Cup of Joe – March 11, 2023

“U.S. hiring grew solidly but cooled some in February as employers added 311,000 jobs, while unemployment rose to 3.6%,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“A hot job market has emerged as one of the biggest economic surprises among many twists since the Covid-19 pandemic hit three years ago. With the Federal Reserve aggressively raising interest rates to tame inflation, many economists had expected job gains would cool or even turn into losses by now.”

“The Manhattan district attorney’s office recently signaled to Donald Trump’s lawyers that he could face criminal charges for his role in the payment of hush money to a porn star, the strongest indication yet that prosecutors are nearing an indictment of the former president,” the New York Times reports.

“The prosecutors offered Mr. Trump the chance to testify next week before the grand jury that has been hearing evidence in the potential case, the people said. Such offers almost always indicate an indictment is close; it would be unusual for the district attorney, Alvin Bragg, to notify a potential defendant without ultimately seeking charges against him.”

“Any case would mark the first indictment of a former American president, and could upend the 2024 presidential race.”

Donald Trump released a defiant video response to news that he may soon be indicted by a Manhattan grand jury.

In the rambling statement, Trump again insults the appearance of Stormy Daniels and denies he had an affair with her.

Associated Press: “Trump attorney Joseph Tacopina confirmed Thursday that the Manhattan district attorney’s office has invited the former president to testify next week as prosecutors near a decision on whether to proceed with what could be the first criminal case ever brought against a former U.S. president.”

Said Tacopina: “It’s just another example of them weaponizing the justice system against him. And it’s sort of unfair.”

Playbook: “It remains unclear whether an indictment would actually hurt Trump in a primary. After years of sowing doubt and disinformation about any institution that investigated or stood against him, it is possible that any charges could have something of a ‘rally around the flag’ effect with his core supporters.”

“Elon Musk is planning to build his own town on part of thousands of acres of newly purchased pasture and farmland outside the Texas capital, according to deeds and other land records and people familiar with the project,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“In meetings with landowners and real-estate agents, Mr. Musk and employees of his companies have described his vision as a sort of Texas utopia along the Colorado River, where his employees could live and work.”

“President Joe Biden is asking Congress for more than $2.8 billion in the federal budget he’s sending to Capitol Hill on Thursday to help advance his cancer-fighting goals,” the AP reports.

“Biden aims to help close gaps in cancer screenings, better understand and address environmental and toxic exposures associated with certain cancers, and reduce the effects of preventable cancers, such as those linked to tobacco and poor nutrition. The initiative also spends money on cutting-edge research and resources to support patients and their caregivers.”

New York Times: “After two years championing some of his party’s top progressive priorities, the president lately is speaking more to the concerns of the political middle, seeking to recapture the more centrist identity that long defined him.”

“Not only is he increasingly focused on deficit reduction, Mr. Biden last week abandoned fellow Democrats by rejecting a new District of Columbia measure reducing mandatory minimum sentences for some violent offenses, rather than be tagged as soft on crime. And more and more, his administration is turning toward tougher policies to stem a near-record-high tide of illegal immigration, including possibly reviving the practice of detaining migrant families who cross the southwestern border illegally.”

Speaker Kevin McCarthy slammed President Biden’s newly proposed budget and complained it should have been presented “more than a month ago” – but he declined to say when Republicans would present a counter-proposal, Spectrum News reports.

“Nikki Haley is calling for changing the retirement age for Americans currently in their 20s and limiting Social Security and Medicare benefits for wealthier Americans, staking out a position on the politically controversial issue of entitlement reform that’s already been the subject of attacks from former President Donald Trump,” CNN reports.

New York Times: “An analysis of House and Senate voting records, and of fiscal estimates of legislation prepared by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, shows that Republicans bear at least equal blame as Democrats for the biggest drivers of federal debt growth that passed Congress over the last two presidential administrations.”

“Nearly three-quarters of that new debt was approved in bills that gained the support of a majority of Republicans in at least one chamber of Congress. Three-fifths of it was signed into law by Mr. Trump.”

Variety: “For the past year, Volodymyr Zelensky has been greeted with open arms by awards shows, film festivals and even the New York Stock Exchange. But when it comes to landing airtime on the most coveted telecast of all — the Oscars — the Ukrainian leader is being met with a cold shoulder.”

“For the second year in a row, the Academy has snubbed Zelensky, who was hoping to follow up his Berlin Film Festival (remote) appearance last month with a virtual spot on Sunday’s Oscar telecast on ABC.”

“Putin would have never done it. That’s without even negotiating a deal. I could have negotiated. At worst, I could’ve made a deal to take over something, there are certain areas that are Russian-speaking areas, frankly, but you could’ve worked a deal.” — Donald Trump, in an interview with Sean Hannity, saying he would have given parts of Ukraine to Russia.

“Belarus’ authoritarian president on Thursday signed a bill introducing capital punishment for state officials and military personnel convicted of high treason,” the AP reports.

“Soon after the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Fox Corp. explored acquiring rights to The Apprentice, the competition show that Donald Trump hosted on NBC before he became president,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Politico: “Weeks before the 2020 election, a secret 87-page document outlined in matter-of-fact language the threat posed by Donald Trump’s still-to-come campaign of election denial.”

“The private paper — the existence of which has not been reported before — forecast with chilling confidence the likelihood of violence during the presidential handover and proposed a far-reaching set of political reforms to thwart Trumpism in the future.”

“Jenna Ellis was censured by a disciplinary judge in Colorado Wednesday, in the latest effort to hold accountable attorneys who boosted former President Donald Trump’s 2020 election reversal gambits,” CNN reports.

