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 9,2024

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Deir al-Balah, Jun 9: At least 274 Palestinians were killed and hundreds more were wounded in the Israeli raid that rescued four hostages held by Hamas, Gaza's Health Ministry said Sunday. 

Hamas fighters chose not to execute the hostages when the Israeli occupation army carried out the complex daytime operation deep inside the territory.

The killing of so many Palestinians, including babies, children and women, in a raid that Israelis celebrated as a stunning success because all four hostages were rescued alive, showed the heavy cost of such operations on top of the already soaring toll of the 8-month-long war ignited by Hamas' October 7 attack.

Scores of hostages are believed to be held in densely populated areas or inside Hamas' labyrinth of tunnels, making rescue attempts extremely complex and risky. A similar raid in February rescued two hostages while leaving 74 Palestinians dead.

The operation deep into Nuseirat, a built-up refugee camp in central Gaza dating back to the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, was the largest rescue since October 7.

So far, the Tel Aviv regime has killed at least 36,801 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and injured 83,680 others in the Gaza Strip. 

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News Network
June 17,2024

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended greetings to the President of Maldives Mohamed Muizzu on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha, even as relations between the two nations have soured since the pro-China president assumed office in November last year. 

In a press release, the Indian High Commission in Maldives shared the prime minister's Eid wishes for the president and the people of Maldives. 

"On the auspicious occasion of Eid Al-Adha, Hon'ble Prime Minister of India @NarendraModi extended warm greetings to His Excellency President of Maldives Dr. @MMuizzu, the Government & the people of the Republic of Maldives," it said in a post on X.

In his message, PM Modi "emphasised the values of sacrifice, compassion and brotherhood, embodied by this festival, which are essential in building a peaceful and inclusive world."

"Prime Minister also highlighted the celebration of the festival, as part of India's multi-cultural heritage, across the length and breadth of India with fervour and gaiety," the message read.

Soon after being elected, Muizzu demanded a complete withdrawal of Indian military personnel from the archipelago. Amid increasing tensions, Indian tourists had announced a boycott of the island nation after three Maldivian ministers made derogatory comments about Prime Minister Modi following his visit to Lakshadweep.

But India extended an olive branch by inviting him to the swearing-in ceremony of PM Modi. Union Minister S Jaishankar also held a bilateral meeting with the Maldivian President while he was in New Delhi. "Delighted to call on President Dr Mohamed Muizzu of Maldives today in New Delhi. Look forward to India and Maldives working together closely," he had said on 'X'.

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Agencies
June 15,2024

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Mount Arafat, June 15: Following the footsteps of prophets beneath a burning sun, Muslims from around the world congregated Saturday at a sacred hill in Saudi Arabia for intense, daylong worship and reflection.

The ritual at Mount Arafat, known as the hill of mercy, is considered the peak of the Hajj pilgrimage. It is often the most memorable for pilgrims, who stand shoulder to shoulder, feet to feet, asking God for mercy, blessings, prosperity and good health. The mount is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of Makkah.

It’s believed that Prophet Muhammad delivered his final speech, known as the Farewell Sermon, at the sacred mount 1,435 years ago. In the sermon, the prophet called for equality and unity among Muslims.

“It’s indescribable,” Ahmed Tukeyia, an Egyptian pilgrim, said on his arrival Friday evening at a tent camp at the foot of Mount Arafat.

Hajj is one of the largest religious gatherings on earth. The rituals officially started Friday when pilgrims moved from Makkah’s Grand Mosque to Mina, a desert plain just outside the city.

Saudi authorities expect the number of pilgrims this year to exceed 2 million, approaching pre-coronavirus pandemic levels.

The pilgrimage is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. All Muslims are required to make the five-day Hajj at least once in their lives if they are physically and financially able to make the demanding pilgrimage.

The rituals largely commemorate the Qur’an’s accounts of Prophet Ibrahim, his son Prophet Ismail and Ismail’s mother Hajjar — or Abraham and Ismael as they are named in the Bible.

The time of year when the Hajj takes place varies, given that it is set for five days in the second week of Dhu Al-Hijjah, the last month in the Islamic lunar calendar.

Most of the Hajj rituals are held outdoors with little if any shade. When it falls in the summer months, temperatures can soar to over 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). The Health Ministry has cautioned that temperatures at the holy sites could reach 48 C (118 F). It urged pilgrims to use umbrellas and drink more water to stay hydrated.

After Saturday’s worship in Arafat, pilgrims will travel a few kilometers (miles) to a site known as Muzdalifa to collect pebbles that they will use in the symbolic stoning of pillars representing the devil back in Mina.

Pilgrims then return to Mina for three days, coinciding with the festive Eid Al-Adha holiday, when financially able Muslims around the world slaughter livestock and distribute the meat to poor people. Afterward, they return to Makkah for a final circumambulation, known as Farewell Tawaf.

Once the Hajj is over, men are expected to shave their heads, and women to snip a lock of hair in a sign of renewal. Most of the pilgrims then leave Makkah for the city of Medina, some 340 kilometers (210 miles) away, to pray in Prophet Muhammad’s tomb, the Sacred Chamber. The tomb is part of the prophet’s mosque, which is one of the three holiest sites in Islam, along with the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

In recent years, Saudi authorities have made significant efforts to improve access and avoid deadly accidents. Tens of thousands of security personnel were deployed across the city, especially around the holy sites, to control the crowds, and the government built a high-speed rail link to ferry people between holy sites in the city, which has been jammed with traffic during the Hajj season. Pilgrims enter through special electronic gates.

Saudi authorities have also expanded and renovated the Grand Mosque where cranes are seen around some of its seven minarets as construction was underway in the holy site.

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