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Giuliani becomes final defendant served indictment among 18 accused in Arizona fake electors case

Arizona’s attorney general says former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been served an indictment in the state’s fake elector case alongside 17 other defendants for his role in an attempt to overturn former President Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in the 2020 election.

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes posted the news regarding the Trump-aligned lawyer on her X account late Friday.

“The final defendant was served moments ago. @RudyGiuliani nobody is above the law,” Mayes wrote.

The attorney general’s spokesman Richie Taylor said in an email to The Associated Press on Saturday that Giuliani faces the same charges as the other defendants, including conspiracy, fraud and forgery charges.

Giuliani’s political adviser, Ted Goodman, confirmed Giuliani was served Friday night after his 80th birthday celebration as he was walking to the car.

“We look forward to full vindication soon,” Goodman said in a statement Saturday.

The indictment alleges that Giuliani “pressured” Arizona legislators and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to change the outcome of Arizona’s election and that he was responsible for encouraging Republican electors in Arizona and six other contested states to vote for Trump.

Taylor said an unredacted copy of the indictment will be released Monday. He said Giuliani is expected to appear in court Tuesday unless he is granted a delay by the court.

Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff, is among others who have been indicted in the case.

Neither Meadows nor Giuliani were named in the redacted grand jury indictment released earlier because they had not been served with it, but they were readily identifiable based on descriptions in the document. The Arizona attorney general’s office said Wednesday that Meadows had been served and confirmed that he was charged with the same counts as the other named defendants, including conspiracy, fraud and forgery charges.

With the indictments, Arizona becomes the fourth state where allies of the former president have been charged with using false or unproven claims about voter fraud related to the election.

Giuliani was also indicted last year by a grand jury in Georgia, where he is accused of spearheading Trump’s efforts to compel state lawmakers in Georgia to ignore the will of voters and illegally appoint pro-Trump electoral college electors.

Among the defendants are 11 Arizona Republicans who submitted a document to Congress falsely declaring that Trump won in Arizona in the 2020 presidential election — including a former state GOP chair, a 2022 U.S. Senate candidate and two sitting state lawmakers. The other defendants are Mike Roman, who was Trump’s director of Election Day operations, and four attorneys accused of organizing an attempt to use fake documents to persuade Congress not to certify Biden’s victory: John Eastman, Christina Bobb, Boris Epshteyn and Jenna Ellis.

Trump himself was not charged but was referred to as an unindicted co-conspirator.

The 11 people who had been nominated to be Arizona’s Republican electors met in Phoenix on Dec. 14, 2020, to sign a certificate saying they were “duly elected and qualified” electors and claiming that Trump carried the state. A one-minute video of the signing ceremony was posted on social media by the Arizona Republican Party at the time. The document was later sent to Congress and the National Archives, where it was ignored.

Biden won Arizona by more than 10,000 votes.

Eastman, who devised a strategy to try to persuade Congress not to certify the election, became the first person charged in Arizona’s fake elector case to be arraigned on Friday. He pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, fraud and forgery charges.

Eastman made a brief statement outside the courthouse, saying the charges against him should have never been filed.

“I had zero communications with the electors in Arizona (and) zero involvement in any of the election litigation in Arizona or legislative hearings. And I am confident that with the laws faithfully applied, I will be fully be exonerated at the end of this process,” Eastman said. He declined to make further comment.

Arraignments are scheduled May 21 for 12 other people charged in the case, including nine of the 11 Republicans who had submitted a document to Congress falsely declaring Trump had won Arizona.

The Arizona indictment said Eastman encouraged the GOP electors to cast their votes in December 2020, unsuccessfully pressured state lawmakers to change the election’s outcome in Arizona and told then-Vice President Mike Pence that he could reject Democratic electors in the counting of electoral votes in Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.

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Associated Press writers Jacques Billeaud and Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix and Nomaan Merchant in Washington contributed to this report.


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6 Penn students among 19 pro-Palestinian protesters arrested during attempt to occupy building

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A half-dozen University of Pennsylvania students were among 19 pro-Palestinian protesters arrested during an attempt to occupy a school building, university police said Saturday.

Their arrests came a week after authorities broke up a protest encampment on campus and arrested nine students — and as other colleges across the country, anxious to prepare for commencement season, have either negotiated agreements with students or called in police to dismantle protest camps.

