-Top News USA

US unemployment claims hit new high

In recent months, the figures have been trending up amid surging inflation and rising interest rates…reports Asian Lite News

Initial jobless claims in the US last week rose to 262,000, hitting a new high since November 2021, the US Labour Department reported.

In the week ending August 6, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased by 14,000 from the previous week’s downwardly revised level of 248,000, according to a report released on Thursday by the Department’s Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS).

The four-week moving average for initial jobless claims, a method to iron out data volatility, increased by 4,500 to 252,000, the report showed, Xinhua news agency quoted the report as saying.

Jobless claims totaled 166,000 in the week ending March 19, the lowest in decades.

In recent months, the figures have been trending up amid surging inflation and rising interest rates.

The latest figure of 262,000 is well above the 2019 weekly average of 218,000, which is the pre-pandemic level.

In the week ending March 14, 2020, jobless claims totaled 221,000, but in the following week, the figure skyrocketed to 2.9 million.

The latest report also showed that the number of people continuing to collect regular state unemployment benefits, which was reported with a one-week lag, increased by 8,000 to 1.4 million during the week ending July 30.

The total number of people claiming benefits in all programmes — state and federal combined — for the week ending July 23 also increased by 9,206 to 1.48 million.

The Department reported last week that employers added 528,000 jobs in July despite recession fears, with the unemployment rate edging down to the pre-pandemic level of 3.5 percent, signaling a still robust labour market.

ALSO READ: ‘US firms in Bengaluru bolstering US-India economic ties’

-Top News EU News USA

EU Commission concerned over US tax & climate package

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on Friday and an approval is considered likely…reports Asian Lite news

The European Commission has criticized parts of a massive legislative package on tax and climate proposed by US President Joe Biden and making its way through Congress.

If passed, the law would provide tax credits for buyers of electric cars if a certain percentage of battery components originated in the US, dpa news agency reported.

“The European Union is deeply concerned by this new potential trans-Atlantic trade barrier that the US is currently discussing,” Miriam Garcia Ferrer, a spokesperson for the European Commission, told reporters in Brussels on Thursday.

“We think that (the bill) is discriminatory, that it’s discriminating against foreign producers in relation to US producers,” Garcia Ferrer said.

She added that according to the commission, the proposed law would violate trade rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“We continue to urge the United States to remove these discriminatory elements from the bill and ensure it is fully in compliance with the WTO,” Garcia Ferrer said.

US media had reported that the conditions for tax benefits were added to the bill at the request of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.

The Democrats needed the backing of the senator from West Virginia to have a majority in favour of the new law and had to make concessions.

On Sunday, the Senate approved the legislation.

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on Friday and an approval is considered likely.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, President Biden signed the historic $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act into law that includes $52 billion to boost domestic semiconductor manufacturing.

The CHIPS and Science Act is the Biden administration’s bet to incentivise chipmakers to reverse course and build fabs in the US and cut the dependence on China.

The bill also creates a 25 per cent tax credit for semiconductor manufacturing, earmarks $1.5 billion for technology development for US firms dependent on foreign telecommunications, according to Forbes.

Meanwhile, South Korea is reviewing its possible participation in the US-led semiconductor alliance from the perspective of national interest and has no intent to build an exclusive grouping against China.

ALSO READ: ‘US firms in Bengaluru bolstering US-India economic ties’

-Top News India News USA

‘US firms in Bengaluru bolstering US-India economic ties’

Lacina acknowledged the immense contributions of over 650 US companies in Bengaluru that employ tens of thousands of Indian citizens…reports Asian Lite News

On her first visit to Bengaluru after assuming charge in September 2021, US Mission India Charge d’Affaires, Patricia Lacina met with business leaders and entrepreneurs to underscore the strong US-India economic and commercial ties.

Lacina acknowledged the immense contributions of over 650 US companies in Bengaluru that employ tens of thousands of Indian citizens in high-standard work environments in the formal sector.

She applauded their immense contribution to the US-India bilateral relationship — not only through their economic ties and investments, but also through corporate social responsibility initiatives and a commitment to the development of employee skills.

“This year, as our two countries commemorate 75 years of diplomatic relations and trusted partnership, we celebrate a US-India partnership defined by US President Joe Biden recently as deep connection between our people – ties of family, of friendship, and of shared values. It is because of these shared values that US and Indian firms work so well together, forging a path for innovation and prosperity.”

