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Judge Warns Trump’s Idiot Lawyer His Entire Credibility Is at Risk

Todd Blanche appears to be quickly making things worse for Donald Trump in the hush-money trial.

Shot from above of Todd Blanche and Donald Trump sitting side by side in court
Timothy A. Clary-Pool/Getty Images

An attorney for Donald Trump’s legal defense in his New York criminal trial took a serious misstep on Tuesday that resulted in a critical warning from Judge Juan Merchan.

On the second day of the trial, attorney Todd Blanche attempted to portray Trump as an individual fully aware of the limitations of the partial gag order imposed on him in the trial, which forbids him from speaking publicly about courtroom staff, prosecutors, or any of their family members. Comments about jurors are also prohibited, as well as comments about witnesses, though comments about Merchan and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg are still on the table.

Still, Trump has already managed to violate the gag order about a dozen times, according to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

“President Trump does in fact know what the gag order allows him to do and what it does not allow him to do,” Blanche told the court, insisting that his client had not violated the court order since Trump’s comments toward witnesses, including adult film actress Stormy Daniels and his former fixer Michael Cohen, allegedly came after they had spoken about him first.

“He’s allowed to respond to political attacks, your honor,” Blanche said, according to MSNBC’s Adam Klasfled.

But Merchan remembered the order of events, reminding Blanche that Trump’s disparaging remarks had in fact come before the others’.

“President Trump ‘Truths’ repeatedly, all day, virtually seven days a week, your honor,” Blanche replied.

The ensuing back-and-forth between Blanche and Merchan continued to a rolling boil until Blanche suddenly claimed that the violations at hand—which involve Trump “reposting an article from a news site” or a “news program”—don’t actually violate the order. Still, Blanche had no precedent or case law to support such a claim.

“I don’t have any case law,” Blanche said, instead calling it “common sense” and doubling down that Trump had been “very careful to comply” with the order.

That was, apparently, the straw that broke the camel’s back, after which Merchan dropped that the attorney had gone too far.

“Mr. Blanche, you are losing all credibility with the court,” Merchan said, according to LawFare’s Anna Bower.

“You say the posts are ambiguous, you say he didn’t know, but you’re not offering me anything to support your argument. You’re not giving me anything to hang my hat on,” Merchan continued.

“The fact that the prosecution did not come running in here as [soon] as your client posted things too close to the line is not probative of anything here,” he added before telling the court to take a break.

Ex-Giuliani Associate Exposes “How Things Work” in Trump Government

Lev Parnas revealed Rudy Giuliani employed a pay-to-play scheme.

Lev Parnas sits at a table
Alex Wong/Getty Images

A former associate of Rudy Giuliani is still dishing out the dirt on the inner machinations of Donald Trump’s administration.

Lev Parnas, a Ukrainian American businessman, helped Giuliani connect with Ukrainian officials in his effort to “find dirt on the Bidens” that could potentially hurt then-presidential candidate Joe Biden’s chances at taking the White House. That included connecting the Trump administration with an assortment of Ukrainian leaders, including the former Minister of Internal Affairs Yuriy Lutsenko.

Parnas dropped an eyebrow-raising story about Lutsenko Monday night, revealing how twisted international affairs became under the Trump administration.

“Lutsenko told me, ‘I’m the General Prosecutor of Ukraine, I want to meet A.G. Barr,’ so, I tell that to Rudy and he’s like, ‘Look, you want to meet Attorney General [Bill] Barr, the way things work here is you pay a lobbyist and they will get you in there, so you can pay me $200,000 and I will introduce you to Attorney General Bill Barr,’” Parnas told MediasTouch in a sprawling story about Giuliani’s meeting with the Ukrainian official.

“That evening I go meet with Lutsenko… they get drunk. Lutensko is pouring his heart out to me, like he can’t believe what just happened, he looked up to Giuliani as his hero and here Giuliani is basically shaking him down for $200,000 to meet with Attorney General Barr.”

“I explained to him that, ‘Listen, you know how things work all over the world, this is just how things work in the United States,’” Parnas added.

