Cup of Joe – August 27, 2022

A federal judge has officially ordered the partially-redacted affidavit explaining justification for FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property unsealed.

For what it’s worth, Donald Trump is sending out a barrage of posts on Truth Social.

A Justice Department legal brief explains the proposed redactions:

  • The government asserts that an investigation of Trump has resulted in threats against witnesses and investigators.
  • The government asserts that information must be withheld because of the near-certainty of obstruction of justice.

And here is some of what is referred to in the partially-redacted affidavit:

  • Trump is referred to in the affidavit as “FPOTUS.”
  • In the 15 boxes taken from Mar-a-Lago, the Justice Department says “of most significant concern was that highly classified records were unfoldered, intermixed with other records, and otherwise unproperly identified.”
  • “There is probable cause to believe that additional documents that contain classified NDI or that are Presidential records subject to record retention … remain at the PREMISES. There is also probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction will be found at the PREMISES.”
  • “Based on the foregoing facts and circumstances, I submit that probable cause exists to believe that evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed in violation 18 U.S.C. §§ 793(e), 2071, or 1519 will be found at the PREMISES.”

New York Times: “Ultimately, however, it is the contents of the boxes recovered from Mr. Trump’s residence, not the legal paperwork, that will determine the course of the investigation and the public’s perception of it.”

“The affidavit, if it is released mostly intact, could resolve some of those questions.”

“A partial disclosure, on the other hand, could deepen confusion.”

“A heavily redacted document ‘might just give fuel to those on one side or the other who, like a Rorschach test, will simply see what they want to see in the blacked-out spaces,’ said Mr. Richman, the former prosecutor.”

It’s becoming clearer as new reporting comes in that the National Archives bent over backwards to accommodate former President Trump and not escalate the dispute over government documents he took to Mar-a-Lago.

At one point last year, the National Archives let Trump send back his correspondence with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un via FedEx!

“Please let me know before you mail it and then pass along the tracking code once it has been sent. I need to make sure I have staff on this end to receive the package,” a National Archives official wrote to a Trump attorney and others in a June 2021 email obtained by CNN.

“Donald Trump’s aides are unlikely to be charged with mishandling government documents recovered in the unprecedented search of his Florida estate unless the former president is charged too,” USA Today reports.

“Potential criminal charges including the Espionage Act cited in the search warrant require willful criminal intent, a legal standard that might not apply to aides who simply packed or moved boxes without knowing what they contained, according to former prosecutors. The Espionage Act doesn’t necessarily allege spying, but mishandling documents about national defense.”

“Aides who knowingly moved or hid classified records could face potential charges. But even then former prosecutors said they wouldn’t expect document charges against aides unless Trump himself were charged.”

A 33-year-old Russian-speaking immigrant posing as Anna de Rothschild — a member of the European banking dynasty — infiltrated Mar-a-Lago and former President Donald Trump’s entourage, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Said one guest: “How did they allow it?”

“President Biden on Thursday night launched a push toward the midterm elections with a fiery speech in Rockville, Md., in which he cast the Republican Party as one that was dangerously consumed with anti-democratic forces that had turned toward semi-fascism,” the Washington Post reports.

“It was some of the strongest language used by Biden, a politician long known — and at times criticized for — his willingness to work with members of the opposite party.”

Said Biden: “The MAGA Republicans don’t just threaten our personal rights and economic security. They’re a threat to our very democracy. They refuse to accept the will of the people. They embrace — embrace — political violence. They don’t believe in democracy.”

He added: “What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy. It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the — I’m going to say something — it’s like semi-fascism.”

New York Magazine: “It’s a remarkable turn of events for the longtime senator from New York, who is less Master of the Senate than Master of the Schmooze — a reputation he credits for his success. Schumer merrily showed off his infamous tool of the trade, a flip phone, holding it so close to the camera that a speck of dust on the screen was visible.”

Said Schumer: “I talk to every member. And they all have my phone numbers. They don’t go through staff; they talk to me directly. I’ll probably get ten, 12 calls a day from members on an average day, maybe more.”

“The implementation of President Biden’s widespread, income-targeted student loan forgiveness is shaping up to be a bureaucratic challenge for the Department of Education,” Axios reports.

“The agency doesn’t have income data for most of the 43 million Americans eligible for forgiveness, meaning around 35 million people — including Pell Grant recipients — will have to attest that they makes less than $125,000 per year and apply for relief.”

“President Biden had doubts. In private conversations with White House staffers and allies in Congress this spring, he said he worried that voters who’d never gone to college could resent a move to cancel huge amounts of student debt, according to four Democratic officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reflect private talks. Biden also said that the federal government should not be bailing out Ivy League graduates, and that his children should not qualify for help,” the Washington Post reports.

Said one senior Democrat: “He was nervous about how it would play with working-class people.”

“But a relentless campaign was pressing Biden to embrace dramatic action: There were private appeals aboard Air Force One, the courting of first lady Jill Biden, months of political and economic arguments from senior White House staffers, and warnings by Black lawmakers about the dangers of doing too little. In the end, Biden came around.”

Hamilton Nolan: The lesson from Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness? Go big or go home.

“Trump University founder Donald Trump railed in a post on his Truth Social platform about college administrators who ‘fleeced’ students — part of his attack on President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program,” the HuffPost reports.

“Trump failed to mention that he paid $25 million in 2016 to settle three fraud lawsuits filed on behalf of customers who paid as much as $35,000 each to attend his own Trump University, which was never accredited as a university and didn’t provide any legitimate college degree.”

“When President Joe Biden announced student loan debt relief this week, his allies celebrated. But a string of Democrats in tight races across the country want little to do with it,” NBC News reports.

