Trump protests impeachment in ranting letter to Pelosi by Dylan Stableford and Christopher Wilson Senior Staff•On the eve of his likely impeachment, President Trump on Tuesday sent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a scathing, insult-filled letter calling the articles drawn up against him “a completely disingenuous, baseless and meritless invention of your imagination,” among other things.“I write to express my strongest and most powerful protest against the partisan impeachment crusade being pursued by the Democrats in the House of Representatives,” Trump wrote in the six-page letter, salted with at least eight exclamation marks. “This impeachment presents an unprecedented and unconstitutional abuse of power by Democrat Lawmakers, unequaled in nearly two and a half centuries of American legislative history.”The president claimed that the articles of impeachment advanced by the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees “include no crimes, no misdemeanors, and no offenses whatsoever.”“You have cheapened the very ugly word, impeachment!” the president declared. “More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials.”I have no doubt the American people will hold you and the Democrats fully responsible in the upcoming 2020 election,” he continued. “They will not soon forgive your perversion of justice and abuse of power.”President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: AP)Trump, who suggested Pelosi’s “teeth were falling out of her mouth” in a weekend tweet, also asserted that she was lying about praying for him.“Even worse than offending the Founding Fathers, you are offending Americans of faith by continually saying ‘I pray for the President,’ when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense,” the president wrote.“It is a terrible thing you are doing,” he added, “but you will have to live with it, not I!”Speaking to reporters before an Oval Office meeting with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, Trump was asked if he took any responsibility for the actions that have led to the brink of his impeachment.“No, I don’t take any,” the president replied. “Zero.”
The impeachment probe was triggered by a whistleblower’s complaint about a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter and a conspiracy theory about the 2016 presidential election.“They took a perfect phone call that I had with the president of Ukraine, an absolutely perfect call — you know it, they all know it — nothing was said wrong on that call,” he added. “To impeach the president of the United States over that is a disgrace and it’s a mark on our country.”
Read Trump’s letter to Pelosi in full below.
- More than 700 historians signed an open letter on Monday calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment.
- „It is our considered judgment that if President Trump’s misconduct does not rise to the level of impeachment, then virtually nothing does,” the historians said. „We therefore strongly urge the House of Representatives to impeach the President.”
- This comes before the House is set to hold a full vote on two articles of impeachment against Trump on Wednesday.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The letter stated: „We are American historians devoted to studying our nation’s past who have concluded that Donald J. Trump has violated his oath to ‘faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States’ and to ‘preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'”
The historians said that Trump’s „‘attempts to subvert the Constitution,’ as George Mason described impeachable offenses at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, urgently and justly require his impeachment.”
Citing Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into launching investigations that would „advance his own re-election,” the letter said the president is guilty of „numerous and flagrant abuses of power.”
„It is our considered judgment that if President Trump’s misconduct does not rise to the level of impeachment, then virtually nothing does,” the historians said, characterizing Trump as a „clear and present danger to the Constitution.”
The letter was signed by prominent historians such as Jon Meacham, as well as filmmaker Ken Burns, among others.
Earlier this month, hundreds of the nation’s top legal scholars signed an open letter stating Trump engaged in „impeachable conduct” in his dealings with Ukraine.
The House of Representatives is set to hold a vote on Wednesday on two articles of impeachment approved by the House Judiciary Committee last Friday. Trump is expected to be impeached, which will then move the process to the GOP-controlled Senate for a trial.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week said there was „zero chance” Trump would be removed from office. „The case is so darn weak coming over from the House. We all know how it’s going to end,” McConnell told Fox News last Thursday. „There is no chance the president is going to be removed from office.”
USA TODAY Poll: Impeached or not, Trump leads his Democratic rivals for another term•
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump, the first modern president to face impeachment during his first term in the White House, now leads his top Democratic rivals in his bid for a second, a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds.
The national survey, taken as the House of Representatives planned an impeachment vote and the Senate a trial, showed Trump defeating former Vice President Joe Biden by 3 percentage points, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by 5 points, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren by 8 points.
In hypothetical head-to-head contests, Trump also led South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg by 10 points and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg by 9.
Polls taken nearly a year before an election are hardly a reliable indicator about what the eventual outcome will be, especially when the other nominee hasn’t been chosen. But the findings do indicate that impeachment hearings detailing what critics see as Trump’s violations of the Constitution and his oath of office haven’t undermined his core political support.
