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Trump Judge Aileen Cannon Will Oversee Classified Documents Case

Aileen Cannon has a history of delivering wins for Team Trump.

Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The judge initially assigned to oversee Donald Trump’s latest indictment lawsuit has a history of cutting him major breaks in the exact same case.

The court summons sent to Trump and his legal team Thursday shows that U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon will initially oversee the case. Trump appointed Cannon to the bench in 2020.

Although many may have forgotten her name, Cannon received nationwide scrutiny at the start of the investigation into Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents. Following the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago, and upset with how things were going, Trump filed a made-up motion titled a “Motion for Judicial Oversight and Additional Relief.”

Cannon agreed to hear the motion, despite having no jurisdiction to do so, and ultimately assigned a “special master” to review all of the material the FBI found at Mar-a-Lago before the investigation could proceed—a victory for Team Trump.

The Justice Department appealed the decision, and the Eleventh Circuit Court ultimately ruled that neither Cannon nor Trump had had any legal right for their actions. The appeals court threw Cannon’s decision out entirely.

As The New Republic’s Matt Ford previously explained,

Much of the panel’s analysis is aimed at Trump’s specific arguments before it, but there is also a palpable disdain for Cannon’s handling of the case to this point. At every point possible, the Eleventh Circuit highlighted the shortcomings in her analysis of precedent, the limited scope of her inquiries on factual matters, and the perfunctory way in which she applied the appropriate legal tests—all of which happened to tilt things in Trump’s favor. By their very nature, appeals courts often criticize rulings made by lower court judges. Even by these standards and expectations, the panel took great pains to make it unusually clear that Cannon had not just made a few simple mistakes.

This time around, Trump’s case would still be heard by a jury, but Cannon would get to determine Trump’s sentence. If she does oversee the case again, there’s no telling what breaks she’ll give Trump this time around.

Read more about Cannon and her “reign of error” here.

Republicans Lash Out After Trump Indictment: “We Have Now Reached a War Phase”

Republicans are doubling down on their defense of Donald Trump.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy
Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy

Twice-impeached, criminally indicted, and liable for sexual abuse former President Donald Trump has been indicted once again, this time for taking classified documents away from the White House and refusing to give them back.

The unsealed indictment held many damning revelations, from Trump being “personally involved” in packing up boxes full of classified information as he left the White House, to flaunting the secret documents to staffers, a publisher and writer, and even a representative of his PAC.

Showing off one classified document from the Department of Defense, he called it “highly confidential” and “secret,” adding, “As president I could have declassified it,” and, “Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.”

And despite all that, prominent Republicans have been quadrupling down—violently—on defending the man that has helped lead them lose election after election.

“We have now reached a war phase,” Representative Andy Biggs tweeted Friday. “Eye for an eye,” he added, ignoring that a Florida grand jury decided on its own accord to indict the former president.

“These are just thugs that are going after President Trump,” Representative Tim Burchett followed, technically calling the jury of Trump’s peers the pejorative. “Now granted, he’s not perfect. He shouldn’t have had the files. I get that. But neither should Clinton. Neither should Reagan. Neither should either Bush. Neither should Obama and definitely not Biden, but they all do, and they all have.” Nothing has indicated that every single former president or vice president has taken classified documents out of the White House upon departure; those who have been found, including Mike Pence and President Biden, have promptly returned any documents found. Which Trump actively chose not to do.

Senator Mike Lee did not even engage one ounce with the charges, instead saying, “The Biden administration’s actions can only be compared to the type of oppressive tactics routeinly seen in nations such as Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua, which are absolutely alien and unacceptable in America.” According to Lee, holding a former president accountable for holding secret documents and actively taking steps to hide them somehow “echoes despotism, making it fundamentally at odds with American democratic values.”

(At least to the last part, Lee is not entirely wrong: it is fundamentally at odds with American history to hold presidents accountable for their crimes—from Iran Contra, to our laundry list of war crimes and military invasions, to sexual harassment.)

