New York attorney general says ‘no one is above’ the law as

New York attorney general sues Trump, children over alleged fraud

The New York attorney general, Letitia James, just announced a lawsuit against Donald Trump and his family, accusing them of fraudulently inflating their net worth by billions of dollars to get better terms on bank loans and other financial benefits.

Here’s more fromthe Guardian’s Martin Pengelly on the suit, which presents the latest in the many legal threats facing the former president:

The attorney general of New York state has filed a civil lawsuit against Donald Trump and members of his family, the culmination of a years-long investigation of financial practices at the Trump Organization.

Letitia James announced the suit in New York on Wednesday.

In a statement, the attorney general said the suit was filed “against Donald Trump, the Trump Organization, senior management and involved entities for engaging in years of financial fraud to obtain a host of economic benefits.

“The lawsuit alleges that Donald Trump, with the help of his children Donald Trump Jr, Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump, and senior executives of the Trump Organization, falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to induce banks to lend money to the Trump Organization on more favorable terms than would otherwise have been available to the company, to satisfy continuing loan covenants, induce insurers to provide insurance coverage for higher limits and lower premiums, and to gain tax benefits, among other things.”

Key events

Last year, Julie Rikelman argued on behalf of abortion rights in front of the supreme court. This year, she has pledged to uphold the court’s decision overturning abortion rights nationwide if confirmed as a federal appellate judge.

Bloomberg Law reports on the exchange that took place during Rikelman’s confirmation hearing for the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which covers the northeastern United States. Rikelman argued before the supreme court on behalf of the Center for Reproductive Rights as they considered Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. When it decided that case, the conservative-dominated court not only upheld a Mississippi law curbing abortion access, it also overturned Roe v Wade entirely, allowing states to ban the procedure.

“Our legal system and the rule of law itself depends on lower courts following Supreme Court precedent and as you said Dobbs is now the law of the land and I will follow it as I will follow all Supreme Court precedent,” Rikelman said in her confirmation hearing before the Senate judiciary committee.

A candidate embellishing their background isn’t unheard of on the campaign trail, but CNN has a story today on something unique and far more troubling going on at election offices across the country.

Administrators nationwide are being hit with a deluge of public records requests for massive amounts of election data, CNN reports, including the little-known cast vote records generated by voting machines. The concern is that the requests will complicate the work of voting officials nationwide ahead of the November midterms.

The requests appear to be traced back to Mike Lindell, a prominent Trump ally and conspiracy theorist who encouraged people to make such requests a month ago:

In a telephone interview with CNN, Lindell said he first learned of the cast vote records in June and views them as a way to “detect machine manipulation” of the 2020 election.

Asked how they would, he said: “You’d have to talk to a cyber guy… It’s the sequence and the patterns.”

Lindell has spent nearly two years spreading falsehoods about the 2020 election. Dominion Voting Systems, the frequent target of his attacks, has sued Lindell and his company for defamation.

Lindell said the records would bolster his effort to rid the election system of machines. Some of the requesters, he said, are taking what they found to local county officials and sheriffs to demand the removal of machines in their counties.

“I want computers and voting machines gone,” he said.

Voting officials have had to bring on new staff to handle them, but according to CNN, many people making the requests act as if they are just following orders. “‘I don’t know what this is. I don’t know what it does. I just know I’m supposed to ask for it,’” is what one official said the requesters often say.

The pitch to voters made by J.R. Majewski, who is running to unseat a long-serving Democrat in an Ohio district redrawn in the GOP’s favor, is this: elect a Donald Trump-backed conservative who served his country in Afghanistan.

The only problem being that the last part isn’t true, according to an investigation just released by the Associated Press.

The article says it all:

Campaigning for a northwestern Ohio congressional seat, Republican J.R. Majewski presents himself as an Air Force combat veteran who deployed to Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, once describing “tough” conditions including a lack of running water that forced him to go more than 40 days without a shower.

Military documents obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request tell a different story.

They indicate Majewski never deployed to Afghanistan but instead completed a six-month stint helping to load planes at an air base in Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally that is a safe distance from the fighting.

Majewski’s account of his time in the military is just one aspect of his biography that is suspect. His post-military career has been defined by exaggerations, conspiracy theories, talk of violent action against the U.S. government and occasional financial duress.

Federal Reserve makes another big rate hike to fight US inflation

The Federal Reserve made yet another aggressive interest rate hike at the conclusion of its meeting today as it looks to cut into the rapid price growth that’s beset the US economy without causing a recession.

The three-quarter percentage point increase in the central bank’s funds rate approved by the Federal Open Market Committee is the third straight hike of that size, and comes after data released earlier this month showed inflation declining by less than expected in August.

Led by Jerome Powell, a Republican whom president Joe Biden nominated for a second term last year, the American central bank ended the easy money policies it rolled out during the Covid-19 pandemic and earlier this year started raising rates and running down its massive holdings of debt. The catalyst was price pressures that rose throughout 2021, prompting the Fed to abruptly pivot from a strategy of spurring growth by keeping borrowing costs low to rapidly increasing rates as inflation hit levels not seen since the 1980s.

