Cup of Joe – April 4, 2023

A person familiar with the matter told CBS News that Donald Trump is being charged in Manhattan with falsifying business records in the first degree, a felony in New York State.  There will be roughly 30 charges in total.

“Donald Trump has told advisers and associates in recent days that he is prepared to escalate attacks against the Manhattan prosecutor who resurrected the criminal prosecution into his hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016 now that a grand jury has indicted him,” The Guardian reports.  “The former president has vowed to people close to him that he wants to go on the offensive and – in a private moment over the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida that demonstrates his gathering resolve – remarked using more colorful language that it was time to politically ‘rough ’em up.’”

However, the Daily Mail reports Trump’s own lawyers believe he will be subject to a gag order after he is arraigned.

“Since long before he entered the White House, former President Donald Trump has been an any-publicity-is-good-publicity kind of guy. In fact, he once told advisers, ‘There’s no bad press unless you’re a pedophile.’ Hush money for a porn star? Evidently not an exception to that rule,” the New York Times reports.

“And so, while no one wants to be indicted, Mr. Trump in one sense finds himself exactly where he loves to be — in the center ring of the circus, with all the spotlights on him. He has spent the days since a grand jury called him a potential criminal milking the moment for all it’s worth, savoring the attention as no one else in modern American politics would.”

“Rather than hide from the indignity of turning himself into authorities this week, Mr. Trump obligingly sent out a schedule as if for a campaign tour, letting everyone know he would fly on Monday from Florida to New York, then on Tuesday surrender for mug shots, fingerprinting and arraignment. In case that were not enough to draw the eye, he plans to then fly back to Florida to make a prime-time evening statement at Mar-a-Lago, surrounded by the cameras and microphones he covets.”

“Former President Donald Trump faces the most urgent legal challenge of his life this week in New York, where he’s set to be arraigned Tuesday on charges arising from hush money payments during his 2016 campaign,” the AP reports.

“But as much of the attention will be on the courthouse in lower Manhattan, investigations from Atlanta to Washington will press forward, underscoring the broad range of peril he confronts as he seeks to reclaim the presidency.”

“The vulnerability Trump faces in Washington alone has become clear over the past month, as judges in a succession of sealed rulings have turned aside the Trump team’s efforts to block grand jury testimony — including from his own lawyer and his former vice president — from witnesses who were, or still are, close to him and who could conceivably offer direct insight into key events.”

CNN: “Despite the initial shock of the indictment that caught Trump and his advisers ‘off-guard,’ Trump has remained surprisingly calm and focused in the days ahead of his court appearance, according to the sources. Some believed he was compartmentalizing the situation, while others believed he was convinced the case against him was weak and would only help him politically.”

USA Today: Trump is planning to turn his arraignment into a political spectacle.

“Donald Trump’s former fixer and personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has provided documentation to the Manhattan district attorney’s office about not only the Stormy Daniels hush money payment but also regarding a payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, Cohen’s attorney said,” Rolling Stone reports.

“Several media outlets… have asked a New York judge to unseal the grand jury indictment against former President Donald Trump,” CNN reports.  “The news organizations are also asking for permission to broadcast Trump’s expected appearance in a Manhattan courtroom on Tuesday for his arraignment on the charges.”

Days after Donald Trump’s indictment, some of Trump’s lawyers are taking aim at Joe Tacopina, his co-lead defense attorney in the Bragg case calling him “dumb” and a “loudmouth,” Rolling Stone reports.

Two sources say some of Trump’s lawyers and advisers have warned the ex-president that he should be careful with Tacopina, and that he cannot trust the attorney’s loyalty.

Maggie Haberman: “They’re still trying to assess what is happening on a few fronts. One is the political front, which I’d say they were most prepared on.”

“Another is the legal front, which is messy because his team has had a lot of infighting, and there’s finger pointing about why they were so caught off guard. The lawyers also don’t yet know the charges because it’s a sealed indictment.”

