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Judge Skewers “Oblivious” Weinstein Ruling with Chilling Warning

Judge Madeline Singas said sexual predators will benefit from the decision.

Etienne Laurent/Pool/Getty Images

Disgraced Hollywood producer and serial abuser Harvey Weinstein had his 2020 rape conviction overturned by a New York appeals court on Thursday, but not everyone on the bench agreed with the decision.

In a scathing dissenting opinion, Judge Madeline Singas wrote that the court appeared “oblivious to, or unconcerned with, the distressing implications” of the ruling.

“Men who serially sexually exploit their power over women—especially the most vulnerable groups in society—will reap the benefit of today’s decision,” Singas wrote. “Under the majority’s logic, instances in which a trafficker repeatedly leverages workers’ undocumented status to coerce them into sex, or a restaurant manager withholds tips from his employees unless they perform sexual acts becomes a series of individual ‘credibility contests’ and unrelated ‘misunderstandings.”

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Accusations against Weinstein spurred the #MeToo movement into virality in 2017, helping women around the world have their sexual violence accusations be taken more seriously. Dozens of women in the film industry accused Weinstein of more than 100 instances of sexual harassment, abuse, and rape since 1980, but he was convicted on just one charge of rape in the third degree and a criminal sexual act in a landmark decision in February 2020.

The Appeal Court’s 4-3 decision claimed that the inclusion of evidence and testimony from women whose experiences were not a part of the charges filed against Weinstein had been a critical error in the original trial.

“We conclude that the trial court erroneously admitted testimony of uncharged, alleged prior sexual acts against persons other than the complainants of the underlying crimes because that testimony served no material non-propensity purpose,” wrote Judge Jenny Rivera in her opinion.

Rivera described the errors as “egregious” and said the only solution would be to retry Weinstein, which would involve calling his victims to testify again.

Weinstein is expected to be transferred to a California prison to ride out the remainder of his 16-year sentence for another case in which he was convicted of one count of rape and two counts of sexual assault. However, Weinstein will appeal that conviction on May 20, according to his attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, who spoke with The New York Times. Bonjean expects that Thursday’s ruling will bode well for his appeal in the Los Angeles case.

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Key Hush-Money Trial Witness Admits He Broke Law to Help Trump

David Pecker said he violated campaign finance law.

Jeenah Moon/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s old friend-turned-key-witness in his New York hush money trial blatantly admitted Thursday that he violated campaign finance laws to help the former president’s 2016 campaign.

David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer and former CEO of its parent company, American Media Inc., told the court in Trump’s hush-money trial that he knew he had to obey campaign finance laws but still failed to report $150,000 to the FEC. That sum came from a payment he issued via Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen to Playboy model Karen McDougal for the rights to her story regarding her alleged affair with Trump.

“We didn’t want the story to embarrass Mr. Trump, or embarrass or hurt the campaign,” Pecker testified.

Pecker claimed he knew that failing to report the payment would skirt campaign finance regulations due to an earlier catch-and-kill effort that aided Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign for California governor. After Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy, several women came to the National Enquirer with their stories—but even after scooping them up, one story leaked to the press, forcing Pecker to learn he had run afoul of campaign finance laws.

“Based on what happened 14 years ago, I wanted to be comfortable that the agreement we were going to prepare for Karen McDougal met all the obligations with respect to a campaign contribution,” Pecker said, explaining that his company had consulted an election law attorney on the matter before signing the contract with McDougal.

The week has been full of admissions by Pecker, who has been offered an immunity deal by the government in exchange for his full cooperation in the Trump trial.

On Tuesday, Pecker admitted that he and Trump had coordinated not just to publish positive coverage of his friend ahead of the 2016 election, but also to publish negative coverage of other presidential candidates. In doing so, Pecker practically admitted to the catch-and-kill media scheme that Trump has repeatedly denied.

Trump had asked “what can I do and what my magazines can do to help the campaign,” Pecker recalled to the court. Pecker had responded that he could “publish positive stories about Trump” and “negative stories about his opponents.”

Trump is accused of using Cohen to sweep an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels under the rug ahead of the 2016 presidential election. 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 Bad Day in Court Gets Even Worse with E. Jean Carroll Loss

A judge has denied the former president’s request for a new trial against E. Jean Carroll.

E. Jean Carroll wears sunglasses
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Donald Trump is going to have to pony up $83 million to E. Jean Carroll after all, after a judge  on Thursday struck down Trump’s latest attempt to get a new trial. 

Judge Lewis Kaplan, who presided over both of Trump’s trials against Carroll, denied the former president’s appeal of the verdict in Carroll’s second defamation lawsuit A jury determined that Trump owed Carroll $83 million in damages for defamation.

