The Full Belmonte, 9/17/2022
Justice Department Appeals Parts of Judge’s Ruling on Documents Seized at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago
Prosecutors ask appeals court to allow them to resume reviewing documents marked as classified
The Justice Department asked an appeals court to let prosecutors resume their work reviewing documents marked classified that were seized from former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate. PHOTO: GABRIELLA DEMCZUK FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
“The Justice Department late Friday asked a federal appeals court to allow prosecutors to resume examining the roughly 100 documents marked classified that were recovered in the extraordinary search last month of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and to bar a special master from reviewing them.
The department told the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta that a judge’s order temporarily stopping prosecutors from reviewing the documents marked classified ‘impedes the government’s efforts to protect the nation’s security’ and hinders its ongoing investigation into the government records at the former president’s sprawling resort.
Prosecutors asked the appeals court to immediately lift the hold and let them resume their work.
The request comes after U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon on Thursday appointed a former chief federal judge to independently review the documents. But over the objection of prosecutors, she included the roughly 100 documents marked classified that were recovered in the search and ordered the Justice Department to provide Mr. Trump’s legal team with access to those materials.
FBI agents searched Mr. Trump’s Florida resort on Aug. 8 and removed 33 boxes with thousands of presidential records and news clippings mixed with classified materials. Afterward, prosecutors said they were investigating, among other issues, potential violations of the Espionage Act, which relates to the misuse of classified information.
Restricting federal agents’ access to the documents ‘unduly interferes’ with that ongoing investigation, prosecutors wrote Friday.
Prosecutors argued in their 29-page filing Friday that Mr. Trump had no right to those sensitive national security documents and that the classified markings ‘establish on the face of the documents that they are not Plaintiff’s personal property.’
The Justice Department lawyers didn’t ask the appeals court to stop the appointment of the special master, Raymond J. Dearie, who was a longtime judge in federal court in Brooklyn, though they said Judge Cannon erred in her ‘unprecedented’ order.
In a request the filing described as ‘modest but critically important,’ the Justice Department asked that the 100 or so documents in question to be excluded from Mr. Dearie’s review process, which Judge Cannon ordered to be completed by Nov. 30. A separate court filing Friday showed Mr. Dearie asked Mr. Trump’s team and Justice Department lawyers to appear for their first conference on Tuesday.
Mr. Trump’s legal team has disputed the status of the documents marked as classified. A spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Friday night.
‘The government has not proven these records remain classified. That issue is to be determined later,’ Mr. Trump’s lawyers wrote in a Monday filing to Judge Cannon.
Mr. Trump has called the Aug. 8 search prosecutorial misconduct and an attempt to keep him from running for president in 2024.
U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon appointed a former chief judge to independently review classified documents found in Mar-a-Lago.PHOTO: SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
When the Florida-based Judge Cannon ordered the appointment of an independent arbiter last week, she had temporarily blocked criminal investigators from using the materials, describing it as ‘a brief pause to allow for neutral, third-party review to ensure a just process with adequate safeguards.’
The Justice Department said Friday in its motion that it also needed to proceed quickly in its investigation because materials at Mar-a-Lago ‘were stored in an unsecure manner over a prolonged period, and the court’s injunction itself prevents the government from even beginning to take necessary steps to determine whether improper disclosures might have occurred or may still occur.’
It added that the ‘government’s need to proceed apace is heightened where, as here, it has reason to believe that obstructive acts may impede its investigation.’” Read more at Wall Street Journal
Appeals Court Upholds Texas Law Regulating Social-Media Platforms
Supreme Court previously put the law on hold and could decide its fate
In a split decision, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans rejected tech industry arguments that the law violated companies’ rights to exercise discretion over content on their platforms.PHOTO: JONATHAN BACHMAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
“A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a Texas law that seeks to prohibit social-media platforms from blocking or removing posts based on the speaker’s viewpoint, a decision that could set the stage for the Supreme Court to resolve a case with broad ramifications for online discourse.
