Cup of Joe – October 8, 2022

“A top Justice Department official told former President Donald Trump’s lawyers in recent weeks that the department believes he has not returned all the documents he took when he left the White House,” the New York Times reports.

“The outreach from the official, Jay Bratt, who leads the department’s counterintelligence operations, is the most concrete indication yet that investigators remain skeptical that Mr. Trump has been fully cooperative in their efforts to recover documents the former president was supposed to have turned over to the National Archives at the end of his term.”

FBI agents found dozens of empty folders that were marked as holding sensitive materials when they raided Mar-a-Lago, the DOJ has reported.

“It is not clear what steps the Justice Department might take to retrieve any material it thinks Mr. Trump still holds.”

It’s almost like Trump is daring the Justice Department to charge him.

“Donald Trump is seeking to withhold from the Justice Department two folders marked as containing correspondence with the National Archives and signing sheets that the FBI seized from his Mar-a-Lago resort,” The Guardian reports.

“The former US president’s privilege assertions over the folders, which appear to have direct relevance to the criminal investigation into whether he retained national defense information and obstructed justice, are significant as they represent an effort to exclude the items from the inquiry and keep them confidential.”

“Federal investigators have asked multiple witnesses if they knew whether Donald Trump had stashed any highly sensitive government documents at Trump Tower in Manhattan or at his private club in Bedminster, New Jersey,” Rolling Stone reports.

“The FBI, according to these sources, had also asked in recent months whether the ex-president had a habit of transporting classified documents from his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago to the other Trump properties.”

“At the end of Donald Trump’s presidency, his team returned a large batch of classified FBI documents and other government records to the Justice Department in such disarray that a year later — in a letter to lawmakers — the department said it still couldn’t tell which of the documents were the classified ones,” ABC News reports.

“The documents came from the FBI’s controversial probe in 2016 looking at alleged links between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign. Trump tried to make the documents public the night before he left office, issuing a ‘declassification’ memo and secretly meeting with conservative writer John Solomon, who was allowed to review the documents.”

“But for reasons that are still not clear – and to the great frustration of Trump and his political allies – none of the documents were ever officially released.”

“Two days after news organizations called the 2020 election for Joe Biden, Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia, held a video meeting with his members to discuss bringing weapons to a Stop the Steal rally in Washington that month and to urge them to “fight” on behalf of President Donald J. Trump,” the New York Times reports.

“Listening to the meeting was Abdullah Rasheed, a Marine Corps veteran and a member of the far-right group from West Virginia. During testimony on Thursday at the trial of Mr. Rhodes and four of his subordinates, Mr. Rasheed told the jury that he was so disturbed by what he heard during the meeting that he recorded the conversation and ultimately called the F.B.I. to alert them about Mr. Rhodes.”

“A lieutenant of longtime former Proud Boys chairman Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio is set to become the group’s first member to plead guilty to seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, deepening the government’s case against an organization accused of mobilizing violence to prevent the inauguration of Joe Biden,” the Washington Post reports.

“A plea by Jeremy Bertino, 43, of Belmont, N.C., would give the Justice Department a potential key witness against Tarrio and four other Proud Boys leaders who are set to face trial in December on charges of plotting to oppose by force the presidential transition.”

“The Georgia prosecutor leading an investigation into efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election is aiming to quickly wrap up the grand jury’s work after the midterm elections and could begin issuing indictments as early as December,” CNN reports.

“Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has said that her investigation into attempts to subvert the 2020 election will go quiet beginning later this week to avoid any appearance of influencing the upcoming election. But while her investigation will not make any overt moves in the next few weeks, her team is gearing up for a flurry of activity after Election Day.”

The January 6 Committee will hold what could be its final hearing next week on October 13 at 1 p.m. ET.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) told Axios the hearing will “fill in some details that underscore the basic elements of the narrative that we’ve recounted before, but there are definitely some significant details that are being added.”

He added: “We ended up with a few extra days to incorporate new information.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) “has declared a state of emergency to help respond to the city’s migrant crisis, which he told reporters Friday will cost the city $1 billion this fiscal year,” CNN reports.

Said Adams: “We now have a situation where more people are arriving in New York City than we can immediately accommodate, including families with babies and young children. Once the asylum seekers from today’s buses are provided shelter, we would surpass the highest number of people in recorded history in our city’s shelter system.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) used loopholes in federal law to steer at least $1 billion in federal Covid funding meant for his state’s residents to fund his controversial efforts to deal with migrants at the border, The Nation reports.

