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Trump calls for defunding the FBI and Justice Department after arraignment

Former President Donald Trump was arraigned Tuesday on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to hush money payments made in 2016.

What to know about Trump’s arraignment

  • Former President Donald Trump surrendered to authorities and was arraigned yesterday in Manhattan.
  • Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to his alleged role in hush money payments during his 2016 presidential campaign to two women who claim to have had affairs with him. It's the first time a former president has had to plead to criminal charges.
  • Chaos reigned outside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse as protesters, both for and against Trump, and the media flooded the area, prompting Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., and George Santos, R-N.Y., to make only brief appearances.
  • In a speech last night at Mar-a-Lago, Trump lashed out at the investigations he faces.
65d ago / 2:48 AM UTC

65d ago / 2:41 AM UTC

Mexico’s president calls charges against Trump political

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s president said today he opposes the criminal charges filed against Trump, suggesting they were brought for political reasons during an electoral campaign.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the charges filed in New York against Trump, who is campaigning to regain the presidency in the 2024 election, represented “the degradation of due respect for the law.”

“I don’t agree with what they are doing to former President Trump,” López Obrador said at his morning news briefing. “I do not know if crimes were committed; it’s not my place.”

“Supposedly legal, judicial issues should not be used for political, electoral purposes,” he said. “Don’t make up crimes to affect adversaries.”

Read the full story here.

65d ago / 1:51 AM UTC

Asa Hutchinson says Trump's call to defund the FBI is 'ludicrous'

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who announced his White House bid this week, rebutted Trump's call to defund federal law enforcement, saying it would be "ludicrous" to do so.

"Defunding the FBI as retaliation for an unfounded state prosecution is ludicrous," Hutchinson, a Republican, wrote on Twitter. "We should reform but not defund the agency that is on the frontline fighting terrorism."

65d ago / 1:04 AM UTC

65d ago / 12:21 AM UTC

Analysis: What could kill the ‘zombie’ case against Trump again?

Money, alleged affairs and a presidential election.

It’s a story that has all the hallmarks of a case with instant jury appeal for prosecutors. Given the facts, it’s easy to understand why the “zombie” case, as it has been referred to within the Manhattan district attorney’s office in the past, was resurrected more than once. But now that the grand jury’s indictment of Trump has been made public, the legal underpinning of the case could come back to haunt the DA’s office.

The likelihood of prosecutors’ bringing a charge of falsifying of business records was well reported. But the falsification of business records alone isn’t enough — the falsification needed to be done intending to conceal another crime to elevate what’s typically a misdemeanor state charge to a felony.

In court yesterday, prosecutor Chris Conroy offered a succinct theory of the case: “The defendant, Donald J. Trump, falsified New York business records in order to conceal an illegal conspiracy to undermine the integrity of the 2016 presidential election and other violations of Election Laws.”

Read the full story here.

65d ago / 11:34 PM UTC

McCarthy calls Trump's indictment political, says it 'hurts the entire nation'


House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said today that the hush money case involving Trump makes him "very sad and concerned" for the country, suggesting the indictment was politically driven.

"My fear is what’s going to transpire here is that here we are as America, one of our greatest strengths is the rule of law being applied equally. What’s going to deter some small DA in a small town in a red state to go after a Democratic president?" McCarthy told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell in an interview.

"I don’t think any legal mind sits and thinks this has merit," McCarthy said of the indictment.

Asked whether he believed the indictment and Trump's involvement in other investigations would hurt Trump in the general election if he becomes the GOP nominee for president, McCarthy did not respond directly but instead suggested that Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg wanted to "play" with indictments in a way that he said "hurts the entire nation."

"It doesn’t matter what party you’re in. When someone uses the rule of law for political purposes, America looks weaker," McCarthy said.

He added that he would hope to take a similarly strong stance in speaking up "if someone would use this for political purposes" against a Democratic candidate.

65d ago / 10:48 PM UTC

Exonerated Central Park 5 member mocks Trump with ad of his own after indictment

Exonerated Central Park Five member Yusef Salaam issued a statement on social media mimicking a full-page ad that Trump issued 34 years ago that has become a flashpoint in Trump’s political rise.

