Friday, May 31, 2024

Israel's National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said the war in Gaza will last at least another seven months


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Israel News, Thursday, 30.05.2024
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U.S. officials told Haaretz the hostages in Gaza won't survive seven more months after Israel's national security adviser said the Gaza war will last at least until the end of 2024. Palestinian Islamic Jihad published a second video of Israeli hostage Sasha Troufanov. The Palestinian Red Crescent said two of its employees were killed in an Israeli strike in Rafah. The amount of humanitarian aid entering the Strip has dropped by two-thirds since Israel began its operation in Rafah, the UN said. War cabinet minister Benny Gantz's party submitted a bill to dissolve Israel's parliament and head to election.

Here's what you need to know 237 days into the war
What happened today
Mothers of combat soldiers who are serving in the Gaza Strip, covered with red paint, block a road demanding the end of the war, in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.
■ HOSTAGES/CEASE-FIRE: Following a statement by Israel's National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi that the war in Gaza will last at least another seven months, senior U.S. officials called on the Israeli government to prioritize a hostage release deal immediately.
  • "Without getting into the question of whether or not the war should indeed last so many months, one thing is clear and must be said: we have to get a deal now. The hostages in Gaza can't wait seven more months. Every passing day increases the likelihood that they won't come back alive," a senior U.S. official told Haaretz.

  • Palestinian Islamic Jihad published a second video of Israeli hostage Sasha Troufanov.
■ GAZA: The Palestinian Red Crescent said two of its employees in an ambulance bearing the organization's markings were killed Wednesday night in an Israeli strike in western Rafah. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said the two were on their way to retrieve bodies and wounded people from the area. Nineteen Palestinian Red Crescent workers have been killed since the war began.
  • The IDF responded that Israeli forces fired at a suspicious car approaching them, and that it was investigating the incident, adding that the ambulance's presence in the area was not coordinated with the army.

  • The IDF reported that the three soldiers who were killed Tuesday in Gaza were hit by an explosive device that went off inside a civilian clinic found in an UNRWA school in Rafah. The forces were operating in the area in response to anti-tank fire coming from the UNRWA school, according to the IDF.

  • The U.S.-built pier meant to provide Gaza with humanitarian aid was so damaged by high seas that it is inoperable and is being sent to the Israeli city of Ashdod for repairs. The rebuilding would take at least a week, according to the U.S. Office for Palestinian Affairs.

  • The amount of humanitarian aid entering Gaza has dropped by two-thirds since Israel began its operation in Rafah earlier this month, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

  • For the first time since the war began, Israel lifted the ban on Gazans purchasing goods from Israeli businesses.

  • According to the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry in Gaza, at least 36,224 Palestinians have been killed and 81,420 wounded since the start of the war.
"Management of the Rafah crossing by a Palestinian-Egyptian-international partnership could serve as an initial test case in a long process that would free Israel from civilian control in Gaza and from being swept into a full occupation that would entail direct responsibility for managing all aspects of civilian life there. But so far Israel is the one putting up the insurmountable hurdle of absolutely refusing to bend on the political axiom that says it will not let the 'Terror Authority' set foot in Gaza" – Zvi Bar'el

■ PALESTINIAN STATE: The Slovenian government approved the recognition of an independent Palestinian state, Prime Minister Robert Golob said. The decision must also be approved by Slovenia's parliament in the coming days.
  • China supports the establishment of a Palestinian state that would be a UN member and calls for an international peace conference that would end the war between Israel and Hamas on the basis of a two-state solution, President Xi Jinping said to Arab leaders and diplomats at a forum in Beijing, adding that China would send $70 million to treat the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and will donate an additional $3 million to UNRWA.
■ U.S.-ISRAEL: Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told his American counterpart Lloyd Austin that there is "concrete information" regarding the presence of Israeli hostages in Rafah, CNN reported, citing a Defense Ministry statement.

■ ISRAEL: War cabinet minister Benny Gantz's National Unity party submitted a bill to dissolve Israel's parliament in order to hold an early election. Despite the move, it is likely the bill will not be brought up to a vote in the Knesset as long as there is no guaranteed majority.
  • PM Netanyahu's Likud party responded by saying "breaking up the [current] unity government is a reward for [Hamas leader Yahya] Sinwar, a capitulation to international pressure and a fatal blow to efforts to release our hostages," to which the National Unity party replied that Netanyahu "time and again, chooses his personal interests over the country's."

