Donald Trump Announces 2016 White House Bid

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Donald Trump digs in on election lies during CNN town hall event
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Jill Colvin
Published May 10, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 5 minute read

Former President Donald Trump dug in on his lies about the 2020 election during a CNN town hall Wednesday that marked his return to the network just a day after a civil jury found him liable for sexually assaulting a woman nearly three decades ago.


Trump, when pressed, repeatedly downplayed the violence on Jan. 6, 2021, the day his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a deadly insurrection, and continued to insist the election had been “rigged,” even though no evidence has ever emerged to support his claims. State and federal officials, his own staff and attorney general, and numerous courts found no evidence of mass fraud.


Trump also said he was inclined to pardon “a large portion” of Jan. 6 defendants if he wins reelection, and refused to apologize to his former vice president, Mike Pence, who was targeted by the mob.

“I don’t feel he was in any danger,” he said, adding that it was Pence, not himself, who “did something wrong.”

The prime-time forum in New Hampshire brought together a network and a candidate who have long sparred with each other. But the stakes were raised considerably Tuesday after jurors in New York found Trump had sexually abused and defamed advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, though they rejected her claim that he raped her.


The jury awarded her $5 million in damages. Trump said the ruling was “A DISGRACE” and he vowed to appeal.

While the civil trial verdict carries no criminal penalties, it nonetheless revives attention on the myriad investigations facing Trump, who was indicted in New York in March over payments made to women to cover up their allegations of extramarital affairs with him. Trump is also facing investigations in Georgia and Washington over his alleged interference in the 2020 election and his handling of classified documents and potential obstruction of justice.

A small group of anti-Trump protesters gathered Wednesday evening outside the site where the town hall was being held at Saint Anselm College in Manchester. Their signs included messages like “Nobody is above the law” and “Elections not insurrection.”


The Carroll verdict also returns a focus to questions about Trump’s treatment of women over the years that he likely will have to address from CNN host Kaitlan Collins and the audience. Carroll is one of more than a dozen women who have accused Trump of sexual assault or harassment over the years; Trump has denied the allegations.

Trump has generally not reacted well when pressed on stage about his behavior toward women, most notably during the first Republican presidential debate of 2015, when he sparred with then-Fox News host Megyn Kelly. He later said she had “blood coming out of her wherever” when she was questioning him.

Trump has a much more contentious relationship with CNN than he had with Fox at the time. Trump has called CNN “fake news” and sparred with Collins. She was once barred from a Rose Garden event after Trump’s team became upset with her shouted questions at an earlier Oval Office availability.


Nonetheless, Trump’s team saw the invitation from CNN as an opportunity to connect with a broader swath of voters than those who usually tune into the conservative outlets he favors.

“President Trump has been battle-tested and is a proven winner. He doesn’t shy away from anything and faces them head on,” said Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung.

The appearance will also serve as yet another contrast with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is seen as a top rival to Trump for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024 and is expected to launch his campaign in the coming weeks. DeSantis has taken a sheltered media approach, largely eschewing questions from the mainstream press while embracing Fox News, which was once a loyal Trump cheerleader but is now frequently denigrated by the former president.


Trump’s campaign has turned to new channels, including popular conservative podcasts and made-for-social-media videos that often rack up hundreds of thousands of views. His team has also been inviting reporters from a variety of outlets to ride aboard his plane and has been arranging unadvertised stops at local restaurants and other venues to show him interacting with supporters, in contrast to the less charismatic DeSantis.

It remains unclear how or whether Tuesday’s verdict will have any impact on the race. Trump’s indictment in New York only seemed to improve his standing in the GOP primary and his campaign was fundraising off the verdict.

Trump’s rivals weighed in on the verdict, with some hitting him harder than others.


Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson called the accusations “another example of the indefensible behavior of Donald Trump.” Tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy came to Trump’s defense and said he doubted a case would have even been brought if the defendant had been someone other than Trump.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a former ally who is now weighing a run as a Trump antagonist, said Trump’s insistence that he had no idea who Carroll was “ridiculous.”

“This kind of conduct is unacceptable for somebody that we call a leader,” Christie told Brian Kilmeade on Fox News radio. “Do I think this is a silver bullet that ends Donald Trump’s candidacy? No. I just think it’s additional weight of evidence that people are going to look at.”


Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is expected to launch a campaign in the coming weeks, told NBC he doesn’t believe voters will pay much attention to the verdict.

“It’s just one more story, focusing on my former running mate, that I know is a great fascination to members of the national media but I just don’t think it’s where the American people are focused,” Pence said. He said he had “never heard or witnessed behavior of that nature” while he was serving under Trump.

The CNN town hall, the first major television event of the 2024 presidential campaign, already had drawn suspicion from both sides of the political divide.

Democrats questioned whether a man who continues to spread lies about his 2020 election loss — lies that sparked the Capitol riot —- should be given a prime-time platform. Conservatives wondered why Trump would appear on — and potentially give a ratings bump to — a network that he has continually disparaged.

“They made me a deal I couldn’t refuse!!!” Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social. “Could be the beginning of a New & Vibrant CNN, with no more Fake News, or it could turn into a disaster for all, including me. Let’s see what happens? Wednesday Night at 8:00!!!”

He repeated the message in a video Wednesday.
 

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Man who dangled from Senate balcony during Capitol riot gets 15-month sentence
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Michael Kunzelman And Alanna Durkin Richer
Published May 10, 2023 • 3 minute read

An Idaho man who traveled to Washington in a car loaded with weapons and was photographed dangling from the Senate balcony during the Capitol riot was sentenced Wednesday to 15 months in prison.


Josiah Colt, one of the first rioters to reach the Senate floor on Jan. 6, 2021, later pleaded guilty that year to obstructing Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s White House victory.


Also Wednesday, a man who accompanied Colt to the District of Columbia in a rental car with two pistols, knives, a stun gun, body armor and other gear was sentenced to about three years in prison, according to court records. Las Vegas resident Nathaniel DeGrave, who also entered the Senate gallery, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and assault charges last year.

Both men had agreed to cooperate with investigators as part of their plea deals.

Prosecutors say Colt, DeGrave and a third man, Ronald Sandlin, came to Washington prepared for violence and were intent on stopping lawmakers from certifying the results of the 2020 election as they joined the angry mob of then-President Donald Trump supporters in storming the Capitol.


On Dec. 31, 2020, the men had discussed in a Facebook chat a plan for “shipping guns” to Sandlin’s home in Tennessee. Days later, Sandlin posted on social media a photo of Colt, who was lying in bed with his eyes closed and holding a handgun, with the caption: “My fellow patriot Josiah Colt sleeping ready for the boogaloo Jan 6th.” Boogaloo is a term some extremists use to refer to a second civil war. Colt replied to the post, “Ready for any battle,” followed by a laughing emoji.

Colt, a 34-year-old from Meridian, Idaho, brought his pistol to a rally the day before the riot, but decided to leave it at a hotel on the morning of Jan. 6, authorities said. The three men watched on TV as Trump told his supporters in a speech before the riot to “fight like hell” or they were “not going to have a country anymore.”


After the riot erupted, the men entered the Capitol through the Upper West Terrace doors. They went to a hallway outside the Senate gallery, where Sandlin led a charge against police officers as Colt entered, according to prosecutors.

Colt shouted, “This is our House! This is our country! This is for the people!” before he jumped to the Senate floor. Sitting in a chair reserved for then-Vice President Mike Pence, as president of the Senate, Colt raised his fist as rioters cheered him on, prosecutors said. Colt opened a door and allowed dozens of other rioters to join him.

DeGrave, who carried a can of bear spray in his pocket, called on others on the Senate floor to “take laptops, paperwork, take everything,” according to court papers


Sandlin, of Millington, Tennessee, was sentenced in December to five years and three months in prison after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy and assault charges.

