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“Borders on Pathological”: Judge Hands Trump Brutal Beatdown in Fraud Trial

New York Judge Arthur Engoron didn’t hold back when issuing his damning $364 million judgment.

Judge Arthur Engoron
Shannon Stapleton/Pool/Getty Images

New York Judge Arthur Engoron didn’t mince words in his damning ruling against Donald Trump, his two adult sons, and the Trump Organization—on whose collective backs he hoisted a $364 million penalty for rampant fraud.

In a brutal 92-page decision released on Friday, Engoron took the Trump family to task for their repeated refusal to admit any error.

“The English poet Alexander Pope … first declared, ‘To err is human, to forgive is Divine,’” Engoron wrote. “Defendants apparently are of a different mind. After some four years of investigation and litigation, the only error (‘inadvertent’ of course) that they acknowledge is the tripling of the size of the Trump Tower Penthouse, which cannot be gainsaid.”

“Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological,” he added.

“They are accused only of inflating asset values to make more money. The documents prove this over and over again. This is a venial sin, not a mortal sin. Defendants did not commit murder or arson. They did not rob a bank at gunpoint. Donald Trump is not Bernard Madoff. Yet, defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways. Instead, they adopt a ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ posture that the evidence belies.”

“This court is mindful that this action is not the first time the Trump Organization or its related entities [have] been found to have engaged in corporate malfeasance,” Engoron wrote elsewhere in the ruling. “This is not defendants’ first rodeo.”

Trump himself was ordered to pay $355 million in fines, while Donald Jr. and Eric Trump were fined $4 million each. Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer, was penalized an additional $1 million.

Moreover, Trump cannot serve as an officer or director of any New York company for the next three years—including his own companies. His two adult sons are also banned from doing any business in New York for the next two years.

Last, the ruling bans them from applying for loans from financial institutions in New York for the next three years. Which probably makes sense, given it was a fraud trial after all.

Trump Is Not OK. Here’s What He Posted After That $350 Million Fine.

The former president is facing a whopping fine in his civil fraud trial, and he … is posting some weird things.

Donald Trump yelling
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Moments after Donald Trump got walloped with a $354 million financial penalty and banned from operating businesses in New York for committing real estate–related bank fraud, he took to Truth Social to complain about … a 2017 photo that makes him look fat.

For no clear reason, Trump brought the doctored photo, which depicts Trump’s face on an image of professional golfer and Trump supporter John Daly, back into the limelight.

“The Fake News used Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) to create the picture on the top left,” Trump wrote. “These are despicable people, but everyone knows that. The other pictures are me hitting Golf balls today to show the difference. Sadly, in our Country, Fake News is all you get!”

Fake news, according to Trump, anyway, is apparently anything that makes him look bad. Over the last several days, Trump has repeatedly posted his own, legitimately fake news, trimming and editing articles from various publications to remove any negative mentions regarding him and any positive mentions of his campaign rival, President Joe Biden.

But that wasn’t all that was on Trump’s mind Friday afternoon. He also posted that he was looking forward to attending a sneaker convention in Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, at least his campaign staff seemed to recognize the truly dire straits Trump is in.

His campaign wasted no time in cashing in on the devastating comeuppance, asking his supporters to give him their cash.

“We need a MASSIVE PEACEFUL PUSHBACK right here, right now,” Trump’s fundraising website read after being updated to include a mention of his court loss. “Before the end of the day, I’m calling on ONE MILLION PRO-TRUMP Patriots to chip in and proudly say: END THE WITCH HUNT AGAINST PRESIDENT TRUMP!

“Only with your support can we STOP these people from DESTROYING our country. I know with you by my side, WE WILL WIN!” it concluded, before prompting for minimum donations of $20.24, or $47 “if you think Donald J. Trump is the greatest president of all time.”

In his ruling on Friday, New York Justice Arthur Engoron noted that Trump and his associates’ “lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological.”

“They are accused only of inflating asset values to make more money. The documents prove this over and over again,” the judge added.

This story has been updated.

