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Top House Republican Takes Credit For New Charges Against Hunter Biden – Live

Federal appeals court mostly upholds gag order against Trump in election subversion case

Hugo Lowell

A federal appeals court has upheld most of a gag order against Donald Trump imposed by the judge handling his trial on charges related to attempting the overthrow of the 2020 election.

Washington DC-based judge Tanya Chutkan imposed the order in October that prevented the former president from making inflammatory statements and social media posts attacking prosecutors, potential witnesses and court staff in the case. Trump appealed the order, arguing it unconstitutionally infringed on his first amendment rights and hindered his political speech amid his campaign for a second term in the White House.

The order was put on hold as appeals judges considered his challenge. In its ruling, the court generally upheld Chutkan’s order, but said Trump was now also allowed to assail the special counsel Jack Smith, who brought the criminal case against the former president.

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Here’s the moment from Hunter Biden’s interview with Moby where he says Republicans are trying to “kill me” to bring down his father’s presidency:

“They are trying to destroy a presidency. And so it’s not about me … What they’re trying to do is they’re trying to kill me, knowing that it will be a pain greater than my father could be able to handle.”

— Hunter Biden on the “Moby Pod”

— The Recount (@therecount) December 8, 2023 Earlier this week, Democratic and Republican politicians from the White House on down condemned the targeting of a Philadelphia Jewish restaurant by protesters calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip as antisemitic. But the Guardian’s Wilfred Chan reports that the story is more complex than that:

The 21-second clip went viral almost as soon as it was posted early on Sunday evening. It showed hundreds of protesters, some with Palestinian flags, united in a rhyming chant: “Goldie, Goldie, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!”

They were protesting outside Goldie, a vegan falafel restaurant owned by Michael Solomonov, the Israel-born celebrity chef best known for Zahav, an Israeli-themed restaurant widely considered one of the United States’ finest eateries. It was one brief stop along a march traversing Philadelphia that lasted about three hours.

Many of the protesters hadn’t even returned home from the march when the condemnations began to pour in. The Pennsylvania governor, Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, posted on X: “Tonight in Philly, we saw a blatant act of antisemitism – not a peaceful protest. A restaurant was targeted and mobbed because its owner is Jewish and Israeli. This hate and bigotry is reminiscent of a dark time in history.”

Even the White House piled on: it was “antisemitic and completely unjustifiable to target restaurants that serve Israeli food over disagreements with Israeli policy”, said the deputy press secretary, Andrew Bates. Douglas Emhoff, husband of Vice-President Kamala Harris, wrote on X that he had spoken with Solomonov and “told him @POTUS, @VP, and the entire Biden-Harris Administration will continue to have his back”.

It was the apex of a saga that has resulted in at least three workers fired from Solomonov’s restaurants over, as they see it, their pro-Palestine activism coming into conflict with their bosses’ views and policies, and at least one other worker who has resigned in protest – thrusting the renowned Israeli eateries into the thick of bitter US disagreements over the Israel-Hamas war.

The street protest against Goldie has sparked heated debate. As the war on Gaza rages on, with over 17,000 people killed in Gaza since 7 October – 70% of them women and children, according to Gaza’s health ministry – are Israel-linked businesses in the US implicated? Was Solomonov, a chef who has credited Palestinian influences in his cooking, an appropriate target?

The 2024 election is months away, but Donald Trump and his allies are already planning on who they might hire for White House jobs, assuming he wins. The Guardian’s Peter Stone takes a look at what we know so far about Trump’s hiring plans:

As Donald Trump and his allies start plotting another presidency, an emerging priority is to find hard-right lawyers who display total fealty to Trump, as a way to enhance his power and seek “retribution” against political foes.

Stocking a future administration with more ideological lawyers loyal to Trump in key posts at the justice department, other agencies and the White House is alarming to former DoJ officials and analysts who say such plans endanger the rule of law.