  • The IDF announced the names of two soldiers who were killed in a car-ramming attack in the West Bank on Wednesday and a soldier who was killed in northern Gaza: Staff Sergeant Eliya Hilel, 20, Staff Sergeant Diego Shvisha Harsaj, 20, and Staff Sergeant Yedidya Azugi, 20. An IDF official told Haaretz the perpetrator of the car-ramming attack turned himself in to the Palestinian Authority.
■ SYRIA: One girl was killed and ten others wounded in an Israeli strike on a residential area in the city of Baniyas in western Syria, the Syrian news agency reported.

■ WEST BANK: During an IDF operation in the town of Al-Bireh, a fruit and vegetable wholesale market burned down in the town, residents said, adding that the raid included gunfire and grenades thrown near the market. The Palestinian Health Ministry said five people were wounded in the fire, with two in serious condition. The IDF has yet to comment on the incident.
  • The Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah said a man was moderately wounded by IDF gunfire in the city of Jenin.
"For at least a decade, far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has not tried to hide his goal of bringing about the demise of the PA in the West Bank. In the current chaos he sees an opportunity to act and is trying to push Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to support him in defiance of the rare consensus among senior defense officials" – Amos Harel

Latest from Malaysia Now: Madani refugees Homeless amid rubble, Gombak villagers forced to live in tents

Murray Hunter

Latest from Malaysia Now: Madani refugees
Homeless amid rubble, Gombak villagers forced to live in tents

MAY 31, 2024

A resident of Kampung Sri Makmur takes a nap under a tent surrounded by the belongings she saved after her house was demolished by authorities on May 27, 2024.

We are now witnessing in Malaysia the use of the full force of the law to assist corporate greed. This report from Malaysia Now gives an update on the situation at Kampung Sri Makmur in Gombak.

It has been days since Muhammad Khairul and his family were forced out of their house in Kampung Sri Makmur, Gombak, by enforcement officers with demolition machines, but they are still struggling to process the loss of their house – the only place they ever had to call home.

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, Khairul said a group of "thugs" in green vests with their faces covered had started a commotion on Monday, evicting the villagers before proceeding to tear down their homes.

Fearful for their safety, he and his family, including his seven-year-old son, rushed out of the house.

There, he witnessed a shouting match between the residents and the "thugs" which quickly turned into a scuffle.

"Their ways are unjust," Khairul said. "We were prepared for a proper discussion, but they pounced on us while my son was behind me. I could not reach him so he fell and was trampled on."

Khairul, who lodged a police report on the incident, now lives in a tent with his family behind what remains of their home.

Family portraits lie amid the rubble of houses demolished by the state government in Kampung Sri Makmur, Gombak.

Among hundreds of residents who were ordered to vacate their homes by May 31, he hopes to find somewhere to rent for the time being.

The villagers said the court had set them the deadline, but that there wasn't enough time to make adequate preparations.

"The notice was served on Friday and they came on Monday for the demolition," said Amril Muslim, 59.

Kampung Sri Makmur, located between Middle Ring Road 2 and the Taman Sri Gombak business centre, consisted of 130 houses which had existed since the 1980s.

The use of force by the authorities to evict the residents was condemned by Gombak Setia assemblyman Hilman Idham.

"The violence that took place has gone viral on social media. Unfortunately, the lack of a response from the state government, especially the menteri besar who is also the MP for Gombak (Amirudin Shari), shows how cruel and inhumane the state government is today," he said at a press conference in Kampung Sri Makmur yesterday.

The residents have not been compensated.

However, 21 residents received a "goodwill" payment of RM1,000 each from developers Rexpoint Resources Sdn Bhd and PKNS, as well as an offer for the purchase of homes under Rumah Selangorku, the state's affordable housing scheme.

Khairul said the residents had not been given enough time to find anywhere to rent.

"They just turned up and told us they were going to demolish the house. There were many items we could not save.

"It's not cheap to rent a house. If the rent is RM1,000, you should come up with about RM3,000 to RM4,000 for the down payment and deposit," he added.

