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Trump lawyers seek mistrial in civil fraud case

Former president Donald Trump exited New York State Supreme Court in New York last week.Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg

NEW YORK — Lawyers for Donald Trump on Wednesday called for a mistrial in the civil fraud case against him in New York, arguing that the judge and his law clerk were politically biased against him.

The long-shot legal effort, filed in New York State Supreme Court, comes after the judge, Arthur Engoron, placed separate gag orders on the Republican former president and his lawyers, barring them from commenting on his court staff.

Trump and his allies have made a habit of attacking the judge and his law clerk, Allison Greenfield, and the former president has twice violated the order, incurring $15,000 in fines. In the filing, Trump’s lawyers refer to the gag orders as “unconstitutional.”

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“The evidence of apparent and actual bias is tangible and overwhelming,” Trump’s lawyers write. “Such evidence, coupled with an unprecedented departure from standard judicial procedure, has tainted these proceedings and a mistrial is warranted.”

The filing will initially be decided by Engoron, who is expected to reject it. Trump’s lawyers will likely appeal.

As evidence, Trump’s lawyers — Alina Habba, Clifford Robert, and Christopher Kise — noted that Engoron, a Democrat, included articles about the case in a high school alumni newsletter. They also took issue with political donations that Greenfield had made over the past several years, saying that they violated judicial ethics rules. In fact, Greenfield, also a Democrat, has been campaigning for a judgeship, and the rules allow candidates to make certain donations, such as purchasing tickets to political functions.

In their filing, Trump’s lawyers attribute Engoron’s decisions about the case, many of which have been unfavorable to them, to political bias. The case, brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, accuses Trump and his company of manipulating annual financial statements to receive favorable treatment from banks and insurers.

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In a pretrial ruling, Engoron determined that the statements were fraudulent; the trial will determine any punishments the former president may face.

“Donald Trump is trying to dismiss the truth and the facts, but the numbers and evidence don’t lie,” a spokesperson for James said in a statement. “Donald Trump is now being held accountable for the years of fraud he committed.”

New York Times

Manchin says he’s considering a presidential run

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin said he is considering launching a presidential campaign, moving closer toward a bid that could shake up the 2024 election.

“I will do anything I can to help my country, and you’re saying, ‘Does that mean you would consider it?’ Absolutely,” Manchin, a Democrat, said in an interview with NBC Wednesday.

The comments are the strongest signal Manchin has sent that he could mount an independent presidential run, which would likely pull support from President Biden’s base of voters.

Manchin is set go on a cross-country tour to listen to Americans’ concerns and said he would have to figure out if there is voter appetite for a moderate candidate before deciding whether to run. He announced last week he won’t seek reelection to the Senate.

The senator is a Democrat representing a state where former president Donald Trump beat Biden by nearly 40 percentage points in 2020. Manchin’s centrist politics would likely mean he could pull support from moderate Democrats, Republicans dissatisfied with their likely nominee, Trump, and independents.

Manchin is also involved with the No Labels, a centrist policy group that is laying the groundwork for a possible third-party campaign for president. Democrats have criticized the No Labels effort, saying it would improve Trump’s chances of winning the White House in 2024.

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“I’m totally, absolutely scared to death that Donald Trump would become president again,” Manchin said in the interview. “I think we will lose democracy as we know it.”

A Manchin candidacy could capitalize on the growing number of “double haters” — voters who are dissatisfied with both Biden and Trump — which now stands at 19 percent of the electorate in swing states, according to the Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll released last week.

Bloomberg News

N.J. first lady to run for US Senate

New Jersey’s first lady, Tammy Snyder Murphy, said she will run for the US Senate seat now held by embattled Democrat Robert Menendez.

Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs banker who’s been married to Democratic Governor Phil Murphy for 30 years, announced her intention to run in 2024 in a video posted on YouTube. She has never held public office.

“Right now, Washington is filled with too many people more interested in getting rich or getting on camera than getting things done for you,” she said in the video, where she discusses maternal mortality and climate change. “We have big complicated issues and solving them won’t be easy, but you know what? Nothing worth doing ever is.”

The announcement is the latest sign state politicians have abandoned Menendez, who was indicted on bribery charges in New York federal court in September. Phil Murphy asked the state’s senior senator to resign hours after his indictment, a call later echoed by House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Cory Booker, New Jersey’s other senator.

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While Menendez has resisted those calls and remained mum on whether he’ll run for reelection next year, Democrats have been lining up to take his place.

Three-term US Representative Andy Kim, who represents Trenton and central New Jersey, has announced a bid. And Representative Donald Norcross of Camden said last month he wouldn’t rule out running for the seat.

Bloomberg News

Hunter Biden lawyers seek to subpoena Trump

Lawyers for Hunter Biden have asked a federal court in Delaware to approve subpoenas for former president Donald Trump, his former attorney general William P. Barr, and other former senior Justice Department officials, as Biden fights gun charges by seeking to show the probe was politically motivated.

In court papers filed Wednesday, Biden’s legal team sought permission to issue the subpoenas to try to gather more information about “certain instances that appear to suggest incessant, improper, and partisan pressure applied by then President Trump to” Barr, as well as two of his former top deputies, Jeffrey Rosen and Richard Donoghue.

In a book, Barr has described getting angry at Trump for pressing him over the status of the Hunter Biden investigation, which was opened in 2018.

The president’s son has pleaded not guilty to three felony charges related to a gun purchase — a case that could end up going to trial amid President Biden’s 2024 campaign for a second term. Trump is the leading candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination.

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Federal prosecutors have accused the younger Biden in a four-page indictment of making two false statements in 2018 when he completed paperwork to purchase a gun. Biden asserted on the form that he was not addicted to or using illegal drugs, the indictment says, ‘’when in fact, as he knew, that statement was false and fictitious.’’ He is also charged with unlawfully possessing the gun.

Washington Post

Vindman, who raised alarms on Trump, to run for Congress

Yevgeny “Eugene” Vindman, a retired Army colonel who along with his twin brother raised alarms about President Donald Trump’s actions toward Ukraine, plans to announce that he will run for Congress in Virginia’s 7th District, where Representative Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat, has declined to seek another term to run for governor instead.

Vindman, 48, is the first Democrat to announce a campaign to succeed Spanberger, whose decision to seek statewide office opens up a competitive seat in the Washington exurbs that is likely to be eyed by Republicans as a pickup opportunity — and by some state and local Democrats as a chance to move to Congress.

A career military officer who went from fighting in Iraq to serving in the White House as a national security adviser, Vindman acknowledged that he is a newcomer to Virginia politics who is better known for his time in Washington.

Vindman emerged into the national spotlight when he reported a claim from his colleague and twin brother, Alexander, about a call in which Trump implored Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open a corruption investigation of Joe Biden.

As a senior ethics official at the National Security Council, Yevgeny Vindman brought the report to his superiors. When Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman was later subpoenaed and then testified before a House panel during the first impeachment inquiry into Trump, he was never far off. The identical twins were later dismissed together from their jobs at the National Security Council following the inquiry.

Washington Post