Colt’s lawyers said in a court filing that Colt “is a good person who made a series of very bad choices based on misinformation and the emotional oratory of a demagogue.”

Prosecutors accused DeGrave of trying to capitalize on his participation in the attack by selling video footage of the riot to media outlets.

“He has even profited off of his unlawful conduct on January 6 since being incarcerated — to the tune of over $120,000 — by seeking donations on crowd-funding websites claiming that he is a ‘political prisoner’ of a ‘corrupt Biden regime,”‘ prosecutors wrote.


DeGrave’s lawyer said in court papers that DeGrave regrets “allowing himself to be drawn into the world of those claiming ‘political persecution’ as a result of their actions on January 6.”

“Nathaniel recognizes the intellectual dishonesty of admitting the criminality of his own conduct on January 6 on the one hand, and complaining about unfair treatment by the criminal justice system on the other,” defense lawyer William Shipley added.

More than 1,000 people have been charged with Capitol riot-related federal crimes. Nearly 500 of them have been sentenced, with more than half receiving terms of imprisonment ranging from seven days to 14 years and two months.
 

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CNN faces backlash over chaotic Donald Trump town hall event
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Alexandra Olson And David Bauder
Published May 11, 2023 • 4 minute read

NEW YORK — CNN is facing a backlash over its town hall featuring former President Donald Trump, an event that swiftly turned chaotic in a stark display of the tightrope facing journalists covering a leading 2024 Republican candidate who refuses to play by the rules.


The town hall Wednesday was the first major television event of the 2024 presidential campaign, and CNN defended its decision to hold it as a chance to put Trump in front of a wider audience, outside of the conservative media bubble he has largely kept to since early in his presidency.


Critics said the event, which was staged in front of Republicans and unaffiliated voters who were expected to vote in the GOP primary, instead turned into a Trump campaign rally and allowed him to repeat longstanding falsehoods while dodging difficult questions

Tom Jones, a senior writer at the media research institute Poynter, said he had favored the idea of CNN holding the town hall at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire. But he said he was surprised by the conduct of the audience, which he had expected to be more neutral.


Instead, the crowd gave Trump a standing ovation when he walked onstage, applauded some of his most provocative comments and laughed at many of his quips, including when he criticized E. Jean Carroll, the advice columnist who accused him of raping her in 1996 and this week won a $5 million judgment against him.

Jones said the atmosphere put CNN’s moderator, Kaitlan Collins, in an almost impossible position as she tried to elicit straightforward answers from Trump and fact-check his comments about the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by his supporters and the 2020 election, which he still falsely insists he won.

“Whenever she might have had him cornered, he was built up by the audience,” Jones said. “It just emboldened him. He realized, ‘I can do or say anything I want,’ and she got steamrolled at that point through no fault of her own. It was her against the entire room.”


The event was indicative of the new era of leadership at CNN and management’s efforts to lure back viewers who turned to Fox News and other conservative outlets over the past decade.

At a Thursday morning meeting at CNN, Chairman and CEO Chris Licht praised Collins’ “masterful performance,” saying she asked tough questions in difficult circumstances.

“If someone was going to ask tough questions and have that messy conversation, that damn well should be on CNN,” he said in a recording of the meeting obtained by The Associated Press.

He also defended the decision to hold the town hall before a Trump-friendly crowd.

“While we all may have been uncomfortable hearing people clapping, that was also an important part of the story, because the people in that audience represent a large swath of America,” Licht said. “And the mistake the media made in the past is ignoring that those people exist. Just like you cannot ignore that President Trump exists.”


The event did widen CNN’s audience, at least for a night. Nielson said the town hall averaged 3.3 million viewers, compared to the 707,000 who tuned in to CNN during the same time slot a night earlier.

But Jones said he was skeptical that the town hall would help CNN’s reputation in the long term, given the backlash. He noted that most of the network’s post-event commentary was highly critical of Trump, likely alienating conservative viewers who had tuned in just to watch the former president.

Nick Arama, a writer for the conservative website RedState.com, criticized CNN’s Gary Tuchman, who spoke with some of the audience members after Trump’s appearance, saying “he didn’t act as much like a moderator trying to get their opinion as a Democratic propagandist trying to impose his own opinion on them.”


Meanwhile, critics from the left were unsparing, saying CNN should have predicted how chaotic the event would be.

“CNN should be ashamed of themselves. They have lost total control of this ‘town hall’ to again be manipulated into platforming election disinformation, defenses of Jan. 6th and a public attack on a sexual abuse victim. The audience is cheering him on and laughing at the host,” Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York, wrote in a tweet.

Frank Sesno, a former CNN Washington bureau chief now at George Washington University, said the event was a harbinger of the difficult coverage decisions “every news organization needs to wrestle with because Donald Trump is not a normal candidate.”


“You can’t ignore him, but you can’t give him carte blanche either,” he said.

A one-on-one interview would have been preferable, though whether Trump would have agreed to that is a different question, said Sesno, who added that he saw value in allowing Trump to speak to a broader audience, including many people who might have mostly tuned him out in recent years.

Sesno noted that although Trump supporters delighted in his performance, Republican critics, including New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, seized on it to to press their concerns about the former president’s ability to win a national election.

“As chaotic and weird as the event was, I as a journalist think it’s important for people to see this,” he said.
 

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Trump appealing jury's sexual abuse verdict and $5 million award
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Larry Neumeister
Published May 11, 2023 • 3 minute read

NEW YORK — Former President Donald Trump is appealing a New York jury’s verdict awarding $5 million to a magazine columnist after the jurors concluded Trump had sexually abused her in the 1990s and defamed her last October.


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A notice of appeal was filed Thursday in Manhattan federal court, the first step in a process that will move the civil case brought against Trump by writer E. Jean Carroll to a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.


The notice was signed by Trump attorney Joe Tacopina, who said after Tuesday’s verdict that he believed there were multiple strong grounds for appeal.

The nine-person jury concluded after less than three hours of deliberations that Carroll had failed to prove it was more likely than not that Trump had raped her in the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman store in early spring 1996. But it did find that she had been sexually abused.

It also said in its verdict that Trump defamed Carroll in a social media statement last October.


Carroll sued Trump in November minutes after a temporary New York state law took effect allowing sexual attack victims to sue their abusers even if the abuse occurred decades earlier.

In the notice of appeal filed in the lower court Thursday where Judge Lewis A. Kaplan presided over the trial, Trump’s lawyers wrote that “notice is hereby given that Defendant Donald J. Trump appeals” to the 2nd Circuit.


Asked for comment, Tacopina said in an email: “Judge Kaplan has been overturned once already in Carroll v. Trump. We are confident it will be twice after this appeal is heard.”

He was referencing Kaplan’s rejection of an attempt to substitute the United States for Trump as the defendant in an earlier defamation lawsuit filed by Carroll for statements Trump made while he was president. The 2nd Circuit later ruled that Trump was an employee of the government for purposes of the lawsuit, but the appeal has not been fully resolved.


A lawyer for Carroll did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

The verdict was returned after a two-week trial in which Carroll testified that Trump sexually attacked her in the luxury department store’s dressing room after a lighthearted and flirtatious chance encounter that took them from the store’s entrance to the desolate sixth floor lingerie area, where Trump invited Carroll to help him shop for a gift.

She first publicly disclosed her experience in a 2019 memoir while Trump was still president. She said his public response was so harsh that it spoiled her reputation, cost her a 27-year job with Elle magazine and subjected her to mean social media attacks from his followers.

Trump, who is currently running for president as a Republican, did not attend the trial. He said he didn’t know Carroll, that he never encountered her at the department store, and he has repeatedly hurled insults at her, including at a videotaped deposition in October. Portions of that were played for the jury.

