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Judge Cannon’s ‘Mind Boggling’ Move Could Put Witnesses at Risk, Experts Warn

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U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon appears poised to ignore urgent pleadings from Special Counsel Jack Smith, and possibly, experts warn, put confidential witnesses at risk.

Judge Cannon, overseeing the trial of Donald Trump in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents and Espionage Act case, this week ordered the Special Counsel to hand over to Trump’s lawyers the names of witnesses in a previously unknown DOJ investigation into death threats those witnesses allegedly received. She also ordered Smith to hand over to Trump lawyers the contents of those death threats.

Smith quickly moved, urgently asking her to reconsider, noting it was contrary to established procedure and could put lives at risk.

Late Friday afternoon Cannon rejected Smith’s plea, instead ordering him to hand over to Trump’s lawyers the “sealed” information by Saturday, pending what she suggests is further consideration: “The exhibit shall remain sealed pending further Court order.”

READ MORE: Ethics Investigators in Gaetz Underage Sex Allegations Probe Obtain Star Witness Cooperation

MSNBC legal contributor and correspondent Katie Phang posted the order:

Attorney Ben Meiselas, co-founder of the MeidasTouch Network, says Cannon’s Friday afternoon move is “effectively imperiling the safety of witness and intentionally compromising the DOJ investigation!”

On Wednesday, Special Counsel Smith had notified Judge Cannon of his intent to file a motion to reconsider, including sealed information for only her to review.

“The exhibit describes in some detail threats that have been made over social media to a prospective Government witness and the surrounding circumstances, and the fact that those threats are the subject of an ongoing federal investigation being handled by a United States Attorney’s Office. Disclosure of the details and circumstances of the threats risks disrupting the investigation.”

Smith added, “short of sealing the exhibit, e,g., redaction of persons’ names, will not suffice to protect the integrity of the investigation because even with such names redacted, the details of the exhibit could reveal investigative methods, potentially further endanger the victim, and/or provide information to the suspect to which he/she may not otherwise be entitled.”

READ MORE: ‘Burn Book From Mean Girls’: Legal and Political Experts Respond to Hur’s ‘Hit Job’ on Biden

Smith had written that the “discovery material, if publicly docketed in unredacted form as the Court has ordered, would disclose the identities of numerous potential witnesses, along with the substance of the statements they made to the FBI or the grand jury, exposing them to significant and immediate risks of threats, intimidation, and harassment, as has already happened to witnesses, law enforcement agents, judicial officers, and Department of Justice employees whose identities have been disclosed in cases in which defendant Trump is involved,” according to Law & Crime.

MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin explains Cannon’s order, directing Smith to hand over the information Trump’s ;lawyers requested, “would, among other things, reveal the names of two dozen people who have participated in the Mar a Lago investigation.”

“If information about an ongoing federal investigation into threats to a prosecution witness is not worthy of an ex parte, under seal filing, I don’t know what is,” Rubin adds. “And the fact that this latest directive forcing disclosure was made in the context of Smith’s motion for Cannon’s reconsideration of two more extensive orders also forcing premature disclosure of investigative details and witness identities is mind boggling.”

 

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‘Handmaid’s Tale’: Biden Campaign Blasts Trump Christian Nationalism Plans

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The Biden campaign is responding to a report from Politico detailing how Christian nationalism is intentionally being injected into the plans a right-wing think tank, part of a “conservative consortium,” is drafting for a potential second Trump presidential term.

“Spearheading the effort is Russell Vought, who served as Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget during his first term and has remained close to him. Vought, who is frequently cited as a potential chief of staff in a second Trump White House, is president of The Center for Renewing America think tank, a leading group in a conservative consortium preparing for a second Trump term,” Politico reported Tuesday. “Vought has a close affiliation with Christian nationalist William Wolfe, a former Trump administration official who has advocated for overturning same-sex marriage, ending abortion and reducing access to contraceptives.”

“Vought,” Politico adds, “is advising Project 2025, a governing agenda that would usher in one of the most conservative executive branches in modern American history. The effort is made up of a constellation of conservative groups run by Trump allies who’ve constructed a detailed plan to dismantle or overhaul key agencies in a second term. Among other principles, the project’s ‘Mandate for Leadership’ states that ‘freedom is defined by God, not man.'”

READ MORE: Alito Fears ‘Bigot’ Label for Americans With ‘Traditional Religious Views’ of LGBTQ People

There are other far-right Christian nationalists in play.

“Trump is also talking about bringing his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a vocal proponent of Christian nationalism, back into office,” the Politico piece notes. “Flynn is currently focused on recruiting what he calls an ‘Army of God’ — as he barnstorms the country promoting his vision of putting Christianity at the center of American life.”

In 2022 PBS NewHour described Flynn as being “‘at the center’ of [a] new movement based on conspiracies and Christian nationalism.”

“He has drawn together election deniers, mask and vaccine opponents, insurrectionists, Proud Boys, and elected officials and leaders in state and local Republican parties.”

