Posts tagged with "CNN"

‘Make my day, pal’: Joe Biden challenges Donald Trump to a presidential debate

May 15, 2024

On Wednesday, May 15, President Joe Biden released a video challenging presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump to debate him, reports HuffPost.

“Donald Trump lost two debates to me in 2020 and since then he hasn’t shown up to debate. Now he’s acting like he wants to debate me again,” Biden said in the video, which was posted to X, formerly called Twitter.

“Well, make my day, pal,” Biden added. “I’ll even do it twice. So let’s pick the dates, Donald. I hear you’re free on Wednesdays.”

Not long after posting the video, Biden said on social media that he accepted an invitation from CNN for a June 27 debate: “Over to you, Donald. As you said: anywhere, any time, any place.”

Biden’s campaign proposed two general election debates to be held in June and September prior to the start of early voting. The campaign also said it wanted the debates hosted by news organizations rather than by the Commission on Presidential Debates because the schedule of three debates proposed by the commission occurred too late, after the start of early voting, an objection also raised by Trump’s campaign.

Trump told Fox News he agreed with Biden’s proposed schedule.

Trump skipped a 2020 presidential debate when the organizers announced it would be held virtually amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The former president also skipped the 2024 GOP primary debates.

But in recent months, Trump has been taunting Biden on the campaign trail—calling for more debates than usual and placing an empty lectern on the stage at his rallies to represent where Biden could stand.

Anytime, anyplace,” Trump said of debating Biden at a rally earlier this year.

Trump also suggested a presidential debate at the courthouse in New York City, where he is on trial for falsifying business records related to hush money paid to silence adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Trump has been occupied with the proceedings every day of the week except Wednesday, when the trial is not in session, giving him a day off.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Special Counsel blasts judge’s jury instruction request in Trump documents case

April  4, 2024

In perhaps prosecutors’ strongest rebuke yet to how Judge Aileen Cannon has handled the classified documents case against former President Donald Trump, Special Counsel Jack Smith said in court filings late on Tuesday evening, April 2, that the judge had ordered briefings based on a “fundamentally flawed” understanding of the case that has “no basis in law or fact,” reports CNN.

Smith’s team harshly critiqued Cannon’s request for jury instructions, which embraced Trump’s claims that he had broad authority to take classified government documents and said it would seek an appeals court review if she accepted the former president’s arguments about his record-retention powers.

In an unusual order last month, Cannon asked attorneys on the classified documents case to submit briefs on potential jury instructions defining terms of the Espionage Act, under which Trump is charged over mishandling 32 classified records.

Specifically, Cannon asked the special counsel and defense attorneys to write two versions of proposed jury instructions:

  • The first scenario would instruct a jury to assess whether each of the records that Trump is accused of retaining fell into the categories of “personal” or “presidential” as laid out by the Presidential Records Act, a post-Watergate law that governs how White House records belonging to the government are to be handled at the end of a presidency.
  • The second version Cannon asked for assumes that, as president, Trump had complete authority to take any records he wanted from the White House, which would make it nearly impossible for prosecutors to secure a conviction. If she were to institute this sort of instruction, Smith’s team said, “the Government must be provided with an opportunity to seek prompt appellate review.”

“Both scenarios rest on an unstated and fundamentally flawed legal premise—namely, that the Presidential Records Act and, in particular, its distinction between ‘personal’ and ‘presidential’ records, determines whether a former President is ‘authorized,’ under the Espionage Act, to possess highly classified documents and store them in an unsecure facility,” the special counsel’s team wrote.

If allowed to be presented to a jury, prosecutors said, “that premise would distort the trial.”

Cannon’s request came days after she heard arguments over whether the Presidential Records Act granted the former president broad authority to characterize any record from his time in the White House as personal. Trump’s attorneys claim he did have that authority and have asked the judge to throw out the criminal charges.

In their own proposed jury instructions filed Tuesday evening, Trump’s defense attorneys suggested that, in the first hypothetical, Cannon tell trial jurors that Trump was “authorized” by the PRA to “possess a category of documents defined as ‘personal records,’ both during and after his term in office.”

In the second scenario, defense attorneys wrote that “there can be no appropriate jury instructions relating to factual issues … because that scenario forecloses prosecution of President Trump.”

Trump’s proposal also challenges Smith’s ability to prove the former president kept the documents “knowingly”—meaning that he was aware it was against the law.

“Medical science has not yet devised an instrument which can record what was in one’s mind in the distant past,” Trump’s attorneys wrote.

