Fox News 2024-03-25 10:03:25


Deadline arrives for Trump to post $454 million bond in NY AG case

Former President Trump was ordered to post $454 million by the end of Monday following his months-long, non-jury civil trial. But what the 2024 GOP presumptive nominee will do remains unclear amid his ongoing appeal to the state.

The deadline for Trump to post the bond, according to New York Attorney Letitia James’ office, is the end of the day on Monday.

Trump, the 2024 presumptive GOP presidential nominee, and his legal team have appealed and requested a stay on his $454 million civil fraud judgment

TRUMP VOWS TO FIGHT NEW YORK AG CASE ‘ALL THE WAY UP TO THE US SUPREME COURT,’ AS DEADLINE TO POST $454M LOOMS

Trump lawyers on Monday said that “ongoing diligent efforts have proven that a bond in the judgment’s full amount is a ‘practical impossibility,’” amid attempts to approach about 30 surety companies. 

The lawyers said the “enormous magnitude” of the bond requirement, which effectively requires cash reserves approaching $1 billion, is “unprecedented for a private company.” 

NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL TAUNTS TRUMP ABOUT INTEREST HE OWES ON CIVIL FRAUD JUDGMENT

James has pushed back, calling Trump’s request for a stay “extraordinary” and “improper.” James has said Trump should be able to secure the entire value via multiple sureties or offer his real estate holdings as collateral.

But Trump attorney Clifford S. Robert on Thursday sent a letter to the Appellate Division of New York’s Supreme Court, arguing James’ efforts are “unconstitutional.” 

If Trump does not post the bond by the deadline, James is expected to begin taking steps to enforce the judgment. 

Could James begin seizing Trump properties?

Trump’s real estate would not automatically be turned over to the state. James, instead, would begin to file liens on his property if Trump doesn’t post the bond. James could attempt to foreclose through the liens, but each party is eligible to object and request the court stay or stop James’ efforts. Seizing or placing liens on Mar-a-Lago and other Trump properties outside of New York would be more challenging for James.

James could also begin freezing Trump’s bank accounts starting Tuesday, having sheriffs or marshal’s offices order Trump’s banks to freeze and turn over his money.

Trump has vowed to fight the case “all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.” 

In an exclusive interview with Fox News Digital on Friday, Trump said he can afford to post bond, but is pushing with his legal team to appeal the ruling altogether. 

Trump said he has nearly $500 million in cash. His company, Trump Media & Technology Group, the parent company of Truth Social, is set to become public after a merger Monday. The company will trade on the Nasdaq as “DJT.” 

Trump owns more than 78 million shares of the stock, valued at nearly $4 billion. 

“That doesn’t mean I’m going to give money to a rogue and incompetent judge – the puppet of a corrupt attorney general who’s failing with violent crime and migrant crime and whose only purpose in life is attempting to get Trump,” Trump told Fox News Digital, referring to New York Judge Arthur Engoron and James. 

TRUMP SAYS HE HAS NEARLY $500M IN CASH, SUGGESTS HE COULD AFFORD BOND IN NEW YORK AG CASE, SLAMS ‘HACK’ JUDGE

Trump said Engoron “openly and hostilely disrespects the decision of the appellate division, which ruled in my favor.” 

“Hopefully they will set the record straight – he has already been overturned four times on this case,” Trump said. “A record. 

Trump vows to fight ‘all the way’

But Trump vowed to fight the judgment through the court system. 

“I’ll fight this all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary,” Trump told Fox News Digital. “They can’t take away your property before you’ve had a chance to appeal the decision of a Trump-hating, incompetent judge who has been overturned more than any judge in the state.” 

Trump added: “The business community in New York is being devastated by this decision and businesses are fleeing New York – never to return, because they don’t want this to happen to them. In the meantime, violent crime is flourishing.” 

Engoron’s ruling came after a months-long non-jury trial stemming from James’ years-long investigation. James, when campaigning to become attorney general, vowed to “get Trump.” 

NEW YORK APPEALS COURT ALLOWS TRUMP, SONS TO CONTINUE RUNNING BUSINESS, DENIES REQUEST TO DELAY PAYMENT

“We’re definitely gonna sue him, we’re gonna be a real pain in the a–,” James once told a supporter on video.

Engoron ruled that Trump and other defendants were liable for “persistent and repeated fraud,” “falsifying business records,” “issuing false financial statements,” “conspiracy to falsify false financial statements,” “insurance fraud” and “conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.” 

The judge also barred Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump from serving as an officer or director of any New York corporation or legal entity in New York for two years. 

Engoron also “permanently” barred defendants Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, and former corporate controller Jeffrey McConney from “serving in the financial control function of any New York corporation or similar business entity registered and/or licensed in New York State” and as a director of any New York corporation or other legal entity in New York for three years. 

An appeals court overturned Engoron’s ruling to allow Trump and his sons to continue running the family business as they appeal the decision.

James initially brought the lawsuit accusing Trump and the Trump Organization of fraudulent business practices. The court proceedings were contentious, with Engoron repeatedly placing Trump under a partial gag order to prevent him from criticizing court staff.

