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    Trump lawyer refused to report all Mar-a-Lago records had been turned in

    Trump lawyer refused to report all Mar-a-Lago records had been turned inTrump told lawyer to report to National Archives that he had given them all the documents, but lawyer was ‘not sure’ that was true A lawyer for Donald Trump refused to report to the National Archives that the former president had turned over all Oval Office documents as required out of concern that the claim was a lie.Earlier this year, Trump returned 15 boxes of federal government records from his Mar-a-Lago resort home to the National Archives, and he directed one of his lawyers, Alex Cannon, to inform the agency that the boxes contained all the documents taken from his time in office.Cannon, who was facilitating the records’ return, refused Trump’s request because he “told others he was not sure if other documents were still at the [Florida resort] and would be uncomfortable making such a claim”, The Washington Post reported.Faced with Cannon’s refusal, Trump later directed a statement in February to aides saying that all his documents from his time in office had been returned to the National Archives and Records Administration. But federal agents later learned Trump still had government documents at Mar-a-Lago, including some records marked with the highest level of classification.The FBI seized those documents during its 8 August search of Mar-a-Lago.On Monday, the National Archives released a letter that revealed they had alerted lawyers for Trump in May 2021 that the former president’s correspondence with Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, were missing along with two dozen boxes of other records.The US justice department has been investigating whether Trump’s unauthorized retention of such government secrets violated multiple laws, including the Espionage Act.Trump’s aides turned over a set of documents in June to the justice department. The August search of Mar-a-Lago produced the seizure of thousands of documents, among them dozens of classified records.When archives officials opened the initial 15 boxes they recovered in January, they found a large volume of documents with classified markings and notified the justice department, which set off the chain of events leading the criminal investigation into Trump.Legal wrangling between the justice department and Trump’s lawyers has slowed that investigation down.Trump has claimed, without evidence, that the FBI planted evidence during its search of Mar-a-Lago residence. The federal judge presiding over those claims, Aileen Cannon, granted Trump’s request for an independent official known as a “special master” to review the seized documents before the case proceeded further.That review process is expected to last until between the end of November and the middle of December.TopicsDonald TrumpMar-a-LagoUS politicsnewsReuse this content More

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    How whiteness poses the greatest threat to US democracy | Steve Phillips

    How whiteness poses the greatest threat to US democracySteve PhillipsPeople forget that championing whiteness is what makes Trump powerful A growing chorus of voices is warning that our democracy is in grave danger, but there is much less discussion of the exact nature of the threat. Recently, President Biden emphasized the severity of the threat by going to the place where the constitution was signed to give what the White House described as “a speech on the continued battle for the soul of the nation”.Biden specifically named “Donald Trump and the Maga Republicans” as the ones carrying out the attacks, and that is accurate, on the surface. The deeper, more longstanding threat, however, was articulated by historian Taylor Branch in a 2018 conversation with author Isabel Wilkerson recounted in Wilkerson’s book Caste. As they discussed how the rise of white domestic terrorism under Trump was part of the backlash to the country’s growing racial diversity, Branch noted that, “people said they wouldn’t stand for being a minority in their own country”. He went on to add, “the real question would be if people were given the choice between democracy and whiteness, how many would choose whiteness?”Whiteness is the deeper threat because championing whiteness is what makes Trump powerful. People forget that Trump was not particularly well-regarded before he started attacking Mexican immigrants and signaling to white people that he would be the defender of their way of life. In the months before he launched his campaign, he was polling at just 4% in the May 2015 ABC/Washington Post poll. After stirring the racial resentment pot, his popularity took off, growing exponentially in a matter of weeks and propelling him to the front of the pack by mid-July 2015 when he commanded support of 24% of voters, far ahead of all the other Republican candidates.As his support grew with each racially infused statement – such as banning Muslims from entering the US – Trump marveled at the unshakable passion of his followers, observing quite presciently that, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters … It’s like, incredible.”Trump’s 2015 discovery of the power of whiteness is the same lesson that Alabama’s segregationist governor George Wallace internalized in the crucible of southern politics during the civil rights movement in the 1950s. “I started off talking about schools and highways and prisons and taxes – and I couldn’t make them listen,” Wallace said, adding, “Then I began talking about n—–s – and they stomped the floor.” After Trump began talking about Mexicans, and then Muslims, many white people from coast to coast stomped the floor and even stormed the Capitol to keep him in power, seeking to destroy the democratic tradition of a peaceful transfer of power.As Wallace’s words show, Trump is not the first leader of a movement to make America white again, and for more than a century we have consistently underestimated the political power of whiteness.The clearest example is the start of the civil war itself. A hundred and sixty years before the January 6, 2021 insurrection, the legislatures in one-third of the states passed laws rejecting the outcome of a presidential election and then issued a literal call to arms where hundreds of thousands of people picked up their guns and, in the name of