Cup of Joe – June 21, 2023

The Washington Post found that “more than a year would pass before prosecutors and FBI agents jointly embarked on a formal probe of actions directed from the White House to try to steal the election. Even then, the FBI stopped short of identifying the former president as a focus of that investigation.”

“A wariness about appearing partisan, institutional caution, and clashes over how much evidence was sufficient to investigate the actions of Trump and those around him all contributed to the slow pace. Garland and the deputy attorney general, Lisa Monaco, charted a cautious course aimed at restoring public trust in the department while some prosecutors below them chafed, feeling top officials were shying away from looking at evidence of potential crimes by Trump and those close to him.”

“A Florida judge has set an initial Aug. 14 trial date for former President Donald Trump in the Justice Department’s case over his retention of classified documents,” The Hill reports.

“Judge Aileen Cannon set the preliminary trial date for roughly two months after Trump’s arraignment at her courtroom in Fort Pierce, Fla. The judge said in a Tuesday filing that all pre-trial motions must be filed by July 24.”

“Trump and his team are expected to push to delay the trial through those motions, however, making it unlikely that the Aug. 14 date will hold.”

“As former president Donald Trump prepares for trial on charges that he repeatedly violated government rules for handling classified information, his legal team may get a tactical timing advantage from an unlikely source: government rules for handling such secrets,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump’s indictment on dozens of charges, including mishandling classified documents and trying to obstruct investigators’ efforts to recover that material, means his case will be tried under the rules of the Classified Information Procedures Act, or CIPA — a law that could, in theory, delay any trial until after the 2024 presidential election.”

William Barr: “For the sake of the country, our party, and a basic respect for the truth, it is time that Republicans come to grips with the hard truths about President Trump’s conduct and its implications. Chief among them: Trump’s indictment is not the result of unfair government persecution. This is a situation entirely of his own making. The effort to present Trump as a victim in the Mar-a-Lago document affair is cynical political propaganda.”

“Here are the plain facts.”

“A magistrate judge has signed off on special counsel Jack Smith’s request that former President Donald Trump and his co-defendant Walt Nauta be prohibited from disclosing information the discovery handed over to the defense in the criminal case Trump and Nauta now face from the special counsel,” CNN reports.

“The order sought by prosecutors and approved by Reinhart was expected and used standard language. However, it comes in a first-of-its-kind federal criminal case against an ex-president who has a proclivity to express opinions on social media and who is being prosecuted, in part, because of his alleged mishandling of sensitive government information.”

Bret Baier absolutely skewered Donald Trump in an interview on Fox News.

“A week after his second post-presidential arrest, this one for his alleged mishandling of classified documents after leaving the White House, Donald Trump turned to Fox News host Bret Baier on Monday to make the case for why he should lead the country again,” Rolling Stone reports.

“But he ended up essentially confessing to the crime of which he’s accused: stealing and sharing top-secret government information.”

Brit Hume offered his reaction on Special Report: “His answers on the matters of the law seem to me to verge on incoherent. He seemed to be saying that the documents were really his and that he didn’t give them back when he was requested to do when they were subpoenaed because, you know, he wasn’t ready to because he sorted them and separated the classified information or whatever from his golf shirts or whatever he was saying. It was not altogether clear what he was saying.”

Donald Trump was interviewed by Bret Baier on Fox News about his indictment for illegally retaining classified documents.

TRUMP: Mike Pence had documents that were classified.

BAIER: And he turned them over.

TRUMP: No, he didn’t turn them over. He got caught. His lawyers found some documents and then he turned them over. Why did he have them? He shouldn’t be saying that, because he had classified documents. And immediately they said, ‘That’s OK.’ And I suppose it’s going to be OK with Biden, too, even though he has them in Chinatown? Even though he has them in Delaware and probably 100 times more than I have?

BAIER: So you are not worried about this case?

TRUMP: Based on the law?  Zero. Zero. Presidential Records Act plus the Clinton case — the Clinton case which was won by Clinton as president because he took he and hid them in his socks. Zero.


TRUMP: Zero. And every good lawyer has said it, and you have seen that. Every good lawyer has said that.

BAIER: Obviously there are others that push back.

