Moody backs Trump in Mar-a-Lago dispute – POLITICO

Hello and welcome to Wednesday.

Dear judge — Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who has been endorsed for a second term by Donald Trump, is now jumping into the legal battle over the materials seized by the FBI from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

Nearly a dozen Moody — a Republican, former prosecutor and judge and the state’s top legal officer — on Tuesday joined with 10 other Republican attorneys general in filing a short legal brief in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals over what they called the “ransacking” of Trump’s Florida home. This amicus brief, which appears to have been organized by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, suggested in essence that Justice Department lawyers representing the FBI can’t be trusted because of the Biden administration’s track record on other matters, including immigration and Covid-19.

Tell us what you think The brief, which defended the appointment of a special master to adjudicate the dispute over the materials taken from Trump’s Palm Beach County home, stated that at “a minimum, this Court should view the Administration’s assertions of good-faith, neutrality, and objectivity through jaundiced eyes.”

The list The court filing then touches on everything from Vice President Kamala Harris’ comments on the border to the origins of the Covid-19 virus: “They offer this amicus brief to highlight how the Administration’s conduct in connection with this case is of a piece with the gamesmanship and other questionable conduct that have become the hallmarks of its litigating, policy-making, and public-relations effort.”

File it Moody’s office did not publicly acknowledge the filing on Tuesday, but she has been critical of the FBI’s actions and has talked about the incident on Fox News and outlets such as Newsmax. On Newsmax, she called the seizure of materials “a debacle from the very beginning.”

Response John Yoo, who worked in the Justice Department under former President George W. Bush, told the Washington Post that those who signed the brief are “really good lawyers” but that the filing “just doesn’t address any of the issues at stake.” Jon D. Michaels, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, told the Post that filing is a “political stunt.”

Backup Moody — who initially ran by saying she would keep politics out of her office — has become a strong partner of Gov. Ron DeSantis and conservative Republicans in going after the Biden administration on a vast array of issues. Back in late 2020, Moody joined with other states in asking the Supreme Court to consider a lawsuit that sought to invalidate presidential election results in four states. Her office is also defending the governor’s suspension of Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren.

On the rise And in another significant move, lawyers working for Moody recently argued that the state Supreme Court should reverse a 1989 court ruling that established that abortion rights are covered by the state’s voter-approved privacy clause. All this comes amid persistent rumblings in Tallahassee that Moody, who is arguably the second most powerful person in the state’s executive branch, could one day run for governor herself once DeSantis moves on.

— WHERE’S RON? — Nothing official announced for Gov. DeSantis

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 TO COURT WE GO — “Civil rights group files first lawsuit against DeSantis over ‘illegal’ migrant flights,” by POLITICO’s Lisa Kashinsky: A civil rights law firm filed a federal class action lawsuit against Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday, accusing him of orchestrating a “premeditated, fraudulent, and illegal scheme” to fly dozens of migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard. The lawsuit, filed by the Boston-based Lawyers for Civil Rights, alleges that DeSantis and state transportation officials violated the migrants’ constitutional rights by coercing mostly Venezuelan asylum-seekers onto planes in Texas to the island through “false promises and misrepresentations.” It also accuses DeSantis of inappropriately using federal coronavirus relief funds to pay for the flights.

WATCHING THE SKIES — “‘Punked’: DeSantis keeps White House, Delaware and media guessing on migrant flight plans,” by NBC News’ Marc Caputo and Lauren Egan: “The White House and the Delaware governor’s office were ready. So were the news media and political onlookers. Everyone who gathered Tuesday at a small airport in Georgetown, Delaware, near President Joe Biden’s home, was waiting in anticipation of a planeload of migrants to be flown from San Antonio as part of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ program to send a message about illegal immigration. But by late Tuesday, no plane had arrived. Instead, it landed in Teterboro, New Jersey, just outside New York City, where Biden was in town for the annual U.N. General Assembly meeting. No migrants were aboard the plane.”

‘GOOD IDEA’ — “Mitch McConnell: Ron DeSantis ‘helped’ migrants with his Martha’s Vineyard stunt,” by Louisville Courier Journal’s Morgan Watkins: “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday indicated he liked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ controversial stunt that sent 48 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard last week under what several of the migrants and immigration attorneys have said were false pretenses. At a news conference in Washington, D.C., McConnell — who’s married to an immigrant, former U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao — acknowledged “there’s been a good deal of talk about what some of the governors have done to transport illegal immigrants up to other parts of the country. ‘I personally thought it was a good idea,’ he said Tuesday afternoon.”