Trump dismissed the trial as a “witch hunt” throughout the process, accusing both Engoron and James of serving as political operatives for Democrats. Trump’s legal team also repeatedly blasted the lack of a jury in the trial.

TRUMP BARRED FROM OPERATING BUSINESS, ORDERED TO PAY OVER $350 MILLION IN NY CIVIL FRAUD CASE

“There was never an option to choose a jury trial,” a Trump spokesperson told Fox News Digital. “It is unfortunate that a jury won’t be able to hear how absurd the merits of this case are and conclude no wrongdoing ever happened.”

Trump and his family denied any wrongdoing, with the former president saying his assets had been undervalued. Trump’s legal team insisted that his financial statements had disclaimers, and made it clear to banks that they should conduct their own assessments.

Throughout the trial, Trump attorneys brought witnesses, including former Deutsche Bank top executives, who testified the banks sought additional business from Trump, whom they viewed as a “whale of a client.”

Trump’s defense also brought in expert witnesses, including New York University accounting professor Eli Bartov, who reviewed the Trump financial statements at issue in the case and said he found no evidence of accounting fraud.

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Bartov testified last month that Trump’s financial statements did not violate accounting principles, and he suggested that anything problematic – like a huge year-to-year leap in the estimated value of his Trump Tower penthouse – was simply an error.

“My main finding is that there is no evidence whatsoever of any accounting fraud,” Bartov testified. Trump’s financial statements, he said, “were not materially misstated.”

FOX Business correspondent Lydia Hu contributed reporting.

Marco Rubio gives stunning response when asked if he would serve as Trump’s VP

ABC News host Jonathan Karl pressed Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Sunday on why he said it would be an “honor” to serve as presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump’s vice president, bluntly asking, “really?”

“There was some reporting this week, that you are possibly under consideration to be Donald Trump’s running mate. I don’t put a lot of stock in this reporting right now, we’re early, but you said it would be an honor to be offered a spot on this ticket. Really?” Karl asked. 

Rubio, R-Fla., said anybody who was given the opportunity to serve as Vice President should be honored to do it “if you’re in public service.”

“I’m in the Senate because I want to serve the country. Being vice president is an important way to serve the country. I’ve also been clear. I’ve never talked to Donald Trump or talked to anybody on his team or family or inner circle about vice president. That’s the decision he’s going to make. He’s got plenty of really good people to pick from,” Rubio added.

TRUMP REVEALS VP SHORTLIST INCLUDES DESANTIS, RAMASWAMY, NOEM, DONALDS, GABBARD

Karl said the reason he was asking was because of what happened to former Vice President Mike Pence. 

“Look what happened to the last guy. I mean, a mob stormed the Capitol, literally calling to hang Mike Pence. Trump defended those chants of ‘Hang Mike Pence,’” Karl said.

Rubio said the U.S. was a better place when Trump was president before the two went back and forth over who was to blame for the Russian-Ukraine war. 

“Can we take a trip down memory lane for a second?” Karl asked, before playing a clip of Rubio arguing that Trump was a “con artist” in 2016, when he was running against Trump for that year’s nomination.

Rubio pushed back as Karl told him he could have played more clips of Rubio criticizing the former president, which could have also included him saying Trump was dangerous and not trustworthy with the nuclear codes. The feeling was mutual; Trump lambasted Rubio as “Little Marco” and wound up pushing out the establishment favorite by routing him in the primary in his home state of Florida.

TRUMP VP AUDITIONS: SCOTT AND OTHERS HIT THE TRAIL ON BEHALF OF FORMER PRESIDENT

“Why didn’t you play the clip of Kamala Harris basically insinuating that Joe Biden was a segregationist?” Rubio asked, noting the memorable attack by her before she came Biden’s running mate.

Rubio said again, that at the time, he was campaigning for president against Trump.

Trump noted about half a dozen potential running mate choices during a Fox News town hall in February. The list included Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, and former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a Democrat turned independent.

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Rubio said Thursday that being offered the chance to be a presidential running mate would be “an incredible opportunity to serve our country.”

“If anybody has been offered the chance to be vice president, they should consider that an honor and an incredible opportunity to serve our country,” Rubio said Thursday, according to Politico. “But that hasn’t happened, I haven’t spoken to anybody on his campaign about it. Never once have I talked to [Trump] about vice presidency.”

“We’ve had a great working relationship — we ran against each other, so at one point we were competitors — but since 2016, especially when he was president, we worked really well together,” the senator continued, according to Politico.

Fox News’ Timothy Nerozzi contributed to this report. 

Woman rejects ‘worst name ever’ for child, pleads with others for ‘sanity’ check

In a post that’s gone viral — with over 6,300 reactions and nearly 4,000 comments in a matter of hours on Sunday — a woman on Reddit asked other people for their help in solving a personal dilemma.

She titled her post, “AITA for rejecting the worst name ever for our offspring?”

“So, my husband (38M) and I (36F) are expecting our first child, a bouncing baby girl due in a few months,” she wrote this weekend on Reddit’s “AITA” page (“Am I the a–hole”). 

THESE SPRING-INSPIRED BABY NAMES ARE RISING IN POPULARITY, FROM LILY TO MAGNOLA AND BEYOND

“We were both over the moon when we found out the gender, but now things have gotten … complicated, to say the least,” she said.

