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Tag: trump

New York Attorney General Finds Evidence Of Fraud At Trump Family Business

New York (AFP) - New York Attorney General Letitia James said her investigation into the Trump family's business dealings had uncovered evidence suggesting the fraudulent valuing of multiple assets and misrepresentation of those values for economic benefit.

In a court filing late Tuesday, James said as the beneficial owner of the Trump Organization, former president Donald Trump "had ultimate authority over a wide swath of conduct by the Trump Organization involving misstatements to counterparties, including financial institutions, and the Internal Revenue Service."

James is seeking to question Trump and his two eldest children, Donald Trump, Jr, and Ivanka Trump, as part of her years-long civil probe.

In her filing Tuesday, the attorney general said the trio should be compelled to testify.

"Until January 2017, Ms. Trump was a primary contact for the Trump Organization's largest lender, Deutsche Bank. In connection with this work, Ms. Trump caused misleading financial statements to be submitted to Deutsche Bank and the federal government," the court document says.

It added that "Since 2017, Donald Trump, Jr. has had authority over numerous financial statements containing misleading asset valuations."

The court filing gave a detailed accounting of the alleged fraudulent valuations and misrepresentations of those values to financial institutions.

They included claiming Trump's penthouse in Manhattan's Trump Tower was three times bigger than it actually was, overestimating its value by $200 million.

The Trumps have claimed it is a politically motivated investigation and urged the court to quash subpoenas against the three.

"Thus far in our investigation, we have uncovered significant evidence that suggests Donald J. Trump and the Trump Organization falsely and fraudulently valued multiple assets and misrepresented those values to financial institutions for economic benefit," James said in a statement late Tuesday after her court filing to oppose that motion.

"The Trumps must comply with our lawful subpoenas for documents and testimony because no one in this country can pick and choose if and how the law applies to them. We will not be deterred in our efforts to continue this investigation and ensure that no one is above the law."

She launched her investigation in March 2019 and suspects that the Trump Organization fraudulently overstated the value of certain properties when seeking bank loans, and later reported much smaller values when declaring assets so it could pay less tax.

Trump's son Eric, who is executive vice president of the Trump Organization, was interviewed by James's office on the issue in October 2020.

The former president is facing pressure from several legal probes.

In Washington he is 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.

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

In July last year, 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.

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

Trump was also questioned for more than four hours in October as part of a lawsuit by a group of protestors who allege that his security guards assaulted them six years ago.

He is also battling to prevent years of his tax returns from being released to prosecutors.

DirecTV Blackout May Ruin Far-Right One America News Channel

By John Shiffman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The largest satellite provider in the United States said late Friday it will drop One America News, a move that could financially cripple the right-wing TV network known for fueling conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.

The announcement by DirecTV, which is 70 percent owned by AT&T, comes three months after a Reuters investigation revealed that OAN’s founder testified that AT&T inspired him to create the network. Court testimony also showed that OAN receives nearly all of its revenue from DirecTV.

The Reuters report drew calls from some liberal groups for AT&T and DirecTV to drop OAN, a favorite of former President Donald Trump, because the network has become a key source of false claims about the election and COVID vaccinations.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden said COVID conspiracy theories are putting lives at risk. “I make a special appeal to social media companies and media outlets: Please deal with the misinformation and disinformation that’s on your shows,” Biden said. “It has to stop.”

OAN is owned by San Diego-based Herring Networks, a family of conservative tech entrepreneurs. CEO Robert Herring Sr did not respond to requests for comment by email and phone. In an interview with Reuters last year, he said his network provided an important voice. “If I think I’m right, I just go for it,” he said.

DirecTV, with approximately 15 million subscribers, is by far OAN’s largest carrier. According to testimony by OAN’s accountant reviewed by Reuters, DirecTV provided 90 percent of the conservative network’s revenue.

“We informed Herring Networks that, following a routine internal review, we do not plan to enter into a new contract when our current agreement expires,” DirecTV said in a statement.

The OAN-DirecTV contract is set to expire in the next several months. DirecTV began airing OAN in April 2017, a deal that began shortly after OAN and AT&T settled a lawsuit over alleged oral promises during negotiations.

On Twitter, some conservatives expressed outrage that DirecTV and AT&T planned to drop OAN. “Corporate Media is crushing what little dissent remains,” tweeted former Fox News host Lou Dobbs.

