Posts tagged with "The Daily Beast"

‘Daily Beast’ exclusive: Trump boasted about sex with Stormy in Tahoe, athlete says

May 29, 2024

Donald Trump boasted about having sex with adult film star Stormy Daniels at the 2006 golf tournament where the two met, a celebrity athlete who played the tournament has said in an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast.

The athlete also told The Daily Beast that a decade later, in the run-up to the 2016 election, he received anonymous calls from strangers asking what he remembered of the weekend.

Stormy Daniels says she told confidantes at the time that she had sex with Trump  and has told her story repeatedly since. Trump has repeatedly denied having sex with Daniels.

Nonetheless, hush-money payments to Daniels around the 2016 election gave rise to the 34 felony counts of falsification of business records for which Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, is now on trial in New York.

However, Trump passed up the opportunity to deny sex with Daniels under oath. On Tuesday, May 28, lawyers for the former president and for the prosecution made closing arguments. The first former president ever criminally indicted, Trump could face jail if found guilty.

The celebrity athlete, who spoke to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity, citing fear of harassment or retaliation, said he was close to Trump and Daniels while they socialized at the 2006 American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe.

Although Trump sometimes referred to Daniels indirectly as a “porn star,” the athlete said, he emphasized that it was understood among the golfers who heard the boasts that Trump, at the time best-known as the host of reality TV show The Apprentice, was saying he had slept with Daniels.

“It was clear to me and everyone who heard him that he was talking about Stormy,” the athlete said, adding that Trump encouraged other celebs to try to have sex with Daniels—behavior the athlete described as “crass,” “gross,” and “stupid.”

“He’d say all these things like, ‘You’ve gotta bang a porn star, it’s incredible,’ and, ‘It added 20 yards to my drive today,’” the athlete told The Daily Beast.

The athlete said he has not shared his story widely, and that prosecutors never approached him. His account appears to be the first publicly reported description of Trump telling people he had sex with Daniels around the time Daniels says he did.

In the hush-money trial that is wrapping up now. while Daniels’ allegation was an important plank for Manhattan prosecutors who spent the last seven weeks building a criminal case against Trump, it wasn’t central to the charges.

District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg charged the former president for allegedly falsifying business records in service of covering up another crime—an alleged attempt to keep a lid on the $130,000 Trump’s former personal “fixer” Michael Cohen illegally paid Daniels the week before Election Day in 2016, thereby to keep the story from voters and boost Trump’s chances.

In Full Disclosure, her 2018 memoir, Daniels described her alleged liaison with Trump as “the least impressive sex I’d ever had.” In court this month, she dished out salacious testimony—saying Trump had been “blocking the way” out of the bedroom, and claiming she “blacked out” during sex; although she clarified that she had not felt “threatened verbally or physically.”

At the time, Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, was nursing their newborn son, Barron Trump.

Daniels entered a non-disclosure agreement with Trump in 2016 but had previously described the alleged sexual encounter in a 2007 radio appearance—without naming Trump—and then more fully in a 2011 interview for In Touch magazine, when Trump was considering a White House run. Six years after giving her version of events in her memoir, Daniels testified to it in court this month.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Kennedy kin make RFK Jr. disgust official and endorse Biden

April  19, 2024

More than a dozen members of the Kennedy family will officially endorse Joe Biden for president on Wednesday, April 24—forsaking their own family member, Independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The family plans to gather with Biden in Philadelphia, where they will make calls and knock on doors on the president’s behalf, reports The Daily Beast.

In addition, according to a draft of Kerry Kennedy’s remarks reviewed by The Daily Beast, she plans to denounce Donald Trump as a threat to America’s “most basic rights and freedoms.”

“We can say today, with no less urgency, that our rights and freedoms are once again in peril,” her prepared comments say. “That is why we all need to come together in a campaign that should unite not only Democrats, but all Americans, including Republicans, and Independents, who believe in what Lincoln called ‘the better angels of our nature.’”

Other members of the Kennedy clan backing Biden include Rory Kennedy, Joe Kennedy III, Ted Kennedy Jr., and Christopher Kennedy.

