Cup of Joe – July 29, 2023

“Donald Trump is facing additional charges in the Justice Department’s classified documents investigation,” the AP reports.

“The additional allegations of obstruction and willful retention of national defense information were added to the indictment Thursday by Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith’s team of prosecutors.”

A maintenance worker at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago private club has been charged by Special Counsel Jack Smith in the same criminal case against former President Donald Trump, the AP reports.

New York Times: “The revised indictment added three serious charges against Mr. Trump: attempting to ‘alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal evidence’; inducing someone else to do so; and a new count under the Espionage Act related to a classified national security document that he showed to visitors at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.”

The Hill: “Trump now faces a total of 40 criminal counts in the case — three more than he did previously — after prosecutors added allegations that Trump pushed to delete surveillance footage at Mar-a-Lago and willfully retained an additional sensitive document.”

Politico: “The additional charges are another stunning chapter in prosecutors’ case against the former president, who has repeatedly professed that he ‘quickly’ shared all security camera footage from his estate with the government.”

As a potential indictment Donald Trump looms in Georgia, barricades have sprung up around the courthouse where he’d likely be arraigned.

Donald Trump’s attorneys — who met with special counsel Jack Smith this morning — have been told to expect an indictment soon, NBC News reports.

The expected indictment of Donald Trump on charges that he conspired to overthrow the 2020 election will likely include many more facts about the investigation than have been publicly reported.

Here are some questions I hope will be answered:

  • Was Trump’s claim he won the election part of a calculated strategy?
  • Did Trump privately acknowledge to others that he had lost?
  • What did Trump’s cabinet do in the weeks after the election?
  • Why did Trump fire Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Attorney General Bill Barr?
  • Why did Trump fire Chris Krebs?
  • Was the vote of electors on December 14 a turning point?
  • Who was behind the fake elector strategy?
  • What did Trump tell Mike Pence on the morning of January 6?
  • What did Trump say when told he could not go to the Capitol on January 6?
  • Has former chief of staff Mark Meadows flipped on Trump?

We’ve obviously seen reporting on some of these questions. We learned more from the January 6 Committee investigation. But an indictment will lay out the actual case against Trump and his specific involvement in the scheme.

With reporters clustered at the DC federal courthouse awaiting a possible Trump indictment in the Jan. 6 case, Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team dropped a new bombshell in Florida in the Mar-a-Lago case: a superseding indictment that adds new charges against Trump himself, co-defendant Walt Nauta, and a new third defendant.

Let’s run through the top points quickly:

  • The number of counts in the indictment swelled from 38 to 42.
  • Trump was hit with an additional charge of willful retention of national defense information (now 32 counts on that charge, up from 31) for the Iran war plan document he allegedly flaunted at Bedminster.
  • The new defendant, a MAL worker named Carlos De Oliviera, was added to the existing conspiracy to obstruct justice count, so now all three defendants are charged in this count. In addition, De Oliviera gets his own false statements count.
  • All three men were charged under a new count of altering, destroying, mutilating or concealing an object.
  • All three men were charged under a new count of corruptly altering, destroying, mutilating or concealing an object.

The additional charges mostly have to do with a brazen alleged attempt to delete security camera footage at MAL after it was subpoenaed by a DC federal grand jury – and wow! The feds have the goods on Trump.

The new evidence presented by prosecutors in the superseding Mar-a-Lago indictment is incredibly damaging for Trump – referred to at times by his employees simply as “the boss,” according to the indictment.

It alleges that Trump was directly in contact with Nauta and De Oliviera about deleting security footage at Mar-a-Lago that had been subpoenaed in the summer of 2022 by a federal grand jury in DC.