The poll of 1,000 registered voters, taken Dec. 10-14 by landline and cellphone, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
„Why waste the time going through all the stuff we’re going through now?” asked Jason Mayo, 42, a truck driver and reliable Republican voter from Greenville, North Carolina, who was among those surveyed.
He predicted Trump would defeat impeachment „hands down” and then win re-election. „My 401(k) is doing better than it’s ever done,” Mayo said. „That’s the truth.”
But Elmer Ciers, 58, of Cincinnati, who is studying for a doctorate in business administration, said he was prepared to vote for any Democrat nominated against Trump. „I don’t care” which one, he said in a follow-up phone interview after being polled. He said he was „scared for the future and our legacy” on climate change and other issues after Trump’s first three years in office.
Trump’s steady standing
Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, 91 profitable Fortune 500 companies paid $0 in taxes on U.S. income in 2018, according to a new report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). Across all 379 profitable companies in the Fortune 500 the effective tax rate was just 11.3%, just over half the 21% tax rate under the law.
“In 2018, the 379 companies earned $765 billion in pretax profits in the United States,” the report noted. “Had all of those profits been reported to the IRS and taxed at the statutory 21% corporate tax rate, the 379 companies would have paid almost $161 billion in income taxes in 2018.”
Instead, the companies only paid $86.8 billion, roughly 54% of what they owed.
A ‘pernicious effect’
Matthew Gardner, senior fellow at ITEP and lead author of the report, says that what companies are doing is “entirely legal” — but that they can avoid paying taxes thanks to tax breaks.
“A whole host of tax breaks in the code collectively have this pernicious effect,” Gardner said. But he added, though legal, “this doesn’t exonerate these companies from wrongdoing.”
“What we are seeing is a product of the actions of Congress, aided and abetted by corporate lobbyists,” he explained. “This is the predictable consequence of creating tax breaks for any activity you can think of.”
In 2017, the IRS collected over $338.5 billion in income taxes (before refunds) from businesses. That number dropped by 22% to about $262.7 billion for fiscal year 2018. In comparison, in FY 2016, income taxes collected from corporations was on par with 2017, at $345.6 billion.
The 2018 figures represent the lowest amount the Treasury has collected from business in nearly a decade; in 2011 the IRS pulled in $242.8 billion from corporations’ income tax.
“It’s a very old problem,” said Gardner.
(Bloomberg Opinion) — Slowly but perceptibly, the Trump administration is moving towards a concrete defense in the president’s Senate impeachment trial: Not that Donald Trump didn’t pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, but that he did — and that there’s nothing wrong with it.
The latest indication of this direction comes from the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who in a couple of press interviews has acknowledged his role in advising President Trump to arrange the firing of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, because Giuliani believed she stood in the way of getting those investigations.
If Trump wanted to focus on the impeachment defense that there was no quid pro quo and that he innocently asked for the investigations in order to fight corruption, then it would be genuinely crazy for his personal lawyer to reveal the specifics of how and what he communicated to the president. Giuliani’s statements are terribly harmful to Trump’s case — and he has now effectively waived attorney-client privilege, so he could be called to testify.
Of course Giuliani could just be crazy, a loose cannon making statements deeply detrimental to one possible line of defense his client might want to use in his Senate trial. But it seems more likely that Giuliani is foreshadowing Trump’s future defense.
To see why Giuliani’s interviews are only sane if Trump is planning a “so what” defense, consider how damaging the revelations are to the alternate defense that Trump was seeking to fight corruption, not achieve personal gain.
Most basically, Giuliani’s narrative shows definitively that Ukraine policy was being driven by Trump’s personal political objectives, not by the national interest. That’s why Giuliani, a man with no U.S. government position — but with a direct, personal attorney-client relationship with the president — was driving the policy. It’s not normal for the president’s personal attorney to advise on the removal of an ambassador — who doesn’t work for the president personally, but for the U.S. government. The very fact of Giuliani’s advice, coupled with its ultimate success, helps prove the case that Trump was abusing his office, using the power of the presidency to advance his personal goals.
Put another way, Giuliani’s interviews connect the dots between the policy of seeking the investigations from Ukraine and the president’s personal goal of reelection. If the investigations had been aimed at rooting out corruption, it would have been logical for the State Department or the Justice Department to seek and demand them. Astonishingly, Giuliani seems to be going out of his way to make the very case that the House Democrats tried to make in the hearings before the intelligence committee: that Giuliani was the tool through which the president subverted the national interest to his personal advantage.