— “Increase in Venezuelan migration is felt across US,” by The Associated Press’ Acacia Coronado and Gisela Salomon

— “Were migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard given ‘fake addresses’ by DHS? Agency responds,” by Miami Herald’s Bianca Padró Ocasio and McClatchy D.C.’s Michael Wilner

— “Donald Trump sidesteps question about Ron DeSantis’ Martha’s Vineyard stunt,” by Florida Politics’ A.G. Gancarski

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE — “Trump vs. DeSantis in 2024? USA TODAY/Suffolk poll shows Florida Republicans prefer their governor,” by USA Today’s Susan Page: “Former President Donald Trump’s support among Republican voters in Florida for another presidential bid has significantly eroded this year, a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds, as Gov. Ron DeSantis has scored gains in the home state they now share. In a hypothetical 2024 presidential primary in the Sunshine State, DeSantis now leads Trump 48%-40%. That’s a reversal from a USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll of Florida in January, when Trump led DeSantis 47%-40%. ‘This doesn’t necessarily mean DeSantis would lead in any other GOP primary state,’ said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. ‘But it is one data point suggesting a shift in preferences from GOP voters away from Trump and toward DeSantis from Republicans who know both potential combatants quite well.’”

BACKING THE OTHER PARTY — “Dave Kerner, a Palm Beach County Democrat, backs Republican Ron DeSantis’ re-election. What’s behind it?” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Anthony Man: “Dave Kerner, a Democrat elected four times in heavily Democratic Palm Beach County, delivered an effusive endorsement Tuesday for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ re-election. And Kerner — a former police officer widely seen as hoping to someday become Palm Beach County sheriff — repeated the Republican allegation that Democratic gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist favors defunding the police. Kerner and DeSantis heaped effusive praise on each other at a rally at the Palm Beach County Police Benevolent Association, called solely for the purpose of the endorsement announcement.”

— “Charlie Crist makes two campaign stops in Southwest Florida,” by NBC 2’s Dave Elias

— “Adam Hattersley gets public funding boost in CFO bid, but Jimmy Patronis still leads money chase,” by Florida Politics’ Gray Rohrer

— “Democratic women Senate candidates in new ads: We’re freedom fighters,” by Florida Politics’ Anne Geggis

AFTERMATHMar-a-Lago probe gives Trump plenty of headaches … and political benefits, too, by POLITICO’s Meredith McGraw: The FBI’s seizing of classified documents from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home has caused a massive legal headache for the former president. But inside Trump world, there is a belief that it has provided political gifts as he weighs a 2024 announcement. More than half of Republicans surveyed in a new Morning Consult/POLITICO poll — 52 percent — said they preferred Trump for president in 2024. While that number is down slightly from the 57 percent registered a month ago, it signals a continued stronghold in the party.

Out front — The last poll came shortly after the FBI executed its Florida search — the peak of GOP sympathy for Trump in the matter so far. This latest survey comes after weeks of damaging revelations related to that search, including that some of the documents contained the most sensitive classification markings. Nevertheless, Trump has maintained a steady lead over his top potential 2024 rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is preferred by 19 percent of Republicans.

AS THE PAGES TURNSpecial master to Trump’s lawyers: ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it,’ by POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney: “The senior federal judge tasked with reviewing the materials seized by the FBI from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate sharply questioned the former president’s attorneys Tuesday during their first hearing in his courtroom. Judge Raymond Dearie repeatedly challenged Trump’s lawyers for refusing to back up the former president’s claim that he declassified the highly sensitive national security-related records discovered in his residence.”

TAKING SIDES— “GOP attorneys general back Trump in court fight over Mar-a-Lago documents,” by Washington Post’s Andrew Jeong and Amy B Wang: “Texas’s Ken Paxton and 10 other GOP state attorneys general came to the defense of former president Donald Trump on Tuesday in his legal fight over documents the FBI seized last month, filing an amicus brief in a federal appellate court that argued the Biden administration could not be trusted. In a 21-page document that repeated numerous right-wing talking points but that experts said advanced little new legal ground, the officials accused the Biden administration of “ransacking” Mar-a-Lago, the Florida home of the former president, during an Aug. 8 court-authorized FBI raid and of politicizing the Justice Department.”

