Manhattan prosecutor says Trump created ‘false expectation’ of imminent arrest – live

Manhattan prosecutor says Trump created ‘false expectation’ of imminent arrest – live

LIVE – Updated at 19:43

DA Alvin Bragg hits back at Republican demands for documents in Trump hush-money investigation – follow all the latest politics news.

 

19:43

A rightwing extremist who was convicted on charges related to breaching the Capitol on January 6 and directing the mob towards Nancy Pelosi has been sentenced to three years in prison, NBC News reports.

Federal prosecutors argued that Riley Williams “led an army” of rioters to Pelosi’s office after they breached the Capitol, and stood by as one stole a laptop the House speaker used for her Zoom meetings. In delivering her sentence, federal judge Amy Berman said what Williams did was “utterly reprehensible”.

Here’s more from NBC News:

Williams’ federal public defender Lori Ulrich said that while Williams might have “distasteful” beliefs, she was a young woman equipped with only a “cell phone and her fuzzy zebra bag” who even posted at one point that she was “STORMING THE WHITE HOUSE” when she was, in fact, in the legislative branch. Williams, her defense argued, “wanted to be somebody.”

At the hearing ahead of her sentencing, Williams said she is embarrassed watching the actions of the “young and stupid girl” she now sees in all of those videos. She said she is now “a responsible woman” and had been “addicted to the internet since before I can remember.”

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel Dalke argued that Williams was not some “impulsive Gen-Z gadfly” or “the Forrest Gump of January 6.” Williams “participated in domestic terrorism, plain and simple.” Dalke said.

Williams was ultimately convicted on six counts: felony civil disorder, resisting and impeding certain officers, and four misdemeanor charges. The jury deadlocked on a count of obstruction of an official proceeding as well as on the question of whether Williams aided and abetted the theft of Pelosi’s laptop.

Jackson had ordered Williams remanded after the verdict, saying she had “no confidence whatsoever” that Williams had respect for the rule of law.

 

19:27

The Guardian’s Adam Gabbatt spent time outside the Manhattan courthouse where a grand jury was widely expected to decide on the indictment of Donald Trump this week, but ended up not doing so. You could say it was a bit anticlimactic:

Over the weekend Donald Trump set off an international maelstrom of media attention when he announced he would be “arrested on Tuesday”.

Like so many of Trump’s certain proclamations, it proved to be throughly wrong, and the grand jury weighing whether to charge Trump over payments to an adult film star is now unlikely to deliver its verdict until next week.

Trump’s declaration, however, did succeed in creating a week-long spectacle outside the Manhattan criminal court, which is now protected by metal barriers and police amid a widespread tightening of security in New York.

On Monday a small group of Trump supporters – estimates place the number at between five and 20 – and much, much larger groups of journalists flooded to the court, in the south of the island of Manhattan.

Those on the right hailed the smattering of people holding pro-Trump signs as a bold show of support for the twice-impeached, legally besieged former US president.

But by that measure, support had evaporated on Thursday. There was not a single Trump supporter or protester – a small group of anti-Trumpers had also been present earlier in the week – outside the court. Only the journalists, from all the big TV stations and a lot of the smaller ones, remained, sitting looking glum in sheeting New York rain.

Outside the court, which has found itself the subject of so much global attention this week, loomed behind waist-high metal barricades.

Related: Police and pizza but no perp walk as New York waits for Trump indictment

 

19:12

Meanwhile, the Senate is finishing up work on legislation repeal the legal authorizations for America’s involvement in the Gulf war and 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Majority leader Chuck Schumer has filed cloture on the measure, a key step before senators take their final votes:

 

18:54

The parents of a student killed in the 2018 Parkland shooting were today removed from a House subcommittee hearing convened by Republicans to examine alleged “actions aimed at curtailing the ability of lawful gun owners to exercise their Second Amendment rights” by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Here’s the moment when it happened:

The chairs of subcommittees of the judiciary and oversight panels called the hearing in response to a January rule from the ATF, which found that pistols with stabilizing braces should be regulated as rifles.

Maxwell Alejandro Frost, a newly elected House Democrat who has been outspoken against gun violence, ended up walking out the hearing after condemning it as politicized:

 

18:36

Donald Trump is predictably pleased by the apparent delays in Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg’s efforts to indict him.

