House Republicans rally to Trump’s defense with call for DA Alvin Bragg to testify – as it happened

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From 9h ago

Donald Trump is the Republican party’s once and potentially future president, since he is again running for the party’s nomination in 2024. Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg’s looming indictment has thus put the party in a pickle – but could also have its benefits.

GOP politicians spent the weekend reacting to the news that an indictment was coming, with several saying it would ultimately be a good thing for Trump’s presidential chances. Here’s Senator Lindsey Graham, a top ally of the former president:

Even his former vice-president-turned-naysayer Mike Pence called the Manhattan district attorney’s case a “politically charged prosecution”, before bringing up one of the GOP’s usual attack lines.

“I’m taken aback at the idea of indicting a former President of the United States, at a time when there’s a crime wave in New York City … the fact that the Manhattan DA thinks that indicting President Trump is his top priority, I think is, just tells you everything you need to know about the radical left in this country,” he told ABC News.

That said, Trump seemed to be going it alone when he called for his supporters to protest the indictment. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy – another Trump ally – was quick to swat that idea down:

Hello again, it’s been a lively day in US political news and we’ll have more coverage tomorrow in the blog that keeps you abreast of developments as they happen. The blog is closing for now, but thanks for dipping in. There is much other coverage on the rest of the website, of course, on politics, international news and so many other topics and issues.

Here’s where things stand:

  • Washington, DC, appears to be making preparations for crowds and any trouble in the unprecedented event that former US president Donald Trump is criminally indicted. He’s the subject of several criminal investigations but could be charged in a case in New York this week.

  • Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg appears set to indict Donald Trump for the hush money payment he allegedly facilitated to adult film actor Stormy Daniels.

  • Trump won’t fight extradition to New York from his residence in Florida, should he be charged, a campaign insider told the Guardian.

  • Fani Willis, the Georgia district attorney investigating the Trump campaign’s attempts to overturn the state’s 2020 election result, is said to be considering racketeering and conspiracy charges.

  • Some Republicans think an indictment would be a good thing for Trump.

Former New York City mayor and personal lawyer to Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, has been ordered to appear tomorrow in a civil case in Washington, DC, by two Georgia election workers who accuse him of making false claims that put them in physical danger and threatened their livelihoods, according to a new report.

The two former election workers filed a defamation lawsuit in late 2021 against Giuliani and also against the rightwing One America News Network and several of its senior executives.

During the 2020 election, Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, worked as poll workers counting ballots at State Farm Arena in Fulton county, Georgia. They claim they became the center of a series of unfounded conspiracy theories promoted by Giuliani, who was then serving as an advisor to Trump, and OAN news network.

“As a result of their vital service, Ms Freeman and Ms Moss have become the objects of vitriol, threats, and harassment,” they said in the December, 2021 complaint, filed in federal court in Washington.

“They found themselves in this unenviable position not based on anything they did, but instead because of a campaign of malicious lies designed to accuse them of interfering with a fair and impartial election, which is precisely what each of them swore an oath to protect,” the suit said.

Last summer, Freeman and Moss appeared before the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection by Trump extremists, and the Guardian reported at the time that they gave powerful and emotional testimony about the sinister results of Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election and described how he and his allies upended their lives, fueling harassment and racist threats by claiming they were involved in voter fraud.

Testifying to the January 6 committee in Washington, Shaye Moss said she received “a lot of threats. Wishing death upon me. Telling me that I’ll be in jail with my mother and saying things like, ‘Be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920.’”

That was a reference to lynching, the violent extra-judicial fate of thousands of Black men in the American south.

Here’s one view from a member of the public:

New York City is not the only place preparing for crowds in the event that Donald Trump is criminally charged in that city first amid the numerous criminal cases against him.

Washington, DC, is also reportedly making preparations ahead of any indictment of the former US president. There is no confirmation yet that he will be indicted, when or for exactly what crimes, so this is all early stage.

But clearly the US Capitol was unprepared when pro-Trump extremists stormed Congress on January 6, 2021 in an effort to prevent the official certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over the Republican president in the November 2020 election.

So even if he is indicted and his calls for protest don’t amount to much, law enforcement don’t want to be caught out.

Philadelphia officials announced a $9.25 million settlement Monday with hundreds of people over several lawsuits challenging the police response to the protests and civil disorder in 2020 after George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Officials said the money will be distributed among 343 plaintiffs in connection with police actions during the protests that erupted in west Philadelphia and along Interstate 676 in the city center that spring. In addition, a grant will provide $500,000 to $600,000 for mental health counseling for west Philadelphia residents, the Associated Press reports.

Videos of Philadelphia police firing tear gas on June 1, 2020, at dozens of protesters trapped on I-676 by SWAT team officers on both sides — many unable to retreat to an on-ramp and clambering to get up a steep embankment and over a concrete wall and fence — were spread widely on social media.

