Thursday Briefing: A Court Rules Trump Can’t Hold Office

The Colorado Supreme Court building in Denver on Tuesday.Credit…Stephen Speranza for The New York Times

A state court ruled that Trump can’t hold office

The top court in Colorado ruled on Tuesday that former President Donald Trump was disqualified from holding office again because he had engaged in insurrection with his actions leading up to the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump said that he would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The explosive ruling is likely to put a major component of the 2024 presidential election in the hands of America’s highest court.

The ruling is based on a provision of the 14th Amendment, which was written after the Civil War in the 1860s. It bars those who have previously taken an oath “to support the Constitution of the United States” from holding office if they “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

Under the ruling, Trump’s name would be excluded from the state’s Republican primary ballot. It does not address the general election.

The Supreme Court has a 6-to-3 conservative majority, with three justices appointed by Trump himself. While the court has favored a number of staunchly conservative policies, my colleagues write in the Trump on Trial newsletter that the justices have shown less of an appetite for supporting Trump’s attempts to bend the presidency to his benefit or manipulate the democratic process.

An important detail: Trump could remain on the ballot regardless. The Colorado justices put their ruling on hold until Jan. 4, as appeals are likely to proceed.

What’s next? If the case goes to the Supreme Court, it could take some time for the justices to grapple with the case’s many interlocking legal issues. They are expected to rule on other legal cases that involve Trump in the run-up to the election. They may also be reluctant to take away from voters the decision of whether they want Trump for president.

Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s top political leader, in 2021.Credit…Aziz Taher/Reuters

A Hamas leader traveled to Egypt for talks on Gaza

Ismail Haniyeh, the top political leader of Hamas, was in Cairo yesterday for talks on a possible truce that could lead to the release of Israeli hostages. Israel and Hamas are trying, via mediators in Egypt and Qatar, to discuss a new cease-fire, and some proposals have been put on the table, an official familiar with the talks said.

Here’s the latest.

An Israeli official said initial steps had been made in the negotiations but emphasized that there was no deal yet. A senior Hamas official said that Israel would need to abide by a new, sustained cease-fire and allow the unlimited entry of aid into Gaza before Hamas would start discussing the release of more hostages. Israel believes that 129 people, mostly men, are still being held captive.

Context: Israel has vowed to topple Hamas’s rule in Gaza, but recent events have complicated its negotiating position. International calls for a cease-fire have grown, and the accidental killing of three hostages by Israeli soldiers last week has heightened domestic pressure to secure another hostage deal.

At the U.N.: For the second time in two days, the Security Council delayed a vote on a resolution calling for a halt in fighting. Diplomats said that the U.S. requested the pause to allow more time for negotiations.

A satellite image of the Lop Nur military base.Credit…Maxar

China rebuilds a secretive base for nuclear tests

Satellite images reveal that China is making hundreds of upgrades and expansions to Lop Nur — a military base in a remote desert in the Xinjiang region — where the country first detonated an atomic bomb nearly 60 years ago. The upgrades include a deep vertical shaft that would support larger atomic tests — the strongest evidence yet that Beijing is weighing dry runs for a new generation of nuclear arms.

Analysts warned that the activity at Lop Nur signals a wide modernization of China’s nuclear establishment that could speed arms buildups and spark a new age of atomic rivalry.

Response: The Foreign Ministry in Beijing has dismissed questions about the upgrades at the base as “clutching at shadows, groundlessly whipping up a ‘China nuclear threat.’”


Asia Pacific

Rescue workers in Gansu province on Tuesday.Credit…CHINATOPIX, via Associated Press
  • The earthquake death toll in China rose to 131 as rescuers continued to search for survivors among the rubble.

  • Just a few miles west of Bondi Beach, densely built suburbs in Sydney are amplifying the dangers of climate change.

  • South Korean tech firms are hoping that focusing on languages other than English in A.I. will give them a developmental edge against their U.S. counterparts.

  • An Australian court fined Airbnb 15 million Australian dollars for charging Australian customers in U.S. dollars.

Around the World

Campaign posters in Kinshasa on Saturday.Credit…Guerchom Ndebo for The New York Times
  • Voting in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election got off to a rocky start, with widespread delays, disorder and scenes of violence.

  • Wad Madani, a major city in Sudan’s agricultural breadbasket, was taken by paramilitary forces, casting doubt on the strength of Sudan’s army.

  • The U.S. said it agreed to release a close ally of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela in exchange for 10 jailed Americans.

  • The E.U. struck a deal to overhaul its joint migration system, aiming to make it easier to deport failed asylum seekers and limit the entry of migrants.

Other Big Stories

  • Deploying sea drones against Russian vessels has afforded Ukraine some successes on the water this year that have eluded it on land.

  • What’s next for Ozempic and similar weight-loss drugs? Scientists are exploring what other conditions they can treat, like addiction or liver disease.

  • France’s government is trying to smooth over the cracks in President Emmanuel Macron’s coalition after Parliament passed a contentious immigration bill.

A Morning Read

Grimace had a year.Credit…McDonalds

You may have forgotten — or wanted to forget — what happened on the internet in 2023. Did you see the snack plate known as Girl Dinner, Barney’s makeover or Emily Mariko’s wedding? If not, we’ve got you covered with our list of the top social media trends of the year.


Credit…Xinmei Liu

In China, an egg-fried uproar

Wang Gang, one of China’s most popular food bloggers, has made multiple recipe videos about egg fried rice. But a video posted on Nov. 27, two days after the anniversary of the death of the son of Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China, drew the wrath of the official Chinese media and the internet. (Mao’s son was killed in the Korean War while, legend has it, cooking egg fried rice.)

On social media, Wang was called “a traitor” and “the dregs of society,” while the former editor of The Global Times, the Communist Party tabloid, advised everyone to avoid the topic of egg fried rice entirely around the anniversary.

The episode shows the extent to which everyday life in China is politicized, and the absurdity of the limits on free speech, Li Yuan writes in her New New World column.


Credit…Christopher Testani for The New York Times

Cook: A toasty top, a moist interior: This baked oatmeal is a simple, satisfying breakfast.

Sleep: Is it really that bad to eat late at night? Here’s what to know.

Entertain: Forget carols and Christmas films. Bring on the ghost stories!

Clean: Humidifiers get gross fast. Here’s what to do about it.

Play Spelling Bee, the Mini Crossword, Wordle and Sudoku. Find all our games here.

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

P.S. Share your holiday memories with us by filling out this form.

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