Trump Watch, Capitol Siege News

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Shown below is a list of recent news stories reporting on probes of President Trump, his administration and businesses. The reports are listed in reverse chronological order, and are drawn primarily from news stories relating to investigations and the U.S. Congress of major claims of wrongdoing.

Note: Excerpts below are from the authors' words except for subheads and "Editor's notes" such as this. This segment of our near-daily summary of Trump Watch News and Commentary encompasses news stories that began in 2021. For material in 2020, kindly visit a link for it that will be posted soon here.

-- Andrew Kreig / Justice Integrity Project editor

 

2021-22

 

capitol noose shay horse nurphoto via getty

A crowd of Trump supporters surrounded a newly erected set of wooden gallows outside the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. "Hang Mike Pence!" members of the crowd shouted at times about the Republican Vice President who had announced that he could not comply with the president's call to block election certification that day. The wooden gallows near the Capitol Reflecting Pool was just one example of the racist and anti-Semitic imagery on display at the riot. The noose is a racist symbol of the lynching of Black Americans. (Photo by Shay Horse  via NurPhoto / Getty).

 

Donald Trump, shown in a 2020 campaign hat.

 

 

November

Nov. 29

 

stewart rhodes

washington post logoWashington Post, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes guilty of Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy, Spencer S. Hsu, Tom Jackman and Rachel Weiner, Nov. 29, 2022. Rhodes, above, stayed outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, but prosecutors said he was the ringleader of a plot to unleash politically motivated violence to prevent the inauguration of President Biden.

A federal jury on Tuesday convicted Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and a top deputy of seditious conspiracy for leading a months-long plot to unleash political violence to prevent the inauguration of President Biden, culminating in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Justice Department log circularThe panel of seven men and five women deliberated for three days before finding Rhodes and lead Florida Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs guilty of conspiring to oppose by force the lawful transition of presidential power. But three other associates were not convicted of the historically rare and politically freighted sedition count. All five were convicted of obstructing Congress as it met to confirm the results of the 2020 election. Both offenses are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Rhodes, 56, in a dark suit and black eye-patch from an old gun accident watched impassively as verdicts were read.

James Lee Bright, one of Rhodes’s attorneys, said Rhodes intended to testify on behalf of other Jan. 6 defendants “if asked.” Edward L. Tarpley Jr, another Rhodes lawyer, noted that the defendants were acquitted on 11 of the 28 counts: “This is not a total victory for the government in any way shape or form.”

Rhodes and his co-defendants were the first accused of seditious conspiracy and the first to face trial and be convicted on any conspiracy charge to date in the massive Jan. 6 investigation. He is the highest-profile figure to face trial in connection with rioting by angry Trump supporters who injured scores of officers, ransacked offices and forced lawmakers to evacuate the U.S. Capitol.

Rhodes and followers, dressed in combat-style gear, converged on the Capitol after staging an “arsenal” of weapons at nearby hotels, ready to take up arms at Rhodes’s direction in an attack on the ‘bedrock of democracy,’ the government charged. Rhodes’s defense said he and co-defendants came to Washington as bodyguards and peacekeepers, bringing firearms only in case Trump met their demand to mobilize private militia to stop Biden from becoming president.

Analysts called the outcome a vindication for the Justice Department.

“The jury’s verdict on seditious conspiracy confirms that January 6, 2021, was not just ‘legitimate political discourse’ or a peaceful protest that got out of hand. This was a planned, organized, violent assault on the lawful authority of the U.S. government and the peaceful transfer of power,” said Randall D. Eliason, a former federal prosecutor who teaches law at George Washington University.

“Now the only remaining question is how much higher did those plans go, and who else might be held criminally responsible,” Eliason said.

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who helped defend the Capitol on Jan. 6, said he ran over to the federal courthouse when he heard there was a verdict. He sat sweating in the front row as the verdict was read.

“I was emotional,” Dunn said afterward. “I didn’t expect to cry.”

He thanked the jury and the Justice Department for their work on the case.

“I don’t look at it like a victory,” Dunn said. “A victory is when you win. This was right. This was about doing the right thing.”

The verdict in Rhodes’s case likely will be taken as a bellwether for two remaining Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy trials set for December against five other Oath Keepers and leaders of the Proud Boys, including the longtime chairman Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio. Both Rhodes and Tarrio are highly visible leaders of the alt-right or far-right anti-government movements, and were highlighted at hearings probing the attack earlier this year by the House Jan. 6 committee.

Nov. 28

ny times logoNew York Times, Guest Essay: If We Ignore Donald Trump We Might See Who He Really Is, Patti Davis, Nov. 28, 2022. Ms. Davis is an author and a daughter of President Ronald Reagan.

When I was about 8 or 9, I was bullied ruthlessly in school by a boy in my class. I faked being sick so I wouldn’t have to go to school, but my parents figured out that something was going on and my father came in to talk to me. I confessed to him that I was scared of my tormentor, and what followed was a lesson in the beauty of ignoring another person. He explained that bullies crave attention and that if they are ignored, they sort of deflate. He then showed me how frustrating it is to feel like you’re invisible, by ignoring me when I tried to speak to him. It worked. I returned to school, I ignored the bully and he gave up his attacks on me.

Donald Trump is like the abusive boyfriend or ex-husband who won’t go away. In that situation, one would take out a restraining order, but obviously we can’t do that with Mr. Trump. So how about not making him the predominant news story? I have noticed, to be fair, that he is a little less predominant, but let’s face it, he is still everywhere in the news. I understand that announcing his candidacy for president is news. But does it have to be a front-page story? Does the end of his exile from Twitter have to dominate the day’s coverage? Does every move he makes, every ridiculous statement he utters, have to be reported?

With each news story, each segment on television, we are giving him the elixir that keeps him going — attention. There are plenty of things going on in the world that are more important than Donald Trump. We have a planet to save. Russia is still waging war on Ukraine, and still imprisoning American citizens like Brittney Griner. The West is running out of water. There are mass shootings so often it’s hard to keep track of them. Just to name a few really important issues.

What if there was a collective pledge among responsible news organizations to take Donald Trump off the front pages, to not talk about him every single day? He would huff and puff and try to blow the house down, but no one would be paying attention. Think of how much calmer the waters would be. Think of how many other stories would get the bandwidth they deserve.

Nov. 27

 

 donald trump money palmer report Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Congress gets to see Trump’s tax returns. It shouldn’t have taken so long, Editorial Board, Nov. 27, 2022. Restoring the norm under which presidential contenders voluntarily disclose their tax returns — followed by nearly every major-party nominee since Nixon — is important.

Voters should expect to know what financial conflicts of interest they might bring to the job. And in Mr. Trump’s case, those records were especially relevant, given that he headed a sprawling and secretive privately held business. In addition to his tax records, he should have provided a detailed accounting of his holdings and interests. His refusal to do so became glaring as Mr. Trump pressed to reform the tax code in 2017. Americans could only guess how its provisions might personally enrich the president and his family.

irs logoIf presidential candidates do not voluntarily share their returns, Congress might try to impose new rules. So could state lawmakers. In response to the Trump tax return saga, for example, New York legislators passed a law in 2019 allowing state officials to give congressional investigators the tax information they have on file. State lawmakers could also write laws that mandate the automatic release of candidates’ state tax returns after they claim major-party presidential nominations.

But it should not come to that. It would be healthier for the country to see candidates once again perform essential acts of honesty and transparency — not because they have to but because voters deserve it.

Nov. 23

 

Justice Department Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, left, and former President Donald Trump, shown in a collage via CNN.

Justice Department Special Prosecutor Jack Smith, left, and former President Donald Trump, shown in a collage via CNN.

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Seeking to Question Mike Pence in Jan. 6 Investigation, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, Nov. 23, 2022. Prosecutors want to speak with the former vice president as a witness to former President Donald Trump’s efforts to remain in power, and he is said to be considering how to respond.

The Justice Department is seeking to question former Vice President Mike Pence as a witness in connection with its criminal investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to stay in power after he lost the 2020 election, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Pence, according to people familiar with his thinking, is open to considering the request, recognizing that the Justice Department’s criminal investigation is different from the inquiry by the House Jan. 6 committee, whose overtures he has flatly rejected.

Complicating the situation is whether Mr. Trump would try to invoke executive privilege to stop him or limit his testimony, a step that he has taken with limited success so far with other former officials.

Mr. Pence was present for some of the critical moments in which Mr. Trump and his allies schemed to keep him in office and block the congressional certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory. An agreement for him to cooperate would be the latest remarkable twist in an investigation that is already fraught with legal and political consequences, involving a former president who is now a declared candidate to return to the White House — and whose potential rivals for the 2024 Republican nomination include Mr. Pence.

Thomas Windom, one of the lead investigators examining the efforts to overturn the election, reached out to Mr. Pence’s team in the weeks before Attorney General Merrick B. Garland appointed a special counsel on Friday to oversee the Jan. 6 investigation and a separate inquiry into Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents, according to one of the people familiar with the matter. Mr. Garland has said that the appointment of the special counsel, Jack Smith, will not slow the investigation.

Officials at the Justice Department declined to comment. A spokesman for Mr. Pence also declined to comment.

The discussions about questioning Mr. Pence are said to be in their early stages. Mr. Pence has not been subpoenaed, and the process could take months, because Mr. Trump can seek to block, or slow, his testimony by trying to invoke executive privilege.

Mr. Trump has cited executive privilege to try to stop other former top officials from talking with investigators. While those efforts have generally been unsuccessful in stopping testimony by the officials to a federal grand jury, they have significantly slowed the process.

Mr. Trump’s efforts to slow or block testimony included asserting executive privilege over testimony from two of Mr. Pence’s top aides: his former chief of staff, Marc Short, and his general counsel, Greg Jacob. But both men returned for grand jury interviews after the Justice Department, in a closed-door court proceeding, fought the effort to apply executive privilege.

Mr. Pence, who rebuffed Mr. Trump’s efforts to enlist him in the plan to block certification of the Electoral College results, has been publicly critical of Mr. Trump’s conduct in the run-up to the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol and on the day of the attack, when members of a pro-Trump mob were chanting “Hang Mike Pence.”

“If there was an invitation to participate, I’d consider it,” Mr. Pence said at the time. But he added that he was concerned that speaking to a congressional committee would violate the doctrine of separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. “But as I said, I don’t want to prejudge. If ever any formal invitation” came, he said, “we’d give it due consideration.”

However, in interviews for the release of his new book, “So Help Me God,” Mr. Pence has been more emphatic in his opposition to providing testimony to the House committee, asserting that “Congress has no right to my testimony” about what he witnessed.

“There’s profound separation-of-powers issues,” Mr. Pence told The New York Times in an interview. “And it would be a terrible precedent.”

But Mr. Pence, according to people familiar with his thinking, sees the Justice Department inquiry differently given that it is a criminal investigation. His testimony could be compelled by subpoena, though none has been issued.

The former vice president is being represented by Emmet Flood, a veteran Washington-based lawyer who served as the lead Trump White House lawyer dealing with the investigation by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, into possible conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016.

Prosecutors want to speak with the former vice president as a witness to former President Trump’s efforts to remain in power.
Mr. Pence is open to considering the request, according to people familiar with his thinking.

 

liz cheney adam kinzinger jamie raskin

washington post logo Washington Post, Jan. 6 panel staffers angry at Cheney for focusing so much of report on Trump, Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey and Carol D. Leonnig, Nov. 23, 2022. 15 former and current staffers expressed concern that important findings unrelated to Trump will not become available to the American public.

Since Rep. Liz Cheney accepted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s offer to serve as the vice chair of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, the Wyoming Republican has exerted a remarkable level of control over much of the committee’s public and private work.

Now, less than six weeks before the conclusion of the committee’s work, Cheney’s influence over the committee’s final report has rankled many current and former committee staff. They are angered and disillusioned by Cheney’s push to focus the report primarily on former president Donald Trump, and have bristled at the committee morphing into what they have come to view as the vehicle for the outgoing Wyoming lawmaker’s political future.

Fifteen former and current staffers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, expressed concerns that important findings unrelated to Trump will not become available to the American public.

The feuding brings to the fore a level of public acrimony within the Jan. 6 committee that previously had largely played out behind the scenes, as public attention was focused on a series of blockbuster public hearings focused on Trump’s role fomenting the attack.

Several committee staff members were floored earlier this month when they were told that a draft report would focus almost entirely on Trump and the work of the committee’s Gold Team, excluding reams of other investigative work.

Potentially left on the cutting room floor, or relegated to an appendix, were many revelations from the Blue Team — the group that dug into the law enforcement and intelligence community’s failure to assess the looming threat and prepare for the well-forecast attack on the Capitol. The proposed report would also cut back on much of the work of the Green Team, which looked at financing for the Jan. 6 attack, and the Purple Team, which examined militia groups and extremism.

“We all came from prestigious jobs, dropping what we were doing because we were told this would be an important fact-finding investigation that would inform the public,” said one former committee staffer. “But when [the committee] became a Cheney 2024 campaign, many of us became discouraged.”

Cheney spokesman Jeremy Adler issued a blistering statement Wednesday to The Washington Post in response to the criticisms.

“Donald Trump is the first president in American history to attempt to overturn an election and prevent the peaceful transfer of power,” Adler said. “So, damn right Liz is ‘prioritizing’ understanding what he did and how he did it and ensuring it never happens again.”

Adler added, “Some staff have submitted subpar material for the report that reflects long-held liberal biases about federal law enforcement, Republicans, and sociological issues outside the scope of the Select Committee’s work. She won’t sign onto any ‘narrative’ that suggests Republicans are inherently racist or smears men and women in law enforcement, or suggests every American who believes God has blessed America is a white supremacist.”

Tim Mulvey, the select committee’s spokesman, said in a separate statement that the panel’s “historic, bipartisan fact-finding effort speaks for itself, and that won’t be changed by a handful of disgruntled staff who are uninformed about many parts of the committee’s ongoing work.”

“They’ve forgotten their duties as public servants and their cowardice is helping Donald Trump and others responsible for the violence of January 6th,” Mulvey’s statement continued. “All nine committee members continue to review materials and make contributions to the draft report, which will address every key aspect of the committee’s investigation. Decisions about the contents of the report ultimately rest with the committee’s bipartisan membership, not the staff.”

The internal tensions over Cheney’s role also stand in contrast to the widespread public praise from many Democrats and even some Republicans, who have hailed her for standing up to Trump and defending democratic norms. Cheney, under siege by Trump and ostracized by the GOP, was defeated in the Wyoming primary this summer and will leave office in January.

Some staffers noted that the mission of the committee — as spelled out in the resolution authorizing its formation — was to discover what political forces and intelligence and security failures allowed the U.S. Capitol Police and its partners to be so overwhelmed and ill-prepared for the attack and to ensure that such an event could not happen again. Leaving any relevant information out of the final report would ignore important lessons for the future and issues that will outlive Trump, they argued.

But in the wake of an NBC News story earlier this month that the final report would not include much of the panel’s work not directly related to Trump, lawmakers on the committee are now reassessing what to include in the final draft and also eyeing different ways to publicly share more of the investigators’ work outside of the report. That could include sharing findings on the committee’s website or releasing internal transcripts.

A senior committee staffer told staff in a virtual conference meeting two weeks ago that none of the work done by people serving on teams other than the Gold Team that didn’t focus on Trump would be included in the final report.

“Everybody freaked out,” the staffer said.

The announcement, this staffer argued, was premature and based on negative reactions from lawmakers who concluded that draft chapters written by non-Gold investigative teams should not be included because they were either too long or too academic in nature. However, the staffer said, while committee members disliked those chapters, they were open to including some of that material in a more concise or streamlined form.

Nov. 22

 

 

supreme court Custom

supreme court headshots 2019

 

djt handwave file

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court denies Trump request to withhold tax returns from Congress, Robert Barnes, Nov. 22, 2022. The court’s order means that the Treasury Department may quickly hand over six years of tax records from former president Donald Trump and some of his companies to the House Ways and Means Committee.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied former president Donald Trump’s efforts to block the release of his tax records to a congressional committee that has sought the information for years.

irs logoThe court’s order means that the Treasury Department may quickly hand over six years of tax records from Trump and some of his companies to the House Ways and Means Committee.

There were no recorded dissents in the court’s order.

Lawmakers have said they need Trump’s tax returns from his time in office to help evaluate the effectiveness of annual presidential audits. Trump has argued that Democratic lawmakers are on a fishing expedition designed to embarrass him politically.

Time is not on the side of Democrats who run the committee. The demands for the records will almost surely expire in January, when Republicans take control of the House as a result of the recent midterm elections.

“Delaying Treasury from providing the requested tax information would leave the Committee and Congress as a whole little or no time to complete their legislative work during this Congress, which is quickly approaching its end,” House general counsel Douglas N. Letter said in a filing to the court.

Trump’s lawyers said that was all the more reason to grant the request to block the release of the records. “The Congress has only a few days left on its legislative calendar,” lawyer Cameron T. Norris said in his filing. “Though a few days is enough time to improperly expose the most sensitive documents of its chief political rival, it’s not enough time to properly study, draft, debate, or pass legislation.”

Trump's early 2024 launch fails to rally GOP around him

Last month, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit declined to review earlier rulings finding that lawmakers are entitled to the documents in the long-running legal battle. That court also refused to put the release of the papers on hold while Trump’s lawyers sought Supreme Court review.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Some Advice for Jack Smith, the New Special Counsel in the Trump Investigations, Andrew Weissmann, Nov. 22, 2022. Mr. Weissmann, right, andrew weissmann croppedwas a senior prosecutor in the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland to take over the investigations of Donald Trump, has joined a select club: He is one of a small number of special prosecutors in modern history to investigate a sitting or former U.S. president. Now is a good time to look back to these examples and take stock of what we can learn from them.

The challenges for Mr. Smith will be shaped by the context in which he operates within the executive branch and the nature of his factual investigation. It is useful to take note of how this differs from the special counsel investigation of a president that immediately preceded him, led by Robert Mueller. I was a senior member of that team.

Mr. Smith is stepping into a political context very different from the one that confronted Mr. Mueller. Most notably, because of Justice Department policy, Mr. Mueller was forbidden to charge a sitting president. Now that Mr. Trump is a former president, Mr. Smith is not subject to that limitation. (That policy does not apply to presidential candidates like Mr. Trump.)

Mr. Trump also no longer has key weapons he wielded to frustrate the Mueller investigation: the destabilizing threat of firing the special counsel and Justice Department leadership to curtail the scope of the investigation and the ability to dangle and bestow presidential pardons to discourage witnesses from cooperating.

The Mueller team’s adversarial relationship with the White House at times also extended to the Justice Department, which sought to manage and scrutinize the investigation and narrow its scope in detrimental ways. Indeed, I experienced more senior Justice Department oversight, not less, when working on the special counsel investigation than I had for a standard Justice Department case.

Mr. Smith has other advantages that relate to the status of the work he is now called on to perform. He is assuming the helm of two substantial investigations in progress — one related to the events surrounding the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, the other to the handling of government documents at Mar-a-Lago — with designated teams of prosecutors and agents he is inheriting. He is not, as Mr. Mueller was, required to fly and build the plane simultaneously.

The factual nature of the investigations is also an advantage: Although the Jan. 6 investigation is hydra-headed, it is far less complex than investigating political interference by a foreign country in a presidential election.

The Mar-a-Lago documents case is straightforward for experienced prosecutors and agents. In that regard, it is like the investigation of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman. That investigation, which I led, involved for the most part simple economic crimes that the department prosecutes routinely.

Mr. Smith will still face the challenges of Mr. Trump’s post-presidential bully pulpit and name-calling from his allies in Washington. And investigating and prosecuting matters in the blinding glare of the media poses numerous challenges. For one, as I learned from the Mueller investigation and the Enron Task Force, it is far harder to persuade a witness to admit to wrongdoing when that admission will be splattered across outlets nationwide.

Nov. 20

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Family’s Newest Partners: Middle Eastern Governments, Eric Lipton and Maggie Haberman, Nov. 20, 2022. The government of Oman is a partner in a real estate deal signed last week by the former president, intensifying questions about a potential conflict as he seeks the White House again.

When former President Donald J. Trump returned briefly last week to his office at Trump Tower in New York, he was joined by his son Eric Trump and the top executive of a Saudi Arabian real estate company to sign a deal that creates new conflict-of-interest questions for his just-launched presidential campaign.

The deal is with a Saudi real estate company, which intends to build a Trump-branded hotel, villas and a golf course as part of a $4 billion real estate project in Oman. The agreement continues a practice that had been popular for the Trump family business until Mr. Trump was elected president — selling branding rights to an overseas project in exchange for a generous licensing fee.

But what makes this project unusual — and is sure to intensify the questions over this newest transaction — is that by teaming up with the Saudi company, Mr. Trump is also becoming part of a project backed by the government of Oman itself.

The deal leaves Mr. Trump, as a former president hoping to win the White House again, effectively with a foreign government partner that has complex relations with the United States, including its role in trying to end the war in Yemen and other important foreign policy agenda items for Washington.

Nov. 19

 

 merrick garland new

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Garland’s appointment of a special counsel was cautious. But also bold, Ruth Marcus, right, Nov. 19, 2022. Trump should not sleep soundly. Attorney General Merrick Garland, ruth marcusshown above, on Friday made a typically cautious decision in a bold way: He appointed a special counsel to investigate former president Donald Trump, but chose a veteran lawyer known for an aggressive streak and a fast prosecutorial metabolism.

This was a step Garland didn’t want to take; he believed the department’s career lawyers were capable of doing the job with integrity and independence. But he had been anticipating — and, careful lawyer that he is, preparing for — this possibility for months.

The first shoe to drop was President Biden’s statement that he intended to run again. That wasn’t enough, in Garland’s assessment, to trigger the requirements of the Justice Department’s special counsel regulations. Even if Trump was teasing another presidential run, the department’s twin investigations — into the classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago and the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection — could proceed as normal.

But Trump’s announcement that he would enter the 2024 race forced Garland’s reluctant hand. The rules, he believed, didn’t leave him any choice.

I thought Garland had more leeway to make the judgment call the other way, but in retrospect it seems almost inevitable that the by-the-books attorney general would go the special counsel route. Justice Department regulations provide that the attorney “will appoint a Special Counsel when he or she determines that criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted” and that investigation or prosecution “would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances.”

The regulations offer an out, one I previously wrote that Garland should take: The attorney general doesn’t have to name a special counsel if he decides that would not be in the public interest. But consider: An administration headed by a president who has announced his intention to seek reelection is investigating a former president who just declared he will run again. If this does not constitute an extraordinary circumstance, what would? What lesson would not appointing a special counsel send to future attorneys general? These are serious concerns.

If Garland had a mission on leaving the bench to return to Justice, it was to repair the department’s reputation for independence and integrity, battered after four years of Trump administration meddling, and to reassure its demoralized troops. Naming a special counsel was never going to assuage the concerns of Trump partisans that the Biden administration is out to get him, as the immediate reaction from Trumpworld underscored. Trump denounced the effort to take any whiff of politics out of the decision-making as “the worst politicization of justice in our country.” A Trump campaign spokesperson called the announcement “a totally expected political stunt by a feckless, politicized, weaponized Biden Department of Justice.”

But Garland’s goal was not to persuade the unpersuadable. It was, in the familiar language of the law, aimed at how a reasonable person would perceive the fairness of the investigation, and whether a reasonable person would think a special counsel was warranted under the facts at hand and the language and spirit of the regulations. It was telling that in this regard, Garland did not acknowledge that investigating Trump constituted a conflict of interest for the department — just that the circumstances had become extraordinary.

“I strongly believe that the normal processes of this department can handle all investigations with integrity,” Garland said. “And I also believe that appointing a special counsel at this time is the right thing to do.”

This is where the bold part comes in: Special counsels usually have big names. Former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III, tapped to oversee the Trump-Russia probe, is the most recent such example. History offers others: Harvard Law School professor Archibald Cox to conduct the Watergate investigation as special prosecutor; former U.S. attorney Robert Fiske and then former appeals court judge Kenneth Starr to handle the Whitewater investigation as independent counsels. They came to the job with a public reputation that, at least in theory, lent credibility to their oversight.

jack smith vestJack Smith, right, Garland’s choice, is decidedly low profile. I spoke with a number of former prosecutors who not only didn’t know Smith — they hadn’t even heard of him. But Smith, a longtime federal prosecutor who has been working at The Hague investigating war crimes in Kosovo, offers advantages that the boldface names don’t. He knows how the department works. He knows how to speed an investigation along. “Stop playing with your food,” Mueller used to instruct hand-wringing prosecutors. Smith is, by all accounts, no food-player. And he offers a potential counter-balance to Garland’s innate cautiousness; hard-charging is the word that comes up in speaking with former colleagues.

“Jack Smith makes me look like a golden retriever puppy,” tweeted Andrew Weissmann, the famously aggressive former Enron and Mueller prosecutor who worked with Smith for years in the federal prosecutor’s Brooklyn office.

One example of Smith’s inclination to aggressiveness: the 2011 decision to charge former North Carolina senator John Edwards for accepting illegal presidential campaign contributions to help support his mistress. This was a stretch, as I wrote at the time, and the subject of controversy within the department. Smith, the head of the department’s Public Integrity Section, pressed to indict. The case ultimately fizzled as a jury acquitted Edwards on one count and deadlocked on five others; the department chose not to seek a retrial.

“For those concerned that the appointment of a Special Counsel will delay things: just the opposite,” Weissmann wrote. “Jack is a super fast, no-nonsense, and let’s-cut-to-the-chase kind of guy. And now, with less DOJ bureaucracy in decision-making, the investigations can move faster.”

That may be over-optimistic, but Trump should not sleep soundly. As a prosecutor, “you have to be able to admit that if it’s not there, it’s not there,” Smith said when he took the public integrity job in 2010. “I think that’s hard for people to do and having been a prosecutor for 15 years that is something I can do.”

Nov. 17

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump Could Go to Prison, and Then Walk Free. Here Are His Five Investigations, Explained, Ankush Khardori, Nov. 17, 2022 (interactive). Mr. Khardori is a lawyer and legal analyst. He spent several years as a prosecutor at the Department of Justice. Before he joined the federal government, he defended corporate clients against charges of fraud and other crimes.

djt march 2020 CustomDonald Trump and his business empire are currently the subjects of no fewer than five major simultaneous investigations, a truly extraordinary challenge for anyone, let alone a former and possibly future president of the United States. These are complicated investigations, with long and winding paths to resolution. They involve scores of federal and state investigators and witnesses across the country, from politicians eager to shield themselves from scrutiny to employees turning on their colleagues to a former president who knows how to navigate — and manipulate — the legal system like no one else.

The public has very little visibility into how these investigations are proceeding day by day, as government officials quietly gather evidence and plan their next moves. Any number of unexpected developments — surprise witnesses, hung juries and perhaps even a special counsel empowered to oversee Justice Department investigations — could slow or derail their work.

FBI logoThe announcement of Mr. Trump’s candidacy for president does not halt any of these investigations, but it could affect how prosecutors weigh their options, and his uniquely polarizing status could affect how judges and juries resolve any cases that make it to trial. Were he to win the election, he could put an end to any pending federal prosecutions or investigations once in office.

Even at this stage, some potential scenarios are possible to discern, including the possibility — however improbable it may seem — that all of the investigations resolve in his favor, with no conviction and no serious legal consequences. Based on interviews with experts and analysis of media reports, as well as of the law itself, here is a close look at some of the paths by which such an outcome could come to pass.

Below we illustrate the likely key steps for prosecutors and other enforcement officials, as well as offramps Mr. Trump could use to stay out of prison or otherwise mitigate the possible repercussions from these probes.

ny times logoNew York Times, Some of former President Trump’s staunchest allies have shunned his attempt to recapture the White House, Reid J. Epstein, Lisa Lerer and Jonathan Weisman, Nov. 17, 2022. Early signs suggest he may struggle to win over Republican Party leaders for his third presidential bid, after a string of disappointments, but Donald Trump’s staunchest voters are another matter.

Three billionaire donors have moved on and others are actively weighing their options. A number of former allies are staying on the sidelines. A long list of potential rivals — from popular governors to members of Congress — are seriously assessing their chances for 2024. Even his own daughter has declined to get involved.

Within hours of Donald J. Trump announcing his third presidential bid on Tuesday, some of his former aides, donors and staunchest allies are shunning his attempt to recapture the White House, an early sign that he may face difficulty winning the support of a Republican Party still reeling from unexpected midterm losses.

While Mr. Trump has long faced opposition from the establishment and elite quarters of his party, this round of criticism was new in its raw bluntness, plainly out in the open by Wednesday and focused on reminding voters that the Trump era in Republican politics has led to the opposite of the endless winning Mr. Trump once promised.

“The message he delivered last night — which was self-serving, which was chaotic — was the same one that lost the last election cycle and would lose the next,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a Republican and Trump critic who spoke Wednesday from Iowa, where he is testing the waters for a presidential run in 2024. “We need alternatives.”

A growing chorus of Republican officials, lawmakers and activists blame the former president for their failure to regain control of the Senate and for what will be a narrow margin in the House.

The scope of the Republican losses has prompted some of his allies to publicly voice complaints they have long kept private about the former president’s ability to win the White House. For those who have been more vocal, their concerns have morphed into far more direct attacks as they try to seize what they see as a chance to move past Mr. Trump and embrace a new class of party leaders.

At an annual gathering of Republican governors in Orlando, donors and lobbyists mingled with governors past, present and future while weighing ways to wrest Mr. Trump from the party’s base. Their main complaint was not over policy or even style, but losses the party has taken since Mr. Trump won the White House in 2016.

Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, a Republican often mentioned as a potential 2024 candidate, said she did not believe Mr. Trump offered “the best chance” for the party in 2024.

“If we narrow our focus there, then we’re not talking to every single American,” Ms. Noem said in an interview as she sat across a mahogany table from her political adviser, Corey Lewandowski, who served as campaign manager for an early portion of Mr. Trump’s 2016 bid. “Our job is not just to talk to people who love Trump or hate Trump. Our job is to talk to every single American.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Key Witness in Trump Organization Trial Takes Stand Under Pressure, Ben Protess and Jonah E. Bromwich, Nov. 17, 2022. Allen Weisselberg served the family firm for decades. A plea deal has him testifying in the company’s tax fraud case, telling the truth or facing jail time.

allen weisselberg croppedAllen H. Weisselberg, right, is the man in the middle.

To avoid a long prison sentence, he pleaded guilty to 17 felonies and on Thursday will continue testifying for Manhattan prosecutors in their criminal tax fraud case against Donald J. Trump’s family business, where Mr. Weisselberg worked for decades.

But Mr. Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the company, remains on the payroll, taking a $640,000 salary, and has refused to turn on Mr. Trump — who is the subject of a broader investigation by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

With his freedom and livelihood on the line, Mr. Weisselberg is caught between the prosecutors with whom he struck a deal and the family that has employed him for nearly a half-century.

Mr. Weisselberg stepped into his role as the prosecution’s star witness on Tuesday, testifying about his involvement in a tax scheme at the Trump Organization, where he and other executives were compensated in lavish off-the-books perks. Mr. Weisselberg failed to pay taxes on those benefits, which included his Manhattan apartment, his leased Mercedes-Benzes and even his cable bill.

Mr. Weisselberg and the company were charged in 2021; a year later, he pleaded guilty, reaching a deal that required him to testify truthfully. If he does, he is expected to be sentenced to five months in jail and with good behavior could serve as little as 100 days behind bars.

If the judge concludes that Mr. Weisselberg lied on the stand, he could face up to 15 years in prison.

“Mr. Weisselberg’s legal situation is as complex as that faced by any witness,” said his lawyer, Nicholas A. Gravante Jr., noting that his client must testify even though he continues to be “a loyal employee of the Trump Organization.”

“Mr. Weisselberg’s mission is clear. He will take the stand, answer every question truthfully, and let the chips fall where they may,” Mr. Gravante said.

ny times logoNew York Times, Donald Trump Is Running in 2024. The White House Has a Plan, Michael D. Shear, Nov. 17, 2022 (print ed.). President Biden’s advisers have been working on a strategy for responding to what they expect will be constant attacks.

With Donald J. Trump’s announcement that he is officially running to reclaim the Oval Office he falsely asserts was stolen from him, President Biden is ready to implement what some of his top aides refer to as “the Trump project.”

Mr. Biden has spent much of the last year putting a fearsome face on the “ultra-MAGA” agenda, taking aim at Republican senators, governors and state lawmakers. Now, he will return the focus to his once and future foil — Mr. “Make America Great Again” himself.

Inside the West Wing, a small group of presidential advisers has been working to develop a plan for how Mr. Biden and the White House will respond to what they expect will be a constant stream of invective from the former president now that he is formally a candidate.

Mr. Trump started the attacks almost immediately in his speech on Tuesday night announcing his presidential run, as he complained about “Biden and the radical-left lunatics running our government right into the ground.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump is out for vengeance — and to protect himself from prosecution, George T. Conway III, right, Nov. 17, 2022 george conway post(print ed.). He was always going to run. Absent incarceration or interment, and perhaps only the latter, he inevitably would seek the presidency again. His narcissism, his megalomania, his delicate yet illimitable ego, would have it no other way.

Donald Trump craves the power. Even more, he craves the attention. And more than ever — after an unprecedented two impeachments, a humiliating reelection defeat that he can’t even admit, and amid multiple criminal investigations and civil suits — he seeks vengeance. The l’état c’est moi president who apparently tried to sic the IRS on his enemies (and perhaps succeeded), and who tried to extort Ukraine into smearing Joe Biden, can’t wait to get back on the job.

Trump won’t succeed, as his successive losses of the House, Senate, presidency and last week’s midterm results show. Too many Americans would crawl on broken glass to vote against him, no matter who his general election opponent may be. They have seen enough.

That goes also for many Republicans, particularly the sophisticated ones. Their views were succinctly stated by Marc Thiessen just the other day: “Mr. President, it is not in your interest to run in 2024. If you do, you will likely lose. And you will destroy what remains of your legacy in the process. Please, don’t do it,” Thiessen begged.

Legacy? Trump has none, other than his impeachments and the stain of Jan. 6, 2021. He’ll never be remembered for much else. Historians will perpetually rank him as among the worst — if not the worst — in the presidential pantheon. As they should, befitting a man who, despite having sworn an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, did his level best to destroy it.

Trump can’t ruin a legacy he doesn’t have, but he could easily wreck something else: the Republican Party. Which is why so many in the GOP are, at long last, so alarmed. And why Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, the right-wing donor class and so many Republican Party operatives seek an alternative. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, they hope, will save the day.

Nov. 16

 djt 2020 hat Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: At Trump’s angry announcement, the magic is gone, Dana Milbank, right, Nov. 16, 2022 (print ed.). Donald Trump, The Post reported dana milbank newestTuesday, “wants to recapture the underdog vibe" of his 2016 campaign for the presidency.

If that is his goal, he has already scored a big win. Huge, in fact.

Republicans are (justifiably) blaming Trump for their pratfall in last week’s midterms, the third straight election in which voters rejected the MAGA brand. #Winning

Trump-endorsed election deniers, such as Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, lost up and down the ballot, as Republicans blew their chance to take the Senate and win a workable majority in the House. #Winning

Aides pressed Trump, publicly, not to announce his 2024 presidential candidacy on Tuesday night, so soon after the dismal election. #Winning

Republican office holders conspicuously avoided Mar-a-Lago for Trump’s “special announcement.” Even Trumpophilic Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.) begged off, claiming bad weather kept him from flying from Washington to Palm Beach, when in fact air travel Tuesday was normal. Reporters spotted only one current member of Congress: Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina — and he was defeated in a primary.

Republicans, sick and tired of so much winning, are crying out to Trump: Please, stop winning.

djt maga hatBut the Mussolini of Mar-a-Lago replies: No, we’re going to keep winning.

“In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” he informed to his guests — an announcement that surprised no one and delighted only slightly more.

Trump aide Jason Miller promised a 35-minute, “very forward-looking” speech. Instead, it was interminable, meandering and, well, low-energy, as Trump kept departing from the teleprompter into gibberish.

He was defensive. He said the “fake news” is “trying to blame me” for the disappointing election showing, but he had an “unprecedented success rate” (!) with his endorsements.

He spoke nonsense: “I’ve gone decades — decades — without a war, the first president to do it that long,” he said of his four-year term.

 Washington Post, Trump, who as president fomented an insurrection, says he is running again, Isaac Arnsdorf

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s 2024 candidacy won’t stop Justice Dept. criminal probes, Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein, Nov. 16, 2022 (print ed.). Officials have discussed whether a special counsel should be appointed as Trump runs. But some legal experts think it’s too late for that.

Donald Trump’s just-announced 2024 presidential bid won’t protect him from criminal probes but could complicate the decision-making process at the Justice Department, as senior officials strive to show that investigating a political figure is not the same thing as a political investigation.

Justice Department log circularPrivately, Justice Department officials have discussed the possibility of appointing a special counsel to take over investigations involving Trump — such as the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case or the attempts to prevent Joe Biden from ascending to the presidency after the 2020 election — if Trump formally declares himself a 2024 presidential candidate, people familiar with the matter said.

How serious those discussions were and how long ago they occurred are not clear. But Attorney General Merrick Garland and others may soon face a decision point, as Trump, who lost his bid for a second term in 2020, announced his next presidential campaign Tuesday night.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. The people familiar with the matter spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Trump, who as president fomented an insurrection, is running for the White House again

hillary clinton buttonPlenty of political candidates have been investigated while they ran for office — including Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent in 2016. The FBI investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server was opened in mid-2015, continued throughout the primaries, was closed just before the nominating convention and then publicly reopened less than two weeks before Election Day.

No special counsel was appointed for that probe.

Justice Department regulations say the attorney general “will” appoint a special counsel, essentially a prosecutor handpicked to tackle a particularly criminal investigation, if a case meets several criteria, specifically: that an investigation is warranted in a way that presents a conflict of interest for the Justice Department “or other extraordinary circumstances,” and that under those circumstances “it would be in the public interest” to appoint a special counsel to handle the case.

Critically, even if a special counsel is appointed, that person would still report to the attorney general, who would have the ultimate authority on what to do about the evidence.

Garland made that point earlier this year when asked at a Senate hearing why he had not appointed a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden, the president’s son, who is the focus of a long-running probe involving his business dealings and taxes.

The status of key investigations involving Donald Trump

“This is a fact and law determination in each case,” Garland told the lawmakers, adding that special counsels “are also employees of the Justice Department” — meaning they still report to the attorney general.

Sarah Isgur served as an adviser to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein in 2017, when he appointed Robert S. Mueller III a special counsel to investigate any possible ties between Russian election interference and the Trump campaign. She said she doesn’t think Garland has much choice but to name a special counsel if Trump runs for president.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Trump campaign operation takes shape ahead of expected 2024 announcement, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer, Nov. 16, 2022 (print ed.).The former president envisions a smaller campaign akin to his 2016 effort rather than the better funded but losing 2020 bid.

A trio of longtime Republican operatives will lead Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign, which the former president is set to announce Tuesday evening in the ballroom of his private Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., according to five people familiar with the staffing decisions.

djt maga hatThere are expected to be notable differences from his 2020 campaign, advisers say. His nascent presidential bid is not currently expected to have a traditional campaign manager, with multiple advisers in top roles, according to some of the people familiar with the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal deliberations. Trump is famous for firing campaign managers.

Compared with 2020, the 2024 bid is expected to have a smaller staff and budget, advisers say, as Trump has complained that his failed 2020 campaign had too many people and spent too much money. He often told people that he did not even know what some of the people on his last campaign did.

The new campaign is expected to be based in South Florida, advisers say, instead of having a Washington presence.

Trump has told others he wants to re-create the underdog vibe of the 2016 campaign. He faces a range of challenges, including multiple federal and state investigations, growing criticism from Republicans, and unpopularity in many of the early 2024 states.

Trump is famous for overriding campaign advisers and pitting aides against each other, and some allies have already predicted drama and cinematic firings — before the campaign has even launched.

The top advisers include Chris LaCivita, a longtime Republican strategist who is directing a super PAC tied to Trump, and Susie Wiles, a Florida-based political consultant who helped Trump win the state in his previous two presidential bids and has led his political operation for the past 18 months.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s 2024 candidacy won’t stop Justice Dept. criminal probes, Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein, Nov. 16, 2022 (print ed.). Officials have discussed whether a special counsel should be appointed as Trump runs. But some legal experts think it’s too late for that.

Donald Trump’s just-announced 2024 presidential bid won’t protect him from criminal probes but could complicate the decision-making process at the Justice Department, as senior officials strive to show that investigating a political figure is not the same thing as a political investigation.

Justice Department log circularPrivately, Justice Department officials have discussed the possibility of appointing a special counsel to take over investigations involving Trump — such as the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case or the attempts to prevent Joe Biden from ascending to the presidency after the 2020 election — if Trump formally declares himself a 2024 presidential candidate, people familiar with the matter said.

How serious those discussions were and how long ago they occurred are not clear. But Attorney General Merrick Garland and others may soon face a decision point, as Trump, who lost his bid for a second term in 2020, announced his next presidential campaign Tuesday night.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. The people familiar with the matter spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Trump, who as president fomented an insurrection, is running for the White House again

hillary clinton buttonPlenty of political candidates have been investigated while they ran for office — including Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent in 2016. The FBI investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server was opened in mid-2015, continued throughout the primaries, was closed just before the nominating convention and then publicly reopened less than two weeks before Election Day.

No special counsel was appointed for that probe.

Justice Department regulations say the attorney general “will” appoint a special counsel, essentially a prosecutor handpicked to tackle a particularly criminal investigation, if a case meets several criteria, specifically: that an investigation is warranted in a way that presents a conflict of interest for the Justice Department “or other extraordinary circumstances,” and that under those circumstances “it would be in the public interest” to appoint a special counsel to handle the case.

Critically, even if a special counsel is appointed, that person would still report to the attorney general, who would have the ultimate authority on what to do about the evidence.

Garland made that point earlier this year when asked at a Senate hearing why he had not appointed a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden, the president’s son, who is the focus of a long-running probe involving his business dealings and taxes.

The status of key investigations involving Donald Trump

“This is a fact and law determination in each case,” Garland told the lawmakers, adding that special counsels “are also employees of the Justice Department” — meaning they still report to the attorney general.

Sarah Isgur served as an adviser to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein in 2017, when he appointed Robert S. Mueller III a special counsel to investigate any possible ties between Russian election interference and the Trump campaign. She said she doesn’t think Garland has much choice but to name a special counsel if Trump runs for president.

Nov. 15

Emptywheel, Analysis: Devlin Barrett’s “People Familiar With The Matter,” Emptywheel, (Marcy Wheeler, right), Nov. 15, 2022. As Devlin Barrett’s sources would have marcy wheelerit, a man whose business ties to the Saudis include a $2 billion investment in his son-in-law, a golf partnership of undisclosed value, and a new hotel development in Oman would have no business interest in stealing highly sensitive documents describing Iran’s missile systems.

I’ll let you decide whether the claim, made in Barrett’s latest report on the stolen documents case, means the FBI is considering the issue very narrowly or Barrett’s sources are bullshitting him.

That review has not found any apparent business advantage to the types of classified information in Trump’s possession, these people said. FBI interviews with witnesses so far, they said, also do not point to any nefarious effort by Trump to leverage, sell or use the government secrets. Instead, the former president seemed motivated by a more basic desire not to give up what he believed was his property, these people said.

Barrett has a history of credulously repeating what right wing FBI agents feed him for their own political goals, which means it’s unclear how seriously to take this report. Particularly given several critical details Barrett’s story does not mention:

 

 

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. (U.S. Department of Justice)

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover. (U.S. Department of Justice photo.)

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigators see ego, not money, as Trump’s motive on classified papers, Devlin Barrett and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 15, 2022 (print ed.). A review by agents and prosecutors found no discernible business interest in the Mar-a-Lago documents, people familiar with the matter said.

Federal agents and prosecutors have come to believe former president Donald Trump’s motive for allegedly taking and keeping classified documents was largely his ego and a desire to hold on to the materials as trophies or mementos, according to people familiar with the matter.

Justice Department log circularAs part of the investigation, federal authorities reviewed the classified documents that were recovered from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and private club, looking to see if the types of information contained in them pointed to any kind of pattern or similarities, according to these people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

That review has not found any apparent business advantage to the types of classified information in Trump’s possession, these people said. FBI interviews with witnesses so far, they said, also do not point to any nefarious effort by Trump to leverage, sell or use the government secrets. Instead, the former president seemed motivated by a more basic desire not to give up what he believed was his property, these people said.

Several Trump advisers said that each time he was asked to give documents or materials back, his stance hardened, and that he gravitated toward lawyers and advisers who indulged his more pugilistic desires. Trump repeatedly said the materials were his, not the government’s — often in profane terms, two of these people said.

The people familiar with the matter cautioned that the investigation is ongoing, that no final determinations have been made, and that it is possible additional information could emerge that changes investigators’ understanding of Trump’s motivations. But they said the evidence collected over a period of months indicates the primary explanation for potentially criminal conduct was Trump’s ego and intransigence.

A Justice Department spokesman and an FBI spokeswoman declined to comment. A Trump spokesman did not return a request for comment Monday.

Trump and the Mar-a-Lago documents: a timeline

The analysis of Trump’s likely motive in allegedly keeping the documents is not, strictly speaking, an element of determining whether he or anyone around him committed a crime or should be charged with one. Justice Department policy dictates that prosecutors file criminal charges in cases in which they believe a crime was committed and the evidence is strong enough to lead to a conviction that will hold up on appeal. But as a practical matter, motive is an important part of how prosecutors assess cases and decide whether to file criminal charges.

Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor, said keeping hundreds of classified documents, many marked top secret, at a private home “is such a perplexing thing to do” that it makes sense for prosecutors to search for a motive.

“It makes perfect sense as to why prosecutors would be spending time scouring through the various records and documents to look for some kind of pattern or theme to explain why certain records were kept and why others were not,” Mintz said. “In presenting a case to a jury, prosecutors typically want to explain the motive for committing a crime. It’s not necessary to prove a crime, but it helps tell the story of exactly how a crime unfolded, according to the government.”

Court papers say the Justice Department has been investigating Trump and his advisers for three potential crimes: mishandling of national security secrets, obstruction, and destruction of government records.

The Washington Post has previously reported that among the most sensitive classified documents recovered by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago were documents about Iran and China, according to people familiar with the matter.

At least one of the documents seized by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8 describes Iran’s missile program, according to these people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation. Other documents described highly sensitive intelligence work aimed at China, they said. The Post has also reported that some of the material focuses on the defense systems of a foreign country, including its nuclear capabilities.

Two advisers to the former president who personally reviewed boxes of material in Trump’s White House said he often threw hundreds of pieces of paper in boxes — mixing in highly sensitive documents with years-old schedules and other mundane material.

Top national security prosecutor joins Justice Dept.' Mar-a-Lago investigation

The FBI has recovered three batches of classified documents from Mar-a-Lago in the past year. The first batch, in January, came when Trump agreed to hand over to the National Archives and Records Administration 15 boxes of material that the agency believed contained historical presidential records. In those boxes, archivists found 184 classified documents, including 25 marked top secret, which were scattered throughout the boxes in no particular order, according to court filings.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump campaign operation takes shape ahead of expected 2024 announcement, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer, Nov. 15, 2022. The former president envisions a smaller campaign akin to his 2016 effort rather than the better funded but losing 2020 bid.

A trio of longtime Republican operatives will lead Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign, which the former president is set to announce Tuesday evening in the ballroom of his private Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., according to five people familiar with the staffing decisions.

There are expected to be notable differences from his 2020 campaign, advisers say. His nascent presidential bid is not currently expected to have a traditional campaign manager, with multiple advisers in top roles, according to some of the people familiar with the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal internal deliberations. Trump is famous for firing campaign managers.

Compared with 2020, the 2024 bid is expected to have a smaller staff and budget, advisers say, as Trump has complained that his failed 2020 campaign had too many people and spent too much money. He often told people that he did not even know what some of the people on his last campaign did.

The new campaign is expected to be based in South Florida, advisers say, instead of having a Washington presence.

Trump has told others he wants to re-create the underdog vibe of the 2016 campaign. He faces a range of challenges, including multiple federal and state investigations, growing criticism from Republicans, and unpopularity in many of the early 2024 states.

Trump is famous for overriding campaign advisers and pitting aides against each other, and some allies have already predicted drama and cinematic firings — before the campaign has even launched.

The top advisers include Chris LaCivita, a longtime Republican strategist who is directing a super PAC tied to Trump, and Susie Wiles, a Florida-based political consultant who helped Trump win the state in his previous two presidential bids and has led his political operation for the past 18 months.

ny times logoNew York Times, Documents Detail Foreign Government Spending at Trump Hotel, Luke Broadwater and Eric Lipton, Nov. 15, 2022 (print ed.). Six nations spent lavishly at the hotel as they sought to influence the Trump administration, according to a breakdown released by the House Oversight Committee.

Officials from six nations spent more than $750,000 at former President Donald J. Trump’s hotel in Washington when they were seeking to influence his administration, renting rooms for more than $10,000 per night, according to documents that his former accounting firm turned over to Congress.

The governments of Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and China spent more money than previously known at the Trump International Hotel at crucial times in 2017 and 2018 for those countries’ relations with the United States, according to the documents, which were obtained by the House Oversight Committee and released on Monday.

The officials spent freely at the hotel, the records show. The Malaysian prime minister, for instance, hired a $1,500 personal trainer during his stay at the Trump hotel in 2017. The Saudi Ministry of Defense rented several suites, costing $10,500 each, with rooms reserved under the name “His Excellency.” Qatari officials spent more than $300,000 there in the weeks leading up to a meeting with Mr. Trump in 2018.

The documents build on the public record of how Mr. Trump’s hotel brought in millions during his presidency from foreign governments. The Oversight Committee has previously estimated that the hotel received more than $3.75 million from foreign governments from 2017 to 2020, raising concerns about possible violations of the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause.

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Allows Subpoena for Arizona Republican’s Phone Records, Adam Liptak, Nov. 15, 2022 (print ed.). The Supreme Court paved the way for the Jan. 6 panel to obtain phone records of the Arizona Republican Party’s chairwoman.

The Supreme Court paved the way on Monday for the House committee investigating the Capitol attack to obtain phone records of Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party.

As is its custom in ruling on emergency applications, the court’s brief order gave no reasons. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. noted dissents, also without giving reasons.

Experts in legal ethics have said that Justice Thomas should recuse himself from cases concerning the Jan. 6 attack in light of the efforts of his wife, Virginia Thomas, to overturn the 2020 election. Ms. Thomas’s activities included lobbying the speaker of the Arizona House to try to reverse Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the state.

Lower courts had ruled against Dr. Ward, an osteopathic physician who the committee said had played a key role in efforts to subvert the election.

ny times logoNew York Times, Former Vice President Mike Pence said former President Trump was “reckless” in assailing him on Jan. 6, Maggie Haberman, Nov. 15, 2022 (print ed.). In excerpts from an interview with ABC, the former vice president said he was angered that Donald J. Trump’s tweet during the Capitol attack had endangered him and his family.

Former Vice President Mike Pence told ABC News that he was “angered” by former President Donald J. Trump’s “reckless” tweet assailing him during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, in his first interview about the violent efforts by Mr. Trump’s supporters to keep him in power.

The first excerpts from Mr. Pence’s interview, with the ABC anchor David Muir, were aired on Sunday and Monday, with more to be broadcast on Monday night. The former vice president gave the interview to promote his new book, “So Help Me God,” which is scheduled to be released on Tuesday.

Mr. Pence provided his views as Mr. Trump prepares to announce a third presidential campaign on Tuesday night at a rally at his private club in Florida, Mar-a-Lago, which the F.B.I. searched over the summer to recover dozens of classified documents that had left the White House with Mr. Trump.

“The president’s words that day at the rally endangered me and my family and everyone at the Capitol building,” Mr. Pence told Mr. Muir, referring to the former president’s comments at an event on Jan. 6, 2021, at the Ellipse near the White House. At the rally, Mr. Trump repeatedly pressured Mr. Pence to use his ceremonial role overseeing certification of the Electoral College results of the 2020 election to delay or overturn the outcome, and then called on the crowd to march to the Capitol.

Nov. 14

 

djt on phone white house photo

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Wanted I.R.S. Investigations of Foes, Top Aide Says, Michael S. Schmidt, Nov. 14, 2022 (print ed.). John Kelly, who was White House chief of staff, said former President Trump wanted investigations into perceived enemies like the former F.B.I. director.

While in office, President Donald J. Trump (shown above in a White House photo during his presidency) repeatedly told John F. Kelly, his second White House chief of staff, that he wanted a number of his perceived political enemies to be investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Mr. Kelly said.

FBI logoMr. Kelly, right, who was chief of staff from July 2017 through the end of 2018, said in response to questions from The New York Times that Mr. Trump’s demands were part of a broader pattern of him trying to use the Justice Department and his authority as president against people who had been john kelly o dhscritical of him, including seeking to revoke the security clearances of former top intelligence officials.

Mr. Kelly said that among those Mr. Trump said “we ought to investigate” and “get the I.R.S. on” were the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey and his deputy, Andrew G. McCabe. His account of Mr. Trump’s desires to use the I.R.S. against his foes comes after the revelation by The Times this summer that Mr. Comey and Mr. McCabe had both been selected for a rare and highly intrusive audit by the tax agency in the years after Mr. Kelly left the White House.

Mr. Trump has said he knows nothing about the audits. The I.R.S. has asked its inspector general to investigate, and officials have insisted the two men were selected randomly for the audits.

irs logoMr. Kelly said he made clear to Mr. Trump that there were serious legal and ethical issues with what he wanted. He said that despite the president’s expressed desires to have Mr. Comey and Mr. McCabe investigated by the I.R.S., he believes that he led Mr. Trump during his tenure as chief of staff to forgo trying to have such investigations conducted.

After Mr. Kelly left the administration, Mr. Comey was informed in 2019 that his 2017 returns were being audited, and Mr. McCabe learned in 2021 that his 2019 returns were being audited. At the time both audits occurred, the I.R.S. was led by a Trump political appointee.

New York Daily News May 9, 2017.(Comey was a Republican whose firing by Trump during Comey's 10-year term was reported by the New York Daily News in front page story at right on New York Daily News May 9, 2017.)

Mr. Trump regularly made his demands in response to news reports in which he thought his perceived enemies made him look bad. The president would carry on about having them investigated to the point that Mr. Kelly thought he needed to tell the president that what he wanted was highly problematic, explaining, in sometimes heated conversations, that what Mr. Trump wanted was not just potentially illegal and immoral but also could blow back on him.

Mr. Trump would eventually let the idea go, Mr. Kelly said, but during subsequent outbursts about his enemies he would again bring up his desires to have them investigated.

Throughout Mr. Trump’s presidency he regularly, in both public and private, ranted about Mr. Comey, whom Mr. Trump had fired in May 2017, and Mr. McCabe, who played a leading role in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

 

McCabe, a career federal prosecutor, successfully sued to regain his pension that had been eliminated one day short of vesting when Trump's team fired him. He wrote a memoir,

McCabe, a career federal prosecutor and Justice Department official, successfully sued to regain his pension that had been eliminated one day short of vesting when Trump's team fired him. He wrote a memoir, "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump."

ny times logoNew York Times, Former Vice President Mike Pence said former President Trump was “reckless” in assailing him on Jan. 6, Maggie Haberman, Nov. 14, 2022. In excerpts from an interview with ABC, the former vice president said he was angered that Donald J. Trump’s tweet during the Capitol attack had endangered him and his family.

Former Vice President Mike Pence told ABC News that he was “angered” by former President Donald J. Trump’s “reckless” tweet assailing him during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, in his first interview about the violent efforts by Mr. Trump’s supporters to keep him in power.

The first excerpts from Mr. Pence’s interview, with the ABC anchor David Muir, were aired on Sunday and Monday, with more to be broadcast on Monday night. The former vice president gave the interview to promote his new book, “So Help Me God,” which is scheduled to be released on Tuesday.

Mr. Pence provided his views as Mr. Trump prepares to announce a third presidential campaign on Tuesday night at a rally at his private club in Florida, Mar-a-Lago, which the F.B.I. searched over the summer to recover dozens of classified documents that had left the White House with Mr. Trump.

“The president’s words that day at the rally endangered me and my family and everyone at the Capitol building,” Mr. Pence told Mr. Muir, referring to the former president’s comments at an event on Jan. 6, 2021, at the Ellipse near the White House. At the rally, Mr. Trump repeatedly pressured Mr. Pence to use his ceremonial role overseeing certification of the Electoral College results of the 2020 election to delay or overturn the outcome, and then called on the crowd to march to the Capitol.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Justice Department and Donald Trump’s lawyers clashed over the status of seized documents in newly unsealed briefs, Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer, Nov. 14, 2022. A pair of unsealed briefs argue over the ex-president’s power to claim White House materials as his property and invoke executive privilege.

Justice Department log circularThe Justice Department has urged a special master to broadly reject assertions by former President Donald J. Trump that he owns a range of documents the F.B.I. seized from his Florida residence and that he can invoke executive privilege to bar criminal investigators from looking at some of them.

But lawyers for Mr. Trump have put forward the opposite case, laying out a sweeping vision of his power to declare documents as his personal property and to keep files from his presidency secret from the Biden-era executive branch.

The opposing views were on display in rival briefs partly unsealed on Monday. The two sides had recently submitted the briefs to Judge Raymond J. Dearie, the special master who is overseeing a process of resolving disputes about the status of some 13,000 documents and photographs seized in August.

Nov. 13

 

Marla Maples, left, Michael Boulos, Tiffany Trump and former President Donald J. Trump at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday (Photo by Hy Goldberg for DenisLEON&Co.)

Marla Maples, left, Michael Boulos, Tiffany Trump and former President Donald J. Trump at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday (Photo by Hy Goldberg for DenisLEON&Co.)

ny times logoNew York Times, Tiffany Trump Weds at Mar-a-Lago, Tammy La Gorce, Nov. 13, 2022 (print ed.). Tiffany Trump and Michael Boulos, whose wedding was almost derailed by Hurricane Nicole, treated their guests to an American-Lebanese celebration at her father’s private residence.

The arrival of Hurricane Nicole at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., on Thursday may have paused preparations for the wedding of Tiffany Trump and Michael Boulos, but the ceremony, which took place at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at the club and private residence of former President Donald J. Trump, went ahead as planned despite the severe weather days before.

Toni Breiss, a Lebanese wedding and event planner known for his over-the-top productions, was brought on to realize the couple’s dream wedding.

Ms. Trump, 29, was escorted down the aisle before 250 guests by her father, Mr. Trump. The bride wore a custom dress designed by Elie Saab.

Ms. Trump chose the Grecian goddess-inspired gown by the Lebanese designer as a nod to Mr. Boulos’s heritage and thought it fitting for their American-Lebanese wedding, Ms. Trump said via Mr. Watts.

Mr. Boulos, whom Vanity Fair described as her “billionaire heir boyfriend,” was born in Lebanon and is the 25-year-old heir to Boulos Enterprises, a Nigerian distribution and assembly company for vehicles including motorcycles and power bikes, run by his father, Massad Boulos.

The couple started dating in 2018, according to Town and Country, and announced their engagement on Instagram in January 2021, on the final full day of Mr. Trump’s presidency. Ms. Trump graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 2020.

Ms. Maples, 59, of Miami, was married to Mr. Trump from 1993 to 1999. Ms. Trump, the couple’s only child, has managed to keep a lower public profile than Trump’s other children have. She is the only adult child of Mr. Trump’s not to be sued by the New York attorney general, Letitia James.

washington post logoWashington Post, In filing, Trump lawyers again claim he had right to declassify documents, Perry Stein, Nov. 12, 2022 (print ed.). But as they have before, lawyers for the former president stop short of saying he declassified documents seized at Mar-a-Lago.

Donald Trump’s lawyers provided a more detailed explanation in a court filing Thursday evening as to why they say the former president had the authority to personally declassify sensitive government documents, though they again stopped short of saying Trump actually declassified materials that he kept after leaving the White House.

The legal team’s explanation was included in a 67-page response to the Justice Department’s appeal of a lower court’s decision to appoint an outside arbiter to sift through the thousands of documents seized from Trump’s Florida residence on Aug. 8 to see if any should be shielded from criminal investigators because they are privileged.

Trump’s lawyers acknowledged that there is a process to declassify documents, which they stated includes going to the person who originally classified the document — or to that person’s supervisor — to declassify them.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Trump’s claim about using the FBI to stop 2018 vote counting, explained, Philip Bump, right, Nov. 12, 2022. The former president made a remarkable claim on his social philip bumpnetwork — a claim that's almost certainly false.

Donald Trump told his supporters that they ought to tune in next week for a special announcement — almost certainly some sort of formalization of his months-long winking about seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. But Trump is not waiting for that announcement to begin taking shots at the man generally considered his most formidable opponent, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

Over at the social media platform Trump helped start, the former president has been on a tirade against DeSantis, very clearly out of frustration that DeSantis sailed to reelection on Tuesday while Trump-endorsed candidates were battered. So Trump is offering up context like “shouldn’t it be said that in 2020, I got 1.1 Million more votes in Florida than Ron D got this year, 5.7 Million to 4.6 Million?”

Most of this was just part of the ambient Trump noise that Americans generally tune out. But then there was another claim, a new one, that raised eyebrows. As part of a thread claiming credit for nearly every aspect of DeSantis’s political career (not completely unfairly), Trump brought up the aftermath of the 2018 election in Florida that DeSantis narrowly won.

“After the Race, when votes were being stolen by the corrupt Election process in Broward County, and Ron was going down ten thousand votes a day, along with now-Senator Rick Scott,” Trump wrote, “I sent in the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys, and the ballot theft immediately ended, just prior to them running out of the votes necessary to win. I stopped his Election from being stolen.…”

This is a really remarkable claim, that as president he leveraged the Justice Department to intervene in an election. It is also almost certainly false.

It’s useful to remember what happened that year. In an echo of the midterm elections just ended, 2018 was a remarkably good year for Democrats — except for Florida. There, Democratic advantages in the gubernatorial and Senate races evaporated, leading to narrow Republican victories. DeSantis won by about 30,000 votes; incumbent Gov. Rick Scott won election to the Senate by about 10,000.

Those margins were close enough that attention turned to the counting of mail ballots in the days after the election, a process that is by now deeply familiar to political observers. So was the context in which that counting took place: Scott alleged that the slow process of counting votes in Democratic-heavy counties like Broward offered the opportunity for illegal ballots to be injected. There was no actual evidence of this; he and his allies insisted that ballots were appearing out of nowhere to be included, which wasn’t true. But it was a way to cast doubt on the vote and, potentially, to shut down a vote count that had consistently eroded his advantage after Election Day.

This is what Trump appears to be referring to. But the timeline of what happened makes clear that none of this had anything to do with DeSantis.

Scott first made his allegations about fraudulent voting in a news conference on the evening of Nov. 8, 2018. This was the first moment at which this idea that the vote count was suspicious was introduced (beyond rumblings for a few hours prior). But notice that it was Scott who was making these allegations, not DeSantis.

There’s a good reason for this: DeSantis’s race had already been called! The Associated Press declared DeSantis the winner of the gubernatorial race nearly two days before.

Vote counting did continue to reduce DeSantis’s lead, but there were not enough outstanding votes to potentially alter the outcome. So the call was made, and there was no question whether he would have “the votes necessary to win,” as Trump put it.

You may also recall that a potentially related incident occurred at the same time: Trump’s first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, resigned his position. Was this a function of resistance to pressure to influence the outcome in Florida?

Probably not. Sessions’s resignation was announced on the afternoon of Nov. 7, 2018, before there was any public question about the vote counting in Florida. What’s more, there had been months of animosity between Sessions and Trump over the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. There was plenty of reason to think that Trump wanted Sessions gone unrelated to any purported FBI pressure.

Nov. 10

 

 Graphic by New York Post

new york post logoNew York Post, Opinion: Here's how Donald Trump sabotaged the Republican midterms, John Podhoretz, Nov. 10, 2022 (print ed.). "What Tuesday night’s midterm election results suggest is that former President Donald Trump is perhaps the most profound vote repellant in modern American history."

Hey, Lyin’ Ted and Sleepy Joe: Meet Toxic Trump. You know, if the former president had any self-knowledge or even the slightest ability to be self-deprecating, he might consider giving himself this alliterative nickname.

After three straight national tallies in which either he or his party or both were hammered by the national electorate, it’s time for even his stans to accept the truth: Toxic Trump is the political equivalent of a can of Raid.

What Tuesday night’s results suggest is that Trump is perhaps the most profound vote repellent in modern American history.

The surest way to lose in these midterms was to be a politician endorsed by Trump.

This is not hyperbole.

Except for deep-red states where a Republican corpse would have beaten a Democrat, voters choosing in actually competitive races — who everyone expected would behave like midterm voters usually do and lean toward the out party — took one look at Trump’s handpicked acolytes and gagged.

Liberal fundraisers actually put money behind Trump-endorsed candidates in GOP primaries all over the place to help them prevail so that Democrats could face them in the general election. It was transparently cynical and an abuse of our political process. But it worked like gangbusters.

As Kevin Robillard of the Huffington Post noted on Wednesday afternoon when a Michigan Democrat named Hilary Scholten was finally declared the winner of her House seat against a raving lunatic named John Gibbs: “With this race call, every single Republican who won their primary with help from Democratic meddling has lost in the general election.”

Gibbs is an example of Trump’s monomania. A former official for Trump’s Department of Housing and Urban Development, Gibbs tweeted that officials associated with Hillary Clinton participated in Satanic rituals. But no matter! Gibbs believed the 2020 election was “stolen” from Trump, the only stance that matters to the former president.

Trump backed Gibbs in the primary to unseat a sitting Republican, Peter Meijer, because Meijer had the temerity to vote in favor of impeachment after the shame of Jan. 6.
Trump got his way. Republicans lost the seat.

This pattern repeated itself over and over and over again.

In almost every place a Trumpster lost, there had been a regular Republican who could and should have been the party’s nominee — a nominee who could have taken advantage of the uniquely horrible facts and fundamentals confronting Democratic candidates in 2022.

But then Toxic Trump came into these races, picking the candidate who bowed lowest — or, as in Pennsylvania, went for a snake-oil doctor salesman because, it seems, his wife enjoyed watching Mehmet Oz carny-bark on afternoon TV.

And the independent voters’ history tells us would ordinarily have flocked to the GOP and said, “Oh, man, what is that stink?”

In the past four midterms, indies by double-digit margins chose the party that did not hold the White House. In 2018, with Trump as president, the independent vote was 12 points in the Democrats’ favor. In 2006, with George W. Bush in the Oval Office, the number was 18 points. When Barack Obama was president in 2010 and 2014, indies went 16 and 12 points in the Republican direction, respectively.

 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, What to Know as the Trump Organization’s Trial Resumes, Lola Fadulu, Nov. 10, 2022. After pausing because of a Covid outbreak, the prosecution of the former president’s company was to start again Thursday. Reacquaint yourself with events so far and what’s to come.

The tax-fraud trial of Donald J. Trump’s family business is scheduled to resume in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Thursday after not having met since Nov. 1 because of an outbreak of Covid-19.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office last year accused two Trump Organization entities — the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corp. — of a scheme that began in 2005 that involved doling out tax-free perks to top executives, including rent-free apartments and leased luxury vehicles.

Defense lawyers argued in their opening statements that the key beneficiary of the scheme — the company’s chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg — acted on his own behalf and that the two corporate entities could not be held criminally responsible. Mr. Weisselberg, who was originally charged in the scheme, pleaded guilty and is expected to testify.

Though the court hasn’t met in 10 days, only three workdays have been missed: There is no court on Wednesdays or Friday afternoons, and courts were closed for Election Day.

 

djt looking up

Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump confesses to Florida election crime just to harm Ron DeSantis, Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 10, 2022. The 2022 midterm elections have bill palmerfinally proven to everyone that Donald Trump is indeed every bit as unpopular and non-influential as we’ve spent the past twenty-two months saying he was. At this point Trump has no realistic 2024 prospects, and is only relevant in the sense that everyone is waiting for him to be indicted for espionage and arrested.

Trump seems to understand that his political relevance is fading by the minute, and so he’s going to great lengths today to try to get himself into bill palmer report logo headerthe headlines. First he made a point of calling himself a “stable genius” again, even though he has to know how poorly it played the last time he used that phrase. Now Trump is doing something far more substantive: he’s confessing to crimes.

Trump announced on his social media network today that in 2018 he ordered the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office to prematurely stop the vote counting in Florida, and that this single handedly allowed Ron DeSantis to declare a narrow victory. Trump is framing his actions as an attempt at stopping the election from being “stolen.” But the actions he’s describing are felony election fraud.

This is the same thing he got caught doing in Georgia during the 2020 election, and that he’s now under criminal investigation for at the federal and state level. The difference is, he was more blatant about it in 2020, and got caught in the act. The 2018 election in Florida did seem highly suspicious at the time, going the complete opposite of the way every other demographically similar state played out in that same election cycle. But there wasn’t any evidence that Trump had the Feds block Florida officials from finishing the vote count.

Trump could simply be making this up. That’s how far gone Trump is. He’s openly confessing to a four year old felony, and we’re left trying to figure out whether he’s making it up. But either way, Trump just put the public’s focus on the suspicious manner in which DeSantis was very narrowly elected to begin with, in a way that scandalizes DeSantis and portrays him as a weak candidate – even as DeSantis is hoping the media will portray him as dominant and inevitable.

At this point Donald Trump does have the benefit of knowing, deep down, that he’s likely on his way to prison no matter what. This means he can confess to a 2018 felony like this, and it doesn’t really change anything for him; he’s already set to be indicted on more serious and easily proven charges. If Trump consciously or subconsciously understands that he’s going down anyway, he doesn’t really have to worry about how much he harms himself in the name of trying to take his designated enemies like DeSantis down with him.

Nov. 9

Rolling Stone, Trump Keeps Musing About Journalists Being Raped in Prison — He’s Not Joking, Ryan Bort and Asawin Suebsaeng, Nov. 9, 2022. A knowledgeable source tells Rolling Stone that the former president has wondered how he might be able to jail reporters if he retakes the White House.

rolling stone logoDonald Trump ended his pre-midterm rally blitz in disgusting fashion, calling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “an animal,” championing the death penalty, and giddily imagining the prison rape of the journalist who reported on the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“The leaking from the Supreme Court is unbelievable,” the former president said Monday night at a rally in Ohio. “But you get the information very easily. You tell the reporter who is it … and if the reporter doesn’t want to tell you it’s ‘bye bye.’ The reporter goes to jail. When the reporter learns he’s going to be married to a certain prisoner who’s extremely strong, tough, and mean, he will say, ‘you know, I think I’m going to give you the information.'”

