Wednesday Reads: Tired of it

Good morning, yesterday I woke up to all my Kamala and Hillary stickers (as well as my equally and abortion rights…and voting rights and trans rights and women’s rights stickers) all ripped off the refrigerator. These stickers and magnets are important to me, I’ve been collecting them for decades. My son is the one who viciously took them down. He is one of those right wing assholes. Mirroring the words of MTG before I see tweets about her quotes on Twitter. It is so upsetting. So just the basics today.

This is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: A Sense of Unreality

Good Afternoon!!

Unreality Visible, Sigfrido Duarte

Unreality Visible, Sigfrido Duarte

I woke up today with a sense of unreality. It’s not quite clinical derealization, just a feeling that everything is out of kilter. I’ve had this feeling at times during the years we’ve been dealing as a country with Trump and then having a pandemic superimposed on top of the Trump insanity. Right now I think the feeling is triggered by the rapidly breaking news over the past week or so and the amazing possibility that Trump could actually be indicted along with the real possibility that his cult followers could explode into mass violence.

Yesterday we learned that New York prosecutors are close to a plea deal with Trump Organization CFO.  Alan Weisselberg. Experts are saying that a conviction of Weisselberg would basically be the end for Trump’s company. Weisselberg says he absolutely won’t testify against Trump, and I assumed that meant the deal would permit him to stay clammed up. I actually argued with Dakinikat about this yesterday, but she was right. Weisselberg could still be forced testify to a grand jury. And he wouldn’t be able to take the fifth, since he already admitted guilt.

Read the story at the New York Times: Trump Executive Nears Plea Deal With Manhattan Prosecutors.

We also learned that Eric Herschmann, who appeared prominently in the January 6 Committee testimony, has received a subpoena to testify to a Trump grand jury in Washington DC. Politico: Justice Department subpoenas Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann. Herschmann was at the White House on January 6, 2021, and he seems to know where all the bodies are buried.

A federal grand jury investigating the Jan. 6 attack has subpoenaed Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann for documents and testimony, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Herschmann represented Donald Trump in the former president’s first impeachment trial and later joined the White House as a senior adviser. He did not work in the White House counsel’s office, but did provide Trump with legal advice. Because of that responsibility, there will likely be litigation over the scope of the subpoena and over how executive and attorney-client privileges may limit Herschmann’s ability to comply….

During the tumultuous final weeks of Trump’s term, Herschmann clashed with other aides and advisers who pushed the defeated president to fight the election results. He was also present for many of the most consequential meetings in that period of time. Among them was a high-stakes meeting where most of the Trump Justice Department’s top brass threatened to resign rather than work under a colleague who wanted to advance spurious claims of widespread voter fraud.

Herschmann also sparred with Sidney Powell and Michael Flynn when they urged Trump to have the military seize voting machines. The Jan. 6 select committee has aired numerous portions of his testimony to their panel, which is blunt and sometimes darkly amusing.

The Washington Post broke this startling news yesterday afternoon: Trump-allied lawyers pursued voting machine data in multiple states, records reveal.

A team of computer experts directed by lawyers allied with President Donald Trump copied sensitive data from election systems in Georgia as part of a secretive, multistate effort to access voting equipment that was broader, more organized and more successful than previously reported, according to emails and other records obtained by The Washington Post.

Surrealist Wardrobe, Marcel Jean, 1941

Surrealist Wardrobe, Marcel Jean, 1941

As they worked to overturn Trump’s 2020 election defeat, the lawyers asked a forensic data firm to access county election systems in at least three battleground states, according to the documents and interviews. The firm charged an upfront retainer fee for each job, which in one case was $26,000.

Attorney Sidney Powell sent the team to Michigan to copy a rural county’s election data and later helped arrange for it to do the same in the Detroit area, according to the records. A Trump campaign attorney engaged the team to travel to Nevada. And the day after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol the team was in southern Georgia, copying data from a Dominion voting system in rural Coffee County.

