”

Santos has argued that he is being held to a different standard than the one applied to Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who made false claims that he served in the military in Vietnam during the war, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who embellished her Native American heritage.

Some Democrats have also vocally criticized Santos.

“I’m just struck by the chaos, confusion, dysfunction of the Republican Conference. They defended putting him on committees and now they’re announcing that he’s not going to serve on committees,” Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) said on Tuesday.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said, “I also urge George Santos to listen to his Republican and Democratic constituents and also resign from Congress as well.”

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Read 20 Comments
  • Jim says:

    When is Omarr and Warren stepping down?

  • Del says:

    Why doesn’t Santos’ constituency declare a recall and get him out of Congress? Apparently polls show a huge percent of those voters ant him out. McCarthy’s is correct in that his voters sent hm in and his voters should get rid of him as their Rep? Don’t recalls work in NY?

  • Sicsam says:

    He belongs in prison!

  • Guest says:

    Santos and a dirt trip. Freak of nature. He’s a freak straight up weirdo freak

  • Deplorable4Ever says:

    Once again, the R’s cave into the back biting Nazi’s who have done the same & far worse! They are worse than pit bulls clamping down on a bone & the R’s continue to give into them because they just want to make it STOP! This is precisely why EVIL is winning!

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    Key Moments

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    Emails showing a U.S Attorney would not allow FBI agents to investigate the Bidens for FARA violations.

    One document confirmed rumors that at one point the FBI and IRS investigated Hunter Biden for possible violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), a federal law requiring disclosure of any lobbying activities on behalf of foreign powers. “Please focus on FARA evidence only,” Delaware Assistant U.S. Attorney Lesley Wolf emailed agents in August 2020 concerning a possible search warrant application.

    Test message showing that James Biden suggested it was normal for Joe Biden to be involved in his son’s business.

    In an affidavit to the committee, Ziegler suggested agents believed there was evidence in a series of WhatsApp encrypted text messages that Joe Biden was involved in the CEFC business deal and others before it, but the FBI’s interview with James Biden was constructed to avoid asking those questions.

    To back up the claim, Ziegler attached a summary of one text messages between James Biden and Hunter Biden from 2018. “This can work, you need a safe harbor. I can work with you father alone !! We as usual just need several months of his help for this to work. Let’s talk about it. It makes perfect sense to me. This is difficult to fully vet without talking,” the uncle wrote Hunter Biden.

    A memo showing that Burisma received Joe Biden’s talking points from lobbyists ahead of his trip to Ukraine.

    Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings received Joe Biden’s planned talking points ahead of his December 2015 trip to Ukraine, according to a newly released memo from lobbying firm Blue Star Strategies.

    Blue Star Strategies sent the memo to Burisma on Dec. 2, 2015, after an apparent call with “senior administration officials” and detailed then-Vice President Joe Biden’s messaging strategy for his trip to Ukraine, the memo shows.

    And finally, and perhaps most damningly, as Kyle Becker highlighted, Hunter Biden signed off on a Burisma memo to the Ukrainian prosecutor who replaced Viktor Shokin that warned not to continue further investigations.

    “Moreover it is imperative that allegations of criminal activity made to the media about Burisma and/or Nikolay Zlochevsky come to an end.”

    Is that enough “evidence” for the “there is no evidence” misinformation-spreaders to fold?

    We highly doubt it… but tomorrow’s hearing will give us a glimpse at the Democrats’ plan…

    While the proceedings will initially convene in that committee’s hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building, the inquiry – authorized Sept. 12 by Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) – is being led by oversight panel chairman Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.).

    As Mark Tapscott detailed earlier via The Epoch Times, Republicans have portrayed the initial hearing as merely a summary or review of the evidence obtained to date, but Mr. Comer announced Sept. 26 that his panel received in response to subpoenas two previously unknown wire transfers to Hunter Biden from Chinese businessmen with numerous links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

    “On July 26, 2019, Hunter Biden received a $10,000 wire from Wang Xin. On August 2, 2019, Hunter Biden received a $250,000 wire from Jonathan Li and Tan Ling. Both wires originated in Beijing and Joe Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware, home is listed as the beneficiary address for both wires,” Mr. Comer said in a statement. The transfers directly contradict claims by the President and Hunter Biden’s lawyer that no funds were received from China.

    In addition, Mr. Comer pointed out that “evidence shows Joe Biden developed a familiar relationship with Jonathan Li during his vice presidency and prior to these payments to Hunter Biden. Devon Archer, a Biden business associate, described [to the oversight committee in closed-door testimony] how Joe Biden met with Jonathan Li in Beijing, China, had a phone call with him, and later wrote college recommendation letters for his children.”

    Then on Sept. 27, Mr. Smith’s panel made public 700 pages of additional evidence provided by two IRS whistleblowers who were deeply involved in the government’s long-running investigation of Hunter Biden’s failure to pay taxes on income he received in 2014 and 2015.

    The Ways and Means panel made the new evidence public following a closed-door executive session in which all 18 Democrats opposed the release.

    The new materials made public by Mr. Smith indicated the Biden family received at least $19 million in income from entities in at least 23 countries around the world which was channeled through 20 shell companies.

    The income was ultimately received directly or indirectly by multiple members of the Biden family, including the president while he was vice president.

    The materials also included numerous references in emails and telephone messages to the senior Biden playing an active role in what Mr. Smith described to reporters during a Capitol Hill news conference following the executive session as “a complex and lucrative enterprise operated by the Biden family to enrich themselves to the tune of at least $20 million, with much of Hunter Biden’s share going unreported for taxes.”

    Mr. Smith further claimed the new evidence makes clear that “then Vice President Joe Biden’s political power and influence was ‘the brand’ that Hunter Biden was selling all over the world. Even more alarming, the Biden family foreign influence peddling operation suggests an effort to sway U.S. policy decisions.”

    The tranche of materials includes an August 2020 email from Lesley Wolf, a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney helping to oversee the investigation of Mr. Biden, telling investigators to redraft a search warrant to remove mention of “political figure 1.”

