Special master asks Trump team for proof of claims that FBI planted evidence live


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THE GUARDIAN

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8.22pm BST

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, activists declared that America was in a “moral crisis” as they called for more help for the poor, as Joan E Greve reports:

A coalition of faith leaders gathered on Capitol Hill on Thursday to deliver an impassioned demand for more congressional action to combat poverty, telling lawmakers they have a moral obligation to improve life for low-income Americans.

The faith leaders called on the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate to take at least three votes on major progressive issues before midterm elections in November.

They emphasized the importance of putting lawmakers “on the record” about strengthening voting rights, raising wages and reinstating pandemic-era policies aimed at lifting families out of poverty.

Related: ‘We’re in a moral crisis’: US faith leaders urge lawmakers to combat poverty

8.09pm BST

Environmental leaders protesting against new legislation which would scale back regulations to expedite major energy projects have been arrested in the Senate.

The sit-in was at the Hart building on Capitol Hill – where senate leader Chuck Schumer and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin both have their offices – to protest against their secret-deal to mandate fast track permits for energy and mining projects deemed to be of strategic national importance by limiting environmental and community review.

Eleven of the 13 national and community leaders who participated in the act of civil disobedience were arrested. It’s not clear what charges – if any – will be brought. Among those was Tom BK Goldtooth , executive director of Indigenous Environmental Network, who said: We must uplift and protect our Mother Earth, not repeal the minimal provisions that do exist. We must continue to fight against climate greenwashing and false solutions. We must take real action to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

One of the most contested parts of the bill is pushing forward with construction of the Mountain Valley pipeline in central Appalachia, which has been suspended by the courts amid widespread community opposition and environmental violations.

Lauren Maunus , advocacy director for the youth-led environmental justice group, Sunrise Movement, said: “I’m angry and frustrated that this is how we have to spend our time after the Inflation Reduction Act – less than 50 days before the midterms – when we could and should be devoting our full attention to helping Democrats expand the majority and fight fascism. Stop the permitting deal now.”

Schumer wants to attach Manchin’s Energy Independence and Security Act of 2022, released late on Wednesday, to a funding measure which must be passed by Congress by 1 October to avoid a government shutdown. It’s opposed by dozens of Democrats in the House and Senate, as well as a broad range of environmentalists, scientists and health professionals.

Related: Schumer and Manchin’s ‘dirty side deal’ to fast-track pipelines faces backlash

7.49pm BST

Several Senate Republicans don’t appear comfortable with Donald Trump’s claims regarding classified documents, particularly his assertion yesterday that he could clear them for release just by thinking about it.

CNN has gotten several on the record saying that the former president should have followed procedures set out for handling government secrets.

“I think it ought to be adhered to and followed. And I think that should apply to anybody who has access to or deals with classified information,” John Thune , the Republican whip in the chamber, said. “I think the concern is about those being taken from the White House absent some way of declassifying them or the fact that there were classified documents removed — without sort of the appropriate safeguards.”

“I believe there’s a formal process that needs to go through, that needs to be gone through and documented,” said Thom Tillis of North Carolina. “And to the extent they were declassified, gone through the process, that’s fine… As I understand the Executive Branch requirements, there is a process that one must go through.”

“I think anyone who takes the time to appropriately protect that information and who has taken the time to see what’s in the information would have serious concerns about how items could be accessed if they’re not stored properly,” said Mike Rounds of South Dakota.

7.32pm BST

Special master demands proof of tampering from Trump’s lawyers in Mar-a-Lago case

The special master appointed to filter out privileged materials from the documents taken by the government from Mar-a-Lago has asked Donald Trump ’s lawyers to provide proof of their allegations that the FBI planted evidence.

In a new court filing, Raymond Dearie , the senior federal judge tasked with separating out documents covered under executive or attorney-client privilege from the trove taken by the FBI as part of its investigation into whether Trump unlawfully possessed government secrets, also laid out a series of deadlines in the case.

Here’s more from Reuters:

The demands regarding evidence planting appear to be a response to claims made without evidence by Trump and his allies after the August search of Mar-a-Lago.

Related: Trump’s increasing tirade against FBI and DoJ endangering lives of officials

Updated at 7.36pm BST

7.09pm BST

In August, Democratic senator Joe Manchin agreed to support the marquee Inflation Reduction Act – but only if party leaders would in turn put up for a vote a proposal to fast-track permitting for energy projects. The bill is here, and Nina Lakhani reports on advocates’ concerns it will gut environmental protections:

Scientists, health experts and environmental groups have condemned new legislation negotiated in secret by the fossil-fuel-friendly Democratic senator Joe Manchin and the Senate leader, Chuck Schumer, which will fast-track major energy projects by gutting clean water and environmental protections.

