Trump Hush-Money Trial Set to Start March 25, Judge Rejects Dismissal Request
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Donald Trump’s hush-money trial will go ahead as scheduled with jury selection starting on March 25, a New York judge ruled Thursday, turning aside demands for a delay from the former president’s defense lawyers.

The decision sets the stage for a case centered on years-old accusations that Trump sought to bury stories about extramarital affairs that arose during his 2016 presidential campaign. It will be the first of the four criminal prosecutions against Trump to proceed to trial.

Other cases charge him with plotting to overturn the results of the 2020 election and illegally hoarding classified documents at his Florida estate.

In leaving the trial date intact, Judge Juan Manuel Merchan took advantage of a delay in the separate prosecution in Washington related to efforts to undo the election. That case, originally set for trial on March 4, has been effectively on hold pending the outcome of an appeal from Trump on the legally untested question of whether a former president enjoys immunity from prosecution.

Noting that he resisted defense lawyer urgings from months ago to postpone the trial, Merchan said: “I’m glad I took that position because here we are — the D.C. case did not go forward.”

The hush money trial is expected to last up to six weeks, the judge said.

Assuming the New York case remains on schedule, it will open just weeks after the Super Tuesday elections, colliding on the political calendar with a time period in which Trump will be looking to mathematically sew up the Republican race and emerge as the presumptive nominee in this year’s presidential contest. His attorneys cited that schedule in vigorously objecting to the March trial date.

“It is completely election interference to say ‘you are going to sit in this courtroom in Manhattan,’ when there is no reason, said defense lawyer Todd Blanche. “What about his rights.”

Speaking to reporters in a courthouse hallway, Trump made a similar case, asserting to reporters that the case was being brought to hurt him politically and would interfere with his campaigning.

“How can you run for election if you’re sitting in a courthouse in Manhattan all day long? I’m supposed to be in South Carolina now,” said Trump, already the GOP front-runner to face President Joe Biden in November.

In fact, Trump has repeatedly attended court proceedings where his presence was not required.

Merchan held firm, telling Blanche that he had already considered — and rejected — his position, at one point snapping at the lawyer to “Stop interrupting me, please!”

Thursday marked Trump’s first return visit to court in the New York case since that historic indictment made him the first ex-president charged with a crime. Since then, he has also been indicted in Florida, Georgia and Washington, D.C.

In recent weeks, he’s blended campaign events with voluntary court appearances, attending on Monday a closed hearing in a Florida case charging him with hoarding classified records.

A separate hearing was unfolding in Atlanta on Thursday as a judge was hearing arguments on whether to toss Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis off of the state’s election interference case because of a personal relationship with a special prosecutor she hired.

The New York case has long been considered arguably the least legally perilous of the four indictments Trump faces, with the alleged misconduct — generally known for years — seen by many as less grave than accusations of mishandling classified documents or plotting to subvert a presidential election.

The Washington case charging him with election interference was officially delayed last month, with the Supreme Court now weighing the immunity question. There’s no new date. The classified documents case in Florida is set for trial on May 20, but that date could be moved. No trial is scheduled in the Atlanta case.

Over the past year, Trump has lashed out at Merchan as a “Trump-hating judge,” asked him to step down from the case and sought to move the case from state court to federal court, all to no avail. Merchan has acknowledged making several small donations to Democrats, including $15 to Trump’s rival Joe Biden, but said he’s certain of his “ability to be fair and impartial.”

Thursday’s proceeding is part of a busy, overlapping stretch of legal activity for the Republican presidential front-runner, who has increasingly made his court involvement part of his political campaign.

Trump is also awaiting a decision, possibly as early as Friday, in a New York civil fraud case that threatens to upend his real estate empire. If the judge rules against Trump, who is accused of inflating his wealth to defraud banks, insurers and others, he could be on the hook for millions of dollars in penalties among other sanctions.

Along with clarifying the trial schedule, Merchan also rejected a request by Trump’s lawyers to throw out the case.

Trump’s lawyers accuse Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, of bringing the case to interfere with Trump’s chances of retaking the White House. Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., declined to pursue a case on the same allegations.

The charges are punishable by up to four years in prison, though there is no guarantee that a conviction would result in prison time.

The case centers on payoffs to two women, porn actor Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, as well as to a Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have a story about Trump having a child out of wedlock. Trump says he didn’t have any of the alleged sexual encounters.

Trump’s lawyer at the time, Michael Cohen, paid Daniels $130,000 and arranged for the publisher of the National Enquirer supermarket tabloid to pay McDougal $150,000 in a practice known as “catch-and-kill.”

Trump’s company then paid Cohen $420,000 and logged the payments as legal expenses, not reimbursements, prosecutors said. Bragg charged Trump last year with falsifying internal records kept by his company, the Trump Organization, to hide the true nature of payments.

Trump’s legal team has argued that no crime was committed.

Read 20 Comments
  • Leisure Suit Larry says:

    Jack Smith needs to assume room temperature!

  • Sicsam says:

    F the judge!

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    FBI Director Warns Chinese Hackers Are Preparing to “Physically Wreak Havoc” on US



    Chinese hackers are developing the “ability to physically wreak havoc on our critical infrastructure at a time of its choosing,” FBI director Christopher Wray said this week.

    He added that the hackers are waiting “for just the right moment to deal a devastating blow.”

    The hacking campaign, known as Volt Typhoon, has embedded itself successfully in several American critical infrastructure companies that include telecommunications, energy and water, and others, he said.

    “Its plan is to land low blows against civilian infrastructure to try to induce panic,” Wray said Thursday at the 2024 Vanderbilt Summit on Modern Conflict and Emerging Threats.

    A Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said this week that Volt Typhoon is part of a criminal ramsonware group and is not related to the government.

    “Some in the US have been using origin-tracing of cyberattacks as a tool to hit and frame China, claiming the US to be the victim while it’s the other way round, and politicizing cybersecurity issues,” the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. said in a separate statement.

    Microsoft and Google security experts have previously linked the hackers to China and Wray said the effort is connected to U.S.-Chinese tensions around Taiwan.

    Wray gave a similar warning to lawmakers on Capitol Hill in February, saying Chinese hackers are intending to “wreak havoc and cause real-world harm to American citizens and communities.”

    Wray and other government officials were testifying in front of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party for a hearing titled “The Chinese Community Party Cyber Threat to the American Homeland and National Security.”

    “There has been far too little public focus on the fact that PRC [People’s Republic of China] hackers are targeting our critical infrastructure – our water treatment plants, our electrical grid, our oil and natural gas pipelines, our transportation systems. And the risk that poses to every American requires our attention now,” Wray told lawmakers at the time.

    Wray also said that “today, and literally every day” Chinese hackers are “actively attacking our economic security, engaging in wholesale theft of our innovation, and our personal and corporate data.”

    “And they don’t just hit our security and economy. They target our freedoms, reaching inside our borders, across America, to silence, coerce, and threaten our citizens and residents,” Wray testified.

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    5 Students Shot During Senior Skip Day Festivities in Maryland



    Five people were shot in Greenbelt, Maryland, during a high school senior skip day party at a park, police said in a Friday evening press conference.

    The shooting happened at Hanover Parkway in Prince George’s County.

    Hundreds of students were gathered for the party before shots rang out around 2:30 p.m., Greenbelt Police Chief Rick Bowers said.

    “My heart breaks for them. These are just kids trying to have a good time,” Bowers said of the victims, who ranged in age from 16 to 18.

    One of the victims was in critical condition, he said, while the others are in stable condition.

    “This is a horrible, tragic, senseless act that happened today,” he added.

    “There is no reason that this occurred. These were seniors or senior skip day.”

    Greenbelt Mayor Emmett V. Jordan echoed Bowers’ sentiment.

    “If a group of high school students can not get together and have a good time, what is the world coming to?”

    Bowers said no arrests have been made, but police believe there is one suspect who escaped when the shooting started.

    “I’m pretty upset by this,” Bowers added as he, Jordan and the city manager vowed to catch the suspect while appealing to the public for help.

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    Biden’s New Title IX Rule Is Worse Than Expected



    The Department of Education just released its long-delayed Title IX rule—a rewrite of the 50 year-old civil rights law so vast that it promises to turn Title IX’s guarantee of sex equality in education completely upside down.

    Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is all of a single sentence. It simply bars sex discrimination in any federally funded education program. It does not matter how much federal funding a school or institution of higher education receives. And it does not matter whether such funding from the federal government is direct or indirect. So yes, even the vast majority of private schools must comply with the rule.

    But this simple longstanding prohibition on sex discrimination has been manipulated by the Biden administration to both undermine constitutional freedoms—like the freedom of speech—and erase the very women that Title IX was enacted to protect.

    The Department of Education has unilaterally expanded the prohibition against discrimination based on “sex” to include a prohibition against discrimination based on: “sex stereotypes, sex-related characteristics (including intersex traits), pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity.”

    Under the Biden administration’s sweeping new Title IX rule, any K–12 school or institution of higher education that receives any federal funding would have to open girls’ bathrooms, locker rooms, housing accommodations, sports teams, and any other sex-separated educational program or offering to biological boys who claim to “identify” as girls. Similarly, boys’ facilities would have to be accessible to biological girls who “identify” as boys.

    And the law’s decimation of equality doesn’t stop there. The regulations also eliminate due process protections for students accused of sexual misconduct (like the right to call witnesses, introduce evidence, or be represented by counsel during an investigation), and violates the First Amendment to the Constitution by forcing teachers and fellow students to use of a student’s “preferred pronouns.”

    The regulations also require K-12 schools to accept a child’s gender identity regardless of biological sex without providing any notice to, much less seeking the approval of, the child’s parents.

    And while the Education Department has punted, at least for the moment, on its second Title IX rule—one that applies only to athletics—the Biden administration’s representation that sports are not included in today’s rule is a complete head fake. By expanding the definition of “sex” to include “gender identity” and applying the rule to all “extracurricular activities,” male and female athletic teams will be a thing of the past. Indeed, the word “athletics” appears in the new rule at least 31 times.

    Furthermore, the Department of Education’s reading of Title IX lacks any support in the text of the title, its implementing regulations, and the law’s congressional history.

    Congress had a chance in 1987 to amend the Title IX “sex” definition to include “gender identity,” when it amended Title IX under the Civil Rights Restoration Act. But it did not.

    Executive agencies are empowered only to promulgate “rules” or “regulations” that implement or interpret laws passed by Congress—not to create completely new laws.

    Apparently, the Department of Education has forgotten that.

    Now the question isn’t if legal challenges will follow, but how fast they’ll come.

    The Independent Women’s Law Center has already indicated it is readying a lawsuit against the Department of Education. Others are likely to follow. Let’s hope so.

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    UPDATE: Man Who Set Himself On Fire Outside Trump NYC Trial Dies In Hospital




    Max Azzarello died Friday night hours after he set himself on fire in a Manhattan park across the street from former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial, police said.

    Original post:

    A Florida man set himself on fire outside Manhattan Criminal Court Friday — as former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial was underway, police said.

    Max Azzarello, 37, of St. Augustine, Florida, shuffled into the public park across the street from the 100 Centre Street courthouse just after 1:30 p.m. — just as the jury was finalized in the historic case, according to cops.

    Once inside the park, which was surrounded by barricades for Trump’s trial, Azzarello took off his jacket, dumped what cops believe was an alcohol-based cleaning accelerant over himself — and then lit himself up.

    “He’s on fire and the area in the park where some of the accelerant spilled is also on fire,” NYPD Chief of Department, Jeffrey Maddrey, said as he described the horror.

    “Civilians, court officers, members of the police department, they run into the park, they make efforts to put him out. They use their coats, they use fire extinguishers.”

    Disturbing footage from the scene showed Azzarello completely engulfed in flames for several minutes as his blackened body twitched on the ground while horrified witnesses screamed in the background.

    Just seconds before lighting himself up, Azzarello had reached into a book bag and retrieved a stack of colorful pamphlets that he tossed into the air — including some that linked to a Substack page with the heading, “I have set myself on fire outside the Trump Trial.”

    In a rambling, incoherent 2,648-word manifesto posted online prior to the ordeal, Azzarello — who identified himself as an investigative researcher — said he had self-immolated as an “extreme act of protest” over a “totalitarian con” and impending “apocalyptic fascist world coup.”

    “The pamphlets appear to be propaganda-based, almost a conspiracy theory type of pamphlet,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said.

    “Some information in regards to Ponzi scheme and the fact that some of our local educational institutes are fronts for the mob. So, a little bit of a conspiracy theory going on here.”

    First responders loaded a severely burned Azzarello into an ambulance and rushed him to Cornell University Hospital’s burns unit where he remained in a critical condition as of Friday afternoon, police said.

    Those who jumped in to help douse the flames — including three NYPD officers and one court officer — suffered minor injuries from their exposure to the fire, FDNY Commissioner Laura Kavanaugh said.

    “It happened fast. He was up in flames and seemed determined,” a witness, only identified as Dave, told The Post.

    “I heard this clattering and it was these papers that he had flung up and they clattered to the ground,” he continued. “Then he pulled out a can and he poured it over himself. At that point, I thought ‘oh this could be awful’.”

    “And after pouring himself with obviously something flammable he took out, I think, a lighter then he lit himself on fire,” he added.

    Disturbing video posted on Instagram showed officers scrambling to put out the flames on metal barriers in the park and the ash-covered man twitching on the ground.

    In the aftermath, cops could be seen scurrying around collecting the discarded flyers.

    Azzarello, who hails from Florida, had arrived in the Big Apple at some point after last Saturday, police said.

    His family weren’t even aware he’d left the Sunshine State, according to cops.

    He was pictured outside the courthouse just on Thursday, holding up a sign that said “Trump is with Biden and they’re about to fascist coup us” and wearing red and black gloves and a backpack.

    Court records show Azzarello had filed a conspiracy-laced lawsuit in Manhattan federal court in April 2023 against over 100 defendants — including the likes of Bill and Hillary Clinton, the country of Saudi Arabia, Mark Cuban, Richard Branson, and Ross Perot.

    The meandering case — filed by Azzarello, without a lawyer — alleged “an elaborate network of Ponzi schemes” dating back to the 1990s and continuing through 2023.

    The lawsuit was tossed, though, last October when Azzarello failed to follow up with required court filings.

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    Iran Threatens Strike on Israeli Nuke Sites



    The Middle East is on the “precipice” of a broader war that can be averted with a two-state solution allowing Israel and Palestine to exist side-by-side with Jerusalem as a shared capital, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council on Thursday.

    However, that solution won’t come from immediate U.S. recognition of a Palestinian state after the U.S. vetoed in the Security Council a draft resolution to that effect Thursday.

    Guterres’ comments came as Tehran warned it has the ability to strike Israeli nuclear sites if Israel targets Iran’s nuclear facilities.

