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RNC Washington headquarters evacuated, locked down after blood vials addressed to Donald Trump are found

The Republican National Committee’s Washington headquarters was briefly evacuated and locked down on Wednesday as police investigated a package containing two vials of blood that had been delivered and addressed to former President Donald Trump.

A hazardous materials unit with the U.S. Capitol Police traveled to the site after a suspicious package was found; police say the package contained two vials of blood, with sources telling CNN that it also contained two ice packs and a Korean Bible. According to Fox 5 DC, officials believe the ice packs inside the package were leaking. It was unclear if anyone came into contact with the blood and to whom it belonged, but police said that no injuries were reported in connection with the incident. It remains under further investigation.

U.S. Capitol Police spokesperson Brianna Burch said the suspicious package was cleared Wednesday morning just before 10 a.m.  Capitol Police also said on X, “This morning, we responded to the 300 block of First Street, SE, for the report of a suspicious package. The package was cleared by our Hazardous Incident Response Division. It contained two vials of blood. The source of the package & its contents will be further investigated.”

The RNC confirmed the lockdown was cleared and staff had resumed normal duties. RNC Chairman Michael Whatley said in a statement, “Today, vials of blood were sent to RNC Headquarters in DC. We are thankful to law enforcement, who responded quickly and ensured everyone’s safety.” 

Wednesday’s situation comes less than two months from the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where Trump is slated to become the party’s official 2024 nominee. Trump’s handpicked leadership recently took over the RNC; which includes his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump as the party’s national vice chair, and former North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley as RNC chairman. Trump campaign senior adviser, Chris LaCivita, has taken over as the RNC chief of staff.

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Former employee arrested in shooting at company that killed 2, injured 3 in Chester, PA

Authorities in Pennsylvania said that a disgruntled employee opened fire at a linen company near Philadelphia on Wednesday, killing two coworkers and injuring three others.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said that the shooting took place at about 8:30 a.m, when the suspect, an employee at Delaware County Lenin in Chester, PA (about 18 miles south of Philadelphia) allegedly walked into the facility with a handgun and opened fire without warning. Police said the suspect left the building after the shooting but authorities stopped a vehicle that matched its description in Trainer, Pa., near the facility later that morning. The suspect, who has not been publicly named, was taken into custody.

DA Stollsteimer said the workers had shortly arrived to work when the shooting happened, and that two of the workers died at the scene of the shooting that happened outside of the building, as well as inside. Stollsteimer said: “This is a story that plays out too often across the United States of America. [The shooting is] an absolute tragedy.” Stollsteimer said according to its initial investigation, no one could point to an immediate motive for the shooting or anticipated the possibility of the incident.

Chester Mayor Stefan Roots said: “It speaks to guns in America. Violence is always unpredictable. We don’t know what conditions people are under, in a city that’s impoverished like ours … We can’t have guns in the hands of the wrong people. There had to be some type of mental health issue that would have an employee walk into his workplace on a day of work and take out his anger in such a violent way — to not just the boss, but his coworkers, who he probably worked side-by-side with for years.”

Chester Police Commissioner Steven Gretsky said during a news conference that one of three people hospitalized in the shooting was listed in critical condition.

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Rudy Giuliani and other Trump allies plead ‘not guilty’ to felony charges in Arizona election interference case

Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani was among the 11 allies of former President Trump who pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in Arizona to nine felony charges related to their involvement in a plan to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state. The 11 people arraigned Tuesday were among 18 people charged last month by a state grand jury over the plan. They include Giuliani and so-called “fake electors” who signed documents claiming to be Arizona’s Electoral College electors.

The ten others, who also pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, forgery and fraud charges related to the case, include former Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward and her husband Michael Ward; state legislator Anthony Kern; Robert Montgomery, the former head of the Cochise County GOP; Republican Party activists Samuel Moorhead, Nancy Cottle and Loraine Pellegrino; Greg Safsten, the former Arizona GOP executive director; former Trump attorney Christina Bobb; and Tyler Bowyer, the Republican National Committee’s Arizona committeeman and the chief operating officer of the Trump-aligned Turning Point Action.

Giuliani, Bowyer, Cottle, Montgomery, Pellegrino and Bobb appeared virtually for the arraignment that was held in a Phoenix courtroom. Giuliani and Kelli Ward’s trials are scheduled for Oct. 17, about 3 weeks before the U.S. election. Giuliani said during his remote appearance that he did not have an attorney at this time, but when asked by the court whether he needed counsel appointed for the arraignment, he said: “No, no, I think I am capable of handling it myself.” Arizona authorities had tried unsuccessfully over several weeks to serve Giuliani notice of the indictment against him, but he was finally served as he was walking to a car after his 80th birthday celebration in Palm Beach, Florida last Friday.

Several of those charged in the Arizona case have also been arraigned on similar charges in Georgia, where prosecutors also allege that Trump allies tried to overturn the election there.

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Elvis Presley’s granddaughter Riley Keough files lawsuit to protect Graceland after it is sent to foreclosure

Elvis Presley’s granddaughter, actress Riley Keough, is fighting the court-approved sale of Graceland, the late singer’s compound in Memphis, Tennessee.

Keough, identified in the court filing as Danielle Riley Keough, filed a claim in Tennessee civil court that alleges the creditor behind the foreclosure claim used forged signatures. According to an apparent foreclosure notice, Graceland had been set to be auctioned off at the Shelby County courthouse in Memphis, Tennessee, on Thursday this week, however court documents show that a Memphis judge blocked the sale after Keough sought a temporary restraining order and filed a lawsuit.

The foreclosure allegedly occurred after Elvis’ daughter, the late Lisa Marie Presley, used Graceland as collateral to secure a $3.8 million loan from a company called Naussany Investments and Private Lending in 2018, but she failed to pay it off before she died last year.  Keough was granted virtual control of Graceland Mansion and much of Elvis’ estate after her mother, Lisa Marie Presley, died.  She alleges in the suit that the creditor’s paperwork on a $3.8 million loan to Graceland trustees, with a deed of trust on the compound pledged as collateral, is fraudulent. Keough claims in the lawsuit that Naussany Investments “appears to be a false entity created for the purpose” of defrauding her family. The lawsuit also says Keough’s mother “never borrowed money” from the company, or gave them a deed of trust to Graceland, and further alleges that documents claiming otherwise “are forgeries.” The suit alleges the foreclosure sale would thus be “non-judicial” and based on lien paperwork that violates Tennessee law.

In a statement, Elvis Presley Enterprises, the entity that runs Graceland and the assets of the Elvis Presley Trust, suggested the sale is a scheme: “Elvis Presley Enterprises can confirm that these claims are fraudulent. There is no foreclosure sale. Simply put, the counter lawsuit has been filed is to stop the fraud.”  According to CBS affiliate in Memphis WREG, an attorney for Keough says a temporary restraining order was granted Monday. A judge will consider Keough’s court filing in a hearing on Wednesday.

Built in 1939, Graceland Mansion was purchased by Elvis in 1957, where he lived until his death in 1977.  Five years later it was opened to the public as a music history theme park, where it currently attracts roughly 600,000 visitors a year, according to the venue.  Graceland was named to the American National Register of Historic Places in 1991; it is also the final resting place for Elvis and his daughter, Lisa Marie.

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Ex-Trump attorney Michael Cohen testifies he stole from Trump Org. at hush-money trial

The prosecution rested its case on Monday in former President Donald Trump ‘hush money’ trial in New York City, where he is facing felony charges related to a 2016 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. The case marks the first time in history that a former U.S. president has been tried on criminal charges.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to a 34-count indictment charging him with falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment his then-attorney Michael Cohen made to Daniels in order to boost his electoral prospects in the 2016 presidential election. Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, resumed testimony under cross-examination at the trial, stating that he stole from the Trump Organization by pocketing money that should have gone to a tech company.