“Today is indeed a dark day for the United States of America,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on Twitter before the indictment was even unsealed. “It is unconscionable for a President to indict the leading candidate opposing him. Joe Biden kept classified documents for decades. I, and every American who believes in the rule of law, stand with President Trump against this grave injustice. House Republicans will hold this brazen weaponization of power accountable,” he finished, assuring that there is no doubt: the Republican Party is planting its flag in supporting a man already found guilty of other crimes.

Ohio Senator J.D. Vance followed suit, saying the indictment is somehow Biden “using the justice system to preemptively steal the 2024 election,” in order to attack “his most likely 2024 opponent.” A wild suggestion given the basic fact that a grand jury of Americans voted to indict Trump, not Biden.

Nancy Mace pretended to not even be aware of a recording of Trump admitting that he knew the documents were classified and that he couldn’t declassify them, immediately pivoting instead to talking about Biden and Pence, who, again, both complied with returning documents upon discovery.

And, of course, the right’s attempts to already peddle theories about Biden stealing an election are dangerous, given so many of their own most prominent figures were caught red-handed trying to overturn the 2020 election.

“We’re living in a 3rd world Banana Republic,” Donald Trump, Jr. said about a country holding someone accountable for taking classified documents, refusing to give them back, and then lying about it. If they can do it to you, they can do it to anyone, patriots.

And as far as general meltdowns go, Representative Clay Higgins may be in the deeper end.

Presented without comment.

This post has been updated.

Trump Just Blew a Big Hole in His Own Defense in Classified Docs Probe

A new recording shows Trump bragging about “secret” military information he hadn’t declassified.

Donald Trump
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump may have just destroyed his own defense, all because he couldn’t stop bragging.

Trump is now the first former president to be federally indicted, over his alleged mishandling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate. He has repeatedly insisted that all the material he brought to Florida was already declassified, and anyway, being president enabled him to declassify documents at will, including “just by thinking about it.”

But he knew better. In an audio recording of a July 2021 meeting, Trump admits that he had classified material and could not declassify it because he no longer holds office, CNN reported Friday.

Federal prosecutors obtained the recording, during which Trump says he held onto a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran. He met with two people working on an autobiography of his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, neither of whom had security clearance.

In the recording, Trump claims that he has a “big pile of papers” that undermine previous reports that chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley had convinced Trump not to attack Iran near the end of his presidency. Trump refers to one document as if he has it in front of him, and at one point there is the sound of paper rustling, as if he was showing the document off.

CNN was able to acquire a portion of the recording transcript, which shows Trump saying, “This totally wins my case, you know. Except it is, like, highly confidential. Secret. This is secret information.”

“As president, I could have declassified, but now I can’t,” he admits.

The meeting took place six months before Trump’s legal team sent 15 boxes of records and classified documents back to the National Archives, and more than a year before the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago, seizing more than 100 documents. Federal prosecutors have been unable to locate this particular Iran document.

Trump’s biggest defense is that he could declassify whatever material he wanted. His allies had previously argued that he had a “standing declassification order” that would immediately declassify any document removed from the Oval Office. Trump himself claimed he could declassify things “just by thinking about it.” But he knew it was all bunk—and he said so.

Twice impeached, now twice indicted, found liable for sexual abuse and defamation, sued for defamation twice more, and under investigation for trying to overturn the 2020 election.… It’s not looking pretty.

The World Is on Fire, and Joe Manchin Still Doesn’t Think the Issue Is Climate Change

The West Virginia senator was asked directly about climate change and the wildfires, and his answer was infuriatingly obtuse.

Senator Joe Manchin
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
Senator Joe Manchin

On Thursday, conservative Senator and infamous fossil fuel baron Joe Manchin was asked about the northern wildfires that have left a third of America enveloped in health-threatening smog.

And Manchin answered in Manchin fashion, telling HuffPost reporter Igor Bobic that “everything is a factor” when asked whether climate change helps exacerbate wildfires. He parroted the conservative talking point that better management of forest lands is needed (true, but not even remotely enough to deal with the disasters we’re facing).