Prosecutors have repeatedly said that the PRA is not relevant to the charges against Trump, as the conduct he is accused of happened after his term as president ended. Trump’s claim that he deemed the records personal are “pure fiction,” invented once the National Archives had retrieved boxes with classified information from Mar-a-Lago two years after he left office, they wrote Tuesday.

Their new filing sheds light on some of the evidence that investigators have collected about Trump’s record-keeping habits during his presidency.

According to the prosecutors’ account, there is no evidence that Trump designated the relevant classified records as personal when he left the White House; and the prosecutors said he got the idea that he did have such power many months later, from the leader of a conservative legal organization.

Cannon appeared skeptical that the charges should be outright dismissed during the hearing, but she said that Trump’s attorneys were making “forceful” arguments that may be appropriate to present to a trial jury.

Still, Cannon has not made an official ruling on the request to dismiss the case, and her request for hypothetical jury instructions appears to show that the judge is still considering how, or if, the PRA fits into the case at large.

Research contact: @CNN

Robert Kraft is buying a Super Bowl ad to fight the rise of antisemitism

January 26, 2024

A Super Bowl ad set to be shown during the February 11 game in Las Vegas will highlight the rise of antisemitism, with a 30-second spot from “Stand Up to Jewish Hate,” a campaign from the nonprofit organization founded by Robert Kraft, the billionaire businessman and owner of the New England Patriots, reports CNN.

It’s the first time his Foundation to Combat Antisemitism (FCAS) is buying an ad during the “most visible platform,” which last year was watched by 113 million viewers and was the third most-watched television program of all time.

Specifics of the ad weren’t released, but the organization said it builds on its “work to inspire Americans of all backgrounds to be vocal upstanders for the Jewish community and to stand up against all forms of hate.”

The “Stand Up to Jewish Hate” ad campaign debuted a few years ago following several antisemitic incidents—including insidious comments from Kanye West (or Ye)—but has taken on new significance in recent months following the October 7 assault by Hamas militants in Israel and some U.S. college campuses becoming roiled in the subject.

A focal point of the “Stand Up to Jewish Hate” are its blue squares, which FCAS said are a “symbol of solidarity” for non-Jewish people to show their support for Jews by adding it to their social media presence.

“This message will make its debut at one of the country’s most significant cultural events to not only continue to push against indifference to Jewish hate, but also to celebrate those who stand up to all incidents of hate,” FCAS said in a press release.

According to FCAS research, 183 million posts on social media were related to antisemitism and Jewish culture in 2023—a 330% increase from the prior year. The organization said Google searches for “Kill Jews” increased by 1,800% in the past three months.

Research contact: @CNN

Trump ‘defames’ E. Jean Caroll again on Truth Social while sitting in same courtroom

January 18, 2024

Donald Trump fired off more than 30 posts in 40 minutes targeting writer E. Jean Carroll as his second defamation trial got underway on Tuesday, January 16, in New York City; with the two appearing in the same room together for the first time in years, according to CNN.

In other coverage, by Salon, Trump was said to have lobbed a flurry of attacks at Carroll and the federal judge presiding over the ex-columnist’s defamation trial against the former president.

“I am waiting to get into the courtroom for the Carroll proceedings, but the bizarre advantage of still being outside is learning Trump has yet again defamed Carroll on Truth Social,” MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin reported.

In one post, which he later reposted, Trump wrote, “Can you believe I have to defend myself against this woman’s fake story?!” over a video clip of Carroll. He also authored several posts raging at the writer and U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan, who last week applied restrictions on what Trump and his lawyers could discuss during the trial—dubbing Carroll’s lawsuit “attempted extortion” in one and in others accusing Kaplan of hating him; and calling on the judge to “put this whole corrupt, Crooked Joe Biden-directed Election Interference attack on me immediately to rest.”

Trump also shared more than a dozen screenshots of what appear to be posts about sex from Carroll’s social media accounts.

“Trump’s Truth Social account is mass attacking E. Jean Carroll while he sits (phoneless) in court and prospective jurors are beginning to gather,” Politico’s Kyle Cheney wrote on X, citing Politico reporter Erica Orden.

“We’ll see what, if anything, Judge Kaplan has to say about this….” Orden added.

Last Wednesday, Kaplan barred Trump and his team from—among other matters—denying he sexually abused Carroll–holding that “the material facts concerning the alleged sexual assault already have been determined, and this trial will not be a ‘do over’ of the previous trial.”

Research contact: @Salon

Nikola founder Trevor Milton sentenced to four years in prison for defrauding investors

December 21, 2023

Nikola founder Trevor Milton was sentenced on Monday, December 18, to four years in prison for lying to investors about the company’s hydrogen and electric truck technology, reports CNN.