defending whiteness, proceeded to shoot and kill hundreds of thousands of their fellow Americans.In 1968, Alabama’s Wallace saw that the audience for white nationalism reached far beyond his state’s borders and mounted a presidential campaign that secured 13.5% of all votes cast. The strength of Wallace’s showing influenced Richard Nixon’s presidential administration to the extent that historian Dan Carter wrote: “When George Wallace had played his fiddle, the President of the United States had danced Jim Crow.”In 1990, an actual Klansman, former Grand Wizard of the KKK David Duke, mounted a bid for the US Senate and was initially dismissed as unable to win because of his unapologetic white supremacist views. Duke shocked the establishment by attracting the support of 44% of Louisiana’s voters.The good news is that the proponents of whiteness do not command majority support. The original Confederates themselves were in the minority and represented just 11% of the country’s white population. People who enjoy majority support have no need to unleash fusillades of voter suppression legislation in the states with the largest numbers of people of color. Yet, from the grandfather clauses of the 1800s to the restrictive voting laws passed last year in the south and south-west, we are seeing an unrelenting practice of trying to depress and destroy democracy by engaging in what the writer Ron Brownstein has described as, “stacking sandbags against a rising tide of demographic change”.Just as the enemies of democracy know that they must destroy democracy in order to prevail, the clearest way to defeat them is to aggressively expand democratic participation. Mathematically there is a clear New American Majority made up of the vast majority of people of color in alliance with the meaningful minority of white people who want to live in a multiracial nation. With the sole exception of the 2004 election, that coalition has won the popular vote in every presidential election since 1992.In order to defend democracy and win the fight for the soul of the nation, two things must happen. One is to make massive investments in the people and organizations working to expand voting and civic participation. Coalitions like America Votes Georgia and Arizona Wins played critical roles in bringing hundreds of thousands of people of color into the electorate, helping to transform those former Confederate bastions.The second step is to directly challenge the nation to choose democracy over whiteness. When Taylor Branch posed his provocative question in 2018, it was in the wake of tragedies such as the killing of Heather Heyer, a white woman protesting the 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia, march of white nationalists incensed at plans to remove Confederate statues. Trump’s response to Heyer’s killing – she was intentionally struck by a car driven by a white supremacist – was to shrug and note that there were “very fine people” on both sides of the march.When he launched his presidential campaign in 2019, Biden explicitly invoked Trump’s post-Charlottesville embrace of whiteness, saying “We have a problem with this rising tide of white supremacy in America,” and went on to oust a defender of white nationalism from America’s White House. Far from being chastened, however, the enemies of democracy have only intensified their efforts. To ultimately prevail in this defense of our democracy, we must clearly understand the underlying forces imperiling the nation, name the nature of the opposition, and summon the majority of Americans to unapologetically affirm that this is a multi-racial country.
    Steve Phillips is the founder of Democracy in Color and is a Guardian US columnist. His book How We Win the Civil War: Securing a Multiracial Democracy and Ending White Supremacy for Good will be published October 18th
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    Oath Keepers founder accused of ‘armed rebellion’ on January 6 at trial

    Oath Keepers founder accused of ‘armed rebellion’ on January 6 at trialStewart Rhodes and four associates face the rare civil war-era charge of seditious conspiracy for attacking the US Capitol The founder of the Oath Keepers extremist group and four associates planned an “armed rebellion” to keep Donald Trump in power after he lost the election, a federal prosecutor contended on Monday as the most serious case yet went to trial involving the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021.Stewart Rhodes and his band of far-right militants were prepared to go to war to stop Joe Biden from becoming president, assistant US attorney Jeffrey Nestler told jurors.The group celebrated the Capitol attack as a battle they had won and continued their plot even after Biden’s November 2020 electoral victory was certified by Congress in the early hours of 7 January, Nestler alleged.Capitol attack officer Fanone hits out at ‘weasel’ McCarthy in startling interviewRead more“Their goal was to stop, by whatever means necessary, the lawful transfer of presidential power, including by taking up arms against the United States government,” the prosecutor said during his opening statement. “They concocted a plan for armed rebellion to shatter a bedrock of American democracy.”Rhodes and the four others are the first January 6 defendants to stand trial on the charge of seditious conspiracy, a rare civil war-era charge that calls for up to 20 years behind bars, which they deny. The stakes are high for the US Department of Justice (DoJ), which last secured a seditious conspiracy conviction at trial nearly 30 years ago.Rhodes’ attorney painted a far different picture, describing the Oath Keepers as a “peacekeeping” force. He accused prosecutors of building their case on cherry-picked evidence from messages and videos and told jurors that the “true picture” would show that the Oath Keepers had merely been preparing for presidential orders they expected from Trump but never came.