A federal judge has ordered several top aides to former President Donald Trump to testify before a grand jury as part of a criminal investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, according to Friday reports by ABC News and CNN.
Trump’s legal team tried to claim executive privilege to get his former aides out of testifying and providing documents to special counsel Jack Smith, who had issued subpoenas as part of a broader probe into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the U.S. Capitol. But in a sealed order last week, Judge Beryl Howell rejected Trump’s efforts and ordered Mark Meadows, his former chief of staff, to testify, among others.
Howell also ordered testimony from John Ratcliffe, Trump’s former director of national intelligence; Robert O’Brien, his former national security adviser; Stephen Miller, his former top aide; and Dan Scavino, his former deputy chief of staff.
Ken Cuccinelli, a former top official at the Department of Homeland Security, was also included in the judge’s order. So were former Trump aides Nick Luna and John McEntee.
Trump’s legal team is expected to appeal Howell’s decision, per ABC News.
Howell in October rejected Trump’s claim of executive privilege to block testimony from some of former Vice President Mike Pence’s top aides, Greg Jacob and Marc Short. In that decision, the judge ruled that it’s up to the current president to assert executive privilege, not a former president.
Tumbling stocks dragged down other major banks across Europe, fuelling fears about a banking sector crisis.
Shares in Deutsche Bank have fallen sharply, dragging down other major European banks and reigniting fears about a widening banking sector crisis.
Germany’s biggest lender dropped more than 14 percent on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in Friday morning trading before clawing back ground in the afternoon to trade 9.5 percent lower, at 8.43 euros ($9.07) a share.
Tumbling bank stocks dragged down markets across Europe on Friday with Germany’s Commerzbank down 7.5 percent, France’s Societe Generale off 5.9 percent and Austria’s Raiffaisen down 5.9 percent.
Deutsche Bank is one of 30 banks considered globally significant financial institutions, so international rules require it to hold higher levels of capital reserves because its failure could cause widespread losses.
The long-troubled bank has become the focus of investor concerns after the collapse of three regional US lenders and the Swiss government-brokered takeover of Credit Suisse by rival UBS triggered market turmoil this month.
The cost of insuring the bank’s debt against a risk of defaulting, known as credit default swaps, has surged as investors fret about the banking sector’s health.
Rising costs on insuring debt were a prelude to Credit Suisse‘s rescue by UBS. That hastily arranged takeover on Sunday and jitters about Credit Suisse’s long-running troubles led its shares to tank and customers to pull out their money.
Asked whether Deutsche Bank could be the next Credit Suisse, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, “There is no reason to be concerned.”
Scholz expressed confidence in Deutsche Bank, saying it had “modernised and organised the way it works. It’s a very profitable bank.”
Speaking in Brussels after a summit of EU leaders, he also said the European banking system was “stable” with strict rules and regulations.
Deutsche Bank said on Friday that it would redeem $1.5bn in tier 2 bonds early. Such a move is normally aimed at boosting confidence in a bank although its shares plunged regardless.
The bank was hit by a string of problems linked to its attempts before the 2008 global financial crisis to compete with Wall Street investment banking giants.
But it launched a major restructuring, which involved thousands of job cuts and a greater focus on Europe, and has returned to financial health. Last year, it booked its highest annual profit since 2007.
European officials said banks in the European Union’s regulatory system, which does not include Credit Suisse, are resilient and have no direct exposure to the failed California-based Silicon Valley Bank and little to Credit Suisse.
Efforts to strengthen banking regulation in recent years “puts us all in a position to say that European banking supervision and the financial system are robust and stable and that we have resilient capitalisation of European banks”, Scholz said.
European leaders, who played down any risk of a possible banking crisis at their summit on Friday, said the financial system is in good shape because they require broad adherence to tougher requirements to keep ready cash on hand to cover deposits.
International negotiators agreed to those rules after the 2008 financial crisis, triggered by the failure of US investment bank Lehman Brothers. US regulators exempted midsized banks, including Silicon Valley Bank, from those safeguards.
Trump made the claim on his social media site Truth Social early Friday.
In a two-part, all-caps screed posted to the site days earlier, Trump claimed he would be arrested on Tuesday, and called on his supporters to “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”
Trump was not arrested Tuesday, and on Thursday, multiple media outlets reported the Manhattan grand jury hearing his case would not meet again until next week.
Both of Trump’s Truth Social posts were interpreted by some as potential calls for violence. The former president repeatedly posted about the situation throughout the week, at one point claiming “the whole Country sees what is going on, and they’re not going to take it anymore.”
Earlier this month, the New York Times reported the Manhattan District Attorney offered Trump a chance to testify in the case, which concerns payments made to Daniels just before the 2016 presidential election by Trump’s then-attorney Michael Cohen.
Trump’s current attorney, Joe Tacopina, has said the former president will willingly surrender to authorities if he’s indicted.
NEW YORK (AP) — Jurors’ names will be kept secret at the upcoming civil trial in a writer’s rape lawsuit against former President Donald Trump, a judge ruled Thursday, citing “a very strong risk” they would otherwise face harassment and more.
