Manhattan prosecutor says Trump created ‘false expectation’ of imminent arrest – as it happened

From 7h ago

Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg has rejected demands from House Republican leaders to provide testimony and documents related to his investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged hush money payment.

In a letter to the chairs of the House judiciary, administration and oversight committees, Bragg called the request “an unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution.”

He continued:

The Letter only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day and his lawyers repeatedly urged you to intervene. Neither fact is a legitimate basis for congressional inquiry.

However, Bragg did agree to provide details into how his office has used federal funds, and requested a meeting to “understand whether the committee has any legitimate legislative interest in the requested materials”.

Here’s the full letter, obtained by the Associated Press and Axios:

The answer to whether a Manhattan grand jury is going to indict Donald Trump will have to wait until next week, at least, after prosecutors opted against bringing up the case before jurors today. But district attorney Alvin Bragg did find time to respond to House Republicans who had earlier this week issued a flurry of demands of his office, after Trump alleged that he would soon be arrested. Bragg’s response: get lost.

Here’s what else happened today:

  • TikTok’s CEO is getting grilled by House lawmakers. Follow along at our live blog.

  • Special prosecutor Jack Smith’s next prize may be getting Mike Pence to testify as part of his investigations into Trump.

  • A new book pulls back the curtain at the supreme court, focusing on the months when the new conservative bloc flexed its muscles.

  • The parents of a student killed in the Parkland school shooting were removed by police after disrupting a hearing on gun control convened by House Republicans.

  • Ron DeSantis walked back his comment that Russia’s invasions of Ukraine was a “territorial dispute”.

A rightwing extremist who was convicted on charges related to breaching the Capitol on January 6 and directing the mob towards Nancy Pelosi has been sentenced to three years in prison, NBC News reports.

Federal prosecutors argued that Riley Williams “led an army” of rioters to Pelosi’s office after they breached the Capitol, and stood by as one stole a laptop the House speaker used for her Zoom meetings. In delivering her sentence, federal judge Amy Berman said what Williams did was “utterly reprehensible”.

Here’s more from NBC News:

Williams’ federal public defender Lori Ulrich said that while Williams might have “distasteful” beliefs, she was a young woman equipped with only a “cell phone and her fuzzy zebra bag” who even posted at one point that she was “STORMING THE WHITE HOUSE” when she was, in fact, in the legislative branch. Williams, her defense argued, “wanted to be somebody.”

At the hearing ahead of her sentencing, Williams said she is embarrassed watching the actions of the “young and stupid girl” she now sees in all of those videos. She said she is now “a responsible woman” and had been “addicted to the internet since before I can remember.”

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel Dalke argued that Williams was not some “impulsive Gen-Z gadfly” or “the Forrest Gump of January 6.” Williams “participated in domestic terrorism, plain and simple.” Dalke said.

Williams was ultimately convicted on six counts: felony civil disorder, resisting and impeding certain officers, and four misdemeanor charges. The jury deadlocked on a count of obstruction of an official proceeding as well as on the question of whether Williams aided and abetted the theft of Pelosi’s laptop.

Jackson had ordered Williams remanded after the verdict, saying she had “no confidence whatsoever” that Williams had respect for the rule of law.

The Guardian’s Adam Gabbatt spent time outside the Manhattan courthouse where a grand jury was widely expected to decide on the indictment of Donald Trump this week, but ended up not doing so. You could say it was a bit anticlimactic:

Over the weekend Donald Trump set off an international maelstrom of media attention when he announced he would be “arrested on Tuesday”.

Like so many of Trump’s certain proclamations, it proved to be throughly wrong, and the grand jury weighing whether to charge Trump over payments to an adult film star is now unlikely to deliver its verdict until next week.

Trump’s declaration, however, did succeed in creating a week-long spectacle outside the Manhattan criminal court, which is now protected by metal barriers and police amid a widespread tightening of security in New York.

On Monday a small group of Trump supporters – estimates place the number at between five and 20 – and much, much larger groups of journalists flooded to the court, in the south of the island of Manhattan.

Those on the right hailed the smattering of people holding pro-Trump signs as a bold show of support for the twice-impeached, legally besieged former US president.

But by that measure, support had evaporated on Thursday. There was not a single Trump supporter or protester – a small group of anti-Trumpers had also been present earlier in the week – outside the court. Only the journalists, from all the big TV stations and a lot of the smaller ones, remained, sitting looking glum in sheeting New York rain.

Outside the court, which has found itself the subject of so much global attention this week, loomed behind waist-high metal barricades.

