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The Legal & Financial Troubles Of Donald Trump and Family

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  • House committee asks federal agency for financial records of Trump's D.C. hotel

    The House Transportation committee on Tuesday wrote to the Biden administration to request financial records for the D.C. Trump International Hotel.

    Why it matters: The General Services Administration (GSA) had refused the panel's first request in 2019 for details of the leased government-owned building's revenue, profits, losses and expenses, and it continued to do so throughout former President Trump's presidency.
    • "Those records, if made public, would reveal the inner workings of a hotel that became an icon of Trump's era — a place where the sitting president's company could be paid by foreign governments, Republican allies and companies with business before the Trump administration," per the Washington Post, which first reported the news.

    What's happening: In the letter, House Transportation Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Public Buildings Subcommittee Chair Dina Titus (D-NV.) asked the GSA to fulfill the committee's previous requests, saying "the Trump Administration repeatedly obstructed our efforts to carry out necessary oversight of a federally owned property that created obvious conflicts of interests."
    • They asked the GSA, which handles the lease, if it's "considering examining whether former President Trump and/or the Trump Organization should be prevented from contracting with the federal government in the future" in light of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
    • They noted the former president "borrowed $250 million from Deutsche Bank to finance the renovations for the Trump International Hotel" and asked whether the GSA had any financial statements related to this.

    Worth noting: Trump's "use of such “Statements of Financial Condition" are being investigated by New York's attorney general as part of a probe into whether the former president and his company improperly inflated the value of its assets on financial statements, WashPost notes.
    • In 2019, days after the panel subpoenaed the General Services Administration for documents relating to the hotel's lease Eric Trump, the former president's son and an executive vice president of the family business, said the Trump Organization was considering selling the rights to the D.C. hotel.
    • This was in part fueled by claims that the family was profiting from the property during Trump's presidency. Eric Trump said "people are objecting to us making so much money on the hotel."

    What to watch: The panel has asked for the GSA to provide it with documents by March 30.
    • Representatives for the GSA, the former president and the Trump organization did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.
    “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
    ― Dwight D. Eisenhower


    • ‘Next phase’ of criminal probe into Trump finances: Finding witnesses

      (Reuters) - Investigators in a criminal probe of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s real-estate business are combing through millions of pages of newly acquired records with an eye toward identifying witnesses who can bring the documents to life for a jury, say two people familiar with the probe.

      Some of the case’s key figures are well-known. Trump’s former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, met on Friday with prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, his eighth such interview. And District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr’s team is interested in getting testimony from the Trump Organization’s long time chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, according to the two people familiar with the investigation.

      But a growing universe of people, institutions and agencies are being scrutinized by Vance’s prosecutors as potential witnesses in the case.

      Prosecutors are looking to gather information and testimony from bankers, bookkeepers, real-estate consultants and others close to the Trump Organization who could provide insights on its dealings, according to interviews and court filings. The process of identifying all witnesses and targets could take months.

      “The next phase is identifying targets” for subpoenas and testimony, said one person familiar with the case.

      Vance has not accused Trump or his associates of wrongdoing but is examining, among other things, whether property values were manipulated to reduce Trump’s taxes or obtain other economic benefits. The case is being heard by a grand jury that will decide whether there is evidence to indict Trump or his associates.

      Vance’s investigators need insiders who can provide the narrative behind any conflicting numbers on Trump’s financial records and testify to Trump’s knowledge and intent, said former prosecutors of white-collar fraud cases.

      “Even in the most heavily document-dependent case, you need witnesses to tell the story,” said Reed Brodsky, a longtime white-collar defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor.

      “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
      ― Dwight D. Eisenhower


      • Trump Hotels Dropped By Major Luxury Travel Organization

        Former President Donald Trump’s struggling hotel company was dealt another blow when a major luxury travel group ended its partnership and dropped the chain from its listings.

        Zenger News reported last week that Virtuoso Travel, a luxury travel network that caters to the wealthy, quietly cut off Trump Hotels earlier this month.

        “Virtuoso considers many variables when reviewing both existing and new network participation,” a spokesperson told the website. “Out of respect for all involved parties, and as a general policy, we do not share comments regarding our non-renewal and exit decisions.”

