Morning news brief
ASMA KHALID, HOST:
Former President Donald Trump is now a defendant in a case filed by the government he once led.
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
Trump faces a federal criminal indictment related to sensitive documents found at his Florida resort with charges that include conspiracy and false statements. He's due in federal court in Miami on Tuesday.
KHALID: NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson has been following this story, and she joins us now to help us understand the latest. Carrie, it's great to have you with us.
CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Thank you. Happy to be here.
KHALID: Carrie, this investigation has been going on now for more than a year, and it's now resulted in the first federal criminal charges against a former president. What do we know about these specific charges?
JOHNSON: This indictment is still under seal, but lawyers for Donald Trump have been describing some of the charges. They say there are seven counts. They include willful retention of information related to national defense, part of the Espionage Act. There's at least one charge related to obstruction and at least one other related to false statements. But it's not clear whether anyone else is included in this indictment. We do know prosecutors have been investigating aides to Trump who may have moved boxes at that Mar-a-Lago resort.
KHALID: So how is Donald Trump himself reacting to this indictment?
JOHNSON: Trump told the world about the FBI search of his Florida home back in August 2022, and he told the world again last night that he had been notified about the indictment. Trump says he is a, quote, "innocent man." He says it's a dark day for the U.S., and he called these charges political interference because they're coming in the middle of his campaign for the White House in 2024.
KHALID: So what happens next? What's the sort of next step in this legal process?
JOHNSON: Donald Trump has been summoned to show up at the federal courthouse in Miami at 3 p.m. on Tuesday. His lawyer, Jim Trusty, told CNN last night that Trump will not be arrested, but he might go through processing at the courthouse and deal with other red tape behind the scenes. Over the next few days, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Secret Service are going to do a lot of planning to make sure that courthouse is secure.
KHALID: So, Carrie, this is the first federal indictment of a former president, but it is the second indictment for Donald Trump. Trump was previously indicted earlier this year, just a couple of months ago, by prosecutors in New York. So does that case offer a kind of blueprint for what might happen here?
JOHNSON: Yeah, in many ways, yes. Those charges in New York came from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. There was a lot of security worked out for Trump's appearance at the courthouse in Lower Manhattan. And again, those are charges that relate to falsifying business records for alleged hush money payments to Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election. This new federal case from the Justice Department is more serious legally, and it would carry more significant penalties and punishments too.
KHALID: So Carrie, much of this news seems to be coming from the former president himself. I am curious what the Justice Department is saying about the charges.
JOHNSON: The special counsel, Jack Smith, has not said a word since he was appointed last winter. He had no immediate comment last night. Remember, Smith is a registered independent, former war crimes prosecutor, who once led the unit of the Justice Department that prosecutes corrupt public officials. Of course, it's possible the Justice Department will move to unseal the indictment as a matter of public interest before Tuesday. Not clear they intend to do that at this point. And Attorney General Merrick Garland has said the special counsel acts outside of day-to-day supervision at Justice. He's the one to speak.
KHALID: Real quick, Carrie - this is all going on during the 2024 presidential campaign. So does that mean Trump will be on trial while the campaign is underway?
JOHNSON: It does certainly seem, given how the wheels of justice grind, that there will be legal proceedings. It's not clear a trial will be underway during the campaign at this point.
KHALID: All right. That's NPR's Carrie Johnson. Thank you so much.
JOHNSON: My pleasure.
KHALID: And if you're looking for more legal and political analysis on the indictment, we'll have lots more here on MORNING EDITION. It's also all available on the NPR One app.
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KHALID: Alabama lawmakers will now have to redraw congressional district lines because of a Supreme Court ruling.
MARTÍNEZ: It was a 5-4 decision. The justices yesterday upheld key parts of the Voting Rights Act. The ruling says the latest congressional map drawn by Alabama's Republican-controlled legislature violated the law and did not represent the interests of Black voters. Twenty-seven percent of Alabama's population is Black.
KHALID: Kyle Gassiott of Troy Public Radio is in Montgomery, Ala., and has been listening to reactions to the ruling. He joins us now. Kyle, it is great to have you with us.
KYLE GASSIOTT, BYLINE: Hey, Asma.
KHALID: So this decision seems to be a surprise, I think, to some degree, given the court's recent record on voting rights. What are you hearing? And let's start with Democrats.
GASSIOTT: Well, Asma, they were surprised, but it's almost like they knew it was going to go their way and didn't want to say it out loud and ruin it before the decision came out. I spoke with Joe Reed, who is chairman of the Alabama Democratic Conference. He was really happy. The map in question only had one Black Democratic seat in Alabama. This decision now gives them a chance to get another one.
JOE REED: Well, if we got two majority-Black districts, in all probability, we'd get a second Black congressman, and in all probability, if we have anything to say about it, we're going to try to make it a Democratic congressman.
GASSIOTT: When I talked to him, he was sitting in front of a large congressional map that he called a near-perfect plan. The old map had seven districts, with just one Black majority representative. This new one showed two Black-majority districts. Of course, the Republican-controlled legislature still gets to make the new map. And if it doesn't suit Democrats, they say they'll go to court again.
KHALID: OK, so how are Republicans in the state responding?
