Delaware

Cup of Joe – September 24, 2022

“The Mar-a-Lago special master on Thursday ordered Donald Trump’s lawyers to state in a court filing whether they believe FBI agents lied about documents seized from the former president’s Florida residence in a court-authorized search last month, or claimed to have taken items that were not actually in Trump’s possession,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump has said on social media and in television interviews that the FBI planted items and described as classified documents that he had declassified when they searched his Mar-A-Lago residence and private club on Aug. 8. His lawyers have not asserted that in court, however, instead saying they have not reviewed the seized materials and are unable to confirm whether the government’s inventory list is accurate.”

“Dearie’s order marks the first time that a courts has demanded that Trump’s lawyers back up his claims.”

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times notes Dearie “has set a breakneck schedule to review and segregate any documents taken by the FBI.”

Associated Press: “Stark repudiation by federal judges he appointed. Far-reaching fraud allegations by New York’s attorney general. It’s been a week of widening legal troubles for Donald Trump, laying bare the challenges piling up as the former president operates without the protections afforded by the White House.”

“The bravado that served him well in the political arena is less handy in a legal realm dominated by verifiable evidence, where judges this week have looked askance at his claims and where a fraud investigation that took root when Trump was still president burst into public view in an allegation-filled 222-page state lawsuit.”

Washington Post; Trump faces growing legal peril as he seeks to raise profile ahead of 2024.

Stephen Collinson: “No judge would put it this crudely, but the court system is effectively telling Donald Trump to put up or shut up about his wild claims and outlandish defenses over his hoarding of classified information at his Florida resort.”

“The case has taken a turn against the former President and towards the Justice Department in recent days, suggesting that the classic Trumpian legal strategy of delay, denial and distraction is not working as well as usual.”

“In a sign of the how quickly Trump’s position may be eroding in this particular drama, several Republican senators took the unusual step of criticizing his handling of the documents on Thursday, despite his firm hold over their party.”

Several GOP senators — including John Thune, Thom Tillis and Mike Rounds — raised new concerns about Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents, rejecting his claim that he could simply declassify the secret records by “thinking about it,” CNN reports.

Asked about Trump’s claim that he can declassify things just by “thinking about it,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told CNN yesterday that “the process is probably more complicated than that.”

In the space of about 10 seconds, Donald Trump told Fox News that he had both completed the border wall and would have completed it if he had just a few more weeks in office.

Donald Trump floated the idea in a Fox News interview that the FBI might have been looking for Hillary Clinton’s emails when they raided Mar-a-Lago.

Said Trump: “There’s also a lot of speculation, because of the severity of what they did, the severity of the FBI coming and raiding Mar-a-Lago. Were they looking for the Hillary Clinton emails that were deleted, but they are around someplace?”

He added: “They may be saying… They may have thought that it was in there. And a lot of people said the only thing that would give the kind of severity that they showed by actually coming in and raiding with many, many people is the Hillary Clinton deal, the Russia, Russia, Russia stuff, or… I mean there are a number of things. The spying on Trump’s campaign.”

Tim O’Brien: “Trump has spent most of his 76 years inflating his wealth, achievements and abilities, but James’s civil lawsuit, more than 280 pages long, is the first time his carnivalesque business practices have exposed him to existential legal consequences.”

Renato Mariotti: “Trump, his son Eric, and others took the Fifth hundreds of times and they can expect James and her team to throw that back in their faces to prove their case. All of the other evidence is just supporting corroboration. The testimony of Trump and his family — or lack thereof — is the centerpiece.”

“It is never easy to fight the attorney general of your state when she really wants to go after you. But Trump is overextended here because he is fighting a multi-front war. I frequently represent people and companies that are facing criminal and civil liability in different forums. Fighting on multiple fronts is hard and involves trade-offs.”

“If I were Trump’s lawyer, I would have settled this case in its infancy. He delayed and dragged it out, just as he delayed and dragged on multiple criminal investigations for years. Trump might think it benefits him politically to claim James’ is part of the vast ‘witch hunt’ (he has certainly fundraised well off of the recent investigations) but he will likely pay a legal price if he attempts to drag this out further. James hasn’t accepted a settlement yet. Eventually she will, and the price she extracts will be a doozy.”

Donald Trump assailed New York Attorney General Letitia James as “racist” and “grossly incompetent” in an indignant social media post Thursday, one day after she filed a sweeping fraud lawsuit against him and his family members, CNBC reports.

“The House on Thursday passed a package of policing and public safety bills, as Democratic centrists and liberals came together on long-sought legislation 47 days to midterm elections,” the Washington Post reports.

“The legislation is the result of months of negotiations among Democrats as the party seeks to counter Republican accusations that it is soft on crime — a perception that Democrats acknowledge cost them seats in 2020. The bills, which garnered bipartisan support, are largely political messages, as the measures are unlikely to get enough Republican support in the Senate for passage.”

