Tag: alina habba
Danziger Draws

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City and Vermont. He is a long time cartoonist for The Rutland Herald and is represented by Counterpoint Syndicate. He is a recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Donald Trump

Trump Offers A Laughable Excuse For Fleeing New York Court Appearance

Donald Trump had been expected to testify Monday in the defense phase of his civil fraud trial in New York City. But after his attorney Alina Habba swore that “Trump doesn’t cower,” Trump did exactly that. He backed out of his testimony at the eleventh hour.

However, after the first round of articles and commentary ran, Trump seemed to get that Florida-fried chicken suit was not the greatest look. So on Tuesday, Trump was back to repeat the excuse he had used in running away over the weekend. He wanted to testify, claimed Trump, only he couldn’t. Because the gag order put in place by Judge Arthur Engoron and upheld by an appeals court on Nov. 30 took away “my constitutional right to defend myself.” According to Trump, he is continuing to appeal this order, because it doesn’t allow him “free and honest speech.”

This is interesting because literally all the order does is prevent Trump from attacking law clerk Allison Greenfield and other members of the courtroom staff.

Here’s a brief history of Engoron’s gag order:

On Oct. 3, Engoron issued what he said could be considered “a limited gag order” barring Trump and his legal team from making statements about court staff. This came after Trump had made a series of false statements about Greenfield, including identifying her as “Chuck Schumer’s girlfriend.” The next day, Engoron made the gag order formal. Despite this, Trump was fined $5,000 on October 20 and $10,000 on October 25 for continuing to make false, defamatory statements about Greenfield. On November 3, Engoron extended the order to Trump’s legal team after Trump's attorneys repeatedly objected to Greenfield handing notes to Engoron and suggested that she was doing something illegal.

When the gag order was upheld by an appellate judge on November 16, Trump immediately attacked Greenfield again, making false claims about her political donations, calling her a “Democrat operative,” and insisting that the “politically biased and out of control, Trump-hating clerk” was controlling Engoron. Members of Trump’s campaign team followed suit, with claims that Greenfield had violated laws governing political activities by court staff and calls for Engoron to be “investigated and removed from the bench.”

Testimony before the appeals court showed that Trump’s false claims had generated hundreds of death threats to Greenfield and others. However, Trump continued the attacks even as the appeals court heard testimony. Trump took advantage of the continued hold on the gag order over the Thanksgiving holiday, as he issued a barrage of social media messages describing Engoron as a “psycho” judge and Greenfield as a “corrupt clerk.”

Finally, on November 30, the gag order was reinstated by a panel of judges in the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court. Trump almost immediately sought an urgent review before New York’s highest court. That court has not, so far, reinstated the hold.

However, the only people protected by this gag order are members of the court staff and their families. It doesn’t protect New York Attorney General Leticia James or the lawyers who have prosecuted the case in court. It doesn’t protect Judge Engoron. It doesn’t even protect Engoron’s wife, who Trump attacked with false claims about a supposed account on Twitter that posted anti-Trump memes.

Had he taken the stand on Monday, Trump could have said anything he wanted about his company and the way they valued their properties. He could have raked the prosecution team over the coals for hours. He could have screamed about Engoron and made more false claims about his wife.

The only thing that Trump could not have done due to the gag order is make statements about Greenfield and the other members of the court staff. That’s the tiny pebble behind which Trump is now seeking to hide his giant chicken-feathered butt.

And considering the way things are going, Trump might really wish he’d climbed back in the hot seat. Because on Tuesday, in what is expected to be the final day of testimony by the defense, Trump’s expert witness—accounting professor Eli Bartov—has been actively taken apart under cross-examination.

Attorney Louis Solomon trotted out information about a previous expert witness appearance by Bartov in a 2019 trial against ExxonMobil. Reading from court transcripts, Solomon said in that trial the judge ruled that Bartov’s testimony was “unpersuasive" and "flatly contradicted by the weight of the evidence." Bartov claimed he was unaware of the judge’s ruling. This is another statement that might be described as unpersuasive.

Bartov charged Trump almost $900,000 to come to court and say nice things about his accounting methods. In an all-caps statement on Monday, Trump bragged about the support of his expert witnesses, but he left those expert witnesses out of his rant on Tuesday. Which means Bartov probably shouldn’t be expecting a tip.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Trump Club Waitress: 'I Was Forced To Engage In Sex' To Keep Job

Trump Club Waitress: 'I Was Forced To Engage In Sex' To Keep Job

Alice Bianco, who worked as a server at former President Donald Trump's golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, is accusing her former boss of sexual assault, and the ex-president's attorney of making her sign an illegal non-disclosure agreement in an attempt to silence her.

Politico reports the lawsuit, which does not name Trump as a defendant, pertains to alleged sexual assault between May and July of 2021 from Bedminster Golf Club food and beverage manager Pavel Melichar. Bianco's lawsuit says Melichar at first kissed her without her consent, then forced her "to engage in sex as a quid pro quo for continued employment and ‘protection.'" After an attempted assault in July of that year, Bianco said she refused Melichar's advances, which led to him "retaliating against her," giving her "unfair job assignments and allowing his henchmen to abuse her and steal her tips."

