Politics

Rep. Adam Schiff to run for Senate in California

January 30, 2023

Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who emerged as one of former President Donald Trump’s chief congressional tormentors from his perch atop the House Intelligence Committee, announced on Thursday, January 26, that he would seek the Senate seat long held by Dianne Feinstein, reports The New York Times.

“I wish I could say the threat of MAGA extremists is over,” he said in a video on Twitter. “It is not. Today’s Republican Party is gutting the middle class, threatening our democracy. They aren’t going to stop. We have to stop them.”

Schiff, 62, is the second member of California’s Democratic congressional delegation to join the 2024 race, after Representative Katie Porter.

He enters the campaign with the largest national profile, according to the Times—built from his position as the manager of Trump’s first impeachment trial. He later served on the House committee responsible for investigating the origins of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

On Tuesday, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, exiled Schiff and Representative Eric Swalwell, another California Democrat, from the House Intelligence Committee in retribution for their actions toward Republicans when Democrats held the majority.

Feinstein, 89, has not said whether she will run again in 2024; but is widely expected not to do so as she faces Democratic worries about her age and ability to serve. Last year, she declined to serve as president pro tem of the Senate, and in 2020 she ceded her post as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee after coming under pressure from her party during the Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

In an interview with the Times on Thursday, Schiff said he had first apprised Senator Feinstein of his plans several weeks ago, in person, on Capitol Hill and again by phone on Wednesday.

“She was very gracious,” he said. “I let her know that I wanted to make my announcement, and she could not have been nicer about it.”

Schiff said that he did not want to speculate about whether Feinstein might retire, and that she deserved to set her own schedule for making an announcement about her political future.

“Once more, I have a genuine admiration and affection for her, and wanted to do everything I can to respect that,” he said.

A former federal prosecutor, Schiff served in California’s State Senate before being elected to a Los Angeles-area House seat in 2000.

In Congress, he became a close ally of (former) Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who tapped him to play a leading role in Trump’s impeachment trial and then on the January 6 committee. Last fall, Schiff passed on a chance for a slot on the post-Pelosi House leadership team in order to focus on a planned run for the Senate.

During and after the Trump years, Schiff became one of the most prodigious fund-raisers in Congress. During the 2018 election cycle, he raised $6.3 million, and then his fund-raising surged to $19.6 million in 2020 and $24.5 million in 2022 — without a competitive election of his own to wage. He has not faced a serious challenge since arriving in Congress, winning each of his general elections by at least 29 percentage points.

According to the latest Federal Election Commission reports, Schiff had $20.6 million in campaign money at the end of November; compared with $7.7 million for Porter and $54,940 for Representative Barbara Lee, who has told donors of her plans to run.

While Schiff and Lee’s House seats are safely Democratic, Porter’s is far more contested; she won re-election in November by three percentage points.

California—the nation’s most populous state with nearly 40 million residents—has not hosted a highly competitive contest for an open Senate seat since 1992, when Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, a fellow Democrat, were both elected for the first time.

Feinstein, who is in her sixth term, has been trailed by questions about her fitness to serve. Problems with her short-term memory have become an open secret on Capitol Hill, although few Democrats have been willing to discuss the subject publicly.

She has made no moves to suggest she will seek re-election in 2024. She has not hired a campaign staff and, in the latest campaign finance report for the period ending in September, had less than $10,000 in cash on hand—a paltry sum for a sitting senator.

Not since the early 1990s have both sitting senators from California been men. When asked whether electing a woman might be a priority for some voters after the Supreme Court’s repeal last year of Roe v. Wade, Schiff played down the potential role of gender in the race.

“I’m very proud of my fierce efforts to protect women’s reproductive freedom and my pro-choice record is a stellar one,” he said.

Schiff had earlier suggested that his election to the Senate could be symbolic in another way: “I think a lot of Californians will relish the idea of making Adam Schiff Kevin McCarthy’s home-state senator,” he said.

Research contact: @nytimes

George Santos now indicates $625K of loans to his campaign might not be ‘personal’

January 27, 2023

New campaign disclosures from embattled Representative George Santos (R-New York) suggest that at least $625,000 in campaign loans he had previously reported as self-funded might not be sourced from his “personal funds,” reports ABCNews.

Campaign finance experts say Santos may be violating campaign finance laws by not properly disclosing the original sources of those loans.