The sentence is significantly lower than the 11-year sentence federal prosecutors were seeking. Milton was facing up to 60 years behind bars if he was sentenced to the maximum penalty.

Trevor Milton lied to investors again and again—on social media, on television, on podcasts, and in print,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “But today’s sentence should be a warning to start-up founders and corporate executives everywhere—‘fake it till you make it’ is not an excuse for fraud, and if you mislead your investors, you will pay a stiff price.”

Milton also will turn over property in Utah and pay a $1 million fine, the Justice Department said in a news release. He will also face three years of supervised release after completing his prison sentence.

Milton’s legal team told CNN it had no comment on the sentence.

In October 2022, a New York jury convicted Milton on federal charges of securities fraud and wire fraud. Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York had accused Milton of making false and misleading statements about “nearly all aspects of the business” as it pertained to developing electric and hydrogen-powered trucks, as well as defrauding the public through social media and podcast interviews.

Nikola—a Phoenix-based automaker focused on developing semi-trucks vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology and electric batteries—was regarded as a competitor to Elon Musk’s Tesla when it first went public in 2020, and saw its share price skyrocket. That year, it also entered into a $2 billion dollar partnership deal with General Motors.

Allegations of investor fraud later avalanched into a federal probe, an indictment and a conviction.

“Among the retail investors who ultimately invested in Nikola were investors who had no prior experience in the stock market and had begun trading during the COVID-19 pandemic to replace or supplement lost income or to occupy their time while in lockdown,” the Department of Justice wrote in its indictment of Milton in 2021.

The case revolved, in part, around the Nikola One, a prototype of a hydrogen-powered semi-truck. According to prosecutors, Milton claimed the vehicle “fully functions and works, which is really incredible” even though it was missing important parts and systems, including motors and a control system.

In 2018, Milton posted a video on X, formerly known as Twitter, that showed the truck seemingly cruise down a flat road. But it was all smoke and mirrors, prosecutors say. “In fact, to film these clips, the Nikola One was towed to the top of a hill, at which point the ‘driver’ released the brakes, and the truck rolled down the hill until being brought to a stop in front of the stop sign,” the Department of Justice wrote in the release Monday.

Research contact: @CNN

Biden campaign targets two key battleground states with ads during Thanksgiving Day football game

November 23, 2023

The Biden campaign has drawn up a blitz of Thanksgiving Day advertisements in two key battleground states—airing a pair of TV spots during the Detroit Lions-Green Bay Packers NFL game this week, reports CNN.

Two ads highlighting President Joe Biden’s economic record will air during Thursday’s game in the Detroit and Milwaukee media markets, the campaign said in an announcement shared first with CNN.

It’s a move aimed at putting some points on the board with a general election audience, the campaign said, with the game “expected to reach 1.1 million adults over the age of 35 and 850,000 households in the Detroit market alone.”

As Republicans duke it out in the primary, Biden’s campaign is looking down field to next November—and voters in Michigan and Wisconsin where these ads are running will be critical to Biden’s electoral map.

In Michigan, Biden defeated Trump by 2.8 percentage points in 2020; while, in Wisconsin, Biden won by a narrower margin—6 percentage points.

But polling released earlier this month indicates Biden’s support could be slipping in those midwestern swing states. In a New York Times–Siena College poll of Michigan voters, 43% chose Biden, compared to 48% for Trump. In Wisconsin, Biden narrowly edged out Trump, 47% to 45%.

The Thanksgiving Day ad placement is part of the campaign’s $25 million ad buy announced in August and marks its latest play to reach battleground state voters during football games.

One of the ads discusses Biden’s middle-class upbringing in Scranton, Pennsylvania—making an argument that acknowledges ongoing economic strain. The ad, titled “Never Left” points to the president’s work to bring down costs on drug pricing, scale back health insurance premiums, and invest in clean energy to lower power costs. Another ad, titled “Finally,” highlights the administration’s efforts to lower prescription drug costs.

Biden, the narrator says in one ad, “knows what life is like for working people. And knows middle class life is too expensive right now.”

“For Joe Biden, it’s about restoring the sense of security working people deserve. That simple promise. That peace of mind. He’s determined to get it back – because of where he’s from and who he is,” the narrator says.

“This Thanksgiving as Americans come together, we are proud to highlight how President Biden and Vice President Harris are focused on the issues that matter most to American families and delivering real tangible results that are lowering costs for everyday Americans,” said Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez.

The Biden team kicked off this effort in September by running TV ads during the NFL season opener between the Detroit Lions and Kansas City Chiefs. Those ads ran in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

In all, the Biden campaign has made more than 90 ad placements around NFL and college football programing totaling more than $1.17 million dollars, a campaign official says.

