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Judge Reprimands Trump Witness Robert Costello in New York Trial

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Judge Reprimands Trump Witness Robert Costello
Judge Reprimanded Robert Costello: AP Image

The judge in Donald Trump’s highly controversial hush money trial cleared the courtroom of media on Monday before threatening to dismiss the defense witness Robert Costello from the trial entirely due to his behavior on the stand.

Judge Juan M. Merchan reprimanded Robert Costello, a former federal prosecutor, for his conduct during testimony. Costello irritated Merchan repeatedly, in part by continuing to speak after objections were sustained, indicating to witnesses that they should stop talking. Costello muttered “jeez” when he was interrupted by an objection. He also labeled the entire exercise “ridiculous.”

The discussion occurred near the close of a heated day that saw the prosecution’s star witness admit to stealing tens of thousands of dollars from Trump’s firm. Trump’s lawyers also pushed Merchan to drop the case after prosecutors finished presenting evidence. The judge did not immediately rule on the request.

Robert Costello on Witness Stand

However, the most uncomfortable moments occurred with Costello on the witness stand. Merchan first led the jurors out of the courtroom to discuss basic decorum. He chastised Costello for saying “jeez” when cut off by a protracted argument and “strike it” at another point.

Merchan told him, “I am the only one who can strike testimony in court. “Do you understand that?”

“And then if you don’t like my ruling, you don’t give me side eye and you don’t roll your eyes.”

Merchan was about to call the jury back in when he asked Costello, “Are you staring me down right now?” and then ejected the press to further chastise him.

“I’m putting you on notice that your conduct is contemptuous,” Merchan said, according to a transcript of the conversation that took place after the reporters left the room. “If you try to stare me down one more time, I will remove you from the stand.”

Costello did not respond to a message seeking comment Monday night.

When Merchan called the reporters back in, Costello’s evidence continued, and it will resume on Tuesday. The defense is using him to undermine the credibility of Trump’s former attorney and rival, Michael Cohen.

After the jurors had left for the day, defense attorney Todd Blanche informed the court that prosecutors had failed to prove their case and that it should be dismissed immediately. Blanche begged the judge to “not send this case to the jury based on Mr. Cohen’s testimony.”

Cohen was the last witness

The judge remained unfazed by the argument, asking the defense attorney whether he believed that “as a matter of law, this person’s so not worthy of belief that it shouldn’t even be considered by the jury?”

“You said his lies are irrefutable,” the judge responded. “But you think he’s going to fool 12 New Yorkers into believing this lie?”

Cohen was the last witness — at least for the time being — for prosecutors trying to prove that Trump attempted to bury bad reports about himself and then altered internal business documents to conceal them as part of a conspiracy to illegally influence the 2016 presidential election. The defense has portrayed Cohen as a media-obsessed liar on a revenge mission to bring down Trump.

The defense called Costello because of his role as Cohen’s enemy and critic in the years after their professional relationship fractured spectacularly.

Costello offered to represent Cohen shortly after the lawyer’s hotel room, office, and house were raided, and Cohen had to decide whether to stay defiant in the face of a criminal investigation or to collaborate with authorities in the hopes of receiving more lenient punishment.

Costello said that Cohen told him Trump “knew nothing” about the $130,000 hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels that is at the heart of the investigation.

“Michael Cohen said numerous times that President Trump knew nothing about those payments, that he did this on his own, and he repeated that numerous times,” Costello told the jury.

Trump would not testify

Trump lawyer Emil Bove told the judge that the defense does not intend to call any other witnesses following Costello, however they may bring campaign finance expert Bradley A. Smith for limited testimony.

They have not explicitly stated that Trump would not testify, but this is the clearest hint yet that he will forego his right to testify in his own defense.

Cohen returned to the witness stand for a fourth day on Monday, telling jurors that he stole from the Trump Organization when his 2016 holiday bonus was reduced from $150,000 to $50,000.

Cohen claimed he paid $50,000 to a technology firm for artificially increasing Trump’s standing in a CNBC online poll of notable CEOs. Cohen claimed he only provided the firm $20,000 in cash in a brown paper bag, but he sought reimbursement from Trump for the entire amount, pocketing the remainder.

