FBI search for motive after securing access to Trump shooting suspect’s phone

The FBI said in a press release that it has gained access to the phone of the suspected gunman (identified as Thomas Matthew Crooks) who opened fire during former President Donald Trump’s rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, in which one supporter was killed and two others were wounded before Secret Service agents shot dead 20-year-old Crooks. The agency is continuing its search for a motive of the gunman’s attempted assassination of  Trump.

The shooting, which left Trump bleeding from one ear, is being investigated as an assassination attempt. Per the bureau’s press release, federal investigators announced on Sunday that they had obtained Crooks’s cellphone, but had issues with bypassing its password protections to access date; however, investigators then shipped the phone to a lab in Virginia, where agents successfully gained access. The agency said its technical specialists have gained access to Crooks’ phone and continue to analyze his electronic devices for clues, as well as working to determine the motive behind the attack on Trump, but no clear picture has yet emerged. The FBI also stated that it had completed nearly 100 interviews of law enforcement personnel, event attendees and other witnesses, and had also completed a search of the suspect’s car and residence.

The FBI and DHS had previously said in a joint bulletin  hat Crooks had received “several packages, including some marked as possibly containing hazardous material,” in the past several months based on a review of his shipping history, and also purchased 50 rounds of ammunition at a gun shop before traveling to the rally. A search of his home and vehicle had previously found “suspicious devices” that were sent to the FBI’s laboratory for evaluation.

Little information has been discovered regarding Crooks, who left behind no immediately available manifesto or record of the attack. He was registered as a Republican voter and donated $15 to a Democratic-allied organization but did not maintain a large online presence.  The AR-style 556 rifle used by the shooter was legally purchased by his father and officials said there was no indication that the suspect suffered from any mental health issues.

In the meantime, the FBI and Homeland Security said they are concerned about the possibilities of retaliatory acts, or “follow-ons”, stating: “we cannot rule out the possibility that some [domestic violent extremist] or other actors may attempt follow-on or retaliatory acts of violence in response to this assassination attempt.”

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New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez found guilty on all 16 counts in federal corruption trial

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez was found guilty of all 16 federal charges against him on Tuesday, July 16, following an eight-week corruption trial that centered around his level of involvement with Egypt’s government. The decision came after a New York City jury delivered the guilty verdict on their third day of deliberations. Immediately after the verdict, Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer called for Menendez’s resignation: “In light of this guilty verdict, Senator Menendez must now do what is right for his constituents, the Senate, and our country, and resign.”

Menendez had pleaded not guilty to 16 federal charges including bribery, fraud, acting as a foreign agent and obstruction. Menendez declined to testify in his own defense, telling reporters during the trial: “From my perspective, the government has failed to prove every aspect of its case.”

Prosecutors claimed the New Jersey Democrat, 70, accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in the form of cash, gold bars, mortgage payments and more in exchange for the senator’s political clout, with the FBI discovering gold bars and more than $400,000 in cash stashed in places including jackets and shoes throughout his home. Federal prosecutor Paul Monteleoni said during his closing argument on July 8: “It wasn’t enough for him to be one of the most powerful people in Washington. Robert Menendez wanted all that power and he also wanted to use it to pile up riches for himself and his wife.”

The defense maintained that all of the actions in the indictment fell within the scope of Menendez’s position and that prosecutors failed to prove he took any bribes, with , defense attorney Adam Fee mocking the government’s case as “cherry-picked nonsense” and accused prosecutors of “fudging” the facts: “The only honest verdict I submit here is to acquit him on each count. His actions were lawful, normal and good for the country.”  The defense also told jurors that Menendez and his wife, who has also been charged in the case, led separate lives and she had financial concerns that she kept from her husband.

Three New Jersey businessmen who were also charged alongside Menendez, along with the governments of Egypt and Qatar, were the alleged recipients. Two of those co-defendants, Wael Hanna and Fred Daibes, were also convicted of all counts they faced.

Menendez has served as senator for New Jersey since 2006; he is the first sitting member of Congress to be charged with conspiracy by a public official to act as a foreign agent. The recent trail marked the second time the senator was charged with corruption; back in 2015, an indictment against him ended in a mistrial in 2018 after a jury failed to reach a verdict on all counts. He has repeatedly refused to resign, though he did step down as the chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee following the initial indictment in September 2023.

Menendez’s wife got permission to delay her trial while she undergoes treatment for grade 3 breast cancer. Menendez will be sentenced on Oct. 29 and faces a sentence of more than 200 years in prison.

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Thomas Rhett to hold four-night Vegas mini residency at Fontainebleau Las Vegas

Thomas Rhett will hold a four-night run at BleauLive Theater inside Fontainebleau Las Vegas set for December 6, 7, 13, and 14.  Per CountryNow, the limited performance series, which Rhett dubs a “mini-residency,” will bring fans closer to the music within the intimate setting of the state-of-the-art 3,800 capacity theater.