Trump’s former senior adviser Stephen Miller, president of the Maga-allied legal group America First Legal, is playing a key role in seeking lawyers fully in sync with Trump’s radical agenda to expand his power and curb some major agencies. His search is for those with unswerving loyalty to Trump, who could back Trump’s increasingly authoritarian talk about plans to “weaponize” the DoJ against critics, including some he has labeled as “vermin”.

Miller is well known in Maga circles for his loyalty to Trump and the hard-line anti-immigration policies he helped craft for Trump’s presidency. Notably, Trump has vowed to make those policies even more draconian if he is the GOP nominee and wins again.

Such an advisory role for Miller squares with Trump’s desire for a tougher brand of lawyer who will not try to obstruct him, as some top administration lawyers did in late 2020 over his false claims about election fraud.

As Joe Biden centers his presidential campaign around major pieces of legislation enacted on his watch, like the bipartisan infrastructure act, Reuters reports Donald Trump and the GOP are expected to make channeling public funds to private and religious schools a key part of their pitch to voters:

Beyond the tumult surrounding Donald Trump’s presidential bid and his threats to seek revenge against his political enemies should he win, the Republican frontrunner has seized on an issue that even some Democrats say could attract new voters in 2024.

Trump is backing “school choice” programs that use taxpayer dollars to send students to private and religious schools. It is a stance with wide appeal as parents have become increasingly fed up with the state of US public education.

Polls show that about 70% of parents favor greater education options. The issue resonates strongly enough with some voters that Trump’s support could make a difference in the presidential election as well as help Republicans in state and congressional races.

“It’s popular among the Republican base, it’s popular among independents and even popular among the Democratic base – in particular African Americans and Hispanics,” said Jason Bedrick, a research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

The day so farHunter Biden’s legal trouble deepened after prosecutors filed new tax charges against him. In an interview with the musician Moby, the president’s son said the GOP is “trying to kill me” to undermine Joe Biden’s presidency, while James Comer, the Republican chair of the House oversight committee, claimed his panel’s work led to the new charges. The president, meanwhile, had nothing to say about the latest developments in the prosecution, instead cheering better-than-expected employment data and announcing new investments in high-speed rail.

Here’s what else is going on:

Hunter Biden’s attorney said the latest charges against his client were the result of “Republican pressure”.

The rightwing House Freedom Caucus demanded Congress approve hardline immigration policies that Democrats oppose in exchange for more Ukraine aid.

Joe Biden’s approval ratings have hit a record low, poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight reports.

The infrastructure act was passed in 2021 with a combination of Democratic and Republican votes, during a period when Congress was a much more functional place than it is today.

Things sure have changed, particularly after the GOP took control of the House in last year’s midterm elections. The Republicans made clear they would not go along with the Biden administration’s plans, and though they have spent a substantial time fighting amongst themselves, they are currently fairly united in opposing an attempt by Joe Biden to win approval of a security package for Israel and Ukraine’s military, and the southern border with Mexico.

The GOP instead wants Democrats to agree to enact hardline policies that they oppose, like restarting construction of Donald Trump’s border wall, and measures to keep asylum seekers out of the country. There is enough agreement among both parties over the importance of getting aid to Israel and Ukraine that they are still talking about a compromise, but the rightwing House Freedom Caucus just issued a statement saying, in part, that they will not support any bill that does not include the hardline immigration policies:

If any compromise passes the House, there’s a good chance it will do so with some Democratic votes, and the Freedom Caucus’s opposition may not matter. Perhaps the person who should be most concerned about their statement is speaker Mike Johnson, considering several of the caucus’s members led the charge to remove his predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, from the leadership post over his willingness to work with Democrats.

Joe Biden’s trip to Las Vegas today will see him specifically focus on how the 2021 infrastructure law will revamp railway and build new high-speed lines between major metropolitan areas.

High-speed rail has long been an elusive goal for transportation planners in the United States, which, unlike many of its peers among developed countries, has only one line that falls under that classification: Amtrak’s Acela service running between Washington DC and Boston.

