First Thing: January 6 testimony puts Donald Trump in even greater peril

·7 min read
<span>Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Good morning.

Donald Trump and his two closest advisers could face widening criminal exposure over the Capitol attack after the ex-White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified about their potentially unlawful conduct to the House January 6 select committee at a special hearing on Tuesday.

The testimony revolved around the disclosure – one of several major revelations from Hutchinson – that the former president directed supporters to descend on the Capitol even though he knew they were armed and probably intended to cause harm.

Hutchinson testified under oath that Trump was deeply angered that some of his supporters who had gathered on the National Mall were not entering the secure perimeter for the Save America rally at the Ellipse, where he was due to make remarks.

The supporters did not want to enter the secure perimeter, Hutchinson testified, because many were armed with knives, blades, pepper spray and, as it later turned out, guns, and did not want to surrender their weapons to the Secret Service to attend the rally.

  • What did Hutchinson say was Trump’s response to the supporters having weapons? According to her, he said: “I don’t fucking care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the fucking mags [magnetometers] away.”

  • What are the key takeaways from latest January 6 hearing? The sixth hearing heard from just one witness but presented a series of explosive revelations. Here are the key points from an extraordinary two hours on Capitol Hill.

Ghislaine Maxwell sentenced to 20 years in prison for sex trafficking crimes

Ghislaine Maxwell at the UN building in 2013.
Ghislaine Maxwell at the UN building in 2013. Photograph: Rick Bajornas/AP

Ghislaine Maxwell was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in prison in her New York sex-trafficking case for procuring teenage girls for Jeffrey Epstein to abuse. Maxwell, 60, has maintained her innocence.

Epstein, a convicted sex offender and financier whose elite associates once included Prince Andrew and Bill Clinton, was captured by federal authorities in July 2019, on sex-trafficking counts. He killed himself in a New York City federal jail just over one month after his arrest.

Maxwell’s attorneys had pushed for leniency in sentencing, saying that she should receive “well below” the 20 years recommended by federal probation officials. Prosecutors pushed for a sentence of 30 to 55 years in prison.

Maxwell, a former British socialite, was convicted on 29 December of five of the six charges she faced. The jury came to their decision after 40 hours of deliberations spanning six days.

  • Did Maxwell show remorse? She did not offer much in the way of an apology for her actions and attempted to pin all the blame on Epstein.

  • What did the victims say? The victims who addressed Judge Alison Nathan described harrowing abuse at the hands of Maxwell and Epstein and the long-term emotional impact that still haunts them.

Fifty-one people found dead inside abandoned Texas trailer truck

Flowers and candles are placed the area where the truck was found.
Flowers and candles are placed the area where the bodies was found. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Fifty-one people were found dead and at least a dozen others were treated in hospital after being found inside an abandoned tractor-trailer rig on Monday on a remote back road in south-west San Antonio, officials have said.

The discovery in Texas may prove to be the deadliest tragedy among thousands of people who have died attempting to cross the US border from Mexico in recent decades.

It prompted Joe Biden to issue a statement yesterday pledging to “continue to do everything possible to stop” smugglers who work to sneak people into the US without permission in exchange for pay, often with deadly results.

“This incident underscores the need to go after the multibillion-dollar criminal smuggling industry preying on migrants and leading to far too many innocent deaths,” the president’s statement said.

  • Who were the migrants? Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said that among the dead were at least 22 from Mexico, seven from Guatemala, and two from Honduras. The nationalities of at least 19 others who died had not been identified.

  • How many migrants die trying to reach the US? The number of migrant deaths in 2021 was 650, a stark reminder of the human cost of US immigration policies.

In other news …

Abortion rights demonstrators march near the state capitol building in Austin, Texas.
Pro-choice demonstrators march near the state capitol building in Austin, Texas. Photograph: Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP/Getty Images
  • A Texas sheriff, whose beat largely includes the city of San Antonio, has declared he would not be pursuing those in his jurisdiction who choose to get an abortion after the supreme court ruling on Roe v Wade. Javier Salazar posted on Facebook that he would not use his power to “impose the morals” of others on those “exercising a right”.

  • Prince Charles exploited a controversial procedure to compel government ministers to secretly change a proposed law to benefit his landed estate, according to documents uncovered by the Guardian. Official papers reveal ministers in John Major’s government yielded to his demands amid fears that resisting the heir to the throne could spark a constitutional crisis.

  • Airbnb is making its ban on parties at properties listed on the site for short-term rentals permanent, the company announced yesterday. San Francisco-based Airbnb said it believes the ban has worked to reduce violence and rules violations, with reports of parties having dropped 44% from a year ago.

  • More than 6,000 workers at five major casinos in Atlantic City are to strike in demand of a new union contract that significantly raises wages for workers, who say they’ve sacrificed pay in previous contracts and are struggling as the cost of living and inflation has significantly increased.

Stat of the day: Early human ancestors 1m years older than earlier thought

The fossils of our earliest ancestors found in South Africa are a million years older than previously thought, meaning they walked the Earth around the same time as their east African relatives like the famous “Lucy”, according to new research. The Sterkfontein caves at the Cradle of Humankind world heritage site north-west of Johannesburg have yielded more Australopithecus fossils than any other site in the world.

Don’t miss this: Move yourself happy! How to exercise to boost your mood – whatever your fitness level

happy exercise G2 220629
There are plenty of workouts to improve your physical health – but what if you are exercising to improve your mental health? Composite: Getty

Everyone knows the benefits of exercise: stronger muscles, more energy, weight management, better sleep. A mood boost is often tacked on as a bonus. But there is stronger evidence than ever before that movement not only improves your mental health, but also protects it. In fact, even if you were to exercise for the sake of your mind alone, it would be well worth doing – and the good news is, a little makes a big difference. Here’s how to move yourself happy.

Climate check: Chilli peppers, coffee, wine: how the climate crisis is causing food shortages

sriracha and food illustration
‘Almost everything we grow and raise in the US is facing some climatic stress.’ Composite: Getty Images

Huy Fong Foods, the southern California company that produces 20m bottles of the popular hot sauce Sriracha annually, has experienced a low inventory of red jalapeño chilli peppers in recent years made worse by spring’s crop failure. The cause? Severe weather and drought conditions in Mexico. It’s not just chilli peppers. Mustard producers in France and Canada said extreme weather caused a 50% reduction in seed production last year, leading to a shortage of the condiment on grocery store shelves.

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