First Thing: Trump becomes first former US president to face criminal charges | US news

Good morning.

Donald Trump has become the first former US president to face criminal charges after a grand jury voted to indict him in New York over a hush-money payment made to the adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election.

The news is likely to shake the race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, in which Trump leads most polls.

“This evening we contacted Mr Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan DA’s office for arraignment on a supreme court indictment, which remains under seal,” the Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg’s spokesperson said. “Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected.

Trump was expected to appear in court for his arraignment on Tuesday, said Susan Necheles, a lawyer for Trump. At that point he would enter a plea on the charges. New York police have been told to all report for duty on Friday and be prepared to deal with “unusual disorder”, according to a memo seen by NBC.

  • What has the former president said? Trump, who is running again for president, reacted angrily in a lengthy statement that denounced the grand jury vote as “political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history”.

  • How have Republicans reacted? Republican politicians were swift to condemn the news. Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor, called the indictment “un-American” and assailed Bragg as a “Soros-backed” Manhattan prosecutor who was “stretching the law to target a political opponent”. News networks that lean towards the Republicans were also vocal in their criticism of the indictment last night.

  • Why did a grand jury vote to indict Trump and what does it mean for him? The sealed felony indictment is likely to be unsealed in the next few days. At this point the specific charges were not immediately made public.

‘Vulkan files’ leak reveals Putin’s global and domestic cyberwarfare tactics

Illustration of Putin with Facebook and Telegram logosPin
One of Vulkan’s most far-reaching projects was carried out with the blessing of Sandworm, the Kremlin’s infamous unit of cyberwarriors Composite: Guardian Design/Sputnik/AFP/Getty/Facebook/Telegram

The inconspicuous office is in Moscow’s north-eastern suburbs. A sign reads: “Business centre.” Nearby are modern residential blocks and a rambling old cemetery, home to ivy-covered war memorials. The area is where Peter the Great once trained his mighty army.

Inside the six-story building, a new generation is helping Russian military operations. Its weapons are more advanced than those of Peter the Great’s era: not pikes and halberds, but hacking and disinformation tools, writes Luke Harding.

The software engineers behind these systems are employees of NTC Vulkan. On the surface, it looks like a run-of-the-mill cybersecurity consultancy. However, a leak of secret files from the company has exposed its work bolstering Vladimir Putin’s cyberwarfare capabilities.

Thousands of pages of secret documents reveal how Vulkan’s engineers have worked for Russian military and intelligence agencies to support hacking operations, train operatives before attacks on national infrastructure, spread disinformation and control sections of the internet.

  • What do the cyberwarfare leaks show? The documents depict a new world of collaboration between the Russian military and its secret police. And they show how much more aggressive Putin’s siloviki, or security forces, have become since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Gwyneth Paltrow found not at fault in Utah ski-crash trial

Gwyneth Paltrow has been found not liable for collision with the optometrist Terry Sanderson in Park City in 2016. The actor wished him well as she left the courtroom (pictured).Pin
Gwyneth Paltrow has been found not liable for collision with the optometrist Terry Sanderson in Park City in 2016. The actor wished him well as she left the courtroom (pictured). Photograph: Getty Images

Gwyneth Paltrow, the Hollywood star and lifestyle guru, has prevailed in the dramatic court tussle over contrasting ski-crash claims with the retired optometrist Terry Sanderson, who had sued the actor for liability in a collision on a Utah mountain in 2016.

The verdict in the widely watched case, which to many seemed to pit one affluent lifestyle against another, came after a two-week trial that heard from dozens of witnesses attempting to assert truth to an incident that only one witness claimed to see.

The jury returned after just two hours and 20 minutes, finding Sanderson at fault for the crash and for Paltrow’s harm. The jury found Sanderson 100% at fault in terms of comparative negligence and awarded the actor damages of $1, as she requested. Her legal costs will be decided at a later date. As Paltrow left the court, she told Sanderson: “I wish you well.”

  • What was the case about? Sanderson, 76, had initially brought a claim for $3m against Paltrow but that was knocked down to $300,000 before the trial began. He alleged her recklessness caused the crash on the slopes and left him with four broken ribs and post-concussion syndrome symptoms including confusion, memory loss and irritability. Paltrow countersued, claiming Sanderson hit her and that she was being exploited for her wealth and celebrity.

