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The missile missed the drone and fell into the water, the official said.
Prior to taking fire, the American MQ-9 drone observed Iranian vessels closing in on the tankers, the official added, though the source did not say whether the unmanned aircraft saw the boats conducting an actual attack.
Trump raises stakes on Gulf tanker attacks -- for himself and Iran
Still, it is the first claim that the US has information of Iranian movements prior to the attack.
CNN has not seen any imagery from the US drones.
Iran has strenuously denied any involvement in the attack.
The same official also said in the days prior to the attack, a US reaper drone was shot down in the Red Sea by what is believed to be an Iranian missile fired by Houthi rebels.
The Pentagon had tough words for Iran on Friday as the US continues to assert its claim that Tehran was responsible for the attack on the two oil tankers in international waters after releasing video footage its says shows an Iranian patrol boat removing an unexploded mine from one of the vessels’ hulls.
“We’re making sure that General McKenzie and the central command has the resources and the support that they need to conduct their missions,” acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said, adding that the US continues to work on building an international consensus that Iran was behind the attack.

Trump says Iran ‘did do it’

The United Kingdom released a statement Friday saying it is “almost certain” that a branch of the Iranian military — the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — attacked two tankers.
The IRGC is an elite wing of the Iranian military that was established in the aftermath of the country’s revolution in 1979. In April 2019, the US officially designated it as a foreign terrorist organization, a move which was rejected by authorities in Tehran.
No other state or non-state actor “could plausibly have been responsible,” the statement added.
But Iran does not appear to be backing off and continues to engage in provocative behavior, according to a US official who told CNN on Friday that Iranian small boats are preventing tug boats from towing away one of the damaged tankers.
President Donald Trump seems convinced that Tehran was responsible.
With Iran, sometimes the logical explanation is the correct one
“Iran did do it and you know they did it because you saw the boat,” he said, appearing to refer to the images and video released by the Pentagon late Thursday.
In the video, a smaller boat is shown coming up to the side of the Japanese-owned tanker. An individual stands up on the bow of the boat and can be seen removing an object from the tanker’s hull. The US says that object is likely an unexploded mine.
A senior diplomatic source of a US ally told CNN Friday, “It is a virtual certainty Iran was behind this latest attack. The video now nails it.”
The source added that the goal of the response from the US government thus far is all about publicly exposing Iranian actions and intensifying maximum pressure.
After the United States withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, it adopted a policy of maximum economic pressure and sent a carrier group to the region, the source said this “Iranian retaliation is designed to show they can disrupt, and push oil prices up.”
The Trump administration predicted that the pressure from the United States would bring Iran to the negotiating table, but European leaders disagreed, believing it would empower the hardliners, the source continued.

Iran denies involvement

Iran has denied any involvement in the incident, with its foreign minister suggesting that the US was quick to make allegations “without a shred of evidence.”
The attack could provide more fodder for Iran hawks within the US administration, whose recent Iran saber-rattling has frustrated Trump. One of them, national security adviser John Bolton, announced last month that the Pentagon was deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Middle East in response to a “number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Iran.
The two tankers — one carrying oil and the other transporting chemicals — were attacked near the strategically important Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping route that has been the focal point of regional tensions for decades. Roughly 30% of the world’s sea-borne crude oil passes through the strategic choke point, making it a flashpoint for political and economic friction.
Jonathan Cohen, acting US ambassador to the United Nations, said Thursday that he echoed Pompeo’s comments in a private meeting of the UN Security Council, describing the attack as “another example of Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region.”
The Iranian mission to the UN rejected the US’ claim.
Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for the Iranian mission, tweeted a statement saying Iran “categorically rejects the US unfounded claim” that Iran is behind the attacks and “condemns it in the strongest possible terms.”
He added that Iran “expresses concern” over the “suspicious incidents.” And he called it “ironic” that the US, which withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is now calling Iran to come back for negotiations and diplomacy.
This story and headline have been updated.

WASHINGTON — To President Trump, the question of culpability in the explosions that crippled two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman is no question at all. “It’s probably got essentially Iran written all over it,” he declared on Friday.