    Guterres said a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis is the basis of U.N. resolutions, international law and previous agreements.

    The current Israeli government, however, has shown little interest in relinquishing control of the occupied territories.

    “One miscalculation, one miscommunication, one mistake, could lead to the unthinkable – a full-scale regional conflict that would be devastating for all involved and for the rest of the world,” he said.

    Guterres called on Israel as the “occupying power” to protect the Palestinian population in the West Bank against violence and intimidation and to allow safe passage for humanitarian aid into Gaza.

    “Let me be clear − the risks are spiraling on many fronts,” he said.

    “We have a shared responsibility to address those risks and pull the region back from the precipice.”

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    Bank of America Boycott Calls Grow After MAGA Accounts Closed



    Bank of America is facing calls for a boycott over allegations it is closing accounts of customers based on their political views.

    Multiple MAGA profiles and Republicans have criticized the bank in recent days over claims, which have been denied by the company, that it is allegedly engaging in a practice known as “de-banking” because of customers’ religious and political beliefs.

    John Eastman, a former lawyer for Donald Trump, recently claimed his Bank of America and USAA accounts were closed in response to his attempts to help the former president overturn the 2020 election results. Eastman was recommended for disbarment from practicing law in March after a judge found his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 results in favor of Trump had violated attorney conduct rules.

    A number of pro-Trump and MAGA social media profiles are now calling for a boycott of Bank of America over the alleged de-banking.

    LJ Lindsey posted on X, formerly Twitter: “No one should be using Bank of America for their personal accounts as they are not personal loan friendly and have not been for years.

    “They want the larger corporate customers. It is time to boycott Bank of America so they are forced to be bought out.”

    The @mnbbrewster account added: “If I had a Bank of America account I would definitely close it. And no further information will be provided. If you have an account with Bank of America boycott them.”

    “If you are MAGA you must BOYCOTT Bank of America. And if you are a MAGA veteran, you must BOYCOTT USAA!,” a user of X posted while sharing an article on Eastman’s accounts.

    Another X user added: “Bank of America thinks it can get involved in politics & de bank patriots that fight against corruption, like the obviously stolen election! BOYCOTT THEM NOW.”

    Elsewhere, 15 Republican attorneys general signed a letter warning Bank of America CEO Brian T. Moynihan against its alleged “discriminatory behavior” targeting people for their political or religious views.

    “Your bank needs to be transparent with and assure us, its shareholders, and others that it will not continue to de-bank customers for their speech or religious exercise,” they wrote.

    In a statement to Fox News, Bank of America spokesperson Bill Halldin denied the claims of alleged de-banking.

    “Religious beliefs are not a factor in any account-closing decision,” Halldin said. “We are proud to provide banking services to non-profit organizations affiliated with diverse faith communities throughout the United States.”

    The letter came after Bank of America was said to have sent the FBI and U.S. Treasury private consumer financial data in order to assist with investigations into the January 6 attack at the Capitol in 2021, reported.

    In a post on X, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey wrote: “Proud to be one of 15 AGs demanding answers from Bank of America for reportedly debanking Missourians.

    “If any company is punishing consumers because of their political beliefs, that may constitute a serious violation of the First Amendment. We will get to the bottom of it.”

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    Hillary Clinton: Trump Wants to Kill His Opposition, Drive Journalists Into Exile



    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a podcast released on Friday that she believes former President Donald Trump wants to model himself after dictators like Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Trump beat Clinton to become president during the 2016 election, and she has alleged that he has connections to Russia.

    Clinton, on the “Democracy Docket” podcast, accused Trump of modeling himself after Russian President Vladmir Putin and other global dictators, suggesting her former opponent wants to commit heinous acts against those who oppose him.

    “Putin does what [Trump] would like to do,” Clinton told election lawyer Marc Elias during the podcast.

    “Kill his opposition, imprison his opposition, drive journalists into exile, rule without any check or balance. That’s what Trump really wants. And so we have to be very conscious of how he sees the world because in that world, he only sees strong men leaders. He sees Putin, he sees Xi, he sees Kim Jong Un in North Korea. Those are the people he is modeling himself after and we’ve been down this road in our, you know, world history. We sure don’t want to go down that again.”


    “My view, having negotiated with Putin, and knowing one of the reasons he went after me is because he knew I would deal with him in an appropriate way, and Trump would basically do whatever he wanted, it’s really important to think about what could happen to our world with Trump back in the White House,” Clinton added.

    “Withdrawing us from NATO, not caring about what happens with Europe … The idea that he wants Ukraine to fail. The idea that he doesn’t want us to be able to surveil our enemies. This is a very scary prospect.”

    Clinton’s 2016 campaign funded a since-discredited dossier assembled by Christopher Steele alleging Trump colluded with Russia during the election.

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    Tesla Recalls All 3878 Cybertrucks Over Faulty Accelerator Pedal



    Tesla has issued a voluntary recall of 3,878 Cybertrucks to fix a “stuck pedal” issue that had been depicted in a viral TikTok video posted last week by owner Jose Martinez.

    A pad on top of the Cybertruck’s accelerator pedal could come loose and get trapped in the interior trim causing unintended acceleration, a Tesla filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledged.

    Tesla’s service department plans to replace or repair the accelerator pedal assembly, free of charge for owners.

    In a defect notice, Tesla revealed that an “unapproved change introduced lubricant (soap) to aid in the component assembly of the pad onto the accelerator pedal. Residual lubricant reduced the retention of the pad to the pedal.”

    Tesla first became aware of this issue on March 31, 2024, according to the filing. After assessing the problem, Tesla on April 12 decided to issue a voluntary recall of the Cybertrucks, the filing says.

    Deliveries of the Cybertruck have been low, with under 4,000 units shipped since CEO Elon Musk kicked off deliveries at an unveiling event on Nov. 30, 2023, the filings said.

    The company reported disappointing first-quarter vehicle deliveries for 2024, totaling 386,810 cars. That represented a drop of 8.5% from the same quarter last year.

    Tesla reports first-quarter earnings on Tuesday.

    CNBC asked the NHTSA about the trapped pedal issue on the Cybertruck on April 14, after Martinez’s video raised public awareness of the defect and unintended acceleration.

    A representative for the NHTSA said on Monday that the agency had received three vehicle owner complaints about the Cybertruck and that the agency was aware of the video.

    The NHTSA said it “uses many data sources in its enforcement processes, including social media and vehicle owner and other related forums.”

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    House Advances Ukraine, Israel Aid as Dems Help Speaker Johnson, GOP



    The House advanced legislation Friday to send aid to Ukraine and other embattled U.S. allies overseas, clearing a key procedural hurdle after Democrats stepped in to back the measure — a rare move by the minority party, but one that was crucial to nudge the package forward in the face of fierce conservative opposition.

    The chamber approved the foreign aid rule in a 316-94 vote, opening up debate on a quartet of bills combining military aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan with humanitarian assistance to Gaza and other global war zones. The successful rule tees up final passage of all four measures, which are scheduled to hit the floor in separate votes Saturday afternoon.

    The advancement brings Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) one step closer to passing an explosive foreign aid package that has been the subject of intense debate within the Capitol — and his conference — for months amid dire warnings from lawmakers, U.S. officials and foreign figures that Kyiv’s beleaguered forces need more U.S. assistance.

    But the bipartisan vote is sure to land Johnson in more hot water with his right flank, which has sharply criticized the package — both for the billions of dollars in Ukraine aid and the exclusion of border security — and have long denounced the Speaker’s tendency to work with Democrats to advance key priorities including, now, foreign assistance.