The permitting bill published on Wednesday was the result of a deal between Manchin and Democratic leaders, which secured the West Virginia senator’s vote for Joe Biden’s historic climate legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act, which Manchin held up for months.

The bill mandates all permits for the Mountain Valley pipeline (MVP), a project long delayed by environmental violations and judicial rulings, be issued within 30 days of passage and strips away virtually any scope for judicial review.

Related: Schumer and Manchin’s ‘dirty side deal’ to fast-track pipelines faces backlash

Updated at 7.09pm BST

6.48pm BST

Judge blocks Indiana’s hardline abortion ban

Indiana led the charge in tightening abortion access after Roe v Wade was overturned in June, but a judge today blocked the new law on grounds that the state’s constitution protects access to the procedure.

The decision underscores the complications Republican-led states face as they move to take advantage of the conservative-led court’s decision, which cleared the way for states to ban the procedure.

Here’s more from the Associated Press :

Owen County Judge Kelsey Hanlon issued a preliminary injunction against the ban that took effect one week ago. The injunction was sought by abortion clinic operators who argued in a lawsuit that the state constitution protects access to the medical procedure.

The ban was approved by the state’s Republican-dominated Legislature on Aug. 5 and signed by GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb. That made Indiana the first state to enact tighter abortion restrictions since the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated federal abortion protections by overturning Roe v. Wade in June.

The judge wrote “there is reasonable likelihood that this significant restriction of personal autonomy offends the liberty guarantees of the Indiana Constitution” and that the clinics will prevail in the lawsuit. The order prevents the state from enforcing the ban pending a trial on the merits of the lawsuit.

Republican state Attorney General Todd Rokita said in a statement: “We plan to appeal and continue to make the case for life in Indiana.”

6.26pm BST

Since 1978 Ray Fair , ​​professor of Economics at Yale University, has been using economic data to predict US election outcomes. His bare-boned, strictly by the numbers approach has a fairly impressive record, usually coming within 3% of the final tally.

Sadly for Democrats – if Fair’s on track again this time – the Biden administration will struggle to keep control of Congress in November’s crucial midterm elections.

Elections are noisy events and this year’s is no different. Recent polling suggests Joe Biden is on a roll , reclaiming some of the ground he lost earlier in his presidency.

The Democrats have passed major legislation. There has been a surge in women registering to vote after the supreme court overturned Roe v Wade . Abortion rights drove voters to the polls in deep-red Kansas . Gas prices, if not overall inflation, are falling. In the meantime, Donald Trump and the candidates he has backed are dominating the headlines and helping Democrats’ poll numbers.

But if Fair is right, we can largely set aside the personalities and the issues: the economy is the signal behind the noise and Biden is still in trouble.

Related: Democrats will struggle to keep control of Congress in midterms, expert says

6.05pm BST

Greg Norman faced accusations of promoting Saudi “propaganda” following meetings with Washington lawmakers in which the Australian golfer sought to garner support for the Saudi-backed LIV Series in its bitter dispute with the PGA Tour.

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Greg Norman. Photograph: Richard Cashin/USA Today Sports

Norman, who is LIV’s CEO and the public face of the breakaway tour, ostensibly came to the capital this week to criticise what he has called the PGA’s “anti-competitive efforts” to stifle LIV.

But – apart from some lawmakers who allegedly sought to take their picture with Norman – the Saudi tour instead faced a considerable backlash from both Democrats and Republicans, who defended the PGA and accused LIV of being little more than a sportswashing vehicle for the kingdom.

Tim Burchett , a Republican congressman from Tennessee, left a meeting of the Republican Study Committee on Wednesday at which dozens of his party colleagues had met with Norman, expressing dismay that members of Congress were discussing a golf league backed by Saudi funds. He also called Norman’s LIV pitch “propaganda”.

“We need to get out of bed with these people. They are bad actors. We need to keep them at arm’s length,” Burchett told the Guardian.

He cited the September 11 attacks on the US, the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi , and the kingdom’s treatment of gay people and women, which he called “just unacceptable”.

Related: US congressman accuses LIV CEO Greg Norman of pushing Saudi ‘propaganda’

5.45pm BST

Blinken: UN must send ‘clear message’ to Russia on nuclear weapons

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken , spoke at the United Nations in New York earlier, seeking to “send a clear message” to Russia over its threats concerning the possible use of nuclear weapons during its war in Ukraine.

