Interest rate expectations torn up across the City into Bank of England meeting

Simon Hunt and Michael Hunter

Mon, 20 March 2023 at 1:46 pm GMT

 A canter not a gallop for further rate rises at the Bank of England  is now expected, with odds shortening that the race higher may even be halted (John Walton/PA) (PA Wire)
A canter not a gallop for further rate rises at the Bank of England is now expected, with odds shortening that the race higher may even be halted (John Walton/PA) (PA Wire)

City analysts have begun a major about-turn on their expectations of central bank interest rate rises following the shockwaves rippling through the financial markets amid the rescue takeover of Credit Suisse.

Over 50% of investors now expect the Bank of England to swerve a further interest rate rise when members of its Monetary Policy Committee meet later this week, according to a Refinitiv poll – a huge jump from the roughly 10% who shared that view at the beginning of the month. Over 60% expect the US Federal Reserve to keep rates flat too.

Amit Patel, adviser at Welling-based mortgage broker at Trinity Finance, said: “The Bank of England must now vote to leave rates on hold or vote to decrease the base rate following the announcement that UBS will be buying Credit Suisse.

“We need financial stability in the UK now more than ever and I think if they were to raise rates then this will catastrophically backfire.”

Just two of the Bank’s nine Monetary Policy Committee members voted against an interest rate rise when it last met in February.

Other experts predict that rates will go up this week, but not by as much as the 0.50% previously expected.

James Smith, developed markets economist at Dutch bank ING said: “We’re still narrowly leaning towards a hike this week, though clearly, a lot can change in the days leading up to the meeting.

“We think the Bank of England will probably opt for one final 0.50% hike on Thursday.”

The decision will be announced at noon in London and will affect the rate paid by householders with variable rate mortgages across London and the UK.


Google Suspends Pinduoduo After Finding Malware in Versions

Sarah Zheng and Vlad Savov

Tue, 21 March 2023 at 3:22 am GMT

(Bloomberg) — Google has suspended PDD Holdings Inc.’s main Chinese shopping app Pinduoduo after discovering malware in versions of the software not carried on its Play Store, dealing a blow to one of the country’s biggest online retailers.

The Mountain View-based company said on Tuesday it has found versions of the app, offering PDD Holdings Inc.’s flagship e-commerce service, to contain malware. As a security precaution, it has suspended the app from the Play Store, a company spokesperson said, while it carries out an investigation. Google didn’t mention Temu, PDD’s popular shopping app in the US, in its statement. Temu is still available to download.

“Google Play Protect enforcement has been set to block installation attempts of these identified malicious apps,” a Google spokesperson said. “Users that have malicious versions of the app downloaded to their devices are warned and prompted to uninstall the app.”

The move comes in the wake of earlier reports by Chinese cybersecurity researchers pointing to a major Chinese app incorporating malicious code that helped it track users’ information and activity, including across other apps.

PDD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

House Republicans Demand Answers From Manhattan DA Over Trump Case

Emily Wilkins and Billy House

Tue, 21 March 2023 at 1:21 am GMT

(Bloomberg) — Republican leaders on Monday demanded that the Manhattan district attorney sit for an interview and provide documents as they began an investigation into his prosecution of Donald Trump over hush payments to an adult film star.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan and two other committee chairmen sent a letter to Alvin Bragg asking about the use of federal funds to build his case against Trump, which Jordan called politically motivated, by Thursday.

“We’ll find out,” Jordan told Bloomberg News of Bragg’s use of federal dollars, following reports that he plans to indict Trump soon in relation to the payments made to Stormy Daniels.

Separately, some Republicans — including Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House GOP Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik — sent out campaign committee donor appeals seeking to raise funds off of the possibility Trump could be arrested, both urging supporters to stand with Trump.

Democrats later accused Jordan and other Republicans of an unprecedented abuse of the congressional powers to interfere with a criminal investigation by sending Bragg their letter seeking his testimony and documents.

“Former President Donald Trump demanded this nonsensical interference over the weekend, and these committee chairs have acted totally outside their proper powers to try to influence a pending criminal investigation at the state level,” Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Oversight and Accountability Committee, said in a statement.

Bragg is a locally elected official, but congressional Republicans say the potential use of federal funds for his inquiry gives them authority to investigate. Bragg’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As part of his Judiciary chairman duties, Jordan has been heading the House GOP’s new subcommittee on the “weaponization” of government. He is among the Republicans gathered with McCarthy in Orlando, Florida, for a House retreat.

