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•Manhattan District Attorney says thorough investigation led to former US president’s indictment

In the city that made him famous, under extraordinary courtroom security, United States’ former president, Donald Trump, yesterday, pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts related to payments to silence an adult film actress during his 2016 presidential campaign.

He made history as the first former or sitting US president to be criminally charged.

According to Washington Post, the charges — falsifying business records in the first degree — were announced at an arraignment hearing yesterday afternoon, and detailed in an indictment released immediately after.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was investigating reimbursement payments Trump made to his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, who during Trump’s candidacy in 2016, paid $130,000 to actress Stephanie Clifford, known professionally as Stormy Daniels, to prevent her from disclosing an alleged sexual encounter years earlier with Trump.

Trump denied the sexual encounter, which Daniels said occurred years before the campaign.

Assistant Manhattan district attorney Chris Connolly told the court that Trump falsified business records in order to undermine the integrity of the 2016 election, disguised false payments in violation of election laws and worked with others to suppress damaging information.

He said Trump’s lawyer, presumably Cohen, paid Daniels for the purpose of avoiding negative attention, and that Trump reimbursed Cohen in monthly payments afterward, disguising those payments and also disguising them in tax records. The intent to further another crime is a felony under New York law.

Connolly did not ask for a gag order at the arraignment but did ask for New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan to address recent public statements and what he called threatening communications from Trump, including a social media post two weeks ago in which the former president warned of potential “death and destruction” if he was charged in the case.

Trump, for four years, one of the most powerful people in the world, left his penthouse at Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan in a private motorcade early Tuesday afternoon, accompanied by New York City police vehicles. The procession arrived at the courthouse about 14 minutes later, and Trump pumped his fist to supporters before entering the building to be taken into custody and fingerprinted.

Around 2:30 p.m., television news camera captured an unsmiling Trump — in his trademark blue suit and red necktie, but now a criminal defendant — entering the courtroom on the 15th floor for his arraignment.

Trump was flanked at the defendant’s table by four of his attorneys: Todd Blanche, Susan Necheles, Joe Tacopina and Boris Epshteyn.

The former president adjusted his suit jacket when those present were asked to stand as Merchan entered.

As the hearing ended, Trump stood up at the defense table and again adjusted his blazer. He looked around the courtroom and glared for a few seconds at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who was seated in the front row. Trump then departed in his motorcade almost immediately.

The prosecution of a former president sets up an extraordinary test for the judicial system amid a viciously partisan political environment: Trump, who is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and leading in most polls, already has verbally attacked Merchan and Bragg (D), calling the case a politically motivated “witch hunt.”

Trump, 76, who gained celebrity as a New York-based real estate and reality television mogul before launching his 2016 campaign, has denied any wrongdoing. Aides had said Trump would make remarks to the media Tuesday evening at his Mar-a-Lago home and private club in south Florida, where he has spent most of his post-presidency.

On March 30, Donald Trump became the first former president in US history to be charged with a crime. The unprecedented case would test the judicial system and have far-reaching implications across US politics.

He was charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. The case involves Trump’s alleged involvement with hush-money payments to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

There are multiple ongoing investigations involving Trump, including an investigation of classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago; a criminal probe by the Justice Department of the Jan. 6 insurrection; an investigation into the Georgia election results; and the lawsuit over Trump’s business practices in New York.

Meanwhile, Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg told reporters after the arraignment of Trump that a “thorough investigation” led to his office’s decision to charge Trump with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

“This is the business capital of the world,” Bragg said about New York City. “We regularly do cases involving false business statements. The bedrock of the basis for business integrity and a well-functioning business marketplace is accurate record-keeping.”

 The charges were announced after Bragg conducted a grand jury investigation related to a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels made by Trump’s former attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen in the days before the 2016 presidential election.

At a news conference, Bragg alleged that Trump “repeatedly made false statements on New York business records” and “caused others to make false statements.”

“Why did Donald Trump repeatedly make these false statements?” Bragg said. “The evidence will show he did so to cover up crimes relating to the 2016 election.”

Bragg accused Trump of “paying Mr. Cohen for fictitious legal services in 2017 to cover up actual crime committed the prior year.” To pay Cohen back, “they planned to mischaracterize the repayments to Mr. Cohen as income to the New York State tax authorities,” Bragg said.

In addition to the payment made to Daniels, the indictment also detailed an alleged “catch and kill” scheme by Trump, Cohen and American Media Inc., which “agreed to identify and suppress negative stories about him,” CBSNEWS reported.

Both Cohen and American Media, Inc., have “admitted to committing illegal conduct in connection with the scheme,” according to court documents. In August 2018, AMI, the owner and publisher of magazines and supermarket tabloids including the National Enquirer, “admitted in a non-prosecution agreement that it made a payment to a source of a story to ensure that the source ‘did not publicize damaging allegations’ about the Defendant ‘before the 2016 presidential election and thereby influence that election,’” according to a statement of facts filed by prosecutors along with the indictment.

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Foreign News

Biden Congratulates Tinubu, Says Nigeria’s Success Is The World’s Success



Biden Tinubu

President Joe Biden of the United States said he looks forward to continuing to work with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to support economic growth, advance security, and promote respect for human rights in Nigeria.

Tinubu was sworn in as Nigeria’s president on Monday by the country’s Chief Justice, Olukayode Ariwoola, at Eagles Square in Abuja.

In a congratulatory message to Tinubu, Biden stated that Nigeria’s success is the world’s success as Africa’s largest democracy and economic nation.

“On behalf of the people of the United States, I send warm wishes to the government and people of Nigeria as they inaugurate a new president,” Biden said

“My administration has worked to strengthen ties between the United States and Nigeria, and I look forward to continuing this work with President Tinubu to support economic growth, advance security, and promote respect for human rights.”