She said that when “we first started talking about names, the ‘boy name’ was immediately decided: Stuart Jr., after my husband. No problem there — it’s a classic name and carries family meaning. But, for a girl, things got murky.”

She added, “My husband suggested Stuarta.”

The user named “Beginning_Date1924” went on, “Apparently, his logic is that since Stuart ends in ‘t,’ we can just add an ‘a’ to make it feminine.”

THE SURPRISING BABY NAMES THAT MAY BE GOING EXTINCT IN 2024

The mom-to-be continued, “I tried explaining why that doesn’t quite work, how it sounds more like a furniture brand than a human name, how she’d be endlessly correcting people and explaining its origin.”

 “It sounds more like a furniture brand than a human name.”

But she said her husband is adamant, however — insisting the name would “honor” him “while giving our daughter a unique name.”

LOS ANGELES-BASED BABY NAME CONSULTANT GOES VIRAL FOR SHOWING PARENTS HOW TO MODERNIZE ‘OLD-LADY’ NAMES

The Reddit poster said she’s already tried suggesting some alternatives.

She said she’s tried including “feminine names that maybe share a similar sound or meaning to Stuart, names he’s mentioned liking in the past, [or] even just going back to the drawing board entirely.”

Still no luck. 

“He’s fixated,” she wrote, about the name he likes. 

“Is there any compromise I haven’t considered? Help a soon-to-be mama out!”

The woman added in her post, “I love my husband dearly, and I understand wanting to honor family. But I can’t imagine subjecting our daughter to a lifetime of awkward stares and endless questions about her ‘unusual’ name.”

TRENDIEST BABY NAMES OF 2023 REVEALED AS LIAM IS KNOCKED OFF NO. 1 SPOT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN YEARS

She said as well, “I also worry about potential bullying and the impact it could have on her self-esteem.”

She asked others on the platform, “Am I the jerk for refusing to budge on Stuarta? Is there any compromise I haven’t considered? Help a soon-to-be mama out!”

She added in a summary for others, “Husband wants to name our daughter after himself in a really, really bad way. I think it’s terrible and will set up [our daughter] for a lifetime of awkwardness.”

She also said she was “looking forward” to other people’s thoughts — and hoping for “some sanity checks” as well.

BABY NAMES THAT RULED THE MILLENNIUM: KNOW ANY JACOBS OR EMILYS?

Fox News Digital reached out to a psychologist for thoughts on the couple’s challenge.

Said Dr. Kathy Nickerson, a licensed clinical psychologist based in California, “[The woman’s] feelings are valid and [the husband’s] feelings are valid. She is completely entitled to not want to name her daughter Stuarta and he is entitled to feel like that would be a lovely name that honors him.”

“This is a name that they will all have to live with for a long time.”

Nickerson added, “The critical thing in situations like this is to honor the other person’s feelings by validating what you hear that makes sense and offer some type of compromise.”

She also said in emailed comments to Fox News Digital, “Perhaps they could name the baby Arta and the inside family story could be that this is a derivation of Stuart. They could also bring in Stuart as the middle name.”

OLD HOLLYWOOD-INSPIRED BABY NAMES MAY BE RISING IN POPULARITY: ‘NOSTALGIC TREND’

Either way, she said, “I’d encourage both of them to compromise without agreeing to something they feel strongly against. This is a name that they will all have to live with for a long time and it’s important for the relationship, as well as for the baby, that is a name that doesn’t rub either one of them the wrong way.”

Comments, meanwhile, continued to come in from others on the online site.

The mom-to-be is not wrong for the way she feels, wrote “pollythepony1993” in the top-upvoted post on the site.

“Naming a child is a ‘two yes’ and ‘one no’ situation,” this poster wrote. “Means you need two times yes for a name to be it and one no to make sure that name is not the name you choose. Works both ways, if you ask me.”

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Added this individual, “Also, I am not a fan of naming the first name of a child after a parent. Because then the child will always be compared to their parents and need to fight harder to be their own person.”

The user also said, “I have less problems with the middle name being connected to someone else (parents, grandparents) because that is only a formal name and not used in everyday business.”

“Whose last name will the baby get? His as well?”

The user further asked, “Why is he dead set on Stuarta? I mean, there are so many beautiful names but he only wants to name his daughter after him? Why not after the mother? … It is a bit misogynistic to only want to name the baby after the father. Whose last name will the baby get? His as well?”

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Said this same person, “Maybe you could find a way, like name the baby with the same first letter as your husband (Stella, Sally, etc). Make sure the baby has a middle name (if she shares the same last name as her father). Because it will be annoying for simple things like mail and stuff.”

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Activists demand ‘White churches’ pay billions for reparations to Black community

The Boston Task Force on Reparations called on “White churches” to step up and pay the Black community back for racial inequities that root back to the trans-Atlantic slave trade, according to reports.

The Boston Globe reported that Black and White clergy members met in Roxbury for a press conference intended to be held outside, though it was instead held in the basement of the Resurrection Lutheran Church on Saturday because of rain.

The commission was established through a 2022 Boston City Council ordinance and made up of 10 members, including two from the youth community.

