Cup of Joe – May 6, 2023

Former Proud Boys chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and three other members of the extremist group were found guilty Thursday of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, the Washington Post reports.

New York Times: “The verdicts, coming after seven days of deliberations in Federal District Court in Washington, were a major blow against one of the country’s most notorious far-right groups and another milestone in the Justice Department’s vast investigation of the Capitol attack.”

CNN: “The verdict marks the third time that prosecutors have secured convictions for seditious conspiracy in the Justice Department’s historic prosecution of those who breached the Capitol that day.”

Benjamin Wittes: “The Proud Boys convictions, even more than the Oath Keepers convictions several months back, shows the department’s seriousness about and capability in seeking accountability for these highest-level ground actors.”

“The only level that remains untouched is the political echelon—the top of the pyramid.”

“The Jan. 6 investigations will not be judged a success if the special counsel cannot address that final major challenge. But I want to suggest that the department’s success at every other layer of the pyramid, combined with the evident energy of Jack Smith’s investigation ought to generate some confidence.”

“The Justice Department is not playing here.”

“The FBI on Tuesday arrested a Florida man accused of setting off an ‘explosive device’ in the US Capitol tunnel during the attack on January 6, 2021,” CNN reports.

New York Times: “Jared Wise faces four misdemeanor counts, including disrupting the orderly conduct of government and trespassing, after agents received a tip in January 2022 that he had been inside the Capitol.”

“When violence erupted, he shouted in the direction of rioters attacking the law enforcement officers, ‘Kill ’em! Kill ’em! Kill ’em!’”

For those who wonder why Donald Trump still dominates the political news, it’s worth reviewing the headlines of just the last 24 hours.

Here’s what we learned:

  • Attorneys for E. Jean Carroll, who is suing Trump for defamation connected with his alleged rape of her, rested their case.
  • The special counsel investigating Trump’s handling of classified documents is talking to a “confidential witness” who worked at Mar-a-Lago about whether Trump deliberately moved boxes containing documents in order to hide them.
  • They’re also looking at Trump’s handling of security footage.
  • Trump is fighting a “muzzle” on him while he defends himself in a Manhattan criminal case while trying to move the case to the federal courts.
  • The Justice Department is apparently probing Trump’s financial ties to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf.
  • Four members of the far-right extremist Proud Boys were found guilty of seditious conspiracy for their participation in the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The group’s leader, Enrique Tarrio — who has ties to Trump’s inner circle — was not at the Capitol during the riot, but a jury convicted him for inciting the violence.

Not that long ago, any one of these stories could derail a campaign or end a political career. Instead, Trump remains the clear frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.

“Donald Trump will try to move the criminal case brought by the Manhattan district attorney’s office into federal court,” ABC News reports.

Standing on a golf course in Ireland Thursday, former President Trump suggested – against all evidence – he was going to leave early and head back to New York to “confront” the allegations being levied against him in the E. Jean Carroll trial, which he hasn’t attended and where he doesn’t plan to testify in his own defense.

The news of Trump’s remarks made it back to the trial judge, who ended the day by calling Trump’s bluff and giving him until Sunday at 5 p.m. ET to change his mind about testifying at trial.

The trial went slower this week than expected and will spill over into next week.

During Donald Trump’s civil rape trial, the infamous tape in which Trump says, “When you’re a star, they let you do it,” was played back to an expressionless Trump in a taped deposition who had no regrets for his comments: “Historically, that’s true, with stars.”

He added: “If you look over the last million years, I guess that’s been largely true — not always, but largely true, unfortunately or fortunately.”

The transcript of the deposition of Donald Trump by a lawyer for E. Jean Carroll, the writer who accuses him in a civil lawsuit of raping and defaming her, was released in a court filing Friday, CNBC reports.

“Donald Trump, his three eldest children and the Trump Organization failed to turn over emails and other communications in a fraud lawsuit,” Forbes reports.

The New York attorney general’s office also singled out “an unexplained drop-off in emails for Ivanka Trump.”

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds 39% of Americans say they would blame Republicans in Congress if the government goes into default, while 36% say they would blame President Biden and 16% volunteer that they would blame both equally.

That dynamic is similar to the 2011 debt limit showdown, when 42% said they would blame congressional Republicans and 36% said they would blame President Obama. Lawmakers averted a default that year.

