Trump tells Jersey Shore crowd he’s being forced to endure ‘Biden show trial’ in hush money case

Trump tells Jersey Shore crowd he’s being forced to endure ‘Biden show trial’ in hush money case
Supporters of Republican presidential candidate former US President Donald Trump hold up signs as they wait for the start of a campaign rally on Wildwood Beach on May 11, 2024 in Wildwood, New Jersey. (AFP)
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Updated 12 May 2024
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Trump tells Jersey Shore crowd he’s being forced to endure ‘Biden show trial’ in hush money case

Trump tells Jersey Shore crowd he’s being forced to endure ‘Biden show trial’ in hush money case
  • The former president’s extraordinary legal woes, which include three other unrelated criminal cases, have emerged as a central issue in the campaign

WILDWOOD, N.J.: Sandwiched between his appearances in court, Donald Trump headed on Saturday to the Jersey Shore, where he repeatedly blamed President Joe Biden for the criminal charges he’s facing as the presumptive nominees prepare to face off in the November election and called his New York hush money case “a Biden show trial.”
Blasting the Democratic president “a total moron,” Trump before a crowd of tens of thousands repeatedly characterized the cases against him as politically motivated and timed to harm his ability to campaign.
“He’s a fool. He’s not a smart man,” Trump said of Biden. “I talk about him differently now because now the gloves are off.”
Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, drew what his team called a “mega crowd” to a Saturday evening rally in the southern New Jersey resort town of Wildwood, 150 miles (241 kilometers) south of the New York City courthouse where he has been forced to spend most weekdays sitting silently through his felony hush money trial.
Lisa Fagan, spokesperson for the city of Wildwood, told The Associated Press that she estimated a crowd of between 80,000 and 100,000 attendees, based off her own observations on the scene Saturday, having seen “dozens” of other events in the same space.
Trump was joined on stage by several high-level endorsers including North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor, who is still listed as a registered sex offender after pleading guilty in New York in 2011 to misdemeanor criminal charges of sexual misconduct and patronizing an underage prostitute.
The beachfront gathering, described by Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., as the largest political gathering in state history, was designed to serve as a show of force at a critical moment for Trump, who is facing dozens of felony charges in four separate criminal cases with the election less than six months away.
Hours before he was scheduled to take the stage, thousands of Trump loyalists donning “Never Surrender” T-shirts and red “Make America Great Again” hats crowded onto the sand between the boardwalk and carnival rides to greet the former Republican president.
“The everyday American people are 100 percent behind him,” said Doreen O’Neill, a 62-year-old nurse from Philadelphia.
“They have to cheat and smear him and humiliate him in that courtroom every single day,” O’Neill said. “This country is going to go insane if they steal the election again.”
Trump’s extraordinary legal woes, which include three other unrelated criminal cases, have emerged as a central issue in the campaign.
Trump has repeatedly accused the Biden administration and Democratic officials in New York of using the legal system to block his return to the White House. Prosecutors allege the former president broke the law to conceal an affair with a porn actor that would have hurt his first presidential bid.
On Saturday, Trump posited that even those whom he accuses of politically motivated prosecutions didn’t bring every case they could have, pointing to the boosts his campaign has sustained with each wave of charges.
“I heard they were going to do a couple of other things and they said from Washington ... ‘we’re indicting him into the White House,’” Trump said. “They said, ‘Don’t do it.’”
While Trump seized on his legal woes Saturday, a judge’s gag order — and the threat of jail — limit Trump’s ability to comment publicly on witnesses, jurors and some others connected to the New York trial, which is expected to consume much of the month. The judge in the case already has fined Trump $9,000 for violating the order and warned that jail could follow if he doesn’t comply.
The order doesn’t include references to Judge Juan M. Merchan, whom Trump called “highly conflicted” or District Attorney Alvin Bragg, both of whom Trump said are “doing the bidding for crooked Joe Biden.”
Trump’s responsibilities as a defendant have limited his ability to win over voters on the campaign trail.
He spent last week’s off-day from court in the general election battlegrounds of Wisconsin and Michigan. And he was campaigning with tens of thousands of voters Saturday in New Jersey, a reliably Democratic state. Parts of New Jersey have deep-red enclaves and the southern shoreline in particular draws tourists and summer homeowners from neighboring Pennsylvania, a key swing state.
Biden, meanwhile, opened his weekend with a series of fundraising events on the West Coast.
He avoided Trump’s legal challenges — as he has done consistently — while addressing donors in Seattle. Instead, the Democratic president focused on Trump’s recent interview with Time magazine in which the Republican former president said states should be left to determine whether to prosecute women for abortions or to monitor their pregnancies.
Saturday’s visit to the New Jersey Shore resort wasn’t Trump’s first.
While president, Trump held a rally there in January 2020 to thank Van Drew, the New Jersey congressman who had just left the Democratic Party for the GOP as a rebuke for the former president’s first impeachment.
Trump drew a crowd at the time that lined the streets, filled bars and supported numerous vendors in what is usually a sleepy city in the winter. This time, the summer season is around the corner for the resort known for its wide beaches and boardwalk games and shops.
Wildwood is in New Jersey’s 2nd District, which Van Drew has represented for three terms and covers all or part of six counties in southern New Jersey. It went for Trump in 2016 and again in 2020 after earlier backing Barack Obama.
Trump is set to return to the courtroom next week, when key prosecution witness Michael Cohen, Trump’s fixer-turned-foe, is expected to take the witness stand. Last week, he was visibly angry at times as he was forced to sit through testimony from former porn actor Stormy Daniels, who described a sexual encounter with the former president in shocking detail.
Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying internal Trump Organization business records. The charges stem from paperwork such as invoices and checks that were deemed legal expenses in company records. Prosecutors say those payments largely were reimbursements to Cohen, Trump’s attorney, who paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet.
The prosecution could rest its case by the end of the week. It’s unclear if Trump himself will take the stand when the defense presents its case.
Back on the Jersey Shore, 65-year-old Pat Day said she felt some urgency to see Trump in person on Saturday.
“We want to see Trump before they take him out,” said Day, who was visiting from the Florida Keys. “I’m worried. They’re going to do everything they can so he doesn’t get elected again.”


