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    JD Vance ‘disrespecting the dead’ with bump stock remarks, Nevada senator says

    Political ripples from the supreme court’s decision to overturn a Trump White House-era ban on sales of “bump stocks” – a spring-loaded stock that uses recoil to in effect turn a semi-automatic firearm into a machine gun – continued to radiate on Monday when Jacky Rosen took exception to comments on the issue made by his Republican colleague JD Vance.Vance, the Ohio senator and potential vice-presidential pick as Trump seeks a second presidency in November had dismissed efforts by senior Democrats, including Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, to pass legislation banning the devices as “a huge distraction”.Vance went further. “What is the real gun violence problem in this country, and are we legislating in a way that solves fake problems? Or solves real problems?” Vance said, before adding: “My very strong suspicion is that the Schumer legislation is aimed at a PR problem, not something that’s going to meaningfully reduce gun violence in this country.”Rosen, the Democratic senator, hit back, facing re-election this year in politically purple Nevada, the site of the 2017 Las Vegas concert shooting that killed 58 and prompted Trump to ban the rapid-fire device.“This is not a fake problem,” she told reporters. “Let him come to Las Vegas. Let him see the memorial for those people who died. Let him talk to those families. It’s not a fake problem. Those families are dead.”Rosen said Las Vegas, the gambling mecca and major source of Nevada’s revenue, had been “changed forever because of what the shooter did, and the bump stocks helped him”. She invited Vance to visit memorials to the victims as well as to talk to first responders. “Shame on him,” Rosen added, visibly enraged. “Shame on him for disrespecting the dead.”In its ruling last week, the conservative majority on the supreme court ruled that the executive branch of government did not have the power to use existing firearms laws to prohibit bump stocks. But the justices allowed legislators to pass new laws banning the accessory.Schumer and other senior Democrats have since said they would quickly move to do so.Outcry from Democrats mounted after Vance reasoned that a bill to ban bump stocks would “end up just inhibiting the rights of law-abiding Americans” and mused about how many people would still have been killed if the heavily armed video poker player Stephen Paddock had not outfitted his armory with the contested devices.“How many people would have been shot alternatively? And you have to ask yourself the question: will anyone actually not choose a bump stock because Chuck Schumer passes a piece of legislation?” Vance said.After Vance made his comments, Schumer retorted: “Talk to the people in Las Vegas who lost loved ones.”The supreme court ruling gives both sides of the gun issue red meat for the election campaign, though it is complicated by the initial ban coming from the Trump White House. Lindsey Graham, the Republican South Carolina senator, told NBC News he will block the Democrats’ measure. And Vance questioned Democrats’ legislative priorities.Chris Murphy, the Democratic Connecticut senator who has championed tougher gun laws after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in 2012, said Republicans in his chamber should have no problem voting for the measure banning bump stocks.“Is it good politics to make it easier for potential mass killers to get their hands on machine guns? Probably not,” Murphy said. “The idea is to try to make this attractive to Republicans. And we would be a lot better off if psychopaths couldn’t get their hands on machine guns.”Between Friday – when the supreme court’s ruling on bump stocks returned gun control to the top of the national discourse – and Monday, there were 17 mass shootings reported across the US, according to the Gun Violence Archive.Among those was a shooting Saturday in Rochester Hills, Michigan, in which nine people – including two children – were wounded at a city-run splash pad that families frequent to cool off in the summer. Police said the attack was carried out at random by a gunman who later died by suicide.Another shooting on Saturday in Round Rock, Texas, saw 14 people wounded and two killed. There, the shooting erupted after an altercation between two groups of people – the victims were uninvolved bystanders, police said.The non-partisan Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more victims are wounded or killed.There have been at least 230 such shootings reported in the US so far this year, a high rate which has fueled public calls for more substantial gun control but which Congress for the most part has not heeded.
    Ramon Antonio Vargas contributed reporting More

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    Democrat Khanna: Biden is ‘running out of time’ with young voters over Gaza war

    Progressive California Democrat Ro Khanna warned Sunday that Joe Biden is running out of time to win over young voters opposed to his administration’s handling of the Israel-Gaza conflict and that he will not attend Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress next month.In an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Representative Khanna said the erosion of support that the US president is seeing among young voters is a “challenge for our party” and the Democrats could be “running out of time” to restore support with “more people dying” in the conflict.“We have to remember the humanitarian stakes,” he said. “Young people want the war to end. But what young people want is a vision, and the president started that with a ceasefire. I hope he can go further. He should call for two states. He should say in his second term, he’s going to convene a peace conference in the Middle East, recognize a Palestinian state without Hamas, work with Egypt, Saudi Arabia on it.”Khanna said he was “not going to sit in a one-way lecture” from the Israeli prime minister during his address to a joint session of Congress, scheduled for 24 July, but “if he wants to come to speak to members of Congress about how to end the war and release hostages, I would be fine doing that.”Khanna echoed congressional colleague Jim Clyburn, who last week said he would also not attend and cited the feud between Netanyahu and Barack Obama over Palestinian statehood and the US pursuit of a nuclear deal with Iran.“How he treated President Obama, he should not expect reciprocity,” Khanna said, adding that Netanyahu should be treated with “decorum” by the legislative body. “We’re not going to make a big deal about it,” he added.Khanna called on Biden to put more pressure on Netanyahu regarding a UN-endorsed ceasefire proposal, which is supported by the US and the Arab league.“Benny Ganz is saying prioritize the hostage deal and the peace,” Khanna said, referring to the Israel’s national unity chair Benny Gantz who resigned from Netanyahu’s coalition government. “Netanyahu is saying they want to destroy … all of Hamas, and I don’t think that’s achievable”.Khanna’s comments come as political divisions between progressive and centrist Democrats over Israel and Gaza are being exposed by a key congressional race in the New York suburbs that pits Bernie Sanders-supported progressive Democrat Jamaal Bowman against George Latimer, a centrist who was endorsed by Hillary Clinton last week.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionThe contest between the two Democrat candidates in New York’s 16th district may turn on differing positions on the Israeli action on Gaza, which Sanders has called “ethnic cleansing” and Bowman a “genocide”. Clinton has said US pro-Palestinian protesters “don’t know very much” about the Middle East and that a full ceasefire would “perpetuate the cycle of violence”. More

