Розділ: Політика

US presidential candidates follow different practices of faith

If you ask the U.S. presidential candidates who’s the most religious, chances are both would say, “I am.” VOA’s senior Washington correspondent Carolyn Presutti looks at the attitudes and practices of President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump toward matters of faith.

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By Polityk | 05/25/2024 | Повідомлення, Політика

Libertarians warily welcome Trump to their convention

Washington — Every four summers in America comes the spectacle of nominating conventions for the two major political parties. This July, Republicans in Milwaukee are set to again place former President Donald Trump at the top of their ticket. The following month in Chicago, Democrats are to do the formalities for their incumbent, President Joe Biden. Less attention is being paid to another gathering that will nominate its presidential candidate Saturday night.

Compared to the behemoth conventions, the Libertarian’s nominating event is a rather low-key affair. Devoid of pageantry, its casually dressed delegates are nonetheless full of passion. And it is taking on new significance this year because it will place a presidential candidate on the ballots of most states.

With polls showing a very tight race between Biden and Trump — and independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr. beginning to poll above 10% in some swing states — a small number of votes for the Libertarian candidate could determine whether it is Biden or Trump who gets a second term.

None of the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidates are household names. They include New Orleans surgeon Charles Ballay; adult entertainment and tech entrepreneur Lars Mapstead; Georgia political activist Chase Oliver; and economist Mike ter Maat. It will be up to the approximately 1,000 delegates to decide who will appear on their national ballot.

“The Libertarian Party — it’s really kind of a big-tent party,” said Nathan Polsky, chairman of the Libertarian Party in Collin County, Texas.

“At the end of the day, you’ve got people that are on the right. You’ve got people that are on the left. But the one thing we all agree on is that the state has too much control and we want to roll back the level of power that the state has. Give it back to the people,” said Polsky, a cowboy hat atop his head as he surveyed the scene inside the Washington Hilton Hotel, site of this year’s Libertarian convention.

An unusual invitation

The party takes its name from the classic liberalism movement that profoundly changed the face of nations from the start of the 18th century, waging political battles in Europe and elsewhere against monarchs, slavery and religious persecution in the pursuit of individual freedom.

The present Libertarian Party in America, however, is facing turmoil inside its big tent.  That ascendant faction, known as the Mises Caucus, generally supports as its presidential candidate a former Marxist scholar named Michael Rectenwald, who professes to a recent rightward shift that embraces radically free-market capitalism.

The Libertarians’ obscure presidential candidates and arcane philosophical infighting is now overshadowed by its unprecedented invitation to the presumptive nominee of another party to address them on Saturday night.

Donald Trump accepted the unusual offer.

“Trump recognizes that this election will be close and that just a few percentage points of the vote could make a real difference in some swing states,” said Seth Masket, a University of Denver political science professor who runs the school’s Center on American Politics.

“It is difficult to see Trump’s agenda as consistent with libertarian ideals of a smaller, less-invasive federal government. However, leaders of the Libertarian Party may find some other issues on which they are aligned,” Masket told VOA.

Some wary Libertarians view Trump wading into their political territory as merely another ploy to gain attention. They caution that the former president, used to addressing enthusiastic supporters at his MAGA rallies, may be surprised to find himself the target of some boos from the politically eclectic crowd.

“It’s a chance for him to speak and get his word out, and he can speak to a bunch of other people who probably would not normally listen to what he has to say,” said construction worker James St. John, a Libertarian delegate from Virginia.  “That’s the main reason he’s doing it.”

Intra-party disagreements

The party is “hardly libertarian anymore,” according to Peter Goettler, president and chief executive of the Cato Institute, the most prominent libertarian think tank in the United States.

“Trump’s appearance this week says as much about the Libertarian Party as it does about him,” writes Goettler in a Washington Post opinion piece. “The party has had its ups and downs and some embarrassing moments throughout its history. But its problems more often arose from amateurism and fractiousness rather than malice, the inevitable effect of being a small third party in a two-party system.”

