Cup of Joe – August 28, 2022

“The National Archives and the Justice Department tried and failed repeatedly for more than a year and a half to retrieve classified and sensitive documents from former President Donald Trump before resorting to a search of his Mar-a-Lago property this month,” the New York Times reports.

“The documents, including an unsealed, redacted version of an affidavit from the Justice Department requesting a warrant to conduct the search, make clear the lengths to which the government went before pursuing a law enforcement action to recover the material.”

“Here’s a timeline of the events that led to the search.”

“When the Justice Department proposed redactions to the affidavit underlying the warrant used to search former President Donald Trump’s residence, prosecutors made clear that they feared the former president and his allies might take any opportunity to intimidate witnesses or otherwise illegally obstruct their investigation,” the New York Times reports.

“Since the release of the search warrant, which listed three criminal laws as the foundation of the investigation, one — the Espionage Act — has received the most attention. Discussion has largely focused on the spectacle of the F.B.I. finding documents marked as highly classified and Mr. Trump’s questionable claims that he had declassified everything held at his residence.”

“But by some measures, the crime of obstruction is a threat to Mr. Trump or his close associates that is as much or even more serious.”

“In the minutes and hours after the FBI’s search of former President Donald J. Trump’s residence in Florida this month, his supporters did not hesitate to denounce what they saw as a blatant abuse of power and outrageous politicization of the Justice Department,” the New York Times reports.

“But with the release of a redacted affidavit detailing the justification for the search, the former president’s allies were largely silent, a potentially telling reaction with ramifications for his political future.”

Brad Moss: “I believe Trump will actually be indicted for a criminal offense. Even with all its redactions, the probable cause affidavit published today by the magistrate judge in Florida makes clear to me three essential points:

  • Trump was in unauthorized possession of national defense information, namely properly marked classified documents.
  • He was put on notice by the U.S. Government that he was not permitted to retain those documents at Mar-a-Lago.
  • He continued to maintain possession of the documents (and allegedly undertook efforts to conceal them in different places throughout the property) up until the FBI finally executed a search warrant earlier this month.

“That is the ball game, folks. Absent some unforeseen change in factual or legal circumstances, I believe there is little left for the Justice Department to do but decide whether to wait until after the midterms to formally seek the indictment from the grand jury.”

Republican strategist Karl Rove told Fox News that he cannot understand why Donald Trump stashed sensitive government documents without authorization.

Said Rove: “Why he was holding on to these materials when he had no legal authority to do so under the Presidential Records Act is beyond me.”

Former Attorney General William Barr attacked Donald Trump and his Republican supporters for again “pandering to outrage,” this time over the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, the HuffPost reports.

Said Barr: “Something I’m pretty tired of from the right is the constant pandering to outrage and people’s frustrations. And picking and picking and picking at that sore without trying to channel those feelings in a constructive direction.”

“The National Archives and the Justice Department tried and failed repeatedly for more than a year and a half to retrieve classified and sensitive documents from former President Donald Trump before resorting to a search of his Mar-a-Lago property this month,” the New York Times reports.

“The documents, including an unsealed, redacted version of an affidavit from the Justice Department requesting a warrant to conduct the search, make clear the lengths to which the government went before pursuing a law enforcement action to recover the material.”

“Here’s a timeline of the events that led to the search.”

Tevi Troy: “The controversy surrounding the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago is not going away anytime soon. As more details come out, we know one thing for sure: If we are going to have investigations of presidents after their time in office, we are going to see more controversy about prosecutorial tactics in the years ahead.”

“In thinking about how to engage in these investigations, history, as always, is a helpful guide, as investigating an administration even after the president has left office has actually happened many times.”

Axios: Former leaders have been jailed or charged all over the world.

“President Biden on Friday dismissed the claim from former President Trump that he broadly declassified the boxes of White House documents he took to Florida after leaving office,” The Hill reports.

Said Biden, sarcastically: “I’ve declassified everything in the world. I’m president. Come on.”

