Cup of Joe – September 2, 2022

Andrew McCarthy: “The court filing made by the Justice Department on Tuesday night, in response to Trump’s lawsuit seeking a special master to review materials seized by the FBI, indicates that prosecutors have amassed formidable evidence of obstruction. That’s a game-changer…”

Andrew Napolitano: “Even a cursory review of the redacted version of the affidavit submitted in support of the government’s application for a search warrant at the home of former President Donald Trump reveals that he will soon be indicted by a federal grand jury for three crimes: Removing and concealing national defense information (NDI), giving NDI to those not legally entitled to possess it, and obstruction of justice by failing to return NDI to those who are legally entitled to retrieve it…”

“Where does all this leave Mr. Trump? The short answer is: in hot water. The longer answer is: He is confronting yet again the federal law enforcement and intelligence communities for which he has rightly expressed such public disdain. He had valid points of expression during the Russia investigation. He has little ground upon which to stand today.”

“Federal prosecutors are likely to wait until after the November election to announce any charges against Donald Trump, if they determine he broke laws, according to people familiar,” Bloomberg reports.

“Under long-standing department policy, prosecutors are barred from taking investigative steps or filing charges for the purpose of affecting an election or helping a candidate or party, traditionally 60 days before an election. This year, that would be by Sept. 10, which makes it unlikely anything would be announced until after Nov. 8, said people who asked to remain anonymous speaking about potential Justice Department actions.”

“Donald Trump’s lawyers contended Wednesday that the Department of Justice is trampling on his rights and demanded an independent review of materials the FBI seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate,” Politico reports.

“But the former president’s lawyers sidestepped the most serious obstruction-of-justice claims prosecutors aired against him just hours earlier, and Trump’s legal team notably avoided echoing an assertion their client resurfaced earlier in the day: that he had declassified the documents at issue in the dispute.”

CNN: Trump tells court that classified material should have been expected in presidential records found at Mar-a-Lago.

Lawfare: “The Justice Department’s filing Tuesday evening in former President Trump’s federal court effort to slow the Mar-a-Lago investigation presents a remarkable show of strength and confidence in the ongoing probe.”

“The document’s legal arguments are not particularly engaging, as they respond to uninteresting, meritless legal challenges from the former president. Its factual summary, by contrast, is a rip-roaringly great read, one in which the department tells the story of its investigation in some detail. Some of this story it has told before, but some it has not. There are a lot of new details in here, and nearly all of them are bad for the former president.”

“Some of these flesh out the volume and nature of the classified material Trump hoarded at Mar-a-Lago. But other details, more importantly in our view, flesh out questions of intent and mens rea that are key to all of the statutes at issue in the warrant. While the document goes out of its way not to discuss Trump’s personal behavior, it also includes material specifically suggestive of the degree to which the department has collected material incriminating Trump personally.”

“Former President Donald Trump may have thought that he was playing offense when he asked a federal judge last week for an independent review of documents seized from his residence in Florida — a move that, at best, could delay but not derail an investigation into his handling of the records,” the New York Times reports.

“But on Tuesday night, the Justice Department used a routine court filing in the matter to initiate a blistering counteroffensive that disclosed new evidence that Mr. Trump and his legal team may have interfered with the inquiry.”

Washington Post: Justice filing points to new legal trouble for Trump and lawyers, experts say.

“At first, Republicans were highly critical of the FBI search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, but as new details emerge about the more than 100 classified documents the former president haphazardly stashed at his private club Republicans have grown notably silent,” the AP reports.

“The deepening investigation into Trump’s handling of sensitive government information has disclosed damaging and unsettling new details. With every court filing there is new information about the cache of documents the former president took with him from the White House and the potential national security concerns. While the unprecedented search has galvanized many Republicans to Trump’s defense, others in the party are unwilling to speak up, often wary of crossing him.”

Politico: “Political fallout, precedent and national security risk are just some of the intangibles Garland will have to consider as he considers what would potentially be the highest-profile criminal case in American history, according to former prosecutors, intelligence agency lawyers and Justice Department officials.”

“One consideration for Garland is how Trump’s alleged actions stack up against other cases DOJ has brought or not brought over mishandling classified information. A second factor is how confident prosecutors are they could win at trial — knowing the political fallout of a losing case against a former president could be devastating.”

“And finally, Garland has to consider the damage that a trial might have on national security secrets, given the nature of the Mar-a-Lago document seizures.”

David Graham: “As the great American philosophers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Omar Little each expressed in their own ways, if you go after the king, you can’t make a mistake.”

“The Department of Justice now finds itself in just such a can’t-miss scenario in its legal battle with Donald Trump over documents he took with him to Mar-a-Lago. Given the delicate political calculation, any error could strengthen the former president, weaken the rule of law, and imperil the Constitution. But so far, the federal government has been a step ahead of Trump at every turn.”

“The latest demonstration came in a filing late last night, in which prosecutors dramatically swept away the most recent excuses from Trump and his allies, who have insisted that the former president cooperated with the government and acted in good faith. The filing provides evidence that Trump and his team not only didn’t hand over all classified materials, but actively sought to conceal them by misleading the FBI. And a striking photograph, showing cover sheets with bold red block letters reading TOP SECRET // SCI, preempts any claim that Trump might simply not have realized the documents were classified.”

Adam Serwer: “Retaining classified documents is not even close to the worst thing Trump has done. We are, after all, speaking of a man who twice tried to subvert the democratic process, first by using foreign aid in an attempt to blackmail Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into falsely implicating then–Democratic rival Joe Biden in a crime, and later by attempting to use a mob to seize power by force after bureaucratic means failed.”