A grand jury was expected to decide this week whether the former president should face charges for allegedly facilitating a hush money payment just before the 2016 election, but that vote has reportedly been pushed to next week, at the soonest. Here’s a statement Trump just put out:

Total disarray in the Manhattan D.A.’s Office. Tremendous dissension and chaos because they have NO CASE, and many of the honest people in the Office know it, and want to do the right thing. They think back to the Late, Great, Bob Morgenthau, the best ever, and know what he would have done. JUSTICE FOR ALL!

Morgenthau was the Manhattan district attorney from 1975 to 2009, who Trump reportedly believed would not have pursued legal action against him.

 

18:19

Though he wasn’t at the White House, Barack Obama also celebrated the 13th anniversary of the day he signed the Affordable Care Act:

 

18:00

Joe Biden reserved part of his remarks about the Affordable Care Act to call out the “Maga Republicans” he cast as ruining the GOP.

“The Affordable Care Act has been law for 13 years. It has developed deep roots in this country, become a critical part of providing health care and saving lives. We always talked about the cost but it saves lives as well,” Biden said. “Obviously, that doesn’t mean much to our Republican friends, but it can be a matter of life and death for millions of Americans out there. Even now, Maga Republicans in Congress are intent on repealing the Affordable Care Act, when it’s clear would have a devastating impact on the American people.”

Earlier in the speech, he’d tried to draw some distinctions between “Maga Republicans” – as in, those most closely aligned with Donald Trump – and other GOP lawmakers: “I want to be clear. There’s some good decent Republicans out there. I’m not suggesting this is all about bad Republicans. But this new crowd … This ain’t your father’s Republican Party.”

The president reserved his kindest remarks for an unexpected constituent: babies. “We like babies, you don’t have to worry about it,” he said after an infant’s cries interrupted his speech. “In fact, I like babies better than people.”

 

17:38
As he marked the 13th anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act in a White House ceremony today, Joe Biden sought to remind Americans about what it was like before the legislation passed:

It’s easy to forget what life was like for hard-working families before the Affordable Care Act … remember when a parent with a heart disease or diabetes or a child with asthma couldn’t get coverage because of a pre-existing condition? Remember, when women had to pay more for insurance, because they had a pre-existing condition? They were a woman.

Not a joke, say it today to people, they look at you like, you’re kidding me. But that was the case. Remember when you couldn’t leave a dead-end job because you couldn’t risk losing your health insurance? Remember when a 22-year-old kid could get kicked off his parents’ plan because he graduated from college?

 

17:17 Martin Pengelly

Joe Biden will today celebrate the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, one of the most popular achievements of his time as vice-president to Barack Obama. But he’ll do so as his own popularity rating as president sinks back towards its lowest point.

A new poll from the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research puts Biden’s approval rating at 38%, down from 45% last month and 41% the month before that. Biden’s lowest point in the poll came last July, with a 36% approval rating as the cost-of-living crisis worsened.

In a poll taken at a time of bank failures and worries over Republican intransigence over the national debt, 31% of respondents to the new poll thought Biden was doing a good job on the economy.

Trump-Carroll trial jury will be anonymous – judge

16:59 Martin Pengelly

News from another of Donald Trump’s many forms of legal jeopardy, the defamation trial arising from an allegation of rape made by the writer E Jean Carroll.

As Reuters reports, a federal judge in New York today said the case “will get an anonymous jury … citing the risk of juror harassment and noting Trump’s reaction to possibly being indicted in an unrelated case”.

That was a reference to Trump’s call for “protest” to “take our country back” if he is indicted and arrested in the Stormy Daniels hush money case.

The US district judge, Lewis Kaplan, “said the names, addresses and places of employment for jurors in the trial scheduled for 25 April will be kept secret, and they will be transported together to and from and within the courthouse”.

Carroll says Trump raped her in a department store changing room in the mid-1990s. Trump denies the allegation. His comments about the case and about Carroll gave rise to the defamation suit.

Carroll is also Trump suing for defamation over another comment, and under a New York state law that allows victims of alleged cases of sexual battery to sue even if the statute of limitations has expired.

 

16:41 Martin Pengelly

Ron DeSantis has reversed his position on Ukraine, after facing widespread criticism for calling the Russian invasion a “territorial dispute”.