The information that Giuliani extracted from meetings with a host of Ukrainian officials transformed into a conspiracy accusing Biden of orchestrating a political cover-up in the Eastern European nation while serving as vice president in order to protect his son Hunter’s seat on the board of Ukrainian oil company Burisma. Once Biden became president, that conspiracy became the primary allegation in a Republican-led impeachment effort—even though Parnas had warned Giuliani long before that the entire story was false.

“The American people have been lied to, by Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and various cohorts of individuals in government and media positions. They created falsehoods to serve their own interests knowing it would undermine the strength of our nation,” Parnas testified at a House impeachment inquiry hearing in March.

Trump Tried to Strike a Wild Deal with Classified Docs Co-Defendant

The former president allegedly asked his body man Walt Nauta to lie on his behalf.

Donald Trump and Walt Nauta stand together
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Donald Trump allegedly asked his valet Walt Nauta to lie to the FBI about whether the former president was hoarding classified documents, promising to pardon Nauta if he was ultimately charged with lying to the agency.

The shocking revelation came from an FBI interview with a witness identified only as a White House employee under Trump, CNN reported Monday night. In the interview, the transcript of which was released Monday, the witness paints Trump as paranoid as he was investigated for withholding classified documents, and increasingly desperate to ensure absolute loyalty from those who worked for him after his presidency ended.

“NAUTA was told by FPOTUS’ people that his investigation was not going anywhere, that it was politically motivated and ‘much ado about nothing,’” an interview summary states. FPOTUS refers to the Former President of the United States. “NAUTA was also told that even if he gets charged with lying to the FBI, FPOTUS will pardon him in 2024.”

The witness, referred to as “Person 16,” didn’t want the FBI to record the interview, claiming that it would be “a far bigger risk for him in the Trump world.” The interview notes do not indicate how Person 16 came to know about the promised pardon.

Monday was full of bad news for Trump, who faces 40 felony charges in the classified documents case, including 32 counts of willful retention of national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding documents, and concealing records. In another interview transcript released Monday, a different witness in Trump’s orbit said that, when Trump refused to return classified documents to the federal government, the witness resorted to begging members of the former president’s family to convince him to return the material.

Trump himself has even admitted to taking and keeping classified documents after his presidency, but insists that he took and kept them “very legally.” Statements like that, along with revelations that he misled his attorneys, are probably why Trump’s lead attorney in the classified documents case reportedly quit.

Nauta and a co-defendant in the classified documents case, Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos De Oliveira, are each accused of helping Trump move boxes of classified documents so that federal investigators could not find them, and of trying to delete security footage that showed them moving boxes. The pair claim that they had no idea what was in the boxes, and they are seeking to have the cases against them dismissed.

Trump Blames Wrong Person for Trying to Cause TikTok’s Downfall

The former president suddenly seems to have amnesia about his previous stance on TikTok.

The TikTok app opens on a phone
Antonin Utz/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump took aim at Joe Biden on Monday for trying to ban TikTok, conveniently forgetting how hard he worked to ban the popular app during his own presidency.

Trump posted an angry screed on TruthSocial claiming that “Crooked Joe Biden” is responsible for banning TikTok after a bill attached to a major foreign aid package passed the House of Representatives over the weekend. The bill would ban TikTok from U.S. app stores if its parent company, China-based ByteDance, doesn’t sell the platform within a year.

“He is the one pushing it to close, and doing it to help his friends over at Facebook become richer and more dominant, and able to continue to fight, perhaps illegally, the Republican Party,” Trump wrote, urging young people to remember this on Election Day.

Either Trump’s memory is suspect, or he’s trying to pull a fast one on the public. He attempted to ban the popular video-sharing app in an executive order back in 2020, ostensibly to protect Americans’ data from the Chinese government. The ban was later shot down in court.

Just last month, however, he claimed in an incoherent TV interview that a ban would help Facebook, and even expressed support for the social media platform on TruthSocial.

“If you get rid of TikTok, Facebook and Zuckerschmuck will double their business,” Trump posted in March. “I don’t want Facebook, who cheated in the last Election, doing better.”

Since then, two possible explanations for Trump’s dramatic shift in position have emerged. One of Trump’s allies, former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, revealed plans to purchase TikTok. And billionaire Jeff Yass, a powerful backer of Trump’s reelection campaign, reportedly owns a 15 percent stake in TikTok worth billions of dollars.

