The Hill’s Morning Report — What is Trump’s alleged crime?

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What is Trump’s alleged crime? 

The question in a New York City courtroom today: What are the specific charges against former President Trump?

And tonight at Mar-a-Lago: What does the 2024 presidential candidate tell Americans about his fitness for office while campaigning as a criminal defendant?

Trump will be placed under arrest today and informed that he’s charged with 34 felony counts for falsification of business records, none misdemeanors, Yahoo News investigative journalist Michael Isikoff reports, citing unnamed sources. The former president, guarded by Secret Service agents, will be arraigned without handcuffs. No mug shot will be taken.

▪ The Hill: 13 questions and answers on Trump’s indictment.

The Wall Street Journal timeline: A history of the Trump hush-money saga.

Trump, who has denied any wrongdoing and will plead not guilty, faces charges tied to the alleged concealment of $130,000 in hush money paid to an adult film star, Stormy Daniels. Although hush payments are not illegal, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) is thought to be preparing to prosecute Trump for allegedly masking as legal fees reimbursements for hush payments funneled through his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, reports The Hill’s Rebecca Beitsch. 

Bragg has elevated charges against the former president to Class E felonies, the lowest level of felonies in the New York State penal code, on grounds that the alleged conduct was intended to conceal another underlying crime, according to Yahoo News. Under the New York State penal code, a conviction for the class E felony of falsifying business records can result in a prison term of up to four years.

“No one gets jail time for that as a first offender, an unnamed New York law enforcement official told Yahoo News.

Trump, reacting to the Yahoo News report Monday night, issued a hostile statement on social media fuming about the situation and accusing the prosecution of illegality and bias: 

Wow! District Attorney Bragg just illegally LEAKED the various points, and complete information, on the pathetic Indictment against me. I know the reporter and so, unfortunately, does he. This means that he MUST BE IMMEDIATELY INDICTED. Now, if he wants to really clean up his reputation, he will do the honorable thing and, as District Attorney, INDICT HIMSELF. He will go down in Judicial history, and his Trump Hating wife will be, I am sure, very proud of him! 

▪ The Hill: Will Trump, always voluble at rallies, in interviews and on social media, be muzzled by the presiding judge?

The Associated Press: Bragg’s record has been criticized and mischaracterized by some on social media. AP did some fact checking.

CNBC: Trump’s lawyers did not want cameras in the courtroom, arguing such coverage today would raise security concerns and create a “circus-like atmosphere.”

The news frenzy, plus precautions against violence in New York, Washington and other cities, and the spectacle of a former president entering a plea in a criminal case in his hometown signal a new Trump phase for American politics. The man who in the past taunted the judicial system to “lock up” critics and challengers will spend months, if not more, arguing for the system to find him innocent.

It is evidence of an evolution in politics that accelerated during the Clinton era in 1998, The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports. Critics suggest the impeachment and subsequent acquittal of former President Clinton lowered the bar for Trump’s impeachment by the House (twice) and subsequent Senate acquittals. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’s declaration last week that Florida would not cooperate with any extradition request from New York was interpreted as political preservation. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) called for Bragg to be jailed.  

Because Trump remains under criminal investigation in Georgia and by the Justice Department, potential state or federal charges against Trump will similarly be branded by diehard supporters and some GOP elected officials as political overreach.

The Hill’s The Memo: Trump arraignment promises to further inflame the political world. 

But without knowing the specific charges or seeing the evidence, the public has taken a cautious approach. Sixty percent of Americans said they approved of the Trump indictment, according to a CNN poll conducted between March 31 and April 1 by SSRS. Nonetheless, more than three-quarters of respondents said they believed politics played at least some role in the decision to indict the former president.

Trump, who will resume campaigning, appears to envision a two-track defense: one inside the judicial system and the other in the public arena, where he believes he can control events and trounce his foes.

The former president has long been known for hiring and firing lawyers in business, his private life and while in the White House. This week he hired white-collar defense attorney Todd Blanche of New York (Politico). Former Brooklyn prosecutor turned defense attorney Joe Tacopina has been Trump’s most recent public face on television. Also helping to defend Trump: lawyer Susan Necheles. Tacopina was initially hired by the Trump team in January for defense in a civil lawsuit brought by magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll, who has accused the former president of raping her in the mid-1990s. That case continues (The New York Post).

