When you hear Donald Trump‘s multitudinous legal woes nowadays, it’s typically at the context of this criminal probe being led by Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. Of course, that’s with good reason–in the case of Vance, the D.A. has crucially been granted access to Trump’s much sought after tax returns, which could help his office uncover who knows how many crimes, and is reportedly working on flipping longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg. But it’s important to remember that the former president is actually the subject of two other criminal investigations as well, and is facing no fewer than 29 lawsuits. And in at least one of the cases, it appears his eldest son has not been entirely straight with prosecutors.
According to Mother Jones reporter David Corn, during a February 11 video deposition in which Donald Trump Jr. swore to tell the truth, he seemingly made what one might call inaccurate claims at best and outright lies at worst. Deposed as part of a lawsuit filed by D.C. attorney general Karl Racine against the Trump Organization, the Trump International Hotel, and Trump’s 2016 inaugural committee, in which Racine alleges the groups funneled large amounts of inauguration cash into the first family’s pockets via its hotel, Mother Jones notes that Trump Jr. frequently responded to questions with”I don’t recall,” in addition to downplaying his own involvement in the preparation for his dad’s big day. Which doesn’t seem to track with the actual truth.
Per Mother Jones:
One of the clearest instances of Trump Jr. not testifying accurately came when he was asked about [Stephanie] Winston Wolkoff [a top producer for the inauguration committee]. As the lawsuit notes, during the organization of the inauguration, Winston Wolkoff, then a close friend of Melania Trump, had raised concerns with the president-elect, Ivanka Trump, and [Rick] Gates [the committee’s former deputy chair] about the prices the Trump Hotel was charging the inauguration committee for events to be held there. This included a written warning to Ivanka Trump and Gates that Trump’s hotel was trying to charge the committee twice the market rate for event space. (Gates ignored the warning, the lawsuit notes, and the committee struck a contract with the Trump Hotel for $1. 03 million, an amount the lawsuit says was far above the hotel’s own pricing guidelines.)
During his deposition, Trump Jr. was asked about Winston Wolkoff: “Do you know her?” He replied, “I know of her. I believe I’ve met her, but I don’t know her. If she was in this room I’m not certain I would recognize her.” He added,”I had no involvement with her.”
Which might be a reasonable answer if not for the fact that in a video obtained by Mother Jones, Don Jr. is seen at a dinner held the night before the inauguration lavishing praise on Winston Wolkoff (and inauguration committee chair Tom Barrack) for the “incredible” work they did preparing for the event.
In fact, the dinner came up during the deposition. Asked if he attended the soirée, Junior replied,”I don’t know.” Which is pretty strange given that, in the video, he declares that it will”will go down in history”
Of course, there’s more:
. . .documents obtained by Mother Jones shows there’s evidence that Trump Jr.’s claim of having”no participation” with Winston Wolkoff was false. On January 17, 2017, an assistant for Ivanka Trump texted Winston Wolkoff and said that Trump Jr. wanted to speak to her, providing Winston Wolkoff with his cell number. That same day, Trump Jr. emailed Winston Wolkoff and asked if they could talk. He said he had a contact who”seems to have some rather big talent lined up, if we desired it” for the inauguration events. Winston Wolkoff responded in an email, saying that the inauguration committee was “locked and loaded” for all its events. And Trump Jr. replied,”Thank you Stephanie, I wished to see whether you’re possibly looking for gift. Some friends of mine that are rather large in the industry have been asking around and will have the ability to put together a fairly impressive roster”
Moreover, Trump Jr. shared private moments with Winston Wolkoff during the inauguration stretch, according to Winston Wolkoff’s book Melania and Me, which chronicles her stint working for the inauguration and later for Melania on her White House staff. Two days after Trump was sworn in as president, Winston Wolkoff writes, she toured the White House with Melania (as the new first lady complained about the condition and decor of the executive mansion), and then she joined the Trumps for a celebratory dinner in the Old Family Dining Room. Around the table sat Trump, Melania, and Trump Jr. and Eric [Trump] and their wives. The new president greeted Winston Wolkoff warmly and said,”Isn’t this great. Look at this!” After the dinner, she flew home to New York City with the Trump family, minus Donald, Ivanka, and Jared Kushner. Yet Trump Jr. testified he might not recognize her.
