Trump says he invoked fifth amendment in New York attorney general’s investigation: ‘I declined to answer’– live
Federal prosecutors in Michigan today began laying out their case against two men accused of plotting to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 , saying that conversations about their plan went beyond just idle talk, Reuters reports.
Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr face kidnapping and weapons conspiracy charges for the second time after a federal judge in Grand Rapids, Michigan declared a mistrial last April.
The men - alleged members of the Three Percenters , a self-styled militia group - are accused of plotting to abduct Whitmer from her vacation home and stage a “trial” for her for treason. Two other defendants were found not guilty in the men’s first trial.
The mistrial was a setback for federal prosecutors in one of the highest-profile cases in years involving militias. The second trial will give them another opportunity.
In his opening statement on Wednesday, a prosecutor said the men determined where the governor, performed reconnaissance on her summer cottage and gathered the equipment they needed, such as body armor and ammunition, to carry out their plan, according to a local TV station.
This wasn*t just talk. You will see these defendants and others took specific steps, planning and training,” Chris O’Connor, the assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan, told the jury, local Fox affiliate WXMI reported.
Attorneys for Fox and Croft revived their arguments from the first trial saying that there was no conspiracy.
Christopher Gibbons, who represents Fox, described the accused as “big talkers” whose comments should not be taken seriously, according to NBC-affiliate WOOD-TV.
If convicted on the conspiracy charges, the men face the possibility of life in prison.
The two men on trial are among 13 men who were arrested in October 2020 and charged with state or federal crimes in the alleged kidnapping conspiracy. Seven of them are facing charges in state court.
It’s been a sparky morning in US political news, mainly relating to the man Joe Biden refers to as “that guy”. The president has now jetted off on vacation but we’ll bring you all the developments as they happen.
Here’s where things stand.
Donald Trump invoked the fifth amendment against self incrimination (with an eye to a parallel criminal case in New York) during a deposition at the office of state attorney general Letitia James this morning, in her civil case relating to the former president’s real estate business.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan warned Iran against any attacks targeting Americans following allegations that it plotted to kill John Bolton , a noted foe of Tehran who served in the Trump administration.
The justice department announced charges against a Tehran-based member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards for attempting to hire someone in the United States to kill John Bolton , a national security adviser under Donald Trump .
Data showing inflation flatlining in July prompted Joe Biden to say the figures were a sign that the world’s largest economy was healthy and poised to see prices moderate in the months to come.
Here is the president and family heading to South Carolina for a break.
There’s also this.
Updated at 7.07pm BST
Following her visit to Taiwan that has sent tensions with China soaring , Democratic House speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference that the trip’s goal was not to change Washington’s relationship with Taipei, but rather express solidarity.
“We will not allow China to isolate Taiwan”, Pelosi said. “They have kept Taiwan from participating in the World Health Organization, other things were Taiwan can make a very valued contribution. And they may keep them from going there, but they’re not keeping us from going to Taiwan.”
She noted Taiwan’s status as a democracy in contrast with authoritarian China, which considers the island a breakaway province and has vowed to reunify with it, even by force.
Beijing warned Pelosi against going and responded to her trip by announcing military drills around Taiwan – steps the Democratic lawmaker said China did not take when a delegation of senators visited the island earlier this year.
“So in any event, we’re very proud of our delegation”, she said.
White House warns Iran 'will face severe consequences' if it attacks US citizens
National security adviser Jake Sullivan has warned Iran against any attacks targeting Americans following allegations that it plotted to kill John Bolton , a noted foe of Tehran who served in the Trump administration.
“We have said this before and we will say it again: the Biden Administration will not waiver in protecting and defending all Americans against threats of violence and terrorism. Should Iran attack any of our citizens, to include those who continue to serve the United States or those who formerly served, Iran will face severe consequences. We will continue to bring to bear the full resources of the U.S. Government to protect Americans,” Sullivan said in a statement .
Bolton, who was Trump’s national security adviser from 2018 to 2019, presided over Washington’s decision to leave the Iran nuclear deal, and has advocated for bombing the country. The assassination plot alleged by the justice department earlier today appeared to be in retaliation for the 2020 assassination of Qassem Suleimani , the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, who was killed on Trump’s orders.
Former national security adviser John Bolton has released a statement thanking the justice department for exposing the assassination plot against him.
He also takes a stab at the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which the United States pulled out of in 2018, during Bolton’s time in Donald Trump ’s White House. The Biden administration along with its allies are in the midst of uncertain and lengthy negotiations with Tehran to revitalize the deal.