Members of Penn Students Against the Occupation of Palestine announced the action Friday at the school’s Fisher-Bennett Hall, urging supporters to bring “flags, pots, pans, noise-makers, megaphones” and other items, the University of Pennsylvania Division of Public Safety said in a news release.

Officers could be seen closing in “within the hour,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. University police supported by city police then escorted the protesters out and secured the building, news outlets reported.

Police said after clearing the building that they recovered “lock-picking tools and homemade metal shields fashioned from oil drums.”

Exit doors had been secured with zip ties and barbed wire and barricaded with metal chairs and desks, while windows were covered by newspaper and cardboard, and bike racks and metal chairs blocked entrances, police said.

Seven of the students arrested on Friday remained in custody Saturday awaiting felony charges, including one person who assaulted an officer, campus police said. A dozen were issued citations for failing to disperse and follow police commands. They have been released from custody.

The attempted occupation of Fisher-Bennett Hall came a week after city and campus police broke up a two-week encampment on the campus, arresting 33 people, nine of whom were students and two dozen of whom had “no Penn affiliation,” according to university officials.

Meanwhile, a group protesting the war in Gaza and demanding that the University of Chicago divest from companies doing business with Israel temporarily took over a building on the school’s campus Friday afternoon.

Members of the group surrounded the Institute of Politics building around 5 p.m. while others made their way inside, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The Chicago protest follows the May 7 clearing of a pro-Palestinian tent encampment at the school by police. University of Chicago administrators had initially adopted a permissive approach, but said earlier this month that the protest had crossed a line and caused growing concerns about safety.

On Friday, campus police officers using riot shields gained access to the Institute of Politics building and scuffled with protesters. Some protesters climbed from a second-floor window, according to the Sun-Times.

The school said protesters attempted to bar the entrance, damaged university property and ignored directives to clear the way, and that those inside the building left when campus police officers entered.

“The University of Chicago is fundamentally committed to upholding the rights of protesters to express a wide range of views,” school spokesperson Gerald McSwiggan said in a statement. “At the same time, university policies make it clear that protests cannot jeopardize public safety, disrupt the university’s operations or involve the destruction of property.”

No arrests or injuries were reported.

Students and others have set up tent encampments on campuses around the country to protest the Israel-Hamas war, pressing colleges to cut financial ties with Israel. Tensions over the war have been high on campuses since the fall but the pro-Palestinian demonstrations spread quickly following an April 18 police crackdown on an encampment at Columbia University.

The demonstrations reached all corners of the United States, becoming its largest campus protest movement in decades, and spread to other countries, including many in Europe.

Lately, some protesters have taken down their tents, as at Harvard, where student activists this week said the encampment had “outlasted its utility with respect to our demands.” Others packed up after striking deals with college administrators who offered amnesty for protesters, discussions around their investments, and other concessions. On many other campuses, colleges have called in police to clear demonstrations.

Nearly 3,000 people have been arrested on U.S. campuses over the past month. As summer break approaches, there have been fewer new arrests and campuses have been calmer. Still, colleges have been vigilant for disruptions to commencement ceremonies.

The latest Israel-Hamas war began when Hamas and other militants stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 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 doesn’t distinguish between civilians and combatants.

On Thursday, police began dismantling a pro-Palestinian encampment at DePaul University in Chicago, hours after the school’s president told students to leave the area or face arrest.


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Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters rally in Washington to mark a painful present and past

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hundreds of protesters rallying within sight of the Capitol chanted pro-Palestinian slogans and voiced criticism of the Israeli and American governments as they marked a painful present — the war in Gaza — and past — the exodus of some 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 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 Oct. 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.

There is widespread anger, too, 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.

In addition to pressing Israel and the Biden administration for an immediate end to hostilities in Gaza, activists have long pushed for the right of return for Palestinian refugees — an Israeli red line in decades of start-and-stop negotiations.

After the Arab-Israeli war that followed Israel’s establishment, Israel refused to allow them to return because it would have resulted in a Palestinian majority within Israel’s borders. Instead, they became a seemingly permanent refugee community that now numbers some 6 million, with most living in slum-like urban refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. In Gaza, the refugees and their descendants make up around three-quarters of the population.

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Associated Press writer Joseph Krauss in Jerusalem contributed to this report.


