RNC co-chair Lara Trump promises to prosecute anyone who cheats in an election: ‘We will track you down’


Lara Trump, co-chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) and former President Trump’s daughter-in-law, vowed Friday to prosecute anyone who cheats in an election.

“This year is the year we do it,” Lara Trump said at Turning Point USA’s convention in Detroit, Michigan. “We are also sending a loud and clear message out there to anyone who thinks about cheating in an election, we will find you, we will track you down and we will prosecute you to the full extent of the law.”

The RNC on Friday launched a swing state initiative to mobilize thousands of polling place monitors, poll workers and attorneys to serve as “election integrity” watchdogs in November. 

Lara Trump said the goal is to recruit more than 100,000 poll watchers and 500 lawyers to deploy at election sites across the country. 

TRUMP HAS ‘SORT OF A PRETTY GOOD IDEA’ OF VP PICK, WILL PROBABLY ANNOUNCE DURING RNC CONVENTION

Lara Trump at Turning Point USA Michigan event

Lara Trump, co-chair of the Republican National Committee, speaks on stage during “Turning Point’s The Peoples Convention” on June 14, 2024 at Huntington Place in Detroit, Michigan.  (JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

For decades, the RNC was limited in its ability to coordinate poll watching and other election integrity activities by a federal court consent decree established to stop Republican-backed voter intimidation efforts. The decree was lifted in 2018. 

“We have a unique opportunity right now that we have not had in 40 years as a party. For 40 years, there was a consent decree placed on the RNC that did not allow us to train people to work as poll workers,” Lara Trump said at the Turning Point USA event. “Who was training all the people for the last 40 years? Not the RNC. Think about how many people the DNC got to train.”

“So now we have this amazing opportunity so we can train you to work in a polling location. We can train you to work in a tabulation center when the mail-in ballots come in. We also want attorneys to work in every major polling location so we are not reactive, we are proactive,” she said. 

The RNC has said its new effort will focus on stopping potential “Democrat attempts to circumvent the rules.” The party will deploy monitors to observe every step of the election process, create hotlines for poll watchers to report perceived problems and escalate those issues by taking legal action. 

The RNC’s kickoff event took place at the headquarters of the Oakland County GOP, one of Michigan’s most influential local parties. Oakland County is an affluent Detroit suburb that for decades was one of Michigan’s premier bellwether counties. RNC Chairman Michael Whatley said Friday that the committee will place election integrity directors in 15 states, including the most hotly contested battlegrounds, and work with state parties to set up similar programs in the other states.

“What we need to ensure is integrity in our electoral process,” Lara Trump said during the kickoff event in Bloomfield Hills, in a suburban county that is crucial for winning Michigan. “We can never go back and repeat 2020, but we can learn the lessons from 2020.” She said most of the RNC is currently focused on the committee’s election integrity program.

Lara and Eric Trump at Manhattan courthouse

Eric Trump, executive vice president of Trump Organization Inc., left, and Lara Trump, co-chair of the Republican National Committee, right, during a news conference at Trump Tower in New York on Friday, May 31, 2024.  (Yuki Iwamura/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Both parties have a long history of organizing supporters to serve as poll monitors, and the Democratic National Committee said it plans its own volunteer recruitment effort. 

RNC OPENS LATINOS FOR TRUMP FIELD OFFICE IN BATTLEGROUND PENNSYLVANIA

The launch of the RNC initiative comes as the GOP faces a significant disadvantage compared to Democrats in traditional political infrastructure on the ground in key states, such as campaign offices, community centers and canvassers, according to the Associated Press. President Biden’s campaign and his allies on the Democratic National Committee have opened hundreds of campaign offices nationwide, while Republican officials in many cases are still waiting for the Trump campaign and the RNC to engage.

Lara Trump at CPAC in February

Lara Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at on Feb. 22, 2024 in National Harbor, Maryland.  (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

DNC spokesperson Alex Floyd said the DNC, “alongside our partners at the state and local level, won’t let MAGA Republicans get away with these baseless attacks on our democracy, and we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to ensure that all Americans can make their voice heard at the ballot box.” 

RNC leadership, which former President Trump handpicked in a major overhaul of the committee earlier this year,  has followed his lead in forecasting the potential for foul play in this year’s election. Lara Trump qualified her answer on CNN earlier this month when asked if she would accept the election’s results.

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“I can tell you, yes, we will accept the results of this election if we feel that it is free, fair and transparent,” she said. “And we are working overtime to ensure that indeed that happens.”

Asked Friday whether the committee planned to challenge the election certification process in any swing states Trump might narrowly lose, Whatley said, “We’re not going to cross any of those bridges right now.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 



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Insiders predict Rust Belt Republican, possible Trump VP pick could flip Biden votes in these key swing states


Editor’s note: This is the sixth in a series of profiles of potential running mates for presidential candidate Donald Trump on the 2024 Republican Party ticket.

The race to determine who will be Donald Trump’s running mate this November is continuing to heat up, with the former president telling Fox News last week he has “sort of a pretty good idea” who he’ll select.

The identity of that person remains a mystery, but a number of prospective contenders were recently asked to provide documents to Trump’s team as part of the vetting process, including firebrand Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, who some insiders say could be the key to flipping working-class Democrat voters in a number of consequential battleground states.

“J.D. Vance has become a fixture on the road for Donald Trump and is extremely popular with the Trump base,” one top GOP strategist told Fox News Digital, referencing Vance’s frequent appearances with Trump on the campaign trail and beyond.

DEMOCRATS ‘FEAR’ THIS POSSIBLE TRUMP VP PICK WHO ‘SOULD SPELL THE END FOR BIDEN’: INSIDERS

Trump VP 2

From left to right: Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Sanders and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. (Getty Images)

“He would be a lot of help across the entire Rust Belt and could help pick up working-class Democrat votes in places even outside his own state of Ohio. He would be an asset everywhere, really, but especially in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.”

The three states mentioned were all won by Trump in 2016 when they constituted part of the so-called “blue wall” for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton but flipped to President Biden in 2020.

All three are once again taking center stage in the presidential race and could be the deciding factor for who wins the presidency this year. Vance’s blue-collar upbringing, which he detailed in his bestselling 2016 memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy,” particularly appeals to many voters across those states in the same fashion Trump did during his first presidential run, another insider argued.

INSIDERS PREDICT THIS POSSIBLE TRUMP VP PICK POSES ‘EXISTENTIAL THREAT’ TO KEY AREA OD BIDEN SUPPORT

J.D. Vance

U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, speaks to the press at a town hall event with former President Trump, a 2024 Republican presidential candidate, at Dream City Church in Phoenix, Ariz., June 6, 2024. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

“[Vance] capably handles hostile media interviews with the poise and precision of a Yale Law School graduate while also sharing an authentic connection with blue-collar voters in the key states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. So, it’s easy to see why he’s on Trump’s list of potential picks,” said GOP strategist Matt Wolking, who served as deputy communications director for Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign.

“A combat veteran and a good friend of Donald Trump Jr., Vance is a fresh face from the populist, noninterventionist, union-friendly wing of the new Republican Party,” Wolking added, referencing Vance’s service in the Marine Corps and deployment to Iraq.

Wolking noted some potential downsides to Vance’s selection include that he would be the youngest vice president in 70 years, and, considering he was elected to the Senate in 2022, has only held elected office for 18 months as of June.

EXPERTS REVEAL MAJOR ‘DOWNSIDE’ TO POTENTIAL TRUMP VP PICK: ‘NO WOW FACTOR’

J.D. Vance

Senator J.D. Vance, a Republican from Ohio, speaks to members of the media outside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse in New York May 13, 2024. (Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“He has only one general election under his belt in a state Trump won by eight points,” he added.

Another GOP strategist with experience in presidential campaigns told Fox that because Trump is working hard to court the business community, Vance’s “anti-big business inclinations would give some of those potential donors major heartburn.”

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Others who have been floated as possibilities to join Trump on the Republican ticket include House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Sanders, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.

Trump has suggested he will likely wait until July’s Republican National Convention in Milwaukee to name his pick.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.



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Former GOP senator who broke with Trump in 2016 reveals why she is backing him this time


EXCLUSIVE: CONCORD, N.H. — As she runs this year in one of the top gubernatorial elections in the country, former Sen. Kelly Ayotte is making clear she supports former President Trump’s bid to win back the White House.

“Under Joe Biden things cost more, we’re less safe. There’s no question that we are worse off than we were than when President Trump was in office,” Ayotte charged in a national interview with Fox News Digital. “I’m supporting President Trump because I believe we need to change courses for the nation.”

While support for the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee — thanks to his immense grip over the party — seems like a no-brainier for nearly all Republicans running in 2024 for elective office, for Ayotte, it takes on heightened importance.

Ayotte was a rising star in the Republican Party in 2016 as the former state attorney general and first-term senator with a burgeoning profile on national security was running for re-election.

REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS TAKE AIM AT BIDEN OVER ENERGY

Kelly Ayotte defends her conservative credentials in the GOP nomination race for New Hampshire governor

Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican candidate for governor, is surrounded by supporters as she files her candidacy at the Secretary of State’s office in Concord, New Hampshire, on Thursday. (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)

But just ahead of the 2016 election, she withdrew her support for Trump over the “Access Hollywood” controversy, in which Trump in a years-old video made extremely crude comments about grabbing women without their consent.

“I cannot and will not support a candidate for president who brags about degrading and assaulting women,” Ayotte said at the time. 

Ayotte lost re-election by a razor-thin margin of just over 1,000 votes at the hands of then-Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan.

But Ayotte slightly outperformed Trump in New Hampshire, as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton edged the White House winner by less than 3,000 votes.

TRUMP SUPPORTS THIS BLUE-STATE REPUBLICAN CRITIC OF THE FORMER PRESIDENT

Before retiring full time to New Hampshire, Ayotte stuck around Washington briefly after the end of her term, shepherding then-Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch (Trump’s first high court nominee) through his successful Senate confirmation process.

In her post-Senate career, Ayotte enjoyed a lucrative period as she served on corporate boards and in advisory roles at both public and private companies. Among them was News Corp., which at one time was the parent company of Fox News.

Ayotte during the intervening years also kept a close eye on New Hampshire politics, and would occasionally appear at Republican Party events in the state. She also continued to write opinion pieces on major state, national and international issues.

The former senator announced her gubernatorial bid nearly a year ago, after popular Republican Gov. Chris Sununu announced he wouldn’t seek re-election in 2024 to what would have been an unprecedented fifth two-year term.

Ayotte stayed neutral in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary, but she endorsed Trump in early March, right after he clinched the GOP nomination.

“He’ll fix the disaster over the southern border and we’re also seeing it on the northern border, to keep the country safe,” Ayotte told Fox News on Thursday. 

She added that Trump “also has a different vision in terms of freedom and taxes” and argued that President Biden “has really, unfortunately, been a disaster for the country, and we need a change.”

Ayotte was interviewed minutes after she was greeted by a large crowd of supporters as she arrived at the Secretary of State’s office at the Statehouse in Concord, New Hampshire, to officially file her candidacy for governor.

While she’s the polling and fundraising front-runner for the GOP nomination in New Hampshire’s early September primary, she’s come under repeated attack by her rival, former longtime state Senate president Chuck Morse, who came in second in a crowded field of contenders in the 2022 U.S. Senate Republican primary.