It’s also frankly bizarre that the president’s personal lawyer is talking to the press about matters he’s refused to discuss under oath in testimony. Unlike former National Security Advisor John Bolton or acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Giuliani could not claim executive privilege to refuse to testify. He doesn’t work for the president in an official capacity, so executive privilege doesn’t apply to him. Giuliani’s refusal to testify would have to come in the form of a claim of attorney-client privilege, the same as any lawyer could claim on behalf of a client.
Yet by talking openly about conversations he had with his client, President Trump, Giuliani is effectively waiving attorney-client privilege. A classic instance of how attorney-client privilege is waived is disclosure to third parties — and the general public certainly counts as a third party. As a matter of law, Giuliani could now be subpoenaed to discuss his conversations with Trump about Yovanovitch and probably the investigations more generally. He’s given away whatever privilege he once had.
Maybe Giuliani thinks he won’t be called as a witness before the Senate. Yet if the House impeachment managers get the chance to call anyone, they would now be well advised to call Giuliani.
The only rational explanation (assuming reason applies to Giuliani’s conduct) is that Trump plans to have his surrogates acknowledge that he was seeking personal gain by pressuring Ukraine — and that he intends to have them claim that doing so was perfectly legitimate. To use the metaphor he himself has made famous, Trump apparently won’t deny shooting someone on Fifth Avenue. He’ll just say he was within his rights to do so, and that the shooting wasn’t an impeachable offense.
If Trump was always going to adopt the so-what defense, he should have done it sooner. Then he could have allowed some executive branch officials to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry. In turn, that could have saved him from the impeachment charge of obstruction of Congress. In retrospect his blanket stonewall may turn out to have been a purely political gesture — one that violated the Constitution, and deepened the case for impeachment.
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To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sarah Green Carmichael at firstname.lastname@example.org
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
Noah Feldman is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a professor of law at Harvard University and was a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter. His books include “The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President.”
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Hundreds of thousands of French staged a final national protest before Christmas against pension reform as Emmanuel Macron’s government pledged “total determination” to see the overhaul through.
In an ominous sign of radicalisation, electricity workers sparked chaos by cutting power to almost 100,000 homes overnight in Bordeaux and Lyon as part of the protest, warning that bigger cuts could follow.
The hardline CGT union said workers “only targeted public buildings and big business”.
For the first time since 2010, all of France’s unions marched together in the third day of national protests in a crippling two-week strike that has punished commuters and business in this crucial festive period.
However, in a boost for Mr Macron, they failed to reach the hoped for million mark, with police putting the numbers at 615,000 nationwide, lower than the roughly 800,000 on the first march on December 5.
The Eiffel Tower was closed because of the protest and police were on high alert to avert looting or cars and buildings being set on fire.
Police fired teargas and fired stun grenades in clashes with “black bloc” anarchists in the Place de la Nation in otherwise peaceful marches.
The government is adamant that it will push through a “universal” points-based pension system and end the current patchwork of 42 “special regimes“ that offer early retirement to many in the public sector.
As red flares raged in Paris, rail workers, teachers, civil servants, lawyers and hospital workers chanted songs including: “We’re here whether you like it or not Macron.”
“We have nothing to say against about this reform apart from it must be scrapped,” said Pierre Lespagnol, 68, a retired rail worker with the hardline Sud union.
“It’s a change towards a neoliberal society that doesn’t interest us. France is one of the last countries with a pension system of solidarity. Macron is playing Thatcher and it won’t wash,” he told the Telegraph.
“We’re all losers,” read one banner.
Hardline unions, notably the CGT, want the reform shelved and the current system – in which taxpayers pay €8bn (£6.8bn) annually to prop up loss-making regimes that allow some to retire in their mid-50s – to be “improved”.
The orphanage system has undergone thorough reform, consigning the bleak homes housing hundreds of children to history
Bucharest (AFP) – Three decades after the collapse of communism in Romania, Visinel Balan still has fresh memories of one of its most infamous legacies — the orphanage system in which he grew up.
„They used to beat us until we couldn’t move,” he says of the orphanage he entered in 1987, aged just two months.
The scars of those institutions, exposed to the world in the 1990s through horrifying news images of emaciated children in caged beds, have still not fully healed for Balan.
They were places where children were caned on the soles of their feet for bedwetting and fed in an assembly line while sitting on potties.
Balan was one of the „Decretei” or „children of the decree”: children abandoned by poorer families as a result of the natalist policies of the communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, among them a 1966 decree banning abortion.
