Cup of Joe – March 5, 2023

“Federal prosecutors investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election have asked witnesses extensive questions about the actions of Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for former president Donald Trump — including where he got his information about alleged fraud, what he did in the days around Jan. 6, 2021, and what he knew about the actions coming that day, people who have appeared in front of the grand jury say,” the Washington Post reports.

“Investigators looking into classified documents taken to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida home and private club, have sought to force testimony from another Trump lawyer, Evan Corcoran, by saying there is evidence that the former president used the attorney’s legal services in furtherance of a crime.”

“And prosecutors have repeatedly sought information on the actions of yet another Trump lawyer, Boris Epshteyn, in connection with both classified documents and Trump’s false electors scheme.”

Washington Post: “Smith’s pace appears to be quickening as the 2024 presidential election starts to take shape, with Trump once again a candidate and President Biden — Garland’s boss — poised to seek a second term. Trump so far has two declared Republican opponents. Legal experts say that if Smith brings criminal charges against Trump, those charges would likely be pending when the GOP primary debates begin in August…”

Said one lawyer involved in the probe: “Smith knows how a calendar works. This thing is going to be messy if he brings indictments, any way you cut it. But it’ll be particularly messy if you have trials going on in the middle of primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire.”

“A strange and volatile early stage of the 2024 presidential race has already begun, where investigations in Atlanta and Washington D.C. into former President Donald Trump are set to upstage his campaign rallies in Iowa and New Hampshire,” Vice News reports.

“Welcome to the prosecution primary, where Trump’s legal threats are moving faster than the political calendar.”

“The biggest action of the next few months won’t take place on the campaign trail, but in the hushed conference rooms of District Attorneys and the Department of Justice, where prosecutors will decide whether to indict the former president. Three separate groups of prosecutors are preparing to make charging determinations within the next few months, ahead of next year’s GOP primaries. Many independent legal experts now think Trump’s indictment looks like a matter of time—including some who were once highly skeptical Trump would ever be charged.”

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) ramped up his ongoing feud with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), using a speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference to tear into an “old Republican establishment” that Scott said had capitulated to Democrats for years, The Hill reports.

Said Scott: “It’s not just the Democrats in Washington who are destroying our country. You have heard the famous quote: ‘We have met the enemy and he is us’.”

He added: “Unfortunately, some of the leaders of our old Republican establishment have been in Washington way too long and forgotten why they came here. They’ve gotten used to caving in to the Democrats. They do it over and over and over. Instead of the Democrats compromising their liberal principles, they roll over, and compromise our conservative principles.”

“President Joe Biden’s decision Thursday on a local crime law is sending a national message to fellow Democrats about how he thinks they should address Republican criticism of the nation’s rising crime rates,” NBC News reports.

“Democrats have predominantly focused on police reform since the George Floyd protests reignited a national debate over race and law enforcement three years ago, but rising violent crime rates and growing perceptions of unease in major cities has prompted a chorus of party strategists and officials to call for a tougher approach to counter Republican attacks.”

Zachary Wolf: Why Biden flipped a 180 on DC’s ability to self-govern.

“Republicans have settled on their procedural weapon of choice for this Congress — and they have it trained squarely on Democrats anxious about their 2024 prospects,” the New York Times reports.

“Twice in the past week, Republicans scored wins and divided Democrats by employing an arcane maneuver known as a resolution of disapproval to take aim at policies that they oppose and see as political vulnerabilities for Democrats, using the measures to amplify their message.”

“The biggest victory came on Thursday, when President Biden told Senate Democrats that he would sign a Republican-led resolution blocking the District of Columbia’s new criminal code if it reached his desk. It was a reversal from his earlier opposition and a frank acknowledgment that Republicans had gotten the better of Democrats on the hot-button topic of violent crime.”

Alex Shepard: “For years, Democrats have walked a fine line with Fox News. The network has, unsurprisingly, been an antagonist for the party more or less since its inception—by the mid-’90s the cable news network had replaced Rush Limbaugh as the focal point of liberal scorn.”

“But even though the knocks on Fox were accurate—there was nothing fair and balanced about the network; its right-wing bias was clear and obvious; it and its hosts had it out for Democrats—the critics often came across as whiners. Moreover, Democrats still had to make regular appearances on Fox—at least the newsier parts of it—a fact that caused many to tamp down their criticism. As a result, for most of its existence, the ire directed at Fox was more focused at specific opinion hosts than at the network itself.”

“But the Dominion disclosures have forced Democrats’ hands in ways that the tidy status quo failed to provoke.”

“The top leaders in North Carolina’s legislature reached an agreement that is expected to expand Medicaid coverage. The momentous deal, announced Thursday, is the culmination of more than a decade of political wrangling and a Republican change of heart,” WRAL reports.

“The deal will allow North Carolina, at no cost to state government, to give health insurance to hundreds of thousands of the state’s working poor. The federal government will pay for 90% of the cost, and the rest will be covered by a new tax on hospitals and insurance companies.”

“Clinic by clinic, county by county and up to the highest levels of state government, no state embodies the nation’s post-Roe upheaval like North Carolina,” the New York Times reports.

