Your Friday Briefing

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.Credit…Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock

Garland moves to unseal Trump search warrant

Merrick Garland, the U.S. attorney general, moved to unseal legal authorization for the F.B.I.’s search of Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s home in Florida. He said yesterday he had personally approved it after “less intrusive” attempts to retrieve documents taken by the former president failed and cited the “substantial public interest in this matter.”

A person briefed on the matter said investigators were concerned about material from what the government calls “special access programs,” a designation typically reserved for sensitive operations carried out by the U.S. abroad. There was concern that allowing those highly classified documents to remain at Mar-a-Lago would leave them vulnerable to efforts by foreign adversaries to acquire them, a source said.

Trump’s lawyers have until 3 p.m. E.D.T./8 p.m. B.S.T. today to oppose the motion to release the warrant and the inventory, a step that could delay or block release of the material. Some of his aides were reportedly leaning toward doing so. But in a late-night post, Trump said he would not oppose the release. “I am going a step further by encouraging the immediate release of these documents,” he said.

Background: The Justice Department subpoenaed Trump this spring — months before the F.B.I.’s search — for documents he was believed to have taken from the White House.

Timing: The public statement by Garland came as a sprawling set of investigations into the former president on multiple fronts was gaining momentum.

Russia is experiencing a high rate of casualties in the war in Ukraine.Credit…Emile Ducke for The New York Times

Losses leave Russia short of its goals

The staggeringly high rate of Russian casualties in Ukraine, with 500 Russian troops wounded or killed daily, may prevent the Kremlin from seizing Ukraine’s entire eastern region this year, U.S. officials and military experts say. Progress in Donetsk has stalled, and Russia has been forced to redeploy its forces to the south.

Russia’s glacial pace in the east has been further slowed by the arrival of American multiple-launch rocket systems, which have allowed Ukraine to take back some territory and made it harder for Russian soldiers to reach other areas.

Western officials said that the Russian military has struggled to bring reservists and new recruits into the fight as it suffers steep casualties. Russia has already committed nearly 85 percent of its fielded army to the war, drawing on troops from the country’s far east and deployments around the world, defense officials say.

Casualties: The Russian government classifies troop deaths as state secrets, but American officials say that estimate of Russia’s losses include about 20,000 deaths. The conflict is believed to have become the bloodiest land war in Europe since World War II.

Analysis: The leaders of Turkey and Russia have a complicated relationship with mutual benefits, writes Steven Erlanger, The Times’s chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe. Turkey needs Russian cash, gas and business, while Moscow needs friends to try to evade Western sanctions.

In other news from the war:

  • Russia has installed cages in a large Mariupol theater, an apparent preparation for show trials of captured Ukrainian soldiers on newly occupied soil.

  • New shelling at a Russian-occupied nuclear plant in southern Ukraine added to concerns of possible disaster.

Kayed al-Fasfos was released from an Israeli prison after a 131-day hunger strike. Credit…Samar Hazboun for The New York Times

Palestinian prisoners turn to hunger strikes

Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and military rule have few means to combat a major power imbalance between the two sides. Prisoners detained by Israel have long turned to hunger strikes, leaving the Israeli authorities largely unable to act against the prisoners or to stop the images of emaciated strikers from publicly circulating.

There are currently about 500 Palestinian prisoners being held under what is called administrative detention, without charges or trial based on secret evidence, according to Palestinian rights groups. Israel does not divulge information on detainees and says that the administrative detentions are necessary for preventing attacks against its citizens.

Hunger strikes are either collective, with dozens or hundreds taking part, or individual to protest prison conditions or the open-ended detentions themselves. They have drawn criticism of Israel from around the world, including the U.N. Despite legislative attempts to allow striking prisoners to be force-fed, the Israeli authorities have struggled to address them.

First person: Kayed al-Fasfos, a Palestinian accountant, spent nine months in an Israeli prison without charge or trial. He was released last year after a 131-day hunger strike. “Even if I had died,” he said, “I would consider it a victory because in the end I left the prison.”


