Cup of Joe – August 23, 2022

“A federal judge who said last week that he is ‘inclined’ to unseal some of the affidavit central to the FBI search of former president Donald Trump’s Florida estate left open the possibility in a written order Monday that it would be so heavily redacted that releasing it would be ‘meaningless,’” the Washington Post reports.

“Former President Trump is pushing for the full, unredacted release of the affidavit that led to the search warrant for his Mar-a-Lago estate, a move that carries risks for both Trump and the Justice Department,” The Hill reports.

The federal magistrate judge who authorized the warrant to search Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate emphasized Monday that he “carefully reviewed” the FBI’s sworn evidence before signing off and considers the facts contained in an accompanying affidavit to be “reliable,” Politico reports.

Former Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told CNN that it’s hard to understand how some of the classified documents that were said to have been seized from Mar-a-Lago ended up there.

Said Mulvaney: “It’s really hard to understand how it gets there in the first place. These things are not accidentally moved anywhere. These documents are marked. They are clearly known to folks to be TS/SCI and there’s supposed to be folks tracking where they are.”

A clear majority of American voters — 57% — believe that the various investigations into alleged wrongdoing by former President Donald Trump should continue, according to a new NBC News poll

“The poll also shows a dissatisfied public, with three-quarters of voters saying the county is headed in the wrong direction, a record 58% who say that America’s best years are behind it and 61% who say they’re willing to carry a protest sign for a day because they’re so upset.”

“The group of congressional leaders charged with reviewing the most sensitive intelligence information has asked the Biden administration for access to the documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s private residence in Florida,” Politico reports.

“The inquiry from the so-called ‘Gang of 8’ comes as lawmakers from both parties seek to learn more about the unprecedented investigation into the former president. And it suggests that Congress is unwilling to be a bystander in the political and legal fallout following the FBI’s Aug. 8 search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.”

Washington Post: “Trump has told advisers that in the nearly two years since leaving office, no issue had better galvanized Republican voters around him than the ‘raid’ of his Florida home. He has taken note of how many Republican politicians issued statements criticizing the FBI, even from some he did not expect.”

Said Trump to one adviser: “Everyone is on our side.”

“In another rant several days after the search, he described the FBI in profane terms, calling them ‘fuckers’ who were out ‘to get him,’ according to a person who heard his comments. The former president has grown somewhat paranoid since FBI agents were on his property, positing they might have left behind recording devices, a person who spoke to him said.”

Ross Douthat: “The lesson to be drawn is emphatically not that Trump needs to be given permanent immunity because of a “don’t arrest ex-presidents” rule or out of fears that his supporters will take to the streets or launch lone-wolf attacks on the F.B.I.”

“The lesson, rather, is that if the agents of the state come after Trump, and especially now when they come as representatives of an administration that might face him in the next election, they can’t afford to miss.”

“Not only in the jury box but also in the court of public opinion, it needs to be clear, crystal clear, what separates any crimes he might be charged with from — for example — the perjury and obstruction of justice that didn’t send Bill Clinton to prison or the breach of intelligence protocols that Hillary Clinton wasn’t charged with. You don’t just need a plausible legal case that tests interesting questions about presidential declassification powers; you need an easy-to-explain slam-dunk.”

“So if you have Trump taking design documents for nuclear weapons and shopping them to his pals in Saudi Arabia, congratulations — you got him; lock him up. If you have him taking boxes of notes from foreign leaders because he’s a childish egomaniac who thinks that he’s earned his White House souvenirs, well, then take the documents back, declare victory for the public interest and stop there. And if he took documents about the Russia investigation itself, of the sort that he wanted declassified during his presidency, well, tread carefully, lest you trap us all in an awful time loop where it’s forever 2017.”

Politico: “He and his team haven’t settled on a singular approach and appear in the dark about what may come next. Trump has often used litigation to delay but has been loath to go on offense, particularly when he’s likely to lose. His vow Friday to make a ‘major motion’ appeared in keeping with that approach.”

“While it’s unclear whether the former president or any of his top allies are at imminent risk of criminal charges, they have sketched out competing and sometimes conflicting positions that may come into play as the investigation — now in its ‘early stages’ — accelerates.”

Key takeaway: “The best thing that Trump can probably hope for at the moment is that the search warrant was primarily a mechanism to recover records the government thought it was entitled to and isn’t much of an indication of whether he or anyone else will face criminal charges.”

Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) said that former President Donald Trump may have needed classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago residence in order to write a memoir, Insider reports. Said Turner: “Well, I don’t know. I mean, you have to ask him. But certainly, we all know that every former president has access to their documents. It’s how they write their memoirs.”

He added: “They don’t have, you know, great recall of everything that’s occurred in their administration.”

Associated Press: “Why Trump refused to turn over the seized documents despite repeated requests remains unclear. But Trump’s flouting of the Presidential Records Act, which outlines how materials should be preserved, was well documented throughout his time in office.”

