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Morning news brief

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Former President Donald Trump's lawyers have until 5 p.m. today to respond to a request from prosecutors.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Yeah, the prosecutors want a protective order. They have to share evidence with the defendant as he prepares for a conspiracy trial for trying to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election. What they don't want is Trump spreading sensitive information and speeches on social media.

MCCAMMON: Franco Ordoñez covers Trump and the White House and has been covering all of this. Hi, Franco.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Hey, Sarah.

MCCAMMON: So first, what does a protective order mean in this case?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah, I mean, it's kind of like what Steve said. I mean, the order specifically seeks to stop Trump from sharing protected info - and his legal team. We're talking about things like grand jury testimony, info about witnesses.

MCCAMMON: And how is Trump's team responding to all of this?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, I mean, the two sides were trading legal barbs over the weekend. And it's pretty common in criminal cases to keep sensitive information under wraps. But Trump's attorney, John Lauro, said on CNN that they will fight the order.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN LAURO: The press and the American people in a campaign season have a right to know what the evidence is in this case, provided that this evidence is not protected otherwise.

ORDOÑEZ: Sarah, though, prosecutors do have a lot of concerns. I mean, they say Trump has already made public statements about judges and attorneys on the case. And they worry that sharing more info could have a, quote, "chilling effect" on witnesses or impact justice being carried out in the case fairly.

MCCAMMON: So they're trying to keep Trump quiet. You know, in making this request, prosecutors have noted a Truth Social post that Trump shared on Friday where he said, if you go after me, I'm coming after you. Franco, how does that play into all this?

ORDOÑEZ: I mean, it shows that Trump is not afraid to attack his opponents. He's got a huge megaphone and he has no hesitation of using it. And it's tricky for prosecutors. And it shows how extraordinary this case is. Considering the highly sensitive nature of what's at stake, prosecutors are worried. And there really is so much unpredictability. And we should remember that the whole classified documents case, the other case, is based on alleged indiscretion of national secrets.

MCCAMMON: Now, one of the key figures and, I think, one of the really interesting figures in all of this, of course, is former Vice President Mike Pence, who, as we know, is also running for president. What's he been saying about this case?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah, a number of the Republican candidates have been careful about not wanting to alienate Trump's base. But on this issue, January 6, Pence has been talking tough and casting himself as defending the Constitution. Here he is on CBS's "Face The Nation."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FACE THE NATION")

MIKE PENCE: Our Constitution is more important than any one man. And our country's more important than any one man's career. And, you know, I'm running because - not just I kept faith with the Constitution every day for those four years, but also because this country is in a lot of trouble.

ORDOÑEZ: You know, at the same time, though, he's also claiming that the Justice Department is politicized. You know, Pence has yet to qualify for the upcoming Republican debate. So he really needs to make some bold moves if he wants to get up on that stage, so that might be some of this.

MCCAMMON: Right. And we're expecting a more formal response from Trump's legal team today. Do we expect them to drag this out?

ORDOÑEZ: I mean, the goal for Trump's team from the start has been delay, delay, delay. And they do want to stretch this out as long as possible, possibly until after the 2024 election. But the special counsel, Jack Smith, wants a trial as soon as possible. I really expect to see this kind of push and pull over the pace of the case to be really a centerpiece of this going forward.

MCCAMMON: That's Franco Ordoñez, who covers Trump and the White House. Thanks so much, Franco.

ORDOÑEZ: Thank you, Sarah.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MCCAMMON: Diplomatic efforts to reverse a coup in the West African nation of Niger have yet to work.

INSKEEP: Yeah, the group of West African nations called ECOWAS gave coup leaders a choice. They could release and reinstate their president or face military intervention. Instead, Niger's military vowed to defend themselves from any attack. And now a country that was a U.S. ally until the other day has cut diplomatic ties with the U.S. and other countries.

MCCAMMON: We're joined now by NPR's Emmanuel Akinwotu, who's in Lagos.

EMMANUEL AKINWOTU, BYLINE: Hi. Good morning.

MCCAMMON: So Emmanuel, the deadline has passed. Are we likely to see a military intervention now?

AKINWOTU: Well, it's possible, you know? And intervention plans, they've been laid out, but it's less and less likely. You know, this ultimatum, it was meant to show Niger that West African leaders wouldn't let this happen like it had with other coups in the recent past, in the last few years. And it was meant to pressure the junta to make concessions. But it's backed Niger's military leaders into a corner now, and they've come out swinging. You know, they've cut diplomatic ties with Nigeria, the U.S., France. They've quickly aligned with military leaders in Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea. You know, these are three countries in West Africa that have had military takeovers. And Mali and Burkina Faso have actually vowed to come to Niger's defense.

These militaries are altogether far smaller than the intervening countries', but, you know, it's raised the stakes that this could spark a regional conflict. You know, yesterday, tens of thousands of people showed up at a rally in support of the coup in Niamey, in the capital of Niger. And at other protests, we've seen chants against ECOWAS, you know, the block of West African countries, Nigeria and, of course, the former colonial ruler, France. And, you know, these protests, it doesn't reflect how the entire country feels about the coup. But it does show that for some, there is this sense that the country is under siege. And they're responding to that defiantly.

