Posts tagged with "MSNBC"

‘Lawyers are giggling’: Attorneys scratch their heads at Trump’s ‘very strange’ DOJ lawsuit

Augusst 24, 2022

On Monday, August 22, former President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit demanding the return of documents seized by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago—arguing that the feds did not have sufficient reason for the raid, even though they found 300 classified documents at Trump’s home, according to The New York Times.

Indeed, Salon reports, the FBI recovered more than 300 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago in three batches over the last eight months, according to the report. Trump only turned over 150 of the documents to the National Archives in January, prompting the Justice Department to investigate whether he withheld some materials.

boxes included documents from the CIA, National Security Agency, and FBI across a “variety of topics of national security interest,” according to the report.

Trump rifled through the boxes of documents late last year as officials were attempting to recover them, sources told the outlet. Surveillance footage obtained by the DOJ also showed people “moving boxes … and in some cases, appearing to change the containers some documents were held in,” according to the report. Trump resisted demands to return the documents, describing them as “mine,” sources told the Times.

Earlier this year, Trump attorney Christina Bobb signed a declaration that all classified material had been returned, which ultimately led to the FBI’s unprecedented raid on Trump’s residence to recover documents that he withheld after the first three recovery attempts.

Andrew Weissmann, a former federal prosecutor who served on special counsel Bob Mueller’s team, called the report “incredibly damning” for Trump, noting that the report suggests the former president personally reviewed the documents to decide what to return.

“If you are a prosecutor, you really look for evidence of what the former president did personally,” he told MSNBC. “If the DOJ either knows about or is soon to interview those people who were sources for The New York Times, they’re going to have a substantial criminal case.”

Despite the mounting evidence that Trump’s actions may have run afoul of federal laws governing classified materials and document preservation, Trump filed a lawsuit on Monday arguing that the feds have “failed to legitimize its historic decision” to raid his home.

The lawsuit called for a court to appoint a special master, a third party who is typically a former judge, to review whether some materials may be protected by attorney-client privilege or other guidelines. The lawsuit seeks the return of documents the FBI seized in the raid.

“This Mar-a-Lago Break-In, Search, and Seizure was illegal and unconstitutional, and we are taking all actions necessary to get the documents back, which we would have given to them without the necessity of the despicable raid of my home, so that I can give them to the National Archives until they are required for the future Donald J. Trump Presidential Library and Museum,” Trump said in a statement on Monday.

The lawsuit argues that the raid was politically motivated, claiming that Trump is the “clear frontrunner” in the 2024 election “should he decide to run.”

The lawsuit accuses the feds of violating Trump’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure and asks that the court block “further review of seized material” until they are reviewed by a special master.

The DOJ said it would file a response in court.

“The August 8 search warrant at Mar-a-Lago was authorized by a federal court upon the required finding of probable cause,” DOJ spokesperson Anthony Coley told CNBC.

Research contact: @Salon

Trump committed ‘serious’ crime, if found to have used IRS as weapon, says Lawrence Tribe

July 11, 2022

A top legal expert has suggested it is “no coincidence” that former  FBI  Director  James Comey  and former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe—both of whom were both fired by former President Donald Trump—were selected for a rare and intensive audit by the Internal Revenue Service, reports Newsweek.

Comey and McCabe both were subjected to random tax audits in 2017 and 2019, respectively.

However, as noted by The New York Times, the odds of being selected for the audit is around one in 30,600, raising questions on the likelihood that two high-ranking FBI officials who were previously fired by Trump, and that the former wanted to prosecute, both happened to be chosen.

Responding to the news, Laurence Tribe, professor emeritus of Constitutional Law at Harvard University, dismissed the idea that both men were randomly selected and implied that Trump may have been using the IRS as a weapon against his foes.

“This kind of political targeting is a serious federal crime. No coincidence, for sure. Odds are 30,000 to 1,” Tribe tweeted.

Joe Scarborough, the co-host of  Morning Joe on MSNBC, who previously worked as an attorney, also suggested: “Did Trump use IRS to target Comey and McCabe? Looks like it.”

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, who was appointed by Trump in 2018, declined to comment. The agency later said he had no role in selecting those subjected to the intensive audit.

 “As IRS commissioner, he has never been in contact with the White House — in either administration—on IRS enforcement or individual taxpayer matters,” the statement said. “He has been committed to running the IRS. in an impartial, unbiased manner from top to bottom.”

“It just defies logic to think that there wasn’t some other factor involved,” McCabe told CNN. “I think that’s a reasonable question. I think it should be investigated. People need to be able to trust the institutions of government and so that’s why there should be some… we should dig through this and find out what happened.”