“He routinely tore up official papers that later had to be taped back together. Official items that would traditionally be turned over to the National Archives became intermingled with his personal belongings in the White House residence. Classified information was tweeted, shared with reporters and adversaries — even found in a White House complex bathroom.”

good rundown at the contradictory, internally inconsistent grab bag of defenses, rationales, and justifications Team Trump has come up with attack the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago.

Robert Shapiro: “No one can argue with President Joe Biden’s job record—more than 9.5 million unemployed Americans found jobs over the past 18 months, and the unemployment rate fell from 6.4 to 3.5 percent.”

“Whether Americans’ incomes are higher is more complicated, because the pandemic disrupted the economy in so many ways. First, GDP collapsed in 2020, and unemployment soared—followed by massive public spending that extended into Biden’s term in 2021 and helped us recover. But supply problems, especially energy, ignited inflation, and spending, worsened it. While the fast-rising employment has produced a record 14.9 percent surge in overall wage and salary income since Biden took office, how much has inflation eaten away at those unparalleled gains?”

“For all of the ‘pain at the pump’ stories, the answer is that wages and salaries have kept pace with inflation since Biden took office—and by this measure, most Americans are much better off than before the pandemic hit in 2020, and before he took office in 2021.”

“In years past, it would have been a political Waterloo moment for Republicans: President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats racing frantically to finalize sweeping legislation to hike taxes on corporations and spend trillions on climate change and health care subsidies,” Politico reports.

“But instead of mounting a massive grassroots opposition to tank or tar the Inflation Reduction Act, conservatives and right-wing news outlets spent the past week with their gaze elsewhere: the FBI’s search of Donald Trump’s Palm Beach mansion.”

“Most of the money from President Joe Biden’s massive infrastructure bill is being handed out this summer and fall, nearly a year after passage, just in time for a campaign season he hopes will keep his fellow Democrats in power,” CNN reports.

“But his team’s task is getting people to pay attention — and give them credit for what they did.”

The Atlantic: “On January 6, 2021, from a parking garage under the Capitol Visitor Center, then–Vice President Mike Pence ordered the military to defend the Capitol against a violent insurrection. According to a taped deposition of General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pence ‘issued very explicit, very direct, unambiguous orders’ to him and Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller: ‘Get the military down here. Get the Guard here. Put down this situation.’”

“This is a problem—one that has been overshadowed by the larger events of January 6. The constitutional authority to call out the military to defend the Capitol is vested in the president of the United States, not in the vice president. Why did Pence seize constitutional authority that wasn’t his? The country needs answers to this question, and it needs them from Pence, not from his chief of staff or his counsel.”

Some signs the Jan. 6 committee may yet hear from the former vice president.

Washington Post: “Biden and Blinken are attempting something larger than a post-Trump reset and restoration of the traditional liberal internationalist approach to foreign policy. They must confront a radically different context from the days when they both served under President Barack Obama: While still preeminent, America’s power abroad — relative to close rivals like China — is diminished.”

“At home, its model as a functioning democracy is tarnished amid an insurrection investigation and paralyzing polarization. Existential crises like climate change and the threat of global pandemics overshadow geopolitical disputes and require leadership and collective responses. On top of it all, vast swaths of the American public question the value of international engagement in the first place, making us a less reliable partner. America may be back now — but for how long?”

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) would be happy to testify if Republicans sent her a subpoena as part of a counter-investigation into the activities of the House Jan. 6 committee, the HuffPost reports.

Said Cheney: “If Kevin McCarthy, or Jim Jordan or any of the other individuals threatening to investigate the committee carry through on that threat and issue a subpoena for me to appear, I will abide by that subpoena.”

She added: “And I will welcome the opportunity to come and explain to them exactly what we found and the threat that Donald Trump poses to the country.”

“Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who has become the face of her party’s opposition to former President Donald Trump, said Sunday she shares a ‘bond’ with her House Republican colleagues who also voted to impeach the last president,” Politico reports.

Said Cheney: “The fact that we all made the decision we did and have faced the consequences for that decision will be a bond, I would imagine, forever.”

“A South Dakota ethics board said it found sufficient information that Gov. Kristi Noem (R) may have ‘engaged in misconduct’ when she intervened in her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser license that it could take action against her,” the Associated Press reports.

“The board voted unanimously to invoke procedures calling for a contested case hearing that would give Noem, who has denied wrongdoing, a chance to publicly defend herself against the allegations related to ‘conflicts of interest’ or ‘malfeasance.’”

“Sensitive election system files obtained by attorneys working to overturn President Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat were shared with election deniers, conspiracy theorists and right-wing commentators,” according to records reviewed by the Washington Post.

“A Georgia computer forensics firm hired by the attorneys placed the files on a server, where company records show they were downloaded dozens of times. Among the downloaders were accounts associated with a Texas meteorologist who has appeared on Sean Hannity’s radio show; a podcaster who suggested political enemies should be executed; a former pro-surfer who pushed disproved theories that the 2020 election was manipulated; and a self-described former ‘seduction and pickup coach’ who claims to also have been a hacker.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he intended to leave government service in December to “pursue the next chapter” of his career, and that he would step down as President Biden’s top medical adviser and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which he has led for 38 years, the New York Times reports.

