Justice Department asks not to disclose affidavit behind Mar-a-Lago searchUnsealing the document could reveal the scope of the inquiry against Donald Trump, whose team is rattled by recent events The US Justice Department has asked a judge not to release the affidavit that gave the FBI probable cause to search Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, worsening distrust among top Trump aides casting about for any insight into the intensifying criminal investigation surrounding the former president.The affidavit should not be unsealed because that could reveal the scope of the investigation into Trump’s unauthorized retention of government secrets, the Justice Department argued, days after the Mar-a-Lago search warrant showed it referenced potential violations of three criminal statutes.FBI agents a week ago seized around 20 boxes of materials – including documents marked Top Secret – executing a search warrant which referenced the Espionage Act outlawing the unauthorized retention of national security information that could harm the United States or aid an adversary.“The affidavit would serve as a roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course,” the justice department said, adding that it did not oppose unsealing both a cover page and a sealing order that wouldn’t harm the criminal investigation.Trump demands return of seized documents – by order of social mediaRead moreIn arguing against unsealing the affidavit, the justice department also said that the disclosure could harm its ability to gain cooperation from witnesses not only in the Mar-a-Lago investigation but also additional ones that would appear to touch on the former president.“Disclosure of the government’s affidavit at this stage would also likely chill future cooperation by witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations,” prosecutors added.The existence of potential witnesses who could yet cooperate in a number of investigations against Trump – seemingly people with intimate knowledge of the former president’s activities – rattled close advisors once more Monday, further deepening distrust inside his inner political circle.The lack of insight into what the justice department intends to do with the investigation into Trump’s unauthorized retention of government documents has deeply frustrated the Trump legal team and aides alike in a week of perilous moments for the former president.At least one lawyer on the Trump legal team – led by former assistant US attorney Evan Corcoran, who also acted as the lawyer for Trump’s top former strategist Steve Bannon – has called up a reporter covering the story for any insight into how the justice department might next proceed.It added to the already fraught atmosphere inside the reduced group of advisors who have day-to-day roles around Trump that erupted shortly after the FBI departed Mar-a-Lago and sparked suspicions that a person close to the former president had become an informant for the FBI.That speculation came in part amid widening knowledge about how the FBI might have established probable cause that there was a crime being committed at Mar-a-Lago using new or recent information – to prevent the probable cause from going “stale” – through a confidential informant.According to multiple sources close to Trump, suspicions initially centered on Nicholas Luna, the longtime Trump body-man who stepped back from his duties around March, and Molly Michael, the former Trump White House Oval Office operations chief, who remains on payroll but is due to soon depart.Luna was subpoenaed by the congressional investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack but has not spoken to the FBI about this case, one of the sources said. And although Michael is slated to also leave Trump’s orbit, the source said, her departure – like Luna’s – is not acrimonious.The focus in the middle of the week shifted to Mar-a-Lago employees and other staff at the members-only resort in Palm Beach, Florida, the sources said, seemingly in part because the FBI knew exactly which rooms and where in the rooms they needed to search.But towards the weekend, and following the revelation that the FBI removed a leather-bound box from the property and already knew the location of Trump’s safe, scrutiny shifted once more to anyone else who had not yet been suspected – including members of Trump’s family, the sources said.A spokesperson for the former president did not respond to a request for comment. Calls to Trump lawyers went unanswered or straight to voicemail. The justice department declined to comment on the investigation or Monday’s request.Nonetheless, the escalating distrust and rampant speculation about an informant has started to reach dizzying levels, even by the standards of the Trump presidency, which was characterized in many ways by competing interests and political backstabbing, the sources said.It remains unclear whether the FBI relied on confidential informants, and the Guardian first reported that the search came in part because the justice department grew concerned that classified materials remained at Mar-a-Lago as a result of interactions with Trump’s lawyers.At least one Trump lawyer signed a document – apparently falsely – attesting to the justice department that there were no more classified materials left at Mar-a-Lago after federal officials in June removed 10 boxes worth of government records, the sources said, confirming a New York Times report.TopicsDonald TrumpFBITrump administrationUS politicsnewsReuse this content More
Breaking History review: Jared Kushner’s dispiriting Trump book The former president’s son-in-law has written a predictably self-serving and selective memoir of his time in the White HouseThe House January 6 committee hearings depict Donald Trump as eager to storm the Capitol. He knew the rally held in his name included armed individuals. When rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence”, Jared Kushner’s father-in-law remarked: “He deserves it.”The Big Lie review: Jonathan Lemire laments what Trump hath wroughtRead moreIn response to a plea from Kevin McCarthy, the 45th president questioned the House Republican leader’s devotion. The mob invaded Congress. Trump sat back and watched.Kushner has not fared well either. In testimony to the panel, he has derided Pat Cipollone as a “whiner” and described deigning to exit the shower to take a call from a panicked McCarthy. On the screen, Kushner drips hauteur, empathy nonexistent. It’s not a good look.Then comes Breaking History, Kushner’s White House memoir. Its sits at the intersection of spin, absolution and self-aggrandizement.“What is clear to me is that no one at the White House expected violence that day,” Kushner writes of January 6. Cassidy Hutchinson says otherwise.Kushner adds: “I’m confident that if my colleagues or the president had anticipated violence, they would have prevented it from happening.” DC police tell a different story.Kushner rebuffed early entreaties from Marc Short, the vice-president’s chief of staff, to end Trump’s attempt to stop certification of Joe Biden’s win.“You know, I’m really focused on the Middle East right now,” Kushner replied. “I haven’t really been involved in the election stuff since Rudy Giuliani came in.”In the aftermath of January 6, White House morale was at a nadir, according to Kushner. A second impeachment loomed. Kushner told staff to stay the course.“You took an oath to the country,” he recalls. “This is a moment when we have to do what’s right, not what’s popular. If the country is better off with you here, then stay. If it doesn’t matter, then do what you want.”That sales pitch sounds canned. Those who had served in the military found the spiel stale and grating.In Kushner, Inc, the author Vicky Ward described Kushner’s earlier efforts to persuade Mark Corallo to join the White House staff. Corallo was once in the army and did a stint at the Department of Justice too.After he said no, Kushner asked: “Don’t you want to serve your country?”Corallo replied: “Young man, my three years at the butt end of an M-16 checked that box.”Trump dodged the draft for Vietnam. When his brother, Fred Jr, accepted a commission in the air national guard, he met with his family’s scorn. In contrast, Mike Pence’s son, the Biden boys, Steve Bannon: all wore a uniform.In Breaking History, Kushner selectively parcels out dirt. He seeks to absolve his father for recruiting a sex worker to film her tryst with William Schulder, Charlie Kushner’s brother-in-law. At the time, Schulder, his wife, Esther, (Charlie’s sister), and Charlie were locked in battle over control of the family real estate business.Kushner explains: “Billy’s infidelity was an open secret around the office, and to show his sister Esther what kind of man she had married, my father hired a prostitute who seduced Billy.”Schulder and Esther were also talking to the feds.The names of two Trump paramours, Stormy Daniels, the adult film star, and Karen McDougal, the Playboy model, do not appear in Kushner’s book. Then again, as Trump once said, “When you’re a star … you can do anything.” For Trump and Kushner, rules are meant for others.Breaking History comes with conflicting creation stories. In June, the New York Times reported that Kushner took an online MasterClass from the thriller writer James Patterson, then “batted out” 40,000 words of his own.The Guardian reported that Kushner received assistance from Ken Kurson, a former editor of the New York Observer who was pardoned by Trump on cyberstalking charges but then pleaded guilty after being charged with spying on his wife. Avi Berkowitz, a Kushner deputy who worked on the Abraham Accords, and Cassidy Luna, an aide married to Nick Luna, Trump’s White House “body man”, were also on board.Breaking History says nothing about Patterson but gives shout-outs to Kurson, Luna and Berkowitz: “From the inception of this endeavor, Ken’s brutally honest feedback and inventive suggestions have made this a better book.”Kushner rightly takes pride in the Abraham Accords, normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. In the process, he provides backstory for Trump’s frustration with Benjamin Netanyahu.Israel’s then-prime minister’s earned a “fuck him” after he hesitatingly embraced Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, seeking to extract maximum concession without grace or reciprocity. What Netanyahu craved but never received was American approval of Israeli annexation of the West Bank. Here, Breaking History adds color to Trump’s Peace by Barak Ravid.According to Ravid, David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, was close to Netanyahu. He sat in on Israeli government meetings until he was tossed out by cabinet members. Ravid also calls Friedman “flesh of the settlers’ flesh”.Trump’s Peace review: dysfunction and accord in US Israel policyRead moreEnter Kushner. “Friedman had assured Bibi that he would get the White House to support annexation more immediately,” he says. “He had not conveyed this to me or anyone on my team.”Things grew heated. “You haven’t spoken to a single person from a country outside of Israel,” Kushner said. “You don’t have to deal with the Brits, you don’t have to deal with the Moroccans, and you don’t have to deal with the Saudis or the Emiratis, who are all trusting my word and putting out statements. I have to deal with the fallout of this. You don’t.”One Trump veteran described Breaking History to the Guardian as “just 493 pages of pure boredom”. Not exactly. Kushner delivers a mixture of news and cringe. He does not extract Trump from his present morass. On Wednesday, Kushner’s father-in-law invoked the fifth amendment. Only Charlie Kushner got the pardon. A devoted child takes care of dad.
