Day 800: "Dead on arrival."
1/ The Manhattan grand jury voted to indict Trump for his role in the hush-money payment to a porn star during his 2016 campaign. While the exact charges are unknown because the indictment remains under seal, Trump is reportedly facing more than 30 counts related to business fraud. Trump will be arraigned on Tuesday afternoon and will enter a plea of not guilty at a hearing at the New York State Supreme courthouse in lower Manhattan, at which point the specific charges will be unsealed. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office confirmed that it had contacted Trump’s attorney to “coordinate his surrender” on an indictment that “remains under seal.” Bragg’s office had initially asked for Trump to surrender on Friday, but lawyers for the disgraced former president said the Secret Service needed more time to prepare. Like any criminal defendant, Trump will have his fingerprints and mug shots taken when he is processed. Bragg has been investigating whether Trump falsified business records that violated campaign finance laws as part of the $130,000 paid to Stormy Daniels. Michael Cohen has claimed that he fronted the money used to pay Daniels – at Trump’s direction – during the closing days of the 2016 presidential campaign, and that Trump later reimbursed him, signing monthly checks while serving as president. As part of the scheme, Trump had Trump Organization employees falsely record the repayments as part of a non-existent “retainer” for “legal expenses” to justify the Cohen’s reimbursement. The felony indictment makes Trump the first former president to face criminal charges. Being charged with – or found guilty of – a crime, however, doesn’t disqualify Trump from running for office. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Politico)
Trump and his aides were reportedly caught off guard by the timing of his indictment, believing that any action by the grand jury was still several weeks away. (New York Times / Washington Post)
Trump, meanwhile, took to his personal social network to call the grand jury indictment “political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history.” Trump accused “Radical Left Democrats” of a “Witch-Hunt to destroy the Make America Great Again movement,” calling Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg “a disgrace” while casting himself as “a completely innocent person.” (Politico)
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg defended his office’s decision to indict Trump, rejecting accusations by Republican lawmakers of political persecution as “baseless and inflammatory.” In a letter to the three committee chairmen who are pressing for documents and testimony about Trump’s case, Bragg’s office chastised them for choosing to “collaborate” with Trump, who is now under indictment, while characterizing their demands as “unlawful political interference” in an ongoing criminal case. (Politico / Washington Post / CNN)
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called the indictment “un-American,” and said he would not assist with any extradition request. Trump, a Florida resident, is expected to appear in court on Tuesday in New York. (Politico / CNN)
2/ A federal judge in Texas invalidated the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that insurers and employers offer certain preventive health care services, including some cancer and heart screenings. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that the law’s requirement that ACA plans cover HIV-prevention measures violates federal law guaranteeing religious freedom. The lawsuit was brought by six individuals and two Christian-owned businesses who argued that the mandate would make them “complicit in facilitating homosexual behavior.” In 2018, O’Connor struck down the entire ACA on the grounds that “the individual mandate is unconstitutional.” The Supreme Court, however, upheld the ACA. It was the third time that the Supreme Court ruled the ACA constitutional. (Washington Post / NBC News / Axios / CNN)
- The FDA approved an over-the-counter Narcan, an opioid overdose reversal drug. “The approval marks the first time any form of naloxone will be available without a prescription. The drug, which first received FDA approval in 1971, was originally an injection. The FDA approved the inhaled nasal spray version, more commonly known as Narcan, in 2015. It contains 4 mg of naloxone that can be sprayed into the nose like a common allergy medication.” (Politico)
3/ House Republicans passed legislation that would increase oil drilling and mining on public lands and waters. The Lower Energy Costs Act would increase domestic production of oil, natural gas and coal, cut some environmental regulations, ease permitting restrictions for pipelines, refineries and other projects, and repeal sections of the Inflation Reduction Act – the landmark climate change legislation that Biden signed into law last summer. All but one Republican – including four Democrats – voted in support of the bill. Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, called the package “dead on arrival” in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Biden has also said he’ll veto the measure if it reaches his desk, calling it “a thinly veiled license to pollute.” (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Politico)
4/ A train hauling ethanol derailed and caught fire in Minnesota, triggering an evacuation of residents living near the crash site. The evacuation order was lifted hours later. Twenty-two cars carrying ethanol and corn syrup derailed around 1 a.m., and four caught fire, according to a BNSF Railway statement. The fire burned more than 8 hours. (ABC News / Associated Press / NBC News / NPR / CNN)
5/ The Senate passed a bill to end the national Covid-19 emergency, which Trump declared on March 13, 2020. The resolution cleared the House earlier this year and now heads to Biden’s desk, who said he plans to sign it despite his his opposition to ending the Covid-19 emergency. (CNN / Associated Press / Axios)
6/ Kevin McCarthy – again – declined to say whether the House would consider an assault weapons ban following the Nashville school shooting. When asked about calls for gun reform, McCarthy filibustered the press conference saying: “There’s not one person in America who doesn’t want to try to solve all this. We want to make sure we’re taking all the information. I would say to the nation as a whole that the problem that we [have] today, it’s not just going to be legislation. We’ve got to have a severe conversation here with this country. We’ve got to deal with mental illness. I don’t think one piece of legislation solves this. I think a nation together, working together, solves a problem that’s much bigger than us. We will get all the information, how we deal with any subject, and we’ll work through it.” A Democratic lawmaker, meanwhile, yelled at his Republican colleagues and repeatedly called them “cowards” for not supporting stricter gun measures in the wake of the Nashville school shooting. While several lawmakers walk by Jamaal Bowman without engaging, Republican Thomas Massie stopped to tell Bowman that “there’s never been a school shooting in a school that allows teachers to carry.” Massie then added: “Calm down.” Bowman responded: “Calm down? Children are dying. Nine-year-old children. The solution is not arming teachers.” (ABC News / NBC News)
After a mass shooting at an elementary school in Texas last year, Republican-led states moved expand access to firearms. One of them was Tennessee, where a shooter carrying multiple weapons killed six people, including three children. (New York Times)
Why do Americans own AR-15s? “Self-defense was the most popular reason for owning an AR-15. Other popular answers included recreation, target shooting and hunting, while some pointed to owning an AR-15 as their Second Amendment right.” (Washington Post)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.