Cup of Joe – June 16, 2023

“One of Donald Trump’s new attorneys proposed an idea in the fall of 2022: The former president’s team could try to arrange a settlement with the Justice Department,” the Washington Post reports.

“The attorney, Christopher Kise, wanted to quietly approach Justice to see if he could negotiate a settlement that would preclude charges, hoping Attorney General Merrick Garland and the department would want an exit ramp to avoid prosecuting a former president. Kise would hopefully “take the temperature down,” he told others, by promising a professional approach and the return of all documents.”

“But Trump was not interested after listening to other lawyers who urged a more pugilistic approach, so Kise never approached prosecutors, three people briefed on the matter said. A special counsel was appointed months later.”

“The night before pleading not guilty to federal charges that he broke the law dozens of times by keeping and concealing sensitive government documents in his Florida home, Donald Trump sat down to dinner at his Miami Doral golf resort with his top lawyers, influential advisers — and his alleged co-conspirator,” the Washington Post reports.

“Waltine ‘Walt’ Nauta wasn’t there serving the former president, or escorting famous guests to his table before fading into the background as he has at times in the past.”

“This time, the personal aide, who was charged with conspiring with Trump to hide classified documents from the government, dined at the club’s swanky steakhouse, BLT Prime, as a guest of the former president.”

The Messenger: “Donald Trump famously changed his voting registration from New York to Florida in 2019. Now, if he’s convicted, his new home state might not let him vote for himself.”

“The targeting prosecution of a leading political opponent is the type of thing you see in dictatorships like Cuba and Venezuela.”— Trump attorney Alina Habba, just before Donald Trump was arraigned.

“I will appoint a real special prosecutor to go after the most corrupt president in the history of the United States of America: Joe Biden and the entire Biden crime family.”— Donald Trump, at a campaign event last night.

“There is not an Attorney General of either party who would not have brought today’s charges against the former president.”— Judge J. Michael Luttig, on Twitter.

“Donald Trump faces a formidable task defending against charges that he illegally kept top-secret documents upon leaving the White House in 2021, according to legal experts, who say neither the law nor the facts appear to be on his side,” Reuters reports.

“National security law experts were struck by the breadth of evidence in the indictment which includes documents, photos, text messages, audio and witness statements. They said this made a strong case for prosecutors’ allegation that Trump illegally took the documents and then tried to cover it up.”

Only 290 of 71,954 defendants in federal criminal cases last year – about 0.4% – went to trial and were acquitted, Pew Research reports.

Quinta Jurecic: “Shortly after announcing his indictment last Thursday, Donald Trump posted a video to Truth Social complaining about persecution. Over the course of four minutes, he claimed multiple times that he’d won his reelection bid, asserted his innocence, called the Russia investigation a plot engineered by Hillary Clinton, and insisted that every investigation into his conduct was “a hoax and a scam.” His speeches over the weekend featured a torrent of false claims.”

“During his arraignment yesterday, in contrast, the former president said nothing. According to reporters, he sat silently with his arms crossed while his lawyer entered his plea of not guilty. There would be more bombast yet to come at a speech later that evening. But for that brief period in court, the lies ground to a halt.”

“Trump has built a political juggernaut out of shameless lying. Or perhaps not even lying. It’s practically a cliché at this point to refer to the philosopher Harry Frankfurt’s definition of bullshit, which Frankfurt describes as distinct from, and worse than, a lie, in that the bullshitter doesn’t even care whether or not what he’s saying is true. Trump is a consummate bullshitter—but the courtroom is an inhospitable place for that sort of bluster.”

“Throughout the inquiry into former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified material, his insular world at Mar-a-Lago was rife with intrigue, anxiety and competing motives as investigators sought testimony and evidence from his some of his closest aides, advisers, lawyers and even members of his Secret Service detail,” the New York Times reports.

“Now, with Mr. Trump under federal indictment and with people who currently, or used to, work for him seen as potential prosecution witnesses, the pressure on those around him — both at Mar-a-Lago in Florida and at his summer residence in Bedminster, N.J. — has only increased.”

“Aileen Cannon, the Federal District Court judge assigned to preside over former President Donald J. Trump’s classified documents case, has scant experience running criminal trials, calling into question her readiness to handle what is likely to be an extraordinarily complex and high-profile courtroom clash,” the New York Times reports.