Trump is unlikely to be happy about losing his appeal, considering how he can’t stop bashing Carroll even with multiple legal judgments against him for it. Kaplan even felt it necessary to warn the jury not to reveal their participation in the trial, after the court ruling in January.

Trump has also appealed the Carroll ruling to the Second Circuit court. That decision is pending. Kaplan’s Thursday ruling is just the latest in a series of setbacks in Trump’s attempt to avoid paying Carroll damages.

The former president was found guilty of defaming Carroll after she revealed that he sexually abused her in the mid-1990s. A jury awarded Carroll $7.3 million for damage to her reputation, $11 million for emotional harm, and $65 million for punitive damages. Carroll has big plans for the money: giving it to something Trump hates

“If it will cause him pain for me to give money to certain things, that’s my intent,” Carroll told Good Morning America in January. “Well, perhaps a fund for the women who have been sexually assaulted by Donald Trump.”

At least 26 other women have accused Trump of some kind of sexual misconduct, but Carroll’s case was the first to get into a courtroom, and twice at that: In May 2023, another jury found Trump guilty of defaming Carroll and liable for sexual abuse and battery against her.

The decision came as Trump was in court for his hush-money trial in Manhattan, where he faces 34 felony charges for allegedly falsifying business records with the intent to further an underlying crime. The court heard testimony from tabloid magnate David Pecker Wednesday and Thursday, and adult film actress Stormy Daniels is scheduled to testify later Thursday. 

Can Anything Stop Rudy Giuliani from Pushing Election Fraud Lie?

Donald Trump’s lawyer doubled down on allegations of election fraud, right after he was indicted for election fraud.

Rudy Giuliani looks shocked, mouth gaping
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Arizona has indicted nearly two dozen of Donald Trump’s allies and affiliates for their alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election, including Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and attorneys Jenna Ellis, John Eastman, Christina Bobb, and Rudy Giuliani.

But while most of his co-defendants chose to stay relatively mum in wake of Wednesday’s announcement, Giuliani seemed to immediately forgo his right to remain silent, regardless of whether his bombastic take on the felony charges could be used against him.

“It’s not a coincidence that this is happening as we approach the summer before the election,” Giuliani’s spokesman Ted Goodman wrote in a statement, doubling down on exactly what the former New York City mayor was charged for. “The continued weaponization of our justice system should concern every American as it does permanent, irrevocable harm to the country.”

All in all, the indictment charges 18 individuals, some of whose names have been redacted, with orchestrating a scheme to use fake electors to flip Arizona’s 2020 election results over to Trump. It also names Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator. All of the indicted individuals are facing the same slew of charges, which includes counts for conspiracy, forgery, fraudulent schemes and practices, and fraudulent schemes and artifices—the last of which holds a potential sentence of up to five years in prison.

“In Arizona, and the United States, the people elected Joseph Biden as President on November 3, 2020,” the indictment reads. “Unwilling to accept this fact, Defendants and unindicted co-conspirators schemed to prevent the lawful transfer of the presidency” to give Trump a consecutive presidential term “against the will of Arizona’s voters.”

Trump Lawyer Makes Disturbing Immunity Claim Before Supreme Court

Apparently, John Sauer thinks staging a coup should be considered a presidential act.

Brian Stukes/Justice Can't Wait/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s lawyer pushed an outrageous line of thinking on Thursday during oral arguments at the Supreme Court over whether the former president has immunity for trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election: that a U.S. president could order a military coup d’état with almost no chance of repercussions.

Justice Elena Kagan asked lawyer John Sauer about a hypothetical president who “ordered the military to stage a coup.”

“He’s no longer president. He wasn’t impeached, he couldn’t be impeached, but he ordered the military to stage a coup, and you’re saying that’s an official act?” she asked.

“I think it would depend on the circumstances whether it was an official act,” Sauer replied. “If it’s an official act, there needs to be impeachment and conviction before [criminal charges could be pursued].”

In response to other questions from the justices, Sauer defended a hypothetical political assassination ordered by an American president, the argument that sank Trump’s case in the D.C. circuit.

“If the president decides that his rival is a corrupt person and he orders the military to assassinate him, is that within his official acts to which he has immunity?” asked Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

“That could well be an official act,” Sauer said.

Sauer also claimed a president could come up with a fake slate of electors to overturn an election, a brazen assertion in light of recent events. Putting forward slates of fake electors has already resulted in criminal charges in four states: Michigan, Nevada, Arizona, and Georgia. Trump himself directly faces charges for trying to overturn the 2020 election results in the Peach State.

Questions from Sotomayor and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson soon had Sauer backpedaling, especially after Sotomayor pointed out he had essentially argued that an “allegation of improper purpose cannot drive immunity.”