Junior also seemed to have trouble remembering attending an inaugural party at the Trump hotel that was apparently set up specifically for him and his adult siblings and which he allegedly overrode concerns to hold:
Regarding this particular party, Trump Jr. was asked,”There was testimony in the record [of this case] that this event was for family and friends of the Trump children. Meaning that you, Eric, Ivanka, and Tiffany [Trump]. Does that sound familiar?” He replied,”Noit doesn’t.” But then he hedged a bit:”I can only say, we’re probably some of the only family to be involved in any substantial manner in a campaign of this type. So again the connections that we had with donors were likely rather unique. So if there was an element of exclusivity associated, okay, it’s an occasion for your own [Trump] children and their buddies who helped the governmental process, I suppose that is possible. But I do not really recall it, you know, being dubbed that specifically.” That is, Trump was stating that this event at the hotel he co-owned with his father, Ivanka, and Eric–financed by the nonprofit funds of the inauguration committee but not open to the public and not attended by the new president–was not really a party for him and his siblings.
But an email Gates sent to Ivanka Trump on January 11, 2017, that was obtained by Mother Jones shows that the party was indeed organized for Trump Jr., Eric, and Ivanka. “There will be an after party at the OPO [the Old Post Office, a.k.a the Trump Hotel] following the inaugural balls on Friday,” Gates wrote. “DJT is not expected to attend but has been for you, Don and Eric.”
In recently submitted legal filings in the case, Racine provides more evidence this was indeed a private affair for the Trump children and hotel guests. “Attendance was by invitation only, and guests were limited to friends and family of the President-elect and guests of the Hotel,” he maintains in one filing. And he adds,”Incredibly, the last decision to proceed with the event wasn’t even made by the [inauguration committee], but by Donald Trump, Jr.”
Junior also indicated during the deposition that he had not worked with the inaugural committee’s fundraising arm, despite the fact that Sara Armstrong, who served as the CEO of the inauguration committee, said in a deposition that Don Jr. was”loosely connected with all our finance committee” and attended”at least one” meeting of its meetings. Neither Trump Jr., his lawyers, nor the Trump Organization responded to Mother Jones‘s requests for comment. When the lawsuit was filed in January 2020, a spokesperson for Trump Hotels said in a statement that”the rates charged by the hotel were completely consistent with what anyone else would have been charged for an unprecedented occasion of this huge size.”
Last December, after the news had broken that she had sat for a five-hour deposition, an extremely testy Ivanka Trump took to Twitter to insist that the D.C. suit was a politically motivated witch hunt, to which Racine responded:”We filed lawsuit after collecting evidence the Presidential Inaugural Committee knowingly entered into a grossly overpriced contract with the Trump Hotel. Any claim to the contrary is incorrect. DC law requires nonprofits to use funds for stated public purposes, and to prevent unreasonable, wasteful expenses. Our investigation revealed the Committee reluctantly utilized nonprofit funds to enrich the Trump family. It is very simple: They broke the law. That’s the reason why we sued.”
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Florida private school accidentally makes the argument that students’ tuition would be better spent elsewhere
Like, say, a place where the people in charge comprehend science. Per The New York Times:
A private school in the fashionable Design District of Miami delivered its faculty and employees a letter last week about getting vaccinated from COVID-19. But unlike institutions which have supported and even facilitated vaccination for teachers, the school, Centner Academy, did the opposite: One of its cofounders, Leila Centner, informed employees”with a very heavy heart” that when they chose to receive a shot, they would have to stay away from students. In an illustration of how misinformation interrupts the nation’s attempt to vaccinate enough Americans to find the coronavirus in check, Ms. Centner, who has frequently shared anti-vaccine posts on Facebook, maintained in the letter that”reports have surfaced recently of non-vaccinated people being negatively impacted by interacting with people who have been vaccinated.”
“Even among our own population, we have at least three women with menstrual cycles impacted after having spent time with a vaccinated person,” she wrote, repeating a fictitious claim that vaccinated people can somehow pass the vaccine to others and thereby affect their reproductive processes. (They can do .)