“Squint hard, and you might just see the outlines of an anti-Donald Trump coalition forming in the Senate GOP,” Politico reports.

“It started coming together well before the former president’s latest indictment, when seven Republican senators voted to convict after his second impeachment trial. Now as the party’s 2024 primary field is nearly set, Republican discomfort with Trump is coming more into focus.”

“Trump leads the field in Senate GOP endorsements, with 10 officially on board and potentially more on the way. But some Republican senators are quietly making moves: Four have endorsed non-Trump candidates, a couple more say they want a different nominee, several others grimace when asked about his electoral prospects and even some staunch defenders are staying formally neutral so far.”

Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) said of former President Donald Trump’s indictment that “the emperor has no clothes” and that Republicans should say so, The Hill reports.

Said Bacon: “We need to have Republicans stand up and say that because, come around after the primary, I guarantee you the other party is going to be saying this.”

“When Donald Trump responded to his latest indictment by promising to appoint a special prosecutor if he’s re-elected to ‘go after’ President Biden and his family, he signaled that a second Trump term would fully jettison the post-Watergate norm of Justice Department independence,” the New York Times reports.

“The naked politics infusing Mr. Trump’s headline-generating threat underscored something significant. In his first term, Mr. Trump gradually ramped up pressure on the Justice Department, eroding its traditional independence from White House political control. He is now unabashedly saying he will throw that effort into overdrive if he returns to power.”

“Mr. Trump’s promise fits into a larger movement on the right to gut the F.B.I., overhaul a Justice Department conservatives claim has been ‘weaponized’ against them and abandon the norm — which many Republicans view as a facade — that the department should operate independently from the president.”

“Under indictment and enraged, former President Donald Trump — with the help of Republican allies, social media supporters and Fox News — is lashing out at his successor in the hopes of undermining the charges against him,” the New York Times reports.

“The accusations against Mr. Biden are being presented without any evidence that they are true, and Mr. Trump’s claims of an unfair prosecution came even after Attorney General Merrick B. Garland appointed a special counsel specifically to insulate the inquiries from political considerations.”

“But that hardly seems to be the point for Mr. Trump and his allies as they make a concerted effort to smear Mr. Biden and erode confidence in the legal system. Just hours after his arraignment, Mr. Trump promised payback if he wins the White House in 2024.”

Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN) accused the Justice Department of being overly politicized.  Said Burchett: “This has been the modus operandi… for the DOJ to use this kind of tactic.”He added: “I think it’ll continue until we get their attention. We need to bring them down before the committee, and if not… we need to start talking about cutting their funding.”

“The recent far-right rebellion that brought the House floor to a halt is a bad omen for another rapidly approaching legislative fight: the 2023 farm bill,” Politico reports.

“Major battle lines are forming within the House Republican caucus over the $1 trillion farm bill reauthorization expected to hit the full House this fall — just as Washington is set to descend into another all-consuming battle to fund the government.”

The House effectively killed a resolution to censure Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), voting for a Democratic-led motion to table the measure, The Hill reports.

“The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a 1978 law aimed at keeping Native American adoptees with their tribes and traditions, handing a victory to tribes that had argued that a blow to the law would upend the basic principles that have allowed them to govern themselves,” the New York Times reports.

“The case pitted a white foster couple from Texas against five tribes and the Interior Department as they battled over the adoption of a Native American child.”

Playbook: “It’s mid-June and the Supreme Court still has 21 cases to decide. Most years, the end of a term is defined by maybe one or two giant cases with the potential to upend the political or cultural moment, but we’re now waiting on four likely to have a profound effect on American life — and we could get any of them as early as this morning…”

“This is quite a docket for this late in the term, and court-watchers suggest that the body’s slow start is due in part to a lack of trust among the justices following last year’s leak of the Dobbs decision.”

“Vladimir Putin has said his forces lost 54 tanks in under two weeks of the Ukrainian counter-offensive in a rare admission of battlefield casualties,” The Telegraph reports.

“He refused to reveal more details but insisted the losses were much lower than Ukraine’s, claiming Kyiv had suffered “catastrophic” defeats, including swathes of Western-donated arms.”

Bloomberg: “Putin acknowledged that Russian forces fighting in Ukraine lack sufficient advanced weapons despite a tripling of arms output, as Kyiv’s forces pressed a counteroffensive backed by a new infusion of allied support.”

