April 04, 2023

Good Tuesday afternoon. Today's PM — edited by Kate Nocera and Alex Fitzpatrick — is 572 words, a 2-min. read. Thanks to Sheryl Miller for the copy edit.

1 big thing: 34 COUNTS

Former President Trump sits at the defense table with his defense team in Manhattan court this afternoon. Photo: Seth Wenig/AP

Former President Donald Trump entered Manhattan Criminal Court around 1:24 p.m. ET today, marking his official arrest.

  • At his arraignment shortly after, Trump and the world learned he had been charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records relating to hush-money payments made around the time of the 2016 election.

According to prosecutors, the charges stem from several "catch and kill" schemes in addition to the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels.

  • Prosecutors say the National Enquirer paid $30,000 to a former Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have a story about a child Trump fathered out of wedlock.
  • The tabloid also paid $150,000 to another woman, believed to be former Playboy model Karen McDougal, to cover up an affair, per the charges.
  • Trump then "explicitly directed a lawyer who then worked for the Trump Organization" — Michael Cohen — to reimburse the Enquirer. The Enquirer refused payment but admitted to making false business entries.
  • Trump used Cohen to reimburse Daniels, through checks from the "Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust" and his own bank account — each "illegally disguised as a payment for legal services rendered pursuant to a non-existent retainer agreement," the charges say.

Trump didn't speak publicly before or after the brief hearing. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Photo: Gotham/GC Images

As he left Trump Tower today, Trump raised his fist to greet the throngs of supporters (and protestors).

  • Minutes before he entered the New York courthouse, Trump posted on his Truth Social account: "Heading to Lower Manhattan, the Courthouse. Seems so SURREAL — WOW, they are going to ARREST ME. Can't believe this is happening in America. MAGA!"

Trump's 2024 campaign began advertising a T-shirt (free with a $47 contribution) with a fake mug shot of Trump above the phrase "NOT GUILTY."

2. 📸 Chaotic courthouse scene

Photo: Ismail Ferdous/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Hordes of people flocked to Lower Manhattan near the courthouse as Trump was put under arrest and arraigned.

  • Metal barricades divided Trump's supporters and critics as they gathered at a park across the street.
Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) made a brief appearance and spoke to the crowd of Trump supporters.

Photo: Angela Wise/AFP via Getty Images

Above: A Trump supporter tears up a banner from anti-Trump protesters.

3. Catch me up

NATO members in Europe
Data: NATO. Map: Jacque Schrag/Axios
  1. Finland just became the 31st member of NATO — a once-unthinkable step that significantly changes the security landscape in Europe. Go deeper.
  2. The SEC charged Charlie Javice, the founder of now-defunct student financial-aid assistance company Frank, with fraud after she was accused of deceiving JPMorgan Chase into a $175 million acquisition. Go deeper.

4. 🎆 Looking for STEVE

A STEVE arc aurora to the left, over the Waterton River at Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, in 2020. Photo: Alan Dyer/VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

An elusive aurora-like phenomenon playfully named STEVE is expected to be a more common nighttime sight in the coming years, Axios' Kelly Tyko reports.

  • STEVE — short for "Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement" — appears as a colorful arc of purple or white light. STEVE isn't an aurora, but a "skyglow" created by heated and shining particles.
  • Thanks to a dramatic uptick in solar activity, STEVE should be easier to spot.

Keep an eye on space weather forecasts for an early heads-up about potential STEVE appearances.

  • If conditions are favorable — meaning, high solar activity and clear night skies in your area — head to your nearest dark sky site for the best chance to see STEVE — and the aurora, too.

Go deeper.