In February, the Boston activists called for the city to “fully commit to writing checks” and for a $15 billion payout since the city’s wealth was built on slavery.

BOSTON ACTIVISTS CALL FOR $15 BILLION IN REPARATIONS, SAYS THE CITY MUST ‘FULLY COMMIT TO WRITING CHECKS’

“We call sincerely and with a heart filled with faith and Christian love for our White churches to join us and not be silent around this issue of racism and slavery and commit to reparations,” Rev. Kevin Peterson said. 

Peterson is a minister and is trying to rename Faneuil Hall because of its ties to the slave trade in the 18th century.

“We point to them in Christian love to publicly atone for the sins of slavery and we ask them to publicly commit to a process of reparations where they will extend their great wealth — tens of millions of dollars among some of those churches — into the Black community,” said Peterson.

CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY ARGUES CASH PAYMENTS TO DESCENDANTS OF SLAVES ‘RECOGNIZE THE HARM DONE’ FROM SLAVERY

Sixteen religious leaders signed the letter and sent it to several churches in the Boston area, seeking support for reparations.

Specifically, in a letter obtained by the Globe, the group calls on churches to provide cash payments while also helping to create affordable housing and back new financial institutions “in Black Boston.”

The letter was reportedly sent to Arlington Street Church, Trinity Church and Old South Church in Back Bay, King’s Chapel in downtown Boston. All four churches were established in the 17th and 18th centuries, Peterson told the publication.

During Saturday’s press conference, Rev. John E. Gibbons of Arlington Street Church told reporters multiple churches are researching their history and discussing reparations.

DESCENDANTS OF ENSLAVED WHO BUILT MISSOURI UNIVERSITY WANT OVER $70 BILLION FOR UNPAID SLAVE LABOR

“That is not enough,” Gibbons said. “Somehow we need to move with some urgency toward action and so part of what we’re doing is to prod and encourage white churches to go beyond what they have done thus far.”

King’s Chapel senior minister Rev. Joy Fallon said the congregation at the church is establishing a memorial to people who were enslaved while also working to establish a fund to support social justice and reconciliation.

The Globe reported last year that the church paid for research which identified 219 people who were owned by ministers and members of the congregation.

Fallon, as well as representatives from Trinity Church and Old South Church did not immediately respond to inquiries from Fox News Digital about the reparations.

In February, the commission held a news conference, where Peterson demanded full monetary compensation for wages and lost lives through slavery and anti-Black institutional oppression.

During the conference, Peterson reportedly advocated for the $15 billion to come in three distinct types of payments.

SAN FRANCISCO’S PROPOSED REPARATIONS PLAN COULD COST CITY $100 BILLION: REPORT

One form of payment would be $5 billion of cash payments to Boston’s Black residents, another would be $5 billion to invest in new financial institutions, and the remaining $5 billion would go toward addressing the racial disparities in education and anti-crime measures.

The amount is more than three times the annual budget in Boston, which was set at $4.28 billion for fiscal year 2024.

Before the press conference last month, Peterson released a statement claiming the “debt must be paid in dollars.”

On Saturday, Danielle Williams, the director of a social justice group called Prophetic Resistance Boston, reportedly said her great-great-grandmother was taken into slavery in Africa and shipped to North Carolina.

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Williams also spoke about the holy tradition of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet.

“Black people, the descendants of slavery, have been washing the feet of our oppressors for well over 400 years,” Williams reportedly said. “Now it’s time for you to wash our feet. The descendants of slavery, we want our reparations. We want it now.”

Fox News Digital’s Joshua Q. Nelson contributed to this report.

Biden vows to forge ahead with student loan handouts, has 4 words for all his critics

President Biden is vowing to forge ahead with his plan to forgive billions of dollars in student loans, just months ahead of his expected 2024 presidential election rematch with Donald Trump.

Despite the U.S. Supreme Court previously serving as a roadblock for such handouts to loan borrowers, the president is again vowing to forgive the borrowed sums.

“From day one, I promised to fix broken student loan programs and make sure higher education is a ticket to the middle class, not a barrier to opportunity,” Biden wrote on X.

He added: “I’m not backing down.”

BIDEN PLANS EVEN BIGGER STUDENT LOAN HANDOUT, DUMPING THE BILL ON YOU

While some college students have praised the free money, the move has drawn criticism from many conservatives. 

Biden’s repeated attempts to give thousands of dollars to each borrower are akin to “buying votes,” according to South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.

“He’s buying votes,” Noem argued in Feb. on “FOX & Friends.” “That’s exactly what he’s doing. The timing of this, to follow through on what he has threatened to do for so long, is incredibly hypocritical of him to say that he cares about this country and continue to accumulate debt and hand out money to get himself re-elected.”

She added: “I just hope everybody in America realizes that we’re still spending more money than what we bring in in this country. So when he does stuff like this, he’s literally borrowing this money from China and then giving it to people so that they will support him and put him back in the White House, so he can continue his reign of control.”

“So, it’s really the worst of the worst and Americans are waking up to it with all these crises we have going on at the border, our national security, people’s gas and groceries being unaffordable,” Noem continued.