TRUMP: This was a weaponization of politics. This was a weaponization of the White House. This was a horrible thing. A candidate that’s leading. I’m leading Biden by a lot. They go out and they weaponize. There is a horrible thing that was done.

“Former President Donald Trump said he did not turn over presidential records to the National Archives because he was busy and had not yet had time to remove personal items from boxes packed at the White House,” Bloomberg reports.

Said Trump: “I wanted to go through the boxes and get all of my personal things out. I don’t want to hand that over to NARA yet. And I was very busy, as you’ve sort of seen.”

CNN: Trump offers dizzying new justifications for classified documents as former Cabinet secretaries sound the alarm.

Chris Christie questioned on CBS News whether “anybody in America” would believe Donald Trump’s explanation that he didn’t have time to sort through the classified documents he took.

Said Christie: “I can tell you this, his lawyers this morning are jumping out of whatever window they’re near.”

He added: “When you think about how many days of golf he’s played since he left office, maybe he could have skipped a couple of rounds of golf and gone through the boxes to respond to a subpoena from a grand jury.”

New York Times: “Criminal defendants usually avoid speaking publicly about details of any charges in their case, for fear of their remarks being used against them. The interview was broadcast on the same day that a federal magistrate judge in Mr. Trump’s case issued a protective order instructing him not to reveal any evidence that had been turned over to his legal team as part of the discovery process.”

“While the interview did not seem to violate that order, his remarks represented some of his most expansive comments about the nearly two years that federal officials spent trying to retrieve material from his presidency that belongs to the government. The comments were also the latest in a string of shifting stories that he and his allies have offered since it became public that officials at the National Archives and Records Administration recovered 15 boxes of material from Mr. Trump in January 2022.”

Erick Erickson: “This was a really, really bad idea for him to do this. It’s no wonder he is struggling to find and retain good counsel. This was just not a good idea on his part to participate in an interview like that.” 

“Mr. Trump’s lawyers had to be cringing during that interview, and DOJ lawyers were no doubt taking notes. Mr. Trump confessed to personally going through the boxes and had no explanation for why classified records from those boxes wound up in his personal desk. He placed himself at the scene of the retention and obstruction. This is the stuff of nightmares for a defense attorney.”— Bradley Moss, former national security lawyer, talking to Newsweek about Donald Trump’s interview last night with Fox News.

“President Biden’s son Hunter has reached a tentative agreement with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to two minor tax crimes and admit to the facts of a gun charge under terms that would likely keep him out of jail,” the Washington Post reports.

“Any proposed plea deal would have to be approved by a federal judge, and it was not immediately clear what day Hunter Biden, 53, might appear in court to enter his guilty plea.”

“The agreement caps an investigation that was opened in 2018 during the Trump administration, and has generated intense interest and criticism since 2020 from Republican politicians who accused the Biden administration of reluctance to pursue the case. The terms of the proposed deal — negotiated with Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, a holdover from President Donald Trump’s administration — are likely to face similar scrutiny.”

Donald Trump on Truth Social:  “Wow! The corrupt Biden DOJ just cleared up hundreds of years of criminal liability by giving Hunter Biden a mere ‘traffic ticket.’ Our system is BROKEN!” Not really. Indeed, it is a sign that the system is working pretty well when the President’s son can be investigated, charged and convicted of crimes. Does anyone believe Trump would have allowed his son to be investigated, charged and convicted if he was President?

Josh Marshall: “It probably goes without saying. But it’s worth remembering and noting this. Joe Biden took the fairly extraordinary step of leaving the Trump-appointed US Attorney in Delaware in place for more than two years into his own term for the sole purpose of not even appearing to interfere or change anything about the management of the investigation into his own son. (For what it’s worth, my recollection is that the man in question, David C. Weiss, has a good reputation, not just another Trump-adjacent hack.) Now it appears to have ended with Biden pleading to two relatively low level tax misdemeanors and a weapons violation which will be set aside if he completes a diversion program. There’s few better examples of the difference between the mores and standards that apply in both parties.”

“House and Senate Republicans have been quick to criticize the plea deal between the Department of Justice and Hunter Biden, arguing Tuesday that the charges brought against President Joe Biden’s son exemplify what they describe as the weaponization of the DOJ,” CNN reports.