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Tampa Bay Times: DeSantis quietly signed a permitless carry gun bill into law on Monday. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called it “the opposite of common sense gun safety,” adding that a history of mass shootings in the state mean Floridians, “who have paid a steep price for state and congressional inaction on guns from Parkland to Pulse Nightclub to Pine Hills, deserve better.”

The Washington Post and CBS: Who is GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy and why is he running? The candidate told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt he is critical of Trump’s indictment: “It might be more convenient for candidates like me if Trump were compromised or not even in the race. But this is not how we should decide who runs the country.  

The Hill: Lower petroleum production announced by OPEC+ is expected to raise U.S. gasoline prices, which risks consumer backlash aimed at the Biden administration. 



A judicial election in Wisconsin today is serving as Democrats’ first major test ahead of 2024 over whether the party can continue to galvanize voters over the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, writes The Hill’s Caroline Vakil. Wisconsinites will head to the polls Tuesday to choose their next nominee to fill a vacant seat on the state Supreme Court. 

Though technically nonpartisan, the two candidates who notched a spot in the race, Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz and former state Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, are seen as the liberal and conservative candidates, respectively. The race will not only test whether key issues like abortion and redistricting can still energize Democrats’ base months after the November midterms, but also potentially tilt the court in the party’s favor in a key battleground state that could see legal battles play out over the 2024 election. 

FiveThirtyEight: What you need to know about the Wisconsin court and Chicago mayoral elections.

The Washington Post: Paul Vallas, Brandon Johnson court Latino voters ahead of Chicago mayoral runoff.

The Nation: Chicago’s election will shape the future of public safety in America. 

Looking ahead to 2024, President Biden’s advisers and close allies don’t expect him to announce his reelection bid any time soon. Some now believe it could come as late as July, or perhaps even the fall. The president’s waiting game has left many ambitious Democrats and would-be staffers with their 2024 plans on hold after they initially thought he would launch a campaign soon after the Christmas break. But as Axios reports, the timeline also could be affected by his advisers’ desire for strong initial fundraising numbers to avoid news reports about a lack of enthusiasm or vulnerability. 

Down the ballot, Democrats have targeted 31 Republican-held districts in their fight to retake control of the House in 2024, laying out an aggressive map and signaling early plans to go on offense. Reported by NBC News, the list is a blend of ultra-competitive districts in places like New York’s Hudson Valley and Long Island, including the seat held by embattled Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.); regions Biden won in 2020; and conservative-leaning districts where the party sees an extreme and vulnerable GOP incumbent, such as Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.).

The Hill: Afghanistan war veteran Kellen Curry announced Monday he will challenge Santos in a New York Republican primary. Santos has not said if he will seek reelection in 2024.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee executive director Julie Merz said in an interview that the party’s strategy is to present Biden and the Democrats as “team normal” against a chaotic band of “MAGA extremists” among House Republicans.

“There are no more Republican moderates,” Merz said. “They had an opportunity very early in the Speaker’s vote to stand up to the most vocal MAGA extremists and say, ‘This isn’t OK. This isn’t the direction we want our caucus to go.’ And they folded.”

A bill banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy passed the Florida Senate on Monday, moving it one step closer to the governor’s desk. Amid shouted protests in the Senate chamber from the bill’s opponents, the Senate voted 26 to 13 to pass the “Heartbeat Protection Act.” Two Republicans joined all Democrats in voting against the legislation (The Hill). If the bill hits DeSantis’ desk following likely approval from the state’s House Republicans, its passage will add to a long list of criticisms facing the governor, who is considered a likely candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination. 

Disney CEO Bob Iger recently called DeSantis anti-business and “anti-Florida” after the governor retaliated at the company for opposing Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act — referred to by opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — that restricts classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity (Reuters). DeSantis has also been criticized for his involvement in Florida schools and universities.

Before this year, DeSantis had already signed a bill to ban transgender athletes from women’s and girls’ public school teams and banned more than 40 percent of math textbooks that publishers submitted for review, which he said contained “woke” ideology (Vox).

The New York Times: DeSantis’s war against mainstream media outlets is poised to wound even his boosters in the conservative press. Is the Florida governor biting the hand that feeds him?

The Associated Press: A college in upheaval: War on “woke” sparks fear in Florida.

A federal court last week ordered the Texas library system to return removed books to circulation and update catalogs to reflect that the books — many of which concerned LGBTQ+ or racism-related issues — are available for checkout. The lawsuit coincides with an increase in school book bans, which have emerged as a political and cultural flashpoint (The Hill). 

The Washington Post: Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) chief of staff Roy McGrath dies after confrontation with FBI.


Republicans are focusing on tougher work requirements for welfare programs as they work out potential demands to secure from Democrats as a part of a deal to keep the nation from defaulting later this year, writes The Hill’s Aris Folley. While the conference is still working out the details, some Republicans have set their sights on programs like SNAP, often referred to as the food stamps program, and Medicaid for potential changes. The idea is already drawing the ire of Democrats who have panned such changes as a “non-starter.”

Work requirements for welfare programs are not a new issue on Capitol Hill; once pressed by Republicans during the 1990s, then-President Clinton in 1996 signed a controversial welfare reform bill that substantially reconstructed the nation’s welfare system by giving state governments more autonomy over welfare services while also reducing the federal government’s role (Politico). 

While stocks were up Monday morning as the latest failures in the financial sector receded further in the market’s rearview mirror, lawmakers in both parties are saying additional congressional action on the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank is necessary, writes The Hill’s Tobias Burns.

“I certainly think the CEO and the leadership of SVB should be subpoenaed. If you look at their stock transactions, these guys offloaded a lot of worthless equity,” Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) told The Hill on Thursday before lawmakers headed out for two weeks of district work. “They had to know it was worthless. They made off like bandits, but of course the American taxpayer got stuck with the bill.”

The Washington Post: Silicon Valley Bank’s risk model flashed red. So its executives changed it.



Finland today is set to become the 31st member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the largest military alliance in the world, The Hill’s Ellen Mitchell reports. Speaking to reporters a day ahead of a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday that it was “a historic week” as the alliance “will raise the Finnish flag for the first time here at the NATO headquarters. It will be a good day for Finland’s security, for Nordic security, and for NATO as a whole.” 

The historic moment comes after Turkey last week decided to allow Finland to move ahead on joining NATO without its neighbor Sweden, raising concerns that Stockholm’s accession into the military alliance may face lengthy delays. The two Nordic countries sent in applications to join NATO in May in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, putting an end to dual policies of neutrality and military non-alignment. But as all 30 members of the alliance must approve the accession, Turkey has put the hold on Sweden’s bid in what experts view as a power play by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

“This is the nerve-wracking part, that it’s really not clear what the timeline is,” said Elisabeth Braw, an expert on European defense issues at the American Enterprise Institute. “To a large part it’s about political theater, which makes it so unpredictable.”  

Politico EU: Turkey is the headache NATO needs.

The Washington Post: What to know about Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s reelection loss, Finland’s future with NATO.

As Ukrainian leaders vow to retake all their territory occupied by Russia, Moscow has readied elaborate defenses, especially in Crimea — the illegally annexed peninsula. The area around the small town of Medvedivka, near a crossing to mainland Ukraine, is webbed with an elaborate trench system stretching several miles. Satellite images provided to The Washington Post show that Moscow has built dozens of similar defenses.

“The Russian military, apparently, understands that Crimea will have to be defended in the near future,” said Ian Matveev, a Russian military analyst.

Meanwhile, signs are everywhere that a Ukrainian offensive is coming in the next month or so. New Western weapons that could prove critical in assaults — including German Leopard 2 tanks and American mine-clearing vehicles — are arriving in the country, and thousands of recruits are training in units tailored for offensives. Kyiv’s military command is holding back elite soldiers from the worst of the fighting in the east to send them instead into the coming campaign (The New York Times).

Reuters: Saudi Arabian crown prince acts to realign Middle East dynamics amid concern over U.S. support.

The New York Times: Ex-leader of Kosovo pleads not guilty to war crimes charges.

Reuters: China’s intensifying nuclear-armed submarine patrols add complexity for the U.S. and its allies.


■ Trump indictment: The political sky is not falling, by Richard Aquila, opinion contributor, The Hill. 

■ Are surprise oil production cuts a Saudi message to Washington? by Simon Henderson, opinion contributor, The Hill.


📲 Ask The Hill: Share a news query tied to an expert journalist’s insights: The Hill launched something new and (we hope) engaging via text with Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack. Learn more and sign up HERE.

The House will hold a pro forma session at 11 a.m. on Thursday. Lawmakers will return to the Capitol beginning April 17. 