In a series of amendments filed on Tuesday, January 24, Santos marked two loans that he had previously reported as loans from himself— $500,000 from March 2022 and $125,000 from October 2022—as not from “personal funds from the candidate.”

In a previous version of his campaign disclosure, the $500,000 was reported as a loan from George Anthony Devolder-Santos, with a checked box indicating it was from “personal funds of the candidate.” But in an amendment to that report filed on Tuesday, that box was left unchecked.

Similarly, in another amendment filed on Tuesday, the $125,000 loan was reported as a self-loan from Santos but it had an unmarked box now indicating that it’s not from his personal funds. That loan was previously reported under the contributions section, with a memo that it was a self-loan from Santos.

Brendan Fischer, a campaign finance expert and the deputy executive director of Documented, said a campaign loan reported under a candidate, but not marked as “personal funds of the candidate,” usually means that the loan is secured through a bank or another person.

Under campaign finance laws, disclosures of such loans are required to be accompanied by the original source of the loans as well as the due date and the interest rate, Fischer said. But Santos’ amended filings did not disclose any of that information.

Santos declined to comment on the changes when asked by reporters outside his office on Wednesday: “I have no comment for you on that … I have no clue on what you are talking about,” he said.

Fischer said Santos’ new amendments “make no sense” and added that “unchecking the box is not going to absolve Santos from any legal liabilities.”

Adav Noti, former associate general counsel at the Federal Election Commission and now senior vice president and legal director of Campaign Legal Center, said the possibility of the changes being unintentional clerical errors, which the Santos campaign has a history of, should not be discounted at this point.

“I don’t think the amendments shed light either way on anything that happened,” Noti said. “There’s one checkbox on one form that was changed. There’s no indication that that was intentional, and there’s all sorts of indication that it might have just been sloppiness.”

Regardless of the intention of the changes, campaign finance lawyer and Deputy Executive Director of the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation Paul Seamus Ryan emphasized the importance of proper disclosures of campaign funds.

“Disclosure of the source and terms of such a loan is important because federal law requires that loans obtained by a candidate for use in the candidate’s campaign must be on the usual and customary terms that would be offered to any similarly situated borrower,” Ryan said.

“I’m not sure what Santos’ motivation was for the loan-related amendments, but he hasn’t cleared up potential violations of federal law,” Ryan added.

Santos, who was elected in November to represent New York’s 3rd Congressional District, has been under mounting scrutiny over his finances—with 2022 disclosures indicating millions in assets after previously disclosing less than $60,000 in income in 2020—as well as a string of falsehoods and embellishments he told about his background.

Democrats also have filed a complaint against him with the House Ethics Committee.

Santos has insisted he is not a criminal and has vowed to serve his term for his constituents—suggesting it’s up to them to reelect him or vote him out of office. He was recently given assignments on two lower-level congressional committees: the panels for small business and science, space and technology.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday that “I will hold  him [Santos] to the same standard I hold anyone else elected.”

If Santos is found to have broken the law, then “we will remove him,” McCarthy said, though it was unclear what punishment McCarthy was promising.

Research contact: @abcnews

‘Decisions are imminent’: Georgia prosecutor nears charging decisions in Trump probe

January 26, 2023

The Atlanta-area district attorney investigating Donald Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election indicated on Tuesday, January 24,  that decisions on whether to seek the indictment of the former president or his associates were “imminent,” reports Politico.

“Decisions are imminent,” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said during a Tuesday court hearing called by the Georgia trial court judge overseeing the “special purpose grand jury” that Willis has used to gather evidence over the last year.

Willis’ remark came as she urged the superior court judge, Robert McBurney, to oppose calls to publicly release the findings of her yearlong probe, which she conducted alongside the special grand jury to examine Trump and his inner circle.

Willis has spent the last year investigating Trump’s and his allies’ effort to reverse the election results in Georgia, despite losing the state by more than 11,000 votes.

The special grand jury probed Trump’s January 2 phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger—asking him to “find” just enough votes to put him ahead of Joe Biden in the state.

And it pursued evidence about Trump’s broader national effort to subvert the election, calling top allies like his White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Attorney John Eastman, and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).

