Trump indicted over hush money to porn star: 1st US ex-president to be criminally charged

News Network
March 31, 2023

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Donald Trump has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury after a probe into hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, becoming the first former US president to face criminal charges even as he makes another run for the White House.

The charges, arising from an investigation led by Democratic Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, could reshape the 2024 presidential race. Trump previously said he would continue campaigning for the Republican Party's nomination if charged with a crime.

In a statement, Trump said he was "completely innocent."

"This is Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history," he said, providing no evidence. Shortly after, Trump appealed to supporters to provide money for a legal defense.

The specific charges are not yet known and the indictment will likely be unsealed by a judge in the coming days. Trump will have to travel to Manhattan for fingerprinting and other processing at that point.

His lawyers Susan Necheles and Joseph Tacopina said they will "vigorously fight" the charges, while another lawyer, Alina Habba, predicted he would be vindicated.

Necheles said she did not know when Trump would surrender.

Bragg's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Manhattan investigation is one of several legal challenges facing Trump, and the charges could hurt his presidential comeback attempt. Some 44% of Republicans said he should drop out of the race if he is indicted, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released last week.

Trump's allies and fellow Republicans blasted the indictment as politically motivated, while Democrats said he is not immune from the rule of law.

The White House declined to comment.

Outside the courthouse, four protesters silently held signs criticising Trump but there was no evidence of unrest. Authorities bolstered security around the courthouse after Trump called for nationwide protests on March 18, recalling his charged rhetoric ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has said she received money in exchange for keeping silent about a sexual encounter she had with Trump in 2006.

The former president's personal lawyer Michael Cohen has said he coordinated with Trump on the payments to Daniels and to a second woman, former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also said she had a sexual relationship with him. Trump has denied having affairs with either woman.

"No one is above the law," Daniels's lawyer Clark Brewster said on Twitter.

Cohen pleaded guilty to a campaign-finance violation in 2018 and served more than a year in prison. Federal prosecutors said he acted at Trump's direction.

Cohen said he stood by his testimony and the evidence he provided to prosecutors. "Accountability matters" he said in a statement.

No former or sitting US president has ever faced criminal charges.

Bragg's office last year won the criminal conviction of the businessman-turned-politician's real estate company for tax fraud.

Trump also faces two criminal investigations by a special counsel appointed by US Attorney General Merrick Garland and one by a local prosecutor in Georgia.

Trump served as president from 2017 to 2021, governing as a right-wing populist. He was impeached twice by the House of Representatives, once in 2019 over his conduct regarding Ukraine and again in 2021 over the attack on the US Capitol by his supporters. He was acquitted by the Senate both times.

Trump falsely claims that his 2020 re-election loss to Democrat Joe Biden was the result of widespread voting fraud.

He leads his early rivals for his party's nomination, holding the support of 44% of Republicans in a March Reuters/Ipsos poll, compared with 30% support for his nearest rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has yet to announce his candidacy. Biden is expected to seek re-election.

Trump in 2018 initially disputed knowing anything about the payment to Daniels. He later acknowledged reimbursing Cohen for the payment, which he called a "simple private transaction."

Cohen testified before the Manhattan grand jury, as did David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer. The tabloid publication bought the rights to McDougal's story about her alleged relationship with Trump for $150,000 but never published it, a method known as "catch and kill" used to bury damaging information about a third party.

In the case that led to the conviction of the Trump Organization on tax fraud charges, Bragg declined to charge Trump himself with financial crimes related to his business practices, prompting two prosecutors who worked on the probe to resign.

Among Trump's ongoing legal woes are a criminal investigation led by Fani Willis, the Democratic district attorney in Georgia's Fulton County, into whether he unlawfully tried to overturn his 2020 election defeat in that state.

Special counsel Jack Smith is separately investigating Trump's handling of classified government documents after leaving office and his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

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News Network
June 28,2024

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A day after a Vokkaliga seer publicly urged Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to step down in favour of his deputy D K Shivakumar, a prominent seer from the dominant Veerashaiva-Lingayat community on Friday called for ministers from his community to be considered if there is a change in the CM post.

Channasiddharam Swamiji of Srishail Peetham stated that if the Congress decides to change the state chief minister or create additional deputy chief minister positions, preference should be given to legislators from the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community.

Speaking to reporters at Yadur village in Chikkodi taluk, the seer emphasized that people from the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community have voted for Congress in large numbers.