“Finally, there is the emotional front. While Trump is not said to be throwing things, he is extremely angry and his family is, not surprisingly, rattled.”

Washington Post: “Trump was not happy, said one person with direct knowledge of his reaction. Others described Trump as ‘upset,’ ‘irritated,’ ‘deflated’ and ‘shocked,’ though some noted that he also remained ‘very calm’ and ‘rather stoic, actually.’”

New York Times: “The police, for instance, sent a stand-ready order to about 35,000 officers, a force larger and better trained than some national armies… The response is informed by lessons learned from the Capitol riot and from the challenges posed by the nationwide protests against police violence in 2020.”

“As of Sunday, neither law enforcement officials nor outside experts have picked up evidence that Mr. Trump’s defenders or detractors are gearing up for a major event.”

“Even for a city accustomed to celebrity appearances, the two-day visit during which Donald Trump is expected be arraigned in Manhattan is likely to be a striking spectacle: There will be protests and celebrations, an all-hands-on-deck police presence and a crush of media attention on the moment in which the first American president is charged with a crime,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Trump is expected to arrive in New York on Monday from his estate in Florida and head to his erstwhile home in Trump Tower, where he began his pursuit of the presidency in 2015 by descending a golden escalator. The exact timing of the former president’s arrival was unclear, though he was expected to stay the night there before heading to a courthouse in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday.”

“Law enforcement officials and outside experts have not warned of major threats from Trump’s supporters or opponents this week. But New York City officials and police were already girding for protests near the courthouse and outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, where barricades lined the streets for several blocks surrounding the building on Sunday, amid camera crews and curiosity seekers.”

Former Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. was interviewed by Chuck Todd on Meet the Press:

TODD: Why didn’t you charge the hush money case? Why didn’t you ever charge it in 2018, 2019, 2020?

VANCE: Well Chuck, I don’t want to get into the deliberations that might be covered by grand jury material, but it’s, but as I believe you know, I was asked by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District to stand down on our investigation, which had commenced involving the Trump Organization. And as, you know, as someone who respects that office a great deal, and believing that they may have perhaps the best laws to investigate, I did so. And I was somewhat surprised after Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty that the federal government did not proceed on the areas in which it asked me to stand down.

Dan Pfeiffer: “The usual voices are already chastising Democrats for taking the bait. ‘Don’t talk about the indictment; talk about inflation.’ In theory, that advice might make sense. Voters — particularly the ones we need — care more about the cost of groceries, gas, and housing than Donald Trump’s efforts to cover up an affair seven years ago.”

“But the media environment operates differently — we don’t (yet) get to pick the issues that drive clicks and trends on social media. We respond to issues that the press and the algorithms force upon us. And not for nothing, but the indictment is a big deal for Trump, the Republican Party, and the state of politics in America.”

Washington Post: “On Friday, the Trump campaign distributed an email collecting statements from six governors, 26 senators, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and 63 other House Republicans, and 10 state attorneys general, proclaiming “united support” from the party. Trump’s super PAC released a poll showing overwhelming support among Republican primary voters and posted a video that received more than 1 million views on Twitter.”

Even Jeb Bush said the indictment was “very political, not a matter of justice.”

Dan Balz: “The fact that so many in his party rushed to his defense in the hours after news of the indictment came out does not equate to the political judgments that will have to be made when the primary season begins next year. Right now, Trump faces an accounting in the criminal justice system. The political accounting comes later…”

“If Trump is the party’s nominee, as things stand today, he could be reelected, given the divisions that exist in the country and doubts that exist about Biden’s job performance and age.”

Former national security adviser John Bolton argued that the indictment of Donald Trump may ultimately help the former president politically, saying it could be “rocket fuel” that helps him secure the Republican nomination, Fox News reports.  Said Bolton: “I’m not worried about Alvin Bragg hurting Donald Trump. I’m worried about Alvin Bragg benefiting Donald Trump. If Trump is acquitted or he gets the case dismissed because it’s not legally sufficient… that will be rocket fuel because he can say, ‘I told you this was a political prosecution.’”