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    Justice department declines to pursue Merrick Garland contempt charges

    The US Department of Justice on Friday told the Republican House of Representatives speaker, Mike Johnson, that it would decline to pursue criminal contempt of Congress charges against the attorney general, Merrick Garland, according to a letter seen by Reuters.The Republican-controlled House had voted on Wednesday to hold Garland, in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over audio of Joe Biden’s interview with the special counsel investigating his retention of classified documents after he was Barack Obama’s vice-president.It was Republicans’ latest and strongest rebuke of the justice department as partisan conflict over the rule of law animates the 2024 presidential campaign.The 216-207 vote fell along party lines, with Republicans coalescing behind the contempt effort despite reservations among some of the party’s more centrist members.It was immediately predicted that the justice department would not pursue a prosecution.“This contempt resolution will do very little, other than smear the reputation of Merrick Garland, who will remain a good and decent public servant no matter what Republicans say about him today,” Jerry Nadler, a New York congressman and the top Democrat on the judiciary committee, said during floor debate.Garland has defended the justice department, saying officials have gone to extraordinary lengths to provide information to the committees about the special counsel, Robert Hur, and the classified-documents investigation, including a transcript of Biden’s interview with him.Hur did not recommend charges against Biden, but when he issued his report in early 2024 described the president as an elderly man with a poor memory, creating a storm in Washington.The role of the justice department in American political life has become a huge issue in the 2024 election with Republicans making unfounded statements that it has been “weaponized” by Biden.skip past newsletter promotionafter newsletter promotionIn fact, the department has successfully prosecuted Biden’s own son, Hunter Biden, on gun charges and it is the Republican challenger, Donald Trump, who has made repeated threats to come after his political enemies should he win November’s presidential election.Before Garland, the last attorney general held in contempt was Republican Bill Barr in 2019. That was when the Democratically controlled House voted to issue a referral against Barr after he refused to turn over documents related to a special counsel investigation into Trump.Years before that under Barack Obama, the then attorney general Eric Holder was held in contempt related to the gun-running operation known as Operation Fast and Furious. In each of those instances, the justice department took no action against the attorney general. More

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    Pelosi condemns Trump’s Capitol visit: ‘Returning to the scene of the crime’

    Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic former House speaker, mounted a forceful denunciation of Thursday’s first visit to the US Capitol by Donald Trump since he incited a mob to attack it on January 6 2021, accusing him of returning with “the same mission of dismantling our democracy”.In remarks that triggered a fresh war of words between the pair, Pelosi said the former president’s visit to discuss strategy with congressional Republicans in advance of the election amounted to a symbolic return to the scene of a crime that he deliberately initiated.“Today, the instigator of an insurrection is returning to the scene of the crime,” Pelosi said in a statement. “January 6 was a crime against the Capitol, that saw Nazi and Confederate flags flying under the dome that Lincoln built.”She added: “It was a crime against the constitution and its peaceful transfer of power, in a desperate attempt to cling to power. And it was a crime against members, heroic police officers and staff, that resulted in death, injury and trauma that endure to this day.”Pelosi, whose office was overrun and defiled by invading Trump supporters in the assault, as rioters ran through the halls of Congress calling her name, added: “With his pledges to be a dictator on day one and seek revenge against his political opponents, Donald Trump comes to Capitol Hill today with the same mission of dismantling our democracy. But make no mistake – Trump has already cemented his legacy of shame in our hallowed halls.”Her furious broadside may have provided the fuel for outlandish comments attributed to Trump in his Thursday morning meeting with House Republicans.Jake Sherman, a reporter for the website Punchbowl, posted on X that Trump had digressed to talk about an imagined romantic relationship between Pelosi and himself, which he said had been suggested by one of the former speaker’s daughters, whom he did not identify by name.“Nancy Pelosi’s daughter is a wacko … her daughter told me if things were different Nancy and I would be perfect together. There’s an age difference, though,” Sherman quoted Trump as saying, adding that his words were “close to an exact quote”.The reported comments provoked an angry response from one Pelosi daughter, Christine Pelosi, also on X.“Speaking for all 4 Pelosi daughters – this is a LIE,” she wrote. “His deceitful, deranged obsession with our mother is yet another reason Donald Trump is unwell, unhinged and unfit to step foot anywhere near her – or the White House.”The Hill quoted a spokesman for Pelosi as saying: “That guy has clearly lost his marbles. Not that he had many to begin with.” More

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    White House won’t rule out commuting Hunter Biden sentence – as it happened