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US intelligence suggests American who vanished in Syria in 2017 has died, daughter says she was told

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials have developed specific and highly credible intelligence suggesting that an American citizen who disappeared seven years ago while traveling in Syria has died, the man’s daughter said Saturday.

Maryam Kamalmaz said in an interview with The Associated Press that during a meeting in Washington this month with eight senior American officials she was presented with detailed intelligence about the presumed death of her father, Majd, a psychotherapist from Texas.

The officials told her that on a scale of one to 10, their confidence level about her father’s death was a “high nine.” She said she asked whether other detained Americans had ever been successfully recovered in the face of such credible information, and was told no.

“What more do I need? That was a lot of high-level officials that we needed to confirm to us that he’s really gone. There was no way to beat around the bush,” Maryam Kamalmaz said.

She said officials told her they believe the death occurred years ago, early in her father’s captivity. In 2020, she said, officials told the family that they had reason to believe that he had died of heart failure in 2017, but the family held out hope and U.S. officials continued their pursuit.

But, she said, “Not until this meeting did they really confirm to us how credible the information is and the different levels of (verification) it had to go through.”

She did not describe the intelligence she learned.

A spokesperson for the White House declined to comment Saturday. The FBI’s Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell issued a statement that did not offer any update on Kamalmaz but said that no matter how much time has passed, it continues to work “on behalf of the victims and their families to recover all U.S hostages and support the families whose loved ones are held captive or missing.”

Majd Kamalmaz disappeared in February 2017 at the age of 59 while traveling in Syria to visit an elderly family member. The FBI has said he was stopped at a Syrian government checkpoint in a suburb of Damascus and had not been heard from since.

Kamalmaz is one of multiple Americans who have disappeared in Syria, including the journalist Austin Tice, who went missing in 2012 at a checkpoint in a contested area west of Damascus. Syria has publicly denied holding Americans in captivity.

In 2020, in the final months of the Trump administration, senior officials visited Damascus for a high-level meeting aimed at negotiating release of the Americans. But the meeting proved unfruitful, with the Syrians not providing any proof-of-life information and making demands that U.S. officials deemed unreasonable. U.S. officials have said they are continuing to try to bring home Tice.

The New York Times first reported on the presumed death of Majd Kamalmaz.


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Houston area grapples with heat, power cuts after major storms

(Reuters) – Thousands of people in the Houston area faced sweltering heat without power on Saturday following severe storms that claimed at least seven lives, according to local media and the National Weather Service.

The NWS predicted temperatures around 90 degrees (32.2 C) and warned residents in a post on the X social media platform of the threat of heat stroke, saying “Don’t overdo yourself” as they continued cleaning up from Thursday night’s storms.

Storms packing winds of up to 100 mph (161 kph) tore through the region, damaging homes and buildings, felling power lines and leaving more than 800,000 people without electricity, according to local media.

A tornado touched down near the suburb of Cypress, shattering trees and windows and strewing debris, local media said.

As of Saturday morning, more than 500,000 people in the region still were without power, according to PowerOutage.us, a website that aggregates electricity outage data from utilities across the United States.

President Joe Biden on Friday issued a major disaster declaration for seven Texas counties, making residents and businesses eligible for federal assistance.

(Reporting by Jonathan Landay; Editing by Daniel Wallis)


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Jesus is their savior, Trump is their candidate. Ex-president’s backers say he shares faith, values

As Donald Trump increasingly infuses his campaign with Christian trappings while coasting to a third Republican presidential nomination, his support is as strong as ever among evangelicals and other conservative Christians.

“Trump supports Jesus, and without Jesus, America will fall,” said Kimberly Vaughn of Florence, Kentucky, as she joined other supporters of the former president entering a campaign rally near Dayton, Ohio.

Many of the T-shirts and hats that were worn and sold at the rally in March proclaimed religious slogans such as “Jesus is my savior, Trump is my president” and “God, Guns & Trump.” One man’s shirt declared, “Make America Godly Again,” with the image of a luminous Jesus putting his supportive hands on Trump’s shoulders.

Many attendees said in interviews they believed Trump shared their Christian faith and values. Several cited their opposition to abortion and LGBTQ+ rights, particularly to transgender expressions.

