Cup of Joe – August 9, 2023

“Donald Trump has publicly joked about the four latest felony charges brought against him. But behind the scenes, Trump’s aides are quietly acknowledging that this latest indictment—over the ex-president’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election—is far from a laughing matter,” the Daily Beast reports.

Said one Trump confidant: “Most of us look at the January 6th stuff as the most concerning. There is real concern this must be handled perfectly.”

Playbook: “While Trump is correct that his legal troubles have galvanized GOP support so far this year, he will increasingly become a candidate defined by these prosecutions. Court dates, public spats over technical legal issues, finances drained to lawyers, deposition and trial prep — it will all crowd out the campaign trail. It’s possible the same dynamic continues, and Republicans in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina stick with him. But as the campaign becomes about the Trump trials, there may be second thoughts five months from now.”

“But if Trump is the Republican nominee, there is no persuasive case we have seen that standing trial for falsifying business records, illegally retaining national security secrets, obstructing justice, trying to overthrow an election, and fighting a federal civil case for rape and defamation is a political benefit in a general election.”

Politico: How Donald Trump’s many legal troubles are all starting to intersect.

“Donald Trump ally Bernie Kerik met Monday with special counsel Jack Smith’s investigators who are handling the probe related to the 2020 election aftermath and the January 6, 2021, insurrection,” CNN reports.

“The interview largely focused on what Trump’s former attorney Rudy Giuliani did to prove that really won the election.”

“The federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., that last week indicted former President Donald Trump is meeting again Tuesday, a strong sign that special counsel Jack Smith’s criminal investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results soon could add more defendants,” CNBC reports.

“Donald Trump blared Sunday morning that his legal team would be ‘immediately asking for recusal’ of U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan from his latest criminal case, proclaiming (but not revealing) ‘very powerful grounds’ for the demand,” Politico reports.

“Hours later, his attorney John Lauro would publicly walk back that plan, saying Trump was speaking with a ‘layman’s political sense’ and reacting primarily because Chutkan was nominated to the bench by a Democrat.”

“Potential witnesses at former President Trump’s criminal trials could include his vice president and now-rival for the GOP nomination, the chair of the Republican National Committee, one of Trump’s own lawyers and at least seven current advisers,” Axios reports.

“Trump’s legal troubles have blanketed the vast network of aides, lawyers, advisers and associates that fueled his takeover of the Republican Party. Many remain Trump loyalists — raising thorny conflict-of-interest questions that further tie the campaign to the courtroom.”

“Ty Cobb, a former White House attorney under Donald Trump, dismissed new Trump defense lawyer John Lauro’s claim that the former president was simply being ‘aspirational’ with his attempts to pressure former Vice President Mike Pence into overturning the 2020 election result,” the HuffPost reports.

Said Cobb: “I’m not aware of the aspirational defense or the free speech defense to a gang leader saying to two of his subordinates, ‘I need you two to please rob a bank for me,’ and they do it. That’s aspirational, but it leads to a crime and that’s exactly what Trump did with Pence.”

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Donald Trump should be very worried about a close member of his inner circle from his final year in office, the HuffPost reports.

Said Christie: “I’ve said all along I think Mark Meadows is already a cooperating witness. He has all the looks of a cooperating witness, running into coffee shops away from the press.”

“It would be as important as mine was during Watergate. It would actually be more important because he was at the scene of so many of the activities that occurred that are now causing Trump the problems he’s got.” — Former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, talking on CNN about possible testimony in Donald Trump’s criminal trials from Mark Meadows.

An announcement of a potential indictment against Donald Trump in Georgia “isn’t expected for at least a few more days, possibly until next week,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“That’s because some subpoenaed witnesses have yet to receive their 48-hour notice to testify behind closed doors.”

“So unless Willis has changed her mind about seeking their testimony, that makes Thursday the earliest for Willis to start presenting evidence to a grand jury.”