Chuck Morse targets Kelly Ayotte over her conservative credentials in their battle for the 2024 GOP gubernatorial nomination in New Hampshire

Former New Hampshire state Senate president Chuck Morse, a Republican candidate for governor, shakes hands with a supporter as he arrives at the Secretary of State’s office to file his candidacy in Concord, New Hampshire, on June 5. (Chuck Morse gubernatorial campaign )

“I think there’s a big difference between myself and Kelly Ayotte,” Morse said last week as he filed at the Statehouse. “I started as a conservative, and I finished as a conservative as Senate president, and I promise you, I will be a governor that’s a conservative.

“That’s not what Kelly did when she went to Washington.”

And hours before she arrived to file, a Morse campaign memo asked which Ayotte would show up, “the so-called conservative candidate Kelly or the moderate establishment she has always been in office.”

THIS FORMER REPUBLICAN SENATOR NOW LAUNCHES BID FOR GOVERNOR IN KEY SWING STATE

Ayotte pushed back on Thursday, emphasizing, “I am a commonsense, strong conservative, and I’m going to continue this state down the path that Gov. Sununu has. And we’re going to have even brighter days ahead.”

And pointing to Morse, she argued, “I’ve known Chuck a long time, and this is a sad way for him to end his political career.”

Morse, in a statement to Fox News, fired back, charging that “Governor Chris Sununu followed a path blazed by conservative leaders like me, while Kelly’s record is littered with bad policy choices and voting with [Barack] Obama over 260 times. This state deserves leaders who face tough questions, not those who hide from accountability. I’m here, ready to answer to the people and continue moving New Hampshire forward. If Kelly can’t face her own record, how can she lead?”

Morse, who wasn’t particularly close to Trump when the former president first ran for the White House, endorsed Trump in December. He’s showcased his backing of Trump and for months questioned Ayotte’s support for the former president.

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While he’s made dozens of endorsements in competitive Republican primaries across the country, Trump remains neutral in the New Hampshire gubernatorial race.

Asked if she’d embrace a Trump endorsement and if she’d campaign with him in the Granite State, Ayotte told Fox News she would “certainly appreciate” the former president’s backing. “Anyone who is offering their support, I’d love to have their support,” she said.

“But on the other hand, you think about what’s the most important issue in this race and it’s the people of New Hampshire,” she emphasized. “So I’m campaigning every day to get the support and earn the support of the voters in this race, and that’s what I’m doing on the campaign trail and will continue to do.”

Ayotte also praised Sununu, who to date has remained neutral in the race to succeed in New Hampshire’s governor’s office.

Gov. Chris Sununu remains neutral in New Hampshire's GOP gubernatorial primary

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu speaks with Fox News during a Republican Governors Association news conference at an oil refinery in Chalmette, Louisiana, on June 3. (Fox News – Paul Steinhauser)

“The path that Gov. Sununu has us on is one of prosperity, one of more freedom… I want to continue us down that path,” she said. “I appreciate his leadership and the work that he’s done, and I want to continue his success for his state.”

Ayotted added that “he and I see each other all the time. We see each other on the campaign trail. We’ve known each other a long time. I respect him and we have a great relationship.”

In her Fox News interview and speaking to reporters at her filing, Ayotte also took aim at former Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig and executive councilor Cinde Warmington, the two main Democrats running for governor.

“My Democratic opponents have a very different vision for New Hampshire. They actually think that the Massachusetts model is better,” she reiterated. 

Since launching her campaign, Ayotte has targeted her Democratic rivals over New Hampshire’s progressive neighbor to the south, which has long been a target for Granite State conservatives.

The Democratic Governors Association, in a statement, charged that Ayotte “is a self-serving politician who will say or do anything to win, even lying to Granite Staters about her dangerous record of restricting reproductive freedom.”

Asked about her stance on abortion as she filed, Ayotte emphasized that she would protect New Hampshire’s state law that allows abortions through the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.

“As governor, I will protect that law. I will not change it. So they’re misleading the women of New Hampshire right now by making them think that there’s going to be something else that will happen. I want them to know what our law, that I will protect it and that I won’t change it,” she said.

Ayotte added that she “would pledge to veto restrictions” to the current state law.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.



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Detroit pastor thanks Trump for visiting ‘the hood,’ unlike Obama, Biden


Former President Trump attended a roundtable discussion at a church in Detroit on Saturday afternoon in an effort to reach out to Black voters.

During the discussion, 180 Church Pastor Lorenzo Sewell told Trump that he was “humbled” by the former president’s visit. 

President Trump at 180 Church in Detroit

President Trump speaks with 180 Church Pastor Lorenzo Sewell (far right).  (Fox News Digital)

President Obama never came to the ’hood, so-to-speak, right? President Joe Biden, he went to the big NAACP dinner, but he never came to the ’hood. So thank you,” Sewell said, eliciting applause from the audience. 

Later Saturday, Trump appeared at the “People’s Convention” of Turning Point Action. 

GEORGE CLOONEY RUBS ELBOWS WITH BIDEN AT STAR-STUDDED LA FUNDRAISER AFTER CALLING WHITE HOUSE WITH COMPLAINT

Fox News Digital has reached out to the Biden campaign for a response to Sewell’s remarks. 

Sewell told “Fox & Friends First” on Friday that he couldn’t remember the last time a president laid out a plan for the Black community until Trump created the Platinum Plan, which included approximately $500 billion for Black businesses and churches. 

Trump visits 180 Church in Detroit

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at 180 Church, Saturday, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

“Those metrics matter to us. So we’re going to hold him accountable to the Platinum Plan that he produced,” Sewell said. 

TRUMP SAYS SUPREME COURT’S DECISION STRIKING DOWN HIS ADMIN’S BUMP STOCK RULE ‘SHOULD BE RESPECTED’

Biden was in Detroit last month, where he spoke at the NAACP’s 69th Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner, repeating talking points about bringing people together and slamming Trump for being too divisive.

Trump during roundtable discussion

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at 180 Church, Saturday, in Detroit, as Itasha Dotson and Carlos Chambers listen.  (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Trump’s appearance comes as Biden is set to attend a glitzy fundraiser in Los Angeles later Saturday, headlined by Hollywood actors George Clooney and Julia Roberts, alongside former President Obama.     

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The Biden campaign said Saturday night’s event is expected to raise at least $28 million. 

Fox News Digital’s Elizabeth Heckman contributed to this report. 



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Biden strikes gold in California, one week after Trump’s massive haul in the blue bastion


After former President Trump’s lucrative, three-day swing through California, President Biden has returned to the West Coast to tap into the Democrat-dominated state’s political ATM.

With less than five months to go until the November election, late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel will interview Biden and former President Obama as they team up with Hollywood heavyweights George Clooney and Julia Roberts at a star-studded fundraiser the president’s campaign said is already breaking records.

Biden’s campaign boasted “the event has already raised over $28 million and counting — making it the biggest fundraiser in Democratic Party history.”

The haul tops a fundraiser with Biden, Obama and former President Clinton in March at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, which raked in $26 million.

TRUMP HAULS IN PLENTY OF GREEN DURING SWING THROUGH LONGTIME BLUE STATE

Biden, Obama and Clinton.

Former presidents Clinton (right) and Obama (left) and President Biden (center) headline a Democratic Party fundraiser at Radio City Music Hall March 28, 2024, in New York City. (Getty Images)

But Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, hauled in over $50 million in early April at a fundraiser at the Palm Beach, Florida, home of billionaire investor and hedge fund founder John Paulson. It was the most money ever brought in at a single fundraising event and shattered the record Biden set just a week and a half earlier at Radio City Music Hall.

It’s the latest case of national politicians coming to California to pad their campaign coffers. According to figures from the Federal Election Commission, Biden and Trump have raked in more money in California this cycle than any other state.

“When politicians look to the west, they see a field of green,” veteran California-based political scientist Jack Pitney at Claremont McKenna College told Fox News.

Biden v Trump

President Biden and former President Trump have both hauled in millions at fundraising events in California as they face off in their 2024 election rematch. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson and Evan Vucci)

Tickets for Saturday’s gala at the Peacock Theater in downtown Los Angeles, which an invitation describes as a “historic night,” ranged from $250 for a single person to get in the door to half a million dollars for special access, photos with Biden and Obama and invitations to an after-party.

The president arrived in California one week after Trump left the Golden State.

Trump’s team said when all the money is counted, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was expected to haul in roughly $27.5 million from three fundraisers in California and one in Las Vegas, a senior campaign official told Fox News.

WHY TRUMP’S SAN FRANCISCO FUNDRAISER WAS FRUITFUL IN MORE THAN ONE WAY

And the Trump campaign said an additional $6 million was raised for outside groups supporting his 2024 election rematch with Biden.

Trump has been aiming to close his fundraising gap with Biden. In April, his campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC) for the first time raised more than the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee. 

Trump’s campaign announced a week ago it and the RNC hauled in a stunning $141 million in May, fueled in part by the former president’s guilty verdicts in his recently concluded criminal trial.

Donald Trump appears in Manhattan Criminal Court

Former President Trump appears in Manhattan Criminal Court May 30, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)

Trump was found guilty of all 34 felony counts in the first trial of a former or current president in the nation’s history.

The former president’s campaign noted that, in the first 24 hours following the verdict, it and the RNC brought in nearly $53 million, which counted toward May’s total. 

The Biden campaign has also been raising money from the Trump verdict, and a source told Fox News “the 24 hours after the verdict were one of the best fundraising 24 hours of the Biden campaign since launch.”

While Trump’s California fundraising haul was fueled by top-dollar GOP donors, including tech industry investors and hedge fund giants, Saturday’s fundraising for Biden is being orchestrated by the Democratic Hollywood machine.

It’s no surprise. The entertainment industry, which showered presidents Clinton and Obama with campaign cash, has long been known for its Democratic leanings.

And while the 81-year-old Biden doesn’t have the tight relationships with Hollywood that his Democratic predecessors enjoyed, he can still draw a crowd.

“Any Democratic presidential candidate is going to be able to raise a lot of money in California, and an incumbent president has a big advantage. When the president enters a room, it fills up with cash,” Pitney said.

President Biden hauls in $28 million at a star-studded fundraiser in Los Angeles

President Biden waves as he arrives on Air Force One June 15, 2024, in Los Angeles. Biden will attend a campaign event Saturday night. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Major strikes by two Hollywood labor unions representing film and television writers and actors from May through November of last year delayed Biden from raising money in Los Angeles entertainment circles.

But the president started making up for lost time in December with a major fundraiser hosted by famed directors Steven Spielberg and Rob Reiner. Saturday’s mega-fundraiser was orchestrated by media mogul and Democratic rainmaker Jeffrey Katzenberg, who’s a Biden campaign co-chair. Katzenberg also put together the Radio City Music Hall fundraiser.

The Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee have enlisted the help of plenty of stars and well-known performers from the entertainment world as the president runs for a second term.

Among those lending a hand is famed actor Robert De Niro, who headlined a Biden campaign news conference outside the New York City courthouse during the final days of Trump’s trial. 

The news conference went viral after De Niro, who portrayed mobsters in such cinematic masterpieces as “The Godfather Part II” and “Goodfellas,” screamed at nearby Trump supporters that “You are gangsters” as they yelled obscenities at the actor.

Actor Mark Hamill, who portrayed Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga, made a recent unannounced appearance at the White House briefing room to praise the president and called Biden “Joe-Bi-Wan-Kenobi.”

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Spielberg has helped the DNC with its storytelling efforts, and Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer campaigned with Vice President Kamala Harris on a recent swing through battleground Michigan.

Trump, whose final California fundraiser took place last weekend at a tony gated community in upscale Newport Beach, California, and included veteran actor Jon Voight, will spend this weekend in Michigan, holding multiple events, including a roundtable discussion at a northwest Detroit church.

