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Trump Found Guilty

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Matt Allen
A passion for helping the average person led Matt to start his newsletter, The Common Capitalist, which is a newsletter that focuses on helping the average investor better understand finance.
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Trump Found Guilty

Good Morning Everyone!

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Here’s five things you need to know this week in <5 minutes:

  1. Congressman Faces Criminal Charges

  2. Trump found Guilty

  3. Justice Dept Probes Short Sellers 

  4. DeSantis Spurned by Top Donor

  5. Erdogan Set to Cling to Power in Turkey

  1. Congressman Faces Criminal Charges

Former Drag Queen George Santos has been indicted on federal charges of fraud. The Congressman, who was elected as part of the new Republican intake in last November’s midterms, has been caught in a comic-book-worthy assortment of lies and schemes, including setting up a fake pet charity, pretending to have been a volleyball star, and inventing a non-existence ancestor who he claimed had died in the Holocaust.

On Wednesday, a New York federal court charged Santos with seven counts of wire fraud, three of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, two counts of making false statements to the House of Representatives. The charges relate to an allegedly fraudulent company that embezzled funds earmarked for his election campaign towards car payments and expensive clothes, and to claiming Covid unemployment benefits while drawing a salary from Harbor City Capital (which had previously been described as a ponzi scheme). 

Santos has pleaded not guilty and claimed that he is a target of a witch hunt (as if George Santos is important enough for the White House to bother persecuting). 

Two days later, Santos pleaded guilty in Brazilian court to accusations that he used a stolen cheque to buy expensive trainers in the city of NiterĂłi fifteen years ago. The case had been suspended because Brazilian authorities had no way of tracking Santos, but was reopened after he turned up on Capitol Hill.

OUR TAKE: The Republican party has attempted to distance itself from Santos in recent months, and Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said that he will call on Santos to resign if found guilty. But that could jeopardize the GOP’s control of Congress, in which they currently have just a five vote edge over the Democrats. 

  1. Trump Found Guilty

A “witch hunt” federal court has found ex-President Donald Trump liable for sexual assault and defamation against writer E. Jean Carroll. Her civil lawsuit accused Trump of touching her in the dressing room of a Fifth Avenue department store during the 1990s, and then accusing her of making it up when she admitted the events publicly four years ago. 

The nine person jury, which included three women, deliberated for just three hours before finding Trump guilty of sexual abuse, forcible touching and defamation. Carroll will net $3 million in damages for defamation, and $2 million in other damages. But the good news for Trump is that he was found not guilty of rape.

OUR TAKE: In 2016, Trump boasted of grabbing women by their genitalia, so this outcome is hardly surprising, but equally unlikely to impact Trump’s appeal to the working man as far the Republican ballot goes. His campaign has already accused judge Lewis Kaplan of having a bias against Trump, and this ruling may if anything restore some of the outsider charm that propelled Trump to the White House before. 

  1. Justice Dept Probes Short Sellers

Over the past few months, as a domino-chain of major U.S banks collapsed into insolvency, the only people celebrating have been short sellers, who netted billions of dollars by betting on drops in the price of banking shares. 

Now, the Justice Department has declared an investigation into short selling surrounding the banking crisis. Although JP Morgan Chase boss Jamie Dimon, who owns a half a billion dollar stake in JPMC, recently called for a ban on short selling bank stocks (not that he could have any vested interest for saying that), short selling any kind of stock on the open market remains completely legal (and some think, even necessary for efficient market function). 

One insider said that the investigation was standard procedure after such a chaotic month on the stock market, and it seems unlikely that any criminal charges will be brought unless there’s clear evidence of conspiracy to manipulate markets. 

OUR TAKE: Regional banks played fast and loose with customers’ money and didn’t bother managing their market risk, but of course, it’s short sellers that are to blame.

  1. DeSantis Spurned by Top Donor

Blackstone founder and Republican megadonor Steve Schwarzman has met with presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis, and come away unimpressed. DeSantis has billed himself as “Trump without the drama,” but despite his strong tenure as Florida governor, top Republican kingmakers are starting to doubt whether he’s sharp enough to withstand Trump’s personal and professional attacks and win over moderate and/or college educated voters. 

Schwarzman joins California’s tech billionaire and eminence grise Peter Thiel in declining to announce support or funding of any of the Republican primary candidates. DeSantis is expected to launch his campaign in June in his hometown of Dunedin, Florida – only confirming suspicions that he doesn’t feel comfortable on the national stage. 

OUR TAKE: Donald Trump has come through scandal after scandal completely unscathed and looks set to crush the Republican opposition. Meanwhile, on the face of things, DeSantis has had a relatively clean few months (bar an ongoing spat with Disney) and yet his supporter base has crumbled. Such are the caprices of politics.

  1. Erdogan Set to Cling to Power in Turkey

Tayyip Erdogan – who infamously thought that lowering interest rates would help to cool Turkey’s hyperinflation – looks set to continue his two-decade long presidency, according to exit polls from last weekend’s presidential election. 

With 9.1% of ballot boxes counted, Erdogan holds 59.47% of the votes, against 34.79% for his rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu. 

Kilicdaroglu had promised to undo most of Erdogan’s policies, and had led the incumbent in pre-election polls. 

OUR TAKE: Turkey has an $800 billion economy, but Erdogan has done it no favors. Kilicdaroglu might have pushed Turkey further towards NATO and Europe, and in more explicit opposition to Erdogan’s chum Vladimir Putin. 

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