NEW YORK — A New York Supreme Court justice on Tuesday dismissed a Trump campaign lawsuit claiming the New York Times defamed the former president by publishing an opinion piece that accused him of colluding with Russia in the 2016 election. The Trump camp’s lawsuit failed to show that the Gray Lady acted with actual malice — a high legal bar required for successful defamation actions — by publishing the March 2019 piece entitled “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo,” Justice James d’Auguste wrote in a ruling. “In this regard, bias, or ulterior motive does not constitute actual malice,” d’Augus...
Former president Donald Trump's newest attorney, Alina Habba, previously served as general counsel for a parking-garage company.
Habba, who is part of a four-person firm with offices near Trump's Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, this week filed a $100 million lawsuit on the former president's behalf, against the New York Times and his niece, Mary Trump.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Habba, "a low-profile attorney," does not list media law among her specialties. In addition to Bedminster, her Habba Madaio and Associates firm has offices in the same Manhattan building that houses Centerpark, the parking garage company where she once served as general counsel.
"In recent months, court records show, Habba has represented a man suing a New Jersey nursing home for allegedly lax care during the coronavirus pandemic, and a student who sued the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut for not refunding tuition when classes went online-only," the Post reported. "Last month, she sued two Portuguese news outlets for allegedly libeling a New Jersey man by tying him to a far-right Portuguese political party."
Habba says she has never worked for Trump before, and her ties to the former president remain unclear, but she doesn't appear to have contributed money to his campaigns. However, she did represent a Trump-loving former "Real Housewives of New Jersey" contestant in a dispute with Facebook that was featured on right-wing outlet Newsmax.
The Post notes that Habba's lawsuit against the NYT and Mary Trump "reads, at times, like a missive from Trump himself."
"It has his vitriol against the news media, accusing the reporters and Mary Trump of 'maliciously conspiring against' Trump to further 'political vendettas.' It indulges his tendency for self-praise — describing Trump's 'public service to our great country.' And it had his love for huge numbers, in its estimation that the Times's story and Mary Trump's book had caused harm to Trump totaling 'no less than One Hundred Million Dollars.' The suit does not explain how Trump came up with that number."
Habba is also defending Trump in a defamation suit brought by a former "Apprentice" contestant. In that case, she replaced one of Trump's best-known attorneys, Marc Kasowitz.
Kasowitz is one of three more high-profile attorneys who've withdrawn from cases representing Trump and his family in recent weeks — with none offering an explanation.
"That appears to be an unusual amount of turnover in Trump's legal team," the Post reports. "But the former president still has a lot of lawyers — and a lot of legal headaches."
At first, I couldn't believe what the president said.
My question was quite simple — and I anticipated a simple answer. I sought reassurance that whatever else, a peaceful transfer of power after an election — one of the cornerstones of the American experience that has made us unique, a fundamental example of why other nations look up to us — was not up for debate.
Since George Washington gave up the reins of power and retired to his farm, like an American Cincinnatus, the peaceful transfer of power from president to president has been an example the rest of the world respects and has emulated.
We have taken this for granted. Donald Trump treated this tradition as personal toilet paper.
Whatever else happened during the four years that Donald Trump was president, I expected him and the GOP to uphold this American tradition. Hence, one year ago, on Sept. 23, 2020, I asked Donald Trump whether, come "win, lose or draw," he would accept a peaceful transfer of power. Until he came along, I would never have thought to ask a president such a question. I might as well have asked if they intended to continue breathing.
But Trump was different. The time was different. That briefing, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House, came during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The White House press corps had voluntarily reduced our numbers to just 14, in a room that routinely had hosted as many as 110 reporters during Trump's tenure in the White House. Trump, through his press secretary, had routinely skirted this mandate by inviting "guests" from favored news organizations to stand at the back of the room and ask questions. I routinely showed up to counter-program the Trump lackeys.
On the day in question last year, someone with an assigned seat didn't show up for the presidential briefing and rather than allowing a Trump acolyte to take the open seat — which was the last seat in the last row — I took it myself.
Mind you, I did not believe Trump would call on me. He and I had a past. I had sued him to keep my press pass. He'd called me "fake news" and "that Playboy guy," and had told me to sit down and shut up on several occasions. Once he threatened to walk out of a news conference in the Rose Garden if I didn't shut up. I didn't, and he didn't walk out. He took the question while complaining the whole time.
On Sept. 23, 2020, he surprised me again. Not only did he take my question, but he picked me first and I did not hesitate. The only issue on the minds of millions of Americans then was whether or not Trump would respect the results of the upcoming election. What Trump said to me and told the nation that day was the match that lit the fire leading to the "Big Lie," an insurrection, one dead rioter, dead and beaten Capitol Police officers, and a nation that is still divided, sore and angry. More importantly, Trump has never admitted that he lost the election and he threatens our democracy daily.
No one should be surprised.
Everyone should be outraged.
But some, including high-ranking members of the Republican Party, continue to defend Trump and millions of Americans still believe him — no matter what they saw on television, no matter what they were told in news reports and no matter what the reality is.
Kellyanne Conway described this phenomenon as "alternative facts" and that is where millions of Americans, courtesy of a consummate con man, dwell today — in the gray nether regions of a constructed fiction where Trump and his minions believe he won; where taking a de-worming drug designed by scientists for horses is preferable to taking a vaccine designed by scientists for humans and where Trump is universally respected and/or feared by the leaders of the rest of the world — and where only he can save us.