Joining her in Bengaluru were US Consul General in Chennai Judith Ravin and Director of the US National Science Foundation (NSF) Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan.

The NSF Director visited Bengaluru to expand upon the strong partnership within the fields of science and technology. A Chennai native and graduate of the Indian Institute of Science, Panchanathan is in India to announce NSF funding for 35 collaborative research projects between US and Indian university laboratories.

NSF, under the direction of Panchanathan, is tasked with keeping the US at the leading edge of discovery in a wide range of scientific areas.

NSF has recently been the subject of major legislation which, in addition to supporting funding in all areas of basic research, establishes a new directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnership to greatly accelerate the translation of research to application.

Panchanathan also gave the Dr. M.A. Govind Rau Founder Memorial Lecture at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.

Lacina used the occasion to mark the arrival of the new Counsellor for Commercial Affairs Carey Arun.

Based in Chennai, Arun will oversee the US Commercial Service’s efforts in south India, supporting opportunities for US-India trade and business. The US Commercial Service has offices in Chennai and Bengaluru.

ALSO READ: How Manchin’s crucial vote made him a ‘hero’

-Top News USA

How Manchin’s crucial vote made him a ‘hero’

Manchin had opposed the bill for a year fearing that huge public spending would generate more inflation pressures than controlling it…writes Ashe O

Democrat Joe Manchin from West Virginia has turned ‘hero’ from ‘villain’ by pulling through with Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer to get the historic $750 billion bill of President Joe Biden on climate change, healthcare and inflation reduction passed in the Senate.

He voted along with 50 fellow Democrats including Arizona democrat Krysten Sinema, who had blocked the legislation, demanding a flat 15 per cent tax on corporates to replace the “carried over interest” taxes.

Manchin had opposed the bill for a year fearing that huge public spending would generate more inflation pressures than controlling it.

The 15 per cent corporate tax proposed by Sinema would yield much more revenues to the US government to fund the climate change bill of $400 billion out of the total $750 billion legislation. The total public spend on all three counts is expected to be close to $1.9 trillion in the final stages against the BBB initiative of nearly $3 trillion proposed by Joe Biden.

Joe Manchin had spent much of last year as the villain of liberal America, receiving the kind of criticism that’s usually reserved for Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell or a conservative Supreme Court justice. Activists aggressively protested against Manchin, some in kayaks outside his houseboat in Washington, others surrounding his car and hurling abuses at him.

One Democratic House member called him ‘anti-Black, anti-child, anti-woman and anti-immigrant’, while others called him ‘untrustworthy’.

Bernie Sanders, independent from Vermont and an unsuccessful presidential candidate, accused Manchin of “intentionally sabotaging the president’s agenda” and suggested that Manchin’s wealthy donors were the reason. Other critics called him a shill for the energy industry, noting that he personally owns a coal company.

In a dramatic twist of events, Manchin made it possible for the Senate to pass the most aggressive climate bill in American history. That bill seems likely to accomplish almost as much greenhouse-gas reduction as President Biden’s original proposal would have under the most profound ‘Build, Back and Better’ initiative.

As noted economist Paul Krugman, the Times columnist, wrote, “Actual experts on energy and the environment are giddy over what has been accomplished.”

On Friday, the House is expected to pass the same bill – which will also reduce inequities in healthcare access – and Biden plans to sign it soon afterward.

In a newsletter from the New York Times posted to journalists and subscribers, it said Manchin’s place in American politics should be reconsidered, given his ultimate support for the Senate bill. “What were his critics right about? What were they wrong about? And what are the larger political lessons?”

The simplest fact about Manchin is that he is the most electorally successful member of Congress: Nobody else has won a seat as difficult as his. Trump won West Virginia by 39 percentage points in 2020, more than any other state except Wyoming. Yet Manchin has repeatedly won statewide elections in West Virginia as a Democrat.

Manchin is one of only four current Senators whose victories truly defied their state’s partisan lean. And his victory was much more difficult than those of the other three — Jon Tester of Montana, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Susan Collins of Maine.

“Having a Democratic Senator in 2021 in a state like West Virginia – where neither Hillary Clinton nor Biden could crack 30 per cent of the vote – is a remarkable bit of good fortune for the Democrats,” Hans Noel, a Georgetown University political scientist, said.