Over the last several months, the app, popular with younger Americans, has come under fire for allegedly being too pro-Palestinian from the right, as well as from pro-Israel Democrats. As inflated an argument as that seems, Trump may see supporting TikTok as helping his reelection efforts by encouraging more criticism of Biden’s policies in Israel and Gaza. Not to mention that keeping the app around keeps powerful allies happy.

Read more about Trump's new TikTok thoughts:

Witness: We Were Begging Trump’s Entire Family in Classified Docs Case

Newly unsealed documents show how Trump’s whole family got dragged into his alleged mishandling of classified documents.

Boxes of classified documents are stacked in a bathroom at Mar-a-Lago
U.S. Department of Justice/Getty Images

A newly unsealed FBI interview with an unidentified Trumpworld character unearths some eyebrow-raising details regarding Donald Trump’s classified documents case—namely, that family members were told to beg him to return the sensitive material back to the federal government.

In late October/early November of 2021, the unidentified individual pleaded with the former president, telling him that “whatever you have, give it all back,” according to the FBI memo, made public Monday.

But attempting to reason with Trump directly didn’t work. Instead, Trump “wanted to know how anyone knew of the issue.” When he was informed it was all documented in writing, he replied “we’ll check and think about it.”

So, in lieu of that, the unidentified individual claimed they tapped several people around the president in a coordinated effort to get Trump to return the documents, believing that hearing a ubiquitous call to return the federal property would influence Trump to actually do so. That included reaching out to some of his children.

The message was, essentially, “there are issues with the boxes. They belong to the government, talk to your dad about giving them back, It’s not worth the aggravation,” according to the FBI memo.

While the names of the individuals interviewed or involved in the scheme were redacted prior to the interview’s release, other Trumpworld individuals have already speculated as to who could have been behind or involved in the scheme to return the trove of documents to the government. According to former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, that may have been Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

Trump has since outright admitted to taking the sensitive records. In a prerecorded interview on Newsmax, Trump claimed point blank that he actually did take the classified documents, describing the process of shamelessly packing them away while leaving office.

“I took ’em very legally,” Trump said. “And I wasn’t hiding them.”

Alina Habba Shows Up at Trump’s Trial and Suddenly Makes Things Worse

Habba decided she would help her boss by appearing to admit he was guilty.

Alina Habba speaks
Yuki Iwamura/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s attorney Alina Habba should be more careful speaking.

Habba, who is not representing Trump in his hush-money trial, still showed up at the Manhattan courthouse on Monday to offer her opinion. “We’re here because of something that happened when he was in the White House that wasn’t even wrong,” she told reporters.

“You hire lawyers to solve problems, lawyers solve those problems, you pay them. That’s it!” Habba said, in language reminiscent of Trump’s rally speeches.

Whether they solved problems or not, Trump’s payments in 2016 to his lawyer and fixer at the time, Michael Cohen, allegedly were made to ensure that adult film actress Stormy Daniels kept quiet about her affair with the then-presidential candidate. Trump now faces 34 felony charges for allegedly falsifying business records with the intent to further an underlying crime.

Habba’s vehement defense of Trump may impress him, but they don’t deny a crime, nor the facts of the case. In fact, it almost sounds like she’s admitting he paid Cohen to keep Daniels quiet.

Habba often goes to crazy lengths to defend the former president, whether it’s claiming that he dozed off in court because “he reads a lot” or comparing him to Nelson Mandela. She even, in trying to defend Trump in a safe audience on Fox News, almost admitted that he could be bought by foreign countries to pay off his debts.

Habba’s words on Monday are not the first time she has seemingly displayed ignorance of the law, either. She has claimed the New York state law requirement that Trump attend every day of his trial is a violation of “due process,” and she was rebuked in court 12 times in one day in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case. She even had to abandon her attempt to have the Carroll case dismissed.

This Damning Trump Tape Will Be Used Against Him in Hush-Money Trial

Prosecutors will play a recording of a phone call between Donald Trump and Michael Cohen.

Donald Trump gestures as he speaks
Victor J. Blue/Pool/Getty Images

Just before the 2016 election, Michael Cohen secretly taped a phone conversation with Donald Trump discussing how he would pay off former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Now, prosecutors for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office say they intend to use the audio in court.

