The day ended with a bang with the conviction of former president Donald Trump’s business empire, the Trump Organization, being convicted on all counts in a criminal fraud trial in New York. Trump himself was never charged and former CFO Allen Weisselberg took the bullet. The parallel civil case in New York, in which Trump and his family are directly accused, continues.
This blog is closing now, but very shortly Guardian US is launching a brand new special politics liveblog to follow the culmination of the Georgia Senate run-off race between Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker. My west coast colleague Maanvi Singh is the reporter on this and will bring you all the developments as they happen tonight.
Here’s how the day went so far:
Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg said that the fraud conviction against the Trump Organization exposed a criminal case that was all about “greed and cheating”.
New York state attorney general Letitia James tweeted about the criminal conviction and noted that her parallel civil case against the Trump family business show that “former presidents must be held to the same standards as everyday Americans”. Trump himself is accused.
The Trump Organization, the family business empire of former US president Donald Trump, was convicted on all 17 counts by jury in the company’s criminal trial in New York. Trump himself was not charged.
Law enforcement officers, receiving medals today for defending the US Capitol against the insurrection by extremist supporters of then-president Donald Trump on 6 January 2021, snubbed Senate and House Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy when they proffered their hands to shake.
The bipartisan House special committee investigating the Capitol attack is expected to make criminal referrals to the justice department soon. Panel chair Bennie Thompson indicated that decisions have been made on whom to blame.
It’s the last day of voting in the Georgia Senate run-off. Polls close shortly this evening and there could be a result tonight … stay tuned.
Here’s former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg being frogmarched into court today.
Here are some reactions from legal-watchers in the media.
A reminder that Trump didn’t extricate himself from his business interests when he won the 2016 presidential election. See this thread.
Trump’s having a fraught fall.
There is a parallel civil case ongoing against the Trump Organization via the office of the New York state attorney general, Letitia James.
She and Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg are synchronizing tweets this afternoon, after the landmark criminal verdict in the DA’s criminal case.
Here’s James’s pinned tweet from back in September.
Trump wasn’t personally charged in the criminal case but is squarely in the hot seat in the civil case, as are his three oldest children, Don Jr, Ivanka and Eric.
James’s $250 million lawsuit alleging fraud aims to result in a ban on Trump and his family being able to do further business in the state of New York.
The case is due to come to trial next October.
The criminal case against the Trump Organization was started by the previous Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance and continued by his successor, Alvin Bragg.
Bragg said in a statement today:
In Manhattan, no corporation is above the law. For 13 years the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corporation got away with a scheme that awarded high-level executives with lavish perks and compensation while intentionally concealing the benefits from the taxing authorities to avoid paying taxes.
Today’s verdict holds these Trump companies accountable for their long-running criminal scheme, in addition to Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, who has pled guilty, testified at trial and will now be sentenced to serve time in jail.”
The original indictment against the former president’s business empire read: “Beginning from at least 2005 to on or about June 30, 2021, the defendants and others devised and operated a scheme to defraud federal, New York State, and New York City tax authorities.
“One of the largest individual beneficiaries of the defendants’ scheme was Allen Weisselberg. During the operation of the scheme, the defendants arranged for Weisselberg to receive in direct employee compensation from the Trump Organization in the approximate amount of $1.76 million.”
None of the Trumps was charged.
The tax fraud case against Donald Trump’s business empire was brought by the Manhattan district attorney.
A jury found two corporate entities at the Trump Organization guilty on all 17 counts brought in this trial, including conspiracy charges and falsifying business records, the Associated Press reports.
The verdict came on the second day of deliberations following a trial in which the Trump Org was accused of being complicit in a scheme by top executives to avoid paying personal income taxes on job perks such as rent-free apartments and luxury cars.
The conviction is a validation for New York prosecutors, who have spent three years investigating the former president and his businesses, though the penalties aren’t expected to be severe enough to jeopardize the future of Trump’s company.