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Tony Blinken. Photograph: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/REX/Shutterstock

“Every council member should send a clear message that these reckless nuclear threats must stop immediately,” Blinken said during a security council session, adding: “The very international order we’ve gathered here to uphold is being shredded before our eyes. We cannot – we will not – let President Putin get away with it.”

Blinken also said it was critical to show that “no nation can redraw the borders of another by force” and said: “If we fail to defend this principle when the Kremlin is so flagrantly violating it, we send the message to aggressors everywhere that they can ignore it, too.”

As the Associated Press reports, the session on Thursday was “called by France, the current council president, [and] focused on addressing accountability for alleged abuses and atrocities, and the US and other western members repeatedly accused Russia of committing them”.

Sergey Lavrov , the Russian foreign minister, was not in the room when Blinken and others spoke. In his own remarks, he claimed Ukraine was oppressing Russian speakers in the east of the country and western allies of the Ukrainian government “have been covering up the crimes of the Kyiv regime”.

Security council action against Russia is vastly unlikely, given Russia’s veto power.

Here’s some more Ukraine-based reading, from Oliver Milman :

Related: How the gas industry capitalized on the Ukraine war to change Biden policy

Updated at 5.52pm BST

5.30pm BST

The day so far

The legal offensive against Donald Trump flared anew after a federal appeals court cleared the justice department to continue reviewing documents seized from Mar-a-Lago as it probes his potentially unlawful retention of government secrets. Meanwhile, a slew of new polls show tights races in battleground states like Georgia and Arizona , Americans fired up to vote nationwide and Democrats with a slight lead on the generic congressional ballot .

Here’s what else has happened so far:

  • Ginni Thomas , the wife of rightwing supreme court justice Clarence Thomas and a supporter of efforts to keep Joe Biden from getting into the White House, will speak to the January 6 committee .

  • There appear to be enough votes for the Senate to pass a bill to prevent the type of legal schemes Trump’s allies tried to execute on January 6 to stop the certification of Biden’s election win.

  • The Manhattan attorney general said his investigation into Trump and his organization is continuing.

5.14pm BST

The race to be the next governor of Arizona is shaping up to be a nailbiter, according to a new survey from AARP Arizona.

The poll found Democrat Katie Hobbs and Republican Kari Lake in a statistical tie at 49% and 48% respectively, with just 3% of voters in the southwest battleground state undecided.

Among Arizonans aged 50 and over, who make up an estimated 60% of the state’s electorate, Lake narrowly leads Hobbs, 50% to 48%, respectively. Among political independents, who comprise roughly one third of voters in the state, Hobbs holds a 4-point edge.

The picture is slightly brighter for Democrats in the state’s competitive senate race, where incumbent Mark Kelly leads his Republican challenger, Blake Masters, by 8-points.

5.00pm BST

A Republican senator wants to seize on Joe Biden’s recent statement that the “pandemic is over” to pass a resolution ending the national emergency declared to combat Covid-19, The Wall Street Journal reports .

The resolution to be proposed by Roger Marshall of Kansas would end the state of emergency that the administration has used to justify suspending student loans repayments and some procedures at international borders, among other uses.

A previous attempt to end the declaration passed the Senate in March but went nowhere in the House. Both chambers are narrowly led by Democrats, but the White House promised then to veto the measure, if it made it to Biden’s desk.

Related: Biden says Covid ‘pandemic is over’, despite US daily death toll in the hundreds

4.41pm BST

Back to the polls, Monmouth University has a new one on Georgia’s governorship race that shows Democratic challenger Stacy Abrams with a narrower path to victory but more dedicated support base than the Republican incumbent Brian Kemp as she again challenges him for the job.

The race is among the more high-profile gubernatorial contests to be decided in the 8 November midterms, and could make Abrams Georgia’s first Black and first female governor if elected. Kemp, meanwhile, is known for resisting Donald Trump ’s efforts to overturn the results of Joe Biden ’s election win there in 2020, though has backed a strict voting law .

According to Monmouth , 34% will definitely and 15% will probably back Kemp, against Abrams’ slightly worse 33% definite support and 12% probable support. Kemp is also viewed more favorably at 54%, versus Abrams’s 48% favorability.

However, Democrats are more fired up for Abrams than Republicans are for Kemp. Monmouth finds that 83% of Democrats will definitely vote for Abrams versus 73% of GOP voters for Kemp – perhaps a consequence of his clashes with Trump.