Attorneys suing over events the day before in and around a west Philadelphia business corridor that is the heart of a predominantly Black neighborhood said witnesses reported residential communities turned into a war zone, with tanks traveling on side streets “chasing residents into their homes and indiscriminately firing canisters of tear gas at them.”

Mayor Jim Kenney and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw faced harsh criticism in two audits of the planning and response to the protests, which included multiple clashes, the burning of police cars and instances of opportunistic thefts and vandalism in business districts. One review cited failures in planning that researchers said led to short staffing, emotional responses from officers and sometimes excessive uses of force.

Idaho wants to bring back execution by firing squad, the Associated Press reports, with the Republican-dominated legislature passing a bill to employ the method in instances where they can’t get the drugs for lethal injection.

If signed into law by GOP governor Brad Little, the northwestern state would join South Carolina, Mississippi, Utah and Oklahoma in allowing the method to be used. However, there is a divide within the Idaho GOP over whether shooting prisoners to death is a good idea, the AP reports:

Sen. Doug Ricks, a Republican who co-sponsored the bill, told his fellow senators on Monday that the state’s difficulty in finding lethal injection drugs could continue “indefinitely” and that he believes death by firing squad is “humane.”

“This is a rule of law issue — our criminal system should work and penalties should be exacted,” Ricks said.

But Sen. Dan Foreman, also a Republican, said firing-squad executions would traumatize the people who who carry them out, the people who witness them and the people who clean up afterward.

“I’ve seen the aftermath of shootings, and it’s psychologically damaging to anybody who witnesses it,” Foreman said. “The use of the firing squad is, in my opinion, beneath the dignity of the state of Idaho.”

The bill originated with Republican Rep. Bruce Skaug, prompted in part by the state’s inability to execute Gerald Pizzuto Jr. late last year. Pizzuto, who now has terminal cancer and other debilitating illnesses, has spent more than three decades on death row for his role in the 1985 slayings of two gold prospectors.

The Idaho Department of Correction estimates that it will cost around $750,000 to build or retrofit a death chamber for firing squad executions.

If Donald Trump is indicted, it will be a first for the United States, but not unheard of for countries worldwide.

Axios has a rundown of all the countries where heads of state have faced criminal charges after their terms in office, totaling at least 76 nations. They include a number of gray-area cases, as well as those that occurred in democracies younger than America’s, or in states with other systems of government.

But a number happened in wealthy democratic nations similar to the United States – such as France, where former president Nicolas Sarkozy has been given jail terms for campaign finance violations, as well as corruption and influence peddling charges. He’s appealing the verdicts.

Or consider the case of South Korea’s former president Park Geun-hye. She was sentenced to 22 years in prison in 2018 for corruption, but pardoned by her successor two years ago.

Asked in the daily briefing about Donald Trump’s calls to protest against his impending indictment, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre essentially dodges.

That’s per the Guardian’s David Smith, who is at the White House:

National security council spokesman John Kirby appeared at the White House press conference and shared the Biden administration’s view of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s visit to the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol yesterday:

Today, Putin is hosting Chinese president Xi Jinping amid fears Beijing could begin supplying Russia with weapons to help its flagging invasion. For the latest on their high-stakes talks, follow the Guardian’s live blog:

While an indictment of Donald Trump for allegedly paying hush money ahead of the 2016 presidential election would make history, it’s far from the only time dirty tricks have been used in a White House campaign, the Guardian’s Adam Gabbatt reports:

A former Texas governor met Middle Eastern leaders in 1980 to convince Iran to delay releasing American hostages as part of a Republican effort to sabotage Jimmy Carter’s re-election campaign, according to a news report.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that John Connally, who served as Texas’s Democratic governor from 1963 to 1969 and ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980, traveled to a number of countries in the summer leading up to the 1980 election.

By that time Ronald Reagan had secured the Republican nomination, and the re-election campaign from his Democratic rival Carter was struggling in the midst of the crisis that resulted from more than 50 Americans being taken hostage from the US embassy in Tehran.

Donald Trump’s looming indictment has already had one concrete political effect: convincing a rising Republican lawmaker to back the former president, rather than his most prominent challenger Ron DeSantis.

The endorsement came from Anna Paulina Luna, a newly arrived House Republican from Florida who previously said she was partial to Trump in the presidential race, but has now cited Alvin Bragg’s pending charges in giving the former president her full backing.

In a statement to the New York Times, Luna said, “I support President Trump,” and calls Bragg’s prosecution “unheard-of, and Americans should see it for what it is: an abuse of power and fascist overreach of the justice system.”

Joe Biden’s veto of a Republican bill banning the consideration of corporate governance and climate change risks by retirement funds is not sitting well with Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator who’s been a thorn in the side of his administration’s fight against climate change.

While Manchin played a pivotal role in passing the Inflation Reduction Act, Washington’s biggest legislative measure against climate change, that only happened after he swatted down proposals that would have been more effective in curbing America’s emissions.

