Donald Trump appeared today at the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan for the first day of his fraud trial. The case, brought by New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, kicks off an unprecedented stretch in which the former president will run for the nation’s highest office while facing a series of civil and criminal trials.
In this case, James is accusing Trump of inflating his riches by billions of dollars and crossing from hyperbole into fraud. In some years, the attorney general’s office contends, Trump, his adult sons and their family business inflated his riches by more than $2 billion so that they could secure favorable terms on loans from banks.
The charges are civil, not criminal — meaning that Trump faces serious financial penalties, but not prison time. However, my colleague Ben Protess said that the case imperils his company and threatens his image as a master of the business world.
“This is a case that strikes at his public persona as a successful businessman, someone who is not just a billionaire but a billionaire many times over,” Ben said. “Any undermining of that identity is something that really rubs him the wrong way.”
Outside the courtroom today, Trump said the case against him was “a witch hunt” and fired a fusillade of personal attacks on James and the judge overseeing the case, even suggesting that they were criminals. Inside, however, lawyers for the state methodically cast doubt on the value of Trump’s signature properties, including Trump Tower in Manhattan.
The trial is expected to last several weeks. If the attorney general’s office proves its case, the judge could impose a $250 million penalty and bar him from operating a business in New York.
Kevin McCarthy’s job as speaker is under threat
Speaker Kevin McCarthy faced a momentous challenge to his leadership after Representative Matt Gaetz, one of his most outspoken Republican critics, repeated a threat today to try to remove him as retribution for working with Democrats over the weekend to avert a government shutdown. Gaetz said he planned to move ahead with a resolution to oust McCarthy, which would prompt a snap vote on whether to remove him as speaker.
That could leave McCarthy’s future in Democrats’ hands. The Republicans’ slim House majority means that if Democrats vote in unison against McCarthy, Gaetz would need only a handful of members to remove the speaker. But it is not clear if Democrats will rally to rescue McCarthy the way they did to keep the federal government open.
A Nobel Prize was awarded to Covid vaccine pioneers
Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman, whose mRNA breakthrough enabled the speedy development of Covid vaccines that averted tens of millions of deaths, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine today.
Karikó, who grew up in Hungary, toiled for years in a very fragile scientific career at the University of Pennsylvania, where she migrated from lab to lab, relying on one senior scientist after another to take her in. Her ideas about mRNA, which produced breakthroughs little by little over decades, were definitely unorthodox, but also prescient.
Laphonza Butler will be the next senator of California
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California announced last night that he had chosen Laphonza Butler to fill the Senate vacancy left by the death of Dianne Feinstein, following through on his promise to name a Black woman to the seat.
At 44, Butler has been a fixture in California politics for more than a decade. She ran the state’s largest labor union and advised Vice President Kamala Harris before taking the helm at Emily’s List — the fund-raising powerhouse dedicated to electing female candidates and supporters of reproductive rights. We took a look at her life and career.
A streaming gem terrifies with hardly a word
The alien invasion film “No One Will Save You” quietly materialized on Hulu on Sept. 22 and became a streaming darling overnight. The heroine, played by Kaitlyn Dever, is a trauma-ridden outcast living in solitude who barely utters any words during the movie. Instead, its writer-director, Brian Duffield, relied mainly on visual and sound cues to create both the scares and the plot.
Can an at-home test tell if you’re in menopause?
This summer, the company Clearblue began offering an at-home test that it says can help determine which stage women are in during their lead-up to menopause. The test, the company said, can pick up hormone levels and clear up widespread confusion about the yearslong transition.
But some doctors aren’t so sure. While the at-home test may provide a snapshot, they said, hormone levels can change over time, making it difficult to make sense of test results.
They accidentally bought the wrong house
Back in 2018, Cal Hunter made an expensive mistake. Hoping to buy, fix and flip an apartment in downtown Glasgow, he went to a Scottish home auction and made a bid on the wrong lot. As it turned out, for about $12,400, he had become the new owner of a derelict and uninhabitable Victorian-style home far from the city.
To make matters worse, he had borrowed the money from his girlfriend’s parents.
But Hunter, a carpenter by trade, and his girlfriend, Claire Segeren, decided to make it work. After five years, and almost $100,000 of renovations, inspectors finally declared the property safe for habitation.
Have an adaptable night.