“Climate change is global climate... Most of the pollution today is coming from Asia,” Manchin added.

The notion is a common conservative talking point: Why should the United States curtail its emissions if China and India emit so much? The point is faulty for a few reasons, some logical, some philosophical.

For one, the United States emits a whopping 14.86 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per person. China’s is almost half that, at 8.05; India’s is even lower, at 1.93.

For another, whatever happened to the United States being a global leader? The castle on the hill? A driver of progress, a role model for other countries to aspire towards? It’s remarkable how a movement so fixated on patriotism, on flaunting supposed national excellency, is so quick to shrug off the possibility of whipping the world to collaborate together in pursuit of our basic common interest of the survival of the planet.

The obvious contradiction is similarly evident in the conservative ideology’s self-assured reverence of “responsibility.”

If members of the American conservative movement were fiscally responsible, they would identify the astronomical cost of environmental degradation, perennial disaster response, and wildlife, food, and water system devastation, and respond accordingly. If they were personally responsible, they would have the humility to identify the actors liable for such destruction, and excise them from power and influence—rather than just throwing blame to other countries. If they were interpersonally responsible, perhaps they’d get the stones to remove themselves from associating with such a movement that led us to today in the first place.

Manchin may pretend that his more conservative proclivities are some nod towards reasoned, thoughtful responsibility (as opposed to self-interest in how financially implicated he himself is in fossil fuels). But even with that self-purportion, there simply is no responsibility in the conservative movement, personally, or otherwise. Only a philosophy built on responsibility towards each other—those you know, and those you perhaps never will—will be sufficient to meet the challenges of the day.

Until such a day, the haze of our time will only grow thicker.

Smoke Is Fine, Longtime Tobacco and Coal Shill Assures Fox News Viewers

For reasons passing understanding, Steve Milloy has been invited to share his opinion on the East Coast's air quality crisis.

Smoke clouds a view of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
A view of the smoke-covered Capitol building as air quality fell to dangerous levels due to Canada's wildfires on June 8.

Is smoke okay or is it bad and also Canada’s fault? Those are a few of the weighty ideas Fox News has wrestled with over the last week in attempting to craft a response to the United States’ worst-ever day of wildfire pollution.

Wednesday night, Fox News host Laura Ingraham invited general-purpose reactionary Steve Milloy, whose career includes stints shilling for the tobacco and coal industry, to weigh in. “Look, the air is ugly, it’s unpleasant to breathe and for a lot of people they get anxiety over it,” Milloy said. “But the reality is just that there’s no health risk.”

“There’s nothing in them,” Milloy said of the haze still blanketing the East Coast. “They have no effect. EPA has all this testing on real-life human beings, it shows no effect. This is total junk science.” (Junk Science is also the name of his blog.)

If you look at the actual research, of course, a key problem with wildfire smoke is precisely those tiny particles (PM2.5) small enough to infiltrate lungs and even bloodstreams. As Jeva Lange reported for Heatmap, these can indeed be deadly:

The link between elevated PM2.5 particle concentrations and increased mortality can be dramatic. The aforementioned international study on wildfire-related PM2.5 and daily mortality found that “all-cause mortality” — that is, deaths that aren’t accidents — increases by 1.9%, cardiovascular mortality by 1.7%, and respiratory mortality by 1.9% with every bump of 10 micrograms of pollutant per one cubic meter of air. If New York’s PM2.5 concentration averages, say, 75 micrograms over three days this week (the concentration roughly expected for an average AQI of 150), that would mean people of all ages are 12% more likely to die than they otherwise would be. 

Armed with two Masters degrees and a J.D., Milloy has spent much of his career flitting around as a mercenary for whatever death-dealing industry will have him, defending the honor of various killer smogs. Milloy spent years working to amplify tobacco industry-friendly talking points that the harms of cigarette smoke were overblown. That included his time as executive director of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, or TASCC, which at one point sought to “assist Phillip Morris in its targeted state and national efforts” by “questioning the validity of scientific studies.” 