— “Trump thanks supporters for greeting him on return to Palm Beach County,” by Palm Beach Post’s Antonio Fins

— “Archives nominee to face questions over Mar-a-Lago search,” by The Associated Press’ Farnoush Amiri

REACTION — House Dems’ latest pre-election push: Stopping another Jan. 6, by POLITICO’s Nicholas Wu and Jordain Carney: House Democrats are rapidly pushing ahead on a new bill designed to prevent future election challenges. It carries the added benefit of helping them put Donald Trump back on the midterm ballot. Lawmakers are voting Wednesday on a proposal to modernize the 135-year-old law that Trump backers tried to use to their advantage on Jan. 6. After weeks of testing a MAGA-focused message on the campaign trail and the airwaves — one that scorches Republicans for the roles some played in Trump’s failed attempts to claim the second term he lost — the vote gives Democrats a chance to back it up with action.

WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET? — DeSantis calls for $1.1 B in ‘family friendly’ tax breaks, by POLITICO’s Gary Fineout: Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday pledged to push through $1.1 billion worth of tax breaks next year, some of them aimed at families with school-aged children and pet owners. DeSantis, who framed the push for the tax breaks as a counter to ongoing inflation that he says has been caused by President Joe Biden, also said he would advocate for a year-long removal of all sales taxes on common household items such as laundry detergent, paper towels and toilet paper as long as the items cost less than $25.

FOR YOUR RADAR — “Hurricane Fiona hammering Turks and Caicos as another tropical system could impact Florida,” by Palm Beach Post’s C.A. Bridges: “Hurricane Fiona strengthened to a Category 3 storm, making it the first major hurricane of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. The powerful storm has devastated Puerto Rico, pounding the island with relentless rain and winds that triggered mudslides, ‘catastrophic’ flooding and an island-wide power outage that still affects over 80% of the population. Fiona is likely to become a Category 4 hurricane in the next 72 hours. Meanwhile, another tropical system approaching the Caribbean has potential to develop into a tropical depression that could impact the Gulf Coast of Florida. Tropical Storm Gaston also formed in the central Atlantic.”

‘THEY’RE BUSY FIGHTING WITH EACH OTHER’ — Schumer blasts Puerto Rico’s utility, grid manager for power failures, by POLITICO’s Gloria Gonzalez: “Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is blaming ‘ongoing conflict’ between the entities behind Puerto Rico’s electric grid and their energy regulators for the sorry state of the power supply on the island territory, where millions of people remain in the dark two days after Hurricane Fiona struck. Friction pitting the government-owned Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and private LUMA Energy versus the territory’s Energy Bureau have hamstrung efforts to use billions of federal dollars to recover from Hurricane Maria in 2017, the New York Democrat said Tuesday.”

— “FEMA faces deep mistrust as it vows to help Puerto Rico respond to Fiona,” by Washington Post’s Reis Thebault, Andrea Salcedo and Marisa Iati

— “The river roared into their homes: A town in Puerto Rico struggles after Hurricane Fiona,” by Miami Herald’s Syra Ortiz-Blanes

REMOVED — “Gov. DeSantis suspends Miami-Dade commissioner Joe Martinez weeks after arrest,” by Miami Herald’s Douglas Hanks and Ana Ceballos: “Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday suspended Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez, weeks after Martinez’s Aug. 30 arrest on felony charges. There was no immediate word on who DeSantis would name as a replacement for Martinez, a fellow Republican representing a conservative district. But that’s sure to follow, with the Florida Constitution allowing a governor to appoint a successor to represent the 215,000 people who live in Miami-Dade’s District 11. DeSantis announced the suspension in a 1:10 p.m. press release, and it did not address the governor’s replacement plans. A statement from Martinez’s legal team said the suspended commissioner ‘offers his support to whomever the governor decides to appoint.’”

— “Former Joel Greenberg consultant charged with bribing public official,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Martin E. Comas

— “Sheriff Gregory Tony added to prosecutors’ list of cops with potential credibility issues,” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Lisa J. Huriash

— “Water official pockets $240,000 on public land sale, cites ethics ‘loophole,’” by Florida Center for Government Accountability News’ Bob Norman: “Running the water district that serves Parkland and Coral Springs has become an incredibly lucrative government job, a place where the official who manages it has made great sums of money in jaw-dropping ways. Among the personal windfalls for North Springs Improvement District chief Rod Colon is the pocketing of a $240,000 Realtor’s commission on the sale of a $4 million parcel of his own agency’s land, an FLCGA News investigation has found.”

BIRTHDAYS: State Rep. Michael Grieco … former State Sen. Denise Grimsley … former Rep. Bill GrantChris Dudley with The Southern Group … Aly Coleman, vice president of accounts for On 3 Public Relations.

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