“The White House on Thursday expressed openness to a short-term fix to the debt ceiling as the US barrels toward a June default with the full faith and credit of the US government in the balance,” CNN reports.

Punchbowl News: “We should point out one very interesting dynamic in this standoff. The White House is befuddled by McCarthy and has no idea what his strategy is or what he’s trying to achieve. The disconnect between the two sides is alarming given the looming default deadline…”

“To state the obvious, McCarthy has little room to maneuver. His four-seat margin is miniscule. Plus, the House Republican Conference has shifted seismically during the last year. He’ll need a deal that can garner close to half of his conference. And to those saying he wants to keep his speakership — yes, that’s true!”

“A deal that doesn’t win conservative support could end McCarthy’s speakership. We’re not saying that it will, but it can.”

“We can’t overstate this: There are plenty of House Republicans who don’t believe that default would be catastrophic.”

“Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said U.S. adversaries like China and Russia would almost certainly take advantage of a debt default to project chaos in the country to the rest of the world,” Politico reports.

Said Haines: “Generally, both Russia and China would look to perceive — narrate — through information operations such an event as demonstrating the chaos within the United States, that we’re not capable of functioning as a democracy, and the governance issues associated with it.”

“At least two high-profile Russian officials have called on the Kremlin to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine in retaliation for an alleged drone strike on Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin residence and as the prospect of an imminent Ukrainian counteroffensive looms,” the Moscow Times reports.

“In an expletive-laden video filmed in front of a field of corpses, Wagner  mercenary group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin accused Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the head of the army Valery Gerasimov of failing to supply his troops in Ukraine with enough ammunition,” Bloomberg reports.

“He said he will pull his forces out of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, where they’ve been fighting since late last year, on May 10 if he doesn’t get more munitions. That threat came in a separate written appeal to President Vladimir Putin published Friday, echoing a warning he issued late last month.”

The U.S. reported 253,000 new jobs in April, beating expectations once again even as the economy slows, CNBC reports. The unemployment rate fell to 3.4%.

“A cluster of regional banks scrambled on Thursday to convince the public of their financial soundness, even as their stock prices plunged and investors took bets on which might be the next to fall,” the New York Times reports.

Gallup: “Amid turbulence in the U.S. banking system, nearly half of Americans are anxious about the safety of the money they have in accounts at banks or other financial institutions. A total of 48% of U.S. adults say they are concerned about their money, including 19% who are ‘very’ and 29% who are ‘moderately’ worried.”

“Conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo arranged for the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to be paid tens of thousands of dollars for consulting work just over a decade ago, specifying that her name be left off billing paperwork,” the Washington Post reports.

“In January 2012, Leo instructed the GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway to bill a nonprofit group called the Judicial Education Project and use that money to pay Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas, the documents show. The same year, the Judicial Education Project filed a brief to the Supreme Court in a landmark voting rights case.”

Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) told Steve Scully that he read this morning’s story on Justice Clarence Thomas taking more money from billionaire Harlan Crowe with “a combination of sadness and rage” since the story “is getting worse by the day.”

Washington Post: “Tucker Carlson — who was fired by Fox News last week at the height of his popularity and influence in right-wing punditry — has aspirations of moving into a larger role that doesn’t limit him to a single medium… And he is willing to walk away from some of the millions that Fox is contractually obligated to pay him, if that would give him the flexibility to have a prominent voice in the 2024 election cycle.”

“Most ambitiously, Carlson wants to moderate his own GOP candidate forum, outside of the usual strictures of the Republican National Committee debate system.”

“The idea, which he has discussed with Donald Trump, the front-runner for the party nomination, would test his vaunted sway over conservative politics. And it would take a jab at his former employer — Fox is hosting the first official primary debate, which Trump has threatened not to attend — if he can manage to make his grandest plan happen.”

“Fox said in a court filing Wednesday that it settled the monster defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million to ‘buy peace,’ and strongly opposed motions to unseal additional redacted material in the case,” CNN reports.

Said an attorney for Fox: “It would create profoundly perverse incentives the next time parties are encouraged to settle a high-profile trial. After all, if $787.5 million is not enough to buy peace, parties will certainly think twice before settling in the future.”