“The reaction underscores how the charges brought by the DOJ as the result of a five-year investigation led by a Donald Trump appointee will not deter Republicans on Capitol Hill, particularly GOP lawmakers who control the House and by extension the committees, from pursuing their own probes into the Biden family.”

The Hill: McCarthy doubles down on Biden family probes after Hunter guilty plea deal.

“President Joe Biden offered personal support for his son after the Justice Department announced Tuesday that Hunter Biden would plead guilty to two counts of tax evasion and one firearm offense,” USA Today reports.  “But Biden made it clear he won’t discuss the case publicly.”

“Donald Trump is vowing to upend the decades-old law limiting the ability of presidents to unilaterally withhold federal spending if he is elected to another term, setting up a potential constitutional clash with profound implications for the budget and basic workings of American government,” Semafor reports.

“In a video reviewed by Semafor ahead of its release, Trump says he will attempt to bring a court challenge in order to overturn the Impoundment Control Act — a 1974 law that governs the process presidents must use to either delay or try to outright cancel pots of government spending.”

“President Joe Biden will roll out the glitziest of welcomes for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week. It will be a nod to New Delhi’s rise that masks the complications it brings, including what critics charge is an administration’s prioritization of traditional geopolitics over human rights,” Politico reports.

“Though he leads the world’s largest democracy, Modi has ruled as an autocratic-leaning Hindu nationalist whose government has overseen a crackdown on everyone from journalists to political opposition leaders as part of a larger targeting of Indian Muslims.”

Wall Street Journal: “Modi said ties between New Delhi and Washington are stronger and deeper than ever as India moves to secure what he sees as its rightful place on the world stage at a moment of geopolitical turmoil.”

Reuters: Dozens of US lawmakers urge Biden to raise rights issues with Modi.

Playbook: “As the drama between Speaker Kevin McCarthy and hardline conservatives roils the House, Democratic leaders are watching with total fascination — and giddiness.”

“For years, their own caucus has fallen in line behind a masterful political tactician who bent over backwards to protect her most vulnerable members — and by extension, her majority — often steamrolling progressives in the process. (Yes, we’re speaking of the one and only Nancy Pelosi.) Now, as Democrats see it, McCarthy is doing the exact opposite to protect his own gavel — and playing right into their hands.”

“Since becoming speaker, McCarthy has exposed his “majority makers” to votes on steep cuts to federal programs that benefit millions of Americans and, just last week, the reversal of a Biden administration rule that cracks down on a gun accessory used in several recent mass shootings. Both were priorities of the hard right and exposed members in swing districts to Democratic attacks.”

“House leaders typically give frontliners leeway to break with leadership on these kinds of votes to protect themselves politically. But with only a five-seat majority, Republicans don’t have much wiggle room right now — and that has Democrats ready to pounce.”

Politico: “Much of the GOP’s sweeping Trump-era tax breaks are set to expire in 2025, which will almost certainly push Congress to act on their future. So the 2024 campaign will determine whether Republicans can keep the cuts, Democrats can rewrite them — or, if neither party gets a clean sweep, whether a split government prompts a massive fiscal collision.”

“Both Democrats and Republicans are actively strategizing over how to handle the very real consequences of the tax cliff. First, though, one party has to try to win it all.”

“Control of Congress has become so precariously balanced between the two parties that it may now be subject to the butterfly effect,” CNN reports.

“The butterfly effect is a mathematical concept, often applied to weather forecasting, that posits even seemingly tiny changes – like a butterfly flapping its wings – can trigger a chain of events that produces huge impacts.”

“Because it has become so difficult for either party to amass anything other than very narrow majorities in the House and Senate, the exercise of power in both chambers now appears equally vulnerable to seemingly miniscule shifts in the political landscape.”

“Aileen Cannon, the federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s latest criminal case, has run just four, relatively routine criminal trials in her short tenure on the bench — a stark contrast to the historic and complex proceedings she’s about to undertake related to the former president,” Politico reports.

“There’s one exception, however, to Cannon’s judicial history that has largely escaped scrutiny. For nearly one-and-a-half years, she’s shepherded a complex, 10-defendant health care fraud case to the verge of trial, and in the course has litigated tangled and fraught issues of attorney-client privilege and motions to suppress — some of which could be precursors to battles in the upcoming Trump case.”