Nobody voiced concern about Trump’s past conduct or his present indictments on criminal charges, including allegations that he tried to hide hush money payments to a porn actor during his 2016 campaign. Supporters saw Trump as representing a religion of second chances.

And for many, Trump is a champion of Christianity and patriotism.

“I believe he believes in God and our military men and women, in our country, in America,” said Tammy Houston of New Lexington, Ohio.

“I put my family first, and on a larger scale, it’s America first,” said Sherrie Cotterman of Sidney, Ohio. “And I would any day of the week, take a president that openly knows he needs the strength from God over his own.”

In many ways, this is a familiar story.

About 8 in 10 white evangelical Christians supported Trump in 2020, according to AP VoteCast, and Pew Research Center’s validated voter survey found that a similar share supported him in 2016.

But this is a new campaign, and that support has remained durable — even though Republican voters in the early primaries had several openly conservative Christian candidates to choose from, none of whom faced the legal troubles and misconduct allegations that Trump does. In the Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina Republican primary contests earlier this year, Trump won between 55% and 69% of white evangelical voters, according to AP VoteCast.

Trump even criticized one competitor, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, for signing strict abortion curbs into law. In past years, some Trump surrogates have portrayed Trump as friendly to the LGBTQ+ community.

Trump was the only Republican candidate facing scores of criminal charges, ranging from allegations that he conspired to overturn his 2020 election defeat to his current trial on allegations he falsified business records in seeking illegally to sway the 2016 election with hush money to porn actor Stormy Daniels.

Trump was also the only GOP candidate with a history of casino ventures and two divorces, as well as allegations of sexual misconduct — one of them affirmed by a civil court verdict.

Republican primary voters still overwhelmingly chose Trump.

This has frustrated a minority of conservative evangelicals who see Trump as an unrepentant poser, using the Bible and prayer sessions for photo props. They see him as lacking real faith and facing credible, serious misconduct allegations while campaigning with incendiary rhetoric and authoritarian ambitions.

Karen Swallow Prior, a Christian author and literary scholar who has spoken against fellow evangelicals’ embrace of Trump, said this support in 2024 is familiar but “intensified.”

In the past, she said Trump supporters hoped but weren’t certain that Trump shared their Christian faith.

“Now his supporters believe themselves,” she said. “Despite the fact that Trump clearly wavers on abortion and he wavers on LGBTQ issues, those things are just ignored, they’re just erased out of the narrative.”

At the Ohio rally, several attendees cited their belief that Trump has followed the Christian path of repenting and starting a new life.

“We’ve all come from sinning. Jesus sat with sinners, so he’s going to sit with Trump,” Vaughn said. “It’s not about where Trump came from, it’s about where he’s going and where he’s trying to take us.”

The Ohio rally, like other Trump events, featured a recording of the national anthem sung by some of those convicted for crimes related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, whom Trump called “patriots.”

At the rally’s entrance, one group handed out pamphlets urging attendees both to “trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation” and to support the “J6 patriots.”

Caleb Cinnamon, 37, of Dayton, identified as a Christian and said opposing abortion is a top priority. He cited Trump’s three Supreme Court appointments, who proved decisive in the 2022 decision overturning of the Roe v. Wade precedent that had legalized abortion nationwide.

“Donald Trump’s really the first president who’s not only vocalized an anti-abortion stance but also put action behind it,” he said. “Republicans since the 1990s were saying ‘We’re going to do this about abortion,’ and then they don’t.”

Jody Picagli of Englewood, Ohio, said her Catholic faith and views on abortion are central.

“I’m a big right-to-life person,” she said. “That’s huge for me. And just morals. I think the moral compass is so out of whack right now. And we need religion and church back in here.”

She acknowledged that, with the Supreme Court turning the abortion issue over to the states, a future President Trump may not impact abortion law.

“But I know he’ll never go to an abortion clinic and visit it, like our vice president did,” she said, alluding to Kamala Harris’ tour of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Minnesota in March.

Christian supporters of Trump did also cite non-religious issues — from foreign policy and immigration to gas prices and inflation.

Robert Jones, president of the Public Religion Research Institute and an author of books on white supremacy in American Christianity, said the strong evangelical support for Trump isn’t surprising. But he said that in a 2023 PRRI poll, less than half of white evangelicals said that abortion was a critical issue to them personally. More than half said that five others were a critical issue, including human trafficking, public schools, rising prices, immigration and crime.

“One of the biggest myths about white evangelical support for Trump is this idea that it’s really about abortion and they’re holding their nose and voting for Trump,” Jones said.

He added that Trump’s rhetoric about immigrants “invading the country and changing our cultural heritage” resonates with his audience.

The slogan “Make America Great Again” echoes an “ethno-religious vision of a white Christian America, just barely underneath the surface,” Jones said.

He acknowledged the racial lines aren’t absolute, with Trump attracting Black supporters such as South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.

The Ohio rally included a vast majority of white attendees but with some Black and other ethnic groups represented.

Earlier this year, Trump hit multiple applause lines in speaking to a conservative audience at the National Religious Broadcasters convention.

“We will protect Christians in our schools and in our military and our government,” Trump said. “We will protect God in our public square. … I will protect the content that is pro-God.”

Trump pledged a federal task force to fight the “persecution against Christians in America” and “the toxic poison of gender ideology,” saying “God created two genders, male and female.”

Trump’s rallies take on the symbols, rhetoric and agenda of Christian nationalism, which typically includes a belief that America was founded to be a Christian nation and seeks to privilege Christianity in public life.

Trump endorsed a Bible edition that includes U.S. founding documents and the lyrics to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.”

“This is a Bible specifically for a kind of white evangelical audience that sees themselves as the rightful inheritors of the country,” Jones said, citing a 2023 PRRI poll in which about half of white evangelicals agreed that God intended America as a promised land for European Christians.

Trump’s campaign events have the feel of a worship service. The former president has shared a “God Made Trump” video depicting him in messianic terms. Jones said Trump builds on the messianic theme with statements like, “They’re not after me, they’re after you. I’m just standing in the way.”

But Mark DeVine, a Southern Baptist pastor and seminary professor from Birmingham, Alabama, wrote in the online journal American Reformer that conservative Christians support Trump because “elected Democrats and Democrat-serving, unelected bureaucrats” have an “evil” agenda on issues ranging from abortion to gender to the border to pandemic lockdowns that kept churches closed.

“Trumpers want to shield themselves, their children, their communities, and the nation they love from the woke, totalitarian onslaught now being unleashed upon them where they live, work, study, play, and worship,” he wrote.

At the Ohio rally, some said they believed the nation or its founding documents, such as the Bill of Rights, had Christian origins, though historians dispute such assertions.

Some Trump supporters voiced hope for a more Christian America.

Thomas Isbell of Greensboro, North Carolina, who has set up vending booths for years at Trump rallies around the country, said his “God, Guns & Trump” shirts are a top seller.

“It’s a Christian country,” he said, adding that if he were president, he would only allow public worship by Christians.

“We’re not going to set up a temple to no other gods in our land,” he said.

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AP visual journalist Jessie Wardarski contributed.

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Associated Press religion coverage receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.


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Colorado GOP chair’s embrace of Trump tactics splits party as he tries to boost his own campaign

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — At a recent primary debate, congressional candidate Dave Williams took the microphone and unleashed the same MAGA arguments that vaulted him from a former state representative to chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.

“Right now we have a battle for the soul of our party,” Williams said.

Williams’ zeal and deployment of former President Donald Trump’s combative style of politics as state pary chairman has riven the Colorado GOP, reflecting the Trump-shaped rift in the national Republican Party.

But recent brazen maneuvers from Williams, including using his position as chair to try to usher himself into Congress, inflamed tensions. Some Republican officials in Colorado fell in lockstep, others demanded Williams’ resignation.

Through it all, Williams has caught Trump’s attention, a fact he didn’t let the crowd forget at the debate against his Republican rival for a Colorado House seat, Jeff Crank.

“I’m Dave Williams. I’m chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. And I’m also the Trump endorsed candidate,” he said in his first utterances of Thursday’s debate, later touting Trump’s cell phone number saved in his own phone.

Crank tried to make sure the audience didn’t forget the tempest around Williams, referencing Williams’ refusal to step down as party chair after joining the primary race, allegedly using the state party’s email list to announce his campaign for Congress and spending party money to purchase mailers that included an attack on Crank.

“My opponent has spent too much time fighting other Republicans than fighting Democrats,” Crank said. “Where’s all the money to fight Democrats? It’s going to him, it’s going into his pocke and it’s going into his campaign.”

