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Cup of Joe – August 14, 2022

“At least one lawyer for former President Donald Trump signed a written statement in June asserting that all material marked as classified and held in boxes in a storage area at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and club had been returned to the government,” the New York Times reports.

“The written declaration was made after a visit on June 3 to Mar-a-Lago by Jay I. Bratt, the top counterintelligence official in the Justice Department’s national security division.”

“The existence of the signed declaration, which has not previously been reported, is a possible indication that Mr. Trump or his team were not fully forthcoming with federal investigators about the material.”

This explains why the obstruction of justice statute was on the warrant.

At the literal end of that New York Times story is this explosive bit: “Shortly before Mr. Garland made the announcement, a person close to Mr. Trump reached out to a Justice Department official to pass along a message from the former president to the attorney general. Mr. Trump wanted Mr. Garland to know he had been checking in with people around the country and found them to be enraged by the search. “The country is on fire,” Mr. Trump said, according to a person familiar with the exchange. “What can I do to reduce the heat?””

“Former President Donald Trump said that everyone takes work home sometimes, as he sought to develop a new line to explain why top secret government documents were stored at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida,” Insider reports. Said Trump: “As we can all relate to, everyone ends up having to bring home their work from time to time. American presidents are no different.” Trump further claimed that he had a “standing order” to declassify documents “the moment” they left the Oval Office.

All of this, of course, is complete bullshit. And this is Trump’s ninth defense this week.

Josh Marshall: “Trump’s representatives, at least for the moment, have settled on a story which is that he had a “standing order” that any and all classified materials he took home with him to the White House residence was “deemed” declassified. So in fact, none of the materials in question are classified and none of it matters. This was announced on Fox as an official statement from Trump’s office by John Solomon, the notorious fake news hustler who is now operating as Trump’s “designated representative” to the National Archives.

The best I can draw from this is that the ex-President and his entourage are in a state of implosive panic over the events of the last 72 hours. There was certainly no such “standing order”, which will become clear in short order. This also isn’t the way classification works. […]

What is more noteworthy is that these are the claims of someone who is not getting any legal advice. Not bad legal advice. No legal advice. […] These sound like panicked claims of someone improvising without the benefit of legal counsel. What I draw from this is that the real facts of the case are likely worse than they appear.

This doesn’t mean necessarily that the ex-President is in grave legal peril. What it tells me – pulling all these indications together – is that the President’s actions are impossible to defend. Why was he refusing to relinquish material the US government thought so sensitive and secret that they had little choice but to seize them at the first opportunity?

The other measure of this is the reaction from Republican elected officials over the last 48 hours, which as near as I can tell is total silence. It’s hard to march without marching orders and Trump is giving them very little to go on about what the facts are and what the bases are for defending him.”

Philip Klein: “Whatever anybody thinks about the FBI’s actions at Mar-a-Lago, can we all agree that Donald Trump’s claim — that there was a ‘standing order’ that said whatever he brought to his Florida residence was automatically declassified — is patently absurd?”

“Consider all the times that Trump was at Mar-a-Lago during his presidency and worked out of there. Are we to believe that each and every document he brought with him there, no matter how sensitive, was immediately declassified and thus widely available for people to see?”

“If this ridiculous policy were actually even true, it would raise a different set of serious questions about Trump’s recklessness in handling sensitive documents.”

Michael Wolff: “In traditional politics, a politician under this sort of siege would see among his supporters and even in his inner circle a certain winnowing of options. The outlook, everyone would understand, was grim. At best, you could only look to limit the damage. In most instances, the FBI showing up at your door would, alas, mean end of story.”

“But what has confused liberals for the whole of the Trump era is that almost every mortal legal arrow they have shot at him has had the opposite of its intended effect. They haven’t even hobbled him. They have only ever enlarged the Trump story, creating new options for him, more dedicated supporters, and an ever-grander battlefield.”

David Rohde: “For Americans who wish to look, their worst fears about Donald Trump are being confirmed. He recklessly handled some of the country’s most important secrets, including, apparently, information related to nuclear weapons. Tens of millions of Americans, undoubtedly, will continue to believe his conspiracy theories. But the steady compilation of facts by the January 6th committee, the Justice Department, and the F.B.I. is creating a post-November, 2020, record of negligence that exceeds Trump’s actions earlier in his tenure.”

