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The New Civil Rights Movement’s Top 10 International LGBT Stories of 2011

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In 2011, the world witnessed the heinous murder of David Kato, a Ugandan gay activist who was bludgeoned to death in January, setting a sober tone for the year, the Obama Administration launched a new foreign policy LGBT human rights initiative, delivered by Hillary Clinton in a soaring speech in Geneva in December, and the UN finally emerged with formal support of LGBT rights, but the threat of violence remains a daily reality for our gay fellow citizens around the globe

1.  The Murder of David Kato, Ugandan Gay Activist and Growing Demonization of LGBT Persons on the African Continent

Ugandan gay activist David Kato was murdered on January 26th, in a hideous manner that can only be described as rage filled, carried out by someone who repeatedly pummeled his body by using a steel hammer, which in its completion, speaks more troubling of America’s extremist Christian right-​wing religious groups toward gays who have exported an anti-gay agenda to the country in 2009, than of the attitudes of the Ugandan people themselves. Val Kalende, a lesbian activist and board chair of Freedom and Roam Uganda, an organization that fights violence against LGBT people in Uganda, issued a statement about Kato’s murder, asserting that “David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S. Evangelicals in 2009.”

Uganda has captured global attention in recent years for the government’s ongoing efforts to legalize state sponsored executions of LGBT people, albeit unsuccessful to date. David Bahati, a leading Ugandan member of parliament, noteworthy for his homophobic filled brand of extremism as evidenced in his continuous efforts to advance the “gay” capital punishment legislation since 2009 (Bahati has been advised by the US-​based “C Street” ministries), no doubt created an even more hostile environment toward homosexuals in Uganda.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement on January 27th, calling for Ugandan authorities “to quickly and thoroughly investigate and prosecute those responsible for this heinous act.”  President Obama released a statement stating, “David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate. He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom. The United States mourns his murder, and we recommit ourselves to David’s work.”

State Generated Violence Against LGBT Persons on African Continent

The increasingly xenophobic, anti-gay, demonization of LGBT people on the African continent has been accompanied by deadly and violent consequences that is present in a majority of countries on the continent, of which Uganda, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, South Sudan and Zimbabwe(not an exhaustive list) are among the worst.

Officials in these countries have spoken out against LGBT people; legislatures have taken steps to criminalize gay behavior; and churches, many influenced by American missionaries, have preached intolerance, resulting in hate crimes exacted upon gays, that includes horrific “corrective rape“ of lesbians in South Africa, now a matter discussed in the UN Human Rights Council. Even South Sudan, the newest country in the world, recently established in July, is led by a president who has said that “South Sudan was no place for gays and they would never be accepted…“It is not in our character […] it is not there and if anybody wants to import it to Sudan […] it will always be condemned by everybody.”  The State Department has its work cut out for itself.

2. The  Obama Administration’s LGBT Human Rights Foreign Policy Initiative

http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/amgas3videoplayer400.swf

“Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct; but, in fact, they are one and the same,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, as she delivered an historic foreign policy speech outlining the Obama Administration’s formal policy on LGBT human rights from the Palais des Nations Hall in Geneva on December 6, marking a memorable International Human Rights Day, to rousing applause.

Clinton was repeating her “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights,” theme, which she initially delivered at the State Department’s LGBT Pride event in 2010. The White House released a National Security Council Memorandum concurrently, outlining a presidential directive on authority and a mandate for federal government agencies who will be responsible for extending protections to LGBT persons abroad via a number of agencies, including Immigration and Homeland Security. For LGBT Americans it had been a week of joy and gratification for the memorial text delivered by Clinton, but mixed with regret that a similar strategic policy approach has not been engaged at home.

Mark Bromley, chair of the Council on Global Equality told The New Civil Rights Movement that Secretary Clinton wanted to give this speech for LGBT human rights and had been looking for the right venue and the right timing. Bromley said that “we [the Council] were happy to see the White House strongly back her decision.” Bromley was present in Geneva when Clinton gave the historic speech, which he said was delivered “pitch perfect” and defined it as a “legacy speech.” The Council flew in 14 international LGBT activists, who also attended the speech. The video of Secretary Clinton’s speech was produced by the State Department.

