Cup of Joe – March 12, 2023

“Lawyers for Donald Trump are meeting with the former president in Florida this weekend to discuss how to handle the latest developments in a Manhattan probe focused on a hush money payment during the 2016 campaign,” NBC News reports.

Washington Post: “Trump — who stoked an insurrection trying to overturn the results of the 2020 election and is running again in 2024 — finds himself in growing peril, both legal and political. Multiple investigations into him and his actions are entering advanced stages, all while many in the Republican Party — in private conversations and public declarations — are increasingly trying to find an alternative to him.”

Daily Beast: “Trump’s lawyers have until Wednesday to explain how they tried to play two New York judges off each other by double-booking trials to potentially delay them both.

“Michael Cohen, the former fixer who for years did Donald Trump’s dirty work, is expected to testify before a Manhattan grand jury next week, a sign that prosecutors are poised to indict the former president for his role in paying hush money to a porn star,” the New York Times reports.

“The Manhattan district attorney’s office has already questioned at least seven other people before the grand jury hearing evidence about the hush money deal, according to several other people with knowledge of the inquiry, potentially making Mr. Cohen the last witness.”

“Once he has testified, nearly every crucial player in the hush money matter will have appeared before the grand jury — with the exception of the porn star herself, Stormy Daniels, who may not be called to testify.”

“It would be highly unusual for a prosecutor in a high-profile white-collar case to go through a weekslong presentation of evidence — and question nearly every relevant witness — without intending to seek an indictment.”

A federal judge ruled that Donald Trump cannot keep E. Jean Carroll from showing a jury the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape that nearly derailed his 2016 campaign in a lawsuit accusing him of rape, Law & Crime reports.

George Conway: “Trump’s argument here apparently didn’t grab the judge.”

David Graham: “Not that long ago, the idea that a former president could be indicted for a crime was a topic of dread, even for those who believed that charging Trump was justified or even prudent…”

“The point is that there was a robust debate. Somewhere that slipped away. Plenty of commentators still argue that charges against Trump will have dangerous effects or are simply not justified by the facts, but the conversation is now academic. Identifying when the switch happened is tough—was it when the FBI search turned up so many presidential documents at Mar-a-Lago? Or when the Fulton County grand jury completed its work? Or when Jack Smith was appointed?—but a prospect that once seemed remote has, through long discussion, become nearly inevitable.”

“In a way, Trump has fallen victim to his own trick. During his first campaign and his presidency, he would introduce some astonishing concept, weather the initial backlash, and then repeat it until the population had become numb to it… And after all, it was Trump who first normalized the idea of prosecuting a rival presidential candidate.”

“The FDIC seized the assets of Silicon Valley Bank on Friday, marking the largest bank failure since Washington Mutual during the height of the 2008 financial crisis,” the AP reports.

“The bank failed after depositors — mostly technology workers and venture capital-backed companies — began withdrawing their money creating a run on the bank.”

“Investors and depositors tried to pull $42 billion from Silicon Valley Bank on Thursday in one of the biggest US bank runs in more than a decade,” Bloomberg reports.

Washington Post: Silicon Valley Bank failure raises fear of broader financial contagion.

Matt Levine: “So if you were the Bank of Startups, just like if you were the Bank of Crypto, it turned out that you had made a huge concentrated bet on interest rates. Your customers were flush with cash, so they gave you all that cash, but they didn’t need loans so you invested all that cash in longer-dated fixed-income securities, which lost value when rates went up.”

“But also, when rates went up, your customers all got smoked, because it turned out that they were creatures of low interest rates, and in a higher-interest-rate environment they didn’t have money anymore. So they withdrew their deposits, so you had to sell those securities at a loss to pay them back. Now you have lost money and look financially shaky, so customers get spooked and withdraw more money, so you sell more securities, so you book more losses, oops oops oops.”

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) on Friday said he was “innocent” of an allegation that he had orchestrated a credit card skimming operation in 2017 in Seattle that led to the guilty plea and deportation of a Brazilian man, CNN reports.

Santos (R-NY) made a surprise offer to co-sponsor a bill designed by some of his fiercest Republican critics to prevent him from profiting off his campaign lies, Politico reports.

“The House voted unanimously on Friday to declassify U.S. intelligence information about the origins of Covid-19, a sweeping show of bipartisan support near the third anniversary of the start of the deadly pandemic,” the AP reports.

“The 419-0 vote was final approval of the bill, sending it to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.”

“A powerful group of far-right Republicans on Friday issued a new set of demands in the fight over the debt ceiling, stressing they would only supply their votes to raise the limit if they can secure about $130 billion in spending cuts, cap federal agencies’ future budgets and unwind the Biden administration’s economic agenda,” the Washington Post reports.

“The ultimatum from the House Freedom Caucus — led by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) — threatened to deal a massive blow to government health care, education, science and labor programs. Seeking tougher work requirements on welfare recipients and the repeal of federal funds to fight coronavirus and climate change, the conservatives’ wish list appeared to complicate the work to clinch a deal and avert a looming fiscal calamity.”

Bloomberg: “His record so far is partially a mirage rather than a signal of a strong balance sheet: the $1.7 trillion reduction in the annual deficit under Biden is relative to extraordinary one-time costs of the pandemic, and many of his legislative accomplishments have expanded the shortfall.”

