Eric W. Dolan

'That’s unfair': Donald Trump complains that the FBI never raided Joe Biden’s house

Donald Trump lashed out at the FBI and President Joe Biden in a post on his Truth Social platform on Labor Day.

The former president claimed that federal agents should have raided Biden’s house over corruption allegations against the president's son.

“So they riffled through the living quarters of my 16 year old son, Barron, and the loved and respected former First Lady of the United States, Melania,” the former president wrote Monday morning, “but, despite proven high crimes and treason, and just plain common theft, all pointed out in the Laptop from Hell (and elsewhere), they never Raided or Broke Into the house of Hunter Biden or, perhaps even more importantly, the house of Joe Biden - A treasure trove! This is a Country that’s unfair and broken. We are truly a Nation in Decline!!!”

On Saturday, Trump branded Biden an "enemy of the state" as he hit back at the US president's assertion that the Republican and his supporters are undermining American democracy, and slammed last month's FBI raid of his Florida home.

On Sunday, Trump insisted he was innocent and was being wrongly targeted by the FBI.

“So much talk, back and forth, including from my many patriotic ‘defenders & supporters,’ about our Federal Government working every seldom (or never used) rule and regulation in order to get and destroy, at any cost, President Donald J. Trump,” he wrote on Truth Social. “Same concepts, anger, and Radical Left maniacs and RINOs who have been working the system of Hoaxes and Scams ever since I came down the ‘golden escalator’ in Trump Tower seven years ago. They also have the same problem, however - I DID NOTHING WRONG!!!”

The Justice Department has said in court filings that highly classified government documents, including some marked "Top Secret," were discovered in Trump's personal office during the raid.

A detailed list of what was seized also showed Trump held on to more than 11,000 unclassified government records that he claims are his to keep -- but legally are owned by the National Archives.

Among the papers seized were 18 documents labelled "top secret", 53 labelled "secret" and another 31 marked "confidential."

Of those, seven top secret files, 17 secret files and three confidential files were retrieved from Trump's private office.

Agents also found several dozen empty folders labelled "classified" in the office, raising speculation that sensitive documents may have been lost, destroyed or moved.

With additional reporting by AFP

'A storage argument': Marco Rubio downplays FBI Mar-a-Lago search

During an interview with a local news outlet on Sunday, Republican Senator Marco Rubio (FL) downplayed the federal investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents.

“This is really at its core a storage argument that they’re making,” Rubio told NBC 6. “They’re arguing there are documents there, they don’t deny that he should have access to those documents, but they deny they were properly stored.”

“I don’t think a fight over storage of documents is worthy of what they’ve done, which is a full-scale raid and then these constant leaks,” he continued. “That’s the second problem. It’s the PR behind all this.”

Documents at Trump's Florida home were "likely concealed" to obstruct an FBI probe into his potential mishandling of classified materials, the Justice Department said in a court filing last week.

The filing provides the most detailed account yet of the motivation for the FBI raid this month on Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, which was triggered by a review of records he previously surrendered to authorities that contained top secret information.

Before the raid, the FBI uncovered "multiple sources of evidence" showing that "classified documents" remained at Mar-a-Lago, the filing says.

"The government also developed evidence that government records were likely concealed and removed... and that efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government's investigation," the filing adds.

The DOJ said it provided the detailed background on the build-up to the raid "to correct the incomplete and inaccurate narrative set forth in (Trump's) filings."

Among the records seized during the unprecedented search of the home of a former president were documents marked "Top Secret," "Secret" and "Confidential."

Trump, who is weighing another White House run in 2024, vehemently denounced the FBI raid and claimed that all of the material confiscated during the search had been previously "declassified."

With additional reporting by AFP

Ex-Trump Organization CFO agrees to testify against Donald Trump's companies in potential criminal trial

The former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization has agreed to testify against Donald Trump's companies in a potential criminal trial, according to new reports published in Rolling Stone and CNN.

Allen Weisselberg expected to plead guilty to a 15-year tax fraud scheme this Thursday.

Citing a "person familiar with the matter," CNN reported that Weisselberg has agreed to testify against Trump's businesses if the case moves forward.

"As part of Weisselberg’s plea deal, he has agreed to testify against The Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corporation at trial, which is scheduled for October," Rolling Stone reported, citing two unnamed sources. "One of the sources said that while Weisselberg is agreeing to testify, that does not mean he necessarily will; it depends on whether prosecutors decide to call him."

Although Trump himself has not been charged at this stage, nor any members of his family, the charges deal a major blow to the Republican ex-president who has suggested he could run for the White House again in 2024.

