Cup of Joe – August 26, 2022

“A federal judge on Thursday ordered the release by Friday of a redacted version of the affidavit that supported the Justice Department’s application for a search warrant for former president Donald Trump’s Florida residence earlier this month,” the Washington Post reports.

“The Justice Department on Thursday is expected to propose extensive redactions to the affidavit used to obtain a search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence in an effort to shield witnesses from intimidation or retribution if it is made public,” the New York Times reports. “Despite a federal judge’s demand that the government submit its request by noon, it is unlikely to lead to the immediate release of the affidavit.”

“When the National Archives and Records Administration handed over a trove of documents to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, some of the Trump White House records had been ripped up and then taped back together,” the Washington Post reports.

“Former president Donald Trump was known inside the White House for his unusual and potentially unlawful habit of tearing presidential records into shreds and tossing them on the floor — creating a headache for records management analysts who meticulously used Scotch tape to piece together fragments of paper that were sometimes as small as confetti.”

“About two dozen boxes of presidential records stored in then-president Donald Trump’s White House residence were not returned to the National Archives and Records Administration in the final days of his term even after Archives officials were told by a Trump lawyer that the documents should be returned,” the Washington Post reports.

“President Joe Biden said he had ‘zero’ advance notice before federal agents executed a search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence earlier this month,” USA Today reports. Said Biden: “I didn’t have any advanced notice – none, zero, not one single bit.”

Politico: “GOP officials, aides and media personalities who have spoken to him say Trump is frustrated but ‘cheerful.’ He has looked for help to bolster his legal team but found no takers.”

“At the same time, he has reveled in seeing parades of MAGA supporters in front of his properties, as well as Fox News pundits and Republican members of Congress largely rushing to his defense. He also has been buoyed by the belief that the FBI’s search of his home will benefit him politically.”

Andrew McCarthy: “In my columns Monday and Tuesday, I stressed that President Trump could talk himself into being charged by the Justice Department by making public claims that prove to be untrue. This is especially so if what proves to be untrue are claims depicting Trump as fully cooperative and transparent, in contrast to the Justice Department, which is portrayed as the corrupt cat’s-paw of the Biden White House.”

“I should have added that the former president could find himself in even hotter water if, as is often the case, his more exuberant allies try to substantiate his combative story lines, without much thought about whether they are well thought through and, well, you know… true.”

“Even though I am as innocent as a person can be, and despite MY campaign being spied on by the Radical Left, the FISA COURT being lied to and defrauded, all of the many Hoaxes and Scams that were illegally placed on me by very sick & demented people, and without even mentioning the many crimes of Joe and Hunter Biden, all revealed in great detail in the Laptop From Hell, it looks more and more like the Fake News Media is pushing hard for the Sleaze to do something that should not be done!” — Donald Trump, on Truth Social.

If you say you’re “as innocent as a person can be,” then you’re probably not.

Rep.-elect Pat Ryan (D-NY) called former President Donald Trump “essentially traitorous” the day after winning his special election. No lies detected, though we can do without the “essentially.”

Last weekend, conservative journalist John Solomon published a May 10th letter from the National Archives to one of former President Donald Trump’s lawyers.

Debra Steidel Wall, the acting archivist of the United States, was responding to Trump’s request that the National Archives withhold from the FBI the records that had been recovered earlier this year from Mar-a-Lago.

Trump apparently wanted to delay review of the records to decide if he was going to assert executive privilege over them. Wall rejected that argument saying he had no right to withhold them from the current president.

She also noted that the National Archives had tried to recover those records for more than a year — and when they finally retrieved them — they identified them as highly secret and sensitive materials.

For some inexplicable reason, Solomon went on Steve Bannon’s podcast and claimed “most Americans are gonna be troubled to find out the current president siccing the FBI on the former president. I think that’s the way these documents read when you look at it.”

But that’s not how the letter reads at all. In fact, it shows the opposite. 

The letter clearly states that Trump had more than 700 pages of classified information — including some at the highest level of classification — that he shouldn’t have had in the first place.

