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Donald Trump pleads not guilty to 34 felony counts

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Donald Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony criminal charges during a court hearing in New York

Donald Trump has become the first former U.S. president to be charged with a criminal offence.

Trump was accused of falsifying records to hide damaging information during the 2016 election. The charges centre around a $130,000 hush money payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels several days before the presidential election.

Prosecutors said Trump did not want to make the payment, and directed his then-lawyer Michael Cohen to delay it “until after the election… because at that point it would not matter if the story became public.”

Cohen has previously admitted paying Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence on an alleged past sexual encounter with Trump. She maintains the relationship with consensual but Trump has denied any involvement.

“The defendant Donald J. Trump falsified New York business records in order to conceal an illegal conspiracy to undermine the integrity of the 2016 presidential election and other violations of election laws,” prosecutor Chris Conroy said.

Falsifying business records in New York is punishable by up to one year in prison. However, it is elevated to a felony when the motive is to advance or conceal another crime, including election law violations.

What happened in court?

Trump, 76, entered the courtroom wearing a dark suit and red tie. He did not say a word as he walked past police and into the New York courthouse, and replied “not guilty” when asked how he pleaded.

“In total, 34 false entries were made in New York business records to conceal the initial covert $130,000 payment,” prosecutors said.

“Trump then went to great lengths to hide this conduct, causing dozens of false entries in business records to conceal criminal activity, including attempts to violate state and federal election laws.”

ALVIN BRAGG, NEW YORK DISTRICT ATTORNEY

The Office of New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg said “Trump and others employed a ‘catch and kill’ scheme to identify, purchase, and bury negative information about him and boost his electoral prospects.”

“Trump is charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with 34 counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree,” Bragg’s office said.

Prosecutors made note of the Access Hollywood tape in which Trump spoke about grabbing women by their genitals.

After this video emerged before the 2016 election, the Trump campaign grew “concerned that the tape would harm his viability as a candidate and reduce his standing with female voters in particular”.

The indictment detailed other similar payments made to suppress potentially damaging stories ahead of the 2016 election.

One of these stories involves a former Playboy model, and another with a doorman.

Judge Juan Merchan did not issue a gag order on Trump. Both sides were told to be mindful of their language.

One of Trump’s lawyers, Joe Tacopina, said the unsealing of the indictment means “the rule of law died in this country”.

“While everyone is not above the law, no one is below it either. And if this man’s name was not Donald J Trump, there is no scenario we’d all be here today,” he added.”

JOE TACOPINA

Another lawyer for Trump, Todd Blanche, said “we’re going to fight it hard.” Blanche described Trump as frustrated, angry and upset about the charges.

What has the reaction been?

In Washington, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked whether President Joe Biden had been briefed.

“What I can tell you for sure is that the president is focused on the American people.

“Of course, this is playing out on many of the networks here on a daily basis for hours and hours, so obviously he will catch parts of the news,” she said.

In New York, barricades separated Trump loyalists, who were seen outside the courthouse. One police officer was heard asking supporters to “keep it civil”, as confrontations occurred.

Others gathered outside the courthouse with signs like “lock him up” held above their heads. Another sign read “Trump is the definition of depravity.”

Trump posted on the platform he founded, Truth Social, shortly after the arraignment.

“The hearing was shocking to many in that they had no ‘surprises,’ and therefore, no case. Virtually every legal pundit has said that there is no case here. There was nothing done illegally!” the post read.

Republicans have also offered their support to Trump, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who accused Mr Bragg of “attempting to interfere in our democratic process by invoking federal law to bring politicized charges against President Trump.”

Trump has denied all wrongdoing and is pushing ahead with his 2024 presidential bid.

The next in-person court hearing is set for 4 December.

Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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Latest Sydney church horror: Stabbing rocks Wakeley community

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A man has been arrested after a bishop was stabbed at Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was preaching at Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley in Sydney’s west on Monday just after 7pm when a man dressed in black walked up to the altar and allegedly stabbed him multiple times.

Eyewitnesses described scenes of chaos and terror as an assailant approached the altar where Bishop Emmanuel was delivering a sermon.

Chstbrl Saliba, the Deputy Mayor of Fairfield, told Sky News that after the attack, the Bishop got to his feet, and placed his hand on the head of the assailant and began praying for him.

NSW Police said in a statement:

“A police operation is underway in Wakeley, following reports of a stabbing. Officers attached to Fairfield City Police Area Command attended a location on Welcome Street, Wakeley following reports a number of people were stabbed. Officers arrested a male and he is assisting police with inquiries.”

2GB Radio host Ben Fordham says the situation is so chaotic outside the church that police have had to use capsicum spray outside of the church. One woman has been treated.

 

Fordham says police are concerned about the volatile situation outside the church.

Without warning, the attacker unleashed a flurry of stabs, targeting the bishop and several worshippers in a frenzied assault.

Horrifying footage captured the moment of the attack, as the live broadcast on the church’s social media pages captured the unfolding tragedy.

Bishop Emmanuel’s expression of astonishment turned to one of sheer horror as he became the primary target of the assailant’s vicious blows.

NSW ambulance has confirmed at least one person has been taken to hospital.

The assault at Christ the Good Shepherd Church echoes previous instances of mass violence that have rocked Sydney in recent years, after six people were killed by a man at Bondi.

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Eisman identifies infrastructure as key investment opportunity

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Famed investor Steve Eisman, has shifted his focus to infrastructure, citing three main reasons.

 

The pandemic-induced shift towards onshore investment, the rise of AI necessitating data centre expansion, and the global push towards greener energy.

Eisman believes these trends offer a decade-long opportunity for investors, with Australia presenting ample opportunities for market participation.

Notable companies to consider for exposure include BlueScope and James Hardie Industries for building materials, Macquarie Technology and Goodman Group for data centres, and Worley, AGL Energy, and Origin Energy for electricity grid upgrades and green infrastructure.

However, Eisman cautions investors to approach utility investments carefully, considering their capital expenditure budgets in renewable energy and grid upgrades.

 

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Civil War cinema brings in the box office dollars

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Alex Garland’s film “Civil War” has made a significant impact at the box office, surpassing expectations with a $25.7 million opening weekend in North America.

Starring Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, and Cailee Spaeny, the film explores a near-future scenario where California and Texas unite against a president’s authoritarian regime. Despite fictional elements, “Civil War” has sparked widespread discussion, with its themes resonating in today’s political climate. The film’s performance, coupled with positive reviews, suggests a promising trajectory in the coming weeks, bolstered by a relatively quiet release schedule.

You can catch the trailer here

 

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