Trump live updates: Threatening letter with nonhazardous white powder found at Manhattan DA’s office

Judge declines Trump’s bid to stop aides from testifying before grand jury in Jan. 6 probe, NBC reports

A federal judge ordered Trump’s former aides, including his ex-chief of staff Mark Meadows, to testify before a grand jury in Washington, D.C., investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, NBC News reported Friday.

The developments in the D.C. case, which are separate from the Manhattan district attorney’s hush money probe, pile yet more legal pressure on Trump, who is embroiled in numerous investigations as he simultaneously runs for the Republican presidential nomination.

In a sealed order, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ruled against Trump’s bid to block his aides from speaking to the grand jury on the grounds of executive privilege, people familiar with the matter told NBC.

Executive privilege is the legal doctrine that allows for some executive-branch communications to be kept confidential. Trump is expected to appeal the ruling, which was filed in secret because it involves grand jury matters, according to NBC.

NBC’s sources said the other aides affected by the ruling are former White House deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, former national security advisor Robert O’Brien, former senior aide Stephen Miller, former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, former deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, former assistant Nick Luna and former White House Presidential Personnel Office director John McEntee.

Kevin Breuninger

Suspicious powder found at Manhattan DA’s office

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg exits a building, Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in New York.

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez | AP

An envelope containing suspicious white powder with a note saying “Alvin — I’m gonna kill you” was sent to the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, whom Trump has called an “animal” and “degenerate psychopath” in recent days.

The envelope was found in the DA’s mail room, in the same courthouse where a grand jury has been hearing testimony in a criminal probe of Trump over a 2016 hush money payment to a porn star, a court spokesman and New York Police Department spokesman told CNBC.

The envelope contained a note inside that threatened to kill the DA, WNBC reported.

Police said the powder was deemed “non-hazardous,” and no injuries were reported at the scene. The investigation into the situation is continuing.

Trump has blasted Bragg’s probe and the DA personally on his Truth Social account.

In a scathing post early in the day, Trump warned of the potential for “death & destruction” if he were to face criminal charges.

— Dan Mangan

Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran leaves grand jury after more than 3 hours of testimony

Evan Corcoran, an attorney for former President Donald Trump, departs after testifying before a federal grand jury investigating Trump’s handling of classified documents, at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2023. 

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Trump’s lawyer Evan Corcoran testified before a Washington, D.C., federal court grand jury for nearly three-and-a-half hours before leaving for the day, NBC News reported.

The grand jury is reviewing evidence in a criminal probe of Trump for keeping classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago club residence in Florida and for resisting efforts by government authorities to recover those records.

A federal appeals court earlier this week rejected Trump’s effort to block a judge’s order that required Corcoran to appear before the grand jury.

— Dan Mangan

Al Sharpton and NY leaders slam Trump’s attacks on Manhattan DA

A coterie of New York leaders, including Rev. Al Sharpton, former Gov. David Paterson and Democratic Rep. Adriano Espaillat, defended Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg after Trump labeled the prosecutor a “Soros-backed animal.”

Trump and other Republicans have accused Bragg of being closely tied to or controlled by billionaire progressive donor George Soros, but those claims are overblown. Soros has become a prominent character in some antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Noting that Bragg is Manhattan’s first Black DA, the joint statement from the New York leaders decried Trump’s “unprecedented” criticism.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg exits a building, Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in New York.

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez | AP

“This disgraceful attack is not a dog-whistle but a bullhorn of incendiary racist and anti-semitic bile, spewed out for the sole purpose of intimidating and sabotaging a lawful, legitimate, fact-based investigation,” the statement read.

“These ugly, hateful and anti-American attacks on our judicial system must be universally condemned without equivocation or hesitation. It is clear that Trump would burn down the greatest values of our democracy, and destroy honest, ethical officials performing their constitutional duties, to escape accountability,” the statement added.

The statement was posted on Twitter by an account that appeared to be related to Bragg’s 2021 campaign for DA.

In a tweet promoting the statement, Espaillat added, “Harlem and the entire nation has your back D.A. Bragg. We’re New Yorkers — we don’t back down to bullies. The justice system will prevail.”

Trump’s attack is one of many he has fired off at the DA since Bragg’s probe of Trump’s involvement in a 2016 hush money payment appeared to enter its final stages.

Kevin Breuninger

Trump gears up for rally in Waco, known for infamous government standoff, as charges loom

A man inspects a plane of former U.S. President Donald Trump at the Palm Beach International Airport, days after he posted a message on his Truth Social account saying that he had expected to be arrested, and called on his supporters to protest, in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. March 22, 2023. 

Marco Bello | Reuters

Trump is scheduled to travel to Waco, Texas, on Saturday for what his campaign has billed as the first official rally of his 2024 presidential bid.

The kickoff event, which comes months after Trump formally launched his third White House campaign, coincides with the 30-year anniversary of the infamous siege that took place east of Waco.

The standoff between FBI agents and members of the Branch Davidians religious cult began in February 1993 and ended nearly two months later in a deadly blaze that engulfed the group’s compound. Dozens of the group’s followers — and its leader, David Koresh — were killed in the siege, as were four federal agents.

