U.S. Briefs: Trump’s legal team prepares for trial | WORLD
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U.S. Briefs: Trump’s legal team prepares for trial

The latest indictment against the former president accuses him of violating Georgia’s RICO Act

Fani Willis John Bazemore/AP

U.S. Briefs: Trump’s legal team prepares for trial
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Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis agreed to a $200,000 bond for former President Donald Trump Aug. 21, just days before he was due to present himself to the county jail and begin the long road to trial. The former president and 18 co-conspirators face a total 41 felony counts connected to alleged interference in the 2020 presidential election. The 98-page indictment lays out what Willis calls a web of conspiracies to keep Trump in the White House. The heftiest charge accuses him of violating the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Though typically used for organized crime rings, Georgia’s RICO statute applies to any “illegal enterprise” if prosecutors can prove a pattern of criminal conspiracy. It carries a 20-year maximum prison sentence. Trump has denied any wrongdoing. His pretrial release agreement bans him from intimidating or threatening, even on social media, any other co-defendant, any witness, or any of the 30 unindicted co-conspirators. —Carolina Lumetta


A near-total abortion ban took effect after the state’s highest court on Aug. 21 denied a challenge brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana. In a split 4-1 decision, justices reaffirmed that Planned Parenthood and other healthcare providers “cannot show a reasonable likelihood of success” with their challenge because some cases involving the ban could be constitutionally enforced. Retiring ACLU of Indiana executive director Jane Henegar proclaimed it a “dark day” in the state’s ­history, but Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita described it as a victory. “This is great news for Hoosier life and liberty,” he said. Indiana was the first state to sign new laws protecting life after the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling in 2022. —Kim Henderson


National Park Service officials said Aug. 18 they plan to apply piscicide to a slough in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area to kill two of more than 40 nonnative fish in the Colorado River Basin. Smallmouth bass and green sunfish are breeding in new areas and threaten recovery of the humpback chub, a minnow with an abrupt hump behind its head. Park officials cited changes to water flow from dams and other barriers, warming waters, and sport fishing as the main causes for the increase in predatory fish. Environmentalists with the Center for Biological Diversity said the park service should have acted sooner, after bass were found in the Colorado River in June 2022. —Todd Vician

Jake Offenhartz/AP

New York

A federal judge may strip New York City of control of Rikers Island. On Aug. 10, Judge Laura Taylor Swain began a process that could allow her to appoint an external authority to run the ­troubled jail complex. On Aug. 8 alone, Rikers Island had dozens of incidents, including 29 involving staff use of force, 12 fights among prisoners, nine assaults on staff, and seven fires, according to data ­presented by federal monitors. “The people incarcerated at Rikers are at a grave risk of immediate harm,” Swain said. Hearings on the appointment of an outside authority will start in November, with a ruling expected early in 2024. One of the largest correctional and mental institutions in the world, Rikers Island has suffered dysfunction for decades. It plunged into its current crisis during the pandemic, when hundreds of guards called in sick or failed to come to work. State officials say they’re working to improve conditions and insist external oversight isn’t necessary. Advocacy groups want the federal government to take control of the facility immediately. —Emma Freire

Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times/AP


A community group in Chicago is taking an unusual approach to stopping gang warfare: asking gangs to stop shooting between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. The group, Native Sons, formed last year in the city’s Rogers Park neighborhood after the shooting death of a local 5-year-old. Native Sons organizes after-school activities for kids, but now the group is also lobbying members of rival gangs to agree to a cease-fire they call the “People’s Ordinance.” Chicago has a government-run Operation CeaseFire program that aims to stop gang violence. But it’s not working. The city’s already logged 401 homicides this year. Native Sons co-founder Tatiana Atkins told Chicago’s CBS 2 that the People’s Ordinance could be much more effective. “It’s like a treaty almost, like where they also agree that we don’t want 5-year-olds being killed,” she said. “They seem to gravitate towards what we’re trying to do.” —Elizabeth Russell


Legal fees from a once-dismissed defamation lawsuit now threaten to bankrupt one of the few local news outlets in Wausau, Wis. The suit—brought by Republican state Sen. Cory Tomczyk—centers on an article published by the Wausau Pilot & Review two years ago. The story alleges Tomczyk used an anti-gay slur against a 13-year-old boy at a county board meeting. Journalists from the Pilot & Review didn’t attend the meeting but based their report on an interview with the boy’s mother. Three attendees have since ­provided sworn statements ­confirming Tomczyk did use the slur. A judge dismissed the lawsuit in April, but not before the Pilot & Review racked up almost $150,000 in legal bills. Tomczyk has now filed an appeal. The Pilot & Review’s founder and editor, Shereen Siewert, told The New York Times she doesn’t know how she can keep paying legal fees and support her staff of four. But an online fundraising campaign could help the newspaper cover its initial legal fees. —Grace Snell


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