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    Judge Blocks Trump’s Lawyers From Naming Witnesses in Documents Case

    The special counsel had asked that the names of about two dozen government witnesses be redacted from a public version of a court filing to protect against potential threats or harassment.Granting a request by federal prosecutors, the judge overseeing former President Donald J. Trump’s classified documents case ordered his lawyers on Tuesday to redact the names of about two dozen government witnesses from a public version of one of their court filings to protect them against potential threats or harassment.In a 24-page ruling, the judge, Aileen M. Cannon, told Mr. Trump’s lawyers to refer to the witnesses in their filing with a pseudonym or a categorical description — say, John Smith or F.B.I. Agent 1 — rather than identifying them by name.The special counsel, Jack Smith, had expressed a deep concern over witness safety, an issue that has touched on several of Mr. Trump’s criminal cases. Among the people prosecutors were seeking to protect were “career civil servants and former close advisers” to Mr. Trump, including one who had told them that he was so concerned about potential threats from “Trump world” that he refused to permit investigators to record an interview with him.Judge Cannon’s decision, reversing her initial ruling on the matter, was noteworthy, if only for the way it hewed to standard practice. After making a series of unorthodox rulings and allowing the case to become bogged down by a logjam of unresolved legal issues, the judge has come under intense scrutiny. Each of her decisions has been studied closely by legal experts for any indication of how she plans to proceed with other matters.But as she has in other rulings where she found in favor of Mr. Smith, Judge Cannon used her decision on Tuesday to take a shot at the special counsel, with whom she has been feuding. Although she agreed with him, she pointed out that his request to protect “all potential government witnesses without differentiation” was “sweeping in nature” and that she was “unable to locate another high-profile case” in which a judge had issued a similar decision.The fight over the witnesses began in earnest in early February when Mr. Smith’s prosecutors asked Judge Cannon to reconsider a decision she had made allowing Mr. Trump to publicly name about 24 witnesses in court papers they had filed asking the government for additional discovery information.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Another Red-Blue Divide: Money to Feed Kids in the Summer

    The governor was firm: Nebraska would reject the new federal money for summer meals. The state already fed a small number of children when schools closed. He would not sign on to a program to provide all families that received free or cut-rate school meals with cards to buy groceries during the summer.“I don’t believe in welfare,” the governor, Jim Pillen, a Republican, said in December.A group of low-income youths, in a face-to-face meeting, urged him to reconsider. One told him she had eaten less when schools were out. Another criticized the meals at the existing feeding sites and held a crustless prepackaged sandwich to argue that electronic benefit cards from the new federal program would offer better food and more choice.“Sometimes money isn’t the solution,” the governor replied.A week later, Mr. Pillen made a U-turn the size of a Nebraska cornfield, approving the cards and praising the young people for speaking out.“This isn’t about me winning,” he said. “This is about coming to the conclusion of what is best for our kids.”After meeting with young people, Gov. Jim Pillen of Nebraska reversed himself and accepted federal money for summer meals.Kenneth Ferriera/Lincoln Journal Star, via Associated PressMr. Pillen’s extraordinary reversal shows the conflicts shaping red-state views of federal aid: needs beckon, but suspicions run high of the Biden administration and programs that critics call handouts.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Nonprofit Theaters Are in Trouble. Lawmakers Are Proposing Help.

    Proposed legislation would allocate $1 billion annually for an industry coping with rising expenses and smaller audiences.The financial crisis facing nonprofit theaters in America has captured the attention of Congress, where a group of Democratic lawmakers is introducing legislation that would direct $1 billion annually to the struggling industry for five years.That money could be used for payroll and workforce development, as well as other expenses like rent, set-building and marketing. But the legislation, which lawmakers plan to introduce on Tuesday, faces long odds at a time when a divided Congress — where Republicans control the House and Democrats lead the Senate — has had trouble agreeing on anything.Nonprofit theaters around the country have reduced their programming and laid off workers to cope with rising expenses and smaller audiences since the coronavirus pandemic began. There are exceptions — some nonprofit theaters say they are thriving — but several companies, including New Repertory Theater in suburban Boston, Southern Rep Theater in New Orleans, and Book-It Repertory Theater in Seattle, have ceased or suspended operations in response to the crisis.“It hasn’t been a recovery for the nonprofits — they’re really lagging compared to many other sectors in the economy, and it’s for a lot of reasons,” Senator Peter Welch of Vermont, one of the legislation’s sponsors, said in an interview. “So they do need help.”Mr. Welch argued that the organizations merit government assistance because they strengthen communities and benefit local economies.The legislation, which is called the Supporting Theater and the Arts to Galvanize the Economy (STAGE) Act of 2024, is also being sponsored by Senators John Fetterman of Pennsylvania and Jack Reed of Rhode Island. Representative Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon is sponsoring it in the House.Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, who is the majority leader and who led the fight to win government aid for performing arts organizations during the pandemic, is supportive of the proposed legislation and is also open to other ways to assist nonprofit theaters, according to a spokesman.The pandemic aid package that Mr. Schumer championed serves as a precedent: In 2020, Congress passed the Save Our Stages Act, which led to a $16 billion Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program that made money available to a wide array of commercial and nonprofit performing arts organizations.Mr. Welch said the earlier aid program succeeded despite initial skepticism.“With everything else that was going on, the expectation was this would die on the vine, but it didn’t — as this started getting momentum, there was excitement about being about to do something concrete,” he said.The new legislation is narrower, benefiting only professional nonprofit theaters, and only those that have either seen a decline in revenues or that primarily serve historically underserved communities.“This is a beginning,” Mr. Welch said. “There are obstacles, but let the effort begin.” More