However, analysts say the Fed waited too long to begin hiking, allowing inflation to get far worse than necessary as it was being driven higher by factors like Russia’s war in Ukraine and supply shocks caused by the pandemic. The concern now is that the central bank – which uses interest rates as a powerful but blunt tool to stabilize employment and prices in the world’s largest economy – could cause a recession that undermines the recovery made by American workers and businesses over the past two years.

Trevor Timm

Trevor Timm

Liberal pundits and Twitter accounts are cheering the investigation into Donald Trump for holding classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate. What they may not know is that they are also throwing their support behind one of the most pernicious and terrible laws that exists: the Espionage Act.

Holding Trump accountable doesn’t mean we should all become cheerleaders for an often-abused law primarily used to prosecute whistleblowers and threaten journalists.

Ever since the 100-year old Espionage Act was cited in the warrant for the search of Trump’s Florida residence, Twitter and cable news have been rife with misinformation about the law and what it means. Those clamoring for Trump to be prosecuted under the act are spreading a ton of misleading statements in the process.

First, let’s get this out of the way: just because the law is called “the Espionage Act” doesn’t mean there is any evidence Trump committed “espionage”. MSNBC hosts and their former CIA guests are even baselessly speculating that because Trump had these documents at his house, it is connected to the spate of deaths of CIA assets around the world.

What a convenient excuse for the CIA! There’s not one hint of evidence that Trump having some classified docs at this compound led to any deaths, and it lets the CIA completely off the hook for continually getting people killed, which – by the way – has been happening for decades.

There was a New York Times investigation from several years ago about CIA asset networks in China and Iran being rounded up and executed, which dated back to 2010. Or go read Tim Weiner’s classic history of the CIA, Legacy of Ashes, which details how that has happened over and over again throughout the agency’s history, with little or no public accountability.

Read more:

Dominic Rushe

Dominic Rushe

The Federal Reserve chair, Jerome Powell, warned last month that there would be “pain” ahead as the US central bank struggles to contain a surge in inflation unseen in 40 years.

Jerome Powell.
Jerome Powell. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Powell will offer some indication of how much pain he expects at 2pm today.

The Fed is expected to announce another sharp rise in interest rates after the conclusion of its latest meeting. It will also update its economic forecasts for the US economy.

Economists are predicting the Fed will raise its benchmark interest rate by 0.75 percentage points, the third such rise in a row, and signal plans to raise rates again in the coming months.

Full preview:

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

The Fox News anchor Bret Baier wanted the network to withdraw its famous call of Arizona for Joe Biden on election night in 2020, citing pressure from Donald Trump’s campaign and saying the swing state should be “put back in his column”, a new book says.

Bret Baier.
Bret Baier. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The news is contained in The Divider: Trump in the White House 2017-2021, published in the US on Tuesday.

The authors, Peter Baker of the New York Times and Susan Glasser of the New Yorker, call Baier’s request “stunning”, as Arizona “was never in Trump’s column. While the margin of his defeat in the state had narrowed since election night, he still trailed by more than 10,000 votes.”

In a statement emailed to the Guardian by a Fox News spokesperson, Baier responded to the report.

He said: “The full context of the e-mail is not reported in this book.

“I never said the Trump campaign ‘was really pissed’ – that was from an external email that I referenced within my note. This was an email sent after election night.

“In the immediate days following the election, the vote margins in Arizona narrowed significantly and I communicated these changes to our team along with what people on the ground were saying and predicting district by district. I wanted to analyse at what point (what vote margin) would we have to consider pulling the call for Biden. I also noted that I fully supported our Decision Desk’s call and would defend it on air.”

Full story:

Joe Biden’s speech at the United Nations touched on the war in Ukraine, climate change, China and global food security. Republicans were not impressed.

“Enabling adversaries, ducking blame, and putting America last is Joe Biden’s foreign policy doctrine. From Afghanistan to the open border, Joe Biden has destroyed America’s standing on the world stage, placed Americans in harm’s way, and has made our communities less safe as a result,” Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement released following his address.

As he met with United Nations secretary general António Guterres and his deputies, a reporter asked Biden to comment further on Russia. He replied:

The day so far

Donald Trump is in even more legal trouble after the New York attorney general announced a civil suit against him and his children on fraud charges. Elsewhere in the Empire State, president Joe Biden spoke to the United Nations and accused Russia of trying to “erase a sovereign state from the map” by invading Ukraine, in a call for global unity against Moscow.

Here’s what else happened today:

  • We could hear from Trump this evening on Fox News, according to CBS News, though he may opt to post on social media instead.

  • Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell came close to voting to convict Trump following the January 6 insurrection, while calling the former president “crazy,” a new book said.

  • A bill to amend America’s election law and prevent another January 6 could be voted on in the House today.

Donald Trump could appear on conservative commentator Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News this evening, CBS News reports.

That would give the ex-president the opportunity to respond to the New York attorney general’s lawsuit and fraud allegations against him and his family members, though he may opt to do so elsewhere, such as on his Truth social media network.