The family has previously rebuked RFK Jr. for disseminating conspiracy theories. In July, after he suggested that COVID-19 may have be

“My uncle’s comments were hurtful and wrong. I unequivocally condemn what he said,” said Joe Kennedy III, who serves as special envoy to Northern Ireland for economic affairs.

Joe Kennedy II echoed that sentiment, saying in a statement, “Bobby’s comments are morally and factually wrong. They play on antisemitic myths and stoke mistrust of the Chinese. His remarks in no way reflect the words and actions of our father, Robert F. Kennedy.”

RFK Jr. insisted that his remarks were taken out of context and has maintained that the family remains close despite their public dust-ups.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Judge recommends that John Eastman be disbarred for 2020 election BS

March 29, 2024

On Wednesday, March 27, a judge recommended that John Eastman–a now-infamous former lawyer for former President Donald Trump during the chaotic final days of his presidential term–be disbarred in California as the result of a case centered around his desperate attempts to overturn the 2020 election in Trump’s favor, reports The Daily Beast.

“Eastman’s wrongdoing constitutes exceptionally serious ethical violations warranting severe professional discipline,” the court states in its decision.

Eastman, 63, can no longer practice law in California, unless he wins an appeal. The decision from Judge Yvette Roland means his law license will now be deemed “inactive” until a decision on whether he will appeal or not. The move to an inactive status comes into effect three calendar days after the order is served. Absent a challenge, the recommendation goes to the California Supreme Court for review, the State Bar of California said.

On Wednesday night, a lawyer for Eastman confirmed his plans to appeal, which means the case will go before a panel of judges before making its way to the state Supreme Court. His law license will remain inactive during the appeals process.

In a statement, Eastman’s attorney, Randall Miller, told The Daily Beast that his client “maintains that his handling of the legal issues he was asked to assess after November 2020 election was based on reliable legal precedent, prior presidential elections, research of constitutional text, and extensive scholarly material.”

“The process undertaken by Dr. Eastman in 2020 is the same process taken by lawyers every day and everywhere–indeed, that is the essence of what lawyers do,” the statement continued, noting Eastman also faces criminal charges in Georgia alongside Trump and will continue to plead his innocence.

“Any reasonable person can see the inherent unfairness of prohibiting a presumed-innocent defendant from being able to earn the funds needed to pay for the enormous expenses required to defend himself, in the profession in which he has long been licensed,” Miller said. “That is not justice and serves no legitimate purpose to protect the public.”

Defending the win in court, Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona said in a statement after the ruling that, “Every California attorney has the duty to uphold the constitution and the rule of law. [Mr.] Eastman repeatedly violated that duty. Worse, he did so in a way that threatened the fundamental principles of our democracy.

 “The substantial evidence presented over 35 days of trial showed, and the court has now held, that … Eastman abandoned his ethical and legal duties as an attorney to conspire with then-President Donald Trump to develop and implement a strategy to obstruct the counting of electoral votes on January 6, 2021; and illegally disrupt the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joseph Biden, knowing that there was no good faith theory or argument to lawfully reject the electoral votes of any state or delay the January 6 electoral count.

“[Mr.] Eastman’s efforts failed only because our democratic institutions and those committed to upholding them held strong. The harm caused by … Eastman’s abandonment of his duties as a lawyer, and the threat his actions posed to our democracy, more than warrant his disbarment.”

The ruling came four months after a judge in the California State Bar Court found Eastman culpable for moral and legal violations that stemmed from his work for Trump.

Eastman was the author of a so-called “coup memo,” which laid out a long-shot plot explaining how, despite soundly losing to Biden in 2020, Trump could remain in office.

That memo leaned hard on the fringe legal theory that Mike Pence, then the vice president, had the unilateral authority to reject certified state electors and send the matter back to Republican-led state legislatures, who would then throw the election to Trump. The questionable legal theory sparked a firestorm among Trump’s die-hard supporters, who then put pressure on Pence to ignore the will of the people and nullify the election.