Chinese lunar probe returns to Earth with world’s first samples from far side of moon

Chinese lunar probe returns to Earth with world’s first samples from far side of moon
Updated 25 June 2024
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Chinese lunar probe returns to Earth with world’s first samples from far side of moon

Chinese lunar probe returns to Earth with world’s first samples from far side of moon
  • Chinese scientists anticipate returned samples will include 2.5-million-year-old volcanic rock, other material
  • Moon program is part of growing rivalry with US, still leader in space exploration, and others including Japan, India

BEIJING: China’s Chang’e 6 probe returned on Earth on Tuesday with rock and soil samples from the little-explored far side of the moon in a global first.

The probe landed in northern China on Tuesday afternoon in the Inner Mongolian region.

“I now declare that the Chang’e 6 Lunar Exploration Mission achieved complete success,” Zhang Kejian, Director of the China National Space Administration said shortly in a televised news conference after the landing.

Chinese scientists anticipate the returned samples will include 2.5 million-year-old volcanic rock and other material that scientists hope will answer questions about geographic differences on the moon’s two sides.

The near side is what is seen from Earth, and the far side faces outer space. The far side is also known to have mountains and impact craters, contrasting with the relatively flat expanses visible on the near side.

While past US and Soviet missions have collected samples from the moon’s near side, the Chinese mission was the first that has collected samples from the far side.

The moon program is part of a growing rivalry with the US — still the leader in space exploration — and others, including Japan and India. China has put its own space station in orbit and regularly sends crews there.

China’s leader Xi Jinping sent a message of congratulations to the Chang’e team, saying that it was a “landmark achievement in our country’s efforts at becoming a space and technological power.”