    That was a reference to then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, according to Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), chairman of the panel.

    “It’s about a two-tiered system of justice. If Joe Biden’s name had been Smith or Jones or Johnson, he would not have been excluded from this search warrant. But he was. And we wouldn’t know that if the whistleblowers had not come forward,” Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.), a former U.S. attorney and member of the committee, told reporters.

    The backgrounds of the witnesses for the hearing suggest the impeachment inquiry’s summary of evidence will focus on three major areas.

    Witness Bruce Dubinski is a Florida-based forensic accountant who specializes in cases involving white-collar crime and financial fraud.

    He has testified as an expert witness in multiple federal and state bench and jury trials.

    Republican leaders of the impeachment inquiry have repeatedly described their efforts as “following the money,” and they have pointed to more than 170 Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) from financial institutions to the Department of Treasury concerning the movement of funds among the 20 Biden shell companies as evidence of money laundering in an attempt to conceal the sources of income to the family.

    Mr. Dubinski is expected to shed additional light on the significance of the SARs and how the funds flowed from foreign sources to the shell companies and then to members of the Biden family, including several grandchildren.

    Former Assistant Attorney General Eileen O’Connor will be the second witness providing testimony to the impeachment inquiry. She oversaw the Tax Division of the Department of Justice during the presidency of George W. Bush from 2001 to 2007.

    Ms. O’Connor has since specialized in civil and criminal tax disputes, from the administrative investigative phases through trial litigation and appellate processes. Committee members will likely quiz her closely on issues and evidence related to the government’s investigation of Hunter Biden’s failure to report income and pay taxes on it.

    She will also be questioned about the significance of the failed plea deal rejected in July by a federal judge that would have enabled the president’s son to plead guilty to two tax misdemeanors and a felony gun charge, and which would have granted him immunity from all future prosecutions.

    Professor Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University Law School will be the third witness. Mr. Turley is a constitutional law authority who frequently testifies before committees of both chambers in Congress, including during the first impeachment hearings of the 117th Congress against President Donald Trump.

    A Fox News Contributor, Mr. Turley is a frequent commenter on controversial legal and political developments in the nation’s capital, and he has also served as a legal analyst for CBS News and NBC News on high-profile controversies. Committee members will likely seek his insights on constitutional issues related to impeachable activities and federal ethics laws and regulations.

    Democrats condemn the impeachment inquiry as a waste of time, especially coming with only hours until the federal government could be forced to shut down if Congress has not adopted a 2024 budget by midnight Saturday, the end of the current fiscal year.

    Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee, issued a statement following the closed executive session in which he labeled the hearing “a distraction from my colleagues’ inability to govern and from their inability to fund the government. Amid their chaos, they’ve failed to convince their own colleagues of the necessity of their political stunt, let alone the American people.”

    The Massachusetts Democrat, who preceded Mr. Smith as Chairman, added that “millions of women and children are at risk of losing their food assistance because of my colleagues’ disinterest in governing. How are we supposed to tell our constituents that Fox News hits were more important than their next meal? Or what are we supposed to say to the 2.2 million American workers who may go without a paycheck when Republicans shut down the government? For this Republican majority, regardless of evidence, all roads lead to impeachment. It’s a sad day for the Congress and for the American people.”

    Finally, The Daily Caller reports that an email obtained by a CNN producer showed Hunter Biden expected all of the “stuff” regarding his criminal wrongdoings to disappear once his father, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, became president, according to documents the House Ways and Means Committee released.

    Justin T. Cole, the Office of Communications Director for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), notified the agency’s chief and deputy chief a CNN producer reached out about their investigation into Hunter’s tax and gun crimes, according to an email the Ways and Means committee released. Cole apparently said the CNN producer possessed an email from Hunter saying he believed he would be off the hook once his father became president and that he was unwilling to accept a plea deal.

    “Producer has an email from Hunter saying he expected all of this “stuff” to go away when his dad becomes President,” Cole wrote.

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    A Government Shutdown Is Nearing This Weekend. What Does It Mean, Who’s Hit and What’s Next?

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    The federal government is just days away from a shutdown that will disrupt many services, squeeze workers and roil politics as Republicans in the House, fueled by hard-right demands, force a confrontation over federal spending.

    While some government entities will be exempt — Social Security checks, for example, will still go out — other functions will be severely curtailed. Federal agencies will stop all actions deemed non-essential, and millions of federal employees, including members of the military, won’t receive paychecks.

    A look at what’s ahead if the government shuts down on Sunday.

    WHAT IS A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN?

    A shutdown happens when Congress fails to pass some type of funding legislation that is signed into law by the president. Lawmakers are supposed to pass 12 different spending bills to fund agencies across the government, but the process is time-consuming. They often resort to passing a temporary extension, called a continuing resolution or CR, to allow the government to keep operating.

    When no funding legislation is enacted, federal agencies have to stop all nonessential work and will not send paychecks as long as the shutdown lasts.

    Although employees deemed essential to public safety such as air traffic controllers and law enforcement officers still have to report to work, other federal employees are furloughed. Under a 2019 law, those same workers are slated to receive backpay once the funding impasse is resolved.

    WHEN WOULD A SHUTDOWN BEGIN AND HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?

    Government funding expires Oct. 1, the start of the federal budget year. A shutdown will effectively begin at 12:01 a.m. Sunday if Congress is unable to pass a funding plan that the president signs into law.

    It is impossible to predict how long a shutdown would last. The Democratic-held Senate and Republican-controlled House are working on vastly different plans to avert a shutdown, and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is struggling to win any support from hard-right conservatives to keep the government open.

    Many are bracing for a stoppage that could last weeks.

    WHO DOES A SHUTDOWN AFFECT?

    Millions of federal workers face delayed paychecks when the government shuts down, including many of the roughly 2 million military personnel and more than 2 million civilian workers across the nation.

    Nearly 60% of federal workers are stationed in the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security.

    While all of the military’s active-duty troops and reservists would continue to work, more than half of the Department of Defense’s civilian workforce, which is roughly 440,000 people, would be furloughed.

