Cup of Joe – June 13, 2023

In the wake of the Mar-a-Lago indictment there were echoes of Trump’s call to arms before Jan. 6, urging supporters to protest his first court appearance tomorrow.

“Federal and local authorities on Sunday amped up security preparations ahead of Donald Trump’s first appearance in federal court on criminal charges here, monitoring online threats and potential gatherings of far-right extremists while marshaling more police officers to be on duty,” the Washington Post reports.

“Escalating violent rhetoric in online forums, coupled with defiant statements from the former president and his political allies, have put law enforcement officials on alert for potential disruptions ahead of Trump’s court appearance.”

There’s two levels of analysis here: (i) the immediate risk assessment of something bad happening today; and (ii) the broader threat posed by the injection of political violence – or even the threat of violence – into the public dialogue.

As for today, my general sense from people who track these things closely, is that there’s insufficient time and coordination among MAGA and other extremists groups to pull off a Jan. 6-like disturbance in Miami. Not no risk, but low risk.

Former Homeland Security official Juliette Kayyem agrees: “The words are hot, the coordination is not. This is not January 6th. The more established right wing groups are disorganized, leaders are in jail, they’ve turned against each other.”

The bottom line is this week is more likely to see lone-wolf or one-off acts of violence inspired by heated rhetoric from Trump and others than an mob attack on the courthouse in Miami or on law enforcement there. But don’t take that as reassuring. It was shortly after the Mar-a-Lago raid last August that a gunman attacked the FBI field office in Cincinnati.

As for the broader emergence of political violence and rhetoric tinged with violence, we continue to be in a very bad place.

“Political violence experts say that even if aggressive language by high-profile individuals does not directly end in physical harm, it creates a dangerous atmosphere in which the idea of violence becomes more accepted, especially if such rhetoric is left unchecked,” the NYT reported.

“Donald Trump plans to huddle with his legal team Monday at his Miami-area resort in Doral to discuss bolstering his legal team ahead of his Tuesday federal court appearance in the classified documents case,” The Messenger reports.

“The former president has been trying to hire lawyers in the Southern District of Florida, but it’s a challenge because of his polarizing nature and reputation as a difficult client.”

“Alina Habba, an attorney for former President Trump, said that the Trump would not take a plea deal in connection to his federal indictment in handling classified documents,” The Hill reports.

Said Habba: “You take a plea deal to make something go away. That’s an admission of guilt. He would never admit guilt because there was nothing wrong with declassifying documents taking documents with you negotiating with National Archives.”

“If even half of it is true, he is toast. I mean, it’s a very detailed indictment, and it’s very, very damning.”— Former Attorney General Bill Barr, on Fox News, on Donald Trump being indicted.

Donald Trump slammed former Attorney General Bill Barr as a “gutless pig” on Roger Stone’s new radio show, the Daily Beast reports. Said Trump: “I think he’s a coward who didn’t do his job. He was desperately afraid of being impeached.”

He added: “I think he’s more weak than anything else. And now he goes and he sits down and—if they can find a chair for him, because it’s not that easy—and he sits down and he just bloviates and it’s disgraceful. He’s so it’s actually unpatriotic. It’s so bad for our country. Just so bad, but yet he’s got a lot of hatred. I fired him for just not doing his job.

Just Security applies the federal sentencing guidelines to Donald Trump’s case.  TLDR: 22 to 30 years.

“We got to stand up to the radical left Democrats, their lawless partisan prosecutors… Every time I fly over a blue state, I get a subpoena… I’ve put everything on the line and I will never yield. I will never be detained. I will never stop fighting for you.”— Donald Trump, quoted by The Guardian, in a defiant speech over the weekend.

 “This is the final battle.”— Donald Trump, quoted by the New York Times, on the federal indictment against him.

“My wife would divorce me and my kids wouldn’t talk to me if I defended Trump.”— A lawyer who was asked to work for Donald Trump, quoted by The Messenger.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) argued that in the wake of Donald Trump’s unprecedented federal indictment most conservatives see the case as politically motivated and Trump will emerge “stronger” in his reelection campaign, ABC News reports.

