Trump jokes about his legal challenges after receiving target letter

Donald Trump sought to downplay his legal challenges while railing against special counsel Jack Smith and the justice department, after announcing he had received a letter naming him as the target of the DoJ’s investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Trump, headlining a Republican county meeting in eastern Iowa on Tuesday night, attacked federal investigators as he tried to make light of what could be his third criminal indictment since March. He said:

I didn’t know practically what a subpoena was and grand juries. Now I’m becoming an expert. I have no choice.

Trump also taped an interview on Tuesday night with Fox News host Sean Hannity, who opened the town hall event by saying that the former president didn’t seem to be bothered by “never-ending attacks”.

“It bothers me,” Trump replied, adding:

It’s a disgrace what’s happening to our country.

Former President Donald Trump speaks to campaign volunteers at the Elks Lodge, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Former President Donald Trump speaks to campaign volunteers at the Elks Lodge, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Photograph: Charlie Neibergall/AP

Key events

Nick Robins-Early

A banal dystopia where manipulative content is so cheap to make and so easy to produce on a massive scale that it becomes ubiquitous: that’s the political future digital experts are worried about in the age of generative artificial intelligence (AI).

In the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, social media platforms were vectors for misinformation as far-right activists, foreign influence campaigns and fake news sites worked to spread false information and sharpen divisions.

Four years later, the 2020 election was overrun with conspiracy theories and baseless claims about voter fraud that were amplified to millions, fueling an anti-democratic movement to overturn the election.

Now, as the 2024 presidential election comes into view, experts warn that advances in AI have the potential to take the disinformation tactics of the past and breathe new life into them.

AI-generated disinformation not only threatens to deceive audiences, but also erode an already embattled information ecosystem by flooding it with inaccuracies and deceptions, experts say.

Read the full story here.

Judge rejects Donald Trump’s bid to move hush money case to federal court

A judge has rejected Donald Trump’s bid to move his hush money criminal case to federal court, ruling that the former president had failed to meet a high legal bar for changing jurisdiction.

US district judge Alvin Hellerstein’s decision sets the stage for Trump to stand trial in state court in Manhattan as early as next spring, overlapping with the 2024 presidential primary season, AP reported.

Manhattan prosecutors charged Trump with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to hide reimbursements made to his then fixer, Michael Cohen, for his role in paying $130,000 to the adult film star, Stormy Daniels, ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Trump’s lawyers had argued that the case should be moved from New York state court to federal court because he was being prosecuted for an act under the “color of his office” as president.

Judge Hellerstein scoffed at the defense claims, finding that the allegations pertained to Trump’s personal life, not presidential duties that would have merited a move to federal court. He wrote in a 25-page ruling:

The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the matter was a purely a personal item of the President – a cover-up of an embarrassing event.

Hush money paid to an adult film star is not related to a President’s official acts. It does not reflect in any way the color of the President’s official duties.

The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, refused to weigh in on whether Donald Trump should face charges over the January 6th insurrection.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to comment on the legitimacy of Donald Trump potentially being charged in relation to the January 6th Capitol insurrection:

“I’m not gonna comment on the various candidates for the presidency.”

— The Recount (@therecount) July 19, 2023

Arkansas governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has also reportedly developed a relationship with her former boss Donald Trump’s rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Sanders attended a retreat with prominent DeSantis donors last year, and Axios reports that she has become close to DeSantis’s wife, Casey, since their experiences with cancer in recent years.

One senior Republican told the news website:

Sarah reached out to Casey during her treatments and the same thing happened when Sarah had her experience.

Sanders, 40, is the country’s youngest governor and her allies believe she is positioning herself for a possible presidency run in 2028 or 2032, the report says.

Tensions between Donald Trump and his former press secretary, Arkansas governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, have grown over her neutrality in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, according to an Axios report.

The report outlines how Sanders’s team told the Trump campaign that she wouldn’t make endorsement until after her first legislative session in Arkansas. That session ended in May.

Sanders is among several Republicans who have so far stayed neutral in the presidential primary, but Trump sees her in a different category because he hired her to be his press secretary and endorsed her when she ran for governor in 2021, the report writes.

Trump reportedly asked Sanders for her endorsement in a phone call earlier this year and she declined, according to the New York Times. Trump denied the report in March, writing:

I never asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders for an endorsement. I give endorsements, I don’t generally ask for them. With that being said, nobody has done more for her than I have, with the possible exception of her great father, Mike!

Three weeks after the NYT story was published, Mike Huckabee, Sanders’s father, publicly endorsed Trump on his TV show.

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Former White House press secretary, now Arkansas Governor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

Donald Trump has reportedly been seething about the potential new indictment, as he reached out to his top allies to strategize how they could help defend him against potential criminal charges over his effort to overturn the 2020 election.

Trump spoke with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House GOP conference chair Elise Stefanik, according to sources, CNN reported.

The former president’s call with Stefanik, who leads the House GOP’s messaging efforts, was described as a “long conversation” where the two went over plans to go on the offense on alleged weaponization of the federal government, the report says.

Trump asked things like “Can you believe this?” and used vulgarities to vent his displeasure, Politico reported.

Donald Trump’s rivals have largely shied away from criticizing his legal woes, with most of the Republican presidential candidates choosing instead to portray the former president’s pending prosecution as a perversion of justice.

Besides Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson, who have long made clear their view that Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election should disqualify him from reelection, there was no discernible movement within the former president’s party against him, according to a NBC report.