In a statement, Comey added: “I don’t know whether anything improper happened, but after learning how unusual this audit was and how badly Trump wanted to hurt me during that time, it made sense to try to figure it out.

“Maybe it’s a coincidence or maybe somebody misused the IRS to get at a political enemy. Given the role Trump wants to continue to play in our country, we should know the answer to that question.”

When asked about the audits, Trump, via a spokesperson, told the Times: “I have no knowledge of this.” Trump has been contacted for further comment.

Research contact: @Newsweek

GOP Rep scrambles after thanking Trump for a win for ‘white life’

June 28, 2022

There’s no great mystery as to when Representative Rodney Davis (R-Illinois) fell out of favor with the far-right. The House took up a bipartisan bill to create an independent January 6 commission, and the Davis was one of several GOP lawmakers to support it.

When redistricting in the state pushed Davis into a primary against fellow Representative Mary Miller (R-Illinois), Donald Trump backed the congresswoman, whom he saw as a more reliable ally. Indeed, the former president even held a rally in Illinois on Saturday, June 25, and Miller was invited to introduce Trump at the event.

And that’s when the trouble started. MSNBC  reports:

U.S. Rep. Mary Miller immediately drew fierce backlash on social media and elsewhere at a Saturday night rally with former President Donald Trump when she credited him for the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade calling it a “victory for white life.”

Ordinarily, at Trump rallies, it’s the former president who makes outrageous and offensive comments. This time, Miller’s rhetoric eclipsed anything he said at the gathering.

As a video of the event showed, the Illinois congresswoman said, with Trump right behind her, “I want to thank you for the historic victory for white life in the Supreme Court yesterday.” She then raised her arms to applaud, soliciting cheers from attendees, which soon followed.

It wasn’t long before a spokesperson for Miller insisted that she simply misspoke while reading from a prepared text. She meant to reference a “victory for right to life,” and instead pointed to a “victory for white life.”

Miller’s track record doesn’t exactly make it easy to give her the benefit of the doubt. Early last year, on literally her second day as a member of Congress, the Illinois Republican spoke at a conservative “Save the Republic” rally.

“Each generation has the responsibility to teach and train the next generation,” Miller said. “You know, if we win a few elections, we’re still going to be losing, unless we win the hearts and minds of our children. This is the battle. Hitler was right on one thing: He said, ‘Whoever has the youth, has the future.’ Our children are being propagandized.”

Initially, her office defended the comments, but when that proved unpersuasive, the GOP lawmaker apologized for approvingly quoting Hitler.

It was against this backdrop that the same Republican appeared at a Trump rally and accidentally thanked the former president for delivering a “victory for white life.”

Those in attendance for the rally nevertheless heard what the congresswoman actually said, and they found it worthy of applause.

Research contact: @MSNBC

Jen Psaki to join MSNBC as on-air contributor this fall

May 25, 2022

Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki  is joining cable news channel MSNBC as an on-air contributor and will also host a new program for Peacock, the NBCUniversal streaming platform, the network announced on May 24.

Psaki, who stepped down from her role as chief spokesperson for President Joe Biden earlier this month, joins a long list of White House officials who have taken jobs on cable news after leaving government, reports The Wall Street Journal.

CNN and Fox News also have served as landing spots for political operatives and government officials—among them, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who served as a CNN political commentator during part of the 2016 campaign; and former Trump White House press secretaries Sarah Sanders  and Kayleigh McEnany, both of whom immediately joined Fox News . (Sanders is no longer with the network.)

Before joining the Biden administration, Psaki was a contributor for CNN—and before that, she served in President Barack Obama’s administration.

MSNBC President Rashida Jones said that Psaki is “a familiar face and trusted authority to MSNBC viewers, and we look forward to her insight during this consequential election season.”

Psaki said in a statement that her time in government “will fuel the insight and perspective” she will bring to MSNBC.

The network didn’t disclose many details of the program Psaki would host for Peacock, which is scheduled to debut early next year. In its statement, MSNBC said it would “bring together her unique perspective from behind the podium and her deep experience in the highest levels of government and presidential politics.”

Psaki was succeeded at the White House by Karine Jean-Pierre, herself a former MSNBC contributor.

Research contact: @WSJ

Adam Schiff explains why Trump’s pardon promise is ‘very important evidence’

February 4, 2022

Representative Adam Schiff (D-California) says former President Donald Trump’s dangling of the prospect of pardons for the U.S. Capital rioters is “very important evidence as to his intent” for the violence unleashed by his supporters on January 6, 2021, reports HuffPost.