“Stewart Rhodes meant no harm to the Capitol that day. Stewart Rhodes did not have any violent intent that day,” Rhodes’ attorney, Phillip Linder, said. “The story the government is trying to tell you today is completely wrong.”On trial with Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, are Kelly Meggs, leader of the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers, Kenneth Harrelson, another Florida member of the group, Thomas Caldwell, a retired US navy intelligence officer from Virginia, and Jessica Watkins, who led an Ohio militia group. They face several other charges as well.About 900 people have been charged and hundreds convicted in the Capitol attack. Rioters stormed police barriers, fought with officers, smashed windows and temporarily halted the certification of Biden’s electoral victory.Prosecutors told jurors the insurrection was no spontaneous outpouring of election-fueled rage but part of a detailed, drawn-out plot to stop Biden from entering the White House.Rhodes began plotting to overturn Biden’s victory right after the election, Nestler said.He told his followers during the planning stage that “it will be torches and pitchforks time if they (Congress) don’t do the right thing”, according to an encrypted Signal message he sent to his followers that was shown to the jury by prosecutors.During a December media interview, Rhodes called senators “traitors” and warned that the Oath Keepers would have to “overthrow, abort or abolish Congress”.Before coming to Washington, they set up “quick reaction force” teams with “weapons of war” stashed at a Virginia hotel, the prosecutor said.As Oath Keepers stormed the Capitol, Rhodes stayed outside, like “a general surveying his troops on a battlefield”, Nestler said. After the attack, the Oath Keepers were “elated”, Nestler said.“These defendants were fighting a war and they won a battle on January 6 … but they planned to continue waging that war to stop the transfer of power prior to Inauguration Day. Thankfully their plans were foiled,” Nestler said.Defense attorneys say the Oath Keepers came to Washington only to provide security at events for figures such as Trump ally Roger Stone before the president’s big outdoor rally behind the White House. Rhodes has said there was no plan to attack the Capitol and that the members who did acted on their own.Rhodes’ lawyer told jurors that his client will take the stand to argue that he believed Trump was going to invoke the Insurrection Act and call up a militia. TopicsUS Capitol attackDonald TrumpJoe BidenUS politicsLaw (US)newsReuse this content More

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    Rex Tillerson, former secretary of state, testifies at corruption trial of Trump ally

    Rex Tillerson, former secretary of state, testifies at corruption trial of Trump allyTillerson says he barely knew defendant Tom Barrack, who is accused of leaking intelligence to the United Arab Emirates Rex Tillerson, who served a turbulent term as secretary of state under former US president Donald Trump, was called as a government witness Monday at the trial of a Trump ally accused of leaking intelligence to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).Tillerson testified that he barely knew the defendant, Tom Barrack, once the chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee, or anything about his relationship with the UAE.US supreme court rejects MyPillow chief’s bid to dodge $1.3bn lawsuitRead moreInstead, he spelled out how he would meet with Trump on a regular basis to discuss foreign policy, emphasizing that the sensitive conversations were supposed to stay confidential.“You really don’t want outside parties to have access to that information and use it to their advantage,” Tillerson told a jury in New York.Prosecutors have alleged Barrack provided inside information on how Trump administration officials viewed a UAE-led blockade of neighboring Qatar.Tillerson testified he had advised Trump not to engage with the UAE on the issue, saying, “We needed to let them sort that out on their own.”Tillerson also described one encounter with Barrack where he “called over to my office and expressed an interest in an ambassadorship”, he said. But Trump didn’t embrace the idea “so that was the end of it”, he said.On cross-examination, Tillerson acknowledged having disagreements with Trump, but stayed clear of criticizing the former president.He said they sometimes played “good cop-bad cop” in their public statements about adversaries such as North Korea.The former Exxon Mobil chief executive is the highest-profile witness so far at the federal trial of Barrack, a billionaire private equity manager and Trump confidant who’s accused of secretly working as a foreign agent for the UAE.Barrack, 75, has pleaded not guilty to that charge, along with obstruction of justice and false statements counts.In 2018, Trump dumped Tillerson via Twitter, abruptly ending the service of a Cabinet secretary who had reportedly called the Republican president a “moron” but refused to step down, deepening disarray within the Trump administration.Trump and Tillerson clashed on several foreign policy issues.Barrack used “unique access” to Trump to manipulate him to advance the interests of the UAE, prosecutors claim, including helping to arrange a 2017 Oval Office meeting between Trump and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.UAE officials allegedly were simultaneously consorting with Barrack, rewarding him by pouring millions of dollars into his business ventures. TopicsRex TillersonUS politicsDonald TrumpnewsReuse this content More

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    US supreme court rejects MyPillow chief’s bid to dodge $1.3bn lawsuit

    US supreme court rejects MyPillow chief’s bid to dodge $1.3bn lawsuitDominion Voting Systems accuses Mike Lindell, a prominent Trump supporter, of promoting baseless voter fraud claims The defamation lawsuit that voting machine company Dominion is pursuing against the MyPillow chief executive, Mike Lindell, can proceed after the US supreme court rejected the prominent Donald Trump supporter’s appeal aiming to block the case.Dominion Voting Systems in February 2021 filed a $1.3bn lawsuit accusing Lindell of promoting the debunked conspiracy theory that the company’s machines manipulated vote counts in favor of Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election that ousted Trump from the Oval Office.Ex-US army medic allegedly lured migrants on to flights to Martha’s VineyardRead moreLindell had been appealing an August 2021 ruling by federal court judge Carl Nichols, who refused to dismiss the lawsuit at the MyPillow leader’s request. An appellate court in Washington DC later decided the case was not ready for review. And in its first day back from its summer break, the US supreme court decided it