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Why Nikki Haley urges Republican voters to hold off on supporting Donald Trump

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 GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley urged Republican voters to hold off on supporting former President Donald Trump until they know if he’s going to be convicted in any of the four criminal trials pending against him.

“I think the American people deserve to know what the situation is going to be,” Haley said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Former President Donald Trump currently faces four sets of criminal charges, two federal cases and state-level cases in Georgia and New York.

But Haley on Sunday went beyond targeting Trump over his sweeping indictments. Seeking to upset the former president in the South Carolina Republican primary on Feb. 24, Haley also said Trump should not be trying to block a congressional border bill. Instead, the former South Carolina governor told CNN a new border security plan should be passed as soon as possible.

Haley also used the interview to clarify recent comments she made about states and seceding, telling CNN that no state has the right to leave the country.

Haley on Sunday warned that, as Republican voters select their 2024 nominee to potentially face off against President Joe Biden, “For the next year, (Trump is) going to be sitting a courtroom.”

“I think it speaks for itself that he’s saying he’s going to be spending more time in a courtroom than he’s going to be spending on the campaign trail. We’ve got a country in disarray and a world on fire.”

Haley spoke on CNN days after a federal judge announced the indefinite delay of a March 4 scheduled trial in which Trump is accused of trying to steal the 2020 election from Biden. The trial is being delayed because Trump’s pre-trial appeals are taking up so much time.

Trump also faces three other criminal trials: A hush money case in New York state, a classified documents case in Florida and another election fraud case in the state of Georgia.

Trials in those cases are proposed for March, May and August, but pre-trial maneuvering could delay any or all of them.

Meanwhile, sandwiched between those potential trial datesthe Republican nominating convention starts July 15 in Milwaukee.

Trump in recent weeks has pushed House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La. and other Republican leaders to kill a long-awaited bipartisan border security bill by arguing that Biden already has the power to stop illegal crossings.

But the former president’s critics have argued that Trump simply wants to stop lawmakers from working with Biden on major border legislation ahead of the election.

Haley, for example, told CNN on Sunday that said Trump “is absolutely playing politics” with the border.

“He shouldn’t be getting involved telling Republicans that wait until the election because we don’t want this to help Biden win. We can’t wait one more day.”

Trump allies immediately hit back at Haley following her interview.

“Nikki Haley reeks of desperation,” Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said, adding “it’s clear she knows she has no shot” and “is now auditioning for a cable news contract when her 15 minutes are over.”

Haley faced her own criticism on Sunday, too. The former United Nations ambassador sought to clean up recent comments she made suggesting that states – specifically Texas – could secede from the Union, an issue that helped trigger the Civil War.

In a recent radio interview, Haley said that “if Texas decides they want to do that, they can do that.” She said “if that whole state says, ‘We don’t want to be part of America anymore,’ I mean, that’s their decision to make.”

She also added: “Let’s talk about what’s reality. Texas isn’t going to secede.”

But Haley this week told CNN said she was referencing comments made during her 2010 campaign for South Carolina governor, and that she did not mean to express support for secession and the country breaking apart.

“The Constitution doesn’t allow for that,” Haley said.

She said lawmakers should understand the frustration that some state officials feel over the authority of the federal government, citing Texas and its treatment of the U.S.-Mexico border as a prime example.

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White House pushes back on GOP attacks on Muslim judicial nominee

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WASHINGTON — The White House is slamming three Republican senators for leveling what it deems to be “cruel and Islamophobic attacks” at a Biden judicial nominee as part of a larger “smear effort” to discredit the man, who would be the first Muslim American judge to serve on the federal appeals court if he is confirmed.

GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Tom Cotton of Arkansas are being called out specifically for a “malicious” line of questioning about circuit court nominee Adeel Mangi’s views on Hamas militants’ terrorist attack in Israel on Oct. 7 at his December confirmation hearing. That led to a broader attack from the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative judicial advocacy organization.

“While Mangi served on its board of advisors, the [Rutgers Law School Center for Security, Race, and Rights] taught students to hate Israel and America and to support global terrorism, blaming America for the 9/11 terrorist attacks — and most recently blaming Israel for the Hamas terrorist attack on October 7th,” the group wrote in a statement released Monday.

