Posts tagged with "Jr."

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

Trump sued by Swalwell over mob attack on Capitol

March 8, 2021

On Friday, March5, former President Donald Trump, as well as his eldest son and a couple of his allies were hit with a suit brought by Representative Eric Swalwell (D-California) over their roles in the run-up to the January 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol, The Hill reports.

The 65-page complaint—filed in federal court in Washington, D.C.—accuses Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., Representative Mo Brooks (R-Alabama),and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani of inciting the riot and violating a number of federal and D.C. laws.

According to The Hill, each defendant was among the speakers at a pro-Trump rally that immediately preceded the deadly Capitol breach. The lawsuit depicts the incendiary rally speeches as a tipping point that culminated a months-long disinformation campaign to push the false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump.

“The horrific events of January 6 were a direct and foreseeable consequence of the Defendants’ unlawful actions,” the complaint states. “As such, the Defendants are responsible for the injury and destruction that followed.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified money damages and asks for a court order requiring Trump and his allies to provide at least a week’s notice before holding any future rally in D.C. related to an election.

Among the allegations contained in the nine-count complaint is that defendants conspired to prevent lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence from certifying President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’s election win, in violation of a federal civil rights law.

Attempts by the Hill to reach Trump, Brooks and Giuliani for comment were not successful.

The lawsuit is the latest instance of potential legal exposure for the former president. Trump also faces a criminal probe in Georgia for pressuring officials to overturn President Joe Biden’s electoral win; and is under investigation in New York for possible financial crimes and civil violations related to his businesses.

The Biden Administration’s Justice Department also faces pressure from progressives and Trump critics to pursue criminal charges against the former president.

Swalwell’s lawsuit comes less than a month after Trump was acquitted in a Senate impeachment trial over his role in the Jan. 6 attack. Swalwell, a former county prosecutor in California, served as one of the House impeachment managers in the Senate trial.

Research contact: @thehill

RFK’s grandson Max blows the whistle on Kushner’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ COVID Task Force

September 23, 2020

Robert F. Kennedy’s grandson, Max Kennedy, Jr., 26, volunteered to work on a COVID-19 task force run by White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner. But he ended up sending a complaint to Congress after witnessing what he described as a chaotic, dismal “Lord of The Flies” operation, The New Yorker reported on September 21.

“I just couldn’t sleep,” Kennedy told the magazine. “I was so distressed and disturbed by what I’d seen.”

Indeed, according to a report by the Huffington Post, Kennedy detailed a poorly managed operation to procure desperately needed medical supplies run by an inexperienced crew of volunteers. There appeared to be no vision, no strategy, and no real leadership driving the operation, he recounted.

Kennedy, a lifelong Democrat, said he volunteered for the COVID Supply-Chain Task Force because it was “such an unprecedented time.”

“It seemed larger than the administration,” he told The New Yorker.

But he said he was stunned to learn that he and some 12 other young volunteers were essentially the government’s team in charge of obtaining protective equipment like masks, gloves, and hospital gowns for frontline workers. They were using their own laptops and personal email accounts to do what they could.

“We were the entire frontline team,” an incredulous Kennedy told the magazine. The volunteer numbers were more appropriate for an “after-school event — not to run the greatest crisis in a hundred years,” he said. And there was no urgency to mobilize more people for such an “unbelievably colossal” challenge, he added.

Kennedy said he suspected that inexperienced volunteers were used so that the White House could “control the narrative,” and wouldn’t be contradicted by anyone with expertise.

He was alarmed Trump consistently underplayed the danger of COVID-19 and the dire of lack of supplies. Trump’s solution for the chaos was to blame states—a strategy that won him praise as a “marketing genius” from his aides, Kennedy recounted.

Kennedy ignored a nondisclosure agreement he had been required to sign and sent an anonymous complaint to the House Oversight Committee, he told the magazine. He quit in April.

The supply operation was like a “family office meets organized crime, melded with ‘Lord of The Flies,’” Kennedy said.

“It was a government of chaos,” he added.

There was no immediate response from the White House. It wasn’t clear what happened to his complaint to Congress.

Research contact: @NewYorker

Trump aides see personal malice, not political strategy, in Twitter attacks on Baltimore, Cummings

August 2, 2019

After a week during which President Donald Trump was labeled a “racist” and a “white supremacist” for his affronts to “The Squad” of women of color in the House, the activist Reverend Al Sharpton, CNN anchor Don Lemon, Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland—and the latter’s home district, Baltimore, which Trump described as “rat-infested and  a “living hell”— the POTUS was asked by the media to explain his strategy.

“There’s no strategy. I have no strategy. There’s zero strategy,” he told reporters on July 30. “It’s very simple.”

However, most political pundits believe that he did have two underlying reasons for the attacks. First, he believes that his denigration of Puerto Ricans, immigrants, blacks, and others of color builds the loyalty of his largely white base nationwide.

Second, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal,  Trump was “set off by last week’s decision by the House Oversight Committee,” which Cummings chairs, to subpoena top White House aides, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, for its probe into official emails and texts sent from personal accounts.

The news outlet also pointed to Cummings’ remarks at a news conference last week, at which he suggested further action against the administration was imminent. “There comes a point when silence becomes betrayal,” Cummings said, quoting Martin Luther King, Jr.

“People know this is the president. He’s going to fight back,” said one campaign adviser. “It’s not a surprise to anyone as much as it was before.”

Cummings responded on Twitter: “I will continue to do every day what I am duty-bounded to do—help my constituents to live their best lives and serve as a check on the Executive Branch.”

