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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

Original Publication Date May 29, 2024 - 9:11 PM

Guilty: Trump becomes first former US president convicted of felony crimes

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump became the first former American president to be convicted of felony crimes Thursday as a New York jury found him guilty of all 34 charges in a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election through a hush money payment to a porn actor who said the two had sex.

Trump sat stone-faced while the verdict was read as cheering from the street below could be heard in the hallway on the courthouse's 15th floor where the decision was revealed after more than nine hours of deliberations.

“This was a rigged, disgraceful trial,” an angry Trump told reporters after leaving the courtroom. “The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5 by the people. They know what happened, and everyone knows what happened here.”

Judge Juan M. Merchan set sentencing for July 11, just days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where GOP leaders, who remained resolute in their support in the aftermath of the verdict, are expected to formally make him their nominee.

The verdict is a stunning legal reckoning for Trump and exposes him to potential prison time in the city where his manipulations of the tabloid press helped catapult him from a real estate tycoon to reality television star and ultimately president. As he seeks to reclaim the White House in this year’s election, the judgment presents voters with another test of their willingness to accept Trump’s boundary-breaking behavior.

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The verdict: Inside the courtroom as Donald Trump learned he had been convicted

NEW YORK (AP) — History happened just as everyone was about to leave for the day.

Judge Juan M. Merchan had already summoned Donald Trump, his legal team and prosecutors into the courtroom where the former president has been on trial since mid-April. The judge said he planned to send the jury home in a few minutes — at 4:30 p.m. — with deliberations to resume the next morning.

Trump looked upbeat, having animated chats with his lawyers. A bell that rang in the courtroom whenever the jury had something to tell the court had been silent all day.

In the end, it wasn’t the bell that signaled something was up, but the jingling of a court officer’s keys — a ring full of them clanking as Maj. Michael McKee hustled past the judge’s bench and out a door into a private corridor.

Then, unexpectedly, the judge was back on the bench. There was another note from the jury, signed at 4:20 p.m. Merchan read it aloud.

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Republican lawmakers react with fury to Trump verdict and rally to his defense

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican lawmakers reacted with immediate fury on Thursday as a New York jury convicted former President Donald Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records to influence the 2016 election, speaking out with near unanimity in questioning the legitimacy of the trial and how it was conducted.

House Speaker Mike Johnson said it was a “shameful day in American history” and the charges were “purely political.” Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance said the verdict was a “disgrace to the judicial system.” And Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, said that the decision was “a defeat for Americans who believe in the critical legal tenet that justice is blind.”

Within minutes of the verdict being read, Republicans who have in the past been divided over support for their presumptive GOP presidential nominee found common ground in attacking — with few specifics — the judge, the jury and President Joe Biden, even though the conviction came on state charges in a Manhattan court. As the nation's top federal official, Biden has no say in what happens in the New York City courtroom.

The jury found that Trump falsified the records in a scheme to influence his presidential election through hush money payments to a porn actor who had said she had sex with Trump. Few Republicans mentioned the details of the case but many echoed his repeated assertions that it was a “rigged, disgraceful trial.” He is expected to quickly appeal.

The ferocity of the outcry was remarkable, tossing aside the usual restraints that lawmakers and political figures have observed in the past when refraining from criticism of judges and juries. A lone Republican voice, former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, took that approach, saying ahead of the verdict that the public should “respect the verdict and the legal process.”

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Here's what you should know about Donald Trump's conviction in his hush money trial

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s conviction on 34 felony counts marks the end of the former president’s historic hush money trial, but the fight over the case is far from over.

Now comes the sentencing and the potential for a prison sentence. A lengthy appellate process. And all the while, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee still has to deal with three more criminal cases and a campaign that could see him return to the White House.

After more than nine hours of deliberations over two days, the Manhattan jury found Trump guilty of falsifying business records in the case stemming from a hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump angrily denounced the trial as a “disgrace,” telling reporters he’s an “innocent man.”

Some key takeaways from the jury’s decision:

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Roberts rejects Senate Democrats' request to discuss Supreme Court ethics and Alito flag controversy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Chief Justice John Roberts on Thursday declined an invitation to meet with Democratic senators to talk about Supreme Court ethics and the controversy over flags that flew outside homes owned by Justice Samuel Alito.

Roberts' response came in a letter to the senators a day after Alito separately wrote them and House members to reject their demands that he recuse himself from major Supreme Court cases involving former President Donald Trump and the Jan. 6 rioters because of the flags, which are like those carried by rioters at the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., a member of the Judiciary panel, had written Roberts a week ago to ask for the meeting and that Roberts take steps to ensure that Alito recuses himself from any cases before the court concerning the Jan. 6 attack or the Republican former president's attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat.

“I must respectfully decline your request for a meeting,” Roberts wrote.

Justices decide for themselves when to step aside from cases, Roberts noted. Alito said he concluded nothing about the flags, both of which he said were flown by his wife outside their homes in Virginia and New Jersey, required his recusal.

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US and Britain strike Houthi rebel targets in Yemen after surge in shipping attacks

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. and Britain struck 13 Houthi targets in several locations in Yemen on Thursday in response to a recent surge in attacks by the Iran-backed militia group on ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, three U.S. officials said.

