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Trump lawyers in classified docs case ask judge to suppress evidence seized during Mar-a-Lago search

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Trump lawyers in classified docs case ask judge to suppress evidence seized during Mar-a-Lago search
News

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Trump lawyers in classified docs case ask judge to suppress evidence seized during Mar-a-Lago search

2024-06-26 04:28 Last Updated At:04:31

FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) — Lawyers for Donald Trump on Tuesday asked the judge presiding over his classified documents case to prevent prosecutors from using as evidence boxes of records seized during an FBI search of his Florida estate.

The arguments marked the conclusion of a three-day hearing in which prosecutors and defense lawyers have sparred over topics ranging from the legality of the appointment of special counsel Jack Smith, whose team brought the case, to whether the Republican former president should be barred from making comments that could pose a risk to the safety of FBI agents involved in the investigation.

Trump faces dozens of felony counts accusing him of illegally hoarding classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach and obstructing government efforts to get them back. He has pleaded not guilty.

At issue Tuesday was a defense request to suppress the boxes of records that were taken from Mar-a-Lago during the Aug. 8, 2022, FBI search. Defense lawyers contend that the application that the Justice Department submitted to a judge to obtain a warrant to search the property omitted key facts and provided misleading information, in part because it did not include details of internal Justice Department debate about whether the search of the property was an appropriate step.

One of Trump's lawyers, Emil Bove, also told the judge that the warrant permitted an overly expansive search of the sprawling estate, allowing for Trump's personal papers to be seized in addition to documents with classified markings. He asked for what's known in the law as a Franks hearing to further argue that the warrant application was defective and that the resulting evidence should be suppressed,

“The overbreadth of that search violated President Trump's rights,” Bove said.

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee whose handling of the case has generated intense scrutiny, did not immediately rule but expressed repeated skepticism of his lawyers' arguments and signaled that she was not inclined side with them.

Prosecutor David Harbach said that there was nothing misleading about the warrant application and that none of the defense objections had any bearing on whether or not the investigators who applied for the warrant had identified probable cause that a crime had occurred, the legal standard.

He suggested that it was reasonable for agents to have conducted a broad search of the property given the unconventional locations, including a restroom, where records were kept.

“There's nothing about it that remotely even touches on the whether there was probable cause in this case,” Harbach said.

On Monday, Cannon appeared deeply skeptical of a prosecution request to make as a condition of Trump's freedom pending trial a requirement that he avoid comments that might pose a risk to law enforcement officials involved in the case. The judge had a tense exchange with Harbach during those arguments, telling him at one point that she didn't appreciate his tone. He later apologized.

Tuesday's hearing ended on another fractious note when Harbach attempted to complain to the judge about a defense strategy that he said was resulting in needless delays, saying Trump's attorneys had made an “attempt to hijack the hearing” with baseless claims.

That's a sensitive subject given that Cannon's willingness to entertain assorted Trump team motions and her plodding pace in issuing rulings has contributed to a delay that has made a trial — which had been scheduled to begin last month before being indefinitely postponed — before the November presidential election a virtual impossibility.

“There's no hijacking going on,” she replied tersely.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures to the crowd at a campaign rally, Saturday, June 22, 2024, at Temple University in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures to the crowd at a campaign rally, Saturday, June 22, 2024, at Temple University in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Saturday, June 22, 2024, at Temple University in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Saturday, June 22, 2024, at Temple University in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Saturday, June 22, 2024, at Temple University in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Saturday, June 22, 2024, at Temple University in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

A United Kingdom-based aid group said one of its senior employees in Gaza was killed Friday in an Israeli strike that hit its warehouse located in an Israeli-declared humanitarian safe zone. The strike also killed three staffers from other aid groups using the warehouse, the Al-Khair Foundation said in a statement.

The Israeli military said Husam Mansour, the Al-Khair Foundation member who was killed, was in fact a senior Hamas militant. Israel said he used his position with the humanitarian group to raise money for Hamas.

After a two-week Israeli offensive in northern Gaza, dozens of bodies were collected throughout Gaza City’s Tel al-Hawa neighborhood and brought to Al-Ahli Hospital on Friday morning. Civil defense workers said they were still recovering dead and wounded from destroyed streets and buildings.

