Cup of Joe – October 23, 2022

The Washington Post reports that many of the documents retrieved from Trump’s personal residence at his villa and in public storage areas contained highly, highly classified documents about Iran’s ballistic missile program as well reports from programs aimed at intelligence programs about China. It’s hard to overstate just how sensitive and highly guarded these documents are.

The Post notes that “many of the more sensitive documents Trump or his aides apparently took to Mar-a-Lago after he left the White House are top-level analysis papers that do notcontain sources’ names.” But a foreign intelligence service can often infer based on the nature and findings of an intelligence effort who was talking or which vulnerabilities were being exploited.

An entirely separate but no less important question is what was Trump trying to accomplish by holding on to them? Though retaining them is just as illegal, there are some documents like the Kim Jong-un “love letters” which Trump may simply have had some personal attachment to. There’s no comparable rationale with the materials described in this article. Leverage is really the only or perhaps the most innocent explanation. People sometimes speculated he was going to sell this material. I doubt it. That’s dangerous and not even that lucrative. It’s one and done. But just having them in your possession confers power and advantage.

“The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack issued a subpoena on Friday to Donald Trump, taking its most aggressive step yet and paving the way for a potentially historic court fight over whether a former president can be compelled to answer questions before a legislative panel looking into matters related to a continuing criminal investigation,” the New York Times reports.

“The subpoena drastically escalated the stakes of what was already the most consequential congressional investigation in decades. Coming weeks before the midterm elections, the subpoena threatened to thrust Mr. Trump and the Jan. 6 committee into a protracted legal battle that could ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.”

“The subpoena to Mr. Trump requires him to turn over documents by Nov. 4 and to appear for a deposition on Nov. 14.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Friday asked the Supreme Court to shield him from testifying in an investigation into former President Trump’s alleged interference in the 2020 election in Georgia, The Hill reports.

CNN: “The emergency request was filed with Justice Clarence Thomas, who oversees the 11th Circuit. Thomas is likely to refer the matter to the full court.”

Eric Herschmann, a senior Trump White House lawyer, “expressed concerns to President Trump’s advisers and attorneys about the president signing a sworn court statement verifying inaccurate evidence of voter fraud,” Axios reports.

“The emails shed new light on a federal judge’s explosive finding Wednesday that Trump knew specific instances of voter fraud in Georgia had been debunked, but continued to tout them both in public and under oath.”

“A federal appeals court has turned down former Arizona GOP senate candidate Kelli Ward’s attempt to block a House committee subpoena for her phone records in connection with an investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol building and other events related to the 2020 presidential election,” Politico reports.

New York Times: “In the most basic sense, any legal arguments seeking to get Mr. Trump off the hook would merely need to be weighty enough to produce two and a half months of litigation. If Republicans pick up enough seats in the midterm elections to take over the House in January, as polls suggest is likely, they are virtually certain to shut down the Jan. 6 committee, a move that would invalidate the subpoena.”

“The issues raised by the extraordinary subpoena, which the panel announced at a hearing last week, are too complex to be definitively resolved before a potential change of power in the House.”

“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to break from his House counterpart on Friday, calling on the Biden administration to expedite military aid to Ukraine and vowing that Senate Republicans will work to ensure ‘timely delivery of needed weapons,’” Politico reports.

“McConnell’s remarks come after House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested a GOP-controlled House might slow or halt aid to the besieged U.S. ally, citing domestic challenges like the economy and the U.S.-Mexico border.”

“For months, Western diplomats and foreign policy experts have worried that Europe’s support for Ukraine might falter as winter arrives and fuel shortages leave people freezing in their homes,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“But as Republicans’ polling numbers improve ahead of next month’s midterm elections, even the United States’ continued assistance for the embattled Ukrainians is suddenly in doubt.”

Washington Post: J.D. Vance faces backlash in Ukrainian community over war stance.

“President Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader in decades, increased his dominance Sunday when he was named to another term as head of the ruling Communist Party in a break with tradition and promoted allies who support his vision of tighter control over society and the struggling economy,” the AP reports.

“Xi, who took power in 2012, was awarded a third five-year term as general secretary, discarding a custom under which his predecessor left after 10 years. The 69-year-old leader is expected by some to try to stay in power for life.”

