10 things you need to know today: January 18, 2024

Judge threatens to remove Trump from his defamation trial, medicine for hostages and Palestinians reach Gaza, and more

Donald Trump leaves court
Donald Trump leaves court after defamation trial
(Image credit: Charly Triballeau / AFP via Getty Images)

1. Judge threatens to remove Trump from civil defamation trial

Writer E. Jean Carroll testified Wednesday in her defamation lawsuit against Donald Trump that her life changed after she accused the former president of raping her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in the 1990s. "I was attacked on Twitter. I was attacked on Facebook. I was living in a new universe," said Carroll, who is seeking $10 million in damages from Trump for claiming she was lying and he didn't know her. Trump, sitting at the defense table, scoffed, gesticulated and spoke audibly to his lawyer. Carroll's lawyer said she heard Trump say, "it really is a con job." Judge Lewis Kaplan threatened to eject Trump from the courtroom if he didn't keep quiet. "I would love it," Trump said. Axios

2. Medicine for hostages, Palestinian civilians reaches Gaza

A shipment of medicine and other supplies for Hamas-held hostages and Palestinian civilians arrived in Gaza on Wednesday under a deal mediated by France and Qatar. The agreement was the first between Israel and Hamas since a weeklong cease-fire in November. The five trucks were allowed to cross into Gaza after undergoing security checks by Israel. The shipment included medicine for Israeli hostages, many of whom have chronic conditions requiring prescription drugs, who have been held by Hamas since its militants attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7, igniting the war. A senior Hamas official said the shipment included 1,000 boxes of medicine for Palestinians for every box intended for the hostages. Al-Jazeera, The Times of Israel 

3. Johnson digs in against Ukraine aid without border crackdown

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) held out against new Ukraine aid, reiterating after a White House meeting Wednesday that the Republican-led House won't consider defense funding for Kyiv without increased measures to crack down on migration at the U.S.-Mexico border. "We must insist — must insist — that the border be the top priority," Johnson said after meeting with President Joe Biden and other congressional leaders. But Johnson and other leaders expressed optimism. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) said everyone agreed they had to address both Ukraine and the border. Schumer said he would put the chances of an agreement in the Senate "at a little bit greater than half now, and that's the first time I can say that." The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal

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4. Conservative justices appear inclined to limit federal regulatory power

Members of the Supreme Court's conservative majority asked questions Wednesday suggesting they might limit or overturn a 1984 precedent that has protected the regulatory power of federal agencies, frustrating business groups. Conservative justices pressed Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar to justify the so-called Chevron deference, which instructs courts to defer to federal agencies' interpretation of laws that could have multiple meanings. The precedent has bolstered the ability of presidential administrations to regulate everything from artificial intelligence to cryptocurrency to environmental protections. Prelogar said overturning the doctrine would cause "unwarranted shock to the legal system." Justice Brett Kavanaugh said "Chevron itself ushers in shocks to the system" with every new administration. The Hill, The New York Times

5. Pakistan hits separatist targets in Iran in retaliatory strikes

Pakistan's air force launched airstrikes against alleged Baluch separatist camps in Iran early Thursday in retaliation for Iran's strikes against a similar separatist militant group in Pakistan. Pakistan's attacks reportedly killed at least nine people. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said the "precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts" were launched based on "credible intelligence of impending large scale terrorist activities." The tit-for-tat strikes between the neighboring countries came as tensions rise in the Middle East over Israel's war in Gaza against Hamas, an Iran ally. Iran also attacked targets in Iraq and Syria on Monday in response to an Islamic State suicide bombing that killed more than 90 people in early January. Reuters, Hindustan Times

6. Maine judge freezes Trump ballot ban pending Supreme Court decision

Kennebec County, Maine, Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy on Wednesday suspended Secretary of State Shenna Bellows' decision to bar former President Donald Trump from appearing on presidential primary ballots while the U.S. Supreme Court considers a similar case out of Colorado. Murphy ordered Bellows to wait and issue a new ruling after the Supreme Court decides the Colorado case. Bellows had found that Trump is ineligible to run because his incitement of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack violated the Constitution's 14th Amendment, which bars from public office anyone who has engaged in insurrection. Trump appealed her decision earlier this month. Oral arguments in the Colorado case are scheduled for Feb. 8. Portland Press Herald

7. Shell halts shipments through the Red Sea

British oil giant Shell has halted shipments through the Red Sea due to fears that attacks on vessels by Houthi rebels in Yemen could escalate following U.S. and U.K. strikes against Houthi targets, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The United States and Britain hit Houthi military sites after the Iranian-backed militants launched dozens of missiles and drones at commercial ships in the region, purportedly in a show of support for Hamas as it battles Israel in Gaza. A tanker chartered by Shell was targeted by a drone and Houthi boats last month. Shell CEO Wael Sawan told the Journal at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that rerouting ships will increase costs. The Wall Street Journal

8. Prosecutor investigating TV attack assassinated in Ecuador

A prosecutor in Ecuador who was investigating last week's gang attack on a television studio during a live broadcast was assassinated Wednesday in Guayaquil, according to the South American nation's attorney general, Diana Salazar. Armed men stormed the public TV channel TC and threatened employees at gunpoint amid a wave of violence following a gang leader's prison escape. Police later arrested the TV studio attackers. Salazar said the murder of the prosecutor, Cesar Suarez, would not stop the investigation. "I am going to be emphatic," Salazar said. "The organized criminal groups, criminals, terrorists will not stop our commitment to the Ecuadorian society, we will continue with more strength and commitment." CNN

9. Minnesota man freed after 25 years in prison sues medical examiner

A Minnesota man, Thomas Rhodes, freed last year after nearly 25 years in prison for his wife's death has filed a lawsuit against a former medical examiner and other authorities. Rhodes, 64, accuses former Ramsey County medical examiner Michael McGee and others of contributing to his conviction by fabricating and withholding evidence. Rhodes' wife lost her balance and fell overboard during a late evening boat ride. Rhodes searched frantically but couldn't find her. Fisherman found her body the next day. Rhodes cooperated with investigators. A breathalyzer test found no alcohol in his system. Rhodes was convicted of first- and second-degree murder, but last month he became the first person freed by the state's new conviction review unit. Star Tribune, The Associated Press

10. King Charles, Kate Middleton undergo medical procedures

The British royal family announced Wednesday that King Charles III and the Princess of Wales, formerly Kate Middleton, are both undergoing medical procedures. King Charles will have a "corrective procedure" for an enlarged prostate next week, a condition common in older men. Buckingham Palace described his condition as benign, not cancerous. The princess, wife of heir to the throne Prince William, will receive care at a private hospital in London for as long as two weeks as she recovers from planned abdominal surgery, her office said. The twin announcements provided unusual detail about the health of members of the royal family. But the openness was seen an effort to avoid speculation if the royals miss events scheduled in the next few weeks. BBC, The Associated Press

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