The White House said conservatives’ criticisms were driven by Islamophobia.

“Mr. Mangi has been subjected to uniquely hostile attacks, in a way other nominees have not — precisely because of his Muslim faith,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement first shared with NBC News. “Senators Cruz, Hawley, and Cotton owe Mr. Mangi an apology.”

“He represents the best of America, and when confirmed, Mr. Mangi will not only make history — he will make an outstanding judge,” Bates added.

The senators told NBC News they remain opposed to Mangi’s candidacy, with a Cotton spokesperson accusing him in a message of “ties to antiSemites,” a Cruz spokesperson saying the White House “can’t defend Adeel Mangi’s record” and a Hawley spokesperson saying of Mangi that “people who advise pro-terrorist campus groups have no place on the federal bench.”

All three cited Mangi’s involvement in the Rutgers Law School Center for Security, Race, and Rights and condemned its decision to host an event on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which featured as a speaker Sami Al-Arian, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to conspiracy to provide services to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The Biden administration is under pressure to improve its standing with Muslim and Arab American communities following its vocal support of Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

President Joe Biden nominated Mangi to serve as a judge on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Philadelphia, last fall.

The Anti-Defamation League, which battles antisemitism, said Mangi was “subjected to aggressive questioning unrelated to his professional expertise or qualifications,” and it criticized the Republican senators for “berating” Mangi “with endless questions that appear to have been motivated by bias towards his religion.”

“This was an attempt to create controversy where one did not exist,” the ADL said last month.

Weeks later, the Judicial Crisis Network launched a digital ad campaign against Mangi, alleging he is antisemitic and “radical.”

Bates, the White House spokesman, wrote, “Mr. Mangi has forcefully and repeatedly condemned Antisemitism, terrorism, and the October 7th terrorist attacks.”

At the hearing, Cruz repeatedly asked Mangi whether he condemned the atrocities of the Hamas terrorists and whether there was “any justification for those atrocities.”

“I have no patience ― none ― for any attempts to justify or defend those events,” Mangi said in December in reference to the Oct. 7 attacks.

Nonprofit groups dedicated to combating Islamophobia in the U.S. have spoken out in Mangi’s defense, as well.

“The deplorable smear campaign against him is steeped in Islamophobic tropes that have no place in our country,” Arsalan Suleman, the CEO of America Indivisible, told NBC News in a statement. “The Senate should confirm Mr. Mangi as soon as possible and condemn these malicious and spurious attacks.”

So far, 177 of Biden’s nominees to be federal judges have been confirmed. More than 65% are women and 65% are people of color, according to the White House.

Biden has nominated and Congress has confirmed more Black women to life-tenured federal judgeships than during any previous administration, according to the White House, including Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman on the U.S. Supreme Court.

While Mangi has cleared the Judiciary Committee process in the Democratic-led Senate, it’s unclear when his nomination will be brought up for a vote in the next procedural step before a confirmation vote.

If he is confirmed, Mangi would be only the third Muslim American federal judge ever.

Mangi has served on the board of directors of the Muslim Bar Association of New York, the Legal Aid Society of New York and Muslims for Progressive Values and as an ally board member for the National LGBT Bar Association, according to his biographical page at the law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, where he is a partner.

Culled from the NBC

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OMG – Trump, Sons, Associate Hit With $364 Million Fraud Fine

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Donald Trump and his real estate company suffered a major defeat in New York’s civil fraud suit over his inflated asset valuations, after a judge barred the former president from running any business in the state for three years and ordered $364 million in penalties plus interest.

The 92-page verdict Friday by Justice Arthur Engoron in Manhattan is a significant victory for New York Attorney General Letitia James, who said in a social media post after the decision that with interest the fine tops $450 million.

Engoron’s ruling is a threat to Trump’s real estate empire and the latest legal setback as the Republican frontrunner campaigns to return to the White House. His two eldest sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, were also found liable and barred from being officers of a company in New York for two years.