Israel launched the war in Gaza after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250. Since then, Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 38,300 people in Gaza, according to the territory’s Health Ministry. It does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.

Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are crammed into squalid tent camps in central and southern Gaza. Israeli restrictions, fighting and the breakdown of law and order have limited humanitarian aid efforts, causing widespread hunger and sparking fears of famine. The top United Nations court has ordered Israel to take steps to protect Palestinians as it examines genocide allegations against Israeli leaders. Israel denies the charge.

Currently:

— Israeli army acknowledges Oct. 7 failures, including slow response times and disorganization.

— Emergency workers uncover dozens of bodies in a Gaza City district after Israeli assault.

— Argentina designates Hamas a terrorist group in a show of support for Israel.

— Head of U.S. aid agency says Israel has pledged to improve safety for humanitarian workers in Gaza.

— Yemen’s Houthi rebels fired an Iranian missile at ship, debris analyzed by U.S. shows.

— Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Gaza at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

Here’s the latest:

UNITED NATIONS — The head of the United Nations agency helping Palestinian refugees says a donors conference raised enough money to keep its operations in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon running until the end of September.

Philippe Lazzarini told the pledging conference at its opening Friday morning that the agency known as UNRWA only had funds until the end of August.

At the end of the conference, he told reporters the total amount in pledges wouldn't be known until the following week. But he said he is confident there will be enough new money in its $850 million annual budget to keep the agency running for another month and pay its 30,000 staff who provide education, primary health care and other development activities to about 6 million Palestinian refugees.

In the coming months, Lazzarini said UNRWA will be seeking funds to keep its operations going through December – and for emergency appeals for $1.2 billion for the Gaza war and $460 million for the Syria crisis, both of which are less than 20% funded.

UNRWA has been underfunded for years, but 2024 has been dire since Israel alleged that 12 of the agency’s 13,000 workers in Gaza participated in Hamas’ Oct. 7 surprise attack in southern Israel that sparked the ongoing war in Gaza. The agency terminated the contracts of all those employees. Still, 16 countries suspended funding UNRWA, amounting to about $450 million.

Lazzarini told reporters that 14 donors have officially resumed funding and he believes “very soon” a 15th country — the United Kingdom — will come back.

The United States, which was the biggest donor to UNRWA, providing the agency with $340 million in 2022 and several hundred million in 2023, was among the countries halting funding. The U.S. Congress has prohibited any payments to UNRWA until March 25, 2025.

UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations chief launched an appeal for the beleaguered U.N. agency helping Palestinian refugees in Gaza and elsewhere in the Middle East, accusing Israel of issuing evacuation orders in the war-torn territory forcing Palestinians “to move like human pinballs across a landscape of destruction and death.”

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the donor’s conference at U.N. headquarters Friday that the agency, known as UNRWA, faces “a profound funding gap” — and Palestinians are also seeing widening gaps in respect for international humanitarian law, and recognition of their human rights and dignity.

The U.N. is appealing for $1.2 billion to cover critical humanitarian needs in Gaza and the West Bank through the end of the year, UNRWA’s Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini said.

“This appeal and the emergency appeal for Syria, Lebanon and Jordan are less than 20% funded,” he said. “The agency’s ability to operate beyond August depends on member states disbursing planned funding and making new contributions to the core budget.”

The U.N. is appealing for funds for its $850 million annual budget as well as $1.2 billion in emergency funds to cover critical humanitarian needs in Gaza and $460 million for the Syria crisis, he said, adding that the Gaza and Syria appeals are less than 20% funded.

Guterres said nothing justifies Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks in southern Israel, and “nothing justifies the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

The Hamas attack killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and led to the abduction of about 250 people. Since then, Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 38,300 people in Gaza, according to the territory’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.

Guterres said Israel’s latest evacuation orders in Gaza City have seen more civilian suffering and bloodshed, and UNRWA hasn’t been spared: “195 UNRWA staff members have been killed, the highest staff death toll in U.N. history.”

“They are the backbone of humanitarian operations in Gaza," the secretary-general said.