MCCAMMON: Many countries, like the U.S., are clearly desperate for the coup to be reversed. What are the other options on the table to try to release the president and restore the government?

AKINWOTU: Well, there are still some channels of communication and diplomatic levers to pull. You know, these are ongoing. But what we've seen so far is, the junta have responded quite negatively to any actions it views as a threat. You know, a contingent of officials from Nigeria and ECOWAS, they weren't even able to meet the general, Abdourahmane Tchiani. He's the self-declared leader. And they weren't able to meet President Mohamed Bazoum, who's still being held at his residence. And Nigeria's cut electricity supply to Niger, and that's caused blackouts. And France, other countries, have cut aid. And that aid makes up about 40% of Niger's budget. But there's a fear that these triggers, these actions, they can actually fuel more anger at these foreign countries rather than the military leaders themselves - and, of course, fuel poverty in Niger, which is one of the world's poorest countries.

MCCAMMON: Now, Niger is just the latest African country to suffer a coup. How does this affect the region and democracy more broadly?

AKINWOTU: You know, Niger is this large country, mainly poor, landlocked between several fragile states, like Libya, Mali, Burkina Faso. And overall, Islamist insurgencies in this region are on the rise. It's a desert, arid region, you know, where large parts are overwhelmed by terrorist groups, armed groups and the impact of climate change, you know, so it's a really fragile, fraught region. These crises, they've displaced millions of people, you know, caused some of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. And the U.S., France and other countries, they've poured in more and more support into the Sahel and, recently, in particular to Niger over the last decade. You know, Niger has really become one of the last main allies of the West in this region. But the impact of that support is now causing reflection. And the fear is that this coup could actually set back the country and this wider region even more.

MCCAMMON: NPR's Emmanuel Akinwotu in Lagos. Thanks so much for your time.

AKINWOTU: Thank you.

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MCCAMMON: How might the war in Ukraine come to an end? Representatives of about 40 countries met in Saudi Arabia this weekend to talk about that.

INSKEEP: Those attending included diplomats from the United States and the European Union, as well as India and China, but not Russia, of course. Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, says he wants the talks to lead to a peace summit this fall.

MCCAMMON: Joining us now to talk about those talks and much more from Kyiv is NPR's Joanna Kakissis. Hi, Joanna.

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: Hello, Sarah.

MCCAMMON: So Joanna, what did Ukraine get out of these talks?

KAKISSIS: So for the Ukrainians, these talks were about trying to convince countries that are on the fence about this war to be their friends. And we're talking about the countries that Steve mentioned earlier, like India and China, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Egypt. These countries have been careful to stay neutral because they don't want to anger Russia or the Western allies supporting Ukraine.

But these fence-sitters all pretty much showed up for this conference in Jeddah this weekend. And they heard President Zelenskyy's 10-point peace formula, one he's been shopping around the world. This formula includes the withdrawal of all Russian troops from Ukrainian land, the release of all political prisoners and deportees, including children deported to Russia without their families, and for a tribunal to investigate what the Ukrainians say are tens of thousands of alleged Russian war crimes.

MCCAMMON: Joanna, these talks happened without Russia, of course, the country that invaded Ukraine and has waged war there for 18 months. How can you have any kind of peace settlement without them?

KAKISSIS: Yeah, that is the challenge, isn't it? Russia maintains that it is open to peace talks, but on its terms, which means that Ukraine must accept, quote, "the new reality of its borders." Russia has illegally annexed the Ukrainian land it invaded and currently occupies and claims this land is part of Russia now. Russian President Vladimir Putin believes Ukraine is historically part of Russia's sphere of influence, so it goes without saying that the Kremlin will not support Zelenskyy's peace plan.

And remember, Putin held talks about a week ago with African nations in his own quest to secure friends, just like Ukraine tried to do this weekend with those fence-sitters I mentioned earlier. In a video addressed to Ukrainians, President Zelenskyy said, perhaps too optimistically, that these countries may have different perspectives but are united by one thing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY: (Through interpreter) Everyone is united by the idea that international law must be a priority. And that's why Ukraine proposed this peace formula, because the international rules-based order violated by Russian aggression must be restored.

KAKISSIS: The problem is, not everyone agrees on interpretations of international law or what this rules-based order should look like.

MCCAMMON: And so, what happens next? Are we expecting more talks?

KAKISSIS: Well, the Ukrainians hope so, that's for sure. They say they're happy with what happened this weekend in Jeddah. And even though nothing concrete came out of this meeting, the hosts, the Saudis, said in their closing statement that it's important to try to build common ground and pave the way for peace. Remember, this meeting was also an opportunity for the Saudis to raise their diplomatic profile internationally, while at the same time trying not to anger Russia. And there are expected to be more meetings just like this one perhaps as early as this fall.

MCCAMMON: NPR's Joanna Kakissis. Thank you so much.

KAKISSIS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Sarah McCammon
Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.