Rhett shares: “For me, having the chance to set up in Vegas for a string of shows is something I’ve been trying to find the right time to do for a while now. It gives us the chance to be back in smaller rooms – for almost a mini-residency – and really be right there to play off the fans and be sure every single one of them is on their feet each night. I’m already looking forward to making these shows unlike any we’ve ever done before. It’s going to be a blast.”

Rhett will also release his seventh studio album About a Woman on August 23rd. The album features 14 tracks, with the album’s lead single “Beautiful As You” already climbing the charts.   To preorder About a Woman, head here.

Presented in collaboration with Fontainebleau Las Vegas and Live Nation, tickets can be purhcased for the limited engagement via Ticketmaster. VIP Concert & Hotel Packages are available exclusively through Vibee.

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Ingrid Andress says she was intoxicated, is entering rehab after national anthem performance at Home Run Derby

Country singer Ingrid Andress has broken her silence after her highly-criticized national anthem performance prior to the MLB Home Run Derby on Monday went viral. Andress made headlines after singing the national anthem at Arlington’s Globe Life Field in Texas, where the All-Star Game is being held this year. Andress’ performance faced backlash from viewers, which was full of missed notes, pitchiness and questionable runs.

Andress, 32, revealed that she was intoxicated while singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and is now checking herself into rehab, sharing in a statement posted via X on Tuesday, July 16: “I’m not gonna bulls–t y’all, I was drunk last night. I’m checking myself into a facility today to get the help I need. That was not me last night. I apologize to MLB, all the fans, and this country I love so much for that rendition. I’ll let y’all know how rehab is[.] I hear it’s super fun. xo, Ingrid”

Andress released her debut album, Lady Like, in March 2020 and received three Grammy nominations the following year (for Best New Artist, Best Country Song for “More Hearts Than Mine” and Best Country Album for Lady Like). Andress was again nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance in 2023 for “Wishful Drinking,” a collaboration with Sam Hunt from her second album, Good Person.

Per ESPN, Andress is the daughter of former major league strength and conditioning coach Brad Andress, who worked for the Detroit Tigers, Colorado Rockies and New York Mets. Major League Baseball spokesperson Matt Bourne said that the league had no comment, and a representative for Andress said there will be no additional comment at this time.

Just prior to her performance at the Home Run Derby, Andress announced on social media that she has a new song slated to arrive later this month: “Greetings to everyone that has a pulse I truly love you all so much. I’ve been absent for a minute, but I’m so stoked to announce that my new single ‘Colorado 9’ comes out on July 24th, pre-save it now: https://ingridandress.lnk.to/presave-colorado9”

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Ingrid Andress says she was intoxicated, is entering rehab after national anthem performance at Home Run Derby

Country singer Ingrid Andress has broken her silence after her highly-criticized national anthem performance prior to the MLB Home Run Derby on Monday went viral. Andress made headlines after singing the national anthem at Arlington’s Globe Life Field in Texas, where the All-Star Game is being held this year. Andress’ performance faced backlash from viewers, which was full of missed notes, pitchiness and questionable runs.

Andress, 32, revealed that she was intoxicated while singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and is now checking herself into rehab, sharing in a statement posted via X on Tuesday, July 16: “I’m not gonna bulls–t y’all, I was drunk last night. I’m checking myself into a facility today to get the help I need. That was not me last night. I apologize to MLB, all the fans, and this country I love so much for that rendition. I’ll let y’all know how rehab is[.] I hear it’s super fun. xo, Ingrid”

Andress released her debut album, Lady Like, in March 2020 and received three Grammy nominations the following year (for Best New Artist, Best Country Song for “More Hearts Than Mine” and Best Country Album for Lady Like). Andress was again nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance in 2023 for “Wishful Drinking,” a collaboration with Sam Hunt from her second album, Good Person.

Per ESPN, Andress is the daughter of former major league strength and conditioning coach Brad Andress, who worked for the Detroit Tigers, Colorado Rockies and New York Mets. Major League Baseball spokesperson Matt Bourne said that the league had no comment, and a representative for Andress said there will be no additional comment at this time.

Just prior to her performance at the Home Run Derby, Andress announced on social media that she has a new song slated to arrive later this month: “Greetings to everyone that has a pulse I truly love you all so much. I’ve been absent for a minute, but I’m so stoked to announce that my new single ‘Colorado 9’ comes out on July 24th, pre-save it now: https://ingridandress.lnk.to/presave-colorado9”

Editorial credit: Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

HGTV star Christina Hall and husband Joshua Hall to divorce after two years of marriage

HGTV’s Christina Hall (née Haack) and her husband Joshua Hall, have both filed for divorce after more than two years of marriage. HGTV had just announced that the couple were slated to have a new show coming out in 2025 alongside Haack’s ex-husband (and former Flip or Flop co-star), Tarek El Moussa, as well as his wife, Heather.

