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Ex-Police Officer Gets 7 Years in Prison for Role in Jan. 6 Attack

A federal judge sentenced a former police officer on Thursday to more than seven years in prison for his role in the Jan. 6 attack, equaling the longest punishment handed down so far in the Justice Department’s sprawling investigation into the Capitol riot.

The man, Thomas Robertson of Ferrum, Va., was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, by Judge Christopher Cooper of US District Court in Washington.

A federal jury found Mr. Robertson, 49, guilty in April of five felonies, including obstruction of an official proceeding, civil disorder, and carrying a weapon in a restricted building, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Prosecutors said the Army veteran, who had wielded a large stick and donned a gas mask during the riot, had confronted police officers who were trying to stop the increasingly violent crowd.

“Thomas Robertson, despite swearing an oath of office when he became a police officer, joined the violent mob at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and did so while armed,” Matthew M. Graves, the US attorney, said in a statement.

The punishment came 10 days after another federal judge sentenced Guy Wesley Reffitt, the first defendant to go on trial in the attack on the Capitol, to seven years and three months in prison. That judge, Dabney L. Friedrich, said the sentence was significantly longer than any handed down so far to the more than 800 people arrested in connection with the riot.

Mark Rollins, a lawyer for Mr. Robertson, said on Thursday that he planned to appeal his client’s conviction.

In a handwritten letter to Judge Cooper filed on July 28, Mr. Robertson, a former member of the Rocky Mount Police Department in Virginia, said that he had been “exposed to lots of pro Trump and anti Biden media” shortly before the riot because he had been taking care of an ill friend who was an enthusiastic supporter of the former president.

“I’ve never been a huge Trump supporter, and in fact totally agreed with VP Pence that he had no Constitutional authority to delay the vote tally,” Mr. Robertson wrote. “My arrival at the Capitol after the rally was as much a function of crowd following as anything, and nobody was more surprised than me that I was able to walk unimpeded directly to the Capitol.”

Prosecutors, however, painted a different picture. In court documents, they said that Mr. Robertson believed the presidential election had been fraudulent and became determined to overturn the results. On Jan. 6, they said, Mr. Robertson and another police officer drove to Washington, attended the “Stop the Steal” rally on the National Mall and then donned gas masks at the Capitol.

Mr. Robertson, who was trained in using a police baton, brandished a large wooden stick in a tactical position and blocked the path of officers who tried to stop the violent advance. Mr. Robertson met up with the other officer, Jacob Fracker, 30, inside the Capitol, and they took a selfie of themselves making an obscene gesture, prosecutors said.

Mr. Fracker, who was also a member of the Rocky Mount Police Department, pleaded guilty in March 2021 to a federal conspiracy charge, prosecutors said, and was a witness for the prosecution at Mr. Robertson’s trial. Mr. Fracker’s sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday.

In the days after the attack, Mr. Robertson bragged on social media about his actions, prosecutors said. He said he was proud of a picture he had snapped of himself at the Capitol.

“It shows 2 men willing to actually put skin in the game and stand up for their rights,” Mr. Robertson wrote on Facebook, according to prosecutors. “If you are too much of a coward to risk arrest, being fired, and actual gunfire to secure your rights, you have no words to speak I value.”


China rescinds pledge to not send troops to Taiwan in event of Chinese control

A recently released official document revealed that the Chinese government is no longer honoring its pledge not to send troops or administrators to Taiwan.

China expressed its position in an updated white paper called “The Taiwan Question and China’s Reunification in the New Era,” which highlights President Xi Jinping’s stance to grant even less autonomy to Taiwan in the event of Chinese control over the island.

The updated white paper has omitted the line that assures Taiwan’s autonomy in the two previous papers published in 1993 and 2000. In both versions, Beijing promised that it “will not send troops or administrative personnel to be based in Taiwan” after achieving what it then claimed as “reunification.”

Instead, the paper now proposes that the nation return to China’s rule under a “one country, two systems” model, the same system that Hong Kong was placed under after the British returned it to Chinese rule in 1997.

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While the “one country, two systems” model intends to grant some autonomy to Taiwan, the major political parties in the nation have mostly rejected it. Based on opinion polls, it also has not gained any public support.

Also removed in China’s latest position paper is a line present in the 2000 version that “anything can be negotiated” as long as Taiwan adheres to the “only one China” motto and does not seek independence.

The updated paper comes after China announced that its military has “completed various tasks” around Taiwan but expressed that it will continue to conduct regular patrols in the area.

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Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council has denounced the paper and accused it of being “full of lies of wishful thinking and disregarded the facts.”

“Only Taiwan’s 23 million people have the right to decide on the future of Taiwan, and they will never accept an outcome set by an autocratic regime,” the council said.

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‘No more car for me’: will a $23 toll finally rid Manhattan of gridlock? | New York

Could a moonshot policy finally rid the nation’s most congested city of its incessant, noisy, polluting traffic? Soon, over a million drivers a day could be forced to cough up as much as $23 to enter midtown and lower Manhattan – a toll that planners say will raise $15bn to fund New York public transit while cutting vehicles in the area by as much as one-fifth.

Among the cars that would be leaving the streets of Manhattan is a white Honda Accord that was parked on East Broadway in the Lower East Side on Wednesday.

“If they add even more fees, then that’s it,” said Felicita Mercado as she stepped into the vehicle. “No more car for me.”

Instead, the 77-year-old lifelong New Yorker said, she will start taking the bus.

