First Thing: Trump and two eldest children must testify in fraud case


Show caption Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump, during the unveiling of the design for the Trump International Hotel in 2013. Photograph: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP First Thing First Thing: Trump and two eldest children must testify in fraud case Former president has to testify within 21 days and hand over documents within a fortnight. Plus, the answer to our productivity crisis? Clea Skopeliti Fri 18 Feb 2022 10.46 GMT Share on Facebook

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Good morning.

Donald Trump and his two eldest children have been ordered by a New York judge to sit for a civil deposition in the deepening investigation over alleged fraud in the valuation of assets belonging to his family business.

Judge Arthur Engoron ordered Trump, Donald Jr and Ivanka to comply with subpoenas issued by the New York state attorney general, Letitia James, intensifying the former president’s legal woes in a week in which his accounting firm cut ties with him after a decade.

Trump must testify within 21 days and submit “documents and information” within a fortnight. Responding to the ruling, he accused James’s office of “doing everything within their corrupt discretion to interfere with [his] business relationships and with the political process” and labeled the ruling a “witch-hunt”.

The case is running parallel to a criminal investigation, conducted by James with the Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg, into Trump accounts. Testifying could risk Trump potentially implicating himself.

Could Trump plead the fifth? It would be tricky: his criminal defense lawyer says it would be front-page news and would make it impossible to pick a jury. Additionally, Trump has previously mocked the practice, saying: “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the fifth amendment?”

What’s next? Trump is likely to appeal against the decision ordering him to comply with the subpoena.

Republicans who opposed racial justice protests hope truckers ‘clog up’ US cities

Rand Paul, who has criticized the disruptive tactics of racial justice protesters in the US, is ‘all for’ the disruption of a trucker convoy. Photograph: Greg Nash/AP

Republicans who legislated against the disruption caused by racial justice protests following George Floyd’s murder have come out in favour of similar tactics used by conservative trucker convoys opposing public health rules.

The Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, last year signed an anti-rioting law that included giving a degree of legal protection to drivers who ran over protesters. A federal judge struck down the law in September, ruling it unconstitutional. But now, DeSantis has thrown his weight behind the Canadian truckers, whose protests against a vaccine mandate are causing disruptions to the global supply chain.

Meanwhile, the Kentucky senator Rand Paul, who was opposed to the tactics used by racial justice protesters, has said he is “all for” the disruption caused by the convoy. “I hope the truckers do come to America. I hope they clog up cities,” he said.

Who else has backed the convoy? Ted Cruz has demanded an investigation into GoFundMe after it deleted the page for donations to Canadian truckers, as did DeSantis. The Ohio congressman Jim Jordan also criticized the platform.

How should the double standard be understood? This rhetoric is Republicans seizing any opportunity to attack Joe Biden – rather than being part of a “hard ideological stance”, said Jared Holt, an extremism researcher.

Berkeley may have to slash admissions after neighborhood group complains

Save Berkeley Neighborhoods contends that increasing enrolment at UC Berkeley is an environmental hazard. Photograph: roberthardin/Rex/Shutterstock

The University of California, Berkeley may be forced to cut its new admissions by about a third after a local neighborhood group pushed back against the environmental impact of its expansion plan.

Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods successfully argued the college was in breach of a major environmental law by failing to account for increases in the trash, traffic and noise that would accompany the plan. The university is asking California’s supreme court to intervene.

In the university’s environmental impact study for the new construction, it argued rising enrolment had had “no significant environmental impacts” in previous years, but a county judge disagreed in August. Save Berkeley’s Neighborhoods also argued that a lack of housing had meant students had pushed into the city, affecting housing.

What has the challenge achieved? The university will send out 5,100 fewer admission letters than planned next month, missing out on $57m in tuition fees over the 2022-23 academic year.

What do critics say? They argue the California Environmental Quality Act is being used as a pretext to block necessary housing and infrastructure.

In other news …

Members of the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination on ceasefire of the demarcation line, or JCCC, take forensic photos of a crater and damage to a house from artillery shell that landed in Vrubivka. Photograph: Vadim Ghirdă/AP

Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of shelling and other ceasefire violations as tensions continued to grow. The accusations, coming from Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed rebels in the country’s east, involved both sides claiming there were incidents of mortar fire on Friday.

Almost half of bald eagles tested across the US exhibit signs of chronic lead exposure, according to a study. Harmful levels of toxic lead were found in the bones of 46% of bald eagles in 38 states.

A court in India has sentenced 38 people to death for a series of bombings in 2008 that killed 56 and wounded 200 in Ahmedabad, Gujarat state. It is the first time so many death sentences have been handed out in a single case.

Stat of the day: millennials in 2019 were poorer than people of a similar age in any year from 1989 to 2007

Julia Garner as Anna Delvey in Netflix’s Inventing Anna. Photograph: Nicole Rivelli/AP

In a brutal comparison revealing distorted views of wealth, the freelance journalist Laura Martin points out that while a survey in 2018 found that 53% of US millennials expected to become a millionaire at some point in their lifetime, millennials in 2019 were less wealthy than people their age in any year from 1989 to 2007.

Don’t miss this: is this the answer to our productivity crisis?

‘Sitting down with another human being and sharing those goals creates both accountability and urgency.’ Illustration: Carmen Casado/The Guardian

When the pandemic hit and remote working began, freelance writer Sam Wolfson was hit with a productivity crisis. Procrastination meant that tasks that would take him a few hours in the office ended up seeping into his early mornings and evenings. So he started using Focusmate, a site that uses accountability to keep you working on the task at hand, which he says “saved” him. Wolfson speaks to the site’s creator about the psychology behind it.

Last Thing: Robert Pattinson was told to change his ‘absolutely atrocious’ Batman voice

‘They told me to stop doing it’: Robert Pattinson in The Batman. Photograph: AP

Photograph: Album/Alamy

Robert Pattinson tried to add his personal touch to Batman by giving the character a different voice, but was asked to stop because it was “absolutely atrocious”. “Everyone does this kind of gruff, gravelly thing, and I’m like, ‘I’m going to do the opposite, I’m gonna go really whispery’,” Pattinson said. “I tried to do it for the first two weeks, and it just looked absolutely atrocious, and they told me to stop doing it.”

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