Opening statements began Monday in the criminal trial of actor Jonathan Majors, who was charged last spring for allegedly assaulting his then-girlfriend during an argument.
Majors did not speak as he strode into a Manhattan courthouse seeking to clear his name following an arrest in March that has effectively stalled his fast-rising career.
The six-person jury is expected to hear opposing narratives from 34-year-old Majors and his accuser, Grace Jabbari, a British dancer, about their confrontation in the back of a car.
Prosecutors said Jabbari was riding in a car with Majors in late March when she grabbed the actor’s phone out of his hand after seeing a text message, presumably sent by another woman, that said: “Wish I was kissing you right now.”
When Majors tried to snatch the phone back, he allegedly pulled her finger, twisted her arm behind her back and hit her in the face. After the pair got out out of the vehicle, he threw her back inside, Jabbari said.
Attorneys for Majors have maintained that Jabbari was the aggressor in the confrontation. They have suggested that prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office are targeting Majors because he is Black.
The arrest came weeks after the release of “Creed III,” a break-out role for Majors. He has also starred in the Marvel TV series “Loki” and the film “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania,” and was awaiting the release of another star vehicle, “Magazine Dreams,” which is now in limbo.
He could be sentenced to up to a year in jail if convicted.
The Russian Justice Ministry on Friday said it has filed a lawsuit with the nation’s Supreme Court to outlaw the LGBTQ+ “international public movement” as extremist, the latest crippling blow against the already beleaguered LGBTQ+ community in the increasingly conservative country.
The ministry said in an online statement announcing the lawsuit that authorities have identified “signs and manifestations of extremist nature” in “the activities of the LGBT movement active” in Russia, including “incitement of social and religious discord.” Russia’s Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing to consider the lawsuit for Nov. 30, the ministry said.
It is not yet clear what exactly the label would entail for LGBTQ+ people in Russia if the Supreme Court sides with the Justice Ministry, and the ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But the move in itself represents the latest, and possibly by far the most drastic, step in the decade-long crackdown on gay rights in Russia unleashed under President Vladimir Putin, who has put “traditional family values” at the cornerstone of his rule.
The crackdown, which began a decade ago, slowly but surely chipped away at LGBTQ+ rights. In 2013, the Kremlin adopted the first legislation restricting LGBTQ+ rights, known as the “gay propaganda” law, banning any non-critical public depiction of “nontraditional sexual relations” among minors. In 2020, Putin pushed through a constitutional reform to extend his rule by two more terms that also outlawed same-sex marriage.
In 2022, after sending troops into Ukraine, the Kremlin ramped up its rhetoric about protecting “traditional values” from what it called the West’s “degrading” influence, in what rights advocates saw as an attempt to legitimize the war in Ukraine. That same year, the authorities adopted a law banning propaganda of “nontraditional sexual relations” among adults, too, effectively outlawing any public endorsement of LGBTQ+ people.
Another law passed this year prohibited gender transitioning procedures and gender-affirming care for trans people. The legislation prohibited any “medical interventions aimed at changing the sex of a person,” as well as changing one’s gender in official documents and public records. It also amended Russia’s Family Code by listing gender change as a reason to annul a marriage and adding those “who had changed gender” to a list of people who can’t become foster or adoptive parents.
“Do we really want to have here, in our country, in Russia, ‘Parent No. 1, No. 2, No. 3’ instead of ‘mom’ and ‘dad?’” Putin said in September 2022 at a ceremony to formalize Moscow’s annexation of four Ukrainian regions. “Do we really want perversions that lead to degradation and extinction to be imposed in our schools from the primary grades?”
Authorities have rejected accusations of discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. Earlier this week, Russian media quoted Andrei Loginov, a deputy justice minister, as saying that “the rights of LGBT people in Russia are protected” legally. Loginov spoke in Geneva, while presenting a report on human rights in Russia to the U.N. Human Rights Council, and argued that “restraining public demonstration of non-traditional sexual relationships or preferences is not a form of censure for them.”
Putin, speaking at a culture-related event in St. Petersburg on Friday, called LGBTQ+ people “part of the society, too” and said they are entitled to winning various arts and culture awards. He did not comment on the Justice Ministry’s lawsuit.
Former President Donald Trump vigorously defended his wealth and business on Monday, tangling from the witness stand with the judge overseeing his civil fraud trial and denouncing as a “political witch hunt” a lawsuit accusing him of dramatically inflating his net worth.
Trump’s long-awaited testimony about property valuations and financial statements was punctuated by personal jabs at a judge he said was biased against him and at the New York attorney general, whom he derided as a “political hack.” He proudly boasted of his real estate business — “I’m worth billions of dollars more than the financial statements” — and disputed claims that he had deceived banks and insurers.
“This is the opposite of fraud,” he declared. Referring to New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat whose office brought the lawsuit, he said, “The fraud is her.”
The testy exchanges, and frequent rebukes from the judge, underscored Trump’s unwillingness to adapt his famously freewheeling rhetorical style to a formal courtroom setting governed by rules of evidence and legal protocol. But while his presence on the stand was a vivid reminder of the legal troubles he faces as he vies to reclaim the White House in 2024, it also functioned as a campaign platform for the former president and leading Republican presidential candidate to raise anew to supporters his claims of political persecution at the hands of government lawyers and judges.
“People are sick and tired of what’s happening. I think it is a very sad say for America,” Trump told reporters outside the courtroom after roughly three-and-a-half hours on the stand.
Trump’s testimony got off to a contentious start Monday, with state Judge Arthur Engoron admonishing him to keep his answers concise and reminding him that “this is not a political rally.”
Turning to Trump’s attorney at one point, the judge said, “I beseech you to control him if you can. If you can’t, I will.” The civil trial is one of numerous legal proceedings Trump is confronting, including federal and state charges accusing him of crimes including illegally hoarding classified documents and scheming to overturn the 2020 presidential election. His legal and political strategies have now become completely intertwined as he hopscotches between campaign events and court hearings, a schedule that will only intensify once his criminal trials begin.
Though the fraud case doesn’t carry the prospect of prison as the criminal prosecutions do, its allegations of financial impropriety cut to the heart of the brand he spent decades crafting. The suggestion that Trump is worth less than he’s claimed has been interpreted by him as a cutting insult.
Film director Agnieszka Holland demanded an apology from Poland’s justice minister after he compared her latest film, which explores the migration crisis at the Poland-Belarus border, to Nazi propaganda.
Holland said Wednesday that she planned to bring defamation charges against Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro unless she receives an apology within seven days. She also demanded that he make a charitable donation of 50,000 Polish zlotys ($11,600) to an association that helps Holocaust survivors.
Holland’s feature film, “Green Border,” explores a migration crisis that has played out along Poland’s border with Belarus over the past two years. It takes a sympathetic approach toward the migrants from the Middle East and Africa who got caught up as pawns in a geopolitical standoff.
It also looks critically at the way Poland’s security services pushed back migrants who were lured to the border by Belarus, an ally of Russia.
Ziobro slammed the film earlier this week, saying: “In the Third Reich, the Germans produced propaganda films showing Poles as bandits and murderers. Today, they have Agnieszka Holland for that.”
He made his comment on the social platform X, formerly Twitter, on Monday, a day before the film had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival.
Holland noted in a statement that Ziobro, who serves as prosecutor general as well as justice minster, commented on her film without having seen it and that she believed his words amounted to defamation, calling them “despicable.”
“I cannot remain indifferent to such an open and brutal attack by a person who holds the very important constitutional position of minister of justice and prosecutor general in Poland,” she wrote in a statement from Venice dated Wednesday but published in Poland on Thursday.