While Trump’s supporters have not come out in defense of the president’s remarks, they also have not criticized him to any great degree. Indeed, the Journal reports, Trump campaign officials do not view the gibes against Cummings as damaging to the president’s odds of re-election. The campaign sees the president’s polling numbers as most vulnerable when voters perceive the White House to be in chaos, when Mr. Trump’s base of supporters dislike legislation he signs, and when the president is perceived as “punching down,” one adviser told the news outlet.

In direct opposition to what he, himself, has said publicly, the president repeatedly has  bragged about his record on behalf of African-Americans. On Tuesday, he said African-Americans had “been calling the White House” and were “happy as hell.”

Research contact: Rebecca.Ballhaus@wsj.com

Don’t ‘sleep in’ on Saturday or Sunday

March 1, 2019

Wake up, America! A study conducted at the University of Colorado–Boulder has found that trying to catch up on shut-eye over the weekend may not be such a good idea—for either your waistline or your health, CNN reported on February 28.

“Weekend catch-up sleep is not protective,” Dr. Vsevolod Polotsky, director of Sleep Research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told the cable news network, adding, “The bottom line of this study is that even if you sleep longer on weekends, if you continue to sleep poorly, you will still eat too much, and you will still gain weight.”

Study author Kenneth Wright, Jr., who directs the Sleep Lab at the UC-Boulder, agrees. “Sleeping in on weekend doesn’t correct the body’s inability to regulate blood sugar, if that weekend is followed by a workweek or [a]school week full of insufficient sleep,” he told CNN.

The study by Wright and his colleagues—published in the journal Current Biology—assigned 36 healthy young men and women to three groups that prescribed different sleep requirements over a total of 10 days. None of the participants had newborns in the home or any health impairments that would affect the quality of their sleep.

The first group had the opportunity to sleep for nine hours each night for the 10 days. The second group was restricted to only five hours of sleep a night for the same duration, while the third was restricted to five hours Monday through Friday but allowed to sleep as long as they wanted on the weekend and go to bed as early as they liked on Sunday night. Come Monday, that third group was put back on the deprived sleep schedule of only five hours a night.

Both of the sleep-deprived groups snacked more after dinner and gained weight during the study—men, much more than women, CNN reports. The sleep-deprived men showed an overall 2.8% increase in their weight, while women’s body size went up by only 1.1%. By comparison, men who slept in on the weekend showed a 3% increase in weight, while women’s body size went up 0.05%

Gaining weight while sleep-deprived isn’t surprising, Wright said. “One of the things we and others have found in the past is that when people don’t sleep enough, they tend to eat more, partly because their body is burning more calories. But what happens is that people eat more than they need and therefore gain weight.

That could be in part, Polotsky told the news outlet, because hunger hormones are affected by a chronic lack of sleep. “The hormone leptin decreases appetite, while the hormone ghrelin increases appetite,” explained Polotsky, who was not involved in the study. “We know from previous research that sleep deprivation causes leptin to drop and ghrelin to rise, so you’re hungry.”

What was surprising to the researchers is what happened to the group who slept in on the weekends. “Even though people slept as much as they could, it was insufficient,” Wright said. “As soon as they went back to the short sleep schedules on Monday, their ability of their body to regulate blood sugar was impaired.”

Why? One of the reasons the weekend group may have been more affected is because their circadian rhythm, or biological clock, had been altered, depriving the body of certain hormones.

“If you catch up during weekends, you habitually eat later, because the circadian clock is shifting,” Polotsky said. “Add in after-dinner snacks; the sleep-deprived eat much more after dinner, as well.”

Not only that, but the weekend recovery group showed increased sensitivity to insulin in both their muscles and their livers, a result not found in the second group on restricted sleep. That’s important, Wright explained to CNN, because the muscle and liver are two of the most important tissues that take up blood sugar after eating.

“That helps us understand why is it that when we don’t get enough sleep, we have an increased risk for things like diabetes,” he added, because “short, insufficient sleep schedules will lead to an inability to regulate blood sugar and increases the risk of metabolic disease in the long term.”

Metabolic syndrome is an array of symptoms such as fat around the waist, abnormal cholesterol, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure—all of which can raise the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

“And when we go back to getting too little sleep again,” Wright told CNN, “we’re doing things that could be negative for our health long-term.”

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends at least seven hours of sleep each night for adults and much more for children.

Research contact: kenneth.wright@colorado.edu

In feud between Trump and Bannon, president is backed by his base

January 5, 2018

In a stunning turn of events this week, President Donald Trump dumped and dressed down his former chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, after learning that his once-close friend and adviser had disparaged him in multiple interviews for the new book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” by Michael Wolff.

The break came after Bannon was quoted making scorched-earth comments about the president’s children—including observations that Donald Trump, Jr.’s June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russian representatives had been “treasonous” and that Ivanka Trump is “dumb as a brick.”

In a written statement covered by The New York Times, the president characterized Bannon as a self-promoter who had “very little to do with our historic victory” in the 2016 presidential election and was “only in it for himself.”

He denied having a close relationship with the Breitbart executive chairman, stating, “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”

The Times noted that, “Assuming it lasts — and with Mr. Trump, nothing is ever certain — the schism could test whether he or Mr. Bannon has more resonance with the conservative base that has sustained the president through a tumultuous tenure marked by low poll numbers.”

A poll taken overnight portends that Trump will receive the support of the majority of Republicans in the wake of this split—not Bannon.

“In this pissing contest between Donald and Bannon, who[m] do you support?” asked firearms distributor AR15 on a website forum.

Fully 92% of the site’s 500 responses were in favor of Trump;  the other 8% backed Bannon.

The poll can be assumed to be mostly Republican-facing, since, according to Statistic Brain, out of 76 million Americans who own a gun, 49% are Conservatives and 49% are Republicans.

Research contact: @AR15COM