AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT

Cohen's credibility, campaigning at court and other takeaways from Trump trial's closing arguments

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s lawyers and Manhattan prosecutors made their final pitches Tuesday to jurors who will decide whether the Republican will be the first former U.S. president convicted of a crime, squaring off over the strength of the evidence and credibility of the prosecution’s star witness as his hush money trial drew toward a close.

After listening to more than four weeks of testimony, the panel of New Yorkers sat attentively through a marathon of closing arguments — almost three hours from the defense and roughly five from the prosecution — that stretched from morning until dinner time.

The jury could begin deliberating as early as Wednesday to decide if Trump is guilty of falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments during the 2016 presidential campaign to a porn actor who claimed she had sex with him. Trump says Stormy Daniels’ story is a lie and that he’s innocent of the charges. The judge is expected to give jurors instructions on Wednesday before they begin deliberating.

Here are some takeaways from closing arguments:

Trump attorney Todd Blanche had a clear message for jurors: The prosecution's case rests on the testimony of Trump fixer-turned-foe Michael Cohen, and he can’t be believed. Cohen is a crucial witness because he made the $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels and the reimbursements to Cohen are what prosecutors say were falsely logged as legal expenses.


Israeli strikes kill at least 37 Palestinians, most in tents, near Gaza's Rafah as offensive expands

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli shelling and airstrikes killed at least 37 people, most of them sheltering in tents, outside the southern Gaza city of Rafah overnight and on Tuesday — pummeling the same area where strikes triggered a deadly fire days earlier in a camp for displaced Palestinians — according to witnesses, emergency workers and hospital officials.

The tent camp inferno has drawn widespread international outrage, including from some of Israel’s closest allies, over the military’s expanding offensive into Rafah. And in a sign of Israel's growing isolation on the world stage, Spain, Norway and Ireland formally recognized a Palestinian state on Tuesday.

The Israeli military suggested Sunday's blaze in the tent camp may have been caused by secondary explosions, possibly from Palestinian militants' weapons. The results of Israel's initial probe into the fire were issued Tuesday, with military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari saying the cause of the fire was still under investigation but that the Israeli munitions used — targeting what the army said was a position with two senior Hamas militants — were too small to be the source.

The strike or the subsequent fire could also have ignited fuel, cooking gas canisters or other materials in the camp. The blaze killed 45 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials’ count. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the fire was the result of a “tragic mishap.”

Israel's assault on Rafah, launched May 6, spurred more than 1 million people to flee the city, the U.N. agency helping Palestinian refugees said Tuesday. Most were already displaced multiple times in the nearly eight-month war between Israel and Hamas. Families are now scattered across makeshift tent camps and other war-ravaged areas.


Democrats plan to nominate Biden by virtual roll call to meet Ohio ballot deadline

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will be formally nominated as the Democratic presidential nominee through a virtual roll call ahead of the party’s official convention in Chicago in August — a maneuver that will allow Biden to appear on the November ballot in Ohio.

The Democratic National Convention, where the president would otherwise be formally nominated, comes after Ohio’s ballot deadline of Aug. 7. The party’s convention is scheduled for Aug. 19-22.

Ohio lawmakers have moved the deadline in the past for candidates of both parties, although they had not done so yet for Biden this year and were called to a rare special session by Gov. Mike DeWine to address the issue.

The virtual proceedings will allow Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to get the party’s formal nod and will be very similar to the process used in 2020, when the convention went virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Chicago, Democrats will still hold a state-by-state roll call that is a fixture of nominating conventions, according to a Democratic National Committee official, although it would largely be ceremonial and it's unclear how that in-person roll call would commence.

The DNC on Tuesday did not say when the virtual roll call will take place, but it is expected in the weeks after the committee’s rules and bylaws committee votes to propose changes to the roll call process. That committee vote is scheduled for June 4.


Pope apologizes after being quoted using vulgar term about gay men in talk about ban on gay priests

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis apologized Tuesday after he was quoted using a vulgar and derogatory term about gay men to reaffirm the Catholic Church’s ban on gay priests.

The ruckus that ensued underscored how the church’s official teaching about homosexuality often bumps up against the unacknowledged reality that there are plenty of gay men in the priesthood, and plenty of LGBTQ+ Catholics who want to be fully part of the life and sacraments of the church.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni issued a statement acknowledging the media storm that erupted about Francis’ comments, which were delivered behind closed doors to Italian bishops on May 20.

Italian media on Monday had quoted unnamed Italian bishops in reporting that Francis jokingly used the term “faggotness” while speaking in Italian during the encounter. He had used the term in reaffirming the Vatican’s ban on allowing gay men to enter seminaries and be ordained priests.

Bruni said Francis was aware of the reports and recalled that the Argentine pope, who has made outreach to LGBTQ+ Catholics a hallmark of his papacy, has long insisted there was “room for everyone” in the Catholic Church.


Judge denies request to restrict Trump statements about law enforcement in classified records case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The judge overseeing Donald Trump's classified documents case in Florida on Tuesday denied prosecutors' request to bar the former president from making public statements that could endanger law enforcement agents participating in the prosecution.

Prosecutors had told U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon that the restriction was necessary to protect law enforcement from potential threats and harassment after the presumptive Republican presidential nominee baselessly claimed that the Biden administration wanted to kill him during a search of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, nearly two years ago.

Cannon chided prosecutors in her order denying their request, saying they didn’t give defense lawyers adequate time to discuss the matter before it was filed Friday evening. The judge warned prosecutors that failing to comply with court requirements in the future may lead to sanctions. She denied the request without prejudice, meaning prosecutors could file it again.

A spokesperson for special counsel Jack Smith's team declined to comment Tuesday.

