What you need to know about Trump’s indictment
A Manhattan grand jury has indicted Donald Trump over his role in paying hush money to a porn star, making him the first former president to face criminal charges. It’s a pivotal moment in U.S. politics — there was an audible on-air gasp when Fox News anchors reported the news on Thursday — with ramifications for the 2024 presidential race, policymaking and more.
Here are the most important things to note so far.
Mr. Trump is likely to turn himself in on Tuesday, which will see the former president be fingerprinted and photographed in a New York State courthouse. (Prosecutors for the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, wanted Trump to surrender on Friday, but were rebuffed by the former president’s lawyers, according to Politico.) Afterward, Mr. Trump would be arraigned and would finally learn the charges against him and be given the chance to enter a plea. The former president has consistently denied all wrongdoing.
Mr. Trump and his advisers, who were at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Thursday, were caught off guard by the announcement, believing some news reports that suggested an indictment wouldn’t come for weeks. The former president blasted the news, describing it in all-caps as “an attack on our country the likes of which has never been seen before” on Truth Social, the social network he founded.
The case revolves in part around the Trump family business. Charges by the Manhattan district attorney arise from a five-year investigation into a $130,000 payment by the fixer Michael Cohen to the porn actress Stormy Daniels in 2016, before the presidential election that year.
The Trump Organization reimbursed Mr. Cohen — but in internal documents, company executives falsely recorded the payment as a legal expense and invented a bogus legal retainer with Mr. Cohen to justify them. Falsifying business records is a crime in New York. But to make it a felony charge, prosecutors may tie the crime to a second one: violating election law.
The fallout will be wide, and unpredictable. Democrats and Republicans alike used the news to underpin a flurry of fund-raising efforts. (Among them, of course, was Mr. Trump’s own presidential campaign.)
It’s unclear how the indictment will affect the 2024 race. Mr. Trump, who can run for president despite facing criminal charges, is leading in early polls. Still, his potential opponents for the Republican nomination — including Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Mike Pence, Mr. Trump’s former vice president — harshly criticized the move. House Republicans have also flocked to his defense, potentially increasing the chances of gridlock in Washington.
But while the charges may give Mr. Trump a boost in the G.O.P. primary, they could also hurt his standing in the general election against President Biden.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
European inflation remains stubbornly high. Consumer prices rose 6.9 percent on an annualized basis across the eurozone in March, below analysts’ forecasts. But core inflation accelerated, a sign that Europe’s cost-of-living crisis is not easing. In the U.S., investors will be watching for data on personal consumption expenditure inflation, set to be released at 8:30 a.m.
A Swiss court convicts bankers of helping a Putin ally hide millions. Four officials from the Swiss office of Gazprombank were accused of failing to conduct due diligence on accounts opened by a concert cellist who has been nicknamed “Putin’s wallet.” The case was seen as a test of Switzerland’s willingness to discipline bankers for wrongdoing.
More Gulf nations back Jared Kushner’s investment firm. Sovereign funds in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have poured hundreds of millions into Affinity Partners, The Times reports. The revelation underscores efforts by Mr. Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, and others in the Trump orbit to profit from close ties they forged with Middle Eastern powers while in the White House.
Lawyers for a woman accusing Leon Black of rape ask to quit the case. A lawyer from the Wigdor firm, who had been representing Guzel Ganieva, told a court on Thursday that the attorney-client relationship had broken down and that Ms. Ganieva wanted to represent herself. It’s the latest twist in the lawsuit by Ms. Ganieva, who has said she had an affair with the private equity mogul that turned abusive; Black has denied wrongdoing.
Richard Branson’s satellite-launching company is halting operations. Virgin Orbit said that it failed to raise much-needed capital, and would cease business for now and lay off nearly all of its roughly 660 employees. It signals the potential end of the company after it suffered a failed rocket launch in January.
A brutal quarter for dealmaking
Bankers and lawyers began the year with modest expectations for M.&A. Rising interest rates, concerns about the economy and costly financing had undercut what had been a booming market for deals.
But the first three months of 2023 proved to be even more difficult than most would have guessed, as the volume of transactions fell to its lowest level in a decade.
About 11,366 deals worth $550.5 billion were announced in the quarter, according to data from Refinitiv. That’s a 22 percent drop in the number of transactions — and a 45 percent plunge by value.
That’s bad news for bankers who had been hoping for any improvement from a dismal second half of 2022. (They’ve already had to grapple with another bit of bad news: Wall Street bonuses were down 26 percent last year, according to New York State’s comptroller.)
The outlook for improvement isn’t clear. While the Nasdaq is climbing, there’s enough uncertainty and volatility in the market — particularly given concerns around banks — to deter many would-be acquirers from doing risky deals. Then again, three months ago some dealmakers told DealBook that they expected their business to pick up in the middle of 2023.
Here’s how the league tables look: JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and the boutique Centerview Partners led investment banks, with a combined 58 percent of the market. And Sullivan & Cromwell, Wachtell Lipton and Goodwin Procter were the big winners among law firms, with 46 percent market share.
Biden wants new rules for lenders
The Biden administration on Thursday called on regulators to toughen oversight of America’s midsize banks in the wake of the crisis triggered by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, as policymakers shift from containing the turmoil to figuring out how to prevent it from happening again.
Much of the focus was on reviving measures included in the Dodd-Frank law passed in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. These include reapplying stress tests and capital requirements used for the nation’s systemically important banks to midsize lenders, after they were rolled back in 2018 during the Trump administration.
Here are the new rules the White House wants to see imposed:
Tougher capital requirements and oversight of lenders. At the top of the list is the reinstatement of liquidity requirements (and stress tests on that liquidity) for lenders with $100 billion to $250 billion in assets like SVB and Signature Bank, which also collapsed.
Plans for managing a bank failure and annual capital stress tests. The administration sees the need for more rigorous capital-testing measures designed to see if banks “can withstand high interest rates and other stresses.”
It appears the White House will go it alone on these proposals. “There’s no need for congressional action in order to authorize the agencies to take any of these steps,” an administration official told journalists.
Lobbyists are already pushing back, saying more oversight would drive up costs and hurt the economy. “It would be unfortunate if the response to bad management and delinquent supervision at SVB were additional regulation on all banks,” Greg Baer, the president and C.E.O. of the Bank Policy Institute, said in a statement.
Elsewhere in banking:
In the hours after Silicon Valley Bank’s failure on March 10, Jamie Dimon, C.E.O. of JPMorgan Chase, expressed his reluctance to get involved in another banking rescue effort. Dimon changed his position four days later as he and Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary, spearheaded a plan for the country’s biggest banks to inject $30 billion in deposits into smaller ailing ones. “If my government asks me to help, I’ll help,” Mr. Dimon, 67, told The Times.
“We are definitely working with technology which is going to be incredibly beneficial, but clearly has the potential to cause harm in a deep way.”
— Sundar Pichai, C.E.O. of Google, on the need for the tech industry to responsibly develop artificial intelligence tools, like chatbots, before rolling them out commercially.
Carl Icahn and Jesus
Illumina, the DNA sequencing company, stepped up its fight with the activist investor Carl Icahn on Thursday, pushing back against his efforts to secure three board seats and force it to spin off Grail, a maker of cancer-detection tests that it bought for $8 billion. But it is a reference to Jesus that the company says he made that is garnering much attention.
The company said that it had nearly reached a settlement with Mr. Icahn before their fight went public, in a preliminary proxy statement. It added that he had no plan for the company beyond putting his nominees on the board.
But Illumina also said Mr. Icahn told its executives that he “would not even support Jesus Christ” as an independent candidate over one of his own nominees because “my guys answer to me.”
Experts say Mr. Icahn’s comments could be used against him in future fights. Board members are supposed to act as stewards of a company, not agents for a single investor. “If any disputes along these lines arise for public companies where Icahn has nominees on the board, shareholders are going to use this as exhibit A for allegations that the directors followed Icahn rather than their own judgment,” said Ann Lipton, a professor of law at Tulane University.
Mr. Icahn doesn’t seem to care. He said the comments were “taken out of context” and the company broke an agreement to keep negotiations private.
“It was a very poor choice of words and he is usually much smarter than that,” said John Coffee, a corporate governance professor at Columbia Law School. “But he can always say that he was misinterpreted and recognizes that directors owe their duties to all the shareholders.”
THE SPEED READ
Bed Bath & Beyond ended a deal to take money from the hedge fund Hudson Bay Capital after reporting another quarter of declining sales, and will instead try to raise $300 million by selling new stock. (WSJ)
Apollo Global Management reportedly plans to bid nearly $2.8 billion for the aerospace parts maker Arconic. (Bloomberg)
Marshall, the maker of guitar amps favored by Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, will sell itself to Zound, a Swedish speaker maker that it had partnered with. (The Verge)
Finland cleared its last hurdle to joining NATO after Turkey approved its entry into the security alliance. (NYT)
The F.T.C. is reportedly investigating America’s largest alcohol distributor over how wine and liquor are priced across the U.S. (Politico)
“Lobbyists Begin Chipping Away at Biden’s $80 Billion I.R.S. Overhaul” (NYT)
Best of the rest
Netflix revamped its film division, as the streaming giant prepares to make fewer movies to cut costs. (Bloomberg)
“A.I., Brain Scans and Cameras: The Spread of Police Surveillance Tech” (NYT)
A jury cleared Gwyneth Paltrow of fault in a 2016 ski crash and awarded her the $1 she had requested in damages. (NYT)
“Do We Know How Many People Are Working From Home?” (NYT)
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