Speaking to Fox Nation in an interview to be broadcast in full today, the Florida governor and probable contender for the Republican presidential nomination said his “territorial dispute” remark had been “mischaracterised”.

“Obviously, Russia invaded – that was wrong,” he said. “They invaded Crimea and took that in 2014 – that was wrong.”

DeSantis also called Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, a “war criminal”.

The international criminal court has issued a warrant for Putin’s arrest. Though the US is not a member of the ICC, Joe Biden said the move was justified.

DeSantis said: “I don’t know about that route, but I do think that he should be held accountable.”

The Florida governor has not declared a run for the presidency but he is the only close challenger to Donald Trump in polling and is widely expected to enter the race this spring.

He made his “territorial dispute” remark last week, in answer to the Fox News host Tucker Carlson. The remark aligned DeSantis with Trump but also prompted fierce criticism across the political spectrum.

Reed Galen, a Republican strategist turned anti-Trump campaigner, said: “DeSantis is a conventional politician. They’re polling like mad and found his Ukraine position is unpopular with general election Republicans. Also, donors hate it.”

Full story:

Related: Ron DeSantis forced into U-turn after calling Ukraine war ‘territorial dispute’

 

16:23 Martin Pengelly

More on the supreme court (see earlier block here) and its conservative supermajority.

The Republican senator Ted Cruz, whose party defied convention to delay then rush conservatives on to the supreme court, has introduced a constitutional amendment to stop Democrats expanding the court in response.

“The Democrats’ answer to a supreme court that is dedicated to upholding the rule of law and the constitution is to pack it with liberals who will rule the way they want,” Cruz said.

“The supreme court should be independent, not inflated by every new administration. That’s why I’ve introduced a constitutional amendment to permanently keep the number of justices at nine.”

There is no constitutional provision for how many justices sit on the court.

Democrats say the current court is not independent of the Republican party.

In 2016, when Antonin Scalia died, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, held the seat open until a Republican president could nominate a conservative replacement. Neil Gorsuch filled that seat.

In 2020, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal lion, died shortly before the election. McConnell rushed Amy Coney Barrett onto the court before Trump lost to Joe Biden.

Those changes and the replacement of the retiring Anthony Kennedy with Brett Kavanaugh produced a court dominated, 6-3, by conservatives.

Among rulings passed down by the new super-majority, a May 2022 decision saw the court side with Cruz over personal loans to campaigns. The three liberal justices said the ruling paved the way for corruption.

But the Dobbs decision, removing the right to abortion, most enraged Democrats and progressives.

On the left, plans have been floated to increase the size of the court and thereby redress its ideological balance. Biden ordered a commission to study options for reform. It reported “profound disagreement” on whether the court should be expanded. Biden has said he is “not a fan” of expansion.

Cruz’s amendment has little chance in the Democratic-held Senate but 10 Republicans supported it nonetheless.

Josh Hawley of Missouri said: “For years the left has been desperate to pack the court to promote their radical agenda. We must ensure that we stay true to the court’s founding principles, maintain the precedent of nine justices, and keep the Democrats from their brazen attempts to rig our democracy.”

The day so far

16:06

The answer to the question of whether a Manhattan grand jury is going to indict Donald Trump will have to wait until next week, at least, after prosecutors opted against bringing up the case before jurors today. But district attorney Alvin Bragg did find time to respond to House Republicans who had earlier this week issued a flurry of demands of his office, after Trump alleged that he would soon be arrested. Bragg’s response: get lost.

Here’s what else has happened today so far:

  • TikTok’s CEO is getting grilled by House lawmakers. Follow along at our live blog.

  • Special prosecutor Jack Smith’s next prize may be getting Mike Pence to testify into his investigations of Trump.

  • A new book pulls back the curtain at the supreme court as its new conservative bloc flexed its muscles.

 

15:47

The Guardian’s Sam Levine has been in Wilmington, Delaware this week, site of a major hearing in Dominion Voting System’s defamation lawsuit against Fox News. While the case is ongoing, he writes that the firm’s suit has already done a number on the conservative network’s reputation:

As Fox News continued to broadcast lies about Dominion voting systems and the 2020 election, Tucker Carlson, one of its star hosts used one word over and over to describe what the network was doing – “reckless”.