“Republicans are working to make President Joe Biden’s historic action to forgive student loan debt an economic wedge issue in November’s midterm elections, with a barrage of attacks casting the move as elitist and unfair to the plumbers, waitresses and truck drivers who never went to college,” USA Today reports.

“The American Action Network, a conservative advocacy organization with ties to House GOP leadership, is going up with a national ad campaign for the next 10 days arguing President Biden’s student debt forgiveness plan is unfair to working-class Americans,” Axios reports.

The ad, which will be airing during upcoming college football and Major League Baseball games, features a waitress, mechanic and landscaper talking about working extra shifts to help theater majors and business majors get out of debt.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “What fever-pitch rhetoric combined with poor logic do tell us is that the decision sparked strong feelings. That alone could explain why Biden chose to move forward with the plan and why Republicans are opposing it so fiercely. Politicians don’t always read the mood accurately; the truth is that very few people get riled up about public-policy decisions, especially ones that don’t affect them personally. Unless, that is, their party works hard to get them upset in the first place.”

“So a lesson from the student debt debate is that politicians are always looking for policy questions that will engage their supporters.”

Jonathan Last reviews President Biden’s accomplishments, but notes he left out “some of the intangible good stuff.”

  • Joe Biden is not in your face pronouncing on every matter under the sun. You could, if you wanted, go weeks without seeing or hearing him.
  • When the administration makes mistakes, they are not based on presidential impulses.
  • Policy is not being made by 1:00 am tweet.
  • The president is not engaging in the culture war and antagonizing authoritarian-leaning Republicans.
  • There are no scandals emanating from the executive branch.

The Washington Post has an in-depth, excellent story on the Battle of Kyiv, as told from the perspectives of the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, his top advisors, the military brass, down to men in the trenches. The detail is spectacular, giving us new insight into the battle we were tracking 2-3 times a day for 36 days. 

“Former President Donald Trump’s social media outfit, Truth Social, is locked in a bitter battle with one of its vendors claiming that the platform is stiffing the company out of more than $1 million in contractually obligated payments,” Fox Business reports.  “If the allegations are true, they would suggest that Truth Social’s finances are in significant disarray.”

“Former president Donald Trump’s Truth Social website is facing financial challenges as its traffic remains puny and the company that is scheduled to acquire it expresses fear that his legal troubles could lead to a decline in his popularity,” the Washington Post reports.

“Six months after its high-profile launch, the site — a clone of Twitter, which banned Trump after Jan. 6, 2021 — still has no guaranteed source of revenue and a questionable path to growth.”

“The company warned this week that its business could be damaged if Trump ‘becomes less popular or there are further controversies that damage his credibility.’ The company has seen its stock price plunge nearly 75 percent since its March peak and reported in a filing last week that it had lost $6.5 million in the first half of the year.”

Elizabeth Spiers: “All memoirs are self-serving — it’s just a matter of degree. But Jared Kushner’s memoir, Breaking History, is, at its core, an extended news release that exists primarily to exculpate its author after his role in one of the most destructive presidential administrations of my lifetime. Any reader who’s inclined to plow through the more than 450 pages of often tedious and repetitive claims will, however, get a very good sense of what Kushner is really like — what he sounds like, how he views his interactions with others and what his values are.”

“I know this because I worked for him in 2011 and 2012, when I was the editor in chief of the New York Observer, a prestigious newspaper Kushner bought in 2006 at the age of 25. At the time, he was ostensibly a Democrat, and Donald Trump was pretending to fire people on national television…”

“What Kushner’s book really is, however, is a portrait of a man whose moral compass has been demagnetized.”

Washington Post: “If it seems like the weather across the Lower 48 as of late has been bonkers, you’re not imagining things. It’s been a maelstrom of weather extremes, a seesaw fluctuating wildly from significantly dry to record wet conditions.”

“Parts of the United States, especially in the West, are gripped by an inveterate and devastating drought — yet many drought-stricken areas have experienced rare and extreme flooding over the summer, bringing fiercely different precipitation extremes to the region in a matter of hours.”

“Inside President Joe Biden’s tight-knit inner circle, few — if any — White House aides have spent more time by his side in the last three years than Stephen Goepfert. That will change at the end of this week,” CNN reports.

“Goepfert, Biden’s personal aide, is set to leave the White House for a role at the Transportation Department, marking the departure of a key cog on Biden’s team who has been by the President’s side at every major moment since the first months of his 2020 presidential campaign.”

Foreign Affairs: “China is on the brink of a water catastrophe. A multiyear drought could push the country into an outright water crisis. Such an outcome would not only have a significant effect on China’s grain and electricity production; it could also induce global food and industrial materials shortages on a far greater scale than those wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.”

“Given the country’s overriding importance to the global economy, potential water-driven disruptions beginning in China would rapidly reverberate through food, energy, and materials markets around the world and create economic and political turbulence for years to come.”

“In a 2014 referendum on whether Scotland should break away to become Europe’s newest nation state, Scots voted to stay in the three-centuries-old union with England and Wales by 55% to 45%,” Bloomberg reports.

“Rather than settling the matter, though, the separatists gathered in strength and numbers. They became key political power brokers by winning most of Scotland’s seats in the UK Parliament. Now they’re laying the ground for another vote, even though the government in London has refused to allow one, and the push for an independent Scotland shows no sign of going away.”

Wall Street Journal: “Companies in a broadening array of industries are announcing layoffs as they struggle with declining business activity, rising interest rates, high inflation and shifting consumer-spending habits.“

“But one characteristic of today’s economy is that job cuts at small startups and large companies have yet to dent the overall labor market. Labor demand is still historically strong, offering only faint signs of cooling. There are nearly two job openings for every unemployed person seeking work. That means many workers who are losing their jobs are quickly landing jobs. Some are even weighing multiple offers and accepting positions that pay more and better align with their skills.”

Axios: “Brazil’s election campaign officially kicked off this week, with polls showing former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva leading incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in their titanic clash of ideologies and personalities.”

“A new Datafolha poll out Thursday evening shows Lula up 47% to 32%. Four other recent polls showed him leading by between 7 and 12 points.”

“Pakistan’s former prime minister, Imran Khan, was charged under the country’s antiterrorism act yesterday, in a drastic escalation of the tense power struggle between the country’s current government and its former leader that threatens to set off a fresh round of public unrest and turmoil,” the New York Times reports,

“A retired judge has been appointed to investigate how former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was able to secretly amass unprecedented ministerial powers in defiance of political conventions,” the AP reports.

“Morrison secretly appointed himself to five ministerial roles between March 2020 and May 2021, usually without the knowledge of the original minister.”

“A New York City-owned golf course managed by former President Donald Trump’s family business is expected to host a Saudi Arabia-backed tournament in October,” the New York Times reports.

Former Texas Right to Life Political Director Luke Bowen has been charged with online solicitation of a minor after an Aug. 3 sting operation, the Montgomery Courier reports.

Aaron Blake: Buyer’s remorse could be creeping in for GOP on abortion.

“Moderna on Friday sued Pfizer and BioNTech, alleging that their Covid vaccine copied its groundbreaking technology,” the New York Times reports.

“The Secret Service said on Friday that it has recovered $286 million in Covid relief funds that were meant for small businesses but were siphoned off by fraudsters using thousands of stolen or fake identities,” NBC News reports.

Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign rejected an offer to buy President Biden’s daughter’s stolen diary, Axios reports. Instead, the Trump campaign told them to take the material to the FBI.

“Forty-one percent of parents in America say they are not confident that their public schools’ will have enough teachers and staff available to meet the needs of their students,” according to a new NBC News poll.

“The New York area is running so low on fuel that the Biden administration is warning of government action to address exports and suppliers are resorting to expensive US tankers to restock the region,” Bloomberg reports.

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

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