        The Washington Post said Virtuoso agencies can still book clients at Trump properties, but they will no longer get the perks and other benefits that come from booking a stay with one of the company’s preferred partner hotels.

        In addition, Trump hotels are no longer listed on the Virtuoso website.

        “It’s a big deal because Virtuoso is very well-respected in the industry,” travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt of Atmosphere Research Group told the newspaper.

        He said Virtuoso’s “elite base” of customers means others in the industry study its moves... and often make similar moves of their own.

        “Some travel agencies that may have been debating whether or not to do it could decide, well, if Virtuoso has done this, we too will end our professional relationship with the Trump hotels,”
        Harteveldt said.

        The hospitality industry overall has been devastated by a year of pandemic restrictions.

        But the former president’s properties were hit especially hard on two levels.

        When Trump lost reelection last year, those hoping to curry favor politically no longer had reason to frequent his hotels and clubs. And after Trump incited the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, many other organizations cut ties completely ― including the PGA, which stripped his Bedminster golf club in New Jersey of its role as host of the 2022 championship tournament.

        The result has been palpable to visitors of his properties.

        In January, CNN reported that a number of members of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida “silently walked out” after his presidency, leaving it “a sad place.”

        And earlier this month, The Guardian said the once-bustling Trump International Hotel in Washington ― just blocks from the White House and the “crown jewel” of his hotel empire ― was so empty that it resembled the hotel in “The Shining.

        However, the four years as president had its financial advantages for Trump as government agencies would be forced to book rooms and purchase other services at Trump properties in order to keep close to the then-president.

        The Secret Service, for example, spent nearly $1 million on golf cart rentals alone, much of it at Trump properties. And last year, The Washington Post said the agency paid as much as $650 per room a night to accommodate agents at Trump properties.

        “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
        ― Dwight D. Eisenhower


        • Jennifer Weisselberg said she gave investigators probing Trump's finances '7 boxes of documents' she got in her divorce from the Trump Org CFO's son

          Prosecutors learned details about the Trump Organization's finances after a key employee tried to withhold them in his divorce case, that employee's ex-wife told Insider.

          The move backfired. The judge in the divorce case forced him to sit for a deposition and hand over the documents as part of a subpoena, according to Jennifer Weisselberg.

          Jennifer Weisselberg, now a cooperating witness in investigations into Trump's finances, said she ultimately got "seven boxes" of financial documents and gave them to investigators last fall.

          "They picked up documents many times. They ended up taking seven boxes of my documents and scanning them, going through them," she told Insider, adding: "They took depositions, they took checks, routing numbers, bank account [information], and things like that."

          Prosecutors in the New York Attorney General's office and Manhattan District Attorney's office are running parallel investigations into Trump's and his company's finances, looking into whether they distorted financial information in tax and loan documents. The Manhattan DA's office successfully subpoenaed the Trump Organization for millions of pages of documents in February, gaining a fuller picture of the company's financial affairs.

          But an earlier peek into those finances came in September, when Jennifer Weisselberg handed her documents over. Weisselberg was married to Barry Weisselberg, the son of Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, between 2004 and 2018. Barry Weisselberg is also a key employee of the Trump Organization in his own right, managing the Wollman Rink in Central Park in Manhattan.

          Barry Weisselberg initially withheld financial information from Jennifer during divorce proceedings, she said. The divorce judge recognized perks he received from the Trump Organization - like their shared apartment - could have monetary value and should be considered during divorce negotiations, she said.

          "The judge said there was a lot of imputed money," Jennifer Weisselberg said. "They subpoenaed a lot of things after Barry's deposition."

          An attorney representing Barry Weisselberg didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

          'I don't think they realized that I had that stuff'
          Donald and Melania Trump gave Barry and Jennifer Weisselberg an apartment in the Trump Parc East Building in Manhattan as a wedding gift. It was part of many perks the Trump Organizations offered members of the Weisselberg family, as reported by Bloomberg's Cabe Melby in November.

          Following the publication of that article, investigators in the New York Attorney General's office expressed renewed interest in the documents Jennifer Weisselberg gave them, she said.

          "Since the Bloomberg article came out - I don't think they realized that I had that stuff," Weisselberg told Insider. "The AG came and they started picking up more boxes."

