Cup of Joe – June 29, 2023

“Former President Donald Trump insisted on Tuesday that he was not showing off classified documents in an audio clip first published by CNN in which he referred to ‘highly confidential’ material and ‘secret information’ that he could no longer declassify,” Semafor reports.

Said Trump: “I would say it was bravado, if you want to know the truth, it was bravado. I was talking and just holding up papers and talking about them, but I had no documents. I didn’t have any documents.”

Donald Trump was asked by Fox News about the audio recording of him reportedly showing classified documents to a book writer and publisher.

Said Trump “What did I say wrong on those recordings? I didn’t even see the recording. All I know is I did nothing wrong. We had a lot of papers, a lot of papers stacked up. In fact, you hear the rustle of the paper. And nobody said that I did anything wrong other than the fake news, which is Fox, too.”

New York Times: “Mar-a-Lago grabbed headlines last August after federal agents descended on the compound and hauled away a trove of more than 100 classified documents, and the pictures of boxes of presidential records piled there — including in a bathroom — helped explain why prosecutors chose to indict him this month.”

“But Bedminster, where Mr. Trump spends his summers, has turned out also to have been a focus of investigators, a flashpoint in the conflict between prosecutors and Mr. Trump’s lawyers, and the scene of a central episode in Mr. Trump’s indictment: a meeting in which he was recorded showing off what he described as a ‘highly confidential’ plan to attack Iran.”

Donald Trump’s body man “charged in the classified documents case had his arraignment on Tuesday delayed for a second time to July by a magistrate judge, after he was forced to abandon his top choice Florida lawyer over a dispute about legal fees,” The Guardian reports.

“The reason for the rate hike was not clear, but at least one Florida lawyer who had seriously considered representing Nauta decided several days ago that the reputational and legal risks of working with Trump’s co-defendant in the documents case were too great.”

“The Defense Department memo on Iran — at the heart of the now-public audio recording that captured a July 2021 meeting with former President Donald Trump — is not part of the 31 counts of willful retention of national defense information charged in special counsel Jack Smith’s indictment of the former president,” CBS News reports.

“The Justice Department’s investigation of efforts by Donald Trump and his advisers to overturn the 2020 election results is barreling forward on multiple tracks, with prosecutors focused on ads and fundraising pitches claiming election fraud as well as plans for ‘fake electors’ that would swing the election to the incumbent president,” the Washington Post reports.

“Each track poses potential legal peril for those under scrutiny, but also raises tricky questions about where the line should be drawn between political activity, legal advocacy and criminal conspiracy.”

“A key area of interest is the conduct of a handful of lawyers who sought to turn Trump’s defeat into victory by trying to convince state, local, federal and judicial authorities that Joe Biden’s 2020 election win was illegitimate or tainted by fraud.”

“The Supreme Court’s rejection of a controversial election theory may also have another huge political consequence for future presidential contests: It obliterated the dubious fake elector scheme that Donald Trump deployed in his failed attempt to seize a second term,” Politico reports.

In a surprising ruling, the Supreme Court yanked the rug out from under the 2020 fake electors scheme with its significant decision yesterday in Moore v. Harper.

The high court put a decisive end to the cockamamie independent state legislature theory, which was birthed in the colossally bad Bush v. Gore decision and embraced by the slapdash Trump legal team in the aftermath of his 2020 loss.

It was the independent state legislature theory that placed outsized importance on blocking the Jan. 6 certification of the Electoral College vote, which in turn led to the attack on the Capitol.

Rick Hasen: “It is indeed a cause for celebration that the United States Supreme Court, on a 6-3 vote in Moore v. Harper, rejected an extreme version of the ‘independent state legislature’ theory that could have upended the conduct of elections around the country and paved the way for state legislatures to engage in election subversion.”

“But after the celebration comes the inevitable hangover, and with all the hoopla it is easy to miss that the Supreme Court has now set itself up, with the assent of the liberal justices, to meddle in future elections, perhaps even deciding the outcome of future presidential elections (as it has done in the past). Chief Justice John Roberts drove a hard bargain.”