    Across federal agencies, workers are stationed in all 50 states and have direct interaction with taxpayers — from Transportation Security Administration agents who operate security at airports to Postal Service workers who deliver mail.

    U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has said new training for air traffic controllers will be halted and another 1,000 controllers in the midst of training will be furloughed. Even a shutdown that lasts a few days will mean the department won’t hit its hiring and staffing targets for next year, he said.

    “Imagine the pressure that a controller is already under every time they take their position at work, and then imagine the added stress of coming to that job from a household with a family that can no longer count on that paycheck,” Buttigieg said.

    Beyond federal workers, a shutdown could have far-reaching effects on government services. People applying for government services like clinical trials, firearm permits and passports could see delays.

    Some federal offices will also have to close or face shortened hours during a shutdown.

    Businesses closely connected to the federal government, such as federal contractors or tourist services around national parks, could see disruptions and downturns. The travel sector could lose $140 million daily in a shutdown, according to the U.S. Travel Industry Association.

    Lawmakers also warn that a shutdown could rattle financial markets. Goldman Sachs has estimated that a shutdown would reduce economic growth by 0.2% every week it lasted, but growth would then bounce back after the government reopens.

    Others say the disruption in government services has far-reaching impacts because it shakes confidence in the government to fulfill its basic duties. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce warned, “A well-functioning economy requires a functioning government.”

    WHAT ABOUT COURT CASES, THE WORK OF CONGRESS AND PRESIDENTIAL PAY?

    The president and members of Congress will continue to work and get paid. However, any members of their staff who are not deemed essential will be furloughed.

    The Supreme Court, which begins its new term Monday, would be unaffected by a short shutdown because it can draw on a pot of money provided by court fees, including charges for filing lawsuits and other documents, court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe said.

    The rest of the federal judiciary also would operate normally for at least the first two weeks of October, said Peter Kaplan, a spokesman for the judiciary.

    Even in a longer shutdown, the entire judiciary would not shut down, and decisions about what activities would continue would be made by each court around the country. The justices and all federal judges would continue to be paid because of the constitutional prohibition on reducing judges’ pay during their tenure, according to the Congressional Research Service.

    Notably, funding for the three special counsels appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland would not be affected by a government shutdown because they are paid for through a permanent, indefinite appropriation, an area that’s been exempted from shutdowns in the past.

    That means the two federal cases against Donald Trump, the former president, as well as the case against Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, would not be interrupted. Trump has demanded that Republicans defund the prosecutions against him as a condition of funding the government, declaring it their “last chance” to act.

    HAS THIS HAPPENED BEFORE?

    Prior to the 1980s, lapses in government funding did not result in government operations significantly shuttering. But then-U.S. Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti, in a series of legal opinions in 1980 and 1981, argued that government agencies cannot legally operate during a funding gap.

    Federal officials have since operated under an understanding they can make exemptions for functions that are “essential” for public safety and constitutional duties.

    Since 1976, there have been 22 funding gaps, with 10 of them leading to workers being furloughed. But most of the significant shutdowns have taken place since Bill Clinton’s presidency, when then-Speaker Newt Gingrich and his conservative House majority demanded budget cuts.

    The longest government shutdown happened between 2018 and 2019 when then-President Trump and congressional Democrats entered a standoff over his demand for funding for a border wall. The disruption lasted 35 days, through the holiday season, but was also only a partial government shutdown because Congress had passed some appropriations bills to fund parts of the government.

    WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO END A SHUTDOWN?

    It’s the responsibility of Congress to fund the government. The House and Senate have to agree to fund the government in some way, and the president has to sign the legislation into law.

    The two sides are deeply entrenched and nowhere near reaching a deal to avert a shutdown.

    But if the shutdown lasts for weeks, pressure will build to end the impasse, particularly if active-duty military members miss pay dates on Oct. 13 or Nov. 1. If the wider public starts seeing disruptions in air travel or border security as workers go unpaid, it will further goad Congress to act.

    Congress often relies on a so-called continuing resolution, or CR, to provide stopgap money to open government offices at current levels as budget talks are underway. Money for pressing national priorities, such as emergency assistance for victims of natural disasters, is often attached to a short-term bill.

    But hardline Republicans say any temporary bill is a non-starter for them. They are pushing to keep the government shut down until Congress negotiates all 12 bills that fund the government, which is historically a laborious undertaking that isn’t resolved until December, at the earliest.

    Trump, who is Biden’s top rival heading into the 2024 election, is urging on the Republican hardliners.

    If they are successful, the shutdown could last weeks, perhaps even longer.

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    McCarthy and Gaetz Spar in Heated Meeting Ahead of Government Shutdown

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    Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) got in a heated exchange during a Thursday morning conference meeting, with the Florida Republican accusing the speaker of paying influencers to attack him on social media.

    The confrontation comes while Gaetz is threatening to introduce a motion to vacate — a mechanism to oust a speaker — if McCarthy backs a bipartisan stopgap funding bill to avert a government shutdown.

    Gaetz has been vocal in his criticisms of McCarthy’s leadership in recent days, arguing that a bipartisan short-term spending bill would be a breach of the deal McCarthy made with conservatives to obtain the gavel in January.

    During the Thursday meeting McCarthy made the case that they need to send a stopgap that includes border security to strengthen their hand in negotiations with the Senate.

    Tensions between the two lawmakers and Gaetz critics were evident, according to multiple sources in the meeting.

    During the open mic portion of the conference meeting, Gaetz asked McCarthy “if he was behind the effort to get ‘MAGA influencers’ to attack him,” one lawmaker told Axios.

    McCarthy shot back saying that “he wouldn’t waste his time or money on him. Matt said he was “willing to give (Kevin) the benefit of the doubt,” the source added.

    McCarthy’s outside legal council sent a cease and desist notification on Tuesday to an individual leading the push for influencers to come out against Gaetz, according to materials viewed by Axios. That individual had allegedly claimed they were acting on behalf of McCarthy.

    Congress remains at an impasse on finding a path forward to keep the government open that doesn’t put McCarthy’s speakership on shakier ground ahead of their Sept. 30 deadline.

