Cup of Joe – March 21, 2023

“A Manhattan grand jury that is expected to vote soon on whether to indict Donald Trump may hear testimony Monday attacking the prosecution’s star witness,“ the New York Times reports.

“The testimony would come from a lawyer, Robert Costello, who would appear at the request of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, the people said. Mr. Costello was once a legal adviser to Michael Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer, who has been a key witness for the Manhattan district attorney’s office.”

“Mr. Costello and Mr. Cohen had a falling out, and Mr. Costello would appear solely to undermine Mr. Cohen’s credibility, the people said.”

New York Times: “The chain of events flowing from the 2006 encounter that the adult film star, Stormy Daniels, has said she had with the television personality, Donald Trump, has led to the brink of a historic development: the first criminal indictment of a former American president.”

New York Times: “At least one more witness is expected to testify in front of the grand jury… and even if the grand jury were to vote to indict the former president on Monday, a Tuesday surrender was unlikely, given the need to arrange timing, travel and other logistics.”

“One person with knowledge of the matter said that Mr. Trump’s advisers had guessed that it could happen around then, and that someone might have relayed that to the former president.”

Josh Marshall: “I have been assuming that Trump’s unhinged reference to his being “arrested” on Tuesday is based on what Alvin Bragg’s office has told his lawyers (for arranging Trump’s turning himself in to be booked in Manhattan). In other words, the “leak” is from Trump and the information is accurate. But CNN is reporting that Robert Costello, a one time legal advisor to Michael Cohen, has been designated by Trump’s lawyers to testify to the Manhattan grand jury about Cohen’s credibility on Monday. You could still have last-ditch testimony on Monday and an indictment on Tuesday. But that makes me significantly less confident that Tuesday is the day.”

The New York Times reviews the charges Donald Trump could face from the New York, Georgia and Justice Department criminal investigations.

Jason Kyle Howard of Salon writes about what to expect in the event that the media has to cover a presidential candidate under indictment.

“Wherever an indictment, or multiple indictments, might originate, the initial earthquake of coverage — banner headlines and news alerts, countless stories and analysis, wall-to-wall coverage on cable news, a flood of editorials and op-eds, the need for regular updates — will place extraordinary demands on journalists covering Trump, particularly in light of his long-running attacks on the press as purveyors of “fake news” and being “an enemy of the people.”

The case against Trump will be complex, involving issues and statutes that could prove challenging to interpret and contextualize. Zremski said that journalists’ explanations, given “in layperson’s terms as best as possible,” should be “the baseline of fair and balanced coverage.”

But that won’t be enough, he said. “Then of course you’ll have to give the other side. And I know the complaints about both-sides-ism, but every court case has two sides, and it’s not as if we’re going to stop telling both sides of the court case. So even when Trump’s legal team were to respond it would have to be covered — but of course, it would also have to be fact-checked, because there is some history of Mr. Trump employing lawyers who don’t necessarily ground all of their statements in the truth.”

Reporters will also have to contend with the reaction of the candidate himself. Trump’s tenuous relationship with facts, and his willingness to counterpunch and employ diversions, means that anything is possible — and that journalists will need to be especially vigilant and focused.”

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) sought to tamp down Donald Trump’s call for protests in response to a possible arrest of the president in connection to a Manhattan District Attorney investigation, The Hill reports.

Said McCarthy: “I don’t think people should protest this stuff.”

Playbook: “Republicans are discussing firing off letters summoning employees of the Manhattan DA’s office for sworn testimony, according to a GOP official familiar with the plans.”

“The potential request comes amid speculation about why the hush-money case was suddenly resurrected after being back-burnered by both state and federal prosecutors…”

“Jim Jordan didn’t answer questions about whether he’d subpoena Bragg. Even if he does, it’s almost impossible to imagine Bragg or his subordinates answering questions about an ongoing probe or prosecution. While Republicans could threaten to hold him in contempt of Congress, the Justice Department would be unlikely to press charges in a partisan dispute.”

“Since he left office, Democrats and a smaller number of Republicans have vowed to ensure that former President Donald J. Trump never recaptures the White House, where he would regain enormous power over the nation and around the globe,” the New York Times reports.

“Yet, in his insistence on forging ahead with a campaign while facing multiple criminal investigations, his dismissiveness toward supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression and his continued provocations on social media and in campaign speeches, Mr. Trump has shown that he does not need control over the levers of government to have an effect on the country — and, in the minds of many, to do damage.”

“To those who believed that the secret to banishing Mr. Trump was to deprive him of attention — that ignoring him would make him go away — he has shown that to be wishful thinking.”

Washington Post: “Xi’s visit shows sides being taken, with China, Russia and Iran lining up against the United States, Britain and other NATO allies — in a competition for global influence and for alliances with nations such as South Africa and Saudi Arabia, which seem ambivalent but up for grabs.”

Lauren Wolfe on why it matters that the ICC has issued a warrant for Putin:

“Justice may come slowly, but it is possible. No matter how Russian war criminals are charged, the extradition of Putin, just as with Milosevic, won’t happen while he’s in power, and a successor may be reluctant to hand Putin over — unlike the Serbian reformists with Milosevic. But what happened with Milosevic, as with the Nuremberg trials following World War II, shows that top leaders can be held to account.”

EJ Dionne: “In 2021, Joe Biden was touted as a bold progressive president in the spirit of FDR. In 2023, he’s suddenly being cast as a center-hugging Bill Clinton.

Here’s an alternative hypothesis: Maybe Joe Biden is just Joe Biden, and maybe it’s neither the 1930s nor the 1990s anymore.

