Takeaways from Trump’s roller-coaster day in court: From the Politics Desk

Welcome to the online version of From the Politics Desk, an evening newsletter that brings you the NBC News Politics team’s latest reporting and analysis from the campaign trail, the White House and Capitol Hill.

In today’s edition, White House reporter Katherine Doyle reports from a New York courtroom on Donald Trump’s whirlwind day on the legal front. Plus, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell breaks down the fresh tensions between Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu.

The key takeaways from Trump’s day in court

By Katherine Doyle

Monday was a bit of a roller coaster for Donald Trump on the legal front. 

Trump’s defense team failed to persuade Judge Juan Merchan to add more time to the clock before the start of the trial in Trump’s New York hush money case, with the former president shaking his head in apparent frustration during the hearing as the judge set a date next month for the start of jury selection. 

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But in another court on Monday, Trump earned a major reprieve for the bond he was supposed to deliver as part of the civil case he lost. 

Here are the key takeaways from Trump’s day in court:

Trump’s delay efforts fall short: Trump had successfully moved back the start of the hush money case, which was originally set for Monday. But his efforts to delay the trial even further were thwarted, with Merchan scheduling it to begin on April 15. 

Trump didn’t have to be in the courtroom Monday. When the historic trial begins in three weeks, though, he will be required to attend each day, which could hamper his campaign activity. 

Trump didn’t hide his true feelings: Before entering the courtroom, he called the case “a witch hunt” and “a hoax.” He furrowed his brow. He watched the judge press his defense counsel as he argued for more time to review discovery documents. And he grew increasingly frustrated as the defense failed to persuade the judge that more time was needed.

Wearing a navy suit and red tie, Trump sat between his attorneys, his eyes bloodshot. As Merchan spoke, Trump leaned back from the defense table and narrowed his gaze. Exiting the courtroom at the start of a 45-minute recess, Trump scowled and furrowed his brow again. 

Trump scores a win in another case: Outside of Merchan’s courtroom, though, Trump notched a victory. 

A state appeals court ruled that he and his co-defendants in a New York civil fraud case could post a lower bond, slashing the judgment from $464 million to $175 million and delaying any possible move by Attorney General Letitia James to seize his assets. They have 10 days to post the bond. 

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A fresh split emerges between Biden and Netanyahu 

Analysis by Andrea Mitchell

Tensions erupted again Monday between President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the U.S. — for the first time — allowed a U.N. resolution that Israel had opposed calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza to pass.  

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the U.S. abstained because the resolution did not condemn Hamas for its Oct. 7 massacre, but did not veto it since the U.S. agrees with the resolution’s call for an extended cease-fire and hostage release. Netanyahu was furious that the U.S. did not use its veto to block the resolution, Israeli sources tell NBC News, and he immediately canceled a planned White House visit this week by his closest adviser, Ron Dermer. 

The breach over the resolution came as Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and a team were already at the Pentagon. Their trip, along with Dermer’s, had been arranged at the behest of Biden in a call with Netanyahu last week, their first in more than a month. Senior officials told NBC News that Biden wanted to repair damage caused days earlier when he had praised Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s speech excoriating Netanyahu’s conduct of the war and calling for new Israeli elections.  

Hoping to smooth over their differences, senior officials told NBC News that Biden told Netanyahu he disagreed with Schumer’s call for elections, but still urged him not to invade Rafah, suggesting he send a delegation to Washington to hear alternatives. But the U.S. failure to block the U.N. resolution prompted Netanyahu to cancel Dermer’s trip, despite another member of his war Cabinet, opposition minister Benny Gantz, saying that direct dialogue is so important that Netanyahu himself should come to the U.S. 

Biden’s disagreements with Netanyahu and his right-wing Cabinet have also caused the U.S. to sanction Jewish settlers in the West Bank after Israel failed to prevent violent attacks on Palestinian residents. All this has forced Biden to walk a deeply personal and politically charged tightrope between his long-held emotional commitment to Israel — causing him to reject canceling or conditioning arms sales — with his abhorrence of the civilian death toll and humanitarian crisis in Gaza.  

Those conflicting convictions have put Biden in a nearly impossible choice between progressive Democrats furious over the devastation in Gaza and a larger group of voters who fully support Israel at all costs as he enters the heat of his re-election campaign.

🗞️ Today’s top stories

  • 💰 Money trees: Trump’s media company is set to make its debut on the stock market Tuesday, a development that could generate a windfall for the cash-strapped former president. Trump also said that he “might” spend his own money on his campaign, which he hasn’t done since 2016. Read more →
  • ⚖️ On the docket: The Supreme Court is hearing arguments Tuesday in a case challenging the abortion pill mifepristone. The justices’ decision in the case could have significant effects on the pharmaceutical industry and spark challenges to scores of other drugs. Read more →
  • 👀 Watch this space: The Washington Post dives into Tuesday’s special legislative election in Alabama, which will test the electoral power of reproductive health, specifically in-vitro fertilization, after the state’s high court ruled that frozen embryos are considered children. Read more →
  • 😡 Now we got bad blood: The ongoing feud between former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., escalated over the weekend, as McCarthy accused Gaetz of ousting him because he would not intervene in an Ethics Committee probe of the Florida congressman. Read more →
  • 🔥 Getting heated in Florida: Florida Democrats on Sunday ousted the chair of the Miami-Dade County Party amid GOP gains in South Florida in recent elections. Read more → 🌹
  • Garden State drama: New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy announced Sunday she is ending her Senate bid, paving the way for Rep. Andy Kim to secure the Democratic nomination as he continues to battle the party machine in court. Read more →

That’s all from The Politics Desk for now. If you have feedback — likes or dislikes — email us at

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