Cup of Joe – June 11, 2023

Peter Baker: “History’s first federal indictment against a former president poses one of the gravest challenges to democracy the country has ever faced. It represents either a validation of the rule-of-law principle that even the most powerful face accountability for their actions or the moment when a vast swath of the public becomes convinced that the system has been irredeemably corrupted by partisanship.”

“Mr. Trump, his allies and even some of his Republican rivals have embarked on a strategy to encourage the latter view, arguing that law enforcement has been hijacked by President Biden and the Democrats to take out his strongest opponent for re-election next year. Few if any of them bothered to wait to read the indictment before backing Mr. Trump’s all-caps assertion that it was merely part of the ‘GREATEST WITCH HUNT OF ALL TIME.’ It is now an article of faith, a default tactic or both.”

Aaron Blake: “Without saying so directly, the indictment offers a counterpoint to Trump defenders’ efforts to whatabout his behavior by comparing it to others like President Biden also having classified documents where they shouldn’t have.”

“All of the indicted conduct pertains to events that occurred after the subpoena for the documents was issued in May 2022. It is not about merely having the documents in the first place.”

“Donald Trump is about to have his fate decided by both jurors and voters,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The indictment of the former president assures that his legal woes will be the focal point of the Republican presidential primary contest, with the possibility he will have to shuttle between courtrooms and the campaign trail. They will also likely be a central element of the 2024 general election, regardless of who is on the ballot, further dividing a politically polarized country.”

“The charges against Trump for mishandling classified documents come as members of each political party already view the others as a threat to the nation, polling shows. Republicans will see the case as a Democratic president persecuting their leading figure, prompting many GOP voters to demand a strong response from their presidential candidates, while Democrats will view Republicans as standing by an alleged criminal.”

Renato Mariotti: “The details of Donald Trump’s new criminal indictment have just emerged but already people wonder whether a trial on these federal charges could be finished before the November 2024 elections.”

“The answer, for a number of reasons, is almost certainly not.”

Washington Post: “That notion — the ironclad separation of law and politics — will now be tested like rarely before in American history.”

“Trump, who is Biden’s predecessor and also his leading 2024 opponent, has now been indicted and charged with crimes that Biden’s own Justice Department is prosecuting. Anything the president says that is critical of Trump will probably be seized upon by Republicans as evidence that he is trying to influence the legal case. Any appearance he makes with his own attorney general, Merrick Garland, will face intense scrutiny and could fuel further attacks.”

From an exchange between Donald Trump and a staffer contained in the indictment released today.

TRUMP: By the way. Isn’t that incredible?


TRUMP: I was just thinking, because we were talking about it. And you know, he said, “he wanted to attack [Country A], and what…

STAFFER: You did.

TRUMP: This was done by the military and given to me. Uh, I think we can probably, right?

STAFFER: I don’t know, we’ll, we’ll have to see. Yeah, we’ll have to try to-

TRUMP: Declassify it.

STAFFER: -figure out a -yeah.

TRUMP: See as president I could have declassified it.

STAFFER: Yeah. [Laughter]

TRUMP: Now I can’t, you know, but this is still a secret.

STAFFER: Yeah. [Laughter] Now we have a problem.

TRUMP: Isn’t that interesting?

“Wouldn’t it be better if we just told them we don’t have anything here?”— Donald Trump, according to one of his lawyers in the indictment, discussing the FBI subpoena for classified documents.

President Biden declined to weigh in on the federal indictment of Donald Trump, USA Today reports. Said Biden: “I have no comment.”  Biden also said he hasn’t spoken with Attorney General Merrick Garland: “And I’m not going to speak with him.”

New York Times: “If one theme emerged from the account presented by prosecutors in the indictment of former President Donald Trump that was unsealed on Friday, it was that even after months of relentless news reporting on the case, Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents was more cavalier — and his efforts to obstruct the government’s attempts to retrieve them more blatant — than was previously known.”

“On nearly every one of its 49 pages, the indictment revealed a shocking example of Mr. Trump’s indifferent attitude toward some of the country’s most sensitive secrets — and of his persistent willfulness in having his aides and lawyers do his bidding in stymying attempts by the government to get the records back.”

The Economist: “The allegations are stunning.”

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Fox News the federal indictment of Donald Trump will “disrupt the nation,” arguing that it violates the principle of equal justice under the law. 

He added: “And we’re not going to stand for it.”

Donald Trump has been attacking special counsel Jack Smith nearly nonstop on Truth Social, claiming he is “deranged” and now labeling him “a coward and a thug,” CNN reports.

“In what is becoming a now all-too-familiar trend, former President Donald Trump’s far-right supporters have threatened civil war after news broke Thursday that the former president was indicted for allegedly taking classified documents from the White House without permission,” Vice News reports.

Said one Trump supporter on The Donald, a rabidly pro-Trump message board: “We need to start killing these traitorous fuckstains.”