The emails and other records were collected through a subpoena issued to the forensics firm, Atlanta-based SullivanStrickler, by plaintiffs in a long-running lawsuit in federal court over the security of Georgia’s voting systems. The documents provide the first confirmation that data from Georgia’s election system was copied. Indications of a breach there were first raised by plaintiffs in the case in February, and state officials have said they are investigating.

“The breach is way beyond what we thought,” said David D. Cross, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, who include voting-security activists and Georgia voters. “The scope of it is mind-blowing.”

We also found out yesterday that the DOJ doesn’t want to reveal the information in the affidavit they used to convince a judge to approve a search warrant for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property because that could interfere with active criminal investigations: Hugo Lowell at The Guardian: Justice department asks not to disclose affidavit behind Mar-a-Lago search.

The US Department of Justice has asked a judge not to release the affidavit that gave the FBI probable cause to search Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, worsening distrust among top Trump aides casting about for any insight into the intensifying criminal investigation surrounding the former president.

The affidavit should not be unsealed because that could reveal the scope of the investigation into Trump’s unauthorized retention of government secrets, the justice department argued, days after the Mar-a-Lago search warrant showed it referenced potential violations of three criminal statutes….

Jonni-Cheatwood-Visual-Atelier-8-Art-5

Jonni Cheatwood, Visual Atelier

“The affidavit would serve as a roadmap to the government’s ongoing investigation, providing specific details about its direction and likely course,” the justice department said, adding that it did not oppose unsealing both a cover page and a sealing order that wouldn’t harm the criminal investigation.

In arguing against unsealing the affidavit, the justice department also said that the disclosure could harm its ability to gain cooperation from witnesses not only in the Mar-a-Lago investigation but also additional ones that would appear to touch on the former president.

“Disclosure of the government’s affidavit at this stage would also likely chill future cooperation by witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations,” prosecutors added.

Yikes!

On the threats of violence, this is from Rolling Stone’s Adam Rawnsley and Asawin Suebsaeng: Trump’s Site Is Being Weaponized Against the FBI — and Their Families.

Former President Donald Trump claims that he “will do whatever” he can to bring down “the temperature” following last week’s FBI’s raid of his Florida home and club, Mar-a-Lago. But even a glimpse of Truth Social — Trump’s social media company — shows that the MAGA website has been a haven for private, doxxed information not only about authorities involved in the federal raid, but also of their families.

A review of Truth Social postings by Rolling Stone shows Trump supporters have spent the past week doxxing both Judge Bruce Reinhart, the magistrate judge who approved the Mar-a-Lago warrant, and an FBI agent involved in preparing the request, as well as their families. The information includes their purported home addresses, phone numbers, places of worship, private offices, and similar information about the men’s families and junior employees….

Former Trump White House aide Garrett Ziegler posted the name of an FBI agent involved in the preparation of the warrant on Truth Social, as well as the names of his wife and child, their social media accounts, and the school the child attends. Truth Social removed the post by Ziegeler but the verbatim text of the post, complete with contact information for the agent and his family, have spread across Trump’s social media in a series of posts with no apparent attempts at moderation by the company. 

When a federal court unsealed the search warrant, the court redacted the names of FBI agents involved. But the names became public when the pro-Trump outlet Breitbart obtained a leaked copy of the warrant and posted an article highlighting the agents’ names. In a move that added fuel to the MAGA doxxing push, Truth Social subsequently issued a push notification to its users that linked out to a third-party news article listing the agents’ names, according to CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan. 

Truth Social fans have similarly targeted Judge Reinhart. Immediately after news of the warrant broke, Truth Social filled with calls to doxx the judge. “I bet he didn’t think anybody would leak  his name, be nice if we had his address and phone number,” one user wrote. “BRUCE REINHART MAKE HOM [sic] FAMOUS WHATS HIS ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER?” bayed another.