    Highlighting those internal tensions, three Republicans on the House Rules Committee had voted against the rule on the panel late Thursday night, and 55 conservatives voted against it again when it hit the House floor Friday morning. The House Freedom Caucus released an official position Thursday urging all Republicans to oppose the rule.

    The internal opposition to what has historically been a standard procedural matter has become its own routine this Congress, as conservatives have sought to press GOP leaders to fight harder for Republican priorities — the dynamic that led to the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) last October.

    But despite the drama, Johnson’s job appears safe — for now.

    Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) has filed a resolution to oust the Speaker, but she has not said when she plans to trigger a vote on it. And Thursday, even as she railed against Johnson’s handling of the Ukraine debate, she said she’s not ready to force her vacate resolution to the floor.

    “I’m not acting out of emotions or rash feelings or anger,” Greene said. “I’m doing this the right way, and I’m allowing my conference to see exactly what I saw months ago.”

    Lending Johnson a huge boost — and perhaps a job-security lifeline — former President Trump threw his support behind the Speaker during a joint appearance at Mar-a-Lago last week, a vote of confidence that has muddied Greene’s path forward in her ouster effort.

    Even if she does force a vote to remove Johnson, Democrats are likely to step in and save him. A number of Democrats in recent months have said that if the Speaker moves aid for Ukraine, they will protect him from a conservative coup. Some have predicted there are dozens of Democrats in that camp.

    On Friday’s rule vote, the eleventh-hour help from Democrats did not come as a surprise: President Biden endorsed the foreign aid package earlier this week, and the four Democrats on the Rules Committee voted late Thursday night to advance the package through the panel over the opposition of three committee conservatives.

    Nonetheless, the Democratic support was extraordinary: Members of the minority party rarely help majority leaders pass procedural rules. The only other instance of Democrats helping Republicans advance legislation on a procedural vote this Congress was in May, when Democrats crossed the aisle to support a rule to begin debate on the debt limit bill crafted by Biden and McCarthy.

    Friday’s bipartisan vote to advance the foreign aid package — as well as Johnson’s decision to risk his gavel to bring it to the floor — reflect the urgency felt by leaders in both parties as Ukraine is running low on weapons supplies and Israel is under fire from Iran.

    Full list of vote results here.

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    Republican Introduces Legislation to Defund NPR



    Republican Indiana Rep. Jim Banks introduced legislation Friday to defund National Public Radio (NPR).

    The Daily Caller first obtained a copy of the legislation, which is titled the Defund NPR Act. The bill would cut off any federal funds to NPR.

    An NPR editor, Uri Berliner, published a piece alleging the outlet has deep political bias and that the Washington D.C. bureau employs 87 registered Democrats and zero registered Republicans.

    Berliner resigned after NPR suspended him for publishing the piece.

    NPR’s new CEO, Katherine Maher, has also made headlines as old tweets and clips of her show political bias. Maher, who was hired in March, previously expressed support for President Joe Biden’s campaign in 2020 and called former President Donald Trump a “racist” in 2018.

    She has also described the First Amendment as “the number one challenge” to combatting “misinformation.”

    “NPR’s new CEO is a radical, left-wing activist who doesn’t believe in free speech or objective journalism. Hoosiers shouldn’t be writing her paychecks. Katherine Maher isn’t qualified to teach an introductory journalism class, much less capable of responsibly spending millions of American tax dollars,” Banks told the Caller before introducing the bill.



    “NPR was a liberal looney bin under the last CEO John Lansing, and it’s about to get even nuttier. It’s time to pull the plug on this national embarrassment. Congress must stop spending other people’s hard-earned money on low grade propaganda,” he added.

    The legislation has appeared to pick up the support of businessman Elon Musk, who said it was “great” Banks is introducing the bill.

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    Witness Claims Matt Gaetz Attended Drug-Fueled Party with Underage Girl in Statement to Lawmakers



    The House Ethics Committee is investigating whether or not Rep. Matt Gaetz used illicit drugs as a member of Congress, multiple sources familiar with the committee’s work told ABC News.

    Committee investigators have inquired about whether Gaetz was under the influence of drugs at parties in Florida after becoming a member of Congress in 2017, according to the sources.

    According to a sworn written statement that has been obtained by the Ethics committee, a woman says that in summer of 2017, when she was 20 years old, she attended a party in Florida that Gaetz also attended, which featured alcohol and drugs including cocaine and MDMA, sources familiar with the committee’s work told ABC News.

    In the sworn statement, which has not been previously reported, the woman said that in addition to Gaetz, the party was attended by the then-minor who was at the center of a yearslong Justice Department investigation into accusations that the Florida Congressman had sex with her when she was 17, according to sources.

    According to the statement provided to the committee, sources said the woman who made the statement — who ABC News is not identifying — said she saw the then-minor naked at the party, which was also attended by adult men other than Gaetz, and that at the party there allegedly were bedrooms that were made available for sexual activities.

    Gaetz has repeatedly denied all wrongdoing, including the allegations that he had sex with a minor. The Justice Department informed Gaetz in 2023 that it was declining to bring charges against him.

    Though the statement obtained by Congress references Gaetz, it was not written specifically to the Ethics Committee and is not primarily about the congressman, and the woman does not discuss whether or not she had knowledge of Gaetz’s alleged sexual relations with the then-minor, sources said.

    When asked if Rep. Gaetz recalled attending the 2017 party, a spokesperson for the Florida Congressman told ABC News, “No.” The spokesperson also said “no” when asked if Gaetz has used illicit drugs since becoming a member of Congress.

    The sworn statement places Gaetz at a party with the then-minor, who Gaetz has denied ever having a relationship with and previously claimed “doesn’t exist” when asked about the allegations on Fox News in March 2021.

    “The person doesn’t exist,” Gaetz told Tucker Carlson. “I have not had a relationship with a 17-year-old, that is totally false.”

    In March, Gaetz was subpoenaed as a witness by attorneys representing the former minor in a civil lawsuit brought by Gaetz’s longtime friend, Chris Dorworth, who alleges he was defamed by her and others during the Justice Department’s probe into the matter. Gaetz is not a party to the lawsuit. Gaetz’s deposition is slated for June and could see the congressman asked under oath about allegations that he engaged in sexual activity with the woman when she was a minor.

    Last week, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy made headlines when he claimed he was ousted because he would not stop the ongoing House Ethics probe into Gaetz.

    “I’ll give you the truth why I’m not speaker,” McCarthy said at an event at Georgetown University. “It’s because one person, a member of Congress, wanted me to stop an ethics complaint because he slept with a 17-year-old.”

    Gaetz appeared to respond on X, formally known as Twitter, writing, “Kevin McCarthy is a liar. That’s why he is no longer speaker.”

    The House Ethics probe into Gaetz has continued to move forward in recent weeks, with investigators reaching out to more individuals, including young women who were allegedly paid by Gaetz’s one-time close friend Joel Greenberg to attend sex parties, sources said.

    Committee investigators have asked witnesses whether they had seen or had knowledge of Gaetz using and or purchasing drugs himself, sources said.

    ABC News previously reported that the House Ethics Committee had subpoenaed Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend for testimony, which she sat for in late February.

    ABC News also reported that the committee had obtained texts allegedly showing Gaetz setting up a trip to the Florida Keys trip with a separate woman that Greenberg had paid for sex.

    A spokesperson for Gaetz told ABC News at the time, “Rep. Gaetz has no knowledge of these activities by Mr. Greenberg and was not involved in them. Rep. Gaetz has never paid for sex. Rep. Gaetz does not know anything about the woman you’re referencing, though he takes thousands of selfies each year.”