“And the president’s own budget projections would see the deficit increasing next year, from $1.6 trillion to $1.8 trillion. The gross federal debt would swell from $33 trillion this year to $51 trillion after a decade.”

New York Times: Missing from Biden’s budget: His plan for Social Security.

Axios: “Several House Republicans are likely to run for competitive Senate seats in 2024. If they vote to cut Medicare, Social Security or some other entitlement programs in the meantime, they could hurt their own chances.”

“The US intelligence community believes that individuals with ties to Russian intelligence are planning to stage protests in Moldova to try to foment a manufactured insurrection against the Moldovan government, with the ultimate goal of seeing a more pro-Russia administration installed there,” CNN reports.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urged members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday to raise the federal debt ceiling without conditions, warning that a default on U.S. debt would cause an “economic and financial catastrophe,” Reuters reports.

“There’s one way to force President Joe Biden and Congress to solve the looming crisis over the debt limit: a financial market crash,” the AP reports.

“That’s a view held by several economists and a former White House official, mindful that Congress rarely acts unless an emergency forces lawmakers to.”

“In one of the most consequential climate decisions of his administration, President Biden is planning to greenlight an enormous $8 billion oil drilling project in the North Slope of Alaska,“ the New York Times reports.

“Alaska lawmakers and oil executives have put intense pressure on the White House to approve the project, citing President Biden’s own calls for the industry to increase production amid volatile gas prices stemming from Russia’s war against Ukraine.”

“But the proposal to drill for oil has also galvanized young voters and climate activists, many of whom helped elect Mr. Biden and who would view the decision as a betrayal of the president’s promise that he would pivot the nation away from fossil fuels.”

Reuters: “The surprise deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to restore diplomatic ties offers much for the United States to be intrigued about, including a possible path to rein in Tehran’s nuclear program and a chance to cement a ceasefire in Yemen. It also contains an element sure to make officials in Washington deeply uneasy — the role of China as peace broker in a region where the U.S. has long wielded influence.”

Wall Street Journal: “The U.S. missed the moment to hold back China’s buildup in part because it was focused on collaborating with Beijing on global issues such as North Korea and Iran, and was preoccupied by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. … China’s gains in the waters are now so entrenched that, short of military conflict, they are unlikely to be reversed.”

“A Texas man is suing three women who he claims assisted his ex-wife in terminating her pregnancy under the state’s wrongful death statute, the first such case brought since the state’s near-total ban on abortion last summer,” the Texas Tribune reports.

“The Supreme Court is seeking millions of dollars from Congress to improve security after the leak of a draft ruling rolling back abortion rights led to both an internal investigation and protests that raised concerns about the safety of the justices,” NBC News reports.

“Mexico’s president said Thursday that his country does not produce or consume fentanyl, despite enormous evidence to the contrary,” the AP reports.

“President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador appeared to depict the synthetic opioid epidemic largely as a U.S. problem, and said the United States should use family values to fight drug addiction.”

“He went on to recite a list of reasons why Americans might be turning to fentanyl, including single-parent families, parents who kick grown children out of their houses and people who put elderly relatives in old-age homes ‘and visit them once a year.’”

A blistering new official investigation decries violent, lawless “deputy gangs” that continue to wield extraordinary power within the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Rolling Stone reports.  The report identifies at “least a half dozen” active gangs and cliques — and names them: the Executioners, the Banditos, the Regulators, the Spartans, the Gladiators, the Cowboys, and the Reapers.  Perhaps most alarming, the investigation reveals that in recent years “tattooed deputy gang members” have risen to “the highest levels” of department leadership.

Associated Press: “What first looked like a pandemic blip has turned into a crisis. Nationwide, undergraduate college enrollment dropped 8% from 2019 to 2022, with declines even after returning to in-person classes, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse. The slide in the college-going rate since 2018 is the steepest on record, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

“After a schism left the moderate group all-male, the Blue Dogs have found their first new female member in the Last Frontier,” Politico reports.

“The centrist Democratic coalition is adding an eighth member — Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK) — to its ranks after a half-dozen members left the group this year over a rebranding rift. She’ll also be the only woman.”

“Federal prosecutors inadvertently disclosed likely classified material to Proud Boys defense attorneys, Justice Department officials indicated Thursday, a snafu that has derailed — for at least a full day — the most important trial to emerge from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol,” Politico reports.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (D) suggested one-on-one basketball to decide which state gets the new FBI headquarters.

“The BBC has decided not to broadcast an episode of David Attenborough’s flagship new series on British wildlife because of fears its themes of the destruction of nature would risk a backlash from Tory politicians and the rightwing press,” The Guardian reports.

Former Rep. Stephen Buyer (R-IN) was convicted by a New York jury on Friday of trading on inside information, Reuters reports.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is “doing well” but “agitating” to leave the hospital after his concussion, Bloomberg reports.

Washington Examiner: “Biden said in 2019 that if he were elected, he would tell the Justice department to perform a comprehensive review of the opinions that were issued during the Nixon and Clinton eras.” “Since Biden has not ordered the review since taking office, the opinion could shield him from being indicted.”

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

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