But his experiences have fired his activism on behalf of today’s marginalised children.
He’s now a lawyer and head of an NGO called Voice of Abandoned Children.
„There’s so much still left to do! Only three percent of children who grow up in care lead fully independent lives as adults,” Balan says.
– Old mentalities –
The orphanage system has undergone thorough reform, consigning the bleak homes housing hundreds of children to history.
Now around 50,000 children are cared for by the state, half of them in foster families.
The rest are in updated institutions such as „Pinocchio’s House”, a modern home for children aged between 7 and 18 in the capital Bucharest.
Among them is teenager Lorentsa Ion, who dreams of becoming a dancer and shows off one of her routines to applause from her friends.
But even if the care system has improved, some attitudes haven’t changed, says UNICEF’s representative in Romania Pieter Bult.
„People keep abandoning children because it was the norm under Ceausescu,” he says, pointing out the number of children in care hasn’t fallen for a decade.
Another part of this painful legacy is that the UN estimates some 5,000 Romanian children are sleeping rough, 2,000 of them in Bucharest.
Many young people fled the orphanages under communism only to fall into the margins of society.
Some went on to have their own children, who in turn grew up without a fixed address.
– Hidden lives –
„I’ve had a hard childhood,” says 13-year-old Leonard Mihai, the fuzz of an incipient moustache on his upper lip.
He sleeps in an abandoned house and only started school after his tenth birthday, a typical example of the street children who slip through the social system.
„Their families are too poor to look after them,” says Ionut Jugureanu, head of an NGO that tries to teach such children skills for work in circuses.
„Certain children don’t exist in the eyes of the authorities because they don’t have a birth certificate,” Jugureanu adds.
Balan too knows what it’s like to be on the streets, having run away from his orphanage when he was still only nine or 10 years old.
„Policemen would send me to steal nuts and fruit from the market. When I brought them back they would let me sleep in the warm in the station,” he says.
As an adult one of Balan’s particular goals has been the reform of Romania’s adoption rules.
In the run-up to the country joining the European Union in 2007, it had to toughen the adoption system to combat child trafficking.
But now prospective parents complain of a Kafkaesque process.
„The authorities have to get approval from so many family members to sign off an adoption,” says 40-year-old Maria.
She and her husband were finally able to bring their adopted son home three years ago, but only after much administrative wrangling.
It’s the sort of case Balan hopes to change to avoid a repeat of his own tragic family history — four of his 12 siblings died while his last roommate at the orphanage went on to commit suicide.
But through it all Balan has kept his drive — and his relationship with his biological mother, for whom he recently bought a house.
At least five people have died as protests over a new citizenship law spread to student campuses across India.
Police fired tear gas and beat demonstrators with batons after entering the Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi on Sunday.
At least 100 people were injured in clashes there, while three buses were set on fire and six police personnel wounded in the melee, Chinmoy Biswal, a top police official, said.
Police also clashed with protesters on the campus of the Aligarh Muslim University in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
As night fell on Sunday, hundreds gathered outside the New Delhi police headquarters to protest against alleged police brutality and the detention of students.
Protesters are demonstrating against a new law, which will give illegal immigrants from religious minorities such as Hindus and Christians that settled in India from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan before 2015 a path to citizenship on the grounds they faced persecution in those countries.
Critics argue the law, which does not give the same provision to Muslims, weakens India’s secular foundations.
Five people have been killed in ongoing protests since the law was passed by parliament on Wednesday.
“The country is burning, the government has made a mockery of the constitution,” said D Raja, a general secretary of the Communist Party of India.
The most violent protests have taken place in the northeastern state of Assam, where mobs torched buildings and train stations.
Protests were also held in Mumbai’s Indian Institute of Technology and Tata Institute of Social Sciences overnight and on Monday, with more protests planned at Bombay University and in the southern city of Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) later in the day.
Student organisers blamed outsiders for the violence.
“We have time and again maintained that our protests are peaceful and non-violent,” they said in a statement. “We stand by this approach and condemn any party involved in the violence.”
Some Bollywood celebrities such as actress Konkona Sen Sharma and directors Mahesh Bhatt and Anubhav Sinha criticised the police on Twitter.
“We are with the students! Shame on you @DelhiPolice,” Sen Sharma tweeted.
Additional reporting by agencies
(Bloomberg) — The world’s youngest prime minister needs to act quickly to tackle one of Europe’s fastest-aging populations.
