Whether he sold them or not, those documents were accessible to anyone who visited Maralago. Whether he sold it or just bragged about it, that’s classified and secret info possibly going to people who could threaten or harm the country.
Donald Trump “has to” announce a campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 in the next two weeks, a senior Trumpworld source said, if the former president wants to head off being indicted under the Espionage Act after the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago last week.
In messages obtained by the Guardian, the source indicated Trump needed to announce because politically it would be harder for the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to indict a candidate for office than a former president out of the electoral running.
politically it would be harder for the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to indict a candidate for office than a former president out of the electoral running.
Today, President Joe Biden congratulated the people of India on their 75th anniversary of independence, calling out the relationship between “our great democracies” and “our shared commitment to the rule of law and the promotion of human freedom and dignity.”
Yesterday, he lamented the recent knife attack on writer Salman Rushdie, calling out Rushdie’s “insight into humanity,…his unmatched sense for story,…his refusal to be intimidated or silenced,” and his support “for essential, universal ideals. Truth. Courage. Resilience. The ability to share ideas without fear. These are the building blocks of any free and open society. And today, we reaffirm our commitment to those deeply American values in solidarity with Rushdie and all those who stand for freedom of expression.”
But the news today is full not of the defense of democracy, but of those trying to overthrow it.
Emma Brown, Jon Swaine, Aaron C. Davis, and Amy Gardner of the Washington Post broke the story that after the 2020 election, as part of the effort to overturn the results, Trump’s lawyers paid computer experts to copy data from election systems in Georgia. The breach was successful and significant, although authorities maintain the machines can be secured before the next election. Led by Trump ally Sidney Powell, the group also sought security data from Michigan and Nevada, although the extent of the breaches there is unclear. They also appear to have worked on getting information from Arizona.
Georgia prosecutors have told Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani that he is a target in the criminal investigation of the attempt to alter the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia, letting him know it is possible he will be indicted.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has tried to quash a subpoena requiring his testimony before a Fulton County grand jury investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia, but today a federal judge, U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May, said he must testify. She said that “the District Attorney’s office 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 2020 elections.’”
And yet, the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election is still spreading. Amy Gardner in the Washington Post reports that 54 out of 87 Republican nominees in the states that were battlegrounds in 2020 are election deniers. Had they held power in 2020, they could have overturned the votes for Biden and given the election to Trump. In the 41 states that have already winnowed their candidates, more than half the Republicans—250 candidates in 469 contests—claim to believe the lie that Trump won in 2020.
In the issue of Trump’s theft of classified documents from the National Archives and Records Administration when he left office, over the weekend, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush reported in the New York Times that last June, one of Trump’s lawyers signed a statement saying that all classified documents that had made it to Mar-a-Lago had been given back to the National Archives and Records Administration. But, of course, the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago last Monday revealed that assertion to be incorrect.
The statement was made after Jay I. Bratt, the Justice Department’s top counterintelligence officer, visited Mar-a-Lago on June 3. The House and Senate intelligence committees have asked Director of National Intelligence Avril D. Haines to provide the committees with a damage assessment of how badly Trump’s retention of top secret classified documents in an insecure location has damaged national security.
Today, the Department of Justice has asked a judge not to unseal the affidavit behind the search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, saying that it “implicates highly classified materials,” and that disclosing the affidavit right now would "cause significant and irreparable damage to this ongoing criminal investigation." CNN, the Washington Post, NBC News, and Scripps all asked the judge to unseal all documents related to the Mar-a-Lago search. But, “if disclosed,” the Justice Department wrote, “the affidavit would serve as a roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course, in a manner that is highly likely to compromise future investigative steps.”
Legal analyst and Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe commented: “This suggests [the Department of Justice] wasn’t just repatriating top secret doc[ument]s to get them out of Trump’s unsafe clutches but is pursuing a path looking toward criminal indictment.”
The term has been widely applied by pro-Trump writers to critics of Trump, accusing them of responding negatively to a wide range of Trump's statements and actions.
The use of the term has been called part of a broader GOP strategy to discredit criticisms of Trump's actions, as a way of "reframing" the discussion by suggesting his political opponents are incapable of accurately perceiving the world. However, according to Kathleen Hall Jamieson of Annenberg Public Policy Center, the term could backfire on Trump supporters because people might interpret it to mean that Trump is the one who is "deranged", rather than those who criticize him.
