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Biden's attorney general is fighting back as the GOP-led House contemplates contempt

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Biden's attorney general is fighting back as the GOP-led House contemplates contempt

Attorney General Merrick Garland is fighting back.

The Republican-led House of Representatives intends to hold him in contempt of Congress this week – if it can muster the votes. Remember, it’s all about the math.

A senior House leadership source told Fox the vote would be Wednesday. But when asked, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., wouldn’t quite commit to that.

Garland was mum when yours truly pursued him down a hallway before a hearing with the House Judiciary Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building – even absorbing a gratuitous elbow from his FBI security detail before he ducked into an anteroom.

SOCIAL MEDIA ERUPTS OVER HUNTER BIDEN GUILTY VERDICT: ‘THE LAW IS THE LAW’

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“Are you going to kind of punch back against what they’re trying to do on contempt?” I asked Garland as we walked briskly down the corridor. 

No response.

“Are you going to kind of punch back against what they’re trying to do on contempt?”

Silence.

“Do you feel this has been an abuse of the process when it comes to contempt?”

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See above.

Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Department of Justice, on Tuesday, June 4, 2024, on Capitol Hill in Washington.  (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

But when House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, gaveled down the hearing, the bookish Garland threw the verbal book at Republicans. Garland was furious when it came to suppositions that his department had it in for former President Trump and was biased against Republicans.

“These attacks have not and they will not influence our decision making. I view contempt as a serious matter,” said Garland. “I will not be intimidated. And the Justice Department will not be intimidated. We will continue to work to do our jobs free from political influence. And we will not back down from defending democracy.” 

“Lawfare” is the GOP’s new mantra when it comes to Garland, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Fulton County prosecutor Fani Willis. In fact, Republicans accused Garland’s Justice Department of teaming up with local authorities to target Mr. Trump.

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Jordan threw a bombardment of verbal haymakers at Garland, ticking through a host of grievances against the Attorney General in hopes that one might land.

“This is the same Department of Justice whose Civil Rights Division has done nothing to address the attacks on Jewish students at college campuses. This is the same Department of Justice who can’t tell us who planted the pipe bombs on January 6th. Who leaked the Dobbs draft opinion. And who put cocaine in the White House,” charged Jordan. “Many American believe there’s now a double standard in our justice system. They believe that because there is.”

RUNNING FOR CONGRESS: POOCH LEADS POLICE, REPORTER AND SENATE STAFFERS ON HAIRY RUSH-HOUR CHASE AROUND CAPITOL

“They see that Lady Justice’s blindfold has slipped off,” tacked on Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va. 

But Democrats were having none of Republican conjecture about a two-tiered justice system. 

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In fact, Garland characterized GOP allegations of prejudice as a “conspiracy theory.” 

“An attack on the rule of law tears down people’s confidence in the basic fundamental element of our democracy,” declared Garland.

Matt Gaetz

(Aaron Schwartz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., tangled with the attorney general over providing “correspondence between the department and Alvin Bragg’s office.”

“You lodge this attack that it’s a conspiracy theory that this is coordinated lawfare against (former President) Trump,” said Gaetz. “But when you say ‘we’ll take your request and work it through the DoJ accommodation process,’ then you’re actually advancing the very dangerous conspiracy theory that you’re concerned about.”

Democrats chided Republicans who argued that the fix was in on behalf of Hunter Biden – noting that the president’s own Justice Department prosecuted the first son. That’s to say nothing of ongoing prosecutions involving Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Tex.

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Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., suggested that Democrats had concrete evidence that it didn’t tilt the tables against Republicans. 

“I notice Mr. Gaetz, who took you on first, is not here now,” observed Cohen to Garland. “And that’s unfortunate because he is living testament to the fact and direct evidence that you have not weaponized the Justice Department. He was investigated for sex trafficking. And while many expected a prosecution, you chose not to prosecute this very active Republican.”

Democrats certainly didn’t want to see Hunter Biden – the president’s son – convicted on firearms charges. But the conviction of Hunter gives Democrats an opportunity to argue that the GOP narrative of an uneven justice system fails to stand up.

“When Donald Trump was convicted, we saw an immediate reaction from Republican leaders. It was like within seconds that this trial is a sham. The judge is corrupt. The jury is rigged. And the contrast today is just staggering,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee. “But when a Democrat is convicted – the president’s son, no less – that’s justice. Give me a break.”

