Delaware

Cup of Joe – August 10, 2022

New York Times on the background of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago: “Federal prosecutors subsequently began a grand jury investigation, according to two people briefed on the matter. Prosecutors issued a subpoena earlier this year to the archives to obtain the boxes of classified documents.”

“The authorities also made interview requests to people who worked in the White House in the final days of Mr. Trump’s presidency.”

“In the spring, a small coterie of federal agents visited Mar-a-Lago in search of some documents, according to a person familiar with the meeting. At least one of the agents was involved in counterintelligence.”

Wall Street Journal: “In January, the National Archives retrieved 15 boxes of material from Mr. Trump, raising questions about his compliance with federal law requiring official records to be turned over when a president leaves office. A person familiar with the records said they include a letter former President Barack Obama left for his successor and correspondence between Mr. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un…”

“The National Archives also said that some Trump presidential records it had received had been torn up.”

“In the months before the FBI’s dramatic move to execute a search warrant at former president Donald Trump’s Florida home — and open his safe to look for items — federal authorities grew increasingly concerned that Trump or his lawyers and aides had not, in fact, returned all the documents and other material that were government property,” the Washington Post reports.

“Officials became suspicious that when Trump gave back items to the National Archives about seven months ago, either the former president or people close to him held on to key records — despite a Justice Department investigation into the handling of 15 boxes of material sent to the former president’s private club and residence in the waning days of his administration.”

New York Post: “A source who was at Mar-a-Lago at the time of the FBI raid told The Post that it was ‘like the scene of a ‘Die Hard’ movie’ as armored cars came screeching up to the Palm Beach resort Monday morning and ‘at least 100’ FBI agents charged into Trump’s home.”

Said a source: “It was totally unexpected. The place was mostly closed today, so the only people there were close personal friends of Trump.”

Wall Street Journal: “Eric Trump, the former president’s son, said Monday evening on Fox News that he was the person who informed his father of the search. Mr. Trump’s son said there were more than 30 FBI agents on the property and that no notice was given. He said the agents searched an office, closet and safe.”

Washington Post: “The inventory of unclassified items in the boxes that were recovered earlier this year from Mar-a-Lago is roughly 100 pages long… Descriptions of items that were improperly taken to Mar-a-Lago include a cocktail napkin, a phone list, charts, slide decks, letters, memos, maps, talking points, a birthday dinner menu, schedules and more, this person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the ongoing investigation.”

“There is a separate inventory for just the classified materials that were taken to the former president’s Florida residence, this person said. If the unclassified version of the classified inventory were organized in the same way as the inventory of nonclassified items, it would be about three pages long.”

“As for classification level, they range from confidential to top-secret to special handling categories.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) “warned Attorney General Merrick Garland of payback for the search of Trump’s property,” the New York Times reports.

“McCarthy, who has refused a subpoena from the House Jan. 6 committee, said the Justice Department had ‘reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization’ and pledged to investigate if Republicans retook the House in the 2022 midterm elections.”

Said McCarthy: “Attorney General Garland, preserve your documents and clear you calendar.”

“Top Republicans and prominent conservatives reacted with outrage on Monday night to the news that the FBI had searched the private residence of former President Donald Trump, with some suggesting that federal agents should be arrested and others hinting that the court-approved law-enforcement action against Mr. Trump was pushing the country toward political chaos,” the New York Times reports.

Politico: House GOP rallies to Trump after Mar-a-Lago search, vows to probe FBI in 2023.

Within minutes of the news that the FBI had executed a search warrant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, Republicans reacted with predictable fury. Their framing mirrored what Trump himself said in a statement posted to his own social network. They claimed it was “prosecutorial misconduct” by “Radical Left Democrats” trying to take Trump down ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

Without knowing any facts of the case, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) pledged payback if his party takes control of the House.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that President Biden “is playing with fire” and warned “one day what goes around is going to come around.”

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) said the action was “Third World country stuff.”

Overlooked is the important fact that the FBI is run by Christopher Wray, a former Bush administration official who Trump personally appointed FBI Director because of his “impeccable credentials.” It’s also worth noting that every single Republican senator voted to confirm Wray.

