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Up First briefing: SCOTUS asked to take on Trump immunity; office party etiquette

Xavier Arnau/Getty Images

Good morning. You're reading the Up First newsletter. Subscribe here to get it delivered to your inbox, and listen to the Up First podcast for all the news you need to start your day.

Today's top stories

Special counsel Jack Smith asked the Supreme Court to fast-track the case regarding Trump's election interference case. Trump is accused of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election. A judge has already set the trial date for March 2024. Trump and his lawyers want to postpone the trial until after the 2024 election.

Former President Donald Trump speaks after exiting the courtroom for a break at New York Supreme Court on Dec. 7 in New York.
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / AP
Former President Donald Trump speaks after exiting the courtroom for a break at New York Supreme Court on Dec. 7 in New York.

Smith says whether a former president is totally immune from criminal prosecution is fundamental to democracy, NPR's Carrie Johnson reports on Up First. "The Supreme Court has never answered that question," Johnson says. If the Supreme Court waits for a lower appeals court to act before hearing this central dispute about presidential immunity, it could jeopardize the March 2024 trial, she adds.

  • Kate Cox, a Texas woman from Dallas experiencing serious pregnancy complications, has left the state to get an abortion. Cox sued the state of Texas for access to the procedure after she learned her fetus has a genetic condition that is almost always fatal. The state's Supreme Court ruled yesterday that her circumstances did not meet the state's requirement to have an abortion.

Cox's attorneys say she was concerned if she waited any longer to get an abortion, it would compromise her chances of having more kids. NPR's Selena Simmons-Duffins reports the high court's ruling stated the responsibility to decide whether cases meet the requirements for an abortion rests with doctors. But the stakes are high: If a doctor provides an abortion and another doctor in the state objects, they could face up to life in prison and a minimum $100,000 fine.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is back in Washington, D.C., today to appeal more aid. He was heralded as a hero leading the fight against Vladimir Putin during his visit last year. But as the war drags on, public support has fallen — especially among Republicans.

NPR's Mara Liasson says negotiations on Ukraine aid have stalled because Republicans want deep concessions on U.S. immigration policy for their vote. "It's not clear what price Democrats could pay in terms of border policy to get a deal," which puts Zelenskyy and Biden in a "very, very tough spot," she says. This is his third trip to Washington since Russia's invasion in 2022. That year, Congress approved more than $112 billion in aid for Ukraine.

  • Protests are a standard part of global climate meetings, but activists say they're facing restrictions at this year's United Nations COP28 climate talks hosted in the United Arab Emirates. Though protests are banned in the UAE, as the host of the talks, the country has to allow them within the U.N.-designated zone of the conference. Activists say these restrictions are "killing the movement." Despite this, protesters managed to hold two visible rallies at COP28 demanding a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. 

Enlighten me

Rick Rubin says he feels like there is some creative energy behind the universe.
/ Frazer Harrison
Frazer Harrison
Rick Rubin says he feels like there is some creative energy behind the universe.

Enlighten Me is a special series with Rachel Martin about what it takes to build a life of meaning.

Rick Rubin helped make hip-hop what it is today by launching the careers of greats like LL Cool J and Run-D.M.C. But his latest book, The Creative Act: A Way of Being, isn't about his work in the music industry. Martin describes it as "a spiritual text for anyone who wants to make something meaningful — not for praise or admiration or money, just because it brings you closer to who you really are."

Life advice

Office holiday parties are a chance to let loose and have some fun with your coworkers. But there are real risks things could go wrong. Etiquette expert Elaine Swann has advice for how to survive an office holiday party without making any professional faux pas.

  • Treat the party like another stage of a job interview. Make your presence known and connect with colleagues.
  • Dress to impress. Be playful and festive but professional.
  • Don't talk too much about the job. Holiday parties are not the time to ask for a promotion or complain about your company.

3 things to know before you go

The exterior of the Palace Theatre, in the middle of Manhattan's Times Square, in 2009.
Neilson Barnard / Getty Images
Getty Images
The exterior of the Palace Theatre, in the middle of Manhattan's Times Square, in 2009.

  1. Broadway fans are getting younger and more diverse, according to the trade organization The Broadway League. But the new report says the New York theater industry has also been slow to recover from COVID-19.
  2. Basketball legend Lebron James' son, Bronny, made his college basketball debut this weekend at the University of Southern California, months after suffering from  a cardiac arrest.
  3. Scientists have discovered a six-foot-long, mostly intact fossil of a pliosaur skull. The massive, deadly sea creature was active off England's coast millions of years ago.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.