“Ellis signed a stipulation stating that several comments she made about the 2020 election violated professional ethics rules barring reckless, knowing or intentional misrepresentations by attorneys.”

“Republicans on the House Oversight Committee said Wednesday they are planning a visit with some defendants who are being held in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol,” ABC News reports.

Former Trump National Security Advisor and retired US. Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn is suing the U.S. government on grounds of wrongful prosecution, Rolling Stone reports.  He is seeking $50 million in damages.

“A federal judge has ordered former Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro to turn over to the government hundreds of emails that he sent or received during his nearly four years as a White House aide,” Politico reports.

Ron Brownstein: “Through the early maneuvering, the leading Republican candidates, particularly former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are trying to ignite a procession of culture-war firefights against what DeSantis calls ‘the woke mind virus.’”

“With the exception of abortion rights, Biden, by contrast, is working to downplay or defuse almost all cultural issues. Instead Biden is targeting his communication with the public almost exclusively on delivering tangible economic benefits to working-class families, such as lower costs for insulin, the protection of Social Security and Medicare, and the creation of more manufacturing jobs…”

“The difference in emphasis is real, and the contrast illuminates the core of Biden’s vision about how to sustain a national majority for Democrats. He’s betting that the non-college-educated workers, especially those who are white, who constitute the principal audience for the Republican cultural offensive will prove less receptive to those divisive messages if they feel more economically secure.”

Donald Trump, in a new $99 book, plans to reveal 150 private letters sent to him — including one from Oprah Winfrey in 2000 in which she says: “Too bad we’re not running for office. What a team!,” Axios reports.

Trump writes that he still considers Winfrey “amazing” — but admits it’s not mutual: “Sadly, once I announced for President, she never spoke to me again.”

“House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chair James Comer (R-KY) is on a quest to prove himself as the kingpin of GOP investigations. Not everyone is happy about it,” Punchbowl News reports.

“In a little more than two months as chair, Comer has launched a barrage of probes into everything from the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan to Ukraine aid to the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.”

9But some GOP members and aides have expressed concerns that the Kentucky Republican may be spreading himself too thin and inserting his committee into other panels’ business.”

Australia will buy up to five Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines from the United States to be delivered in the 2030s, according to people briefed on the deal, which accelerates and deepens an ambitious defense agreement aimed at reinforcing American-led military dominance of the Asia-Pacific region to counter China’s military growth,” the New York Times reports.

“Australia would then buy a new class of submarines with British designs and American technology in another stage of the deal. The arrangement — which would also include rotating American attack submarines through Perth, in Western Australia, by 2027 — adds new details and complexities to a 2021 security pact between Australia, Britain and the United States, known as AUKUS.”

“After more than nine hours of deliberation, a jury on Thursday found former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder (R) and state Republican Chairman Matt Borges guilty of felony racketeering charges in connection with a billion-dollar utility bailout that was passed in 2019,” the Ohio Capital Journal reports.

“Both men face maximum sentences of 20 years.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Since the case first became public nearly three years ago, prosecutors have said it represented the largest public corruption scheme in Ohio history, a cash-for-legislation scam they said personally enriched five people and aided a utility’s struggling nuclear operation on the backs of taxpayers.”

“President Biden’s pick to run the Internal Revenue Service won Senate confirmation Thursday and will manage the tax agency’s $80 billion expansion,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Danny Werfel, a former acting IRS commissioner, received bipartisan support in the Senate. Republican lawmakers have signaled they would exercise tough oversight as the agency seeks to boost enforcement and update its technology.”

“Saudi Arabia is asking the U.S. to provide security guarantees and help to develop its civilian nuclear program as Washington tries to broker diplomatic relations between the kingdom and Israel,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Striking a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia has become a priority for President Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amid a looming confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program and military aid to Russia during the Ukraine war.”

“The Saudi demands for security guarantees and nuclear aid are among the daunting obstacles to a deal, as some Washington lawmakers will likely oppose those measures.”

“Iran and Saudi Ara­bia agreed to re-es­tab­lish diplo­matic re­la­tions Fri­day in a deal bro­kered by China, end­ing seven years of es­trange­ment and jolt­ing the geopo­lit­i­cal align­ment of the Mid­dle East,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

After earlier this week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is being treated for a concussion and is expected to remain in the hospital for “a few days of observation and treatment,” CNN reports.

“Alex Jones’ media company has proposed a plan in its bankruptcy case to pay the conspiracy theorist $520,000 a year while leaving $7 million to $10 million annually to pay off creditors, including relatives of Sandy Hook shooting victims,” the AP reports.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) — who is just 36 years old — announced that her 17-year-old son will make her a grandmother in April, Newsweek reports. We have a two word definition for that. Involves the word trash.

A new Morning Consult poll finds 51% of U.S. adults now say they believe the Covid-19 pandemic started because the virus spilled from a virology laboratory in Wuhan, China.

“The Biden administration, keeping a watchful eye on an outbreak of avian influenza that has led to the deaths of tens of millions of chickens and is driving up the cost of eggs — not to mention raising the frightening specter of a human pandemic — is contemplating a mass vaccination campaign for poultry,” the New York Times reports.

A federal investigation found the Louisville Metro Police Department “engaged in systemic civil rights abuses and excessive-force misconduct in the years leading up to the 2020 police killing of Breonna Taylor,” the Washington Post reports.

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) “orchestrated a 2017 credit card skimming operation in Seattle, the man who was convicted of the fraud and deported to Brazil said in a sworn declaration submitted to federal authorities Wednesday,” Politico reports.

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

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