Cup of Joe – July 22, 2023

“A federal judge in Florida has pushed to May 2024 the prospective date of former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial over his handling of classified documents after he left office, ensuring the proceedings play out well into the election cycle,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“In an order Friday, Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee who is overseeing the case, rejected Trump’s efforts to delay the trial until after the 2024 presidential campaign in which he is the Republican front-runner.”

Washington Post: “The May date means the issue won’t dog Trump as much as he attempts to secure the GOP nomination. And his campaign insisted afterward that it was happy, spinning the date as a ‘major setback’ for the Justice Department.”

“As for the GOP itself, it’s far less welcome news. Indeed, it raises the prospect of what’s more or less a nightmare scenario.”

“The date could, again, be delayed. It’s not inconceivable that those delays could still kick it till after the election. But a trial date at the end of the primary schedule means the case could well be decided between when GOP voters have decided on their nominee and when general-election voters will decide the president.”

“Trump might still face some adverse verdicts before then — as he did in the first Carroll civil case. But if he’s convicted of any felonies, it will most likely come long after the point of no return for the party in its nominating contest.”

“Attorneys for former president Donald Trump continued their last-minute push to block an Atlanta-area investigation into whether he and his allies broke the law when they sought to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia — a motion that will now be decided by a judge based outside Fulton County,” the Washington Post reports.

“In an order issued Thursday but made public Friday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville recused the entire judicial bench in Fulton County from hearing Trump’s motion to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis (D) and her office from further probing Trump. The motion also calls for throwing out evidence and a final report gathered by a special grand jury that investigated the case.”

“The Fulton county district attorney investigating Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state of Georgia has developed evidence to charge a sprawling racketeering indictment next month,” The Guardian reports.

“The racketeering statute in Georgia requires prosecutors to show the existence of an ‘enterprise’ – and a pattern of racketeering activity that is predicated on at least two ‘qualifying’ crimes.”

“In the Trump investigation, the Fulton county district attorney, Fani Willis, has evidence to pursue a racketeering indictment predicated on statutes related to influencing witnesses and computer trespass.”

Atlanta Journal Constitution: “Downtown Atlanta over the years has played host to a plethora of high-profile sporting, music and cultural events, as well as huge protests and rallies. But the expected indictment of former President Donald Trump in Fulton County presents unique political, logistical and public safety challenges for law enforcement.”

“New government data shows illegal border crossings plummeted to the lowest levels in over two years — another piece of good news for President Biden on one of his toughest issues,” Axios reports.

“Despite the trend, House Republicans are slamming Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for ‘dereliction of duty’ at the border in a 111-page report released Wednesday — teeing-up a long-anticipated impeachment inquiry.”

“Texas has spent two years and billions of dollars on the most aggressive attempt by any state to take control over federal border security. There’s no indication it has worked,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Hunter Biden’s lawyer filed an ethics complaint in the House of Representatives against Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) for reaching a “new level of abhorrent behavior” after she displayed sexually explicit pictures of him during a hearing Wednesday, USA Today reports.

Donald Trump shared a video with an image of his face and a voice over of him saying: “If you fuck around with us, if you do something bad to us, we are going to do things to you that have never been done before.”

Charlie Sykes: “Apparently, the audio comes from 2020 when Trump was talking about Iran. But the context of the new message was unmistakable.”

Donald Trump said on the Simon Conway Show that it would be “very dangerous” for Special Counsel Jack Smith to put him in prison because of his “very passionate” supporters.

“Michael Cohen, the longtime fixer to Donald Trump, who was set to go to trial next week against his former boss’s company in a dispute over legal fees, is expected to settle his lawsuit with the Trump Organization,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Cohen’s lawsuit, filed in 2019, accused the Trump Organization of failing to abide by the terms of a deal and refusing to pay more than $1 million in legal costs. Jury selection for the trial began earlier this week, and opening arguments were scheduled for Monday.”

“The proposed settlement, which has not been finalized and the terms of which will be confidential, will likely become public at a court hearing on Friday morning.”

“As anticipation builds for former President Donald Trump to be indicted for the third time this year, investigators in the special counsel’s election interference probe are expected to speak with additional witnesses over the next several weeks, including at least one former Trump attorney,” CNN reports.

“In the days and hours before the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, diehard Donald Trump allies gathered at Washington’s Willard Hotel, hunkered down as the last-ditch efforts to overturn the 2020 election went forward. What exactly they were doing in those meetings was a subject of intense interest for Congress’ Jan. 6 investigation, but the committee ran into the limits of its powers as it struggled to reconstruct the specifics of those eleventh-hour meetings,” Rolling Stone reports.

“Now, special counsel Jack Smith’s office is taking its shot, hoping to figure out exactly what went down in the Willard ‘war room’ — and just how involved Trump himself was in the Willard-based efforts to stop the transfer of power to then president-elect Joe Biden.”

“Special counsel investigators are grilling witnesses about the crucial Willard meetings.”

“An aide to Donald Trump was at a D.C. federal courthouse on Thursday for a grand jury appearance that is part of an investigation of the former president, as the Justice Department moves toward deciding whether to criminally charge Trump in connection with his efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election,” the Washington Post reports.

“William Russell served in the White House as a special assistant and the deputy director of presidential advance operations and continued to work as a personal aide for Trump after Trump left office in January 2021. Russell was asked to appear Thursday after making prior grand jury appearances.”

“A data expert who worked with the Trump campaign on the 2020 election also was scheduled to appear before a grand jury at the courthouse.”

Conservative attorney George Conway speculated that Mark Meadows’ “strange quietness” on the January 6 investigation may suggest he is cooperating with prosecutors, the HuffPost reports.

The House and Senate are on a collision course over the budget after Republican and Democratic appropriators in the upper chamber agreed to add $13.7 billion on top of next year’s spending caps from the debt ceiling negotiations, Punchbowl News reports.

House Republicans are pushing to spend less than maximum allowed by the caps.

“Tensions are flaring between House Republicans as lawmakers from New York have threatened to oppose a major upcoming tax bill unless it raises the current $10,000 cap on the State and Local Tax Deduction, a pricey proposition that many in the party oppose,” Semafor reports.

Washington Post: “Since last year’s elections, Republican lawmakers increasingly have seized on the power of the federal purse, coupling their crusade for austerity with a fierce push to advance a conservative social agenda. At the height of the annual appropriations process — as members of Congress race to fund the government and avert a shutdown — the GOP’s far-right flank has scrubbed spending bills to eliminate money that would protect LGBTQ rights, ensure gender equality and promote racial justice.”

“The GOP campaign, which has included false claims that such spending supports a form of child “grooming,” has shocked and enraged Democrats, who accused Republicans this week of disinformation and discrimination. But the efforts also have threatened real harm to LGBT groups and others that depend on federal aid, which now find themselves caught in an escalating conservative-led culture war.”

“President Joe Biden has chosen Adm. Lisa Franchetti to lead the Navy, an unprecedented choice that, if she is confirmed, will make her the first woman to be a Pentagon service chief and the first female member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” the AP reports.

“Kevin McCarthy denies he made any deal with Donald Trump to expunge his impeachment record. Even if the speaker did call for such a vote, a bloc of House GOP centrists would likely defeat it,” Politico reports.

“Roughly a half-dozen swing district Republicans said Thursday they were skeptical — or even downright opposed — to any vote designed to symbolically rescind one or both of Trump’s impeachments.”

Donald Trump threw his support behind country music star Jason Aldean, after his music video — filmed at the site of the 1927 lynching of a Black teenager — was pulled from CMT, Insider reports.

Said Trump: “Jason Aldean is a fantastic guy who just came out with a great new song. Support Jason all the way. MAGA!!!”

From the song’s lyrics: “Well, try that in a small town. See how far ya make it down the road. Around here, we take care of our own. You cross that line, it won’t take long. For you to find out, I recommend you don’t.”

“David Grusch, who made public claims about a secretive government UFO retreval program, will testify as part of a long-anticipated House hearing next week on UFOs — which the government is now calling UAPs, or unidentified anomalous phenomena,” Politico reports.

Said Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN): “More people believe in UFOs than believe in Congress.”

“Donald Trump agreed to return ancient artifacts after Israel’s antiquities authority launched a public campaign to get them back,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The story of how the ceramic oil lamps, which are part of Israel’s national treasures collection, ended up at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort is complicated. It’s a saga in which the artifacts made a near-visit to the White House, sat in a California closet for months and were then taken through an X-ray machine in Florida before being delivered to Trump.”

“A federal judge on Thursday upbraided special counsel Jack Smith’s prosecutors — who may be on the verge of indicting former President Donald Trump — for causing a delay in an unrelated hearing in a Jan. 6 criminal case,” Politico reports.

“U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden sent a U.S. marshal to summon Smith’s prosecutors from the grand jury room — where they were grilling a Trump-connected witness — to his courtroom Thursday afternoon.”

“That led to a bizarre scene in which Thomas Windom, a leading prosecutor on Smith’s team investigating Trump’s effort to subvert the 2020 election, marched down the courthouse hallway and filed into McFadden’s courtroom during the ongoing Jan. 6 proceeding, a lengthy bench trial verdict for Federico Klein and Steven Cappuccio, who stand accused of violence toward Capitol Police.”

“Lawyers for Georgia’s former Republican Party chair are again trying to fend off their client’s possible indictment into possible criminal interference with the 2020 presidential election,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“Ex-GOP chair David Shafer was within his constitutional rights when he cast an ‘alternate’ Electoral College ballot for then-President Donald Trump and therefore should not be criminally charged.”

“Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is eyeing holding the UK’s next general election in November 2024 in order to allow the economy as much time as possible to recover before going to the polls,” Bloomberg reports.

“Under existing rules Sunak can call a vote for any time in the next 18 months but with his ruling Conservative Party trailing the Labour opposition by around 20 points in most recent national polls, there’s little incentive to go soon.”

“If I were Prigozhin, I’d be very worried. NATO has an open doors policy. Russia has an open windows policy.”— Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at the Aspen Security Forum.

“Alabama Republicans rejected calls to draw a second majority-Black congressional district this week, instead creating maps that Democrats and advocates say completely ignore a recent ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court,” NBC News reports.

Judge Royce Lamberth has denied a motion by ‘QAnon Shaman’ Jacob Chansley to vacate his conviction for actions taken during the January 6 insurrection.

“Hackers linked to Beijing accessed the email account of the U.S. ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, in an attack that is believed to have compromised at least hundreds of thousands of individual U.S. government emails,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“A Nebraska teenager who used abortion pills to terminate her pregnancy was sentenced on Thursday to 90 days in jail after she pleaded guilty earlier this year to illegally concealing human remains,” the New York Times reports.

“Iran has arrested and detained a fourth U.S. national, further complicating the Biden administration’s efforts to secure an exchange of prisoners and lower tensions with Tehran,” Semafor reports.

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

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