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Trump turns his legal battle after FBI search into political rallying cry – CNN

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(CNN)Donald Trump’s new lawsuit over the FBI search of his Florida resort codifies his political fury into a legal strategy and implicitly spells out how the ex-President intends to exploit the drama as a springboard for his likely 2024 White House bid.

Trump’s legal team on Monday asked a federal judge to appoint a “special master” to ensure the Justice Department returns any private documents taken from his residence, maintaining that his constitutional rights were violated.
The request for a special master — an independent legal official — is not a surprising one, and may well be granted in such a case. It is a move that can be used to ensure that legally privileged or other similar documents collected by investigators are not drawn unnecessarily or unfairly into an ongoing case.
But in many other ways, Trump’s filing — the most concrete and aggressive formal legal move in the case so far — is a classic of its genre. It fits squarely into the ex-President’s history of using the legal system to delay, distract, distort and politicize accusations against him, a strategy that has often worked well to spare or postpone serious accountability. And it is also a characteristic example of how the former President often mixes and matches political and legal strategies when he comes under investigation.
While the motion is a formal legal document, it serves as a political roadmap that explains how Trump would style himself as a presidential candidate persecuted, as he sees it, for partisan reasons by the Biden administration. It’s also offers 27 pages of talking points for Trump’s GOP allies and serves to take the focus away from the core questions in the case: did he illegally and recklessly keep classified information and government secrets to which he was not entitled and which could put national security as risk? And did Trump or those around him try to obstruct the investigators from continuing their pursuit?
The gambit also once again underscores the extraordinarily sensitive stakes of the investigation and the political hornet’s nest disturbed by the Justice Department in going ahead with the search of Trump’s home. Such an operation at the home of any former president would be a deeply serious undertaking. The involvement of Trump — who’s nursing a false grievance over his exit from power, who knows how to turn attempts to hold him to account into fundraising ammunition and who has incited violence — means the current case is one of the most serious in the DOJ’s modern history. This reality appears to put even more of an onus on the department to explain and justify its actions and to provide the maximum amount of transparency possible to the public.
But it also underscores yet another truism of Trump’s career in politics — the simple act of investigating him inevitably exposes the institutions set up to constrain presidents and enforce the law to a backlash that leaves them politicized and often illegitimate in the eyes of his millions of supporters.
Trump’s loyalists have likewise tried to discredit probes of the January 6, 2021, insurrection. There were new signs on Monday that the DOJ’s separate investigation into events surrounding that day are ramping up when CNN reported exclusively that the department issued a fresh subpoena to the National Archives — another development that could be troublesome for the former President and deepen his legal quagmire.

New legal clashes loom

Trump’s move in the escalating showdown stirs the legal pot ahead of a Thursday deadline for the DOJ to provide the judge in the case with redactions in an underlying sealed affidavit that sets out detailed reasons for the search of Trump’s residence two weeks ago and the material that FBI agents expected to find there.
Judge Bruce Reinhart, meanwhile, wrote in an order on Monday that he was satisfied that the facts in the affidavit are “reliable” and that while he understood calls for transparency, agreed that the Justice Department has genuine reasons, including the need to protect witnesses, for stopping the disclosure of information in the document.
The ostensible purpose of Trump’s filing is to secure the appointment of a special master in the case. CNN legal analyst Elie Honig said that the request appeared on its face to be fair under the circumstances.
“I think Donald Trump has a fairly good chance of prevailing,” Honig said on “The Lead with Jake Tapper” on Monday. “It’s a reasonable request. It’s actually not unprecedented.”
If material is discovered that is subject to attorney-client privilege or executive privilege, the special master could ensure that it is not passed on to prosecutors.
Still, the move could also be seen as a way to delay the case against Trump, and to push it further into campaign season — ahead of November’s midterm elections and the already stirring 2024 presidential race — and make it easier for the former President to cement the impression that he is being targeted for political reasons. On the other hand, the government has already had the documents for two weeks and the ex-President’s legal team has not previously made such a request.
Parts of the motion filed by Trump’s team on Monday bore all the hallmarks of a document either prepared for, or with, the ex-President’s predilections in mind. It was far more lively than a typically dry legal motion. It seemed at times an attempt to troll the legal system and even adopted a boastful tone in describing Mar-a-Lago, lauding it as a “historic landmark” with 58 bedrooms, 33 bathrooms, on 17 acres and bearing a name that means “sea to lake.”
The filing opened with a statement that “politics cannot be allowed to impact the administration of justice” — a claim that came with considerable chutzpah since Trump was often accused in office of politicizing the Department of Justice.
It went on to state that “President Donald J. Trump is the clear frontrunner in the 2024 Republican Presidential primary and in the 2024 General Election should he decide to run. Beyond that his endorsement in the 2022 mid-term primary elections has been decisive for Republican candidates.”
Trump’s team then put his complaints about the search, previously delivered on social media, into a formal legal framework with the words: “Law enforcement is a shield that protects Americans. It cannot be used as a weapon for political purposes.”
There is a clear implication in the document that Trump, as a former president or as a potential 2024 presidential candidate, should not have been subjected to such a search. If this standard were adopted, it would offer potential impunity to anyone involved in politics. The Trump team’s implicit argument is also consistent with the belief, which he showed throughout his presidency, that he had special status that made him immune from the widely understood constraints of the law.

