USPS Increases Stamp Prices Again Starting Sunday
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The cost of postage stamps is going up by 3 cents on Sunday, the third price hike in the last 12 months.

It’s the 17th rate change since 2000 and the shortest time between stamp increases in the Postal Service’s history.

Rates last went up in January. Before that, they rose in July 2022 and August 2021.

Costs to send a letter by certified mail and insure packages will also increase.

The Postal Service said in April that the increases raise first class mail by approximately 5.4% to “offset the rise in inflation” and are needed “to address continued elevated inflation and prior years defective pricing model.”

Between the 1970s and 2000, rates increased three to four times a decade, USPS data shows.

Kevin Yoder, executive director of the advocacy group Keep US Posted and a former Republican congressman from Kansas, said that each time rates go up, mail volumes go down at a faster rate than projected.

“With three unprecedented postage hikes in 12 months, USPS has kicked off runaway ‘stampflation’ like the U.S. has never seen, and it’s making the situation worse,” Yoder said in a statement.

Yoder said that after January’s rate increase began, “mail volume immediately decreased nearly 9% year-over-year, while expenses increased by 16%.”

The number of pieces of mail handled by the post office has been on the decline in recent years as more people pay bills online and fewer send physical thank you cards.

In 2022, USPS handled 127.3 billion pieces of mail compared to the high of 213.1 billion in 2006, data shows.

When does postage increase

Sunday, July 9 is the day the new rates go into effect and postage for a 1-ounce letter is 66 cents, up from 63 cents. The first-class stamp will be double the 1999 rate of 33 cents. Other increases are:

Metered 1-ounce letters will cost 63 cents, up from 60 cents.

Postcards sent domestically are 51 cents, up from 48 cents.

International postcards and 1-ounce letters are $1.50, a 5-cent increase.

The cost for Certified Mail, Post Office Box rental fees, money order fees and insurance are also increasing.

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Lou Dobbs, Cable-News Pioneer and Conservative Pundit, Dies at 78

Lou Dobbs, the conservative political pundit and longtime host of “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” on CNN and then Fox Business Network, has died. He was 78.

“It’s with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of ‘The Great Lou Dobbs,’” reads a post on Dobbs’ X account. “Lou was a fighter till the very end — fighting for what mattered to him the most, God, his family and the country. Lou’s legacy will forever live on as a patriot and a great American. We ask for your prayers for Lou’s wonderful wife Debu, children and grandchildren.”

Dobbs was a commentator, author and host of “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” which originally premiered on CNN in 1980 as “Moneyline.” Dobbs anchored the series and served as CNN’s chief economics correspondent, later taking on the role of executive vice president at the cable news channel.

As “Moneyline” evolved into a more opinion-based program, it was renamed to “Lou Dobbs Moneyline” and then “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” which Dobbs presented from 2003 until he left CNN in 2009. He moved to Fox Business Network in 2011 and started up a new iteration of “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” which was canceled in 2021 after Fox was hit with a defamation lawsuit from voting machine vendor Smartmatic, following comments made on-air by Dobbs and other commentators. Dobbs was also named in the Dominion Voting Systems lawsuit, which Fox settled for $787.5 million. “Lou Dobbs Tonight” returned as a streaming program on Lindell TV in January 2024.

Donald Trump commemorated Dobbs, who showed staunch support for the former president, on Truth Social. “The Great Lou Dobbs has just passed away — A friend, and truly incredible Journalist, Reporter, and Talent,” Trump wrote. “He understood the World, and what was ‘happening,’ better than others. Lou was unique in so many ways, and loved our Country. Our warmest condolences to his wonderful wife, Debi, and family. He will be greatly missed!”

Dobbs was born in Childress County, Texas, in 1945 and attended Harvard University. He began his career in journalism in 1970 as a police and fire reporter for Arizona’s KBLU. He went on to become a TV anchor and reporter in Phoenix and then relocated to Seattle.

He joined CNN when it launched in 1980 and worked in high-powered positions at the cabler until 2009. During the Barack Obama administration, Dobbs promoted Birtherism, the false claim that the former president was not born in the U.S. He held strong anti-immigration views and supported Trump until the very end, posting on X about the former president just hours before his death.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Lou Dobbs,” said Fox News Media in a statement. “An incredible business mind with a gift for broadcasting, Lou helped pioneer cable news into a successful and influential industry. We are immensely grateful for his many contributions and send our heartfelt condolences to his family.”

