Cup of Joe – August 31, 2022

The GOP’s turn away from democracy and toward a low-key fascism (or not so low key, depending on your point of view), hasn’t come in one sudden lurch or entirely at the behest of Donald Trump himself. It’s been a steady transition enabled by countless so-called establishment Republicans. No one quite embodies the elected-Republican-as-enabler quite like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Graham’s comments over the weekend that there will be riots in the streets if Trump is criminally charged walked a fine between predicting violence and threatening it, Philip Bump notes.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) took it a step further: “We see people like Lindsey Graham who are essentially saying, ‘Either allow [Trump] to get away with what he’s doing, or there will be more violence.’ That’s a fascist statement. It’s the use of violence for political means.”

But there’s another element to MAGA’s use of violence, its threats of violence and the incipient violence it celebrates: MAGA loves to blame the victim. We’ll have no choice but to unleash violence if you keep doing what you’re doing. If we get violent, you made us do it. Our violence is your fault.

Or as Ali Alexander put it over the weekend, as he rejected being called an insurrectionist: “I’d say be careful what you wish for, because you could accidentally gaslight the right into actually becoming insurrectionists.”

Tails I win, heads you lose.

“The investigation into Donald Trump’s handling of classified national security records is forcing Republicans into a strained defense during a pre-midterm sprint in which they’d much rather be talking about Joe Biden,” Politico reports.

“After having decried the FBI’s search of the ex-president’s home, many Trump defenders went silent upon the release on Friday of the probable-cause affidavit that revealed the extent of Trump’s efforts to hold onto the top-secret documents. GOP worries about the developments of the case and Trump announcing a 2024 run before November are giving way to a subtle, broader warning about putting the former president too much on the ballot this fall.”

“Some top Republicans acknowledge the growing angst and concern, as it’s become clearer that Trump may have been warehousing some of America’s most sensitive secrets in an unsecured basement — and even refused to turn them over when the National Archives and Justice Department tried to recover them.”

“As president, Donald Trump employed a consistent and largely successful strategy for fending off congressional oversight investigations: stonewall until the fight reached the courts. Even if judges eventually rejected his legal claims, he could use the slow pace of litigation to run out the clock,” the New York Times reports.

“Facing a criminal investigation into the failure to return government documents — which the National Archives had repeatedly asked him for since May 2021, and the Justice Department had subpoenaed this past May — the former president is now putting forward another potential source of delay.”

“A newly unsealed FBI document about the investigation at Mar-a-Lago not only offers new details about the probe but also reveals clues about the arguments former President Donald Trump’s legal team intends to make,” the AP reports.

“A May 25 letter from one of his lawyers, attached as an exhibit to the search affidavit, advances a broad view of presidential power, asserting that the commander-in-chief has absolute authority to declassify whatever he wants — and also that the ‘primary’ law governing the handling of U.S. classified information simply doesn’t apply to the president himself.”

“The Justice Department on Tuesday will file publicly in court its response to former President Donald Trump’s bid for a special master to oversee the FBI’s review of materials seized in the Mar-a-Lago search,” CNN reports.

“The agency was granted permission by Judge Aileen Cannon of the Southern District of Florida to file up to 40 pages after it said the 20-page limit set by the local rules of the court wasn’t sufficient to ‘adequately address the legal and factual issues raised by’ Trump’s filings.”

A new YouGov poll finds that 43% of Americans believe civil war is at least somewhat likely in the next 10 years — a figure that increases to more than half among self-identified “strong Republicans.”

“On the FBI’s list of documents seized from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, item 1a is listed solely as ‘info re: President of France.’ For Trump, that has been a subject of intense — and tawdry — interest for years,” Rolling Stone reports.

“Specifically, Trump has bragged to some of his closest associates — both during and after his time in the White House — that he knew illicit details about the love life of French President Emmanuel Macron… And the former president even claimed that he learned about some of this dirt through ‘intelligence’ he had seen or been briefed on, these sources say.” 

