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Week in politics: Justice Department appeals judge's order in Mar-A-Lago case

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Here in the U.S., the judge overseeing the Mar-a-Lago case has gone ahead and appointed an independent arbiter - special master - to review the documents the FBI seized from former President Trump's Florida home. And that could mean more delays for the FBI investigation into whether any laws were broken. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith joins us to go over the week's news.

Tam, thanks so much for being with us.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Good to be with you.

SIMON: The Justice Department last night appealed part of Judge Cannon's decision. What are they asking for?

KEITH: They filed an appeal in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals asking to be able to have access to about a hundred classified documents. Now, that is a small share of the government documents that were taken from the former president's Florida home during that execution of a court-approved search warrant. So this is a pretty narrow appeal. And it means that, at least for now, they aren't trying to stop the special master's review of some 11,000 other documents. In the filing, the Justice Department writes that the government still thinks Judge Cannon erred in appointing a special master. But they are only seeking to stay the portions of her order that are, quote, "causing the most immediate harm to the government and the public." So in the short, they want to keep working on the investigation while this review plays out.

SIMON: The former president was asked this week about what would happen if he is indicted in an interview with the conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, and his answer alarmed many.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: If it happened, I think you'd have problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we've never seen before. I don't think the people of the United States would stand for it.

HUGH HEWITT: What kind of problems, Mr. President?

TRUMP: I think they'd have big problems - big problems.

SIMON: Donald Trump went on to say he was not inciting violence, just making a prediction. What's your estimation?

KEITH: Well, this is quite something - similar to something that Trump's ally Senator Lindsey Graham said a few weeks ago when he said that there would be riots in the streets if Trump was indicted. And these are not idle warnings. The violent rhetoric in pro-Trump social media channels is at a fever pitch. And there have been incidents, like that man who tried to attack an FBI field office. But even if you take Trump at his word that he isn't trying to incite violence, his message included nothing telling supporters that it would be wrong or, you know, any sort of message of calm or an effort to turn down the volume. But the celebration of chaos and predictions of trouble, quote, "the likes of which you've never seen" is something that he has had as part of his political lexicon for a long time. Meanwhile, he is teasing his third campaign for the White House and said in that same interview, if he were to be indicted, that would not stop him from running for president again.

SIMON: Last of the primaries took place this week, and two days later, the winning Republican senatorial candidate in New Hampshire changed his platform. Donald Bolduc had run on the position that Donald Trump actually won the 2020 election, which, to be clear, once again, he did not. But let's listen to his answer on Fox News when asked if he still believes the election was stolen.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD BOLDUC: So, you know, we - you know, live and learn, right? And I've done a lot of research on this. And I've spent the past couple of weeks talking to Granite Staters all over the state from, you know, every party. And I have come to the conclusion - and I want to be definitive on this - the election was not stolen.

SIMON: Live and learn - what seems to have changed his thinking?

KEITH: The general election. This is a really stunning example of something that happens all the time. Candidates moderating their positions from the primary election, where, you know, it's the party faithful who turn out, and you benefit from extreme positions, to the general election, where you have to win over independents and more moderate members of your own party. New Hampshire is a true purple state that has tended towards moderate candidates. And so now you have this very dramatic recalibration. But this is something that is playing out in races all over the country, with Republican candidates scrubbing their websites of things like claims that 2020 election was stolen or hard-line positions on abortion access.

SIMON: Tamara Keith, NPR White House correspondent, host of the NPR Politics Podcast. Tam, good to have you along this week. Thanks so much for being with us.

KEITH: Yeah. So good to be with you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.