Cup of Joe – April 2, 2023

Just Security has an excellent, detailed chronology of Donald Trump’s payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.

“Donald Trump plans to fly to New York on Monday and stay overnight before appearing in a specially secured Manhattan courthouse to be arraigned on still-unspecified criminal charges,” the Washington Post reports.

“An advance team of Secret Service agents — mostly comprised of New York field office agents — conducted a site tour of the courthouse on Friday to map Trump’s path in and out of the building, according to a law enforcement official involved in the planning.”

“When former President Donald Trump arrives for his first appearance in Manhattan Criminal Court next week, he will look up at a judge who has played a key role in several investigations involving those in Trump’s orbit,” CBS News reports.

“Judge Juan Merchan presided over the convictions and guilty plea last year of two Trump Organization companies, and their former chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, one of Trump’s most trusted advisers. Merchan is also overseeing the ongoing criminal proceedings involving Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist and senior counselor in the White House who has pleaded not guilty to state fraud and money laundering charges.”

New York Magazine: “Donald Trump is about to be prosecuted, but unless you’re one of the few people who might be allowed inside the courtroom in Manhattan, you won’t be able to watch. That’s because New York is the only state in the country that still bans cameras in legal trials.”

“Given the political stakes of prosecuting a former president who is again running for office, the public needs to observe the strength of Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s case rather than rely on others to tell them how the evidence shakes out — especially given Trump and his allies’ penchant for spreading disinformation. With confidence in the media and courts at an all-time low, will the public trust the outcome of the case if they can’t see it for themself?”

“Donald Trump can’t seem to stop talking about his indictment. But once he’s arraigned, it’s ‘extremely likely’ that he’ll have to,“ Insider reports.

“His freedom to rant on Truth Social and say what he wants about his case at rallies will likely change once he surrenders and appears in a Manhattan courthouse.”

Washington Post: “On Friday, Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle briefed her deputies about plans for Tuesday, the law enforcement official said, telling them that the agency will take “the necessary steps” to protect Trump from harm, including placing agents and officers in a bubble formation to separate him from approaching members of the public. But she also stressed that the Secret Service has not sought any special accommodations in the court’s standard processing and arraignment procedure, the official said, such as closing off courthouse hallways to the public.”

“In securing Trump’s safety, Secret Service agents will be primarily responsible for his entry to and exit from the courthouse, the official said. Court security officers will manage the former president’s movements inside the building, in the company of Trump’s security detail, and New York police officers will secure the outside streets surrounding the courthouse and along Trump’s motorcade route through the city.”

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman on Friday said Trump Organization employees were secretly celebrating former President Donald Trump’s indictment in the Stormy Daniels hush money case, the HuffPost reports.

Said Haberman: “They were texting me, and there is a long trail of people who feel burned, in one way or another, by Donald Trump.”

She added: “And the number of people I heard from yesterday who worked for his company who were really happy, one person texted with the words, ‘Wonderful news.’ That really sort of tells you something about where these folks’ heads are.”

“When Donald Trump steps before a judge next week to be arraigned in a New York courtroom, it will not only mark the first time a former U.S. president has faced criminal charges,” the AP reports.

“It will also represent a reckoning for a man long nicknamed ‘Teflon Don,’ who until now has managed to skirt serious legal jeopardy despite 40 years of legal scrutiny.”

Washington Post: Fifty years of investigations on Trump, visualized.

CNN: Inside the long and winding road to Trump’s historic indictment.

“Donald Trump is facing multiple charges of falsifying business records, including at least one felony offense, in the indictment handed down by a Manhattan grand jury,” the AP reports.

“The indictment remained sealed and the specific charges were not immediately known, but details were confirmed by people who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss information that isn’t yet public.”

New York City is gearing up security again for possible protests and unrest after a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict former President Donald Trump on Thursday,” NBC New York reports.

“As a precaution, the NYPD has ordered every member of the department to report in full uniform Friday. That order includes about 36,000 officers and 19,000 civilian employees, as the department intensifies security measures ahead of what potentially could be a busy weekend of pro- and anti-Trump demonstrations throughout the city, especially in front of Trump Tower in midtown.”