The White House today announced $8.2b in funding from the infrastructure law will go towards high-speed rail development, including new projects connecting California and Nevada. Here’s more from the Biden administration’s press release:

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing $8.2 billion in new funding for 10 major passenger rail projects across the country, including the first world-class high-speed rail projects in our country’s history. Key selected projects include: building a new high-speed rail system between California and Nevada, which will serve more than 11 million passengers annually; creating a high-speed rail line through California’s Central Valley to ultimately link Los Angeles and San Francisco, supporting travel with speeds up to 220 mph; delivering significant upgrades to frequently-traveled rail corridors in Virginia, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia; and upgrading and expanding capacity at Chicago Union Station in Illinois, one of the nation’s busiest rail hubs. These historic projects will create tens of thousands of good-paying, union jobs, unlock economic opportunity for communities across the country, and open up safe, comfortable, and climate-friendly travel options to get people to their destinations in a fraction of the time it takes to drive.

The Guardian’s Chris Michael listened to musician Moby’s interview with Hunter Biden. Here’s what the president’s son had to say about his myriad legal troubles, and the Republican investigations targeting him:

Hunter Biden has told the pop star Moby in the first of a two-part podcast interview that the right wing is trying to “kill me” by harassing him to relapse into drug addiction in an effort to sink his father’s presidency.

The day after a second set of criminal charges was filed against the US president’s son, this time for tax issues, the interview had Biden describing his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction after the death of his mother, his sister and most recently his beloved brother Beau, and his pride in getting sober four years ago.

“The hard part, the excruciatingly difficult thing to do, is to maintain that when you are literally the focus of a hatred and an intensity that is both specific and global,” Biden said.

Recorded at Biden’s painting studio in San Francisco before the new indictments were filed, Biden told Moby – a friend and fellow recovering addict – about his shame at feeling like the Biden family “fuck-up”, and how he drank and used drugs to mask it.

He also described being doxed – having his personal information and address published – by the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post, which led to Trump supporters wearing Maga hats shouting through bullhorns outside his house while his wife was eight months pregnant.

“They published a description of where you could stand to see through the floor-to-ceiling windows,” Biden said, which he said drove him and his wife to move into hiding in the middle of the night. He said Maga supporters later brought a “30ft digital billboard on a flatbed truck” and parked it in front of his house.

Joe Biden did not have anything to say to reporters as he boarded Air Force One for his travel to the west coast today:

President Biden does not respond when reporters try to get his attention to ask about his son Hunter’s new indictment.

CNN’s @JohnBerman: “That’s a hard pass from the president of the United States.”

— The Recount (@therecount) December 8, 2023 He’s heading to Las Vegas to promote his infrastructure bill, then to Santa Monica, California for a fundraiser. The president is generally loathe to talk about his son’s legal troubles.

Meanwhile, poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight reports Joe Biden’s average approval rating has hit its lowest point since he took office.

The president is at 37.8% approval, down from the previous low of 37.9% reached in July 2022, not long after inflation had hit its peak and as his legislative agenda in Congress appeared to be deadlocked.

He rebounded above 40% the following month when Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, which is intended to spur the growth of green energy and lower prescription drug prices, but his approval rating has generally declined over the course of this year.

Hunter Biden’s attorney said the new charges announced yesterday show how the investigation into the president’s son has become politicized, the Guardian’s Edward Helmore and Chris Michael report:

Hunter Biden’s defense attorney Abbe Lowell has condemned prosecutors who charged the US president’s 54-year old son with tax fraud on Thursday, accusing special counsel David Weiss of “bowing to Republican pressure”.

“Based on the facts and the law, if Hunter’s last name was anything other than Biden, the charges in Delaware, and now California, would not have been brought,” Lowell said in a statement.

Lowell accused Weiss, who is also the US attorney for Delaware, where Joe Biden was a senator from 1973 to 2009, of failing to meet him before filing the nine-count indictment in California.

If convicted, Hunter Biden could face 17 years in prison.

“I wrote [to] US Attorney Weiss days ago seeking a customary meeting to discuss this investigation. The response was media leaks today that these charges were being filed,” said Lowell.