The pro-Trump right, however, has powerful outlets on television and online, including Fox News, the conservative cable news outlet founded by Rupert Murdoch.

Liberals cheered the news. NAACP President Derrick Johnson called it “a victory for us and the future of democracy.” In a statement, Johnson added: “At a time when we are seeing our rights infringed upon, OAN only seeks to create further division. … We must continually choose truth over lies and common sense over hysteria.”

The news also follows a lawsuit filed on December 23 by two Georgia election workers who accused OAN and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani of spreading false vote-rigging claims about them in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election. The claims were debunked by state authorities. OAN has denied it has done anything wrong.

DirecTV did not elaborate on why it planned to drop OAN. Earlier, an AT&T spokesman said the company airs “many news channels that offer viewpoints across the political spectrum.”

The Reuters investigative report in October cited sworn statements in which OAN’s founder and his son testified that the inspiration for the conservative network came from AT&T executives.

“They told us they wanted a conservative network,” the elder Herring said during a 2019 deposition. “They only had one, which was Fox News, and they had seven others on the other [left-wing] side. When they said that, I jumped to it and built one.”

During a 2020 court proceeding, a transcript shows, an OAN lawyer told the court, “If Herring Networks, for instance, was to lose or not be renewed on DirecTV, the company would go out of business tomorrow.”

(Reporting by John Shiffman. Additional reporting by Jason Szep. Editing by Ronnie Greene)

Trump Alt Universe Social Network Expects February 21 Launch

San Francisco (AFP) - Former US president Donald Trump's media group is aiming to launch its long-promised social network in February, according to a listing at Apple's App Store.

A "Truth Social" app is "expected" to be available on February 21, the listing showed, and will have features similar to online connection tools found at Facebook.

The 75-year-old was thrown off Twitter -- his preferred communication conduit while president -- as well as Facebook and YouTube after last year's January 6 insurrection, in which a mob of Trump supporters, riled up by his repeated false claims that the November 2020 election was stolen from him, assaulted the US Capitol.

Trump says the new platform will be an alternative to Silicon Valley internet companies that he says are biased against him and other conservative voices.

The social network is currently being used by invited guests as it readies for public launch, according to Trump Media and Technology Group.

President Joe Biden on Thursday savaged Trump's "lies" and attempt to overturn the 2020 election, vowing on the first anniversary of the January 6 Capitol riot that he would let no one put a "dagger at the throat of democracy."

After largely ignoring Trump for a year, Biden took off the gloves, describing the Republican as a cheat whose ego wouldn't let him accept defeat and whose supporters almost shattered US democracy when they stormed Congress to prevent certification of the election.

Trump, who has spent the last year spreading conspiracy theories about his election loss to millions of followers, quickly fired back with a series of statements doubling down on his lie about the "rigged" election and dismissing Biden's speech as "political theater."

Truth Social will join an already crowded market of social networks popular among conservatives and members of the far-right.

Gettr was launched in early July by a former Trump adviser, while Parler and Gab are already favored by the real estate mogul's supporters.

Biden, Trump to Offer Two Very Different Addresses on Jan 6 anniversary

Washington (AFP) - A divided nation will experience an ominous split-screen moment Thursday when President Joe Biden uses the anniversary of the January 6 attack on Congress to warn of threats to US democracy and Donald Trump goes live with his conspiracy theories.

One year after a mob of Trump supporters marched on Congress to try and prevent lawmakers from certifying Biden's victory in the presidential election, political wounds remain far from healed.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will reportedly speak from inside the Capitol, the setting during the unrest of almost unbelievable scenes as Trump supporters fought past police to invade the heart of US democracy.

As a veteran politician who came out of retirement to take on what he saw as Trump's authoritarian presidency, Biden has often warned during his first year in the White House of an "existential" threat to political freedoms that until now most Americans took for granted.

His speech -- part of a series of events on what Biden's key ally, Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, says will be a "difficult day" -- is set to take that warning to a new level.

But while Congress is holding a prayer vigil for what Biden has called "a dark moment," Trump will be giving a press conference from his luxury property in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.