Trump leverages legal case to seek political opportunity

In legal terms, the search of his residence could be disastrous for the former President if it emerges that he broke laws, especially on the handling of the most sensitive national security material. It is not possible to know from the limited material available publicly how any case against him might turn out. But Trump has left little doubt that he sees the search as a massive political opportunity. And he’s leveraged the moment to effectively force potential GOP presidential primary rivals to step in behind him and condemn it.
As Trump has throughout his time in politics, the legal filing from his team appeared to take considerable liberties with the facts of the FBI search and the process that led up to it. It blamed the bureau’s “shockingly aggressive move” that it said came with “with no understanding of the distress that it would cause most Americans.” That half-line is characteristic Trumpian exaggeration.
The document goes on to argue that the ex-President offered extraordinary and cordial cooperation with the National Archives and the FBI. But it also overlooks the fact that the search went ahead on the basis of a warrant approved by judge on the grounds that a probable crime had been committed.
The arguments in the filing also seem to conflict with other publicly known aspects about the government’s approach — including requests by the National Archives for the return of documents, the DOJ’s involvement, a subpoena that was served on Trump for the material and the fact that agents still did not get what they wanted when they visited the former President at the property before they sought a search warrant. Not to mention that, according to CNN and New York Times reports, a lawyer for Trump told investigators in writing that no classified records were left at Mar-a-Lago after June. The FBI said in an inventory list at the end of its search that there were additional classified documents retrieved.
The motion also contains yet another classic Trump flourish.
It reveals that on August 11, 2022, counsel for Trump spoke with one of the lead officials in the case, Jay Bratt, the chief of the counterintelligence section in the DOJ’s national security division. The message was intended for Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“President Trump wants the Attorney General to know that he has been hearing from people all over the country about the raid. If there was one word to describe their mood — it is ‘angry.’ The heat is building up. The pressure is building up. Whatever I can do to take the heat down, to bring the pressure down, just let us know.”
This statement is remarkable since it was Trump who announced the search of his resort. And he used his social media network to initiate a backlash among his followers and to deliver a political dividend.
The message comes across as an implicit threat — about the consequences of investigating the former President — that is chilling in the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection. The approach also recalls previous Trump efforts to contact, and possibly influence, authorities who are investigating him. His attempt to co-opt former FBI Director James Comey during the Russia investigation, whom he later fired, comes to mind.
Trump’s new lawsuit could succeed in advancing some of his legal goals — such as they are. But it’s a reminder of the legal and political ordeal that the country faces with an investigation into a combative and angry former president who is also showing every sign of weaponizing it to bolster his 2024 election bid.

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Politics Briefing: Trudeau announces diplomat Jennifer May will be ambassador to China – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that diplomat Jennifer May will take over as ambassador to China with a mandate to speak out on human rights abuses while pursuing trade with the world’s second-biggest economy.

“A dedicated public servant, Ms. May’s many years of diverse experience on international missions, and her deep understanding of Asia, will serve to manage this important bilateral relationship and advance Canada’s interest in China,” Mr. Trudeau said Friday.

While the last two ambassadors – former cabinet minister John McCallum and business executive Dominic Barton – soft-pedalled China’s human rights abuses, the Prime Minister’s Office said Mr. Trudeau expects Ms. May to use her envoy posting to highlight the importance of the rule of law and respect for human rights.

Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reports here.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

POILIEVRE VS. TRUDEAU – In his first opportunity to question Justin Trudeau since winning the Conservative Party leadership, Pierre Poilievre this week repeated his calls for a federal payroll tax freeze and chided the Prime Minister for choosing international travel over House of Commons attendance. Story here.

BRIAN MULRONEY’S DINNER WITH PIERRE POILIEVRE – Pierre Poilievre must make an appeal to Canada’s political centre if he wants to win government, former prime minister Brian Mulroney says he told the new Conservative Leader this week over dinner. Story here.

OILS SANDS COMPANIES FALL SHORT ON CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION: ANALYSIS – Canadian oil sands companies have done little to follow through on their public pledges to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, despite raking in historic profits in 2022, a new analysis shows. Story here.

QUEBEC ELECTION – Quebec’s four opposition party leaders attacked Coalition Avenir Québec Leader François Legault on the environment, the cost of living and his management of the economy in the last debate of the election campaign Thursday, leaving Mr. Legault on the defensive. Story here. The debate, with English translation, is here on CPAC. Quebec Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade posted a tweet on her preparation for the proceedings here. Meanwhile, on Friday, Parti Québécois Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon said he is pausing his campaign after developing flu-like symptoms. Story here.

ONTARIO REPORTS SURPLUS – Ontario says it took in 20 per cent more revenue than anticipated last year, wiping out what it had predicted would be a $13.5-billion deficit and replacing it with a “temporary” surplus of $2.1-billion. Story here.

JURISDICTIONAL HURDLES COMPLICATE FEDERAL GUN ACTION – Federal agencies are trying to boost efforts to trace the origins of guns used in crimes, but it appears jurisdictional hurdles could prevent the measures from going as far as some would like. Story here.

LAST COUNCIL MEETING FOR WINNIPEG MAYOR – Brian Bowman bid an emotional farewell to his council colleagues on Thursday, during his last meeting as Winnipeg’s mayor. Story here from CBC.

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, Sept. 23, accessible here.

JOLY TO VISIT SOUTH KOREA – As South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-Yeol visited Ottawa on Friday, a senior official revealed Canada’s Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly will visit Seoul next month. The disclosure, according to a Canadian Press pool report, came as the president met with Governor-General Mary Simon at Rideau Hall.

SEAL SUMMIT SET FOR NOVEMBER – Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray has announced a Seal Summit for Nov. 8 and 9 in St. John’s that will involve parties such as the Indigenous community, commercial fishing industry and provincial and territorial representatives to talk about issues including fisheries science and management, and developing new products and diversifying markets for seal and seal products.

THE DECIBEL

On Friday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, senior foreign correspondent Mark MacKinnon discusses what is happening in Russia where President Vladimir Putin called up 300,000 reservists in a partial mobilization for the war in Ukraine. That sparked protests in several cities in Russia, and a flood of people trying to leave the country. Mr. MacKinnon talks about what the repercussions of Putin’s escalation might be, and what it means for the broader conflict. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Ottawa, visited a local school to mark Rosh Hashanah with students, and then, with Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, hosted a luncheon for visiting South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, and Mrs. Kim Keon-hee. The Prime Minister then held a meeting with the South Korean President. Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne participated. Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Yoon were then scheduled to hold a joint media availability.

LEADERS

No schedules released for party leaders.

OPINION

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how the best way to help Canada’s overwhelmed health care system is to get your COVID-19 booster shot: ”Canada needs to rediscover the drive that made its earlier vaccine campaigns so successful, especially among the most vulnerable – namely, older Canadians. British Columbia took a stab at it when it announced it intends to deliver 280,000 booster shots per week this fall. Every other province needs to be at least as ambitious. There are enough boosters to go around. Ottawa said Moderna is shipping 10.5 million doses of its bivalent vaccine to Canada just this month, and Moderna and Pfizer are close to submitting even newer formulations for approval from Health Canada. Canada also has plenty of first-generation shots for the nearly one in 10 adults who never got the original two-shot series. Let’s get back to the time when Canada led the world. Every Canadian who gets vaccinated or boosted this fall reduces the number of people likely to end up in our crowded hospitals. It’s not complicated.”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on how giving MPs more meaningful work might lead to more civility in Parliament: “I can think of a hundred things wrong with Parliament, and heckling wouldn’t even make the list. Nor, for that matter, would incivility, at least between MPs. We pay politicians for much the same reason we pay wrestlers, to act out a relatively harmless pantomime of combat for the rest of us. Parliament exists as a forum, with all of its quaint rules and customs, not to deny social conflict but to contain and channel it, to express our antagonisms in stylized form.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how the first salvo between Pierre Poilievre, Justin Trudeau proves pair will be formidable opponents in Parliament: “In June, 2014, Ray Novak, Mr. Harper’s chief of staff, confronted the Conservative prime minister with a choice: either declare now that he was staying to fight a fourth election, or step aside for someone else. Mr. Harper, who could not abide the thought of another Trudeau leading the country, decided to stay and fight. He shouldn’t have. Mr. Trudeau must know the odds are against him. Yet he must also believe that Mr. Poilievre is a threat to the country. He may have convinced himself that he and no one else can stop the new Conservative Leader from becoming prime minister. He may be right. And if he’s wrong, he won’t be the first politician to make that mistake.”

