Trump Organization Convicted Of Tax Fraud In New York

In this file photo taken on November 26, 2020 US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after participating in a Thanksgiving teleconference with members of the United States Military, at the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)
In this file photo taken on November 26, 2020 US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after participating in a Thanksgiving teleconference with members of the United States Military, at the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)

 

 

Donald Trump’s family business was found guilty of tax fraud by a New York jury Tuesday, dealing a blow to the ex-president as he eyes the White House again.

The Trump Organization and separate entity the Trump Payroll Corp were found guilty on all counts, marking the first time the companies had ever been convicted of crimes.

“This was a case about greed and cheating,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who prosecuted the case.

Trump himself was not charged but the fact the sprawling real-estate, hotel and golf business that bears his name is now a convicted felon is likely to inflict damage to his reputation as he seeks the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2024.

The two entities were convicted of running a 13-year-scheme to defraud and evade taxes by falsifying business records. In all, they were found guilty on 17 counts.

Jurors agreed with prosecutors that the Trump Organization — currently run by Trump’s two adult sons, Donald Jr and Eric Trump — hid compensation it paid to top executives between 2005 and 2021.

Longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg, had already pleaded guilty to 15 counts of tax fraud, and testified against his former company as part of a plea bargain. He did not implicate Trump during the trial.

A close friend of the Trump family, the 75-year-old Weisselberg admitted he schemed with the company to receive undeclared benefits such as a rent-free apartment in a posh Manhattan neighborhood, luxury cars for him and his wife and private school tuition for his grandchildren.

According to his plea deal, Weisselberg agreed to pay nearly $2 million in fines and penalties and complete a five-month prison sentence in exchange for testimony during the trial, which started in October.

Trump, posting on his social media platform, said the Trump Organization bore no responsibility for “Weisselberg committing tax fraud on his personal tax returns.”

Under the headline “Manhattan Witch Hunt!” Trump said no benefit accrued to the company from Weisselberg’s actions, and that neither he nor any employees were “allowed to legally view” the CFO’s returns.

Trump said he was “disappointed with the verdict” and will appeal.

Rape case

Trump’s company faces a fine of around $1.5 million, a paltry sum to the billionaire real estate developer.

It’s symbolic though as he battles a host of legal and congressional probes that will likely complicate his run for a second presidential term, announced in Florida last month.

Trump and his three eldest children face a trial late next year in a civil lawsuit by New York’s attorney general that accuses them of misstating the value of properties to enrich themselves.

Prosecutor Letitia James has requested that Trump pay at least $250 million in penalties — a sum she says he made from the fraud — and that his family be banned from running businesses in the state.

James, a Democrat, hailed Tuesday’s verdict.

“We can have no tolerance for individuals or organizations that violate our laws to line their pockets,” she said.

Trump has been ordered to testify in April 2023 as part of a defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who says he raped her in the 1990s.

He is also facing legal scrutiny for his efforts to overturn the results of the November 2020 election and over the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.

US Treasury Makes Trump Tax Returns Available To Congressional Committee

File photo: Former US President Donald Trump delivers an update on “Operation Warp Speed” in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC on November 13, 2020.
MANDEL NGAN / AFP

The US Treasury Department said on Wednesday it complied with a court order to make former president Donald Trump’s tax returns, which he has long fought to keep under wraps, available to a congressional committee.

The 76-year-old Trump, who recently announced he will seek the presidency again in 2024, refused to release his tax returns while in office — as presidents have done since the 1970s — and took to the courts to block a congressional request.

Earlier in November, however, the Supreme Court cleared the way for his returns to be handed over to the Ways and Means Committee of the Democratic-majority House of Representatives.

READ ALSO: US House Approves Bill To Avert Freight Rail Strike

“Treasury has complied with last week’s court decision,” a department spokesperson told AFP.

The department did not disclose whether the committee had accessed the documents, according to an official.

Committee members did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The committee has been seeking tax returns from Trump and business entities related to him for the period of 2015 to 2020.

The Supreme Court decision came with just a few weeks remaining in the term of the current Congress, with Republican lawmakers due to take over the House in January after winning a slight majority in the November 8 midterm elections.

Elon Musk Gleeful As Twitter Users Vote On Reinstating Trump

Elon Musk and a Twitter illustration

 

Elon Musk expressed excitement Saturday as he watched votes pour in on a Twitter poll he has posted on whether to readmit Donald Trump to the messaging platform.