“You will get a chance to hear that recording during this trial,” said Manhattan district attorney prosecutor Matthew Colangelo on Monday, according to MSNBC’s Adam Klasfeld. “You’ll hear the defendant’s own voice, on tape, working out the intended agreement.”

Like adult film actress Stormy Daniels, McDougal was also victim to a catch-and-kill scheme by longtime Trump friend David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer and former CEO of its parent company, American Media Inc., to suppress stories of Trump’s extramarital affairs by purchasing the rights to the stories and then never allowing them to be published. On her end, McDougal was paid $150,000 by the publisher for her story.

“I need to open up a company,” Cohen can be heard saying on a copy of the two-minute tape, which was first released in 2018. “For the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David. I’m going to do that right away.”

“Give it to me,” Trump responded. “We’ll pay with cash.”

Trump is accused of using Cohen to sweep an affair with Daniels under the rug ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The trial is expected to last several weeks. He faces 34 felony charges in this case for allegedly falsifying business records with the intent to further an underlying crime. Trump has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

Trump's past actions are coming back around:

Here’s What the Columbia University Protests Have Started Elsewhere

Columbia students’ protest in support of Palestine has sparked solidarity demonstrations across the country.

People protest in support of Palestine on Columbia University's campus
Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images
Students and faculty at Columbia University protest in support of Palestine on April 22, 2024

Columbia University tried to squash a pro-Palestine protest on their campus last week, but it hasn’t worked. In fact, it has prompted solidarity protests across the country.

On Monday, 47 demonstrators were arrested at Yale University after taking part in pro-Palestine protests urging the university to divest from weapons manufacturers. Protesters had also set up an encampment on campus Friday night.

Halfway across the country, student protesters at the University of Michigan set up an encampment on the university’s famous Diag, also demanding their school divest from businesses with financial ties to Israel.

Over the weekend, protests sprang up in Boston-area universities, including MIT, Tufts University and Emerson College, with students setting up encampments on each campus. Students at the New School in Manhattan set up a “liberated zone” on campus on Sunday to show solidarity with Columbia’s protesters, and New York University students staged a march.

These demonstrations came a few days after Harvard University students rallied in support of Columbia students, with the university’s famous Harvard Yard closed until Friday to seemingly prevent a student encampment there. Students at the University of North Carolina also set up tents on Friday in solidarity.

Columbia sent city police officers onto campus last week to break up the encampment, resulting in the arrest of more than 100 students. In an effort to keep a lid on things, the school canceled in-person classes on Monday. One Columbia professor, Shai Davidai, who has attracted criticism over alleged threats to pro-Palestine students and calls to bring in the National Guard to shut down the protests, was also told to stay away from campus Monday.

In response to the canceled classes, several Columbia faculty members led a class walkout. The day before, 54 Columbia law school professors sent an open letter to the university condemning the school’s decision to authorize a police raid and suspend student protesters.

Screenshot of a tweet

At Barnard College, which is affiliated with Columbia, three student admissions representatives, who work in the university admissions office, give tours, and speak with prospective students and families, resigned in protest Sunday over the university’s treatment of protestors.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Columbia University’s attempt to shut down protests has only brought them more attention—and spread the movement to different universities. If police crackdowns continue, the pictures and heavy-handed actions could echo protests over the Vietnam War decades ago, including at Columbia.

Sotomayor Asks One Damning Question in Supreme Court Homelessness Case

The Supreme Court is considering how far cities can go in banning homeless people from sleeping outside—and Justice Sonia Sotomayor simplified the entire case to a brilliant hypothetical.

People protest outside the Supreme Cour twith signs that read "Housing not handcuffs"
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday heard arguments on perhaps the most consequential case on homeless policy in decades, weighing how far cities can go in criminalizing people for sleeping outside.

And liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor kicked things off with a particularly damning hypothetical.

Under a law punishing people for sleeping outside, would people who stargaze outside not be punished? What about people who fall asleep on the beach? Or babies in public with blankets over them?

