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Lawmakers turned a Tuesday hearing on President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents into a proxy battle between the Democratic president and Republican front-runner Donald Trump, as a newly released transcript of Biden’s testimony last fall showed that he repeatedly insisted he never meant to retain classified information after he left the vice presidency.

Special counsel Robert Hur, testifying for more than four hours before the House Judiciary Committee, stood steadfastly by the assessments in his 345-page report that questioned Biden’s age and mental competence but recommended no criminal charges for the 81-year-old president, finding insufficient evidence to make a case stand up in court.

“What I wrote is what I believe the evidence shows, and what I expect jurors would perceive and believe,” Hur said. “I did not sanitize my explanation. Nor did I disparage the president unfairly.”

The transcript of hours of interviews between Biden and the special counsel released Tuesday provide a more textured picture of the roughly yearlong investigation, filling in some of the gaps left by Hur’s and Biden’s accounting of the exchanges. But there was no guarantee the hearing or transcript would alter preconceived notions about the president, the special counsel who investigated him, or Trump, particularly in a hard-fought election year.

While Biden was adamant that he treated classified information seriously, the transcript shows that he was at times fuzzy about dates and details and he said he was unfamiliar with the paper trail for some of the sensitive documents he handled.

The hearing played out just hours before Biden claimed the Democratic nomination and Trump became the GOP standard-bearer. The party lines calcified almost immediately over which leader meant to hang onto classified documents, or rather, who “willfully” retained them — and who didn’t. And Hur was the rare witness vilified all around, by Republicans angry over his decision not to charge the president, and by Democrats for his unflattering commentary about Biden.


Donald Trump is seeking to delay his March 25 hush money trial until the Supreme Court rules on the presidential immunity claims he raised in another of his criminal cases.

The Republican former president’s lawyers on Monday asked Manhattan Judge Juan Manuel Merchan to adjourn the New York criminal trial indefinitely until Trump’s immunity claim in his Washington, D.C., election interference case is resolved. Merchan did not immediately rule.

Trump contends he is immune for prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office. His lawyers argue some of the evidence and alleged acts in the hush money case overlap with his time in the White House and constitute official acts.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments April 25, a month after the scheduled start of jury selection in Trump’s hush money case. It is the first of his four criminal cases slated to go to trial as he closes in on the Republican presidential nomination in his quest to retake the White House.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office declined to comment. Prosecutors are expected to respond to Trump’s delay request in court papers later this week.

Trump first raised the immunity issue in his Washington, D.C., criminal case, which involves allegations that he worked to overturn the results of the 2020 election in the run-up to the violent riot by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The hush money case centers on allegations that Trump falsified his company’s internal records to hide the true nature of payments to his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who helped Trump bury negative stories during his 2016 presidential campaign. Among other things, Cohen paid porn actor Stormy Daniels $130,000 to suppress her claims of an extramarital sexual encounter with Trump years earlier.

Trump’s lawyers argue that some evidence Manhattan prosecutors plan to introduce at the hush money trial, including messages he posted on social media in 2018 about money paid to Cohen, were from his time as president and constituted official acts.

Trump pleaded not guilty last year to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. He has denied having a sexual encounter with Daniels, and his lawyers argue the payments to Cohen were legitimate legal expenses and not part of any cover-up.

A federal judge last year rejected Trump’s claim that allegations in the hush money indictment involved official duties, nixing his bid to move the case from state court to federal court. Had the case been moved to federal court, Trump’s lawyers could’ve tried to get the charges dismissed on the grounds that federal officials have immunity from prosecution over actions taken as part of their official duties.


U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife pleaded not guilty on Monday to new obstruction of justice charges recently added to a broad corruption indictment threatening the Democrat’s re-election chances.

“Once again, not guilty your honor,” Menendez responded after Judge Sidney H. Stein asked him to enter a plea at a 20-minute hearing at a federal court in Manhattan. Menendez had previously pleaded not guilty to other charges in October.

Menendez and his wife, Nadine, left the courthouse without speaking to reporters. Menendez ignored a shouted question about whether he intends to run for re-election.

The couple is charged with taking bribes of gold bars, cash and a luxury car in return for the senator’s help in projects pursued by three New Jersey businessmen. Prosecutors say that in return for the loot, Menendez helped one of the men get a lucrative meat-certification deal with Egypt — and in doing so took actions favorable to the Egyptian government. An indictment said Menendez helped another associate get a deal with a Qatari investment fund.

Two of the three businessmen accused of bribing Menendez also entered not guilty pleas on Monday. A third, Jose Uribe, pleaded guilty two weeks ago to bribery charges and agreed to testify against the others at a trial set for May 6.

After his fall arrest, Menendez, 70, was forced to relinquish his chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee but said he would not resign from Congress.

If Menendez does choose to seek re-election, he’ll likely have to face two other strong Democratic contenders in a June 4 primary: U.S. Rep. Andy Kim and Tammy Murphy, the wife of New Jersey’s governor.

The new allegations — part of what is now an 18-count indictment — are related to what prosecutors say were efforts to cover up the illegal bribes.

One of those gifts included a Mercedes-Benz convertible that Uribe says he bought for Nadine Menendez because her husband had been trying to use his influence to squash two criminal investigations into people close to him.


Momentum is building in a case regarding homeless encampments that will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court next month and could have major implications for cities as homelessness nationwide has reached record highs.

Dozens of briefs have been filed in recent days, including from the Department of Justice, members of Congress and state attorneys general. They joined the growing number of western state and local officials who have submitted briefs urging the justices to overturn a controversial lower court decision they say has prevented them from addressing homeless encampments.