He added that Hunter Biden “paid his taxes in full” more than two years ago.

Top House Republican takes credit for new charges against Hunter BidenBesides federal prosecutors, Hunter Biden’s most tenacious nemesis is James Comer, the Republican chair of the House oversight committee, who has been leading the investigation into his overseas business dealings.

Comer has alleged that the Bidens are a “crime family”, even though his months of hearings and inquiries have yet to reveal any evidence that the president benefited from his son or any other family member’s forays overseas.

The oversight committee has been dogged in keeping the focus on Hunter Biden, and earlier this year held a hearing in which two IRS whistleblowers alleged the investigation into his taxes had been slow-walked and mismanaged.

In a statement released yesterday following the announcement of new charges against Biden, Comer said that testimony was crucial in getting the charges filed:

Two brave IRS whistleblowers, Gary Shapley and Joseph Ziegler, placed their careers on the line to blow the whistle on misconduct and politicization in the Hunter Biden criminal investigation. The Department of Justice got caught in its attempt to give Hunter Biden an unprecedented sweetheart plea deal and today’s charges filed against Hunter Biden are the result of Mr. Shapley and Mr. Ziegler’s efforts to ensure all Americans are treated equally under the law. Every American should applaud these men for their courage to expose the truth.

Comer then goes on to say, “The House Oversight Committee’s investigation of the Bidens’ influence peddling schemes reveals how Joe Biden knew about, participated in, and benefitted from his family cashing in on the Biden name.” However, that’s not quite true. The committee has made public lots of evidence about Joe Biden’s financial relationships with Hunter and other family members, but none of it quite adds up to proof of him being enriched by their business activities. Here’s a Washington Post story that shows how some allegedly damaging evidence Comer released is less than it appears.

The “sweetheart deal” he speaks of was a plea agreement Biden’s attorneys briefly reached with prosecutors, which collapsed unexpectedly in a July court hearing, leading to his indictment. Here’s more on that, from the Guardian’s Joan E Greve:

While the November employment data released by the labor department today was surprisingly positive, the Guardian’s Callum Jones reports that it still represents something of a slowdown in job growth:

The US workforce added 199,000 jobs last month, a robust reading as the world’s largest economy continues to grapple with higher interest rates.

Employment growth has been fading this year after the Federal Reserve launched an aggressive campaign to pull back inflation from its highest levels in a generation. Official data has bolstered hopes that the central bank will manage to guide the US economy to a so-called “soft landing”, where price growth normalises and recession is avoided.

Economists had expected non-farm payrolls to increase by about 180,000 jobs in November, up from a reading of 150,000 in October. Friday’s report still amounts to a deceleration from earlier in the year, and is short of the average reading for 2023.

The headline unemployment rate stood at 3.7%, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, down from 3.9% the previous month.

It comes as policymakers plot the next steps of their campaign, with inflation slipping back towards the Fed’s 2% target. Some investors have expressed hope that the central bank will start cutting rates as soon as next year.

Biden cheers another month of better-than-expected job growthJoe Biden has released a statement taking credit for the labor market’s continued strength, which was illustrated earlier this morning when new government data showed robust hiring in November and the unemployment rate ticking down slightly.

“The economy created 199,000 jobs in November, for a total of over 14 million jobs since I took office. That’s more than 14 million additional Americans who know the dignity and peace of mind that comes with a paycheck,” Biden said.

“On my watch we have achieved better growth and lower inflation than any other advanced country. A year ago, forecasters said it couldn’t be done,” he continued, while acknowledging the political toll taken by the wave of price increases felt by Americans since he took office in 2021. Economists view that inflation as driven by a number of factors, including rebounding demand as Covid-19 ebbed, supply chain problems and the disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

“I know prices are still too high for too many Americans. So my top economic priority is to lower costs for hardworking Americans. I’m doing everything in my power to bring down prescription drug costs, health insurance premiums, and utility bills,” the president said.

