1/ Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts related to hush money payments made during his 2016 presidential campaign. Trump, the nation’s 45th president and the Republican Party’s leading presidential candidate in the 2024 race, surrendered himself to the Manhattan district attorney’s office and appeared before a judge for his arraignment, where he entered a not guilty plea to falsifying business records in the first degree. Trump is the first former or sitting American president to be criminally charged and faces a maximum of four years in prison if convicted. While in custody, he was fingerprinted like any felony defendant, but special accommodations were made: Trump did not have a mug shot taken and was not handcuffed. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office allege that Trump “orchestrated” a “scheme” to help his 2016 presidential campaign through a series of hush money payments made by others, and then “repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records” to “cover up crimes.” Prosecutor Chris Conroy told the court that Trump engaged in an “illegal conspiracy” to aid his campaign and “undermine the election.” All 34 counts against Trump are linked to a series of checks reimbursing Michael Cohen for his role in paying off adult film star Stormy Daniels, Playboy model Karen McDougal, and a former Trump Tower doorman who’d claimed to have a story about a child Trump had out of wedlock. Hours before the arraignment, Trump posted on his personal social network that the experience is “SURREAL,” adding, “WOW, they are going to ARREST ME. Can’t believe this is happening in America.” Trump is the focus of three other criminal investigations, including efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and his handling of classified documents after leaving the White House. Following the arraignment, Bragg told reporters: “Everyone stands equal before the law. No amount of money and no amount of power changes that enduring American principle.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Associated Press / NPR / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CBS News / CNBC / ABC News / Axios)
Read: The Indictment
Read: The Statement of Facts
📌 Day 193: Trump advocated for rougher treatment of people in police custody, saying “Don’t be too nice.” He spoke dismissively of the practice by which arresting officers shield the heads of handcuffed suspects as they are placed in police cars. “I said, ‘You could take the hand away, OK,’” Trump said. (Associated Press)
2/ A federal appeals court denied Trump’s request to block his top aides from testifying about him to a grand jury investigating his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. While it’s not clear which aides were covered by the court order, Trump recently lost an emergency bid to prevent advisors like Mark Meadows, Dan Scavino, and Stephen Miller from answering questions. (Politico / CNN / Bloomberg)
3/ Job openings fell below 10 million in February for the first time since May 2021. There were 9.9 million job openings in February, down from 10.6 million in January. Meanwhile, four million workers quit their jobs in February, an increase from January — a sign of confidence they can find a better job elsewhere. The February JOLTS report also showed that the number of new hires decreased to 6.1 million from 6.3 million while layoffs fell to 1.5 million from 1.7 million. (CNBC / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg / ABC News)
4/ The Florida Senate approved a proposed ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. The proposal must still be approved by the House before it reaches the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis. Republicans, however, hold a supermajority in the Legislature, and the bill is expected pass. The bill, S.B. 300, comes one year after DeSantis signed a 15-week ban into law. (Associated Press / CNN / Politico)
5/ Tennessee House Republicans initiated the process of expelling three Democratic lawmakers for “disorderly behavior.” The trio, using a bullhorn, led a protest on the House floor demanding stricter gun laws following the Nashville mass shooting that left three young children and three adults dead. Instead of doing something to end gun violence, Republican lawmakers filed resolutions seeking the expulsion of Reps. Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones, and Justin Pearson for “knowingly and intentionally bring[ing] disorder and dishonor to the House of Representatives.” Republican House Speaker Cameron Sexton also stripped Johnson and Jones of their committee assignments and restricted their access to legislative facilities for their role in the protest in support of gun control. (The Tennessean / Associated Press / Washington Post / CNN / Common Dreams)
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