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The Palestinian Health ministry said a 26-year-old Palestinian man was shot and killed by Israeli forces on Friday near the West Bank city of Ramallah, as ongoing violence roils the Israeli-occupied territory.

Commenting on the shooting, the Israeli army said its forces opened fire at a group of Palestinians who were hurling bricks and “explosive devices” at troops during a military raid into the village of Abwein, 37 kilometers (22 miles) north of Ramallah.

No further information about the shooting was made public. The military later released a photo of what appeared to be a homemade pipe bomb allegedly found at the scene.

Violence has spiked in the West Bank since the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza erupted last October. Over 570 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank since then, according to data from the Palestinian Health Ministry.

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — A U.K.-based aid group said one of its employees in Gaza was killed Friday in an Israeli strike that hit its warehouse located inside an Israeli-declared humanitarian safe zone.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the loss of a senior aid worker, Engineer Husam Mansour who was killed in an air strike on a warehouse where essential food items were being prepared for aid distribution,” Al-Khair Foundation said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.

Imam Qasim Rashid Ahmad, the group’s director in London, said the strike also killed three staffers from other aid groups using the warehouse.

The Israeli military said that Mansour was in fact a senior Hamas militant. It said he used his position with the humanitarian group to raise money for Hamas.

The warehouse was located in Muwasi, a largely rural area on Gaza’s Mediterranean coast that is part of a “humanitarian safe zone” where Israeli has told Palestinians fleeing its offensives to take refuge. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in makeshift tents are crowded in the approximately 60-square-kilometer zone (23 square miles).

Still, Israel has carried out airstrikes inside the zone. The Israeli army did not immediately respond to AP’s request for comment on Friday’s strike.

Al-Khair Foundation is an Islamic non-governmental organization based in London and Turkey.

BEIRUT — A Hamas political official said Friday that the Palestinian militant group is still insisting on written guarantees from mediators in the ongoing cease-fire negotiations that Israel will not resume the war after the first group of Israeli hostages held in Gaza are released.

While the two sides have agreed on a general framework for a deal, the main sticking point remains that Hamas wants it to result in a permanent cease-fire, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that any agreement “must allow Israel to return to fighting until all the objectives of the war are achieved.”

Ahmed Abdul-Hadi, the head of Hamas’ political office in Lebanon, said Hamas has been “flexible” on some points but continues to insist that “negotiations should continue for a permanent cease-fire until a permanent cease-fire is reached,” as opposed to the wording in the current proposal, under which the cease-fire should continue as long as negotiations continue.

“Netanyahu can stop the negotiations and thus resume the aggression” at any time, he said. “We want something in writing to ensure that negotiations continue … in order to reach a permanent cease-fire.”

He denied reports that the group’s leadership inside Gaza had pressured political leaders outside to accept the deal on the table due to the military pressure it is facing, saying that the “military situation is very solid for the resistance (Hamas) and is better than the early days of the war.”

Abdul-Hadi said that Hamas does not expect to resume its role as the ruling party in Gaza after the war but wants to see a Palestinian government of technocrats. However, he said the form that future governance in the enclave should take is “a Palestinian matter that is agreed upon by the Palestinian people” and is not on the table in the current negotiations.

“We do not want to rule Gaza alone again in the next phase,” he said. “We want to have a partnership and national consensus.”

Abdul-Hadi said a meeting between Hamas and its main rival, Fatah, is expected to take place in China later this month and that “We hope that this meeting will result in a national consensus.” The meeting was previously scheduled to take place last month but was postponed, with the two sides trading blame for the delay.

Dozens of bodies collected throughout a western neighborhood of Gaza City arrived at Al-Ahli Hospital on Friday morning as Palestinian emergency workers said they continued to unearth the dead throughout the neighborhood’s destroyed streets and buildings.

The hospital’s director, Fadel Naem, told The Associated Press that people both dead and wounded had been brought to the hospital from the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood, transported in groups of up to 10, amid sniper fire and the buzz of helicopters.

Meanwhile, emergency crews from the civil defense were continuing to recover bodies scattered in destroyed streets and buildings, where entire families appear to have been killed by artillery fire and aerial bombardment, Mahmoud Basal, the group’s spokesperson said.

