Judge grants Trump’s request for special master over Mar-a-Lago raid | First Thing

Federal court accepts ex-president’s call for official to set aside materials potentially subject to privilege protections. Plus, Chris Rock on Will Smith’s apology video

Good morning.

A federal judge has granted Donald Trump’s request to have a “special master” appointed to review documents the FBI seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate that could be subject to privilege protections in the investigation into unauthorized retention of government secrets.

The order from the US district court judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, also temporarily barred the justice department from reviewing the documents for its criminal inquiry until the special master completes their work, in a decision that marked a procedural victory for the former president.

Cannon wrote in her 24-page ruling, however, that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) could continue to review the seized materials for its separate inquiry into whether Trump’s retention of documents with classified markings at Mar-a-Lago risked national security.

Cannon gave Trump’s legal team and the DoJ until Friday to file a proposed list of special master candidates.

  • Will the DoJ appeal? Yes, it would probably appeal against the decision to the US court of appeals for the 11th circuit, officials said, though in the meantime it will almost certainly delay the investigation into potential violations of the Espionage Act and potential obstruction of justice.

‘Fat Leonard’, contractor in US navy’s worst corruption scandal, flees house arrest

A US navy guided-missile destroyer
A US navy guided-missile destroyer. Francis and his company are accused of overcharging the military by almost $35m. Photograph: US NAVY/AFP/Getty Images

A Malaysian businessman who pleaded guilty in the US navy’s worst corruption scandal has escaped house arrest in San Diego after cutting off his monitoring bracelet, federal authorities have said.

Leonard Glenn Francis, known as Fat Leonard, who pleaded guilty in 2015 to offering $500,000 in bribes to navy officers, was due to be sentenced in a few weeks.

The supervisory deputy, US marshal Omar Castillo, said Francis had fled from his home on Sunday morning, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Officers who arrived at the property found it empty but discovered parts of his broken GPS tracker bracelet.

Francis, who ran a military contracting company in Singapore, is accused of offering the services of sex workers, as well as lavish meals that cost thousands of dollars to gain insider information and influence. Navy officers were given luxury gifts of wine, Cuban cigars and sums of cash, according to prosecutors.

  • When was he arrested? Francis was arrested in a San Diego hotel room during a sting in 2013, and pleaded guilty two years later. He has had various health problems, including kidney cancer, and has been held at a private residence since 2018.

  • Why has he made an escape now? It’s unclear, as he had been acting as a cooperating witness for a federal prosecutor, but he was due to be sentenced on 22 September.

Boris Johnson delivers farewell speech at Downing Street

Boris Johnson and his wife, Carrie Johnson, leave 10 Downing Street, London.
Boris Johnson and his wife, Carrie Johnson, leave 10 Downing Street, London. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

Boris Johnson has departed No 10, vowing the government will bail out struggling Britons from rising energy bills in his final speech, as well as sending a final broadside about his resignation as prime minister.

He said the “baton will be handed over”, adding that his premiership had “unexpectedly turned out to be a relay race – they changed the rules halfway through”.

Johnson said it was a “tough time for the economy, a tough time for families up and down the country. We can and we will get through it and we will come out stronger”.

In a message to Conservative MPs, Johnson said it was “time for politics to be over” and called for people to back Liz Truss. “That is what the people of this country want, that’s what they need and that’s what they deserve.”

A large crowd of MPs and staffers watched Johnson’s departure, including the outgoing culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, the Johnson loyalist Jacob Rees-Mogg and MPs from the 2019 intake, as well as Johnson’s sister Rachel.

  • How did Johnson hand over to Truss? The outgoing PM flew to Balmoral to tender his formal resignation to the Queen in the morning. Truss was received by the Queen after Johnson’s visit and officially asked to form a government, the point at which she became prime minister.

In other news …

Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau
Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, paying tribute to the victims of the stabbings. Photograph: Patrick Doyle/Reuters
  • One of the suspects in the stabbing deaths of 10 people in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan has been found dead, police said, but they warned that his accomplice remained at large. The body of Damien Sanderson was found with visible wounds in a grassy area near a house.