          Weisselberg said the perks the Trump Organization offered, like the apartment and payments for their children's tuition, were used in lieu of normal salary raises. They functionally allowed the company to exercise a measure of control over their lives, she said.

          "It's so controlling," she continued. "Because if you want to leave and make the same money - you live there. If you want to leave, where are you going to live?"

          Jennifer Weisselberg said she's now glad to have left Trumpworld.

          "I don't want anything to do with them," she said. "I don't want their money. I'm good."

          Prosecutors in the Manhattan DA's office are now interested in "flipping" Allen Weisselberg to guide them through the millions of documents they've obtained, according to The Washington Post. They are looking into whether perks like the apartment broke tax laws, according to Bloomberg.

          The office recently hired Mark Pomerantz, who has experience as a prosecutor pursuing mob bosses. It also sent a forensic accountant with experience analyzing mob finances to review Jennifer Weisselberg's documents, she said.

          Representatives for the Trump Organization didn't immediately respond to a request for comment for this story. Representatives for Allen Weisselberg, the Manhattan DA's office, and the New York Attorney General's office declined to comment.

          If Allen Weisselberg flips, it's all over for the Trump Organization. It'll take years to line up the evidence, go to court and all the rest, but they'll be deader than Enron, WorldCom and Disco.
          “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
          ― Dwight D. Eisenhower


          • Dominion Builds Legal Behemoth To Drain Trumpland of Billions

            With billions of dollars in lawsuits now in the balance, Dominion Voting Systems has quietly expanded its legal armada in recent days, as the election technology company goes after Trumpworld and conservative media giants.

            Clare Locke—the legal firm spearheading Dominion’s lawsuits against Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell and pillow magnate Mike Lindell—recently brought in seven attorneys from the Texas-based firm of Susman Godfrey, which has experience litigating against the so-called “Kraken” suits filed by one-time Trump attorneys Lin Wood and Sidney Powell.

            “There are great synergies between the work that the Susman team had done on the 2020 election and the defamation cases we were pursuing for Dominion,” Tom Clare, from the notoriously aggressive law firm Clare Locke, told The Daily Beast.

            “As those discussions unfolded we also discovered the two firms have a great cultural similarity in having a ready for trial approach to litigation,” he added. “I think it's going to be a very effective team.”

            Dominion expanding its legal team is the latest effort to punish leading players in the months-long propaganda push to trash the company and baselessly assail the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential contest.

            On Friday, Fox News was hit with a $1.6 billion lawsuit. “Fox News Media is proud of our 2020 election coverage, which stands in the highest tradition of American journalism, and will vigorously defend against this baseless lawsuit in court,” a statement from the company said.

            Other conservative media outlets including Newsmax and One American News Network—also aired post election conspiracy theories and are among the top targets for Dominion’s next round of lawsuits, according to two people familiar with the matter.

            Justin Nelson—a Susman attorney who is assisting in Dominion’s defamation cases against Sidney Powell, Mike Lindell, and Fox News—represented Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobb against a “Kraken” suit filed by Lin Wood, Sidney Powell, and other attorneys against Arizona election officials in an attempt to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

            That suit, which asked a judge to “set aside the results of the 2020 General Election,” included many of the false claims which Dominion says amounted to defamation, including the allegation that Dominion uses software from a separate voting technology company, Smartmatic, and that Dominion was "founded by foreign oligarchs and dictators to ensure computerized ballot-stuffing and vote manipulation" to install help Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez steal an election in the country.

            At the time, Nelson called the suit an “attack on democracy,” and argued that Wood, Powell, and others were “using the federal court system in an attempt to undermine the rule of law and obtain breathtaking, startling and unprecedented relief to overturn the will of the people.”

            Susman attorneys also have experience in litigating a number of high profile defamation cases. Davida Brook—who signed on to the case against Powell, Giuliani, and Lindell—previously represented Melanie Kohler, a Los Angeles woman who accused director Brett Ratner of rape in a since-deleted Facebook post. Brook represented Kohler after Ratner filed a defamation suit against her. Ratner subsequently withdrew his suit.

            Brook also represented actress Amber Heard, who was sued by ex-husband Johnny Depp after she wrote a Washington Post op-ed which Depp claimed had falsely implied he had "perpetrated domestic violence against her."