The Israeli army said it could not comment on its activities in the area.

“There are homes that we cannot reach, and there are those who were burned inside their homes,” Basal said, noting many of those who were killed had left nearby shelters after being ordered to evacuate.

In recent months, Israel has intensified operations in various neighborhoods of Gaza City, including the Shati refugee camp and the Shijaiyah district, and has issued multiple evacuation orders in the north of the territory.

The scenes in Tel al-Hawa mirror those in other Gaza City neighborhoods from which Israel’s military has withdrawn in recent days. On Thursday, civil defense workers found 60 bodies in Shijaiyah under similar circumstances, with more believed to be buried under rubble.

JERUSALEM — Israel’s military said Friday that one of its soldiers was killed in combat in northern Israel as the country’s army and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah continue to trade cross-border fire.

The military did not specify how the 33-year-old sergeant was killed.

The Iranian-backed group and Israel have been trading near daily exchanges of fire since the Israel-Hamas war broke out last year.

Hezbollah says it is striking Israel in solidarity with Hamas, another Iran-allied group that ignited the war in Gaza with its Oct. 7 attack into southern Israel. The group’s leadership says it will stop its attacks once there is a cease-fire in Gaza, and that while it does not want war, it is ready for one.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden acknowledged disappointments, missteps and frustrations with Israel’s hard-right government Thursday, but pointed to increased hopes now of a cease-fire to end the Israel-Hamas war devastating the lives of Gaza’s people.

Biden looked back over the course of his efforts in Israel’s war against Hamas during a much-watched press conference at the site of the just ended NATO summit.

He called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government the most conservative Israeli administration he had experienced, and said he had urged Israeli leaders not to follow the example that the U.S. set against al-Qaida and other extremist militant groups. “’Don’t think that’s what you should be doing, doubling-down,”’ he recounted telling them.

He said he had been “disappointed” his order for the U.S. military to build a pier to bring aid by sea to Gaza, along with some other efforts, “have not succeeded as well.”

But Biden said Israel and Hamas had now both agreed to the broad terms of a deal to pause fighting and free hostages, and said that made prospects brighter now. Mediators were helping work on gaps in agreement, he said.

Israeli soldiers sit on their vehicle near the Israel-Gaza border in southern Israel, Friday, July 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Israeli soldiers sit on their vehicle near the Israel-Gaza border in southern Israel, Friday, July 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

An Israeli tank maneuvers near the Israel-Gaza border in southern Israel, Friday, July 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

An Israeli tank maneuvers near the Israel-Gaza border in southern Israel, Friday, July 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

An Israeli tank maneuvers near the Israel-Gaza border in southern Israel, Friday, July 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

An Israeli tank maneuvers near the Israel-Gaza border in southern Israel, Friday, July 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

An Israeli tank maneuvers near the Israel-Gaza border in southern Israel, Friday, July 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

An Israeli tank maneuvers near the Israel-Gaza border in southern Israel, Friday, July 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

In this image taken from video, Palestinians returned to scenes of destruction in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood on Thursday, July 11, 2024, after Israeli troops withdrew following a two-week offensive. (AP Photo)

In this image taken from video, Palestinians returned to scenes of destruction in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood on Thursday, July 11, 2024, after Israeli troops withdrew following a two-week offensive. (AP Photo)

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the central Gaza Strip, Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the central Gaza Strip, Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

In this image taken from video, Palestinians returned to scenes of destruction in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood on Thursday, July 11, 2024, after Israeli troops withdrew following a two-week offensive. (AP Photo)

In this image taken from video, Palestinians returned to scenes of destruction in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood on Thursday, July 11, 2024, after Israeli troops withdrew following a two-week offensive. (AP Photo)

A Palestinian man holds the body of his child killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, at a hospital morgue in Deir al-Balah, Tuesday, July 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

A Palestinian man holds the body of his child killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, at a hospital morgue in Deir al-Balah, Tuesday, July 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

An Israeli soldier dismounts from his tank near the Israel-Gaza border in southern Israel, Friday, July 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

An Israeli soldier dismounts from his tank near the Israel-Gaza border in southern Israel, Friday, July 12, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

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