“This could be different,” said Terry Sullivan, who served as campaign manager for Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s 2016 GOP presidential bid.

Now that being said, Mission Impossible 9 could be different than the first eight Mission Impossibles, but it’s unlikely. It’s likely to end the same way the first eight did.

Trump’s rivals boxed themselves in on the former president, the January 6 insurrection and the criminal charges against him, the report continues.

That won’t change unless there’s a massive shift in opinion among Republican primary voters, and Trump’s most prominent rivals are in no position to try to lead such a movement because they already have weighed in on the indictments and Jan. 6.

A group of 200 lawmakers said they have agreed not to intervene if UPS workers go on strike, Reuters reports.

The world’s biggest package delivery firm and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters have until midnight on 31 July to reach a contract deal covering some 340,000 workers that sort, load and deliver packages in the United States.

“We are hopeful that both sides can negotiate in good faith and reach a consensus agreement,” the lawmakers said, adding if no deal is reached they have committed to respect the rights of workers “to withhold their labor and initiate and participate in a strike.”

UPS workers are currently calling for better pay, more full-time jobs and better workplace health and safety conditions.

Despite UPS tentatively agreeing to make Martin Luther King Jr Day a holiday and to install ACs in more of its trucks as temperatures rise, the union for UPS workers said that the company had not agreed to all of its demands.

Should a strike happen, Bloomberg estimates that the company could lose a staggering $170m a day.

For further details on how likely a UPS workers strike is, click here:

DoJ assessing Texas-Mexico border situation amid ‘troubling reports’

The department of justice said that it is assessing the situation by the Texas-Mexico border following “troubling reports” that have emerged over Texas troopers’ treatment of migrants.

Speaking to CNN, DoJ spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa said, “The department is aware of the troubling reports, and we are working with DHS and other relevant agencies to assess the situation.”

Earlier this week, the Houston Chronicle reported email exchanges between a trooper and a superior over alleged mistreatment of migrants crossing the border.

The emails alleged that officers working along the border have been ordered to push small children and nursing babies back into the Rio Grande, and have also told to not give water to migrants, despite scorching temperatures.

“Due to the extreme heat, the order to not give people water needs to be immediately reversed as well,” the trooper wrote, adding, “I believe we have stepped over a line into the inhumane.”

A statement released by Abbott’s office on Tuesday pushed back against the allegations, saying:

“No orders or directions have been given under Operation Lone Star that would compromise the lives of those attempting to cross the border illegally.”

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

Amid speculation about whether or not Rudy Giuliani has “flipped” on Donald Trump in the federal investigation of the former president’s election subversion and incitement of the January 6 attack on Congress, one former Trump White House insider had a somewhat…dry response.

Rudy Giuliani.
Rudy Giuliani. Photograph: Jim Bourg/Reuters

The former New York mayor turned Trump adviser and lawyer might have turned on his boss “Cause they don’t have happy hour up the river”, the former insider said in a message viewed by the Guardian.

Reports of Giuliani’s fondness for alcohol are legion. “Up the river” is, according to Collins dictionary, an American idiom meaning to be sent “to or confined in a penitentiary”.

Speculation about Giuliani flowered on Tuesday after Trump announced that he had received a letter naming him as a target in the investigation led by the special counsel Jack Smith.

CNN said Giuliani “did a voluntary interview with special counsel investigators several weeks back” and “his lawyer does not expect him to be charged”.

That lawyer, Ted Goodman, said: “Any speculation that Mayor Rudy Giuliani ‘flipped’ against President Donald Trump is as false as previous lies that America’s Mayor” – Giuliani’s post-9/11 nickname – “was somehow a Russian Agent.

“In order to ‘flip’ on President Trump – as so many in the anti-Trump media are fantasising over – Mayor Giuliani would’ve had to commit perjury, because all the information he has regarding this case points to President Trump’s innocence.”

Many observers pointed out that Giuliani, whose law licenses have come under review arising from his work for Trump, may not be out of the woods on the other investigation of Trump’s election subversion, in Fulton county, Georgia.

Some further reading:

Trump could face new indictment within days after target letter

The letter identifying Donald Trump as a target in special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the January 6 insurrection could mean that the former president face a new indictment as early as the end of the week.

“A third indictment appears to be forthcoming,” Brookings Institution senior fellow Benjamin Wittes posted on the Lawfare blog, adding:

It’s reasonable to expect the grand jury to act as early as the end of this week.

The Republican governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu, has announced he will not be running for re-election next year.

After much consideration, I have decided not to run for another term as Governor in 2024.
Be assured we will keep working and that the Granite State will continue to be our priority for the next 18 months.

— Chris Sununu (@ChrisSununu) July 19, 2023

Wesleyan University announced it would end legacy admissions, after the supreme court struck down affirmative action in the college admission process last month.

In a statement on Wednesday, university president Michael Roth said legacies – a practice that favors relatives of alumni – had played a “negligible role” in the school’s admission process for many years. He added:

Nevertheless, in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision regarding affirmative action, we believe it important to formally end admission preference for ‘legacy applicants’.

Relatives of Wesleyan alumni will continue to be admitted to the school “on their own merits”, Roth said.

Legacy admissions came under fire after the nation’s highest court ruled that schools could not give preferential treatment to applicants based on race or ethnicity.

A small number of schools have ended the practice, including Johns Hopkins, MIT and Amherst college.

Source link