Cohen claimed he never paid the Trump Organization back. Cohen has never been accused of stealing from Trump’s company.

Cohen is an important witness, but also a problematic one. He acknowledged on the witness stand to a number of previous lies, many of which he alleges were intended to protect Trump. Cohen also served time in prison after pleading guilty to a number of criminal counts, including lying to Congress and a bank, as well as campaign finance violations tied to the hush money scam.

However, when pressed by Blanche, Cohen maintained by his account of talks with Trump about the hush money payment to Daniels. Cohen stated that he spoke with Trump about the topic over 20 times in October 2016.

“No doubt in your mind?” Blanche inquired whether Cohen remembers having contacts with Trump about the Daniels case. No question, Cohen stated.

Trump facing 34 felony counts

Following more than four weeks of testimony, jurors could begin deliberate next week on whether Trump is guilty of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first criminal trial of a former US president.

The charges derive from internal Trump Organization records that show payments to Cohen were classified as legal expenditures. Prosecutors contend they were actually reimbursements for Daniels’ payment to prevent her from going public with claims of a sexual encounter with Trump prior to the 2016 election. Trump claims nothing sexual occurred between them.

Donald Trump has pled not guilty. His lawyers claim that the Daniels arrangement and Cohen’s payment were both legal.

“There’s no crime,” Trump told reporters after arriving at the courthouse on Monday. “We paid legal fees. Do you know what the price is? “A legal expense.”

After Trump’s witnesses have testified, prosecutors will have the opportunity to call rebuttal witnesses. The judge, citing scheduling constraints, stated that he expected closing arguments to take place on May 28, the Tuesday following Memorial Day.

Source: The Associated Press

Geoff Thomas is a seasoned staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. With his sharp writing skills and deep understanding of SEO, he consistently delivers high-quality, engaging content that resonates with readers. Thomas' articles are well-researched, informative, and written in a clear, concise style that keeps audiences hooked. His ability to craft compelling narratives while seamlessly incorporating relevant keywords has made him a valuable asset to the VORNews team.

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2024: Supreme Court Rules California Man Can’t Trademark ‘Trump Too Small’

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Trump | Pixa Bay Image

WASHINGTON The Supreme Court decided unanimously on Thursday against a man seeking to trademark the oblique phrase “Trump too small.”

The court maintained that the government had the right to refuse Steve Elster, a Californian who wanted to use the slogan only on T-shirts and maybe other products, a trademark. It is one of many legal proceedings involving former President Donald Trump, including significant ones about the bloody assault on the Capitol in 2021. The court established guidelines earlier in the current term enabling public officials to be sued for removing detractors from their social media accounts. These instances had to do with Donald as well.

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trump | AP News image

Supreme Court Rules California Man Can’t Trademark ‘Trump Too Small’

The Justice Department backed President Joe Biden’s presumed opponent in the 2024 election, his predecessor. According to government representatives, the phrase “Trump too small” may still be used, but as Donald had not given his approval, it could not be trademarked. You can already buy “Trump too small” T-shirts online.

Elster’s attorneys had contended that the ruling infringed his right to free speech, and a federal appeals court agreed.

Chief Justice John Roberts warned at arguments that if Elster prevailed, individuals would rush to trademark “Trump too this, Trump too that.”

While the nine judges unanimously agreed to reject Elster’s First Amendment argument, their reasoning varied and comprised 53 pages of opinions.

In the last six years, the justices have twice overturned federal law clauses that denied trademarks deemed scandalous or immoral in one case and insulting in another.

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Trump | PixaBay Image

Supreme Court Rules California Man Can’t Trademark

Elster’s case addressed a different rule that states that unless the person has provided “written consent,” a trademark application containing a name, photograph, or signature “identifying a particular living individual” will be denied.

The core of the lawsuit refers to a conversation Donald had with Florida Senator Marco Rubio during the 2016 campaign. At the time, Rubio was vying for the Republican presidential nomination.

At a speech, Rubio started the verbal sparring by telling supporters that Donald, who claims to be 6 feet 3 inches tall, had disproportionately small hands and that Donald had always called him “little Marco.” Had you looked at his hands? And you are aware of the saying regarding males with little hands, Rubio added. “You can’t rely on them.”