3.  UN Human Rights Council Adopts Pro-Gay Rights Resolution Affirming LGBT Human Rights

The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted an historic resolution on June 17th, the first exclusively LGBT affirmative resolution in UN history that seeks to apply human rights principles and protections based upon on sexual orientation and gender identity. The formal resolution also commissions the first UN official report on the state of LGBT human rights, which is to be directed by Navanethem Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The resolution was carried with 23 states supporting, disproportionately represented by the Americas, European states and a few Asian countries, led by South Africa and Brazil. A majority of countries opposing represented African and Arab countries, including Uganda and Iran. The Human Rights Council historic vote explicitly embraces concerns about violence and terror carried out against LGBT persons and reflects a decidedly different attunement to these crimes and concerns, in contrast to the vote carried out by the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee in November 2010 that initially stripped out “sexual orientation” from a resolution addressing extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in a vote that was overwhelming represented by a majority of African, Middle East and Caribbean nations – although reversed after a globalized uproar of condemnation led by activists and governments alike, when the vote was held in December 2010 on final passage.

4.  UN Human Rights Council Issues First Report on LGBTQ Human Rights

The first formal United Nations report on the state of LGBT human rights was presented to the UN General Assembly on December 16 by Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human rights, who has been an outspoken supporter of LGBT human rights. In issuing the report, Pillay called on UN member states to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and prosecute all serious violations, repeal discriminatory laws, and end legal discrimination for all LGBT persons. “On the basis of the information presented (in this report), a pattern of human rights violations emerges that demands a response,” Pillay said, according to a report by the AP.

“Governments and inter-​governmental bodies have often overlooked violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” she said.  The findings of the report indicate that LGBT people face widespread discrimination everywhere in the world and are subjected to extreme violence, including rape, beatings and torture, evidenced by confirmed reports of mutilation and castration that were characterized by a “high degree of cruelty,” including forcible rape of lesbians, a notorious activity by anti-​gay men in South Africa. LGBT persons face criminal punishment in 76 countries and risk capital punishment in five countries, including Iran, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen. The report lays out evidence of widespread discrimination and arbitrary arrests and criminal punishment based upon sexual orientation and gender identity.

5.  Obama Issues Proclamation Prohibiting Entry of Persons to the United States Who Target LGBT Persons

President Obama issued an executive proclamation (and fact sheet) on August 4 that prohibits persons who have engaged in egregious human rights abuses and who also target LGBT persons from entering the United States. Sexual orientation and gender identity were added to the directive, thus preventing politicians like Ugandan parliamentarian David Bahati from entering the United States. The White House statement calls for entry to be barred to anyone who “planned, ordered, assisted, aided and abetted, committed or otherwise participated in . . . widespread or systematic violence against any civilian population based in whole or in part on . . . sexual orientation or gender identity, or who attempted or conspired to do so.” Another first by the Obama Administration.

6.  Gay Pride Parades Disrupted in Russia, The Balkans, Speech Suppressed

Gay Pride in Moscow, disrupted again in May by police, has never successfully staged a gay pride march since attempts began in 2006. This year’s parade, cut short, was attended by American gay activist Dan Choi and by Nikola Alekeyev, a now former Russian gay activist, who were both arrested, among three dozen others. Since then, legislative efforts banning pro-gay speech have advanced in the St. Petersburg City Council through two readings and have been endorsed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party.

Many Kremlin watchers agree that Vladimir Putin’s efforts to return to power as president, has all the hallmarks of desperation, perhaps attributable to a substantial drop in support from his traditional base of voters as his approval rating sank 13 points since 2010 from a high 80 percent to 67 percent reported in a recent opinion survey. It remains unclear if the Duma, the upper house of the national parliament, will take up this measure for consideration. Homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia in 1993, but homophobia remains highly virulent and authorities have ignored rulings by the EU Court for Human Rights, who ruled against the Russian government last year for failure to respect freedom of speech.