“The Mar-a-Lago search warrant showed that Trump has grown more rash, thoughtless, and heedless—and more unfit than ever for the Presidency.”

“The seizure of classified U.S. government documents from Donald Trump’s sprawling Mar-a-Lago retreat spotlights the ongoing national security concerns presented by the former president, and the home he dubbed the Winter White House,” Reuters reports.

“Two high-ranking House members are asking for a national security damage assessment of the documents the FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago, according to a letter sent to the Director of National Intelligence on Saturday,” Axios reports.

The House of Representatives passed a $740 billion budget reconciliation bill — including climate, health and tax measures — that comprises the centerpiece of President Biden’s domestic agenda.

Every single Democrat voted in favor of the bill.

New York Times: “The legislation would pour more than $370 billion into climate and energy programs aimed at helping the United States cut greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 40 percent below 2005 levels by the end of the decade. It would also extend for three years expanded subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, as well as fulfill a long-held Democratic goal to lower the cost of prescription drugs by allowing Medicare to directly negotiate prices and capping the annual out-of-pocket cost for recipients at $2,000.”

“The package would be financed largely by tax increases, including a new tax on company stock buybacks and a 15 percent corporate minimum tax for wealthy companies. Initial analyses of the legislation found that it could reduce the nation’s deficit by as much as $300 billion over a decade.”

The bill now goes to Biden for his signature.

The bill is a massive accomplishment for Democrats and was thought to be dead just a few weeks ago.

“House Republicans on Friday abandoned a plan to prime a constitutional challenge against Democrats’ $740 billion tax, climate and health care bill,” Axios reports. “The plan was to have enough Republicans proxy vote to deny Democrats a physical quorum and open the door for a legal challenge to the legitimacy of the bill – and the validity of proxy voting.”

“The plan fell about 20 members short and members at the Capitol were told they could vote in-person.”

Drew Hammill, an aide to Speaker Nancy Pelosi responds: “Federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have clearly ruled that the House resolution establishing proxy voting is a legislative act that is covered by Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause.”

“He promised a new social safety net. He pledged to develop a robust plan to fight global warming. He vowed to reduce the gap between rich and poor by making the wealthy ‘pay their fair share,’” the New York Times reports.

“And along the way, Joseph Biden often said as he battled Donald Trump for the White House in 2020, he would prove that democracy still works in America.”

“With final House passage of the Inflation Reduction Act on Friday, President Biden is poised to deliver the latest in a series of legislative victories that will ripple across the country for decades — lowering the cost of prescription drugs, extending subsidies to help people pay for health insurance, reducing the deficit and investing more than $370 billion into climate and energy programs.”

NBC News describes “how a flurry of last-minute, behind-the-scenes deal making this summer handed Biden and the Democrats their most significant legislative accomplishment since seizing all the levers of power in Washington in January 2021.”

“Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the Arizona Democrat who single-handedly thwarted her party’s longtime goal of raising taxes on wealthy investors, received nearly $1 million over the past year from private equity professionals, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists whose taxes would have increased under the plan,” the AP reports.

“For years, Democrats have promised to raise taxes on such investors, who pay a significantly lower rate on their earnings than ordinary workers. But just as they closed in on that goal last week, Sinema forced a series of changes to her party’s $740 billion election-year spending package, eliminating a proposed ‘carried interest’ tax increase on private equity earnings while securing a $35 billion exemption that will spare much of the industry from a separate tax increase other huge corporations now have to pay.”

New Republic: “The Bakersfield Republican has everything it takes to rise to the top in today’s GOP: zero interest in policy, relentless thirst for power, and slavish loyalty to Trump. If this man becomes speaker of the House—look out, America.”

Politico: “Some Republicans are leaving open the possibility that Trump acted inappropriately. In an interview, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), an Intelligence Committee member, said it was important for the panel to glean additional information and acknowledged that mishandling of sensitive classified information would be a serious violation.”

Said Stewart: “I mean, if he had actual Special Access Programs — do you know how extraordinarily sensitive that is? That’s very, very sensitive. If that were actually at his residence, that would be a problem. But we just don’t know that. So let’s find out.”