He repeated some of his harsh statements during a CNN town hall on Wednesday night.

Outside the courthouse on Tuesday, Tacopina said that he and Trump were “very confident on the appellate issues here.”

He said one of the issues to be appealed was the inclusion in the trial of the notorious 2005 “Access Hollywood” video in which Trump was captured on a hot mic speaking disparagingly about women and saying that celebrities can grab women sexually without asking because women let them do it.

“There were things that happened in this case that were beyond the pale,” Tacopina said.
 

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Woman sues Rudy Giuliani, saying he coerced her into sex, owes her $2 million in unpaid wages
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Michael R. Sisak
Published May 15, 2023 • 2 minute read

NEW YORK — A woman who says she worked as an off-the-books employee for Rudy Giuliani during his stint as Donald Trump’s personal lawyer alleges in court papers that the former New York City mayor coerced her into sex and owes her nearly $2 million in unpaid wages.


Noelle Dunphy said in the lawsuit that she was Giuliani’s business development director and public relations consultant from 2019 to 2021. She initially made her allegations public in January, but she detailed her claims further in a 70-page legal complaint filed Monday in New York.


Giuliani “vehemently” denied the allegations through a spokesperson. His lawyer had also previously denied that Dunphy ever worked for Giuliani.

“Mayor Giuliani’s lifetime of public service speaks for itself, and he will pursue all available remedies and counterclaims,” said Giuliani’s communications adviser, Ted Goodman.

The new court filing portrays Giuliani, 78, as a hard-drinking, Viagra-popping womanizer who made satisfying his sexual demands “an absolute requirement of her employment.” She is seeking at least $10 million.


Dunphy claimed in the lawsuit to have made numerous audio recordings of Giuliani, including some in which she says he can be heard making sexual comments, demanding sex and making sexist, racist, and anti-Semitic remarks.

Dunphy’s legal team declined a request from The Associated Press to share those recordings, saying they were part of the litigation.

Included in the complaint are screenshots of suggestive text messages purportedly from Giuliani.

The lawsuit claims Giuliani hired Dunphy in January 2019 and promised to pay her $1 million per year for her consulting work. But he told her that he had to defer paying her until he settled his divorce from his third wife, Judith, according to the lawsuit.

Almost immediately, according to the complaint, Giuliani started making sexual advances, including kissing her in the back of an SUV on her first day and demanding that she take care of him sexually, sometimes while he was on the phone with high-profile friends and clients.


Often, Dunphy alleges, Giuliani would demand she work in a bikini or in American flag-themed shorts he bought for her, and he urged her to strip naked for him during video meetings.

Giuliani reached a divorce settlement in December 2019, but Dunphy said all she got from Giuliani were a few cash payments totaling $12,000 to cover living expenses. He still owes her $1,988,000, she said.

Dunphy also contended that Giuliani had reneged on a promise to represent her, for free, in a protracted legal fight involving claims of domestic violence.

In that legal fight, Dunphy had accused a romantic partner of raping her and throwing her down a flight of stairs. The man she sued filed a counter lawsuit, saying he was the one being physically assaulted and harassed. He also sued for defamation, saying he was being extorted.

Dunphy agreed to accept $10,000 to settle her claims in 2016. But the two sides were still fighting over a final resolution as recently as last year.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual abuse unless they grant permission, as Dunphy has done.
 

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Prosecutor ends probe of FBI's Trump-Russia investigation with harsh criticism, but no new charges
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Eric Tucker And Lindsay Whitehurst
Published May 15, 2023 • 5 minute read

WASHINGTON — A special prosecutor found that the FBI rushed into its investigation of ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and relied too much on raw and unconfirmed intelligence as he concluded a four-year probe that fell far short of the former president’s prediction that the “crime of the century” would be uncovered.


The report Monday from special counsel John Durham represents the long-awaited culmination of an investigation that Trump and allies had claimed would expose massive wrongdoing by law enforcement and intelligence officials. Instead, Durham’s investigation delivered underwhelming results, with prosecutors securing a guilty plea from a little-known FBI employee but losing the only two criminal cases they took to trial.


The roughly 300-page report catalogs what Durham says were a series of missteps by the FBI and Justice Department as investigators undertook a politically explosive probe in the heat of the 2016 election into whether the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia to tip the outcome. It criticized the FBI for opening a full-fledged investigation based on “raw, unanalyzed and uncorroborated intelligence,” saying the speed at which it did so was a departure from the norm. And it said investigators repeatedly relied on “confirmation bias,” ignoring or rationalizing away evidence that undercut their premise of a Trump-Russia conspiracy as they pushed the probe forward.


“Based on the review of Crossfire Hurricane and related intelligence activities, we conclude that the Department and the FBI failed to uphold their important mission of strict fidelity to the law in connection with certain events and activities described in this report,” the document states.

The impact of Durham’s report, though harshly critical of the FBI, is likely blunted by Durham’s spotty prosecution record and by the fact that many of the episodes it cites were already examined in depth by th e Justice Department’s inspector general. The FBI has also long since announced dozens of corrective actions. The bureau outlined those changes in a letter to Durham on Monday, including steps meant to ensure the accuracy of secretive surveillance applications to eavesdrop on suspected terrorists and spies.


“Had those reforms been in place in 2016, the missteps identified in the report could have been prevented. This report reinforces the importance of ensuring the FBI continues to do its work with the rigor, objectivity, and professionalism the American people deserve and rightly expect,” the FBI said in a statement. It also stressed that the report focused on the FBI’s prior leadership, before current Director Christopher Wray took the job in 2017.

Still, Durham’s findings are likely to amplify scrutiny of the FBI at a time when Trump is again seeking the White House as well as offer fresh fodder for congressional Republicans who have launched their own investigation into the purported “weaponization” of the FBI and Justice Department. After the report was released, Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan said he had invited Durham to testify next week.


Trump, on his Truth Social platform, claimed anew that the report showed the “crime of the century” and referred to the Russia investigation as a “Democrat Hoax.”

Durham, the former U.S. Attorney in Connecticut, was appointed in 2019 by Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, soon after special counsel Robert Mueller had completed his investigation into whether the 2016 Trump campaign had colluded with Russia to move the outcome of the election in his favour.

The Mueller investigation resulted in roughly three dozen criminal charges, including convictions of a half-dozen Trump associates, and determined that Russia intervened on the Trump campaign’s behalf and that the campaign welcomed the help. But Mueller’s team did not find that they actually conspired to sway the election, creating an opening for critics of the probe — including Barr himself — to assert that it had been launched without a proper basis.


Revelations over the following months laid bare flaws with the investigation, including errors and omissions in Justice Department applications to eavesdrop on a former Trump campaign aide, Carter Page, as well as the reliance by the FBI on a dossier of uncorroborated or discredited information compiled by an British ex-spy, Christopher Steele.

Durham’s team delved deep into those mistakes, finding that investigators opened the investigation hastily, without doing key interviews or a significant review of intelligence databases. The report says the FBI, at the time the investigation was opened, had no information that any Trump campaign officials had been in touch with any Russian intelligence officials.


The original Russia investigation was opened in July 2016 after the FBI learned from an Australian diplomat that a Trump campaign associate named George Papadopoulos had claimed to know of “dirt” that the Russians had on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of hacked emails.

But the report faults the FBI for not having done important legwork before opening the investigation.

It also said the FBI did not corroborate a “single substantive allegation” in the so-called Steele dossier and ignored or rationalized what it asserts was exculpatory information that Trump associates had provided to FBI confidential informants. That includes, the report said, minimizing the importance of a conversation in which Papadopoulos strenuously denied to the FBI informant that he had any knowledge of ties between the campaign and Russia.