Another user added: “It’s not gonna stop until bodies start stacking up. We are not civilly represented anymore and they’ll come for us next. Some of us, they already have.”

“We have now reached a war phase. Eye for an eye.”— Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), on Twitter, after the Donald Trump indictment was made public.

Lawfare: “The indictment of former President Donald J. Trump that was unsealed today by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida represents a beginning in several distinct senses.”

“It is, at one level, the beginning of a single criminal proceeding: an indictment which alleges discrete crimes against two individuals, one of whom happens to have served as President of the United States.”

“It is also, however, the beginning of the broader effort to use federal criminal law as a vehicle of accountability for Trump’s behavior—both in office and following his departure from office. It is, after all, the first federal criminal case against Trump—against whom prior criminal investigations have come up short and other federal and state criminal investigations remain ongoing.”

“And it is, at the same time, the beginning of new era in American political life, one in which federal prosecutions of former presidents are—fortunately or unfortunately, as Trump might say—no longer either unthinkable or an eventuality to be avoided, either by prudential exercises of prosecutorial discretion (as in the case of Bill Clinton) or by preemptive exercises of the presidential power of clemency (as in the case of Richard Nixon).”

“Russia will start deploying tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus after special storage facilities are made ready on July 7-8, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday, Moscow’s first move of such warheads outside Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union,” Reuters reports.

Former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson shocked Britain on Friday by quitting as a lawmaker after being told he will be sanctioned for misleading Parliament,” the AP reports.

“Johnson quit after receiving the results of an investigation by lawmakers over misleading statements he made to Parliament about partygate.”

“The UK’s opposition Labour Party is on track for a landslide victory at the next general election, according to a new poll — with a higher than typical sample size — that is likely ramp up the pressure on Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak,” Bloomberg reports.  “Labour could win 470 seats at the election, with the Tories plummeting to just 129, according to the baseline scenario of an MRP poll by Focaldata, which asked 10,140 people in Great Britain how they intend to vote. That would give Labour a huge majority of more than 140 seats, it said.”

“The figures pressuring Mike Pence to reject Joe Biden’s electoral votes on Jan. 6 were asking him to act ‘unlawfully,’ the chief judge of Washington D.C.’s federal district court ruled in a secret April decision,” Politico reports.

“U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg’s 19-page opinion — which the judge partially unsealed Friday at the urging of media organizations — cleared the way for special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecutors to question the former vice president about his conversations with a wide array of figures who leaned on him to reject Biden’s electors, possibly including Donald Trump.”

“President Biden vowed during his quest for the White House to make the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, a ‘pariah’ over the killing and dismemberment of a dissident. He threatened the prince again last fall with ‘consequences’ for defying American wishes on oil policy,” the New York Times reports.

“Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator, called Prince Mohammed, the oil-rich kingdom’s de facto ruler, a ‘wrecking ball’ who could ‘never be a leader on the world stage.’ And Jay Monahan, the head of golf’s prestigious PGA Tour, suggested that players who joined a rival Saudi-backed league betrayed the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — carried out by hijackers who were mostly Saudi citizens.”

“Now, their words ring hollow.”

“A Republican state attorney last May declined to prosecute six voter fraud cases that involved circumstances strikingly similar to the cases later brought against 20 ex-felons by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ election police unit and statewide prosecutors,” the Orlando Sentinel reports.

“The office of State Attorney Bill Gladson, whose district includes The Villages and five Republican counties, confirmed six convicted sex offenders in Lake County had voted in the 2020 general election.”

“Gladson and his staff concluded, however, that the cases could not be prosecuted because the fraud was not willful — a rationale that attorneys say applies equally to many of the voter fraud cases currently being pursued by the Office of Statewide Prosecution.”

“A $5 million jury verdict that found Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing and defaming writer E. Jean Carroll was ‘grossly excessive’ and he should either get a new trial or have to pay less in damages, the former president’s lawyers contended on Thursday,” NBC News reports.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) “has been accused of ‘seducing’ another woman’s husband into an ‘inappropriate relationship’ that speeded the end of the marriage and ended in the congresswoman taking out a restraining order against the man’s irate wife,” the Daily Mail reports.

The FBI on Thursday arrested a businessman at the center of the scandal that led to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s historic impeachment, a move that came amid new questions about the men’s dealings raised by financial records the Republican’s lawyers made public to try to clear him of bribery allegations,” Politico reports.

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) on Friday appealed a judge’s ruling ordering the names of his bond sponsors be unsealed, The Hill reports.

Former Rhode Island councilman Matthew Reilly (R) was arrested on multiple counts of child molestation, weeks after he was found passed out in his car with drug paraphernalia around him, the Providence Journal reports.

“Former Vice President Mike Pence canceled his planned appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program last night because he didn’t want to address the news Donald Trump had been indicted on charges related to handling classified documents,” The Messenger reports.

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

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