The rally on Monday wasn’t the first time Trump imagined journalists being raped in prison. He laid out the same fantasy at a rally in Texas last month, saying the reporter would give up the identity of the leaker as soon as they realize they are “going to be the bride of another prisoner very shortly.” The audience burst out in laughter, just as they did Monday night in Ohio.

It isn’t just a laugh line.

This year, as Trump has privately strategized about what a second term, potentially starting in 2025, could look like, he’s begun occasionally soliciting ideas from conservative allies for how the U.S. government and Justice Department could go about turning his desires — for brutally imprisoning significant numbers of reporters — into reality.

“He said other countries do it — the implication being: Well, why not here?” the source recounts.

democratic donkey logoThe other countries here are un-free authoritarian states, the kind for which Trump has long showed admiration. North Korea does not tolerate free expression. China and Russia are well known for jailing journalists. Viktor Orban, the Trump-endorsed autocratic ruler of Hungary, has been targeting reporters, as well. Trump has repeatedly made clear he wants to reshape America into a similarly brutal, fascist state. He praised China on Monday for executing drug dealers and sending the bullet to their families, drawing cheers from the crowd. He touted his “great relationship” with the man responsible, President Xi, at a rally last week. “He’s president for life,” Trump said. “I call him king.”

Trump closed the rally on Monday by noting that he will be making a “very big announcement,” which is widely expected to be a declaration of his 2024 presidential candidacy, at Mar-a-Lago next Tuesday.

Trump hasn’t just recently started wondering about how he might be able to jail journalists should he reclaim the White House in 2024. He was wondering about it almost immediately upon arriving there for the first time, as well. The New York Times reported in 2017 that less than a month after Trump took office, he griped to then-FBI Director James Comey about leaks to the media, and told Comey he should consider imprisoning journalists who publish classified information. It’s unclear how Comey responded. Trump would fire him less than three months later.

Raw Story, 'Furious' Trump is pinning the blame on Melania for his decision to back Dr. Oz: reporter, Brad Reed, Nov. 9, 2022. 'Furious' Trump is pinning the blame on Melania for his decision to back Dr. Oz: reporter.

raw story logo squareStill more reports are coming in about former President Donald Trump's angry reactions to seeing some of his hand-picked candidates face defeat during Tuesday's midterm elections.

The New York Times' Maggie Haberman chimed in on Twitter with her own dispatch that claimed the twice-impeached former president is now even blaming former first lady Melania Trump for some of his own poor endorsements.

"Trump is indeed furious this morning, particularly about Mehmet Oz, and is blaming everyone who advised him to back Oz -- including his wife, describing it as not her best decision, according to people close to him," Haberman writes.

Haberman also reports that the losses of Trump-backed candidates such as Oz and Don Bolduc may impact his decision to announce his third presidential campaign next week.

READ MORE: 'An absolute disaster': Fox News pundit calls GOP midterm performance a 'searing indictment of the Republican Party'

"There are people pushing Trump to reschedule his announcement next week, and several Rs have texted asking whether he will, but it’s risky and would be acknowledging he’s wounded by yesterday, something that some of his advisers insist is not the case," she writes.

Trump started teasing his third presidential campaign earlier this week, and he also issued a warning against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis against pursuing the presidency in 2024.

"I really believe he could hurt himself badly," Trump said of a potential DeSantis White House run. "I think he would be making a mistake, I think the base would not like it — I don’t think it would be good for the party."

Raw Story, ‘Stupid and reckless’: GOP operative declares ‘the end of the Trump era’ after midterm ‘catastrophe,’ Sky Palma, Nov. 9, 2022.  ‘Stupid and reckless’: GOP operative declares ‘the end of the Trump era’ after midterm ‘catastrophe.’

At least 14 Trump-endorsed candidates are projected to lose their midterm bids -- a result that sources tell ABC News has the former president "fuming."

Republicans appeared poised on Wednesday to carve out a slim majority in the US House of Representatives but their hopes of a "red wave" in midterm elections were dashed as President Joe Biden's Democrats defied expectations.

According to ABC News, as the results began to roll in Tuesday night, Donald Trump was watching from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and started to become angry as some of his most high-profile candidates appeared to be headed to defeat in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio.

"This is a sinking ship," one top Trump adviser told ABC News. "We're not going to beat that."

"This was the end of the Trump era and the dawn of the DeSantis era," a Republican operative close to the Trump orbit told ABC News. "Like every other Trump catastrophe, he did this to himself with stupid and reckless decisions."

The losses in Pennsylvania of Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz and gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano were particularly jarring for Trump. Sources tell ABC News he blamed his wife, Melania, for pressuring him to endorse Oz. He also blaming aides for leading him to endorse other failed candidates.

Nov. 8

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Garland's dead reckoning with history, Nov. 7-8, 2022. Wayne Madsen, left, Nov. 7, 2022. Garland on deck to become wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallone of America's worst constitutional Attorneys General -- and its last.

Rather than toss the proverbial book at former President Donald Trump for a host of high crimes, including sedition and insurrection, theft of government property and highly-classified files, witness tampering, and threatening judges and other public officials, Attorney General Merrick Garland is reportedly considering a special counsel post-midterm election to determine whether Trump should be criminally charged.

wayne madesen report logo Trump, of course, is playing Garland for the sucker he believes him to be. In that, Trump may have correctly assessed that the overly-merrick garlandcautious Garland will not indict a 2024 candidate for president. Trump is expected to announce his candidacy in the middle of the month.

Most Americans agree that the Justice Department and the House Select Committee on the January 6, 2021 coup attempt have together amassed enough evidence to convince a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Trump is guilty of multiple flagrant violations of federal laws. In dragging his feet Justice Department log circularon prosecuting Trump, Garland may go down in history as one of the more infamous contemporary gravediggers of America's democracy.

In adopting a mediocre approach to confronting the specter of American fascism head-on, Garland is repeating the mistakes of two of his predecessors who also had the opportunity of severely crushing fascist sedition in America but failed to do so.

ny times logoNew York Times, Oath Keepers Leader Points Finger at Colleagues in Sedition Trial, Alan Feuer, Nov. 8, 2022 (print ed.). Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right militia, testified that he did not order anyone to go into the Capitol on Jan. 6 and that he had nothing to do with an armed force waiting nearby.

At the height of the chaos at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, two dozen members of the Oath Keepers militia met outside the building with their leader, Stewart Rhodes.

When some of them reported that they had just come back from inside the Capitol, Mr. Rhodes was outraged, he testified in court on Monday. Taking the stand at his own sedition trial, he said that those who had gone inside the building that day had done so of their own accord — and that he had never had a plan or had given any orders to go in.

“When I heard that they went in,” he told jury, “I said, ‘That was stupid.’”

Testifying for a second day at the trial in Federal District Court in Washington, Mr. Rhodes sought to wash his hands of much of what the Oath Keepers did on Jan. 6, laying the blame on several of his colleagues.

He told the jury that one of his co-defendants, Kelly Meggs, who went inside the Capitol with others in the group, had gone “off mission.”

Justice Matters,

, Glenn Kirschner, Nov. 7-8, 2022 (10:41 min. video). Five members of the Oath Keepers organization are on trial for attempting to violently stop the certification of Joe Biden's election win.

Today, the lead defendant and head of the Oath Keepers, Elmer Stewart Rhodes took the witness stand and testified in his own defense. But it didn't go so well for Elmer when he had to face cross-examination by the prosecutor, Assistant US Attorney Kate Rakoczy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Republicans sue to disqualify thousands of mail ballots in swing states, Amy Gardner and Emma Brown, Nov. 8, 2022 (print ed.). The lawsuits coincide with a systemic effort by GOP leaders to persuade voters to cast ballots in person, not absentee.

Republican officials and candidates in at least three battleground states are pushing to disqualify thousands of mail ballots after urging their own supporters to vote on Election Day, in what critics are calling a concerted attempt at partisan voter suppression.

In Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court has agreed with the Republican National Committee that election officials should not count ballots on which the voter neglected to put a date on the outer envelope — even in cases when the ballots arrive before Election Day. Thousands of ballots have been set aside as a result, enough to swing a close race.

In Michigan, Kristina Karamo, the Republican nominee for secretary of state, sued the top election official in Detroit last month, seeking to toss absentee ballots not cast in person with an ID, even though that runs contrary to state requirements. When asked in a recent court hearing, Karamo’s lawyer declined to say why the suit targets Detroit, a heavily Democratic, majority-Black city, and not the entire state.

And in Wisconsin, Republicans won a court ruling that will prevent some mail ballots from being counted when the required witness address is not complete.

Over the past two years, Republicans have waged a sustained campaign against alleged voter fraud. Experts say the litigation — which could significantly affect Tuesday’s vote — represents a parallel strategy of suing to disqualify mail ballots based on technicalities. While the rejections may have some basis in state law, experts say they appear to go against a principle, enshrined in federal law, of not disenfranchising voters for minor errors.

The suits coincide with a systematic attempt by Republicans — led by former president Donald Trump — to persuade GOP voters to cast their ballots only on Election Day. Critics argue that the overall purpose is to separate Republicans and Democrats by method of voting and then to use lawsuits to void mail ballots that are disproportionately Democratic.

washington post logoWashington Post, Black voters in Florida express fear, confusion as DeSantis election laws kick in, Lori Rozsa, Nov. 8, 2022 (print ed.). Geraldine Harriel usually helps her elderly parents vote by taking their mail-in ballots to the elections office for them. But new voting laws in Florida and Gov. Ron DeSantis’s elections police force had her questioning that this year.

So on a recent Sunday, she drove them to an early-voting site — gingerly guiding her 80-year-old mother who walks with a cane to the entryway and then pushing her 84-year-old father in a wheelchair along the same path.

“Nobody wants to take the chance of being picked up,” Harriel, 65, said, referring to the voting police unit, which made its first arrests in August.
Florida residents shocked by DeSantis voter fraud arrests

Tuesday will mark the first major election in Florida since the legislature pushed through changes impacting voting in the Sunshine State. Voter advocates say the laws disproportionately impact Black voters — making it harder for many to vote — and have created an environment of confusion and fear.

Voters can deliver ballots for immediate family members — but there are new forms to fill out and some like Harriel worry that even a small mistake could result in a fine or an arrest. It is now illegal to turn in more than two ballots that don’t belong to a close relative. There are new restrictions for organizations that help register voters. And shortly after its inception, DeSantis’s Office of Election Crimes and Security announced deputies had made 20 arrests — 15 of them involving Black voters accused of voting illegally.

The arrested voters were charged with casting ballots even though they did not qualify to vote. A state constitutional amendment gives most people formerly convicted of a felony the right to vote. Several of those arrested say they thought they qualified. They applied to register, got voting cards and were never told they had acted improperly until officers showed up to question them on a summer afternoon.

“These laws were put in place to intimidate people, and that’s what’s happening,” LaVon Bracy, the director of democracy for Faith in Florida, a religious nonprofit that encourages civic participation. “People are just wondering, is it worth it?”

Nov. 7

washington post logoWashington Post, What we’ve learned from the Jan. 6 Oath Keepers trial so far, Spencer Hsu, Rachel Weiner and Tom Jackman, Nov. 7, 2022 (print ed.). Prosecutors have rested their case after more than a month of testimony in the seditious conspiracy trial of Stewart Rhodes.

The seditious conspiracy trial of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four associates charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol reached a turning point as U.S. prosecutors finished presenting their case Thursday in federal court.

For more than a month, prosecutors have presented nearly 30 witnesses, played hours of video and reviewed scores of messages as they try to convince a jury in Washington that the group on trial sought to stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power and “shatter a bedrock of American democracy.” Rhodes himself took the witness stand Friday, but only briefly, as the defense portion of the case began.

Rhodes is the highest-profile defendant charged so far in the Jan. 6 investigation and is accused of steering a months-long effort to keep President Donald Trump in office by force. He is among 14 defendants hit with the historically rare charge of seditious conspiracy in one of the largest investigations in U.S. history, and the trial has been watched closely for what it might reveal about the quest to subvert the 2020 presidential election results by anyone in Trump’s inner circle.

Rhodes is on trial with Thomas Caldwell, Kenneth Harrelson, Kelly Meggs and Jessica Watkins. All are accused of conspiring to engage in sedition, obstruct Congress’s affirmation of President Biden’s victory and impede lawmakers from performing their official duties on Jan. 6. Meggs, Harrelson and Watkins, who went into the Capitol, are also accused of damaging property, and all but Watkins are charged with destroying evidence.

Here are some highlights of testimony and evidence the government has presented:

  • What ties did Stewart Rhodes have to Donald Trump?
  • What did Rhodes do outside the Capitol on Jan. 6?
  • What was revealed by Oath Keepers cooperating with the government?
  • What about the other Oath Keepers on trial?
  • What have other witnesses said?

 truth social logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump once reconsidered sticking with Truth Social. Now he’s stuck, Nov. 7, 2022. The former president has told his allies that he can’t leave his Twitter clone because he’s propping it up, and he doesn’t want a site so closely associated with his brand to collapse.

The co-founders of former president Donald Trump’s post-presidential start-up, Trump Media & Technology Group, had a name for June 11, 2021: “meltdown day.”

Andy Litinsky and Wes Moss, former contestants on Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” had a week earlier traveled with an 11-person entourage to Trump’s palatial golf club in Bedminster, N.J., to show off what they’d worked for months to build: a web of conservative-aimed business ventures, including the Twitter clone Truth Social, that heavily promoted and depended on Trump’s name and brand.

Trump, however, was already considering other ideas. On June 11, Trump met at Bedminster with another suitor: his former aide Jason Miller, who was launching a rival conservative social network, Gettr, and had offered Trump at least $5 million a year and a stake in the company to join.

A Trump defection would have triggered a disastrous meltdown of everything Litinsky and Moss had created. Trump Media lawyers scrambled to mount a counterattack, according to people familiar with the episode, which has not been previously reported.

Would Trump really “do a side deal?” the Trump Media co-founders wrote in a daily log that company whistleblower Will Wilkerson shared with government investigators and The Washington Post.

Trump ultimately stuck with Truth Social, helping the site attract a modest following. But the billionaire industrialist Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter could put Trump’s commitment to a new test, and some in his orbit wonder whether he’ll be able to stay loyal to a small site that is struggling to gain an audience and faces looming financial threats.

Trump has told his allies that he can’t leave Truth Social, because he’s propping it up, and he doesn’t want a site so closely associated with his brand to collapse, according to people familiar with his thinking who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters. A spokesman for Trump did not respond to a detailed request for comment for this story.

Musk has called Twitter’s ban of Trump, after the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, a mistake and pledged to reinstate Trump’s account, although when that might occur remains unclear. Trump, however, has said he would not return even if he were invited back, saying he wanted to focus his efforts on Truth Social.

“If I choose to run, I will only use Truth” to post his thoughts, Trump told Fox News on the day after Musk’s takeover of Twitter became official. “When I put out a Truth, it is all over the place.” The platform feels “like home,” he said, and he likes “the way it works.” In a Truth Social post, he added, “I LOVE TRUTH!”

But Trump’s 4 million followers on the platform are a small fraction of the 88 million he once had on Twitter, and his dozens of posts — called “truths” — there in recent weeks have received none of the broad engagement and traction he counted on during his presidency.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump speeches use dozens of lies, exaggerations to draw contrast with Biden, Isaac Arnsdorf, Nov. 8, 2022 (print ed.). The former president’s rally script centers on juxtaposing conditions two years ago with now, relying on misrepresentations of both.

Even in a midterm marked by misinformation, conspiracy theories and false or misleading attacks, nobody does it like Donald Trump.

The former president, in a burst of campaigning for Republican candidates while he readies his own third bid for the White House, is honing a stump speech based around juxtaposing current conditions with those during his presidency — a contrast he heightens by misrepresenting and exaggerating on both ends. His speech Thursday at a rally in Sioux City, Iowa, contained at least 58 false or misleading statements, and he added at least another 24 distinct falsehoods at a Saturday speech in Latrobe, Pa., according to a Washington Post analysis.

Many of the inaccuracies were repeat offenses for Trump and consistent with his exhaustively documented record of dispensing with the truth. But lately his speeches have also become a clearinghouse for the vast array of rumors, memes and myths that spread in right-wing media and fill up many other Republicans’ campaign speeches and ads.

Nov. 5

 

 

Saudi King Salman presents President Donald Trump with the collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud in Riyadh in 2017. The collar is among the items investigators have asked the National Archives to locate (Associated Press photo by Evan Vucci AP).

Saudi King Salman presents President Donald Trump with the collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud in Riyadh in 2017. The collar is among the items investigators have asked the National Archives to locate (Associated Press photo by Evan Vucci AP).

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigators searching for pricey gifts that Trump received from foreign leaders, Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey, Nov. 5, 2022. Golf clubs, diamond earrings and a soccer ball from Putin are among the gifts that House Oversight has asked the National Archives to find.

Congressional investigators are looking for dozens of pricey mementos gifted to former president Donald Trump and his family members by foreign governments, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The House Oversight Committee has asked for help in locating the items from the National Archives, which is among the agencies charged with keeping presidential gifts, two of the people said.

The eclectic list ranges from golf clubs given to Trump by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to a 2018 World Cup soccer ball gifted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, a gold-plated collar of Horus, the falcon-headed ancient Egyptian god, given by Egypt’s president, a large painting of Trump from the president of El Salvador, and a $6,400 collar of King Abdulaziz al Saud, a ceremonial honor from Saudi Arabia, according to a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The dozens of gifts are worth in sum an estimated $50,000 or more, according to people familiar with the request. The committee has asked the archives to check whether the gifts are among the items transferred there from the White House at the end of Trump’s presidency as required by law, according to those familiar with the request. The committee is also seeking records from Trump’s team about its record keeping, a Trump adviser said.

It’s not clear why the Oversight Committee made the request for these specific items; a spokesperson for the committee declined to comment except to say the investigation is ongoing. The Archives also declined to comment, and it’s unclear where the agency is in the process of trying to find these items and which gifts, if any, on the list were properly accounted for.

A Trump spokesman did not respond to a request for comment, nor did officials who handled gifts in the Trump administration.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Weighs Special Counsel for Trump Inquiries if He Runs, Glenn Thrush, Updated Nov. 4, 2022. The department is hoping to make decisions on whether to charge the former president in the documents and Jan. 6 inquiries before the 2024 campaign heats up.

The Justice Department hopes to reach a decision on whether to bring charges against former President Donald J. Trump before the 2024 campaign heats up, and is considering appointing a special counsel to oversee investigations of him if he runs again, according to people familiar with the situation.

Justice Department log circularThe department is investigating Mr. Trump’s role in the efforts to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and his retention of sensitive government documents at his residence and resort in Florida. It has made no decision in either case, but the inquiry into the former president’s handling of the documents is more straightforward, with prosecutors having publicly cited potential crimes that could be charged.

Senior department officials and veteran prosecutors with the department’s national security division, in conjunction with the U.S. attorney’s office in South Florida, have spent recent weeks quietly navigating the thicket of thorny issues needed to file charges in the documents investigation, weighing evidence, analyzing legal precedents and mulling practical considerations such as the venue of a possible trial.

The investigation, while proceeding quickly by Justice Department standards, has been slowed by Mr. Trump’s efforts in court to restrict the government’s access to the files removed from his home, and by the department’s self-imposed 30-day pause in issuing subpoenas ahead of this year’s midterm elections.

 

 

tom barrack cbswashington post logoWashington Post, Trump ally Thomas Barrack acquitted of violating foreign agents law, Shayna Jacobs, Nov. 5, 2022 (print ed.). Thomas Barrack, a longtime friend of Donald Trump who chaired his inauguration committee, was acquitted Friday of violating federal law by acting as a foreign agent without authorization while trying to help the United Arab Emirates influence the U.S. government.

Barrack, the billionaire founder of Colony Capital who has had a decades-long relationship with Trump, was accused of promoting talking points from UAE officials to members of the Trump administration. He also allegedly pushed propaganda for the UAE in appearances on major TV news networks and in publish pieces.

Prosecutors said Barrack was motivated to keep the UAE happy because its sovereign wealth fund invested $374 million with Colony Capital from 2017 to 2018 and there was a possibility of more to come.

A jury at U.S. District Court in Brooklyn on Friday reached a verdict in the trial, which opened in late September.

 

vicky ward investigatesVicky Ward Investigates, Analysis: Here’s Why Trump Crony Tom Barrack Was Acquitted of Spying for the UAE, Vicky Ward, Nov. 4-5, 2022. Dispatches from the Tom Barrack Trial.

After seven weeks at trial, longtime Trump ally Tom Barrack was acquitted today of all charges against him regarding the allegation he acted as an unregistered foreign lobbyist for the United Arab Emirates.

Why?

There are three main reasons I believe that the jury acquitted Barrack and his young associate Matthew Grimes.

The first is that the law at hand—Section 951, which emanates out of the Cold War period—is poorly written and basically unenforceable.

[more analysis here]

So, in the end, what happened here was that Barrack (even despite his wealth) came across as “normal”—not as immoral or pompous or even so wedded to Trump that he couldn’t criticize him.

In fact, the statement Barrack made afterwards is extraordinary for its call for political unity.

Here’s what he said:

God Bless America, the system works. These 12 people, normal people with such complex, unbelievable facts in front of them, somehow fought through all of the quagmires to find Lady Justice with a torch burning, and a brilliant and committed Judge who protects them. Let's stop fighting with each other, let's stop the politicization. Whoever the President is, honor him or her and put all this garbage behind us. Tolerance and understanding is the magic elixir we need at the moment. That is what America is—the greatest country in the world that has given me, my family, and my heritage so much to be grateful for.

Now, will Trump pay attention to his words?

Almost certainly not.

 

stewart rhodesPolitico, Oath Keepers leader takes the stand in seditious conspiracy trial, Kyle Cheney, Nov. 4, 2022. Rhodes, above, tries to soften image of his group while prosecutors expose violent plans for Jan. 6.

Stewart Rhodes, founder of the far-right Oath keepers, took the stand Friday in his seditious conspiracy trial and sought to reframe the jury’s perception of his group as a benevolent, apolitical, patriotic force of military veterans.

In one of the most consequential turns on the witness stand for a criminal defendant in modern history, Rhodes began laying out his most aggressive defense against charges that he attempted to subvert the 2020 election by force in order to keep Donald Trump in power.

But his task is a daunting one. Prosecutors have already presented a massive seditious conspiracy case against Rhodes and four Oath Keeper allies, describing the group as mounting an “armed rebellion” against the incoming Biden administration. Assistant U.S. attorneys spent more than a month piecing together hundreds of text messages — often explicit — describing Rhodes and his allies’ extensive planning to descend on D.C. and resist the transfer of power.

politico CustomThe group amassed an arsenal of firearms at an Arlington, Va., Comfort Inn, performed security details for speakers at a pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” rally before dozens of Oath Keepers marched to the Capitol and ultimately inside the building, while a violent mob clashed with police. Rhodes didn’t enter the Capitol, but worked the perimeter outside, eventually congregating with his allies — including codefendants Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson and Jessica Watkins. Thomas Caldwell, an Oath Keeper from Virginia who helped coordinate the group’s weapons cache, is also on trial alongside the other leaders.

The case against the group is the most significant yet to emerge from the Justice Department’s massive nationwide investigation of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, which has resulted in charges against about 900 people ranging from simple trespassing to seditious conspiracy. Other than the Oath Keepers, only the leaders of the pro-Trump Proud Boys face seditious conspiracy changes, and they’re set to face trial next month.

Rhodes spent his first day of testimony largely describing his own background — he emphasized that he’s a quarter Mexican, grew up poor and and spent a year-long stint working for Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who he said he was drawn to because of his antiwar and libertarian stances.

Nov. 4

 

Washington Post, Widow of Fox journalist killed in Ukraine seeks answers: Why was security team not with her husband?

Efrain Galicia, center, poses for a photo with his attorney, Benjamin Dictor, far right, and supporters, on Wednesday in New York (Associated Press photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump settles lawsuit after security guards’ scuffle with protesters, Adela Suliman, Nov. 4, 2022 (print ed.). Former president Donald Trump settled a lawsuit Wednesday, just days ahead of the trial of a lawsuit filed by protesters who alleged they were manhandled by his security personnel outside Trump Tower in New York in 2015.

The details of the settlement have not been made public, but jury selection for a civil trial presided over by Bronx Judge Doris Gonzalez had been underway, according to court documents.

The suit was brought by five New Yorkers of Mexican descent, led by Efrain Galicia, who alleged that Trump’s bodyguards engaged in a scuffle with them as they demonstrated outside the building on Sept. 3, 2015, over anti-Mexican comments Trump made during his presidential campaign.

The case sought punitive damages after alleging that Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller and others punched one of the men in the head while trying to grab a sign that read, “Make America Racist Again!” Schiller has previously said that he was simply trying to make space on the sidewalk and that he struck the protester only after the man grabbed him from behind.

“Plaintiffs are proud to have settled their claims and to have obtained written recognition by Donald Trump of their right to protest on the public sidewalk,” their attorney, Benjamin Dictor, told The Washington Post in a statement Thursday.

“Powerful men may put their names on buildings, but the sidewalk will always belong to the people,” Dictor added.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump ally Thomas Barrack acquitted of violating foreign agents law, Shayna Jacobs, Nov. 4, 2022. Barrack, the billionaire founder of Colony Capital who has had a decades-long relationship with former president Donald Trump, was accused of promoting talking points from UAE officials to members of the Trump administration.

Thomas Barrack, a longtime friend of former president Donald Trump and chairman of his inauguration committee, was acquitted Friday of violating federal law by acting as a foreign agent without authorization while trying to help the United Arab Emirates influence the U.S. government.

Barrack, the billionaire founder of Colony Capital who has had a decades-long relationship with Trump, was accused of promoting talking points from UAE officials to members of the Trump administration. He also allegedly pushed propaganda for the UAE in appearances on major TV news networks and in published pieces.

After the verdict, Barrack descended a ballroom-style staircase into the lobby of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn to loud applause and cheers from his family and other supporters. Outside the courthouse, Barrack praised the jury and the justice system.

He said that “against all odds” the jury sorted through a complex case to clear him and his co-defendant, Matthew Grimes, on all counts.

“God bless America,” Barrack said. “The system works.”

Barrack and at least two dozen supporters left the courthouse in downtown Brooklyn to begin a celebration nearby. “I’m going to go have a drink,” he said with a wide grin after a reporter asked where he was headed.

Barrack’s acquittal is a high-profile loss for the Justice Department after several successful prosecutions of defendants on charges of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn and Rick Gates, all former Trump advisers, faced similar charges and were convicted.

At the trial, prosecutors said Barrack was motivated to keep the UAE happy because its sovereign wealth fund invested $374 million with Colony Capital from 2017 to 2018 and there was a possibility of more to come.

In his testimony, Barrack suggested his ties to Trump made him a target for federal investigators. He described admiring Trump but feeling disappointed that he did not adopt a more moderate approach in office.

Barrack’s attorney, Randall Jackson, said the government’s case misconstrued Barrack’s relationship with the UAE. He emphasized a lack of proof of an agreement between Barrack and officials from the UAE to work on their behalf. Prosecutors suggested an agreement was implied.

“You heard not one word during this entire trial about passing on sensitive intelligence,” Jackson said in his summation this week. “It never happened. Never materialized.”

Jackson told jurors the absence of a witness who could discuss the alleged arrangement between Barrack and the UAE “should be stunning” and that “not a single witness came into this courtroom … who had any personal knowledge of any relevant facts to the case.”

Nov. 3

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Files a Suit Against N.Y.’s Attorney General, and Against Advice, Jonah E. Bromwich, Maggie Haberman, Ben Protess and William K. Rashbaum, Nov. 3, 2022. The case, filed in Florida, seeks to stop Letitia James’s lawsuit in New York and includes Mr. Trump’s signature rhetoric. His legal advisers are split on the wisdom of filing it.

A tirade of a lawsuit that Donald J. Trump filed on Wednesday against one of his chief antagonists, the New York attorney general, was hotly opposed by several of his longstanding legal advisers, who attempted an intervention hours before it was submitted to a court.

Those opposed to the suit told the Florida attorneys who drafted it that it was frivolous and would fail, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The loudest objection came from the general counsel of Mr. Trump’s real estate business, who warned that the Floridians might be committing malpractice.

Nonetheless, the suit was filed. It accuses Attorney General Letitia James of trespassing on Mr. Trump’s right to privacy in Florida, where he lives, and seeks to halt her own civil case in New York against the former president and his company.

On Wednesday evening, Mr. Trump used his social network, Truth Social, to announce his suit and to criticize Ms. James in charged language, saying that “while James does nothing to protect New York against these violent crimes and criminals, she attacks great and upstanding businesses.”

In September, Ms. James filed her lawsuit against Mr. Trump after a three-year investigation into his business practices. Her suit accused Mr. Trump and his family business, the Trump Organization, of committing “staggering” fraud, overvaluing its assets by billions of dollars. It sought to bar Mr. Trump and three of his children from ever running a business in the state again and to essentially shut down some of his New York properties.

On Thursday, a judge granted a recent request from Ms. James to stop Mr. Trump from transferring assets and to appoint a monitor to make sure that he does not.

The former president has already tried unsuccessfully to stop Ms. James’s investigation, filing a complaint in federal court in New York that was dismissed in May. The new 41-page lawsuit against Ms. James was filed in Palm Beach by Timothy W. Weber, Jeremy D. Bailie and R. Quincy Bird, members of a St. Petersburg-based law firm — and was championed by Boris Epshteyn, an in-house counsel for the former president who has become one of his most trusted advisers.

Background:

  • An empire under scrutiny. Letitia James, New York State’s attorney general, has been conducting a yearslong civil investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s business practices, culminating in a lawsuit that accused Mr. Trump of “staggering” fraud. Here’s what to know:
  • The origins of the inquiry. The investigation started after Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer, testified to Congress in 2019 that Mr. Trump and his employees had manipulated his net worth to suit his interests.
  • The findings. Ms. James detailed in a filing what she said was a pattern by the Trump Organization to inflate the value of the company’s properties in documents filed with lenders, insurers and the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Mr. Trump’s lawsuit. In December 2021, Mr. Trump sued Ms. James, seeking to halt the inquiry on the grounds that the attorney general’s involvement in the investigation was politically motivated. In May, a federal judge dismissed the suit.
  • Invoking the Fifth Amendment. In August, Mr. Trump faced questions by the attorney general under oath. He declined to answer anything and invoked his right against self-incrimination, leaving Ms. James with a crucial decision: whether to sue the former president or seek a settlement.

 

Nov. 2

ny times logoNew York Times, Inquiry Scrutinizes Trump Allies’ False Claims About Election Worker, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Nov. 2, 2022 (print ed.). Prosecutors are seeking testimony from three people who took part in the pressure campaign against the worker, Ruby Freeman, after the 2020 election.

One is a 69-year-old Lutheran pastor from Illinois. Another is a celebrity stylist who once described herself as a publicist for Kanye West. A third is a former mixed martial-arts fighter and self-described “polo addict” who once led a group called “Black Voices for Trump.”

All three individuals now find themselves entangled in the criminal investigation into election interference in Georgia after former President Donald J. Trump’s loss there, with prosecutors saying they participated in a bizarre plot to pressure a Fulton County, Ga., election worker to falsely admit that she committed fraud on Election Day in 2020.

The three — Trevian Kutti, the publicist; Stephen C. Lee, the pastor; and Willie Lewis Floyd III, the polo fan — have all been ordered to appear before a special grand jury in Atlanta, with a hearing for Mr. Lee scheduled for Tuesday morning at a courthouse near his home in Kendall County, Ill.

None have been named as targets of the investigation or charged with a crime. Yet the decision to seek their testimony suggests that prosecutors in Fulton County are increasingly interested in the story of how the part-time, rank-and-file election worker, Ruby Freeman, 63, was confronted by allies of Mr. Trump at her home in the Atlanta suburbs in the weeks after he was defeated by President Biden.

Ms. Freeman and her daughter were part of a team processing votes for the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections on election night. Soon after, video images of Ms. Freeman and her daughter handling ballots were posted online and shared widely among some Trump supporters, who claimed falsely that the video showed the two women entering bogus votes to skew the election in Mr. Biden’s favor.

Mr. Trump helped spread the fiction. During his now-famous telephone call to the Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, on Jan. 2, 2021, when Mr. Trump implored Mr. Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, to “find” the votes Mr. Trump needed to win the state, Mr. Trump referred several times to Ms. Freeman, calling her a “vote scammer” and “hustler.”

Ms. Kutti, 52, is a Trump supporter based in Chicago who was once registered as an Illinois lobbyist supporting the cannabis industry; she had also previously worked as a publicist for R. Kelly, the disgraced R&B singer. Prosecutors sought her testimony in a May court filing; it is unclear if she has appeared before the special grand jury, which meets behind closed doors.

But Ms. Kutti unquestionably met with Ms. Freeman on Jan. 4, 2021, after showing up in her neighborhood, cryptically claiming to work for “some of the biggest names in the industry.”

After persuading Ms. Freeman to meet her at a police station in Cobb County, outside Atlanta — the police had been summoned when Ms. Kutti came to her home, and an officer recommended that they talk at the station — Ms. Kutti warned her that an event would soon occur that would “disrupt your freedom,” according to police body-camera video of the meeting. Ms. Kutti also offered help, telling Ms. Freeman that she was going to call a man who had “authoritative powers to get you protection.”

Palmer Report, Analysis: DOJ gives immunity to “big fish” witness Kash Patel – and he’s testifying against Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, right, Nov. 2-3, 2022.  The DOJ has bill palmerreportedly spent months working to back various people involved in Donald Trump’s classified documents scandal into a corner, in order to get them to testify against Trump to a grand jury. The tricky part is that many of them have potential legal culpability of their own in this scandal. So they don’t want to testify against themselves while testifying against Trump, and are therefore more inclined to plead the fifth.

bill palmer report logo headerOne such witness is Kash Patel, who recently asserted that he can’t be compelled to testify against Trump because doing so would violate his own Fifth Amendment rights. After the courts agreed, the DOJ has now decided to grant Patel limited immunity, and he will indeed testify against Trump in the coming days, per the Wall Street Journal. So what does this mean?

First of all, it means Patel can’t invoke the Fifth Amendment in his testimony. This kind of limited immunity is specifically designed to allow Patel to tell the grand jury about what he and Donald Trump did together without incriminating himself, because prosecutors will not be allowed to turn around and use Patel’s testimony against Patel.

kash patel o croppedThat said, it doesn’t mean Patel, right, will necessarily go free. Limited immunity means the DOJ can still prosecute Patel for his role in the classified documents scandal; it just can’t use Patel’s testimony against Patel. However, if prosecutors end up deciding that Patel’s testimony was sufficiently useful in taking Trump down, they could decide not to indict him.

To be clear, there are no magic wands available for Patel in any of this. Even if he considers himself innocent, he clearly fears being prosecuted and convicted for his alleged role in this scandal, or he wouldn’t have previously refused to testify without immunity. And now that he’s been given limited immunity, if he backs out at the last minute and refuses to testify, the DOJ can nail him for obstruction. For that matter, if Patel were to lie during his testimony in the hope of protecting Trump, the DOJ could then nail Patel for perjury. In other words, Patel may or may not go to prison if he cooperates against Trump, but he’s now nearly a lock for prison if he fails to cooperate against Trump.

In any case, the WSJ is reporting that Patel is testifying against Trump. So unless Patel very stupidly changes his mind at the last second, it means the DOJ has landed the kind of “big fish” inside witness that it’s been seeking against Trump all along. Testimony from someone like Patel can establish Trump’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In criminal cases against crime bosses, testimony from top underlings is typically what leads to a conviction at trial.

 

Washington Post, Widow of Fox journalist killed in Ukraine seeks answers: Why was security team not with her husband?

Efrain Galicia, center, poses for a photo with his attorney, Benjamin Dictor, far right, and supporters, on Wednesday in New York (Associated Press photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump settles lawsuit after security guards’ scuffle with protesters, Adela Suliman, Nov. 3, 2022. Former president Donald Trump settled a lawsuit Wednesday, just days ahead of the trial of a lawsuit filed by protesters who alleged they were manhandled by his security personnel outside Trump Tower in New York in 2015.

The details of the settlement have not been made public, but jury selection for a civil trial presided over by Bronx Judge Doris Gonzalez had been underway, according to court documents.

The suit was brought by five New Yorkers of Mexican descent, led by Efrain Galicia, who alleged that Trump’s bodyguards engaged in a scuffle with them as they demonstrated outside the building on Sept. 3, 2015, over anti-Mexican comments Trump made during his presidential campaign.

The case sought punitive damages after alleging that Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller and others punched one of the men in the head while trying to grab a sign that read, “Make America Racist Again!” Schiller has previously said that he was simply trying to make space on the sidewalk and that he struck the protester only after the man grabbed him from behind.

“Plaintiffs are proud to have settled their claims and to have obtained written recognition by Donald Trump of their right to protest on the public sidewalk,” their attorney, Benjamin Dictor, told The Washington Post in a statement Thursday.

“Powerful men may put their names on buildings, but the sidewalk will always belong to the people,” Dictor added.

 

vicky ward investigatesVicky Ward Investigates, All Roads Lead to Putin: The Dramatic Close of the Trial of Trump Crony Tom Barrack, Vicky Ward, Nov. 2-3, 2022 (updated). Justice Department log circularThis afternoon, the trial of Trump crony Tom Barrack drew to a dramatic close.

You could hear a pin drop as prosecutor Sam Nitze—who, as I’ve written about before, has a flair for the dramatic—effectively scaled back his tone and his strident demeanor to tell the jury sotto voce that essentially it doesn’t matter how much they admire 75-year-old tycoon Barrack or agree with his opinions on the Middle East or how much sympathy they feel for 29-year-old Matthew Grimes for making the mistake of choosing the wrong mentor in Barrack.

The law is the law, Nitze said—and Barrack and Grimes went “way, way over a line” by working as unregistered foreign agents for the UAE, according to the evidence, which is composed, at least partially, of dozens of damning text messages and emails.

Nitze also said repeatedly that Barrack lied in the courtroom, leaving me to wonder if that ultimately could leave the defendant open for additional perjury charges.

What I now fear is not what we’ve seen in the Barrack trial but what we haven’t seen. How many other countries were actually effectively seducing Trump via his cronies? It certainly seems like it could have been more than just the UAE.

I understand prosecutors must be laser-focused to achieve results, so I understand why they haven’t gone down all these other rabbit holes. But the very fact they even exist is chilling. I wouldn’t have thought to say this before the weekend, but if you want some unputdownable bedtime reading right now, I highly recommend the Mueller Report. It’s a lot scarier now than it was when it first came out.

Nov. 2

stewart rhodes

washington post logoWashington Post, Oath Keeper Rhodes had violent message for Trump after Jan. 6, witness says, Rachel Weiner, Nov. 2, 2022. Four days after the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, above, tried to tell President Trump it was not too late to use paramilitary groups to stay in power by force, according to testimony Wednesday in federal court.

If he did not, protesters “should have brought rifles” to Washington, and “we could have fixed it right then and there,” Rhodes said during a Jan. 10 recorded meeting, boasting that he would have killed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Rhodes made the violent comments at a meeting in Texas with Jason Alpers, who described himself on the witness stand as a military veteran and co-founder of Allied Security Operations Group (ASOG). That organization played a key role in spreading false claims about the 2020 election through misleading and inaccurate reports about voting machine software.

On the stand, Alpers said he had an “indirect” line to Trump’s “inner circle,” without elaborating.

That apparent relationship is why Rhodes wanted to meet, Alpers testified. He said he recorded the meeting to accurately “provide information to President Trump.” What he got, he said, disturbed him enough to eventually go to the FBI.

Alpers took the stand in the sixth week of trial for Rhodes and four others accused of taking part in a seditious conspiracy against the U.S. government and planning to block the lawful transition of presidential power by force.

Kellye SoRelle, who is charged separately from Rhodes and has been described in court as both his girlfriend and an attorney for the Oath Keepers, was also at the meeting, Alpers testified.

“Here is the thing, we’re gonna fight,” Rhodes is recorded saying. “We’re not gonna let them come get our brothers. We’re going to fight, the fight’s going to be ours.”

And if he had known on Jan. 6 that Trump would never invoke the Insurrection Act, Rhodes said, he would have gone further that day — including assassinating a Democratic leader.

“If he’s not going to do the right thing, and he’s just gonna let himself be removed illegally, then we should have brought rifles,” Rhodes says on the recording. “We could have fixed it right then and there. I’d hang f------- Pelosi from the lamppost.”

Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, is currently hospitalized after being attacked by a man who officials say was looking to kill her.

Rhodes in the recording, also called the riot “a good thing in the end,” because it “showed the people that we have a spirit of resistance.”

But he said if Trump left office, “everyone that was at the Capitol” would be in danger of being charged with “felony murder … because someone died.” SoRelle is heard agreeing: “I know it’s gonna happen.”

What to know about the Oath Keepers sedition trial: Stewart Rhodes, founder and leader of Oath Keepers, is charged with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 riot. He is accused of guiding a months-long effort to unleash politically motivated violence to prevent the swearing-in of President Biden. Rhodes is the most high-profile person charged in the investigation so far. Five members of the extremist group Oath Keepers, including leader Stewart Rhodes, face trial. Prosecutors will try to convince jurors that Rhodes and his group intentionally conspired to use force to prevent President Biden’s swearing-in. The trial is an important step in the wider probe, analysts say.

 

 

Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo). Trump-supporting former law school dean John Eastman, left, helps Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani inflame pro-Trump protesters in front the White House before the insurrection riot at the U.S. Capitol to prevent the presidential election certification of Joe Biden's presidency on Jan. 6, 2021 (Los Angeles Times photo). 

Politico, Trump lawyers saw Justice Thomas as 'only chance' to stop 2020 election certification, Kyle Cheney, Josh Gerstein and Nicholas Wu, Nov. 2, 2022. Thomas is the justice assigned to handle emergency matters arising out of Georgia and would have received any urgent appeal of Trump’s lawsuit to the Supreme Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Pool photo by Erin Schaff via Getty Images).Court.

Donald Trump’s attorneys saw a direct appeal to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as their best hope of derailing Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election, according to emails newly disclosed to congressional investigators.

“We want to frame things so that Thomas could be the one to issue some sort of stay or other circuit justice opinion saying Georgia is in legitimate doubt,” Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro wrote in a Dec. 31, 2020, email to Trump’s legal team. Chesebro contended that Thomas would be “our politico Customonly chance to get a favorable judicial opinion by Jan. 6, which might hold up the Georgia count in Congress.”

“I think I agree with this,” attorney John Eastman replied later that morning, suggesting that a favorable move by Thomas or other justices would “kick the Georgia legislature into gear” to help overturn the election results.

The messages were part of a batch of eight emails — obtained by POLITICO — that Eastman had sought to withhold from the Jan. 6 select committee but that a judge ordered turned over anyway, describing them as evidence of likely crimes committed by Eastman and Trump. They were transmitted to the select committee by Eastman’s attorneys last week, but they have not been publicly released.

Nov. 1

washington post logoWashington Post, Second Oath Keepers cooperator says he saw Jan. 6 as ‘Bastille-type’ moment, Spencer S. Hsu, Nov. 1, 2022 (print ed.). Graydon P. Young testifies in Rhodes seditious conspiracy trial that he thought Capitol breach at time could start a revolution: “I was acting like a traitor, someone acting against my own government.”

A star government witness in the seditious conspiracy trial of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes testified that he believed the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol could start a new American revolution potentially led by the extremist group.

“I felt like it was a ‘Bastille-type’ moment in history, like in the French Revolution,” Florida Oath Keepers member Graydon Young testified.

“I guess I was acting like a traitor, someone acting against my own government,” he said in the trial of Rhodes and four others in federal court in Washington.

The testimony on Monday of Young, 57, of the Tampa area, is critical to the prosecution. He is one of three expected witnesses who have pleaded guilty to at least one of three overlapping conspiracies in which Rhodes and others are charged. Oath Keepers co-defendants are accused of being in military-style gear in a “stack” formation outside the Capitol and with staging firearms just outside Washington.

washington post logoWashington Post, Roberts temporarily delays release of Trump tax records, Robert Barnes, Nov. 1, 2022. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. temporarily halted the release of former president Donald Trump’s tax records to a congressional committee, and called for more briefing in the case.

Without the Supreme Court’s intervention, the records could have been handed over to the House Ways and Means Committee as early as Thursday.

Last week, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit declined to review earlier rulings finding that lawmakers are entitled to the documents in the long-running legal battle. The court also said it would not put the release of the papers on hold.

Roberts, the justice designated to hear emergency orders from that court, put the release on hold and called for a response from the committee by noon on Thursday.

 

October

Oct. 31

 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Opening statements begin in Trump Organization’s criminal trial, Shayna Jacobs, Oct. 31, 2022. The criminal tax fraud trial against the Trump Organization is set for opening statements Monday, with prosecutors looking to prove allegations that the company for years provided untaxed compensation for executives.

The criminal tax fraud trial against the Trump Organization is set for opening statements Monday, with prosecutors looking to prove allegations that the company for years provided untaxed compensation for executives.

The trial is the result of a three-year probe of the Trump Organization’s business practices by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and former district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. Bragg has said he is still evaluating whether former president Donald Trump committed crimes when allegedly manipulating the value of his assets to get favorable loan and interest rates, or devaluing his assets to reduce his tax liability.

Trump and three of his adult children who have served as executives at the company have not been charged personally.

The Trump Organization and Trump Payroll Corp. proceedings in New York Supreme Court could last up to six weeks and are expected to involve witnesses who still work at the company, including longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, who is on paid leave, and comptroller Jeffrey McConney. Both are alleged to have orchestrated a scheme to pad the compensation packages for company executives with perks that weren’t taxed during 15 years from 2005 to 2021.

Trump Organization’s criminal trial on fraud charges to start Monday

Weisselberg was the only individual indicted with the companies. He pleaded guilty in August and agreed to testify at the organization’s trial. In exchange for his testimony, he will receive a five-month jail sentence. He had been facing up to 15 years in prison.

McConney was a grand jury witness and has been given immunity from prosecution under New York state law.

In recent days, prosecutors warned prospective jurors that some witnesses may be hesitant to testify. Assistant District Attorney Susan Hoffinger told jurors during voir dire Thursday that some witnesses in the case are still employed by the Trump Organization and its subsidiary, and they “may be reluctant at times to answer some questions.”

“It’s understandable … They are testifying against their employers,” Hoffinger said.

The selected panel of 18 jurors includes six alternates.

The tax fraud and conspiracy case was filed in July 2021 and alleges that Weisselberg and McConney, who ran the company’s finances, kept two sets of books to reflect actual compensation, with unreported executive perks such as cars and pricey apartments, and compensation figures that were reported to state and federal tax authorities. The company is based at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.

Weisselberg personally saved over $900,000 in taxes through the false reporting, according to prosecutors. He is expected to testify about his own conduct and his plea agreement limits the scope of what he’s required to discuss.

The Trump Organization and the Trump Payroll Corp. could owe a combined maximum fine of $1.6 million, if convicted.

Politico, Despite Eastman appeal, Jan. 6 committee accesses 8 disputed emails, A federal judge had ruled they were evidence of a likely crime, Kyle Cheney, Oct. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Congressional investigators have obtained eight disputed emails that attorney John Eastman — a key architect of Donald Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election — had asked a federal appeals court to shield from lawmakers.

politico CustomEastman revealed in a Sunday court filing that he delivered a link to the Jan. 6 select committee providing access to the eight emails last week — an effort to comply with a federal district court judge’s order — but asked the committee to refrain from reviewing the records while he mounted an appeal.

Instead, the select committee rejected his request, questioning whether a formal appeal had been lodged, and downloaded the documents, Eastman indicated. He is now asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to demand that the select committee return or destroy the documents — and prevent the panel from making use of them until the appeals court takes action.

“While a stay barring the production is no longer available, an order directing the return or destruction of the documents and barring further use of them pending the appeal remains a viable remedy,” Eastman’s attorney Anthony Caso wrote.

But such an order by a court against Congress would be an extraordinary step by one coequal branch against another, and would be virtually impossible to enforce. A similar effort by Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich — who asked a judge to claw back financial records from the select committee after JP Morgan provided them in December — was met with extreme skepticism from a district court judge in Washington, D.C.

Oct. 29

 

djt hands open amazon safe

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Commentary: The Trump administration: the worst counterintelligence disaster in U.S. history, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left, author of 22 books and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Oct. 28-29, 2022. In an era marked by unprecedented events, it is not hyperbole to state that the Donald Trump administration and the twice-impeached disgraced ex-president's post-presidency represent the worst counterintelligence disaster in U.S. history.

wayne madesen report logoAn examination by WMR of court records, including criminal cases dealing with violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and Trump's misappropriation of highly-classified documents at his private properties, points to over a dozen foreign intelligence services, most of them hostile to U.S. national interests, having gained access to America's most guarded secrets.

  • Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary QAnon: Russia-style, Wayne Madsen, left, author and former Navy intelligence officer, Oct. 26-27, 2022. Russia's dangerous religious rhetoric is setting the stage for modern-day pogroms in Ukraine.

washington post logoWashington Post, Top national-security prosecutor joins Trump Mar-a-Lago investigation, Devlin Barrett, Perry Stein and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 29, 2022 (print ed.). David Raskin joins the case as outside national-security experts say prosecutors have amassed evidence that meets some key criteria for charging the former president.

One of the Justice Department’s most experienced national security prosecutors has joined the team overseeing the intensifying investigation of classified documents at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and private club, people familiar with the matter said.

National security law experts interviewed by The Washington Post say prosecutors appear to have amassed evidence in the case that would meet some of the criteria for bringing charges against the former president — an unprecedented action that they said likely would only happen if the Justice Department believes it has an extremely strong case.

David Raskin,who served for many years as a senior federal prosecutor in New York City, and more recently has worked as a prosecutor in Kansas City, Mo., has been quietly assisting in the investigation into Trump and his aides, according to the people familiar with the matter, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation.

Raskin is considered one of the most accomplished terrorism prosecutors of his generation, having worked on the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, who was tried in Virginia as a co-conspirator in the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. Raskin was also part of the team that prosecuted Ahmed Ghailani in federal court in Manhattan in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa. Ghailani was acquitted of most counts but found guilty of conspiracy to destroy government buildings and property. He is the only Guantánamo Bay detainee to be brought to a U.S. court and tried and convicted. Both Moussaoui and Ghailani received life sentences.

Justice Department officials initially contacted Raskin to consult on the criminal investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol. But his role has shifted over time to focus more on the investigation involving the former president’s possession and potential mishandling of classified documents, the people familiar with the matter said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Key Proud Boys Jan. 6 co-conspirator pleads guilty, Tarrio lawyer says, Spencer S. Hsu and Rachel Weiner, Oct. 29, 2022 (print ed.). A cooperator plea by John Charles Stewart related to the Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy case is disclosed as the U.S. turns up pressure on Proud Boys ahead of December trial.

An accused key co-conspirator who longtime former Proud Boys chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio allegedly said proposed storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, has pleaded guilty in a deal with U.S. prosecutors, Tarrio’s lawyers revealed Friday.

Details of the plea emerged in a pretrial hearing as the government ratchets up pressure against Tarrio and four other defendants who face trial in December on a charge of seditious conspiracy.

During the hearing in federal court in Washington, Tarrio defense attorney Sabino Jauregui said that John Charles Stewart, 44, of Carlisle, Pa., pleaded guilty in June. Prosecutors interjected, and U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly immediately halted the public session to go behind closed doors, which after resuming made no further mention of Stewart.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House rejects promoting general involved in Capitol riot response, Dan Lamothe, Oct. 29, 2022. The Pentagon backed Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, the director of the Army staff, to become a four-star general. But the Biden administration nixed his promotion.

Oct. 28

ny times logoNew York Times, Appeals Court Upholds House’s Effort to See Trump’s Tax Returns, Charlie Savage, Oct. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The former president is likely to appeal to the Supreme Court after the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit declined to rehear the matter.

A full federal appeals court denied on Thursday former President Donald J. Trump’s attempt to block Congress from gaining access to his tax returns, leaving in place a three-judge panel’s ruling that a federal law gives a House committee chairman broad authority to request them despite Mr. Trump’s status as a former president.

But the terse unsigned order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejecting Mr. Trump’s request to rehear the case does not necessarily mean that Congress will obtain the records, which it has sought as it investigates his finances under its oversight powers. Mr. Trump’s legal team has vowed to fight the congressional effort “tooth and nail,” and is very likely to appeal to the Supreme Court.

If the justices do not resolve the matter before the end of the year, and if Republicans retake control of the House — as polls indicate is likely — the House under G.O.P. control is virtually certain to drop the request. Mr. Trump has generally pursued a strategy of using the slow pace of litigation to run out the clock on various oversight and investigative efforts.

The House Ways and Means Committee, which requested the tax returns, had asked the appeals court to expedite treatment of the matter, but it did not. Nevertheless, in a statement, Representative Richard E. Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat who is the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, praised the decision.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump does not have a magic wand when it comes to this, Bill Palmer, right, Oct. 28, 2022. It’s entirely possible that Musk will bill palmergo ahead and reinstate Donald Trump (among other right wing criminals) on Twitter in the coming hours or days, with no one there to stop him.

bill palmer report logo headerHere’s the thing: it won’t matter.

For one thing, Donald Trump was on Twitter throughout the entire 2020 election cycle, tweeting up a storm, and he still lost that election by seven million votes. So no, Trump getting back on Twitter will not somehow magically make him a more viable political candidate going forward. Even if Trump were still in the “legitimately a political candidate” stage of his life, being back on Twitter wouldn’t help him.

For that matter, Trump has now moved on to the criminal defendant stage of his life. As we’ve seen in some other high profile DOJ criminal cases, Trump’s tweets will be used against him, both in the indictment and at trial. So if Trump does get back on Twitter, and he begins posting tweets that donald trump twitterare aimed at obstructing justice or count as a confession to crimes, those tweets will only increase the odds that the DOJ gets a conviction once Trump is on trial.

Trump will not help himself in any way by being back on Twitter, and if he gets carried away, he’ll harm himself and cement his own downfall. And while Trump does love trying to incite violence, he can’t just tweet a magic combination of words that causes his supporters to magically take over the government. Nothing works that way. Trump couldn’t even pull that off back when he was still President. For all the fear and loathing over January 6th, everyone forgets that Trump’s attempt at violently keeping himself in office was a complete failure. And now his supporters are more afraid to get violent, because Trump no longer controls federal law enforcement.

twitter bird CustomNor will Trump being back on Twitter somehow magically help the Republicans in the midterms. Trump’s rallies haven’t helped Republican candidates one bit in the general election thus far. His tweets won’t either. Trump has had some fun meddling in Republican primaries over the years, but he never has had the ability to boost Republican candidates in general elections.

So no, there’s no reason to sit around and fret about the possibility of Donald Trump getting back on Twitter. Now more than ever, Trump is a powerless broken man who’s merely playing defense as the Feds close in on him. His future consists of indictments and prison bars. If he wants to humiliate himself with some more stupid tweets along the way, so be it.

Oct. 27

 

elon musk sideviewPolitico, Musk owns Twitter — and Washington awaits Trump's return, Rebecca Kern, Oct. 27, 2022. Elon Musk, shown above, will own Twitter, after the two sides finally closed a $44 billion deal Thursday to sell the company to the world’s richest man.

twitter bird Custompolitico CustomMusk’s takeover — reported by multiple news outlets on Thursday night — could have huge implications for the future of Washington’s favorite social media app, especially if former President Donald Trump is allowed back on the platform, and if Musk loosens the rules to prevent the spread of hate speech and misinformation.

With just 12 days until the midterm elections, a resurrected Trump Twitter account could have electoral implications, donald trump twittergiving the former president a megaphone to again challenge election results, blast his opponents and spread falsehoods.

What exactly Musk does next is an open question, to say nothing of Trump.

In an effort seemingly aimed at easing concerns from nervous advertisers, Musk, a self-professed “free-speech absolutist,” promised on Thursday that the platform would not descend into “a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences.”

Oct. 26

 

djt bob woodward

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Trump Tapes: 20 interviews that show why he is an unparalleled danger, Bob Woodward, above right, Oct. 24-26, 2022 (multimedia). In more than 50 years of reporting, I have never disclosed the raw interviews or full transcripts of my work.

But after listening again to the 20 interviews I conducted with President Donald Trump during his last year as chief executive, I have decided to take the unusual step of releasing them. I was struck by how Trump pounded in my ears in a way the printed page cannot capture.

In their totality, these interviews offer an unvarnished portrait of Trump. You hear Trump in his own words, in his own voice, during one of the most consequential years in American history: amid Trump’s first impeachment, the coronavirus pandemic and large racial justice protests.

This essay was adapted from “The Trump Tapes: Bob Woodward's Twenty Interviews with President Donald Trump,” by Bob Woodward. It will be published Oct. 25 by Simon & Schuster Audio. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster Audio. All rights reserved.

Much has been written about that period, including by me. But “The Trump Tapes,” my forthcoming audiobook of our interviews, is central to understanding Trump as he is poised to seek the presidency again. We spoke in person in the Oval Office and at Mar-a-Lago, as well as on the phone at varying hours of the day. You cannot separate Trump from his voice.

In the summer of 2020, for example, when the pandemic had killed 140,000 people in the United States, Trump told me: “The virus came along. That’s not my fault. That’s China’s fault.” I asked him:

Woodward: Was there a moment in all of this, last two months, where you said to yourself, “Ah, this is the leadership test of a lifetime”?

Trump: No.

On the printed page his “no” reads flat, a simple declaration. Now listen to the audio of that exchange. This “no” is confident, dismissive, full of self-assurance. It leaves no doubt about the finality of his judgment. This “no” distances him from bearing responsibility.

Sound has an extraordinary emotional power, an immediacy and authenticity. A listener is brought into the room. It is a completely different experience from reading Trump’s words or listening to snatches of his interviews on television or the internet.

Trump’s voice magnifies his presence.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump chief of staff Meadows ordered to testify before Ga. grand jury, Amy B Wang and Tom Hamburger, Oct. 26, 2022. Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows must testify before a Georgia grand jury investigating Republican efforts to reverse the 2020 presidential election results in the state, a South Carolina judge ruled Wednesday.

Mark MeadowsFulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) has said that her inquiry is examining “the multistate, coordinated efforts to influence the results of the November 2020 election in Georgia and elsewhere.” Because Meadows, right, does not live in Georgia, she could not subpoena him to testify but filed a petition in August for him to do so.

South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Edward Miller ruled Wednesday that Meadows must comply with a subpoena as his testimony is “material and necessary to the investigation and that the state of Georgia is assuring not to cause undue hardship to him.”

The ruling was confirmed Wednesday by Jeff DiSantis, a spokesman for Willis. DiSantis said Meadows would not be called until after the midterm elections.

ny times logoNew York Times, Acquisition Company Tied to Trump Media Says Early Talks Were Not ‘Substantive,’ Matthew Goldstein, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). Lawyers for Digital World recently told regulators that the SPAC had not violated any rules by talking to Trump Media before going public.

ny times logoNew York Times, Prosecutors Pressure Trump Aides to Testify in Documents Case, Alan Feuer and Luke Broadwater, Oct. 26, 2022 (print ed.). The move is part of an effort by prosecutors to punch through the claims of privilege the former president is using to hamper the investigation of his push to overturn the election.

The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to force the two top lawyers in Donald J. Trump’s White House to provide additional grand jury testimony as prosecutors seek to break through the former president’s attempts to shield his efforts to overturn the 2020 election from investigation, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Prosecutors filed a motion to compel testimony from the two lawyers, Pat A. Cipollone and Patrick F. Philbin, last week. They told Beryl A. Howell, a judge in Federal District Court in Washington who oversees grand jury matters, that their need for the evidence the men could provide should overcome Mr. Trump’s claims that the information is protected by attorney-client and executive privilege, the people said.

The filing was the latest skirmish in a behind-the-scenes legal struggle between the government and Mr. Trump’s lawyers to determine how much testimony witnesses close to the former president can provide to the grand jury, which is examining Mr. Trump’s role in numerous schemes to reverse his election defeat, culminating in the mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Mr. Cipollone, Mr. Trump’s former White House counsel, and Mr. Philbin, who served as his deputy, initially appeared before the grand jury last month after receiving subpoenas, but declined to answer some of the questions prosecutors had about advice they gave to Mr. Trump or interactions they had with him in the chaotic post-election period, one of the people familiar with the matter said.

The government’s filing, which was reported earlier by CNN, asked Judge Howell to force the men to return to the grand jury and respond to at least some of the questions they had declined to answer.

If compelled to testify fully, Mr. Cipollone and Mr. Philbin could provide the grand jury with firsthand accounts of the advice they gave Mr. Trump about his efforts to derail the results of the election with a variety of schemes, including one to create fake slates of pro-Trump electors in states won by Joseph R. Biden Jr. They could also tell the grand jury about Mr. Trump’s activities and mind-set on Jan. 6 and the tumultuous weeks leading up to it.

Judge Howell has already ruled in favor of the government in a similar privilege dispute concerning testimony from two top aides to former Vice President Mike Pence, Marc Short and Greg Jacob, according to several people familiar with the matter. Both Mr. Short and Mr. Jacob returned to the grand jury this month and answered questions that Mr. Trump’s lawyers had sought to block as being privileged during their original appearances.

Oct. 24

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Business, Already Shrinking, Faces a Tough Test in Court, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum and Jonah E. Bromwich, Oct. 24, 2022 (print ed.). The Trump Organization’s trial on tax fraud and other charges begins Monday in Manhattan, raising questions about the future of the business.

At the dawn of Donald J. Trump’s presidency, his family business appeared poised for a windfall: It unveiled new hotel lines, held ribbon-cuttings around the world and attracted major tournaments to its golf clubs, enough for Eric Trump, who ran the company while his father was in the White House, to remark, “The stars have all aligned.”

Five years later, those stars have faded. The former president’s company, grappling with legal and political scrutiny, has halted its expansion to concentrate on its existing properties. It even sold the Trump hotel in Washington, once the center of the MAGA universe.

This week will drive home that stark reversal of fortune as the company faces a highly public reckoning: a criminal trial in Manhattan, where the district attorney’s office will accuse it of tax fraud and other crimes.

Although Mr. Trump himself was not indicted, he is synonymous with the company he ran for decades, a business that bears his name and served as a launching pad for his presidency.

The trial in State Supreme Court will present an embarrassing scene for the former president, pushing to the forefront one of several criminal investigations swirling around him.

allen weisselberg croppedThis case centers on special perks doled out by the former president’s business, the Trump Organization, which comprises a universe of more than 500 corporate entities. Last year, the district attorney’s office accused two of those entities — The Trump Corporation and Trump Payroll Corp. — of awarding off-the-books benefits like rent-free apartments and leased luxury vehicles to a few top executives who failed to pay taxes on the perks.

As jury selection begins on Monday, the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, appears to have the upper hand. The Trump Organization’s 75-year-old chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, recently pleaded guilty to conspiring with the two corporations to carry out the scheme — and agreed to testify at their trial, tipping the case in favor of Mr. Bragg, a Democrat.

Justice Matters, Commentary: The Trump Organization "show trial" kicks off today. But Donald Trump will not be held accountable, Glenn Kirschner, Oct 24, 2022 (7:18 mins.).

What can only be described as a show trial kicks off in state court in New York today.

In a true perversion of justice, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg chose not to criminally charge Donald Trump, even though he charged his chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg and the Trump organization with a 15-year-long criminal scheme to defraud in the first degree.

These crimes undoubtedly were committed at the direction of and for the ultimate benefit of Donald Trump, and Bragg's career prosecutors concluded that there was ample evidence to indict and convict Trump. Yet Bragg killed the investigation into Trump, optioning only to indict Weisselberg and the Trump Organization.

Oct. 23

 

 

djt nancy pelosiPolitico, Pelosi: Trump isn't ‘man enough’ to testify after Jan. 6 subpoena, Olivia Olander, Oct. 23, 2022. The House Speaker, shown above with Trump in file photos, also slams the idea that voters don't trust Democrats with the economy.

politico CustomHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi goaded former President Donald Trump on the airwaves Sunday, saying she doesn’t think he’ll testify for the committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.

“I don’t think he’s man enough to show up,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) told MSNBC’s “The Sunday Show” host Jonathan Capehart in a wide-ranging interview.

She also suggested Trump’s lawyers might not want him to show up, since he would be testifying under oath and possible penalty of perjury.

The committee formally issued a subpoena to Trump on Friday, asking him to testify after a months-long investigation and series of hearings. However, the move is largely symbolic, as the committee is unlikely to compel Trump to testify before it dissolves at the end of this year.

Should Trump refuse to testify, the public should judge him for that decision, Pelosi said.

“No one is above the law. If we believe that, then they should make a judgment about how he responds to that request,” she said.

Footage of Jan. 6, 2021, released this month showed Pelosi during the attack on the Capitol saying — twice — that she’d punch the former president if he came to the building.

“I want to punch him out. And I’m going to go to jail, and I’m going to be happy,” Pelosi said at the time, one of many instances in which she’s expressed her disdain for Trump.

The Jan. 6 select committee has maintained that Trump played a “central role” in instigating the attack on the Capitol and attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

In interviews Sunday — with a midterm election looming just over two weeks away — Pelosi also addressed the economy, which recent polls have shown is a top issue for voters.

Republicans “don’t have a solution to inflation,” she said. The speaker also said she doesn’t agree with the idea that voters don’t trust Democrats with the economy.

Americans should understand the difference between inflation as a global issue and the cost of living, Pelosi said, maintaining that Biden has made strides on reducing prescription drug prices and lowering unemployment.

As Americans continue to deal with high prices, Republicans have taken back ground in recent midterm polling after Democrats saw a bump over the summer. The president’s party typically loses congressional seats in midterm elections.

Earlier, on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Pelosi said she “absolutely” doesn’t regret congressional pandemic relief spending that may have contributed to inflation.

“That was necessary for people to survive. ... When you reduce unemployment, it’s inflationary. That is a fact,” Pelosi said.

Oct. 22

World Crisis Radio, Biden pledges to enact Roe into law on first day of new Congress! Webster G. Tarpley (historian, author, right), Oct. 22, 2022 (132.50 webster tarpley 2007mins.). McCarthy shares his nightmare agenda with Punch Bowl News — Woe to the vanquished: Speaker wannabe plans early betrayal of Ukraine, citing exorbitant costs to justify treachery; National ban on abortion looms, with no exceptions likely; debt ceiling and threat of default to be used to extort genocidal austerity cuts vs Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, and other vital programs; revenge against Trump foes to be paramount; Freak show in committees starting with power-mad thespian Marjorie Taylor Green;

Trump subpoenaed by House January 6 committee to testify on damning list of possible charges, starting mid-November; Bannon gets four months in the hoosegow for contempt of Congress; Appeals court orders Lindsey Graham to appear before Atlanta grand jury in Trump vote extortion attempt; CA Judge David Carter tells Eastman to deliver his emails with Trump to House committee since attorney-client privilege is voided by crime-fraud exception; Trump insisted on fake numbers despite warnings from attorneys, removing ”advice of counsel” defense; Trump aide Kashyap Patel appears before MaL documents grand jury; Special Master phase moves toward close; Trump takes Fifth in E. Jean Carroll defamation case;

Truss forced out as British Premier by City and Bank of England after attempted orgy of ”pro-growth” tax cuts for the rich and corporations paid for by borrowing; Her supply side agenda thought to resemble McCarthy’s doomed plans for hoped-for GOP House; Top-down Tory leadership contest underway;
Meloni takes over in Italy after 86-year old Berlusconi signals his support for Putin against Ukraine; Salvini denied police ministry;

Election personnel across US hit by death threats and harassment from MAGAt fascist hooligans; Time for priggish Merrick Garland to protect poll workers by indicting anti-election bigwigs!

”Federalist” columnist opines that western civilization is dead, so conservatives should style themselves radicals and counter-revolutionaries –against 1776 and 1865?

Biden sees inflection point of world history, approximating Schiller’s celebrated punctum saliens.

Mobilize without stint from now through November 8 to prevent MAGAt dictatorship!

ny times logoNew York Times, Democratic Secretary of State Candidates Struggle Against Election Deniers, Nick Corasaniti, Oct. 22, 2022 (print ed.). Democrats are outspending Republicans 57-to-1 on television ads for their secretary of state candidates. It still may not be enough.

in 2022, after secretaries of state helped thwart Donald J. Trump’s attempt to overturn his defeat, races for the post have taken on new urgency. Facing off against Republican candidates who spread lies about the 2020 election, Democrats have poured tens of millions into the contests, casting them as battles for the future of American democracy.

If only they could get voters to see it that way. Instead, voters remain focused on rising inflation, economic woes, education and other issues that are outside the purview of the official duties of a secretary of state. And while a vast majority of Americans view democracy as under threat, a striking few see it as a top issue, according to a recent New York Times/Siena College poll.

 

lindsey graham npr washington post logoWashington Post, Graham asks Supreme Court to block his Georgia 2020 election testimony, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, Oct. 22, 2022 (print ed.). South Carolina Republican was summoned for grand jury questioning on attempts to overturn results in that state.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) asked the Supreme Court on Friday to block his required appearance before a Georgia grand jury investigating possible attempts by President Donald Trump and his allies to disrupt the state’s 2020 presidential election.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Thursday turned down Graham’s attempt to block a subpoena from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D), in which the lawmaker claimed a sitting senator is shielded from testifying in such investigations.

A district court judge had said Graham must appear, but narrowed the range of questions that prosecutors can ask.

Without a stay of the lower courts’ rulings, Graham’s lawyer, Donald F. McGahn, told the Supreme Court, “Sen. Graham will suffer the precise injury he is appealing to prevent: being questioned in state court about his legislative activity and official acts.”

McGahn, a former counsel to Trump, asked Justice Clarence Thomas, the justice designated to hear emergency requests from the 11th Circuit, for at least a temporary stay. He said Graham could be required to testify “in less than a month.”

Thomas could act on the request on his own or refer the matter to the entire court.

Mar-a-Lago classified papers had sensitive secrets about Iran, China

The Atlanta grand jury investigating alleged 2020 presidential election interference has already heard testimony from several Trump lawyers, including Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and Boris Epshteyn. Willis also wants to question former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Graham would be asked to testify about calls he made to Georgia election officials soon after Trump lost the election to Joe Biden. Prosecutors say Graham has “unique knowledge” about the Trump campaign and the “multistate, coordinated efforts to influence the results” of the election in Georgia and elsewhere.

washington post logoWashington Post, Steve Bannon sentenced to 4 months in prison for contempt of Congress in Jan. 6 probe, Spencer S. Hsu and Rachel Weiner, Oct. 22, 2022 (print ed.). The Trump strategist displayed ‘defiance and contempt’ rather than cooperate, prosecutors said, after the House committee asked about Bannon’s advance knowledge of events.

