Cup of Joe – December 27, 2022

The Washington Examiner highlights these key items from the final report of the January 6 Committee:

  • William Barr claimed that there was talk of seizing voting machines
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) secretly urged Barr to quash election “conspiracy theories.”
  • Former Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao told the committee about the tense conditions she left under, resigning in the days after the riot.
  • Barr, Chao, and Pompeo denied reports of talks about the 25th amendment.
  • Ivanka Trump said that Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) called her in the middle of the riot.

If you haven’t had time to read the 800+ pages of the January 6 Committee final report, Just Security has an excellent review of the highlights.

“The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection recommends barring former President Donald Trump from holding office again,” CNN reports.

“The recommendation is among the conclusions of the panel’s final report, a comprehensive overview of the bipartisan panel’s findings on how Trump and his allies sought to overturn the 2020 presidential election, released late Thursday evening.”

“Two days after pro-Donald Trump rioters attacked the Capitol, then-national security adviser Robert O’Brien got a call from Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell and an aide who asked him to look into something he’d been hearing: retired military personnel sympathetic to Donald Trump might be preparing to prevent Joe Biden’s inauguration,” Politico reports.

“O’Brien described this call in testimony to the Jan. 6 select committee during a newly revealed Aug. 23 interview.”

“In December 2020, after then-Attorney General William Barr publicly refuted President Donald Trump’s claims that the election was rigged, White House staffers drafted a press release that would’ve called for the firing of anyone who disagreed with Trump’s claims,” CNN reports.

“The draft statement – which was never sent out, and hadn’t been revealed before Friday – was brought up during the January 6 committee’s deposition of Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.”

Julie Fancelli, a daughter of the founder of the Publix grocery store chain, “was willing to shell out as much as $3 million to people and groups protesting congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory,” the Washington Post reports.

On Dec. 19, 2020, the day that then-President Donald Trump sent a tweet summoning his supporters to a “wild” protest in the nation’s capital on Jan. 6, one of the FBI’s own confidential sources warned the bureau that the far-right considered Trump’s message “a call to arms,” according to an email reviewed by NBC News.

David Remnick: “In his career as a New York real-estate shyster and tabloid denizen, then as the forty-fifth President of the United States, Trump has been the most transparent of public figures. He does little to conceal his most distinctive characteristics: his racism, misogyny, dishonesty, narcissism, incompetence, cruelty, instability, and corruption.”

“And yet what has kept Trump afloat for so long, what has helped him evade ruin and prosecution, is perhaps his most salient quality: he is shameless. That is the never-apologize-never-explain core of him. Trump is hardly the first dishonest President, the first incurious President, the first liar. But he is the most shameless. His contrition is impossible to conceive. He is insensible to disgrace…”

“Experience makes it plain that Trump will just keep going on like this, deflecting, denying, lashing out at his accusers, even if it means that he will end his days howling in a bare and echoing room. It matters little that the report shows that even members of his innermost circle, from his Attorney General to his daughter, know the depths of his vainglorious delusions. He will not repent. He will not change.”

“But the importance of the committee’s report has far less to do with the spectacle of Trump’s unravelling. Its importance resides in the establishment of a historical record, the depth of its evidence, the story it tells of a deliberate, coordinated assault on American democracy that could easily have ended with the kidnapping or assassination of senior elected officials, the emboldenment of extremist groups and militias, and, above all, a stolen election, a coup.”

“In July 2021, dozens of former clerks of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas gathered for a reunion at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, a casual weekend of horseback riding and panel lectures with spouses and children,” the Washington Post reports.

“Photos from the event show beaming former clerks with Thomas and his wife, Virginia, who goes by Ginni. In one image posted to social media, she offers the camera two thumbs up. To her left, smiling in a maroon polo shirt, is John Eastman, the architect of the legal strategy that former president Donald Trump had used six months earlier to try to overturn his 2020 election loss…”

“The Supreme Court justice and the lawyer who worked to help Trump try to overturn the election have a remarkable relationship that dates back more than three decades and that began years before Eastman served as Thomas’s clerk and before Thomas joined the bench.”