Trump’s appeal to the Supreme Court to rule on his immunity has already delayed his election interference case in Washington, D.C. Depending on how the high court rules, arguably the most serious of his many legal cases could be delayed even further, or perhaps rendered moot.

Trump Brutally Mocks Latest “Gutless” Republican to Endorse Him

Bill Barr may wish he had withheld that endorsement after all.

Michael Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump couldn’t resist throwing an insult at the latest high-profile Republican to endorse him: his former attorney general, Bill Barr.

In a late-night Truth Social post on Wednesday, Trump gleefully posted news of Barr’s endorsement, with a jab thrown in:

“Wow! Former A.G. Bill Barr, who let a lot of great people down by not investigating Voter Fraud in our Country, has just Endorsed me for President despite the fact that I called him “Weak, Slow Moving, Lethargic, Gutless, and Lazy” (New York Post!),” Trump wrote. “Based on the fact that I greatly appreciate his wholehearted Endorsement, I am removing the word ‘Lethargic’ from my statement. Thank you Bill. MAGA2024!”

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During Trump’s presidency, Barr did everything he could to protect Trump, from delaying Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, to intervening in the criminal cases against Trump advisers Michael Flynn and Roger Stone, and defending Trump in the lawsuit filed by E. Jean Carroll, among many other examples. But Barr failed to overturn Trump’s loss in the 2020 election, earning Trump’s ire, and thus resigned in the last few months of Trump’s presidency.

Since then, Barr has freely criticized Trump, lambasting the former president after he was indicted for mishandling classified documents last year and noting that special prosecutor Jack Smith probably had a lot of evidence.

“Should we be putting someone like this forward as the leader of the country, leader of the free world?” Barr said in June. “He will always put his own interests, and gratifying his own ego, ahead of everything else, including the country’s interest, there’s no question about it.”

But Barr’s own political views, specifically his belief that Christian hegemony is essential to American democracy, probably led him back to endorse Trump. As Michael Tomasky wrote last week for The New Republic, “Barr hates disorder and all the rest of it. But he hates something else more: liberalism.”

Why Would Alina Habba Admit This About Trump’s Hush-Money Case?

Habba is once again proving to be Trump’s worst lawyer.

Angela Weiss/Pool/Getty Images

One of Donald Trump’s most visible attorneys just made another legal faux pax—but this time, the person most upset with her might be her own client.

Alina Habba admitted Wednesday night that Trump actually doesn’t have very good odds of being acquitted in his New York hush-money trial.

“But I don’t have hopes really that high at this moment that the New York courts will do the right thing, that the jury will do the right thing,” Habba told Newsmax’s Greg Kelly.

It’s not the first time that Habba—who represented Trump during the defamation case brought by the writer E. Jean Carroll, but isn’t representing Trump in his hush-money trial—has reemerged to make ridiculous excuses for the former president’s disruptive behavior in court. Last week, Habba claimed that Trump’s naps in court were because he’s very busy and “reads a lot,” argued that a general requirement for his attendance at trial actually violated his due process rights, and went on the offense for Trump in a mind-boggling way, claiming that consequences for repeatedly violating the gag order imposed by Judge Juan Merchan would make him America’s version of Nelson Mandela.

“I think like anybody, he’s concerned about going to jail. But if they put him in jail for his First Amendment right, he will be like Nelson Mandela. I mean, that would be just absurd,” Habba told Fox News.

Trump is accused of using his former fixer Michael Cohen to sweep an affair with porn star Stormy Daniels under the rug ahead of the 2016 presidential election. 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 Is Livid He Has to Obey the Law in Hush-Money Trial

Donald Trump took aim at Judge Juan Merchan for requiring him to appear in court.

Donald Trump looks down
Yuki Iwamura/Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump is still furious that he has to follow the same rules in his New York hush-money trial as every other U.S citizen—mainly, that he actually has to attend the proceedings.

The GOP presidential nominee lashed out Wednesday at the judge presiding over the case, claiming that Judge Juan Merchan believes he is “above the Supreme Court” after Merchan decided Trump would not be allowed to take a day off from his trial to make a guest appearance at a Supreme Court hearing discussing another one of his legal woes.

“Because he thinks he is above the Supreme Court, he is prohibiting me from going to the presidential immunity hearing where some of the great legal scholars will be arguing the case—the most important case in many years on the Supreme Court,” Trump told Fox News Digital.  

“Without presidential immunity, the presidency becomes a ceremonial position only, it will be decimated,” he claimed. “He’s prohibiting me from going. He is a radical left Democrat.”

Of course, Trump’s perspective on the significance of the immunity hearings—which will singularly determine whether his January 6-related D.C. trial will be allowed to move forward—is a bit biased.

