Cup of Joe – August 7, 2023

“On the same day former President Donald Trump was arraigned on federal election conspiracy charges in Washington, D.C., the prosecutor leading the push for the fourth potential criminal case against Trump said she’s primed to go, too,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Said Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis: “We’re ready.”

“Officials expect her to announce that decision within two weeks.”

“Lawyers for former President Donald Trump declared late Thursday that they will appeal a judge’s ruling that shot down their bid to gut Fulton County District Fani Willis’s prosecution of alleged criminal interference in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“For more than two years, people here and across the country have watched and waited for clues that the high-profile Georgia investigation into whether former president Donald Trump and his allies broke the law in their attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state was winding to an end,” the Washington Post reports.

“That speculation hit fever pitch in recent days with the installation of orange security barriers near the main entrance of the Fulton County Courthouse in downtown Atlanta. It was the most visible sign yet of the looming charging decision in a case that has ensnared not only Trump but several high-profile Republicans who could either face charges or stand witness in a potential trial unlike anything seen before in this Southern metropolis.”

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told WXIA that she will soon announce charging decisions around efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn Georgia’s 2020 presidential election result. Said Willis: “The work is accomplished. We’ve been working for two and half years. We’re ready to go.” Willis has previously signaled that she would make any charging announcements between July 31 and the end of August.

“Security will be tightened around the Fulton County Courthouse in coming weeks ahead of the possible local indictment of former President Donald Trump,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

As potential charges against Donald Trump in Georgia loom, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis warned a group of county leaders to “stay alert” and “make decisions that keep your staff safe,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“I don’t know what Jack Smith is doing and Jack Smith doesn’t know what I’m doing. In all honesty, if Jack Smith was standing next to me, I’m not sure I would know who he was. My guess is he probably can’t pronounce my name correctly.”— Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, in an interview with WABE.

Politico: “In a nine-page ruling, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said it’s simply too soon for Trump or his allies to seek to prohibit Georgia prosecutors from continuing to investigate him — in large part because he hasn’t been indicted yet.”

“A judge scheduled a hearing on former President Donald Trump’s motion to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from the investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia,” ABC News reports.

“The motion also seeks to quash the special purpose grand jury report that gathered much of the evidence in the case.”

“The hearing is set for Thursday, Aug. 10, at 10 a.m., and all briefs on the issue are due two days prior, on Aug. 8. The hearing comes as charges in the case could be imminent — Willis previously said in a letter that she would be announcing her charging decisions by Sept. 1.”

Former Georgia state Sen. Jen Jordan (D) received subpoenas to testify before a Fulton County grand jury later this month, CNN reports.

“The subpoenas to Jordan and independent journalist George Chidi are the strongest indication yet that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis intends to seek indictments in her criminal probe into efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.”

Lawfare writes that the charges laid out in the indictment “will be the ones forever attached to Trump’s name.”

“They will appear in the first line of his obituary. They will be the facts school children learn about him as long as school children learn facts about American presidents. Among the many extraordinary features of his most extraordinary presidency, the facts alleged here—and which the government must now prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a unanimous jury—are singularly defining.”

“Trump will always be the president charged by the government he led with pursuing, as the indictment puts it, ‘unlawful means of discounting legitimate votes and subverting’ the results of the presidential election that he lost.”

Peter Wehner: “There was a time when even a fraction of Donald Trump’s record of lawlessness and depravity would have shattered a person’s political career, rendered his party ashamed of its association with him, and left him humiliated and seeking forgiveness.”

“But that day is long gone, at least if you’re a Republican.”

Charlie Sykes: “The trial — if there is a trial before the election — will be (all hype aside) The Trial of the Century. Think O.J. times 10. The January 6th hearings cubed. There will be a parade of witnesses from Trump’s own administration; hammer blows of facts about his lies; videos of the violent attack on the Capitol played in an endless loop for weeks.”

“All in the midst of a presidential campaign.”

“Republicans desperately want next year’s election to be about inflation, the border, crime, drag queens, and Hunter Biden. Instead, it will be about Donald J. Trump and his attempts to sabotage the peaceful transfer of power.”

New York Times: “The committee provided a road map of sorts for the 45-page indictment Mr. Smith released on Tuesday. … Mr. Smith’s document — while far slimmer than the 845-page tome produced by the House investigative committee — contained a narrative that was nearly identical: An out-of-control president, refusing to leave office, was willing to lie and harm the country’s democracy in an attempt to stay in power.”