Finland’s central bank said on Tuesday that the burden on public finances, as more people head for retirement, is unsustainable and requires a political response. The warning comes just days after 34-year-old Prime Minister Sanna Marin took office.
The so-called sustainability gap — which measures the difference between spending and income — has widened to 4.7% relative to gross domestic product, from about 3% a year ago, the Bank of Finland said in a report on Tuesday. The biggest contributors to the increase are cooling growth, higher government borrowing and political stalling over health and welfare reform.
According to the European Commission, the sustainability gap poses a significant risk to the long-term health of public finances when it exceeds 6%, while a reading of under 2% denotes low risk.
“One factor currently weighing on the long-term outlook for the public finances is the fact that the baby-boom generation has reached retirement age,” the central bank said. “This has increased public pension expenditure, and over the next few years it will also lead to a more rapid increase in expenditure on health care and long-term care of the elderly.”
Like much of Europe, Finland needs to come to grips with the growing pressures of an aging and shrinking population. In the Nordic nation’s case, the issue assumes even greater importance because of its generous welfare state, relatively low immigration and the constraints of euro membership.
While recent governments have taken action to address the problem, more needs to be done, said the central bank, which has been issuing similar warnings since the start of the decade.
The new government of Sanna Marin, the world’s youngest prime minister, has confirmed previous plans to raise the employment rate to 75% of the working-age people, from about 72% now. According to Governor Olli Rehn, the objective is “well-justified.”
“More determined action should, however, be taken to strengthen the public finances and the prerequisites for employment,” he said.
The central bank on Tuesday also cut its growth forecasts for the euro area’s northernmost economy, to 0.9% in 2020 and 1.1% in 2021. Its previous forecasts pointed to growth rates of 1.5% and 1.3% respectively.
(Adds central bank quote in fourth paragraph)
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Delhi police have denied shooting three people as protests against a new ‘anti-Muslim’ citizenship law continued for a sixth day.
They claim the injuries were caused by broken-tear gas canisters as officers tried to contain protesters at Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMIU).
However, medical professionals in Safdarjung Hospital told the media three people had been admitted with bullet wounds.
Two were allegedly studying at the university where thousands of students took to the streets on Sunday to accuse the ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party of suppressing India’s 193 million Muslims.
At least 100 others were injured after police fired tear gas at protesters and beat them with batons. A third person claims he was shot in the crossfire between police and JMIU students.
The Indian Government passed the Citizenship Amendment Act on Wednesday.
The legislation permits followers of six religions from neighbouring Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh – including Christians, Sikhs and Hindus – to become Indian citizens if they are fleeing faith-based persecution. Muslims are not included in the legislation.
Imran Khan, the Pakistani Prime Minister, warned the omission and four-month long curfew in Kashmir could create a Muslim exodus from India and a „refugee crisis that would dwarf other crises.”
Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, has seen an unprecedented crackdown. The region was stripped of special constitutional protections and its statehood in August, and since then, movement and communications have been restricted.
“We are worried there not only could be a refugee crisis, we are worried it could lead to a conflict between the two nuclear-armed countries,” he told the Global Forum on Refugees in Geneva.
Angry protests have erupted nationwide with demonstrators accusing the ruling BJP of repressing the nation’s Muslims.
Thousands of people protested in the cities of Lucknow, Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai on Monday, while police confirmed they fired tear gas at demonstrators in the New Seelampur area of Delhi on Tuesday.
Hundreds of protesters have been arrested in the states of West Bengal and Kerala and a student demonstrator in the state of Uttar Pradesh had a hand amputated after being hit by a tear-gas shell.
Protests also occurred in the north-east state of Assam where residents fear an influx of migrants could lead to a dilution of their culture.
Six people died in the demonstration in Assam, with four shot by police, as demonstrators attacked homes belonging to ruling BJP members and torched train stations and businesses.
Malaysia will this week host a summit of Muslim leaders billed as a forum to look at the Islamic world’s problems, but it will be closely watched for Middle East power plays and their stance on China’s Uighur minority.
Leaders from Iran, Turkey, and Qatar will be among hundreds of delegates attending the three-day event set to discuss myriad challenges faced by Muslims.
The summit has been pushed by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who has long championed greater solidarity among the world’s Islamic communities — and wants to boost his country’s standing on the international stage.
A key question is whether China’s treatment of its mostly Muslim Uighur minority, many of whom have been sent to „re-education” camps, will be raised after Islamic leaders faced criticism for largely remaining silent on the issue.
