A court-ordered financial auditor has caught Donald Trump quietly moving $40 million from the Trump Organization into a personal bank account—seemingly so the former president could pay his whopping $29 million tax bill.
Trump isn’t supposed to be moving any money around without alerting Barbara S. Jones, a former federal judge in New York tasked with babysitting the Trump Organization for its relentlessly shady business practices. But on Wednesday, she notified a New York state court about some major bank transfers that were never brought to her attention by the Trumps.
Sen. Thom Tillis wants you to know that he’s very “reasonable.” That’s the word the North Carolina Republican used with reporters this week while describing immigration reforms that the GOP is demanding from Senate Democrats in exchange for supporting the billions in Ukraine aid that President Biden wants.
But the demands from Tillis and his fellow Republican leading the talks, Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, are not reasonable at all — they’re following Donald Trump’s playbook. Under the guise of seeking more “border security,” they’re insisting on provisions that would reduce legal immigration in numerous ways that could even undermine the goal of securing the border.
Despite losing a bid to strike from the indictment references to that day’s violence, defense attorneys have made clear their strategy involves distancing the former president from the horde of rioters, whom they describe as “independent actors at the Capitol.” At the same time, special counsel Jack Smith’s team has signaled it will make the case that Trump is responsible for the chaos that unfolded, and point to Trump’s continued support of the Jan. 6 defendants to help establish his criminal intent.
Given the current state of partisan polarization, it’s unlikely Biden can get majority job approval next year even with the most fortunate set of circumstances. But the good news for him is that he probably doesn’t have to. Job-approval ratings are crucial indicators in a normal presidential reelection cycle that is basically a referendum on the incumbent’s record. Assuming Trump is the Republican nominee, 2024 will not be a normal reelection cycle for three reasons.
Mulvaney outlined how Trump's legal woes could play out in an opinion piece published in The Hill Wednesday morning.
He described an "outlandish" scenario in which President Joe Biden offers Trump a deal if the former president is convicted. Under that agreement, Biden would pardon Trump in exchange for his dropping out of the presidential race. Biden would then end his 2024 campaign to assure Americans that the deal was not done to make his reelection chances easier.
Mulvaney predicted Trump would ultimately accept that offer. While he said the scenario is not likely to happen, he described how the former president might approach such an offer to avoid serving time in prison.
But with all the talk about the Koch Network stepping into the arena on behalf of Nikki Haley, there's been hardly a mention of another big bucks right-wing family coming off of the sidelines for Donald Trump. CNBC reported last week that according to "people familiar with the matter," Bob Mercer and his daughter Rebekah are considering getting back in the game after laying out since 2018. And they've got $88 million sitting in their private nonprofit, the Mercer Family Foundation, just waiting to be spent.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Securities and Exchange Commission v. Jarkesy to review a ruling that set aside a decision of the SEC that the hedge fund manager George Jarkesy committed fraud when he misrepresented his financial position to investors. Based on that finding, the agency barred Jarkesy and his company from certain parts of the investment business, imposed $300,000 in penalties on him, and required him to disgorge unlawful profits of nearly $685,000. What makes this case so extraordinary is not that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit concluded that the SEC’s decision was unconstitutional, but the substance of the three separate grounds it found for doing so. If the lower court ruling is upheld, it would likely make adjudications by most federal agencies (and not just the SEC) a thing of the past. Here’s why.
The legal arguments are complicated, but the consequences of the 5th Circuit’s ruling, if upheld, would be straightforwardly devastating. First, Jarkesy argues that the SEC’s decision must be vacated because the agency sought civil penalties and disgorgement of unlawful gains in an agency proceeding and not in a federal court, where he would be entitled to a jury trial under the Seventh Amendment. The result would be the demise of agency proceedings if any agency―not just the SEC―sought monetary relief except in federal court. Not all agencies have the statutory authority to bring cases in federal court, and if they wanted the right to recover money from a wrongdoer, today’s stalemated Congress would need to act (it won’t). Even agencies that currently have the right to go to court would have to choose between getting full relief in court or settling for an order stopping the unlawful conduct, which they could do in an administrative proceeding. And to the extent that agencies choose the federal court route, those courts would see a significant increase in complex litigation, with no new judges or additional resources.
Trump is asking a judge to force the special counsel’s office to turn over records from the intelligence community that he wants to use at trial for the Jan. 6 case, where he faces charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights.
What Trump wants includes reports on damage wrought by Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and threats to the 2020 election. It’s part of a series of defenses which Trump wants to raise at trial aimed at debunking a core position of Special Counsel Jack Smith: that Trump spread lies about breaches in 2020 election because he was “motivated by a desire to maintain office and undertaken with specific intent and unlawful purpose,” his attorneys wrote in the request.
...Still, the costs and consequences so far haven’t quelled election denialism in the county. An effort to recall Crosby fell short of its signature goal in May, and the former supervisor is now crowdfunding for legal help to continue his crusade. (Crosby and Judd did not respond to requests for interviews.)
The rural, red county has became a microcosm of far-right election fervor that’s featured a host of conspiracies and attempts to curtail voting access. Proponents have pushed the county to hand-count all ballots, get rid of any machines involved in the voting process, end voting by mail and vote solely on one day. They have rarely pointed to any specific claims of fraud in Cochise’s elections, but instead called out problems in other places or cited potential issues.
The Iowa caucuses are seven weeks from today. While AFP Action says it will deploy “the largest grassroots operation in the country and a presence in all fifty states” behind Haley, it’s hard to imagine her beating Trump. It feels like another exercise in political delusion: a powerful mainstream Republican force pretending Trump doesn’t control the party.
There’s also deep irony here. As the major financial and political force behind the reactionary, anti-Obama Tea Party movement, AFP helped create Trump, the man it is now trying to defeat.
According to a Tuesday letter addressed to committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.), Biden agreed to testify before the committee on Dec. 13 — as long as the hearing was public. In the letter, Biden’s attorneys quoted Comer’s own demand, issued in November, that given Biden’s “willingness to address this investigation publicly up to this point, we would expect him to be willing to testify before Congress.”
The letter added that open-door proceedings “would prevent selective leaks, manipulated transcripts, doctored exhibits, or one-sided press statements.”
Republicans would not have it. “Hunter Biden is trying to play by his own rules instead of following the rules required of everyone else,” Comer wrote in a statement. “That won’t stand with House Republicans.”
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