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RNC Day 4: Trump Accepts Nomination, Delivers Speech on ‘Unity’

On the final night of the Republican National Convention, former President Donald Trump accepted the GOP presidential nomination and claimed an “incredible victory” in November to raucous applause.

“I am running to be president for all of America, not half of America, because there is no victory in winning for half of America,” Trump said after he surprised the crowd by appearing onstage during the musical rendition of “God Bless the USA.”

“So tonight, with faith and devotion, I proudly accept your nomination for president of the United States.

The address was his first since a gunman attempted to assassinate Trump during a Saturday rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, which has cast a long shadow over the convention. Trump’s ear was bandaged from a gunshot wound, and delegates throughout the week began to bandage their own ears in a show of unity with the former president.

“As you already know, the assassin’s bullet came within a quarter of an inch of taking my life. So many people have asked me what happened, tell us what happened please, and therefore I’ll tell you what happened, and you’ll never hear it from me a second time because it’s too painful to tell,” Trump explained.


“I had God on my side,” Trump said of his survival.

The Thursday night address represents Trump’s complete domination of the GOP eight years after he transformed American politics in the modern era. Most Republican dissension against Trump has turned into a whimper with many of his harshest critics losing influence in the national party or bending to Trump’s vision.

“I’m not supposed to be here tonight,” Trump said, but the crowd roared back, “Yes you are!

“Thank you,” Trump answered. “But I’m not.”

UFC President and CEO Dana White introduced Trump, who appeared at the convention all three previous nights but didn’t speak instead portraying himself as a silent warrior figure who watched the crowd and speakers champion his legacy to the American public. “He is willing to risk it all because he loves this country,” White said in a laudatory remarks.

Trump previously told the Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito that he rewrote his convention speech in the wake of Saturday’s events. The former president wanted his new speech to reunite the country and meet the demand of this critical moment.

Several speakers referenced the miraculous nature that Trump survived on Saturday and attributed the former president’s refusal to cower as a sign of the fighting spirit that will propel him to victory in November against President Joe Biden.

“I have seen this man dragged through hell and back, in and out of courtrooms, indictments, impeachments, mug shots, and even an assassination attempt, and yet, he has never backed down,” Lara Trump, the Republican National Committee co-chairwoman and the former president’s daughter-in-law, said when she spoke on Tuesday.

“What was my father’s reaction when his life was on the line? Not to cower, not to surrender, but to show for all the world to see that the next American president has the heart of a lion,” Donald Trump Jr. said on Wednesday.

Several delegates told the Washington Examiner before Donald Trump spoke that they fully expected him to galvanize the crowd, which has been waiting to hear the former president since he appeared on the convention floor on Monday.

“I hope that it’s a unifying speech. I hope that it puts America first,” Rachel Sikes, a Texas delegate wearing a bride-to-be sash, said. “I hope that it puts, even above America, I hope that it puts God first. I hope that he brings us together as a nation and does what he promises in his speeches and what he said up to this point.”

Trump also remains disciplined in not interjecting himself into the national conversation as Biden flounders and attempts to hold on to the Democratic presidential nomination despite growing calls from party members to step down.

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Read: Text of Trump’s RNC Speech

Former President Donald Trump on Thursday evening addressed the Republican National Convention. Read the full text of his speech below:


I stand before you this evening with a message of confidence, strength, and hope. Four months from now, we will have an incredible victory, and we will begin the four greatest years in the history of our country.


Together, we will launch a new era of safety, prosperity and freedom for citizens of every race, religion, color, and creed.


The discord and division in our society must be healed. As Americans, we are bound together by a single fate and a shared destiny. We rise together. Or we fall apart.


I am running to be president for ALL of America, not half of America, because there is no victory in winning for half of America.




Let me begin this evening by expressing my gratitude to the American people for your outpouring of love and support following the assassination attempt at my rally on Saturday.


As you already know, the assassin’s bullet came within a quarter of an inch of taking my life. So many people have asked me what happened, and therefore, I’ll tell you what happened, and you’ll never hear it from me a second time, because it’s too painful to tell.


Despite such a heinous attack, we unite this evening more determined than ever. Our resolve is unbroken, and our purpose is unchanged–to deliver a government that serves the American People.