Within a day, Truth Social users had already arrived at and posted what they believed to be personal information of both Reinhart and his wife, including posts with addresses and a personal phone number for him. “Office maybe or home,” one Truth Social user wrote next to a south Florida address, adding “GO GET HIM, FLORIDA.”  

The Menaced Assassin, Rene Magritte

The Menaced Assassin, Rene Magritte

From Tom Nichols at The Atlantic: The New Era of Political Violence Is Here. The danger is not organized civil war but individual Americans with deep resentments and delusions.

Civil war is among the many terms we now use too easily. The American Civil War was a bloodbath driven by the inevitable confrontation between the Union and the organized forces of sedition and slavery. But at least the Civil War, as I said Friday on Morning Joe during a panel on political violence in America, was about something. Compared with the bizarre ideas and half-baked wackiness that now infest American political life, the arguments between the North and the South look like a deep treatise on government.

The United States now faces a different kind of violence, from people who believe in nothing—or at least, in nothing real. We do not risk the creation of organized armies and militias in Virginia or Louisiana or Alabama marching on federal institutions. Instead, all of us face random threats and unpredictable dangers from people among us who spend too much time watching television and plunging down internet rabbit holes. These people, acting individually or in small groups, will be led not by rebel generals but by narcissistic wannabe heroes, and they will be egged on by cowards and instigators who will inflame them from the safety of a television or radio studio—or from behind the shield of elected office. Occasionally, they will congeal into a mob, as they did on January 6, 2021.

There is no single principle that unites these Americans in their violence against their fellow citizens. They will tell you that they are for “liberty” and “freedom,” but these are merely code words for personal grudges, racial and class resentments, and a generalized paranoia that dark forces are manipulating their lives. These are not people who are going to take up the flag of a state or of a deeper cause; they have already taken up the flag of a failed president, and their causes are a farrago of conspiracy theories and pulpy science-fiction plots.

More stories to check out:

Defense One: You Don’t Have to Be a Spy to Violate the Espionage Act.

Charlie Sykes at The Bulwark: Would the GOP Nominate An Indicted Trump? Of course they would.

So that’s yesterday’s news. Today most of the talk is about the primaries in Wyoming and Alaska, where two women who have opposed Trump are up for reelection and another woman who supports Trump is running for the House.

ABC News: In Alaska and Wyoming primaries, 2 Trump critics could meet different fates as Palin eyes a comeback.

Tuesday’s primaries in Alaska and Wyoming will spotlight two big Republican detractors of former President Donald Trump — and now two big targets of his revenge tour this election cycle.

The incumbents, Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Liz Cheney, may also see two diverging results at the ballot box.

Wassily-Kandinsky-TuttArt@-15

Wassily Kandinsky

Polls close in Alaska at 1 a.m. ET on Wednesday and in Wyoming at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday….

Cheney, Wyoming’s lone member of the House, has…cemented herself as the one of the most vocal anti-Trump members of Congress.

She earned the ire of Trump, his ardent supporters and many of her fellow Republican lawmakers after she crossed party lines — with nine other House Republicans — to impeach him after the attack on the U.S. Capitol last year.

She was censured one month later by the Wyoming Republican Party and, though she initially survived a leadership vote among the House GOP caucus, she was subsequently booted from her position as the No. 3 House Republican.

Legislatively, Cheney and Trump were not political foes: As noted by FiveThirtyEight, Cheney voted with him on the issues 92.9% of the time.

But she has broken with Trump on what she calls the greatest issue of all: His continued, baseless attacks on elections. As vice chair of the House Jan. 6 committee, she has taken a major role in a year-long investigation into Trump’s conduct before, during and after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Here’s something I never expected to see–Robert Reich defending Liz Cheney. The Guardian: In praise of Liz Cheney. May we have more politicians like her.

On Tuesday, Wyoming Republicans determine the fate of Representative Liz Cheney, the putative leader of the anti-Trump forces in the Republican party.

Six days after the 6 January 2021 attack on the Capitol – when no other Republican in the House or Senate was willing to rebuke Trump – Cheney charged on the House floor that “the president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing.”