Milloy’s defense of tobacco smoke in some cases sounded a lot like his defense of wildfire smoke yesterday. While still getting funding from Philip Morris, Milloy wrote for Fox that secondhand smoke was simply “annoying to many nonsmokers. That is the essence of the controversy and where the debate should lie—the rights of smokers to smoke in public places versus the rights of nonsmokers to be free of tobacco smoke.” 

Like fellow travelers who defended cigarettes, Milloy has long since moved on to attacking climate science and policymaking. He’s spent no shortage of time proffering shareholder resolutions to get companies to stop talking about climate change. TASCC got $40,000 from ExxonMobil between 2000 and 2003. The company also gave $50,000 to the Free Enterprise Action Institute, another body registered to Milloy’s Maryland address, Mother Jones reported. He went on to serve on Donald Trump’s transition team, and since 2020 has been a member of the Heartland Institute’s Board of Directors.  

When I met him briefly at a Heartland conference in 2019, Milloy lamented that oil companies like ExxonMobil had gotten too scared to fund truth-telling climate skeptics like himself. As he once told The New Yorker, after all, “Wealth is what makes people happy, not pristine air, which you’ll never get.”

Bennie Thompson Lashes Out at Jan. 6 Text-Message Deleting Trump Administration Holdover

The former Jan. 6 committee chairman hasn’t stopped policing the insurrection beat.

Representative Bennie Thompson
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Representative Bennie Thompson

The January 6 committee may have closed up shop when the GOP took over the House, but that doesn’t mean that Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who was its chairman, has stopped scouring the landscape for targets. On Thursday, Thompson, the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, called on Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari to resign, citing deleting “business” texts on a government-issued phone and bungling an investigation into deleted Secret Service text messages.

Why would a Democrat go after an IG in a Democratic administration? Maybe because Cuffari is a Trump administration holdover whose resume includes a stint as a policy adviser to Republican Governors Jan Brewer and Doug Ducey of Arizona. Oh—and because the texts he deleted may have had to do with the whereabouts and movements of Secret Service agents on Jan. 6.

Last July, Cuffari admitted that the Secret Service, which currently falls under the purview of DHS, conspicuously deleted text messages on January 5 and January 6. Those messages would have been valuable to the Jan. 6 committee. Not long after Cuffari’s admission, members of Congress learned that Cuffari and his team actually knew that the texts were deleted—and had known for months, without notifying congressional investigators.

If anything, the call by Thompson and Congressman Glenn Ivey, the ranking member of the subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability, has been measured and reserved. It’s taken them this long to demand that someone else have Cuffari’s job despite the mounting evidence against the inspector general. Earlier this week Thompson and Ivey introduced the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Transparency Act aimed at addressing “years of troubling reports calling into question the quality, effectiveness, and transparency of the DHS Office of Inspector General’s oversight activities as well as its management,” according to a press release.

Keep in mind that this isn’t just any old inspector general job. DHS covers border security, immigration, the Secret Service, and cyber security, among other topics. Whoever runs oversight over that agency is in an enormously important and influential position. Cuffari’s tenure satisfied, to some extent, Donald Trump’s agenda. Thompson’s moves suggest that Cuffari’s conduct is still in line with the Trump administration’s values. Thus the push to get Cuffari out as soon as possible. 

“Your apparent violations of Federal criminal laws and your mishandling of key investigations within DHS have undermined any confidence in your ability to carry out your duties,” the two Democratic lawmakers wrote in a letter publicized on Thursday. “We must restore credibility to the OIG in order to have independent oversight and accountability within DHS. Your resignation is the necessary first step.”

It’s amazing it’s taken this long for Democrats to make these calls.

Did Tim Scott Intentionally Kill Police Reform So He Could Run for President?

The only Black Republican senator seemed worried about politics when he scuttled what could have been bipartisan legislation, a new book says.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

Tim Scott has positioned himself as the Republican most serious about police and civil rights reform. But it turns out he may have sabotaged a (very moderate) police reform bill he and Senator Booker worked on in 2021, perhaps in preparation to run for president.

