NYC inundated after heavy rains flood area – State of emergency declared!

Dear Commons Community,

Rainstorms swamped the New York metropolitan area yesterday, shutting down subways and commuter railroads, flooding streets and highways, and delaying flights into the airports.

Up to 5 inches of rain fell in some areas overnight, and as much as 7 inches more was expected throughout the day, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said yesterday morning.

By midday, although there was a break in the downpour, Mayor Eric Adams urged people to stay put if possible.  As reported by The New York Daily News and the Associated Press.

“It is not over, and I don’t want those gaps in heavy rain to give the appearance that it is over,” he said at a news briefing. He and Hochul, both Democrats, declared states of emergency.

No storm-related deaths or critical injuries had been reported as of midday, city officials said. But residents struggled to get around the waterlogged metropolis.

Traffic hit a standstill, with water above cars’ tires, on a stretch of the FDR Drive — a major artery along the east side of Manhattan. Some drivers abandoned their vehicles.

Priscilla Fontallio said she had been stranded in her car, which was on a piece of the highway that wasn’t flooded but wasn’t moving, for three hours as of 11 a.m.

“Never seen anything like this in my life,” she said.

On a street in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, workers were up to their knees in water as they tried to unclog a storm drain while cardboard and other debris floated by. The city said that it checked and cleared key drains, especially near subway stations, ahead of the storm.

As the rain briefly slowed, residents emerged from their homes to survey the damage and begin draining the water that had reached the top of many basement doors. Some people arranged milk crates and wooden boards to cross the flooded sidewalks, with water close to waist-deep in the middle of some streets.

High school student Malachi Clark stared at a flooded intersection, unsure how to proceed as he tried to get home to Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. He had tried to take a bus, then a train.

“When it stops the buses and subways, you know it’s bad,” he said. Bus service was severely disrupted citywide, according to the the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

A Brooklyn school was evacuated because its boiler was smoking, possibly because water had gotten into it, Schools Chancellor David Banks said at the news briefing. Environmental Protection Commissioner Rohit T. Aggarwala said that more than 2.5 inches of rain fell in a single hour at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, overwhelming the surrounding drainage systems.

Elsewhere, photos and video posted on social media showed water pouring into subway stations and basements.

Jessie Lawrence said she awoke to the sound of rain dripping from the ceiling of her fourth-floor apartment in Brooklyn ’s Crown Heights neighborhood. She set out a bowl to catch the drips, but she could hear strange sounds coming from outside her door.

“I opened my front door, and the water was coming in thicker and louder,” pouring into the hallway and flowing down the stairs, she said. The heavy rainfall had pooled atop the roof and was leaking through a skylight above the stairwell.

Dominic Ramunni, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in New York, said yesterday’s rain was brought by a coastal storm, with low pressure off the East Coast helping to bring in some deep moisture from the Atlantic Ocean.

“This will be one of the wettest days in quite some time,” he said.

Virtually every subway line was at least partly suspended, rerouted or running with delays, and the Metro-North commuter railroad was suspended.

Flights into LaGuardia were halted Friday morning, and then delayed, because of water in the airport’s refueling area. Flooding also forced the closure of one of the airport’s three terminals.

Hoboken, New Jersey, and other cities and towns around New York City also experienced flooding.

The deluge came less than three months after a storm caused deadly floods in New York’s Hudson Valley and left Vermont’s capital, Montpelier, submerged. A little over two years ago, the remnants of Hurricane Ida dropped record-breaking rain on the Northeast and killed at least 13 people in New York City, most of whom were in flooded basement apartments. Overall, 50 people died from Virginia to Connecticut.

Wate, water everywhere!  And thank God there were no fatalities!


Trump ally, Scott Hall, flips and is the first to plead guilty in Georgia elections case!

Scott Hall

Dear Commons Community,

Former Republican bail bondsman Scott Hall, one of the 19 people charged alongside Donald Trump for conspiring to overturn the 2020 election results in the state of Georgia, entered into a plea agreement yesterday, becoming the first defendant to plead guilty in the sprawling criminal case.

The surprise move from Hall came after he gave a recorded statement, it was revealed in court, to prosecutors who are almost certain to use that testimony against the former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell when she goes to trial in October accused of several of the same crimes.

