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Morning news brief

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A federal appeals court declined to endorse special treatment for a former president. Instead, it blocked a ruling on classified documents.

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

The federal court blocked part of a lower court ruling on paper seized from Trump's Florida residence. This lets the Justice Department resume its examination of around a hundred papers marked classified. The lower court ruling named a special master to look over the papers. It said the extraordinary search of an ex-president's home required extra steps to ensure, quote, "at least the appearance of fairness." But the higher court pointedly applied the normal precedents and rules that apply to anyone else.

INSKEEP: NPR justice correspondent Ryan Lucas is covering this story. Ryan, good morning.

RYAN LUCAS, BYLINE: Morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: I guess we should note, the judges begin this ruling by saying this is limited. They were asked one narrow question, and they answered only the question they were posed - judicial restraint. What did they address?

LUCAS: Well, the Justice Department appealed part of a district court judge's ruling appointing a special master, as they said, to review the documents seized at Mar-a-Lago. And there are two things that the Justice Department was asking from the appeals court. One, it wanted the appeals court to allow investigators to use around a hundred classified documents taken from Mar-a-Lago in the FBI's ongoing criminal investigation. And the other thing is it wanted the appeals court to stay the lower court ruling ordering the Justice Department to provide the special master with those classified documents.

INSKEEP: OK, so of all the papers seized, they're only focusing on the papers marked classified. This question goes to a three-judge panel, one of them appointed by Barack Obama, two appointed by Donald Trump. Trump-appointed justices, judges, have a majority. What did they say?

LUCAS: Well, this three-judge panel on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals noted that there's no evidence that Trump declassified the sensitive records that were found at Mar-a-Lago. Trump has made that claim in public, of course, but his lawyers, quite notably, have not said as much in court, where they're under oath. The panel also rejected the idea that Trump could have an individual interest in or need for these roughly 100 documents marked as classified. And the panel also said that there's a strong public interest here in ensuring that how these records were stored at Mar-a-Lago did not damage national security.

So what the appeals court ruling means is that the FBI will be able to use the classified materials taken from Mar-a-Lago in their ongoing criminal investigation now, instead of potentially having to wait weeks or months for the special master to review them. And it also means that the FBI doesn't have to provide these classified records to the special master. And it's important to note here, this was a unanimous ruling, including the two Trump-appointed judges.

INSKEEP: But they did leave some of the lower court ruling in place. Does this special master continue looking at the other documents?

LUCAS: So special master Raymond Dearie will continue his review of the roughly 11,000 other documents, yes, but he will no longer be reviewing the classified materials. This ruling essentially removes those hundred or so documents marked as classified, some of them at the highest levels of classification - it removes those from the special master's review. But it's not clear that Dearie, frankly, had much patience for the Trump legal team's arguments in the first place. There was a hearing earlier this week that Dearie had in New York. Dearie expressed skepticism of the Trump legal team's resistance to providing evidence that Trump had actually attempted to declassify the documents. He actually told Trump's attorneys at one point, you can't have your cake and eat it, too.

INSKEEP: Ryan, reading this ruling, I noted the appeals court underlined how little Trump's lawyers have ever claimed on his behalf in court, where, as you said, they have to be - they're under oath. To rule for Trump, the court would have to find that the FBI acted with callous disregard for his rights. But his lawyers did not even claim that. They never repeated the hyperbole and lies that his supporters have used on cable TV. So how is Trump responding now?

LUCAS: Well, there hasn't been any immediate response from Trump. But look; he's had a lot of other things to deal with on another legal front. Of course, he was sued yesterday by the New York attorney general, who is seeking roughly 250 million in penalties and also to ban Trump, his children, members of the executive team, from doing business in New York state. So Trump has had a rough 24 hours on a couple of legal fronts here.

INSKEEP: And you've had a busy time as well. Ryan, thanks so much.

LUCAS: Thank you.

INSKEEP: NPR's Ryan Lucas.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: The Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point yesterday.

MARTINEZ: The latest hike is aimed to bring down inflation, but by raising the cost of borrowing, the Fed also slows down the economy. Home prices are falling. Stocks and bonds are both down a lot this year.

INSKEEP: NPR's Chris Arnold joins us next. Good morning.

CHRIS ARNOLD, BYLINE: Hey, Steve.

INSKEEP: How did Powell explain his, I guess, fifth rate hike in about six months?

ARNOLD: Yeah, he talked about how higher prices, inflation, are - is hurting a lot of Americans. He spent some time talking about that. The annual inflation rate in August was about 8%. That's just a bit lower than the month before, so not a lot of improvement. And Powell's job here is to really convince the world, basically, that the Fed is serious about doing what it takes to fight that inflation. Here's what he said.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JEROME POWELL: We have got to get inflation behind us. I wish there were a painless way to do that. There isn't. We have to get supply and demand back into alignment, and the way we do that is by slowing the economy.

INSKEEP: Which they do with interest rates, with other tools, I guess, and also just signaling that it's what they intend to do.