Updated at 5.58pm BST
Despite his apparently mounting legal troubles, Trump has continued to have success in getting his preferred candidates through primaries, as yesterday’s elections show:
Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a member of the select progressive group in the House of Representative dubbed the Squad , eked out a closer-than-expected Democratic primary victory on Tuesday night against a centrist challenger who questioned the incumbent’s support for the “defund the police” movement.
The evening went far smoother for another progressive, Becca Balint, who won the Democratic House primary in Vermont – positioning her to become the first woman representing the state in Congress.
But Tim Michels, backed by Donald Trump, was projected to win the Republican nomination for governor of Wisconsin, a day after the FBI searched the former US president’s home in Florida reportedly seeking classified documents.
More details are emerging about the FBI’s search on Monday of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, including that agents were looking for papers that the former president may have unlawfully taken from the White House. Hugo Lowell reports:
Federal investigators searched Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida on Monday bearing a warrant that broadly sought presidential and classified records that the justice department believed the former president unlawfully retained, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The criminal nature of the search warrant executed by FBI agents, as described by the sources, suggested the investigation surrounding Trump is firmly a criminal probe that comes with potentially far-reaching political and legal ramifications for the former president.
And the extraordinary search, the sources said, came after the justice department grew concerned – as a result of discussions with Trump’s lawyers in recent weeks – that presidential and classified materials were being unlawfully and improperly kept at the Mar-a-Lago resort.
The unprecedented raid of a former president’s home by FBI agents was the culmination of an extended battle between Trump and his open contempt for the Presidential Records Act of 1978 requiring the preservation of official documents, and officials charged with enforcing that law.
No matter how he does it, a judge in Georgia yesterday ordered Donald Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani to appear in person before an Atlanta special grand jury looking into attempts to tamper with the state’s election results in 2020.
According to The New York Times , Giuliani has claimed his health doesn’t allow him to fly to the state – an argument a judge wasn’t buying.
“John Madden drove all over the country in his big bus, from stadium to stadium. So one thing we need to explore is whether Mr. Giuliani could get here without jeopardizing his recovery and his health. On a train, on a bus or Uber, or whatever it would be,” Robert C.I. McBurney , a superior court judge in Fulton County, said.
Giuliani has been tentatively ordered to appear on August 17.
Justice department says Iran Revolutionary Guard member plotted to murder John Bolton
The justice department has announced charges against a Tehran-based member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards for attempting to hire someone in the United States to kill John Bolton , a national security adviser under Donald Trump .
According the department , 45-year-old Shahram Poursafi last year promised an unnamed person in the United States $300,000 to kill Bolton, probably as retaliation for Washington’s assassination of Qassem Suleimani in January 2020. The goal was apparently to have Bolton killed by the 3 January anniversary of Suleimani’s death in Baghdad, but the person Poursafi allegedly hired for the job was actually a confidential informant.
While Bolton had left the White House by the time of Suleimani’s death, he is a known Iran hawk who has called for bombing the country .
Poursafi remains at large, according to the justice department.
Updated at 4.59pm BST
The Guardian’s Lauren Aratani has more on whether inflation really is declining in the United States – and how fast it may fall:
What goes up must come down. Right? Inflation has been soaring over the last year. But price rises in July were “just” 8.5% higher than what they were last July, down from a 9.1% yearly rate in June. Perhaps the worst is over?
Americans have been feeling the hit at the gas pump, grocery stores, restaurants and when planning vacations. In response, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates from near zero to between 2.25% and 2.5% as it tries to drive inflation down to its target rate of 2%, but it is unclear when that goal can be reached.
What is clear is that when and if prices do start to fall, it is going to take time, and in some sectors, a lot more time than in others. Nor is declining overall inflation a guarantee that prices will not rise in some areas again.
Biden hails July's 'zero' inflation, calls it proof economic plan is on track
Following the release of data showing inflation flatlining in July, Joe Biden said the figures were a sign that the world’s largest economy was healthy and poised to see prices moderate in the months to come.
“I just want to say a number: zero”, Biden said at the start of a White House ceremony to sign a bill assisting military veterans who were exposed to harmful chemicals .
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that inflation in July was flat compared to June, but over the past 12 months, it had risen by a rapid 8.5%. That was lower than the month prior, and the data seemed to indicate the price increase wave may have passed its peak. Inflation began ticking up last year as the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines sparked an economic reopening, and was exacerbated by factors including the Federal Reserve’s low interest rate policies, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and instability in global oil markets that caused gas prices to spike in the United States.
The inflation data followed Friday’s surprisingly good hiring numbers for July , which showed the unemployment rate returning to where it was before the pandemic struck.
“We’re seeing a stronger labor market where jobs are booming and Americans are working and we’re seeing some signs that inflation may be getting to moderate” Biden said.
“That’s what happens when you build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out. The wealthy do very well and everyone has a chance. It gives everyone a chance to make progress.”