A transcript of the court proceeding showed Hall pleading guilty to five counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference with the performance of election duties, a misdemeanor charge.

Hall was sentenced to five years’ probation, a $5,000 fine, 200 hours of community service, and to write an apology letter to the state.  As reported by The Guardian.

The description of the plea agreement suggested prosecutors were interested in having Hall flip against Trump and the other co-defendants in the wider Rico case, but especially against people like Powell who had similar legal exposure to him and also had direct links to Trump.

In addition to contacts with Powell, Hall also had a 63 minute phone call with former Trump justice department official Jeffrey Clark on 2 January 2021 where they discussed the 2020 election results in Georgia, according to the indictment. Clark, another co-defendant, lost his bid to transfer his case to federal court on Monday.

Hall was indicted by an Atlanta-area grand jury last month on charges, brought by the Fulton county district attorney, Fani Willis, that he had played a role in trying to reverse Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election in a brazen plot to access voting machines in Coffee county, Georgia.

The scheme involved several Trump allies hiring a team of forensics experts that gained unauthorized access to the voting machines and copied virtually every part of the elections systems, before uploading them to a password-protected website that could be accessed by 2020 election deniers.

A day after the Capitol attack in Washington, surveillance footage showed data experts from SullivanStrickler, a firm that specializes in “imaging”, or making exact copies, of electronic devices, arrive at the Coffee county election office and meeting with Hall as well as others.

What happened inside the elections office is only partially captured on surveillance video, but records show the Sullivan/Strickler team imaged almost every component of the election systems, including ballot scanners, the server used to count votes, thumb drives and flash memory cards.

Hall was charged with multiple counts including engaging in the Rico (racketeering) plot, conspiring to commit election fraud, conspiring to commit computer theft, conspiring to commit computer trespass, conspiracy to commit computer invasion of privacy and conspiracy to defraud the state of Georgia.

Powell, the former Trump lawyer who was charged with many of the same criminal violations, has argued that she did nothing wrong because it was only her non-profit company that paid the forensics experts and that there had been authorization from officials to access the voting machines.

The exact nature of the recorded statement that Hall gave prosecutors remains unclear because it took place before he revealed he had taken the plea agreement and was not available on the case docket.

But Melissa Redmon, a former deputy Fulton county district attorney and assistant professor at the University of Georgia School of Law, said Hall probably got the agreement because his testimony would undercut Powell’s defense arguments that the voting machine breaches were above board.

The jury selection for Powell’s case, where she is being tried alongside another ex-Trump lawyer called Kenneth Chesebro, is scheduled to start on 23 October. Powell and Chesebro are going separately from the other co-defendants after they requested a speedy trial under Georgia state law.

Now that one indictee in this case has flipped, might we see others do the same!



General Mark Milley says he has taken “appropriate” safety measures after Trump calls for his death on social media!

Mark Milley.  Photo  by Al Drago Bloomberg/ Getty Images.

Dear Commons Community,

Outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has taken “appropriate measures” to ensure his safety, he said this week in his first public response to shocking comments made by former President Donald Trump suggesting that the Army general is a traitor who deserves execution. 

Trump last week accused Milley of going behind his back to communicate with China during the final months of the Trump administration. Milley, who was nominated to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by Trump, is set to leave his military leadership post tomorrow.. The general has stood by his communications with China and said he wishes that Trump hadn’t made his comments. As reported by CBS News.

“I’ll take appropriate measures to ensure my safety and the safety of my family,” Milley said. 

What former President Trump said about Gen. Milley

The public disagreements between Trump and Milley have gone on for years. A 2021 book suggested Milley was concerned Trump might attempt a power grab over the 2020 election results. Milley in 2021 refused to comment on the reports.

Trump, in his Friday Truth Social post, also targeted Milley’s role in the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. The former president  indicated that Milley’s decision to leave office was cause for celebration. 

“This guy turned out to be a Woke train wreck who, if the Fake News reporting is correct, was actually dealing with China to give them a heads up on the thinking of the President of the United States,” Trump wrote on his social platform Truth Social. “This is an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH! A war between China and the United States could have been the result of this treasonous act.”

