Politics

The Hill’s Morning Report — What did FBI find at Mar-a-Lago?


Former President Trump is no stranger to high-stakes tangles over his records.

The FBI was inside his home on Monday, reportedly looking for classified presidential materials believed, with evidence presented to a judge, to have been withheld from the National Archives. After a battle, his federal tax records must be turned over to a House committee, a federal appeals court decided on Tuesday. 

And, according to a vividly hostile Trump social media message posted early this morning, the New York attorney general is deposing him under oath today as part of an investigation into alleged bank and tax fraud involving records and witnesses inside the Trump Organization (The New York Times).

The Associated Press: A look at the probes underway in different states and venues involving Trump.

“No person is above the law, not even the president of the United States, not even a former president of the United States,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Tuesday when asked about GOP objections to the FBI’s search inside Trump’s Florida home (NBC’s “Today”).

The former president and his supporters make a different case, arguing that the Justice Department, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and Democrats in the White House and in Congress are trying to use legal challenges to undermine the former president’s path to return to the Oval Office.

The New York Times: A long conflict about Trump’s compliance with presidential records requirements comes into public view following the FBI action.

The Associated Press: Did Trump break the law? 

The Hill: The Mar-a-Lago search makes clear that the attorney general is willing to investigate the former president.

The Hill: What we know about the search at Mar-a-Lago. 

The FBI’s search in Florida on Monday increased Trump’s potential legal exposure and could add to voters’ concerns about a third Trump presidential bid, but the eventual impact is murky. Trump has spent years criticizing the FBI and assailed the Justice Department as partisan. He has accused his opponents of pursuing a “witch hunt,” including those who impeached him twice and are investigating his actions related to the Capitol attacks on Jan. 6, 2021.

His supporters rallied behind the former president after news about the FBI’s action. 

“Trump just won the 2024 primary,” pro-Trump commentator Jack Posobiec declared (The Associated Press).

Some GOP advisers want the former president to speed up his 2024 campaign announcement to politically undercut foes in both parties (The Hill). Trump released a campaign-style video on his Truth Social platform in which he says, “The best is yet to come.” 

The Hill: Republicans press the Justice Department for information, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The New York Times: Republicans rally behind Trump, who reprises a favored role: victim.

Former Vice President Mike Pence said on Twitter that the FBI’s search of a former president’s residence “undermines public confidence in our system of justice.” He urged the Justice Department to make a “full accounting” about “why this action was taken.”

The Presidential Records Act, enacted after former President Nixon’s failed efforts during Watergate to claim that tapes and documents were his own property, ensures that presidential and vice presidential records and documents belong to the American people under the watchful management of the National Archives and Records Administration and its presidential libraries experts (The Hill). 

The law includes provisions that allow certain records to be withheld from public view for specific durations after presidents leave office, with safeguards for classified records. Sitting presidents can declassify records on their own say-so, but former presidents have no such authority. The law says personal presidential records, including records tied to presidents’ campaigns and other candidates’ elections, are not subject to requirements to preserve or provide public access to such materials.

Adding to Trump’s troubles on Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled that the IRS must hand over his long-sought-after tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee and, in the process, dismissed a legal challenge to keep them out of its hands. 

A three-judge panel for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously sided with the Biden administration and the committee and ruled against the ex-president’s arguments regarding the committee’s authority. Trump and his lawyers had cited his privacy concerns and his claim that complying with the request would be unconstitutional.

The House panel said that it expects to “receive the requested tax returns and audit files immediately.” Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) first requested the tax returns from the Treasury Department in 2019 (The Hill).

“With great patience, we followed the judicial process, and yet again, our position has been affirmed by the Courts. I’m pleased that this long-anticipated opinion makes clear the law is on our side,” Neal said in a statement. “When we receive the returns, we will begin our oversight of the IRS’s mandatory presidential audit program.”


Related Articles

The Hill: Biden is in a tough spot on Trump after FBI Mar-a-Lago search. 

The Hill’s Niall Stanage, The Memo: Five takeaways on the FBI’s search at Mar-a-Lago. 

The Hill: Trump celebrates Tuesday’s primary defeat of pro-impeachment, six-term Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.) and victory of his endorsed candidate.

Vice News and CNN: Trump supporters are calling for civil war after the FBI’s search. 

The New York Times: A judge in Fulton County, Ga., tentatively ordered Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who is recovering from heart surgery, to find a way to travel to Atlanta to appear before a special grand jury on Aug. 17 in the probe of alleged 2020 election interference.

Fox News: Trump ally Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who repeated unproven claims that Trump’s 2020 election loss was due to massive voter fraud, said on Tuesday that the FBI seized his cellphone.

The Associated Press: Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was interviewed by the Jan. 6 panel on Tuesday. 


