Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F
A grand jury in New York City has voted to indict former President Donald Trump.
Trump’s attorney Joseph Tacopina confirmed the indictment to The Epoch Times.
A spokesperson for the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said it is now coordinating with Trump’s attorneys his “surrender to the Manhattan D.A.’s Office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment.”
The indictment currently remains under seal.
Bragg’s office has been investigating Trump for his alleged involvement with a $130,000 payment to adult entertainment actress Stormy Daniels by his lawyer at the time, Michael Cohen, in the leadup to the 2016 presidential election. The payment allegedly was made to stop Daniels from going public with her claim of an affair with Trump, who denies the claim.
“President Donald J. Trump is a victim of a corrupt and distorted version of the American justice system and history,” Alina Habba, an attorney for Trump, said in a statement. “He will be vindicated.”
—The Epoch Times
Former president Donald Trump issued a statement responding to the news that a Manhattan grand jury indicted him on Thursday, calling it “political persecution and election interference.”
“From the time I came down the golden escalator at Trump Tower, and even before I was sworn in as your President of the United States, the Radical Left Democrats – the enemy of the hard-working men and women of this Country – have been engaged in a Witch-Hunt to destroy the Make America Great Again movement,” Trump wrote in a statement posted on Truth Social on Thursday.
“You remember it just like I do: Russia, Russia, Russia; the Mueller Hoax; Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine; Impeachment Hoax 1; Impeachment Hoax 2; the illegal and unconstitutional Mar-a-Lago raid; and now this,” the former president added.
—The Epoch Times
Wisconsin’s top Republicans Thursday evening decried the decision from a Manhattan grand jury to indict Donald Trump, coming to the former president’s defense in the hours after the historic move to charge Trump in connection to his role in paying hush money to a porn star in 2016.
“With all the problems facing our country — many exacerbated by Radical Left governance — now a George Soros funded D.A. issues a political indictment against a former president,” U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson wrote on Twitter. “Leftists are destroying America.”
U.S. Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, who was among the first Wisconsin Republicans to publicly back Trump during the former president’s first campaign, called the decision the “latest of the weaponization of government against conservatives.” He said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the man leading the hush money investigation into Trump, “abused his office to seek a political prosecution of the former President.”
“Bragg’s latest political stunt is outrageous and unbecoming of his office,” Fitzgerald tweeted.
Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, chair of the House Administration Committee, has emerged as among the most public defenders of the former president.
On Thursday, Steil said: “The unprecedented move by New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg raises many questions. To maintain confidence in our system, it is imperative that our justice system be impartial and that all who come before it are treated equally without regard to politics.”
U.S. Rep. Derrick Van Orden, Wisconsin’s newest member of Congress, echoed Fitzgerald’s claims that the indictment was a “weaponization of the goverment (sic) by the left.”
“Their blatant abuse of power is destroying our democracy and should be resoundingly condemned by all Americans who care about the rule of law,” Van Orden tweeted.
Meanwhile, Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan shortly after news of the indictment broke wrote on Twitter: “No one is above the law, not even a former President.”
—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
On Thursday evening, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg officially filed a felony indictment against President Donald Trump. Two weeks ago Trump took to Truth social and said the indictment, after a grand jury investigation, was coming. The charges have yet to be revealed.
So, what happens next?
Trump’s attorneys are in talks with Bragg’s office for an arraignment, which will reportedly happen sometime next week. Trump attorney Joe Tacopina said during an interview with Fox News Thursday night coordination between the Secret Service and the New York City Police Department is underway.
According to Trump civil attorney Alina Habba, President Trump will be finger printed during arraignment and his mugshot will be taken. Habba expects Trump will fight all charges.
Meanwhile, Bragg will continue to allow violent criminals to go free in the city to terrorize local residents.
Former President Donald Trump faces more than 30 counts related to business fraud in an indictment from a Manhattan grand jury, according to two sources familiar with the case.
Trump will likely appear in court early next week, his defense attorney said.
Despite his indictment, former President Donald Trump can continue his 2024 campaign for president and serve in office if he wins.
The Constitution does not contain any provision barring someone who has been indicted or even convicted from becoming president.