BIDEN BRAGS SUPREME COURT ‘DIDN’T STOP’ HIM FROM CANCELING STUDENT LOANS: HE’S ‘HAPPY TO BREAK THE LAW’

In Feb., Biden announced the Savings on Valuable Education (SAVE) plan and asserted that the Supreme Court would not stop him from canceling student debt.

The plan cancels debt for enrolled borrowers who have been in repayment for at least 10 years and hold $12,000 or less in student loan debt. Those with larger debts will receive relief after an additional year of payments for every additional $1,000 they borrowed.

The president said he was canceling federal student loans for nearly 153,000 borrowers enrolled in the plan. More borrowers are now eligible to have their monthly payments reduced to $0, and many will qualify for lower payments compared to other repayment plans.

“Early in my term, I announced a major plan to provide millions of working families with debt relief for their college student debt,” Biden said at the Julian Dixon Library in Culver City, California. “Tens of millions of people in debt were literally about to be canceled in debts. But my MAGA Republican friends in the Congress, elected officials and special interests stepped in and sued us. And the Supreme Court blocked it. But that didn’t stop me.”

Months earlier, in June 2023, the Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision that federal law does not allow Biden’s Secretary of Education to cancel more than $430 billion in student loan debt.

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Biden said at the time that his administration would continue to push for relief for students.

Fox News’ Lindsay Kornick contributed to this report.

Another music icon returns to Spotify after Joe Rogan podcast boycott

Joni Mitchell’s music is back on Spotify after she pulled her songs from the streaming platform in protest two years ago. 

Last week, the folk musician’s catalog of 70s classics appeared on Spotify after the artist boycotted the platform in 2022 alongside Neil Young.

The 80-year-old starlet followed Young after he left the digital service in protest against Spotify’s distribution of the Joe Rogan Podcast, which they both claimed spread false information about COVID-19.

NEIL YOUNG ANNOUNCES RETURN TO SPOTIFY AFTER PULLING MUSIC OVER JOE ROGAN PODCAST

In a 2022 open letter to the platform on her website, Mitchell wrote that the podcast was “promoting baseless conspiracy theories’ with a ‘history of broadcasting misinformation, particularly regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.”

She continued to state her opinion, writing that Rogan’s show propagated “false” and “harmful assertions” that enabled Spotify to “damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals.”

“I’ve decided to remove all my music from Spotify. Irresponsible people are spreading lies that are costing people their lives. I stand in solidarity with Neil Young and the global scientific and medical communities on this issue,” the folk singer added in a statement.

JENNY MCCARTHY SAYS HUSBAND DONNIE WAHLBERG ‘STILL GIVES ME BUTTERFLIES’ WITH WEEKLY ROMANTIC GESTURE

Rogan responded to both Young and Mitchell on Instagram shortly after they announced their departure from Spotify, saying”I’m interested in finding out what is correct, and also finding out how people come to these conclusions and what the facts are.”  

Mitchell’s recent return to the platform comes shortly after Young decided to add his music back to Spotify earlier this month. 

In a statement reported by People announcing his return, Young referred to Spotify as the ‘#1 streaming of low res music in the world’ 

TIKTOK VIDEO OF FAN AT ZACH BRYAN CONCERT IN CANADA GOES VIRAL, AMASSING OVER 10 MILLION VIEWS

“My decision comes as music services Apple and Amazon have started serving the same disinformation podcast features I opposed at SPOTIFY,” the “Heart of Gold” vocalist wrote. 

He continued, “I cannot just leave Apple and Amazon, like I did with Spotify, because my music would have very little streaming outlet to music lovers at all. So I have returned to Spotify, in sincere hopes that Spotify sound quality will improve and people will be able to hear and feel all the music as we made it.”

Mitchell has yet to comment on her music’s return to Spotify.

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Brutally violent Mexican cartel draining Americans’ life savings without a trace of vitality

A Mexican drug cartel known for gruesome public slaughtering drained $40 million from Americans, and stole many elderly victims’ life savings without a drop of blood in 2022, according to FBI stats.

It’s part of a rapidly evolving timeshare scam run by the Jalisco New Generation cartel (CJNG) that is becoming more intricate, and is now estimated to be stealing hundreds of millions from Americans each year.

It started as a small operation in the Puerto Vallarta area and expanded to popular tourist spots like Cancun, according to the U.S. Treasury, which issued sanctions against seven fugitives and 19 Mexican companies connected to the scam last April. 

“CJNG uses extreme violence and intimidation to control the timeshare network, which often targets elder U.S. citizens and can defraud victims of their life savings,” Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen said in November. “The Treasury remains committed to the Administration’s whole-of-government effort, in coordination with our partners in Mexico, to disrupt CJNG’s revenue sources and ability to traffic deadly drugs like fentanyl.”   

TROPICAL RESORTS POPULAR WITH AMERICANS NO LONG ‘OFF LIMITS’ FOR CARTEL KILLERS: ‘THE RULES HAVE CHANGED’

The Courier Journal followed a decade-long journey through the cartel’s layered scheme that cost one man just shy of $1.8 million. 

The initial lure was a healthy profit from his timeshare. After years of being scammed, the cartel came back with promises of reimbursement from a seemingly legitimate Mexican lawyer filing a class action lawsuit that kept the man hooked. 