Everything I have to give, with all of the energy and fight in my heart and soul, I pledge to our nation tonight.

This election should be about the issues facing our country and how to make America successful, safe, free, and great again.


In an age when our politics too often divide us, now is the time to remember that we are all fellow citizens—we are one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.


On this journey, I am deeply honored to be joined by my amazing wife, Melania. Thank you, Melania, and thank you also for your beautiful letter to America calling for national unity. It captivated so many.


I also want to thank my entire family—Don and Kimberly, Ivanka and Jared, Eric and Lara, Tiffany and Michael, Barron, and of course, my ten wonderful grandchildren.


I am thrilled to have a new friend and partner fighting by my side: the next VICE PRESIDENT of the United States, the current Senator from Ohio, J.D. Vance, and his incredible wife, Usha.


And a very special thank you to the extraordinary people of Milwaukee and the great state of Wisconsin for hosting this outstanding convention.


We will Make Wisconsin Great Again, I promise.


I am here tonight to lay out a vision for the whole nation. To every citizen, whether you are young or old, man or woman, Democrat, Republican, or Independent, black or white, Asian or Hispanic, I extend to you a hand of loyalty and friendship.


Together, we will lead America to new heights of greatness like the world has never seen before.


Under our leadership, the United States will be RESPECTED again. No nation will question our power. No enemy will doubt our might. Our borders will be totally SECURE. Our economy will soar. We will return LAW and ORDER to our streets, PATRIOTISM to our schools, and importantly, we will restore peace, stability, and harmony all throughout the world.


But to achieve this future, we must first rescue our nation from failed leadership. This will be the most important election in the history of our country.


Under the current administration, we are a nation in decline.


We have an INFLATION CRISIS that is making life unaffordable, ravaging the incomes of working and low-income families, and crushing our people.


We also have an ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION CRISIS – a massive invasion at our southern border that has spread misery, crime, poverty, disease, and destruction to communities all across our land.


Then there is an INTERNATIONAL CRISIS the likes of which the world has seldom seen. War is now raging in Europe and the Middle East, a growing specter of conflict hangs over Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines, and all of Asia, and our planet is teetering on the edge of World War Three, and this will be a war like no other.


It is time for a CHANGE. We simply cannot sustain four more years of this administration.


So tonight, I make this pledge to the great People of America.


I will END the devastating Inflation Crisis immediately, bring down interest rates, and lower the cost of energy—we will DRILL, BABY, DRILL, which will lead to a large-scale decline in prices.


I will END the Illegal Immigration Crisis by closing our border and finishing the wall, most of which I have already built.


I will END every single International Crisis that the current administration has created—including the horrible war with Russia and Ukraine, and the war caused by the attack on Israel, both of which would never have happened if I were president.


Together, we will restore VISION, STRENGTH, COMPETENCE, and COMMON SENSE to the Oval Office.


Just a few short years ago under my presidency, we had the most secure border and the best economy in the history of our country. We had NO inflation, soaring incomes, and the world was at peace.


But in less than four years, our opponents have turned incredible success into unparalleled tragedy and failure.


Today, our cities are flooded with illegal aliens. Americans are being squeezed out of the labor force and their jobs taken. Inflation has wiped out the life savings of our citizens, and forced the Middle Class into a state of depression and despair.


We cannot, and will not, let this continue. Less than four years ago, we were a great nation, and we will soon be a great nation again.


With proper leadership, every disaster we are now enduring will be fixed—and fixed quickly.


So tonight, whether you’ve supported me in the past or not, I hope you will support me in the future, because I will bring back the American Dream.

With great humility, I am asking you to be EXCITED about the future of our country.


This week, the entire Republican Party has formally adopted an agenda for America’s renewal.


First, we must get economic relief to our citizens. Starting on Day One, we will drive down prices and Make America AFFORDABLE again!


Under this administration, groceries are up 50%, gasoline is up 60%, mortgage rates have quadrupled, and you can’t get the money anyway. Total household costs have increased an average of $28,000 per family.


Republicans have a plan to bring down prices, and bring them down fast. By slashing energy costs, we will in turn reduce the cost of transportation, manufacturing, and all household goods. We have more liquid gold under our feet than any other country—we as a nation will make a fortune with oil and gas.