    Gaetz has criticized the Ethics Committee for “trying to weaponize their process.”

    “The Ethics Committee is engaging in payback against me for ousting the person who singularly appointed every Republican — Kevin McCarthy,” Gaetz previously said in a statement to ABC News.

    Go deeper ( 3 min. read ) ➝


    Pentagon Speeding Up Work on First New Nuclear Warhead in 40 Years



    The United States is building the first new nuclear warhead in 40 years but will do so without nuclear testing, Energy Department officials told Congress Wednesday.

    The W93 warhead will be used on submarine-launched ballistic missiles and is being built with $19.8 billion requested by the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) for weapons in fiscal 2025, according to Senate testimony by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and NNSA Administrator Jill Hruby.

    The W93 has been in an early phase of feasibility and design at Los Alamos National Laboratory since May 2022 and is “on track” for production beginning in the mid-2030s, the two officials said in prepared testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    Nuclear forces modernization is the Pentagon’s top priority and the Navy’s nuclear-missile submarines are considered the linchpin of U.S. strategic nuclear forces, which also include ICBMs and bombers.

    NNSA stated on its website that the W93 “will allow the U.S. to keep pace with future adversary threats.”

    All nuclear components will be based on currently deployed and previously tested nuclear designs.

    The W93 will include modern technologies, such as insensitive high explosives used for triggering. Other new features will include improved safety, security and flexibility “to address future threats,” the NNSA said.

    The warhead is said to be lighter than the current W76 and W88 warheads, allowing for greater missile ranges.

    The nuclear missile submarine forces will be scaled down from 14 Ohio-class submarines to 12 Columbia-class missile boats.

    The department also is modernizing five existing warhead types — the B61-12 life extension program, the B61-13, the W88, W87, and W80 warheads under a funding request of $2.84 billion, the two officials’ testimony states.

    The B61 is a nuclear gravity bomb dropped by aircraft and the newer variant will be built by 2025.

    The Biden administration, however, failed to request funds for the new submarine-launched cruise missile-nuclear, known as SLCM-N in the current budget, the two officials stated, blaming the timing of last year’s defense authorization enactment.

    The SLCM-N likely will be armed with the W80 warhead, Ms. Hruby said during a committee hearing.

    The W80 also will be used on the Air Force’s new air-launched, long-range missile.

    Congress demanded the nuclear cruise missile in legislation after its development was opposed by the administration.

    NNSA will continue to work with the Pentagon and Congress to comply with the law, the officials stated.

    The Pentagon-Energy Nuclear Weapons Council ordered development of the new warhead to be sped up and the funds requested for it will seek to achieve that, Ms. Granholm and Ms. Hruby‘s testimony states.

    “The W93 is a new warhead program based on existing designs that will not require new underground nuclear explosive testing,” the two women stated.

    The number used for the warhead – W93 – is the latest effort at a new warhead. The W89 and W92 were canceled after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

    The United States is adhering to a nuclear testing moratorium despite the Senate having rejected the proposed Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1999.

    “The W93 will meet DoD requirements to enhance operational effectiveness of the U.S. ballistic missile submarine force,” Ms. Granholm and Ms. Hruby said.

    Plutonium pits for the warhead will be produced at the Savannah River National Laboratory in South Carolina.

    The warhead, which was requested by Adm. Charles Richard in late 2020 when he was commander of the Omaha-based Strategic Command, will being built with assistance from the British government, which also will be deploying the weapon.

    Adm. Richard, who retired in January 2023, was the first nuclear forces commander to sound the alarm on what he termed China’s nuclear “breakout.”

    China has doubled its nuclear warhead stockpile and has begun deploying multi-warhead intercontinental ballistic missiles at three large missile fields in western China.

    These fields could include up to 360 missiles, military officials have said.

    Go deeper ( 3 min. read ) ➝


    Doctor Faces Judge in One of the Largest Sexual Assault Cases in Army History



    A high-ranking military doctor has been accused of sexually assaulting dozens of male soldiers who he treated at a Washington state US army base.

    Major Michael Stockin, a pain doctor, is facing 47 sexual assault charges in a case that would be one of the biggest of its kind in the US Army’s history, as reported by Fox13.

    Dozens of male soldiers who were treated by Stockin at the Joint Base Lewis McChord’s (JBLM) Madigan Army Medical Center say he groped them under the guise of a sensory exam.

    Ryan Guilds, a lawyer for several victims, told the local outlet that his clients sometimes have bad days ‘because of what happened to them’ or as they ‘come to grips with what happened to them.’

    It’s likely the trial will be pushed until next year, with Guilds saying the delay makes the situation even harder for his clients.

    ‘They’re soldiers, so I think they’ll muck it up and do their best,’ the lawyer said. ‘Ultimately, they’re trying to move forward and what is obviously a lengthy process, and now after today, it’s longer.’

    Authorities say they could be more victims and have asked anyone with information to come forward.

    Charging documents say Stockin tried covering up the sexual abuse by saying it had a ‘medical purpose,’ as reported by CBS News.

    Back in February two of Stockin’s alleged victims spoke anonymously to CBS, saying the doctor betrayed their trust.

    One of the soldiers, who went to see the doctor for shoulder pain, said: ‘Myself and Dr. Stockin were left alone in the room. He first checked my shoulders and then he asked me to stand up and to pull down my pants and lift up my gown.

    ‘Dr. Stockin, he was face level with my groin, and he started touching my genitals.’

    The soldier, a retired command sergeant major, said he was sexually abused by Stockin three times.

    Another soldier, a Command Sergeant Major allegedly abused by the doctor, said the experience has left emotional trauma.

    He said: ‘Even with my wife I couldn’t bring myself to talk through what happened… It just felt very uncomfortable.’

    Stockin previously worked at other army facilities in DC, and Hawaii, but all the victims were treated at the Army hospital located at JBLM.

    He did not enter a plea during a court appearance in February but can still enter one at a later date.

    His lawyer Robert Capovilla has said: ‘We understand, without exception, that in today’s political culture, the media will continue to condemn Major Stockin and render judgment before a jury or judge even hears evidence.’

    Capovilla added he intends to fight every single allegation against his client.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    Maryland Trans Teen Arrested for Planning School Shooting — Cops Find 130-Page Manifesto



    A transgender 18-year-old planned a school shooting because she ‘wanted to be famous’, according to cops who arrested her after finding his 129-page ‘manifesto’.

    Andrea Ye, whose preferred name is Alex, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with making threats of mass violence after allegedly planning to shoot up Wootton High School in Rockville, Maryland.

    Police swooped on Ye after finding a ‘manifesto’ written by the teen which they said ‘writes about committing a school shooting, and strategizes how to carry out the act’.

    In the pages, Ye allegedly wrote that she ‘wants to be famous’ and contemplated targeting an elementary school as ‘little kids make easier targets’.

    According to court documents seen by ABC, Ye first described the manifesto as ‘fiction’ but then later described it as ‘his memoir’.

    Montgomery County Public Schools told Fox that Ye is an active student at Wootton High School in Rockville but has been attending through a virtual program and hadn’t been on campus physically since 2022.

    Police reportedly said in court records that Ye’s sex is female but she uses male pronouns.

    After the FBI alerted Montgomery County Police to the manifesto, they obtained a search warrant and found internet searches, drawings and documents related to threats of mass violence.