In 2018, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — whose jurisdiction includes nine Western states — ruled it was unconstitutional to punish people who are “involuntarily homeless” for sleeping outside if there are not enough shelter beds. Its Martin v. Boise decision found that doing so would violate the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Social justice advocates have long supported the decision based on the belief that homelessness shouldn’t be criminalized, although rights groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union have yet to file briefs in the case. Many officials in the West, on the other hand, say the decision has prevented them from managing a surge in encampments on sidewalks, in parks and other public places.

The U.S. experienced a dramatic 12% increase in homelessness last year to its highest reported level, a federal report found, as soaring rents and a decline in coronavirus pandemic assistance combined to put housing out of reach for more Americans. About 653,000 people were homeless in the January 2023 count, the most since the country began using the yearly point-in-time survey in 2007.

More than half the people experiencing homelessness in the country were in four states: California and Washington, which are both under the 9th Circuit’s jurisdiction, along with New York and Florida. About 28% of the nation’s homeless are estimated to be in California alone, according to the federal report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.


Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez was convicted Friday in New York of charges that he conspired with drug traffickers and used his military and national police force to enable tons of cocaine to make it unhindered into the United States.

The jury returned its verdict at a federal court after a two-week trial, which has been closely followed in his home country. Hernandez was convicted of conspiring to import cocaine into the U.S. and two weapons counts. The charges carry a mandatory minimum of 40 years in prison and a potential maximum of life. Sentencing was set for June 26.

Hernandez, 55, who served two terms as the leader of the Central American nation of roughly 10 million people, patted a defense attorney, Renato Stabile, on the back as they stood along with everyone else in the courtroom while the jurors filed out after the reading of the verdict.

When the news reached nearly 100 opponents of Hernandez on the street outside the courthouse, they applauded and began jumping into the air to celebrate the outcome.

The scene in the courtroom was subdued and Hernandez seemed relaxed as the verdict on three counts was announced by the jury foreperson. At times, Hernandez had his hands folded before him or one leg crossed over the other as each juror was asked to affirm the verdict. They all did.

In remarks to the jury before they left the courtroom, Judge P. Kevin Castel praised jurors for reaching a unanimous verdict, which was necessary for a conviction.

“We live in a country where 12 people can’t agree on a pizza topping,” the judge told them, saying his message would have been the same regardless of their verdict. “That’s why I’m in awe of you.”

Defense attorney Sabrina Shroff said Hernandez will appeal the conviction.

In a release, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said he hopes the conviction “sends a message to all corrupt politicians who would consider a similar path: choose differently.”


China saw large increases in arrests and cases of phone and internet scams last year, according to reports presented Friday to the National People’s Congress that stressed the ruling Communist Party’s determination to safeguard national security and public order.

A report issued by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate said the number of cases of computer crimes including social media fraud jumped 36.2% in 2023 and involved 323,000 people.

The sharp increase likely reflects a doubling down on cross-border computer fraud that has resulted in thousands of people, some of them victims of human traffickers who forced them to work for crime rings in remote areas of Myanmar and other neighboring countries, being returned to China.

Indictments of people for telecoms fraud jumped nearly 67% to about 51,000, the report said.

Overall, arrests surged 47% to 726,000 and indictments were up 17.3% to 168,800, the report said. China’s national congress serves mainly a ceremonial role, endorsing policies set by President Xi Jinping and other top leaders of the Communist Party. It is due to end its six-day session on Monday with approvals of reports by Premier Li Qiang and others that set the party’s plans for the year.

As China marks the 75th anniversary of the Oct. 1, 1949, founding of the People’s Republic of China, the party is stressing its determination to fortify its control and protect national security.


A federal appeals court on Friday reinstated bribery and fraud charges against former New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin.

The decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan reversed a December 2022 ruling by a lower-court judge that wiped out the bulk of the case against the Democrat, leaving only records falsification charges.

The appeals court said in its written decision that a jury could infer from the alleged facts in the case that Benjamin promised to allocate $50,000 in state funds to a non-profit organization controlled by a real estate developer in return for campaign contributions from the developer.

“We conclude that the indictment sufficiently alleged an explicit quid pro quo,” the 2nd Circuit said. “Therefore, we reverse the judgment of the district court and remand for further proceedings.”

In an opinion written by Judge Steven J. Menashi, the three-judge panel concluded that Benjamin had fair warning that his alleged agreement with the developer “was illegal and that it would not become legal if he simply avoided memorializing it expressly in words or in writing.”

Benjamin’s lawyer, Barry Berke, noted in a statement that the tussle over the legal standard that applies to the allegations against his client came before a trial.

“Those allegations are false. The facts are clear that Mr. Benjamin did nothing other than engage in routine fundraising and support a non-profit providing needed resources to Harlem public schools, ”Berke said. “We remain confident that Mr. Benjamin will be vindicated in this case, which never should have been brought.”

A spokesperson for prosecutors declined comment.

Benjamin resigned as lieutenant governor after his April 2022 arrest. The arrest had created a political crisis for Gov. Kathy Hochul, a fellow Democrat who chose him to serve as second-in-command when she became governor following a sexual harassment scandal that drove from office her predecessor, Democrat Andrew Cuomo.

Benjamin was the state’s second Black lieutenant governor. During a state Legislature career that began in May 2017, he emphasized criminal justice reform and affordable housing. His district included most of central Harlem, where he was born and raised by Caribbean immigrant parents.

In tossing out the most serious charges in 2022, Judge J. Paul Oetken wrote that prosecutors failed to allege an explicit example in which Benjamin provided a favor for a bribe, an essential element of bribery and honest services fraud charges.

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