The plan is called congestion pricing, and New York City is poised to become the first city in the United States to implement it. Similar policies have long been in place in cities including Singapore, which has had congestion pricing since 1975, and London, where a congestion charge has been in place since 2003. But in New York, a city synonymous with gridlock, the policy struggled to overcome opposition for decades before it was finally signed into law in 2019.

On Wednesday, transportation authorities released a much-awaited environmental assessment for the policy, an important milestone that explains how the plan will affect the city. “Bottom line: congestion pricing is good for the environment, good for public transit and good for New York and the region,” said the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) chair and CEO, Janno Lieber, in a statement.

Public transportation advocates are calling it a long-awaited victory. “This is a massive deal for all New Yorkers,” said Danny Harris, the head of Transportation Alternatives, a nonprofit that has fought for the policy. “There’s not a corner of the city that isn’t negatively impacted by our car-first policies. This is a big step for not being so car-centric that reduces the number of people who drive and increases the amount of people who take other sustainable modes to get around.”

people walk through station as train is at platform
New York’s Penn Station subway stop in April. Photograph: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

Manhattan is an island connected to its neighbors by a network of bridges, tunnels, train routes and ferries. An estimated 7.7 million people enter Manhattan’s central business district every weekday – twice the population of Los Angeles, according to the report. Of those people, just under a quarter – or 1.85 million – enter in a motor vehicle. All that traffic has slowed travel speeds to an agonizing crawl: from an average of 9.1 mph in 2010 to just 7.1 mph in 2019. That costs the average New York City driver 102 hours of lost time every year.

Meanwhile, the public trains and buses used by the majority of commuters are in dire need of upgrades. Many of the MTA’s railroads and subway tracks are more than a century old and require billions of dollars in repairs. Studies have found that most of the city’s bus routes – which are especially important for the city’s lower-income residents – are excruciatingly slow and unreliable. And ridership numbers have worsened dramatically since the pandemic, amid fears of Covid and crime.

That dynamic has produced enthusiasm for congestion pricing among residents of lower Manhattan.

“There’s too many people driving in for no good reason,” said one Chinatown bike shop owner, who declined to be named. “They’re not coming in for work, they’re not coming in to do anything specific – they’re just driving because they’re lazy or they’re afraid of the subway. It just sucks that people are driving behaviors that are unnecessary and also destroying our infrastructure, which is causing cascades of other problems in the city.”

“I fully-throatedly support strong congestion pricing on private cars,” said Ben Eckersley, a 31-year-old lifelong Manhattan resident who lives on the Lower East Side. “We have a public transit system that is only designed to get in and out of Manhattan from every borough. The fact that people use lower Manhattan as a pass-through location to get to New Jersey is bogus. The local pollution problems it causes, the traffic problems it causes, are outrageous. We just don’t have the infrastructure for it.”

The new study offers policymakers a number of tolling scenarios, with peak-hour tolls ranging from $9 to $23 per vehicle. In some scenarios, vehicles such as taxis and transit buses and would be exempt from the toll completely, while some other vehicles would be charged the toll a maximum of once a day. In another scenario, vehicles including taxis, rideshare vehicles, trucks and buses could be hit with the congestion charge every time they enter or re-enter the zone in a given day.

Residents of the congestion area making less than $60,000 a year will be eligible for a tax credit to make up for the cost of the tolls, and emergency vehicles and vehicles carrying people with disabilities will be exempt from the tolls, according to the 2019 law.

people walk on london street near double decker bus
A congestion charge sign is displayed in London in October, shortly before the city expanded its ultra-low-emission zone. Photograph: Hollie Adams/Getty Images

The reward to all residents of the area should be noticeably less traffic and cleaner air. The study projects that the number of vehicles in the area each day will decrease between 15.4 to 19.9%. Harmful airborne PM2.5 and PM10 particles, which have been shown to cause cancer, would be reduced by more than 11%.

New York’s policy does not go as far as London’s, where drivers who enter a designated “ultra low emissions zone” must pay a fee if their car doesn’t meet fuel efficiency standards. As of last year, that zone covers most of the British capital.

Harris, the public transportation advocate, praised New York’s toll as a first step toward recognizing driving’s true impact on society.

“The truth is, people have never had to pay the actual cost of driving because it’s been so incredibly subsidized,” he said, citing policies like the city’s millions of free street parking spots.

But the toll’s success also depends on whether the city can fast-track infrastructure for alternatives to driving, such as bikeshare docks, protected bike lanes and bus-only lanes, before the toll is formally implemented, he said. Congestion pricing shouldn’t be about “taking cars away from people”, he said, but about “providing options for you to get around.

“If you live in a community where you’re forced into a car, forced into car payments, and forced into wasting much of your life in traffic, it means your city and the car industry have continued to fail you. This is about giving people freedom from that.”


Why Obama Was Allowed to Take White House Records but Not Trump

  • Donald Trump invoked Barack Obama while bashing the FBI raid on his Mar-a-Lago home on Monday.
  • Trump and Fox News delivered the whataboutism defense of Obama transferring records to Chicago after his term.
  • But Obama was able to do so because it was processed through the National Archives, which owns the records.

Former President Donald Trump is no longer satisfied with solely talking about Hillary Clinton’s emails when it comes to deflecting potential allegations he mishandled classified documents.

Now, the former president and his allies are clinging to completely unrelated claims about former President Barack Obama.