Next, we will end the ridiculous waste of taxpayer dollars that is fueling the inflation crisis. And all of the trillions of dollars that are sitting there not yet spent, will be redirected for important projects like roads, bridges, dams, and we will not allow it to be spent on the meaningless Green New Scam.


I will END the Electric Vehicle Mandate on Day One—thereby saving the U.S. auto industry from complete obliteration, and saving U.S. customers thousands of dollars per car.


I will bring auto jobs back to our country, through the proper use of taxes, tariffs, and incentives, and will not allow massive auto manufacturing plants to be built in Mexico, China, or other countries, where they send the product back to the United States, and steal our jobs, creating a hopeless situation for our companies and autoworkers.


We have long been taken advantage of by other countries, often being considered our allies. We lose jobs and revenue, they gain everything, and wipe out our businesses. I stopped it four years ago, and I will stop it again. We will not let countries come in, take our jobs, and plunder our nation.


The way they will sell their product in America is to BUILD it in America, and ONLY in America. This will create massive jobs and wealth for our country.


At the center of our plan for economic relief are massive tax cuts for workers—and that includes NO TAX ON TIPS. That means if you are a restaurant worker, bartender, hospitality worker, caddy, barber, mover, driver, or anyone else who relies on tip income, your tips will be 100% YOURS.


I gave the biggest tax cut in history, bigger than the Reagan Tax Cuts, but I am going to lower taxes still further.


By contrast, Democrats have promised to end the Trump Tax Cuts and impose a record-setting $5 trillion tax hike. I am going to LOWER taxes—Democrats are going to RAISE taxes.


I am going to PROTECT Social Security and Medicare—Democrats are going to DESTROY Social Security and Medicare.


Under my plan, incomes will skyrocket, inflation will vanish, jobs will come roaring back, and the Middle Class will prosper like never before.


But no hope or dream we have for America can succeed unless we stop the illegal immigrant invasion at our Southern Border.


At the heart of the Republican platform is our pledge to end this border nightmare, and to fully restore the sacred and sovereign borders of the United States of America—on Day One.


Less than four years ago, I handed this administration the strongest border in American history.


We ended all catch-and-release. Shut down asylum fraud. Stopped human trafficking, and forged historic agreements to keep illegal aliens on foreign soil.


Under the Trump Administration, if you came in illegally, you were apprehended immediately and deported.


The current administration terminated every single one of those great Trump policies that I put in place.

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Drone Attack in Tel Aviv: 1 Dead, 10 Wounded

An apparent drone attack that was claimed by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia hit central Tel Aviv in the early hours of Friday, killing one man and wounding ten others, the Israeli military and emergency services said.

The explosion, which did not trigger air raid alarms, occurred hours after the Israeli military confirmed it had killed a senior commander of the Iran-backed Hezbollah militia in southern Lebanon.

“An initial inquiry indicates that the explosion in Tel Aviv was caused by the falling of an aerial target, and no sirens were activated. The incident is under thorough review,” the military said in a statement.

The attack on Tel Aviv is likely to fan fears about further fallout from the Gaza war, as the Houthis and other Iranian proxies side with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

It said air patrols had been increased to protect Israeli airspace but said it had not ordered new civil defence measures, however the mayor of Tel Aviv said the city, Israel’s economic centre, had been moved to a state of heightened alert.

A spokesman for Yemen’s Houthi militants, which like Hezbollah are backed by Iran, said the group had attacked Tel Aviv with a drone and would continue to target Israel in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza war.

In a televised speech, spokesperson Yahya Saree called Tel Aviv a primary target “within the range of our weapons”.

Israel’s emergency services said the body of a 50 year-old man was found in an apartment close to the explosion and said the circumstances were being investigated.

Four people were taken to hospital with slight shrapnel injuries and four others were treated for shock. All of them were later released, the hospital said.

Footage from the site showed an apparent impact on a building located close to U.S. embassy premises in Tel Aviv. Broken glass could be seen strewn across the city pavements as crowds of onlookers gathered nearby. The site was sealed off by police tape.

Israeli media said fragments from an drone of a kind widely used by Iranian-backed militia groups in the region had been recovered nearby.

Israel has been exchanging daily missile and artillery fire with Hezbollah along its northern border and in southern Lebanon since the start of the war in Gaza, prompting fears of a wider regional conflict if the situation escalates.