The question is whether the writing is clear to everyone else. For any president, accusing another country of an act of war presents an enormous challenge to overcome skepticism at home and abroad. But for a president known for falsehoods and crisis-churning bombast, the test of credibility appears far more daunting.

For two and a half years in office, Mr. Trump has spun out so many misleading or untrue statements about himself, his enemies, his policies, his politics, his family, his personal story, his finances and his interactions with staff that even his own former communications director once said “he’s a liar” and many Americans long ago concluded that he cannot be trusted.

Fact-checking Mr. Trump is a full-time occupation in Washington, and in no other circumstance is faith in a president’s word as vital as in matters of war and peace. The public grew cynical about presidents and intelligence after George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq based on false accusations of weapons of mass destruction, and the doubt spilled over to Barack Obama when he accused Syria of gassing its own people. As Mr. Trump confronts Iran, he carries the burden of their history and his own.

“The problem is twofold for them,” said John E. McLaughlin, a deputy C.I.A. director during the Iraq war. “One is people will always rightly question intelligence because it’s not an exact science. But the most important problem for them is their own credibility and contradictions.”

The task is all the more formidable for Mr. Trump, who himself has assailed the reliability of America’s intelligence agencies and even the intelligence chiefs he appointed, suggesting they could not be believed when their conclusions have not fit his worldview.

At one point shortly before taking the oath of office, he compared intelligence agencies to Nazi Germany and ever since has cast doubt on their findings about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. This year, he repudiated his intelligence chiefs for their assessments of issues like Iran, declaring that “they are wrong” and “should go back to school.” And just this week, he rebuked the C.I.A. for using a brother of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un as an informant, saying, “I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices.”

All of that can raise questions when international tension flares up, like the explosion of the two oil tankers on Thursday, a provocation that fueled anxiety about the world’s most important oil shipping route and the prospect of escalation into military conflict. When Mr. Trump told Fox News on Friday that “Iran did do it,” he was asking his country to accept his word.

“Trump’s credibility is about as solid as a snake oil salesman,” said Jen Psaki, who was the White House communications director and top State Department spokeswoman under Mr. Obama. “That may work for selling his particular brand to his political base, but during serious times, it leaves him without a wealth of good will and trust from the public that what he is saying is true even on an issue as serious as Iran’s complicity in the tanker explosions.”

White House officials declined to discuss the president’s credibility on the record on Friday, but a senior administration official who asked not to be identified said Mr. Trump was not hyping a threat to justify a war. If anything, Mr. Trump has made clear since becoming a presidential candidate that he did not favor the sort of military interventionism that characterized Mr. Bush’s presidency and, to a lesser extent, even Mr. Obama’s at times.

Indeed, in his telephone interview on Friday with Fox News, Mr. Trump offered a measured response, avoiding any kinds of threats or discussion of military action. While he condemned the Iranians, he has pointedly not publicly floated the possibility of retaliation, and, in fact, he once again said he was open to talks with Tehran. “I’m ready when they are,” he said.

Image
An oil tanker that was attacked this week.CreditISNA, via Reuters

Still, Mr. Trump’s strained relationship with the truth has been a defining feature of his presidency. As of June 7, The Washington Post’s fact-checker had counted 10,796 false or misleading claims since he took office.

The president dismisses that as so much “fake news” by journalists who are “enemies of the people.” Just this week, he told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News that he was the truthteller, not reporters. “I like the truth,” Mr. Trump said. “You know, I’m actually a very honest guy.”

But it has taken a toll on his credibility with the public. A Quinnipiac University poll last month found that only 35 percent of Americans trust Mr. Trump to tell the truth about important issues versus 52 percent who trusted the news media more.

When it came to this week’s oil tanker explosions, Mr. Trump at first left it to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to point the finger at Iran and he followed up a day later. To bolster the case, the United States military released video footage that American officers said showed an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps patrol boat pulling alongside one of the stricken ships several hours after the first explosion and removing an unexploded limpet mine in broad daylight. That mine is what Mr. Trump said had “Iran written all over it.”

Iran has denied responsibility and suggested that the episode was a “false flag” operation by the United States to frame it and justify aggression. But Iran has its own credibility issues, and even Mr. Trump’s critics were generally not rushing to accept Tehran’s word.

“Look, it could very well have been the Iranians,” said Trita Parsi, a scholar at Georgetown University and the founder of the National Iranian American Council. “I don’t think anyone can say they’re innocent.”

But Mr. Trump’s “relationship with the truth” is so suspect, he said, it argues for stepping back and not drawing conclusions until there is more evidence. “With this president, with the country already so divided, even those who support him may not be totally confident that everything he’s saying is truthful,” said Mr. Parsi, the author of “Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy.”

Even supporters of Mr. Trump’s tougher approach to Iran acknowledge the credibility challenge. Mark Wallace, the executive director of United Against Nuclear Iran and a strong critic of Mr. Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran that Mr. Trump has since renounced, said the government needs to rely on its career professionals to inform the public about Tehran’s activities.

“The one way of doing that is place the burden of persuasion and validating the facts on the military and intelligence community that at least is more immune to the politically charged atmosphere that we live in,” said Mr. Wallace, who was a diplomat at the United Nations under Mr. Bush. “With Iran, I’ve been surprised actually that it’s been relatively depoliticized.”

Much of the distrust traces back to Mr. Bush’s invasion of Iraq and the failure to find the weapons of mass destruction that he and intelligence agencies assured the public were there. Mr. McLaughlin acknowledged the damage that did to the public standing of the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies.

But he said the intelligence community has reformed itself since then. “There really has been an enormous effort to take stock of that and use that,” he said. “And intelligence has been right about an awful lot since then.”

“The problem with intelligence is it’s always contentious, it’s always arguable,” Mr. McLaughlin added. “But at some point you have to settle on a bottom line and he often doesn’t believe in a bottom line on intelligence. So how do you believe what he says?”

As he reflected on the moment, he added, “It’s a pretty dangerous situation I think.”

President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn has a court date for the first time since last year.

In a Friday afternoon filing, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered Flynn and his new counsel to appear for a status conference Wednesday afternoon. The filing comes the same day as Flynn’s new lawyer and prosecutors jointly requested a sentencing delay.

Flynn, 60, fired his previous counsel this month and retained former federal prosecutor Sidney Powell as his new attorney. In Friday’s joint request, it is noted that Flynn might testify during the trial of his former business associate, Bijan Kian, whose trial for failing to register as a foreign agent is scheduled for mid-July in the Eastern District of Virginia.

“The parties propose filing another status report within 60 days. Based on the current trial date in the [Eastern District of Virginia] case and estimated length of that trial, the government believes 60 days should provide sufficient time for the defendant to complete his cooperation, which was the basis for the defendant’s request for a continuance,” the filing reads.

Flynn’s new legal counsel also cited the voluminous amount of information associated with his case that will need to be parsed through.

“Defense counsel’s concerns about the amount of information to review in preparation for sentencing will be addressed again in 60 days, when the defendant’s cooperation is likely to be complete,” the filing reads.

Flynn, who was investigated as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s 22-month investigation, pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with then-Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. The former Army general has been cooperating with prosecutors from the investigation.

He has not appeared in a courtroom since December.

Multiple ABC affiliates aided President Trump’s campaign efforts by directing readers to wish the president a happy birthday and fill out the campaign’s fundraising lists in the process.

At least five ABC outlets ran digital news stories telling readers how they can wish the president a happy birthday before eventually deleting the posts, according to the Daily Beast. The stories linked back to a webpage run by the Trump reelection campaign with instructions on how to send the president an internet birthday card.

The birthday card asks signatories to share personal information such as their names, phone numbers, and ZIP codes. The page requires each person to input an email address, which the campaign would contact later for funds or promotions.

“Happy Birthday, Mr. President!” each story said. “To help him celebrate, the GOP has made him a digital birthday card … Those who want to leave their well wishes can do so on the GOP’s website.” Trump turned 73 on Friday.

