Trump hits out at New York AG as Rudy Giuliani verdict looms: Live

Trump gives away pieces of suit worn in famous mug shot with $4,600 collectable cards

Donald Trump has lashed out at New York attorney general Letitia James on Truth Social, calling her “politically biased and motivated” in her investigation of his financial statements, which he insists were really “undervalued”.

“I am worth Billions of Dollars more than is shown on my very Conservative Financial Statements, THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF THE A.G. WITCH HUNT!!!” the Republican presidential front-runner fumed.

The outburst came as Mr Trump lost his latest bid to overturn a gag order imposed on him in the civil fraud trial, prohibiting him from attacking court staff.

Testimony in the trial wrapped earlier this week and Justice Arthur Engoron will next hear oral arguments on 11 January, after which he has said he aims to deliver his final judgement by the end of that month.

Meanwhile, a verdict is expected on Friday in the defamation case against former Trump attorney and New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has been found guilty of smearing the good names of Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss by falsely accusing them of engaging in election fraud.

They have asked for $24m each for the defamation and additional compensation for emotional harm and punitive damages.

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Joe Sommerlad15 December 2023 16:45

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Watch: Chris Christie first campaign ad says he’s the ‘one candidate trying to stop Trump’

Oliver O’Connell15 December 2023 16:24

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Four trials, six lawsuits: Inside Donald Trump’s legal troubles

Donald Trump has never been more vulnerable.

Without the privileges and prestige of the presidency to protect him, Mr Trump is facing serious lawsuits and criminal indictments across New York, Florida, Georgia and Washington.

Federal officials, local prosecutors and individuals are going after him for everything from his private conduct to his political maneuvering during the 2020 election.

If even one of these efforts proves successful, the US could see its first-ever former president behind bars.

Here, The Independent explains each major case.

Joe Sommerlad15 December 2023 16:15

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Giuliani defamation trial: Yesterday in court as jury deliberation continues

Jurors began deliberating on Thursday to decide how much Rudy Giuliani must pay two former Georgia election workers for spreading lies about them that led to a barrage of racist threats and upended their lives.

The jury left for the day without announcing a decision and resumed deliberations at Washington’s federal courthouse Friday morning.

Wandrea “Shaye” Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, are seeking tens of millions of dollars in damages over Giuliani’s false claims accusing them of ballot fraud while the former New York City mayor was fighting to keep Republican Donald Trump in the White House after the November 2020 election won by Democrat Joe Biden.

The potential hefty damages come at the same time Giuliani is gearing up to defend himself against criminal charges stemming from his legal representation of Trump. Giuliani’s lawyer told jurors the damages the women are seeking “would be the end of Mr Giuliani.”

Oliver O’Connell15 December 2023 15:58

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Ghost buses II

One of the weirder conspiracy theories around the Capitol riot of January 6 2021 reared its head during a trial in Washington in front of Justice Beryl Howell, the same judge presiding over Rudy Giuliani’s defamation trial (the jury is still deliberating).

Yes, the “ghost buses” are back.

Ryan J Reilly of NBC News (and author of Sedition Hunters) reports that lawyers for a January 6 defendant asked the government for evidence regarding the matter.

As you can see below, the “political weirdness” was given short shrift by Judge Howell:

Here’s Mike Bedigan’s earlier reporting on the “ghost buses”:

Oliver O’Connell15 December 2023 15:49

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Recap: ‘Grinch’ Jack Smith trying to rush federal election case, say Trump lawyers

Lawyers for Donald Trump told a federal appeals court on Wednesday that it should not speed up its consideration of whether the former president is immune from prosecution, accusing federal prosecutors of trying to rush his 2020 election subversion case through before next year’s presidential election.

The issue is of paramount significance to both sides given the potential for a protracted appeal to delay a trial beyond its currently scheduled start date of 4 March 2024 — amid the 2024 presidential primaries.

The former president faces charges he plotted to overturn the 2020 election after he lost to Democrat President Joe Biden, and he has denied doing anything wrong. He also faces three other criminal cases in addition to civil cases.