would not take up Lindell’s appeal for consideration, clearing the way for the lawsuit against Lindell to progress.Nichols wrote in the ruling that Dominion “has adequately alleged that Lindell made his claims knowing that they were false or with reckless disregard for the truth” and therefore had grounds to file a defamation lawsuit.Dominion also alleges that Lindell participated in a defamatory marketing campaign against the company in efforts to sell more pillows by telling audiences to purchase MyPillow products after making his claims of election fraud and providing promotional codes related to those theories.Dominion and Smartmatic, which has also sued Lindell, have demanded damages from several Trump allies and rightwing news networks that spread conspiracy theories about the companies’ vote tallying machines being compromised to Biden’s benefit.In September, Lindell said that FBI investigators seized his cellphone in connection with an alleged election security breach in Colorado.Lindell said he was in the drive-through lane of a Hardee’s fast-food restaurant when agents surrounded him and took his phone.TopicsUS politicsUS supreme courtDonald TrumpUS elections 2020Law (US)newsReuse this content More

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    Republicans’ lawless leaders at odds with midterm law and order message

    Republicans’ lawless leaders at odds with midterm law and order messageRepublicans running in next month’s elections cast their party as tough on crime, despite top party names’ legal scrapes “John Fetterman wants to release convicted murderers from prison,” warns the narrator, as a black-and-white photo of Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor is shown beside pictures of convicted killers. A caption adds darkly: “Socialist John Fetterman loves free stuff … but we can’t let him free murderers.”The campaign ad from Mehmet Oz, candidate for the US Senate in Pennsylvania, is vintage Republican strategy: casting a Democratic opponent as soft on crime. The party is zeroing in on fears over public safety ahead of November’s midterm elections in an effort to change the conversation from abortion, climate or democracy.But Republicans’ own claim to be the party of law and order is this time undermined, critics say, by the behavior of its party leaders. Former president Donald Trump, who is under myriad criminal, civil and congressional investigations, is not alone. Many senior Republicans have rallied to his defence or displayed their own contempt for the rule of law.“The Republican party is quickly becoming a party of anarchy and lawlessness,” said Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota. “This is supposed to be the party of conservative principles, of tradition, of respect for customs and rules that make society governable.“The idea that the law does not apply to Republicans is something that has now become part of the mainstream of the Republican party. We see it in terms of the approach to elections. We see it in terms of the treatment of immigrants. Some of the actions with regard to abortion may approach that level. The Republican party appears to consider the law and the constitution to be optional and to have lost legitimacy.”Over seven years Trump has refashioned the party in ways obvious and subtle. That has included a willingness to defend conduct that, from any other politician, would have been seen as beyond the pale.US intelligence resumes national security review of Mar-a-Lago documents – as it happenedRead moreAfter FBI agents searched his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida in August and seized classified documents, including some marked top secret, Trump could be indicted for violating the Espionage Act, obstructing a federal investigation or mishandling sensitive government records. The former president also faces a state grand jury investigation in Georgia over efforts to subvert that state’s election result in 2020.Last month, Trump and his oldest three children were accused by New York’s top prosecutor of lying to tax collectors, lenders and insurers in a “staggering” fraud scheme that routinely misstated the value of his properties. Despite it all, Trump remains the frontrunner for the party’s presidential nomination in 2024.His chief rival, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, may have violated federal law recently by using more than $600,000 in taxpayer money to lure about 50 Venezuelan asylum seekers on to flights to the small, upmarket island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, and transporting them across state lines with a false reason.Authorities in Massachusetts have requested that the justice department pursue a human trafficking investigation. A sheriff in Texas, where the flights originated, has also opened an investigation into whether DeSantis acted criminally under a Texas penal code that defines the crime of unlawful restraint.The rot goes deep in the party.Republicans won’t commit to honoring vote results this fall. That’s troubling | Robert ReichRead moreNumerous members of the House of Representatives and Senate, as well as midterm candidates seeking to join them, have refused to condemn or have actively supported Trump’s “big lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, siding with the violent mob on January 6 rather than the US Capitol police officers who resisted them.Steve Bannon, a former White House chief strategist, faces up to two years in prison after being convicted on contempt charges for defying a congressional subpoena from the House of Representatives committee investigating the insurrection. Rudy Giuliani, an ex-lawyer to Trump, had his law licence suspended after a court in New York ruled that he made “demonstrably false and misleading statements” while seeking to overturn the results of the election.In addition, Republicans have long been criticised for prioritising laws that protect gun owners over those that protect the victims of gun violence. And since the supreme court overturned the constitutional right to abortion, Republican-led states are accused of legal abuses: the justice department is suing Idaho over a near-total abortion ban.Critics believe that such examples make a mockery of Republican efforts to saddle Democrats with rising homicide rates in Atlanta, New Orleans, Philadelphia and other cities.Tara Setmayer, a senior adviser to the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group, said: “The rank hypocrisy of the Republican party trying to use these issues under the auspices of law and order when they continue to support a professional scofflaw in Donald Trump is laughable.