“Lawmakers are looking ahead to the 2024 election as a pivotal opportunity to shape the future of the Supreme Court because of the possibility that conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, 75, and Samuel Alito, 73, could retire,” The Hill reports.

“The Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed the conviction of a man who made extensive online threats to a stranger, saying free speech protections require prosecutors to prove the stalker was aware of the threatening nature of his communications,” the Washington Post reports.

“In a 7-2 ruling authored by Justice Elena Kagan, the court emphasized that true threats of violence are not protected by the First Amendment.”

“But to guard against a chilling effect on non-threatening speech, the majority said states must prove that a criminal defendant has ‘disregarded a substantial risk that his communications would be viewed as threatening violence.’”

“Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday unveiled a sweeping plan to overhaul the nation’s immigration system and ramp up border enforcement, vowing to end birthright citizenship, ‘repel the invasion’ at the U.S. southern border and use the ‘levers at our disposal’ to ensure cooperation from Mexico,” the Miami Herald reports.

Attorneys for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday asked a federal court to dismiss Disney’s political retaliation lawsuit, arguing that he and at least one other defendant are “immune” because the company lacks standing to sue them, CNBC reports.

Jeffrey Toobin: “Linda Fairstein and Yusef Salaam—their names emerge from the mists of semi-recent New York history. Their fates became linked on April 19, 1989, when the woman who became known as the Central Park jogger was assaulted. Fairstein was a prosecutor in the case, Salaam a defendant. She won a conviction; he went to prison. But in the years that followed, they have all but changed places, with their lives and reputations following contrasting sine curves.”

“Today, Fairstein lives in a kind of exile on a small island off the west coast of Florida. Salaam, who was ultimately cleared in the jogger case, shakes hands at subway stops in Harlem nearly every morning, with the same practiced pitch: ‘I’m Yusef Salaam, one of the Exonerated Five. I’m running for City Council, and I’d like your support.’ Election Day is June 27.”

“President Joe Biden is eager to take full political ownership of the U.S. economy — a reflection of the White House belief that inflation is fading, job growth is solid and voters need to know about it,” the AP reports.

“But polling has consistently shown the economy to be a weak spot for Biden’s reelection hopes. Just 33% approve of his leadership on the issue.”

“In a Chicago speech on Wednesday, Biden will begin a new effort to actively convince a worried public that the U.S. economy is not heading for recession but actually thriving because of his leadership.”

The Washington Post takes a deep dive into the White House’s new “Bidenomics” pitch — including where the tagline came from and what Biden is trying to do with it.

Bloomberg: Biden says he thinks U.S. will avoid potential recession.

“House Republicans are using the powers of their majority to carry out Donald Trump’s quest for retribution against his political adversaries, bolstering the indicted former president’s 2024 campaign message that he is the victim of a wide-ranging conspiracy by ‘villains’ who must be brought down,” NBC News reports.

“The battle to avenge Trump began on the first day of the new Congress, and it has grown nearly six months into the GOP majority, led by Trump’s staunchest allies in the conference and usually getting a helping hand from Speaker Kevin McCarthy.”

“A judge on Tuesday indicated that he was likely to deny a request from lawyers for Donald Trump to move a New York State criminal case against the former president to federal court,” the New York Times reports.

“Donald Trump’s lawyers [asked] a U.S. federal judge on Tuesday to transfer from state court a criminal case accusing the former president of falsifying business records tied to a hush money payment to a porn star,” Reuters reports.

“Trump asserts that federal court is the proper venue for the case, arguing that his actions were related to the presidency, that the charges involve federal election law, and that he is immune from state prosecution.”

“More than $200 billion may have been stolen from two large Covid-19 relief initiatives, according to new estimates from a federal watchdog investigating federally funded programs that helped small businesses survive the worst public health crisis in more than a hundred years,” the AP reports.