“Reinstate former President Trump,” the billionaire Twitter owner posted Friday, with a chance to vote either yes or no.

As of 2200 GMT Saturday, 51.8 percent of the more than 14 million responses were in favor of a return of the former president, who was banned from Twitter for his role in last year’s attack on the US Capitol by a mob of his followers seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Musk said the poll was drawing one million answers per hour.

“Fascinating to watch Twitter Trump poll!” Musk said Saturday morning in a blast of tweets from the controversial and hard-charging new owner of the one-to-many messaging platform.


READ ALSO: Trump’s Twitter Account Reappears After Musk Poll


There was no indication that the mercurial boss of Space-X and Tesla would adhere to the results of the ad hoc poll.

But on Friday, Musk also posted a Latin adage suggesting that the decision would be up to Twitter users: “Vox Populi, Vox Dei” (“The voice of the people is the voice of God”).

He has done similar polls in the past, asking followers last year if he should sell stock in his electric car company Tesla. Following that poll, he sold more than $1 billion in shares.

Trump, who reveled in using Twitter as a mouthpiece, was followed by more than 88 million users.

He has said he will not return to the popular platform but would instead remain on his own network, Truth Social, launched after he was banned from Twitter.

Appearing via video Saturday at a gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, Trump said he welcomed Musk’s poll, and was a fan of the man himself, but appeared to reject any return.

“I do like him… you know, he’s a character and again, I like characters,” he said.

“He did put up a poll and it was very overwhelming… but I have something called… Truth Social.”

As to whether he would return to the platform, he said: “I don’t see it because I don’t see any reason for it.”

Musk, also the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has come under fire for radical changes at California-based Twitter, which he bought less than a month ago for $44 billion.

Since then, he fired half of Twitter’s 7,500 staff, scrapped a work-from-home policy and imposed long hours, all while his attempts to overhaul the company faced backlash and delays.

His stumbling attempts to revamp user verification with a controversial subscription service led to a slew of fake accounts and pranks, and prompted major advertisers to step away from the platform.

On Friday, Musk appeared to be pressing on with his plans and reinstated previously banned accounts, including that of comedian Kathy Griffin, which had been taken down after she impersonated him on the site.

The company’s offices were locked down Friday and hundreds of employees quit rather than yield to Musk’s demands that they resign themselves to working long, grueling days at the new Twitter.

Twitter Reinstates Trump Account After Musk’s Poll

In this file photo taken on November 26, 2020 US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after participating in a Thanksgiving teleconference with members of the United States Military, at the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)
File photo of former US President Donald Trump/ AFP

 

Donald Trump’s Twitter account was reinstated Saturday after the platform’s new owner Elon Musk ran a poll in which a narrow majority of voters supported the move, days after the former US president announced another White House bid.

Trump was banned from the platform early last year for his role in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by a mob of his supporters seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

“The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated,” Musk tweeted, shortly after the 24-hour poll ended.

“Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” he added, repeating a Latin adage he posted Friday meaning “the voice of the people is the voice of God.”

READ ALSO: China Records First COVID-19 Death Since May

More than 15 million people — out of 237 million daily Twitter users — voted on whether to reinstate the controversial profile, with 51.8 percent in favor and 48.2 percent against.

Trump, who had more than 88 million users when his account was suspended, reveled in using Twitter as a mouthpiece during his presidency, posting policy announcements, attacking political rivals and communicating with supporters.

Musk’s poll asked for a simple “yes” or “no” response to the statement “Reinstate former President Trump,” which the billionaire Twitter boss posted Friday.

“Fascinating to watch Twitter Trump poll!” Musk mused Saturday morning in a blast of tweets from the controversial and hard-charging new owner of the one-to-many messaging platform.

He has posed similar polls in the past, asking followers last year if he should sell stock in his electric car company Tesla. Following that poll, he sold more than $1 billion in shares.

 ‘I have Truth Social’

Trump said Saturday he would not return to the popular platform but instead remain on his own network, Truth Social, launched after he was banned from Twitter.

Appearing via video at a gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, Trump said he welcomed the poll and was a fan of Musk, but appeared to reject any return.

“He did put up a poll and it was very overwhelming… but I have something called… Truth Social.”

As to whether he would return to the platform, he said: “I don’t see it because I don’t see any reason for it.”

Trump had not posted to Twitter by late Saturday, though he did share a series of unrelated messages on his Truth Social account, including opinion articles criticizing the US Justice Department’s appointment of a special counsel this week to investigate his role in the Capitol attack.

But several of his political allies were highlighting his return.

“Welcome back, @realdonaldtrump!” tweeted House Republican Paul Gosar.

Prominent Trump-backer Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose personal account is also suspended, re-tweeted several of his previous posts from her official government account, including some tweets that were still marked with fact-checking badges refuting his claims about 2020 election fraud.

“Anyone who thinks President Trump isn’t going to win the 2024 primary is fooling themselves,” she tweeted.

Anti-Trump Republican Liz Cheney, co-chair of the congressional committee investigating the Capitol attack who lost her re-election bid, responded to the news by directing Twitter users to a link with a video of one of the committee’s hearings.

“With Trump back on Twitter, it’s a good time to watch this Jan 6 hearing,” she tweeted.

“It covers each of Trump’s tweets that day, including those that have been deleted, and features multiple Trump WH staff describing his inexcusable conduct during the violence.”

Musk has reinstated other banned accounts, including that of comedian Kathy Griffin, which had been taken down after she impersonated him on the site.

 Twitter chaos

Musk, also the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has come under fire for radical changes at California-based Twitter, which he bought less than a month ago for $44 billion.

Since then, he has fired half of Twitter’s 7,500 staff and scrapped a work-from-home policy, all while his attempts to overhaul the company faced backlash and delays.

Hundreds of employees quit rather than yield to Musk’s demands that they resign themselves to working long, grueling days at the new Twitter.

His stumbling attempts to revamp user verification with a controversial subscription service led to a slew of fake accounts and pranks, and prompted major advertisers to step away from the platform.

AFP

Biden Says He ‘Can Beat’ Former US President Donald Trump Again

This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and former Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP
This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020, shows ex-US President Donald Trump (L) and President Joe Biden. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP

 

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday voiced confidence that he could beat his predecessor Donald Trump in a 2024 rematch — even as he acknowledged the country could sink back into recession under his leadership.

The 79-year-old Democrat was asked if he’d be announcing a run for a second term after November’s midterm elections — and if Trump would be a factor in his decision.

“I believe I can beat Donald Trump again,” Biden responded, although he stopped short of confirming another tilt at the Oval Office in 2024.

Biden defeated Trump in both the state-by-state “electoral college” and the popular vote in 2020 — leading to relentless false claims of widespread voter fraud from the defeated president.

Biden indicated to reporters at a NATO summit in March that he would be happy for Trump to be his opponent again.

READ ALSOZelensky Pleads For Ukraine ‘Air Shield’ After Russian Onslaught

Biden’s popularity has taken a hit in the last year amid soaring inflation, rising violent crime in cities, and a seemingly intractable migrant crisis at the southern border.

But his approval ratings still outrank the numbers seen in polling for Trump, who regularly mocks Biden — three years his senior — for his age.

CNN asked Biden what he would tell voters who consider him too old for reelection.

“Name me a president in recent history that’s gotten as much done as I have in the first two years. Not a joke. You may not like what I got done, but the vast majority of the American people do like what I got done,” Biden replied.

“And so… it’s a matter of, can you do the job? And I believe I can do the job.”

In a wide-ranging interview that took in the war in Ukraine and Saudi-led oil production cuts that are expected to send gas prices soaring again, Biden was asked about fears for the economy amid gloomy growth projections.

Biden downplayed the likelihood of a recession but conceded a “slight” downturn is possible.

“I don’t think there will be a recession. If it is, it’ll be a very slight recession. That is, we’ll move down slightly,” he said.

Trump, 76, came to power during the longest economic expansion in US history, although the economy tumbled into recession in 2020 as the world was gripped by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Biden frequently takes questions from the media, but he has held few press conferences or one-to-one televised interviews.

He has been more visible recently as he takes to the road to talk up Democratic legislative achievements and slam “MAGA Republicans” — followers of former president Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” agenda — in the final weeks of the midterm election campaign.

He also sat down with CBS in September, making headlines for declaring the pandemic over and confirming the US commitment to defending Taiwan from a Chinese assault.

AFP

Trump Sues CNN For Defamation, Seeks $475m In Damages

In this file photo taken on December 7, 2020 -ex-US President Donald Trump looks on during a ceremony presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to wrestler Dan Gable in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. AFP

 

Former US president Donald Trump sued CNN on Monday, accusing the cable television news network of defamation and seeking $475 million in punitive damages.

Trump, in the lawsuit filed in a US District Court in Florida, accused CNN of waging a campaign of “libel and slander” against him because it “fears” he will run for president again in 2024.

READ ALSO: Brazil Heads For Runoff Vote With Bolsonaro Buoyant

“CNN has sought to use its massive influence — purportedly as a ‘trusted’ news source — to defame the plaintiff in the minds of its viewers and readers for the purpose of defeating him politically,” Trump’s lawyers said in the 29-page complaint.

“As a part of its concerted effort to tilt the political balance to the Left, CNN has tried to taint the plaintiff with a series of ever-more scandalous, false, and defamatory labels of ‘racist,’ ‘Russian lackey,’ ‘insurrectionist,’ and ultimately ‘Hitler,'” the complaint said.

Trump, who requested a jury trial, had a caustic relationship with CNN and other major news outlets like The New York Times during his presidency, branding them “fake news” and repeatedly raging against them on social media.

AFP

Biden Slams Trump ‘Extremist’ Assault On Democracy

This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020 shows US President Donald Trump (L) and former Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP
This combination of file pictures created on October 22, 2020, shows US President Donald Trump (L) and former Democratic Presidential candidate and former US Vice President Joe Biden during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP

 

US President Joe Biden took fierce aim Thursday at Donald Trump and his “extremist” supporters, labeling them enemies of American democracy in a prime-time address that sought to fire up voters ahead of key midterm elections.

Speaking in Philadelphia, the cradle of US democracy, the president launched an extraordinary assault on those Republicans who embrace Trump’s “Make America Great Again” ideology — and urged his own supporters to fight back.

“Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic,” thundered Biden, speaking near the spot where the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were adopted more than two centuries ago.

“They embrace anger. They thrive on chaos. They live not in the light of truth but in the shadow of lies.”

“There is no place for political violence in America. Period. None. Ever,” warned the 79-year-old Democrat — in a reference to last year’s assault on the US Capitol by hardline Trump supporters refusing to accept his defeat.

Citing the nationwide assault on abortion rights by hardline conservatives — and fears for other freedoms ranging from contraception access to same-sex marriage — the US leader charged that “MAGA forces” were “determined to take this country backwards.”

With control of Congress in the balance come November, Biden appealed directly to mainstream Republicans to join forces with Democrats and repudiate Trump’s brand of politics — which still holds sway over much of his party.

And he made it clearer than ever that Democrats intended to make the midterms a referendum on Trump, saying the Republican Party was wholly “dominated, driven and intimidated” by the former president and his MAGA agenda.

“And that is a threat to this country,” he said, insisting American democracy had to be defended.

“Protect it. Stand up for it,” Biden urged.

Trump hit back at Biden on his Truth Social site late on Thursday, saying the president is unfit for office.

“If he doesn’t want to Make America Great Again, which through words, action, and thought, he doesn’t, then he certainly should not be representing the United States of America!” Trump wrote.

READ ALSOMan Arrested For Attempted Shooting Of Argentina Vice President

 ‘Soul of the Nation’ 

Biden’s speech — billed as an address on the “battle for the Soul of the Nation” — harked back to an article he published in The Atlantic magazine in 2017, after a deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that he says spurred his presidential run.

“We are living through a battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden wrote then.

After his election in 2020, the veteran politician initially planned for more dialogue with moderate Republican lawmakers, and through economic and social policies aimed at the middle class.

But the talk of reconciliation has died down, as polls seem to indicate the Democratic leader is better served by being more aggressive.

Last week, Biden accused Trump’s supporters of being consumed by “semi-fascism.”

The term sparked indignation in conservative ranks — with Republican Senate Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy charging that it “vilifies” millions of “hardworking, law-abiding citizens.

“With all due respect Mr President, there’s nothing wrong with America’s soul,” retorted Republican senator and longtime Trump loyalist Lindsey Graham after Biden’s speech.

“The American people are hurting because of your policies.”

A new poll published Thursday by The Wall Street Journal shows that if the midterm elections were held today, 47 percent of eligible voters would cast ballots for Democrats, and 44 percent would vote Republican.

