Cup of Joe – December 20, 2022

The January 6 Committee unanimously referred four criminal charges to the Department of Justice against former President Donald Trump:

  • Obstruction of an official proceeding.
  • Conspiracy to defraud the United States.
  • Conspiracy to make a false statement.
  • Assisting, aiding or comforting an insurrection.

Referrals are also made against attorney John Eastman for the first two charges.

Referrals are also made against four Republican congressman — Kevin McCarthy, Jim Jordan, Scot Perry and Andy Biggs — for sanctions by the House Ethics Committee for denying subpoenas.

Playbook looks at some of the still unanswered questions about the final report.

Kyle Cheney: “There’s going to be a lot of stupid commentary today. The referrals aren’t the big story. DOJ doesn’t care about the prosecutorial judgment of 9 members of Congress. They care about evidence — some of which you will see today, much of which you won’t.”

“After more than five years of dramatic headlines about controversies, scandals and potential crimes surrounding former President Donald Trump, the coming week will be among the most consequential,” the New York Times reports.

“On Monday, the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol by Mr. Trump’s supporters will hold what is almost certainly its final public meeting before it is disbanded when Republicans take over the majority in the new year.”

“The committee’s members are expected to debate criminal referrals to the Justice Department in connection with the riot and Mr. Trump’s efforts to cling to power, which culminated on Jan. 6 as the pro-Trump mob tried to thwart the certification of his successor’s 2020 electoral victory. The biggest topic is whether to recommend that Mr. Trump face criminal charges.”

Washington Post: January 6 Committee to put Trump in its crosshairs.

The New York Times is out with an incredible expose on an incoming GOP member of Congress, Rep-elect George Santos (R-NY) from Long Island who does not at all appear to be who he says he is. Let’s start with his work history. NYT could find no record of him actually holding claimed jobs at Citigroup or Goldman Sachs. Education? No record of him attending Baruch College in NYC as he has claimed, the NYT reported.

A tax-exempt charity he claimed to have started? No record of it having registered in New York or New Jersey, and the IRS had no record of it, the paper found. A supposed beneficiary of a 2017 fundraiser for the group, who declined to be named by the paper, said she never received any of the funds, only excuses from Santos.

The kicker is criminal charges for check fraud in Brazil!

There’s much more. It’s worth a read.

New York Times: “His campaign biography amplified his storybook journey: He is the son of Brazilian immigrants, and the first openly gay Republican to win a House seat as a non-incumbent. By his account, he catapulted himself from a New York City public college to become a ‘seasoned Wall Street financier and investor’ with a family-owned real estate portfolio of 13 properties and an animal rescue charity that saved more than 2,500 dogs and cats.”

“But a New York Times review of public documents and court filings from the United States and Brazil, as well as various attempts to verify claims that Mr. Santos, 34, made on the campaign trail, calls into question key parts of the résumé that he sold to voters.”

“Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, the marquee Wall Street firms on Mr. Santos’s campaign biography, told The Times they had no record of his ever working there. Officials at Baruch College, which Mr. Santos has said he graduated from in 2010, could find no record of anyone matching his name and date of birth graduating that year.”

“A majority of Twitter users said Elon Musk should step down as chief of the company in a poll the billionaire pledged to follow, casting new uncertainty on the social-media platform after more than seven weeks of turmoil since he took it over,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“More than 17 million users had voted by the time the poll on the platform closed after 6 a.m. ET, with 57.5% saying he should leave as head of the company he bought in October for $44 billion.”

Axios: “His potential resignation as the head of Twitter could end one of the most chaotic and controversial tenures ever for a CEO of a major U.S. company.”

New York Times: “Elon Musk’s chaotic tenure running Twitter has already drawn scrutiny from an array of international government officials, who have professed concern about his changes to content moderation, including the suspension of several journalists, and new restrictions on promoting rival social networks.”

“Now, DealBook is first to report, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, is taking aim at an issue with more serious potential legal consequences: whether Mr. Musk has created a series of conflicts of interest with and misappropriation of resources from Tesla, the electric carmaker he also runs.”