Anonymous juries are unusual, particularly outside criminal cases. The Associated Press and the Daily News of New York objected to the plan to conceal the identities of jurors in the trial over columnist E. Jean Carroll’s claim — denied by Trump — that the Republican raped her in the 1990s.
But U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said he was concerned that jurors would be subjected to unwanted attention from the media and “harassment or worse” from supporters of a president who has railed against the judicial process, or from people unhappy with any verdict that might ensue.
“On the basis of the unprecedented circumstances in which this trial will take place, including the extensive pretrial publicity and a very strong risk that jurors will fear harassment, unwanted invasions of their privacy and retaliation,” he wrote, “there is strong reason to believe that the jury needs the protection.”
Carroll’s lawyers declined to comment. Trump lawyer Alina Habba said she didn’t want jurors “to feel any outside pressure or influence” at the trial, set to start late next month.
“Anonymity will help ensure that their decision is based solely on the facts presented to them,” Habba said, insisting those facts would “irrefutably vindicate” Trump.
Besides having their names kept confidential, jurors will be transported to and from court and sequestered from the public while on breaks there.
There is a history of federal courts finding that jurors’ names are public record, and reasoning that such openness quells potential public suspicions about the selection process. But courts also have allowed exceptions to protect the jury, sometimes in cases involving allegations of terrorism, organized crime or prior jury tampering.
Carroll’s case isn’t a criminal one, though it involves an alleged rape. The former Elle magazine advice columnist says Trump forced himself on her in a dressing room in a luxury department store after they met by chance and joked about trying on lingerie.
They were photographed together with their then-spouses at a 1987 social event, an image Trump has dismissed as a momentary encounter he doesn’t remember. He misidentified Carroll as one of his ex-wives when he was shown the picture last year while being questioned under oath in the lawsuit.
The Associated Press generally does not identify people who allege they have been sexually assaulted, unless they come forward publicly, as Carroll has done.
The brother of Bangladeshi journalist Zulkarnain Saer Khan, who worked on an investigative report about the country’s prime minister, alleges he was beaten with iron rods by four men in the capital Dhaka last week.
Mahinur Khan told Al Jazeera that four unknown men surrounded him when he went out for groceries in the Maripur neighbourhood of Dhaka. “They attacked me with iron rods, saying ‘Your brother writes about the PM? Against the government? He is a journalist? We will show you now,’” the 37-year-old Mahinur said on Thursday.
Mahinur’s brother, Zulkarnain Saer Khan, was one of the journalists who worked with Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit (I-Unit) on All the Prime Minister’s Men, an explosive investigation that linked high-ranking Bangladeshi government officials to corruption.
Since then, Zulkarnain has worked with several media organisations, including Al Jazeera, Haaretz and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
Following the attack on Friday, Mahinur, an entrepreneur, was brought to a hospital where he was treated for his injuries. He has since returned home after filing a police report.
Pictures provided to Al Jazeera show Mahinur’s injuries on his legs and arms, and a broken phone.
Al Jazeera could not independently verify the pictures.
Al Jazeera reached out to the police in Dhaka for further details about the case, but received no response by the time of the publication of this article.
All the Prime Minister’s Men
In February 2021, Al Jazeera released All the Prime Minister’s Men, which exposed how a criminal gang was colluding with the security forces of Bangladesh and has links to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Haris Ahmed, brother of the then chief of Bangladesh’s army, Aziz Ahmed, boasted that he could use police and paramilitary units to abduct rivals and earn millions in bribes.
Documents obtained by the I-Unit show that the head of the army helped a convicted killer evade justice. Evidence also shows how the country’s military intelligence service has secretly bought spyware from Israel – a country that Bangladesh does not recognise – to monitor the prime minister’s political rivals.
Since his work on All the Prime Minister’s Men, Zulkarnain has fled Bangladesh to a safe location, and his brother Mahinur has been interrogated by the Bangladesh intelligence services.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a media watchdog, released a report in the last week of February warning against an impending crackdown on opposition media.
Hasina’s government plans to close at least 191 news websites for “conducting activities that spread confusion among the public”, according to the RSF.
The report also mentioned several cases of attacks on journalists and other media critical of the governing Awami League party.
In other cases, journalists received death threats for their reporting, according to the watchdog.
When Hasina came to power in 2009, Bangladesh ranked 121 out of 180 countries in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index. In the most recent ranking, the South Asian country ranked 162nd.
Both the United Nations and independent human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch have condemned human rights abuses in Bangladesh, such as cases of enforced disappearances and torture.
In December 2021, the United States imposed sanctions against the country’s paramilitary forces – Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) – and accused of forced disappearances and carrying out extrajudicial killings.
Hasina, in an interview with Al Jazeera earlier this month, denied her government was cracking down on the opposition.
“[From] 2009, when I formed the government, until now, we have a continuous democratic process in our country and that is why the country has made progress,” Hasina told Al Jazeera, referring to the impressive economic growth during her tenure.
“Those who are talking about this, they don’t want a stable country and stable economic development.”
Jimmy Fallon on Thursday imagined how Donald Trump is readying himself for a possible indictment over his hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels.
The “Tonight Show” host joked about the former president’s preparation involving a mock trial with Judge Judy. But when Trump testified in the spoof bit, he ended up being flamed by the TV judge as a “moron.”