Lazy Caturday Reads: What A Week!
Posted: August 13, 2022 Filed under: cat art, caturday | Tags: DOJ, Donald Trump, Espionage Act, FBI, FBI search of Mar-a-Laago, Inflation Reduction Act, Merrick Garland, obstruction of justice, Salmon Rushdie
What a week this has been!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?