The Hill’s 12:30 Report — Trump floats gray area in declassifying documents

·6 min read

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–> A midday take on what’s happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha–breaks down crying hysterically.

TALK OF THE MORNING

This clip, brought to you by ‘I Dream of Jeannie’:

In a new interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, former President Trump said that presidents can declassify sensitive documents “even by thinking about it.”

In Trump’s words: “There doesn’t have to be a process, as I understand it … If you’re the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying, ‘It’s declassified.’ Even by thinking about it.”

Trump continued: “There can be a process, but there doesn’t have to be. You’re the president. You make that decision. So, when you send it, it’s declassified. I declassified everything.”

Watch the clip 

Why this is relevant: The FBI searched his Mar-a-Lago residence in August and found secret and top-secret documents that he took from the White House. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is now investigating his handling of classified materials.

HOW PRESIDENTS TYPICALLY DECLASSIFY INFORMATION:

The Washington Post’s Julian Mark pointed out that “presidents do have the authority to declassify information — though typically there’s a process for doing so, which can include coordinating with the agencies or Cabinet members from which the information originated to prevent possible national-security risks.”

TIDBIT — ADDING SOME CONTEXT TO YESTERDAY’S NEWS
The New York Times’s Maggie Haberman tweeted, “The irony of saying this on a day when [New York’s attorney general Letitia James] is suing over his property valuations is something. In his deposition in the @TimOBrien lawsuit, Trump said he used ‘mental projections’ for valuations on his golf courses.”

It’s Thursday, the first day of fall! 🎃 🍂 👻 I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Did someone forward this newsletter to you? Sign up here. 

^ OK, so technically the fall equinox is a little more complicated than just being on Thursday. CNN explains the differences by time zones.

🗳 The Mar-a-Lago document investigation 

An interception on the field: 

“A federal appeals court on Wednesday freed the Justice Department to resume using documents marked as classified that were seized from former President Donald J. Trump, blocking for now a lower court’s order that had strictly limited the investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of government materials.”

Read the decision, which the New York Times describes as “strongly worded.”

Why this is significant: “The decision by the Atlanta-based court was a repudiation of the decision by Judge Aileen M. Cannon, whom Mr. Trump appointed to the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida, to broadly intervene in the Justice Department’s investigation.”

Now, what happens?: “[The appointed special master can] review most of the more than 11,000 files seized from Mar-a-Lago, but allow prosecutors unfettered access to the smaller batch of classified records.”

A full explanation from The New York Times’s Charlie Savage, Glenn Thrush and Alan Feuer

🗳 On the campaign trail 

Not the usual midterm playbook, but hey!

The Hill’s Brett Samuels writes how Democrats and President Biden are trying to make the midterms into a referendum on the party who is *not* in power.

The argument Dems are making to voters: “[They believe that Republicans] hold extreme views on reproductive rights and threaten the pillars of democracy with their refusal to accept election results and willingness to embrace conspiracy theories.”

Keep in mind: Historically, the party in power tends to lose seats the midterms.

How Dems are trying to flip the script — and whether it could work

‘FIVE SCENARIOS THAT COULD HELP JOE BIDEN’:

1. “Democrats hold the Senate.”

2. “Republicans just narrowly win the House.”

3. “Trump investigations deepen.”

4. “GOP culture wars backfire.”

5. “Democrats keep everything.”

How each scenario could play out, via The Hill’s Hanna Trudo and Amie Parnes

✈️ Immigration 

The legal kerfuffle that Ron DeSantis started: 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s political move last week to load planes of migrants and send them to Martha’s Vineyard unannounced created a partisan firestorm that will be talked about for quite some time.

The issue now: “Some of the migrants have filed a class-action suit against DeSantis, other Democratic politicians have implied he has committed crimes, and even a Texas sheriff has gotten involved.”

Meanwhile: “DeSantis appears adamant that there will be more flights.”

The Hill’s Niall Stanage breaks down the legal implications from this maneuver.

For example: “Democratic politicians have called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate whether crimes might have been committed by the Florida governor or people working on his behalf.”

And: The legality of DeSantis using $12 million from Florida’s state budget to fund the move. What we know

🎙 In Congress 

Ginni Thomas will speak to the Jan. 6 committee: 

“The House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, has come to an agreement with Ginni Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to be interviewed by the panel in the coming weeks, according to a source close to the committee.”

From her attorney: “As she has said from the outset, Mrs. Thomas is eager to answer the Committee’s questions to clear up any misconceptions about her work relating to the 2020 election. She looks forward to that opportunity.”

Why the committee wants to speak with Thomas: “Members of the panel have long said they are interested in speaking with Thomas, particularly after CNN first reported text messages she exchanged with then-Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows prior to January 6 about overturning the election.”

More from CNN’s Jamie Gangel, Ariane de Vogue and Zachary Cohen

🦠 Latest with COVID

 THE COVID-19 NUMBERS 

Cases to date: 95.6 million

Death toll: 1,049,101

Current hospitalizations: 24,643

Shots administered: 612 million

Fully vaccinated: 67.7 percent of Americans

CDC data here.

🐥Notable tweets 

I laughed out loud when I read this

OK, so, yesterday I included a tweet from Southwest Airlines about surprising an entire flight to Hawaii with free ukuleles and lessons. The photo of the passengers showing off their new instruments is very funny.

Anyway, Amtrak chimed in and responded: “btw we have a quiet car 🤐”

On tap 

The House and Senate are in. President Biden is in New York, N.Y. Vice President Harris is in Milwaukee.

  • 9:45 a.m.: First House votes of the day. Thursday’s House agenda 

  • 10:05 a.m.: Harris left for Milwaukee.

  • 11 a.m.: Biden met with President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos, Jr. of the Republic of the Philippines.

  • 1 ­– 2:30 p.m.: Last House votes.

  • 3:15 p.m.: Harris speaks with local Latino leaders.

  • 4:40 p.m.: Biden participates in a Democratic National Committee reception in New York City.

  • 4:55 p.m.: Harris heads back to Washington, D.C.

  • 5:55 p.m.: Biden leaves for Washington, D.C.

  • 7:45 p.m.: Biden returns to the White House.

All times Eastern.

📺What to watch

  • 2 p.m.: Harris delivers remarks at the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) Conference. Livestream 

  • 2:15 p.m.: Biden receives a briefing on Hurricane Fiona’s impact on Puerto Rico. Livestream

🍦 In lighter news 

Today is National Ice Cream Cone Day!

Everything from this telescope has been spectacular:

AP via NASA

NASA released stunning new photos of Neptune, taken by the James Webb Space Telescope.

Comparison of the new photos from photos taken with another telescope

And to leave your with a competitive spirit, here’s a dog training for its favorite sport.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.