Aaron Rupar recalls a good analogy: “You might recall that in September 2019, then-President Trump voluntarily released a transcript of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky — one that was at the center of an exploding scandal over efforts to leverage military aid into election interference. Trump claimed the transcript “completely exonerated” him, when in fact it showed he had engaged in impeachable offenses (“I would like you to do us a favor, though”).”

What he perceived as a big win was really a major self-inflected wound — at least to anyone who wasn’t guzzling the MAGA Kool-Aid. Trump was impeached by Congress because of that “perfect call.” It’s not at all clear what Trump’s team is doing here. They are high on their own supply, trapped in their own right wing bubbles and not listening to sane legal advice.

“President Joe Biden is planning to kick-start the implementation process of the sweeping $280 billion law to boost US domestic chip-making and scientific research,” CNN reports.

“Biden will sign the order Thursday, just two weeks after signing the law known as the CHIPS and Science Act. It’s a move that reflects an urgency — and understanding of the substantial task ahead — for top administration officials as they continue to grapple with the acute risk posed by the concentration of the critical semiconductor industry.”

New York Times: “Fresh off a series of legislative victories, the president kicks off the transition to campaign mode with a speech at a Democratic National Committee rally in Maryland on Thursday as he tries to preserve the party’s control of Congress in the midterm elections.”

“But his approval rating remains stubbornly low — lower, in some cases, than those of the candidates he hopes to help — and inflation remains stubbornly high. At 79, Mr. Biden is the oldest president in American history, which has become an increasingly uncomfortable issue for Democrats.”

“Embracing the role as his party’s top campaigner will mean directly confronting Republican attacks when nearly three-quarters of voters say the United States is heading in the wrong direction. It will also mean enduring cold shoulders from some Democratic candidates, a few of whom have made clear that they would prefer if Mr. Biden stayed away.”

Time: “Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell called Biden’s loan forgiveness plan ‘student loan socialism’ and said it was a ‘slap in the face to every family who sacrificed to save for college.’ But when McConnell graduated from the University of Louisville in 1964, annual tuition cost $330 (or roughly $2,500 when adjusted for inflation); today, it costs more than $12,000, a 380% increase.

“When House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who called the policy a ‘debt transfer scam,’ graduated from California State University, Bakersfield in 1989, tuition was less than $800; today, it’s more than $7,500, a 400% increase when adjusted for inflation.”

Wall Street Journal: “The announcement brings to a close a fierce debate within the administration over how to approach student loans. The president had long been skeptical of using his executive authority to forgive debt. He raised concerns in internal meetings that the measure could benefit wealthy people and instructed his staff to impose an income cap so the benefits didn’t flow to individuals making lucrative salaries, according to administration officials and others familiar with the discussions.”

“The president started warming to the prospect of using his authority to forgive some debt in recent months as senior aides, including White House chief of staff Ron Klain, made the case that it would be popular with young voters. Other Biden advisers argued that the move would help minority and low-income borrowers and be a legacy-defining moment for the president.”

David Leonhardt: “It resembles a tax cut that flows mostly to the affluent: Americans who attend and graduate college tend to come from the top half of the income distribution and tend to remain there later in life. College graduates are also disproportionately white and Asian.”

Washington Post editorial: Biden’s student loan announcement is a regressive, expensive mistake.

Wall Street Journal: “Economists say that a tailored debt cancellation plan is unlikely to exacerbate short-term inflationary pressures, but could add to them in the long term, especially if universities continue to raise tuition because students might expect their loans to eventually be canceled.”

“Even some economists usually aligned with the White House, including former Clinton administration Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and former Obama administration economist Jason Furman, have criticized the cost of a potential student debt cancellation and warn that it could force future spending cuts or tax increases.”

Furman: “Pouring roughly half trillion dollars of gasoline on the inflationary fire that is already burning is reckless. Doing it while going well beyond one campaign promise ($10K of student loan relief) and breaking another (all proposals paid for) is even worse.”

Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Biden’s plan will test the legal limits of the federal government’s authority to cancel student debt. Its success could depend on how courts would interpret the education secretary’s powers under the 1965 Higher Education Act, which allows the secretary to ‘consent to modification’ of loans, and ‘compromise, waive, or release’ unspecified amounts of student debt.”

