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Trump pays $110,000 in fines after being held in contempt of court – live | US politics

Trump pays fine in New York contempt case

Joanna Walters

Former US president Donald Trump has paid the $110,000 in fines he racked up after being held in contempt of court for being slow to respond to a civil subpoena issued by New York’s attorney general, the Associated Press writes.

Trump paid the fine Thursday but must still submit additional paperwork in order to have the contempt order lifted, the office of attorney general Letitia James said Friday.

A message seeking comment was left Friday with Trump’s lawyer.

A Manhattan judge declared Trump in contempt of court on April 25 and fined him $10,000 per day for not complying with a subpoena in James’ long-running investigation into his business practices.

“You’re the puppet!” Donald Trump at a rally in Ohio in April, 2022.
“You’re the puppet!” Donald Trump at a rally in Ohio in April, 2022. Photograph: Joe Maiorana/AP

Judge Arthur Engoron agreed May 11 to lift the contempt order if, by Friday, Trump paid the fines and submitted affidavits detailing efforts to search for the subpoenaed records and explaining his and his company’s document retention policies.

Engoron also required a company hired by Trump to aid in the search, HaystackID, finish going through 17 boxes kept in off-site storage, and for that company to report its findings and turn over any relevant documents. That process was completed Thursday, James’ office said.

Engoron told Trump to pay the money directly to James’ office and for the attorney general to hold the money in an escrow account while Trump’s legal team appeals the judge’s original contempt finding.

Engoron stopped the fine from accruing May 6, when Trump’s lawyers submitted 66 pages of court documents detailing the efforts by him and his lawyers to locate the subpoenaed records. He warned that he could reinstate it, retroactive to May 7, if his conditions weren’t met.

James, a Democrat, has said her three-year investigation uncovered evidence that Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, misstated the value of assets like skyscrapers and golf courses on financial statements for over a decade.
Trump, a Republican, denies the allegations.

Trump’s lawyers have accused her of selective prosecution. Trump is also suing James in federal court, seeking to shut down her probe.

Last week, a lawyer for James’ office said that evidence found in the probe could support legal action against the former president, his company, or both.

The lawyer, Andrew Amer, said at a hearing in Trump’s lawsuit against James that:

There’s clearly been a substantial amount of evidence amassed that could support the filing of an enforcement proceeding.”

A final determination on filing such an action has not been made.

NY Attorney General Letitia James (Center, wearing 1973 tee shirt to signal support for the supreme court’s historic 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that legalized abortion in the US) marches in Brooklyn for reproductive choice. Front, right is US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
NY Attorney General Letitia James (Center, wearing 1973 tee shirt to signal support for the supreme court’s historic 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that legalized abortion in the US) marches in Brooklyn for reproductive choice. Front, right is US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Appeals court backs Florida’s ‘racist’ congressional redistricting

A see-saw legal battle over Florida’s “racist” redestricting of its congressional maps has tilted back in favor of Republican governor Ron DeSantis.

An appeals court on Friday removed a block on the new maps that a circuit judge – one appointed by DeSantis himself – had imposed.

Ron DeSantis.
Ron DeSantis. Photograph: Joe Burbank/AP

It means that, for now at least, the governor’s hand-drawn redistricting stands. It effectively removes Black representation from areas in the state’s north by dividing Florida’s Black majority fifth district into four smaller ones where the vote will be diluted.

Although Florida’s Republican controlled legislature should have been the body to draw up the maps, it abrogated the responsibility to DeSantis then obediently gave the governor’s proposal swift approval at a hastily convened special legislative session last month.

That sparked a lawsuit from voting rights groups, and the hold put on DeSantis’s map by circuit court judge Layne Smith last week that the 1st District Court of Appeals overturned today.

“Based on a preliminary review, the court has determined there is a high likelihood that the temporary injunction is unlawful, because by awarding a preliminary remedy to the appellees [plaintiffs] on their claim, the order ‘frustrated the status quo, rather than preserved it,’” the appeals court said.

