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Justice department cleared to review records taken from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago – live | US politics

After the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago and carted away troves of documents containing government secrets, Donald Trump argued that he had declassified everything found during his time as president.

He doubled down on that argument last night in an interview with Fox News’s conservative commentator Sean Hannity, saying that when he was in the White House, he had the power to declassify something just “by thinking about it.”

The three-judge panel that yesterday overturned a lower court judge’s block and allowed the justice department to continue reviewing the Mar-a-Lago documents didn’t have much time for the president’s argument.

“Plaintiff has not even attempted to show that he has a need to know the information contained in the classified documents. Nor has he established that the current administration has waived that requirement for these documents. And even if he had, that, in and of itself, would not explain why Plaintiff has an individual interest in the classified documents,” the judges wrote.

It gets worse for Trump from there: “Plaintiff suggests that he may have declassified these documents when he was President. But the record contains no evidence that any of these records were declassified,” they wrote. “In any event, at least for these purposes, the declassification argument is a red herring because declassifying an official document would not change its content or render it personal. So even if we assumed that Plaintiff did declassify some or all of the documents, that would not explain why he has a personal interest in them.”

While the justice department’s investigation will continue thanks to this ruling, don’t expect the legal jousting over this case to be over.

Key events

The day so far

The legal offensive against Donald Trump flared anew after a federal appeals court cleared the justice department to continue reviewing documents seized from Mar-a-Lago as it probes his potentially unlawful retention of government secrets. Meanwhile, a slew of new polls show tights races in battleground states like Georgia and Arizona, Americans fired up to vote nationwide and Democrats with a slight lead on the generic congressional ballot.

Here’s what else has happened so far:

  • Ginni Thomas, the wife of rightwing supreme court justice Clarence Thomas and a supporter of efforts to keep Joe Biden from getting into the White House, will speak to the January 6 committee.

  • There appear to be enough votes for the Senate to pass a bill to prevent the type of legal schemes Trump’s allies tried to execute on January 6 to stop the certification of Biden’s election win.

  • The Manhattan attorney general said his investigation into Trump and his organization is continuing.

Lauren Gambino

The race to be the next governor of Arizona is shaping up to be a nailbiter, according to a new survey from AARP Arizona.

The poll found Democrat Katie Hobbs and Republican Kari Lake in a statistical tie at 49% and 48% respectively, with just 3% of voters in the southwest battleground state undecided.

Among Arizonans aged 50 and over, who make up an estimated 60% of the state’s electorate, Lake narrowly leads Hobbs, 50% to 48%, respectively. Among political independents, who comprise roughly one third of voters in the state, Hobbs holds a 4-point edge.

The picture is slightly brighter for Democrats in the state’s competitive senate race, where incumbent Mark Kelly leads his Republican challenger, Blake Masters, by 8-points.

A Republican senator wants to seize on Joe Biden’s recent statement that the “pandemic is over” to pass a resolution ending the national emergency declared to combat Covid-19, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The resolution to be proposed by Roger Marshall of Kansas would end the state of emergency that the administration has used to justify suspending student loans repayments and some procedures at international borders, among other uses.

A previous attempt to end the declaration passed the Senate in March but went nowhere in the House. Both chambers are narrowly led by Democrats, but the White House promised then to veto the measure, if it made it to Biden’s desk.

Back to the polls, Monmouth University has a new one on Georgia’s governorship race that shows Democratic challenger Stacy Abrams with a narrower path to victory but more dedicated support base than the Republican incumbent Brian Kemp as she again challenges him for the job.

The race is among the more high-profile gubernatorial contests to be decided in the 8 November midterms, and could make Abrams Georgia’s first Black and first female governor if elected. Kemp, meanwhile, is known for resisting Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of Joe Biden’s election win there in 2020, though has backed a strict voting law.

According to Monmouth, 34% will definitely and 15% will probably back Kemp, against Abrams’ slightly worse 33% definite support and 12% probable support. Kemp is also viewed more favorably at 54%, versus Abrams’s 48% favorability.

However, Democrats are more fired up for Abrams than Republicans are for Kemp. Monmouth finds that 83% of Democrats will definitely vote for Abrams versus 73% of GOP voters for Kemp – perhaps a consequence of his clashes with Trump.