“Republicans have turned a blind eye to Trump’s behavior before, during and after his presidency, which is giving a permission structure to other Republican presidential hopefuls like Ron DeSantis to act in potentially extrajudicial ways to accomplish their agenda of fearmongering and ‘owning the libs’.”Trivialising the rule of law extends to party cheerleaders. Last month, Tucker Carlson, a host on the conservative Fox News network, spoke at the funeral of Ralph “Sonny” Barger, the longtime president of the Hells Angels motorcycle club – deemed by the justice department to be linked to organised crime.Self-awareness in short supply as Trump calls for law and order in DCRead moreBrett Favre, an American football star who endorsed Trump for president in 2020, is embroiled in controversy after Mississippi spent millions of dollars in welfare money on his pet project, a university volleyball arena. The state’s then-governor, Republican Phil Bryant, texted Favre in 2019 that federal money for children and low-income adults is “tightly controlled” and “improper use could result in violation of Federal Law”.Yet Republicans have always been quick to accuse Democrats of flouting the law. In 2015 they argued that Barack Obama’s administration acted illegally when it hid a prisoner swap that freed the army sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban. Ilya Shapiro, a former vice-president of the Cato Institute thinktank in Washington, wrote that “the Obama administration has been the most lawless in US history”.But Setmayer, a former Republican communications director on Capitol Hill, believes that such comparisons are disingenuous. “These are the same Republicans who ran around with their hair on fire, concerned with what President Obama was doing through executive orders on guns and on immigration. That was nowhere near as legally dubious as what Republicans are doing today.”It was 1968 when presidential candidate Richard Nixon claimed the mantle of “law and order” for the Republican party, promising to fix a nation in disarray: “As we look at America, we see cities enveloped in smoke and flame. We hear sirens in the night.” Six years later, Nixon was forced to resign after breaking the law in his efforts to cover up the Watergate break-in.But Republicans believed they had found a winning message. In 1988, a political action committee supporting George HW Bush’s election campaign funded an ad blaming Democratic rival Michael Dukakis for the case of Willie Horton, an African American convict who committed rape during a furlough from prison. Bush’s campaign manager, Lee Atwater, boasted that he would make Horton “Dukakis’s running mate”.Now, the familiar drumbeat is being heard again in midterm races from Oregon to Pennsylvania, from New Mexico to Washington state. House Republicans just launched a “Commitment to America” manifesto that blamed “defund the police” efforts for law enforcement officers’ tough working conditions, “to say nothing of the liberal prosecutors and district attorneys who fail to do their job and keep criminals off the streets”.Joe Biden and other Democrats have worked hard to disown the “defund the police” slogan, with many Democratic-led cities pouring money into police departments. But the issue remains a vulnerability: voters say they agree more with Republicans on crime and policing by a margin of 10 percentage points, a recent New York Times/ Siena College poll found.Donna Brazile, a former interim chair of the Democratic National Committee, said: “The Republicans are basically using the same playbook that Richard Nixon used. Richard Nixon ran as the candidate of law and order and we all know what happened next: Watergate. This is the same playbook. The Republicans constantly go back to their old playbooks in order to find a new way to reach the electorate. I think voters are smarter.”TopicsRepublicansUS politicsUS midterm elections 2022Donald TrumpRon DeSantisUS crimefeaturesReuse this content More

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    Confidence Man review: Maggie Haberman takes down Trump

    Confidence Man review: Maggie Haberman takes down Trump The New York Times reporter presents a forensic account of the damage he has done to AmericaMaggie Haberman, the New York Times’ Trump whisperer, delivers. Her latest book is much more than 600 pages of context, scoop and drama. It is a political epic, tracing Donald Trump’s journey from the streets of Queens to Manhattan’s Upper East Side, from the White House to Mar-a-Lago, his Elba. There, the 45th president holds court – and broods and plots his return.Kushner camping tale one of many bizarre scenes in latest Trump bookRead moreHaberman gives Trump and those close to him plenty of voice – and rope. The result is a cacophonous symphony. Confidence Man informs and entertains but is simultaneously absolutely not funny. Trumpworld presents a reptilian tableau – reality TV does Lord of the Flies.For just one example, Mark Meadows, Trump’s last White House chief of staff, is depicted as erratic and detestable. Then there’s the family. Haberman reports how, after the 2016 election, Melania Trump won a renegotiated pre-nuptial agreement. Haberman also describes Trump repeatedly dumping on his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. If only he looked like Tom Brady and spoke in a deeper register. If only Ivanka had not converted to Judaism.The abuse gets absurd – even a kind of baroque. According to Haberman, at one 2020 campaign strategy meeting Trump implied Kushner might be brutally attacked, even raped, if he ever went camping: “Can you imagine Jared and his skinny ass camping? It’d be like something out of Deliverance.”The reader, however, should not weep for Jared. In Haberman’s telling, he is the kid who was born on third base and mistakes his good fortune with hitting a triple. For his part, Kushner is shown trashing Steve Bannon, the far-right ideologue who was campaign chair and chief White House strategist but was forced out within months.Haberman catches Kushner gleefully asking a White House visitor: “Did you see I cut Bannon’s balls off?”To quote Peter Navarro, like Bannon now a former Trump official under indictment, “nepotism and excrement roll downhill”.As it happens, Bannon’s testicles grew back. Like Charlie Kushner, Jared’s father, he received a Trump pardon. Bannon also helped propagate the big lie that Trump won the election, stoking the Capitol attack.These days, Bannon awaits sentencing, convicted of contempt of Congress. He also faces felony fraud charges arising from an alleged border-wall charity scam. In Trump’s universe, there is always a grift.For Confidence Man, Haberman interviewed Trump three times. He confesses that he is drawn to her, like a moth to a flame.