Democrats get go-ahead to probe president’s finances in lawsuit

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump lost a bid to halt a lawsuit brought by 201 congressional Democrats who want a Washington federal court to require that the president seek approval from lawmakers before he accepts any financial benefits from foreign governments.

In a pair of orders issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan denied Trump’s request to halt the lawsuit so he could immediately appeal Sullivan’s earlier refusals to dismiss the case. The decision means the 2017 lawsuit led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut can proceed.

In a separate order, the judge said lawmakers can begin collecting evidence to support their claims on June 28, but must wrap up that process by Sept. 27.

The legislators assert Trump’s receipt of benefits through his far-flung business holdings — including his luxury hotel just blocks from the White House — violates a U.S. constitutional provision barring American presidents from accepting so-called emoluments from foreign governments without the prior permission of Congress. The Democrats previously told the court they want to look at the president’s finances and revenue sources.

The president’s lawyers say money flows into his businesses legally. The judge has not yet made a final determination on that issue.

Noting the lawmakers told him they can quickly gather evidence and that both sides say final briefs can be submitted within six months, Sullivan ruled that Trump’s lawyers hadn’t met their burden of showing a mid-case appeal would significantly speed up resolution of the case.

— Bloomberg News

Airman charged with killing kids and their mother in Staten Island was previously ordered to stay away from them

NEW YORK — A Staten Island airman accused of murdering two toddlers and their mother was ordered to stay away from them by a judge earlier this year, it was revealed in court Tuesday.

Shane Walker is being held in the Saturday slayings of fellow Air Force member Alla Ausheva and their two children, 2-year-old Ivan and 3-year-old Elia.

Walker, 36, was remanded on murder and manslaughter charges in Richmond County Criminal court Tuesday.

He allegedly killed Ausheva and drowned his children in a tub before setting a small fire in the home on Paradise Street in Arrochar on Saturday morning. All three bodies were left in a bedroom, where firefighters found them at 10:30 a.m., cops said.

Walker was spotted wandering the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Brooklyn 2 { hours after the crime was discovered, police said and told detectives, “I put the knife in the drawer,” court papers said.

He was to Maimonides Hospital and later attacked two cops who tried to take him to court, authorities said.

The serviceman was told to keep away from “and refrain from assaulting” his two children and an order of protection was issued by a Staten Island Family Court judge after an abuse allegation was made several months ago, according to a criminal court complaint.

Walker and Ausheva were assigned to Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, police sources said.

Ausheva, 36, made headlines in 2012 when she and 24 other military members were sworn in as U.S citizens at the White House.

The Russian-born woman moved to Queens in the summer of 2011 and joined the New York Army National Guard three months later, where she served as a maintenance technician.

— N.Y. Daily News

Sister charged with stabbing her identical twin to death in New Jersey apartment

NEW YORK — An identical twin has been charged with stabbing her own sister to death inside an apartment in New Jersey.

The Camden County Prosecutor’s office on Monday announced Amanda Ramirez was charged with first-degree aggravated manslaughter in the slaying of her 27-year-old twin sister, Anna Ramirez, over the weekend.

Police responded around 5:30 a.m. Saturday to reports of an unconscious person at the Centennial Village Apartments Complex in Camden, where they discovered Anna lying on the ground, bloody and injured. She was reportedly suffering from a stab wound to the chest.

The 27-year-old was rushed to Cooper University Hospital and pronounced dead less than an hour later.

Her twin, Amanda Ramirez, was arrested the same day and hit with a felony count, though officials only just revealed the charge on Monday. She’s being held at the Camden County Correctional Facility pending a pretrial detention hearing, prosecutors said.

Authorities have not revealed many details in the case, including a motive in the deadly stabbing.

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

— N.Y. Daily News

Top Brazilian court rejects Lula’s request for release from prison

BOGOTA, Colombia — Brazil’s top court on Tuesday rejected a request to release former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva following allegations that a judge cooperated with prosecutors to jail him on corruption charges.

Lula’s lawyers had requested his release and the cancellation of his verdict following the accusations against former judge Sergio Moro, who is currently defense minister.

The Supreme Federal Court did not yet start discussing the allegations themselves, but one of the judges proposed that it release Lula temporarily until the lawyers’ request is decided on.

The court rejected the proposal with 3 votes to 2.

Lula, 73, started serving a 12-year prison sentence in April 2018 after being found guilty of corruption and money-laundering in connection with the renovation of a beachside penthouse he was planning to buy.

An appeals court later reduced the sentence to 8 years and 10 months.

Lula’s lawyers asked the Supreme Federal Court to order his release following allegations that Moro violated the rules of impartiality while working as a judge and handling the case.

Text messages attributed to Moro and prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol show that the then-judge “offered strategic advice to prosecutors and passed on tips for new avenues of investigation,” according to the website The Intercept Brasil, which made them public.

The Supreme Federal Court on Tuesday also rejected a second request for Lula’s release, which objected to an earlier decision by one of its judges to deny an appeal lodged by the ex-president’s defense.

Lula’s imprisonment prevented him from contesting last year’s presidential elections, which he had been expected to win, and opened the way for far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who was sworn in as president on Jan. 1.

Bolsonaro made Moro his justice minister. Moro denies improper conduct during the corruption investigation.

The corruption charges against Lula are linked to the massive Lava Jato graft scandal surrounding the state oil company Petrobras, in which dozens of entrepreneurs and politicians have been implicated.

— dpa