Politico: “The court’s May 25 decision shrinking federal wetlands protections took a wrecking ball to an expansive permitting regime that has been in place for nearly 50 years.”

“The 5-4 ruling put at least half the country’s marshes, swamps and other wetlands outside the reach of federal water protections, an outcome that could speed the way for pipelines, power lines, highways and housing projects across the U.S.”

“On Capitol Hill and in the courts, Republican lawmakers and activists are mounting a sweeping legal campaign against universities, think tanks and private companies that study the spread of disinformation, accusing them of colluding with the government to suppress conservative speech online,” the New York Times reports.

“The effort has encumbered its targets with expansive requests for information and, in some cases, subpoenas — demanding notes, emails and other information related to social media companies and the government dating back to 2015. Complying has consumed time and resources and already affected the groups’ ability to do research and raise money.”

“Liz Truss isn’t laughing at the lettuce that outlasted her premiership,” Politico reports.

“Asked Monday about the Daily Star’s live stream of a lettuce that eventually outlasted Truss’ chaotic, market-crashing period in Downing Street, the former British prime minister did not see the funny side.”

Said Truss: “I don’t think it was particularly funny, I think it’s puerile.”

Damon Linker: “The country is walking a dangerous road, with potentially dire consequences. But as much as we might wish that Joe Biden or a future Republican president could simply use the pardon power to drain the “poison out of the system,” in Lowry’s words, there is no such magic wand. Donald Trump got himself into each of these legal messes, and his fate will now ultimately be decided by judges and juries—just as our collective political fate will be determined to a large extent by how Trump and his most devoted supporters respond to these outcomes.”

“The only way out is through.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s wife, a state senator, announced Monday that she will take part in impeachment proceedings against her husband, KHOU reports.

Said Angela Paxton: “Texas law compels each member of the Senate to attend when the Senate meets as a court of impeachment. As a member of the Senate, I hold these obligations sacred and I will carry out my duties, not because it is easy, but because the Constitution demands it and because my constituents deserve it.”

“Video of President Macron downing a bottle of beer in a rugby club changing room has prompted accusations that he is encouraging binge drinking and ‘toxic masculinity,’” the Times of London reports.

“The president chugged the Corona in 17 seconds and then slammed the empty bottle down on a counter to cheers and whoops from players and staff of Toulouse, the French rugby union champions.”  Oh please.   I am liberal as they come and this is not toxic masculinity.  If you think that is toxic, then basically anything a man does is toxic. 

“The bipartisan approach that has dominated federal homelessness policy for more than two decades is under growing conservative attack,” the New York Times reports.

“The policy directs billions of dollars to programs that provide homeless people with permanent housing and offer — but do not require them to accept — services like treatment for mental illness or drug abuse. The approach, called Housing First, has been the subject of extensive study and expanded under presidents as different as George W. Bush and Barack Obama. President Biden’s homelessness plan makes Housing First its cornerstone and cites it a dozen times.”

“But Housing First has become a conservative epithet.”

Wall Street Journal: Homeless numbers rise in U.S. cities.

Robert Bowers, the man who committed the single-largest act of antisemitic terrorism in U.S. history when he killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, in 2018, was convicted of all 63 criminal counts he faced, including hate crimes resulting in death

Democrats in both the House and Senate will try to force votes on abortion access ahead of the upcoming one-year anniversary of the Dobbs decision, Punchbowl News reports.

“More than 30 letters containing a white powder have been received by state officials across Kansas,” the Shawnee Mission Post reports.

President Biden announced over $600 million in climate investments to help coastal communities around the country fight climate change, CNBC reports.

New Hampshire state Sen. Keith Murphy (R) was arrested after allegedly slapping and spitting on a man in a bar, Patch reports.

“A detailed lawsuit filed by a former Apex City Councilman claims that North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (R) started an affair with his wife and engaged in group sex with other people seeking political favor,” WSOC reports.

“Estonia’s parliament approved on Tuesday a law to legalise same-sex marriage, making it the first central European country to do so,” Reuters reports.

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

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