The Uvalde, Texas, school district said Friday it has suspended its entire police force in the latest fallout from the Robb Elementary School shooting earlier this year, Axios reports.

President Joe Biden said Thursday that the risk of nuclear “Armageddon” is at the highest level since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, as Russian officials speak of the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons after suffering massive setbacks in the eight-month invasion of Ukraine, the AP reports.

According to Reuters, Biden said the U.S. was “trying to figure out” Vladimir Putin’s off-ramp. To that I say, listen to the Finnish Prime Minister:

Walter Russell Mead: “The Biden administration faces a terrible dilemma. To yield to Mr. Putin’s nuclear blackmail would be a cowardly act of appeasement from which Neville Chamberlain would recoil—and which would open the door to more nuclear blackmail. Yet to lead the Western alliance into an open-ended nuclear confrontation with Russia is to risk the most catastrophic of wars.”

“To avoid these unacceptable alternatives, the Biden administration must deter Mr. Putin from using nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict even as it continues to support Ukraine in its battle to drive the invaders back.”

“Deterrence is more complicated than it looks, and the Biden administration’s efforts to deter Russia have had little success.”

“A member of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle has voiced disagreement directly to the Russian president in recent weeks over his handling of the war in Ukraine,” the Washington Post reports.

“The criticism marks the clearest indication yet of turmoil within Russia’s leadership over the stewardship of a war that has gone disastrously wrong for Moscow, forcing Putin last month to order the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of troops in a desperate bid to reverse recent battlefield losses.”

“The information was deemed significant enough that it was included in President Biden’s daily intelligence briefing and shared with other U.S. officials.”

CNN: Morale is plummeting in Putin’s private army as Russia’s war in Ukraine falters.

Authorities on St. Lawrence Island in Alaska notified the Coast Guard that two Russian nationals had landed in a small boat in an attempt to escape Vladimir Putin’s military mobilization, KTUU reports.

“Federal agents investigating President Biden’s son Hunter have gathered what they believe is sufficient evidence to charge him with tax crimes and a false statement related to a gun purchase,” the Washington Post reports.

“The next step is for the U.S. Attorney in Delaware, a Trump administration holdover, to decide on whether to file such charges.”

“Given the intense political interest in a criminal probe involving the son of a sitting president, Attorney General Merrick Garland has made clear that the U.S. Attorney in Delaware, David Weiss, is supervising the case.”

“Prosecutors are holding off on a final decision on whether to bring a case against President Biden’s son, Hunter, while they review defense evidence in the long-running investigation,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Prosecutors from the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware, which has been leading the investigation, are struggling with whether certain facts, such as his well-documented drug addiction, would present a defense against a potential criminal tax case… Mr. Biden’s defense team met with Justice Department prosecutors in recent weeks, trying to counter the government’s potential case.”

“Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has received two major endorsements as his campaign prepares for a runoff election against far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro on October 30,” Deutsche Welle reports.

“Simone Tebet, the center-right candidate who came in third place during the first round with 4% of the vote, called on the 5 million people who voted for her to back Lula in the second round.”

“On the same day, former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who is still respected in business circles, announced he too would cast his vote for Lula.”

“While most national Republicans have been fretting over whether Dr. Mehmet Oz can rebound in Pennsylvania, or whether Herschel Walker will be tripped up by the ghosts of his past, Donald Trump has also been keeping tabs on the political future of Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and watching closely as Kim Jong-Un rattles the west,” Politico reports.

“The former president remains keenly invested in the midterm election cycle that is cresting back home. But his attention has been occupied by affairs overseas too.”

Mark Barabak: “Asked whether there was a feeling among San Francisco political insiders this will be Pelosi’s last campaign, one of them responded — after a promise of anonymity — with an ambivalent email: ‘Absolutely. Unless it’s not. But absolutely. Unless it’s not.’”

The President issued a sweeping pardon on Thursday to all Americans and permanent residents who were convicted on simple marijuana possession charges under the Controlled Substances Act.

More than 6,500 people have been charged with marijuana possession,  according to a Biden administration official. 

Biden has also directed Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to review marijuana’s current classification as a Schedule I drug under federal law. That classification puts weed on the same level as heroin.

Biden called on governors to similarly pardon state-level marijuana possession offenses.

The historic trend for pot legalization is kind of amazing.

The backdrop to President Biden pardoning all convicted of marijuana possession is that support for legalization is very, very high — and growing.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra retweeted President Biden’s 3 p.m. marijuana policy announcement at exactly 4:20 p.m.