LEADING THE DAY

POLITICS & CONGRESS

House GOP leaders on Tuesday officially launched their whip operation against the budget reconciliation package that is set to hit the floor on Friday, even though the bill is almost certain to pass. 

A whip notice sent out by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise’s (R-La.) office referred to the bill as the “Inflation, Recession, and IRS Army Act,” laying out a list full of reasons for party members to oppose the $740 billion budget proposal.

“Leadership recommends a NO vote,” Scalise’s office said in the note. 

No Republicans are expected to cross party lines on the vote. 

As The Hill’s Tobias Burns notes, one of the main items Republicans are opposing in the bill is more than $40 billion that would boost IRS enforcement (hence the GOP’s “IRS Army Act” swipe). In total, the package includes $80 billion to strengthen the tax-collecting agency. 

© Associated Press / Susan Walsh | IRS building in Washington, 2013.

However, there are some provisions in the reconciliation blueprint that Democrats are not over the moon about. Specifically, there is concern surrounding an item concerning electric vehicles that means most automakers will not qualify for a pending new federal tax credit. 

“I went round and round with [Sen. Joe Manchin], who frankly didn’t support any credit of any kind, so this is a compromise,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) told reporters Monday, referring of the centrist Democrat from West Virginia. “We’ll work through it and make this as good as we can for our automakers” (The Associated Press).

While the party infighting did not keep the latest iteration of reconciliation from passing, it is doing harm to the Democratic effort to pass a number of public safety bills this summer aimed at bolstering law enforcement in the face of the GOP’s claim the party is soft on crime.

As The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Mychael Schnell report, the hope was that moderate “front-liners” and progressives would come together on a bill so it could be voted on at the end of this week. However, that plan has blown up, with progressive lawmakers demanding new oversight and other accountability measures and prepared to delay a vote until that happens. 

Democratic leaders are still hopeful the proposals could pass this week, but passage could be delayed until next week if troubles persist. They are also wary of distractions taking away from passing the reconciliation bill on Friday, which the party heralds as a major win. 

Meanwhile, voters in four states went to the polls on Tuesday, including in Wisconsin where Tim Michels took home the state’s GOP gubernatorial primary. Michels, the Trump-supported candidate, defeated former Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R). 

Michels, a businessman, took home 47.2 percent of the vote compared to 42 percent for Kleefisch, who served as former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) second in command for two terms. For months, Kleefisch was the front-runner, but Trump’s endorsement of Michels altered the race substantially.

Michels will face Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) in November (The Hill). 

Across the aisle, Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) won the Democratic primary for Senate and will challenge incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) in November. Barnes was facing a tough primary until recent weeks when all of his major primary opponents dropped out and coalesced around him (NBC News and The Associated Press). 

The Hill: Five takeaways from primaries in Wisconsin, Minnesota and beyond.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) beats Trump-backed primary opponent.

The Hill: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) ekes out win in surprisingly close Minnesota primary. 

IN FOCUS/SHARP TAKES

ADMINISTRATION

Biden on Tuesday took a victory lap as he signed into law the CHIPS and Science Act, a bipartisan package that will provide billions of dollars in funding to boost domestic semiconductor production in the U.S. and help the country avoid supply chain issues.

“Today is a day for builders. Today America is delivering,” Biden said at the bill signing event on the South Lawn of the White House. “The future of the chip industry is going to be made in America.”

The law, which passed both congressional chambers in late July, includes more than $50 billion in incentives for manufacturers of semiconductors, or chips, to build domestic plants for their production. An additional $80 billion will go to the National Science Foundation over five years to support innovation and research. 

“We are better positioned than any other nation in the world to win the economic competition of the 21st century. You’re the reason why I’m so optimistic about the future of our country,” said Biden, who was flanked by lawmakers at the signing and joined by chief executives of Lockheed Martin, Intel and Micron for the event (The Hill). 

Politico: Biden suddenly is piling up wins. Can Democrats make it stick?

The Wall Street Journal: Chip makers brace for demand slowdown to expand beyond PCs, smartphones.

© Associated Press / Carolyn Kaster | President Biden signs the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 on Tuesday.

On the international scene, the president also signed accession documents to officially greenlight Finland and Sweden into NATO. Biden hailed the addition of the two European nations, which was prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as a “watershed moment” for the transatlantic alliance (The Hill). 


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OPINION

■ Trump search should just be Garland’s opening act, by Timothy L. O’Brien, columnist, Bloomberg Opinion. https://bloom.bg/3QB0V7T 

■  After the Trump search, silence is not an option for Garland, by David Rohde, executive editor, The New Yorker. https://bit.ly/3JGl5er 

WHERE AND WHEN

The House will meet on Friday at 9 a.m. and will vote on the Senate-passed Inflation Reduction Act.