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on why Pierre Poilievre doesn’t seem to care about climate change: “It’s easy to tell people what they want to hear on the campaign trail – to tell Albertans that you will boost oil production, even if it damns the climate. But Mr. Poilievre needs to be aware that a majority of Canadians will never support such an irresponsible position when the fate of the world is at stake. The Conservatives need to get serious about climate change, or accept losing elections as a general rule.”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on why the federal Liberals should be worried if Justin Trudeau stays: “For the first time as Prime Minister, Mr. Trudeau faces a Leader of the Official Opposition who possesses communication skills that rival his own. Mr. Trudeau benefited from comparisons with previous Conservative Party leaders Andrew Scheer and Erin O’Toole, neither of whom could hold an audience. In Mr. Poilievre, he faces an opponent who can draw a crowd. That has to be a major cause for concern in Liberal ranks. Mr. Trudeau won three consecutive federal elections against Tory leaders who were relatively weak or, in the case of former prime minister Stephen Harper, irretrievably weakened. After seven years in power, and a series of scandals on par with those of Mr. Harper’s government, Mr. Trudeau’s own popularity has plummeted.”

Tara McGuire (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how the drug overdose crisis is everyone’s problem: “In the years since Holden died, I have been extremely fortunate to receive an education. I read widely about the opioid crisis and absorbed as much as I could about how to become a writer. During that time, I wrote a book that I very much did not want to write. I considered trashing it many times, which would have been so much easier. But if I bailed, if I didn’t open up about Holden’s struggle and what his death has taught me, then I’d be just another person not talking about it. I’d be another person quietly perpetuating the stigma and shame that come along with substance use and misuse and their often-tragic ramifications.”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop.

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Pandemic protesters try making leap to politics in Manitoba's civic, school board races – CBC.ca

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Fierce opposition to COVID-19 measures is reverberating through Manitoba’s upcoming municipal and school board elections. 

It’s believed at least a dozen people on ballots in October are vocal critics of pandemic-era restrictions, some of whom gained widespread notoriety for their dissent.

Dick Eastland said running for a school board seat wasn’t something he seriously considered before the pandemic. He said discussions with others who rallied against the restrictions and vaccine mandates changed his mind.

“We have been talking about this a lot privately from person-to-person and trying to inspire each other, to show some strength,” he said.

“For a lot of people, they’re getting completely out of their comfort zone.”

Dick Eastland said too many school trustees hold the same views and he’s running for office to present a common-sense perspective. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

This includes Eastland, whose own kids are out of school.

“There’s no reason for me to do this, except that I strongly believe that a lot of people felt helpless when it came to masking their children or vaccinating them.”

Eastland, who is looking to represent Ward 1 in the Pembina Trails School Division in Winnipeg, argues the current trustees are too willing to go along with the crowd rather than thinking for themselves. He wouldn’t be afraid to chart his own path, he said.

“My reputation isn’t at stake here,” Eastland said. “Me battling for families that are maybe getting run over by the machine, so to speak, that’s who I’m here for.”

Karl Krebs, who failed to turn Winkler, Man., into a sanctuary city immune from pandemic restrictions, actively encouraged like-minded people to run for office.

He told a restaurant full of his supporters in August that if enough of their people run, “this will be a memorable moment in the history book of Manitoba,” an online video shows. 

He’s one of two people seeking to become mayor of the Winkler. Krebs will face Henry Siemens, a longtime councillor.