In other news …

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, talks to Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily NebenziaPin
The UN secretary general, António Guterres, talks to Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA
  • Russia is poised to take charge of the UN security council as the monthly rotation of presidency of the 15-member council has been unaffected by the Ukraine war. “As of 1 April, they’re taking the level of absurdity to a new level,” said Sergiy Kyslytsya, the Ukrainian permanent representative.

  • Members of Congress clashed angrily on gun law in Washington yesterday, while hundreds of Nashville protesters urged lawmakers to “Save our children!The row erupted when the Democrat Jamaal Bowman called Republicans “gutless”, which was overheard by Thomas Massie, a far-right Republican from Kentucky.

  • Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, has condemned Russia’s arrest of the Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, as Moscow was accused of engaging in “hostage taking” by arresting a high-profile journalist who could be used as leverage in a potential prisoner swap.

  • The executive director of a US police union has been charged with attempting to illegally import a fentanyl analogue. Joanne Segovia is accused of using the union’s office to communicate with her suppliers and mail the drugs. She was immediately placed on leave, the San Jose police union said.

Don’t miss this: should we ban the purchase of cigarettes for life? A US town is trying

An illustration of a cigarette in an ashtray.Pin
It’s hard to imagine that a world without cigarettes would be a bad thing, but should people still have the choice? Illustration: Rita Liu/The Guardian

Two years ago, Brookline in Massachusetts passed an ordinance banning anyone born after 1 January 2000 from buying cigarettes in their town, writes Simar Bajaj. The idea was to curb youth smoking rates without taking anything away from people already addicted, essentially grandfathering out tobacco. Every year, there would be a smaller slice of the population that could buy cigarettes, until one day no one would be left. At least, that was the vision.

In tobacco’s heyday in the mid-20th century, 45% of US adults smoked. Fast-forward to 2020, after decades of aggressive anti-smoking campaigns, and the rate was down to 12.5%. Cigarettes still kill roughly half a million people in the US every year. While the tobacco endgame – smoking rates below 5% – seems ultimately inevitable, getting the timeline right is the $1.85tn question. Should cigarettes die on their own, or at the hands of the state?

… or this: how brands such as Nike, BlackBerry and Pop-Tarts became film’s hottest stars

Illustration of Nikes, Pop-Tarts, Tetris and other 80s itemsPin
Back to the Filofax … 80s staples are suddenly big bucks at the multiplex. Composite: Alamy

A slew of movies coming out this year celebrate the boardroom mavericks of the 1980s and 90s. In Air, Ben Affleck directs himself and Matt Damon in the 1984 origin story of the Nike Air Jordan. With Tetris, the scene is four years later; meanwhile Flamin’ Hot is a biopic of Richard Montañez, the janitor at snack giant Frito-Lay, who, in 1990, is said to have invented the title’s totemic flavour of Cheetos. Pending, too, is BlackBerry, portraying the Icarus of Canadian smartphones. What’s behind this corporate nostalgia? From Gen X execs to teenage fans of Stranger Things, the stretch of time from the mid-80s to 90s – Rubik’s Cube to early internet – has become the site of a consensus nostalgia: a past we can all agree on. And beyond the big hair and Bon Jovi, the touchstones of the age are the brands, the stuff people bought.

Last Thing: Tokitae, the oldest orca in captivity, has path to freedom after 50 years

A captive orca whale, during a performance at the Miami SeaquariumPin
Tokitae is the oldest killer whale in captivity – and could now be released. Photograph: Nuri Vallbona/AP

More than five decades after being captured in the waters off the Pacific north-west, Tokitae the orca has a plan to return home, delivering a victory to animal rights advocates and Indigenous leaders who have long fought for her release. The owners of the Miami Seaquarium announced yesterday a formal and binding agreement with a group called the Friends of Lolita to begin the process of returning Tokitae to Puget Sound. Tokitae is the oldest killer whale in captivity. Now in retirement, she lived in the smallest orca enclosure in North America, in a pool of water that made her skin infected and was fed fish that were occasionally rotten and led to intestinal issues. A “generous contribution” from Jim Irsay, the owner of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, helped alleviate the financial questions around the animal’s future.

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