Biden added that the people-to-people connections between the two countries are particularly strong because of the vibrant Nigerian diaspora in the United States.

“As we further deepen our partnership with Nigeria, I look forward to drawing even more on the ideas and energy of this dynamic connection between our countries,” he said.

He also noted that the United States will continue to work closely with Nigeria as a friend and partner to deliver a more peaceful and prosperous future for the world.

“Elected leaders owe it to their people to show that democracy can deliver for their needs,” he added.


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World Leaders Congratulate Turkey’s Victorious Erdogan



Turkey Erdogan

Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin were among world leaders congratulating Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he won Sunday’s historic runoff election to extend his two-decade rule.

– Biden: ‘global challenges’ –
US President Biden said he hoped to work with Erdogan on “shared global challenges”.

“I look forward to continuing to work together as NATO allies on bilateral issues and shared global challenges,” Biden tweeted, making no mention of recent tensions in the bilateral relationship.

– Putin: ‘logical result’ –
Russia’s President Putin, who has collaborated closely with Erdogan on key international issues despite some disagreements, told Turkey’s leader that his win was “the logical result of your dedicated work”.

“Your victory in these elections is the logical result of your dedicated work as head of the Turkish Republic, a clear evidence of the Turkish people’s support for your efforts to strengthen state sovereignty and pursue an independent foreign policy,” Putin said, according to the Kremlin website.

– Von der Leyen: ‘strategic importance’ –
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Commission of the European Union, which Erdogan aspires for Turkey to join, said the bloc wanted to strengthen ties with the country.

“I congratulate (Erdogan) on winning the elections. I look forward to continue building the EU-Turkiye relationship,” she wrote on Twitter, using an alternate spelling for Turkey.

“It is of strategic importance for both the EU and Turkiye to work on advancing this relationship, for the benefit of our people.”

– Stoltenberg: ‘continuing our work together’ –
Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of the NATO military alliance, of which Turkey is a member, also sent congratulations.

“Congratulations President (Erdogan) on your re-election. I look forward to continuing our work together and preparing for the NATO Summit in July,” he tweeted.

– Guterres: ‘strengthening the cooperation’ –
UN chief Antonio Guterres congratulated Erdogan on his re-election, the secretary-general’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement Sunday.

“He looks forward to further strengthening the cooperation between Turkiye and the United Nations,” Dujarric added.

– Macron: ‘immense challenges’ –
French leader Emmanuel Macron said the two nations had “immense challenges” to work on together.

Writing on Twitter, Macron said these included the “return of peace to Europe”.

“With President Erdogan, who I congratulate, we will continue to move forward,” he said.

– Zelensky: ‘security and stability’ –
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the win for Erdogan, who since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has positioned himself as a mediator in the conflict.

“We count on the further strengthening of the strategic partnership for the good of our countries, as well as the strengthening of cooperation for the security and stability of Europe,” Zelensky said in a post on Twitter, where he congratulated Erdogan on his victory.

– Scholz: ‘fresh impetus’ –
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hailed the countries as “close partners and allies” whose “people and economies are deeply intertwined”.

“Congratulations to President Erdogan — together we want to advance our common agenda with a fresh impetus,” Scholz wrote on Twitter.

– Modi: ‘ties will grow’ –
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “I am confident that our bilateral ties and cooperation on global issues will continue to grow in the coming times.”

– Sharif: ‘pillar of strength’ –
Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif said Erdogan was “a pillar of strength for the oppressed Muslims & a fervent voice for their inalienable rights.

“His presidential victory & that of AKP in parliamentary elections is significant in so many ways, reflecting the trust & confidence of the Turkish people in his dynamic leadership,” he tweeted.

– Taliban: ‘service of religion’ –
Prime Minister Al-Haj Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund said he was praying “to the Almighty Allah to grant Turkiye, that has a special regional and global status, further strength, stability and service of religion”.

– UAE: ‘enhance strategic partnership’ –
President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said the UAE looked “forward to working together to further enhance the strategic partnership between our two countries”.


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Japa: It’ll Hurt Our Economy, MP Condemns UK’s Ban On Families Of Foreign Students




A member of the United Kingdom parliament, Carol Monaghan, has condemned the UK’s new immigration policy, which banned international students from bring family members with them from 2024.

Recall that UK Home Office, on Tuesday, also announced that foreign students would be stopped from switching from the student visa route to a work visa until their studies have been completed.

But, reacting to the immigration policy at parliament on Wednesday, Monaghan said the students and their families made valuable contributions to the UK, contributing £40 billion to the economy in 2022.

According to the UK lawmaker, the international students enrich the UK society as they have skills, which have proved useful across key sectors.

Monaghan said, “With labour shortages in healthcare, STEM, IT, to name a few, how can the minister fail to recognise that this policy will aggravate these? I’d like to ask the minister, what assessments have been carried out on the economic impact of this change on the university sector?

“The reality is that many students who come into the UK look beyond their studies and want their families to be part of their experience.

“Without a way for overseas students to bring their families, many will opt to go elsewhere and any drop in international students numbers will cause further harm to universities that are already facing financial difficulties.”

Meanwhile, the UK universities, have also kicked against the country’s new immigration rules.

The Universities UK International (UUK), a body of universities, had said the move was a threat to the country’s global success as a top destination for international talent.

The Director, UUK, Jamie Arrowsmith said, “International students make an invaluable contribution to our universities and to the UK’s economy. Building on the government’s explicit commitments and ambitions, which were clearly set out in the international education strategy, we have seen significant growth since 2019.”

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