“An objective and honest assessment of these strands of information should have caused the FBI to question not only the predication for Crossfire Hurricane, but also to reflect on whether the FBI was being manipulated for political or other purposes,” the report said. “Unfortunately, it did not. ”

Durham’s mandate was to scrutinize government decisions, and identify possible misconduct, in the early days of the Trump-Russia probe. His appointment was cheered by Trump, who in a 2019 interview with Fox News said Durham was “supposed to be the smartest and the best.” He and his supporters hoped it would expose a “deep state” conspiracy within the top echelons of the FBI and other agencies to derail Trump’s presidency and candidacy.


Durham and his team cast a broad net, interviewing top officials at the FBI, Justice Department and CIA in an investigation that ultimately cost more than $6.5 million. In his first year on the job, he traveled with Barr to Italy to meet with government officials as Trump himself asked the Australian prime minister and other leaders to help with the probe.

Weeks before his December 2020 resignation as attorney general, Barr appointed Durham as a Justice Department special counsel to ensure that he would continue his work in a Democratic administration.

The slow pace of the probe irked Trump, who berated Barr before he left office about the whereabouts of the report. By the end of the Trump administration, only one criminal case had been brought, while the abrupt departure of Durham’s top deputy in the final months of Trump’s tenure raised questions about whether the team was in sync.

Despite expectations that Durham might charge senior government officials, his team produced only three prosecutions. A former FBI lawyer pleaded guilty to altering an email the FBI relied on in applying to eavesdrop on an ex-Trump campaign aide. Two other defendants — a lawyer for the Clinton campaign and a Russian-American think tank analyst — were both acquitted on charges of lying to the FBI.
 

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A 'seriously flawed' Russia investigation and its lasting impact on the FBI
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Eric Tucker And Nomaan Merchant
Published May 17, 2023 • 5 minute read

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bungled applications to eavesdrop on a former aide of then-candidate Donald Trump. Flawed research by a former British spy tasked with a sensitive, and political, assignment. And an FBI scrambling against the election-season clock to untangle suspicions about foreign government collusion that it feared could have grave national security implications.


A 306-page report by Justice Department special counsel John Durham is refocusing negative attention on one of the most politically significant investigations in FBI history: the probe into whether Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign was conspiring with Russia to tip the outcome of the election.


The findings aren’t flattering for the FBI, with Durham asserting that it rushed into the investigation without an adequate basis and routinely ignored or rationalized evidence that undercut its premise. The report catalogs a series of errors — though many were already documented years ago by a separate Justice Department inspector general report, and the FBI says it’s taken several dozen corrective steps on its own.


A look at some of the major findings of the Durham report.

A ‘SERIOUSLY FLAWED’ INVESTIGATION
The report devotes considerable space to the FBI’s decision to open, on July 31, 2016, an investigation into possible criminal collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The probe was initiated after it learned from an Australian diplomat that a Trump campaign associate named George Papadopoulos had claimed to know that Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of emails. By that point, it was well known that Russian operatives had hacked Democratic emails, and Trump had even appeared to publicly invite Moscow to go looking for Clinton’s communications.

But, according to Durham, the FBI rushed into the probe without having any evidence that anyone from the Trump campaign had had any contact with any Russian intelligence officers. It identifies by name the Russia experts in the FBI and other agencies who were never consulted before the investigation was begun and says that had they been, they would have said there was no information pointing to a conspiracy between Russia and the campaign.


The report contends that the FBI fell prone to “confirmation bias,” repeatedly ignoring, minimizing or rationalizing away evidence that undercut the premise of collusion, including a conversation in which Papadopoulos vigorously denied knowing about any cooperative relationship between Russia and the Trump campaign.

It also says investigators did not corroborate a “single substantive allegation” in a dossier of Democratic-funded research that was compiled by a former British spy, Christopher Steele, and yet continued to cite it in applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to eavesdrop on a former Trump campaign aide, Carter Page.

BUT DID IT UNCOVER ‘THE CRIME OF THE CENTURY’ AS TRUMP PREDICTED?

No, it did not. Despite identifying abundant errors, the report and the broader investigation failed to live up to Trump’s hype. The former president claimed that it would reveal the “crime of the century” and expose a “deep state conspiracy” by high-ranking government officials to derail his candidacy and later his presidency.

But the report yielded only one conviction — a guilty plea from a little-known FBI employee — and the only two other cases that were brought both ended in acquittals at trial. And though Durham accused the FBI of confirmation bias, he did not allege that political bias or partisanship were guiding factors for the FBI’s actions.

‘RIGOR, OBJECTIVITY AND PROFESSIONALISM’
The FBI responded to criticism of its actions by noting that the conduct occurred under different FBI leadership, months before current Director Christopher Wray took the top job. It also said it had already taken dozens of corrective measures designed to prevent the same problems from recurring.


Those include steps designed to ensure the accuracy of applications the FBI files with the secretive surveillance court when it wants to eavesdrop on the communications of suspected spies and terrorists. For instance, the FBI said, agents must now provide more information, including identifying and disclosing evidence that might undercut their premise that probable cause exists for surveillance. In addition, the FBI has worked to improve oversight of confidential human sources.

The FBI said in a letter to Durham that it was confident that had those steps been in place in 2016, the “failures detailed in your Report never would have happened.” In a separate statement, it said the report “reinforces the importance of ensuring the FBI continues to do its work with the rigor, objectivity, and professionalism the American people deserve and rightly expect.”


WAS THE CLINTON CAMPAIGN TREATED DIFFERENTLY?
Yes, Durham argues. He notes that the FBI in 2016 also investigated allegations in the book “Clinton Cash,” authored by a conservative writer who alleged foreign governments were funneling money to the Clinton Foundation in exchange for access. Both Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, and former President Bill Clinton have long denied any wrongdoing.

The FBI labeled its reviews linked to “Clinton Cash” as “preliminary investigations,” Durham said. But the Trump Russia probe, he said, “was immediately opened as a full investigation despite the fact that it was similarly predicated on unvetted hearsay information.”

He argues the FBI showed caution about possibly influencing Hillary Clinton’s campaign that it did not show for Trump’s campaign.


To underscore his point, he quotes some of the text messages between former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, whose privately expressed dislike for Trump has long been cited as evidence of bias.

“One more thing: (Clinton) may be our next president,” Page is said to have written Strzok. “The last thing you need (is) going in there loaded for bear. You think she’s going to remember or care that it was more doj than fbi?”

AN UPHILL CLIMB IN CONGRESS GETS STEEPER
The Durham report is another blow to the FBI as it’s trying to persuade Congress that it is a responsible steward of intelligence.

Lawmakers are beginning to debate whether to renew a U.S. surveillance program that captures huge swaths of foreigners’ emails and phone calls. The program authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act expires at the end of this year.


The Durham report calls attention to mistakes that Republicans have already cited as reasons for overhauling Section 702. The FBI did not use Section 702 in surveilling Page. But its omissions before the primary surveillance court have long rankled Republicans, who have signaled they won’t renew Section 702 without changes targeting the FBI.

“It is essential that Congress codifies clear guardrails that prevent future FBI abuses and restores the public’s trust in our law enforcement institutions,” said Rep. Mike Turner, the Ohio Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, in a statement.

A significant number of Democrats, meanwhile, separately want limits on when the FBI can search foreign surveillance data collected under Section 702.
 

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Rudy Giuliani sued for defamation by supermarket employee he accused of assault
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Jake Offenhartz
Published May 17, 2023 • 2 minute read

NEW YORK — A man who spent a night in jail for smacking Rudy Giuliani on the back and calling him a “scumbag” is suing him and several New York City police officers for false arrest and defamation.


Daniel Gill brought the federal lawsuit in Manhattan court on Wednesday, accusing Giuliani of spinning a tale of political violence from an act of harmless heckling. He says members of the NYPD went along with the deception despite video clearly disproving the account.