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Trump | Pixa Bay Image

Supreme Court Rules California Man Can’t Trademark ‘Trump Too Small’

Donald later brought up the remark during a televised debate on March 3, 2016.

Stare at those hands. Are those little hands? And he said something about my hands being small, so something else had to be, too. There is no difficulty, I promise you. You have my word,” he declared.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Yellen Says China’s Trade Policies Could ‘Interfere Significantly’ With US Bilateral Relationship

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Chinese “overconcentrated supply chains” threaten American jobs and recent investments intended to strengthen the country’s green energy industry, according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. The Asian superpower’s trade policies “may interfere significantly with our efforts to build a healthy economic relationship.”

Yellen endorsed Biden administration initiatives meant to boost American economic competitiveness in a prepared speech she gave to Wall Street and corporate executives at the Economic Club of New York on Thursday afternoon.

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Yellen | AP News Image

Yellen Says China’s Trade Policies Could ‘Interfere Significantly’ With US Bilateral Relationship

“When foreign subsidies threaten the viability of domestic firms” in important industries like green energy, she added, the United States should react. China’s green energy products are especially feared to undercut significant climate-friendly investments made possible by the Democrats’ August 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law.

Former President Donald Trump is making his argument to the Business Roundtable in Washington, an organization of over 200 CEOs, on why the economy would be better if he were back in the White House while Yellen is speaking.

Voters have heard from Biden and Trump, his likely Republican opponent, that they will be harsh on China.

The United States imposed major new duties this month on Chinese electric cars, cutting-edge batteries, solar cells, steel, aluminum, and medical equipment. On Wednesday, the European Union also acted to increase import duties, or tariffs, on Chinese-made electric vehicles after preliminary findings of a continuing inquiry into Chinese EV subsidies revealed that the nation’s battery electric vehicle “value chain” benefited from “unfair subsidization” that damaged EU competitors.

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Yellen | Forbes Image

Yellen Says China’s Trade Policies Could ‘Interfere Significantly’ With US Bilateral Relationship

Chinese companies can charge as little as $12,000 for an electric vehicle. Chinese officials contend that their manufacturing keeps costs low and would support a shift to a green economy. They also claim that their solar cells and steel and aluminum mills have enough capacity to supply most of the world’s demand.

Among other concerns, Yellen mentioned in her statement on Thursday the proportion of Chinese manufacturing companies that are losing money, the high savings rates compared to other OECD nations, and the stringent investment regulations.

Yellen listed industries where Chinese government subsidies have fueled fast output growth, including the production of electric cars and their batteries and solar energy equipment, which the U.S. administration is attempting to boost domestically.

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Yellen | CNN Image

Yellen Says China’s Trade Policies Could ‘Interfere Significantly’ With US Bilateral Relationship

“I reject the idea that ‘decoupling’ would help the US economy in any way,” she stated. Concurrently, a level playing field is necessary for us to fully enjoy the possible advantages of our economic partnership.

Her trip to Guangzhou and Beijing earlier this year was centered on industrial strategy and what the United States and Europe call China’s manufacturing overcapacity.

SOURCE – (AP)

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President Joe Biden Faces First Lawsuit Over New Asylum Crackdown At The Border

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Biden Administration Plans for Potential Presidential Transition

Washington, D.C. On Wednesday, a coalition of immigrant advocacy groups sued the Biden administration, claiming that President Joe Biden’s recent order to essentially stop asylum claims at the southern border is no different from a similar action by the Trump administration that was thwarted by the courts.

The American Civil Liberties Union and others filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Centre and the Refugee and Immigrant Centre for Education and Legal Services, or RAICES. It is the first legal challenge to Biden’s broad border crackdown, which followed months of internal White House deliberations and is intended in part to fend off political criticism of the president’s immigration policy.

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Joe Biden | AP News Image

President Joe Biden Faces First Lawsuit Over New Asylum Crackdown At The Border

“We were forced to file this lawsuit by enacting an asylum ban that is legally indistinguishable from the Trump ban we successfully blocked,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt.