Gen. Milley’s response to former President Trump’s comments

Milley, when asked about the post suggesting he should deserve the death penalty, stressed that he’s a soldier who’s been faithful to the Constitution for more than 44 years. He said he’s willing to die to support and defend the Constitution. 

“So I’m not gonna comment directly on those, those things,” he said. “But I can tell you that this military, this soldier, me, will never turn our back on that Constitution.”

Milley also said there was nothing inappropriate or treasonous about his calls to China. 

Gen. Milley’s calls to China

The chairman’s spokesperson in 2021 said the general’s calls to China were part of his regular communications with defense chiefs worldwide. The spokesperson described the calls as being crucial to reducing tensions between nations, as well as “avoiding unintended consequences or conflict.”

“His calls with the Chinese and others in October and January were in keeping with these duties and responsibilities conveying reassurance in order to maintain strategic stability,” the spokesperson said in a written statement at the time. “All calls from the chairman to his counterparts, including those reported, are staffed, coordinated and communicated with the Department of Defense and the interagency.”

Milley’s calls with his Chinese counterpart were revealed in “Peril,” a book by reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, now a CBS News correspondent. There were reports that toward the end of the Trump administration, Milley assured General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army that the U.S. would not launch an attack against China. 

Milley is set to appear in an upcoming CBS 60 Minutes episode to discuss why he thought his calls to China were not only proper, but also necessary to avert further conflict. 

Milley is a military hero.  Trump can’t stand military heroes!


Michael Cohen’s revenge: Donald Trump’s fraud was exposed by his ex-fixer!

Michael Cohen.  Photo by Barry Williams/for New York Daily News

Dear Commons Community,

The following is an editorial that appeared in The New York Daily News last evening.

“The damning civil court ruling that Donald Trump had systematically lied on statements of financial condition he supplied to lenders and insurers and will be stripped of his ability to conduct business in New York and exposed to a possible quarter-billion dollar fine could have and should have also carried a criminal penalty, had only someone brought the case. And that criminal case should still be brought. Who will step up?

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg declined to seek an indictment on this valuations case, despite his predecessor Cy Vance laying out the groundwork by prosecutors Mark Pomerantz and Carey Dunne.

State Attorney General Tish James, who did a fantastic job on this civil proceeding before Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, could obtain a criminal referral and pursue prison for Trump.

Manhattan United States Attorney Damian Williams could also have a go, as could the IRS. Do it. Justice demands so.

The facts are all there, as Engoron wrote in his 35-page decision: “the documents here clearly contain fraudulent valuations that defendants used in business.” Trump, as we have long known, lies about everything, even the size of his 10,996 square foot Trump Tower triplex, which he claimed was three times as large at 30,000 square feet, causing Engoron to conclude: “A discrepancy of this order of magnitude, by a real estate developer sizing up his own living space of decades, can only be considered fraud.” And on and on and on. Liar, liar, liar. Fraud, fraud, fraud. Cheat, cheat, cheat.

The comeuppance for the con man is thanks to his one-time bagman, fixer Michael Cohen. That Trump toady ratted out the Boss and the whole Trump Organization after he was left out in the cold and prosecuted by the feds in 2018 for carrying Trump’s water. He pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations related to hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to cover up Trump’s trysts and tax evasion and making false statements to a federally insured bank, as well as lying to Congress.

But before Cohen reported to federal prison to start his three-year sentence, he gave testimony to the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 27, 2019, a day after he was disbarred by the New York courts for his felony convictions.

He told the Congress that “Mr. Trump is a cheat. It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in Forbes and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.”

Asked by Rep. Lacy Clay from St. Louis, “To your knowledge, did the president ever provide inflated assets to a bank in order to help him obtain a loan?”

Cohen said: “These documents and others were provided to Deutsche Bank on one occasion where I was with them in our attempt to obtain money so that we can put a bid on the Buffalo Bills.”

Asked by freshman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, barely a month into her tenure: “To your knowledge, did the president ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company? Cohen said yes.

AOC: “Do you think we need to review his financial statements and his tax returns in order to compare them?”

Cohen: “Yes, and you would find it at The Trump Org.”

And that’s just what happened.”

Payback is a “b****”!