In simple terms, the court indicated it was fine with DeSantis carving up the congressional map however he saw fit.

Michael Li, a redistricting expert at the Brennan Center for Justice, said of DeSantis last month:

This is a deeply racist move that targets Black political power. What he’s doing in the Florida fifth just seems gratuitous. It seems mean-spirited.

Read more:

Interim summary

It’s been a lively morning and there’s more to come in the next few hours so please stay tuned for live updates in US political news.

Here’s where things stand:

  • Former US president Donald Trump has paid the $110,000 in fines he racked up after being held in contempt of court for being slow to respond to a civil subpoena issued by New York’s attorney general Letitia James.
  • Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of supreme court justice Clarence Thomas, pressed Arizona lawmakers to set aside Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state, the Washington Post reports.
  • There’s more trouble at home for Joe Biden as he ends the first day of his Asian tour: his approval rating has dropped to the lowest point of his presidency.
  • Bill Barr, attorney general in the Trump administration, is reportedly in negotiations to testify before the special House committee investigating the events on and surrounding the insurrection at the US Capitol by extremist supporters of Donald Trump on January 6, 2021, who were intent on overturning Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.

Trump pays fine in New York contempt case

Joanna Walters

Joanna Walters

Former US president Donald Trump has paid the $110,000 in fines he racked up after being held in contempt of court for being slow to respond to a civil subpoena issued by New York’s attorney general, the Associated Press writes.

Trump paid the fine Thursday but must still submit additional paperwork in order to have the contempt order lifted, the office of attorney general Letitia James said Friday.

A message seeking comment was left Friday with Trump’s lawyer.

A Manhattan judge declared Trump in contempt of court on April 25 and fined him $10,000 per day for not complying with a subpoena in James’ long-running investigation into his business practices.

“You’re the puppet!” Donald Trump at a rally in Ohio in April, 2022.
“You’re the puppet!” Donald Trump at a rally in Ohio in April, 2022. Photograph: Joe Maiorana/AP

Judge Arthur Engoron agreed May 11 to lift the contempt order if, by Friday, Trump paid the fines and submitted affidavits detailing efforts to search for the subpoenaed records and explaining his and his company’s document retention policies.

Engoron also required a company hired by Trump to aid in the search, HaystackID, finish going through 17 boxes kept in off-site storage, and for that company to report its findings and turn over any relevant documents. That process was completed Thursday, James’ office said.

Engoron told Trump to pay the money directly to James’ office and for the attorney general to hold the money in an escrow account while Trump’s legal team appeals the judge’s original contempt finding.

Engoron stopped the fine from accruing May 6, when Trump’s lawyers submitted 66 pages of court documents detailing the efforts by him and his lawyers to locate the subpoenaed records. He warned that he could reinstate it, retroactive to May 7, if his conditions weren’t met.

James, a Democrat, has said her three-year investigation uncovered evidence that Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, misstated the value of assets like skyscrapers and golf courses on financial statements for over a decade.
Trump, a Republican, denies the allegations.

Trump’s lawyers have accused her of selective prosecution. Trump is also suing James in federal court, seeking to shut down her probe.

Last week, a lawyer for James’ office said that evidence found in the probe could support legal action against the former president, his company, or both.

The lawyer, Andrew Amer, said at a hearing in Trump’s lawsuit against James that:

There’s clearly been a substantial amount of evidence amassed that could support the filing of an enforcement proceeding.”

A final determination on filing such an action has not been made.

NY Attorney General Letitia James (Center, wearing 1973 tee shirt to signal support for the supreme court’s historic 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that legalized abortion in the US) marches in Brooklyn for reproductive choice. Front, right is US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
NY Attorney General Letitia James (Center, wearing 1973 tee shirt to signal support for the supreme court’s historic 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that legalized abortion in the US) marches in Brooklyn for reproductive choice. Front, right is US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Ginni Thomas urged Arizona lawmakers to reverse Biden victory – report

The Washington Post said Friday it had obtained emails showing that Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of supreme court justice Clarence Thomas, pressed Arizona lawmakers to set aside Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state and choose “a clean slate of electors”.