“Your decision to pursue such a politically motivated prosecution — while adopting progressive criminal justice policies that allow career ‘criminals [to] run the streets’ of Manhattan — requires congressional scrutiny about how public safety funds appropriated by Congress are implemented by local law- enforcement agencies,” Jordan wrote. House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer of Kentucky and House Administration Chairman Bryan Steil of Wisconsin also signed the letter.

McCarthy said in a tweet Saturday that, “I’m directing relevant committees to immediately investigate if federal funds are being used to subvert our democracy by interfering in elections with politically motivated prosecutions.” McCarthy reiterated his position on Sunday, saying Bragg is abusing his power.

Neither Jordan nor his aides offered more details of the probe or outlined what they expect to do if they find the Manhattan DA’s office has received federal funding. But Jordan said he believed it is clear that Bragg acting based on presidential politics.

“First it’s Russia, then it’s his taxes, it’s his business, then it’s his kids,” Jordan said in an interview with Bloomberg. “And what’s changed? He’s announced he’s running for president. That’s what’s changed. That’s why these guys are coming up with a sham case.”

Jordan also repeated a GOP theme that Bragg “has record crime in his district. You’ve got a district attorney that downgrades most of his cases to misdemeanor cases.”

Bragg has told his staff his office “will not tolerate” attempts to intimate or threaten the rule of law in New York, according to published reports.

Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Updates with House Republicans, Democrats, starting in fourth paragraph.)

Bragg wrestling with whether to allow Trump to avoid ‘perp walk’

City officials acknowledged that the normal rules may not apply to the former president.

Michael Isikoff

·Chief Investigative Correspondent

Tue, 21 March 2023 at 1:29 am GMT

Former President Donald Trump looks pensive, with supporters in the stands behind him.
Former President Donald Trump greets fans at the finals of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Tulsa, Okla., on March 18. (Brett Rojo/USA TodaySports via Reuters)

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office is wrestling with whether to enforce standard procedures for Donald Trump — including handcuffing him and forcing him to undergo a humiliating “perp walk” — if he is indicted this week on charges that he paid off a porn star to keep silent about an alleged sexual affair, according to a source directly familiar with discussions about the issue.

The questions about how to treat Trump, if, as many expect, he becomes a criminal defendant in coming days, has emerged as a central issue in the ongoing negotiations between Bragg’s office and city and federal law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Secret Service, which is charged with protecting the safety of former presidents.

It has long been standard protocol for white-collar defendants charged with felony crimes in New York City that they are brought into a courthouse in lower Manhattan for processing. Once there, defendants are held in a jail cell, while authorities begin the process of fingerprinting them, taking their mug shots, and then escorting them, almost always in handcuffs, down a hallway on another floor to a courtroom in full view of cameras and the media — the proverbial “perp walk.”

A female police officer lifts a section of barricade across a crosswalk, with a park in the background.
Police officers set up barricades outside Manhattan criminal court as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg continues his investigation into former President Donald Trump, in New York City on March 20. (David Dee Delgado/Reuters)

But city officials acknowledge that the normal rules may not apply to Trump. The purported purpose of jailing and then handcuffing the defendants is to prevent them from fleeing, a scenario that would be highly unlikely, if not impossible, for someone as well-known as Trump.

“This is not normal,” said the source familiar with the ongoing negotiations. “This is somebody who has a protective detail.” The Secret Service, the source added, has a “great argument” that it would be literally impossible for Trump to flee the scene inside a New York City courthouse, when he will be surrounded by federal agents.

On the other hand, Bragg and the prosecutors in his office have made it clear they intend to treat Trump as they would any other defendant. So ultimately, the source said, it will be Bragg’s decision whether he wants to play hardball and force Trump to undergo standard procedures, or to make special accommodations for an individual who would be the first former president of the United States to be charged with criminal conduct.

On Monday, at the request of Trump’s lawyers, Robert Costello — a lawyer who once represented Trump’s chief accuser, Michael Cohen — spent several hours before the grand jury challenging aspects of his former client’s account of paying $130,000 to the porn star Stormy Daniels in the closing weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign, to keep her from talking about an alleged one-night sexual fling 10 years earlier.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg talks to the media.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg addresses the media after leaving the courtroom at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse on Dec. 6, 2022. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

Although they had Cohen on standby as a potential rebuttal witness, Bragg’s prosecutors did not call on him — a possible indication that they didn’t feel Costello made any dent in their case.

