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.”

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“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

A Musk-Owned Twitter Opens Door To Potential Trump Return

n this file combination of pictures created on May 31, 2017, shows a file photo taken on January 23, 2017, showing SpaceX CEO Elon Musk (L) in Washington, DC., and US President Donald Trump at the US Capitol April 25, 2017, in Washington, DC.

 

Four days after Twitter permanently suspended Donald Trump’s account on January 8, 2021, the then-US president’s son pleaded with entrepreneur Elon Musk to employ his “brilliance” to launch a social media platform that “isn’t biased” to crush the competition.

Musk didn’t accept Donald Trump Jr’s challenge.

But the Tesla chief’s deal to acquire Twitter sets him up to revisit the ban on the brash Republican — a move that could roil US politics as the nation marches towards the 2024 presidential race and a potential Trump re-election bid.

The Trump matter has loomed as a question mark throughout the twists and turns of the Twitter deal saga.

A reinstatement of Trump would have significant implications for a media landscape the ex-president once dominated before he was deplatformed “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

READ ALSO: Trump Rules Out Twitter Return As Musk Announces $44 Bn Purchase

Since then, Trump has remained the most powerful figure in Republican politics, even as he has all but vanished from the daily news cycle.

When Trump does make news, he continues to claim the 2020 election was stolen from him, a false narrative that fuels his movement and sows distrust of US institutions.

Irresistible? 

Trump has said he wouldn’t return to Twitter even if offered, telling Fox News on Monday he would instead stay on his fledgling Truth Social platform, which has struggled to fully get off the ground.

On Tuesday, Truth Social was the most downloaded iPhone app, at least for that day. But its launch has been beset with technical problems and it has yet to make it onto the national political radar.

Nevertheless, many remain skeptical Trump would be able to resist rejoining Twitter if given the chance.

A Washington Post article Monday quoted anonymous Trump aides who said the ex-president badly misses Twitter, which he employed as president to settle scores and mold the news cycle.

While pursuing Twitter in recent weeks, Musk has not directly addressed the Trump question.

Analysts believe Musk is driven primarily by a desire to control a visible marketing platform more than aspirations to shape American politics.

But many read Musk’s criticism of Twitter content policies as suggesting he will lift the Trump ban.

“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said Monday in announcing the deal.

 ‘He Sells News’

A Trump reinstatement is not without downside for Musk, who could face pushback beyond the world of Twitter.

“Trump is about as polarizing an issue as any imaginable,” said Daniel Binns, chief executive of Interbrand North America in New York.

“There might be some short-lived boycotting of Tesla amongst a small group of potential customers,” Binns told AFP in an email.

“But long term, I would fear a more corrosive erosion of the affinity people have for Tesla and the sense of empathy they have for their customer base,” he added.

Still, several experts in politics and social media characterized a Trump return as more likely than not in light of Musk’s freedom of speech statements and Trump’s standing as a potential 2024 Republican frontrunner.

New York Times columnist Kara Swisher urged readers to ready themselves for a shift from the “over-one-year-long respite from Trumpy Twitter.”

Twitter executives “would have been under enormous pressure to reconsider the ban” even if the company had not been acquired by Musk, said Swisher, who predicted the deal will “probably run Truth Social” and other nascent sites “out of business.”

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, predicted Trump would again have an outsized presence if he rejoined Twitter.

“It’s going to inject Trump back into the Republican mainstream,” said Sabato, who calls Trump “the worst thing to happen to American Democracy in my lifetime.”

Sabato thinks Trump will likely use Twitter to overshadow other politicians, including current President Joe Biden, “who doesn’t fill the news hole” as Trump did.

Karen North, founding director of the digital social media program at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School, believes Trump would first give Truth Social a chance before returning to Twitter, if given the opportunity.

A key difference from Trump’s White House days is that his statements are no longer newsworthy by default. That creates questions for journalists on how much to amplify the former president’s comments, North said.