Rosiah Ismail, 64, also lives with her family members in a tent in front of the rubble of their house.

On Tuesday night, a heavy downpour left them drenched as they slept.

"The items we were able to get our hands on are the only ones that are safe. Many items were damaged by the falling bricks caused by the demolition," Rosiah said.

Her daughter Norshila Abu Bakar, 37, said the family was looking for a house to rent, but that it was not easy to find a place within their budget.

Norshila and her siblings work as petty traders selling kuih in Selayang.

"We need to find a house nearby because we work here and my children's school is also here," said the mother of two.

Ibrahim Din, the deputy community leader of Kampung Sri Makmur, said apart from the short eviction notice, there was also the issue of land ownership involving the state government, developers and residents.

He said documents showed that PKNS had owned the land since July 1, 2020, before which it belonged to two Singapore nationals.

He said no fewer than 60 residents had applied to the land office to have the village gazetted.

"We purchased the village plan. PKNS should have let the villagers apply for land, not the developer, because it did not develop this land.

"It was the developer who evicted us, even though the land actually belongs to PKNS. PKNS did not consult with the residents," he said.

In a statement, PKNS said it had sold the land to private developer Rexpoint Resources in September 2020.

"The public is advised not to encroach on the property of Rexpoint Resources so as not to obstruct the demolition works and also for safety reasons," it said.

Referring to Kampung Sri Makmur as a squatter area, PKNS said the demolition of houses had been ongoing since 2006.

It said at that time, the residents had rejected an offer to buy low-cost houses and demanded compensation instead.

It said the demolition of the houses was carried out in compliance with the court order, adding that the government had decided to give 21 residents a goodwill payment of RM1,000 each, in addition to offering them Rumah Selangorku units of 750 sq ft at a "subsidised price" of RM65,000.

This is not the first time that the Selangor government under Amirudin has been embroiled in controversy over the forced eviction of residents.

Last year, MalaysiaNow reported the plight of residents in Selat Klang, Klang, and Taman Rawiyah Sulaiman, Gombak, who were told to vacate their homes to make way for the East Coast Rail Link project.

The residents of Kampung Koskan Tambahan in Serendah were also told to move out, although they had received nothing in black and white about alternative housing.

Published in Malaysia Now 30th May 2024

3 Million Rush To Withdraw RM5.52 Billion – Either People Still In Financial Distress Or Digging A Bigger Hole In EPF

3 Million Rush To Withdraw RM5.52 Billion – Either People Still In Financial Distress Or Digging A Bigger Hole In EPF

May 30th, 2024 by financetwitter

Between May 11 and May 22, the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) approved a whopping 3.04 million applications from contributors to withdraw part of their retirement money from Account 3 to the tune of RM5.52 billion. Within the same period, it has received 2.86 million applications to transfer RM8.78 billion from Account 2 (Akaun Sejahtera) to Account 3 (Akaun Fleksibel).

But it was just the beginning. Millions more are expected to transfer to the newly created Account 3 until the deadline on August 31. The restructuring, which saw Account 1 (70%) and Account 2 (30%) redesigned to Account 1 (75%), Account 2 (15%) and Account 3 (10%), will allow EPF’s 16.07 million members to withdraw 10% of their retirement saving “whenever they like”.

While Account 1 (Akaun Persaraan) appears to have been strengthened to 75% from 70%, the effective loss of saving is still 10% as most members will treat Account 3 like an ATM machine. If every EPF member decides to withdraw, the total fund that would be moved to Account Fleksibel will amount to RM57 billion. Because it’s a “one-off” option, majority will opt for the transfer.

Therefore, even if workers don’t plan to withdraw now, they will still transfer one-third of their savings from Account 2 to Account 3 – just in case. After all, this new account still enjoy the same dividend as other accounts. The simple fact that over 3 million applications were approved in just 11 days alone clearly shows the stunning popularity – and desperation – to withdraw from the retirement fund before the maturity of the retirement age.

The EPF or the government might argue that the creation of Account 3 is the best thing since sliced bread, allowing contributors to withdraw funds for emergencies without resorting to avenues such as loan sharks. However, it’s human nature that they don’t have the discipline nor possessed the financial literacy not to misuse the flexibility other than so-called emergency withdrawals.