Balkan Gay Prides Fraught With Violence and Suppression of Free Speech

In the Balkans, Gay Pride in Belgrade was canceled  again in 2011 by officials of the Serbian government, who said they were taking this action to “prevent major chaos” and “to protect LGBT marchers.” Gay Pride in Belgrade has only been held twice since 2001, and violence or the threat of violence have disrupted other attempts to stage Pride.

Members of the EU parliament have condemned the decisions of the Serbian government and EU officials said the failure to respect rule of law and facilitate freedom of expression will be noted with respect to Serbia’s EU member candidacy which has been pushed into 2012. Several Serbian journalists estimated that politics and the upcoming elections were the calculations behind canceling gay pride, according to a report by B-92 News in Serbia:

“This year the authorities decided it was more profitable to let the U.S. embassy and Brussels get angry, but to avoid irritating that majority,” said Ljiljana Smajlović, head of the Association of Journalists of Serbia.

Split, Croatia gay pride in June was marred by homophobic spectators, estimated at 8,000 to 10,000, in opposition to about 200 marchers. The virulently anti-​gay protestors, who came prepared to disrupt the first gay event in the notorious nationalist right-​wing stronghold of the 1,700-year old city, threw fists, firecrackers, bottles and rocks, some wielded cigarette lighters, while others threw tomatoes and tear gas. Nonetheless, Gay Pride in Zagreb was successfully staged and organizers met with President Josip Osipovic, who offered his support and officially met with organizers. Afterwards, the government released photographs of the meeting.

7.  OSCE Engaged on the Issue of LGBT Human Rights, U.S. Envoy hosts Eastern European LGBT Human Rights Defenders

Ambassador David Johnson, head of the U.S. delegation that attended the Organization for Security and Co-​operation in Europe’s annual ‘Human Dimension’ Implementation meeting in Warsaw in early October, hosted a reception for LGBT human rights defenders who continue to face fierce and frequent violent opposition to gay pride events around Europe, most recently in Belgrade on October 2 when Serbian government officials canceled a planned pride march due to ultra-​nationalistic opposition that threatened violence.

Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, who also attended the meeting, said in a statement to the New Civil Rights Movement that the U.S. government’s role has proven to be a constructive one, although the 56-​member state organization has yet to formalize a systematic review of LGBT human rights in the OSCE region: “The U.S. government is now working closely with many EU colleagues to raise LGBT concerns in the discussion, even if it is not formally on the agenda.  Ambassador Johnson raised LGBT human rights issues several times during the meeting.”

Apparently, this advocacy has begun to reap benefits as the OSCE Mission to Serbia has funded a case study on violence against LGBT persons in the country–a first for the Mission, which supports civil society stakeholders in advancing democratization, rule of law and human rights.

9.  Human Rights Honors Bestowed on Ugandan LGBTQ Activists

Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), was awarded the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award on November 11th in a ceremony held in Washington, D.C.  It marks the first time that the RFK Foundation awarded its prestigious human rights prize to a gay activist. On November 6th Mugisha also accepted the Rafto Prize on behalf of SMUG in a ceremony held in Bergen, Norway. The Rafto Prize noted that it was awarded to “SMUG for its work to make fundamental human rights apply to everyone, and to eliminate discrimination based upon sexual orientation or gender identity.” 

Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, an Ugandan lesbian activist and the leader of the Freedom to Roam, a lesbian advocacy group, was awarded the prestigious Martin Ennals Human Rights Defenders award on October 13 in Geneva, Switzerland. Nabagesera is the first gay rights activist and the 20th Laureate to receive the Ennals award, considered to be only second in prestige to that of the Nobel Peace Prize.

David Kato and Nabagesera’s names had been included in a list of known Ugandan homosexuals, published in October 2010, that also called for the killing of homosexuals in Uganda by the Rolling Stone newspaper. She and Kato sued the newspaper in Uganda’s highest court and publicly confronted the escalating homophobia, by bravely appearing on television and radio on numerous occasions. Because of the frightening anti-​gay environment in Uganda, she has been forced to move from one location to another, from house to house, to dodge potential violence directed toward her, even death.

