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The FBI raid in Florida heard around the world- POLITICO

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Hello and welcome to Tuesday.

Lightning— A political thunderbolt struck Florida with the news Monday that former President Donald Trump’s home in Palm Beach — Mar-a-Lago — had been raided by FBI agents in a move that is unprecedented and has immediately turned into a maelstrom that could suddenly upend the midterm elections. One Republican state legislator was already calling for an emergency special session.

What we know— The raid, according to POLITICO and other outlets, resulted in the seizure of paper records, and is centered around the alleged mishandling of White House records, including potentially classified material. The raid apparently came while Trump was out of the state. The former president routinely leaves Florida during the hot summer months. Reports say that top Biden administration officials were unaware of the raid — which was first reported by Florida Politics via Twitter early Monday evening.

What we don’t know— What was the evidence used to convince a judge — as well as the top echelons of the Justice Department — to issue the search warrant that was used to carry out the raid, that apparently lasted for hours. Why would law enforcement take such a drastic step just ahead of the elections amid such a polarizing environment?

Fallout — Regardless of what law enforcement authorities concluded the reaction has been swift and harsh from Republicans, including Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio, with calls from some to dismantle federal agencies. DeSantis’ political Twitter account called the raid “another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the regime’s political opponents, while people like Hunter Biden get treated with kid gloves.” Sen. Rick Scott demanded that the FBI explain what it was doing. State Attorney General Ashley Moody went on Fox News late Monday calling for the release of the warrant and affidavit used to justify the search and said the FBI better have a “rock solid case.”

Warnings — Rubio issued several responses. He started with a tweet that said “Using government power to persecute political opponents is something we have seen many times from 3rd world Marxist dictatorships.” He eventually followed it up with a tweet that said “Biden is playing with fire by using a document dispute to get the @TheJusticeDept to persecute a likely future election opponent. Because one day what goes around is going to come around.”

Pushing back— DeSantis’ reaction drew sharp criticism from his two Democratic rivals for governor. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried sharply retorted to DeSantis that “your tweet is another escalation of your pathetic loyalty to an insurrectionist over country and the rule of law.” Fried vowed to hold a press conference this morning in front of the governor’s mansion “to remind Floridians that nobody is above the law.” This was Rep. Charlie Crist’s take: “Ron DeSantis attacks law enforcement for legally raiding Mar-a-Lago while he’s yet to say anything about the heinous Nazis in our state who’ve been rallying in support of him.” This of course is far from over.

— WHERE’S RON? — Nothing official announced for Gov. DeSantis, but a local online news outlet reported DeSantis will be in Nantucket, Mass., for a fundraiser.

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THE RAID— “FBI searches Trump safe at Mar-a-Lago Club, former president says,” by Washington Post’s Devlin Barrett, Mariana Alfaro, Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany: “Former president Donald Trump said Monday that the FBI had raided his Mar-a-Lago Club and searched his safe — activity related to an investigation into the potential mishandling of classified documents, according to two people familiar with the probe. One of the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss its details, said agents were conducting a court-authorized search as part of a long-running investigation of whether documents — some of them top-secret — were taken to the former president’s private golf club and residence instead of sent to the National Archives when Trump left office.”

Armed Secret Service agents stand outside an entrance to former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump said in a lengthy statement that the FBI was conducting a search of his Mar-a-Lago estate and asserted that agents had broken open a safe. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) | AP

IN HIS CORNER — DeSantis comes to Trump’s defense after FBI search,” by POLITICO’s Matt Dixon: A Florida GOP operative also highlighted that the FBI’s action could politically benefit both DeSantis and Trump, though for differing reasons. “This is a unique opportunity for DeSantis because he can highlight the ongoing battle with the radical left and at the same time further distance himself from Trump,” said a veteran Florida Republican operative, granted anonymity to speak freely about the situation. “DeSantis continues to be the perfect combination of political skill and good fortune.”

— “If Trump broke a law on the removal of official records, would he barred from future office?” by The New York Times’ Charlie Savage

THE WILES FACTOR— “She helped Trump win Florida twice. Now she could lead his expected 2024 campaign,” by CNN’s Gabby Orr and Steve Contorno: “Susie Wiles was searching for her next act when Donald Trump came knocking last spring. Plotting a comeback after his supporters violently stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, was proving to be tougher than the former President had anticipated, and he needed someone to whip his disorderly political operation into shape. Surrounded by advisers who he suspected had only stuck around to make money, Trump began asking close friends who else could be trusted to take on the unenviable task. ‘After all the drama of his first term and the election, everyone was enriching themselves through Trump, and he f**king hates that. It became clear after several people mentioned her name that Susie wouldn’t be like that,’ said a person close to Trump.”