Stephen K. Bannon, a right-wing podcaster and longtime adviser to former president Donald Trump, was sentenced Friday to four months in prison and a $6,500 fine for refusing to cooperate with a congressional investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Bannon is set to become the first person incarcerated for defying a congressional subpoena in more than half a century under a statute that is rarely prosecuted. The judge said he would stay imposition of the penalty pending Bannon’s expected appeal.

Bannon’s case probably won’t be the final clash involving the work of the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot and preceding events, as lawmakers Friday issued a subpoena to Trump himself.

“Flouting congressional subpoenas betrays a lack of respect for the legislative branch, which exercises the will of the people of the United States,” U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols said. Bannon “has expressed no remorse” and “has not taken responsibility for his refusal to comply with his subpoena.”

Bannon was convicted at trial in July on two counts of contempt of Congress for refusing to respond to the Jan. 6 committee’s request for testimony and documents. Both misdemeanors are punishable by at least 30 days and up to one year in jail. But Bannon has said he plans to appeal his conviction because Nichols ruled that Bannon could not argue at trial that he relied on his lawyer’s advice or believed his cooperation was barred by Trump’s claim of executive privilege.

Prosecutors asked for six months in jail and the maximum $200,000 fine, saying in a court filing that Bannon showed “a total disregard for government processes and the law” in ignoring the congressional subpoena, while smearing the House investigation and the justice system with “rhetoric that risks inspiring violence.” Bannon asked for probation, saying a mandatory-minimum jail sentence would be unlawful because his intent was not criminal or “willful.”

Bannon declined to speak in court Friday, saying only, “My lawyers have spoken for me, your honor.”

But in a raucous sidewalk appearance outside afterward, the bombastic Bannon claimed he would be vindicated by American voters next month if Republicans, as predicted, take control of the House of Representatives, and he said that Attorney General Merrick Garland would be impeached and “removed from office.”

“Today was my judgment day by the judge,” Bannon said as demonstrators called him a traitor. But, he added, “on November 8, the American people will weigh judgment, and we will prove the Biden administration ends [that] evening.”

Bannon is one of a half-dozen Trump associates to be convicted of federal crimes including fraud, making false statements and foreign influence-peddling, although Trump pardoned most of those who remained loyal before leaving office. More are now in legal jeopardy in investigations of attempts to subvert the 2020 election results as well as the storage of classified information at Trump’s Florida residence. M. Evan Corcoran, who is representing Bannon, has been counseled by colleagues to hire a criminal defense lawyer because he told the Justice Department that Trump had handed over all classified information at Mar-a-Lago before an FBI raid found more.

The committee had wanted to ask Bannon about his role in efforts to pressure Vice President Mike Pence and Republican lawmakers into refusing to affirm the 2020 election results, culminating in the mob assault on the Capitol. Lawmakers in their subpoena noted that Bannon was involved in Trump supporters’ strategy meetings the day before the riot and that he predicted “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump subpoena from Jan. 6 committee sets deadlines for testimony, documents, Jacqueline Alemany, Oct. 22, 2022 (print ed.). It is not clear whether Trump will comply with the subpoena, which could set off a protracted legal debate.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol issued a subpoena Friday for testimony and documents from former president Donald Trump, setting off a potentially prolonged legal battle with little historic precedent.

The committee requested that Trump testify under oath on or about Nov. 14, as well as any documents by Nov. 4 related to the former president’s sweeping efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and block the transfer of presidential power.

While the subpoena was anticipated, it is a remarkable escalation in the investigation into whether the deadly violence on Jan. 6 was the direct result of Trump’s actions in the weeks after he lost his bid for reelection.

“As demonstrated in our hearings, we have assembled overwhelming evidence, including from dozens of your former appointees and staff, that you personally orchestrated and oversaw a multipart effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election and to obstruct the peaceful transition of power,” Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) and vice chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said in a statement, part of a 10-page letter to Trump.

 

djt handwave file

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Could Harness Unresolved Legal Issues to Resist Jan. 6 Panel’s Subpoena, Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer, Oct. 22, 2022. If former President Trump turns down the drama of testifying, his legal team could mount several constitutional and procedural arguments in court.

If former President Donald J. Trump decides to fight the subpoena issued to him on Friday by the House committee investigating his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, his lawyers are likely to muster a battery of constitutional and procedural arguments for why a court should allow him not to testify.

In the most basic sense, any legal arguments seeking to get Mr. Trump off the hook would merely need to be weighty enough to produce two and a half months of litigation. If Republicans pick up enough seats in the midterm elections to take over the House in January, as polls suggest is likely, they are virtually certain to shut down the Jan. 6 committee, a move that would invalidate the subpoena.

The issues raised by the extraordinary subpoena, which the panel announced at a hearing last week, are too complex to be definitively resolved before a potential change of power in the House, said Mark J. Rozell, a George Mason University professor and author of “Executive Privilege: Presidential Power, Secrecy and Accountability.”

“We are in a constitutional gray area here where there is no clear guidance as to exactly what should happen,” Mr. Rozell said. “That gives the former president some leeway to put forward various creative legal arguments and ultimately delay the process until it doesn’t matter anymore.”

Emptywheel, Trump Subpoena: The Revolution Will Not Be Signaled, Emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler, right), Oct. 22, 2022. The January 6 Committee has marcy wheelerreleased the subpoena it sent to the former President.

It requires document production by November 4 and a deposition starting on November 14. Notably, the first deadline is before the election.

It focuses not just on Trump’s attempt to overturn the election, summon mobsters, and raise money off of it. There are several questions focused on obstruction: both document destruction and witness tampering.

The witness tampering one reads:

The subpoena mentions Signal at least 13 times. Which strongly suggests the President was in direct communication with some of the coup plotters via the mobile app.

The subpoena also asks the former President for all communications devices he used between November 3, 2020 and January 20, 2021. In the Stone trial, there were about nine devices identified on which he may have received a call during the 2016 election, and there are several others — such as that of his then bodyguard Keith Schiller — who weren’t discussed in the trial. Tony Ornato also receives a close focus in this subpoena; I wonder if he was receiving calls for the then-President on the Secret Service phone that has since been wiped.

washington post logoWashington Post, In middle of Jan. 6 riot, Oath Keepers chief reached out to Proud Boys, prosecutors say, Rachel Weiner and Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 22, 2022 (print ed.). Prosecutors gave a blow-by-blow of the actions in and around the Capitol of five charged with seditious conspiracy.

Fifteen minutes after rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol building’s west side on Jan. 6, 2021, according to court testimony, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes sent a brief message to an encrypted chat group that included Proud Boys leader Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio.

“Back door of the Capitol,” Rhodes wrote.

He then called Florida Oath Keepers leader Kelly Meggs, who immediately began leading a group toward the doors on the Capitol’s east side.

The third week of the government’s case in the seditious conspiracy trial of Rhodes, Meggs and three other associates culminated in a minute-by-minute account of the Oath Keepers’ actions on Jan. 6 that prosecutors say shows how the group’s leaders plotted “rebellion” beforehand, greenlit violence while at the Capitol and appeared to coordinate their actions with other figures pushing to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Whitney Drew, a former FBI counterterrorism special agent with experience in Army intelligence, testified as prosecutors deployed audio, video and computers animations to give jurors an immersive path through the defendants’ actions that day.

Prosecutors mined material from Kellye SoRelle, described in court as both an Oath Keepers attorney and Rhodes’s girlfriend. SoRelle, who was recently charged with obstructing the vote count, started a four-minute long Facebook livestream at the east side of the Capitol at 2:12 p.m. just as a crowd began moving up the steps. Proud Boys simultaneously broke into the building on the west side, according to court records, and some moved to the east.

“This is what happens when the people are pissed and when they rise up,” SoRelle told followers in a video played for jurors. “That’s how you take your government back. You literally take it back.”

One minute after SoRelle’s video ended, a group of Oath Keepers led by Meggs arrived near where SoRelle was standing, Drew testified. Rhodes was also approaching, after telling an encrypted Oath Keepers leadership chat that it was Trump supporters, not leftist agitators, responsible for the action. He likened the crowd of “pissed off patriots” to “the Sons of Liberty,” American colonists who carried out the Boston Tea Party.

washington post logoWashington Post, Capitol rioter gets 34-month term for assaulting police and journalist, Paul Duggan, Oct. 22, 2022 (print ed.). A former carpenter from Pennsylvania who pleaded guilty to assaulting police officers and a photojournalist during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol was sentenced Friday to 34 months in prison after apologizing in court for his actions and saying he behaved like “an antagonistic jerk” on the day of the siege.

“Regretfully, I let my emotions get the best of me, and I’m very disappointed,” the defendant, Alan W. Byerly, 55, told Judge Randolph D. Moss in U.S. District Court in Washington. “But make no mistake: This was no excuse for me to put my hands on anyone. … I was being an antagonistic jerk, and I still can’t understand why I was like that.”

Byerly, a divorced father and grandfather who had lost his carpentry job during the pandemic, said he was experiencing “depression, frustration and isolation” when he traveled to Washington to attend President Donald Trump’s incendiary rally Jan. 6 on the Ellipse, at which Trump repeated his debunked claim that rampant voter fraud had led to his defeat in the 2020 election.

Carrying an electric stun device “for protection,” Byerly said, he then joined thousands of Trump supporters as the mob stormed the Capitol while Congress was meeting to confirm Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. Later, in the months before his July 2021 arrest, Byerly said, “I felt so bad” about the riot that “I wouldn’t even tell the closest people in my life about January 6th.”

In court filings, the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington said Byerly, who was not accused of entering the Capitol, was present on the building’s Lower West Terrace when rioters accosted an Associated Press photographer and hauled him down a flight of stairs.

“At the bottom of the stairs, [Byerly] and three other individuals grabbed the journalist and pushed, shoved and dragged him,” the office said in a statement. “Byerly grabbed the journalist with both hands and pushed him backward. He then continued to push and drag him away from the stairs.”

Emptywheel, Bill Barr Complains That His Special Counsel Was Unable To Match Robert Mueller’s Record Of Success, (Marcy Wheeler, right), Oct. 22, 2022. Even marcy wheelerbefore the Igor Danchenko trial, Billy Barr declared victory in defeat — arguing that if John Durham could just “fill in a lot of the blanks as to what was really happening,” the inevitable acquittal would still give Durham an opportunity to spin fairy tales about what Durham imagines happened.

“What these cases show is that these are difficult cases to win,” Barr said. “There’s a reason it takes so long, and you have to build up the evidence because at the end of the day, you’re going before these juries that aren’t going to be disposed to side with the people they view as supporting Trump.”

But despite Durham’s limited success in the courtroom, Barr defended the investigation he ordered, saying the courtroom was allowing Durham to establish a record of what had occurred with the so-called Russiagate investigation.

Durham’s entire project is a continuation of Barr’s unprecedented politicization of DOJ, one that not only places Republicans attempting to secretly work for hostile nations above the law, but that has made the country far less safe in many other ways.

It’s not just Durham prosecuted two men without any real hope of winning conviction, all to expose things that aren’t crimes. It’s that Billy Barr hired him to do so.

Oct. 20

Politico, Judge: Trump signed court document that knowingly included false voter fraud stats, Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, Oct. 20, 2022 (print ed.). Former President Donald Trump signed legal documents describing evidence of election fraud that he knew were false, a federal judge indicated Wednesday.

politico CustomU.S. District Court Judge David Carter wrote in an 18-page opinion that emails from attorney John Eastman, an architect of Trump’s last-ditch effort to subvert the 2020 election, needed to be turned over to the Jan. 6 select committee. Those emails, Carter wrote, “show that President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public.”

djt frown newThe emails are among the files that Eastman had been declining to turn over to the committee, citing attorney-client privilege. While Carter concluded that some of the materials fell under that privilege, he ruled that Eastman must disclose four emails to congressional investigators because they are evidence of a likely crime.

“The Court finds that these four documents are sufficiently related to and in furtherance of the obstruction crime,” wrote Carter, who is based in California.

david carterAccording to Carter, left,Trump and his attorneys alleged in a Dec. 4 filing in Georgia state court that Fulton County had improperly counted more than 10,000 votes of dead people, felons and unregistered voters. They then moved that proceeding to federal court and discussed whether to use the same statistics in that filing. In private correspondence, Trump’s lawyers noted that the then-president had resisted signing documents containing “specific numbers.” On Dec. 31, Eastman emailed other Trump lawyers that the numbers filed in state court were not accurate.

“Although the President signed a verification for [the state court filing] back on Dec. 1, he has since been made aware that some of the allegations (and evidence proffered by the experts) has been inaccurate,” Eastman wrote in an email to colleagues. “For him to sign a new verification with that knowledge (and incorporation by reference) would not be accurate.”

However, Trump and his lawyers opted to file the federal complaint using the same numbers that Eastman conceded were inaccurate.

“President Trump, moreover, signed a verification swearing under oath that the incorporated, inaccurate numbers ‘are true and correct’ or ‘believed to be true and correct’ to the best of his knowledge and belief,” added Carter, an appointee of President Bill Clinton. “The emails show that President Trump knew that the specific numbers of voter fraud were wrong but continued to tout those numbers, both in court and to the public. The Court finds that these emails are sufficiently related to and in furtherance of a conspiracy to defraud the United States.”

 

U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that represents in a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday the culmination of a Durham probe began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities in the 2016 era.  U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that represents in a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday the culmination of a Durham probe began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities before the 2016 presidential election.

U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that marks the culmination of a Durham probe that began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities before the 2016 presidential election.

Newsweek, Durham Blasted by Experts After New Acquittal: 'Laughed Out of Court Twice,' Aila Slisco, Week of Oct. 18, 2022. Former Attorney General William Barr appointed Durham to investigate possible misconduct in the FBI's probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. While Trump and his allies claimed that Durham's investigation would uncover evidence of a massive "deep state" conspiracy against the former president, it has failed to do so.

newsweek logoInstead, the investigation has only resulted in three indictments that do not include any allegations of a conspiracy against Trump. In addition, the only two indictments that Durham took to trial resulted in full acquittals. Michael Sussmann, a cybersecurity lawyer with links to the 2016 presidential campaign of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was also acquitted this year of lying to the FBI.

Durham said in a statement that he was "disappointed in the outcome" of the trial on Tuesday but had "respect" for the jury's decision, according to the Associated Press.

Laurence Tribe, professor emeritus of constitutional law at Harvard University, told Newsweek that the acquittal was evidence Durham's "groundless mission has now failed yet again, putting yet another dismal marker on William Barr's shameful record as Trump's henchman and the worst Attorney General in our nation's history."

Analysts and other experts also denounced Durham's investigation and mocked his latest failure on social media.

"John Durham racks up another acquittal, this time on a case he tried personally," legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig tweeted. "His investigation will go down as a shameful abuse of prosecutorial power in service of political vengeance. Juries - our most basic civilian bulwark - have firmly rebuked this abuse of power."

"I remember distinctly being told over and over how the Durham probe was going to indict half the Beltway and send all kinds of evil Trump haters to jail," tweeted national security lawyer Bradley P. Moss. "Durham couldn't convict a ham sandwich."

"Poor John Durham," Moss added in a subsequent tweet. "Leads investigation into CIA's destruction of interrogation tapes. Brings no charges. Leads investigation into CIA enhanced interrogation techniques. Brings no charges. Leads the 'make Trump feel better' investigation. Gets laughed out of court twice."

"The John Durham investigation is a disgrace and a fiasco," attorney and former CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin tweeted. "Two acquittals at trial in a system where the feds win 95% of their cases. Trump and Barr said Durham would prove the Russia investigation unjustified. He's proven the opposite.

"Now it's time to see if John Durham's 'investigation' was legally conducted, if he behaved ethically, and if he and others remaining from Trump's DOJ should be prosecuted," tweeted former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann.

Trump told Fox News this year that the Durham probe would uncover evidence of "the crime of the century," while predicting that the investigation was "just the beginning."

The former president had not weighed in on the acquittal as of Tuesday evening, although he did claim that his administration had "fully" uncovered "'Deep State' corruption" in a Truth Social post earlier in the day.

Newsweek has reached out to Trump's office for comment.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: John Durham’s investigation proved Trump wrong, not right, Editorial Board, Oct. 20, 2020 (print ed.). At what might be the end of his tenure as Justice Department special counsel, John Durham has failed to fulfill former president Donald Trump’s prediction that he would unveil “the crime of the century” in his investigation into the FBI’s 2016 Russia probe. Instead, the lawyer mostly confirmed, as others had already concluded, that there was no crime of the century at all.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The three-year effort to undercut the Russia probe comes up dry, Philip Bump, Oct. 20, 2020 (print ed.). A few months after special counsel Robert S. Mueller III appeared on Capitol Hill to answer lawmakers’ questions about the investigation he led into Russia’s effort to influence the 2016 election, the Justice Department inspector general released a much-anticipated follow-up. It didn’t consider the question of whether Donald Trump or people in his campaign had aided or been linked to Russia, as Mueller had. Instead, the inspector general’s report released in December 2019 considered whether the probe that Mueller inherited from the FBI had itself been legitimate.

For two years, Trump had insisted that it wasn’t. He took to calling the Russia investigation a hoax or a witch hunt well before anyone had any sense of what was being investigated, much less any likely conclusions. He and his allies hoped that the report from Inspector General Michael Horowitz would provide them ammunition — particularly given that the impeachment investigation was just heating up.

But there was already another effort underway to undercut the Russia investigation. In May 2019, Attorney General William P. Barr — confirmed to that position a few months prior — appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham to conduct a broader review of the Russia investigation. Barr was clearly antagonistic to Mueller’s effort, masterfully releasing an aggressively Trump-friendly version of Mueller’s findings before a redacted version of the full report became public. Much of the sense that Mueller’s investigation came up empty depends on Barr’s framing and a pro-Trump audience primed for that frame.

Barr didn’t have similar control over Horowitz’s report, so when it came out, he was reactive. He released a lengthy statement mostly restating the Trumpworld view of the investigation. And then, unexpectedly, Durham also weighed in, producing a statement that had the effect of blowing on the dying embers of Trump’s hope that Mueller and the FBI would be exposed as biased partisans.

“Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.,” it read. “Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.”

The implication? Both shoes had not yet dropped.

This week, the second one did. Durham’s probe — now more than three years in duration, nearly twice as long as the period between Mueller’s appointment as special counsel and the conclusion of his team’s work — had obtained an indictment against Igor Danchenko, a key source of information for the infamous dossier of reports alleging links between Trump’s campaign and Russia. But the prosecutorial effort failed, and a jury on Tuesday found him not guilty on the charges.

It was the second not-guilty verdict in a row for Durham’s team. He had similarly obtained an indictment against a lawyer who worked for a law firm hired by Clinton’s 2016 campaign, but he failed to prove his case to a jury’s satisfaction. The only criminal charge successfully resolved by Durham’s team was the one against that FBI official who had altered the document — a charge stemming from Horowitz’s work, not Durham’s. Contrast that with Mueller, who obtained dozens of indictments and a battery of guilty pleas.

Barr and Durham got into this from the outset with the apparent belief that the FBI had acted rashly and without proper grounds for doing so. They spent months working together on evaluating the case, including flying to Europe to test alternate theories about the probe’s genesis. But, despite that belief and that effort, they weren’t able to make the case they sought. “Russia hoax” proponents like Solomon were left championing as Durham victories things like Clinton using Trump’s ties to Russia to help her campaign.

In other words, Durham spent three years and $4.5 million to advance the ball little further than Horowitz did. As has long been apparent, the “hoax” wasn’t the Russia investigation. The hoax was trying to present the Russia probe as a hoax.

Other Durham coverage includes:

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump deposed at Mar-a-Lago in case brought by sexual assault accuser, Shayna Jacobs, Oct. 20, 2020 (print ed.). Former president Donald Trump was questioned under oath Wednesday in Florida by attorneys for an author who in 2019 went public with an accusation that he raped her in a department-store dressing room in the mid-1990s.

e jean carrollThe author, E. Jean Carroll, right, has a pending defamation lawsuit against Trump.

Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, confirmed that the deposition happened Wednesday as scheduled. The lawyer declined to comment further.

Trump attorney Alina Habba did not immediately respond to an email request for comment. Trump and his attorneys have adamantly denied his having any encounter with Carroll, who has said she was assaulted by Trump in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room.

Judge clears way for Trump to be deposed in defamation case

When Carroll went public with the sexual assault allegation, Trump, then in office, called Carroll a liar and suggested he would not have been interested in her sexually because she wasn’t his “type.”

Oct. 19

ny times logoNew York Times, What to Know as Trump Is Deposed in E. Jean Carroll Defamation Suit, Benjamin Weiser, Oct. 19, 2022. The former president on Wednesday will be asked questions under oath in a defamation case brought by the writer E. Jean Carroll, who says he raped her in a dressing room.

e jean carrollThree years after the writer E. Jean Carroll sued Donald J. Trump for defamation in New York, the former president is scheduled to submit to a sworn deposition on Wednesday. It is expected to take place at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s residence and private club in Florida.

Ms. Carroll, right, in a 2019 book and excerpt in New York magazine, accused Mr. Trump of raping her in the mid-1990s at the department store Bergdorf Goodman. She said that he pushed her against a dressing room wall, pulled down her tights, opened his pants and forced himself upon her.

Mr. Trump said he had never met Ms. Carroll, that she was “totally lying” and that she was not his “type.”

In her suit, Ms. Carroll, a longtime advice columnist for Elle magazine, said Mr. Trump’s statements had harmed her reputation.

Oct. 18

ny times logoNew York Times, In Documents Review, Special Master Tells Trump Team to Back Up Claims, Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer, Oct. 18, 2022. “What’s the expression — ‘Where’s the beef?’ I need some beef,” the arbiter said in a conference call about the claims that some documents were privileged.

raymond dearie gregory mangoThe special master reviewing materials seized by the F.B.I. from former President Donald J. Trump’s compound in Florida expressed skepticism on Tuesday about early claims by Mr. Trump’s lawyers that certain documents were privileged and thus could be withheld from a Justice Department investigation.

In a phone conference, the special master, Judge Raymond J. Dearie of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, complained that the log of an initial batch of documents over which Mr. Trump is seeking to claim privilege lacked sufficient information to determine whether the arguments were valid.

Judge Dearie encouraged Mr. Trump’s lawyers to give him a better sense of why they believed the documents could be lawfully shielded from the Justice Department’s inquiry into whether Mr. Trump unlawfully kept classified records at his estate and obstructed the government’s repeated efforts to retrieve them.

“It’s a little perplexing as I go through the log,” Judge Dearie said. “What’s the expression — ‘Where’s the beef?’ I need some beef.”

The hearing was the latest step in the review process that began last month when Judge Dearie was named special master by one of Mr. Trump’s appointees, Judge Aileen M. Cannon of the Southern District of Florida.

 

capitol riot rather

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The House Jan. 6 Panel Has Tried to Show Criminality, a High Bar, Michael S. Schmidt and Luke Broadwater, Oct. 18, 2022 (print ed.). The committee has yet to decide on making criminal referrals. But its decision to subpoena former President Trump is in keeping with its prosecutorial style.

In the final moments of what will most likely be the last hearing for the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, its vice chairwoman, Representative Liz Cheney, returned to a theme that has run through the committee’s work: criminality.

Without naming names or providing any specifics, Ms. Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, asserted that the committee now has “sufficient information to consider criminal referrals for multiple individuals” to the Justice Department for prosecution.

It is not clear whether the committee will follow through and take the largely symbolic step of issuing a criminal referral for former President Donald J. Trump or anyone who worked with him to overturn the election and encourage the mob of his supporters who entered the Capitol seeking to block or delay certification of his defeat.

But throughout its investigation and hearings, the committee has operated with a prosecutorial style, using the possibility of criminality like a cudgel in extraordinary ways. It has penetrated Mr. Trump’s inner circle, surfaced considerable new evidence and laid out a detailed narrative that could be useful to the Justice Department in deciding whether to bring charges.

The panel is expected to issue a subpoena as soon as Tuesday seeking to compel Mr. Trump to testify before it wraps up its investigation and issues a final report.

The committee’s effects on related criminal investigations are clear to see. Federal prosecutors and authorities conducting a local investigation in Georgia have found themselves interviewing some of the same witnesses already interviewed by the committee and issuing subpoenas for some of the same evidence already obtained by Congress.

But in suggesting that its goal is to spur criminal charges, the committee is setting a standard for success that is beyond its power to carry out — and one that could risk overshadowing the work it has done in documenting Mr. Trump’s efforts to remain in power and marshal his supporters to help him.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Hotels Charged Secret Service Exorbitant Rates, David A. Fahrenthold and Luke Broadwater, Oct. 18, 2022 (print ed.). House Inquiry Finds, Records obtained by the House Oversight Committee show the former president’s properties charged more than $1.4 million to agents protecting him and his family.

The Trump Organization charged the Secret Service up to $1,185 per night for hotel rooms used by agents protecting former President Donald J. Trump and his family, according to documents released on Monday by the House Oversight Committee, forcing a federal agency to pay well above government rates.

The committee released Secret Service records showing more than $1.4 million in payments by the department to Trump properties since Mr. Trump took office in 2017. The committee said that the accounting was incomplete, however, because it did not include payments to Mr. Trump’s foreign properties — where agents accompanied his family repeatedly — and because the records stopped in September 2021.

The records the panel obtained provided new details about an arrangement in which Mr. Trump and his family effectively turned the Secret Service into a captive customer of their business — by visiting their properties hundreds of times, and then charging the government rates far above its usual spending limits.

The records also make clear that Mr. Trump’s son Eric — who ran the family business while his father was in office — provided a misleading account of what his company was charging.

ny times logoNew York Times, Oath Keepers Leader Bought Arsenal of Weapons Ahead of Jan. 6, Alan Feuer and Zach Montague, Oct. 18, 2022 (print ed.). The prosecution in the seditious conspiracy trial of Stewart Rhodes and other members of the militia introduced evidence that he spent as much as $20,000 on rifles, ammunition and other equipment.

In the days before a pro-Trump mob — including members of his own organization — broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia, went on a cross-country weapon-buying spree.

Setting out for Washington from Texas, his home state, Mr. Rhodes stopped at least six times, bank records show, purchasing items like assault-style rifles, ammunition and scopes. Sometimes he dropped into gun shops and sometimes he conducted the transactions in parking lots with private sellers he met online.

By the time he reached his destination, prosecutors said on Monday at the trial of Mr. Rhodes and four of his subordinates on seditious conspiracy charges, the Oath Keepers leader had spent as much as $20,000 on what amounted to a small arsenal that included at least three rifles and an Israeli-made semiautomatic shotgun.

Prosecutors have not yet told the jury precisely what Mr. Rhodes did with the weapons he amassed as he and a lawyer for the Oath Keepers, Kellye SoRelle, made their way from Texas, through Mississippi and Tennessee, to the Hilton Garden Inn in Vienna, Va., where they stayed on Jan. 6.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Recommends Bannon Be Sentenced to 6 Months in Prison, Alan Feuer and Luke Broadwater, Oct. 18, 2022 (print ed.). Stephen Bannon, above, who is set to be sentenced on Friday, deserved a penalty harsher than the minimum term, prosecutors said.

Related Headlines

 

U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that represents in a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday the culmination of a Durham probe began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities in the 2016 era.  U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that represents in a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday the culmination of a Durham probe began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities before the 2016 presidential election.

U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that marks the culmination of a Durham probe that began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities before the 2016 presidential election.

Oct. 17

 

 

capitol riot rather

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The House Jan. 6 Panel Has Tried to Show Criminality, a High Bar, Michael S. Schmidt and Luke Broadwater, Oct. 17, 2022. The committee has yet to decide on making criminal referrals. But its decision to subpoena former President Trump is in keeping with its prosecutorial style.

In the final moments of what will most likely be the last hearing for the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, its vice chairwoman, Representative Liz Cheney, returned to a theme that has run through the committee’s work: criminality.

Without naming names or providing any specifics, Ms. Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, asserted that the committee now has “sufficient information to consider criminal referrals for multiple individuals” to the Justice Department for prosecution.

It is not clear whether the committee will follow through and take the largely symbolic step of issuing a criminal referral for former President Donald J. Trump or anyone who worked with him to overturn the election and encourage the mob of his supporters who entered the Capitol seeking to block or delay certification of his defeat.

But throughout its investigation and hearings, the committee has operated with a prosecutorial style, using the possibility of criminality like a cudgel in extraordinary ways. It has penetrated Mr. Trump’s inner circle, surfaced considerable new evidence and laid out a detailed narrative that could be useful to the Justice Department in deciding whether to bring charges.

The panel is expected to issue a subpoena as soon as Tuesday seeking to compel Mr. Trump to testify before it wraps up its investigation and issues a final report.

The committee’s effects on related criminal investigations are clear to see. Federal prosecutors and authorities conducting a local investigation in Georgia have found themselves interviewing some of the same witnesses already interviewed by the committee and issuing subpoenas for some of the same evidence already obtained by Congress.

But in suggesting that its goal is to spur criminal charges, the committee is setting a standard for success that is beyond its power to carry out — and one that could risk overshadowing the work it has done in documenting Mr. Trump’s efforts to remain in power and marshal his supporters to help him.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Hotels Charged Secret Service Exorbitant Rates, David A. Fahrenthold and Luke Broadwater, Oct. 17, 2022. House Inquiry Finds, Records obtained by the House Oversight Committee show the former president’s properties charged more than $1.4 million to agents protecting him and his family.

The Trump Organization charged the Secret Service up to $1,185 per night for hotel rooms used by agents protecting former President Donald J. Trump and his family, according to documents released on Monday by the House Oversight Committee, forcing a federal agency to pay well above government rates.

The committee released Secret Service records showing more than $1.4 million in payments by the department to Trump properties since Mr. Trump took office in 2017. The committee said that the accounting was incomplete, however, because it did not include payments to Mr. Trump’s foreign properties — where agents accompanied his family repeatedly — and because the records stopped in September 2021.

The records the panel obtained provided new details about an arrangement in which Mr. Trump and his family effectively turned the Secret Service into a captive customer of their business — by visiting their properties hundreds of times, and then charging the government rates far above its usual spending limits.

The records also make clear that Mr. Trump’s son Eric — who ran the family business while his father was in office — provided a misleading account of what his company was charging.

 

U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that represents in a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday the culmination of a Durham probe began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities in the 2016 era.  U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that represents in a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday the culmination of a Durham probe began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities before the 2016 presidential election.

U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that marks the culmination of a Durham probe that began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities before the 2016 presidential election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jury begins deliberating in case of Steele dossier source, Salvador Rizzo, Oct. 17, 2022. A jury on Monday began deliberating the case of Igor Danchenko, a private researcher who was a primary source for a 2016 dossier of allegations about former president Donald Trump’s ties to Russia and who was later accused of lying to the FBI about where he got his information.

The trial in federal court in Alexandria, Va., is a major test for special counsel John Durham, who lost his only other case that had gone to trial as part of his nearly 3½-year examination of the FBI’s 2016 probe of the Trump campaign.

Trump predicted Durham would uncover vast corruption inside the U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies that investigated his campaign’s links to Russia. So far, no one charged by the special counsel has gone to prison, and only one government employee has been accused of criminal wrongdoing. In both trials this year, Durham has argued that people lied to manipulate the FBI, not that investigators corruptly targeted Trump.

In May, a jury in D.C. federal court acquitted cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann, who also was accused by the special counsel of lying to the FBI. A former FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, was sentenced to one year of probation after admitting in a 2020 plea deal with Durham that he had altered a government email used to justify secret surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.

A grand jury that Durham was using in Alexandria is now inactive, people familiar with the matter have told The Washington Post. It is unclear whether a grand jury the special counsel was using in D.C. is still active. Barr directed Durham to write a report, and it will be up to Attorney General Merrick Garland to decide how much of it, if any, to release to the public.

A longtime federal prosecutor who served as U.S. attorney in Connecticut during the Trump administration, Durham personally argued much of the government’s case against Danchenko. Prosecutors said Danchenko misled the FBI officials asking for the identity of his sources in 2017, after the agency determined the researcher was the source behind some of the most explosive allegations about Trump in reports compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.

 

 

Igor Danchenko in 2021. A jury will now decide whether Mr. Danchenko is guilty of lying to the F.B.I. about one of his sources for information in the so-called Steele dossier (Photo by Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images).

Igor Danchenko in 2021. A jury will now decide whether Mr. Danchenko is guilty of lying to the F.B.I. about one of his sources for information in the so-called Steele dossier (Photo by Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images).

ny times logoNew York Times, Jury Deliberates in Trial of Analyst Who Gathered Steele Dossier Claims, Linda Qiu and Charlie Savage, Oct. 17, 2022. A Trump-era special prosecutor and a defense lawyer delivered starkly clashing views in closing arguments on Monday about the motives of Igor Danchenko, a Russia analyst who was a key contributor to the so-called Steele dossier.

A jury will now decide whether Mr. Danchenko is guilty of lying to the F.B.I. about one of his sources for information in the Steele dossier, a compendium of unsubstantiated assertions that Donald J. Trump and his 2016 campaign were colluding with Russia.

The case is a major test of the special counsel, John H. Durham, who was appointed in 2019 to investigate the origins of the F.B.I.’s inquiry into the nature of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. An earlier indictment brought by Mr. Durham ended with an acquittal in May, and the trial appears to be his last chance to obtain a conviction in a case he developed.

In the closing arguments, a prosecutor working for Mr. Durham asserted that Mr. Danchenko had clearly lied to the F.B.I. and that his false assertions had a material effect. He pointed to part of the dossier that the F.B.I. cited to bolster applications to wiretap a former Trump campaign adviser with ties to Russia.

“This defendant’s lies caused intensive surveillance on a U.S. citizen,” said Michael Keilty, an assistant special counsel.

In his own remarks, Mr. Durham sought to broaden the case, telling jurors that “the whole house of cards of the dossier crumbles” under the weight of the evidence.

But the defense said the government’s own evidence showed that Mr. Danchenko did not lie. The lawyer, Stuart A. Sears, characterized Mr. Danchenko as a valuable and honest asset to the F.B.I. who unwittingly became embroiled in a politically charged investigation. Mr. Durham, he said, was intent on proving crimes “at any cost” and presumed Mr. Danchenko guilty from the start.

“He’s trying to help the F.B.I., and now they’re indicting him for it,” Mr. Sears said.

After BuzzFeed published the dossier in 2017, public suspicions of Mr. Trump escalated, but it has since been discredited — in part because Mr. Danchenko told the F.B.I. that its author, the former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, had exaggerated gossip that Mr. Danchenko had gathered for him.

Mr. Trump and his supporters have falsely sought to conflate the dossier with the official investigation into Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia, but the F.B.I. did not open the inquiry based on the dossier and the final report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, did not cite anything in it as evidence.

The F.B.I. pointed to part of the dossier in applying to wiretap the former Trump campaign adviser. An inspector general’s investigation uncovered that the bureau had continued to do so after talking to Mr. Danchenko without informing a surveillance court that there was reason to doubt the dossier’s credibility.

The dossier was political opposition research indirectly funded by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Committee. They paid a law firm, which paid a research firm, which in turn subcontracted to a company run by Mr. Steele. Mr. Steele hired Mr. Danchenko to canvass contacts in Russia and Europe about Mr. Trump’s business dealings in Russia.

Mr. Danchenko verbally conveyed rumors that Mr. Trump’s campaign was colluding with Russia and that Russia had a blackmail tape of Mr. Trump with prostitutes in a hotel room in Moscow. But during an interview with the F.B.I., Mr. Danchenko said that he first saw the dossier when BuzzFeed published it and that Mr. Steele had exaggerated his statements, portraying uncorroborated gossip and speculation as fact.

The F.B.I. made Mr. Danchenko a paid confidential source and he disclosed his sourcing for the rumors. While he did not provide information substantiating the dossier, the trial has shown that the bureau found his network of contacts valuable for identifying unrelated Russian influence operations in the United States.

Emptywheel, John Durham’s Missing Signals (And Facetime And Whatsapp And Ipad), Emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler), right, Oct. 16-17, 2022. As is common, the case agent marcy wheelerfor the Durham investigation against Igor Danchenko, Ryan James, was the last witness on Friday. Case agents are often used to summarize the case against a defendant and introduce boring communications records that the prosecution will rely on in the closing arguments.

By description, he’s the single current or former FBI employee of five who testified at the trial (the others being Brian Auten, Kevin Helson, Amy Anderson, and Brittany Hertzog) who described no expertise in Russian counterintelligence.

James’ job was to introduce a bunch of travel and communications records that — Durham will claim on Monday — rule out the possibility that Igor Sergei Millian (shown in a screenshot from ABC-TV).Danchenko got a call from an anonymous caller, probably around July 24 or 25, 2016, someone Danchenko claimed to believe was Sergei Millian, left. This is the burden Durham chose to take on when he charged Danchenko with four counts — the four remaining after Judge Anthony Trenga dismissed the fifth on Friday — about whether Danchenko was lying on four different occasions in 2017 when he described what he had believed in July 2016.

[snip]

Whether you find Danchenko’s stories credible or not, the fact of the matter is that Durham charged Danchenko with lying in these conversations in spite of the fact that his primary witnesses both attested, sometimes under oath, that they believed him.

There’s no telling what the jury will do. Durham will use testimony from a validation review to suggest that at least one person at the FBI, someone who didn’t have a personal investment in Danchenko’s success, suspected he was a GRU spy. Durham will likely argue that Auten and Helson only believe Danchenko because they’re incompetent.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Oath Keepers Leader Bought Arsenal of Weapons Ahead of Jan. 6, Alan Feuer and Zach Montague, Oct. 17, 2022. The prosecution in the seditious conspiracy trial of Stewart Rhodes and other members of the militia introduced evidence that he spent as much as $20,000 on rifles, ammunition and other equipment.

In the days before a pro-Trump mob — including members of his own organization — broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia, went on a cross-country weapon-buying spree.

Setting out for Washington from Texas, his home state, Mr. Rhodes stopped at least six times, bank records show, purchasing items like assault-style rifles, ammunition and scopes. Sometimes he dropped into gun shops and sometimes he conducted the transactions in parking lots with private sellers he met online.

By the time he reached his destination, prosecutors said on Monday at the trial of Mr. Rhodes and four of his subordinates on seditious conspiracy charges, the Oath Keepers leader had spent as much as $20,000 on what amounted to a small arsenal that included at least three rifles and an Israeli-made semiautomatic shotgun.

Prosecutors have not yet told the jury precisely what Mr. Rhodes did with the weapons he amassed as he and a lawyer for the Oath Keepers, Kellye SoRelle, made their way from Texas, through Mississippi and Tennessee, to the Hilton Garden Inn in Vienna, Va., where they stayed on Jan. 6.

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Recommends Bannon Be Sentenced to 6 Months in Prison, Alan Feuer and Luke Broadwater, Oct. 17, 2022. Stephen Bannon, who is set to be sentenced on Friday, deserved a penalty harsher than the minimum term, prosecutors said.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Steve Bannon is being sentenced to prison this week – and that’s just the half of it, Bill Palmer, Oct. 17, 2022. This week, career bill palmercriminal Steve Bannon will be sentenced in federal court for the pair of contempt of Congress charges he was convicted on earlier this year.

Due to the staggered manner in which criminal charges have been brought against Bannon at various levels of government, Bannon’s prison sentence for contempt is likely to be rather short. This is likely to set off widespread confusion, and a fair amount of mistaken “they’re getting away with it all” sentiment. So let’s make sure we’re all caught up on what’s actually happening to Bannon.

bill palmer report logo headerBannon’s sentencing this week will be solely for the contempt charges. Bannon could realistically get anything from a month to two years in prison. This particular crime gives a lot of latitude to the judge on sentencing, and the judge will have to decide whether or not to take Bannon’s prior pardoned charges into account, along with Bannon’s ongoing inappropriate public remarks about his trial.

Justice Department log circularBut whatever prison sentence Bannon ends up with this week, it’ll be just the half of it. Actually it’ll be a lot less than half of it, because contempt is the least severe charge that Bannon is facing. Bannon is separately set to stand trial next month on New York state-level charges of fraud – and if he’s convicted, that’ll likely come with a far longer prison sentence than whatever he ends up getting this week for contempt.

In addition, we’re still waiting to see if the DOJ ends up bringing additional January 6th related charges against Steve Bannon, which would also likely come with a more severe prison sentence than the current contempt charge.

But when Bannon is sentenced this week, the thing to keep in mind is that contempt of Congress is considered a fairly minor crime, which is why it comes with a shorter prison sentence. Bannon’s state-level fraud trial next month puts him in far greater jeopardy of spending a long time in prison. Bannon’s prison sentence for contempt will just be round one of his worsening legal troubles.

Emptywheel, On Steve Bannon’s Epically Bad Faith, Emptywheel, right,Oct. 17, 2022. The government’s sentencing memo for Steve Bannon, which asks Judge Carl Nichols to sentence Bannon to six marcy wheelermonths in prison for blowing off the January 6 Committee subpoena, mentions his bad faith thirteen times (and his failure to make any good faith effort once).

From the moment that the Defendant, Stephen K. Bannon, accepted service of a subpoena from the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol (“the Committee”), he has pursued a bad-faith strategy of defiance and contempt.

[snip]

It also describes how Bannon refused to tell the Probation office how much money he had; DOJ used that refusal to ask for a $200,000 fine as a result.

Even now that he is facing sentencing, the Defendant has continued to show his disdain for the lawful processes of our government system, refusing to provide financial information to the Probation Office so that it can properly evaluate his ability to pay a fine. Rather than disclose his financial records, a requirement with which every other defendant found guilty of a crime is expected to comply, the Defendant informed Probation that he would prefer instead to pay the maximum fine. So be it. This Court should require the Defendant to comply with the bargain he proposed when he refused to answer standard questions about his financial condition. The Court should impose a $100,000 fine on both counts—the exact amount suggested by the Defendant.

Oct. 15

HuffPost, Chilling Memo To FBI Official Warned Of Sympathy In Bureau For Jan. 6 Rioters, Mary Papenfuss, Oct. 15-16, 2022. A "sizable percentage of the employee population felt sympathetic to the group that stormed the Capitol,” a person wrote in an email to Paul Abbate.

huffington post logoA recently released email written by someone familiar with FBI operations warned a bureau official just days after last year’s insurrection of sympathy within the FBI for the Jan. 6 rioters.

 The memo sent via email to now FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate — first revealed by NBC News — is the latest ominous sign of increasing politicization of policing organizations that are supposed to enforce the law without partisan bias.

FBI logo“There’s no good way to say it, so I’ll just be direct: from my first-hand and second-hand information from conversations since Jan. 6, there is, at best, a sizable percentage of the employee population that felt sympathetic to the group that stormed the Capitol,” the email reads.

The sender’s name has been redacted, which was part of a trove of documents released this week by the FBI in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

The message is marked “external email” but may have been written by a current or former agent or official on a personal computer. The writer refers to a past FBI “unit” and talking with agents. Abbate, who was then associate deputy director of the bureau, personally responded to the writer with a thank you for sharing the information. The sender addressed Abbate by his first name.

In the message, the sender referred to an unnamed retired senior FBI analyst who had packed his Facebook page with “Stop the Steal” propaganda, referring to former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the election he lost was rigged.

djt maga hatThe email noted that several agents insisted the violence at the Capitol was little different than Black Lives Matter protests. Still, Capitol rioters were being singled out because of “political correctness.”

Violence was far more significant at the Capitol riot that apparently involved a bid to disrupt the U.S. government. Nearly 900 people have been arrested and charged with crimes for involvement in the insurrection.

The writer recounted “literally” having to “explain” to a fellow agent the difference between “opportunists burning and looting during [Black Lives Matter] protests that stemmed [from] legitimate grievance to police brutality vs. an insurgent mob whose purpose was to the execution of democratic processes at the behest of a sitting president. One is a smattering of criminals; the other is an organized group of domestic terrorists,” the message added.

The divide on law and order enforcement — often impacted by racism — is so pronounced in the bureau that the email author claimed Black agents were afraid to join SWAT teams for fear their co-workers would not protect them.

 

truth social logo

 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

 washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Co-founder of Trump’s media company details Truth Social’s bitter infighting, Drew Harwell, Oct. 15, 2022. A whistleblower has provided The Post and the SEC with hundreds of previously unreported company messages, documents, photos and audio recordings that reveal a stunning portrait of the animosity that has built up inside Trump Media since its high-profile debut last year.

Will Wilkerson, then an executive at former president Donald Trump’s start-up Trump Media & Technology Group, was at a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., coffee shop with company co-founder Andy Litinsky last October when Trump called Litinsky with a question: Would he give up some of his shares to Trump’s wife, Melania?

Trump Media, the owner of the fledgling social network Truth Social, had just been boosted by a huge merger agreement and a flood of investment that had made the stake worth millions of dollars. Trump had already been given 90 percent of the company’s shares in exchange for the use of his name and some minor involvement, leaving everyone else to split the rest.

Litinsky tried to brush it off, telling Trump “the gift would have meant a huge tax bill he couldn’t pay,” Wilkerson said in an interview. “Trump didn’t care. He said, ‘Do whatever you need to do.’ ”

Five months later, Litinsky, who first met Trump in 2004 as a contestant on the TV show “The Apprentice,” was abruptly removed from the company’s board. Wilkerson said he believes it was payback for his refusal to turn over a small fortune to the former president’s wife. Litinsky thought so, too, according to an email Wilkerson and his attorneys shared with The Washington Post and the Securities and Exchange Commission. In that email, Litinsky complained that Trump was “retaliating against me” by threatening to “ ‘blow up the company’ if his demands are not met.”

Litinsky did not respond to emails and phone messages. It is unknown whether he still retains his shares.
Trump Media & Technology Group co-founder Andy Litinsky said in a March email that he believed former president Donald Trump was “retaliating” against him for not giving some of his company equity to Trump's wife, Melania. Will Wilkerson, as an administrator of the company's email system, retained a copy of the message, which he provided to The Post and the SEC. (Will Wilkerson)

The email — one of hundreds of previously unreported company messages, documents, photos and audio recordings that Wilkerson has provided to the SEC in connection with a whistleblower submission — reveals a stunning portrait of the animosity that has built up inside Trump Media since its high-profile debut last year.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Jan. 6 committee hearing shows Trump knew he lost — even while claiming otherwise, Ashley Parker, Oct. 15, 2022 (print ed.). The evidence portrays an American president who embarked on a premeditated plan to refuse to cede power regardless of the election results; The latest: Judge orders Pence aide to testify to Jan. 6 grand jury; Analysis: What the Jan. 6 hearings accomplished — and what they didn’t; Take a look: Why the Jan. 6 committee voted to subpoena Trump and other takeaways.

The likely final hearing of the Jan. 6 panel painted a portrait of an American president who, with the help from a cabal of right-wing allies, embarked on a premeditated plan to refuse to cede power regardless of the election results and who — despite privately acknowledging that he’d lost to Biden — ultimately executed that plan to deadly effect on Jan. 6, 2021.

“All of this demonstrates President Trump’s personal and substantial role in the plot to overturn the election,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.). “He was intimately involved. He was the central player.”

Before voting unanimously to subpoena Trump, the panel made a case against Trump as relentless as it was damning: In the days and weeks before he encouraged a frenzied mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol, close advisers and others had repeatedly told Trump he had lost the election — and Trump himself had privately acknowledged the defeat.

Through roughly 2.5 hours of pretaped testimony, riot footage, stark lawmaker statements and incriminating text messages, the committee argued that despite Trump’s immense capacity for self-deception and dishonesty, the former president fully understood he had lost the election — and yet continued to contest the results anyway.

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Nancy Pelosi held it together, Monica Hesse, Oct. 15, 2022 (print ed.). In footage taken by her daughter during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Pelosi appeared calm, focused and pragmatic under unthinkable circumstances.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The latest Mar-a-Lago ruling underscores the frivolousness of Trump’s complaints, Editorial Board, Oct. 15, 2022 (print ed.). The Supreme Court has dismissed Donald Trump in a single sentence.

With no note of dissent, the justices Thursday rejected the former president’s request to intervene in litigation over documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate this summer. This outcome only underscores the outrageous frivolity of the contentions his team has lodged in courts of law and public opinion.

The Supreme Court shouldn’t even have entertained the petition to reconsider part of an appeals court order allowing the Justice Department to continue to review classified documents as a special master looks over other materials for claims of attorney-client or executive privilege. Yet the outcome of Justice Clarence Thomas’s referring the case his colleagues’ way is just another reason to scoff at claims from Mr. Trump that the legal system is treating him unfairly. He has had the opportunity to use, and attempt to abuse, the courts all the way up to the highest in the land — three of whose justices he appointed. And nonetheless, they’ve rejected his arguments.

These rejections are the only possible answer to the numerous implausible claims made by Mr. Trump, including that while in office he could declassify documents “even by thinking about it.” The Mar-a-Lago case is now ensnared in multiple courts thanks to multiple filings from Mr. Trump. Nowhere has he succeeded in establishing any real injury caused to him by the FBI being allowed to proceed with its investigation into the trove of more than 11,000 documents, including 103 with classification markings, that he took with him from the Oval Office. Meanwhile, federal prosecutors have ably described the injury that both an impeded investigation and the ability of an outside party to view highly sensitive materials would cause to the government. After all, these materials reportedly include information regarding nuclear capabilities of a foreign government and other secrets so closely held that the agents involved in the probe needed a special clearance to look at them.

World Crisis Radio, Opinion: A century after Mussolini’s March on Rome, US voters must choose between 1922 and 1934, when FDR’s New Deal scored midterm webster tarpley 2007gains! Webster G. Tarpley, right, historian and author, Oct. 15, 2022 (94:32 mins.). Time to purge federal agencies of Trump moles implicated in January 6 autogolpe! Latest January 6 hearings prove sabotage of Hill readiness by pro-Trump networks in FBI, Secret Service, Pentagon who left Congress undefended;

Film footage shows Pelosi, Schumer and Hoyer fighting to get police and Guard deployed to Capitol while Trump stooges stalled;

Supremes reject Don’s latest MaL motion, leaving early indictment as job one;

Corrupt television networks hide inflation decline of almost 1% from summer peak; Harping about Latinos and GOP, they forget that Hispanic jobless rate is down from 8.6% to an all-time record low of 3.8%;

Russia spews nuclear threats, mounts revenge attack on Ukraine with 100 missiles after Kerch bridge is crippled; G-7 nations pledge more support for Kiev, including air defense;

Beware GOP’s 2023 plans to destroy social safety net using debt ceiling to extort genocidal austerity; Yellen of Treasury must be ready to implement Fourteenth Amendment to prevent GOP default;

British pound sterling still on the brink of collapse as Truss fires Chancellor while rolling back wild tax cuts for rich; Italian neofascist coalition in crisis even before launch; Chinese Communists set for coronation of Xi, but Biden’s new semiconductor regs are ominous for Beijing; Pope condemns xenophobia and death penalty, posing problems for assorted fascist demagogues!

Oct. 14

 

House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) (Photo via NBC News).

House Jan. 6 Select Investigating Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS.) ((Photo via NBC News).

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: The Jan. 6 Panel Detailed the Attack. Accountability Is Another Matter, Peter Baker, right, Oct. 14, 2022. The peter baker twittercommittee has not moved the needle of public opinion of former President Trump. But it may have laid the groundwork for criminal prosecution.

If the goal was to essentially put former President Donald J. Trump on trial, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol succeeded in presenting a powerful case full of damning testimony mainly from the defendant’s own advisers, allies and even relatives.

But as the panel wrapped up what was likely the last of its evidentiary hearings on Thursday, it was not at all clear that it had persuaded the jury. Americans who already blamed the rampage on Mr. Trump came away from four months of sensational and at times jaw-dropping hearings with more evidence for their belief, while those who started out in his camp largely remained there.

The relatively little movement in public opinion since the hearings opened in June, at least as measured by an array of polls, underscored the calcification of American politics in recent years. Many voters have been locked into their viewpoints, seemingly immune to contrary information. Mr. Trump’s supporters for the most part have remained loyal to him, brushing off the congressional investigation as the partisan exercise he claims it to be.

As a result, a former president who tried to overturn a demonstrably free and fair election to hang onto power in defiance of the voters, the Constitution and nearly two and a half centuries of democratic tradition remains the dominant figure in his political party and the odds-on favorite to win its nomination to run again. While the committee extensively documented the plot for history’s sake, it could not enforce accountability for it.

“Our nation cannot only punish the foot soldiers who stormed our Capitol,” said Representative Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican serving as vice chair of the committee. “Those who planned to overturn our election and brought us to the point of violence must also be accountable.

“With every effort to excuse or justify the conduct of the former president,” she added, “we chip away at the foundation of our republic. Indefensible conduct is defended. Inexcusable conduct is excused. Without accountability, it all becomes normal and it will recur.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Jan. 6 committee hearing shows Trump knew he lost — even while claiming otherwise, Ashley Parker, Oct. 14, 2022. The evidence portrays an American president who embarked on a premeditated plan to refuse to cede power regardless of the election results; The latest: Judge orders Pence aide to testify to Jan. 6 grand jury; Analysis: What the Jan. 6 hearings accomplished — and what they didn’t; Take a look: Why the Jan. 6 committee voted to subpoena Trump and other takeaways.

The likely final hearing of the Jan. 6 panel painted a portrait of an American president who, with the help from a cabal of right-wing allies, embarked on a premeditated plan to refuse to cede power regardless of the election results and who — despite privately acknowledging that he’d lost to Biden — ultimately executed that plan to deadly effect on Jan. 6, 2021.

“All of this demonstrates President Trump’s personal and substantial role in the plot to overturn the election,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.). “He was intimately involved. He was the central player.”

Before voting unanimously to subpoena Trump, the panel made a case against Trump as relentless as it was damning: In the days and weeks before he encouraged a frenzied mob of his supporters to storm the Capitol, close advisers and others had repeatedly told Trump he had lost the election — and Trump himself had privately acknowledged the defeat.

Analysis: The case against Donald Trump

Through roughly 2.5 hours of pretaped testimony, riot footage, stark lawmaker statements and incriminating text messages, the committee argued that despite Trump’s immense capacity for self-deception and dishonesty, the former president fully understood he had lost the election — and yet continued to contest the results anyway.

washington post logoWashington Post, What does a Jan. 6 committee subpoena mean for Donald Trump? Perry Stein, Tom Hamburger and Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 14, 2022. After the Jan. 6 House committee vote to subpoena Donald Trump, here’s what to know about congressional subpoenas.

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Nancy Pelosi held it together, Monica Hesse, Oct. 14, 2022. In footage taken by her daughter during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Pelosi appeared calm, focused and pragmatic under unthinkable circumstances

 

marc short white house file Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge bucks Trump, orders Pence aide to testify to Jan. 6 grand jury, Spencer S. Hsu, Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany, Oct. 14, 2022. A former top aide, shown above, to Vice President Mike Pence returned before a grand jury Thursday to testify in a criminal probe of efforts to overturn the 2020 election after federal courts overruled President Donald Trump’s objections to the testimony, according to people familiar with the matter.

In a sealed decision that could clear the way for other top Trump White House officials to answer questions before a grand jury, Chief U.S. beryl howellDistrict Judge Beryl A. Howell, right, ruled that former Pence chief of staff Marc Short probably possessed information important to the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol that was not available from other sources, one of those people said.

Trump appealed, but the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit refused to postpone Short’s appearance while the litigation continues, the people said, signaling that attempts by Trump to invoke executive privilege to preserve the confidentiality of presidential decision-making were not likely to prevail.

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Rejects Trump Request to Intervene in Documents Case, Adam Liptak, Oct. 14, 2022 (print ed.). The court issued a one-sentence statement that amounted to a stinging rebuke to former President Trump, Adam Liptak, Oct. 13, 2022.

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a request from former President Donald J. Trump to intervene in the litigation over documents seized from his Florida estate.

The court’s order, which was a sentence long, was a stinging rebuke to Mr. Trump. There were no noted dissents, and the court gave no reasons, saying only: “The application to vacate the stay entered by the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Sept. 21, 2022, presented to Justice Thomas and by him referred to the court is denied.”

Mr. Trump asked the court last week to step into the tangled case, saying that an appeals court had lacked jurisdiction to remove about 100 documents marked as classified from a review of the seized material. The Supreme Court’s action means that the special master in the case, and Mr. Trump’s legal team, will not have access to those documents.

In their filing, Mr. Trump’s lawyers did not ask the Supreme Court to overturn a more important part of the appeals court’s ruling, which allowed the Justice Department to continue using the documents with classification markings in its criminal investigation of Mr. Trump’s handling of government records.

 

Trump-Related Trials, Probes, Election Deniers

U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that represents in a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday the culmination of a Durham probe began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities in the 2016 era.  U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that represents in a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday the culmination of a Durham probe began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities before the 2016 presidential election.

U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that represents in a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday the culmination of a Durham probe began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities before the 2016 presidential election.

ny times logoNew York Times, Loss of Steele Dossier Source Damaged National Security, F.B.I. Agent Says, Adam Goldman, Oct. 14, 2022 (print ed.).  The agent denounced the exposure by the Trump Justice Department of Igor Danchenko, who was an F.B.I. informant but is now on trial on charges of lying to investigators.

A veteran F.B.I. counterintelligence agent testified on Thursday that the Trump Justice Department’s decision in 2020 to release sensitive documents about a bureau informant to a Senate committee examining the bureau’s Russia investigation had damaged national security.

The agent told jurors at the trial of Igor Danchenko, who is charged with lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about matters related to the anti-Trump Steele dossier, that Mr. Danchenko, a Russia analyst, had provided extraordinary assistance for years as a paid F.B.I. informant.

Internet sleuths managed to piece together Mr. Danchenko’s identity after Attorney General William P. Barr directed the F.B.I. to declassify a redacted report about its three-day interview of Mr. Danchenko in 2017 and give it to Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time.

Kevin Helson, the agent, said Mr. Danchenko became a political target, adding that the “release of the document was dangerous.”

The testimony by Mr. Helson, a witness for the prosecution, seemed to be another setback for the special counsel investigation examining the origins of the F.B.I. inquiry into former President Donald J. Trump’s ties with Russia. The trial of Mr. Danchenko appears to be the last chance for the special counsel, John H. Durham, who Mr. Trump had said would expose a “deep state” conspiracy against him, to obtain a court conviction before his investigation winds down.

Politico, Durham brings in alleged Danchenko source as witness on trial’s third day, Kelly Hooper, Oct. 14, 2022 (print ed.). The government alleges that Charles Dolan, a public relations executive, was a primary source of the information that the Russian analyst Igor Danchenko contributed to the Steele dossier.

Special counsel John Durham’s team on Thursday morning called longtime Democratic operative Charles Dolan to the stand at the trial of Igor Danchenko, the Russian analyst who the government alleges lied about Dolan’s role as a source for his contributions to the infamous Trump-Russia dossier.

Danchenko is charged with five counts of lying to the FBI, all of which he’s pleaded not guilty to. The trial, which is in its third day in a federal courtroom in Alexandria, Va., is expected to be the final prosecution for Durham in his probe of the origins of the FBI investigation into Trump-Russia collusion in the 2016 election, known as Crossfire Hurricane.

The government alleges that Dolan, a public relations executive, was a primary source of the information that Danchenko contributed to the Steele dossier — a collection of reports compiled by a former British spy containing now-debunked salacious rumors and allegations about former President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia. Prosecutors called Dolan to the stand on Thursday as their second witness in the trial, and the Democratic operative answered questions surrounding the nature of his relationship with the defendant.

At one point during questioning, Dolan admitted to having lied to Danchenko in an email in the summer of 2016 about a “GOP friend” he claimed to have met with and who he said provided him with information about former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort’s resignation. Dolan told the jury that he had “embellished” that claim to Danchenko, and that he had actually obtained the information about Manafort’s resignation from watching cable news, not from a Republican friend.

“I thought I would just embellish a bit to make it seem like his contacts were good,” Dolan said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Durham says Steele dossier source lied. But the FBI long valued him, Salvador Rizzo, Oct. 14, 2022 (print ed.). As a confidential informant for the FBI, Igor Danchenko provided a stream of reliable information on Russian influence activities in the United States, before special counsel John Durham put him on trial for lying to the bureau, an FBI agent testified Thursday.

Special Agent Kevin Helson served as one of two “handlers” for Danchenko, a private researcher on trial in federal court in Alexandria, Va., as part of Durham’s investigation. The special counsel argues Danchenko deceived the FBI and hampered its investigation into ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016. But the only two witnesses from the agency to testify so far have characterized Danchenko’s contributions to U.S. national security as valuable.

Danchenko was a primary source of information for Christopher Steele, a former British spy who compiled allegations about Trump’s ties to Russia in several 2016 reports that became known as the “Steele dossier.” Durham alleges that Danchenko lied to the FBI in interviews in 2017 about his own sources of information; his attorneys argue that Danchenko was truthful and that prosecutors were overreaching.

washington post logoWashington Post, Sidney Powell’s nonprofit raised $16 million as she spread election falsehoods, Jon Swaine and Emma Brown, Oct. 14, 2022. A nonprofit group run by pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell raised $16.4 million in the year following the 2020 election and spent less than half that money, according to the group’s tax filings.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Aide Was Seen on Security Footage Moving Boxes at Mar-a-Lago, Maggie Haberman and Alan Feuer, Oct. 14, 2022 (print ed.). The aide moved the boxes before and after the Justice Department issued a subpoena demanding that former President Trump return all classified documents.

A long-serving aide to former President Donald J. Trump was captured on security camera footage moving boxes out of a storage room at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s residence in Florida, both before and after the Justice Department issued a subpoena in May demanding the return of all classified documents, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The footage showed Walt Nauta, a former military aide who left the White House and then went to work for Mr. Trump at Mar-a-Lago, moving boxes from a storage room that became a focus of the Justice Department’s investigation, according to the people briefed on the matter. The inquiry has centered on whether Mr. Trump improperly kept national security records after he left the White House and obstructed the government’s repeated efforts to get them back.

As part of its investigation, the Justice Department has interviewed Mr. Nauta on several occasions, according to one of the people. Those interviews started before the F.B.I. executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8 and carted off more than 11,000 documents, including about 100 that bore classification markings. Mr. Nauta has answered questions but is not formally cooperating with the investigation of Mr. Trump’s handling of the documents.

His lawyer, Stanley Woodward Jr., declined to comment. Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, accused the Biden administration of “colluding with the media through targeted leaks in an overt and illegal act of intimidation and tampering.”

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Mr. Trump directed an employee who had been interviewed by the F.B.I. to move boxes at Mar-a-Lago. It is not clear whether that employee was Mr. Nauta, and a person familiar with the matter and with Mr. Trump’s orbit said it could be a different staff member.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Forms New Company, Drawing Scrutiny From N.Y. Attorney General, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich and William K. Rashbaum, Oct. 14, 2022 (print ed.). The New York attorney general, Letitia James, who is suing the former president, questioned his motive for forming a new company, which will be known in the state as the Trump Organization II.

Days before the New York attorney general filed a lawsuit accusing Donald J. Trump and his company of fraud and seeking to shut down some of their business in the state, Mr. Trump’s lawyers created a new company in Delaware.

The new company’s name had a familiar ring to it: the Trump Organization, the same name as his old company, now threatened by the lawsuit. And on Sept. 21, the day the suit was filed, the new Delaware company filed paperwork in New York, seeking to be recognized there as the Trump Organization II.

Those maneuvers were detailed for the first time in a court filing on Thursday from the attorney general, Letitia James, who raised the prospect that Mr. Trump was seeking an end run around some of her lawsuit’s harshest potential punishments. By forming the new company, her filing said, the Trump Organization “now appears to be taking steps to restructure its business to avoid existing responsibilities under New York law,” raising concerns that the business might shift assets out of state.

But her filing acknowledged that Mr. Trump’s lawyers had explicitly said they had not taken any steps to avoid the potential consequences of the lawsuit. Mr. Trump’s lawyers, according to the court filing, also offered to provide “assurances and advance notice” to address Ms. James’s concerns.

And because the new company was formed before the lawsuit was filed, Mr. Trump’s lawyers would not have known the specific consequences the attorney general was seeking.

Ms. James, however, remained concerned about the company’s motives and sought intervention from a judge. Her Thursday filing requested an order from the judge that would prohibit the Trump Organization from transferring its assets without court approval.

“Since we filed this sweeping lawsuit last month, Donald Trump and the Trump Organization have continued those same fraudulent practices and taken measures to evade responsibility,” Ms. James said in a statement. “Today, we are seeking an immediate stop to these actions because Mr. Trump should not get to play by different rules.”

Oct. 13

Politico, Trump secretly ordered troops withdrawn from Afghanistan and Somalia before 2020 election, Nicholas Wu and Kyle Cheney, Oct. 13, 2022. The revelation emerged during a Jan. 6 select panel hearing, billed as a “closing argument,” that's expected to be its last before the midterms.

politico CustomDonald Trump sent military leaders into a panic by secretly ordering all U.S. troops withdrawn from Afghanistan and Somalia days after losing reelection, the Jan. 6 select committee revealed Thursday.

The Jan. 6 panel showed testimony from Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, describing Trump’s withdrawal move as “potentially dangerous” but said Trump suggested leaving the problem to “the next guy.” While the order was never implemented, Trump’s intent was to complete the withdrawal before Inauguration Day — and panel member Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) argued that it was evidence that he knew “his term would shortly end.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Jan. 6 Panel Votes to Subpoena Trump, Luke Broadwater and staff colleagues, Oct. 13, 2022. “He is required to answer for his actions,” said the chairman of the committee investigating the Capitol attack. The panel revealed new video of congressional leaders desperately seeking help from the Trump administration and the National Guard as rioters stormed the building.

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol voted unanimously Thursday to issue a subpoena to former President Donald J. Trump to question him about his role in events that led to the violence that consumed Congress

“He is required to answer for his actions,” said Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, at the end of what was possibly the panel’s final public session. “He is required to answer to those police officers who put their lives and bodies on the line to defend our democracy.”

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack voted Thursday to subpoena former President Donald J. Trump, but has yet to settle on whether to enforce subpoenas issued to four key Republican members of Congress who have refused to cooperate with the inquiry.

Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Kevin McCarthy of California, the House minority leader, did not comply with subpoenas to testify at depositions that were scheduled for May, despite 22 former Republican members of the House urging them to cooperate.

The panel wanted the lawmakers to answer questions about their communications in the run-up to the Capitol riot. For refusing to comply, the members could face charges of contempt of Congress or be referred to the Ethics Committee.

Mr. Jordan, Mr. Perry and Mr. Biggs sent letters to the committee objecting to the investigation, and Mr. McCarthy filed a court brief arguing the panel’s subpoenas were illegitimate.

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Jordan, who is in line to become Judiciary Committee chairman if his party takes control of Congress after November’s midterms, wrote that participation in such a “political stunt” by House Republican leaders “would change the House for­ever.”

The committee was initially reluctant to issue subpoenas for information from sitting members of Congress, citing the deference and respect lawmakers in the chamber generally show one another, but ultimately concluded it was necessary.

There have already been consequences for failing to cooperate. Stephen K. Bannon, a Trump ally who was found guilty of two counts of contempt of Congress in July for refusing to comply with the committee’s subpoena, making him the first close aide to former President Donald J. Trump to be convicted as a result of one of the investigations into the Jan. 6 attack. (Mr. McCarthy filed a brief in support of Mr. Bannon.)

The committee has also previously laid out its case for a contempt of Congress charge against Mark Meadows, the chief of staff to Mr. Trump, who refused to appear for a scheduled deposition or to turn over additional documents, citing Mr. Trump’s assertion of executive privilege.

Some witnesses who did offer testimony cited their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during questioning, including Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official; Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser; John Eastman, a conservative lawyer; and Roger Stone, a political operative.

“At some point, the Department of Justice may well unearth the facts that these and other witnesses are currently concealing,” Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming said at the hearing on Thursday, minutes before the panel unanimously voted to subpoena Mr. Trump.

Thompson tells reporters that the committee has no plans to subpoena former Vice President Mike Pence.

Chilling new footage shows congressional leaders scrambling to secure the Capitol.

New video shared by the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol shows how top lawmakers scrambled to secure the building on Jan. 6.CreditCredit...House Select Committee, via Associated Press

Huddling with congressional leaders in a secure location as the Capitol was under siege, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was emphatic: There had to be a way to show the public that the government could function and the transfer of power could continue.

Was there a way to return to the Capitol and continue certifying the election, she asked.

ny times logoNew York Times, Supreme Court Rejects Trump Request to Intervene in Documents Case, Adam Liptak, Oct. 13, 2022. The court issued a one-sentence statement that amounted to a stinging rebuke to former President Trump, Adam Liptak, Oct. 13, 2022.

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a request from former President Donald J. Trump to intervene in the litigation over documents seized from his Florida estate.

The court’s order, which was a sentence long, was a stinging rebuke to Mr. Trump. There were no noted dissents, and the court gave no reasons, saying only: “The application to vacate the stay entered by the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Sept. 21, 2022, presented to Justice Thomas and by him referred to the court is denied.”

Mr. Trump asked the court last week to step into the tangled case, saying that an appeals court had lacked jurisdiction to remove about 100 documents marked as classified from a review of the seized material. The Supreme Court’s action means that the special master in the case, and Mr. Trump’s legal team, will not have access to those documents.

In their filing, Mr. Trump’s lawyers did not ask the Supreme Court to overturn a more important part of the appeals court’s ruling, which allowed the Justice Department to continue using the documents with classification markings in its criminal investigation of Mr. Trump’s handling of government records.

  • Politico, Jan. 6 committee plans a Trump subpoena vote, Nicholas Wu and Kyle Cheney, Oct. 13, 2022. The revelation emerged during a hearing that also revealed the former president secretly ordered troops withdrawn from Afghanistan and Somalia before the 2020 election.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Supreme Court tells Donald Trump to take a hike, Bill Palmer, Oct. 13, 2022. The U.S. Supreme Court has just rejected Donald Trump’s request to intervene in the DOJ’s classified documents case against him. This always had a 100% chance of happening, and now here we are. Not only did Trump lose, this didn’t even delay the DOJ by a single day, as it’s been continuing to work on its case against Trump ever since the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in its favor.

bill palmer report logo headerThis means that the U.S. Court of Appeals now has de facto jurisdiction over this case, with the Supreme Court having refused to get involved. Thus far the Court of Appeals has already granted the DOJ access to the classified documents that were seized from Mar-a-Lago. The DOJ has also asked the Court of Appeals to finish off what’s left of the Special Master debacle as well.

There is no word yet on whether any Supreme Court Justices took the other side and wanted to hear this case. But either way, it should be fairly clear to everyone by now that Clarence Thomas wasn’t going to be able to single handedly bail Trump out, even if Thomas wanted to, because that’s simply not how any of this is set up.

ny times logoNew York Times, Inflation Stays Strong, Showing Stubbornly Rising U.S. Prices, Jeanna Smialek, Oct. 13, 2022. Consumer prices rose 8.2 percent in the year through September, in a report that dashes hopes that inflation in the U.S. may be slowing down.

