Posts tagged with "Former President Donald Trump"

Two U.S. Capitol Police officers sue Trump over January riot

April 1, 2021

Two U.S. Capitol Police officers who were on duty during the deadly January 6 insurrection at Capitol formally filed suit on March 30 in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia against former President Donald J. Trump—saying he was responsible for the physical and emotional injuries they had suffered as a result of the day’s events.

The plaintiffs, James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby,  said in their filing that former President Donald J. Trump “inflamed, encouraged, incited, directed, and aided and abetted” the Capitol Riot, according to a report by The New York Times. The complaint also cited the former president’s January 6 speech and other conduct—including what it said was his failure that day to “take timely action to stop his followers from continued violence.”

Each of the plaintiffs is seeking compensatory damages in excess of $75,000, plus punitive damages. The lawsuit is the first to be brought against the former president by Capitol Police officers.  The force has more than 2,000 officer, the Times notes.

Supporters of Trump overran the Capitol with an intention to stop the Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the November presidential election. Before the incursion, Trump spoke at a nearby rally, where he urged his supporters to “show strength” and “fight like hell.”

Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died in the mayhem. Trump was later impeached by the House of Representatives on a single charge of “incitement of insurrection,” but was acquitted in February after a brief Senate trial in which few Republicans broke ranks to vote guilty.

During the attack, Officer Hemby, an 11-year veteran of the Capitol Police, was outside the building,—crushed against the side and sprayed with chemicals that burned his eyes, skin and throat, the complaint said. One member of the mob screamed that he was “disrespecting the badge.”

Officer Hemby remains in physical therapy for neck and back injuries that he sustained on January 6 and “has struggled to manage the emotional fallout from being relentlessly attacked,” according to the complaint.

Officer Blassingame, a 17-year veteran of the force, suffered head and back injuries during the riot, the complaint said; and experienced back pain, depression. and insomnia afterward.

“He is haunted by the memory of being attacked, and of the sensory impacts—the sights, sounds, smells and even tastes of the attack remain close to the surface,” the complaint said. “He experiences guilt of being unable to help his colleagues who were simultaneously being attacked; and of surviving where other colleagues did not.”

Lawyers for the officers and for the former president could not be reached for comment early Wednesday, the Times said. Trump has previously denied responsibility for the attack.

The Capitol and Metropolitan Police departments have said that at least 138 of their officers were injured during the riot. The injuries ranged from minor bruises to concussions, rib fractures, burns, and even a mild heart attack.

Research contact: @nytimes

Biden condemns ‘skyrocketing’ hate crimes against Asian Americans in wake of deadly shooting spree

March 23, 2021

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris flew to Atlanta on March 19 to personally condemn rising hate crimes against Asian Americans in the wake of the mass shooting in the Atlanta area that left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent, CNN reports.

Biden said hate crimes against Asian Americans have been “skyrocketing” since the coronavirus pandemic began more than a year ago and that the country cannot be silent in the face of the hate and violence.

“Our silence is complicity. We cannot be complicit. We have to speak out. We have to act,” Biden said, speaking from Emory University in Atlanta.

He said Asian Americans have been “attacked, blamed, scapegoated and harassed. They’ve been verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, killed.”

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with Asian American leaders in the wake of the deadly shooting. They had originally planned to travel to Atlanta to tout the benefits of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package that Biden recently signed into law—but the White House scrapped plans for a rally after the shooting.

“The conversation we had today with the (Asian American and Pacific Islander) leaders, and that we’re hearing all across the country, is that hate and violence often hide in plain sight. It’s often met with silence,” Biden said. “That’s been true throughout our history, but that has to change because our silence is complicity.”

According to CNN, Biden urged Congress to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which he has said would:

  • Expedite the federal government’s response to hate crimes that have risen during the pandemic;
  • Support state and local governments to improve hate crimes reporting; and
  • Make information on hate crimes more accessible to Asian American communities.

Biden and Harris did not explicitly state that they considered the shootings earlier this week a hate crime. But they noted that whatever the motivation of the shooter, the killings come amid rising hate crimes against Asian Americans in the United States.

“Racism is real in America and it has always been. Xenophobia is real in America and always has been —sexism too,” said Harris, who is America’s first Black and South Asian vice president.

The vice president said: “For the last year, we’ve had people in positions of incredible power scapegoating Asian Americans—people with the biggest pulpits spreading this kind of hate. Ultimately this is about who we are as a nation. This is about how we treat people with dignity and respect.”

Stephanie Cho, the executive director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said former President Donald Trump’s name came up repeatedly during Biden’s hourlong meeting with the group.

Biden acknowledged Trump’s contributions to a rise in hate against Asian Americans, Cho told CNN’s Jeff Zeleny.

As for what Cho hopes to see from the administration, she said: “I’d like to see it be beyond this moment. And that as much as the former president called it the ‘China virus’ and scapegoated Asian Americans and really fueled this racism around Asian Americans, I would like to see the Biden administration come out just as strongly but in support of Asian Americans.”