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) will announce plans to resign from the Senate later today in order to accept a job at an academic institution, KFAB  reports. The Tampa Bay Times reports Sasse will become president of the University of Florida.

While Sen. Ben Sasse’s resignation will open what should be a safe Republican seat in 2024, there’s always a chance Republicans could nominate someone unelectable.

Omaha World Herald: “With Republican U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse seemingly ready to accept a big job in academia and resign his seat, one big question swirled through Nebraska politics Thursday.”

“Does Gov. Pete Ricketts want Sasse’s job?”

“And that fundamental question in turn leads to others: If so, would he consider appointing himself to the Senate?”

President Biden laced into Republicans on Friday for trying to enact policies that would make “every kitchen table cost” go up while lavishing tax cuts on big corporations, shedding his usual tone of bipartisanship a month ahead of the midterm elections, the New York Times reports.

“Last November, GOP Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota released a statement slamming the passage of the freshly approved infrastructure law he referred to as “‘President Biden’s multi-trillion dollar socialist wish list,’” CNN reports.

“Then in June, Emmer – the House Republican campaign chairman leading attacks on Democrats for supporting the law – quietly submitted a wish of his own.”

“Emmer’s plea is one of dozens obtained by CNN in response to a public records request.”

New York Times: “President Biden faces a dicey choice following the decision by the world’s oil giants to slash production just weeks before critical midterm elections that could turn on the price of gasoline: Should he stick with his policy of wooing Saudi Arabia or take measures to retaliate?”

Wall Street Journal: “OPEC’s decision to slash oil production has the U.S. considering responses that could include measures aimed at breaking the cartel’s hold on markets or limiting U.S. oil exports should shortages emerge.”

Said Biden: “There are a lot of alternatives, and we haven’t made up our minds yet.”

Job growth of 263,000 jobs in September beat expectations of 250k, but also were the lowest since April 2021 “as efforts by the Federal Reserve to slow inflation appeared to take their toll on hiring,” CNBC reports.

“The unemployment rate was 3.5%, down 0.2 percentage points as the labor force participation rate edged lower.”

Most of the National Rifle Association’s most highly rated Republicans are election truthers, according to this unsettling analysis by the Washington Post, which also notes:

“Many of the most fervent defenders of freely accessible firearms center their views on the idea that weapons are necessary to combat an oppressive federal government. If that government is perceived as also illegitimate, the risk of violence would seem necessarily to increase.”

In the face of Trump and Co.’s fury over Fox News calling Arizona for Biden on election night, Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott told her colleagues, “We can’t give the crazies an inch,” according to an attorney representing Dominion Voting Systems in its $1.6 billion defamation suit against the right-wing network.

Fox News executives tried to stop Fox Business anchors Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo from letting then-Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Krakenista Sidney Powell go on their shows to peddle the Big Lie, the lawyer said during a court hearing on Wednesday.

A lawyer for Fox didn’t dispute the Dominion attorney’s accounts.

“A majority of Republican nominees on the ballot this November for the House, Senate and key statewide offices — 299 in all — have denied or questioned the outcome of the last presidential election,” the Washington Post reports.

“Candidates who have challenged or refused to accept Joe Biden’s victory are running in every region of the country and in nearly every state. Republican voters in four states nominated election deniers in all federal and statewide races.”

“Election skeptics who are their state’s Republican nominees for secretary of state have outraised their Democratic rivals in two races viewed as competitive by political handicappers – in the key presidential battleground of Arizona and in Indiana,” CNN reports.

“Overall, Republican secretary of state nominees across the country who have denied the 2020 election results have raised more than $12 million in this election cycle – some with financial assistance from deep-pocketed GOP donors.”

Olivier Knox: Here comes the election-denier storm.

Tim Miller: “As it turned out, grass-roots fund-raising is also what ending democracy looks like. As with any other mass movement, people-powered campaigns followed the standard Hofferian trajectory: beginning as a cause, turning into a business and becoming a racket. Our online fund-raising system is not only enriching scam artists, clogging our inboxes and inflaming the electorate; it is also empowering our politics’ most nefarious actors.”

“It is how Donald Trump and his cast of clueless coupsters raised nine figures to ‘stop the steal’ that they had fabricated to try to stay in power. It is one way our most extreme candidates dominate the conversation and gain power in our political system. It has redirected money from politicians who work to find compromises that might just help people, diverting it instead to those who either have no chance to win or, worse yet, can win and want to undermine that work for their own ends. And it’s hard to imagine how we can stop it.”

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

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