Here’s what you should know about Donald Trump’s conviction in his hush money trial

Here’s what you should know about Donald Trump’s conviction in his hush money trial
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The verdict sheet in the hush money trial of former President Donald Trump is photographed. (AP Photo)
Here’s what you should know about Donald Trump’s conviction in his hush money trial
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The verdict sheet in the hush money trial of former President Donald Trump is photographed. (AP Photo)
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Updated 31 May 2024
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Here’s what you should know about Donald Trump’s conviction in his hush money trial

Here’s what you should know about Donald Trump’s conviction in his hush money trial
  • Judge Juan M. Merchan set sentencing for July 11, just days before Republicans are set to formally nominate him for president
  • After Trump is sentenced, he can challenge his conviction in an appellate division of the state’s trial court and possibly, the state’s highest court

NEW YORK: Donald Trump’s conviction on 34 felony counts marks the end of the former president’s historic hush money trial but the fight over the case is far from over.
Now comes the sentencing and the prospect of a prison sentence. A lengthy appellate process. And all the while, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee still has to deal with three more criminal cases and a campaign that could see him return to the White House.
The Manhattan jury found Trump guilty of falsifying business records after more than nine hours of deliberations over two days in the case stemming from a hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels during his 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump angrily denounced the trial as a “disgrace,” telling reporters he’s an “innocent man.”
Some key takeaways from the jury’s decision:
Prison time?
The big question now is whether Trump could go to prison. The answer is uncertain. Judge Juan M. Merchan set sentencing for July 11, just days before Republicans are set to formally nominate him for president.
The charge of falsifying business records is a Class E felony in New York, the lowest tier of felony charges in the state. It is punishable by up to four years in prison, though the punishment would ultimately be up to the judge and there’s no guarantee he would give Trump time bars.
It’s unclear to what extent the judge may factor in the political and logistical complexities of jailing a former president who is running to reclaim the White House. Other punishments could include a fine or probation. And it’s possible the judge would allow Trump to avoid serving any punishment until after he exhausts his appeals.
The conviction doesn’t also bar Trump from continuing his campaign. Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump, who serves as co-chair of the Republican National Committee, said in a Fox News Channel interview on Thursday that if Trump is convicted and sentenced to home confinement, he would do virtual rallies and campaign events.
“We’ll have to play the hand that we’re dealt,” she said, according to an interview transcript.
Avenues for appeal

After Trump is sentenced, he can challenge his conviction in an appellate division of the state’s trial court and possibly, the state’s highest court. Trump’s lawyers have already been laying the groundwork for appeals with objections to the charges and rulings at trial.
The defense has accused the judge of bias, citing his daughter’s work heading a firm whose clients have included President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and other Democrats. The judge refused the defense’s request to remove himself from the case, saying he was certain of his “ability to be fair and impartial.”
Trump’s lawyers may also raise on appeal the judge’s ruling limiting the testimony of a potential defense expert witness. The defense wanted to call Bradley Smith, a Republican law professor who served on the Federal Election Commission, to rebut the prosecution’s contention that the hush money payments amounted to campaign-finance violations.
But the defense ended up not having him testify after the judge ruled he could give general background on the FEC but can’t interpret how federal campaign finance laws apply to the facts of Trump’s case or opine on whether Trump’s alleged actions violate those laws. There are often guardrails around expert testimony on legal matters, on the basis that it’s up to a judge — not an expert hired by one side or the other — to instruct jurors on applicable laws.
The defense may also argue that jurors were improperly allowed to hear sometimes graphic testimony from porn actor Stormy Daniels about her alleged sexual encounter with him in 2006. The defense unsuccessfully pushed for a mistrial over the tawdry details prosecutors elicited from Daniels. Defense lawyer Todd Blanche argued Daniels’ description of a power imbalance with the older, taller Trump, was a “dog whistle for rape,” irrelevant to the charges at hand, and “the kind of testimony that makes it impossible to come back from.”
A sparse defense
The former president’s lawyers called just two witnesses in a sparse defense case, including attorney and former federal prosecutor Robert Costello. The defense sought to use Costello to discredit prosecutors’ star witness, Michael Cohen, the Trump attorney-turned-adversary who directly implicated Trump in the hush money scheme. But the move may have backfired in devastating fashion because it opened the door for prosecutors to question Costello about a purported pressure campaign aimed at keeping Cohen loyal to Trump after the FBI raided Cohen’s property in April 2018.
While Costello buoyed the defense by testifying that Cohen denied to him that Trump knew anything about the $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels, Costello had few answers when prosecutor Susan Hoffinger confronted him with emails he sent to Cohen in which he repeatedly dangled his close ties to Trump-ally Rudy Giuliani. In one email, Costello told Cohen: “Sleep well tonight. you have friends in high places,” and relayed that there were “some very positive comments about you from the White House.”
Cohen largely kept his cool on the witness stand in the face of heated cross-examination by the defense, who tried to paint him as a liar with a vendetta against his former boss. The curt, pugnacious Costello, on the other hand, aggravated the judge — at times in view of the jury — but continuing to speak after objections and rolling his eyes. At one point, after sending the jury out of the room, the judge became enraged when he said Costello was staring him down. Merchan then briefly cleared the courtroom of reporters and scolded Costello, warning that if he acted out again, he’d be removed from the courtroom and his testimony would be stricken.
Laying the groundwork for a loss
While projecting confidence, Trump and his campaign also spent weeks trying to undermine the case ahead of a potential conviction. He repeatedly called the whole system “rigged” — a term he used to similarly used to falsely describe the election he lost to President Joe Biden in 2020.
“Mother Teresa could not beat these charge,” he said Wednesday, invoking the Catholic nun and saint as jury deliberations began.
Trump has lambasted the judge, insulted Bragg, and complained about members of the prosecution team. He has tried to paint the case as nothing more than a politically-motivated witch hunt.
Trump’s criticism also extended to choices seemingly made by his own legal team. He railed that “a lot of key witnesses were not called” by the prosecution — even though his side chose to call only two witnesses.
He has also complained about being restricted from speaking about aspects of the case by a gag order, but chose not to take the stand. Instead of testifying in the case — and subjecting himself to the inherent risks of perjury and cross examination, Trump has focused on the court of public opinion and the voters who will ultimately decide his fate.
What it means for the election
In a deeply divided America, it’s unclear whether Trump’s once-imaginable status as a person convicted of a felony will have any impact at all on the election.
Leading strategists in both parties believe that Trump still remains well-positioned to defeat Biden, even as he now faces the prospect of a prison sentence and three separate criminal cases still outstanding. In the short term, at least, there were immediate signs that the guilty verdict was helping to unify the Republican Party’s disparate factions as GOP officials across the political spectrum rallied behind their embattled presumptive presidential nominee and his campaign expected to benefit from a flood of fundraising dollars.
There has been some polling conducted on the prospect of a guilty verdict, although such hypothetical scenarios are notoriously difficult to predict. A recent ABC News/Ipsos poll found that only 4 percent of Trump’s supporters said they would withdraw their support if he’s convicted of a felony, though another 16 percent said they would reconsider it.


Norway gives $103 million to Ukraine to secure electricity

Norway gives $103 million to Ukraine to secure electricity
Updated 5 sec ago
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Norway gives $103 million to Ukraine to secure electricity

Norway gives $103 million to Ukraine to secure electricity
  • Norwegian PM says the fund will go toward repairs in the Kharkiv area
  • Kharkiv has been hit particularly hard by Russian attacks recently

OSLO: Norway said Sunday that it would provide 1.1 billion kroner ($103 million) to Ukraine to help repair its energy infrastructure and secure the country’s electricity supply before next winter.
“Russia is carrying out massive, systematic attacks to paralyze the power grid, but Ukrainians are working day and night to maintain essential electricity supplies for the population,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said in a statement.
According to new estimates, more than 50 percent of Ukraine’s power production capacity has been destroyed, the government said.
“We are in close dialogue with Ukraine on how it can use these funds most effectively. The Ukrainians themselves have the best insight into what is needed,” Store said, adding that it was important to begin infrastructure repairs before the onset of winter.
Norway said it had already been decided that 120 million kroner would go toward repairs in the Kharkiv area, which has been hit particularly hard by Russian attacks recently.
Solar panels will be installed at seven maternity units and operating theaters in the Kharkiv area, Store said in the statement, which was issued as he attended a Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland.
In 2022, Norway provided 2.1 billion kroner in funding to the Ukrainian energy sector, and 1.9 billion kroner last year.
The Scandinavian country has pledged 75 billion kroner in military and civilian aid to Ukraine for the five-year period 2023-2027, with funding allocated each year in line with Ukraine’s needs.
 