The judge's decision came as Trump's lawyers were delivering their closing argument at trial in another criminal case he's facing in New York stemming from a hush money payment to a porn actor during the 2016 presidential campaign.


Transitional council in Haiti selects new prime minister for a country under siege by gangs

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — U.N. development specialist Garry Conille was named Haiti’s new prime minister Tuesday evening, nearly a month after a coalition within a fractured transitional council sought to choose someone else for the position.

The long-awaited move comes as gangs continue to terrorize the capital of Port-au-Prince, opening fire in once peaceful neighborhoods and using heavy machinery to demolish several police stations and prisons.

Council member Louis Gérald Gilles told The Associated Press that six out of seven council members with voting power chose Conille earlier Tuesday. He said one member, Laurent St. Cyr, was not in Haiti and therefore did not vote.

Conille has been UNICEF's regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean since January 2023 and previously served as Haiti’s prime minister from October 2011 to May 2012 under then President Michel Martelly. He replaces Michel Patrick Boisvert, who was named interim prime minister after Ariel Henry resigned via letter in late April.

Henry was on an official trip to Kenya when a coalition of powerful gangs launched coordinated attacks Feb. 29, seizing control of police stations, shooting at Haiti’s main international airport and storming the country’s two biggest prisons, releasing more than 4,000 inmates.


Storms leave widespread outages across Texas, cleanup continues after deadly weekend across US

HOUSTON (AP) — Strong storms with damaging winds and baseball-sized hail pummeled Texas on Tuesday, leaving one person dead and about 1 million businesses and homes without power as much of the U.S. recovered from severe weather, including tornadoes, that killed at least 24 people during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Widespread outages were reported across a wide swath of storm-weary Texas, where an oppressive, early-season heat wave added to the misery. Voters in the state’s runoff elections found dozens of polling places without power. Dallas County said it would keep polls open two hours later because of the outages Tuesday.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins declared a disaster and noted that some nursing homes were using generators. “This ultimately will be a multiday power outage situation,” Jenkins said Tuesday.

Social media posts showed winds pushing one American Airlines plane away from a gate at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

The airline said in a statement that the severe weather, including straight-line wind gusts up to 80 mph, affected several parked and unoccupied aircraft. No one was injured.


Voter outreach groups targeted by new laws in several GOP-led states are struggling to do their work

WASHINGTON (AP) — During the presidential election four years ago, the Equal Ground Education Fund hired over 100 people to go door-to-door and attend festivals, college homecomings and other events to help register voters across Florida. Their efforts for this year's elections look much different.

A state law passed last year forced them to stop in-person voter registration, cut staff and led to a significant drop in funding. Organizers aren't sure how robust their operations will be in the fall.

Genesis Robinson, the group's interim executive director, said the law has had a “tremendous impact” on its ability to host events and get into communities to engage directly with potential voters.

“Prior to all of these changes, we were able to operate in a space where we were taking action and prepare our communities and make sure they were registered to vote — and help if they weren’t,” he said.

Florida is one of several states, including Kansas, Missouri and Texas, where Republicans have enacted voting restrictions since 2021 that created or enhanced criminal penalties and fines for those who assist voters. The laws have forced some voter outreach groups to cease operations, while others have greatly altered or reduced their activities.


Spain, Norway and Ireland formally recognize a Palestinian state as EU rift with Israel widens

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Spain, Norway and Ireland formally recognized a Palestinian state on Tuesday in a coordinated effort by the three Western European nations to add international pressure on Israel to soften its response to last year’s Hamas-led attack. Israel condemned the diplomatic move, which will have no immediate impact on the war in Gaza.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said in a televised address from Madrid that “this is a historic decision that has a single goal, and that is to help Israelis and Palestinians achieve peace."

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz quickly lashed out at Spain on X, saying that Sánchez's government was “being complicit in inciting genocide against Jews and war crimes.”

Ireland and Norway soon joined Spain in formalizing a decision they had jointly announced the previous week.

The Palestinian flag was raised in Dublin outside Leinster House, the seat of Ireland's parliament.


Albert Ruddy, Oscar-winning producer of 'The Godfather' and 'Million Dollar Baby,' dies at 94

NEW YORK (AP) — Albert S. Ruddy, a colorful, Canadian-born producer and writer who won Oscars for "The Godfather" and "Million Dollar Baby," developed the raucous prison-sports comedy "The Longest Yard" and helped create the hit sitcom "Hogan's Heroes," has died at age 94.

Ruddy died “peacefully” Saturday at the UCLA Medical Center, according to a spokesperson, who added that among his final words were, “The game is over, but we won the game.”

Tall and muscular, with a raspy voice and a city kid's swagger, Ruddy produced more than 30 movies and was on hand for the very top and very bottom, from the “Godfather” and “Million Dollar Baby” to "Cannonball Run II" and "Megaforce," nominees for Golden Raspberry awards for worst movie of the year.

Otherwise, he had a mix of successes such as "The Longest Yard," which he produced and created the story for, and such flops as the Arnold Schwarzenegger thriller "Sabotage." He worked often with Burt Reynolds, starting with "The Longest Yard" and continuing with two "Cannonball Run" comedies and "Cloud Nine." Besides "Hogan's Heroes," his television credits include the movies "Married to a Stranger" and "Running Mates."

Nothing looks better on your resume than "The Godfather," but producing it endangered Ruddy's job, reputation and his very life. Frank Sinatra and other Italian Americans were infuriated by the project, which they feared would harden stereotypes of Italians as criminals, and real-life mobsters let Ruddy know he was being watched. One night he heard gunfire outside his home and the sound of his car's windows being shot out.

The Associated Press