Trump “has surprising staying power,” she added, noting that some of the fascination may be the result of his diminished presence in daily news.

“People are still so curious and so polarized by him,” she said.

“He sells news.”

AFP

Defiant Trump Defends Actions During US Capitol Assault

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

 

Former President Donald Trump defended his conduct during the US Capitol assault in an incendiary interview published Thursday, saying he did not regret summoning his rioting supporters to Washington.

He told The Washington Post he would have accompanied his ultra-loyal followers as they marched on the complex on January 6 last year, but was stopped by his security detail.

He offered no contrition for whipping up the crowd with bogus claims that victory was stolen from him through widespread fraud — although he was clear in his condemnation of the violence that ensued.

“Secret Service said I couldn’t go. I would have gone there in a minute,” he said, in the wide-ranging interview, adding that it was the largest crowd he had ever spoken to.

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Thousands of Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol last year in an effort to halt the peaceful transfer of power after Joe Biden won a decisive victory in 2020, described by the government as one of the most secure elections in US history.

Trump repeatedly boasted about the “tremendous” size of the crowd at his rally ahead of the riot and glossed over his explosive rhetoric that whipped up the crowd.

“I don’t know what that means, but you see very few pictures. They don’t want to show pictures, the fake news doesn’t want to show pictures,” he said.

The ex-president defended his long silence during the attack, deflecting blame to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, even though she isn’t responsible for policing at the Capitol and was a target of the mob herself.

He also pointed a finger at Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, who “furiously tried to reach Trump’s team that day,” according to the Post.

“I hated seeing it. I hated seeing it. And I said, ‘It’s got to be taken care of,’ and I assumed they were taking care of it,” Trump said of the violence, which has been linked to at least five deaths.

The interview came after the House of Representatives voted to refer ex-Trump aides Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino for criminal contempt charges on Wednesday for defying congressional subpoenas to testify about the riot.

AFP

‘Putin Is Smart’: Trump Blames Russian Invasion On Biden’s ‘Weakness’ 

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 during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP

 

 

Donald Trump emerged from political exile Saturday to blast President Joe Biden and NATO over the Ukraine crisis and reprise his false claims of a stolen 2020 election in a speech to grassroots Republicans.

Speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, the former president spent 86 minutes reprising many of his favorite applause lines, assailing the “radical left” and its “witch hunt” against him.

As massive explosions lit up the sky over Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, Trump blamed Russia’s invasion of its neighbor on Biden’s “weakness” and lavished praise on President Vladimir Putin’s intellect.

“As everyone understands, this horrific disaster would never have happened if our election was not rigged,” he said, to rapt applause.

READ ALSO: Ukraine Forms ‘International Brigade’ To Fight Russia

NATO, he said, was “looking the opposite of smart” for hitting Russia with sanctions rather than resolving to “blow (Russia) to pieces — at least psychologically.”

“The problem is not that Putin is smart, which of course he’s smart,” he went on. “But the real problem is that our leaders are so dumb.”

After a year largely out of the public eye, Trump’s ecstatic reception left little doubt that the Republican Party remains in thrall to the twice-impeached, single-term president.

There were chants of “four more years” from the sea of supporters in red “Make America Great Again” hats, who clapped on cue as Trump railed against “woke tyranny” and “cancel culture.”

The crowd reserved their largest cheers for the 75-year-old headliner’s dismissal of Democrats’ claims to be the party of democracy as “bullshit” — and for his claim that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg “used to come to the White House and kiss my ass.”

There were nods to a possible 2024 run — “we did it twice and we’ll do it again,” he claimed, falsely recasting his 2020 defeat to Biden as a victory — although he left the crowd guessing about whether he will personally challenge Biden to a rematch.

‘Fight like hell’ 

CPAC, the country’s largest conservative gathering, usually offers a valuable insight into the direction the Republicans plan to take over the coming months.