Earlier this week, the FBI executed an unprecedented search warrant on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida. It’s unclear what the FBI was looking for, but several reports linked the search warrant to the National Archives’ request early this year for the Justice Department to investigate whether Trump broke the law when he took classified government records with him to Mar-a-Lago .

In the days following the raid, Trump and his allies on Fox News delivered the whataboutism defense of Obama transferring records from the White House to Chicago for his presidential library.

“What happened to the 30 million pages of documents taken from the White House to Chicago by Barack Hussein Obama? He refused to give them back!” Trump wrote in a thursday post on Truth Social. “What is going on? This act was strongly at odds with NARA. Will they be breaking into Obama’s ‘mansion’ in Martha’s Vineyard?”

The former president and his son Donald Trump Jr. cited an opinion piece published by The New York Post in support of their baseless accusations.

But the facts don’t quite align with Trump’s statements

Tens of thousands of Obama’s documents were transported to Chicago. But these items were shipped to a federal government facility – exactly the thing that is supposed to happen with a president’s records. Federal law requires that presidents and their administrations keep a detailed collection of emails, documents, and even gifts from their time in office since all of those things are actually the property of the American people.

In Obama’s case, the National Archives took legal ownership of Obama’s documents and then began the long process of sorting through the material before the public could request it years later. Some of this material was then turned over to Obama’s presidential library, which, again, is the process that is supposed to happen.

Apart from the long processes, Obama’s presidential library will break from the precedent in that the Obama Foundation will pay for the unclassified records to be digitized in a bid to democratize access to the documents, in what is billed to be the “first digital archives for the first digital president,” according to The New York Times.

Trump and Trump Jr. also drew on a line from The New York Post column noting that, to date, the records transferred to Obama’s presidential library have yet to digitize the materials and make them available to the public — five years since the end of his term and when the record transfer began.

Though the delay has sparked some ire from historians and critics, the process of transferring the records themselves often take years, not to mention the task of digitizing roughly 30 million documents to be made available online.

Trump’s lawyer, on the other hand, said the feds took at least a dozen boxes containing sensitive — and some “top secret” — material from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago home, according to The Washington Post. The FBI’s search warrant was aimed at seeing if Trump had taken documents home with him that should have been turned over at the end of his term, per reports.

Though Trump world can draw similarities between Trump and Obama both taking records from the White House, the significant difference in how they took the documents explains why the former remains under scrutiny by the FBI and the latter is still in the process of setting up a library Unbothered by federal law enforcement.


FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago related to nuclear documents, sources say

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Classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items FBI agents sought in a search of former president Donald Trump’s Florida residence on Monday, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Experts in classified information said the unusual search underscores deep concern among government officials about the types of information they thought could be located at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club and potentially in danger of falling into the wrong hands.

The people who described some of the material that agents were seeking spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. They did not offer additional details about what type of information the agents were seeking, including whether it involved weapons belonging to the United States or some other nation. Nor did they say if such documents were recovered as part of the search. A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Justice Department and FBI declined to comment.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said he could not discuss the investigation on Thursday. But in an unusual public statement at the Justice Department, he announced he had personally authorized the decision to seek court permission for a search warrant.

Garland spoke moments after Justice Department lawyers filed a motion seeking to unseal the search warrant in the case, noting that Trump had publicly revealed the search shortly after it happened.

“The public’s clear and powerful interest in understanding what occurred under these circumstances weighs heavily in favor of unsealing,” the motion says. “That said, the former President should have an opportunity to respond to this Motion and lodge objections, including with regards to any ‘legitimate privacy interests’ or the potential for other ‘injury’ if these materials are made public.”

Analysis: Garland seeks to call Trump’s bluff

Material about nuclear weapons is especially sensitive and usually restricted to a small number of government officials, experts said. Publicizing details about US weapons could provide an intelligence road map to adversaries seeking to build ways of countering those systems. And other countries might view exposing their nuclear secrets as a threat, experts said.

One former Justice Department official, who in the past oversaw investigations of leaks of classified information, said the type of top-secret information described by the people familiar with the probe would probably cause authorities to try to move as quickly as possible to recover sensitive documents that could cause serious harm to US security.

“If that is true, it would suggest that material residing unlawfully at Mar-a-Lago may have been classified at the highest classification level,” said David Laufman, the former chief of the Justice Department’s counterintelligence section, which investigates leaks of classified information . “If the FBI and the Department of Justice believed there were top secret materials still at Mar-a-Lago, that would lend itself to greater ‘hair-on-fire’ motivation to recover that material as quickly as possible.”

The Monday search of Trump’s home by FBI agents has caused a political furor, with Trump and many of his Republican defenders accusing the FBI of acting out of politically motivated malice. Some have threatened the agency on social media.

As Garland spoke Thursday, police in Ohio were engaged in a standoff with an armed man who allegedly tried to storm the Cincinnati office of the FBI. The man was killed by police later that day; authorities said negotiations had failed.

Trump property search bring simmering threat of violence to the fore

State and federal officials declined to name the man or describe a potential motive. However, a law enforcement official identified him as Ricky Shiffer.

According to another law enforcement official, agents are investigating Shiffer’s possible ties to extremist groups, including the Proud Boys, whose leaders are accused of helping launch the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

A person using Shiffer’s name on TruthSocial, Trump’s social media site, posted a “call to arms” message shortly after Monday’s FBI search became public.

