News Brief: Trump’s Trial Updates, Support for Trump, and Crucial Ruling on 2nd Amendment Rights

Today, we’ll share with you the latest on former President Donald Trump’s ongoing trial, Speaker Mike Johnson’s fiery defense, NFL legend Lawrence Taylor’s endo
News Brief: Trump’s Trial Updates, Support for Trump, and Crucial Ruling on 2nd Amendment Rights
(L–R) Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, and Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.) listen as former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he arrives to attend his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, on May 14, 2024. (Curtis Means/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
Bill Thomas
Good morning, and welcome to The Epoch Times News Brief for Tuesday, May 15, 2024. I’m Bill Thomas, and today, we’ll share with you the latest on former President Donald Trump’s ongoing trial, Speaker Mike Johnson’s fiery defense, NFL legend Lawrence Taylor’s endorsement of Trump, a crucial Second Amendment ruling, and a controversial gag order on Trump. We’ll get to all those stories, but first up, let’s have a look at the high-profile support the former president just received in court.

Speaker Mike Johnson, Vivek Ramaswamy Join Trump in Court on Tuesday

A group of elected Republicans, including House Speaker Mike Johnson, joined President Trump in New York to support him during his court case. Some high-profile GOP supporters who showed up included two rumored 2024 vice-presidential picks— North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy—along with Florida Reps. Byron Donalds and Cory Mills. Mr. Ramaswamy called the trial a politically motivated assault, and Reps. Donalds and Mills criticized it as the “weaponized lawfare” of the Biden administration.

Other supporters at the trial included Sens. JD Vance (R-Ohio) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.), and the attorneys general from Iowa and Alabama. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) also made an appearance.

Mr. Johnson has recently shown strong support for President Trump as well, even accompanying him to Mar-a-Lago to announce new House legislation. For his part, President Trump has backed Mr. Johnson against threats of an ouster from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former attorney, also took the stand. His testimony and upcoming cross-examination is expected to be the most contentious part of the trial and a key element in President Trump’s defense.

Back to Mr. Johnson, he had quite a bit to say yesterday about the New York case.

Speaker Johnson Says Trump Trial Is a ‘Travesty of Justice’

Mr. Johnson held a press conference Tuesday outside the Manhattan courthouse where President Trump’s trial is ongoing. He strongly criticized the proceedings, calling them a “travesty of justice.”

Mr. Johnson, the highest-ranking Republican and a former litigator, expressed his outrage at the trial and its implications for the American judicial system.

He condemned the trial, which is now in its fifth week, as an attempt to hinder President Trump’s 2024 campaign efforts and accused the key figures in the case of partisan bias.

Mr. Johnson said he’s concerned about the erosion of public trust in the justice system, and said that people are losing faith in their institutions due to perceived abuses. He emphasized the importance of facts in a trial and questioned the credibility of the prosecution’s star witness, Mr. Cohen. Mr. Johnson also criticized the charges of falsifying business records, pointing out that President Trump was not the bookkeeper for his company.

He also criticized the gag order placed on President Trump as a violation of his constitutional rights.

Let’s make a move now from a vocal House speaker in Manhattan to a rally in New Jersey, where President Trump just picked up a substantial endorsement.

NFL Legend Lawrence Taylor Endorses Trump for President

Former NFL linebacker Lawrence Taylor has endorsed the former president for the 2024 presidential race. Speaking at a Trump rally in New Jersey this past weekend, Mr. Taylor shared that he had always been a Democrat until he met President Trump, and now he says nobody in his family will ever vote for a Democrat again.

Former NFL running back Ottis Anderson also spoke at the rally, expressing his admiration for President Trump, though he did not explicitly endorse the president.

This isn’t the first time an NFL player has endorsed President Trump. Former player Jack Brewer supported him during the 2020 race, citing President Trump’s positive impact on the black community, including job creation and criminal justice reform.

Mr. Taylor’s endorsement comes amid polls showing that Democrats are losing the support of black voters, who have been a mainstay of the party.

