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In today’s edition, Florida’s abortion ban gets on the ballot, a strike kills aid workers in Gaza, a͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌ 
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April 2, 2024


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Today in D.C.
  1. Florida abortion fight
  2. Strike kills World Central Kitchen staff
  3. Trump posts bond
  4. Judge shopping showdown
  5. Gaming out a Taiwan blockade
  6. Trump stock selloff

PDB: White House pressures Congress on broadband program funding

President Biden plans Baltimore trip … Hunter Biden’s bid to dismiss charges rejected NYT: Gaza hospital ‘disfigured almost beyond recognition’

— edited by Benjy Sarlin, Jordan Weissmann and Morgan Chalfant


Biden camp declares Florida ‘winnable’ after abortion rulings

REUTERS/Marco Bello/File Photo

Florida Supreme Court ruled that a 6-week abortion ban can go into effect — and that voters could overrule it in November. The court rejected a challenge by the state’s Republican attorney general to a proposed amendment enshrining abortion rights, which will be on the ballot later this year and requires 60% support to pass. Democrats insist the issue has the potential to put their candidates over the top in the red-trending state. Biden campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodríguez argued that Florida is “winnable” for Democrats in a memo, and that abortion would be “front and center” in that effort. Florida resident Donald Trump, who criticized the ban signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis during the primaries, isn’t saying how he’ll vote on the initiative for now. “President Trump supports preserving life but has also made clear that he supports states’ rights because he supports the voters’ right to make decisions for themselves,” his campaign told the Bulwark’s Marc Caputo in response to a question about the referendum.


White House ‘deeply troubled’ by strike on aid workers

REUTERS/Ahmed Zakot

Seven workers for World Central Kitchen, celebrity chef Jose Andres’ aid group, were killed in a blast in Gaza on Monday, the group said, its CEO calling it “a targeted attack” by the Israeli Defense Forces. The IDF says it’s investigating the incident, which comes at a precarious moment for Israel in Washington (The White House says it’s “deeply troubled”). The Biden administration is looking at sending more weapons to Israel, including F-15 fighter jets, missiles, and precision-guided munitions kits, a move that’s already eliciting Democratic pushback. The talks are advancing even as the White House continues to spar with Israel over its operations: U.S. and Israeli officials met virtually Monday to discuss differences over the planned Rafah offensive in Gaza. The White House called the talks “constructive” and said the Israeli officials agreed to take the Biden administration’s concerns “into account.” Meanwhile, the risk of escalation beyond Gaza is also rising: Iran blamed Israel for a strike on Tehran’s consulate in Damascus Monday that killed three Quds Force generals, threatening retaliation.


Trump posts bond, gets new gag order

REUTERS/Marco Bello/File Photo

Donald Trump posted a $175 million bond, allowing him to appeal a civil fraud ruling against him in New York without his property potentially being seized. The bond on the $454 million judgment was previously reduced by an appeals court after his lawyers said it was impossible to secure the necessary financing in time. He’ll have some breathing room now while he deals with other pressing legal issues in the state, namely the criminal hush money case that’s set to go to trial later this month. Judge Juan Merchan expanded a partial gag order against Trump on Monday after the former president attacked his daughter on Truth Social, barring him from going after family members of those involved in the case, including Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Trump’s “pattern of attacking family members of presiding jurists and attorneys assigned to his cases serves no legitimate purpose,” Merchan said.


It’s Schumer v. Texas in the fight over judge shopping

REUTERS/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is promising that the Senate will “consider legislative options” to stamp out the practice known as judge shopping. The Judicial Conference of the United States issued guidelines last month aimed at ending the legal maneuver, in which plaintiffs strategically file cases in courts where they’re all but guaranteed to find a friendly judge. But on Monday, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas — where conservatives have brought hot-button cases on issues like the abortion bill — shot the suggestions down, saying it wouldn’t change how it assigns cases. Schumer called that decision “unfortunate” in his statement Monday vowing action. But few expect Congress to pass much on the issue, given that Republicans — including Mitch McConnell — have defended judge shopping and urged courts to ignore the Judicial Conference’s recommendations. “That leaves a Supreme Court decision addressing the topic or a lengthy rulemaking process among the only viable paths for a nationwide curb,” Bloomberg notes.


What an economic war between G7, China would look like over Taiwan

Gallo Images/Getty Images

Just how catastrophic would a Chinese invasion or blockade of Taiwan be for the global economy? There’s a growing stack of studies trying to answer that question, including a Bloomberg estimate that pegged the cost of war at $10 trillion. A new report out today by the Atlantic Council and Rhodium Group looks more narrowly at how China might retaliate against Western sanctions in the event of a crisis. Beijing would have a strong hand to play, the authors find. G7 countries depend on over $477 billion worth of goods China could restrict, and while limiting exports would also blow back on its economy, there are some areas where the People’s Republic has significant leverage. A key one: The critical minerals the West now depends on for green tech. “Not a whole lot of the Chinese economy depends, for instance, on gallium or germanium or graphite exports to the United States but a substantial amount of G7 dependence all comes from China,” the Rhodium Group’s Charlie Vest, one of the authors of the report, told Semafor.

Morgan Chalfant


Trump loses billions after Truth Social reports heavy losses

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

Donald Trump’s media business is hemorrhaging cash, sparking a major sell-off on Monday. The publicly traded company behind Truth Social, listed as “DJT,” plummeted 21% after revealing that it posted a $58 million loss last year and took in just $4.1 million in revenue. It’s down 39% from its peak overall, a loss of $4 billion in on-paper value in just one week, and $2.5 billion for Trump personally. Media journalist Joshua Benton compared its income to now-defunct startup The Messenger, which lost $38 million before shutting down: “Truth Social has basically the same financials…but is somehow worth $6.4 billion.” However its market cap is still up overall since going public, and Trump’s net worth has ballooned by nearly $4 billion as a result. Bloomberg’s Matt Levine, comparing it to other financially shaky “meme stocks,” writes that the underlying business may not matter much when it comes to attracting investors: “A lot of people want to associate themselves with Donald Trump, and also for some reason want to make him richer, and Trump Media’s stock is a quite straightforward way to do that.”


Beltway Newsletters

Punchbowl News: The White House is expected to make a decision on a request to Congress for funding to rebuild the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore before President Biden travels there at the end of this week.

Playbook: Former Vice President Mike Pence’s group is launching a $2 billion ad campaign in several swing states to pressure Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to move the House-passed legislation that would force ByteDance to divest TikTok.

Axios: Corporate America is dropping mentions of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

The Early 202: Florida’s Supreme Court may have given the Biden campaign cause for hope but “it’s still a tall task to put the former swing state back on the map for Democrats.”

White House

  • President Biden has no public events today. He will visit Baltimore on Friday to meet with state and local officials and survey the damage from the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse.
  • Biden is scheduled to sit down with Univision host Enrique Acevedo later this week, Adrian Carrasquillo scoops in Vanity Fair. Acevedo previously interviewed Trump in November, a conversation that Democrats derided as overly friendly.
  • The White House is hosting a “significantly scaled-down” iftar dinner this evening to mark Ramadan and several invitees are declining to attend due to objections to the Biden administration’s handling of the Gaza war. — CNN
  • White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan is meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia later this week about a deal that could include a normalization of ties with Israel. — Axios
  • The White House will spend this month trying to put pressure on congressional Republicans to extend funding for the administration’s Affordable Connectivity Program, a high-speed internet program funded by the 2021 infrastructure law. This includes releasing a fact sheet today detailing the number of homes enrolled in the program in congressional districts across each state.
  • Hunter Biden dropped by the White House Easter Egg Roll. — Politico
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


Outside the Beltway

A person in Texas was infected with bird flu, the second known case in the U.S.


  • College enrollment is down, but vocational training is booming as Gen Z sees lucrative opportunities in fields like plumbing and welding. — WSJ
  • The U.S. is trouncing other developed countries when it comes to economic growth, and immigration may be a big piece of the reason why. It’s been responsible for one-fifth of U.S. economic growth since the pandemic, or 1.6 percentage points, according to a new Briefing Book post by recently departed White House economist Ernie Tedeschi.
  • Bloomberg’s economics team apparently ran 1 million simulations and found that in 88% of them, “the results show the debt-to-GDP ratio is on an unsustainable path — defined as an increase over the next decade.” We’re mostly impressed that they managed to make public finance sound like an Avengers plotline.


On the Trail

  • Donald Trump is expected to criticize President Biden on immigration during stops in Michigan and Wisconsin today.
  • Trump’s comment last week that Israel should “finish up” its war spooked one of the Israeli journalists (who is also a right-wing settler) who conducted the interview with the former president. But the statement was “only the latest in a long line of public statements he has made to undercut” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. — NYT
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. may soon have a general election challenger in Ian Cain, a Republican Quincy city council member who filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Monday ahead of a final decision later this month. Cain founded a blockchain startup incubator and is Quincy’s first openly gay, Black City Council president, according to the Boston Globe.

Foreign Policy

A Ukrainian-built unmanned aircraft hit a Shahed drone factory almost 1,000 miles inside Russia.


The U.S. and U.K. signed an agreement to test artificial intelligence safety.


  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would prevent Al Jazeera from broadcasting from Israel, labeling the Qatari-owned channel a “terrorist network.”
  • Alsu Kurmasheva, a journalist for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, has had her pretrial detention extended by a Russian court to June 5. The dual U.S.-Russian citizen was initially held last year on an allegation she did not register as a foreign agent but has since been charged with disseminating false information about Russia’s military. She and her employer have denied the allegations.

Big Read

The Senate is expected to debate proposed legislation later this year for the first time that would make it easier for cannabis companies to secure banking services, The Wall Street Journal reports. The House has adopted bipartisan versions of such bills several times over the years. Marijuana is now legal in some form in most states, but many banks won’t do business with cannabis companies because the drug is still illegal at the federal level. Credit-card networks such as Mastercard and Visa say they do not process marijuana-related transactions because of that. “This bill will put an end to the legal ‘gray area’ that banks have to put themselves in to do business with weed companies,” Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, the bill’s author, was quoted as saying. He is looking for options to get the bill passed in the House.


Stories that are being largely ignored by either left-leaning or right-leaning outlets, according to data from our partners at Ground News.

What the Left isn’t reading: A judge in Texas ordered the release of migrants who were accused of involvement in a stampede near the Rio Grande last month.

What the Right isn’t reading: Oregon’s Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek signed an order that made the possession of certain drugs a crime again, reversing a 2020 ballot measure.

Principals Team

Editors: Benjy Sarlin, Jordan Weissmann, Morgan Chalfant

Editor-at-Large: Steve Clemons

Reporters: Kadia Goba, Joseph Zeballos-Roig, Shelby Talcott, David Weigel

One Good Text

Scott Strazik is CEO of GE’s clean energy spinoff, GE Vernova. He is among the speakers at Semafor’s World Economy Summit later this month. Sign up here.

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