    The White House has not ruled out a possible commutation for Hunter Biden after a jury found him guilty on three federal gun crimes.White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, speaking to reporters on Wednesday on Air Force One, said:
    As we all know, the sentencing hasn’t even been scheduled yet.
    She said she had not spoken to Joe Biden about the issue since the verdict was delivered on Tuesday. The president has previously ruled out pardoning his son.“He was very clear, very upfront, obviously very definitive,” Jean-Pierre said of Biden’s remarks about a potential pardon.But on a commutation, “I just don’t have anything beyond that,” she added.Here’s a wrap-up of the day’s key events:
    The US has announced a new slew of sanctions on Russia over its military invasion of Ukraine. On Wednesday, the treasury and state departments announced sanctions targeting more than 300 targets including entities in Russia as well as in China, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
    Joe Biden has announced the reopening of the port of Baltimore after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed in March, killing six construction workers. In a statement released via the White House, Biden said: “I made clear that my administration would move heaven and earth to reopen the port of Baltimore – one of our nation’s largest shipping hubs. Today, thanks to the tireless work by the men and women in the Unified Command, the full navigation channel is now open to all vessel traffic, allowing a full return of commerce to the port of Baltimore.”
    Republicans in Congress are vowing to block Democrats’ push to enforce a code of ethics in the supreme court after reports of justices, including Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, accepting lavish gifts and travel opportunities. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator and top Republican on the Senate judiciary committee, told NBC News that he will object to Democrats’ efforts to unanimously pass the bill.
    Rapper and singer Usher visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday and met with congressional leaders to focus on screening for type 1 diabetes. Speaking about his visit to reporters, Usher said: “It’s not my first time, won’t be my last time coming. Today I’m just talking about type 1 diabetes and early screening for type 1 diabetes.”
    Donald Trump is expected to meet with congressional Republicans in Washington DC this Thursday, as the GOP tries to present a united front ahead of the November elections. Trump is scheduled on Thursday to meet with House Republicans at the Capitol Hill Club, and then with Republican senators in the afternoon at the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters, according to reports.
    The White House has not ruled out a possible commutation for Hunter Biden after a jury found him guilty on three federal gun crimes. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, speaking to reporters on Wednesday on Air Force One, said: “As we all know, the sentencing hasn’t even been scheduled yet.”
    That’s it as we wrap up the blog for today. Thank you for following along.Hillary Clinton has publicly endorsed George Latimer, a moderate Democrat from Westchester ahead of a New York congressional primary.In a post on Twitter/X, Clinton wrote:
    With Trump on the ballot, we need strong, principled Democrats in Congress more than ever. In Congress, @LatimerforNY will protect abortion rights, stand up to the NRA, and fight for President Biden’s agenda-just like he’s always done. Make a plan to vote by June 25th!
    Multiple pro-Israel groups have also thrown their efforts into endorsing Latimer – who is running against New York congressman Jamaal Bowman – in attempts to unseat the progressive “squad” in Congress over their criticisms of Israel’s deadly war on Gaza.Rapper and singer Usher visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday and met with congressional leaders to focus on screening for type 1 diabetes.Speaking about his visit to reporters, Usher said:
    It’s not my first time, won’t be my last time coming. Today I’m just talking about type 1 diabetes and early screening for type 1 diabetes.
    Georgia’s Democratic senator Raphael Warnock was among the congressional members who met with Usher.In a post on Twitter/X, Warnock wrote:
    I’m so glad Usher could stop by my office to talk about the importance of screening for type 1 diabetes. Whether pushing to strengthen access to screening or to lower the exorbitant costs of insulin, I won’t stop fighting for people with diabetes in Georgia & across the nation.
    Hunter Biden’s latest federal conviction could boost his father against Donald Trump amid Trump’s claims that the justice department is unfairly rigged against him.Robert Tait reports for the Guardian:Trump, the former president and presumptive GOP presidential nominee, has pushed that line relentlessly to explain his conviction last month on charges related to the concealment of hush-money payments to a porn star to help him win the 2016 election.He has made the claim even though his prosecution was brought in a New York state court that is independent of the Department of Justice, which is overseeing 54 other criminal charges against him that have so far not come to trial.Hunter Biden, by contrast, was prosecuted and convicted under the authority of the justice department, which is part of his father’s administration – an inconvenient fact that weakens Republican claims that it has been turned into a political weapon in the president’s hands.The result, some observers say, is that Hunter’s conviction may help the president in a close race, even though the personal cost of his son’s troubles is heavy.Read the full story here:Donald Trump is expected to meet with congressional Republicans in Washington DC this Thursday, as the GOP tries to present a united front ahead of the November elections.Trump is scheduled on Thursday to meet with House Republicans at the Capitol Hill Club, and then with Republican senators in the afternoon at the National Republican Senatorial Committee headquarters, according to reports.Mike Johnson, the Republican House speaker, and Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, are expected to attend.It will mark the first meeting between the former president and GOP lawmakers since he was found guilty in the hush-money trial.Here’s more on the latest slew of US sanctions against Russia over its military invasion of Russia.The package targets Chinese companies that have helped Russia pursue its war and raised the stakes for foreign financial institutions which work with sanctioned Russian entities.It also targets the Russian financial infrastructure in an attempt to limit the amount of money flowing in and out of the country.The announcement came shortly before Joe Biden arrived in Italy, where he and other G7 leaders are urgently looking at aiding Ukraine.Americans don’t have much faith in America right now. Or at least not in its institutions.In 2022, a Gallup poll found that Americans had experienced “significant declines” in trust in 11 of 16 major US institutions. The supreme court and the presidency saw the largest drops in public confidence – by 11% and 15%, respectively. Trust also fell in the medical system, banks, police, public schools and newspapers.Things didn’t improve in 2023: a follow-up poll found that levels of trust remained low, with none of the scores “worsening or improving meaningfully”.Public confidence waxes and wanes, but these numbers are notably bleak. Trust in institutions has “never been lower”, confirms Jeffrey Jones, a senior editor of the Gallup poll and the author of the 2022 report.This mistrust is not a one-time blip, a rough patch in an otherwise happy relationship between a country and its people. According to polling experts, it is partly the result of a decades-long effort by political leaders to erode public confidence in institutions such as science, media and government. And the consequences are serious. Not trusting the forces that govern their lives is detrimental to the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities, and makes the country less prepared to face a major crisis.“Trust is the grease that oils the gears and makes things work,” says Dr Marc Hetherington, professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Without it, everything is more difficult.”But how did we lose this trust in the first place? And is there a way to get it back?Read the full story: Trust in US institutions has ‘never beenl ower’ – here’s why that mattersThe latest comments by Karine Jean-Pierre mark a shift in position from September, when she was asked if Joe Biden would “pardon or commute his son if he’s convicted.”The White House press secretary said at the time:
    I’ve answered this question before. It was asked of me not too long ago, a couple of weeks ago. And I was very clear, and I said no.
    A pardon is an expression of forgiveness of a criminal offense that restores some rights, such as voting, that a person loses upon conviction, AP reports.A commutation reduces a sentence but leaves the conviction intact.The White House has not ruled out a possible commutation for Hunter Biden after a jury found him guilty on three federal gun crimes.White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, speaking to reporters on Wednesday on Air Force One, said:
    As we all know, the sentencing hasn’t even been scheduled yet.
    She said she had not spoken to Joe Biden about the issue since the verdict was delivered on Tuesday. The president has previously ruled out pardoning his son.“He was very clear, very upfront, obviously very definitive,” Jean-Pierre said of Biden’s remarks about a potential pardon.But on a commutation, “I just don’t have anything beyond that,” she added.Here’s more from House speaker Mike Johnson’s briefing with reporters earlier today.Johnson was asked if he has spoken to Donald Trump about committing to “respecting the American tradition of peaceful transfer” of power and not attempting another January 6-style insurrection. Johnson replied:
    Of course he respects that, and we all do, and we’ve all talked about it ad nauseam.
    Ahead of the Republican-led House’s vote to hold attorney general Merrick Garland in contempt for his decision to withhold audio recordings of Joe Biden’s interviews with special counsel Robert Hur, House speaker Mike Johnson said:
    The contempt of Merrick Garland is a very important principle here … We have to defend the constitution. We have to defend the authority of Congress. We can’t allow the Department of Justice, an executive branch agency, to hide information from Congress …
    And the best evidence as chairman [Jim] Jordan said, was the audio recordings because they provide critical insight in what that transcript itself cannot provide. We have to know if the transcript is accurate … The attorney general doesn’t get to decide whether he hides the tape, and that’s what will be determined here.”
    Although more Americans support than oppose Joe Biden’s latest immigration executive order, public opinion on whether the order was tough on illegal immigration remains mixed, according to a new Monmouth University poll.According to the poll, 40% of Americans are in favor of Biden’s executive order while 27% disapprove – and 33% of Americans have no opinion.The report also found that support is evenly spread across all partisan groups – 44% of Republicans, 40% of Democrats and 38% of independents are in favor. Republicans (29%) and independents (30%) are slightly more likely than Democrats (22%) to oppose this move.The House speaker, Mike Johnson, criticized Joe Biden’s immigration policies, telling reporters on Wednesday:
    The Biden border catastrophe continues in spite of his window dressing of the executive order.
    Johnson was referring to Biden’s latest executive order that limits asylum seekers from crossing the US-Mexico border.He added:
    Nothing’s changed, of course. In fact, many have argued that this increased the incentives for people to try to come and, you know, avail themselves of the welcome mat that the Biden administration has put forward.
    The US has announced a new slew of sanctions on Russia over its military invasion of Ukraine.On Wednesday, the treasury and state departments announced sanctions targeting more than 300 targets including entities in Russia as well as in China, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.In a statement following the sanctions, the US treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, said:
    Today’s actions strike at their remaining avenues for international materials and equipment, including their reliance on critical supplies from third countries …
    We are increasing the risk for financial institutions dealing with Russia’s war economy and eliminating paths for evasion, and diminishing Russia’s ability to benefit from access to foreign technology, equipment, software and IT services.
    Joe Biden has announced the reopening of the port of Baltimore after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed in March, killing six construction workers.In a statement released via the White House, Biden said:
    I made clear that my administration would move heaven and earth to reopen the port of Baltimore – one of our nation’s largest shipping hubs. Today, thanks to the tireless work by the men and women in the Unified Command, the full navigation channel is now open to all vessel traffic, allowing a full return of commerce to the port of Baltimore …
    Our hearts remain with the families of the victims of the bridge collapse, and we will continue to stand with the community throughout this period of recovery.
    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hit back at the supreme court in a recent roundtable discussion in which she accused it of being in a “crisis of legitimacy” following a series of scandals that have surrounded several justices.The Guardian’s Lauren Gambino reports:Speaking during a roundtable discussion on Capitol Hill, the New York Democratic representative accused the court of “delegitimizing itself through its conduct”.“A group of anti-democratic billionaires with their own ideological and economic agenda has been working one of the three co-equal branches of government,” she said.Sustained scrutiny of the justices prompted the court to adopt its first code of ethics last year, but it lacks any form of enforcement. Meanwhile, public confidence in the court has plummeted to near historic lows.In the two years since it overturned Roe v Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion, a decision that sparked fierce political backlash from voters across the ideological spectrum, the court has been rocked by ethics scandals involving two of the bench’s most conservative justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.“The highest court in the land today has the lowest ethical standards,” said Jamie Raskin, a Democratic congressman from Maryland, and the ranking member of the House oversight committee, who joined Ocasio-Cortez in convening the discussion.For the full story, click here:In a press statement released ahead of the Senate vote, Democrats said:
    [The vote follows] a myriad of apparent ethical lapses by supreme court justices, which demonstrates the need for ethics reform.
    Last week, Justice Clarence Thomas belatedly admitted that some luxury vacation trips he took were paid for by Harlan Crow, a conservative billionaire donor.Those vacations included trips to Indonesia and a men’s club in California. Thomas’s admission comes more than a year after ProPublica first reported on the trips.Meanwhile, Justice Samuel Alito’s neutrality as a judge has been questioned in recent days after reports revealed that he said in a secret recording that one side of the US’s right-left divide has to prevail.Alito has also been at the center of several flag controversies, including an incident in which he appeared to fly an American flag upside down outside his home after the January 6 riots in 2021.Republicans in Congress are vowing to block Democrats’ push to enforce a code of ethics in the supreme court after reports of justices, including Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, accepting lavish gifts and travel opportunities.Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator and top Republican on the Senate judiciary committee, told NBC News that he will object to Democrats’ efforts to unanimously pass the bill.Although the chair of the judiciary committee, Senate majority whip Dick Durbin, said that he plans to make a unanimous consent request, the Illinois Democrat did voice doubts over whether the legislation will pass.“I think I know the outcome, but we’re going to go through the exercise to make sure that both parties are in the record,” Durbin said.Meanwhile, Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said at a recent roundtable discussion in Washington DC that the supreme court is in a “crisis of legitimacy” as a result of being “captured and corrupted by money and extremism”.Here are other developments in US politics:
    The Republican-lead House is scheduled to vote on whether to hold the US attorney general, Merrick Garland, in contempt for his decision to withhold audio recordings of Joe Biden’s interviews with special counsel Robert Hur.
    Joe Biden is travelling from Wilmington, Delaware, to Fasano, Italy, for the annual G7 summit.
    Hunter Biden has been found guilty on all three counts in his federal gun trial. More