“The party also named a seven-member Standing Committee, its inner circle of power, dominated by Xi allies after Premier Li Keqiang, the No. 2 leader and an advocate of market-style reform and private enterprise, was dropped from the leadership Saturday. That was despite Li being a year younger than the party’s informal retirement age of 68.”

Axios: “With Xi as China’s unchallenged leader for another five-year term, Beijing is likely to continue its current trajectory of confrontation with the West.”

“China’s former top leader, Hu Jintao, was unexpectedly led out of Saturday’s closing ceremony of the Communist Party Congress, in a moment of drama during what is typically a highly choreographed event,” CNN reports.

“Hu, 79, was seated in a prominent position at the front table in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, directly next to his successor, current leader Xi Jinping, when he was approached by a staff member, video of the meeting shows.”

“Hu then appeared to rise after being lifted up by the staff member, who’d taken the former leader by the arm, while Kong Shaoxun, head of the party’s secretariat came over. Hu spoke with the two men briefly and initially appeared reluctant to leave.”

Foreign Policy: What the hell just happened to Hu Jintao?

Former UK chancellor Rishi Sunak is poised to formally enter the race to become Britain’s next prime minister after securing public backing from the 100 Tory MPs needed to enter the ballot, the Financial Times reports.

By 7pm on Saturday Boris Johnson, who has only just returned to Britain from a holiday in the Dominican Republic, had around 50 publicly declared backers.

The Guardian says Sunak has the support of 126 Tory MPs.

Times of London: Tory right spurns Boris Johnson as support for Rishi Sunak surges.

“Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson landed back in Britain on Saturday morning, ahead of a possible tilt at reclaiming his former job,” the AP reports.

“Johnson was ousted by a series of ethics scandals just three months ago, but boarded a flight back to London from his vacation in the Dominican Republic, days after the dramatic resignation of his successor, Liz Truss.”

“Johnson has not officially said he is running but some allies in the parliamentary party have been loudly calling for his return. Tory lawmakers wishing to enter the race must secure the backing of 100 of their colleagues by 2 p.m. on Monday.”

Politico: Boris Johnson vs Rishi Sunak: The mother of all leadership battles.

Edward Luce: “The idea that Conservative members of parliament will agree on a ‘unity candidate’ to replace Liz Truss by the end of next week is thus miracle talk.”

“There are lots of volunteers queueing up for decapitation at the Downing Street guillotine. Whoever is next to be voted on to the tumbril will have one advantage over their predecessors, of which this latest would be the fifth in six years; they would begin in the expectation of failure. It is always good to start on low expectations but in this case they are likely to be borne out.”

Andrew Sullivan: “There is political churn all over the world right now. A once-in-a-century plague, a hot war in Europe, massive public debt, and a huge global spike in inflation, will do that kind of thing. In Italy, a new government is now headed by the one figure, Giorgia Meloni, who was not part of the previous government; in France, President Macron has just used an emergency provision to get his budget past the parliament, and is facing a wave of strikes; and in Britain, of course, a party that won a triumphant, landslide 80-seat majority less than three years ago is now on life support.”

“But it’s the British case that’s the most telling for America, it seems to me, because it helps answer the question as to where the Anglo-American right is now going. And the answer, I’m sorry to say, looks like some version of incoherent chaos.”

A rather amazing column by the Post’s Dana Milbank about the situation in Nevada outside of Las Vegas. All the Big Lie stuff you’d imagine. But just a complete gutting of the officials who’ve administered elections for decades and replacing them with conspiracy theorists who at best simply have no experience administering elections. In other words, chaos by design if not always strictly by intention which further makes elections into a circus and gives GOP officials their opening to simply step in and declare winners because the elections have been too chaotic.

Dana Milbank: “Conspiracy-minded county commissioners might refuse to certify the results… This raises the likelihood that the state legislature could step in and throw out the results in any contested state election, from Assembly up to governor, and install the candidate of their choice — something that is allowed under Nevada law.”

“Days after Maricopa County officials warned people to stop taking photos of voters and election staffers at ballot drop boxes, the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office continues to refer complaints to the Department of Justice,” the Arizona Republic reports.

“Two new complaints filed this week with the office allege that small groups of people are filming voters and capturing photographs of their license plates as they drop off their early ballots.”

“State elections officials directed more than 30,000 Northern Virginia voters to the wrong polling place in mailers sent ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections, an error they acknowledged Friday and blamed on the private printing company that produced the notices,” the Washington Post reports.