Trump hauls in big bucks during California fundraising swing

Supporters of former President Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, react to his motorcade on the day he visits to raise money in Newport Beach, Calif., June 8, 2024. (REUTERS/David Swanson)

The Trump campaign argued the former president will be meeting with “everyday Americans” while “Biden will be at a glitzy fundraiser in Hollywood with his elitist, out-of-touch celebrity benefactors that own him.”

The Trump campaign and Republican allies also criticized the president for skipping a peace conference on Ukraine being held this weekend in Switzerland to appear at the California fundraiser. Vice President Kamala Harris will represent the U.S. at the peace talks.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.



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George Clooney rubs elbows with Biden at star-studded LA fundraiser after calling White House with complaint


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George Clooney will be rubbing elbows with President Biden at a star-studded fundraiser in Los Angeles on Saturday evening, after reportedly calling the White House earlier this month to complain about the president’s criticism of the International Criminal Court (ICC). 

Saturday night’s gala at the Peacock Theater, which will feature other Hollywood heavyweights like Julia Roberts, is expected to haul in millions. Tickets ranged from $250 for a single person to get in the door, to half a million dollars for special access, photos with Biden and former President Barack Obama, and invitations to an after-party.

George Clooney at the premiere of "The Boys on the Boat"

Actor George Clooney will be appearing alongside other Hollywood celebrities for a Saturday evening fundraiser for President Biden’s campaign.  (Photo by Joe Maher/Getty Images for Warner Brothers)

Biden will arrive directly from the G-7 summit in Italy, where he met with other world leaders this week. His attendance in Los Angeles on Saturday means he will be skipping a summit in Switzerland about ways to end Russia’s war in Ukraine. Vice President Kamala Harris will be there to represent the U.S.

Clooney’s appearance comes after he was reported to have called the White House earlier this month, complaining about the president’s critique of the ICC seeking an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — a case his wife, human rights lawyer, Amal Clooney worked on. 

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD SAYS BIDEN ‘DOING CORNY, GOOFY STUFF,’ BECAUSE HE DOESN’T ACTUALLY TALK TO HIS VOTERS

As previously reported, the Academy Award-winning actor called Steve Ricchetti, counselor to the president, to push back on Biden’s dismissal of arrest warrants sought by the ICC targeting Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. 

Clooney was particularly irked that the Biden administration was initially open to slapping the ICC with sanctions, given his wife could be potentially subjected to penalties, according to The Washington Post, which first reported on the call. 

Fox News Digital has reached out to the White House and representatives for Clooney for comment. 

Biden arrives in Italy

President Biden arrives disembarks Air Force One at Brindisi International Airport, Wednesday, in Brindisi, Italy, for the G-7 summit. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Obama will join Clooney and Roberts for Saturday’s fundraiser, and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel will interview all of them onstage. In a text message to donors beforehand, Roberts called it “a crucial time in the election.” Kimmel wrote in his own text that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump “will hate this, so let’s do it.”

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Luminaries from the entertainment world have increasingly lined up to help Biden’s campaign, hoping to provide a fundraising jolt and to energize would-be supporters to turn out ahead of Election Day against Trump. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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White House says Trump’s tariffs will destroy manufacturing, exacerbate inflation


FIRST ON FOX: The White House is taking aim at congressional Republicans over their support for “MAGAnomics” and former President Donald Trump’s “across-the-board tariffs” plan, which it claims would raise prices for families and worsen inflation.

In a Friday memo to “allies and interested parties,” White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates slammed Republicans for “targeting Medicare and Social Security for cuts, pushing tax welfare for the super-rich, and supporting across-the-board tariffs that would raise costs and taxes for hardworking families.”

“Yesterday congressional Republicans met to plot a 2025 agenda that involves historic tax increases on the middle class in the form of high tariffs, then gives tax handouts to big corporations that are overcharging Americans despite inflation decreasing,” Bates wrote.

Trump met with both Senate and House Republicans on Thursday during his trip to Capitol Hill. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., said afterward that the former president “briefly floated the concept of eliminating the income tax and replacing it with tariffs.”

TRUMP SELLS SENATE REPUBLICANS ON PLAN TO WIN OVER WORKERS IN CLOSED-DOOR MEETING

Joe Biden, Donald Trump

President Biden, left, and former President Donald Trump, right. (Getty Images)

“What’s more, the lead House Republican for budget issues, Jodey Arrington, recently wrote, ‘Unchecked mandatory spending on programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and welfare represent a growing threat to our economic security and potentially our way of life,’” Bates said in the memo.

Pointing to other recent reporting, Bates claimed that “in addition to extending the Trump tax giveaway for billionaires and multinational companies, congressional Republicans want even further corporate tax windfalls that will add another $1 trillion to the deficit.”

President Biden “rejects this dangerous MAGAnomics agenda,” Bates noted.

“His plan would protect and strengthen Medicare and Social Security, further cut the deficit by making rich special interests pay their fair share, and to crack down on the corporate greed that is ripping off American families as inflation falls,” he wrote in the memo. “Republican officials have stood against every aspect of that plan, even defending junk fees and price gouging.”

‘TOTAL LIE’: TRUMP CAMPAIGN, GOP LAWMAKERS BLAST REPORT CLAIMING HE CALLED MILWAUKEE A ‘HORRIBLE CITY’

Joe bIden

President Joe Biden speaks at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C, on May 17, 2024. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Bates insisted the “MAGAnomics summit puts into relief the stark choice between President Biden’s plan for an economy in which economic growth flows to the middle class, and an economy in which hardworking families are sold out to billionaires and the biggest corporations, forced to pay whatever big corporations want to charge while stripped of the Medicare and Social Security benefits they pay to earn.”

In a statement to Fox News Digital, Karoline Leavitt, the Trump campaign’s national press secretary said, “The Biden campaign is lying because they are losing. President Trump’s first-term pro-growth economic policies created record-low mortgage, interest, and unemployment rates and made inflation virtually non-existent. Americans can expect President Trump’s second-term economic agenda will have the same impact and end Joe Biden’s inflation crisis that continues to rob working families of thousands of dollars every month.”

She added, “President Trump delivered on his promise to protect Social Security and Medicare in his first term, and President Trump will continue to strongly protect Social Security and Medicare in his second term.”

Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, speaks with reporters at the NRSC on June 13, 2024, in Washington, D.C.

Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, speaks with reporters at the NRSC on June 13, 2024, in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Leavitt insisted the “only candidate who poses a threat to Social Security and Medicare is Joe Biden – whose mass invasion of countless millions of illegal aliens will, if they are allowed to stay, cause Social Security and Medicare to buckle and collapse.”

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Trump’s trip to the nation’s capital this week made numerous headlines, as he met for the first time in several years with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Trump told Republican senators that there was tremendous unity in the party, and promised to “bring back common sense to the government” if he’s elected in November.





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CNN finalizes debate rules, says RFK Jr. could still qualify


CNN has finalized the rules for the first presidential debate of the 2024 election cycle, which is less than two weeks.

The campaigns of President Biden and former President Donald Trump have agreed to the rules, CNN said on Saturday, noting that it is not “impossible” for independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to join the pair on stage.

To qualify for the CNN showdown, a candidate must have received 15% support in four separate national polls, and be on the ballot in enough states to reach 270 electoral college votes. Currently, Kennedy is on the ballot in six states, totaling 89 potential electoral college votes.

The 90-minute debate, scheduled to take place on June 27 in Atlanta, will be hosted by CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. It will be the first in-person face off between Biden and Trump since they stood alongside one another on debate stages during the 2020 cycle.

TRUMP PREDICTS THERE’S A ‘10% CHANCE’ CNN WILL BE FAIR TO HIM AT FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

Donald Trump, Joe Biden

Former President Donald Trump, left, and President Joe Biden. (Getty Images)

Both candidates accepted the network’s invitation to debate last month, agreeing to certain rules and formats that were outlined in CNN letters to their respective campaigns.

CNN said there will be two commercial breaks during the debate, and candidates are not allowed to consult with other members of their campaign during that time.

The network also noted that candidates’ podiums and positions will be determined by a coin flip, their mics will be muted outside of speaking time, and that candidates will be provided only with a pen and a pad of paper.

Candidates will not be allowed to bring props or prepared notes. 





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Trump celebrates 78th birthday with Club 47 party in West Palm Beach


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Former President Donald Trump celebrated his 78th birthday by hosting a political rally with members of his fan club in Florida.

Trump appeared at an event celebrating his birthday in West Palm Beach with members of Club 47.

“This is the biggest birthday party I’ve ever had by far,” Trump said of the event.

TRUMP VOWS TO BUILD ISRAEL-STYLE ‘GREAT IRON DOME’ OVER US IF RE-ELECTED: ‘MADE IN AMERICA’

Trump Rally

Former President Donald Trump stands near a birthday cake given to him before he spoke to members of the Club 47 group at th Palm Beach Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. ( Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The former president was presented with a Make America Great Again-themed birthday cake.

Trump revisited some of his biggest hits from the campaign trail, speaking at length about his belief that President Biden is mentally incompetent to hold office.

“Our country is being destroyed by incompetent people,” Trump told the crowd. “All presidents should have aptitude tests.”

BIDEN LOOKS TO CAPITALIZE ON STAR-STUDDED HOLLYWOOD FUNDRAISER AFTER TRUMP’S MASSIVE CASH HAUL IN BLUE STATE

Trump Birthday Florida

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at his birthday celebration, hosted by Club 47, in West Palm Beach, Florida. Trump spoke at length about his doubts that President Biden has the mental capacity to continue holding office. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Club 47 is based in Palm Beach County and is intended to keep local Trump supporters engaged with the campaign.

The club sold out of its approximately 5,000 tickets, which were priced at $35 a piece. More exclusive seats near the stage were priced at $60.

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Trump Birthday Florida

Trump greets supporters from Club 47 after speaking at his birthday celebration. The club seeks to keep Trump supporters in Palm Beach County connected and engaged with the campaign. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

During the event, Trump promised to build a “great” Iron Dome for the U.S. during his birthday rally, saying that it would be “made in America.”

“By next term we will build a great Iron Dome over our country,” Trump said about the idea, which he attributed to former President Ronald Reagan. “We deserve a dome. We deserve it all, made state of the art. 

“It’s a missile defense shield, and it’ll all be made in America,” he said. “Jobs, jobs, jobs.”

Fox News Digital’s Sarah Rumpf-Whitten contributed to this report.



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Trump says he understands Biden family pain caused by addiction, citing brother


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Former President Donald Trump offered rare words of empathy to President Biden this week regarding the impacts of addiction.

Trump told Fox News during a Thursday interview that he understood well the negative effect that addiction can have on a family, speaking from personal experience.

“I understand it pretty well, because I’ve had it with people who have it in their family,” Trump told Fox News. “It’s a very tough thing.” 

TRUMP HAS ‘SORT OF A PRETTY GOOD IDEA’ OF VP PICK, WILL PROBABLY ANNOUNCE DURING RNC CONVENTION

Trump

Former President Donald Trump giving a speech at a rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Trump did not offer specific details regarding which member or members of his family he was referring to — but his brother, Fred Trump, openly wrestled with alcoholism for years.

Fred Trump’s addiction eventually compromised his day-to-day life and contributed to the heart attack that took his life in 1981.

“It’s a very tough situation for a father; it’s a very tough situation for a brother or sister; and it goes on, and it’s not stopping, whether it’s alcohol or drugs or whatever it may be,” Trump continued in the interview with Fox News.

