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Morning Rundown: Ron DeSantis' strategy to take on Trump, E. Jean Carroll adds to defamation suit, volcanic ash in Mexico City

When it comes to Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis will be "strategic," as his team puts it, about crossing into Mar-a-Lago territory.

DeSantis' expected presidential run likely won't include personal jabs against Trump. A man was arrested and a Nazi flag was seized after a truck crash near the White House. And a volcano causes disruptions as ash rains over Mexico City.

Here’s what to know today.

Inside DeSantis' 'strategic' campaign against Trump

Ron DeSantis is the self-designated "new sheriff in town" in his fight with Disney. He boasts about sending migrants to Martha's Vineyard. He thrives on enemy slights and gleefully dives into culture wars. But when it comes to Donald Trump, he'll be "strategic," as his team puts it, about crossing into Mar-a-Lago territory.

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The Florida governor is expected to launch his presidential run this week. When he does, he enters the same trap as most of his Republican competitors. They pose a threat to front-runner Trump, but they'll pull their punches to not drive away the vital voters they might need to win the GOP nomination.

Another challenge: Trump can launch attacks on his foes and walk away unscathed, but if his opponents attempt the same, it’s a meltdown, senior politics reporter Natasha Korecki writes. 

With help from his advisers, DeSantis is expected to point out that he decisively won his re-election in 2022, seize on Trump's impulse to be against whatever he is for and highlight that he could serve a full eight years.

Take a closer look at what DeSantis’ presidential campaign could look like as he takes on Trump.

More on the 2024 presidential election

  • Trump tried to persuade DeSantis not to run, threatening personal attacks and a brutal fight that would divide the Republican Party. It didn’t work.
  • DeSantis has been heralding his “Florida Blueprint” as he travels the country, but he has found that not every state wants to be Florida .

Colorado River water agreement tackles short-term fears

The agreement reached by seven states to keep the drought-stricken Colorado River flowing could avert a looming crisis and put states on a more sustainable trajectory for water use, but it calls for less conservation than what some scientists say is required to stabilize the river. 

As part of the deal, three states — Arizona, California and Nevada — have agreed on a plan to conserve at least 3 million acre-feet of water by 2026. (That’s about how much water it would take to fill 6 million Olympic-sized swimming pools.) Federal funds would also compensate farmers, tribal communities, cities and other water users that take steps to voluntarily cut back water use. Here’s what else the deal entails.

Now, officials hope to pivot discussions to “post-2026 operations,” according to a letter from the three states’ governors. 

Nazi flag seized after truck crashes into barriers near the White House

The driver of a truck that crashed into security barriers near the White House on Monday night was arrested on multiple charges, including threatening to kill or harm a president, vice president or family member, officials said.

A Nazi flag was seized by authorities at the scene of the incident, which left no one injured.

A law enforcement official told NBC News that the suspect made threatening statements about the White House at the scene but was quickly detained. The truck was found to contain no weapons or explosives, the official said, without providing further details about the incident.

E. Jean Carroll seeks new damages in Trump lawsuit

Writer E. Jean Carroll asked a judge to update her still-pending original defamation lawsuit, seeking a “very substantial” punitive damages, after former President Donald Trump called her a “whack job” during his CNN town hall earlier this month. Carroll is now asking for a total of at least $10 million in compensatory damages for her defamation claims and additional damages “to be determined at trial.”

Loved ones mourn 2 boys found dead in NYC waterways

Eleven-year-old Afla Barrie and 13-year-old Garrett Warren were friends with big ambitions. Sadly, their dreams will never be realized.

The bodies of the two boys were found in waterways in Manhattan last week — Barrie’s remains were found in the Hudson River on Saturday, and Warren’s in the Harlem River two days earlier. Authorities are investigating the mysterious deaths.

Reporter Daniel Arkin spoke to those who knew the boys. Barrie’s older brother remembered his little brother as a “people person” who loved math and dreamt of becoming an engineer. And a staff member at Warren’s school described him as a “kind, funny and goofy child” who hoped to become a football champion or business titan.

Volcano spews ash over Mexico City

Officials in Mexico are watching an eruptive volcano named Popocatépetl closely as it continued to impact air travel yesterday after a weekend of flight cancellations and delays. Activity from the volcano was noted by NASA scientists over a month ago, and researchers have measured plumes as high as 4.5 miles. 

▼ Today’s Talker

Social media use among teens is …

… driving depression, anxiety and other mental health problems, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned in a new report that also urges lawmakers and tech companies to enact safety standards. “It’s not really fair to put the onus on parents alone,” one advocate says. The report also blames social media use for perpetuating eating disorders, body dysmorphia and low self-esteem. 

▼ Politics in Brief

Exclusive interview: South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott vowed to not overturn the election if he loses and drew contrasts with Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis in his first interview since he announced his presidential bid.

TikTok ban: TikTok has filed a lawsuit against Montana over a new law that would stop people from downloading the app, arguing the ban violates the First Amendment. 

Debt ceiling: A meeting between President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy yesterday failed to yield a deal to avert a debt limit breach, but both sides agreed that talks were “productive.”

▼ Staff Pick

Ukraine’s long shadow

Western sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine have driven Russia closer to its neighbor China, politically and economically. International correspondent Janis Mackey-Frayer takes us to Heihe, China, across a river from Russia, where economic and cultural exchange is flourishing. Mackey-Frayer, along with Asia editor Jennifer Jett and Beijing-based researcher Dawn Liu convey Chinese President Xi Jinping’s delicate approach to Russia and the conflict in Ukraine. — Richie Duchon, deputy director of owned platforms

▼ In Case You Missed It

Independent adjusters in Florida allege insurance companies manipulated damage estimates after Hurricane Ian. Watch Lester Holt’s Nightly News investigation.

Bryan Kohberger, the suspect accused of fatally stabbing four Idaho college students, stood silent in court as a judge entered not guilty pleas on all murder charges.

A California man who stopped to help a family of ducks safely cross a road was struck and killed by a teen driver, officials said.

A new search for Madeleine McCann, the British 3-year-old who disappeared in Portugal in 2007, will begin in the next few days

▼ Select: Online Shopping, Simplified

 Many brands are hosting sales on items like mattresses, furniture, grills and TVs ahead of Memorial Day next week. Here are the best sales to shop now from retailers like Amazon, Home Depot and Walmart.

Thanks for reading today’s Morning Rundown. Today’s newsletter was curated for you by Elizabeth Robinson. If you’re a fan, please send a link to your family and friends. They can sign-up here.