Los Angeles Times: “For years, Feinstein has swatted down growing concerns about her health, assuring constituents largely through statements to the press that she is still able to serve. But with her prolonged absence from the Capitol this spring, pressure is building on the 89-year-old senator and her staff to provide additional details about her condition.”

“With Democrats holding a bare-bones majority in the Senate, they need Feinstein’s vote to confirm judges, approve Biden Cabinet nominees and potentially avert a debt ceiling default. Senators must be at the Capitol to vote, and are not allowed to do so remotely. The predicament has put into stark relief the challenge of balancing a lawmaker’s privacy against the public’s right to know about the health of their representatives.”

Punchbowl News: “Senators are still unsure when Feinstein will be able to return to Washington, and very few of them have been in direct contact with her.”

Semafor: “At the time, Capitol Hill’s official scorekeepers predicted that the bill’s tax credits for clean energy and green manufacturing would cost about $270 billion over a decade — making it the country’s largest ever investment in decarbonization.”

“But last week, as House Republicans sought to repeal much of the law in their debt ceiling bill, the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation revised the price tag. The new forecast: $468 billion through 2031, the last year covered by both the new and original estimates.”

“Even that total was dwarfed, however, by a Goldman Sachs prediction in March that the IRA would end up costing the government $1.2 trillion dollars while spurring another $1.5 trillion in private green investments.”

“The Florida legislature passed a bill Thursday that will let the state take transgender minors away from their families if they are receiving gender-affirming care,” the New Republic reports.

“The measure now goes to the desk of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has previously expressed support for it and will likely sign it into law.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has deployed the state police to enforce his political agenda — from helping plan the migrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard to rounding up felons who voted, the Washington Post reports.

 “The adult content website Pornhub blocked access in Utah on Monday due to new state laws requiring websites with adult content to verify users’ ages before allowing them to access the platforms,” Axios reports.

When the Utah State Board of Education meets, they will have a controversial topic to discuss — whether the term “climate change” is too politically charged to be taught to students, KTVX reports.

Rolling Stone: “Republicans across the country are now reconsidering no-fault divorce. There isn’t a huge mystery behind the campaign: Like the crusades against abortion and contraception, making it more difficult to leave an unhappy marriage is about control.”

“Top Republicans summoned the bureau chiefs of the five major television networks to the party’s Capitol Hill headquarters this spring for a secret meeting aimed at breaking the country’s 35-year-old system for presidential debates,” the Washington Post reports.

“With everyone in the same room, the Republican National Committee’s leadership wanted to know if the networks would agree to broadcast 2024 general election debates that were sponsored by a third-party organization other than the Commission on Presidential Debates…”

“The bureau chiefs made no definite commitments, these people said, but several expressed openness to the idea if both major candidates agreed — effectively greenlighting the party’s continued efforts to remake the most-watched events of the U.S. presidential campaign season.”

“National test scores released on Wednesday showed a marked drop in students’ knowledge of U.S. history and a modest decline in civics, a sign of the pandemic’s alarming reach, damaging student performance in nearly every academic area,” the New York Times reports.

“The pandemic plunge in U.S. history accelerated a downward trend that began nearly a decade ago, hitting this recent low at a time when the subject itself has become increasingly politically divisive.”

Schedules and emails show deeper relationships between disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein and a range of prominent people, including former Harvard president and Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Key takeaway: “Summers continued to meet with Epstein and seek his help years after Harvard decided it would no longer accept his donations.”

Donald Trump said it’s “very disrespectful” for President Biden not to attend the coronation of Britain’s King Charles.

Rep. Katherine Clark’s (D-MA) daughter was sentenced to probation for assaulting a Boston police officer, the Boston Globe reports.

“More than 300 children, including two 10-year-olds, were found working at McDonald’s restaurants across Kentucky and several other states in violation of federal labor laws,” NBC News reports.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) called his three weekly episode podcast a “critical part of the job” as a senator.

Congressional investigators issued a recommendation that the House Ethics Committee dismiss sexual harassment claims against Rep. George Santos (R-NY), Semafor reports.

Former Maine gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler (I) is pleading guilty to child pornography charges and will go to jail, WMTW reports.

A federal jury on Thursday found former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) not guilty of lying to FBI agents, and failed to convict him of 18 other fraud counts, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

More than 250 business leaders are urging the Senate to confirm acting Labor Secretary Julie Su to helm the department, CNBC reports.

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

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