Said Graham: “I think Donald Trump is stronger today politically than he was before… We’ll have an election and we’ll have a trial, but I promise you this: Most Americans believe, most Republicans believe, that the law is used as a weapon against Donald Trump.”

The NYT’s Charlie Savage dug in deep on how U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon ended up assigned the Trump criminal case in Florida. In short, there was nothing unusual or untoward about her receiving the assignment. But the key takeaway is that unless she decides to recuse herself, it looks like the case is with her for the long haul, not just initially, as was reported last week.

“The federal indictment of Donald Trump, unsealed on Friday, was filled with startling new accounts of how the former president allegedly mishandled classified information. But the revelation of who would oversee the case could present unique challenges for the Justice Department,” NBC News reports.

“Aileen Cannon, a former prosecutor in her early 40s who has spent two and a half years on the bench, is the same Trump appointee who repeatedly ruled in his favor in a related case. She will now oversee a trial that experts believe could influence the American public’s trust in the fairness of the court system for years to come. Cannon will guide how quickly the case goes to trial, oversee the selection of jurors and determine what evidence can be presented to the jury.”

Jeffrey Blehar: “The indictment can be found here. Come and see. Come one, come all, and read it. The text is lucid, the case is made with a minimum of jargon, and it hits like multiple icepick blows to the skull. Do not willingly keep yourself ignorant of its enormity because you would prefer to huddle in a tortoise-shell defensive crouch. There aren’t merely claims, there are evidentiary submissions, including remarkable photographs and excerpts of recorded conversations.”

“Trump is nailed dead to rights, and what matters most of all is that it’s not on some technical offense. What he was doing, before only a physical raid on Mar-a-Lago stopped this madness, turns out to have been less an act of mere carelessness than an active threat to United States national security, one fueled solely by Trump’s demented behavior and sense of self-entitlement.”

“Donald Trump’s attorneys play a startling role in the federal criminal indictment against him, described not only as unwitting participants in crimes he’s charged with, but also as key potential witnesses in the government’s case,” Bloomberg reports.

New York Times: “Mr. Corcoran’s notes, first recorded into an iPhone and then transcribed on paper, essentially gave prosecutors a road map to building their case. Mr. Trump, according to the indictment, pressured Mr. Corcoran to thwart investigators from reclaiming reams of classified material and even suggested to him that it might be better to lie to investigators and withhold the documents altogether.”

“Earlier this year, over Mr. Trump’s objections, the special counsel overseeing the investigation, Jack Smith, obtained the notes through an invocation of the crime-fraud exception. That exception is a provision of the law that allows prosecutors to work around the normal protections of attorney-client privilege if they have reason to believe and can demonstrate to a judge that a client used legal advice to further a crime.”

“The case of U.S. v. Donald Trump will pit a Justice Department prosecution backed by meticulous detail against a defense expected to play down the significance of the criminal charges and point to the vast powers of the presidency,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Trump’s legal team is likely to seize on two key factors as it mounts a courtroom defense against a detailed 37-count indictment brought by special counsel Jack Smith: his past presidential powers to declassify documents and the looming 2024 election, for which Trump is the early Republican front-runner. It will also seek to benefit from the trial’s Florida venue.”

New York Times: “Mr. Nauta’s story is, among other things, a cautionary tale about what loyalty to Mr. Trump can bring. After serving his country in the military and serving as a valet in the White House, Mr. Nauta stayed with Mr. Trump as a personal aide — and now faces the prospect of years in federal prison for having apparently carried out his wishes.”

“Until now largely unknown to the public, Mr. Nauta has been thrust into the spotlight as a low-level but central figure in the conspiracy being alleged by prosecutors. Mr. Nauta, who has been on Mr. Trump’s campaign payroll, was part of Mr. Trump’s traveling retinue during a trip to Georgia and North Carolina on Saturday.”

“Ukrainian military officials said Monday their troops have retaken another southeastern village from Russian forces, among the first — small — successes in stepped-up counteroffensive operations as the war drags on into its 16th month,” the AP reports.

“North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to ‘hold hands’ with Russian President Vladimir Putin and bolster strategic cooperation on their shared goal of building a powerful country,” Reuters reports.

