Donald Trump used to promise his supporters that they would be winning so much, they would get sick and tired of winning. But the former US president is now on a seemingly endless losing streak.
He lost the presidential election, lost more than 60 legal challenges to the result, lost his bid to overturn the electoral college, lost control of the Senate and lost an impeachment trial 43-57, though he was spared conviction on a technicality. On Monday, Trump lost yet again – with potentially far-reaching consequences.
The supreme court rejected an attempt by his lawyers to block Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan district attorney (DA) in New York, from enforcing a subpoena to obtain eight years of his personal and corporate tax records.
The ruling did not mean the public will get to see Trump’s tax returns, which have gained near mythical status due to him being the first recent president to conceal them, any time soon.
But it did remove an important obstacle from Vance’s dogged investigation. The DA has said little about why he wants Trump’s records but, in a court filing last year, prosecutors said they were justified in seeking them because of public reports of “possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization” – Trump’s family business empire – thought to include bank, tax and insurance fraud.
Now that investigation is gathering momentum. Vance, who earlier this month hired a lawyer with extensive experience in white-collar and organised crime cases, will be able to find out whether the public reports were accurate by studying actual financial records, spreadsheets and email correspondence between the Trump Organization and accounting firm Mazars USA.
If wrongdoing is established, it raises the spectre of Trump some day in the future standing in the dock in a New York courtroom and even facing a potential prison term. No wonder he fought so hard to cling to power and the immunity from prosecution that it conferred.
The threat, however real or remote, casts a shadow over Trump’s chances of making a political comeback. On Sunday he is due to make his first speech since leaving office at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, reasserting his command of the Republican party and teasing a new run for president in 2024.
Read more of David Smith’s analysis here: Ruling on Trump tax records could be costliest defeat of his losing streak
With the US having reached the grim total of over 500,000 Covid deaths, Sam Levin in Los Angeles reports for us on issues with the vaccine roll-out:
California, the largest state in the US, has administered more than 7.3m vaccine doses but is lagging behind other states in vaccine administration. Eligibility is due to dramatically expand in March, but with supplies limited and many doses being used for second shots, essential workers could likely be waiting weeks or longer to get appointments.
The lack of access is particularly frustrating for workers who have faced increasing risks over the last month, as California has moved to reopen parts of the economy and remove restrictions. While infection rates are significantly improving after a catastrophic winter surge, an average of more than 6,000 new cases and 320 deaths are still reported each day.
Facing severe economic strain eleven months into the pandemic, low-wage workers across the state say they can’t afford to stay home from dangerous jobs – and can’t afford to lose income if they get infected. They are exhausted with stressful work conditions and customers who refuse to comply with Covid rules, and are struggling to get basic information on when they might get vaccines.
Dominique Smith, a 33-year-old rideshare driver in Silicon Valley, said he regularly checked his Uber app in hope of an update about vaccine eligibility. He fears he could lose his housing if he contracts Covid from a passenger and then has to stay home: “I do not have enough money saved up to weather three weeks of being sick and out of a job.”
Dr Yvonne Maldonado, a professor of global health and infectious diseases at Stanford, said the Trump administration had not made significant investments in infrastructure to administer vaccines, making the initial rollout especially challenging in a state like California, which has 58 counties and two dense metropolitan regions.
The state has broad guidelines to prioritize immunocompromised people and those with occupational risks, “but the problem is that it’s such a high-level framework that how you operationalize it becomes really tricky”, Maldonado said. “These are tough choices … because you’re judging whose life is worth more. You could make an argument for all kinds of groups.”
Read more of Sam Levin’s report here: ‘We’re risking our lives’ – California’s slow vaccine rollout leaves essential workers exposed