10. Cameron Announces Support for Gay Marriage, Tory Led Government Announces New Foreign Aid Policy Based on LGBT Human Rights Records

David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, declared his support for legalized gay marriage at a Tory Party conference in early October to less than an enthusiastic audience that was marked by protest, prompting some party delegates walk out. The Conservative Party leader forcefully expressed his support for gay marriage: “Conserrvatives believe in ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other. So I don’t support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I’m a Conservative.” Cameron’s endorsement was immediately repudiated by a spokesperson of the Church of England, joined by various leaders of the British Roman Catholic Church.

Cameron also announced that his government would leverage its foreign assistance to bilateral allies based upon their LGBT human rights records. This foreign policy move is seen by some as much a domestic move to cut back on foreign assistance spending, but to bridge its spending aims to a growing popular issue at home that Cameron continues to pursue. Many LGBT activists in the “Global South” have reservations, and feel it smacks of Britain’s former colonialist past and could be counterproductive. But this move by Britain was enthusiastically supported by Nepali lawmakers, as well as gay activists there, as reported by the New Civil Rights Movement.

Image of David Kato courtesy of the African Activist blog.  The UN Human Rights Council photo courtesy of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

 

Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Ran a Bribery Center Blocks From the White House’: Comer Mocked for Claiming No Evidence of Trump Influence Peddling

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The powerful Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, James  Comer (R-KY) is being highly mocked after declaring he will investigate President Joe Biden for “influence peddling” despite admitting there’s little if any evidence President Biden has engaged in influence peddling.

When pressed, he pointed to Biden’s classified documents and one alleged email from Hunter Biden’s laptop.

But when pressed again by a frustrated CNN host, asking why he’s not investigating ex-president Donald Trump, he couldn’t offer a valid reason, except to claim there no evidence of it.

Some were quick to point out the Trump’s tenure in the White House was filled with alleged influence peddling operations.

Here’s Chairman Comer with CNN’s Pamela Brown on Sunday. While the transcript is a bit simplified, it’s not far off.

“What’s different with Joe Biden is we’re investigating the Biden family for influence peddling,” Comer said on CNN Sunday evening. “We have a strong suspicion that people around Joe Biden, mainly in his family, have been peddling access to the Biden family, with our adversaries around the world, and when we find out that they have multiple classified documents scattered throughout multiple residences and office buildings across the East Coast, then this raises a huge red flag for us. We want to make sure that those documents in the possession of Joe Biden weren’t somehow sent to our adversaries and didn’t somehow compromise our national security.”

READ MORE: The Powerful GOP Oversight Committee Chairman Is Pushing a Baseless Narrative That Biden Is ‘Compromised’

CNN’s Pamela Brown pushed back.

“But you’ve also talked about how you worried about the same situation with the Trump family. Trump had 300-plus documents at Mar-a-Lago, why don’t you have that same concern?” Brown asked. “I mean, there are visitors going in and out of Mar-a-Lago from different countries, including China, there’s been a Chinese spy who was arrested at Mar-a-Lago and it was in an unsecure location at Mar-a-Lago. So would you apply that same concern evenly across the board?

Comer was unimpressed with the facts she presented.

“If someone can show me evidence that there was influence peddling with those classified documents that were in the possession of President Trump, then we would certainly expect it.”

His defense for the Chinese spy? It’s a public place – making all the more dangerous for unsecured classified documents.

“Do you have evidence of influence peddling with the classified documents that was for Biden?” Brown asked. “It sounds like you don’t – you’re looking into it, but why wouldn’t you look into it in the same way for Trump?”

“We have evidence that the Biden family has been very cozy with people from the Chinese Communist Party. We have evidence that Hunter Biden was receiving payments that were that were linked directly to the Chinese Communist Party through those Chinese energy companies. We’re very concerned about all the money connected to Ukraine.”

“How is that connected to classified documents?” Brown again pushed.

READ MORE: Principal Ordered Librarian to Take Down Holocaust Survivor’s Famous Quote Just Days Before Holocaust Remembrance Day

“We don’t know we want to look. We see there’s one email that’s been identified that is suspicious that we want to look into. We want to make sure that there’s one email that was on Hunter Biden’s laptop wasn’t one of the classified documents. So I think there’s ample reason to be concerned.”