“People, this is it,” the message reads. “Leave work tomorrow as soon as the gun shop/Army-Navy store/pawn shop opens, get whatever you need to be ready for combat. We must not tolerate this one. They have been conditioning us to accept tyranny and think we can’t do anything for 2 years. This time we must respond with force.”

The Washington Post could not confirm whether the account actually belonged to Shiffer.

In his statement on Thursday, Garland defended FBI agents as “dedicated, patriotic public servants” and said he would not “stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked … Every day they protect the American people from violent crime, terrorism and other threats to their safety while safeguarding our civil rights. They do so at great personal sacrifice and risk to themselves. I am honored to work alongside them.”

It was Garland’s first public appearance or comment since agents executed the warrant at Mar-a-Lago Club, taking about a dozen boxes of material after opening a safe and entering a padlocked storage area. The search was one of the most dramatic developments in a cascade of legal investigations of the former president, several of which appear to be growing in intensity.

The investigation into the improper handling of documents began months ago, when the National Archives and Records Administration sought the return of material taken to Mar-a-Lago from the White House. Fifteen boxes of documents and items, some of them marked classified, were returned early this year. The archives subsequently asked the Justice Department to investigate.

Former senior intelligence officials said in interviews that during the Trump administration, highly classified intelligence about sensitive topics, including about intelligence-gathering on Iran, was routinely mishandled. One former official said the most highly classified information often ended up in the hands of personnel who didn’t appear to have a need to possess it or weren’t authorized to read it.

Trump shares potentially revealing image of Iranian missile launch site on Twitter

That former official also said signals intelligence — intercepted electronic communications like emails and phone calls of foreign leaders — was among the type of information that often ended up with unauthorized personnel. Such intercepts are among the most closely guarded secrets because of what they can reveal about how the United States has penetrated foreign governments.

A person familiar with the inventory of 15 boxes taken from Mar-a-Lago in January indicated that signals intelligence material was included in them. The precise nature of the information was unclear.

The former officials and the other individual spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence matters.

This spring, Trump’s team received a grand jury subpoena in connection with the documents investigations, two people familiar with the investigation, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details, confirmed to The Post on Thursday. Investigators visited Mar-a-Lago in the weeks following the issue of the subpoena, and Trump’s team handed over some materials. The subpoena was first reported by Just the News, a conservative media outlet run by John Solomon, one of Trump’s recently designated representatives to the National Archives.

People familiar with the probe have said it is focused on whether the former president or his aides withheld classified or other government material that should have been returned to government custody earlier. The people, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation, said that as authorities engaged in months of discussions on the subject, some officials came to suspect the Trump team was not being truthful.

Pressure had been building for Garland to say something so that the public understands why the Justice Department — and a federal magistrate judge — believed the extraordinary step of executing a search warrant at the home of a former president was necessary. But Garland has stuck with his practice of not discussing ongoing investigations.

“Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly without fear or favor,” Garland said Thursday. “Under my watch, that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing.”

FBI search of Mar-a-Lago puts Garland in the midst of political firestorm

Trump and his allies have refused to publicly share a copy of the warrant, even as they and their supporters have denounced the search as unlawful and politically motivated but provided no evidence to back that up.

Lawyers for the former president can respond to the government’s filing with any objections to unsealing the warrant, leaving it to the judge overseeing the case to decide. He also could publicly release the warrant himself.

The judge ordered the Justice Department to confer with lawyers for Trump and alert the court by 3 pm Friday as to whether Trump objects to the unsealing.

After Garland’s appearance, Trump took to his own social media network to again decry the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. But he made no indication of whether he would lodge an objection to the government’s filing.

If made public, the warrant would probably reveal a general description of what material agents were seeking at Mar-a-Lago and what crimes they could be connected to. A list of the inventory that agents took from the property would also be released. Details could be limited, however, particularly if the material collected includes classified documents.

How agents get warrants like the one at Mar-a-Lago, and what they mean

In addition to the anti-law enforcement threats and vitriol on social media sites and elsewhere this week, the furor over the search warrant has led to threats against the judge who approved the warrant request.

The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association — the professional association representing 31,000 federal law enforcement officers and agents — said in a statement Wednesday evening that its agents had received “extreme threats of violence” this week.

“All law enforcement understand their work makes them a target for criminal actors,” wrote the group’s president, Larry Cosme. “However, the politically motivated threats of violence against the FBI this week are unprecedented in recent history and absolutely unacceptable.”

Republicans around Trump initially thought the raid could help him politically, but they are now bracing for revelations that could be damaging, a person familiar with the matter said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Jacqueline Alemany, Spencer S. Hsu, Meryl Kornfield and Rosalind S. Helderman contributed to this report.


Men wanted in Mall of America shooting arrested in Chicago area

The man who allegedly fired shots inside the Mall of America last week and the person police say directed him to do it were arrested Thursday after a week on the run.

FOX 9 is told Shamar Lark and Rashad May were taken into custody during a traffic stop Thursday in the Chicago area, seven days after shots rang out inside the mall on August 4.

This week, police said they believed Lark was the man who fired shots inside the mall after an altercation at the Nike store. Officers say it appears May “prompted” Lark who then fired multiple shots. Thankfully, no one was struck by the gunfire, but the act sparked a panic that had people running and looking for safety while officers swept the mall.

In the days after the shooting, three other people were arrested on charges of aiding Lark and May: 21-year-old Denesh Raghubir of Minneapolis, 23–year-old Delyanie Kwen-Shawn Arnold of Burnsville, and 23-year-old Selena Raghubir of Bloomington.