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    Antony Blinken tells Netanyahu US and allies back Biden ceasefire proposal – as it happened

    The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, met with Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem today, where he reiterated that the US “and other world leaders will stand behind the comprehensive proposal outlined by President Biden” for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and release of hostages.Blinken told Israel’s prime minister that “the proposal on the table would unlock the possibility of calm along Israel’s northern border and further integration with countries in the region,” according to a US state department readout of the meeting.
    The Secretary updated the prime minister on ongoing diplomatic efforts to plan for the post-conflict period, emphasizing the importance of those efforts to providing long-term peace, security and stability to Israelis and Palestinians alike. Secretary Blinken also emphasized the importance of preventing the conflict from spreading.
    Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, arrived in Israel on Monday as part of his eighth visit to the Middle East since the Hamas attacks on 7 October as Washington tries to shore up support for its proposed Gaza ceasefire deal.
    The UN security council approved its first resolution endorsing a Gaza ceasefire plan. The vote on the US-sponsored resolution was 14-0, with Russia abstaining.
    Blinken told Benjamin Netanyahu that the proposal would “unlock the possibility of calm along Israel’s northern border and further integration with countries in the region”, the US state department said.
    Jurors in Hunter Biden’s gun trial began deliberations. The president’s only surviving son faces three federal charges relating to the illegal purchase and ownership of a gun while in the grip of longstanding drug addiction.
    The picture of criminal behavior and a dissolute lifestyle was painted in sometimes painfully frank testimony in a Delaware court room last week and would have been difficult to hear for the family of any defendant.But Hunter Biden, the man in the dock in Wilmington, is no ordinary plaintiff; he is the son of the president of the United States.All week long, the proceedings put the personal conduct of the eldest surviving presidential scion under a microscope.A jury in his hometown heard details of his previous addiction to crack cocaine and how, in 2018 – with his father preparing for a run for the presidency – he bought a handgun by allegedly lying to a registered firearms dealer about his drug use. He then desperately tried to retrieve it from a garbage bin where his then lover, the widow of Joe Biden’s other son, Beau, who died in 2015, had dumped it in panic.Jury deliberations have begun and yet already, the details of a president’s son gone astray should be manna in an election year for Republicans, who focused for years on Hunter Biden’s business interests and alleged wrongdoing in an effort to politically discredit his father.Instead, the trial has presented Republicans with an awkward dilemma.The jury have begun deliberations in Hunter Biden’s federal gun trial in Wilmington, Delaware.Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to three felony charges stemming from the October 2018 purchase of a gun. He is accused of making false statements on a gun-purchase form when he said he was not illegally using or addicted to drugs, and then unlawfully possessing the gun for 11 days.If convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison, though such a sentence would be highly unusual given that he would be a first-time offender. It is unclear whether the presiding judge, Maryellen Noreika, would give him time behind bars.Hunter Biden also faces a separate federal trial in California on charges of failing to pay $1.4m in taxes.The UN security council has voted to pass a US-drafted Gaza ceasefire deal that would lead to the release of all the remaining hostages in return for Israel accepting steps towards a permanent ceasefire and the eventual withdrawal of its forces from Gaza.The resolution passed in the 15-strong council, as China did not block it and Russia abstained. In March, China and Russia vetoed a US resolution urging a ceasefire in Gaza linked to a hostage deal.Washington is struggling to gain the unequivocal backing of Israel or Hamas for a three-stage deal proposed by Joe Biden that would lead to the release of all the remaining hostages, a permanent ceasefire and the eventual withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, is visiting the Middle East this week, his eighth trip to the region since the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel, to make a further push to nail down support for the deal.The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, met with Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem today, where he reiterated that the US “and other world leaders will stand behind the comprehensive proposal outlined by President Biden” for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and release of hostages.Blinken told Israel’s prime minister that “the proposal on the table would unlock the possibility of calm along Israel’s northern border and further integration with countries in the region,” according to a US state department readout of the meeting.
    The Secretary updated the prime minister on ongoing diplomatic efforts to plan for the post-conflict period, emphasizing the importance of those efforts to providing long-term peace, security and stability to Israelis and Palestinians alike. Secretary Blinken also emphasized the importance of preventing the conflict from spreading.
    Closing arguments have begun in Hunter Biden’s gun trial, beginning with the prosecutors.Prosecutor Leo Wise said “no one is above the law” and added the testimonies from Biden’s high-profile family members don’t matter.Biden’s lawyer Abbe Lowell said “it’s time to end this case,” arguing the burden of proof against her client has not been met.The judge in this trial has instructed jurors to only consider whether or not the president’s son was using drugs at the time he filled out the federal forms to purchase his firearm.Jury deliberation will begin after both sides have rested their cases.Biden’s criticism of Trump, who recently became the first former US president to be convicted of felony crimes, has become increasingly sharper.Today the Biden campaign dropped a new campaign ad featuring a Trump gaffe, in which his opponent in the upcoming 2024 presidential election says:“We need every voter. I don’t care about you. I just want your vote. I don’t care.”In a subsequent post to X, Brown thanked Trump for the endorsement and for his “leadership”.“I look forward to working with you to bring a better future to every Nevadan and American when we both win in November!!,” Brown said.Read the full post below:Donald Trump endorsed retired Army captain Sam Brown in the Nevada Senate race in a Truth Social post late Sunday, giving Brown a crucial boost two days before the state primary.Trump, who described Brown as a “FEARLESS AMERICAN PATRIOT”, posted after he spent the day in Las Vegan holding a rally, where several of the GOP Senate candidates were in attendance, AP reported. Trump chose Brown over several other candidates with close ties to the former president, including Jeff Gunter, his former ambassador to Iceland.The winner of Tuesday’s Republican primary will face off with Democratic senator Jacky Rosen in what is likely to be one of the closest Senate races in the country.The Kennedy name looms large over American politics. John F Kennedy, despite serving only two and a half years as president before his assassination, is frequently ranked among the top 10 US leaders; his brother, Robert F Kennedy, seemed set for his own spell in the White House until he too was killed in 1968.Enter: Robert F Kennedy Jr, nephew of the former, son of the latter and increasingly, persona non grata of