Donald Trump being sued – latest: Trump blames banks for tax scandal and says he can declassify papers by thinking about it

Trump claims he can declassify top secret documents just ‘by thinking about it’

Donald Trump has claimed that as president he had the authority to declassify top secret documents just “by thinking about it”, as he blamed banks themselves for failing to check his company’s valuations.

He was speaking on Fox News after New York’s attorney general accused the Trump Organisation of inflating his net worth by billions of dollars and habitually misleading banks.

Dubbing it “the art of the steal”, Letitia James in her suit has also named his children Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump as defendants.

The 222-page suit detailed instances of alleged fraud, many involving claims made on annual financial statements that Mr Trump would give to banks, business associates and financial magazines as proof of his riches as he sought loans and deals.

Also under probe for removing government-owned documents from the White House and taking them to his Florida estate, Mr Trump told Sean Hannity that “there doesn’t have to be a process” for declassifying documents “if you’re the president of the United States”.

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ICYMI: First Trump hearing by special master descends into chaos

The first hearing overseen by a senior federal judge tasked with reviewing government-owned documents retrieved from Donald Trump’s home was marred with technical difficulties as those dialling in remotely failed to mute their phones.

Staff of the Brooklyn federal court scrambled to contain the chaos at the inaugural hearing held by special master Raymond Dearie, as lines flooded with music and background noises.

“God Bless America,” a person could be heard singing, reported Bloomberg.

“Mute! Mute! Mute!” one person yelled.

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Watch: Donald Trump says he declassified documents ‘just by thinking about it’ as president

Donald Trump says he declassified documents ‘just by thinking about it’ as president

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Reporters claims Trump aides follow him around golf course giving ‘positive reinforcement’

Donald Trump has reportedly tasked an aide with following him around and giving “positive reinforcement” amid an unprecedented assault of criminal and civil investigations into his conduct both as president and private citizen.

The revelation was made by The New York Times’s Maggie Haberman, one of the most well-sourced reporters in Trumpworld. Ms Haberman has remained on the Trump beat since the ex-president left office and set up court in Florida at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

John Bowden has the story.

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Trump bizarrely suggest FBI looked for Hillary Clinton’s emails at Mar-a-Lago

Donald Trump has bizarrely suggested that the FBI was looking for Hillary Clinton’s emails while searching his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

The former president claimed there’s “also a lot of speculation because of what they did, the severity of the FBI coming and raiding Mar-a-Lago. Were they looking for the Hillary Clinton emails that were deleted but they are around some place?

“They may have thought that it was in there!” Mr Trump added.

My colleague Maroosha Muzaffar reports:

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‘I didn’t want to settle’: Trump says he balked at paying even ‘small amount’ to settle New York tax fraud probe

Former president Donald Trump on Wednesday said he “didn’t want to settle” with the New York attorney general office probing the tax fraud because paying “even a small amount” would be akin to admitting guilt.

“I met with them. I actually thought they wanted to settle but I didn’t want to settle because how can you even if I paid a very small amount, you sort of admitting guilt,” said Mr Trump during a Wednesday evening interview on Fox News.

My colleague Andrew Feinberg reports:

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‘The things we do for the Orange Jesus’

Representative Liz Cheney said that one House Republican who objected to the 2020 presidential election results before the January 6 riot reportedly called former president Donald Trump “orange Jesus”.

Ms Cheney made the remarks at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington DC, for its Constitution Day event.

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Trump blames banks over tax valuations saying they shouldn’t have relied on his numbers

Former president Donald Trump on Wednesday blamed banks for lending money based on bogus valuations after he was sued for “numerous acts of fraud”.

New York attorney general Letitia James sued the 45th president, his three adult children and a host of companies, organisations and persons associated with his eponymous real estate and licensing business, following a three-year civil investigation into allegations of fraud.

In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, the former president called the lawsuit a “witch hunt” and argued that banks failed to conduct their own valuations.

“We have a disclaimer,” said Mr Trump. “It basically says, you know, get your own people, you’re at your own risk, this was done by management, it wasn’t done by us. So, don’t rely on the statement that you’re getting.”

My colleague Alisha Rahaman Sarkar reports:

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Trump could be barred from doing business in New York for five years under attorney general fraud lawsuit

Donald Trump could be barred from doing business in the city and state of New York under a new lawsuit filed by top prosecutors, accusing him and his adult children of fraud.

In what would be one of the most devastating blows incurred yet to the former president and his businesses empire during its long and twisting history, New York attorney general Letitia James said it was clear Mr Trump and his children had knowingly engaged in fraudulent activity to mislead people about the value of his business holdings over many years.

It would also represent a personal blow to the man born in Jamaica Estates, Queens, and who has always considered himself a proud New Yorker.

Read the details in this report by our chief US correspondent Andrew Buncombe:

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How Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez inadvertently sparked New York attorney general’s Trump lawsuit?

On Wednesday, when New York Attorney General Letitia James announced her $250m civil lawsuit against former president Donald Trump, she specifically cited former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s testimony in 2019 where he revealed that the former president fraudulently inflated the value of his assets.

“I will remind everyone that this investigation only started after Michael Cohen, the former lawyer, his former lawyer testified before Congress [and] shed light on this misconduct,” she said.

The question that triggered Mr Cohen’s response came in 2019 from Ms James’s fellow New Yorker, Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, reports Eric Garcia.

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Watch: Bill Barr says AG James ‘grossly overreaches’ by involving Trump’s adult children

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