There was talk that Lark and May were prepared to surrender to police earlier this week but that never came about.

Shooting and charges

On August 4, police working at Mall of America responded to multiple gunshots at the Nike store, where they found three shell casings on the floor inside the entrance. Officers checked surveillance video, which showed a fight breaking out involving six people near the checkout of the store, causing customers to run away.

Then two people involved in the altercation left the store briefly before the suspect returned and fired a handgun several times at the males involved in the fight. The suspected shooter, identified Monday as 21-year-old Shamar Lark, and another man, identified as 23-year-old Rashad May, then ran out the north doors of the mall, into the IKEA parking lot, charges said.

It was later learned the two men may have been picked up by a Best Western hotel shuttle at IKEA and were taken to the hotel, just south of Mall of America.

Police believe May called Arnold a few minutes after the shooting, and he received five calls from Arnold between 4:20-4:23 pm, the complaint said. Arnold then contacted his girlfriend, Selena Raghubir, who is an assistant manager at the Best Western, as well as Selena Raghubir’s cousin, Denesh Raghubir, who picked up Lark and May at IKEA in the Best Western shuttle.

Denesh Raghubir told police he knew the two men were friends of Selena Raghubir, and when he dropped them off at Best Western, Selena Raghubir immediately left the front desk and he didn’t see her for about 45 minutes, charges said. He said Selena Raghubir later called him and asked him what time police left.

On Aug. 5, officers searched Arnold and Selena Raghubir’s home and vehicle, where they found the shirts the men were wearing at the time of the shooting, charges said.

Shamar Lark (left) and Rashad May (right) are wanted after Thursday’s shooting at the Mall of America. (Supplied)

subsequent search

During a Monday afternoon news conference, Bloomington Police Chief Booker Hodges released photos showing Lark and May. Hodges says May “prompted” Lark to shoot up the store – which Lark followed through on.

Police issued a nationwide warrant for Lark and May and had information that the duo could be in the Chicago area.

“You cannot, in a free society, continue to enjoy all the freedoms that we have and when you show a complete lack of respect for humanity by firing in a crowded mall store,” said Chief Hodges. “We cannot tolerate that as a society.”



‘Very close’ Trump friend told FBI about Mar-a-Lago docs

​Only a handful of people who were “very close” to former President Donald Trump could have tipped off federal investigators about boxes of classified documents being stored at his Mar-a-Lago resort, onetime White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Thursday.

The FBI raided Trump’s ritzy residence in Palm Beach, Fla., Monday in search of sensitive papers that the 45th president purportedly removed from the White House at the end of his term of office.

Multiple outlets have reported that the Department of Justice opted to apply for a search warrant after a person with knowledge of the storage arrangement blew the whistle.

“This would be someone who was handling things on day-to-day, who knew where documents were, so it would be somebody very close, inside the president,” Mulvaney told CNN Thursday. “My guess is there’s probably six or eight people who had that kind of information.”

Mulvaney added that whoever talked to the feds was so close to Trump they knew the existence and location of a safe at Trump’s home.

​”​I didn’t even know there was a safe at Mar-a-Lago, and I was the chief of staff for 15 months​,” he said.

President Donald Trump, left, and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, right, walk along the colonnade of the White House in Washington.
Former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said a person close to former President Donald Trump may have tipped off federal investigators before the raid.
AP/Susan Walsh

​”I don’t know the people on the inside circle these days, so I can’t give any names of folks who come to mind, but … if you know where the safe is and you know the documents are in 10 boxes in the basement, you’re pretty close to the president,” Mulvaney added.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that after federal investigators visited the Florida resort in June to discuss government records kept on the property, a person “familiar with the stored papers” told the feds that there were more classified documents lying around the resort.

Agents carted about a dozen boxes from Trump’s winter home after Monday’s raid, which lasted more than nine hours.

Armed Secret Service agents stand outside an entrance to former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, late Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla.
Armed Secret Service agents stand outside an entrance to former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate on Aug. 8, 2022.
AP/Terry Renna

Trump, who was in New York at the time, announced the FBI search Monday on Truth Social, saying his home had been “raided, and occupied,” adding “they even broke into my safe.”

Republicans have immediately demanded that Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray explain the reasoning behind conducting a raid on the private home of a former president.

“What was on the warrant? What were you really doing? What were you looking for? Why not talk to President Trump and have him give the information you’re after? This is unbelievable,” ​Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said on Fox News Monday night.

  An aerial view of President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate is seen Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla.
Agents carted about a dozen boxes from Trump’s Marg-a-Lago home.
AP/Steve Helber

Mulvaney, himself a former GOP congressman from South Carolina, said he understood his former colleague’s outrage.

“When the FBI has the track record it has in the recent past about dealing with Republicans, the burden is on them to show that they are absolutely on the up and up,” he said, “and releasing that [search warrant] affidavit is something they can and should do.



CDC Eases Covid Guidelines, Noting Virus Is ‘Here to Stay’

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention loosened Covid-19 guidelines on Thursday, freeing schools and businesses from the onus of requiring unvaccinated people exposed to the virus to quarantine at home.

The changes are a sharp move away from measures such as social distancing requirements and quarantining, which had polarized much of the country, and effectively acknowledge the way many Americans have been navigating the pandemic for some time. The agency’s action comes as children across the country return to school and many offices have reopened.