The Trump Organization and Weisselberg were slapped with 15 felony counts including a scheme to defraud, conspiracy, grand larceny and falsifying business records.

Weisselberg is accused of evading taxes on $1.7 million of income over 15 years, according to the indictment. He is viewed as the gatekeeper of the Trump Organization’s secrets.

Weisselberg is expected to receive a five-month prison sentence, according to CNN.

New York prosecutors had been trying to get Weisselberg to cooperate with their broad investigations into the Trump Organization’s finances. But he is reportedly not willing to help beyond his testimony.

"Still, his potential testimony could pose a severe threat to Trump’s companies," Rolling Stone reported. "This possible testimony, which allegedly implicates Trump’s businesses, could be key to prosecutors’ securing a guilty verdict against these companies. When a company is found to have engaged in criminal conduct, significant fines can pile up quickly — potentially leading to its demise."

With additional reporting by AFP

Judge rejects Alex Jones’ lawyer’s request for mistrial over text message fiasco

The lawyer for conspiracy theorist Alex Jones called for a mistrial in his defamation damages trial on Thursday after inadvertently sending a trove of cell phone data to the attorney representing the family of one of the Sandy Hook parents.

But Travis County District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble denied the request, saying "I don't think it's a mistrial based on this," according to a report from Business Insider.

Jones' lawyer, F. Andino Reynal, also filed for an emergency motion to protect the contents of Jones' phone and asked that the plaintiff attorneys "return" all documents and "destroy" any they have.

The jury on Wednesday began weighing how much in damages a prominent far-right US conspiracy theorist should pay for claiming that the massacre of 20 children and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a "hoax."

Jones, founder of the website InfoWars and host of a popular radio show, has been found liable in multiple defamation lawsuits brought by parents of the victims of the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

The 48-year-old Jones claimed for years on his show that the Sandy Hook shooting was "staged" by gun control activists and the parents were "crisis actors," but has since acknowledged it was "100 percent real."

A 12-person jury in Austin, Texas, heard closing arguments on Tuesday in the first of the multiple defamation cases against Jones to reach the damages phase.

The case was brought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of six-year-old Jesse Lewis, who was among the children slain by a 20-year-old gunman in the worst-ever school shooting in the United States.

Heslin and Lewis delivered emotional testimony about the impact of Jones' false claims on their lives, including harassment, online abuse and death threats.

They are seeking compensatory damages of at least $150 million from Jones, an ally and supporter of former president Donald Trump, who appeared frequently on his radio show during his 2016 presidential campaign.

"We're here to make sure Alex Jones and his company pays for the reckless lies that they told," Kyle Farrar, an attorney for the parents, said in his closing argument.

Jesse's parents have been the victims of a "continuous year after year campaign of defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress," Farrar said.

Jones spread misinformation and was "profiting off of their pain," the lawyer said, reaping tens of millions of dollars from online traffic and sales of InfoWars-branded products.

"He spews hate, that's what gets people riled up," Farrar said.

F. Andino Reynal, a lawyer for Jones, told the jury that the InfoWars founder should not be held responsible for any of the actions of his listeners.

"Alex ran with a story and he made a mistake," Reynal said. "He trusted the wrong people. And he ran with a story that ended up being false."

InfoWars declared bankruptcy in April and another company owned by Jones, Free Speech Systems, filed for bankruptcy last week.

With additional reporting by AFP

Megachurch in turmoil after 'dangerous' lead pastor is allegedly caught on video having an affair

Several staff members at a megachurch based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have quit and are speaking out after their lead pastor was allegedly caught on video kissing a woman who is not his wife.

Eight employees resigned from Venue Church last week after confronting Pastor Tavner Smith about rumors he was having an affair with a longtime employee, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.

Smith is currently in the process of divorcing his wife. He has three children.

The alleged affair is not the only allegation against Smith. At least one former church member has aired his grievances with Smith in a public Facebook post.

"I was hired by Venue church in its early days to set up its systems and structures and model anything an adult would experience on a Sunday morning. In hind sight I taught the 'Iranians how to make nuclear weapons' I gave a man who had very very bad intentions the ability to make a mega church," former Venue Church employee Colt Chandler Helton wrote.

He alleged there were at least a dozen major problems with the megachurch, including mental and physical abuse. "I witnessed the worship pastor slam his wife against a wall in the green room prior to going on stage," he said.