The next day, Cheney joined nine other House Republicans and 222 Democrats in voting to impeach Trump.

So far, three of these 10 principled Republican lawmakers have lost their primaries. Two have won them. The remaining four are retiring.

As vice-chair of the House of Representatives’ January 6 committee investigating the causes of that attack, Cheney has ceaselessly and tirelessly helped lay out the case against Trump during eight public hearings held in June and July, with more to come.

In response, Trump has done everything possible to end Cheney’s career. He made sure House Republicans revoked her status as the third highest-ranking leader of the Republican caucus, and that Wyoming Republicans censured her.

Trump also selected Cheney’s opponent in Tuesday’s Republican primary, Harriet Hageman – who has rallied behind Trump and amplified his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.

Read more at The Guardian.

More election stories:

The New York Times: What to Watch in Tuesday’s Primaries.

The Washington Post: Election deniers march toward power in key 2024 battlegrounds.

The New York Times Editorial Board: Why Political Bravery Is in Such Short Supply in America.

NBC News: Liz Cheney is the last stop on Trump’s impeachment revenge tour. But he is the key to her future.

The New York Times: Senate G.O.P. Campaign Arm Slashes TV Ad Buys in Three States.

So that’s what’s happening as I see it. No wonder I feel overwhelmed. What are your thoughts? Is anyone else having a sense of unreality?


Monday Reads: “The Wheels of justice grind slow but grind fine”

Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’m not sure what made me think of this Sun Tzu quote exactly.  I’ve been hearing “justice delayed is justice denied” more frequently. That’s a more recent quote from William Gladstone. It’s quiet this morning on the news front. So quiet, you might just hear a grinding sound.

This is from Politico: “Judge orders Graham to testify in Atlanta-area Trump probe.  Investigators intend to query Graham about two phone calls with Georgia election officials that included a discussion of the process for counting absentee ballots.”  I keep wondering if the FBI will find the kompromat on Lady Lindsey in one of those leatherbound boxes found in the basement of Mar-a-Lago.

A federal judge on Monday turned down Sen. Lindsey Graham’s bid to throw out a subpoena compelling him to testify before the Atlanta-area grand jury investigating Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election.

“[T]he 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,” U.S. District Court Judge Leigh Martin May wrote in a 22-page opinion rejecting Graham’s effort and sending the matter back to state courts for further proceedings.

The ruling is a victory for District Attorney Fani Willis, who is leading the grand jury probe that resulted in a subpoena for Graham (R-S.C.) to appear for an Aug. 23 interview. Investigators intend to query Graham about two phone calls with Georgia election officials, at the same time Trump was attempting to subvert his defeat, that included a discussion of the process for counting absentee ballots.“

Senator Graham has unique personal knowledge about the substance and circumstances of the phone calls with Georgia election officials, as well as the logistics of setting them up and his actions afterward,” May wrote. “And though other Georgia election officials were allegedly present on these calls and have made public statements about the substance of those conversations, Senator Graham has largely (and indeed publicly) disputed their characterizations of the nature of the calls and what was said and implied. Accordingly, Senator Graham’s potential testimony on these issues … are unique to Senator Graham.”

“In a statement issued later Monday through his Senate office, Graham indicated he would appeal the ruling.

Whatever gravitas Senator Graham may have had is now gone.  Donald Trump has hung his ass as a trophy somewhere on some Golf Club wall.

More information is being released and reported on the attempted murder of author Salman Rushdie.  This is from The Washington Post. It’s written by Jennifer Hassan. “Iran denies involvement in Rushdie attack, says he brought it on himself.”

Iran denied any involvement Monday in last week’s attack that left author Salman Rushdie with severe injuries after he was stabbed in the neck and abdomen onstage at an event in western New York.

In its first public reaction to the stabbing, Iran said Rushdie and his supporters were to blame for the attack, more than three decades after Tehran issued a directive for Muslims to kill Rushdie because of his book “The Satanic Verses,” published in 1988.

