Trump on Trial?

Former U.S. President Donald Trump. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Happy Monday! Weed legalization fight gotten too boring for you? Here’s a new political action committee pushing to open a consciousness-raising new front in the decriminalization policy space: magic mushrooms and other psychedelics. “We have to convince a historically stubborn audience around psychedelics that it’s not the 1960s,” Psychedelic Medicine PAC co-founder Ryan Rodgers tells NBC News this week. “People aren’t going to stare into the sun for their eyes to blow out. People aren’t going to jump off a building. This is about healing trauma.” 

Up to Speed

  •  A Manhattan grand jury will reportedly decide this week whether to bring a felony charge against former President Donald Trump related to an alleged hush money payment paid to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. (More on this below.)
  • A Trump-supporting super PAC filed a state ethics complaint last week against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, accusing him of “leveraging his elected office and breaching his associated duties in a coordinated effort to develop his national profile, enrich himself and his political allies, and influence the national electorate.” Among DeSantis’ alleged malfeasances: continuing to fundraise nationally, touring in support of his new book, and not denouncing national groups that have cropped up with the intent of drafting him to run for president. The complaint relies in part on Florida’s “resign to run” law, which would require DeSantis to resign as governor in order to officially declare his candidacy for president—but which Republicans in the Florida legislature have signaled they’d be open to repealing or amending in the current legislative session, which ends in May.
  • Early voting begins today ahead of next month’s mayoral runoff in Chicago, which pits a centrist pro-police Democrat, Paul Vallas, against county commissioner and progressive champion Brandon Johnson.

Trump: I’m About to Be Arrested

As the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump is never far from the center of the political conversation. But the spotlight may get a lot brighter: The former president may soon face a criminal indictment. Manhattan prosecutors signaled earlier this month that such a move could be near; NBC News reported Friday it could be only days away. Trump himself predicted in a Truth Social post Saturday that he would be “ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK.” (This may have been overwrought: The grand jury reportedly has a final witness to interview Monday and will not vote on whether to bring a charge until after that.)

The basis for the possible charge has nothing to do with Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election—though a Georgia-based investigation into that conduct remains underway—or even his role in the January 6 storming of the Capitol, although a federal special counsel continues to examine that too. Instead, Trump may become the first former president ever charged with a crime thanks to a much smaller scandal: The hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election to keep her from revealing an apparent past affair with Trump.

Back in 2018, Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to federal campaign finance crimes related to his facilitation of the payment. Court filings in that case showed that Trump’s company had kept false records related to the money, logging them as “legal fees” under a non-existent retainer between Trump and Cohen. Cohen testified that Trump knew about the phony accounting, the basis of the possible charge. In New York, falsifying business records is a misdemeanor, but doing so with intent to commit a second crime—an improper campaign donation, say—can be charged as a felony. 

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