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The Excerpt podcast: The temporary truce between Israel and Hamas is over

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On today’s episode of The Excerpt podcast: Israel-Hamas truce expires

The Israel-Hamas truce has expired. Plus, USA TODAY Justice Department Correspondent Aysha Bagchi breaks down the real stakes of Donald Trump’s New York civil fraud trial, the EPA proposes removing all lead water pipes, Elon Musk sends a vulgar message to advertisers leaving X after an antisemitic post, and we meet the USA TODAY Network’s new Beyoncé Reporter, Caché McClay.

Podcasts: True crime, in-depth interviews and more USA TODAY podcasts right here

Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Taylor Wilson:

Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson, and today is Friday, December 1st, 2023. This is The Excerpt.

Today, a truce has ended between Israel and Hamas. Plus we look at what exactly is at stake in Donald Trump’s New York civil fraud trial. And we hear from the USA Today Network’s new Beyoncé reporter.

The temporary truce between Israel and Hamas is over. The ceasefire lasted seven days and expired without a word from the mediator nation, Qatar. Israel resumed combat operations in Gaza this morning, minutes after the truce ended, and accused Hamas of violating the deal by firing toward Israel. Hamas released eight Israelis yesterday, and another group of Palestinians were let out of Israeli prisons earlier today, hours before the truce came to an end. Over 100 hostages were freed during the ceasefire, and Israel says around 125 people remain hostage. Some 240 Palestinians released were mostly teenagers accused of throwing stones and firebombs during confrontations with Israeli forces.

The ceasefire expiration comes after Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday in Jerusalem. There he reaffirmed US support for what he called Israel’s right to protect itself in compliance with international humanitarian law. While urging Israel to avoid harming civilians. It’s still not clear what this next phase of the war will look like. Israel previously slammed Gaza with airstrikes and a ground incursion, often destroying homes and killing civilians. More than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. Some 1,200 Israelis have been killed, in addition to those taken hostage last month.

After already suffering a major blow in his ongoing New York civil fraud trial, former president Donald Trump still has a lot more he could lose. I caught up with USA Today Justice Department Correspondent Aysha Bagchi to learn more about what’s at stake.

Aysha, always good to have you on. Thanks for making the time.

Aysha Bagchi:

Thanks, Taylor. I’m happy to be here.

Taylor Wilson:

So what did Judge Engoron rule earlier this fall in the case and what’s the latest with the appeals process here?

Aysha Bagchi:

Yes. Even before the trial had really gotten going in Donald Trump’s New York civil fraud case, the judge made a ruling based on filings that had already taken place in the case that Donald Trump had committed repeated and persistent fraud, he and other defendants in the case. So the judge made that factual finding and he went ahead and said that Donald Trump’s business certificates in the state of New York should be canceled. And the judge also made a reference to the idea that Donald Trump’s limited liability companies should be dissolved. That part of the ruling wasn’t really spelled out in a lot of detail. Experts told me that that’s probably going to come down the line, but it was really a stunning, stunning decision even before the trial was underway.

Taylor Wilson:

And, Aysha, how has Trump really shown himself to be hyper-focused on this civil fraud trial in recent weeks, even while he has all kinds of other legal issues going on?

Aysha Bagchi:

Yes, Donald Trump has four criminal cases going on. Technically, if you look at the maximum penalties he could be facing, it could be up to hundreds of years. Of course, experts don’t expect that that’s actually going to happen, but there is a serious threat of prison time and he also has a presidential campaign going on. And yet we have seen him repeatedly attend the New York civil fraud trial, which has been going on spanning several, several weeks, even when he didn’t have to. Because it’s a civil case, he doesn’t have to be there except when he is forced to testify under a state subpoena, and he has shown up. He’s also posted on social media about the case repeatedly. I watched him testify in New York and he had a lot of things to say about the New York Attorney General and the judge himself. He’s shown himself to be really passionate about the case even though he has a lot of other things going on.

Taylor Wilson:

In terms of the stakes themselves, Aysha, you touched on this a bit, but in New York, what are the actual stakes of this trial for Trump going forward? We know prison time isn’t a factor here, but what else is on the table?

Aysha Bagchi:

There are a lot of things. I mean, we’ve already seen a hint of what’s on the table from how the judge has ruled so far. Donald Trump is very likely going to appeal that decision, but the New York Attorney General is seeking for Trump and other defendants, including his two oldest sons, Eric and Don Jr., to have to cough up what she estimates to be $250 million in ill-gotten gains from the fraud that she alleged and laid out in the New York lawsuit. She is also seeking to have Trump and his two oldest sons barred from ever running a New York company or serving as an officer of a New York company again, permanently. And she wants five-year bans on their ability to get loans from New York banks, New York City is the financial capital of the world. And she wants to prevent them for five years from engaging in real estate acquisitions. So, Donald Trump already called the September ruling a corporate death penalty, but the case could go much further in hampering his ability to do business and enforcing him to cough up money.

Taylor Wilson:

Yeah, no kidding. And I mean, we think of this as a New York story, Aysha, but there are stakes even beyond the New York State lines. What’s at stake outside New York, more broadly?

Aysha Bagchi:

This is a New York case. The things that the Attorney General has asked for in the state only apply to the state. The ruling would only be about things that Donald Trump could do in the state technically. But, business law experts told me that this could still impact Donald Trump more broadly. First, it impacts his brand, and that can impact people’s willingness to do business with him. But secondly, banks, financial institutions outside of New York, they have risk committees. And those risk committees would look at things like if you’ve been found liable for fraud. And then when it comes to foreign deals, there are licensing requirements in different countries that sometimes look at those sorts of court decisions as well and say, “Well, we don’t know if we want to allow you to come in and do business in our country if we see that you’ve been found liable for fraud somewhere else.” So even though the case does on its face look like it’s all focused on New York, it could impact Donald Trump in other states and internationally.