Meanwhile, the Senate is finishing up work on legislation repeal the legal authorizations for America’s involvement in the Gulf war and 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Majority leader Chuck Schumer has filed cloture on the measure, a key step before senators take their final votes:

The parents of a student killed in the 2018 Parkland shooting were today removed from a House subcommittee hearing convened by Republicans to examine alleged “actions aimed at curtailing the ability of lawful gun owners to exercise their Second Amendment rights” by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Here’s the moment when it happened:

The chairs of subcommittees of the judiciary and oversight panels called the hearing in response to a January rule from the ATF, which found that pistols with stabilizing braces should be regulated as rifles.

Maxwell Alejandro Frost, a newly elected House Democrat who has been outspoken against gun violence, ended up walking out the hearing after condemning it as politicized:

Donald Trump is predictably pleased by the apparent delays in Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg’s efforts to indict him.

A grand jury was expected to decide this week whether the former president should face charges for allegedly facilitating a hush money payment just before the 2016 election, but that vote has reportedly been pushed to next week, at the soonest. Here’s a statement Trump just put out:

Total disarray in the Manhattan D.A.’s Office. Tremendous dissension and chaos because they have NO CASE, and many of the honest people in the Office know it, and want to do the right thing. They think back to the Late, Great, Bob Morgenthau, the best ever, and know what he would have done. JUSTICE FOR ALL!

Morgenthau was the Manhattan district attorney from 1975 to 2009, who Trump reportedly believed would not have pursued legal action against him.

Though he wasn’t at the White House, Barack Obama also celebrated the 13th anniversary of the day he signed the Affordable Care Act:

Joe Biden reserved part of his remarks about the Affordable Care Act to call out the “Maga Republicans” he cast as ruining the GOP.

“The Affordable Care Act has been law for 13 years. It has developed deep roots in this country, become a critical part of providing health care and saving lives. We always talked about the cost but it saves lives as well,” Biden said. “Obviously, that doesn’t mean much to our Republican friends, but it can be a matter of life and death for millions of Americans out there. Even now, Maga Republicans in Congress are intent on repealing the Affordable Care Act, when it’s clear would have a devastating impact on the American people.”

Earlier in the speech, he’d tried to draw some distinctions between “Maga Republicans” – as in, those most closely aligned with Donald Trump – and other GOP lawmakers: “I want to be clear. There’s some good decent Republicans out there. I’m not suggesting this is all about bad Republicans. But this new crowd … This ain’t your father’s Republican Party.”

The president reserved his kindest remarks for an unexpected constituent: babies. “We like babies, you don’t have to worry about it,” he said after an infant’s cries interrupted his speech. “In fact, I like babies better than people.”

As he marked the 13th anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act in a White House ceremony today, Joe Biden sought to remind Americans about what it was like before the legislation passed:

It’s easy to forget what life was like for hard-working families before the Affordable Care Act … remember when a parent with a heart disease or diabetes or a child with asthma couldn’t get coverage because of a pre-existing condition? Remember, when women had to pay more for insurance, because they had a pre-existing condition? They were a woman.

Not a joke, say it today to people, they look at you like, you’re kidding me. But that was the case. Remember when you couldn’t leave a dead-end job because you couldn’t risk losing your health insurance? Remember when a 22-year-old kid could get kicked off his parents’ plan because he graduated from college?

Joe Biden will today celebrate the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, one of the most popular achievements of his time as vice-president to Barack Obama. But he’ll do so as his own popularity rating as president sinks back towards its lowest point.

A new poll from the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research puts Biden’s approval rating at 38%, down from 45% last month and 41% the month before that. Biden’s lowest point in the poll came last July, with a 36% approval rating as the cost-of-living crisis worsened.

In a poll taken at a time of bank failures and worries over Republican intransigence over the national debt, 31% of respondents to the new poll thought Biden was doing a good job on the economy.

News from another of Donald Trump’s many forms of legal jeopardy, the defamation trial arising from an allegation of rape made by the writer E Jean Carroll.

As Reuters reports, a federal judge in New York today said the case “will get an anonymous jury … citing the risk of juror harassment and noting Trump’s reaction to possibly being indicted in an unrelated case”.

That was a reference to Trump’s call for “protest” to “take our country back” if he is indicted and arrested in the Stormy Daniels hush money case.

The US district judge, Lewis Kaplan, “said the names, addresses and places of employment for jurors in the trial scheduled for 25 April will be kept secret, and they will be transported together to and from and within the courthouse”.

Carroll says Trump raped her in a department store changing room in the mid-1990s. Trump denies the allegation. His comments about the case and about Carroll gave rise to the defamation suit.