“That’s because the president may have just handed Republicans a new line of attack at a moment when Democrats were strengthening their positions in swing states and signs were emerging that the party could stave off what was to have been a GOP sweep in the midterm elections, campaign officials, party members, pollsters and national strategists in both parties say.”

“Republicans are betting there will be a backlash against debt forgiveness in states or districts where college attainment is low.”

“Bringing down inflation will require some economic pain, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Friday in a tough-talking speech that signals the Fed is nowhere near relenting on interest rate increases,” Axios reports.

“In a much-awaited address, Powell was blunt about the likelihood that bringing down inflation will come at the expense of the solid labor market that’s been beneficial to workers and softer business conditions.”

Associated Press: “Consumer prices rose 6.3% in July from a year earlier after posting an annual increase of 6.8% in June, the biggest jump since 1982. Energy prices made the difference in July: They dropped last month after surging in June.”

“So-called core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose 4.6% last month from a year earlier after rising 4.8% in June. The drop — along with a reduction in the Labor Department’s consumer price index last month — suggests that inflationary pressures may be easing.”

“The Atlanta-area grand jury investigating Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election is demanding testimony from Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, about his involvement in the effort,” Politico reports.

“Meadows was an active participant in Trump’s effort to press state officials in Georgia to help ‘find’ enough votes to put Trump ahead of Joe Biden in the state. Meadows traveled to Georgia for an unannounced visit during recount efforts there, and he joined Trump on a phone call with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger where Trump pressed the state officials to help reverse the outcome.”

The grand jury is also calling in Trump lawyer Sidney Powell and cyber researcher James Waldron, Politico  reports. Meanwhile, Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro moved to challenge his subpoena by the grand jury on the grounds that it would violate his professional legal obligations to his former client.

“Somewhat lost during a newsy day at the Fulton County special grand jury was a scathing order from Judge Robert McBurney that could have significant implications into the ongoing investigation of Donald Trump,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“The three-page order demolished the argument by 11 fake GOP electors who argued prosecutors should be disqualified from seeking criminal charges against them.”

NYT: The U.S. State Department and Yale University researchers said Thursday that they had identified at least 21 sites in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine that the Russian military or Russian-backed Ukrainian separatists are using to detain, interrogate or deport civilians and prisoners of war in ways that violate international humanitarian law. There were signs pointing to possible mass graves in some areas, they said.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the world narrowly avoided a radiation accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear station in Ukraine on Thursday after power was cut to the two remaining working reactors, Reuters reports.

“President Joe Biden plans to establish a new ambassador-at-large position focused on the Arctic region, an area of growing geostrategic concern to the United States — as well as Russia and China,” Politico reports.  “The position will be subject to Senate confirmation.”

“It was not immediately clear who the nominee for the role will be, but a State Department official familiar with the issue predicted a name would be submitted soon.”

“The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday that it proposes to label certain ‘forever chemicals’ that are found in hundreds of household items and pollute drinking water systems across the country as hazardous substances,” CNN reports.

Punchbowl News: “The prevailing wisdom throughout the 117th Congress has been that if House Democrats lost their majority, the Big Three would be replaced in the leadership, ending their generation-long run atop the Democratic hierarchy. Pelosi and Hoyer have been the No. 1 and No. 2 for House Democrats for nearly 20 years. Clyburn joined the triumvirate after the 2006 election.”

“But what if Democrats don’t lose the House, certainly a possibility now in a rapidly changing political landscape, although admittedly a small one?”

“Or more realistically, what if Democratic losses are at the lower end of projections, say between 10 and 20 seats? In this scenario, Democrats would still lose their majority, but what would that mean for Pelosi-Hoyer-Clyburn, all three of whom are now in their 80s? Would they stick around for the presidential election in 2024, hoping to win the House back? How would this impact younger Democrats who have been positioning themselves to take over next year?”

Vanity Fair: “After more than three years spent digging through millions of documents and compiling dozens of hours of depositions, all signs seem to point toward James taking legal action against Trump soon, probably in the next four to six weeks. The attorney general’s press office declined to comment on whether a decision has been made about next steps.”

“James might first offer Trump and the Trump Organization a settlement deal, though his history suggests there’s little chance he’d accept. The AG’s next move would likely be a massive civil lawsuit. The case would presumably center on allegations that Trump and his company falsely raised or lowered the valuation of real estate holdings in order to obtain loans or reduce tax bills.”

The Atlantic: “Newsom’s behavior is the product of perverse incentives. Excelling in leadership at the state level means waging and winning risky, politically inconvenient fights that do little to raise a governor’s national profile. A far easier way to attract attention and ingratiate yourself to Democratic power brokers is by picking culture-war fights with enemies of convenience—that is to say, people whom most of your fellow partisans loathe—no matter how tenuously connected those fights might be to politics or policy in the place you’re supposed to govern.”

“Many Democrats rightly scoff at Trump-era conservatives who care more about owning the libs than serving their constituents. But Newsom likewise seems to think that, in today’s political environment, the best way to improve his national prospects is to mock and irritate the other side. And for better or worse, he may be correct.”

NPR: “Regulations from the Federal Election Commission and experts on finance law say that there are almost no restrictions on how Trump spends the PAC money while he is not a candidate for president. However, the money raised can’t be used for a potential 2024 campaign if Trump decides he’ll run again, experts say.”

“But Trump doesn’t exactly have a history of following FEC guidelines, and there hasn’t been much enforcement despite dozens of campaign finance complaints.”

“Since 2016, there have been upward of 40 complaints against the former president — the FEC hasn’t acted on any of them, including the case of Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen paying off Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election. It’s bringing up questions on whether Trump could be held accountable for any potential violations in the future.”

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

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