Classified material keeps turning up at Donald Trump’s properties, as the former president faces heat from a federal investigation into whether he unlawfully held on to government secrets after leaving the White House. Meanwhile, Democrats were relishing Raphael Warnock’s victory in Georgia’s Senate race, capping a historic midterm election in which they stemmed their losses in the House and managed to get all of their senators re-elected.
Here’s a look back at what happened today:
The Congressional Black Caucus wants lawmakers to pass a long-stalled voting rights measure before the end of the year as Democrats try to make the most of their finals weeks controlling the House and Senate.
Sean Spicer, a former press secretary in Trump’s White House, is being roasted for mistaking today for the anniversary of D-day – when it is, in fact, the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The supreme court sounds skeptical of making a ruling in favor of Republican-backed state legislatures that could have a major impact on voting rights.
Second gentleman Doug Emhoff spoke out forcefully against antisemitism, warning of “an epidemic of hate facing our country”.
Republicans were playing the blame game after their poor midterm showing.
But what does Raphael Warnock think of the Trump question?
CNN caught up with the newly re-elected Democratic senator to ask him whether he thought the former president made a difference in his race. Here’s what he had to say:
In a speech today, second gentleman Doug Emhoff spoke out against antisemitism, warning that there’s “an epidemic of hate facing our country”:
Emhoff is the husband of Kamala Harris and the first Jewish spouse of a vice president. His speech came after Donald Trump sparked outrage by meeting with Nick Fuentes, a noted antisemite.
Well this is awkward.
The below video is of Indiana’s Republican senator Mike Braun decrying the quality of the party’s candidates in the midterms. Behind him stands Rick Scott, another senator who is chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee – which was tasked with retaking control of the chamber. He did not succeed:
The Congressional Black Caucus’ last-minute push to get voting rights legislation passed may already be making waves.
The lawmakers want the long-delayed bill attached to a year-end Pentagon funding proposal, and the House was this afternoon expected to vote on the rules for debate of the legislation. That vote has now been postponed:
“Members are advised that further information will be provided later today,” the office of Democratic majority leader Steny Hoyer said.
In other Mar-a-Lago shenanigans, ABC News reports that Liz Crokin, a well-known promoter of the QAnon and “pizzagate” conspiracy theories, turned up at an event at Donald Trump’s south Florida property.
Crokin was there to attend a documentary on sex trafficking, which ABC says is a major subject of concern for QAnon adherents. She managed to snag a photo with the former president, who is under fire for his recent dinner with rapper Ye and far-right activist Nick Fuentes, both of whom have made antisemitic remarks.
Here’s more from ABC’s report:
Videos and photos posted to social media appear to show Liz Crokin, a prominent promoter of QAnon and pro-Trump conspiracies theories, speaking at an event at Mar-a-Lago and later posing for photos with Trump. In one photo, the duo make a “thumbs up” sign together.
According to social media posts, the event was billed as a fundraiser in support of a “documentary” on sex trafficking -- one of the pillars of the QAnon conspiracy theory. The website for the film, which includes multiple falsehoods and claims of mass sex-trafficking in Hollywood, boasts that it is “Banned by YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and PayPal.”
Mar-a-Lago often hosts events for outside groups.
“You are incredible people, you are doing unbelievable work, and we just appreciate you being here and we hope you’re going to be back,” Trump said in remarks to the crowd, according to a video of his speech.
A representative for the Trump campaign did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
Congressional Black caucus makes final voting rights push
With Congress in the midst of a flurry of bill-passing before the year ends and newly elected lawmakers take their seats, Punchbowl News reports that the Congressional Black Caucus is making a last-ditch attempt to get a major voting rights bill passed.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act has been stalled since its August 2021 passaged in the House, after it failed to get enough support to make it through the Senate. Punchbowl reports that the caucus representing African-American lawmakers in both chambers wants the legislation attached to the annual defense spending bill, which is considered a priority for both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
A key test of whether their strategy will go anywhere may come this afternoon, when the House is set to vote on the rules for debate of the spending bill, according to Punchbowl.
CNN has been going around the Capitol, polling Republicans senators on whether they think Donald Trump is to blame for their candidates’ weak showing during the midterms.