There’s a reason why the Employees Provident Fund was established in the first place. Founded in 1951, its purpose is to be a social security organisation to provide retirement benefits for private sector and non-pensionable employees in Malaysia. It is a compulsory savings scheme designed to help employees secure their financial future because they don’t have the discipline to save for retirement.

During the previous clueless, incompetent and irresponsible backdoor governments of Mahiaddin Yassin and Ismail Sabri, EPF members were allowed – even encouraged – to withdraw not once, not twice but four times during the Covid-19 pandemic. The four special withdrawals had depleted a total of RM145 billion in retirement savings, affecting mostly M40 and B40 workers.

Amusingly, the backdoor prime ministers shamelessly claimed that the four EPF withdrawals – from i-Lestari to i-Citra – were government financial aid. Even during “i-Lestari” Account 2 Withdrawal Scheme, it was revealed that some EPF members had already exhausted their Account 2 after just two months – that’s only RM1,000. The bottom 10% of EPF members had only an average of RM319 in their Account 2.

Yet, then-backdoor PM Muhyiddin was already studying new suggestions from half-past-six politicians to allow EPF members to withdraw more money from their Account 1 (an account specifically for retirement). Politicians, including former PM Najib Razak (the world’s biggest crook), too had pushed the government to allow people in need of cash to drain their savings cookie jar in EPF.

The Muhyiddin government – cleverly but irresponsibly – opened the floodgate of EPF withdrawals to rescue a sagging economy, which it had no idea how to fix, when the retirement funds should be safeguarded at all cost to ensure retirees have sufficient funds to survive through their golden years. But the treachery government did not care, largely because the people were too hungry for cash.

For the 71% of EPF contributors who had savings of less than RM50,000, let alone the 30% of EPF members who had less than RM5,000 in their retirement accounts, how much money would be left if they are allowed to withdraw up to RM10,000 from their Account 1? Instead of government helping the people, it was the people who had to use their hard-earned savings to help the government.

In the subsequent “i-Sinar” Account 1 Withdrawal Scheme, former Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz admitted that 42% of EPF members had less than RM5,000 in Account 1. When EPF contributors were allowed to withdraw up to RM5,000, or RM1,000 a month for five months under i-Citra, a total of RM101 billion would have been disbursed to over 7.4 million members.

Worse, the i-Lestari, i-Sinar, and i-Citra had burned such a big hole in the EPF members’ retirement savings that 6.1 million members were left with less than RM10,000 in their EPF accounts. A total of 3.6 million members have less than RM1,000. It was so bad that EPF was worried that Bumiputera members, the so-called “sons of the soil”, accounted for 78% of the withdrawal applicants.

By end of 2021, a whopping 4.4 million or 54% of Bumiputera members had less than RM10,000, and 2 million (25%) had less than RM1,000 in their EPF account. Thanks to the multiple withdrawals, 73% of members were plunged into a deplorable state – having insufficient funds to retire above the poverty line. Only 27% EPF members could meet the “RM240,000 Basic Savings” at age 55.

The best part was most of those withdrawals were not used to make ends meet, nor to put food on the table. Getting a brand new car, renovating houses, upgrading new iPhone, buying new furniture and bigger TV, purchasing PS4 or Microsoft Xbox game console was how EPF members misused the facilities. That’s why even during Covid lockdown, total vehicle sales skyrocketed to 529,514 (2020) and 508,911 (2021) units.

By end of 2023, about two years later, the issue of insufficient savings in the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) continued. The number of members with less than RM10,000 in their EPF accounts increased to 6.3 million from 6.1 million (end of 2021). Essentially, these workers would have a retirement income of less than RM42 per month for the next 20 years.

So, despite a change of government, the Anwar Madanistan administration too could not resist the temptation of taking the shortcut to popularity. It was only in May 2023 that the 10th Prime Minister declared – and lied – that he will not be pressured to allow more EPF withdrawals. The finance minister said it was the right decision, even though it was unpopular.

However, he made a spectacular U-turn in just a year later, creating a special ATM machine disguised as Account 3 this month – largely because Malays or Bumiputeras have started complaining and comparing between Mahiaddin’s popular move of allowing withdrawals and Anwar’s refusal to allow withdrawals. Desperate to win Malay votes, the PM is helping the Malays to dig a bigger hole to retirement poverty.