Philippine ship, Chinese vessel collide in South China Sea: Beijing

Philippine ship, Chinese vessel collide in South China Sea: Beijing
Updated 56 min 1 sec ago
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Philippine ship, Chinese vessel collide in South China Sea: Beijing

Philippine ship, Chinese vessel collide in South China Sea: Beijing
  • China's coast guard says “Philippine replenishment ship ignored many solemn warnings from the Chinese side”
  • China has been trying to force a Philippine troops stationed in one of the disputed reefs by blocking supply missions

BEIJING: A Philippine ship and a Chinese vessel collided near the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea on Monday, Beijing’s Coast Guard said.
Beijing claims almost the entirety of the South China Sea, brushing aside competing claims from several Southeast Asian nations including the Philippines and an international ruling that its stance has no legal basis.
China deploys coast guard and other boats to patrol the waters and has turned several reefs into militarised artificial islands. Chinese and Philippine vessels have had a series of confrontations in disputed areas.
On Saturday, new Chinese coast guard rules took effect under which it can detain foreigners for alleged trespassing in the disputed sea.
Beijing’s coast guard said in a statement Monday that a “Philippine replenishment ship ignored many solemn warnings from the Chinese side.”
It “approached the... Chinese vessel in an unprofessional way, resulting in a collision,” the statement said.
Beijing accused the ship of having “illegally broken into the sea near Ren’ai Reef in China’s Nansha Islands,” using the Chinese name for the Spratly Islands.
“The Chinese Coast Guard took control measures against the Philippine ship in accordance with the law,” it added.
Manila has accused the Chinese coast guard of “barbaric and inhumane behavior” against Philippine vessels, and President Ferdinand Marcos has called the new rules a “very worrisome” escalation.
China has defended its new coast guard rules. A foreign ministry spokesman said last month that they were intended to “better uphold order at sea.”
China Coast Guard vessels have used water cannon against Philippine boats multiple times in the contested waters.
There have also been collisions that injured Filipino troops.
The Group of Seven bloc on Friday criticized what it called “dangerous” incursions by China in the South China Sea.
The South China Sea is a vital waterway, where Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei also have overlapping claims in some parts.
Most recently, however, confrontations between China and the Philippines have raised fears of a wider conflict over the sea that could involve the United States and other allies.
Trillions of dollars in ship-borne trade passes through the South China Sea annually, and huge unexploited oil and gas deposits are believed to lie under its seabed, though estimates vary greatly.
 


Biden pushes Gaza ceasefire deal in Eid message

Biden pushes Gaza ceasefire deal in Eid message
Updated 17 June 2024
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Biden pushes Gaza ceasefire deal in Eid message

Biden pushes Gaza ceasefire deal in Eid message
  • The US has been pressing Israel and Hamas to formally accept the ceasefire deal greenlighted by Security Council members last week

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden used his Eid Al-Adha message to Muslims to advocate a US-backed ceasefire deal in Gaza, saying Sunday it was the best way to help civilians suffering the “horrors of war between Hamas and Israel.”
“Too many innocent people have been killed, including thousands of children. Families have fled their homes and seen their communities destroyed. Their pain is immense,” Biden said in a statement.
“I strongly believe that the three-phase ceasefire proposal Israel has made to Hamas and that the UN Security Council has endorsed is the best way to end the violence in Gaza and ultimately end the war,” he added.
The United States has been pressing Israel and Hamas to formally accept the ceasefire deal greenlighted by Security Council members last week, which would allow an initial six-week pause to fighting.
Eid Al-Adha, which marks the prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God, saw a rare day of relative calm in Gaza after Israel announced a “tactical pause” in fighting near Rafah to facilitate aid deliveries.
The president highlighted American efforts to “advocate for the rights of other Muslim communities” facing persecution, including the Rohingya in Myanmar and the Uyghurs in China.
He said “we’re also working to bring a peaceful resolution to the horrific conflict in Sudan,” which has been gripped by fighting between the country’s army and a rival paramilitary group since April 2023.
On the domestic front, Biden’s message Sunday also promised a crackdown on Islamophobia in a direct appeal to American Muslims, a key voting demographic in the Democrat’s reelection bid against Republican rival Donald Trump.
“My Administration is creating a national strategy to counter Islamophobia and related forms of bias and discrimination, which affect not only Muslims, but also Arab, Sikh, and South Asian Americans,” Biden said.
 


