On August 8, former U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the FBI was searching his luxurious palace-like mansion in Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump wasn’t in Mar-a-Lago. He was in his Trump Tower residence high above Manhattan in New York City, another one of his many residences. Trump claimed he observed the FBI search live on close circuit TV. The FBI raid was ordered by U.S. Attorney-General Merrick Garland. President Joseph Biden claimed he didn’t know about the raid in advance.
The search warrant, soon made public with redactions, is a legal document U.S. police agencies — in this case, the FBI — need for a legal search without the approval of the person who is being searched. According to U.S. law, to obtain a search warrant, the police agency conducting the search must convince a judge — in this case, a federal judge — that there is probable cause of a crime. The alleged crimes being investigated center on Trump’s possession of secret documents with various degrees of classification. Documents with high degrees of classification are documents whose contents are hidden from the American people and everybody else, except for certain high-ranking government officials, for “national security” reasons.
The classified documents allegedly stored at Mar-a-Lago without authorization might include military secrets (including those of nuclear weapons), as well as information, if made public, embarrassing to powerful people. They are supposed to be stored in highly secure government buildings — it’s a crime to hold them in a private residence or other unsecured location. Only Trump and a handful of government officials know what’s in them.
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The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on June 24, 2022, to strip women of their right to abortion dominates the news. The Court overturned its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision establishing abortion as a constitutional right. The other event dominating U.S. politics was the congressional hearings into the events of January 6, 2021. These issues unfold against a background of high inflation, a looming recession, and disastrously low approval ratings for President Joseph Biden. On July 11, The New York Times/Siena College poll gave Biden a 33% approval rating. The same poll showed only 26% of Democrat voters support his renomination for a second term.
Democrats, appearing likely to lose control of the House and maybe the Senate, hope to recoup power by making abortion a prime issue. A bill to make abortion rights a federal law has gone nowhere. Democratic Senators Joseph Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema refuse to suspend a Senate rule that effectively gives the Republican Party veto power over all legislation, the filibuster rule. Democrats hope the outrage felt by women and many men over the Supreme Court decision will cause them to vote Democratic in the November congressional elections. These elections will determine the make-up of Congress for the final two years of Biden’s term.
However, attempts by Democrats to profit from the outrage over the Court decision were undermined when it was revealed Biden made a deal with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to nominate anti-abortion Republican Chad Meredith to a lifetime federal judgeship. This deal — though it appears to have fallen through — is typical of Biden’s 50-year-long political career. As a young Senator, Biden played a crucial role in securing Senate approval of Republican President George H.W. Bush nominee Clarence Thomas to a lifetime position on the Supreme Court. Thomas joined the Court majority in throwing out the right of abortion as a constitutional right.
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