Ron Brownstein: “The committee zoomed in so tightly on the culpability of Trump and his inner circle that it largely cropped out the dozens of other state and federal Republican officials who supported or enabled the president’s multifaceted, months-long plot. The committee downplayed the involvement of the legion of local Republican officials who enlisted as fake electors and said almost nothing about the dozens of congressional Republicans who supported Trump’s efforts—even to the point, in one case, of urging him to declare “Marshall Law” to overturn the result.”

“With these choices, the committee likely increased the odds that Trump and his allies will face personal accountability—but diminished the prospect of a complete reckoning within the GOP.”

“That reality points to the larger question lingering over the committee’s final report: Would convicting Trump defang the threat to democracy that culminated on January 6, or does that require a much broader confrontation with all of the forces in extremist movements, and even the mainstream Republican coalition, that rallied behind Trump’s efforts?”

“A special grand jury investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and his allies illegally tried to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election in Georgia appears to be wrapping up its work, but many questions remain,” the AP reports.

“The grand jurors are expected to produce a final report with recommendations on potential further action. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, who’s supervising the panel, will review the report and recommend to the court’s chief judge that the special grand jury be dissolved. The judges of the county Superior Court will then vote on whether to let the special grand jurors go or whether more investigation is necessary.”

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), who just won reelection, told the Washington Post the Biden administration “has not executed a credible plan or presented even a credible plan on the border.”  For that reason, he opposes lifting Title 42.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called on President Biden to get his “ass” out of the White House and go to the U.S. southern border, Fox News reports.

Said Graham: “It is so unconscionable for him not to go to the border and listen to the agents and people trying to control the border, what life is like along the southern border. The fact that he doesn’t go shows to me that he’s disconnected and he does not give a damn.”

“John Durham, the special counsel investigating potential misconduct in the Trump-Russia probe, has spent nearly $6.5 million on his inquiry, including $2 million this year,” CNN reports.

“Durham’s yearslong investigation has fallen short of expectations. Though he has detailed some embarrassing faux pas in the origins of the investigation into ties between Russia and former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, the special counsel has not charged any current government officials with any crime.”

New York Magazine: “Since then, he has barely set foot outside the perimeter of Mar-a-Lago. For 28 days, in fact, he has not left the state of Florida at all.”

“He is sensitive about this. He does not like what it suggests. So he does not accept the premise. ‘Sometimes I don’t even stay at Mar-a-Lago,’ he told me. What do you mean you don’t stay there, I asked. Where do you stay? ‘I stay here,’ he said, ‘but I am outside of Mar-a-Lago quite a bit. I’m always largely outside of Mar-a-Lago at meetings and various other things and events. I’m down in Miami. I go to Miami, I go to different places in Florida.’”

“What he means when he says ‘Miami’ is that his SUV rolls down the driveway, past the pristine lawn set for croquet and through the Secret Service checkpoint at the gate, for the two-hour trip to another piece of Trump real estate, the Trump National in Doral, about eight miles from the airport in Miami-Dade County. There, he meets regularly with an impressive, ideologically diverse range of policy wonks, diplomats, and political theorists for conversations about the global economy and military conflicts and constitutional law and I’m kidding. He goes there to play golf.”

Said one adviser: “He just goes, plays golf, comes back, and fucks off. He has retreated to the golf course and to Mar-a-Lago. His world has gotten much smaller. His world is so, so small.”

“I think I’ve always been relevant. Like, I’ve been relevant from a very young age. I’ve been in the mix, to be honest.” – Donald Trump, quoted by New York magazine, on his need for attention.

Theodore Schleifer: “Among the many lingering mysteries of the Bankman-Fried saga is how exactly these effective altruist, S.B.F.-employed operatives were spending so much money on Democratic politics in the first place. Sure, operatives can stack their income with consulting work, but enough to donate $100,000-plus in one campaign cycle? That is indeed peculiar.”