“With televised hearings drawing millions of viewers, the panel introduced the public to little-known lawyers who plotted with Mr. Trump to keep him in power, dramatic moments of conflict within the Oval Office and concepts like the ‘fake electors’ scheme carried out across multiple states to try to reverse the election outcome. Its final report laid out specific criminal charges that a prosecutor could bring against the former president.”

Donald Trump’s “new legal defense fund for aides and employees may double as both an act of benevolence and a potential insurance policy against a practice he has long loathed: flipping,” Axios reports.

“New federal charges against Trump — who once said cooperating with prosecutors in exchange for leniency ‘ought to be illegal’ — rely in large part on the testimony of a Mar-a-Lago employee who allegedly was asked to delete surveillance footage subpoenaed by investigators.”

Donald Trump and Walt Nauta will be arraigned on August 10th in federal district court in Florida over the additional criminal charges filed last week in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case, CNN reports.

The order doesn’t address whether either man will be required to attend in person.

“Special counsel Jack Smith has asked Judge Aileen Cannon for a hearing to discuss whether the lawyer who represents one of Donald Trump’s co-defendants in the classified documents case has too many conflicts to provide adequate legal advice to his client,” the Washington Post reports.

“The Mar-a-Lago employee referenced in the superseding indictment adding major accusations against former President Donald Trump and a new co-defendant to the case has been identified by two people close to the investigation as Yuscil Taveras, an information technology worker,” CNN reports.

“Taveras oversaw the surveillance camera footage at the property.”

“Yuscil Taveras, a Mar-a-Lago employee who oversees the property’s surveillance cameras, received a target letter from federal prosecutors after former President Donald Trump was first indicted in June on charges related to his alleged mishandling of classified documents after leaving office,” CNN reports. “Taveras also met with investigators following the initial indictment in the classified documents case overseen by special counsel Jack Smith.”

“While it is unclear whether Taveras is cooperating with prosecutors, some of the new allegations against Trump that were included in a superseding indictment filed last week were based, at least in part, on information he provided during that interview.”

Aaron Blake: “It’s been apparent for a long time that this case wasn’t just about Trump possessing classified documents when he shouldn’t; it was about allegedly failing to return them when legally required to and, importantly, obstructing efforts to retrieve them.”

“The superseding indictment drives home how much this trial will be about the alleged coverup.”

“The most vivid new scene in the indictment adds to what would seem to be a wealth of evidence of alleged obstruction of justice.”

Daily Beast: “While the superseding indictment may not seem any more serious than the original charges, they could substantially aid special prosecutor Jack Smith in getting a conviction—both in the public’s eye and in an actual courtroom.”

“As Richard Nixon taught America: It’s not the crime; it’s the coverup. And with this new evidence, that Trump directed assistants to wipe a computer server that would show security footage at his South Florida club—evidence that Trump not only knew he was doing something wrong, but also that he tried to conceal the whole affair—Smith may have the smoking gun. Just like Nixon’s accusers did when they found out the president wouldn’t turn over White House tapes—and that there was an 18-minute gap in the audio.”

“The judge in former President Donald Trump’s upcoming trial over his handling of classified documents made two key errors in a June trial, one of which violated a fundamental constitutional right of the defendant and could have invalidated the proceedings,“ Reuters reports.

“Florida-based U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon closed jury selection for the trial of an Alabama man – accused by federal prosecutors of running a website with images of child sex abuse – to the defendant’s family and the general public, a trial transcript obtained by Reuters showed. A defendant’s right to a public trial is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution’s Sixth Amendment.”

“Cannon, a 42-year-old former federal prosecutor appointed by Trump to the bench in 2020 late in his presidency, also neglected to swear in the prospective jury pool – an obligatory procedure in which people who may serve on the panel pledge to tell the truth during the selection process.”

Devon Archer, who was Hunter Biden’s business partner, actually said the opposite of what House Republicans claimed, according to a transcript of his recent testimony, the Washington Post reports.

“That’s the pattern here. Comer and Jordan and others hype claims of Joe Biden’s involvement in Hunter Biden’s work only to see those claims collapse as more information is made public. Devon Archer’s testimony was hailed as a central breakthrough in implicating Joe Biden. Instead, it has a top ally of Hunter Biden stating under penalty of perjury that Joe Biden was not involved in Hunter Biden’s business and that Biden’s trip to Ukraine in 2015 was not centered on protecting Burisma at all.”

