The Hill’s 12:30 Report — Manhattan DA faces historic test with possible Trump indictment
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TALK OF THE MORNING
Will he? Won’t he? Manhattan DA faces historic test with Trump:
It’s a tightrope that nearly anyone would hate to be on. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is facing the prospect of becoming the first prosecutor ever to take on an indicted former president.
But former President Trump, who inspired an angry mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol to try to keep his hold on the White House, isn’t just any former president. Prone to bombastic statements, Trump sent off a ripple effect this week when he bizarrely announced that he would be indicted by a grand jury over a payment to an adult film actress during the 2016 campaign. That indictment didn’t come down, and the earliest the grand jury can now take it up is Monday.
Meanwhile, Bragg faces mounting pressure over the strength of his case, his motives and even whether he’ll simply drop the case.
Bragg’s even been brought into a back-and-forth with Trump allies in the House GOP ranks, who have sought information about the probe.
The Hill’s Zach Schonfeld and Amie Parnes explore the factors (and the enormous pressure!) Bragg’s facing here.
Democrats have jumped to Bragg’s defense. “The process and the law should just play out, and we should stay the hell out of it,” Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) said in a report from The Hill.
Timothy Parlatore, an attorney for Trump, testified in December before a grand jury in Washington, D.C., investigating the former president’s handling of classified documents, Parlatore confirmed to The Hill.
It’s Friday, March 24. I’m Elizabeth Crisp, filling in for Cate, with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Did someone forward this newsletter to you? Sign up here.
💌 Programming note
A new addition to the 12:30 Report family!:
Cate Martel has some exciting news! She has a new baby and is out for the next few months on maternity leave! 🍼💕
Liz Crisp is taking the reins of the 12:30 Report while she’s out, so please send her all of your comments, pitches and funny animal videos.
McCarthy meets with mother of Ashli Babbitt:
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) met with the mother of slain Jan. 6 rioter Ashli Babbitt at the Capitol this week.
CBS reports Micki Witthoeft met with McCarthy just steps away from where a police officer shot her daughter as Babbitt attempted to climb through a broken window leading to the Speaker’s Lobby during the chaotic 2021 attack on the Capitol.
“McCarthy had little to say about the meeting to reporters, telling them only that ‘she requested the meeting,'” according to CBS.
Remember: Just last month, McCarthy told reporters that he disagreed with claims that Babbitt was “murdered” or that the case hadn’t been handled correctly. The Capitol Police in August 2021 announced the officer would not face disciplinary action after an internal investigation.
“I think the police officer did his job,” McCarthy said.
Witthoeft was arrested outside the Capitol earlier this year on the second anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot for illegally blocking traffic and disobeying an order from police, they said at the time. The charges later were dropped.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) is expected to lead a group of lawmakers on a trip to the D.C. jail today to see the conditions for people still being held there after storming the Capitol on Jan. 6.
TikTok blasts House members after blistering hearing:
A top TikTok executive claims a House’s hearing on the platform this week was driven by xenophobia. (The Hill)
“We’re committed to providing a safe, secure platform, that fosters an inclusive place for our amazing, diverse communities to call home. It’s a shame today’s conversation felt rooted in xenophobia,” Vanessa Pappas, TikTok’s COO, wrote on Twitter. “Thank you to our employees who work tirelessly to protect our platform & community.”
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew faced a grilling from lawmakers over the popular video sharing app’s ties to the Chinese government and security concerns for American users.
The official TikTok Twitter account accused the House Commerce panel of “political grandstanding” as lawmakers have pondered banning the social media platform in the U.S.
The Hill’s Ines Kagubare and Jared Gans explored four key takeaways from the hearing.
✈️ In the White House
Biden to set out on ‘Investing in America’ tour:
President Biden will kick off a three-week tour touting his legislative accomplishments with a stop in North Carolina on Tuesday.
The “Investing in America” tour will see Biden, Vice President Harris, first lady Jill Biden, second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, Cabinet members and other White House officials trek to more than 20 states to spread the administration’s message and highlight activity that’s come from key legislation.
The officials are expected to meet Monday to coordinate their talking points.
A sampling of other highlights on the schedule (per the White House):
- Senior adviser and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will head to Tennessee to discuss electric vehicle technology.
- Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will travel to Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma to visit airports and air traffic control facilities.
- Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will go to Houston to visit an orphan well site that is being plugged.
WHY IT MATTERS: Biden is heading back to a swing state to kick off the tour after unveiling his latest spending proposal in Pennsylvania earlier this month. Both could be crucial as Biden gears up for a re-election bid. Former President Trump narrowly defeated Biden in North Carolina in 2020. Other stops on the “Investing in America” road show include Georgia, Nevada, Michigan and other potential battlegrounds.
The effort comes after a recent Washington Post/ABC poll found 62 percent of Americans said they do not believe Biden has accomplished much since taking office.
