Supreme court chief justice declines to meet US senators about Alito upside-down flag furor – live

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In a statement, the Biden campaign’s Black media director, Jasmine Harris, accused Donald Trump of racism after a former producer on The Apprentice accused him of using a racial slur on set:

No one is surprised that Donald Trump, who entered public life by falsely accusing Black men of murder and entered political life spreading lies about the first Black president, reportedly used the N-word to casually denigrate a successful Black man. Anyone notice a pattern? Donald Trump is exactly who Black voters know him to be: a textbook racist who disrespects and attacks the Black community every chance he gets, and the most ignorant man to ever run for president. It’s why Black voters kicked him out of the White House in 2020, and it’s why they’ll make him a loser a second time this November.

The Biden campaign launched a new attack against Donald Trump, accusing him of racism after a former producer on The Apprentice said he used an anti-Black slur on the set. Meanwhile, jury deliberations are ongoing in Trump’s business fraud trial in New York City, and a verdict could be delivered at anytime. Earlier in the day, the supreme court released a batch of new opinions, covering topics from banking regulation to free speech rights. But the conservative-dominated court did not yet weigh in on Trump’s claim of immunity from prosecution over the 2020 election, or two abortion-related cases, all of which remain pending before the justices. Another batch of opinions is expected next Thursday.

Here’s what else happened today:

  • Jamie Raskin, a Democratic congressman and Trump antagonist, proposed a way to force conservative justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas to recuse themselves from January 6 cases.

  • John Roberts, the supreme court’s chief justice, declined a request for a meeting from two Democratic senators concerned over Alito’s flag flap.

  • Do swing state voters care if Trump is convicted in his New York business fraud trial? Our reporters searched for the answer.

  • Most evidence in the New York case seems to point to Trump’s guilt, but the jury could reach a variety of conclusions.

  • Trump can sue his niece Mary Trump for potentially violating the terms of a settlement over his father’s estate, a New York state appeals court ruled.

Should Donald Trump win the November election, the Guardian’s Robert Tait reports that his ally, speaker of the House Mike Johnson, is prepared to move quickly to pass his agenda through Congress. Here’s what Johnson told Semafor he is looking at:

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Mike Johnson, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, is planning a sweeping ideological legislative drive that aims to make Donald Trump “the most consequential president of the modern era” if the Republicans win power in November.

A far-reaching bill containing a range of policy priorities at once – including tax cuts worth trillions, border security and rolling back Obamacare – is being prepared to avoid the mistakes the GOP believed happened early in Trump’s first term, when Johnson says the party wasted time because its victory over Hillary Clinton took it by surprise.

In an interview with Semafor, Johnson said he had already spoken to Trump about introducing an omnibus package immediately after he retakes office.

“I told him that I believe he can be the most consequential president of the modern era, if we are focused on a policy and agenda-driven administration and Congress – and that’s our intention,” Johnson said.

“We don’t want to make the mistake that we made in the past. Back in the 2017 timeframe and in previous years, we Republicans kind of took a single-subject approach. We did one round of healthcare reform, one round of tax reform. But for [fiscal year 2025], we want to have a much larger scope, multiple issues to address in addition to the expiration of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”

For the second time in as many days, Donald Trump has defended supreme court justice Samuel Alito amid criticism from Democrats over his display of flags associated with rightwing causes.

Alito, an appointee of Republican president George W Bush, is a reliably conservative vote on the court, and Trump has loudly denounced the Democratic lawmakers who have called for him to recuse himself from cases dealing with January. Here’s what the ex-president wrote, on Truth Social:

‘Playing the Ref’ with Justice Alito doesn’t work. It works with many others, but not with him!

Here’s more from the Guardian’s Ed Pilkington about the firestorm around conservative supreme court justice Samuel Alito, and the rightwing flags found flying at his residences:

Justice Samuel Alito is rejecting calls to step aside from supreme court cases involving the former president Donald Trump and January 6 defendants because of the controversy over flags that flew over his homes.

In letters to members of Congress on Wednesday, Alito says his wife was responsible for flying an upside-down US flag over his home in 2021 and an “Appeal to Heaven” flag at his New Jersey beach house last year.

Neither incident merits his recusal, he wrote.

“I am therefore duty-bound to reject your recusal request,” he wrote.

The court is considering two major cases related to the 6 January 2021 attack by a mob of Trump supporters on the Capitol, including charges faced by the rioters and whether the former president has immunity from prosecution on election-interference charges.

Alito has rejected calls from Democrats in the past to recuse on other issues.

In his letter to the Democratic leaders of the Senate judiciary committee, supreme court chief justice John Roberts argued it would be inappropriate to meet with them.

“I must respectfully decline your request for a meeting,” wrote Roberts, who was appointed by Republican president George W Bush, and is considered among the more moderate of the court’s conservative justices.