Without Manchin in the Senate, Biden’s presidency would look very different. The climate bill would almost certainly have failed. So would have the expansion of healthcare. Biden would also have a harder time getting judges and other nominees confirmed, the New York Times newsletter said.

Manchin’s liberal critics sometimes imagine that they know more about winning a West Virginia election than he does – and that he could keep winning even if he behaved like most Democrats.

As Ruy Teixeira, another political scientist, wrote, “If only he was not the actually-existing Joe Manchin from the actually-existing conservative state of West Virginia but instead some other Joe Manchin from some other, much more liberal, West Virginia!”

ALSO READ: Trump refuses to depose before AG in NY

-Top News USA

Trump searched for papers related to N-weapons

Trump has held on to an undisclosed volume of documents from his presidency that he is required to have turned in for archiving by the government, reports Yashwant Raj

The FBI agents were looking for documents relating to nuclear weapons, among others, in the unprecedented search they conducted of the premises of former US President Donald Trump earlier this week in Florida, according to a stunning news report.

Neither the US Justice Department, which oversees the FBI, nor the investigating agency denied or confirmed the Thursday evening report by The Washington Post.

The newspaper sourced the report to multiple officials “all unidentified” involved in the investigation of the case that caused the search but gave no further details of the kind of nuclear weapons’ documents sought by the agents.

Government officials are worried that these documents could fall in the wrong hands at Trump’s Florida home that is also a club frequented by members.

Trump has held on to an undisclosed volume of documents from his presidency that he is required to have turned in for archiving by the government. The National Archive, which is the repository of these documents, has been following up with him and his aides for months.

The FBI agents searched Trump’s home in an unprecedented first for a US President on Monday, according to a statement from Trump, who called it a “raid” in a political ploy to both discredit it and rile up his base with a familiar story of victimhood he had used against the Russia investigation and his double impeachment.

As allies and followers predictably poured scorn and outrage on the “raid”, Trump and his lawyers did not tell them and the country the details that were available to them by way of the search warrant issued by a federal judge, which would have contained the grounds for it, or the itemized list of articles taken by the FBI “at least 15 boxes” that were duly provided to them.

Trump was once again the hounded hero for his followers “including many lawmakers” who had no idea why his premises were searched.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland, who heads the Justice Department that has oversight of the FBI, called the former President’s bluff.

Garland in rare public remarks said “the Justice Department doesn’t comment on ongoing investigation” said the government has filed a motion in a Florida federal court asking for unsealing the search warrant and all related documents. He offered no details of the investigation.

The public’s clear and powerful interest in understanding what occurred under these circumstances weighs heavily in favour of unsealing, the motion said.

“That said, the former President should have an opportunity to respond to this motion and lodge objections, including with regards to any “legitimate privacy interests” or the potential for other “injury” if these materials are made public.”

There was no comment from Trump and his lawyers to this development for hours after Garland’s statement.

ALSO READ: Trump refuses to depose before AG in NY

-Top News Asia News USA

China pips US as leader in scientific research output

The Japanese NISTP report also found that Chinese research comprised 27.2 per cent of the world’s top 1 per cent most frequently cited papers….reports Asian Lite News

China has overtaken the US as the world leader in both scientific research output and “high impact” studies, according to a report published by Japans science and technology ministry.

The report, which was published by Japan’s National Institute of Science and Technology Policy (NISTP) on Tuesday, found that China now publishes the highest number of scientific research papers yearly, followed by the US and Germany, the Guardian reported.

The figures were based on yearly averages between 2018 and 2020, and drawn from data compiled by the analytics firm Clarivate.

The Japanese NISTP report also found that Chinese research comprised 27.2 per cent of the world’s top 1 per cent most frequently cited papers.

The number of citations a research paper receives is a commonly used metric in academia.

The more times a study is cited in subsequent papers by other researchers, the greater its “citation impact”, the Guardian reported.

The US accounted for 24.9 per cent of the top 1 per cent most highly cited research studies, while UK research was third at 5.5 per cent.

China published a yearly average of 407,181 scientific papers, pulling ahead of the US’s 293,434 journal articles and accounting for 23.4 per cent of the world’s research output, the report found.

China accounted for a high proportion of research into materials science, chemistry, engineering and mathematics, while US researchers were more prolific in research into clinical medicine, basic life sciences and physics, the Guardian reported.

The report was published on the day US President Joe Biden signed the Chips and Science Act, legislation that would authorise $200 billion in research funding over 10 years to make US scientific research more competitive with China.

ALSO READ: US rethinks steps on China tariffs  

-Top News USA

‘Anti-Shia hatred’ motivated killings of Muslims in US

Alburquerque police said they found evidence that the alleged killer knew the victims and “an interpersonal conflict may have led to the shootings”…reports Arul Louis

A Muslim man in the US has been charged in the serial killing of four Muslims from Pakistan and Afghanistan, which a leading American Islamic organisation said may have been motivated by “anti-Shia hatred”.

Police announced on Tuesday that they had arrested Muhammad Syed, 51, as the “primary suspect” in the killings in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Officials, civil rights groups and the media had stoked fears in the Islamic community of bias attacks against Muslims.

President Joe Biden had tweeted that he was “angered” by the killings and that his “administration stands strongly with the Muslim community”.

The nationality of Syed has not been disclosed by officials, but the possibility of anti-Shia killings in the US could indicate that the religious turmoil in Pakistan and Afghanistan where Sunni terrorist groups target Shias has reached the US.

Two of the killings took place during the observances of Muharram, a period of religious mourning for Shias.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) admitted on Tuesday that “anti-Shia hatred” may have “motivated the killings” after its Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell had earlier issued a general warning that “the lives of Albuquerque Muslims are in danger” and asked Muslims across the US to “exercise vigilance”.

CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said: “Although we are waiting to learn more about these crimes, we are disturbed by early indications that the alleged killer may have been targeting particular members of the Shia community.”

Alburquerque police said they found evidence that the alleged killer knew the victims and “an interpersonal conflict may have led to the shootings”.

They said that bullet casings found at the site of the shooting of two Pakistanis, Aftab Hussein on July 26 and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain on August 1, matched a gun at Syed’s residence and they filed charges against him.

Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said police were working with prosecutors on “potential charges” in the other two cases — Mohammad Zaheer Ahmadi, an Afghan who was killed in November, and Naeem Hussain, a Pakistani, on August 5.

The police said that as detectives prepared to search Syed’s home on Monday, he drove out in a Volkswagen Jetta that was used in at least one of the killings.

The detectives detained Syed and searched his home and the vehicle and found more evidence that tied him to the killings, police said.

ALSO READ: Killing of TTP top guns shows rift over truce talks with Pakistan

-Top News USA

Ghani blames US, others for Taliban takeover

The former President fled Kabul as the Taliban entered the Afghan capital on August 15, 2021, and is now living in exile in the United Arab Emirates…reports Asian Lite News

Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has broken his silence around a year after the collapse of his government to give an interview blaming the US, politicians in Kabul and others for the Taliban’s takeover of the war-torn country.

In his first televised interview with newly established media outlet Afghan Broadcasting Network (ABN) on Wednesday, Ghani specifically blamed former US envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad as well as a number of prominent Afghan politicians, reports dpa news agency.

Ghani seemed to be most angry at Khalilzad, who signed a peace deal with the Taliban in Doha that paved the way for the full withdrawal of foreign forces from the country.

He called Khalilzad “corrupt” and “incompetent”.

The former President fled Kabul as the Taliban entered the Afghan capital on August 15, 2021, and is now living in exile in the United Arab Emirates.

His departure paved the way for the Taliban to seize the presidential palace.

Ghani later apologised to Afghans, saying he fled to avoid bloodshed.

He has been heavily criticized nationally and internationally for escaping before a political settlement could be reached.

He still, however, considers himself Afghanistan’s President.

Before his government fell, Ghani had boasted he would stand against the Taliban until death.

He now says he had no executive power when Kabul collapsed.

Ghani told ABN he was the “last person to leave” and did so in order to avoid repeating “Dr Najib’s bitter experience”.

He was referring for former Afghan president Mohammad Najibullah, who was killed by the Taliban in 1996 when they first captured Kabul.

He said the country’s former defence minister fled before him and that the US embassy in Kabul had already started the evacuation of its staff and Afghan elite forces.

Ghani told ABN his intelligence chief said at the time the Afghan forces were incapable of fighting.

