Trump indicted: what to expect next
For the second time in two months, Donald Trump will surrender to the authorities to face legal charges, dropping another bomb into the 2024 presidential race. Within minutes, he was fund-raising on the back of the news.
The indictment hasn’t yet been unsealed, but some details are known. The former president and front-runner for the Republican nomination faces seven criminal charges that he mishandled classified documents from his time in the White House and obstructed the government’s efforts to reclaim them. He is expected to turn himself in to the authorities on Tuesday.
Mr. Trump himself broke the news last night, a sign his inner circle had been bracing for the indictment for weeks.
On his Truth Social platform, Mr. Trump called the charges “election interference at the highest level,” adding, “I’m an innocent man.”
Mr. Trump’s legal troubles keep piling up. But this indictment holds greater “legal gravity and political peril,” writes The Times’s Peter Baker. It’s not just a first in American history for a former president, but also involves the nation’s secrets.
Here’s a recap of the other legal matters he faces:
A federal grand jury last month ordered Mr. Trump to pay $5 million to the journalist E. Jean Carroll in a civil case that he sexually abused and then defamed her; Carroll’s legal team has sued Mr. Trump again over subsequent comments he made about her.
In April, the New York authorities charged Mr. Trump with falsifying business documents in connection with hush-money payments to the porn star Stormy Daniels in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.
Mr. Trump is also under investigation in Georgia for possible election tampering in the state; a decision is expected later this summer.
Mr. Trump’s Republican challengers came to his defense. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, his nearest rival in the polls, accused the Biden administration of weaponizing the Justice Department to take on a political rival. And Vivek Ramaswamy, the anti-woke financier, said he would pardon Mr. Trump if elected president.
Mr. Trump gained in the polls the last time he was charged. It is unclear if the public will be so supportive this time. A Yahoo-YouGov poll showed nearly two-thirds of Americans view the charges of removing classified documents and obstructing the investigation as a serious criminal matter; a similar percentage feel that he should not serve as president if convicted.
So far, big-money conservative donors have stayed mum on the latest charges. Many have deserted Mr. Trump after backing him in previous election cycles.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
The wildfire haze is moving on from the Northeast. Cities including New York and Philadelphia have seen air conditions improve, though the noxious smoke is spreading south and west; the F.A.A. has lifted ground stops at LaGuardia and Newark airports. But scientists confirmed that the El Niño weather phenomenon has started, portending hotter temperatures through next year.
China suffers from a lack of inflation. New monthly data shows that producer prices fell 4.6 percent in May, the sharpest year-on-year drop in seven years, while consumer prices rose just 0.2 percent. Though a contrast from Western countries grappling with rapid inflation, the trend suggests China’s faltering economy may soon suffer from deflation.
The White House reportedly braces for the death of its student loan forgiveness program. Biden administration officials are privately worrying that the Supreme Court may strike down its proposal, which would eliminate up to $20,000 in education debt per person for millions of Americans, according to The Wall Street Journal. The White House is preparing less legally risky alternatives to help borrowers.
G.M. electric vehicles will gain access to Tesla’s charging network. The move, which follows a similar announcement by Ford, will vastly expand charger accessibility for G.M. But some in the industry fear that wider adoption of Tesla’s plugs, which are now likely to become the industry standard, will give Elon Musk’s company even greater power over the E.V. market.
The bull market rally is already being tested
Investors shrugged off lousy labor market data and a new round of inflation warnings to push the S&P 500 into bull market territory on Thursday. But that enthusiasm seems to be waning on Friday morning as stock futures suggest markets will open lower.
The bear market lasted 248 trading days, the longest such run since 1948. Since its October low, the S&P 500 has gained 20.04 percent, just enough to tip into a bull market. The benchmark index is still roughly 10 percent away from a record high; some market observers say, therefore, that it’s premature to call this a true bull market.
Investor enthusiasm for artificial intelligence has underpinned this rally. According to Deutsche Bank analysts, the FANG+ Index — a collection of big cap tech stocks, many of which are expanding into A.I. — is up nearly 80 percent since ChatGPT debuted in November.
Now to the bad news … A growing number of economists believe that next week’s Consumer Price Index report will show an uptick in core inflation. That could pressure the Fed to raise interest rates further — if not next week, in July.
