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Will Trump be indicted today?
Today may be the day that a former president who is a current presidential candidate is indicted based on allegations he illegally organized hush money payments to a porn star in the runup to his election.
Former President Trump’s indictment is expected today, NewsNation reported, and political analysts are split over whether charges of illegal payments tied to a sleazy alleged affair with Stormy Daniels will change the GOP presidential field one way or another. An indictment, even a conviction, would not impede Trump’s candidacy.
The Wall Street Journal: The Manhattan grand jury is set to meet today.
That verdict rests with the voters, and Trump, who anticipated a Manhattan grand jury would indict him this week, has encouraged his supporters to protest what he calls another partisan witch hunt. Trump, who has been impeached twice, is also at the center of state and federal investigations.
The Hill’s Brett Samuels lays out what to watch for and The Wall Street Journal describes how an indictment and arrest could unfold.
New York City law enforcement personnel erected barriers near the courthouse, blocked off streets and increased security in advance of public reaction to the grand jury’s decision. A source close to the Trump legal team told CNN that should Trump be indicted, lawyers do not expect any arrest or initial appearance before next week.
“He wants to be defiant — to show the world that if they can try to do this to him, they can do it to anyone,” one person who spoke to Trump over the weekend told The New York Times. The former president is described by the Times’s sources as less concerned with the particulars of where he would be seen than with being assured of the opportunity to show the public he is not slinking away in shame.
▪ The Hill: Trump could face a variety of charges stemming from an investigation under Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D).
▪ Time: Here’s what Trump has said in the past. Trump has denied having an affair with Daniels and denied that any campaign money went toward paying her through his former lawyer, Michael Cohen.
▪ The Washington Post: The Trump campaign raised more than $1.5 million since Saturday and is preparing should the former president be under indictment while seeking the GOP nomination.
▪ Fox News: Trump addressed a potential indictment tied to Daniels during a Monday night video he posted to Truth Social, referring to the “Stormy-horse-face-Daniels extortion plot” as “a continuation of the most disgusting witch hunt in the history of our country.”
▪ The New York Times’s Nate Cohn: An indictment would seem particularly unlikely to hurt Trump’s base of support. The public already knows about Daniels. His supporters decided, long ago, that they did not especially care about the case’s underlying facts.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday, sounding like a leader who has seen some internal polling and read the former president’s social media postings, downplayed Trump’s alleged actions with Daniels “seven years ago” (The Washington Post).
McCarthy told reporters during a House Republican retreat in Orlando that the case involved “personal money” and shouldn’t rise to prosecution under what he described in an apparent repetition of a Trump social media post as a “statute of limitations.”
“I think you know in your heart of hearts that this is just political,” McCarthy said. “And I think that’s what the rest of the country thinks. And we’re kind of tired of that.”
He later added, “We’re not coming here to defend President Trump, we’re coming to defend equal justice.”
The Hill: Democrats worry about Trump’s protest calls over possible indictment.
▪ Politico Magazine, Alexander Burns, columnist: Stop overthinking it: An indictment would be bad for Trump.
▪ Bloomberg Law: A bomb threat on Tuesday was called in just as a judge in lower Manhattan was about to start a hearing over a $250 million lawsuit by New York Attorney General Letitia James against Trump involving his real estate. The courthouse was closed, searched and the threat was unfounded.
▪ CBS News: Legal teams return to a Delaware court for a second day today to find out whether Dominion Voting system’s $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News and Fox Corporation goes to trial in April. Arguments before a Superior Court judge went on all day on Tuesday.
▪ Reuters: Fox faces skeptical judge in $16 billion defamation case.
LEADING THE DAY
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell this afternoon is expected to maintain the central bank’s focus on lowering inflation with rising interest rates. At the same time, he’s expected to try to soothe rattled investors, depositors and consumers amid banking turmoil that apparently wasn’t visible on the Fed’s radar before the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.
Powell, who repeatedly insists the Fed is data-dependent with every move it makes, will be asked at an afternoon news conference to show those cards and map out the future on all fronts.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, speaking to the American Bankers Association on Tuesday, said the situation among some banks this month is stabilizing but she sidestepped offering any reactions to proposed legislative fixes endorsed by lawmakers in both parties (The Hill).
Yellen said her department and the Federal Reserve are ready to step in to help smaller banks that may face liquidity problems but would not customarily be eligible for special treatment because they do not pose systemic risks to the financial system (Bloomberg News). Her comment appeared to depart from her Senate testimony last week, in which she explained that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) $250,000 insurance cap on deposit accounts was lifted to 100 percent of deposits in a decision reached with the Treasury and the Fed because the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank risked runs on other banks.
Some members of Congress are looking for ways to boost that cap, at least temporarily, in order to stop depositors from pulling their money out of smaller institutions like those that have been at the center of recent bank runs. Others are opposed, so it’s unclear that legislation adjusting the FDIC limit even temporarily would pass. While such a move could calm nervous depositors, it could have drawbacks, including removing a big disincentive for banks to take on too much risk (The New York Times and The Hill).