The probe left earth on May 3, and its journey lasted 53 days. The probe has drilled into the core and scooped rocks from the surface.

The samples “are expected to answer one of the most fundamental scientific questions in lunar science research: what geologic activity is responsible for the differences between the two sides?” said Zongyu Yue, a geologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in a statement issued in the Innovation Monday, a journal published in partnership with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

China in recent years has launched multiple successful missions to the moon, collecting samples from the moon’s near side with the Chang’e 5 probe previously.

They are also hoping that the probe will return with material that bear traces of meteorite strikes from the moon’s past. With the successful reentry of the probe, scientists will begin studying the samples.


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stops in Bangkok on his way to a US court and later freedom

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stops in Bangkok on his way to a US court and later freedom
Updated 25 June 2024
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stops in Bangkok on his way to a US court and later freedom

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stops in Bangkok on his way to a US court and later freedom

BANGKOK: A plane believed to be carrying Julian Assange landed Tuesday in Bangkok, as the WikiLeak founder was on his way to enter a plea deal with the US government that will free him and resolve the legal case that spanned years and continents over the publication of a trove of classified documents.
Chartered flight VJT199 landed after noon at Don Mueang International Airport, north of the Thai capital. It was unclear if the plane was only refueling or how Assange will continue traveling to Saipan, the capital of the Northern Mariana Islands, a US commonwealth in the Western Pacific, where he will appear in court Wednesday morning local time.
He’s expected to plead guilty to an Espionage Act charge of conspiring to unlawfully obtain and disseminate classified national defense information, according to the US Justice Department in a letter filed in court.
Assange is expected to return to his home country of Australia after his plea and sentencing. The hearing is taking place in Saipan because of Assange’s opposition to traveling to the continental US and the court’s proximity to Australia, prosecutors said.
The guilty plea, which must be approved by a judge, brings an abrupt conclusion to a criminal case of international intrigue and to the US government’s years-long pursuit of a publisher whose hugely popular secret-sharing website made him a cause célèbre among many press freedom advocates who said he acted as a journalist to expose US military wrongdoing. Investigators, by contrast, have repeatedly asserted that his actions broke laws meant to protect sensitive information and put the country’s national security at risk.
Attorneys for Assange haven’t responded to requests for comment.
In a statement posted on X, WikiLeaks said Assange boarded a plane and departed Monday after leaving the British prison where he has spent the last five years. WikiLeaks applauded the announcement of the deal, saying it was grateful for “all who stood by us, fought for us, and remained utterly committed in the fight for his freedom.”
“WikiLeaks published groundbreaking stories of government corruption and human rights abuses, holding the powerful accountable for their actions. As editor-in-chief, Julian paid severely for these principles, and for the people’s right to know,” WikiLeaks said.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who has been lobbying for the United States to end its prosecution of Assange, told Parliament that an Australian envoy had flown with Assange from London.
“Regardless of the views that people have about Mr. Assange’s activities, the case has dragged on for too long. There’s nothing to be gained by his continued incarceration and we want him brought home to Australia,” Albanese added.
The deal ensures Assange will admit guilt while also sparing him from additional prison time. He had spent years hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after Swedish authorities sought his arrest on rape allegations before being locked up in the United Kingdom.
Assange is expected to be sentenced to the five years he has already spent in the British prison while fighting extradition to the US to face charges, a process that has played out in a series of hearings in London. Last month, he won the right to appeal an extradition order after his lawyers argued that the US government provided “blatantly inadequate” assurances that he would have the same free speech protections as an American citizen if extradited from Britain.
Assange has been heralded by many around the world as a hero who brought to light military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among the files published by WikiLeaks was a video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack by American forces in Baghdad that killed 11 people, including two Reuters journalists.
But his reputation was also tarnished by rape allegations, which he has denied.
The Justice Department’s indictment unsealed in 2019 accused Assange of encouraging and helping US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal diplomatic cables and military files that WikiLeaks published in 2010. Prosecutors had accused Assange of damaging national security by publishing documents that harmed the US and its allies and aided its adversaries.
Prosecutors said in a charging document filed in connection with the plea agreement that Assange conspired with Manning to receive and obtain documents, notes and other writings related to the national defense and to “willfully communicate” those records. The document takes care to note that Assange was “not a United States citizen, did not possess a US security clearance, and did not have authorization to possess, access, or control documents, writings, or notes relating to the national defense of the United States, including classified information.”
The case was lambasted by press advocates and Assange supporters. Federal prosecutors defended it as targeting conduct that went way beyond that of a journalist gathering information, amounting to an attempt to solicit, steal and indiscriminately publish classified government documents.
The plea agreement comes months after President Joe Biden said he was considering a request from Australia to drop the US push to prosecute Assange. The White House was not involved in the decision to resolve Assange’s case, according to a White House official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Assange made headlines in 2016 after his website published Democratic emails that prosecutors say were stolen by Russian intelligence operatives. He was never charged in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, but the inquiry laid bare in stark detail the role that the hacking operation played in interfering in that year’s election on behalf of then-Republican candidate Donald Trump.
During the Obama administration, Justice Department officials mulled charges for Assange but were unsure a case would hold up in court and were concerned it could be hard to justify prosecuting him for acts similar to those of a conventional journalist.
The posture changed in the Trump administration, however, with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2017 calling Assange’s arrest a priority.
Assange’s family and supporters have said his physical and mental health have suffered during more than a decade of legal battles.
Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012 and was granted political asylum after courts in England ruled he should be extradited to Sweden as part of a rape investigation in the Scandinavian country. He was arrested by British police after Ecuador’s government withdrew his asylum status in 2019 and then jailed for skipping bail when he first took shelter inside the embassy.
Although Sweden eventually dropped its sex crimes investigation because so much time had elapsed, Assange had remained in London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison during the extradition battle with the US


Ukraine drone attacks on Russia’s Belgorod region kill one, injure four, governor says

Ukraine drone attacks on Russia’s Belgorod region kill one, injure four, governor says
Updated 25 June 2024
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Ukraine drone attacks on Russia’s Belgorod region kill one, injure four, governor says

Ukraine drone attacks on Russia’s Belgorod region kill one, injure four, governor says
  • At least six of the drones were destroyed over the Yakovlevsky district in the Belgorod region
  • An elderly woman died in a village near the Belgorod city

An elderly woman was killed, four people injured and scores of buildings damaged in multiple air attacks by Ukraine on the Belgorod region, the governor of the southern Russian region that borders Ukraine said on Tuesday.
The Russian defense ministry said that its air defense systems destroyed a total of 29 Ukraine-launched drones over the region’s territory.
An elderly woman died in a village near the Belgorod city, which is the administrative center of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of the region said on the Telegram messaging app.
At least six of the drones were destroyed over the Yakovlevsky district in the Belgorod region, Glakdov said. Two people were injured there with shrapnel wounds, he added.
Another person was injured after a drone was downed over the city of Belgorod, and another woman was injured in one of the region’s villages, Gladkov said.
He said that scores of buildings and cars across the region were damaged.
Reuters could not independently verify the reports. There was no immediate comment from Ukraine. Both sides deny targeting civilians in the war, which Russia started with a full-scale invasion on its smaller neighbor in 2022.
Ukraine says that its attacks on Russia’s military, transport and energy infrastructure undermine Moscow’s overall war efforts and are in response to Russia’s relentless attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure.