Fresh inflation data released Thursday showed that the consumer prices climbed far more quickly than expected and a key measure climbed to a fresh 40-year high, bad news for the Federal Reserve as it tries to bring the most rapid price increases in four decades back under control.

Overall inflation climbed 8.2 percent in the year through September, more than what economists recently surveyed by Bloomberg expected, though a slight moderation from the 8.3 percent increase in the year through August. The rate remains extremely high.

Prices increased 6.6 percent after stripping out fuel and food — which tend to be volatile and are often removed from inflation readings to allow for a better sense of underlying trends — a notable re-acceleration in the so-called core index. That was a fresh peak for the index this year, and was the fastest pace of annual increase since 1982.

Right now, Fed officials and Wall Street analysts more closely watch the monthly figures, including what happened between August and September. While the annual numbers reflect what has happened cumulatively over the past 12 months, the monthly data give a clearer snapshot of how prices are evolving in real time.

And those monthly numbers offered even more pronounced reasons to worry. Overall inflation climbed 0.4 percent in September, much more than last month’s 0.1 percent reading. The core index climbed 0.6 percent, matching a big gain in the prior month. That pace is far too fast for the Fed. Because fast inflation has lingered for more than a year and half and has broadened to an array of goods and services — and because it is proving so relentlessly rapid — central bankers are likely to remain squarely focused on cooling off the economy and wrestling it lower. They have raised interest rates five times this year and have signaled that they expect to debate an increase of a half-point or three-quarters of a point at their upcoming meeting. The new figures will likely cement the case for the bigger increase.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Aide Was Seen on Security Footage Moving Boxes at Mar-a-Lago, Maggie Haberman and Alan Feuer, Oct. 13, 2022. The aide moved the boxes before and after the Justice Department issued a subpoena demanding that former President Trump return all classified documents.

A long-serving aide to former President Donald J. Trump was captured on security camera footage moving boxes out of a storage room at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s residence in Florida, both before and after the Justice Department issued a subpoena in May demanding the return of all classified documents, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The footage showed Walt Nauta, a former military aide who left the White House and then went to work for Mr. Trump at Mar-a-Lago, moving boxes from a storage room that became a focus of the Justice Department’s investigation, according to the people briefed on the matter. The inquiry has centered on whether Mr. Trump improperly kept national security records after he left the White House and obstructed the government’s repeated efforts to get them back.

As part of its investigation, the Justice Department has interviewed Mr. Nauta on several occasions, according to one of the people. Those interviews started before the F.B.I. executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8 and carted off more than 11,000 documents, including about 100 that bore classification markings. Mr. Nauta has answered questions but is not formally cooperating with the investigation of Mr. Trump’s handling of the documents.

His lawyer, Stanley Woodward Jr., declined to comment. Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, accused the Biden administration of “colluding with the media through targeted leaks in an overt and illegal act of intimidation and tampering.”

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Mr. Trump directed an employee who had been interviewed by the F.B.I. to move boxes at Mar-a-Lago. It is not clear whether that employee was Mr. Nauta, and a person familiar with the matter and with Mr. Trump’s orbit said it could be a different staff member.

 

 

joe biden black background resized serious filewashington post logoWashington Post, Biden says Supreme Court ‘more of an advocacy group’ than ‘evenhanded,’ John Wagner, Oct. 13, 2022 (print ed.). President Biden is stepping up his criticism of the Supreme Court, calling it “more of an advocacy group” than “evenhanded” after the court struck down the constitutional right to an abortion.

USTR seal Custom 2Biden’s assessment came Tuesday night toward the end of remarks at a virtual fundraiser for Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) as he laid out what he sees at stake for Democrats in November’s midterm elections.

“So, I view this … off-year election as one of the most important elections that I’ve been engaged in, because a lot can change because the institutions have changed,” Biden said. “The Supreme Court is more of an advocacy group these days than it is … evenhanded.”

Biden has taken repeated shots at the court since June, when it overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision on abortion. The court now has a 6-to-3 conservative supermajority.

In public comments last month, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. defended the authority of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution.

“You don’t want the political branches telling you what the law is, and you don’t want public opinion to be the guide about what the appropriate decision is,” he said.

During his presidency, Donald Trump bristled over several of the court’s decisions, some regarding policy, others on his false claims about a rigged 2020 election. When the court in December 2020 rejected Trump’s legal challenge aimed at overturning the election, Trump tweeted: “The Supreme Court really let us down. No Wisdom, No Courage!”

Earlier in his remarks Tuesday night, Biden sought to frame the choices facing voters next month.

“We’re less than 30 days away from the midterms, and the stakes are clear,” he said. “The right to choose is on the ballot. Your Social Security you paid for your whole life is on the ballot. The safety of our kids and gun violence is on the ballot. Literally, the survival of the planet is … on the ballot. And your right to vote. And democracy itself is … on the ballot.”

 

alex jones screen shot 2020 05 01 at 12.02.06 pm

Alex Jones, host and founder of the Texas-based Infowars show (file photo).

ny times logoNew York Times, Alex Jones Must Pay Nearly $1 Billion to Sandy Hook Victims’ Families, Elizabeth Williamson, Oct. 13, 2022 (print ed.). Alex Jones and Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems, must pay close to $1 billion to the family members of eight victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary and an F.B.I. agent who responded to the scene of the 2012 massacre, which killed 20 first graders and six educators.

Mr. Jones, who was not in court to hear the jury’s decision, had been found liable for defamation after he spent years falsely describing the shooting as a hoax and accusing the victims’ families of being actors complicit in the plot. As a result, the families were threatened in person and online. He used his Infowars platform to spread these lies.

Here’s what to know:

  • The jury’s decision divided the money among 15 plaintiffs: 14 relatives of eight Sandy Hook victims, and William Aldenberg, an F.B.I. agent targeted by conspiracy theorists. The plaintiffs were awarded varying amounts by the jurors, who considered their testimony and other evidence presented in court to gauge the damage done to their reputations, invasion of their privacy and other factors.
  • This case presented the greatest financial risk to Mr. Jones, because he was found liable of violating Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act, by using lies about the shooting to sell products on Infowars. There is no cap on punitive damages under that law.
  • Mr. Jones’s assets are a matter of dispute. He has put Infowars’ parent company into bankruptcy, but the families have accused him of doing so to avoid paying the damages.
  • Mr. Jones has a third Sandy Hook damages trial pending stemming from a defamation suit he lost to Lenny Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, parents of Noah Pozner. An earlier trial, in the suit brought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, parents of Jesse Lewis, ended with Mr. Jones being ordered to pay $4 million in compensatory damages and $45.2 million in punitive damages to the Mr. Heslin and Ms. Lewis.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 hearing to highlight new evidence Thursday that Trump was warned of brewing violence, Carol D. Leonnig and Jacqueline Alemany, Oct. 12, 2022 (print ed.). The Jan. 6 select committee’s hearing on Thursday at 1 p.m. is expected to corroborate parts of the more-startling accounts of that day.

The probably final public hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol is expected to highlight newly obtained Secret Service records showing how President Donald Trump was repeatedly alerted to brewing violence that day, and he still sought to stoke the conflict, according to three people briefed on the records.

The committee plans to share in Thursday’s hearing new video footage and internal Secret Service emails that appear to corroborate parts of the most startling inside accounts of that day, said the people briefed, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal records. Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified in June that Trump was briefed on Jan. 6 that some of his supporters were armed for battle, demanded they be allowed into his rally and insisted he wanted to lead them on their march to the Capitol.

Surveillance footage the committee plans to share was taken near the Ellipse that morning before Trump’s speech and shows throngs of his supporters clustered just outside the corralled area for his “Stop the Steal” rally. Secret Service officers screened those entering who sought to get closer to the stage. Law enforcement officials who were monitoring video that morning spotted Trump supporters with plastic shields, bulletproof vests and other paramilitary gear, and some in the Secret Service concluded they stayed outside the rally area to avoid having their weapons confiscated, according to people familiar with the new records.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump worker told FBI about moving Mar-a-Lago boxes on ex-president’s orders, Devlin Barrett and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 13, 2022 (print ed.). The witness’s description is backed up by security camera footage, people familiar with the matter said, offering key evidence of the former president’s behavior as investigators sought the return of classified government documents.

A Trump employee has told federal agents about moving boxes of documents at Mar-a-Lago at the specific direction of the former president, according to people familiar with the investigation, who say the witness account — combined with security-camera footage — offers key evidence of Donald Trump’s behavior as investigators sought the return of classified material.

The witness description and footage described to The Washington Post offer the most direct account to date of Trump’s actions and instructions leading up to the FBI’s Aug. 8 search of the Florida residence and private club, in which agents were looking for evidence of potential crimes including obstruction, destruction of government records or mishandling classified information.

The people familiar with the investigation said agents have gathered witness accounts indicating that, after Trump advisers received a subpoena in May for any classified documents that remained at Mar-a-Lago, Trump told people to move boxes to his residence at the property. That description of events was corroborated by the security-camera footage, which showed people moving the boxes, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

Spokespeople for the Justice Department and FBI declined to comment.

Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich declined to answer detailed questions for this article. “The Biden administration has weaponized law enforcement and fabricated a Document Hoax in a desperate attempt to retain political power,” Budowich said in a statement. “Every other President has been given time and deference regarding the administration of documents, as the President has the ultimate authority to categorize records, and what materials should be classified.”

Budowich accused the Justice Department of a “continued effort to leak misleading and false information to partisan allies in the Fake News,” and said that to do so “is nothing more than dangerous political interference and unequal justice. Simply put, it’s un-American.”

In Trump White House, classified documents routinely mishandled, former aides say

The employee who was working at Mar-a-Lago is cooperating with the Justice Department and has been interviewed multiple times by federal agents.

Politico, DOJ to SCOTUS: Steer clear of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago case appeal, Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, Oct. 12, 2022 (print ed.). It is the latest in a winding legal drama that will likely carry on for months.

politico CustomThe Justice Department is asking the Supreme Court to turn down former President Donald Trump’s bid to get a set of about 100 documents marked as classified back into the hands of an independent “special master” reviewing materials seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar said in a brief filed Tuesday afternoon that there’s no reason for the high court to step into the dispute over what role the court system should play, if any, in overseeing investigators’ access to the records the FBI recovered from Trump’s Florida home.

Trump is seeking to get the records with classified markings back into the special master review in what appears to be an attempt to raise arguments that he declassified the records while he was president or that he declared them to be personal files not subject to the Presidential Records Act.

“Applicant has never represented in any of his multiple legal filings in multiple courts that he in fact declassified any documents — much less supported such a representation with competent evidence,” Prelogar wrote in the 32-page brief.

Trump has repeatedly, and publicly, claimed to have declassified all of the items seized by the FBI that bear classification markings — including some which characterize the records as among the most sensitive, closely held secrets the government possesses. But his lawyers have repeatedly refused to echo those claims, saying they don’t want to commit themselves to possible defense theories like declassification before a potential indictment.

FBI logoIn several rounds of legal filings and oral argument — including Trump’s application to the Supreme Court last week — the former president’s attorneys have decidedly avoided the issue, saying only that Trump’s access to the records remains absolute, “whether classified or declassified.”

Trump has also not presented any evidence he designated any of the seized materials as personal records, and DOJ has argued that classified documents — which inherently bear on national security — could never fit the statutory definition of personal records, since they are likely to have value to an incumbent or future administration.

The initial special master order U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon issued at Trump’s request barred the government from using any of the seized records, including the potentially classified documents, for criminal investigation purposes until the special master process is complete.

The Justice Department appealed her ruling to the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. But it sought emergency relief only to restore access to the documents with classification markings, aiming to exclude them from the special master process. The appeals court sided with prosecutors on those issues last month in a 3-0 decision, although the broader appeal of Cannon’s ruling remains pending.

Trump’s bid for Supreme Court relief did not seek to restore the ban Cannon initially imposed on investigators accessing the documents with classified markings.

Trump’s request to the Supreme Court and the Justice Department’s response were technically submitted to Justice Clarence Thomas, because he oversees the 11th Circuit, which includes Florida. However, in high-profile cases, the individual justices almost always refer requests for emergency relief to the full court.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump tries desperate “Trump Organization II” stunt, but Letitia James is already all over it, Bill Palmer, Oct. 13, 2022. Each time the justice system cracks down on Donald Trump further, various silly ideas get kicked around on social media about how Trump will somehow magically “get away with it all.” Trump then invariably acts upon those dumb ideas, without realizing that they are in fact silly nonsense.

bill palmer report logo headerFor instance, once New York Attorney General Letitia James made initial moves to take the Trump Organization’s assets away, naive social media posts suggested that Trump could just shift the money to other entities and then magically keep it. But that’s not how asset seizures work; any assets you attempt to move around are still going to get taken.

Yet because Trump is naive enough to think that the most simplistic of ideas will actually work, the New York Times is reporting that he actually created a new company called “Trump Organization II” – no really, that’s the name – with the intent of shifting his assets to it.

But this morning Letitia James announced that she’s filing to block the move. Notably, Bloomberg is reporting that James is categorizing Trump Organization II as a “foreign” company, even though it’s been registered in Delaware.

In any case, this stunt is indicative of the desperate, naive, guaranteed-to-fail moves that people like Donald Trump resort to making once they’re cornered and out of actual options.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge clears way for Trump to be deposed in defamation case, Shayna Jacobs, Oct. 13, 2022 (print ed.). A federal judge has denied a request by former president Donald Trump to pause proceedings in a defamation case brought against him in 2019 by an author who said he raped her in a department store dressing room decades ago.

The decision clears the way for Trump, who denies the claim, to be deposed as scheduled next week.

e jean carrollIn the lawsuit brought against Trump by former Elle magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll, right, Trump recently won a temporary reprieve from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which sent the case to the appeals court in D.C. to resolve whether Trump was a federal employee as defined by the law when he publicly rebutted Carroll’s story.

On Trump’s behalf, the Justice Department previously tried to intervene in the case on the grounds that he was technically an employee of the U.S. government when he occupied the White House and had legal protections from civil litigation because he was acting under the scope of his employment when he denied Carroll’s account and made disparaging comments about her.

 

U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that represents in a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday the culmination of a Durham probe began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities in the 2016 era.  U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that represents in a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday the culmination of a Durham probe began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities before the 2016 presidential election.

U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel John Durham, right, is shown in a file photo with international consultant Igor Danchenko, defendant in a false statement prosecution that represents in a trial scheduled to begin Tuesday the culmination of a Durham probe began with his Trump administration appointment in 2019 to investigate Trump allegations that the president was being smeared by suspicions that Trump and his campaign team acted in cooperation with Russian interests and entities before the 2016 presidential election.

Raw Story, John Durham turns against his own witness in trial probing origins of Trump-Russia investigation, Travis Gettys, Oct. 13, 2022. John Durham turns against his own witness in trial probing origins of Trump-Russia investigation.

Special counsel John Durham lashed out at his own witness during the trial of a Russian-born businessman who was a key source in Christopher Steele's dossier.

Senior FBI intelligence analyst Brian Auten, who oversaw part of the bureau's early investigation into Donald Trump's ties to Russia, helped prosecutors by testifying that Igor Danchenko withheld information from investigators about his dossier sourcing that would have helped authorities, but things changed after defense lawyers cross-examined him, reported CNN.

Danchenko focused on the analyst's previous testimony years ago to the Justice Department inspector general and the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which he told that he considered Danchenko "truthful" and helpful to the FBI's Russia probe, and he said securing him as a source was beneficial to the agency.

That contradicted the heart of Durham's indictment, which alleges that Danchenko repeatedly lied to the FBI and impeded investigators trying to corroborate the Steele dossier.

Auten testified that he stood by that previous testimony, and he also told the court that Durham misleadingly cherry-picked material that he wrote.

Durham returned for a final round of questioning of his own witness, but he sounded angry at times and elicited sometimes hostile testimony from Auten, who conceded that he had been recommended for suspension by the FBI's internal auditors -- which could undercut the credibility of the special counsel's witness.

He then admonished Auten for claiming that George Papadopoulos was a “high-level adviser” to Trump’s 2016 campaign, when in fact he was a low-level foreign policy aide.

Durham also tried but failed to get Auten to agree the FBI was more concerned about Papadopoulos' links to the Middle East than Russia, but the FBI analyst said they were worried about both.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump worker told FBI about moving Mar-a-Lago boxes on ex-president’s orders, Devlin Barrett and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 13, 2022 (print ed.). The witness’s description is backed up by security camera footage, people familiar with the matter said, offering key evidence of the former president’s behavior as investigators sought the return of classified government documents.

A Trump employee has told federal agents about moving boxes of documents at Mar-a-Lago at the specific direction of the former president, according to people familiar with the investigation, who say the witness account — combined with security-camera footage — offers key evidence of Donald Trump’s behavior as investigators sought the return of classified material.

The witness description and footage described to The Washington Post offer the most direct account to date of Trump’s actions and instructions leading up to the FBI’s Aug. 8 search of the Florida residence and private club, in which agents were looking for evidence of potential crimes including obstruction, destruction of government records or mishandling classified information.

The people familiar with the investigation said agents have gathered witness accounts indicating that, after Trump advisers received a subpoena in May for any classified documents that remained at Mar-a-Lago, Trump told people to move boxes to his residence at the property. That description of events was corroborated by the security-camera footage, which showed people moving the boxes, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

Spokespeople for the Justice Department and FBI declined to comment.

Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich declined to answer detailed questions for this article. “The Biden administration has weaponized law enforcement and fabricated a Document Hoax in a desperate attempt to retain political power,” Budowich said in a statement. “Every other President has been given time and deference regarding the administration of documents, as the President has the ultimate authority to categorize records, and what materials should be classified.”

Budowich accused the Justice Department of a “continued effort to leak misleading and false information to partisan allies in the Fake News,” and said that to do so “is nothing more than dangerous political interference and unequal justice. Simply put, it’s un-American.”

In Trump White House, classified documents routinely mishandled, former aides say

The employee who was working at Mar-a-Lago is cooperating with the Justice Department and has been interviewed multiple times by federal agents.

Politico, DOJ to SCOTUS: Steer clear of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago case appeal, Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, Oct. 12, 2022 (print ed.). It is the latest in a winding legal drama that will likely carry on for months.

politico CustomThe Justice Department is asking the Supreme Court to turn down former President Donald Trump’s bid to get a set of about 100 documents marked as classified back into the hands of an independent “special master” reviewing materials seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar said in a brief filed Tuesday afternoon that there’s no reason for the high court to step into the dispute over what role the court system should play, if any, in overseeing investigators’ access to the records the FBI recovered from Trump’s Florida home.

Trump is seeking to get the records with classified markings back into the special master review in what appears to be an attempt to raise arguments that he declassified the records while he was president or that he declared them to be personal files not subject to the Presidential Records Act.

“Applicant has never represented in any of his multiple legal filings in multiple courts that he in fact declassified any documents — much less supported such a representation with competent evidence,” Prelogar wrote in the 32-page brief.

Trump has repeatedly, and publicly, claimed to have declassified all of the items seized by the FBI that bear classification markings — including some which characterize the records as among the most sensitive, closely held secrets the government possesses. But his lawyers have repeatedly refused to echo those claims, saying they don’t want to commit themselves to possible defense theories like declassification before a potential indictment.

In several rounds of legal filings and oral argument — including Trump’s application to the Supreme Court last week — the former president’s attorneys have decidedly avoided the issue, saying only that Trump’s access to the records remains absolute, “whether classified or declassified.”
Can we explain Trump’s reaction to the DOJ probe in 2 minutes? A POLITICO reporter tries (and fails, again)

Trump has also not presented any evidence he designated any of the seized materials as personal records, and DOJ has argued that classified documents — which inherently bear on national security — could never fit the statutory definition of personal records, since they are likely to have value to an incumbent or future administration.

The initial special master order U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon issued at Trump’s request barred the government from using any of the seized records, including the potentially classified documents, for criminal investigation purposes until the special master process is complete.

The Justice Department appealed her ruling to the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. But it sought emergency relief only to restore access to the documents with classification markings, aiming to exclude them from the special master process. The appeals court sided with prosecutors on those issues last month in a 3-0 decision, although the broader appeal of Cannon’s ruling remains pending.

Trump’s bid for Supreme Court relief did not seek to restore the ban Cannon initially imposed on investigators accessing the documents with classified markings.

Trump’s request to the Supreme Court and the Justice Department’s response were technically submitted to Justice Clarence Thomas, because he oversees the 11th Circuit, which includes Florida. However, in high-profile cases, the individual justices almost always refer requests for emergency relief to the full court.

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge clears way for Trump to be deposed in defamation case, Shayna Jacobs, Oct. 13, 2022 (print ed.). A federal judge has denied a request by former president Donald Trump to pause proceedings in a defamation case brought against him in 2019 by an author who said he raped her in a department store dressing room decades ago.

The decision clears the way for Trump, who denies the claim, to be deposed as scheduled next week.

e jean carrollIn the lawsuit brought against Trump by former Elle magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll, right, Trump recently won a temporary reprieve from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which sent the case to the appeals court in D.C. to resolve whether Trump was a federal employee as defined by the law when he publicly rebutted Carroll’s story.

On Trump’s behalf, the Justice Department previously tried to intervene in the case on the grounds that he was technically an employee of the U.S. government when he occupied the White House and had legal protections from civil litigation because he was acting under the scope of his employment when he denied Carroll’s account and made disparaging comments about her.

Oct. 12

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 hearing to highlight new evidence Thursday that Trump was warned of brewing violence, Carol D. Leonnig and Jacqueline Alemany, Oct. 12, 2022 (print ed.). The Jan. 6 select committee’s hearing on Thursday at 1 p.m. is expected to corroborate parts of the more-startling accounts of that day.

The probably final public hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol is expected to highlight newly obtained Secret Service records showing how President Donald Trump was repeatedly alerted to brewing violence that day, and he still sought to stoke the conflict, according to three people briefed on the records.

The committee plans to share in Thursday’s hearing new video footage and internal Secret Service emails that appear to corroborate parts of the most startling inside accounts of that day, said the people briefed, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal records. Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified in June that Trump was briefed on Jan. 6 that some of his supporters were armed for battle, demanded they be allowed into his rally and insisted he wanted to lead them on their march to the Capitol.

Surveillance footage the committee plans to share was taken near the Ellipse that morning before Trump’s speech and shows throngs of his supporters clustered just outside the corralled area for his “Stop the Steal” rally. Secret Service officers screened those entering who sought to get closer to the stage. Law enforcement officials who were monitoring video that morning spotted Trump supporters with plastic shields, bulletproof vests and other paramilitary gear, and some in the Secret Service concluded they stayed outside the rally area to avoid having their weapons confiscated, according to people familiar with the new records.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump worker told FBI about moving Mar-a-Lago boxes on ex-president’s orders, Devlin Barrett and Josh Dawsey, Oct. 12, 2022. The witness’s description is backed up by security camera footage, people familiar with the matter said, offering key evidence of the former president’s behavior as investigators sought the return of classified government documents.

A Trump employee has told federal agents about moving boxes of documents at Mar-a-Lago at the specific direction of the former president, according to people familiar with the investigation, who say the witness account — combined with security-camera footage — offers key evidence of Donald Trump’s behavior as investigators sought the return of classified material.

The witness description and footage described to The Washington Post offer the most direct account to date of Trump’s actions and instructions leading up to the FBI’s Aug. 8 search of the Florida residence and private club, in which agents were looking for evidence of potential crimes including obstruction, destruction of government records or mishandling classified information.

The people familiar with the investigation said agents have gathered witness accounts indicating that, after Trump advisers received a subpoena in May for any classified documents that remained at Mar-a-Lago, Trump told people to move boxes to his residence at the property. That description of events was corroborated by the security-camera footage, which showed people moving the boxes, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

Spokespeople for the Justice Department and FBI declined to comment.

Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich declined to answer detailed questions for this article. “The Biden administration has weaponized law enforcement and fabricated a Document Hoax in a desperate attempt to retain political power,” Budowich said in a statement. “Every other President has been given time and deference regarding the administration of documents, as the President has the ultimate authority to categorize records, and what materials should be classified.”

Budowich accused the Justice Department of a “continued effort to leak misleading and false information to partisan allies in the Fake News,” and said that to do so “is nothing more than dangerous political interference and unequal justice. Simply put, it’s un-American.”

In Trump White House, classified documents routinely mishandled, former aides say

The employee who was working at Mar-a-Lago is cooperating with the Justice Department and has been interviewed multiple times by federal agents,

washington post logoWashington Post, Judge clears way for Trump to be deposed in defamation case, Shayna Jacobs, Oct. 12, 2022. A federal judge has denied a request by former president Donald Trump to pause proceedings in a defamation case brought against him in 2019 by an author who said he raped her in a department store dressing room decades ago.

The decision clears the way for Trump, who denies the claim, to be deposed as scheduled next week.

In the lawsuit brought against Trump by former Elle magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll, Trump recently won a temporary reprieve from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which sent the case to the appeals court in D.C. to resolve whether Trump was a federal employee as defined by the law when he publicly rebutted Carroll’s story.

On Trump’s behalf, the Justice Department previously tried to intervene in the case on the grounds that he was technically an employee of the U.S. government when he occupied the White House and had legal protections from civil litigation because he was acting under the scope of his employment when he denied Carroll’s account and made disparaging comments about her.

Oct. 11

 

 

djt fbi evidence mar a lago

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover. (U.S. Department of Justice photo.)

Politico, DOJ to SCOTUS: Steer clear of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago case appeal, Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney, Oct. 11, 2022 It is the latest in a winding legal drama that will likely carry on for months.

politico CustomThe Justice Department is asking the Supreme Court to turn down former President Donald Trump’s bid to get a set of about 100 documents marked as classified back into the hands of an independent “special master” reviewing materials seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar said in a brief filed Tuesday afternoon that there’s no reason for the high court to step into the dispute over what role the court system should play, if any, in overseeing investigators’ access to the records the FBI recovered from Trump’s Florida home.

Trump is seeking to get the records with classified markings back into the special master review in what appears to be an attempt to raise arguments that he declassified the records while he was president or that he declared them to be personal files not subject to the Presidential Records Act.

“Applicant has never represented in any of his multiple legal filings in multiple courts that he in fact declassified any documents — much less supported such a representation with competent evidence,” Prelogar wrote in the 32-page brief.

Trump has repeatedly, and publicly, claimed to have declassified all of the items seized by the FBI that bear classification markings — including some which characterize the records as among the most sensitive, closely held secrets the government possesses. But his lawyers have repeatedly refused to echo those claims, saying they don’t want to commit themselves to possible defense theories like declassification before a potential indictment.

In several rounds of legal filings and oral argument — including Trump’s application to the Supreme Court last week — the former president’s attorneys have decidedly avoided the issue, saying only that Trump’s access to the records remains absolute, “whether classified or declassified.”
Can we explain Trump’s reaction to the DOJ probe in 2 minutes? A POLITICO reporter tries (and fails, again)

Trump has also not presented any evidence he designated any of the seized materials as personal records, and DOJ has argued that classified documents — which inherently bear on national security — could never fit the statutory definition of personal records, since they are likely to have value to an incumbent or future administration.

The initial special master order U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon issued at Trump’s request barred the government from using any of the seized records, including the potentially classified documents, for criminal investigation purposes until the special master process is complete.

The Justice Department appealed her ruling to the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. But it sought emergency relief only to restore access to the documents with classification markings, aiming to exclude them from the special master process. The appeals court sided with prosecutors on those issues last month in a 3-0 decision, although the broader appeal of Cannon’s ruling remains pending.

Trump’s bid for Supreme Court relief did not seek to restore the ban Cannon initially imposed on investigators accessing the documents with classified markings.

Trump’s request to the Supreme Court and the Justice Department’s response were technically submitted to Justice Clarence Thomas, because he oversees the 11th Circuit, which includes Florida. However, in high-profile cases, the individual justices almost always refer requests for emergency relief to the full court.

Oct. 9

 

maggie haberman confidence man

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: Trump’s origins in a New York world of con men, mobsters and hustlers, Sean Wilentz, Oct. 9, 2022 (print ed.). In “Confidence Man,” Maggie Haberman puts special emphasis on Trump’s ascent in the late 1970s and 1980s.

Maggie Haberman hails from a New York City very different from Donald Trump’s dominion of glitz and criminality, but she knows that dominion well.

Raised in the household of a traditional shoe-leather New York Times reporter and a well-connected publicist, and now herself ensconced at the digitized Times, Haberman’s earliest assignments involved covering City Hall and its satellite ethical sinkholes for the New York Post and the Daily News. That singular education in New York corruption has stuck with her and sets her apart from her peers reporting on the Trump presidency and its seditious aftermath. It now distinguishes Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America as a uniquely illuminating portrait of our would-be maximum leader.

With a sharp eye for the backstory, Haberman places special emphasis on Trump’s ascent in a late 1970s and 1980s New York demimonde of hustlers, mobsters, political bosses, compliant prosecutors and tabloid scandalmongers. This bygone Manhattan that Tom Wolfe could only satirize in The Bonfire of the Vanities is the fundament to any understanding of what makes Trump tick.

“The dynamics that defined New York City in the 1980s,” Haberman observes, “stayed with Trump for decades; he often seemed frozen there.” Zombielike, he swaggers and struts and cons on the world’s largest stage, much as he did when gossip columnists fawned over him as The Donald; and he will continue his night of the living dead, with menacing success, until someone finally drives a metaphorical stake through his metaphorical heart.

The rote rap on Trump is that he was a bumptious, hyper-ambitious real estate developer from Queens who never earned the respect of the Manhattan society pooh-bahs and who vowed to beat them at their own game — a vow that eventually led him to the Oval Office, astonishing even Trump. That storyline appears in Confidence Man, but Haberman knows it is superficial.

Inside that cauldron of fakery, Trump, no rugged individualist, and padded with his father’s millions, gravitated to a specific milieu of arrivistes whom he equated with supreme power, class and ruthlessness. He held in especially high regard the bully George Steinbrenner, from the outer outer borough of Cleveland, and became a constant presence in the Boss’s Yankee Stadium box. (I’d not known until reading Haberman that Trump, a wimp when it came to sacking underlings, found his tag line for “The Apprentice” by impersonating Steinbrenner barking “You’re fired,” over and over, not least at the Yankees’ oft-discharged manager Billy Martin.)

djt roger stone CustomOff to one side there was the raffish schemer Roger Stone, left, a well-digger’s son from Norwalk, Conn., who got his start as one of the political saboteurs for Richard Nixon’s 1972 reelection campaign, and whose Washington lobbying mega-firm (with Paul Manafort as one of his co-partners) came to represent the Trump Organization’s interests. From the outermost borough of Adelaide, Australia, there was the unscrupulous media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who had already turned the liberal tabloid New York Post into a right-wing scandal sheet and who in 1985 completed the acquisition of 20th Century Fox that would eventually give the world Fox News, commanded by another member of the New York gang, Roger Ailes. There was also the high-profile, media-savvy U.S. attorney Rudy Giuliani, from Brooklyn like Sharpton, and he and Trump would circle each other until they seriously hooked up some years later.

djt roy cohn fileTrump’s chief mentor, and a consigliere to most of the big shots named above, was the legendary underworld and overworld fixer Roy Cohn (shown with Trump at far right). The pampered son of a kingpin in Bronx Democratic politics, long notorious for his McCarthyite Red Scare grandstanding, Cohn, as Haberman details, connected Trump with Stone as well as with organized crime while giving him master classes in high-stakes con-man strategy and tactics. Whenever Trump today intimidates the press with threats of retaliation, whenever he defends his aggressions by claiming to be the victim, whenever he calls his accusers (especially if they represent the federal government) life-destroying, treasonous “scum,” he is channeling his mentor, Cohn.

Haberman offers plenty of material about how these men did it all with virtual impunity. Of course, there would be the occasional fines and sealed judgments — and Cohn was disbarred weeks before he died of AIDS, abandoned by Trump, who knew the score on being heartless. But as Haberman describes, Trump went to great lengths to square himself with a paragon of the city’s power elite, the longtime Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau, including making generous donations to Morgenthau’s pet charity, the New York Police Athletic League, the one charity commitment, Morgenthau would joke warmly, that Trump could be counted on honoring. Not until Cyrus Vance Jr., who had a fine pedigree but was no crusader, succeeded Morgenthau in 2010 did Trump and his properties, after Vance backed off for years, finally face serious investigation by the D.A.’s office — and even then, prosecutors on the case quit in protest when Vance’s successor suddenly seemed to drop it.

Confidence Man likewise enlightens about the massive oversights by the press and the broader world of publishing, especially in New York, not simply in failing to expose the corruption that Haberman catalogues but in creating and then abetting Trump’s celebrity. There were certainly exceptional naysaying reporters, notably Jack Newfield’s protege at the Village Voice, Wayne Barrett, who, at Newfield’s urging, dug deep into Trump’s shady dealings. Barrett’s and the Voice’s condemnations sparked a brief aborted federal investigation, but they weren’t about to shake the inertia at the most influential outlets, topped by the New York Times. Neither did the late lamented Spy magazine’s bull’s-eye satirical shots at the “short-fingered vulgarian” provoke inquiries, although they did provoke Trump to threaten lawsuits and are said to anger him to this day.

Some of the episodes in Haberman’s later chapters on Trump’s presidency have already stirred controversy. Beneath the buzz, though, many of the richest storylines from the Trump White House, as reported in “Confidence Man” and elsewhere, have a distinctly New York ring. “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” Trump snapped in 2018, in anger at his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, the very conservative former senator from Alabama, who had recused himself from the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whom Trump eventually ousted.

Before he was twice impeached, Trump found his man, yet another New York mouthpiece, William Barr, who as attorney general happily did Trump’s bidding in, among other things, lying about the damning Mueller report on the Russian interference — until Trump lost reelection and Barr, well-schooled in transactional loyalty and with his reputation as a supposed “institutionalist” tarnished, declined recruitment into Trump’s coup and at the last minute jumped from the sinking ship. The manic and often antic crimes of Stone, pardoned and unpardoned, add another layer of continuity, a louche link with the old Cohn-centered netherworld.

Haberman’s contribution in Confidence Man, though, is much larger than its arresting anecdotes. Later generations of historians will puzzle over Trump’s rise to national power.

Sean Wilentz, a professor of history at Princeton, is the author, most recently, of “No Property in Man: Slavery and Antislavery at the Nation’s Founding.”

Oct. 8

ny times logoNew York Times, How Trump Deflected Demands for Documents, Enmeshing Aides, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, Oct. 8, 2022. Former President Trump’s pattern of dissembling about the material he took from the White House has created legal risks for himself and his lawyers.

Late last year, as the National Archives ratcheted up the pressure on former President Donald J. Trump to return boxes of records he had taken from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago club, he came up with an idea to resolve the looming showdown: cut a deal.

djt golf shirt bloatedMr. Trump, still determined to show he had been wronged by the F.B.I. investigation into his 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia, was angry with the National Archives and Records Administration for its unwillingness to hand over a batch of sensitive documents that he thought proved his claims.

In exchange for those documents, Mr. Trump told advisers, he would return to the National Archives the boxes of material he had taken to Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Fla.

Mr. Trump’s aides never pursued the idea. But the episode is one in a series that demonstrates how Mr. Trump spent a year and a half deflecting, delaying and sometimes leading aides to dissemble when it came to demands from the National Archives and ultimately the Justice Department to return the material he had taken, interviews and documents show.

That pattern was strikingly similar to how Mr. Trump confronted inquiries into his conduct while in office: entertain or promote outlandish ideas, eschew the advice of lawyers and mislead them, then push lawyers and aides to impede investigators.

ny times logoNew York Times, Oath Keepers Leader Urged Donald Trump to Invoke the Insurrection Act, Alan Feuer, Oct. 8, 2022 (print ed.). The letter was shown to the jury at the seditious conspiracy trial of Stewart Rhodes and four subordinates. It showed the intensity of their efforts to stop the transfer of presidential power.

In December 2020, hours after the Electoral College cast its votes for Joseph R. Biden Jr., Stewart Rhodes, shown at right in a mug shot, the leader of the Oath stewart rhodes mugKeepers militia, posted a letter on his website urging President Donald J. Trump to undertake a series of unprecedented — and possibly illegal — moves to stay in office.

Telling Mr. Trump the country was at war with “Communist China” and a secret army of “willing American agents,” Mr. Rhodes beseeched the president to invoke the Insurrection Act, a more than two centuries-old law that he believed would give Mr. Trump the power to call up the National Guard and militias like his own to suppress the “coup” that was seeking to unseat him.

The open letter, which was shown on Friday to the jury at the trial of Mr. Rhodes and four of his subordinates on seditious conspiracy charges, demanded that Mr. Trump take more wild steps to maintain his grip on power.

Mr. Rhodes instructed the president to seize data from digital voting machines across the country that would purportedly prove the election had been rigged; declassify a trove of the nation’s secrets; and then perform a WikiLeaks-style “data dump,” exposing a supposed cabal of corrupt judges, law enforcement officers and state election officials.

All of this was followed by a threat of violence against Mr. Biden and Kamala Harris, his vice president-elect.

“If you fail to act while you are still in office,” Mr. Rhodes told Mr. Trump, “We the People will have to fight a bloody war against these two illegitimate Chinese puppets.”

The open letter — one of two missives Mr. Rhodes wrote to the president after the election — was posted publicly nearly two years ago, but it was used by prosecutors at the trial to show the lengths to which Mr. Rhodes was willing to go to stop Mr. Biden from entering the White House.

The letter also echoed some of the baseless arguments that advisers to Mr. Trump — including Michael T. Flynn, his former national security adviser — had used around that time in a failed bid to persuade him to use the military to seize some of the nation’s voting machines.

Oct. 7 

Former Proud Boy Jeremy Bertino at the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2020 (photo by Anthony Crider via Wikimedia Commons).Former Proud Boy Jeremy Bertino at the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2020 (photo by Anthony Crider via Wikimedia Commons).

Politico, Proud Boys leader pleads guilty to seditious conspiracy over Jan. 6 actions, Kyle Cheney, Oct. 7, 2022 (print ed.). He's the first member of the group to admit to the charge stemming from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Jeremy Bertino, a North Carolina leader of the Proud Boys pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy on Thursday, becoming the first member of the group to admit to the charge stemming from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

politico CustomBertino appeared before U.S. District Court Judge Tim Kelly to enter his guilty plea, which also included a count of unlawful possession of a firearm.

Bertino, who previously testified to the Jan. 6 select committee, was involved in key conversations and chats with other members of the group, including national chair Enrique Tarrio and other leaders facing seditious conspiracy charges in the weeks before Jan. 6.

Tarrio is set to go on trial in December, along with Proud Boys Ethan Nordean, Joe Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola, who was the first member of the Jan. 6 mob to breach the Capitol when he shattered a Senate-wing window with a police riot shield.

Prosecutors say Tarrio and his allies developed a plan to besiege the Capitol, relying on — and in fact organizing and spurring on — members of the mob to help break through police lines and get inside the Capitol. It was part of an effort that prosecutors say was intended to disrupt the peaceful transfer of presidential power.

Kelly accepted Bertino’s plea after asking Bertino a series of standard questions to ensure, under oath, that Bertino entered it voluntarily and without being threatened or coerced.

The seditious conspiracy charges against the Proud Boys leaders are the gravest leveled by the Justice Department against any of the more than 850 defendants charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Bertino was briefly featured during video testimony aired by the Jan. 6 select committee during its first public hearing in June. He described a surge in Proud Boys membership after then-President Donald Trump urged the group to “stand back and stand by” during a debate against Joe Biden.

“Would you say that Proud Boys numbers increased after the stand back, stand by comment?” an investigator asked.

“Exponentially. I’d say tripled probably,” Bertino replied.

Politico, Top ally in Trump’s 2020 election plot fights professional sanctions, Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, Oct. 7, 2022 (print ed.). Jeffrey Clark has been the subject of a torrent of investigations since Trump left office.

politico CustomA former Justice Department lawyer who became a close ally in Donald Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election is fighting to save his law license and stave off other professional discipline from the Washington, D.C. bar.

Jeffrey Clark appeared for a lengthy proceeding Thursday that is a prelude to a disciplinary hearing on claims he violated legal ethics in his persistent efforts to undercut the legitimacy of the 2020 election. The heart of the issue: Did Clark merely offer up unwise suggestions to his superiors — hardly the basis for disciplinary action — or did his persistence in the face of a lack of evidence of fraud render his conduct so inappropriate that he should be punished?

Phil Fox, chief of the D.C. Bar Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which brought the complaint against Clark earlier this year, agreed that “It is generally not a disciplinary violation to make a stupid suggestion.”

But Fox said Clark went further by repeatedly seeking to get the Justice Department to send a letter warning of significant signs of fraud and urging state legislatures to reconvene and consider appointing new presidential electors.

“He came back and used coercive methods or means to attempt to get the letter sent even though he had no additional information” about fraud, Fox said during the videoconference session.

Harry MacDougald, an attorney for Clark, pushed back.

“They’re saying it’s OK to make a suggestion, but it’s not OK to persist in a suggestion,” MacDougald said.

Merril Hirsh, a veteran D.C. lawyer who chairs a three-member panel to consider the bar complaint, emphasized that this is the key question he is considering as he begins to lay out the process for deciding Clark’s professional fate.

Clark was a central figure in Trump’s last-ditch bid to remain in power despite losing the 2020 election. In December 2020, Clark pushed his superiors to issue a letter to state legislatures, encouraging them to convene in special sessions and consider whether to certify pro-Trump electors in multiple states won by Joe Biden. But top DOJ officials resisted, expressing alarm at Clark’s effort and emphasizing that there was simply no factual basis to suggest the election results were tainted by fraud.

Trump, who was introduced to Clark by Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), came within an eyelash of appointing Clark as acting attorney general and casting out the band of officials standing in Clark’s way, but the president pulled back amid a mass resignation threat by other DOJ leaders.

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Is Said to Believe Trump Has More Documents, Michael S. Schmidt, Maggie Haberman and Katie Benner, Oct. 7, 2022 (print ed.). A top Justice Department official told former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers in recent weeks that the department believed he had not returned all the documents he took when he left the White House, according to two people briefed on the matter.

The outreach from the official, Jay I. Bratt, who leads the department’s counterintelligence operations, is the most concrete indication yet that investigators remain skeptical that Mr. Trump has been fully cooperative in their efforts to recover documents the former president was supposed to have turned over to the National Archives at the end of his term.

It is not clear what steps the Justice Department might take to retrieve any material it thinks Mr. Trump still holds.

And it is not known whether the Justice Department has gathered new evidence that Mr. Trump has held onto government material even after the court-authorized search in August of his private club and residence in Florida, Mar-a-Lago, and 18 months of previous efforts by the federal government to convince the former president to return what he had taken on leaving office.

Oct. 4

 

stewart rhodes

washington post logoWashington Post, Prosecutors outline Oath Keepers’ alleged roles in seditious conspiracy case, Rachel Weiner, Tom Jackman and Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 4, 2022 (print ed.). Five members of the extremist group Oath Keepers, including leader Stewart Rhodes, above, face trial. Prosecutors will try to convince jurors that Rhodes and his group intentionally conspired to use force to prevent President Biden’s swearing-in. The trial is an important step in the wider probe, analysts say. Rhodes plans to testify, denies call to Trump: defense lawyer; Rhodes attorney corrected by judge as defense openings begin.

Opening statements occurred in the trial of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and other members of the extremist group who face seditious conspiracy and other charges in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Rhodes and four co-defendants — Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell — have pleaded not guilty to felony charges alleging that they conspired for weeks after the 2020 presidential election to unleash political violence to oppose the lawful transfer of power to Joe Biden.

Rhodes, founder and leader of Oath Keepers, is charged with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 riot. He is accused of guiding a months-long effort to unleash politically motivated violence to prevent the swearing-in of President Biden. Rhodes is the most high-profile person charged in the investigation so far.

The defendants came from Texas, Florida, Ohio and Virginia, and allegedly led a group that traveled to Washington and staged firearms nearby before forcing entry through the Capitol Rotunda doors in combat and tactical gear.

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI agent resumes testimony in Oath Keepers seditious conspiracy trial, Rachel Weiner and Spencer S. Hsu, Oct. 4, 2022. An FBI agent who began investigating the Oath Keepers days after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot continued testifying Tuesday morning as five associated with the far-right paramilitary group stand accused of conspiring to keep President Donald Trump in office by force.

FBI logoMichael Palian said he had not heard of the Oath Keepers before Jan. 6, 2021, and that he specialized in health-care fraud, not domestic terrorism. But after shepherding U.S. senators to safety that evening, he began investigating the people responsible. He quickly saw videos of people in camouflage gear entering the building together. It appeared “coordinated,” Palian testified. Their outfits bore the label “Oath Keepers.”

Nearly two years later, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes is on trial, accused of seditious conspiracy and other felony charges alongside Florida auto dealer Kelly Meggs, Florida welder Kenneth Harrelson, Ohio bar owner Jessica Watkins and retired Navy intelligence officer Thomas Caldwell of Virginia.

“They said out loud and in writing what they intended to do,” prosecutor Jeffrey Nestler said in his opening statement in U.S. District Court in Washington. “In some ways, they planned their conspiracy in plain sight.”

As part of his testimony, Palian is going through hundreds of messages sent by Oath Keepers associates between the election and the inauguration discussing forceful resistance to a Biden presidency.

Defense attorneys told jurors that those messages were taken out of context.

“You may not like some of the things you see and hear ... but they did nothing illegal that day,” Phillip Linder, one of Rhodes’s attorneys, said in his opening statement.

David Fischer, who represents Caldwell, echoed him, telling jurors, “They selectively edit and they take the most outrageous statements that politically attuned and politically active people make.” He suggested his client said nothing worse than Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has, one of several defense assertions Judge Amit P. Mehta asked the jury to ignore.

Who are the Oath Keepers going to trial on seditious conspiracy charges?

Only Jonathan Crisp, representing Watkins, acknowledged any of the defendants did anything wrong.

“I’m not going to say that what she did in going into that building was okay,” Crisp said. But, he said, “she was a rioter like everybody else” and guilty only of the felony “civil disorder” — not of involvement in a plan to overthrow the government.

“They are not the leaders of what happened that day,” he said, noting that the Oath Keepers got to the Capitol half an hour after others broke into the building. “They joined it in some respects. But they didn’t breach the Capitol.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Why Trump might want to pay attention to the Oath Keepers’ trial, Jennifer Rubin, Oct. 4, 2022. jennifer rubin new headshotProsecutors on Monday laid out their case against Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and four of his associates, providing a detailed look at how a criminal trial for seditious conspiracy will play out.

Former president Donald Trump should pay close attention. The same legal theory under which Rhodes and his cohorts are being tried might apply to the man they wanted to keep in power in defiance of the election results.

Monday’s proceeding previewed an array of evidence that show Rhodes and his followers assembled an armed force, led them to the Capitol and, once there, helped direct the mob in a military-style operation. The goal was to prevent Joe Biden from taking office.

The government has yet to charge Trump with any crime. But prosecutors must do so if the facts warrant indictment. If no person is above the law, everyone from the foot soldiers of the Jan. 6 attack to the president of the United States should face accountability.

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: They Legitimized the Myth of a Stolen Election — and Reaped the Rewards, Steve Eder, David D. Kirkpatrick and Mike McIntire, Oct. 4, 2022 (print ed.). On the day the Capitol was attacked, 139 Republicans in the House voted to dispute the Electoral College count. This is how they got there.

A majority of House Republicans last year voted to challenge the Electoral College and upend the presidential election. That action, signaled ahead of the vote in signed petitions, would change the direction of the party.

Five days after the attack on the Capitol last year, the Republican members of the House of Representatives braced for a backlash.

Two-thirds of them — 139 in all — had been voting on Jan. 6, 2021, to dispute the Electoral College count that would seal Donald J. Trump’s defeat just as rioters determined to keep the president in power stormed the chamber. Now one lawmaker after another warned during a conference call that unless Republicans demanded accountability, voters would punish them for inflaming the mob.

“I want to know if we are going to look at how we got here, internally, within our own party and hold people responsible,” said Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina, according to a recording of the call obtained by The New York Times.

When another member implored the party to unite behind a “clarifying message” that Mr. Trump had truly lost, Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, emphatically agreed: “We have to.”

More than 20 months later, the opposite has happened. The votes to reject the election results have become a badge of honor within the party, in some cases even a requirement for advancement, as doubts about the election have come to define what it means to be a Trump Republican.

The most far-reaching of Mr. Trump’s ploys to overturn his defeat, the objections to the Electoral College results by so many House Republicans did more than any lawsuit, speech or rally to engrave in party orthodoxy the myth of a stolen election. Their actions that day legitimized Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede, gave new life to his claims of conspiracy and fraud and lent institutional weight to doubts about the central ritual of American democracy.

Yet the riot engulfing the Capitol so overshadowed the debate inside that the scrutiny of that day has overlooked how Congress reached that historic vote. A reconstruction by The Times revealed more than simple rubber-stamp loyalty to a larger-than-life leader. Instead, the orchestration of the House objections was a story of shrewd salesmanship and calculated double-talk, set against a backdrop of demographic change across the country that has widened the gulf between the parties.

 

maggie haberman confidence man

The Guardian, ‘She say anything about me?’ Martin Pengelly, Oct. 4, 2022. Trump raised Ghislaine Maxwell link with aides Subject: ‘She say anything about me?’ Trump raised Ghislaine Maxwell link with aides. Then-president voiced concern after socialite’s sex trafficking arrest, according to book by New York Times’s Maggie Haberman.

At an Oval Office meeting in July 2020, Donald Trump asked aides if Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend of the financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein who had been arrested on sex trafficking charges, had named him among influential contacts she might count upon to protect her.
Confidence Man review: Maggie Haberman takes down Trump
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According to a new book by Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, Trump asked “campaign advisers … ‘You see that article in the [New York] Post today that mentioned me?’

“He kept going, to silence. ‘She say anything about me?’”

Epstein was convicted and sentenced in Florida in 2008, on state prostitution charges. He was arrested again in July 2019, on sex-trafficking charges. He killed himself in prison in New York a month later.

Links between Epstein, Maxwell and prominent associates including Trump and Prince Andrew have stoked press speculation ever since.

Maxwell, the daughter of the British press baron Robert Maxwell, was arrested in New Hampshire on 2 July 2020.

The story which seemed to worry Trump, according to Haberman, appeared in the celebrity-focused Page Six section of the New York tabloid on 4 July 2020.

It quoted Steve Hoffenberg, an Epstein associate, as saying: “Ghislaine thought she was untouchable – that she’d be protected by the intelligence communities she and Jeffrey helped with information: the Israeli intelligence services, and Les Wexner, who has given millions to Israel; by Prince Andrew, President Clinton and even by President Trump, who was well-known to be an acquaintance of her and Epstein’s.”

Maxwell was ultimately convicted in New York in December 2021, on five of six charges relating to the sex-trafficking of minors. In July 2022, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

In February this year, Prince Andrew settled a civil case brought by an Epstein victim who alleged she was forced to have sex with the royal. Andrew vehemently denies wrongdoing but has suffered a collapse of his standing in public and private.

Oct. 1

 

mitch mcconnell elaine chao

huffington post logoHuffPost, Donald Trump Says Mitch McConnell Has 'Death Wish' In Truth Social Rant, Lee Moran, Oct 1, 2022. The former president also insulted the GOP Senate leader's wife, Elaine Chao, in the post (shown above in a file photo).

Former President Donald Trump on Friday night resorted to violent rhetoric once more as he suggested Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has “a death wish” for supporting “Democrat sponsored Bills.”

 Trump, in a post on his Truth Social platform, also racistly referred to McConnell’s Taiwan-born wife Elaine Chao as “China loving wife, Coco Chow!”

Chao served as Trump’s secretary of transportation but resigned in protest following the Trump-incited 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Trump did not directly note which bills he was furious at McConnell for voting to approve, but McConnell did this week support a spending bill to avert a federal government shutdown and provide $12 billion in military and economic aid for Ukraine in its ongoing defense of invasion from Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

McConnell has also said he’ll back bipartisan legislation against election subversion.

 

This week's new official portrait of the U.S. Supreme Court

This week's new official portrait of the U.S. Supreme Court

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: The Supreme Court Has a Crisis of Trust, Editorial Board, Oct. 1, 2022. The Supreme Court’s authority within the American political system is both immense and fragile. Somebody has to provide the last word in interpreting the Constitution, and — this is the key — to do so in a way that is seen as fair and legitimate by the people at large.

What happens when a majority of Americans don’t see it that way?

A common response to this question is to say the justices shouldn’t care. They aren’t there to satisfy the majority or to be swayed by the shifting winds of public opinion. That is partly true: The court’s most important obligations include safeguarding the constitutional rights of vulnerable minorities who can’t always count on protection from the political process and acting independently of political interests.

american flag upside down distressBut in the bigger picture, the court nearly always hews close to where the majority of the American people are. If it does diverge, it should take care to do so in a way that doesn’t appear partisan. That is the basis of the trust given to the court by the public.

That trust, in turn, is crucial to the court’s ability to exercise the vast power Americans have granted it. The nine justices have no control over money, as Congress does, or force, as the executive branch does. All they have is their black robes and the public trust. A court that does not keep that trust cannot perform its critical role in American government.

And yet as the justices prepare to open a new term on Monday, fewer Americans have confidence in the court than ever before recorded. In a Gallup poll taken in June, before the court overturned Roe v. Wade with Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, only 25 percent of respondents said they had a high degree of confidence in the institution. That number is down from 50 percent in 2001 — just months after the court’s hugely controversial 5-to-4 ruling in Bush v. Gore, in which a majority consisting only of Republican appointees effectively decided the result of the 2000 election in favor of the Republicans. This widespread lack of confidence and trust in the nation’s highest court is a crisis, and rebuilding it is more important than the outcome of any single ruling.

john roberts oChief Justice John Roberts, right, recently suggested that the court’s low public opinion is nothing more than sour grapes by those on the short end of recent rulings. “Simply because people disagree with an opinion is not a basis for criticizing the legitimacy of the court,” he said in remarks at a judicial conference earlier in September.

This is disingenuous. The court’s biggest decisions have always angered one group of people or another. Conservatives were upset, for instance, by the rulings in Brown v. Board of Education, which barred racial segregation in schools, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which established a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, liberals were infuriated by Bush v. Gore and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which opened the floodgates to dark money in politics. But overall public confidence in the court remained high until recently.

The actual cause of its historic unpopularity is no secret. Over the past several years, the court has been transformed into a judicial arm of the Republican Party. This project was taking shape more quietly for decades, but it shifted into high gear in 2016, when Justice Antonin Scalia died and Senate Republicans refused to let Barack Obama choose his successor, obliterating the practice of deferring to presidents to fill vacancies on the court. Within four years, the court had a 6-to-3 right-wing supermajority, supercharging the Republican appointees’ efforts to discard the traditions and processes that have allowed the court to appear fair and nonpartisan.

As a result, the court’s legitimacy has been squandered in the service of partisan victories.

 

The five most radical right Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this view.

The five most radical right Republican justices on the Supreme Court are shown above, with the sixth Republican, Chief Justice John Roberts, omitted in this photo array.

huffington post logoHuffPost, DOJ Seeks Expedited Appeal In Trump's Mar-A-Lago Documents Battle, Mary Papenfuss, Sept. 30, 2022. The Department of Justice is calling for an expedited appeal concerning its criminal investigation into White House records seized by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago.

DOJ officials are arguing that they must have access to unclassified material confiscated at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and resort by the FBI earlier this month to better assess the classified — including top secret — files they’re examining. They also need to examine all the records for possible clues as to how the documents may have been transported and accessed, officials said.

Justice Department log circularUnclassified material is currently off limits to the Justice Department as the files are first supposed to be examined by former U.S. Judge Raymond Dearie, who was named special master — at Trump’s request — by U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed by Trump.

Cannon had initially blocked Department of Justice access to all records seized at Mar-a-Lago. But in a blow to Trump, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled last week that the Justice Department can resume reviewing the seized classified records, blocking a portion of a stay issued earlier by Cannon. The appeals court also prohibited Dearie from vetting the documents marked classified.

Yet Department of Justice officials argued in a motion filed Friday that the appointment of the special master is still hindering its investigation into what could have dire consequences for national security.

On Thursday, Cannon moved the deadline for Dearie’s completed review from mid-November to mid-December, which would serve Republican interests to put off damaging information until after the midterm elections. The DOJ is pushing to move up the appeal process to mid-November.

Dearie is supposed to be examining the unclassified documents to determine if any are protected by attorney-client — or executive — privilege.

Meanwhile, the “government is … unable to examine [unclassified] records that were commingled with materials bearing classification markings, including records that may shed light on ... how the materials bearing classification markings were transferred to Plaintiff’s residence, how they were stored, and who may have accessed them,” said the DOJ filing with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The records not marked as classified may also constitute evidence of potential [obstruction] and [concealment or removal of government records],” noted the motion, which was first reported by Politico.

The filing also attacked Cannon’s recent rulings against Dearie.

Cannon ruled Thursday that Trump could ignore Dearie’s demand that his legal team either prove Trump’s apparently baseless claim that the FBI “planted” records at Mar-a-Lago, or drop the claim.

Yet Cannon’s ruling appeared to contradict her own earlier ruling giving Dearie power over his review.

Several legal experts have sharply criticized the logic behind Cannon’s decisions. Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said on MSNBC Thursday that she should be removed from the bench. “She’s unfit to serve,” he said.

huffington post logoHuffPost, DOJ Seeks Expedited Appeal In Trump's Mar-A-Lago Documents Battle, Mary Papenfuss, Sept. 30, 2022. The Department of Justice is calling for an expedited appeal concerning its criminal investigation into White House records seized by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago.

DOJ officials are arguing that they must have access to unclassified material confiscated at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and resort by the FBI earlier this month to better assess the classified — including top secret — files they’re examining. They also need to examine all the records for possible clues as to how the documents may have been transported and accessed, officials said.

Justice Department log circularUnclassified material is currently off limits to the Justice Department as the files are first supposed to be examined by former U.S. Judge Raymond Dearie, who was named special master — at Trump’s request — by U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, who was appointed by Trump.

Cannon had initially blocked Department of Justice access to all records seized at Mar-a-Lago. But in a blow to Trump, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled last week that the Justice Department can resume reviewing the seized classified records, blocking a portion of a stay issued earlier by Cannon. The appeals court also prohibited Dearie from vetting the documents marked classified.

Yet Department of Justice officials argued in a motion filed Friday that the appointment of the special master is still hindering its investigation into what could have dire consequences for national security.

On Thursday, Cannon moved the deadline for Dearie’s completed review from mid-November to mid-December, which would serve Republican interests to put off damaging information until after the midterm elections. The DOJ is pushing to move up the appeal process to mid-November.

Dearie is supposed to be examining the unclassified documents to determine if any are protected by attorney-client — or executive — privilege.

Meanwhile, the “government is … unable to examine [unclassified] records that were commingled with materials bearing classification markings, including records that may shed light on ... how the materials bearing classification markings were transferred to Plaintiff’s residence, how they were stored, and who may have accessed them,” said the DOJ filing with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The records not marked as classified may also constitute evidence of potential [obstruction] and [concealment or removal of government records],” noted the motion, which was first reported by Politico.

The filing also attacked Cannon’s recent rulings against Dearie.

Cannon ruled Thursday that Trump could ignore Dearie’s demand that his legal team either prove Trump’s apparently baseless claim that the FBI “planted” records at Mar-a-Lago, or drop the claim.
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Yet Cannon’s ruling appeared to contradict her own earlier ruling giving Dearie power over his review.

Several legal experts have sharply criticized the logic behind Cannon’s decisions. Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said on MSNBC Thursday that she should be removed from the bench. “She’s unfit to serve,” he said.

 

September

Sept. 30

Politico, Opinion: Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump Are Ready for the Saudi Cash, Jack Shafer, Sept. 30, 2022 (print ed.). The beleaguered LIV Golf tournament finally finds some willing partners.

Where did the LIV Golf tournament go to die? Fox.

If that joke didn’t scan for you, it’s likely you haven’t been following the sporting news, which has teemed all summer with stories about Saudi Arabia’s new professional golf circuit. Even though LIV has bid away some of the PGA Tour’s top stars, it carries a taint for many politico Custombecause it’s backed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund and because Donald Trump, a big LIV supporter and a course owner, is hosting some of its tournaments.

This guilt by association has made LIV a bit of a public relations disaster, with accusations flying that the tour is a Saudi attempt to “sportswash” their execrable human-rights record with long, green drives and short, dramatic putts. LIV has proved to be such a bad idea that it has yet to win a major TV network contract.

rupert murdoch 2011 shankbone But that’s likely about to change. According to Golfweek, the tour seems close to a deal with Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Sports 1 cable channel, but the deal comes with a catch: Instead of Fox paying LIV to air tournaments, which is the sports entertainment norm, LIV will be paying Fox. (The last sports business that paid to have its events broadcast was the Alliance of American Football, and we know how that ended.) Plus, LIV will have to sell the ad slots, not Fox, and produce the shows.

What possessed the Saudis to start a tour, and why are they paying to air their product when the PGA Tour collects $700 million a year from broadcasters for a similar spectacle? And what’s in it for Murdoch? Why isn’t he worried about blowback from the 9/11 families who protested a LIV tournament at Trump’s Bedminster course as “another atrocity“? And what’s Trump’s deal in all of this? It’s all a matter of politics colliding with commerce.

For the Saudis, crashing professional golf accomplishes two ends. The first, of course, is political. In the short term, they hope, LIV will help dilute the image held by the West of an authoritarian country murdering Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. (The hit was reportedly commissioned by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader.) In the long term, LIV thinking goes, the billions it spends establishing its tour will replace the lucrative PGA as the sport’s face and eventually become a moneymaker. With almost unlimited funds at their disposal, the Saudis believe they can’t be counted out.

Sept. 29

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Trump’s paid-speeches organizer is struggling financially, Josh Dawsey and Isaac Arnsdorf, Sept. 30, 2022 (print ed.). A company that puts on for-profit Trump rallies, including an upcoming Mar-a-Lago gala and multimillion-dollar fees for the former president, is having trouble paying its bills

A company that organized a lucrative series of post-White House paid speeches for former president Donald Trump is now struggling to pay vendors, investors and employees, angering Trump allies who supported the effort.

The American Freedom Tour, which struck a multimillion-dollar deal with Trump after he left office, has lost two top executives and canceled events in a number of locations as it has failed to pay its bills, according to people familiar with the activities and documents obtained by The Washington Post. Its founder and owner, who has a history of bankruptcy filings, recently sought bankruptcy protection again.

The group has promised events in a number of locales but canceled them before they began and appears to be banking on a large event at Mar-a-Lago in December to turn its financial position around.
With speakers, affiliates and investors all clamoring for their money, one of the people involved who did get paid was Trump, people close to the former president say. Some Trump advisers have warned against doing future events, though Trump has expressed interest.

It’s not clear what that means for the tour’s advertised upcoming black-tie gala at Mar-a-Lago, with tickets starting at $10,000 a couple to spend time with Trump. The event includes a poolside reception and a formal ballroom dinner. Dinner and a photo with Trump costs $40,000, and a private library meeting with Trump is so pricey that it’s only listed as: “INQUIRE BELOW.” The company declined to say how much Trump is being paid for the event.

The company’s CEO, Brian J. Forte, declined to be interviewed for this article. The American Freedom Tour started last October, staging glitzy events around the country that resemble Trump rallies but sell tickets ranging from $55 to more than $4,000. In addition to Trump, the shows featured right-wing celebrities such as Candace Owens and Kimberly Guilfoyle, as well as motivational speakers offering personal finance courses.

Essentially, it was a place where Trump supporters could buy a chance to see him and other conservative luminaries — or pay more for special access — with the money not going to a political campaign, but a for-profit company and Trump himself. It was founded by Forte, a motivational-speaker promoter with a long trail of bankruptcy filings and business disputes across the country.

 

djt fbi evidence mar a lago

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover. (U.S. Department of Justice photo.)

CNN, Trump pushing back on special master’s request for him to declare in court whether DOJ inventory is accurate, Tierney Sneed and Katelyn Polantz, Sept. 29, 2022. Former President Donald Trump is pushing back against a plan from the special master overseeing the review cnn logoof documents seized from Mar-a-Lago that would require Trump to declare in court whether the Justice Department’s inventory from the search is accurate.

The requested declaration would force the former President to go on the record in court about his suggestion that the FBI may have planted evidence during the search on August 8.

djt march 2020 Custom

Trump’s objection to the request for the declaration was made public Wednesday night in a court filing from his lawyers after the Justice Department discussed his opposition vaguely in a public submission to U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie, who is serving as special master, Tuesday evening.

Trump’s team argued the court order appointing Dearie made mention only of a declaration from a government official verifying the Justice Department’s search inventory, and that there was no such reference to a declaration from the Trump side. In the newly-public filing, which was a letter sent privately to Dearie Sunday, Trump said he had to object to the requirement “because the Special Master’s case management plan exceeds the grant of authority from the District Court on this issue.”

“Additionally, the Plaintiff currently has no means of accessing the documents bearing classification markings, which would be necessary to complete any such certification by September 30, the currently proposed date of completion,” Trump said.

The former President’s team also claimed that Dearie is exceeding his authority by asking that the documents from the search be logged in categories more specific than what U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who granted Trump’s request for the review, contemplated in her appointment order.

Trump expressed his opposition as well to providing a briefing to Dearie on whether certain legal motions related to the search were best left to the magistrate judge who approved the warrant.

Justice Department log circularraymond dearieThe Sunday objection letter to Dearie, right, was made public with a Wednesday submission from the Trump team, in which they told the special master that documents from the search amount to 200,000 pages of material. The amount of material seized has not grown significantly since prosecutors first worked through it on the day of the search – but the Trump team, now grasping the number of pages within each document, is alarmed at how quickly they’ll have to work through the collection.

The Trump team wants extra time to work through the large volume of documents – after they had been characterized earlier as 11,000 items or documents by the Justice Department, three of Trump’s lawyers wrote in a letter to Dearie on Wednesday.

The Justice Department is investigating whether a crime was committed or the nation’s security was harmed because Trump and others had federal and classified government records among the hundreds of thousands of unsecured pages at the Florida beach club after he left the presidency.

In recent days, the special master process has prompted the Trump team and the Justice Department to try to hire a service that can host the documents digitally, so they can be worked through. Earlier this week, the department said in a court filing that Trump’s team had indicated the data hosting companies didn’t want to work with the former President.

His team now says the issue is the size of the evidence collection.

“In conversations between Plaintiff’s counsel and the Government regarding a data vendor, the Government mentioned that the 11,000 documents contain closer to 200,000 pages. That estimated volume, with a need to operate under the accelerated timeframes supported by the Government, is the reason why so many of the Government’s selected vendors have declined the potential engagement,” Trump’s team wrote on Wednesday.

Trump, in his Wednesday letter to Dearie, also complained that attorneys working on the investigation may have been exposed to a small number of confidential attorney-client communications before either the department’s filter team or the special master could review.

 

maggie haberman confidence man

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump weighed bombing drug labs in Mexico, according to new book, Josh Dawsey, Sept. 29, 2022 (print ed.). New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman’s Confidence Man details unusual, erratic interactions between Donald Trump and world leaders, members of Congress and his own aides.

As president, Donald Trump weighed bombing drug labs in Mexico after one of his leading public health officials came into the Oval Office, wearing a dress uniform, and said such facilities should be handled by putting “lead to target” to stop the flow of illicit substances across the border into the United States.

djt hands up mouth open Custom“He raised it several times, eventually asking a stunned Defense Secretary Mark Esper whether the United States could indeed bomb the labs,” according to a new book by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman. White House officials said the official, Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir, often wore his dress uniform for mexico flag1meetings with Trump, which confused him.

“The response from White House aides was not to try to change Trump’s view, but to consider asking Giroir not to wear his uniform to the Oval Office anymore,” Haberman writes in “Confidence Man,” an extensive book about Trump’s time in New York and as president.

The 607-page book, which has long been awaited by many of Trump’s aides, is set to be published Tuesday. A copy was obtained by The Washington Post. The book details unusual and erratic interactions between Trump and world leaders, members of Congress and his own aides, along with behind-the-scenes accounts of his time as a businessman.

Presented with a detailed accounting of the book’s reporting, a Trump spokesman did not directly respond. “While coastal elites obsess over boring books chock full of anonymously-sourced fairytales, America is a nation in decline. President Trump is focused on Saving America, and there’s nothing the Fake News can do about it,” said Taylor Budowich, the spokesman.

When asked by The Post about the account of the Oval Office discussion, Giroir said in an email that he does not comment on such private conversations with Trump. He went on to criticize the flow of drugs across the border from Mexico and voice support for substance abuse treatment. “But these measures will not stop this mass murder of Americans,” he added. “Every option needs to be on the table.”

Sept. 28

U.S. House Jan. 6 insurrection investigating committee members Liz Cheney (R-WY), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Jamie Raskie (D-MD) are shown, left to right, in a file photo.U.S. House Jan. 6 insurrection investigating committee members Liz Cheney (R-WY), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Jamie Raskie (D-MD) are shown, left to right, in a file photo.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 committee postpones planned hearing as Hurricane Ian advances, Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol is postponing its highly anticipated hearing because of Hurricane Ian, which is expected to barrel into the western coast of Florida on Wednesday, according to two people familiar with the decision.

It’s unclear when the daytime hearing, which seeks to recapture the nation’s attention with what is likely to be the panel’s final public hearing before the release of a final report, will be rescheduled.

The hearing follows eight highly produced, news-making hearings that aired over June and July, featuring blockbuster testimony from former White House officials, poll workers and law enforcement officers. During the committee’s August hiatus, staff doubled back to their investigative work to follow new leads and answer unresolved questions.

The final hearing is expected in part to focus on how associates of former president Donald Trump planned to declare victory regardless of the outcome of the 2020 election, according to people familiar with hearing planning. The Washington Post reported Monday that the committee intends to show video of Roger Stone recorded by Danish filmmakers during the weeks before the violence in which Stone predicted violent clashes with left-wing activists and forecast months before Election Day that Trump would use armed guards and loyal judges to stay in power.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

 Recent HeadlinesRoger Stone watches news coverage of the Capitol riot in his suite at the Willard hotel on Jan. 6, 2021 (Photo by Kristin M. Davis.)

Roger Stone watches news coverage of the Capitol riot in his suite at the Willard hotel on Jan. 6, 2021 2021 (Photo by Kristin M. Davis.). He is shown below also with several from the ultra-right group Oath Keepers, some of whose members have served as his bodyguards.

roger stone oath keepers

Sept. 28

vicky ward investigates

ky Ward Investigates, Misadventure in the Middle East, Vicky Ward, Sept. 28, 2022. Why the Tom Barrack trial is key to unlocking the single most dangerous and possibly self-interested corrupt piece of foreign policy in the Trump presidency.

Over the weekend, I read the court transcripts of the first two days of the trial of former Trump Inaugural chair Tom Barrack, the Lebanese-American billionaire and Trump crony who has been charged with lobbying on behalf of the UAE without registering as a foreign agent (thereby profiting from his own investments with the UAE), obstruction of justice, and lying to the FBI.

Several fascinating takeaways:

• Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster are government witnesses—at least according to one of Barrack’s lawyers, Randall Jackson.

• Jackson also told the judge that the “key” to Barrack’s defense is a first-person eyewitness account of what actually happened behind the scenes regarding the Trump White House’s initial endorsement of the blockade of Qatar (the gulf state which houses the U.S. airbase Al Udeid) by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt.

Here’s what Jackson told the judge:

Here, the specifics of what each of the countries wanted to do is very, very particularized knowledge and in this case, it is -- the actual way those events played out is key to our defense. We are actually, as Mr. Schachter previewed in his opening statement, we're going to get into it in the course of this trial exactly what Mr. Barrack's position was as it relates to the Qatar blockade and exactly what was the position of various people within the White House. … [T]he particulars of that, Judge, are actually key to our defense.

Now, the story of what exactly happened regarding the U.S. support of the blockade of Qatar started in June 2017 is critical for what it ought to reveal—not just about Tom Barrack and his business interests in the region, but also the business interests of Jared Kushner and Donald Trump and how they conflicted with U.S. national security in the region.

Remember: According to my 2019 book, Kushner, Inc. Tillerson and former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis believed it was Kushner who gave the greenlight for the blockade—which occurred in June 2017, just days after the U.S. state visit to Saudi Arabia (the purpose of which, ostensibly, was to unite the Gulf states in their fight against terrorism).

According to multiple sources, Mattis, Tillerson and McMaster were horrified to discover that, in fact, the Saudis and Emiratis appeared to have a different agenda altogether: to diminish their wealthy rival Qatar with the newly gained support of the U.S.—or at least of its president and his son-in-law, Kushner, whose father, Charles Kushner, had just met with Qatar’s finance minister and been rejected after asking for a bailout on the Kushner’s troubled trophy building at 666 Fifth Avenue, which had a $1.4 billion loan on which the clock was ticking—and no buyers.

The problem with blockading Qatar, from a U.S. national security standpoint, was that Qatar is the home to the U.S.’s airbase in the region, Al-Udeid. When I was reporting Kushner, Inc., I was told that Trump did not actually realize this, nor was he aware that the blockade had happened until after the fact, which was why Tillerson and Mattis suspected Kushner as giving the Saudis and Emiratis the greenlight.

In his own memoir, Breaking History (which I reviewed last month), Kushner denies he supported the blockade, though he does acknowledge that Tillerson suspected him as the culprit, and he also says he knew of it in advance (which Tillerson and Mattis did not)—and tried to delay it.

Kushner also doesn’t mention the role of Tom Barrack in any of Kushner’s Middle East policy-making—even though it was Barrack who introduced Kushner to the UAE ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba and also to Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince. My sources have always said it was Barrack who supported bringing MBS to the White House in March 2017. According to the court transcripts, Barrack’s lawyer mentions the fact that Barrack was asked which entrance MBS (who was not yet then crown prince) should come through. (Barrack suggested the front door, but, in Kushner’s telling, the National Security Council staff wouldn’t let MBS drive up to the West Wing since he wasn’t technically head of state, so Kushner’s assistant Avi Berkowitz waited for him outside in the snow and then there was an issue with MBS’s paperwork and the Secret Service wouldn’t let him in until Kushner himself intervened.) It was also Barrack who, among others, encouraged the idea that the U.S. first state visit be to Saudi Arabia, rather than to a country with shared democratic values. But, as I reported, it was also Barrack who tried to intervene, in vain, on behalf of the Qataris, his chief investors, once the blockade of Qatar started.

Yet there’s only one mention of Barrack in Kushner’s entire book—which has nothing to do with the Middle East but is about helping a very young, pre-White House Kushner solve an early problem with 666 Fifth Avenue. Kushner quotes Barrack as saying something unctuous (Kushner quotes a lot of people as saying something unctuous about him) and helping him, rather than hurting him, with 666 Fifth Avenue.

It makes sense that the government would bring in McMaster and Tillerson as witnesses against Barrack. According to my eyewitness sources, both men, along with Mattis, were extraordinarily concerned about the national security threat of the blockade of Qatar and no doubt will talk about it and how they felt double-crossed by the Emiratis and Saudis when it happened. (It’s in the interest of the government prosecutors to paint the UAE as hostile to the U.S.—a tactic I’m told has not gone over well in the UAE, where they feel they are on trial rather than Barrack because, in their view, the government doesn’t have enough evidence to convict Barrack.)

But if Barrack’s defense is serious about painting a picture of whose allegiances were where and the real motivations of the top people in the White House regarding the blockade of Qatar, then—in addition to McMaster and Tillerson—Mattis, Kushner, Trump, Dina Powell, Steven Mnuchin, and Charles Kushner should all be called. Let’s hear all sides of this misadventure in the Middle East. It is, in my view, the single most dangerous and possibly self-interested corrupt piece of foreign policy in the entire Trump presidency.

Sept. 26

 

U.S. House Jan. 6 insurrection investigating committee members Liz Cheney (R-WY), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Jamie Raskie (D-MD) are shown, left to right, in a file photo.U.S. House Jan. 6 insurrection investigating committee members Liz Cheney (R-WY), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Jamie Raskie (D-MD) are shown, left to right, in a file photo.

 

Roger Stone watches news coverage of the Capitol riot in his suite at the Willard hotel on Jan. 6, 2021 (Photo by Kristin M. Davis.)

Roger Stone watches news coverage of the Capitol riot in his suite at the Willard hotel on Jan. 6, 2021 2021 (Photo by Kristin M. Davis.).

washington post logoWashington Post, Jan. 6 committee hearing will use clips from Roger Stone documentary, Dalton Bennett, Jon Swaine and Jacqueline Alemany,  Sept. 26, 2022. The committee is considering including video clips in which Stone, a longtime adviser to Donald Trump, predicted violent clashes and forecast that the president would use armed guards and loyal judges to stay in power. The Danish filmmakers, who previously were hesitant to cooperate with the investigation, said this week they decided to comply with a subpoena issued by the committee .

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob intends to show at its hearing this week video footage of Roger Stone recorded by Danish filmmakers during the weeks before the violence, according to people familiar with the matter.

The committee is considering including video clips in which Stone, a longtime friend and adviser of Donald Trump, predicted violent clashes with left-wing activists and forecast months before the 2020 vote that the then-president would use armed guards and loyal judges to stay in power, according to one of the people familiar with hearing planning.

The Washington Post revealed in March that the Copenhagen-based filmmakers had recorded footage of Stone as they followed him for extended periods between 2019 and 2021. They were at his side as Stone traveled to Washington for the “Stop the Steal” rallies that spilled into violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Their film on Stone, “A Storm Foretold,” is expected to be released later this year.
Stone resurrects "Stop the Steal."

The selection of clips for Wednesday’s hearing has not yet been finalized, according to people familiar with the committee’s planning. But thematically they are likely to focus on how Stone, former Trump chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and other associates of the president planned on declaring victory regardless of the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, one of the people said.

Axios Sneak Peek: 1 big thing: Mark Meadows' inbox, Alayna Treene, Hans Nichols and Zachary Basu, Sept. 26, 2022. Between Nov. 3, 2020, and President Biden's inauguration, Mark Meadows' cellphone became a key channel for dozens of elected officials as well private citizens to convey outlandish conspiracy theories and last-ditch ideas to overturn the election, Axios' Sophia Cai reports.

axios logoDriving the news: A new book by former Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) — an ex-adviser to the Jan. 6 committee — claims that former President Trump's chief of staff received texts from 39 House members and five U.S. senators.

The Breach cites texts from GOP lawmakers to paint a picture of how invested many were in Trump's effort to overturn the election. The book, which has not been authorized by the committee, is set for release tomorrow and was obtained in advance by Axios. Riggleman left his position as a senior technical adviser to the committee in April.

Why it matters: The Meadows texts are the "crown jewels" that "gave us keys to the kingdom," Riggleman writes.

The timing of the book's release gives it a narrow window to impact the committee's work and the public's understanding.
Mark MeadowsWednesday's hearing is perhaps the last public one before the release of a final report on the committee's findings and recommendations.

Details: The book reveals Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) sent Meadows, right, a forwarded note from North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley, who shared his own idea for a "last-ditch effort" to demand statewide recounts of absentee and mail-in ballots in crucial states.

Other examples:

Meadows received texts in late 2020 from Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) about "dead voters" and Dominion voting machines. Riggleman notes that one of Gosar’s texts included a link to a movie about "cyber warfare" from an anti-vaccine conspiracy blog called "Some Bitch Told Me."

On Nov. 5, 2020, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) touted his experience as an attorney and offered to come to the White House, to which Meadows responded: "Most of this is being handled at the campaign. Would love your help and would love you going on TV."

Republican Reps. Chip Roy and Brian Babin, both of Texas, also reached out to Meadows for direction on how to challenge the election on the morning of Nov. 5.

Between the lines: Riggleman's headline-grabbing book and accompanying media tour have rankled some members of the committee, which has sought to downplay his insight into the panel's investigation.

"I am an intelligence officer by training," Riggleman writes in the book's introduction. "There is nothing more valuable than raw data. ... I am not asking you to like me or even to trust me. I want to let the data do the talking."

Axios Situational awareness: The National Archives has been asked to notify the House Oversight Committee by tomorrow whether any documents from the Trump White House are still unaccounted for, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Palmer Report, Analysis: DOJ files writ of replevin against Trump co-conspirator Peter Navarro, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 26, 2022. The bill palmerDOJ has filed a writ of replevin against Peter Navarro, forcing him to immediately return government property that he’s illegally possessing. This new “replevin” filing should be a real nightmare for Navarro, given that he’s previously shown he doesn’t even know what “redacted” means.

bill palmer report logo headerBut in all seriousness, legally speaking, this filing is a big deal. For those thinking this means Navarro might have stolen classified documents, the DOJ filing instead refers to government emails, which the DOJ considers Navarro to be illegal possessing. That’s more boring than espionage, but still clear Navarro is in real trouble.

For those demanding to know when the DOJ is finally going to indict Peter Navarro, let’s not forget the DOJ has already invited Peter Navarro for contempt, and he’s awaiting trial. The DOJ is clearly looking to bring more serious charges against him and his co-conspirators.

This DOJ filing also states that Navarro has previously demanded immunity in exchange for turning over his government emails, which the DOJ has obviously rejected. This suggests the emails incriminate Navarro rather severely, beyond the current contempt charge, and that Navarro is looking to avoid prison. But it sounds like the DOJ is just going to take the emails from Navarro by force, leaving him with no leverage, and only the option of flipping on Trump if he wants immunity.

“But what if Navarro just deletes the emails?” For one thing, deleted emails are rarely actually gone. And if he did delete the emails after he learned that the government wanted them, that would be felony obstruction, helping ensure Navarro ends up in prison. In such case Navarro would go down for obstruction and contempt – and those kinds of charges start to add up for a 73 year old guy. So if he has deleted them, then he’ll really have to flip on Trump to avoid prison.

This doesn’t mean Navarro will flip on Trump. He’d have to be an idiot not to flip, but on the other hand, he is an idiot. So we’ll see. But Navarro now has only two choices, flip on Trump or rot in prison. He’ll have to live with whatever choice he makes. If Navarro doesn’t flip, others will.

washington post logoWashington Post, Biden and Trump appear headed for a historically rare rematch in 2024, Matt Viser, Sept. 26, 2022. Biden and Trump appear to be nudging each other into a rare face-off between a sitting president and the predecessor he unseated.

President Biden was at a Democratic reception in Maryland a few weeks ago when his rhetoric turned toward an increasingly frequent topic — “what Trump is doing and the Trumpers are doing.” An audience member called out, “Lock him up!,” and Biden went on to cite “the new polls showing me beating Trump by six or eight points.”

A few days earlier, former president Donald Trump was at a rally in Pennsylvania when he, too, turned toward a frequent topic: “We’re leading Biden … by record numbers in the polls.” He said three times, with growing enthusiasm, “So I may just have to do it again!”

The country seems to be barreling toward a rematch that few voters actually want, but that two presidents — one current, one former — cannot stop talking about. Biden and Trump both say they are planning to make their decisions in the coming months, but with a lingering codependency between them, they each appear to be nudging the other into what would be a rare faceoff between the same two candidates four years apart.

Sept. 24

 

 

anika collier navaroli marlena sloss washington post

Whistleblower Anika Collier Navaroli, a policy official on the team designing Twitter's content moderation rules who spoke exclusively with the Washington Post, said Twitter's complacency toward then-President Donald Trump led to disastrous consequences (Photo by Marlena Sloss for The Washington Post).

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Jan. 6 Twitter witness: Failure to curb Trump spurred ‘terrifying’ choice, Drew Harwell, Sept. 24, 2022 (print ed.). In an explosive hearing in July, an unidentified former Twitter employee testified to the House Jan. 6 committee that the company had tolerated false and rule-breaking tweets from Donald Trump for years because executives knew their service was his “favorite and most-twitter bird Customused … and enjoyed having that sort of power.”

Now, in an exclusive interview with The Washington Post, the whistleblower, Anika Collier Navaroli, reveals the terror she felt about coming forward and how eventually that fear was overcome by her worry that extremism and political disinformation on social media pose an “imminent threat not just to American democracy, but to the societal fabric of our planet.”

“I realize that by being who I am and doing what I’m doing, I’m opening myself and my family to extreme risk,” Navaroli said. “It’s terrifying. This has been one of the most isolating times of my life.”

“I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t believe the truth matters,” she said of her testimony to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.

Twitter banned Trump two days after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, citing fears he could incite further violence. By that time, he had sent more than 56,000 tweets over 12 years, many of which included lies and baseless accusations about election fraud. One month earlier, he had tweeted, “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Sept. 22

 

 

djt hands open amazon safe

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Inside Joke That Became Trump’s Big Lie, Carlos Lozada, Sept. 22, 2022. Donald Trump’s so-called big lie is not big because of its brazen dishonesty or its widespread influence or its unyielding grip over the Republican Party. It is not even big because of its ambition — to delegitimize a presidency, disenfranchise millions of voters, clap back against reality. No, the lie that Donald Trump won the 2020 election has grown so powerful because it is yoked to an older deception, without which it could not survive: the idea that American politics is, in essence, a joke, and that it can be treated as such without consequence.

The big lie depends on the big joke. It was enabled by it. It was enhanced by it. It is sustained by it.

When politicians publicly defend positions they privately reject, they are telling the joke. When they give up on the challenge of governing the country for the rush of triggering the enemy, they are telling the joke. When they intone that they must address the very fears they have encouraged or manufactured among their constituents, they are telling the joke. When their off-the-record smirks signal that they don’t really mean what they just said or did, they are telling the joke. As the big lie spirals ever deeper into unreality, with the former president mixing election falsehoods with call-outs to violent, conspiratorial fantasies, the big joke has much to answer for.

Recent books like Why We Did It: A Travelogue From the Republican Road to Hell by a former Republican operative and campaign consultant, Tim Miller, and Thank You for Your Servitude: Donald Trump’s Washington and the Price of Submission by The Atlantic’s Mark Leibovich place this long-running gag at the center of American politics. The big joke drains language of meaning, divorces action from responsibility and enables all manner of lies. “Getting the joke” means understanding that nothing you say need be true, that nobody expects it to be true — at least nobody in the know. “The truth of this scam, or ‘joke,’ was fully evident inside the club,” Leibovich writes. “We’re all friends here. Everyone knew the secret handshake, spoke the native language, and got the joke.”

Without the big joke, the big lie would not merit its adjective. Its challenge to democracy would be ephemeral, not existential.

The chroniclers of Donald Trump’s election lie typically seek out an origin story, a choose-your-own adventure that always leads to the Capitol steps on Jan. 6, 2021. In his book, The Big Lie: Election Chaos, Political Opportunism, and the State of American Politics After 2020, Politico’s Jonathan Lemire pinpoints an August 2016 campaign rally in Columbus, Ohio, during which Trump first suggested that the contest against Hillary Clinton would be rigged against him. This, Lemire writes, was when “the seeds of the big lie had been planted.”

Carlos Lozada became a New York Times Opinion columnist in September 2022, after 17 years as an editor and book critic at The Washington Post. He is the author of “What Were We Thinking: A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era” and the winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for criticism. @CarlosNYT

Politico, Top Meta exec Clegg to decide whether to reinstate Trump on Facebook, Rebecca Kern, Sept. 22, 2022. Nick Clegg gave no indication which way he plans to decide — but said he will make the decision by Jan. 7, 2023.

politico CustomMeta’s top policy executive Nick Clegg will be the one to decide whether to reinstate former president Donald Trump’s account in January 2023, he said Thursday.

meta logoClegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, said whether to extend Trump’s two-year suspension is “a decision I oversee and I drive,” at an event held in Washington by Semafor, a news organization.

“It’s not a capricious decision,” he said. “We will look at the signals related to real-world harm to make a decision whether at the two-year point — which is early January next year — whether Trump gets reinstated to the platform.”

Clegg added that he would consult with CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Meta’s board of directors. He said Zuckerberg is focused on building the virtual Metaverse, while Clegg is responsible for the implementation and enforcement of broad policy issues.

Political significance: Clegg gave no indication which way he plans to decide — but said he will make the decision by Jan. 7, 2023.

“We’ll talk to the experts, we’ll talk to third parties, we will try to assess what we think the implications will be of bringing Trump back onto the platform,” Clegg said.

facebook logo“I’m very mindful that if you have this significant ability to take decisions which affect the public realm as a private sector company you need to act with great caution and reticence, you shouldn’t throw your weight about,” Clegg, a former deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom, said. “American democracy is not our democracy — it’s your democracy.”

Not fact-checking political speech: Clegg said Trump could be suspended again if he is allowed back on the platform but then consistently violates the platform’s policies.

But Clegg reiterated Meta’s position that it will not fact-check politicians’ or candidates’ speech on its platforms. He said it’s not Meta’s role to determine what is true and false.

“It’s not about truth and lies,” he said. “Political speech is not an exercise in scientific accuracy. Politicians are there to sketch out a visual of what they want to see — they’re not there to provide statistical precision.”

“We do not want to get in the way of what politicians say about each other or themselves,” he said. “We are not here to interfere — that’s a sort of sacred part of the democratic process.”

Sept. 21

 

News conference by New York Attorney General Letita James, center. Although the lawsuit against Donald J. Trump cannot include criminal charges, the former president could face substantial financial penalties (Photo by Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times).News conference by New York Attorney General Letita James, center. Although the lawsuit against Donald J. Trump cannot include criminal charges, the former president could face substantial financial penalties (Photo by Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times).

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: New York Attorney General Unveils Lawsuit Against Trump, Jonah E. Bromwich, William K. Rashbaum and Ben Protess, Sept. 21, 2022. Accuses Him of ‘Staggering’ Fraud. Letitia James accused former President Trump and his family business of fraudulently overvaluing his assets by billions of dollars in a sprawling scheme.

Donald J. Trump, his family business and three of his adult children lied to lenders and insurers for more than a decade, fraudulently overvaluing his assets by billions of dollars in a sprawling scheme, according to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday by the New York attorney general, Letitia James, who is seeking to bar the Trumps from ever running a business in the state again.

Ms. James concluded that Mr. Trump and his family business violated several state criminal laws and “plausibly” broke federal criminal laws as well. Her office, which in this case lacks authority to file criminal charges, referred the findings to federal prosecutors in Manhattan; it was not immediately clear whether the U.S. attorney would investigate.

The 220-page lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, lays out in new and startling detail how, according to Ms. James, Mr. Trump’s annual financial statements were a compendium of lies. The statements, yearly records that include the company’s estimated value of his holdings and debts, wildly inflated the worth of nearly every one of his marquee properties — from Mar-a-Lago in Florida to Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street in Manhattan, according to the lawsuit.

The company also routinely spurned the assessments of outside experts: After a bank ordered an appraisal that found 40 Wall Street was worth $200 million, the Trumps promptly valued it at well over twice that number. Overall, the lawsuit said that 11 of Mr. Trump’s annual financial statements included more than 200 false and misleading asset valuations.

“The number of grossly inflated asset values is staggering, affecting most if not all of the real estate holdings in any given year,” according to the lawsuit. Ms. James, a Democrat who is running for re-election, filed the lawsuit, which comes just weeks after the former president refused to answer hundreds of questions under oath in an interview with Ms. James’s office.

Mr. Trump has long used his net worth to construct a public persona as a self-made billionaire, an image that underpinned his initial run for the White House. But, according to Ms. James, he had a financial motivation for inflating his property values.

His company, the Trump Organization, provided the fraudulent financial statements to lenders and insurers, her suit said, “to obtain beneficial financial terms,” including lower interest rates and lower premiums. All told, Ms. James said, he was able to obtain a quarter of a billion dollars in ill-gotten gains, money that she now wants the company to forfeit.

Lawyers for Mr. Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ms. James, who has become one of Mr. Trump’s primary antagonists, is looking to extract a steep price from the former president and his company. Her lawsuit asks a judge to appoint an independent monitor to oversee the company’s financial practices, while ousting the Trumps from the leadership of their own family business; Ms. James also wants to prevent the family from acquiring real estate in New York for five years in order to preclude the company from reinventing itself in Florida while expanding its New York operations.

If she is successful, Mr. Trump — as well as his children who are named as defendants, Eric, Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. — will also be permanently barred from serving as officers or directors in any New York company, essentially chasing them out of the state. While Ms. James stopped short of trying to dissolve the Trump Organization altogether, she wants to shut down at least some of his New York operations.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Allen Weisselberg’s guilty plea suddenly looms large, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 21, 2022. Allen bill palmerWeisselberg’s recent guilty plea looms larger now. Cooperation deal or not, his guilty plea removes 5th amendment protections for these specific crimes, and requires him to testify in federal criminal probes that result from the criminal referrals Letitia James made today.

This isn’t some trick, or some contrarian idea. It’s simply standard procedure how these things work. Without a cooperation deal, Weisselberg cannot be forced to testify about additional crimes that he and Trump committed together, which go beyond bill palmer report logo headerthe ones he pleaded guilty to. But when it comes to the specific crimes that he did plead guilty to, he has to testify. His lawyers certainly explained this to him when he was deciding to plead guilty.

Weisselberg can refuse to comply, but in such case he’d be charged with obstruction and do a lot more prison time than what he got in his deal. And if he testifies but lies to try to protect Trump, he’ll get charged with perjury, and once again do more time.

We’ll see if Weisselberg goes through with testifying to various prosecutors about the crimes that he just pleaded guilty to having committed with Donald Trump, so that he can stick with the charitable five month prison sentence he’s been given, or if Weisselberg ends up being too wimpy to testify against Trump and decides to spend a lot more time in prison instead. That’ll be his choice. But now that Letitia James is making federal criminal referrals that overlap with the things that Weisselberg is on the hook for testifying about, it’s worth watching.

Former FBI Special Agent Babak Broumand is accused of helping corrupt attorney Edgar Sargsyan avoid “law enforcement detection and monitoring” through a bribery scheme that provided secret information in exchange for cash and gifts, including escorts and a Ducati motorcycle, according to a trial memorandum from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Sept. 20

 

eric herschmann senate tv via getty

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Was Warned Late Last Year of Potential Legal Peril Over Documents, Maggie Haberman, Sept. 20, 2022 (print ed.). A former White House lawyer sought to impress on former President Trump the seriousness of the issue and the potential for legal exposure.

A onetime White House lawyer under President Donald J. Trump warned him late last year that Mr. Trump could face legal liability if he did not return government materials he had taken with him when he left office, three people familiar with the matter said.

The lawyer, Eric Herschmann, shown above on Senate television defending the president during an impeachment trial, sought to impress upon Mr. Trump the seriousness of the issue and the potential for investigations and legal exposure if he did not return the documents, particularly any classified material, the people said.

The account of the conversation is the latest evidence that Mr. Trump had been informed of the legal perils of holding onto material that is now at the heart of a Justice Department criminal investigation into his handling of the documents and the possibility that he or his aides engaged in obstruction.

In January, not long after the discussion with Mr. Herschmann, Mr. Trump turned over to the National Archives 15 boxes of material he had taken with him from the White House. Those boxes turned out to contain 184 classified documents, the Justice Department has said.

Palmer Report, Analysis: The odds of Donald Trump being criminally indicted just went through the roof, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 20, 2022. Once Donald bill palmerTrump’s special master stunt finishes quickly failing, he’ll have to start working on actual trial defenses with the expectation of being indicted. One of Trump’s best trial defenses would probably be that he was too clueless to know that he wasn’t allowed to have the classified documents he took. No one really believes this, but it’s a question of reasonable doubt. The bad news for Trump is that this defense just got fully wiped out.

bill palmer report logo headerLast year, former Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann told Trump that he was breaking the law by possessing those documents and advised him to return them, according to a new report from the New York Times. Why is this important? When a lawyer (particularly one who used to work with you) informs you that you’re committing a crime by keeping something in your possession, and you continue to keep it in your possession anyway, it proves that you know you’re possessing it illegally. Yet Trump continued to keep the documents for another year after that.

It’s previously been reported that Herschmann testified against Trump to a DOJ grand jury, which means the DOJ already has Herschmann’s testimony about having informed Trump that he was committing crimes. This is the kind of thing that will help make sure Trump is actually convicted at trial, because now he can’t just play dumb to the jury and pretend he’s too stupid to understand how classified documents work.

We’re not the only ones who see it that way. Legal expert Laurence Tribe responded to the news by tweeting that an “Espionage Act indictment of Trump not long after the midterms seems all but inevitable.” The DOJ likes to keep building its case until it has enough in hand to make a conviction a near certainty. Herschmann’s testimony puts that over the top.

Sept. 19

Palmer Report, Analysis: Special Master Dearie quickly holds Donald Trump’s feet to the fire, as Trump’s stunt backfires, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 19, bill palmer2022. For some reason Donald Trump and his attorneys thought that Judge Raymond Dearie, who has been a federal judge since the 1980s and has a reputation and career to protect, would somehow be a favorable special master pick for them. Trump and his team are quickly finding out that things don’t work that way.

bill palmer report logo headerSpecial Master Dearie is already ordering Trump to provide evidence that he had actually declassified any of the documents that were seized from his home. This corners Trump, because he’s been trying to take the position that he blanket declassified every document he ever touched, without providing any evidence of this. Not surprisingly, Trump’s team has filed a response to Dearie, saying it doesn’t want to provide any such evidence because it might need it for its eventual criminal defense.

raymond dearieThis essentially means that Trump is going to lose, and he’s going to lose quickly. This Special Master, right, is going to turn around and say that since Trump can’t provide any evidence these documents were declassified, they’re outside the Special Master’s purview, and therefore his work is done.

Trump will probably end up asking his pet judge to ditch this Special Master and appoint another one. But by that time the Court of Appeals will have seized control of the entire thing anyway, and it’ll be out of the hands of Trump’s pet judge. It took Trump six years to find just one of his appointed judges who was willing to set herself on fire for Trump’s sake, and now Trump has burned that judge in a way that bought him, what, a week? What a waste. Trump’s got nothing.

Sept. 18

washington post logoWashington Post, Book Review: Former U.S. attorney dishes on how he held line against Trump White House, Barbara McQuade, Sept. 18, 2022 (print ed.). In detailing his ouster from the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman says former attorney general William Barr "was desperate," cites Barr's interference in other investigations.

geoffrey berman sdnyWhen then-Attorney General William Barr bungled the firing of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, right, in 2020, we all knew there was more to the story.

Now, in his new book, Holding the Line: Inside the Nation’s Preeminent US Attorney’s Office and Its Battle with the Trump Justice Department, Berman dishes on that clumsy episode and on a range of conflicts with the Department of Justice during his tenure leading the Southern District of New York. Berman names the former DOJ officials who exerted political pressure that he found inappropriate, including Edward O’Callaghan and Jeffrey Rosen. Ultimately, Berman was ousted for the sin of refusing to obey what he believed to be partisan DOJ leadership. “The Department of Justice was not a private law firm dedicated to the president’s personal interests,” he writes, “and it was shameful when they operated as if they were.”

Justice Department log circularWith the storytelling skills of a trial lawyer, Berman describes the episode in which Barr summoned him to Manhattan’s Pierre hotel, “a swanky place where even standard rooms can cost a thousand bucks a night or more.” Barr told Berman that he wanted to replace him at the Southern District of New York (SDNY) with Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Barr even offered Berman a job he apparently thought would be an enticing sweetener: head of the DOJ’s civil division, which represents the United States in all civil lawsuits — a big job but far from the criminal fray. With that job, Barr told Berman, he could “attract clients and build a book of business” for whenever Berman left the DOJ for the private sector. Only after offering him the job did Barr ask whether Berman had any experience in civil law, revealing that the attorney general was not always concerned with the best interests of the department he was entrusted to lead.

Though Berman refused to resign, Barr still issued a news release announcing that Berman was “stepping down” and that, until President Donald Trump could nominate Clayton, the Southern District of New York would be led by Craig Carpenito, the U.S. attorney for New Jersey. Barr bypassed Berman’s deputy, Audrey Strauss, the presumptive choice to serve as acting U.S. attorney. Berman responded with a news release of his own, noting that he was not resigning. His main goal, he writes in “Holding the Line,” was to preserve the office’s independence. The next day, Barr backed down on Carpenito and inserted Strauss into the role of acting head of the office. With Strauss in place, Berman agreed to resign. He concludes: “The truth was that Barr was desperate to get me out of the job I was in, and it was not to put a better US attorney in place. The reasons were perfectly obvious. They were based in politics.”

geoffrey berman bookBerman knew all along that he was living on borrowed time at the SDNY, given his numerous run-ins with the DOJ over what he thought were inappropriate orders from department officials. In one episode that predated Barr’s tenure as attorney general, Berman was investigating Gregory Craig, a former White House counsel for President Barack Obama, for potential violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. About two months before the 2018 midterm elections, O’Callaghan called Berman and told him to indict Craig and to do so before Election Day. Berman’s office had recently filed charges in separate cases against a Republican congressman and Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen. According to Berman, O’Callaghan had engaged in a heated exchange with the SDNY over the reference in the Cohen indictment to “Individual-1,” which, in context, was an unmistakable reference to Trump. Berman had refused demands to remove it. Now, O’Callaghan said of the Craig case, “It’s time for you guys to even things out.” Berman’s office ultimately declined prosecution. The DOJ sent the case to the D.C. U.S. attorney’s office, which filed the charges. Craig was acquitted at trial.

Berman reserves his strongest criticism for Barr, calling him a bully and his behavior “thuggish.” Upon taking office, Barr tried to “kill” the Southern District’s investigations relating to the campaign finance crimes to which Cohen had pleaded guilty. The reference in plea documents to “Individual-1” made it apparent that Trump faced potential criminal exposure in this investigation. Barr even discussed dismissing Cohen’s conviction in the same way he would later dismiss the false-statements charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn. In both cases, the defendants had pleaded guilty in open court.

Berman’s book provides a cautionary tale about how political forces can undermine the quest for justice. He’s concerned that power has become centralized in Washington, providing an opportunity for politics to influence decisions. To protect the independence of the 94 U.S. attorney’s offices, he offers some suggestions for reform. For example, he recommends prohibiting DOJ leadership from granting requests by defense counsel to overrule charging decisions made by U.S. attorneys. He further suggests forbidding the DOJ from shopping cases to other districts after they have been declined for prosecution by a U.S. attorney. He also proposes to eliminate prior-approval requirements that U.S. attorneys’ offices must obtain from the DOJ for sensitive investigative steps.

Fortunately, most U.S. attorneys know that their job is to exercise independent judgment and to refuse to take action based on politics. Berman reminds us that to do the job right, you must be willing to resign.

Or in some cases, refuse to do so.

Barbara McQuade is a law professor at the University of Michigan Law School and the former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

 

Anti-Trump Womens March on Washington, Jan. 21 2017 (Photo by Jim Fry via Twitter and the Voice of America).

Anti-Trump Womens March on Washington, Jan. 21 2017 (Photo by Jim Fry via Twitter and the Voice of America).

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: How Russian Trolls Helped Keep the Women’s March Out of Lock Step, Ellen Barry, Sept. 18, 2022. As American feminists came together in 2017 to protest Donald Trump, Russia’s disinformation machine set about deepening the divides among them.

Linda Sarsour awoke on Jan. 23, 2017, logged onto the internet, and felt sick.

The weekend before, she had stood in Washington at the head of the Women’s March, a mobilization against President Donald J. Trump that surpassed all expectations. Crowds had begun forming before dawn, and by the time she climbed up onto the stage, they extended farther than the eye could see.

More than four million people around the United States had taken part, experts later estimated, placing it among the largest single-day protests in the nation’s history.

But then something shifted, seemingly overnight. What she saw on Twitter that Monday was a torrent of focused grievance that targeted her. In 15 years as an activist, largely advocating for the rights of Muslims, she had faced pushback, but this was of a different magnitude. A question began to form in her mind: Do they really hate me that much?

That morning, there were things going on that Ms. Sarsour could not imagine.

More than 4,000 miles away, organizations linked to the Russian government had assigned teams to the Women’s March. At desks in bland offices in St. Petersburg, using models derived from advertising and public relations, copywriters were testing out social media messages critical of the Women’s March movement, adopting the personas of fictional Americans.

They posted as Black women critical of white feminism, conservative women who felt excluded, and men who mocked participants as hairy-legged whiners. But one message performed better with audiences than any other.

It singled out an element of the Women’s March that might, at first, have seemed like a detail: Among its four co-chairs was Ms. Sarsour, a Palestinian American activist whose hijab marked her as an observant Muslim.

Over the 18 months that followed, Russia’s troll factories and its military intelligence service put a sustained effort into discrediting the movement by circulating damning, often fabricated narratives around Ms. Sarsour, whose activism made her a lightning rod for Mr. Trump’s base and also for some of his most ardent opposition.

One hundred and fifty-two different Russian accounts produced material about her. Public archives of Twitter accounts known to be Russian contain 2,642 tweets about Ms. Sarsour, many of which found large audiences, according to an analysis by Advance Democracy Inc., a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts public-interest research and investigations.

 

chris doworth left matt gaetz joel greenberg resized facebook

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL, at center, former Florida State Rep. Chris Dorworth, left, then of the Ballard Partners lobbying firm, and former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, at right, posed for the photograph above outside the White House in June of 2019.

Palmer Report, Opinion: The real reason Matt Gaetz hasn’t been indicted (yet), Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 18, 2022. Why hasn’t Matt Gaetz been indicted bill palmeryet? We keep hearing pundit chatter about how it’s due to the “60 day rule” about not indicting a candidate close to election day – but that’s not what’s going on here. The DOJ has reportedly had three cooperating witnesses against him for several months. This means he could have been indicted months ago.

bill palmer report logo headerWe’re currently 52 days from the election, which means the “60 day rule” didn’t even kick in until last week. All you have to do is look at a calendar to see that it’s not the reason Gaetz hasn’t been indicted. And if the DOJ had dropped the Gaetz case, it would have told him by now, and he’d be bragging about it nonstop. So the only reason for the DOJ to have sat on a ready-to-go Gaetz indictment for months is that it’s part of an ongoing probe involving bigger fish than Gaetz.

So who’s the bigger fish? Another Florida politician involved in the sex trafficking scandal? Or is it a bigger fish in a different aspect of the Gaetz probe? He’s being investigated for alleged misuse of campaign funds as well, along with other things. Gaetz is also likely a material witness to various crimes that Donald Trump committed, which is probably what the holdup is really about.

Keep in mind, Gaetz being indicted is not the ideal outcome here. The ideal outcome is Gaetz cutting a cooperation deal against Trump. The Feds are known to keep digging up criminal dirt on smaller fish to ratchet up the pressure for them to flip on bigger fish.

If Gaetz isn’t yet inclined to flip on Trump, and the DOJ indicts Gaetz anyway, then he’ll just double down and go to trial, which will take a couple years, and he’ll never be of any value in the case against Trump, because the Trump case will have long played out by the time Gaetz is convicted and realizes he should have flipped.

Sept. 15

Politico, Judge rejects DOJ bid to delay Mar-a-Lago ruling, appoints special master, Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, Sept. 15, 2022. Aileen Cannon appointed Raymond Dearie, a senior judge in the Eastern District of New York, to lead an independent review of the seized materials.

U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon on Thursday rejected a Justice Department demand to permit federal prosecutors to continue their review of records marked classified that were recovered from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

politico CustomIn her ruling, Cannon refused to accept DOJ officials’ contention that the records they are attempting to review as part of an ongoing criminal investigation remain highly classified or contain extraordinarily sensitive defense information that could damage national security if released.

“The Court does not find it appropriate to accept the Government’s conclusions on these important and disputed issues without further review by a neutral third party in an expedited and orderly fashion,” the Trump appointee wrote in her 10-page ruling.

aileen cannonCannon, right, instead appointed Raymond Dearie, below left, a senior judge in Brooklyn, N.Y., to lead an independent review of the seized materials. He was one of two potential special masters proposed by the Trump team and prosecutors said they found him acceptable even though he was not one of their initial picks.

In a signed filing, Dearie accepted the task. Cannon urged him to complete his review by Nov. 30 — more than a month after the Oct. 17 deadline DOJ had asked raymond dearieCannon to set.

The Justice Department had previously appealed Cannon’s order to appoint a special master and had indicated it would seek relief from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals if she did not agree to delay aspects of her ruling by Thursday night. The Justice Department contended that her decision had harmed national security, preventing intelligence community officials from reviewing the seized records, and was blocking the public’s urgent interest in pursuing evidence of crimes.

The ruling is another setback for federal prosecutors, who have expressed alarm at the extraordinarily sensitive records they found in boxes intermingled with Trump’s personal items in his Mar-a-Lago storage room, as well as some recovered from his office. DOJ has warned that Cannon’s Sept. 5 order — which enjoined the Justice Department from furthering its criminal review of the documents seized by FBI agents from Mar-a-Lago in August — had also disrupted a parallel risk assessment of those documents by the intelligence community. Though Cannon allowed that review to continue, DOJ emphasized that her order had sown confusion within the Executive Branch.

In one nod to the Justice Department, Cannon ordered Trump to shoulder the full cost of Dearie’s review, as well as any staff or associates he hires.

Cannon also clarified certain steps DOJ could take to further its criminal investigation even while the documents remained off-limits, such as “questioning witnesses and obtaining other information about the movement and storage of seized materials, including documents marked as classified, without discussion of their contents.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump warns of ‘big problems’ if indicted, says he’d still run for office, Azi Paybarah, Sept. 16, 2022 (print ed.). Former president Donald Trump warned that if he were indicted on a charge of mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House, there would be “problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen before.”

Trump, speaking Thursday to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, added, “I don’t think the people of the United States would stand for it.”

Hewitt, who is also a contributing columnist for The Washington Post, then noted that critics would describe the comment as inciting violence, and he asked Trump to respond to the claim. “That’s not inciting — I’m just saying what my opinion is. I don’t think the people of this country would stand for it,” Trump said.

FBI logoWhen pressed by Hewitt, Trump said he thought there would be “big problems, big problems.”

Federal agents conducted a court-authorized search of Trump’s club and residence Aug. 8, as part of a long-running investigation into whether government documents — some of which are classified — were being stored at Mar-a-Lago instead of returned to the National Archives.

The FBI probe is the latest legal pressure on Trump, who now faces growing scrutiny as the criminal probe intensifies. The investigation is looking into whether he or his former aides took classified government documents and improperly stored or never returned them. Trump’s lawyer has argued that the former president cooperated with federal authorities and that many of the documents were covered by executive privilege.

In January 2021, the House impeached Trump on a single charge of “incitement of insurrection” for his role in whipping up a crowd of his supporters to stop Congress from the counting of electoral college votes for Joe Biden. A mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to stop the count, an attack that resulted in five deaths and injuries to dozens of members of law enforcement.

Trump’s comments Thursday came hours before officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security briefed Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee about threats against federal officials. After the briefing, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), the committee’s chairman, described Trump’s rhetoric as dangerous.

“Inviting the mob to return to the streets is exactly what happened here on January 6th, 2021,” Durbin told reporters. After noting that five people died as a result of the attack and 149 law enforcement agents were injured that day, the senator said Trump’s “careless and inflammatory rhetoric has its consequences.”

In the interview with Hewitt, Trump also said he “would have no prohibition against running” for office if he were indicted. “It would not take you out of the arena,” Hewitt said, trying to clarify the former president’s position. Trump replied, “It would not.”

Trump repeatedly has hinted at another run for the presidency in 2024.

Proof, Investigative Commentary: DOJ Investigating Ties Between the FBI and the Kremlin Agent Behind 2016 Trump-Russia Collusion; Jared Kushner May Also Be Implicated, Seth seth abramson graphicAbramson, left, Sept. 15, 2022. A new Insider report is here expanded upon by Proof to reveal a potentially harrowing triangle linking Trump’s lead agent in Trump-Russia collusion, Putin’s lead agent in the same events, and the FBI.

Introduction: The oft-maligned collation of raw intel known as the Steele Dossier, once advertised as “70%” accurate by its curator, Christopher Steele—who said from the outset that his unprocessed data required additional work by U.S. intelligence agents—has so far proven to be about one-third accurate, one-third inaccurate, and one-third unproven, though with each passing year this last third moves closer and closer to falling under “accurate.”

seth abramson proof logoTo hear the Dossier tell it, the two lead agents for Donald Trump in colluding with the Kremlin in 2015 and 2016—which we know Trump did, in secretly negotiating (through Michael Cohen) the most lucrative business deal of his life with the Kremlin, the Trump Tower Moscow deal, throughout the entirety of his 2016 presidential run, and thereafter overseeing a political operation that sent confidential election-related data (through Paul Manafort) to Vladimir Putin’s chief civilian agent doing business in America, Oleg Deripaska—were, well, the men I just said: Cohen and Manafort.

(Along with Trump himself, of course, as the candidate publicly asked the Kremlin’s hackers to hack on his behalf, which they began doing the same day—as requested.)

But at least as to Paul Manafort, this is all a bit misleading. Manafort was in fact under contract with Kremlin agent Deripaska to work as an agent of the Kremlin for the entirety of the time Manafort was allegedly working pro bono for Trump—a contract that had begun in 2005, just before Manafort suddenly moved into Trump Tower and renewed his by-then decades-long friendship with Trump—placing it somewhere between dubious and flat-out wrong to suggest Manafort was ever truly Trump’s man.

Just so, one could argue that Cohen couldn’t possibly have “led” in Trump’s political collusion with the Kremlin in 2015 and 2016, as he wasn’t substantially involved in Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign at all; his role in the Trump-Russia scandal was to help Trump secretly negotiate a real estate development deal with the Kremlin while Trump’s political team—the one Cohen wasn’t actually on—authored the most unabashedly pro-Russia foreign policy agenda in the history of American politics.

With this is mind, there’s never been any doubt amongst Trump biographers and political historians that while the lead for Putin in the Trump-Russia scandal was in fact Deripaska—as Steele’s dossier had implied, via its persistent focus on Deripaska agent Manafort—the corresponding lead for Trump was in actuality his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

It was Jared Kushner who held the most secret (and later lied about) meetings with Kremlin agents, both himself and through intermediaries, before and immediately after the 2016 election; it was Jared Kushner who set up Vladimir Putin’s “friend” Dimitri Simes (who would permanently flee Washington for Moscow to take a job as a Putin propagandist the moment Kremlin spy Maria Butina was arrested in the U.S.) as Trump’s top adviser on Russia policy, in which role Simes helped Trump’s Kremlin intermediary George Papadopoulos and Russian Alfa Bank adviser Richard Burt write Trump’s now-infamous agenda for total American capitulation to Moscow (including and indeed perhaps especially on the subject of Ukraine); and it was Jared Kushner who orchestrated the multinational “grand bargain” detailed in 2019 New York Times bestseller Proof of Conspiracy, which bargain in part saw Trump and his son-in-law offering secrets (including nuclear secrets) to strongmen in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt in return for some concessions on Arab-Israeli relations and a windfall for Putin and Russia on (1) Ukraine-related sanctions, and (2) the building of nuclear power plants across the Middle East.

But it was also Jared Kushner who would have been needed to to act as intermediary for perhaps the most controversial component of the Steele Dossier—the sordid affair at the Ritz Moscow notwithstanding, as 2018 New York Times bestseller Proof of Collusion does more than enough to confirm that something uncouth (if largely benign) happened at that location in November 2013—this being the Dossier’s unprocessed intelligence on the sale of a portion of Kremlin-owned oil giant Rosneft, which sale was allegedly to be arranged in such a way as to benefit the Trump family directly.

While Steele’s dossier was silent on exactly how the deal would benefit Trump, its contention that Trump agent Carter Page discussed the deal pre-election in Moscow with Rosneft CEO and Putin lackey Igor Sechin was eventually confirmed (as was Page’s decision to lie about this discussion and his trip to Moscow repeatedly to the media, despite accurately debriefing Trump’s campaign on its particulars at the time).

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump warns of ‘big problems’ if indicted, says he’d still run for office, Azi Paybarah, Sept. 15, 2022. Former president Donald Trump warned that if he were indicted on a charge of mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House, there would be “problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen before.”

Trump, speaking Thursday to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, added, “I don’t think the people of the United States would stand for it.”

Hewitt, who is also a contributing columnist for The Washington Post, then noted that critics would describe the comment as inciting violence, and he asked Trump to respond to the claim. “That’s not inciting — I’m just saying what my opinion is. I don’t think the people of this country would stand for it,” Trump said.

FBI logoWhen pressed by Hewitt, Trump said he thought there would be “big problems, big problems.”

Federal agents conducted a court-authorized search of Trump’s club and residence Aug. 8, as part of a long-running investigation into whether government documents — some of which are classified — were being stored at Mar-a-Lago instead of returned to the National Archives.

The FBI probe is the latest legal pressure on Trump, who now faces growing scrutiny as the criminal probe intensifies. The investigation is looking into whether he or his former aides took classified government documents and improperly stored or never returned them. Trump’s lawyer has argued that the former president cooperated with federal authorities and that many of the documents were covered by executive privilege.

In January 2021, the House impeached Trump on a single charge of “incitement of insurrection” for his role in whipping up a crowd of his supporters to stop Congress from the counting of electoral college votes for Joe Biden. A mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to stop the count, an attack that resulted in five deaths and injuries to dozens of members of law enforcement.

Trump’s comments Thursday came hours before officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security briefed Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee about threats against federal officials. After the briefing, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), the committee’s chairman, described Trump’s rhetoric as dangerous.

“Inviting the mob to return to the streets is exactly what happened here on January 6th, 2021,” Durbin told reporters. After noting that five people died as a result of the attack and 149 law enforcement agents were injured that day, the senator said Trump’s “careless and inflammatory rhetoric has its consequences.”

In the interview with Hewitt, Trump also said he “would have no prohibition against running” for office if he were indicted. “It would not take you out of the arena,” Hewitt said, trying to clarify the former president’s position. Trump replied, “It would not.”

Trump repeatedly has hinted at another run for the presidency in 2024.

ny times logoNew York Times, Durham Inquiry Appears to Wind Down as Grand Jury Expires, Katie Benner, Adam Goldman and Charlie Savage, Sept. 15, 2022 (print ed.). The special counsel appointed by the Trump administration to examine the Russia investigation seems to be wrapping up its work with no further charges in store.

john durham jip IMG 8238When John H. Durham was assigned by the Justice Department in 2019 to examine the origins of the investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, President Donald J. Trump and his supporters expressed a belief that the inquiry would prove that a “deep state” conspiracy including top Obama-era officials had worked to sabotage him.

Now Mr. Durham (shown at left in a photo this spring by the Justice Integrity Project) appears to be winding down his three-year inquiry without anything close to the results Mr. Trump was seeking. The grand jury that Mr. Durham has recently used to hear evidence has expired, and while he could convene another, there are currently no plans to do so, three people familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Durham and his team are working to complete a final report by the end of the year, they said, and one of the lead prosecutors on his team is leaving for a job with a prominent law firm.

Over the course of his inquiry, Mr. Durham has developed cases against two people accused of lying to the F.B.I. in relation to outside efforts to investigate purported Trump-Russia ties, but he has not charged any conspiracy or put any high-level officials on trial. The recent developments suggest that the chances of any more indictments are remote.

After Mr. Durham’s team completes its report, it will be up to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland to decide whether to make its findings public. The report will be Mr. Durham’s opportunity to present any evidence or conclusions that challenge the Justice Department’s basis for opening the investigation in 2016 into the links between Mr. Trump and Russia.

ny times logoNew York Times, N.Y. Attorney General Rejects Trump Settlement Offer and May Sue, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich and William K. Rashbaum, Sept. 15, 2022. The attorney general, Letitia James, is also considering suing at least one of former President Trump’s children as part of her Trump Organization inquiry.

The New York attorney general’s office has rebuffed an offer from Donald J. Trump’s lawyers to settle a contentious civil investigation into the former president and his family real estate business, setting the stage for a lawsuit that would accuse Mr. Trump of fraud, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

The attorney general, Letitia James, is also considering suing at least one of Mr. Trump’s adult children, the people said. Ivanka, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., have all been senior executives at Mr. Trump’s company, the Trump Organization.

The likelihood of a lawsuit grew this month after Ms. James’s office rejected at least one settlement offer from Mr. Trump’s lawyers, the people said. While the Trump Organization for months has made overtures to the attorney general’s office — and the two sides could still reach a deal — there is no indication that a settlement will materialize anytime soon.

Ms. James, a Democrat who is running for re-election in November, is focused on whether Mr. Trump fraudulently inflated the value of his assets and has mounted a three-and-a-half-year inquiry that has cemented her as one of the former president’s chief antagonists. Mr. Trump, who has denied all wrongdoing and derided the investigation as a politically motivated witch hunt, has fired back at her, filing an unsuccessful lawsuit to block her inquiry and calling Ms. James, who is Black, a racist.

 

mike lindell screengrab

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI seizes Mike Lindell’s phone in probe of Colo. voting machine breach, Jon Swaine and Emma Brown, Sept. 15, 2022. FBI agents seized a cellphone belonging to Mike Lindell, above, the MyPillow founder and prominent election denier, as part of a federal investigation into an alleged breach of voting machines in Colorado, according to Lindell.

The agents served Lindell with a search warrant and grand jury subpoena Tuesday afternoon in the drive-through area of a Hardee’s restaurant in Mankato, Minn., he said on his online TV show. Lindell said the agents questioned him about Tina Peters, the Mesa County, Colo., clerk who was indicted in March on charges that she helped an outsider copy sensitive data from the county’s elections systems in May 2021.

The FBI acknowledged that a warrant was served but declined to elaborate. “Without commenting on this specific matter, I can confirm that the FBI was at that location executing a search warrant authorized by a federal judge,” a spokesperson for the bureau’s Denver field office said in an email.

ny times logoNew York Times, A merger delay could threaten a $1 billion financing deal tied to former President Trump’s upstart social media company, Matthew Goldstein, Sept. 15, 2022. The social media company backed by former President Donald J. Trump may not be able to count on a $1 billion deal it arranged to finance its upstart Truth Social platform.

The deal was agreed upon last year by about three dozen hedge funds and other wealthy investors, and is expected to expire on Sept. 20, according to a regulatory filing. The offer’s status was put into jeopardy after the shell company that is seeking to merge with Mr. Trump’s company delayed the deadline for completing the merger by at least three months.

The $1 billion financing arrangement, known as a private investment in public equity, or PIPE, was intended to provide another source of financing to Trump Media & Technology Group, the parent of Truth Social, upon the completion of its merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp., a vehicle known as a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.

Digital World raised $300 million in an initial public offering last September, money that Trump Media would assume after a merger, in addition to a stock market listing. The $1 billion in PIPE financing would be provided by the investors “upon consummation of their business combination,” the merging companies said in a statement when the deal was announced in December.

The merger had been expected to close no later than Sept. 20. But the delay in completing the merger means that the hedge funds that agreed to invest in the newly merged company can walk away if they want, said experts familiar with PIPEs.

Sept. 14

 

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. (U.S. Department of Justice)

A photo released by the U.S. Department of Justice shows documents allegedly seized at Mar-a-Lago spread over a carpet. (U.S. Department of Justice via AFP and Getty Images).

Palmer Report, Analysis: The DOJ’s endgame with Donald Trump gets explosive, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 14, 2022. It’s anyone’s guess as to when the DOJ bill palmerwill criminally indict and arrest Donald Trump. It could be before or after the midterms. It could be after the new year. It could be tomorrow. Take your pick. But based just on what’s become publicly available about the criminal cases the DOJ is building against Trump, there’s no longer any doubt whatsoever that the DOJ is going to indict him. In fact it sure looks like we’ve rather explosively entered the endgame.

bill palmer report logo headerHere’s what I suspect has been going on with the DOJ’s case against Trump, if I had to make an educated guess based on the publicly available information that’s surfaced to date. Trump’s theft of nuclear secrets – almost certainly for nefarious purposes – is his most serious crime in the eyes of the law. Moreover, the DOJ’s priority throughout this probe has to have been tracking down the classified secrets he stole. That’s meant cultivating sources inside Mar-a-Lago so it could identify the specific locations of the documents before going in to get them. That’s also presumably involved quietly tracking down documents that Trump gave or sold to others, while they still had their guard down, before tipping anyone off by going into Trump’s home.

While this process was playing out, any other federal criminal charges against Donald Trump had to wait. The DOJ surely could have indicted Trump six months ago for his election overthrow plot. But doing so would have put the effort to track down the classified documents at risk, because if Trump was indicted for any reason, it might have spooked anyone he’d given classified documents to, and sent them underground.

Justice Department log circularNow that the DOJ and the intelligence community have finally sorted out Trump’s classified document crime spree as best they can, they’ve finally gone into his home and seized the documents that they’ve known all along were there, and that they’ve been surveilling all along. And now that the DOJ can finally indict Trump in his nuclear secrets scandal, it’s going ahead and indicting him on everything else as well, as evidenced by the reported forty grand jury subpoenas in a week and the seizure of Mike Lindell’s cellphone.

The DOJ has a long pattern of taking this kind of approach. If it’s indicting someone for a serious crime, it’ll also tack on indictments for as many other lesser charges as possible. Why? Lesser crimes are often more easily proven beyond a reasonable doubt, meaning that even the most hesitant jury will end up convicting on something. In a famous example, the DOJ indicted Paul Manafort on eighteen felony charges, and the jury ended up indicting him on eight of them, which was enough to put him in prison.

Now we’re about to see the same thing happen to Donald Trump. He’s going to get hit with quite a large number of felony counts, for various kinds of crimes. Based just on what’s publicly available, the DOJ appears to be targeting Trump for espionage, obstruction, seditious conspiracy, wire fraud in relation to fundraising on the big lie, and the manner in which his social network was funded. Given how hard the DOJ tries to keep things secret, there are probably more aspects of its investigation into Trump that we don’t even know about.

Pro Publica, Investigative Commentary: For Donald Trump, Information Has Always Been Power, Andrea Bernstein, Sept. 14, 2022. People have wondered why the former president collected classified intel, speculating that he is just a packrat. But he has a long history of gathering and wielding sensitive info to help himself.

pro publica logoEver since the FBI came out of Mar-a-Lago last month with box after box of documents, some of them highly sensitive and classified, questions have wafted over the criminal investigation: Why did former President Donald Trump sneak off with the stash to begin with? Why did he keep it when he was asked to return it? And what, if anything, did he plan to do with it?

It’s true that Trump likes to collect shiny objects, like the framed Time magazine cover that was stowed, according to the U.S. Justice Department, alongside documents marked top secret. It’s true, as The Associated Press reported, that Trump has a “penchant for collecting” items that demonstrate his connection to famous people, like Shaquille O’Neal’s giant shoe, which he kept in his office in New York’s Trump Tower.

FBI logoBut I’ve covered Trump and his business for decades, and there’s something else people around him have told me over and over again: Trump knows the value of hoarding sensitive, secret information and wielding it regularly and precisely for his own ends. The 76-year-old former host of “The Apprentice” came up in the world of New York tabloids, where trading gossip was the coin of the realm. Certainly sometimes he just wanted to show off that he knew things about important people. But he also has used compromising information to pressure elected officials, seek a commercial advantage or blunt accountability and oversight.

A Trump spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Take a little-known episode where Trump tried to pressure former Republican New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman.

In 1997, Trump, then a major casino owner in Atlantic City, was furious with New Jersey elected officials for supporting a $330 million tunnel project. The tunnel would run from the Atlantic City Expressway almost to the doorstep of a casino run by then-rival Steve Wynn. “Trump didn’t want Wynn in Atlantic City,” Whitman recently told me. Trump “wanted to control the gambling there.”

As a casino owner, Trump wasn’t able to make donations in New Jersey legislative races, contributions being one of his go-to methods of attempting to exert control over government decisions. But Trump could run caustic ads and file lawsuits, which he did. When none of that worked, and the tunnel was in the final stages of approval, Whitman said, Trump called her up.

A few years before the tunnel vote, Whitman’s son, Taylor, who was in high school at the time, had gotten falling-down drunk at a private dance at Trump’s Plaza Hotel off Central Park in New York City and had to be taken to the hospital. This is something that high school students stupidly do, and Whitman said to me she was happy for Taylor to be sick “to teach him a lesson.” But in the call, Trump suddenly brought the episode up. He said it would be “too bad” if the press found out about her son’s drunken antics.

“He made the threat during the deliberations over the tunnel,” Whitman said, and it “blindsided” her because the high school dance was private and Taylor's behavior had been a family concern. She had no idea how Trump found out about it, she said, but the episode made it clear to her that people collected and delivered sensitive information to Trump about what happened in his properties. She did not buckle to Trump, and he never made good on his threat.

Many people who have found themselves, for better or worse, in Trump’s orbit over the decades — people with far less power than Whitman — told me it was obvious that Trump collected information on people, delighted in it, even. And he was not shy about deploying it. “There was always someone watching,” one former high-level Trump Organization employee told me. “What Donald would do is he would let the person know he knows, in his around-the-corner way. He let the person know he was all-imposing and he knew what was going on.” Like most other former employees, this person did not want to speak on the record for fear that Trump would still come after him all these years later.

Sept. 13

 ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Issues 40 Subpoenas in a Week, Expanding Its Jan. 6 Inquiry, Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman, Adam Goldman and Alan Feuer, Sept. 13, 2022 (print ed.). It also seized the phones of two top advisers to former President Trump, a sign of an escalating investigation two months before the midterm elections.

Justice Department log circularJustice Department officials have seized the phones of two top advisers to former President Donald J. Trump and blanketed his aides with about 40 subpoenas in a substantial escalation of the investigation into his efforts to subvert the 2020 election, people familiar with the inquiry said on Monday.

The seizure of the phones, coupled with a widening effort to obtain information from those around Mr. Trump after the 2020 election, represent some of the most aggressive steps the department has taken thus far in its criminal investigation into the actions that led to the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

The extent of the investigation has come into focus in recent days, even though it has often been overshadowed by the government’s legal clash with Mr. Trump and his lawyers over a separate inquiry into the handling of presidential records, including highly classified materials, the former president kept at his residence in Florida, Mar-a-Lago.

Federal agents with court-authorized search warrants took phones last week from at least two people: Boris Epshteyn, an in-house counsel who helps coordinate Mr. Trump’s legal efforts, and Mike Roman, a campaign strategist who was the director of Election Day operations for the Trump campaign in 2020, people familiar with the investigation said.

Mr. Epshteyn and Mr. Roman have been linked to a critical element of Mr. Trump’s bid to hold onto power: the effort to name slates of electors pledged to Mr. Trump from swing states won by Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2020 as part of a plan to block or delay congressional certification of Mr. Biden’s Electoral College victory.

Making a case against Trump. The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack is laying out a comprehensive narrative of President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Here are the main themes that have emerged so far from eight public hearings:

Recent Headlines

 

U.S. Politics, Economy, Governance

don bolduc victory graphic

ny times logoNew York Times, Morse Concedes to Bolduc in New Hampshire Senate Race, Realizing G.O.P. Fears, Trip Gabriel, Sept. 15, 2022 (print ed.). With Chuck Morse’s concession, Don Bolduc, a 2020 election denier, will face Senator Maggie Hassan in November. Some Republicans fear he’s too right-wing.

Don Bolduc, a retired Army general and 2020 election denier, appears to have captured the Republican nomination for Senate in New Hampshire after his chief rival conceded early Wednesday.

The Associated Press has not yet called the race. As of 8 a.m., Mr. Bolduc held a lead of about 1,200 votes over Chuck Morse, the president of the State Senate.

djt maga hatchris sununuMr. Morse was endorsed by Gov. Chris Sununu, right, and helped by $4.5 million from national Republicans, who were worried that a victory by Mr. Bolduc would forfeit what they saw as a winnable seat in the quest for Senate control this fall.

Mr. Bolduc’s apparent victory will come as a relief to Democrats, who also assume he will be the weaker opponent against Senator Maggie Hassan, a first-term Democrat. She won in 2016 by about 1,000 votes in purple New Hampshire but has been saddled with low job approval numbers. Four states — New Hampshire, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada — have vulnerable Democratic senators the party is aggressively defending to keep its hold on the Senate.

Mr. Bolduc led wire-to-wire in polling during the race. He amassed grass-roots support by traveling widely for two years and holding town hall-style events, where attendees fumed over President Biden and Democratic governance in Washington.

His supporters were less animated by bread-and-butter issues such as inflation — which is soon expected to affect the cost of the home heating oil that is widely used in New Hampshire — than by immigration, the 2020 election and cultural issues. “I signed a letter with 120 other generals and admirals saying that Donald Trump won the election and, damn it, I stand by” it, Mr. Bolduc said at a debate last month. He has also said he was open to abolishing the F.B.I. after agents searched Mr. Trump’s residence in Florida seeking classified documents.

Mr. Sununu, a moderate and popular Republican in the state, was outspoken in calling Mr. Bolduc a “conspiracy-theory extremist” whom most voters did not take seriously.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: These 97 Members of Congress Reported Trades in Companies Influenced by Their Committees, Alicia Parlapiano, Adam Playford and Kate Kelly, Produced by Ege Uz, Sept. 14, 2022 (print ed.). At least 97 current members of Congress bought or sold stock, bonds or other financial assets that intersected with their congressional work or reported similar transactions by their spouse or a dependent child, an analysis by The New York Times has found.

U.S. lawmakers are not banned from investing in any company, including those that could be affected by their decisions. But the trading patterns uncovered by the Times analysis underscore longstanding concerns about the potential for conflicts of interest or use of inside information by members of Congress, government ethics experts say.

Times reporters analyzed transactions between 2019 and 2021 using a database of members’ financial filings called Capitol Trades created by 2iQ Research. They matched the trades against relevant committee assignments and the dates of hearings and congressional investigations.

When contacted, many of the lawmakers said the trades they reported had been carried out independently by a spouse or a broker with no input from them. Some have since sold all their stocks or moved them into blind trusts. Two said the trades were accidental.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats ramp up efforts to win over Hispanic voters, Theodoric Meyer, Leigh Ann Caldwell and Tobi Raji, Sept. 15, 2022. President Biden will address the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s annual gala this evening, as Democrats labor to win back Hispanic voters ahead of the midterm elections.

They’ve got their work cut out for them.

Former president Donald Trump alarmed Democrats by making big gains with Hispanic voters — Hispanic men in particular — in 2020 even as he lost the presidency. The party suffered another blow when Republicans won the special election in June to fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Tex.), who represented a heavily Hispanic district.

Republicans argue that Democrats have alienated Hispanic voters by moving to the left on social issues.

Democrats are cautiously optimistic that stepped-up outreach to Hispanic voters, falling gas prices and anger over the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade can help them reverse their losses this cycle — or at least stop the bleeding.

But recent polls of Hispanic voters conducted for the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, UnidosUS and Mi Familia Vota show cause for concern, according to Matt Barreto, a veteran Hispanic pollster who’s also a senior adviser to Building Back Together, an outside group promoting Biden’s agenda.

Sept. 11

 

djt jan 6 rioters capitol

Proof, Investigative Commentary: An Alphabetical Compendium of the Dangerous and Deadly Weapons Insurrectionists Wielded at the Capitol on seth abramson graphicJanuary 6, Seth Abramson, left, Sept. 11, 2022. This list of 115+ dangerous and deadly weapons used on January 6 is the largest of its kind, curating reports from media and federal sources to offer a more accurate picture of Trump’s insurrection.

America will never get a full accounting of the weapons supporters of Donald Trump brought to the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

There are a variety of reasons for this. Most notable among them is that precious few Trumpist insurrectionists were arrested on-scene, which means that well over 90% of those who attacked the Capitol on Insurrection Day were able to leave the building and/or its surrounding grounds with all the weapons they had had on their person and later deny having ever been armed at all. And because seth abramson proof logoWashington, D.C. is a gun-free zone, those who carried firearms to the Capitol on January 6—a class of pro-Trump criminals we know from extensive major-media reporting on this critical question sits somewhere in the double digits—largely did so by concealing these weapons on their person, meaning the cases we know about in which this occurred are only a very small fraction of the actual instances of handguns and long guns being brought into or near the seat of the U.S. federal government on January 6.

There’s also the simple fact that the January 6 insurrection was designed to unfold in several stages—an initial storming of the Capitol followed by a long-term occupation and, during that occupation, the reinforcement of the building’s criminal occupiers with a mass arsenal of heavy weaponry—so some significant percentage of the stock of weapons that was supposed to be brought to bear on the Capitol on January 6 was stored off-site, most notably—federal investigators have learned—in a Comfort Inn in Ballston, a Virginia neighborhood just a short distance from the planned launch site for Trump’s armed insurrection.

That Republican Party officials have brutally lied about January 6—falsely claiming that no guns were found on any Capitol attacker; falsely claiming that no arrests for conduct involving a weapon were ever made related to January 6; falsely claiming that an event isn’t an “insurrection” unless nearly all participants are armed with guns; falsely claiming that the only January 6 casualties were caused by government agents; falsely claiming that both antifa and Black Lives Matter were present at the Capitol on January 6; falsely claiming that the intention of the January 6 attackers couldn’t have been in any way seditious because if it had been the Trumpists would have killed everyone at the Capitol; falsely claiming that the United States Capitol Police or the Metropolitan Police Department or unidentified left-wing agitators provoked the Trumpist mob on January 6; and even more vile lies Proof will not repeat here—means that even if we could uncover a significant fraction of the weaponry armed Trumpists brought to downtown D.C. on January 6 to try to overturn a democratic election there is no longer any chance that even a sizable minority of Republicans would believe any such reporting.

This, of course, was the purpose, from the start, of GOP disinformation about January 6: to rewrite the history of that terrifying day and to do so in a manner calibrated to ensure that such events could happen again, indeed on a far greater scale.

And yet, despite the impossibility of investigators ever getting a full accounting of more than a small fraction of the arms carried by the Trumpist mob as it marched on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, here’s what U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said about the weaponry brought to the U.S. Capitol grounds by pro-Trump insurrectionists on January 6 (with reference to her nearly 40-year as a judge in D.C.):

“I don’t think I’ve seen, in all my years as a judge, quite such a collection of weapons.”

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

Sept. 10

 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

Palmer Report, Opinion: DOJ grand jury into Donald Trump’s financial fraud subpoenas a familiar face, Bill Palmer, right, Sept. 10, 2022. Earlier this bill palmerweek ABC News reported that the DOJ has a grand jury investigating how Donald Trump used a PAC to raise money under the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen. Now the New York Times is revealing the names of some of those subpoena recipients – including one you’ll recognize.

bill palmer report logo headerThe subpoena recipients include former Trump White House adviser Stephen Miller, a guy whose name seems to surface in every Trump White House scandal. This means that Miller will have to provide documents, communications, and presumably testimony as needed. There’s really no getting out of a grand jury subpoena, because the courts tend to process battles over these kinds of subpoenas rather swiftly.

In other words, Miller will soon have to give up Trump. People cannot be compelled to testify against themselves to a grand jury, but they can be compelled to testify against others; the Fifth Amendment only protects against self incrimination. Miller will surely claim executive privilege, but that doesn’t apply to criminal acts committed by a President, so it won’t hold up.

The key here is the timing. ABC says that this grand jury has been sending out subpoenas to more than a dozen Trump associates for the past several weeks. That seems to line up with when the DOJ carried out a search and seizure warrant at Trump’s home. While that was in a separate classified documents probe, it’s starting to feel like the DOJ’s various probes into Trump are being lined up so they reach a peak at the same time. Stay tuned.

Sept. 9

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Post-Election Fund-Raising Comes Under Scrutiny by Justice Dept., Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman and Adam Goldman, Sept. 9, 2022 (print ed.). A federal grand jury has issued subpoenas seeking information about Save America PAC, which was formed as Donald J. Trump promoted baseless assertions about election fraud.

A federal grand jury in Washington is examining the formation of — and spending by — a super PAC created by Donald J. Trump after his loss in the 2020 election as he was raising millions of dollars by baselessly asserting that the results had been marred by widespread voting fraud.

According to subpoenas issued by the grand jury, the contents of which were described to The New York Times, the Justice Department is interested in the inner workings of Save America PAC, Mr. Trump’s main fund-raising vehicle after the election. Several similar subpoenas were sent on Wednesday to junior and midlevel aides who worked in the White House and for Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

The new focus on Save America was reported earlier by ABC News.

Among the roughly half-dozen current and former Trump aides in the White House and the 2020 presidential campaign who are said to have received subpoenas this week were Beau Harrison, an aide to Mr. Trump in the White House and in his post-presidency, and William S. Russell, who similarly worked in the West Wing and now for Mr. Trump’s personal office, according to several people familiar with the events.

The fact that federal prosecutors are seeking information about Save America PAC is a significant new turn in an already sprawling investigation of the roles that Mr. Trump and some of his allies played in trying to overturn the election, an array of efforts that culminated with the violent mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Those parts of the Jan. 6 inquiry related to Mr. Trump have so far largely centered on a plan to create slates of electors pledged to him in seven key swing states that Joseph R. Biden Jr. had won.

The new subpoenas appeared to have been issued by a different grand jury in Washington than the one that has been gathering evidence about the so-called fake electors plan, which has focused on questions surrounding pro-Trump lawyers like Rudolph W. Giuliani and John Eastman.

At least one of the new subpoenas bore the name of a veteran federal prosecutor in Washington who specializes in fraud cases, suggesting that this avenue of inquiry is devoted primarily to examining the spending and fund-raising at Mr. Trump’s super PAC.