    McCarthy is pushing for a vote on a stopgap resolution with conservative priorities attached on Friday, which is unlikely to receive enough support to pass the lower chamber.

    Moderates in the House are weighing procedural tactics to force a vote on a bipartisan measure.

    The Senate has taken a more bipartisan approach, hoping to force the House’s hand in passing a measure to avert a shutdown.

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    Kari Lake Launching Arizona Senate Campaign Oct. 10

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    Kari Lake will announce a run for Kyrsten Sinema’s Senate seat next month, setting the stage for what is expected to be one of 2024’s most competitive and unpredictable races.

    Lake told The Wall Street Journal she will launch her next campaign at an Oct. 10 rally. The race looks likely to be a three-way matchup between the Republican Lake, Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego and Sinema, who now identifies as an independent. The winner of the seat could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

    “We need to get a senator in there who is going to fight back and put America first,” Lake said in an interview.

    Arizona is a top battleground in next year’s presidential and Senate elections, and combined campaign spending in the state will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Voters here have narrowly elected Democrats for president, governor and Senate over the past several cycles, after moderate Republicans and independents moved away from former President Donald Trump and his GOP allies, including Lake.

    Sinema hasn’t said if she will run for re-election but her team has been putting in place the infrastructure for a third-party campaign, the Journal has reported. Gallego, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is running and is expected to be the Democratic nominee.

    Over the past year, Lake has traveled the country fundraising for her lawsuits, held a book tour and acted as official surrogate for Trump’s presidential campaign. She recently knocked on doors for him in Iowa and appeared as a surrogate at the Republican debate Wednesday.

    She has been discussed as a potential running mate for Trump, though she could be a less likely choice if she is the GOP nominee in a crucial Senate race. Lake declined to answer what she would do if Trump offered her the vice presidential-nominee slot.

    Lake, a rock star with the Republican base, is expected to win the GOP nomination for Senate, and her aides say they are already looking ahead to a general election. Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb is running, but so far has struggled to gain traction.

    Blake Masters, who lost his bid to unseat Sen. Mark Kelly (D., Ariz.) last cycle, had been moving forward with a run, the Journal reported. However, he put those plans on hold after Trump called him and walked through Lake’s strengths in a GOP primary, according to people familiar with the call. The people said he still hasn’t officially ruled out getting in the race.

    Even national Republicans who had initially expressed misgivings about a Lake run have mostly come to accept she will likely be the party’s nominee, though they lament that her candidacy makes what was once an obvious pickup opportunity for Republicans more difficult.

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) hasn’t committed to spending national-campaign cash in the state, and people close to him say they would need to see Lake prove she is able to run a competitive race. Lake said she hopes to meet with McConnell soon and that she would vote for him for leader of the Republican Party if he was the top Republican choice. She is set to meet with Republicans across the ideological spectrum during a Washington, D.C., visit next week.

    “I’d like to meet them to show them that I’m a very reasonable person who loves my state,” she said. Democrats have a 51-49 Senate majority including the three independents who caucus with them.

    Lake is set next week to meet with Josh Holmes, a Republican strategist who is close to McConnell and often meets with candidates in competitive states. During that same trip to Washington, Lake will have meetings with several other senators, including Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), a McConnell ally seen as his possible successor. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) is expected to sherpa her visit.

    The National Republican Senatorial Committee has been helping set up meetings for Lake and has been advising on campaign strategy. NRSC aides also have been in touch with Lamb and Masters. The NRSC hasn’t ruled out an endorsement in the race.

    “She is a talented campaigner with an impressive ability to fire up the grassroots,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R., Mont.), chair of the NRSC.

    Senate Democratic leaders also haven’t picked a side in the race. Sinema, the incumbent, is still a critical vote for the party.

    Lake lost her 2022 election by just over 17,000 votes in large part because 11% of Republicans and people who lean Republican voted for Democrat Katie Hobbs, now the governor, while only 4% of Democrats and those who lean Democrat backed Lake. Independent voters also backed Hobbs by nearly 30 points, 63%-35%, according to the election survey AP VoteCast.

    Democrats, including Biden in 2020 and Sinema in 2018, have won the state with similar narrow coalitions.

    A path to victory for Sinema in a three-way race, however, would be very difficult. A flier being circulated by Sinema’s camp and viewed by the Journal said a winning formula for her could include 10%-20% of Democrats, 60%-70% of independent voters and 25%-35% of Republicans—margins that far exceed her 2018 totals with independents and Republicans.

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    Huge Explosion ‘Caused by EV Batteries’ Rips Through Airport. 160+ Injured in Blast Felt for 20 Miles.

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    A Boy of 15 has been killed in a giant explosion feared to have been triggered by detonating electric car batteries.

    At least 163 were also injured following the huge blast in a customs warehouse near Tashkent Airport in Uzbekistan in the early hours, which was felt up to 20 miles away.

    Shocking footage shows the explosion at 2.43am local time, which caused damage to hundreds of houses and other buildings over a vast area.

    Batteries for electric cars exploded at the airport warehouse, it is understood.

    Dozens of ambulances ferried the wounded to hospitals and at least five children suffered wounds from shattered glass.

    A 15-year-old boy died after a frame collapsed on his head due to the explosion.

    It is unclear how many people were in the warehouse when it exploded.

    Initial reports suggested a plane crash, forcing authorities in the ex-Soviet state to deny this was the cause of the thunderous explosion that shook much of the city.

    The Uzbek Interior Ministry later claimed lightning struck a warehouse where electric cars and batteries were stored, sparking the blast and fire.

    But there were later doubts that lightning had been a factor in the explosion.

    There are suspicions explosives were also present in the Inter Logistics LLC warehouse given the scale of the blast, but this was officially denied.

    Sixteen separate fire teams rushed to battle the enormous blaze which covered more than 32,000 square feet.

    The blast wave was felt by residents of Nurafshan, a town south of Tashkent, some 20 miles from the epicentre of the explosion.