READ MORE: McEnany Meltdown: Biden Beats Reagan, Trump Dead Last in New Scholars’ Survey

The Biden campaign’s senior spokesperson Lauren Hitt responded to the Politico report, saying in a statement, “This is straight out of the Handmaid’s Tale. Nationwide abortion bans, attacks on same-sex marriage, and restrictions on contraception – this is the horrifying reality being openly discussed by Team Trump and the likely architects of his second term agenda.”

“Every day Donald Trump openly supports an agenda of restricting Americans’ freedoms, dividing our country, and attacking our rights. That’s what he will do as president. It’s not who we are as Americans. Like they’ve done election after election,
Americans will reject Donald Trump and his out-of-touch extremism again this November.”

The Hill adds the Biden “campaign also pointed to a New York Times report that said Trump told advisers and allies that he favors a 16-week ban on abortion, a story that the Trump campaign pushed back on but didn’t contradict.”

USA TODAY’s White House correspondent Joey Garrison first reported Hitt’s statement.

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‘BS’: Top Dem Senator Goes on Offense Against Republicans

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U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) is calling “BS” on Senate Republicans – and calling them out by name – over their continued failure to pass the Senate’s massive border and military funding for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan bill that he helped craft.

Sen. Murphy’s first target: top Trump MAGA surrogate Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), who told Fox News, “The left want an open, insecure border. The conservatives and common sense independents, we want a secure America. That means you have to control your back door.”

Murphy did not hold back.

“Bullshit,” the Connecticut Democrat wrote on social media Tuesday. “We reached a bipartisan compromise to give the President enormous new powers to control the border. Almost every single Republican – including Sen. Scott – voted against it because Trump told them to keep the border a mess because it might help him politically.”

READ MORE: Alito Fears ‘Bigot’ Label for Americans With ‘Traditional Religious Views’ of LGBTQ People

Senator Murphy’s second target was U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), who claimed, “The recent bill would have been worse than doing nothing by codifying [Biden’s] open border policies into law.”

“Bullshit,” Sen. Murphy again responded. “The bipartisan border bill that Sen. Johnson’s party asked for and then voted against because Trump said so would have

ALLOWED
THE
PRESIDENT
TO
SECURE
THE
BORDER.”

Next, the Connecticut Democrat called out U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn  (R-TN). writing, “also bullshit.”

Sen. Blackburn had claimed, “Even Secretary Mayorkas has said what’s happening at the southern border ‘certainly is a crisis.’ It’s past time the Biden administration put a stop to this madness. CLOSE the border.”

Sen. Murphy added, “Senator Blackburn knows the bill would have actually allowed the President to close parts of the border when crossings get too high. But who would book Republicans on cable news if the border was actually under control? That’s why they killed it.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

RELATED: ‘We Aren’t Monsters’: Top Senate Dem Slams Josh Hawley for Not Wanting to Help Kids

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Alito Fears ‘Bigot’ Label for Americans With ‘Traditional Religious Views’ of LGBTQ People

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is expressing concern that Americans who hold what he calls “traditional religious views” on homosexuality and refuse to hide them are being labeled as “bigots.” The Bush-appointed 73-year old jurist with a history of anti-LGBTQ opinions has been called the Court’s “staunchest opponent of LGBTQ rights.”

As The New Republic reports, “Alito is complaining that people who oppose homosexuality were being unfairly branded as bigots, despite that being a dictionary definition of bigotry.”

On Tuesday, agreeing the Court should not take a case, Alito wrote he is “concerned” that a lower court’s reasoning “may spread.”

He notes that the lower court “reasoned that a person who still holds traditional religious views on questions of sexual morality is presumptively unfit to serve on a jury in a case involving a party who is a lesbian.”

READ MORE: ‘Putin’s Puppet’: Critics Blast Trump for Comparing Navalny Death to His Own Legal Crisis

In that case, several jurors who acknowledged they held anti-LGBTQ views were released from serving on the trial.

“That holding exemplifies the danger that I anticipated in Obergefell v. Hodges … namely, that Americans who do not hide their adherence to traditional religious beliefs about homosexual conduct will be ‘labeled as bigots and treated as such’ by the government.'”

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern writes, “Alito suggests that a trial court violates the free exercise and equal protection clauses when it allows an attorney who represents a gay client to strike potential jurors because they express overt bigotry against gay people.”

Veteran journalist John Harwood observes, “Justice Alito, even if he somehow gets Obergefell overturned, will be aggrieved forever more.”

He adds, “there will never be another time when his views about homosexuality will not be treated as bigotry by most people in our society.”

Attorney Max Kennerly posits, “If we followed Alito’s reasoning that religious beliefs can never serve as a basis to strike a juror, we’d instantly run into a collision with jurors who believe, on religious grounds, the death penalty is wrong. Any guesses how Alito would rule on that? Yeah, exactly.”

READ MORE: Fox News Liberal Explains Why Democrats Don’t Care About Charlamagne Tha God’s Biden Slam

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