As you’ll recall, Warren has already shredded a billionaire.

“Elon Musk and allies are building a new anti-left media ecosystem almost overnight,” Axios reports.

“It’s as if the New York Times editorial page suddenly flipped to the right. With the reins in Musk’s hands, the right is gaining power in online spaces the left once dominated.”

The Washington Post reports that high-profile Republicans gained tens of thousands of followers in the weeks after Musk acquired Twitter, while their Democratic counterparts lost followers.

“House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is pivoting to more aggressive tactics to buoy his bid for speaker — beginning with 54 defiant ‘Kevin Only’ statements of unqualified support,” Axios reports.

“Some of them say they’re a hard ‘no’ on anyone besides McCarthy — and won’t vote for anyone else on the first ballot or the 100th ballot.”

Meanwhile, Punchbowl News reports that incoming Republican committee leaders who already have their chairs locked up are releasing a letter today backing McCarthy for speaker.

“Kevin basically is whatever you want him to be. He lies. He’ll change the lie if necessary. How can anyone trust his word?”— Former Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA), quoted by the New Yorker, on Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

Washington Post: “From almost the instant it became clear he had lost the 2020 election, Trump refused to accept the results, creating a disorganized transition process during which he rebuffed efforts to prepare for his post-presidency.”

“In the two years since he left office, Trump has re-created the conditions of his own freewheeling White House — with all of its chaos, norm flouting and catering to his ego — with little regard for the law. With this behavior, Trump prompted a criminal investigation into his post-presidential handling of classified documents to compound the ongoing one into his and his allies’ efforts to overturn the 2020 election results — which presents potential legal peril and risks hobbling his nascent bid to be elected president again in 2024.”

“Even as he works to convince supporters that the documents probe is the result of an overblown paperwork dispute, and that the FBI’s Aug. 8 search of his Mar-a-Lago Club was an abuse of power, the investigation is in fact a product of how Trump has approached post-presidential life.”

Donald Trump is often accompanied on his golf outings by a staffer who shows him “uplifting” news stories, the Washington Post reports.

Former One America News host Natalie Harp rides alongside Trump in a golf cart fitted with a “laptop and sometimes a printer” to show him the positive coverage while he plays.

Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC) denied to a local paper having any substantive communications with Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows about overturning the 2020 election.

Rep. Murphy sent Meadows a couple of texts with another version of the state legislature strategy . … Murphy’s text was largely copied and pasted from a Revolver article that claimed “The Vote Has Been Hopelessly Contaminated. Republican State Legislatures Must Now Move to Appoint Pro-Trump Electors.”

“Why are we not pursuing this strategy?” Murphy asked before sharing text from the Revolver article, and adding, “Please pay close attention to the very last paragraph.”

Here’s how Murphy spun it to the local paper: “It is literally a copy-and-paste from something someone sent me with a formal legal opinion to pass on to Mark Meadows because I had his contact information,” he said. “This is what was sent to me to pass on. I was the messenger in this.”

The impact of the Meadows Texts series continued to ripple outward:

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, described Rep. Ralph Norman’s call for “Marshall Law” as “obscene” and “unprecedented.”

In an open letter, a bipartisan group of more than 30 former congresspersons called for ethics investigations of members of the House who played a role in the events leading up to and including the Jan. 6 attack.

Aaron Rupar’s Public Notice: “Hunter Walker on Mark Meadows’s texts and what he expects from the final J6 report”

Alexandra Petri: “Help us, auto-correct. You are the last best hop for democracy.”

Todd Zwillich: “The texts show various levels of cheerleading, crackpottery, magical thinking, and authoritarian planning on the part of nearly three dozen GOP lawmakers in Meadows’ contacts. The vast majority of them—Norman, Greene, Rep. Scott Perry (who I’m betting you’ll be hearing a lot about on Monday—are all returning to Congress, ready to take power in January and wielding muscular influence over GOP leaders. Those leaders have already promised to do all they can to distort and erase the truth of Jan. 6 from the national memory.”