    Ye reportedly put a disclaimer in the book saying it doesn’t ‘represent the author’s beliefs’ but a witness – who first contacted authorities in early March – raised concerns that the manifesto bore ‘striking similarities’ to Ye.

    The witness believed the writings indicated Ye was prepared to carry out a mass shooting imminently, according to court documents seen by ABC.

    Authorities said they had determined that the manifesto appears to have ‘portions of fictional and non-fictional qualities’.

    Court documents state that the witness told police that Ye’s ‘memoir’ was about ‘a transgender main character’ named ‘James Wang’.

    They said that ‘Wang’ was ‘being bullied in school and other issues that [the witness] believed were directly from Ye’s life and not indicative of fiction.’

    According to ABC, the manifesto described how the character would ‘cherry pick the classrooms that are the easiest targets’ and said: ‘I have also considered shooting up my former elementary school because little kids make easier targets.’

    Authorities said they found social media posts and searches by Ye allegedly looking up ‘gun range near me,’ and the phrase ‘But, I do recognize that my plan is fully unethical. It’s selfish and evil’, according to court documents seen by ABC.

    The documents reportedly show Ye telling an online user: ‘My homicidal ideation has been getting worse lately to the point I might act on it eventually,’ and then later adding: ‘I’d want to kill a lot of people or it wouldn’t be worth it.’

    Ye was taken into custody on Wednesday and is being held in the Montgomery County Jail while he awaits a bond hearing – he has not yet entered a plea.

    Ye has a long history of inpatient care for mental health issues, according to the court documents seen by ABC, and had openly expressed thoughts of homicidal and suicidal ideation.

    According to the court documents, Ye was previously hospitalized ‘for threatening to ‘shoot up a school’.

    Se was evaluated at his home and then hospitalized again in March, the hospital then raised an alarm with school and law enforcement officials because of ‘the threat posed by Ye.’

    A counselor who had worked with Ye told authorities that she ‘would express violent thoughts such as shooting up the school’ and ‘would smile while saying it,’ according to the documents seen by ABC.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    WATCH: Utah Students Walk Out, Say Classmates Dressed as Furries Are Biting Them



    A group of children and adults staged an hours-long walkout at a Utah middle school on Wednesday over an unusual issue — “furries.”

    The protesters walked out of Mt. Nebo Middle School, which is about an hour south of Salt Lake City, claiming that students who dress as “furries” were being disruptive.

    Furries are people who have an interest in animals with human qualities, according to WebMD.

    In video of the protests shared to social media, students accuse the alleged “furries” at Mt. Nebo of biting, scratching, barking at, spraying air freshener on, and pouncing on other students.

    Some students who walked out complained that the furries wore masks every day, according to a video of the protest shared to social media.

    “They think they’re so cool,” one girl said.

    “We can’t talk or say anything to the furries or even look at them, but they can come look at us and say stuff to us and touch us,” said another girl.

    However, the school district’s public information officer, Seth Sorensen, pushed back on claims about students dressing up as animals. Students may wear headbands with ears, but they do not dress up in full-body animal costumes, he said.

    “Today, we had some students and parents choose to exercise their right to assemble, and do a little protest for what they perceived was something that was happening in the school,” Sorensen told ABC4. “It actually is not something that’s been occurring.”

    “Interestingly enough, they really didn’t address us with anything they wanted changed,” he said. “We want every student to feel safe when they come to school, and we want students to get along. In fact, we want adults to get along.”

    He added that the protest may have been the result of a miscommunication via an email from the school about an altercation between two groups of students.

    The school also said it has worked with some students whose dress and appearance might be disruptive to the school environment.

    At Wednesday’s protest, children held signs reading “Compelled speech is not free speech,” as well as “I will not comply,” and “We just wanted to learn.”

    A petition dubbed “Students for Humans at School, not animals aka furries” has garnered nearly 1,700 signatures so far. The petition asks the school to enforce a dress code, which the petitioners say prohibits students from presenting themselves in a way that disrupts the learning atmosphere or creates a welfare issue.

    The online “furry” fandom often has sexual overtones, although some self-identified “furries” insist sex has nothing to do with their interest in the fandom.

    A 2011 survey of “furries” found that about a quarter of “furries” said they felt less than 100% human.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    Israel Strikes Back at Iran



    Israel has conducted strikes on a target in Iran, defying President Joe Biden’s warnings over plunging the Middle East further into conflict.

    An official told ABC News that strikes hit a site in Iran, however it is unclear what exact target was hit or the extent of the damage.

    Officials say the city of Isfahan in central Iran was struck at 5am local time. The city hosts one of Iran’s nuclear facilities, although US military sources reportedly said the target was not believed to be nuclear.

    Iranian news outlet FARS reported that the strikes were located ‘near Isfahan Airport and the eighth hunting base of the Army Air Force.’

    Iranian state news reported the nation’s air defense systems have been activated, and were firing at an unknown object in Tabriz, around 500 miles north of Isfahan.

    It comes in response to Iran launching a barrage of hundreds of drones and rockets at Israel on Saturday, which was largely thwarted by Israel and its international allies. Isfahan was one of several launch sites used in the attack.

    Biden had warned Israel not to retaliate to Saturday’s strikes and urged them to ‘take the win’ of the foiled Iranian attack.

    Israeli officials warned the Biden administration of its intent to strike before launching, but an official told CNN that the US did not ‘green light’ any Israeli response.

    Several hours after reports of the Israeli strikes emerged, sirens reportedly sounded in northern Israel.

    Flights have been diverted and multiple airports in Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz have been closed following the Israeli attack, and further unconfirmed explosions have reportedly hit Iraq and Syria.

    Although the US military played a central role in halting Iran’s strikes on Saturday, President Biden said he made it ‘very clear’ to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he had to act ‘carefully and strategically.’

    Biden urged Netanyahu to ‘take the win’ of the derailed attack, and cautioned that the US would not participate in any Israeli counter-offensive.

    The Israeli leader brushed off Biden’s warnings, insisting Israel would ‘make its own decisions’ in how to react to Iran’s attack.

    US officials said there was an expectation that if Israel defied warnings, they would not target nuclear or civilian sites.

    The Iranian attack came in retaliation to a suspected Israeli strike on Iran’s consulate in Syria on April 1, which killed 13 people including two generals in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

    As Israel maintained its plans to retaliate on Iran, a senior Iranian official warned that the nation would respond by starting production of nuclear weapons if Israel attacked its nuclear facilities.

    Iran threatened to use ‘weapons it has never used’ if Israel struck, and indicated that it did not wish to continue escalating the conflict unless Israel fired back.

    As the West urged for calmer heads to prevail in the Jewish state, Iranian Parliament’s National Security Committee Abolfazl Amoue stated that Iran is prepared for a ‘painful response’ to the ‘slightest action.’

    On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian also cautioned that Iran would strike back at the ‘maximum level’ if Israel fired.

    ‘In case the Israeli regime embarks on adventurism again and takes action against the interests of Iran, the next response from us will be immediate and at a maximum level,’ Amir-Abdollahian told CNN.

    The instability in the region has immediately impacted global oil markets, with brent crude prices increasing above $90 a barrel as news of the Israeli strikes emerged.

    The Islamic republic, which has always insisted its nuclear program is peaceful and denies seeking an atomic bomb, has accused arch foe Israel of sabotage attacks on its facilities and assassinations of nuclear scientists in recent years.

    According to Ahmad Haghtalab, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ head of nuclear protection and security, Iran has ‘identified’ Israeli nuclear centres and holds ‘necessary information of all targets’.

    Israel is widely known to have nuclear weapons but has never admitted so.