Based on the past experience, EPF can bet its last penny that withdrawals would be made to satisfy non-urgent desires such as buying gadgets, decorating houses, buying a car or just to keep up with the latest fashion trends. With Account 3 permanently set up, it is expected that contributors may get addicted to make frequent withdrawals, which EPF itself estimates to be RM5 billion yearly.

Like it or not, it’s an admission that the economy is still in a bad shape, and Prime Minister Anwar, just like his predecessors, is relying on such EPF withdrawals to pump fresh money into the market to boost the economy. The government doesn’t care if the contributors would suffer in the long-term when they retire, nor does it care about inflation triggered by a flood of hot money.

Saddled with RM1.5 trillion national debts, Malaysia is running out of money due to corruption, leakages and excessive religious politics – spooking foreign investors, who have better options in the region such as Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia or even Cambodia. The government has already begun cutting on fuel subsidy, starting with diesel to be followed with RON-95 petrol later.

To be fair, the extraordinarily long queues in Sabah and Sarawak to withdraw from the new flexible account suggests that thousands of hardcore poor households in the Borneo states would benefit from Account 3. To them, even a minimum withdrawal amount of RM50 could mean a difference between going to bed on an empty stomach or with food. At the same time, however, it also shows the government has done very little to eradicate poverty there.

Nevertheless, with EPF contributors fast draining their own retirement savings, they would need the government’s assistance during the old age due to obvious reason. They would also not be able to support themselves when they suffer a major illness. This could create new crises in the future, which requires the government to spend more money on social security and healthcare.

Israeli journalist describes threats over reporting on spy chief and ICC



Benjamin Netanyahu with Yossi Cohen, whose alleged attempts to influence Fatou Bensouda were being investigated by the Haaretz journalist Gur Megiddo. Photograph: Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli journalist describes threats over reporting on spy chief and ICC

Haaretz journalist was warned of ‘consequences’ if he reported on attempts by Mossad chief to intimidate ex-prosecutor

An investigative reporter with Israel’s leading leftwing newspaper, Haaretz, has said unnamed senior security officials threatened actions against him if he reported on attempts by the former head of the Mossad to intimidate the ex-prosecutor of the international criminal court.

Amid growing concern over Israel’s censorship regime, enforced by the military censor’s office and by gag orders issued by the courts, Haaretz published an article on Wednesday with blacked out words and sentences to demonstrate the scale of redactions.

In an article published on Thursday, the investigative reporter Gur Megiddo described how two years ago security officials blocked an attempt by the paper to report efforts by the then Mossad chief, Yossi Cohen, to threaten the then ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda. Details of the operation to influence Bensouda were revealed this week by the Guardian.

A wider investigation with the Israeli-based magazines +972 and Local Call revealed how Israel has used its intelligence agencies to surveil, hack, pressure, smear and allegedly threaten senior staff at the international criminal court to try to derail its inquiries relating to Palestine.

Megiddo described how he had been summoned to meet two officials and threatened with serious consequences after they became aware he had tried to telephone Bensouda to discuss Cohen’s efforts to influence her.

Megiddo had been investigating what the Mossad chief had been doing during three trips he made to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in which he reportedly enlisted the help of the Congolese president, Joseph Kabila, to assist with efforts to pressure Bensouda.

“At the beginning of 2022, I attempted to contact the former prosecutor through a third party who knew her,” Megiddo wrote. “Bensouda never responded to the approach, but days after the attempt, when I wanted to publish the story, my phone rang and on the other end of the line was the voice of a senior security official. ‘Can you come to see me tomorrow?’ he asked.

“At the entrance to the senior official’s office, I was asked to deposit my mobile phone to prevent me from recording the conversation. In the room, another senior official from a different security agency was waiting for me. The conversation began with the words, ‘We understand you know about the prosecutor.’”

Megiddo said it was “explained that if I published the story I would suffer the consequences and get to know the interrogation rooms of the Israeli security authorities from the inside”.

“In the end, it was made clear to me that even sharing the information ‘with my friends abroad’, referring to foreign media outlets, would lead to the same results.”