Devon Archer told the House Oversight Committee on Monday that his former business partner, Hunter Biden, was selling the “illusion” of access to his father, CNN reports.

A source also reiterated that Archer provided no evidence connecting President Joe Biden to any of his son’s foreign business dealings.

President Biden offered his first statement on 4-year-old grandchild Navy Joan Roberts, the daughter of Hunter Biden and Lunden Roberts, an Arkansas woman who filed a paternity suit against the president’s son in May 2019, People reports.

Said Biden: “Our son Hunter and Navy’s mother, Lunden, are working together to foster a relationship that is in the best interests of their daughter, preserving her privacy as much as possible going forward.”

He added: “This is not a political issue, it’s a family matter. Jill and I only want what is best for all of our grandchildren, including Navy.”

“In recent weeks, President Joe Biden realized that his silence was no longer tenable — that it was time for him to publicly recognize his 4-year-old granddaughter caught up in a bitter child support case involving his son Hunter Biden,” NBC News reports.

“But before he could do so, he wanted to take one final step: getting the ‘green light’ from his son, which he received last week.”

“Now, the president wants to meet little Navy Joan Roberts of Arkansas and dispel the notion that he was ignoring a vulnerable member of the Biden family tree that is at the root of his political identity.”

“House Democrats are demanding the release of a transcript from a new FBI witness that they say contradicts Republicans’ claims in the expanding congressional inquiry into President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden,” the AP reports.

“House Republicans have launched an inquiry into the Justice Department’s plea deal with Hunter Biden, which was put on hold after falling apart in court last week,” ABC News reports.

“Three Republican-led House committees — the Judiciary, Oversight and Ways and Means panels — sent a letter on Monday to Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding information and documents related to the agreement struck by federal prosecutors and President Joe Biden’s son.”

Noah Smith: “I do not want to be a shill for the Biden administration. Yes, I like most of what Biden is doing on industrial policy. But I really want to resist being one of those center-left pundits who always just blasts out the latest press release of a Democratic administration and trumpets how many jobs the President has ‘created’…”

“And yet when I look at how the U.S. economy is doing right now, I find it difficult to describe it in terms that allow me to avoid sounding like a shill. I know lots of Americans still think the economy is doing poorly, and are upset about that. But when I look at objective measures, I just can’t rationalize that negative viewpoint. Because as far as I can tell from the actual numbers, this economy is doing really, really well.”

“An inflation gauge that the Fed follows closely rose 4.1% from a year ago, the lowest annual increase since September 2021,” CNBC reports. “So-called core PCE increased 0.2% on the month, as goods prices fell while services costs rose.”

“Despite months of increasingly positive economic indicators, the American  public remains negative about the state of the nation’s economy, with 51% saying they think the economy is still in a downturn and getting worse,” according to a new CNN poll.

Derek Thompson: “We’re now in the back half of a year that was supposedly doomed, and the U.S. economy isn’t just narrowly avoiding a downturn. As the writer Noah Smith points out, nearly everything you should want to go well in an economy is going quite well right now.”

“Employment is high, inflation is falling, real incomes are rising, and inequality is narrowing. Superlatives abound. The official unemployment rate is near a 60-year low, and the jobless rate for Black Americans recently hit an all-time low. The U.S. has the fastest growth rate and the lowest annual inflation of any G7 country. Yes, problems exist. Essentials such as housing, education, and health care are still too expensive; wages could be growing faster; and last year’s inflation is still baked into today’s prices. But mostly, things are good—for now.”

Wall Street Journal: “The U.S. economy saw 187,000 jobs added last month, nearly matching June’s downwardly revised 185,000, the Labor Department said Friday. That gain was slower than the average monthly pace for the first half of this year, and well below the roughly 400,000 average monthly gain in 2022.”

“The unemployment rate fell to 3.5% last month from 3.6% in June. Employers raised pay at the same rate as June, with average hourly earnings growing 4.4% in July from a year earlier, slower than last year but remaining well above the prepandemic pace.”

“JPMorgan Chase on Friday jumped on the bandwagon of big-name economists who say a recession is no longer inevitable, even as the Federal Reserve continues to fight inflation by raising interest rates,” The Messenger reports.