ON THE MOVE — DeSantis to headline rallies for key GOP candidates across the country, by POLITICO’s Matt Dixon: Ron DeSantis is taking his growing clout among national Republicans on the road, where he’ll be the main attraction at events for Senate and gubernatorial candidates in key races across the country. The Republican Florida governor later this month is hosting a series of rallies with conservative education group Turning Point Action to boost campaigns for Arizona Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters and the state’s GOP nominee for governor, Kari Lake; Ohio Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance; and Pennsylvania’s GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who was at the Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

LET ME ROLL IT— Florida marijuana company seeks to legalize pot through a ballot initiative, by POLITICO’s Arek Sarkissian: Medical marijuana company Trulieve launched a new campaign on Monday to legalize pot in 2024 with a $5 million contribution toward a ballot initiative and a partnership with a popular rock duo from Pasco. The Tallahassee-based medical marijuana company filed paperwork with the Florida Department of State to form a new political committee called Smart & Safe Florida. The group is proposing to put forth a ballot initiative asking voters to support expanding the state’s current medical marijuana law to allow the industry to sell pot products for recreational use.

PRIMARY COLORS— The Florida conservatives likely heading to Congress, thanks to DeSantis, by POLITICO’s Gary Fineout: Several Florida conservatives who question President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory could be heading to Congress in November, thanks to the state’s contentious redistricting process muscled through the Legislature by Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Republicans who have a shot at winning their Aug. 23 primaries include a Trump-backed candidate who alleged her rivals were plotting to kill her, a state legislator who blasted GOP leaders in the Florida House as “RINOs,” and a state senator who sponsored legislation banning abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and transgender women and girls from competing in women’s sports.

DEMINGS-RUBIO — A new online poll conducted on behalf of progressive groups in Florida showed a tie between Rep. Val Demings and Sen. Marco Rubio. The poll, which was done on behalf of the Florida Communications and Research Hub, found that that Rubio and Demings each got 45 percent of from those surveyed. The poll was conducted in late July with registered voters and included a turnout model where Republicans would outperform Democrats. It has a margin of error of plus/minus 2 percent.

Demings’ campaign touted the new poll — which was first reported on by Florida Politics — as evidence that their “momentum continues to grow” in her effort to defeat the two-term incumbent. The one caveat about the new poll, which also showed that about a third of the electorate still doesn’t know a lot about Demings, is that it was done online without any live phone calls. The reason that’s noteworthy is because it’s not clear if pollsters can get an accurate reading of older voters based on a strictly online poll.

Anders Croy with Florida Watch said that the poll was conducted in English & Spanish involving a panel put together by polling firm Clarity that has been built since the 2020 cycle. “What that means is these voters are interviewed regularly, with some people floating in & out on the margins,” Croy said in an email. The other significant number from the poll is that it showed Gov. Ron DeSantis barely edging Rep. Charlie Crist 47 percent to 44 percent and DeSantis beating Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried 49 percent to 43 percent.

The polling numbers come as ad spending continues to accelerate in the contest between Demings and Rubio. AdImpact reported Monday that Demings purchased another $1.21 million in broadcast and cable ads that will air in the next week. That brings her total for the campaign to $20.6 million. The National Republican Senatorial Committee working in concert with Rubio.

CAMPAIGN ROUNDUP— POLITICO’s Zach Montellaro reports that Demings was among this week’s leaders in spending on Facebook ads. Demings spent $140,387 (paid for by “Val Demings for U.S. Senate”), according to data gleaned from Facebook’s ad archive. The ads are geared at raising money for his Senate campaign. …

… Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is leaving her post to run for governor, pushed out a digital ad on Monday that criticized Rep. Charlie Crist for running for U.S. Senate in 2010 instead of seeking a second term as governor. The ad suggested Crist’s action led to the elections of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis as governors and Marco Rubio as U.S. senator….

… The ad features old news clips, including one narrated by veteran and recently retired television journalist Mike Vasilinda. And he’s called it “troubling.” “It just seems wrong on so many levels. I own the content. No one bothered to reach out to me,” Vasilinda told Playbook. “It made me sound like I’m narrating her commercial.” Political campaigns often use news clips in their television ads — which they are allowed to do under the “fair use” doctrine of U.S. copyright law.

… State Senator Jason Pizzo endorsed Ryan Morales in the Democratic primary for agriculture commissioner.

… Florida Transportation Builders Association is endorsing Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis for reelection.

— “DeSantis is ‘scarier’ opponent than Trump, say Democrats,” by The Hill’s Amie Parnes

— “‘We’d love to have more voters’: How early voting is going so far in South Florida,” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Lisa J. Huriash

— “Democrats rescind Naomi Blemur endorsements after ‘anti-choice,’ ‘homophobic’ posts emerge,” by Florida Politics’ Renzo Downey

TO COURT— DeSantis, businesses square off against Florida’s ‘anti-woke’ law, by POLITICO’s Andrew Atterbury: A federal judge weighed arguments Monday on a fresh challenge seeking to block enforcement of Florida’s contentious bill restricting what Gov. Ron DeSantis calls “woke” workplace trainings about race. The second lawsuit filed against the so-called “Stop-WOKE” Act targets how the law affects private businesses opposed to public schools, claiming that it is causing “dramatic chilling effects on free speech” and will hamper diversity, equity and inclusion trainings. Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker did not offer any substantial hints on how he would rule during Monday’s hearing, yet he had clear reservations about how companies could lead those trainings while remaining objective, as called for under the new state law.

