Trump news – live: Trump blames banks for tax scandal and says he can declassify papers by thinking about it

Fomer president Donald Trump speaking in Ohio

New York Attorney General Letitia James is suing Donald Trump and the Trump Organization for engaging in “numerous acts of fraud and misrepresentation” in preparing annual financial statements between 2011 and 2021.

The lawsuit says the fraud was approved at the highest levels of the company, including by Mr Trump himself as well as his children Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump. The fraud and misrepresentation also grossly inflated Mr Trump’s personal net worth by billions of dollars.

The former presiden’s legal drama continued on Wednesday, as a federal appeals court held the Department of Justice can use the classified documents it seized in its search of Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate as part of its ongoing investigation.

During an interview on Wednesday night with Fox News, Mr Trump dismissed the suit as a “witch hunt,” and claimed he shouldn’t be being investigated by the FBI either because he has the authority to declassify documents just “by thinking about it.”

Meanwhile, Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, agreed on Wednesday to a voluntary interview with the January 6 committee in Congress.

Ms Thomas urged numerous top Trump administration officials and allies to challenge the 2020 election result.

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Five key takeaways from New York’s $250m lawsuit against Trump

The lawsuit details how the Trump Organization falsified financial statements and the value of his property, the role of his children in all of this, and his bizarre attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills. Eric Garcia takes a look at the suit.

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Trump claims FBI took his last will and testament in Mar-a-Lago search

Former president Donald Trump claimed the FBI agents who executed a court-authorised search of his Palm Beach, Florida home took his last will and testament in addition to the 100 classified documents found in his office and a nearby storage room.

“They took a lot. I think they took my will. I found out yesterday,” said the twice-impeached ex-president during an appearance on Fox News’ host Sean Hannity’s eponymous nightly programme.

Mr Trump told Hannity his attorneys and the National Archives and Records Administration were “having very nice discussions, no problems,” when “all of a sudden we got hit very hard by the FBI” on 8 August.

When the twice-impeached ex-president suggested that FBI agents had taken his will, Hannity responded: “Am I in it?”

Andrew Feinberg is following the news from Washington.

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

Donald Trump says he can declassify top secret government documents just “by thinking about it”.

In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, the former president repeated his claim that dozens of secret and confidential papers seized at this Mar-a-Lago home had been declassified.

Asked about the process needed to do that, Mr Trump said: “There doesn’t have to be a process, as I understand it. If you’re the president of the United States, you can declassify, even by thinking about it.”

Andrew Feinberg is following the breaking news for The Independent.

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Donald Trump defends his handling of documents, even as special master expresses doubts

Donald Trump is now defending his handling of highly sensitive national security documents, claiming in an interview on Fox News on Wednesday that the president can declassify documents just by saying so or even thinking it.

“You’re the president, you make that decision,” Mr Trump said, adding, “I declassified the documents when they left the White House.”

The special master, which the Trump team requested be appointed to oversee privilege issues surrounding the White House documents seized by the FBI, has been skeptical of this rationale.

The official has asked Mr Trump’s lawyers to specifically lay out when and how Mr Trump declassified various documents that were recovered in the suit.

So far the former president’s lawyers have said they were “not in a position” to say whether the records at issue were in fact declassified by Mr Trump before he left office.

“You did bring a lawsuit,” Judge Raymond Dearie said in a hearing on Tuesday.

The official said that unless Mr Trump was willing to specifically challenge the classification status of various documents with his own evidence, the special master would likely side with the government’s argument that the documents remained protected.

“As far as I’m concerned, that’s the end of it,” Mr Dearie said, adding, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

If that’s the case, taking the documents to Mar-a-Lago and storing them in an unsecure way, as the Justice Department alleges, would likely constitute a violation of federal law.

Here’s our reporting on the special master developments in recent days.

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Trump claims he was cooperating on handling of White House records seized in Mar-a-Lago raid

Donald Trump is painting an alternative facts-style narrative about his handling of classified White House records, the subject of an FBI investigation into the former president.

In an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, Mr Trump told Sean Hannity he wasn’t involved in packing up presidential records as he left the White House, and described a cordial set of conversations with the National Archives over his handling of the materials. So cordial, in fact, Mr Trump said the agency was thanking him.

“There was nothing that was hiding,” Mr Trump said.

“We were having very nice discussions, no problem, and all of a sudden we get by the FBI very hard,” he added.

In reality, in January of 2022, the records agency said it had identified highly sensitive materials being kept at Mar-a-Lago and asked for permission to alert the FBI.

In May, the agency also summarily rejected Mr Trump’s argumensts that his executive and attorney-client privilege protects handing over the documents.

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Trump denies inflating assets and teases settlement in Fox interview after NY lawsuit

Donald Trump is using his Fox News interview to push back on one of the key claims in the recent lawsuit against him from the New York attorney general’s office: that he inflated the value of Trump Organization properties to obtain financial benefits.

The former president told anchor Sean Hannity on Wednesday his company always offered a disclaimer to potential clients not to rely solely on their in-house valuations.

“What we do is, here’s financial statement, but be careful. It may not be accurate,” Mr Trump said, describing the process. “Get your own people. Use Your own appraiser. Use your own lawyers. Don’t rely on us. And then they sued us.”

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Donald Trump dismisses AG lawsuit as ‘witch hunt’

Donald Trump has continued to brush off the bombshell $250m lawsuit the New York attorney general filed against him and the Trump Organization, accusing them of years of financial crimes. “This was just a continuation of a witch hunt that began when I came down the escalator of Trump Tower,” Mr Trump told Fox News’s Sean Hannity on Fox News on Wednesday.

Here’s our story about the suit.

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Donald Trump to give major interview about Mar-a-Lago raid on Fox News

The conversation with host Sean Hannity, which airs at 6pm ET on Fox News, is sure to make headlines.

Watch the former president’s remarks here.

We’ll be following the action live.

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White House twitter account trolls Ted Cruz for boasting about new highway: ‘Senator Cruz voted against this’

The White House Twitter account called out Ted Cruz after he praised a new highway project that he actually voted against.

The US Senator from Texas has seemingly been trying to take credit for the “Ports to Plains” project, leading to the White House trolling the Republican politician.

“The Ports to Plains highway will run from Laredo all the way up to North Dakota and into Canada. This project will bring jobs to Texas and millions of dollars to the state. A great bipartisan victory!” tweeted Mr Cruz.

In response, the White House simply tweeted, “Senator Cruz voted against this.”

Graeme Massie is following the story.

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Michael Cohen thanks Letitia James for shout-out at Trump lawsuit announcement

Michael Cohen, the disbarred attorney for former president Donald Trump who has become a vocal critic of his former boss, thanked New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday after she acknowledged his role in revealing the misconduct that is now the subject of a $250m lawsuit against the Trump Organization.

Andrew Feinberg has the story.

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