ALSO READ: Top TTP commander killed in Afghanistan

-Top News Asia News

Iran plot to kill John Bolton uncovered

Soleimani was the commander-in-chief of the IRGC and also widely considered the most powerful figure in Iran after its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei…reports Asian Lite News

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed that it had uncovered an Iranian plot to assassinate former White House National Security Advisor John Bolton, and announced charges against a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

DOJ said 45-year-old Shahram Poursafi, also known as Mehdi Rezayi, attempted to arrange the murder of Bolton, “likely in retaliation for the January 2020 death of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF) commander Qasem Soleimani.”

Soleimani was the commander-in-chief of the IRGC and also widely considered the most powerful figure in Iran after its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad under the orders of then President Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, the DOJ said Poursafi had offered to pay an individual in the United States $300,000 to kill Bolton.

“This is not the first time we have uncovered Iranian plots to exact revenge against individuals on US soil and we will work tirelessly to expose and disrupt every one of these efforts,” AFP quoted US Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen as saying.

According to the charges, Poursafi tried to arrange Bolton’s murder beginning in October 2021, when he contacted online an unidentified person in the United States, first saying he wanted to commission photographs of Bolton, AFP reported.

That person passed the Iranian onto another contact, who Poursafi then asked to kill Bolton.

“Poursafi added that he had an additional ‘job,’ for which he would pay $1 million,” the DOJ said.

But that second person, court documents say, was a confidential source for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, it reported.

This comes as talks on reviving Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is undergoing in Vienna.

The talks on reviving the JCPOA began in April 2021 in Vienna but were suspended in March 2022 because of political differences between Tehran and Washington.

The latest round of talks, which began on Thursday following a five-month hiatus, ended on Monday without a breakthrough.

ALSO READ: Iran nuclear talks end as EU submits ‘final text’

-Top News USA

Trump refuses to depose before AG in NY

Since March 2019, Attorney General Letitia James’s office has investigated whether rump and his company improperly inflated the value of his hotels, golf clubs and other assets…writes Ashe O

Former President Donald Trump kept his date with New York Attorney General in Manhattan but declined to answer questions from the latters office, a calculated and yet surprising gamble in a high-stakes legal interview that will likely determine the course of a civil investigation into his companys business practices of whether he has misused tax breaks.

Shortly after questioning began on Wednesday morning, Trump’s office released a statement saying he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, explaining that he “declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the US Constitution”.

Two informed sources confirmed that he was refusing to answer questions, citing the Fifth Amendment, The New York Times reported.

Since March 2019, Attorney General Letitia James’s office has investigated whether rump and his company improperly inflated the value of his hotels, golf clubs and other assets.

Trump has long dismissed the inquiry from James as a partisan “witch hunt”.

In his statement on Wednesday, he cast it as part of a grander conspiracy against him, linking it to the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago, his home and private club in Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday.

“I once asked, If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?'” he said in the statement. “Now I know the answer to that question.”

Trump said that he was being targeted by lawyers, prosecutors and the news media, and that left him with “no choice”.

But there were other reasons Trump may have decided not to answer questions. While James’s inquiry is civil, and she cannot file criminal charges against the former President, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office has been conducting a parallel criminal investigation into whether Trump fraudulently inflated valuations of his properties.

Any misstep from the former President in his deposition could have breathed new life into that inquiry, The New York Times said.

Trump priorly was not expected to invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination. He has long considered himself his best spokesman, and those who had questioned him in the past, as well as some of his own advisers, believed he was unlikely to stay quiet. His decision could have a significant impact on any trial if James’s investigation leads to a lawsuit. Jurors in civil matters can draw a negative inference when a defendant invokes his or her Fifth Amendment privilege, unlike in criminal cases, where exercising the right against self-incrimination cannot be held against the defendant.

Staying silent could also hurt Trump politically at a time when he is hinting that he will join the 2024 presidential race; it could raise questions about what he might be trying to hide. In the past, Trump has ridiculed witnesses for invoking their Fifth Amendment rights, once remarking at a rally that, “you see the mob takes the Fifth”, and, “if you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”

The District Attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, had developed concerns about proving a case against Trump, but he has said that he is monitoring James’s investigation and planned to scrutinize Trump’s responses on Wednesday. The former President’s decision not to answer those questions may forestall new avenues in that investigation.

Trump is also contending with a litany of other inquiries. Along with the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago, federal prosecutors are questioning witnesses about his involvement in efforts to reverse his election loss; a House select committee held a series of hearings tying him more closely to the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol; and a District Attorney in Georgia is investigating potential election interference on the part of Mr. Trump and his allies.

