First Thing: FBI seizes documents at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home

·8-min read
<span>Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Good morning.

Federal investigators have seized documents from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, according to two sources familiar with the matter, the latest indication of a sharply intensifying criminal investigation by the US justice department into his affairs.

The FBI executed a search warrant yesterday morning at Trump’s residence, the sources said, as part of an ongoing investigation examining the former president’s potentially unlawful removal and destruction of White House records after he left office last year.

The move by the justice department to search Mar-a-Lago over the removal of 15 boxes of presidential records from the White House, including classified documents, as well as the destruction of other materials, marks a dramatic escalation in the inquiry.

“My beautiful home, Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” Trump said in a bitter statement on Monday evening, adding: “They even broke into my safe!”

  • Was Trump at home at the time of the raid? No. The former president was at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, one of the sources said.

  • How did the Republicans react to the news about the raid? They responded furiously to the development, following Trump’s lead in claiming that the search showed the justice department waging a politically motivated witch-hunt. It’s a familiar playbook.

  • What lawsuits and investigations is Trump facing? The businessman and politician is facing investigations and lawsuits on a number of fronts. Here’s our recap.

Russia suspends US inspections of its nuclear weapons arsenal

Russian military parade rehearsal in Moscow
A Russian RS-24 Yars nuclear missile seen in Moscow in 2020. Russia has suspended the New Start treaty, which allows mutual inspection of US and Russian nuclear weapons. Photograph: Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA

Russia has suspended an arrangement that allowed US and Russian inspectors to visit each other’s nuclear weapons sites under the 2010 New Start treaty, in a new blow to arms control.

Mutual inspections had been suspended as a health precaution since the start of the Covid pandemic, but a foreign ministry statement on Monday added another reason Russia is unwilling to restart them. It argued that US sanctions imposed because of the invasion of Ukraine stopped Russian inspectors travelling to the US.

“There are no similar obstacles to the arrival of American inspectors in Russia,” the statement said. “The Russian foreign ministry raised this issue with the relevant countries, but did not receive an answer.”

The US state department did not immediately respond to the claim that the sanctions created an imbalance when it came to nuclear weapons inspections. A spokesperson said: “The United States is committed to implementation of the New Start treaty, but we keep discussions between the parties concerning treaty implementation confidential.”

  • The treaty, which limits each country’s deployed strategic warheads to 1,550, and imposes limits on delivery systems, was extended for five years in February 2021. Its inspection and verification clauses are widely seen as vital in building mutual confidence and preventing nuclear miscalculation.

Tributes flow for Olivia Newton-John after Grease star’s death

Federation Square in Melbourne is lit up pink as a tribute to British-born Australian singer and actor Olivia Newton-John.
Federation Square in Melbourne is lit up pink as a tribute to British-born Australian singer and actor Olivia Newton-John. Photograph: Diego Fedele/EPA

Hollywood, musicians and Australian leaders are mourning Olivia Newton-John, who died on Monday at her southern California ranch at the age of 73. The Grease star and chart-topping singer, who publicly discussed her breast cancer since her first diagnosis in 1992, died surrounded by family and friends, according to a statement posted to her Facebook page by her widower, John Easterling.

Shortly after her family’s announcement, tributes began pouring in from former costars to longtime celebrity admirers of the soft-rock icon – Newton-John sold more than 100m records and charted nearly 40 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 during her nearly five decades in music.

Her Grease costar John Travolta posted to Instagram: “My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better. Your impact was incredible. I love you so much. We will see you down the road and we will all be together again. Yours from the moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!”

Singer Dionne Warwick tweeted: “Another angelic voice has been added to the Heavenly Choir. Not only was Olivia a dear friend, but one of the nicest people I had the pleasure of recording and performing with.”

  • When was she diagnosed with breast cancer? In 2017, she revealed the breast cancer she had first suffered in 1992 had returned and had spread to her spine. She also revealed she’d had a second cancer diagnosis in 2013 but had kept it quiet. A cause of death has not yet been confirmed.

  • Was she in any other films? After soaring to fame in Grease, she became the queen of the movie soundtrack album. Her roles in oddball hits Xanadu and A Mom for Christmas meant audiences never stopped loving her.

In other news …

Joe Biden delivers remarks after meeting with families affected by the recent flooding in Kentucky in Lost Creek yesterday.
Joe Biden delivers remarks after meeting with families affected by the recent flooding in Kentucky in Lost Creek yesterday. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP
  • Joe Biden toured parts of eastern Kentucky devastated by the worst flooding in the state’s history yesterday and pledged to help recovery, while his spokesperson warned that the climate crisis was having an impact on such events there and across America.

  • The Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, famed for his pleated style of clothing that never wrinkles and who produced the signature black turtleneck of his friend and Apple founder Steve Jobs, has died. Miyake, whose name became a byword for Japan’s economic and fashion prowess in the 1980s, died on 5 August of liver cancer, aged 84.

  • The actor Ezra Miller has been charged with felony burglary in Stamford, Vermont, the latest in a string of alleged incidents involving the star. The felony charge adds to Miller’s mounting legal woes, reports of erratic behaviour and accusations of harassment and assault.

  • China used its military drills last week to prepare for an invasion of Taiwan, and its anger over US speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit was just an excuse, Taiwan’s foreign minister has said. He said the military activities would have taken far longer to prepare than the timeframe of it being a direct response to Pelosi’s visit.

  • Officials in Canada’s easternmost province have issued a state of emergency as crews battle the worst wildfires the region has experienced in more than half a century. Sprawling blazes have consumed thousands of hectares of forest in Newfoundland and Labrador over the last two weeks and remain out of control.

Don’t miss this: the Texas colonias waiting decades for running water

Immigrants bought cheap plots a generation ago with a promise that tap water was coming. Now, a quarter-century later, water still has not arrived. Cochran in south Texas is one of more than 2,000 colonias along the US-Mexico border, according to a 2015 report by the Rural Community Assistance Partnership. About 840,000 people live in these substandard housing developments, including more than 134,000 that are not served by public water systems, waste treatment facilities, or both.

Climate check: landmark US climate bill will do more harm than good, groups say

The US Capitol in Washington DC
Bill makes concessions to the fossil fuel industry as frontline community groups call on Biden to declare climate emergency. Photograph: Stefani Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

The landmark climate legislation passed by the Senate after months of wrangling and weakening by fossil fuel-friendly Democrats will lead to more harm than good, according to frontline community groups who are calling on Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency. If signed into law, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) would allocate $369bn to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions and invest in renewable energy sources but the bill also makes a slew of concessions to the fossil fuel industry.

Last Thing: how our arts writer unexpectedly became the lead character in a new play

Charlotte Higgins
Charlotte Higgins: ‘My life was turned into a romcom!’ Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The Guardian

Charlotte Higgins was thrilled that her history book about Roman Britain was being adapted for the stage – until she realised it was being reimagined – and she and her partner were the romantic leads. She writes: “To transform my rather serious book into a play, then, Greig has turned it into a romcom (or Rome-com, as he insists on calling it). Its two characters are Charlotte and Matthew. They are classics nerds who, not in the first flush of youth, fall in love exploring Roman remains on a road trip.”

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