“We know that Covid-19 is here to stay,” Greta Massetti, a CDC epidemiologist, said at a news briefing on Thursday. “High levels of population immunity due to vaccination and previous infection, and the many tools that we have available to protect people from severe illness and death, have put us in a different place.”

The CDC’s new guidelines come after more than two years of a pandemic in which more than one million Americans have died. With the highly contagious BA.5 subvariant of Omicron spreading, the United States is recording more than 100,000 cases and nearly 500 deaths a day on average.

But many Americans dispensed with practices such as social distancing, quarantine and mask-wearing long ago.

“I think they are attempting to meet up with the reality that everyone in the public is pretty much done with this pandemic,” said Michael T. Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, referring to the CDC

The agency has been working for months on the new guidance, which builds on previous recommendations issued in February, when the agency shortened isolation times for many Americans. The CDC said it is making changes now because vaccination and prior infections have granted many Americans some degree of protection against the virus, and treatments, vaccines and boosters are available to reduce the risk of severe illness.

The changes shift much of the responsibility for risk reduction from institutions to individuals. The CDC no longer recommends that people stay six feet away from others. Instead, it notes that avoiding crowded areas and maintaining a distance from others are strategies that people may want to consider in order to reduce their risk.

And the recommended prevention strategies no longer draw a distinction between people who are up-to-date on their vaccinations and those who are not, streamlining a complicated set of rules that could be difficult for schools and businesses to navigate.

People who are exposed to the virus no longer must quarantine at home regardless of their vaccination status, although they should wear a mask for 10 days and get tested for the virus on day 5, according to the new guidelines. Contact tracing and routine surveillance testing of people without symptoms are no longer recommended in most settings.

Instead of focusing on slowing transmission of the virus, the recommendations prioritize preventing severe illness. They emphasize the importance of vaccination and other prevention measures, including antiviral treatments and ventilation.

The guidelines around masking — which recommend that people wear them indoors in places where community Covid-19 levels are high — have not changed.

And people who test positive for the virus should still isolate themselves at home for at least five days. Those who had moderate or severe illness, or are immunocompromised, should isolate through day 10.

The agency also addressed the rebound infections that some people reported after taking the antiviral treatment Paxlovid; if symptoms return, people should restart the clock on isolation, the CDC said.

Many health experts praised the new guidelines as representing a pragmatic approach to living with the virus in the longer term.

“I think this is a welcome change,” said Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “It actually shows how far we’ve come.”

The new guidelines will also be easier for the public to follow, I have added.

But the pandemic has not ended, experts noted, and more stringent measures may be needed in the event of new variants or future surges.

While nearly all Americans are now eligible to be vaccinated, many are not up-to-date on their shots. Just 30 percent of 5- to 11-year-olds and 60 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have received their primary vaccine series nationwide. Among adults 65 and older, who are at highest risk of severe illness, 65 percent have received a booster. Critical therapeutics, such as antiviral treatments, remain difficult for many to access.

“Obviously, we have to do more work to make sure that more people avail themselves of the protection that those tools have to offer and that more people can access those tools,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, director of the Pandemic Center at the Brown University School of Public Health. “I do think there’s been an overall dial-back in the ground game that’s needed to get people vaccinated.”

The guidance moves away from sweeping, population-level precautions to more targeted advice for vulnerable populations and specific high-risk settings and circumstances.

For instance, the guidelines note that schools may want to consider surveillance testing in certain scenarios, such as for when students are returning from school breaks or for those who are participating in contact sports.

Unvaccinated students who are exposed to the virus will no longer need to test frequently in order to remain in the classroom, an approach known as “test to stay.” The CDC no longer recommends a practice known as cohorting, in which schools divide students into smaller groups and limit contact between them to reduce the risk of viral transmission.

Health experts said the change in guidance was particularly welcome as students head back to school, a setting in which quarantines had been especially disruptive.

“This really will help to minimize the impact of Covid-19 on education,” said Christina Ramirez, a biostatistician at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Mercedes Carnethon, an epidemiologist at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said that she did not see the changes, even the elimination of quarantines in favor of 10 days of masking, as a loosening of the agency’s guidance.

“We certainly know that wearing a high-quality mask is going to provide some of the strongest protection against spreading it to somebody else, and quarantine is logistically burdensome,” she said. “That could be seen as a relaxing of guidelines, but I think it’s a much more appropriate and targeted solution.”

Joseph Allen, a Harvard University researcher who studies indoor environmental quality, praised the new guidelines for putting more emphasis on improving ventilation.

“Good ventilation is something that helps reduce the risk of transmission that isn’t political and doesn’t require any behavior change,” he said.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg contributed reporting


John Bolton, target in alleged Iran assassination plot, urges US to stop nuclear deal talks

John Bolton urged the Biden administration to cease negotiations with Iran after a federal indictment revealed an alleged plot to assassinate the former Trump adviser. Bolton said others are also being targeted and called for the US to work on removing the regime from power.

“I do think it’s important for people to understand that this plot, this effort to kill me… and I’m certainly not alone in this, they’re after plenty of people, including average citizens, not just former government employees — that shows the real nature of the regime,” Bolton told Yahoo News in an interview Thursday.

On Wednesday the Justice Department unsealed charges against a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in what court documents describe as a brazen murder-for-hire plot to assassinate the former national security adviser to avenge the death of Iran’s top military general Qassem Soleimani. This comes after the Biden administration and Iranian officials recently concluded talks in Vienna to potentially revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal.