Those messages were the first pieces of evidence Justin Nelson, a lawyer representing Dominion, displayed on Tuesday as he began his argument for why a judge should rule the network defamed his client. “Reckless was a meaningful word” – in order to win the case, Nelson has to prove that Fox acted with “actual malice” – that its hosts, producers, and executives knew the statements were false or acted with reckless disregard to the truth.

“Unlike every other single defamation case, we have in their own words the fact that they knew it was false,” Nelson said.

Related: Why Dominion is already the winner of the $1.6bn lawsuit against Fox News

 

15:27

In an excerpt from her forthcoming book, CNN supreme court analyst Joan Biskupic reveals a body where the conservative majority fortified by Donald Trump is driving forward with decisions to change America – even as some of its members try to appear conciliatory in public.

She also describes chief justice John Robert’s decision to quickly move Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s papers from her office after she died in 2020, which offended some of her aides used to more relaxed transitions between justices.

Here’s more from her reporting:

Within days of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s memorial service in late September 2020, boxes of her files and other office possessions were moved down to a dark, windowless theater on the Supreme Court’s ground floor, where – before the ongoing pandemic – tourists could watch a film about court operations.

Grieving aides to the justice who’d served 27 years and become a cultural icon known as the “Notorious RBG” sorted through the chambers’ contents there.

The abrupt mandate from Chief Justice John Roberts’ administrative team to clear out Ginsburg’s office and make way for the next justice broke from the common practice of allowing staff sufficient time to move and providing a new justice with temporary quarters if needed while permanent chambers were readied.

It upset employees throughout the building. They were aware that in the weeks before Ginsburg died, her staff had labored to ensure she had case documents at hand, whether in the hospital or at home. They were exhausted from all the memorial arrangements, which had attracted thousands of people to Washington.

But the confirmation of then-President Donald Trump’s chosen successor, Indiana-based US appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett, was as much a fait accompli at the court as in the political sphere.

That behind-the-scenes drama and internal tensions over cases that followed, accelerated by all three Trump appointees, led to a new level of distrust and discord among the justices that lingers today.

Almost as abruptly as Ginsburg’s possessions were cast out, the court’s 6-3 conservative majority began ravaging the vestiges of Ginsburg’s work on women’s rights and access to abortion. The internal negotiations on the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which ended up reversing nearly a half century of abortion rights, were tightly tied to Ginsburg’s death and the succession of Barrett.

 

15:06

Politico has spotted Donald Trump’s lawyer Evan Corcoran walking into the Washington DC courthouse where grand juries considering special counsel Jack Smith’s investigations into the former president are sitting:

Corcoran was the Trump lawyer who will have to answer more questions and turn over more documents related to his work with the former president, per an appeals court ruling yesterday.

That said, there’s no telling the reason why Corcoran is at the courthouse:

 

14:51

Don’t let all this Trump news distract you from the congressional testimony of TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, as he faces lawmakers’ wrath over the popular video-sharing app’s alleged invasion of privacy and connections to the Chinese Communist party.

For the latest on the hearing before the House energy and commerce committee, follow our live blog here:

Related: TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testifies before US Congress amid growing security concerns – live

Manhattan DA Bragg hits back at House Republican demands

14:29

Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg has rejected demands from House Republican leaders to provide testimony and documents related to his investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged hush money payment.

In a letter to the chairs of the House judiciary, administration and oversight committees, Bragg called the request “an unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution.”

He continued:

The Letter only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day and his lawyers repeatedly urged you to intervene. Neither fact is a legitimate basis for congressional inquiry.

However, Bragg did agree to provide details into how his office has used federal funds, and requested a meeting to “understand whether the committee has any legitimate legislative interest in the requested materials”.

Here’s the full letter, obtained by the Associated Press and Axios:

Manhattan grand jury won’t hear Trump case today, delaying potential indictment

14:11

The Manhattan grand jury considering whether to indict Donald Trump for his alleged role in paying hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election will not hear his case today, MSNBC reports:

That pushes a potential indictment to next week, since the grand jury typically meets on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursday. It also lowers tensions that had spiked over the weekend, when Trump told supporters he would be arrested Tuesday and called for protests. Neither his arrest, nor much in the way of protests, materialized.