Breaking History: A White House Memoir is published in the US by HarperCollins
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Political Prisoner review: Paul Manafort stays loyal to Trump – but still spills a few beans Aide jailed in Russia investigation and pardoned has written a memoir that is mostly – if not completely – forgettablePaul Manafort’s name appeared in reports issued by the special counsel and the Senate intelligence committee. A convicted felon pardoned by the 45th president, he is a free man haunted by the past.The Big Lie review: Jonathan Lemire laments what Trump hath wroughtRead moreHis memoir, Political Prisoner, is primarily an exercise in score-settling, pointing an accusatory finger at federal prosecutors and lashing out at enemies. With a pardon from Trump, Manafort is unencumbered by fear from further prosecution.In a recent interview with Business Insider, he admits he directed the Trump campaign to provide polling data and information to Konstantin Kilimnik, a Soviet-born political consultant with a Russian passport.On the page, Manafort denies that Kilimnik spied for Russia. In 2021, however, the US imposed sanctions against him, and accused him of being a “known Russian Intelligence Services agent implementing influence operations on their behalf”.As expected, Manafort also sings Donald Trump’s praises, an approach much in common with other forgettable Trump alumni narratives. Manafort saw plenty as Trump’s second campaign manager but he directs the spotlight elsewhere. One measure of which team he’s on comes early: talking about Trump’s racist attacks on Barack Obama, he puts the words “birther allegations” in scare-quotes.Manafort could have written a much more interesting book. He is a veteran Republican operative with a knack for the delegate selection process. He owned an apartment in Trump Tower and was closely aligned with Viktor Yanukovych, a former prime minister of Ukraine with powerful backing from the Kremlin. That factoid, of course, stood at the heart of Manafort’s problems.Manafort spent six months on Trump’s winning presidential campaign. In May 2016, he rose to campaign manager. Three months later, Trump sacked him.In summer 2018, in a case arising from the initial investigation of Russian election interference and links between Trump and Moscow, a federal jury convicted Manafort on a potpourri of conspiracy and tax charges. He reached a plea agreement that would be voided by his alleged lack of candor. Two federal judges sentenced him to a combined 90 months in prison.His bitterness is understandable. He denies wrongdoing in his links with Ukraine and Russians. Released from prison because of Covid, Manafort was relegated to life in a condominium, wearing an ankle bracelet. Right before Christmas 2020, he received a pardon. In his book he reproduces the document, a token of gratitude and pride.Political Prisoner glosses over key events. Manafort acknowledges his departure from the campaign but doesn’t mention the arrival of Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway. Instead, he describes a pre-firing breakfast with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.“We embraced and went our separate ways,” Manafort writes.Manafort faces the daunting task of fluffing Trump’s ego while placing himself in proximity to the action. He boasts that he emerged as a Sunday talk show surrogate, presenting an inside view of the campaign.“I would be talking about how [Trump] was going to win and why,” he writes. “He thought that was good idea and told me to do it.”Things didn’t work out as planned. Trump captured the nomination but Manafort’s gig lasted only a short time longer. There can only be one star in the Trump show. As throughout the book, Manafort omits crucial details. TV did him no favors.The Devil’s Bargain, a 2017 page-turner by Joshua Green of Bloomberg News, fills in some of the void. Green recalls a profanity-laced verbal beatdown Trump administered to Manafort, right before his dismissal.Distraught over a New York Times piece that portrayed the campaign as lost at sea, Trump humiliated Manafort in front of senior advisers. It was a tableau, Green writes, straight out of Goodfellas.Trump tore into Manafort, shouting: “You think you gotta go on TV to talk to me … You treat me like a baby! Am I like a baby to you … Am I a fucking baby, Paul?”Joe Pesci as commander-in-chief.These days, the Department of Justice has placed Trump under its microscope again. The FBI executed a search warrant on Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida home. White House lawyers face grand jury subpoenas. Bannon awaits sentencing on a contempt conviction. Alex Jones’ text messages are in the hands of the January 6 committee. Roger Stone, a former Manafort partner and Trump confidant, may be in legal jeopardy.Trumpworld is a cross between an island of broken toys and Lord of the Flies.Manafort does drop a few choice nuggets. The Trump campaign was actually being spied on, in the author’s telling, by Michael Cohen. Cohen administered the campaign server, in a bid to maintain relevance. “He had access to everybody’s communications,” Manafort writes. “He had knowledge, and he would be sitting in his office, gaining knowledge by virtue of spying on the campaign.” Cohen denies it.Ted Cruz comes across badly. In Manafort’s eyes the Texas senator is an ingrate, a liar or both. The categories are porous.Trump claimed Cruz’s father was complicit the assassination of JFK and implied Cruz’s wife was ugly. According to Manafort, Trump offered Cruz an apology, only to be rebuffed.“On his own initiative, Trump did apologise for saying some of the things he said about Cruz, which was unusual for Trump,” Manafort observes.Cruz’s version differs. In September 2016, he said: “Neither [Trump] nor his campaign has ever taken back a word they said about my wife and my family.”Trump’s campaign nickname for Cruz? “Lyin’ Ted”.Manafort recalls Trump declaring “This is bullshit” as the senator avoided endorsing the nominee in his speech to the 2016 convention. In the end, though, Cruz slithered back to the fold. Trump reportedly asked Cruz if he would argue his 2020 election challenge before the supreme court. Cruz voted against certifying results.Manafort predicts Trump will run in 2024, and win. Don’t bet against it. Both Trump and Manafort have been there before.