Said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX): “When you get to compartmentalized classified spaces, it gets more serious.”

Wired: “Broadly speaking, the US intelligence and defense communities would possess four different categories of files that might be considered “nuclear documents”: nuclear weapon science and design; other countries’ nuclear plans, including the nuclear systems and command of allied nations (UK, France) and adversaries (Russia, China, North Korea, Iran), as well as countries whose nuclear programs exist in a more gray zone (Israel, India, Pakistan); details on the United States’ own nuclear weapons and deployments; and details on US nuclear command & control procedures, known in Pentagon parlance as NC2.”

“Each category of these documents would carry with it some unique classification peculiarities. And all of them exist at the so-called Above Top Secret level, because a simple Top Secret clearance on its own isn’t enough to access the files.”

Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) fired Michael Gableman on Friday, “more than a year after he hired the former Supreme Court justice to probe the 2020 election and three days after Vos barely survived a primary challenge Gableman supported,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Associated Press: “The firing of Michael Gableman capped a 14-month ride that began when Vos hired him to look into the election under pressure from Trump. But as the probe progressed under bipartisan criticism, Vos’ relationship soured with both Trump and Gableman.”

“Republicans in Congress who are relying on Donald Trump to excite voters in the fall elections are not only defending the former president against the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago home but politically capitalizing on it with grave and potentially dangerous rhetoric against the nation’s justice system,” the AP reports.

“The party that once stood staunchly for law-and-order has dramatically reversed course, stirring up opposition to the FBI and tapping into political grievances and far-right conspiracies that fed the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.”

“It’s all part of the GOP’s election year strategy to harness voter outrage over the unprecedented search, quickly and unequivocally set in motion as Trump hosted a dozen Republicans for dinner of steak and scallops at his private Bedminster club the day after the FBI action.”

“Sheriff’s deputies decided to let neighbors of Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) settle a dispute between themselves and the congresswoman’s husband after he reportedly threatened them and destroyed their mailbox,” the Denver Post reports.

“But 911 calls from the incident, obtained by The Denver Post, show just how upset and nervous the neighbors were over their run-in with Boebert’s husband, Jayson Boebert.”

Said one neighbor: “I’m sure he’s loaded to the hilt. Do you know who his wife is? Lauren Boebert. She’s loaded. They all have guns. He just got chest to chest, face to face, looking to fight.”

“The polio virus has been found in New York City’s wastewater in another sign that the disease, which hadn’t been seen in the U.S. in a decade, is quietly spreading among unvaccinated people,” the AP reports.

New York Times: “The spread of the virus poses a risk to unvaccinated people, but the polio vaccine is nearly 100 percent effective in people who have been fully immunized.”

“The author Salman Rushdie, who spent years under police protection after Iranian officials called for his execution, was attacked and stabbed in the neck on Friday while onstage in Chautauqua, near Erie in western New York,” the New York Times reports.

“Politicians, public officials and even obscure bureaucrats are becoming inured to the new normal of today’s polarized America: constant threats of violence inflamed by highly charged political rhetoric,” Axios reports.

“White House senior advisor Anita Dunn is being forced to divest an investment portfolio worth an estimated $16.8 million to $48.2 million that ethics attorneys say poses significant conflicts of interest in her new role,” CNBC reports.

“The political and communication’s strategist will also have to recuse herself from a myriad of domestic and international issues that affect her former clients.”

New York Times: “With her death, the 322nd of the year, the number of homicides in Philadelphia was on track toward becoming the highest in police records, passing the bleak milestone set just last year. So far in 2022, more than 1,400 people in the city have been shot, hundreds of them fatally, a higher toll than in the much larger cities of New York or Los Angeles.”

“Alarms have sounded about gun violence across the country over the past two years, but Philadelphia is one of the few major American cities where it truly is as bad as it has ever been.”

“A dating app for conservatives called The Right Stuff will launch next month, seeking to open up a new door for the political right who hope to find more like-minded people in the romantic world,” The Hill reports.  “The upcoming debut was announced in a video featuring Ryann McEnany, the younger sister of former Trump White House secretary Kayleigh McEnany.”

Said McEnany: “We’re sorry that you’ve had to endure years of bad dates and wasted time with people who don’t see the world our way – the right way.”

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

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