SENATE DEM ESCALATES ATTACK ON JUSTICE ALITO AFTER SECRET RECORDING

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Mike Johnson denied that the Hunter Biden conviction undermined GOP claims. 

“It doesn’t. Every case is different. And clearly the evidence was overwhelming here. I don’t think that’s the case in the (President) Trump trials. And all the charges that have been brought against him have been obviously brought for political purposes. Hunter Biden is a separate incident,” said Johnson.

If Republicans forge ahead with contempt, it’s because they have the votes – despite their narrow majority. Moderates now appear to be willing to find Garland in contempt of Congress.

“I think this administration has sought to run out the clock and avoid the responsibility,” said Rep. Marc Molinaro, R-N.Y. “I don’t have to agree or disagree with a president to know that Congress has a responsibility to provide the checks, balances and oversight. And this administration should comply with it, whether they like it or not. I’ll certainly support a contempt vote.”

“He has a responsibility to comply with lawful subpoenas,” said Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y. “He is picking and choosing what he wants to comply with.”

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The U.S. Capitol Building Dome is seen before the sun rises in Washington DC.

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The House voted in 2012 to hold then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. House Republicans accused Holder of withholding documents related to a gun-running investigation called Fast and Furious. The House voted 255-67 to hold Holder in criminal contempt. Two Republicans voted nay. Seventeen Democrats voted yes. But most Democrats sat out the vote in protest. 

Don’t expect any Democrats to join the effort this year. And the DoJ won’t prosecute Garland.

Republicans know that. And while many want to stand up for the institution, many would prefer to have the issue heading into November. They’ll point to the Biden Justice Department failing to prosecute Garland for not cooperating with Congress. Yet the DoJ prosecuted former Trump aides Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro for failing to comply with subpoenas related to January 6.

Republicans will remind their voters of that. And they were sure to threaten Garland in case former President Trump returns to the White House. 

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“You know what happened to Peter Navarro and Steve Bannon when they decided to defy a subpoena of the Congress?” asked Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C. “Mr. Navarro’s in prison.”

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President Biden had front row seat to dog, Commander, repeatedly biting Secret Service agents: report

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President Biden had front row seat to dog, Commander, repeatedly biting Secret Service agents: report

President Biden reportedly witnessed multiple attacks by Commander, his ferocious dog, to U.S. Secret Service (USSS) personnel – with one urging the use of a muzzle, newly released records show.

Correspondence, obtained by Judicial Watch, set the scene of life with Commander Biden – which included trips to the ER and the tailor.

Multiple USSS personnel shared that the attacks happened as Biden was walking the dog, with the president witnessing the incidents first-hand.

RECORDS SHOW BIDEN DOG, COMMANDER, ATTACKED SECRET SERVICE MEMBERS AT LEAST 24 TIMES

Commander, the dog of U.S. President Joe Biden, looks on as Biden departs on the south lawn of the White House on June 25, 2022, in Washington, D.C.  (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

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Bite marks by Commander Biden in suit jacket

The Biden family dog, Commander, repeatedly attacked U.S. Secret Service agents.  (Judicial Watch via U.S. Secret Service)

Other emails shared by staff suggested that the First Family purchase a muzzle for the German Shepherd. 

“TMZ just reported a dog bite at the White House! Can we please find a way to get this dog muzzled?” personnel from the U.S. Secret Service Safety, Health & Environment Division wrote in an email.

One Secret Service member shared that his encounter with Commander happened on Sep. 13, 2023, while Biden was taking his dog to the Kennedy Garden for an evening walk.

“As I started to walk toward him to see if he needed help, Commander ran through his legs and bit my left arm through the front of my jacket,” the USSS agent wrote. “I pulled my arm away and yelled, ‘No’. POTUS also yelled [redacted] to Commander. POTUS then [redacted]. I obliged and Commander let me pet him.”

BIDEN’S DOG, COMMANDER, TERRORIZED SECRET SERVICE IN ‘EXTREMELY AGGRESSIVE’ RAMPAGE: EMAILS

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“When turning to close the door, Commander jumped again and bit my left arm for the second time. POTUS again yelled at Commander and attached the leash to him,” he added. “My suit coat has 3 holes,1 being all the way through. No skin was broken. “

Commander Biden

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden, sit with their new dog Commander at the White House in 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Other correspondence includes a sergeant writing in an email, “there was a dog bite and the officer may need to go to the hospital.”