    Go deeper ( 3 min. read ) ➝


    Meet the 12 Jurors Who Will Decide Trump’s Fate



    Twelve jurors have been selected and sworn in to serve on the jury for former President Donald Trump’s historic and unprecedented first criminal trial.

    Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has been charged by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. The charges are related to alleged hush money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

    Trump has pleaded not guilty to all counts. He has blasted the trial as pure politics, a “political persecution” and maintains his innocence. The former president is expected to testify during his trial.

    By the end of jury selection on Thursday, the third day of jury selection, 12 jurors had been selected and sworn in. The jury pool so far includes four men and three women, all living in New York City. Their professions included work in law, finance, technology and more.

    “We have our jury,” Judge Juan Merchan said when the 12th juror was picked Thursday afternoon. “Let’s pick our alternates.”

    Merchan dismissed the remaining prospective jurors and asked that they return to court Friday so that alternate jurors could be selected.

    Here is a look at each of the jurors so far.

    Juror #1 and the foreperson

    Juror #1 lives in New York City. He has no children and enjoys doing anything outdoorsy. He gets his news from The New York Times, Daily Mail, Fox News and MSNBC.

    When asked by Trump defense attorney Todd Blanche if he was aware Trump is charged in other cases and jurisdictions, and how that affects him, the man said, “I don’t have an opinion.”

    Juror #2

    Juror #2 is a man who said he follows Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen on “X,” formerly known as Twitter, as well as other “right wing” accounts, including former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway.

    The reason, he said, he follows those figures was so he could be plugged in to “anything that might move the markets I might need to know about.”

    When asked if he would unfollow Cohen, as he may be a witness in the trial, the man said: “Absolutely.”

    The man also said he has “not seen any evidence” relating to the case.

    “I will try to keep an open mind,” he said.

    Responding to questions from Trump lawyer Susan Necheles about his feelings about the former president, the man said that Trump has done some good for the country.

    “It’s ambivalent,” he said. “It goes both ways.”

    The first person who was labeled juror #2 was excused Thursday morning after saying she could not be a fair juror.

    Juror #3

    Juror #3 is a young to middle-aged man who lives in Manhattan. The man said he grew up in Oregon and has been an attorney for five years practicing corporate law. The man said he enjoys hiking and running, and gets his news from The New York Times and Google.

    Juror #4

    Juror #4 is originally from California, but has lived in New York City for 15 years. The man said he has been a security engineer for 25 years and holds a high school diploma, with some college education.

    The man is married with three children. His wife is a teacher.

    During his spare time, he enjoys being with his children, woodworking and metal working.

    The man said he has served on a jury before — on both a grand jury and a jury in a criminal trial.

    The man said he gets his news from “a smattering” of news sources. As for social media, he said he doesn’t use it.

    The man said he has a relative who works in finance and brothers-in-law that work as lawyers.

    The man said he has no feelings about how Trump is being treated in this case.

    The person who was first labeled as Juror #4 was excused Thursday morning after it was revealed that he had been previously arrested in Westchester, New York, for tearing down right-wing political advertisements.

    Juror #5

    Juror #5 is a young and a New York native who has been a teacher of English Language Arts for eight years.

    The woman was previously a caseworker at a juvenile detention center. She said she has a masters’ degree in education.

    “I’m creative at heart,” she said, adding that she enjoys photography.

    The woman said that she is not married and does not have children. Her mother was an administrative aide for a police department, and her godfather was a homicide detective.

    The woman said she gets her news from Google and TikTok.

    She was asked if Trump chose not to testify, whether she would hold that against him.

    “I won’t hold that against him,” she said.

    She explained that she has friends who have strong opinions on the former president but said she is not a political person and tries to avoid political conversations.

    She did say, however, that she appreciates Trump’s candor.

    “President Trump speaks his mind, and I’d rather that than someone who’s in office who you don’t know what they’re thinking,” she said.

    When jurors were asked if they were aware Trump was charged in other cases than Bragg’s, most jurors were. However, juror #5 raised her hand to indicate that she was learning of additional charges for the first time.

    Juror #6

    Juror #6 is a young woman who lives in Manhattan. She described herself as a New Yorker.

    The woman is a software engineer and said she likes to dance.

    Juror #7

    Juror #7 is originally from North Carolina and works as an attorney and civil litigator.

    The man said he is married with two children, and his wife works in risk management for a bank. He said he enjoys spending time outdoors and with his family.

    The man said he gets his news from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and The Washington Post.

    When asked if his career as a lawyer would impact his ability to serve fair and impartially, or whether his opinions would get in his way, the man said that he does have “political views as to the Trump presidency” and said there were likely Trump administration policies he disagreed with.

    “I don’t know the man and I don’t have any opinions about him personally,” he said.

    As for his career as a lawyer, he said he does not have any opinions about Trump’s character.

    “I certainly follow the news,” he said. “I’m aware there are other lawsuits out there. But I’m not sure that I know anyone’s character.”

    Juror #8

    Juror #8 has been selected. Information on this juror is not yet available.

    Juror #9

    Juror #9 is a woman who lives in Manhattan. She is originally from New Jersey and works as a speech therapist.

    The woman is not married and does not have children. She said she likes to spend time with friends, go to restaurants and go on walks.

    The woman said she has never served on a jury before, and does not watch the news or follow current events too closely. The woman said she did, though, have email subscriptions to CNN and The New York Times. She said she follows social media accounts, listens to podcasts and enjoys reality television.

    The woman said she does not listen to talk radio.

    The woman said she can be fair and impartial. She said she does have opinions about Trump, but said she believes she can put them aside and be fair and impartial.

    Juror #10

    Juror #10 is a man who lives in Manhattan. He was born and raised in Ohio and works in commerce for a large company. The man has a college degree.

    The man said he is not married and has no children, but lives with another adult who works in accounting.

    The man said he enjoys being outdoors and loves animals.

    The man said he does not really follow the news, but listens to podcasts on behavioral psychology.

    The man said he has no strong opinions on how Trump is being treated in this case.

    Juror #11

    Juror #11 has been selected. Information on this juror was not immediately available.

    Juror #12

    Juror #12 has been selected. Information on this juror was not immediately available.

    Go deeper ( 5 min. read ) ➝


    US Vetoes Palestine’s Request for Full UN Membership



    The U.S. vetoed a Palestinian bid to be recognized as a member state of the United Nations during a Security Council vote Thursday evening.

    The final vote on Monday had 12 members of the Security Council vote in favor of the resolution, two abstentions — the U.K. and Switzerland — and the U.S. with the lone veto, effectively killing the measure.

    Before the vote, Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesperson for the State Department, described as premature an effort by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to gain member status at the U.N.

    He said there was not unanimity among the Security Council’s 15 members that the Palestinian Authority had met the criteria for membership, with unresolved questions over the governance of the Gaza Strip, where Israel is in a war to defeat and eliminate the controlling power, Hamas.

    “And for that reason, the United States is voting no on this proposed Security Council resolution,” Patel said.

    For the Palestinian bid to be successful it would have had to secure nine votes among the Security Council’s 15-member body, and not have any of the five permanent members exercise their veto.

    But the vote tally signaled that the majority of members were putting their support behind the Palestinian measure, despite the U.S. push to promote negotiations as the only pathway for recognition of a Palestinian state.

    If the U.S. had not exercised its veto, a second vote would be taken by the General Assembly to admit the Palestinian Authority as a voting-member under the title of “State of Palestine.”

