Stormy Daniels obliquely denies having written statement on Trump affair
The campaign of far-right racist French presidential contender Eric Zemmour claims that Donald Trump personally called the candidate to offer his encouragement. According to one of Mr Zemmour’s senior aides, Mr Trump “told Eric Zemmour not to give in, hold firm, stay courageous” – this after the campaign purportedly reached out to Mr Trump’s office directly. Mr Zemmour, who was recently fined for inciting race hate, is currently in a three-way fight for second place in the election’s first round.
Meanwhile, the Trump Organization’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, is cutting ties with the company, writing in a court filing that a decade’s worth of Donald Trump’s financial statements could no longer be relied upon. The president’s company papers are at the centre of a New York investigation into his affairs, one he has decried as a political witch hunt.
The news comes as a US congressional committee prepares to investigate Donald Trump’s handling of administration documents after 15 boxes of records were transferred from his Mar-a-Lago residence.
The former president insists he was “under no obligation” to hand over any materials – despite laws requiring him to do exactly that.
George Conway: Trump accountants’ abandonment “calamitous”
Lincoln Project co-founder and exuberant Trump critic George Conway has given his view on the news that the Trump Organization has been essentially disowned by longtime accounting firm Mazars:
Andrew Naughtie15 February 2022 12:40
NYC vaccine mandates see only tiny proportion of city workforce laid off
Rows over vaccine mandates for public employees have engulfed liberal and conservative states and cities alike. Among them is New York City, where a mandate for municipal workers met with furious outrage – but it seems fears of massive forced layoffs may have been overblown.
According to Mayor Eric Adams, 1,428 workers have been terminated for failing to get a first dose of vaccines. It sounds like a large number, but in fact, it amounts to less than 1 per cent of the city’s public workforce.
Alex Woodward has more:
Andrew Naughtie15 February 2022 12:10
Trump ‘encouraged’ far-right French presidential candidate
A senior campaign official for Eric Zemmour, a far-right candidate standing in this year’s French presidential election, says that Donald Trump called the controversial public figure to tell him “not to give in, hold firm, stay courageous” – this “after Donald Trump’s office responded positively to our various requests”.
Mr Zemmour, who is notorious for trafficking in racist ideas and was last month fined for inciting race hate, is running toe-to-toe with nationalist Marine Le Pen and the more mainstream Valérie Pécresse for the chance to challenge Emmanuel Macron in the election’s second round.
Ms Le Pen made it into the second round runoff with Mr Macron in 2017, but lost to him by 33 points.
Here’s a profile of Mr Zemmour from John Rentoul:
Andrew Naughtie15 February 2022 11:34
ICYMI: Judge dismisses Sarah Palin’s lawsuit while jury deliberates
It seems Sarah Palin – a pioneer of the Trumpian style of populist politics – has failed in her defamation case against the New York Times over a 2017 editorial that drew a link between the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and a map of “target” districts put out by her political action committee.
Even though the jury is still deliberating its verdict, US District Judge Jed Rakoff said in a courtroom that “I think that there is one essential element that plaintiff has not carried its burden with – the portion of actual malice relating to belief in falsity or reckless disregard in falsity.
“The law sets a very high standard, the court finds that that standard has not been met.”
Alex Woodward has more:
Andrew Naughtie15 February 2022 11:10
Republican official who ‘breached election security’ running for Secretary of State
While no evidence has ever been produced to back up claims of organised voter fraud benefiting Joe Biden in 2020, there have been several incidents of individual voters breaking the law in support of Donald Trump. There have also been incidents in which Republican state officials took part in efforts to throw out the result – and one such official is now climbing the electoral ladder herself.
Tina Peters, the Republican clerk and recorder for Mesa County, Colorado, is accused of allowing an unauthorised person to clone hard drives from voting machines used in the last presidential election, and a judge subsequently banned her from accessing the county’s voting machines before last year’s elections.
But now, she is running for Secretary of State – a position that would make her Colorado’s top election official. And as if her politics were in any doubt she announced her run on none other than Steve Bannon’s openly insurrectionist War Room podcast.
Read the full story from Colorado Public Radio below.
Andrew Naughtie15 February 2022 10:30
Why the Durham-Trump-Clinton “story” isn’t what it seems
Fox News and other right-wing media are going hard on the news of a new filing in John Durham’s investigation, but contra the furious certitude of their coverage all is not what it seems – and there are good reasons the mainstream media is not reporting the story as a major development.
The New York Times has this good explainer laying out the reasons why.
Andrew Naughtie15 February 2022 09:45
Read the letter from Trump’s accountants
Here is the letter filed by Donald Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars, in which the company essentially washes its hands of his financial records as a case against him ramps up.
Andrew Naughtie15 February 2022 09:05
Tucker Carlson goes full-tilt on Durham news – regardless of reality
Fox News host Tucker Carlson, whose show is one of the most-watched on cable news, has joined his fellow network members in pouncing on the filing in John Durham’s investigation of alleged spying on Donald Trump’s campaign.
He has characteristically pushed the news beyond its limit into the realm of conspiracy theory – and into territory that has landed Fox and other right-wing media in legal trouble before.
Andrew Naughtie15 February 2022 08:38
Trump criticises Biden’s handling of North Korea
Former US president Donald Trump criticised the Biden administration over its handling of North Korea, at an event in South Korea that included as a guest speaker former Vice-President Mike Pence.
Mr Trump appeared in a recorded video message that was screened on Sunday at the weekend event in Seoul and alleged that a recent “return to escalation” that has seen North Korean leader Kim Jong Un launch missile tests would “never have happened if I were president.”
He also urged North Korea not to undertake any actions that could “endanger” what he described as the “unique opportunity that we worked so hard to create together over the past four years.”
Stuti Mishra15 February 2022 08:00
ICYMI: Trump’s longtime accounting firm cuts ties
The longtime accounting firm for former president Donald Trump and his eponymous real estate company has cut ties with both and has warned the company that nearly a decade’s worth of his financial statements “should no longer be relied upon”.
In a letter to Trump Organization chief legal officer Alan Garten, Mazars attorney William Kelly wrote that information contained in court filings by New York State Attorney General Letitia James, as well as “our own investigation and information received from internal and external sources” has caused the firm to conclude that Mr Trump’s company should stop relying on financial statements dating from 30 June 2011 to 30 June 2020 and inform “any recipients thereof” — a category which could include many of the former president’s creditors — of the unreliability of those documents.
Andrew Feinberg has more:
Stuti Mishra15 February 2022 07:17