In Hollywood writers’ battle against AI, humans win (for now)!

Dear Commons Community,

On the issue of artificial intelligence and its impact on workers and their rights, the Hollywood screenwriters strike was an opening salvo.  After 148-days on the picket line, the screenwriters secured significant guardrails against the use of artificial intelligence in their workplaces.

During the five-month walkout, no issue resonated more than the use of AI in script writing. What was once a seemingly lesser demand of the Writers Guild of America became an existential rallying cry.

The strike was also about streaming-era economics, writers room minimums and residuals — not exactly compelling picket-sign fodder. But the threat of AI vividly casts the writers’ plight as a human-versus-machine clash, with widespread implications for other industries facing a radically new kind of automation.  Here is commentary courtesy of the Associated Press.

In the coming weeks, WGA members will vote on whether to ratify a tentative agreement, which requires studios and production companies to disclose to writers if any material given to them has been generated by AI partially or in full. AI cannot be a credited writer. AI cannot write or rewrite “literary material.” AI-generated writing cannot be source material.

“AI-generated material can’t be used to undermine a writer’s credit or separated rights,” the proposed contract reads.

Many experts see the screenwriters’ deal as a forerunner for labor battles to come.

“I hope it will be a model for a lot of other content-creation industries,” said Tom Davenport, a professor of information technology at Babson College and author of “ All-in on AI: How Smart Companies Win Big with Artificial Intelligence.” “It pretty much insures that if you’re going to use AI, it’s going to be humans working alongside AI. That, to me, has always been the best way to use any form of AI.”

The tentative agreement between the Writers Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which negotiates on behalf of the studios, doesn’t prohibit all uses of artificial intelligence. Both sides have acknowledged it can be a worthwhile tool in many aspects of filmmaking, including script writing.

The deal states that writers can use AI if the company consents. But a company cannot require a writer to use AI software.

Language over AI became a sticking point in the writers’ negotiations, which dragged on last week in part due to the challenges of bargaining on such a fast-evolving technology.

When the writers strike began on May 2, it was just five months after OpenAI released ChatGPT, the AI chatbot that can write essays, have sophisticated conversations and craft stories from a handful of prompts. Studios said it was it too early to tackle AI in these negotiations and preferred to wait until 2026.

Ultimately, they hashed out terms while noting that the outlook is certain to change. Under the draft contract, “the parties acknowledge that the legal landscape around the use of (generative AI) is uncertain and rapidly developing.” The companies and the guild agreed to meet at least twice a year during the contract’s three-year term.

At the same time, there are no prohibitions on studios using scripts they own to train AI systems. The WGA left those issues up to the legal system to parse. A clause notes that writers retain the right to assert that their work has been exploited in training AI software.

That’s been an increasingly prominent concern in the literary world. Last week, 17 authors, including John Grisham, Jonathan Franzen and George R.R. Martin, filed a lawsuit against OpenAI alleging the “systematic theft on a massive scale” of their copyrighted books.

The terms the WGA achieved will surely be closely watched by others — particularly the striking members of the actors union, SAG-AFTRA.

“This is the first step on a long process of negotiating and working through what generative AI means for the creative industry — not just writers but visual artists, actors, you name it,” says David Gunkel, a professor of media studies at Northern Illinois University and author of “Person, Thing, Robot.”

Actors, on strike since July 14, are likewise seeking better compensation from streaming. But they are also demanding safeguards against AI, which can potentially use a star’s likeness without his or her permission or replace background actors entirely.

Attempts to adopt AI “as a normal operating procedure” are “literally dehumanizing the workforce,” actor Bryan Cranston said recently on a picket line. “It’s not good for society. It’s not good for our environment. It’s not good for working-class families.”

In other developments, SAG-AFTRA members voted overwhelmingly Monday in favor of a strike authorization against video game companies. The use of AI in gaming is a particularly acute anxiety for voice-over actors.

Some skeptics doubt whether the writers made significant headway on AI. Media mogul Barry Diller, chairman of the digital media company IAC, believes not enough was done.

“They spent months trying to craft words to protect writers from AI, and they ended up with a paragraph that protected nothing from no one,” Diller told CNBC.

Robert D. Atkinson, president of the tech policy think tank Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, said limiting AI is unproductive.