  • More than 80 million people in the eastern US were under flash flood watches late yesterday, marking still more extreme weather in a country reeling from record heatwaves in some regions, as the US increasingly feels the effects of the climate crisis.

  • Joe Biden used a Labor Day speech in the battleground state of Wisconsin to endorse the expansion of unions, reiterating his election promises to be the “most pro-union president” in American history. Drawing on Franklin D Roosevelt’s explicit support for unions during the New Deal, Biden said: “I am encouraging unions.”

  • At least 35 civilians were killed and 37 wounded when a convoy carrying supplies in Burkina Faso’s jihadist-hit north struck an improvised explosive device, the governor of the Sahel region has said. The landlocked African state is in the grip of a seven-year insurgency that has claimed more than 2,000 lives.

Stat of the day: Instagram owner Meta fined €405m over handling of teens’ data

Young girl looking at social media apps on a smartphone
The Data Protection Commission in Ireland regulates Meta on behalf of the entire EU. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Instagram owner Meta has been fined €405m (£349m) by the Irish data watchdog for letting teenagers set up accounts that publicly displayed their phone numbers and email addresses. The Data Protection Commission confirmed the penalty after a two-year investigation into potential breaches of the EU’s general data protection regulation (GDPR). The penalty is the highest imposed on Meta by the watchdog, after a €225m fine imposed in September 2021 for “severe” and “serious” infringements of GDPR at WhatsApp and a €17m fine in March this year.

Don’t miss this: David LaChapelle on vulnerability, moving to Hawaii and his mentor Andy Warhol

David LaChapelle
David LaChapelle: ‘It was a dream I didn’t allow myself to dream.’ Photograph: Sarah Lee/The Guardian

The photographer David LaChapelle – best known for his hyperreal, surrealistic portraits of pop stars – has come full circle. Running away from the bullying he received as a queer teenager in his native Connecticut, LaChapelle found an artistic path forward in 1980s New York City, becoming an acolyte of Andy Warhol. Following in the footsteps of his mentor, he built an artistic career obsessed with the mysterious juncture of consumerism and celebrity. Known for portraits of Britney Spears, Eminem, Tupac and Angelina Jolie, the world-famous photographer discusses his long career ahead of a new retrospective.

… or this: ‘I couldn’t date a climate change denier!’ The couples who bond – and split – over love for the planet

climate change love composite for G2
‘I looked at him and knew we could be activists together’ … Jon Bonifacio and Mitzi Jonelle Tan. Composite: KathyDewar; Suriyapong Thongsawang/Getty Images

As the climate crisis worsens, people around the world are changing their lifestyles to reduce their carbon footprints. From everyday choices such as whether to drive or eat meat, to bigger decisions about whether to fly and have kids, the crisis is increasingly influencing how people choose to live – and who they choose to love. From debates about plastic bags to guilt about bringing children into the world, environmental issues are increasingly shaping our relationships.

Climate check: large parts of Amazon may never recover, major study says

Smoke rises from an illegally lit fire in a rainforest reserve south of Novo Progresso in Pará state, Brazil.
Smoke rises from an illegally lit fire in a rainforest reserve south of Novo Progresso in Pará state, Brazil. Photograph: Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images

Environmental destruction in parts of the Amazon is so complete that swathes of the rainforest have reached tipping point and may never be able to recover, a major study carried out by scientists and Indigenous organisations has found. “The tipping point is not a future scenario but rather a stage already present in some areas of the region,” the report concludes. “Brazil and Bolivia concentrate 90% of all combined deforestation and degradation. As a result, savannization is already taking place in both countries.”

Last Thing: Chris Rock says Will Smith’s public apology was ‘a hostage video’

Chris Rock, left, and Will Smith.
Chris Rock, left, and Will Smith. Photograph: AP

Chris Rock has described Will Smith’s attempts to apologise for slapping him at the Oscars as a “hostage video”. Speaking at the latest of his joint gigs with fellow comic Dave Chappelle, Rock referred to Smith’s July YouTube post offering contrition for his attack. “Fuck your hostage video,” said Rock, who also referred to the actor as “Suge Smith” – a comparison with the notorious, currently imprisoned Death Row Records executive Suge Knight.

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Nicola Slawson

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