Texas Republicans enacted the law, known as HB 20, last year, a response to what they said were concerns about the suppression of conservative political views on Meta Platforms Inc.’s META -2.18%▼Facebook, Twitter Inc. TWTR -1.64%▼ and other major platforms.
The law, which has been on hold for now, allows Texas residents, or anyone doing business in the state, to sue platforms and seek court orders against content removal. It also gives enforcement powers to the state attorney general. HB 20 allows plaintiffs to seek injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees, but not damages.
A pair of trade associations representing tech companies filed suit to challenge the law and warned that it could lead to a wave of harmful and offensive posts.
A three-judge panel of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans issued a split ruling Friday in the state’s favor.
Judge Andrew Oldham, writing for the majority, rejected the tech associations’ arguments that the law violated the First Amendment rights of social-media companies to exercise editorial discretion over the content published on their platforms.
‘Today we reject the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say,’ Judge Oldham, a Trump appointee wrote. He was joined in the majority by Judge Edith Jones, a Reagan appointee.
In dissent, Judge Leslie Southwick said tech companies are engaged in constitutionally protected activity when they make decisions about which speech is permitted, featured, promoted and monetized on their private platforms.
‘Balance and fairness certainly would be preferable, but the First Amendment does not require it,’ Judge Southwick, a George W. Bush appointee, wrote.
The Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, in May ordered that the Texas law remain on hold while the litigation continued. That order wasn’t a ruling on the legality of HB 20. The case is likely to come back to the high court after Friday’s decision.
‘We remain convinced that when the U.S. Supreme Court hears one of our cases, it will uphold the First Amendment rights of websites, platforms and apps,’ said Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of NetChoice, one of the trade groups that sued.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
U.S. stocks closed lower as investors came to grips with corporate warnings that paint an increasingly dire outlook for the health of the U.S. economy.
“The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.5%, the S&P 500 0.7% and the Nasdaq Composite 0.9%. FedEx shares lost 21%—its biggest one-day drop ever—after the company said a macroeconomic slowdown had led to lower volumes of goods moving around the world in recent weeks.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
The Justice Department has increasingly focused more resources on crypto-supported crime as bitcoin and other currencies have become more appealing to criminals.
PHOTO: GABRIELLA DEMCZUK FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The Justice Department formed a national network of more than 150 federal prosecutors focused on crypto crime.
“The high degree of technical expertise that can go into prosecuting such cases is partly what motivated the new effort, according to Eun Young Choi, the DOJ’s first national cryptocurrency enforcement team director. Crimes include money laundering, financing terrorism and theft.” Read more at Wall Street Journal
Jan. 6 committee's October surprise
Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios
“The House Jan. 6 committee plans to hold a hearing late this month and release early findings and recommendations before the election, Axios' Andrew Solender and Alayna Treene report.
Why it matters: Despite the panel's long-stated goal of avoiding perceptions of partisanship or politicization, a noisy October could impact the midterms.
The committee will meet virtually today to plan the rest of their schedule, including upcoming hearings, members told Axios.
‘We sunset Dec. 31,’ Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told reporters this week.
What we're watching: Members told Axios that while their final report will likely come after the election, plenty of news could be made before.
Thompson told Axios the time between an expected Sept. 28 hearing and the election ‘won't be a quiet period’: ‘The goal is to have … some information pushed out, obviously, before the November election.’
The panel may release its interim report in that window.” Read more at Axios
Trump warns of violence if indicted
Former President Trump at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., this week. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
“Former President Trump said that if he were indicted, ‘I think you’d have problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we've never seen before.’
‘That's not inciting,’ Trump told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. ‘I don’t think the people of this country would stand for it ... [I]t would just tear this country apart.’” Read more at Axios
Voter challenges, records requests swamp election offices
By NICHOLAS RICCARDI
Gwinnett County elections supervisor Zach Manifold looks over boxes of voter challenges on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Lawrenceville, Ga. Manifold estimated his office has a month to log and research the challenges, before mail ballots go out for the November elections. ‘It is a tight window to get everything done,’ he said. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
“Spurred by conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, activists around the country are using laws that allow people to challenge a voter’s right to cast a ballot to contest the registrations of thousands of voters at a time.