Francis Wilkinson: “The texts show a group effort, by people who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, to locate American democracy’s weak points and exploit them to overthrow a democratically elected government.”

The Meadville Tribune: “Text messages from three Republican congressmen from Pennsylvania are among a trove of texts exchanged with former President Donald Trump’s last White House chief of staff concerning attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, according to a report from online news outlet Talking Points Memo.”

Sid Schwab: “Reading the TPM series, there’s no denying the seditious depth of their intentions; their undisguised disregard for democratic processes; their willingness to turn to violence and totalitarianism. Perhaps surprising to people less intent on observation is the amount of paranoid, conspiratorial, uninformed insanity of those people. Elected people. Reelected; not, presumably, in spite of their derision of democracy, but because of it.”

Daily Mail: “Dmitry Zelenov, a real estate tycoon, died on December 9 in the French Riviera town of Antibes.”

“The oligarch, 50, was out to dinner with some friends when he began feeling unwell and tumbled down a flight of stairs, sustaining serious head injuries, according to Russian news outlet Baza and local French outlet Var Matin.”

New audio files obtained by CBS News “reveal how a congressional investigator pushed retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser to former President Donald Trump, to testify about his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and questioned Flynn about whether he pressured military and intelligence officials to assist him with that endeavor.”

“The committee’s line of inquiry in the Flynn deposition appears to seek specificity about the extent to which Flynn sought out officials, as well as the motivation of any outreach, details on any recommendations he made or documents he circulated, and whether he was paid or acting at the behest of Trump or others.”

“Volatile energy markets have made 2022 a big year for commodity traders. One of the biggest and perhaps most  unlikely winners: The U.S. government,” the Wall Street Journal reports.“Emergency releases from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve are slated to end this month, concluding an unusual attempt to lower gas prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent oil prices soaring.”

“Over the release period, Washington sold 180 million barrels of crude at an average of $96.25 apiece, well above the recent market price of $74.29—meaning the U.S., for now, is almost $4 billion ahead.”

Bloomberg: “The Biden administration is making good on a plan to replenish the nation’s emergency oil reserves, starting with a 3 million barrel purchase of crude. … In addition, the DOE is planning a roughly 2 million barrel crude oil exchange to meet emergency supply needs caused by the shutdown of TC Energy Corp.’s Keystone pipeline.”

“With Title 42 set to expire Wednesday, the Biden administration is narrowing in on a plan that would combine Trump-era limits on asylum claims at the border with a new system for asylum seekers to apply to enter the U.S. legally,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Associated Press: “Biden is condemning growing antisemitism in remarks for a Hanukkah reception at the White House that will include a menorah lighting and blessing. The Democratic president will tell guests at the Monday night event that silence is complicity, according to White House officials, and will add that it’s imperative that hate, violence and antisemitism are condemned.”

Foreign Policy: “U.S. diplomats organized a plan to help smuggle Chad’s pro-democracy opposition leader out of the country as security forces from Chad’s transitional president hunted him down in a wave of deadly crackdowns against protesters in October.”

The kicker: “As U.S. officials in Chad were scrambling to find a way to help Masra escape and witnessing some pro-democracy protesters be slaughtered at the gates of the U.S. Embassy, other officials in Washington were preparing an invitation to fete the very man who orchestrated this bloody crackdown at a major summit.”

NBC News: “The White House held a series of closed-door meetings Thursday, from which Democratic strategists and activists came out with an emphatic message: Go out and sell the president’s record.”

“In the latest sign that President Joe Biden is preparing to mount a re-election campaign, a battery of senior White House officials delivered presentations on Biden’s tenure and gave briefings on the economy, climate change and the way forward.”

“The political crisis roiling Peru deepened Saturday, as President Dina Boluarte’s new government edged toward collapse and protesters across the country refused to back down despite the military enforcing a state of emergency,” the Washington Post reports.

“A total of 20 demonstrators are reported to have been killed in clashes with security forces, including eight allegedly shot Thursday by soldiers using live ammunition in the southern mountain region of Ayacucho.”

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

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