            Some of the targets or potential targets of Dominion’s legal wrath have run for cover, or even resorted to deleting articles or covering their tracks. Others have remained reliably defiant, claiming that a court battle and the discovery that comes with it would lead to humiliation for Dominion instead.

            Lindell—who was also a major financial backer of pro-Trump attempts to nullify President Biden’s decisive 2020 victory—previously told The Daily Beast that he’d hired private investigators to dig up “dirt” and any evidence of foreign entanglements on both Dominion and Smartmatic, and that he was hoping to file countersuits in the coming weeks.

            People familiar with the matter say that the company’s legal team still hadn’t ruled out going after ex-President Trump specifically, but that no final decision had been made yet on if they wanted to open up that can of worms on the former leader of the free world. During his time in office, Trump personally promoted the same kinds of conspiracy theories and lies that the voting-tech executives and their attorneys now claim substantially and groundlessly damaged their business and has put them in danger via numerous death threats.

            Former President Trump is still facing an avalanche of separate lawsuits, probes, and criminal investigations, including ones stemming from alleged sexual assault, his family-run business empire, the bloody Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and his broader anti-democratic efforts in the wake of the 2020 election.

            In recent months, Trump—who now no longer enjoys the legal protections that come with being president—has privately quipped that his enemies will be investigating and “suing me for the rest of my life.”
            “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
            ― Dwight D. Eisenhower


            • Court voids Trump campaign's non-disclosure agreement
              A pact signed by former Hispanic outreach director Jessica Denson is too broad and vague to enforce, a judge says.

              A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a broad non-disclosure agreement that Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign required employees to sign is unenforceable.

              U.S. District Court Judge Paul Gardephe’s ruling generally steered clear of the constitutional issues presented by such agreements in the context of political campaigns. Instead, the judge — an appointee of President George W. Bush — said the sweeping, boilerplate language the campaign compelled employees to sign was so vague that the agreement was invalid under New York contract law.

              “As to the scope of the provision, it is — as a practical matter —unlimited. ... Accordingly, Campaign employees are not free to speak about anything concerning the Campaign,” wrote Gardephe. “The non-disclosure provision is thus much broader than what the Campaign asserts is necessary to protect its legitimate interests, and, therefore, is not reasonable.”
              Gardephe’s 36-page decision said a non-disparagement clause in the agreement was similarly flawed.

              “The Campaign’s past efforts to enforce the non-disclosure and non-disparagement provisions demonstrate that it is not operating in good faith to protect what it has identified as legitimate interests,” the judge added. “The evidence before the Court instead demonstrates that the Campaign has repeatedly sought to enforce the non-disclosure and non-disparagement provisions to suppress speech that it finds detrimental to its interests.”

              Gardephe issued the ruling in a case brought by Jessica Denson, a Hispanic outreach director for Trump in 2016 who accused the campaign of sex discrimination in separate litigation.

              At one point, the campaign persuaded an arbitrator to issue a $50,000 award against Denson for violating the agreement, but that award was later overturned.

              Denson celebrated the latest ruling, saying it dealt a death blow to a tactic Trump has long wielded to control his image.

              “I’m overjoyed,” Denson told POLITICO. “This president … former president spent all four years aspiring to autocracy while claiming that he was champion of freedom and free speech. ... There’s many people out there who have seen cases like mine and were terrified to speak out.”

              For decades, Trump required such secrecy agreements of his personal employees and staff in his companies. When he jumped into the presidential race in 2016, his lawyers continued to demand NDAs that seemed modeled on those he used previously in his personal and business affairs.

              The practice continued into Trump’s presidency, despite warnings from First Amendment advocates that it was unconstitutional to demand that public employees swear an oath of secrecy. Precisely who at the White House was required to sign such agreements and what they covered remains something of a mystery.

              The Justice Department joined in the secrecy drive last year by filing a lawsuit against Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former volunteer adviser to first lady Melania Trump, over a tell-all book Winston Wolkoff wrote. Some legal experts questioned the basis for the suit, which was based on an NDA she had signed. Days after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the Justice Department dropped the case.

              Denson said she is certain that such agreements helped mute criticism of Trump during his 2016 presidential race and through his four years in office.