And, of course, the FBI also had to convince a federal judge that a crime was committed and that evidence of that crime could be found at Mar-a-Lago in order to get the search warrant.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) told Julie Mason that while he has some “concerns” about the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago, he believes looking through Donald Trump’s personal safe was “fair game.”

Tim O’Brien: “It’s not entirely clear why the FBI targeted Mar-a-Lago. Trump, who was not there, predictably characterized the search as a Democratic hit job. But the feds were apparently searching for classified records Trump stashed in Palm Beach after leaving the White House. He has already returned some files that the National Archives said belonged to the government, but Bloomberg News and the New York Times reported that the search was focused on records he might have kept.”

“Theft of government records is the least of Trump’s legal worries, however. Attorney General Merrick Garland appears to be finally bringing the full weight of federal law enforcement to bear on the former president. Depending on how aggressively Garland pursues Trump for the attempted coup that he and his co-conspirators tried to engineer after he lost the 2020 presidential election, the list of criminal charges could include seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the US and obstruction of official proceedings.”

“Garland’s choices in the months ahead will have momentous consequences.”

Dalia Lithwick: “The immediate GOP response to Monday evening’s FBI search for documents at Mar-a-Lago is almost as revealing as the search warrant itself.”

“Having witnessed the bulk of the party harden its commitment to protecting Trump at any cost after the January 6th attack on the Capitol, nobody should be shocked to learn that ranking Republicans—without any information about what was seized, or why—were willing to stake their political careers on the claim that it was a lawless, partisan ‘raid.’ The darkest versions of these claims called for doing away with federal law enforcement altogether.”

Andrew McCarthy: “There’s a game prosecutors play. Let’s say I suspect X committed an armed robbery, but I know X is dealing drugs. So, I write a search-warrant application laying out my overwhelming probable cause that X has been selling small amounts of cocaine from his apartment. I don’t say a word in the warrant about the robbery, but I don’t have to. If the court grants me the warrant for the comparatively minor crime of cocaine distribution, the agents are then authorized to search the whole apartment.”

“If they find robbery tools, a mask, and a gun, the law allows them to seize those items. As long as agents are conducting a legitimate search, they are authorized to seize any obviously incriminating evidence they come across. Even though the warrant was ostensibly about drug offenses, the prosecutors can use the evidence seized to charge robbery.”

“I believe that principle is key to understanding the FBI’s search of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Monday. The ostensible justification for the search of Trump’s compound is his potentially unlawful retention of government records and mishandling of classified information. The real reason is the Capitol riot.”

“Behind closed doors this summer, Donald Trump and his advisers have been narrowing the shortlist of criminal defense attorneys he’d need to take on the Justice Department,” Rolling Stone reports.

“The former president has had preliminary conversations with Tim Parlatore, a lawyer best known for successfully representing an accused war criminal, about possible legal strategies should the department escalate its probe or hit Trump with charges.”

“Trump’s conversations with Parlatore and other newly retained lawyers are part of his broader push to assemble yet another new legal team, both for his current legal woes and for any future ones coming from the FBI and Biden-era DOJ. Throughout the summer, Trump has been quizzing confidants on what they think of specific criminal defense lawyers, throwing out a number of names both big and obscure.”

Stephen Collinson: “The news was one of the most staggering twists yet in the story of Trump, who was impeached twice, incited a mob riot to try to overturn his 2020 election loss and constantly tore at the guardrails of his office and democracy during his single term, and afterward, like no other President.”

“It threatened to inject new toxins into the political life of a nation that is hopelessly divided — with millions of Trump supporters already believing his lies that the 2020 election was stolen — and that on many issues no longer has a common understanding of truth itself.”

“It also comes with the ex-President itching to launch a 2024 campaign rooted in his false claims of electoral fraud, which his authoritarian rhetoric suggests would present a profound challenge to democracy. That looming campaign will likely feed on the political rocket fuel of a perception among Trump supporters — which he himself created in his statement announcing the search Monday — that he is being unfairly persecuted.”