Former Gov. Chris Christie told ABC News the “bravado” displayed by Donald Trump after being indicted by a Manhattan grand jury is “baloney.”  Said Christie: “He’s going to have to be mugshotted, fingerprinted and he’s going to face a criminal trial in Manhattan, and he’s not going to be able to avoid it. You can’t make that a good day under any circumstances.”

Numerous right-wing pundits who blasted Donald Trump’s indictment were happy to see former Sen. John Edwards criminally charged for similar conduct, Popular Information reports.

“Two senators who voted to convict former President Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — one a Republican and one a Democrat — have raised concerns that Mr. Trump has been improperly targeted by the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, even before they have learned the details of the indictment,” the New York Times reports.

Said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): “It’s just a very, very sad day for America. Especially when people are maybe believing that the rule of law or justice is not working the way it’s supposed to and it’s biased — we can’t have that. But on the other hand, no one’s above the law. But no one should be targeted by the law.”

Said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA): “It’s wrong. I’ll put it this way — no one should be the target of the law. This seems to be more about the person than about the crime.”

Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) explained the “downward spiral” that led to him seeking help for his depression in February, CBS News reports.

Said Fetterman: “It’s like, you just won the biggest race in the country. And the whole thing about depression is that objectively, you may have won, but depression can absolutely convince you that you actually lost. And that’s exactly what happened. And that was the start of a downward spiral.”

He added: “I will be going home. It will be the first time ever to be in remission with my depression. And I can’t wait to [see] what it really feels like, to take it all in, and to start making up any lost time.”

Donal Trump is trying to get elected officials and surrogates to his event on Tuesday night at Mar-a-Lago, per an invite that went out last night, the Washington Post reports.

“An explosion in a St Petersburg cafe has killed prominent Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky,” the BBC reports. “Tatarsky was a vocal supporter of Russia’s war in Ukraine.”

“Russia’s security services are confiscating the passports of senior officials and state company executives to prevent overseas travel, as paranoia over leaks and defections spreads through President Vladimir Putin’s regime,” the Financial Times reports.

“The increased pressure reflects deep suspicion in the Kremlin and FSB, the KGB’s successor agency, about the loyalty of Russia’s civilian elite, many of whom privately oppose the war in Ukraine and are chafing over its impact on their lifestyles.”

Politico: “The rogue band of moderate Democrats has spent weeks constructing a break-glass deal with centrist Republicans in case the country goes all the way to the brink on the debt ceiling. As the summertime deadline for action approaches, they’re worried a prolonged standoff could lead to fiscal disaster.”

“But Biden officials and party leaders, however, see it far differently and are bristling at the attempts at a compromise, according to four lawmakers familiar with the discussions. Their party’s message to those plotting centrists: Your efforts are unlikely to succeed and risk hurting our goal of a clean debt ceiling increase.”

Playbook: “Any Plan B, they fear, will take heat off Republicans, who they believe will eventually swallow a clean debt ceiling increase due to implacable GOP infighting.”

“Finland’s left-wing Prime Minister Sanna Marin conceded defeat on Sunday in the Nordic country’s parliamentary election as the opposition right-wing National Coalition Party claimed victory in a tightly fought contest,” Reuters reports.

 “The Chinese spy balloon that flew across the U.S. was able to gather intelligence from several sensitive American military sites, despite the Biden administration’s efforts to block it from doing so,“ NBC News reports.

“China was able to control the balloon so it could make multiple passes over some of the sites (at times flying figure eight formations) and transmit the information it collected back to Beijing in real time, the three officials said. The intelligence China collected was mostly from electronic signals, which can be picked up from weapons systems or include communications from base personnel, rather than images.”

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

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