    The Uzbek Emergencies Ministry said: “In some social media, fake news spread that the incident in the Sergeli district was a result of a plane crash. This is an absolute lie.”

    The ministry later said it was working to establish full details of the cause of the explosion.

    Flights at the nearby Tashkent airport were reportedly not impacted by the explosion and inferno.

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    Teary-Eyed Influencer ‘Meatball,’ Who Livestreamed Philly Looting Mayhem, Is Hit with 6 Felonies

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    The Philadelphia social media influencer arrested while she livestreamed Tuesday night’s looting mayhem fought back tears as she was charged with six felonies.

    Dayjia Blackwell, better known as “Meatball,” shared her firsthand view of the chaos, in which looters targeted several businesses including Apple, Foot Locker and Lululemon, before being caught.

    In the videos posted to her Instagram Stories, Blackwell can be heard laughing and cheering on the other looters as she stood by and watched the chaos unfold.

    At one point during her stream, Blackwell turned to face her camera and challenged the cops to arrest her.

    “Tell the police they’re either gonna lock me up tonight, or it’s gonna get lit, it’s gonna be a movie,” she said at one point.

    “This is what happens when we don’t get justice in this city,” she screamed as she joined a crowd of youngsters in the street.

    Blackwell’s video showed hordes of looters rushing into the Apple store and running away with iPhones and tablets.

    “Free iPhones! Free iPhones,” Blackwell yelled.

    Police used the social media posts of Blackwell and other alleged looters to determine their precise location amid the chaos, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    On Wednesday, “Meatball” was handed eight separate charges including six felonies stemming from her involvement with the looting, according to court documents viewed by The Post.

    Blackwell was charged with burglary, criminal trespassing, conspiracy, criminal mischief, riot with the intent to commit a felony and criminal use of a communication facility.

    Police also issued the influencer two misdemeanors — receiving stolen property and hazardous conditions/physically offensive.

    Blackwell’s bail was set for $25,000, which she posted early Thursday, according to the documents.

    Following the mass looting in the City Center neighborhood and its surrounding areas, Philadelphia police heightened security around the city Wednesday night.

    But that didn’t stop some from causing more havoc.

    Several stores were struck including a liquor store, according to footage captured by NBC Philadelphia, and a Wells Fargo drive-up ATM that was stolen.

    In total, at least 52 people have been arrested over the past two days for their involvement in the looting.

    Interim Chief of Police John Stanford told the outlet the lootings were executed by “opportunists” who took advantage of the anger over the decision in the Eddie Irizarry case.

    Thousands of people took to the streets Tuesday afternoon to protest Municipal Judge Wendy Pew’s decision to dismiss all charges, including murder and manslaughter, against police officer Mark Dial, who fatally shot Irizarry through a car window during an August traffic stop.

    The protest ended around 7:30 Tuesday night, just before the city turned hectic as the unruly mob overpowered security and police officers to ransack the stores.

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    Michael Gambon, Actor Who Played Dumbledore in ‘Harry Potter’ Films, Dies at 82

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    Michael Gambon, the Irish-born actor knighted for his storied career on the stage and screen and who went on to gain admiration from a new generation of moviegoers with his portrayal of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore in six of the eight “Harry Potter” films, has died. He was 82.

    The actor died on Wednesday following “a bout of pneumonia,” his publicist, Clair Dobbs, said Thursday.

    “We are devastated to announce the loss of Sir Michael Gambon. Beloved husband and father, Michael died peacefully in hospital with his wife Anne and son Fergus at his bedside,” his family said in a statement.

    While the Potter role raised Gambon’s international profile and found him a huge audience, he had long been recognized as one of Britain’s leading actors. His work spanned TV, theater and radio, and he starred in dozens of films from “Gosford Park” and “The King’s Speech” to the animated family movie “Paddington.” He recently appeared in the Judy Garland biopic “Judy,” released in 2019.

    Gambon was knighted for his contribution to the entertainment industry in 1998.

    The role of the much loved Professor Dumbledore was initially played by another Irish-born actor, Richard Harris. When Harris died in 2002, after two of the films in the franchise had been made, Gambon took over and played the part from “Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban” through to “Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2.”

    He once acknowledged not having read any of J. K Rowling’s best-selling books, arguing that it was safer to follow the script rather than be too influenced by the books. That didn’t prevent him from embodying the spirit of the powerful wizard who fought against evil to protect his students.

    Fiona Shaw, who played Petunia Dursley in the “Harry Potter” series, recalled Gambon telling her how central acting was to his life.

    “He did once say to me in a car ‘I know I go on a lot about this and that, but actually, in the end, there is only acting’,” Shaw told the BBC on Thursday. “I think he was always pretending that he didn’t take it seriously, but he took it profoundly seriously.”

    Born in Dublin on Oct. 19, 1940, Gambon was raised in London and originally trained as an engineer, following in the footsteps of his father. He made his theater debut in a production of “Othello” in Dublin.

    In 1963 he got his first big break with a minor role in “Hamlet,” the National Theatre Company’s opening production, under the directorship of the legendary Laurence Olivier.

    Gambon soon became a distinguished stage actor and received critical acclaim for his leading performance in “Life of Galileo,” directed by John Dexter. He was frequently nominated for awards and won the Laurence Olivier Award 3 times and the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards twice.

    A multi-talented actor, Gambon was also the recipient of four coveted British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards for his television work.

    He became a household name in Britain after his lead role in the 1986 BBC TV series “The Singing Detective,” written by Dennis Potter and considered a classic of British television drama. Gambon won the BAFTA for best actor for the role.

    Gambon also won Emmy nominations for more recent television work — as Mr. Woodhouse in a 2010 adaption of Jane Austen’s “Emma,” and as former U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson in 2002’s “Path to War.”

    Gambon was versatile as an actor but once told the BBC he preferred to play “villainous characters.” He played gangster Eddie Temple in the British crime thriller “Layer Cake” — a review of the film by the New York Times referred to Gambon as “reliably excellent” — and a Satanic crime boss in Peter Greenaway’s “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.”

