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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.

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Election News

New York Democrat Arrested and Charged with Felony For Faking Signatures on Election Petition, Including Dead People

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Peekskill Common Council member Rob Scott sought to advance his political career by challenging incumbent County Legislator Colin Smith for the seat in last year’s Democratic primary.

That effort ended in late April 2023 when the County Board of Elections threw out 217 of the 531 signatures Scott submitted on his ballot petitions, leaving him far short of the required number of 500.

Now, Scott is facing criminal charges for filing false documents.

In a statement, County District Attorney Miriam E. Rocah said Scott was arrested and charged with filing designating petitions containing forged signatures for a seat on the Westchester County Board of Legislators in the June 2023 Democratic primary election.

“Free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy. Undermining the petition process in an attempt to get on the ballot in an election violates the public’s trust,” Rocah said.

Scott was charged with offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, a felony, and was issued a desk appearance ticket for an April 30 arraignment in White Plains City Court. It is a class E felony. According to the District Attorney’s office, there is a wide range of potential sentences associated with this charge, ranging from a minimum of probation up to a maximum of one and a third  to four years in state prison.

The DA alleges that on April 10, 2023 Scott filed designating petitions with the Westchester County Board of Elections containing forged signatures of eight individuals who told DA’s Office investigators that they never signed a petition for the defendant.  The alleged forged signatures appeared on three of the 37 sheets that the defendant signed as a witness, the complaint alleges.

The Criminal Investigators Squad of the DA’s Office launched an investigation in July 2023 after receiving complaints from individuals whose signatures were forged. The case is being prosecuted by the Public Integrity and Law Enforcement Integrity Bureau.

Scott told The Herald that he was issued a desk appearance ticket and will have to go to court and take it from there. “It wasn’t like a dramatic, crazy thing it was very respectful. I have been in communication and in full cooperation with the DAs office since the beginning of this complaint and hope the matter can be put behind us shortly so that I, as an elected official, can get back to what’s most important, which is being in service of our community. I ask for patience as we sort through the matter, Councilman Scott said.

Scott’s ballot petitions challenged in court last April

Allegations charging Scott with falsifying signatures on his ballot petitions first surfaced in April 2023 when a lawsuit was filed against Scott and the Westchester County Board of Elections by Democratic party official Marcia Stone, Vice-Chair of the Yorktown Democratic Committee, and County Legislator Smith.

In their lawsuit, Stone and Smith listed 26 reasons the Scott ballots should be rejected. The allegations included signatures not signed by the person named, people who were not registered Democrats, alterations made to dates and signatures, signatures from people who had already signed Smith’s petitions earlier and that some signatures were forged and written by the same hand.

Four Peekskill residents – Debby and Bob Mickelson and Cathy Martone and David Hallerman – told the Journal News that their signatures were forged on Scott’s petitions.

All those allegations in the lawsuit became moot when the Board rejected Scott’s petitions and kept him off the ballot. The Board did not have the authority to pursue criminal charges and the matter seemed to be at an end. Now the County District Attorney’s office has charged Scott with criminal acts.

“Although I am disheartened at the news of Councilman Scott’s arrest, I applaud the District Attorney’s office for taking a strong stance on public integrity. Clearly, there was enough evidence of criminal conduct to warrant bringing these charges. Our elected officials must be held to a higher standard. Let this arrest serve as a warning to those who would attempt to subvert the rule of law for their own selfish gain that such self-serving behavior will not be tolerated. Councilman Scott should immediately resign,” County Legislator Colin Smith said.

Scott denied any wrongdoing in comments last year

In a published report last year, Scott denied forging signatures on his petitions and said that he was stunned to learn that his petition included the names of people who had not signed, including three dead people.

In his biography on the city website, Scott says he’s been a resident of Peekskill for over 25 years and is the owner/operator of the health establishment, PK Blendz Juice Bar.

Rob Scott at his business on Main Street. (Photo by Regina Clarkin)

“Scott is a vegan and licensed personal trainer. Mr. Scott is dedicated to building strong healthy families in the City of Peekskill through education and equitable grown. He is also a father of two children whom he is raising with his wife and high school sweetheart of 25 plus years,” his website bio reads.

“I’m a believer that we have the power to define and redefine, reality is only a reflection of our thoughts” – Rob Scott

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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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