Trump Steamrolls His Way Past Accountability. The Mar-a-Lago Search Might Be Different.
At 9 a.m. on Monday, August 8, FBI agents in unmarked cars and clothing executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, the residence and private club of former president Donald Trump. The press had not been alerted, and there was no news coverage. But hours after the agents left with about a dozen boxes said to contain highly sensitive classified government documents, Donald Trump himself made the stunning announcement.
In a statement posted on Truth Social, he called the search a Democratic “witch hunt,” “a weaponization of the Justice System” and “an attack by Radical Left Democrats,” and presented himself as the victim of “prosecutorial misconduct” and “lawlessness.” Although he was legally allowed to show the warrant and a list of the items taken, he did not do so, leaving his followers to fill in the details from their imaginations.
It was vintage Trump: Get out in front, ignore inconvenient facts, distort and deflect. Political oddsmakers began calculating whether this attack-the-attacker, shock-and-awe strategy would let him escape unscathed from yet another crisis. It’s too soon to know, but a look at how well it has functioned in the past provides useful clues. And there’s reason to believe this time might actually be different.
Trump premiered this signature M.O. in 1973, when the Justice Department sued the Trump Organization for racial discrimination. He retaliated with a press conference and a $100 million countersuit for defamation. The headline-grabbing move catapulted him into the public eye. Few noticed when the judge tossed Trump’s suit as “a waste of time.” Fewer noticed the endless delaying tactics used by Trump’s lawyer, Roy Cohn, to achieve a settlement in the original case that amounted to little more than a slap on the wrist.
Trump trotted out the same strategy again in 1980, when he was razing the old department store building that stood on the future site of Trump Tower and jackhammered a pair of much-admired art deco bas reliefs that had been promised to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After the New York Times ran a front-page story about the destruction of artworks estimated to be worth $200,000, a man who identified himself as a Trump Organization vice-president named John Barron — but who sounded exactly like Trump — phoned reporters and said the art was worthless. Later, Trump, as Trump, called the sculptures junk and said he’d demolished them to protect pedestrians from falling debris. As before, public attention faded, and when Trump Tower opened four years later, the New York Times architecture critic gave it a rave review.
The next year, Trump bought an apartment building on Central Park South, intending to tear it down and build a luxury hotel and shopping arcade. When the occupants complained that he was pressuring them to move, he attacked the attackers, calling reporters and claiming that the tenants didn’t qualify for New York’s various rent regulations. When they provided documentation, he filed eviction lawsuits and made what he called “a generous offer” — tenants termed it a threat — to turn empty units into homeless shelters. And when the tenants sued and press coverage of Trump’s actions turned hostile, he did an about-face and announced that he would leave the building as it was, but only because changes in market conditions meant he’d make more through renovation than demolition. It had, he insisted, been a savvy business move, not a defeat.
By 1990, he owed creditors almost a billion dollars, but the same well-honed strategy worked its magic once again. The problem, he said in interview after interview, wasn’t that he’d overspent but that the banks had overlent — and the banks, unwilling to risk losing the Trump name on mortgaged properties, rolled over, lowering their interest rates and extending payment deadlines. In August, when the New Jersey Casino Control Commission met with him to decide whether he was financially stable enough to keep his casino license, he told the reporters and TV cameras outside the hearing room that he was “in really good shape” and any financial problems were due not to anything he’d done but to the invasion of Kuwait by “that madman” Saddam Hussein; four days later, the commission voted to let him stay. In December, Marine Midland Bank foreclosed on two unfinished condo buildings in West Palm Beach that he’d bought and renamed Trump Plaza of the Palm Beaches, and he was forced to hold a public auction. For anyone else, it might have been a moment to avoid the limelight, but Trump sent out elaborate invitations and staged the event at a prestigious Palm Beach hotel. After local high-school cheerleaders held an opening pep rally, Trump stood at the back of an enormous ballroom smiling and chatting up prospects with an enthusiastic spiel about the great deals they could snap up.