“Some election conspiracists may still hold a grudge against Kemp for not stepping in to overturn the 2020 result, but it’s unlikely to cost him much support. They may not be enthusiastic, but they’ll still vote for him over Abrams,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said.

The judge who had initially blocked the justice department from reviewing the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago and ordered a special master to weed out privileged materials has revised her ruling, Politico reports.

Federal judge Aileen Cannon’s changes come after an appeals court overturned the part of her opinion that had halted the government’s review of the documents taken from Donald Trump’s resort, hampering the investigation into whether the former president took government secrets with him when he left the White House.

Here’s more from Politico:

On the topic of January 6, the committee investigating the attack has reached an agreement to hear the testimony of Virginia Thomas, the wife of supreme court justice Clarence Thomas and a supporter of efforts to keep Joe Biden from taking office despite his election win:

Conservative activist Virginia Thomas, the wife of supreme court justice Clarence Thomas, has agreed to participate in a voluntary interview with the House panel investigating the January 6 insurrection, her lawyer said Wednesday.

Attorney Mark Paoletta said Thomas is “eager to answer the committee’s questions to clear up any misconceptions about her work relating to the 2020 election”.

The committee has sought an interview with Thomas in an effort to know more about her role in trying to help former president Donald Trump overturn his election defeat. She texted with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and contacted lawmakers in Arizona and Wisconsin in the weeks after the election and before the insurrection.

Bill to thwart another January 6 appears to have support to pass Senate

A Republican senator announced today he would support an effort to change the United States’ electoral law and prevent the sort legal plot attempted on January 6 to stop Joe Biden from taking office, potentially giving the measure enough votes to pass the Senate.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Pennsylvania senator Pat Toomey will vote for the chamber’s version of the legislation amending the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which allies of Donald Trump tried to use loopholes in to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s election win when it convened on 6 January, 2021.

“The poor drafting of the 1887 Electoral Count Act endangered the transition of power from one administration to the next. Unfortunately, in the over 100 intervening years, individual Democratic and Republican members of Congress have occasionally attempted to exploit the ambiguities in this law to cast doubt on the validity of our elections, culminating in the debacle of January 6, 2021,” Toomey said in a statement to the Inquirer.

“It is past time Congress act.”

With the support of Toomey, who will retire from his post at the end of the year, the Inquirer reports that the bill appears to have enough support to pass the Senate and avoid a filibuster. Yesterday, the House passed its own version of the legislation.

Pennsylvania was one of the states where Trump’s allies attempted to orchestrate the overturning of its election results in favor of Biden. In August, Scott Perry, a congressman representing the state who had asked Trump for a preemptive pardon after January 6, had his cellphone seized by the FBI.

Elsewhere in Congress, Republican senator Ted Cruz voted against a spending bill that paid for a new highway, but took credit for it anyway, as Martin Pengelly reports:

The Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz called a new highway project “a great bipartisan victory” that will bring “jobs to Texas and millions of dollars to the state”.

The White House responded: “Senator Cruz voted against this.”

A spokesperson for Cruz said the senator “made it possible” – but did not contest that Cruz voted against the $1.5tn spending package which contained the highway project.

With Ben Ray Luján, a New Mexico Democrat, Cruz co-sponsored an amendment adding the Ports to Plains highway project to the spending bill earlier this year.

Two new gauges of the national mood ahead of the 8 November midterm elections were released this morning. Let’s take a look at them.

First, there’s NBC News, which crunched the numbers on voter enthusiasm from both this year and midterm and presidential elections past to conclude that Americans are particularly fired up to go to the polls. The network found in their most recent survey that 64% were respondents expressed high enthusiasm for the elections. That’s up from the 58% two months before the 2018 midterms, when Democrats routed Republicans and took the House, or the 53% in 2010, when the GOP did the same to Democrats. Given those numbers, NBC predicts record turnout for this year’s vote.