Former Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) “has received a subpoena to testify as a witness before a Fulton County grand jury that could deliver indictments against former President Donald Trump and his allies this month,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Donald Trump has been criminally charged in three different jurisdictions with a total of 78 charges. It’s expected that Trump will soon be indicted for a fourth time in Fulton County, Georgia. Federal prosecutors rarely lose. Roughly 95% of defendants charged with federal felonies were ultimately convicted with the vast majority taking a plea deal.

Local prosecutors convict at high rates as well. The Atlanta office expected to indict Trump holds a 90% conviction rate and the Manhattan district attorney claims a 95% conviction rate. Of course, not everyone convicted is sent to prison. But we know that of those convicted by federal prosecutors, 74% received prison sentences.

These numbers aren’t perfect. The thing to remember, however, is it’s not any one of these cases that threatens Trump’s freedom — it’s the compounding risk of all of them. So assume that Trump has a 30% chance of escaping an indictment in each of these cases without a prison sentence. Since these indictments are for different crimes and essentially independent events, the chance of him prevailing four times in a row is less than 1%.

Those are terrible odds and probably why Trump thinks his best chance at freedom includes winning the 2024 presidential election. Of course, it’s not that simple. The cases brought against Trump aren’t the same. He has virtually unlimited resources to defend himself. And the odds of him getting a MAGA loyalist on a jury who refuses to convict is higher than one might think.

But even if you improve Trump’s odds of exoneration from 30% to a probably unreasonably high 70% in each case, the math is still pretty ugly. In that case, Trump would still have only a 24% chance of escaping prison.

“In recent weeks, Vice President Kamala Harris has dashed off to Florida on short notice. She sparred with the state’s conservative governor, Ron DeSantis, over how to teach slavery in schools. And she flew into Iowa to defend abortion rights while 13 Republican presidential candidates were having dinner a few miles away,” the New York Times reports.

“Although her words were directed at Republicans, her message was also aimed at all her doubters.”

New York Times: “John Williams, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, thinks that the central bank’s push to cool the economy is near its peak and that he expects that interest rates could begin to come down next year.”

Wall Street Journal: “Parts of the economy are cooling, just as the Federal Reserve would like to see to combat inflation. Freight railroads, for instance, are seeing shipping volumes decline. Construction firms are cutting back on equipment purchases. A vending-machine company’s customers are negotiating prices downward.”

“Yet the key to a measured, inflation-busting slowdown that doesn’t sink the economy lies in whether companies hold on to workers or lay them off. And the answer, in an economy that otherwise can send repeated mixed signals, is clear: They are making a priority of keeping workers.”

“Donald Trump is a long, long way from winning the GOP primary, let alone retaking the White House. But he always has revenge on his mind, and his allies are preparing to use a future administration to not only undo all of Special Counsel Jack Smith’s work — but to take vengeance on Smith, and on virtually everyone else, who dared investigate Trump during his time out of power,” Rolling Stone reports.

“Rosters full of MAGAfied lawyers are being assembled. Plans are being laid for an entire new office of the Justice Department dedicated to ‘election integrity.’ An assembly line is being prepared of revenge-focused ‘special counsels’ and ‘special prosecutors.’ Gameplans for making Smith’s life hell, starting in Jan. 2025, have already been discussed with Trump himself. And a fresh wave of pardons is under consideration for Trump associates, election deniers, and — the former president boasts — for Jan. 6 rioters.”

“The preparations have been underway since at least last year, with Trump being briefed on the designs by an array of attorneys, political and policy advisers, former administration officials, and other allies. The aim is to build a government-in-waiting with the hard-right infrastructure needed to turn the Justice Department into an instrument of Trump’s agenda.”

“President Biden is leaning toward designating a vast area near the Grand Canyon as a national monument to safeguard it from uranium mining,“ the Washington Post reports.

“Leaders of local tribes and environmentalists have spent years lobbying to protect areas near the park from potential uranium mining, which they say would threaten aquifers and water supplies. They have asked Washington to double the protected area around the canyon by including 1.1 million acres of public lands in a Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni Grand Canyon National Monument.”

“A federal appeals court panel Thursday approved the Biden administration’s emergency request to keep its asylum restrictions in place on the U.S.-Mexico border while the legal battle over the policy makes its way through the courts,” the Washington Post reports.

“The 2 to 1 decision grants a reprieve to the Biden administration, which feared losing a critical border management tool at the end of the day on Tuesday.”

Politico: “For the first time in U.S. history, two of the eight seats on the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff are filled by interim officers, thanks to Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s eight-month-long hold on military promotions.”

“On Friday, outgoing Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville retired, handing the job of running the service to his No. 2, Gen. Randy George. And with that, the Army joined the Marine Corps as the second military branch to be without a uniformed leader who’s able to act with the full force of Senate confirmation, with no end in sight to the blockade.”

“Schmoozing at a state dinner for the Indian prime minister. Strolling past a bank of cameras before taking off in Marine One for Camp David. Waving to crowds from the White House balcony on the Fourth of July,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“These are all pieces of presidential theater. But in each instance, the actor is Hunter Biden, not his father, Joe, though the president is close at hand. Taken together, they capture how closely and squarely in the spotlight President Biden has kept his scandal-plagued son.”

“That proximity worries some presidential allies who privately say that parading Hunter Biden around serves as a reminder of the younger Biden’s poor judgment and past attempts to monetize his political connections as House Republicans step up their investigation into whether son and father inappropriately profited from the family’s power.”

Oliver Darcy: “Talk of imprisoning Democratic politicians — and even their families — in acts of revenge is par for the course. Even floating the outright execution of Biden, as Charlie Kirk recently did, is accepted in the warped world of MAGA Media, where the audience has been programmed through years of conditioning to welcome such vile rhetoric into their homes.”

“None of this is an exaggeration. It is the reality of what is being broadcast in millions of homes across the country.”

“President Biden is calling for his Cabinet to ‘aggressively execute’ plans for federal employees to work more in their offices this fall after years of working remotely,” Axios reports.

“It’s Biden’s most overt push yet to get federal employees to return to their offices — a dynamic many businesses also have struggled with as Americans continue to embrace remote work despite the pandemic waning.”

Washington Post: “In recent weeks, prominent Republicans, including some running for president, have set their sights on Harris in a more visible way. She’s been blasted as an embodiment of the ‘woke’ left, invited to Tallahassee to debate slavery with DeSantis, and been held up as a central reason not to vote for the aging Biden.”

“For her part, Harris has leaned into the antagonism, hopscotching around the country, including to GOP strongholds, to fire up Democrats with vivid denunciations of Republican attitudes toward racial justice and abortion rights. The dynamic has raised the visibility of Harris, who is widely seen as a future White House aspirant herself but has struggled to find a path that would cement her standing with the Democratic base.”

Detroit News on what Auto Workers want in their latest contract negotiations: “A 32-hour work week, the ability to strike when a plant closes and paid volunteer work in the event of a closure.”

Kari Lake (R) said that instead of House Republicans trying to impeach President Biden, they should just “decertify the 2020 election” and reinstate Donald Trump to the presidency now.

“An Oklahoma man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to making death threats on social media against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and other high-profile Republican politicians,” the New York Times reports.

Washington Post: “Through the first five months of this year, U.S. imports from China were down 24 percent from the same period one year ago.”

Marketwatch: “Spend a day with young conservatives, and you may find that they don’t have much to say about the U.S. economy. Their current priorities — social issues like abortion and transgender rights — could be a signal that the modern conservative movement is moving away from its traditional messaging focused on free markets and smaller government.”

Elon Musk said that his fight against Mark Zuckerberg will be live-streamed on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, with all proceeds going to charity for veterans.  Zuckerberg responded on Threads: “Shouldn’t we use a more reliable platform that can actually raise money for charity?”

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

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