A sample of some of the allegations of Trump’s direct involvement in the security footage deletion scheme (these separate excerpts cover multiple days of communications and aren’t intended as a timeline):

  • 76. On June 23, 2022, at 8:46 p.m., TRUMP called DE OLIVEIRA and they spoke for approximately 24 minutes.
  • 78. … At 3:44 p.m., NAUTA received a text message from a co-worker, Trump Employee 3, indicating that TRUMP wanted to see NAUTA.
  • 87. At 3:55 p.m., TRUMP called DE OLIVEIRA and they spoke for approximately three and a half minutes.
  • 91. … That same day, TRUMP called DE OLIVEIRA and told DE OLIVEIRA that TRUMP would get DE OLIVEIRA an attorney.
  • 114. … TRUMP, NAUTA, and DE OLIVEIRA requested that Trump Employee 4 delete security camera footage at The Mar-a-Lago Club to prevent the footage from being provided to a federal grand jury.

The choicest allegation, though, is the entirety of paragraph 91:

91. Just over two weeks after the FBI discovered classified documents in the Storage Room and TRUMP’s office, on August 26, 2022, NAUTA called Trump Employee 5 and said words to the effect of, “someone just wants to make sure Carlos is good.” In response, Trump Employee 5 told NAUTA that DE OLIVEIRA was loyal and that DE OLIVEIRA would not do anything to affect his relationship with TRUMP. That same day, at NAUTA’s request, Trump Employee 5 confirmed in a Signal chat group with NAUTA and the PAC Representative that DE OLIVEIRA was loyal. That same day, TRUMP called DE OLIVEIRA and told DE OLIVEIRA that TRUMP would get DE OLIVEIRA an attorney.

Marvel at a former U.S. president being less subtle than a fictional mafia godfather.

The superseding indictment was still fresh late Thursday when Special Counsel Jack Smith made another significant filing in the Mar-a-Lago case. Prosecutors renewed their motion for a protective order for the classified information in the case. You’ll recall U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon denied their initial motion for a protective order and urged the parties to confer.

They have since conferred and get this: Trump’s remaining objection to the protective order is that it prohibits him from discussing classified information with his attorneys outside of a SCIF. Ol’ Trump wants to be able to talk about classified information in his homes!

Smith conceded one point: Trump can have the same access to the classified information in the case as his lawyers. But Smith is not conceding that Trump can openly discuss classified information in unsecured locations. It’ll be up to Cannon whether Trump can just willy nilly discuss classified information where he might be vulnerable to foreign espionage.

Former Trump White House lawyer Ty Cobb said the evidence against the former president over his handling of classified documents was now “overwhelming” and would “last an antiquity”, after new charges were filed in the case on Thursday, The Guardian reports.

Said Cobb: “I think this original indictment was engineered to last a thousand years and now this superseding indictment will last an antiquity. This is such a tight case, the evidence is so overwhelming.”

Donald Trump told Fox News shortly after the superseding indictment was filed that he believed the latest charges amounted to “election interference at the highest level,” calling the allegations “ridiculous.”

Said Trump: “This is prosecutorial misconduct used at a level never seen before. If I weren’t leading Biden by a lot in numerous polls, and wasn’t going to be the Republican nominee, it wouldn’t be happening. It wouldn’t be happening.”

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) announced that the chamber will leave early for the August recess.

The GOP leadership scrapped plans to consider the agriculture appropriations bill this week because they don’t have the votes.

Politico: “The House’s apparent decision to adjourn for a six-week break amid the GOP stalemate portends a rocky September, when lawmakers will return to the Hill with just three weeks left to stave off a government shutdown.”

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) nearly came to blows when they ran into each other outside of the House chamber, the Daily Beast reports.

Said McCarthy: “If you ever say something like that to me again, I’m gonna kick the shit out of you.”

Another member provided context: “They were in each other’s faces. Basically nose-to-nose. And Swalwell said something like, ‘Are we really gonna do this?’”

After some back-and-forth, McCarthy issued a challenge to Swalwell: “Call me a pussy again, and I’ll kick your ass.”

Said Swalwell: “You. Are. A. Pussy.”

After both men stared each other down for another moment, McCarthy eventually relented.

