Cup of Joe – June 30, 2023

“The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina were unlawful, curtailing affirmative action at colleges and universities around the nation, a policy that has long been a pillar of higher education,” the New York Times reports.

“The vote was 6 to 3, with the court’s liberal members in dissent.”

Washington Post: “The justices deciding whether affirmative action recognizes and nourishes a multicultural nation, or impermissibly divides Americans by race, represent the most diverse Supreme Court in history. It is composed of four White men, two White women, one Black man, one Black woman and a Latina.”

Interestingly, military academies are exempted from the decision.

“The Supreme Court says American colleges can no longer consider race in their admissions decisions. Instead, they can try to build racially diverse campuses through less-direct means. Experience suggests that is going to be a hard slog,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Rick Hasen argues that the timing and order of the release of Supreme Court decisions this week was calculated to disarm critics so that today’s gutting of affirmative action was preceded by good news.

A new Monmouth poll finds 80% of Americans believe racial and ethnic discrimination is a problem in the United States, including 61% who say it is a big problem.   Just 21% say it is not a problem.

“With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces ‘colorblindness for all’ by legal fiat. But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.”— Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, in her dissent to today’s Supreme Court decision curtailing affirmative action.

“The White House has been preparing for months for a potential Supreme Court ruling gutting affirmative action, even as President Joe Biden expressed optimism late last year that the court would uphold consideration of race in college admissions,” CNN reports.

“Biden on Thursday directed the Department of Education to develop a list of best admissions practices to help colleges and universities maintain their commitment to diversity despite the ruling. Biden administration officials are working to finalize additional actions.”

“This is not a normal court.”— President Biden, commenting on the Supreme Court’s ruling against affirmative action.

Rudy Giuliani “was interviewed last week by federal prosecutors investigating Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election,” the New York Times reports.

“The voluntary interview, which took place under what is known as a proffer agreement, was a significant development in the election interference investigation led by Jack Smith, the special counsel, and the latest indication that Mr. Smith and his team are actively seeking witnesses who might cooperate in the case.”

“A proffer agreement is an understanding between prosecutors and people who are subjects of criminal investigations that can precede a formal cooperation deal. The subjects agree to provide useful information to the government, sometimes to tell their side of events, to stave off potential charges or to avoid testifying under subpoena before a grand jury. In exchange, prosecutors agree not to use those statements against them in future criminal proceedings unless it is determined they were lying.”

“The session with Mr. Giuliani, the people familiar with it said, touched on some of the most important aspects of the special counsel’s inquiry into the ways that Mr. Trump sought to maintain his grip on power after losing the election to Joseph R. Biden Jr.”

This doesn’t mean Giuliani is cooperating with Smith, or is about to. It doesn’t mean he’s flipped on Trump. It could mean those things. It raises the prospect of those things. But it’s not a confirmation that that is what is happening. Still, it suggests a few things.

It takes a legit level of negotiations just to get to the point of having a proffer session. So safe to say quite a few things have been swirling in the background out of our view.

It also suggests Giuliani is feeling legit pressure from Smith. A proffer session isn’t a casual, routine, or incidental development. It generally means Giuliani is trying to get out from under something coming down the pike. The “something” could be a grand jury subpoena, a potential indictment, or some other forcing mechanism that he is trying to sidestep.

“The special counsel’s office is continuing to investigate around Donald Trump’s handling of documents after his presidency ended,” CNN reports.

“That includes continued grand jury activity in Florida and inquiries of witnesses, though it is not yet clear what aspects of the investigation the prosecutors are still pushing toward.”

“The Department of Justice is prepared to seek indictments against multiple figures in former president Donald Trump’s orbit and may yet bring additional charges against the ex-president in the coming weeks,” The Independent reports.

“According to sources familiar with the matter, the department has made preparations to bring what is known as a ‘superseding indictment’ — a second set of charges against an already-indicted defendant that could include more serious crimes — against the ex-president, and could do so in a number of different venues, depending on how prosecutors feel the case they have brought against him in a Florida federal court is proceeding.”

“Prosecutors are now prepared to ‘stack’ an ‘additional 30 to 45 charges’ on top of the 37-count indictment brought against Mr Trump on June 8. They would do so using evidence against the ex-president that has not yet been publicly acknowledged by the department, including other recordings prosecutors have obtained which reveal Mr Trump making incriminating statements.”

For what it’s worth, this reporter was the first to report the original federal indictment against Trump.

“One of the top advisers on Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign is among the individuals identified but not named by special counsel Jack Smith in his indictment against the former president for allegedly mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House and obstructing the government’s efforts to retrieve them,” ABC News reports.

“Susie Wiles, one of Trump’s most trusted advisers leading his second reelection effort, is the individual singled out in Smith’s indictment as the ‘PAC Representative’ who Trump is alleged to have shown a classified map to in August or September of 2021, sources said.”