In Iowa, Linn County Auditor Joel Miller had handled three voter challenges over the previous 15 years. He received 119 over just two days after Doug Frank, an Ohio educator who is touring the country spreading doubts about the 2020 election, swung through the state.
In Nassau County in northern Florida, two residents challenged the registrations of nearly 2,000 voters just six days before last month’s primary. In Georgia, activists are dropping off boxloads of challenges in the diverse and Democratic-leaning counties comprising the Atlanta metro area, including more than 35,000 in one county late last month.
Election officials say the vast majority of the challenges will be irrelevant because they contest the presence on voting rolls of people who already are in the process of being removed after they moved out of the region. Still, they create potentially hundreds of hours of extra work as the offices scramble to prepare for November’s election.” Read more at AP News
Pressure on Russian forces mounts after Ukraine’s advances
By JON GAMBRELL
A Ukrainian tank drives past former Russian checkpoint in the recently retaken area of Izium, Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
“KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Western defense officials and analysts on Saturday said they believed the Russian forces were setting up a new defensive line in Ukraine’s northeast after Kyiv’s troops broke through the previous one and tried to press their advances further into the east.
The British Defense Ministry said in a daily intelligence briefing that the line likely is between the Oskil River and Svatove, some 150 kilometers (90 miles) southeast of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.
The new line comes after a Ukrainian counteroffensive punched a hole through the previous front line in the war and recaptured large swaths of land in the northeastern Kharkiv region that borders Russia.
Moscow ‘likely sees maintaining control of this zone as important because it is transited by one of the few main resupply routes Russia still controls from the Belgorod region of Russia,’ the British military said, adding that ‘a stubborn defense of this area’ was likely, but that it remained unclear whether the Russians would be able to withstand another concerted Ukrainian assault.” Read more at AP News
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan hold talks to end border fighting
Kyrgyz volunteers gather outside the government building demanding they be sent to the conflict zone at the Kyrgyz-Tajik border, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Friday, Sept. 16, 2022. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on Friday agreed to a cease-fire on a shared border where clashes earlier in the day wounded 42 people. (AP Photo/Vladimir Voronin)
“MOSCOW (AP) — The security chiefs of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan sat down for talks Saturday to stop fighting on the border between the two countries that so far has killed at least 24 people and wounded over 100.
The Kyrgyz border service announced the new round of talks as the two ex-Soviet nations traded blame for shelling that resumed Saturday morning after what appeared to be a brief respite overnight.
The fighting, which started Wednesday for no obvious or publicly announced reason, intensified on Friday. Kyrgyzstan’s Health Ministry said early Saturday that the bodies of 24 people killed in the clashes were delivered to hospitals in the Batken region that borders Tajikistan.
Kyrgyz hospitals and clinics also treated 103 people wounded in the shelling, the ministry said. It wasn’t immediately clear whether there were any casualties on Tajikistan’s side.
Tajik authorities, however, accused Kyrgyz forces of destroying a mosque and targeting civilian infrastructure, including residential buildings. Tajikistan’s security officials also charged that Kyrgyzstan was amassing troops and military equipment near the border in preparation for ‘provocations.’” Read more at AP News
India's richest man surpasses Bezos as world's second richest person
Gautam Adani, founder and chairperson of the Indian conglomerate Adani Group. surpassed Jeff Bezos as the world's second richest person on Friday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
“Why it matters: Adani started the year at the 14th spot on the index before accumulating a $146.9 billion fortune that only lags behind Elon Musk's current worth of about $260 billion.
Bezos’s fall to third with a net worth of around $145.8 billion as of Friday morning was primarily the result of a major recent tech selloff.
The big picture: Adani Group surged in valued this week, hitting a record high, according to Bloomberg.
The conglomerate is India's largest port and airport operator, thermal coal producer and largest coal trader.” Read more at Axios
Mortgage rates soar
Data: Freddie Mac. Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios
“Mortgage rates passed 6% for the first time since 2008, as an inflation-throttled economy squeezes homeowners and leaves potential buyers with few affordable options, Axios managing editor Javier E. David writes.