Political Prisoner: Persecuted, Prosecuted, But Not Silenced is published in the US by Skyhorse Publishing
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Can Biden’s climate bill undo the fossil fuel industry’s decades of harm?The US spent six decades losing the climate war as fossil fuel companies spread misinformation. It has finally gained significant ground The scientists’ warning to the US president on climate crisis was stark: the world’s countries were conducting a vast, dangerous experiment through their enormous release of planet-heating emissions, which threaten to be “deleterious from the point of view of human beings”. Some sort of remedial action was needed, they urged.This official alert was issued not to Joe Biden, who is poised to sign America’s first ever major legislation designed to tackle the climate crisis, but in a report given to his presidential predecessor Lyndon Johnson in 1965, a year when the now 79-year-old Biden was still in college.That it has taken nearly six decades for the US to tackle global heating in a significant way, despite being responsible for a quarter of all emissions that have heated the planet during modern civilization, is indicative of a lengthy climate war. Pernicious misinformation of the fossil fuel industry, cynicism and bungled political maneuvering have stymied any sort of action to avert catastrophic heatwaves, floods, drought and wildfires.If on Friday, as expected, the House of Representatives assents to the landmark $370bn in climate spending hashed out in the US Senate and sends it for Biden’s signature, it will be a watershed moment in a saga that can be measured in whole careers and lifetimes.Al Gore was a fresh-faced 33-year-old congressman from Tennessee when, in 1981, he organized an obscure hearing with fellow lawmakers to hear evidence on the greenhouse effect from Roger Revelle, his former professor at Harvard and one of the scientists who had cautioned Johnson 16 years earlier of a looming climate disaster.Gore is now 74, a former US vice-president and veteran climate advocate whose increasingly urgent warnings on the issue won him the Nobel peace prize when Greta Thunberg was barely four years old. “I never imagined I would end up devoting my life to this,” Gore said.“I thought, naively in retrospect, that when the facts were laid out so clearly we would be able to move much more quickly. I did not anticipate the fossil fuel industry would spend billions of dollars on an industrial scale program of lying and deception to prevent the body politic acting in a rational way. But here we are, we finally passed that threshold.”Gore considers the bill, known as the Inflation Reduction Act, as a “critical turning point in our struggle to confront the climate crisis” that will supercharge deployment of renewable energy such as wind and solar and push fossil fuels towards irrelevancy.Al Gore hails Biden’s historic climate bill as ‘a critical turning point’Read moreMany current Democratic lawmakers, who narrowly passed the bill through the Senate, also felt the weight of the moment, with many of them wearing the warming stripes colors showing the global heating trend. Some burst into tears as the legislation squeaked home on Sunday.“We’ve been fighting for this for decades, now I can look my kids in the eye and say we’re really doing something about climate,” said Brian Schatz, a senator from Hawaii and one of the tearful. “The Senate was where climate bills went to die and now it’s where the biggest climate action by any government ever has been taken.”The list of previous failures is lengthy. Jimmy Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House, only for Ronald Reagan to rip them down. Bill Clinton attempted a new tax on pollutants only for a sharp backlash from industry to see the effort die. The US, under George W Bush’s presidency, declined to join the 1997 Kyoto climate accords and then, when Barack Obama was in the White House, botched climate legislation in 2009 despite strong Democratic majorities in Congress.Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, torched most of the modest measures in place to curb planet-heating gases and campaigned wearing a coalminer’s helmet. “I didn’t doubt we’d get there but there were times when the struggle became harder than I thought it would be, such as when Trump was elected,” Gore said.Climate change has inflicted increasingly severe wounds on Americans as their politicians have floundered or dissembled. Enormous wildfires are now a year-round threat to California, with the US west in the grip of possibly its worst drought in 12 centuries. Extreme rainfall now routinely drowns basements in New York, Appalachian towns, and Las Vegas casinos. The poorest fare worst from the roasting heatwaves and the continued air pollution from power plants, cars and trucks.James Hansen, the Nasa scientist, told Congress in a landmark 1988 hearing that “it is time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here” and yet the escalating subsequent warnings appeared to make little difference. Shortly before a Senate deal was brokered, the climate scientist Drew Shindell said that the lack of action made him “want to scream” and that “I keep wondering what’s the point of producing all the science” if it’s only to be ignored.Much of the blame for this has been laid on the fossil fuel industry, which has known for decades the disastrous consequences of its business model only to fund an extensive network of operations that concealed this information and sought to sow doubt among the public over the science.“These forces have been far more active and effective in the United States than in other countries,” said Naomi Oreskes, an American historian of science who has written on the false information spread by industry on climate crisis.