Trump says he invoked fifth amendment in New York attorney general’s investigation: ‘I declined to answer’– live | US politics

Trump says he invoked fifth amendment in New York investigation

In a lengthy statement, Donald Trump has announced he refused to answer questions during a deposition today as part of New York attorney general Letitia James’s investigation into his real estate dealings.

The statement is full of attacks on James, but closes with the former president declaring he has lost faith in the justice system – at least under his Democratic rival, president Joe Biden:

I once asked, “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” Now I know the answer to that question. When your family, your company, and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded, politically motivated Witch Hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors, and the Fake News Media, you have no choice. If there was any question in my mind, the raid of my home, Mar-a-Lago, on Monday by the FBI, just two days prior to this deposition, wiped out any uncertainty. I have absolutely no choice because the current Administration and many prosecutors in this Country have lost all moral and ethical bounds of decency.

Accordingly, under the advice of my counsel and for all of the above reasons, I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.

Key events

Closing summary

Be they at Mar-a-Lago or the New York attorney general’s office, former president Donald Trump’s legal issues were a major story today, as was an alleged Iranian plot to kill John Bolton, one of Tehran’s biggest enemies in Washington.

Here’s a recap of the day’s events:

  • Donald Trump invoked the fifth amendment against self incrimination when he sat for a deposition at the office of state attorney general Letitia James this morning, in her civil case relating to the former president’s real estate business.

  • National security adviser Jake Sullivan warned Iran against any attacks targeting Americans following allegations that it plotted to kill Bolton, a former national security adviser in the Trump administration and noted Iran hawk.

  • Data showing inflation flatlining in July prompted Joe Biden to say the figures were a sign that the world’s largest economy was healthy and poised to see prices moderate in the months to come.

  • House speaker Nancy Pelosi said her visit to Taiwan was meant as a show of solidarity and not to fundamentally change Washington’s relationship with the island.

Politico reports some new developments in the FBI’s visit to Mar-a-Lago, specifically efforts to get access to the search warrant, which hasn’t been released.

Both rightwing group Judicial Watch and the Times Union newspaper serving the Albany, New York areas have filed motions to unseal the warrant:

BREAKING: Magistrate Judge Reinhart is asking for DOJ to respond to Judicial Watch’s unsealing request for (what I presume is) the Mar-a-Lago warrant by COB on Aug. 15.

— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) August 10, 2022

The Albany Times-Union has also made a motion to unseal the search warrant, and Magistrate Reinhart has said DOJ can file a consolidated response to all unsealing motions:

— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) August 10, 2022

And the Times-Union has made an identical motion to unseal a second sealed search-warrant case that was also docketed on Friday. It’s unclear which of the two is the Mar-a-Lago warrant.

— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) August 10, 2022

Meanwhile, FBI director Christopher Wray isn’t saying much about the matter, according to ABC:

Speaking for the first time since the FBI searched Former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, FBI Director Christopher Wray told reporters in Omaha, NB he couldn’t get into the details. “Well, as I’m sure you can appreciate that’s not something I can talk about,” he said.

— Luke Barr (@LukeLBarr) August 10, 2022

Voters in four more states went to the polls last night to choose candidates in primary elections – and to also offer a glimpse into how Americans are thinking as the November midterms draw ever nearer.

Multiple pollsters now see the Democrats’ prospects improving thanks to voters rallying around reproductive rights following the supreme court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, and Republicans opting for more extreme, Trump-friendly candidates to stand in the upcoming general election. Nate Cohn of The New York Times puts it this way:

The GOP holds MN-1 in last night’s special election, but only by a modest 4 point margin (Trump+10 district; R+3 in last House race)
The signs of a Democratic rebound post-Dobbs are starting to pile up

— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) August 10, 2022

There haven’t been many other special/non-primary election results since Dobbs, but MN-01 isn’t exactly alone. NE-01 was also a strong showing for Democrats. There’s also the KS abortion referendum, if you count it.
We’ll get more data, including NY-19, over the next few weeks.

— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) August 10, 2022

Democrats have also trended upward on the generic congressional ballot, where they’ve reached parity with the GOP
No way to know if it lasts until November, but the focus on abortion/Jan 6 hasn’t ebbed–yet. At the same time, the news on inflation has improved for Ds

— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) August 10, 2022

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight sees things like this:

Here’s something I think about. Let’s say Democrats somehow do hold the House this year. It’s not likely, but it’s also not impossible (~20% chance per 538 model). In 20 years, will people have a hard time explaining why it happened?

I think no, they won’t.

— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) August 10, 2022

The last time POTUS’s party gained seats in the House were 1998 and 2002. These are generally attributed to Lewinsky and 9/11, respectively.

If Ds hold the House in 2022, people will attribute it to Roe being overturned and overall GOP radicalization including Jan. 6.

— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) August 10, 2022

Is Dobbs + Jan. 6 a “special circumstance” equal in magnitude to 9/11? That’s a very apples-to-oranges comparison but I’d tend to say no; people forget how profoundly 9/11 changed public opinion. But is it comparable to Lewinsky? Certainly. It’s bigger, I’d think.

— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) August 10, 2022

Dave Wasserman of The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter sums it up:

This much is clear from Kansas and the #NE01/#MN01 House specials: there’s still time for things to snap back before November, but we’re no longer living in a political environment as pro-GOP as November 2021.

— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) August 10, 2022

To be sure, Democrats appear to be deep under water in the polls when it comes to control of the House, FiveThirtyEight says. Faring even worse is Joe Biden himself, whose approval rate has slid and slid and slid for months, with signs of stabilization coming only recently.

The House of Representatives has taken the first steps to passing the Inflation Reduction Act, the Biden administration’s marquee spending proposal that is intended to lower health care costs and fight climate change.

The Senate approved the legislation over the weekend with Democratic votes alone after pulling an all-nighter Saturday. While the House isn’t expected to vote on the bill till Friday, the chamber’s rules committee convened today to move it towards consideration by the full chamber.

With Democrats thought to be on the cusp of losing control of the House in the November midterm elections, the bill could be one of the last major pieces of legislation passed in Biden’s first term. It was also intended to be much more ambitious, but provisions to lower housing costs and provide more aid and social services to poor Americans were stripped out in the lengthy negotiations that preceded its passage in the Senate.

The Washington Post reports that Democrats are now making something of a long-shot pitch to voters: re-elect us in September and we will try again to pass those programs that didn’t make it into the Inflation Reduction Act. As Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer put it to the paper: “If we win, we’re going to have to do a reconciliation bill that will take care of a lot of the things that we couldn’t do”.

Wilfred Chan

Wilfred Chan

Monkeypox cases are increasing across the United States, and as Wilfred Chan reports, the campaign against the disease is caught up in rightwing campaigns against LGBTQ+ rights:

The conservative campaign against LGBTQ+ rights has found a new fixation for its hatred: monkeypox. On TV, rightwing commentators openly mock monkeypox victims – the vast majority of whom are men who have sex with men – and blame them for getting the disease. On social media, rightwing users trade memes about how the “cure” to monkeypox is straight marriage while casting doubt on monkeypox vaccines’ efficacy.

This aggressive stigmatization of monkeypox – reminiscent of the homophobic response to HIV/Aids in the 1980s – poses a serious challenge to public health advocates and community leaders trying to have honest conversations about the disease with the gay and bisexual men who are most at risk during the current outbreak. Should public messaging highlight the fact that monkeypox is primarily affecting men who have sex with men? And should public health bodies urge gay men to change their sexual practices?

The simultaneous threats of homophobia and monkeypox require making a difficult choice about which to tackle first, says the writer and veteran Aids activist Mark S King, a 61-year-old gay man.

Joanna Walters

Joanna Walters

Federal prosecutors in Michigan today began laying out their case against two men accused of plotting to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, saying that conversations about their plan went beyond just idle talk, Reuters reports.

Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr face kidnapping and weapons conspiracy charges for the second time after a federal judge in Grand Rapids, Michigan declared a mistrial last April.

Gretchen Whitmer in March this year.
Gretchen Whitmer in March this year. Photograph: David Eggert/AP

The men – alleged members of the Three Percenters, a self-styled militia group – are accused of plotting to abduct Whitmer from her vacation home and stage a “trial” for her for treason. Two other defendants were found not guilty in the men’s first trial.

The mistrial was a setback for federal prosecutors in one of the highest-profile cases in years involving militias. The second trial will give them another opportunity.

In his opening statement on Wednesday, a prosecutor said the men determined where the governor, performed reconnaissance on her summer cottage and gathered the equipment they needed, such as body armor and ammunition, to carry out their plan, according to a local TV station.

This wasn*t just talk. You will see these defendants and others took specific steps, planning and training,” Chris O’Connor, the assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan, told the jury, local Fox affiliate WXMI reported.

Attorneys for Fox and Croft revived their arguments from the first trial saying that there was no conspiracy.
Christopher Gibbons, who represents Fox, described the accused as “big talkers” whose comments should not be taken seriously, according to NBC-affiliate WOOD-TV.

If convicted on the conspiracy charges, the men face the possibility of life in prison.

The two men on trial are among 13 men who were arrested in October 2020 and charged with state or federal crimes in the alleged kidnapping conspiracy. Seven of them are facing charges in state court.

Interim summary

Joanna Walters

Joanna Walters

It’s been a sparky morning in US political news, mainly relating to the man Joe Biden refers to as “that guy”. The president has now jetted off on vacation but we’ll bring you all the developments as they happen.

Here’s where things stand.

  • Donald Trump invoked the fifth amendment against self incrimination (with an eye to a parallel criminal case in New York) during a deposition at the office of state attorney general Letitia James this morning, in her civil case relating to the former president’s real estate business.