Thomas wrote to two unidentified lawmakers on 9 November 2020, the newspaper says, six days after the general election, arguing they needed to intervene because the vote had been marred by fraud.

Ginni Thomas.
Ginni Thomas. Photograph: Susan Walsh/AP

The emails came two days after media organizations declared Biden the victor in Arizona, and nationally.

Thomas urged the lawmakers to “stand strong in the face of political and media pressure”, the Post says, telling them responsibility to choose electors to present Arizona’s result to Congress for certification was “yours and yours alone” and that they had the “power to fight back against fraud”.

In Arizona, as in the rest of the country, there was no evidence of widespread fraud.

Yet in sending the emails, the newspaper noted, Thomas played a significant role in Donald Trump’s scheming to substitute the will of Republican-controlled legislatures for the will of voters.

Thomas has come under increasing scrutiny for her activities since the election and support of Trump’s big lie that it was stolen from him.

In March, the Post obtained text messages between Thomas and Trump’s then chief of staff Mark Meadows, also sent in the days following the election, calling on him to do anything he could to subvert the democratic result.

Either Joe Biden is having a very late night, or somebody on his staff is. It’s after 1.30 in the morning in Seoul, South Korea, and the president’s official Twitter account has burst back into life with news and photos from the first day of his Asia tour (this after a lengthy two-stage flight late Thursday into Friday morning from Washington DC to Seoul, via Alaska):

The United States and the Republic of Korea work together to make the best, most advanced technology in the world. This factory is proof. And that gives us both a competitive edge in the global economy if we can keep our supply chains resilient, reliable, and secure. pic.twitter.com/l9NgV9zC9b

— President Biden (@POTUS) May 20, 2022

Jonathan Freedland

Jonathan Freedland

In a week when a teenager shot dead 10 Black people in Buffalo, New York, apparently motivated by the ‘great replacement’ theory, Jonathan Freedland speaks to Michael Harriot and Anne Applebaum about why this racist ideology has become mainstream in rightwing circles in the US, and why we shouldn’t be surprised.

Listen to the Guardian’s latest Politics Weekly America podcast here:

Politics Weekly America

Will Republicans drop the ‘great replacement’ theory? Politics Weekly America

Donald Trump appears to be engaged in a hasty retreat from next week’s Republican governor’s primary in Georgia, in which his vendetta against the incumbent Brian Kemp looks about to blow up in his face.

The former president went all in on the candidacy of former senator David Perdue, convinced his hand-picked choice was certain to oust Kemp from the governor’s mansion.

David Perdue.
David Perdue. Photograph: Brynn Anderson/AP

Kemp angered Trump by refusing to bend to his demands to overturn his 2020 defeat by Joe Biden.

However, after a bright start in the polls, Perdue – a recent convert to Trump’s big lie of a stolen election – appears to have lost his luster and now trails Kemp by a seemingly unassailable margin, according to RealClearPolitics.

Accordingly, Trump is washing his hands of Perdue, according to NBC News, which said on Friday he’s given up the Perdue campaign for dead and won’t be making any more appearances or offering any further support.

Trump, the article says, citing anonymous insiders, “has groused about what he believes is a lackluster campaign effort from Perdue”.

It also quoted Kemp’s lieutenant governor Geoff Duncan, who said Trump had engaged in “a very shallow attempt at trying to unseat a perfectly fit conservative governor”:

At the end of the day, Donald Trump doesn’t care about David Perdue winning. He just cared about Brian Kemp losing.

Defeat for Perdue would be a particularly bloody nose for Trump, who likes to boast about the power of his endorsements. Former president Mike Pence, with whom Trump has also feuded in recent months, campaigned for Kemp.

Regardless of the outcome of the Kemp v Perdue race, Georgia is unlikely to be a total dead loss for Trump. His pick for the Republican senate nomination, former NFL star Herschel Walker, enjoys a huge lead, more than 60% in some polls, over rivals.