ARNOLD: Right. And it might sound bad to be slowing the economy, but the hope is that will cool off higher prices. And Powell's messaging here is really important, too, because people's expectations matter a lot. So if workers think that, oh, inflation is going to go up, I need higher wages, they're going to push for higher wages, and businesses will feel more pressure for that, and they'll think, well, look; I can just raise prices to pay the higher wages. And we get into a cycle. The Fed doesn't want that wage price spiral to get embedded. So Powell is saying, we are going to slow the economy, even if it means job losses, even if it means a recession. That's the pain that he's talking about.

INSKEEP: What does all of this mean specifically for the housing market?

ARNOLD: Well, rising rates, that's pushed mortgage rates up a lot this year, too, and that's making it much harder to buy a house. So we got some new numbers yesterday. Home prices fell 6% since June. That's the biggest two-month drop in nearly a decade. And Powell talked about housing, too.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

POWELL: We've had a time of a red-hot housing market all over the country, where, you know, famously, houses were selling at 10% above the ask before even seeing the house, that kind of thing. Housing prices were going up at an unsustainably fast level. So we probably, in the housing market, have to go through a correction.

ARNOLD: Now, correction might sound scary. They could just flatten off prices. They could come down a bit more. We'll find out.

INSKEEP: I would imagine that this is one of those periods where if you're lucky enough to have money socked away for retirement in some fund, you shouldn't be looking at that because you'll be horrified by how much it's gone down.

ARNOLD: Yeah, yeah. Particularly now because it's not just stocks going down; bonds are going down, too. And, you know, it's sort of a 101 investing thing, right? Like, I want to own some stocks. You want to own some bonds. And one of the reasons for that is that it diversifies your risk in that they don't usually fall at the same time. But a side effect, really, of what the Fed's fight against inflation is doing is that it's pushing both down at the same time, stocks and bonds, and that's hurting people, you know, with retirement accounts and 529 plans. I talked to a retiree, Deborah McDaniel. She lives in Bremerton, Wash., and her 401(k) has fallen down from around $500,000 to 400,000.

DEBORAH MCDANIEL: It is concerning to me that this not go on for too much longer because it could turn what I was hoping was an adequate retirement into, oh, maybe I need to find a job again at 69 - not something I relish doing.

ARNOLD: So that is some more of the pain that the Fed's talking about with fighting inflation.

INSKEEP: NPR's Chris Arnold. Thanks.

ARNOLD: Thanks, Steve.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Demonstrations have spread to dozens of cities in Iran.

MARTINEZ: Crowds are taking to the streets in response to the death of a young woman who was in police custody.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting in non-English language).

(Chanting in non-English language).

(Chanting in non-English language).

MARTINEZ: Protesters have chanted, death to the dictator, and I will kill the one who killed my sister. And that's in reference to 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. She was detained by Iran's so-called morality police for an alleged violation of the rules requiring women to cover their hair. Her family rejects the police explanation that she fell ill after being arrested, saying she was beaten.

INSKEEP: NPR's Peter Kenyon has been following this story from Istanbul. Hey there, Peter.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: What do these protests look like?

KENYON: Well, they're looking bigger and more widespread since they started last weekend. Crowds have taken to the streets in dozens of cities all across the country. Some women have taken off or burned their hijabs, rather than wearing them. Police have aggressively dispersed protesters - tear gas, batons and, by some accounts, with live fire. I spoke with analyst Sanam Vakil at London-based Chatham House think tank, and she told me the authorities' usual playbook includes cutting off access to the internet, which they've done, and increasing aggression by security forces. But to this point, it's not working. Here's how she put it.

SANAM VAKIL: The protests have spread to at least 40 cities, that we know of, and there are a number of further tragic deaths and hundreds of detentions that we don't even know about yet. I expect it's going to get worse in the coming days.

KENYON: Yeah, she thinks it may get worse when Ebrahim Raisi returns from the U.N. General Assembly to Iran. Vakil also says Iranians have, in recent years, looked for any opportunity to express their frustration on personal freedoms, the economy, the environment. So it's not just about the hijab. There's a widespread feeling that public grievances are just being ignored.

INSKEEP: Peter, you just mentioned that Ebrahim Raisi, the president, is in New York, addressed the United Nations. Is he speaking about this at all?

KENYON: Well, he didn't directly address the protests in his address, but he did have a message that was, essentially, anything like unrest must be seen as an internal Iranian matter; neither the U.S. nor anyone else has any business getting involved. He also accused the West of having a double standard on human rights violations. Analyst Sanam Vakil says that's a familiar argument from Tehran. Here's what she said.

VAKIL: Indeed. And the Iranian regime likes to play the double-standard card and plays it quite well. Of course, it's very hard for them to fan the flames of double standards when they have an appalling record of human rights, complete disregard for the rule of law and due process and continue to repress their own citizens.

KENYON: Now, President Biden also talked about the protests. At the U.N., he said the United States stands with those he called the brave women of Iran who are demonstrating to secure basic rights.

INSKEEP: Doesn't sound like these protests are near the end.

KENYON: It's hard to see a path to quick de-escalation right now. We should note that a couple years ago, when those widespread protests erupted over the economy, Iranian security forces crushed them, killing hundreds and leaving thousands wounded.

INSKEEP: NPR's Peter Kenyon. Thanks so much.

KENYON: Thanks, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.