Karl Krebs, organizer of the Things That Matter movement that has fought against pandemic restrictions, is running to be mayor of Winkler. (Karen Pauls/CBC)

In an interview on Friday, Krebs said he hopes his own decision to seek office, and subsequent appeals to others, had the desired effect.

“We’re all in this to bring about change that will bring us back to where we were,” Krebs said. “Nobody is looking for a different community other than the one that we had two years ago, and that’s what’s been affected. We’ve seen the effects of mandates on businesses. We’ve seen the effects of promoting medical choices that people are not comfortable making.”

Krebs said one person he encouraged to run is his “good friend” Don Bouchard, who’s challenging councillor Jim Funk to serve as reeve of the RM of Hanover. 

Bouchard attended rallies with convoy protest supporters where he’s done ministry and performed baptisms.

He said what’s broken in society is this tendency to believe there’s only one opinion, and other perspectives are wrong.

“People are allowed to be angry. They’re allowed to think differently. And if I’m offended, I have the problem.”

‘If I do get elected … things could happen’

Angela Anderson Johnson, who is among nine nominees vying for a single seat in Ward 5 of the Winnipeg School Division board, said she’s been branded online as an opponent of COVID measures and she’s been bombarded with critical comments since her name was listed on the ballot.

She said those remarks have empowered her.

“I can go to all the rallies and listen to them … but it’s not doing anything, right? Nothing’s changing. So I think if I do get elected to be a school trustee, I think things could happen.”

Four people, three men and one woman, stand in front of a large office building with hands holding microphones and cellphones in the foreground.
From left to right, Gerald Bohemier, Todd McDougall, Patrick Allard and Sharon Vickner, along with co-defendant Tobias Tissen, all received fines ranging from more than $14,200 to nearly $35,000 for violating pandemic health restrictions. (CBC)

Todd McDougall is one of the five people convicted this summer for repeatedly violating COVID-19 public health orders.

He’s been part of discussions with friends and other supporters about seeking elected office, he said.

McDougall knows he’s garnered a reputation for his views on COVID-19, but said he doesn’t want voters in Ward 2 of the Pembina Trails School Division to “pigeonhole” him as a one-issue candidate. Three of the four hopefuls in that race will be elected.

He wants discussions with voters to be about “what’s happening in education right now,” McDougall said.

He hopes people afford that same opportunity to all candidates that may be portrayed as having fringe views.

Like him, Patrick Allard, who was also charged in court for flouting pandemic rules, wants more transparency on school board decisions and more opportunities for parents to have their say.

Allard is one of three people vying to become a trustee in Ward 8 in the Winnipeg School Division.

Patrick Allard, an opponent of COVID-19 restrictions who has been fined because he hasn’t adhered to public health orders, encourages people of varying viewpoints to seek public office. (CBC/Radio-Canada)

He’s happily encouraged people to run for office on social media, he said, but denies targeting a certain group of anti-mandate protesters with his messaging. If you’re frustrated with those in public office, you should get involved, he said.

“I was always told when I was young, ‘If you don’t like the laws, run for office and change them.'”

Christopher Adams, an adjunct professor of political studies at the University of Manitoba, said the path from protests to politics is well-travelled, no matter which end of the political spectrum they occupy.

“I think many people [who protested COVID measures] “got a taste of how enjoyable it was to be part of the media spotlight and to be in groups talking about issues of importance to them,” Adams said.

“It’s not surprising that these individuals would come forward and be part of a local campaign,” Adams said.

He added some of these candidates may not seriously think they can win. Meanwhile, those individuals hoping to gain power may have a better shot at school board elections, since they don’t generally garner much attention and any incumbents do not have much name recognition. 

Election day is on Oct. 26.

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Politics Podcast: Is Social Media Turning Us Into Political Extremists? – FiveThirtyEight

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FiveThirtyEight

 

What effect is social media having on our politics and society more broadly? According to critics, we’re living through an unregulated era of social media that will one day look as outdated as tobacco did in its pre-regulation era.

In his new book, “The Chaos Machine: The Inside Story of How Social Media Rewired Our Minds and Our World” New York Times reporter Max Fisher explores how social media impacts the psychology of its users and changes how people think, behave and communicate.

In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, Galen Druke talks to Fisher about his book and why he believes this is leading to social and political crises in the U.S. and around the world.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

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