Cup of Joe – August 9, 2022

The FBI executed a search warrant today at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, CNN reports. The FBI search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago “began Monday morning and lasted until the evening,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

It was not immediately clear why the agents were present at Mar-a-Lago, but the treasonous criminal said it was “under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents.” The insurrectionist leader also said the agents broke into his safe.

The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s offices in Washington and for the Southern District of Florida did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“President Biden’s top aides found out about the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago from reports on Twitter and had no advance notice,” the New York Times reports.

“Senior White House officials saw the news via former President Trump’s statement, released shortly before 7 p.m.”

New York Times: “The search, according to two people familiar with the investigation, appeared to be focused on material that Mr. Trump had brought with him to Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence, after he left the White House. Those boxes contained many pages of classified documents, according to a person familiar with their contents.

Mr. Trump delayed returning 15 boxes of material requested by officials with the National Archives for many months, only doing so when there became a threat of action being taken to retrieve them.”

“When you strike at a king, you must kill him.” That line is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson but the idea is as old as politics itself.  Niccolò Machiavelli advised in The Prince, published in 1532, that “men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.” A similar line was spoken in more recent times by Omar Little in the television show, The Wire: “Ayo, lesson here, Bey. You come at the king, you best not miss.”

The FBI search of Donald Trump’s home and office at his Mar-a-Lago resort is the most high stakes criminal case you can imagine. And if the Justice Department doesn’t have the goods on Trump, this raid could backfire spectacularly.

In the near term, it could end any momentum Democrats may have found recently ahead of this fall’s midterms. In the medium term, it could dramatically influence the 2024 presidential race and basically guarantee Trump the Republican nomination. In the longer term, it’s hard to even comprehend what a second Trump presidency would be like if this FBI raid doesn’t find substantial evidence of substantial crimes by Trump himself.

If the FBI search of Donald Trump’s home and office at Mar-a-Lago is about classified documents taken from the White House, this part of the U.S. Code is could be important.

18 U.S. Code § 2071 – Concealment, removal, or mutilation generally

(a)Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

(b)Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States. As used in this subsection, the term “office” does not include the office held by any person as a retired officer of the Armed Forces of the United States.

However, Jason Willick notes you can’t impose qualifications on holding the presidency by statute — the qualifications are set out in the Constitution.

Senate Democrats successfully passed their sweeping reconciliation bill on climate investment, taxes and drug pricing, aka the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, on Sunday:

Senate Republicans stripped a provision in the bill that would’ve put a $35 cap on insulin for private insurers. However, the $35 cap provision on insulin for people 65 and older on Medicare survived.

The House will likely take up the bill on Friday, when the chamber is back in session.

“President Biden is on the verge of his own crowning health care achievement to call, in his words, a BFD,” Stat reports.  “After two decades, Democrats are finally on track to break the firewall between the pharmaceutical industry and the Medicare program. Soon, the U.S. government will be able to use the full brunt of its leverage to negotiate discounts from drugmakers, like the governments in many other high-income countries.”

“House Democrats who are pushing to lift a $10,000 fixed cap on state and local taxes (SALT) said they will support the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed the U.S. Senate on Sunday, even without the SALT deduction,” The Hill reports.

“Both New Jersey Reps. Mikie Sherrill and Josh Gottheimer — who insisted ‘no SALT, no deal’ on previous spending packages — expressed support on Sunday for the Inflation Reduction because it does not affect personal income tax rates or raise taxes on their constituents.”

“This is the hardest job I’ve ever had, with a 50-50 Senate, a big agenda and intransigent Republicans.” — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), quoted by the New York Times.

Axios has photos of documents thrown into toilets by Donald Trump, as first reported by Maggie Haberman in her forthcoming book, Confidence Man.  Said Haberman: “That Mr. Trump was discarding documents this way was not widely known within the West Wing, but some aides were aware of the habit, which he engaged in repeatedly.” She added: “It was an extension of Trump’s term-long habit of ripping up documents that were supposed to be preserved under the Presidential Records Act.”

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman confirmed her disgusting scoop on Trump’s tendency to flush documents down the toilet–a blatant violation of the Presidential Records Act–with photos she recently shared with Axios, which published the pics just this morning. The photos reportedly show two different toilets with Trump’s notes just chillin’ at the bottom of the bowl:

Trump had denied Haberman’s toilet report when it came out earlier this year, insisting it was a “fake story” that was “simply made up by a reporter in order to get publicity for a mostly fictitious book.”