The lawsuit is the second filed this week against Giuliani. On Monday, a woman who said she previously worked for Giuliani filed a lawsuit in New York accusing him of coercing her into sex and withholding nearly $2 million in unpaid wages. Giuliani “vehemently” denied the allegations through a spokesperson.

Giuliani made headlines last June after claiming he was attacked by a supermarket employee in Staten Island during a campaign stop for his son, Andrew, who was running for New York governor.


He said an irate man accused him of wanting to kill women, then hit him in the back so hard he felt “like somebody shot me.” Gill, who had no criminal record, was arrested on charges of felony assault.

Surveillance video of the incident soon appeared to undercut Giuliani’s story. It showed Gill briskly walking by Giuliani and smacking him lightly on the back with an open palm. Giuliani appeared unfazed by the incident.

Body-camera footage obtained by Gill’s attorney also shows Giuliani acknowledging to officers that he didn’t suffer any injuries. He urged them to make an arrest anyway, citing his own experience as the former mayor of New York City.

“I need a police car to put him in handcuffs and arrest him and put him in jail, which is what I would’ve done if I was mayor, and that’s why you had no crime when I was mayor, and that’s why we’re one of the most crime-ridden cities in America now,” Giuliani said, while sitting in the back of a campaign van.


“The next guy he hits may not be as big and healthy as me, and he may knock him to the ground and kill him,” he continued.

Gill spent 21 hours in jail following his arrest. The charges were later downgraded to a misdemeanor, then ultimately dismissed.

Ted Goodman, a communications advisor to Giuliani, said the lawsuit should be dismissed because police made their own decision to arrest Gill.

“An unbiased observer will see this meritless complaint as absurd–with its extraneous political hyperbole, like in paragraph 22 when the attorney felt it (necessary) to refer to the specific area of Staten Island as a ‘bastion of white conservatism and Trump support,’ ” Goodman said in a statement.

An attorney for Gill, Ron Kuby, said his client faced a barrage of death threats following the incident and lost his long-time job at the supermarket.

“Giuliani’s capacity for punching down, attacking people who are poor or working class, it’s astonishing,” Kuby said. “He’s just a bully.”

The lawsuit demands $2 million in damages. In addition to Giuliani, it names four members of the NYPD and the city of New York.

A spokesperson for the NYPD deferred comment to the city’s Law Department, which said it will review the case.
 

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Police officer charged with lying about leaks to Proud Boys leader
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Michael Kunzelman, Lindsay Whitehurst And Alanna Durkin Richer
Published May 19, 2023 • 4 minute read

A Washington, D.C. police officer was arrested Friday on charges that he lied about leaking confidential information to Proud Boys extremist group leader Enrique Tarrio and obstructed an investigation after group members destroyed a Black Lives Matter banner in the nation’s capital.


An indictment alleges that Metropolitan Police Department Lt. Shane Lamond, 47, of Stafford, Virginia, warned Tarrio, then national chairman of the far-right group, that law enforcement had an arrest warrant for him related to the banner’s destruction.


Tarrio was arrested in Washington two days before Proud Boys members joined the mob in storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Earlier this month, Tarrio and three other leaders were convicted of seditious conspiracy charges for what prosecutors said was a plot to keep then-President Donald Trump in the White House after he lost the 2020 election.

A federal grand jury in Washington indicted Lamond on one count of obstruction of justice and three counts of making false statements.


The indictment accuses Lamond of lying to and misleading federal investigators when they questioned him in June 2021 about his contacts with Tarrio.

Lamond is scheduled to make his initial court appearance on Friday. He was placed on administrative leave by the police force in February 2022.

Lamond, who supervised the intelligence branch of the police department’s Homeland Security Bureau, was responsible for monitoring groups like the Proud Boys when they came to Washington.

His attorney, Mark Schamel, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.

Schamel has previously said that Lamond’s job was to communicate with a variety of groups protesting in Washington, and his conduct with Tarrio was never inappropriate. His lawyer told The Associated Press in December that Lamond is a “decorated veteran” of the police department and “doesn’t share any of the indefensible positions” of extremist groups.


The Metropolitan Police Department said Friday that it would do an internal review after the federal case against Lamond is resolved.

“We understand this matter sparks a range of emotions, and believe the allegations of this member’s actions are not consistent of our values and our commitment to the community,” the department said in a statement.

Lamond’s name repeatedly came up in the Capitol riot trial of Tarrio and other Proud Boys leaders. Tarrio’s defense sought to use messages showing that Tarrio was informing Lamond of the Proud Boys plans in Washington in order to support Tarrio’s claims that he was looking to avoid violence, not create it.

Text messages introduced at Tarrio’s trial appeared to show a close rapport between the two men, with Lamond frequently greeting the extremist group leader with the words “hey brother.”


Tarrio’s lawyers had wanted to call Lamond as a witness, but were stymied by the investigation into Lamond’s conduct and his lawyer’s contention that Lamond would claim Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The defense accused the Justice Department of trying to bully Lamond into keeping quiet because his testimony would hurt their case — a charge prosecutors vehemently denied.

The indictment is the latest sign the Justice Department is moving forward in cases against people whose alleged conduct was uncovered in the massive Jan. 6 investigation, beyond the rioters themselves. More than 1,000 people have been charged with participating in the attack on the Capitol, but investigators have also been examining broader efforts by Trump and his allies to undermine the 2020 election.


Prosecutors say Lamond and Tarrio communicated at least 500 times across several platforms about things like the Proud Boys’ planned activities in Washington over a roughly year and a half.

Tarrio is expected to be sentenced in August. His lawyer, Nayib Hassan, declined to comment Friday on Lamond’s indictment, but said he was “shocked and disgusted” that the government used information in the case against Lamond that Tarrio’s defense was not allowed to show jurors at trial.

Lamond began using the Telegram messaging platform to give Tarrio information about law enforcement activity around July 2020, about a year after they started talking, according to prosecutors. By November of that year, he was talking about meeting Tarrio during a night out.


In December 2020, Lamond told Tarrio about where competing antifascist activists were expected to be. Lamond, whose job entailed sharing what he learned with others in the department, asked Tarrio whether he should share the information Tarrio gave him about Proud Boys activities, prosecutors said.

Jurors who convicted Tarrio heard testimony that Lamond frequently provided the Proud Boys leader with internal information about law enforcement operations in the weeks before other members of his group stormed the Capitol.

Less than three weeks before the Jan. 6 riot, Lamond warned Tarrio that the FBI and U.S. Secret Service were “all spun up” over talk on an Infowars internet show that the Proud Boys planned to dress up as supporters of President Joe Biden on the day of the inauguration.


In a message to Tarrio on Dec. 25, 2020, Lamond said police investigators had asked him to identify Tarrio from a photograph. Lamond warned Tarrio that police may be seeking a warrant for his arrest.

Later, on the day of his arrest, Tarrio posted a message to other Proud Boys leaders that said, “The warrant was just signed.”

The indictment also says Tarrio provided Lamond with information about the Jan. 6 attack.

“Looks like the feds are locking people up for rioting at the Capitol. I hope none of your guys were among them,” Lamond told Tarrio in a Telegram message two days after the siege.

“So far from what I’m seeing and hearing we’re good,” Tarrio replied.

“Great to hear,” Lamond wrote. “Of course I can’t say it officially, but personally I support you all and don’t want to see your group’s name and reputation dragged through the mud.”
 

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E. Jean Carroll seeks new damages from Trump over post-verdict statements
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Published May 22, 2023 • 1 minute read

NEW YORK — The writer E. Jean Carroll on Monday sought to amend the first of two defamation lawsuits she filed against Donald Trump, arguing that the former president’s statements after a jury found him liable in the second suit warranted “very substantial” damages.