Salaam’s open letter refers to an ad Trump placed in several New York newspapers in 1989, calling for the state to bring back the death penalty and strengthen policing in the city after the brutal beating and rape of a female jogger in Central Park.

Salaam and four friends, known as the Central Park Five, were falsely accused of the crime and imprisoned.

“Over 30 years ago, Donald Trump took out full page ads calling for my execution,” Salaam tweeted. “On the day he was arrested and arraigned, here is my ad in response.”

Read the full story here.

65d ago / 9:47 PM UTC

White House says it condemns 'any type of attacks on any judge'

At today's White House briefing, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration condemns “any type of attacks on any judge.”

Jean-Pierre declined to comment directly on Trump's case but said that "more broadly" such attacks were unacceptable.

"I’m not going to speak to the case, specifically, but that is something that we definitely condemn," she said.

Trump blasted Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over his case, both online and in a speech at Mar-a-Lago last night.

65d ago / 9:04 PM UTC

Haley raises $11 million in first quarter of GOP presidential bid

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign pulled in $11 million in the first six weeks of her bid, her campaign announced today.

Haley’s campaign says it ended March with $7.8 million on hand, with her home state of South Carolina, Florida and Texas the top three fundraising states.

In a statement, campaign manager Betsy Ankney said Haley’s fundraising and retail campaigning make her “a force to be reckoned with.”

Read the full story here.

65d ago / 8:00 PM UTC

65d ago / 7:05 PM UTC

The judge presiding over Trump's case, his family and court have received threats, sources say

The judge overseeing the Trump hush money case, Juan Merchan, and his family and court in Manhattan have received unsubstantiated threats since Trump's hearing yesterday, two sources familiar with the matter said.

There have been “dozens” of such threats recently to the judge and his chambers recently, one official said.

Bragg and other top officials in his office also continue to receive threats, one source said. The unsubstantiated threats have been in the form of phone calls, emails and letters.

The NYPD detail assigned to the DA’s office is providing extra security to all the affected staff. Court security officers are also providing additional protection for the judge and the court as a precaution.

Asked about criticisms of the judge and his family by Trump and others, New York court spokesman Lucian Chalfen said neither the court nor Merchan have a comment.

65d ago / 6:50 PM UTC

DeSantis lands congressional endorsement from Kentucky’s Massie

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., announced his endorsement of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis today, just one day after Trump faced criminal charges in a New York City courthouse. 

“America needs a leader who is decisive, respects the Constitution, understands policy, puts family first, and leads by inspiring,” the Massie statement read. “That’s why I’m endorsing Ron DeSantis for president.”

DeSantis is widely expected to enter the 2024 presidential race, but he has yet to announce.

Read the full story here.

65d ago / 6:14 PM UTC

Graham says he opposes Trump and GOP's calls to defund DOJ and FBI

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said today that he doesn't agree with Trump and other Republicans' calls to defund the Justice Department and the FBI.

"I'm not for defund the police," he told reporters in South Carolina when asked about Trump's latest comments.

Graham said the indictment of Trump is a "politically motivated prosecution" that will "enormously help Trump in South Carolina" in 2024.

"The road to the White House runs through South Carolina, and the actions of the Manhattan DA made the road a lot wider for President Trump," he said in brief remarks.

Graham said he's supporting Trump's bid because Trump is "the most capable of turning the country and the world around." Trump has "a proven record on the things that matter to me," he added. "That’s why I’m supporting him in 2024. The Manhattan DA has created a firestorm in South Carolina that will benefit President Trump."

65d ago / 5:39 PM UTC

Trump says people in courthouse 'couldn't have been nicer'


Trump said today that the people inside and outside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse during yesterday's arraignment were "unbelievably nice."

"The GREAT PATRIOTS inside and outside of the Courthouse on Tuesday were unbelievably nice, in fact, they couldn’t have been nicer," he said in a statement released by his campaign. "Court attendants, Police Officers, and others were all very professional, and represented New York City sooo well."

Outside the courthouse during Trump's surrender to authorities and arraignment yesterday, the scene became chaotic as demonstrators both for and against the former president flooded the area, causing some Trump loyalists to flee after making brief appearances at the protests.