Pence refused to do so—an act that’s been cited as a key reason Trump supporters raided the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Eastman has since been indicted alongside Trump in Fulton County, Georgia, on charges related to his attempts to alter election results. In the aftermath of that indictment, Eastman decried that Trump’s lawyers were being unfairly targeted for their role in trying to overturn the election.

In a statement, he said last August that he surrendered to Georgia authorities for “an indictment that should never have been brought.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Trump gets hit with sweeping gag order in hush money trial

March 28, 2024

Former President Donald Trump’s upcoming hush money trial in New York hit the former president with a gag order on Tuesday, March 26, just one day after Trump peddled a conspiracy theory about a prosecutor—and hours after the tycoon leveled attacks against the judge’s daughter, reports The Daily Beast.

New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan forbade Trump from speaking publicly about line prosecutors and court staff—or even their family members. He also subjected Trump to the same sorts of precautionary warnings the former president has faced from other judges in separate cases, ordering him to not even mention any prospective jurors.

However, a person familiar with the Trump team’s internal discussions told The Daily Beast they believe the gag order does not extend to the judge’s daughter. Merchan’s order only mentions the family members of “court staff.”

The snap decision was made on the heels of Trump’s anger-laden press conference yesterday at his 40 Wall Street building in downtown Manhattan, where the former president lashed out after suffering a minor loss in court when Merchan set his criminal trial—Trump’s first ever—to start on April 15.

When answering reporter’s questions, Trump attacked lead prosecutor Matt Colangelo, an unelected assistant district attorney for New York County. Colangelo worked on investigations against Trump while at the New York Attorney General’s Office; then, did a brief stint at the Department of Justice, only to return to the city to join the Manhattan District Attorney’s current case against Trump.

The former president seized on those details to surmise—without any proof—that Colangelo was somehow sent by President Joe Biden, Trump’s 2024 presidential rival, to bolster the local DA’s case.Att

The outlandish claim was a continuation of Trump’s long-espoused view that any law enforcement action against him is part of a shadowy “deep state” seeking to keep him from power.

Then on Tuesday morning, Trump shifted his followers’ focus to the judge himself—drawing attention to the judge’s own daughter.

“Judge Juan Merchan, a very distinguished looking man, is nevertheless a true and certified Trump Hater who suffers from a very serious case of Trump Derangement Syndrome. In other words, he hates me! His daughter is a senior executive at a Super Liberal Democrat firm that works for Adam “Shifty” Schiff, the Democrat National Committee, (Dem)Senate Majority PAC, and even Crooked Joe Biden,” Trump posted on his Truth Social media site.

This type of judicial decree is rare and seen as heavy-handed in a regular case, but Trump’s incessant attacks on the judicial system and his ability to rally his MAGA supporters has proven to be a unique threat that has flooded government offices with violent threats in the past two years.

In a separate matter in January, the final day of Trump’s three-month bank fraud trial was nearly derailed when a bomb threat was made targeting the home of Justice Arthur Engoron, who had overseen that case. Earlier, Trump loyalists left menacing phone calls at his chambers threatening physical violence against the judge and his law clerk, the attorney Allison Greenfield.

In the Manhattan District Attorney’s ongoing case against Trump, the former president has been launching personal attacks against DA Alvin Bragg Jr. from even before the moment a grand jury indicted him for faking business records in a scheme to cover up a hush money payment to the porn star Stormy Daniels.

Trump infamously posted a doctored photo of himself wielding a bat while standing ominously behind the DA—an image that was widely interpreted as intimidation.

Early on in the DA’s case, Justice Merchan took on a measured tone in court when he cautioned Trump’s lawyers against taking any actions that could be perceived as intimidating. He also strictly limited what the former president’s legal defense team could do with the information contained in the thousands of pages it received as evidence from the DA’s office—blocking defense lawyers from leaking any details that could compromise the case or lead to attacks against witnesses.

Merchan’s warnings grew more stern in the weeks that followed, as Trump began publicly speaking about the judge’s daughter. However, the judge did not punish Trump at the time—opting instead to continue cautioning against heated rhetoric.