Biden said he would work as “much as possible” to roll back that rhetoric.

Research contact: @CNN

Biden to allow migrant families separated under Trump to reunite in the USA

March 3, 2021

Families separated at the border during former President Donald Trump’s time in office will be allowed to reunite and settle in the United States, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced on March 1.

“[The Biden Administration is] hoping to reunite the families either here or in the country of origin,” Mayorkas said at the White House press briefing, according to a report by Politico.

He added, “We hope to be in a position to give them the [option] and, if, in fact, they seek to reunite here in the U.S., we will explore lawful pathways for them to remain in the United States—and to address the family needs, so we are acting as restoratively as possible.”

According to Politico, This represents “a significant step for the Biden Administration; as it seeks to undo the damage done by Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy, which allowed U.S. officials to forcibly separate children from their parents at the border.”

More than 5,500 families were separated under the Trump administration, and Biden entered office with the parents of more than 600 children still having not been located.

So far, the task force has made headway in reuniting those families. Mayorkas said approximately 105 families have been recently reunited.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero was quick to welcome Mayorkas’ announcement, but cautioned that “the devil is in the details and Secretary Mayorkas has to shed all the caveats and qualifications around his announcement and follow through with everything that’s necessary to right the wrong.”

“These separated families suffered unfathomably because of what our government did, and we owe them restitution. This includes a permanent pathway to citizenship, care, and resources to help them,” Romero said.

The task force involves a coordinated effort between the U.S., governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, as well as various non-governmental organizations, immigration attorneys and community groups. Michelle Brané, formerly with the Women’s Refugee Commission, has been selected to serve as executive director of the task force, Mayorkas said.

“This is not only an all-of-government but an all-of-society effort to do what is right,” Mayorkas said.

Mayorkas also used his turn at the White House briefing to outline why it will take time for the Biden Administration to create a new system for handling migrant arrivals at the border. Currently, the vast majority of migrants arriving at the border are being immediately expelled under a Trump-era pandemic emergency rule.

“We are not saying: ‘Don’t come.’ We are saying: ‘Don’t come now,’ because we will be able to deliver a safe and orderly process as quickly as possible,” Mayorkas said, adding that “we are working around the clock seven days a week.”

Research contact: @politico

Trump’s tax returns and related records turned over to Manhattan district attorney

February 26, 2021

Former President Donald Trump has been forced to put his money where his mouth is. After years of braggadocio about his billions, his real estate deals, and his penchant for “winning,” the “former guy” now has handed over years of tax and business records to the Manhattan district attorney, CNN reports.

Prosecutors obtained the records—which Trump tried to keep secret for years—on Monday, just hours after the US Supreme Court denied Trump’s last-ditch effort to keep the records private, a spokesperson for District Attorney Cy Vance told the cable news network.

The millions of pages of documents, sources say, contain Trump’s tax returns spanning from January 2011 to August 2019; as well as financial statements, engagement agreements, documents relating to the preparation and review of tax returns, and work papers and communications related to the tax returns.

Although the documents handed off from Trump’s long-time accounting firm Mazar’s won’t be released to the public because they’re subject to grand jury secrecy rules, their delivery caps off an extraordinary 17-month quest by the former President and his lawyers to block investigators from obtaining the records.

New York District Attorney Cy Vance is investigating whether Trump and the Trump Organization engaged in tax fraud, insurance fraud and other schemes to defraud, including potentially providing false information to financial institutions or banks about the value of certain buildings and assets.

With the records now in hand, Vance and his fellow prosecutors will be able to dig deeper into investigative theories, pursue interviews with key witnesses, and determine whether they believe any state laws have been violated CNN notes.

In addition to the records from Mazars, Vance’s office has been seeking a slew of other documents. They subpoenaed records and interviewed employees at Deutsche Bank, one of Trump’s creditors, about loans given to him, and insurance broker Aon, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation. Deutsche Bank has loaned Trump more than $300 million.

Prosecutors have also subpoenaed Ladder Capital, which has loaned the Trump Organization over $100 million, and the Trump Organization for records relating to fees paid to consultants, including Ivanka Trump, these people said.

Mazars’ spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Research contact: @CNN

McConnell signals Trump conviction is a GOP ‘conscience vote’

Febraury 11, 2021

After voting “nay” on the constitutionality of the current impeachment trial on Monday, February 8, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell now is signaling to fellow Republicans that the final vote on former President Donald Trump’s guilt or innocence is matter of conscience, Bloomberg reports.

Indeed, McConnell made it clear that senators who disputed the constitutionality of the trial could still vote to convict the former president, according to three Bloomberg sources. The Kentucky Republican also has suggested that he hasn’t made up his mind how he’ll vote, two of the people said.

That position is starkly different than McConnell’s declaration at the start of Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when he said that that he did not consider himself an impartial juror.