TRUMP CAMPAIGN SAYS SUPREME COURT’S DECISION STRIKING DOWN HIS ADMIN’S BUMP STOCK RULE ‘SHOULD BE RESPECTED’

Hunter Biden and Melissa Cohen Biden arrive at federal court

Hunter Biden, son of Joe Biden, arrives to the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building in Wilmington, Delaware.  (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

He added, “It’s a tough thing, and so that’s a tough moment for the family. It’s a tough moment for any family involved in that.”

Trump has previously attributed his decision to refrain from alcohol to his brother, who he says warned him to never drink alcohol.

First son Hunter Biden was found guilty Tuesday on all charges related to making a false statement about the purchase of a gun, making a false statement related to information required to be kept by a federally licensed gun dealer, and possession of a gun by a person who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance.

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Biden speaks at White House

Biden speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. (Michael Reynolds/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Hunter Biden has a well-documented history of drug abuse, which was most notably documented in his 2021 memoir, “Beautiful Things.” 

The memoir walks readers through his previous need to smoke crack cocaine every 20 minutes, how his addiction was so prolific that he referred to himself as a “crack daddy” to drug dealers, and anecdotes revolving around drug deals, such as a Washington, D.C., crack dealer Hunter nicknamed “Bicycles.”

President Biden has expressed unconditional love and support for his son despite the high-profile battle with substance abuse.

Fox News Digital’s Emma Colton and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.



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Biden looks to capitalize on star-studded Hollywood fundraiser after Trump’s massive cash haul in blue state


After a lucrative three-day swing by former President Trump through California, President Biden returns to the West Coast to tap into the Democratic-dominated state’s political ATM.

With less than five months to go until the November election, late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel will interview Biden and former President Obama as they team up with Hollywood heavyweights George Clooney and Julia Roberts at a star-studded fundraiser that’s expected to haul in millions.

It’s the latest case of national politicians coming to California to pad their campaign coffers. According to figures from the Federal Election Commission, Biden and Trump have raked in more money in California this cycle than from any other state.

“When politicians look to the west, they see a field of green,” veteran California-based political scientist Jack Pitney at Claremont McKenna College told Fox News.

TRUMP HAULS IN PLENTY OF GREEN DURING SWING THROUGH BLUE BASTION

Biden v Trump

President Biden and former President Trump have both hauled in millions at fundraising events in California as they face off in their 2024 election rematch. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson and Evan Vucci)

Tickets for the gala at the Peacock Theater in downtown Los Angeles, which an invitation described as a “historic night,” ranged from $250 for a single person to get in the door to half a million dollars for special access, photos with Biden and Obama and invitations to an after-party.

The president arrives in California one week after Trump left the Golden State.

Trump’s team said that when all the money is counted, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was expected to haul in roughly $27.5 million from three fundraisers in California and one in Las Vegas, a senior campaign official told Fox News.

WHY TRUMP’S SAN FRANCISCO FUNDRAISER WAS FRUITFUL IN MORE THAN ONE WAY

And the Trump campaign said an additional $6 million was raised for outside groups supporting his 2024 election rematch with Biden.

Trump has been aiming to close his fundraising gap with Biden. In April, his campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC) for the first time raised more than the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee. 

Trump’s campaign announced a week ago it and the RNC, fueled in part by the former president’s guilty verdicts in his recently concluded criminal trial, hauled in a stunning $141 million in May.

Donald Trump appears in Manhattan Criminal Court

Former President Trump appears in Manhattan Criminal Court May 30, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)

Trump was found guilty of all 34 felony counts in the first trial of a former or current president in the nation’s history.

The former president’s campaign noted that in the first 24 hours following the verdict, it and the RNC brought in nearly $53 million, which counted toward May’s total. 

The Biden campaign has also been raising money off the Trump verdict, and a source told Fox News “the 24 hours after the verdict were one of the best fundraising 24 hours of the Biden campaign since launch.”

While Trump’s California fundraising haul was fueled by top-dollar GOP donors, including tech industry investors and hedge fund giants, Saturday’s fundraising for Biden is being orchestrated by the Democratic Hollywood machine.

It’s no surprise. The entertainment industry, which showered presidents Clinton and Obama with campaign cash, has long been known for its Democratic leanings.

Biden, Obama and Clinton.

Former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and President Biden. (Getty Images)

And while the 81-year-old Biden doesn’t have the tight relationships with Hollywood that his Democratic predecessors enjoyed, he can still draw a crowd.

“Any Democratic presidential candidate is going to be able to raise a lot of money in California, and an incumbent president has a big advantage. When the president enters a room, it fills up with cash,” Pitney said.

Major strikes by two Hollywood labor unions representing film and television writers and actors from May through November of last year delayed Biden from raising money in Los Angeles entertainment circles.

But the president started making up for lost time in December with a major fundraiser hosted by famed directors Steven Spielberg and Rob Reiner. Saturday’s mega-fundraiser was orchestrated by media mogul and Democratic rainmaker Jeffrey Katzenberg, who’s a Biden campaign co-chair.

Katzenberg also put together a major fundraiser with Biden, Obama and Clinton in March at New York City’s famed Radio City Music Hall, which raked in $26 million.

The Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee have enlisted the help of plenty of stars and well-known performers from the entertainment world as the president runs for a second term.

Among those lending a hand is famed actor Robert De Niro, who headlined a Biden campaign news conference outside the New York City courthouse during the final days of Trump’s trial. 

The news conference went viral after De Niro, who portrayed mobsters in such cinematic masterpieces as “The Godfather Part II” and “Goodfellas,” screamed at nearby Trump supporters that “You are gangsters” as they yelled obscenities at the actor.

Actor Mark Hamill, who portrayed Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars saga, made a recent unannounced appearance at the White House briefing room to praise the president and called Biden “Joe-Bi-Wan-Kenobi.”

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Spielberg has helped the DNC with its storytelling efforts, and Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer campaigned with Vice President Kamala Harris on a recent swing through battleground Michigan.

Trump, whose final California fundraiser took place last weekend at a tony gated community in upscale Newport Beach, California, and included veteran actor Jon Voight, will spend this weekend in Michigan, holding multiple events, including a roundtable discussion at a northwest Detroit church.

Trump hauls in big bucks during California fundraising swing

Supporters of former President Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, react to his motorcade on the day he visits to raise money in Newport Beach, Calif., June 8, 2024. (REUTERS/David Swanson)

The Trump campaign argued the former president will be meeting with “everyday Americans” while “Biden will be at a glitzy fundraiser in Hollywood with his elitist, out-of-touch celebrity benefactors that own him.”

The Trump campaign and Republican allies also criticized the president for skipping a peace conference on Ukraine being held this weekend in Switzerland to appear at the California fundraiser. Vice President Kamala Harris will represent the U.S. at the peace talks.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.



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Ranked choice voting and the love-hate relationship both Democrats and Republicans have with it


Depending on who you ask, ranked choice voting can either reward extreme and wealthy candidates in elections or lead to a more publicly-palatable electoral process and encourage voter engagement.

The practice has grown in prevalence in recent elections – particularly in Alaska and Maine, plus Virginia, to some extent – entailing a hierarchical approach to election tallies. Several rounds of tabulation occur after voters are asked at the polls to choose their candidates in order of preference.

In the first round, totals for each candidate are tabulated, and the candidate with the fewest “first votes” is eliminated, and the “second votes” of that candidate’s supporters are added to the totals of the remaining candidates until a winner is decided.

A Republican former Alaska U.S. Senate candidate fell on the side of RCV critics, while a Republican former state lawmaker in Virginia credited it with leading to a political shakeup in his state. Democrats appeared similarly divided.

Democrats in Maine and New York have praised the system, while one Democratic governor appeared to throw up a potential roadblock in the way of his state’s implementation. He later stated that he would support the will of the people in a forthcoming ballot measure.

ALASKA SUES FEDS OVER ‘KNOWINGLY’ POLLUTED NATIVE LANDS

New Jersey ballot

A ballot drop box in Atlantic City (AP)

Ballot measures implementing or banning RCV will appear in Oregon, Alaska, Nevada, Missouri and Colorado. Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Kentucky also have pre-emptively banned RCV.

Former Virginia State Del. Chris Saxman, a Staunton Republican who is now executive director at the free-enterprise non-profit Virginia Free, told Fox News Digital that RCV worked in the selective way it was implemented in his state.

During the 2021 gubernatorial sweeps, Virginia Republicans utilized RCV in their primary candidate selection process, which led to Glenn Youngkin winning the nomination.

Virginia Republicans voted to hold a convention rather than a primary that year.

After Youngkin was selected, Saxman told Fox News Digital, a consultant approached him at the convention to complain that supporters of perceptibly more conservative candidates had been stymied from attacking the nominee.

GAS CRISIS: ALASKA GOVERNOR SAYS ‘BIDEN IS SEARCHING FOR OIL ANYWHERE ON THE PLANET EXCEPT AT HOME’

“If it wasn’t for this damned ranked choice voting, we could have gone after Youngkin harder, but we couldn’t afford to alienate his voters,” the consultant complained, according to Saxman.

“I was like, ‘So, it’s a problem not to attack a fellow Republican?’,” he said, citing former President Reagan’s noted rule.

Saxman said that situation showed there is value in nuanced reforms to elections like the way the party utilized RCV.

“Complex systems reward small change,” he said, going on to claim that because of the surgical way Virginia Republicans implemented RCV, it led to a political earthquake that November.

Saxman noted the GOP had been out of power in Richmond since the Bush era, but now, suddenly, Youngkin, Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares supplanted the Democratic establishment.

Saxman said national fundraising groups had largely dismissed Virginia’s governor’s race as a lost cause, but in part thanks to RCV, funding poured in after the Youngkin-Sears-Miyares ticket was announced.

Separately, in New York City, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio celebrated 2021’s contest as the “biggest ranked choice voting election in America,” while many of the competitive races fell during the Democratic primary.

IN THE ONLY STATE BORDERING RUSSIA, ALASKA GOVERNOR SAYS DEFENSES ARE STRONG

On the other side of the country, however, Alaska Republicans appeared ready to dispense with the recently-implemented system, which many blamed for the election of Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, in a solidly red state as a replacement for the late five-decade GOP mainstay Don Young.

Proponents of RCV in Alaska said in multiple reports that the new system worked in the 2022 race there, in that Peltola – a liberal – Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, – a moderate – and Gov. Mike Dunleavy – a conservative, all won races in the same election.

But Kelly Tshibaka, a Republican who ran for Murkowski’s seat in the nonpartisan primary that year, told Fox News Digital that Alaskans were fooled by proponents of RCV who claimed it would take dark money and extremism out of elections.

She noted how Peltola had prevailed after facing Republicans Nick Begich III – scion of a famous Alaskan political family – and former Gov. Sarah Palin.

Tshibaka said she fully supports the effort to get rid of RCV in the Last Frontier, as its repeal is poised to be a statewide ballot initiative in November pending a legal challenge to the measure.

She pointed to the failed candidacy of Al Gross, a Democrat-turned-Independent who, at times, led in the primary but dropped out. Tshibaka claimed that Gross had been forced from the ballot to make way for Peltola, who was to his left – and therefore claims that RCV quells extremism are unfounded.

WHAT IS RANKED CHOICE VOTING, THE NEW ELECTION PROCESS USED IN ALASKA?

Gross said at the time it was “just too hard to run as a nonpartisan candidate in this race” and that the country was “broken.”

Tshibaka also argued that the system leads to a much smaller pool of voters ultimately electing a candidate as other votes are canceled out in tabulation rounds.

“So, it’s very deceptive on how they sell it to the public,” she said, adding that 2022 is largely seen as the most negative election in the state’s history despite RCV being sold to voters as a moderating force.