Trump’s campaign has not linked his rally with the tragic anniversary. In a press release announcing the event, the campaign declared, “It is undisputed that Texas is Trump Country,” pointing to the success of Trump-endorsed candidates in the state and some favorable polling data on Texas Republicans.

Trump’s spokesman told The New York Times that the site was selected “because it is centrally located and close to all four of Texas’ biggest metropolitan areas.”

The rally comes at the close of a week in which Trump wrongly predicted he would be arrested on charges from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office related to a 2016 hush money payment to a porn star who alleges she had a tryst with Trump. The former president has railed against the DA and portrayed himself as a victim of government overreach.

Trump is scheduled to speak at the rally at the Waco Regional Airport at 5 p.m. local time on Saturday.

Kevin Breuninger

Trump heads to his Florida golf club

Former US President Donald Trump sits in the rear of his limousine as he leaves from Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach, Florida, on March 23, 2023.

Chandan Khanna | AFP | Getty Images

After ramping up his campaign of vitriol against the Manhattan district attorney pursuing a hush money case against him, Trump left his Palm Beach, Florida, resort home and headed to his golf club, NBC News reported.

The former president’s motorcade arrived at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach shortly after 9 a.m. ET, according to NBC.

Around the same time, Trump posted a two-word, all-caps message on Truth Social: “PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT!”

It was the latest in a series of escalating attacks on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, which had reached a fever pitch overnight as Trump warned of “potential death & destruction” if charged in the probe.

Kevin Breuninger

‘I’ll be disappointed’ if Manhattan DA doesn’t indict Trump, Michael Cohen’s lawyer says

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (C) arrives at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office in New York City, on March 23, 2023.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

The lawyer for Michael Cohen, Trump’s ex-fixer turned key witness in the Manhattan district attorney’s hush money case, said he would be let down if the former president is not charged in the probe.

“I’ll be disappointed” if the DA Alvin Bragg ultimately decides not to indict Trump, attorney Lanny Davis told Politico.

“But I will grant him a good-faith judgment. And judgments can always be disagreed with, but I’ll be disappointed for sure,” Davis said.

Davis also told Politico that the probe began after he invited the former Manhattan DA, Cyrus Vance Jr., to visit Cohen in prison in Otisville, New York, where he was serving his sentence for financial crimes related to the hush money payment.

Their first meeting “did not go very well,” Davis said, because Cohen had felt “mistreated” by federal prosecutors. But “they got past that,” and “the next two sessions were very productive. And then it led to an open investigation.”

Kevin Breuninger

Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran arrives for D.C. grand jury appearance

Evan Corcoran, an attorney for former President Donald Trump, arrives to testify before a federal grand jury investigating Trump’s handling of classified documents, at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2023. 

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Evan Corcoran, an attorney for Trump, arrived at a Washington, D.C., courthouse ahead of a planned appearance before a federal grand jury reviewing evidence of Trump’s retention of classified government records at his Florida home.

Corcoran’s arrival came two days after an appeals court quickly denied a bid by Trump to block the lawyer’s appearance, which a lower court judge had ordered.

The Justice Department is eyeing Trump in the criminal probe for failing to comply with a law requiring former presidents to return government records when they leave office.

He also is being investigated for potential obstruction of justice in refusing to turn over records to government officials when lawyers including Corcoran were being asked about such documents.

Last June, Corcoran told a fellow Trump lawyer Christina Bobb to give the DOJ a statement that an extensive search at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club had not found any more government documents than the ones returned to the National Archives and Records Administration earlier in 2022.

Two months later, FBI agents in a raid of Mar-a-Lago found hundreds of such documents, many of them marked highly classified.

— Dan Mangan

Trump writes of ‘potential death and destruction’ if he is criminally charged

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a rally to support Republican candidates ahead of midterm elections, in Dayton, Ohio, U.S. November 7, 2022. 

Gaelen Morse | Reuters

Trump in an ominous early-morning social media post suggested there could be “death & destruction” if he is hit with criminal charges.

The implication of violence came more than two years after thousands of the former president’s supporters, spurred by his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, stormed the Capitol in a deadly attempt to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s victory.

Trump in his Truth Social post cited his status as a former president and a current White House contender as he lashed out at an unnamed prosecutor. He argued that any criminal charge against him would be baseless.

“What kind of person can charge another person, in this case a former President of the United States, who got more votes than any sitting President in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a Crime, when it is known by all that NO Crime has been committed, & also known that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our Country?”

“Why & who would do such a thing?” he added. “Only a degenerate psychopath that truly hates the USA.”

The post came hours after a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that the jury in Trump’s upcoming civil trial for allegations that he raped and defamed the writer E. Jean Carroll would be anonymous. The decision was in part due to Trump’s verbal and written attacks on legal system officials such as prosecutors, as well as individual grand jurors.

Trump faces a potential indictment next week in the Manhattan grand jury probe related to the Stormy Daniels hush money payment. Daniels’ real name is Stephanie Clifford.

He also is the target of a federal criminal probe related to efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss to Biden, and his actions surrounding the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot by his supporters after he urged them to protest the election results in Washington.

— Dan Mangan

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