Cup of Joe – May 23, 2023

Playbook: “White House aides were tight-lipped after the meeting, a sign that the talks remain viable. McCarthy gaggled separately with reporters for nearly 20 minutes, calling his conversation with Biden ‘productive’ and striking a more optimistic tone than earlier in the weekend. The meeting between the two men, he said, is likely to be in the afternoon.”

Politico: “There is hope that the Monday meeting can get them back on track, despite both sides accusing the other of moving the goalposts while heading into the week…”

“The window for a deal is quickly closing. And further complicating the timeline: While the Senate is out this week, the House is slated to be in recess on Friday ahead of Memorial Day weekend — breaks both chambers may have to cut short if negotiators land a deal.”

Ezra Klein: “If the administration declares the debt ceiling unconstitutional, only to have the Supreme Court declare the maneuver unconstitutional, then Biden owns the market chaos that would follow. Who will voters blame in that scenario? Republicans, who say they just wanted to negotiate over the budget, as is tradition? Or Biden, who did something no other president had done and failed?”

“Right now, at last, the positions are clear. The White House is open to budget negotiations but opposed to debt ceiling brinkmanship. Republicans are the ones threatening default if their demands are not met. They are pulling the pin on this grenade, in full view of the American people. Biden should think carefully before taking the risk of snatching it out of their hands and holding it himself.”

Dennis Aftergut: “You don’t need to be a stable genius to know that a bad economy typically hurts the incumbent in a presidential race. And Trump is desperate to get the immunity from prosecution that being elected president would provide him. He’s terrified of what’s coming from Special Counsel Jack Smith. So he’ll apparently nuke the world economy to protect himself.”

“His MAGA minions in the House of Representatives also understand that voters’ first instinct for an economic crisis is to blame the incumbent president. But just in case that point was missed by the few GOP representatives who still worry a bit about what’s best for the country, Trump’s Truth Social post on Friday was sending them a message. He might as well have written, I’ll come after you if you vote to raise the debt ceiling.”

“If the debt crisis roiling Washington were eventually to send the United States crashing into recession, America’s economy would hardly sink alone,” the AP reports.

“The repercussions of a first-ever default on the federal debt would quickly reverberate around the world. Orders for Chinese factories that sell electronics to the United States could dry up. Swiss investors who own U.S. Treasurys would suffer losses. Sri Lankan companies could no longer deploy dollars as an alternative to their own dodgy currency.”

“Federal prosecutors have evidence Donald Trump was put on notice that he could not retain any classified documents after he was subpoenaed for their return last year, as they examine whether the subsequent failure to fully comply with the subpoena was a deliberate act of obstruction by the former president,” The Guardian reports.

“The previously unreported warning conveyed to Trump by his lawyer Evan Corcoran could be significant in the criminal investigation surrounding Trump’s handling of classified materials given it shows he knew about his subpoena obligations.”

The report is based on roughly 50 pages of contemporaneous notes kept by Corcoran and described to the Guardian. Special Counsel Jack Smith has the notes as well as grand jury testimony from Corcoran after the prosecution team succeeded in piercing attorney-client privilege. A federal court ruled there was sufficient evidence to believe that Corcoran’s legal counsel was used in furtherance of a crime.

Corcoran himself searched a storage room at Mar-a-Lago and returned some but – as an FBI search would later reveal – not all of the classified documents retained by Trump: “The federal investigation led by special counsel Jack Smith has recently focused on why the subpoena was not compiled with, notably whether Trump arranged for boxes of classified documents to be moved out of the storage room so he could illegally retain them.”

The notes also apparently contain Corcoran’s impressions of Trump: “In addition to his exchange with Trump, Corcoran described Trump’s facial expressions and reactions whenever they discussed the subpoena. The unusually detailed nature of his notes is said to have irritated Trump, who only learned about them after the notes themselves were subpoenaed.”

Outgoing Trump attorney Timothy Parlatore let loose on Boris Epshteyn over the weekend as he explained his decision to leave the Trump legal team:  “There is one individual who works for him, Boris Epshteyn, who had really done everything he could to try to block us, to prevent us from doing what we could to defend the president.”

“In my opinion, he was not very honest with us or the client on certain things.”

A sealed argument before the DC Court of Appeals on Friday appears to be connected to Special Counsel Jack Smith’s probes, Politico reports: “Ari Holtzblatt, an attorney with the high-powered firm WilmerHale — who has most recently represented Twitter, Google and Meta — argued against Justice Department trial attorney James Pearce, according to filings lodged with the federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Holtzblatt has most frequently represented Twitter in recent months, including in a Supreme Court case in February that resulted in a significant victory for the social media company earlier this week. Pearce is among the DOJ prosecutors working closely with special counsel Jack Smith’s team.

The exact nature of the proceeding remains unknown publicly.

“Ukrainian-American businessman Lev Parnas and his business partner were arrested in 2019, accused by the U.S. government of funneling a Russian oligarch’s money into American political campaigns,” Reuters reports.

“One recipient of Parnas’ donations — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis — has said he was barely an acquaintance.”

“But DeSantis and Parnas worked more closely together than the Republican governor has disclosed, according to a detailed account of their relationship Parnas provided to Reuters and 63 previously unreported text messages from DeSantis to Parnas between May and October 2018, as DeSantis campaigned for governor.”

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) was interviewed by Chuck Todd on Meet the Press:

DONALDS: Trump said the debt ceiling shouldn’t be used as a negotiating wedge when he was president, and when asked why he’s not saying that now, he said because he’s not president.

TODD: Do you realize how absurd that sounds?

“Russia has expanded its list of sanctioned Americans in a tit-for-tat retaliation for the latest curbs imposed by the United States. But what is particularly striking is how much President Vladimir Putin of Russia is adopting perceived enemies of former President Donald Trump as his own,” the New York Times reports.

“None of them has anything to do with Russia policy, and the only evident reason they would have come to Moscow’s attention is because Mr. Trump has publicly assailed them.”

New York Magazine: “The congressman says his sparring with GOP colleagues is just him finally being himself in Washington.”

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) said he will “stay as far away… as possible” from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) after a contentious exchange between the two stemming from an encounter outside the Capitol last week, The Hill reports.

Semafor: “While Trump’s team has privately made it clear that they viewed the CNN town hall as a success and would welcome others, the networks do not want to repeat CNN’s apparent mistakes, and are only seeking one-on-one live or pre-taped interviews with Trump.”

CBS News: “Military contractors overcharge the Pentagon on almost everything the Department of Defense buys each year, experts told 60 Minutes over the course of a six-month investigation into price gouging.”

“Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), one of the country’s most prominent Black Republicans, kicked off his presidential campaign here Monday, emphasizing his personal story while also attacking President Biden,” the Washington Post reports.

“Scott’s betting that highlighting his biography, his Christian faith and a more optimistic message than some rivals, combined with significant campaign cash, will be enough to carry him to the Republican nomination. But he begins polling in the single digits against much better-known competitors.”

Said Scott: “I’m living proof that America is the land of opportunity and not the land of oppression.”

Donald Trump welcomed Scott into the race.

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