"There could not be a more dangerous man and or organization than Pastor Tavner and Venue Church," Helton added. "He currently has cheated on his wife with his assistant and lead worship leader. His staff have almost all quit and he refused to step down. This is in part due to no elder system or any leadership to force him out."

Venue Church was founded in 2012. Just a few years later, in 2015, the church was named as one of the "fastest-growing churches in the country," with more than 1,000 people regularly attending sermons.

"Smith would regularly post to social media pictures of himself in designer sneakers and clothes," The Chattanooga Times Free Press explained. "Sunday services included light shows and congregants would provide a standing ovation when he came on stage. Along with the campus security team, a special team of armed bodyguards would follow Smith around."

Destiny Santos, who served on the church's security team, told The Chattanooga Times Free Press that she was instructed to bar certain people from the megachurch. "Anyone that spoke bad about him or the church went onto this watch list with code names and explanations as to why they're not allowed," she explained.

Santos also alleged that Smith would regularly take credit for the work of others. "All everyone ever sees is him giving away a check to this school on the news or volunteering at a soup kitchen or giving back here," she said. "Newsflash: he didn't do any of that. He shows up when the cameras get there. We did everything. Like we volunteered at the soup kitchen. We gave away the clothes to the homeless. We cleaned up the streets. We raised the money to give to the schools. We did this and we did that. And he just shows up, looks nice on camera."

'Crime of the Century': Trump rages at Biden for rejecting request to withhold White House info

Former President Donald Trump lashed out at his successor on Friday night after the White House refused to exert executive privilege over documents being sought by Congress.

In his statement, Trump also referred to November 3, 2020 – Election Day – as "the insurrection" and a crime.

"Biden has rejected our request to withhold White House information from the House Unselect Committee investigating the January 6th protest, but has not taken a stance on the insurrection that took place on November 3rd, often referred to as the Crime of the Century," Trump said.

Trump is seeking to assert executive privilege to prevent documents relating to January 6 from being handed over to the select committee by the National Archives.

Executive privilege allows a president to keep certain communications confidential. Legal experts are divided on whether it applies to a former president, and Biden declined to assert it on behalf of Trump.

White House Counsel Dana Remus explained the rejection in a letter obtained by NBC News: "These are unique and extraordinary circumstances. Congress is examining an assault on our Constitution and democratic institutions provoked and fanned by those sworn to protect them, and the conduct under investigation extends far beyond typical deliberations concerning the proper discharge of the President's constitutional responsibilities. The constitutional protections of executive privilege should not be used to shield, from Congress or the public, information that reflects a clear and apparent effort to subvert the Constitution itself."

The committee investigating the Capitol attack issued a request in August for records related to the attempt by Trump supporters to block the certification by Congress of Biden's November election victory.

Among the records and documents being sought are communications from Trump, members of his family, his top aides, his lawyers and dozens of other former members of his administration.

The former president predicted that Biden's decision would backfire and criticized his son, Hunter.

"This will put the current White House in a terrible position when the inevitable request for information comes concerning the massive corruption by Hunter Biden and the already well-documented crimes committed by the Biden family, the least of which are Hunter's paintings selling for as much as $500,000 a piece," Trump said in his statement.

The House Select Committee warned four former members of the Trump administration meanwhile they could be subject to charges of criminal contempt of Congress if they decline to answer subpoenas from the panel.

"Though the Select Committee welcomes good-faith engagement with witnesses seeking to cooperate with our investigation, we will not allow any witness to defy a lawful subpoena or attempt to run out the clock, and we will swiftly consider advancing a criminal contempt of Congress referral," said Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) and Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) in a statement.

With additional reporting from AFP

'You know nothing!' Ex-cop explodes on Jim Jordan as House Judiciary hearing goes off the rails

Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), a former police officer, clashed with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) on Tuesday during a House Judiciary hearing.

"I served as a law enforcement officer for 27 years. It is a tough job. And good police officers deserve your support," Demings said. She then accused Republicans of only supporting police when it is politically convenient, prompting Jordan to interrupt.

"Did I strike a nerve?" Demings responded, adding that police officers should not be used as political pawns. "You and your colleagues should be ashamed of yourselves."

The outburst led House Judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) to plead with members of the committee to not interrupt one another.

"When you give a speech about motives and questioning motives... how do we address that?" Jordan protested.

"I have watched [police officers] live and die, and you know nothing about that," Demings said.

Watch video below:

Val Demings vs Jim Jordan

White House reporters baffled after they’re abruptly summoned to the Cabinet room – then dismissed

The White House media pool was summoned to gather in the Cabinet room for an event on Friday, only to be told that the event was canceled.