Trump’s destructive handling of classified White House docs (which, in addition to toilet-flushing, includes ripping them to pieces and improperly stashing them at his Mar-A-Lago resort) is being investigated by the Justice Department and the House Oversight Committee.

“A Texas jury on Friday decided that the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones must pay the parents of a child killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting $45.2 million in punitive damages, one day after rendering a $4 million award for compensatory damages,” the New York Times reports.  “The jury announced both awards after several dramatic days in court that included testimony that Mr. Jones and Free Speech Systems, the parent company of his misinformation-peddling media outlet, Infowars, were worth between $135 million and $270 million.”

“Mr. Jones was found liable last year of defaming the victims’ families after he spread bogus theories that the shooting had been part of a government plot to confiscate Americans’ firearms and that the victims’ families had been complicit in the scheme. “

The trouble ain’t over yet for Jones: He still has two more defamation trials coming up in which juries will decide how much he’ll have to pay out to the Sandy Hook families he and his fans terrorized for years.

“In recent months, Donald Trump has ignored advice from some of his advisers to avoid speaking with former and current aides who have become entangled in the House select committee’s probe into January 6 and may become part of the criminal investigation,” CNN reports.

“Former Attorney General Bill Barr called the newest federal grand jury subpoenas probing the Jan. 6, 202, Capitol riot ‘a significant event,’ one that suggests that government prosecutors are probing high-ranking Trump administration officials and allies, and even former President Donald Trump,” CBS News reports.  Said Barr: “This suggests to me that they’re taking a hard look at the group at the top, including the president and the people immediately around him who were involved in this.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on Saturday said “no one can convince” her that the rioters behind the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol were not anti-fascist protesters and that she “cannot wait for a real investigation” to take place, the HuffPost reports.

The New Yorker runs an excerpt of The Divider by Susan Glasser and Peter Baker which includes the resignation letter, never sent, that Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Gen. Mark Milley drafted in June 2020.  But then he changed his mind, telling his staff: “Fuck that shit. I’ll just fight him.’

“The challenge, as he saw it, was to stop Trump from doing any more damage, while also acting in a way that was consistent with his obligation to carry out the orders of his Commander-in-Chief. Yet the Constitution offered no practical guide for a general faced with a rogue President.”

Said Milley: “If they want to court-martial me, or put me in prison, have at it. But I will fight from the inside.”

“If you do this, you’re gonna have a fucking war.” — Gen. Mark Milley, quoted by the New Yorker, after Donald Trump urged a missile strike on Iran after he lost the 2020 presidential election.

“Former President Donald Trump told his top White House aide that he wished he had generals like the ones who had reported to Adolf Hitler, saying they were ‘totally loyal’ to the leader of the Nazi regime, according to a forthcoming book about the 45th president,” the New York Times reports.  Said Trump to John Kelly, his chief of staff: “Why can’t you be like the German generals?”  This anecdote is from an excerpt from The Divider: Trump in the White House by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser. It depicts Trump “as deeply frustrated by his top military officials, whom he saw as insufficiently loyal or obedient to him.”

Interestingly, in the conversation with Kelly, the chief of staff told Trump that Germany’s generals had “tried to kill Hitler three times and almost pulled it off.”

“The Republican nominee for Michigan attorney general led a team that gained unauthorized access to voting equipment while hunting for evidence to support former President Donald Trump’s false election-fraud claims,” Reuters reports.

Detroit News: “Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office says a group of high-profile figures in the movement to dispute the 2020 presidential election, including the Michigan GOP’s likely nominee for attorney general, engaged in a ‘conspiracy’ to gain improper access to voting machines.”

“China has announced additional live-fire drills in the Bohai and Yellow seas, as Beijing broadcasts its fury over a visit to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) with military exercises near the island,” the Washington Post reports.  “The exercises are Beijing’s greatest show of force around Taiwan since the last cross-strait crisis of 1995 to 1996 — in what it calls a warning to ‘provocateurs’ who challenge Beijing’s claims over Taiwan, the self-governing democracy of 23 million.”

Wall Street Journal: China’s war games showcase new tools to intimidate Taiwan.

Paul Manafort, who served as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, told Insider “that in 2016 he shared polling data from the Trump campaign with Konstantin Kilimnik, a longtime business associate with suspected ties to Russian intelligence.”

