Wednesday Briefing

The appeals court is expected to make its ruling fairly quickly.Credit…Valerie Plesch for The New York Times

Federal judges cast doubt on Trump’s claim of immunity

At a hearing in Washington yesterday, Donald Trump appeared in front of an appeals court panel to argue that he is immune from prosecution on charges of plotting to overturn the 2020 election because they arose from actions he took as president. The three judges on the panel seemed unconvinced, suggesting that they are unlikely to rule in the former president’s favor.

“I think it’s paradoxical to say that his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed allows him to violate the criminal law,” said Judge Karen Henderson, the sole Republican appointee.

The panel appeared particularly wary when Trump’s lawyer said during the hearing that a president could assassinate a political rival and still be shielded from prosecution unless the Senate first convicted him at an impeachment proceeding. However, the judges looked torn at times about how broadly they might rule; one suggested that a decision to deny immunity could result in a flood of partisan prosecutions of former presidents.

Next steps: The appeals court is expected to make its ruling fairly quickly. Regardless of the decision, the issue of immunity is likely to reach the Supreme Court, where the justices will determine not only whether the case goes to trial, but when. Trump has been trying to push the trial back until after the 2024 election, when a victory could lead to charges being dropped.

Go deeper: We put together a timeline of Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken.Credit…Abir Sultan/EPA, via Shutterstock

Blinken’s visit to Israel

Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, and a Saudi ambassador said Saudi Arabia could diplomatically recognize Israel, in turn allowing Israel to strengthen ties with other Arab nations, if the Israeli government alleviates the suffering of the residents of Gaza and puts Palestinians on a path toward statehood.

A move toward Palestinian statehood would require an utter reversal by the Israeli government, which is now controlled by a right-wing coalition and which has expanded settlements in the occupied West Bank, undermining the Palestinian Authority there and taking steps that have helped Hamas retain control of Gaza.

Next steps: Blinken said that Israel and the U.S. had agreed to a plan to have a U.N. team assess northern Gaza to determine what conditions were needed for Palestinians to return to their homes there. He stressed that the U.S. opposed any efforts to resettle Palestinians outside of Gaza, as some far-right Israeli cabinet officials have proposed.

In other news from the war:

  • Times reporters entered Gaza with Israeli troops. They glimpsed the destruction wrought by Israel’s war — and by Hamas’s operations.

  • Hamas’s campaign of acts of sexual violence on Oct. 7 could amount to crimes against humanity, U.N. experts said.

  • Nine Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza in three separate incidents and at least eight others were seriously wounded, including an actor in the Netflix series “Fauda.”

Credit…The New York Times

The hottest year on record

Last year was Earth’s warmest, by far, in a century and a half, and among the warmest in at least 100,000 years. Month after month, global temperatures shot past records. This year may be hotter yet.

“There were simply no cities, no books, agriculture or domesticated animals on this planet the last time the temperature was so high,” said Carlo Buontempo, director of the E.U.’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. Researchers are trying to understand whether 2023 foretells many more years in which heat records are not merely broken, but smashed.

Background: Greenhouse gas emissions are the main driver of global warming. But El Niño, the recurrent weather pattern, didn’t start until midyear, which means that it may not have been a main driver of abnormal warmth, scientists said.


Around the World

Credit…Pool photo by Ludovic Marin
  • Gabriel Attal is France’s new prime minister. He is the first openly gay person to hold the post, and, at 34, he’s also the youngest.

  • Ecuador’s president declared a state of emergency after a gang leader went missing, prison riots broke out and prison guards were kidnapped by inmates.

  • Powerful storms are causing disruptions across the U.S.

  • A warning from Taiwan about a satellite, erroneously called “a missile” in English, raised concerns about Chinese harassment before elections on Saturday.

  • The Norwegian Parliament voted to authorize the opening of parts of the Norwegian Sea to seabed mining exploration, against opposition from environmentalists.

Other Big Stories

Credit…Saiyna Bashir for The New York Times
  • With around half of the world’s population preparing to vote in major elections this year, the moment is a pivotal one for watching rampant disinformation.

  • U.S. lawmakers called for an investigation into G42, an Emirati A.I. company that works with U.S. tech firms and, they claimed, has ties to China’s military.

  • The White House ordered a review after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was hospitalized for several days last week without telling the president or his staff.

  • The World Bank said that energy prices could surge if the war in Gaza were to spread.

What Else Is Happening

  • South Korea outlawed the breeding, slaughter and sale of dogs for meat. The practice had already lost popularity in recent years.

  • An American developer withdrew its bid to build a giant, Las Vegas-style sphere in London after opposition from residents and the city’s mayor.

  • The first American mission to send astronauts close to the moon in a half-century will no longer take place late this year, NASA said.

  • The Irish singer-songwriter Sinead O’Connor died of natural causes, a coroner ruled.

A Morning Read

Credit…Associated Press

Adm. Richard Byrd was once known around the world for his expeditions to Antarctica and was a prominent fixture at the Explorers Club, a New York City institution dating back to the early 1900s.

His son, who shares his name, for decades has directed his energies toward preserving his father’s legacy, even to the point of obsession.


Tiger Woods and Nike: A fashion collaboration that was seemingly unstoppable.

College football champions: How Michigan beat Washington.

The Australian Open: What we learned from the first warm-up week.


Credit…John Burcham for The New York Times

52 places to go

Every year, the Travel desk offers up a list of travel spots. This year’s list features an elephant rehabilitation program in Kenya, sea-sculpted monoliths in Quebec and a lesser-known home of masterpieces in Italy.

Here are some European picks:

Normandy, France: Visit the northern region for the Normandy Impressionist Festival (from March 22 to Sept. 22), which celebrates the region’s centrality in the lives and works of the movement’s major figures.

Massa-Carrara, Italy: The Uffizi museum in Florence has been transferring some of its masterpieces to lesser-known locales across Tuscany — including the town of Massa, at the Palazzo Ducale. Art enthusiasts can also explore the surrounding Apuan Alps from which the marble for so many masterpieces, including Michelangelo’s David, was quarried.

Valencia, Spain: Spain’s third-largest city has long been overshadowed by Barcelona, despite sharing similar characteristics: miles of velvety sand beaches, a vibrant cultural scene and a rich gastronomic tradition. Valencia stands apart for travelers seeking more sustainably minded, less crowded destinations.

Find more inspiration for a year of travel.


Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times

Cook: Use grains or greens as the base for this sweet chili bowl with tofu.

Host: Consult a vintage guide to giving a party.

Abstain: Try a “damp January” to cut back on drinking, without going dry.

Manage: New Year’s resolutions for people who struggle with anxiety.

Relax: Tired of meditation? Try looking for clams.

Read: Here are five novels about plagiarism.

Play the Spelling Bee. And here are today’s Mini Crossword and Wordle. You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Natasha

P.S. Take our quiz on Paris and its literary landmarks.

Reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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