As punishment, the Trump Organization could be fined up to $1.6 million — a relatively small amount for a company of its size, though the conviction might make some of its future deals more complicated.
Trump, who recently announced he was running for president again, has said the case against his company was part of a politically motivated “witch hunt” waged against him by vindictive Democrats.
Trump himself was not on trial but prosecutors alleged he “knew exactly what was going on” with the scheme, though he and the company’s lawyers have denied that.
The case against the company was built largely around testimony from the Trump Organization’s former finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, who previously pleaded guilty to charges that he manipulated the company’s books and his own compensation package to illegally reduce his taxes.
Neither Donald Trump himself or any of his family members were charged.
Weisselberg took the stand having made a plea deal and attempted to take responsibility for the crimes.
This case is unrelated to the civil case brought against the Trump Organization by New York state attorney general Letitia James.
It’s a sweep for prosecutors of the Trump Organization in the trial in New York.
Tax fraud, conspiracy, the whole nine yards.
Trump Organization found guilty of tax fraud
A jury in New York has convicted the Trump Organization of criminal tax fraud in a major blow for the former president.
Although Donald Trump was not personally on trial, prosecutors insisted he was fully aware of the 15-year scheme in which they said executives were enriched by off-the-books perks to make up for lower salaries, reducing the company’s tax liabilities.
The 12-person jury in New York’s state court was sent out to deliberate on Monday morning after a six-week trial in which Trump Organization lawyers pinned blame for the fraud solely on the greed of longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg.
The former close ally of Trump accepted a plea deal earlier this year admitting fraud in exchange for a five-month prison sentence. Prosecutors laid out a case heavily reliant on Weisselberg’s testimony.
McConnell criticized Donald Trump today about Trump’s previous calls to terminate the constitution.
Without mentioning Trump’s name, McConnell said that Trump would likely have a harder time winning the presidency for a second time.
Anyone seeking the presidency who thinks that the Constitution could somehow be suspended or not followed, it seems to me would have a very hard time being sworn in as the president of the United States.
McConnell would not directly answer questions if he would support Trump as the 2024 Republican presidential nominee.
Other Republicans have attempted to distance themselves from Trump following Trump’s comments about the constitution, Politico reported.
A former West Virginian politician that went to prison over his role in the Jan 6 attacks announced that he is running for Congress, reported Politico.
Derrick Evans announced his run for Congress on Tuesday:
After months of soul-searching, I am ready to step back into the political arena. Right now, my eyes are on Capitol Hill.
More from Politico:
A source familiar with the bid said Evans would explore running in the district currently held by Rep. Carol Miller (R-W.Va.). The state’s other House seat is open, as Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) mounts a Senate bid against Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), but Miller has no plans for a similar bid.
Read the full article here.
Here’s video of McConnell answering questions as to why representatives of Capitol police would not shake his hand during the ceremony:
The Justice Department special counsel has issued its first known subpoenas in an investigation into Trump documents and Jan 6.
More from the Associated Press:
Special counsel Jack Smith has subpoenaed officials in Wisconsin, Michigan and Arizona, asking for communications with or involving former President Donald Trump, his campaign aides and a list of allies involved in his efforts to try to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
The requests, issued to Milwaukee and Dane counties in Wisconsin; Wayne County, Michigan; and Maricopa County, Arizona, are the first known subpoenas by Smith, who was named special counsel last month by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Smith is overseeing the Justice Department’s investigation into the presence of classified documents at Trump’s Florida estate as well as key aspects of a separate probe involving the violent storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and Trump’s frantic efforts to remain in power.
The subpoenas, first reported by The Washington Post, are the clearest indication yet that Smith’s work will include an examination of the fake electors that were part of Trump’s efforts to subvert the election count and certification.
Read the full article here.
More on the Congressional gold medal ceremony for officers who defended the Capitol during the Jan 6 attack.