The special grand jury concluded its investigation earlier this month, dissolving in early January, and recommended that its findings be released publicly. McBurney then called for a hearing to discuss whether to follow the panel’s recommendation or maintain the secrecy of the report. Willis told the judge that making the report public could jeopardize impending prosecutions.

“In this case, the state understands the media’s inquiry and the world’s interest. But we have to be mindful of protecting future defendants’ rights,” Willis said, emphasizing that multiple people could face charges.

Tuesday’s discussion was the result of Georgia’s unusual grand jury law, which permits prosecutors to impanel a “special purpose grand jury” that has no power to make formal indictments but can help prosecutors gather evidence about a specific topic. If Willis opts to pursue charges against Trump or others, she needs to present her evidence to a traditional grand jury, which could then issue indictments.

Thomas Clyde, an attorney representing several media outlets supporting the release of the report, urged McBurney to side with the grand jurors rather than Willis.

“We believe the report should be released now and in its entirety,” Clyde said.

He noted that findings in criminal investigations are often released publicly even while investigations and grand jury proceedings continue.

McBurney noted that Willis’ probe has been accompanied by an extraordinary release of information and evidence by the House January 6 select committee and from witnesses being called before a federal grand jury probing the same matters, none of which had derailed Willis’ probe. He also noted that there was little to stop individual grand jurors from simply telling others about the findings in their report.

But McBurney said he wanted more time to consider the arguments and said any ruling he made would provide significant advance notice before the potential release of the report.

Research contact: @politico

Classified documents found at Mike Pence’s home and turned over to DOJ

January 25, 2023

Classified documents have been found in the home of former Vice President Mike Pence and turned over to the FBI for review, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News.

A lawyer for Pence conducted the search of Pence’s home in Indiana last week and found around a dozen documents marked as classified, sources said. The search was done proactively and in the wake of the news that classified documents from before he was president were found in President Joe Biden’s home in Delaware and in his old office at the Penn Biden Center, a Washington, D.C., think tank.

The Pence documents are undergoing a review by the Department of Justice’s National Security Division and the FBI, sources said.

Pence previously told ABC News’ David Muir that he did not retain any classified information after leaving office.

“Let me ask you, as we sit here in your home office in Indiana, did you take any classified documents with you from the White House?” Muir asked in a November 2022 interview.

“I did not,” Pence said then. Asked if he saw “any reason for anyone to take classified documents with them, leaving the White House,” he said, “There’d be no reason to have classified documents, particularly if they were in an unprotected area.”

CNN first reported the discovery of classified materials.

Research contact: @abcnews

Jeff Zients to be named White House chief of staff

January 24, 2023

President Joe Biden is planning to name Jeff Zients—an investor and former Obama Administration official who led the current administration’s COVID-19 response—to be his next chief of staff, according to people familiar with the decision, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Ron Klain, Biden’s current chief of staffis expected to step down in the coming weeks after more than two years on the job. The Washington Post earlier reported that Zients was expected to replace him. Zients didn’t respond to requests for comment, and the White House declined to comment.

Zients helmed the White House efforts to increase distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine during the first year of Biden’s presidency—helping to cobble together a network to make the shots available nationally.

He left the administration in April 2022, saying he had no specific job plans; and, in recent months, was tapped by Klain to prepare for staff departures and help to identify potential replacements, according to people familiar with the matter. Zients also co-chaired Biden’s presidential transition team in 2020.

The president is turning to Zients as his next chief of staff because of his reputation as a manager with a history of navigating government bureaucracy, the people familiar with the matter said.

Zients is expected to bring to the job a more decentralized approach than the one favored by Klain, who was involved in nearly every aspect of day-to-day operations at the White House, some of the people familiar with the matter said.

While Zients is expected to focus on policy and governing, other longtime aides to Biden are likely to be more involved in advising the president on political matters as he faces investigations from newly empowered House Republicans and prepares to announce his reelection bid. 

In the coming year, White House officials expect to focus on implementing a slate of laws signed by the president since he took office—including measures to fix the country’s aging infrastructure, invest in renewable energy, and boost semiconductor manufacturing. Options for major legislative breakthroughs will be limited now that Republicans have taken control of the House.

Zients was a top economic adviser to President Barack Obama, serving as the director of the National Economic Council and a senior official at the Office of Management and Budget. Zients joined the board of Facebook—now part of Meta Platforms—in 2018 after leaving the Obama Administration. He was a top executive with the Cranemere Group, an investment holding company.

