(Photo by MARK PETERSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The Trial Against Trump Will Throw the Election into Chaos. Plus. . .

How to fix the presidential debates. Bill Bradley on the glorious Knicks. A king’s portrait. And much more.

In today’s Front Page from The Free Press: James Fishback suggests a fix for presidential debates; Joe Nocera talks to Knicks legend Bill Bradley; and Suzy Weiss defends the king’s portrait. Plus: letters to the editor, lonely hearts, and more.

But first: the prosecution’s star witness, Michael Cohen, just gave evidence in the Trump trial. Eli Lake cuts through the tabloid drama to ask whether there’s anything to the case against the former president. 

When Donald Trump was indicted last year by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, I was skeptical. The indictment alleged that the 45th president had falsified payments to his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, by classifying them as legal fees when in fact it was reimbursement for hush money to the porn star known as Stormy Daniels.

As the trial has unfolded over the past two months, Daniels has testified that Trump had sex with her at Lake Tahoe in 2006 and didn’t wear a condom or display much sexual endurance. Cohen testified that he dutifully made the payments to Daniels on Trump’s behalf because he was “knee-deep in the cult of Trump.” Former senior Trump aide Hope Hicks has testified to the lengths the 2016 campaign and Trump White House went to suppress stories of the former president’s past sexual scandals.

The resistance commentariat insists that Trump is going down. Republican Never Trump lawyer George Conway writes in The Atlantic that Bragg’s case is “kind of perfect.” MSNBC host and former Republican operative Nicole Wallace assures viewers that Trump’s lawyers “bombed” their cross-examination of Cohen. Former Justice Department official Andrew Weissman praises Bragg’s “crackerjack team of experienced attorneys” for building an airtight case. 

But missing from this wall-to-wall coverage is any mention of the underlying crime that Trump falsified business records to advance his campaign. 

And that is the fatal flaw in the case. Continue reading. 

  1. Congress has launched a probe into the organizations funding the anti-Israel protests on college campuses to investigate possible money laundering or terrorism financing. One of the twenty groups being looked at is The People’s Forum. Read our reporting on its multimillionaire Marxist backers here

  2. Staff at The New York Times are circulating a draft of a letter to their boss, executive editor Joe Kahn, criticizing him for saying that some young reporters are not fully committed to independent journalism. Pro tip: if you’re worried your boss thinks you’re all whiny activists, campaigning against him from within the newsroom is only proving his point. (Semafor)  

  3. Hamas saved Egypt. The country was on the brink of collapse, but then October 7 gave it fresh political and economic relevance. (Tablet

  4. Inflation cooled slightly last month, with prices rising 3.4 percent in April from a year ago. So is a soft landing back on? Not so fast, says AEI economist Michael Strain, who warns that inflation remains above the Federal Reserve’s target level, and says “the current level of interest rates may be inadequate to bring inflation down.” (WSJ

  5. Two months after she dropped out of the race, Nikki Haley continues to pull in primary votes. She won 20 percent of the vote in Maryland this week. Where will these Haley voters go come November? Haley is yet to endorse Trump—or anyone else. (The Liberal Patriot

  6. It’s not just the far left taking their cues from 1968. Trump said a “great silent majority” will deliver his victory. Though he also bet on the “silent majority” in 2020, and how’d that work out? (Hugh Hewitt)

  7. American house prices are up 47 percent since the start of 2020. The rate of growth is on track to outstrip the gains of the last three decades. Steep costs are fueling a rental-home building boom: developers built 39 percent more rental homes in 2023 than in 2022. (Fox Business)  

  8. Distinguished biologist Jerry Coyne has been deplatformed at the University of Amsterdam because of his “stance on the Palestine/Israel conflict.” The now-canceled event was on “the ideological subversion of biology.” A little on the nose, Amsterdam! (Why Evolution Is True)

  9. Gen Z does not want to work in Silicon Valley. Instead, they dream of the dull security of government jobs, according to a new survey. Given what the “bummer generation” has been up to on campus recently, this does not bode well for the nation. (Fortune)

  10. “In general sequels tend to be pale,” said Colm Tóibín, in an interview about. . . his first ever sequel. He’s written a follow-up to the hit novel Brooklyn, the latest sign that the culture simply cannot waste good Intellectual Property; it must rinse and reuse. But the first reviews of Tóibín’s Long Island are actually very good. Maybe he should become a Marvel screenwriter? (The Guardian)

We aren’t usually in the business of suggesting you watch C-SPAN on a Friday night. But this week is different. Because if you tune in at 9 p.m. ET this Friday, you’ll be able to watch our recent debate in Dallas on immigration. Set those TiVos, Free Pressers! 