the surviving Kennedy clan.Part-time environmental lawyer, full-time conspiracy theorist, an animal enthusiast who owned a pet lion at his elite boarding school and who, in his telling, had part of his brain eaten by a worm, Kennedy entered the 2024 presidential race as a Democrat running against Biden, before switching to an independent in October last year. The 70-year-old, who also has a history of associating with white supremacists, is an unknown quantity in the 2024 election race, with both parties worried about the havoc he could wreak.Five months out from perhaps the most consequential election in recent US history, Biden and Trump continue to be unpopular with the American public. Kennedy’s ability to be neither of those men, and his willingness to lean into his family name, have positioned him as a spanner in the works of American democracy.Read the full story hereAs we reported earlier, Donald Trump was scheduled today to make a virtual address to an event by the Danbury Institute, a Christian group that calls for abortion to be “eradicated entirely”.Hours before Trump’s expected address, the former president’s campaign said he will deliver a pre-recorded message in which he does not say the word “abortion” at all, according to a Politico, which has obtained a script of his two-minute speech.According to the script, Trump is expected to say:
    We have to defend religious liberty, free speech, innocent life and the heritage and traditions that built America into the greatest nation in the history of the world. I know that each of you is protecting those values every day – and I hope we’ll be defending them side by side for the next four years.
    Dozens of Donald Trump’s supporters have been requiring medical help at his rallies in the scorching US south-west but it seems lost on him that his plans to reverse climate policies and “drill, baby, drill” for fossil fuels will only worsen extreme weather, campaigners say.A total of 24 people at a Trump rally in Las Vegas on Sunday required medical attention due to the heat, according to the Clark county fire department, with six taken to hospital for treatment. The hospitalizations come after a further 11 people needed to be admitted to hospital for heat exhaustion as they waited for Trump to speak at a rally in Phoenix on Thursday.Trump himself noted the severe heat during his speech on Sunday, with the Las Vegas rally starting around noon when the temperature was about 90F (32C) and climbed to around 102F (38C). The rally was held in a park with little shade, although organizers provided water and cooling tents, and allowed attendees to hold shading umbrellas.“It’s 110, but it doesn’t feel it to me,” said Trump, who wore a suit jacket and signature red baseball cap.
    I’m up here sweating like a dog. They don’t think about me. This is hard work.
    Trump then said:
    I don’t want anybody going on me. We need every voter. I don’t care about you. I just want your vote. I don’t care.
    He later said he was joking about not caring about his own voters and complained the media would criticize him for this.Record-breaking heat enveloped much of the US south-west last week, with temperatures soaring beyond 110F (43C) in areas stretching from California to Arizona. Roughly half of Arizona and Nevada were under an excessive heat alert, even though the official start of summer is still a week away, with Las Vegas hitting 110F on Friday and Phoenix reaching 113F (45C).Antony Blinken’s meetings with Israeli officials on Monday and the US push for a Gaza ceasefire deal comes after Israel’s former army chief of staff, Benny Gantz, resigned from the war cabinet.The resignation by Gantz, leader of the centre-right National Unity party and a major rival to Benjamin Netanyahu, followed through on a threat to resign after he gave Israel’s prime minister an ultimatum of 8 June to present concrete “day after” plans for the Gaza Strip.The withdrawal of his party also means Gadi Eisenkot, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) general and war cabinet observer, and the minister without portfolio, Chili Tropper, are also stepping down.The departure of Gantz leaves Netanyahu with enough seats in his coalition but has made him even more reliant on the support of far-right allies including Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, the national security minister. Smotrich and Ben-Gvir have repeatedly threatened to walk away over any deal for a ceasefire in exchange for hostages.Donald Trump has been compared to Jesus Christ by the far-right Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene at a campaign rally for the former president in Las Vegas, a city more renowned for evoking images of gambling than biblical scenes.Greene, who makes frequent references to her Christian faith, cited Trump’s supposed Christ-like qualities to challenge the Democrats’ efforts to capitalise on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s status as a convicted felon following his recent conviction in a case involving hush money paid to an adult film actor and falsified business records in a New York court.“The Democrats and the fake news media want to constantly talk about ‘President Trump is a convicted felon’,” she told a crowd that waited in soaring early-summer temperatures.
    Well, you want to know something? The man that I worship is also a convicted felon. And he was murdered on a Roman cross.
    It is not the first time Greene has drawn parallels between Trump and Christ – whom Christians consider to be the messiah and son of God – as well as other historical martyr figures.When he was arrested in New York on corruption charges in April last year, she likened Trump to Jesus and Nelson Mandela, who became South Africa’s first post-apartheid president after being jailed for 27 years by the racist regime.A Georgia congressional candidate convicted for participating in the January 6th insurrection walked out of a televised Republican debate on Sunday.Chuck Hand is one of at least four people convicted of January 6 crimes running for Congress this year, according to AP. All are running as Republicans. Hand was sentenced to 20 days in federal prison and six months of probation.Hand is running against Wayne Johnson ahead of a 18 June primary runoff for southwest Georgia’s 2nd congressional district.During the debate, Hand said he was refusing to debate Johnson after Michael Nixon, who finished third in an earlier primary, endorsed Johnson. Nixon brought up a 2005 criminal trespass charge and a 2010 DUI charge against Hand, both of which were dismissed, and also cited federal court documents to argue Hand’s participation in the January 6 riot was more serious than Hand had claimed.Hand, walking out of the studio, said:
    This is where I get back in my truck and go back to southwest Georgia because I’ve got two races to win.
    “You’re not staying?” asked anchor Donna Lowry. “You’re leaving, sir? OK.”The Biden administration is considering entering into a deal with Hamas that does not include Israel, according to a NBC report.Citing two current and two former US officials, the American broadcaster said a deal to free five US hostages would be hammered out through Qatari mediation if current ceasefire talks involving Israel fail.The officials did not know what the US could offer Hamas in return, but argued there was an incentive for Hamas to drive a deeper wedge between Joe Biden and the Israeli leader, Benjamin Netanyahu.Parts of the Biden administration would like to see the Netanyahu coalition government collapse, leading to fresh elections and the formation of an Israeli government more willing to seek an understanding with the Palestinians. They believe the complete obliteration of Hamas militarily is a mirage and say Netanyahu has no realistic plan for Gaza’s future governance.Mitch Landrieu, Joe Biden’s campaign chair, has told MSNBC that it is “astounding” that Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, “first has to go sit down with his probation officer”. More

