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Political Notebook

Grand jury in Florida hints at unknown complexities in Trump documents inquiry

Former president Donald Trump.SOPHIE PARK/NYT

The latest twist in the inquiry into former president Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents is the surprise revelation that a previously unknown federal grand jury in Florida has recently started hearing testimony in the case.

The grand jury in Florida is separate from the one that has been sitting for months in Washington and has been the center of activity for prosecutors as they investigate whether Trump mishandled classified documents after leaving office or obstructed efforts to retrieve them. Among those who have appeared before the Washington grand jury in the past few months or have been subpoenaed by it, people familiar with the investigation said, are more than 20 members of Trump’s Secret Service security detail.


But there are indications that the Washington grand jury may have stopped hearing witness testimony in recent weeks, according to three people familiar with its workings.

As for the Florida grand jury, which began hearing evidence last month, only a handful of witnesses have testified to it or are scheduled to appear before it, according to the people familiar with its workings. At least one witness has testified there, and another is set to testify on Wednesday.

It is an open question why prosecutors impaneled the Florida grand jury — which is sitting in US District Court in Miami — and whether it is now the only one hearing testimony. This uncertainty, which is largely due to the secret nature of grand juries, serves to underscore how much about the management of the documents case by special counsel Jack Smith remains out of public view.

In simple terms, the people familiar with the matter said, if both grand juries are in operation, it suggests that prosecutors are considering bringing charges in both Washington and Florida. It is possible that Trump could be charged in one jurisdiction while other people involved in the case are charged in the other.


But if only the Florida grand jury is currently hearing testimony, it suggests two possibilities.

One is that the investigation in Washington is largely complete and that prosecutors are now poised to make a decision about bringing charges there while still weighing other potential indictments in Florida.

The other is that Smith has decided that Florida is the proper venue for any charges he might bring in the case and has moved the entire grand jury proceeding there, they said.

New York Times

Lawmakers pursue those studying disinformation

Republican House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan and his allies in Congress are demanding documents from and meetings with leading academics who study disinformation, increasing pressure on a group they accuse of colluding with government officials to suppress conservative speech.

Jordan’s colleagues and staffers met Tuesday on Capitol Hill with a frequent target of right-wing activists, University of Washington professor Kate Starbird, two weeks after they interviewed Clemson University professors who also track online propaganda, according to people familiar with the events.

Last week, Jordan of Ohio threatened legal action against Stanford University, home to the Stanford Internet Observatory, for not complying fully with his records requests. The university turned over its scholars’ communications with government officials and big social media platforms but is holding back records of some disinformation complaints. Stanford told The Washington Post that it omitted internal records, some filed by students. The university is negotiating for limited interviews.


The push caps years of pressure from conservative activists who have harangued such academics online and in person and filed open-records requests to obtain the correspondence of those working at public universities. The targeted researchers study the online spread of disinformation, including falsehoods that have been accelerated by former president and candidate Donald Trump and other Republican politicians. Jordan has argued that content removals urged by some in the government has suppressed legitimate theories on vaccine risks and the COVID-19 origins as well as news stories wrongly suspected of being part of foreign disinformation campaigns.

Last month, the founder of the conspiracy theory-prone outlet the Gateway Pundit and others sued Starbird and Stanford academics Alex Stamos and Renée DiResta, alleging that they are part of a “government-private censorship consortium” that tramples on free speech.

Washington Post

Man accused in Whitmer plot plans to change plea

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A man accused of supporting a foiled plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor plans to change his not-guilty plea, records show.

Shawn Michael Fix, 40, of Belleville, is one of five men charged with providing material support for an act of terrorism in the scheme to abduct Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 at her northern Michigan vacation home. Police broke up the plan and Whitmer was not physically harmed.

Fix is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday in Antrim County Circuit Court in Bellaire. He also is charged with possessing a firearm while committing a felony.

His lawyer and the state attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the case, did not immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages Tuesday.


Associated Press

Judge denies Santos bid to keep backers private

A federal magistrate judge on Long Island, N.Y., on Tuesday ruled against Representative George Santos’ request to keep private the identities of people who guaranteed his $500,000 bail bond last month, but delayed their release to allow the New York congressman time to appeal.

The decision by the judge, Anne Y. Shields, came after media organizations, including The New York Times, requested their release. The groups had argued that the identities of the three individuals who initially stepped in to help Santos after his indictment were a matter of intense public interest.

Santos’ lawyer had firmly opposed disclosing the names of the so-called sureties, arguing in a letter Monday evening that they were “likely to suffer great distress, may lose their jobs, and God forbid, may suffer physical injury.”

The lawyer, Joseph Murray, contended that Santos, 34, was willing to go to jail to protect his sureties’ anonymity, and asked that the judge allow them time to potentially withdraw. Government prosecutors had not objected to identifying them.

Shields was not persuaded by Santos’ arguments, but she gave him until noon Friday to appeal her decision to a district court judge on Long Island. She also took the unusual step of sealing her decision to protect the names until the appeal was ruled upon.

Legal experts said there was little chance Santos would actually be detained even if his sureties were to back out. But the fight over their identities raised new legal and ethical complications as the Republican congressman fights charges of fraud, money laundering and stealing public funds.


Murray shared a letter with the court Monday showing that the bipartisan House Ethics Committee was already scrutinizing the bail arrangement.

New York Times