Schiff, a member of the House select committee investigating the insurrection, suggested on MSNBC on Wednesday, February 2, that Trump’s comments at a weekend rally were part of a broader pattern of using pardons to influence and intimidate witnesses.

“I think his recent statements, as well as the public reports of prior inquiries about pardoning people involved in attacking the Capitol police that day, they go to a couple of things,” Schiff told anchor Lawrence O’Donnell, referencing new reports Trump considered blanket pardons for the rioters before he left office.

“They go to his intent,” Schiff opined. “If this violence against the Capitol wasn’t part of the plan, or wasn’t something he condoned, then why would he consider pardoning them?”

“So, I think it’s very important evidence as to his intent. But it also is I think part of that broader pattern … to influence potentially what witnesses have to say, or whether they will say it,” he added.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Judge rejects plea deal between DOJ and at least one of Ahmaud Arbery’s killers

February 2, 2022

A federal judge on Monday rejected a proposed plea agreement between federal prosecutors and at least one of the men who has been convicted of the February 23, 2020, pursuit and murder of Ahmaud Arbery—a 25-year-old Black man who was jogging in Satilla Shores, a neighborhood in Glynn County, Georgia.

According to a report by MSNBC, U.S. District Judge Lisa Wood rejected the plea deal after hearing remarks from members of Arbery’s family, who vehemently opposed the agreement.

Plea deals were filed in court on Sunday, January 30, on behalf of father Gregory McMichael and son Travis McMichael—both of whom were convicted of murder last November and sentenced to life without parole. Another trial—the federal trial of the McMichaels and accomplice William Bryan—is set to begin on February. 7.

The proposed plea deals defied the wishes of Arbery’s parents, who have repeatedly spoken out against the government’s pursuit of lighter sentences for their son’s killers instead of going to trial. Benjamin Crump and Lee Merritt, attorneys representing Arbery’s family, denounced the deal in a statement Sunday. 

“This proposed deal would allow the McMichaels to enter federal custody and serve the first 30 years of their sentence in a preferred federal prison,” Merritt said in a statement. “This proposed plea is a huge accommodation to the men who hunted down and murdered Ahmaud Arbery.” 

Merritt told CNN the proposed deal would allow the McMichaels to serve time in a safer, less-crowded facility than they would otherwise. In a separate video statement, he called the proposed deals “an example of the Department of Justice literally snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”

Arbery’s mother, Wanda Jones-Cooper, said she had been “completely betrayed” by federal prosecutors.

“The DOJ has gone behind my back to offer the men who murdered my son a deal to make their time in prison easier for them to serve,” she said in a statement. “I have made it clear at every possible moment that I do not agree to offer these men a plea deal of any kind.”

Merritt said Jones-Cooper would exercise her right to be heard at two scheduled plea hearings for the killers on Monday.

Although a judge ultimately rejected at least one of the plea agreements, news that they were even offered to the McMichaels is a difficult pill to swallow for Black people accustomed to seeing white criminals and would-be criminals given preferential treatment.

Research contact: @MSNBC

Brian Williams turns down CBS News’ attempt to recruit him for the ‘Evening News’

January 26, 2022

Brian Williams doesn’t want to anchor the CBS Evening News, reports CNN.

Just years ago, in 2015, the notion that Williams would be rebuffing an offer to helm one of the big three nightly news programs would have been unfathomable, the news source says. His reputation was in ruins for embellishing his stories as a journalist. He was booted from NBC Nightly News and accepted what was then a significant demotion to MSNBC.

But the tide has since turned.

Williams, who hosted the popular 11th Hour program on MSNBC during the Trump era, has largely rehabilitated his image. Now, he is in demand. And after departing NBC when his contract expired late last year, he’s a free agent for the first time in decades. That free agent status has translated into Williams fielding proposals.

One such proposal floated to him, according to three people familiar with the matter, was to anchor the CBS Evening News. According to the sources CNN spoke with, CBS News president and co-head Neeraj Khemlani recently tried to recruit Williams for the network’s flagship evening news program. Two of the sources said that Khemlani, who assumed his role less than a year ago and has been working to poach talent, tried at least twice. But it was to no avail.

Williams, the sources noted, simply isn’t interested in the evening news job—which says a lot about not only Williams’ turn-of-fortune, but also the diminishing allure of anchoring a nightly broadcast news program, once considered to be one of the most prestigious positions in journalism.

The revelation that CBS execs attempted to recruit Williams for the “Evening News” doesn’t look all too great for Norah O’Donnell, who has anchored the show since 2019 and has been unable to move the program out of its third-place position.