‘Julian Assange is free’, has left Britain — WikiLeaks

‘Julian Assange is free’, has left Britain — WikiLeaks
Updated 25 June 2024
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‘Julian Assange is free’, has left Britain — WikiLeaks

‘Julian Assange is free’, has left Britain — WikiLeaks
  • Assange, accused of divulging US military secrets, was due in London court next month after winning appeal against extradition
  • Was initially detained for skipping bail and held in custody while the US extradition request wound its way through court

LONDON: Julian Assange’s wife Stella on Tuesday thanked campaigners for their support as the WikiLeaks founder was released after five years in British custody.
“Julian is free!!!!” she wrote on the social media platform X following confirmation that he had left Belmarsh high-security prison in southeast London.
“Words cannot express our immense gratitude” to everyone who had backed the global push for his release, she added.
Stella Assange met the Australian publisher while he was holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges that were later dropped.

A filing from the U.S. Department of Justice to the U.S. District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands describes a plea deal regarding Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, in this image obtained by Reuters on June 24, 2024. (REUTERS)

Assange, accused of divulging US military secrets related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, had been due back in court in London next month after winning an appeal against extradition.
But WikiLeaks said in a statement: “Julian Assange is free. He left Belmarsh maximum security prison on the morning of June 24, after having spent 1,901 days there.
“He was granted bail by the High Court in London and was released at Stansted airport during the afternoon, where he boarded a plane and departed the UK.”
The media freedom group said sustained campaigning, from grassroots supporters to political leaders and the United Nations, “created the space for a long period of negotiations with the US Department of Justice,” leading to a deal.
The organization said the deal “has not yet been formally finalized.”
Assange was initially detained for skipping bail in relation to the Swedish case and held in custody while the US extradition request wound its way through court.
He will now be reunited with his wife, whom he married at a ceremony in the prison, and their two young children, it added.
“WikiLeaks published ground-breaking stories of government corruption and human rights abuses, holding the powerful accountable for their actions,” the statement read.
“As editor-in-chief, Julian paid severely for these principles, and for the people’s right to know.
“As he returns to Australia, we thank all who stood by us, fought for us, and remained utterly committed in the fight for his freedom. Julian’s freedom is our freedom.”


‘Julian Assange is free’, has left Britain: WikiLeaks

‘Julian Assange is free’, has left Britain: WikiLeaks
Updated 25 June 2024
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‘Julian Assange is free’, has left Britain: WikiLeaks

‘Julian Assange is free’, has left Britain: WikiLeaks
  • The plea agreement comes months after President Joe Biden said he was considering a request from Australia to drop the US push to prosecute Assange

LONDON: Julian Assange’s wife Stella on Tuesday thanked campaigners for their support as the WikiLeaks founder was released after five years in British custody.
“Julian is free!!!!” she wrote on the social media platform X following confirmation that he had left Belmarsh high-security prison in southeast London.
“Words cannot express our immense gratitude” to everyone who had backed the global push for his release, she added.
Stella Assange met the Australian publisher while he was holed up in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges that were later dropped.

A filing from the U.S. Department of Justice to the U.S. District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands describes a plea deal regarding Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, in this image obtained by Reuters on June 24, 2024. (REUTERS)

Assange, accused of divulging US military secrets related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, had been due back in court in London next month after winning an appeal against extradition.
But WikiLeaks said in a statement: “Julian Assange is free. He left Belmarsh maximum security prison on the morning of June 24, after having spent 1,901 days there.
“He was granted bail by the High Court in London and was released at Stansted airport during the afternoon, where he boarded a plane and departed the UK.”
The media freedom group said sustained campaigning, from grassroots supporters to political leaders and the United Nations, “created the space for a long period of negotiations with the US Department of Justice,” leading to a deal.
The organization said the deal “has not yet been formally finalized.”
Assange was initially detained for skipping bail in relation to the Swedish case and held in custody while the US extradition request wound its way through court.
He will now be reunited with his wife, whom he married at a ceremony in the prison, and their two young children, it added.
“WikiLeaks published ground-breaking stories of government corruption and human rights abuses, holding the powerful accountable for their actions,” the statement read.
“As editor-in-chief, Julian paid severely for these principles, and for the people’s right to know.
“As he returns to Australia, we thank all who stood by us, fought for us, and remained utterly committed in the fight for his freedom. Julian’s freedom is our freedom.”