Trump had been expected to lay out a forward-looking “vision for America,” according to organizers, as the Republicans look to take back control of Congress in November’s midterm elections.

Instead, he dwelt at length on his 2020 election loss and his false claims that he was robbed by widespread voter fraud, urging the crowd to “fight like hell” or face their country being destroyed.

It was similar to the rhetoric that inspired a mob of his supporters to storm the US Capitol on January 6 2021, for which he was punished with his second impeachment.

His remarks came as Russian rockets began pounding the outskirts of Kyiv in an escalating crisis that ended up emerging as a major topic of discussion at CPAC.

Trump called besieged President Volodymyr Zelensky “a brave man,” falsely claiming that the Ukrainian leader had exonerated him over the scandal that led to his first impeachment.

While he was president, Trump withheld vital military aid from the US ally as he tried unsuccessfully to pressure Zelensky into digging up political dirt on the Biden family ahead of the 2020 election.

“After spending four years selling out Ukraine, the defeated former president took the stage at CPAC to double down on his shameless praise for Putin as innocent Ukrainians shelter from bombs and missiles at the hands of Russia,” Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Adonna Biel said after the speech.

AFP

Republicans Hammer Biden Over Russia’s Invasion Of Ukraine

A photo combination of US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladmir Putin
A photo combination of US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin

 

As US lawmakers raced Thursday to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, allies of Donald Trump wasted no time in placing the blame squarely with President Joe Biden, saying his administration had emboldened Moscow with a series of policy blunders.

Prominent political figures and commentators on the right dropped the longstanding custom of joining Democrats to speak with one voice in times of international crisis — accusing the president of weakness and even rallying to Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s side.

“Trump did the impossible and brought peace to the Middle East. Biden did the impossible and brought war to Europe,” said Arizona congressman Paul Gosar, one of Trump’s most loyal backers, who has been accused of ties with white nationalists.

“Vladimir Putin saw how weak President Biden has been as a world leader and took complete advantage of it. This will be yet another crisis to add to his failing resume,” added Trump-endorsed Michigan representative Lisa McClain.

READ ALSO: Putin’s Barbaric Venture Must End In Failure – Boris Johnson

As explosions rang out in Kyiv late Wednesday, Trump himself appeared on Fox News to falsely blame the invasion on the “rigged election” that ended his tenure, accusing Biden of “probably sleeping right now.”

But the former president, who has been making false accusations that the 2020 election was stolen from him since his defeat to Biden, appeared to have a poor grasp of the developments.

In a humiliating gaffe, he seemed to believe American troops had landed in Ukraine to fight Russians and started berating the US military for not keeping the phantom operation secret before he was corrected.

‘Weak and Incompetent’

US President Joe Biden speaks to the press about the situation in Ukraine, after arriving on Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, January 28, 2022. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)

Trump — who was impeached in 2019 after withholding military aid to Ukraine while pressuring it to announce a bogus corruption investigation into the Biden family — had earlier said that Putin was “playing Biden like a drum,” and praised his “genius.”

Republicans in the House of Representatives attempted to humiliate Biden on Tuesday by tweeting a picture of him walking away from the podium after he announced sanctions against Russia.

The photo caption read: “This is what weakness on the world stage looks like.”

Other leading figures in Trump’s “America First” movement and key right-wing media voices have been blaming the violence on Biden’s chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal and accusing him of prioritizing Ukraine’s defense over-tightening US border security.

Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson told viewers on Tuesday: “It may be worth asking yourself since it is getting pretty serious, what is this really about? Why do I hate Putin so much?

“Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him?”

Even the establishment Republicans, traditionally foreign policy hawks, sensed blood in the water ahead of November’s crucial midterm elections, when Biden’s Democrats are expected to suffer big defeats in Congress.

Rick Scott, who runs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, called Biden a “failure” and said the Russian incursion was the result of America’s enemies seeing a “weak and incompetent” US leader.