“President Joe Biden is scheduled to sign two long-sought pieces of legislation into law this week, with Tuesday marking the start of a rare opportunity for the President to celebrate a string of bipartisan wins in Washington ahead of his scheduled summer vacation,” CNN reports. He signed the CHIPs bill yesterday and is scheduled to sign the Veterans Burn Pits Bill on Thursday.

Politico: Biden suddenly is piling up wins. Can Dems make it stick?

New York Times: “For months, Democrats have discussed their midterm anxieties in near-apocalyptic terms, as voters threatened to take out their anger over high gas prices and soaring inflation on the party in power. But the deal on the broad new legislation, along with signs of a brewing voter revolt over abortion rights, has some Democrats experiencing a flicker of an unfamiliar feeling: hope.”

“In interviews, Democratic strategists, advisers to President Biden, lawmakers running in competitive seats and political ad makers all expressed optimism that the legislation — the Inflation Reduction Act — would deliver the party a necessary and powerful tool to show they were focused on lowering costs at a time of economic hardship for many. They argued its key provisions could be quickly understood by crucial constituencies.”

Washington Post: Inside Biden’s hot streak, from the poolside to the Capitol.

New York Times: “Mr. Biden emerged from medical isolation to a new political world. Suddenly, the administration that could not get anything right, that could not catch a break, was on a roll that any president would relish: Major legislation cruising to passage, at least some economic indicators heading in the right direction, and the world’s most wanted terrorist killed after a two-decade manhunt.”

“Those early aspirations to being another Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson, the ones that felt like so much hubris in the past few months, are being heard again in the halls of the West Wing and the Capitol. White House aides argue that the string of congressional victories — capped by the package of climate, health and tax provisions that finally cleared the Senate over the weekend — compares favorably to the two-year legislative record of most any other modern president, even perhaps F.D.R. and L.B.J.”

The Hill: White House worked behind the scenes to push Senate toward breakthrough win.

In more good news for President Joe Biden, the centrist Democratic Blue Dog Coalition is pledging to “move swiftly to send the bill to the President’s desk,” Punchbowl News reports.

“No one expected the group of centrist House Democrats to hold up the legislation. Many Democrats feel the bill is critical to their chances of staving off deep losses in the midterms.”

“But the Blue Dog endorsement of the bill will provide relief to Democratic vote-counters. Democrats can only afford to lose four votes on the reconciliation package on Friday. Add this to the folding from the ‘No SALT, no deal’ caucus, and final passage of the Inflation Reduction Act may not be as dramatic as some Democrats had feared.”

“Long before Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) held up a massive spending bill that promised to create jobs, invest in clean energy and tax the rich — delivering on some of President Joe Biden’s and the Democratic party’s top campaign promises — those working at Wall Street investment firms had donated millions to the freshman senator’s campaign,” CNBC reports.

“One of her main objections was the bill’s so-called carried interest tax provision — which would have closed an arcane loophole in tax law that allowed hedge fund managers, law firm partners and private equity executives, among others, to pay significantly less taxes than ordinary workers.”

“As many as 80,000 Russian troops have been wounded or killed in less than six months of fighting in Ukraine, the Pentagon said Monday, the first time the U.S. military announced its estimates of the toll of the invasion on Russia,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“President Biden signed a measure on Tuesday that would expand NATO to include Sweden and Finland in an effort to bolster the Western alliance nearly six months after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia launched his invasion of Ukraine,” the New York Times reports.

Associated Press: “Biden and top national security officials speak less about counterterrorism and more about the political, economic and military threats posed by China as well as Russia. There’s been a quiet pivot within intelligence agencies, which are moving hundreds of officers to China-focused positions, including some who were previously working on terrorism.”

“Russian airlines, including state-controlled Aeroflot, are stripping jetliners to secure spare parts they can no longer buy abroad because of Western sanctions,” Reuters reports.

“A judge has authorized U.S. prosecutors to seize a $90 million Airbus plane owned by the sanctioned Russian oligarch Andrei Skoch,” Axios reports.

“I think it’s only going to put more energy behind my father-in-law should he choose to run for president in 2024.” — Lara Trump, quoted by CNN, about the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago.