Williams’ maneuvers flouted state party norms across the U.S.

“He’s cannibalizing the Republican party so he can go to Congress,” said Kelly Maher, a veteran GOP operative who filed a complaint against Williams with the Federal Elections Commission.

A statement from the Williams campaign did not respond to the complaint’s accusations, instead lobbing invective at Crank and calling the complaint an attempt “to generate fake news.”

William’s ascension and campaign mirror the national split among the GOP between a more combative, MAGA flank, which includes Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, and more traditional Republicans, some of whom, such as Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, have fled Congress while citing the new divisiveness in their party.

Whoever wins in the GOP June 25 primary for the reliably Republican seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Doug Lamborn will likely win the general election. Williams unsuccessfully challenged Lamborn in the 2022 primary when a judge barred him from listing his name on the ballot as Dave “Let’s Go Brandon” Williams.

“The Colorado Republican Party, in my opinion, certainly under Williams’ leadership, has been forced to ask questions that they never grappled with before,” said state Rep. Matt Soper, a Republican who worked with Williams in the Statehouse. “What kind of Republican Party do we want to be?”

Williams’ tenure has left Colorado GOP rife with public infighting, in no small part prompted by his own attacks on fellow Republicans. While avoiding news interviews, Williams has sent short statements amounting to diatribes against rival Republicans, Democrats or the media.

Some Republicans appreciate the defense of the party’s conservative core from more moderate Republicans they see as muddling the movement and failing constituents.

“We’ve had decades of Republicans telling us that they are going to go and limit government, but then they don’t,” Williams said at the debate, as some audience members murmured in agreement.

That agenda has pushed Williams to wade beyond the traditional purview of a state party chair. State parties, at least publicly, tend to stay out of primary races, giving voters breathing room to choose their candidates. Under Williams, the Colorado Republican Party endorsed Republican primary candidates over others.

That included Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert, who faced her own accusations of opportunistic maneuvers after hopping congressional districts. Boebert politically falls near Williams as an unyielding, far-right member of Congress in line with Gaetz.

In April, Williams ejected a journalist from an official Republican Party gathering, provoking a national outcry and disapproval from Colorado Republicans, including Boebert primary opponent Deborah Flora. The state party subsequently announced its endorsement of Boebert over Flora.

Seth Masket, a University of Denver political scientist, noted that while political parties are supposed to be neutral, in internal primaries they often informally back one candidate or another. Williams has erased even the appearance of neutrality, he said.

“There are definitely lines being crossed,” Masket said. “Williams is doing it in a much more overt and official way. There’s nothing subtle about it.”

Kolby Zipperer, chairman of the El Paso County Young Republicans, attended Thursday’s debate. When he entered the room, Zipperer, 35, was leaning toward Crank, concerned in part about the accusations of a lack of integrity against Williams.

“If I hear something in the lines of you’re a king, or your breaking the rules to benefit yourself. If I heard the same thing about (Crank) I’d have the same problem,” Zipperer said.

But by the end of the event, it was a coin flip for Zipperer, who appreciated Williams’ calm and talking points. While Williams can mirror Trump’s fiery disposition in statements and social media posts, in front of an audience he is more even-keeled.

“If he’s lying, he’s tricking me,” he said, adding that he also really likes Crank. “It’s like trying to pick two step dads.”

Former Colorado GOP Chairwoman Kristi Burton Brown doesn’t see the party’s divide as being between Trump and anti-Trump, saying she supports Trump not because of the former president’s political style, but chiefly because of his U.S. Supreme Court appointments and policy during his time in office.

“You can embrace that without thinking that, ‘Oh good. Now our entire party needs to adopt a combative, shove your face in the dirt style,’” Brown said. “Hate and divisiveness eventually blows up in its own face.”

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Bedayn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.


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At Memphis BBQ contest, pitmasters sweat through the smoke to be best in pork

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (AP) — Hundreds of dedicated pitmasters are sweating through the smoke as they compete to see who will be crowned “best in pork” at this year’s World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest in Memphis, Tennessee.

Considered one of the premiere cooking competitions in the U.S., the contest dates back to the 1970s. But as the so-called culinary sports expanded beyond local home cooks, the competition is fiercer than ever.