“We are baiting the water for negativity. You might have a one-off anecdote here or there. However, what we saw in Maine and Alaska … we’re seeing an increase in extreme negativity.”

Judy Eledge, a former schoolteacher in the Arctic oceanside community of Barrow – or Utqiagvik – who is active in Alaskan conservative circles, said the RCV system has shown to be very confusing to voters:

“You basically don’t get your first choice of who you want to win, and it enables people that otherwise would never win anything,” said Eledge. “It gives them enough to win and basically just destroys the party system within the state when it comes to elections.”

Eledge also claimed that it allows candidates who have substantial outside financial support a leg up, artificially influencing second and third choices.

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Rep. Mary Peltola waving

Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK) speaks to supporters at a watch party on November 8, 2022, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Getty Images )

In Maine, the implementation of RCV paved the way for Democrat Jared Golden’s surprise 2018 upset over incumbent GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin, marking the first large-scale test of RCV statewide.

Golden’s campaign told Fox News Digital that RCV is a “nonfactor” in his current race. “Like 2020, this will be a head-to-head race,” a spokesperson for the campaign said.

In response to criticisms, Peltola said that while RCV gets a lot of attention in Alaska, the true denominator is the open-primary system.

“We need more people willing to work with the other party, and Alaska’s system gives those candidates a chance. For instance, I wouldn’t have won a Democratic primary – I’m too conservative, and I talk about things that don’t just appeal to the Democratic base,” Peltola said.

“Open primaries and ranked-choice voting give a voice to the 64% of Alaskans that aren’t Democrats or Republicans.”



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Trump promises ‘great’ Iron Dome in US that would be ‘made in America’


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Former President Trump promised to build a “great” Iron Dome for the U.S. during his birthday rally in Florida, saying that it would be “made in America.”

“By next term we will build a great Iron Dome over our country,” Trump said at his 78th birthday soirée at Club 47 in West Palm Beach on Friday evening. “We deserve a dome. We deserve it all, made state of the art. 

“It’s a missile defense shield, and it’ll all be made in America,” he said. “Jobs, jobs, jobs.”

BIDEN CAMP JABS AT TRUMP’S ‘FAILED’ BUSINESS RECORD AS FORMER PRESIDENT LOOKS TO SWAY NATION’S TOP CEOS

Trump Rally

Former President Donald Trump speaks before members of the Club 47 group at the Palm Beach Convention Center. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Trump said that Ronald Reagan once rooted for an Iron Dome in the U.S., “but at that time, we didn’t have the technology.”

“We now have the technology,” Trump said.

Trump Rally

Former President Donald Trump stands near a birthday cake given to him before he spoke to members of the Club 47 group at the Palm Beach Convention Center on June 14, 2024, in West Palm Beach, Florida.  ( Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Trump said his proposed Iron Dome will be made in America and that it will create “beautiful” opportunities for young people.

“It’s all going to be made in states,” he said. “We’re going to have a big, beautiful Iron Dome.”

TRUMP RILES UP FIERY SWING STATE CROWD IN FIRST RALLY SINCE NEW YORK CONVICTION

“Great opportunity for young people,” Trump said.

Rocket fire over Israel

An Israeli missile launched from the Iron Dome defense missile system attempts to intercept a rocket, fired from the Gaza Strip, over the city of Netivot in southern Israel on October 8, 2023. (MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images)

Israel’s missile defense system, or Iron Dome, is largely funded by the United States.

The system is designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery fired from no more than 43 miles away.

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Since its creation in 2011, the Iron Dome has rebuffed and destroyed rockets from Hamas militants, Palestinian forces and Iranian drones and missiles.



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Federal judge blocks Biden administration’s Title IX changes in four states


A federal judge has blocked President Biden’s expansion of Title IX in four states, calling the mandatory gender identity protections an “abuse of power.”

U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty granted a preliminary injunction on Thursday, and referred to the Biden administration’s unilateral Title IX changes as a “threat to democracy.”

“This case demonstrates the abuse of power by executive federal agencies in the rulemaking process,” Doughty said in his ruling. “The separation of powers and system of checks and balances exist in this country for a reason.”

Doughty ruled that the changes were inadmissible because the term “gender discrimination” as used in the establishment of Title IX “only included discrimination against biological males and females at the time of enactment.”

‘PUTTING OUR GIRLS AT RISK’: BIDEN’S TITLE IX CHANGES CHALLENGED BY NEARLY 70 GOP LAWMAKERS

Biden speaks at White House

President Biden speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on May 31. (Michael Reynolds/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Doughty ruled that the changes were inadmissible because the term “gender discrimination” as used in the establishment of Title IX “only included discrimination against biological males and females at the time of enactment.”

The ruling blocks implementation of the changes in Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana and Idaho.

Title IX is a longstanding civil rights law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in schools and other education centers that receive federal funding. 

SIX STATES SUE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION OVER NEW TITLE IX PROTECTIONS FOR TRANS ATHLETES IN GIRLS’ SPORTS

Under the administration’s new rules, sex discrimination would include discrimination based on gender identity as well as sexual orientation. 

READ THE JUDGE’S RULING — APP USERS, CLICK HERE:

The latest update, from April, expands the definition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity — a move that critics say would undermine hard-won protections for women and girls. 

A school would not be able to separate or treat people differently based on sex, except in limited circumstances, under the provisions. 

Critics say that the change will allow locker rooms and bathrooms to be based on gender identity.

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LGBTQ+ students who face discrimination would be entitled to a response from their school under Title IX, and those failed by their schools can seek recourse from the federal government.

Advocates have hailed the change as necessary to protect transgender students. The rule is set to take effect Aug. 1.

Lawsuits against the Biden administration’s changes — similar to the Louisiana case — are underway in states across the country.

Fox News’ Elizabeth Elkind and Joshua Q. Nelson contributed to this report.



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Rule of law on ballot in NYC suburbs as cop, veteran trade barbs over border crisis, policing


Former NYPD Inspector Alison Esposito slammed her congressional opponent at an event for GOP women candidates, claiming his move from the military to Congress led to a change in his tact toward public service.

In response, Rep. Patrick Ryan, D-N.Y., an Iraq War veteran, highlighted a recent trip to the southern border and bipartisan support from Hudson Valley law enforcement officials.

Esposito, a 2024 recruit by Rep. Elise Stefanik’s Republican women’s candidate group, E-PAC, said she is a cop, not a politician.

“That is what I am. That is what I always will be,” she said, adding she was in the thick of the George Floyd riots and recounting being hit in the head by a cabinet tossed out a window by protesters. She compared it to a scene in “Braveheart.”

ROCKLAND COUNTY EXECUTIVE TORCHES NYC MAYOR OVER MIGRANT BUSING DEAL

She claimed Ryan portrays himself as a moderate on such rule-of-law issues, while acting otherwise. Ryan later pushed back.

“He wants to play the moderate game, but then, at the same time, it’s important to remember when he was the Ulster County executive, he made Ulster a sanctuary county,” Esposito said.

“Now, I thank him very much for the service, and I respect it immensely. But I would submit that the second he took off that uniform, he stopped serving the American people.”

In 2019, Ryan enacted an order adjusting procedures involving cooperation with immigration authorities, and he noted Thursday that Ulster strenuously avoided “sanctuary city” terminology.

Ryan said he was one of 15 Democrats to demand President Biden seal the border by executive order, adding, “The No. 1 thing I learned as an Army officer: When in charge, take charge. We are in a crisis; the president is in charge.”

Esposito highlighted how her area had seen migrants being sent upriver to be housed as New York City became overrun. 

Migrants had been sent to suburbs like Orangeburg, Middletown and Newburgh, and Esposito said New York Democrats who supported sanctuary state policies finally realized what they had agreed to.

“It was only a matter of time. … They were fine with the influx at the southern border as long as [migrants] stayed in the south. When the [border-state] governors were dealing with thousands a day, they would send a couple hundred up. And now you have the same sanctuary politicians screaming, ‘Oh no, wait, this is unsustainable’,” she said.

Both candidates said rule of law and border security are top election issues, and Esposito illustrated her own recent visit to Orange County, where the issues remain front and center.

pat_ryan_alison_esposito_ny_congress

Rep. Pat Ryan, D-N.Y., is facing off against former NYPD Inspector Alison Esposito in November. (Getty Images)

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“You had an individual that was on the deportation list that was awaiting trial who [allegedly] killed two people,” she said. “You come out of ShopRite in Middletown, and you have the migrants and the illegal immigrants holding their babies, selling water, selling roses,” Esposito said.

Stefanik said Esposito and five other endorsed women she introduced at her E-PAC event could be the difference in November.

“With the help of these rising stars, House Republicans are going to … help save our country from the disastrous policies of far-left Democrats.”



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Military officials’ worries about ‘optics’ are to blame for National Guard delay Jan. 6, top Republican says


The top Republican investigating the work of the House select committee on Jan. 6 believes military officials defied former President Trump and delayed sending the National Guard to the Capitol that day.

Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., is chair of the House Administration Committee’s subcommittee on oversight. In that role, he conducted a months-long investigation into the now-defunct panel set up by former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., after the Capitol riot.

“From what we’ve learned from senior leadership within the D.C. National Guard and then some information we’re deriving from the Pentagon, is that, yes, it was, from leaders within the Pentagon that either through incompetence, poor communications or … a concern of optics, they purposely delayed the National Guard actually getting to the Capitol,” Loudermilk said.

PELOSI SAYS IT’S ‘WRONG’ TO INVITE ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU TO SPEAK TO CONGRESS: ‘VERY SAD’

Pro-Trump rioters swarm the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021

House Republicans are investigating Jan. 6 and the work of the now-defunct Democrat-led Jan. 6 committee (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

“Had they gotten there at the time when the request was made, it’s arguable that lives could have been saved because there were some deaths by people being trampled, the crowd outside. With the National Guard showing up, I think it wouldn’t even require the engagement. I think the visual of the National Guard showing up, coming off buses in riot gear, would have been enough to suppress a lot of the violence that was happening.”

Pelosi’s office responded in a statement to Fox News Digital, “Loudermilk is absolutely correct that, had there not been an inexplicable delay, the National Guard response could have saved lives with its response. The request for National Guard response was absolutely made early enough to limit the damage done on that day. The problem is, the authorities responsible in the Pentagon — and ultimately, in the White House — dragged their feet.”

Pelosi and other Democrats had blamed Trump for the delays in sending in the National Guard for roughly three hours while Capitol Police and Washington, D.C., law enforcement were fighting to keep the ex-president’s supporters from harming lawmakers.

Trump had previously blamed Pelosi for the delay, but she would not have had the authority to call in federal troops. Pelosi’s office has also previously pushed back on any blame.

PELOSI REBUKED TO HER FACE DURING OXFORD DEBATE AFTER CONDEMNING AMERICANS CLOUDED BY ‘GUNS, GAYS, GOD’

Rep. Loudermilk pointing

Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., is leading the House GOP’s investigation. (Getty images)

Loudermilk told Fox News Digital that, based on the investigation, it appears military officials under the Defense Secretary were to blame. He accused them of “without a doubt” acting in direct contradiction to Trump’s wishes.

“He had already delegated that authority to the Secretary of Defense,” Loudermilk said.

Pelosi’s office claimed, however, that Trump “did not” do so. 

“At any point during the attack on the Capitol, Trump could have ordered a D.C. National Guard response,” Pelosi’s office said. “He didn’t.”

Loudermilk’s panel released 45 minutes of footage taken by Pelosi’s daughter, Alexandra Pelosi, for an HBO documentary, but which was not previously released, earlier this week.