“I love being with her,” he says. “She’s like my psychiatrist”.The daughter of Clyde Haberman, a legendary New York Times reporter, is not flattered or amused. She sees through her subject.“The reality is that he treats everyone like they are his psychiatrists,” Haberman writes. “All present a chance for him to vent or test reactions or gauge how his statements are playing or discover how he is feeling.”Also, Trump and Haberman have not always had a rapport. When he was president, she would interview him and he would attack her. In April 2018, Trump tweeted that Haberman was a Clinton “flunkie” he didn’t know or speak with, a “third-rate reporter” at that. He called her “Maggot Haberman” and even contemplated obtaining her phone records to identify her sources.Trump is 76 but he remains the envious boy from a New York outer borough, face pressed against the Midtown glass. Haberman is not the only Manhattan reporter he has courted and attacked. In 2018, he threatened Michael Wolff for writing Fire and Fury, the Trump book that started it all. Later, he welcomed Wolff to Mar-a-Lago.Haberman vividly captures Trump’s lack of couth. For just one example, according to Haberman the president chose to enrich his first meeting with a foreign leader, Theresa May, by asking the British prime minister to “imagine if some animals with tattoos raped your daughter and she got pregnant”.Each of Trump’s three supreme court justices voted to overturn Roe v Wade. One might wonder how the young woman in Trump’s hypothetical would feel about that.Haberman also pierces Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns. All that talk about an “audit” was a simple dodge, birthed on a campaign plane.In the run-up to Super Tuesday, the crucial day of primaries in March 2016, aides confronted Trump about his taxes. The candidate, Haberman writes, “thought for a second about how to ‘get myself out of this’, as he said. He leaned back, before snapping up to a sudden thought.01:13“‘Well, you know my taxes are under audit. I always get audited … So what I mean is, well I could just say, ‘I’ll release them when I’m no longer under audit. ‘Cause I’ll never not be under audit.’”These days, the Trump Organization faces criminal tax fraud charges. Together with Ivanka, Don Jr and Eric, his children from his first marriage, Trump is also being sued for fraud by Letitia James, the New York attorney general.As a younger reporter, Haberman did two stints at the New York Post, Rupert Murdoch’s flagship US tabloid. Murdoch’s succession plans – it’s Lachlan, he told Trump – appear in Confidence Man. So does Tucker Carlson, the headline-making Fox News host and kindred spirit to Vladimir Putin.Trump made up audit excuse for not releasing tax returns on the fly, new book saysRead moreAccording to Haberman, Carlson met Kushner and demanded Trump commute Roger Stone’s conviction for perjury.“What happened to Roger Stone should never happen to anyone in this country of any political party,” Carlson reportedly thundered, threatening to go public.Stone has since emerged as a central figure in the January 6 insurrection. Apparently, he has a thing for violence. For some Republicans, a commitment to “law and order” is elastic.When it comes to the attempt to overturn the election and the Capitol attack it fueled, Trump’s fate rests with prosecutors in Washington DC and Fulton county, Georgia.That old campaign chant from 2016, “Lock her up”? It carries its own irony.
    Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America is published in the US by Penguin Random House
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    Pelosi reportedly resisted Democrats’ effort to impeach Trump on January 6 – as it happened

    On January 6, “Republican tempers were running so hot against Trump that forcing them to choose sides in the Senate that week could easily have resulted in his impeachment, conviction, and disqualification from any future run for the White House,” The Intercept reported, based on the forthcoming book “Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump.”It would have been a massive break if it happened. GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate had generally grinned and beared it through the four years Trump had been in the White House, even when he said or did things that went against their stated beliefs. But the up-close violence of the insurrection changed things, according to the book written by two reporters from The Washington Post and Politico. Had the House gone through with impeaching Trump that very evening, a vote to convict may have won the two-thirds majority in the Senate needed to succeed, removing Trump from office and barring him from running again.Reality was much more tepid. The Democrat-controlled House did vote to impeach Trump a week after January 6, and a month later, when he had already left the White House, the Republican-held Senate took a vote on whether to convict him. While 57 senators, including seven Republicans and all Democrats, voted to do so, that was 10 votes short of the supermajority needed, meaning Trump escaped punishment for the insurrection – at least for now.The federal government once again avoided a shutdown hours before it was to start after the House passed a short-term funding bill, which now goes to Joe Biden’s desk. The president is back at the White House after attending the investiture of justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who joins a supreme court that a poll indicates is losing its public trust.Here’s what else happened today:
    Ginni Thomas spoke to the January 6 committee, but two of its members say the wife of conservative supreme court justice Clarence Thomas doesn’t appear to be involved in a wider plot to overturn the 2020 election.