In other email correspondence, Anthony Guglielmi, the Chief of Communications for the United States Secret Service, wrote of another interaction with Commander.

“Yesterday, around 8pm, a Secret Service Uniformed Division police officer came in contact with a First Family pet and was bitten,” Guglielmi wrote. “The officer was treated by medical personnel on complex, and I am not aware of any hospitalization.”

Bite marks by Commander Biden in suit jacket

Judicial Watch obtained images from the U.S. Secret Service of bite marks on their suit jackets. (Judicial Watch via U.S. Secret Service)

On Sept. 26, 2023, a series of media outlets reached out to Guglielmi to confirm reports of an additional bite on a female USSS officer.

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BIDEN’S DOG MAJOR BITES ANOTHER WHITE HOUSE EMPLOYEE

Bite marks by Commander Biden in suit jacket

Puncture marks in a U.S Secret Service member’s coat jacket. (Judicial Watch via U.S. Secret Service)

The latest information on Commander’s biting habits came after a previous report that the German shepherd bit and attacked at least 24 USSS personnel between October 2022 and July 2023.

Incidents with the dog began to stack up, with family pet altercations taking place in locations such as the White House, Wilmington, Delaware, Camp David, and Biden’s beach house in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

biden's dog commander

President Biden’s dog, Commander, a German shepherd, sits on the Truman balcony of the White House, Sept. 30, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Commander’s arrival at the White House came after the Biden’s got rid of their prior dog, Major, who also behaved aggressively, including biting Secret Service and White House staff.

 

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Commander eventually left the White House to live with other family members after the series of attacks.

Fox News Digital has reached out to the Office of the First Lady for comment.

Fox News Digital’s Greg Wehner contributed to this report.

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Top manager of California's largest water supplier accused of sexism and harassment

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Top manager of California's largest water supplier accused of sexism and harassment

The board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California voted to place General Manager Adel Hagekhalil on leave Thursday while the agency investigates accusations of harassment against him by the agency’s chief financial officer.

Chief Financial Officer Katano Kasaine made the allegations in a confidential letter to the board, which was leaked and published by Politico. She said Hagekhalil has harassed, demeaned and sidelined her and created a hostile work environment.

MWD Board Chair Adán Ortega Jr. announced the decision after a closed-door meeting, saying the board voted to immediately place Hagekhalil on administrative leave and to temporarily appoint Deven Upadhyay, an assistant general manager, as interim general manager.

“This board is determined to act with unity and swiftness in order to protect everybody,” Ortega said. “My hope is that under Deven’s leadership in the coming months, that we will find some common purpose, that we will realize the urgency of the policies and the tasks that confront us.”

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Ortega said in an interview after the meeting that there are “several investigations” underway. He declined to comment on the other investigations, and said Hagekhalil will be on administrative leave for up to 90 days.

“We’re calculating that that’s the amount of time it will take to complete the investigations,” Ortega told The Times.

Ortega began the meeting by announcing that the board had decided earlier this week to open an investigation. He called a vote allowing him to publicly discuss confidential matters discussed during that Tuesday meeting, and he criticized the release of the letter.

“The person who released this sensitive document knows that we as a board and as individuals are constrained by law not to reveal closed-session proceedings and related documents,” Ortega said. “They were trying to take advantage of that. But I’m not letting them. At minimum, by releasing the document, that person has tried to set a narrative that is potentially harmful to the general manager, the chief financial officer, this board and this agency, and they know it.”

Ortega said the board acted to start the investigation “in order to avoid the leak that happened anyway.” He said he and other board members believe that both Hagekhalil and Kasaine “deserve the due process prescribed by law.”

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Thursday’s special meeting was scheduled while Hagekhalil was traveling in Singapore for a water conference. According to the board meeting agenda, the closed session included a review of Hagekhalil’s performance as well as a discussion of potential discipline or dismissal. On those two items, Ortega said, there were “no reportable actions” during the closed meeting.

Board members voted unanimously to place Hagekhalil on administrative leave, with one abstention and several board members absent.

Kasaine said in her letter that throughout 30 years of government work, “I have encountered toxic work environments, but none as hostile and dysfunctional as Metropolitan.”