“In the weeks since the FBI’s unprecedented search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, the former president’s allies have pleaded with him to stop publicly commenting on the raid and fight the Justice Department’s investigation in the courts,” Insider reports.

“Trump isn’t listening.”

“On Tuesday morning alone, Trump has taken to his Truth Social platform over four dozen times to share memes and posts attacking his political enemies. Some posts are memes attacking President Joe Biden or other Democrats, while others are baseless election fraud claims or attempts to delegitimize the FBI.”

“Chris Kise, Florida’s former solicitor general who served on Gov. Ron DeSantis’s transition team, inked a contract to represent Donald Trump in the criminal case that resulted in the FBI search of the former president’s home in Mar-a-Lago,” NBC News reports.

“Other attorneys declined because their firms wanted to avoid the political blowback of representing such a divisive figure.”

“Tony Ornato, the senior Secret Service official who served as a top aide in Donald Trump’s White House and faced scrutiny from the Jan. 6 select committee earlier this summer, announced his retirement Monday,” Politico reports.

“The agency confirmed Ornato’s retirement, which was announced internally earlier in the day. He’s the latest high-level official in the Secret Service to announce his departure in recent weeks. Spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said Ornato — who joined the Secret Service in 1997 — became eligible for retirement earlier this year and leaves the agency in good standing.”

The retirement of Anthony Ornato comes just two days before a planned interview with DHS inspector general investigators, The Intercept reports: [T]he inspector general had been attempting to interview Ornato since June 29 and spent all of July and much of August following up. … Ornato has indicated that he still intends to attend the interview, according to an email obtained by The Intercept, but since Ornato will be a private citizen, investigators won’t have testimonial subpoena authority to compel his cooperation.”

LawFare has an extensive new report out summarizing and evaluating the Jan. 6 Committee’s evidence against Donald John Trump.

“The judge presiding over the Georgia grand jury investigation into possible election interference in 2020 on Monday delayed the testimony of Gov. Brian Kemp until after the upcoming election as prosecutors continued to press for interviews with people close to former president Donald Trump,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, Democrats are spending millions to tout its climate and clean energy provisions — aiming to turn out 2 million environmentally-driven voters across 17 states in November,” Axios reports.

Bloomberg: “Over the next week, Biden will make three visits to Pennsylvania and one to Wisconsin — both states with competitive Senate and gubernatorial races. It’s part of a series of upcoming trips White House aides say are designed to promote Biden’s achievements and contrast his record with Republicans.”

“President Joe Biden plans to deliver a prime-time speech this week about how America’s ‘rights and freedoms are still under attack,’ returning to the core message of his 2020 campaign as Americans are getting ready to vote in the November midterm elections,” NBC News reports.

“The president will lay out how America’s standing in the world and its democracy are at stake, the official said. Biden will highlight what he sees as progress over the past two years to protect our democracy, but note that rights and freedoms remain at risk.”

“The US assesses Russia is now in possession of weapons-capable Iranian drones that they will likely deploy on the battlefield in Ukraine,” CNN reports.

“The Russians picked up the drones from an Iranian airfield earlier this month and transported them back to Russia in cargo planes in mid-August, the officials said.”

Washington Post: “More than a dozen former Trump officials have written books that attempt to influence how history will judge the administration’s pandemic response — and not incidentally, their own roles in it. The book covers and blurbs promise revelations about a crisis that quickly swamped the country, shaped the 2020 election and continues to reverberate more than two years later.”

“But across more than 4,000 pages of memoirs reviewed by The Washington Post — from tell-alls by senior health leaders to lesser-known books, such as an October 2021 memoir by former national security official Keith Kellogg, the picture that emerges is of an administration uniquely unsuited to meet the demands of a pandemic.”

Nearly two years since he decisively lost the presidential election, Donald Trump again called for him to be declared the winner or for there to be an immediate do-over.