While the charges against Trump have not been disclosed to the public yet, they are reportedly related to the hush money payments the businessman allegedly made to porn star Stormy Daniels before he was elected president in 2016.
Daniels said she was popping champagne after the news of the indictment broke.
“Thank you to everyone for your support and love!” she wrote on Twitter. “I have so many messages coming in that I can’t respond … also don’t want to spill my champagne. #Teamstormy merch/autograph orders are pouring in, too! Thank you for that as well but allow a few extra days for shipment.”
Renowned civil liberties lawyer Alan Dershowitz, a Democrat who broke party ranks to defend Trump in his first impeachment trial, criticized the decision to indict Trump.
“The worst, weakest, most abusive case of prosecutorial indiscretion in my 60 years of practicing law,” he said. “I have never seen a weaker case. I have never seen a case that would be so easy to win if the person’s name was not Donald Trump and the city was not New York. There’s a risk he could lose with some of the 12 jurors in New York who will be terrified to come home to their family and friends and say we acquitted Trump. And so this is the most abusive case I’ve ever seen.”
—Just the News
“They don’t do this to the Biden administration or the Biden family,” Trump Jr. said. “Or to the Clintons or to any one of the corrupt Democrats out there that have made millions and probably billions where there’s smoke like you wouldn’t even believe … this is weaponized justice at its absolute worst.”
He called “Soros-backed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s” attack against his father “communist-level sh*t,” accusing Democrats of prosecutorial misconduct, which is the targeting of a political opponent.
“This is stuff that would make Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot; it would make them blush. It’s so flagrant; it’s so crazed. Even the radical leftists of the Washington Post are out there saying, ‘it’s not really based on facts, it’s not really based on the law, not really based in reality, but it’s 100% based on politics,'” Trump Jr. continued.
Trump’s other son, Eric, accused Bragg of targeting his father right before the 2024 presidential election began to stop him from potentially winning.
“This is the opportunistic targeting of a political opponent in a campaign year,’ said the 39-year-old second son of the ex-head of state of the grand jury’s decision,” Eric told the Daily Mail.
“They ruthlessly attacked my father because he dared challenge the political elite. This is Exhibit A to the decline of American Law.”
The Wall Street Journal forcefully defended its reporter after he was arrested in Russia on allegations of espionage.
The Russian government’s Federal Security Service said it had detained U.S. citizen and WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovitch in the city of Yekaterinburg and accused him of spying on behalf of the U.S. government.
Gershkovich is “suspected of spying in the interests of the US government,” the FSB said in a statement reported by state news agency RIA Novosti. The FSB added his “illegal activities” “have been suppressed.”
“The Wall Street Journal vehemently denies the allegations from the FSB and seeks the immediate release of our trusted and dedicated reporter, Evan Gershkovich. We stand in solidarity with Evan and his family,” The WSJ’s Senior Communications Manager Caitlyn Reuss wrote.
The Journal said Gershkovich reported on Russia as part of the paper’s Moscow bureau. He is accredited to work as a journalist in Russia by the country’s foreign ministry, the FSB said as well.
Nashville authorities have released dozens of 911 calls and recordings of emergency dispatches that paint a picture of the chaos, confusion, and fear inside a shooting at The Covenant School on Monday that left three children and three staff members dead.
“I’m hearing rapid fire,” one man, who identified himself as a pastor, said. “Oh Lord Jesus, help us. Protect us, Lord.”
“We need somebody fast,” another caller, who was standing outside, said. “There’s people stuck inside.”
At 10:16 a.m., a caller spoke in a whisper. “Is help coming? Please tell me,” she said. “I’m pregnant. I’m 21 weeks pregnant.”
Others made similar pleas to dispatchers to hurry as they reported dozens of shots ringing out while students and teachers sheltered in their classrooms.
“We are sending the cavalry, trust me, we understand the situation,” a dispatcher reassured one caller.
The earliest call was logged at 10:12 a.m. After that, dozens more poured in for about 30 minutes. In total, the Metro Department of Emergency Communications released 26 recordings. Nearly all were punctuated by the incessant sound of blaring alarms.
