Your Monday Briefing: Donald Trump’s Legal Tactics

Credit…Christopher Lee for The New York Times

Donald Trump has been indicted. Now what?

Delay. Delay. Delay. Attack. Attack. Attack.

Those tactics have formed Donald Trump’s legal strategy for much of his life, and will likely be how he fights the charges leveled against him. And the attacks have already begun.

Trump has called Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney who indicted him, a “degenerate psychopath.” And the former president claims Juan Merchan — the judge in the case, who last year presided over the tax fraud trial of Trump’s family real estate company — “hates” him. That earlier trial ended in a conviction on 17 felonies.

Trump has repeatedly thrown sand in the gears of the legal system. In the early days of the investigation that led to this indictment, the president sued to block a document demand, which held up the inquiry for 18 months while the case went to the Supreme Court — twice.

The indictment is related to a hush-money payment made to a porn star near the end of the 2016 presidential campaign; Trump has denied that he committed a crime and will most likely decline any plea deal.

  • Leaders abroad don’t think the charges will lessen the likelihood of a Trump resurgence.

  • Maggie Haberman spoke with The Morning about Trump’s legal situation.

  • The indictment puts Trump where he yearns to be: at the center of the circus, my colleague Peter Baker writes.

Credit…China Daily, via Reuters

China’s lessons from Russia’s war

China is carefully studying Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to learn from the successes and failures of both sides.

Beijing sees invaluable lessons on weapons, troop power, intelligence and deterrence that can help China prepare for potential wars of its own — particularly a possible clash over Taiwan, the island democracy that China covets and that the U.S. has at times pledged to defend.

The Times examined nearly 100 Chinese research papers and media articles assessing the war. Ukraine has offered “a new understanding of a future possible world war,” a professor at the National Defense University in Beijing wrote.

Takeaways: Chinese analysts have argued that Vladimir Putin’s nuclear threats may have deterred Western powers from directly entering the war. They also see the importance of hypersonic missiles and the satellite system Starlink.

Interpretations: Pentagon officials have said that Russia’s troubled invasion could deter China from risking a war over Taiwan. But some experts said that studying Russia’s mistakes could bolster China’s conviction that it would prevail.

Related: Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s president, has gone from being regarded by U.S. diplomats as “a relatively weak leader” to one of the most important in the world.

The aftermath of shelling in Kostyantynivka, Ukraine, on Sunday.Credit…Mauricio Lima for The New York Times

Ukraine denounces Russia’s “absurd” U.N. role

Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s leader, criticized Russia’s presidency of the U.N. Security Council, hours before Russian forces launched a deadly attack on the town of Kostyantynivka in eastern Ukraine.

Russia is scheduled to preside over a Security Council meeting on Monday, for the first time since it began the invasion of Ukraine almost 14 months ago. The council’s largely ceremonial presidency is taken for a month at a time by each of its 15 members.

Zelensky called Russia’s assumption of the role, weeks after the International Criminal Court accused President Vladimir Putin of war crimes, “obviously absurd and destructive.” Western officials have said that there is no legal path for removing Russia from its seat on the council.

Other news from the war:

  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanded the release of Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who has been imprisoned in Russia.

  • An influential Russian military blogger was killed in an explosion in St. Petersburg on Sunday.

  • Maria Lvova-Belova has been accused of war crimes for masterminding the transfer of thousands of Ukrainian children into Russia. At home, she is portrayed as a dedicated advocate of children’s rights.


Asia Pacific

Inwangsan mountain is a popular destination for hikers in Seoul.Credit…Yonhap, via Reuters
  • A forest fire broke out on a mountain in central Seoul, prompting the evacuation of dozens of households.

  • Wriggling, transparent baby eels were once a bounty on Taiwan’s coast — but overfishing and climate change have decimated the trade.

Around the World

Dan Gertler, an Israeli diamond dealer, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.Credit…Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
  • The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo asked President Biden to remove U.S. sanctions on an Israeli diamond dealer, according to documents obtained by The Times.

  • No more blank checks: Saudi Arabia is attaching conditions to its financial aid to poorer countries.

  • Israel’s far right-wing minister of national security proposed a new national guard under his control. Critics said that the force would be aimed at Israel’s Arab minority.

  • Pope Francis was discharged from the hospital after a three-day stay and addressed tens of thousands of people for Palm Sunday Mass.

Other Big Stories

  • At least 27 people died after tornadoes and storms battered much of the U.S. over the weekend.

  • A log of digital messages obtained by The Times provides a rare look into how federal agents investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

A Morning Read

Lucky, a four-ton elephant, livestreaming after a bath in Baan Ta Klang village. Credit…Ulet Ifansasti for The New York Times

Thailand’s unemployed elephants are returning home, and they’re hungry.

Many of the country’s roughly 3,800 captive elephants survived by entertaining tourists, who largely vanished during the coronavirus pandemic. Owners have since struggled to feed the ravenous pachyderms, and some have turned to social media to raise money for food.

Lives Lived

Ryuichi Sakamoto, one of Japan’s most prominent composers, scored films like “The Last Emperor” and “The Revenant.” He died at 71.


China welcomes an ostracized Russian artist

Credit…Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Valery Gergiev, the star Russian maestro, has been fired by many cultural institutions in the U.S. and Europe because of his support for President Vladimir Putin.

But this week, after a summit between Putin and China’s leader, Xi Jinping, Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra of St. Petersburg received a hero’s welcome in Beijing.

The war in Ukraine has badly damaged Russia’s cultural engine, which once sentsoloists, opera singers and conductors like Gergiev into leading concert halls and theaters around the world.

Now, Russia is working to shore up its image and rebuild its soft power, strengthening cultural alliances with friendly nations and neighbors, including China, Kazakhstan and Serbia.

But Russia’s attempts to use culture to soften its image abroad face significant challenges, experts say, because of its continuing attacks on Ukraine.


What to Cook

Credit…James Ransom for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne.

These garlicky gochujang buttered noodles make a stellar pantry meal. And here’s a lovely ode to the Korean fermented chile paste.

What to Read

Nicole Chung’s memoir “A Living Memory” tackles America’s health care system and its assumptions about adoption.

What to Watch

The actor Steven Yeun and showrunner Lee Sung Jin discuss “Beef,” their upcoming Netflix series.

How to Travel

Twelve ways to save on a family vacation.

Now Time to Play

Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: It comes 1/12 of the way through the day (5 letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

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

P.S. The Times and a coalition of other news organizations called for Russia to release Evan Gershkovich.

Start your week with this narrated long read about what soaring homelessness means for a small business in Phoenix, Ariz. And here’s Friday’s edition of “The Daily,” on Trump’s indictment.

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