However, Bloomberg notes, it’s highly unlikely that the Senate will convict Trump of the House’s single impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection, which cited the former president’s actions surrounding the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Conviction requires a two-thirds majority, which means at least 17 Republicans would have to vote with all Democrats in the 50-50 chamber.

Only six Republicans on Tuesday voted in favor of the constitutionality of the Senate process. While that was enough for the simple majority required to proceed with the trial, it suggests that most GOP senators don’t want to vote against Trump.

McConnell, in a leadership meeting Monday night, said the same things he has said publicly, a person familiar with the matter said.

On February 2, he told reporters: “We’re all going to listen to what the lawyers have to say and making the arguments and work our way through it.”

McConnell has been telling Republican senators since mid-January that this would be a “vote of conscience.”

Research contact: @business

Biden to reinstate the COVID travel restrictions Trump rescinded; impose new ban on South Africa

January 26, 2021

President Joe Biden plans to sign restrictions Monday on travel to the United States to mitigate COVID-19 transmission, a senior public health official confirmed on Sunday, January 24, to Reuters.

The ban would prevent most non-U.S. citizens from entry if they have recently been in South Africa, where a new strain of coronavirus has been identified. The virus has killed more than 418,000 people and infected upward of 25 million nationwide in the United States., according to an NBC News tracker.

Biden is also expected to reinstate broader restrictions that were in effect much of the past year but were rescinded by President Donald Trump days before his term ended, NBC said. The limits would affect non-U.S. citizens traveling from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and much of Europe in what is known as the Schengen countries, which share a common visa process. Travelers from Brazil would also be affected.

Before Biden took office, incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a tweet criticized Trump’s decision to rescind the bans he had implemented.

“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday that, beginning Tuesday, it will no longer consider exceptions to its requirement that international travelers present negative coronavirus tests. Airlines had asked the agency to relax the rule for some countries with limited testing capacity.

“As variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continue to emerge in countries around the world, there is growing evidence of increased transmissibility of some of these variants, as well as unknown health and vaccine implications,” a CDC spokesman said in a statement. “Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19 and emerging variants.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

Biden plans executive action to expand food stamps and speed stimulus checks

January 25, 2021

President Joe Biden plans to issue two Executive Orders on Friday, January 22—aimed at speeding additional federal aid to American families struggling to afford food amid the COVID-19 pandemic; as well as at helping workers stay safe on the job, The New York Times reports.

Biden, who has vowed to use the power of the presidency to help mitigate economic fallout from the pandemic, will also direct the Treasury Department, now to be helmed by Janet Yellen, to find ways to deliver stimulus checks to millions of eligible Americans who have not yet received the funds.

The president also plans to sign a second Executive Order that will lay the groundwork for the federal government to institute a $15 an hour minimum wage for its employees and contract workers, while making it easier for federal workers to bargain collectively for better pay and benefits.

The actions are part of an attempt by Mr. Biden to override his predecessor, former President Donald J. Trump, on issues pertaining to workers, the economym and the federal safety net, the Times notes. The orders Biden will sign on Friday signal a break from the Trump Administration’s attempts to limit the scope of many federal benefits that Trump officials said created a disincentive for Americans to work.

Mr. Biden has issued a series of economic orders in his first days in the White House, which his aides have cast as emergency relief for Americans struggling in the Covid economy. He has also called on Congress to approve a $1.9 trillion economic rescue package in the coming weeks.

“We are at a precarious moment in our economy,” Brian Deese, who directs the National Economic Council, told reporters in a call previewing the orders. “The American people cannot afford to wait. So many are hanging by a thread.”

The orders that Biden is signing are intended to increase the weekly value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, commonly known as food stamps, for about 12 million families who depend on the program the most, according to White House estimates. The aid would increase weekly benefits by 15% to 20% for a family of four, Deese said. Congress approved enhanced benefits as part of its economic aid efforts last year, but the Trump administration did not expand benefits for households receiving the maximum benefit under the program.

The order also will increase the value of an emergency benefit, also included in economic rescue legislation, to provide money for families to replace the free meals students would have been receiving at school before the pandemic forced students out of classrooms. That expansion would amount to an extra $100 every two months for a family of three.

The president also will seek to allow workers to draw unemployment benefits if they quit jobs they fear are unsafe amid the pandemic, by asserting “that workers have a federally guaranteed right to refuse employment that will jeopardize their health, and if they do so, they will still qualify for unemployment insurance,” White House officials said in a fact sheet detailing the orders.

To help struggling individuals and families, Mr. Biden will direct the Treasury Department to find new ways to get stimulus checks, including $600 checks passed in December and $1,200 checks passed in March, to as many as eight million eligible people who have not yet received them.

The second order also will direct federal agencies to determine which of their workers earn less than $15 an hour, and to develop “recommendations to promote a $15 per hour minimum wage for them,” the fact sheet said.  Biden has called on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for all workers.

Research contact: @nytimes