“A federal appeals court on Sunday temporarily paused a district court’s order requiring that Sen. Lindsey Graham appear before a grand jury probing plots to illegally influence the 2020 election results in Georgia,” CNN reports.

The Washington Post reports Graham had formally appealed a judge’s order requiring him to testify Tuesday, saying doing so would cause “irreparable harm” that would be “in contravention of his constitutional immunity.”

“The legal maneuvering is the latest sign of tension between prosecutors and high-profile witnesses in the Fulton County district attorney’s expansive criminal probe of alleged election interference by former president Donald Trump and his allies. After seeking repeated delays, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s former lawyer, testified for six hours last week.”

“U.S. companies are bringing workforces and supply chains home at a historic pace,” the Wall Street Journal reports.  “American companies are on pace to reshore, or return to the U.S., nearly 350,000 jobs this year… That would be the highest number on record since the group began tracking the data in 2010. The Reshoring Initiative lobbies for bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.”

“A new conservative nonprofit group scored a $1.6 billion windfall last year via a little-known donor — an extraordinary sum that could give Republicans and their causes a huge financial boost ahead of the midterms, and for years to come,” the New York Times reports.

“The source of the money was Barre Seid, an electronics manufacturing mogul, and the donation is among the largest — if not the largest — single contributions ever made to a politically focused nonprofit. The beneficiary is a new political group controlled by Leonard A. Leo, an activist who has used his connections to Republican donors and politicians to help engineer the conservative dominance of the Supreme Court and to finance battles over abortion rights, voting rules and climate change policy.”

“This windfall will help cement Mr. Leo’s status as a kingmaker in conservative big money politics. It could also give conservatives an advantage in a type of difficult-to-trace spending that shapes elections and political fights.”

ProPublica has more: “An elderly, ultra-secretive Chicago businessman has given the largest known donation to a political advocacy group in U.S. history — worth $1.6 billion — and the recipient is one of the prime architects of conservatives’ efforts to reshape the American judicial system, including the Supreme Court.”

“Through a series of opaque transactions over the past two years, Barre Seid, a 90-year-old manufacturing magnate, gave the massive sum to a nonprofit run by Leonard Leo, who co-chairs the conservative legal group the Federalist Society.”

“Severe droughts across the Northern Hemisphere—stretching from the farms of California to waterways in Europe and China—are further snarling supply chains and driving up the prices of food and energy, adding pressure to a global trade system already under stress,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Parts of China are experiencing their longest sustained heat wave since record-keeping began in 1961, according to China’s National Climate Center, leading to manufacturing shutdowns owing to lack of hydropower. The drought affecting Spain, Portugal, France and Italy is on track to be the worst in 500 years.”

Axios: China’s unrivaled 70-day heat wave.

Associated Press: “While the Inflation Reduction Act concentrates on clean energy incentives that could drastically reduce overall U.S. emissions, it also buoys oil and gas interests by mandating leasing of vast areas of public lands and off the nation’s coasts. And it locks renewables and fossil fuels together: If the Biden administration wants solar and wind on public lands, it must offer new oil and gas leases first.”

“As a result, U.S. oil and gas production and emissions from burning fuels could keep growing, according to some industry analysts and climate experts. With domestic demand sliding, that means more fossil fuels exported to growing foreign markets, including from the Gulf where pollution from oil and gas activity plagues many poor and minority communities.”

“Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said Sunday that Americans can expect a decision from the Biden administration on student loans in the ‘next week or so’ as a pause on federal student loan payments is set to expire on August 31,” CNN reports.

“With most of their biggest legislative priorities accomplished and control of the Senate a toss-up, Democrats are about to dig into territory more closely associated with the GOP: ramping up judicial confirmations,” Politico reports.

“While President Joe Biden has seen more judges confirmed at this point in his presidency than his three White House predecessors, some Senate Democrats and progressive advocacy groups want the chamber to start picking up the pace. Judicial confirmations will come to a standstill if Republicans win back the Senate in the fall, they warn.”

Just two weeks after South Memphis, TN, residents successfully stood up to a proposal by two oil and gas giants to build a pipeline under their homes, the Tennessee Valley Authority announced plans to truck millions of tons of contaminated coal ash through the region for nearly 10 years and dump it in an area landfill. Black residents of South Memphis, TN, conservationists, and local politicians say that the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation’s largest public utility, failed to consult locals adequately or consider less-harmful alternatives before deploying the plan. It’s yet another example of how polluting industries work round-the-clock to fight their way into Black, Indigenous, and Latino communities which are already heavily-polluted, and more often than not the corporations win. According to a University of Memphis study, the coal ash convoy joins at least 22 other serious polluting industries, creating terrible air quality and even worse health outcomes for residents.

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

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