“We do not blame, or recognize worthy of condemnation, anyone except himself and his supporters,” Nasser Kanaani, spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, said of the stabbing, which has been condemned by world leaders and has rocked the literary world.

Kanaani told reporters that through his writing,the Indian-born British American novelisthad insulted “the holiness of Islam” and crossed “the red lines of more than 1½ billion Muslims.”

The Three Judges, 1858/60, Honoré Victorin Daumier

Mitchell Prothero–writing for Vice–believes this statement to be false. “Salman Rushdie Stabbing Suspect ‘Had Contact With Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.’ Intel officials told VICE World News Hadi Matar had been in contact with members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. There’s no evidence Iran was involved in organising the attack.”

The 24-year-old man accused of stabbing author Salman Rushdie had been in direct contact with members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on social media, European and Middle Eastern intelligence officials told VICE World News.

Hadi Matar has been charged with attempted murder after Rushdie, 75, was repeatedly stabbed on stage ahead of a speaking event in Chautauqua, New York, on Friday. On Sunday, Rushdie’s son Zafar Rushdie said his father was in a critical condition and had sustained “life-changing” injuries but had been taken off a ventilator and had been able to speak.

A NATO counterterrorism official from a European country said the stabbing had all the hallmarks of a “guided” attack, where an intelligence service talks a supporter into action, without direct support or involvement in the attack itself.

“Close scrutiny needs to be paid to his communications,” said the NATO official, who was not authorised to speak on the record. “More investigation will reveal more information on the exact nature of the links.”

There’s no evidence Iranian officials were involved in organising or orchestrating the attack on Rushdie. Security officials who confirmed the social media contact would not elaborate on the nature of the communications because investigations are ongoing. They would not disclose who initiated the contact, when it took place, or what was discussed.

And this is interesting in terms of the Department of Justice investigations and the former guy.  There are two separate warrants now that we know about.

The last we heard of Trump, he threatened the DOJ if they didn’t let him “help” the investigation. This is from a blog post of Katelyn Caralle, the U.S. Political Reporter For Dailymail.com.

  • Donald Trump confirmed that he told the DOJ he would ‘do whatever I can to help the country’ after outrage ensued after the FBI raided his Mar-a-Lago estate

  • ‘People are so angry at what is taking place,’ Trump told Fox. ‘Whatever we can do to help—because the temperature has to be brought down in the country’

  • Added a warning: ‘If it isn’t, terrible things are going to happen’ 

  • A report Sunday revealed Trump had a representative tell a DOJ official he had a message for Attorney General Merrick Garland

  • ‘The country is on fire. What can I do to reduce the heat?’ was the message

James Ensor, The Wise Judges, 1891

That sounds like one of those thinly veiled threats Trump makes when he goes all Mafia on us.  Trump once again is hoisted on his own petard. (Oh, now I’m referencing Shakespeare, what kind of Monday trip am I on?) This is from Raw Story and Brad Reed: “Trump’s DOJ won a 2018 case that undermines claims about his broad declassification powers.”

Allies of former President Donald Trump have claimed that he unilaterally declassified every single government document that he took with him to Mar-a-Lago on his way out of the White House in 2021.

Many legal experts have cast doubt on claims that Trump can simply will documents declassified without going through any kind of formal process, and New York Times reporter Charlie Savage points to a case won by Trump’s own Department of Justice in 2018 that rebuts the theory that presidents have near-omnipotent declassification powers.

The case in question involved a New York Times request for documents relating to covert operations in Syria that Trump had revealed in a tweet by criticizing “massive, dangerous, and wasteful payments to Syrian rebels” made by the United States government.

By talking about the matter publicly, argued the New York Times, Trump had in essence declassified the existence of the program, which would then make documents about it available to reporters through requests via the Freedom of Information Act.

The Trump DOJ pushed back on this, however, and successfully argued that mere presidential proclamations are insufficient to formally declassify documents.

“The Times cites no authority that stands for the proposition that the President can inadvertently declassify information and we are aware of none,” wrote the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in its decision against the Times. “Because declassification, even by the President, must follow established procedures, that argument fails.”

Excuse me while I chuckle.

Jennifer Rubin has much to say about Trump and how he easily absconded with Federal Documents, including Top Secret National Security Matters.  Rubin writes this for The Washington Post: “Leaving with nuclear secrets would be Trump’s dumbest, scariest stunt yet.”

A defeated former president who was at the center of a failed coup allegedly walks out the door with nuclear secrets, refuses to give them back and then leaves a creepy, semi-threatening message for the attorney general — that’s apparently where we are. Donald Trump and his apologists are as dangerous to our national security as spies and traitors who would spirit away our most closely held secrets.

The documents at issue supposedly include material so confidential it merits a top secret rating (TS/SCI) that no president — let alone an ex-president — can wish away.

Former FBI special agent and lawyer Asha Rangappa dismisses Trump’s assertion that he declassified everything: “The claim is bogus because clearly the current position of the United States government is that these documents are classified. This is controlling, whatever he did before he left office.” She adds, “He has no classification authority as of Jan. 20, 2021. Trump forgets that whatever awesome powers and immunities he held as president now belong to [President] Biden.”

Indeed, this nondefense bolsters the conclusion that Trump knew the documents were classified. “It is an admission because it would mean Trump had knowledge of the content of the documents, and that he apparently planned to remove them once relabeled,” observes Ryan Goodman, national security law expert and co-editor of Just Security.

The more facts we know, the worse it gets. According to New York Times reporting, “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.” Perhaps Trump, a compulsive liar, and his counsel were less than honest.

Even more stunning, just before Attorney General Merrick Garland’s public announcement regarding the search, a close Trump associate reached out to DOJ with a message for Garland. Trump wanted Garland “to know that he had been checking in with people around the country and found them to be enraged by the search,” the Times reported. A threat? A plea? Maybe both, but it certainly reflects Trump’s telltale mix of ignorance, arrogance, lawlessness, narcissism and recklessness.

I hope we get more justice on this than we got from Richard Nixon’s lawlessness.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today? 

 


Sunday Reads:

If only we will one day see Nazimodo in prison…how wonderful that will be.

Have a good and safe Sunday…this is an open thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads: What A Week!

Happy Caturday!!

What a week this has been!

Norman-Catwell by Lucia Heffernan

Norman Catwell, by Lucia Heffernan

On Monday, the FBI executed a search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, and took 27 boxes that contained above top secret documents. Trump’s Republican allies viciously attacked the FBI and DOJ.

Predictably, on Thursday one of Trump’s fans entered an FBI office in Cincinnati, fired a nail gun, and pulled out an AR-15 style rifle. He then fled and was eventually shot and killed during a standoff in a cornfield.

While the standoff was in progress, Attorney General Merrick Garland made a public statement about the Mar-a-Lago search. He said that he had personally signed of on the search warrant, which was then approved by a federal magistrate judge in Florida based on probable cause that a crime had been committed. He also said he was requesting the release of the search warrant and the list of items taken in the search as long as Trump did not object.

On Friday Trump released the warrant and receipt for items taken to Breitbart, Fox News, and the Wall Street Journal about an hour before the court approved the public release. Trump did not hide the names of the agents listed in the warrant. Breitbart published the names, opening the agents to terroristic threats and violence from Trump fans. They were also threatening the judge.

Finally, we learned that the 45th president of the united states is being investigated for violating the espionage act as well as obstruction of justice. Read the full warrant and receipt at The Daily Beast. You can also read a timeline of events over many months that led up to the Mar-a-Lago search at USA Today.

While all this was happening, Democrats in the Senate and House passed Biden’s massive inflation reduction/health care/climate change bill.

Finally, yesterday afternoon, author Salmon Rushdie was attacked and badly injured at an event in upstate New York.

The latest on the Trump espionage investigation:

The Washington Post: Agents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago seized 11 sets of classified documents, court filing shows.