Research contact: @CNN

Facebook, Instagram will allow political ads that claim the 2020 election was stolen

November 17, 2023

Meta will allow political ads on its platforms to question the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election—part of a rollback in election-related content moderation among major social media platforms over the past year ahead of the 2024 U.S. presidential contest, reports CNN.

The policy means that Metathe parent company of Facebook and Instagramwill be able to directly profit from political ads that boost false claims about the legitimacy of the 2020 election. While the company will allow political advertisements to claim that past elections, including the 2020 presidential race, were rigged, it will prohibit those that “call into question the legitimacy of an upcoming or ongoing election.”

The change is part of a year-old policy update but has not been widely reported. The Wall Street Journal reported that Meta’s ads policy had changed on Wednesday, November 15.

Meta says the policy allowing 2020 election denialism in political ads was part of an August 2022 announcement about its approach to last year’s midterm elections, when the company said it would prohibit ads targeting users in the United States, Brazil, Israel, and Italy that discourage people from voting, call into question the legitimacy of an upcoming or ongoing election, or prematurely claim an election victory.

That same month, Meta told The Washington Post that it would not remove posts from political candidates or regular users that claim voter fraud or that the 2020 election was rigged.

Meta’s broader electoral misinformation policy continues to prohibit content that could interfere with people’s ability to participate in voting or the census, such as false claims about the timing of an election, according to the company.

“We wish we could say we were surprised Meta is choosing to profit off of election denialism, but it seems to be a feature of theirs, not a bug,” TJ Ducklo, a representative for the Biden campaign, told CNN in a statement about Meta’s ad policy. “They amplified the lies behind the ‘stop the steal’ movement. Now they’re coming for its cash. Joe Biden won the election in 2020 clearly, unequivocally, and fairly—no matter what Meta choose to promote.”

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Biden campaign’s statement.

Seprately, Meta said earlier this month that it would require political advertisers around the world to disclose any use of artificial intelligence in their ads, starting next year, as part of a broader move to limit “deepfakes” and other digitally altered misleading content.

The company also said it would prohibit political advertisers from using the its new artificial intelligence tools, which help brands generate text, backgrounds, and other marketing content.

Research contact: @CNN

Trump parrots Hitler—calling foes ‘Vermin,’ saying critics will be ‘Crushed,’ envisioning ‘Detention Camps’

November 15, 2023

Former President Donald Trump said that his political opponents were the most pressing and pernicious threat facing America during a campaign event in New Hampshire on Saturday, November 12—and that he would root them out like vermin, reports The New York Times.

Trump’s campaign rejected criticism that he was echoing the language of fascist dictators Hitler and Mussolini—then doubled down: It said on Monday that the “sad, miserable existence” of those who made such comparisons would be “crushed” when Trump was back in the White House.

“Those who try to make that ridiculous assertion are clearly snowflakes grasping for anything because they are suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome,” a campaign spokesman, Steven Cheung, said, “and their sad, miserable existence will be crushed when President Trump returns to the White House.”

At the Saturday campaign event, Trump vowed to “root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.” He then said his political opposition was the most pr

“The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave than the threat from within,” Trump said. “Our threat is from within.”

What’s more, Trump said he is planning a widespread expansion of his first administration’s hardline immigration policies if he is elected to a second term in 2024, including rounding up undocumented immigrants already in the United States and placing them in detention camps to await deportation, a source familiar with the plans confirmed to CNN.

An earlier version of Cheung’s statement—in which he said the “entire existence” of those critics would be crushed—was reported by The Washington Post on Sunday. Cheung said on Monday that he edited his initial statement “seconds” after sending it, and the Post amended its article to include both versions.

Ammar Moussa, a spokesperson for President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign, said in a statement that Trump at his Veterans Day speech had “parroted the autocratic language” of “dictators many U.S. veterans gave their lives fighting, in order to defeat exactly the kind of un-American ideas Trump now champions.”

Though violent language was a feature of Trump’s last two campaigns, his speeches have grown more extreme as he tries to win a second term.

At recent rallies and events, Trump has compared immigrants coming over the border to Hannibal Lecter, the fictional serial killer and cannibal from the horror movie “The Silence of the Lambs.”

He called on shoplifters to be shot in a speech in California and, over the weekend in New Hampshire, he again called for drug dealers to be subject to the death penalty. He has insinuated that a military general whom he appointed as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should be executed for treason.