A federal jury in Manhattan on May 9 found Trump sexually abused Carroll in the 1990s and then defamed her by lying about it in October 2022. The jury ordered him to pay Carroll $5 million in damages. Trump has appealed the verdict and has called Carroll’s claims a “complete con job.”


On Monday, Carroll’s lawyers pointed to Trump’s posts on Truth Social calling the verdict a “disgrace” and criticism of Carroll on CNN on May 10 in arguing that she should be allowed to amend her earlier lawsuit, which alleges Trump defamed her by denying the incident in 2019 comments, while he was president.

“Trump’s defamatory statements post-verdict show the depth of his malice toward Carroll since it is hard to imagine defamatory conduct that could possibly be more motivated by hatred, ill will or spite,” her lawyers wrote. “This conduct supports a very substantial punitive damages award.”
 

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Trump makes video appearance in NYC criminal case, trial date tentatively set
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Michael R. Sisak
Published May 23, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 4 minute read

NEW YORK — Donald Trump threw up his hands in frustration Tuesday as a judge scheduled his criminal trial for March 25, putting the former president and current candidate in a Manhattan courtroom in the heat of next year’s presidential primary season.


Trump, appearing by video conference at a pretrial hearing in the hush-money case, glowered at the camera as Judge Juan Manuel Merchan advised him to cancel all other obligations for the duration of the trial, which could last several weeks.


Trump, wearing a blue suit against a backdrop of American flags at his Florida estate, then turned to a lawyer by his side — their brief discussion inaudible on the video feed — before sitting with his arms folded for the remainder of the hearing.

Trump said little during the hearing, but lashed out afterward on social media, writing: “Just had New York County Supreme Court hearing where I believe my First Amendment Rights, ‘Freedom of Speech,’ have been violated, and they forced upon us a trial date of March 25th, right in the middle of Primary season.”


“Very unfair, but this is exactly what the Radical Left Democrats wanted,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform. “It’s called ELECTION INTERFERENCE, and nothing like this has ever happened in our Country before!!!”

Trump pleaded not guilty last month to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to hush-money payments made during the 2016 campaign to bury allegations that he had extramarital sexual encounters. He has denied wrongdoing.

Merchan said he arrived at the March 25 trial date after discussions with Trump’s lawyers and prosecutors. Trump’s lawyer, Susan Necheles, said Trump knew about the date prior to Tuesday’s hearing and said she didn’t see his exasperated reaction.


Trump’s case is proceeding in state court even as his lawyers seek to have it moved to federal court because some of the alleged conduct occurred while he was president. The Manhattan district attorney’s office has until next week to file paperwork stating why it should remain in state court, where the historic indictment was brought.

Trump has made the New York case and the long list of other investigations into his personal, professional and presidential conduct central to his campaign to reclaim the White House in 2024. The Republican has portrayed himself as the victim of a coordinated, politically motivated effort to sully his chances.

Trump often discusses the cases at his rallies, in speeches, TV appearances and on social media. He has repeatedly attacked prosecutors, accusers and judges by name, including Merchan, and has shown no willingness to back down — even after a recent $5 million verdict in a writer’s sexual abuse and defamation lawsuit against him.


The plaintiff in that case, writer E. Jean Carroll, filed a new claim Monday seeking an additional $10 million or more to hold Trump liable for remarks he made bashing her on CNN the day after the May 9 verdict.

Trump responded Tuesday by doubling down on his contention that Carroll’s allegations were a “Fake, Made Up Story” and a “TOTAL SCAM” and that her case is “part of the Democrats playbook to tarnish my name and person.”

Merchan spent the bulk of Tuesday’s 15-minute hearing reviewing an order he issued May 8 that sets ground rules for Trump’s behavior in the lead-up to the trial.

It’s not a gag order and Trump is free to speak about the case and defend himself, Merchan said, but he can’t use evidence turned over by prosecutors to attack witnesses or post sensitive documents to social media. If he violates the order, he risks being held in contempt.


Among concerns raised by prosecutors were that Trump could weaponize “highly personal information” found on witnesses’ cellphones, such as personal photos and text messages with family and friends, as well as secret grand jury testimony and other material, to rile up anger amongst his supporters.

Nothing in the order prevents Trump from being able to speak “powerfully and persuasively” in his defence without the need to “start attacking individuals, disclosing names, addresses, cellphones’ numbers, identity, dates of birth, or anything along those lines,” Merchan said. Certain sensitive material shared by prosecutors must be kept only by Trump’s lawyers, not Trump himself.

Prosecutors sought the order soon after Trump’s arrest, citing what they say is his history of making “harassing, embarrassing, and threatening statements” about people he’s tangled with in legal disputes.

Trump was spared a personal appearance at the courthouse Tuesday, avoiding the mammoth security and logistical challenges that accompanied his arraignment last month. Instead, the Republican was connected by video conference, with his face beamed onto TV monitors positioned around the courtroom.

Trump isn’t required to appear in court in person again until Jan. 4, just weeks before the first primary votes are expected to be cast.

— Associated Press reporter Jill Colvin contributed to this report.
 

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Stormy Daniels claims her horse was attacked by Donald Trump supporters
Author of the article:Bang Showbiz
Bang Showbiz
Published May 24, 2023 • 2 minute read

Stormy Daniels regrets claiming she had a fling with Donald Trump as it has led to her family facing death threats and her horse being attacked.


The 44-year-old former porn star, who is at the centre of Donald Trump’s historic indictment, claimed supporters of the scandal-plagued 45th U.S. president scaled her fence and attacked her beloved animal Redemption two weeks ago.


She said on U.K. TV breakfast show ‘Good Morning Britain’ in the wake of a decision to set a criminal trial date of March 25, 2024 for Trump: “He doesn’t scare me at all. I’m frightened of his sycophants and his followers.

“It’s the tone that has changed from the first time around, and I’ve spoken about this quite a bit.

“In 2018, when the story first broke about me, of course I was attacked. I was called a slut and a gold digger and all of these horrible things that I probably can’t say on TV, but you get the idea. But now they’ve become bold. And they’ve changed, their threats are more real.


“I’m the one that gets the messages from his supporters. I was the one whose horse was attacked a couple of weeks ago. I’m the one who gets dragged all the time.”

When the show’s co-host Richard Madeley asked Stormy: “What happened to your horse?” she replied: “Somebody attacked it.”

She added: “Trump supporters. Just… they’ve gone after friends and family. Luckily I don’t have people that close to me… but there’s so many people who are intimidated.”

Stormy – born Stephanie Gregory Clifford – added she had spoken out to set an example for her daughter Caden Crain and to show she couldn’t be bullied.

She claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006 and received a $130,000 hush money payment in 2016 ahead of the presidential election.

Trump had allegedly recorded the transaction as a business expense and has been charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and in April pleaded not guilty to all charges.
 

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Kellyanne Conway’s daughter Claudia, 18, officially a Playboy bunny
Author of the article:Denette Wilford
Published May 24, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 2 minute read

Claudia Conway, 18, daughter of former Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway signs with Playboy.
Kellyanne Conway’s daughter, Claudia, has signed on with Playboy.


Playboy made the announcement Tuesday on Instagram, introducing the world to their “newest Bunny,” whose exclusive content can be seen on their subscriber site.


The daughter of Donald Trump’s former advisor and anti-Trump activist George Conway took to Twitter to explain why she chose Playboy as her latest career path.

“When I was 15-16, I was exploited by the media, preyed upon, and was forced into portraying myself as something I wasn’t. My body was taken from me,” the 18-year-old wrote.



“Now, as a young adult, I am aiming to reclaim my womanhood and femininity in a way that is truly mine,” she continued. “I am putting myself out there in a way that is MY OWN and no one else’s. I have full control of my body and my voice.”