Trump soon learned that his flim-flam in business also worked in politics, particularly in a changing media environment. In the 2000s, the explosive growth of cable talk shows and online media meant that he could get his version of events to the public without the help of the mainstream press; all he had to do was call into a broadcast or post a message. In 2011 he went after Barack Obama with endless cable interviews and Facebook posts demanding that he produce his birth certificate; in 2016, he posted and tweeted nonstop about Hillary Clinton’s emails and, after the Access Hollywood tape in which he bragged about getting away with sexual misconduct was leaked, he used his online megaphone to hurl accusations of sexual misconduct against her husband, Bill Clinton.
Once again, the Trump M.O. worked, and for the next four years he sat in the Oval Office, dodging and weaving his way past all manner of accusations, including two impeachments. It’s the same approach he used after he fell short on Election Night in 2020, insisting that he had won and that fraud on behalf of the Democrats had been rampant — despite having absolutely zero evidence.
Then on Monday, August 8, things shifted. Trump was no longer president, he no longer had dozens of accomplished attorneys at his disposal and he no longer controlled the narrative. The January 6 committee had made inroads into public opinion; multiple investigations into his business and his time in office had been launched; and the federal archives, which administers the document retention regulations he’d blatantly ignored, wouldn’t stop pestering him.
He was being squeezed, and he responded as he had so many times in the past, going full Trump with the Truth Social post about the search. At first, his allies rallied to him. Scores of GOP politicians expressed outrage, far-right websites called for revenge and armed violence, everyone shoved out fundraising appeals tied to the search — and Fox News slimed the judge who had signed off on the warrant by showing a photoshopped image of him with convicted sex offender Ghislaine Maxwell.
But Trump was now operating from a vantage point he loathes: one of weakness.
Soon he found himself in New York for a long-delayed deposition in a financial fraud investigation. While president, he had managed to limit his involvement in legal proceedings to providing written answers to questions; two days after the FBI search, he was sitting in front of New York State Attorney General Letitia James and doing something he’d previously mocked as the province of the guilty: answering every question except his name by pleading the Fifth Amendment.
The next day, Attorney General Merrick Garland addressed the public, speaking in a careful, even-handed tone. He said that he had authorized the operation himself, and that in light of what he called “substantial public interest in the matter,” he was filing the paperwork to release the warrant and the property receipt — but Trump was entitled to file an objection. He was calling Trump’s bluff, and everyone knew it.
Trump may yet manage to wriggle away from all the charges being hurled at him and eventually make it back into the Oval Office; after all, a search warrant is not the same as an indictment, and his followers are not likely to disavow him. But it didn’t help his case when on the same day that Garland spoke, a man linked to a Truth Media account condemning the FBI attacked a Cincinnati bureau office with an AR-15 rifle and a nail gun. (The man was killed by state police after a high-speed car chase.) Nor did it help when Garland released portions of the warrant and the press saw that Trump was also under investigation for obstruction of justice and violation of the Espionage Act and that anything from nuclear weapons to foreign intelligence might be in play. And it especially didn’t help that all this was unfolding as Biden, having signed into law three ground-breaking bills — the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the PACT Act — was having his best week in years.
For perhaps the first time in Trump’s entire career, the M.O. that had served him so well seemed to be losing its magic. Maybe not for good, perhaps not even for long. The question now is whether it can save his ass yet again.
I wouldn’t bet on it.
President Biden on Tuesday signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, an ambitious measure that aims to tamp down on inflation, lower prescription drug prices, tackle climate change, reduce the deficit and impose a minimum tax on profits of the largest corporations.
At a bill signing ceremony in the State Dining Room of the White House, Biden praised the legislation as among the most significant measures in the history of the country.
The House passed the bill Friday in a 220-207 vote, days after the Senate narrowly passed it on a party-line vote, with Vice President Harris serving as the tiebreaker. The bill’s passage marked one of the most successful legislative efforts by congressional Democrats this session, ahead of contentious midterm elections — and also one that seemed increasingly unlikely for about a year and a half.
At a bill enrollment ceremony for the Inflation Reduction Act on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called it “a glorious day” and noted the bill’s passage was coming on the heels of Biden signing several other key pieces of legislation into law, including one aimed at expanding aid to veterans exposed to toxic burn pits during their military service. She also criticized Republicans for uniting in opposition to the bill and said Democrats would continue to fight for provisions that had been dropped as a compromise, such as Medicare expansion and free universal prekindergarten.
