Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 26, 2022

A judge orders the Justice Department to release redacted Trump search affidavit, a court blocks Arkansas' ban on gender-affirming care for transgender children, and more

1

Judge orders redacted Trump search affidavit unsealed

A federal judge in Florida on Thursday ordered the Justice Department to unseal, by noon Friday, a redacted version of the affidavit used to justify the FBI's Aug. 8 search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home in Florida. Judge Bruce Reinhart made the decision hours after the Justice Department submitted its proposal for redactions it said were necessary to shield witnesses from retribution and avoid compromising an ongoing investigation into Trump's handling of highly classified and top secret documents. Reinhart, who previously warned that extensive redactions could make the document meaningless, said he found DOJ's proposal "narrowly tailored to serve the government's legitimate interest in the integrity of the ongoing investigation."

2

Court blocks Arkansas ban on gender-affirming care for transgender kids

A three-judge federal appellate panel on Thursday barred Arkansas from enforcing its ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender children, upholding a lower court decision temporarily blocking the 2021 law. "Because the minor's sex at birth determines whether or not the minor can receive certain types of medical care under the law, Act 626 discriminates on the basis of sex," the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals judges said. The lower court will hold an October trial on whether to permanently block the law. Arkansas was the first state to prohibit doctors from providing gender-confirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers, or surgery to people under 18. The state's Republican attorney general said his office will ask the full appeals court to review the "dangerously wrong decision."

3

Trigger laws tighten abortion restrictions in five states

Restrictive abortion laws, triggered by the Supreme Court's overturning of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, took effect in Idaho, Tennessee, and Texas on Thursday, banning abortions in the states with few exceptions. A similar "trigger law," passed previously and designed to be enforced once a ruling struck down Roe, takes effect in North Dakota on Friday. An Oklahoma law imposing higher criminal penalties for performing illegal abortions goes into effect Saturday, tightening an existing state ban. The changes in these five states will sharply restrict access to abortion for about 10.1 million women of reproductive age, between 15 and 49, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health policy organization. Some of the laws face court challenges.

4

Putin signs decree to increase size of Russian military

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday signed a decree increasing the country's military by 137,000 troops to replenish Russia's forces, which have suffered extensive losses since the country invaded Ukraine six months ago. The move is designed to increase Russia's combat forces by 10 percent to 1.15 million soldiers, giving its military a total of 2.04 million personnel. The order also directed the Russian government to provide funding for the increase. A day earlier, Putin's defense chief conceded that Moscow's invasion of Ukraine had stalled. Russia gave up early plans to seize the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, but its forces have taken control of large parts of southern and eastern Ukraine, focusing on the industrial Donbas region.

5

Florida pair pleads guilty to stealing Ashley Biden's diary

Two Florida residents, Aimee Harris and Robert Kurlander, have pleaded guilty in a scheme to sell the diary and other property of Ashley Biden, President Biden's daughter, to the conservative group Project Veritas for $40,000, prosecutors said Thursday. "Harris and Kurlander sought to profit from their theft of another person's personal property, and they now stand convicted of a federal felony as a result," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams' office said. Harris, 40, moved into a room in a Delray Beach, Florida, home where Ashley Biden was storing her diary, tax records, a cellphone, and other items. Harris contacted Kurlander, who promised to help her make a "ton of money" and contacted Project Veritas.

6

Ukraine nuclear plant restores power, averting 'radiation accident'

Ukraine's largest nuclear power plant was briefly disconnected from the country's power grid after a fire damaged its last working transmission line, triggering a broad blackout, Ukraine's nuclear power company said Thursday. Backup generators kicked in and power to the facility was later restored, narrowly averting a "radiation accident," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said. Ukraine's nuclear energy company, Energoatom, blamed "the actions of the invaders" for the incident. Ukrainian and Russian officials have accused each other of recent shelling that has threatened the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe. The outage intensified fears that the fighting could cause a nuclear disaster. United Nations experts and world leaders have called for allowing inspectors to visit Zaporizhzhia.

7

Court strikes down Texas law barring adults under 21 from carrying handguns

A federal judge in Fort Worth on Thursday struck down a Texas law barring most adults ages 18 to 20 from obtaining a license to carry a handgun outside their homes. Two people within that age group and the Firearms Policy Coalition filed the lawsuit challenging the law, saying it prevented the plaintiffs from traveling with their weapons between counties where they lived, worked, and attended school. U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman wrote in his ruling that "the Second Amendment protects against this prohibition," because its guarantee of the right to bear arms does not specify an age limit. Pittman stayed the ruling pending appeal. 

8

Mark Meadows called to testify to Georgia grand jury investigating Trump

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has called for former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to testify to the Atlanta-area grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump's effort to overturn Georgia's 2020 presidential election result, Politico reported Thursday. Willis, who is overseeing the investigation, ordered Meadows to appear on Sept. 27. She is seeking testimony on Sept. 22 by former Trump-allied attorney Sidney Powell and cyber researcher James Waldron. A filing in the case says Meadows "was involved in setting up the call" in which Trump pressed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" enough votes to reverse his loss in the state to President Biden.

9

Sen. Marsha Blackburn meets Taiwan president

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), a member of the Senate Commerce and Armed Services committees, arrived in Taiwan on a U.S. military aircraft on Thursday, in the third visit by U.S. lawmakers this month. China, which considers the self-governing democratic island part of its territory, launched military exercises near Taiwan after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) visited in early August. "Taiwan is our strongest partner in the Indo-Pacific Region.... I will not be bullied by Communist China into turning my back on the island," said Blackburn, who met with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen early Friday. A spokesperson for China's Embassy in Washington said Beijing would respond with "resolute countermeasures" to such U.S. "provocations."

10

Djokovic withdraws from U.S. Open because he's unvaccinated

Tennis star Novak Djokovic said Thursday he's withdrawing from the U.S. Open, explaining he "will not be able to travel" to the United States to play because he has not been vaccinated against COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires non-U.S. citizens to show proof of vaccination before entering the country. In January, Djokovic was forced to miss the Australian Open for the same reason. He arrived in the country to play but was deported after his visa was canceled. Djokovic played at Wimbledon, but missing out on the Australian and U.S. Opens have delayed his shot at winning a 22nd major championship, tying Rafael Nadal for the men's record.

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