“But those were both overtly political acts, subject to distortions of perception and emphasis, and this one is rather more straightforward. It is illegal to ‘knowingly’ remove ‘such documents or materials without authority and with the intent to retain such documents or materials at an unauthorized location.’ The photograph of documents emblazoned secret removes any ambiguity as to whether Trump was in possession of classified documents.”

“If it were anyone else, they would be prosecuted.”

Associated Press: “In his Thursday address, White House officials said, Biden will hark back to the 2017 white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, which he says brought him out of political retirement to challenge Trump. He’ll argue that the country faces a similar crossroads in the coming months.”

“President Biden likes to say there is nothing America cannot do if the country is united and its rival parties are willing to work together,” the New York Times reports.

“But with just two months until the midterm elections, Mr. Biden is purposely spending less time hailing the virtues of compromise and more time calling out dangers to democracy — using some of the sharpest and most combative language of his presidency.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is pushing to make infrastructure a winning issue for Democrats in the midterms — that is, if only his own presidential ambitions don’t trip him up, Politico reports.

“Buttigieg, 40, is the youngest Cabinet member and arguably the best-known as a result of his own presidential campaign in 2020. His party’s success in November—and his own future ambitions for higher office—depend, in part, on him selling the sweeping infrastructure package.”

“Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will deliver a major economic speech in Detroit next week as part of a month-long push to sell President Biden’s signature legislative achievements before the midterms,” Axios reports.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), the head of the Senate Republican campaign arm, writes in the Washington Examiner that fellow Republicans should “pipe down” their criticism of the party’s Senate nominees. Writes Scott: “Unfortunately, many of the very people responsible for losing the Senate last cycle are now trying to stop us from winning the majority this time by trash-talking our Republican candidates. It’s an amazing act of cowardice, and ultimately, it’s treasonous to the conservative cause.”

He added: “If you want to trash-talk our candidates to help the Democrats, pipe down. That’s not what leaders do.”

Meanwhile, Scott told Politico: “Sen. McConnell and I clearly have a strategic disagreement here. We have great candidates.”

New Republic: “The head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee seems a lot more focused on getting himself elected in 2024 than he is on helping Mitch McConnell take back the Senate.”

Politico: Defiant Rick Scott explains “strategic disagreement” with McConnell over battle for Senate.

“For months, Sen. Ron Johnson has drawn scrutiny for his office’s role in attempting to deliver false packets of electors to former Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

“While the Oshkosh Republican continues to downplay his office’s connection to the effort, saying his participation lasted just seconds, one of Wisconsin’s false electors has been working on Johnson’s reelection campaign.”

The chairman of the board of Lukoil, Russia’s biggest privately held oil producer and one of the few Russian companies to criticize the invasion of Ukraine, has died after falling out of a hospital window, Interfax reports.

“Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed lawmakers to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory not only in Arizona, as previously reported, but also in a second battleground state, Wisconsin, according to emails obtained under state public-records law,” the Washington Post reports.

The wife of a Supreme Court justice trying to subvert the U.S. Constitution is problematic on many levels.

“Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp gets a lot of credit for resisting pressure from former President Donald Trump to ‘find the votes’ to flip the 2020 election results in his state,” The Bulwark reports.

“But that was then. Today, Kemp stands shoulder-to-shoulder with one of the state’s top election deniers. That man is his running mate, the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor, Burt Jones.”

“Republican state attorneys general and other leading conservatives are exploring a slew of potential lawsuits targeting President Biden’s plan to cancel some student debt — challenges that could limit or invalidate the policy before it takes full effect,” the Washington Post reports.

“In recent days, a number of GOP attorneys general from states including Arizona, Missouri and Texas have met privately to discuss a strategy that could see multiple cases filed in different courts around the country.”

“Other influential conservatives — including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and allies of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank — are mulling their own options as they ratchet up criticism of Biden’s debt-relief plan… And a conservative advocacy group founded by a major Trump donor said it would file a lawsuit against the policy.”

“Two former top Trump White House lawyers are expected to appear Friday before a federal grand jury investigating the events surrounding Jan. 6,” ABC News reports.

“Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone and former deputy White House counsel Pat Philbin were subpoenaed by a federal grand jury investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the 2020 election.  The move to subpoena the two men has signaled an even more dramatic escalation in the Justice Department’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack than previously known.”

“America’s biggest adversaries — China, Russia and Iran — are increasingly teaming up in ways that could undermine U.S. objectives,” Axios reports.

“Russian and Chinese forces began major military exercises Thursday in Russia’s far east. Meanwhile, Russia has received an initial batch of drones from Iran to deploy on the battlefield in Ukraine.”

“Michigan’s elections panel deadlocked along partisan lines Wednesday on certifying an abortion rights measure for this fall’s ballot that proposed adding an explicit right to seek the procedure in the state,” the Detroit Free Press reports.

“The impasse leaves the measure off the ballot, and Reproductive Freedom for All plans to file an appeal asking the Michigan Supreme Court to put the proposed constitutional amendment before voters as the state prepares to send out ballots next month.”

“National leaders are warning of the potential for political violence as campaign rhetoric heats up, fueled by an FBI investigation into Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents that has generated a furious backlash from him and his supporters,” NBC News reports.

“With less than 10 weeks to go before the midterm elections, the political climate is increasingly volatile, experts who study extremism say. Federal agencies like the IRS, FBI and National Archives are beefing up security as they become targets of the right. Lawmakers are disclosing threats and openly predicting violence; one even says that it has become too dangerous to hold public events and that she feels the need to shield her family from harm.”

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

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