“If we ban the use of tools to make organizations more productive, we are consigning ourselves to stagnation,” Atkinson write on X, formerly known as Twitter.

What most observers agree on, though, is that this was just the first of many AI labor disputes. Gunkel expects to see both writers and studios continue to experiment with AI.

“We’re so early into this that no one is able to anticipate everything that might come up with generative AI in the creative industries,” Gunkel said. “We’re going to see the need again and again to revisit a lot of these questions.”



Scott Jennings on Last Night’s Republican Debate: “Unwatchable”

Dear Commons Community,

Last night’s Republican Presidential Candidate Debate was a major disappointment. A lot of softball questions, candidates speaking over one another, and major issues such as the looming federal government shutdown and Trump indictments ignored.  Scott Jennings, a Republican conservative writer and commentator, described the debate as “unwatchable.”     Here is a brief recap of several moments courtesy of the Associated Press.

“The candidates often went after Trump on their own, hoping to distinguish themselves at a critical moment with less than four months before the Iowa caucuses launch the presidential nomination process. Trump has continued to dominate the field even as he faces a range of vulnerabilities, including four criminal cases that raise the prospect of decades in prison. “He should be on this stage tonight,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is attempting to establish himself as the leading Trump alternative despite recent struggles to break out from the rest of the pack. “He owes it to you to defend his record where they added $7.8 trillion to the debt. That set the stage for the inflation we have now.”

Several others blistered Trump for not showing up, a departure from the first debate, when the field mostly lined up behind former president. DeSantis said just a few minutes in that President Joe Biden was “completely missing in action from leadership. And you know who else is missing in action? Donald Trump is missing in action.”

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has built his campaign around criticizing Trump, said the former president “hides behind the walls of his golf clubs and won’t show up here to answer questions like all the rest of us are up here to answer.”

“Donald, I know you’re watching. You can’t help yourself,” Christie said. “You’re ducking these things. And let me tell you what’s going to happen. You keep doing that, no one here’s going to call you Donald Trump anymore. We’re going to call you Donald Duck.”

Even Vivek Ramaswamy, the entrepreneur who has declared Trump to be the “best president of the 21st century,” distanced himself and argued he was a natural successor.

“Yes, I will respect Donald Trump and his legacy because it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “But we will unite this country to take the America First agenda to the next level. And that will take a different generation to do it.”

Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador, drew larger crowds and new interest after the first debate. Her team raised expectations prior to Wednesday’s debate ahead of an expected campaign swing in Iowa.

Haley didn’t single out Trump but instead picked multiple fights with Ramaswamy, as she did in August. She assailed him for creating a campaign account on TikTok, the social media app that many Republicans criticize as a possible spy tool for China.

“Honestly, every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say,” Haley said.

Haley also fought with Sen. Tim Scott, her fellow South Carolinian and once her pick to fill the state’s open Senate seat. As Scott accused Haley of backing a gas tax as South Carolina governor and upgrading the curtains in her office as United Nations ambassador, Haley responded, “Bring it, Tim.”

After a first debate in which he assailed rivals and derided the rest of the field as “bought and paid for,” Ramaswamy tried to show a softer side when Haley and others went after him. After Haley’s attack on his use of TikTok, Ramaswamy said, “I think we would be better served as a Republican Party if we’re not sitting here hurling personal insults.”

DeSantis sniped at Ramaswamy and so did Pence, suggesting that he’d failed to vote in many past elections. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum steered clear of Ramaswamy, but repeatedly jumped in to answer questions he wasn’t asked to get himself more screen time in the debate’s early going. He repeatedly shouted for attention from the left end of the stage, leading a moderator to threaten to cut his microphone.

In one awkward exchange, two candidates made references to sex in talking about teachers unions. “When you have the president of the United States sleeping with a member of the teachers union, there is no chance that you can take the stranglehold away from the teachers union,” Christie said at one point, referencing first lady Jill Biden’s teaching career and longtime membership in the National Education Association.

A short time later, Pence turned to Christie: “I’ve been sleeping with a teacher for 38 years. Full disclosure.” His wife, Karen, is a teacher.

