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Up First briefing: Judges skeptical of Trump immunity claim; Austin cancer surgery

Shannon Wright for NPR

Good morning. You're reading the Up First newsletter. Subscribe here to get it delivered to your inbox, and listen to the Up First podcast for all the news you need to start your day.

Today's top stories

Former President Donald Trump made a rare appearance yesterday before three U.S. Court of Appeals judges in Washington to make the case that he is immune from federal prosecution on charges related to the Jan. 6 insurrection. Trump's lawyers argued his official acts as a president shouldn't be prosecuted unless he is impeached and convicted first.

Former President Donald Trump reacts to supporters during a commit to caucus rally, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023, in Waterloo, Iowa.
Charlie Neibergall / AP
Former President Donald Trump reacts to supporters during a commit to caucus rally, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023, in Waterloo, Iowa.

  • All three judges seemed dubious about siding with Trump, NPR's Carrie Johnson tells Up First. One asked Trump's attorney, Dean John Sauer, if he believed a president could be charged with a crime for selling pardons and military secrets or ordering the assassination of a political rival. Johnson adds the court didn't give a timetable for when they would make their decision. Trump has more court appearances coming up. Closing arguments for the New York civil fraud trial against him and his company begin tomorrow.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spent the last week at the hospital. Until yesterday, no one knew why. Walter Reed National Military Medical Center says Austin was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer last month. He was hospitalized on Jan. 1 due to complications from a procedure to remove his prostate gland.

  • NPR's Greg Myre says it's "really not clear" why the White House and other national security leaders were not made aware of Austin's condition until now. The White House says he will stay in his position. White House chief of staff Jeff Zients said yesterday Cabinet secretaries must now submit in writing their protocols for delegating authority.
  • Medical ethicist Keisha Ray speaks with Morning Edition to discuss the privacy rights of public officials and whether the public has a right to know why Austin was hospitalized. 

As a potential government shutdown looms nine days away, House Republicans are focused on two other issues: impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayoraks and holding President Biden's son Hunter in contempt of Congress.

  • GOP representatives have singled out Mayorkas, arguing he's failed to address the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border and isn't enforcing current immigration laws, NPR's Deirdre Walsh says. The move to hold Hunter Biden in contempt is related to the impeachment inquiry into President Biden. They say Hunter Biden has defied requests to testify in a closed-door testimony. Hunter Biden says he will only testify in public. 

Today's listen

/ Pat Davis
Pat Davis

Millions of monarch butterflies migrate down the east coast of the U.S. each year to spend the winter in Mexico. But Sofi Gratas, a journalist and longtime volunteer at Monarchs Across Georgia, says their patterns are changing, with many staying in the U.S. rather than migrating. Scientists are relying on citizens to help determine what this means for the butterflies' future.

Listen to Gratas tell All Things Considered how you can report monarch sightings and what to look out for.

Life Kit resolutions planner

This month, we are highlighting some of the most popular New Year's resolutions. Find a resolution and stick to it for the entire year with Life Kit's planner.

  • Getting in shape is a common goal for the new year. Life Kit's best health advice will help you find a routine you like and stick to it, whether you love cardio, prefer weights or don't know where to start:
  • Exercise doesn't have to be all or nothing. Any movement is better than none.
  • If you're new to weightlifting, start with beginner training plans focusing on compound movements that use multiple sets of muscles together.
  • Running can seem scary. Learn how to find the right shoes, breathe intentionally and find the pace that works for you.
  • Looking for something less intense? These four simple exercises will help ease the pain from slouching all day.

Set yourself up for success with your workout with Life Kit's tips for getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, eating mindfully and more.

3 things to know before you go

Tiger Woods celebrates on the 18th green after winning the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia.
Andrew Redington / Getty Images
Getty Images
Tiger Woods celebrates on the 18th green after winning the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia.

  1. Tiger Woods and Nike Golf announced Monday that their partnership was ending. Take a look at five of the most iconic ads from the three-decade-long brand partnership. 
  2. Many Mohawk people are raving about Kahhori, a new Indigenous superhero introduced in the animated series What If... that reimagines what it would have been like if Mohawks rejected their Spanish colonizers. (via NCPR)
  3. Researchers at Columbia and Rutgers University have found roughly 240,000 detectable plastic fragments in a typical liter of bottled water — an amount in concentrations 10 to 100 times more than previously estimated. 

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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