This year’s competition started on Wednesday and runs through Saturday, when an overall grand champion will be named. With over $150,000 in prize money to be awarded, 129 cooking teams from 22 states and four foreign countries are competing in one of three main categories of ribs, shoulder and whole hog. There also are ancillary competitions like hot wings, poultry, beef and seafood.

But in Memphis, pork is always the main event.

Brad Orrison and Brooke Lewis, siblings from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, have been competing for 17 years as a team named after their restaurant: The Shed BBQ and Blues Joint. They have won the grand championship twice.

“It’s the Super Bowl of swine. This is the trophy that everybody wants,” Orrison said.

Orrison, Lewis and their team on Friday were preparing two Duroc hogs for the competition, each one carefully injected with marinades and laid over a bed of butter and bacon.

They come back every year to the cooking contest, which is part of the annual Memphis in May festival. It’s like a family reunion where they see friends from all over the country with a shared passion for barbecue.

“It’s like fierce friends and more fierce on the competitive side. Right? So we all support each other, but it stops on Saturday,” Lewis said. “Saturday you can hear a pin prick in the park.”

“What makes Memphis in May so difficult to judge is that everybody cooks the best food in the world, and they’re all here,” Orrison said. “So a judge could run into three teams that have made the most ultimate dreamy bite of barbecue.”


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Even with school choice, some Black families find options lacking decades after Brown v. Board

Since first grade, Julian Morris, 16, has changed schools six times, swinging between predominantly white and predominantly Black classrooms. None has met all his needs, his mother said.

At predominantly white schools, he was challenged academically but felt less included. At predominately Black schools, he felt more supported as a Black student, but his mother, Denita Dorsey, said they didn’t have the same resources and academic opportunities.

Seventy years after the Supreme Court ruled separating children in schools on the basis of race was unconstitutional, Dorsey said the options available to her family in Michigan are disappointing.

“Segregation is abolished, sure, but our schools are still deeply divided along racial and socioeconomic lines,” Dorsey said. “It makes you think: It’s been 70 years but was it worth it?”

The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling and desegregation orders were only the first steps toward the elusive goal of equitable education. For some Black families, school choice has been critical in finding the best available option. And that has not meant necessarily the school with the most racial diversity.

Integration alone is not what Black families have pushed for over the decades, said Bernita Bradley of the National Parents Union, an education advocacy group.

“We wanted integration with accountability and that’s not what we received,” she said. “That’s why choice needs to exist but we still need high-quality options.”

Dorsey made what she called a “contentious decision” in 2022, choosing Saginaw High School in Michigan, which is predominantly Black, over Julian’s predominantly white charter school.

“I was challenged, and I had arguments with family. But Julian is now getting more support from his teachers and administration than he ever did at his previous schools,” she said.

The Brown decision is seen as a key impetus to kicking off the modern school choice movement. As many white families began turning to private schools as a way to avoid the court mandate, state lawmakers — primarily in Southern states — began launching school voucher programs.

In Prince Edward County in Virginia, which closed all its public schools in 1959 for five years to evade integration, state and local officials gave white families tuition grants and tax credits to attend private schools. No similar options were provided to Black families. The move inspired other states to adopt similar schemes before they were deemed illegal by the Supreme Court.

The arguments for school choice evolved over time.

Some thinkers in the 1960s such as Milton Friedman argued that giving families money to spend on education how they saw fit would revolutionize education, incentivizing schools to improve or be left behind. At the same time, civil rights leaders stressed that choice could equalize education for lower-income families, which overwhelmingly include Black and Hispanic students.

Today, some of the loudest advocates for vouchers no longer approach it as a way to push for social justice, said Claire Smrekar, a professor of education and public policy at Vanderbilt University. Rather, the focus is on parents’ rights and lifting restrictions that may prevent wealthier families from using the programs at schools of their choice.

“This expansion is really extraordinary when you think about it,” Smrekar said. “There are no social justice arguments here for families trapped in poverty and zoned for low-performing schools. The new argument is that everyone should enjoy this subsidy.”

Meantime, conservative attacks on how topics related to race and racism are taught in schools have only added to the appeal of alternatives for some Black families. Some schools dedicate themselves to affirming students’ Black heritage, claiming the mantle of freedom schools that started during the Civil Rights Movement in response to the inferior education Black Americans were receiving in the South.