But as Trump kept launching personal attacks against judges and prosecutors in other cases playing out in Florida, Georgia, and the District of Columbia—always feeding his loyalists’ hatred by chalking up every case to a shadowy, conspiratorial plot against him—the DA’s office sought steps to keep him in check.

In a request filed in court on Monday, February 26, eight prosecutors at the DA’s office asked Merchan to keep secret the names and addresses of any jurors who are eventually selected to decide whether Trump committed felonies when covering up his Stormy Daniels affair—especially since these New Yorkers will be the first Americans to decide whether a former U.S. president is guilty of crimes.

Prosecutors wrote that Trump’s “conduct in this and other matters—including his extensive history of attacking jurors in other proceedings—presents a significant risk of juror harassment and intimidation that warrants reasonable protective measures to ensure the integrity of these proceedings, minimize obstacles to jury selection, and protect juror safe.”

In a second request filed that same day, prosecutors also asked Merchan to issue a more sweeping gag order to further shut up Trump.

“Defendant has a longstanding and perhaps singular history of using social media, speeches, rallies, and other public statements to attack individuals that he considers to be adversaries, including ‘courts, judges, various law enforcement officials and other public officials, and even individual jurors in other matters,’” they wrote, adding that “concerns grow more acute with the approaching trial.”

With his order on Tuesday, Merchan granted prosecutors’ request.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Supreme Court hands Trump a big win in Colorado ballot case

March 5, 2024

The U.S. Supreme Court gave former President Donald Trump a major victory on Monday, March 4—ruling that he cannot be disqualified from Colorado’s Republican primary ballot under the 14th Amendment, reports The Daily Beast.

The historic ruling derails a broad effort to keep Trump from even qualifying for the 2024 presidential election—one that sought to hold him accountable for inspiring his MAGA supporters to attack Congress on January 6, 2021, in a bald-faced attempt to remain in the White House after losing that election.

“BIG WIN FOR AMERICA!!!” Trump immediately responded in a post on his Truth Social media network.

The highest court in the land issued its decision per curiam, meaning that all nine justices agreed on a basic premise: Allowing a state to unilaterally take this kind of sweeping action would create chaos. Instead, they concluded, this kind of forceful act citing Section 3 of the 14th Amendment should come at the federal level.

“Permitting state enforcement of Section 3 against federal officeholders and candidates would raise serious questions about the scope of that power,” they wrote in an unsigned opinion.

The justices all expressed a serious concern with the fallout of what they called a “patchwork” approach, one that could fuel partisan hack jobs against enemy candidates and destroy the orderliness of the current presidential primary system across the nation.

“The result could well be that a single candidate would be declared ineligible in some states, but not others, based on the same conduct (and perhaps even the same factual record),” they wrote.

Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor joined together in a separate concurrence to clarify why they thought this latest effort could cause harm.

“In this case, the court must decide whether Colorado may keep a presidential candidate off the ballot on the ground that he is an oathbreaking insurrectionist and thus disqualified from holding federal office under Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. Allowing Colorado to do so would, we agree, create a chaotic state-by-state patchwork, at odds with our Nation’s federalism principles,” the trio wrote.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a Trump appointee, authored her own separate section of the opinion in which she acknowledged the dramatic tensions surrounding the timing of the court’s decision. After all, the court is weighing in just one day before Trump is set to appear on primary ballots in 15 states, including Colorado and the much larger and more influential California and Texas.

“Writings on the court should turn the national temperature down, not up. For present purposes, our differences are far less important than our unanimity: All nine justices agree on the outcome of this case. That is the message Americans should take home,” she wrote.

The court over the weekend indicated that one case would be decided Monday, taking the unusual decision of issuing an opinion on a day when the court isn’t in session. Rulings are usually issued from the bench, with summaries of their opinions read in the courtroom. The next court day is not scheduled to take place until March 15.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Federal appeals court swats down Trump’s immunity claims

February 7, 2024

Former President Donald Trump can’t lean on his expired credentials to avoid criminal charges for his attempt to stay in the White House after losing the 2020 election, a federal appellate court ruled on Tuesday—stripping him of any alleged presidential immunity, reports The Daily Beast.