"If the Congress wants to change the chief minister or create more deputy chief minister posts, community members like M B Patil, Ishwar Khandre, S S Mallikarjun, and veteran Shamnur Shivashankarappa should be considered. During the government formation, Veerashaiva-Lingayat votes were decisive. Therefore, Veerashaiva-Lingayat ministers should be given priority and their experience utilized. I urge that they be given an opportunity," he said.

Talks in this regard have been held with Kashi, Ujjani, and other seers of Panchapeethas, and there is an understanding about the chief minister's post within the Congress. The grand old party should walk the talk, he added.

On Thursday, Vishwa Vokkaliga Mahasamastana Math seer Kumara Chandrashekaranatha Swamiji had raised the pitch for Shivakumar as CM during the Kempegowda Jayanti event, which commemorates the birth anniversary of Bengaluru's founder, in the presence of both Siddaramaiah and the deputy chief minister on the dais.

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Agencies
June 29,2024

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Bengaluru: Amid raging debate over the possibility of change in Chief Minister and demand for three more deputy chief ministers in Karnataka, state Congress president D K Shivakumar on Saturday asked partymen and leaders to refrain from issuing public statements on the issue and warned of disciplinary action.

Shivakumar, who is also the Deputy Chief Minister urged partymen to "shut their mouth" in the interest of the party, as he also requested seers not to interfere in political matters.

There is growing demand within the state cabinet to have three more deputy chief ministers from Veerashaiva-Lingayat, SC/ST and minority communities. Currently, Shivakumar from the dominant Vokkaliga community is the only Deputy Chief Minister in the Siddaramaiah cabinet.

A Vokkaliga seer Kumara Chandrashekaranatha Swamiji of Vishwa Vokkaliga Mahasamastana Math on Thursday had publicly urged Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to step down and make way for his deputy Shivakumar.

Following this a Veearashaiva-Lingayat seer -- Srisaila Jagadguru Channa Siddharama Panditaradhya Swamiji on Friday said ministers from his community should be considered for the CM's post in case there is a leadership change, while also pitching for them to be given priority in the event of creation of additional Deputy CM posts.

"There is no discussion on any Deputy Chief Minister nor there is any question about the Chief Minister. Swamiji (Vokkaliga seer) out of affection towards me might have spoken about me. That's all. I request -- I don't need anyone's recommendation. For the work we have done, our party high command will decide," Shivakumar said in response to a question whether he had discussed with the high command the demand for more DCMs during the Delhi visit.

Addressing reporters here, he said, "Kharge (AICC President Mallikarjun Kharge), Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and I, in the interest of the party, have decided how to function. So there is no need for any MLA or minister or Swamiji to speak. If they (seers) bless us it's enough."

There is no need for any minister to comment on the CM or Deputy CM issue in public or before the media, Shivakumar said and warned that "if any MLA or anyone from the party raises it, the AICC or I will be forced to issue notice and take disciplinary action. Discipline is important in the party. There is nothing without discipline."

"I know the struggle that has gone to bring the party to this level, there is no need for any of them to speak now."

Responding to a query, the Deputy CM said, "In the interest of the party I'm telling everyone -- if you shut your mouth it will be good for the party."

Asked about seers interfering in politics, he said, "No swamiji had spoken other than now...I request all of them with folded hands, don't interfere in political matters."

A section within the Congress is of the opinion that the statement by the ministers seeking three more Deputy CMs was part of a plan by Siddaramaiah's camp to keep Shivakumar in check, amid talks that he might seek the CM post after two-and-half years of this government's tenure, and to counter his influence both in the government and party.

There is also a feeling that the Vokkaliga seer publicly urging Siddaramaiah to step down and make way for Shivakumar is a counter to the CM from the KPCC president's camp.

There was stiff competition between Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar for the chief minister's post after the declaration of Assembly election results in May last year, and the Congress had managed to convince the latter and made him the Deputy Chief Minister.

There were some reports back then of a compromise having been reached based on a "rotational chief minister formula", according to which Shivakumar will become CM after two-and-half years, but those have not been officially confirmed by the party.

Shivakumar has made no secret of his ambition to become the CM, while Siddaramaiah had sought public support during the Lok Sabha polls so that the Congress wins the maximum number of seats in the state, which would strengthen his position.

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News Network
July 7,2024

Mangaluru: Dakshina Kannada district recorded 300 infant deaths between the time of birth and one year of age, with an infant mortality rate (IMR) of 10.3 in 2023-24.

According to health and family welfare department statistics, out of 29,027 live births, 180 boy and 120 girl infants died between April 2023 and March 2024.

Meanwhile, 10 pregnant women died, recording a maternal mortality rate (MMR) of 34.4 in the district in 2023-24.

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