The stories published did not follow ABC’s editorial standards, an ABC spokesperson said.

The initial story was published by an overnight producer and other stations quickly syndicated it in several large markets including New York, Philadelphia, and Houston. The stories have since scrubbed from each site.

Many politicians use their birthdays to help fill out fundraising lists, but a media outlet aiding in the strategy is rare. In 2010, Time magazine helped then-President Barack Obama fill out his campaign’s fundraising lists by directing readers to wish the president a happy birthday.

Publicly available fundraising figures show Trump leading all the Democratic presidential candidates. Trump’s campaign committee has raised roughly $93 million so far, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Bernie Sanders’ committee has the second most cash of any 2020 presidential candidate at roughly $21 million. However, many of the figures are weeks old and other candidates, such as former Vice President Joe Biden, have yet to officially report their funds.

The federal government has yet to pay more than $7 million in expenses from President Trump’s inauguration in 2017.

Washington, D.C., was forced to use money from funds that typically cover annual security costs for protecting the city from terror threats, during demonstrations and hosting visits from foreign dignities and state funerals, the Washington Post reports.

The report comes as Trump plans to speak at the Lincoln Memorial on the Fourth of July, an event which will have security costs of its own.

A senior Trump administration official said the nation’s capital was given the funding it originally requested to cover inauguration costs. When the costs were higher than anticipated, the administration “worked closely with D.C.” and decided to use money from the security fund. The official said the city has not asked for additional money.

City officials disputed that was the case. They said they asked for more money before and after the inauguration.

Trump Says He WILL NOT Fire Kellyanne Conway. What Do You Think About The Hatch Act?

Iranian vessel removed unexploded mine from stricken oil tanker in Gulf of Oman, US officials say

An Iranian vessel removed an unexploded mine that had been attached to a Japanese-owned oil tanker that suffered serious damage after an explosion in the Gulf of Oman early Thursday, U.S. officials told Fox News, as the U.S. Navy released video purportedly showing the incident. The imagery came from the USS See More Bainbridge, a guided-missile destroyer that rescued 21 sailors from the stricken tanker.

At least one other mine attached to the tanker’s hull detonated, causing the blast. It happened near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a key route for oil shipments in the region. A U.S. official told Fox News an Iranian gunboat approached the Kokuka Courageous later in the day and removed the unexploded triangular-shaped limpet mine, the same type of mine used to damage four other tankers in the Gulf of Oman last month.

WH press secretary Sarah Sanders will leave office by the end of the month, Trump says

President Trump wrote Thursday on Twitter that White House press secretary Sarah Sanders will be leaving her position at the end of the month. “After 3 1/2 years, our wonderful Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be leaving the White House at the end of the month and going home to the Great State of Arkansas,” Trump wrote. “She is a very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an incredible job! I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas – she would be fantastic. Sarah, thank you for a job well done!”

The president has not yet named a replacement for Sanders. His announcement came moments before he made remarks at a White House event on its “Second Chance” program boosting the hiring of criminals who have served their sentences.

Julian Castro admits Hatch Act ‘mistake,’ calls for Kellyanne Conway’s termination, in Fox News Town Hall

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro told Fox News on Thursday night that White House adviser Kellyanne Conway should be fired for violating the Hatch Act — the same federal law Castro himself was found to have violated in 2016. The 2020 White House contender’s remarks came in a Fox News Town Hall in Tempe, Ariz., hosted by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.

Man killed by US Marshals Service was wanted in connection with Mississippi shooting

A 20-year-old black man whose Wednesday shooting death by a fugitive task force sparked a night of violence and unrest in a Memphis, Tenn., neighborhood, was wanted for a shooting in Mississippi, according to media reports. DeSoto County District Attorney John Champion said Brandon Webber was being sought on aggravated assault and armed robbery charges related to a shooting during a car theft in Hernando, Miss., on June 3. The victim was shot five times and survived, Champion said.