US, Canada agree to close asylum loophole:
Amid President Biden‘s brief trip to Canada this week, the United States and its neighbor to the north have reportedly reached an agreement to close a loophole in refugee policies that will allow Canada to turn away asylum seekers who attempt to cross the U.S.-Canada border at unofficial points of entry.
The deal to modify the two-decade-old Safe Third Country Agreement is expected to be announced today after Biden meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The agreement, which already allowed rejection at official points of entry, pushes refugees to seek protection in the first safe country they reach.
Biden and Trudeau will hold a joint news conference that you can watch here.
Trump picks Waco for next rally; what does it mean?:
Former President Trump, facing multiple legal challenges and investigations, will hold his first large-scale rally of the 2024 presidential campaign this weekend in Waco, Texas.
The Saturday event happens to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the infamous deadly standoff between federal agents and Branch Davidian followers of David Koresh that took place in Waco.
While Trump has not publicly linked the rally to the Waco anniversary, The New York Times took a deep dive into the symbolism and timing behind the choice.
The significance isn’t lost on some of Trump’s most ardent supporters.
“Waco was an overreach of the government, and today the New York district attorney is practicing an overreach of the government again,” one Tennessee retiree who plans to travel to the rally told The Times.
Trump, who has predicted that he’ll soon be indicted in a New York case involving an alleged hush money payment to an adult film actress, posted to his Truth Social on Friday that the “potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our Country.”
“Why & who would do such a thing?” writes Trump, who has repeatedly taken aim at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in recent days. “Only a degenerate psychopath that truely (sic) hates the USA!”
Following a reader tip, The New York Times has tracked down a large, gifted painting of Trump that went missing after he left the White House in 2021. Spoiler alert: It’s at the former president’s Doral golf club “in a small space leading to electrical rooms” and “next to a stack of old yoga mats.” Read the full story here. 🖼️
🐻 In other news
Wanted — Bear hugs in New Mexico:
The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish is in search of some “professional bear huggers” to add to the team — in other words: A new conservation officers.
“Must have ability to hike in strenuous conditions, have the courage to crawl into a bear den, and have the trust in your coworkers to keep you safe during the process,” reads a Facebook post on the job openings.
The job description doesn’t specifically say physical bear hugs are involved, despite the title.
BUT! it’s also not ruled out, and the department has photos of conservation officers cradling bear cubs in its job announcement.
Nexstar’s WJW has more on the unusual New Mexico job posting here.
It’s the latest bit of bear humor from the conservation sector. Last month, the National Parks Service tweeted some advice for bear encounters: “If you come across a bear, never push a slower friend down…even if you feel the friendship has run its course.”
Don’t look up (or go ahead if you are really interested in asteroids):
An asteroid will “safely” pass within 100,000 miles of Earth on Saturday, according to NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office.
“While close approaches are a regular occurrence, one by an asteroid of this size (140-310 ft) happens only about once per decade, providing a unique opportunity for science,” the office said on Twitter, adding the event will be “good practice … in the future if a potential asteroid threat were ever discovered.”
The asteroid is on track to pass between the Earth and the moon, coming closest to the planet at 3:51 p.m. on Saturday, but NASA advises this evening will give the best opportunity to see the asteroid by looking to the southeast.
🐥 Notable tweets
Longing for the ‘magic minute’:
Bloomberg congressional reporter Jack Fitzpatrick tweeted a notable line from Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) this week: “I miss the magic minute more than I miss any other perk of being majority leader,” the former Democratic leader quipped during a House Appropriations Financial Services Subcommittee hearing. The “magic minute,” of course, allows House leaders to talk as long as they want, rather than the limited time afforded regular members.
Stumpy still standing:
The little cherry blossom tree affectionately known as “Stumpy” is still in the Tidal Basin, blooming with the rest of them right now. Local reporter Matt Blitz tweeted a photo early Friday morning of the blooming tree.
⏱ On tap
The House convened at 9 a.m., and Senate is done for the week. President Biden is in Canada and Vice President Harris is in D.C.
- 9 a.m.: President Biden received his daily briefing in Ottawa.
- 9 a.m.: House Ways & Means began a hearing with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai outlining the Biden administration’s agenda.
- 11 a.m.: House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) held his weekly news conference.
- 11:10 a.m.: The president took part in an official welcome ceremony and book signing in Ottawa.
- 11:30 a.m.: Biden began a bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
- 1 p.m.: Vice President Harris will swear in Eric Garcetti as ambassador to India.
- 2 p.m.: Biden addresses the Canadian Parliament.
- 3:45 p.m.: Biden and Trudeau hold a joint news conference.
- 6:15 p.m.: The Bidens attend a gala dinner hosted by the Trudeaus.
- 9:25 p.m.: The Bidens will leave Ottawa en route to Delaware, where they will spend the weekend.
All times Eastern.
🍸 In lighter news
Today is National Cocktail Day. Whether you celebrate with a Manhattan, margarita, martini or mocktail, observe responsibly. Cheers!
And because you made it this far, check out this video of a pup getting the royal treatment it deserves! 👑
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