GASSIOTT: Well, Republicans were kind of quiet, but Wes Allen, Alabama's secretary of state and a Republican, issued a statement. He said that he was disappointed with the opinion, but that he remains committed to complying with election law. It's safe to say that this decision has many Republicans nationally contemplating what this means for future elections, including 2024. As you know, Asma, Republicans currently hold a slim majority in the U.S. House, and this ruling could provide a roadmap for other gerrymandering challenges beyond Alabama. Just in the South, there are similar court challenges to congressional maps in Louisiana, South Carolina and Georgia, where the Voting Rights Act would apply. In the Georgia case, the argument is that Republican-drawn maps made a metro Atlanta district whiter and friendlier to the GOP, despite people of color driving the state's population growth. All these challenges could result, according to some experts, in two to four more majority-Black and Democratic seats in the House. So that could shift power there.
KHALID: So you mentioned the 2024 election. A key question here is will these new maps in Alabama be ready for the next presidential election, the next big cycle, 2024?
GASSIOTT: Well, Asma, Democrats are hoping so. And this decision really was a win for voting rights in a state where 1 in 4 residents is Black. It upheld what's known as Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which some had feared the court would strike down completely. JaTaune Bosby Gilchrist is the executive director of the Alabama ACLU. I spoke with her, and she was glad the court applied the law here.
JATAUNE BOSBY GILCHRIST: The point of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act emphasizes that you cannot dilute political voting power, and that's exactly what this was, a dilution of Black political voting power in the state.
GASSIOTT: So, yeah, this ruling, Asma, could affect congressional maps across the South for years to come.
KHALID: Interesting. We'll be watching. Kyle Gassiott is a reporter with Troy Public Radio. Thanks for taking the time.
GASSIOTT: Thank you, Asma.
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KHALID: Smoke from Canadian wildfires is polluting the air throughout much of the Eastern United States, with New York City and the Washington, D.C., area continuing to see heavy smoke.
MARTÍNEZ: In the Midwest, cities such as Cleveland and Detroit are also experiencing unhealthy levels of smoke, and these conditions are expected to last through at least the end of the day. So how do you protect yourself then, with your family, from the risks?
KHALID: NPR's Maria Godoy joins us now with some advice. Good morning, Maria.
MARIA GODOY, BYLINE: Good morning.
KHALID: So the air, I will say, at least around here in Washington, D.C. - it's been rather unpleasant. But how dangerous is it?
GODOY: Yeah, I'm in the D.C. suburbs as well, and my air quality was labeled unhealthy all day yesterday. And it's definitely not pleasant...
GODOY: ...'Cause I've been sneezing. My throat is sore. And in New York, it's been even worse. The city has had some of the poorest air quality in the world this week. One doctor compared it to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. But this is temporary. So if you are relatively healthy, short-term exposure isn't likely to cause any long-term damage. But for someone who is in a high-risk group, like people with lung conditions like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, this poor air can be a real threat.
KHALID: So what kind of threats? I mean, what dangers are you referring to?
GODOY: Well, so the smoky air is full of tiny particles that you breathe into your airways, and they get down into your lungs. They can even pass into your bloodstream. I spoke to Dr. Keith Brenner. He's a pulmonologist at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. He says for people with chronic lung disease, that can trigger a serious flare-up. And it's also a concern for people with cardiovascular disease.
KEITH BRENNER: There's been studies that track, you know, daily amounts of air pollution. On days that were its highest, there's a higher chance of dying of cardiovascular disease.
GODOY: And, you know, there's lots of evidence that shows hospitalizations for asthma rise when the air quality is bad.
KHALID: So, Maria, I understand the dangers you're describing, but I would say not breathing is really not an option - right? - for folks in this situation.
KHALID: So what do you do when the air is this poor?
GODOY: Well, so first you can check the air quality where you live by going to airnow.gov. So that's an EPA site which has a color-coded meter that tells you just how bad things are and when to use caution. And if the air is bad, stay inside as much as possible. Keep the doors and windows closed. If you've got an air purifier, run it on high. They're really good at cleaning up the small smoke particles. Don't vacuum or burn candles when you're inside 'cause that can just add to the indoor pollution. And drink lots of water. The fluid keeps your eyes, nose and throat moist, which can help with irritation.
KHALID: Good advice. That is very good advice.
GODOY: And, you know, one thing - if you have to go outside - wait for it - mask up.
KHALID: Any mask - any type of mask is all right?
GODOY: No, not really. I spoke with Linsey Marr. She's an aerosols expert at Virginia Tech. She says the smoke particles - you know, those tiny particles - are really small. In fact, they're roughly the same size as COVID particles.
LINSEY MARR: So just like with COVID, the best mask is going to be a high-quality, well-fitting what we call respirator, an N95 or KN95 or KF94.
GODOY: Marr says surgical masks and cloth masks can also help somewhat if they're close-fitted. But really if you've got that N95 or KN95, that's the best protection. Just make sure it fits properly. You know the drill. Cover your mouth and nose, please.
KHALID: Unfortunately, we do know the drill. And luckily I had some spare KN95s still sitting around.
NPR's Maria Godoy.
GODOY: Oh yeah, me too.
KHALID: Thank you so much.
GODOY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.