Stories Chosen For You
House Republicans have been plotting investigations of Joe Biden and his family if they retake the majority this fall, but those plans have been complicated by the search warrant executed at Donald Trump's private residence.
The FBI searched Mar-a-Lago as part of an investigation into alleged mishandling of classified documents, and while GOP lawmakers have raced to Trump's defense and attacked the Department of Justice as unfairly partisan -- some Republicans expressed concern about the fallout among the conservative base, reported Politico.
“The base has lost its mind," said one senior House Republican. "If Trump decides to call them to arms, then I think he could get another Jan. 6."
Republicans have personalized the law enforcement move against Trump by suggesting the same actions could be taken against anyone -- which isn't inaccurate -- and some have seen that as an incitement to violence.
"It’s very clear that Republicans have recognized that they can no longer win elections with votes," said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), "and so they’re leaning in hard to try to win elections with violence, and they are fomenting that violence right now."
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) warned attorney general Merrick Garland to prepare to be targeted for scrutiny over the search if Republicans take back the majority, and a former House Republican staff attorney told The Daily Beast that Biden's Justice Department has "really infuriated" the GOP by remaining silent on the search.
“It makes Republicans want to dig in even more to the administration,” said Aaron Cutler, the former House GOP staff attorney.
But even Republicans admit that aggressively investigating Biden and his family may carry political risks, and Cutler expressed hope that McCarthy could "ensure the conference is measured and doesn’t send out subpoenas willy-nilly."
“I don’t think leadership wants to see Hunter Biden alone on a witness panel getting beaten up for hours on end,” Cutler said. “The Benghazi example, I think folks would understand that’s not really what the American public wants to see.”
Democrats, however, doubt that the increasingly extreme Republican Party could exercise such restraint, especially if retribution against Trump's enemies is their primary legislative goal.
“It’d be a sh*tshow on steroids,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) told The Daily Beast.
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he refused to answer questions while appearing in a New York attorney general's civil probe into alleged fraud at the Trump Organization.
According to a statement posted to his social media site, Trump asserted his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination when speaking under oath.
"I once asked, 'If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?' Now I know the answer to that question," Trump said in the statement.
"I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution," Trump added.
He went on to repeat claims of a "witch hunt" and spent several paragraphs issuing an attack against the attorney general, Letitia James, who, he said, is only attacking him because of politics.
Trump is being investigated over allegations that he artificially inflated the size and value of his properties, which resulted in the value of properties being greater than the actual value when applying for additional capital or bank loans.
When he applied for tax breaks, documents obtained by reporter David Fahrenthold showed that he deflated the size of properties and buildings from the bank loans. At the same time, many members of Trump's staff were given gifts like cars, and homes in Trump Tower or family members were hired or given perks.
“You see the mob takes the Fifth,” he once said publicly. “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”
Donald Trump on Wednesday declined to answer questions under oath in New York over alleged fraud at his family business, as legal pressures pile up for the former president whose house was raided by the FBI just two days ago.
Trump said he had "no choice" but to invoke the fifth amendment, which allows individuals to remain silent to protect against self-incrimination under questioning.
In a statement Trump said "I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution," saying he took the advice from his legal counsel.
"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," Trump said.
"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."
Trump earlier said on social media he was in the offices of New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose investigation is one of several active probes into the brash billionaire's business practices and other actions.
The former president took to his Truth Social platform to launch a barrage of attacks on James, branding her a "racist" attorney general who is "trying to 'get Trump.'"
James is conducting "a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. history!" Trump wrote. "My great company, and myself, are being attacked from all sides. Banana Republic!"
James suspects the Trump Organization fraudulently overstated the value of real estate properties when applying for bank loans, while understating them with the tax authorities in order to pay less in taxes.
Trump and his eldest children, Donald Jr and Ivanka, had been due to start testifying under oath in July but the depositions were postponed due to the death of the former president's first wife.
Another White House run?
The Trumps have denied any wrongdoing, and the former Republican leader has charged that the probe is politically motivated.
If James, an African-American Democrat, finds any evidence of financial misconduct, she can sue the Trump Organization for damages but can not file criminal charges, as it is a civil investigation.
Trump's son Eric hit out at James in a tweet Wednesday, saying his father was sitting "for a deposition in front of the most corrupt Attorney General in the United States."
Donald Trump on Wednesday also posted video clips of James verbally attacking Trump, calling him an "illegitimate president" and vowing a lawsuit.
James's probe is one of several legal battles in which Trump is embroiled, threatening to complicate any bid for another run for the White House in 2024.
The deposition comes on the heels of a Federal Bureau of Investigation search on Trump's Florida residence in an escalation of legal probes into the 45th president that has set off a political firestorm.
The FBI, which is led by Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee, declined to provide a reason for the raid.
But US media outlets said agents were conducting a court-authorized search related to the potential mishandling of classified documents that had been sent to Mar-a-Lago after Trump left the White House in January 2021.
Trump predictably voiced outrage over the search, dubbing it "weaponization of the justice system."
At the White House, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden did not have any advance notice about the raid and respected the independence of the Justice Department.
Since leaving office, Trump has remained the country's most divisive figure, continuing to sow falsehoods that he actually won the 2020 vote.
He also has faced intense legal scrutiny for his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and over the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.
© 2022 AFP