The Senate convenes on Friday at 9 a.m. for a pro forma session during its summer recess, which ends Sept. 6.

The president will receive the President’s Daily Briefing at 9 a.m. Biden at 10 a.m. will speak in the East Room and sign the (PACT) Act, otherwise known as the Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act. The president and first lady Jill Biden at 12:30 p.m. are scheduled to depart the White House for Charleston, S.C., for a vacation on Kiawah Island (Live5 WCSC).

Vice President Harris flies to Las Vegas this morning to speak at the United Steelworkers Constitutional Convention at the MGM Grand Marquee Hotel at 11:25 a.m. PDT. The vice president, at the hotel, will discuss reproductive health care issues with Nevada state legislators at 1:15 p.m. PDT. Harris will fly from Las Vegas to San Francisco at 4:15 p.m. PDT. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he met this morning with employees and families from the U.S. Embassy. Later he met with Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde. The secretary will participate in an election transparency hackathon event in Kinshasa before meeting in the afternoon with civil society representatives.

Economic indicators: The Labor Department will report at 8:30 a.m. on the consumer price index in July, plus real earnings. The data will be closely watched amid high U.S. prices, which some analysts believe may have eased (CNBC).


🖥  Hill.TV’s “Rising” program features news and interviews at http://thehill.com/hilltv, on YouTube and on Facebook at 10:30 a.m. ET. Also, check out the “Rising” podcast here.


ELSEWHERE  

INTERNATIONAL

China withdrew its promise not to send troops or administrators to Taiwan if it takes control of the island, an official document showed on Wednesday. It signals a decision by President Xi Jinping to grant less autonomy than previously offered (Reuters).

Ukrainian forces on Tuesday made a high-profile strike in Russian-held territory at the Saki air base on the Crimean Peninsula. The explosion killed one and injured five. Russia’s defense ministry said the explosion resulted from the detonation of aviation ordnance (The New York Times).

Russia’s grip on locales it occupies in eastern Ukraine is loosening by the day as forces loyal to Kyiv make headway using guerilla tactics, killing pro-Moscow officials and blowing up bridges and trains. They are also aiding the Ukrainian military to identify key targets and forcing Russia to reconsider annexation plans (The Associated Press and The New York Times). 

The Wall Street Journal: Inside the Russian-occupied Ukrainian city living under threat of nuclear disaster.

POX & PANDEMIC

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday granted emergency authorization to clinicians to vaccinate people against monkeypox by injecting doses between layers of skin, a technique used to stretch the too-small U.S. supply of available medication at a time of widening spread of the virus. The FDA’s decision also allows people under age 18 to receive vaccine doses if they are at high risk of monkeypox infection. The intradermal injection technique to battle monkeypox is controversial among some public health experts because it takes skill and practice to get the medication exactly where it is needed between skin layers to be effective (CNBC).

🦠Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. The governor, who is seeking reelection this fall, said she tested negative Monday afternoon but then tested positive hours later. She is experiencing mild symptoms (WOOD-TV Grand Rapids).

The Associated Press: “I didn’t really learn anything”: COVID-19 high school grads face college.

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported as of this morning, according to Johns Hopkins University (trackers all vary slightly): 1,034,654. Current average U.S. COVID-19 daily deaths are 382, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

TECH

Snapchat rolled out parental controls on Tuesday, giving parents the option to see the contacts of teen users on the app without viewing the content of the messages. The feature is under the app’s new Family Center and comes after increased scrutiny from lawmakers over youth safety on Snapchat and other apps (The Hill).

SPORTS 

Tennis icon Serena Williams, whoinspired her competitors and rescued the excitement of the game for many U.S. fans, announced she will retire from her sport to focus on business and family interests (The New York Times). The upcoming U.S. Open could be her goodbye tournament. In a first-person essay for Vogue, Williams, who will be 41 next month, said the “countdown has begun” and she plans to “relish these next few weeks,” adding that she dislikes using the word “retirement” and has been reluctant to accept her career is coming to an end (ESPN). Williams’s 23 Grand Slam titles are the second most in women’s singles history. The U.S. Open, held annually in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., starts on Aug. 29. 

© Associated Press / Chris Symes, Photosport | Serena Williams and her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., after winning the ASB Classic in Auckland, 2020.


THE CLOSER

© Associated Press / Andrew Medichini | Pizza cooking at Caputo pizzeria in Naples, Italy, 2020.

🇮🇹 And finally … It’s time to pour one out for an American stalwart (kind of).

Domino’s Pizza is vacating Italy, closing all 29 branches seven years after kicking off operations in a country that invented pizza and has a standards association to protect its Neapolitan creation. Italians, in their culinary wisdom, demonstrated how much they favor their local fare (Bloomberg News and The Washington Post). 


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