‘Authoritarian Bullying’ 

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via teleconference call, at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence, outside Moscow, Russia, on February 11, 2022. Alexey NIKOLSKY / Sputnik / AFP
File photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via teleconference call, at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence, outside Moscow, Russia, on February 11, 2022. Alexey NIKOLSKY / Sputnik / AFP

 

“Congress is no longer putting aside domestic rivalries in the interest of providing a strong united front externally, and this is a very bad trend,” top Democratic pollster Carly Cooperman told AFP.

“It makes us look weak, emboldens Putin, and hurts our democracy.”

The party’s moderate voices have been more circumspect.

The top Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, and Intelligence committees released a joint statement that refrained from criticizing Biden.

“Every drop of Ukrainian and Russian blood spilled in this conflict is on Putin’s hands, and his alone,” said Michael McCaul, Mike Rogers, and Mike Turner.

Former President George W. Bush focused on Putin’s “authoritarian bullying,” calling Russia’s attack “the gravest security crisis on the European continent since World War II.”

Former Republican White House nominee Mitt Romney reprised his 2012 presidential debate warning about Russia, this time blaming Biden, Trump and Obama.

“Putin’s Ukraine invasion is the first time in 80 years that a great power has moved to conquer a sovereign nation. It is without justification, without provocation, and without honor,” the Utah senator said.

AFP

‘No Way’ Russia Would Invade Ukraine If I Was Still In Power, Says Trump

A file photo of Former US President Donald Trump

 

Former US President Donald Trump boasted of his close relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, arguing that the Ukraine crisis would not have happened under his administration.

“If properly handled, there was absolutely no reason that the situation currently happening in Ukraine should have happened at all,” he said in a statement.

“I know Vladimir Putin very well, and he would have never done during the Trump administration what he is doing now, no way!”.

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Russia is facing an international backlash after Putin ordered his forces into Ukraine to secure two breakaway enclaves.

The move came with tens of thousands of Russian soldiers on Ukraine’s borders and amid warnings of an all-out invasion.

President Joe Biden imposed economic sanctions on the two enclaves, but on the question of penalties against Russia itself, a US official told reporters: “We are going to assess what Russia’s done.”

Biden will address the nation at 1:00 pm (1800 GMT) on Russia’s actions, the White House said.

But Trump, who had been largely silent on the escalating Russian threat to the US ally, criticized the “weak” response which he said did not match Russia’s actions.

“Now it has begun, oil prices are going higher and higher, and Putin is not only getting what he always wanted, but getting, because of the oil and gas surge, richer and richer,” Trump added.

Former White House Russia advisor Fiona Hill told CNN Sunday that Trump’s foreign policy had emboldened Putin.

The former president’s foreign policy, she argued, had been driven by personal concerns rather than the national interest.

“There’s no Team America for Trump. Not once did I see him do anything to put America first. Not once. Not for a single second,” said Hill, one of Trump’s most senior aides.

Ukraine found itself caught in a US domestic political firestorm when then-president Trump asked its leader to launch a spurious corruption probe into Joe Biden’s family ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Accusations that Trump tried to block military aid to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky sparked the first of two impeachments of the Republican.

Trump’s New Social Media App Begins Slow Rollout

(FILES) 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

 

Donald Trump’s new social media app started a gradual rollout late Sunday and should be “fully operational” by late March, potentially raising the former president’s profile more than a year after he was banned by major platforms.

“This week, we will begin to roll out to people on the Apple App store,” said Devin Nunes, CEO of the Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), parent company of the new app Truth Social.

The former Republican congressman was speaking Sunday on conservative Fox News.

“I think, by the end of March, we’re going to be fully operational — at least within the United States,” added Nunes, who resigned from the US House to lead the Trump group.

Trump has described Truth Social as an alternative to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, all of which banned him following the assault on the US Capitol by his supporters on January 6, 2021.

The former president has been accused of inciting his followers to use force in a bid to overturn the result of the 2020 election.

On Sunday, the App Store was allowing visitors to pre-order Truth Social starting Monday, the Presidents Day holiday in the United States.

Later Sunday, the app was reported as available to some of those who had pre-ordered.

“It’s actually very moving for me to see people that are on the platform that have had their voice canceled,” Nunes said.

 ‘The Truth Is Coming’ 

In this file photo former US President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at the White House September 27, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

 

“We want (customers) to tell us what they would like to have on the platform, which is the opposite of some Silicon Valley tech oligarch freak telling people what they want to think and deciding who can or cannot be on the platform,” he said.

Trump and his wife Melania Trump also plan on Monday to offer for sale 10,000 NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, illustrating key moments in the Trump presidency. NFTs are certified digital images that can be bought and sold.

“TRUTH is coming…” congresswoman Elise Stefanik, the third-ranking House Republican, tweeted Friday, in an allusion to the ominous “Winter is coming” catchphrase of television series “Game of Thrones.”

She posted a screen grab of her message on Truth Beta, the test version of the new site, saying, “I’m so excited to be on TRUTH!”

And Donald Trump Jr. celebrated on Twitter, posting, “Time for some Truth!!!” and including what he said was his father’s first post on Truth Social: “Get Ready! Your favorite President will see you soon!”

TMTG, asked for comment by AFP, did not immediately respond.

The group reportedly has a $1.25 billion treasure chest as it seeks a niche in a crowded conservative social-media marketplace, currently served by platforms such as Gettr, Parler and Gab.

Before being banned by Twitter, Trump had some 89 million followers there and used the platform constantly, both for presidential statements and to attack rivals.

Trump, who is 75, has hinted but never definitively said whether he will seek the presidency again.

He is currently under the shadow of multiple investigations and lawsuits, including over his tax filings and his efforts to cling to power after losing the 2020 election.

AFP

US Judge Orders Trump To Testify In New York Fraud Probe

 

(FILES) 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 US judge ruled Thursday that former president Donald Trump and his eldest children must testify under oath in New York’s civil probe into alleged fraud at his family business.

The ruling is the latest legal blow to the 75-year-old as he fights numerous cases that threaten to complicate any bid for another run at the White House in 2024.

The Trumps have repeatedly tried to shut down the investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who last month said she had uncovered “significant evidence” of fraudulent or misleading practices at the Trump Organization.

Following more than two hours of oral arguments, state judge Arthur Engoron rejected a plea by Trump, Donald Jr and Ivanka to quash subpoenas issued by James in December.

He ordered the trio to sit for depositions with James’s office within 21 days. The Trumps are expected to appeal.

Their lawyers argued that the subpoenas in the civil case were an attempt by James to grab evidence for a parallel criminal investigation into the Trump Organization that she is involved with.

They argued that James was trying to bypass a New York state law that grants immunity to witnesses that appear before a grand jury in criminal cases.

Engoron said their argument “completely misses the mark,” noting that neither the Manhattan district attorney, which is running the criminal investigation, nor James’s office have ordered the Trumps to appear before a grand jury.

In his ruling, Engoron added that the Trumps could invoke their Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves during questioning in the civil case.

He noted that Trump’s son Eric had pleaded the fifth “more than 500 times” during a deposition for James’s investigation in October 2020.

Engoron also rejected Trump’s claim that the inquiry by James, a Democrat, is politically motivated.

Following the ruling, Trump’s lawyer slammed James’s investigation as “yet another politically motivated witch-hunt,” one of the ex-leader’s favourite refrains.

“The court clearly had its mind made up and had no interest in engaging in impartial discourse on this critically important issue,” attorney Alina Habba said in a statement.

 ‘Dereliction of duty’

He ruled that the motive for the case was not “personal animus” but “sworn congressional testimony by (former Trump lawyer) Michael Cohen that the respondents were ‘cooking the books.'”