 

14:00

A decision about whether or not to bring charges against Donald Trump may not come today, CNN reports.

The Manhattan grand jury considering whether the former president broke the law by allegedly arranging a hush money payment just before the 2016 election won’t hear that case today, the network says:

The grand jury meets on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, meaning a decision could come next week.

 

13:47

Special counsel Jack Smith has succeeded in getting Donald Trump’s attorney Evan Corcoran to testify, but CBS News reports he may be after a bigger prize:

 

13:30

One of the most closely watched events happening in Washington today will be the appearance of TikTok’s CEO before a House committee to answer allegations the wildly popular video-sharing app poses a security risk. The Guardian’s Kari Paul has a rundown of what we can expect from the hearing:

The chief executive of TikTok, Shou Zi Chew, is set to face a grilling from US lawmakers on Thursday as the political storm surrounding the China-owned social media platform intensifies with the Biden administration threatening to ban the app entirely in the US.

TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has long faced criticisms over the data it holds on US users – data that lawmakers fear could fall into the hands of the Chinese government. While the platform has repeatedly denied those claims, stating it stores US user data outside of China, legislators on both sides of the aisle have united in their backlash despite the company’s growing popularity.

In a statement announcing the hearing, Republican representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers claimed TikTok has “knowingly allowed the ability for the Chinese Communist Party to access American user data”.

Related: Congress to grill TikTok CEO over data privacy concerns and safety of users

Trump’s attempt to stop lawyer’s testimony in classified documents case fails

13:12

Shifting the focus for a second to another investigation Donald Trump is wrapped up in, a federal appeals panel yesterday turned down his attempt to stop his attorney Evan Corcoran from turning over documents and testifying before a grand jury investigating the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago.

Special prosecutor Jack Smith, who is handling that investigation as well as the inquiry into Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election, had won a court ruling last week allowing Corcoran’s testimony, which Trump challenged in the petition rejected by the US appeals court for the DC circuit yesterday.

Here’s the Guardian’s Hugo Lowell with more details of the ruling and why it’s important:

In losing the appeal – a major defeat for Trump – Corcoran must provide additional testimony and produce documents to the grand jury hearing evidence about Trump’s potential unauthorized retention of national security materials at Mar-a-Lago – and possible obstruction of justice.

The obstruction part of the investigation is centered on Trump’s incomplete compliance with a subpoena in May that demanded the return of any classified-marked documents in his possession. That was after documents he returned earlier to the National Archives included 200 that were classified. In June, Corcoran searched Mar-a-Lago and produced about 30 documents with classified markings to the justice department, and had another Trump lawyer, Christina Bobb, sign a certification that attested to compliance with the subpoena “based on the information provided to me”. But, according to court filings, the justice department developed evidence that more documents that were marked as classified remained at the resort, along with “evidence of obstruction”. And when the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago, they found 101 such documents in a storage room and in Trump’s office.

The ruling by the appeals court could mark a momentous moment in the criminal investigation, and could make Corcoran a crucial witness for the special counsel Jack Smith, who is overseeing the matter.

Related: Trump lawyer ordered to hand over notes in Mar-a-Lago documents inquiry

Manhattan grand jury expected to convene again to consider Trump indictment

12:51

Good morning, US politics blog readers. We are once again waiting to hear whether the grand jury convened by Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg will indict Donald Trump over a hush money payment he allegedly arranged just before the 2016 presidential election. The charges could have been handed down on Wednesday, but the grand jury meeting was called off for reasons that remain unclear.

If an indictment doesn’t come today, the matter will stretch into next week, since the jurors don’t meet on Friday. And even if they grand jury does make its decision today, it is possible we won’t find out – they do their work behind closed doors. Nonetheless, we’ll be keeping an eye out for any news on their deliberations.

Here’s what else is happening today:

  • TikTok’s chief executive Shou Zi Chew is set to be grilled by the House energy and commerce committee beginning at 10am eastern time, as Washington edges closer to an outright ban on the popular app.

  • The US Senate will continue working on legislation to repeal the legal authorizations for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 1991 Gulf war.

  • Happy 13th birthday to the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Joe Biden will celebrate the occasion at the White House at 1pm, alongside Kamala Harris.

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