As a result, the source said, the grand jury could vote to indict Trump this week, with the former president making an appearance for booking and his arraignment in New York either on Thursday or Friday. The source added, however, that in view of the complicated logistics, the indictment and arraignment could “slip” to next week.

In the meantime, the source said, New York City police are ramping up security, amid heightened concerns in light of Trump’s call for his supporters to “protest” any indictment.

Among the security measures, the source said, plainclothes detectives in New York City have been told to wear their uniforms all week, in case they are urgently needed should any protests get out of control.

Mugshot, fingerprints, handcuffs? What is the process for indicting Donald Trump on criminal charges

Mugshot, fingerprints, handcuffs? What is the process for indicting Donald Trump on criminal charges

John Bowden

Tue, 21 March 2023 at 1:34 am GMT

The looming criminal indictment now widely expectecd to be coming down on Donald Trump’s shoulders has left many, including seasoned legal experts and journalists who have followed the justice system for years wondering exactly what to expect when it actually happens.

Sources close to the investigation told Politico on Monday that an indictment could be coming as soon as later that day; a possibility that led to law enforcement officials erecting barricades outside of the Manhattan courthouse where Mr Trump’s arraignment would occur.

Several questions remain about the step-by-step process for criminally indicting a former president, including the logistics of actually carrying out the task of bringing Mr Trump to the courtroom. Some of the decisions are admittedly still up in the air: “We’ll be discussing how we bring Trump in,” one person involved in the planning told Politico on Monday, adding somewhat cryptically: “No decisions have been made yet.”

Many of those questions likely centre around how much of this process will be carried out in person, a time-consuming and complicated endeavour given Mr Trump’s ongoing Secret Service protection and status as an active candidate for the 2024 GOP nomination.

Let’s break down what we do know:

Will Donald Trump surrender, or fight extradition?

His lawyers have indicated that the former is the most likely outcome, should charges actually be handed down. There have been whisperings (and very public urgings from his supporters) in favour of the president doing the latter, but such an effort would likely be unsuccessful and merely add more public spectacle to the already-humiliating drama.

Will he be arrested?

Probably not, unless he were to fight his indictment and refuse to attend his arraignment. In most cases of white collar crime, defence counsel works it out with the DA’s office and the two parties schedule a time for the defendant to come in.

Will he be handcuffed?

Almost certainly not. The crime(s) for which he could be indicted are not considered violent offences, and the former president is hardely considered an escape risk. District Attorney Alvin Bragg has also reportedly been discussing the optics of handling Mr Trump’s arraignment, so don’t expect any attention-grabbing moves like slapping Mr Trump in cuffs.

What about fingerprints and a mug shot?

Yes, and yes. Those are standard parts of the booking procedure and will not be skipped just because of Mr Trump’s celebrity status.

Will he appear in person?

Great question. For the initial booking procedure, yes; that cannot be done remotely. What’s still under consideration is whether Mr Trump will have to be physically in attendance for his arraignment, which he has reportedly discussed as a favourable option, but it’s very possible that Mr Trump’s lawyers will push for the arraignment hearing to occur remotely.

Will he be forced to post bail?

Again, probably not. Should he be formally arraigned without conflict, a judge will likely release him on his own recognisance.

When will it happen?

Most likely Monday or Wednesday. Mr Trump’s prediction of Tuesday is unlikely, given that the grand jury is not scheduled to meet that day.

Fox Host Finally Admits It: ‘Woke’ Is Whatever You Want It to Be

Fox News
Fox News

What it means to be “woke” is in the eye of the right-wing beholder, Fox News host Dana Perino admitted Monday, just one week after a conservative author’s struggle to define the term on live TV went viral.

Perino was reacting to commentary from MSNBC host Jen Psaki on Sunday in which the former Biden White House press secretary said that the term — which conservatives on Fox News have hurled at topics as disparate as Xbox and Legos — is “simply not the boogeyman [Republicans] would have you believe.”

Perino began by likening the term’s fluid meaning to that of “political correctness,” citing the approval of audience members when Donald Trump criticized it during rallies in 2015 and 2016. “Everybody that was clapping knew exactly what he meant,” she said.