Publicly, the network has supported O’Donnell. When the New York Post reported in October that she was in danger of losing her anchor spot, Khemlani went on the record to the tabloid and praised O’Donnell. And on Monday, when asked about whether she will stay in the anchor chair, Khemlani lauded her ratings and said that CBS has “no current plans to change” what it is doing.

But, according to CNN, all of this begs the question: If CBS is so happy with O’Donnell, whose current contract is said to be up soon, why have they shopped her job to others?

“CBS News is overhauling its streaming news channel with a new name and a slate of programs presented by its big-name anchors that taps into the division’s legacy,” the Los Angeles Times’ Steve Battaglio wrote Monday. “The ViacomCBS unit is announcing today that the free ad-supported channel, known as CBSN since its launch in 2014, will become CBS News Streaming. It will integrate the division’s broadcast franchises into the channel—a shift in strategy, as it previously relied heavily on a cadre of lesser-known anchors.”

Two of those anchors are O’Donnell and Gayle King. “Khemlani would not comment on the contract status of King and O’Donnell, whose deals are up this year,” wrote Battaglio, who interviewed Khemlani for his story. “Their futures have been the subject of TV news industry speculation. Including them in an announcement for two high-profile shows suggests they likely will remain at the network.”

Khemlani is quoted  by Battaglio, “I will tell you that Gayle and Norah and Tony Dokoupil—and anchors and reporters across the board—are showing enormous leadership in terms of contribution to the service, and they are the pace cars for the entire division,” “We’re thrilled we can tap into people of that caliber and not have separate teams across the board…”

Research contact: @CNN

Truth will out: Trump’s lawsuit against niece could be huge mistake that makes all his NDAs ‘worthless’

September 24, 2021

Former President Donald Trump’s latest lawsuit may blow up in his face, Trump biographer and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston explained on MSNBC on Wednesday, September 22, Raw Story reports.

NBC News confirms Donald Trump sued The New York Times, as well as his own niece, Mary Trump, over a 2018 report that shattered him as a self-made billionaire,” anchor Joy Reid stated.

“Legal experts also say Trump should be careful what he’s wishing for — he’s staking the claim on a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that may not hold up under scrutiny,” Reid noted. “And that scrutiny is sure to entail multiple depositions under oath, which he might want to avoid.”

For analysis, Reid interviewed Johnston, who is the author of the 2016 book,  The Making of Donald Trump;  and the 2018 book,  It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America.

“I feel like this is a giant tell by Trump that he’s really, really angry that he was exposed for the brokeness that really engulfs him,” Reid said. “Your thoughts?”

“Well, this is another gambit by Donald to stay in front of his dwindling supporters,” Johnston replied. “They haven’t dwindled much, but they are starting to dwindle.”

“He needs to raise money, he’s become America’s beggar-in-chief,” he continued. “And there is no case here against The Times—and my law school students are going to examine this case, I assure you, in the spring semester.”

Johnston described the two problems Trump created with his lawsuit.

“One is discovery and being questioned under oath, but the second one is the courts have held basically that Mary Trump can’t be stopped by the non-disclosure agreement,” he explained.

“She may suffer civil penalties if Donald Trump wants to sue her over it, but we could end up with a court decision that says all your NDAs are worthless.”

“That would be interesting,” Reid replied.

Research contact: @RawStory

White House warns states of potentially dire effects if government defaults

September 20, 2021

The White House is warning states that a default caused by failing to raise the federal debt limit could result in drastic cutbacks to disaster relief, Medicaid reimbursement, school funding, and other programs, reports CNN.

“If the US defaults and can no longer pay its obligations, billions of dollars in state aid and state-run but federal funded programs could be halted,” the White House warns in a fact sheet for local and state officials.

Preident Joe Biden has demanded that Republicans join Democrats in raising the debt ceiling, but so far, GOP lawmakers have resisted. The memo comes as Democratic leaders are seriously considering adding a debt limit increase to the stopgap funding bill.

A final decision on whether to make that move must come by Monday, September 20, when the House Rules Committee is slated to take up the short-term continuing resolution, or CR, to keep the government open past September 30. If Democrats add the debt limit hike to the CR, it will set up a showdown vote days before the shutdown deadline, since Senate Republicans are vowing to block it.

According to CNN, the U.S. Treasury has said extraordinary measures to avoid default will run out by October.

The memo outlines several key programs that would be halted if Congress fails to the Children’s Health Insurance Program, infrastructure funding, education, public healthcare, and child nutrition.

The memo also warned that “hitting the debt ceiling could cause a recession,” suggesting, “Economic growth would falter, unemployment would rise, and the labor market could lose millions of jobs.”