Clips viewed by Fox News Digital showed military officials and others assuring lawmakers who had been evacuated to Fort McNair that the National Guard had been activated but could not explain the delay.

DOJ WILL NOT TURN OVER BIDEN’S RECORDED INTERVIEW WITH SPECIAL COUNSEL HUR TO CONGRESS

Donald Trump arrives to Trump Tower after being found guilty

Loudermilk said former President Trump is not to blame for the National Guard delay (Felipe Ramales for Fox News Digital)

One video shows Pelosi’s exchange with a military official in the 3 p.m. hour Jan. 6, 2021, who told her the National Guard had been activated.

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Another clip appears to show the Pelosi on the phone with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who said that Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pledged any support needed to deal with the protests.

“The Trump administration, from all the evidence that we’re gathering, was doing everything that they could to make sure that there was plenty of security,” Loudermilk said.

Fox News Digital reached out to Bowser’s office for comment.



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Trump reveals two Dem senators he is targeting during closed-door meeting


EXCLUSIVE: Former President Trump revealed that he is targeting two red state Democrat senators in 2024, a source tells Fox News Digital.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked Trump to share with lawmakers the importance of taking back the Senate in 2024 during a meeting Thursday on Capitol Hill, according to a person in the room. Graham mentioned that there are several vulnerable Democrats in the Senate with records very similar to President Biden’s.

Trump said Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Jon Tester, D-Mont., are top of the list of Democrats he is seeking to oust in 2024 — two vulnerable Democrats who are facing tough re-election bids in red states won by Trump in 2020.

“They opposed everything I did while I was president, and now they are talking like Republicans,” Trump said, according to the source.

‘HUGE PROBLEM’: VULNERABLE DEM SENATOR RIPPED AFTER INTERVIEW RESURFACES TOUTING SIMILARITY WITH BIDEN

Sen. Jon Tester, former President Donald Trump, and Sen. Sherrod Brown split

From left: Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.; former President Donald Trump; and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. (Kevin Dietsch/Steven Hirsch-Pool)

Brown and Tester have both appeared to be distancing themselves from President Biden as polls continue to show the president falling behind in several key swing states.

Tester released a memo in May that touted his “standing up to President Biden and his Administration” on several issues, including the border and COVID mandates. However, Tester’s GOP opponent Tim Sheehy previously told Fox News Digital that the Democratic senator has a habit of changing his tune to appear more moderate in election years.

When asked about Trump focusing on Tester’s seat in 2024, a spokesperson for Tester said the former president “signed more than 20 of Jon Tester’s bills into law.”

“Jon Tester does what’s right for Montana. That’s why when President Trump was in office, he signed more than 20 of Jon Tester’s bills into law to help veterans, crack down on government waste and abuse, and support our first responders,” Monica Robinson, spokesperson for Montanans for Tester, told Fox News Digital in a statement.

VULNERABLE DEM SENATOR HIT WITH BLISTERING AD AS RECORD ON KEY ISSUE FACES SCRUTINY: ‘F- RATING’

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., speaks to reporters as he walks through the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 5. (Anna Moneymaker)

“You know this is what he does. Five years out of every six he’s a dyed-in-the-wool liberal, firm progressive. Votes lockstep with [Senate Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer, Biden and every other progressive in the country,” Sheehy told Fox in November. “And then, for his election year, he tries to shift back to the center and act like he’s a moderate.” 

Brown has also been hit by his GOP opponent for his record of voting with President Biden nearly 100% of the time.

When asked about Trump’s comment, the senator’s campaign told Fox News Digital that Brown “worked with President Trump” during his administration.

“Sherrod will work with anyone when it’s right for Ohio and worked with President Trump to renegotiate NAFTA and pass legislation to lower the cost of prescription drugs and make sure law enforcement officers have the resources they need to keep themselves safe and keep fentanyl out of Ohio communities,” a campaign spokesperson for Brown told Fox News Digital in a statement.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is seen during Senate voting in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 23. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“Sherrod Brown parades around Ohio telling voters that he is a moderate, while he votes with Joe Biden 99% of the time and consistently sells out Ohio workers,” Reagan McCarthy, communications director for the Bernie Moreno campaign, told Fox News Digital. 

“Brown has supported every single reckless spending package that has resulted in rampant inflation, voted for Biden’s attacks on American energy in favor of green energy schemes, and enabled Biden’s open-border invasion. We look forward to exposing his left-wing record and sending him packing in November.”

Brown told Politico earlier this year that he is going to “run my own race” and “my own brand,” while at the same time saying he is “not going to run away from Biden.”

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The Cook Political Report ranks both the Ohio and Montana Senate races, states where Trump won comfortably in 2020, as toss ups, and many experts believe Republican chances to retake control of the Senate hinge on those races.



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Fox News Politics: Alito Lit Up


Welcome to Fox News’ Politics newsletter with the latest political news from Washington D.C. and updates from the 2024 campaign trail. 

The top Democrat in the House believes Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is “insurrectionist sympathizer” due to the flag that flew in front of his property in 2021.

“It appears that Justice Alito is an insurrectionist-sympathizer, joined by his right-wing buddy Clarence Thomas,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said at a press conference Friday.

Alito and his wife, Martha-Ann, continue to come under fire for previously flying the “Appeal to Heaven” flag, which features a pine tree on a white background. The flag was common in the Revolutionary War, but lately has become associated with extremism because it was flown by rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

When asked about criticisms of Justices Alito and Clarence Thomas, Jeffries told Fox News’ Chad Pergram that “the American people almost uniformly agree that the right-wing justices on the Supreme Court are completely and totally out of control.”

Jeffries also commented that the high bench cannot police itself when it comes to ethics and that there have been significantly moreaggressively partisan, right wing, extreme decisions” since Trump nominated a trio of justices.

Trials and Tribulations

UNEVEN PLAYING FIELD? DOJ maintains high success rate amid calls for ‘overcharging’ to be addressed …Read more

‘ABUSE OF POWER’: Federal judge issues fiery broadside against Title IX ‘gender identity’ rules …Read more

‘THE COURT HAS SPOKEN’: Trump campaign says SCOTUS decision striking down his ATF bump stock rule should be ‘respected’ …Read more

Tales from the Campaign Trail

‘GONNA F—IN’ LOSE ‘EM’: Democratic strategist sounds alarm over party’s key voting bloc …Read more

‘IMPOSTER’: Pelosi calls on Trump’s family, Republican Party to stage an ‘intervention’ for Trump …Read more

BREAKING THE BLUE: Top Dem Senate candidate diverted millions from police during crime surge for mental health funding …Read more

IN THE RED: Experts predict inflation election trouble for Biden: ‘Too late’ to fix …Read more

Congress

$895 BILLION: House passes $895 billion defense policy bill: Here’s what’s in it …Read more

AUTO-ENROLLMENT: House passes bill automatically registering men 18-26 for draft …Read more

White House

‘CAN’T REWARD LAWFARE’: Sen. Vance says he’s blocking Biden appointees as payback for Trump verdict …Read more

UNDER PRESS-URE: Biden snaps at reporter for refusing to ‘play by the rules’ by asking off-topic question …Read more

LEAD FOOT FETTERMAN: Senator’s driving record under scrutiny after ‘at fault’ accident …Read more

NO GO: AG Garland won’t be prosecuted for contempt over Biden, special counsel interview …Read more

COMMANDER IN TEETH: Biden reportedly witnessed dog Commander biting Secret Service agents: report …Read more

‘ABUSE OF POWER’: Federal judge issues fiery broadside against Title IX ‘gender identity’ rules …Read more

Across America

NO SCRUBS: Iowa Dem deleted anti-Trump posts on X to appear more moderate, critics say …Read more

CALIFORNIA DREAMING: Gov. Newsom takes heat for false claim about National Guard at border …Read more

‘FRIGHTENING TO PEOPLE’: Hochul says NYC mask ban on the table to deter antisemitic hate crimes …Read more

Subscribe now to get Fox News Politics newsletter in your inbox.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more on FoxNews.com.



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Biden DOJ’s ‘overcharging,’ partisan targeting shows ‘we have just lost our damn minds’: critics


With a staggering 99.6% success rate in court, some federal investigations under the Biden administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) are drawing scrutiny for alleged partisan bias and the little-known problem of overcharging — fueling calls for urgent reform among experts.

“We have just lost our damn minds when it comes to criminal prosecution,” healthcare defense attorney Ron Chapman told Fox News Digital in an interview. “Ninety-five percent of cases do not go to trial, because prosecutors can find fuzzy statutes to get such high maximums or even mandatory minimums at play, which force innocent people to plead guilty. And that’s what we’re dealing with — we’re dealing with tons of innocent people who may not be innocent of all the crimes, but they’re innocent of the ones that were overcharged against them.”

Prosecutors commonly charge additional felonies to pressure guilty pleas, Chapman said, which is denounced by the American Bar Association for violating defendants’ fair trial rights. Federal prosecutors have a 99.6% conviction rate, according to a 2019 Pew Research Center study. As such, federal investigations result in more pleas and avoid trials altogether. 

This week, a Texas doctor was charged by the DOJ with four felonies after exposing the hospital he worked in for allegedly secretly conducting transgender surgical procedures on children. Chapman, a former federal prosecutor for the U.S. Marines Corps, said, “This is a Merrick Garland allegation, guaranteed.”

5 FBI CONTROVERSIES OF 2023 THAT SHOOK FAITH IN AGENCY

Department of Justice logo

Department of Justice logo (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

“This would have had to come from the top,” Chapman said. “They’re almost asking for a lawsuit for this to go up to the Supreme Court.”

Last month, two pro-life activists were sentenced to several years in prison for staging a protest inside a D.C.-based abortion clinic in 2020. Federal prosecutors argued the pro-life activists violated the 1994 FACE Act, a federal law that prohibits physical force, threats of force or intentionally damaging property to prevent someone from obtaining or providing abortion services.

But the targeted investigations didn’t start under the Biden administration, Chapman said. Each administration “has their own agenda,” and will fulfill it accordingly.

There are stark differences in the types of investigations the DOJ will pursue. Justin Paperny, a federal prison consultant for white collar criminals, told Fox News Digital he’s seen an uptick in this administration going after more white collar crimes, compared to the former Trump administration, which was “more pro-business.” Professionals in the healthcare sector are also being investigated more thoroughly for fraud schemes. 

“We’ve had fewer drug cases than we had in the prior administration, and probably because it’s becoming more normal in this country,” Paperny said. “People try to draw this equivalence between Hunter Biden and Trump, but you have to actually question one prosecution versus the other. Everyone has an agenda, and these are things that people are paying more attention to because of this climate.”

FBI DIRECTOR PLEADS FOR CONGRESS TO KEEP PROGRAM ACCUSED OF SPYING ON AMERICANS

Lauren handy sentenced to prison

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly sentenced Lauren Handy, 30, of Alexandria, Virginia, to 57 months in prison and three years of supervised release. (Getty Images)

TEXAS HOSPITAL WHISTLEBLOWER SAYS DOJ INDICTMENT MEANT TO INTIMIDATE HIM AFTER HE EXPOSED GENDER CLINIC

Paperny, who previously went to prison in 2007 for financial crimes, said the government will also “pile on more charges” if a defendant pleads not guilty against the government. 

“Overcharging, threats of 20 to 30 years in federal prison, could compel someone who truly believes they’re innocent, to plead guilty,” he said. “So, many of these cases should be handled civilly at worst, not criminal. Yet, we continue to see prosecutions and people going to prison for very long periods of time, especially those who have exercised their right to go to trial.”

“These people who are going to trial and fighting it against the odds, it’s very inspiring,” he said. 

Dr. Eithan Haim — who accused the Texas Children’s Hospital of secretly performing transgender surgical procedures on minors despite previously claiming they planned to shut down the program after state Attorney General Ken Paxton released an opinion saying the procedures could be considered child abuse under state law — is one of those people who will fight against the DOJ’s charges.

“I refuse to back down or to be silenced,” Haim said in a post on X.

In December, the GOP-led House Judiciary Committee published a report detailing “the Extent of the FBI’s Weaponization of Law Enforcement Against Traditional Catholics,” which former FBI agent, Kyle Seraphin, blew the whistle on. 

The report said the committee studied the FBI’s categorization of traditional Catholic Americans “as potential domestic terrorists” after the FBI’s Richmond memorandum painted “radical-traditionalist Catholics” as violent extremists and proposed opportunities for the FBI to infiltrate Catholic churches as a form of “threat mitigation.”

DOJ's exceptional court success rate raises concerns of overcharging and pressure tactics, sparking urgent calls for reform: experts.

DOJ’s exceptional court success rate raises concerns of overcharging and pressure tactics, sparking urgent calls for reform: experts. (Bloomberg / Contributor Tom Williams / Contributor Drew Angerer / Staff)

“I think it’s a bigger problem than people think,” Seraphin told Fox News Digital in an interview. “And so my solution is broader than most people are comfortable with, but we spend roughly $11 billion a year on the investigative agency of the FBI, and people need to ask if the $11 billion spent is solving the problems the FBI was created to solve, and it’s my argument that that problem doesn’t even exist anymore.”  

“Most Americans don’t realize that there could be an active national security investigation on anyone,” he said. “That’s the thing that should scare the bejesus out of Americans.”

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On Friday, the DOJ announced that it won’t prosecute Obama-appointed Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress over his refusal to turn over audio recordings of Special Counsel Robert Hur’s interview with President Biden.

The House voted on Wednesday to hold Garland in contempt, after months of digging by House Republicans to try to bring into public view as much material from the special counsel interview as possible. 

The DOJ did not respond to a request to comment by press deadline.

Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report.



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Pentagon ran secret anti-vax campaign to undermine China during pandemic


At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. military launched a secret campaign to counter what it perceived as China’s growing influence in the Philippines, a nation hit especially hard by the deadly virus.

The clandestine operation has not been previously reported. It aimed to sow doubt about the safety and efficacy of vaccines and other life-saving aid that was being supplied by China, a Reuters investigation found. Through phony internet accounts meant to impersonate Filipinos, the military’s propaganda efforts morphed into an anti-vax campaign. Social media posts decried the quality of face masks, test kits and the first vaccine that would become available in the Philippines – China’s Sinovac inoculation.

FAUCI DENIES SEEKING TO SUPPRESS COVID-19 LAB LEAK ORIGIN THEORY

Reuters identified at least 300 accounts on X, formerly Twitter, that matched descriptions shared by former U.S. military officials familiar with the Philippines operation. Almost all were created in the summer of 2020 and centered on the slogan #Chinaangvirus – Tagalog for China is the virus.

“COVID came from China and the VACCINE also came from China, don’t trust China!” one typical tweet from July 2020 read in Tagalog. The words were next to a photo of a syringe beside a Chinese flag and a soaring chart of infections. Another post read: “From China – PPE, Face Mask, Vaccine: FAKE. But the Coronavirus is real.”

After Reuters asked X about the accounts, the social media company removed the profiles, determining they were part of a coordinated bot campaign based on activity patterns and internal data.

The U.S. military’s anti-vax effort began in the spring of 2020 and expanded beyond Southeast Asia before it was terminated in mid-2021, Reuters determined. Tailoring the propaganda campaign to local audiences across Central Asia and the Middle East, the Pentagon used a combination of fake social media accounts on multiple platforms to spread fear of China’s vaccines among Muslims at a time when the virus was killing tens of thousands of people each day. A key part of the strategy: amplify the disputed contention that, because vaccines sometimes contain pork gelatin, China’s shots could be considered forbidden under Islamic law.

Military-Sexual-Assault

The Pentagon is seen from Air Force One as it flies over Washington, March 2, 2022. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. military launched a secret campaign to counter what it perceived as China’s growing influence in the Philippines, a nation hit especially hard by the deadly virus. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The military program started under former President Donald Trump and continued months into Joe Biden’s presidency, Reuters found – even after alarmed social media executives warned the new administration that the Pentagon had been trafficking in COVID misinformation. The Biden White House issued an edict in spring 2021 banning the anti-vax effort, which also disparaged vaccines produced by other rivals, and the Pentagon initiated an internal review, Reuters found.

The U.S. military is prohibited from targeting Americans with propaganda, and Reuters found no evidence the Pentagon’s influence operation did so.

Spokespeople for Trump and Biden did not respond to requests for comment about the clandestine program.

A senior Defense Department official acknowledged the U.S. military engaged in secret propaganda to disparage China’s vaccine in the developing world, but the official declined to provide details.

A Pentagon spokeswoman said the U.S. military “uses a variety of platforms, including social media, to counter those malign influence attacks aimed at the U.S., allies, and partners.” She also noted that China had started a “disinformation campaign to falsely blame the United States for the spread of COVID-19.”

In an email, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it has long maintained the U.S. government manipulates social media and spreads misinformation.

Manila’s embassy in Washington did not respond to Reuters inquiries, including whether it had been aware of the Pentagon operation. A spokesperson for the Philippines Department of Health, however, said the “findings by Reuters deserve to be investigated and heard by the appropriate authorities of the involved countries.” Some aide workers in the Philippines, when told of the U.S. military propaganda effort by Reuters, expressed outrage.

Briefed on the Pentagon’s secret anti-vax campaign by Reuters, some American public health experts also condemned the program, saying it put civilians in jeopardy for potential geopolitical gain. An operation meant to win hearts and minds endangered lives, they said.

“I don’t think it’s defensible,” said Daniel Lucey, an infectious disease specialist at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. “I’m extremely dismayed, disappointed and disillusioned to hear that the U.S. government would do that,” said Lucey, a former military physician who assisted in the response to the 2001 anthrax attacks.

The effort to stoke fear about Chinese inoculations risked undermining overall public trust in government health initiatives, including U.S.-made vaccines that became available later, Lucey and others said. Although the Chinese vaccines were found to be less effective than the American-led shots by Pfizer and Moderna, all were approved by the World Health Organization. Sinovac did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Academic research published recently has shown that, when individuals develop skepticism toward a single vaccine, those doubts often lead to uncertainty about other inoculations. Lucey and other health experts say they saw such a scenario play out in Pakistan, where the Central Intelligence Agency used a fake hepatitis vaccination program in Abbottabad as cover to hunt for Osama bin Laden, the terrorist mastermind behind the attacks of September 11, 2001. Discovery of the ruse led to a backlash against an unrelated polio vaccination campaign, including attacks on healthcare workers, contributing to the reemergence of the deadly disease in the country.

“It should have been in our interest to get as much vaccine in people’s arms as possible,” said Greg Treverton, former chairman of the U.S. National Intelligence Council, which coordinates the analysis and strategy of Washington’s many spy agencies. What the Pentagon did, Treverton said, “crosses a line.”

‘WE WERE DESPERATE’

Together, the phony accounts used by the military had tens of thousands of followers during the program. Reuters could not determine how widely the anti-vax material and other Pentagon-planted disinformation was viewed, or to what extent the posts may have caused COVID deaths by dissuading people from getting vaccinated.

In the wake of the U.S. propaganda efforts, however, then-Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte had grown so dismayed by how few Filipinos were willing to be inoculated that he threatened to arrest people who refused vaccinations.

“You choose, vaccine or I will have you jailed,” a masked Duterte said in a televised address in June 2021. “There is a crisis in this country … I’m just exasperated by Filipinos not heeding the government.”

When he addressed the vaccination issue, the Philippines had among the worst inoculation rates in Southeast Asia. Only 2.1 million of its 114 million citizens were fully vaccinated – far short of the government’s target of 70 million. By the time Duterte spoke, COVID cases exceeded 1.3 million, and almost 24,000 Filipinos had died from the virus. The difficulty in vaccinating the population contributed to the worst death rate in the region.

A spokesperson for Duterte did not make the former president available for an interview.

Some Filipino healthcare professionals and former officials contacted by Reuters were shocked by the U.S. anti-vax effort, which they say exploited an already vulnerable citizenry. Public concerns about a Dengue fever vaccine, rolled out in the Philippines in 2016, had led to broad skepticism toward inoculations overall, said Lulu Bravo, executive director of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination. The Pentagon campaign preyed on those fears.

“Why did you do it when people were dying? We were desperate,” said Dr. Nina Castillo-Carandang, a former adviser to the World Health Organization and Philippines government during the pandemic. “We don’t have our own vaccine capacity,” she noted, and the U.S. propaganda effort “contributed even more salt into the wound.”

The campaign also reinforced what one former health secretary called a longstanding suspicion of China, most recently because of aggressive behavior by Beijing in disputed areas of the South China Sea. Filipinos were unwilling to trust China’s Sinovac, which first became available in the country in March 2021, said Esperanza Cabral, who served as health secretary under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Cabral said she had been unaware of the U.S. military’s secret operation.

“I’m sure that there are lots of people who died from COVID who did not need to die from COVID,” she said.

To implement the anti-vax campaign, the Defense Department overrode strong objections from top U.S. diplomats in Southeast Asia at the time, Reuters found. Sources involved in its planning and execution say the Pentagon, which ran the program through the military’s psychological operations center in Tampa, Florida, disregarded the collateral impact that such propaganda may have on innocent Filipinos.

“We weren’t looking at this from a public health perspective,” said a senior military officer involved in the program. “We were looking at how we could drag China through the mud.”

A NEW DISINFORMATION WAR

In uncovering the secret U.S. military operation, Reuters interviewed more than two dozen current and former U.S officials, military contractors, social media analysts and academic researchers. Reporters also reviewed Facebook, X and Instagram posts, technical data and documents about a set of fake social media accounts used by the U.S. military. Some were active for more than five years.

Clandestine psychological operations are among the government’s most highly sensitive programs. Knowledge of their existence is limited to a small group of people within U.S. intelligence and military agencies. Such programs are treated with special caution because their exposure could damage foreign alliances or escalate conflict with rivals.

Over the last decade, some U.S. national security officials have pushed for a return to the kind of aggressive clandestine propaganda operations against rivals that the United States’ wielded during the Cold War. Following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, in which Russia used a combination of hacks and leaks to influence voters, the calls to fight back grew louder inside Washington.

In 2019, Trump authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to launch a clandestine campaign on Chinese social media aimed at turning public opinion in China against its government, Reuters reported in March. As part of that effort, a small group of operatives used bogus online identities to spread disparaging narratives about Xi Jinping’s government.

COVID-19 galvanized the drive to wage psychological operations against China. One former senior Pentagon leader described the pandemic as a “bolt of energy” that finally ignited the long delayed counteroffensive against China’s influence war.

The Pentagon’s anti-vax propaganda came in response to China’s own efforts to spread false information about the origins of COVID. The virus first emerged in China in late 2019. But in March 2020, Chinese government officials claimed without evidence that the virus may have been first brought to China by an American service member who participated in an international military sports competition in Wuhan the previous year. Chinese officials also suggested that the virus may have originated in a U.S. Army research facility at Fort Detrick, Maryland. There’s no evidence for that assertion.