65d ago / 5:05 PM UTC

Sen. Thune says Trump indictment 'looks like a political agenda run amok'

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Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the Senate minority whip, made his first public comments on Trump's indictment after a notable silence.

“I understand that this is the beginning of a legal process, not the end of one, but after an initial review of the details, this indictment looks like a political agenda run amok, and it’s becoming increasingly clear why previous district attorneys opted against prosecution,” he said in a statement.

Since news broke of Trump's indictment, congressional Republicans have rallied around the former president. Thune was one of the few remaining Republican senators who hadn't commented on the charges, though his criticism of Bragg is softer than many of his colleagues.

65d ago / 4:52 PM UTC

The GOP presidential primaries and Trump’s trial are on a collision course

Just as Republican voters in the crucial early states get ready to choose their presidential nominee next year, another spectacle may be taking place in the country’s biggest city that could affect the outcome of the election: the trial of Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, Judge Juan Merchan set a Dec. 4 date for the next hearing in the Manhattan district attorney’s case against Trump. The former president pleaded not guilty to the indictment accusing him of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records as part of a scheme to shield the electorate from information about past alleged affairs.

Prosecutors pushed for the trial to start in January, while Trump’s defense team requested that it begin “later in the spring” next year.

If the prosecution gets its way, the country would get a split screen of Trump fighting to prove his innocence in New York while campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, which hold their nominating contests Feb. 5 and Feb. 13.

Read the full story here.

66d ago / 3:54 PM UTC

Trump's calls for Congress to defund federal police mirror statements of Hill allies

WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump is egging on Republicans in Congress to “defund” federal law enforcement ahead of a government funding deadline this fall.

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, has also suggested that the Republican-led House use its purse strings to limit federal law enforcement.

Jordan has, for months, railed against the alleged “politicization” of the Justice Department and the FBI, accusing them of unfairly targeting conservatives. The two law enforcement entities are a major focus of the new House panel he leads, the committee on the weaponization of the federal government.

Congress faces a Sept. 30 deadline to fund the government or force a shutdown of federal agencies. With the two parties far apart on priorities, it’s not clear what a deal might look like. It’s also unclear whether there’ll be enough support in the GOP’s narrow House majority to pass a bill slashing funds to the Justice Department and the FBI. President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has supported higher federal and local police funding.

Read the full story here.

66d ago / 3:47 PM UTC

Anti-Trump legal experts raise doubts about the strength of Manhattan DA's case

While criticism of the indictment is expected from Trump defenders, some of the former president's critics have also expressed serious doubts about the strength of Bragg’s case.

Some Trump foes in the legal world are disappointed by the contents of the indictment. Liberal legal analyst Ian Millhiser wrote on Vox that Bragg "has built one of the most controversial and high-profile criminal cases in American history upon the most uncertain of foundations."

Bragg is relying on a relatively untested legal theory to elevate Trump’s alleged bookkeeping crimes from misdemeanors to felonies. Skeptics say the indictment did little to alleviate long-standing doubts about that theory, which had previously stopped the Manhattan DA’s office and federal prosecutors from bringing the case.

Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, and an election law expert, called the indictment a “mistake” in an article for Slate. He argued that other ongoing cases against Trump have much sounder legal footing.

“It is very easy to see this case tossed for legal insufficiency or tied up in the courts well past the 2024 election before it might ever go to trial,” he wrote. “It will be a circus that will embolden Trump, especially if he walks.”

David Frum, a vocal Trump critic and former speechwriter for George W. Bush, argued this is the wrong case to indict Trump. “It’s not enough,” he wrote in The Atlantic of the contents of the indictment.

Other legal experts have raised concerns on social media and in remarks to major news outlets. Liberal Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus echoed those sentiments by calling the indictment "disturbingly unilluminating" and resting on a legal theory that is "debatable at best, unnervingly flimsy at worst."

66d ago / 3:47 PM UTC
66d ago / 3:35 PM UTC

Top House Republicans plan 'path moving forward' to probe Bragg, Comer says


Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Reps. Jim Jordan and James Comer will speak this week about the next steps by the GOP-controlled House to probe Bragg's arrest of Trump.