    He also had a part as King George V in the 2010 drama film “The King’s Speech.” In 2015 he returned to the works of J.K. Rowling, taking a leading role in the TV adaptation of her non-Potter book “The Casual Vacancy.”

    Gambon retired from the stage in 2015 after struggling to remember his lines in front of an audience due to his advancing age. He once told the Sunday Times Magazine: “It’s a horrible thing to admit, but I can’t do it. It breaks my heart.”

    Gambon was always protective when it came to his private life. He married Anne Miller and they had one son, Fergus. He later had two sons with set designer Philippa Hart.

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    The Second Republican Debate’s Biggest Highlights

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    On Wednesday, the seven Republicans who qualified for the second primary debate appeared onstage at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, where they discussed former President Donald Trump—who once again skipped the debate—the United Auto Workers strike, the border, education, and other key issues.

    Trump still dominates polls, often earning more than 50% of the Republican vote. Since the first GOP primary debate in August, none of his rivals have gotten much closer to displacing him. The rest of the field has reshuffled, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, long viewed as Trump’s biggest rival, falling behind former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley in some surveys.

    These were the candidates on hand for Wednesday’s debate:

    • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
    • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
    • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum
    • Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley
    • Former Vice President Mike Pence
    • Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina
    • Vivek Ramaswamy

    Here are the most notable moments from Wednesday’s debate:

    United Auto Workers strike

    The debate opened with questions about striking auto workers and whether they should be fired for causing disruptions at several plants and distribution centers.

    Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy said he doesn’t have much patience for union leaders but sympathizes with workers, urging them to picket in front of the White House to protest President Joe Biden’s economic policies. “I understand that hardship is not a choice,” Ramaswamy said, citing his parents’ economic struggles while he was growing up. “But victimhood is a choice and we choose to be victorious in the United States of America.”

    Former Vice President Mike Pence chimed in, claiming “Bidenomics has failed” and that the President’s economic policies are “good for Beijing and bad for Detroit.” “Joe Biden doesn’t belong on a picket line, he belongs on the unemployment line,” Pence said.

    North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum steered the conversation to foreign affairs, a focus of his campaign, and blamed Biden for subsidizing electric vehicles with batteries sourced from China.

    Haley responded to the question about striking workers by pitching her economic plan “to get more cash in the pockets of workers,” a plan that includes eliminating gas and diesel taxes and making small business taxes permanent.

    DeSantis says Trump is “missing in action” for skipping debate

    After a round of questions about the UAW strike, the moderators turned to the looming government shutdown. Speaking for the first time, DeSantis took the opportunity to knock Trump for not showing up to the debate.

    “Donald Trump is missing in action,” DeSantis said in response to a question on whether populist Republicans are to blame for the shutdown. “He should be on this stage tonight. He owes it to you to defend his record.”

    DeSantis criticized Trump for adding more than $7 trillion to the nation’s debt during his presidency, which Christie also noted, while chiding him for not showing up.

    “Donald Trump, he hides behind the walls of his golf clubs and won’t show up here to answer questions,” Christie said. “He puts $7 trillion on the debt, he should be in this room to answer those questions.”

    Christie said “everyone” is to blame for the shutdown.

    “Voters should blame everybody who’s in Washington, D.C. They’re being sent down there to do the job, and they’ve been failing at doing the job for a very long time,” Christie said. “If the government closes, it is to the blame of everyone in Washington, D.C.”

    Southern border crisis 

    Amid a spike in unlawful border crossings, Haley proposed defunding sanctuary cities, adding 25,000 more border patrol and ICE agents, and implementing a catch-and-deport policy instead of a catch-and-release policy. She suggested no money should go toward addressing the root causes of migration until the border is secure.

    Christie suggested the surge in migrants across the southern border be treated as a law-enforcement issue, vowing to sign an executive order to send the National Guard to partner with Customs and Border Patrol to stop the flow of fentanyl and accusing Trump of failing to complete the border wall he touted in his 2016 campaign.

    Ramaswamy said that he agreed with his fellow Republicans, but is going even further by supporting the end of birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants. He also advocated for militarizing the Southern border, while DeSantis supported using the military to go after Mexican drug cartels. “Those Mexican drug cartels are going to be treated like the foreign terrorist organizations they are,” DeSantis said.

    Candidates take aim at Ramaswamy over business record and China

    Like in the first debate, the 38-year-old Ramaswamy again became a target of the other candidates, with his rivals taking aim at his business record.

    “Last debate, he said we were all ‘bought and paid for’ and I thought about that for a little while, and said, you know, I can’t imagine how you can say that knowing that you were just in business with the Chinese Communist Party and the same people that funded Hunter Biden [with] millions of dollars was a partner of yours as well,” Scott said.

    Ramaswamy called the accusation “nonsense” and said he pulled his company out of the Chinese market while other companies were expanding there.

    “You know what I did with my first company? We opened a subsidiary in China. But you know what I did that was different than every other company? We got the hell out of there,” he said.

    “Yeah, right before you ran for president,” Haley said.

    Candidates clash in sharp exchange over U.S. support for Ukraine

    In an exchange that brought out some of the starkest differences in opinion of the night, the candidates clashed over the United States’ ongoing support for Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing invasion, an issue that has become a sticking point in negotiations in Washington to avoid a government shutdown.

    DeSantis said it’s in the United States’ interest to end the war.

    Scott said “degrading the Russian military” is in “our national vital interest,” now and in the long run.

    “At the end of the day, when you think about the fact, if you want to keep American troops at home, an attack on NATO territory would bring our troops in,” Scott said.

    Ramaswamy said it’s time to “level with the American people.”

    “Just because [Vladimir] Putin’s an evil dictator does not mean Ukraine is good,” Ramaswamy said.

    Haley, who often clashes with Ramaswamy, interjected.

    “A win for Russia is a win for China,” Haley said to Ramaswamy, adding, “I forgot, you like Russia.”

    Pence, supportive of continued Ukraine aid, said, “Peace comes through strength.”

    Christie said of Russia, “If we give them any of Ukraine, next will be Poland.”