The US withdrew from the agreement in 2018 under the Trump administration but is now trying to resuscitate the deal.

A flag with an image of senior Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani is displayed by Hezbollah soldiers in Lebanon during a ceremony marking the first anniversary of his killing

A flag with an image of senior Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani is displayed by Hezbollah soldiers in Lebanon during a ceremony marking the first anniversary of his killing. (Aziz Tahr/Reuters)

“I wouldn’t restart the nuclear talks,” Bolton said. “To me, going back in the deal is a huge strategic mistake for the United States. So what I would do would be to terminate discussions. I don’t think you’re ever going to achieve peace and security in the Middle East as long as the current regime in Tehran is in power. So my policy would be removing the regime.”

He said this could be done by exploiting factions and rivalries within the regime’s military and leadership.

“I think finding those potential dissident military officers in particular, and very carefully communicating with them to separate the regime at the very top is the way, with careful planning, I think you can bring it down,” he told Yahoo News. “It’s not going to happen overnight. … It takes time. It’s hard. It’s very risky.”

The White House did not respond to Yahoo News’ request for comment on Bolton’s call for the US to topple Iran’s regime.

Bolton said this is the only way forward and skewered the Biden administration for solely focusing on restoring the 2015 deal.

An FBI wanted poster of Shahram Poursafi, also known as Mehdi Rezayi, of Tehran, Iran

An FBI wanted poster of Shahram Poursafi, also known as Mehdi Rezayi, of Tehran, Iran, who has been charged with plotting to murder John Bolton, the national security adviser to former President Donald Trump. (FBI/Handout via Reuters)

Bolton described the administration’s efforts to revive the deal as “the holy grail for them,” and said it would take something “extraordinary” for the administration to stop their efforts.

“I know many of the people involved in this in the administration, they are pursuing this with a religious zeal,” Bolton said.

Yahoo News reported on Wednesday that an unnamed second target, referred to as a former senior high-ranking Trump administration official, is former Secretary of State and CIA Director Mike Pompeo. A source close to Pompeo said the Justice Department contacted the former secretary of state last week to notify him of the plot and the charges.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani denied the allegations in a statement, calling them “fiction,” according to Israeli news outlet i24NEWS.

“The Islamic Republic warns against any action that targets Iranian citizens by resorting to ridiculous accusations,” Kanani said.

John Bolton, left, and Mike Pompeo

John Bolton, national security adviser, left, and Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, in 2018. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The plot against Bolton stems from the death of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, according to the indictment. In January 2020, the Trump administration conducted a drone strike that killed Soleimani while he was on a trip to Iraq. Since then, the regime in Tehran has threatened revenge against those it deems responsible and has made a series of threats and started legal proceedings against US officials.

Bolton left the Trump White House prior to Soleimani’s death but his hawkish views on Iran and other past actions have been cited by Iran as reason for wanting him killed.

An intelligence report obtained by Yahoo News last month stated that the “Iranian regime is waging a multipronged campaign — including threats of lethal action, international legal maneuvering, and the issuance of Iranian arrest warrants and sanctions — against select US officials to avenge the death of IRGC-QF Commander Soleimani in January 2020, raising the threat at home and abroad for those Iran views as responsible for the killing.”

IRGC-QF stands for Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, an elite division of Iran’s military.

According to the report, Tehran has “consistently identified former President Donald Trump, former Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, and former CENTCOM Commander General Kenneth McKenzie as among its priority targets for retribution” since January 2021.

John Bolton

Former national security adviser John Bolton speaking at Duke University in North Carolina, February 2020. (Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images)

Yahoo News previously reported that concerns about retaliatory attacks after Soleimani’s death against officials involved in the strike against him prompted Congress to appropriate $15 million for security for departing Secretary of State Pompeo and others.

“I think in the White House, their brains are compartmentalized,” Bolton told Yahoo News Thursday. “Here, you have the nuclear problem here, you have the terrorist problem. They’re not compartmentalized in Iran. And unfortunately, Iran is the adversary that’s threatening us. So … at a conceptual level in the White House, they can distinguish between the nuclear program and attacks on Americans on American soil. That’s not how they see it in Tehran.”

Four former officials being targeted by Iran told Yahoo News that they were dismayed by the Biden administration’s continued efforts to negotiate with a regime actively trying to assassinate them and other former US officials. Two of these former officials told Yahoo News they supported the nuclear deal but urged the administration to put JCPOA talks on hold until Iran stops trying to kill officials on US soil.

The nuclear deal is not a good deal but it’s better than nothing, said one former official who said he supported the Biden administration efforts to revive the 2015 agreement. But, this person said, talks should only summarize if there are assurances Iran will stop trying to kill American officials on US soil. This person requested anonymity out of concern for the security of family members.

Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, center

Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, center, at a meeting with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Tehran in 2016. (Office of Iranian Supreme Leader/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

“The real concern for all of us is not what Iran is doing, it’s what the US is not doing,” said Rob Greenway, former senior director for Middle Eastern and North African Affairs of the National Security Council.

Greenway said there were steps that the White House should take immediately to respond to the threats against former officials. Greenway is one of the former US officials sanctioned by Iran; Iran requested Interpol issue red alert notices on officials including Greenway, currently an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute.

“I would extend protection for all government officials against whom there are active Iranian threats. Not all those threatened by Iran have government-provided personal security details,” Greenway said.

The White House did not respond to Yahoo News’ questions about providing security for additional officials.