 

greg craig barack obama  Former White House Counsel Gregory Craig, right, was indicted by Trump's Justice Department and then acquitted. He is shown with President Obama in 2009 (White House photo.)

Former White House Counsel Gregory Craig, right, was indicted by Trump's Justice Department and then acquitted. He is shown with President Obama in 2009 (White House photo.)

 ny times logoNew York Times, A former U.S. attorney said the Justice Department under Donald Trump pushed cases that would help the former president, Benjamin Weiser, Sept. 9, 2022 (print ed.). Geoffrey S. Berman, who headed the Manhattan office, says in a book the Justice Department pushed cases, against John Kerry and others, to help Mr. Trump.

A book by a former top federal prosecutor offers new details about how the Justice Department under President Donald J. Trump sought to use the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan to support Mr. Trump politically and pursue his critics — even pushing the office to open a criminal investigation of former secretary of state John Kerry.

geoffrey berman sdnyThe prosecutor, Geoffrey S. Berman, was the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York for two and a half years until June 2020, when Mr. Trump fired him after he refused a request to resign by Attorney General William P. Barr, who sought to replace him with an administration ally.

A copy of Mr. Berman’s book, Holding the Line, was obtained by The New York Times before its scheduled publication Tuesday.

The book paints a picture of Justice Department officials motivated by partisan concerns in pursuing investigations or blocking them; in weighing how forthright to be in court filings; and in shopping investigations to other prosecutors’ offices when the Southern District declined to act.

The book contains accounts of how department officials tried to have allusions to Mr. Trump scrubbed from charging papers for Michael D. Cohen, his former personal lawyer, and how the attorney general later tried to have his conviction reversed. It tells of pressure to pursue Mr. Kerry, who had angered Mr. Trump by attempting to preserve the nuclear deal he had negotiated with Iran.

And in September 2018, Mr. Berman writes, two months before the November midterms, a senior department official called Mr. Berman’s deputy, cited the Southern District’s recent prosecutions of two prominent Trump loyalists, and bluntly asserted that the office, which had been investigating Gregory B. Craig, a powerful Democratic lawyer, should charge him — and should do so before Election Day.

“It’s time for you guys to even things out,” the official said, according to Mr. Berman.

The book comes as Mr. Trump and his supporters have accused the Biden administration and Attorney General Merrick Garland of using the Justice Department as a weapon after a judge authorized FBI agents to search his Florida house for missing classified records. Mr. Trump, who is a likely presidential candidate in 2024, has suggested without evidence that President Biden is playing a role in that investigation.

However, Mr. Berman’s book says that during Mr. Trump’s presidency, department officials made “overtly political” demands, choosing targets that would directly further Mr. Trump’s desires for revenge and advantage. Mr. Berman wrote that the pressure was clearly inspired by the president’s openly professed wants.

In the book, Mr. Berman, who as U.S. attorney did not give news interviews, offers new details about the high-profile prosecutions of defendants like Mr. Cohen; Chris Collins, a Republican congressman from New York; Michael Avenatti, the celebrity attorney and Trump antagonist; and Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Geoffrey Berman’s big claims about Trump’s Justice Department, Aaron Blake, Sept. 9, 2022. They come as Trump accuses Biden’s DOJ of being “weaponized.” And they serve as a timely reminder of all the evidence that Trump politicized his own DOJ.

FBI logoFrom virtually the moment we learned that the FBI had searched former president Donald Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago last month, he and his allies have decried the search as symptomatic of a “weaponized” Justice Department. The charge was lodged even as we knew next to nothing about what undergirded the search or what materials Trump actually had — which we’ve now found out included many classified documents and even highly sensitive information on the nuclear capabilities of a foreign country.

Now comes a timely reminder of just how rich that claim is, coming from Trump and Co., according to the people who witnessed the actions of his own Justice Department firsthand.

Former U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman is releasing a new book that details his jousting with political appointees at the Trump Justice Department — including then-Attorney General William P. Barr, whom he casts as repeatedly pushing Trump’s line in prosecution decisions with political implications. A leaked copy of the book, Holding the Line, was obtained by the New York Times and the Guardian.

Berman, who worked for Trump in 2016 and served on his transition team, was a central figure in many key events by virtue of leading the second-most prominent district in the country, based in New York City. But he has rarely spoken publicly — including about the ugly 2020 dispute between him and Barr that marked the end of his tenure.

That’s changed, and now Berman isn’t holding back much.

A case in point Berman raises is a request he received in 2018, when he said a Trump political appointee asked him to charge a prominent Democratic lawyer, Gregory Craig, and to do so before the midterms. Berman’s office had prosecuted former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and Trump-allied Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.). “It’s time for you guys to even things out,” Berman recalls the official telling him.

The official identified by Berman, Edward O’Callaghan, who was then the principal associate deputy attorney general, called the statements attributed to him “categorically false,” according to the Times. O’Callaghan declined to comment further when reached by The Washington Post.

Berman also reportedly expounds on the clash with Barr that led to Berman’s exit.

In summary: Berman’s office had prosecuted multiple Trump allies and had been investigating Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani; Barr claimed Berman was resigning and said he would appoint a new interim U.S. attorney; but Berman denied it and returned to work. Ultimately, Berman forced Trump to fire him — which meant Berman’s deputy would take over the top job, rather than Barr’s pick.

Barr’s botched effort to remove a prosecutor who probed Trump allies

In later testimony, Berman was tight-lipped about Barr’s motivations. But he writes in his book: “The reason Barr wanted me to resign immediately was so I could be replaced with an outsider he trusted.”

Berman also details several other instances of politics apparently seeping into the Trump DOJ’s work:

  • He says that, after he declined to prosecute Craig, the case was “peddled” to the U.S. attorney in Washington. That office in 2019 prosecuted Craig for alleged false statements but lost the case after a brief jury deliberation.
  • He discloses a previously unknown investigation of former secretary of state John F. Kerry for allegedly violating the Logan Act, which Trump had pressed for publicly. Berman says his office was charged with investigating the matter two days after Trump tweeted about it. He also says the pressure repeatedly ramped up whenever Trump weighed in — a “clear” and “outrageous” pattern.
  • He says a Justice Department official pressured his deputy, Robert S. Khuzami, to remove all references to Trump in a charging document detailing Cohen’s crimes. (Trump was listed in the document as “Individual-1,” but his identity was obvious, and the document implicated him in the scheme.)
  • He says Barr stifled campaign finance investigations emanating from the Cohen case and even floated seeking a reversal of Cohen’s conviction — just like Barr would later do with another Trump ally, Michael Flynn. (Barr also intervened in the case of another Trump ally, Roger Stone, to seek a lighter sentence than career prosecutors wanted.)
  • He says Barr took a keen, unusual and problematic interest in the Halkbank case, which involved Turkish bankers and government officials close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. At the time, Trump was close to Erdogan, who decried the probe. Berman says Barr “appeared to be doing Trump’s bidding” by pushing for the charges to be dropped, according to the Guardian.

Similar to many of these, significant concerns about political influence in the Halkbank case have been raised before. And these examples don’t include the many other instances in which Trump leaned on the Justice Department (an extensive list is here). Sometimes, this involved extraordinary actions by Barr himself and officials or prosecutors like Berman objecting. Example A-1 is arguably Trump pushing the Justice Department to validate his baseless attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

But Berman brings his front-row perspective to these matters, given his involvement in many high-profile incidents. And despite his spat with Barr, his version of events has long been regrettably incomplete, leading to the incident to fall by

“I walked this tightrope for two and a half years,” he writes, according to the Times. “Eventually, the rope snapped.”

Sept. 8

 

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. (U.S. Department of Justice)

 A photo released by the U.S. Department of Justice shows documents allegedly seized at Mar-a-Lago spread over a carpet. (U.S. Department of Justice/AFP/Getty Images)

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. appeals judge’s order for a Mar-a-Lago special master, Perry Stein and Devlin Barrett, Sept. 8, 2022. Donald Trump’s lawyers want a special master to shield seized documents that are protected by attorney-client or executive privilege.

The Justice Department said it would appeal a federal judge’s decision to appoint a special master to sift through thousands of documents the FBI seized from Donald Trump’s Florida residence on Aug. 8, according to a Thursday court filing.

The notice of appeal arrived three days after Judge Aileen M. Cannon ruled in favor of Trump and said she would appoint a special master, slowing — at least temporarily — an investigation into the possible mishandling of extremely sensitive classified information, as well as possible hiding, tampering or destruction of government records.

The Justice Department wrote in a brief filing that it would be appealing the decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a separate, simultaneous court filing, prosecutors asked Cannon to stay her Sept. 5 decision on two key points: her order to temporarily halt a significant portion of the FBI investigation into the potential mishandling of classified information, and to allow a special master to review the classified material that is among the documents seized as part of a court-authorized search at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club on Aug. 8.

Ultimately, the Justice Department said that a special master could be appointed, but argued that the judge should prohibit the special master from reviewing classified documents. The special master would be still able to sort through personal documents and other items the FBI also seized, setting aside materials as necessary, the filing says.

Prosecutors wrote that allowing a special master to review the classified material would “cause the most immediate and serious harms to the government and the public,” noting that those documents have already been moved to a secure facility, separate from the rest of the seized Trump papers.

And they argued that by prohibiting investigators from using the classified materials found in the August until a special master has cleared them, Cannon could harm national security by hampering the Justice Department’s ability to recover any other classified papers that may still be outstanding.

Barring the FBI from using the classified material in the investigation “could impede efforts to identify the existence of any additional classified records that are not being properly stored—which itself presents the potential for ongoing risk to national security,” prosecutors wrote — the first time they have suggested in court filings that there could be more unsecured classified material they have yet to find.

Special masters and Trump's Mar-a-Lago documents: What you need to know

Trump’s legal team argued in a federal courthouse in West Palm Beach last week that a special master is needed to determine whether any of the documents — more than 100 of which are classified — should be shielded from investigators because of attorney-client or executive privilege. They also said an independent outside expert would boost “trust” in the Justice Department’s criminal probe.

Justice Department lawyers told Cannon they had already sorted through the documents, using a “filter team” to separate out more than 500 pages of documents potentially covered by attorney-client privilege. That arrangement was approved by the U.S. magistrate judge who authorized the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida home and private club, after the government tried for months to get Trump and his advisers to return all the government documents kept at the property.

The Justice Department also argued that a former president cannot assert executive privilege after he leaves office, and that it is not possible for one part of the executive branch to assert privilege to shield documents from another part.

But even if Trump could assert executive privilege, the Justice Department argued in its Thursday appeal, the government’s “demonstrated, specific need” to have access to the classified materials would override that privilege. Government prosecutors also said that Trump had no clear need to maintain possession of these classified documents.

“Among other things, the classified records are the very subject of the government’s ongoing investigation,” the filing says.

Trump and the Mar-a-Lago documents: A timeline

In her original ruling, Cannon said that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence could continue its analysis of the possible risk to national security posed by the removal from government custody of classified documents, some of which contain the government’s most sensitive intelligence-gathering secrets.

But Justice Department lawyers said Thursday said that it is difficult to separate the FBI investigation from the intelligence review. They said they were unsure of the “bounds” and “implications” of the court order, prompting the intelligence community to temporarily halt its review along with criminal investigators.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that among the documents seized by the FBI was one describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The people also said of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations that are so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them.

 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Post-Election Fund-Raising Comes Under Scrutiny by Justice Dept., Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman and Adam Goldman, Sept. 8, 2022.  A federal grand jury has issued subpoenas seeking information about Save America PAC, which was formed as Donald J. Trump promoted baseless assertions about election fraud.

A federal grand jury in Washington is examining the formation of — and spending by — a super PAC created by Donald J. Trump after his loss in the 2020 election as he was raising millions of dollars by baselessly asserting that the results had been marred by widespread voting fraud.

According to subpoenas issued by the grand jury, the contents of which were described to The New York Times, the Justice Department is interested in the inner workings of Save America PAC, Mr. Trump’s main fund-raising vehicle after the election. Several similar subpoenas were sent on Wednesday to junior and midlevel aides who worked in the White House and for Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

The new focus on Save America was reported earlier by ABC News.

Among the roughly half-dozen current and former Trump aides in the White House and the 2020 presidential campaign who are said to have received subpoenas this week were Beau Harrison, an aide to Mr. Trump in the White House and in his post-presidency, and William S. Russell, who similarly worked in the West Wing and now for Mr. Trump’s personal office, according to several people familiar with the events.

The fact that federal prosecutors are seeking information about Save America PAC is a significant new turn in an already sprawling investigation of the roles that Mr. Trump and some of his allies played in trying to overturn the election, an array of efforts that culminated with the violent mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Those parts of the Jan. 6 inquiry related to Mr. Trump have so far largely centered on a plan to create slates of electors pledged to him in seven key swing states that Joseph R. Biden Jr. had won.

The new subpoenas appeared to have been issued by a different grand jury in Washington than the one that has been gathering evidence about the so-called fake electors plan, which has focused on questions surrounding pro-Trump lawyers like Rudolph W. Giuliani and John Eastman.

At least one of the new subpoenas bore the name of a veteran federal prosecutor in Washington who specializes in fraud cases, suggesting that this avenue of inquiry is devoted primarily to examining the spending and fund-raising at Mr. Trump’s super PAC.

Sept. 6

ny times logoNew York Times, ‘Deeply Problematic’: Experts Question Judge’s Intervention in Trump Inquiry, Charlie Savage, Sept. 6, 2022 (print ed.). A ruling by a judge appointed by former President Donald J. Trump surprised specialists and could slow the documents investigation.

A federal judge’s extraordinary decision on Monday to interject in the criminal investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s hoarding of sensitive government documents at his Florida residence showed unusual solicitude to him, legal specialists said.

This was “an unprecedented intervention by a federal district judge into the middle of an ongoing federal criminal and national security investigation,” said Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor at University of Texas.

Siding with Mr. Trump, the judge, Aileen M. Cannon, ordered the appointment of an independent arbiter to review the more than 11,000 government records the F.B.I. seized in its search of Mar-a-Lago last month. She granted the arbiter, known as a special master, broad powers that extended beyond filtering materials that were potentially subject to attorney-client privilege to also include executive privilege.

Judge Cannon, a Trump appointee who sits on the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida, also blocked federal prosecutors from further examining the seized materials for the investigation until the special master had completed a review.

In reaching that result, Judge Cannon took several steps that specialists said were vulnerable to being overturned if the government files an appeal, as most agreed was likely. Any appeal would be heard by the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, where Mr. Trump appointed six of its 11 active judges.

Paul Rosenzweig, a former homeland security official in the George W. Bush administration and prosecutor in the independent counsel investigation of Bill Clinton, said it was egregious to block the Justice Department from steps like asking witnesses about government files, many marked as classified, that agents had already reviewed.

“This would seem to me to be a genuinely unprecedented decision by a judge,” Mr. Rosenzweig said. “Enjoining the ongoing criminal investigation is simply untenable.”

Born in Colombia in 1981, Judge Cannon graduated from Duke University in 2003 and the University of Michigan Law School in 2007. After clerking for a Republican-appointed appeals court judge in Iowa, she worked as an associate for a corporate law firm for three years before becoming an assistant federal prosecutor in Florida.

Sept. 5

djt confidential markings

 

 

 djt fbi evidence mar a lago

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover. (U.S. Department of Justice photo.)

Politico, Judge orders halt to DOJ review of documents seized from Trump, Nicholas Wu and Kyle Cheney, Sept. 5, 2022. Cannon’s order included permitting a so-called special master to review the seized materials for potential attorney-client and executive privilege.

politico CustomA federal judge on Monday ordered a halt to the Justice Department’s review of materials seized from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, describing a threat to institutions and the risk of media leaks that could cause harm to Trump.

aileen cannon“Plaintiff faces an unquantifiable potential harm by way of improper disclosure of sensitive information to the public,” U.S District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, right, wrote in a 24-page ruling issued on Labor Day.

Cannon’s order included permitting a so-called special master to review the seized materials for potential attorney-client and executive privilege. Prosecutors expressed exasperation at Trump’s demand to review for executive privilege, noting that there is no precedent for a former executive to assert privilege to bar review of materials by a sitting executive branch — particularly when the government has determined the need is urgent.

Cannon, a Trump appointee who was confirmed a week after Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election, gave the Justice Department and Trump’s lawyers until Sept. 9 to submit a joint filing to propose a list of special master candidates and outlining their duties and limitations. In the meantime, Cannon ruled that the documents would not be returned to Trump.

The Justice Department indicated that if Cannon were to make a ruling of this kind, she should formally enjoin the department, a format that would permit an appeal. A spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump plots aggressive midterm strategy seen in GOP as double-edged sword, Isaac Arnsdorf, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 5, 2022 (print ed.). Republican campaigns hope rallies, robo-calls and virtual appearances by the former president can boost excitement in the party base without turning off moderates and independents.

Donald Trump’s political advisers are in early discussions with Republican campaigns about actively deploying him on the trail this fall, with party strategists placing a risky bet that Trump can boost GOP turnout without repelling moderates and independents who do not support the former president.

Trump plans to be more engaged in October than in September, by appearing at rallies, in robocalls and potentially on tele-town halls and at fundraisers, according to a close adviser, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential strategy. Trump’s political team has told others they want to be cooperative and helpful, focusing Trump on rural areas where he has strong support. Talks have included states across the South and Upper Midwest, among others.

But the risk is acute that his presence could distract from what the GOP has sought to make its central message of the midterms: that voters should fire Democrats who have presided over rising costs and violent crime. Trump, who is under multiple federal and state investigations, continues to falsely claim the 2020 election was stolen and has asserted without evidence that the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago estate was part of a political attack — inflammatory rhetoric that Democrats have sought to keep in the spotlight.

 

Trump Spy Scandal

 

djt confidential markings

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: The photo of classified documents from Trump’s resort, annotated, Philip Bump, Sept. 1, 2022 (print ed.). The Justice Department submitted the photograph as part of a court filing. Here’s what we learned from it.

Now we get to the heart of the matter: what investigators found. Let’s start with that document at the bottom center of the photo. It has a cover sheet indicating that it is classified as “secret.” The government has default cover sheets for various classification levels, ranging from a blue “confidential” classification to an orange “top secret.”

You’ll notice that the documents with the “TOP SECRET/SCI” markings in the photo have a yellow border and not an orange one. Similarly, the document at the bottom center has an orangeish-red-bordered cover sheet (not a purely red one) and is marked “SECRET/SCI.” That “SCI” is important — as are other markings on the cover sheet that provide more information about the document’s classification.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The Mar-a-Lago espionage scandal is a three-alarm national security crisis. We should act like it, Jennifer Rubin, right, jennifer rubin new headshotSept. 4, 2022. Republicans are treating the investigation of defeated former president Donald Trump’s purloining of classified government documents as another opportunity to play victim and attack law enforcement.

U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, left, a last-minute Trump nominee jammed through during the 2020 lame-duck session, seems to be contemplating a special master to review the documents one by one to see whether there is some basis for blocking them from prosecutors, even as the intelligence community feverishly conducts a national security review.

aileen cannonEven former attorney general William P. Barr observes, “Well, I think the whole idea of a special master is a bit of a red herring ... at this stage, since they have already gone through the documents, I think it’s a waste of time.”

Alas, Barr’s party cares not one whit about national security, only the security of their cult leader and his war on American intelligence.

The extent of the national security crisis Trump thrust upon us has not yet been fully appreciated. The more detailed inventory released on Friday is jaw-dropping.

Where did the documents that were in those folders go? Were any of them destroyed, given away, copied, hidden, sold or shared? We don’t know, and that is a national security disaster given that the documents could have contained the names of human sources and signals intelligence.

Put differently, any delay in investigation, prosecution and hopefully recovery of documents that contain our nation’s most sensitive secrets would be a further risk to national security.

Let’s imagine that Judge Cannon is willing, contrary to previous rulings in Trump-related cases, to find that Trump enjoys some residual executive privilege consideration. Nevertheless, as U.S. v. Nixon and its progeny have held, any such privilege claim pales in comparison to the interest in criminal prosecution.

It’s beyond time that Republicans demand not only candor from Trump — Why did he have documents? What did he do with them? — but also a full and swift investigation. And unless the court wants to rewrite decades of law, allow Trump to hold the nation hostage and deepen our national security crisis, Cannon should follow Barr’s advice, dismiss Trump’s claim and let the FBI get on with an investigation and any necessary prosecutions.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump keeps unwittingly dropping breadcrumbs, Bill Palmer, Sept. 5, 2022. While we’re all looking forward to the day when Donald Trump is no longer holding political rallies, there’s nonetheless a silver lining to them. For one thing, these rallies never seem to benefit the Republican candidates they’re nominally supposed to be helping. And now, Trump’s rallies are providing insight into how Trump is dealing with the very serious federal criminal charges he’s on the verge of getting hit with.

bill palmer report logo headerCertainly, prosecutors at the DOJ are watching footage of Trump’s rally from this weekend. Given how incoherent Trump’s speech was, they might have to watch it a few times to figure out what he was even talking about. But it’s notable, for instance, that Trump now claims the FBI ransacked his son Barron’s room. Whether this claim is true or not, it suggests that Trump – who seems to care nothing for his youngest son – is very concerned with his son’s room. Did Trump hide documents there? Did the Feds find them? Should the Feds circle back and check under the floorboards of that bedroom?

But it’s more than just that. Trump also claimed during his rally speech that Mark Zuckerberg came to visit him last week at the White House, in order to inform Trump that he’s now #1 on Facebook. This suggests that Trump’s mind is sinking further than ever into desperate delusion about how it’s all somehow magically going to work out okay for him. In his mind he’s now back in the White House, he’s back on Facebook, and everything is just fine and dandy. He’s perhaps in his safe space, so to speak, as a way of trying to convince himself that he’s not actually on the verge of arrest under the Espionage Act, which he is.

Of course Trump’s rally speech in Pennsylvania this weekend was supposed to be aimed at boosting midterm voter turnout for Republican candidates like Mehmet Oz. But you wouldn’t know it from the media coverage, because Trump has never had much luck convincing his base to vote in general elections that don’t have his name on the ballot, and because Trump rarely even tries to use these rallies to promote such candidates.

The AP used Trump’s Pennsylvania rally as an opportunity to run a story about a member of Trump’s base who’s still on board with Trump but has no interest in voting for Oz, even after Trump’s rally. Such articles are always biased in the direction of the one anecdotal example that the article’s author has arbitrarily chosen to focus on. But this one example does track with what we already know about the sheer ineffectiveness of Trump’s political rallies – particularly now that he’s no longer in office and only holds them occasionally.

In the meantime, the DOJ is now doing what it always does whenever the target of an active federal criminal investigation publicly shoots off his mouth about the investigation: it’s poring over Donald Trump’s rally speech in search of strategic advantages. In that sense, if Trump wants to keep running his mouth, he’s more than welcome to do so. It’s not helping him, it’s not helping the Republican Party, and it’s probably just helping make it that much easier for the DOJ to take him down.

 

U.S. Law, Constitution, Crime, Immigration

ny times logoNew York Times, As Midterms Near, ‘60-Day Rule’ Raises Dilemma for Trump Inquiries, Charlie Savage, Sept. 5, 2022 (print ed.).The Justice Department is debating how an unwritten rule should affect the criminal investigations into Jan. 6 and Donald Trump’s handling of sensitive documents.

As the midterm elections near, top Justice Department officials are weighing whether to temporarily scale back work in criminal investigations involving former President Donald J. Trump because of an unwritten rule forbidding overt actions that could improperly influence the vote, according to people briefed on the discussions.

Under what is known as the 60-day rule, the department has traditionally avoided taking any steps in the run-up to an election that could affect how people vote, out of caution that such moves could be interpreted as abusing its power to manipulate American democracy.

Mr. Trump, who is not on the ballot but wields outsize influence in the Republican Party, poses a particular dilemma for Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, whose department is conducting two investigations involving the former president. They include the sprawling inquiry into the Jan. 6 riot and his related effort to overturn the 2020 election and another into his hoarding of sensitive government documents at his Florida club and residence.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. But as the 60-day deadline looms this week, the highly unusual situation offers no easy answers, said Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor and the former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

 

Joe President Joe Biden addresses the nation from Philadelphia (Photo by Jim Watson for AFP via Getty Images).

Joe President Joe Biden addresses the nation from Philadelphia (Photo by Jim Watson for AFP via Getty Images).

Politico, The seeds of Biden’s democracy speech sprouted long before the Mar-a-Lago search, Sam Stein, Eugene Daniels and Jonathan Lemire, Sept. 3, 2022. But the actions of Trump and his supporters, along with threats of violence, sped up Biden’s need to address the nation.

politico CustomPresident Joe Biden’s speech warning about an assault against American democracy — by Donald Trump and his core followers — was an election-season call to arms unlike anything in modern American history.

It also was months in the making.

Aides said that Biden had been planning to give a version of Thursday night’s address since this past June, relaying he wanted to speak on what he saw as increasingly grave threats to the nation’s democracy. But events continued to get in the way of its delivery. Pressure built over the past few weeks, they said, amid a number of developments.

GOP primary victories of a number of 2020 election-denying candidates in state and federal contests, combined with the consolidation of support around Trump, jolted the White House. Biden told associates that he barely recognized the Republican Party with which he could once work, seeing a personality cult instead.

Threats made against federal agents in the aftermath of the FBI’s search in Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home also outraged the president. Biden saw echoes of what happened 18 months ago, when officers lost their lives defending the U.S. Capitol. The actual writing of the speech started about three weeks ago, with Jon Meacham, the historian who has had a hand in a number of Biden’s most sweeping speeches, helping the framing.

When a number of Republican lawmakers warned of violence should Trump be indicted, it only added to the urgency. There was, as one senior administration official put it, “a rising degree of concern that this movement, rather than dissipating, is going stronger.”

ny times logoNew York Times, A Second Constitutional Convention? Some Republicans Want to Force One, Carl Hulse, Sept. 5, 2022 (print ed.). ht Some in the G.O.P. think a debate over rewriting the Constitution is necessary to rein in the U.S. government. A former Democratic senator warns of the risks.

Representative Jodey Arrington, a conservative Texas Republican, believes it is well past time for something the nation has not experienced for more than two centuries: a debate over rewriting the Constitution.

“I think the states are due a convention,” said Mr. Arrington, who in July introduced legislation to direct the archivist of the United States to tally applications for a convention from state legislatures and compel Congress to schedule a gathering when enough states have petitioned for one. “It is time to rally the states and rein in Washington responsibly.”

To Russ Feingold, the former Democratic senator from Wisconsin and president of the American Constitution Society, a liberal judicial group, that is a terrible idea. Mr. Feingold sees the prospect of a constitutional convention as an exceptionally dangerous threat from the right and suggests it is closer to reality than most people realize as Republicans push to retake control of Congress in November’s midterm elections.

“We are very concerned that the Congress, if it becomes Republican, will call a convention,” said Mr. Feingold, the co-author of a new book warning of the risks of a convention called “The Constitution in Jeopardy.”

“This could gut our Constitution,” Mr. Feingold said in an interview. “There needs to be real concern and attention about what they might do. We are putting out the alert.”

While the rise of election deniers, new voting restrictions and other electoral maneuvering get most of the attention, Mr. Feingold rates the prospect of a second constitutional convention as just as grave a threat to democratic governance.

“If you think this is democracy’s moment of truth, this is one of those things,” he said.

Elements on the right have for years been waging a quiet but concerted campaign to convene a gathering to consider changes to the Constitution. They hope to take advantage of a never-used aspect of Article V, which says in part that Congress, “on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments.”

Throughout the nation’s history, 27 changes have been made to the Constitution by another grindingly arduous route, with amendments originating in Congress subject to ratification by the states.

With sharp partisanship making that path near impossible, backers of the convention idea now hope to harness the power of Republican-controlled state legislatures to petition Congress and force a convention they see as a way to strip away power from Washington and impose new fiscal restraints, at a minimum.

Trump Rallies, Reactions

 

djt wilkes barre sept 3 2022

ny times logoNew York Times, Donald Trump lashed out at President Biden and federal agents in his first rally since the F.B.I. search of his home, Katie Glueck and Michael C. Bender, Sept. 5, 2022 (print ed.). Donald J. Trump and President Biden have both made recent appearances in Pennsylvania, one of the key states in November’s midterm elections.

In his first rally since his home was searched by the F.B.I. on Aug. 8, former President Donald J. Trump on Saturday lashed out at President Biden and federal agents, calling his Democratic rival “an enemy of the state” and the F.B.I. and the Department of Justice “vicious monsters.”

In an aggrieved and combative speech in Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump stoked anger against law enforcement even as the F.B.I. and federal officials have faced an increase in threats following the search of Mr. Trump’s residence to retrieve classified documents.

Mr. Trump’s remarks echoed the chain of similar, escalating attacks he wrote on his social media website this week, including posts that singled out one agent by name. That agent has retired, and his lawyers have said he did not have a role in the search.

Although he faced criticism for the tirades, and some Republicans have warned about the political dangers in attacking law enforcement, the former president signaled he would yield no ground.

His speech came two days after Mr. Biden warned that democratic values were under assault by forces loyal to Mr. Trump. The former president described Mr. Biden’s address as “the most vicious, hateful, and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president.”

Wayne Madsen Report, Commentary, The "F" word to fascists is the word fascist, Wayne Madsen, left, Sept. 5, 2022. "With a fascist the problem is never wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallhow best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.”

It's a funny thing about Donald Trump's MAGA fascists. They resent being called fascists. Benito Mussolini had no problem with the word fascist. He even named his political party the "National Fascist Party." So, why do Mussolini's fellow Italian fascists like Doug Mastriano, Ron DeSantis, and Rudolph Giuliani abhor the words fascist or fascism so much?

Sept. 3

 

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Empty Folders That Had Contained Classified Files Were Found at Mar-a-Lago, Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer, Sept. 3, 2022 (print ed.). An inventory of items seized in the F.B.I.’s search of former President Trump’s home, above, raised the question of whether the documents had fully been recovered.

The F.B.I.’s search of former President Donald J. Trump’s Florida club and residence last month recovered 48 empty folders marked as containing classified information, a newly disclosed court filing shows, raising the question of whether the government had fully recovered the documents or any remain missing.

The filing, a detailed list of items retrieved in the search, was unsealed on Friday as part of the court fight over whether to appoint an independent arbiter to review the materials taken by federal agents from Mr. Trump’s estate, Mar-a-Lago, on Aug. 8.

Along with the empty folders with classified markings, the F.B.I. recovered 40 more empty folders that said they contained sensitive documents the user should “return to staff secretary/military aide,” the inventory said. It also said that agents found seven documents marked as “top secret” in Mr. Trump’s office and 11 more in a storage room.

The list and an accompanying court filing from the Justice Department did not say whether all the contents of the folders had been recovered. But the filing noted that the inquiry into Mr. Trump’s handling of the documents remained “an active criminal investigation.”

The inventory also sheds further light on how the documents marked as classified were stored haphazardly in boxes or in containers, mixed among news clippings and “other printed media,” articles of clothing, books and “gift items.”

The inventory listed seven batches of materials taken by the F.B.I. from Mr. Trump’s personal office at Mar-a-Lago that contained government-owned documents and photographs, some marked with classification levels up to “top secret” and some that were not marked as classified. The list also included batches of government documents that had been in 26 boxes or containers in a storage room at the compound.

In all, the list said, the F.B.I. retrieved 18 documents marked as top secret, 54 marked as secret, 31 marked as confidential, and 11,179 government documents or photographs without classification markings.

A federal judge in Florida, Aileen M. Cannon, ordered the inventory list to be released during a hearing on Thursday to determine whether to appoint a so-called special master to review the government records seized from Mar-a-Lago for any that could be privileged. Judge Cannon said that she would issue a written decision on the matter “in due course.”

Mr. Trump appeared to acknowledge on social media this week that he knew that much of this material was at his estate, complaining about a photograph that the Justice Department released on Tuesday night that cataloged some of the evidence that had been seized.

The photograph showed several folders with “top secret” markings and some documents with classification markings visible. All the material was arrayed on a carpet near a placard labeled “2A,” presumably to make a record of what was in a box of that number before the F.B.I. removed it from Mar-a-Lago.

A shorter inventory, released earlier, said Box 2A contained materials found in Mr. Trump’s personal office. In a social media post, the former president declared that the folders had been kept in “cartons” rather than “sloppily” left on the floor, suggesting that he had been aware of the presence of the materials.

 

 

djt looking up

World Crisis Radio, Strategic Analysis: Biden formally warns nation and world that US is threatened by fascist dictatorship sought by Trump’s webster tarpley 2007degenerate MAGAt faction, Webster G. Tarpley, right, Sept. 3, 2022 (94:52 mins.). You have been warned!

New York Times calls for Trump’s indictment, which [conservative legal pundits] Andy McCarthy and Judge Napolitano consider imminent; Critical issue remains the indictment, not the Special Master issue;

FBI’s haul from August 8 raid includes 11,000 pages and pictures, 90 empty folders for classified and military aide/staff secretary documents;

Worse than library fines for unreturned books: CIA emergency message to all posts in October 2021 warned of severe losses in killed and flipped among agents and informants; Filchgate: Trump is still silent on his real motive in purloining masses of secret papers;

More to come: Wapo source suggests work of National Archives in recovering documents ”may not yet be done”: ”there might still be more records missing,” says one official;

At 66 days to vote, Biden popularity rises to 45%; Democrats take 3% lead in WSJ Congressional generic ballot, up from minus 5% in March, adding up to an 8% gain; Continuing winning skein from Kansas referendum and NY-19, Democrat wins Alaska House seat, defeating proto-Trumper Palin;

Wave of scientific optimism from Artemis moon shot can turn mass culture and psychology even faster against MAGAts;

G-7 ministers approve price cap on purchases of oil from Russia, while EU Commission endorses price cap for natural gas; Putin responds by cutting natural gas flow from Russia to Europe through Nordstream I; Kherson offensive is rolling;
French Energy Minister pledges that all 56 of France’s reactors will be working by winter, including the 32 now being serviced;

More proof of contemporary fascist threat: Melloni-Berlusconi-Salvini bloc could become the next Italian government after September 25 election, just in time for 100-year anniversary of Mussolini’s infamous March on Rome, which opened the fascist era!

On Labor Day weekend, celebrating 641 NLRB elections won by unions so far this year, defeating union busters at Trader Joe’s, Chipotle, Amazon, and 230 Starbucks! Breaking: Michigan MAGAts use technicalities to throw abortion rights referendum off the ballot because they know they will lose!

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump's blood-soaked hands may be behind suspicious deaths, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 22 books and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Sept. 2-3, 2022. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallPart of the damage assessment currently being conducted by the Intelligence Community with the possibility that Donald Trump, as president and after, compromised U.S. intelligence assets and sources will be to closely examine several suspicious deaths and outright assassinations of influential and key people abroad and in the United States.

wayne madesen report logoIn order to be considered a source or asset for the Central Intelligence Agency's Human Control System (HCS), any substantial contact between a U.S. intelligence agent and a source or asset would likely be identified in classified Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) HCS files. These files include those illegally kept by Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and at his other properties in the United States and abroad.

Working in concert with its foreign intelligence partners, the U.S. Intelligence Community will examine every source possibly compromised during and after the Trump presidency.

The following chart contains the names of politically-connected decedents around the world whose causes of death were suspicious or not provided. For example, anti-Vladimir Putin Russian businessman Daniel Rapoport was found dead outside of his Washington, DC apartment on August 14. Police ruled Rapoport's death as not suspicious. He supposedly jumped from the 8th floor of his apartment building. Rapoport's suspicious death mirrors those of other Russian critics of Putin, with "jumping" from windows being quite a common cause of death.

WMR has examined the record of suspicious deaths since April of this year. Deaths from Covid have been filtered out. The CIA and other agencies are more than likely looking back to the very day Trump took office, January 20, 2017, to ascertain the damage he has caused to America's network of sources and informants for intelligence. That is no easy task.

ny times logoNew York Times, Barr Dismisses Trump’s Request for a Special Master, Glenn Thrush, Sept. 3, 2022 (print ed.). Former Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department was justified in investigating former President Trump’s handling of government materials.

Former Attorney General William P. Barr dismissed former President Donald J. Trump’s call for an independent review of materials seized from his Florida home on Friday — and said an inventory of items recovered in the search last month seemed to support the Justice Department’s claim that it was needed to safeguard national security.

Justice Department log circular“As more information comes out, the actions of the department look more understandable,” Mr. Barr told The New York Times in a phone interview, speaking of the decision by the current attorney general, Merrick B. Garland, to seek a search warrant of the complex at Mar-a-Lago.

“It seems to me they were driven by concern about highly sensitive information being strewn all over a country club, and it was taking them almost two years to get it back,” said Mr. Barr, who resigned in December 2020, as Mr. Trump pushed him to support false claims that the election had been stolen.

“It appears that there’s been a lot of jerking around of the government,” he added. “I’m not sure the department could have gotten it back without taking action.”

Sept. 1

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump-Led Extremism a Direct Threat to America, Biden Plans to Say in Speech, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Sept. 1, 2022. President Biden’s prime-time speech comes amid deep divisions. About three-quarters of Americans think the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction, a poll found.

joe biden flag profile uncredited palmerPresident Biden will travel to Philadelphia on Thursday for a prime-time address in which he will accuse Republicans loyal to former President Donald J. Trump of embracing a form of extremism that is a direct threat to the United States.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity to preview the speech, a senior White House official said the president would state in direct language how “MAGA Republicans” have put the nation’s institutions at risk and undermined democratic values.

The focus on threats to democracy is a return to the issue that Mr. Biden said drove him to run for the presidency, after white supremacists marched through Charlottesville, Va., in 2017.

The speech is intended to deliver a dark message about threats to the very fabric of American democracy.

But aides said Mr. Biden would try to strike a tricky balance nine weeks before the midterm elections, seeking to offer a sense of optimism about the country’s future and urging Americans to fight against extremism.

 djt fbi evidence mar a lago

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover. (U.S. Department of Justice photo.)

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump's cache of stolen classified files resembles those of America's most notorious spies, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 22 books and former Navy wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallintelligence officer and NSA analyst, Aug. 31-Sept. 1, 2022. Trump's treason may have led to deaths of U.S. informants and intelligence assets in Saudi Arabia and Russia. Trump's cache of stolen classified wayne madesen report logofiles resembles those of America's most notorious spies.

Photographic evidence of the classified documents Donald Trump had strewn around Mar-a-Lago presents the U.S. Intelligence Community with the shocking depth and breadth of the compromise by Trump and his associates, Kash Patel and John Solomon, right, of America's most sensitive intelligence.

john solomonAs damage assessment teams from across 17 U.S. intelligence agencies conduct in-depth analyses of compromised intelligence sources, technical methods, and relationships with foreign intelligence services, federal law enforcement photographic evidence of unprotected classified documents at Mar-a-Lago will give the most seasoned U.S. counterintelligence professional pause.

The cache of documents resembles those seized from America's most notorious spies, including Jonathan Pollard, Robert Hanssen, Aldrich Ames, shown below left in a mug shot, and John Walker.

A photograph of the files on the floor at Mar-a-Lago was contained in a Department of Justice filing to federal Judge Aileen Cannon. A naturalized citizen born in Cali, Colombia, Cannon was selected by Trump's lawyers within the U.S. District Court Circuit for South Florida after engaging in a favorable judge-shopping spree.

The gambit of Trump's legal team is to stall further legal action against him and the aldrich ames muggovernment's damage assessment efforts by arguing for the appointment of a third-party "special master" to oversee a document filtering process.

Trump elected to have such information stored in unsecured locations around Mar-a-Lago, which sees heavy traffic of foreign nationals. Many of the documents seized at the Palm Beach location were marked NOFORN, which means Not Releasable to Foreign Nationals.

It is the HCS-P files that may have caused the most damage to America's Human Intelligence sources. There is informed speculation that Jared Kushner shared critical HUMINT with his friend and financial benefactor -- to the tune of $2 billion -- Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), right. The October 2, 2018 grisly assassination of Washington Post mohammed bin salman al saudcolumnist Jamal Khashoggi and the torture and beating of several Saudi princes and businessmen by MbS's ruthless secret police may be a by-product of the compromise of HUMINT to the Saudis.

In March, MbS carried out a mass execution of 81 people, 41 of whom were Shi'as, for what the Saudi Interior Ministry described as "terrorism." How many of those executed had been U.S. intelligence assets may never be known but Kushner's reported compromise of U.S. classified information to MbS may have placed some Saudis or citizens of other countries on MbS's execution list.

There are also questions surrounding the suspicious deaths of several Russian oligarchs subsequent to Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Many of these deaths fit a pattern when it comes to Putin silencing those who are opposed to his policies.

Politico, Judge considers temporary limit on DOJ access to Trump documents, Josh Gerstein, Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu, Sept. 1, 2022. Government lawyers argue in hearing that there's 'evidence of three significant federal crimes' but judge may allow special review.

A federal judge indicated Thursday that she’s seriously considering temporarily barring Justice Department investigators from reviewing material politico Customseized from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon, right, suggested that she’s mulling imposing that restriction, while potentially allowing an exception for the intelligence community to continue reviewing national security risks from the potential exposure of the seized documents.

aileen cannonJustice Department attorneys pushed back sharply against that outcome, warning against any disruption to their ongoing criminal investigation of Trump’s handling of classified documents. Cannon, who previously said she’s inclined to appoint an outside review of the materials seized form Trump’s estate, appeared undeterred during a 90-minute hearing that featured arguments from DOJ counterintelligence officials and Trump’s legal team.

Justice Department attorneys repeatedly pleaded with Cannon not to interrupt their ongoing criminal probe, emphasizing that the search warrant executed on Aug. 8 was clearly valid and authorized to obtain “evidence of three significant federal crimes.”

“He is no longer the president and because he is no longer the president he did not have the right to take those documents,” said Jay Bratt, the chief of the Justice Department’s counterintelligence division. “He was unlawfully in possession of them…This plaintiff does not have an interest in the classified and other presidential records.”

Cannon, a Trump appointee, said she was concerned about a couple of instances in which the investigative team had flagged potentially privileged material that was not screened out during the initial review of records by the DOJ “filter team” assigned to prevent such occurrences. She also indicated she might support a special master with broad purview to screen documents for any potentially subject to executive privilege claims by Trump — despite DOJ’s argument that no such claim could ever be upheld.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump vows pardons, government apology to Capitol rioters if he’s elected, Mariana Alfaro, Sept. 1, 2022. The comments came on the same day President Biden was delivering a prime-time address warning of the threat to democracy from “MAGA Republicans” and election deniers.

Former president Donald Trump said he would issue full pardons and a government apology to rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and violently attacked law enforcement to stop the democratic transfer of power.

“I mean full pardons with an apology to many,” he told conservative radio host Wendy Bell on Thursday morning. Such a move would be contingent on Trump running and winning the 2024 presidential election.

Supporters of the former president attacked the Capitol as Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s electoral college win in the 2020 election, the worst attack on the seat of democracy in more than two centuries. The insurrection left four people dead and an officer who had been sprayed with a powerful chemical irritant, Brian D. Sicknick, suffered a stroke and died the next day. Some 140 members of law enforcement were injured as rioters attacked them with flagpoles, baseball bats, stun guns, bear spray and pepper spray.

 

thomas webster dc police

D.C. Police body-camera footage shows Marine veteran and retired NYPD officer Thomas Webster scream profanities and attack officers during the Jan. 6 riot. (Video: U.S. Attorney’s Office)

washington post logoWashington Post, Body-camera video shows former NYPD cop attack police during Capitol riot, DOJ says, Tom Jackman, Sept. 1, 2022. NYPD cop who assaulted police receives longest Jan. 6 sentence yet: 10 years. The punishment for Thomas Webster is the stiffest so far for a Capitol riot defendant.

A former New York City police officer and Marine Corps veteran, who swung a flagpole at police before tackling one officer and yanking his gas mask off during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced to 10 years in prison Thursday, the longest sentence handed down so far among the more than 860 people charged in the insurrection.

Thomas Webster, 56, of Goshen, N.Y., was the first riot defendant facing the felony charge of assaulting an officer to try his luck with a jury. Twelve others have pleaded guilty to a similar charge. Webster took the witness stand at his trial and testified that he was acting in self-defense, saying D.C. police officer Noah Rathbun had instigated the fight.

Video showed Webster yelling at police on the Lower West Plaza of the Capitol, as officers struggled to maintain a perimeter outside the building. Rathbun then pushed Webster in the face — Rathbun testified his hand slipped off Webster’s shoulder — before Webster swung and smashed a Marine Corps flagpole on a bike rack and then tackled Rathbun. Webster pulled the officer’s gas mask off, causing Rathbun to begin choking on tear gas, the officer testified.

The jury took three hours before finding Webster guilty in May of the assault and four other felony charges.
Thomas Webster, left, is seen in this still image from a body camera, attacking D.C. Police Officer Noah Rathbun outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Image from Government's Sentencing Memorandum to the US District Court for the District of Columbia)

In the government’s sentencing memorandum, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hava Mirell said Webster’s argument that “a 20-year NYPD veteran believed he was entitled to retaliate with deadly and dangerous force against the vulnerable and non-violent Officer Rathbun is not only absurd, but dangerous. It may cause others to follow suit and use violence against an officer because of a political grievance.”

washington post logoWashington Post, A second man pleads guilty to Jan. 6 assault on officer Sicknick, who died of natural causes the next day, Spencer S. Hsu and Rachel Weiner, Sept. 1, 2022. Julian Khater admitted he deployed chemical spray on officers defending the Capitol, including Brian D. Sicknick, who later collapsed and died the following day.

A Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty Thursday to a chemical-spray assault on three police officers in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, including Brian D. Sicknick, who later collapsed and died the following day.

In a plea deal with federal prosecutors, Julian Khater, a smoothie-shop owner of State College, Pa., admitted to assaulting and injuring law enforcement officers with a dangerous weapon. Along with co-defendant George Tanios, Khater had faced a 10-count indictment that included felony charges of rioting and obstructing Congress’s confirmation of Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. Tanios pleaded guilty on July 27 to reduced misdemeanor charges.

Co-defendant in Jan. 6 Sicknick assault case pleads guilty

Khater pleaded guilty to counts punishable by up to 20 years in prison but faces a likely sentence of 78 to 97 months under federal guidelines negotiated with prosecutors. He has spent 17 months behind bars since his arrest and will be sentenced Dec. 13.

Khater’s plea resolves one of the most high-profile attacks on police in the Jan. 6 riot, in which nearly 140 defendants have been charged with felony assault against an officer. Childhood friends Khater, 33, and Tanios, 40, deployed chemical spray against officers holding back a violent crowd on the West Terrace of the Capitol, injuring Sicknick and others at a thin point in police lines.

  United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (l) with his wife of thirty-five years, Virginia (Ginni) Thomas (r). (Safe Image)

United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (l) with his wife of thirty-five years, Virginia (Ginni) Thomas (r).

washington post logoWashington Post, Investigation: Ginni Thomas pressed Wisconsin lawmakers to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 election win, emails show, Emma Brown, Sept. 1, 2022. The conservative activist and wife of the Supreme Court justice emailed lawmakers in two states in the weeks after the election.

Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed lawmakers to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory not only in Arizona, as previously reported, but also in a second battleground state, Wisconsin, according to emails obtained under state public-records law.

The Washington Post reported this year that Ginni Thomas emailed 29 Arizona state lawmakers, some of them twice, in November and December 2020. She urged them to set aside Biden’s popular-vote victory and “choose” their own presidential electors, despite the fact that the responsibility for choosing electors rests with voters under Arizona state law.

The new emails show that Thomas also messaged two Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin: state Sen. Kathy Bernier, then chair of the Senate elections committee, and state Rep. Gary Tauchen. Bernier and Tauchen received the email at 10:47 a.m. on Nov. 9, virtually the same time the Arizona lawmakers received a verbatim copy of the message from Thomas. The Bernier email was obtained by The Post, and the Tauchen email was obtained by the watchdog group Documented and provided to The Post.

Thomas sent all of the emails via FreeRoots, an online platform that allowed people to send pre-written emails to multiple elected officials.

 

 

christina bobb resized

washington post logoWashington Post, Justice Dept. filing points to new legal trouble for Trump and lawyers, experts say, Perry Stein, Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey and Devlin Barrett, Sept. 1, 2022. The evidence laid out in the filing could build a case that Trump attorneys Evan Corcoran and Christina Bobb, above, obstructed the government’s investigation into documents taken to Mar-a-Lago.

There’s no way to predict whether the Justice Department will ultimately pursue charges against the former president or his associates. But in a court filing Tuesday night, government lawyers recounted numerous instances in which Trump’s lawyers allegedly misled government officials during the investigation, and in which Trump or his team appear to have haphazardly handled materials that contained national security secrets.

The evidence laid out in the filing, experts said, could build a legal case that Trump attorneys Evan Corcoran and Christina Bobb obstructed the government’s investigation, allegedly telling FBI agents and prosecutors that they had handed over all classified documents when in fact many remained in Trump’s possession.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: DOJ’s Mar-a-Lago filing reveals damning details on the Trump papers saga, Editorial Board, Sept. 1, 2022. Americans following the Mar-a-Lago search saga have, until this week, had to imagine what all the fuss was about, based on written descriptions of what the FBI found when it scoured former president Donald Trump’s home on Aug. 8. That changed late Tuesday, when the Justice Department released a photograph showing several sets of papers labeled “Top Secret/SCI,” in menacing red-lettered folders, strewn on a carpeted floor alongside a cardboard box containing at least one framed Time magazine cover.

The image of materials apparently found in the so-called 45 Office, Mr. Trump’s post-presidential working space, speaks powerfully to the grave concerns that appear to have driven Attorney General Merrick Garland to approve the search. Worse for Mr. Trump, the government included it in a court filing that provided the clearest accounting yet of the extent to which, according to the government’s narrative, the Trump team delayed the investigation — and might have deceived the investigators.

The DOJ’s filing came in an official response to Mr. Trump’s lawyers, who asked a federal judge for special review of the documents the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago. The government made a persuasive case that, because the United States, not the former president, owns the papers in question, he lacks standing to request judicial relief or oversight. Along the way, the Justice Department revealed several alarming details about the probe.

Not only did Mr. Trump’s representatives neglect to turn over all the documents taken from the White House, they did so multiple times. First, they furnished 15 boxes to the National Archives. Then, after a grand jury subpoena, they provided a single additional envelope they said they had found after a thorough search. Once the FBI conducted its own search, investigators uncovered more than twice the amount of materials than were in the envelope. Some of these papers were in the storage room that the representatives insisted was the only location records had been placed. Some of them were elsewhere.

A federal judge unsealed a redacted affidavit last week, which the Justice Department had used to justify its search, and it included a reference to potential obstructive behavior. Now, the public knows more about what is behind the suspicion. Mr. Garland’s decision to inspect Mar-a-Lago looks more sensible and less precipitous than many had rushed to charge in the days following the FBI search.

In the weeks since the FBI search, Mr. Trump’s defenders have argued that the former president might have declassified the documents or that they were subject to executive privilege. Yet the Trump team never made these arguments as investigators sought their return, the government’s Tuesday filing said, suggesting that they are after-the-fact justifications rather than serious legal arguments.

Concerns about Justice Department politicization look less credible. Separately, the DOJ has also placed new restrictions on administration-appointed employees preventing them from attending fundraisers or campaign events, an additional safeguard of the department’s independence.

There is still a huge amount the public does not know about the Trump documents case, such as the potential harm of having these papers in such insecure circumstances, and big questions the nation’s leaders will have to consider, such as whether prosecuting a former president — and possible 2024 candidate — would be good for the country. The reasonable approach is to wait and watch; Mr. Garland has earned the public’s patience.

 

August

Aug. 31

 

 

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. (U.S. Department of Justice)

Partially redacted documents with classified markings, including colored cover sheets indicating their status, that FBI agents reported finding in former president Donald Trump’s office at his Mar-a-Lago estate. The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover. (U.S. Department of Justice photo.)

ap logoAssociated Press, Feds cite efforts to obstruct probe of docs at Trump estate, Eric Tucker, Jill Colvin and Michael Balsamo, The Justice Department says classified documents were “likely concealed and removed” from a storage room at former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate as part of an effort to obstruct the federal investigation into the discovery of the government records.

The FBI also seized boxes and containers holding more than 100 classified records during its Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago and found classified documents stashed in Trump’s office, according to a filing that lays out the most detailed chronology to date of months of strained interactions between Justice Department officials and Trump representatives over the discovery of government secrets.

The filing offers yet another indication of the sheer volume of classified records retrieved from Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida. It shows how investigators conducting a criminal probe have focused not just on why the records were improperly stored there but also on the question of whether the Trump team intentionally misled them about the continued, and unlawful, presence of the top secret documents.

The timeline laid out by the Justice Department made clear that the extraordinary search of Mar-a-Lago came only after other efforts to retrieve the records had failed and that it resulted from law enforcement suspicion that additional documents remained inside the property despite assurances by Trump representatives that a “diligent search” had accounted for all of the material.

It also included a picture of some of the seized documents with colored cover sheets indicating their classified status, perhaps as a way to rebut suggestions that whoever packed them or handled them at Mar-a-Lago could have easily failed to appreciate their sensitive nature.

The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover.

Though it contains significant new details on the investigation, the Justice Department filing does not resolve a core question that has driven public fascination with the investigation — why Trump held onto the documents after he left the White House and why he and his team resisted repeated efforts to give them back. In fact, it suggests officials may not have received an answer.

It also included a picture of some of the seized documents with colored cover sheets indicating their classified status, perhaps as a way to rebut suggestions that whoever packed them or handled them at Mar-a-Lago could have easily failed to appreciate their sensitive nature.

The photo shows the cover pages of a smattering of paperclip-bound classified documents — some marked as “TOP SECRET//SCI” with bright yellow borders and one marked as “SECRET//SCI” with a rust-colored border — along with whited-out pages, splayed out on a carpet at Mar-a-Lago. Beside them sits a cardboard box filled with gold-framed pictures, including a Time magazine cover.

Though it contains significant new details on the investigation, the Justice Department filing does not resolve a core question that has driven public fascination with the investigation — why Trump held onto the documents after he left the White House and why he and his team resisted repeated efforts to give them back. In fact, it suggests officials may not have received an answer.

During a June 3 visit to Mar-a-Lago by FBI and Justice Department officials, the document states, “Counsel for the former President offered no explanation as to why boxes of government records, including 38 documents with classification markings, remained at the Premises nearly five months after the production of the Fifteen Boxes and nearly one-and-a-half years after the end of the Administration.”

That visit, which came weeks after the Justice Department issued a subpoena for the records, receives substantial attention in the document and appears to be a key investigative focus.

Though Trump has said he had declassified all of the documents at Mar-a-Lago, his lawyers did not suggest that during the visit and instead “handled them in a manner that suggested counsel believed that the documents were classified,” according to the document.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s loony rants should remind the GOP his nomination would be disastrous, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 31, 2022. One jennifer rubin new headshotdoes not need a medical degree or a therapist’s license to conclude that defeated former president Donald Trump’s nutty rant insisting that he be made president immediately or the 2020 election be rerun is the sign of an unhinged personality.

Under pressure from the increasingly potent espionage investigation, he might be losing his grip. For a change, you don’t hear Republicans rushing forth to support his latest insane demand.

Trump’s posting of QAnon messages and implicit threats (in increasingly unintelligible syntax) suggests that he is losing the ability or desire to control his impulsive outbursts. This is the guy whom millions of Republicans want to nominate for president.

Since the redacted affidavit was released last week, the only two defenses from Republicans are no defenses at all. The first, courtesy of Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), amounts to extortion: Prosecute Trump and there’ll be blood in the streets. The second is the laughable inquiry: Is that all? It’s not “all,” because the affidavit was heavily redacted. Moreover, the notion that we are talking “just” about documents ignores that most espionage cases are about documents (or equivalent material). That’s where the secrets are.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump has unhinged meltdown about “terrible” DOJ filing, Bill Palmer, right, Aug. 31, 2022. Donald Trump spent all day bill palmermelting down on his failed social network, making about a hundred increasingly frantic and frazzled posts that were over the top even by his standards. This was presumably because he knew that by the end of the day, the DOJ would drop the hammer on him with a lengthy court filing spelling out just how throughly it has him nailed.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, that document became public just before midnight last night, by which time Trump was presumably passed out near a bowl of Jello or something. But now he’s resumed his ranting and raving this morning, and – not shockingly – he thinks it’s all “terrible.”

Trump seems particularly upset about the DOJ’s decision to include a photo of clearly labeled highly classified documents that it found in a box mixed in with Trump’s framed copies of himself on the cover of Time Magazine. The photo helped make clear that Trump took the classified documents and considered them to be his personal property, even though he could tell just by looking at their covers that they were property of the government.

Nonetheless, Trump still thinks it’s “terrible” that the DOJ dared to do this. He’s accusing them of having thrown classified documents “haphazardly all over the floor (perhaps pretending it was me that did it!).” Trump is also apparently very upset that the DOJ released photos of these documents, which he says were supposed to be “secret.” He then claims he’s already declassified them, a false claim that even his own legal team has never officially made at any point.

We’re not going to keep sharing every deranged thought that pops out of Trump’s head today. But his initial response this morning does serve to demonstrate where his mindset is now that the DOJ has released this mammoth public court filing. He’s focused on whining like a baby and floating baseless legal defenses that probably hurt him more than help him. By (falsely) claiming he was allowed to be in possession of these documents because he declassified them, he’s admitting that they were indeed in his possession. So much for blaming the coffee boy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump wants to be treated like Hillary Clinton? By all means, Dana Milbank, right, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). Donald Trump dana milbank newestand his MAGA mouthpieces say the former president should be treated the same way Hillary Clinton was — and they’re right!

Ever since the FBI found boxes upon boxes of government secrets hoarded at his resort residence, Trump has complained that he’s being held to a different standard from the one applied to Clinton during the probe of her private email server in 2016. “Absolutely nothing has happened to hold her accountable,” Trump claimed when he confirmed the search of Mar-a-Lago.

So, by all means, let’s relitigate. In fact, Trump should be treated exactly the way Clinton was:

The FBI should undertake a sprawling, multiyear investigation into Trump’s conduct, grilling him and his staff, running extensive forensics, and examining whether his actions allowed hostile actors to compromise U.S. security. The FBI should continue to keep him under investigation while he runs for president in 2024.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump’s attorneys Christina Bobb and Evan Corcoran may have to flip on him after this DOJ filing, Bill Palmer, right, Aug. bill palmer31, 2022. We kept seeing it in major media reports, and now we’re seeing it in a public DOJ court filing. Back in May, Donald Trump’s attorney Christina Bobb signed a letter, authored by Evan Corcoran, asserting to the DOJ that all classified documents in Trump’s possession had been returned. This letter obviously turned out to be a false claim, and is felony obstruction of justice on someone’s part.

bill palmer report logo headerThere are two possible explanations here. The first would be that one or both of Trump’s lawyers knew the letter was a lie when they wrote and signed it. In such case, the attorney(s) would be charged for obstruction, and their only hope of getting off the hook would be to cut a plea deal or immunity deal against Trump.

The second scenario would be that Trump lied to his lawyers about the documents, tricking them into writing and signing this letter. In such case his lawyers would be innocent, but would still be material witnesses who would be compelled to testify against him – and refusing to testify could make them guilty of obstruction.

In either scenario, Trump’s lawyers would need to withdraw from their representation of him in order to cooperate against him. And if they’re looking for full immunity, they’d probably need to convince the DOJ that they were indeed misled, as opposed to being in on the plot. As so often ends up being the case, Trump’s newest lawyers already need their own lawyers.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Bill Barr Made the Decision to Clear Trump, and That Should Still Frighten Us, Neal K. Katyal, right, Aug. 31, 2022 (print ed.). The neal katyal omemo released last week by the Justice Department closing the book on the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election is a frightening document.

Critics have rightly focused on its substance, slipshod legal analysis and omission of damning facts.

But the process by which that memo, sent in March 2019, came to be is just as worrisome. Delivered to the attorney general at the time, Bill Barr, the memo was written by two political appointees in the Justice Department.

Mr. Barr (above right) used the memo to go around the special counsel regulations and to clear President Donald Trump of obstruction of justice. If left to fester, this decision will have pernicious consequences for investigations of future high-level wrongdoing.

It raises particular concerns because, as a young Justice Department staff member, I drafted the special counsel regulations in 1999 to prevent the exact problem of having partisan political appointees undermine an investigation. The regulations were put in place to ensure that the counsel would make any determination to charge or not and to force the attorney general to overrule those determinations specifically and before Congress.

The 2019 memo tendentiously argued that Mr. Trump committed no crimes — leaving the final decision on the matter to Republican-aligned robert mueller testifying flickrappointees instead of to the independent special counsel, left.

The challenge in devising the regulations was to develop a framework for the prosecution of high-level executive branch officials — which is harder than it sounds, because the Constitution requires the executive branch to control prosecutions. So we are left with one of the oldest philosophical problems: Who will guard the guardians?

The solution we landed on was to have a special counsel take over the investigative and prosecutorial functions. That counsel was vested with day-to-day independence in an investigation, but the attorney general would still be able to overrule the special counsel — but, crucially, if the attorney general overruled, to report to Congress, to ensure accountability.

The regulations were written with an untrustworthy president in mind, more so than the problem that Mr. Barr presented, which is an untrustworthy attorney general. Unlike presidents, attorneys general are confirmed by the Senate, with a 60-vote threshold — so we assumed they would be reasonably nonpartisan. And we also knew there was no way around the attorney general being the ultimate decider, because the Constitution requires the executive branch to control prosecutions.

We created the role of special counsel to fill a void — to concentrate in one person responsibility and ultimate blame so that investigations would not be covered up from the get-go and to give that person independence from political pressure.

It is outrageous that Mr. Barr acted so brazenly in the face of this framework. The point of requiring a special counsel was to provide for an independent determination of any potential criminal wrongdoing by Mr. Trump.

But the political appointees in his Justice Department took what was the most important part of that inquiry — the decision of whether he committed crimes — and grabbed it for themselves. This was a fundamental betrayal of the special counsel guidelines not for some principle but because it protected their boss, Mr. Trump. It is the precise problem that the regulations were designed to avoid and why the regulations give the counsel “the full power and independent authority to exercise all investigative and prosecutorial functions of any United States attorney.”

Mr. Katyal is a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, was an acting solicitor general in the Obama administration and is a co-author of “Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump.”

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Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Exclusive: Trump left Sarasota media company weeks before federal subpoenas were issued, Chris Anderson, Aug. 31, 2022. Donald Trump removed himself from the board of his Sarasota-based social media company, records show, just weeks before the company was issued federal subpoenas by both the Securities and Exchange Commission and a grand jury in Manhattan.

Trump, the chairman of Trump Media and Technology Group, was one of six board members removed on June 8, state business records show.

Among the board members removed were Kashyap Patel, Trump's former point man in the White House; Scott Glabe, a former assistant to Trump who was counsel for the media company; and Donald Trump, Jr.

The SEC served Trump Media and Technology Group with a subpoena on June 27, according to a regulatory filing. Trump's media company owns Truth Social, an app similar to Twitter. Trump was banned by Twitter for inflammatory remarks concerning the insurrection.

Four days later, on July 1, a grand jury in the Southern District of New York handed the company another federal subpoena, an action that typically means a potential criminal investigation is in progress.

The investigations appear to be related to a proposed merger between Trump's media company and a blank-check company called Digital World Acquisitions Corp., according to a recent regulatory filing.

Aug. 30

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago documents already examined by FBI, Justice Dept. tells judge, Devlin Barrett, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). A ‘filter team’ has completed its review of material possibly covered by attorney-client privilege, the court filing says.

FBI agents have already finished their examination of possibly privileged documents seized in an Aug. 8 search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, according to a Justice Department court filing Monday that could undercut the former president’s efforts to have a special master appointed to review the files.

Justice Department log circularThe “filter team” used by the Justice Department to sort through the documents and weed out any material that should not be reviewed by criminal investigators has completed its review, the brief filed by Justice Department prosecutors says. The filing came in response to a decision Saturday by U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon to hold a hearing this week on Trump’s motion seeking the appointment of a special master.

The filing says prosecutors will provide more information later this week. But it notes that even before the judge’s weekend ruling, the filter team had “identified a limited set of materials that potentially contain attorney-client privileged information, completed its review of those materials, and is in the process of following the procedures” spelled out in the search warrant to handle any privilege disputes.

 

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washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump again summons the mob, Ruth Marcus, right, Aug. 30, 2022 (print ed.). Richard M. Nixon famously deployed the ruth marcusmadman theory of foreign policy, directing aides to suggest to his counterparts overseas that they might not be able to control a volatile and reckless president.

Now, Donald Trump and his defenders are using a version of that gambit to deter the Justice Department from prosecuting the former president, arguing that going after Trump would dangerously incite his already angry followers.

Trump had his lawyer deliver this sinister message to Attorney General Merrick Garland — wrapped in a purported effort to calm the waters. “President Trump wants the Attorney General to know that he has been hearing from people all over the country about the raid. If there was one word to describe their mood, it is ‘angry,’ ” a Trump lawyer told a senior Justice Department official three days after the search at Mar-a-Lago. “The heat is building up. The pressure is building up. Whatever I can do to take the heat down, to bring the pressure down, just let us know.”

Then, on Sunday, Trump acolyte Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) didn’t bother with the disingenuous niceties. He went straight to the threat.

Let’s address that supposed “double standard” between Trump and Hillary Clinton: There isn’t one. Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state was, as I said at the time, sloppy and exasperating. She shouldn’t have used her private email address for official business, and she should have been more careful about classified information being on it. This is, as then-FBI Director James B. Comey concluded, a far cry from an indictable offense.

How does Trump’s conduct fit into this rubric? With so much of the evidence under seal, we can’t tell for sure. But we know, based on the redacted affidavit, that there appear to be significant differences between the Clinton and Trump situations.

 

anthony ornato djtUSA Today, Anthony Ornato, Secret Service and Trump official named in explosive Jan. 6 testimony, retires, Bart Jansen, Aug. 30, 2022. Ornato, shown above in sunglasses, was expected to testify to the House committee investigating the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, after another witness described him talking about a clash between Trump and his security detail. A former White House aide to Donald Trump who was a central figure in explosive testimony about the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, retired Monday from the Secret Service.

usa today logo 5Anthony Ornato, who served as Trump’s deputy chief of staff for operations while also a top Secret Service official, retired after 25 years with the agency, according to agency spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

“I long-planned to retire and have been planning this transition for more than a year,” Ornato, the former assistant director for the office of training, said in a statement to Politico.

Ornato’s retirement comes as the House committee awaits his additional testimony about an incident involving Trump before the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Members of the Secret Service, including Tony Ornato, right, stand guard as then-President Donald Trump, left, speaks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington before departing, Sept. 9, 2019.
A former Trump aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, testified that Ornato told her after Trump’s speech on Jan. 6, 2021, that the president tried to grab the steering wheel in his vehicle and lunged for the chief of his Secret Service security, Robert Engel, in order to join the mob at the Capitol rather than return to the White House.

Hutchinson said Ornato described the incident while Engel was in the room with them and Engel didn’t correct the story.

“Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, ‘Sir, you need to take your arm off the steering wheel,’” Hutchinson testified. “’We’re going back to the West Wing. We’re not going to the Capitol.’ Mr Trump then used his free hand to lunge towards Bobby Engel and when Mr. Ornato recounted this story for me, he had motioned towards his clavicles.”

Ornato and Engel, who each cooperated with the committee before the June hearing, reportedly wanted to testify again to clear up potential disputes with Hutchinson’s testimony.

Cassidy Hutchinson testifies before the January 6th commission.
Guglielmi said the Secret Service has cooperated with the investigation and made officials available for testimony. It will be up to Ornato to decide whether to testify.

“Certainly when he was an employee of the service, he had all intentions of testifying,” Guglielmi said. “Now that he’s a private citizen working for another organization, you’re going to have to check with him on if that still stands.”

A committee spokesman declined comment on Ornato’s retirement.

Ornato joined the Secret Service in 1997 and served under five presidential administrations. Before joining the White House in 2019, Ornato served as deputy assistant director of the Secret Service’s office of investigations. He previously served in the presidential protective division during the George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump administrations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The next scary matter for Trump’s lawyers: The crime-fraud exception, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 30, 2022.  Even jennifer rubin new headshotoccasional “Law & Order” viewers know that the conversations between a criminal defendant and his lawyer are normally protected from prosecutors.

However, when any lawyer becomes a co-conspirator, such attorney-client privilege evaporates because of what is known as the “crime-fraud exception.” If you’re participating in a crime rather than defending a criminal, you and your client don’t get the benefit of the attorney-client privilege.

In the case of former president Donald Trump, we may soon get a treatise on the crime-fraud exception, as the matter is poised to come up in a shockingly large number of instances.

Aug. 29

Politico, Analysis: When an election denier becomes a chief election official, Zach Montellaro, Aug. 29, 2022. Trump-aligned secretary of state hopefuls are campaigning against ballot counting machines and could complicate mail voting, among other changes.

politico CustomMany of the election deniers running for secretary of state this year have spent their time talking about something they can’t do: “decertifying” the 2020 results.

The bigger question — amid concerns about whether they would fairly administer the 2024 presidential election — is exactly what powers they would have if they win in November.

Atop the list of the most disruptive things they could do is refusing to certify accurate election results — a nearly unprecedented step that would set off litigation in state and federal court. That has already played out on a smaller scale this year, when a small county in New Mexico refused to certify election results over unfounded fears about election machines, until a state court ordered them to certify.

But secretaries of states’ roles in elections stretch far beyond approving vote tallies and certifying results. Many of the candidates want to dramatically change the rules for future elections, too.

djt maga hatThe Donald Trump-aligned Republican nominees in a number of presidential battleground states have advocated for sweeping changes to election law, with a particular focus on targeting absentee and mail voting in their states — keying off one of Trump’s obsessions.

And even if they cannot push through major changes to state law using allies in the legislatures, they could still complicate and frustrate elections through the regulatory directives that guide the day-to-day execution of election procedures by county officials in their states.

That could include things from targeting the use of ballot tabulation machines, which have become the subject of conspiracy theories on the right, to changing forms used for voter registration or absentee ballot requests in ways that make them more difficult to use.

Election officials “are the people who protect our freedom to vote all the way through the process,” said Joanna Lydgate, the CEO of States republican elephant logoUnited Action, a bipartisan group that has opposed these candidates. “But all the way through, there are opportunities for mischief, opportunities for election deniers to add barriers to the ballot box, to curtail the freedom to vote.”

Four Republicans on the ballot in major battlegrounds this fall have banded together in what they call the America First Secretary of State Coalition: secretary of state nominees Kristina Karamo in Michigan, Mark Finchem in Arizona and Jim Marchant in Nevada, along with Pennsylvania gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano, who would appoint the state’s chief election official if he wins.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Lindsey Graham’s vile ‘riots’ threat gives away Trump’s game, Greg Sargent, right, Aug. 29, 2022. “If there’s a prosecution greg sargentof Donald Trump for mishandling classified information,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham on Fox News, there will be “riots in the streets.”