House and Senate leaders are slow-walking action amid the banking turmoil without better clarity about why the banks collapsed, the consequences of various proposals and bipartisan support for any major legislation.
On a separate subject with partisan ramifications, Yellen told the bankers group in response to a question that if Congress does not vote to lift the cap on borrowing known as the debt ceiling in time to avert U.S. default, the result would be “absolutely catastrophic.” House Republicans are using the debt ceiling as leverage to try to secure deep spending cuts to lower the federal debt over the next decade.
▪ The New York Times: A big question for the Fed: What went wrong with bank oversight?
▪ Bloomberg News: Global job cuts extend beyond Big Tech.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: Home prices fell in February for the first time in 11 years.
▪ CNBC: “Junk fees” cost consumers tens of billions of dollars annually, according to the White House. Biden is pushing Congress to enact the Junk Fees Prevention Act, which he says would be a first step in cracking down on extraneous surcharges attached to purchases such as airfares, concert tickets, vehicle rentals and hotel reservations.
🇨🇦 Biden will make his first trip as president to Canada on Thursday and Friday, accompanied by first lady Jill Biden. Wide-ranging discussions with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are expected to include security, Biden’s Buy America policies and migration from the U.S. into Canada.
Canadian sources told The Globe and Mail that the Trudeau government is hoping that Canada can be included in renewed Buy America provisions to ensure Canadian exporters still have access to the U.S. market. Biden, in turn, is expected to focus his asks on boosting defense spending and playing a bigger role to bring stability to crisis-torn Haiti.
After Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry made a plea for a “specialized armed force” from abroad to restore order, the White House soon drafted a U.N. Security Council resolution proposing a “non-U.N. international security assistance mission” to support the Haitian police. The Biden administration has asked Canada to take a “leadership role” in an international force to stabilize Haiti. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters in January that Canada itself had “expressed interest” in such a role, but U.S. optimism has waned as months have passed without any commitment from Ottawa (The Washington Post).
▪ CBC: Thorny issues on the table as Biden makes presidential visit to Canada this week.
▪ Reuters: Biden, Trudeau to talk Ukraine, defense spending, Haiti in Ottawa.
▪ Bloomberg News: Trudeau set to pick a lane in the clean-tech race against Biden.
The Biden administration’s charm offensive with Africa continues, as U.S. officials make visits to shore up diplomatic relations and counteract Russia and China’s possible influence over the continent. With Vice President Harris’s trip to the continent on Friday, the White House continues sending its envoy of officials. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Niger and Ethiopia last week, and the first lady, Yellen and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, have all made trips in recent weeks (MSNBC).
As a key pandemic policy of guaranteed eligibility ends, Biden administration and state health officials are bracing for chaos as states begin to determine for the first time in three years who is eligible for Medicaid. The Hill’s Nathaniel Weixel reports that the administration is giving states a year to go through the once-routine process, though some are moving much faster. But concern is growing among health advocates that without a safety net, tens of millions of vulnerable people will fall through the cracks and lose coverage.
The Washington Post: Coalition urges probe of large federal contractor’s diversity efforts.
IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES
China’s Xi Jinping left Russia early Wednesday after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin Tuesday in Moscow. The two leaders affirmed plans to deepen Chinese-Russian political and economic cooperation for years to come and sent a message to the West about pushing back against the United States’s global domination.
There was no visible progress on China’s cease-fire plan for Ukraine (The Washington Post). Xi’s visit to Moscow — long touted by the Kremlin as a show of support from its most powerful friend — featured plenty of demonstrative friendliness, but Xi barely mentioned the conflict, saying that China had an “impartial position” on it (Reuters).
Putin says Russia is fighting an existential war against the West and seeks to defend its sovereign history, writes The Hill’s Brad Dress. By casting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as homeland security, Putin taps a common psychological tool to strengthen his standing with the Russian people, according to several analysts.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: Ukraine’s leadership doubles down on Bakhmut defense as Russians get closer.
▪ Politico EU: Call me anytime: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky plays the long game with Xi.
▪ The Washington Post: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida ended his visit to Kyiv on Wednesday and will be in Poland until Thursday after presenting a sharp contrast with Xi’s meetings in Moscow.
▪ The New York Times: Its forces under siege, Ukraine hits distant, Russian-held Crimea.
▪ The Hill: Eastern Europe ups pressure on U.S. to send jets to Ukraine.
The Pentagon is working to expedite delivery of Abrams tanks to Ukraine by the fall, speeding up delivery by nine months. Biden, under pressure from Ukrainian officials, agreed in January to pledge 31 M1 tanks as part of a long-term arrangement that afforded German leaders political cover to approve the immediate provision of Leopard battle tanks (Bloomberg News and The Washington Post).
Politico: “Absolutely a quick study”: Ukrainians master Patriot missile system faster than expected.
After years of extreme scarcity, some Venezuelans lead lives of luxury as others scrape by. After the country’s economy imploded nearly a decade ago, the nation of grinding hardship has increasingly become one of haves and have-nots as a dizzying wealth gap emerges (The New York Times).