    You might think Joe Manchin would enjoy all the power the 50-50 split in the Senate gives him, as a pivotal Democratic vote. You would be wrong, apparently.
    The White House hit back against Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions, describing it as illegal and announcing new sanctions.
    Nancy Pelosi nixed an effort to impeach Donald Trump the evening after the January 6 insurrection, according to a new book that suggests a more immediate effort could have resulted in his conviction by the requisite two-thirds of the Republican-held Senate.
    Barack Obama worried about the justice department under Trump, but was convinced the country could make it four years with him in the White House, according to a meeting transcript obtained by Bloomberg.
    For a fee of $3 million, Donald Trump hired a former Florida solicitor general to help him deal with the justice department’s investigation into government secrets at Mar-a-Lago, but has ended up squabbling with the attorney instead.That’s the conclusion reached by a piece in The Washington Post that looks into the work of Christopher Kise, whom since joining Trump’s legal team has counseled him that the justice department just wanted to make sure no classified documents were at his Florida resort, and he’d be wise to try to reach a deal with them.Kise has found himself frustrated, the Post reports, as other lawyers on Trump’s team advocate a more aggressive approach that may get all involved into trouble. Here’s more from the story:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}A Wednesday night court filing from Trump’s team was combative, with defense lawyers questioning the Justice Department’s truthfulness and motives. Kise, whose name was listed alongside other lawyers’ in previous filings over the past four weeks, did not sign that one — an absence that underscored the division among the lawyers. He remains part of the team and will continue assisting Trump in dealing with some of his other legal problems, said the people familiar with the conversations, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal private talks. But on the Mar-a-Lago issue, he is likely to have a less public role.
    It is a pattern that has repeated itself since the National Archives and Records Administration first alerted Trump’s team 16 months ago that it was missing documents from his term as president — and strongly urged their return. Well before the May 11 grand jury subpoena, and the Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago by the FBI, multiple sets of lawyers and advisers suggested that Trump simply comply with government requests to return the papers and, in particular, to hand over any documents marked classified.
    Trump seems, at least for now, to be heeding advice from those who have indulged his desire to fight.Eight years of Trump would be bad, but four manageable. The justice department should be watched like “white on rice”. And despite his insults and bombast, Donald Trump had been nothing but polite to him in person.That was some of what Barack Obama told a group of columnists in an off-the-record conversation three days before he left the White House in 2017. Such conversations between an American president and the press are rare and intended never to be made public, but Bloomberg got their hands on a transcript through a Freedom of Information Act request, which they published today. The discussion touched on a number of topics. Here’s what Obama had to say about whether Trump would do lasting damage to the country:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}I think that four years is okay. Take on some water, but we can kind of bail fast enough to be okay. Eight years would be a problem. I would be concerned about a sustained period in which some of these norms have broken down and started to corrode.Whether Trump would be inclined to start any new wars:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}I think his basic view – his formative view of foreign policy is shaped by his interactions with Malaysian developers and Saudi princes, and I think his view is, I’m going to go around the world making deals and maybe suing people. But it’s not, let me launch big wars that tie me up. And that’s not what his base is looking from him anyway. I mean, it is not true that he initially opposed the war in Iraq. It is true that during the campaign he was not projecting a hawkish foreign policy, other than bombing the heck out of terrorists. And we’ll see what that means, but I don’t think he’s looking to get into these big foreign adventures.His fears for the justice department:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}I would be like white on rice on the Justice Department. I’d be paying a lot of attention to that. And if there is even a hint of politically motivated investigations, prosecutions, et cetera, I think you guys have to really be on top of that.How Trump – who had promoted the lie that Obama was not born in the United States – had behaved around him since winning the 2016 election:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}His interactions with me are very different than they are with the public, or, for that matter, interactions with Barack Obama, the distant figure. He’s very polite to me, and has not stopped being so. I think where he sees a vulnerability he goes after it and he takes advantage of it.With hours remaining before the government would have shut down, the House of Representatives this afternoon approved a short-term spending bill that will keep it open through December 16.The measure was approved with 230 votes in favor and 201 against. All Democrats voted for it, along with 10 Republicans. The Senate passed the bill yesterday and it now heads to Joe Biden’s desk, where his signature is expected.Beyond just keeping the government open, the spending measure allocates another $12 billion or so in aid to Ukraine, as well as additional money for disaster relief in a swath of US states. Had Congress not reached an agreement, the federal government would have run out of money on Saturday.Ginni Thomas’s testimony before the January 6 committee was hotly anticipated amid a cascade of reports in recent months showing her efforts to pressure officials nationwide to take conspiracy theories about the outcome of the 2020 election seriously.As alarming as those reports were, considering they came from the wife of a sitting supreme court justice, Politico reports that committee members aren’t convinced she had much to do with the violence that unfolded at the Capitol or the legal effort to stop Joe Biden’s win. Bennie Thompson, the committee’s Democratic chair, said Thomas’s views were “typical” of those who believe, baselessly, that Biden had stolen the vote nearly two years ago. Jamie Raskin, another Democratic committee member, replied “I can’t say,” when asked if Thomas had given the panel any new leads. “She absolutely has a First Amendment right to take whatever positions she wants, and that means she can take as deranged a position she wants about the 2020 election,” he added.Ginni Thomas lobbied Wisconsin lawmakers to overturn 2020 election Read moreSpeaking of the January 6 committee, Fox News has some details of when it may hold its next public hearing, after one scheduled for this week was postponed due to Hurricane Ian’s approach:1/6 commitee Chairman Thompson says no hearing next week. But there will be a hearing before the election. Says interim report will come before November. No witnesses at next hearing— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) September 30, 2022