At the beginning of Obama’s presidency, Zients was appointed the administration’s chief performance officer—a newly created role that centered on making the government more efficient.

He later led a mission aimed at fixing HealthCare.gov, the federal website for the Affordable Care Act, when it experienced technological difficulties in 2013. He brought in private companies and technology firms to undertake a rapid review of the platform’s problems.

Zients is known as a meticulous planner. In his beginning days handling the COVID-19 response, he scheduled hour-by-hour what needed to be done to execute his pandemic plan. He and Biden spoke three to four times a week while he was overseeing the coronavirus response.

While Mr. Zients’ selection to handle the pandemic was initially criticized by some progressives who said he lacked public health experience, he earned bipartisan praise in hearings for his efforts to rapidly disseminate vaccines after a bumpy rollout during the end of the Trump administration. About 65% of the population, or more than 200 million people, were fully vaccinated by the time he announced in March 2022 that he would be leaving his position.

He also won high marks for shifting the administration from a more reactive approach to the pandemic to responding to COVID-19 as an ongoing public health issue. He pledged a wartime response to the administration’s global response to COVID-19, but some donations to poor countries fell short of targets because of low demand and limited funding.

Biden and Zients developed a relationship during the Obama Administration, and became closer when Zients was brought on as an adviser to Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Zients doesn’t have the kind of decades-long relationship with Biden that some of the president’s closest aides have. But those advisers—including senior White House aides Mike Donilon, Steve Ricchetti, and Bruce Reed—are expected to continue working closely with Biden as he prepares to announce his reelection bid in the coming month.

Research contact: @WSJ

Trump fined nearly $1M for ‘revenge’ lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, others

January 23, 2023

Former president Donald Trump and his lawyer, Alina Habba, have been fined almost $1 million by a federal judge in Florida for what was ruled a frivolous lawsuit brought against his 2016 presidential rival Hillary Clinton and others, reports The Washington Post.

Trump is a “prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries,” wrote U.S. District Judge Donald  Middlebrooks in his searing 46-page judgment published late on Thursday, January 19.

“He is the mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process, and he cannot be seen as a litigant blindly following the advice of a lawyer. He knew full well the impact of his actions,” said Middlebrooks. “As such, I find that sanctions should be imposed upon Mr. Trump and his lead counsel, Ms. Habba.”

Trump—who has announced his bid for the presidency in 2024— Habba, and the Habba Madaio & Associates law firm, are jointly liable for $937,989.39, the court found.

The suit was filed in March 2022—with Trump alleging that Clinton and others had orchestrated “a malicious conspiracy” to spread false information that his campaign had colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential race that he won.

It was dismissed last September by Middlebrooks, who said there were “substantive defects” in the case and grievances for which a court was “not the appropriate forum.” Despite this, the judge said in his Thursday ruling that Habba had been “undeterred” after the case’s dismissal and continued to advance the claims, leading to the fine.

“Here, we are confronted with a lawsuit that should never have been filed, which was completely frivolous, both factually and legally, and which was brought in bad faith for an improper purpose,” Middlebrooks wrote, decrying what he called “abusive litigation tactics.”

In a blistering judgment, he said the case was “intended for a political purpose” and showed a “continuing pattern of misuse of the courts by Trump and his lawyers,” undermining the rule of law and diverting resources. “No reasonable lawyer would have filed it,” he added.

Along with former secretary of state Clinton, Middlebrooks said 30 individuals and entities were “needlessly harmed” by the case in a bid to “advance a political narrative.” Among them were former FBI director James B. Comey, the Democratic National Committee and Christopher Steele, a former British spy hired by an opposition research firm working for the Clinton campaign who compiled a now-infamous dossier alleging ties between Trump and Russia.

Middlebrooks described the legal complaint as “a hodgepodge of disconnected, often immaterial events, followed by an implausible conclusion.” One example he cited was the alleged collusion between Comey and Clinton, a claim he said not only lacked substance, but was “categorically absurd” given the impact Comey’s announcements about the investigation into Clinton’s emails had on her 2016 campaign.

The judge also said Trump’s suit misrepresented the 2019 report by former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III by saying it had exonerated him. Mueller said only that his team had made no determination on “collusion” with the Russian government, and that it had not found sufficient evidence to charge any member of Trump’s campaign with criminal conspiracy.