Last month, Trump told a right-wing website that migrants were “poisoning the blood of our country”—a phrase recalling white supremacist ideology and comments made by Hitler in his manifesto “Mein Kampf.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Watchdog group sues to block Trump from Colorado ballot, citing 14th Amendment

September 8, 2023

A Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group filed a lawsuit on Wednesday, September 6, to block former President Donald Trump from the 2024 Republican primary ballot in Colorado, citing the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurrectionists holding public office, reports CNN.

In recent weeks, a growing number of liberal and conservative legal scholars have embraced the longshot legal strategy. The lawsuit, from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), is the first high-profile legal case attempting to use the 14th Amendment to derail Trump’s presidential campaign.

Trump has denied wrongdoing regarding the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and said in a recent social media post that there is “no legal basis” to use the 14th Amendment to remove him from the ballot.

A post-Civil War provision of the 14th Amendment says any American official who takes an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution is disqualified from holding any future office if they “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or if they have “given aid or comfort” to insurrectionists.

However, the Constitution does not spell out how to enforce this ban and it has only been applied twice since the late 1800s, when it was used extensively against former Confederates.

The lawsuit was filed by CREW on behalf of six Colorado voters, whom the group says are Independents or Republicans, including former U.S. Representative Claudine Schneider and former Colorado Senate Majority Leader Norma Anderson, both Republicans.

Noah Bookbinder, president of CREW, told CNN’s Abby Phillip on “NewsNight” on Wednesday that the group chose Colorado because of its “courageous plaintiffs,” early position in the primaries, and laws.

“For all of those reasons we thought it was a good first stop. It won’t be the last stop and we and others will bring other cases as well,” he said.

CREW was behind the most successful application of the so-called “disqualification clause.” A convicted January 6 rioter who was also an elected New Mexico county commissioner was removed from office last year on 14th Amendment grounds through a different but related legal mechanism that was initiated by CREW.

The nonprofit group on Wednesday sued Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold in state court and asked a judge to issue an order “declaring Trump disqualified under the Fourteenth Amendment” and barring Griswold “from taking any action that would allow him to access the ballot.”

“Because Trump swore an oath to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ the Constitution upon assuming the Office of the President on January 20, 2017—and then engaged in insurrection against the Constitution on and around January 6, 2021—he is disqualified under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment from ‘hold[ing] any office … under the United States,’ including the Office of the President,” the lawsuit says.

Griswold, a Democrat, said in a statement that she believes Colorado state law is “unclear” on how to review constitutional requirements for “whether a candidate is eligible for office” and that the newly filed lawsuit will provide critical legal guidance.

“I look forward to the Colorado Court’s substantive resolution of the issues and am hopeful that this case will provide guidance to election officials on Trump’s eligibility as a candidate for office,” Griswold said.

The GOP primary in Colorado is on March 5, which is Super Tuesday. Trump’s federal criminal trial on charges stemming from his efforts to overturn the 2020 election is scheduled to begin March 4. He has pleaded not guilty.

Research contact: @CNN

Reese Witherspoon sells her fashion brand, Draper James

September 7, 2023

Private equity group Consortium Brand Partners announced on Wednesday, September 6, that it has acquired actress Reese Witherspoon’s fashion and lifestyle brand, Draper James, through a majority stake, reports CNN.

According to the deal, Consortium Brand Partners acquired a 70% stake in the company for an undisclosed amount while Witherspoon remains a partner and board member in the business.

The Oscar-winning actress, producer, and entrepreneur launched the retail brand inspired by her Southern roots in 2015 as a direct-to-consumer business selling clothing in bright hues and bold prints, as well as accessories and home items.

As the business grew, the brand subsequently opened three retail locations and entered Kohl’s nationwide and kohls.com through an exclusive partnership in 2022.

Following the deal, Consortium Brand Partners said Draper James products would continue to sell online on the company’s website and at its three retail stores and in Kohl’s.

In the future, the private equity group said, consumers could expect to see Draper James merchandise expand into the big box home improvement space, department stores, pet store chains, and overseas.

“Draper James was inspired by a deep personal connection to my roots, my family, and the women who shaped me. It’s been so amazing to see so many women connect with this brand, our products, and our mission to bring a little southern joy into everyone’s homes and wardrobes,” Witherspoon said in a statement. “We are excited to join forces with the team at Consortium, who understand our vision as a company and the importance of our community.”

The sale of Draper James comes two years after Witherspoon sold her media company, Hello Sunshine, in 2021 for more than $900 million to a media company backed by the private-equity firm Blackstone.

Hello Sunshine was behind several of the actress’ TV projects, such as “Big Little Lies,” “Little Fires Everywhere” and “The Morning Show.” The business also includes Reese’s Book Club. Witherspoon launched the company in 2016 as a joint venture with AT&T.

Research contact: @CNN