He also said he would “recommend we cease active negotiations with Iran until compelling and verifiable assurances made publicly and privately to cease all efforts targeting US citizens including former government officials.” Greenway told Yahoo News.

A White House spokesperson told Yahoo News that the Biden administration will continue to pursue JCPOA talks as long as he believes it’s in “US national security interests.”

Joe Biden in Saudi Arabia

President Biden at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, following an Arab summit there, July 16, 2022. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

“President Biden has been clear that he will ensure Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon. He believes diplomacy is the best path to achieving that goal,” a spokesperson said. “At the same time, the Biden administration has not and will not waive in protecting and defending all Americans against threats of violence and terrorism. We will continue to bring to bear the full resources of the US government to protect Americans.”

When asked how he thinks the US should be responding to the threats, Bolton reiterated his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, and said he doesn’t believe there’ll be peace and security in the Middle East as long as the current regime in Tehran is inpower. Bolton called for the Biden administration to remove the regime from power, but demurred when asked if he’d tried to do this when he worked in the Trump administration.

I think [the regime is] far more vulnerable than people think. I think there’s enormous dissatisfaction across the country. The government has the weapons — that’s the problem. The people don’t have the weapons. So it’s a difficult situation, but nobody should think this regime is rock solid. It is definitely not.

The plot described in court records shows the world what Iran is capable of, he said.

“It’s a look inside their soul. And it’s a confirmation [that] they can make a lot of commitments about their nuclear weapons program, [and] have no intention whatsoever of honoring them.”


Ricky Shiffer, who authorities say tried to enter the FBI’s Cincinnati office with a gun is dead after chase and standoff

Lt. Nathan Dennis said that after negotiations failed, law enforcement officers tried to take suspect into custody, but the suspect raised a gun at authorities and was fatally shot.

The man was identified as Ricky Shiffer, according to three federal law enforcement sources.

The FBI is investigating Shiffer’s social media presence and whether he had ties to right-wing extremism, one of the sources said.

A separate federal law enforcement source tells CNN that authorities are looking into whether the suspect had ties to any group that participated in the January 6th attack on the US Capitol or if he participated himself.

A Truth Social account bearing Shiffer’s name referenced his attempt to storm an FBI office, and also encouraged others online to prepare for a revolutionary-type war, CNN has learned.

“Well, I thought I had a way through bullet proof glass, and I didn’t,” the user posted on Donald Trump’s social media site at 9:29 am Authorities say the attack took place at 9:15. “If you don’t hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the FBI, and it’ll mean either I was taken off the internet, the FBI got me, or they felt the regular cops while.”

It’s unclear whether the user was attempting to write more, as the post stops after the word “while.” Authorities said the suspect fled in a car after attempting to get in the FBI office.

Authorities have not yet confirmed that the account belongs to the suspect. However, a law enforcement source told CNN a photo on the account matched a government ID photo of the suspect.

The FBI declined to comment on the account and its postings, citing their ongoing investigation.

The area near a standoff between the suspect, who was fatally shot, and authorities.

State troopers chased suspect, took fire

The hourslong standoff followed a vehicle chase with the suspect.

Earlier, Dennis said an armed man tried to enter the FBI office in Cincinnati Thursday morning. The suspect was unsuccessful, however, and fled the area.

An Ohio state trooper spotted the suspect’s vehicle at a northbound rest stop along Interstate 71 about 20 minutes after the attempted breach, Dennis said, and tried to initiate a traffic stop before the suspect fled.

“The suspect vehicle did fire shots during that pursuit,” Dennis said in the earlier news conference. The suspect then exited onto State Route 73 and traveled east to Smith Road, where he headed north before eventually coming to a stop.

“Gunfire was exchanged between officers on scene and the suspect,” Dennis said.

At the time of the news conference, no officers had been injured, Dennis said.

The FBI said “an armed subject attempt to breach” the facility’s Visitor Screening Facility.

“Upon the activation of an alarm and a response by armed FBI special agents, the subject fled northbound onto Interstate 71,” the statement said. “The FBI, Ohio State Highway Patrol, and local law enforcement partners are on scene near Wilmington, OH trying to resolve this critical incident.”

A federal law enforcement source told CNN the suspect was believed to be armed with a nail gun and AR-15. Another federal law enforcement source with knowledge of the incident told CNN FBI facilities around the country are reviewing their security posture in the wake of the incident.

FBI director condemns violence and threats

The incident follows violent rhetoric posted online after the FBI went to former President Donald Trump’s Florida home to serve a search warrant.

In a message reviewed by CNN on Thursday, FBI Director Chris Wray told the bureau’s employees their “safety and security” was his “primary concern right now.”

“There has been a lot of commentary about the FBI this week questioning our work and motives,” Wray said. “Much of it is from critics and pundits on the outside who don’t know what we know and don’t see what we see. What I know — and what I see — is an organization made up of men and women who are committed to doing their jobs professionally and by the book every day; this week is no exception.”

He released a public statement Thursday evening after the incident in Cincinnati.

“Unfounded attacks on the integrity of the FBI erode respect for the rule of law and are a serious disservice to the men and women who sacrifice so much to protect others,” he said. “Violence and threats against law enforcement, including the FBI, are dangerous and should be deeply concerning to all Americans.

In remarks Thursday announcing the US Justice Department has filed a motion to unseal the search warrant served to Trump’s Florida home, Attorney General Merrick Garland said he could not “stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked. The men and women of the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated, patriotic public servants.”