“Democratic candidates across the country are getting hammered on crime and public safety. The left’s best-funded gun safety group thinks they have the answer on how to push back: linking crime to how easy it is to get a gun in America,” Politico reports.

“An uptick in crime over the last two years, coupled with a spike in Republican-sponsored TV ads attacking Democrats on public safety, has pushed the issue to the forefront of the midterms. Inflation and abortion still dominate on the campaign trail, but crime and public safety are rising as issues: Mentions of crime in GOP TV ads doubled over the last month to 18 percent of all Republican ads launched in that time, according to an analysis by AdImpact, an ad-tracking firm.”

“The Democratic break from the National Rifle Association is complete: For the first time in at least 25 years, not a single Democrat running for Congress anywhere in the country received an A in the group’s candidate ratings, which were once a powerful influence in U.S. elections,” the New York Times reports.

“Ukraine’s military has grabbed dozens of tanks left by fleeing Russian troops in the east, adding crucial weaponry to its arsenal nearly seven months into a war where both sides have lost manpower and machinery,” Bloomberg reports.

In a major escalation in its Ukraine invasion, the Russian government on Friday launched a series of sham referendums in four Russia-controlled territories in Ukraine, marking the beginning of Moscow’s annexation of parts of the country.

The referendums will last five days, but the process is all for show, of course. Russia’s already decided to absorb those territories.

The four territories include the separatist Luhansk and Donetsk regions, plus the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces. The staged referendums are being held for those areas despite the fact that Russia doesn’t have full control over them.

David Ignatius: “Biden and Putin are a study in contrasts. One is an aging elected politician; the other is a famously vigorous, unelected dictator; one has near-consensus support at home for his Ukraine policy; the other is increasingly attacked in Moscow by right-wing hawks and left-wing doves; one has a unified presidential administration; the other faces growing Kremlin bickering and finger-pointing; one has solid allies across Europe; the other has increasingly wary support from China and India. Clearly, whatever the differences in age and aggressiveness, Biden’s is the stronger hand.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin secretly approved a law that could send a further one million men to fight in Ukraine, The Telegraph reports.

BBC: Russians flee to border after military call-up.

“A cache of nearly 160,000 files from Russia’s powerful internet regulator provides a rare glimpse inside Vladimir Putin’s digital crackdown,” the New York Times reports.

“Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday that any weapons in Moscow’s arsenal, including strategic nuclear weapons, could be used to defend territories incorporated in Russia from Ukraine,” Reuters reports.

“Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said that referendums being organised by Russian-installed and separatist authorities in large swathes of Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory will take place, and that ‘there is no going back.’”

“The United States for several months has been sending private communications to Moscow warning Russia’s leadership of the grave consequences that would follow the use of a nuclear weapon, according to U.S. officials, who said the messages underscore what President Biden and his aides have articulated publicly,” the Washington Post reports.

A federal judge shot down MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s request to make the Justice Department return his phone, which it had seized at a Hardee’s last week.

Lindell claims that he does all his business on his cell phone because he doesn’t have a computer.

Jared Kushner told Fox News it was “very troubling” to see migrants “being used as political pawns.”  He added: “We have to remember these are human beings, they’re people.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “The US House of Representatives on Wednesday passed its updated version of the Electoral Count Act, the archaic and loophole-filled law governing how Congress certifies presidential elections. The Senate has yet to act on its own version, which is similar, but with 10 co-sponsors from each party, it appears to be well on its way to passage, and there’s every possibility that a reconciled bill will be signed into law later this year.”

“So much for the good news. The less good news is what the House passage of the bill — on close to a party-line vote, with only nine Republicans joining all Democrats — says about the state of the Republican Party. As it turns out, when it comes to defending democracy, so-called mainstream Republicans may not be so different from extremist Republicans.”

“Mitch McConnell opposed conviction in Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial. He may yet help clean up the mess of Jan. 6,” Politico reports.

“Things are playing out differently in the Senate GOP after only nine House Republicans — all of them retiring from Congress — supported updating a 19th-century law that Trump’s allies sought to manipulate to keep him in power. Even as House GOP leaders whipped against the post-Jan. 6 legislation this week, McConnell has encouraged his members to seek a deal with Democrats and is himself leaning toward backing the effort.”

“Protests spread across Iran on Monday over the death of a young woman in police custody who allegedly violated the country’s strict Islamic dress code, with women removing their state-mandated headscarves in the streets and police responding with force,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Authorities have periodically shut down the Internet in parts of the country… Iran’s government has often used that tactic to prevent protests from spreading.

“Elon Musk said his satellite-internet system Starlink would seek an exception to sanctions to make its service available in Iran, an apparent attempt to boost access to outside information in the country as protests spread,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Axios: “Voters in California, Michigan and Vermont have proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot next month that aim to protect abortion access.”

“Kentucky and Montana voters will face questions on further restricting abortion rights and conferring legal rights on fetuses.”

Former Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer lamented the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade in a CNN interview, saying he is “very, very, very sorry” about it.