Around the World

Credit…Patricia De Melo Moreira/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • Wildfires are again ripping through France, weeks after the last heat wave.

  • North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, said the country had brought its coronavirus outbreak to an end without vaccines. ​Outside experts have expressed doubts.

  • The W.H.O. told people to not blame monkeys for monkeypox after a report that the animals were harmed in Brazil amid fear of transmission.

Other Big Stories

Credit…Chris J Ratcliffe/Press Association, via AP
  • Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor of the Exchequer, once seemed to be Britain’s probable next prime minister. But in the race to replace Boris Johnson, he’s trailing in the polls.

  • Gas prices in the U.S. fell below $4 a gallon, their lowest level since March, and airline ticket prices fell 7.8 percent in July compared with June, helping to ease inflation.

  • More than 1,400 people have been shot this year in Philadelphia, many fatally — a higher toll than in the larger cities of New York or Los Angeles.

  • A new class of Republicans aligned with Trump could shape policies on abortion, climate change and same-sex marriage.

What Else Is Happening

  • Mario Fiorentini, Italy’s most decorated resistance fighter, died at age 103 this week. His mourners want his legacy to live on.

  • A last-minute change to the start date of the World Cup in Qatar is only the latest bit of uncertainty to surround soccer’s showcase event.

  • Take a second to listen to the cricket song that serenaded dinosaurs.

A Morning Read

Credit…Kerem Yucel/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Arctic warming is happening even faster than expected, according to new analysis. Over the past four decades, the region has been heating up to four times as fast as the global average, not the commonly reported two to three times. Some parts, notably a sea north of Norway and Russia, are warming up to seven times as fast.

One major contributor: A feedback loop in which warming melts sea ice in the region, which exposes more of the Arctic Ocean to sunlight and leads to more warming, which in turn leads to still more melting.

Lives Lived

Jean-Jacques Sempé, the French cartoonist known internationally for his children’s book illustrations and The New Yorker covers, died yesterday at 89.


Promoting democracy in Africa

America’s new Africa policy, presented by Secretary of State Antony Blinken in South Africa this week, leans on a familiar strategy: promoting democracy. But the challenge will come in selling it to a changing continent.

“Given history, the approach has to be somewhat different,” said Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s foreign minister. “I would recommend a greater attention to tools that Africans have developed.”

Along with having their own tools and institutions, such as the African Union, more African states are wealthier than they were a generation ago, said Bob Wekesa of the African Center for the Study of the U.S. in Johannesburg. Those states now have relationships with traditional U.S. rivals like Russia and China, as well as emerging powers like Turkey and India.

“They can afford to say, ‘We can choose who to deal with on certain issues,’” Wekesa said. Traditional U.S. allies like Botswana and Zambia are likely to embrace the American strategy, but strongman leaders in Uganda and even Rwanda are likely to be more resistant, he added.

In Kigali yesterday, Blinken said that he had urged the leaders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to end their support for militias in eastern Congo. He also raised concerns about the detention of Paul Rusesabagina, the U.S. resident who inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda.”

But just hours before his meeting with Blinken, Paul Kagame, the Rwandan president, poured cold water over suggestions that he would be swayed on the Rusesabagina case.

“No worries … there are things that just don’t work like that here!!” he said on Twitter. — Lynsey Chutel, Briefings writer based in Johannesburg.


What to Cook

Credit…Linda Xiao for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Monica Pierini.

This one-pot meal features a savory vinegared rice that’s typically served with sushi.

Hands Off

Looking to escape distractions? Lock them away in a box.

What to Read

“If Nietzsche Were a Narwhal,” by Justin Gregg, contrasts human thought with animal intelligence.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: “Where’s ___?” (children’s book series) (five letters).

And here’s today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha

P.S. The National Association of Black Journalists gave Dean Baquet, The Times’s former executive editor, its lifetime achievement award.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on abortion in the U.S.

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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