“Advocates for broad cancellation say the lack of explicit constraints in the law is deliberate, giving the executive branch flexibility with its ‘compromise authority’ to manage its relationship with borrowers. They note that presidents of both parties have used the law to forgive debt on a more-limited scale.”

New York Times: “Because Mr. Biden used executive action, rather than legislation, to forgive the loans, legal challenges are expected. It is unclear, however, who would have the standing to press their case in court. A recent Virginia Law Review article argued that the answer might be no one: States, for example, have little say in the operation of a federal loan system.”

“I don’t think I have the authority to do it by signing the pen.” — President Biden, on February 16, 2021, suggesting he can’t forgive student loan debt.

“The Biden administration on Wednesday scored its first legal victory since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, convincing a judge to block the portion of an Idaho law that criminalizes performing an abortion on a woman to protect her health,” the Washington Post reports.

“The law, which was set to take effect on Thursday, bans abortions except in cases involving rape, incest or when a woman’s life is in danger — and does not contain an exception for when a pregnant person’s health is at risk. It would allow authorities to arrest a health-care professional involved in performing an abortion, putting the onus on that person to prove in court that the abortion met the criteria for one of the exceptions.”

“A federal judge in Texas late on Tuesday blocked President Joe Biden’s administration from enforcing new guidance in the Republican-led state requiring hospitals to provide emergency abortions to women regardless of state bans on the procedure,” Reuters reports.

“Performing an abortion is now a felony punishable by up to life in prison in Texas after the state’s trigger law, which has only narrow exceptions to save the life of a pregnant patient, went into effect Thursday,” the Texas Tribune reports.

“With his army struggling to make significant progress in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin of Russia signed a decree on Thursday that increases the number of service members in the country’s armed forces by 137,000, starting next year,” the New York Times reports.

“While enjoying a significant superiority in artillery and in long-distance missiles, Russia’s forces have been unable to capture significant territory since the beginning of July, when the city of Lysychansk in the country’s Luhansk region fell.”

“U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrived in Kyiv on Wednesday, which is both Ukraine’s Independence Day and the six-month mark since Russia’s invasion began,” Axios reports. “He was pictured walking through the city alongside President Volodymyr Zelensky.”

“European power prices have soared so much that they’re now equal to more than $1,000 per barrel of oil,” Bloomberg reports.

“A gas crunch is the main driver — with Russian supply cuts pushing the fuel’s price to about 13 times its seasonal norm — while heat waves and drought boosted electricity demand and cut hydro and nuclear output. Coal-fired plants may offer little relief, since that commodity has hit a record.”

Wall Street Journal: “Saudi Arabia and some of its oil-producing allies have suggested cutting crude production, disappointing U.S. officials who predicted the kingdom would be instrumental in cooling the market after President Biden met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the first time in office.”

New York Times: “Underscoring the risks for Mr. Graham, lawyers for 11 people who have been designated as targets who could face charges in the case have said that they were previously told that their clients were only ‘witnesses, not subjects or targets,’ according to court filings.”

“Federal authorities have charged five members of a militia allegedly run by a former candidate for Congress for their alleged actions on Jan. 6,” NBC News reports. “The individuals all refer to themselves as members of the ‘B Squad’ and were associated with the Three Percent movement, authorities said in the criminal complaint.”

“Former Interior secretary Ryan Zinke, the leading contender to win a new House seat representing Montana this fall, lied to investigators several times about conversations he had with federal officials, lawmakers and lobbyists about a petition by two Indian tribes to operate a casino in New England,” the Washington Post reports.

“Biden administration officials said on Tuesday that they expected slower economic growth and significantly higher inflation this year than they had initially predicted, as rising prices continued to complicate the nation’s return to economic normalcy,” the New York Times reports.

The Economist: “States across the country have smashed revenue records in the past fiscal year. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-profit outfit, state governments saved $217.1bn in 2021, exceeding the 2019 record by nearly $100bn.”