Said Breyer: “Was I happy about it? Not for an instant. Did I do everything I could to persuade people? Of course, of course. But there we are and now we go on. We try to work together.”

He also condemned the leak of the draft opinion: “It was very damaging because that kind of thing just doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t happen. And there we are.”

“At least two more minors made pregnant by sexual assault were forced to leave Ohio to avoid having their rapists’ babies,” Ohio Capital Journal reports.

“The affidavits show that a Columbus 10-year-old was not the only child or teen rape victim forced to leave the state. They also describe more than two dozen other instances in which the abortion law put women under extreme duress.”

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) “is moving to force a vote on ending the yearslong national emergency declaration on Covid-19, pointing to recent comments by President Biden that the pandemic is over,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Said Marshall: “It was jaw-dropping. Here’s Joe Biden talking out of both sides of his mouth saying that the Covid pandemic is over with and yet he wants to continue these emergencies.”

“Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked legislation requiring disclosure of so-called ‘dark money’ in elections,” the HuffPost reports.

Washington Post: “Spending in election cycles by corporations and the ultrawealthy through so-called dark money groups has skyrocketed since the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. FEC, which allowed incorporated entities and labor unions to spend unlimited amounts of money to promote or attack candidates.”

“Matt DePerno and his closest allies repeatedly and publicly discussed examining voting tabulators last year and, on one occasion, the future Republican attorney general nominee described his team’s efforts as ‘a far more expansive operation than I can tell you about,’” the Detroit News reports. “The Detroit News reviewed more than 12 hours of recorded public comments made by DePerno and his associates that amplify allegations leveled by Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office that the GOP candidate played a key role in a tabulator tampering scheme.”

“House Republicans will roll out their four-part midterm agenda Friday with the blessing of a surprising group — Democrats, who see plenty there to campaign against,” Axios reports.

“After the agenda language was accidentally released ahead of the rollout, Dems seized on the GOP’s pledge to ‘protect the lives of unborn children and their mothers,’ as well as sections taking aim at Democrats’ much-heralded drug pricing law and proposing ballot access restrictions.”

Politico has all their slides.

“For two decades, campaign after campaign, Republican politicians have floated the idea of privatizing government entitlement programs including Social Security and Medicare. And campaign after campaign — from Paul Ryan to George W. Bush — it’s been a loser,” Politico reports.

“But for some reason, they keep trying. The latest is Don Bolduc, New Hampshire’s GOP Senate nominee, who advocated privatizing Medicare during a campaign town hall in early August.”

Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, a former Army reservist who was allegedly an out-and-proud neo-Nazi, was handed a four-year prison sentence on Thursday for attacking the Capitol on Jan. 6.

A speaker at one of Trump’s rallies used Hale-Cusanelli’s case as an example of the persecution the Jan. 6 defendants are supposedly suffering just because they violently smashed their way into the Capitol building to keep their leader in power after he lost an election.

This guy had tried to defend himself by claiming during one of his hearings that he didn’t know Congress met at the Capitol, and that the reason he didn’t know that was because he was from New Jersey (full quote: “I know this sounds idiotic, but I’m from New Jersey.”). Jersey TPM readers, did you, too, discover for the first time on Jan. 6 that members of Congress work in the Capitol?

“A Jan. 6 rioter who has dressed up as Adolf Hitler and held a security clearance is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court judge Thursday,” NBC News reports.

“Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, 32, of New Jersey, who was an Army reservist when he stormed the U.S. Capitol in January 2021, was convicted in May after he failed to convince jurors that he didn’t know that Congress met at the Capitol, a claim he made on the stand to avoid a conviction for obstruction of Congress.”

“Democrats’ improved but still slim prospects for keeping control of the House are further clouding the party’s opaque leadership succession plans,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“In interviews with more than two dozen lawmakers and aides, Democrats said they expect the party’s top three leaders to step aside if their party loses the majority in the midterm elections. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her lieutenants, all in their 80s, haven’t said whether they see it that way. While election analysts still favor Republicans to win the chamber this fall, a surprise victory by Democrats in November could upend all bets.”

A jury on Thursday ruled against Project Veritas, the conservative organization that carries out so-called “sting operations” to manufacture damning content about its political enemies, in a Democratic consultant firm’s lawsuit – but not before Project Veritas’ own lawyer asserted in his closing statement that his clients engaged in “deceit, deception and dishonesty,” as the New York Times put it.

And that’s a good thing, the lawyer argued, because that’s how Project Veritas “can speak truth to power.”

It was all part of Project Veritas’ journalistic mission, according to the attorney. The jury wasn’t buying it.

Project Veritas was ordered to pay $120,000 to the consultant firm, which had accused the organization of unlawful wiretapping and fraudulent misrepresentation as part of its spy operation in 2016.

Project Veritas still faces a federal investigation into its role in the Ashley Biden diary scandal. No charges have been filed against the group in that case.

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

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