The South Carolina Republican’s quote has been relentlessly skewered as a blatant threat of retaliatory political violence ever since he offered it Sunday night. And it is that: Everyone knows the old mob-speak trick of cloaking threats in the guise of faux-innocent “predictions.”

But there’s a more pernicious danger here that shouldn’t escape notice. Underlying Graham’s threat is another attack on the rule of law, one that more Trump propagandists will resort to when their man’s legal perils deepen. It’s an effort to discredit the idea that the law can be applied to the former president at all.

Trump endorsed Graham’s threat by posting video of it on Truth Social. And Trump himself had already unleashed a volley of deranged hints that the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago compound is the stuff of banana republics and FBI leadership is riddled with corruption.

All this comes after release of the redacted affidavit for the Mar-a-Lago search warrant has deepened our understanding of Trump’s potential crimes and strengthened the case that the search was premised on reasonable law enforcement grounds.

Some Republicans have quietly shifted from objecting to the search to questioning the search’s timing. That’s silly: The timing reflects evidence amassed by federal agents that Trump still had highly sensitive documents as late as June. But this shows how hard defending Trump has become.

Not for Graham, apparently.

“Most Republicans, including me, believe that when it comes to Trump, there is no law,” Graham seethed in that Fox appearance. “It’s all about getting him.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Finally, a Sunday anchor puts his foot down on Espionagegate, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 29, 2022. Finally, a Sunday anchor jennifer rubin new headshotputs his foot down on Espionagegate.

Given my fervent criticism of mainstream media interviewers for going soft on Republicans carrying water for defeated former president Donald Trump, who is under investigation for possible violation of the Espionage Act, it’s only fair to point out appropriately tough, take-no-prisoners performances.

On Sunday, that came from George Stephanopoulos on ABC News’s “This Week” in an interview with retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). His upcoming retirement is noteworthy since he should have zero reason to fear Trump’s wrath or prostrate himself in front of the MAGA crowd. And yet he did.

Here’s the exchange:

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump Document Inquiry Poses Unparalleled Test for Justice Dept., Katie Benner, Aug. 29, 2022. What had started as an effort to retrieve national security documents has now been transformed into one of the most challenging and complicated criminal investigations in recent memory.

As Justice Department officials haggled for months this year with former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers and aides over the return of government documents at his Florida home, federal prosecutors became convinced that they were not being told the whole truth.

That conclusion helped set in motion a decision that would amount to an unparalleled test of the Justice Department’s credibility in a deeply polarized political environment: to seek a search warrant to enter Mar-a-Lago and retrieve what prosecutors suspected would be highly classified materials, beyond the hundreds of pages that Mr. Trump had already returned.

By the government’s account, that gamble paid off, with F.B.I. agents carting off boxloads of sensitive material during the search three weeks ago, including some documents with top secret markings.

merrick garlandBut the matter hardly ended there: What had started as an effort to retrieve national security documents has now been transformed into one of the most challenging, complicated and potentially explosive criminal investigations in recent memory, with tremendous implications for the Justice Department, Mr. Trump and public faith in government.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, right, now faces the prospect of having to decide whether to file criminal charges against a former president and likely 2024 Republican candidate, a step without any historical parallel.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: DeSantis's "Mongoose Gang" of intimidators and cronies, Wayne Madsen, left, Aug. 29, 2022. wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallFlorida is currently the closest thing to a fascist police state within the borders of the United States.

wayne madesen report logoThat is primarily due to its Republican authoritarian governor, military "stolen valor" practitioner Ron DeSantis, below left, acting like a tinpot caudillo or dictator, the type that frequently plagued the Caribbean and Latin America over the decades. DeSantis has continually abused his authority as governor. This includes his throwing elected Democrats out of office, in one case at gunpoint, and replacing them with far-right Republican cronies.

ron desantis oOne of DeSantis's victims was the successful elected Democratic State's Attorney for Hillsborough County, Andrew Warren. In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Warren described his ordeal in DeSantis's banana republic of Florida: "An armed sheriff’s deputy and a governor’s aide showed up on Thursday morning at the State Attorney’s Office in Tampa, where I was serving as the elected prosecutor for Hillsborough County. They handed me an executive order signed by DeSantis that immediately suspended me from office. Before I could read it, they escorted me out."

Warren, who is suing DeSantis in federal court for his actions, continued in his op-ed: "This is a blatant abuse of power. I don’t work for DeSantis. I was elected by voters — twice — and I have spent my entire career locking up violent criminals and fraudsters. Without any misdoing on my part or any advance notice, I was forced out of my office, removed from my elected position, and replaced with a DeSantis ally. If this can happen to me, what can DeSantis do to other Floridians?"

Warren's question would soon be answered. DeSantis did not hesitate to fire other Democratic officials in the state. A few weeks after DeSantis suspended Warren, he struck again by suspending four elected members of the Broward County school board -- all registered Democrats -- from their non-partisan seats.

 

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ny times logoNew York Times, QAnon accounts have found a home, and Donald Trump’s support, on Truth Social, Tiffany Hsu, Aug. 29, 2022. Researchers identified 88 users promoting the conspiracy theory on Donald Trump’s platform, and said he had reposted messages 65 times.

Dozens of QAnon-boosting accounts decamped to Truth Social this year after they were banned by other social networks and have found support from the platform’s creator, former President Donald J. Trump, according to a report released on Monday.

FBI logoNewsGuard, a media watchdog that analyzes the credibility of news outlets, found 88 users promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory on Truth Social, each to more than 10,000 followers. Of those accounts, 32 were previously banned by Twitter.

Twitter barred Mr. Trump over fears that he might incite violence after the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He started Truth Social as an alternative in February 2022. He has amplified content from 30 of the QAnon accounts to his more than 3.9 million Truth Social followers, reposting their messages 65 times since he became active on the platform in April, according to the report.

djt golf shirt bloated“He’s not simply President Trump the political leader here — he’s the proprietor of a platform,” said Steven Brill, co-chief executive of NewsGuard and the founder of the magazine The American Lawyer. “That would be the equivalent of Mark Zuckerberg reposting content from supporters of QAnon.”

Millions of QAnon followers believe that an imaginary cabal of sex-trafficking, Satan-worshiping liberals is controlling the government and that Mr. Trump is leading the fight against it. Fantastical QAnon ideas have taken root in mainstream Republican politics, although some supporters have struggled at the polls.

The movement has been viewed by law enforcement as a potential domestic terror threat and was linked to the Capitol riot. Tech companies such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Twitch have cracked down on QAnon content.

“The other platforms have taken some steps to deal with QAnon and other similar types of misinformation, but here, it’s pretty clear that they’re not,” Mr. Brill said of Truth Social.

Truth Social did not respond to questions about NewsGuard’s findings. Instead, in a statement sent through a representative, the social media platform said that it had “reopened the internet and given the American people their voice back.”

Politico, Same-sex marriage puts Ron Johnson in a bind, Marianne LeVine and Holly Otterbein, Aug. 29, 2022. The conservative Wisconsin senator — the chamber's most vulnerable incumbent this fall — could soon face a very tough vote.

politico CustomThe most endangered Senate Republican incumbent — who’s trailing his reelection foe in one of the most closely divided states in the country — could face a tough vote just weeks out from Election Day on whether to enshrine same-sex marriage into law.

As Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer moves closer to a vote that would put Sen. Ron Johnson on defense in the home stretch of the midterms, the Wisconsin conservative is suddenly under the microscope on a social issue that he’s rarely focused on during his decade-plus in office. But it’s far from clear whether he’ll take that baby step to the center ahead of a November contest against Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who’s opened a slight lead in public polls.

Johnson surprised many fellow senators last month when he said he saw “no reason” to oppose what he described as unnecessary House-passed legislation designed to protect same-sex marriage, which could come to the floor as soon as next month. Then, when pressed later, he hedged on whether he’d vote yes or merely present. And he’s now pushing, alongside other Senate Republicans, for the bill to be amended before declaring his support.

washington post logoWashington Post, Naming of special master could complicate Mar-a-Lago documents case, David Nakamura and Amy B Wang, Aug. 29, 2022. If a federal judge appoints a special master to review materials taken by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago, it could complicate matters in the federal government case.

A federal judge’s indication that she is prepared to appoint a special master to review materials seized from Mar-a-Lago by federal agents could present new complications and unresolved legal questions in the federal government’s high-stakes quest to wrest control of the documents from former president Donald Trump.

aileen cannonU.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon’s two-page order issued on Saturday appeared unusual in that the judge has not yet heard arguments from the Justice Department, said former federal prosecutors and legal analysts on Sunday.

Cannon, right, 41, whom Trump appointed to the bench in the Southern District of Florida in 2020, has also given federal officials until Tuesday to provide the court with a more detailed list of items the FBI had removed from Trump’s Florida estate on Aug. 8.

She asked the government to give a status report of its own review of the materials and set a Thursday court hearing in West Palm Beach, Fla. That location is about an hour away from the federal courthouse in Fort Pierce, Fla., where she typically hears cases.

Aug. 28 

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Proof, Investigative Commentary: The Real Scandal in Donald Trump’s Historic Theft of Classified Records Is Not What You Think, Seth Abramson, left, seth abramson graphicAug. 26-28, 2022. As a Trump biographer who’s written more best-sellers on Trump’s presidency than any other author, I’ve a very different view of the current classified-records scandal involving Trump and Mar-a-Lago.

Introduction:seth abramson proof logo Donald Trump orchestrating a premeditated heist of well over 1,000 pages of highly classified taxpayer-owned government records—along with thousands of additional pages of documents that, while not classified, were both sensitive and not his to take—may be the least surprising thing Trump has ever done in his brief political career.

It’s important for Americans to understand not just that what Trump did is actually—for him—unsurprising, but also why it’s unsurprising.

The real story is a historic heist of classified national security-related information that was premeditated, conducted over the course of two years, and constitutes one of the gravest national security breaches in American history. The real story is that we don’t yet know the motive behind the crime. The real story is a historic heist of this sort of course would not have been undertaken for no reason—but had to have had behind it some sort of personal benefit that neither major media nor federal investigators have yet discovered, and which—candidly—there is no evidence as yet either major media or federal investigators are trying to find out.

Because Trump never told anyone about the declassifications—again, humoring for a moment the idea that any such declassifications ever occurred, even in Trump’s head—he was in fact only accomplishing a single goal in executing such a extraordinarily clandestine executive action. To wit, he was empowering himself to secretly show the documents that he had stolen to persons not otherwise entitled to see them, under circumstances in which he had a legal excuse for doing so if he got caught doing so.

There is, to be clear, no other purpose for a declassification that is known only to the President of the United States and not even a single other attorney, adviser, associate, aide, agent, acolyte, or assistant.

But there’s much more to say here, as in fact the act of fully declassifying a document to publicly viewable status—the sort of declassification Trump avoided here—has one other major result: the destruction of the pecuniary value of the data so declassified.

That is, if you take a classified document and make it public, it no longer can be sold for a profit, as everyone everywhere can access it if they have the time and inclination to track it down and view it.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

Justice Matters Podcast, Commentary: Trump-appointed-judge Aileen Cannon grants Trump's demand for special master BEFORE DOJ weighs in, Glenn Kirschner, Aug. 28, 2022. There are some fundamental principles and universal rules by which America courts operate. One of those fundamental principles is that a judge does not rule on an issue until hearing from both parties involved in the litigation.

 ny times logoNew York Times, Former President Trump’s legal team is scrambling to find a defense to hold off the Justice Department, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, Aug. 28, 2022. The lawyers representing the former president in the investigation into his handling of classified documents have tried out an array of defenses as they seek to hold off the Justice Department.

On May 25, one of former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers sent a letter to a top Justice Department official, laying out the argument that his client had done nothing illegal by holding onto a trove of government materials when he left the White House.

The letter, from M. Evan Corcoran, a former federal prosecutor, represented Mr. Trump’s initial defense against the investigation into the presence of highly classified documents in unsecured locations at his members-only club and residence, Mar-a-Lago. It amounted to a three-page hodgepodge of contested legal theories, including Mr. Corcoran’s assertion that Mr. Trump possessed a nearly boundless right as president to declassify materials and an argument that one law governing the handling of classified documents does not apply to a president.

Mr. Corcoran asked the Justice Department to present the letter as “exculpatory” information to the grand jury investigating the case.

Government lawyers found it deeply puzzling. They included it in the affidavit submitted to a federal magistrate in Florida in their request for the search warrant they later used to recover even more classified materials at Mar-a-Lago — to demonstrate their willingness to acknowledge Mr. Corcoran’s arguments, a person with knowledge of the decision said.

As the partial release of the search warrant affidavit on Friday, including the May 25 letter, illustrated, Mr. Trump is going into the battle over the documents with a hastily assembled team. The lawyers have offered up a variety of arguments on his behalf that have yet to do much to fend off a Justice Department that has adopted a determined, focused and so far largely successful legal approach.

“He needs a quarterback who’s a real lawyer,” said David I. Schoen, a lawyer who defended Mr. Trump in his second Senate impeachment trial. Mr. Schoen called it “an honor” to represent Mr. Trump, but said it was problematic to keep lawyers “rotating in and out.”

Often tinged with Mr. Trump’s own bombast and sometimes conflating his powers as president with his role as a private citizen, the legal arguments put forth by his team sometimes strike lawyers not involved in the case as more about setting a political narrative than about dealing with the possibility of a federal prosecution.

“There seems to be a huge disconnect between what’s actually happening — a real live court case surrounding a real live investigation — and what they’re actually doing, which is treating it like they’ve treated everything else, recklessly and thoughtlessly,” Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. attorney and F.B.I. official, said of Mr. Trump’s approach. “And for an average defendant on an average case, that would be a disaster.”

Politico, Judge rejects bid by Gov. Kemp and Trump attorney Chesebro to quash subpoenas, Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu, Aug. 28, 2022.  However, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney also gave Kemp an election-year reprieve.

The judge overseeing the Atlanta-area grand jury investigation into Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election has rejected an effort by Gov. Brian Kemp to block a subpoena for his testimony.

However, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney also gave Kemp an election-year reprieve, agreeing to delay his testimony until after the Nov. 8 vote, when Kemp is up for reelection and facing a challenge from Stacey Abrams.

“The Governor is in the midst of a re-election campaign and this criminal grand jury investigation should not be used by the District Attorney, the Governor’s opponent, or the Governor himself to influence the outcome of that election,” McBurney wrote in his six-page order.

In a separate opinion, McBurney also rejected an effort by a Trump-allied attorney, Kenneth Chesebro, to similarly block a subpoena for his testimony. Chesebro had claimed that his potential testimony would be entirely barred by attorney-client privilege, as well as New York state’s rules around attorney confidentiality. However, McBurney noted that, as with many other witnesses, there are plenty of topics that would not be subject to privilege claims.

Among them: “Mr. Chesebro’s background and experience, his knowledge of both Georgia and federal election law, his communications with Republican Party officials in Georgia following the 2020 general election, his interactions with the individuals in Georgia seeking to prepare slate of ‘alternate’ electors weeks after the final vote count showed former President Trump losing by over 10,000 votes in Georgia, etc.”

“Because these are legitimate, relevant, non-protected areas of investigation for the special purpose grand jury, quashal is improper,” McBurney wrote in a three-page order.

The rulings are victories for District Attorney Fani Willis, though the delayed testimony for Kemp is a setback for her investigation’s overall timetable. The DA has argued for the urgency of Kemp’s testimony sooner than November.

Kemp’s office and an attorney for Chesebro did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kemp was a target of Trump’s fury during the closing weeks of his presidency, as Trump railed against his decision, along with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to certify Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia. Both beat back challenges from Trump-backed candidates in the state’s May Republican primary elections.

washington post logoWashington Post, Inside Trump’s war on the National Archives, Jacqueline Alemany, Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The agency has been hit with a wave of threats and vitriol since the FBI retrieved scores of classified records from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club.

In the nearly three weeks since the FBI searched former president Donald Trump’s Florida home to recover classified documents, the National Archives and Records Administration has become the target of a rash of threats and vitriol, according to people familiar with the situation. Civil servants tasked by law with preserving and securing the U.S. government’s records were rattled.

nara logoOn Wednesday, the agency’s head sent an email to the staff. Though academic and suffuse with legal references, the message from acting archivist Debra Steidel Wall was simple: Stay above the fray and stick to the mission.

“NARA has received messages from the public accusing us of corruption and conspiring against the former President, or congratulating NARA for ‘bringing him down,’ ” Steidel Wall wrote in the agencywide message, which was obtained by The Washington Post. “Neither is accurate or welcome.”

The email capped a year-long saga that has embroiled the Archives — widely known for being featured in the 2004 Nicolas Cage movie, “National Treasure” — in a protracted fight with Trump over classified documents and other records that were taken when he left office.

Archives officials have emailed, called and cajoled the former president and his representatives to follow the law and return the documents. When the Archives recovered 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago in January, agency officials found a mess of disorganized papers lacking any inventory. Highly classified material was mixed in with newspaper clippings and dinner menus. And Archives officials believed more items were still missing.

What happened next was an extraordinary step for America’s record keepers: they referred the matter to the Justice Department, opening a dramatic new chapter in what had been a quietly simmering dispute.

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Affidavit to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate says 184 classified files found in January, Devlin Barrett and Perry Stein, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). The newly public affidavit will help explain why FBI agents wanted to search Mar-a-Lago for classified documents, with sensitive information blocked out.

The FBI searched former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home this month after reviewing 184 classified documents that were kept there since he left the White House, including several with Trump’s apparent handwriting on them, and interviewing a “significant number” of witnesses, court filings unsealed Friday say.

FBI logoThe details contained in a search-warrant affidavit and related memo crystallize much of what was already known about the criminal probe into whether Trump and his aides took secret government papers and did not return all of the material — despite repeated demands from senior officials. The documents, though heavily redacted, offer the clearest description to date of the rationale for the unprecedented Aug. 8 search and the high-stakes investigation by the Justice Department into a former president who may run again for the White House.

The affidavit suggests that if some of the classified documents voluntarily returned from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives and Records Administration in January had fallen into the wrong hands, they could have revealed sensitive details about human intelligence sources or how spy agencies intercept the electronic communications of foreign targets. Over the spring and summer, the affidavit states, the FBI came to suspect that Trump and his team were hiding the fact that he still had more classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, leading agents to want to conduct a search of the property.

 ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Intelligence Will Assess Security Risks From Mar-a-Lago Documents, Luke Broadwater, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The director of national intelligence said her office would lead a review of the sensitive material retrieved from former President Trump’s Florida home.

U.S. intelligence officials will conduct a review to assess the possible risks to national security from former President Donald J. Trump’s handling of classified documents after the F.B.I. retrieved boxes containing sensitive material from Mar-a-Lago, according to a letter to lawmakers.

In the letter, Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, informed the top lawmakers on the House Intelligence and Oversight Committees that her office would lead an intelligence community assessment of the “potential risk to national security that would result from the disclosure” of documents Mr. Trump took with him to his private club and residence in Palm Beach, Fla.

In the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times, Ms. Haines said her office would work with the Justice Department to ensure that the assessment did not interfere with the department’s criminal investigation concerning the documents. The review will determine what intelligence sources or systems could be identified from the documents and be compromised if they fell into the wrong hands.

 

djt handwave file

 ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Donald Trump Is Not Above the Law, Editorial Board, Aug. 27, 2022 (print ed.). Over the course of this summer, the nation has been transfixed by the House select committee’s hearings on the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and how or whether Donald Trump might face accountability for what happened that day. The Justice Department remained largely silent about its investigations of the former president until this djt nyt aug 27 2022month, when the F.B.I. searched his home in Palm Beach, Fla., in a case related to his handling of classified documents. The spectacle of a former president facing criminal investigation raises profound questions about American democracy, and these questions demand answers.

Mr. Trump’s unprecedented assault on the integrity of American democracy requires a criminal investigation. The disturbing details of his postelection misfeasance, meticulously assembled by the Jan. 6 committee, leaves little doubt that Mr. Trump sought to subvert the Constitution and overturn the will of the American people. The president, defeated at the polls in 2020, tried to enlist federal law enforcement authorities, state officials and administrators of the nation’s electoral system in a furious effort to remain in power. When all else failed, he roused an armed mob that stormed the Capitol and threatened lawmakers.

This board is aware that in deciding how Mr. Trump should be held accountable under the law it is necessary to consider not just whether criminal prosecution would be warranted but whether it would be wise. No American president has ever been criminally prosecuted after leaving office.

The risks of political escalation are obvious. The Democratic and Republican parties are already in the thick of a cycle of retribution that could last generations.

Mr. Garland has been deliberate, methodical and scrupulous in his leadership of the Justice Department’s investigations of the Jan. 6 attack and the transfer of documents to Mr. Trump’s home. But no matter how careful he is or how measured the prosecution might be, there is a real and significant risk from those who believe that any criticism of Mr. Trump justifies an extreme response.

Yet it is a far greater risk to do nothing when action is called for. Aside from letting Mr. Trump escape punishment, doing nothing to hold him accountable for his actions in the months leading up to Jan. 6 could set an irresistible precedent for future presidents. Why not attempt to stay in power by any means necessary or use the power of the office to enrich oneself or punish one’s enemies, knowing that the law does not apply to presidents in or out of office?

More important, democratic government is an ideal that must constantly be made real. America is not sustained by a set of principles; it is sustained by resolute action to defend those principles.

Immediately after the Jan. 6 insurrection, cabinet members reportedly debated privately whether to remove Mr. Trump from power under the authority of the 25th Amendment. A week after the attack, the House impeached Mr. Trump for the second time. This editorial board supported his impeachment and removal from office; we also suggested that the former president and lawmakers who participated in the Jan. 6 plot could be permanently barred from holding office under a provision of the 14th Amendment that applies to any official who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or given “aid or comfort” to those who have done so. But most Republicans in the Senate refused to convict Mr. Trump, and Congress has yet to invoke that section of the 14th Amendment against him. As a result, the threat that Mr. Trump and his most ardent supporters pose to American democracy has metastasized.

Even now, the former president continues to spread lies about the 2020 election and denounce his vice president, Mike Pence, for not breaking the law on his behalf. Meanwhile, dozens of people who believe Mr. Trump’s lies are running for state and national elected office. Many have already won, some of them elevated to positions that give them control over how elections are conducted. In June the Republican Party in Texas approved measures in its platform declaring that Mr. Biden’s election was illegitimate. And Mr. Trump appears prepared to start a bid for a second term as president.

Mr. Trump’s actions as a public official, like no others since the Civil War, attacked the heart of our system of government. He used the power of his office to subvert the rule of law. If we hesitate to call those actions and their perpetrator criminal, then we are saying he is above the law and giving license to future presidents to do whatever they want.

ny times logoNew York Times, A judge signaled her intent to grant Donald Trump’s request for a special master to review the seized documents, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 28, 2022 (print ed.). The judge, an appointee of President Donald J. Trump, indicated she was prepared to grant Mr. Trump’s request for an arbiter, or special master, to review the documents seized by the F.B.I.

A federal judge in Florida gave notice on Saturday of her “preliminary intent” to appoint an independent arbiter, known as a special master, to conduct a review of the highly sensitive documents that were seized by the F.B.I. this month during a search of Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald J. Trump’s club and residence in Palm Beach.

In an unusual action that fell short of a formal order, the judge, Aileen M. Cannon of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida, signaled that she was inclined to agree with the former president and his lawyers that a special master should be appointed to review the seized documents.

But Judge Cannon, who was appointed by Mr. Trump in 2020, set a hearing for arguments in the matter for Thursday in the federal courthouse in West Palm Beach — not the one in Fort Pierce, Fla., where she typically works.

On Friday night, only hours after a redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain the warrant for the search of Mar-a-Lago was released, Mr. Trump’s lawyers filed court papers to Judge Cannon reiterating their request for a special master to weed out documents taken in the search that could be protected by executive privilege.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers had initially asked Judge Cannon on Monday to appoint a special master, but their filing was so confusing and full of bluster that the judge requested clarifications on several basic legal questions. The notice by Judge Cannon on Saturday was seen as something of a victory in Mr. Trump’s circle.

A different federal judge, Bruce E. Reinhart, a magistrate judge in West Palm Beach, ordered the unsealing of the warrant affidavit. The document said, among other things, that the Justice Department wanted to search Mar-a-Lago to ensure the return of highly classified documents that Mr. Trump had removed from the White House, including some that department officials believed could jeopardize “clandestine human sources” who worked undercover gathering intelligence.

Special masters are not uncommon in criminal investigations that include the seizure by the government of disputed materials that could be protected by attorney-client privilege. A special master was appointed, for example, after the F.B.I. raided the office of Mr. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer Michael D. Cohen in 2018 and took away evidence that Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump claimed should have been kept from investigators because of the nature of their professional relationship.

In the case of the search of Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s lawyers have argued that some of the documents taken by the F.B.I. could be shielded not by attorney-client privilege, but rather by executive privilege, a vestige of Mr. Trump’s service as president. But legal scholars — and some judges — have expressed skepticism that former presidents can unilaterally assert executive privilege over materials related to their time in office once they leave the White House.

In December, for example, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled that, despite his attempts to invoke executive privilege, Mr. Trump had to turn over White House records related to the attack on the Capitol to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot.

In her notice on Saturday, Judge Cannon gave the Justice Department until Tuesday to file a response to Mr. Trump’s request. The judge also instructed prosecutors to send her under seal “a more detailed receipt” specifying the items that were seized by federal agents during the search of Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8. As part of their initial request, Mr. Trump’s lawyers had asked for a complete inventory of what was taken, arguing that the receipt the F.B.I. had given them was insufficient.

 

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left) and former President Donald Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project said

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left) and former President Donald Trump (center), Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina (right), and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a Republican activist and romantic partner of Don Trump Jr., according to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

Daily Mail, Investigation: Trump and the NEW Inventing Anna: FBI investigating Ukrainian immigrant who posed as an heiress of the Rothschild banking dynasty, faked massive wealth and infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and the Donald's inner circle, Nikki Schwab, Aug. 26, 2022 (Continued from above). A Ukrainian woman posing as a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty successfully infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and ex-President Donald Trump's inner circle.

  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project were out with a report Friday on 33-year-old Inna Yashchyshyn
  • They report that she told Florida socialites she was heiress Anna de Rothschild, and was 'fawned all over' by guests at Trump's private club
  • The story comes out as intrigue continues to swirl around the raid of Mar-a-Lago over the presence of classified documents at the ex-president's home
    It highlights whether those materials were secure if a fraudster was able to infiltrate Trump's social circle

A Ukrainian woman posing as a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty successfully infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and former President Donald Trump's inner circle - and is now being investigated by the FBI and Canadian authorities.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project revealed the alleged antics of the faker -- whose real name is Inna Yashchyshyn -- on Friday.

Yaschyshyn, 33, told Florida socialites she was heiress Anna de Rothschild, and was 'fawned all over' by guests at Trump's private club after bragging of her Monaco property portfolio and family vineyards, it's claimed.

But the alleged scammer is actually the Ukrainian-born daughter of a truck driver called Oleksandr Yaschysyn, who lives in a neat-but-modest home in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.

Yaschyshyn is believed to have been taken to the club for the first time by a Trump donor called Elchanan Adamker in 2021 -- and posed for a photo with the former president the very next day.

She is accused of obtaining fake IDs -- including a US passport and multiple drivers' licenses - using her fake Rothschild alter ego.

Yaschushyn faces an FBI probe over a charity she was president of called the United Hearts of Mercy. It was founded by a Florida-based Russian businessman called Valery Tarasenko in Canada in 2015, but is alleged to have been used as a front to fundraise for Russian organized crime gangs.

The FBI has photographs of Inna Yashchyshyn (left) and former President Donald Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Kimberly Guilfoyle, a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project said

Yaschushyn is currently embroiled in a separate lawsuit with Tarasenko, whose daughter she used to babysit, and claims she has been framed by him. She has also been tied to a condo development in Canada, although further details of what cops in Quebec are investigating her for have yet to emerge.

Tarasenko says Yaschushyn cared for his children while he traveled on business, and claims she was keen to make in-roads at Mar-a-Lago to find rich benefactors. It is unclear if Tarasenko himself faces a probe.

Yaschushyn in turn claims she is the victim, and that Tarasenko set her up by producing multiple fake IDs without her knowledge.

The United Hearts of Mercy positioned itself as a nonprofit which helped impoverished children, but the FBI believes it was actually a front to funnel cash to organized crime gangs.

Payment processing firm Stripe suspended donations to the United Hearts of Mercy's purported COVID appeal.

Emails sent by the Post-Gazette to supposed donors in Hong Kong all bounced back, suggesting those donors may never have existed.

The story comes out as intrigue continues to swirl around the August 8 raid of Mar-a-Lago over the presence of classified documents at the ex-president's home and private club - and highlights whether those materials were secure if a fraudster was able to infiltrate Trump's social circle.
Yashchyshyn and her infiltration into the inner circle was laid out in a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. It also included photos and videos of her playing at Trump's Palm Beach golf club

Yashchyshyn and her infiltration into the inner circle was laid out in a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. It also included photos and videos of her playing at Trump's Palm Beach golf club

The Secret Service wouldn't comment on whether they were investigating Yashchyshyn, nor would the FBI - but several sources said they had been questioned by FBI officials about Yashchyshyn's behavior.

Canadian law enforcement confirmed Yashchyshyn has been the subject of a major crimes unit investigation in Quebec since February, the Post-Gazette reported.

The United Hearts of Mercy was founded in Canada by Tarasenko, although it's still unclear whether Yaschyshyn is being probed there over that nonprofit. She was also linked to a condo development in the country.

Yashchyshyn started showing up at Mar-a-Lago last spring. The Post-Gazette reported she was first invited by Trump supporter Elchanan Adamker, who runs a financial services firm, to Mar-a-Lago for the first time in May 2021.

She also managed to take footage of Trump's speeches inside the club

'It wasn't just dropping the family name. She talked about vineyards and family estates and growing up in Monaco,' recalled LeFevre. 'It was a near-perfect ruse and she played the part.'

He added that 'everyone was eating it up' and Mar-a-Lago members 'fawned all over her and because of the Rothschild mystique, they never probed and instead tiptoed around her with kid gloves .'

By the next day, Yashchyshyn was rubbing shoulders with Trump and Sen. Lindsey Graham at the president's nearby West Palm Beach golf club.

The report included photographs of Yashchyshyn, Trump and Graham, as well as her in a group shot with Donald Trump Jr.'s fiancee Kimberly Guilfoyle.

The Post-Gazette also shared images of Yashchyshyn's various IDS -- passports from the U.S. and Canada, along with a Florida driver's license, in which she uses the Rothschild name -- as well as Ukrainian and Russian passports where she goes by Inna Yashchyshyn and Anna Anisimova, respectively.

When speaking to the Post-Gazette, however, she said, 'I think there is some misunderstanding.'

Yashchyshyn said any passports or driver's licenses using the Rothschild name had been fabricated by her former business partner, 44-year-old Valeriy Tarasenko. 'That's all fake, and nothing happened,' Yashchyshyn said.

The various IDs have been turned over to the FBI, the Post-Gazette said. Yashchyshyn also said she was speaking to the FBI on August 19.

Politico, Trump lawyers renew plea for outside supervision of Mar-a-Lago search trove

 

Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan for his scheduled testimony on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022 (Associate Press photo by Julia Nikhinson).

Aug. 27

 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

Proof, Investigative Commentary: The Real Scandal in Donald Trump’s Historic Theft of Classified Records Is Not What You Think, Seth Abramson, left, seth abramson graphicAug. 26-27, 2022. As a Trump biographer who’s written more best-sellers on Trump’s presidency than any other author, I’ve a very different view of the current classified-records scandal involving Trump and Mar-a-Lago.

Introduction:seth abramson proof logo Donald Trump orchestrating a premeditated heist of well over 1,000 pages of highly classified taxpayer-owned government records—along with thousands of additional pages of documents that, while not classified, were both sensitive and not his to take—may be the least surprising thing Trump has ever done in his brief political career.

It’s important for Americans to understand not just that what Trump did is actually—for him—unsurprising, but also why it’s unsurprising.

The real story is a historic heist of classified national security-related information that was premeditated, conducted over the course of two years, and constitutes one of the gravest national security breaches in American history. The real story is that we don’t yet know the motive behind the crime. The real story is a historic heist of this sort of course would not have been undertaken for no reason—but had to have had behind it some sort of personal benefit that neither major media nor federal investigators have yet discovered, and which—candidly—there is no evidence as yet either major media or federal investigators are trying to find out.

Because Trump never told anyone about the declassifications—again, humoring for a moment the idea that any such declassifications ever occurred, even in Trump’s head—he was in fact only accomplishing a single goal in executing such a extraordinarily clandestine executive action. To wit, he was empowering himself to secretly show the documents that he had stolen to persons not otherwise entitled to see them, under circumstances in which he had a legal excuse for doing so if he got caught doing so.

There is, to be clear, no other purpose for a declassification that is known only to the President of the United States and not even a single other attorney, adviser, associate, aide, agent, acolyte, or assistant.

But there’s much more to say here, as in fact the act of fully declassifying a document to publicly viewable status—the sort of declassification Trump avoided here—has one other major result: the destruction of the pecuniary value of the data so declassified.

That is, if you take a classified document and make it public, it no longer can be sold for a profit, as everyone everywhere can access it if they have the time and inclination to track it down and view it.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

Aug. 26

djt handwave file

 ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Donald Trump Is Not Above the Law, Editorial Board, Aug. 26, 2022. Over the course of this summer, the nation has been transfixed by the House select committee’s hearings on the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and how or whether Donald Trump might face accountability for what happened that day. The Justice Department remained largely silent about its investigations of the former president until this month, when the F.B.I. searched his home in Palm Beach, Fla., in a case related to his handling of classified documents. The spectacle of a former president facing criminal investigation raises profound questions about American democracy, and these questions demand answers.

Mr. Trump’s unprecedented assault on the integrity of American democracy requires a criminal investigation. The disturbing details of his postelection misfeasance, meticulously assembled by the Jan. 6 committee, leaves little doubt that Mr. Trump sought to subvert the Constitution and overturn the will of the American people. The president, defeated at the polls in 2020, tried to enlist federal law enforcement authorities, state officials and administrators of the nation’s electoral system in a furious effort to remain in power. When all else failed, he roused an armed mob that stormed the Capitol and threatened lawmakers.

This board is aware that in deciding how Mr. Trump should be held accountable under the law it is necessary to consider not just whether criminal prosecution would be warranted but whether it would be wise. No American president has ever been criminally prosecuted after leaving office.

The risks of political escalation are obvious. The Democratic and Republican parties are already in the thick of a cycle of retribution that could last generations.

Mr. Garland has been deliberate, methodical and scrupulous in his leadership of the Justice Department’s investigations of the Jan. 6 attack and the transfer of documents to Mr. Trump’s home. But no matter how careful he is or how measured the prosecution might be, there is a real and significant risk from those who believe that any criticism of Mr. Trump justifies an extreme response.

Yet it is a far greater risk to do nothing when action is called for. Aside from letting Mr. Trump escape punishment, doing nothing to hold him accountable for his actions in the months leading up to Jan. 6 could set an irresistible precedent for future presidents. Why not attempt to stay in power by any means necessary or use the power of the office to enrich oneself or punish one’s enemies, knowing that the law does not apply to presidents in or out of office?

More important, democratic government is an ideal that must constantly be made real. America is not sustained by a set of principles; it is sustained by resolute action to defend those principles.

Immediately after the Jan. 6 insurrection, cabinet members reportedly debated privately whether to remove Mr. Trump from power under the authority of the 25th Amendment. A week after the attack, the House impeached Mr. Trump for the second time. This editorial board supported his impeachment and removal from office; we also suggested that the former president and lawmakers who participated in the Jan. 6 plot could be permanently barred from holding office under a provision of the 14th Amendment that applies to any official who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” or given “aid or comfort” to those who have done so. But most Republicans in the Senate refused to convict Mr. Trump, and Congress has yet to invoke that section of the 14th Amendment against him. As a result, the threat that Mr. Trump and his most ardent supporters pose to American democracy has metastasized.

Even now, the former president continues to spread lies about the 2020 election and denounce his vice president, Mike Pence, for not breaking the law on his behalf. Meanwhile, dozens of people who believe Mr. Trump’s lies are running for state and national elected office. Many have already won, some of them elevated to positions that give them control over how elections are conducted. In June the Republican Party in Texas approved measures in its platform declaring that Mr. Biden’s election was illegitimate. And Mr. Trump appears prepared to start a bid for a second term as president.

Mr. Trump’s actions as a public official, like no others since the Civil War, attacked the heart of our system of government. He used the power of his office to subvert the rule of law. If we hesitate to call those actions and their perpetrator criminal, then we are saying he is above the law and giving license to future presidents to do whatever they want.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Georgia judge skeptical of claims of political bias in 2020 election probe, Matthew Brown, Tom Hamburger and Ann E. Marimow, Aug. 26, 2022 (print ed.). With the midterm elections approaching, a new wave of political and legal tensions erupted into public view.

The judge presiding over the grand jury investigation into possible election interference by Donald Trump and his allies expressed skepticism Thursday over arguments from Republicans that the prosecution, led by a Democratic district attorney, was politically motivated.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert C.I. McBurney did not immediately rule on a request from Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to toss a subpoena for his testimony from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D).

“It is not my space” to focus on politics, McBurney said as lawyers for Kemp argued that the subpoena had already become a political issue this election season. “I don’t think it is the right forum” to debate the political ramifications of the case, said the judge.

With the midterm elections approaching, the investigation has expanded dramatically, reaching Trump’s inner circle and edging closer to the former president himself. Hours after the hearing ended Thursday, newly filed records showed prosecutors are seeking testimony from Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, lawyer Sidney Powell and cybersecurity expert Phil Waldron.

In recent days, a new wave of political and legal tensions erupted into public view, with Kemp’s attorney and others accusing prosecutors of politicizing the sensitive case.

The Georgia criminal investigation into Trump and his allies, explained

Kemp, who resisted pressure from Trump to overturn Georgia’s election results, is considered a key witness. Prosecutors said in a filing this week they would like to ask the governor about calls he received from Trump and others pressing him to contest the state’s election results.

Kemp is running for reelection against Democrat Stacey Abrams, a former state lawmaker and voting rights advocate whom he narrowly beat in 2018. Last week, Abrams tweeted that the governor’s “refusal to testify shows that he will do anything to win an election. Kemp wants credit for ‘standing up’ to Trump but refuses to testify against the former president and said he would welcome his endorsement.”

In court on Thursday, lawyers for the governor cited Abrams’ comments as an example of the politicization of the ongoing inquiry.

Aug. 25

ny times logoNew York Times, Redacted Affidavit Used in Trump Search to Be Unsealed, Glenn Thrush and Alan Feuer, Aug. 25, 2022. Judge Orders Justice Dept. to Release Document by Friday.

A federal judge in Florida on Thursday ordered that a redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain a warrant for former President Donald J. Trump’s Florida residence be unsealed by noon on Friday — paving the way for the disclosure of potentially revelatory details about a search with enormous legal and political implications.

The decision by Judge Bruce E. Reinhart came just hours after the Justice Department submitted its proposal for extensive redactions to the document, in an effort to shield witnesses from intimidation or retribution if it is made public, officials said.

Judge Reinhart appeared to accept the requested cuts and, moving more quickly than government lawyers had expected, directed the department to release the redacted affidavit in a brief two-page order issued from Federal District Court in Southern Florida. The order said that he had found the Justice Department’s proposed redactions to be “narrowly tailored to serve the government’s legitimate interest in the integrity of the ongoing investigation.”

The redactions, he added, were also “the least onerous alternative to sealing the entire affidavit.”

In its most complete form, the document would reveal important details about the government’s justification for taking the extraordinary step of searching Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8.

The ruling is a significant legal milepost in an investigation that has swiftly emerged as a major threat to Mr. Trump, whose lawyers have offered a confused and at times stumbling response. But it is also an inflection point for Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, who is trying to balance protecting the prosecutorial process by keeping secret details of the investigation, and providing enough information to defend his decision to request a search.

 

Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan for his scheduled testimony on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022 (Associate Press photo by Julia Nikhinson).

Former U.S. President Trump leaves Trump Tower in Manhattan for his scheduled testimony on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022 (Associate Press photo by Julia Nikhinson). He answered only one question during four hours of them in an interview with the New York State attorney general, his lawyer said.

Politico, How Trump has spent his days since the feds searched his home, Meridith McGraw and Daniel Lippman, Aug. 25, 2022. The stakes may be high but the summer schedule goes on.

politico CustomAs he finds himself, once more, in legal jeopardy—standing at the epicenter of a media storm of his own making, his political future changing course in real time—Donald Trump has done what Donald Trump likes to do.

He’s played golf, engaged in a bit of politicking, and mingled with friends and guests at his Bedminster golf club.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: The point of no return with fascism in America, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 25, 2022. The United States wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallsits precariously on the same precipice the Weimar Republic of Germany found itself in 1932.

The parties that generally favored German democracy – the Social Democrats, German People’s Party (DVP), and the Center Party all backed the aging president of the republic, Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, in the 1932 presidential election. His opponent that year was Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. The Nazis made a mockery of anyone who was opposed to Hitler and that included the much-respected Hindenburg.

wayne madesen report logoToday, the United States has politically separated into two camps – one that favors democracy and includes Democrats, the few bona fide independents who hold significant political offices, and a group of Republicans who have been ostracized from their party by those favoring the anti-democratic and fascist policies of Donald Trump’s transformed Republican Party.

Aug. 24

washington post logoWashington Post, Archives asked for records in 2021 after Trump lawyer agreed they should be returned, email says, Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany, Aug. 24, 2022. About two dozen boxes of presidential records stored in then-President Donald Trump’s White House residence were not returned to the National Archives and Records Administration in the final days of his term even after Archives officials were told by a Trump lawyer that the documents should be given back, according to an email from the top lawyer at the record-keeping agency.

“It is also our understanding that roughly two dozen boxes of original presidential records were kept in the Residence of the White House over the course of President Trump’s last year in office and have not been transferred to NARA, despite a determination by Pat Cipollone in the final days of the administration that they need to be,” wrote Gary Stern, the agency’s chief counsel, in an email to Trump lawyers in May 2021, according to a copy reviewed by The Washington Post.

The email shows NARA officials were concerned about Trump keeping dozens of boxes of official records even before he left the White House — concerns that only grew in the coming months as Trump repeatedly declined to return the records. It also showed that Trump’s lawyers had concerns about Trump taking the documents and agreed that the boxes should be returned — at least according to the top Archives officials — while Trump kept the documents.

Aug. 23

Rolling Stone, Trump Tells His Lawyers: Get ‘My’ Top Secret Documents Back, Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley, Aug. 23, 2022. The ex-president is desperate to recover the classified trove taken from Mar-a-Lago — and is pushing his legal team on a long-shot maneuver to return them.

rolling stone logoIn the weeks after the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid, former President Donald Trump repeatedly made a simple-sounding but extraordinary ask: he wanted his lawyers to get “my documents” back from federal law enforcement.

Trump wasn’t merely referring to the alleged trove of attorney-client material that he insists was scooped up by the feds during the raid, two people familiar with the matter tell Rolling Stone. The ex-president has been demanding that his team find a way to recover “all” of the official documents that Trump has long referred to as “mine” — including the highly sensitive and top secret ones.

Sources close to Trump agree with outside legal experts that such a sweeping legal maneuver would be a long-shot, at best. “I hate to break it to the [former] president, but I do not think he is going to get all [the] top-secret documents back,” says one Trump adviser. “That ship has probably sailed.”

Further, several longtime Trump advisers say they want absolutely nothing to do with the now-infamous boxes of documents, fearing that any knowledge of them could invite an unwanted knock on the door from the feds. “Who would want any of that back? … If it is what they say it is, keep them the hell away,” a second adviser says.

Still, the former president’s legal team appears to be working to retrieve at least some of the papers seized during the Aug. 8 federal search. In recent days, the Trump team — led by former federal prosecutor Evan Corcoran — has been quietly prepping additional legal arguments and strategies to try to pry back material that the feds removed from the ex-president’s Florida abode and club, the sources say. Those measures include drafting a so-called “Rule 41(g) motion,” which allows “a person aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure of property” to “move for the property’s return,” according to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

This would be a follow-up measure to the lawsuit, filed Monday by Trump and his attorneys, calling for the appointment of a special master to review the Mar-a-Lago materials for potentially privileged materials. It is unclear when the ex-president’s lawyers plan to file a subsequent motion, which people close to Trump expect to be more narrowly tailored than what the former president apparently wants.

“The motion he already filed is so absolutely terrible, that it’s hard to contemplate him filing something even more aggressive and even more unlikely to succeed,” says Ken White, a criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor.

“However,” White added, Trump is “basically trying to litigate the ultimate issue in the case, which is whether he had the right to possess and keep those things, even after he was asked to return them. It’s very unlikely that the court would accept that invitation to litigate that…He would have to prove that those things were illegally taken, and — based on what we know — that is going to be very difficult to prove…He’s going to have to make some very unusual legal arguments, which, if they’re anything like the motion that was just filed, is going to be a very uphill climb.”

Aug. 22

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ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: Trump Had More Than 300 Classified Documents at Mar-a-Lago, Maggie Haberman, Jodi Kantor, Adam Goldman and Ben Protess, Aug. 22, 2022. The initial batch of documents retrieved by the National Archives from former President Donald J. Trump in January included more than 150 marked as classified, a number that ignited intense concern at the Justice Department and helped trigger the criminal investigation that led F.B.I. agents to swoop into Mar-a-Lago this month seeking to recover more, multiple people briefed on the matter said.

In total, the government has recovered more than 300 documents with classified markings from Mr. Trump since he left office, the people said: that first batch of documents returned in January, another set provided by Mr. Trump’s aides to the Justice Department in June and the material seized by the F.B.I. in the search this month.

The previously unreported volume of the sensitive material found in the former president’s possession in January helps explain why the Justice Department moved so urgently to hunt down any further classified materials he might have.

And the extent to which such a large number of highly sensitive documents remained at Mar-a-Lago for months, even as the department sought the return of all material that should have been left in government custody when Mr. Trump left office, suggested to officials that the former president or his aides had been cavalier in handling it, not fully forthcoming with investigators, or both.

The specific nature of the sensitive material that Mr. Trump took from the White House remains unclear. But the 15 boxes Mr. Trump turned over to the archives in January, nearly a year after he left office, included documents from the C.I.A., the National Security Agency and the F.B.I. spanning a variety of topics of national security interest, a person briefed on the matter said.

Mr. Trump went through the boxes himself in late 2021, according to multiple people briefed on his efforts, before turning them over.

The highly sensitive nature of some of the material in the boxes prompted archives officials to refer the matter to the Justice Department, which within months had convened a grand jury investigation.

Aides to Mr. Trump turned over a few dozen additional sensitive documents during a visit to Mar-a-Lago by Justice Department officials in early June. At the conclusion of the search this month, officials left with 26 boxes, including 11 sets of material marked as classified, comprising scores of additional documents. One set had the highest level of classification, top secret/sensitive compartmented information.
The National Archives found more than 150 sensitive documents when it got a first batch of material from former President Trump in January.
That previously unreported count helps explain why the Justice Department moved so urgently to hunt down any further classified materials he might have.

Palmer Report, Analysis: Turn out Donald Trump stole classified CIA secrets, Bill Palmer, right, Aug. 22, 2022. In the two weeks since the Feds seized bill palmerclassified documents that Donald Trump had stolen and hidden in his home, his apologists have floated various excuses for why he had the documents. One of the most popular narratives has been that Trump simply wanted to use the documents to help him remember his time in office so he could write a memoir. But new reporting shatters that narrative.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump stole more than three hundred classified documents in total, including documents that were classified by the NSA and CIA, according to a new report tonight from the New York Times. These agencies don’t deal in the kind of somewhat harmless, just barely classified documents that Trump’s allies have suggested he took. These agencies deal in state secrets.

Moreover, the NYT is now confirming that Trump personally went through at least some of these boxes of classified documents. And while Trump did voluntarily turn over some of the classified documents earlier this year, the Feds ended up seizing documents that were at the “highest level of classification” – meaning Trump kept the good stuff for himself.

This new reporting also confirms that not one but two of Donald Trump’s lawyers signed a statement for the Feds earlier this year, asserting that all the classified documents at Mar-a-Lago had been returned. If it can be proven that they knew there were still dozens of boxes of classified information in Trump’s home at the time they signed that statement, then they’ll face criminal charges themselves, and they’ll have to decide whether to flip on Trump.

But let’s not lose track of the real headline here. Donald Trump didn’t just steal souvenirs that happened to be classified. He stole secrets that had been classified by the CIA and NSA. We’re talking state secrets here. We still don’t know if Trump actually tried to sell these secrets or blackmail anyone with them. But you don’t steal state secrets from the CIA unless you have really ugly intentions. No wonder the DOJ has classified this as an espionage investigation in its unsealed search warrant of Trump’s home.

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge in Trump Search Case Issues Written Order Seeking Redactions, Alan Feuer, Aug. 22, 2022. The order was made on the same day former President Trump’s lawyers asked another judge to appoint an independent special master to review the material seized.

The federal magistrate judge in Florida who signed the warrant authorizing the search of former President Donald J. Trump’s private club and residence issued a formal order on Monday directing the government to propose redactions to the sealed affidavit used to justify the search, saying that he remained inclined to make portions of it public.

But the judge, Bruce E. Reinhart, repeated in his order the note of caution he struck in court last week. The government, he added, could still persuade him to keep the whole affidavit sealed, and an extensively redacted version might result in what he described as “a meaningless disclosure.”

Hours after Judge Reinhart issued the order, lawyers for Mr. Trump filed a motion asking another federal judge in Florida — one whom Mr. Trump named to the bench — to appoint an independent arbiter, known as a special master, to review the documents seized during the search for any that fell outside the scope of the warrant or that were protected by executive privilege or attorney-client privilege.

The motion, which was filled with bombastic complaints about the search — “The government has long treated President Donald J. Trump unfairly,” it said at one point — also asked the Justice Department to provide an “informative receipt” of what was taken from Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s home and club in Florida, on Aug. 8. His lawyers wrote that the inventory left at the property by the agents who conducted the search was “legally deficient” and did “little to identify” the seized material.

aileen cannonIf the judge who received the motion, Aileen M. Cannon, left, appoints a special master in the case, it will almost certainly drag out the process of reviewing the multiple boxes of documents that were seized and slow down the government’s investigation into whether Mr. Trump obstructed a federal inquiry and wrongfully retained national defense documents.

Special masters were appointed in other high-profile searches involving Mr. Trump — including the one conducted in 2018 at the office of Michael D. Cohen, the former president’s longtime personal lawyer. In the Cohen case, lawyers for Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen moved quickly to request a special master. This time, it took Mr. Trump’s legal team two weeks to ask for an independent review.

“The department is aware of this evening’s motion,” said Anthony Coley, a spokesman for the Justice Department. “The United States will file its response in court.”

Judge Reinhart’s order earlier in the day effectively put in writing a ruling he made from the bench last Thursday, after arguments from news media companies that wanted the entire affidavit unsealed and federal prosecutors who wanted to keep it fully under wraps. In both his written order and his oral ruling, Judge Reinhart instructed the Justice Department to file a redacted version of the affidavit to him under seal by this Thursday at noon, accompanied by a memo explaining its justifications for the proposed redactions.

In his order, Judge Reinhart acknowledged that it was “a foundational principle of American law that judicial proceedings should be open to the public,” but offered three reasons for keeping much of the affidavit under seal, including some that were never fully explored at the hearing last week, in Federal District Court in West Palm Beach, Fla.

He said there was “a significant likelihood” that releasing the full affidavit could harm the safety of witnesses who helped the government’s investigation, leading to “witness intimidation or retaliation.”

“Given the public notoriety and controversy about this search, it is likely that even witnesses who are not expressly named in the affidavit would be quickly and broadly identified over social media and other communication channels, which could lead to them being harassed and intimidated,” Judge Reinhart wrote.

He also expressed concern about revealing the identity of the F.B.I. agent who swore to the affidavit, particularly when there have been “increased threats against F.B.I. personnel since the search.”

Days after the search at Mar-a-Lago, an armed man attacked the F.B.I.’s Cincinnati field office and died in a shootout with the local police. Not long after that, a Pennsylvania man was arrested after posting messages online threatening the F.B.I., including at least one that directly mentioned the attack outside Cincinnati.

Judge Reinhart further noted in his written order that releasing the full affidavit could also put Mr. Trump in danger, given that the document “discusses physical aspects” of Mar-a-Lago, which is “protected by the United States Secret Service.”

“Disclosure of those details,” Judge Reinhart wrote, “could affect the Secret Service’s ability to carry out its protective function.”

Aug. 20

 

Insurrectionists loyal to Donald Trump rioted at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (AP photo by José Luis Magaña).Insurrectionists loyal to Donald Trump rioted at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (AP photo by José Luis Magaña).

 washington post logoWashington Post, Officers recall battling thundering mob in Jan. 6 trial of Maine man, Tom Jackman, Aug. 19, 2022. Kyle Fitzsimons, seen with a bloody face in a widely shared photo from the Capitol riot, pushed his way to the front line and assaulted three police officers, according to testimony

kyle fitzsimmonsIn the battle for the West Terrace tunnel at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as a thundering mob tried to force its way through one small opening, three police officers testified in federal court this week that Kyle Fitzsimons pushed his way to the front line and assaulted them. All three also said they feared they were about to die during the hours-long attack.

Sgt. Phuson Nguyen, a 19-year veteran of the D.C. police, said he had already been hit once with some sort of chemical spray; he moved to the back of the tunnel and cleared his eyes, then returned to the front line with a gas mask on. Surveillance and police body-cam video played in court showed Fitzsimons reaching to pull Nguyen’s mask off while another man sprayed what Nguyen thought was bear spray directly into his face. Then Fitzsimons released the mask back onto Nguyen’s face, trapping the chemical irritant inside, the officer said.

“At that point I was choking under the mask,” Nguyen testified. “I also got knocked down at the same time. … In my head, I thought that was it for me. I thought that’s where I’m going to die. … In my head, I told myself, ‘If you want to see your family again, you need to gather yourself.’” He said he broke the seal on his mask and a colleague dragged him to safety.

After three days of testimony, and dozens of videos and photographs capturing Fitzsimons throughout the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, the judge hearing the case decided Friday not to issue a verdict on six felony counts, including assaulting police officers and obstructing an official proceeding, and five misdemeanors. Instead, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras said he would first consider a defense motion to dismiss some charges, and issue a ruling after Labor Day.

Fitzsimons, 38, from Lebanon, Maine, has been held in jail since February and is currently in the D.C. jail. He chose a bench trial rather than a jury trial, and Thursday he elected not to testify in the case.

aquilino gonell cns jim bourg pool via reutersaCapitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell (shown at left in a pool photo tearing up while testified before Congress about his ordeal, said Fitzsimons grabbed his left arm and tried to yank him out of the tunnel while he was leaning in the opposite direction, and video showed the two men struggling. Pain shot through his left shoulder, “one of the worst pains I felt in my life,” Gonell said. He said he suffered a partially torn rotator cuff and labrum, underwent surgery, and now faces a forced medical retirement from the Capitol Police.

D.C. Officer Sarah Beaver was also in the tunnel, after retreating from an earlier lost skirmish on the Capitol’s perimeter. Video showed Fitzsimons hurling an unstrung archery bow, which he told a reporter he brought to the District as a sign of peace, into the tunnel and hitting Beaver in the head. She was wearing a helmet and was unhurt, though briefly staggered. But spending hours in the small tunnel, Beaver said, “I couldn’t breathe and I was afraid if I passed out, I was going to die.”

Fitzsimons’s attorney, Natasha Taylor-Smith, a federal public defender from Philadelphia, said video evidence did not clearly show Fitzsimons grabbing Nguyen’s gas mask or Gonell’s shield. She said that Nguyen was “simply mistaken” about which rioter grabbed the mask, and that Fitzsimons was severely stunned by chemical spray coming from both sides when he allegedly snagged Gonell’s arm or shield.

Because the photo of a bloodied Fitzsimons was widely published, Taylor-Smith said, he “has become the poster child for January 6.” She said he did not bring any weapons to the Capitol, though prosecutors counted his bow as a weapon, and she criticized Gonell, saying he wrote a book, conducted multiple interviews and tried to profit from his experience. Gonell denied that.

washington post logoWashington Post, Lawmakers demand data noting uptick in social media posts ‘calling for civil war,’ Cat Zakrzewski, Aug. 20, 2022. House Oversight Committee leaders called on eight social networks, including Meta, Truth Social and Gab, to turn over details about how they’re responding following the FBI search of former president Donald Trump’s residence.

House Oversight Committee leaders are demanding social media companies take “immediate action” to address a flood of violent online threats against law enforcement, following the FBI’s search of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

The lawmakers sent letters Friday to the executives of eight social media companies, including Facebook parent company Meta and the fringe right-wing platform Gab, demanding details about the number of threats against law enforcement. The letters cite a “spike in social media users calling for civil war” and other violence against law enforcement after Trump and some Republican members of Congress lashed out against the FBI.

The letters say these online threats have contributed to attacks against law enforcement, citing the threats that the gunman who tried to breach the FBI’s Cincinnati field office earlier this month shared on Trump’s social network, Truth Social.

“We are concerned that reckless statements by the former president and Republican Members of Congress have unleashed a flood of violent threats on social media that have already led to at least one death and pose a danger to law enforcement officers across the United States,” said the letters written by House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and House national security subcommittee Chairman Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.). “We urge you to take immediate action to address any threats of violence against law enforcement that appear on your company’s platforms.”

FBI attacker was prolific contributor to Trump’s Truth Social website

The letters request information about how the companies respond to threats of violence, including how many threats against law enforcement were removed and how many were reported to authorities. The lawmakers also ask for plans to ensure platforms aren’t used to incite further violence against law enforcement, and for documents about any advertising that appeared alongside violent comments.

Lawmakers also sent letters to executives from Twitter, TikTok, Truth Social, Rumble, Gettr and Telegram, canvassing mainstream social networks, as well as alternative social networks favored by Trump’s supporters.

Law enforcement leaders have been sounding the alarm about threats to federal agents for a week, as top GOP leaders have accused the FBI, without evidence, of carrying out a politicized attack on Trump. The politicians have tapped into long-running hostility among Trump and his followers toward arms of the federal government, which some call the “Deep State.” The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a joint bulletin last week warning about an “increase in violent threats posted on social media against federal officials and facilities.”

Recent Headlines

 

Trump Probes, Reactions, Riots, Supporters

 

Shown above is the receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Aug. 12, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jon Elswick).

Shown above is the receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Aug. 12, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jon Elswick).

ny times logoNew York Times, Former President Trump is facing several active investigations. We break them down here, Staff Reports, Aug. 18, 2022 (print ed.). Former President Donald J. Trump’s legal jeopardy appeared to intensify significantly when federal agents issued a search warrant for his Florida club and home as part of an investigation into his handling of classified material.

President Donald Trump officialBut the active investigation is one of several into the former president’s business dealings and political activities.

Here are some of the most notable cases:

  • Classified documents inquiry
  • Georgia election interference case
  • Jan. 6 investigations
  • New York State civil inquiry
  • Manhattan criminal case

 

lindsey graham npr

ny times logoNew York Times, Graham Ordered to Appear Before Atlanta Grand Jury Investigating Trump, Richard Fausset, Aug. 20, 2022. A federal judge declined to stay an order that Senator Lindsey Graham, above, appear before a special grand jury investigating election interference by Donald Trump.

The order, issued by U.S. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May, means that Mr. Graham, a South Carolina Republican and staunch Trump ally, is on track to appear in a closed-door session of the special grand jury on Tuesday at a downtown Atlanta courthouse. However, Mr. Graham already has taken his case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which has the ability to step in to postpone his appearance.

Judge May had earlier issued an order forcing the senator to give testimony, but Mr. Graham asked the judge to stay the order while he pursued his appeal in the case. On Friday, the judge wrote that “the public interest would not be served” by granting a stay and delaying Mr. Graham’s testimony.

ny times logoNew York Times, An associate of Rudy Giuliani sought a pardon for the former lawyer to Donald Trump after Jan. 6, a new book said, Maggie Haberman, Aug. 20, 2022. The letter, which also requested that Rudolph W. Giuliani be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, was intercepted before reaching President Donald J. Trump.

An associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer, tried to pass a message to Mr. Trump asking him to grant Mr. Giuliani a “general pardon” and the Presidential Medal of Freedom just after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, according to a new book.

The associate, Maria Ryan, also pleaded for Mr. Giuliani to be paid for his services and sent a different note seeking tens of thousands of dollars for herself, according to the book, Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America’s Mayor, by Andrew Kirtzman, who had covered Mr. Giuliani as a journalist. The New York Times obtained an advance copy of the book, which is set to be released next month.

Bernard B. Kerik, Mr. Giuliani’s close adviser and the New York City police commissioner for part of his time as mayor, stopped the letter from getting to Mr. Trump. And it is unclear if Mr. Giuliani, who helped lead the efforts to overturn the 2020 election but has repeatedly insisted he did not seek a pardon shielding him from potential charges, was involved in the request.

But the letter adds another layer to the complex picture now swirling around Mr. Giuliani as he faces legal fallout from his efforts to try to help Mr. Trump cling to power, including being notified that he is a target in at least one investigation.

“Dear Mr. President,” Ms. Ryan wrote in the letter, dated Jan. 10, 2021, according to the book, “I tried to call you yesterday to talk about business. The honorable Rudy Giuliani has worked 24/7 on the voter fraud issues. He has led a team of lawyers, data analysts and investigators.”

Ms. Ryan, who co-hosts a radio show with Mr. Giuliani, made clear in the note that he was facing financial troubles.

“He needs to be paid for his services,” Ms. Ryan wrote. She said she had given an invoice to Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, via Katherine Friess, a lawyer working with Mr. Kerik.

Ms. Ryan went on, “As you know, he lost his job and income and more defending you during the Russia hoax investigation and then the impeachment pro bono.”

Mr. Kirtzman wrote in his book that Ms. Ryan had sent Mr. Meadows a bill for $2.5 million for Mr. Giuliani’s services and expenses. The Times has previously reported that Mr. Trump told aides that Mr. Giuliani was only to be “paid on the come,” a reference to a bet in the casino game craps, which translated to payment only if he succeeded.

huffington post logoHuffPost, Ex-CIA Director Says Today’s GOP Is Most Dangerous Political Force He’s Ever Seen, Jennifer Bendery, Aug. 18-19, 2022. “I agree,” said Michael Hayden, in response to a journalist who covers extremism describing Republicans as "nihilistic" and "contemptible."

Former CIA director Michael Hayden, a Bush administration appointee, said Wednesday that today’s Republican Party is the most dangerous political force he’s ever seen.

michael hayden CIA official portraitHayden, left, who is a retired U.S. Air Force four-star general and also the former director of the National Security Agency (NSA), made his claim on Twitter, in response to a tweet by Financial Times associate editor Edward Luce.

“I’ve covered extremism and violent ideologies around the world over my career. Have never come across a political force more nihilistic, dangerous and contemptible than today’s Republicans. Nothing close,” Luce wrote in the tweet.

“I agree,” Hayden wrote in response to the tweet. “And I was the CIA Director.”

Hayden served as the CIA’s chief from May 2006 until February 2009. He was appointed by former President George W. Bush, and he was confirmed to his post by every Senate Republican who was present that day, except for one, Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.).

CIA LogoHayden was also the NSA director from March 1999 until April 2005, appointed by former President Bill Clinton. During his tenure, he oversaw the NSA’s controversial warrantless wiretapping program put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
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Hayden has recently been warning about the damage that former President Donald Trump is doing to the country. Despite being a Republican, he endorsed Joe Biden for president in 2020 and even cut a video for him.

“If there is another term for President Trump, I don’t know what will happen to America,” Hayden said in the Oct. 2020 video released by Republican Voters Against Trump. He cited Trump’s disregard for the truth, his refusal to reject the actions of violent white supremacist groups and his disregard for America’s allies as reasons the nation could be in jeopardy.

Republican National Committee spokesperson Emma Vaughn criticized Hayden for “labeling half of Americans” as worse than the Islamic State group or al-Qaeda.

“Dangerous rhetoric from the left led to an assassination attempt on a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, a shooting at a Congressional baseball practice, Molotov cocktails at pregnancy centers, rampant crime in major cities, and an open border,” said Vaughn, despite no evidence that any of those matters are the result of Democratic rhetoric. “Call out the left on their threatening hyperbole, then we will talk."

 

donald trump money palmer report Custom

Palmer Report, Analysis: Where did the money go? Bill Palmer, Aug. 20, 2022. When it was reported this week that the National Republican Senatorial Committee was slashing TV ad budgets in some of the most competitive U.S. Senate races, it made sense on some level. The Republicans are running terrible candidates who aren’t exactly attracting fundraising momentum. And Donald Trump’s toxic unpopularity has put a damper on all things GOP when it comes to general election.

But even with these things factored in, how could the NRSC be this broke? It’s still only August. And if anything, when the purse strings tighten, you start by cutting ad budgets in the least competitive states. If it’s this early and the NRSC is already cutting ad buys in the highest profile Senate races, something doesn’t add up.

If it all feels suspicious to you, it turns out you’re not the only one. Some Republican strategists are now sounding the alarm about how the NRSC can be this broke and are demanding an audit, per the Washington Post. To give you an idea of how absurd the NRSC’s finances are, it somehow racked up $12 million in American Express credit card payments, while only spending $23 million on television ads. In other words, a huge chunk of the money that’s coming in is going out the door on… credit card purchases?

One big clue may be that the NRSC is run by Republican Senator Rick Scott. He’s best known for having defrauded Medicaid out of billions of dollars when he was a health care industry CEO. Now that he’s in charge of the NRSC, the NRSC’s books predictably come off as a fraudulent mess. Scott is also closely aligned with Donald Trump, who has long viewed the Republican Party as his personal piggy bank. So where did the money go?

In any case, it creates an opportunity for the Democrats, whose opponents are facing a cash crunch. Here are the nine Democratic Senate candidates running in the most competitive races. Donate, volunteer, and sign up for more information from all nine of them: Pennsylvania – Ohio – Florida – North Carolina – Wisconsin – Arizona – Georgia – New Hampshire – Nevada.

Aug. 18

 

Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, Donald J. Trump, and then Trump Golf Properties Chief Operating Officer Carolyn Kepcher in a publicity photo from Trump's former television show nearly two decades ago

Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg, Donald J. Trump, and then-Trump Golf Properties Chief Operating Officer Carolyn Kepcher in a publicity photo from Trump's former television show nearly two decades ago "The Apprentice," on which they each had recurring roles as talent judges before Kepcher was replaced in 2006 as a judge by Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump.

ny times logoNew York Times, Allen Weisselberg, a Top Trump Executive, Pleads Guilty in Tax Scheme, Jonah E. Bromwich, Ben Protess and William K. Rashbaum, Aug. 18, 2022. Mr. Weisselberg has refused to cooperate in the Manhattan district attorney’s broader investigation into Donald J. Trump and his family business.

One of Donald J. Trump’s most trusted executives pleaded guilty on Thursday to conspiring with Mr. Trump’s company to carry out a long-running tax scheme, an admission that painted a damning picture of the former president’s family business but did not advance a broader investigation into the man himself.

As part of the plea deal with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, the executive, Allen H. Weisselberg, is required to testify at the company’s trial if prosecutors choose to call on him, and to admit his role in conspiring with Mr. Trump’s company to carry out the tax scheme. That testimony could tilt the scales against the company, the Trump Organization, as it prepares for an October trial related to the same accusations.

“Yes, your honor,” Mr. Weisselberg said again and again in response to detailed questions from the judge, Juan Merchan, who asked whether he and the Trump Organization committed the criminal conduct underlying each of the 15 counts.

Under the terms of the plea deal, if Mr. Weisselberg testifies truthfully at the upcoming trial, he will receive a five-month sentence. Mr. Weisselberg, who was facing up to 15 years in prison, must also pay nearly $2 million in taxes, penalties and interest after accepting lavish tax-free perks including leased Mercedes-Benzes, an apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and private school tuition for his grandchildren.

The plea deal does not require Mr. Weisselberg to cooperate with the district attorney’s broader criminal investigation of Mr. Trump, and his admissions will not implicate the former president. His willingness to accept jail time rather than turn on Mr. Trump underscores the extent of his loyalty to a family he has served for nearly a half-century, and it helped stymie the larger effort to indict Mr. Trump.

Mr. Weisselberg was indicted alongside Mr. Trump’s family business last year and accused of participating in a scheme in which some employees were compensated with special off-the-books perks and benefits. Mr. Weisselberg, prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office said, avoided paying taxes on $1.76 million of his income over the last 15 years.

In refusing to cooperate against Mr. Trump, Mr. Weisselberg fended off intense pressure from prosecutors. They saw Mr. Weisselberg as the ideal cooperator in their wider investigation focused on the former president and his business practices: He entered the Trump orbit in the early 1970s as a junior bookkeeper for Mr. Trump’s father and climbed the ranks at the Trump Organization in the decades that followed, developing an encyclopedic knowledge of its finances.

Despite not securing Mr. Weisselberg’s cooperation, the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, may still gain a victory from the deal. Prosecutors now can point to Mr. Weisselberg’s admissions that he conspired with the Trump Organization — damning evidence against the company — when they face off at trial. And Mr. Weisselberg, an accountant who served a vital role as the company’s financial gatekeeper, will be branded as a felon.

“In one of the most difficult decisions of his life, Mr. Weisselberg decided to enter a plea of guilty today to put an end to this case and the yearslong legal and personal nightmares it has caused for him and his family,” his lawyer, Nicholas A. Gravante Jr., said in a statement. “Rather than risk the possibility of 15 years in prison, he has agreed to serve 100 days. We are glad to have this behind him.” Mary E. Mulligan, another one of his lawyers, declined to comment.

In his own statement, Mr. Bragg emphasized that the plea “directly implicates the Trump Organization in a wide range of criminal activity,” adding that, “We look forward to proving our case in court against the Trump Organization.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s dominance in GOP comes into focus, worrying some in his party, Hannah Knowles, Josh Dawsey and David Weigel, Aug. 18, 2022 (print ed.). Rep. Liz Cheney’s defeat by a wide margin marked the fourth loss by a House Republican who voted to impeach Trump last year on charges that he incited a riot.