In March, the Republicans had a five-point advantage.

The Democrats are hoping for an upset in November’s elections, in which all of the seats in the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate seats are on the ballot. Traditionally, the midterms don’t favor the ruling party.

Things have been going well for Biden lately, however, with inflation slowing, a series of his landmark reforms finally pushed through Congress and Trump fighting off a series of criminal investigations. Polls show widespread support for abortion rights, which could put many Republicans on the back foot.

This would be enough to give hope to the Democrats, who are battling to keep their hold on the House and preserve their Senate majority — or even strengthen it.

And Pennsylvania will be crucial for any of that to happen.

Historically a key battleground in US politics, the Keystone State will likely prove vital to both parties in the midterms — and Biden will visit three times this week alone.

Trump is also planning an appearance in the state on Saturday to support his candidate in the Senate race, TV physician Mehmet Oz.

AFP

Biden’s COVID-19 Advisor Anthony Fauci To Step Down

A combo image showing Anthony Fauci and Joe Biden

 

President Joe Biden’s Covid advisor Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert who became the face of the country’s fight against the pandemic, announced Monday that he will step down in December.

Fauci said in a statement he would be leaving both his position as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and that of chief medical advisor to Biden — though he added: “I am not retiring.”

The 81-year-old, who previously disclosed plans to leave by the end of Biden’s current term, announced he would go in December to “pursue the next chapter of my career.”

Biden extended his “deepest thanks” to Fauci in a White House statement.

“Because of Dr. Fauci’s many contributions to public health, lives here in the United States and around the world have been saved,” the president said, adding that the country is “is stronger, more resilient, and healthier because of him.”

READ ALSO: US Governor Visits Taiwan After China Drills

Fauci has helmed the United States’ response to infectious disease outbreaks since the 1980s, from HIV/AIDS to Covid-19, and has served under seven presidents.

When Covid first spread globally from China in 2020, he became a trusted source of reliable information, reassuring the public with his calm and professorial demeanor during frequent media appearances.

But his honest takes on America’s early failures to get to grips with the virus brought Fauci into conflict with former president Donald Trump, and turned the physician-scientist into a hated figure for some on the right.

Fauci now lives with security protection after his family received death threats and harassment.

Biden said that after winning the 2020 election, as he was trying to build a team to lead the Covid-19 response, Fauci was “one of my first calls.”

“In that role, I’ve been able to call him at any hour of the day for his advice as we’ve tackled this once-in-a-generation pandemic,” the president stated.

AFP

Car Bomb Kills Putin’s Ally Daughter


Ukrainian deminers and a forensic policeman examine shrapnel following a missile strike in the Dokuchaievske village near Kharkiv on August 21, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by SERGEY BOBOK / AFP)

 

The daughter of Alexander Dugin, a hardline Russian ideologue close to President Vladimir Putin, has been killed in a car bombing on Moscow’s outskirts, authorities said on Sunday.

According to family members quoted by Russian media, Dugin — a vocal supporter of Kremlin’s offensive in Ukraine — was the likely target of the blast as his daughter borrowed his car at the last minute.

Daria Dugina was killed when a bomb placed in the Toyota Land Cruiser went off as she drove on a highway near the village of Bolshie Vyzyomy, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) outside Moscow, Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement.

Dugina, a journalist born in 1992 who herself openly supported the offensive, died at the scene and a homicide investigation has been opened, said the committee, which probes major crime cases in Russia.

READ ALSO: Drone Shot Down At Russia’s Black Sea Fleet Headquarters

In July Britain put her on a list of sanctioned Russians for allegedly spreading online disinformation about Ukraine.

Dugin, 60, sometimes called “Putin’s Rasputin” or “Putin’s brain,” is an outspoken Russian ultranationalist intellectual.

He has long advocated the unification of Russian-speaking territories in a vast new Russian empire and wholeheartedly supported Moscow’s operation in Ukraine.

He was put on a Western sanctions list after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, a move he also backed.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing.

The head of one of Ukraine’s breakaway separatist regions blamed the blast on Kyiv authorities.

“The Ukrainian regime terrorists tried to liquidate Alexander Dugin, but blew up his daughter,” DNR chief Denis Pushilin wrote on Telegram.