Conway added: “I believe in writing your own narrative, like I’ve said in the past, and taking back what was once unjustly taken from you.”



In a follow-up tweet, she wrote, “Autonomy and freedom are two things everyone should have. Don’t let someone capitalize off of your vulnerabilities — reclaim them.”

The eldest daughter of Kellyanne, 56, and George, 59, Claudia became famous in her own right during her mother’s time at the White House.



Like her father, she opposed to her mom’s political views and shared numerous TikToks that went viral exposing just how anti-Trump she was.

In 2020, Claudia’s social media feeds were dominated by anti-Trump and pro-Black Lives Matter content and the then-16-year-old posted that she was “pushing for emancipation.”

The following year, she auditioned for American Idol, made it past the early rounds but was eliminated after the duets round of Hollywood Week.



This past March, Kellyanne and George announced their divorce.

“We are in the final stages of an amicable divorce,” the couple, who wed in 2001, wrote in the statement. “We married more than two decades ago, cherish the many happy years (and four corgis) we’ve shared, and above all else, our four incredible children, who remain the heartbeat of our family and our top priority.”
claudia_conway_playboy-e1684951881278[1].jpg
 

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Mike Pence files paperwork launching 2024 presidential bid in challenge to Donald Trump
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Jill Colvin
Published Jun 05, 2023 • Last updated 1 day ago • 5 minute read

NEW YORK — Former U.S. vice-president Mike Pence filed paperwork on Monday declaring his campaign for president in 2024, setting up a challenge to his former boss, Donald Trump, just two years after their time in the White House ended with an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and Pence fleeing for his life.


Pence, the nation’s 48th vice-president, will formally launch his bid for the Republican nomination with a video and kickoff event in Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday, which is his 64th birthday, according to people familiar with his plans. He made his candidacy official Monday with the Federal Election Commission.


While Trump is currently leading the early fight for the nomination, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis polling consistently in second, Pence supporters see a lane for a reliable conservative who espouses many of the previous administration’s policies but without the constant tumult.

While he frequently lauds the accomplishments of the “Trump-Pence administration,” a Pence nomination in many ways would be a return to positions long associated with the Republican establishment but abandoned as Trump reshaped the party in his image. Pence has warned against the growing populist tide in the party, and advisers see him as the only traditional, Reagan-style conservative in the race.


A staunch opponent of abortion rights, Pence supports a national ban on the procedure and has campaigned against transgender-affirming policies in schools. He has argued that changes to Social Security and Medicare, like raising the age for qualification, should be on the table to keep the programs solvent — which both Trump and DeSantis have opposed — and criticized DeSantis for his escalating feud with Disney. He also has said the U.S. should offer more support to Ukraine against Russian aggression, while admonishing “Putin apologists” in the party unwilling to stand up to the Russian leader.

Pence, who describes himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order,” has spent months laying the groundwork for an expected run, holding events in early voting states like Iowa, South Carolina and New Hampshire, visiting churches, delivering policy speeches and courting donors.


Pence’s team sees Iowa and its evangelical Christian voters as critical to his potential path to victory. Advisers say he plans to campaign aggressively in the state, hitting every one of its 99 counties before its first-in-the-nation caucuses next year.

The campaign is expected to lean heavily on town halls and retail stops aimed at reintroducing Pence to voters who only know him from his time as Trump’s second-in-command. Pence served for more than a decade in Congress and as Indiana’s governor before he was tapped as Trump’s running mate in 2016.

As vice-president, Pence had been an exceeding loyal defender of Trump until the days leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, when Trump falsely tried to convince Pence and his supporters that Pence had the power to unilaterally overturn the results of the 2020 election.


That day, a mob of Trump’s supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol building after being spurred on by Trump’s lies that the 2020 election had been stolen. Many in the crowd chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” as Pence, his staff and his family ran for safety, hiding in a Senate loading dock.

Pence has called Trump’s actions dangerous and said the country is looking for a new brand of leadership in the 2024 election.

“I think we’ll have better choices,” he recently told The Associated Press. “The American people want us to return to the policies of the Trump-Pence administration, but I think they want to see leadership that reflects more of the character of the American people.”

Pence has spent the 2 1/2 years since then strategically distancing himself from Trump. But he faces skepticism from both anti-Trump voters who see him as too close to the former president, as well as Trump loyalists, many of whom still blame him for failing to heed Trump’s demands to overturn the pair’s election defeat, even though Pence’s role overseeing the counting of the Electoral College vote was purely ceremonial and he never had the power to impact the results.


Pence joins a crowded Republican field that includes Trump, DeSantis, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, U.S. Sen Tim Scott of South Carolina, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plans to launch his own campaign Tuesday evening in New Hampshire, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum will announce his bid Wednesday in Fargo.

With Trump, a thrice-married reality star, facing skepticism among some Republicans during his 2016 run, his pick of Pence as a running mate assuaged concerns from evangelical Christians and others that he wasn’t sufficiently conservative. As vice-president, Pence refused to ever criticize the former president publicly and often played the role of emissary, trying to translate Trump’s unorthodox rhetoric and policy proclamations, particularly on the world stage.


After Trump’s legal efforts to stave off defeat of the 2020 election were quashed by courts and state officials, he and his team zeroed in on Jan. 6, the date that a joint session of Congress would meet to formally certify President Joe Biden’s victory. In the weeks leading up to the session, Trump engaged in an unprecedented pressure campaign to convince Pence he had the power to throw out the electoral votes from battleground states won by Biden, even though he did not.

As the riot was underway and after Pence and his family were rushed off the Senate floor and into hiding, Trump tweeted, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done.” Video footage of the attack shows rioters reading Trump’s words aloud and crowds breaking into chants that Pence should be hanged. A makeshift gallows was photographed outside the Capitol.


Pence has said that Trump “ endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day” and that history will hold him accountable.

Despite his harrowing experience, Pence opposed efforts to testify in investigations into Trump’s actions on and in the lead-up to Jan. 6. He refused to appear before the House committee investigating the attack and fought a subpoena issued by the special counsel overseeing numerous Trump investigations, though he did eventually testify before a grand jury.

Only six former U.S. vice-presidents have been elected to the White House, including Biden, who is running for a second term.
 

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Giuliani denies claims he coerced woman to have sex, says she's trying to stir 'media frenzy'
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Michael R. Sisak
Published Jun 06, 2023 • 3 minute read

NEW YORK — Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani says a woman’s lawsuit alleging he coerced her into sex and owes her nearly $2 million in unpaid wages is “a large stretch of the imagination” filled with exaggerations and salacious details “to create a media frenzy.”


Giuliani said in court papers that he had a consensual relationship with Noelle Dunphy “for a few months” in 2019, during his time as former President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, but denied she ever worked for him or that he pressured her into sex.


Dunphy’s lawsuit, filed last month in state court in New York, “contains a blunderbuss of contradictory allegations,” Giuliani said in his written response last Friday. Her “singular objective” is to defame him, he said.

Giuliani wants a judge to throw out the lawsuit. If that doesn’t happen, he wants what he described as the most “frivolous, inflammatory, and unnecessary” accusations removed from the case. He’s also asking for Dunphy to be penalized by the court for “inappropriate behavior.”


Dunphy’s lawyer, Justin Kelton, said Tuesday that Giuliani is the one filling his court papers with “misrepresentations” in a “transparent attempt to avoid having to answer” her allegations under oath.

“The allegations at issue in his motion go directly to the heart of Ms. Dunphy’s claims that she worked for Mr. Giuliani, that she was subjected to an outrageously hostile work environment, and that he repeatedly pressured her into unwanted sexual contact,” Kelton said. “Ms. Dunphy will vigorously oppose Mr. Giuliani’s attempt to erase his alleged conduct, and will hold Mr. Giuliani to account for his false statements.”