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    What to Know About Biden’s New Student Debt Relief Plan

    The proposal would affect nearly 30 million people and would target groups that have had hardships in repaying their loans.President Biden announced a large-scale effort to help pay off federal student loans for more than 20 million borrowers.Tom Brenner for The New York TimesPresident Biden released details on Monday of his new student loan debt forgiveness plan for nearly 30 million borrowers.The proposal still needs to be finalized and will have to withstand expected legal challenges, like the ones that doomed Mr. Biden’s first attempt to wipe out student debt on a large scale last year.Biden administration officials said they could begin handing out some of the debt relief — including the canceling of up to $20,000 in interest — as soon as this fall if the new effort moves forward after the required, monthslong comment period.Here’s what is known so far about the program:Who would benefit from the new plan?The plan would reduce payments for 25 million borrowers and erase all debt for more than four million Americans. Altogether, 10 million borrowers would see debt relief of $5,000 or more, officials said.The groups affected include:— Borrowers whose loan balances have ballooned because of interest would have up to $20,000 of their interest balance canceled. The plan would waive the entire interest balance for borrowers considered “low- and middle-income” who are enrolled in the administration’s income-driven repayment plans.The interest forgiveness would be a one-time benefit, but would be the largest relief valve in the plan. The administration estimates that of the 25 million borrowers that could see relief under this waiver, 23 million would see their entire interest balance wiped out.— Borrowers who are eligible for, but have not yet applied for, loan forgiveness under existing programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness or the administration’s new repayment program, called SAVE, would have their debts automatically canceled.— Borrowers with undergraduate student debt who started repaying their loans more than 20 years ago, and graduate students who started paying their debt 25 or more years ago, would have their debts canceled.— Borrowers who enrolled in programs or colleges that lost federal funding because they cheated or defrauded students would have their debts waived. Students who attended institutions or programs that left them with mounds of debt but bleak earning or job prospects would also be eligible for relief.— Borrowers who are experiencing “hardship” paying back their loans because of medical or child care costs would also be eligible for some type of relief. The administration has not yet determined how these borrowers would be identified, but is considering automatic forgiveness for those at risk of defaulting.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Trump Says Abortion Will Be Left to the States. Don’t Believe Him.

    When Donald Trump was asked about the recent Florida Supreme Court decision upholding his adopted state’s abortion ban, he promised that he would announce where he stands this week, a sign of how tricky the politics of reproductive rights have become for the man who did more than any other to roll them back. Sure enough, on Monday, he unveiled his latest position in a video statement that attempted to thread the needle between his anti-abortion base and the majority of Americans who want abortion to be legal.Trump’s address was, naturally, full of lies, including the absurd claim that “all legal scholars, both sides,” wanted Roe v. Wade overturned, and the obscene calumny that Democrats support “execution after birth.” But the most misleading part of his spiel was the way he implied that in a second Trump administration, abortion law will be left entirely up to the states. “The states will determine by vote or legislation or perhaps both, and whatever they decide must be the law of the land, in this case the law of the state,” said Trump.Trump probably won’t be able to dodge the substance of abortion policy for the entirety of a presidential campaign; eventually, he’s going to have to say whether he’d sign a federal abortion ban if it crossed his desk and what he thinks of the sweeping abortion prohibitions in many Republican states. But let’s leave that aside for the moment, because when it comes to a second Trump administration, the most salient questions are about personnel, not legislation.Before Monday, Trump had reportedly considered endorsing a 16-week national abortion ban, but the fact that he didn’t should be of little comfort to voters who want to protect what’s left of abortion rights in America. Should Trump return to power, he plans to surround himself with die-hard MAGA activists, not the establishment types he blames for undermining him during his first term. And many of these activists have plans to restrict abortion nationally without passing any new laws at all.Key to these plans is the Comstock Act, the 19th-century anti-vice law named for the crusading bluenose Anthony Comstock, who persecuted Margaret Sanger, arrested thousands, and boasted of driving 15 of his targets to suicide. Passed in 1873, the Comstock Act banned the mailing of every “obscene, lewd, lascivious, indecent, filthy or vile article,” including “every article, instrument, substance, drug, medicine or thing” intended for “producing abortion.” Until quite recently, the Comstock Act was thought to be moot, made irrelevant by a series of Supreme Court decisions on the First Amendment, contraception and abortion. But it was never actually repealed, and now that Trump’s justices have scrapped Roe, his allies believe they can use Comstock to go after abortion nationwide.“We don’t need a federal ban when we have Comstock on the books,” Jonathan F. Mitchell, Texas’ former solicitor general and the legal mind behind the state’s abortion bounty law, told The New York Times in February. Mitchell is very much a MAGA insider; he represented Trump in the Supreme Court case arising from Colorado’s attempt to boot the ex-president off the ballot as an insurrectionist. As The Times has reported, Mitchell is on a list of lawyers vetted by America First Legal, a nonprofit led by the Trump consigliere Stephen Miller, as having the “spine” to serve in a second Trump administration.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Trump, at Fund-Raiser, Says He Wants Immigrants From ‘Nice’ Countries

