Happy Friday! We know a lot of people have moved to Florida recently, but this is getting out of hand.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- Former President Donald Trump was indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury as part of special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into his handling of classified documents. Trump was reportedly charged with seven counts, including a violation of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice, and making false statements. He said he is scheduled to appear at a federal courthouse Tuesday in Miami, though the Department of Justice has yet to make the indictment public.
- The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 yesterday—Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joining the court’s liberal wing—in Allen v. Milligan that Alabama’s new congressional map likely violates the Voting Rights Act, which bans limiting the right to vote based on race. The court rejected an interpretation of the law which would have made it harder to challenge maps on grounds that they dilute black votes, and Alabama may be required to redraw its map to include two majority-black districts as a lower court ordered. The court also ruled 7-2 in Health & Hospital Corp. of Marion County v. Talevski, upholding the right to sue nursing homes for mistreating Medicaid patients.
- Early Thursday morning, Ukraine launched what appears to be the core of its long-awaited counteroffensive against Russia in Zaporizhzia, a hotly contested region in the southeast of the country. According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, the Ukrainian military attacked Russian lines with up to 1,500 troops and 150 armored vehicles. Ukraine’s reported use of advanced German-made Leopard tanks and American-made Bradley armored vehicles suggests Ukraine may be deploying units specifically assembled for the counteroffensive.
- The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Cuba has agreed to allow China to build an electronic spying facility on the island to conduct signals intelligence on U.S. communications, though U.S. officials have contested the reports. “We are not aware of China and Cuba developing any type of spy station,” said Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesperson. “This report is not accurate,” said John Kirby, a spokesperson for the National Security Council. The Journal’s reporting relies on unnamed U.S. officials “familiar with highly classified intelligence.”
- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced Thursday it is halting food aid to Ethiopia because “a widespread and coordinated campaign is diverting food assistance” away from those who need it. USAID did not disclose who was behind the diversion, but Ethiopian military units are reportedly receiving some of the aid. Last month, USAID suspended aid to the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray, the center of a recent civil war in the country, also after discovering the diversion of aid.
- The Louisiana legislature passed a bill banning minors from signing up for accounts for social media networks, multiplayer video games, and other content-sharing platforms without parental consent. The bill lacks enforcement penalties and does not explicitly require companies to conduct age verification. The measure will now go to the governor’s desk for approval.
- Homicide rates are down 12 percent year-over-year in nine out of 10 major cities across the country, according to local government data compiled by The Wall Street Journal. New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago experienced declines while Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio saw upticks.
- Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson died yesterday at 93. Robertson founded a cable channel—the Christian Broadcasting Network—and Regent University in Virginia Beach. He also helped the Republican party appeal to Christian voters—pioneering the tactic of courting Iowan evangelicals while running for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988—and notoriously blamed some natural disasters and 9/11 on God’s judgment.
- The Department of Labor reported Thursday that initial jobless claims—a proxy for layoffs—increased by 28,000 week-over-week to a seasonally-adjusted 261,000 claims last week, the highest since October 2021 and an indication the labor market may be cooling.
Trump Indictment, Take Two
If you’re a public relations professional looking to release some bad news without attracting attention, now’s your chance. There’s a volcano erupting in Hawaii, the Northeast is choking on a cloud of wildfire smoke—and, oh yeah, a former president is facing federal charges for the first time in United States history.
Just 305 short days since the FBI searched Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club to retrieve boxes of presidential records and classified documents, the former president has been indicted for his mishandling of those records. The indictment reportedly includes seven charges, including willful retention of national defense information under the Espionage Act, obstruction, false statement, and conspiracy. Though the details of the indictment aren’t yet public, Trump’s allies have already leapt to defend him.
We’ve previously reported the events that led to these charges, but here’s the recap in case you don’t remember every twist of the roller coaster: