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Judge Orders Release of More Mar-a-Lago Search Warrant Information in Trump Classified Docs Case

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In connection with the former president’s case involving classified documents, a judge ruled that more parts of the federal government’s search warrant affidavit for Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence can now be made public.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart wrote Wednesday that more sealed parts of the affidavit that was used in the FBI raid in August 2022 “should be unsealed.” However, the entirety of the affidavit shouldn’t be unsealed, he wrote, giving the Department of Justice (DOJ) until July 13 to appeal.

In an order (pdf), Mr. Reinhart, who approved the unprecedented Mar-a-Lago FBI search, wrote that the federal government “has met its burden of showing that its proposed redactions of the affidavit are narrowly tailored to serve the government’s legitimate interests and are the least onerous alternative to sealing the entire search warrant affidavit.” It came in response to a petition from media outlets to unseal the affidavit, which he denied.

In the meantime, the judge noted that the Justice Department had concurred in a sealed filing that some portions of the search warrant might be made public. To comply with “grand jury secrecy rules and to protect investigative sources and methods,” other portions should be kept confidential.

When and how the affidavit’s less-redacted version will be filed, as well as how the new details will be made public, are unknown.

The search warrant affidavit was made public by the DOJ in redacted form in August of last year and in a version with fewer redactions in September. The reasons why investigators believed crimes had been committed at Mr. Trump’s home, however, were not fully disclosed.

Mr. Trump was charged with mishandling classified information, including materials related to national defense, on 37 counts last month. Along with other offenses, Mr. Trump was accused of making false statements and conspiring to obstruct the course of justice. To all of the accusations, the former president has entered a not guilty plea.

Authorities claim that Mr. Trump flaunted the documents to individuals who lacked security clearance to review them and later attempted to hide information from his own attorneys as they worked to abide by court orders requiring the discovery and return of documents. The most serious offenses can result in a 20-year prison sentence.

Mr. Trump, on his Truth Social app last month, called his indictment “a DARK DAY for the United States of America.” In a video, he said, “I’m innocent and we will prove that very, very soundly and hopefully very quickly.”

Late in June, U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon rejected a Justice Department request to put 84 potential witnesses’ names under seal so that Mr. Trump, the front-runner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, would not be allowed to discuss the case with them while it is still pending in court. Ms. Cannon stated that, in her opinion, the Justice Department failed to provide sufficient justification for either the need to file the list with the court or the need to keep the list sealed from public view.

Mar-a-Lago

“The Government’s Motion does not explain why filing the list with the Court is necessary,” the judge wrote in her June 26 order. “It does not offer a particularized basis to justify sealing the list from public view; it does not explain why partial sealing, redaction, or means other than sealing are unavailable or unsatisfactory; and it does not specify the duration of any proposed seal,” she added.

The 14th of July will serve as the date for a pretrial conference to discuss issues pertaining to the Classified Information Procedures Act.

Previously, the DOJ’s special counsel, Jack Smith, who is in charge of the numerous cases against Trump, suggested scheduling Mr. Trump’s trial for December 11 in order to postpone the judge’s original August date. Ms. Cannon instructed defense counsel to reply by July 6 to this request.

Trump has maintained his lead in the polls despite the negative coverage. According to a Fox News poll conducted last week, the 45th president has a 34 percent advantage over Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, while Mike Pence, the former vice president, is in third place with just 3 percent of the vote.

In a hypothetical head-to-head contest today, according to a Quinnipiac poll released around the same time, Mr. Trump would prevail over President Joe Biden, a Democrat. According to the poll, Mr. Trump has 47% of the vote to Mr. Biden’s 46%.

Walt Nauta, a former White House valet who is a co-defendant in the case, is scheduled to be arraigned this Thursday.

Earlier this year, Mr. Trump was accused of falsifying business records in relation to payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office. In an April court appearance in Manhattan, the former president entered a plea of not guilty to the charges, denying any wrongdoing.

The Epoch Times contacted Mr. Smith’s office for comment on Wednesday, no response yet.

Biden Administration

REPORT: U.S. quietly facilitated over 100 arms sales to Israel without approval of Congress

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The United States has approved and delivered on more than 100 arms sales to Israel since October 7, U.S. officials recently told Congress in a classified briefing, according to a Washington Post report on Wednesday.

The report, citing unnamed US officials, revealed that thousands of precision-guided munitions, small-diameter bombs, and other weapons were sold. These sales didn’t require prior approval from Congress as each fell below the minimum amount for consideration. Former Biden administration official Jeremy Konyndyk, speaking to the Washington Post, suggested that the high volume of sales in a short period indicates Israel’s reliance on U.S. support for its operations against Hamas in Gaza. Konyndyk, now president of Refugees International, urged the U.S. to leverage weapons sales to pressure Israel into accepting a ceasefire in Gaza.

State Department spokesman Matt Miller told the Washington Post that the Biden administration has “followed the procedures Congress itself has specified to keep members well-informed, and regularly briefs members even when formal notification is not a legal requirement.”

U.S. officials have “engaged Congress” on arms deliveries to Israel “more than 200 times” since October, Miller said.

The report said a senior State Department official declined to provide the total number of all US weapons transferred to Israel, or their costs, since Oc tober 7, but said they include new sales and “active” foreign military sales or FMSs.

“These are items that are typical for any modern military, including one that is as sophisticated as Israel’s,” the official said.

In a Wednesday column, David Ignatius of the Washington Post reported that the U.S. is contemplating measures to prevent Israel from deploying American arms in an anticipated offensive in Rafah, a southern city in Gaza where over half of the territory’s population has sought refuge during the conflict. The U.S. has emphasized that Israel must demonstrate a strategy to safeguard civilians before initiating a ground operation in Rafah. While Israel has committed to evacuating residents, it has not finalized its military strategy or disclosed relocation plans for civilians.