"This is very serious,” Comer, of Kentucky, said during an appearance today on "Fox & Friends."

“Alvin Bragg doesn’t even know where his funding comes from. But he gets federal funding, and that’s where it falls into the jurisdiction of the House Oversight Committee.”

Jordan, of Ohio, chairs the House Judiciary Committee, and Comer the House Oversight Committee.

Bragg has repeatedly said that the case against Trump does not have any crossover with the federal funding his office receives.

66d ago / 3:12 PM UTC

Blinken: NATO counterparts don't seem concerned about Trump's arraignment


Secretary of State Antony Blinken has provided some insight into how Trump’s arrest is playing out among leaders abroad.

During a press conference in Brussels today, he insisted that the former president's arrest was not a topic of discussion with his NATO counterparts this week, and that it has not caused them to question the long-term reliability of the U.S.

“As you know, well, I don’t do politics,” Blinken said. “I can tell you, though, that the question you raised about the proceedings in New York actually did not come up in my conversations with NATO colleagues, nor did I get questions about the durability of our approach. I think people are very focused on what we’re actually doing.”

During his speech at Mar-a-Lago last night, Trump had called the charges against him “an insult to our country," and claimed that "the world is already laughing at us.”

66d ago / 2:20 PM UTC

AOC slams Trump for 'publicly intimidating' judge

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., accused Trump of "pointing a spotlight" on Judge Juan Merchan and his family and exposing them to violence.

Trump has come under fire from Democrats for publicly deriding Merchan as "Trump Hating" and posting about his daughter's reported campaign-related work.

"He is publicly intimidating a judge and pointing a spotlight on their family to his supporters — many of whom have admitted in court to committing violence in his name," Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a tweet that included an excerpt of Trump's speech last night at Mar-a-Lago.

She continued, "He knows what he’s doing."

66d ago / 1:59 PM UTC

Trump case information added to N.Y. Courts site

Trump's docket sheet was added to the publicly available New York State Court System site.

The site includes information about Trump's lawyers, the charges against him and his next court date.

66d ago / 1:46 PM UTC

Stormy Daniels ordered to pay nearly $122,000 in Trump legal fees

Stormy Daniels should pay nearly $122,000 of Trump’s legal fees in connection with a defamation suit she filed and lost against the former president, an appeals court ruled yesterday.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California sided with Trump in his effort to get Daniels to pay additional legal fees from the defamation suit. Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, sued Trump for defamation in 2018 after he dismissed her allegations of being threatened to keep quiet about her affair with him. Trump at the time called her claims a “total con job.”

A judge tossed out the case and Daniels was later ordered to pay nearly $300,000 in legal fees to Trump’s attorneys.

The appeals court ruled yesterday that Trump’s attorneys “reasonably spent the requested 183.35 hours preparing a motion to dismiss, a reply to the opposition to the motion, two extension motions, the answering brief, and the fee application.”

66d ago / 1:44 PM UTC

Rep. Comer says local prosecutors want to 'go after the Bidens'

Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., the chair of the House Oversight Committee, said he took two calls yesterday from county attorneys who want to "go after the Bidens" in the wake of Trump's indictment.

In an appearance on "Fox & Friends" today, he suggested Democrats might soon face retaliation for arresting Trump.

"They want to know if there are ways they can go after the Bidens now," Comer said.

He said about Democrats, "They've opened up a can of worms, they've set precedents now that we can't go back on."

66d ago / 1:29 PM UTC
66d ago / 1:23 PM UTC

Tacopina defends Trump's attacks on Judge Merchan and his family

Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina defended his client’s swipes at Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the former president's criminal case, during an interview on "TODAY."

Speaking at his Mar-a-Lago residence last night, Trump referred to Merchan and his family as “a Trump-hating judge with the Trump-hating wife and family whose daughter worked for Kamala Harris.” Hours earlier, Merchan told Trump and potential witnesses to refrain from statements that could potentially incite violence.