Joe Biden has been talking microchips in South Korea, touring a factory that could become the model for a similar facility in Texas he says will keep the US at the forefront of new technology.

The president also promised closer cooperation between the US and South Korea in an address with the country’s leader Yoon Suk Yeol.

“It’s emblematic of the future of cooperation and innovation that our nations can and must build together,” Biden said of the Samsung semiconductor plant in Pyeongtaek.

The company he said, was investing $17bn in US operations, including the new factory in Texas he said would create 3,000 new jobs:

So much of the future of the world is going to be written here, in the Indo Pacific, over the next several decades. This is the moment, in my view, to invest in one another to deepen our business ties, to bring our people even closer together.

It’s past midnight now in Seoul, so we’re not expecting any more news from the president’s first Asian visit of his presidency in the next few hours.

But we do know that the bill passed by the US Senate on Thursday approving $40bn in new military, economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine is being flown to South Korea for Biden’s urgent signature.

Here’s the video of Biden’s address from Friday night:

We’re still waiting for the final result from Tuesday’s Republican senate primary in Pennsylvania, in which Donald Trump’s endorsed candidate, celebrity TV doctor Mehmet Oz, and former treasury official David McCormick are separated by only a few hundred votes with 99% of the count in.

But there was a clear winner in the race to become the Republican nominee for state governor in November’s midterms – Trump loyalist and big lie proponent Doug Mastriano.

Doug Mastriano.
Doug Mastriano. Photograph: Michael M Santiago/Getty Images

My colleague Sam Levine has this profile of the extremist, whom critics fear will be in charge of appointing officials to oversee the state’s elections if he wins later this year, and who will theoretically have the power to reject a result he doesn’t like:

Bill de Blasio, the former mayor of New York city, is running for Congress in a district that includes areas of Manhattan and his home in western Brooklyn.

He made the announcement on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday, shortly before his Bill de Blasio for Congress website went live with the campaign slogan: “The only way to save our democracy is to be a part of it”.

Bill de Blasio.
Bill de Blasio. Photograph: Jeenah Moon/AP

De Blasio, whose second term as NYC mayor ended last year, is seeking election in New York’s 10th congressional district, currently represented by Democrat Jerry Nadler.

Redistricting under the supervision of a New York judge, which Nadler says is unconstitutional, has forced him into a race for the 12th district with another Democratic incumbent, Carolyn Maloney, opening up the 10th for de Blasio’s run.

The state’s primary has been pushed back from June to 23 August following legal wrangling over the legality of New York’s maps and a court’s decision last month that Democrats’ original proposals were too heavily in their own favor.

De Blasio, 61, toyed with running for governor this year, the Associated Press says, but decided not to challenge incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul. He also had a short-lived run for president in 2019.

Biden approval rating at lowest point of presidency

There’s more trouble at home for Joe Biden as he ends the first day of his Asian tour: his approval rating has dropped to the lowest point of his presidency.

Raging inflation, soaring gas prices, the baby formula shortage and a failure to deliver on campaign promises were cited by respondents in an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Research study that also reflects deepening pessimism among his own Democratic party.

Protesters in Seoul, South Korea, at an anti-US protest on Friday.
Protesters in Seoul, South Korea, at an anti-US protest on Friday. Photograph: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Only 39% of US adults approve of Biden’s performance as president, a further drop from already negative ratings a month earlier.

Overall, only about two in 10 adults say the US is heading in the right direction or the economy is good, both down from about three in 10 a month earlier. Those drops were concentrated among Democrats, with just 33% within the president’s party saying the country is headed in the right direction, down from 49% in April.

Of particular concern for Biden ahead of the midterm elections, his approval among Democrats stands at 73%, a substantial drop since earlier in his presidency. In AP-NORC polls conducted in 2021, Biden’s approval rating among Democrats never dropped below 82%.

The findings reflect a widespread sense of exasperation in a country facing a cascade of challenges ranging from inflation, gun violence, and a sudden shortage of baby formula to a persistent pandemic.