Meanwhile, CNN has done a poll of polls – an aggregation of the four most recent national polls – to find that Democrats have a three-point edge in the generic congressional ballot:

CNN Poll of Polls (four most recent national polls)
August 29-September 14
REGISTERED VOTERS
Choice For Congress
 
Democrats 46%
Republicans 43%

— Manu Raju (@mkraju) September 22, 2022

Meanwhile, Hugo Lowell has a dive in the unique implications of the lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general against Donald Trump and his children yesterday, which, if successful, could take the Trump Organization out of his personal control:

Penalties being sought in the civil fraud suit brought by the New York state attorney general’s office against Donald Trump and three of his adult children could potentially result in the end of the Trump Organization, his real estate empire, in its current form.

The former US president, as well as Donald Trump Jr, Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump, were named as defendants in a sprawling 214-page complaint filed by New York attorney general Letitia James for allegedly falsely inflating his net worth by billions to enrich himself and secure favorable loans.

“For too long, powerful, wealthy people in this country have operated as if the rules do not apply to them. Donald Trump stands out as among the most egregious examples,” James said in a statement. “Trump thought he could get away with the art of the steal, but today that conduct ends.”

What does this all mean for Trump? Potentially the end of his hopes for running again in 2024, The Guardian’s David Smith reports:

Donald Trump’s legal perils have become insurmountable and could snuff out the former US president’s hopes of an election-winning comeback, according to political analysts and legal experts.

On Wednesday, Trump and three of his adult children were accused of lying to tax collectors, lenders and insurers in a “staggering” fraud scheme that routinely misstated the value of his properties to enrich themselves.

The civil lawsuit, filed by New York’s attorney general, came as the FBI investigates Trump’s holding of sensitive government documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and a special grand jury in Georgia considers whether he and others attempted to influence state election officials after his defeat there by Joe Biden.

The former US president has repeatedly hinted that he intends to run for the White House again in 2024. But the cascade of criminal, civil and congressional investigations could yet derail that bid.

Shortly after New York attorney general Letitia James finished announcing her lawsuit alleging fraud against Donald Trump and his children, Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg weighed in with a reminder:

Bragg’s investigation is yet another source of legal peril for the former president. In August, the former chief financial officer of Trump’s company pled guilty to tax charges and agreed to testify against the organization.

After the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago and carted away troves of documents containing government secrets, Donald Trump argued that he had declassified everything found during his time as president.

He doubled down on that argument last night in an interview with Fox News’s conservative commentator Sean Hannity, saying that when he was in the White House, he had the power to declassify something just “by thinking about it.”

The three-judge panel that yesterday overturned a lower court judge’s block and allowed the justice department to continue reviewing the Mar-a-Lago documents didn’t have much time for the president’s argument.

“Plaintiff has not even attempted to show that he has a need to know the information contained in the classified documents. Nor has he established that the current administration has waived that requirement for these documents. And even if he had, that, in and of itself, would not explain why Plaintiff has an individual interest in the classified documents,” the judges wrote.

It gets worse for Trump from there: “Plaintiff suggests that he may have declassified these documents when he was President. But the record contains no evidence that any of these records were declassified,” they wrote. “In any event, at least for these purposes, the declassification argument is a red herring because declassifying an official document would not change its content or render it personal. So even if we assumed that Plaintiff did declassify some or all of the documents, that would not explain why he has a personal interest in them.”

While the justice department’s investigation will continue thanks to this ruling, don’t expect the legal jousting over this case to be over.

Justice department can begin reviewing Mar-a-Lago records, jeopardizing Trump anew

Good morning, US politics blog readers. Justice department investigators are cleared to resume going through documents taken from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Last night, a panel of judges overturned an earlier ruling that temporarily blocked them from reviewing the material as part of the government’s inquiry into whether the former president took secrets with him when he left the White House. The judges’ decision makes clear Trump remains in legal peril, both from that investigation, a New York lawsuit announced yesterday over his business practices and inquiries into his conduct during the 2020 election and January 6 uprising in Washington and Georgia.

That certainly is not all that’s happening today:

  • The United Nations General Assembly continues in New York, with the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, set to meet his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on its sidelines.

  • Joe Biden is still in New York City, where he is scheduled to meet with president Ferdinand Marcos Jr of the Philippines, visit a Fema office to assess its response to Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico, and attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser.

  • The House of Representatives will vote today on bills to better fund police departments, answering the demands of vulnerable Democrats looking to improve their record on public safety.



Justice department cleared to review records taken from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago – live | US politics Source link Justice department cleared to review records taken from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago – live | US politics

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