“Despite my tireless dedication and outstanding performance ratings, it has become incredibly stressful to even show up for work. I am constantly scrutinized, sidelined, and demeaned for standing up against issues that are not in Metropolitan’s best interest,” Kasaine said in the May 27 letter, which following the leak was released by the district.

Hagekhalil responded to the accusations in a text message, denying any wrongdoing.

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“I’ve always treated our MWD staff with complete respect, professionalism and kindness. Always,” Hagekhalil said. “I stand by my record of reforming the agency’s workforce policies and creating a healthy, supportive and inclusive work environment. Any investigation of these unsubstantiated claims will reveal that they are false, and I look forward to returning to my work at MWD to serve our staff and our community as soon as possible.”

He said the claims are “disagreements on management decisions.”

“When I started at MWD, I increased Katano’s responsibilities on an interim basis, and as CFO, she has had an important leadership role in recent MWD actions, including overseeing the agency’s adoption of a two-year budget and development of a long-range financial plan,” Hagekhalil said.

MWD is the nation’s largest wholesale supplier of drinking water, serving cities and agencies that supply 19 million people across Southern California.

Ortega lamented that with the release of the letter, “the confidentiality that they were to enjoy in order to correct matters, has now been compromised for the benefit of an undeclared individual who, depending on our silence, thought that they could deceive the press.”

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“Thus, the person who released the document should not be considered a whistleblower, but should be questioned by those listening to him or her about their motives and the personal gain they would like to achieve by violating the rights of others and trying to taint our agency,” Ortega said, reading from a prepared statement. “While I can’t reveal the extent of our continuing deliberations today, or guarantee outcomes, on behalf of the board, I want to assure our workforce that we will continue to act in a transparent way to bring security, harmony and protection of rights for everyone who works here so we can do the work of bringing water to Southern California.”

Several people spoke at the meeting, expressing support for Hagekhalil and calling for a fair and impartial investigation.

“Due process has been tainted in a major, major way,” said Mark Gold, director of water scarcity solutions for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It’s a personnel issue that you need to investigate and keep private as much as possible.”

Gold also said Hagekhalil “lives and breathes water in this agency more than anyone I’ve ever seen.”

Hagekhalil has led the agency at a time of major challenges, including negotiations aimed at addressing shortages of Colorado River water, plans for building the country’s largest wastewater recycling facility, and the MWD board’s consideration of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to build a $20-billion water tunnel in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

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Hagekhalil previously worked for the city of Los Angeles leading programs focusing on sewers and streets. He was appointed MWD’s general manager in 2021 after a bitter power struggle among board members. He earns $503,942 a year as general manager and chief executive, leading more than 1,900 employees and overseeing more than $2.2 billion in annual spending.

Hagekhalil has said he is seeking to transform the district to make the region’s water supplies resilient to the effects of climate change.

“This is at a time when MWD is at a crossroads,” said Bruce Reznik, executive director of Los Angeles Waterkeeper, who has supported Hagekhalil’s efforts at MWD. “The old way of doing business, the old model for water, doesn’t work in our climate change reality, and I know MWD is wrestling with these very challenging issues. And I think Adel and his team have done an amazing job of starting to tackle that.”

Some of Hagekhalil’s supporters questioned why the matter was brought to the board while he was traveling, and suggested the public airing of grievances appeared to be a calculated ambush.

Kasaine wrote in the letter that she has been “maligned, harassed, bullied, and sidelined from my core responsibilities.” She said Hagekhalil’s “preference for male colleagues/staff over me has continued to sow the seeds of sexism and belittling.”

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She also criticized Hagekhalil’s hiring of a team of trusted, highly paid consultants, calling it “an entire shadow leadership team, wielding more power than those holding official titles.”

Kasaine said Hagekhalil has told her that she will no longer have oversight responsibilities leading the district’s human resources and diversity, equity and inclusion offices.

“Taking these core services from me without any justification or reason is highly suspect and leads me to believe it is retaliation for speaking up on key concerns,” Kasaine wrote in the letter.

During Thursday’s meeting, many speakers said the matter demands a thorough and impartial investigation.

Ellen Mackey, chair of the employee union’s women’s caucus, told the board that as the situation stands, “we don’t have facts, just accusations.”

