Cup of Joe – June 6, 2023

Two sources with knowledge of the investigation told CBS that Donald Trump’s legal team “could meet” with Justice Department officials this week on the classified documents case.

The grand jury investigating the case is also expected to reconvene this week.

“The decision by then-President Donald Trump’s campaign to spend more than $1 million for two firms to study whether electoral fraud occurred in the 2020 election has become an increasing focus of federal and state investigators in recent weeks,” the Washington Post reports.

“In recent days, the district attorney in Georgia’s Fulton County has asked both firms to provide research and data as investigators intensify their probe into Trump’s attempt to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.”

“Not only has the office asked for information and data about Georgia, three people familiar with the inquiries said, but it also is seeking other communications with Trump officials and detailed information about the campaign’s activities in other states. The research is likely to be used as the prosecutors try to build a broader case, alleging racketeering.”

“Russian mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has been arguing with top military brass for months, on Friday escalated the feud by accusing pro-Moscow forces of trying to blow up his men,” the Jerusalem Post reports.

“The Ukrainian counter-offensive has not yet begun because Kyiv still lacks sufficient weapons and ammunition to push out the Russians and take back the country, one of President Zelensky’s closest aides has said,” the Times of London reports.

Washington Post: “When Ukraine’s long-awaited counteroffensive finally begins, the fight will be led by brigades armed not only with Western weapons but also Western know-how, gleaned from months of training aimed at transforming Ukraine’s military into a modern force skilled in NATO’s most advanced warfare tactics.”

“Ukraine has cultivated a network of agents and sympathizers inside Russia working to carry out acts of sabotage against Russian targets and has begun providing them with drones to stage attacks,” CNN reports. Perhaps the invasion of Russia is the counteroffensive?

“Russia and Ukraine reported widespread fighting along the war’s front lines as anticipation mounts for a long-planned Ukrainian counteroffensive,” Bloomberg reports.

A new Punchbowl News survey finds 76% of lobbyists say that Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has been more effective than they initially predicted.

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) may have proven his bipartisan negotiating chops by steering a debt ceiling increase through a severely divided Congress, but it came with a price,” The Hill reports.

“Members of the hard-line House Freedom Caucus and their allies are lashing out at the deal, saying it does not include steep enough spending cuts and that McCarthy should not have accepted suspending the debt ceiling beyond the 2024 presidential election, a key demand of President Biden.”

Washington Post: The promises that conservatives say McCarthy broke.

“Republicans and Democrats are touting a hastily-written debt ceiling deal that staves off a devastating U.S. default, but does little to slow a massive buildup of total federal debt now on pace to exceed $50 trillion in a decade,” Reuters reports.

“The deal’s first problem, budget experts say, is it only curbs non-defense discretionary spending, or just about one-seventh of this year’s $6.4 trillion federal budget. Defense, veterans’ care and big-ticket safety-net programs are spared.”

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) claimed that she skipped the debt limit vote as a “no-show protest” but CNN has video showing that she actually tried to make the vote but got there too late.

“With the debt ceiling debate behind them for another two years, vulnerable lawmakers in swing districts — from both parties — are breathing a sigh of relief,” Axios reports.

“Both sides risked potential backlash from their respective ideological flanks, but many feel they came out with a compromise that projects serious governance and puts them on a stronger political footing.”

“The fact that two-thirds of the House GOP — and even eight hard-right Freedom Caucus members — backed the deal will make it harder to target the moderate Republicans in primaries over this issue.”

“Debate surrounding Florida’s new restrictions on gender-affirming care focused largely on transgender children,” the AP reports.

“But a new law that Republican presidential candidate and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed last month also made it difficult – even impossible – for many transgender adults to get treatment.”

“The U.S. Navy has released a video of what it called an ‘unsafe interaction’ in the Taiwan Strait, in which a Chinese warship crossed in front of a U.S. destroyer in the sensitive waterway, a risky incident amid deteriorating Sino-U.S. ties,” Nikkea Asia reports.

“The encounter comes as both countries trade blame for not holding military talks — with disagreements between the two over everything from trade and Taiwan to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — and raises the spectre of future face-offs that could spiral out of control.”

“U.S. officials scrambled jet fighters in a supersonic chase of a light aircraft that violated airspace in the Washington D.C. area and later crashed into mountainous terrain in southwest Virginia,” Reuters reports.  “The jet fighters prompted a sonic boom over the U.S. capital, causing consternation among people in Washington area, in an attempt to catch up with the errant Cessna Citation.”  The small plane eventually crashed in southwest Virginia.  

Wall Street Journal: “The number of homeless people in California grew about 50% between 2014 and 2022. The state, which accounts for 12% of the U.S. population, has about half of the nation’s unsheltered homeless, an estimated 115,000 people, according to federal and state data last year. It also has among the highest average rent and median home prices in the U.S.”