To be “woke” is “sort of like the Supreme Court definition of pornography: you know it when you see it,” Perino continued, referencing Justice Potter Stewart’s criteria for obscenity in the 1964 case Jacobellis v. Ohio.

“So, the Democrats want to get you in an argument where you’re having to define woke-ism as if Webster’s Dictionary is defining it. And that’s not what it is,” Perino contended.

“It could be a feeling. It could be a sense. And I wonder if Republicans or conservatives are going to have to define it more. [Psaki] could be right. I don’t know. But this will be tested.”

Dismal Crowd At NYC Trump Rally Despite Ex-Prez’s Call For Action As Arrest Looms

Matt Shuham, Christopher Mathias

Tue, 21 March 2023 at 1:51 am GMT

Members of the New York Young Republicans and the Long Island Loud Majority hold a sparsely attended rally for former President Donald Trump outside the offices of Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, in New York City on March 20, 2023.
Members of the New York Young Republicans and the Long Island Loud Majority hold a sparsely attended rally for former President Donald Trump outside the offices of Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, in New York City on March 20, 2023.

Members of the New York Young Republicans and the Long Island Loud Majority hold a sparsely attended rally for former President Donald Trump outside the offices of Alvin L. Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, in New York City on March 20, 2023.

NEW YORK — The leadership of the New York Young Republican Club, a far-right group, wants to be very clear: It’s actually a good thing that only a handful of Donald Trump supporters showed up to the pro-Trump rally held Monday outside the Manhattan district attorney’s office. 

“We purposefully kept it small,” the club’s president, Gavin Wax, told HuffPost. 

“I think there’s more cameras here than people,” observed Vish Burra, the club’s executive secretary and a staffer for Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.).

“I would prefer a lower turnout,” said Troy Olson, sergeant-at-arms. 

Turnout couldn’t have gotten much lower. Despite Trump’s call just a few days prior to “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK” in anticipation that he would be charged criminally for years-old hush money payments to adult actor Stormy Daniels, members of the media vastly outnumbered Trump supporters at the rally.

The event on Monday, as a result, turned into a sort of media petting zoo for the endangered Republicans, some of whom sought out interview requests while others hid their faces out of fear of identification.

“I had like 50 cameras on me!” exclaimed one man, whose face was covered by an American flag mask, before sounding secretly thrilled that he’d likely be in the paper tomorrow.

Above all, there was paranoia: The media and the feds were out to get Trump supporters, those present said.

“They’re trying to incite something, violence,” said Braxton Foley, 15, referring to the assembled journalists. Then the self-described “paleocon” plugged his podcast. “I’ve got 5,000 subs, so…” 

A woman who declined to give her full name remarked that, should Trump actually be arrested, “there’s a lot of patriots in this country that will not take kindly to that.” She stopped herself, saying that any protests would be peaceful. 

A man wearing an “ATF” hat — a presumed right-wing internet troll in the wild — told HuffPost he didn’t expect a Jan. 6-style reaction to Trump’s potential indictment. The prosecutions for the riot that day “freaked a lot of people out,” he said. But, the man added, “I would love to see what happens.” 

Another man, who wouldn’t give his name, sat on a park bench strumming on an out-of-tune guitar emblazoned with the words “HANG FAUCI AND GATES.”

When HuffPost asked him if he wanted to hang Fauci, he made a clarification. 

“No. We want to torture him for three years first,” he said, later adding: “poke his eyes out, let him live with one eye and, like, bleed.”

Scores of journalists ambled around, desperately looking for interviews, waiting for the New York Young Republican Club’s press conference to start. One reporter started asking someone questions before it became clear they were a reporter, too.

When Wax finally launched into his speech, he emphasized that Trump supporters should protest the former president’s impending arrest peacefully. But he struck a much different tone at a black-tie gala he organized in Manhattan late last year.

“We want total war,” he said in the December speech while discussing the MAGA movement’s perceived enemies. “We must be prepared to do battle in every arena. In the media. In the courtroom. At the ballot box. And in the streets.”

In the crowd that night, according to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, were white nationalists and members of an Austrian political party formed by Nazi party members during World War II. Also in attendance was Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).

“This is the only language the left understands,” Wax said. “The language of pure and unadulterated power.”

Wax also has a history of supporting the Proud Boys, the violent neo-fascist gang whose leaders were charged with seditious conspiracy for their role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. He once attended a speech in Manhattan by Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, during which McInnes reenacted the 1960 assassination of the leader of the Japanese Socialist Party, who was killed with a samurai sword by a far-right activist on live television.