Video from the ceremony shows representatives for those receiving the award shaking hands with Senator majority leader Chuck Schumer, but walking past Republicans Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy.
From C-SPAN’s Howard Mortman:
Mike Fanone, a former police officer who was attacked by rioters during the Jan 6 attack, says he was heckled during the Congressional gold medal ceremony today.
From NBC News:
Jean-Pierre was asked about any last-minute efforts for Biden to boost Warnock ahead of Georgia’s runoff election today.
Jean-Pierre said she had to respond carefully given the Hatch Act, which limits political activity some civil service members can participate in.
But Jean-Pierre pointed to phone banking Biden did for Warnock last week in Boston, where Biden raised money on Warnock’s behalf.
Jean-Pierre said: “He’s always said he’s willing to do whatever it takes, whatever Senator Warnock needs, for him to be helpful.”
Here are comments from Jean-Pierre from yesterday about Republicans criticism of Biden when it comes to the US-Mexico border .
From the Guardian’s David Smith:
Joe Biden is now on his way to Arizona, where he will visit a semiconductor facility.
A gaggle is now taking place on Air Force One, led by press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Listen here.
Biden is facing pushback from Republicans for his decision not to visit the US-Mexico border during this trip, with Biden telling a reporter from Fox News that “there are more important things going on.”
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has renominated his leadership team, including a new position for Hawaii senator Brian Schatz to the newly created deputy conference secretary position, reported Politico.
According to text of the letter, Schumer will nominate:
- Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) for Democratic whip
- Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) for chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) for chair of the Steering Committee
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for vice chair of the conference
- Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) for vice chair of the conference
- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for chair of outreach
- Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) for vice chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee
- Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) for Senate Democratic Conference secretary
- Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) for vice chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee
- Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) for vice chair of outreach
- Schatz for deputy Democratic Conference secretary
More on McCarthy’s remarks at the Congressional gold medal ceremony.
From the Associated Press’ Farnoush Amiri:
More on the Jan 6 committee’s announcement about upcoming criminal referrals.
Committee chairman Bennie G Thompson told reporters today that the committee has decided to make at least one criminal referral.
Thompson did not elaborate on who the referral is for or how many more could be coming.
From NBC News’ Garrett Haake:
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy is also presenting Congressional gold medals to officers, with some calling out McCarthy’s participation in the ceremony given his vote to overturn the 2020 election results.
From the Huffington Post’s Igor Bobic:
Officers who defended the US Capitol during the 6 January attack are receiving a Congressional gold medal.
The ceremony, which is set to start shortly, is being led by top members of the House and Senate.
A Congressional gold medal is the highest honor that Congress can bestow, reports the Associated Press.
January 6 panel: 'We have made decisions on criminal referrals'
Another major piece of outstanding business House Democrats must wrap up before the end of the year: the January 6 committee.
The bipartisan panel looking into the attack on the Capitol is expected to make criminal referrals to the justice department based on the results of its investigation, and Axios reports chair Bennie Thompson said lawmakers know who they intend to name:
The panel’s authorization expires at the end of the year, and it’s almost certain the incoming Republican House majority won’t reinstate it. The biggest name the January 6 committee could refer for charges is, of course, Donald Trump.
The Guardian’s politics live blog is now in the hands of Gloria Oladipo, who will keep you informed on the latest news throughout the day.
Congress truly is going all out on lawmaking as the year draws to a close, with a pair of senators reportedly trying to reach a compromise on immigration reform.
Republican senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are said to be working on the deal, which Politico reports could address a host of immigration-related issues:
It would be a major accomplishment is Sinema and Tillis can pull of an immigration reform deal, since Congress has tried and failed to do so under multiple presidents for years.
Georgia’s Senate run-off election is one of several massively expensive races that have taken place this year, but despite all the dollars spent, many Republicans have come out behind, as Tom Perkins reports:
With the power balance in Congress at stake in this year’s midterm elections, the GOP money machine kicked into high gear. Spending on advertisements and drumming up votes was fueled by hundreds of millions of dollars from the party’s mega-donors and Super Pacs. Many donors’ spending figures marked new records.