Update if you want to see his real metldown an hour later:

Trump Wants an Abortion Ban Based on the Weirdest Logic Ever

A new report indicates that Donald Trump wants a more extreme abortion ban if he’s elected president—and also, it’s for the stupidest possible reason.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Donald Trump has decided on an answer to one of the signature policy questions of the 2024 election cycle. It’s simple arithmetic, at least in the former president’s eyes.

On Friday, The New York Times reported that Trump has privately settled on a 16-week national abortion ban. The reason why, according to sources close to Trump? Sixteen is a “round number.”

“Know what I like about 16? It’s even. It’s four months,” Trump said.

Politically sensible as it may sound to Trump, a 16-week ban is not founded in medical science. Abortion is currently banned outright in 14 states, and Trump’s “round-number” ban would represent a rollback of abortion rights in the remaining 36 states.

It would also represent Trump’s most clearly staked-out position on an issue on which he’s been intentionally vague, an electoral strategy born out of the unpopularity of Republicans’ extreme anti-abortion stances post-Dobbs. He has, until now, avoided publicly endorsing a federal abortion ban but has taken credit for abortion bans passed by red states. This fence-sitting act, whereby Trump presents as a moderate while winking at the party’s rabid anti-abortion base, was already tenuous. After all, it was Trump who secured the conservative Supreme Court majority needed to reverse Roe v. Wade.

The 16-week national ban was not Trump’s idea. Republicans have been pushing for it since Dobbs, but the former president’s arbitrary reasoning is by far the cruelest, most ridiculous explanation for a policy that would strip reproductive rights from millions of women and gender minorities across the country.

Very Stable Genius Trump Hammered to Tune of $350 Million in Fraud Trial

New York Judge Arthur Engoron just delivered the final judgment against Donald Trump in his civil fraud trial.

Donald Trump looks agitatd and like he's about to yell something at the camera, hand raised near his mouth. A security guard is in the background, out of focus.

Former President Donald Trump must pay the state of New York over $350 million in damages for widespread bank fraud, Justice Arthur F. Engoron ruled on Friday.

That charge comes with an addendum that Trump cannot serve as an officer or director of a New York company for three years, including his own. His two sons were also penalized by the ruling—they’ll have to stay out of New York business for two years. All in all, Trump will owe roughly $354 million for the real estate-related fraud. His two sons will owe $4 million each.

Trump and the Trump Organization also cannot obtain loans from any New York financial institutions for a period of three years.

Altogether, the verdict delivers a significant blow to the former president’s stockpile of cash, who reportedly holds roughly $600 million in liquid assets.

“Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological,” Engoron wrote in his ruling. “They are accused only of inflating asset values to make more money. The documents prove this over and over again.”

The verdict caps a draining four-month civil trial of the former president that began after Engoron ruled that New York Attorney General Letitia James had already proven Trump committed bank fraud. In the ensuing months, Trump railed against the justice and his court staff for alleged bias, baselessly claiming that Engoron’s chief legal aid had a romantic relationship with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, ushering a swarm of far-right harassment onto her and the rest of Engoron’s court.

In the weeks after the trial, while the world awaited Engoron’s ruling, news broke that Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer, was negotiating a plea deal with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office that forced him to admit he lied while on the witness stand in this trial. Weisselberg was also penalized $1 million in Friday’s ruling.

This is the second recent judgment against Trump that vastly outweighs the original asking price in damages. When the trial began in October, James requested that the state punish Trump and his two sons, Don Jr. and Eric Trump, also Trump Organization executives, to the tune of $250 million. But after significant grandstanding about his alleged net worth during his deposition, James asked in a post-trial brief that the state penalize him for $120 million more, bringing the total sum up to $370 million, a little more than Engoron’s final ruling on Friday.

In January, another federal jury ordered the former president to pay writer E. Jean Carroll a whopping $83.3 million for defamation—more than eight times what her legal team had originally requested. That judgment came after another court found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll and ordered him to pay the writer $5 million.

With these verdicts, Trump now owes more than $440 million in damages.

Trump’s bank fraud trial was full of drama, including a formal gag order on the boisterous GOP front-runner after he railed against the justice and his court staff, claiming that Engoron’s principal law clerk, Allison Greenfield, was dating Senator Chuck Schumer. Trump also shared Greenfield’s Instagram details, effectively ushering a scourge of far-right sympathizers onto her social media accounts.