The revelations come from Ben Terris’s new book The Big Break, in which he traces efforts between the two cross-the-aisle Black senators to work together and craft a police reform bill. In 2021, Scott’s office told Booker’s that if they could get some support from police organizations, they “would be able to get enough Republicans to pass the thing,” Terris writes. And soon, Senator Booker reached a police reform package that did indeed earn potential support from two police organizations—the Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police—so long as Republicans could agree to the same text they had seen.

Booker’s team took the bill to Scott’s office.

But shortly after Scott’s office received the bill, a copy was curiously leaked to the National Sheriffs’ Association. Then, Terris writes, “With the Sheriffs’ Association as a shield, Scott rejected the offer. Even though the bill would have added millions of dollars to police department budgets, he accused Democrats of wanting to ‘defund the police,’ something that almost no one in Congress had been saying for months.”

The turn of events came as a surprise to Booker’s team. “It made [them], and other Democrats, pretty sure that Scott hadn’t been serious about passing legislation for quite some time… In fact, there were some on Booker’s team who had come to believe that Scott didn’t want to have a police reform bill weighing him down if he ever decided to run for president.”

Scott’s office did not respond to The New Republic’s request for comment.

In 2020, Scott did introduce his own police reform bill, called the JUSTICE Act, crafted in the aftermath of the murders of George Floyd by Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin and Breonna Taylor by Louisville police officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankinson, and Myles Cosgrove.

That bill actually did threaten to defund the police, if local departments were found not to be compliant with policies like banning chokeholds, stopping no-knock warrants for drug cases, and eliminating racial profiling practices.

“Our bill says that we will defund the departments if they don’t ban chokeholds,” Scott said in a Facebook live event in June 2020.

The bill failed after it met opposition, in part because it didn’t deal with qualified immunity, which protects officers from being held accountable for violence or misconduct against the people they’re supposed to protect.

Fast forward years later, and police are indiscriminately arresting and even murdering people protesting police brutality and environmental degradation; killing a migrant worker who just wanted to finish his shift after being fired; and arresting journalists covering protests against the brutal murder of a homeless person.

Meanwhile, last month, Scott joined all his Republican colleagues, and eight Democrats and independents, in voting to overturn Washington, D.C.’s police reforms that would have banned chokeholds and made body camera footage of officer-caused deaths, or serious uses of officer force, more accessible to the public.

Such is the spineless legacy Scott apparently brings to his almost-certain-to-lose presidential campaign.

Pablo Manríquez contributed reporting to this story.

A Tough Question for Republicans: Investigate Child Labor—or Promote It?

The House seems to be passing on an opportunity to investigate a child labor scandal.

Representative Virginia Foxx
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House is taking a pass on probing a Biden administration child labor scandal. Here’s the reason why.

One of the more Gothic recent developments in the Republican Party is its positioning itself as the party of child labor. In February, The New York Times handed congressional Republicans, practically on a silver platter, a camera-ready Biden administration scandal: About 100 migrant children in 20 states “described [performing] jobs that were grinding them into exhaustion” in flagrant violation of child-labor laws. The Times followed up in April with a report blaming the situation on ineffective coordination between the Labor Department, the Health and Human Services Department, and the Biden White House. The Labor Department reported a 37 percent increase in child-labor violations in 2022. Surely House Republicans would set aside their investigations into various phony Biden administration scandals and shift their attention to this very real one.

It didn’t happen. It fell this week to the senior Democratic member of the House Education and Labor Committee, Bobby Scott, to write a letter to GOP committee chair Virginia Foxx urging her at long last to schedule a hearing on “the illegal employment of children in unsafe conditions.” Scott released the letter to the press Thursday afternoon.

