Judge OKs release of Mar-a-Lago affidavit; Trump urged to announce 2024 run to avoid criminal charges. Ukraine says Russia plans to cut nuclear plant from grid, with disastrous implications.
Florida judge OKs release of affidavit that led to Mar-a-Lago search
Federal magistrate Bruce Reinhart said yesterday that he’s inclined to allow the release of the affidavit submitted by the Justice Department to obtain a search warrant for Mar-a-Lago, former President Trump’s home. His decision came after various media organizations argued there was legitimate public interest in the DOJ’s justification for the search.
Reinhart made his rulings over the objection of DOJ attorneys, including Jay Bratt, the DOJ’s chief of counterintelligence and export control. Bratt argued in court that although there was public interest in the contents affidavit, it was also in the public interest to maintain its secrecy. The DOJ said that releasing the affidavit could endanger witnesses and undermine an “ongoing criminal investigation”. Bratt said that if Reinhart approved the affidavit’s release, the DOJ would propose redactions so extensive as to render the document meaningless.
Reinhart has given the DOJ one week to propose redactions for the affidavit. If Reinhart approves those redactions, the affidavit could be made public as soon as next week. If not, the DOJ will appeal and it could be months before the affidavit is released, if ever.
Trump’s allies urge him to announce 2024 run now to avoid indictment
Sources close to former President Trump are reportedly urging him to announce his candidacy for 2024 in the next few weeks. They hope that this announcement will head off any potential criminal indictment. This would include potential charges for violations of the Espionage Act stemming from Trump’s misappropriation of classified documents. But there are several other criminal probes of Trump and his associates. Here’s an incomplete list:
- The DOJ is also investigating Trump’s efforts to introduce false slates of electors in 6 states following the 2020 election.
- In Fulton County, GA, a special grand jury is investigating Trump’s attempt to influence Georgia state officials to overturn the results of the election.
- Former CFO of the Trump Organization Andrew Weisselberg has pled guilty to 15 tax evasion felonies. In exchange for a short prison sentence (about 5 months), Weisselberg will testify in the trial touching on the Trump Organization itself in the fall. Weisselberg has not agreed to give testimony against Trump specifically, but the proceedings of the Trump Org. trial may yield incriminating evidence against him.
- The DOJ may yet decide to bring other criminal charges against Trump in connection with the violence on Jan. 6, 2021.
However, there is no law that prohibits the DOJ or any other legal authority from bringing charges against a presidential candidate. Historically, the DOJ has been reluctant to do so since they don’t like to appear to be meddling in politics.
Ukraine accuses Russia of plan to cut nuclear plant from the grid, with disastrous implications
Energoatom, Ukraine’s state nuclear power firm, say that the Russian military is attempting to establish deliveries of large amounts of diesel to the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia. This may indicate the Russians are planning to shut off power generation at the plant. Without electricity to power the cooling apparatus at the towers, the cooling system has to rely on diesel-powered generators to avoid a meltdown.
Zaporizhzhia supplies about 1/5 of Ukraine’s electricity. Ukrainian operators are still running the plant, but under Russian control and occupation. The Russians have also apparently used the grounds of the plant to launch missiles at neighboring facilities, using Zaporizhzhia as a nuclear shield.
The situation at the plant, especially several recent instances of shelling that have damaged its infrastructure, has raised alarms at the UN. The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has asked to access the site for an inspection. The Russians initially said they would allow an inspection but then imposed so many restrictions as to make an inspection impossible.
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