▪ Reuters: Switzerland’s secretive Credit Suisse rescue rocks global finance.
▪ The Wall Street Journal: Uganda passes sweeping new anti-LGBTQ legislation.
▪ Politico EU: Italy and Belgium’s red-tape row snarls Qatargate.
■ Trump’s stormy weather could be DeSantis’s ray of sunshine, by Joshua Green, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3LEU8KW
■ The climate warnings are consistently bad. And about to get worse, by Eugene Robinson, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3yZaIxL
WHERE AND WHEN
📲 Ask The Hill: Share a news query tied to an expert journalist’s insights: The Hill launched something new and (we hope) engaging via text with Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack. Learn more and sign up HERE.
The House will convene at noon.
The Senate meets at 10 a.m. The Senate Commerce Committee at 10 a.m. convenes a hearing about rail safety with witnesses including Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R).
The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9 a.m. Biden and first lady Jill Biden will host a Women’s History Month reception at the White House at 5 p.m. in the East Room.
Vice President Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff will also speak during the evening reception at the White House for Women’s History Month.
Secretary Yellen will appear before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee at 2:30 p.m. and on Thursday before the House Appropriations subcommittee at 3 p.m.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will testify at 10 a.m. before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee about his department’s proposed budget. A few hours later, he will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at 2:30 p.m. about budget requests, and on Thursday, he will testify at 2 p.m. before a House Appropriations subcommittee, also about the budget.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will hold a news conference at 2:30 p.m. following the release of a written statement at 2 p.m. capping the two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra testifies about his department’s proposed budget at 10 a.m. before the Senate Finance Committee.
The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 3 p.m.
➤ HEALTH & PANDEMIC Ahead of the 2024 election, Republican presidential candidates and likely contenders are taking increasingly extreme positions when it comes to transgender young people, particularly regarding gender-affirming healthcare and access to facilities consistent with their gender identity. As The Hill’s Julia Manchester and Brooke Migdon report, Trump has pledged to ban transgender women and girls from competing on female sports teams if he is reelected, and in February he vowed to punish doctors who provide gender-affirming care to youth.DeSantis, meanwhile, has called for physicians who provide gender-affirming care to transgender minors to be sued and championed two new state health care rules that block transgender youths and adults from accessing puberty blockers, hormone therapies and surgeries.
“Across the community, there’s a broad array of reactions. Some people are afraid; others are motivated; others are angry; others are fighting back,” said Imara Jones, the founder of TransLash Media. “Other members are trying to literally figure out what states are going to be safe for them as these state laws continue to pass. There’s a combination of responses and emotional responses that you would expect from a community that’s under attack.”
Flashback: While it is generally known that morale at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plummeted during the early months of the pandemic, as Trump administration officials sought to quash dissent among career scientists who disagreed with the White House’s handling of COVID-19, few employees have described the despair inside the agency as hospitals overflowed with patients and bodies piled up in makeshift morgues. The New York Times spoke with current and former CDC scientists, who spoke of guilt, anger and a rising sense of powerlessness as administration officials meddled with or simply disregarded important scientific research.
The Atlantic: A major clue to COVID-19’s origins is just out of reach. A key set of data could shore up the case for a purely animal origin. So why aren’t scientists sharing it?
Mortality rates for children are rising significantly for the first time in at least 50 years, and across several categories, according to a new analysis of CDC data, writes The Hill’s Daniel de Visé. More children died in car crashes, homicides, suicides and overdoses in 2021 than two or three years earlier. Guns accounted for nearly half of the increase, as many Americans purchased firearms during the pandemic.
▪ The Washington Post: A deadly fungal infection is spreading in hospitals and nursing homes among the most vulnerable seniors and immunocompromised patients. Here’s what to know.
▪ The Hill: Cases of rare tick-borne disease on the rise in eight states, CDC says.
▪ The New York Times: The Surgeon General’s new mission: adolescent mental health.
Information about the availability of COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots can be found at Vaccines.gov.
Current U.S. COVID-19 deaths are 1,706 for the most recent week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Data is reported on Fridays.)
And finally … 🎓 Commencement season is near, in which graduates and their relieved families sit through ceremonies that crawl through rosters of names, honors and diplomas. At the end are tidbits of wisdom and bonhomie dispensed during addresses by world leaders, lawmakers, business titans, famous alumnus and celebrities.
Harvard University has announced its 2023 commencement speaker, two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks, who also counts a Golden Globe award, seven Emmy awards and the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award among his achievements (The Harvard Crimson).
Other universities will share their picks in the coming weeks, and eagle-eyed readers are sure to spot a variety of White House officials announcing commencement bookings in May and June. Forbes is tracking a list of announced commencement speakers for the class of 2023.
▪ W&M News: Comedian and alumnus Patton Oswalt is set to return to the College of William and Mary as the 2023 commencement speaker.
▪ Marquette Today: Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin is to serve as Marquette University’s 2023 commencement speaker. Defense – US tanks, air defense systems to arrive faster in Ukraine Senate to dive into vaccine pricing, drug shortages at hearings
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