The Houthis have also stepped up attacks against Israel and Western targets, saying they are acting in solidarity with the Palestinians.

Israel invaded the Gaza Strip following an attack by Hamas militants on southern Israel in October last year.

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Trump Shooter’s Online Activity Shows Searches of Rally Site, Use of Encrypted Platforms

In a briefing yesterday to House lawmakers, the Secret Service said they knew of suspicious person reports at least nine minutes ahead of former President Trump taking the stage at the Pennsylvania rally where he was shot on Saturday, Axios has learned.

The briefing came amid frustrations from lawmakers over the lack of information provided about the shooting as multiple House committees launch probes into the assassination attempt on Trump.

FBI and Secret Service officials briefed House lawmakers on Wednesday on their preliminary findings.

The Secret Service said they identified the building used in the assassination attempt as “an area of concern” as early as five days ahead of the event, according to audio obtained by Axios.

No political or ideological information was found in the suspect’s house, including his bedroom, officials told House lawmakers.

Below is the timeline of Saturday’s most crucial events, as relayed to lawmakers on Wednesday by Secret Service Deputy Director Ronald Rowe.

5:51pm: USSS notified of a suspicious person with a rangefinder on the outer perimeter.
5:52pm: The USSS Security room disseminated info to USSS counter sniper response team and additional response agents on the ground.
6:00pm: Trump walked on stage.
6:10pm: USSS counter sniper unit informed security room that local police were addressing an issue on the outer perimeter.
6:11pm: Trump’s site agent contacted their USSS counterpart to inquire about the issue on the outer perimeter. Shots are fired.

FBI deputy director Paul Abbate walked members through the suspect’s movements ahead of the attack on July 13, a source on the call confirmed to Axios.

July 6: Searched “where will Trump speak from on Saturday 13” and “when is the DNC convention”.
July 7: Traveled to Butler to get an advance of the venue and he remained there for 20 minutes.
July 11: Searched “Butler farm show photos”.
July 12: Went to the Clairton Sportsmen’s Club where he shot two firearms.
July 13: The suspect searched “Trump rally Butler, PA and “Allegheny arms.”

At 10am, he revisited the Butler farm show grounds and was there for 70 minutes.
At 1:30pm, the suspect returned to his home and his father provided him a rifle for the purpose of what he believed was to go back to the the sportsman club to shoot.
At 1:54pm, the suspect purchased 50 rounds of ammunition and traveled back to the fairgrounds.

Officials said at the briefing that they’ve started putting together a profile of the suspect.

He lived at home with his parents and a sister. Family members described him as fairly intelligent, a loner, and being a little odd.

He never discussed politics or expressed any political ideology.

He took firearms courses at a gun range, where an instructor recalls that he was quiet, non-aggressive and a loner.

The shooter used three encrypted platforms in Germany, New Zealand and Belgium.

The FBI uncovered a number of the shooter’s searches for images “of public figures of a variety, including both President Biden and former President Trump, and some limited online activity reflecting the subject’s state of mind,” but noted encrypted communications have limited their ability to obtain certain information.

The FBI has served legal processes on 30 companies and is waiting on returns from 18 of those companies, including foreign encrypted applications.

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) have requested a classified briefing take place next week, where members are slated to obtain additional information on the incident.

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First Post-Assassination Attempt Poll Shows Big Swing Towards Trump

Former President Donald Trump is now leading President Biden by five points nationally, expanding his lead after his near-assassination on Saturday.

The CBS poll, published Thursday, shows Trump up 52%-47% nationally among likely voters. The same survey had him up by two points on July 3 (50%-48%).

A Republican president has not won the popular vote in two decades. It’s been three decades since one won by over 5%.

Trump also has a notable lead in key battleground states, where he bests Biden 51%-48%.

The former president upped his lead by one point across the swing states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — since the last time CBS conducted a battleground survey one week ago.

The survey indicated that the shooting could directly change their likelihood of voting for Trump in November.

The poll showed 26% of registered voters said they were more willing to vote for Trump after he was shot on Saturday by a gunman at his Butler, Pa., rally.

The majority of voters said the assassination attempt did not change their mind (67%), while 7% said it made them less likely to consider him.

Trump’s reaction to the shooting also directly impacted how voters view him. He rose up and pumped his fist in the air after being tackled by Secret Service agents at the rally and has since encouraged “unity” for the country.