New York Times: “Silvio Berlusconi, the brash media mogul who revolutionized Italian television using privately owned channels to become the country’s most polarizing and prosecuted prime minister over multiple stints in office and an often scandalous quarter-century of political and cultural influence, died on Monday at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan. He was 86.”

Punchbowl News: “The nearly week-long stalemate between McCarthy and his conservative critics hasn’t been resolved as of Sunday night, so the floor outlook for this week is up in the air.”

Playbook: “The group’s gripes have been hard to pin down, with wide-ranging accusations of broken promises and strong-arm tactics aimed at various GOP leaders. But the upshot of their protest is simple: McCarthy cannot move any significant legislation across the House floor until the rebel faction is brought back into the fold.”

“And as of this morning, there’s no sign that has happened. The hard-liners are still grumbling and are considering tanking more bills teed up for floor action this week.”

“It’s going to be one heck of a week for the Republican Party,” the Washington Post reports.

“Former president Donald Trump will be arraigned in federal court. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) faces an ongoing revolt among the far-right members of his conference, and divisions in some state Republican parties are on full display.”

“Taken together, these issues underscore the turmoil in the GOP at a moment when it is trying to focus on taking back the White House and the Senate while keeping control of the House.”

Bloomberg: “Federal Reserve officials are ready to take a breather after more than a year of driving up interest rates, a move that’s likely to be accompanied by a strong signal that they’re prepared to keep hiking if needed.”

Politico: “Wall Street investors, who until just weeks ago were betting that Powell would start cutting rates in the coming months, are now expecting the Fed to keep costs high through at least the rest of the year, as both the job market and inflation have stayed stronger than expected.”

Semafor: “Later this month, the company will begin arbitration with former host Chris Cuomo over his $125 million claim he was wrongly fired in in 2021. The New York proceeding includes previously undisclosed text messages in which CNN’s parent company, then known as WarnerMedia, sought to use the news network’s close relationship with then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo — Chris’ brother — to advance Warner’s commercial interests.”

“Donald Trump is set to host the first fundraiser for his 2024 campaign on Tuesday evening, hours after he is expected to be arraigned in a Miami courtroom,” Politico reports.

“The campaign said it expects to raise $2 million at the event, helping to pad the former president’s coffers just weeks before the end of the second-quarter deadline and as Trump gears up for what could be a long and expensive nomination fight.”

Politico: “Relatively obscure nominations are turning into Senate knife fights as 2024 approaches. And the Commerce Committee is the center of the action. So far this year, three Biden picks for executive-branch positions withdrew because they lacked enough support in the committee, which has four Democratic members up for reelection in swing states next fall.”

“And when Republicans stick together — under the surprising leadership of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) — that can cause problems.”

“John Eastman, an architect of Donald Trump’s last-ditch bid to subvert the 2020 election on Jan. 6, is about to go on trial — but not in a criminal court,” Politico reports.

“Rather, the attorney is fighting to save his California bar license from authorities who say he repeatedly breached professional ethics — and possibly the law — in his bid to keep a defeated Trump in power. And those proceedings, while not as prominent as the Jan. 6 select committee or as potentially punitive as a criminal prosecution, are slated to elicit some of the most revealing and comprehensive testimony from figures who aided Trump’s effort to derail the transfer of power.”

“A group of Democratic-aligned organizations are teaming up on seven-figure campaign to elevate the importance of the Supreme Court in the 2024 election cycle,” NBC News reports.

“The campaign — called United for Democracy — will kick off Monday with a $1 million ad buy in five states with pivotal Senate races next year, highlighting how a raft of recent Supreme Court decisions rolling back reproductive rights, union protections and gun and environmental regulations has impacted Americans.”

Liberal billionaire and philanthropist George Soros is turning over control of his Open Society Foundations to his 37-year-old son Alex, who told the Wall Street Journal that he’s “more political” than his father.

Fox News sent a “cease and desist” letter to ex-host Tucker Carlson after he launched his new series on Twitter, Axios reports.

Denée Benton referred to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) as the “grand wizard” of Florida during Sunday’s Tony Awards ceremony.

JPMorgan Chase said it has agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging the financial institution facilitated Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking operation, the Wall Street Journal reports.

 “Former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been arrested in connection with the ongoing investigation into the funding and finances of the SNP,” the BBC reports.

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

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