August 12, 2022
Today, the House of Representatives passed the Inflation Reduction Act, a sweeping bill that will invest more than $430 billion in climate change and extended subsidies for the Affordable Care Act. It will raise about $737 billion over the next ten years by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, adequately staffing the Internal Revenue Service after years of cuts so it can catch people cheating on their taxes, and raising the tax rate on rich corporations to require them to pay a minimum of 15%.
The vote was 220 to 207, along party lines, although the measures in the bill are widely popular. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) didn’t lose a vote, even among those Democrats concerned the measure doesn’t go far enough. For their part, Republicans have been misrepresenting the bill to justify their opposition: Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) has called it a “war on seniors” because he says it cuts Medicare spending. That’s a misleading read on a provision that is expected to save $265 billion by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.
This bill is a huge deal for the country and for the Biden administration, launching us into a new era in which we take serious steps to address climate change, start to rein in the costs of healthcare, and begin again to ask the very wealthy to pay their share of the costs of running our country, and yet it has been overshadowed by today’s other big story.
After days of attacks on the FBI and the Justice Department by former president Trump and his supporters for the Monday search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, today a federal judge unsealed the search warrant and the property receipt for that search. The warrant shows that agents were investigating whether Trump violated the Espionage Act.
The property receipt reveals that agents reclaimed for the United States more than 26 boxes of documents, including ones labeled “classified/TS/SCI,” which means “top secret/sensitive compartmented information.” This is highly classified material that is available only to those necessary to the project, and must be discussed, used, and stored only in secure locations because its release to the public would cause “exceptionally grave” damage to our national security.
Trump’s lawyer Christina Bobb, who is also an anchor for the right-wing One America News Network, signed the property receipt.
Even before the release of the warrant, Trump had offered a number of excuses for taking documents to Mar-a-Lago and then keeping them despite a subpoena for their return. First, he blamed FBI agents for planting them on the premises, riling up his base against the FBI. That effort continued today: before the judge unsealed the documents, it appears Trump leaked them to Breitbart, which published them without blacking out the names of the agents who executed the search warrant, evidently intended to menace them.
Then he claimed that while he had taken only a few documents, former president Barack Obama had taken 33 million. This afternoon, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) put out a statement clarifying that it took possession of all Obama’s presidential records when he left office in 2017 and that it moved about 30 million unclassified pages of them to a “NARA facility in the Chicago area where they are maintained exclusively by NARA. Additionally, NARA maintains the classified Obama Presidential records in a NARA facility in the Washington, DC, area. As required by the P[residential] R[ecords] A[ct], former President Obama has no control over where and how NARA stores the Presidential records of his administration.”
Now he and his allies are saying that he declassified all the documents he took out of the Oval Office, so the recovered documents were no longer classified. The fact they were not marked declassified, as required, was simply because White House counsel didn’t get the paperwork done.
But there is a process for declassification; a president can’t just say something is declassified. Further, as legal analyst and former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa clarified, a president cannot unilaterally declassify nuclear secrets.
Legal analyst Joyce White Vance said, “Even if this is true & it holds up (I’ve got significant doubts) what does it say that Trump declassified materials that put our national security in grave danger? And that the Republican Party continues to support him?”