Cohen admitted to stealing about $30,000 from the Trump Organization during his testimony, adding that he hired a tech firm RedFinch in 2014 and 2015 for $50,000. The firm was hired to rig online polls in favor of the former president. Cohen paid them about $20,000 cash, saying he could not remember the exact amount exchanged in a brown paper bag. Despite invoicing the Trump Organization for $50,000, Cohen never paid back the remainder of the balance to RedFinch, and added that he never had to plead guilty to larceny related to the funds and never had to pay back the Trump Organization.

Closing arguments in the case were set for May 28, and it remains unclear whether Trump will take the witness stand in the Manhattan courtroom.

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President Biden calls ICC’s arrest warrants for Israeli PM Netanyahu, other leaders ‘outrageous’

President Joe Biden slammed the International Criminal Court’s announcement Monday that it is seeking to arrest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders and charge them with war crimes and crimes against humanity, calling the move “outrageous”. The ICC announcement said that it intends to hold Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders responsible along with Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and other Hamas leaders for the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas and the subsequent invasion of Gaza by Israeli forces.

Biden said in a statement: “And let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence – none – between Israel and Hamas. We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken also criticized the move, saying that it could jeopardize negotiations to achieve a hostage deal and a ceasefire and adding that it raises questions over the court’s jurisdiction as well as its process in making this application. Said Blinken: “It is shameful. Hamas is a brutal terrorist organization that carried out the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust and it still holding dozens of people hostage, including Americans.”

The reaction from the White House came several hours after ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan said in a statement that he was “filing applications for the warrants of arrests ” for Netanyahu, Sinwar and other senior Israeli and Hamas figures who have played key roles in the ongoing war in Gaza, with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also facing potential arrest.  Khan said that both Netanyahu and Gallant bear criminal responsibility for a list of “war crimes,” including the starvation of civilians, willfully “causing great suffering, or serious injury,’ willful killing, and intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population.  Khan wrote in the ICC statement: “We submit that the crimes against humanity charged were committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the Palestinian civilian population pursuant to State policy …These crimes, in our assessment, continue to this day.”

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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is killed in helicopter crash

Iranian state media reported that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was killed after a helicopter carrying him suffered a crash landing on Sunday as it traveled through rainy and foggy conditions in the rural mountainous area near ​​Kalibar and Warzghan in northern Iran, near the borders with Azerbaijan and Armenia. The officials were returning from the border with the country of Azerbaijan — in the northwest of Iran, some 375 miles from the capital of Tehran — where Raisi was inaugurating a dam on the Aras river with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.  Raisi’s administration began an emergency meeting on Monday following the news of his death.

Iranian media reported that the 63-year-old Raisi was traveling with Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, East Azerbaijan’s governor, Malik Rahmati, and Raisi’s security detail when their helicopter made a “hard landing.”  All seven onboard were killed in the crash.

On Sunday afternoon, Iran’s Vice President Mohsen Mansouri reported that two people from the helicopter flight had made contact with the rescue team, with the commander of the East Azerbaijan Army saying that a signal from the helicopter and a cellphone belonging to one of the crew members at the accident site was received.

Red Crescent Relief and Rescue Organization crews were sent to the scene to locate the helicopter; they confirmed earlier Monday it had located the missing helicopter carrying Raisi, with the head of Iran’s Red Crescent, Hossein Kolivand, telling state media there was “no sign of life.”

Raisi was the elected president and led the government, however, he still answered to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is the head of state. Khamenei had said that there would be no disruption to state affairs. Under Iranian law, First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber will assume power after getting the nod from Khamenei. A presidential election must then be called within 50 days.

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Child among 3 killed after Amtrak train hits pickup truck in upstate New York

A child was among three people killed after an Amtrak train struck a vehicle in Upstate New York near Buffalo. The North Tonawanda Police said on Facebook that the three deceased were in a Dodge pickup truck around 7:56 p.m. on Friday when it collided with the train, which was on its way from New York City to Niagara Falls when the accident happened.

