Mar-a-Lago papers: Special master questions Trump’s claims of declassification, “planted” evidence – National & International News – FRI 23Sep2022

A courtroom sketch of Judge Raymond Dearie. Dearie is serving as "special master" in the Mar-a-Lago papers case.
September 23rd, 2022     National & International News

 

Mar-a-Lago papers: Special master questions Trump’s claims of declassification, “planted” evidence. Fed’s inflation fighting will bring “pain”, increased unemployment. Iran struggles to contain protests after woman dies in “morality police” custody.

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Mar-a-Lago papers: Special master questions Trump’s claims of declassification, “planted” evidence

Judge Raymond Dearie, the semi-retired federal judge serving as “special master” in the Mar-a-Lago documents case, is adopting a put-up-or-shut-up stance on various claims by Trump and his attorneys in the case.

When Dearie met in a Brooklyn courtroom with attorneys for Trump and the Justice Department earlier this week, Dearie insisted that Trump’s attorneys provide their reasoning for the claim that Trump had declassified the over 100 documents seized from his home with confidential, secret and top secret labels. Trump’s team claimed they shouldn’t have to disclose their defense in case Trump was indicted. Dearie appeared unimpressed with this argument, telling Trump’s attorneys “You can’t have your cake and eat it”.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta simplified Dearie’s task somewhat on Wednesday. A three-judge panel (two Trump appointees and one Obama appointee) ruled that the classified documents should not be part of Dearie’s review. The court also reversed a decision by a lower court judge Aileen Cannon (another Trump appointee) barring DOJ from using the classified documents in their criminal investigation of Trump. 

Trump repeats claims FBI may have planted evidence

In an interview this week, Trump again insinuated that the FBI agents may have planted evidence when searching his home. Although Trump’s attorneys haven’t made this claim in court, where they’re under oath, Dearie called on the Trump team to catalog which of the documents in the DOJ’s list of seized property they believed were not at the home when the FBI conducted its search. Trump’s attorneys so far haven’t responded.

During that same interview, Trump also asserted a President could declassify documents just by thinking about it. While the President does have the power to declassify documents, there’s an extensive bureaucratic process required to do it. Neither Trump nor his attorneys have presented any evidence to show Trump even initiated this process while in office.

Dearie has ordered DOJ to provide him and Trump’s attorneys with electronic copies of the 11,000 non-classified documents seized from Trump’s home. Trump’s side then has until October 14 to declare which of the documents they believe are privileged along with a justification for that assertion.

Dearie has also enlisted retired judge James Orenstein to help with his review, and recommended a fee of $500 per hour for Orenstein’s work. As the plaintiff in the case, Trump’s team will have to pay these fees, which could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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Fed’s inflation fighting will bring “pain”, increased unemployment

This week, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell announced another 0.75% increase in short term interest rates. Ahead of this announcement, Powell bluntly stated that the Fed’s fight to curb stubborn inflation may nudge the US economy into a recession. This means slower growth, more unemployment. In remarks last month, Powell was pretty open about his view that unemployment was too low and needed to increase.

Unemployment is currently at its lowest point in years, which has given workers increased bargaining power. While some sectors have seen wage increases, they are not keeping up with inflation. Meanwhile, despite supply chain snags and a labor crunch, corporate profits are also at historic highs. Corporations have steadily increased prices at a rate that outpaces both inflation and wage growth. Some economists have termed this phenomenon “greedflation”

However, the Fed doesn’t have the power to combat corporate price gouging- that would take an act of Congress. The Fed’s interest rate hikes can only tackle the demand side drivers of inflation. Supply side drivers are likely to remain unchecked until consumers’ ability to keep up with ever increasing price hikes is exhausted.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Iran struggles to contain protests after woman dies in “morality police” custody

Last Friday, a 22-year-old Iranian woman named Mahsa Amini, died in the custody of the “morality police” in Tehran after she was arrested for not wearing her headscarf correctly. Authorities claim Amini suddenly went into a coma, but her family believe she was beaten by police and died as a result. Since then, protests have erupted in more than 80 cities across Iran. Women are publicly burning their head scarves in a show of defiance, while chanting “death to the dictator” or “I will kill the man who killed my sister”.

The authorities’ crackdown on the demonstrations has been fierce. Rights groups believe at least 31 people have died. Nevertheless, the protests continue to spread. In recent years, Iranians have periodically taken to the streets in great numbers to protest economic conditions as well as food and medicine shortages. Crackdowns on those protests were swift and brutal. Unlike previous cases, police actions have failed to quell the hijab protests.

Iran’s President, conservative hardliner Ebrahim Raisi has said that Amini’s death must be investigated. However, he’s made no statement decrying the routine oppression of the morality police.

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