“The war in Ukraine has fueled Russia’s worst labor crunch in decades after hundreds of thousands of workers fled the country or were sent to the front lines, weakening the foundations of an economy weighed down by sanctions and international isolation,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said his country has started taking delivery of Russian tactical nuclear weapons, some of which he said were three times more powerful than the atomic bombs the US dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945,” Reuters reports.

“Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang told Secretary of State Antony Blinken the US should stop hurting China’s security interests in the name of competition in a call before the American official’s expected trip to Beijing,” Bloomberg reports.

“Qin also urged the US to effectively manage differences to stabilize relations between the world’s two largest economies.”

Wall Street Journal: “Bud Light’s sales have tanked since April, when transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney posted an image on Instagram of a personalized Bud Light can that the brand had sent her as a gift.”

“The Instagram post sparked an uproar, and brewer Anheuser-Busch’s response to the boycott angered even more people.”

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) “is rejecting off-ramps and advice from more senior Republicans to end his hold on military promotions, even as Pentagon officials step up their warnings that the maneuver is compromising America’s security,” Politico reports.

“The Alabama lawmaker’s colleagues have approached him in recent weeks to broker a compromise that would allow roughly 250 senior officer promotions to clear the Senate.”

“The Marine Corps could be without a Senate-confirmed leader in less than a month, thanks to a Republican senator’s blockade of hundreds of senior military promotions,” Politico reports.

“In a highly unusual move, Commandant Gen. David Berger sent out invitations to a ‘relinquishment of office ceremony’ scheduled for July 10. Rather than passing the torch to a new commandant, Gen. Eric Smith, Biden’s nominee to replace Berger, will instead lead the Corps on a temporary basis.”

Former president Barack Obama told David Axelrod that the rise of Donald Trump was related to the fears of having the first African-American president.

Said Obama: “I think it’s fair to say that something like the Tea Party does not get the traction, generate the heat that it does had it not been for the fact that I represented something that looked like something very foreign to some people and scary.”

He added: “I think if you tracked Fox News coverage all the way up through Tucker Carlson talking about, white people are all being replaced and that Democrats are deliberately trying to bring in illegal immigrants and then give them voting rights and welfare checks to buy them off and build a Democratic majority. I think that argument probably gets less traction if it wasn’t me who was president at the time.”

“Federal Reserve officials agreed to hold interest rates steady after 10 consecutive increases, but signaled they are leaning toward raising them next month if the economy and inflation don’t cool more,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

A report found that former British prime minister Boris Johnson repeatedly misled lawmakers over his knowledge of the Partygate scandal and faced a 90-day suspension before he abruptly stepped down from his seat in parliament, The Guardian reports.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset foreign relations and security committee that the Biden administration has held indirect talks with Iran on a “mini agreement” or “an understanding” related to Iran’s nuclear program, Axios reports.

“Taking a new tack in the ideological battle over what books children should be able to read, Illinois will prohibit book bans in its public schools and libraries, with Gov. J.B. Pritzker calling the bill that he signed on Monday the first of its kind,” the New York Times reports.

‘The law, which takes effect next year, was the Democratic-controlled state’s response to a sharp rise in book-banning efforts across the country, especially in Republican-led states, where lawmakers have made it easier to remove library books that political groups deemed objectionable.”

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s chief of staff, Mark Miller, plans to leave the governor’s office, becoming the fifth chief of staff to depart since Noem took office in 2019, Fox News reports.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) didn’t disclose any income from a book that came out in July, the Daily Beast reports.

The White House will continue to use the term “MAGA” a week after the independent Office of Special Counsel declared that doing so is a violation of the Hatch Act, Axios reports.

“Chinese researchers say they have developed the first mind-reading machine capable of turning human thought into spoken Mandarin,” the South China Morning Post reports.

“Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren Price was charged with 10 counts of embezzlement, perjury and conflict of interest on Tuesday, becoming the latest in a years-long parade of elected city officials to face public corruption allegations from state or federal prosecutors,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Bill Gates, Microsoft Corp’s co-founder, is set to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday during his visit to China,” Reuters reports.  “The meeting will mark Xi’s first meeting with a foreign private entrepreneur in recent years. The people said the encounter may be a one-on-one meeting.”

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

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