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Pro-Trump scam PAC operator hit with wire fraud charge

A man behind a pro-Trump scam PAC has been hit with federal wire fraud charges alleging he bilked hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors with false promises that the money would help support the former president's re-election efforts.

Why it matters: The indictment handed down this week against James Kyle Bell shows how brazen some efforts to monetize grassroots political enthusiasm can be.


  • The charges came despite former President Trump being more proactive than many politicians in disavowing groups that falsely implied campaign affiliations to lure unwitting donors.
  • The indictment was first reported by HuffPost.

What's new: The Justice Department accuses Bell, the man behind the Keep America Great Committee, of enlisting a digital fundraising firm to fraudulently appeal to Trump supporters to chip in on behalf of the Trump re-election effort.

  • The Keep America Great Committee's ads, website, and online donation page were largely copied from those belonging to Trump and other legitimate political groups, The Daily Beast reported last year.
  • None of the nearly $250,000 the KAGC raised actually went to supporting political candidates, prosecutors say. Instead, they say,Bell pocketed the money.
  • While duping unwitting donors, prosecutors say, Bell was also filing fraudulent applications for coronavirus relief loans. Four of his companies received more than $1 million from the scheme, according to the indictment.

The big picture: The Justice Department has cracked down in recent years on so-called scam PACs, or groups that do little but raise money and pay their own principals.

  • Trump's presidency was a boon for such groups, but they're not confined to a particular candidate or political party.
  • Prosecutors say Bell also set up an allegedly fraudulent pro-Biden group called the Best Days Lie Ahead Committee, which raised another $100,000.

Israel to continue Gaza operation, officials rule out cease-fire for now

The Israeli security cabinet on Sunday decided to continue the Gaza operation, according to military plans. Israeli officials said a cease-fire is not on the table right now.

Why it matters: There was a growing feeling within the military and senior defense establishment ahead of the cabinet meeting that Israel should start moving toward ending the operation.

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Liz Cheney says she regrets voting for Trump in 2020

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who was ousted Wednesday as the third-highest ranking House Republican, told ABC's "This Week" that she regrets voting for former President Trump in 2020, although she could never have supported Biden.

Why it matters: Cheney, voted out of House Republican leadership over her repeated condemnation of Trump and his unfounded claims of election fraud, plans to challenge the former president for ideological dominance of the GOP.

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Blinken speaks with Associated Press CEO after Israeli airstrike destroys Gaza office

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Associated Press CEO Gary Pruitt on Saturday after an Israeli airstrike destroyed the outlet's local media office in the Gaza Strip, which also housed the Al Jazeera office.

Why it matters: "The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what transpired today" Pruitt said in a statement — as fighting between Israel and Hamas continues to bring more casualties.

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Fashion

Consumers and retailers alike are still trying to figure out what Americans will want to wear as they head back out into the world after a year at home, in sweatpants.

Why it matters: The choices people make about their post-pandemic wardrobes will help define what, exactly, our “new normal” is. They'll indicate how both work and socializing have changed, and will tell the story of how people expressed themselves in the aftermath of a year of massive transformation.

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UN Security Council meeting on Israel-Gaza as Netanyahu vows to continue strikes

The United Nations Security Council was preparing to meet Sunday, as the aerial bombardment between Israel and Hamas between entered a seventh day.

The latest: Four Palestinians died in airstrikes early Sunday, as Israeli forces bombed the home of Gaza's Hamas chief, Yehya al-Sinwar, per Reuters.

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In photos: Protesters rally across U.S. and the world over Israeli–Palestinian conflict

Thousands of people rallied across the U.S. and the world Saturday following days of violence in Gaza and Israel that's killed at least 145 Palestinians, including 41 children, and eight Israelis, per AP.

The big picture: Most demonstrations were in support of Palestinians. There were tense scenes between pro-Israeli government protesters and pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Winnipeg, Canada, and Leipzig, Germany, but no arrests were made, CBS News and DW.com report.

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Biden in call with Netanyahu raises concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza

President Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday and raised concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza and the bombing of the building that housed AP and other media offices, according to Israeli officials.

The big picture: At least 140 Palestinians, including dozens of children have been killed in Gaza since fighting between Israel and Hamas began Monday, according to Palestinian health officials. Nine people, including two children, have been killed by Hamas rockets in Israel.

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The COVID lab-leak theory goes mainstream

A group of high-profile scientists published a letter calling for renewed investigation into the origins of COVID-19 — including the theory that it spilled out of a virology lab.

Why it matters: The possibility that SARS-CoV-2 was created in a Chinese lab and accidentally escaped — rather than emerging naturally from an animal — was initially dismissed as a conspiracy theory. But the letter shows a potential lab leak is increasingly being taken seriously.

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