“I don’t know how much worse it can get,” Milan Ramsey, a 29-year-old high school counselor and Democrat in Santa Monica, California, told the AP. She said she and her husband had to move into her parents’ house to raise their infant son.

“He hasn’t delivered on any of the promises. I think he’s tired and I don’t blame him, I’d be tired too at his age with the career he’s had.”

Biden has been attempting to play up his successes at home over improved unemployment figures and his bipartisan infrastructure bill, and the White House sees his tour of Asia, including meetings with the leaders of South Korea and Japan, as an opportunity to market the US abroad.

But the trip has already attracted unwelcome headlines. A member of Biden’s advance security detail was arrested for allegedly assaulting a South Korean citizen in Seoul in a dispute over a taxi, and CNN reports that two secret services agents have been sent home.

It is not known if it relates to the same incident.

Read more:

6 January inquiry wants former attorney general on the record, sources say

Bill Barr, the former attorney general who says he told Donald Trump his fantasy of a stolen election was “bullshit”, could soon be on the record with the 6 January House panel.

Axios is reporting that Barr, who resigned in the waning days of Trump’s single term of office, is in negotiations with the committee to tell what he knows of the days surrounding the deadly insurrection, and Trump’s demand for the justice department to declare the election fraudulent.

Details are scant, the committee is refusing to confirm the story, and it’s not known if Barr will be invited to take part in public hearings the panel will be holding this spring.

But Axios says it has sources with knowledge of the situation who insist Barr is in “active discussions” to follow up his previous informal conversations with the committee with on-the-record testimony and transcribed interviews.

The news comes at an important juncture for the bipartisan inquiry, which wants to complete its work ahead before November’s midterms, when Republicans are expected to win back control of the House and shut it down.

What information Barr has to offer remains to be seen. Most of what we already know about his knowledge of Trump’s desperate efforts to stay in power comes from his book, which the Guardian reviewed in March as a “self-serving narrative that ignores tricky truths”.

But the pace of the 6 January investigation is undoubtedly picking up as members scramble to complete their work.

Separately on Friday, CNN reported that John Eastman, the rightwing attorney and Trump acolyte, was deeply involved in the plot to steal back the election, and has revealed in a court filing that he spoke regularly with, and had handwritten notes from the former president, concerning those efforts.

The panel is chasing those documents, and on Thursday wrote to Georgia congressman Barry Loudermilk seeking information about “reconnaissance tours” of the Capitol the Republican is reported to have hosted on 5 January 2021, one day before Trump’s supporters ransacked the building in efforts to stop Congress certifying his defeat.

Read more:

Bill Barr poised to give testimony to January 6 panel

Good morning blog readers, and welcome! We’ve made it to Friday, but as you know, the pace of US politics never winds down!

We’re learning that Bill Barr, the former attorney general, is poised to give sworn testimony to the 6 January House committee investigating Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat.

Axios reports that Barr, who has already spoken informally to the panel, is in “active discussions” for a formal, transcribed interview.

We’ll have more on that coming up, as well as the following:

  • Joe Biden is in Seoul, South Korea, talking computer chips at a technology factory with ties to Texas. Meanwhile, his popularity rating back home has taken another dive.
  • Vote counting from Tuesday’s Republican senate primary in Pennsylvania is limping towards the finish line, with Trump-endorsed TV doctor Mehmet Oz in a neck-and-neck race with former treasury department official David McCormick.
  • Polls suggest Trump is set for a bruising in next week’s Georgia primary, where David Perdue, the former senator Trump wants to replace incumbent Republican governor Brian Kemp, has fallen further behind.
  • Covid-19 cases are rising again across the US, and there’s little sign that Congress is willing to fund Biden’s requested $22.5bn relief package for vaccines, testing and therapeutics.
  • A decision is expected imminently from a federal judge in Louisiana, who will decide if the Biden administration can proceed with plans to end next Monday the Trump-era Title 42 immigration policy keeping refugees at the border because of the pandemic.

Stick with us as the days unfolds, and you can also follow developments in the Ukraine conflict in our global live news blog here.



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