Person close to Trump tells CBS News that he’s planning to be on Hannity tonight but no further decisions have been made on whether he’ll get on camera today to respond… expect statements on his social-media platforms… things remain slightly fluid. NY AG presser continues.

— Robert Costa (@costareports) September 21, 2022

New York attorney general Letitia James has released a statement elaborating on her newly announced lawsuit against Donald Trump, saying “there are not two sets of laws for people in this country,” even for former presidents.

Here’s the full statement released by the state’s Democratic top lawyer:

For too long, powerful, wealthy people in this country have operated as if the rules do not apply to them. Donald Trump stands out as among the most egregious examples of this misconduct. With the help of his children and senior executives at the Trump Organization, Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and cheat the system. In fact, the very foundation of his purported net worth is rooted in incredible fraud and illegality. Mr. Trump thought he could get away with the art of the steal, but today, that conduct ends. There are not two sets of laws for people in this country; we must hold former presidents to the same standards as everyday Americans. I will continue to ensure that no one is able to evade the law, because no one is above it.

New York attorney general sues Trump, children over alleged fraud

The New York attorney general, Letitia James, just announced a lawsuit against Donald Trump and his family, accusing them of fraudulently inflating their net worth by billions of dollars to get better terms on bank loans and other financial benefits.

Here’s more fromthe Guardian’s Martin Pengelly on the suit, which presents the latest in the many legal threats facing the former president:

The attorney general of New York state has filed a civil lawsuit against Donald Trump and members of his family, the culmination of a years-long investigation of financial practices at the Trump Organization.

Letitia James announced the suit in New York on Wednesday.

In a statement, the attorney general said the suit was filed “against Donald Trump, the Trump Organization, senior management and involved entities for engaging in years of financial fraud to obtain a host of economic benefits.

“The lawsuit alleges that Donald Trump, with the help of his children Donald Trump Jr, Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump, and senior executives of the Trump Organization, falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to induce banks to lend money to the Trump Organization on more favorable terms than would otherwise have been available to the company, to satisfy continuing loan covenants, induce insurers to provide insurance coverage for higher limits and lower premiums, and to gain tax benefits, among other things.”

Biden wrapped up his speech with an appeal to unity that mentioned neither Ukraine or Russia, but instead referenced the ideals he had earlier said Moscow violated by invading its neighbor.

“Let’s stand together again, declare the unmistakable resolve. The nations of the world are united still,” Biden said, adding, “We stand for the values of the UN Charter.”

“We still believe by working together, we can bend the arc of history toward a freer and more just world for all our children, although none of us have fully achieved it. We’re not passive witnesses to history. We are the authors of history. We can do this, we have to do it, for ourselves and for our future. For humankind,” Biden concluded.

One of the most alarming comments Putin made in his speech earlier today was alluding to the possibility of using nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict – words that caught Biden’s attention.

“A nuclear war cannot be won, and must never be fought,” the American president said before the UN General Assembly, accusing Russia of “making irresponsible nuclear threats.”

He also said Moscow was ignoring a nonproliferation agreement, and conducting “an unprecedented, concerning nuclear buildup without any transparency.”

Biden has shifted his focus to China, saying Washington isn’t looking for a “cold war”, while underscoring the substantial policy differences with Beijing.

“Let me be direct about the competition between the United States and China,” Biden said. “As we manage shifting geopolitical trends, the United States will conduct itself as a reasonable leader. We do not seek conflict, we do not seek a cold war. We do not ask any nation to choose between the United States or any other partner. But the United States will be unabashed and promoting our vision of a free, open, secure and prosperous world and what we have to offer communities of nations.”

He also mentioned Taiwan, saying “we continue to oppose unilateral changes in the status quo by either side” amid speculation Beijing intends to seize the island it considers a breakaway province by force.

Much of Biden’s appeal on behalf of Ukraine focused on Russia’s violation of the UN charter, which is intended to stop countries from attacking each other without reason.

But he also said it was time to change how things are done in the global body, including by expanding the security council beyond its current five permanent members.

“I also believe the time has come for this institution to become more inclusive, so they can better respond to the needs of today’s world. Members of the UN Security Council, including the United States, should consistently uphold and defend the UN charter and refrain refrain from the use of the veto, except in rare, extraordinary situations,” Biden said.

“That is also why the United States supports increasing the number of both permanent and non permanent representatives of the Council. This includes permanent seats for those nations. We have long supported and permanent seats for countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.”

The five permanent members are currently China, France, Russia, the United States and Britain, which has more or less remained static since 1945.

If it can happen to Ukraine, it can happen to you.

That’s the meat of Biden’s argument thus far before world leaders assembled in New York City, where he’s seeking to bolster international support for Ukraine and encourage countries that have remained on the fence to form up behind Kyiv.

“If nations can pursue their imperial ambitions without consequences, then we put at risk everything this very institution stands for, everything,” Biden said, adding that a country “cannot seize a nation’s territory by force.”

“Ukraine has the same rights belong to every sovereign nation. We will stand in solidarity with Ukraine who will stand in solidarity against Russia’s aggression, period.”