Ignatius wrote that US President Joe Biden and other officials “haven’t made any decision about imposing ‘conditionality’ on US weapons. But the very fact that officials seem to be debating this extreme step shows the administration’s growing concern about the crisis in Gaza.”

“If Israel launches an offensive in Rafah without adequately protecting the displaced civilian population, it may precipitate an unprecedented crisis in US-Israel relations, even involving arms supplies,” former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk was quoted as saying in the column.

Democratic lawmakers are urging the Biden administration to pressure Israel into alleviating the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza. Some are considering withholding approved military aid if conditions for civilians do not improve. Senator Chris Van Hollen emphasized the need for leveraging all available influence, urging the administration to hold back military assistance unless Israel takes steps to facilitate aid shipments into Gaza.

Israeli claims that aid deliveries are hindered by logistical issues have been met with skepticism. The White House has refrained from imposing conditions on aid to Israel, prompting concerns among lawmakers about the escalating crisis. Discussions of potential actions coincide with President Biden’s upcoming State of the Union address, where policy priorities will be outlined. The possibility of withholding arms sales to Israel under US law is also being considered, though it could spark contentious debates. Additionally, House Democrats have expressed deep concern about the plight of civilians in Gaza, further underscoring the urgency of addressing the humanitarian crisis amid ongoing conflict.

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2024 Race

Michelle Obama’s office says the former first lady ‘will not be running for president’ in 2024

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Former President Barack Obama’s vocal support for President Joe Biden’s re-election bid has sparked speculation about the potential role of his wife, Michelle Obama, in the upcoming election.

Many Democrats are eager to see Michelle Obama take on a more prominent role, with some even pondering the possibility of her replacing a politically weakened Biden on the 2024 ticket. However, supporters of Republican front-runner Donald Trump have seized on this speculation to undermine Biden’s political standing and rally GOP supporters.

In response to these rumors, Michelle Obama’s office has reiterated that she has no plans to run for president in 2024. Crystal Carson, director of communications for her office, has emphasized Michelle Obama’s support for President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ re-election campaign, and says Michelle will not be running for president.

While Michelle Obama intends to assist the Biden campaign this fall, her involvement is expected to be limited, reflecting her existing commitments and her reluctance to fully re-enter the political arena. Sources familiar with the discussions suggest that the Biden campaign may capitalize on Michelle Obama’s star power later in the campaign, particularly when swing voters are more engaged.

The Biden campaign has expressed gratitude for the support of both Barack and Michelle Obama in previous elections. Campaign spokesperson Kevin Munoz highlighted Michelle Obama’s involvement with When We All Vote, a nonpartisan voter registration group, as an area of alignment with the Biden campaign’s goals.

Despite persistent speculation about her political ambitions, Michelle Obama has consistently downplayed the possibility of seeking public office. In interviews, she has emphasized the challenges of politics and expressed her aversion to questions about running for president.

However, some observers note instances where Michelle Obama has left the door open to the idea of holding public office in the future. Amid speculation about Biden’s potential running mate in 2020, an exchange between CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota and Jill Biden suggested Michelle Obama as a possible candidate. While Jill Biden laughed off the suggestion, Michelle Obama’s allies reportedly expressed dissatisfaction with her response, prompting discussions about crafting a more ambiguous statement regarding her future plans.

Michelle Obama’s partnership with Jill Biden during their time as first and second ladies underscores their close relationship, particularly in initiatives like Joining Forces to support military families. Despite the ongoing speculation, Michelle Obama’s intentions regarding future political involvement remain unclear, leaving room for continued speculation and discussion within political circles.

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Biden Administration

Supreme Court Temporarily Halts Texas Law Allowing State Immigration Enforcement

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In a contentious battle between federal and state authority over immigration enforcement, the Supreme Court has temporarily halted a Texas law that permits state officials to arrest illegal immigrants. The decision comes amidst escalating tensions between Texas and the Biden administration regarding border security measures.

Associate Justice Samuel Alito imposed the stay after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the Texas law to take effect on March 10, according to reports from NBC. This move follows U.S. District Judge David Ezra’s initial stay late last month.

Alito’s decision to grant the stay came in response to a plea from the Biden administration and will remain in effect until March 13. Texas has been given until March 11 to respond to the administration’s arguments.

Judge Ezra, in his original stay, expressed concerns that the Texas law could allow the state to override federal directives permanently. He warned against the notion of nullifying federal law and authority, which he argued is antithetical to the Constitution and has been consistently rejected by federal courts since the Civil War.

The clash between Texas and the federal government has intensified under the Biden administration, particularly concerning Operation Lone Star. This unilateral effort by Texas aims to secure the border amid what the state perceives as federal apathy toward the surge in illegal crossings.

One of the most notable points of contention has been Texas’ deployment of a buoy barrier in the Rio Grande river and its construction of concertina-wire fencing along the Mexican frontier to deter illegal entrants.

The decision by the Supreme Court to temporarily halt the Texas law underscores the ongoing struggle between state and federal authorities regarding immigration policy and enforcement. It highlights the complex legal and constitutional issues surrounding states’ rights versus federal supremacy in matters of immigration control.

While the temporary stay provides a brief respite, the underlying tensions between Texas and the federal government are far from resolved. The outcome of this legal battle will have significant implications for immigration policy and the balance of power between state and federal authorities in the United States. As the deadline for the stay approaches, all eyes will be on the Supreme Court and the subsequent actions of the Texas government and the Biden administration.

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