Addressing the National Rifle Association last week, Trump was pragmatic about courting Libertarians.

“Largely, they have so much of what we have,” Trump told the NRA. “You know, they are also people of common sense, generally speaking. They have a couple of things that are a little different. But we have to join with them, because they get their 3% every year no matter who’s running. And we have to get that 3% because we can’t take a chance on Joe Biden winning.”

Since the Libertarians’ first presidential ticket in 1972, their best performance was in 2016 when former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson received 3.28% of the popular vote.

It is unlikely Trump can capture more than a sliver of that 3%, predicted Vermont Libertarian delegate Anne Lepeltier.

“Do I think he’s going to get the Libertarian vote? No. May some Libertarians vote for him? Surely, yes. Will I be one of them? Also, no,” she told VOA at the party’s convention.

Lepeltier said she is undecided about whether to attend Trump’s speech.

President Biden was also invited to address the Libertarian convention, but he declined the offer. His reelection campaign did not respond to repeated requests from VOA to comment on the Republican nominee’s outreach to the third party, or why Biden turned down equal time at the convention to that of Trump and Kennedy, who addressed the gathering Friday afternoon.

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By Polityk | 05/25/2024 | Повідомлення, Політика

Trump to take center stage at another party’s nominating convention

The two major U.S. political parties — the Democrats and the Republicans — will hold their presidential nominating conventions this summer amid spectacle and media saturation. Less attention is being paid to another gathering, one that will nominate its candidate Saturday. VOA’s chief national correspondent Steve Herman is in Washington with the Libertarian Party’s story.

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By Polityk | 05/24/2024 | Повідомлення, Політика

US elevates security relationship with Kenya at state visit

US President Joe Biden lavished Kenyan President William Ruto with more than just pomp and polish on his first state visit: On Thursday, Biden announced he would make the East African nation a major non-NATO ally – the first sub-Saharan nation to receive that status. The move signals the shifting of US security cooperation to East Africa right as US troops prepare to depart Niger. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from the White House.

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By Polityk | 05/24/2024 | Повідомлення, Політика

Are veterans better off under Biden or Trump?

Under the Biden administration, U.S. veterans have received more than $5.7 billion in expanded health care benefits. But former President Donald Trump argues that veterans were better off when he was in the White House. VOA’s Veronica Balderas Iglesias looks at what the veteran population will likely need from the next president.

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By Polityk | 05/24/2024 | Повідомлення, Політика

Republican National Committee evacuates after receiving blood vials

WASHINGTON — The headquarters of the Republican National Committee in Washington was briefly evacuated Wednesday morning after a suspicious package containing two vials of blood was delivered to the building, the police said. 

The RNC, the parent organization of the Republican Party, is playing a major role in the campaign of former President Donald Trump, who will face Democratic incumbent Joe Biden in the November 5 presidential election.  

The authorities initially closed off one downtown block and directed staff and other personnel to avoid the area. By midmorning, employees were reentering the building and police were leaving the scene, according to a Reuters witness.  

“The source of the package and its contents will be further investigated,” the U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement. 

The RNC did not respond to a request for comment. 

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By Polityk | 05/22/2024 | Повідомлення, Політика

ICC’s effort to seek arrest warrants for leaders harm chances of cease-fire, says Blinken

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told lawmakers Tuesday the International Criminal Court’s decision to seek an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu endangers hopes for a cease-fire in Gaza. Katherine Gypson reports. Saqib Ui Islam contributed.

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By Polityk | 05/22/2024 | Повідомлення, Політика

Pro-Palestinian protesters rally in Washington to mark painful past, present

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of protesters rallied within sight of the U.S. Capitol, chanting pro-Palestinian slogans and voicing criticism of the Israeli and American governments as they marked a painful present — the war in Gaza — and past — the exodus of about 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were forced from what is now Israel when the state was created in 1948. 

About 400 demonstrators braved steady rains to rally on the National Mall on the 76th anniversary of what is called the Nakba, the Arabic word for catastrophe. In January, thousands of pro-Palestinian activists had gathered in the nation’s capital in one of the larger protests in recent memory. 

There were calls in support of Palestinian rights and an immediate end to Israeli military operations in Gaza. “No peace on stolen land” and “End the killings, stop the crime/Israel out of Palestine,” echoed through the crowd. 

Protesters also focused their anger on President Joe Biden, whom they accuse of feigning concern over the death toll in Gaza. 

“Biden Biden, you will see/genocide’s your legacy,” they said. The Democratic president was in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday. 

Reem Lababdi, a George Washington University sophomore who said she was pepper-sprayed by police last week when they broke up an on-campus protest encampment, acknowledged that the rain seemed to hold down the numbers. 

“I’m proud of every single person who turned out in this weather to speak their minds and send their message,” she said. 

This year’s commemoration was fueled by anger over the ongoing siege of Gaza. The latest Israel-Hamas war began when Hamas and other militants stormed into southern Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking an additional 250 hostage. Palestinian militants still hold about 100 captives, and Israel’s military has killed more than 35,000 people in Gaza, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants. 

Speaker Osama Abuirshad, executive director of American Muslims for Palestine, gestured at the Capitol building dome behind him. 

“This Congress does not speak for us. This Congress does not represent the will of the people,” he said. “We’re paying for the bombs. We’re paying for the F-16s and F-35s. And then we do the poor Palestinians a favor and send some food.” 

Speakers also expressed anger over the violent crackdown on multiple pro-Palestinian protest camps at universities across the country. In recent weeks, long-term encampments have been broken up by police at more than 60 schools; just under 3,000 protesters have been arrested. 

The demonstrators marched for several blocks on Pennsylvania and Constitution avenues, with police cars closing the streets ahead of them. One lone counter-protester, waving an Israeli flag, attempted to march near the front of the procession. At one point, one of the demonstrators snatched his flag and ran away. 

With tensions rising, members of the protesters’ “safety team” formed a tight phalanx around the man, both to impede his progress and protect him from the crowd. The standoff was broken up when a police officer intervened, led the man away and told him to go home. 

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By Polityk | 05/19/2024 | Повідомлення, Політика

Biden launches $14M ad campaign to reach young Black voters

The US presidential race is on — and each of the candidates is attempting to pull certain populations away from his competitor. The Black voting bloc in the US has historically voted Democrat. But as VOA’s Carolyn Presutti shows us, the Biden campaign is getting worried.

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By Polityk | 05/18/2024 | Повідомлення, Політика

Upside-down flag at justice’s home another blow for US Supreme Court under fire

WASHINGTON — An upside-down U.S. flag has long been a sign of dire distress and versatile symbol of protest. But in January 2021, when it flew over the home of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, it was largely seen in connection with a specific cause: the false claim by then-President Donald Trump’s supporters that the 2020 election had been marred by fraud.

The revelation this week about the flag flying at Alito’s home was the latest blow to a Supreme Court already under fire as it considers unprecedented cases against Trump and some of those charged with rioting at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Alito has said the flag was briefly flown by his wife amid a dispute with neighbors and he had no part in it. But the incident reported by The New York Times adds to concerns about an institution that’s increasingly seen as partisan and lacking strict ethical guidelines.

The high court is now facing questions about whether the spouses of two of its members question the legitimacy of the 2020 election, and if those justices should be hearing cases related to the January 6 riot and Trump’s role in it.

Justice Clarence Thomas, appointed by President George H.W. Bush, faced calls for recusal after reports that his wife, Virginia Thomas, was involved in efforts to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.

“We’re talking about a fundamental bedrock American value about peaceful transfer of power, about elections,” said Tony Carrk, executive director of Accountable US, a progressive watchdog organization. “It’s just the integrity of the democratic process.”

Several Democrats in Congress, including Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, called for Alito to recuse himself from Trump-related cases. Justices can and do voluntarily recuse themselves, but they make those calls and they aren’t subject to review.