“In the eight months since the federal right to abortion was eliminated, leaving states free to make their own abortion laws, North Carolina, where the procedure remains legal up to 20 weeks, has become a top destination for people from states where it is banned or severely restricted. North Carolina experienced a 37 percent jump in abortions.”

“The state’s abortion providers are under strain, with women sometimes having to wait a month for an appointment.”

“President Biden had a cancerous lesion removed from his chest during his physical last month, the president’s doctor said Friday,” the New York Times reports.

“The existence of the lesion was included in the summary of Mr. Biden’s physical at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in mid-February. On Friday, Dr. Kevin C. O’Connor, the president’s longtime physician, said a biopsy confirmed that it was basal cell carcinoma, a common and relatively unaggressive form of skin cancer.”

“The clash over the debt limit has entered its own version of the Phoney War — the early lull before major fighting commenced in Europe at the start of World War II,” Semafor reports.

“Republicans and Democrats are both dug in, satisfied for now to wait the other side out while lobbing the occasional rhetorical grenades from their respective foxholes.”

“After having helped President Joe Biden secure more than 100 judges, Democrats are hitting some turbulence in their push to reshape the courts,” NBC News reports.

“With absences causing delays, a custom for home state senators threatening to keep seats open and storm clouds gathering over some of Biden’s judicial picks, the next 100 will be tougher.”

“The Senate Judiciary Committee, which advances nominees for full Senate confirmation, is hindered by two major Democratic absences. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California was hospitalized ‘with a case of the shingles,’ prompting the committee to delay a scheduled Thursday meeting to advance judicial nominees; she said she hopes to return to Washington ‘later this month.’ And the absence of Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, who is getting help for clinical depression, forced Vice President Kamala Harris to break ties for judges this week.”

In leaked audio heard by the Guardian, “a manager for one of the US’s largest rail companies can be heard explaining to a former carman that they should stop tagging railcars for broken bearings.”

“The manager says doing so delays other cargo.”

Derek Thompson: “The elites got everything perfectly backwards; the lab-leak conspiracy theory was true, and the mask mandates were a fraud!”

“Well, not quite. The deeper you dig into the details of each case, the murkier the story becomes. In fact, the deeper you dig, the more you realize that murkiness is the story.”

Initial U.S. intelligence suggesting that China is considering supplying lethal aid to Russia for its war in Ukraine was gleaned from Russian government officials, NBC News reports.

“The Biden administration is preparing a new program that could prohibit U.S. investment in certain sectors in China, a new step to guard U.S. technology advantages during a growing competition between the world’s two largest economies,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Washington Post: “Veterans of her team have labeled this new period ‘Pelosi 3.0,’ after a career that saw a 15-year climb to the highest ranks of leadership, then two decades at the top, and now this next phase where she has begun to serve as something akin to roving ambassador for the Democratic Party.”

“She’s not in charge of anything, has no real responsibilities in the House other than casting votes (she declined to take any committee assignments), yet she maintains a level of influence that goes well beyond her rank-and-file status. Inside the Capitol, Pelosi has taken up a mentoring role: not to the trio of new leaders of the Democratic caucus but to the junior lawmakers who want to learn, particularly the few dozen freshmen Democrats who never served under her.”

“A network of political non-profits formed by judicial activist Leonard Leo moved at least $43 million to a new firm he is leading, raising questions about how his conservative legal movement is funded,” Politico reports.

“Leo’s own personal wealth appeared to have ballooned as his fundraising prowess accelerated since his efforts to cement the Supreme Court’s conservative majority helped to bring about its decision to overturn abortion rights. Most recently, Leo reaped a $1.6 billion windfall from a single donor in what is likely the biggest single political gift in U.S. history.”

Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI) “wants to stay in Washington longer than he previously said he would,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Grothman “indicated this week he would break a pledge he made during his first campaign for Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District to serve only five two-year terms in the House.”

Said Grothman: “I have only been here for — only two of my 10 years I’ve been here in which we had a majority with a Republican president. And I look forward to having that situation two years from today.”

Jonathan Capehart quit the Washington Post editorial board after a dispute over an editorial about 2024 politics, leaving the paper with an all-white editorial board, Axios reports.

Politico: “While the GOP once more actively pushed for changing both programs’ benefits, Trump has separated the party into two distinct camps… Both Republican camps and even some Democrats agree that Trump’s moves are politically effective. But some GOP members are angry to see their party freshly divided over fiscal austerity.”

“A California review board on Wednesday denied parole to Sirhan Sirhan, the Palestinian refugee serving a life sentence for assassinating U.S. presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy in 1968,” Reuters reports.

Philip Bump: “For the first time in American history, the mayors of the five largest cities in the country are not White men. Four — the mayors of the four largest cities — are Black. If Paul Vallas, a White man, wins the April runoff to replace Lori Lightfoot, that pattern will be broken.”

“Two US Air Force commanders and four of their subordinates at a key nuclear base in North Dakota were relieved of duty this week after their units failed an inspection designed to ensure that the nuclear weapons stockpile is safe and secure at all times,” CNN reports.

Page Six: “Kellyanne Conway, the longtime advisor to President Donald Trump, and George Conway, the longtime tormentor of President Trump, have decided to divorce after 22 years of marriage.”

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

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