The directive Biden issued last week will restrict the processing of asylum applications once 2,500 people are encountered between ports of entry each day. The current estimates were significantly higher, at almost 4,000 daily, so it went into effect right away.

The limits would remain in place for two weeks following the seven-day average of those daily encounter counts at or below 1,500. When the numbers might fall that low, though, is unclear; the last time was in July 2020, during the COVID-19 epidemic.

When the order entered into force on June 5, officials of the Biden administration stated they anticipated record numbers of deportations.

Advocates counter that, among other issues, suspending asylum for refugees who fail to show up at a predetermined point of entry—as the Biden administration is attempting to do—violates current federal immigration law.

For a long time, the United States has welcomed refugees seeking protection from persecution. That national commitment became legally codified with the Refugee Act of 1980. The groups said in their case filed on Wednesday that although Congress has, throughout time, imposed certain restrictions on the right to seek asylum, it has never allowed the Executive Branch to outright prohibit asylum based on where a noncitizen enters the nation.

Biden cited Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the same legal basis that the Trump administration used to justify its asylum restriction. Under this clause, a president may restrict the number of migrants admitted if it is judged “detrimental” to the country’s interests.

While running, Biden has frequently attacked the immigration policy of former President Donald Trump. His government counters that his order is unique because it has multiple humanitarian exclusions. Limits would not apply, for instance, to victims of human trafficking, unaccompanied minors, or people experiencing serious medical difficulties.

“The Securing the Border rule is legal, important to enhancing border security, and is already having an impact,” a Department of Homeland Security spokesman said, declining to comment on the complaint. We shall keep putting the contested actions into practice; they are still in force.

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Joe Biden | AP news Image

President Joe Biden Faces First Lawsuit Over New Asylum Crackdown At The Border

The immigrant rights organisations contend in the complaint that exceptions are “extremely limited.”

The White House forwarded questions regarding the complaint to the Justice Department, which declined to comment. According to White House spokesman Angelo Fernández Hernández, Biden’s action was required because congressional Republicans thwarted a bipartisan agreement that “would have provided critical resources, statutory changes, and additional personnel to the border.”

As per Biden’s decision, migrants who show up at the border without expressing a fear of going back to their own countries will be deported from the US in a few days or even hours. Sanctions for those migrants can include a five-year ban on entering the country again or criminal prosecution.

Proponents of the lawsuit contended that it is the migrants’ responsibility to exhibit fear, which is sometimes known as displaying fear.

“In practice, noncitizens who have just crossed the border, and may be hungry, exhausted, ill, or traumatised after fleeing persecution in their home countries and danger in Mexico, are likely to be intimidated by armed, uniformed Border Patrol officers, and are thus unlikely to ‘manifest’ their fear of return,” the lawsuit states.

However, a U.S. asylum officer will evaluate anyone who indicates fear or a desire to seek asylum, but to a higher level than is now in place. Should they clear the screening, they are eligible for more restricted humanitarian protection, such as the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which forbids sending someone back to a nation where they are likely to be subjected to torture.

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Joe Biden | NY Times Image

President Joe Biden Faces First Lawsuit Over New Asylum Crackdown At The Border

These revised, more stringent asylum limitations do not apply to migrants who utilise the CBP One app while in Mexico to make an appointment to present themselves at an official border crossing point to seek admission. The app is a component of the administration’s attempts to persuade migrants to attempt to enter the nation through its preferred routes rather than just crossing the border, locating a Border Patrol agent, and turning themselves in.

Advocates did, however, provide a laundry list of grievances against the app in the case. Many immigrants, for instance, lack the Wi-Fi connectivity or cellphone data plan required to use it. While some migrants are illiterates, others do not speak any of the languages the programme offers. And compared to the amount of migrants wishing to enter the nation, there are only a few spots open each day.

“As a result, numerous asylum seekers have been forced to wait indefinitely under precarious conditions in Mexico in the hope of obtaining scarce appointments,” the lawsuit says.

Together with the ACLU, additional organisations filing the complaint were the Texas Civil Rights Project, Jenner & Block LLP, National Immigrant Justice Centre, Centre for Gender & Refugee Studies, and ACLU of the District of Columbia.

SOURCE – (AP)

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