He said that for James not to have investigated the allegations or subpoenaed the Trumps would have been “a blatant dereliction of duty.”

James hailed the ruling, tweeting: “No one is above the law.”

She said in January that her civil inquiry had found that the Trump Organization fraudulently overvalued multiple assets to secure loans and then undervalued them to minimize taxes.

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

The Manhattan district attorney’s probe into possible financial crimes and insurance fraud is very similar, however.

In that case, 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 in July last year.

His trial is due to begin in the middle of this year.

At the heart of the twin, investigations are a decade’s worth of financial statements that Trump’s longtime accountants Mazar’s said last week were unreliable.

Mazar’s announced it was ending its relationship with Trump in part because of James’s findings.

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

In Washington, he has been trying to prevent a congressional probe into the January 6 attack by his supporters on the US Capitol from accessing White House records related to that day.

In further bad news for the ex-president Thursday, a congressional committee asked a government agency to terminate the lease for one of his hotels in Washington before the Trump Organization can sell it.

-AFP

Trump Sets Stage For 2024

In this file photo former US President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at the White House September 27, 2020, in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

 

He may have lost the White House and his social media megaphone but Donald Trump is reminding Americans of his ability to dominate the political conversation as he courts controversy on the comeback trail.

Surrounded by “Trump Won” flags at a rally Saturday in Texas, the loser of the 2020 election teased another run for president and dangled impunity for those who waged last year’s attack on the Capitol in a failed bid to halt the transfer of power to Joe Biden.

Trump claimed that those charged in the assault — characterized by the FBI as an act of domestic terror — were being “treated so unfairly” and vowed that “if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons.”

Perhaps attempting to reach beyond the few obscure TV channels carrying the rally live, Trump upped the ante by accusing a trio of Black prosecutors pursuing him over a panoply of alleged crimes as “racist.”

The 75-year-old property magnate urged his followers to launch “the biggest protests we have ever had” if the prosecutors “do anything wrong or illegal.”

The rally made headlines for its lawless, authoritarian tone but Trump set off bigger alarm bells the following day, repeating his false assertion that his vice president Mike Pence could have rejected Biden’s victories in a handful of crucial battleground states.

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“Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!” Trump railed, in perhaps the most explicit and self-incriminating statement yet of his intent.

Stubbornly pushing false allegations of widespread voter fraud that got him banned from Twitter and Facebook, Trump has argued all along that he was the rightful winner of the 2020 election.

But the former reality TV star’s Sunday statement rather gave the game away — making clear that his only aim was to wrestle victory back from Biden, not to resolve disputes over electoral votes.

 ‘Un-American’ 

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

 

It confirmed suspicions of bad faith raised when Trump was caught on tape trying to order a Georgia elections administrator to change its tally enough for him to win the state by a single vote.

“This is an admission, and a massively un-American statement,” outspoken Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger said of Trump’s latest outburst.

Kinzinger’s House colleague Liz Cheney, a party grandee turned pariah over her opposition to Trump, said the rally showed that Trump “clearly would do this all again if he were given the chance.”

Despite the mounting controversies, Trump remains by far the favorite for the Republican nomination in 2024 and is the party’s most successful fundraiser, with $122 million on hand.

As the Republican National Committee holds its winter meeting in the coming days in Salt Lake City, there are signs however that his iron grip is loosening.

A recent NBC poll found that 56 percent of Republicans now define themselves more as supporters of the party than of Trump.

Since he left office, several investigations — both criminal and civil, federal and state-level — have been launched into Trump’s suspected tax evasion, financial fraud, election interference, and other allegations, all of which the ex-president denies.

On Capitol Hill, the cross-party House committee investigating his role in the insurrection recently began receiving more than 700 documents from the National Archives from Trump’s time in the Oval Office.