And there are signs of economic weakness. The Labor Department on Thursday reported 261,000 new jobless claims, the highest number since October 2021.
Expect a prolonged period of economic uncertainty. That was the message from Mario Draghi, the former Italian prime minister and president of the E.C.B., in a speech on Thursday at M.I.T.
The economist, who once famously vowed to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro, has a bearish view of the future. He warned that industrialized economies face a “volatile cocktail” of persistent inflation, high budget deficits, high interest rates and low potential growth as central banks grapple with a climate crisis, the reshoring of supply chains and the impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Crypto’s protagonists lay out their cases
Regulators and crypto executives are making their cases in the court of public opinion after the S.E.C. sued Binance and Coinbase, two of the sector’s biggest exchanges, this week in an intensifying crackdown on the industry.
“We’ve seen this story before,” the S.E.C. chairman Gary Gensler said on Thursday at a fintech conference, likening widespread noncompliance in crypto to the era of “hucksters” and fraud a century ago. He rejected claims that digital asset businesses cannot comply with the existing rules or do not realize that they apply: “When crypto asset market participants go on Twitter or TV and say they lacked ‘fair notice’ that their conduct could be illegal, don’t believe it.”
Coinbase’s boss says that new regulations are needed. Its C.E.O., Brian Armstrong, addressed the event on Wednesday, saying the rules are opaque and need to be updated. The S.E.C. case is certainly a drag on his company: Moody’s, the ratings agency, downgraded Coinbase on Thursday to negative from stable because of the charges.
Binance is regrouping. The company’s American division said on Thursday that it would no longer allow customers to trade in U.S. dollars, after banks stopped working with it. At the same time, the S.E.C. says it is trying to find “alternative means” to serve legal papers to Binance and Changpeng Zhao, the company’s C.E.O., telling a federal court that it was difficult to determine where he was.
Who’s judging? The S.E.C.’s case against Coinbase in New York was assigned to District Judge Jennifer Rearden. Her nomination last year angered some Democratic lawmakers because she represented Chevron as a lawyer at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. She’s also handling the government’s appeal of the sale of the failed crypto broker Voyager to Binance’s U.S. arm and put the deal on hold in March.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the Federal District Court for D.C. is presiding over the Binance case, and is best known for overseeing the criminal proceedings against two Mr. Trump advisers, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. Next week, she will hold a hearing on an S.E.C. request to freeze Binance’s assets.
“I did not comprehend that ChatGPT could fabricate cases.”
— Steven Schwartz, a lawyer who has practiced in New York for 30 years. He told a federal judge that he regrets using the chatbot to write a legal brief that was found to be filled with fake judicial opinions and legal citations.
Buzzphrase of the week: “spatial computing”
Apple unveiled its first headset for augmented/virtual/mixed reality this week, but none of those words appears in a nine-minute video on its website about the $3,500 Vision Pro goggles. Instead, the company preferred a more obscure term: “spatial computing.”
Apple is trying to put its own stamp on the category. When it comes to spatial computing, “no one knows what that is — and that provides Apple the opportunity to define it,” Marcus Collins, the author of “For the Culture: The Power Behind What We Buy, What We Do and Who We Want to Be,” told DealBook.
Apple has successfully done this in the past. Before the App Store, people didn’t talk about apps; they talked about “software programs.”
And the iPhone and AirPods were neither the first mobile phone nor the first earbuds, but they became runaway hits (despite being priced at a premium to the competition).
Jim Prosser, a communications consultant who has led teams at Twitter and Google, said that the intended audience may be investors and the media rather than consumers. “They are pitching a product to people,” he said. “For the tech press, industry analysts and investors, they’re pitching a concept.”
Elsewhere, Mark Zuckerberg gave his thoughts on Apple’s Vision Pro goggles. “I was really curious to see what they’d ship,” the Meta C.E.O. told employees on Thursday, “and it’s a good sign for our own development that they don’t have any magical solutions to the laws of physics that we haven’t already explored.”
THE SPEED READ
Louisiana passed a bill that would block online services — including Instagram, TikTok and Fortnite — for children under 18 without their parents’ permission. (NYT)
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled against a dog-toy maker whose product closely resembles a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey. (NYT)
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