There was no indication Alito would do so. He did not respond to a request for comment sent through the court’s public information office.

While the Supreme Court long went without its own specific code of ethics, an institutional reputation of staying above the political fray has long helped bolster its relatively high levels of public trust. But in the wake of the 2022 decision overturning a nationwide right to abortion — an opinion that was leaked before its release — public trust sank to its lowest level in 50 years. There’s also been sustained criticism over undisclosed trips and gifts from wealthy benefactors to some justices. The high court adopted a code of ethics last year, but it lacks a means of enforcement.

Alito, a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed in 2006, has been one of the most court’s most conservative justices and authored the decision overturning Roe v. Wade. During oral arguments in the election interference case against Trump, he appeared skeptical of Justice Department arguments that past presidents aren’t completely immune from prosecution, and seemed one of the justices most likely to find that prosecutors went too far in bringing obstruction charges against hundreds of participants in the January 6 riot.

Ethical guidelines generally make it clear that judges should recuse themselves in cases where their spouses have financial interest, but the situation is less clear when spouses have a publicly known political point of view, said Arthur Hellman, a professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether Alito was aware of the inverted flag at the time or its links to Trump supporters, said Stephen Gillers, a judicial ethics expert at New York University School of Law.

“I don’t believe Alito knew the flag was flying upside down or if he did know, I find it hard to believe that he knew the relationship to “‘Stop the Steal,'” he said in an email.

Martha-Ann Alito hung the upside-down flag during a dust-up with a neighbor in Alexandria, Virginia, who had a lawn sign referring to Trump with an expletive during a the “heated time” of January 2021, Fox News anchor Shannon Bream said in an online post, citing a conversation with Justice Alito.

Demands for recusals by justices and judges have been part of political disputes over the high court and elsewhere in the legal system.

But while a system exists for penalizing lower-court judges who are accused of conflicts or other wrongdoing, there is no mechanism to sanction Supreme Court justices.

Only Congress can impeach a Supreme Court justice, said Michael Frisch, ethics counsel at Georgetown Law. One justice, Abe Fortas, resigned from the Supreme Court in 1969 amid a controversy over receiving $20,000 from a Wall Street financier. An impeachment, though, has only happened once, to Justice Samuel Chase in the early 1800s. He was later acquitted by the Senate. 

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By Polityk | 05/18/2024 | Повідомлення, Політика

Jury chosen for US Senator Menendez’s corruption trial

NEW YORK — A jury was chosen on Wednesday to determine whether U.S. Senator Robert Menendez broke the law in what federal prosecutors have called a yearslong bribery scheme to benefit the governments of Egypt and Qatar, as well as himself. 

Opening statements in the trial of New Jersey’s senior senator are expected to begin later in the day before U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein in Manhattan. The trial could last into early July. 

Twelve jurors and six alternates were chosen, including an investment banker, a commercial litigator, a retired economist, a doctor and multiple therapists. Jury selection took about 2½, and more than 130 prospective jurors were excused. 

Menendez, 70, faces 16 criminal charges including bribery, fraud, acting as a foreign agent and obstruction. 

He is being tried alongside New Jersey businessmen Wael Hana and Fred Daibes. The senator’s wife, Nadine Menendez, 57, is scheduled to be tried on July 8, with the delay resulting from what her lawyers called a serious medical condition. 

All the defendants have pleaded not guilty. The bribery trial is the senator’s second. His first ended in 2017 in a mistrial after jurors deadlocked. 

Prosecutors are expected to detail what they consider a complex and sordid array of corruption that lasted from 2018 to 2023. 

The Menendezes are accused of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from Hana, Daibes and insurance broker Jose Uribe, in exchange for the senator’s providing political favors and aid to Egypt and Qatar.  

Prosecutors have said the senator promised to help Egypt obtain arms sales and other aid, helped Hana obtain a lucrative monopoly on certifying that meat exports to Egypt conformed to Islamic law, and tried to help Daibes secure millions of dollars from a Qatari investment fund. 

