Donald Trump appeared angry and shaken during his arraignment in Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday, but he had brushed off the moment by the weekend, contending that the indictment and other legal troubles would carry him to the 2024 Republican nomination, people close to him said.
With his status as a criminal defendant subjecting him to the structures of the judicial process, the former president is playing an increasingly high-stakes game to inextricably tie his legal strategy to his political gameplan as he seeks to recapture the Oval Office next year.
Trump’s wager is that using his legal troubles as a campaign issue will harden support from his base and Republican elected officials, and that support could undercut or falsely delegitimize prosecutions in Georgia or by the US justice department in other various criminal investigations.
The approach may or may not work, and Trump’s advisers acknowledge that campaigning on his personal legal issues that appeal to Republican primary voters could backfire in a general election where independent voters may recoil at re-electing a former president who is charged with 34 felonies.
Why does Trump think it will help him? The benefits to Trump of using for campaign purposes his indictment over hush money allegedly paid to the adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016 has been readily apparent, providing him with a boost across all areas: in polling, fundraising and in wall-to-wall media coverage.
What other trouble is Trump facing? As well as state and federal investigations of his election subversion, a federal investigation of his retention of classified records and a civil lawsuit over his business practices, he faces a civil defamation suit arising from an allegation of rape.
Fox News settles lawsuit with Venezuelan over election vote-rigging claims
Fox News has announced a settlement with a Venezuelan businessman, Majed Khalil, ending a defamation case in which Khalil said he was falsely accused on air of helping to rig the 2020 US presidential election against Donald Trump.
It comes with jury selection due to begin on Thursday before a separate trial in Dominion Voting Systems Corp’s $1.6bn defamation lawsuit against Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corp, over their coverage of debunked election-rigging claims.
Khalil filed a separate defamation suit against the news outlet and former host Lou Dobbs, arguing in filings that they had fabricated claims he and other Venezuelans were involved in “orchestrating a nonexistent scheme to rig or fix the election”.
A short letter sent to the US district judge Louis Stanton in Manhattan on Saturday said the parties had reached a “confidential agreement to resolve this matter” and expected to file a joint stipulation of dismissal next week.
What did Fox News say? “This matter has been resolved amicably by both sides,” it said in a statement on Sunday. “We have no further comment.” Lawyers for Fox News and Dobbs referred Reuters to the statement. Khalil’s lawyer did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Pentagon assessing impact of leaked documents on national security
The US Department of Defense says it has launched an interagency effort to assess the impact that leaked intelligence documents could have on US national security and on its allies and partners, as it hunts for the source of the leak.
“The Department of Defense continues to review and assess the validity of the photographed documents that are circulating on social media sites and that appear to contain sensitive and highly classified material,” the department said in a statement. The Pentagon has also referred the issue to the Department of Justice, which has opened a criminal investigation, Reuters reports.
One of the most eye-opening revelations from the documents is that Ukraine’s air defenses risk running out of missiles and ammunition within weeks, according to the New York Times, potentially changing the course of the war.
One of the documents, dated 23 February and marked “secret”, outlines in detail how Ukraine’s Soviet-era S-300 air defense systems would be depleted by 2 May at the current usage rate. It is unclear if the usage rate has since changed.
What else is happening? Russia plans to increase air defenses over its north-western border to counter Finland’s accession to Nato, a commander in its aerospace forces has said, Reuters reports. Lt Gen Andrei Demin, the deputy commander-in-chief of aerospace forces, also said further overhauls of Russian air defenses were “undoubtedly planned and will be implemented”.
In other news …
The New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said there was “an extraordinary amount of precedent” for the Joe Biden White House to ignore a Friday court ruling suspending federal approval of a drug used in medication abortion. This has happened before,” she said on CNN’s State of the Union.
China’s military is practising ship-launched strikes on Taiwan from the east, information released by Taiwan’s defense ministry today indicated, as Beijing’s retaliatory military drills entered their third day. On Saturday, Beijing launched three days of military exercises targeting Taiwan.
A surfer is in a serious condition after being bitten on the leg by a shark off Honolulu, authorities in Hawaii have said. The 58-year-old man was attacked shortly before 7am on Sunday near Kewalo Basin, according to Honolulu emergency medical services.
Two Tennessee state lawmakers who were expelled from the legislature after partaking in a gun control protest outside the chamber to which they were elected have called the move an unprecedented act of political retaliation as well as an “attempt to crucify democracy”.
Stat of the day: US woman, 78, charged with bank robbery for third time
A 78-year-old woman with two previous bank robbery convictions faces new charges after allegedly carrying out a heist in Missouri during which she handed a teller a note that said “I didn’t mean to scare you”. Bonnie Gooch has been jailed on a $25,000 bond after she was charged with one count of stealing or attempting to steal from a financial institution in the holdup last Wednesday in Pleasant Hill, the Kansas City Star reported. Gooch was convicted of robbing a California bank in 1977 and one in the Kansas City suburb of Lee’s Summit in 2020. Her probation over the second heist ended in November 2021. Court documents filed in Cass County in the latest case said the robbery note demanded “13,000 small bills”.
Don’t miss this: ‘Marriage is more diverse than people think’ – a historian’s view of tying the knot
In 2002, a counsellor from Relate told the Daily Mail that marriage would “be extinct in 30 years”. The clock is ticking. Except – anti-marriage crusades have stretched from second-century north Africa to 20th-century Israel, and all of them have failed. The bells still ring: in the UK, about half a million people get married every year. Despite the fact that more than 40% of weddings will end in divorce, most people still choose to marry at some point in their lives. But the institution itself has expanded and contracted and reshaped itself so much over the years that a marriage often means different things to different people – sometimes even those living in the same house. When Rachael Lennon was planning her wedding, she began to question the institution of marriage – was it really for her? Yet in researching it, she discovered wedlock is whatever you choose to make it.
Climate check: ‘Headed off the charts’ – world’s ocean surface temperature hits record high
The temperature of the world’s ocean surface has hit an all-time high since satellite records began, leading to marine heatwaves around the globe, according to US government data. Climate scientists said preliminary data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed the average temperature at the ocean’s surface has been at 21.1C since the start of April – beating the previous high of 21C set in 2016. “The current trajectory looks like it’s headed off the charts, smashing previous records,” said Prof Matthew England, a climate scientist. Hotter oceans provide more energy for storms, as well as putting ice sheets at risk and pushing up global sea levels, caused by salt water expanding as it warms. Marine heatwaves can also have devastating effects on marine wildlife and cause coral bleaching on tropical reefs.
Last Thing: a jail for wayward polar bears? You must be in Churchill, Canada …
Perched on the southern edge of the Arctic on the shores of Hudson Bay, people in the Canadian town of Churchill share their streets with the world’s largest land carnivore. Their regular encounters with polar bears have earned Churchill the nickname “polar bear capital of the world”. The 900 or so residents are used to looking cautiously around corners and not walking after dark. But it’s the bears that could claim to have a grievance: the town was built on their annual migratory route. Living side by side with apex predators certainly poses challenges for the town’s people, but it is the spectre of climate breakdown that looms large over Churchill. With the ice melting earlier in the summer and forming later in winter, many bears are spending more time on land, which increases the chances of them coming into conflict with humans.
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