              “Just the terms of the NDA were wildly restricting and it completely stifled public debate, truthful public debate about the Trump campaign and presidency, so this is a massive victory,” the former aide said. “NDAs like this are part of the reason why we ended up with a Donald Trump candidacy and presidency in the first place.”

              An adviser to the former president expressed disagreement with the ruling and said Trump’s attorneys are considering their options.

              “We believe the court reached the wrong decision and President Trump’s lawyers are examining all potential appeals,” said the aide, who asked not to be identified.

              Technically, Gardephe’s decision applies only to Denson, barring the campaign from enforcing the NDA against her. But her attorneys said Tuesday they think the decision effectively nullifies all the NDAs the Trump campaign has issued.

              “The court ruled point by point, almost entirely in our favor,” said Denson's New York-based lawyer, David Bowles.

              Denson's suit was also backed by Protect Democracy, an advocacy organization which formed in opposition to Trump but bills itself as non-partisan and anti-authoritarian. An attorney with the group, John Langford, said the court ruling transcends Trump and serves as a warning to any campaign considering any similar effort to gag its staffers.

              “From our perspective, it’s really not about politics,” Langford said. “No one should have to give up their free speech rights or swear allegiance to a candidate forever just to get a job with or volunteer on a campaign.”

              The court decision does not foreclose the use of narrower non-disclosure agreements to protect sensitive campaign information, which the judge said might include polling data and fundraising strategies.

              The Trump campaign asked Gardephe to edit the provisions if he found them unenforceable as written, but he declined.
              “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
              ― Dwight D. Eisenhower


              • NY Prosecutors Subpoenaed Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg's Personal Bank Records

                New York State prosecutors investigating former President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization have subpoenaed the personal bank records of the company’s chief financial officer and are investigating gifts he and his family received from Trump, according to a new report.

                According to the New York Times, Manhattan prosecutors have turned their attention toward Allen Weisselberg, who has overseen the company’s finances for decades. Sources told the Times prosecutors working for Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. seem to be working to gain Weisselberg’s cooperation in their investigation into whether Trump and the company falsely manipulated property values to receive loans and tax benefits.

                Though Weisselberg has not been accused of wrongdoing, if prosecutors were to discover any possible illegal activity through a review of his personal finances, they could then use that information to push him to cooperate with the investigation.

                Prosecutors are also looking to obtain another round of internal documents from the Trump Organization, including general ledgers from a number of its more than two dozen properties that the company did not turn over last year, according to the report. They have subpoenaed records from banks where Trump or the Trump Organization had accounts, such as JPMorgan Chase and Capital One, as well.

                The developments come after the district attorney’s office obtained Trump’s tax records and other underlying financial documents in February after the Supreme Court ruled against the former president’s efforts to block Vance from receiving the financial information.

                Trump has previously denied any wrongdoing, calling the investigation a politically motivated “fishing expedition.”

                The probe is still investigating allegations that the Trump Organization played a role in doling out illegal hush-money payments in 2016 to two women who claimed they had affairs with Trump.

                Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty in 2018 to violating campaign-finance laws in handing out the payments, which he said were made “at the direction of and with the knowledge of” Trump during his run for president in 2016.

                Cohen later testified to Congress that Weisselberg was aware of the payments and even helped create a plan to mask the reimbursements. The federal prosecutors who charged Cohen did not accuse Weisselberg of wrongdoing, however.

                "It's like in chess: First, you strategically position your pieces and when the timing is right you strike....and then, Checkmate"
                “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
                ― Dwight D. Eisenhower


                • Ex-DOJ Official Says Trump’s In ‘Serious Trouble’ After New Legal Filings
                  Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal says Trump is facing a different kind of legal threat now.

                  Former President Donald Trump is in “serious trouble” as a result of a new lawsuit filed against him by two police officers injured in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, a former top government lawyer said.

                  “If you could short Donald Trump right now, it would be a good time to do so,” former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal said on MSNBC on Wednesday.

                  The federal lawsuit filed this week blames Trump for the physical and emotional injuries the officers incurred during the insurrection, which was egged on by the then-president and carried out by his supporters.

                  “Trump, by his words and conduct, directed the mob that stormed the Capitol and assaulted and battered James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby,” the lawsuit stated.