Sotomayor’s line of questioning in City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson highlighted the obvious flaws in the 2019 law that the court is considering. The town of Grants Pass, which has no public homeless shelters, effectively banned homelessness by imposing escalating fines starting at $180 on those who sleep outside. One of the original plaintiffs in the case against the city had over $5,000 in penalties before she died.

The Supreme Court’s decision in this case will determine whether localities can criminalize homelessness by punishing those who sleep out on streets using tents, blankets, or even a piece of cardboard. The court must weigh if doing so when no beds are available violates the Eighth Amendment and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

And like Sotomayor, the other liberal justices weren’t so impressed.

The Grants Pass legal team tried to argue that homelessness is “conduct,” something someone does, rather than “status,” something that someone is. But justice Elena Kagan pushed back saying matter of factly “homelessness is a status, it’s a status of not having a home.”

“Sleeping is a biological necessity,” she added. “It’s sort of like breathing, you could say breathing is conduct too but presumably you would not think it’s okay to criminalize breathing in public.” For a homeless person who has no place to sleep, Kagan continued, sleeping in public is the same as breathing in public.

“It seems both cruel and unusual to punish people for acts that constitute basic human needs,” Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson told lawyer Theane Evangelis, whose previous legal work for Uber and Grubhub has been described as “keeping the wheels of the gig economy turning.”

As the hearing continued, both Sotomayor and Jackson became increasingly incensed with Evangelis, who complained about the crime and unsanitary nature of unsheltered encampments, which she called harmful and dangerous.

“Suppose the city decided that it was going to execute homeless people... It would solve the problems that you are talking about,” Jackson quipped.

“Where do we put them if every city, every village, every town lacks compassion and passes a law identical to this, where are they supposed to sleep?” asked Sotomayor. “Are they supposed to kill themselves not sleeping?”

Evangelis continued that homelessness is a difficult and complicated problem.

But as Sotomayor responded: “What’s so complicated about letting someone somewhere sleep outside with a blanket if they have nowhere to sleep?”

First Witness in Trump’s Hush Money Trial Could Wreck His Whole Case

Prosecutors called publishing executive David Pecker as their first witness.

Donald Trump sits with his eyes closed
Yuki Iwamura/Pool/Getty Images

“The people call David Pecker”—the former publisher of the National Enquirer and former CEO of its parent company, American Media Inc.

Pecker, the first witness in Donald Trump’s first criminal trial and an old friend of the former president, took the stand on Monday. In brief testimony, he started detailing a media coverage scheme handcrafted between Trump, Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen, and himself.

In opening statements just minutes prior, Manhattan district attorney prosecutor Matthew Colangelo proclaimed that “The National Enquirer ran headline after headline that extolled the defendant’s virtues.” Colangelo noted that the Enquirer also “ran stories attacking Mr. Trump’s political opponents” such as Ben Carson and Ted Cruz.

Pecker participated in an August 2015 meeting with Cohen and Trump to arrange the Enquirer’s catch-and-kill campaign, buying potentially damaging stories about Trump and his affairs with women with the intent to never publish them. The trio also allegedly discussed adult film actress Stormy Daniels, who had an affair with Trump after meeting him at a golf tournament in 2006, shortly after Trump’s wife Melania had given birth to their son Barron. Cohen later paid Daniels $130,000, allegedly at Trump’s behest, to keep the entanglement under wraps—but it wasn’t the first time Pecker was involved in a catch-and-kill scheme.

The Enquirer had also purchased rights to the story of another one of Trump’s alleged mistresses—former Playboy model Karen McDougal—for $150,000, in order to ensure the story would never see the light of day.

Pecker’s testimony on the stand offered some initial insights into the machinations of the Enquirer, including a key detail that all big stories pertaining to celebrities had to go through him.

“We used checkbook journalism and we paid for stories,” Pecker testified. “I gave a number to the editors that they could not spend more than $10,000 to investigate, produce or publish a story.”

Pecker agreed to cooperate with prosecution back in 2018, and is expected to continue his testimony on Tuesday. And the details he provides could be damning for the former president.

Trump is accused of using Cohen to sweep an affair with Daniels under the rug ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The trial is expected to last several weeks. He faces 34 felony charges in this case for allegedly falsifying business records with the intent to further an underlying crime. Trump has pleaded not guilty on all counts.