    The PA launched a bid for statehood recognition at the U.N. earlier this month as part of efforts to legitimize its leadership amid Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and escalating unrest in the West Bank, with surging violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

    The U.S. is working on a plan to “revitalize” and “reform” the Palestinian Authority and prepare it for governance of the Gaza Strip. It is part of a larger plan to have Gulf and Arab partners participate in stabilizing Gaza in the aftermath of Israel’s war and establish open ties with Israel.

    “We do not think that actions in New York, even if they are the most well-intentioned, are the best appropriate path,” Patel said.

    “It remains our view that the most expeditious path toward statehood for the Palestinian people is through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with the support of the United States and other partners who share this goal.”

    “It remains our view that the most expeditious path toward statehood for the Palestinian people is through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with the support of the United States and other partners who share this goal.”

    In 2012, the Palestinian Authority secured the status of “non-member observer state” at the U.N., in the face of U.S., Israeli and other countries objecting, arguing that the establishment of a Palestinian state could only occur between direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

    Ziad Abu Amr, special representative of the Palestinian president, said in remarks that recognizing the State of Palestine would not be a substitute “for serious negotiations that are time-bound to implement the two-state solution,” the Associated Press reported.

    Go deeper ( 2 min. read ) ➝


    Kennedy Family Endorses Biden



    Members of the Kennedy family appeared en masse and in force to endorse President Biden at a campaign event in Philadelphia on Thursday.

    It’s a public display of support that reveals a weakness Democrats privately acknowledge: Biden is likely more at risk from Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s third-party challenge than former President Trump is.

    With a substantial number of voters telling pollsters they are dissatisfied with both Biden and Trump, Democrats are increasingly petrified that a Kennedy name on the ballot will throw the election to Trump.

    A similar fear pervaded over the potential No Labels unity ticket. But with those plans scuttled, Biden is turning his focus on the scion of the storied Kennedy family.

    RFK Jr.’s sister, Kerry Kennedy, invoked the legacy of her slain father, former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, as well as that of her uncles: former President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.).

    “I can only imagine how Donald Trump’s outrageous lies and behavior would have horrified my father,” she said.

    “President Biden has been a champion for all the rights and freedoms that my father and uncles stood for,” she added.

    Kerry Kennedy lauded Biden’s track record fighting for “working people,” his support for unions, and his efforts to relieve “the debt incurred by middle-and-working class kids trying to get ahead by getting an education.”

    By contrast, if Trump wins he will “incite more chaos, division, and political violence with his extreme agenda,” she said.

    In a veiled dig at her brother’s campaign, Kennedy added that “in 2024 there are only two candidates with any chance of winning the presidency.”

    “What an incredible honor, to have the support of the Kennedy family,” Biden said when he took the stage.

    After Biden’s remarks, Kennedy family members plan to knock on doors and make calls on behalf of the Biden campaign.

    From inflation to abortion, the Biden campaign is seizing every opportunity to make 2024 a choice between two candidates — and two competing visions for America.

    Kennedy’s independent bid threatens that strategy.

    Democrats view anything that turns the election into a referendum on Biden — and gives voters a chance to register their discontent with the status quo — as a grave threat to Biden’s candidacy.

    The event on Thursday is part of an increasingly aggressive effort to take on Kennedy, with most polls showing Trump’s advantage grows with the ex-Democrat’s famous last name on the ballot.

    The Democratic Party is also preparing to fight Kennedy’s attempts to get on the ballot in key swing states, and has hired communications professionals at the DNC with the explicit aim of combatting Kennedy.

    Biden advisers aren’t concerned about Kennedy making deep inroads with Democrats and independents. They’re worried about his effect on the margins in a few key swing states.

    Two of the last three GOP presidential victories — President Bush in 2000 and Trump in 2016 — can partly be explained by the appeal of third-party candidates to disaffected voters.

    The electoral math bolsters those fears.

    Trump’s 2016 margin of victory over Hillary Clinton in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin was smaller than the total number of votes won by Green Party candidate Jill Stein in those states.

    Kennedy is actually sounding a lot more like Trump — with pledges to “seal the border” and appoint a special counsel to review Jan. 6 prosecutions — than a traditional Democrat from a storied family.

    But Republicans are also concerned about Kennedy’s potential crossover appeal, with pro-Trump media abruptly shifting its tone on his candidacy.

    Many Kennedy family members have been critical of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s candidacy.

    Biden posed with dozens of them, including Kerry Kennedy, at a St. Patrick’s Day party at the White House last month.

    Thursday’s event will consolidate that criticism and try to turn it into positive momentum for Biden.

    Go deeper ( 3 min. read ) ➝


    Ilhan Omar’s Daughter Arrested, Suspended from College Over Pro-Palestinian Protests



    The daughter of Minnesota Democratic U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar was arrested Thursday while participating in pro-Palestinian protests in New York, and said she was suspended from her private liberal arts college in the city over her participation.

    At a news conference, New York City police confirmed that Isra Hirsi was among the 108 protesters arrested for alleged trespassing.

    The confirmation of Hirsi’s arrest came after comments from Mayor Eric Adams and Police Commissioner Edward Caban, who said Columbia University requested police to respond to the protests, and to “intervene if necessary.”

    Hirsi said she was among a few Barnard College students who were suspended for participating in a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” at Columbia University.

    Barnard and Columbia are partner schools across the street from each other.

    “i’m an organizer with CU Apartheid Divest @ColumbiaSJP, in my 3 years at @BarnardCollege i have never been reprimanded or received any disciplinary warnings. i just received notice that i am 1 of 3 students suspended for standing in solidarity with Palestinians facing a genocide,” Hirsi posted on X.

    “those of us in Gaza Solidarity Encampment will not be intimidated. we will stand resolute until our demands are met. our demands include divestment from companies complicit in genocide, transparency of @Columbia’s investments and FULL amnesty for all students facing repression,” Hirsi wrote.

    Omar has been an outspoken critic of Israel’s government and an advocate for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza. Omar declined to comment through her spokeswoman.

    Barnard College issued a statement Thursday saying the students had set up an unauthorized encampment on Columbia’s south lawn early Wednesday morning and had been asked to leave multiple times. College staff told the students they would be sanctioned if they didn’t leave, the statement said.

    “This morning, April 18, we started to place identified Barnard students remaining in the encampment on interim suspension, and we will continue to do so,” the college’s statement said.

    Hirsi’s announcement that she was suspended came a day after Columbia University President Nemat Shafik testified before Congress about antisemitism on campus. During that hearing, Omar questioned Shafik about how the college treats protesters. She did not mention her daughter’s role in campus protests.

    “There has been a recent attack on the democratic rights of students across the country. I was appalled to learn that in April, Columbia suspended and evicted six students for their involvement in the pro-Palestinian panel event on campus,” Omar said to Shafik. “It happened that all six students were arbitrarily targeted after the university brought in a team of private and former police investigators. These investigators harassed, intimidated Palestinian students at their homes, demanding to see students’ private text messages.”

    Shafik responded: “This was a very serious case. We had students who on an online call … invited people who were inciting violence, and that is unacceptable. We needed to get to the bottom of it, and so that’s why we brought private investigators, along with notifying the FBI.”

    The panel event that Omar questioned Shafik about appears to have been highly controversial. In a statement in early April, Shafik called the event an “abhorrent breach of our values” and said “it featured speakers who are known to support terrorism and promote violence.”

    “That I would ever have to declare the following is in itself surprising, but I want to make clear that it is absolutely unacceptable for any member of this community to promote the use of terror or violence,” Shafik said in her statement.

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