Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 2, 2022

An appeals court shuts down the "special master" reviewing documents seized from Trump, the Senate passes a bill to avert a rail strike, and more


Appeals court shuts down 'special master' for seized Mar-a-Lago documents

A three-member appeals court panel on Thursday struck down a lower court's appointment of an outside "special master" to review documents the FBI seized from former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida. In a unanimous ruling, the judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta said the lower-court judge, Trump appointee Aileen Cannon, should not have named an outside expert to review the records, which allegedly included government secrets that should have been turned over to the National Archives. The judges sharply criticized Cannon, saying that creating "a special exception here would defy our nation's foundational principle that our law applies 'to all, without regard to numbers, wealth, or rank.'" It was unclear whether Trump would appeal.


Senate passes bill to avert holiday season rail strike

The Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a bill to impose a proposed contract on freight railroads and their unions to prevent a Dec. 9 strike that could have devastated the economy. The 80-15 vote sends the legislation to President Biden for his signature. Biden this week called on Congress to step in to avert a walkout, which could have disrupted the distribution of food, water, and fuel. Under the agreement, brokered by the Biden administration but rejected by four of the 12 railway workers' unions, employees would get pay raises of about 24 percent by 2024 and increased flexibility when they need time off. A second measure, which sought the paid sick leave union members were holding out for, fell short of the 60 votes needed to get past a Republican filibuster.


Supreme Court to hear Biden's appeal of ruling blocking his student-debt relief plan

The Supreme Court said Thursday it would hear President Biden's appeal to overturn a lower-court ruling blocking his student-loan forgiveness program. The high court, however, said the program would remain blocked while the appeal is pending. Oral arguments are set for February, with a decision expected by June. Biden's plan would provide up to $10,000 of student-debt relief to people making less than $125,000 per year, with up to $10,000 more in forgiveness for recipients of Pell grants. The Biden administration started two weeks ago to notify applicants who had been approved. About 26 million applied for the program before an appeals court froze it in November, reversing a district court ruling against a group of states that challenged it.


Biden hosts Macron in administration's 1st state visit

President Biden met with his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, Thursday at the White House, where the two leaders discussed settling their differences on economic policy and pressuring Russia to end its war in Ukraine. "France is one of our strongest partners and most capable allies and Emmanuel has also become a friend," Biden said after the meeting. Macron openly accused the U.S. of protectionist trade policies, particularly on clean energy measures in the Inflation Reduction Act, but praised Biden, saying France and the United States "want to succeed together, not one against the other." After the meeting, Biden hosted Macron in a lavish dinner, part of the first state visit of Biden's presidency.


Cochise County, Arizona, election supervisors certify vote after court loss

An Arizona judge on Thursday ordered Cochise County's board of supervisors to certify the county's votes in the 2022 midterms by 5 p.m., and two of the three supervisors then met and did so. The third supervisor, Tom Crosby, skipped the court-ordered meeting and did not vote. Crosby and the other Republican on the board, Peggy Judd, had voted against certifying the vote by Monday's state-mandated deadline, while their Democratic colleague, Ann English, voted to certify both times. Pima County Superior Court Judge Casey McGinley agreed with Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the Democratic governor-elect, that the supervisors in rural, heavily Republican Cochise County were "duty bound" to certify the results, given that no votes were missing from the county's totals.


Biden proposes having South Carolina, not Iowa, launch Democrats' primaries

President Biden is calling for South Carolina to become the first state to hold a Democratic Party presidential nominating contest in 2024, replacing Iowa, a mostly white state that has traditionally launched primary season. "We must ensure that voters of color have a voice in choosing our nominee much earlier in the process and throughout the entire early window," Biden wrote in a letter to members of the Rules and Bylaws Committee that was delivered Thursday night. Biden also proposed having New Hampshire and Nevada hold their contests next, followed by Georgia and Michigan. Iowa has held its caucuses first for five decades. South Carolina gave Biden a boost in 2020, propelling him to the nomination.


Judge sentences Gaetz friend for sex crime, corruption

U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell on Thursday sentenced Joel Greenberg, a former Florida tax collector and friend of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), to 11 years in prison for sex trafficking of a minor and several other federal crimes. Greenberg, whose arrest led to a federal investigation against Gaetz over whether he paid a 17-year-old girl for sex, was accused of stalking a political opponent, public corruption, making fake licenses, and other crimes. Prosecutors accused Greenberg of paying at least one girl to have sex with him and other men. Greenberg pleaded guilty to six federal crimes, and his attorney pleaded for leniency, saying Greenberg helped in investigations of 24 people. "Nothing justifies my actions. My conduct is so shameful," Greenberg said Thursday.


Musk suspends Kanye West's Twitter account over swastika post

Elon Musk on Thursday suspended Kanye West from Twitter, two weeks after reinstating the rapper's account, which was suspended in October over antisemitic content. Musk said via Twitter that West, who now goes by Ye, "again violated our rule against incitement to violence." The move came after West posted a Jewish Star of David merged with a swastika. Shortly before the suspension, Ye posted an unflattering photo of Musk in a swimsuit, but Musk said the fat-shaming had nothing to do with the suspension. Later, on rival social media site Truth Social, Ye posted screenshots purporting to be text exchanges with Musk. "Sorry, but you have gone too far," Musk apparently wrote about the swastika image. Ye replied: "Who made you the judge."


Letter bombs sent to Spanish PM, U.S. embassy intercepted

Spanish officials said Thursday they would step up security measures after the discovery of the latest of six letter bombs sent to targets that included the country's prime minister and the U.S. embassy. The latest bomb was intercepted Thursday afternoon at the security post of the U.S. Embassy in Madrid. The letter was detonated in a controlled environment without injuring anyone, U.S. officials said. Security at the embassy had been increased after other embassies received suspicious packages on Wednesday. A U.S. State Department representative said the U.S. would "continue to evaluate the security situation and provide updates as appropriate. The US Embassy in Madrid remains open for American Citizen Services. We thank Spanish law enforcement for their assistance."


Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry dies at 84

Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry, a two-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher, died Thursday in his home in Gaffney, South Carolina. He was 84. Perry's family said he "passed away peacefully at his home after a short illness." Perry, a master of the spitball, was the first Major League Baseball player to win the Cy Young Award in both leagues. He won in 1972 after a 24-16 season with Cleveland, then again in 1978 after going 21-16 for San Diego at age 40, in the last of his five 20-win seasons. "Before I won my second Cy Young, I thought I was too old — I didn't think the writers would vote for me," Perry said in an article on the National Baseball Hall of Fame website. "But they voted on my performance, so I won it."


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