“Those mistakes follow even more error-riddled effort in Southwest Virginia, where an additional 30,000 voters were affected.”

“Republican activists who believe the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump have crafted a plan that, in their telling, will thwart cheating in this year’s midterm elections,” the AP reports.

“The strategy: Vote in person on Election Day or — for voters who receive a mailed ballot — hold onto it and hand it in at a polling place or election office on Nov. 8.”

“The plan is based on unfounded conspiracy theories that fraudsters will manipulate voting systems to rig results for Democrats once they have seen how many Republican votes have been returned early. There has been no evidence of any such widespread fraud.”

Wait, that’s the same strategy they used in 2020, vote on election day and not by mail, and they lost. Why do they think it will work this time?

“Republican candidates for governor and secretary of state who have echoed former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was rife with fraud have proposed changes in voting access and election certification that could have ramifications in key states in the next presidential election,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Seven Republicans running for those offices in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona, Michigan and Nevada—all presidential battlegrounds—haven’t all detailed how they would oversee the 2024 election but have publicly touted measures they say would ensure election integrity, as they question the outcome of the 2020 race.”

CNN: A guide to the election deniers running in the 2022 midterms.

“A U.S. appeals court on Friday temporarily blocked President Joe Biden’s plan to cancel billions of dollars in college student loans, one day after a judge dismissed a Republican-led lawsuit by six states challenging the debt-forgiveness program,” Reuters reports.

President Biden said 22 million people have registered for student loan relief since applications opened on Monday, CNBC reports.

Said Biden: “Folks, it takes less than five minutes. The vast majority are applying on their phones. It’s easy.”

Washington Post: “Growing up in the 1930s, Daniel Smith would listen to stories from his father, as young boys often do. He was not supposed to hear these stories — they were meant for his older siblings, not for a child as young as 5 or 6 — but after dinner on Saturday evenings he would sneak out of bed and listen to accounts of the ‘whipping and crying post,’ of the lynching tree and the wagon wheel.”

“These were brutally vivid stories of bondage, for his father had been born into slavery in Virginia during the Civil War and had toiled as a child laborer before making his way north to Connecticut, where the Smiths were among the only African Americans in their town.”

“Mr. Smith, who was 90 when he died Oct. 19 at a hospital in Washington, was one of the last remaining children of enslaved Black Americans, and a rare direct link to slavery in the United States.”

A good reminder that slavery was not that long ago.

“A Florida man had his election fraud charges dismissed on Friday, making him the first of 20 people who Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced had been charged with voter fraud in August, to beat his case,” ABC News reports.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) office was aware of the flight of migrants from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard before takeoff last month, KSAT reports.

His office has denied any involvement with that flight. However, text messages released by Abbott’s office in response to a public information request show otherwise.

“Oil and gas industry lobbyists, anticipating that Republicans could take control of the House in the midterm elections, are already working behind the scenes on Capitol Hill to push back against what they consider the Biden administration’s anti-fossil-fuel agenda,” the New York Times reports.

“There is almost glee in their voices when they discuss the possibility of helping draft questions for Biden administration officials, like Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who if Republicans take control will be called to testify more frequently, and aggressively, in oversight hearings.”

“Twitter’s workforce is likely to be hit with massive cuts in the coming months, no matter who owns the company, a change likely to have major impact on its ability to control harmful content and prevent data security crises,” the Washington Post reports.

“Musk told prospective investors in his deal to buy the company that he planned to get rid of nearly 75 percent of Twitter’s 7,500 workers, whittling the company down to a skeleton staff of just over 2,000.”

The right-wing channel Newsmax has banned Lara Logan from its air after she went on a QAnon-style rant during an appearance on the network this week, CNN reports.

In a bizarre interview, Logan told host Eric Bolling that “the open border is Satan’s way of taking control of the world,” and later added that the world’s elites “want us eating insects [and] cockroaches” while they “dine on the blood of children.”

“Biden administration officials are discussing whether the US should subject some of Elon Musk’s ventures to national security reviews, including the deal for Twitter Inc. and SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network,” Bloomberg reports.

“US officials have grown uncomfortable over Musk’s recent threat to stop supplying the Starlink satellite service to Ukraine… and what they see as his increasingly Russia-friendly stance following a series of tweets that outlined peace proposals favorable to President Vladimir Putin. They are also concerned by his plans to buy Twitter with a group of foreign investors.”

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

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