LISTENING HOUR— Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls is launching a second season of his “Read, White and Blue” podcast where he interviews authors of books that have influenced his legislative agenda. The second season kicks off on Tuesday — National Book Lovers Day — with Vivek Ramaswamy, author of “WOKE, INC.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam. Others authors who will be appearing on the podcast include Jonathan Issac (“Why I Stand”), James Patterson (“Run, Rose, Run”) and Kellyanne Conway (“Here’s the Deal”). “The public policy we have passed out of the Florida House over the past two years has pushed Florida into a position of leadership on shifting the power back to citizens, parents and everyday Americans,” Sprowls said in a statement. “On Season 2 of ‘Read, White & Blue,’ I explore with bestselling authors some of the best books about these issues — from woke capitalism to children’s literacy to law and order.”

PAUSED— Tampa religious school granted exemption amid Title IX flap over student lunches, by POLITICO’s Andrew Atterbury: A federal lawsuit appears to be on hold after the Biden administration last week granted a religious exemption to a Tampa private school challenging recent USDA guidance prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation tied to school lunches. The move, which came on Friday, prompted the school, Grant Park Christian Academy, to claim victory for the low-income students it says were at risk of losing out on free meals “because their school will not violate their religious beliefs.”

TURNABOUT — “New Hillsborough state attorney reverses some of Andrew Warren’s policies,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Dan Sullivan: “Newly-appointed Hillsborough State Attorney Susan S. Lopez told her staff Monday that she will reverse some of the policies enacted by her predecessor, Andrew Warren, who was removed from office last week by Gov. Ron DeSantis. In a memo addressed to the ‘amazing dedicated public servants’ of the State Attorney’s Office, Lopez wrote that she would immediately rescind policies enacted by Warren that called for ‘presumptive non-enforcement’ of certain laws.”

MEANWHILE— “‘Constitutional’ sheriff movement escapes DeSantis’ scrutiny,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Skyler Swisher: “Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren isn’t the only elected official in Florida who has promised not to enforce laws he thinks are unconstitutional. Some elected sheriffs have suggested they wouldn’t enforce gun control measures, tapping into an ideology that sheriffs are the final arbiter of what is constitutional. But that movement hasn’t sparked action from Gov. Ron DeSantis, who ordered a statewide review of state attorneys and their policy positions.”

FOR YOUR RADAR— “Orange County’s rent control law would be a first in Florida,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Stephen Hudak: “If Orange County commissioners put a rent-control referendum on the November ballot, they’ll be the first in Florida to try. Tenants struggling to pay monthly rents that have jumped an average of 30% in the past year are pleading for relief, rallying in support of a measure proposed by Commissioner Emily Bonilla to limit how much a landlord can jack up the cost of rental housing. The commission, which kicked around Bonilla’s idea twice in June and at its July 26 meeting, will debate it again Tuesday with renters hopeful the board will finally decide to put the issue on the general-election ballot for voter approval as required by a 1977 state law.”

— “Joel Greenberg associates may plead guilty in fraud case, attorneys say,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Martin E. Comas

— “Gabby Petito’s family files claim alleging police failed her,” by The Associated Press’ Brady McCombs and Sam Metz

— “Florida’s new parental rights laws annoy but don’t faze these teachers,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Jeffrey S. Solochek

— “Escambia and Santa Rosa school districts hired hundreds, but still need more teachers,” by Pensacola News Journal’s Colin Warren-Hicks

— “After 2 Canaveral failures, Astra Space kills rocket, leaves NASA hurricane satellites without a ride,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Richard Tribou

— “Monkeypox outbreak in FL is closing in on 1,000 cases,” by Florida Phoenix’s Diane Rado

— “Judge: property sale will pay fallen Florida condo’s taxes,” by The Associated Press’ Curt Anderson: “Money from the sale of Florida beachfront property where a collapsed condominium tower once stood will be used to pay property taxes of the destroyed units, a judge ordered Monday. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman said in a brief ruling that the 2022 tax payments should not be deducted from the $96 million previously earmarked to compensate owners of the 136 units of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida. The building collapsed June 24, 2021, killing 98 people.”

BIRTHDAYS: State Rep. Keith Truenow … Emmett Reed, CEO of Florida Health Care Association … Mark Harper with the Daytona Beach News-Journal

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