In our lead letter this week, a reader responds to Allie Phillips’s recent essay on abortion. After nine months of pregnancy, Helen Raleigh suffered a similar tragedy to Allie’s: the stillbirth of her son Lucas. But Helen objects to stories like hers being politicized in the abortion debate and takes issue with the shifting language around abortion that brushes over the important distinction between a voluntary and an involuntary end of a pregnancy. “Pregnancy loss should be off-limits in the abortion debate,” she writes. 

Read Helen’s letter in full and Allie’s response by visiting our letters page here. While you’re there you’ll also find constitutional scholar Ilya Shapiro weighing in on whether a new law to fight antisemitism is really a threat to free speech.

Got a unique perspective on a Free Press article? Have a response to one of our columns that you think will add to the sum total of human knowledge? Write us a letter to be included in The Front Page! 

The presidential race got an unexpected jolt of excitement Wednesday when Joe Biden released a video challenging Trump to a debate. A few “come at me, bro” social media posts later and—like bar patrons circling one another in the parking lot with their fists up wondering “how did I get here”—Biden and Trump found themselves committed to two presidential debates. One in June on CNN (June! Can the political-media complex at least let us enjoy the summer?), and one in September on ABC. 

Last time around, Biden and Trump just yelled over one another, and the highlight of the VP debates was a fly landing on Mike Pence’s head. 

Surely we can do better. But how? 

There’s only one person we want to answer that question: Free Press contributor James Fishback. He runs a high school debate league called Incubate Debate. He literally walks around in a baseball cap that reads “MAKE DEBATE GREAT AGAIN.” Oh, and he has watched every single minute of every televised presidential debate in U.S. history. So we asked James: How can we make presidential debates great again? Here is his bold solution

The core issue with presidential debates today is the role of the moderator. Instead of facilitating discussion, moderators seem determined to become protagonists, to the detriment of voters at home who expect a real clash of ideas.

My proposed solution is simple: scrap the moderator and revive the debate format that Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas used during the 1858 Senate race. 

While current debates are divided into six 15-minute segments, a Lincoln-Douglas debate would invite the first candidate to speak for 60 minutes, the second for 90, and then finally the first for 30. This ensures each candidate fully articulates their positions and critiques the other’s arguments without interruptions.

A cynic might argue that neither candidate could speak for that long. Well, perhaps that’s the point. If they can’t speak that long coherently about the issues voters care about, they can’t be expected to be commander in chief. 

Who will ask questions? No one, but in effect, the voters. Let CNN and ABC set the general theme of the debate (economy, or borders) that are aligned with what voters say they care about in the coming election and invite each candidate to speak for their allotted time.

Could it get messy? Maybe, but not any messier than the incessant interrupting and moderator third-wheeling we’ve seen in recent years. 

→ Can the radio ship be righted?: NPR has added a new editorial process called “The Backstop”—an additional layer of scrutiny for everything they publish. It is the latest change the network has made since we published an explosive essay by senior NPR editor Uri Berliner on its bias. The higher-ups at NPR may not have said Uri was onto something, but their actions suggest they know he’s right. 

→ The glorious Knicks: “I’m like a fan,” said Bill Bradley. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.” 

So, of course, has the rest of New York. It’s been 51 years since the New York Knicks last won a championship, with that iconic team anchored by Willis Reed and Walt Frazier, and that included, at small forward, future New Jersey senator Bill Bradley. Fifty-one years of inept management, bull-headed ownership and, sigh, Carmelo Anthony. Fifty-one years of praying that the Knicks could somehow figure out how to compete for a title again.

And now they’re here, in the conference semifinals and in with a chance. During Tuesday night’s game against the Indiana Pacers—which the Knicks won by 30 points, giving them a 3–2 lead in their playoff series—the camera showed Bradley in the stands a few times. And he posed with a dozen other former Knicks who were also at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night. He looked pretty jazzed. So I emailed him to ask what he thought about this current Knicks team. 

“I took my daughter to the game,” he said, “and I told her, this is how it used to sound. There’s always an explosion when someone makes a great play. The Garden is always the Garden. But now, there is the anticipation of the explosion. This team has created an atmosphere where they’re never out of it. And therefore, you always think they’re gonna come back. And that anticipation leads to a kind of crackle in the crowd.”

I mentioned the ability of star guard Jalen Brunson to bring the crowd to its feet. “Yeah,” he replied, “and also when [Donte] DeVincenzo shoots or when [Josh] Hart drives hard to the basket.” These Knicks, he wanted me to understand, were not a one-man show.

“It’s the old story,” he said. “You’ve got to move the ball, hit the open man, play defense and box out for rebounds. And they’re doing a lot of that now. The three point shot has totally changed the game. But I still believe the unselfish team wins. And these Knicks are unselfish.”

The sports cliche is that you should never look too far ahead, but like everyone else in New York, Bradley couldn’t help himself. Once the Knicks get past Indiana—of course they will!—their opponent in the Eastern conference finals will be none other than the Boston Celtics. He chuckled. “We’ll move into our traditional modes,” he said.