If the nation’s highest court rules in Trump’s favor, then he would not only avoid accountability for his involvement in the January 6 riot, but he’d also be liberated to do practically whatever he wants without fear of consequence in a potential second presidential term. As Greg Sargent wrote for The New Republic, “if he wins on this front, he’d be largely unshackled in a second presidential term, free to pursue all manner of corrupt designs with little fear of legal consequences after leaving office again.”

Trump had asked last week to attend the Supreme Court arguments, but Merchan rejected the request, noting that while a Supreme Court argument is a big deal, the former president’s first criminal trial in New York was “also a big deal.”

An opinion on Trump’s presidential immunity claim is expected by late June.

The weeks-long hush-money trial, which hinges on whether Trump used his former fixer Michael Cohen to sweep an affair with adult film actress Stormy Daniels under the rug ahead of the 2016 presidential election, will require Trump to be in court for every session—something Trump himself has repeatedly challenged in an effort to get away from the New York courthouse. 

In past weeks, Trump has accused the state law requiring him to remain in New York as “election interference” on the basis that it will keep him away from the campaign trail, even though he is still permitted to campaign throughout every weekend, evening, and Wednesday during the process. If Trump fails to appear in court, he could face an arrest warrant.

Trump’s Failing Media Company Desperately Scrambles to Find Scapegoat

The company has asked the federal government to investigate why its stock is tanking.

The TruthSocial app is seen on a phone screen
Anna Barclay/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s social media company has lost so much money that the CEO is asking Congress to look into what might be causing it. 

Devin Nunes, a former Republican congressman himself, wrote a letter to several committees in the House of Representatives asking them to “open an investigation of anomalous trading of DJT,” CBS News reported Wednesday. $DJT is the stock symbol for Trump Media & Technology Group, which owns Truth Social.  

Nunes’s letter, dated Tuesday, was sent to the House Judiciary, Financial Services, Ways and Means, and Oversight Committees, all of which are chaired by major Trump allies. The request comes after Nunes complained in—and was mercilessly mocked for—a different letter to NASDAQ CEO Adena Friedman last week about “naked short selling,” an illegal technique used to try to benefit from an asset declining in value. 

In normal short selling, which is legal, traders borrow stock shares before selling them, hoping to profit later by buying back the stock at a lower price. Naked short selling differs in that a trader doesn’t keep their promise to borrow, dealing a severe blow to a company’s stock price.

In the letter to NASDAQ, Nunes asked Friedman to make sure trading firms disclose whether they are short selling the company’s stock. It was met with scorn on Wall Street, particularly from Citadel Securities, which released a statement mocking the former president and his media venture.  

As of Wednesday, TMTG stock was trading at $35 a share, half of its peak price after the company’s initial public offering in March. Since its stock market debut, the company has suffered a series of setbacks, from SEC filings showing staggering losses to two of its investors being indicted for insider trading. The company’s total losses are said to be at least $2 billion

It’s ironic that a Trump-controlled business would seek help from the U.S. government, when Trump himself is in legal trouble for his business practices, and also faces federal charges in Florida and Washington, D.C. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is probably the only Trump-friendly federal government body where he could seek help, as pro-MAGA politicians seemingly have no qualms with publicly offering their services.

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Here’s Proof of How Much Trump Helped with Michigan Fake Electors

Donald Trump and two of his closest allies were closely involved in the scheme.

Donald Trump sits
Yuki Iwamura/Pool/Getty Images

A Michigan state investigator revealed in court Wednesday that Donald Trump, his former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and his former attorney Rudy Giuliani are considered unindicted co-conspirators in the state’s case against fake electors in the 2020 presidential election.

Howard Shock, a special agent for the Michigan attorney general’s office, revealed the names during a preliminary hearing for the case, in response to a question from an attorney for one of the 15 fake electors on trial, ABC News reported.

In January, internal Trump campaign emails obtained by The Detroit News showed that the former president’s campaign team was directly involved in the fake elector scheme to falsely claim Trump won Michigan during the 2020 election. They actively organized the plot, setting up a Michigan Republican Party meeting and even trying to mail a document falsely certifying that Trump won the state to Vice President Mike Pence and the National Archives.

One Trump campaign employee even tried to start a riot where ballots were being counted in Detroit after it became clear that Trump would lose the state.

Last year, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel charged 16 Republicans with forgery and conspiracy to commit election forgery for attempting to overturn the state’s vote from Joe Biden to Trump . One fake elector had their charges dismissed after agreeing to cooperate with the state, and the other 15 have pleaded not guilty.

Michigan, Nevada, and Georgia have all charged fake electors for trying to overturn the 2020 election results in Trump’s favor, with Arizona close to filing charges. Fake electors in Wisconsin have settled a civil lawsuit over their fraudulent efforts. In Fulton County, Georgia, Trump directly faces charges for trying to overturn the state election results.