“For more than 20 years, American public opinion has been heavily influenced by the ‘merchants of doubt’, who sold disinformation designed to make people think that the science regarding climate change was far more uncertain than it actually was.”Industry lobbying and generous donations have ensured that the Republican party has fallen almost entirely in line with the demands of major oil and gas companies. As recently as 2008, a Republican running for president, John McCain, had a recognizable climate plan but the issue is now close to party heresy, despite rising concern among all Americans, including Republican voters, about climate-induced disasters.The strategy of misinformation “worked even more than its originators imagined”, Oreskes said, noting that every single Republican senator voted against the Inflation Reduction Act. Mitch McConnell, the GOP Senate leader, lambasted the bill as “Green New Deal nonsense” out of step with Americans’ priorities, even as much of his home state of Kentucky lay underwater from its worst flooding on record, killing dozens and inundating whole towns.The continued, staunch opposition to any meaningful climate action by Republicans means the climate wars in American politics are not likely to draw to a close anytime soon. But climate advocates hope the gathering pace of renewable energy and electric car adoption will soon be unstoppable, regardless of any attempted backsliding if Republicans regain power.The question will be how much damage to a livable climate will be done in the meantime. The climate bill is expected to help slash the emissions of the US, the world’s second largest carbon polluter, by about 40% this decade, which should prod other countries to do more. Crucial, upcoming UN climate talks in Egypt suddenly look a more welcoming prospect for the American delegation.“In the prior administration, I think the rest of the world lost faith in the United States in terms of our commitment to climate,” said Gina McCarthy, Biden’s top climate adviser. “This doesn’t just restore that faith in the United States, but it creates an opportunity zone that other countries can start thinking about.”But almost every country, including the US, is still not doing enough, quickly enough, to head off the prospect of catastrophic global heating. The climate wars helped enrich fossil fuel corporations but cost precious time that the new climate bill does not claw back.“It was a celebratory and joyful moment when the legislation finally passed but we can’t let this be a once in a lifetime moment,” Gore said. “The path to net zero (emissions) requires us to move forward and a lot of the hard work lies ahead.”TopicsClimate crisisAl GoreUS politicsBiden administrationTrump administrationObama administrationfeaturesReuse this content More
What lawsuits and investigations is Donald Trump facing?As FBI agents search Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort, here’s a recap of legal turmoil facing him on several fronts
FBI executes search warrant at Mar-a-Lago as Donald Trump says home ‘raided’ – live updates
Donald Trump said on Monday that FBI agents searched his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida. While the search appears to be part of an investigation into Trump’s unlawful removal and destruction of White House records after his presidency, the businessman and politician is facing investigations and lawsuits on a number of fronts.Here’s a recap.Missing national records FBI searches Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago homeRead moreThe US National Archives and Records Administration (Nara) in February notified Congress that it had recovered about 15 boxes of White House documents from Trump’s Florida home, some of which contained classified materials.The US House of Representatives Oversight Committee at that time said it was expanding an investigation into Trump’s actions and asked the Archives to turn over additional information. Trump previously confirmed that he had agreed to return certain records to the Archives, calling it “an ordinary and routine process”.Attack on the US Capitol A congressional panel investigating the January 6 attack by Trump supporters on the US Capitol is working to build a case that he broke the law in trying to overturn his 2020 election defeat.Vice chair Liz Cheney has said the committee could make multiple referrals to the Justice Department seeking criminal charges against Trump, who accuses the panel of conducting a sham investigation.In a March court filing, the committee detailed Trump’s efforts to persuade Mike Pence to either reject slates of electors for Joe Biden, who won the election, or delay a congressional count of those votes.The committee cannot charge Trump with federal crimes. That decision must be made by the Justice Department, led by attorney general Merrick Garland. If the Justice Department brings charges, prosecutors’ main challenge will be proving that Trump acted with corrupt intent, experts said.Trump also could be charged with “seditious conspiracy”, a rarely used statute that makes it illegal to overthrow the US government by force, a charge that has already been levied against multiple participants in the assault. Wire fraud Democrats said in a June hearing of the January 6 committee that Trump, a Republican, raised some $250m from supporters to advance fraudulent claims in court that he won the election, but steered much of the money elsewhere.This raises the possibility that he could be charged with wire fraud, which prohibits obtaining money on “false or fraudulent pretenses”, legal experts said.Georgia election tamperingA special grand jury was selected in May to consider evidence in a Georgia prosecutor’s inquiry into Trump’s alleged efforts to influence the state’s 2020 election results.The investigation focuses in part on a phone call Trump made to Brad Raffensperger, the Republican Georgia secretary of state, on 2 January 2021.Trump asked Raffensperger to “find” the votes needed to overturn Trump’s election loss, according to an audio recording obtained by the Washington Post.Legal experts said Trump may have violated at least three Georgia criminal election laws: conspiracy to commit election fraud, criminal solicitation to commit election fraud, and intentional interference with performance of election duties.Trump could argue he was engaging in free speech and did not intend to influence the election.New York criminal inquiry Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, has been investigating whether Trump’s family real estate company misrepresented the values of its properties to get favorable bank loans and lower tax bills.Two top lawyers who had been leading the investigation resigned in February, throwing the probe’s future into question, but Bragg’s office has said it is ongoing.New York attorney general civil inquiryLetitia James, the New York state attorney general, is conducting a civil investigation examining whether the Trump Organization inflated real estate values. Trump and two of his adult children, Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump, agreed to testify in the probe starting on 15 July.Trump has denied wrongdoing in both New York cases and described them as politically motivated. E Jean Carroll’s defamation caseE Jean Carroll, a former Elle magazine writer, sued Trump for defamation in 2019 after the then-president denied her allegation that he raped her in the 1990s in a New York City department store. He accused her of lying to drum up sales for a book.The second circuit court of appeals in Manhattan is poised to rule on whether Carroll’s lawsuit should be dismissed.A lawyer for Trump has argued that he is protected by a federal law that makes government employees immune from defamation claims.Does a presidential run mean Trump can’t be prosecuted?No. Although the Justice Department has a decades-old policy that a sitting president cannot be indicted, there is no such protection for presidential candidates.TopicsDonald TrumpTrump administrationUS politicsexplainersReuse this content More
Justice department urged to investigate deletion of January 6 texts by PentagonWatchdog group calls on Merrick Garland asked to investigate deleted phone messages from senior Trump officials The US attorney general, Merrick Garland, has been asked to investigate yet another deletion of text messages and other communications by senior officials on 6 January 2021, this time by the Pentagon.House panels: DHS officials interfered in effort to get lost Secret Service textsRead moreAmerican Oversight, a non-partisan watchdog group, revealed the shock deletion on Tuesday, having discovered it through freedom of information requests to the Department of Defense.The DoD and the army admitted in court filings to American Oversight that the phone messages of senior Trump officials were wiped after the administration handover, including text messages from January 6, the day of the deadly attack on Congress by supporters of Donald Trump.Similar deletions of communications around January 6 by the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service were already the subject of considerable controversy.The Department of Justice and the House January 6 committee continue to investigate Trump’s attempt to overturn his election defeat.In an open letter to Garland, American Oversight said: “We urge you to investigate DoD’s failure to preserve the text messages of several high-ranking officials on or surrounding the day of the January 6 attack.”In its Freedom of Information request, American Oversight sought the release of communications between senior officials and Trump, his vice-president, Mike Pence, his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, “or anyone communicating on their behalf on January 6”.Among officials whose communications are at issue are the former acting defense secretary Chris Miller; former army secretary Ryan McCarthy; Kash Patel, who was Miller’s chief of staff; Paul Ney, formerly Pentagon general counsel; and James E McPherson, formerly general counsel of the army.The Pentagon’s sluggish response to the Capitol attack remains the subject of widespread speculation and investigation.As the New York Times put it last month, “the mobilisation and deployment of national guard troops from an armory just two miles away from the Capitol was hung up by confusion, communications breakdowns and concern over the wisdom of dispatching armed soldiers to quell the riot”.Messages between senior DoD officials and the White House could shed light on what happened.On Tuesday, Ney told CNN he turned in a phone when he left the Department of Defense on 20 January 2021, the day of Joe Biden’s inauguration.“I did not wipe the phone before I turned it in (or ever that I can recall),” Ney said. “When I turned the phone in, I did not know what was going to be done with that device nor do I know what actually was done with that device after I turned it in.“If DoD represented in litigation that the device was wiped after I left DoD on inauguration day, I believe that is very likely what happened and when it happened, but I do not know why.”On January 6, a mob Trump told to “fight like hell” attacked Congress in an attempt to stop certification of Biden’s election victory. Nine deaths have been linked to the riot, including suicides among law enforcement officers.In a series of dramatic public hearings, the House January 6 committee has demonstrated Trump’s role in election subversion efforts and in stoking the attack on the Capitol.Garland is under increasing pressure over investigations surrounding January 6 and Trump’s election subversion. He has promised to “pursue justice without fear or favor”.Heather Sawyer, executive director of American Oversight, told CNN: “It’s just astounding to believe that [the Pentagon] did not understand the importance of preserving its records – particularly [with regards] to the top officials that might have captured what they were doing, when they were doing it, why they were doing it on that day.”The deletion of such records, she said, “reveals a widespread lack of taking seriously the obligation to preserve records, to ensure accountability, to ensure accountability to their partners in the legislative branch and to the American people”.TopicsUS Capitol attackTrump administrationnewsReuse this content More
The Big Lie review: Jonathan Lemire laments what Trump hath wrought The Politico reporter and MSNBC host’s book is an indictment of the former president but also his Republican partyJoe Biden sits in the Oval Office but Donald Trump occupies prime space in America’s psyche. Mike Pence’s most senior aides have testified before a federal grand jury. An investigation by prosecutors in Georgia proceeds apace. In a high-stakes game of chicken, the message from the Department of Justice grows more ominous. Trump’s actions are reportedly under the microscope at the DoJ. He teases a re-election bid. Season two of the January 6 committee hearings beckons.Thank You For Your Servitude review – disappointing tale of Trump’s townRead moreInto this cauldron of distrust and loathing leaps Jonathan Lemire, with The Big Lie. He is Politico’s White House bureau chief and the 5am warm-up to MSNBC’s Morning Joe. He has done his homework. He lays out facts. His book is a mixture of narrative and lament.Lemire contends that Trump birthed the “big lie” in his 2016 campaign, as an excuse in the event of defeat by either Senator Ted Cruz in the primary or Hillary Clinton in the general election. Trump held both opponents in contempt.In the primary, Trump lost Iowa – then falsely claimed Cruz stole it.“Based on the fraud committed by Senator Ted Cruz during the Iowa Caucus, either a new election should take place or Cruz results nullified,” Trump tweeted.In the general, a half-year later, he dropped another bomb.“I’m afraid the election is going to be rigged. I have to be honest.”In the final presidential debate he upped the ante, refusing to say he would accept the electorate’s verdict.“I will look at it at the time,” Trump said. “I will keep you in suspense.”He definitely warned us. Lemire’s first book is aptly subtitled: “Election Chaos, Political Opportunism, and the State of American Politics After 2020.”Then and now, Trump posited that only fraud could derail him. After he beat Clinton in the electoral college, he claimed he actually won the popular vote too. In Trump’s mind, he was the victim of ballots cast by illegal aliens.“In addition to winning the electoral college in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” Trump tweeted.To those within earshot, he said people who didn’t “look like they should be allowed to vote”, did.To soothe his ego, he appointed a commission headed by Kris Kobach, a nativist Kansas secretary of state, to vindicate his claims. It found nothing.In a blend of fiction and wish-fulfillment, Sean Spicer, Trump’s first White House press secretary, and Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser, embarked on flights of fantasy. Spicer declared that Trump’s inaugural crowd was larger than that for Barack Obama. Conway introduced us to alternative facts.Lemire’s indictment goes way beyond that offered by Clinton, who called Trump voters deplorable. He casts the issue as systemic – and punches up. He is angered but does not condescend. The Big Lie is also about elite conservative lawyers, Ivy League-educated senators, Republican House leadership and Mike Lindell, the My Pillow guy.Like Gollum in Tolkien’s Rings trilogy, the House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, wants to get his hands on the speaker’s gavel that badly. Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser and author of the ill-fated “Green Bay Sweep” plan to overturn the election, faces charges of criminal contempt. Such acolytes know exactly what they do.Extremists in Congress like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert are vocal totems, empowered by an enraged ex-president and a vengeance-filled base. In such a world it seems no surprise cries of “hang Mike Pence”, makeshift gallows and Confederate battle flags in the halls of the Capitol came to supplant “fuck your feelings”, the mantra of Trump 2016.As expected, Steve Bannon appears in The Big Lie. He loves dishing to the press. It is in his DNA. The former Trump campaign guru and White House aide, now convicted of contempt of Congress, trashes his former boss as a reflexive liar.According to Lemire, Bannon said: “Trump would say anything, he would lie about anything.” On cue, a Bannon spokesperson disputed Lemire’s sources, telling the Guardian they were inaccurate.In Jeremy Peters’ book, Insurgency, Bannon mused that Trump would “end up going down in history as one of the two or three worst presidents ever”. In Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, he described the Trump Tower meeting between Don Jr and a group of Russians amid the 2016 election campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”.And yet Bannon’s role in Trump’s bid to stay in power remains of central interest to the January 6 committee. On 5 January 2021, Bannon announced on-air that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow”. He spoke to Trump that morning.Despite his thoroughness, Lemire does omit the role of one group of Republicans in giving the big lie added heft. In May 2021, the Washington Post reported on the efforts of Texas Republicans led by Russell Ramsland, a businessman with a Harvard MBA.After the 2018 midterms, Ramsland and colleagues pressed convoluted theories concerning “voting-machine audit logs – lines of codes and time stamps that document the machines’ activities”. Pete Sessions, a defeated congressman, didn’t buy what Ramsland was selling. Trump did.For Trump’s minions, this remains a war over lost place and status.“Republicans need to prove to the American people that we are the party of … Christian nationalism,” says Greene, a first-term congresswoman from Georgia.Like a toxic weed, the big lie has taken root.“It is now part of the Republican party’s core belief,” Lemire writes. Violence and insurrection have become legitimate. “The Big Lie was who they were.”Our cold civil war grows hotter.
The Big Lie: Election Chaos, Political Opportunism, and the State of American Politics After 2020 is published in the US by Macmillan
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Murdoch told Kushner on election night that Arizona result was ‘not even close’Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser’s new book recounts turmoil caused by Fox News decision to call state for Biden in 2020 When Fox News called Arizona for Joe Biden on election night 2020, infuriating Donald Trump and fueling Republican election subversion attempts which continue to this day, Rupert Murdoch told Jared Kushner “the numbers are ironclad – it’s not even close”.Is Murdoch tiring of Trump? Mogul’s print titles dump the ex-presidentRead moreDetails of the Fox News owner’s conversation with Trump’s son-in-law and chief adviser about the call which most observers say confirmed Trump’s defeat are contained in Kushner’s memoir, Breaking History, which is due out next month.They also come as Murdoch-owned papers and even Fox News itself seem to turn against Trump in light of the January 6 hearings on the US Capitol attack and his attempt to overturn his election defeat.A first extract from the book, in which Kushner described being secretly treated for thyroid cancer, was reported by Maggie Haberman of the New York Times.On Wednesday another Times reporter, Kenneth Vogel, tweeted pictures of pages from Kushner’s book, each emblazoned with the word “confidential”.Kushner’s description of the shock of the Fox News Arizona call mirrors those in numerous reports and books on Trump’s 2020 defeat, his refusal to accept it and the attack on US democracy which followed.“The shocking projection brought our momentum to a screeching halt,” Kushner writes. “It instantly changed the mood among our campaign’s leaders, who were scrambling to understand the network’s methodology.”Kushner describes the Trump campaign’s focus on Arizona and writes that losing there “would drastically narrow our path to victory”.In Landslide, a book released last year, the author Michael Wolff reported that Murdoch gave his son Lachlan Murdoch approval for Fox News to call Arizona for Biden with “a signature grunt” and a barb for Trump: “Fuck him.”Fox News denied Wolff’s story.Kushner writes: “I dialed Rupert Murdoch and asked why Fox News had made the Arizona call before hundreds of thousands of votes were tallied. Rupert said he would look into the issue, and minutes later he called back.“‘Sorry Jared, there is nothing I can do,’” he said. “‘The Fox News data authority says the numbers are ironclad – he says it won’t be close.’”Biden won Arizona by about 10,000 votes, a margin which increased after a partisan audit encouraged by Trump allies and commissioned by state Republicans.Key members of the Fox News decision desk left after the election. Chris Stirewalt, the politics editor, was fired. He has appeared before the January 6 committee.“We knew [Arizona] would be a consequential call because it was one of five states that really mattered,” Stirewalt testified.Stirewalt also said that by the time of the Arizona call, Trump’s chances of beating Biden were “very small” and “getting smaller”. After Arizona, he said, those chances dwindled to “none”.In his book, Kushner shades close to his father-in-law’s lie about electoral fraud in Biden’s victory, writing: “2020 was full of anomalies.”The election was called for Biden on 7 November, when Pennsylvania fell into his column. He won the electoral college by 306-232, the same margin Trump called a landslide when it landed in his favour against Hillary Clinton in 2016. Biden won the popular vote by more than 7m.In his passage on the speech Trump gave in the early hours of 4 November, the day after election day, claiming “Frankly, we did win this election”, Kushner says he was called by Karl Rove, the strategist who helped George W Bush win “the closest presidential election in US history”, against Al Gore in 2000.Trump claimed to have been the victim of fraud. Rove, Kushner writes, said: “The president’s rhetoric is all wrong. He’s going to win. Statistically, there’s no way the Democrats can catch up with you now.”Kushner says he responded: “Call the president and tell him that.”Trump later turned on Rove, who he said called him at 10.30pm on election night “to congratulate me on ‘a great win’”. Fox News called Arizona just before midnight.On Wednesday, Vogel also tweeted pages in which Kushner describes his work on presidential pardons.Kushner says he did not oppose a pardon for Steve Bannon, the former Trump strategist who was accused of fraud but who was a prominent White House leaker, because of the work Bannon did on Trump’s winning campaign in 2016.He also writes that when Trump pardoned Alice Johnson, a Black grandmother sentenced on a minor drugs-related charge of the sort Kushner targeted in his work on sentencing reform, Trump said: “Let’s hope Alice doesn’t go out and kill anyone!”TopicsBooksJared KushnerRupert MurdochFox NewsUS elections 2020Donald TrumpPolitics booksnewsReuse this content More
Pence has ‘erect posture but flaccid conscience’, says ex-Trump officialMiles Taylor, author of famous column and book by ‘Anonymous’, says former vice-president cannot stand up to his former boss On the day Mike Pence and Donald Trump both spoke in Washington, a former member of their administration poured scorn on Pence’s attempt to portray himself as a potential Republican presidential nominee, and competitor to Trump, in 2024.Self-awareness in short supply as Trump calls for law and order in DCRead moreSpeaking on CNN, Miles Taylor said: “If you want to know what the Mike Pence vice-presidency was like, Mike Pence is a guy with an erect posture and flaccid conscience. He stood up tall but he did not stand up to Donald Trump.”Taylor was chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security when he wrote a famous column for the New York Times under the name “Anonymous”. He then wrote a book, A Warning, expanding on his insider’s account of Trump White House dysfunction.Reviewing the book in the Guardian, world affairs editor Julian Borger said: “It fails to answer the question that hangs over almost every page: why heed the counsel, however urgent, of someone who is not prepared to reveal who they are?”Having identified himself as a conservative opponent of Trump, Taylor is now attached to think tanks including Business for America and Renew America Movement.In Washington on Tuesday, Pence spoke to the Young America Foundation before Trump spoke at the America First Policy Institute. Pence also announced a memoir, So Help Me God, to be published in November.He said the book would deal with the “severing” of his relationship with Trump over Trump’s demand that Pence refuse to certify electoral college results in key states in Trump’s 2020 defeat by Joe Biden.Told by advisers he had no such authority, Pence did not do so. Trump supporters attacked the Capitol, some egged on by a tweet in which Trump said his vice-president “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done”. Some rioters chanted: “Hang Mike Pence.” A gallows was erected outside.02:46In public hearings about Trump’s election subversion and the insurrection, the House January 6 committee has portrayed Pence’s decision to defy Trump as a brave and noble action. It has also aired testimony suggesting Trump approved of the call for Pence to be hanged.But as the Republican 2024 field begins to take shape, with Trump suggesting he will soon announce a run, perhaps to head off criminal charges, Pence must appeal to a party largely still in Trump’s thrall.In Washington on Tuesday, he said: “Some people may choose to focus on the past. But elections are about the future. And I believe conservatives must focus on the future to win back America. We can’t afford to take our eyes off the road in front of us.”He also said: “I truly believe elections are about the future. That is absolutely essential … that we don’t give way to the temptation to look back.”On CNN, Taylor said Pence “stood up tall in that speech but he still – after people trying to assassinate him – could not stand up to Donald Trump …“That tells you everything you need to know about Mike Pence.”TopicsMike PenceDonald TrumpTrump administrationUS elections 2024US politicsRepublicansUS Capitol attacknewsReuse this content More