  • National security adviser Jake Sullivan warned Iran against any attacks targeting Americans following allegations that it plotted to kill John Bolton, a noted foe of Tehran who served in the Trump administration.

  • The justice department announced charges against a Tehran-based member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards for attempting to hire someone in the United States to kill John Bolton, a national security adviser under Donald Trump.

  • Data showing inflation flatlining in July prompted Joe Biden to say the figures were a sign that the world’s largest economy was healthy and poised to see prices moderate in the months to come.

Here is the president and family heading to South Carolina for a break.

There’s also this.

Following her visit to Taiwan that has sent tensions with China soaring, Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference that the trip’s goal was not to change Washington’s relationship with Taipei, but rather express solidarity.

“We will not allow China to isolate Taiwan”, Pelosi said. “They have kept Taiwan from participating in the World Health Organization, other things were Taiwan can make a very valued contribution. And they may keep them from going there, but they’re not keeping us from going to Taiwan.”

She noted Taiwan’s status as a democracy in contrast with authoritarian China, which considers the island a breakaway province and has vowed to reunify with it, even by force.

Beijing warned Pelosi against going and responded to her trip by announcing military drills around Taiwan – steps the Democratic lawmaker said China did not take when a delegation of senators visited the island earlier this year.

“So in any event, we’re very proud of our delegation”, she said.

White House warns Iran ‘will face severe consequences’ if it attacks US citizens

National security adviser Jake Sullivan has warned Iran against any attacks targeting Americans following allegations that it plotted to kill John Bolton, a noted foe of Tehran who served in the Trump administration.

“We have said this before and we will say it again: the Biden Administration will not waiver in protecting and defending all Americans against threats of violence and terrorism. Should Iran attack any of our citizens, to include those who continue to serve the United States or those who formerly served, Iran will face severe consequences. We will continue to bring to bear the full resources of the U.S. Government to protect Americans,” Sullivan said in a statement.

Bolton, who was Trump’s national security adviser from 2018 to 2019, presided over Washington’s decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal, and has advocated for bombing the country. The assassination plot alleged by the justice department earlier today appeared to be in retaliation for the 2020 assassination of Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, who was killed on Trump’s orders.

Former national security adviser John Bolton has released a statement thanking the justice department for exposing the assassination plot against him.

I wish to thank the Justice Dept for initiating the criminal proceeding unsealed today; the FBI for its diligence in discovering and tracking the Iranian regime’s criminal threat to American citizens; and the Secret Service for providing protection against Tehran’s efforts.

— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) August 10, 2022

He also takes a stab at the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which the United States pulled out of in 2018, during Bolton’s time in Donald Trump’s White House. The Biden administration along with its allies are in the midst of uncertain and lengthy negotiations with Tehran to revitalize the deal.

Despite his apparently mounting legal troubles, Trump has continued to have success in getting his preferred candidates through primaries, as yesterday’s elections show:

Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a member of the select progressive group in the House of Representative dubbed the Squad, eked out a closer-than-expected Democratic primary victory on Tuesday night against a centrist challenger who questioned the incumbent’s support for the “defund the police” movement.

The evening went far smoother for another progressive, Becca Balint, who won the Democratic House primary in Vermont – positioning her to become the first woman representing the state in Congress.

But Tim Michels, backed by Donald Trump, was projected to win the Republican nomination for governor of Wisconsin, a day after the FBI searched the former US president’s home in Florida reportedly seeking classified documents.

Hugo Lowell

More details are emerging about the FBI’s search on Monday of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, including that agents were looking for papers that the former president may have unlawfully taken from the White House. Hugo Lowell reports:

Federal investigators searched Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida on Monday bearing a warrant that broadly sought presidential and classified records that the justice department believed the former president unlawfully retained, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The criminal nature of the search warrant executed by FBI agents, as described by the sources, suggested the investigation surrounding Trump is firmly a criminal probe that comes with potentially far-reaching political and legal ramifications for the former president.

And the extraordinary search, the sources said, came after the justice department grew concerned – as a result of discussions with Trump’s lawyers in recent weeks – that presidential and classified materials were being unlawfully and improperly kept at the Mar-a-Lago resort.

The unprecedented raid of a former president’s home by FBI agents was the culmination of an extended battle between Trump and his open contempt for the Presidential Records Act of 1978 requiring the preservation of official documents, and officials charged with enforcing that law.

No matter how he does it, a judge in Georgia yesterday ordered Donald Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani to appear in person before an Atlanta special grand jury looking into attempts to tamper with the state’s election results in 2020.

According to The New York Times, Giuliani has claimed his health doesn’t allow him to fly to the state – an argument a judge wasn’t buying.

“John Madden drove all over the country in his big bus, from stadium to stadium. So one thing we need to explore is whether Mr. Giuliani could get here without jeopardizing his recovery and his health. On a train, on a bus or Uber, or whatever it would be,” Robert C.I. McBurney, a superior court judge in Fulton County, said.

Giuliani has been tentatively ordered to appear on August 17.

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