Thursday Briefing: A Court Rules Trump Can’t Hold Office


The top court in Colorado ruled on Tuesday that former President Donald Trump was disqualified from holding office again because he had engaged in insurrection with his actions leading up to the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump said that he would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The explosive ruling is likely to put a major component of the 2024 presidential election in the hands of America’s highest court.

The ruling is based on a provision of the 14th Amendment, which was written after the Civil War in the 1860s. It bars those who have previously taken an oath “to support the Constitution of the United States” from holding office if they “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

Under the ruling, Trump’s name would be excluded from the state’s Republican primary ballot. It does not address the general election.

The Supreme Court has a 6-to-3 conservative majority, with three justices appointed by Trump himself. While the court has favored a number of staunchly conservative policies, my colleagues write in the Trump on Trial newsletter that the justices have shown less of an appetite for supporting Trump’s attempts to bend the presidency to his benefit or manipulate the democratic process.

An important detail: Trump could remain on the ballot regardless. The Colorado justices put their ruling on hold until Jan. 4, as appeals are likely to proceed.

What’s next? If the case goes to the Supreme Court, it could take some time for the justices to grapple with the case’s many interlocking legal issues. They are expected to rule on other legal cases that involve Trump in the run-up to the election. They may also be reluctant to take away from voters the decision of whether they want Trump for president.

Ismail Haniyeh, the top political leader of Hamas, was in Cairo yesterday for talks on a possible truce that could lead to the release of Israeli hostages. Israel and Hamas are trying, via mediators in Egypt and Qatar, to discuss a new cease-fire, and some proposals have been put on the table, an official familiar with the talks said.

Here’s the latest.

An Israeli official said initial steps had been made in the negotiations but emphasized that there was no deal yet. A senior Hamas official said that Israel would need to abide by a new, sustained cease-fire and allow the unlimited entry of aid into Gaza before Hamas would start discussing the release of more hostages. Israel believes that 129 people, mostly men, are still being held captive.

Context: Israel has vowed to topple Hamas’s rule in Gaza, but recent events have complicated its negotiating position. International calls for a cease-fire have grown, and the accidental killing of three hostages by Israeli soldiers last week has heightened domestic pressure to secure another hostage deal.

At the U.N.: For the second time in two days, the Security Council delayed a vote on a resolution calling for a halt in fighting. Diplomats said that the U.S. requested the pause to allow more time for negotiations.

Satellite images reveal that China is making hundreds of upgrades and expansions to Lop Nur — a military base in a remote desert in the Xinjiang region — where the country first detonated an atomic bomb nearly 60 years ago. The upgrades include a deep vertical shaft that would support larger atomic tests — the strongest evidence yet that Beijing is weighing dry runs for a new generation of nuclear arms.

Analysts warned that the activity at Lop Nur signals a wide modernization of China’s nuclear establishment that could speed arms buildups and spark a new age of atomic rivalry.

Response: The Foreign Ministry in Beijing has dismissed questions about the upgrades at the base as “clutching at shadows, groundlessly whipping up a ‘China nuclear threat.’”

Asia Pacific

You may have forgotten — or wanted to forget — what happened on the internet in 2023. Did you see the snack plate known as Girl Dinner, Barney’s makeover or Emily Mariko’s wedding? If not, we’ve got you covered with our list of the top social media trends of the year.

Wang Gang, one of China’s most popular food bloggers, has made multiple recipe videos about egg fried rice. But a video posted on Nov. 27, two days after the anniversary of the death of the son of Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China, drew the wrath of the official Chinese media and the internet. (Mao’s son was killed in the Korean War while, legend has it, cooking egg fried rice.)

On social media, Wang was called “a traitor” and “the dregs of society,” while the former editor of The Global Times, the Communist Party tabloid, advised everyone to avoid the topic of egg fried rice entirely around the anniversary.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Jonathan

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