Comer revealed he has no evidence against President Biden or the Biden family.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) called it a “a politically-driven fishing expedition.”

“Republican hypocrisy on full display,” Gomez tweeted in response. “How can you launch an investigation without any evidence? This is a politically-driven fishing expedition — full stop. Lots of political stunts, not a lot of problem-solving.”

But, as several people noted, there is plenty of apparent evidence against Donald Trump.

HuffPost White House correspondent S.V. Dáte called Comer out: “Trump ran a bribery center five blocks from The White House,” he shouted, referring to the Trump D.C. Hotel, while tweeting in all-caps.

“Just a stunning dereliction of duty,” charged Robert Maguire, the research director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). “Trump brought in tens of millions of dollars as president from businesses he refused to divest, which were used by special interests and foreign governments to enrich him while currying favor with him and his administration.”

Telling Chairman Comer he is “happy to chat,” Mother Jones’ David Corn tweeted, “I know of 2 billion reasons Comer and the House Republicans should look at the Trump family regarding influence peddling and overseas dealings.”

Corn is likely referring to the $2 billion “investment” Trump son-in-law and senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner received.

“Six months after leaving the White House,” The New York Times reported last April, “Jared Kushner secured a $2 billion investment from a fund led by the Saudi crown prince, a close ally during the Trump administration, despite objections from the fund’s advisers about the merits of the deal.”

READ MORE: Criminal Charges Against Trump Possible as Manhattan DA Presents Grand Jury With Evidence in Hush Money Probe

MSNBC’s Steve Benen likened Comer’s interview to “watching a snake eat its own tail.” Benen also pointed to Comer’s second attempt, Monday morning, which did not go well.

Bloomberg’s Emily Wilkins, the Vice President of the National Press Club, apparently mistakenly, said to Comer: “So you are asking questions about Trump.”

He made clear he is not.

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Principal Ordered Librarian to Take Down Holocaust Survivor’s Famous Quote Just Days Before Holocaust Remembrance Day

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A Pennsylvania principal drew criticism last week after telling a Bucks County school librarian to take down posters with a famous quote by Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize winning human rights activist, professor, and Holocaust survivor, just days before Holocaust Remembrance Day. The Central Bucks School District reportedly has ties to an organization that appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups.

Despite being under investigation by the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Office of Civil Rights after an ACLU complaint, the Central Bucks School District earlier this month voted 6-3 to pass “a contentious policy that bans teachers from engaging in ‘advocacy activities’ and displaying inclusive symbols like Pride flags in their classrooms,” WHYY reported earlier this month.

Citing that new rule, known as Policy 321, the school principal told Central Bucks High School South librarian Matt Pecic to take down four posters that displayed Wiesel’s famous quote from his 1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, WHYY reports.

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented,” Wiesel said.

READ MORE: $1 Billion Campaign From Group ‘Linked to Staunchly Conservative Causes’ Will Try to ‘Redeem Jesus’ Brand’ in Super Bowl Ads

The principal reportedly told Pecic if he did not comply human resources would have to get involved. Pecic, who has worked for the school district for three decades, met with the principal accompanied by his union representative.

“If I didn’t take it down, I knew there would be consequences that could impact me,” Pecic said. “It’s a horrible feeling. And you feel like you have to do something that you don’t agree with.”

Making the issue even more difficult, “Pecic’s ninth-grade daughter, a Central Bucks student at Holicong Middle School, originally emailed him the quote,” WHYY reports.

“This is where I get choked up,” Pecic said. “She said that ‘this quote reminds me of you.’”

Pecic describes himself as someone who often speaks up, “if I disagree with something, especially if I think it’s not for the benefit of students, I will say something.”

On Thursday, after uproar from the community, the district stepped in and allowed the posters with Wiesel’s quote to be put back up.

READ MORE: Trump-Aligned Christian Nationalist Group ‘Taps Into Unholy Well’ That Threatens Democracy

“We regret that the decision was made to remove it,” the district said in a statement, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported,  “and in a manner that promotes not only the importance of the novel, but continued awareness and education surrounding the Holocaust and its National Day of Remembrance this coming Friday. The district apologizes for any hurt or concerns this has caused, particularly for those in the Jewish community.”