It wasn’t clear how much of the assembled press was aware of Wax’s history of extremism. Many were there to get footage for the evening news — which may have been unusable, owing to a man who repeatedly interrupted Wax’s speech by screaming “Fuck you!” and “Fuck Trump!”

Earlier, surveying the crowd, Wax reassured the reporters crowding around him that Trump’s base was alive and well — just not today, and not in New York City.

“Everyone can make fun of however many people are here, but we’re in lower Manhattan, I mean, this is not Tennessee, this is not Alabama,” he said. “Someone like Trump has no problem getting crowds.”

DeSantis swipes at Trump while decrying former president’s possible indictment

DeSantis swipes at Trump while decrying former president’s possible indictment

Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday broke his silence on possible indictment of former President Donald Trump in remarks that first criticized the Manhattan district attorney who would issue the indictment but then swiped at the former president.

“We are not involved in this. Won’t be involved in this. I have no interest in getting involved in some type of manufactured circus…” DeSantis said at a news conference in Panama City, Florida.

DeSantis was asked by a reporter from the Florida Standard what his thoughts were “on the rumored Trump indictment, if he had “any role in it,” and if charges were brought against Trump, would DeSantis “have any role in extradition to New York,” since Trump is now a Florida resident.

“Look, I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair. I just can’t speak to that,” DeSantis said, without mentioning Trump directly by name.

“But what I can speak to is that if you have a prosecutor who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in his jurisdiction, and he chooses to go back many many years ago to try to use something about porn star hush money payments, you know, that’s an example of pursuing a political agenda, and weaponizing the office,” he continued.

A spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office, in response to DeSantis’ comment Bragg is “ignoring” crimes, said, “We will not be intimidated by attempts to undermine the justice process, nor will we let baseless accusations deter us from fairly applying the law.”

On his social media platform Saturday morning, Trump claimed that he would be arrested Tuesday in connection to the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election — he also called for his supporters to protest.

PHOTO: FILE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis answers questions, March 7, 2023, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. (Phil Sears/AP, FILE)
PHOTO: FILE – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis answers questions, March 7, 2023, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. (Phil Sears/AP

Trump’s allies and supporters have been publicly urging DeSantis to weigh in on Trump’s proclamation of his possible indictment since the former president posted the news on Saturday. They’ve also pressured DeSantis to possibly block Trump’s extradition from Florida to New York.

DeSantis is widely considered to be Trump’s strongest competitor for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. The Florida governor has privately indicated to allies that he expects to jump in the race around May or June, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

Former Trump senior adviser Jason Miller thanked some other confirmed or possible 2024 GOP contenders for their comments slamming the potential indictment while condemning DeSantis and hopeful Nikki Haley for not responding to the news.

“Thank you, Vice President Mike Pence and Vivek Ramaswamy, for pointing out how Radical Left Democrats are trying to divide our Country in the name of Partisan Politics,” Miller said in a tweet on Saturday.

“Radio silence from Gov. Ron DeSantis and Amb. Nikki Haley,” he said.

PHOTO: FILE - Former President Donald Trump takes the stage to deliver remarks in Davenport, Iowa, March 13, 2023. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters, FILE)
PHOTO: FILE – Former President Donald Trump takes the stage to deliver remarks in Davenport, Iowa, March 13, 2023. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters, FILE)

On Saturday, former Vice President Mike Pence said that the possible indictment of Trump would be “a politically charged prosecution,” during an interview with ABC News “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl, on Saturday.

Ramaswamy tweeted on Saturday that a “Trump indictment would be a national disaster.”

“It is un-American for the ruling party to use police power to arrest its political rivals,” Ramaswamy wrote.

“This will mark a dark moment in American history and will undermine public trust in our electoral system itself. I call on the Manhattan District Attorney to reconsider this action and to put aside partisan politics in service of preserving our Constitutional republic,” he said.

ABC News’ Aaron Katersky, Jay O’Brien and Brittany Shepherd contributed to this report.

DeSantis swipes at Trump while decrying former president’s possible indictment originally appeared on

Lawyers and rights groups calls for greater scrutiny of DeSantis’s Guantanamo record

The Florida governor served at Guantanamo as a  Navy JAG lawyer  (original)
The Florida governor served at Guantanamo as a Navy JAG lawyer (original)

Lawyers and human rights activists have called for greater scrutiny of Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s time serving as a Navy JAG lawyer at Guantanamo Bay, amid accusations from former detainees that he observed their torture.