“If the U.S. defaults on its debt, cities and states could experience a double-whammy: falling revenues and no federal aid as long as Congress refuses to raise or suspend the debt limit. This means critical state services will be at risk for budget cuts, from education to healthcare to pensions,” the White House said.

It also warns that capital market volatility “could affect state assets,” which could impact state pension payout obligations.

The White House expressed confidence the matter would be resolved, but declined to say how.

“We have seen this done in a bipartisan way consistently. And the best way to do this is without a lot of drama, without a lot of self-inflicted harm to the economy and to our country. And that’s what we’re going to do, you know, there’s a lot of posturing on this issue, but we’re confident at the end of the day we’ll get this done,” National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said Friday, September 17, on MSNBC.

Research contact: @CNN

Trump’s claims of ‘tax genius’ may undermine his legal defense of ‘ignorance’

July 8, 2021

Former President Donald Trump has claimed for years to be “a master of the tax code.” But now—faced with charges leveled against the Trump Organization and its CFO, Allen Weisselberg, by New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr.—Trump is going with a legal defense of ignorance.

Experts say his past comments may be his undoing, The Daily Beast reports.

Faced with an indictment of his family’s business empire for criminal tax fraud, former President Donald Trump previewed a defense strategy—of sorts—last weekend: ignorance of the law.

“I don’t even know. Does anybody know the answer to that stuff?” he shrugged on Saturday, July 3, in front of adoring fans at a political rally in Sarasota, Florida.

The twice-impeached former president’s remarks provoked a flurry of reactions from some legal commentators and pundits, who saw a besieged client running his mouth in public, and potentially undermining his legal team’s carefully manicured strategies.

But Trump wasn’t so much upturning his legal defense as much as he was delivering his sloppy rendition of it, The Daily Beast says.

According to two people familiar with the matter, lawyers representing him and the Trump Organization are preparing to include this very point in court arguments, given how much the specific intent of an individual matters in areas of New York tax law.

And yet, former prosecutors and defense lawyers who have tried criminal tax cases in New York City told The Daily Beast that Trump, his family, and company executives face a steep hill—and it’s mostly due to Trump himself.

“To a certain extent, not knowing the law is a defense… It’s one of the only defenses in a case like this,” said Tess Cohen, a former New York prosecutor. “But I have trouble believing that’ll get very far.”

That’s because, for years, Trump has called himself “king of the tax code.”

“Nobody knows the tax code better than I do… I’m like a student of the tax code,” he said during a 60 Minutes interview in 2015. He repeated that sentiment on MSNBC and later told supporters in Tampa: “I know more about taxes than any human being that God ever created.”

Trump’s attorney Ronald Fischetti did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

Should this investigation make its way to trial, prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney and New York State attorney general would certainly want to question Trump under oath for hours, legal scholars said. The result would be “devastating” for his defense, said Carl Bornstein, a former New York prosecutor who now teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

“Those prior inconsistent statements will undermine his claim of lack of knowledge on cross-examination,” he said.

Behind the scenes, the ex-president has insisted that New York prosecutors are out to hurt his business and to try to poison the Trump Organization’s dealings with other companies. In the past few weeks, Trump has encouraged people close to him to publicly claim that his family business is thriving, according to two people familiar with his request.

In recent private conversations, the former president has lamented that further investigation into him and others at the Trump Organization could potentially stretch on for years, adding to his hefty and growing pile of legal bills.

As Trump continues to weigh running for president again in 2024, any increased pressure or potential indictments from New York prosecutors could hobble another lengthy campaign. Still, several longtime advisers to Trump have reassured him that the vast core of Republican voters will not abandon him, should he choose to run again, and that the probes in his home state merely reinforce their devotion.

“The numbers don’t change. Rock solid,” John McLaughlin, who worked as one of Trump’s top pollsters during the 2016 and 2020 campaigns, said, citing his own recent polling data. “Attacks on President Trump galvanize his base.”

When the IRS hunts someone down for refusing to pay taxes, government lawyers don’t have to show intent. But this legal battle is taking place in New York, where state laws require prosecutors to prove that someone was “willfully engaging” in tax fraud.

It’s a higher bar, but not an insurmountable one—especially when it seems that investigators have specific documents that would indicate a concerted effort to conceal the truth.

The 25-page indictment says investigators have “internal spreadsheets” that show exactly how unreported perks replaced employee income, Cohen, the former New York prosecutor, noted.

“Simultaneously, the Trump Organization reduced the amount of direct compensation that Weisselberg received in the form of checks or direct deposits to account for the indirect compensation that he received in the form of payments of rent, utility bills, and garage expenses,” the indictment claims.

“You can’t get much better evidence than that,” Cohen said.

Research contact: @thedailybeast