The Senate meets at 10 a.m. on Thursday for a pro forma session.  

The president and Vice President Harris at 11:30 a.m. will receive the President’s Daily Brief in the Oval Office. Biden will meet at 2:45 p.m. with PCAST, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

The vice president will preside at 5:15 p.m. over a promotion ceremony for Jacob Middleton, detailed as director of National Security Space Policy, to the rank of brigadier general.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken ​​is in Brussels where he will participate in the 10th U.S.-EU Energy Council meeting.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will speak at 9 a.m. to the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and the Economic Revitalization Summit on Energy Communities. She will speak at 1:30 p.m. about tax filing season and conduct a ceremonial swearing-in of Danny Werfel as IRS Commissioner. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra will travel to Thornton, Colo., to participate in a roundtable discussion about reducing drug prices held at Thornton Active Adult Center at 11:30 a.m. CST, accompanied by Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-Colo.). The secretary and Caraveo will hold a press conference at 12:40 p.m. CST.

The White House daily press briefing is scheduled at 1:30 p.m.



🏀 After blitzing their way to the title game, the University of Connecticut Huskies proved their rock-solid chin and cool hand in turning back the San Diego State Aztecs 76-59 to win their fifth NCAA title in the past 25 years. San Diego State, meanwhile, had never before advanced past the round of 16 (The New York Times). 

“The group had a lot of confidence for how we played the majority of the season,” Coach Dan Hurley said on the court after the game. “We knew we were the best team in the tournament going in, and we just had to play like it.”

Sports Illustrated: Jim Nantz had a classy message in his last sign-off from the men’s final four.

NPR: The UConn Huskies beat San Diego State to claim its 5th men’s basketball championship.


A highly drug-resistant bacteria linked to eyedrops imported from India has prompted concerns that the strain could gain a foothold in U.S. health care settings, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infectious disease specialists said the strain had not been previously detected in the United States, and that it was particularly difficult to treat with existing antibiotics.

Three deaths, eight cases of blindness and dozens of infections have been traced to EzriCare artificial tears in recent months, according to the CDC, leading to a widespread recall of the product. An inspection report published Friday by the Food and Drug Administration showed the manufacturer did not follow proper protocol to prevent contamination. 

An 11-day inspection of the facility in India resulted in 11 observations by the FDA, including a “manufacturing process that lacked assurance of product sterility,” specifically for batches of product that were manufactured between December 2020 and April 2022 and shipped to the U.S. At the time of the February recall, there were already 55 reports of adverse events including eye infections, permanent loss of vision and at least one death with a bloodstream infection (CNN and The New York Times).

CBS News: FDA finds dirty equipment, dozens of other issues at eye drops factory linked to deadly outbreak.

The New York Times: What to know about bacteria and eye drops.

Scientists in Germany say they’ve been able to make a nasal vaccine that can shut down a COVID-19 infection in the nose and throat, where the virus gets its first foothold in the body. Two doses of the vaccine, which is made with a live, but weakened form of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, blocked the virus from copying itself in hamsters’ upper airways — resulting in so-called “sterilizing immunity,” and preventing illness (CNN).

The New York Times: Two deadly Marburg virus outbreaks in Africa alarm global health experts.

The Washington Post: Fighting for costly drugs: “I never know when it’s going to end.”

The Atlantic: Hiccups have a curious connection to cancer. 

Reuters: U.S. to build a $300 million database to fuel Alzheimer’s research.


And finally … 🚀 NASA on Monday named the first woman and the first African American ever assigned as astronauts to a lunar mission, introducing them as part of the four-member team chosen to fly on what would be the first crewed voyage around the moon in more than 50 years (Reuters). 

The astronauts are NASA’s Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover and Christina Koch — who participated in the first all-woman spacewalk — and Jeremy Hansen of the Canadian Space Agency. The Hill’s Amy Thompson writes that in 2024, they will fly a crewed repeat of the Artemis I test flight circling the moon, with astronauts on board to ensure that the Orion capsule has what it takes to keep people safe out in deep space.  

“It’s so much more than the four names that have been announced,” Glover said during the Monday announcement at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. “We need to celebrate this moment in human history. … It is the next step in the journey that will get humanity to Mars.”

CNN: The four astronauts NASA picked for the first crewed moon mission in 50 years.

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The Hill’s Morning Report — What is Trump’s alleged crime?

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