Morning news brief Jury finds Trump liable for battery and defamation in E. Jean Carroll trial. Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is arrested. President Biden and congressional leaders discuss the debt limit.

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Morning news brief

Morning news brief

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Jury finds Trump liable for battery and defamation in E. Jean Carroll trial. Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is arrested. President Biden and congressional leaders discuss the debt limit.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

A jury has sided with E. Jean Carroll. She is the writer who accused former President Trump of sexual assault and defamation.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The jury found the leading Republican presidential candidate liable for sexual abuse and found he should pay $5 million. Trump says he will appeal, even as he continues his bid to reclaim the White House.

MARTIN: NPR's Andrea Bernstein covered the case, and she is with us now.

Good morning, Andrea.

ANDREA BERNSTEIN, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: So for people who missed it, could you describe how all this happened yesterday and what the jury said?

BERNSTEIN: It happened very quickly, in under three hours. Carroll had sued under New York's new Adult Survivors Act, saying Trump had thrown her against the wall in a department store dressing room in the 1990s and sexually assaulted her. Under that law, Carroll had to prove it was more likely than not that Trump raped her or sexually abused or forcibly touched her. And the jury did not find rape, but it did find sexual abuse. And it found that when Carroll went public decades later and Trump said, she is not my type, and called her a liar, he defamed her.

MARTIN: How did Trump respond? I take it he's still insisting that he doesn't know her or didn't know her.

BERNSTEIN: Right. He says he didn't know her and that he will appeal. That is the difficulty here. A jury ruled it was defamation to say Carroll was a liar, but Trump will likely appeal by saying her story isn't true. Here's his lawyer, Joe Tacopina, outside of court yesterday.

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JOE TACOPINA: Obviously, you know, he's firm in his belief, as many people are, that he cannot get a fair trial in New York City based on the jury pool. And I think one could argue that that's probably an accurate assessment based on what happened today.

MARTIN: And what was E. Jean Carroll's reaction?

BERNSTEIN: She left the courthouse without commenting, arm in arm with her lawyer, as women yelled, thank you, E. Jean. Later, she issued a statement saying, today the world finally knows the truth. This victory is not just for me, but for every woman who has suffered because she was not believed. And her trial was, in some sense, a verdict not just for her, but for those who were outraged when Trump was caught on tape boasting he liked to grab women by the genitals. That "Access Hollywood" tape figured large in the trial. Even Carroll's lawyer, Mike Ferrara, had said during closing statements it was a confession. And the jury apparently agreed.

MARTIN: So Trump is now going to have to navigate a presidential campaign and continue his legal fights. And I do want to mention that's not the only one. So tell us about what else he is facing.

BERNSTEIN: So as President Trump was impeached twice - though he was acquitted both times - his company has been convicted for multiple counts of felony fraud. He himself has been indicted for allegedly falsifying business records in New York. And he is also being sued by the New York attorney general for $250 million for a separate massive alleged fraud scheme. And then there are at least two more active criminal investigations, one in Georgia and special counsel Jack Smith's investigation. Trump has denied wrongdoing in all of this.

MARTIN: And as quickly as you can, how might that play out during a presidential campaign?

BERNSTEIN: The next trial in New York is scheduled for October, which is prime Republican debating season usually. That's the civil fraud case. The hush money criminal case is targeted to start in February or March, the middle of primary season. And we don't know if there will be further indictments - a lot of legal action to schedule around. That'll be a stress test for the rule of law.

MARTIN: That is NPR's Andrea Bernstein.

Andrea, thank you.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

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MARTIN: Supporters of Imran Khan are planning to march on Pakistan's capital to demand the former prime minister's release.

INSKEEP: He is in the custody of the security forces after a chaotic day in Islamabad. The ousted prime minister is campaigning to get his job back, but he faces many corruption cases, and he was in court on one charge yesterday when paramilitary forces arrested him to face charges in a different case, and now he faces hearings on both. The arrest of a politician who is seeking office again triggered protests across the country.

MARTIN: NPR international correspondent Diaa Hadid lives in Islamabad and has been following all this and is with us now. Diaa, hello.

DIAA HADID, BYLINE: Hi there.

MARTIN: So what's happening today?

HADID: Well, today it's fairly quiet. People are staying home. Schools are closed. Embassies are closed. The streets are clear. But there's a lot of action around a police compound on Islamabad's outskirts, and that's where the former prime minister attended a hastily arranged hearing of an anti-corruption court. He was arrested, as Steve noted, on that court's orders in a case surrounding money allegedly funneled to a powerful building tycoon. Now, Khan says the case is politically motivated. It's to stop him from running in elections.

MARTIN: So the court case is being held in a police compound. I mean, that seems unusual. Is it? Is that for security, to keep people out?

HADID: It's highly unusual, and it's certainly to keep people out. Police even used shipping containers to block the road leading to the compound. And outside, we met a member of Khan's party, known as PTI. Now, the name of the member we met is Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and we and other members of the press surrounded him.