Taylor Wilson:

And just going forward, what’s next for the timeline of this trial?

Aysha Bagchi:

So we expect the trial to wrap up in December. I think the latest date I’ve heard about is December 11th. And the defense has said that it plans to call Donald Trump to the stand. So he, it seems like, will likely be testifying again in the case. And then it’s all about waiting for maybe some more filings from the parties and ultimately a decision from the judge.

Taylor Wilson:

Aysha Bagchi covers the Justice Department for USA Today. Thank you, Aysha.

Aysha Bagchi:

Thanks.

Taylor Wilson:

The remaining lead water pipes nationwide could be replaced within 10 years in order to prevent public health catastrophes like the one in Flint, Michigan. Under a new proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency, the rule would advance President Joe Biden’s years long goal of removing lead from drinking water by compelling local utilities to dig up and replace around 9 million aging pipes. Experts have long agreed that people of color and those who live in low income areas are most at risk of having high lead levels in their blood, causing permanent cognitive damage and other health problems. The project would cost tens of millions of dollars, but the EPA estimates it could generate as much as tens of billions in annual economic benefits because there would be less cognitive impairment in children and fewer health disorders. The agency said it is accepting public comments on the proposal for 60 days before it’s finalized next year. A virtual public hearing is planned for January 16th.

Elon Musk used an expletive toward advertisers who recently left the platform following anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that he has amplified. Several major companies, including Apple, IBM, and Disney pulled ads from the platform after he called an anti-Semitic post last month, quote, “The actual truth,” unquote. And speaking at the 2023 New York Times DealBook Summit on Wednesday, Musk called the advertising boycott blackmail and repeatedly told advertisers to, quote, “Expletive yourself,” unquote. He added that the ad boycott will kill the company and that the world will know it was advertisers who killed it. Musk has apologized for amplifying the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

Well, first you heard last month from our Taylor Swift reporter. Now it’s time to introduce the new dedicated Beyoncé reporter for the USA Today Network, Caché McClay. I caught up with Caché to discuss the new gig.

Caché, thank you so much for hopping on The Excerpt. Good to have you on.

Caché McClay:

Yeah. Thanks so much for having me.

Taylor Wilson:

So let’s just start here. Before we get to the new job, what is your background around Beyoncé?

Caché McClay:

Well, I grew up in a Beyoncé household. My mom and my older sister were and continue to be fans. That’s their favorite artist. And that’s also the same for me. Beyoncé has had an impact on every phase of my life. I was doing talent shows to her music, and my older sister, we would make up dance. In college, I was a part of the Lemonade craze phenomenon. My pageant, my dance was to her song. So she is my all time favorite artist, and I followed her career, much like everybody else, since I was literally a baby at home.

Taylor Wilson:

Amazing. And this is obviously such a unique and special beat. What aspects of Beyoncé do you plan to focus on and what have you covered already?

Caché McClay:

So, what I love about Beyoncé is that she has so much going on all the time. She has her foot in so many industries. I mean, she’s a luminary in the fashion world. She’s a phenomenal artist. She’s a business woman. So honestly, I’m looking forward to taking my time to tackle all those industries and unpeeling those layers. For example, her evolution as a business woman is worth looking at, from the launch of her brand House of Deréon, to now Ivy Park and her new perfume, and how her marketing has changed. Those are all things I’m looking forward to covering.

Taylor Wilson:

How do you see the balance between covering Beyoncé as a fan and a journalist?

Caché McClay:

I’m certainly a Beyoncé fan, and that’s a part of what I think is beneficial to this role, because as a fan I do have knowledge about Beyoncé and following her career. But also I’m a journalist as well, so I have a background in hard news. I’ve interviewed senators on The Hill. I definitely have experience and I know how to be impartial, and I think that’s important for any journalist to know, and I think this is no different. So, while I am a fan, I do know how to be impartial as a journalist.

Taylor Wilson:

And, Caché, why do you feel a beat like this, covering Beyoncé, is important at this moment in time?

Caché McClay:

Yeah. Well, Beyoncé, she continues to be one of the most influential women of our time. She impacts our culture. There’s even college courses centered around Beyoncé at this time. So it’s a no-brainer, it makes perfect sense, and I think there’s room for this kind of journalism right now.

Taylor Wilson:

All right. Caché McClay is the USA Today Network’s new Beyoncé reporter. You can find her on Instagram, @cachemcclay, where she’ll be going live later today at noon Eastern Time to answer reader questions. We’ll post a link in today’s show notes. So excited to follow along with your work, Caché. Thanks for coming on and talking about it.

Caché McClay:

Thank you so much.

Taylor Wilson:

And for Beyoncé fans who missed her Renaissance World Tour, you can still experience some of it on the big screen as Renaissance: a Film by Beyoncé hits theaters today.

And before we go, today is World Aids Day. According to worldaidsday.org, communities have stood together on this day since 1988 to show strength and solidarity against HIV stigma and to remember those we’ve lost.

Thanks for listening to The Excerpt. We’re produced by Shannon Rae Green and our executive producer is Laura Beatty. You can get the podcast wherever you get your audio. If you use a smart speaker, just ask for The Excerpt. I’m back tomorrow with more of The Excerpt from USA Today.

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