Megiddo’s account corroborates key details of the allegations made public this week: that Cohen was tasked with attempting to intimidate and threaten Bensouda, and that Cohen received support from Kabila. Cohen and Kabila have not responded to the Guardian’s requests for comment.

“I took the threats very seriously,” Megiddo told the Guardian on Thursday. “Sometimes officials can be quite heavy handed but as a rule there have been no consequences if you bypass these requests.

“In this case it was made clear they would enforce real penalties. It was highly unusual.”

Separately, Haaretz published an article subject to a court gag order, with large sections of the text blacked out, relating to the detention without trial of Bassem Tamimi, a well-known Palestinian activist in the West Bank.

Screengrab of the heavily redacted Haaretz article. Photograph: Haaretz

Concern about press freedoms in Israel has been growing in recent weeks. On 5 May authorities shut down the local offices of Al Jazeera, hours after a government vote to use new laws to close the satellite news network’s operations in the country. Last week, equipment belonging to the Associated Press was briefly seized, prompting an intervention from the White House.

Anat Saragusti, the press freedom director for the Union of Journalists in Israel, told Canada’s CBC News this week: “The extreme rightwing government of Israel, from the beginning of its term … put the freedom of [the] press as a target.”

Under Israeli law, journalists working in Israel or for an Israeli publication are required to submit articles dealing with “security issues” to the military censor for review prior to publication, in line with “emergency regulations” enacted after Israel’s founding that have remained in place since. The regulations allow the censor to fully or partially redact articles submitted to it.

According to figures acquired under a freedom of information request submitted by +972 magazine and the Movement for Freedom of Information in Israel, in 2023 the military censor barred the publication of 613 articles – a record annual number since +972 began collecting data in 2011.

The censor also redacted parts of a further 2,703 articles, representing the highest figure since 2014. In all, the military prevented information from being made public an average of nine times a day.

Haggai Matar, the executive director of +972, said: “What we’ve seen, even before October 7 and the Gaza war began, is that this is an Israeli government that is hostile to journalism.

“The background is that we have a prime minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] who is indicted under several accusations, a number of which are about controlling the media. [He denies wrongdoing in all the cases against him.] We have a minister of communications [Shlomo Karhi] who sees it as his role to fight the free press, and politicians trying to pass bills restricting the media entourage.

“Their main concern is to influence what the Israeli public sees.”

After Trump guilty verdict, US divisions deepen as Russia extends sympathy


al Jazeera:

After Trump guilty verdict, US divisions deepen as Russia extends sympathy

While Democrats rejoice and Republicans agonise, international reactions on the historic guilty verdict pour in.

Former US President Donald Trump has been found guilty of falsifying business records to cover up a hush-money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, making him the first convicted ex-US leader.

News of Thursday’s verdict reverberated in the corridors of power in Washington, DC, political trenches across the United States, and capitals around the world.

The drama is playing out five months before the pivotal November presidential elections, which Trump hopes to win.

Here are some reactions to the verdict:

‘No one is above the law’

  • In a statement posted on X, US President Joe Biden wrote: “There’s only one way to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office: At the ballot box.”
  • Speaking at a public event, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom Trump defeated in 2016, joked, “Anything going on today?”
  • Charles Schumer, the Democratic leader of the US Senate, said the verdict “speaks for itself”, stressing, “No one is above the law.”
  • Adam Schiff, a California congressman and one of the impeachment prosecutors of Trump, said that while justice prevailed, the verdict “will only increase Donald Trump’s attempts to discredit the justice system and tear down our democracy … it is up to us to make sure it continues to prevail.”

‘A defeat for Americans’

Meanwhile, Trump’s Republican Party mates reacted with fury; they questioned the legitimacy of the trial and how it was conducted.