“News organizations have a message for Elon Musk: We are not going to pay you for checkmarks on Twitter,” CNN reports.

“The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Politico, and Vox all scoffed at the notion on Thursday that they would pay Twitter for the feature, which has been free since it was introduced years ago but will soon be phased out.”

Tech Crunch: “Since Musk took over he has set about dismantling everything that made Twitter valuable — making it his mission to drive out expertise, scare away celebrities, bully reporters and — on the flip side — reward the bad actors, spammers and sycophants who thrive in the opposite environment: An information vacuum.”

“It almost doesn’t matter if this is deliberate sabotage by Musk or the blundering stupidity of a clueless idiot. The upshot is the same: Twitter is dying.”

“The value that Twitter’s platform produced, by combining valuable streams of qualification and curiosity, is being beaten and wrung out. What’s left has — for months now — felt like an echo-y shell of its former self. And it’s clear that with every freshly destructive decision — whether it’s unbanning the nazis and letting the toxicity rip, turning verification into a pay-to-play megaphone or literally banning journalists — Musk has applied his vast wealth to destroying as much of the information network’s value as possible in as short a time as possible; each decision triggering another exodus of expertise as more long-time users give up and depart.”

“Simply put, Musk is flushing Twitter down the sink.”

“A judge denied granting summary judgment to Fox News in its attempt to get Dominion Voting System’s $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit thrown out Friday, meaning the case will go to trial in mid-April,” NBC News reports.

Abby Grossberg — a former Tucker Carlson producer who sued Fox News last week accusing the network of pressuring her into giving misleading testimony about their coverage of supposed election fraud — gave her first TV interview to NBC News on Thursday. She said she believes she was set up by the network to be a scapegoat in the Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation suit.

Grossberg — who was fired days after she filed the lawsuit — alleges Fox’s lawyers repeatedly coached her to avoid going into detail about higher-ups at the network. 

“I was flat out told, ‘You do not want to be the star witness in this case,’ when I was very truthful and forthcoming,” Grossberg said. “I realized that the answers that they wanted me to say were putting me in a very vulnerable position to be the company scapegoat.”

“They’re a big corporate machine that destroys people,” Grossberg added.

“Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott sounded the alarm inside the company about the financial fallout that the right-wing network would suffer if it continued fact-checking then-President Donald Trump’s lies after the 2020 election, according to messages that became public Wednesday,” CNN reports.

“In one instance, Scott emailed Meade Cooper, executive vice president of prime time programming, and laced into correspondent Eric Shawn for fact-checking Trump.”

Said Scott: “This has to stop now. This is bad for business and there is a lack of understanding what is happening in these shows. The audience is furious and we are just feeding them material. Bad for business.”

Jurors in the recently concluded trial of six Oath Keeper affiliates were “horrified” by a defense attorney’s effort to provoke his autistic client into a “breakdown” on the witness stand, one of those jurors said Tuesday in a newly released interview, Politico reports.

Said the juror, identified only as Ellen: “His defense attorney tried to get him to fall apart by yelling at him and not letting him wear his headset. He was torturing his client to get us to feel sympathy.”

Jacob Chansley, the “QAnon Shaman” who pleaded guilty in September 2021 to civil disorder and violent entry to the Capitol, has been released from prison to a halfway house, the Daily Mail reports.

“U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday unveiled a new indictment against Sam Bankman-Fried, accusing the founder of now-bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange of conspiring to bribe Chinese government officials with $40 million worth of payments,” Reuters reports.

“The last time an Indian leader held so much power — in the 1970s, when the country slid into outright dictatorship under Indira Gandhi — it was the courts that proved the final speed bump, issuing decisions that aimed to claw back some fundamental constitutional rights,” the New York Times reports.

“Now, as the current prime minister, Narendra Modi, tightens his grip on India’s democratic pillars with elections approaching early next year, he faces little pushback from the country’s judiciary. Instead, analysts, diplomats and political opponents say, Mr. Modi’s party has leaned on the courts to protect its own and target its rivals as he pushes India’s layered and vociferous democracy closer toward a one-party state.”