“The sole person convicted at trial of defrauding donors to an online campaign to build Donald Trump’s signature wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was sentenced on Tuesday to 5-1/4 years in prison,” Reuters  reports.

“Two other defendants, who pleaded guilty, received shorter prison terms. Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon was also charged in the case, but Trump pardoned him in the final hours of his presidency.”

“A key suspect in an alleged plot to illegally access Michigan voting machines following the 2020 presidential election says she has been indicted in the long-running probe and expects to be arraigned next week,” Bridge Michigan reports.

“Former Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley pleaded guilty to a federal crime on Thursday in connection with the attack on the U.S. Capitol,” NBC News reports.

The White House ruled out the possibility that President Biden would pardon his son Hunter over federal tax and gun charges.

Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-WI) “cursed out a group of Senate pages late Wednesday night in the Capitol,” Punchbowl News reports.

“Van Orden, a freshman, was giving a tour for several dozen visitors around midnight when he happened upon Senate pages lying on the floor of the Rotunda, taking photos of the dome.”

“Van Orden cursed out the pages, who are in their last week of service, calling them ‘lazy shits’ and told them to ‘get the fuck up’ off the floor.”

The Hill obtained a transcript of Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-WI) cursing out Senate pages overnight in the Capitol Rotunda, taken by a page who wrote down the remarks minutes after the incident:

Wake the fuck up you little shits… What the fuck are you all doing? Get the fuck out of here. You are defiling the space you pieces of shit.

Who the fuck are you?… I don’t give a fuck who you are, get out.

You jackasses, get out!

Meanwhile, a source gives a photo to Punchbowl News of alcohol in Van Orden’s office, where the congressman and his staff “were heard partying loudly before he cursed out a group of teenage Senate pages.”

NBC News: “The number of migrants arriving in the U.S. is still high, multiple law enforcement sources said. And the Biden administration has been ramping up deportations.”

“About 85,000 migrants have been ‘repatriated’ since Title 42 was lifted. That’s up 65% since the same period last year.”

“Mitch McConnell moved on Thursday to quash speculation about whether he will finish out this Congress as GOP leader that spiked after a brief, very public freeze caused a national stir,” Politico reports.

From a statement: “Leader McConnell appreciates the continued support of his colleagues, and plans to serve his full term in the job they overwhelmingly elected him to do.”

During a roll call vote at Senate Appropriations Committee meeting, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was called and she started reading a statement.

A staffer whispered in her ear and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WAS) could be overheard telling her: “Just say aye.”

Said Feinstein: “Aye.”

Financial Times: “In the last decade, fentanyl has become the leading cause of death for young adults in the US. Mexico’s illegal drug trade has also adapted to the shift from plant-based drugs towards synthetics, creating a new, streamlined and highly profitable arm of the illicit business with fewer workers and lower costs — but just as much violence.”

“The change has caused friction in two of Washington’s most important relationships, with China and Mexico. It is also fast becoming a priority for U.S. Republicans ahead of the country’s 2024 presidential election, with candidates rolling out ever more radical proposals for measures against both nations.”

Washington Post: “While the legitimacy of the gold retirement investment industry is the subject of numerous lawsuits — including allegations of fraud by federal and state regulators against Lear and other companies — its advertising has become a mainstay of right-wing media. The industry spends millions of dollars a year to reach viewers of Fox, Newsmax and other conservative outlets.”

“Pitches to invest in gold coins are a daily presence in media that caters to a right-wing audience and often echo conservative talking points about looming economic and societal collapse.”

Foreign Policy: “The implementation plan, published this month, lays out concrete steps to protect U.S. pipelines, electrical grids, the water supply, and other key infrastructure from being ground to a halt by devastating cyberattacks and to prevent hackers from infiltrating the emails of senior U.S. government officials, as China has done.”

“That includes leaning more on the private sector companies that actually build and run those systems, such as Amazon and Microsoft, as well as working with allies around the world to take down bad actors more proactively.”

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

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