The Biden administration is growing concerned about how Israel is carrying out its war on Hamas. A jury’s verdict against a standard real estate fee could disrupt the housing market. And Eric Trump is set to take the stand again in his father’s civil fraud trial.
Here’s what to know today.
Gaza’s civilian crisis fuels U.S. alarm
As the humanitarian crisis in Gaza worsens and the death toll among its civilians rises, there is growing concern among top Biden administration officials about how the Israelis are carrying out the war and uncertainty about whether they can be reined in, according to two current and two former senior U.S. officials familiar with the internal discussions.
Biden and his top aides have in the past week adjusted the administration’s public message to emphasize concern for Palestinian civilians and U.S. efforts to get them humanitarian relief. The shift follows growing criticism at home and abroad of Biden’s decision to swiftly and staunchly back Israel’s military response to Hamas while initially speaking less forcefully about protecting Palestinians; meanwhile, images of civilian casualties in Gaza continue to ricochet around the world.
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivered a more strident message before arriving in Israel this morning, where he is expected to push for humanitarian pauses. “As we’ve said from the start, Israel has not only the right but the obligation to defend itself,” he told reporters before boarding his plane. “We’ve also said very clearly and repeatedly that how Israel does this matters.”
“The reality is setting in on how long it’s going to be and how hard it’s going to be,” said a former senior U.S. official familiar with the discussions inside the White House. Administration officials “are realizing the United States is increasingly going to get isolated,” the former official said. “There’s no obvious way to avoid that, and it affects everything they do.”
More on the Israel-Hamas war
Sam Bankman-Fried found guilty in FTX fraud trial
Sam Bankman-Fried, the co-founder of the digital currency exchange FTX, faces up to 110 years in prison after a federal jury found him guilty on all counts in his fraud trial, a year after FTX imploded and practically wiped out the funds of thousands of customers.
Bankman-Fried “perpetrated one of the biggest financial frauds in American history,” Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said after the verdict. “The cryptocurrency industry might be new; the players like Bankman-Fried might be new. But this kind of fraud, this kind of corruption, is as old as time.”
A jury took about four hours to find Bankman-Fried guilty on seven counts of wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering that swindled customers of FTX and lenders to its affiliated hedge fund, Alameda Research. Look back at FTX’s collapse and big moments in the trial.
House-passed bill for aid to Israel faces a Senate clash
A $14.3 billion bill that would provide aid to Israel passed in House yesterday, but its chances in the Senate appear to be slim after Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed the bill would go nowhere. Schumer’s comments followed the 226-196 vote on Thursday, mostly along party lines. President Joe Biden has also said he would veto the funding bill. Biden and Senate Democrats are instead pushing for a broader $106 billion bill that would include aid for both Israel and Ukraine, humanitarian aid for Gaza and funding for U.S. border operations.
Democrats are also taking issue with cuts to IRS funding included in the House-passed bill, pointing to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office that claims the overall measure would add billions to the deficit.
A billion-dollar verdict could disrupt the housing market
Home buyers and sellers are stuck in a holding pattern as they await the potential effects of a $1.78 billion verdict this week in Kansas City, Missouri. The case, involving the National Association of Realtors, hinged on the commissions, usually 6%, that sellers pay their agents, who then split them with the buyers’ agents. A jury determined that this standard industry practice amounts to collusion to inflate real estate fees.
For now, the practice remains intact, as the NAR promises to appeal the decision. Meanwhile, the legal uncertainty may be another reason homeowners might be inclined to wait to list their homes, at a time of challenging conditions for buyers and sellers alike.
Politics in Brief
Trump fraud trial: Eric Trump’s testimony is set to resume this afternoon, after he and Donald Trump Jr. took the stand yesterday in former President Trump’s civil fraud trial. In his first day of testimony, Eric Trump was shown proof he knew of the Trump Organization’s financial statements after testifying that he “didn’t know anything.” Read more highlights.
Artificial intelligence: Former President Barack Obama has quietly advised the White House over the last few months on its strategy to address AI, from laying the groundwork with tech companies to reaching out to advocacy groups.
Tuberville’s blockade: A spokesperson for Sen. Tommy Tuberville sparked a backlash from Republicans after privately floating primary challengers for senators who vote to end-run Tuberville’s blockade of military promotions.
Trump indictments: Federal prosecutors argued that Donald Trump is trying to delay his federal trials in Florida and Washington “at any cost.”
Staff Pick: ‘You can’t see manipulation’
Before Becky Bliefnick was found dead in her Illinois home, shot 14 times, she had turned to the court for help getting an emergency restraining order against her husband — but her request was denied. This year, Bliefnick’s estranged husband was sentenced to life in prison for her murder. Tim Stelloh and the “Dateline” team examine the complicated dynamics at play during divorce proceedings and the circumstances that would lead to Bliefnick’s death. — Claire Cardona, breaking news editor
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