Pressed by "TODAY" co-anchor Savannah Guthrie on whether he advised Trump to “knock it off,” Tacopina said that Trump “has not done anything to try to incite violence" and that the former president simply “stated a fact that was written in the Daily Mail” about the judge’s daughter — reporting that NBC News has not independently verified.

“I mean, that’s a relevant factor. It’s not an attack on the judge or certainly his family,” he said. “No one is suggesting that anything should happen to the judge or his family and President Trump’s comments did not in any way, shape or form incite violence.”

66d ago / 1:07 PM UTC

Tacopina says he doesn't think case can survive legal challenges

Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina told "TODAY" he doesn’t think the case would make it to a jury.

“This case is going to fall on its merits, on legal challenges, well before we get to a jury, if we get to a jury.”

66d ago / 1:01 PM UTC

Trump was on the stump

From NBC News' First Read:

One thing is clear — former President Donald Trump’s legal woes and his presidential campaign have become fused together. That’s the message Trump himself sent during his address last night at Mar-a-Lago.

“They can’t beat us at the ballot box, so they try to beat us through the law,” he said. 

Relitigating his lies about the 2020 election, criticizing President Joe Biden for the Afghanistan withdrawal and the economy, questioning the merits of his impeachment — Trump delivered a modified stump speech, spending almost as much time railing on the other investigations he faces as the one that led to his arraignment yesterday. 

Read the full story here.

66d ago / 12:54 PM UTC

Trump calls for defunding FBI and DOJ, claiming Democrats have 'weaponized' law enforcement

Trump urged congressional Republicans to defund the FBI and the Justice Department, which he claimed had been "weaponized" by Democrats, in an early morning post on his Truth Social site.

After yesterday's arrest in New York, Trump remains under investigation by special counsel Jack Smith, who is part of the Justice Department. Smith has called witnesses before a Washington, D.C., grand jury to testify about Trump's role in the effort to overturn the 2020 election and, separately, about classified documents found at his Florida home.

Trump did not provide evidence for his claims that Democrats had weaponized law enforcement.

66d ago / 12:51 PM UTC

Discovery, motions and then perhaps a trial are ahead for Trump

The People of New York v. Donald Trump is only just beginning. After yesterday’s arraignment, the legal process that unfolds could take months, if not much longer. Here’s what to expect next.

Within 15 days of arraignment, the prosecution must turn over all the evidence gathered as part of the investigation, known as “discovery,” to the defense team. That includes the minutes from the grand jury process, the testimony from every witness, law enforcement notes of anyone interviewed, every exhibit put in front of the grand jury to substantiate the charges in the indictment and other records prosecutors obtained through subpoenas (think telephone records, tapes, things of that nature).

Trump’s defense team has already said it will quickly file motions in court to get the case dismissed before it ever reaches a jury. Trump himself has already floated the idea of filing a motion to transfer the case out of Manhattan, although motions to transfer venue are rarely granted; the defense team would need to convince the judge that Trump can’t get a fair trial in the city because of pretrial publicity. 

Read the full story here.

66d ago / 12:51 PM UTC

Trump’s historic arrest is just another day downtown for this 44-year courthouse newsstand vendor

The city was still waking up when the slender man in a green jacket showed up at his spot in downtown Manhattan. He barely glanced at the police barricades, the television camera crews, the police officers on the street corners.

They were here, outside the courthouse at 100 Centre St., for a historic event: the arrest and arraignment of a former president. 

Abul Kalam Azad was just up the block, getting ready to sell newspapers, candy and lottery tickets. For him, one of the city’s last newsstand vendors, it was just another Tuesday. 

“I’ve seen a lot of things,” said Azad, 70, as he placed bags of potato chips outside his stand just after 7 a.m. “Almost 45 years. Every day. Same place.”

Read the full story here.

66d ago / 12:51 PM UTC

These are the key takeaways from Trump's indictment

Trump was arraigned yesterday on 34 felony charges relating to hush money payments surrounding the 2016 election.

He pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer Todd Blanche told reporters the charges were “what we expected,” but the court filings from the Manhattan district attorney’s office did include some surprises.

Here are some highlights and key takeaways from the indictment and the arraignment.

Read the full story here.