KIDNAPPING IN MEXICO USED TO BE A BUSINESS. NOW THERE’S ‘NO CODE’ CURBING RUTHLESSNESS: EXPERT

The callers, whom the news report noted spoke perfect, accent-free English, continued their ceaseless pursuit for decades, with years-long stretches of silence. 

By the end of the situation involving just this one victim, there were 99 wire transfers, more than 150 people involved and at least 12 Mexican bank accounts, according to the Courier Journal.

“It’s almost like an addiction,” said Stephen, who asked the Louisville newspaper to only identify him by his first name because he didn’t want his employer to know. “I kept thinking the next person was going to help me get out of it.”

The cartel scams hit FBI’s radar

The FBI said in a March 2023 warning that owners of timeshares in Mexico are being targeted at an alarming rate. 

In 2022, the bureau received over 600 complaints with losses of about $39.6 million in 2022 from victims contacted by scammers in Mexico. 

The FBI did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment and updated information.

AMERICAN KIDNAPPED IN MEXICO, LEFT TO DIE IN JUNGLE WITH EYES, WRISTS TAPED

“The sales representatives often use high-pressure sales tactics to add a sense of urgency to the deal,” the FBI said. “Timeshare owners who agree to sell are told they must pay an upfront fee to cover anything from listing and advertising fees to closing costs. 

“Once the fee is paid, timeshare owners report the company becomes evasive – calls go unanswered, numbers are disconnected, and websites are inaccessible, or the company creates additional fees that victims are required to pay before the real estate transaction becomes final.”

Years go by, and some victims – like in Stephen’s case, which was detailed in the Courier Journal’s report – the scammers act like they are from bogus recovery companies or lawyers dangling promises of restitution. 

Mexican Army dismantles small operation after US Treasury sanctions, Mexican workers slaughtered

A month after the FBI’s warning – on April 27, 2023 – the U.S. Treasury levied its first of three sanctions in a seven-month span as part of a federal crackdown on the cartel’s scam. 

Last November, the treasury hit the cartel’s fraud network for the third time, with a fresh set of sanctions against three Mexican criminals and 13 Mexican companies, bringing the total to 40.

SINALOA CARTEL MEMBERS SEND PICS OF DEAD MEXICAN POLICE AND WITNESSES: ‘THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS TO SCUM/SNITCHES’

The sanctions froze assets that are in the U.S. and banned American citizens and businesses from dealing with any of the listed companies and fugitives. 

Many of the sanctions’ targets are located in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, which is one of CJNG’s strategic strongholds for drug trafficking

“The CJNG cartel, a leading trafficker of narcotics like illicit fentanyl into the United States, generates substantial revenue for its multi-faceted criminal enterprise through its timeshare fraud network,” Yellen said in a November 2023 statement.

WATCH: VIDEO OF SHOOTOUT BETWEEN CARTELS AND MEXICAN AUTHORITIES

The cartel’s lucrative criminal enterprise that rivals the drug trade doesn’t come without bloodshed to Mexican citizens. 

Hacked-up body parts of at least eight Mexican workers, who were all under 30 and tried to quit jobs at an illegal call center, were found in plastic bags in June 2023, The Associated Press reported. 

MEXICAN OFFICIALS SAY 45 BAGS OF HUMAN REMAINS RESEMBLE MISSING CALL CENTER

“Best guess is these kids had decided they wanted out of the business,” a U.S. official told AP under the condition of anonymity, adding the cartel was “sending a message to other defectors.”

“It appears this has happened before,” the official added.

On Dec. 29, 2023, Mexican law enforcement and the Mexican Army dismantled illegal internet antennas in Buenavista, according to the attorney general of the Mexican state of Michoacán. 

“Illegal internet antennas were disabled, used by a criminal cell for commercial purposes, under threats and excessive costs to the population,” the Mexican Attorney General’s Office said in a translated Facebook post

“During the incident, a person allegedly connected to the crimes was arrested.”

But that’s virtually nothing to the far-reaching operation that’s grown in size, complexity and intricacy since 2010. 

That’s a raindrop in the ocean

The Courier Journal reporter, Scott Fisher, talked about the cartel scams during a March 13 podcast called “The Excerpt.”

“According to U.S. government officials that I spoke to, we’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars every single year,” Fisher said. 

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He gave a brief history of the scam, which he said started as a new criminal business venture in 2010, when someone connected to the cartel pitched this idea. 

“Being a cartel that is very agile, (the cartel) said, ‘Absolutely.’ And they took over call center after call center, forcing these individuals to work for them. And not only do that, but teach them how to do this and how to do it better and better,” Fisher said. 

The scheme itself is “shockingly sophisticated,” according to the reporter, who’s part of the USA Today Network. 

“I mean, we’re talking about individuals, they hire people who speak perfect English in these call centers and they provide what appear to be very legitimate documents,” he said on the podcast. “And these scams can develop incredible ways. 

“First, as I mentioned, it can start out with these fees that are required by say the Mexican government, capital gains fees. All of this is in the tens of thousands often, and it just keeps going, but you can have your money as soon as you pay. And that is what keeps them on the hook.”

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And they stay off Mexican and U.S. law enforcement’s radar by constantly dropping and creating new shell companies, he said. 