“For the purpose of this criminal case, former President Trump has become citizen Trump,” the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled, noting that “any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as president no longer protects him against this prosecution.”

The historic decision puts Trump on a direct path to the Supreme Court, which is expected to ultimately decide whether Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith can put the former president on trial—and potentially ruin his 2024 campaign by branding him a convicted felon.

D.C. Circuit Judges J. Michelle Childs, Karen L. Henderson, and Florence Y. Pan wrote the decision after hearing arguments last month, including one Trump team theory that stunned them: The idea that presidents are afforded such unbelievable, sweeping power that they could get away with ordering a SEAL team to kill a political rival.

In their decision on Tuesday, February 6, the appellate judges went further than simply knocking down Trump’s bid to claim this near-limitless immunity. They also established a clear and direct relationship between Trump and the insurrection.

“The rally headlined by President Trump resulted in a march of thousands to the Capitol and the violent breach of the Capitol Building,” they wrote, noting that “Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results were unsuccessful.”

The 2024 Trump campaign immediately vowed to appeal the decision, reiterating his legal team’s argument that exposing Trump to criminal charges will clear the way for future prosecutions.

“If immunity is not granted to a president, every future president who leaves office will be immediately indicted by the opposing party. Without complete immunity, a president of the United States would not be able to properly function! Deranged Jack Smith’s prosecution of President Trump for his Presidential, official acts is unconstitutional under the doctrine of Presidential Immunity and the Separation of Powers,” campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said in his statement.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan previously rejected Trump’s immunity claims—sparking the current appeal. The appellate panel affirmed Judge Chutkan’s December 1 ruling that “former presidents enjoy no special conditions on their federal criminal liability.”

However, Trump can still claim some sort of victory in that this appeal has already slowed down the case. Chutkan had initially set the trial to start March 4, the day before the important “Super Tuesday” presidential primary elections in more than a dozen key states across the country. But the specious claims laid out by Trump’s legal team put the case on hold as it makes its way through the nation’s higher courts.

Days ago, Chutkan took steps that make clear she no longer thinks the trial will take place as soon as she’d hoped, scheduling other matters in March.

While the Supreme Court will ultimately decide the fate of the case, Tuesday’s ruling lays the groundwork for a decision that could leave Trump vulnerable to being the first ever former American president to end up in prison—and possibly bankrupt.

Trump is facing four criminal charges in the D.C. case for his involvement in a concerted effort to lie to the American public about the 2020 election results, a scheme that sought to interrupt the congressional certification of electoral ballots on January 6, 2021, in order to cement the victory of President Joe Biden. But he’s also facing multiple civil lawsuits for his role in leading and inspiring the attack on the Capitol by thousands of his MAGA supporters—one that cost the lives of five police officers who died after defending the seat of Congress from the raging mob.

The appellate judges reiterated the established legal precedent that an American president is “absolutely immune from civil liability for his official acts,” a notion that Trump’s legal team is trying to use as an impenetrable shield against the indictment and civil lawsuits. But, as the DOJ itself has noted in a legal memo last year, Trump’s decision to urge his followers to attack Congress fell far outside of the scope of his official duties.

In their December 6 decision, appellate judges noted that “both sitting and former presidents remain civilly liable for private conduct.” And they even tore away the shield Trump keeps trying to wield, writing that “the separation of powers doctrine may immunize lawful discretionary acts but does not bar the federal criminal prosecution of a former President for every official act.”

The appellate judges stressed that past presidents have tacitly acknowledged that they can be held accountable, evidenced by the fact that President Gerald Ford in 1974 saw it fit to pardon his predecessor, Richard Nixon—something that “both former presidents evidently believed was necessary to avoid Nixon’s post-resignation indictment.”

The landmark court decisions in Nixon’s Watergate scandal have played a pivotal role in Trump’s current legal woes—solidifying longtime comparisons between the 1970s political crook and the billionaire real estate tycoon whose entire presidency was mired in ethics scandals.