“Michael Feroli, chief economist at the nation’s largest bank, is forecasting economic growth of 2.5% for the third quarter, up from his previous projection of 0.5% growth.”

David Frum: “As president, Trump would have no power of his own to quash directly any of these proceedings. He would have to act through others. For example, the most nearly unilateral thing that Trump could try would be a presidential self-pardon. Is that legal? Trump has asserted that it is. Only the Supreme Court can deliver a final verdict, which presents a significant risk to Trump, because the Court might say no. Self-pardon defies the history and logic of the presidential-pardon power. Would a Supreme Court struggling with legitimacy issues of its own take such a serious risk with its reputation to protect Trump from justice?”

“Trump has one way he might avert the hazard of the Supreme Court ruling against him. He could order his attorney general to order the special counsel not to bring a case against his self-pardon, and then order the Department of Justice to argue in court that nobody but the special counsel has standing to bring a case.”

“Then things get complicated.”

Donald Trump “has subpoenaed Fox News for Tucker Carlson’s unaired interview with Steven Sund, the former U.S. Capitol Police chief, along with any communications about that interview,” Puck reports.

“Trump is seeking the tapes and messages as part of his defense against a lawsuit filed by seven police officers who sustained injuries that fateful day. A federal judge has already rejected Trump’s argument that the First Amendment shields him from liability in the civil suit, which has now proceeded to the discovery phase.”

Politico: “House lawmakers left town for six weeks on [last] Thursday, a day earlier than scheduled, and it’s no mystery why. They passed only one of their 12 government funding measures amid an ugly floor fight, then leadership had to pull another (supposedly one of the less controversial spending bills) due to party infighting over abortion riders and cuts.”

“As we predicted back in June, lawmakers are openly talking about a short-term fix — known as a continuing resolution or a CR — to keep the government’s lights on. Then, of course, they’ll just have some more time to deal with the same exact problems.”

“Lawmakers broke for their August recess this week with work on funding the government largely incomplete, fueling worries about whether Congress will be able to avoid a partial government shutdown this fall,” the AP reports.

“Congress has until Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year, to act on government funding. They could pass spending bills to fund government agencies into next year, or simply pass a stopgap measure that keeps agencies running until they strike a longer-term agreement. No matter which route they take, it won’t be easy.”

Playbook: “Summer recess is here: The House and Senate both left town Thursday, leaving a very long to-do list behind. Expect to hear plenty more about that as August rolls on — including the rising threat of a government shutdown later this year.”

Wall Street Journal: “Avoiding a government shutdown is only one of the must-do items before the fiscal year ends Sept. 30. Congress must also reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, pass a farm bill and reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program so that home sales in flood-prone areas can continue. The House is due to return Sept. 12 and has four-day legislative sessions for each of the three weeks before Sept. 30. The Senate is due to return Sept. 5.”

“The Ways and Means Committee marked up three bills on June 13 — the Tax Cuts for Working Families Act, the Small Business Jobs Act and the Build It In America Act,” Punchbowl News reports.

“Since then, the GOP-drafted package has sat dormant in committee. House Republican leadership hasn’t shown any sign they’re prepared to bring the measure to the floor.”

“We canvassed the House GOP leadership and committee on Monday, and it’s clear the legislation has no pathway to final passage at the moment. Without any Democratic support, there are significant concerns that House Republicans can’t muster 218 votes to pass the legislation — which isn’t going anywhere in the Democratic-run Senate anyway.”

“The biggest drawback — Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith’s (R-MO) proposal doesn’t do anything to address SALT, the state and local tax deduction that Republicans capped under former President Donald Trump until 2025. The New York delegation and other Northeasterners have told Republican leaders they oppose the bill for that reason.”

“Fitch downgraded the U.S. credit rating due to fiscal concerns, a deterioration in U.S governance, as well as political polarization reflected partly by the Jan. 6 insurrection,” Reuters reports.

“In a move that took investors by surprise, Fitch downgraded the United States to AA+ from AAA on Tuesday, citing fiscal deterioration over the next three years and repeated down-to-the-wire debt ceiling negotiations that threaten the government’s ability to pay its bills.”

Donald Trump weighed in on Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) freeze-up before at a press conference last week, Breitbart reports.

Said Trump: “That was a sad thing to see. He had a bad fall, I guess, and probably an after-effect of that. But it was also sad that he gave trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars to the Democrats to waste on the Green New Deal, destroying our oceans and destroying our great, beautiful vistas and plains all over our country with windmills that are very expensive energy. So that’s a very sad thing also.”