James’s inquiry could wrap up sooner than those investigations. Rather than file a lawsuit that would take years to resolve, she could first pursue settlement negotiations with the former President’s lawyers to obtain a swiffer financial payout. But if she ultimately sues Trump, and if James prevails at trial, a judge could impose steep financial penalties on Trump and restrict his business operations in New York.

In seeking to fend off a lawsuit from James, The New York Times said that Trump’s lawyers are likely to argue that valuing real estate is a subjective process, and that his company simply estimated the value of his properties, without intending to artificially inflate them.

While James has contended in court papers that the Trump Organization provided bogus valuations to banks to secure favourable loans, the former President’s lawyers might argue that those were sophisticated financial institutions that turned a hefty profit from their dealings with Trump.

The depositions represent the culmination of months of legal wrangling. In January, Trump asked a judge in New York to strike down a subpoena from James seeking his testimony and personal documents. The judge, Arthur F. Engoron, sided with James and ordered the Trumps to testify, a ruling that an appellate court upheld.

And at James’s request, Justice Engoron held Trump in contempt of court, finding that he had failed to comply with the terms of the AG’s subpoena seeking his documents. It was an embarrassing two-week episode that compelled Trump to pay a $110,000 penalty.

At an April court hearing for the contempt order, one of James’s lawyers, Kevin Wallace, indicated that the investigation was nearing its conclusion. James’s office, he said, would need to bring an “enforcement action” in the “near future”.

The lawsuit, or a settlement agreement, would be likely to accuse Trump and his company of fraudulently inflating the value of his golf clubs, hotels and other properties on his annual financial statements. Trump’s company provided the statements to banks in hopes of obtaining loans.

James revealed in a court filing this year that Trump’s long-time accounting firm, which compiled these statements, had cut ties with him. The firm, Mazars, essentially retracted nearly a decade’s worth of Trump’s financial statements, The New York Times said.

Trump’s deposition marks the final stage of the AG’s three-year civil inquiry, teeing up one of the most consequential decisions of her tenure: whether to sue Trump and his company.

James, a Democrat running for re-election in November, has assumed the role of Trump’s chief antagonist in New York. And in recent months, she has adopted an unusually aggressive legal strategy,including persuading a judge to hold the former President in contempt of court, as she battled to obtain his documents and testimony.

But Trump invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination during the deposition, declining to answer questions. He has long dismissed the inquiry from James as a partisan “witch hunt”, and in a statement released as questioning began, he painted James as an overly zealous and politically motivated prosecutor.

The argument that James’s investigation was politically motivated had not been convincing to judges: Trump’s lawyers attempted to leverage it while trying to avoid the questioning, and were unsuccessful.

James, a former New York City councilwoman from Brooklyn, who rose to become the city’s public advocate, was elected attorney general in 2018, becoming the first Black woman to hold statewide office. The victory placed her at the forefront of the legal fight against Trump’s policies by states with Democratic leadership. She succeeded Barbara D. Underwood, who already had several cases pending against Trump, including an investigation into his charity and lawsuits to stop immigrant families from being separated at the border.

James vowed to continue the office’s scrutiny of the president.

“He should know that we here in New York, and I, in particular, we are not scared of you,” she said in her victory speech. “And as the next attorney general of his home state, I will be shining a bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings, and every dealing, demanding truthfulness at every turn.”

She kept her word, becoming a thorn in Trump’s side. In March 2019, she started a civil investigation that focused on whether Trump had systematically mis-stated the value of his assets to gain financial advantage with lenders and tax authorities. In January this year, she accused the Trump Organization of repeatedly misrepresenting the value of its assets to bolster its bottom line, saying that the company had engaged in “fraudulent or misleading” practices. That filing came in response to Trump’s effort to block James from questioning him and two of his adult children under oath.

Three months later, she filed a motion to hold Trump in contempt for failing to turn over documents. The filing cited a response from Trump’s legal team argued that the AG’s requests were “grossly overbroad, unintelligible, unduly burdensome” and did not “adequately” describe the requested materials. A judge ruled in James’s favour and imposed a $110,000 penalty.

James won a big victory when a judge ordered Trump to face questioning about his net worth and pattern of alleged financial embellishment.

ALSO READ: Hilary trolls Trump after FBI raid