“Trump, in the indictment, is alleged to have shown the classified map of an unidentified country to Wiles while discussing a military operation that Trump said ‘was not going well,’ while adding that he “should not be showing the map” to her and ‘not to get too close.’”

No details emerged immediately about the Wednesday interview of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger by Jack Smith’s team. But the Atlanta newspaper reports that Smith has also “reached out” to Chris Harvey, who in 2020 was the elections director in the secretary of state’s office.

“Vladimir Putin has moved to shake up Russia’s security services in the wake of the Wagner group’s failed insurrection, rewarding loyalists with promotions and freezing out figures sympathetic to the paramilitary organisation’s leader Yevgeny Prigozhin,” the Financial Times reports.

“Sergei Surovikin, a senior Russian general known to have a good relationship with Prigozhin, has not been seen since recording a hostage-style video in the early hours of Saturday morning as the mutiny began.”

“The unexplained absence of one of the most prominent commanders in Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine comes as Putin seeks to restore order and re-establish control over the security services after the first coup attempt in Russia in three decades.”

President Biden told CNN that Russian president Vladimir Putin has “absolutely” been weakened by the short-lived mutiny over the weekend.

“Former Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Thursday, becoming the first Republican presidential candidate to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during the campaign,” NBC News reports.

“The glamorous vice-president of a Russian bank has reportedly plunged to her death after falling from the window of her Moscow apartment,” the Daily Mail reports.

“Top Russian army general Sergei Surovikin has been detained as the Kremlin cracks down on Wagner sympathizers following the militia’s failed mutiny last week,” the Financial Times reports.

“Surovikin, a senior Russian general known to have a good relationship with Wagner’s leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, has not been heard from for several days and has been detained, according to three people familiar with the matter.”

“A Russian general who previously led the invasion force in Ukraine has not been seen in public since Saturday, with US intelligence reportedly claiming he had prior knowledge of the uprising led by the Wagner chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin,” The Guardian reports.

“Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, has settled his child support case in Arkansas, reaching an agreement with the mother of one of his children and resolving a dispute that became a legal headache for him in recent months,” CNN reports.

“Coupled with his impending guilty plea to federal tax offenses, it appears that the president’s son is taking significant steps to put to rest some of his long-simmering legal entanglements. However, the legal resolutions won’t end the political drama surrounding Hunter Biden, the White House, Republican lawmakers and GOP presidential contenders.”

“President Joe Biden has made it clear to his closest aides in no uncertain terms that he not only will reject any political advice that he try to limit his son Hunter’s public visibility but that he also doesn’t want to hear such suggestions,” NBC News reports.

“The blunt directive helps explain why in recent months the father-and-son public appearances seem to have increased in tandem with intensified scrutiny of Hunter Biden’s legal troubles.”

“But the public displays of parental support, to the dismay of some Democrats, aren’t just about a loving father or a stubborn president’s defiance. For Biden, keeping his son — a recovering drug addict — close means keeping him safe, people close to the president say. Behind the Hunter Biden photo-ops and the state dinner invitations, they say, is an existential concern that weighs on the president daily: If he loosens his grip on his son, who or what will replace it — and to what end?”

“Federal prosecutors arrested three investors on Thursday on insider trading charges related to a deal to take former President Donald Trump’s media business public,” CNN reports.

“According to the indictment, the three individuals together made more than $22 million in October 2021 by illegally trading on nonpublic knowledge of Digital World Acquisition Corporation’s secret plan to buy Truth Social owner Trump Media & Technology Group.”

“The three men charged in the indictment are Michael Shvartsman, Gerald Shvartsman and Bruce Garelick, who served as a director on Digital World’s board of directors. All three have surrendered to authorities and are expected to appear in federal court in Miami later Thursday.”

Susan Glasser: “The reporting about his rift with Milley seemed to have greatly rattled Trump. In the summer of 2021, he was just a few months out of office, an unhappy exile spending most of his time at his clubs in New Jersey and Florida.”

“In interviews, he fulminated about the ‘rigged’ election and ran through his many grievances. While working on The Divider, Peter and I sat through two such performances, which were guided less by our questions than by whatever Trump wanted to talk about. Milley was still very much on his mind. During our second interview with Trump, in November of 2021, months after these initial stories had come out, he told us that the chairman was ‘weak and stupid’ and had ‘made up a lot of that stuff after I was done.’”

“Much of the United States felt like a blazing inferno on Wednesday, as record heat attacked the South like a blowtorch, thick smoke from Canadian wildfires blanketed the Great Lakes region, and triple-digit temperatures threatened to wallop California for the first time this year,” the Washington Post reports.

Meanwhile, from CNN: “More than third of the U.S. population is under air quality alerts, covering more than a dozen states from the Midwest to the East Coast.”

Greg Sargent: “The Supreme Court’s decision in Moore v. Harper on Tuesday is a major reprieve for American democracy. By rejecting the radical idea that state legislatures have quasi-unlimited power to determine how elections are run, the court made it harder for lawmakers to engage in the shenanigans that Donald Trump encouraged to overturn his 2020 presidential reelection loss.”