Biden’s polls have been underwater for nearly two years, which many analysts view as a consequence of the price hikes. In his statement, the president argued that Republicans would make the economy worse: “Instead of fighting to lower costs for middle-class families, Republicans in Congress are fighting to raise prescription drug costs and increase profits for Big Pharma. They’re fighting to lower taxes for the wealthiest Americans and large corporations that have earned record profits in recent years. Congressional Republicans are fighting to cut Medicare and Social Security. That’s just wrong.”

Here’s more about the new charges against Hunter Biden reported late yesterday, from the Guardian’s Sam Levin:

Hunter Biden has been indicted on nine tax charges in California, becoming the second indictment against the president’s son, adding fuel to a scandal that Republicans have been seizing on in the lead-up to the 2024 election.

The state charges on Thursday follow federal firearms charges in Delaware alleging Biden unlawfully obtained a revolver in October 2018 after he falsely stated he was not using narcotic drugs.

The new charges include three felonies and six misdemeanor offenses, and Biden faces a possible 17-year sentence if convicted.

“The Defendant engaged in a four-year scheme to not pay at least $1.4 million in self-assessed federal taxes he owed for tax years 2016 through 2019,” the 56-page indictment said, adding that Biden “spent millions of dollars on an extravagant lifestyle rather than paying his tax bills”.

In 2018 alone, the indictment read, Biden “spent more than $1.8 million, including approximately $772,000 in cash withdrawals, approximately $383,000 in payments to women, approximately $151,000 in clothing and accessories” among other expenditures.

Biden’s lawyers did not immediately respond to an inquiry and the White House declined to comment.

Right wing trying to ‘kill me’ to harm father’s presidency, Hunter Biden says in interviewHunter Biden gave a rare interview to the musician Moby that was released today, in which he says Republicans and their allies in the media are trying to demonize him to harm the presidency of his father, Joe Biden.

“What they’re trying to do is they’re trying to kill me, knowing that it will be a pain greater than my father could be able to handle, and so therefore destroying a presidency in that way,” Hunter Biden said, according to HuffPost.

The president’s son published a memoir in 2021 but has otherwise avoided granting interviews as federal prosecutors amped up their investigations of him, and Republicans seized on his legal troubles to make the thus-far unproven claim that his father was corrupt.

Biden told Moby he felt sorry for some of his antagonists in Congress, particularly Marjorie Taylor Greene, the rightwing Republican congresswoman who displayed explicit images of him at a committee hearing.

“I realized that it’s not about me. And then the second thing that I realized is that these people are just sad, very, very sick people that have most likely just faced traumas in their lives,” Biden said. “They’ve decided that they are going to turn into an evil that they decide that they’re going to inflict on the rest of the world.”

New Hunter Biden tax charges add to president’s headachesGood morning, US politics blog readers. Yesterday evening, the news broke that prosecutors had indicted the president’s son Hunter Biden on nine tax charges, adding to his legal troubles that intensified over the summer, when a plea deal to resolve a federal investigation against him collapsed. The most immediate implications of the indictment may well be felt by Joe Biden, who is embarking on a re-election campaign while saddled with already worringly low approval ratings.

Republicans have for years alleged that the now-president corruptly benefited from Hunter and other family members’ overseas business dealings, but have yet to turn up any evidence proving it. Nonetheless, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives may next week vote to formally begin an impeachment inquiry against the president, which would give them a high-profile platform to air their allegations against him. Speaking of Congress, Biden’s proposal for a security package to aid Israel and Ukraine and fund some new border security measures remains tied up in a substantial logjam, despite his insistence that the money – particularly to fund Kyiv’s defense – is a top priority. We’ll see if there’s any movement on that today.

Here’s what else is going on:

The president is heading to Las Vegas to promote the infrastructure bill he oversaw passage of two years ago, with a speech planned for around 6pm eastern time.

The UN security council is expected to vote today on urging an immediate ceasefire in the war in Gaza, which the United States has in the past opposed. Follow our live blog for the latest news.

The US labor market remains strong, according to newly released data that showed employers adding 199,000 jobs in November, and the unemployment rate dropping to 3.7%.

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