A majority of respondents, 54%, said Trump has since encouraged “more unity,” while 46% said he encouraged “more division.”

A large number of voters, 75%, said the Secret Service could have “done more” to protect the former president from 20-year-old Thomas Crooks who shot into the crowd from an unguarded nearby roof.

Trump (51%) also fared better than Vice President Kamala Harris (48%) in a head-to-head matchup amid likely voters.Biden has been facing pressure from a growing number of Congressional Democrats and top allies to suspend his 2024 run after his stumbled heavily in his debate against Trump on June 27.

A majority of respondents, 56%, said Biden should step aside. Forty-four percent said he should continue running.

He was the top candidate for voters when they chose who would “fight a lot for people like you,” coming in at 37%, out of Biden (28%), Harris (26%) and GOP VP nominee Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio) (26%).

Vance, who was picked as Trump’s VP on Monday, had 51% of Republican registered voters saying they were enthusiastic about the choice.

Forty-three percent said they were “satisfied” and 6% said they were dissatisfied or angry.

Going forward, 63% of registered voters surveyed said they predicted political violence will get worse, while 28% said it would stay the same and 9% said decrease.

The survey was conducted July 16-18, had a sample size of 2,247 voters and had a margin of error of 2.7%.

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Thomas Crooks Threatened to ‘Shoot Up’ His High School and ‘Put Bombs in the Bathrooms’

Thomas Crooks threatened to ‘shoot up’ his high school when he was just 15-years-old in an incident that wasn’t taken seriously at the time but is now being probed by the FBI, can reveal.

Federal officers on Thursday visited Crooks’s former classmate Vincent Taormina, 20, to quiz him about the shooter’s ‘hatred’ of politicians and the threats he made as a freshman at Bethel Park High School.

Speaking exclusively to Taormina said, ‘We had like this anonymous place you could post things or tell on someone on our computers at school and he posted something like ‘Don’t come to school tomorrow,’ and something else that made it sound like he’d put bombs in the cafeteria bathrooms.

‘Half of us just didn’t come to school the next day – I didn’t. But it wasn’t taken seriously.

‘We all texted one another and it came out pretty quickly that it was Thomas and his friend group who’d made the threats to shoot [the school] up.’


According to Taormina investigators were keen to hear more about the threats made by the younger Crooks in 2019 which were not, he said, taken seriously at the time.

There is no picture of Crooks in Bethel Park High School’s 2019 yearbook and in fact only one appears to have been taken during his career at the school – the now widely seen 2020 picture which became the first published of him following his June 13 assassination attempt.

Since then, only a thin portrait of Crooks, 20, has emerged from his beginnings as a ‘normal’ little boy to the young man who grew up to be an increasingly troubled loner whose internet search history included ‘major depressive disorder’ and who some suspected was bi-polar or schizophrenic.

Former classmates have described him as sweet, quiet, intelligent and a ‘loner’ who was a bit ‘off,’

They say he ate lunch alone and was bullied for being shy and ‘weird.’

Madison Rudolph, 17, who was in Crooks’s computer class despite their age difference told that he was part of a small friend group she described as ‘outcasts’ with ‘strange hobbies’ the details of which she could not remember but she recalled that they wore nails as accessories.

Crooks’s high school experience coincided with the global pandemic and Rudolph noted that he was further ostracized for continuing to wear a mask long after the mandates had been lifted and student life resumed a semblance of normalcy.

One friend recalled that during the time of remote learning Crooks would not put on his camera when joining classes on Zoom.

Crooks was not a member of any high school clubs, teams or groups in stark contrast to his older sister Katie, 22, who was a popular and far more outgoing student, acting as both a school custodian and a member of the school yearbook team during her time at Bethel Park High.

Crooks graduated from high school in 2022 but was listed as absent from the senior yearbook pictures as he had been the year before.

He recently graduated from the Community College of Allegheny County with an associate degree in engineering science this spring and had been admitted to both the University of Pittsburgh and Robert Morris University for the fall.

The shooting on Saturday, which came so close to killing the former president, left father-of-two retired fire chief Corey Comperatore, 50, dead and two other attendees critically injured.