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    Mayorkas insists immigration order not at odds with Biden’s campaign promise

    The US homeland security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, defended both the timing and substance of Joe Biden’s new executive order to restrict immigration at the southern border, as the president faces criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike over the measure.The order, issued on Tuesday, tells officials to shut down asylum requests once the average number of encounters between legal ports of entry reaches 2,500 or more. If the number of encounters falls to 1,500 or fewer for seven consecutive days, the border would reopen two weeks later.During an interview on ABC News’s This Week, host Martha Raddatz noted that crossings had never reached the threshold of falling to 1,500 or fewer during Biden’s presidency – and Mayorkas declined to say whether he expected it to happen before election day.Mayorkas declined to give a concrete timeline on when to expect border crossings to meet the targeted threshold. Mayorkas was impeached by House Republicans earlier this year over his handling of the border, but the charges were quickly dismissed by the Senate.“We are at a very early stage. Implementation, as you noted, has just begun,” Mayorkas told Raddatz on Sunday. “It’s early, the signs are positive. Our personnel have done an extraordinary job in implementing a very big shift in how we operate on the southern border.”Some Democrats have assailed the order as essentially a revival of the Trump administration’s asylum ban, which was struck down by federal courts. Biden also criticized the measure when he was a candidate for president.Mayorkas insisted on Sunday that the executive order was not at odds with Biden’s campaign promise.“What the president said then is what we are living today,” he said. “We are allowing individuals to access asylum through the ports of entry, pursuant to a program that we developed. We are allowing people to access asylum if they come from the countries of Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela.”Republicans have dismissed the policy as insufficient and an election-year stunt. “This is like turning a garden hose on a five-alarm fire. And the American people are not fools. They know that this play is too little, too late,” Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the US Senate, said last week. But the Republican criticism comes after Republican senators twice blocked a sweeping bipartisan border security bill. Trump, who is the presumptive Republican nominee in November’s presidential election, had lobbied against the measure.Mayorkas defended the timing of the executive order, which came four months after the border bill first failed. He said the administration would have preferred for Congress to act.“The bipartisan deal was rejected once. We pressed forward again. It was rejected a second time. And then we developed this and have implemented it and we are at an early stage,” he said. “And let’s not minimize the significance of this move and the significance of operationalizing it. And it requires the cooperation of other countries which we have secured.” More