“Manafort’s acknowledgment contradicts his earlier denials, during the investigation into election interference conducted by the special counsel Robert Mueller, that he had anything to do with the transfer of sensitive campaign data. It also differs from the account he gives in his forthcoming memoir, Political Prisoner, in which he concedes only that he presented Kilimnik with ‘talking points’ on polling data that was already public.”

Paul Manafort told Insider that he makes no apologies for his actions that landed him in prison.  Said Manafort: “What’s different is my unwillingness to incorporate into my life people who have not proven themselves to be honest with me.”  With a memoir, Political Prisoner, coming out this month, Manafort “is eager to get back in the game.”

Wall Street Journal: “Negotiations between Iran and the U.S. on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal are close to completion, the European Union’s senior negotiator at the talks said Sunday evening, but it remained unclear whether Tehran will accept the final deal.”

“The text of an agreement could be closed in coming hours, said the EU’s Enrique Mora, the coordinator of the talks. However, Iran must still decide whether to set aside its demand that the nuclear deal can only be revived if a multiyear United Nations atomic agency probe into its nuclear program is closed.”

“Indiana’s near-total ban on abortion is now in the hands of Gov. Eric Holcomb (R),” the Indianapolis Star reports. “Late Friday, the Indiana Senate voted 28-19 to accept Senate Bill 1 as passed by the House earlier in the day – making the legislature the first in the nation to vote to restrict abortions since the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door by overturning Roe v. Wade in June.”

Retired Gen. David Petraeus writes in The Atlantic about why the U.S. underachieved across its 20 years in Afghanistan and “why one of our signature campaigns resulted in such unending frustration.”

In particular, he says the U.S. lacked strategic resolve: “The lack of sufficient commitment over the years had innumerable knock-on effects. Having leaders of successive U.S. administrations of both parties repeatedly stating that we wanted to leave, often regardless of the conditions on the ground, undermined our negotiating position with the Taliban and had a corrosive impact on our relations with our Afghan partners, our coalition allies, and the countries in the region, especially Pakistan. However understandable the publicly stated desires to draw down were, the negative implications of them were substantial and pernicious.”

“The consumer outlook for inflation decreased significantly in July amid a sharp drop in gas prices and a growing belief that the rapid surges in food and housing also would ebb in the future,” CNBC reports.

“Investors are selling stakes in private equity and venture capital funds this year at the fastest pace on record, as the downturn in equities spreads to the private markets that boomed during the era of low interest rates,” the Financial Times reports.

Wall Street Journal: “As the summer draws to a close, Mr. Biden is planning to spend some time away in August, starting later this week with a trip to Kiawah Island, S.C. In his first 18 months in office, he traveled to Delaware 46 times and to Camp David 18 times. He played 15 rounds of golf, conducted 17 formal press conferences and gave 20 sit-down interviews.”

“The numbers, which span from taking office through July 20, reflect a president who wants to head home frequently at weekends, as he did when he was a senator and vice president. It also underscores a media strategy that has relied more on prepared remarks and brief question and answer sessions with reporters than on formal press conferences and interviews.”

“When I said that I’m a Christian nationalist, I have nothing to be ashamed of, because that’s what most Americans are.” — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), speaking at CPAC.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) proposed a “biblical citizenship” test in the United States.

“New York state health officials have found indications of additional cases of polio virus in wastewater samples from two different counties, leading them to warn that hundreds of people may be infected with the potentially serious virus,” CBS News reports.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

3 comments on “Cup of Joe – August 9, 2022

  1. DCDelaware

    I guess we know why Drumpf was obsessed with how many flushes it took.

  2. Re: Petraeus. They said the same thing about Vietnam. Generals always want to fight longer, because a) they aren’t doing the fighting and b) the fact that we lost makes them look like losers. Which they are. If they had learned anything from history they would realize that every foreign war ever fought by any nation ends when the victories become scarce and the cost in lives and capital looks endless.

    • cassandram

      Patraeus could have just said that American leadership never made clear that the WHY we stayed was worth the COST of staying. Which was what killed Vietnam in the end. No one knew what stakes were important enough to continue to spend American lives and money there. Dismantling safe havens for terrorists’ and getting the people who did 9/11 off the field is one thing, Democratization is something else altogether. There are reasons why this worked in Germany, Japan and S. Korea (eventually). But you just imposing self governance on people is not a recipe for success. The US made promises it could not keep to the Afghans and (as Adam Serwer points out), our defense (and foreign service) don’t much like not looking invincible.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: