Cup of Joe – July 8, 2023

“Special counsel Jack Smith’s team has signaled a continued interest in a chaotic Oval Office meeting that took place in the final days of the Trump administration, during which the former president considered some of the most desperate proposals to keep him in power over objections from his White House counsel,” CNN reports.

“Multiple sources told CNN that investigators have asked several witnesses before the grand jury and during interviews about the meeting, which happened about six weeks after Donald Trump lost the 2020 election. Some witnesses were asked about the meeting months ago, while several others have faced questions about it more recently, including Rudy Giuliani.”

That crazy confab presaged the Jan. 6 attack and set the stage for a unprecedented run of lawlessness directed from and sanctioned by the Trump White House.

New details from CNN include:

  • Prosecutors have asked witnesses about the Dec. 18 at various times over the last few months, including fairly recently.
  • It came up in Rudy Giuliani’s proffer session with Jack Smith’s team, which we learn from CNN lasted for two days last month.
  • “Prosecutors have specifically inquired about three outside Trump advisers who participated in the meeting: former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, one-time national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, sources said.”

Just about a year ago, TPM’s Josh Kovensky did a long story about what we then knew about that crazy meeting. It was titled “The White House Meeting That Drove ‘Team Sane’ Insane.”

The meeting reportedly involved hours of screaming and insults, with some participants on the verge of tears from frustration and rage.

At the center of it was a battle to persuade Trump to do one thing: appoint Sidney Powell as special counsel to investigate the election, setting off a chain of events that would include the federal government seizing voting machines.

After the meeting that night, which by nearly all accounts was a total shitshow, Trump posted perhaps his most famous “Will be Wild!’ tweet.

The special counsel’s sustained interest in the chaotic meeting comes as CNN reports his team “appears to be nearing charging decisions” around the efforts to overturn the 2020 election. It’s clear the probe is both broad and deep. And Trump remains at the center of it all.

“Individual prosecutors involved in the classified documents case against former president Donald Trump are facing substantial harassment and threats online and elsewhere,” the Washington Post reports.

“At the same time, two officials said, federal agencies have not observed a general increase in threats against law enforcement in the weeks since Trump was indicted in South Florida — a sharp contrast from the surge of violent rhetoric in the days after FBI agents searched the former president’s Florida property last August.”

“For the first time in years, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is riding a wave of good press for going after a competitor,” Axios reports.

“The perfectly-timed launch of Meta’s Twitter copycat app, Threads, is being celebrated as a win by many users who have grown tired of the drama surrounding Twitter under its new owner Elon Musk or who dislike changes Musk has made.”

Twitter is threatening legal action against Meta over its new text-based “Twitter killer” platform, accusing the social media giant of poaching former employees to create a “copycat” application, Semafor reports.

Aaron Blake: “You could perhaps understand Trump’s original post of Obama’s alleged address as unwitting — it was a small detail in a series of four images of the article posted by Trump — but leaving it up after all this time must be a choice.”

“And it’s only the latest evidence of social media posts from the former president that have increasingly gone off the rails. Trump’s posts have never been the staid communications you’d expect from a statesman, but even by his standards, the past week has been remarkable.”

“Employment growth eased in June, taking some steam out of what had been a stunningly strong labor market,” CNBC reports. “Nonfarm payrolls increased 209,000 in June and the unemployment rate was 3.6%.”

Wall Street Journal: “At the start of the year, many economists forecast that the Fed’s rate increases would cause a recession by midyear and hiring to ease.”

“Instead, inflation and economic activity haven’t slowed as much as Fed officials expected, prompting them to project more rate increases to come.”

“President Joe Biden’s administration did not sanction or support secret meetings that former top U.S. national security officials held with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russians on potential talks to end the Ukraine war,” Reuters reports.

“For more than six months, President Biden and his aides have been wrestling with one of the most vexing questions in the war in Ukraine: whether to risk letting Ukrainian forces run out of the artillery rounds they desperately need to fight Russia, or agree to ship them cluster munitions — widely banned weapons known to cause grievous injury to civilians, especially children,” the New York Times reports.

“On Thursday, Mr. Biden appeared on the verge of providing the cluster munitions to Ukraine, a step that would sharply separate him from many of his closest allies, who have signed an international treaty banning the use, stockpiling or transfer of such weapons.

Washington Post: Biden approves cluster munition supply to Ukraine.

Foreign Affairs: “Among the many lingering questions about Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s rebellion is why Russia’s vast security apparatus was so poorly prepared for it. The FSB, the Kremlin’s main internal security service, has long placed a heavy emphasis on ‘prevention’ and taking aggressive steps to preempt any threats to the state before they occur. The security agency even had informants within the Wagner organization.”

“Yet it seems to have taken no action to stop the mutiny before it started or to warn the Kremlin about Prigozhin’s plans.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) was ousted from the House Freedom Caucus for not being conservative enough, Politico reports.

“Joe Biden says he’ll soon make a swing to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s backyard,” Politico reports.

“On Thursday, the president said he plans to attend the groundbreaking of a Georgia solar facility that he credits to his Bidenomics agenda. The visit would amount to the most high-profile example yet of the White House’s strategy of drawing a contrast with Republicans who opposed the president’s bills — placing Biden on the home turf of a House GOP member who has pushed for his impeachment.”

“Multiple officials involved in the White House cocaine inquiry now say the bag of powder was found in a cubby near the White House’s West Executive entrance, not the formal West Wing lobby as was previously reported,” NBC News reports.

“In updating the location of where the cocaine was found, officials said that area was also heavily trafficked.”

“The Republican-led House Oversight and Accountability Committee will assess the security practices at the White House and is seeking information from the head of the U.S. Secret Service after a small bag of cocaine was discovered near a lobby in the West Wing over the weekend,” CBS News reports.

“A strict abortion law that took effect in Texas in 2021 may have led to nearly 10,000 more births than expected in the last nine months of 2022, according to research published in the journal JAMA,” CNN reports.

 “The man charged with raping a 10-year-old girl who traveled to Indiana for an abortion pleaded guilty to a charge of rape Wednesday and was immediately sentenced to life in prison,” NBC News reports. “Gerson Fuentes, 28, was charged with two felony counts of rape in an indictment filed in Franklin County, Ohio, last year in a case that made national headlines following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.”

“Let’s not tie it to the skin color and say that the skin color determined that.” — Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters (R), quoted by KOKH, arguing that teachers shouldn’t mention race when teaching about the infamous 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) ordered that contraceptive medications be made available over the counter at a pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription, the AP reports.

Washington Post: “The Biden administration is rushing to spend billions of dollars in the Democrats’ climate law before January 2025… Yet little-noticed language in the Inflation Reduction Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to spend $27 billion by Sept. 30, 2024 — a much earlier deadline — or return the money to Congress.”

“At issue is the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which will provide $27 billion worth of grants to states, territories, tribes and others for projects that cut greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution… House Republicans already have the program in their crosshairs.”

Australian Home Minister Clare O’Neil on Thursday called Donald Trump Jr. a “big baby,” after the son of the former U.S. president cancelled a planned speaking tour, Reuters reports.

“The younger Trump, who had been booked on a three-day tour of Australia that was scheduled to begin in Sydney on Sunday, cancelled the trip on Wednesday, with organizers suggesting the reason was visa issues… But O’Neil, one of the highest-ranking ministers in the centre-left Labor government led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, said Trump had been granted a visa, and poor ticket sales was the reason he called off his visit.”

Punchbowl News: “We’re told that the State Department has newly engaged Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the committee’s chair, in talks over his long-standing opposition to a coveted sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey — with the issue shaping up as a potential bargaining chip for Sweden’s swift addition to NATO, according to three people familiar with the negotiations.”

 “The U.S. citizenship test is being updated, and some immigrants and advocates worry the changes will hurt test-takers with lower levels of English proficiency,” the AP reports.  “The naturalization test is one of the final steps toward citizenship — a monthslong process that requires legal permanent residency for years before applying.”

Washington Post: “The top financial partner of former President Donald Trump’s media company has offered to pay $18 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle an investigation into its initial merger talks in hopes it could accelerate its long-delayed merger, the company said in an SEC filing Monday.”

“A British lawmaker accused of drunkenly groping two men at a private members’ club should be suspended from Parliament for eight weeks for ‘completely unacceptable’ conduct, a standards watchdog said Thursday,” the AP reports.

“The ruling will likely result in Chris Pincher being ejected from the House of Commons by his constituents, triggering a special election for his seat. It’s one of a handful of unwelcome byelections that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative government faces as it grapples with a stuttering economy and sinking popularity.”

Vietnamese officials banned screenings of the forthcoming “Barbie”movie this week because it shows a map with disputed Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea, Axios reports. The map in question shows the U-shaped, “nine-dash line” that reflect China’s unilateral and disputed claims to swaths of the South China Sea equivalent to about 22% of the country’s land mass.

“A yearlong freeze in climate talks appears to be ending as the United States and China, the world’s biggest polluters, resume discussions,” the New York Times reports.

The late Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi left approximately $100 million in his will to his 33-year old girlfriend, Marta Fascina. The Guardian reports.  The will, apparently scribbled on a yellow notepad, also handed his two eldest children control of the family’s holding company.

“People in Taiwan have been following every twist of the war in Ukraine. But, while their sympathy for the Ukrainian cause is near-universal, the conclusions for the island’s own future widely diverge.” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“To some, the takeaway is that even a seemingly invincible foe can be defeated if a society stands firm, an inspiration for Taiwan’s own effort to resist a feared invasion by China. Others draw the opposite lesson from the images of smoldering Ukrainian cities. Anything is better than war, they say, and Taiwan should do all it can to avoid provoking Beijing’s wrath, even if that means painful compromises.”

“U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Beijing last month was billed as an effort to put a floor under fast-deteriorating ties between the world’s two biggest economies,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“In the weeks that followed, if anything, the U.S.-China relationship has gotten rockier.”

“On Thursday, as a fresh emissary from the Biden administration, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, arrived in Beijing, some Chinese observers struck a cautiously optimistic tone, saying her meetings could help establish more avenues for dialogue between two governments that have struggled to maintain high-level talks in recent years.”

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

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