Former Marine David Dutch, 57, was shot in the chest and liver and has so far undergone two surgeries, while the family of the other victim James Copenhaver, 74, has asked for privacy while they come to terms with the ‘life-altering’ injuries he sustained.

So far, no motive has emerged for the shooting but, for Taormina, one possible reason was simply notoriety.

He said, ‘He was someone who flew under the radar, someone easily forgotten, people didn’t pay much attention to.

‘Maybe part of his motive was just to solidify his name in the history books because really he was a nobody.’

Investigators have revealed that they have managed to access the information stored on both of Crooks’s cell phones which they recovered, and which contained just 27 contacts.

The cells showed that Crooks visited the Butler site of the rally at least twice ahead of the event and contained photographs of Trump, Joe Biden, Fulton DA Fani Willis, Rudy Giuliani, House Speaker Mike Johnson, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and other politicians and celebrities as well as an unnamed member of the British royal family.

On Monday FBI agents visited his home, speaking with Crooks’s parents Matthew, 53, and Mary, 53, – both Pennsylvanian locals and both licensed counsellors – for several minutes before fanning out and moving door to door across the neighborhood.

One friend told ‘I suspect the FBI have interrogated his parents very thoroughly to find out what if anything they knew about his state of mind.

‘We’re just struggling to understand what happened, it’s so shocking. This is a community and for this to have happened within it…it’s almost too much to process right now. It’s going to take a long time.’

According to the friend, ‘Honestly we knew him less and less the older he got.’

But it seems he was nothing if not calculated and methodical. On Friday he went to Clairton Sportsmen’s Club shooting range and practiced firing.

The next morning, he went to a Home Depot and purchased a five-foot ladder – pictures obtained exclusively by show the concealed spot where he propped this ladder against the AGR building wall allowing him access to the roof across which he scrambled to take up position.

From the Home Depot he went to Allegheny Arms & Gun Works, a five-minute drive from his family home, where he purchased 50 rounds of ammunition.

On Monday FBI agents swarmed the AGR building from which Crooks fired his shots. witnessed several as they inspected the roof, at one point one dropped to his belly, lying prone as Crooks had done as he took aim and fired at Trump as he addressed the crowd.

They swept the grounds and rooted through shrubbery and trees, and they removed the ladder while questions continue to rage as to just how on earth a lone gunman managed to put it, and himself, there in the first place.

Crooks was a dietary aide at Bethel Park Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center – where he provided food and care for post-hospital elderly and sick people.

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BlueAnon Madness: 34% of Dems Think Trump Shooting Was Staged

A conspiracy theory has run unabated in Democratic circles following the assassination attempt against former president Donald Trump on Saturday. It posits that Trump staged the shooting for a photo op, that the wound on his ear was caused by something other than an assassin’s bullet, and that he was never in mortal danger.

It’s a baseless conspiracy theory disproven by reams of documentary evidence and eyewitness accounts. And it’s a belief held by one-third of the Democratic electorate.

One in three registered Democrats believe it is “credible” that the shooting Saturday in Butler, Pa., was staged and not intended to kill Trump, according to a Morning Consult poll released Monday. The findings show that large swaths of the Democratic base have fallen prey to the phenomenon known as “BlueAnon,” a play on the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory that once gripped portions of the Republican base and served as an obsession of the mainstream media throughout the first Trump administration.

But the Morning Consult poll shows that BlueAnon adherents among the Democratic base far outnumber their QAnon counterparts on the right. The poll showed that 34 percent of Democratic voters found it either definitely or probably credible that Trump staged Saturday’s shooting, with less than half—45 percent—saying the conspiracy theory is not credible. By comparison, a widely cited 2021 poll found that only 23 percent of Republicans were QAnon believers.

The rise of BlueAnon can be attributed to prominent Democratic activists and liberal media commentators egging on the notion that Trump staged Saturday’s shooting.

Democratic powerbroker Dmitri Mehlhorn, an ally of President Joe Biden who has made at least 10 visits to his White House, wasted no time fanning the flames of conspiracy in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s assassination attempt. Mehlhorn on Saturday evening sent a memo to reporters imploring them to portray the shooting as a false-flag operation straight from Vladimir Putin’s playbook, designed to give Trump a good photo opportunity.

“This is a classic Russian tactic, such as when Putin killed 300 civilians in 1999 and blamed it on terrorists to ride the backlash to winning power,” Mehlhorn wrote.