Carroll is also Trump suing for defamation over another comment, and under a New York state law that allows victims of alleged cases of sexual battery to sue even if the statute of limitations has expired.

Ron DeSantis has reversed his position on Ukraine, after facing widespread criticism for calling the Russian invasion a “territorial dispute”.

Speaking to Fox Nation in an interview to be broadcast in full today, the Florida governor and probable contender for the Republican presidential nomination said his “territorial dispute” remark had been “mischaracterised”.

“Obviously, Russia invaded – that was wrong,” he said. “They invaded Crimea and took that in 2014 – that was wrong.”

DeSantis also called Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, a “war criminal”.

The international criminal court has issued a warrant for Putin’s arrest. Though the US is not a member of the ICC, Joe Biden said the move was justified.

DeSantis said: “I don’t know about that route, but I do think that he should be held accountable.”

The Florida governor has not declared a run for the presidency but he is the only close challenger to Donald Trump in polling and is widely expected to enter the race this spring.

He made his “territorial dispute” remark last week, in answer to the Fox News host Tucker Carlson. The remark aligned DeSantis with Trump but also prompted fierce criticism across the political spectrum.

Reed Galen, a Republican strategist turned anti-Trump campaigner, said: “DeSantis is a conventional politician. They’re polling like mad and found his Ukraine position is unpopular with general election Republicans. Also, donors hate it.”

Full story:

More on the supreme court (see earlier block here) and its conservative supermajority.

The Republican senator Ted Cruz, whose party defied convention to delay then rush conservatives on to the supreme court, has introduced a constitutional amendment to stop Democrats expanding the court in response.

“The Democrats’ answer to a supreme court that is dedicated to upholding the rule of law and the constitution is to pack it with liberals who will rule the way they want,” Cruz said.

“The supreme court should be independent, not inflated by every new administration. That’s why I’ve introduced a constitutional amendment to permanently keep the number of justices at nine.”

There is no constitutional provision for how many justices sit on the court.

Democrats say the current court is not independent of the Republican party.

In 2016, when Antonin Scalia died, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, held the seat open until a Republican president could nominate a conservative replacement. Neil Gorsuch filled that seat.

In 2020, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal lion, died shortly before the election. McConnell rushed Amy Coney Barrett onto the court before Trump lost to Joe Biden.

Those changes and the replacement of the retiring Anthony Kennedy with Brett Kavanaugh produced a court dominated, 6-3, by conservatives.

Among rulings passed down by the new super-majority, a May 2022 decision saw the court side with Cruz over personal loans to campaigns. The three liberal justices said the ruling paved the way for corruption.

But the Dobbs decision, removing the right to abortion, most enraged Democrats and progressives.

On the left, plans have been floated to increase the size of the court and thereby redress its ideological balance. Biden ordered a commission to study options for reform. It reported “profound disagreement” on whether the court should be expanded. Biden has said he is “not a fan” of expansion.

Cruz’s amendment has little chance in the Democratic-held Senate but 10 Republicans supported it nonetheless.

Josh Hawley of Missouri said: “For years the left has been desperate to pack the court to promote their radical agenda. We must ensure that we stay true to the court’s founding principles, maintain the precedent of nine justices, and keep the Democrats from their brazen attempts to rig our democracy.”

The answer to the question of whether a Manhattan grand jury is going to indict Donald Trump will have to wait until next week, at least, after prosecutors opted against bringing up the case before jurors today. But district attorney Alvin Bragg did find time to respond to House Republicans who had earlier this week issued a flurry of demands of his office, after Trump alleged that he would soon be arrested. Bragg’s response: get lost.

Here’s what else has happened today so far:

The Guardian’s Sam Levine has been in Wilmington, Delaware this week, site of a major hearing in Dominion Voting System’s defamation lawsuit against Fox News. While the case is ongoing, he writes that the firm’s suit has already done a number on the conservative network’s reputation:

As Fox News continued to broadcast lies about Dominion voting systems and the 2020 election, Tucker Carlson, one of its star hosts used one word over and over to describe what the network was doing – “reckless”.

Those messages were the first pieces of evidence Justin Nelson, a lawyer representing Dominion, displayed on Tuesday as he began his argument for why a judge should rule the network defamed his client. “Reckless was a meaningful word” – in order to win the case, Nelson has to prove that Fox acted with “actual malice” – that its hosts, producers, and executives knew the statements were false or acted with reckless disregard to the truth.

“Unlike every other single defamation case, we have in their own words the fact that they knew it was false,” Nelson said.

Source: US Politics -


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