Why won’t Foxx reach for this low-hanging fruit? Partly because, as Scott notes, it would spotlight inadequate funding for federal agencies like the Labor Department’s wage and hour division and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and Republicans prefer to starve those agencies. But mostly Foxx is resisting because Republicans are pressing hard at the state level to deregulate child labor. More than a dozen state legislatures have introduced such bills, and four statesNew Hampshire, Arkansas, New Jersey, and Iowa—have enacted them. That’s liable to come up in a congressional hearing on the scourge of child labor. Better to take a pass.

Trump Is Begging for a New Trial in E. Jean Carroll Case

The former president, found guilty of sexual abuse, is getting desperate.

James Devaney/GC Images

Donald Trump cannot accept that he was found liable for sexually abusing E. Jean Carroll, and on Thursday asked for a new trial in the decided case.

Trump was unanimously found liable in May for sexual abuse and battery against Carroll in the mid-1990s, and for defaming her in 2022 while denying the assault. He was ordered to pay her about $5 million in damages. Carroll has two more defamation lawsuits against Trump pending: one from 2019 and one from last month, after he bashed her during the CNN town hall.

Trump’s lawyers argued in court documents that he had been charged too much for damages. They said that the $2 million award for sexual abuse was “excessive” because the jury determined Carroll had not been raped and that his assault had not caused her any mental injury.

The lawyers also said the $2.7 million for defamation was “based on pure speculation.” They asked that the total damages either be reduced to $900,000 or that the judge grant an entirely new trial.

Carroll accused Trump in her 2019 memoir of raping her in the Manhattan Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s. She initially sued him twice for defamation: first in 2019, when he said she made up the rape allegation to promote her book, and again in November for posts he made about her on social media.

Carroll is not the only woman to accuse Trump of sexual assault, but her case was the first to make it to a courtroom. Trump continues to vehemently deny all of the allegations and launched fresh vitriol at Carroll during the disastrous CNN town hall last month. So Carroll sued him for defamation again.

Trump and his allies have repeatedly tried to thwart Carroll’s various lawsuits. Last week, a judge denied an attempt to throw out the 2019 defamation suit by Trump ally James H. Brady, who argued that the former president was being unfairly treated because he is a “white Christian.”

And on Monday, Trump and his legal team also requested that the 2019 suit be dismissed, arguing that he couldn’t have defamed Carroll then because he was technically telling the truth when he denied raping her.

Supreme Court Makes It Easier for Dems to Retake the House With Voting Rights Ruling

The court’s decision affects congressional district maps across the country, and a few Republicans are in big trouble.

Capitol building
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday that Alabama’s congressional district map discriminated against Black voters could have bigger implications for several Southern states—and could help Democrats retake the House in 2024.

The biggest change and most immediate impact, obviously, will be in Alabama. But a handful of other states where racially gerrymandered districts are facing legal challenges could also see a very different map in the coming election. That includes Louisiana, South Carolina, and Georgia—and may affect races beyond that.

Democrats currently have 212 seats in the House of Representatives, and they would only need to reclaim six to retake the majority in the chamber.


Alabama will have to redraw its map to create two majority-Black districts, which could set a precedent for rulings in the other states. There are seven congressional districts in the state, and six of them are held by Republicans.

Here are the Republican representatives who could be most in trouble from the redistricting:

  • Jerry Carl
  • Barry Moore
  • Mike Rogers


Georgia Democrats lost a seat to Republicans during the 2022 midterms after the state GOP redrew the 6th district to include more conservative, majority-white areas. A judge could rule later this year that the new map illegally dilutes the Black vote and needs to be redrawn. The Republicans who could be at stake are:

  • Barry Loudermilk
  • A. Drew Ferguson


The Supreme Court previously blocked a lower court’s ruling to redistrict Louisiana to include a second majority-Black district, until it could issue its Alabama ruling. And now that we have a decision on Alabama, Louisiana will likely also have to redraw its maps to stop diluting the Black vote. That means Republicans who might lose their seats are:

  • Garret Graves
  • Julia Letlow

South Carolina

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the challenge to a South Carolina court ordering the state to redraw its 1st district.

Good luck to Nancy Mace.