“All parents want is a safe and caring environment where their child is going to go and they are going to be a partner in my child’s pathway to success,” Bradley said.

Black families also turned to homeschooling in large numbers during the pandemic, driven in part by a desire to shield their children from racism in classrooms and to better meet the individual academic needs of their children.

American schools are more racially diverse today compared to the era of Brown v. Board, but schools have been re-segregating, with lasting academic consequences. Schools where students of color compose more than 90% of the student body are five times more likely to be located in low-income areas, where students have worse educational outcomes.

According to research from Stanford University’s Educational Opportunity Project, the recent increase in segregation appears to be partially driven by school choice. In school districts where charter schools expanded most rapidly in the last two decades, segregation grew the most.

In Michigan, Julian said he thought his mother was “tripping or just going off the rails” to pull him out of a higher-ranked school.

“It wasn’t until I arrived at Saginaw High that I took a second look back and realized that what was said to me and things that happened at the school were not OK,” Julian said. “I was different there because I am Black. But now at Saginaw, it feels more welcoming and I feel included and supported. I feel the difference.”

Janel Jones, a mother of two children in Atlanta, said she has seen the benefits of choice, having sent her 13-year-old daughter and 17-year-old son to seven different schools combined. But just giving parents an option is not enough, she said.

“School choice is not choice if it is not equitable. At the end of the day, liberation directly affects our economic outcome, and as parents we have to make sure these educational systems are challenging academically but also meet their needs as members of society,” Jones said.

It is not as simple as sending children to an all-Black school, she said.

“Your child is protected, but also coddled. You have not learned how to understand and deal with microaggressions you are guaranteed to face when you get your first job. That’s the educational part we as Black parents also have to teach our kids and that’s not going to change any time soon,” she said.

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AP journalists Sharon Lurye in New Orleans and Jeff Amy in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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The Associated Press’ education coverage receives financial support from multiple private foundations. AP is solely responsible for all content. Find AP’s standards for working with philanthropies, a list of supporters and funded coverage areas at AP.org.


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Donald Trump will address the NRA in Texas. He’s called himself the best president for gun owners

DALLAS (AP) — Former President Donald Trump is expected to address thousands of members of the National Rifle Association in Texas a day after campaigning in Minnesota in the midst of his hush money trial.

Trump has pledged to continue to defend the Second Amendment and has called himself “the best friend gun owners have ever had in the White House” as the United States faces record numbers of deaths due to mass shootings. Last year ended with 42 mass killings and 217 deaths, making it one of the deadliest years on record.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has been criticized by Democratic President Joe Biden, specifically for remarks that Trump made this year after a school shooting in Iowa. Trump called the incident “very terrible” only to later say that “we have to get over it. We have to move forward.”

Speaking Friday in Minnesota, Trump said: “You know, it’s an amazing thing. People that have guns, people that legitimately have guns, they love guns and they use guns for the right purpose, but they tend to vote very little and yet they have to vote for us. There’s nobody else to vote for because the Democrats want to take their guns away and they will take their guns away.”

He added, “That’s why I’m going to be talking to the NRA tomorrow to say, ‘You gotta get out and vote.’”

Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement before Trump’s NRA appearance that “at a time when guns are the number one cause of death for children and teens in America, Donald Trump is catering to the gun lobby and threatening to make the crisis worse if reelected.” She said she and Biden “will continue to take on the gun lobby to keep Americans safe, while Donald Trump will continue to sacrifice our kids’ and communities’ safety to keep these special interests happy.”

When Trump was president, there were moments when he pledged to strengthen gun laws. After a high school mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and wounded 17 others, Trump told survivors and family members that he would be “very strong on background checks.” He claimed he would stand up to the NRA but later he backpedaled, saying there was “not much political support.”

On Saturday, he is expected to give the keynote address as the powerful gun lobby holds a forum in Dallas. Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott will also speak. Prominent gun safety groups that have endorsed Biden are planning to demonstrate near the convention center where the gun lobby plans to meet.

While Trump sees strong support in Texas, Democrats in the state think they have a chance to flip a Senate seat in November with U.S. Rep. Colin Allred leading an underdog campaign to unseat Republican Ted Cruz. No Democrat has won a statewide office in Texas in 30 years, the longest streak of its kind in the country.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the 2024 election at https://apnews.com/hub/election-2024.


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