The calls come as a former detainee at the camp, Mansoor Adayfi, claimed in an interview with The Independent that Mr DeSantis witnessed his force-feeding, a practice he described as torture.

Mr DeSantis served at Guantanamo between March 2006 and January 2007, a time when the notorious prison camp was rocked by riots, hunger strikes and death.

He has revealed few details about his duties at the time, but has consistently argued for it to remain open.

Anas Mustapha, head of public advocacy at CAGE, which campaigns for communities impacted by the War on Terror, said Mr DeSantis’s rise to the governorship and frontrunner status for the 2024 GOP nomination “reveals a worrying lack of scrutiny into his tenure as a JAG Officer at Guantanamo Bay prison in 2006”.

Mr Mustapha told The Independent that the allegations that Mr DeSantis witnessed torture at Guantanamo would do “incredible damage to the US’ standing and will critically undermine its claims to promote human rights” if he became president.

“His behaviour is certainly cruel by any standard. It is unnerving considering he may be leading policy at the White House,” he added.

“That DeSantis has been able to secure a position in the upper echelons of US politics, despite being complicit in the torture and abuse of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, shows the disregard the US government has for human rights – the very notion it used in the propagation of its disastrous and calamitous so-called ‘War on Terror,’” he said in a press release issued last week as the allegations first broke.

For those familiar with the finer details of the force-feeding regime at Guantanamo, the news was met with a mixture of concern and a lack of surprise.

Eric Lewis, a human rights lawyer who represented clients who were held at Guantanamo, wrote in an op-ed for The Independent that he watched videos of the force-feeding at the prison camp as part of his legal duties.

“I saw the pain and the humiliation and heard the screaming as my client was pinned to a chair and had overly wide, under-lubricated rubber tubing shoved blindly, quickly and forcibly down his throat, through his digestive tract and into his stomach. Only a sadist could impose and witness such treatment without grave concern and soul-sickness,” Mr Lewis, who sits on the board of The Independent, wrote.

“To my mind, relying on Ron DeSantis to feel empathy for torture victims was a fool’s errand then and would be one again if he runs for president in 2024,” he added.

Clive Stafford Smith, also a lawyer, who represents several detainees at Guantanamo and has protested against the force-feeding of hunger strikers previously, told The Independent that it was “not in the least surprising” that Mr DeSantis had remained quiet about his time serving at the notorious prison.

“He talks tough about ‘being in Guantanamo’ but omits any discussion of abuses. But then most people who were at Abu Ghraib prefer just to say they served in the Iraq War too,” he said.

In an op-ed for The Independent, Mr Stafford Smith wrote that camp authorities stepped up their efforts to break the hunger strikes of detainees in February 2006.

“The Istanbul Protocol makes it clear that it is unethical to force-feed a competent individual who has decided on a peaceful protest, even unto death,” he said.

“In Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. military decided not to respect the Protocol. That is hardly surprising. They did not respect any other provisions of the law, including the UN Convention Against Torture, so why begin with what is essentially an ethical proscription?”

Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo prisoner, and the present Director of Outreach for CAGE, wrote in an op-ed for The Independent that he had spoken to former detainees who also remembered Mr DeSantis from their time there.

“If DeSantis became president, it would be a new low for the US,” he wrote.

“This wouldn’t be Donald Trump boasting that he believes torture ‘absolutely works’ or talking about his desire to ‘load Guantanamo with bad dudes’. This would be something much more tangible”

He added: “If that happens, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least. The US regularly claims to embody the very highest ideals of justice and accountability, while in practice doing the complete opposite.”

Boris Johnson accused of ‘bullying’ and intimidation of Partygate inquiry MPs as he hands over defence

Boris Johnson accused of ‘bullying’ and intimidation of Partygate inquiry MPs as he hands over defence

Boris Johnson and his allies have been accused of trying to “bully” and intimidate an investigating committee of MPs ahead of his showdown televised grilling on Partygate on Wednesday.

Senior Conservatives joined Labour in urging the Johnson camp to stop “disgraceful” efforts to undermine the privileges committee – warning that it “borders on contempt of parliament”.

Mr Johnson’s legal team finally handed a defence dossier to the committee on Monday, but his rebuttal of allegations that he lied to parliament is not expected to be published until Tuesday after redactions are made.