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HADID: ...For elections for Imran Khan.

(CROSSTALK)

HADID: Can PTI still go to elections without Imran Khan running?

SHAH MAHMOOD QURESHI: Imran Khan is ruling the hearts of the people of Pakistan. Imran Khan, whether in jail or out of jail, will haunt them. Imran Khan is unstoppable.

MARTIN: OK. He's saying Imran Khan will haunt them. Tell me - help us understand what he's saying. Do you think he was caught up in the drama, or is there more to it - I mean, that this suggests there's something about deeper tensions in Pakistan?

HADID: Right. I mean, certainly, politics in Pakistan, like politics in most places, has an element of theater, but I do think there is something deeper going on here. One of Imran Khan's lawyers, Babar Awan, went as far as to tell us that he believed the country is under undeclared martial law. And his reference there to the military is important because for many of Khan's followers, this is now a showdown between their leader and the army. That is Pakistan's most powerful institution. It's always been widely revered and feared. But now people say something feels different.

MARTIN: Different how?

HADID: So yesterday, consider that after Khan's arrest by paramilitary force, his followers rioted outside army installations. They set fire to a commander's home. They broke open the gates leading to the country's main military headquarters, and they were led by a middle-aged woman in a headscarf. Nobody can recall anything like this happening in Pakistan before. And consider who Khan's followers are. They're largely middle class, consider themselves patriotic, like Ruhi. She's 38. We met outside the police compound. She tells me she grew up worshipping the army, but she says their treatment of Imran Khan turned her against them, and she now accuses them of holding back Pakistan's development. She puts her hand to her neck as she speaks to me like, we've had it to here with them.

RUHI: We need to get rid of these people so we can actually see the development in Pakistan.

HADID: Saying things like that in Islamabad in public is unusual, to say the least. But where does it go from here? That's not clear.

MARTIN: That is NPR's Diaa Hadid. Diaa, thank you so much.

HADID: Thank you, Michel.

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MARTIN: President Joe Biden and the top four congressional leaders finally sat down together to talk about raising the debt ceiling.

INSKEEP: After the meeting, both the president and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said they were far apart. We really don't know what a U.S. default would do to the global economy, although experts expect it to be devastating. So the leaders agreed to meet again on Friday to keep talking.

MARTIN: NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith is with us now with the latest. Good morning, Tam.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: Other than agreeing to meet again, did you see signs of any movement?

KEITH: Well, White House and congressional staff are now set to work through possibilities for the next couple of days, and that's a sign that there's more urgency at least than there has been for the last couple of months. But there is still a fundamental disagreement. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says Republicans won't agree to raise the debt limit unless the president and Democrats agree to significant spending cuts, and President Biden says he won't allow the full faith and credit of the United States to be held hostage and says that the conversation about spending cuts needs to be separated from the debt ceiling.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: There's a lot of politics, posturing and gamesmanship, and it's going to continue for a while. But I am squarely focused on what matters. And we're getting to work.

MARTIN: So is defaulting on the debt still on the table?

KEITH: Well, coming out of the meeting, the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, said that the U.S. won't default - never has, never will. The two Democratic congressional leaders said the same. And McCarthy said he didn't want it to happen, but he didn't, strictly speaking, take it off the table because, I mean, that is the leverage in this fight.

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KEVIN MCCARTHY: I'm hoping that the next two weeks are different. I'm hoping this president understands, as the leader of this nation, that you can't sit back and hold the country hostage. You can't be so extreme in your views that you're not going to negotiate.

KEITH: So they are in the accusing-each-other-of-taking-hostages phase of this negotiation. The president's position remains that he is happy to talk separately about ideas for cutting the deficit by raising taxes and cutting spending. One of the spending cuts that McCarthy has suggested is clawing back some unspent COVID relief dollars, and Biden said yesterday that they could look at that, which is not a no.

MARTIN: So there have been some other ideas tossed around about avoiding default without making a deal and raising the debt ceiling. Is the president seriously considering any of those?

KEITH: Well, he was asked whether he might invoke the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which says that the validity of the U.S. debt shall not be questioned. The idea would be that the government would just continue paying its bills even if the debt ceiling hasn't been lifted. And Biden said that he is considering it as an idea, but for the future. He said there isn't enough time now to do it because it'd get tied up in court.

MARTIN: So President Biden is scheduled to travel to New York today. What's his message going to be?

KEITH: Well, he is traveling to the congressional district of Mike Lawler, a vulnerable Republican who won in 2022 in a district that Biden carried in 2020. According to the White House, Biden's message will be that Republicans are demanding cuts that hurt teachers, veterans, law enforcement. Lawler will be there, too, and he says his message will be that the president and Republicans need to negotiate.

MARTIN: That is NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith.

Tam, thank you so much.

KEITH: You're welcome.

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