The former president has a lot on his plate, and making things even more complicated is a new development with his ongoing legal challenges.

New York Appeals Court Upholds Gag Order Targeting Trump

A New York court has upheld a gag order on President Trump in his criminal trial.

Judge Juan Merchan issued the order, stopping President Trump from commenting on court staff, prosecutors, potential witnesses, and members of the jury. The order was later expanded to include members of the judge’s own family, but does not block him from commenting on Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg or the judge himself.

The court decided that President Trump’s public statements posed a significant threat to the integrity of witness testimony. President Trump challenged the restrictions on his ability to comment about Matthew Colangelo, a former Justice Department official who is a part of the prosecution team, and Judge Merchan’s daughter, the head of a political consulting firm that has worked for President Trump’s rival Joe Biden and other Democratic candidates. He said that they violated his political speech rights and could impact his campaign. However, the court rejected these arguments.

President Trump has already been fined $10,000 for violating the gag order and has been threatened with jail time if he continues to do so. He claims he cannot discuss the specifics of the case and argues that his First Amendment rights are being violated. The U.S. Secret Service has stated they will protect President Trump if he ends up in jail.

President Trump is charged with falsifying business records related to a payment scheme involving his former lawyer, Mr. Cohen. President Trump’s lawyers have also expressed concern about public comments made by Mr. Cohen, prompting the judge to direct prosecutors to tell Mr. Cohen to refrain from further comments.

The trial is expected to last about two more weeks, with prosecutors indicating that Mr. Cohen may be the last witness called.

Moving on from the former president’s battles, let’s scope out a story now about a major ruling regarding gun rights.

Convicted Non-Violent Felons Can Own Guns, Ninth Circuit Rules

A divided panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that convicted felons can own guns, at least when it comes to non-violent offenders who have reentered society. The ruling could have a significant impact on the exercise of Second Amendment rights.

The case involves Steven Duarte, a California man convicted of possessing a firearm despite having five previous non-violent convictions.

In a 2–1 decision, the court said that Mr. Duarte’s conviction violated his Second Amendment rights. The majority opinion found that Mr. Duarte’s past convictions wouldn’t have been considered serious enough to permanently strip him of his Second Amendment rights during the Early Republic era. This ruling overturned a previous Ninth Circuit precedent from 2010.

However, Circuit Judge Milan Smith, who wrote the dissenting opinion, argued that the constitutionality of the federal felon-in-possession law should be clarified by the U.S. Supreme Court.

This ruling adds to the ongoing court split on the interpretation of the Second Amendment. The Ninth Circuit and the Third Circuit have ruled in favor of Americans who have lost their Second Amendment rights due to non-violent felony convictions, while the Tenth Circuit upholds restrictions on these individuals.

I can see that we are just about out of time, so that’s going to be our final story on the Wednesday (mid-week) edition of The Epoch Times News Brief.

Before we shut the studio down, just a reminder that we always appreciate hearing from you, so if you enjoy our News Brief program, please let us know by sharing an email with us. We’re at [email protected]. If you have any thoughts, comments, or suggestions about this program, tell us what’s on your mind, and with that, it’s off to the email bag we go:

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Finally, as we do each and every day on this program, we wrap things up with a very “notable” quote.

Today’s gem comes to us from Herman Melville, who said: “It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.”

Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, and poet of the American Renaissance period. One of his best-known works, Moby Dick, is considered one of the great American novels.

For all of us here at The Epoch Times News Brief, I’m Bill Thomas, thanks for sharing a portion of your day with us. Maybe you’ll think about reading a great American novel today, or better yet, begin writing one of your own. Have a spectacular day today.

Bill Thomas is a two-time Golden Mike Award winner who has specialized in breaking news coverage. In his career he has covered floods, forest fires, police pursuits, civil unrest, and freeway collapses. He is a host of EpochCasts News Brief, an audio news show from The Epoch Times. You can reach Bill via email at [email protected]
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