Finally, the judgment also referenced Trump’s other lawsuits, saying they demonstrated “a pattern of abuse of the courts.” Among them were legal complaints against Twitter, CNN, New York Attorney General Letitia James and the Pulitzer Prize board for a 2018 award given jointly to the Post and The New York Times for coverage of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

In a brief document filed Friday morning with Middlebrooks, Trump withdrew his lawsuit against James in Florida. James has a $250 million lawsuit against Trump over a decade’s worth of allegedly fraudulent business practices.

Representatives for Trump and Habba did not immediately respond to an overnight request for comment from The Washington Post.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Yellen says America has hit debt limit, triggering ‘extraordinary measures’

January 20, 2023

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Thursday, January 18, that the United States has begun using “extraordinary measures” to pay its bills after the government reached its $31.4 trillion borrowing limit, reports Politico.

Yellen told lawmakers in a letter that the period of time the extraordinary measures may last is “subject to considerable uncertainty” because of the challenges in forecasting the money moving in and out of the government in the future.

The move, which Yellen warned lawmakers about last Friday, marks a key next step in the political stalemate between House Republicans and the Biden Administration over increasing the debt limit and avoiding a U.S. financial default. Conservatives want a deal that includes spending cuts, but the White House says meeting the country’s obligations should be non-negotiable.

“I respectfully urge Congress to act promptly to protect the full faith and credit of the United States,” Yellen wrote on Thursday.

Treasury expects its remaining cash and extraordinary measures—in this case, suspending investments in government retirement funds—will buy time through at least early June.

“With extraordinary measures now in effect, the debt ceiling is officially a ticking time bomb we can’t [defuse] soon enough,” said Representative Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.

If the stalemate continues as expected, Washington and Wall Street in the coming months will try to game out the deadline for a dealthe so-called X date—when America will be unable to meet all its financial obligations.

That threshold carries unknown risks. A failure to pay Treasury bond holders would rattle financial markets. Missed payments for other government programs like Social Security and military salaries could also wreak economic havoc.

The Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank that issues X date projections, believes the deadline could hit roughly around the middle of the year.

“Recession concerns are already elevated, and the possibility of a major debt ceiling debacle adds another clear risk to the outlook,” Wells Fargo economist Mike Pugliese said in a report Thursday.

Research contact: @politico

Top Trump-aligned conservative group buys up prime D.C. office space

January 19, 2023

An influential conservative nonprofit led by former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows is buying up millions of dollars’ worth of office space on Capitol Hill, records show, according to a report by Axios.

The Conservative Partnership Institute, as the  nonprofit is called, is the backbone of a policy and advocacy apparatus aligned with hard-right legislators such as Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia).

Indeed, Axios says, the real-estate purchases are a sign of the conservative nonprofit’s growing clout—and grandiose plans—as it tries to steer the direction of Republicans’ new House majority and prepare for the next GOP administration.

Just this month, several right-wing lawmakers who opposed Representative Kevin McCarthy’s (R-California) bid for speakership —including Gaetz, and Representatives Byron Donalds (R-Florida), Paul Gosar (R-Arizona), Ralph Norman (R-South Carolina) and Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania) — met at the CPI offices, according to Yahoo News.

CPI completed its most recent purchase early this month: $11.35 million for new space on Pennsylvania Avenue, adjacent to both the Capitol and CPI’s headquarters on Independence Avenue, D.C. property records show.

That followed multiple purchases last year on Pennsylvania Avenue—and ones on nearby 3rd Street SE and C Street SE—each made in the name of a different LLC.

Also last year, CPI paid more than $7 million for a 14,000-square-foot lodge on more than 2,000 acres near the Maryland shore, according to property records.

Led by Meadows and ex-Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), CPI has incubated or financially supported a number of allied organizations. Many are run by Trump Administration alumni and considered integral to early planning for another potential Trump presidency.

Founded in 2017, CPI has grown substantially in recent years. Its operating budget shot up from $7.1 million in 2020 to more than $45 million the following year, tax records show.

CPI leases some of its office space to the House Freedom Caucus’ political arms — the House Freedom Fund and House Freedom Action, Federal Election Commission records show. Staffers for HFC members and other conservative legislators routinely travel to CPI’s Maryland property—where the group hosts training sessions on topics ranging from communications to congressional procedure to investigative tactics.