Then there’s the stigma of even reporting the scam and admitting to being duped, according to Fisher, which likely means the reported number of cases is just a fraction of the whole operation. 

The U.S. government – as outlined by the FBI bulletin and the sanctions imposed by the federal Treasury – are aware of the scam, which Fisher said mostly targets older Americans, and are “following the money.”

But the cartel seems to always be a step ahead. 

In Mexico, “little seems to be done,” Fisher said. “I was told that Mexican banks could do much more to flag these suspect payments that are made to these accounts, to these fraudulent shell companies. 

“And in Mexico, there seems to be little motivation to put significant resources toward stopping this scamming of American citizens.”

What Fisher described is in line with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his administration’s policy to either deny or downplay cartel violence and criminal activity.

He omitted any reference to drugs, crime or the cartels during his September 2023 State of the Union address. 

Then he went after a New York Times reporter after publishing a story in February about an investigation into alleged connections with the cartels. He went as far as revealing the reporter’s contact details, including her telephone number. 

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In April 2023, Obrador ripped the U.S. for an investigation into the Sinaloa Cartel, calling it “abusive, arrogant interference that should not be accepted under any circumstances,” according to a report by the America First Policy Institute (AFPI).

He also said last March that his government was “not going to permit any foreign government to intervene in our territory, much less that a government’s armed forces intervene,” Al Jazeera reported.

Obrador’s office could not immediately be reached for comment.

FBI’s tips and where to report if you’ve been victimized

In the FBI’s March 2023 bulletin, the bureau released four safety tips to protect yourself and then what to do if you’ve been victimized: 

  • Be cautious of uninvited telephone calls, texts or emails from anyone interested in your timeshare.
  • Research all entities you are in contact with, contact offices independently to confirm if you are speaking to a representative of their company, and enlist the help of a real estate agent or lawyer you trust.
  • Scammers will use tactics such as pressure and time-sensitive offers.
  • Know that when opportunities appear “too good to be true,” they often are.

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If you or anyone you know has fallen victim to a timeshare related scam, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov. Be sure to include any available information including:

  • Emails, phone numbers, domains, company names.
  • Transaction information even if no funds were lost.
  • Details regarding the interaction with the scammers.

Fox News Digital’s Emmett Jones and Mitch Picasso contributed to this report. 

Governor’s wife drops out of race for embattled Democrat’s seat, blasts Trump on way out

Tammy Murphy, the wife of New Jersey governor Phil Murphy, suspended her bid for U.S. Senate on Sunday, after running a campaign that critics claimed was nepotistic.  

The first lady of the Garden State had been vying to win the Democratic primary for the upcoming U.S. Senate election, in light of Sen. Bob Menendez’s federal corruption charges. On Thursday, Menendez indicated that he would not run as a Democrat and entertained the idea of running as an independent.

Murphy’s main contender in the race was Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., who has been in office since 2019. In a video posted on X, she explained the “enormous challenges” that face the state of New Jersey. 

“After many busy, invigorating, and yes, challenging months. I am suspending my Senate campaign today,” Murphy said.

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The New Jersey Democrat claimed that her main reason for leaving the race involved her desire to not “wag[e] a very divisive and negative campaign.”

“With Donald Trump on the ballot and so much at stake for our nation, I will not in good conscience waste resources tearing down a fellow Democrat instead of talking about process and politics,” Murphy said. “My campaign has been about solutions for families and a vision for the next generation.”

The first lady also criticized former President Donald Trump in her speech, calling him a “dangerous threat” and encouraging Democrats to unify the country.  

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“As we face grave, dangerous threats on the national level, thanks to Donald Trump and far-right extremists, it’s time to unify, not divide,” she added. “I will now focus entirely on reelecting President Biden and ensuring Democratic victories up and down the ballot all across New Jersey.”

“I look forward to partnering with you to ensure our communities are affordable, our rights and freedoms protected, and our futures safe and secure.”

Murphy’s critics have given her flack for running a campaign that appeared nepotistic, considering her husband’s position as New Jersey governor. Days after the first-time candidate announced her Senate bid, she was endorsed by four New Jersey congressmen. 

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Fox News Digital reached out to the Kim and Murphy campaigns for comment.

Fox News Digital’s Bradford Betz contributed to this report.

Vulnerable Democrat’s voting record comes back to haunt him after latest ad backfire

Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, widely viewed as one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the Senate this November, released an ad on Friday touting his strength on the immigration issue which drew pushback from Republicans and highlighted seemingly contradictory positions from his voting record.

“Every day, 12 Ohioans die of a drug overdose,” Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin said in the Brown ad released on Friday before two other Ohio sherrifs joined in.

“And some of the most dangerous drugs are the ones brought here illegally,” Summit County Sheriff Kandy Fatheree continued. “It’s Sherrod Brown who sponsored the law signed by President Trump to crackdown on illegal drugs being smuggled across the border,” Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla Jr. said. 

The 30-second ad went on to say that Brown is “working to punish” Chinese companies and Mexican cartels that are bringing fentanyl into the country.

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“Sherrod Brown has always stood up for us,” Abdalla added before Baldwin says, “He’s fighting to keep our communities safe.”