“Someone must have pulled the fire alarm,” one caller said.
At one point, a woman calling from the nursery in the building said that an employee or two may be carrying weapons, but said the school does not have security staff.
A call at around 10:13 a.m. came from a woman who said she was in a closet of the art room in the school. She was speaking in a whisper, her voice quavering, as she gently shushed students around her.
“I want to go home,” a child whimpered in the background.
As various media outlets left out significant details concerning the shooter being transgender, a newly crafted narrative is now emerging which tried to lay blame the killer’s Christian parents.
According to a report from The Daily Mail, shooter Audrey Hale was “rejected” by her Christian parents because they disagreed with her identifying as transgender and refused to allow Hale to use he/him pronouns.
The Daily Mail reports that Hale was forced to leave home to change outfits.
The outlet also cited a “well-placed” source who claimed the Christian parents “did know about it,” but “they just didn’t accept it.”
—The Daily Fetched
Hundreds of people had to evacuate their Minnesota town after a train hauling ethanol and corn syrup derailed and caught fire early Thursday, but authorities were hopeful that the quick response and cold weather would help limit the impact of this latest crash.
Still, those pushing to improve rail safety said the derailment only added urgency to the debate over reforms that Congress and regulators are considering, even as officials seemed to apply some of the lessons learned after last month’s fiery derailment near East Palestine, Ohio.
Minnesota officials said the BNSF train derailed around 1 a.m. in Raymond, roughly 100 miles (161 kilometers) west of Minneapolis. That prompted the evacuation of essentially all of the town’s 250 homes because they were within 1/2 mile (0.8 kilometers) of the derailment. The evacuation order was lifted around noon.
The nation has been increasingly focused on railroad safety since the Feb. 3 Norfolk Southern derailment that prompted several thousand evacuations in and around East Palestine near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. Residents in that town of about 5,000 remain concerned about lingering health impacts after officials decided to release and burn toxic chemicals to prevent a tank car explosion. State and federal officials maintain that no harmful levels of toxic chemicals have been found in the air or water, but residents remain uneasy.
The major freight railroads have said they plan to add about 1,000 more trackside detectors nationwide to help spot equipment problems, but federal regulators and members of Congress have proposed additional reforms they want the railroads to make.
University of Wisconsin System students will have to pay hundreds of dollars more to attend classes next year under a plan system officials overwhelmingly approved Thursday.
The Board of Regents voted during a meeting at UW-Stout to adopt system President Jay Rothman’s proposal to increase student tuition, fees and room and board rates beginning this fall.
The tuition increase is the first since Republican legislators lifted an eight-year freeze on rates in 2021. The regents elected not to impose any increases last year as the state was emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the plan, the average annual cost for most in-state undergraduate students living on four-year campuses will increase an average of 4.2%, or about $706 per year. The average annual cost at the system’s two-year schools will increase about 6.3%, or about $329 per year.
The Left is doing a victory lap, as usual. It’s another ‘walls are closing in’ story, and some think this will be the nail in the coffin for Trump. Many hope this will be the closing chapter for the former president in American politics. I doubt that, and let’s not forget: grand jury indictments are handed out like candy.
The saying that ‘you can indict a ham sandwich’ speaks to how easy it is for these investigative bodies to dole out charges, especially if that jury is comprised of the most ardent liberals in the country reviewing whether the former president, one of the most polarizing figures in politics, committed a crime. Trump is anathema to the Left. Of course, these people bought into Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s cockamamie legalese that elevated misdemeanors into felony charges. To boot, the statute of limitations had expired for the charges being considered.
Yet, while some left-wing groups, like Moveon.Org, are jumping for glee, others are more muted regarding the news. Take Elie Mystal, who seems to concede that Trump isn’t going to go to jail or be convicted of what’s being considered here:
“The indictment represents the first real attempt to hold Trump legally accountable for any of his many alleged crimes. But the odds that the path to real justice, let alone prison time, runs through the Manhattan DA’s office still seem very, very long.