In a statement ahead of the forum, Mahathir’s office said the Muslim community was suffering due to „the incarceration of millions (who) are placed in detention camps, civil wars resulting in total destruction of cities… the rise of Islamophobia”.
With no high-level Saudi delegation coming but the President of arch-rival Iran and the emir of Qatar — under a Riyadh-led blockade — in attendance, there has been speculation the forum could be used to counter the kingdom’s influence.
Also present is Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose ties with Riyadh have worsened in recent times.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman was invited but is not coming, Malaysian officials say.
The meeting comes against the backdrop of high tensions between the kingdom and Iran, the Middle East’s leading Sunni and Shiite powers, after assaults on oil tankers and installations in the Gulf.
– Challenge to the Saudis? –
Analysts Giorgio Cafiero and Khalid Al-Jaber, in a commentary for the Middle East Institute think-tank, said some Muslim-majority countries were uncomfortable with Saudi Arabia due to de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s rise.
The Kuala Lumpur summit could „serve as an alternative to the Jeddah-headquartered Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which is under Saudi Arabia’s de facto leadership”, they said.
MANILA (Reuters) – A Philippine court threw out a high-profile, 32-year-old forfeiture case on Monday involving the family of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, citing insufficient evidence to order the return of $3.9 billion of allegedly ill-gotten wealth.
The country’s anti-graft court decided in favor of the Marcoses for the fourth time since August, with judges ruling that photocopied documents could not be used as evidence, so the case would not proceed.
It has been referred to widely as the „mother” of cases in a three-decade effort by a special presidential panel to recover an estimated $10 billion allegedly siphoned off by Marcos and a family that had lived lavishly during his 20 years in power, 14 of which were ruled under martial law.
The case lodged by the Presidential Commission on Good Government had sought the return of 200 billion pesos ($3.93 billion) it said was tied up in equities, numerous local and foreign banks and real estate at home and in the United States and United Kingdom.
It also included the value of 177 paintings and 42 crates of jewelry worth nearly $9 million.
In a 58-page verdict, the court „acknowledged the atrocities committed during martial law under the Marcos regime and the ‘plunder’ committed on the country’s resources”.
„However, absent sufficient evidence that may lead to the conclusion that the subject properties were indeed ill-gotten wealth, the court cannot simply order the return of the same to the national treasury.”
The same court dismissed similar cases against the family in August, September and October, all for lack of evidence.
Despite being overthrown in a 1986 revolt and driven into exile, the Marcos family remain a powerful force in the Philippines, with loyalists throughout the bureaucracy and political and business elite.
The late leader’s wife Imelda was a four-term congresswoman, daughter Imee is currently a senator, as was son and namesake Ferdinand Marcos Jr, who has been tipped as a possible candidate for the presidency in 2022. A relative is the current Philippine ambassador to the United States.
The family has a powerful ally too in President Rodrigo Duterte, who has spoken well of the former dictator, backed Imee’s senate run and expressed a desire for Marcos Jr to have been his vice president.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer than 30 people were executed in the United States and under 50 new death sentences were imposed for the fifth straight year, part of a continuing decline in capital punishment that saw only a few states carry out executions, a new report issued Tuesday said.
But even as death row populations were dropping in most of the 29 states that still have the death penalty, the Trump administration tried to restart executions on the federal level and a more conservative Supreme Court appeared less willing to grant death-row inmates last-minute reprieves.
“The death penalty is disappearing from whole regions of the country and eroding in others, but the death penalty is persisting among outlier jurisdictions,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which produced the look at the death penalty in 2019.
Twenty of the 22 executions in 2019 took place in five Southern states, led by Texas with 9, the center said. The others are Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. Missouri and South Dakota each executed one inmate.
Elsewhere in the country, New Hampshire became the 21st state to abolish the death penalty, while California Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed a formal moratorium on executions in a state with the largest death row population, although the last execution in California took place nearly 14 years ago.
Also for the fifth straight year, no state west of Texas carried out an execution. There are now 32 states that either have no death penalty or have not executed anyone in more than a decade.
But at the federal level, where the last execution took place in 2003, Attorney General William Barr announced in July that federal executions would resume beginning in December. President Donald Trump has long been a proponent of the death penalty.
„The Justice Department upholds the rule of law — and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system,” Barr said at the time.
A federal judge put a hold on the scheduled executions, and the Supreme Court turned away the administration’s plea to begin conducting lethal injection executions at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.