Peter Turchin: “All human societies experience recurrent waves of political crisis, such as the one we face today. My research team built a database of hundreds of societies across 10,000 years to try to find out what causes them. We examined dozens of variables, including population numbers, measures of well-being, forms of governance, and the frequency with which rulers are overthrown. We found that the precise mix of events that leads to crisis varies, but two drivers of instability loom large. The first is popular immiseration—when the economic fortunes of broad swaths of a population decline. The second, and more significant, is elite overproduction—when a society produces too many superrich and ultra-educated people, and not enough elite positions to satisfy their ambitions.”

“These forces have played a key role in our current crisis. In the past 50 years, despite overall economic growth, the quality of life for most Americans has declined. The wealthy have become wealthier, while the incomes and wages of the median American family have stagnated. As a result, our social pyramid has become top-heavy. At the same time, the U.S. began overproducing graduates with advanced degrees. More and more people aspiring to positions of power began fighting over a relatively fixed number of spots. The competition among them has corroded the social norms and institutions that govern society.”

“The U.S. has gone through this twice before. The first time ended in civil war. But the second led to a period of unusually broad-based prosperity. Both offer lessons about today’s dysfunction and, more important, how to fix it.”

Scientific American: “Early in the Covid pandemic, pundits predicted a baby boom because they believed that people who were forced to stay home to avoid the virus had more time to conceive children. Instead the opposite happened: a baby bust. Yet while the country as a whole saw declines in fertility rates in the pandemic’s first year, a recent study suggests that the rates in some states increased.”

“The states and regions that had the biggest declines in fertility were more likely to have a higher percentage of Democrats and nonwhite residents and more social distancing. In contrast, states with more Republicans, fewer nonwhite residents and less social distancing were more likely to experience fertility increases.”

New York Times: “The portrait that emerges from months of interviews with dozens of current and former officials and others who have spent time with him lies somewhere between the partisan cartoon of an addled and easily manipulated fogy promoted by Republicans and the image spread by his staff of a president in aviator shades commanding the world stage and governing with vigor.”

“It is one of a man who has slowed with age in ways that are more pronounced than just the graying hair common to most recent presidents during their time in office. Mr. Biden sometimes mangles his words and looks older than he used to because of his stiff gait and thinning voice.”

“Yet people who deal with him regularly, including some of his adversaries, say he remains sharp and commanding in private meetings. Diplomats share stories of trips to places like Ukraine, Japan, Egypt, Cambodia and Indonesia in which he often outlasts younger colleagues. Democratic lawmakers point to a long list of accomplishments as proof that he still gets the job done.”

The New York Times looks at how former head of CNN, Jeff Zucker, is obsessively trying to undermine the network’s current leader, Chris Licht.

Axios: “Zucker remains in constant contact with CNN stars and is a coveted source for media reporters — at a time when Licht is struggling to control his image and organization.”

“U.S. regulators are preparing to force large banks to shore up their financial footing, moves they say will help boost the resilience of the system after a spate of midsize bank failures this year,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The changes, which regulators are on track to propose as early as this month, could raise overall capital requirements by roughly 20% at larger banks on average.”

“Californians looking to buy a house face some of the country’s most expensive real estate prices and wildfires that threaten scores of housing tracts. Now there’s another obstacle: finding an insurer willing to cover their dream home,” Bloomberg reports.

“State Farm General Insurance Co. said it’s no longer accepting new applications for property and casualty coverage in California last week, a year after Allstate Corp. also paused new policies, worsening what FAIR Plan, a state-mandated insurance pool, called a ‘looming insurance unavailability crisis.’”

“It’s a blow for the nation’s most populous state, which is already struggling with an exodus of residents, many of whom are escaping the high cost of living.”

“Saudi Arabia will cut oil production by 1mn barrels a day in a bid to prop up oil prices, it announced after a fractious meeting of the Opec+ group of producers in Vienna on Sunday,” the Financial Times reports.

“Nearly 80 girls were poisoned and hospitalized in two separate attacks at their primary schools in northern Afghanistan,” The Guardian reports.

“Mexico’s ruling Morena party scored a resounding win in Sunday’s elections for the governorship of Mexico state, the country’s most populous, bolstering the party’s dominant position a year before presidential elections,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

OMB Director Shalanda Young testifies before the Senate Budget Committee on the President’s FY2024 budget proposal on Wednesday. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will testify before the Senate Finance Committee on the same subject on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the House Homeland Security Committee will hold a field hearing in Pharr, Texas titled “Failure By Design: Examining Secretary Mayorkas’ Border Crisis.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee takes up nine judicial nominations on Thursday.

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

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