He can’t wait. Neither can New York. —Joe Nocera

→ A portrait fit for a king: It didn’t help that King Charles recoiled at the sight of his new official portrait, which was unveiled on Tuesday at Buckingham Palace. It was painted, with reds and pinks and oranges—but mostly reds—by Jonathan Yeo and took three years to complete. 

Social media was quick to pile on the painting, which shows the monarch in a Welsh guard uniform and with a sword in his hand but a butterfly at his shoulder. The portrait was “disturbing,” “off-putting,” even “Satanic.” In reference to that embarrassing phone call with Camilla while he was still married to Diana, someone said the portrait represented “fulfilling his destiny to become a tampon.”

Everyone’s a critic, especially when it comes to official portraits, from Barack Obama as seen by Kehinde Wiley to JFK, looking at the ground in his posthumous White House portrait painted by Aaron Shikler. Lady Churchill famously had Graham Sutherland’s modernist portrait of her husband thrown into a bonfire at Chartwell. 

I appreciate when high-ups try to reflect the era we’re in and not the height of their perch. And I like this painting of Charles. It’s a little eccentric, but not mad. Pensive, but not penetrating. Charles looks dignified, even though it seems like he’s emerging from a hazy dream. The painting matches the man, and it shows him in a good, if rosy, light. —Suzy Weiss 

Another week, another round of single Free Pressers looking for love. First up, the author of our recent investigation into how Jews have faced a political inquisition on dating apps ever since October 7. 

Submit your own lonely heart entry to

Polina Fradkin, 29, Tel Aviv

Hi! I’m Polina. I’m 29 years old, 5’7’, and I sing in a Yiddish jazz duo, which sounds lame, but I promise it isn’t. I live in Jaffa and I’d love to meet a gever with seykhel. If you understood that, you pass the litmus test.

I was born in Ufa, Russia—don’t worry, even Russians don’t know about it—grew up in Michigan and moved to Tel Aviv a few years ago. I once did a Fulbright, so you know I’m not dumb, and my mom kept me in a bowl cut most of my childhood, so you know my ego is in check.

I’m a die-hard, borderline clinical optimist, incapable of cooking for fewer than six people. I read and hike a ton and love collecting interesting people in my home.

I’m looking for someone who knows where they come from and where they’re going. A man who digs being a Jew, wants kids, and is down to raise a flock here in Israel. Someone curious and light and who will protect me from cockroaches. My great-grandmother always said, “a man shouldn’t be better-looking than a monkey” (sounds better in Yiddish)—but for the love of God, Cupid, make him just a peg or two above one.

Email me!

Stacey Blau, 47, Miami Beach

I am 47 years old, 5’4”, and have shoulder-length, dark, curly hair and hazel eyes. I am looking for a man around my age who knows what he wants. I am looking for someone who is honest and loyal and will fight for what he believes in. Those values are important to me.

I enjoy having good conversation paired with good coffee. I also like working out, reading books, writing poetry, volunteering with children, and exploring Miami and Florida.

Politically, I lean to the right in the vein of Commentary magazine. I love this country. I am Jewish and ardently support Israel, but I am not especially observant. I am a vegan and like to cook. I don’t drink or smoke or use drugs. I have a daughter in elementary school, and she is awesome.

My email is

Oliver Wiseman is a writer and editor for The Free Press. Follow him on X @ollywiseman

To support The Free Press, become a paid subscriber today: 

Subscribe now

And if you’re enjoying The Front Page, consider forwarding it to someone else you think might like it. 

our Comments

Use common sense here: disagree, debate, but don't be a .

the fp logo
comment bg

Welcome to The FP Community!

Our comments are an editorial product for our readers to have smart, thoughtful conversations and debates — the sort we need more of in America today. The sort of debate we love.   

We have standards in our comments section just as we do in our journalism. If you’re being a jerk, we might delete that one. And if you’re being a jerk for a long time, we might remove you from the comments section. 

Common Sense was our original name, so please use some when posting. Here are some guidelines:

  • We have a simple rule for all Free Press staff: act online the way you act in real life. We think that’s a good rule for everyone.
  • We drop an occasional F-bomb ourselves, but try to keep your profanities in check. We’re proud to have Free Press readers of every age, and we want to model good behavior for them. (Hello to Intern Julia!)
  • Speaking of obscenities, don’t hurl them at each other. Harassment, threats, and derogatory comments that derail productive conversation are a hard no.
  • Criticizing and wrestling with what you read here is great. Our rule of thumb is that smart people debate ideas, dumb people debate identity. So keep it classy. 
  • Don’t spam, solicit, or advertise here. Submit your recommendations to if you really think our audience needs to hear about it.
Close Guidelines