While not an out-and-out break with the most recent White House occupant from their party, several acknowledged that Trump wasn’t much help in last month’s election. Here’s John Thune, the number-two Senate Republican:
Pat Toomey is the retiring senator from Pennsylvania, who is being replaced by Democrat John Fetterman in a major loss for the GOP:
Lindsey Graham is one of Trump’s biggest allies in Congress’s upper chamber. Here’s what he had to say:
More classified material found at Trump properties – reports
Attorneys for Donald Trump discovered two classified items among materials retrieved from a Florida storage unit rented for the former president, the Washington Post reports.
Trump hired an outside firm to search his properties for any classified items, in order to comply with a federal grand jury subpoena issued in May. The former president is under investigation for unlawfully retaining secret material after leaving the White House last year, which led to the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago property in August.
Besides the storage unit in West Palm Beach, Florida housing materials that had been moved from a northern Virginia office after his presidency, the outside firm also searched Trump-owned golf course in New Jersey and Trump Tower in New York.
Here’s more from the Post’s report:
The ultimate significance of the classified material in the storage unit is not immediately clear, but its presence there indicates Mar-a-Lago was not the only place where Trump kept classified material. It also provides further evidence that Trump and his team did not fully comply with a May grand jury subpoena that sought all documents marked classified still in possession of the post-presidential office.
In addition to the storage unit, the team hired an outside firm to carry out the search of his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., and, more recently, Trump Tower in New York, according to people familiar with the matter. The outside team also searched at least one other property.
The team also offered the FBI the opportunity to observe the search, but the offer was declined, the people said. It would be unusual for federal agents to monitor a search of someone’s property conducted by anyone other than another law enforcement agency.
Trump’s lawyers have told the Justice Department that the outside team did not turn up any new classified information during their search of Bedminster and Trump Tower, according to people familiar with the process, and have said they utilized a firm that had expertise in searching for documents.
The day so far
Democrats are relishing Raphael Warnock’s victory in Georgia’s Senate race, which caps a historic midterm election where they stemmed their losses in the House and managed to get all of their senators re-elected. The GOP’s underwhelming showing has several Republicans pointing their fingers at Donald Trump, saying candidates he’d handpicked for the election underperformed.
Here’s a look back at what has happened so far today:
Trump has hired an outside firm to look for classified documents at two of his properties to comply with a grand jury subpoena, the Washington Post reports.
Sean Spicer, a former press secretary in Trump’s White House, is being roasted for mistaking today for the anniversary of D-day – when it is in fact the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The supreme court sounds skeptical of making a ruling in favor of Republican-backed state legislatures that could have a major impact on voting rights.
The White House has announced that Joe Biden will speak this evening, at St Mark’s Episcopal Church in Washington, host to the 10th Annual National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence.
A White House update says the vigil is “a service of mourning and loving remembrance for all who have fallen victim to the ongoing epidemic of gun violence in America”.
The 10th anniversary of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, in which 20 young children and six adults were killed, falls a week from today.
Biden, as vice-president, saw attempts for meaningful gun reform fail, even after that massacre in Connecticut. But Chris Murphy, the Democratic senator from the north-eastern state, has campaigned for reform ever since.
He is now optimistic that more will soon be done. Last week, he told the Guardian: “Ten years ago, it would have been unthinkable for a gun safety bill to pass the Senate with NRA opposition. Now, a whole bunch of Republican senators know that the NRA does not even represent gun owners any longer. And thus, they’re not paying as much attention.”
From Washington, the Associated Press reports that “at least six supreme court justices sound skeptical of making a broad ruling that would leave state legislatures virtually unchecked when making rules for elections for Congress and the presidency”.
Here’s more on the case in hand, also from the AP:
Spicer under fire for D-Day tweet on Pearl Harbor anniversary
Sean Spicer, Donald Trump’s first White House press secretary and a Harvard politics fellow, has come under fire for a tweet in which he said today, 7 December, was D-Day.
Spicer wrote: “Today is Dday [sic]. It only lives in infamy if we remember and share the story of sacrifice with the next generation. #DDay.”
7 December is indeed an important second world war anniversary – that of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which brought the US into the war. It has been called many things, including, most famously and lastingly and by the then president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “a date which will live in infamy”.
But not D-Day. That was 6 June 1944, when allied navies sent forces ashore in France, at the start of the end of the war against Nazi Germany.