During a three-month trial, James claimed Trump inflated asset values on annual financial documents for more than a decade to dupe Deutsche Bank AG and other lenders into giving him better terms on hundreds of millions of dollars in loans.

“Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological. They are accused only of inflating asset values to make more money. The documents prove this over and over again,” Engoron wrote. “They did not rob a bank at gunpoint. Donald Trump is not Bernard Madoff. Yet, defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways.”

Trump is sure to appeal, potentially dragging out a final resolution of the case well beyond the November election. Even if he appeals, he would be required to put up a large chunk of the damages in the form of an escrow or bond.

The judge also found former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg and former company comptroller Jeffrey McConney liable in the suit.

The fine was close to the $370 million sought by the attorney general, who also requested that interest be repaid on the illegal profit. It also exceeded the $250 million included in the original complaint, which she increased based on additional evidence presented at trial.

The fine was mostly based on the $168 million Trump saved by getting lower interest rates on four loans by lying about his wealth. It also includes the $127 million profit from the Old Post Office hotel deal in Washington and $60 million from the sale of Ferry Point golf course in New York, which the state says he wouldn’t have been able to purchase without inflating the value of his assets. The sum also includes the return of bonuses paid to employees who participated in the fraud.

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Judge fines Donald Trump more than $350 million in NY Fraud Case

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…Bars him from running businesses in N.Y. for three years

The judge who presided over a civil business fraud trial against Donald Trump on Friday ordered the former president, his sons, business associates and company to pay over $350 million in damages and temporarily limited their ability to do business in New York.

Judge Arthur Engoron ordered the former president and the Trump Organization to pay over $354 million in damages, and bars Trump “from serving as an officer or director of any New York corporation or other legal entity in New York for a period of three years,” including his namesake company.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who’s office brought the case, said that with pre-judgment interest, the judgment totals over $450 million, an amount “which will continue to increase every single day” until the judgement is paid.

“Donald Trump is finally facing accountability for his lying, cheating, and staggering fraud. Because no matter how big, rich, or powerful you think you are, no one is above the law,” James said in a statement, calling the ruling “a tremendous victory for this state, this nation, and for everyone who believes that we all must play by the same rules — even former presidents.”

The ruling also bars Trump and his company from applying for any bank loans for three years.

Trump told reporters it was a “ridiculous award – a fine of 350 million for a doing a perfect job. ” “It’s a sad day in my opinion for the country,” he said, calling judge “crooked” and the AG “corrupt.”

The decision is a potential blow to both Trump’s finances and persona — having built his brand on being a successful businessman that he leveraged in his first run for president. Trump is currently running for the White House for a third time. This case is just one of many he is currently facing, including four separate pending criminal trials, the first of which is scheduled to begin on March 25.

Engoron also continued “the appointment of an Independent Monitor” and ordered “the installation of an Independent Director of Compliance” for the company.

In posts on his social media platform Truth Social, Trump called the ruling “an illegal, unAmerican judgment against me, my family, and my tremendous business.” “This ‘decision’ is a complete and total sham,” he wrote.

During the trial, Trump and executives at his company, including his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, attempted to blame exaggerated financial statements that were the heart of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ fraud case on the accountants who compiled them. Engoron disagreed.

“There is overwhelming evidence from both interested and non-interested witnesses, corroborated by documentary evidence, that the buck for being truthful in the supporting data valuations stopped with the Trump Organization, not the accountants,” he wrote.

The judge also cited the lack of remorse by Trump and his executives after the fraud was discovered as showing the need for a monitor.

“Their complete lack of contrition and remorse borders on pathological. They are accused only of inflating asset values to make more money. The documents prove this over and over again. This is a venial sin, not a mortal sin. Defendants did not commit murder or arson. They did not rob a bank at gunpoint. Donald Trump is not Bernard Madoff. Yet, defendants are incapable of admitting the error of their ways,” Engoron wrote.

“Defendants’ refusal to admit error — indeed, to continue it, according to the Independent Monitor — constrains this Court to conclude that they will engage in it going forward unless judicially restrained,” he added.

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