Toronto Raptors win first NBA championship in franchise history
The Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors 114-110 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night in Oakland, Calif. The Warriors played without Kevin Durant, who injured his Achilles tendon in the last series. Golden State was 0-3 at home against Toronto this season, losing all three games by double digits. Game 6 was the final time the Warriors played at Oracle Arena, their home for 47 seasons. The team moves to the Chase Center in San Francisco next season.

TODAY’S MUST-READS
2nd suspect tied in Benghazi terror attack convicted on 2 counts
CNN boss Jeff Zucker makes sexual joke about star anchor during award ceremony: report.
Oberlin College to pay bakery the now-massive sum of $44M over racism dispute.

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS
Fake online videos growing corporate threat: Cybersecurity expert.
Elizabeth Warren to introduce bill to ‘cancel’ student debt for millions.
Colorado’s marijuana revenue surpasses $1B.

SOME PARTING WORDS

Hannity calls out the left’s selective outrage over Trump’s comments that he would listen to foreign entities with information on a political opponent while ignoring foreign election interference that was bought and paid for by Hillary Clinton and the DNC.

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Two oil tankers on fire in the Gulf Of Omar has led the U.S. to blame Iran for the strikes. This could lead to a larger conflict in the region. Military expert Matt Braken joins the War Room to discuss and takes calls on what happened. Also, the open borders continue to be an immediate danger.

GUEST // (OTP/Skype) // TOPICS:
Matt Bracken//Skype

Source: The War Room

TRUMP tells George Stephanopoulos “there isn’t anything wrong with listening” to foreign info about rivals, what do you think?

Trump says he ‘would want to hear’ info on 2020 rivals from foreign governments – and outrage follows
Democrats are outraged after President Trump said in an interview Wednesday that he would be willing to listen to foreign governments if they approached him with information on a political rival. “I think I’d want to hear it. … I See More think you might want to listen. There isn’t anything wrong with listening,” he said in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. Trump added he would not necessarily contact the FBI if such an approach was made, fueling Democrats’ ire. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., a 2020 candidate for president, tweeted, “It’s time for Congress to begin impeachment hearings.”

Still, Trump supporters point out that Democrats may be hypocrites on this issue, as they failed to condemn fellow Democrats, including representatives of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), for funding the creation of the infamous and discredited anti-Trump “Steele dossier” by former British spy Christopher Steele. Fox News’ Sean Hannity called the Trump-Stephanopoulos interview a “nonstory” and a “genius setup”by Trump for his foes in the “media mob.” The interview was released hours after House Judiciary Committee Democrats announced that former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks has agreed to testify before the panel next week on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

Brother of ‘Shark Tank’ star Barbara Corcoran found dead in Dominican Republic hotel room
The intrigue surrounding vacation spots in the Dominican Republic deepened Wednesday with the news that Jonathan Corcoran, a retired New Jersey businessman and brother of ABC “Shark Tank” judge Barbara Corcoran, was found dead in a hotel room there in April. Jonathan Corcoran’s death was first reported by the gossip site TMZ and confirmed to Fox News by Emily Burke, Barbara Corcoran’s assistant. The revelation comes as the popular Caribbean vacation spot is making worldwide headlines with a recent rash of suspicious deaths of U.S. tourists plus the shooting of retired Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. It was unclear where Corcoran stayed at the time of his death. TMZ said no one knows exactly what led to his death, though Barbara Corcoran told the outlet that she was told he had a heart attack.

Six suspects, including alleged gunman, in custody in David Ortiz shooting
Six suspects have been detained in the shooting of former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz, including the alleged gunman, authorities in the Dominican Republic said Wednesday. Four other suspects were being pursued in the shooting, which witnesses said was carried out by two men on a motorcycle and two other groups of people in cars, the country’s chief prosecutor, Jean Alain Rodríguez, told a news conference. Authorities identified the alleged shooter as Rolfy Ferreyra, aka Sandy. Police Maj. Gen. Ney Aldrin Bautista Almonte said the coordinator of the attack also was among the suspects in custody. He claimed the man was offered 400,000 Dominican pesos, or about $7,800, to carry out the shooting Sunday evening at a popular Santo Domingo bar.