“Some election conspiracists may still hold a grudge against Kemp for not stepping in to overturn the 2020 result, but it’s unlikely to cost him much support. They may not be enthusiastic, but they’ll still vote for him over Abrams,” Patrick Murray , director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said.

4.22pm BST

The judge who had initially blocked the justice department from reviewing the documents seized from Mar-a-Lago and ordered a special master to weed out privileged materials has revised her ruling, Politico reports.

Federal judge Aileen Cannon ’s changes come after an appeals court overturned the part of her opinion that had halted the government’s review of the documents taken from Donald Trump ’s resort, hampering the investigation into whether the former president took government secrets with him when he left the White House.

Here’s more from Politico:

4.01pm BST

On the topic of January 6, the committee investigating the attack has reached an agreement to hear the testimony of Virginia Thomas, the wife of supreme court justice Clarence Thomas and a supporter of efforts to keep Joe Biden from taking office despite his election win:

Conservative activist Virginia Thomas, the wife of supreme court justice Clarence Thomas , has agreed to participate in a voluntary interview with the House panel investigating the January 6 insurrection, her lawyer said Wednesday.

Attorney Mark Paoletta said Thomas is “eager to answer the committee’s questions to clear up any misconceptions about her work relating to the 2020 election”.

The committee has sought an interview with Thomas in an effort to know more about her role in trying to help former president Donald Trump overturn his election defeat. She texted with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and contacted lawmakers in Arizona and Wisconsin in the weeks after the election and before the insurrection.

Related: Virginia Thomas agrees to interview with House January 6 panel

3.47pm BST

Bill to thwart another January 6 appears to have support to pass Senate

A Republican senator announced today he would support an effort to change the United States’ electoral law and prevent the sort legal plot attempted on January 6 to stop Joe Biden from taking office, potentially giving the measure enough votes to pass the Senate.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Pennsylvania senator Pat Toomey will vote for the chamber’s version of the legislation amending the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which allies of Donald Trump tried to use loopholes in to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s election win when it convened on 6 January, 2021.

“The poor drafting of the 1887 Electoral Count Act endangered the transition of power from one administration to the next. Unfortunately, in the over 100 intervening years, individual Democratic and Republican members of Congress have occasionally attempted to exploit the ambiguities in this law to cast doubt on the validity of our elections, culminating in the debacle of January 6, 2021,” Toomey said in a statement to the Inquirer.

“It is past time Congress act.”

With the support of Toomey, who will retire from his post at the end of the year, the Inquirer reports that the bill appears to have enough support to pass the Senate and avoid a filibuster. Yesterday, the House passed its own version of the legislation .

Pennsylvania was one of the states where Trump’s allies attempted to orchestrate the overturning of its election results in favor of Biden. In August, Scott Perry , a congressman representing the state who had asked Trump for a preemptive pardon after January 6, had his cellphone seized by the FBI .

Related: Bipartisan Senate group reaches deal to reform Electoral Count Act

3.29pm BST

Elsewhere in Congress, Republican senator Ted Cruz voted against a spending bill that paid for a new highway, but took credit for it anyway, as Martin Pengelly reports:

The Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz called a new highway project “a great bipartisan victory” that will bring “jobs to Texas and millions of dollars to the state”.

The White House responded : “Senator Cruz voted against this.”

A spokesperson for Cruz said the senator “made it possible” – but did not contest that Cruz voted against the $1.5tn spending package which contained the highway project.

With Ben Ray Luján, a New Mexico Democrat, Cruz co-sponsored an amendment adding the Ports to Plains highway project to the spending bill earlier this year.

Related: White House says Ted Cruz voted against highway project he touted as ‘victory’

3.12pm BST

Two new gauges of the national mood ahead of the 8 November midterm elections were released this morning. Let’s take a look at them.

First, there’s NBC News , which crunched the numbers on voter enthusiasm from both this year and midterm and presidential elections past to conclude that Americans are particularly fired up to go to the polls. The network found in their most recent survey that 64% were respondents expressed high enthusiasm for the elections. That’s up from the 58% two months before the 2018 midterms, when Democrats routed Republicans and took the House, or the 53% in 2010, when the GOP did the same to Democrats. Given those numbers, NBC predicts record turnout for this year’s vote.

Meanwhile, CNN has done a poll of polls – an aggregation of the four most recent national polls – to find that Democrats have a three-point edge in the generic congressional ballot:

2.53pm BST

Meanwhile, Hugo Lowell has a dive in the unique implications of the lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general against Donald Trump and his children yesterday, which, if successful, could take the Trump Organization out of his personal control:

Penalties being sought in Read more – THE GUARDIAN

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