With the former PM’s political future on the line, his allies have repeatedly lashed out at the inquiry – calling it a “McCarthyite witchhunt” and pressuring four Tory MPs on the cross-party committee to quit.

Writing for The Independent, former Tory attorney general Dominic Grieve said the group of eight MPs would act impartially and “should not be deflected from irrelevant bluster” by the Johnson camp.

Mr Grieve added: “It’s a central feature of Johnson’s career that he has a unique capacity to sully everything he touches … away from parliament he has been shown repeatedly to be a liar.”

Mr Johnson is understood to have claimed in his fightback dossier that the committee is both “unlawful” and politically biased – pointing to chair Harriet Harman’s previous tweets suggesting the ex-PM “knowingly lied” about parties at No 10.

The ex-Tory leader’s close ally Conor Burns, former Northern Ireland secretary, questioned Ms Harman’s impartiality on Monday, suggesting that she had “predetermined” views on the matter.

It follows Conservative Post – a website affiliated with Lord Cruddas’ Conservative Democratic Organisation (CDO) – urging party members to email the four Tory MPs who sit on the committee and urge them to quit the “banana republic” inquiry.

One senior Conservative MP accused Mr Johnson and his allies of trying to “bully” the committee in a way that “borders on contempt of parliament”.

The Rishi Sunak backer told The Independent: “To seek to interfere with due process – to try to cheat the process – is a serious issue. It could backfire when it comes to MPs and the mood to punish him. If you keep making out this out to be a kangaroo court, it shows you just don’t get it.”

Another senior Conservative MP said the pressure put on by Johnson allies was “totally disgraceful”, while Tory MP Nigel Mills told The Independent: “It smacks of desperation. They’re attacking the referee before kick-off.”

Boris Johnson outside his home on Monday (Getty Images)
Boris Johnson outside his home on Monday (Getty Images)

Tobias Ellwood, chair of the defence select committee, told The Independent that the committee would not be “dazzled or distracted”, warning Mr Johnson and his allies: “Any sign of impropriety will paint all of parliament in a poor light.”

Sir Keir Starmer also accused Mr Johnson of trying to “intimidate” the MPs investigating him over the Partygate scandal.

With the backing of the Labour leader, shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire told The Independent that the former PM has shown “utter disdain for standards in public life” by trying to “discredit” the inquiry.

The Lib Dems’ deputy leader Daisy Cooper compared moves to undermine the inquiry to Donald Trump. “Johnson’s attempts to discredit its work are Trumpian – and proof that he was never fit to hold office in the first place.”

Sunak will give Tory MPs a free vote on any recommended punishment for Boris Johnson (PA)
Sunak will give Tory MPs a free vote on any recommended punishment for Boris Johnson (PA)

The Independent understands the 50-plus page Johnson dossier, a lengthy submission by his barrister Lord Pannick KC, is likely to be published until Tuesday, as lawyers comb through the document to make appropriate redactions to protect the identity of some witnesses.

A spokesperson for the panel of MPs said: “The committee intends to publish this as soon as is practicably possible. The material will be published on the committee website.”

It is expected to include a message from his then-communications director Jack Doyle offering him a “line to take” on gatherings ahead of telling MPs no guidance or rules had been broken.

But in their recent, damning 20-page interim report, the privileges committee poured scorn on the fact that Mr Johnson’s key claim – that all Covid rules were followed – came from a special adviser and was not “a general assurance (that) no guidance or rules were broken”.

Tory pollster Lord Hayward said on Monday that any attempt to bring back Mr Johnson as Tory leader would be viewed as “an utter joke” by voters. The peer said Mr Sunak “has the potential to drag the Conservatives up” if he can cut through “all the noise of other things”.

If found to have lied to parliament, MPs would have to vote on the sanction. If a suspension of at least 10 days is imposed, Mr Johnson could face a recall petition from his constituents that could trigger a by-election.

Mr Sunak has made clear that he would not use the Tory whip to exert pressure on his colleagues ahead of any vote in the weeks ahead.

On Monday his official spokesperson endorsed Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt’s warning that “a very dim view will be taken” of anyone who “tries to prevent” the committee from carrying out its work.

Former chancellor Tory George Osborne said on Channel 4’s The Andrew Neil Show that it was “not clear” the PM would campaign for Mr Johnson if he faces a by-election.