His message is likewise easy to predict. Despite losing by more than seven million votes to Biden, and despite losing multiple court challenges around the country, Trump continues to tout wild claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

And the accusations are only the most incendiary element of a broader attack against Biden on everything from immigration to Covid-19, all adding up to what looks very much like an as-yet undeclared bid to take back power in 2024.

It's a campaign that Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, calls "unprecedented in US history."

"No former president has attempted to do so much to discredit his successor and the democratic process," Tobias said.

What can Biden do?

However ludicrous the election conspiracy theory may be -- one federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled Trump's case "strained" and "speculative" -- it is seen as truth by millions of Americans.

Polls consistently show that around 70 percent of Republicans think Biden was elected illegitimately.

A new Washington Post-University of Maryland poll puts this number at 58 percent. However, that same poll found that 40 percent of Republicans, compared to 23 percent of Democrats, believe violence against the government is justified sometimes.

Fighting what Trump, the master brander, popularizes as "the Steal," has become a political ideology in its own right, with nearly all Republican lawmakers either squirming to avoid criticizing what happened on January 6 -- or actively defending the attack.

Lara Brown, director of the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University, said the combination of political grifters looking to get into Trump's good books and the masses of voters deluded into believing what they're told amounts to a considerable force.

"What is so frightful about where we are right now isn't just that these are elite attacks, but they are being fueled by a grass roots movement," she said.

"It wasn't just far-right win groups who had organized" on January 6, she said. "It was average, everyday Americans who had bought into this whole notion."

It's unclear what, if anything, Biden can do to change these dynamics.

Political scientist and Democratic pollster Rachel Bitecofer urged Biden to take on Trump more aggressively, rather than stick to pretending that the man Press Secretary Jen Psaki has referred to as "the former guy" no longer matters.

Biden "is not commemorating an event that ended. He is commemorating the event that is in process and threatens to get worse," she said.

"There's a real hesitancy to accept how virulent the right is in coming after democracy here."

Brown said, however, that Biden has little room for maneuver, because a direct attack on Trump risks looking like a "political witch hunt" -- exactly what the former president claims in his conspiracy theories.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the 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 and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the 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 and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

#EndorseThis: 'A Closer Look' At Trump's Pandemic Failure

Seth Meyers is still broadcasting from his attic, of course, but his producers have restored a more professional look to segments of "A Closer Look." The latest examines Trump's failure to heed repeated warnings about the looming pandemic from US intelligence officials, who tried to tell the president to do something besides play golf, watch Fox News, and post insulting tweets.

If that doesn't seem too funny, Meyers nevertheless finds a special Trumpian whiff of idiocy in the tragedy – as when the president obsessed over the mythical "war on Thanksgiving" last fall, with coronavirus on the horizon. He thinks that "novel coronavirus" was an unhelpful name, since Trump never reads a book. Maybe "Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue coronavirus" would have snapped him to attention. Or have the briefings delivered by beauty pageant contestants.

Click and chuckle.

Trump: 'I Don't Take Responsibility' For People Drinking Bleach

Donald Trump once again refused to take responsibility for his own actions, saying at a news conference on Monday that if someone died from using disinfectant it would not be his fault.

Trump's comments came after a reporter told him that some states have seen spikes in people calling poison control after using disinfectant.

Trump floated the idea on Thursday of using disinfectant — which can be deadly if ingested in any way by human beings — to cure COVID-19 disease.

"Maryland and other states, Gov. Larry Hogan specifically said, they've seen a spike in people using disinfectant after your comments last week. I know you said they were sarcastic, but do you take any responsibility if someone were to die?" a reporter asked Trump.

This is not the first time Trump has refused to take responsibility for something.

In early March, when the virus was taking hold in the United States, Trump said it was not his fault that there was a lack of testing to identify and isolate people who had the virus, which experts said could have slowed the spread.

"No, I don't take responsibility at all because we were given a set of circumstances, and we were given rules, regulations, and specifications from a different time," Trump said on March 13 about the testing shortage, appearing to try to lay blame on past administrations.

However, COVID-19 is a disease caused by a novel coronavirus — meaning the virus is new and has never been seen before. Past administrations did not make tests for this virus because it hadn't existed yet.Trump responded emphatically that it is not his fault.

"No, I don't. No, I can't imagine — I can't imagine that," Trump said, before moving on to the next question.