The FBI search of former president Donald Trump’s Florida home earlier this week found four sets of top-secret documents and seven other sets of classified information, according to a list of items seized in the high-profile raid and unsealed by a federal magistrate judge on Friday.

Rudi Hurzlmeier

Cat art by Rudi Hurzlmeier

The written inventory — a document provided by investigators after a search — says the FBI took about 20 boxes of items from the Mar-a-Lago Club on Monday, including photo binders, information about the president of France, and a variety of classified material.

One set of documents is listed as “Various classified TS/SCI documents,” areference to top secret/sensitive compartmented information, a highly classified category of government secrets, in addition to the four sets of top-secret papers. Agents also took three sets of documents classified as secret, and three sets of papers classified as confidential — the lowest level of classification.

The list of seized material doesn’t further describe the subject matter of any of the classified documents.

“Some of what was in Trump’s possession is mind-boggling,” said Javed Ali, a senior official at the National Security Council during the Trump administration who now teaches at the University of Michigan. “Whenever you leave government — including probably a former president — you can’t just take it with you.”

More details from CNN: FBI took 11 sets of classified material from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home while investigating possible Espionage Act violations.

The search warrant identifies three federal crimes that the Justice Department is looking at as part of its investigation: violations of the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice and criminal handling of government records. The inclusion of the crimes indicates the Justice Department has probable cause to investigate those offenses as it was gathering evidence in the search. No one has been charged with a crime at this time….

While details about the documents themselves remain scarce, the laws cited in the warrant offer new insight into what the FBI was looking for when it searched Trump’s home, an unprecedented step that has prompted a firestorm of criticism from the former President’s closest allies.

Kim Haskins, psychedelic cat painting

Kim Haskins, psychedelic cat painting

The laws cover “destroying or concealing documents to obstruct government investigations” and the unlawful removal of government records, according to the search warrant released Friday.

Also among the laws listed is one known as the Espionage Act, which relates to the “retrieval, storage, or transmission of national defense information or classified material.”

All three criminal laws cited in the warrant are from Title 18 of the United States Code. None of them solely hinge on whether information was deemed to be unclassified.

That last fact–that the items don’t have to be classified in order for a crime to have been committed–is going to short-circuit the excuses that Trump and his allies have been putting forward.

Here’s the claim from the Trump camp as reported by Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC last night.

Insider: Trump’s latest defense for Mar-a-Lago documents is everyone ‘brings home their work from time to time’ and the files were automatically declassified.

Former President Donald Trump said that everyone takes work home sometimes, as he sought to develop a new line to explain why top secret government documents were stored at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida.

“As we can all relate to, everyone ends up having to bring home their work from time to time. American presidents are no different,” said the statement from Trump’s office on Friday night read out on Fox News.

Trump further claimed that he had a “standing order” to declassify documents “the moment” they left the Oval Office.

“President Trump, in order to prepare for work the next day, often took documents, including classified documents, from the Oval Office to the residence. He had a standing order that documents removed from the Oval Office and taken into the residence were deemed to be declassified the moment he removed them,” the statement said.

Hahahahahahaha!!!

This new defense – portraying Trump as just another hard-working American – contradicts previous statements by Trump and his lawyers that baselessly claimed the FBI could have planted evidence while on site.

By Sofia Struk

Cat art by Sofia Struk

While the president has the authority to declassify documents, legal experts say they must follow a defined procedure. It is not clear if Trump ever did.

“He can’t just wave a wand and say it’s declassified,” Richard Immerman, a historian and an assistant deputy director of national intelligence in the Obama administration, told NBC News. “There has to be a formal process. That’s the only way the system can work.”

Immerman noted that declassified documents are marked with the date they were declassified. It is not the case with some of the documents returned from Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives this year, per NBC.

When reports of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago emerged in May, former Trump administration official Kash Patel claimed that Trump had declassified the files shortly before leaving office but that the classified markings had not been removed.