Menendez, a Democrat, also was accused of trying to interfere in a federal criminal case against Daibes in New Jersey and in state criminal cases involving two of Uribe’s associates. 

Prosecutors have said FBI agents found more than $480,000 of cash in the Menendezes’ home, much stashed in clothing, closets and a safe. 

Bribes also included more than $100,000 in gold bars and a $60,000 Mercedes-Benz convertible, according to prosecutors. 

Uribe pleaded guilty in March to bribery and fraud, and he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. 

While Nadine Menendez is not yet on trial, her husband’s lawyers have suggested his defense might include an effort to blame her for withholding information and making him believe his activities were lawful. 

Robert Menendez became a senator in 2006. Before being indicted, he would have been favored in his Democratic-leaning state to win a fourth full Senate term in November. 

But any reelection bid now would be a long shot, reflecting recent polls of voters that show overwhelming disapproval of Menendez’s job performance. 

Menendez has suggested that he would try if acquitted to run as an independent. Only 9% of voters polled in March by Emerson College Polling/PIX11/The Hill said they would prefer him to another Democrat or a Republican. 

The senator has resisted calls to resign made from across the political spectrum but gave up leadership of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee after his indictment last September. 

Stein admonished jurors to ignore media coverage of the trial. “If something comes up,” the judge said, “switch off.” 

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By Polityk | 05/16/2024 | Повідомлення, Політика

Kennedy regarded as potential spoiler in US presidential election

white house — There are few things the presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Joe Biden agree on. One is the presidential candidacy of activist-lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Both the Biden and Trump camps see Kennedy as a potential spoiler in this November’s election.

About half of registered voters have told pollsters that if given the chance, they would replace both Biden and Trump on this year’s ballot.

“If you picture what this country is going to look like in November if either President Trump or President Biden won, the division is going to continue,” Kennedy said at a California campaign event to introduce his running mate, 38-year-old attorney and philanthropist Nicole Shanahan. “The anger, the vitriol, the chaos, the polarization is going to worsen. The only way to end that is through my successful candidacy.”

Neither Kennedy nor Shanahan has ever held elective office.

Kennedy’s father was Robert F. Kennedy, a former U.S. attorney general and a senator, and a major contender in the 1968 Democratic Party presidential primary until he was assassinated. His uncle was President John F. Kennedy, slain while in office in 1963.

“Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is not going to be the next president,” predicts Georgetown University Associate Professor Hans Noel, echoing the consensus of his fellow political scientists.

What worries the Biden and Trump campaigns is the possibility of Kennedy on the ballot in the half-dozen or so swing states where his mere thousands of votes could “change the outcome of that state. Then of course, that tips the direction of that state — if that state is large enough — and the ultimate election is fairly close, which is what we expect. Then, it could change the outcome of the race,” Noel tells VOA.

During a recent appearance on MSNBC, Kennedy declared “I’m going to be on the ballot in every state. I’ll be on the ballot in every state by July.”

Kennedy’s team declined VOA’s request to make the candidate or a surrogate available to respond to questions, saying “the campaign has decided to only grant interviews to U.S press with targeted U.S. audiences at this time.”

The Kennedy clan “is not happy at all that he’s running, and they’ve made a number of efforts to make that very clear,” notes Noel.

Biden, during a recent campaign appearance in the critical swing state of Pennsylvania, was surrounded by Kennedy family members, including the independent candidate’s sister, Kerry Kennedy, who said “We want to make crystal clear our feeling that the best way forward for America is to reelect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to four more years.”

Candidate Kennedy’s beliefs about vaccines, the origins of COVD-19, and the assassinations of his father and uncle have attracted some supporters, including those who said they previously voted for Trump or Biden.

In recent weeks, Kennedy attracted the most media attention not for his positions on any political issue but for a revelation from a 2012 deposition for a divorce. In it, he said cognitive issues that had harmed his earning potential could have been “caused by a worm that got into my brain and ate a portion of it and then died.”