According to court papers obtained by TMZ, Joshua, 43, filed for a dissolution of marriage on Tuesday, July 16, citing irreconcilable differences as the reason for the split and listed the date of separation as July 8. Hall has requested alimony from Haack and asked the court to eliminate her ability to collect from him, further adding that he hopes to split up their assets and divide what was theirs respectively before they tied the knot. Hall also requested that the court to grant him all rights to any HGTV and/or Discovery Network shows or specials the former couple produced during their marriage. Shortly after Josh’s filing, Christina also filed her own divorce papers.

The couple met in 2021 shortly after Christina’s marriage from her second husband, Ant Anstead, ended. Christina, 41, went public with her relationship with Hall shortly afterwards in July 2021, and shared the news of their engagement on Instagram in September 2021, posting a photo of a diamond ring during a vacation in Mexico alongside the caption:❤♾🔒🗝 💍 The couple tied the knot in a secret ceremony in April 2022, and had a second ceremony in Hawaii with Christina’s kids in attendance the following October.

Christina shares daughter Taylor, 13, and son Brayden, 8, with El Moussa; and shares son Hudson, 4, with Anstead.

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Jack Black cancels remaining Tenacious D tour dates after backlash following joke about Trump shooting

Jack Black has announced the cancellation of the remainder of Tenacious D’s The Spicy Meatball Tour following backlash received over a controversial comment made by duo partner Kyle Gass on stage in Australia over the weekend. The announcement came Tuesday, following harsh criticism the musical-comedy duo received after making a joke on-stage in Australia about the assassination attempt on former president Donald Trump.

Gass came under fire after making an off-color remark about the assassination attempt of Donald Trump during a rally in Butler, Pennsylvania. In fan-captured footage, Black presents Gass with a cake on stage for his 64th birthday, telling him to “make a wish,” with Gass commenting, “Don’t miss Trump next time,” to which Black replied, “Thank you.”  While the audience responded with laughter, after the moment went viral it faced immediate backlash, with Australian officials even calling for the duo to be deported from the country immediately.

United Australian Party Senator Ralph Babet said in a statement on social media that “Tenacious D should be immediately removed from the country after wishing for the assassination of Donald Trump at their Sydney concert. I condemn in the strongest possible way the call to political violence by Tenacious D in Sydney on Sunday. To advocate and or wish for the assassination of a President is egregious, disgusting, filthy, evil, and not acceptable in any way, shape or form. This was not a joke, he was deadly serious when he wished for the death of the President. I call on the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese to join me in denouncing Tenacious D, Jack Black and band member Kyle Gass, and I call on the Immigration Minister Andrew Giles to revoke their visas and deport them immediately. Anything less than deportation is an endorsement of the shooting and attempted assassination of Donald J. Trump, the 45th and soon-to-be 47th President of the United States. Australia wrongly locked up Novak Djokovic and deported him because he allegedly undermined public trust in vaccination. Allowing Tenacious D to remain in Australia after calling for the death of a President is unthinkable, and it affirms the weakness of our current Prime Minister.”

In his statement on social media Tuesday, Black wrote: “I was blindsided by what was said at the show on Sunday. I would never condone hate speech or encourage political violence in any form. After much reflection, I no longer feel it is appropriate to continue the Tenacious D tour, and all future creative plans are on hold. I am grateful to the fans for their support and understanding.”

Gass also apologized, stating: “The line I improvised onstage Sunday night in Sydney was highly inappropriate, dangerous and terrible mistake. I don’t condone violence of any kind, in any form, against anyone. What happened was a tragedy, and I’m incredibly sorry for my severe lack of judgment. I profoundly apologize to those I’ve let down and truly regret any pain I’ve caused.”

Tenacious D launched The Spicy Meatball Tour last year, performing in 24 cities and selling out London’s O2. The tour was to hit seven cities through Australia and New Zealand through next week.

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Donald Trump names Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance as his vice-presidential running mate

Former President Donald Trump announced on Monday that he has chosen Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance to be his 2024 vice-presidential running mate. Trump’s decision ends months of speculation over who would join the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s ticket for his rematch against President Joe Biden in November.  Vance, 39, was one of several people rumored to be on Trump’s vice presidential shortlist earlier this year, and one of three names elevated to finalist status in recent weeks (alongside North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio). Insiders say that Vance’s youth and ‘celebrity status’ amongst conservatives were a big draw for Trump.

Moments after Trump revealed his pick during the roll call vote at the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, the crowd on the convention floor broke into chants of “JD!” “JD!”  He and Vance are expected to formally accept their party’s nominations during the convention.