Per ABC News, North Tonawanda Police Department Captain Daryl Truty said in a statement posted that the victims included a 6-year-old boy, a 66-year-old woman, and a 69-year-old man. The names of the victims had not been released as of Sunday morning.

Amtrak spokesperson Olivia Irvin said in a statement that none of the Amtrak crew or its 21 passengers were injured in the crash. The North Tonawanda firefighter’s union said in a statement that he pickup was severely damaged with heavy equipment was required to reach the victims, adding that all three victims died at the scene. Photos shared on Facebook by the North Tonawanda Fire Department appeared to show no visible damage to the Amtrak train. An investigation is ongoing and police did not detail how the crash happened.

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Dow Jones Industrial Average passes 40,000 for the first time ever

The Dow Jones Industrial index exceeded 40,000 for the first time Thursday, extending a strong year of stock market gains. The Dow hit 40,000.54 before dropping back, but it was the first time it had crossed that threshold; The Dow is now up about 6% so far this year. Markets were bolstered by gains from staple retailers like Walmart (WMT) which beat earnings expectations on Thursday morning and rose nearly 6%. Airlines, utilities and Big Tech stocks were largely higher.

Per CNN, markets rallied to new record highs after the latest Consumer Price Index showed a cooldown for the first time in months, increasing hopes that the Federal Reserve could start cutting interest rates as soon as September. The Labor Department reported the consumer price index inflation rate was a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in April maintaining the annual inflation rate at 3.4%.

In response to the news, President Joe Biden shared on X: “This is great news for Americans’ retirement accounts and another sign of confidence in America’s economy. I’m building an economy from the middle out and bottom up — and our investments are making a difference.”

The S&P 500 crossed 5,000 for the first time in February, largely driven by the performance of seven big companies called the “Magnificent Seven” — Nvidia, Microsoft, Meta, Amazon, Apple, Alphabet and Tesla. The Dow, Nasdaq and S&P have all posted strong year-to-year increases with the Dow up 6% in 2024. The S&P and Nasdaq have increased 11% this year.

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Sen. Bob Menendez reveals wife Nadine has breast cancer and will undergo mastectomy

Embattled New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez revealed on Thursday that his wife Nadine Menendez has breast cancer. Senator and Mrs. Menendez are charged separately in a case alleging the senator abused his position to act as a foreign agent for Egypt and Qatar and accepted bribes from several New Jersey businessmen. Senator Menendez, 70, went on trial this week; the couple have both pleaded not guilty.

Nadine Menendez’s trial had been delayed until July due to previously undisclosed health reasons. Sen. Menendez shared that Nadine, 57, is battling Grade 3 breast cancer and will also have to undergo a mastectomy. The senator said in a statement: “As a result of constant press inquiries and reporters following my wife, she has asked me to disclose her medical condition. We are of course, concerned about the seriousness and advanced stage of the disease .. We hope and pray for the best results. We ask the press and the public to give her the time, space and privacy to deal with this challenging health condition as she undergoes surgery and recovery.” Menendez added that his wife will require “follow-up surgery and possibly radiation treatment,” but did not include additional details.

A federal grand jury in New York indicted Menendez in September 2023, accusing him and his wife of having a corrupt relationship with three New Jersey businessmen. The New Jersey Democratic senator is accused of accepting cash, gold bars, luxury wristwatches and other perks from New Jersey businessmen in exchange for official favors to benefit the businessmen and the governments of Egypt and Qatar.

Senator Menendez’s attorney, Avi Weitzman, tried to distance Menendez from his wife earlier this week by arguing the two lived mostly “separate lives” and had “separate finances.” Nadine Menendez is awaiting a July 8 federal trial, and her attorneys stated that she “denies any wrongdoing and will vigorously defend against these allegations in court.”

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