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    Businessman testifies he promised Bob Menendez up to $250,000 in bribes

    A New Jersey businessman took his star turn on the witness stand on Friday in the bribery case against US senator Bob Menendez, telling a jury he believed he had a $200,000-$250,000 deal in 2018 for the Democrat to pressure the state attorney general’s office to stop investigating his friends and family.Jose Uribe testified in Manhattan federal court in the afternoon, providing key testimony against Menendez and two other businessmen charged in a conspiracy along with Menendez’s wife. Next week, Menendez’s lawyers will get to cross-examine the naturalized US citizen.“Next week we get the truth,” Menendez said just before stepping into a car that carried him away from Manhattan federal court, where he has been on trial for the last month.Uribe, 57, who pleaded guilty to charges in a March cooperation deal, was the star witness for the government in its bid to win a conviction against the senator, who once held the powerful post as chair of the Senate foreign relations committee. He was forced out of the position after he was criminally charged last fall.Menendez, 70, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he accepted gold bars, cash and a luxury car in return for doing favors for the businessmen. Two businessmen and Menendez’s wife, Nadine Menendez, also have pleaded not guilty. Nadine Menendez’s trial has been postponed until at least July after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.Uribe testified that he had been close friends with Wael Hana, who is on trial with Menendez, when Hana told him in early 2018 that New Jersey state criminal investigations swirling around the trucking business of a friend of his and Uribe’s own insurance business could be largely put to rest if he was willing to spend $200,000 to $250,000.Uribe said Hana told him that he would go to Nadine Arslanian (her name before she married the senator), who had begun dating Menendez that year, and then “Nadine would go to Senator Menendez”, although Uribe did not testify about how the couple could resolve multiple investigations.Uribe said he held a 13 July 2018 political fundraiser for Menendez, which the senator attended, raising $50,000. He said he attended an afterparty with Menendez and Arslanian that included cocktails, along with “some laughs, some jokes and some dancing”, but there was no mention of the work he expected Menendez to do on his behalf.View image in fullscreen“It was a crowded and loud place,” Uribe said.He said his confidence that the deal was working faded in the fall when an investigator from the attorney general’s office asked to interview his employee.“I was not happy,” he said.Assistant US attorney Lara Pomerantz showed jurors a series of text messages between Uribe and Hana in which Uribe pressed his friend to get the senator to stop the criminal investigations.“Please be sure that your friend knows about this,” Uribe wrote to Hana in one text.Pomerantz asked whom he was referring to as “your friend”.“Senator Menendez,” Uribe responded. Hana, according to the texts, responded: “I will.”Hana arranged for Uribe to have dinner with Menendez and Arslanian at a restaurant in October 2018, but Uribe testified there was no mention of the deal.“Nothing was discussed there of value, I will say,” Uribe testified. “It was a … pointless meeting.”Uribe said he began communicating directly with Nadine Arslanian in March 2019 and promised that he would buy her a car if she delivered on the deal to get the senator to shut down New Jersey criminal investigations.“She agreed to the terms,” he said.When the prosecutor asked Uribe what he understood the terms of the deal to mean, he said he understood that Nadine Arslanian would contact Menendez and get him to use his “influence and power to do anything possible to stop and kill” the investigations.On Thursday, former New Jersey attorney general Gurbir Grewal testified that Menendez in an early 2019 telephone call and in a September 2019 office meeting tried to talk to him about a criminal investigation. Grewal said he followed his policy and refused to do so, telling Menendez to contact defense lawyers so they could reach out to trial-level prosecutors or the judge.Uribe, of Clifton, New Jersey, pleaded guilty in March, saying during his plea that he gave Nadine Menendez a Mercedes-Benz in return for her husband “using his power and influence as a United States senator to get a favorable outcome and to stop all investigations related to one of my associates”.Uribe was accused of buying the luxury car for Nadine Menendez after her previous car had been destroyed when she struck and killed a man crossing the street. She did not face criminal charges in connection with that crash. More