    Former President Donald J. Trump, speaking at a multimillion-dollar fund-raiser on Saturday night, lamented that people were not immigrating to the United States from “nice” countries “like Denmark” and suggested that his well-heeled dinner companions were temporarily safe from undocumented immigrants nearby, according to an attendee.Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, made the comments during a roughly 45-minute presentation at a dinner at a mansion owned by the billionaire financier John Paulson in Palm Beach, Fla., a rarefied island community.Guests were seated outdoors at white-clothed tables under a white tent, looking out on the waterway that divides the moneyed town from the more diverse West Palm Beach, a mainland city, according to the attendee, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the private event but provided an extensive readout of Mr. Trump’s remarks.Dozens of wealthy donors helped write checks that the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee claim totaled more than $50 million, an amount that would set a record but had not been verified. Campaign finance reports encompassing the date of the event won’t be available for months.Some of Mr. Trump’s comments were standard fare from his stump speeches, while other parts of the speech were tailored to his wealthy audience.About midway through his remarks, the attendee said, Mr. Trump began an extensive rant about migrants entering the United States, at a time when President Biden has been struggling with an intensified crisis at the Southern border.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Arrest Made in Fire Set Outside Bernie Sanders’s Office in Vermont

    Prosecutors and the police did not identify a possible motive for the fire, which was started on Friday. No one was injured.The authorities in Vermont arrested a man they said used an accelerant and a lighter to start a fire on Friday outside of Senator Bernie Sanders’s office in Burlington.The man, Shant Soghomonian (also known as Michael Soghomonian), 35, previously of Northridge, Calif., was arrested on Sunday on a charge of using fire to damage the building at One Church Street in Burlington, Vt., the U.S. Attorney’s office for the district of Vermont said in a statement on Sunday.Prosecutors and the police did not identify a possible motive for the fire. The office said that a lawyer for Mr. Soghomonian had not yet been identified. Officials did not provide a current address for Mr. Soghomonian.On Friday morning, according to prosecutors and the Burlington Police Department, Mr. Soghomonian walked into the vestibule of the senator’s office, where a security camera captured him as he sprayed an “apparent accelerant” near the outer door of the office.Mr. Soghomonian then used a lighter and “a blaze quickly began” as he fled via a staircase, prosecutors said. The blaze set off the building’s sprinklers on multiple floors.The sprinklers extinguished the fire before firefighters arrived around 10:45 a.m., the police said.The senator’s office was occupied at the time by multiple employees. It was not known how many other people were in the building at the time, but no injuries were reported, the authorities said.Senator Sanders, an independent from Vermont, was not in his office at the time of the fire, his office said in a statement on Friday.“A special thank you to Burlington Police Department detectives, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the integral role they played in bringing swift resolution to this investigation,” the mayor of Burlington, Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, said in a statement.An initial court appearance has not been scheduled for Mr. Soghomonian.If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, prosecutors said. More

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    Democratic Group to Spend $186 Million Aiming to Win Back House Majority

    House Majority PAC, the Democratic super PAC allied with Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the House minority leader, said on Sunday that it would spend $186 million on television and digital advertisements for this year’s elections — the largest early investment in the group’s history.The hefty expenditure will cover 58 media markets in 45 districts, targeting Republican seats in districts that President Biden carried in 2020 as well as Democratic seats in districts that former President Donald J. Trump won. As part of that spending plan, $40 million will go toward digital advertisements, the group said on Sunday. Details of the ad buy were first shared with CNN.In an interview on Sunday, the House Majority PAC president, Mike Smith, described the group’s plan for this election year as “an offensive strategy.” Democrats need to win just four seats to clinch a House majority, and they have said that doing so depends on races in New York and California. The group is spending the most in those states to unseat vulnerable Republican freshmen and to maintain the ample — and costly — messaging needed to break through to voters.“The significant investment is the seriousness of which we are taking this election,” Mr. Smith said. “The core districts that are going to make or break whether or not Democrats win or lose the majority this fall are kind of consolidated, and a lot of them take place in the most expensive media markets in the country.”Mr. Smith also noted that the group had invested early in advertisements in states like Ohio, Montana and Michigan, where there are a handful of competitive U.S. Senate races and tight margins for the presidential race. It is particularly focused on appealing to voters in districts with substantial Black, Hispanic or Asian American populations, in addition to swing districts.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More