A Ukrainian presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak denied that Kyiv authorities were behind the bombing.

“Ukraine surely doesn’t have anything to do with yesterday’s explosion because we’re not a criminal state,” he said in televised remarks.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Telegram that “if the Ukrainian theory is confirmed… and it must be verified by competent authorities, it will amount to state terrorism on the part of the Kyiv regime.”

AFP

China Sanctions Pelosi Over Taiwan Visit

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (C) being welcomed by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (L) after landing at Songshan Airport in Taipei, Taiwan on August 2, 2022. Taiwanese Foreign Ministry / Handout / Anadolu Agency
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (C) being welcomed by Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (L) after landing at Songshan Airport in Taipei, Taiwan on August 2, 2022. Taiwanese Foreign Ministry / Handout / Anadolu Agency

 

China’s foreign ministry announced sanctions against US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday after her visit to Taiwan this week, prompting fury and shows of military force from Beijing.

The ministry said Pelosi was “seriously interfering in China’s internal affairs and seriously undermining China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” with the visit, and that Beijing would “impose sanctions on Pelosi and her immediate family”, without giving further details.

China has announced sanctions on a number of US officials in recent years for acting against what it views as its core interests and speaking out on human rights issues in Hong Kong and the northwestern region of Xinjiang, often without specifying punitive measures.

READ ALSO27 Chinese Warplanes Enter Taiwan’s Air Defence Zone: Taipei

In March this year, Beijing said it was imposing visa restrictions on an undisclosed list of United States officials who had allegedly “concocted lies on human rights issues involving China”.

Former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, as well as Peter Navarro — a trade adviser to former president Donald Trump — were among those hit by earlier waves of sanctions and are forbidden from entering China as well as doing business with Chinese entities.

Beijing’s ruling Communist Party views self-ruled, democratic Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to one day take it, by force if necessary.

The Chinese government has reacted with bombastic threats and military drills in the lead-up to and aftermath of Pelosi’s visit, which it sees as an unacceptable escalation of ties between Washington and Taiwan’s current pro-independence leaders.

AFP

US Capitol Riot Probe Puts Trump At Heart Of ‘Attempted Coup’

In this file photo taken on June 30, 2021, Former President Donald Trump speaks during a visit to the border wall outside Pharr, Texas.  Sergio FLORES / AFP

 

A congressional panel investigating last year’s mob assault on the US Capitol laid out its case Thursday that Donald Trump and his claims of a stolen election were at the heart of what amounted to an “attempted coup” to remain in power.

In a prime-time presentation of its findings from a year-long probe, the special committee sought to persuade a divided country of the existence of a deep-rooted and ongoing plot — orchestrated by the former president — to overturn the result of the 2020 election won by Joe Biden.

“President Trump summoned the mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” the Republican vice chairwoman of the panel, Liz Cheney, said in her opening remarks at the first in a series of hotly anticipated summer hearings.

Minutes earlier, Democratic committee chief Bennie Thompson accused Trump of being “at the center of this conspiracy.”

READ ALSO: Malaysia To Abolish Mandatory Death Penalty

“January 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup — a brazen attempt, as one rioter put it shortly after January 6 — to overthrow the government. The violence was no accident,” he said.

Rioters acted “at the encouragement of the president of the United States,” to march on Congress and block the formal transfer of power by lawmakers to Biden, he added.

The panel’s carefully produced presentation made use of testimony given behind closed doors by some of Trump’s most senior and trusted advisors, including former attorney general Bill Barr and Trump’s son-in-law and senior aide, Jared Kushner.

‘Witch Hunt’ 

In this file photo taken on January 06, 2021 supporters of US President Donald Trump, including member of the QAnon conspiracy group Jacob Anthony Chansley, aka QAnon Shaman (C), enters the US Capitol in Washington, DC.  Saul LOEB / AFP

 

The panel aims to demonstrate that the violence was part of a broader — and ongoing — drive by Trump and his inner circle to illegitimately cling to or regain power, tearing up the Constitution and more than two centuries of peaceful transitions from one administration to the next.

Thursday’s session and five subsequent hearings over the coming weeks will focus on Trump’s role in the multi-pronged effort to return him to the Oval Office by disenfranchising millions of voters.

Trump has defiantly dismissed the probe as a baseless “witch hunt” — but the public hearings were uppermost in his mind Thursday as he fired off a largely false tirade on his social media platform, defending the insurrection as “the greatest movement in the history of our Country to Make America Great Again.”