The night concluded with the moderators noting that it was unlikely a divided field could stop Trump, but then asking candidates to say who they would vote off the island, an apparent reference to the “Survivor” reality show. The proposed game didn’t get far as DeSantis suggested it was insulting.

I agree with Scott Jennings assessment – “unwatchable.”



UAW President Shawn Fain says he wants no part of Donald Trump who works for the ‘billionaire class’

UAW President Shawn Fein Miranda Nazzaro (The Hill)

Dear Commons Community,

United Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain took it to former President Trump, saying he serves a “billionaire class,” a day ahead of Trump’s visit to Detroit where he will speak to union workers.

When asked on CNN about the former president’s trip to Detroit, Fain said, “I see no point in meeting with him because I don’t think the man has any bit of care about what our workers stand for, what the working class stands for.”

“He serves a billionaire class and that’s what’s wrong in this country,” Fain continued.

Trump is expected to travel to Detroit today, where he will meet with current and former union workers amid their ongoing strike against the “Big Three” automakers — Ford, General Motors and Stellantis.

Fain said it is “pathetic irony” Trump will reportedly hold a rally at a non-union plant in Macomb County, Mich.  As reported  by The Hill.

“All you have to do is look at his track record,” Fain said. “His track record speaks for itself. In 2008, during the Great Recession, he blamed UAW members, he blamed our contracts for everything that was wrong with these companies — that’s a complete lie.”

Fain pointed to Trump’s discussion during his 2016 presidential campaign to move jobs in the Midwest to the South, which he said would “make people beg for their jobs back at lower wages.”

“And the ultimate show of…how much he cares about our workers was in 2019 when he was the president of the United States,” Fain said. ‘Where was he then? Our workers at GM [General Motors] were on strike for 60 days, for two months. They were out there on the picket lines, I didn’t see him hold a rally. I didn’t see him stand up at the picket line.”

Meanwhile, President Biden joined the picket line with union autoworkers on yesterday, becoming the first sitting president to do so. The move was seen by some as a likely offense against Trump, who is likely to be his 2024 presidential opponent.

The president spoke to a group at a General Motors facility in Belleville, Mich., alongside Fain, who has yet to endorse Biden’s reelection bid, citing concerns over the Biden administration’s push for electric vehicles (EVs), which put autoworkers’ jobs at risk.

When pressed on if his jabs at Trump indicate an endorsement for Biden, Fain said, “It’s not an endorsement for anyone, it’s just flat out how I view the former president.”

UAW began its historic strike against the automakers nearly two weeks ago after ongoing negotiations failed and the workers’ contracts expired.

The union is asking for wage increases, cost-of-living pay raises, a 32-hour work week with 40 hours of pay, union representation at new battery plants, restoration of traditional-defined benefit pensions for new hires who currently receive only 401(k)-style retirement plans, and pension increases for retirees.

Fain has it right!


Donald Trump and his sons found liable for fraud claim brought by New York AG Letitia James!

Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump

Dear Commons Community,

State Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron found Donald Trump, his sons, Eric and Don Jr., and multiple Trump Organization entities liable on fraud claim in a $250 million lawsuit, which alleges they lied about the value of company assets by hundreds of millions of dollars for a decade and repeatedly used the fake numbers in business transactions.

Judge Engoron ruled yesterday that Donald Trump committed fraud for years while building the real estate empire that catapulted him to fame and the White House, and he ordered some of the former president’s companies removed from his control and dissolved.

Judge Engoron, ruling in a civil lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, found that Trump and his company deceived banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing loans.

Engoron ordered that some of Trump’s business licenses be rescinded as punishment, making it difficult or impossible for them to do business in New York, and said he would continue to have an independent monitor oversee Trump Organization operations. As reported by the Associated Press.

If not successfully appealed, the order would strip Trump of his authority to make strategic and financial decisions over some of his key properties in the state.

Trump, in a series of statements, railed against the decision, calling it “un-American” and part of an ongoing plot to damage his campaign to return to the White House.

“My Civil rights have been violated, and some Appellate Court, whether federal or state, must reverse this horrible, un-American decision,” he wrote on his Truth Social site. He insisted his company had “done a magnificent job for New York State” and “done business perfectly,” calling it “A very sad Day for the New York State System of Justice!”