In their filing, the Trump team also accused Special Counsel Jack Smith, whose team has brought two federal cases against Trump in Washington and in Florida, of being like the fictional character the Grinch from the Dr Seuss children’s books in his attempts to spoil their Christmas.

Joe Sommerlad15 December 2023 15:45

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Where’s Melania?

Glad you asked — at a naturalisation ceremony at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

Yes, really. Melania Trump is an honoured guest speaker today at the ceremony for new citizens being held in the rotunda of the Archives’ headquarters.

That’s truly bizarre, no? Given her husband’s rants about the institution… and the whole ‘classified documents at Mar-a-Lago’ criminal case. And why would a federal agency invite the wife of a presidential candidate to speak just weeks before the Iowa caucuses?

The Archives says Trump is there as a result of a personal invitation from Archivist of the United States Colleen Shogan, a Biden appointee who got to know the then-first lady during a prior stint working with the White House Historical Association. They say Trump was invited in her capacity as a former first lady, not as a candidate’s spouse. “Naturalization ceremonies at the National Archives are not political events, and speakers are not invited in a political capacity,” a spokesperson told me by email.

If only it were that easy to define something out of politics. The fact is, the optics of the Archives ceremony are terrific for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

So why do it? One potential impetus would be very Washington indeed: helping the Archives look nonpartisan.

That’s a task that didn’t used to take much work. In the Trump years, though, the nation’s repository of historic documents was subject to the same relentless polarization as many other formerly low-drama Washington institutions.

Oliver O’Connell15 December 2023 15:29

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Trump ‘contacted ex-Mar-a-Lago employee turned witness’

Donald Trump and his associates allegedly repeatedly contacted a former Mar-a-Lago employee who knew of key conversations and moments in the federal classified documents case against the former president.

According to multiple human sources and other material accessed by CNN, Mr Trump took a rare step and reached out to the employee a few days after he quit working at the Florida estate to inquire why he was leaving.

Mr Trump’s associates later allegedly offered the former employee free tickets to a golf tournament.

The former employee, who later told the federal special counsel’s office investigating the documents case about the communications, even allegedly got an offer from Mr Trump’s lawyer for assistance in finding legal representation, with the lawyer mentioning in a voicemail that he was aware the former employee had been subpoenaed to provide information to a grand jury.

Joe Sommerlad15 December 2023 15:15

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Jimmy Kimmel gives Christmas songs the Trump treatment

Late-night show host Jimmy Kimmel gave some of our favourite Christmas songs the Donald Trump treatment on Wednesday night as he promoted a spoof holiday album by the former president.

In a fake record titled “MAGA-nificent sounds of Christmas,” Mr Kimmel and his team set the weird sounds that Mr Trump sometimes emits ― like “bing, bong, bing, bong” ― at rallies and interviews to holiday classics including “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night”.

The songs were played during a fake commercial before viewers were told they were “available exclusively by the cash register at T.J. Max”.

Oliver O’Connell15 December 2023 14:45

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Meadows hearing: Judges sceptical about removal of Georgia case to federal court

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ attorney is arguing before 11th Circuit appeals court why the Fulton County, Georgia charges against him should be removed to federal court.

Kyle Cheney of Politico observes that two of the judges so far seem sceptical of Meadows’ view of his official duties.

“According to him it seems like everything is in his official duties, and that just cannot be right,” Judge Robin Rosenbaum said.

He adds that Meadows’ seems to believe his official duties include “electioneering on behalf of a specific political candidate and an alleged effort to unlawfully change the outcome of the election”.

“The office of the president has no preference for who occupies it,” she says.

Chief Judge Willian Pryor also appears sceptical of Meadows’ case, noting that Congress may not have wanted removal to federal court for former federal officials.

“Congress could rationally assume that there’s a heightened reason for removal because you’re dealing with a current officer,” he notes.

He elaborates that states charging current officers would raise concerns about interfering with current operations of government.

“That heightened concern might not exist where you have a former officer,” Pryor says while noting that the charges against Meadows do not interfere with the Biden administration.

Oliver O’Connell15 December 2023 14:22


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