This afternoon, President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. Almost immediately, it will produce results. A 30% tax credit for energy-efficient windows, heat pumps, or newer models of appliances will lower people’s energy costs; the cost of drugs will be capped at $2,000 per year for people on Medicare; and health care premiums will fall for certain Americans. In the longer term, it will be easier for the country to switch to renewable energy, and wealthy Americans and corporations will bear more of the tax burden than they have paid since the 2017 Trump tax cuts.
“The Inflation Reduction Act is now law,” Biden tweeted, “Giving Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. Ensuring wealthy corporations pay their fair share in taxes. And taking the biggest step forward on climate in our history.”
“This is a BFD,” former President Barack Obama tweeted.
“Thanks, Obama,” Biden responded.
They can be forgiven their irreverence because this act is indeed a big deal. It is an astonishing cap to the legislation the Democrats have passed with their squeaky thin majority in Congress. They have passed the American Rescue Plan, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and now this, the Inflation Reduction Act.
Since President Ronald Reagan told Americans, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,” Republicans have focused on proving that private enterprise is more efficient than government at providing the things Americans need. That argument has depended on preventing the government from legislating or addressing the things that people care about.
In his year and a half in office, Biden has demonstrated the opposite: that government can work. The measures that Democrats, and those Republicans who are willing to work across the aisle, have passed are enormously popular: lower medical costs, including a provision finalized today for over-the-counter hearing aids; bridge repair; broadband access; and investment in science.
“I feel like the media is having a hard time metabolizing the fact that this congress has been historically productive,” Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) mused. “And acknowledging the size of these accomplishments, and the degree of difficulty,—it’s just hard to do accurately without sounding a bit left leaning.”
Democrats are demonstrating that the government is working, but for their ideology to make sense, the current-day Republican Party needs chaos. Chaos is what it is currently delivering.
Trump has continued to throw out more excuses for his theft of classified documents, recently suggesting his former chief of staff Mark Meadows is at fault for failing to organize a system to send documents to the National Archives and Records Administration and then suggesting that he had withheld the documents because he didn’t trust the “partisan Democrat appointees” who were “releasing thousands of his White House documents to the January 6 Committee in spite of his lawyers’ claims of executive privilege.”
Maggie Haberman at the New York Times broke the news today that Trump’s White House counsel and deputy White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone and Patrick F. Philbin, have talked to the FBI in the last few months about the stolen documents. According to two witnesses, when Philbin tried to get him to return documents to the National Archives and Records Administration, Trump said, “It’s not theirs, it’s mine.”
Josh Campbell, CNN’s national security and law enforcement correspondent, said that Trump loyalists’ attacks on the FBI for its role in searching Mar-a-Lago for the classified documents Trump stole have taken a toll. “The head of the FBI Agents Association tells me threats against the bureau are ‘real’ and ‘imminent,’” Campbell tweeted. “The organization is demanding political leaders unequivocally denounce these attacks, insisting: ‘There is NO justification for targeting law enforcement in the United States.’”
In the search to figure out how and why the text messages from Secret Service members from the time around January 6, 2021, were purged, Inspector General Joseph Cuffari, who hid the destruction from Congress for more than a year, today refused to step down from the investigation. He also said that he would not provide the documents lawmakers wanted to see, or permit House committees to interview his colleagues.
And yet, Trump’s hold on the Republican Party is strong enough that his chosen candidate defeated Representative Liz Cheney in today’s Wyoming primary by about 34 points. Cheney voted with Trump more than 90% of the time during his term, but she took a stand against him after his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. In a concession speech tonight, she told her supporters that two years ago she won the primary with 73% of the vote, and “could easily have done the same again. The path was clear. But it would have required that I go along with President Trump's lie about the 2020 election. It would have required that I enable his ongoing efforts to unravel a democratic system and attack the foundations of our Republic. That was a path I could not and would not take.”
She vowed to “do whatever it takes to ensure Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office.”
Observers noted that the defeat of Cheney marks the passage of another establishment name from the ranks of Republican Party lawmakers. The Lincoln Project tweeted, “Tonight, the nation marks the end of the Republican Party. What remains shares the name and branding of the traditional GOP, but is in fact an authoritarian nationalist cult dedicated only to Donald Trump.”