Several White House reporters expressed bafflement at the abrupt turnabout.

Axios had reported that President Donald Trump planned to issue "a wave of pardons" on Friday, leading some reporters to believe he was about to make the announcement.

"This could be it folks," remarked Daily Caller White House correspondent Christian Datoc on Twitter.

"Lol sike, cancelled," he added moments later, after the event was called off.

Joe Biden projected to win the 2020 presidential race after pulling ahead of Trump in crucial states

Joe Biden is now projected to win the 2020 presidential race after surging ahead in key swing states. MSNBC and CNN have both called the race for the Democratic candidate.

The Rust Belt states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania proved to be crucial in the 2020 election, after Biden flipped Arizona and Trump was projected to win the states of Florida and Texas.

Biden also picked up an Electoral College vote in a Nebraska congressional district. In 2016, Trump won all five of Nebraska's electoral votes.

Fueling fears of a constitutional crisis, Trump prematurely declared victory early Wednesday morning and threatened to demand the intervention of the Supreme Court to stop vote-counting but it continued nonetheless.

"We did win this election," the 74-year-old president told cheering supporters in the East Room of the White House before the final vote tallies were complete. "This is a fraud on the American public."

The Biden campaign slammed Trump's victory claim as "outrageous, unprecedented, and incorrect" and a "naked effort to take away the democratic rights of American citizens."

"The counting will not stop. It will continue until every duly cast vote is counted," it said. "If the president makes good on his threat to go to court to try to prevent the proper tabulation of votes, we have legal teams standing by ready to deploy to resist that effort."

The tight White House race and recriminations evoked memories of the 2000 election between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore.

The Bush vs Gore race, which rested on a handful of votes in Florida, eventually ended up in the Supreme Court, which halted a recount while Bush was ahead.

A deluge of mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down the vote count in some states this year, several of which only began counting mail-in ballots on Tuesday.

Record turnout

The US Elections Project estimated total turnout at a record 160 million voters including more than 101.1 early voters, 65.2 million of whom voted by mail.

In an election that took cast under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than 230,000 lives in the United States, Trump appeared to have avoided a Democratic wave predicted by some polls.

But it remained unclear early Wednesday morning which candidate would capture the 270 votes needed for victory in the Electoral College that determines the winner of the presidential race.

Trump took the podium at the White House after 2:00 am and declared that he would go to the Supreme Court because "we want all voting to stop."

Voting had already ended by the time Trump began speaking and he appeared to be calling for the nation's highest court to stop vote counting.

Trump has railed for months against mail-in ballots, charging without evidence they could be fraudulent.

Biden had earlier warned that vote counting would take a while as he greeted his own backers at a socially distanced rally in his home state of Delaware.

"We believe we're on track to win this election," the 77-year-old former vice president and senator from Delaware said. "Keep the faith, guys, we're going to win this."

Trump for the past four years has often been quick to say he is being treated unfairly but even a few of his fellow Republicans voiced unease at his dramatic intervention.

"Stop. Full stop. The votes will be counted and you will either win or lose. And America will accept that. Patience is a virtue," tweeted Adam Kinzinger, a Republican congressman who won reelection.

"I disagree with what he did tonight," said former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who helped Trump prepare for his first debate against Biden.

"There's just no basis to make that argument tonight," Christie told ABC News. "There just isn't."

'Constitutional crisis'?

Foreign countries also sounded the alarm, with German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer warning Trump could create a "constitutional crisis."

Biden is the first Democrat in 24 years to win Arizona, seizing on the southwestern state's changing demographics and the popularity of astronaut Mark Kelly, who won a Senate seat held by a Republican.

But no other states immediately flipped and Trump won an early prize in Florida, where his hard line against Latin American leftists helped him make inroads among Cuban Americans.

Democratic hopes fizzled of turning around Texas, a Republican bastion indispensable for Trump, and Ohio.

Biden, as expected, comfortably won the biggest prize of all, California, as well as New York and easily kept Minnesota and New Hampshire, two states where Hillary Clinton in 2016 had only eked out victories over Trump.

Attention again turned to three states that elected Trump four years ago -- Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Biden said he was feeling "real good" about Michigan and Wisconsin and voiced confidence about Pennsylvania, where he was born.

Biden said he was also competitive in Georgia -- a state that until recently had not appeared to be in play -- as election workers in its largest city Atlanta halted counting for the night after a pipe burst.

Pundits had been warning for weeks that this year's election results would take time -- and voiced fears Trump would cause chaos or even violence by questioning the process.

With AFP

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