Lara Trump told Fox News that she has talked to her father-in-law about the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago and “he’s as shocked as anybody.”  She called it an attempt to hurt him as “he’s going to announce any day that he’s running for president in 2024.”

NBC News: “Of how Monday’s law enforcement action might affect Trump’s political aspirations, a person close to Trump said: ‘If he wasn’t running before, he is now.’”

“Top Republicans who have spent months trying to dissuade Donald Trump from announcing another presidential campaign before the midterms are coming around to the idea, after an unprecedented search of the former President’s Mar-a-Lago property by federal investigators on Monday lit up the GOP base,” CNN reports.

“Trump has received a fresh wave of encouragement to jump start his next presidential campaign in the 24 hours since his primary residence became the target of an FBI search warrant.”

“Donald Trump’s team and allies are moving swiftly to draw political benefit from an unannounced search by FBI agents at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago home on Monday,” Politico reports.

“And they’re keeping tabs of Republicans who aren’t, in their view, sufficiently rushing to his defense.”

Said a person close to Trump: “They’re going to drastically use this to rally their allies, GOP leaders on Capitol Hill and juice for his political agenda and run for 2024. If there was a 99 percent chance it’s 100 percent now. He makes it part of his platform – going after the FBI.”

David Frum: “The former president has discovered a new test of power: using his own misconduct to compel party leaders to rally to him.”

Jonathan Last: “No one is asking if this will be the thing that finally pries Republicans away from Trump. For seven years we had a series of episodes—mocking John McCain, ‘grab ‘em by the pussy,’ Charlottesville, the Ukraine blackmail, January 6—at which point non-believers honestly thought that the latest outrage would be a bridge too far and that some Trump supporters would turn on him.”

“Well, we seem to have finally touched bottom on reality. No one anywhere in America believes that the potential criminal prosecution of Donald Trump could move a single one of his followers, either at the popular or elite levels.”

“That’s progress, of a sort. It means that supporters of democracy finally understand the realities of what they are facing.”

“President Joe Biden has appointed more judges to the federal courts at this stage in his tenure than any president since John F. Kennedy, and his appointees include a record number of women and racial and ethnic minorities,” according to a Pew Research.

“As of Aug. 8, the first day of the U.S. Senate’s August break, Biden has successfully appointed 75 judges to the three main tiers of the federal judicial system: the district courts, appeals courts and U.S. Supreme Court. That’s far more than the number appointed by Donald Trump (51) and Barack Obama (42) at the same stage in their presidencies.”

Adam Serwer: “The merits of a potential government case against Donald Trump, and of the basis for the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago, cannot yet be evaluated, despite the assertions of many of Trump’s supporters and critics. A federal search warrant can be obtained only with probable cause and with the approval of a federal magistrate, but that does not mean that Trump is guilty of whatever alleged crime the FBI is investigating. Nor does the fact that Trump may be guilty of criminal conduct in other contexts mean that he is guilty here.”

“But at the same time, the reflexive Republican insistence that the investigation is politically motivated is itself unmoored from the available evidence.”

Steve Benen: “If there was one thing Republicans cared about six years ago, it was how high-ranking officials dealt with classified materials. In fact, as recently as 2016, the GOP was certain — that is, the party at least pretended to be certain — that politicians disqualify themselves from positions of authority when they put documents at risk.”

“And so, now that Republicans have learned that Donald Trump allegedly took highly sensitive classified materials to his golf resort, one could imagine the party expressing outrage with the former president. After all, given the GOP’s recent history of passionate feelings on the subject, it stands to reason that Trump may have crossed an intolerable line.”

“But that would assume that the Republican Party’s principles and standards are consistent. They are not.”

The U.S. national average price of gas today has fallen back under the $4 mark to $3.99 per gallon for the first time since early March, according to GasBuddy.

Jonathan Chait: “While it is factually true that there is no history of a former American president being raided by the Feds, these observations implicitly treat the FBI’s behavior as the source of the historic break. The reason Donald Trump is the first former president to be treated like a criminal is that he is the first former president who is a criminal.”

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) announced he won’t be calling a special session of the legislature to ban abortion after 12 weeks because it doesn’t have the votes to pass.