Trump’s lawyer, Christopher Kise, said they would appeal, calling the decision “completely disconnected from the facts and governing law.”

Engoron’s ruling, days before the start of a non-jury trial in James’ lawsuit, is the strongest repudiation yet of Trump’s carefully coiffed image as a wealthy and shrewd real estate mogul turned political powerhouse.

Beyond mere bragging about his riches, Trump, his company and key executives repeatedly lied about them on his annual financial statements, reaping rewards such as favorable loan terms and lower insurance costs, Engoron found.

Those tactics crossed a line and violated the law, the judge said, rejecting Trump’s contention that a disclaimer on the financial statements absolved him of any wrongdoing.

“In defendants’ world: rent regulated apartments are worth the same as unregulated apartments; restricted land is worth the same as unrestricted land; restrictions can evaporate into thin air; a disclaimer by one party casting responsibility on another party exonerates the other party’s lies,” Engoron wrote in his 35-page ruling. “That is a fantasy world, not the real world.”

Manhattan prosecutors had looked into bringing criminal charges over the same conduct but declined to do so, leaving James to sue Trump and seek penalties that aim to disrupt his and his family’s ability to do business.

Engoron’s ruling, in a phase of the case known as summary judgment, resolves the key claim in James’ lawsuit, but several others remain. He’ll decide on those claims and James’ request for $250 million in penalties at a trial starting Oct. 2. Trump’s lawyers have asked an appeals court for a delay.

“Today, a judge ruled in our favor and found that Donald Trump and the Trump Organization engaged in years of financial fraud,” James said in a statement. “We look forward to presenting the rest of our case at trial.”

Trump’s lawyers, in their own summary judgment bid, had asked the judge to throw out the case, arguing that there wasn’t any evidence the public was harmed by Trump’s actions. They also argued that many of the allegations in the lawsuit were barred by the statute of limitations.

Engoron, noting that he had rejected those arguments earlier in the case, equated them to the plot of the film “Groundhog Day.” He fined five defense lawyers $7,500 each as punishment for “engaging in repetitive, frivolous” arguments, but denied James’ request to sanction Trump and other defendants.

James, a Democrat, sued Trump and the Trump Organization a year ago, accusing them of routinely inflating the value of assets like skyscrapers, golf courses and his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, padding his bottom line by billions.

Engoron found that Trump consistently overvalued Mar-a-Lago, inflating its value on one financial statement by as much as 2,300%. The judge also rebuked Trump for lying about the size of his Manhattan apartment. Trump claimed his three-story Trump Tower penthouse was nearly three times its actual size, valuing it at $327 million.

“A discrepancy of this order of magnitude, by a real estate developer sizing up his own living space of decades, can only be considered fraud,” Engoron wrote.

To paraphrase a Michael Bloomberg quote at the 2016 Republican convention:  “We are New Yorkers.  We know a con when we see one.”


Cassidy Hutchinson says it’s a ‘make or break moment’ for the Republican Party to stand against Trump!

Dear Commons Community,

During an appearance on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” last night, Cassidy Hutchinson told host Rachel Maddow that while she still considers herself a Republican, she doesn’t believe that Donald Trump is a “Strong Republican.”

“I do not believe that Mr. Trump is a strong Republican. But in this election cycle, in my opinion, it’s a make-or-break moment for the Republican Party,” Hutchinson told Maddow. “Now is the time if these politicians, these men and some women, that are currently in Congress want to make the break and want to take the stand, they have to do it now.”

Hutchinson also said that she doesn’t understand why Republican lawmakers are still willing to support Trump, even with the ongoing controversy and legal challenges that surround him.

“I think it’s extremely disappointing, and it’s not a hard issue to take. We’re talking about a man who at the very essence of his being almost destroyed democracy in one day and he wants to do it again. He wants to run for President to do it again,” Hutchinson added.

“He has been indicted four times since January 6. I would not have a clear conscience and be able to sleep at night if I were a Republican in Congress that supported Donald Trump,” she concluded. “And I think that if they’re not willing to split with that, then we’re in serious danger for the party.”

It’s been a year since Hutchinson, who was an aide to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, testified before the select committee investigating the Jan 6., 2021 attacks at the Capitol. She was the first member of the Trump administration to do so.

Hutchinson’s remarks come a month after Trump, along with 18 of his allies, were indicted by a Georgia grand jury on charges tied to efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Trump, who announced his third presidential campaign last November, has been hit with three other indictments this year relating to his business dealings, handling of classified documents, and his actions in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

Hutchinson’s appearance on Maddow’s program was focused on her new book, titled “Enough,” which details her experience working under the Trump administration and the events that lead to her testifying before Congress.

Hutchinson’s new book is set to publish today.


7 candidates have qualified for the 2nd Republican presidential debate tomorrow night. Here’s the list!

Dear Commons Community,

Seven candidates have qualified for tomorrow night’s Republican presidential debate at Ronald Reagan’s presidential library in California.

Former President Donald Trump, the early Republican presidential front-runner, will skip this debate.

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who was in first debate, did not make the cut for tomorrow’s debate.

To qualify for the second debate, candidates needed at least 3% support in two national polls or 3% in one national poll as well as two polls from four of the early-voting states — Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

The White House hopefuls also needed at least 50,000 unique donors, with at least 200 of those coming from 20 states or territories. They also had to sign an RNC pledge promising to support the party’s eventual nominee.   Here are the debate qualifiers courtesy of the Associated Press.



The Florida governor had long been seen as the top rival for Trump, finishing a distant second to the current GOP front-runner in both early-voting state and national polls, and raising an impressive amount of money.

But those sands have begun to shift as DeSantis’ effort has struggled to live up to high expectations for his campaign. Republican support for him nationally has slipped substantially from its high point earlier this year.


The senator from South Carolina did not have a breakout moment in the first debate in Milwaukee and is hoping to change that during Wednesday’s event.

Wanting to be a bigger part of the conversation, Scott asked the party to change how it orders the candidates onstage in an effort to get more prominent podium placement. There is no indication the RNC plans to do that.


The only Republican woman on stage — and in the field — Haley experienced a fundraising bounce after her performance in the first debate. Her campaign said she raised at least $1 million in 72 hours, a record period for her.

Two recent polls of her home state of South Carolina found that Haley — a former United Nations ambassador and South Carolina governor — was in second place, well behind Trump but slightly ahead of other GOP rivals.

During one squabble in the first GOP debate, Haley cut in with a reference to a famous line from Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female prime minister: “If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.”


The political newcomer scored several memorable moments at the first debate, criticizing some rivals as “super PAC puppets” who were using “ready-made, preprepared slogans” to attack him. He was a frequent target of incoming attacks on his lack of experience.

Those jabs helped boost both Ramaswamy’s campaign coffers and his name ID in the broad Republican field.


The former New Jersey governor opened his campaign by portraying himself as the only candidate ready to take on Trump, calling on the former president to “show up at the debates and defend his record.”

Without Trump at the first debate, Christie was left without his primary intended target. At times, he was drowned out by the audience’s boos as he pushed back aggressively on questioning as to whether the candidates would support Trump even if he is convicted of felony charges.


Burgum, a former software entrepreneur now in his second term as North Dakota’s governor, nearly missed the first debate due to a tendon injury sustained while playing basketball with his campaign staff. But Burgum still participated, telling reporters afterward that he stood on one leg behind the podium.

Burgum has been using his fortune to boost his campaign, giving away $20 gift cards — “Biden Relief Cards,” hitting Biden’s handling of the economy — in exchange for $1 donations. Critics have questioned whether the offer violates campaign finance law.


Campaigning on his reputation as a statesman and experienced elected official, Trump’s vice president showed off his debate chops last month and is angling to see more action in California.

Pence had combative moments with several other candidates in Milwaukee over some of the biggest dividing lines in the Republican nominating contest.

Drawing a contrast with Haley over abortion, among his signature issues, Pence called Haley’s push for consensus over the issue “the opposite of leadership.” Perhaps some of Pence’s fieriest moments came as he sparred with Ramaswamy, saying, “Now is not the time for on-the-job training.”

Pence himself was also the subject of a pivotal debate question, with the candidates largely agreeing that he had been correct to protect the results of the 2020 election against Trump’s pressure campaign.

On to the debate tomorrow night!