                  Two police officers who were injured in the Jan. 6 insurrection have now filed suit against former President Donald Trump.
                  Last week, Trump claimed his supporters were “hugging and kissing” the police, but Katyal read an excerpt from the lawsuit that described what really happened:

                  “Officer Hemby was attacked relentlessly. He was bleeding from a cut located less than an inch from his eye. He had cuts and abrasions on his face and hands, and his body was pinned against a large metal door, fending off attacks.”

                  “So, when Donald Trump says that these folks were hugging and kissing the guards?” Katyal said. “My God. My God.”

                  Katyal also pointed out that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “literally invited” the lawsuit earlier this year with his comments during the impeachment trial.

                  “President Trump is still liable for everything he did while in office,” McConnell said at the time. “He didn’t get away with anything yet. We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation.”

                  That, said Katyal, was why the lawsuit wasn’t surprising.

                  “I’ve been waiting for it,” he said. “The fact is, Donald Trump fomented violence. Even Liz Cheney said it.”

                  And because so many GOP figures have said Trump bears the blame for the assault, the suit can’t be easily dismissed as a political attack.

                  “Donald Trump is in serious trouble,” Katyal said, referring to the new lawsuit as well as other potential legal action. “And the difference between now and the past is that the Republican Party and senior officials in there are inviting this trouble now and saying that there’s merit to it.”

                  “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
                  ― Dwight D. Eisenhower


                  • Two Capitol Cops Sue Trump for Jan. 6—What Are Their Chances?
                    They allege that he “inflamed, encouraged, incited, directed, and aided and abetted” the insurrectionist mob that attacked them.

                    Yesterday, two Capitol police officers who were injured in the Jan. 6 insurrection sued Donald J. Trump in federal court in Washington, D.C., alleging a series of civil torts under District of Columbia law. They seek compensatory and punitive damages from Trump personally. The complaint alleges in detail that the then-president stoked the insurrection through tweets and speeches, culminating in his address to the crowd at the rally he summoned to Washington, in which he claimed the election was “rigged” and “stolen,” said that “when you catch somebody in a fraud, you’re allowed to go by very different rules,” and gave marching orders: “we’re going to the Capitol . . . to take back our country.”

                    The officers swiftly became mired in the chaos and violence, were sprayed with chemicals, struck with fists and other objects, and called the n-word. One of the two officers wound up with bloody cuts and abrasions after being pinned against a large metal door. The other suffered injuries to his head and back, and allegedly remains psychologically “haunted by the memory of being attacked,” unable to sleep.

                    The sad reality is that these heroic officers’ case will likely be rebuffed by a defense motion to dismiss the case based on—yet again—Trump’s immunity as president of the United States. Unlike Trump’s broad claims of immunity from any legal scrutiny while president, which the Supreme Court properly rejected, this one is likely to have serious legal weight.

                    The complaint cites five counts against Trump. Although assault and battery are crimes, aiding and abetting assault and battery can also give rise to civil liability under some state laws. The plaintiffs raise that claim under D.C. law here, and further allege that Trump directed the rioters to commit intentional infliction of emotional distress—a more traditional tort—as well as a couple of violations of the D.C. Code, including incitement to riot and disorderly conduct.

                    Keep in mind that these are civil charges for money damages; they cannot conceivably put Donald Trump in jail. Only the government can do that. As is now well known, the Justice Department refuses as a matter of policy to contemplate criminal action against a sitting president, regardless of the severity of the facts. Yet, as even former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell noted in explaining his lame vote to acquit Trump of the second impeachment charge, so long as the applicable statute of limitations has not run, criminal charges can be brought against Trump now that he is no longer president.

                    But the same does not clearly hold true for civil claims. In Nixon v. Fitzgerald, the Supreme Court in 1982 held that presidents have “absolute immunity” from liability for civil damages arising from any official action taken while in office. That case involved an U.S. Air Force employee who testified before a congressional subcommittee about cost overruns and other problems with the development of a particular aircraft. The employee was later fired, and his job eliminated. After a complaint to the federal Civil Service Commission failed, he sued for damages in federal district court, naming various Defense Department and White House officials, including President Nixon himself.