Pearl Harbor was primarily an attack on the US navy. According to US government figures, 2,008 members of the navy were killed, along with 218 members of the army, 109 marines and 68 civilians. Three US ships were destroyed and 16 damaged.
According to his own website, Spicer “holds a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the US Naval War College [and] has served over 20 years in the US Navy Reserve and is currently a commander”. He specialises in public affairs.
Amid a minor PR nightmare and Twitter storm, Spicer deleted his D-Day tweet and said: “Sorry. Apologies.”
Undeleted, a tweet from 2021 in which Spicer showed he knew when D-Day was and was happy to use that knowledge to attack Joe Biden, writing: “Yesterday was the anniversary of #DDay – no mention of it from the president. The White House press secretary says he might get around to it.”
Biden was widely attacked from the right for not formally marking D-Day last year.
But as the fact-checking website Snopes put it: “While neither Biden himself nor the White House, as such, publicly commemorated the 77th anniversary of D-Day in 2021, Vice-President Kamala Harris and first lady Jill Biden both did.”
Furthermore, “in his speech at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, 31 May, Biden briefly alluded to the D-Day landings, saying: ‘Here in Arlington lie heroes who gave what President Lincoln called ‘the last full measure of devotion’. They did not only die at Gettysburg or in Flanders Field or on the beaches of Normandy, but in the mountains of Afghanistan, the deserts of Iraq in the last 20 years.’”
How exactly did Raphael Warnock pull it off? The Guardian’s David Smith takes a deeper look at the Democrat’s strengths and his Republican challenger Herschel Walker’s flaws, and what it all means in the context of Donald Trump’s latest bid for the White House:
Sanity strikes again.
Raphael Warnock’s victory over Herschel Walker in the Georgia Senate runoff caps an election season in which the normal, the sensible and the fans of fact regained their voice and gave hope that, after long years in which American democracy was feared to be at death’s door, the patient is rallying.
In simple mathematics, the win gives Democrats 51 seats to Republicans’ 49 in the Senate, speeding up confirmation of Joe Biden’s administrative and judicial nominees and starving the conservative West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin of some of the oxygen he enjoys as the swing vote.
But more philosophically, it serves as another corrective to the notion that all America suddenly went mad on 8 November 2016, the day Donald Trump was elected instead of Hillary Clinton. Looking back, it’s pertinent to recall that Trump lost the popular vote by nearly three million and benefited from a unique cocktail of circumstances that included entrenched misogyny and running against the ultimate establishment politician.
Add Mick Mulvaney, Donald Trump’s former acting White House chief of staff, to the list of those casting doubt on his viability as a Republican standard bearer:
Beyond clinching the final victory in historically successful midterms for Democrats, Raphael Warnock also became the first Black senator elected to a full term from Georgia.
Here’s more about what the senator stands for, in his own words:
Senate Democrats take victory lap after Warnock win
The Senate’s Democratic leader Chuck Schumer jubilated this morning after Raphael Warnock won a full term to represent Georgia, ensuring Joe Biden’s allies will maintain control of the chamber for another two years:
That smiling man standing behind him is Gary Peters, chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, who helped pull off the party’s historic victory in the chamber: not since 1934 has the every senator from the president’s party been re-elected.
With Warnock’s victory and the addition of John Fetterman from Pennsylvania, Democrats now have outright control of the Senate for the next two years, meaning they won’t have to rely on vice-president Kamala Harris to break ties. It also means Joe Biden’s nominees for his cabinet and federal judiciary are likely to be confirmed, though any legislation the chamber passes could meet its demise in the House, which Republicans are taking over next year.
Finally, it dilutes the power of individual senators, who in the chamber’s current 50-50 split could exercise veto power over legislation simply by withholding their vote. The most affected by this will be West Virginia Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema, who wouldn’t support major parts of Biden’s agenda.
Herschel Walker’s own son was among those reveling in the Republican’s defeat in Georgia’s Senate race, the Guardian’s Richard Luscombe reports:
Among the many detractors celebrating Herschel Walker’s defeat in the Georgia Senate runoff was one closer to home: son Christian, who expressed his delight on Twitter that the state had rejected his controversial father.