    Another factor fueling the decline in trust in the supreme court, at least among Democrats, may be Ginni Thomas, the wife of conservative justice Clarence Thomas and promoter of conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 election. As Ed Pilkington reports, she stuck to those claims during an interview with the January 6 committee yesterday:Ginni Thomas, the hard-right conservative whose activities have raised conflict of interest concerns involving her husband, the US supreme court Justice Clarence Thomas, has told the committee investigating the January 6 insurrection that she still believes the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump.Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chair of the committee, told reporters following the almost five-hour private interview with Thomas that she held fast to her claim that massive fraud in the 2020 election had put Joe Biden in the White House. When asked by reporters if Thomas still believed that to be true, Thompson replied: “Yes.”The stolen election conspiracy theory – widely propagated by Trump – has never been substantiated with evidence and has been thoroughly debunked over the past two years.Ginni Thomas still believes Trump’s false claim the 2020 election was stolenRead moreCiting a US Supreme Court decision earlier this year, gun rights groups and firearms owners have launched another attempt to overturn Connecticut’s ban on certain semiautomatic rifles that was enacted in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.A new lawsuit was filed Thursday in federal court by three gun owners, the Connecticut Citizens Defense League and the Second Amendment Foundation. They are seeking to overturn the state prohibition on what they call “modern sporting arms” such as AR-15-style rifles like the one used to kill 20 first-graders and six educators at the Newtown school in 2012, The Associated Press reports..css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}We all deserve to live in safe communities, but denying ownership of the most commonly owned firearms in the country is not the way to achieve it. The recent US Supreme Court decision … has opened the door to this challenge, and we believe Connecticut will be hard pressed to prove its statutes are constitutional,” Holly Sullivan, president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League, said in a statement.Connecticut attorney general William Tong hit back..css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}Connecticut’s gun laws save lives, and we are not going back. We will not allow weapons of war back into our schools, our houses of worship, our grocery stores, and our communities. I will vigorously defend our laws against any and every one of these baseless challenges,” Tong said.In June, the Supreme Court broadly expanded gun rights in a 6-3 ruling by the conservative majority that overturned a New York law restricting carrying guns in public and affected a half-dozen other states with similar laws.President Joe Biden has had a busy one, bouncing from the supreme court, where he attended the investiture of new justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, then back to the White House, where he celebrated the Jewish new year Rosh Hashanah and is set to give an update about the damage done by Hurricane Ian. While it was a day for ceremony at the supreme court, a new poll reaffirmed that the court’s rightward shift has taken a toll on public trust.Here’s what else happened today:
    You might think Joe Manchin would enjoy all the power the 50-50 split in the Senate gives him, as a pivotal Democratic vote. You would be wrong, apparently.
    The White House hit back against Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions, describing it as illegal and announcing new sanctions.
    Nancy Pelosi nixed an effort to impeach Donald Trump the evening after the January 6 insurrection, according to a new book that suggests a more immediate effort could have resulted in his conviction by two-thirds of the Republican-held Senate.
    The supreme court has released a photo of its new lineup, which includes Ketanji Brown Jackson:Here’s the new #SCOTUS. Photo Cred: Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States pic.twitter.com/J3bocuG5Y0— Nicole Ninh (@nicninh) September 30, 2022
    Speaking alongside vice-president Kamala Harris at a White House ceremony to celebrate the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah, Joe Biden made a prediction: Harris may be the first female vice president, but she won’t be the last, and a woman may succeed him in the presidency as well.The speech just wrapped up, and you can watch it here:The president changed his schedule up a bit, and decided to speak at the new year ceremony before his planned speech on Hurricane Ian.While Joe Biden didn’t speak publicly at Ketanji Brown Jackson’s investiture to the supreme court, he offered a brief comment about it on Twitter:This morning, I attended Justice Jackson’s investiture. She’s a brilliant legal mind, extraordinarily qualified, and is making history today.In fact, we’ve appointed 84 federal judges so far. No group of that many judges has been appointed as quickly, or been that diverse.— President Biden (@POTUS) September 30, 2022
    While running for president, Biden pledged to nominate a Black woman to the court, and Jackson satisfied that promise. As for the 84 federal judges appointed, that’s a nod to the rapid clip of judicial confirmations Democrats have achieved in the Senate, where they have prioritized leaving their mark on the federal judiciary.President Joe Biden will soon deliver remarks on Hurricane Ian, which did terrible damage to Florida earlier this week, and now threatens Georgia and South Carolina.Here’s the White House’s live stream of the speech:For the latest news on the devastating storm, check out The Guardian’s live blog:Hurricane Ian: death toll in Florida rises as storm bears down on South Carolina – liveRead more More