    Haley to Ramaswamy: “I feel a little bit dumber” after listening to you

    Haley slammed Ramaswamy during a discussion on TikTok, after a moderator noted that the entrepreneur recently joined the social media platform, which has been roundly criticized by Republicans as being a spy mechanism for China.

    “You joined TikTok after dinner with boxer and influencer Jake Paul. Should the commander in chief be so easily persuaded by an influencer?” Varney, the moderator, asked Ramaswamy.

    “So the answer is, I have a radical idea for the Republican Party,” Ramaswamy said. “We need to win elections, and part of how we win elections is reaching the next generation of young Americans where they are.”

    Haley jumped in, calling Ramaswamy’s position “infuriating.”

    “TikTok is one of the most dangerous social media apps that we could have,” she said. “Honestly every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say.”

    She later said, “We can’t trust you.”

    “I think we would be better served as a Republican Party if we’re not sitting here hurling personal insults and actually have a legitimate debate about policy,” Ramaswamy said.

    DeSantis dismisses polls, and Christie says Trump should be “voted off the island”

    In the last segment of the night, moderator Dana Perino asked the candidates to write down which candidate on stage they would choose to vote “off the island.” Mathematically, Perino pointed out, the crowded field gives Trump a clearer path to the nomination.

    But DeSantis dismissed the exercise, suggesting it would be disrespectful to his fellow candidates. Asked instead to explain his path to the nomination in the face of Trump’s “commanding and enduring lead,” DeSantis likewise dismissed the polls.

    “Polls don’t elect presidents, voters elect presidents,” DeSantis said. “And we’re going to take the case to voters in these early states. We’re going to do it in a state by state direction. And why? Because as Reagan said in his day, this is our time for choosing.”

    But Christie was happy to weigh in on the original question.

    “I’d vote Donald Trump off the island right now,” Christie said.

    “Every person on this stage has shown the respect for Republican voters to come here, to express their views honestly, and candidly, and directly, and to take your questions directly,” Christie said, adding that he has “respect for every man and woman on this stage.”

    But Trump, who ditched the debate, has caused great rifts in the country, Christie said.

    “This guy has not only divided our party, he’s divided families all over this country,” Christie said. “He’s divided friends all over this country. I’ve spoken to people, and I know everyone else has, who have sat at Thanksgiving dinner, or at a birthday party, and can’t have a conversation anymore if they disagree with Donald Trump. He needs to be voted off the island, and he needs to be taken out of this process.”

    Ramaswamy said, although he disagrees with Christie on Trump, that “the America first agenda does not belong to one man … it belongs to you, the people of this country.”

    With that, the debate concluded.

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    Trump Responds After GOP Opponents Take Turns Bashing Him in Debate

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    Former President Donald Trump, responding to heated criticisms from his primary opponents during the second GOP debate, said it was “much more important” for him to work to “save” autoworkers Wednesday night than to appear at the debate due to his massive lead in the primary polls, while dismissing Chris Christie’s “Donald Duck” nickname for him.

    Trump did not attend the second Republican debate in Simi Valley, California—much to the dismay of his GOP primary opponents, who repeatedly brought him up, stressing that he should have been on the stage to defend the record of his administration.

    “I thought it was much more important, considering I have a 56-point lead, for me to be dealing with the UAW and the fact that the Biden Administration is going to destroy their jobs over the next two years by going all electric vehicle,” Trump told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview Wednesday night.

    Trump spoke before a crowd of autoworkers in Clinton Township, Michigan Wednesday night, pleading that, if elected, the future of the automobile will be “Made in America.”

    “The crowd was incredible—unreal,” he said. “I think we have great support to save the autoworker.”

    During the debate, though, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie laid into Trump, looking directly into the camera and saying:

    “Donald, I know you’re watching. You can’t help yourself,” Christie said. “You’re ducking these things. And let me tell you what’s going to happen. You keep doing that, no one here’s going to call you Donald Trump anymore.”

    Christie added: “We’re going to call you Donald Duck.”

    Trump told Fox News Digital he had not been watching, but dismissed the nickname.

    “Anybody that would come up with that nickname shouldn’t be running for president,” he told Fox News Digital.

    The most recent Fox News poll shows 60% of Republican primary voters supporting Trump for the GOP nomination — that’s up from 53% in the last survey in August.

    The only other candidates to receive double-digit support in that poll are DeSantis at 13% and Ramaswamy at 11%.

    Haley sits at 5%, with Pence and Scott at 3% each. Christie is polling at 2%, with the remaining GOP candidates receiving less than 1%.

    And according to a new Washington Post/ABC poll from over the weekend, Trump is currently leading President Biden by 10 points in a head-to-head general election survey among voters. The poll said if the 2024 presidential election were held today, Trump would win 52% to 42% over Biden.

    Meanwhile, Biden’s approval rating sits at 37%, according to the poll, while 56% of respondents actively disapprove of his presidency.

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    Vivek Ramaswamy Busted Plagiarizing Obama’s Speeches

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    The Super PAC aligned with Ron Desantis ‘Never Back Down’ has released a supercut of clips showing how Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy continues to rip off lines from Barack Obamas speeches.

    Throughout the campaign, Vivek has been accused of stealing ideas, policies, and lines from other Republican candidates past and present.

    His personal story where he has tried to portray himself as an up-from-the-bootstraps rugged individualist who grew up with working class parents has already been widely debunked.

    His acquisition of vast wealth has also come under scrutiny, revealing that he is either the luckiest investor in history or he is the most unscrupulous insider trader since Ivan Boesky.

    Now comes some pretty concrete proof that he has studied the speeches of Barack Obama and “borrowed” a few lines from him as well.

    Watch:

    Vivek Ramasamy’s past

    At the age of 20 years old, Vivek Ramaswamy had ‘maybe’ voted in the 2004 presidential election. On July 12 Vivek told Scripp News the first time he voted in his life was in 2020, and then switched it to saying he voted in for the libertarian in 2004 and then didn’t vote again until 2020.