Trump’s announcement on his Truth Social platform read: After lengthy deliberation and thought, and considering the tremendous talents of many others, I have decided that the person best suited to assume the position of Vice President of the United States is Senator J.D. Vance of the Great State of Ohio. J.D. honorably served our Country in the Marine Corps, graduated from Ohio State University in two years, Summa Cum Laude, and is a Yale Law School Graduate, where he was Editor of The Yale Law Journal, and President of the Yale Law Veterans Association. J.D.’s book, “Hillbilly Elegy,” became a Major Best Seller and Movie, as it championed the hardworking men and women of our Country. J.D. has had a very successful business career in Technology and Finance, and now, during the Campaign, will be strongly focused on the people he fought so brilliantly for, the American Workers and Farmers in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota, and far beyond….As Vice President, J.D. will continue to fight for our Constitution, stand with our Troops, and will do everything he can to help me MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. Congratulations to Senator J.D. Vance, his wife, Usha, who also graduated from Yale Law School, and their three beautiful children. MAGA2024!

Vance rose to national fame with the 2016 publication of his memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” which detailed his journey from his childhood (riddled by drug addiction and abuse), to him going on to earn a Yale Law School degree, which opened doors for him in Silicon Valley — the book was later turned into a 2020 Netflix feature film starring Glenn Close and Amy Adams.

Vance was later elected to the Senate in 2022, with no prior political experience. Once a fierce critic of the former president (notably comparing him to an ‘opioid’ and saying he could be “America’s Hitler)” Vance changed his tune about Trump ahead of his 2022 Senate race, and has since become one of the staunchest champions of the former president’s “Make America Great Again” agenda, particularly on trade, foreign policy and immigration.  Vance went so far as to delete his past controversial tweets about the former president, and secured Trump’s support in Ohio’s GOP primary. Trump noted at a pro-Vance rally during the 2022 midterms: “He’s a guy that said some bad s— about me .. But I have to do what I have to do [by endorsing him for Senate]. We have to pick somebody that can win.”

Senator Vance and his wife, Usha Vance, who works as a litigator, live in Cincinnati with their three children: ages 7, 4 and 2.

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Florida judge dismisses Donald Trump’s classified documents case

On Monday, a federal judge in Florida dismissed the classified documents case against former President Donald Trump, siding with defense lawyers who said the special counsel who filed the charges was illegally appointed by the Justice Department. The criminal case was widely regarded as the most serious of all the legal threats that Trump faced.

According to court documents (SEEN HERE), U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon granted Trump’s dismissal of the case, ruling the appointment of special counsel Jack Smith violates the Appointments Clause of the Constitution. Cannon raised questions about the “broad power” given to Smith, noting that as of September 2023, Smith recorded more than $12.8 million in direct expenses from what Cannon called an “indefinite appropriation.

Smith was appointed in November 2022 to lead the investigation and ensuing prosecution of Trump for allegedly mishandling and refusing to turn over classified documents, including documents related to national security — the former president was indicted on 37 felony charges. Smith also serves as special counsel in the Washington case against Trump over his role in attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election and in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

In her 93-page ruling, Judge Cannon also argued that the Appointments Clause gives Congress a larger role in the appointment of a special counsel, writing: “The Framers gave Congress a pivotal role in the appointment of principal and inferior officers. That role cannot be usurped by the Executive Branch or diffused elsewhere. In the end, it seems the Executive’s growing comfort in appointing ‘regulatory’ special counsels in the more recent era has followed an ad hoc pattern with little judicial scrutiny.”

Cannon also wrote in the order: “The Special Counsel’s position effectively usurps that important legislative authority, transferring it to a Head of Department, and in the process threatening the structural liberty inherent in the separation of powers. If the political branches wish to grant the Attorney General power to appoint Special Counsel Smith to investigate and prosecute this action with the full powers of a United States Attorney, there is a valid means by which to do so.”

In a statement on his social media platform Truth Social, Trump said that the dismissal “should be just the first step” and that the three other cases – which he dubbed “Witch Hunts” – should also be thrown out.

The decision by Cannon is expected to be appealed, and may eventually be overturned by a higher court; however, the judge’s order is a significant legal and political victory for Trump as he prepares to accept the Republican nomination in Milwaukee this week.

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Chris Janson drops the video for ‘All American Guy’

Chris Janson is celebrating summer with his latest track, “All American Guy.”

Chris shares of the song, which he co-wrote: “First and foremost, I want to thank the fans for this one coming out! We posted this song on my social media and the fan response was overwhelming. This one’s for you! Hope everyone has a great all-American summer hanging out with this All-American Guy!”

Janson is currently out on the road this summer playing festivals and venues across the country.

Take a look at the video for ‘All American Guy’ – here.

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