But none of this matters, because the espionage act charges do not hinge on whether documents are classified or not.

The Inflation reduction/health care/climate bill

The New York Times: A Detailed Picture of What’s in the Democrats’ Climate and Health Bill.

Democrats in Congress have had to scale back their legislative ambitions since last year, but the Inflation Reduction Act, passed by the House on Friday and sent to President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for his signature, is still a substantial piece of legislation, which will make big investments in the environment and health care, and increase taxes on some key groups.

The bill includes policies lowering the prices of prescription drugs; increasing the generosity of Medicare benefits; and encouraging the development of renewable energy and reducing the impact of climate change.

It would also raise taxes on some corporations and bolster the ability of the Internal Revenue Service to crack down on wealthy tax evaders. It would lower the federal deficit, though modestly.

The bill includes last-minute changes requested by Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, the final holdout among her party’s 50 senators. Democratic leaders agreed to remove a tax on some wealthy hedge fund managers and private equity executives, and to include $4 billion in drought funding for her state.

Head over to the NYT link to see charts and a detailed list of everything in the bill.

A shocking attack on famed novelist Salmon Rushdie

The Washington Post: Salman Rushdie hospitalized after attack onstage in New York state.

Salman Rushdie, the renowned novelist whose work made him the subject of death threats, was attacked at an event in Chautauqua, N.Y., on Friday by a man who stormed the stage and stabbed the writer in the neck and abdomen, police said.

Rudi Hurzlmeier2

By Rudi Hurzlmeier

Rushdie was taken by helicopter to a hospital. His agent, Andrew Wylie, told the Associated Press that the writer was on a ventilator, with damage to his liver and nerves in an arm. He also said Rushdie will likely lose an eye.

Police identified Hadi Matar, 24, of New Jersey as the suspect in the attack. They have not yet determined a motive, Maj. Eugene Staniszewski of the New York State Police said, and are working with the local district attorney to decide which criminal charges will be filed. The FBI is also involved in the investigation.

In an instant Friday morning, a literary event in a lakeside town in western New York was transformed into a scene of potentially deadly violence, drawing gasps from the audience gathered in an open-air amphitheater.

Read more at the WaPo.

NewYork4: Who Is Hadi Matar? NJ Man Suspected in Salman Rushdie Attack Had Shia Extremist Sympathies.

Police are learning more information about the suspect who allegedly stormed onto a New York stage and stabbed author Salman Rushdie in the neck on Friday.

The suspect, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, was born in California, but recently moved to New Jersey, according to law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation. His last listed address was in Fairview, a Bergen County borough just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. FBI officials were seen going into the home of Matar Friday evening.

Sources said that Matar also had a fake New Jersey driver’s license on him.

State Police Maj. Eugene Staniszewski said the motive for the stabbing was unclear. A preliminary law enforcement review of Matar’s social media accounts shows he is sympathetic to Shia extremism and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps causes, a law enforcement person with direct knowledge of the investigation told NBC News. There are no definitive links to the IRGC but the initial assessment indicates he is sympathetic to the Iranian government group, the official says.

A bit more from ABC News: Suspect charged with attempted murder in on-stage attack of author Salman Rushdie.

Law enforcement officials briefed on the investigation told ABC News that “a preliminary investigation into the suspected perpetrator’s probable social media presence indicates a likely adherence or sympathy towards Shi’a extremism and sympathies to the Iranian regime/Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”

The officials say investigators found photos on Matar’s phone of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the leader of Iraq’s pro-Iranian militia movement, who were killed by U.S. forces in a drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3, 2020.

Police believe the suspect acted alone and were in the process Friday of obtaining search warrants for items including electronics and a backpack found at the scene that they believe belong to the suspect, Staniszewski said.

The FBI is also assisting with the investigation, he said.

The suspect had a pass to access the event, officials said.

It’s been an unbelievable news week, and I expect we’ll be learning more about these three big stories over the weekend. What are your thoughts? What other stories are you following?