© 2024 Northeast Indiana Public Radio
NPR News and diverse music.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Underwriter Message
NPR is reporting an outage on streaming devices such as Alexa.

Morning news brief

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

The U.S. is putting new pressure on Hamas and Israel to permanently end the war in Gaza.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Yeah, President Biden surprised Israeli leaders last Friday when he went public with a cease-fire proposal that Israel had offered privately.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: This is truly a decisive moment. Israel has made their proposal. Hamas says it wants a cease-fire. This deal is an opportunity to prove whether they really mean it.

INSKEEP: Biden's speech set off debate inside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet, which raises the question as to whether Israel can deliver on its own cease-fire deal.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Daniel Estrin is in Tel Aviv. Daniel, what does this cease-fire proposal say?

MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Daniel Estrin is in Tel Aviv. Daniel, what does this cease-fire proposal say?

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Well, it's a proposal for a six-week initial cease-fire, which would include a major hostage prisoner exchange. And it would allow Palestinians to return to north Gaza for the first time in the war. Then it would be followed with a next phase, a final release of hostages, including male Israeli soldiers. And Israeli forces would withdraw from Gaza, and it would be a permanent end of hostilities. And then there would be a final phase after that, a big reconstruction effort for rebuilding Gaza's decimated infrastructure. This is a very similar proposal to what has been proposed for many months now but that really never went anywhere. And so President Biden is making an effort for a breakthrough here. And he said, quote, it's "time for this war to end.".

MARTÍNEZ: OK. Now, are Hamas and Israel on board with this framework to end the war?

ESTRIN: Hamas says it is. It says it's ready to deal with the proposal positively and constructively. You know, President Biden is promising Hamas what it essentially has been asking for all along, which is a guaranteed and permanent end of the war. And our producer in Gaza, Anas Baba, has spoken to residents in Gaza who are eager to see President Biden push this deal through. The bigger question, A, is if Israel is ready to get on board. Biden has packaged this as a cease-fire that Israel is backing when in reality there is major disagreement about this in Israel.

Public opinion-wise, there is a new survey that found 40% of Israelis polled do support the cease-fire deal. If you look at the military, you see that Israel's army is actually focusing new attention elsewhere. In addition to Gaza, it's focusing on the Lebanon border and training troops there because there's been an escalation of Hezbollah fire onto Israel.

The problem here with this deal is political. On the one hand, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed this plan privately. That's what an Israeli official tells me. But Netanyahu cannot come out and say it outright because the far-right flank in his government is threatening to resign over this proposal because they say it would keep Hamas intact. And if the far right does resign, Netanyahu simply won't have a government anymore and that could spell the end of his political career.

MARTÍNEZ: So if Netanyahu is in this bind, how is it likely to play out?

ESTRIN: Well, Netanyahu, you know, does have an important choice to make. Ending the war could cost him his own political survival. At the moment, Israel's government politicians are holding consultations. They're making their own calculations about whether to embrace this deal. And Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken with Netanyahu's two other war cabinet members to try to push it through. Biden is making the case here that accepting the deal will bring a reward for Israel, which is diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia, something Israel has long sought. And Biden is saying that that can help Israel become less isolated globally over its actions in Gaza.

MARTÍNEZ: All right, that's NPR's Daniel Estrin in Tel Aviv, Daniel, Thanks.

ESTRIN: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTÍNEZ: Today in federal court in Delaware, jury selection begins in the Hunter Biden trial on gun charges.

INSKEEP: This case against the president's son was brought by Justice Department special counsel David Weiss. Just last week, former President Trump was in the spotlight denouncing the jury verdict against him in a Democratic state. Now trial begins for a Biden as part of an investigation that dates back to President Trump's administration.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas is joining us now. Ryan, a gun case against Hunter Biden here, but what are the charges he's facing?

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: So there are three charges against Hunter here that all relate to a Colt Cobra revolver that he bought in October of 2018. He faces two counts of making false statements when purchasing the weapon. Prosecutors say that Hunter lied on a federal background check form he had to fill out when buying the gun. That form has a boilerplate question that asks whether you use illegal drugs or are addicted to drugs. Prosecutors say that Hunter lied on that form by checking the no box - in other words, saying that he wasn't using illegal drugs when prosecutors say he was. And then there's, of course, also the third count, and that is for the unlawful possession of a firearm by a drug user or addict.

MARTÍNEZ: OK, how do prosecutors intend to prove their case?

LUCAS: Well, they've said in filings and in open court that they expect to call around a dozen witnesses. That includes Hunter's ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, as well as the widow of his brother Beau, Hallie Biden. Hunter had a romantic relationship with her after Beau died. Prosecutors say that Hallie Biden will testify that Hunter had the gun in question, that she threw it into a dumpster outside a market in Wilmington less than two weeks after he bought it. That gun was later found by a man collecting recyclables. He's the one who turned it over to law enforcement.

Prosecutors also intend to use parts of Hunter's own memoir as evidence, as well as Hunter's own text messages related to his drug use. But to be clear, Hunter has been very open, including in his memoir, about his addiction to crack cocaine, to alcohol. But this trial looks like it's going to put that struggle and the toll that it took on the Biden family very much in the national spotlight.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. Now, how will Hunter Biden's attorneys plan to counter the government's case?

LUCAS: Well, they think they can challenge some of the evidence. There has been, though, it has to be said, a lot of legal wrangling in the lead-up to this trial. Hunter's attorneys have tried to get this case dismissed on a bunch of different grounds. The judge has denied those. But this time last year, it looked like Hunter was going to be able to avoid trial entirely. He had a tentative deal to plead guilty to misdemeanor tax charges and to avoid prosecution entirely on the gun charges. But that deal fell apart dramatically in court. Weeks later, Weiss was appointed special counsel. He then indicted Hunter on these gun charges.

A few months after that, Weiss separately brought tax charges against Hunter in California. That case is scheduled to go to trial in September. Now, Hunter's attorney, Abbe Lowell, has argued that these gun offenses are usually not charged. And he's argued that the special counsel has folded, essentially, to Republican pressure on the Hill and that this whole prosecution is politically motivated.

MARTÍNEZ: There is quite the political backdrop for this trial. The son of a president going on trial as his father runs for reelection. I mean, could this possibly hurt President Biden?

LUCAS: Well, look, it comes at a tricky time for the president politically, of course. We're just - what? - five months out from the election. Republicans have certainly in the past tried to play up Hunter's legal troubles, his international business dealings in an effort to muddy his father. And there's every reason to believe that they're going to try to do that with this trial again.

But Hunter, of course, is the one on trial, not President Biden. Hunter is not running for president. And, of course, the man who is running against Biden for the presidency, former President Trump, was just found guilty by a jury in New York of falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments to an adult film star. But Trump is still leading Biden in many polls, so it's hard to say what the political impact, if any, Hunter's legal troubles will have on his father's political fortunes. We're going to have to wait and see. Hunter's trial, though, opens today with jury selection. And this trial could last up to two weeks.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas. Ryan, thanks.

LUCAS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTÍNEZ: OK, here's the sound of history being made in Mexico City.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT-ELECT CLAUDIA SHEINBAUM: (Speaking Spanish).

INSKEEP: Presidential Candidate Claudia Sheinbaum says women have reached the presidency of the Mexican republic for the first time in 200 years. She said las mujeres got there - women, plural - now that election results show that Sheinbaum herself is heading for a landslide victory.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Eyder Peralta joins us now from Mexico City. Eyder, Sheinbaum has been the favorite for months, so the results aren't necessarily a surprise, but tell us what it was like. Describe that moment.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Well, look, the electoral commission took unusually long to announce its results. But just before midnight, the commissioners came on TV and said that according to preliminary results, Claudia Sheinbaum had achieved an irreversible lead. I was at the Zocalo, which is Mexico City's main square, where many of her supporters had gathered. And it was an emotional moment. There were little girls with their moms, older women with their adult daughters. And it's hard to overstate what this moment meant for them. It has been just over 70 years since women were allowed to vote here, and now they were welcoming a woman president-elect. Let me play you a little bit of what it sounded like.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

PERALTA: And here at the Zocalo, it is being celebrated as a woman breaking the highest of glass ceilings.

(CHEERING)

PERALTA: And all of this is happening in a country that is notoriously machista. But now Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo, a 61-year-old environmental engineer, the former mayor of Mexico City, she will become the first woman to hold the most powerful office in this country.

MARTÍNEZ: Sounds like a party, Eyder.

PERALTA: Yeah.

MARTÍNEZ: So what about the women at the square, what did they tell you?

PERALTA: You know, I saw women cry. I saw women dancing. I saw women hugging the Mexican flag and holding little dolls of Claudia Sheinbaum. I found 69-year-old Rosa Maria Garcia (ph) just staring at the presidential palace in front of her. And she told me that she has always felt that, like, this was a dream because she felt the power structures in Mexico had been in place too long. And she thought that maybe Mexicans could never break free of them. But today, she says, they did.

ROSA MARIA GARCIA: (Speaking Spanish).

PERALTA: "I'm emotional," she says. "I feel complete seeing that a fellow woman will be in charge of the Mexican people." And, you know, before today, I had heard skepticism. Many women had told me that having a woman in the presidency didn't necessarily mean that she would be a feminist or that their lives would improve. And today, I heard none of that. I heard women who were proud of their country and who were simply enjoying the moment.

MARTÍNEZ: All right, so the inauguration would be in October. Tell us about Mexico's president-elect and her policies.

PERALTA: Claudia Sheinbaum is a protege of the current president of Mexico, so she has hewed very closely to his policies. And so she's very likely to retain or even expand the welfare state that has made President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador very popular. But also, early results seem to show that Sheinbaum's party might have achieved a supermajority in Congress. And Sheinbaum and her party say that they want to amend the Constitution, to reform the judiciary, the electoral commission and to put at least some police forces under military control. If this supermajority holds, we can safely say that President Sheinbaum will usher in huge changes to Mexico.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Eyder Peralta in Mexico City. Thanks a lot.

PERALTA: Thank you, A. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.