Following the hearing, he lashed out again on Truth Social, accusing the committee of bias and doubling down on his election fraud claims.

“The Unselect Committee of political HACKS refuses to play any of the many positive witnesses and statements,” he wrote.

The case the committee wants to make is that Trump laid the groundwork for the insurrection through months of lies about fraud in an election described by his own administration as the most secure ever.

His White House is accused of involvement in several potentially illegal schemes to aid the effort, including a plot to seize voting machines and another to appoint fake “alternative electors” from swing states who would ignore the will of their voters and hand victory to Trump.

 ‘Slipping in People’s Blood’ 

In this file photo, Police hold back supporters of ex-US President Donald Trump as they gather outside the US Capitol’s Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.  Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

Thursday’s hearing featured live testimony from two people who interacted with members of the neofascist organization the Proud Boys on January 6 and in the days leading to the violence.

Emmy-winning British documentary filmmaker Nick Quested testified about his experience shadowing members of the Proud Boys in the days leading up to January 6 and his interactions with them on the day itself.

Quested recalled being shocked by “the anger” he saw among the group’s members and described the larger rally crowd as transforming “from protesters to rioters to insurrectionists.”

“I was surprised at the size of the group, the anger, and the profanity,” he said.

Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, who was present at the breach of the first barricade, described sustaining head injuries in clashes with the Proud Boys, whose leader has been charged with seditious conspiracy, along with four lieutenants.

“I can just remember my breath catching in my throat because what I saw was just a war scene. It was something like I’d seen out of the movies,” she said.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were officers on the ground — they were bleeding, they were throwing up… I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people’s blood.”

Court of Public Opinion 

In this file photo taken on January 6, 2021 riot police push back a crowd of supporters of US President Donald Trump after they stormed the Capitol building in Washington, DC. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP)

 

The series of hearings will differ from Trump’s two impeachments in that he will not be represented in the room as he is not on trial — except perhaps in the court of public opinion.

Nevertheless, a number of his most loyal counter-punchers are expected to circle the wagons, challenging the investigation at every turn.

“It is the most political and least legitimate committee in American history,” the leader of the House Republican minority, Kevin McCarthy, told reporters.

In fact, Congress has wide-ranging oversight powers, and a Trump-appointed federal judge last month emphatically rejected Republicans’ arguments that the committee is illegitimate.

The panel has not confirmed what it plans to do after the initial slate of hearings, but at least one more presentation and a final report are expected in the fall.

AFP

Trump To Testify In New York Fraud Probe 

In this file photo taken on June 30, 2021, Former President Donald Trump speaks during a visit to the border wall outside Pharr, Texas. Sergio FLORES / AFP

 

Ex-president Donald Trump and his eldest children are scheduled to testify in New York’s civil probe into alleged fraud at their family business from July 15, a court document showed Wednesday.

New York state attorney general Letitia James and her team of investigators will have to conclude their questioning “by the following week,” the filing said.

Trump, Donald Jr and Ivanka have until June 13 to appeal to New York state’s highest court for a stay, according to the document filed by a lower court.

The trio have been fighting in court to avoid having to give evidence under oath in James’s tax evasion probe, which they argue is politically motivated.

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New York state judge Arthur Engoron ruled in February that the trio must testify, rejecting a plea by the Trumps to quash subpoenas issued by James.

She suspects the Trump Organization fraudulently overstated the value of real estate properties when applying for bank loans, while understating them with the tax authorities in order to pay less in taxes.

The Trumps have denied any wrongdoing.

Last month, the former president paid a $110,000 fine for refusing to provide accounting and tax documents as part of the civil probe.

If James, a Democrat, finds any evidence of financial misconduct, she can sue the Trump Organization for damages but cannot file criminal charges.

James’s probe is one of several legal battles in which Trump is embroiled, threatening to complicate any bid for another run for the White House in 2024.

The Trump Organization is also under investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney for possible financial crimes and insurance fraud.

Last July, the Trump Organization and its long-serving finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, pleaded not guilty in a New York court to 15 felony fraud and tax evasion charges.

Weisselberg’s trial is due to begin this year.

Trump, 75, has so far kept Americans guessing about whether he intends to seek the Republican nomination again.

AFP