“Why the bonanza? An influx of federal dollars during the pandemic spared states from spending savings. Sales-tax revenues soared as federal stimulus cheques, tax credits and unemployment benefits gave people money to spend. Inflation helped, too. Not only did it boost the price of goods, which increased sales-tax revenues; it also raised salaries, in nominal terms, moving people into higher tax brackets.”

“Although the average state carries a debt of $3,641 per resident, none seems to be using its excess revenue to pay off what it owes. Instead, after replenishing rainy-day funds, states are playing with taxes… Thirty-three states and Washington, DC, have passed some sort of tax relief.”

“Funding the government is never a breeze, but a handful of factors converging this fall may make for an especially rocky ride,” Politico reports.

“The House and Senate have just weeks after their August break to pass a short-term funding patch that keeps the government open after Sept. 30.”

“While a shutdown isn’t likely, Republicans and even some progressives have suggested that approving a bipartisan stopgap won’t be easy if it includes certain energy permitting provisions meant to button up the climate portions of Democrats’ signature party-line domestic policy bill. The chances of reaching an agreement could all hinge on the fast-approaching midterms.”

Eight people with direct knowledge of the probe confirmed to the Daily Beast that the case against Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) “is still unfolding—albeit at a methodical pace—as federal prosecutors work their way across a number of spokes of possible criminality.”

“While each zone has its own sets of witnesses, subjects, and targets, all of it spirals out from one man: a crooked local tax official and Gaetz’s former ‘wingman,’ Joel Greenberg.”

“California is expected to put into effect on Thursday its sweeping plan to prohibit the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035, a groundbreaking move that could have major effects on the effort to fight climate change and accelerate a global transition toward electric vehicles,” the New York Times reports.

From a Financial Times editorial: “Nine months ago, there was still some doubt whether the US Republicans were Donald Trump’s personal possession. Glenn Youngkin had just won the Virginia governorship while keeping some distance from the twice-impeached former president. Here was, if not a brave soul, then an electoral model for non-populist conservatives to follow.”

How naive that doubt now seems. Trump-endorsed candidates are thriving in the primaries for the midterm elections. Those who take a stand against him are not. The rout of the Republican lawmaker Liz Cheney in Wyoming this month was retribution for her role in the probe into last year’s siege of the US Capitol. About three-quarters of Republican voters deny that Joe Biden is the legitimately elected US president. Subscribers to the Big Lie include people attaining positions in the election bureaucracy of Arizona and other important states. Trump, if he runs again in 2024, will count on their chicanery.”

“The decay of the GOP is existential for the republic.”

“Some of the biggest names at Fox News have been questioned, or are scheduled to be questioned in the coming days, by lawyers representing Dominion Voting Systems in its $1.6 billion defamation suit against the network, as the election technology company presses ahead with a case that First Amendment scholars say is extraordinary in its scope and significance,” the New York Times reports.

“Two Florida residents pleaded guilty in federal court in Manhattan on Thursday to stealing a diary and other belongings of President Biden’s daughter, Ashley Biden, and selling them to the conservative group Project Veritas in the final weeks before the 2020 election,” the New York Times reports.

Former President Donald Trump slammed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as “a pawn for the Democrats” and said he should “immediately” be replaced, the HuffPost reports.

Said Trump: “Mitch McConnell is not an Opposition Leader, he is a pawn for the Democrats to get whatever they want. He is afraid of them, and will not do what has to be done.”

“I’m just sick of seeing him! I know he says he’s gonna retire — someone needs to grab that little elf and chuck him across the Potomac.”  — Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), quoted by the Daily Beast, expressing frustration with Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“The Justice Department has released the entire text of a secret 2019 memo that played a crucial role in the decision not to charge or accuse then-President Donald Trump of committing obstruction of justice in the investigation into whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election,” the Washington Post reports.

“The memo, addressed to then-deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, says none of the potential instances of obstruction of justice by Trump cited in Mueller’s lengthy final report ‘would warrant a prosecution for obstruction of justice’ regardless of whether the person being investigated was a sitting president.”

Politico: “The Justice Department fought release of the memo for years, arguing that it was part of a deliberative process advising Barr on what to do in response to Mueller’s report. However, judges concluded that at the time the memo was written, Barr had already decided not to charge Trump.”

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

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