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Friday Briefing – The New York Times

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority appeared ready yesterday to rule that former presidents have some degree of immunity from criminal prosecution, which could further delay the criminal case against Donald Trump on charges that he plotted to subvert the 2020 election.

Such a ruling would most likely send the case back to the trial court, ordering it to draw distinctions between official and private conduct. Though there was seeming consensus among the justices that the criminal case could eventually go forward based on Trump’s private actions, the additional proceedings could make it hard to conduct the trial before the 2024 election in November.

If Trump wins the White House, he can order the Justice Department to drop the charges against him. Here are takeaways from the argument.

In Trump’s New York trial, on charges of falsifying business records, David Pecker, the former publisher of The National Enquirer, told jurors in vivid detail how Trump depended on him to buy and bury damaging stories that could have derailed Trump’s 2016 campaign.

U.S. Army engineers yesterday began constructing a floating pier off the coast of Gaza that could help relief workers deliver up to two million meals a day, Defense Department officials said.

The pier is meant to allow humanitarian aid to bypass Israeli restrictions on land convoys into the besieged strip. But aid workers and defense officials said that the maritime project is not an adequate substitute for more overland aid.

Defense officials expected the project to be completed early next month. Experts have said that famine is likely to set in within Gaza by the end of May.

New York’s highest court overturned Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 conviction on felony sex crime charges, a reversal that horrified many of the women whose decision to speak out against Weinstein, a prominent Hollywood producer, accelerated the #MeToo movement.

The court said that the trial judge who presided over the sex crimes case made a critical error by allowing prosecutors to call as witnesses several women who testified that Weinstein had assaulted them, even though none of those allegations had led to charges.

Weinstein is still not a free man. He is facing a 16-year sentence in California, and Manhattan’s district attorney said through a spokeswoman that he planned to retry the 2020 case.

Our critic Jason Farago writes that the 2024 Venice Biennale, which opened this week, is at best a missed opportunity, and at worst something like an artistic tragedy.

The real problem is how the show tokenizes, essentializes, minimizes and pigeonholes the more than 300 talented artists it showcases, Farago writes. While there was much he liked in the exhibition, he writes that “the human complexity of artists gets upstaged by their designation as group members, and art itself gets reduced to a symptom or a triviality.”

Coaching moves: Which soccer managers are going where?

French Open: Rafael Nadal cast doubt over playing Roland Garros unless he starts feeling better.

Host options dwindling: Salt Lake City is lined up for the 2034 Winter Olympics — and maybe beyond.

South Africans will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the first post-apartheid elections tomorrow.

A little more than a month later, on May 29, they will vote in a national election that could bring about a big shift: The African National Congress, which has governed for those three decades, could lose its majority for the first time.

“It almost feels impossible to separate the election year from the major anniversary year,” my colleague Lynsey Chutel, who reports from Johannesburg, told me.

“The anniversary is forcing not just parties, but also South Africans, to reflect: ‘What do the last 30 years mean to us?’” she added. “‘And how do we get back that political optimism and economic strength?’”

How does the legacy of apartheid shape life in South Africa today?

Lynsey: If you’re walking down the streets of a suburb in Johannesburg, you can look around at the gains made. It’s a leafy suburb. There are sidewalk cafes. People are chatting.

But the majority of people who are enjoying that progress are white. And the majority of people who are servers or in low-wage jobs are Black. Black South Africans simply haven’t caught up in terms of wealth.

Let’s fast-forward to next month’s election. What is the mood?

The A.N.C.’s popularity is possibly at its lowest, and it has never had to work so hard to convince South Africans to vote for them. Some young people see this vote as being as pivotal as 1994’s. Many are deeply disillusioned. High unemployment and corruption scandals have eroded their faith in politicians.

Opposition parties are stepping up and saying, “We are finally in a place where we think we can lead now.”

That is a huge shift from 1994, which felt like an affirmation of Nelson Mandela and his party, and the end of apartheid. This year, the mood among the voters I’ve spoken to is, “How do we use the elections to get the country back on track and take advantage of that post-apartheid freedom?”

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