He added: “We have some people in the Senate that are fantastic and would be great at that position. But it’s just amazing he would do that — but at the same time, I hope he’s well.”

“The state of Florida ‘effectively banned’ a second Advanced Placement course as noncompliant with its newly enacted standards, this time barring hundreds of districts from offering a psychology class as long as it includes discussion of gender and sexual orientation,” the Washington Post reports.

“Earlier this year, the state barred schools from offering a newly created AP African American Studies course. Now Florida is blocking districts from offering a class that they have taught for three decades and to thousands of students each year.”

Nearly a year after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida, about $9 million in aid raised by Casey DeSantis for her relief campaign still hasn’t been spent, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

“President Biden is sharply escalating his criticism of Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, highlighting his blockade of military nominations and using him to criticize other right-wing Republicans he characterizes as extreme, obstructionist and willing to jeopardize the country’s national security,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Biden: “Something dangerous is happening. The Republican Party used to always support the military, but today, they are undermining the military. The senior senator from Alabama, who claims to support our troops, is now blocking more than 300 military nominations with his extreme political agenda.”

Retired two-star Marine Corps Major General Arnold Punaro called Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) a “coward,” Politico reports.

Tuberville has stalled more than 270 military promotions over his opposition to the Pentagon’s policy of reimbursing service members for travel expenses related to abortion.

Said Punaro: “I have a huge problem with what Sen. Tuberville is doing. He’s a coward, in my book. He won’t even bring an amendment to the floor and get it voted on to change the policy.”

Justice Samuel Alito told the Wall Street Journal that Congress has no authority to regulate the Supreme Court.

Said Alito: “I know this is a con­tro­ver­sial view, but I’m will­ing to say it… No pro­vi­sion in the Con­sti­tu­tion gives them the au­thor­ity to reg­u­late the Supreme Court — pe­riod.”

A new Gallup poll finds approval ratings of the U.S. Supreme Court remain at record low levels.

“The court’s current 40% approval rating remains steady but reflects unhappiness about the court’s actions to eliminate the nationwide right to abortion. From 2017-to mid-2021 the court’s approval rating was at 49% or higher, but its rating plunged to 40% in September 2021 after the justices allowed a restrictive Texas abortion law to stand, later overturning Roe v. Wade.”

“It just can’t be that the court is the only institution that somehow is not subject to checks and balances from anybody else. We’re not imperial. Can Congress do various things to regulate the Supreme Court? I think the answer is: yes.”— Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, quoted by Politico.

“A surge in government funding and related private investment is beginning to make its way to businesses and communities across the country, building electric vehicles, new bridges, airport upgrades and a host of other infrastructure and green energy projects that are juicing the economy — just when it needs it most,” the Washington Post reports.

“The federal government has announced some $299 billion and has spurred another $503 billion in business investment that is providing a surprisingly quick and robust boost to the U.S. economy.”

“The jump in private investment, in particular, is already filtering into the economy.”

“President Biden is set to give final approval on Friday to the biggest reshaping in generations of the country’s Uniform Code of Military Justice, stripping commanders of their authority over cases of sexual assault, rape and murder to ensure prosecutions that are independent of the chain of command,” the New York Times reports.

“By placing his signature on a far-reaching executive order, Mr. Biden is set to usher in the most significant changes to the modern military legal system since it was created in 1950.”

“The changes had for years been opposed by military commanders.”

New York Times: “Mr. Musk, who leads SpaceX, Tesla and Twitter, has become the most dominant player in space as he has steadily amassed power over the strategically significant field of satellite internet. Yet faced with little regulation and oversight, his erratic and personality-driven style has increasingly worried militaries and political leaders around the world, with the tech billionaire sometimes wielding his authority in unpredictable ways.”

“Since 2019, Mr. Musk has sent SpaceX rockets into space nearly every week that deliver dozens of sofa-size satellites into orbit. The satellites communicate with terminals on Earth, so they can beam high-speed internet to nearly every corner of the planet. Today, more than 4,500 Starlink satellites are in the skies, accounting for more than 50 percent of all active satellites. They have already started changing the complexion of the night sky, even before accounting for Mr. Musk’s plans to have as many as 42,000 satellites in orbit in the coming years.”

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

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