With immigration expected to be a main focus of the Ohio Senate election, Fox News Digital reviewed Brown’s voting record and found several examples of votes against drug enforcement at the border. 

In August 2022, Brown voted against an amendment that would have sent $500 million to Border Patrol to detect drugs at the border that would have provided the funds needed to install hundreds of millions of unused fentanyl scanning equipment, the acting CBP commissioner said at the time. 

Brown’s vote proved to be a consequential one as the amendment failed on a 50-50 vote.

In March 2021, Brown voted against an amendment sending $300 million in COVID stimulus funds to CBP for narcotic and opioid detection. That effort failed in the Senate 48-50 with two senators not voting.

Additionally, Brown voted multiple times against legislation that would have cracked down on illegal immigration.

In May 2019, Brown was an original co-sponsor of the End Mass Deportation Act rescinding a Trump executive order that would have prioritized the removal of some criminal illegal immigrants and allowed DHS to withhold federal funds from sanctuary jurisdictions.

Shortly after arriving in Washington, D.C., Brown voted against an amendment aimed at ensuring illegal immigrants could not receive Social Security benefits for fraudulent work while also capping student loans repayments at 15% of discretionary income.

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On another amendment during the COVID pandemic, Brown voted against a March 2021 move from GOP Sen. Tom Cotton that would have instructed the Senate Finance Committee to ensure that COVID funds be restricted from sanctuary jurisdictions. That amendment failed 48-50 with two senators not voting.

This month, Brown voted against an amendment aimed at ensuring that illegal immigrants are not counted in the census which determines congressional apportionment and Electoral College votes. Not a single Senate Democrat voted for the measure which died in the chamber.

Brown spoke out against Trump’s efforts to build a border wall several times including in February 2019 when he released a scathing statement in response to Trump “declaring a national emergency at the Southern border” and allocate funds to build a border wall during a government shutdown debate.

“The President’s decision to take funding away from our military to support his vanity project is reckless and irresponsible,” Brown said. “The President continues to hurt the people who make this country work by wasting time and standing in the way of important work like protecting pensions for millions of workers and retirees, bringing down the cost of prescription drugs, or rewriting the tax code to put people first. 

“Instead of building a wall, we should be passing a bill to provide back pay for the contract workers the President hurt with his shutdown.”

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During an appearance on CNN in 2019, Brown was asked about former Democratic Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s call to tear down the border wall in El Paso because it wasn’t effective and Brown did not rule it out and  suggested the country doesn’t need a “long wall.”

“I don’t think you look at the border wall in a 12 mile area, I take a backseat to nobody on border security and it’s clear we’ve learned over time that we have the technology, helicopters, border agents to make our country safe, to keep illegal crossings at a minimum, without building a long wall,” Brown said. 

“That’s a decision that should be made in the whole context, you don’t say well this congressman says take it down here, this congressman says build it up there. You want to look more broadly than that.”

The Senate rejected a proposal in 2013 that would have delayed permanent legal status for many illegal immigrants until a 700 mile double layered border fence was constructed. That vote failed 39-54 with Brown one of the Democrats who voted against it. 

This week, Brown joined every other Senate Democrat in voting down an amendment  51-47 that would have prohibited Biden from putting migrants on charter flights at the taxpayers’ expense and settling them throughout the country.

Brown’s voting record on illegal immigration, according to his critics, paints a different picture than the ad released on Friday.

“Sherrod Brown is lying to Ohioans about his record on border security,” Reagan McCarthy, Communications Director for Brown’s Ohio GOP opponent Bernie Moreno, told Fox News Digital. 

“Time and time again, Brown has voted against deportations, border wall funding, and mandatory minimums for migrants here illegally, and in favor of sanctuary cities. He voted in lockstep with Biden and DC Democrats to create this border invasion and fentanyl surge, and Ohioans will send him packing in November.”

Philip Letsou, Deputy Communications Director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told Fox News Digital that “no amount of election year lies can change the fact that Sherrod Brown and Joe Biden have worked hand-in-hand to open our border and allow our country to be flooded with fentanyl.”

“Brown is an open-border extremist who has done everything he can to make life harder for hardworking Ohioans.”

Jessica Vaughan, Director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, told Fox News Digital that Brown’s ad is attempting to “distract voters’ attention away from the illegal migration disaster caused by the Biden policies and emphasize a few gestures toward the drug crisis.”

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Vaughan continued, “But voters are more likely to notice that he has been all in on the Biden open border policies, backing the recent catch-and-release bill proposed in the Senate and helping thwart a few narrowly focused GOP bills aimed at curbing this historic flood of illegal migration.”

“No doubt Sen. Brown is concerned about the opioid problem, but he’s either naive or disingenuous to pretend it isn’t enabled by the mass migration and open border policies.  Voters rightly connect the two, and won’t be fooled.  Brown and other Senators who avoid acknowledging the reason for the border crisis, and by extension the exacerbated deadly illicit drug crisis, can run, but they can’t hide where they stand at this point.”

Fox News Digital reached out to the Brown campaign but did not receive a response.

Brown’s race against Moreno in November will be one of the most closely watched in the country as many view it to be one of the best opportunities Republicans have to take back control of the Senate which Democrats currently hold by a 51-49 margin.