Updated at 4.59pm BST
The Guardian’s Edward Helmore has more on Trump’s refusal to talk to New York investigators looking into his real estate dealings:
Donald Trump said he declined to answer questions under oath on Wednesday as part of the New York state attorney general Letitia James’s long-running civil investigation into his dealings as a real estate mogul.
The former US president had previously slammed the legal encounter in a brash post on his Truth Social social media platform, the day before he was due to appear for the deposition.
“In New York City tonight. Seeing racist NYS Attorney General tomorrow, for a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in US history!” Trump wrote, repeating an insult he has thrown repeatedly thrown at James, who is Black and the first woman of color ever to hold statewide elected office in New York.
Trump says he invoked fifth amendment in New York investigation
In a lengthy statement, Donald Trump has announced he refused to answer questions during a deposition today as part of New York attorney general Letitia James ’s investigation into his real estate dealings.
The statement is full of attacks on James, but closes with the former president declaring he has lost faith in the justice system – at least under his Democratic rival, president Joe Biden :
I once asked, “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” Now I know the answer to that question. When your family, your company, and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded, politically motivated Witch Hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors, and the Fake News Media, you have no choice. If there was any question in my mind, the raid of my home, Mar-a-Lago, on Monday by the FBI, just two days prior to this deposition, wiped out any uncertainty. I have absolutely no choice because the current Administration and many prosecutors in this Country have lost all moral and ethical bounds of decency.
Accordingly, under the advice of my counsel and for all of the above reasons, I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.
Updated at 4.57pm BST
Data released this morning shows the inflation wave that has played a big part in destroying president Joe Biden’s approval ratings may finally be cresting, Dominic Rushe reports:
The pace of price rises dipped in the US in July as gas prices eased bringing down the annual rate of inflation to 8.5%, still close to a multi-decade high but lower than the four-decade peak it hit in June.
July’s figure, while still high, represents a significant fall from the annual rate of 9.1% recorded in June and will raise hopes that inflation has finally peaked in the US. It follows other indicators that have suggested price rises are finally moderating.
But the report showed once again how broadly inflation has spread through the economy. After stripping out food and energy costs – which are highly volatile – prices climbed by 5.9% in the year to the end of July, matching last month’s reading.
It’s too soon to say what the outcome of the FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate will be, but as Edward Helmore reports, it’s already become fundraising fodder for Republican candidates:
Republican and rightwing groups have swiftly used the FBI raid on Donald Trump’s winter home at Mar-a-Lago in Florida to raise money from their supporters by bombarding them with fundraising emails and appeals for donations.
In public the former US president, his allies and nearly all senior Republicans have expressed deep outrage at the raid, which is linked to Trump apparently keeping classified documents at Mar-a-Lago from his time in the White House. But the same figures have also seen the moment as a clear opportunity to urge supporters to dig deep into their pockets.
Most of the emails followed a common script: outrage at the raid, warnings of political persecution, the lawlessness and overreach of Democrats and the Biden administration. Each concluded with an invitation to make a donation.
Keeping up with the many lawsuits and investigations swirling around Donald Trump can be overwhelming. Here’s a rundown from Reuters of his known legal engagements:
Donald Trump said on Monday that FBI agents searched his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.
While the search appears to be part of an investigation into Trump’s unlawful removal and destruction of White House records after his presidency, the businessman and politician is facing investigations and lawsuits on a number of fronts.
Here’s a recap.
Today is a day Donald Trump has been avoiding for a long time.
As the Guardian has previously reported , the former president pulled out all the legal stops to try to get himself out of testifying in New York attorney general Letitia James ’s investigation into whether the Trump Organization inflated the value of its real estate assets to claim tax breaks and get loans. The bid was unsuccessful, and his two children, Ivanka and Donald Jr, have already spoken to James’ office, according to NBC news .
And yet, just because Trump is there doesn’t mean investigators will hear much from him today. The Associated Press reports that his attorney has recommended Trump invoke his fifth amendment rights not to answer questions that could incriminate him. Though as the story notes, Trump once said, “The mob takes the fifth.”
Updated at 3.17pm BST
Good morning, US politics blog readers. Two days after the FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago residence, Donald Trump will today sit for a deposition as part of the New York attorney general’s investigation into his business practices. The former president’s legal entanglements are numerous, but don’t seem to have undercut the power of his endorsement – on Tuesday, several of his preferred candidates triumphed in primary elections in four states.
Here is what’s on the agenda today:
Inflation cooled in July , according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics , which reported consumer prices were unchanged last month.
Joe Biden will sign the Pact Act , which assists veterans exposed to toxic chemicals during their military service, then travel to South Carolina.