Donald Trump is securing his grip on the Republican Party less than three months before the midterms, with GOP primary voters surging to the polls in Wyoming to oust his most vocal GOP critic, scores of nominees for state and federal offices amplifying his false claims and bellicose rhetoric, and many prominent party figures echoing his evidence-free attacks about the FBI search of his home.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Trump’s staunchest Republican opponent in Congress, lost her primary Tuesday in a landslide to Harriet Hageman, whom the former president endorsed with the sole mission of dislodging Cheney. The race attracted more voters than any Republican primary in Wyoming’s 132-year history — serving as a stark example of how Trump has kept his hold on the party after losing the presidency in 2020.

Hageman’s victory marked the fourth and final primary defeat of a House Republican who voted to impeach Trump last year on charges that he incited a riot. Of the 10 who cast that vote, only two are now possibilities to retain their seats next year, both advancing from all-party primaries with unusual rules. The other four opted not to run for reelection.

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge May Release Affidavit in Trump Search, but Only After Redaction, Patricia Mazzei and Alan Feuer, Aug. 18, 2022. The federal judge’s redaction order came as he said he was inclined to unseal parts of the affidavit used in the search of former President Trump’s home. The decision struck a middle course between the Justice Department, which wanted to keep the affidavit under wraps, and media organizations.

A federal judge ordered the government on Thursday to propose redactions to the highly sensitive affidavit that was used to justify a search warrant executed by the F.B.I. last week at former President Donald J. Trump’s private home and club, saying he was inclined to unseal parts of it.

Ruling from the bench, the judge, Bruce E. Reinhart, said it was “very important” that the public have as “much information” as it can about the historic search at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s Florida residence, noting that there were portions of the affidavit that “could be presumptively unsealed.”

“Whether those portions would be meaningful for the public or the media,” Judge Reinhart added, was not for him to decide. He acknowledged that the redaction process can often be extensive and effectively turn documents into “meaningless gibberish.”

Judge Reinhart’s decision appeared to strike a middle course between the Justice Department, which had wanted to keep the affidavit entirely under wraps as its investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents continued, and a group of news organizations, which requested that it be released in full to the public.

Warrant affidavits — which are written and sworn to by federal agents before searches take place — contain detailed information about criminal investigations and are almost always kept under seal until charges are filed.

As part of his ruling, Judge Reinhart ordered the government to send him under seal proposed redactions to the warrant affidavit by next Thursday at noon. He said he would review the suggestions and decide if he agreed with them. But he did not set a specific date for the affidavit to be released.

“This is going to be a considered, careful process,” Judge Reinhart said.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to Judge Reinhart’s ruling, but privately, officials said they were shocked by the decision.

The hearing, in Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida, emerged from an effort last week by a coalition of news organizations to unseal the affidavit — a document that should disclose the contours of the broader investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of the sensitive files — chief among them, what led prosecutors to believe there was probable cause that evidence of a crime existed at Mar-a-Lago. Among the news organizations making the request were The New York Times, The Washington Post and Dow Jones & Company.

It is unlikely, however, that any critical details of the inquiry, including issues related to probable cause or the identities of witnesses who were interviewed by prosecutors will make it into the redacted version of the affidavit.

At the request of the Justice Department, Judge Reinhart has already unsealed the warrant itself and two attachments to it. Those documents revealed, among other things, that prosecutors have been looking into whether Mr. Trump violated the Espionage Act, mishandled government records and obstructed justice by removing boxes of material from the White House at the end of his tenure.

ny times logoNew York Times, Jan. 6 Grand Jury Has Subpoenaed White House Documents, Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater, Aug. 18, 2022 (print ed.). The subpoena, issued in May to the National Archives, demanded all documents the agency had provided to the House committee’s parallel investigation.

Federal prosecutors investigating the role that former President Donald J. Trump and his allies played in the events leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol have issued a grand jury subpoena to the National Archives for all the documents the agency provided to a parallel House select committee inquiry, according to a copy of the subpoena obtained by The New York Times.

nara logoThe subpoena, issued to the National Archives in May, made a sweeping demand for “all materials, in whatever form” that the archives had given to the Jan. 6 House committee. Those materials included records from the files of Mr. Trump’s top aides, his daily schedule and phone logs and a draft text of the president’s speech that preceded the riot.

It was signed by Thomas P. Windom, the federal prosecutor who has been leading the Justice Department’s wide-ranging inquiry into what part Mr. Trump and his allies may have played in various schemes to maintain power after the former president’s defeat in the 2020 election — chief among them a plan to submit fake slates of pro-Trump electors in states actually won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The subpoena was not related to a separate investigation into Mr. Trump’s retention and handling of classified documents that were removed from the White House at the end of his tenure and taken to Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence in Palm Beach, Fla. That inquiry led this month to a court-approved search of Mar-a-Lago during which federal agents carted off several boxes of sensitive materials.

Asking the National Archives for any White House documents pertaining to the events surrounding Jan. 6 was one of the first major steps the House panel took in its investigation. And the grand jury subpoena suggests that the Justice Department has not only been following the committee’s lead in pursuing its inquiry, but also that prosecutors believe evidence of a crime may exist in the White House documents the archives turned over to the House panel.

ny times logoNew York Times, Former Vice President Mike Pence called on Republicans to stop assailing the F.B.I. after the Mar-a-Lago search, Alan Feuer and Luke Broadwater, Aug. 18, 2022 (print ed.). Former Vice President Mike Pence also said he would consider talking to the Jan. 6 committee if he were “summoned to testify.”

mike pence oFormer Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday called on Republicans to stop attacking the nation’s top law enforcement agencies over the F.B.I.’s search of Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald J. Trump’s Palm Beach, Fla., home.

Congressional Republicans, including members of leadership, have reacted with fury to the Aug. 8 search, which is part of an investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of classified material. Some lawmakers have called to “defund” or “destroy” the F.B.I., even as more moderate voices have chastised their colleagues for their rhetoric.

Speaking at a political event in New Hampshire, Mr. Pence said that Republicans could hold the Justice Department and the F.B.I. accountable for their decisions “without attacking the rank-and-file law enforcement personnel.”

Aug. 15

 

djt rudy new giuliani Custom

ny times logoNew York Times, Giuliani Is Target of Georgia Criminal Inquiry on Election Interference, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Aug. 15, 2022. Lawyers for Rudolph W. Giuliani have been told that he is a target of a criminal investigation in Georgia into election interference by Donald J. Trump and his advisers, one of Mr. Giuliani’s lawyers said on Monday.

rudy giuliani recentMr. Giuliani, who spearheaded efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power as his personal lawyer, emerged in recent weeks as a central figure in the inquiry being conducted by Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Ga., which encompasses most of Atlanta. Earlier this summer, prosecutors questioned witnesses before a special grand jury about Mr. Giuliani’s appearances before state legislative panels in December 2020, when he spent hours peddling false conspiracy theories about secret suitcases of Democratic ballots and corrupted voting machines.

For Mr. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, the developments are the latest in a widening swath of trouble, though he got some good news recently when it emerged that he was unlikely to face charges in a federal criminal inquiry into his ties to Ukraine during the 2020 presidential campaign.

 

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani hawking their false claims that they could prove election fraud caused Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential victory in 2020.

washington post logoWashington Post, Michigan plot to breach voting machines points to a national trend, Patrick Marley and Tom Hamburger, Aug. 15, 2022 (print ed.). A state police inquiry found evidence of a conspiracy that has echoes elsewhere in the country as election deniers seek proof of 2020 fraud.

michigan mapEight months after the 2020 presidential election, Robin Hawthorne didn’t expect anyone to ask for her township’s voting machines.

The election had gone smoothly, she said, just as others had that she’d overseen for 17 years as the Rutland Charter Township clerk in rural western Michigan. But now a sheriff’s deputy and investigator were in her office, questioning her about her township’s three vote tabulators, suggesting that they somehow had been programmed with a microchip to shift votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden and asking her to hand one over for inspection.

dana nessel o“What the heck is going on?” she recalled thinking.

The surprise visit may have been an “out-of-the-blue thing,” as Hawthorne described it, but it was one element of a much broader effort by figures who deny the outcome of the 2020 vote to access voting machines in a bid to prove fraud that experts say does not exist.

In states across the country — including Colorado, Pennsylvania and Georgia — attempts to inappropriately access voting machines have spurred investigations. They have also sparked concern among election authorities that, while voting systems are broadly secure, breaches by those looking for evidence of fraud could themselves compromise the integrity of the process and undermine confidence in the vote.

In Michigan, the efforts to access the machines jumped into public view this month when the state’s attorney general, Dana Nessel (D), left, requested a special prosecutor be assigned to look into a group that includes her likely Republican opponent, Matthew DePerno.

The expected GOP nominee, Nessel’s office wrote in a petition filed Aug. 5 based on the findings of a state police investigation, was “one of the prime instigators” of a conspiracy to persuade Michigan clerks to allow unauthorized access to voting machines. Others involved, according to the filing, included a state representative and the sheriff in Barry County, Dar Leaf.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. Elections Live Updates: Election deniers march toward power in key 2024 battlegrounds,, Amy Gardner, Aug. 15, 2022. GOP nominees who dispute the 2020 results could be positioned to play a critical role in the next presidential election.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Trump’s election denialism took over the GOP, JM Rieger, Aug. 15, 2022 (video). Former president Donald Trump’s false claims election claims began in 2016, but did not become a key litmus test for Republican candidates until after the 2020 election. Here’s how it happened.

 

Trump Defense Secretary Mark Esper, shown in a file photo at right with then-President Trump, has published a harsh assessment of Trump's willingness to break law and other norms to retain power and punish his perceived opponents..

Trump Defense Secretary Mark Esper, shown in a file photo at right with then-President Trump, has published a harsh assessment of Trump's willingness to break law and other norms to retain power and punish his perceived opponents.

Proof, Investigative Commentary: Donald Trump’s January 6 Coup Plot Infiltrated the Pentagon, Seth Abramson, left, Aug. 14-15, 2022. It’s no longer seth abramson graphicpossible to look away from a simple fact: the civilian leadership at the Pentagon under former president Trump is now implicated seth abramson proof logoin his coup conspiracy—and Congress must investigate it.

Note: This 250-page report on the coup plot at the Pentagon functions as the fourth book in the Proof series, Proof of Coup: How the Pentagon Shaped An Insurrection.

Seth Abramson, shown above and at right, is founder of Proof and is a former criminal defense attorney and criminal investigator who teaches digital journalism, seth abramson resized4 proof of collusionlegal advocacy, and cultural theory at the University of New Hampshire. A regular political and legal analyst on CNN and the BBC during the Trump presidency, he is a best-selling author who has published eight books and edited five anthologies.

Abramson is a graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and the Ph.D. program in English at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include a Trump trilogy: Proof of Corruption: Bribery, Impeachment, and Pandemic in the Age of Trump (2020); Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy (2019); and Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018).

Palmer Report, Analysis: Donald Trump says the DOJ has seized his passports, Bill Palmer, right, Aug. 15, 2022. After the DOJ had the FBI carry out a bill palmersearch warrant at Mar-a-Lago to retrieve the classified documents that Donald Trump stole, and the unsealed search warrant revealed that Trump was under criminal investigation for espionage, it raised questions about whether he might hypothetically try to flee the country. Looks like we won’t have to worry about that.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump just announced on his failed social network that while the FBI was carrying out the search warrant, it seized his three passports. Of course Trump claims the FBI “stole” his passports. For that matter we’re not sure why he has three passports, even if he is strangely announcing that one of the three is expired. Wouldn’t that mean two active passports? Is one of them from Russia? Is one of them for John Barron, or another of Trump’s aliases?

But here’s what we do know. The Feds wouldn’t have taken Trump’s passports unless they were legally authorized to do so. And the legal basis for seizing someone’s passports is that they’re considered a potential flight risk. This doesn’t mean that the Feds uncovered evidence Trump was planning to flee the country, only that the specifics of his crimes point to the potential for fleeing. Given that Trump reportedly stole nuclear secrets among other things, and his significant financial ties to Saudi Arabia and other nations, it’s not shocking to think he might panic and try to flee. But now he can’t.

djt looking upTwo things stand out here. First, this means Trump is almost certainly going to be criminally indicted by the DOJ. That was already obvious, but this helps nail it down. Second, why is Trump just now belatedly throwing a fit about his seized passports having been seized, a week after they were taken? Why did he just put that together today? Why was he looking for his passports, or asking his legal team about his passports, today? So many questions, so much intrigue, but it all firmly points to Trump in handcuffs.

On the other hand, it’s possible that Trump could be lying about this and making it up. He does lie constantly. But why would he make up such a weird and oddly specific lie that only makes him look even more guilty? It’s theoretically possible he asked his lawyers for his passports, and they tried to keep him from fleeing by lying to him and claiming the Feds had seized them. But that all seems less likely than the scenario in which the Feds really did seize Trump’s passports, as one would expect at this stage of this kind of criminal probe.

 

Shown above is the receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Aug. 12, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jon Elswick).

Shown above is the receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Aug. 12, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jon Elswick).

ny times logoNew York Times, Some Republicans Make a More Restrained Case for Defending Trump, Luke Broadwater, Aug. 15, 2022 (print ed.). When some G.O.P. members of Congress attacked the nation’s top law enforcement agencies immediately after the F.B.I.’s search of Mar-a-Lago, it underscored deep fissures within the party.

As Republicans continued on Sunday to defend former President Donald J. Trump after an unprecedented F.B.I. search of his residence in Florida, deep fissures were visible in the party’s support for law enforcement amid a federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of top secret documents.

Immediately after the search, congressional Republicans, including members of leadership, reacted with fury, attacking the nation’s top law enforcement agencies. Some called to “defund” or “destroy” the F.B.I., and others invoked the Nazi secret police, using words like “gestapo” and “tyrants.”

On Sunday, more moderate voices in the party chastised their colleagues for the broadsides against law enforcement, making a more restrained case for defending Mr. Trump while also carrying out oversight of the Justice Department.

 

djt hands up mouth open CustomPalmer Report, Analysis: How the DOJ beat Donald Trump to the punch, Bill Palmer, Aug. 15, 2022. The DOJ had to know that once it carried out the search and seizure warrant against Donald Trump, he would try this “I thought I had already declassified all the documents I took” defense. So, based on how various legal experts have assessed the unsealed warrant and listed charges, it appears the DOJ carefully crafted its criminal probe such that Trump wouldn’t be off the hook even if the documents were declassified. This is why it takes time for these kinds of cases to come to fruition. It’s also why Trump will be convicted.

bill palmer report logo headerImagine if the DOJ had based the search warrant on a more simplistic argument that Trump was merely in illegal possession of classified documents. In such case he’d tell the jury that he honestly thought he’d declassified them, and if the jury saw it as a valid reasonable doubt argument, Trump would go free.

So the DOJ built its case on the premise that Trump wasn’t allowed to have these documents at his home, and refused to give them back, and lied about not having them, and voila, Trump is automatically guilty of espionage and obstruction. Whether anything was “classified” doesn’t even matter.

Obviously, if it turns out Trump stole nuclear secrets (reported), or particularly if he tried to sell them (unknown), that would merit additional, even more severe charges. But that would just be piling on. The point is to make certain that Trump is nailed on more straightforward charges, such as being illegally in possession of documents and obstruction.

As things now stand, based just on what’s in the unsealed search warrant, the Feds already have a jury-proof criminal case against Trump on multiple serious charges. We just don’t know if the DOJ will indict Trump on this now and then indict on January 6th-related and election fraud-related charges later, or if the DOJ will wait until it’s ready to bring all of the charges at once.

Trump and his people are making a big mistake if they think they can defeat an airtight federal criminal case by fighting it in the media. Criminal trials don’t work that way. Ask Steve Bannon. He seemed to think he could beat the rap by running his mouth. The judge and jury ended up seeing it differently.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Walker, Pollard, Hanssen, Trump . . . America's most traitorous spies, Wayne Madsen, left, author of 22 books, former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Aug. 15, wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Small2022. Donald Trump, with his affectation for Eastern European models during the Cold War, should have registered with the FBI early on as a potential spy for America's enemies.

wayne madesen report logoCzechoslovak State Security (ŠtB) certainly believed that to be the case when they tripled their efforts to ensure that their two assets, Ivana Zelníčková and her father, Miloš Zelníček, applied a full-court press on Trump beginning in 1976 when Ivana first met Trump.

A year later, ŠtB asset Ivana Zelníčková married Trump. The first Mrs. Trump and Warsaw Pact intelligence asset worked her way into top-level executive jobs in the Trump Organization, including president of the Trump Castle Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, later becoming the manager of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. These positions and her marriage to Donald Trump gave Ivana, and the ŠtB and, by default, the Soviet KGB, important access to the movers and shakers of American politics, business, and media.

Ivana Trump, the mother of Donald Trump, Jr., Eric, and Ivanka, would continue to have access to her ex-husband and his business and political operations long after their divorce in 1992. These benefits included her use of Mar-a-Lago for one month a year pursuant to her divorce settlement with Donald.

[Documentation here.]

Since Trump's circle of acquaintances over the years has included notorious spies and sex blackmailers, where does that place Trump in the world of espionage against the United States? We know that Trump has stolen the nation's most sensitive secrets, but for how long has this gone on?

washington post logoWashington Post, Graham must testify in Ga. probe of effort to overturn 2020 election, judge rules, Eugene Scott, Aug. 15, 2022. A federal judge on Monday denied Sen. Lindsey O. Graham’s (R-S.C.) request to quash his subpoena in Georgia prosecutors’ investigation into potential criminal interference in the 2020 presidential election by President Donald Trump and his allies, signaling he must testify in the probe.

Graham had argued that he should be exempt from testifying because of speech or debate clause protections, sovereign immunity and his position as a high-ranking government official. U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May rejected all three arguments.

“The Court finds that the District Attorney has shown extraordinary circumstances and a special need for Senator Graham’s testimony on issues relating to alleged attempts to influence or disrupt the lawful administration of Georgia’s 2022 elections,” the judge wrote.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D) requested a special grand jury earlier this year. It began meeting in June and has identified more than 100 people of interest. The panel has already heard testimony from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) and his staff, Georgia Attorney General Christopher M. Carr (R), state lawmakers and local election workers.

GOP fake electors ‘targets’ in Georgia election fraud inquiry

Graham is of interest to the committee for phone calls he made to Raffensperger about Georgia’s election system. Willis claims Graham made multiple phone calls to Raffensperger and his staff after the election requesting that they reexamine certain absentee ballots “to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former president Donald Trump.”

Politico, Opinion: Espionage Isn’t the Strongest Case Against Trump. It’s Simpler Than That, Renato Mariotti (Legal Affairs Columnist for Politico Magazine, and a former federal prosecutor), Aug. 15, 2022 (print ed.). He kept sensitive documents when he was told he shouldn’t and that’s a chargeable crime.

politico CustomWhile Trump repeatedly evaded criminal liability for acts he committed while in office, in part because the office he held provided him with potential defenses, he is no longer president. | Yuki Iwamura/AP Photo

Former president Donald Trump’s stubborn refusal to return highly classified material forced the Justice Department’s hand, resulting in the execution of a search warrant at his residence. But while it is possible the DOJ merely wanted to retrieve and secure the material that Trump refused to give back to the government, if they decide to press forward with charges, their case looks quite strong.

djt maga hatThe government initially treated Trump with kid gloves when he took government property, including classified documents, with him after he left office. The National Archives negotiated with Trump’s attorneys, securing 15 boxes of documents improperly taken by Trump in January, some of which contained classified information.

In June, the DOJ’s top counterintelligence official and other federal officials traveled to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate and viewed additional material kept there by Trump, and they issued a subpoena demanding the return of classified material.

If you or I had some 21 boxes of potentially classified information in our home, the Feds wouldn’t ask for it politely or even issue a subpoena. They would have taken possession of that material right away, and we would face serious charges. The DOJ’s decision to wait and only obtain a search warrant after they received information that Trump had not relinquished all of the material was likely motivated by deference to the former president. Ironically this deference has likely strengthened a potential criminal prosecution of Trump.

Justice Department log circularMuch of the initial reaction to the search warrant focused on the Espionage Act, which was cited in the search warrant. While the title of that over 100-year-old law sounds like it has to do with spying, it is possible to violate the Espionage Act just by improperly retaining national defense information and failing to return it to the United States government when it is demanded.

That statute, along with one of the other statutes cited in the search warrant, require the prosecution to prove “willfulness.” In other words, they require the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to break the law. It is often difficult to meet this burden, and one strategy I used as a federal prosecutor was to have agents serve targets of investigations with a notice indicating that what they were doing was breaking the law. If the target continued to violate the law after receiving the notice, we had the proof we needed.

DOJ’s repeated requests and demands to Trump and his team served the same purpose. It will be difficult for Trump to claim that he did not realize that the records he kept were national security secrets that rightfully belonged to the government, given that the government repeatedly told him so and demanded their return. Moreover, Trump was present when the DOJ visited Mar-a-Lago to meet with his lawyers and demand the records.

Despite Trump’s insistence that if the government wanted the records back, “all they had to do was ask,” the government repeatedly asked for the records and Trump refused to give them back, giving them only “what he believed they were entitled to.” Although Trump may believe that highly classified defense secrets are his own personal property, or that he could keep Top Secret documents because he informally “declassified” them without following established procedures, it will be difficult to convince jurors that he had a legitimate reason to keep such sensitive national security information at his Florida resort.

While Trump repeatedly evaded criminal liability for acts he committed while in office, in part because the office he held provided him with potential defenses, he is no longer president. And unlike other outside-the-box acts he allegedly engaged in, like ordering that the special counsel who investigated him be fired (which his White House counsel disregarded), or inciting a mob to attack the Capitol, taking classified material and concealing it from the government is a crime that is regularly charged and straightforward to prove. Government employees are charged, convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms for doing what Trump did.
‘I will not stand by silently’: Garland defends FBI, DOJ

Trump’s defense appears to be that he “had a standing order” declassifying every document he brought to his residence.

But because the government is not required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the materials in question were classified, Trump’s “defense” that he declassified the materials would not itself defeat the government’s claim that the information was closely held national defense information, as required by the statutes.

Aug. 14

 

Shown above is the receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Aug. 12, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jon Elswick).

Shown above is the receipt for property that was seized during the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. on Aug. 12, 2022 (Associated Press Photo by Jon Elswick).

washington post logoWashington Post, Mar-a-Lago search shows how records dispute became a national security probe, Josh Dawsey, Rosalind S. Helderman, Jacqueline Alemany and Devlin Barrett, Aug. 14, 2022 (print ed.). Donald Trump was huddled with lawyers in New York on an unrelated investigation when they learned FBI agents had arrived in Palm Beach, Fla., with a warrant, authorized to search for any and all evidence a crime had been committed.

As FBI agents pulled up to Donald Trump’s Florida club Monday morning to conduct a search for top-secret government documents — approved by a federal judge and requested by the attorney general of the United States — the former president was by chance already huddled with his lawyers in Trump Tower in New York, a thousand miles to the north.

So distressing was the search that the usually loquacious Trump team stayed mum for much of the day — until 6:51 p.m., when Trump himself confirmed the raid in a bombastic statement that declared it unjustified and politically motivated. “They even broke into my safe!” he announced.

The court-authorized search was a remarkable moment even for Trump, who has been under investigation by state and federal prosecutors nearly continuously since he swore the oath of office in 2017. What began as a low-level dispute over the Trump White House’s chaotic and haphazard record-keeping had morphed into a deeply serious probe of whether the ex-president had endangered national security by hoarding highly classified documents, some potentially related to nuclear weapons.

The past week’s events — which began with the raid and continued with Attorney General Merrick Garland’s rare move Thursday to publicly defend the FBI against partisan criticism and misinformation, take personal responsibility for the search and announce he wanted the warrant unsealed by a court — marked a turning point in the Justice Department’s posture toward Trump.

Garland had vowed to erect a sturdy wall between politics and law enforcement, and he had faced grinding criticism from Trump’s critics that he had been too cautious in holding the former president to account. Now he was the face of a law enforcement action that threatened to further cleave the nation, as some of Trump’s allies likened the FBI’s search to a political persecution more common in a “banana republic” or even under Nazi rule.

For Trump, the episode opened a new chapter in his tormented relationship with legal authorities, confirming that his vulnerabilities expanded beyond the better publicized and ongoing probes into his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and his personal business.

washington post logoWashington Post, Lawmakers call for intelligence officials to conduct damage assessment of the documents found at Trump’s club, Jacqueline Alemany, Aug. 14, 2022 (print ed.). In a letter, Maloney and Schiff call for intelligence officials to conduct a damage assessment of the highly classified information found at Trump’s club.

The House Democrats’ top investigators on Saturday asked the director of National Intelligence to conduct a review and damage assessment of the boxes of highly classified information seized by the FBI this week from former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

The letter was sent to National Intelligence Director Avril Haines by House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and cites the search warrant cataloguing the classified documents of various levels of sensitivity found at Mar-a-Lago.

“Former President Trump’s conduct has potentially put our national security at grave risk,” the two wrote, asking also for a classified briefing on the assessment as soon as possible. “This issue demands a full review, in addition to the ongoing law enforcement inquiry.”

The two also voiced concern that the FBI is looking in part at highly classified documents related to nuclear weapons, as first reported by The Washington Post.

“If this report is true, it is hard to overstate the national security danger that could emanate from the reckless decision to remove and retain this material,” the letter states.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Lawyer Told Justice Dept. That Classified Material Had Been Returned, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, Aug. 14, 2022 (print ed.). The lawyer signed a statement in June that all documents marked as classified and held in boxes in storage at Mar-a-Lago had been given back. The search at the former president’s home on Monday turned up more.

Justice Department log circularAt least one lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump signed a written statement in June asserting that all material marked as classified and held in boxes in a storage area at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and club had been returned to the government, four people with knowledge of the document said.

The written declaration was made after a visit on June 3 to Mar-a-Lago by Jay I. Bratt, the top counterintelligence official in the Justice Department’s national security division.

The existence of the signed declaration, which has not previously been reported, is a possible indication that Mr. Trump or his team were not fully forthcoming with federal investigators about the material. And it could help explain why a potential violation of a criminal statute related to obstruction was cited by the department as one basis for seeking the warrant used to carry out the daylong search of the former president’s home on Monday, an extraordinary step that generated political shock waves.

It also helps to further explain the sequence of events that prompted the Justice Department’s decision to conduct the search after months in which it had tried to resolve the matter through discussions with Mr. Trump and his team.

An inventory of the material taken from Mr. Trump’s home that was released on Friday showed that F.B.I. agents seized 11 sets of documents during the search with some type of confidential or secret marking on them, including some marked as “classified/TS/SCI” — shorthand for “top secret/sensitive compartmented information.” Information categorized in that fashion is meant to be viewed only in a secure government facility.

The search encompassed not just the storage area where boxes of material known to the Justice Department were being held but also Mr. Trump’s office and residence. The search warrant and inventory unsealed on Friday did not specify where in the Mar-a-Lago complex the documents marked as classified were found.

Mr. Trump said on Friday that he had declassified all the material in his possession while he was still in office. He did not provide any documentation that he had done so.

The search warrant said F.B.I. agents were carrying out the search to look for evidence related to possible violations of the obstruction statute as well as the Espionage Act and a statute that bars the unlawful taking or destruction of government records or documents. No one has been charged in the case, and the search warrant on its own does not mean anyone will be.

The lawyer signed a statement in June that all documents marked as classified and held in boxes in storage at Mar-a-Lago had been given back. The search at the former president’s home on Monday turned up more.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Distinguished persons of the week: They are patriots, unlike the MAGA cult, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug.14, 2022. As jennifer rubin new headshotMAGA thugs are wont to do, their reaction to the lawful search at former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, which we now know might have been related to nuclear secrets (which Trump has denied), amounted to an stream of insults and threats designed to whip up unhinged, violent characters.

While the exact motives of the person who attacked FBI offices in Cincinnati on Thursday remain unknown, reports indicate he christopher wray owas in D.C. in the days leading up the Jan. 6 insurrection and might have been at the U.S. Capitol that day. The GOP’s cycle of incitement and violence continues.

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, left, was properly outraged. “Unfounded attacks on the integrity of the FBI erode respect for the rule of law and are a grave disservice to the men and women who sacrifice so much to protect others,” he said in a written statement on Thursday. “Violence and threats against law enforcement, including the FBI, are dangerous and should be deeply concerning to all Americans. Every day I see the men and women of the FBI doing their jobs professionally and with rigor, objectivity, and a fierce commitment to our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution. I am proud to serve alongside them.”

Politico, Opinion: Espionage Isn’t the Strongest Case Against Trump. It’s Simpler Than That, Renato Mariotti (Legal Affairs Columnist for POLITICO Magazine, and a former federal prosecutor), Aug.14, 2022. He kept sensitive documents when he was told he shouldn’t and that’s a chargeable crime.

politico CustomWhile Trump repeatedly evaded criminal liability for acts he committed while in office, in part because the office he held provided him with potential defenses, he is no longer president. | Yuki Iwamura/AP Photo

Former president Donald Trump’s stubborn refusal to return highly classified material forced the Justice Department’s hand, resulting in the execution of a search warrant at his residence. But while it is possible the DOJ merely wanted to retrieve and secure the material that Trump refused to give back to the government, if they decide to press forward with charges, their case looks quite strong.

djt maga hatThe government initially treated Trump with kid gloves when he took government property, including classified documents, with him after he left office. The National Archives negotiated with Trump’s attorneys, securing 15 boxes of documents improperly taken by Trump in January, some of which contained classified information.

In June, the DOJ’s top counterintelligence official and other federal officials traveled to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate and viewed additional material kept there by Trump, and they issued a subpoena demanding the return of classified material.

If you or I had some 21 boxes of potentially classified information in our home, the Feds wouldn’t ask for it politely or even issue a subpoena. They would have taken possession of that material right away, and we would face serious charges. The DOJ’s decision to wait and only obtain a search warrant after they received information that Trump had not relinquished all of the material was likely motivated by deference to the former president. Ironically this deference has likely strengthened a potential criminal prosecution of Trump.

Much of the initial reaction to the search warrant focused on the Espionage Act, which was cited in the search warrant. While the title of that over 100-year-old law sounds like it has to do with spying, it is possible to violate the Espionage Act just by improperly retaining national defense information and failing to return it to the United States government when it is demanded.

That statute, along with one of the other statutes cited in the search warrant, require the prosecution to prove “willfulness.” In other words, they require the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to break the law. It is often difficult to meet this burden, and one strategy I used as a federal prosecutor was to have agents serve targets of investigations with a notice indicating that what they were doing was breaking the law. If the target continued to violate the law after receiving the notice, we had the proof we needed.

DOJ’s repeated requests and demands to Trump and his team served the same purpose. It will be difficult for Trump to claim that he did not realize that the records he kept were national security secrets that rightfully belonged to the government, given that the government repeatedly told him so and demanded their return. Moreover, Trump was present when the DOJ visited Mar-a-Lago to meet with his lawyers and demand the records.

Despite Trump’s insistence that if the government wanted the records back, “all they had to do was ask,” the government repeatedly asked for the records and Trump refused to give them back, giving them only “what he believed they were entitled to.” Although Trump may believe that highly classified defense secrets are his own personal property, or that he could keep Top Secret documents because he informally “declassified” them without following established procedures, it will be difficult to convince jurors that he had a legitimate reason to keep such sensitive national security information at his Florida resort.

While Trump repeatedly evaded criminal liability for acts he committed while in office, in part because the office he held provided him with potential defenses, he is no longer president. And unlike other outside-the-box acts he allegedly engaged in, like ordering that the special counsel who investigated him be fired (which his White House counsel disregarded), or inciting a mob to attack the Capitol, taking classified material and concealing it from the government is a crime that is regularly charged and straightforward to prove. Government employees are charged, convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms for doing what Trump did.
‘I will not stand by silently’: Garland defends FBI, DOJ

Trump’s defense appears to be that he “had a standing order” declassifying every document he brought to his residence.

But because the government is not required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the materials in question were classified, Trump’s “defense” that he declassified the materials would not itself defeat the government’s claim that the information was closely held national defense information, as required by the statutes.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: If Trump is charged, it should be for the worst of his crimes, Claire O. Finkelstein and Richard W. Painter, Aug. 14, 2022 (print ed.). ‘Seditious conspiracy’ and ‘insurrection’ are more fitting charges than ‘interfering with an official proceeding’ or ‘defrauding the U.S.’

Prosecuting a former president of the United States is a tricky business. It’s not like prosecuting Al Capone, the notorious gangster who was charged with tax evasion rather than the more fitting charges of murder and racketeering. A technical charge such as tax evasion may be suitable for obtaining the conviction of a mobster, but hardly sufficient for an occupant of the Oval Office who tried to overthrow the U.S. government.

Donald Trump has millions of supporters and the weight of precedent behind him. Of course Trump should face consequences for tax evasion if he merits it, but it is critical for public perception, for history — for the preservation of democracy — that if he is charged, it is first and foremost with the crimes that best reflect the gravity of the danger he posed to the country.

On Monday, the FBI searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida for any presidential records that may have been improperly removed from the White House. On Wednesday, Trump sat for a deposition in the New York attorney general’s office, which is conducting a civil investigation into his business practices. A federal indictment may or may not arise from these investigations, but it is Trump’s role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, that warrants the greatest scrutiny — and the gravest charges — from a Justice Department exercising its prosecutorial discretion under such historic circumstances.

The two most serious crimes for which Trump may stand accused, and which most clearly describe his conduct on Jan. 6 and in the weeks leading up to it, are insurrection and seditious conspiracy. If the facts and evidence support them, they are what Attorney General Merrick Garland should charge, whatever other charges he includes.

The significance of Jan. 6 shouldn’t be obscured by legalese before a public contending with the seduction of insurrectionist rhetoric. Charging Trump only with narrowly defined crimes could backfire, and Garland should resist, even if that’s what the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 ends up recommending.

At least until the surprise search at Mar-a-Lago, many commentators defended Garland’s seeming inaction with regard to the former president and his associates. Among other arguments, they suggested that seditious conspiracy would be particularly difficult to prosecute, given the need to prove intent.

Yet was Trump’s intent on and before Jan. 6 really so hard to discern? Would it be more difficult to prove the requisite state of mind for Trump than to prove the intent of Stewart Rhodes, Thomas Caldwell or Joseph Hackett, all members of the Oath Keepers who participated in the insurrection and whose indictments on charges of seditious conspiracy are premised on a pattern of conduct not unlike Trump’s? Rhodes, Caldwell, Hackett and others have been accused of conspiring “to oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power by force, by preventing, hindering, or delaying by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of power, including the Twelfth and Twentieth Amendments to the Constitution.”

Didn’t Trump do the same? And with the same intent or purpose?

Claire O. Finkelstein is a professor of law and philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is the faculty director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law; Richard W. Painter is a professor of law at the University of Minnesota and was the chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush.

Aug. 13

Palmer Report, Analysis: DOJ has Mar-a-Lago surveillance footage of Trump’s people moving boxes of classified evidence, Bill Palmer, Aug. 13, 2022. When the DOJ sent the FBI into Donald Trump’s home to take classified documents that Trump had stolen, it was a safe bet that the DOJ had all its ducks in a row. Merrick Garland’s DOJ has consistently shown itself to be overwhelmingly prepared in these situations, even if it doesn’t move as quickly as some observers would like.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, the unsealed search warrant, and the details that have surfaced in the media, are making it very clear that the Feds have Trump absolutely nailed. In fact, the DOJ has obtained surveillance footage showing that after it contacted Trump about the boxes of classified documents, someone at Mar-a-Lago began moving the boxes in and out of the storage room, per the New York Times.

Trump’s team is already trying to spin this in innocent fashion. But let’s be real here. If Trump were having his people pull the boxes out of storage so they could be returned, they would have been returned. But we know that many of the boxes were not returned, even as Trump claimed that he had returned all of the boxes, prompting the search warrant. So why were these boxes being moved around? Were Trump and Justice Department log circularhis people assessing the value of the classified documents, and deciding which ones to illegally keep?

In any case, this will go a very long way to proving the DOJ’s obstruction of justice case. When the Feds demand that you turn over evidence, and you respond by moving that evidence around and then falsely claiming you don’t have it, and there’s video footage proving that you moved the boxes around, you’re in deep legal trouble.

This also raises questions about who was moving the boxes around. We can’t imagine Donald Trump – elderly and in poor physical condition – was slinging dozens of boxes of documents around on his own. Whoever helped him move the boxes is a material witness if they didn’t know what was in the boxes, and a criminal co-conspirator if they did know what was in the boxes. And at least some of those people are on camera having moved those boxes. This just keeps getting uglier for Trump and his people.

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: What did Don plan to do with these secrets? Webster G. Tarpley, right, Ph.D., Aug. 13, 2022 (93:29 mins.). Eleven sets of classified webster tarpley 2007documents seized by FBI at Trump’s chateau include top secret/sensitive compartmented information (TS/SCI), with possible violations of Espionage Act and Atomic Energy Act; Garland shows signs of life.

Media exaggerate the rally round the Don effect among Republicans deriving from raid, with skepticism growing as his legal position deteriorated during the week;

Ill-considered ultra-left slogan of defunding the police was one of the most effective demagogic issues for GOP in November, but calls for violent attacks, defunding and breakup of the FBI for enforcing the law against Trump have completely thrown away that advantage; Republicans are left as the party of tax evaders and antinomians;

The mass psychology of fascist violence examined; Degenerate former party of law and order faces grim and lawless autumn, defeat at the hands of horrified voters;

Ukraine beginning offensive to capture Kherson; Russian air base in Novofedorivka in Crimea largely destroyed, leaving Putin’s Black Sea fleet without air cover; Biden sending another $1 billion in weaponry, especially HIMARS and possibly ATACMs;

GOP shows contempt for American people by rejecting $35 monthly maximum for insulin;

House passes Inflation Reduction Act, 220-207, with 15% minimum tax for large corporations, subsidy for nuclear power generation, lower prices for Medicare drugs, and maintenance of Obamacare subsidies; Trump Org CFO Alan Weisselberg will go on trial in Manhattan, suggesting that dormant criminal case against Donald may resume;

The great lesson of the American Civil War: Never again! Those who advocate domestic hostilities must be speedily crushed.

 

On May 3, 2020, at the opening of a Trump town hall event, Trump greeted Fox anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum by saying, “We never had a more beautiful set than this did we?” according to a transcript (Associated Press photo by Evan Vucci).

On May 3, 2020, at the opening of a Trump town hall event, Trump greeted Fox anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum by saying, “We never had a more beautiful set than this did we?” according to a transcript (Associated Press photo by Evan Vucci).

washington post logoWashington Post, Documents show how Trump landed Lincoln Memorial for Fox News event, Jonathan O'Connell, Aug. 13, 2022. President Donald Trump’s 2020 “town hall” was held inside the memorial, an area where events have long been barred by federal regulations.

In the spring of 2020, National Park Service personnel were preparing for an event President Donald Trump was holding with Fox News to address the nascent covid-19 pandemic from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, site of historic protests and inaugural concerts.

But, first, they had to brief Trump on the plans.

“As of now we’re looking at an event at base of Lincoln from 6-8 or so Sunday night. No event in chamber. I will see if that holds once POTUS is briefed later today,” Jeff Reinbold, the Park Service’s superintendent for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, wrote in an April 28, 2020, email to other agency officials.

By the next morning, the virtual “town hall” was no longer to be held at the base, the documents show. Trump’s two-hour sit-down with Fox News anchors would take place inside the memorial’s main chamber, on the landing in the shadow of the marble statue of a seated Lincoln. With the exception of an annual birthday tribute to Lincoln, federal regulations bar events from being held in that area.

The email is among hundreds of pages of newly released government documents that help fill in the picture of how officials from multiple government agencies worked to engineer the event at the Lincoln, one of the many norm-defying moments of the Trump presidency. They show that the Park Service provided security personnel at a cost of nearly $150,000 and that a U.S. Secret Service official apologized to colleagues for the planning process, calling it a “$#!t show.”

After the event, officials noted that the memorial itself — then 98 years old — had sustained scratches and gouges in its pink marble floor, according to a final memorandum.

In the end, the Trump-appointed interior secretary, David Bernhardt, relaxed the rules by finding that the venue was appropriate, given the president’s need to communicate with the American people during a “grave time of national crisis.” That finding has been previously reported.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice, a progressive group that acquired the documents through a public-records request, said she believes Bernhardt exceeded his authority and allowed Trump to use “the Lincoln Memorial as his stage set.”

“They’re trying to find a way, it looks like, to give him the chamber when there is no legal way to give him the chamber,” she said.

Verheyden-Hilliard’s group often litigates on behalf of those seeking access to public spaces, pressing the government to properly allow free-speech activities and protests along Pennsylvania Avenue and elsewhere.

On May 3, 2020, at the opening of the town hall, Trump greeted Fox anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum by saying, “We never had a more beautiful set than this did we?” according to a transcript.

The hosts asked about criticism that had already surfaced about the use of the memorial as the site for the event.

“What can you criticize? It’s — I don’t think it’s ever been done, what we’re doing tonight here,” Trump said. “And I think it’s great for the American people to see.”

ap logoAssociated Press, FBI seized top secret documents in Trump estate search, Michael Balsamo, Zeke Miller and EricTucker, Aug. 13, 2022. The FBI recovered “top secret” and even more sensitive documents from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, according to court papers released Friday after a federal judge unsealed the warrant that authorized the sudden, unprecedented search this week.

A property receipt unsealed by the court shows FBI agents took 11 sets of classified records from the estate during a search on Monday.

The seized records include some marked not only top secret but also “sensitive compartmented information,” a special category meant to protect the nation’s most important secrets that if revealed Justice Department log circularpublicly could cause “exceptionally grave” damage to U.S. interests. The court records did not provide specific details about information the documents might contain.

The warrant says federal agents were investigating potential violations of three different federal laws, including one that governs gathering, transmitting or losing defense information under the Espionage Act. The other statutes address the concealment, mutilation or removal of records and the destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations.

The property receipt also shows federal agents collected other potential presidential records, including the order pardoning Trump ally Roger Stone, a “leatherbound box of documents,” and information about the “President of France.” A binder of photos, a handwritten note, “miscellaneous secret documents” and “miscellaneous confidential documents” were also seized in the search.

Trump’s attorney, Christina Bobb, right, who was present at Mar-a-Lago when the agents conducted the search, signed two property receipts — one that was two pages long and christina bobb resizedanother that is a single page.

In a statement earlier Friday, Trump claimed that the documents seized by agents were “all declassified,” and argued that he would have turned them over if the Justice Department had asked.

While incumbent presidents generally have the power to declassify information, that authority lapses as soon as they leave office and it was not clear if the documents in question have ever been declassified. And even an incumbent’s powers to declassify may be limited regarding secrets dealing with nuclear weapons programs, covert operations and operatives, and some data shared with allies.

Trump kept possession of the documents despite multiple requests from agencies, including the National Archives, to turn over presidential records in accordance with federal law.

The Mar-a-Lago search warrant served Monday was part of an ongoing Justice Department investigation into the discovery of classified White House records recovered from Trump’s home earlier this year. The Archives had asked the department to investigate after saying 15 boxes of records it retrieved from the estate included classified records.

It remains unclear whether the Justice Department moved forward with the warrant simply as a means to retrieve the records or as part of a wider criminal investigation or attempt to prosecute the former president. Multiple federal laws govern the handling of classified information, bruce reinhart wikipediawith both criminal and civil penalties, as well as presidential records.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, right, the same judge who signed off on the search warrant, unsealed the warrant and property receipt Friday at the request of the Justice Department after Attorney General Merrick Garland declared there was “substantial public interest in this matter,” and Trump said he backed the warrant’s “immediate” release. The Justice Department told the judge Friday afternoon that Trump’s lawyers did not object to the proposal to make it public.

In messages posted on his Truth Social platform, Trump wrote, “Not only will I not oppose the release of documents ... I am going a step further by ENCOURAGING the immediate release of those documents.”

The Justice Department’s request was striking because such warrants traditionally remain sealed during a pending investigation. But the department appeared to recognize that its silence since the search had created a vacuum for bitter verbal attacks by Trump and his allies, and felt that the public was entitled to the FBI’s side about what prompted Monday’s action at the former president’s home.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Lawyer Told Justice Dept. That Classified Material Had Been Returned, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, Aug. 13, 2022. The lawyer signed a statement in June that all documents marked as classified and held in boxes in storage at Mar-a-Lago had been given back. The search at the former president’s home on Monday turned up more.

At least one lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump signed a written statement in June asserting that all material marked as classified and held in boxes in a storage area at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and club had been returned to the government, four people with knowledge of the document said.

The written declaration was made after a visit on June 3 to Mar-a-Lago by Jay I. Bratt, the top counterintelligence official in the Justice Department’s national security division.

The existence of the signed declaration, which has not previously been reported, is a possible indication that Mr. Trump or his team were not fully forthcoming with federal investigators about the material. And it could help explain why a potential violation of a criminal statute related to obstruction was cited by the department as one basis for seeking the warrant used to carry out the daylong search of the former president’s home on Monday, an extraordinary step that generated political shock waves.

It also helps to further explain the sequence of events that prompted the Justice Department’s decision to conduct the search after months in which it had tried to resolve the matter through discussions with Mr. Trump and his team.

An inventory of the material taken from Mr. Trump’s home that was released on Friday showed that F.B.I. agents seized 11 sets of documents during the search with some type of confidential or secret marking on them, including some marked as “classified/TS/SCI” — shorthand for “top secret/sensitive compartmented information.” Information categorized in that fashion is meant to be viewed only in a secure government facility.

The search encompassed not just the storage area where boxes of material known to the Justice Department were being held but also Mr. Trump’s office and residence. The search warrant and inventory unsealed on Friday did not specify where in the Mar-a-Lago complex the documents marked as classified were found.

Mr. Trump said on Friday that he had declassified all the material in his possession while he was still in office. He did not provide any documentation that he had done so.

In an appearance on Fox News on Friday night, the right-wing writer John Solomon, whom Mr. Trump has designated as one of his representatives to interact with the National Archives, read a statement from the former president’s office claiming that Mr. Trump had a “standing order” that documents taken out of the Oval Office and brought to the White House residence “were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them.”

A spokesman for the former president, Taylor Budowich, said on Saturday, “Just like every Democrat-fabricated witch hunt previously, the water of this unprecedented and unnecessary raid is being carried by a media willing to run with suggestive leaks, anonymous sources and no hard facts.”

The search warrant said F.B.I. agents were carrying out the search to look for evidence related to possible violations of the obstruction statute as well as the Espionage Act and a statute that bars the unlawful taking or destruction of government records or documents. No one has been charged in the case, and the search warrant on its own does not mean anyone will be.

Trump Lawyer Told Justice Dept. That Classified Material Had Been Returned

The lawyer signed a statement in June that all documents marked as classified and held in boxes in storage at Mar-a-Lago had been given back. The search at the former president’s home on Monday turned up more.

washington post logoWashington Post, Under fire, Homeland Security watchdog delays probe of Secret Service texts — with GOP help, Lisa Rein, Aug. 13, 2022 (print ed.). The White House has faced mounting questions about a decision by the Department of Homeland Security inspector general’s office to abandon attempts to recover missing Secret Service texts from Jan. 6, 2021. President Biden, in response, has signaled his intention to stay out of the process as an independent watchdog investigates the inspector general.

But Joseph V. Cuffari and his staff have refused to release certain documents and tried to block interviews, effectively delaying that probe, which has now stretched for more than 15 months and evolved into a wide-ranging inquiry into more than a dozen allegations of misconduct raised by whistleblowers and other sources, according to three people familiar with the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an open investigation.

us dhs big eagle logo4Some Republican senators have also raised stiff resistance to the investigation — which is being overseen by a panel of federal watchdogs from the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) — questioning the need for a full probe into the Trump administration appointee.

Led by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) the senators have demanded that investigators scale back records requests from Cuffari’s office and pressed them on their motives, according to congressional aides and documents.

joseph cuffariCuffari, left, and his staff have complained to the senators of a politically motivated fishing expedition designed to undermine him, according to sources familiar with the investigation and congressional aides. In a written response to questions from House lawmakers last summer, Cuffari said the probe “will destroy” his office. He accused investigators of “undermining my attempts to clean up DHS OIG.”

One person close to the process described a “war of attrition” between Cuffari and the panel known as the Integrity Committee that is overseeing the inquiry, undermining oversight designed to hold inspectors general to the same standards as the federal agency officials they monitor.

“Watchdogs need to be held to the highest standards if they are to be credible,” said Nick Schwellenbach, a senior investigator with the nonprofit Project On Government Oversight, which advocates for a stronger federal watchdog system and last week called on Biden to fire Cuffari. “There’s a pattern of Cuffari resisting the kind of oversight that other federal employees face.”

ny times logoNew York Times, A judge declined to throw out a tax evasion case against the Trump Organization and its longtime chief financial officer, Jonah E. Bromwich, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum and Lola Fadulu, Aug. 13, 2022 (print ed.). Allen H. Weisselberg, who was indicted last summer, and the Trump Organization are scheduled to stand trial in October.

A Manhattan state court judge on Friday declined to throw out the criminal case against Donald J. Trump’s family business and its longtime chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, right, clearing the way for a trial in the case scheduled for the fall.

allen weisselberg croppedMr. Weisselberg and the business, the Trump Organization, were charged last year by the Manhattan district attorney’s office with having engaged in a 15-year scheme in which executives were compensated with hidden benefits so that they could evade taxes. The charges stemmed from the office’s long-running investigation into the company’s business practices.

In February, Mr. Weisselberg and the company filed motions to dismiss the charges, arguing that the case was politically motivated and that the defendants were charged only because of their link with former president Donald J. Trump.

The decision marked the latest legal blow to Mr. Trump in a week full of them.

On Monday, the F.B.I. searched his Florida home in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation. And on Wednesday the former president invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in an interview with the New York state attorney general, which is conducting a civil inquiry into some of the same practices that are being examined by the Manhattan district attorney.

The judge, Juan Merchan, granted a significant victory to the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg. His prosecutors argued in May, in response to the motion to dismiss, that there was nothing extraordinary about the charges: Mr. Weisselberg had violated the law in failing to pay his taxes and was being prosecuted for it, they said.

Daily Beast, Ex-Trump Aide Sics MAGA Fans on Alleged FBI Agents’ Families, Zachary Petrizzo, Updated Aug. 13, 2022. Garrett Ziegler posted the personal info of purported FBI agents—along with links to one of their kids’ social media accounts.

daily beast logoJust hours after a list began circulating among right-wing media of FBI agents who signed off on the search warrant for Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, a former Trump aide tried to sic MAGA fans on the family members of the purported agents.

Garrett Ziegler, who recently went on a sexist tear against former White House colleagues, took to Telegram to post the personal information of men he identified as agents.

"This is one of the two feds who signed the ‘Receipt for Property’ form, which detailed—at a very high level—the fishing expedition that the FBI performed at Mar-a-Lago,” Ziegler said on both Truth Social and Telegram.

The former Trump administration staffer that worked under White House trade adviser Peter Navarro further listed out the FBI agents’ date of birth, work emails and linked to alleged family members’ social media accounts.

“Hope he doesn’t get a good night’s sleep for the rest of 2022,” Ziegler wrote on Truth Social, responding to another Truth Social user’s photos of one of the alleged FBI officials who signed off on the inventory receipts on the warrant.

The inventory receipt section of the warrant was additionally signed by Trump lawyer Christina Bobb and listed out what the FBI had taken from Trump’s home.

The FBI declined to comment on this story when reached by The Daily Beast.

Shortly after Ziegler had posted what he believed to be the first FBI agent’s information to Truth Social, it was taken down.

“[Truth Social] Just took down the post for ZERO reason,” he said. “Didn’t violate 18 USC 119 or anything else.” (A Truth Social spokesperson didn’t return The Daily Beast’s request for comment.)

Speaking on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, Ziegler doubled down on his posting of information he claims to be that of the agents.

“We have to have faces,” he said. “There are people ruining America, and they have names, and emails, and addresses.”

Multiple attempts to reach Ziegler for comment were unsuccessful on Friday night.

The targeting by a former Trump administration aide follows CNN reporting that the FBI now faces “unprecedented” newfound threats against their agency.

“We work closely with our law enforcement partners to assess and respond to such threats, which are reprehensible and dangerous,” the FBI told CNN in a statement. “As always, we would like to remind members of the public that if they observe anything suspicious to report it to law enforcement immediately.”

It all comes as right-wing media has encouraged a protest to occur in front of the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. Sunday, and continued calls for a civil war ring out from right-wing users on social media.

washington post logoWashington Post, FBI attacker was prolific contributor to Trump’s Truth Social website, Drew Harwell and Meryl Kornfield, Aug. 13, 2022 (print ed.). Civil war and violence in support of the former president were frequent topics on an account opened in April and bearing the shooter’s name and photo.

In the minutes after an armed man in body armor tried to breach an FBI field office in Cincinnati, an account with the suspect’s name, Ricky Shiffer, posted to former president Donald Trump’s social network, Truth Social: “If you don’t hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the F.B.I.”

The Shiffer account appeared to be one of Truth Social’s most prolific posters, writing 374 messages there in the past eight days — mostly to echo Trump’s lies about election fraud and, in the hours after FBI agents searched Trump’s Florida home, calling for all-out war. “Be ready to kill the enemy,” Shiffer had posted on Tuesday. “Kill [the FBI] on sight.”

ricky shifferShiffer, left, was killed Thursday in a shootout, police said, and the Truth Social account has since been taken down. But the calls for pro-Trump violence are still a common presence online — including on Truth Social, where the top “trending topics” Friday morning were “#FBIcorruption” and “DefundTheFBI.”

Truth Social’s parent company, Trump Media & Technology Group, did not respond to requests for comment.

The Cincinnati shooting offers a glimpse at the real-world dangers of constant attacks from Trump and allied Republicans against federal officials in the days since FBI agents searched Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach estate and the center of his post-presidential operations.

It also showcased how such violent anger could be encouraged in plain sight in loosely moderated online refuges like Truth Social, where Trump supporters frequently tear down perceived enemies and call for civil war.

Gunman ID’d in FBI field office attack, but motive remains unresolved

Trump has repeatedly attacked the FBI and Justice Department officials in public messages, including on Truth Social, where he told his more than 3 million followers Thursday that the Mar-a-Lago search was “a surprise attack, POLITICS, and all the while our Country is going to HELL!”

People familiar with the investigation told The Washington Post that the FBI had searched the home while seeking classified documents relating to nuclear weapons that could pose a grave harm to national security.

A Twitter account with Shiffer’s name included many messages mimicking Trump’s false claims of a stolen election. But a review of his social media accounts show Shiffer was most active recently on Truth Social, the Twitter clone Trump created after most social networks blocked him in the aftermath of the U.S. Capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021. In April, Shiffer tweeted at Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., that he had just opened his account there, adding, “I’m just waiting for your Dad.”

Authorities declined to comment on whether Shiffer was connected to Truth Social and Twitter accounts, but both featured his name, photo and general location and had been active before the shooting.

A law enforcement official familiar with the investigation told The Post that agents are investigating Shiffer’s possible ties to extremist groups, including the Proud Boys — a far-right group whose leaders are accused of helping launch the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

On Aug. 5, he posted, “This country has never had a worse enemy. 1776 was for far less, even World War II was for less.” That day, he also wrote, “Save ammunition and be ready and willing to hit the road as soon as you hear it has started. Someone who wanted to be a hero could not have lived in a better time period.” The post was ‘liked’ 24 times.

Shiffer’s posts appeared to regard the Mar-a-Lago search as a triggering event. On Aug. 8, the day of the search, he posted, “People, this is it. … This is your call to arms from me. Leave work tomorrow as soon as the gun shop … opens, get whatever you need to be ready for combat. We must not tolerate this once.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Gunman in FBI attack was Navy veteran who had served on submarine, Alex Horton, Annie Gowen, Derek Hawkins and James Bikales, Aug. 13, 2022 (print ed.). The Navy veteran who tried to breach the FBI’s Cincinnati field office Thursday once handled highly classified material years ago while posted on an attack submarine, but had been on the bureau’s radar for months for possible extremist behavior, authorities said Friday.

FBI logoRicky Shiffer, 42, was fatally shot by police Thursday after leading officers on a chase that led to a six-hour standoff on a rural road, the Ohio State Highway Patrol said — an incident that rang alarm bells as threats of violence against the FBI from far-right factions have increased in recent days online.

Federal authorities said they had been trying to determine whether he had participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol after he posted on Twitter that “I was there” in reply to a photograph showing rioters scaling the building’s walls, a law enforcement official said.

World Crisis Radio, Commentary: What did Don plan to do with these secrets? Webster G. Tarpley, right, Ph.D., Aug. 13, 2022 (93:29 mins.). Eleven sets of classified webster tarpley 2007documents seized by FBI at Trump’s chateau include top secret/sensitive compartmented information (TS/SCI), with possible violations of Espionage Act and Atomic Energy Act; Garland shows signs of life.

Media exaggerate the rally round the Don effect among Republicans deriving from raid, with skepticism growing as his legal position deteriorated during the week;

Ill-considered ultra-left slogan of defunding the police was one of the most effective demagogic issues for GOP in November, but calls for violent attacks, defunding and breakup of the FBI for enforcing the law against Trump have completely thrown away that advantage; Republicans are left as the party of tax evaders and antinomians;

The mass psychology of fascist violence examined; Degenerate former party of law and order faces grim and lawless autumn, defeat at the hands of horrified voters;

Ukraine beginning offensive to capture Kherson; Russian air base in Novofedorivka in Crimea largely destroyed, leaving Putin’s Black Sea fleet without air cover; Biden sending another $1 billion in weaponry, especially HIMARS and possibly ATACMs;

GOP shows contempt for American people by rejecting $35 monthly maximum for insulin;

House passes Inflation Reduction Act, 220-207, with 15% minimum tax for large corporations, subsidy for nuclear power generation, lower prices for Medicare drugs, and maintenance of Obamacare subsidies; Trump Org CFO Alan Weisselberg will go on trial in Manhattan, suggesting that dormant criminal case against Donald may resume;

The great lesson of the American Civil War: Never again! Those who advocate domestic hostilities must be speedily crushed.

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Opinion: Republicans who chanted 'Lock her up!' cry that the DOJ is being too political, Michael A. Cohen, Aug. 13, 2022. Trump suggested his Department of Justice investigate more than two dozen people he considered opponents.

Since the FBI executed a legally obtained search warrant on the home of former President Donald Trump Monday, there’s been an apparent race by the former president’s supporters to determine, as far as I can see, who can make the most irresponsible statement defending him.

There's been an apparent race by the former president’s supporters to determine who can make the most irresponsible statement defending him.

Without evidence, Trump’s supporters have accused the leadership of the Justice Department and FBI of engaging in a political vendetta against Trump and planting incriminating evidence at his home. They’ve called for defunding the FBI, impeaching Attorney General Merrick Garland and used inflammatory language, such as suggesting that the search was an act of “war” against Trump.

But the words of Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., are perhaps the most chilling:

“If the FBI can raid a U.S. President, imagine what they can do to you.”

On the surface, this might sound anodyne. But the implications of what Stefanik is suggesting are frightening: Anybody who is or has been president of the United States should never be investigated for a crime.

The fact that a former president is no less immune from prosecution than any other resident is not a bug of American democracy, it’s one of its greatest features. It means that all Americans, no matter their station, are equal under the law. But for Stefanik, it appears treating the president as if he’s no different from an ordinary citizen is a bridge too far.

msnbc logo CustomMSNBC, Commentary: Attorney Shoots Down Trump’s ‘Insane’ New Document Defense, Lawrence O’Donnell, Aug. 13, 2022 (7:31 mins.), 
MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell speaks to Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. Solicitor General, Andrew Weissmann, former FBI General Counsel, and Bradley Moss, a national security attorney, about what we can learn from the newly released Trump search warrant and why Donald Trump’s newest explanation for the classified documents found at Mar-A-Lago makes no sense.

 

Then President Barack Obama, right, meets with Vice President Biden and other members of his National Security staff in a meeting on Aug. 30, 2013 (White House Photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, National Archives counters Trump’s baseless claims about Obama records, John Wagner, Aug. 13, 2022 (print ed.). The National Archives and Records Administration issued a statement Friday in an attempt to counter misstatements about former president Barack Obama’s presidential records after several days of misinformation that had been spread by former president Donald Trump and conservative commentators.

nara logoSince the FBI search of his Florida home and club this week for classified documents, Trump has asserted in social media posts that Obama “kept 33 million pages of documents, much of them classified” and that they were “taken to Chicago by President Obama.”

In its statement, NARA said that it obtained “exclusive legal and physical custody” of Obama’s records when he left office in 2017. It said that about 30 million pages of unclassified records were transferred to a NARA facility in the Chicago area and that they continue to be maintained “exclusively by NARA.”

Classified records from Obama are kept in a NARA facility in Washington, the statement said.

“As required by the [Presidential Records Act], former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the Presidential records of his Administration,” the statement said.

Despite the official statement, Trump continued to peddle his false claims in light of The Washington Post report that classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items FBI agents sought in a search of Trump’s Florida residence Monday, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Within minutes of the statement from the Archives, Trump again pushed his evidence-free claim in response to the latest reports, saying, “What are they going to do with the 33 million pages of documents, many of which are classified, that President Obama took to Chicago?”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Republicans went crazy over the Trump search. Now they look idiotic, Max Boot, right, Aug. 12, 2022. The more we learn max boot screen shotabout the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, the sillier — and more sinister — the overcaffeinated Republican defenses of former president Donald Trump look.

A genius-level spinmeister, Trump set the tone with a Monday evening statement announcing: “These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents. Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before.”
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That description allowed his followers to imagine a scene straight out of a Hollywood action picture, with agents in FBI jackets busting down the doors and holding the former president and first lady at gunpoint while they ransacked the premises. Although Trump’s team had a copy of the search warrant, he gave no hint of why the FBI might have been there, claiming, “It is … an attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024.”

His followers — which means pretty much the whole of the Republican Party — took up the cry based on no more information than that. Fox News host Mark Levin called the search “the worst attack on this republic in modern history, period.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) called it “corrupt & an abuse of power.” Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) compared the FBI to “the Gestapo.” Not to be outdone, former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Whackadoodle) said the FBI was the “American Stasi,” and compared its agents to wolves “who want to eat you.” “Today is war,” declared Steven Crowder, a podcaster with a YouTube audience of 5.6 million people. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) tweeted “DEFUND THE FBI!” Former Trump aide Stephen K. Bannon, among many others, suggested that the FBI and the Justice Department (“essentially lawless criminal organizations”) might have planted evidence.

Politico, GOP contorts itself in defense of Trump as new FBI search details emerge, Andrew Desiderio, Aug. 12-13, 2022. Republicans who days ago united in preemptive defense of Donald Trump are struggling to stay on the same page following new questions about documents that the former president was holding at his Florida residence.

republican elephant logoThe FBI’s daylong search at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate this week, personally approved by Attorney General Merrick Garland, sparked near-universal GOP outrage and allegations of a politicized Justice Department. In the wake of reports that the search was tied to concerns Trump may have improperly taken highly classified White House documents related to nuclear weapons and so-called special access operations, however, Republicans are politically diverging.

Some Republicans are leaving open the possibility that former President Donald Trump acted inappropriately.

brought to a hospital with lesions across his face and limbs ― a suspected case of chickenpox.

 

On May 3, 2020, at the opening of a Trump town hall event, Trump greeted Fox anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum by saying, “We never had a more beautiful set than this did we?” according to a transcript (Associated Press photo by Evan Vucci).

On May 3, 2020, at the opening of a Trump town hall event, Trump greeted Fox anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum by saying, “We never had a more beautiful set than this did we?” according to a transcript (Associated Press photo by Evan Vucci).

washington post logoWashington Post, Documents show how Trump landed Lincoln Memorial for Fox News event, Jonathan O'Connell, Aug. 13, 2022. President Donald Trump’s 2020 “town hall” was held inside the memorial, an area where events have long been barred by federal regulations.

In the spring of 2020, National Park Service personnel were preparing for an event President Donald Trump was holding with Fox News to address the nascent covid-19 pandemic from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, site of historic protests and inaugural concerts.

But, first, they had to brief Trump on the plans.

“As of now we’re looking at an event at base of Lincoln from 6-8 or so Sunday night. No event in chamber. I will see if that holds once POTUS is briefed later today,” Jeff Reinbold, the Park Service’s superintendent for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, wrote in an April 28, 2020, email to other agency officials.

By the next morning, the virtual “town hall” was no longer to be held at the base, the documents show. Trump’s two-hour sit-down with Fox News anchors would take place inside the memorial’s main chamber, on the landing in the shadow of the marble statue of a seated Lincoln. With the exception of an annual birthday tribute to Lincoln, federal regulations bar events from being held in that area.

The email is among hundreds of pages of newly released government documents that help fill in the picture of how officials from multiple government agencies worked to engineer the event at the Lincoln, one of the many norm-defying moments of the Trump presidency. They show that the Park Service provided security personnel at a cost of nearly $150,000 and that a U.S. Secret Service official apologized to colleagues for the planning process, calling it a “$#!t show.”

After the event, officials noted that the memorial itself — then 98 years old — had sustained scratches and gouges in its pink marble floor, according to a final memorandum.

In the end, the Trump-appointed interior secretary, David Bernhardt, relaxed the rules by finding that the venue was appropriate, given the president’s need to communicate with the American people during a “grave time of national crisis.” That finding has been previously reported.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice, a progressive group that acquired the documents through a public-records request, said she believes Bernhardt exceeded his authority and allowed Trump to use “the Lincoln Memorial as his stage set.”

“They’re trying to find a way, it looks like, to give him the chamber when there is no legal way to give him the chamber,” she said.

Verheyden-Hilliard’s group often litigates on behalf of those seeking access to public spaces, pressing the government to properly allow free-speech activities and protests along Pennsylvania Avenue and elsewhere.

On May 3, 2020, at the opening of the town hall, Trump greeted Fox anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum by saying, “We never had a more beautiful set than this did we?” according to a transcript.

The hosts asked about criticism that had already surfaced about the use of the memorial as the site for the event.

“What can you criticize? It’s — I don’t think it’s ever been done, what we’re doing tonight here,” Trump said. “And I think it’s great for the American people to see.”

Aug. 12

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative Commentary: Trump's infamous predecessors in the world of misuse and theft of classified intelligence, Wayne wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallMadsen, left, author of 22 books and former Navy intelligence officer and NSA analyst, Aug. 12-13, 2022.

Donald Trump is not the first scoundrel who decided to either monetize or gain favor with a foreign hostile power by unlawfully stealing or disclosing classified information.

From the archives of the Directorate of National Intelligence, these are some of the men and women who are recorded in the official record of infamous spies and traitors. Donald John Trump, the 45th president of the United States and the most senior wayne madesen report logolevel U.S. government employee to have been implicated in a compromise of classified national security information, may soon join this list of America's most disloyal citizens.

[WMR's survey is shown here of nearly a score of espionage cases of U.S. military and law enforcement personnel, some high-ranking in the CIA, FBI or Navy intelligence, who were convicted of transferring secrets to foreign powers.]

When thinking about the espionage committed by an entire family, ponder for a moment the charges about ties to foreign intelligence agencies that have been leveled in the press about the Trump family, including Jared Kushner, as well as the Michael Flynn family.

During the 1980s, this editor, while a U.S. Naval Officer assigned to various Navy commands in Washington, as well as NSA, was closely involved in the damage assessments on the Pollard, Walker [Michael Pollard, John Anthony Walker and his son Michael Lance Walker], and other espionage cases in what became known as the "Decade of the Spies."

Trump commuted Pollard's life imprisonment sentence. Pollard now lives in Israel, which granted him citizenship while he was still in federal prison.

These cases involving U.S. intelligence and law enforcement personnel stealing classified material, in some cases huge amounts of it, are merely the tip of the iceberg.

There were many others, FBI counterintelligence official Robert Hanssen and NSA employee Ronald Pelton being among them. Yet, these individuals, although they did great damage by providing intelligence to foreign powers on what they were able to obtain, with security constraints like compartmentalization preventing them from "selling the entire store," were in no position to carry out the degree of harm potentially done by Trump and his aides, two of which have been identified as Kashyap Patel and journalist John Solomon.

Presidents generally have access to everything in the U.S. intelligence holdings -- everything! If Trump has been selling the entire store, his punishment should be commensurate with the crimes.

Aug. 11

 

merrick garland new

ny times logoNew York Times, Garland Moves to Unseal Warrant Used in Trump Search, Glenn Thrush and Charles Savage, Aug. 11, 2022. Says He Personally Signed Off on Decision to Search Mar-a-Lago. Attorney General Merrick Garland described the F.B.I.’s search for files at former President Trump’s Florida home and said he would unseal the warrant. Mr. Garland’s public appearance is an extraordinary moment, as the Justice Department’s inquiry into Mr. Trump gains momentum. Here’s the latest.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on Thursday moved to unseal the search warrant used in the search of former President Donald J. Trump’s residence in Mar-a-Lago and said he personally approved of the decision to execute the warrant.

Mr. Garland, who declined to comment on the warrant until he addressed the media at the department’s headquarters, said he decided to go public with his actions because Mr. Trump had already confirmed the action and because doing so would serve the “public interest.”

Mr. Garland’s decision to make a public appearance came at an extraordinary moment in the department’s 152-year history, as the sprawling investigation of a former president who remains a powerful political force gains momentum, with prosecutors from an array of the department’s divisions and regional offices taking new actions, seemingly every day.

Mr. Garland, a laconic former judge, had come under increasing pressure this week to provide more public information about why the Justice Department decided that a search was necessary and who approved it — or at least to offer an explanation of the legal processes undertaken by his subordinates.

Mr. Trump’s aides and allies have questioned why a search was necessary, saying the former president was cooperating with requests to return the materials he had taken with him when he left the White House. Several prominent Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence, had called upon Mr. Garland to offer an explanation of his actions.

The Justice Department has provided no information about the precise nature of the material it has been seeking to recover but has signaled that it involved classified information of a sensitive nature.

A White House official said President Biden had not been given any advance notice of Mr. Garland’s remarks.

The search at Mr. Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Florida, added an explosive new dimension to the array of investigations into Mr. Trump, including separate inquiries by the Justice Department into his efforts to remain in office despite his loss at the polls in 2020.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when he was questioned by New York’s attorney general in a civil case about his business practices.

A senior White House official said that neither President Biden, nor any of his top staff, were given advance notice of the attorney general’s remarks and learned about it through the media.

The Justice Department is not asking the judge to unseal the affidavit investigators filed along with their request for the search warrant. That affidavit would explain what they were investigating and what evidence they had assembled to date in support of the idea that they would find more evidence if the search warrant were granted. So even if a judge granted the department's request, the public would not see the most important legal document associated with it.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Was Subpoenaed for Documents Months Before F.B.I. Searched His Home, Maggie Haberman, Ben Protess and Glenn Thrush, Aug. 11, 2022. The Justice Department subpoenaed Donald Trump this spring for documents that officials believed he improperly took after leaving of