Per Day the Times, Centner, that cofounded the faculty with her husband despite seemingly having spent little to no part of her career in education, educated workers their options were to (1) tell the school if they’ve been vaccinated to guarantee they will be physically distanced by pupils, (2) notify the school if they plan to receive the vaccine before the end of the school year”as we cannot allow recently vaccinated people to be near our students until more information is known,” or (3) wait till the school year is over to receive their shot(s). According to the letter, teachers that choose to get vaccinated over the summer will not be permitted to go back until clinical trials are completed, and then only”if a position is still available at that time.” (A type teachers are required to fill out threatens legal action if they don’t answer questions about their vaccinations accurately.)
In a statement, Centner’s publicist told the Times, “We are not 100 percent sure the Covid injections are safe and there are too many unknown variables for us to feel comfortable at this current time.” Of course, as the Times notes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, the Food and Drug Administration, and many other governments on the matter have already concluded that the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for emergency use from the U.S. are both safe and effective.
Not surprisingly, per the Times, that the Centners are Trump assistants whose school, which opened in 2019, supports”medical freedom from mandated vaccines” and invited famous anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to talk to students this past February. Also, these will be the Centners:
Who are you awaiting na trust–leading medical practitioners or blue eye shadow above here? It’s a tough call!
Capitol rioter makes curious case for why he should be released on bail
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before (you’ve never heard this one before). Per Insider:
An Arkansas man arrested and charged in connection to the Capitol insurrection is arguing slang semantics in a new request for bail. Richard “Bigo” Barnett, a self-described white nationalist who posed for a now infamous photo in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s office during the January 6 insurrection, denied allegations that he left a note on Pelosi’s desk calling the California lawmaker a certain offensive name, in a filing for bail modification made last week. Barnett says he called Pelosi a “biatch,” a “less offensive” slang word for “bitch,” according to his attorneys.
In the Friday filing, Barnett’s defense team accused federal prosecutors of misquoting the defendant’s note to Pelosi in a”deliberate attempt to mislead the Court” to ensure Barnett remains detained ahead of his trial. In the government’s opposition memorandum filed earlier this month, prosecutors quoted the letter Barnett is accused of leaving for Pelosi: “Nancy, Bigo was here, you bitch.” Barnett’s attorneys claimed the government misrepresented the defendant’s message to Pelosi.
“The written notice, however, states,’Hey Nancy Bigo was here biatd,”’ the bail motion said. “It does not say’you’ or’bitch’ or have some commas; and also the term’Hey’ is blatantly omitted. A footnote in the filing went on to say that the”d” from the term in question was meant to be two letters,”c” and”h,” together with the two connected to spell out the word”biatch.”
In the filing, Insider notes,” the defense insists that”biatch” is a”less offensive word for bitch,” and includes a link to idioms.thefreedictionary.com/biatch, which defines the word as”rude slang” and also a”variant of’bitch,’ used as a term of endearment or disparagement for another person. ” Unfortunately for ole Bigo, in a movie shot the day of the insurrection, he is viewed literally telling New York Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg,“I left her a note on her desk that says’Nancy, Bigo was here you bitch’.”
In addition to the threatening message, prosecutors have argued that Barnett, who has pleaded not accountable, is a danger to the public and should be held in prison pending his trial, based on the stun gun he brought to the Capitol on January 6, allegations that he ruined evidence when he returned to his Arkansas home, and”provocative and dangerous conduct” leading up to this riot.
Take notes,” Mr. Oscar!
CDC says fully vaccinated Americans can proceed without masks outside, except in crowded settings (Washington Post)
U.S. to share up to 60 million vaccine doses amid pressure to aid desperate countries (Washington Post)
“This Is a Catastrophe.” Back in India, Illness Is Everywhere (NYT)
Biden to sign executive order raising federal contractors’ minimum wage to $15 an hour (NBC News)
Google’s and Microsoft’s Profits Soar as Pandemic Benefits Big Tech (NYT)
Biden Seeks $80 Billion to Beef Up I.R.S. Audits of High-Earners (NYT)
Super League backer JPMorgan admits it”misjudged” reaction from fans (NYP)
“WW2 bomb” found in Bavarian forest was sex toy, say officials (Guardian)
For Extra Days Off, Officials Say, Couple Had 4 Weddings and 3 Divorces (NYT)
“Nobody’s food was secure once Luciano Pavarotti was approximately” (NYP)
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