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Police move on UCLA encampment and consumers balk at fast-food prices: Morning Rundown

Plus, prosecutors will urge Judge Juan Merchan to find Trump in criminal contempt — again — for violating a gag order in his hush money trial.
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Police face stiff resistance as they move in to clear UCLA’s encampment. Biden bluntly points the finger at xenophobia for Japan’s economic problems. And a consumer pullback finally hits fast-food favorites.

Here’s what to know today.

Police move in to clear encampments at UCLA and detain protesters, facing stiff resistance

Police in riot gear have begun moving in and pulling down boards that pro-Palestinian protesters had used to fortify their encampment on the UCLA campus. Tents and gazebos were carried away by officers. A series of loud bangs can be heard — NBC Los Angeles reporter Anastassia Olmos is on the scene and reported that flashbangs were being set off by police. Several hundred officers arrived on campus in a series of buses through the early morning, hours after the encampment had been declared unlawful.

The standoff followed violent scenes in which members of the encampment say they were attacked by counterprotesters yesterday.

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Meanwhile, protesters made their first court appearances following their arrests at New York City college campuses. Two men were accused of assault on a police officer at City College of New York. And four people who were arrested in Columbia University’s Hamilton Hall were charged with criminal trespassing. 

Follow our live blog for more.

More campus protests coverage: 

Trump trial picks back up with a gag order hearing

Today, prosecutors will urge Judge Juan Merchan to find Trump in criminal contempt — again — for violating a gag order in his hush money trial, with this morning’s hearing focusing on remarks the former president made last week to reporters. Earlier this week, Merchan held Trump in contempt for a separate set of gag order violations and warned that any future violations could result in jail time.

The remarks in question happened last week when Trump referred to his former lawyer Michael Cohen as a “convicted liar” and complained that the jury is overwhelmingly Democratic, even though jurors weren’t asked about their political affiliations during the selection process.

Then the trial picks back up with more testimony from attorney Keith Davidson, who represented Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal in 2016. Davidson is expected to go over the details of the payment made to the women in exchange for keeping quiet about their alleged affairs with Trump, and then he’ll be cross-examined by Trump’s team. Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying business records related to the hush money payment to Daniels. He has pleaded not guilty and denied a relationship with both Daniels and McDougal. Here’s what else to expect today.

More on Trump’s trial: 

  • Trump’s team appears to be adjusting his courtroom optics, starting with a stack of papers placed on the table in front of him. And a complaint that “no one is defending me,” according to a source, has triggered action from Trump’s allies.

Wisconsin student fatally shot after report of a person with a gun

A student was shot and killed by police outside a Wisconsin middle school as officers responded to a report of a person with a gun, officials said. Officials confirmed the suspect was a student at Mount Horeb Middle School, located in a village about 25 miles southwest of Madison. However, officials did not give details about what led to the shooting.

The Mount Horeb Area School District announced on its Facebook page that the school system was locked down just after 11 a.m. because of an active shooter. After it was determined there were no additional suspects, students were able to reunite with their parents. No one else was injured.

Here’s what else we know.

Biden calls U.S. ally Japan ‘xenophobic,’ along with China and Russia

International Workers' Day rally in Tokyo
David Mareuil / Anadolu via Getty Images

Biden spoke bluntly yesterday, pointing the finger at xenophobia for key U.S. ally Japan’s recent economic trouble. At a campaign fundraiser to mark the start of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Biden blamed Japan, Russia and China’s slowdowns on an unwelcoming culture to immigration. 

Biden said the U.S. economy was growing in part “because we welcome immigrants.” “Think about it,” he said. “Why is China stalling so bad economically? Why is Japan having trouble? Why is Russia?” “Because they’re xenophobic,” he said. “They don’t want immigrants.” 

While many experts would agree with Biden’s statement, “it’s not something diplomatic to say about one of America’s closest allies, especially because America has its own problems with xenophobia that Japanese are seeing on the news all the time,” said Jeffrey Hall, a Japanese studies lecturer at Kanda University of International Studies . “So it just strikes me as something that was unnecessary to say in this context,” he told NBC News.

Despite facing labor shortages in key industries and a weak yen, Biden’s comments are “not really an effective way of getting Japan to fix various problems with its society,” Hall said.

Arizona governor poised to sign repeal of 1864 abortion ban

Arizona’s strict Civil War-era ban on abortion is slated to become a bygone law. Gov. Katie Hobbs is expected to sign a repeal of the near-total abortion ban this afternoon, a day after it passed in the Senate. The legislation capped a weekslong scramble to respond to the state Supreme Court’s bombshell ruling that upheld the 1864 law, which allowed for a doctor to be sent to prison for providing nearly any kind of abortion care.

However, there’s a way for Republicans who supported the ban to delay an implementation of the repeal.

Meanwhile, the state’s abortion fight has become a lightning rod in local elections, particularly in the state’s conservative 8th Congressional District. In the Phoenix-area district, Republican candidates are embracing the near-total ban.

Long-predicted consumer pullback hits fast-food chains

The cost of grabbing a bite to eat at a quick-service restaurant is rising faster than the cost of eating at home. That pinch on consumers’ wallets seems to be showing, as Starbucks, KFC and Pizza Hut announced declining same-store sales in the first quarter of this year. The long-awaited consumer pullback, as economists put it, is finally here.

Now, it looks like the competition for a smaller pool of hungry customers has grown fiercer. However, not all fast-food chains are suffering, proving that customers will still spend money on their favorites. 

The sales updates from fast-food companies comes as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell sought to reassure the nation that there is no sign of stagflation in the economy, even as inflation persists, the key interest rate is still at the highest level in more than a decade and some signs of slowing economic growth have started to emerge.  

Politics in Brief 

Leadership on the line: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene said she will force a vote next week to oust Speaker Mike Johnson, daring Democrats and Johnson’s GOP allies to step in and save his job.

Trump’s ‘annoying’ meetings: Some aides to Biden are taking notice — and umbrage — at what they see as Trump playing pretender-in-chief after his recent meetings with leaders and officials from Poland, Hungary, Japan, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia.

‘Goddamn sick of it’: Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan lashed out at Democratic Sen. Tom Carper’s staff over a provision in an FAA bill that would allow his home state, Alaska, more time to implement an EPA requirement.

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Staff Pick: Abuse and grooming in the Boy Scouts’ police Explorer program

NBC News; Sophie Park for The Marshall Project

The police Explorer program, overseen by the Boy Scouts, is supposed to teach teenagers about law enforcement. Many participants go on ride-alongs where they’re alone with officers for hours. In an investigation we published this week with The Marshall Project, we found that this lack of supervision can lead to abuse. We documented nearly 200 allegations that law enforcement personnel have groomed, sexually abused or behaved inappropriately with Explorers from the 1970s to the present. The vast majority of those affected were teenage girls — some as young as 13. — Julie Shapiro, enterprise managing editor

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  • The arrest of a high-ranking Russian official as President Vladimir Putin prepares to launch his fifth presidential term has drawn surprise and speculation from close observers of the country’s elite.
  • Prosecutors are aiming to retry Harvey Weinstein in the fall after his 2020 rape conviction was overturned.
  • The NAACP is calling for a federal investigation into the death of Frank Tyson, a 53-year-old Black man who died after repeatedly telling Ohio officers “I can’t breathe” as they pinned him to the floor.
  • Former Nickelodeon producer Dan Schneider filed a defamation lawsuit against the people and companies behind the “Quiet on Set” docuseries.

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