He continued in the letter addressed to the committee’s chair Dick Durbin and senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who chairs the subcommittee on federal courts:

As noted in my letter to Chairman Durbin last April, apart from ceremonial events, only on rare occasions in our Nation’s history has a sitting Chief Justice met with legislators, even in a public setting (such as a Committee hearing) with members of both major political parties present. Separation of powers concerns and the importance of preserving judicial independence counsel against such appearances. Moreover, the format proposed – a meeting with leaders of only one party who have expressed an interest in matters currently pending before the Court – simply underscores that participating in such a meeting would be inadvisable.

Last week, the two Democrats had requested a meeting with Roberts, after reports emerged that conservative justice Samuel Alito had flown flags associated with rightwing causes at two of his properties.

“We therefore call for Justice Alito to recuse himself from certain proceedings as outlined above, renew our call for the Supreme Court to adopt an enforceable code of conduct for Supreme Court justices, and request a meeting with you as soon as possible. Until the Court and the Judicial Conference take meaningful action to address this ongoing ethical crisis, we will continue our efforts to enact legislation to resolve this crisis,” Durbin and Whitehouse wrote to Roberts.

John Roberts, the chief justice of the US supreme court, has rebuffed a request from senior Democratic US senators to meet as the lawmakers push for supreme court justice Samuel Alito to recuse himself from cases before the court that relate to Donald Trump and will ripple into the 2024 presidential election.

Roberts declined an invitation to talk about supreme court ethics and the controversy over flags that flew outside homes owned by Alito, the Associated Press further reports.

Roberts’ response came in a letter to Democratic senators Dick Durbin a day after Alito separately wrote to them and House of Representatives members to reject their demands that he recuse himself from major cases involving Trump and the January 6 rioters because of the flags, which are like those carried by some rioters at the 6 January 2021 attack on the US Capitol.

Senate judiciary committee chair Dick Durbin of Illinois and senator and committee member Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island had written Roberts a week ago to ask for the meeting and ask that Roberts take steps to ensure that Alito recuses himself from any cases before the court concerning the January 6 attack or former president Trump’s attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat.

Trump, the Guardian adds, is being prosecuted in a federal criminal case on charges relating to election interference and obstructing an official proceeding. The supreme court will rule next month on two cases before it that have grave implications in that case, and for the election.

A recap that a year ago a judge in New York threw out Donald Trump’s 2021 lawsuit accusing New York Times reporters of an “insidious plot” to obtain his tax records.

Trump was ordered to pay all attorneys’ fees and legal expenses that the Times and its reporters had incurred. The lawsuit alleged that the newspaper sought out Trump’s niece Mary Trump and persuaded her “to smuggle the records out of her attorney’s office”.

At the time, Trump’s claim against his niece had not been ruled on. Today, we learned that Donald is permitted to proceed with suing Mary.

The Times’s 2018 Pulitzer-winning stories relied on information from Mary Trump to cast doubt on the ex-president’s claims that he was a self-made millionaire, showing that he had inherited hundreds of millions through “dubious tax schemes”. The series also revealed a history of tax avoidance.

Robert Reed, the New York supreme court justice, said at the time of his ruling, in May 2023, that Trump’s claims “fail as a matter of constitutional law”, which allows for reporters to engage in legal, ordinary news-gathering. “These actions are at the very core of protected first amendment activity,” Reed wrote.

Alina Habba, a lawyer for Donald Trump, said the former president looked forward to holding his niece, Mary Trump, “fully accountable for her blatant and egregious breach of contract” in her exchanges with New York Times journalists for a story about her uncle’s finances and evasive tax habits.

Thursday’s decision upheld a June 2023 ruling by Justice Robert Reed of the New York state supreme court.

Also, Reed had dismissed Donald Trump’s claims against the New York Times and three reporters, and in January ordered him to pay $392,639 of their legal fees, Reuters reports.

In November 2022, Reed dismissed Mary Trump’s separate lawsuit accusing her uncle and two of his siblings of defrauding her out of a multimillion-dollar inheritance.

The New York Times’ reporting challenged Donald Trump’s claim that he was a self-made billionaire. It said he received the equivalent of $413m from his father, largely the result of “dubious” tax schemes in the 1990s, including undervaluing his family’s real estate holdings. Donald Trump has denied wrongdoing.

Mary Trump previously identified herself as a Times source in her 2020 tell-all bestseller Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.

Here’s more on the news that a court has said Donald Trump can sue his niece Mary Trump.

The court in New York ruled that the former president can sue Mary Trump, 59, a psychologist and writer, for supplying information to the New York Times as part of its coverage into the then president’s finances and his alleged effort to avoid taxes. The coverage won the Pulitzer prize.