Trump subsequently violated his gag order twice, resulting in $15,000 in collective fines and the threat of jail time in a civil trial that was never supposed to result in incarceration.

Trump is expected to try to appeal the verdict, just as he did in the E. Jean Carroll trial, but will have to either come up with the cash or secure a bond within 30 days to do so.

“This verdict is a manifest injustice—plain and simple. It is the culmination of a multi-year, politically fueled witch hunt that was designed to ‘take down Donald Trump,’ before Letitia James ever stepped foot into the Attorney General’s office,” Trump attorney Alina Habba said in a statement.

This story has been updated.

Trump Quietly Edits Fox News Story That Was Apparently Too Mean to Him

Donald Trump now thinks his favorite news outlet is too critical.

Brendan McDermid/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s latest mission to edit news stories until they suit his own agenda continued with a new ticket item on Friday, when the GOP front-runner snipped huge sections out of an article from Fox News, of all places.

The Friday morning Truth Social post featured several screenshots of a poll published by the conservative outlet on February 1, indicating that Trump was leading President Joe Biden by double digits in Georgia.

But apparently that angle wasn’t cushy enough for Trump, who opted to erase paragraphs’ worth of details from the piece before sharing it with his millions of followers.

Trump snipped six paragraphs of data indicating that Georgia voters believe Biden was legitimately elected in 2020, mentions of the incumbent’s strategy in the Peach state, quotes relating to Democratic victories, hypothetical five-way race projections involving Nikki Haley, and voter concerns about both Trump’s and Biden’s mental acuity.

Other redacted sections include mentions of Biden’s overwhelming support from liberals, Black voters, voters with college degrees, and suburban women and the reality that voters are split on issues related to health care, election integrity, and abortion, while Biden overwhelmingly comes out on top with voters on the topic of climate change.

Trump also altered a portion of a sentence referring to wins by him and Biden, keeping the portion that mentioned “Trump wins among those who want at least a lot of change” while excising the part that said “Biden wins among the remainder.”

And the former president selectively cut around quotes used in the article to avoid mentions of his opponent.

“On the crucial issues of the border and the economy, Georgia voters think Trump is significantly better,” reads a quote by one of the pollsters, Democrat Chris Anderson, in Trump’s edited version.

But the real article shows how much of Anderson’s quote Trump trimmed away.

“The coalition that gave Biden a slim victory in 2020 is in need of reassembly and that may be harder to do this time,” reads the full quote by Anderson. “On the crucial issues of the border and the economy, Georgia voters think Trump is significantly better—Biden will need to make inroads on these issues to win Georgia again.”

It’s at least the third such instance in which Trump has chopped up a news story this week in a transparent effort to substantiate an emotionally fragile, delusional narrative that he faces no criticism and his political rivals have no merits.

On Wednesday, the former president shared altered screenshots of a Newsweek story to his Truth Social account, omitting a lede reference to the outcome of the 2020 election (which Joe Biden won), while cutting a line about the “81-year-old” Biden being seen as too old to run for president. Trump is 77 years old.

And on Tuesday, MeidasTouch caught him altering another piece by the weekly news magazine, posting screenshots of an article titled “Donald Trump Poised to Be First Republican to Win Popular Vote in 20 Years,” removing several sections from the original story that referenced Biden’s strengths as a candidate, Biden’s predicted wins, and Trump’s failures. The only indication that he heavily edited the piece was some ellipses.

In recent months, Trump has increasingly shared content from far-right outlets like Newsmax and Right Side Broadcasting Network. Considering his 91 criminal charges, recent major trial losses, and rickety political platform, perhaps media manipulation is the only way the GOP front-runner can get the kind of press he desires in mainstream outlets, including his former favorite network.

What Tucker Carlson Said About Alexei Navalny and Putin Killing People

A few days ago, Tucker Carlson gave a horrific answer on Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who just died in prison.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Tucker Carlson’s latest defense of authoritarianism has already come back to haunt him.