“Don’t beat women, hold guns to peoples [sic] heads, fund abortions then pretend your [sic] pro-life, stalk cheerleaders, leave your multiple minor children alone to chase more fame, lie, lie, lie, say stupid crap, and make a fool of your family,” the younger Walker said in the first of a flurry of tweets posted on Tuesday night as the Democrat Raphael Warnock was projected to be the winner.
“And then maybe you can win a senate seat.”
Donald Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton has put the blame for the GOP’s loss in Georgia squarely on the former president:
Bolton is among the many Trump White House officials who fell out with him, and left his post in 2019.
His candidate lost in Georgia, and he had to hire people to search his own property for classified documents. It may only be Wednesday, but you can say that it’s already been a rough week for Donald Trump.
The former president is never shy about sharing his thoughts, and around midnight on the east coast last night – after it became clear Herschel Walker was going to lose in Georgia – he posted these words on his Truth social network: “OUR COUNTRY IS IN BIG TROUBLE. WHAT A MESS!”
Donald Trump hired an outside firm to search two of his properties for classified material and make sure that he had complied with a court order to turn over all such documents he possessed, the Washington Post reports.
Citing anonymous sources, the Post reports the searches took place at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf course and at Trump Tower in New York, the most recent property the investigators visited. The former president is being investigated for allegedly unlawfully retaining classified documents he took with him after he left the White House, and the searches were conducted to ensure he complied with a May grand jury subpoena to turn over all documents bearings classification markings.
Here’s more from the Post:
The team also offered the FBI the opportunity to observe the search, but the offer was declined, the people said. It would be unusual for federal agents to monitor a search of someone’s property conducted by anyone other than another law enforcement agency. Federal authorities have already searched Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s primary residence, and he spends almost all of his time at those three properties, advisers say.
Trump’s lawyers have told the Justice Department that the outside team did not turn up any new classified information during their search, according to people familiar with the process, and have said they utilized a firm that had expertise in searching for documents.
A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment. A spokeswoman for the FBI declined to comment.
“President Trump and his counsel continue to be cooperative and transparent,” Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said, accusing the Justice Department of committing an “unprecedented” and “unwarranted attack” against Trump and his family.
Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell told Trump’s legal team to continue to search for documents after the Justice Department expressed concerns that the team had not fully complied with a subpoena earlier this year. Howell, according to people familiar with the matter, did not give specific orders on how a search should be done.
The group first conducted a search of Bedminster, and Trump’s attorneys have now attested to the Justice Department that no further materials were found, two people familiar with the matter said.
Donald Trump was an extensive endorser in the 2022 midterm elections, typically of candidates who hewed at least partially to his baseless conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
But with Democrat Raphael Warnock victorious in Georgia’s run-off election for Senate – the last major outstanding race – it’s now clear that voters even in traditionally Republican areas were not interested in what Trump’s people were selling.
Here are a few of the most high-profile of his failed candidates. Call it a hall of shame:
Blake Masters, Senate candidate in Arizona, lost to sitting Democrat Mark Kelly. Democrat Katie Hobbs also won the governor’s race, ending a streak of Republican governors that dates back to 2009, but for her opponent Kari Lake, the race isn’t over: she’s refused to concede.
Mehmet Oz lost to Democrat John Fetterman in Pennsylvania’s Senate race, flipping the seat from Republican to Democratic control.
Adam Laxalt failed to unseat Democratic senator Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada, though the race was a squeaker.
Trump's pick loses again after Warnock triumphs in Georgia
Good mornings, US politics blog readers. If you are a Republican, you are probably sad about the loss of the party’s candidate Herschel Walker in Georgia’s Senate election last night – but not as sad as Donald Trump. Walker’s downfall at the hands of Democratic senator Raphael Warnock was the latest flop by one of the many candidates the former president had handpicked for a party that’s still apparently in his thrall.
Yet the GOP must be wondering what Trump’s influence is good for. They barely retook the House of Representatives and failed in winning the single Senate seat necessary to create a majority in that chamber in the midterms. Trump’s mounting legal troubles are seen as one of his major liabilities as he pursues another White House run – but his lackluster endorsement record could also cost him.
Here’s what’s on the agenda for today:
The supreme court is hearing a case on North Carolina’s congressional maps that could have big implications for voting rights.
Congress’s end-of-the-year lawmaking sprint continues, with lawmakers trying to broker an elusive immigration reform deal.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre briefs the press at 2pm eastern time.