  • US House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican ally of Trump, said it was a “shameful day in American history” and the charges were “purely political”.
  • Louisiana Representative Steve Scalise, the No 2 House Republican, said that the decision was “a defeat for Americans who believe in the critical legal tenet that justice is blind”.
  • Ohio Senator JD Vance, whom Trump backed during the last campaign, condemned the decision as a “disgrace to the judicial system”.
  • South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s most frequent allies, said, “This verdict says more about the system than the allegations.”
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has long had a tense relationship with Trump but recently endorsed his 2024 campaign, refrained from attacking the judge or jury. But he said the charges “never should have been brought in the first place”, adding that he expects the conviction “to be overturned on appeal”.
  • Former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan took different approach, calling on the public ahead of the verdict to “respect the verdict and the legal process”. Hogan, who is running for Senate in a Democrat-leaning state said, “At this dangerously divided moment in our history, all leaders – regardless of party – must not pour fuel on the fire with more toxic partisanship.”
  • Adam Kinzinger, a former Republican congressman and one of the few Republican critics of Trump, said that “justice was done”. He added, “The GOP (Republicans) is about to have a frontrunner, or a nominee, who cannot vote for himself, who would be immediately discharged from the military in less than honourable conditions, who cannot own a firearm.”

Video Duration 02 minutes 40 seconds

‘Important day for accountability’

  • As Trump’s trial ended, his former close aide, Michael Cohen, one of the witnesses for the prosecution, told The Daily Beast that Thursday’s verdict “is an important day for accountability and the rule of law”. He added. “While it has been a difficult journey for me and my family, the truth always matters.”
  • Ronan Farrow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, who investigated the “catch and kill” scheme of covering up news reports critical of famous personalities, said the verdict reaffirms “how important the press is to our democracy”.
  • In an interview with CNN, Mary L Trump, a Trump critic and the niece of the former president, said that Trump “is probably doing his best not to think about anything” after the verdict. “But I think even he cannot deny, as much as he’d like to, that today he was convicted on 34 felony counts. That he is indeed a convicted felon.” She warned that the US should brace for another “alternate reality” that Trump would create to protect himself from an “unquestionably devastating loss”.

Outside the New York courtroom where Trump’s case was heard, supporters and critics also exchanged sharp and emotionally charged reactions.

  • Matthew Turner, a New York resident and Trump supporter said, “I think it’s going to make him more popular with the American people because they’re seeing how he’s being targeted and mistreated.” He said that Trump is being targeted “because he’s about to be president again”.
  • John McGuigan, another Trump supporter, said he was “outraged”, adding: “They convicted an innocent man today. Meanwhile, rapists and murderers are running around the streets of New York.”
  • Vivica Jimenez, who was among a group of anti-Trump protesters at the court, was “happy and relieved”. She said: “It’s been a long time waiting for this. It’s very emotional.”
  • Jamie Bauer, another anti-Trump protester, felt that “justice” was being served and said Trump is “being held accountable”.
A person holds a mask while impersonating Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump outside the Manhattan criminal court following the announcement of the verdict in Trump's criminal trial over charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, in New York City, U.S. May 30, 2024. REUTERS/Cheney Orr
A person holds a mask of former US President Donald Trump outside the Manhattan criminal court following the announcement of the guilty verdict in Trump’s criminal trial [Cheney Orr/Reuters]

‘Solidarity’ from Italy, sympathy from Russia and Hungary

Beyond the US, international political leaders were beginning to react. The guilty verdict does not affect Trump’s bid to return to the Oval Office.

  • In a post on X, Matteo Salvini, Italy’s far-right deputy prime minister and head of the League Party, expressed his “solidarity and full support” for Trump, calling him “a victim of judicial harassment and a process of political nature”. He added: “I hope Trump wins; it would be a guarantee of greater balance and hope for world peace.”
  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, “The fact that a de facto elimination of political rivals by all possible legal and illegal means is going on there is obvious.”

  • “I’ve known President @realDonaldTrump to be a man of honour,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban posted on X. “As President, he always put America first, he commanded respect around the world and used this respect to build peace. Let the people make their verdict this November! Keep on fighting, Mr. President!”

  • Yoshimasa Hayashi, chief cabinet secretary of the Japanese government, refused to comment directly, but said Tokyo was “closely monitoring related developments”.
  • Mel Stride, the United Kingdom’s work and pensions secretary, told Sky News: “As a government cabinet minister, there is a long-held convention that we don’t interfere in elections overseas, so I really can’t comment on that particular question, in the same way we wouldn’t expect American politicians to start throwing comments in about our general election.” He added, “They are clearly dramatic, very dramatic turn of events and let’s wait to see what happens, but ultimately the choice will be for the American people … in November.”