In a statement released following Biden’s veto, the West Virginia lawmaker lambasted Biden for vetoing legislation he supported:

This Administration continues to prioritize their radical policy agenda over the economic, energy and national security needs of our country, and it is absolutely infuriating. West Virginians are under increasing stress as we continue to recover from a once in a generation pandemic, pay the bills amid record inflation, and face the largest land war in Europe since World War II. The Administration’s unrelenting campaign to advance a radical social and environmental agenda is only exacerbating these challenges. This ESG rule will weaken our energy, national and economic security while jeopardizing the hard-earned retirement savings of 150 million West Virginians and Americans. Despite a clear and bipartisan rejection of the rule from Congress, President Biden is choosing to put his Administration’s progressive agenda above the well-being of the American people.”

Meanwhile, at the White House, Joe Biden just vetoed the first bill of his administration: Republican-backed legislation that overturns a labor department rule allowing retirement fund managers to consider aspects like good corporate governance and climate change risks in their investment strategies.

In a brief video released by the White House, Biden said the legislation was the work of the Republican party’s extreme right flank:

It passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives with only one Democratic vote, while in the Senate, it was able to pass only after centrist senators Joe Manchin and Jon Tester, who represent red states and are up for re-election next year, voted for it.

Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg appears set to indict Donald Trump for the hush money payment he allegedly facilitated to adult film actor Stormy Daniels. The history-making charges could come as soon as today, reports indicate, and been met with a furious reaction from Trump and his allies in the House GOP, who are demanding Bragg sit for an interview and hand over documents. Meanwhile, police in New York are preparing to arrest the former president, and for the possibility that Trump’s supporters heed his call made over the weekend for protests.

Here’s what else has happened today so far:

  • Trump won’t fight extradition to New York from his residence in Florida, should he be charged, a campaign insider told the Guardian.

  • Fani Willis, the Georgia district attorney investigating the Trump campaign’s attempts to overturn the state’s 2020 election result, is said to be considering racketeering and conspiracy charges.

  • Some Republicans think an indictment would be a good thing for Trump.

Now, some news from yet another one of the investigations into Donald Trump, this one involving his possession of classified documents.

On Friday, the special federal prosecutor handling that inquiry, Jack Smith, won a court ruling compelling more testimony from Trump’s attorney Evan Corcoran. Corcoran had already appeared before a grand jury convened by Smith to investigate the government secrets found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, but cited attorney-client privilege to avoid answering some questions.

In response to a petition from Smith, a federal judge overruled Corcoran’s privilege claims, finding that some of the advice he gave Trump could have been used to commit a crime.

Today, CNN said they’d spotted Corcoran going into the Washington DC federal courthouse where the grand jury is hearing testimony – indicating that he may be about to tell Smith whatever he tried to avoid saying:

Donald Trump could be indicted as soon as today or Wednesday, Politico reports.

New York law enforcement officials are meeting today at police department headquarters to plan for the possibility that he will be arrested, the report said. “We’ll be discussing how we bring Trump in,” a person involved in planning for his arrest said. “No decisions have been made yet.”

Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida who is Donald Trump’s closest rival for the Republican presidential nomination, has broken his silence over Trump’s looming indictment in New York.

He did so by mocking the notion that hush money payments to a porn star might be seen as indictable conduct, and repeating an antisemitic dogwhistle.

An indictment is expected this week. On Sunday, the New York Times reported that Trump allies were pressing DeSantis to join Trump allies in Congress in condemning Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney. On Monday morning, speaking to reporters at a college in Panama City, the governor did.

Asked about the prospect of Trump being extradited to New York (the former president having been a Florida resident since leaving power), DeSantis said: “So I’ve seen rumors swirl. I’ve not seen any facts yet. And so I don’t know what’s going to happen.

“But I do know this, that the Manhattan district attorney is a Soros-funded prosecutor. And so he like other Soros-funded prosecutors, they weaponise their office to impose a political agenda on society at the expense of the rule of law and public safety”.

George Soros, a Hungarian-American progressive financier and philanthropist, is a boogeyman for Republicans and a regular target for antisemitic invective.

DeSantis mentioned “Soros funded prosecutors” five times in a two-minute answer about Trump’s hush money payment to the porn star Stormy Daniels.

That included a boast about “remov[ing] one from office”, presumably a reference to the case of Andrew Warren, a Democrat twice elected in Hillsborough county but suspended for saying he would not pursue charges against anyone seeking an abortion or gender transition treatment.

DeSantis also tried to hit Bragg over his record on crime, a common Republican tactic.

To laughter, DeSantis said: “I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair. I can’t speak to that.

“But what I can speak to is that if you have a prosecutor who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in his jurisdiction and he chooses to go back many, many years ago, to try to use something about porn star hush money payments, you know, that’s an example of pursuing a political agenda and weaponising the office and I think that’s fundamentally wrong.”

Source: US Politics -


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