“A 17-year-old girl and her mother have been charged with a series of felonies and misdemeanors after an apparent medication abortion at home in Nebraska,” Motherboard reports.

“The state’s case relies on evidence from the teenager’s private Facebook messages, obtained directly from Facebook by court order, which show the mother and daughter allegedly bought medication online to induce abortion, and then disposed of the body of the fetus.”

“While the court documents, obtained by Motherboard, allege that the abortion took place before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, they show in shocking detail how abortion could and will be prosecuted in the United States, and how tech companies will be enlisted by law enforcement to help prosecute their cases.”

“After news broke that the FBI searched former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida on Monday, his supporters openly called for an armed violent response, and ultimately, civil war,” Vice News reports.

“MAGA, QAnon, and far-right message boards and Telegram channels lit up Monday night with calls for a violent response to what some extremists see as a political attack directed by the Biden administration.”

Ben Collins: “The posts on these pro-Trump forums tonight are as violent as I’ve seen them since before January 6th. Maybe even more so.”

“Doug Mastriano, the Trump-endorsed GOP nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, is expected to appear virtually on Tuesday before the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection but might not end up answering any questions due to a dispute over his testimony,” CNN reports.

“The committee has been negotiating the terms of Mastriano’s deposition for weeks but the two sides still have not reached an agreement over whether his attorney would be allowed to videotape the deposition or be given access to the committee’s own full recording after the fact.”

“Rudy Giuliani, former President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, is aiming to delay his testimony before a Fulton County special grand jury examining Georgia’s 2020 elections,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“Approximately two years’ worth of text messages sent and received by right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones have been turned over to the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection,” CNN reports.

“The messages were handed over to the committee by Mark Bankston, the attorney who represented two Sandy Hook parents who successfully sued Jones in Texas and won nearly $50 million in a civil trial that concluded last week.”

Sandy Hook lawyer Mark Bankston said that Alex Jones sent an “intimate photo” of his wife to political consultant and Trump ally Roger Stone, Yahoo News reports. Jones has separately described the photo as a nude image.

From the new book by Susan Glasser and Peter Baker:

Trump: “Look, I don’t want any wounded guys in the parade. This doesn’t look good for me.”

Kelly: “Those are the heroes. In our society, there’s only one group of people who are more heroic than they are—and they are buried over in Arlington.”

Trump: “I don’t want them. It doesn’t look good for me.”

“The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the House Ways and Means Committee can obtain former President Trump’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service,” Axios reports.

“Trump has been fighting the release of his tax returns to the committee for more than three years.”

“Policymakers in Washington are promoting electric vehicles as a solution to climate change. But an uncomfortable truth remains: Battery-powered cars are much too expensive for a vast majority of Americans,” the New York Times reports.

“Congress has begun trying to address that problem. The climate and energy package passed on Sunday by the Senate, the Inflation Reduction Act, would give buyers of used electric cars a tax credit.”

“But automakers have complained that the credit would apply to only a narrow slice of vehicles, at least initially, largely because of domestic sourcing requirements.”

“As President Biden continues an historic stretch of legislative success, plus a successful operation that killed an al Qaeda leader, he may be homing in on another major foreign policy feather in his cap: a suddenly resurrected Iran nuclear deal,” Playbook reports.

“A grand jury in Mississippi has declined to indict the white woman whose accusation set off the lynching of Black teenager Emmett Till nearly 70 years ago, despite revelations about an unserved arrest warrant and an unpublished memoir by the woman,” the AP reports.

“It’s been over a week since former President Donald Trump pledged that he would be filing a lawsuit against CNN,” the Daily Beast reports.  “Yet, instead of court documents being filed, Trump appears to be more preoccupied with begging followers to send in money to ‘support’ the so far non-existent legal action.”

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell warned the audience at CPAC about the rise of the machines across the globe.  Said Lindell: “Over 54 countries have now been taken by the machines or are getting taken by the machines. And you never get to go back.” He added: “Venezuela, Australia, they’re gone. You don’t get to vote out the machines once they’re there. Once they’re there, you don’t get your country back.”

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

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