The Central Bucks School District hired a public relations firm, Devine + Partners, at the cost of $15,000 a month, “in an attempt to repair strained public relations and improve the school district’s image,” The Buck’s County Herald reported last summer.

Devine + Partners was hired to help after “a series of executive decisions made by the Central Bucks School District, most of which appear targeted towards the LGBTQ+ student body.”

“This includes the removal of Pride Flags in the classroom, under the justification that they were political symbols, and as such, not fit for the classroom. It also includes only allowing students to attend Human Growth and Development classes that matched with their assigned genders at birth, and pausing said classes shortly after they began, effectively outing these students to their teachers and peers.”

READ MORE: McCarthy Sat for an Interview With Trump Jr. – One Bragged About an ‘Illegal’ Act, One Wished His Dad Would ‘Show Some’ Love

WHYY is a separate report notes on Monday that the Central Bucks School District has ties to an anti-LGBTQ hate group, the Family Research Council.

The district is currently reviewing five books after rolling out a new, harsh policy “which aims to keep books that a yet-to-be-determined group might deem ‘inappropriate’ for unspecified ‘sexualized content’ out of school libraries,” WHYY reported in July.

“Recent updates to the policy were reviewed by a conservative Christian law firm, Independence Law Center, as first reported by the Bucks County Courier Times,” WHYY adds. “The Independence Law Center is the legal arm of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which is a statewide branch of the national organization Family Research Council, an anti-LGBTQ Christian nationalist group designated as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

Earlier this month NBC 10 Philadelphia reported on the passage of Policy 321 by the school board. Watch below or at this link.

 

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News

Criminal Charges Against Trump Possible as Manhattan DA Presents Grand Jury With Evidence in Hush Money Probe

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Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has empaneled a special grand jury and prosecutors are now presenting evidence against Donald Trump in their revived investigation into hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and one other woman during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Calling it “a dramatic escalation of an inquiry that once appeared to have reached a dead end,” The New York Times reports the Manhattan DA is “laying the groundwork for potential criminal charges against the former president in the coming months,” and says it “a clear signal” that Bragg “is nearing a decision about whether to charge Mr. Trump.”

Among the witnesses testifying is David Pecker, “the former publisher of The National Enquirer, the tabloid that helped broker the deal” with Daniels.

READ MORE: $1 Billion Campaign From Group ‘Linked to Staunchly Conservative Causes’ Will Try to ‘Redeem Jesus’ Brand’ in Super Bowl Ads

Prosecutors have also contacted members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and have subpoenaed phone records and other documents that could provide evidence.

But The Times notes that a “conviction is not a sure thing, in part because a case could hinge on showing that Mr. Trump and his company falsified records to hide the payout from voters days before the 2016 election, a low-level felony charge that would be based on a largely untested legal theory. The case would also rely on the testimony of Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer who made the payment and who himself pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the hush money in 2018.”

Cohen broke with Trump and in 2016, “made the extraordinary admission in court on Tuesday that Mr. Trump had directed him to arrange payments to two women during the 2016 campaign to keep them from speaking publicly about affairs they said they had with Mr. Trump,” The Times reported in 2018.

The payments were made “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016, Cohen testified.

He was sentenced to 36 months in prison.

“Days before then-President Donald Trump left the White House, federal prosecutors in New York discussed whether to potentially charge Trump with campaign finance crimes once he was out of office,” CNN reported on Friday, citing a new book from CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig.

But they “decided to not seek an indictment of Trump for several reasons, Honig writes, including the political ramifications and the fact that Trump’s other scandals, such as efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and the January 6, 2021, insurrection, ‘made the campaign finance violations seem somehow trivial and outdated by comparison.'”

Award-winning journalist and author Brian Karem tweeted: “As someone who worked extensively with [Michael Cohen] on the book ‘Revenge’ I can say this: Facts show that the MOST dangerous criminal case against Donald Trump could be made by the Manhattan D.A.”

Read The Times’ full report here.

This article has been updated to include Brian Karem’s tweet.

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