According to the officials, American and British fighter jets and U.S. ships hit a wide range of underground facilities, missile launchers, command and control sites, a Houthi vessel and other facilities. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to provide early details of an ongoing military operation.

Also struck by the U.S. were eight uncrewed aerial vehicles in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen that were determined to be presenting a threat to American and coalition forces.

The Houthis’ Al Masirah satellite news said at least two people were killed and 10 others were wounded in one of the strikes, which hit a radio building in the Red City port city of Hodeida. It aired images of one bloodied man being carried down stairs and others receiving treatment at a hospital. Other strikes hit outside of the rebel-held capital, Sanaa, and elsewhere in the country, with little other information being released — likely signaling that Houthi military sites had been struck.

The strikes came a day after a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone went down in Yemen, and the Houthis released footage they said showed the aircraft being targeted with a surface-to-air missile in a desert region of Yemen’s central Marib province. It was the third such downing this month alone.

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Biden partially lifts ban on Ukraine using US arms in strikes on Russian territory, US officials say

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has given Ukraine the go-ahead to use American weaponry to strike inside Russia for the limited purpose of defending Kharkiv, according to three U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The officials, who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter, underscored that the U.S. policy calling on Ukraine not to use American-provided ATACMS or long-range missiles and other munitions to strike offensively inside Russia has not changed.

Biden's directive allows for U.S.-supplied weapons to be used for "counterfire purposes in the Kharkiv region so Ukraine can hit back against Russian forces that are attacking them or preparing to attack them," one official said.

The move comes as Ukrainian officials have stepped up calls on the U.S. administration to allow their forces to defend themselves against attacks originating from Russian territory. Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, is just 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Russian border.

Biden's decision was first reported by Politico.

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Biden is said to be finalizing plans for migrant limits as part of a US-Mexico border clampdown

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is finalizing plans for a U.S.-Mexico border clampdown that would shut off asylum requests and automatically deny entrance to migrants once the number of people encountered by American border officials exceeded a new daily threshold, with President Joe Biden expected to sign an executive order as early as Tuesday, according to four people familiar with the matter.

The president has been weighing additional executive action since the collapse of a bipartisan border bill earlier this year. The number of illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border has declined for months, partly because of a stepped-up effort by Mexico. Still, immigration remains a top concern heading into the U.S. presidential election in November and Republicans are eager to hammer Biden on the issue.

The Democratic administration’s effort would aim to head off any potential spike in crossings that could occur later in the year, as the fall election draws closer, when the weather cools and numbers tend to rise, two of the people. They were not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing discussions and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The move would allow Biden, whose administration has taken smaller steps in recent weeks to discourage migration and speed up asylum processing, to say he has done all he can do to control the border numbers without help from Congress.

The talks were still fluid and the people stressed that no final decisions had been made.

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The Latest | Slovenia moves to recognize a Palestinian state as Israel fights in Rafah

Slovenia’s government endorsed a motion Thursday to recognize a Palestinian state and asked the parliament to do the same. It comes just two days after Spain, Norway and Ireland recognized a Palestinian state, a move that was condemned by Israel.

In the Gaza Strip, Palestinians in the border city of Rafah have reported heavy fighting in recent days as Israel’s military widens its offensive in the south, seizing control of the entire length of Gaza’s border with Egypt.

Beyond Rafah, Israeli forces were still battling militants in parts of Gaza that the military said it wrested control of months ago — potential signs of a low-level insurgency that could keep Israeli troops engaged in the territory.

Fighting in Rafah has spurred more than 1 million Palestinians to flee, most of whom had already been displaced earlier in the war. They now seek refuge in makeshift tent camps and other war-ravaged areas, where they lack shelter, food, water and other essentials for survival, the U.N. says.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said Thursday that 53 people killed by Israeli strikes had been brought to hospitals in the last 24 hours, as well as 357 wounded people.

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Bruhat Soma rides an unbeaten streak to the Scripps National Spelling Bee title, winning tiebreaker

OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — Bruhat Soma was unbeatable before he arrived at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and neither the dictionary, nor his competitors, nor a lightning-round tiebreaker challenged him on the way to victory.

Bruhat spelled 29 words correctly in the tiebreaker, beating Faizan Zaki by nine, to win the title on Thursday night. He receives a trophy and more than $50,000 in cash and prizes.

The 12-year-old seventh-grader from Tampa, Florida, had won three consecutive bees before arriving at a convention center outside Washington for the most prestigious spelling competition in the English language.

The bee began with eight finalists, the fewest since 2010, and it was clear from the outset that Scripps was trying to fill the 2-hour broadcast window on Ion, a network owned by the Cincinnati-based media company. There were frequent lengthy commercial breaks that allowed spellers to mill about at the side of the stage, chatting with their coaches, relatives and supporters.

And then bee officials announced it was time for the tiebreaker, known as a “spell-off,” before Bruhat and Faizan were even given a chance to spell against each other in a conventional round.

News from © The Associated Press, 2024
The Associated Press

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