‘Insane, Unconscionable, Unprecedented’ 

Trump sued to keep the trove secret, but the Biden administration chose not to support his privilege claims, and the courts sided with the committee.

In a bizarre signal of Trump’s disregard for convention, the Archives said some documents handed over from the White House had to be taped back together because they had been “torn up by former President Trump.”

Politico reported in 2018 that the White House employed staff whose jobs were partly to repair paper communications that Trump would routinely destroy, which is against the law.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party’s small core of lawmakers willing to call out Trump — including Kinzinger and Cheney, who are both on the Capitol assault committee — appears to be growing.

Saturday’s rally was a bridge too far even for Trump loyalist Lindsey Graham, who told CBS that talk of pardoning insurrectionists was “inappropriate” and would make a repeat of the storming of the Capitol “more likely.”

Tim Miller, the communications director for Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign, praised Kinzinger and Cheney for “saying what all of us see to be true… that this is absolutely insane, unconscionable, unprecedented.”

“The former president of the United States admitted in a statement that he wanted to overturn a free and fair democratic election to keep himself in power,” Miller told MSNBC on Monday, “that he tried to do it, that there was a plot to do it and that his only disappointment was that it didn’t work.”

AFP

New York Man Charged With Threatening To Kill Donald Trump

In this file photo former US President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at the White House on September 27, 2020, in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

 

The US Secret Service arrested a 72-year-old man in New York on Monday after he allegedly phoned them threatening to kill ex-president Donald Trump, a criminal indictment showed.

Prosecutors in Brooklyn say Thomas Welnicki “knowingly and willfully threatened to kill, kidnap, and inflict bodily harm upon” America’s former president.

It alleges that Welnicki told US Capitol Police during an interview in July 2020 that if Trump “loses the 2020 election and refused to step down” he would “acquire weapons and take him down.”

Trump is referred to as “Individual-1” in the indictment.

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Welnicki is also accused of having left two voicemail messages with the Secret Service’s office in Long Island, New York in January last year in which he “threatened to kill” Trump as well as 12 unnamed members of Congress.

“Oh yeah that’s a threat, come and arrest me. I will do anything I can to take out [Individual-1] and his 12 monkeys,” Welnicki, who lives in Queens, is alleged to have said.

Welnicki is also accused of having called the Secret Service’s desk in New York City last November three times from his cell phone, introducing himself by name each time.

“He repeatedly referred to Individual-1 as ‘Hitler’ and stated, ‘I will do everything I can to make sure [Individual-1] is dead,” reads the indictment.

In another call last month he stated that “the new Civil war could break out and taking up arms against the government is justified when ballots don’t matter.”

He added that he used to own a .22 caliber firearm, according to the indictment.

Welnicki was due to be appear in a Brooklyn federal court via videoconference later Monday to be arraigned on the charges.

AFP

Trump ‘Tried To Prevent Peaceful Transfer Of Power’ – Biden

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 during the final presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 22, 2020. JIM WATSON, Morry GASH / AFP

 

US President Joe Biden accused his predecessor Donald Trump Thursday of attempting to block the democratic transfer of power on January 6, 2021, after losing the presidential election.

“For the first time in our history, a president not just lost an election; he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol,” Biden said in a speech marking the first anniversary of the attack on the US Congress.

“This wasn’t a group of tourists. This was an armed insurrection,” he said.

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In a powerful speech at Congress’s Statuary Hall, one of the very spots where a pro-Trump mob ran amok a year ago, Biden took off the gloves after a year of largely ignoring Trump.

“The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election,” Biden said, alluding to Trump’s repeated false claim that the election was stolen from him through fraud — an assertion that many Republicans still embrace.

“He’s done so because he values power over principle because he sees his own interest as more important than his country’s interest,” Biden said.

Biden said the United States and much of the world is locked in a battle between democracy and autocracy.

“I will allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy,” Biden said at the Capitol. “I will stand in this breach. I will defend this nation.”

AFP