“The numbers issued Tuesday by the U.S. Small Business Administration inspector general are much greater than the office’s previous projections and underscore how vulnerable the Paycheck Protection and Covid-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs were to fraudsters.”

“Rudy Giuliani has been interviewed by federal investigators as part of the special counsel’s investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election results,” CNN reports.

“Mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin planned to capture Russia’s military leadership as part of last weekend’s mutiny, Western officials said, and he accelerated his plans after the country’s domestic intelligence agency became aware of the plot,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The plot’s premature launch was among the factors that could explain its ultimate failure after 36 hours, when Prigozhin called off an armed march on Moscow that had initially faced little resistance.”

Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin has arrived in Belarus, according to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, CNN reports.

“Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he persuaded Russian President Vladimir Putin not to ‘wipe out’ mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, in response to what the Kremlin cast as a mutiny that pushed Russia towards civil war,” Reuters reports.

“Putin initially vowed to crush the mutiny, comparing it to the wartime turmoil that ushered in the revolution of 1917 and then a civil war, but hours later a deal was clinched to allow Prigozhin and some of his fighters to go to Belarus.”

“A senior Russian general had advance knowledge of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s plans to rebel against Russia’s military leadership, according to U.S. officials briefed on American intelligence on the matter, which has prompted questions about what support the mercenary leader had inside the top ranks,” the New York Times reports.

“The officials said they are trying to learn if Gen. Sergei Surovikin, the former top Russian commander in Ukraine, helped plan Mr. Prigozhin’s actions last weekend, which posed the most dramatic threat to President Vladimir Putin in his 23 years in power.”

“The failed revolt has given Russian president Vladimir Putin a stark choice — whether to fire the generals or let them remain in command of his faltering invasion of Ukraine, with both options carrying a significant risk of further blowback both for the war and his regime,” the Financial Times reports.

Solid majorities of Americans support providing weaponry to Ukraine to defend itself against Russia and believe that such aid demonstrates to China and other U.S. rivals a will to protect U.S. interests and allies, according to a Reuters/Ipsos survey.

Jon Huntsman, who Donald Trump appointed to serve as his U.S. Ambassador to Russia, nearly broke out laughing when asked about his former boss’ claim that he will resolve the war in Ukraine in 24 hours if he’s re-elected.

Said Huntsman: “I just think that’s just nonsense… To say I can fix this in a day is ridiculous and does not comport with reality.”

“Public support for Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has dropped to its lowest level in four years as her party becomes caught up in a wave of #MeToo allegations,” the South China Morning Post reports.

The Washington Post has obtained internal Twitter records, including a copy of a Jan. 5, 2021, video call, that show Twitter leaders discouraged the platform’s trust and safety staff members from removing tweets they felt were calls for violence in the wake of Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss.

The video and the other documents, which were collected by the Jan. 6 committee but not released, undermine current Republican efforts in Congress to build a case that the tech companies were “weaponized” against conservative ideas.

“Freshly declassified U.S. government intelligence about the origins of the covid-19 pandemic reveals some new insights into China’s virus research but no additional clarity about how the global outbreak began and is unlikely to settle that debate, which has exacerbated tensions between Washington and Beijing and fueled a heated dispute among scientists, lawmakers and government officials,” the Washington Post reports.

Wisconsin state Rep. Chuck Wichgers (R) railed against contraception, arguing that it leads to infidelity and a “proliferation of STDs.”  Said Wichgers: “It opens up the door to marital infidelity, and it did. The government might force contraceptives upon married couples; that’s happened in other countries. So, the government gets to have a role—they get to play “supreme ruler.”

“Attorney General Merrick Garland is set to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee Sept. 20,” Punchbowl News reports.

“Garland has been a target of House Republicans for months now, and Speaker Kevin McCarthy has suggested that he may open impeachment proceedings in July.”

“At issue is the Justice Department’s handling of the plea bargain agreement announced last week for Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son, on federal tax and gun charges. Republicans – who say the younger Biden got a ‘slap on the wrist’ – are demanding the appointment of a special counsel in the case.”

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

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