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Some environmental advocates said they suspect a link between the surfacing of allegations against Hagekhalil and his work leading efforts to take the district in a new direction by developing a climate adaptation plan, investing in local water sources and revamping MWD’s financial model.

Charming Evelyn, who chairs the Sierra Club’s water committee in Southern California, said Hagekhalil has brought positive changes to the MWD, and that has put him in conflict with the district’s “old guard.”

The California Water Impact Network, an advocacy group, said in a press release that the possibility that Hagekhalil’s efforts might lead the board to eventually vote against the proposed Delta Conveyance Project “has led to an attempted mutiny” by supporters of the tunnel among the district’s board members and staff.

The group noted that Kasaine currently serves as treasurer of the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority, the entity that was created to finance the tunnel project.

Max Gomberg, a board member of the California Water Impact Network, charged that the move against Hagekhalil appears to be a “political power play” designed to push through the tunnel project.

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Leaders of Indigenous tribes and other environmental groups also voiced concerns.

Krystal Moreno of the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians said that while the accusations should be independently investigated, “we also ask that the investigation include the questionable and concerning timing of these allegations and the board’s swift attempt to remove Adel without any investigation while he has been out of the country.”

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of the group Restore the Delta, which opposes the tunnel project, said the allegations and the timing of the claims are “equally problematic.”

“Both deserve a thorough and fact based investigation with transparent findings and due process,” she said.

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Trump has 'sort of a pretty good idea' of VP pick, will probably announce during RNC convention

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Trump has 'sort of a pretty good idea' of VP pick, will probably announce during RNC convention

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Former President Trump said he has “sort of a pretty good idea” of who his vice presidential running mate will be but will probably announce his selection during this summer’s Republican National Convention. 

Trump spoke with Fox News’ Aishah Hasnie at the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Republican National Committee on Thursday following meetings with the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

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He was asked if his pick was present at any of the meetings.

TRUMP RILES UP FIERY SWING STATE CROWD IN FIRST RALLY SINCE NEW YORK CONVICTION

Aishah Hasnie spoke with President Trump at the Republican National Convention headquarters in Washington, D.C., following his meetings at the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Thursday. (Fox News)

“Probably. I don’t want to go, but I think (it) will probably get announced during the convention,” Trump said. “During the convention. There were some good people and, we have some very good people.”

The convention will be held from July 15-18 in Milwaukee. Trump said that Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, could be on the short list. 

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“And I think I could consider that,” he said. “Yes. I haven’t been asked that question, but he would be on that list.”

Hasnie also asked Trump about his thoughts on President Biden as a father following Hunter Biden’s conviction on federal gun charges. 

“Well, I think it’s a very serious thing,” Trump said. “I understand that whole subject. I understand it pretty well because I’ve had it with people who have it in their family,” referring to the younger Biden’s history of drug addiction. 

BIDEN CAMP JABS AT TRUMP’S ‘FAILED’ BUSINESS RECORD AS FORMER PRESIDENT LOOKS TO SWAY NATION’S TOP CEOS

President Biden says he won't pardon Hunter

President Biden, left, and his son Hunter Biden. (Getty Images)

“It’s a very tough thing. It’s a very tough situation for a father,” he added. “It’s a very tough situation for a brother or sister. And it goes on and it’s not stopping. Whether it’s alcohol or drugs or whatever it may be. It’s a tough thing. And so that’s a tough moment for the family. It’s a tough moment for any family involved in that.”

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Hunter Biden was convicted last week of three felony charges related to the purchase of a revolver in 2018 when he lied on a federal gun-purchase form by saying he was not illegally using or addicted to drugs.

Biden has said he will not use his presidential powers to appeal his son’s conviction. He’s also said in the past that he was proud of his son and that he believes he did nothing wrong. 

Hogan Maryland

Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks at an annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas on Nov. 18, 2022.  (AP Photo/John Locher)

“As I said last week, I am the President, but I am also a Dad. Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today,” Biden said after the verdict. “So many families who have had loved ones battle addiction understand the feeling of pride seeing someone you love come out the other side and be so strong and resilient in recovery.”

Later in his interview, Trump said he hadn’t been asked to endorse former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, for the U.S. Senate. Hogan endorsed Nikki Haley over Trump and did not endorse him during the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. 

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“Yeah, I’d like to see him win,” Trump said. “I think he has a good chance to win. I would like to see him win.”

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