Research contact: @The_DailyBeast

Trump wins New Hampshire primary—and immediately starts complaining

January 25, 2024

Despite claiming that “I don’t get too angry; I get even,” during his victory speech in New Hampshire on Tuesday night, January 21, Donald Trump sure seemed peeved by the day’s events, reports The Daily Beast.

Trump may have won the primary by “double-digit” margins, but his speech was in stark contrast to that of his Iowa victory speech, in which he claimed “this is the time now for everybody in our country to come together.”

Despite the apparent success, the former president on Tuesday night appeared dour and angry in equal measure.

He started the victory tour by posting a string of complaints about opponent Nikki Haley’s post-primary speech on Truth Social—calling her “DELUSIONAL” while reminding her that she came in “THIRD” last week in Iowa.

He then continued to air his grievances in a muted victory speech in Laconia, New Hampshire. “I said, I can go up and say to everybody, ‘Thank you for the victory, it’s wonderful’—or I can go up and say, ‘Who the hell was the imposter that went up on the stage before and, like, claimed a victory?’” he said.

“She did very poorly, actually. She had to win,” Trump continued of his Republican opponent. “The governor said she’s going to win, then she failed badly.”

Throughout the speech, Trump clearly seemed peeved about Haley’s repeated assertions that her campaign was ascendant.

“Let me just tell you, we had an unbelievable week last week in Iowa. We set a record,” Trump said. “It was the best in the history of the caucus, and I remember I had the same feeling. I’m up and I’m watching [Haley’s speech], and I said, ‘She’s taking a victory lap!’”

“We beat her so badly,” he added for good measure.

Trump also seemed to suggest that he was aware of some alleged criminal activity in Haley’s past—as well as similar impropriety from recent 2024 drop-out Ron DeSantis as well. The claims are unverified.

“Just a little note to Nikki—she’s not going to win, but if she did, she would be under investigation in 15 minutes, and I could tell you five reasons why already,” Trump said, without elaborating on the accusations. “Not big reasons, little stuff she doesn’t want to talk about. So would Ron have been, but he decided to get out.”

Never one to miss an opportunity, the former president went on to list off his usual gripes—including the long-ago debunked conspiracy that the 2020 election was “rigged” or “stolen” through widespread voter fraud and the idea that the economy is currently in shambles; as well as asides about the state of the southern U.S. border with Mexico and a promise to cut energy costs by a stunning 50%.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Mark Meadows’ bid to punt election case out of Georgia shot down

December 20, 2023

On Monday, December 18, a federal appeals court rejected an attempt by Mark Meadows to move an election interference case against him from Georgia to federal court—ruling that Meadows, Trump’s one-time White House chief of staff, had not demonstrated that his alleged criminal conduct was related to his duties under the former president, reports The Daily Beast.

The three-judge panel on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously to uphold a lower court opinion from September. The panel wrote witheringly in its 47-page opinion, authored by a Bush-appointed conservative judge, that the federal removal statute that Meadows’ lawyers had been attempting to invoke “does not apply to former federal officers.”

What’s more, Chief Judge William Pryor added, even if it did, Meadows’ “participation in an alleged conspiracy to overturn a presidential election was not related to his official duties.”

“At bottom,” Pryor wrote, “whatever the chief of staff’s role with respect to state election administration, that role does not include altering valid election results in favor of a particular candidate.”

The decision comes just three days after the panel heard oral arguments in the transfer request. It marks the end of Meadows’ bid to get his case kicked out of Georgia state court, unless he appeals the decision to the Supreme Court and it agrees to hear the case.

An attorney for Meadows did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday night.

Meadows was indicted alongside his former boss and 17 others in August on charges they illegally conspired to keep Trump in power after the 2020 presidential election by reversing his loss in Georgia. Meadows, who has pleaded not guilty, is facing one count of violating a state racketeering law and one count of solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer.

A key issue for the ex-chief of staff has been over his role in a notorious January 2021 phone call where Trump asked Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, to “find” more than 10,000 votes in his favor.

Meadows has argued his presence on the call was under the purview of his duties as chief of staff. Prosecutors—and, thus far, the courts—have disagreed.

Research contact: @TBD