Two oil tankers damaged in suspected attack in the Gulf of Oman, crew evacuated
Two oil tankers were damaged in a suspected attack off the Gulf of Oman early Thursday, according to multiple reports. The U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet told Reuters it was assisting two tankers in the Gulf of Oman after receiving two distress calls. “We are aware of the reported attack on tankers in the Gulf of Oman. U.S. Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6:12 a.m. local time and a second one at 7:00 a.m.,” Joshua Frey of the Fifth Fleet said. The Fleet did not blame anyone for the attack..

Tonight: Fox News town hall with 2020 Dem Julian Castro 
Fox News is scheduled to host 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary, for a town hall at 6:30 p.m. ET Thursday. “Special Report” host Bret Baier and “The Story” host Martha MacCallum will moderate the one-hour event live from Phoenix.

Baier and MacCallum recently moderated similar events with 2020 hopefuls Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and potential candidate Howard Schultz. Their Fox News colleague Chris Wallace moderated a town hall with South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who’s also in the running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Tune in to Fox News tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET. 

52 years in the making: St. Louis Blues win their first-ever Stanley Cup championship
The St. Louis Blues beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Wednesday night’s deciding game for the Stanley Cup, to win their firstchampionship. The victory was 52 years in the making. Ryan O’Reilly scored for the fourth straight game and rookie Jordan Binnington stopped 32 shots in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Alex Pietrangelo added a goal and an assist and Brayden Schenn and Zach Sanford also scored for St. Louis. The Blues’ championship run is remarkable because it was so unthinkable just five months ago. The team woke up on New Year’s Day with the worst record in the league but then won 30 of their final 49 regular-season games and soared through the playoffs to reach the final for the first time since 1970.

TODAY’S MUST-READS
12 white men sue San Francisco PD for racial, gender bias in promotions. 
Nation’s first black priest, an ex-slave, may be on his way to sainthood.
‘X-Men’ director Bryan Singer to pay $150G to settle sex assault claim: report.

MINDING YOUR BUSINESS
General Motors to put $150M toward Michigan plant to ramp up production, company says.
This is how Americans spend their money based on their education level.
Top five vacation spots targetedby online booking scams: report.

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On Monday, the U.S. State Department confirmed that back in April, an American tourist named Robert Wallace died under mysterious circumstances at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana. According to his niece, Wallace, 67, was last seen having a Scotch from the hotel mini bar before he fell ill.

“He started feeling very sick, he had blood in his urine and stool right afterward,” Wallace’s niece, Chloe Arnold, said. He died in a local hospital three days later.

Wallace’s death, while strange, wouldn’t be considered all that unusual, if not for the fact that it is the latest in a string of recent mysterious deaths of American tourists in the Dominican Republic. Most recently, an American couple was found dead at the Grand Bahía Principe La Romana in the Dominican Republic, with investigators saying that while no cause of death has yet been determined, no signs of violence were reported on the scene. Last month, a 41-year-old tourist from Pennsylvania was found dead in the same hotel, reportedly also after having a drink from the minibar.

The FBI is working with Dominican Republic officials to determine whether there’s any link between the deaths, but toxicology report results aren’t expected for at least a month. In the meantime, here’s what’s been going on in the Dominican Republic, and what we know about the tourist deaths so far.

How many tourists have died under mysterious circumstances in the Dominican Republic?
According to the State Department, Wallace’s death marks the fourth mysterious death of an American tourist in the Dominican Republic. But according to CBS News, there have been at least six tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic in the past year alone. Two of the deaths have been at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana, while four took place at Bahia Principe hotels. (In a statement to Rolling Stone, a representative for the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana said that “the safety and health of our guests is now, and has always been our highest priority,” and that they have protocols to ensure the safety of their guests, including daily inspections of their mini bars. Representatives for Grand Bahía did not respond to a request for comment, but in a post on Twitter on June 7th, the resort disputed recent media reports about the deaths of American tourists, saying that it “completely disagree[d] with the dissemination of false information issued publicly which threatens the image and reputation of the company,” adding that the hotel chain “would like to express our deep respect to the authorities and the ongoing investigations. We reiterate our firm commitment to collaborating completely with the authorities and the ongoing investigations.”)