Nuclear arms more prominent amid geopolitical tensions: researchers

Nuclear arms more prominent amid geopolitical tensions: researchers
Updated 17 June 2024
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Nuclear arms more prominent amid geopolitical tensions: researchers

Nuclear arms more prominent amid geopolitical tensions: researchers
  • The nine countries are the United States, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel

STOCKHOLM: The role of atomic weapons has become more prominent and nuclear states are modernizing arsenals as geopolitical relations deteriorate, researchers said Monday, urging world leaders to “step back and reflect.”
Diplomatic efforts to control nuclear arms also suffered major setbacks amid strained international relations over the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in its annual yearbook.
“We have not seen nuclear weapons playing such a prominent role in international relations since the Cold War,” Wilfred Wan, director of SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme, said in a statement.
The research institute noted that in February 2023 Russia announced it was suspending participation in the 2010 New START treaty — “the last remaining nuclear arms control treaty limiting Russian and US strategic nuclear forces.”
SIPRI also noted that Russia carried out tactical nuclear weapon drills close to the Ukrainian border in May.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has upped his nuclear rhetoric since the Ukraine conflict began, warning in his address to the nation in February there was a “real” risk of nuclear war.
In addition, an informal agreement between the United States and Iran reached in June 2023 was upended after the start of the Israel-Hamas war in October, SIPRI said.

According to SIPRI, the world’s nine nuclear-armed states also “continued to modernize their nuclear arsenals and several deployed new nuclear-armed or nuclear-capable weapon systems in 2023.”
The nine countries are the United States, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel.
In January, of the estimated 12,121 nuclear warheads around the world about 9,585 were in stockpiles for potential use, according to SIPRI.
Around 2,100 were kept in a state of “high operational alert” on ballistic missiles.
Nearly all of these warheads belong to Russia and the United States — which together possess almost 90 percent of all nuclear weapons — but China was for the first time believed to have some warheads on high operational alert.
“While the global total of nuclear warheads continues to fall as Cold War-era weapons are gradually dismantled, regrettably we continue to see year-on-year increases in the number of operational nuclear warheads,” SIPRI director Dan Smith said.
He added that this trend would likely continue and “probably accelerate” in the coming years, describing it as “extremely concerning.”
Researchers also stressed the “continuing deterioration of global security over the past year,” as the impact from the wars in Ukraine and Gaza could be seen in “almost every aspect” of issues relating to armaments and international security.
“We are now in one of the most dangerous periods in human history,” Smith said, urging the world’s great powers to “step back and reflect. Preferably together.”
 

 


Indian suspect in plot to kill Sikh separatist extradited to US

Indian suspect in plot to kill Sikh separatist extradited to US
Updated 17 June 2024
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Indian suspect in plot to kill Sikh separatist extradited to US

Indian suspect in plot to kill Sikh separatist extradited to US
  • Pannun told Reuters on Sunday that while the extradition was a welcome step, “Nikhil Gupta is just a foot soldier.” He alleged that those who hired Gupta were senior members of the Indian government who act on the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi

WASHINGTON: An Indian man suspected by the US of involvement in an unsuccessful plot to kill a Sikh separatist on American soil has been extradited to the United States from the Czech Republic, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons website and a source familiar with the matter.
Nikhil Gupta has been accused by US federal prosecutors of plotting with an Indian government official to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a US resident who advocated for a sovereign Sikh state in northern India.
Gupta traveled to Prague from India last June and was arrested by Czech authorities. Last month, a Czech court rejected his petition to avoid being sent to the US, clearing the way for the Czech justice minister to extradite him.
An inmate search by name on the Bureau of Prisons website showed on Sunday that Gupta, 52, is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center, Brooklyn, a federal administrative detention facility. A source familiar with the matter, who did not want to be identified, separately confirmed Gupta’s extradition and his detention in Brooklyn.
A US Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment. Gupta’s US-based lawyer, attorney Jeffrey Chabrowe, had no immediate comment. There was also no immediate comment from Czech authorities.
The discovery of assassination plots against Sikh separatists in the US and Canada has tested relations with India, seen by Western nations as a counter to China’s rising global influence. India’s government denies involvement in the plots.
Canada said in September its intelligence agencies were pursuing allegations linking India’s government to the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June 2023 in Canada.
In November, US authorities said an Indian government official had directed the plot in the attempted murder of Pannun, who is a US and Canadian citizen. Gupta is accused of involvement in that plot.
Pannun told Reuters on Sunday that while the extradition was a welcome step, “Nikhil Gupta is just a foot soldier.” He alleged that those who hired Gupta were senior members of the Indian government who act on the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India’s government has dissociated itself from the plot against Pannun, saying it was against government policy. It has said it would formally investigate security concerns raised by Washington.
New Delhi has long complained about Sikh separatist groups outside India, viewing them as security threats. The groups have kept alive the movement for Khalistan, or the demand for an independent Sikh state to be carved out of India.
Last month, Washington said it was satisfied so far with India’s moves to ensure accountability in the alleged plots, but added that many steps still needed to be taken.