Mehlhorn did not address the numerous photos that captured bullets whizzing just inches away from Trump’s face and blood running from the clearly visible bullet wound across his right ear as Secret Service agents escorted the former president off the stage. Nor did he mention the death of firefighter Corey Comperatore, who was shot while shielding his family from the assassin’s bullets.

Mehlhorn is hardly the only liberal activist pushing the conspiracy to liberal voters. Jeff Tiedrich, a liberal social media influencer with 1.1 million followers who attended an Oct. 2022 White House influencer summit to coordinate midterm election messaging with the Biden administration, on Monday posted a Substack screed “connecting some weird dots” surrounding the shooting.

“Did the extreme right want this to happen?” Tiedrich wrote, speculating the shooting could have been connected to a plot to replace Trump atop the GOP ticket with former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Tiedrich, who did not return a request for comment, on Thursday mocked the Washington Post for describing the shooting as “Trump’s near-death experience” and said there was no hard evidence that a bullet grazed the former president’s ear.

“What the fuck is going on under that bandage?” Tiedrich asked. “And why is the press so disinterested in finding out?”

Liberal MSNBC commentators have adopted a subtler approach to fanning the conspiratorial flames, suggesting in recent days that Trump could not have been shot in the ear by a high-caliber rifle bullet and that the former president is hiding something by not releasing detailed medical records about his wound.

“If he was shot by a high-caliber bullet, there should probably be very little ear there,” MSNBC host Michael Steele told viewers on Tuesday.

Steele’s fellow MSNBC host Joy Reid on Wednesday joined him in asking questions about Trump’s injuries.

“I have many questions!” Reid wrote on Threads. “Like where are the medical reports? What caused Trump’s injury and what was the injury? Sheapnel? [sic] Glass? A bullet?”

Reid doubled down on her baseless conjecture Thursday morning, posting a video to TikTok in which she said that “we still don’t know for sure whether Donald Trump was hit by a bullet,” glass fragments, or something else. She then suggested something nefarious was behind the Secret Service’s having “allowed” Trump to pump his fist as agents led him off the rally stage.

“We don’t know why, for nine full seconds, Donald Trump was allowed to stand back up during an active shooting, an active shooter situation,” Reid said. “Even though they at that point had said the shooter was down, how would they have known if there were more shooters or not?”

“Yet they allowed him to stand up in the middle of that, you know, crisis and pose for a photo and fist-pump the air so he could get the iconic photo?” Reid added.

Straight news reporters have also joined in on the baseless speculation. Former CNN reporter John Harwood wrote Thursday morning that an AR-15 bullet could not have pierced Trump’s ear without blowing the ear to smithereens.

“On the other hand it’s easy to imagine a shard of shattered glass causing the bleeding Trump suffered,” Harwood said before adding that he is “not familiar with ballistics at all.”

Democratic conspiracy-mongering could distract from legitimate questions about the Secret Service’s response to Saturday’s shooting. Agency director Kimberly Cheatle is facing GOP calls to resign from her post following revelations that, 10 minutes before Trump took the stage, Secret Service agents spotted the gunman on the roof where he carried out the attack. Cheatle said Tuesday the roof was left unprotected because it was “sloped.”

“And so there’s a safety factor that would be considered there that we wouldn’t want to put somebody up on a sloped roof. And so the decision was made to secure the building, from inside,” Cheatle said.

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Report: Biden Could Drop Out This Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Schumer’s office sang a similar tune.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pelosi Privately Told Biden He Cannot Win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. JD Vance Tells His Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Personal Stories Highlighted

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

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

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

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

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

3. Gold Star Families Honored

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Border Security Brought to Life

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

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

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

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

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

5. Kai Trump Makes Political Debut

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

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

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

6. Fresh out of Prison, Peter Navarro Speaks Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Secret Service Chief Faces Mounting Pressure to Resign

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

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

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

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

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

A tight-lipped Cheatle continued to walk briskly away.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Trump: Taiwan Should Pay US for Defense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Katzenberg Warns Biden: The Money Is Drying Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Semafor first reported on the Biden and Katzenberg meeting today.

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

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

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

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

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MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough Calls for Biden to Drop Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos show Biden shaking hands with patrons at that restaurant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Biden, is it a new moment?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Adam Schiff Calls on Biden to Drop Out of the Race

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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