Trump came closer than most of us know to staging a coup, even after he warned us about that last September. Recent news reports and a new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa highlight a six-point plan for Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the 2020 election results.
Other news reports show that Trump and his team knew shortly after the election that there was no basis for challenging its results, and that Sen. Lindsey Graham apparently thought the arguments proposed to challenge the election results amounted to the logic of a "third grader." Still they lied to us.
Now we know what Trump meant when I asked him last year if he would "commit to a peaceful transferal of power after the election." This is what he said:
"We're going to have to see what happens. I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster. . . get rid of the ballots . . . and there won't be a transfer, frankly, they'll be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. You know it . . ."
"No I don't," I replied.
Trump's traitorous, convoluted and muddy thinking, his flash over substance, his obfuscation of facts and his total disregard for the truth and decency was horrifying then and has largely overwhelmed American politics now.
There are those so convinced that Trump got screwed in the 2020 election that they'll defend the treasonous actions of the insurrectionists on Jan. 6, while at the same time denying that Trump whipped them into a frenzy or that they were in a frenzy at all. With the same breath, there are those who will say the insurrection was a peaceful protest, an FBI, Black Lives Matter or antifa violent action, that it did not occur or was justified or — shudder — was even patriotic. The actions of that day were the actions of domestic terrorists. I was there. I witnessed it.
Look where we are now.
Division. Denial of facts. It was all there in the statement Trump made. He provided the roadmap to an insurrection on Sept. 23, 2020. People followed it. People died.
A year later, the United States looks even more lost than it was a year ago.
Donald Trump doesn't care. He wants to bring it all down and is trying to run a shadow presidency as he ridicules everything Joe Biden does.
Make no mistake. Biden has his faults. His handling of the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Haitian problem on the border and the alliance with Australia and the U.K., which has created major friction with France, are all wounds that have been self-inflicted and damaging.
But Biden respects the Constitution, and anyone with a modicum of intelligence can see he is trying to work for all of us, not just himself. He has rallied to get Congress and the country to unify — working hard to get a bipartisan infrastructure package passed and constantly urging Americans to come together as he pushes hard for voting rights and increased taxes on the rich.
Trump never did that and never could. A year after he fanned the flame of insurrection in a White House briefing, we can clearly see the consequences of those actions. The threat of a coup was real — spurred by Trump's disregard for truth, an obsession with being branded a loser and a narcissistic view of the universe that boils down to this: For Donald Trump, we don't matter. Only his own desires matter.
As Kurt Bardella wrote recently in USA Today, "We cannot let our guard down. … Today's GOP has patterned itself after extreme and radical factions. Despots who are intent on normalizing violence to achieve their political objectives."
These actions in the GOP are rooted in Donald Trump's words. After he became president, Trump found levers to pull that sated his twisted needs for self-glory and adulation. He is addicted to that. His putrid, warped sense of self cannot permit him to let go and he continues to try and pull us down into the toilet with him.
In the 1993 western "Tombstone," Doc Holliday (played by Val Kilmer) is asked what makes a man like Johnny Ringo, the film's villain. "A man like Ringo has got a great big hole right in the middle of him," he says. "He can never kill enough or steal enough or inflict enough pain to ever fill it."
Like Johnny Ringo, Donald Trump seeks revenge — for being born.
A year after he told us, in response to my question about the election, how he would bend reality to suit his needs, he still tries. Since he has had some success in retaining his base (and more importantly for him, in raising money), there are other Republicans following his act.
United we stand. Divided we fall. Trump is the king of division. For the rest of us to stand he must fall. He must be prosecuted. He must be culled from the body politic.
Only then can we possibly hope to address "Trumpism."
Trump showed us his hand a year ago. Time is long overdue to show him the back of ours.
Speaking to a group of supporters of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Justice Amy Coney Barrett tried to claim that the Supreme Court isn't staffed with a slew of partisan hacks. Many found it to be a strange claim since McConnell mocked Democrats when Coney Barrett was approved by GOP members.
McConnell: “It was a wonderful birthday present for Hillary Clinton to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Cou… https://t.co/codRWKeWnf— The Daily Wire (@The Daily Wire) 1604003384.0
Writing for the Washington Post on Thursday, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin explained that no one is buying the claim. She cited "a raft of recent polls" showing that the High Court lost its luster with the public.
"Most dramatically, a Marquette University Law School poll finds the court's approval dropping from 66 percent a year ago (and 60 percent as recently as July) to 49 percent," wrote Rubin. "In the wake of the court's decision to unabashedly rewrite Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and to duck ruling on the Texas abortion bounty law, Democratic support plunged from 59 percent in July to 37 percent."
She explained that the public's opinion of political bias on the court goes up when people like Barrett speak at political events. It was once unheard of for a Supreme Court Justice to speak publicly, much less do television interviews or take paid speaking engagements.
"It's a practice worth restoring," she argued, "lest the public perceive justices as running a self-serving campaign to justify their right to a lifetime appointment with which to carry out their partisan mandates."
She explained that it isn't even because voters are angry about the absurd Texas law and that the court didn't strike it down. It's that "once the facade of impartiality and nonpartisanship is shattered, it is nearly impossible to get back."
After all, it long ago that a nominee raged, "This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups!"
So, if the court is bothered by appearing to be a political entity, they need only look in a mirror, she explained.
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