Axios: “For most of the summer, the president was persona non grata for nearly any Democrat running in a tough race this November. But that’s beginning to change.”

“Democratic gubernatorial nominee Josh Shapiro and Rep. Matt Cartwright will appear at a Biden event Tuesday in Wilkes- Barre, Pa.”

“Ohio Senate nominee Tim Ryan, who’s kept his distance, told CNN he’ll be with the president Friday at the groundbreaking for a new Intel semiconductor manufacturing facility.”

“Democrats have been hammering GOP candidates on abortion since the fall of Roe v. Wade. That’s left some Republicans scrambling to try to figure out how to soften the blow,” Politico reports.

“A number of Republicans are trying to avoid political fallout from the Dobbs decision by quietly deemphasizing their past position on abortion on campaign websites and on the trail. Another handful of GOP candidates — especially those in contests in states that are more of a reach for the party — have gone up with TV ads looking to counter Democrats’ attacks on abortion.”

Harry Enten: “Every so often in polling, you get to witness a big changing-of-the-guard moment. That happened a few weeks ago, when Gallup released data on marijuana and tobacco usage in the United States. Two long-term trends finally collided.”

“For the first time in Gallup polling, more Americans (16%) said they smoke marijuana than had smoked a tobacco cigarette (11%) in the past week.”

The shell company that plans to take Trump Media and Technology Group public, saw its stock price slide Monday as shareholders consider delaying the merger and the former president contends with a host of legal problems, CNBC reports.

Shares of DWAC closed down nearly 8% at $25.32, off 16% this month and significantly below their 2022 peak of about $97.

Google hasn’t yet approved Truth Social’s Android app for distribution via its Play Store because of insufficient content moderation, Axios reports.

“Republicans hoping to seize control of the House in November are already setting their sights on what is, for many of them, a top priority next year: impeaching President Biden,” The Hill reports.

“A number of rank-and-file conservatives have already introduced impeachment articles in the current Congress against the president. They accuse Biden of committing “high crimes” in his approach to a range of issues touching on border enforcement, the coronavirus pandemic and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.”

Judd Legum explains how Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) uses the media to play up to his supporters.

“DeSantis’ press strategy is to (1) make a splashy announcement with a simple, misleading narrative, (2) generate heaps of media coverage based on that misleading narrative that benefits him politically, (3) count on the media (and the public) to lose interest as the truth slowly trickles out.”

Jonathan Last: “Republican voters are such cheap dates that it doesn’t matter what a politician does, so long as he signals that he really hates the out group.”

Neil Katyal: “The memo released last week by the Justice Department closing the book on the report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election is a frightening document. Critics have rightly focused on its substance, slipshod legal analysis and omission of damning facts.”

“But the process by which that memo, sent in March 2019, came to be is just as worrisome. Delivered to the attorney general at the time, Bill Barr, the memo was written by two political appointees in the Justice Department.”

“Mr. Barr used the memo to go around the special counsel regulations and to clear President Donald Trump of obstruction of justice. If left to fester, this decision will have pernicious consequences for investigations of future high-level wrongdoing.”

“Jackson’s water system is failing and water across the city is entirely unsafe to drink, officials said at an emergency briefing Monday night. State leadership have warned all residents of Mississippi’s capital city to boil water before drinking or even brushing their teeth,” the Mississippi Free Press reports.

NBC News is currently mulling what to do with Meet the Press host Chuck Todd amid struggling ratings, the Daily Beast reports.

“The Biden administration plans to formally ask Congress to approve an estimated $1.1 billion arms sale to Taiwan that includes 60 anti-ship missiles and 100 air-to-air missiles, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the package,” Politico reports.

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

1 comment on “Cup of Joe – August 31, 2022

  1. Stan Merriman

    WTF is “low key fascism” ? If such a thing exists it is because some in the media are failing to recognize fascism and call it out.

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