The appellate division in Manhattan found a “substantial” legal basis for Donald Trump to claim that his niece violated confidentiality provisions of a 2001 settlement over the estate of his father, Fred Trump Sr, Reuters reports.

A five-judge panel said it was unclear whether Mary Trump’s disclosures were subject to confidentiality, or how long both sides intended the provisions to remain in effect. It also signaled that Donald Trump might deserve only minimal damages, not the $100m he sought.

The court said:

At a minimum, nominal damages may still be available on the breach of contract claim even in the absence of actual damages.

Lawyers for Mary Trump said the lawsuit violated a state law barring frivolous cases designed to silence critics and “chill and retaliate against” their free speech. These cases are called strategic lawsuits against public participation, or Slapps.

Anne Champion, Mary Trump’s lawyer, said in a statement:

Mary has made valuable contributions to the public’s knowledge of the former president with her unique perspective as a family member. We are confident she will be vindicated as the case proceeds.

Champion also said Donald Trump “can claim no injury for the publication of truthful information.”

A New York state appeals court said Donald Trump can sue his niece Mary Trump for giving the New York Times information for its Pulitzer Prize-winning 2018 probe into his finances and his alleged effort to avoid taxes.

The appellate division in Manhattan found a “substantial” legal basis for Donald Trump to claim that his niece violated confidentiality provisions of a 2001 settlement over the estate of his father, Fred Trump Sr, Reuters reports.

More to come on this. Adding from the Guardian, Trump originally sued his estranged niece and the New York Times in 2021 over a 2018 story about his family’s wealth and tax practices that was partly based on confidential documents she provided to the newspaper’s reporters, and there has been a whole legal odyssey ever since.

The Biden campaign has launched a new attack against Donald Trump, accusing him of racism after a former producer on The Apprentice said he used an anti-Black racial slur on the set. Meanwhile, jury deliberations are ongoing in Trump’s business fraud trial in New York City, and a verdict could be delivered at anytime. Earlier in the day, the supreme court released a batch of new opinions, covering topics from banking regulation to free speech rights. But the conservative-dominated court did not yet weigh in on Trump’s claim of immunity from prosecution over the 2020 election, or two abortion-related cases, all of which remain pending before the justices. Another batch of opinions is expected next Thursday.

Here’s what else has happened today:

  • Jamie Raskin, a Democratic congressman and Trump antagonist, proposed a way to force conservative justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas to recuse themselves from January 6 cases.

  • Do swing state voters care if Trump is convicted in his New York business fraud trial? Our reporters searched for the answer.

  • Most evidence in the New York case seems to point to Trump’s guilt, but the jury could rule in any direction.

In a statement, the Biden campaign’s Black media director, Jasmine Harris, accused Donald Trump of racism after a former producer on The Apprentice accused him of using a racial slur on set:

No one is surprised that Donald Trump, who entered public life by falsely accusing Black men of murder and entered political life spreading lies about the first Black president, reportedly used the N-word to casually denigrate a successful Black man. Anyone notice a pattern? Donald Trump is exactly who Black voters know him to be: a textbook racist who disrespects and attacks the Black community every chance he gets, and the most ignorant man to ever run for president. It’s why Black voters kicked him out of the White House in 2020, and it’s why they’ll make him a loser a second time this November.

In addition to handing the National Rifle Association a lifeline in its lawsuit against New York state, the supreme court also denied resentencing to an Arizona man on death row, the Guardian’s Joanna Walters reports:

The US supreme court issued opinions on Thursday relating to free speech and the death penalty, in one case clearing the way for a National Rifle Association (NRA) lawsuit against a former New York state official.

The court gave a boost to the influential gun rights group that has accused the official of coercing banks and insurers to avoid doing business with it and, in the process, violating the NRA’s free speech rights.

The justices, in a unanimous decision from the nine-member bench, threw out a lower court’s ruling that dismissed the NRA’s 2018 lawsuit against Maria Vullo, a former superintendent of New York’s department of financial services.

The NRA, in the case NRA v Vullo, claimed that Vullo unlawfully retaliated against it following a mass shooting in which 17 people were killed at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

The NRA was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Biden administration argued some of its claims should go forward, an unusual alliance between often opposing parties considering the NRA is a strongly Republican-aligned organization.

Meanwhile, the supreme court, in a 6-3 decision, struck down an appeals court ruling giving Danny Lee Jones a new sentencing hearing in a death penalty case in Arizona. The conservative supermajority decided that errors in Jones’s legal defense, in the case Thornell v Jones, did not justify him having a chance at resentencing.

The supreme court just scheduled its next opinion release day.

The court is expected to issue more decisions on Thursday, 6 June. Among the pending cases is Donald Trump’s claim of immunity from prosecution over trying to overturn the 2020 election, and two lawsuits related to abortion access.

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