May 24, 2024

Lizzo harassment lawsuit and Donald Trump’s co-conspirators: Morning Rundown

Donald Trump is accused of defrauding the United States. Authorities list the evidence gathered in the Gilgo Beach killings. And a TikTok fandom irks a pro hockey player.

Here’s what to know today.

Trump charged for efforts to overturn the 2020 election

In a historic first, Donald Trump has been indicted on charges he conspired to defraud the country and attempted to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to Joe Biden. It’s the first time a former president has faced charges for trying to overturn a free and fair election — the bedrock of democracy. 

The indictment from special counsel Jack Smith is the result of months of investigating Trump. A grand jury heard testimony from allies, aides and officials that included former Vice President Mike Pence. 

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The charges in the indictment list three conspiracies (conspiracy to defraud the U.S. being one of them), six unnamed co-conspirators (more on that below) and the seven states where Trump pressed officials to subvert 2020 election results. The charges also detail how Trump and his allies contacted seven lawmakers long after violence erupted at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Here are five key takeaways from the new charges Trump faces.

More on the Trump indictment

U.S. credit rating downgraded from AAA to AA+

Fitch downgraded the U.S. government’s credit rating yesterday, citing an “erosion of governance” and the recent debate in Washington over the debt limit in its explanation for the decision. Fitch is one of three major agencies that evaluate a company or country’s ability to pay its debts.  

While lawmakers resolved a looming debt-ceiling crisis in June, the downgrade underscores concerns among some analysts that “repeated debt-limit political standoffs and last-minute resolutions” puts the country at a heightened risk of eventually missing a payment on its more than $31 trillion in debt.

This downgrade isn’t new territory. The U.S.’s credit was also downgraded in 2011, and the move wasn’t without consequence.

Judge weighs life sentence for Oxford school shooter

Ethan Crumbley, the 17-year-old who killed four students at his Michigan high school in 2021, was like a “feral child” who was neglected by his parents, a psychologist testified in a hearing to determine whether Crumbley should get a life prison sentence. The psychologist later predicted that Crumbley “absolutely” could be rehabilitated. 

Crumbley was 15 at the time of the shooting, meaning he cannot automatically be given a life sentence. An Oakland County judge first must consider a variety of factors set by the U.S. Supreme Court. Ordering a life sentence would be a rare outcome

Former Lizzo dancers allege sexual harassment

Lizzo, a performer known for embracing body positivity and celebrating her physique, is accused of creating a hostile work environment in a lawsuit filed by three of her former dancers. They allege she called attention to one dancer’s weight gain, subjected the group to an “excruciating” audition after leveling false accusations that they were drinking on the job and pressured one of them to touch a nude performer while at an Amsterdam strip club. Reporters Diana Dasrath and Tim Stelloh obtained a copy of the lawsuit, which describes the incident in Amsterdam among others.

The evidence in the Gilgo Beach murders

Crime scene photographs, 2,500 pages of documents, autopsy reports and hundreds of hours of video footage are among the evidence authorities gathered against Rex Heuermann, the man charged in the Gilgo Beach serial killings. Heuermann appeared at yesterday’s preliminary hearing, during which the prosecution turned over four hard drives containing evidence to a Suffolk County Supreme Court justice and Heuermann’s attorney. Next up: A pre-trial conference hearing scheduled in September.

How movie theaters will feel the Hollywood strike fallout

Brick-and-mortar movie theaters are enjoying the “Barbenheimer” boom. The two films, “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer,” have grossed a combined $525 million in North America so far. Soon, though, a simultaneous writers and actors strike may leave movie theater chains starved of new releases.

Already, the release dates of films are changing. “Challengers,” a movie starring Zendaya, has been pushed back from September to April. Sony will release the fourth “Ghostbusters” installment and the Marvel saga “Kraven the Hunter” next year instead of this year, and it pulled “Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse” indefinitely. Here’s what else to expect.

More on ‘Barbenheimer’: 

Today’s Talker 

A lawsuit accuses Taco Bell of lying about…

… how much “beef and/or ingredients” it puts in its popular Crunchwrap and Mexican Pizza menu items. The class action lawsuit was filed by this week a disappointed customer named Frank Siragusa, who alleges Taco Bell falsely advertises in its ads how much meat comes with the items compared to what is actually offered to customers. He even included photos of his paltry pizza.

Politics in Brief

New Jersey: The state’s Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver has died at the age of 71 after she was hospitalized for an undisclosed medical disorder, her family announced.

2024 election: Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley are both vying for the GOP presidential nomination. How they address their Indian American identities on the campaign trail are very different.

Immigration: “Processing centers” in Central and South America were supposed to help migrants apply to come to the U.S. without making the journey to the border, but the White House has been vague about whether they’re effective.

Staff Pick: Hockey pro to BookTok: Stop the harassment

Book lovers have fan casted — that is, imagined real life people as their favorite fictional characters — for years. But the lines between fiction and fantasy can quickly blur for some passionate fans. Hockey players like Seattle Kraken center Alexander Wennberg learned this the hard way after romance fans sent him sexually harassing messages. I looked into the discourse over parasocial relationships and explore whether fans’ behavior went too far. — Daysia Tolentino, culture and trends reporter

In Case You Missed It 

The first this month’s of two supermoons put on a dazzling display last night, with photographers around the world capturing the spectacle.

A Vermont man has been charged in the crash that killed actor Treat Williams.

The FDA could authorize Pfizer’s updated Covid boosters by the end of the month.

The Ohio police officer who was fired after releasing a police dog on a Black man appeared to defend his actions in the immediate aftermath of the incident, according to new body camera footage.

For the second time since June, a man who was last seen at a Brooklyn music complex was found dead at a nearby creek, the New York City Police Department said.

Leprosy may now be endemic in Florida, new research published in a CDC journal suggests.

The FBI found 200 sex trafficking victims and 59 missing children during a two-week child exploitation operation last month, the agency announced.

Select: Online Shopping, Simplified

Last month was busy for our Select team, as they highlighted the best deals during Prime Week and offered reviews on tech products like Apple’s AirTags. Here are the 12 most purchased products the team covered in July, including a portable electronics organizer, a tower fan and a hammock that’s perfect for lounging on summer evenings.

Sign up to The Selection newsletter for exclusive reviews and shopping content from NBC Select. 

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