Wednesday Briefing - The New York Times

Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

The prosecution and the defense made their closing arguments to the jury yesterday in the first criminal prosecution of an American president. Here are live updates.

The prosecutor, Joshua Steinglass, said Donald Trump engaged in a fraud against the American people on the eve of the 2016 election by silencing a porn star’s account of a sexual encounter with him. He said the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels was part of a conspiracy that “could very well be what got President Trump elected.”

Steinglass, who had not yet finished his remarks at our publication time, wove a sweeping story of how Trump, with help from Michael Cohen, his former fixer, and the tabloid The National Enquirer, sought to bury negative news stories before the election. “This was overt election fraud,” he said, “an act in furtherance of the conspiracy to promote Mr. Trump’s election by unlawful means.”

Earlier in the day, Todd Blanche, Trump’s lawyer, spent hours attacking the credibility of Cohen, calling him “the G.L.O.A.T.,” or the “greatest liar of all time.”

Blanche’s calculus is simple: If the jurors do not believe Cohen, that may constitute reasonable doubt, which could make it impossible to convict his client. Blanche at one point called Cohen “the human embodiment of reasonable doubt, literally.”

As soon as Wednesday, the judge, Juan Merchan, will instruct jurors on the relevant law before they begin deliberations. The jury could take anywhere from hours to weeks to reach a verdict. If convicted, Trump faces up to four years in prison.


Israel’s military said its troops were pressing on with their ground assault in the Rafah area yesterday, despite international outrage over a deadly airstrike on a camp on Sunday, which ignited a fire that killed at least 45 people. Here’s the latest.

The Israeli military’s chief spokesman claimed that the bombs Israel had used in the attack were too small to have caused a fire of that size.

Separately, Gazan officials also said that 21 people were killed yesterday in strikes on an area of tents housing displaced people in Al-Mawasi, a designated safe zone near Rafah. The Israeli military, which said it was engaging in close-quarters combat in the area, denied it had carried out any attacks inside the zone.

Displaced Palestinians were fleeing parts of Rafah yesterday, prompted by what residents said was a night of heavy bombardment.

Aid: The temporary pier that the U.S. built to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gaza broke apart in rough seas.

Thirty years ago, South Africans cast their ballots in the country’s first free and fair election. Today, as they head to the polls, the African National Congress may lose its outright majority for the first time since then. Here’s what to know.

A new generation of voters do not have the lived experience of apartheid, and they blame the A.N.C. for joblessness, rampant crime and an economy blighted by electricity blackouts. Voter turnout fell below 50 percent for the first time in 2021. We spoke with many young people across the country who plan to sit out the election.

In depth: For The Times Magazine, John Eligon, our Johannesburg bureau chief, looked at the slow decline of Nelson Mandela’s party.

The feisty, rambunctious Lord Howe Island stick insect has been called “the world’s rarest invertebrate,” driven nearly to extinction by invasive species off the coast of Australia. An intensive conservation program is bringing the bug back, highlighting the possibilities and the challenges of conserving invertebrate animals.

In the world of fashion, Benjamin Talley Smith is the man behind the denim curtain, his name passed from brand to brand, designer to designer, like a secret password.

The global jeans market is expected to reach $121.50 billion by 2030. There is pretty much no brand that doesn’t dream of jeans, and Mr. Smith has worked between the jeans behemoths and the global luxury groups. Khaite’s Danielle jeans are named after his wife, Danielle Robinson.

Denim is a language of its own, reports my colleague Vanessa Friedman, The Times’s chief fashion critic, full of phrases like “whiskers,” “ghost patches,” “chevrons” and “the magic triangle,” a term that refers to the optimum placement of back pockets.

Get it all just right, and it will “make your butt look really good,” Smith said.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thank you for spending part of your morning with us, and see you tomorrow. — Justin

Correction: Yesterday’s newsletter misstated the date when Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House. It was in the 1970s, not in 1970.

You can reach Justin and the team at briefing@nytimes.com.

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