“But, as several friends of the people in question have noted, effective altruists are, well, peculiar. They donate more money to charity than average people, and they donate more money to aligned politicians too. Like lobbyists, they are also professionally in the business of cultivating relationships. So if an effective-altruist operative was making $400,000 a year in salary as a strategist (for S.B.F. and other clients), could they set aside, say, 25 percent of that money for political donations?”

Meanwhile, Rolling Stone notes Democrats are scouring their books for donations linked to Bankman-Fried.

Washington Post: “No U.S. president has ever been charged with a crime, and experts say any classified-documents prosecution involving a former commander in chief would be more complicated and fraught than the average case. But they also say past cases illustrate the potential legal exposure facing Donald Trump, who is under investigation for keeping thousands of government papers, some highly sensitive and more than 300 marked classified, at his Florida residence and popular private club.”

“The criteria for prosecuting people who improperly handle classified documents are clear: Prosecutors must prove a person deliberately flouted rules for how to store the material securely, while knowing it was classified or secret national defense information. They do not need to establish evidence that the person tried to sell the classified material or shared it with others.”

Meanwhile, Punchbowl News reports special counsel Jack Smith has irked leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee by blocking access to information related to the probe of Trump’s handling of classified documents.

New York Times: “Gary Gensler… is pushing back on calls for new laws, arguing that existing S.E.C. rules and Supreme Court decisions suffice and that crypto issuers and exchanges simply need to come into compliance.”

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire businessman and media mogul, is interested in acquiring either Wall Street Journal parent company Dow Jones or The Washington Post, Axios reports.

Washington Post: “After nearly 10 months of war, but referring to the brutal invasion of Ukraine instead as ‘a special military operation,’ Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday finally called it a ‘war’ for the first time, setting off an uproar among antiwar Russians who have been prosecuted for merely challenging the Kremlin-approved euphemism.”

David Corn: “Trump’s refusal to follow tradition and release his tax returns was both a symbolic act of imperiousness and a sign of crookedness. Some of you might recall that, for years, I tweeted this message practically on a daily basis: ‘Today would be a good day for Donald Trump to release his tax returns.’ He had promised to do so before entering the presidential contest in 2015. Then he stubbornly resisted, using the phony excuse that he couldn’t because his tax returns were being audited.”

“This break with common practice was—or should have been—disturbing. It was a tell. It signaled that Trump could not be trusted to abide by the normal rules of politics and governance. This showed he viewed himself above it all.”

“Twitter removed a feature in the past few days that promoted suicide prevention hotlines and other safety resources to users looking up certain content, according to two people familiar with the matter who said it was ordered by new owner Elon Musk,” Reuters reports.

Politico: “The same groups that helped put Trump in office in 2016 are now keeping him at arm’s length, illustrating how the Supreme Court’s June ruling erasing federal abortion rights has created a new litmus test in Republican presidential politics. No longer is it sufficient for a candidate to identify as ‘pro-life,’ promise to defund Planned Parenthood or even to provide — as Trump did — a list of potential Supreme Court nominees who would vote to curtail abortion rights.”

“Anti-abortion advocates are insisting on more in a post-Roe era — namely, a hard commitment to back a federal abortion ban — and they’re holding out until they get it.”

Matteo Wong: “The field of artificial intelligence has advanced rapidly since the 2018 deepfake panic, and synthetic media is once again the center of attention. The technology buzzword of 2022 is generative AI: models that seem to display humanlike creativity, turning text prompts into astounding images or commanding English at the level of a mediocre undergraduate.”

“These and other advances have experts concerned that a deepfake apocalypse is still very much on the horizon. Fake video and audio might once again be poised to corrupt the most basic ways in which people process reality—or what’s left of it.”

Rep.-elect George Santos (R-NY) came clean to the New York Post on Monday, admitting that he lied on the campaign trail about his education and work experience — but insisting that the controversy won’t deter him from serving out his two-year term in Congress.

Said Santos: “I am not a criminal. This will not deter me from having good legislative success. I will be effective. I will be good.”

Santos confessed that he had “never worked directly” for Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, chalking that fib up to a “poor choice of words.”

He also admitted that he never graduated from any college, despite previously claiming to have received a degree from Baruch in 2010.

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

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