Bianco, who was just 21 years old at the time, hired an attorney after she was contacted by the club's human resources department. That was when, according to the lawsuit, Trump attorney Alina Habba reached out to Bianco.

First, the lawsuit alleges that Habba "groomed" Bianco, "pretending to be a friend." This allegedly involved Habba sending Bianco a negative article about the attorney she hired, telling the former server to "be careful" and reminding her that she could fire her attorney at any time. This eventually resulted in Bianco dismissing her lawyer and having no legal representation. At that point, the lawsuit alleges Habba asked Bianco to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), which prevented Bianco from talking about the alleged sexual assault that took place at Bedminster. She then offered what Bianco referred to as a "paltry sum" of money in exchange for signing the NDA.

"Alina Habba used the unethical silencing of my client, Ali Bianco, as a way to propel herself into Trump’s inner circle," Nancy Erika Smith, who is currently representing Bianco, said in a public statement. "Her behavior was predatory. Pretending to be 'neutral' when acting on behalf of one party is clearly unethical."

When contacted for comment by Politico, Habba said, "I always conduct myself ethically and acted no differently in this circumstance."

Bianco isn't asking for additional monetary damages in the lawsuit, but is only asking to keep the initial settlement proceeds, for Habba's "unethical behavior" to be referred to the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics and for her legal costs to be reimbursed.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

michael cohen

Under Oath, Michael Cohen Blames Violent Dispersal Of Protesters On Trump

Michael Cohen, former President Trump’s ex-lawyer and fixer-turned-critic, testified for four hours on Monday that his former boss lied under oath and did, in fact, urge his security detail to assault peaceful protesters outside Trump Tower in September 2015.

Lawyers grilled Cohen during an acrimonious deposition about his assertions that Trump engineered an altercation outside his building on Fifth Avenue when he instructed his bodyguard, Keith Schiller, to “get rid” of demonstrators of Mexican descent holding “Make America Racist Again” cardboard signs.

Cohen, during his deposition, told lawyers that Trump had said, “Get rid of them!” The former fixer alleged he was in the room when then-President Trump ordered his corporate security goons to attack a group of protesters decrying the president’s derogatory remarks about Mexicans.

Security videotapes from Trump’s company building that could easily verify Cohen’s claims mysteriously disappeared, and the plaintiffs received just one surveillance tape, which showed Schiller marching down the lobby to fight the protesters, according to theDaily Beast.

Trump and his company have denied these allegations. In an October 2021 deposition, Trump testified under oath that he didn’t unleash his security on the protesters, or direct them to grab the signs.

Those protesters have sued Trump and his company for “wanton and malicious assaults and batteries” by Trump’s security team. According to the Daily Beast, the testimony of Cohen, a surprise witness in the lawsuit, could prove crucial in the legal squabble.

"Mr. Cohen is an eyewitness to events taking place in the Trump Organization offices and to Defendant Trump's directive to his private security personnel to 'get rid' of' [the protesters] on September 3, 2015," Benjamin Dictor, the protesters' lawyer, wrote in a court filing

After leaving the law offices across from Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal, Cohen told NBC News, “They asked me questions, and I answered them honestly and truthfully, and the truth does not benefit Donald.” Cohen’s deposition was taped in the presence of attorneys for Trump and the protesters

When journalists from Insider asked Cohen if his or Trump’s testimony will prove truthful, the former lawyer replied, “Clearly, mine.”

Jurors in the case will watch videos of both Trump and Cohen’s testimony, as well as videos of the incident at issue.

“He said, ‘Get rid of them!’ Cohen told reporters outside the venue of his deposition. “I’m shocked he let this case go as far as it did.”

Trump testified that he “didn’t know about” the violent interaction between Schiller and the protesters until the day after the incident, according to a released excerpt of the former president’s deposition, reported NBC News.

In the excerpts, when Trump was asked about his 2016 comment to “knock the crap” out of hecklers, the former president went on a bizarre tangent about his fear that people would throw fruit at him.

“Oh yeah. It was very dangerous,” Trump said. “They were going to throw fruit.”

He added, “We were told. I thought Secret Service was involved in that, actually. But we were told. And you get hit with fruit, it’s – no, it’s very violent stuff. We were on alert for that.”

“I wanted to have people be ready because we were put on alert that they were going to do fruit. And some fruit is a lot worse than – tomatoes are bad, by the way. But it’s very dangerous,” Trump said, according to the released transcript.

Alina Habba, an attorney for Trump, assured reporters that “enough courts have spoken on [Trump’s] credibility.”

Habba assailed Cohen, saying “I think it’s ironic he’s come out of the woodwork a couple of weeks before trial,” she said. “And the truth will come out. I actually look forward to spending a few hours questioning Mr. Cohen.”