Just days before Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny died in prison, the ousted Fox News host was making excuses for Vladimir Putin’s political assassinations.

Speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Monday, Carlson, newly returned from his trip to Russia to interview Vladimir Putin and pick up groceries, defended his softball questions for the Russian president.

As Egyptian journalist Emad El Din Adeeb pointed out, Carlson did not use the interview to address the Russian regime’s imprisonment of journalists, restrictions on speech, or the persecution of Navalny.

“[I] have concluded the following: that every leader kills people–including my leader. Some kill more than others,” Carlson replied. “Leadership requires killing people, sorry.”

Navalny died Friday at 47 after three years in prison, not even one week after Carlson’s relativizing excuse.

Joe Manchin Announces He Was Totally Kidding About That President Thing

Joe Manchin held an entire press conference to admit he wasted all our time just for fun.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senator Joe Manchin has officially plucked his tentative cap out of the proverbial ring, announcing that he will not be running for president in an already chaotic election year.

“I will not be seeking a third-party run. I will not be involved in a presidential run,” he finally said Friday, in a speech at West Virginia University. “I am not going to be a deal breaker, if you will, a spoiler.”

That’s exactly what everyone had been warning him about for the last year.

Manchin, a so-called conservative Democrat from West Virginia, had previously announced that he would not be seeking reelection in the Senate, instead spending months traveling across the country to see if he could be the one to “bring Americans together” as a third-party candidate. That is, despite his legacy as a consistently stubborn vote in a narrowly divided Senate.

“Everyone says ‘Joe, are you running?’ The only thing I’m running for is to save this nation, and whatever it takes. There are people out there; there’s a lot of good people. If we can get them energized, there’s a lot of good people that could get in there,” Manchin told reporters in November.

On Thursday, Manchin had not ruled out tapping Senator Mitt Romney or Ohio Senator Rob Portman as a possible running mate, reported local West Virginia publication MetroNews.

Although Manchin’s candidacy was so quiet it practically could have stayed a secret, his push for the White House came after years spent in frustration and tumult over American polarization that increasingly evaded middle ground.

“I know of a lot of my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, who left here early because they couldn’t take it anymore,” Manchin said. “These are good, solid Americans who are very centrist. Some of them were governors before. They couldn’t stand being here because they had to be weaponizing the party system by joining up on the extremes or leave.”

The 76-year-old lawmaker’s unsurprising exit comes at a time when both major candidates, GOP front-runner Donald Trump and incumbent President Joe Biden, are already facing critical heat related to their age. The race breaks a record, set only by each candidate four years earlier, for the most elderly contenders gunning for the most powerful leadership post in the world.

James Comer’s Reaction to Shocking FBI Informant Indictment? Take a Guess

The House Oversight chair is acting like he didn’t just lose his biggest Biden corruption witness.

James Comer looks off camera
Julia Nikhinson/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The GOP impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden came to an incredible standstill Thursday night when a grand jury indicted the House Oversight Committee’s star witness in its Biden impeachment crusade.

Special Counsel David Weiss announced the indictment of Alexander Smirnov on one count of making a false statement and one count of creating a false record, related to what he told the FBI in 2020 about alleged corruption by the Biden family and its connection to Ukrainian-owned Burisma Holdings.

In an FBI 1023 report, Smirnov shared “false derogatory information about [President Biden] and [Hunter Biden] ... in 2020, after [Biden] became a presidential candidate,” according to charging documents.

So how did Republicans react to the cataclysmic indictment that tore through the heart of their inquiry by revealing their informant made it all up? By scrambling to refabricate the superficial probe’s shattered remains, of course.

In the wake of the grand jury indictment, Committee Chair James Comer attempted to claim that the “impeachment inquiry is not reliant on the FBI’s FD-1023,” insisting instead that the bureau’s previous credibility endorsement of Smirnov was still relevant.

“To be clear, the impeachment inquiry is not reliant on the FBI’s FD-1023. It is based on a large record of evidence, including bank records and witness testimony, revealing that Joe Biden knew of and participated in his family’s business dealings,” Comer said.

“When asked by the committee about their confidence in the confidential human source, the FBI told the committee the confidential human source was credible and trusted, had worked with the FBI for over a decade, and had been paid six figures,” the Kentucky Republican continued.

Legal representatives for the White House were unsurprised by the development.

“For months we have warned that Republicans have built their conspiracies about Hunter and his family on lies told by people with political agendas, not facts,” Hunter Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, said in a statement. “We were right and the air is out of their balloon.”

Republicans had spent months building up the hype around Smirnov as a witness, isolating his allegation that Biden had pocketed millions of dollars from the Ukrainian company as the centerpiece of their probe.

“The impeachable offenses, I think the key thing is in Burisma,” House Judiciary Committee Chairmen Jim Jordan told reporters in December.

GOP Senator Gives Dire Warning on Putin Apologists After Navalny Death

Senator Thom Tillis isn’t mincing words after the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Senator Thom Tillis
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis paid tribute to Alexei Navalny after the Russian dissident died in prison Friday.

“Navalny laid down his life fighting for the freedom of the country he loved,” Tillis wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Putin is a murderous, paranoid dictator. History will not be kind to those in America who make apologies for Putin and praise Russian autocracy.”

In condemning American apologists for Putin, Tillis may have been referencing Tucker Carlson, whose recent interview with the Russian president drew sharp criticism. Tillis himself savaged Carlson’s Moscow grocery store stunt on Thursday, calling Carlson a “useful idiot.”

But he may have also been taking a not-so-veiled shot at other members of his party. Tillis’s position on Russia is evidently not shared by all of his Republican colleagues in the Senate. Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville and Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson both expressed reserved praise for Putin’s leadership earlier this week, in comments that look even worse after Navalny’s death.

Tillis, it should be noted, was previously endorsed by Trump and has been careful not to criticize the Republican Party’s front-runner who once called Putin a “genius.”

The North Carolina senator’s comments are hardly a bold geopolitical stance in 2024, but they gesture at a different political reality: There may be a new Cold War brewing in the Republican Party.

Twitter Files’ Matt Taibbi Says Elon Musk Sent Him Unhinged Messages

The former “Twitter Files” journalist has apparently fallen out of the good graces of billionaire Elon Musk.

STR/NurPhoto/Getty Images

It appears Elon Musk has turned against yet another ally in his wayward war against online censorship.

On Thursday, Matt Taibbi, the Rolling Stone journalist turned blogger, posted screenshots of text messages from Musk allegedly showing that Taibbi had been “shadowbanned” on X, formerly known as Twitter, as revenge for Taibbi’s deal with the publishing platform Substack, which last spring launched Notes, an X competitor.

“Elon, I’ve repeatedly declined to criticize you and have nothing to do with your beef with Substack,” Taibbi’s messages show. “Is there a reason why I’m being put in the middle of things? This seems really crazy.”

“You are dead to me. Please get off Twitter and just stay on Substack,” Musk appears to have replied, all but confirming Taibbi’s suspicion that he was the victim of a “blanket search ban.”

Allegations of censorship would mark an acrimonious, ironic end to Musk and Taibbi’s relationship after Musk trusted Taibbi with publishing the “Twitter Files,” a collection of documents purporting to show X’s (then Twitter’s) coordination with the FBI to suppress mentions of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden story and other tweets critical of Democrats. Taibbi, whose exposés of the financial industry in the wake of the 2008 recession garnered the public’s admiration, called the Files, hand-delivered by Musk after he purchased Twitter in 2022, “by far the most serious thing I have looked at, and certainly the most brave story I’ve ever worked on personally.” But Taibbi’s work was called into question by several journalists who reviewed it, and the Twitter Files never had the industry-upending effect Taibbi and Musk promised.

Taibbi retreated to his own Substack to continue to write, and Musk reshaped Twitter in his own Groyper-ish image. Now it appears business has gotten in the way of Taibbi and Musk’s access-based friendship. It’s not immediately clear what this falling out will mean for the future of censorship on X, but it amounts to a burn notice for the source who gave Taibbi the supposed best scoop of his career. At the very least, Taibbi will have plenty of time off X to reflect on his previous work.