                    The Supreme Court dismissed the claim against Nixon, concluding that “as a former President of the United States, [he] is entitled to absolute immunity from damages liability predicated on his official acts.” Note that this genre of immunity extends past a president’s term of office, even though—as the Court later held in Clinton v. Jones—a president can be sued while in office over conduct that occurred prior to being sworn in. In short, presidents have to be able to do their jobs without fear of civil liability. On the same rationale, the same immunity applies to members of Congress—in their case, it is even written into the Constitution—federal judges, and prosecutors.

                    The plaintiffs’ complaint doesn’t attempt to stave off the inevitable immunity argument by asserting, for example, that Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 cannot be considered an “official act” within the meaning of Nixon because they were “ultra vires”—i.e., beyond the proper powers of the president under Article II of the Constitution. Presumably, the plaintiffs’ seemingly able lawyers have an argument or two up their sleeves, which could conceivably produce new law around the scope of presidential power and presidential immunity. Such clarity and shoring up are badly needed in the wake of the Trump presidency and its assault on American democracy.

                    One thing remains of note under Nixon: The Court went out of its way to make clear that “we need not address directly the immunity question as it would arise if Congress expressly had created a damages action against the President of the United States.” Congress could still do this by passing a statute making presidents civilly liable for inciting insurrections.

                    If there is to be justice and accountability for Trump’s wrongdoing on and before Jan. 6, therefore, Congress has to be the institution to do it. Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s February call for a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Capitol riots, however, Congress has gone deathly silent on the subject. This nonfeasance adds insult to the officers’ injuries. If nothing else, their lawsuit should reboot Pelosi’s call for serious scrutiny into Trump’s role in the fateful day that killed five people, including a Capitol police colleague, and threatened American democracy itself.

                    Looks like Trump will probably get off scot-free for his central role in inciting the January 6th insurrection.
                    “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
                    ― Dwight D. Eisenhower


                    • Lynne Patton, Former Trump Aide And HUD Official, Barred From Federal Employment

                      Lynne Patton, a former Trump administration official, has been fined and barred from federal employment for four years after violating the Hatch Act, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel announced Tuesday.

                      The investigative agency announced a settlement with Patton, who oversaw Housing and Urban Development in New York and New Jersey starting in 2017, and said she misused her office to help former President Donald Trump’s failed 2020 re-election effort.

                      In 2019, as a regional head of HUD, Patton announced her plan to spend a month living in New York public housing. The Office of Special Counsel said she inappropriately used her position when she later recruited one of the residents she had met to find other residents who would say positive things about Trump for a video that would air at the Republican National Convention.

                      “By using information and NYCHA connections available to her solely by virtue of her HUD position, Patton improperly harnessed the authority of her federal position to assist the Trump campaign in violation of the Hatch Act,” the office said in a press release.

                      In addition to her four-year ban from federal employment, Patton will pay a $1,000 fine. The announcement will likely provoke discussions about other potential Hatch Act violators, including Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and Kellyanne Conway, advisers who frequently made political statements while serving in their official roles.

                      Patton’s powerful role in HUD was widely criticized from the moment Trump appointed her. Patton, like former HUD Secretary Ben Carson, had no experience in housing policy before Trump picked her to lead Region 2, the densely populated region including New York and New Jersey. Prior to working in HUD, where she briefly worked as the secretary’s adviser, Patton was an aide to the Trump family and the former president’s son, Eric Trump.

                      In 2019, during her brief stay in New York public housing, many residents and co-tenants viewed the stint as a publicity stunt. Patton openly condemned public housing conditions and blamed them entirely on officials in New York City, who were frequent targets of the former president. In reality, experts have said continued cuts to HUD are responsible for the lack of affordable, quality housing in the United States. Trump proposed slashing billions of dollars from HUD’s budget in his 2021 fiscal plan made public last year.

                      In 2019, Patton controversially claimed she’d been given clearance from “the Trump family” to participate in a reality show while working as a high-ranking HUD official.

                      It's about goddamn time that the swamp creatures of the Trump Family were hit with Hatch Act violations. The ban on federal employment is completely pro forma, as she's not likely to get hired during the Biden Administration anyway. But the precedent is what truly counts here.
                      “Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of America. When America consists of one leader and 158 million followers, it will no longer be America.”
                      ― Dwight D. Eisenhower