In a social media post after the brain worm wriggled into the headlines across the country, Kennedy quipped, “I offer to eat 5 more brain worms and still beat President Trump and President Biden in a debate.”

Political pundits are split on whether Kennedy poses more of a threat to Trump or Biden.

“Kennedy is much more popular among Republicans than he is among Democrats right now. But that’s probably mostly because he’s a Democrat or former Democrat who says bad things about other Democrats,” said Noel. “And, so, Republicans like to hear that, and they think that sounds interesting. But they’re not going to vote for that over Donald Trump.”

The Republican National Committee, attempting to dissuade conservatives who oppose abortion from considering Kennedy as an alternative to Trump, stated, “There is exactly zero daylight between the abortion extremism of RFK Jr. and Crooked Joe Biden.”

The Democratic National Committee filed a complaint against Kennedy in February with the Federal Election Commission alleging a political action committee was illegally coordinating with the independent candidate’s campaign to get him on additional state ballots.

Biden’s party also portrays Kennedy as a “spoiler for Donald Trump,” according to Matt Corridoni, a DNC spokesperson.

“RFK Jr.’s campaign isn’t building a plan or a strategy to get 270 electoral votes. They’re building one to help Trump return to the Oval Office,” he says.

The New York Times calls Kennedy the “X factor” in this year’s presidential election, noting that the latest public opinion survey, organized by the newspaper The Philadelphia Inquirer and Siena College, shows him polling stronger than any third-party candidate in decades. The poll has Kennedy being supported by about 10% of registered voters in the battleground states, drawing equally from both Biden and Trump.

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By Polityk | 05/15/2024 | Повідомлення, Політика

A Kennedy for president viewed as a potential spoiler

There is little that the presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Joe Biden agree on. One is the presidential candidacy of an activist lawyer with a famous political pedigree: Robert F. Kennedy, Junior. VOA’s chief national correspondent Steve Herman at the White House reports both the Biden and Trump camps see Kennedy as a potential spoiler in this November’s election. Camera and edit: Adam Greenbaum

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By Polityk | 05/15/2024 | Повідомлення, Політика

Results of 2024 US presidential election will reverberate in Africa

Analysts say whichever candidate wins the 2024 U.S. presidential election will face the challenge of trying to restore the country’s influence on the continent of Africa, home to more than 1.2 billion people. VOA White House correspondent Anita Powell reports from Washington.

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By Polityk | 05/12/2024 | Повідомлення, Політика

Trump’s 18-year-old son withdraws from political debut

washington — Donald Trump’s youngest son Barron, 18, on Friday stepped back from his planned political debut, withdrawing as a delegate at the Republican Party convention in July. 

Barron, who has been largely shielded from the public eye, made global headlines this week when it appeared he would be the latest member of the Trump family to enter the political arena. 

But a statement from the office of his mother, Melania Trump, the former president’s third wife, soon put a stop to the convention plan. 

“While Barron is honored to have been chosen as a delegate by the Florida Republican Party, he regretfully declines to participate due to prior commitments,” it said. 

The convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will see Trump’s official crowning as the Republican challenger to Democratic President Joe Biden, with delegates from each state designating their candidate for the November election. 

Barron would have appeared alongside his siblings Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Tiffany Trump as part of the Florida delegation. 

Barron lived in the White House as a child when his father was president but has been fiercely protected from public view. 

Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka, was a senior adviser in his presidency alongside her husband, Jared Kushner, while Don Jr. and Eric are regulars at Trump rallies and on the campaign trail. 

In March, the Republican National Committee elected Eric’s wife, Lara, to a leadership position. 

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By Polityk | 05/11/2024 | Повідомлення, Політика

US Senator Bob Menendez set to face federal corruption trial

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez — the former head of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee — is set to go on trial next week for allegedly using his position for personal gain. Jury selection in the federal corruption case is expected to begin in New York on Monday. Aron Ranen has more from New York.

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By Polityk | 05/10/2024 | Повідомлення, Політика