    In Aug 2023, the 38-year-old Vivek Ramaswamy had spent his entire adult life as a hedge fund grifter. In fact, by August 2023, Vivek:

    • Vivek paid Wiki editors to scrub his wiki page,
    • His SuperPAC was formed (Feb 17, 2023)
    • Had never engaged in any public service in his entire life,
    • Had never advocated for any policy—ever,
    • Had never registered to vote as “Republican” (and still isn’t),
    • Had never voted in any primary election,
    • Had never voted in any state or local election,
    • He made millions Insider Trading: pump/dump scamming investors with his fake-Alzeheimer’s drugs
    • Incorporated his two main companies Roivant, and Axiovant in Bermuda to avoid paying US taxes, (not in America).
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    Trump Speaks on UAW Strike at Michigan Auto Plant

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    Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday night opted out of the latest 2024 Republican primary debate and instead spoke in Michigan about the ongoing auto workers’ strike.

    The event was held as counter-programming to Trump’s rivals, who gathered in California on the debate stage as he attacked President Joe Biden and urged union employees to back him next year.

    Unions this week drew the attention of both major parties’ presidential front-runners.

    On Tuesday, Biden joined the picket line in Michigan with members of the United Auto Workers in the UAW’s ongoing strike while seeking 46% pay raises and a four-day work week, citing the high profits earned by their employers.

    Trump and his campaign called Biden’s visit to the UAW picket line, which is unprecedented for a president in modern history, a “PR stunt.”

    Trump’s Wednesday event in Clinton Township, Michigan — which the campaign had called a speech to union workers — took place at Drake Enterprises, a non-union auto parts plant.

    Unions and workers were dominant themes in Trump’s speech, though. He began by immediately “saluting” UAW workers and arguing that Biden doesn’t sincerely side with them.

    The crowd here cheered for nearly every line in Trump’s speech.

    In his speech, Trump repeated his pitch for economic nationalism, calling himself the only candidate who wants to protect American labor — which was a key pledge in his previous campaigns.

    He also attacked Biden for the federal government’s environmental regulation push on tailpipe pollution, which would encourage more electric vehicle manufacturing — while also raising the concerns of auto workers like those in the UAW.

    “You’re all on picket lines and everything, but it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference what you get because in two years — you’re all going to be out of business. You’re not getting anything. What they’re doing to the auto industry in Michigan and throughout the country is absolutely horrible and ridiculous,” he said.

    At the picket line on Tuesday, Biden said, in part, “Folks, stick with it because you deserve the significant raise you need and other benefits.”

    On Wednesday night, Trump went on to criticize the heads of Ford and General Motors for not, as he said, fighting against electric vehicles and instead “giving up” too quickly. Both companies have signaled they see increased value in making more electric vehicles, given larger trends in the industry.

    Trump later went after Biden again, saying the president treats American jobs as “disposable.”

    “Joe Biden claims to be ‘the most pro union president’ in history. Nonsense,” Trump added.

    After being told in an NBC News interview that UAW President Shawn Fain was fiercely critical of him, Trump said he did not want the union’s endorsement. On Wednesday, however, he struck a different tone.

    “Hopefully your leaders at United Auto Workers will endorse Donald Trump,” he said.

    Though Fain criticized Trump this week and said there would be “no point” in meeting with him, Trump called Fain a “good man” but said it was time to endorse him. Only then, Trump said, will he “not say a bad thing about them again.”

    Trump’s message to the UAW president: endorse him so “you can take a nice two-month vacation come back and you guys are going to be better than you ever were.”

    The former president said he wouldn’t force people away from electric vehicles but wanted to give people the opportunity to choose.

    Of the GOP primary debate also held on Wednesday, Trump attacked some of his challengers, like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and suggested it was a job interview for a lesser role in his administration.

    He asked his crowd who they thought he should pick as his running mate. They yelled out for former Michigan gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, who was in attendance.

    Trump also briefly talked about the indictments against him. He has pleaded not guilty in all four cases.

    “Just like you’re fighting for your rights in your American dream, I’m fighting for my rights and fighting for my freedom against the coordinated … very politicized forces of evil. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Trump told the attendees.

    He said his second presidency would be about “patriotic protectionism,” slamming the amount of money the U.S. has given to Ukraine and claiming he would bring more jobs back home.

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    Trump Leads Biden 46-41 in New Poll

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    Former President Donald Trump has opened up a lead over President Joe Biden, according to the latest Harris/Messenger poll conducted by HarrisX.

    The poll, taken September 13-19 among 3,015 registered voters, found that Trump led Biden, 46%-41%. The margin of error was plus or minus 1.8 percentage points.

    Trump has gained ground from the last Messenger/Harris poll conducted September 6-11, where Trump led Biden, 44%-43%.

    Dritan Nesho, chief pollster and CEO at HarrisX said polls last week picked up on a bad news week for Biden—as Republicans barreled towards an impeachment inquiry and his son, Hunter, was indicted.

    “Biden’s poll numbers will likely bounce back, but in general he’s begun to lag in national polls,” Nesho said.

    Eighty-six percent of Republicans backed Trump, while 80% of Democrats backed Biden. Independents backed Trump, 42%-34%, while 24% were undecided.

    Forty percent of voters approve of Biden’s job performance as president, while 56% disapprove. And only 31% say Biden should run for reelection, while 69% said that he should not seek another term.

    Trump continues to enjoy stronger support from his political base. When asked if Trump should seek another term, 44% said he should, while 56% said he shouldn’t.

    While 57% of Democrats think Biden shouldn’t run again, only 27% of Republicans say the same about Trump. A majority of Republicans (73%) believe Trump should seek the presidency again.

    Trump remains the clear frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination.

    In the national GOP primary, Trump led with 56% support. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was in a distant second place with 14%. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and venture capitalist Vivek Ramaswamy were at 5% each, and 7% said they didn’t know. All of the other candidates were at 3% or less.

    DeSantis remains the most popular second-choice option. When respondents were asked who they would back if Trump didn’t run for president, 35% said DeSantis, 17% said Ramaswamy, and 11% said Pence.

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