“Chinese leader Xi Jinping says he is preparing for war,” Foreign Affairs reports.

“At the annual meeting of China’s parliament and its top political advisory body in March, Xi wove the theme of war readiness through four separate speeches, in one instance telling his generals to ‘dare to fight.’ His government also announced a 7.2 percent increase in China’s defense budget, which has doubled over the last decade, as well as plans to make the country less dependent on foreign grain imports. And in recent months, Beijing has unveiled new military readiness laws, new air-raid shelters in cities across the strait from Taiwan, and new ‘National Defense Mobilization’ offices countrywide.”

“It is too early to say for certain what these developments mean. Conflict is not certain or imminent. But something has changed in Beijing that policymakers and business leaders worldwide cannot afford to ignore. If Xi says he is readying for war, it would be foolish not to take him at his word.”

Wall Street Journal: “The Biden administration last week proposed new rules detailing restrictions chip companies would face on operations in China and other countries of concern if the companies accept taxpayer funding. Some of the proposed restrictions, known as the China guardrails, were tougher than industry executives, lawyers and national-security analysts say they had expected.”

Politico: “With urgency like never before, European governments are restricting exports of chip-making equipment to China, banning TikTok on government devices and pushing protectionist trade policy. Even long-time holdout Germany, the European Union’s biggest economy and a heavy investor in China, is starting to question its business-first ethos.”

“Senate Democrats are pressing federal banking regulators to toughen bank capital requirements following back-to-back congressional hearings where officials testified about the failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank,” CNBC reports.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries quietly met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen Thursday in New York, Punchbowl News reports.  Jeffries’ office declined to comment.

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) announced in a statement on Friday that he has been “diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a serious but curable form of cancer,” CNN reports.

Donald Trump “has been endorsed by 37 House Republicans — including more than a third of the GOP members on Judiciary and Oversight, two committees he’s pushing to investigate President Biden and Manhattan’s district attorney,” Axios reports.

“Trump’s endorsements, which also include five Republican senators, reflect the congressional wall of support he has built to boost his 2024 presidential campaign — and help him dig up dirt on his political and legal foes.”

Washington Post: “That case involves E. Jean Carroll, who has accused Trump of raping her in the mid-1990s. Carroll, an author and former magazine columnist, made her accusations public during Trump’s presidency. Trump denounced Carroll and denied her allegations. Carroll later filed two civil lawsuits against Trump, accusing him of defamation and sexual assault.”

“One of the lawsuits — in which Carroll accuses Trump of battery and defamation — is scheduled for a late April trial. If the schedule holds, this means Carroll’s allegations against Trump will be litigated in one New York City court while he is beginning to mount his defense against a criminal indictment in another.”

“North Carolina legislators repealed the state’s requirement that someone obtain a permit from a local sheriff before buying a pistol, as the Republican-controlled legislature on Wednesday successfully overrode one of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes for the first time since 2018,” the AP reports.

“Social Security can pay out full benefits for at least another decade through 2034, or one year earlier than projected last year,” Politico reports. “Americans will see a major cut to their benefits if Congress does nothing to ensure the program’s solvency past that point, the Biden administration said in its latest report on the program’s finances.”

“Senate security officials have taken new steps to protect the secrecy of senators’ weekly closed-door lunches in the U.S. Capitol after a contract employee was arrested and accused of recording audio of a Republican lunch meeting in early March,” NBC News reports.

“Derrick Miller, a former U.S. Army National Guard sergeant who spent eight years in prison for murdering an Afghan civilian in 2010, now serves as a legislative assistant covering military policy for Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL),” The Intercept reports.

Politico: “New Hampshire’s two Democratic senators are lobbying with uncharacteristic zeal on an issue dividing their caucus — confirming a judicial nominee under scrutiny for his handling of a sexual assault case at a prestigious boarding school.”

The FBI has determined Roy McGrath — the chief of staff to former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) — is an “international flight risk” and is offering a $10,000 reward for information about his whereabouts, the Baltimore Sun reports.

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

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