“But the decision is better seen in a broader context: It’s one of many recent developments that show our democratic system is fortifying itself on many levels, unexpectedly reducing the odds of a rerun of Trump’s efforts in 2024.”

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer suggested that members of President Biden’s family “may have accepted in excess of $40 million from foreign nationals in exchange for favorable policy decisions,” the New York Post reports.

Said Comer: “This was organized crime. There’s no other way to define it.”

He claimed that as recently as “in the last five days” his panel has obtained banking statements and suspicious activity reports that show “more bank accounts, more shell companies and more Bidens” being involved in the family’s overseas influence peddling scheme. 

“See you at the groundbreaking.”— President Biden, responding to a tweet by Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) trying to take credit for $1.4 billion in broadband spending for his state that he actually voted against.

Over the past two weeks, President Biden “has been cracking jokes about his age more often than usual,” NBC News reports. Good, by making a joke of it you make people laugh with you, not at you, and you also prove you still got the goods.

“Lowell P. Weicker Jr., who swaggered through three terms as Connecticut’s last Republican senator, challenging Richard Nixon over Watergate and the GOP’s rightward shift under Ronald Reagan, then willed the state’s income tax into existence in a second act as a third-party governor, died Wednesday. He was 92.” the Connecticut Mirror reports.

Hartford Courant: “Blunt and feisty, loved and hated, Weicker stood out in Connecticut politics for decades as a do-it-my-way figure who won political races at the local, state and federal levels in a long career that stretched four decades from the 1960s into the 1990s. Praised by his supporters as a one-of-a-kind maverick, Weicker was also blasted by his detractors as a bombastic iconoclast who had his own political agenda and was too liberal for the Republican Party.”

“President Joe Biden has begun using a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine to treat longstanding sleep apnea,” Bloomberg reports.  “As Biden, 80, departed the White House on Wednesday to give an economic address in Chicago, marks from the CPAP apparatus were apparent on his face. Similar marks could be seen on Biden’s face Monday during an event at the White House detailing plans to divvy up nearly $42.5 billion to build out high-speed internet networks.”

Reuters: “Among 536 members of the last sitting Congress, Reuters determined at least 100 descend from slaveholders. Of that group, more than a quarter of the Senate – 28 members – can trace their families to at least one slaveholder.”

“In addition, President Joe Biden and every living former U.S. president – except Donald Trump – are direct descendants of slaveholders: Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and – through his white mother’s side – Barack Obama. Trump’s ancestors came to America after slavery was abolished.”

“Two of the nine sitting U.S. Supreme Court justices – Amy Coney Barrett and Neil Gorsuch – also have direct ancestors who enslaved people.”

“A Florida woman who rioted at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 — then boasted about it on Parler and Facebook — pleaded guilty Monday to a felony charge of civil disorder,” the Daily Beast reports.

Said Corrine Montoni: “WE BREACHED THE CAPITOL OMG.”

She later was only in the building for about 10 minutes, but penned a slew of damning social media posts: “Insurrection is coming. Hold the line. Stay vigilant… Storming the Capitol to take back our country from traitors!”

Donald Trump has entertained the idea of returning to Twitter, where he’s been absent for nearly 2 1/2 years, Axios reports. “Trump still has nearly 87 million followers on Twitter, but hasn’t posted there since he was banned after the Jan. 6 riot in 2021. Now a growing number of Trump allies — and some close to his campaign — are expecting him to tweet again.”

Donald Trump has sued E. Jean Carroll for defamation after a jury found he sexually abused the former magazine columnist and defamed her, CNN reports

“A New York appeals court dismissed Ivanka Trump on Tuesday from a wide-ranging fraud lawsuit brought against her father and his company last year by the state’s attorney general,” the AP reports.

“The civil lawsuit, brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, accused former President Donald Trump of padding his net worth by billions of dollars and misleading banks, insurance companies and others about the value of his assets, including golf courses and the Mar-a-Lago estate. It named his three eldest children — Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric Trump — as defendants, along with multiple Trump Organization executives.”

“In a ruling on Tuesday, the Appellate Division of New York’s Supreme Court dismissed the claims against Ivanka Trump, ruling that they were barred by the state’s statute of limitations.”

Donald Trump made sexual comments about his daughter Ivanka to aides working in his administration, a former Homeland Security official claims in an upcoming book, according to Newsweek, which obtained an excerpt from the book.

From the book: “Aides said he talked about Ivanka Trump’s breasts, her backside, and what it might be like to have sex with her, remarks that once led John Kelly to remind the president that Ivanka was his daughter.”

“Afterward, Kelly retold that story to me in visible disgust. Trump, he said, was ‘a very, very evil man.’”

Although Donald Trump claims his criminal indictments are part of some “political persecution,” ABC News notes that Trump himself has called for at least 27 of his political foes to be indicted or jailed. Not one of them has been charged with any crimes.

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

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