“We know he paid Daniels. We know he lied about it. We know he obfuscated about where the money came from. Game, set, match. If these charges had been brought by a federal prosecutor in 2020 or 2021 at the very least, the indictments wouldn’t even be controversial outside of the white-wing media that remains in thrall to Trump. This is the lowest-hanging fruit (or, mushroom, to hear some tell it) in the Trump criminal matrix. This isn’t getting Al Capone for tax evasion; this is getting Al Capone for illegally serving alcohol at his underground poker game. It’s minor, but it’s also obvious. Criminal bookkeeping is just as ticky-tack as it sounds, but all the available evidence shows that Trump did it. If law enforcement has enough time and energy to beat the snot out of a person who jumps a turnstile to get onto the subway (and they do), then they have enough resources to indict Trump for this tawdry crap.
“The problem, as Alexa is quick to remind me, is that it’s not 2020 or 2021, and this is not in federal court. We are in the year 2023, and a local DA is trying to gather up some bits of the jurisdictional authority federal prosecutors left lying on the ground. It’s not a clean shot: Bragg is trying to bank in a half-court heave off the backboard after the shot clock buzzer has already sounded.”
You can see why some are tempering expectations in liberal America. They, too, have seen many ‘Trump is done’ narratives fizzle and die. Russian collusion was supposed to ensnare Trump—and nothing happened. Then, the January 6 insurrection, which wasn’t an insurrection, quickly fell apart. The classified document mishandling and subsequent FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago was the one the Left I think really thought could stop the Trump moment in politics. And then, the evidence didn’t pan out, and Joe Biden became engulfed in a state secret fiasco of his own doing, leaving sensitive materials at multiple locations.
Will the porn payments finally end Trump, probably not, but that’s not the point. The goal is to erode the man slowly; he’s facing these charges, plus multiple investigations stemming from 2020 election interference. The real crime Trump committed was running in 2016 and beating Hillary Clinton. That’s an unforgivable sin in the eyes of progressives, who ironically don’t like Hillary all that much, either.
—Matt Vespa, Townhall
TikTok has become a global sensation in recent years, with millions of users sharing and viewing a seemingly endless array of short-form videos on the platform. However, the app’s ownership by the Chinese behemoth ByteDance raises grave national security concerns regarding the risks the app presents to the United States and its citizens. As a result, the United States government has considered banning TikTok, citing concerns about data privacy, propaganda, cyberattacks and disinformation — and here’s the reality: They should.
From a national security perspective, banning TikTok seems to be a reasonable step in protecting U.S. citizens. After all, TikTok is merely a video sharing app that is widely used by children; thus, its ability to harm us far outweighs its utility. The Chinese government has a history of surveillance and censorship, and based on national security experts, TikTok is collecting data on its users and sharing it with the Chinese government. While the app has denied these claims, ByteDance has yet to present any significant data to showcase that they aren’t sharing sensitive information with the Chinese government. In fact, reports have shown the exact opposite of what TikTok has professed.
TikTok’s potential use as a tool for Chinese propaganda is a significant national security concern. With the app’s vast, billion-plus user base — many children — there is a risk that it could influence young Americans’ political beliefs and opinions and be used as a highly effective propaganda machine. This is especially concerning given the current political climate in the United States; with tensions between political parties and ideologies at an all-time high, we must ensure that an adversary such as China can’t use digital technology to divide us further.
We must also be wary of the potential for hacking and cyberattacks on TikTok. With over 1 billion users worldwide, the app represents a valuable target for hackers and cybercriminals. If any person with bad intentions were to access their systems, it could potentially put millions of American kids at risk — a risk that parents frankly may be unaware of.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – In 1949, the RCA Victor company introduced the 45-rpm record, an advancement that had taken almost a decade to develop. The 7-inch single was designed to offered better fidelity and longer playing time than the 78-rpm record currently in use. Most importantly, using the new record players, listeners could stack the disks, and hear up to ten records in a row with “speedy, silent, hardly noticeable changes,” as the advertisements boasted. The music system was designed to compete with the Long Playing records (LPs) introduced by Columbia a year earlier. The ‘45s’ became a staple in jukeboxes and homes for decades to come.