Giuliani’s political and communications adviser Ted Goodman said: “I’d encourage everyone to read the motion in full. The motion speaks for itself.”


Dunphy claimed in her lawsuit that she worked off the books as Giuliani’s business development director and public relations consultant from 2019 to 2021. She is seeking at least $10 million in damages.

Dunphy claims Giuliani promised to pay her $1 million per year for her consulting work but told her that he had to defer paying her until he settled his divorce from his third wife, Judith.

Giuliani reached a divorce settlement in December 2019, but Dunphy said all she got from Giuliani were a few cash payments totaling $12,000 to cover living expenses and that he still owes her $1,988,000.

Among the allegations Giuliani wants stricken from the lawsuit are Dunphy’s claims that he was a hard-drinking, Viagra-popping womanizer who made satisfying his sexual demands “an absolute requirement of her employment.”


Giuliani also took issue with Dunphy comparing some of his behavior to the scene in the 2020 film “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm” where he is shown lying on a bed, tucking in his shirt with his hand down his pants with a young woman acting as a television journalist nearby.

“This is the very definition of a scandalous and prejudicial allegation,” Giuliani wrote.

Dunphy claimed in the lawsuit to have made numerous audio recordings of Giuliani, including some in which she says he can be heard making sexual comments, demanding sex and making sexist, racist, and antisemitic remarks.

Her legal team has declined a request from The Associated Press to share those recordings, saying they are part of the litigation.

Dunphy, in her lawsuit, also accused Giuliani of reneging on a promise to represent her, for free, in a protracted legal fight involving claims of domestic violence.


In that legal fight, Dunphy had accused a romantic partner of raping her and throwing her down a flight of stairs. The man she sued filed a counter lawsuit, saying he was the one being physically assaulted and harassed. He also sued for defamation, saying he was being extorted.

Giuliani, in his response to Dunphy’s lawsuit, cited her previous legal dispute as evidence that she is a “seasoned professional at accusing former romantic partners of misdeeds in civil litigation.”

Dunphy agreed to accept $10,000 to settle her claims in 2016. But the two sides were still fighting over a final resolution as recently as last year.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual abuse unless they grant permission, as Dunphy has done.
 

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Pence opens U.S. presidential bid with broad critiques of Trump
Author of the article:Associated Press
Associated Press
Jill Colvin and Thomas Beaumont
Published Jun 07, 2023 • Last updated 2 days ago • 5 minute read

ANKENY, Iowa — Former vice-president Mike Pence opened his bid for the Republican nomination for president Wednesday with a firm denunciation of former President Donald Trump, accusing his two-time running mate of abandoning conservative principles and being guilty of dereliction of duty on Jan. 6, 2021.


Pence, launching his campaign in a suburb of Des Moines, became the first vice-president in modern history to challenge the president under whom he served. He said Trump had disqualified himself when he insisted that Pence had the power to keep him in office — even though he did not.


Trump, he said, “endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol” on the 6th. “But the American people deserve to know that on that day, President Trump also demanded I choose between him and our Constitution. Now voters will be faced with the same choice.”

“I believe anyone that puts themselves over the Constitution should never be president of the United States, and anyone who asks someone else to put them over the Constitution should never be president of the United Sates again,” he said.


Pence has spent much of the past two-and-a-half-years obliquely criticizing Trump, trying to navigate his political future in a party that has been transformed in Trump’s image. But Wednesday, as he made his pitch to voters for the first time as a declared candidate, he did not hold his tongue.

He accused the former president of abandoning the conservative values he ran on, including on abortion. Pence, who supports a national ban on the procedure said that, “After leading the most pro-life administration in American history, Donald Trump and others in this race are retreating from the cause of the unborn. The sanctity of life has been our party’s calling for half a century — long before Donald Trump was a part of it. Now he treats it as an inconvenience, even blaming our election losses in 2022 on overturning Roe v. Wade.”


Trump has declined to say what limits he supports nationally and has blamed some midterm candidates’ rhetoric for their losses last November.

Pence also bemoaned the current politics of “grudges and grievances,” saying the country needs leaders who know the difference between the “politics of outrage and standing firm.”

“We will restore a threshold of civility in public life,” he pledged

With Pence’s entry into the race, on his 64th birthday, the GOP field is largely set. It includes Trump, who’s leading in early polls, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who remains in second, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who also launched his campaign Wednesday.


Pence’s campaign will test the party’s appetite for a socially conservative, mild-mannered and deeply religious candidate who has criticized the populist tide that has swept through his party under Trump. And it will show whether Pence has a political future when many in his party still believe Trump’s false statements that the 2020 election was stolen and that Pence had the power to reject the results of the election, won by Democrat Joe Biden.

Pence and his advisers see Iowa — the state that will cast the first votes of the GOP nominating calendar — as key to his potential pathway to the nomination. Its caucusgoers include a large portion of evangelical Christian voters, whom they see as a natural constituency for Pence, a social conservative who supports a national ban on abortion and often talks about his faith. They also think Pence, who represented Indiana in Congress and as governor, is a good personality fit with the Midwestern state.


“We believe the path to victory runs through Iowa and all of its 99 counties,” said Scott Reed, co-chair of a super PAC that launched last month to support Pence’s candidacy.

But Pence also faces steep challenges. Despite being one of the best-known Republican candidates in the crowded field, he is also saddled with high unfavourability ratings. Trump critics consider him complicit in the former president’s most indefensible actions, while Trump loyalists have maligned him as a traitor.

A CNN poll conducted last month found 45% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents said they would not support Pence under any circumstance. Only 16% said the same about Trump.

Pence’s favourability has also slipped in Iowa, according to The Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll. The poll also found Pence with higher unfavourable ratings than all of the other candidates it asked about, including Trump and DeSantis, with 26% of Republicans polled saying they have a “somewhat” or “very” unfavourable view of him.


But Pence, who has visited Iowa more than a dozen times since leaving office, has been warmly welcomed by voters during his trips. During a “Roast and Ride” event over the weekend that drew a long list of 2024 candidates, Pence stood out as the only contender to actually mount a Harley and participate in the event’s annual motorcycle ride. When he arrived at a barbecue at the state fairgrounds, he moved easily from table to table, greeting and chatting with attendees.

But there remains lingering skepticism among many Republican voters who still believe Pence could have stopped Biden from becoming president. Trump’s lies about mass voting fraud and Pence lacking the “courage” to do the right thing led a mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol, with some chanting “Hang Mike Pence!”


Pence advisers say they recognize the challenge and intend to explain to voters directly that Pence was adhering to his constitutional duty and never had the power to impact the vote.

“I think it’s something you have to walk straight through,” said his longtime adviser Marc Short.

Beyond Jan. 6, his team sees their primary goal as reintroducing Pence to a country that largely knows him as Trump’s second-in-command. They want to remind voters of his time in congressional leadership and as governor and envision a campaign heavy with town halls, house parties and visits to local diners and Pizza Ranch restaurants — more intimate settings that will help voters get to know him personally.

“People have seen Mike Pence the vice-president. I think what people are going to see is Mike Pence the person,” said Todd Huston, the Indiana House speaker and a longtime friend who has signed on to help with outreach to state legislators.


Reed believes there is a strong desire in the party for a candidate like Pence who espouses Reagan-style conservatism, including traditional social values, hawkish foreign policy and small government economics.

“We think this nomination fight is going to be an epic battle for the heart and soul of the conservative, traditional wing of the Republican Party. And Pence is going to campaign as a classic conservative. His credentials are unmatched,” he said.

Unlike Trump and DeSantis, Pence has argued that cuts to Social Security and Medicare must be on the table and has blasted those who have questioned why the U.S. should continue to send aid to Ukraine to counter Russian aggression.