CPI’s offices are designed not just as venues for political strategy and advocacy, but also as places where conservatives can find—in its words—”a sense of community.”

In its 2021 annual report, the group says, “Within our historic building and adjacent properties—just a half mile from the U.S. Capitol—conservatives learn how to resist the lure of the Establishment and be effective in Washington.”

Research contact: @axios

Failed GOP candidate arrested in string of shootings at New Mexico Democrats’ homes

January 18, 2023

On Monday, January 19, police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, arrested a former Republican candidate for the state House of Representatives in connection with multiple shootings at local Democratic politicians’ homes, reports HuffPost.

Solomon Peña is accused of conspiring with and paying four other men to shoot at the homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators, Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said. He was arrested after a brief standoff with a police SWAT team.

The department has been investigating at least six shootings between December 4 and January 5. Four of those have been linked to Peña, police said, and two others are still under investigation.

“It is believed that he is the mastermind behind this,” Medina said at a news conference Monday, per NBC News.

During one attack on Decembver 11, at least 12 bullets were fired at a county commissioner’s home, the Albuquerque Journal reported. On January 3, multiple shots were fired at State Representative Linda Lopez’s home—including three bullets that went through her ten-year-old daughter’s bedroom.

Peña launched an unsuccessful bid for New Mexico’s 14th House District in 2022, losing by 47 percentage points to his Democratic opponent, State Representative Miguel Garcia. The Albuquerque Journal notes that Peña has continued to dispute the results of the race, claiming election fraud.

Peña faced criticism during his bid after Garcia filed a suit to disqualify him from office over a 2008 conviction for stealing in a “smash and grab” robbery. Peña served seven years in prison, but a judge ruled that laws barring convicted felons from office were unconstitutional.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Trump falsely claimed in deposition that Carroll spoke about enjoying rape

January 17, 2023

Former President Donald Trump used a sworn deposition in a case brought by his sexual assault accuser E. Jean Carroll to continue calling her a liar and to claim she is mentally ill—denying that he sexually assaulted her even as he falsely claimed Carroll said in a CNN interview that she enjoyed being raped.

In rambling and combative testimony during an October 2022 session at Mar-a-Lago, Trump reiterated past claims he didn’t know Carroll, except as an adversary in what he termed “hoax” litigation, and said she was a “nut job” who was fabricating the story altogether, reports The Washington Post.

“I know nothing about her,” he said in response to questions from Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan, according to court documents unsealed Friday. “I think she’s sick. Mentally sick.”

The former president twisted Carroll’s comments from a June 2019 interview with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, in which she said she shied away from calling her alleged encounter with Trump a “rape” because the word “has so many sexual connotations” and is a “fantasy” for many.

“I think most people think of rape as being sexy,” she told Cooper, according to a transcript of the interview, explaining that she instead thinks of her alleged attack as a “fight.”

Trump cited the interview in telling Kaplan that Carroll “loved” sexual assault.

“She actually indicated that she loved it. Okay?” Trump said in the deposition. “In fact, I think she said it was sexy, didn’t she? She said it was very sexy to be raped.”

Kaplan then asked: “So, sir, I just want to confirm: It’s your testimony that E. Jean Carroll said that she loved being sexually assaulted by you?”

And Trump answered: “Well, based on her interview with Anderson Cooper, I believe that’s what took place.”

Carroll, an author and advice columnist, publicly accused Trump in 2019 of raping her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-1990s. She has a pair of pending lawsuits against him in federal court in Manhattan—the first for alleged defamation over comments by Trump in 2019 trashing her and her account, and the latter over the alleged sexual assault itself.

Trump has denied knowing Carroll at all, even though he was photographed with her and her then-husband at an event decades ago.

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan rejected a bid by Trump’s attorneys to dismiss Carroll’s sexual assault lawsuit, which was filed under a New York law that lets sexual assault victims sue years later.

Trump lawyer Alina Habba said she will appeal the judge’s decision not to toss out the newer case. A spokesman for Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign declined further comment.

The D.C. Court of Appeals is considering whether the Justice Department can represent Trump as a federal employee, a long-running legal dispute that has been heard by various courts and could effectively put an end to the defamation claims. Kaplan has scheduled an April trial date for both lawsuits.

Research contact: @washingtonpost