Historical analogies can be instructive, but they’re also vexed. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Clinton are more complicated as politicians and people than as archetypes. Roosevelt could be cautious and often had to be pushed to be more progressive. Clinton was certainly a Third Way triangulator, but his health-care proposal was far more sweeping than Obamacare — and he was, by the way, a vocal Roosevelt fan.

Using the past to portray different Bidens also misses the dynamics of a political landscape transformed both by Donald Trump and by a stronger progressive movement inside the Democratic Party.”

House Republicans hold a retreat in Orlando on Monday and Tuesday.

The House returns Wednesday, with committees holding multiple hearings on Biden’s FY 2024 budget request. On Thursday, the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Impacts to the Department of Defense and the Armed Services,” while the House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on “Free Speech: The Biden Administration’s Chilling of Parents’ Fundamental Rights.”

The Senate is expected to hold a cloture vote on a measure to repeal the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force on Tuesday evening.

On Thursday, President Biden will host a White House event marking the 13th anniversary of President Barack Obama signing the Affordable Care Act into law. Later that day, the President and First Lady travel to Ottawa, where the President will meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and address the Canadian Parliament.

Former Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI), who voted to impeach Donald Trump and lost his Republican primary as a result, said that “indictment is a billion dollar gift-in-kind from Democrats to Trump’s ‘24 campaign.”

 “The circus continues. I mean, look, he only profits and does well in chaos and turmoil. And so he wants to create the chaos and turmoil on his terms. He doesn’t want anybody else’s terms… he wants it on his terms. But look at the end, being indicted, never helps anybody.”  — Former Gov. Chris Christie, quoted by The Hill, on Donald Trump possibly being indicted this week.

Former Vice President Mike Pence was interviewed by John Karl on ABC News, who played audio of Donald Trump justifying rioters chanting “Hang Mike Pence!”

KARL: I mean, he’s effectively justifying, or excusing, the actions of people who were calling for you to be hanged!

PENCE: There is no excuse for the violence that took place at the Capitol on January 6th, and I’ll never diminish it as long as I live, but, look…The president’s wrong. He was wrong that day, and I actually hoped he would come around in time, ton. That he would see the cadre of legal advisers he had him with had led him astray, and he hasn’t done so. i think it’s one of the reasons why this country just wants a fresh start.

KARL: Does justifying those murderous chants, does that effectively disqualify him from being commander-in-chief again?

PENCE: I think that’s a judgment for the American people to make.

KARL: What’s your judgment about it?

PENCE: I’m confident they’ll make it. Look, I’ll be honest with you. I was angry that day, and while I believe in forgiveness, I have been working hard at that for awhile. The president let me down that day. He let the country down that day, but thanks to the courage of law enforcement, the riot was quelled. We reconvened the conference the very same day, and that very same day of tragedy became a day of freedom and I’ll be proud of our small part in that, but to be honest with you the emotions of that day, the emotions since, I just haven’t had time for it. To me, there’s just too many issues that we’re facing in this country today under the failed policies of this administration that — I don’t have a lot of time for looking backwards.

KARL: Could you ever support him again for president?

PENCE: I think that’s yet to be seen, Jon.

 “Two decades ago, the House and Senate voted to give President George W. Bush the authority to use military force in Iraq,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“With the 20th anniversary of the 2003 Iraq invasion this week and the fighting long over, lawmakers now are weighing whether to repeal that authorization, with proponents saying the measure has outlived its initial intent and Congress needs to claw back some power from the White House on waging war. Critics say ending the authorization is unnecessary and could send a message of weakness abroad.”

“A repeal bill is expected to clear the Senate soon.”

Andrew Wallenstein and Gavin Bridge of Variety cites polling that shows that Fox News viewers are less trusting of Fox News Channel but less that half of those viewers say that watch Fox News less than they used to.

“More than a fifth of Fox News Channel viewers are less trusting of the cable network in the wake of publicly disclosed text messages and emails from Fox executives and on-air personalities, according to a new survey. But only 9% of Fox News viewers say they aren’t watching the network as much as they used to, per research provided exclusively to Variety Intelligence Platform by consumer insights specialists Maru Group. […]

A representative for Fox News told VIP+, “There has been no impact to advertising, with no advertisers dropping or pausing,” and confirmed that viewership levels had not been impacted.

In addition, 13% of Fox News viewers no longer believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen after reading communications in which the network’s stars, including Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, were making allegations on TV regarding voter fraud that was inconsistent with what they were saying privately.”

Alain Catzefils of The Article attempts to assess the reasons and possible consequences for Iran’s military assistance to Russia.

“One of the unintended consequences of the war in Ukraine is that Tehran has become a supplier of lethal drones and military training to the Kremlin. This puts the regime, as far as the Biden administration is concerned, beyond the pale. Nobody in Washington is going to advocate lifting sanctions against Iran while its drones are killing Ukrainians.

But Iran’s choice is not irrational or impulsive. It’s a response to a hardening attitude by the regime to loss of control on its streets and a belief that it doesn’t have much more to lose.

The Islamic Republic is under threat at home. Protests erupted across the country last September following the death in custody of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, demanding an end to its draconian hijab laws. This ongoing uprising has shaken the Iranian government.

The breathtaking courage of young women, even schoolgirls, openly defying the state and its infamous “Morality Police” quickly escalated into widespread strikes and broader anti-government civil disobedience.”

New York Times: “In the 20 years since the United States invaded Iraq, Iran has built up loyal militias inside Iraq, gained deep political influence in the country and reaped economic benefits. For Washington, these were unintended consequences.”

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

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