Why it matters: There's little relief in sight for renter orhomeowner sticker shock. Inflation has put the Fed on the path to higher interest rates, even as the economy loses momentum.
What's happening: Rates are surging and home prices have fallen — but not enough for would-be homeowners to jump into a market that seems to have mostly downside.
What we're watching: Eventually — but certainly not any time soon — the Fed will be able to declare its mission against inflation accomplished, even at the cost of forcing the economy into an outright recession.
That will nudge down mortgage rates, Melissa Cohn, regional vice president at William Raveis Mortgage, tells Axios by email.
But rates probably ‘won't go back to 3% — we would need another unwanted global crisis for that to happen.’” Read more at Axios
Beer supply crisis
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
“The supply chain crisis and an extinct volcano are spurring a new beer shortage, Axios Denver co-author John Frank reports.
‘We've been running delivery to delivery for the past few weeks, and we are certainly concerned about the supply,’ Aeronaut Brewing's co-founder Ronn Friedlander told Axios Boston co-author Mike Deehan.
Zoom in: A carbon dioxide production shortage caused by natural contamination at the Jackson Dome — a Mississippi reservoir of CO2 from an extinct volcano — is forcing brewers to cut back.
Brewers across the country are reporting production delays in getting beer to market and drafting contingency plans to switch to nitrogen.
Nightshift Brewery outside of Boston shut down a facility after being told its carbon dioxide supply was ‘cut for the foreseeable future, possibly more than a year.’
Others are paying 3–4x as much.
Zoom out: The carbon dioxide shortage is the newest threat to the beer industry's rebound from the pandemic.
Beer makers — particularly small, independent craft brewers — are struggling with inflation and supply chain troubles.
‘It's become a struggle to keep the doors open,’ one brewer recently told Bart Watson, an economist at the Colorado-based Brewers Association.
Between the lines: A handful of brewers are insulated from the shortage because they use innovative technology to capture natural carbon dioxide from the brewing process and store it for future use.
Denver Beer Co. in Colorado uses reclaimed CO2 and sells extra supply to a cannabis company for use in the grow houses.” Read more at Axios
The Las Vegas Aces forward A'ja Wilson, shooting.John Locher/Associated Press
“Las Vegas Aces vs. Connecticut Sun, W.N.B.A. Finals: These two teams have been among the best in the league for years, but neither has won a title. That’s about to change. The Aces have a fluid, high-scoring offense led by A’ja Wilson, the league’s M.V.P. Connecticut excels at defense, anchored by last season’s M.V.P., Jonquel Jones. Las Vegas leads the best-of-five series, 2-1. 4 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, ESPN.” Read more at New York Times
‘Phantom of the Opera,’ Broadway’s Longest-Running Show, to Close
The theatergoing audience has been slow to return after the pandemic lockdown, and the show hasn’t been selling well enough to defray its running costs.
Emilie Kouatchou and Ben Crawford lead the current cast of “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway.Credit...Matthew Murphy
Sept. 16, 2022
“‘The Phantom of the Opera,’” the longest-running show in Broadway history and, for many, a symbol of musical theater, will drop its famous chandelier for the last time in February, becoming the latest show to fall victim to the drop-off in audiences since the pandemic hit.
The closing is at once long-expected — no show runs forever, and this one’s grosses have been softening — but also startling, because ‘Phantom’ had come to seem like a permanent part of the Broadway landscape, a period piece and a tourist magnet that stood apart from the vicissitudes of the commercial theater marketplace.
But in the year since Broadway returned from its damaging pandemic lockdown, the theatergoing audience has not fully rebounded, and ‘Phantom,’ which came back strong last fall, has not been selling well enough to defray its high weekly running costs.
The show will commemorate its 35th anniversary in January, and then will play its final performance on Broadway on Feb. 18, according to a spokesman. The cast, crew and orchestra were informed of the decision on Friday.” Read more at New York Times