Their return on investment, however, is probably not what they had hoped: some donors who spent eight figures notched zero wins in the Senate, while others spent far more money on losing candidates than winners. In the midterms, some of the biggest losers were Republican donors.
Among the clearest of those losers is Mehmet Oz, who self-funded much of his own failed run for office – loaning his Pennsylvania US Senate campaign about $22m, or about 55% of the roughly $40m he raised.
The Georgia Senate race is the last major outstanding election left from last month’s midterms, in which Democratic candidates made a surprisingly strong showing nationwide, but nonetheless narrowly lost control of the House. While they are assured control of the Senate for the next two years, both parties are fighting hard for a win in Georgia. Here’s more from the Guardian as to why:
The winner of Tuesday’s midterm election runoff for one of Georgia’s two seats in the US Senate will make history.
Raphael Warnock became the first Black senator from Georgia when he won the 2020 presidential election runoff that helped tip the upper chamber into Democratic control, boosting the party in its capture of the House, the Senate and the White House.
Now, as Georgia heads for the last day of voting in the latest runoff, Warnock hopes to add another distinction – winning a full six-year term in the Senate.
Standing in the way is another Black man, Republican challenger Herschel Walker. And whoever wins will be the first Black person elected from Georgia to a full Senate term.
The Hill reports that the House will delay its vote on a bill to protect same-sex and interracial marriage rights to Thursday:
The Respect for Marriage Act is one of several pieces of legislation Congress is trying to get through in the final weeks of the year with Democrats still in charge of both the House and Senate.
Yesterday, Punchbowl News reported the House’s vote on the bill – on of the last steps necessary before it heads to Joe Biden’s desk – would probably be delayed due to a dispute over a defense funding bill, which both parties consider to be an end-of-the-year priority.
It’s election day in Georgia, and both Democratic senator Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker have brought out some of the biggest names in the state to campaign for them.
Atlanta hip-hop institution Jermaine Dupri is in Warnock’s corner, as he makes clear in this video:
Walker, meanwhile, has the support of the state’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, who just won re-election himself.
A note about Kemp: he’s famous for defying Donald Trump’s attempts to meddle in the 2020 election results in the state, while Walker was endorsed by the former president, but whatever tension might exist there hasn’t prevented the governor from endorsing his Republican counterpart.
Trump is all in for Walker, writing on his Truth social account, “VOTE TODAY FOR HERSCHEL, he will never let you down!”
Meanwhile, Barack Obama returned to the state last week to make a closing argument in favor of Warnock:
Polls open in Georgia as Senate showdown between Warnock and Walker goes to voters
Good morning, US politics blog readers. Polls have opened in Georgia’s runoff election, where voters will decide whether to send Democrat Raphael Warnock back to the Senate for another six years, or replace him with Republican opponent Herschel Walker. A victory by Warnock – who opinion polls say has the edge – would help Democrats pad their majority in the Senate, but if Walker triumphs, it would reassure the GOP that Georgia remains a red state, and put them closer to retaking the chamber in 2024. Whoever wins will make history by becoming the first Black senator elected to a full term from Georgia. Polls close at 7pm eastern time.
Here’s what else is happening today:
Joe Biden is heading to Arizona to promote the Chips act, which is intended to boost American technological prowess. He tours a semiconductor manufacturer in Phoenix, then makes remarks at 4 pm eastern time.
The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and other lawmakers will at 11am eastern time hold a ceremony honoring police who defended the Capitol on January 6.
The legislative gears may have ground to a halt in Congress due to a dispute over a defense funding bill. It remains to be seen whether the House of Representatives will vote, as planned, today on a bill to protect same-sex and interracial marriage rights, one of a heaping pile of legislation both chambers are trying to get through before the end of the year.