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Updated Jan 12, 2024, 7:34am EST
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Semafor Signals

Despite legal chaos, US allies brace for Trump’s return

With insights from CNN, the Financial Times, and Foreign Affairs.

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REUTERS/David Dee DelgadoFormer U.S. President Donald Trump gestures, on the day of the closing arguments in the Trump Organization civil fraud trial, outside a Trump property in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., January 11, 2024. REUTERS/David Dee Delgado
REUTERS/David Dee Delgado
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The News

Donald Trump’s fraud trial came to a chaotic close in New York on Thursday with the former U.S. president lashing out in court.

Trump spoke unexpectedly as lawyers made final arguments in the case over his family business, calling the trial a “fraud” and claiming it was a “political witch hunt.”

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Despite facing several other legal cases, Trump remains the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in this year’s presidential election, a fact that has worried officials overseas.

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European officials see Trump return as ‘threat’

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The Financial Times

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said that Trump’s possible return to the White House was “clearly a threat” to international cooperation. She cited “trade tariffs, the commitment to NATO, [and] the fight against climate change,” as key areas of concern. It is unusual for central bank bosses to comment publicly on politics, the Financial Times noted, but Lagarde’s comments reflect growing concerns among EU officials that Trump could soon return to office.

Europe should prep for potential Trump second term

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CNN

Europe “should probably start making a Plan B,” CNN’s Meanwhile in America newsletter argued. If Trump wins Iowa’s Monday caucuses, it will be a “rude wakeup call” for European officials who have preferred to look in the other direction on the potential of the former president’s return to the Oval Office. “If he wins a second term, Trump would surely be even more of a force of global instability than he was the first time around — and America’s allies would be in his sights,” newsletter authors Stephen Collinson, Caitlin Hu, and Shelby Rose noted. They pointed to a new revelation about a Trump meeting as an example of “how rough things could get”: Four years ago, Trump reportedly told EU officials that the U.S. wouldn’t help in the event of a security crisis in Europe.

Biden must show allies he can win the election

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Foreign Affairs

Trump and U.S. President Joe Biden, who is running for a second term in this year’s presidential election, could be in a neck-and-neck race to the White House — meaning that ruling out the possibility of Trump’s return is “reckless,” international politics scholar Daniel Drezner wrote in Foreign Affairs. The best foreign policy move Biden could make ahead of the November vote is demonstrating that Trump “is unlikely to win,” Drezner argued. “Foreign leaders recognize that a second term for Trump would be even more extreme and chaotic than his first term,” and his return could both lead U.S. allies to hedge against America, and stiffen the resolve of Washington’s adversaries.

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