In addition to Wallace, a Pennsylvania psychotherapist named Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41, was found dead in her hotel room on May 25th. She was staying at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville hotel, an adults-only hotel in the town of San Pedro de Maconis. A preliminary autopsy report found that she had died of a heart attack, and the resort told CNN that her husband said she had a history of heart conditions. She also had fluid in her lungs and respiratory failure, according to the report. Curiously, Schaup-Werner also fell ill after having a drink from the minibar, though she was staying at a different resort than Wallace.

On May 30th, a mere few days after Schaup-Werner was found dead, employees at the same resort found Maryland couple Edward Nathaniel Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Ann Day, 49, dead in their hotel room after they missed their checkout time. They had been staying at the Bahia Principe La Romana, another hotel at the same resort.

Like Schaup-Werner, Day and Holmes were found to have fluid in their lungs and evidence of respiratory failure, according to a statement issued by the Dominican Republic National Police following a preliminary autopsy report. Also like Schaup-Werner, there was evidence that one of them had a preexisting condition. Holmes’ autopsy indicated that he had an enlarged heart and signs of cirrhosis of the liver, and blood pressure medication and a bottle of oxycodone were found in their hotel room.

Tourism Minister Francisco Garcia initially denied that the deaths were connected, insisting that the country was still safe to visit. But following the discovery of Day and Holmes, as well as reports that the three tourists had fluid in their lungs at the time of their deaths, investigators started to investigate whether there was a link between the three tourists’ deaths.

In addition to the deaths of Wallace, Schaup-Werner, Day, and Holmes, which all took place within a two-month period, at least two other tourists have died under mysterious circumstances in the Dominican Republic in the last year, CBS News reports — also at Bahia Principe hotels. Yvette Monique Sport, 51, died of a heart attack at the Bahia Principe in Punta Cana in June 2018, reportedly after she too had a drink from the minibar. And David Harrison, 45, also died of a heart attack and pulmonary edema during his stay at the Punta Cana Hard Rock Hotel and Casino last year — the same hotel where Wallace died last April.

“We went down there as a happy family, and we came home a broken family,” his widow, Dawn McCoy, told Maryland news station WTOP. “I came home a widow and my 12-year-old son came home fatherless.”

There have also been nearly 70 reports of tourists reporting symptoms of food-borne illness in the Dominican Republic since March alone, according to the website IWasPoisoned.com. More than half of these reports came from tourists who stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Punta Cana.

One couple from Colorado has also reported becoming violently ill after staying at the Grand Bahia Principe La Romana Resort, where Holmes and Day were found dead. They told KMGH/CNN that their doctor told them they had likely suffered the effects of “organo-phosphate poisoning,” or poisoning from chemicals used in some pesticides. They are suing the hotel and seeking $1 million in damages.

Is the Dominican Republic safe?
For now, it appears that the answer is a tentative yes. Although the U.S. State Department issued a level 2 travel advisory warning for tourists visiting the island back in April (for reference, there are four levels of advisory warnings, with a level 2 urging visitors to “exercise increased caution”), it appeared to be due to concerns about “violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide, and sexual assault” and not illness.

Tourism Minister Francisco Garcia has denied that the deaths were connected, referring to them as “isolated incidents” and insisting that the country was still safe to visit. And security experts seem to agree with this assessment. “It’s not an overly dangerous place,” Matthew Bradley, the director of security organization International SOS, told Time. “I would still consider the Dominican Republic a safe place to go.”

Tourism is an incredibly popular industry in the Dominican Republic: the island attracts nearly two million American visitors per year, and tourism accounts for about 17% of the country’s GDP,  according to one 2014 paper.

This story has been updated to include comment from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana. 


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