Mirroring Beijing’s public statements, Chinese intelligence operatives set up networks of fake social media accounts to promote the Fort Detrick conspiracy, according to a U.S. Justice Department complaint.

China’s messaging got Washington’s attention. Trump subsequently coined the term “China virus” as a response to Beijing’s accusation that the U.S. military exported COVID to Wuhan.

“That was false. And rather than having an argument, I said, ‘I have to call it where it came from,’” Trump said in a March 2020 news conference. “It did come from China.”

China’s Foreign Ministry said in an email that it opposed “actions to politicize the origins question and stigmatize China.” The ministry had no comment about the Justice Department’s complaint.

Beijing didn’t limit its global influence efforts to propaganda. It announced an ambitious COVID assistance program, which included sending masks, ventilators and its own vaccines – still being tested at the time – to struggling countries. In May 2020, Xi announced that the vaccine China was developing would be made available as a “global public good,” and would ensure “vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.” Sinovac was the primary vaccine available in the Philippines for about a year until U.S.-made vaccines became more widely available there in early 2022.

Washington’s plan, called Operation Warp Speed, was different. It favored inoculating Americans first, and it placed no restrictions on what pharmaceutical companies could charge developing countries for the remaining vaccines not used by the United States. The deal allowed the companies to “play hardball” with developing countries, forcing them to accept high prices, said Lawrence Gostin, a professor of medicine at Georgetown University who has worked with the World Health Organization.

The deal “sucked most of the supply out of the global market,” Gostin said. “The United States took a very determined America First approach.”

To Washington’s alarm, China’s offers of assistance were tilting the geopolitical playing field across the developing world, including in the Philippines, where the government faced upwards of 100,000 infections in the early months of the pandemic.

The U.S. relationship with Manila had grown tense after the 2016 election of the bombastic Duterte. A staunch critic of the United States, he had threatened to cancel a key pact that allows the U.S. military to maintain legal jurisdiction over American troops stationed in the country.

Duterte said in a July 2020 speech he had made “a plea” to Xi that the Philippines be at the front of the line as China rolled out vaccines. He vowed in the same speech that the Philippines would no longer challenge Beijing’s aggressive expansion in the South China Sea, upending a key security understanding Manila had long held with Washington.

“China is claiming it. We are claiming it. China has the arms, we do not have it.” Duterte said. “So, it is simple as that.”

Days later, China’s foreign minister announced Beijing would grant Duterte’s plea for priority access to the vaccine, as part of a “new highlight in bilateral relations.”

China’s growing influence fueled efforts by U.S. military leaders to launch the secret propaganda operation Reuters uncovered.

“We didn’t do a good job sharing vaccines with partners,” a senior U.S. military officer directly involved in the campaign in Southeast Asia told Reuters. “So what was left to us was to throw shade on China’s.”

MILITARY TRUMPED DIPLOMATS

U.S. military leaders feared that China’s COVID diplomacy and propaganda could draw other Southeast Asian countries, such as Cambodia and Malaysia, closer to Beijing, furthering its regional ambitions.

A senior U.S. military commander responsible for Southeast Asia, Special Operations Command Pacific General Jonathan Braga, pressed his bosses in Washington to fight back in the so-called information space, according to three former Pentagon officials.

The commander initially wanted to punch back at Beijing in Southeast Asia. The goal: to ensure the region understood the origin of COVID while promoting skepticism toward what were then still-untested vaccines offered by a country that they said had lied continually since the start of the pandemic.

A spokesperson for Special Operations Command declined to comment.

At least six senior State Department officials responsible for the region objected to this approach. A health crisis was the wrong time to instill fear or anger through a psychological operation, or psyop, they argued during Zoom calls with the Pentagon.

“We’re stooping lower than the Chinese and we should not be doing that,” said a former senior State Department official for the region who fought against the military operation.

While the Pentagon saw Washington’s rapidly diminishing influence in the Philippines as a call to action, the withering partnership led American diplomats to plead for caution.

“The relationship is hanging from a thread,” another former senior U.S. diplomat recounted. “Is this the moment you want to do a psyop in the Philippines? Is it worth the risk?”

In the past, such opposition from the State Department might have proved fatal to the program. Previously in peacetime, the Pentagon needed approval of embassy officials before conducting psychological operations in a country, often hamstringing commanders seeking to quickly respond to Beijing’s messaging, three former Pentagon officials told Reuters.

But in 2019, before COVID surfaced in full force, then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper signed a secret order that later paved the way for the launch of the U.S. military propaganda campaign. The order elevated the Pentagon’s competition with China and Russia to the priority of active combat, enabling commanders to sidestep the State Department when conducting psyops against those adversaries. The Pentagon spending bill passed by Congress that year also explicitly authorized the military to conduct clandestine influence operations against other countries, even “outside of areas of active hostilities.”

Esper, through a spokesperson, declined to comment. A State Department spokesperson referred questions to the Pentagon.

U.S. PROPAGANDA MACHINE

In spring 2020, special-ops commander Braga turned to a cadre of psychological-warfare soldiers and contractors in Tampa to counter Beijing’s COVID efforts. Colleagues say Braga was a longtime advocate of increasing the use of propaganda operations in global competition. In trailers and squat buildings at a facility on Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base, U.S. military personnel and contractors would use anonymous accounts on X, Facebook and other social media to spread what became an anti-vax message. The facility remains the Pentagon’s clandestine propaganda factory.

Psychological warfare has played a role in U.S. military operations for more than a hundred years, although it has changed in style and substance over time. So-called psyopers were best known following World War II for their supporting role in combat missions across Vietnam, Korea and Kuwait, often dropping leaflets to confuse the enemy or encourage their surrender.

After the al Qaeda attacks of 2001, the United States was fighting a borderless, shadowy enemy, and the Pentagon began to wage a more ambitious kind of psychological combat previously associated only with the CIA. The Pentagon set up front news outlets, paid off prominent local figures, and sometimes funded television soap operas in order to turn local populations against militant groups or Iranian-backed militias, former national security officials told Reuters.

Unlike earlier psyop missions, which sought specific tactical advantage on the battlefield, the post-9/11 operations hoped to create broader change in public opinion across entire regions.

By 2010, the military began using social media tools, leveraging phony accounts to spread messages of sympathetic local voices – themselves often secretly paid by the United States government. As time passed, a growing web of military and intelligence contractors built online news websites to pump U.S.-approved narratives into foreign countries. Today, the military employs a sprawling ecosystem of social media influencers, front groups and covertly placed digital advertisements to influence overseas audiences, according to current and former military officials.

China’s efforts to gain geopolitical clout from the pandemic gave Braga justification to launch the propaganda campaign that Reuters uncovered, sources said.

PORK IN THE VACCINE?

By summer 2020, the military’s propaganda campaign moved into new territory and darker messaging, ultimately drawing the attention of social media executives.

In regions beyond Southeast Asia, senior officers in the U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations across the Middle East and Central Asia, launched their own version of the COVID psyop, three former military officials told Reuters.

Although the Chinese vaccines were still months from release, controversy roiled the Muslim world over whether the vaccines contained pork gelatin and could be considered “haram,” or forbidden under Islamic law. Sinovac has said that the vaccine was “manufactured free of porcine materials.” Many Islamic religious authorities maintained that even if the vaccines did contain pork gelatin, they were still permissible since the treatments were being used to save human life.

The Pentagon campaign sought to intensify fears about injecting a pig derivative. As part of an internal investigation at X, the social media company used IP addresses and browser data to identify more than 150 phony accounts that were operated from Tampa by U.S. Central Command and its contractors, according to an internal X document reviewed by Reuters.

“Can you trust China, which tries to hide that its vaccine contains pork gelatin and distributes it in Central Asia and other Muslim countries where many people consider such a drug haram?” read an April 2021 tweet sent from a military-controlled account identified by X.

The Pentagon also covertly spread its messages on Facebook and Instagram, alarming executives at parent company Meta who had long been tracking the military accounts, according to former military officials.

One military-created meme targeting Central Asia showed a pig made out of syringes, according to two people who viewed the image. Reuters found similar posts that traced back to U.S. Central Command. One shows a Chinese flag as a curtain separating Muslim women in hijabs and pigs stuck with vaccine syringes. In the center is a man with syringes; on his back is the word “China.” It targeted Central Asia, including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, a country that distributed tens of millions of doses of China’s vaccines and participated in human trials. Translated into English, the X post reads: “China distributes a vaccine made of pork gelatin.”

Facebook executives had first approached the Pentagon in the summer of 2020, warning the military that Facebook workers had easily identified the military’s phony accounts, according to three former U.S. officials and another person familiar with the matter. The government, Facebook argued, was violating Facebook’s policies by operating the bogus accounts and by spreading COVID misinformation.

The military argued that many of its fake accounts were being used for counterterrorism and asked Facebook not to take down the content, according to two people familiar with the exchange. The Pentagon pledged to stop spreading COVID-related propaganda, and some of the accounts continued to remain active on Facebook.

Nonetheless, the anti-vax campaign continued into 2021 as Biden took office.

Angered that military officials had ignored their warning, Facebook officials arranged a Zoom meeting with Biden’s new National Security Council shortly after the inauguration, Reuters learned. The discussion quickly became tense.

“It was terrible,” said a senior administration official describing the reaction after learning of the campaign’s pig-related posts. “I was shocked. The administration was pro-vaccine and our concern was this could affect vaccine hesitancy, especially in developing countries.”

By spring 2021, the National Security Council ordered the military to stop all anti-vaccine messaging. “We were told we needed to be pro-vaccine, pro all vaccines,” said a former senior military officer who helped oversee the program. Even so, Reuters found some anti-vax posts that continued through April and other deceptive COVID-related messaging that extended into that summer. Reuters could not determine why the campaign didn’t end immediately with the NSC’s order. In response to questions from Reuters, the NSC declined to comment.

The senior Defense Department official said that those complaints led to an internal review in late 2021, which uncovered the anti-vaccine operation. The probe also turned up other social and political messaging that was “many, many leagues away” from any acceptable military objective. The official would not elaborate.

The review intensified the following year, the official said, after a group of academic researchers at Stanford University flagged some of the same accounts as pro-Western bots in a public report. The high-level Pentagon review was first reported by the Washington Post, which also reported that the military used fake social media accounts to counter China’s message that COVID came from the United States. But the Post report did not reveal that the program evolved into the anti-vax propaganda campaign uncovered by Reuters.

The senior defense official said the Pentagon has rescinded parts of Esper’s 2019 order that allowed military commanders to bypass the approval of U.S. ambassadors when waging psychological operations. The rules now mandate that military commanders work closely with U.S. diplomats in the country where they seek to have an impact. The policy also restricts psychological operations aimed at “broad population messaging,” such as those used to promote vaccine hesitancy during COVID.

The Pentagon’s audit concluded that the military’s primary contractor handling the campaign, General Dynamics IT, had employed sloppy tradecraft, taking inadequate steps to hide the origin of the fake accounts, said a person with direct knowledge of the review. The review also found that military leaders didn’t maintain enough control over its psyop contractors, the person said.

A spokesperson for General Dynamics IT declined to comment.

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Nevertheless, the Pentagon’s clandestine propaganda efforts are set to continue. In an unclassified strategy document last year, top Pentagon generals wrote that the U.S. military could undermine adversaries such as China and Russia using “disinformation spread across social media, false narratives disguised as news, and similar subversive activities [to] weaken societal trust by undermining the foundations of government.”

And in February, the contractor that worked on the anti-vax campaign – General Dynamics IT – won a $493 million contract. Its mission: to continue providing clandestine influence services for the military.



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