Cup of Joe – August 11, 2023

Special counsel Jack Smith subpoenaed and obtained a search warrant related to Donald Trump’s account on X, formerly known as Twitter, The Hill reports.

 “The social media company Twitter was forced to hand over records from former president Donald Trump’s account to the special counsel investigating the events leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack and pay sanctions for failing to do so more quickly,” the Washington Post reports.

“A lower-court judge, Beryl A. Howell, ruled in March that Twitter, now renamed X, had to comply with a sealed search warrant issued by the special counsel and pay $350,000 for missing a court-ordered deadline by three days.”

“Donald Trump has warned that he may be forced off the campaign trail to defend himself against what he called ‘bullshit’ criminal charges brought by federal and state prosecutors,” the Financial Times reports.

“At a campaign speech on Tuesday in a high school gym in southern New Hampshire, a critical state in the 2024 Republican primaries, the legally embattled former president railed against his political opponents and the justice department, vowing retribution against the ‘deep state’ if he returns to the White House next year.”

“I could have been relaxing at Mar-a-Lago or the south of France, which I would prefer to being in this country frankly.”— Donald Trump, at a campaign event in New Hampshire.

“A Mar-a-Lago property manager and former President Donald Trump’s personal aide are set to be arraigned Thursday morning in Fort Pierce, Florida, on new charges brought by the special counsel in the case regarding the mishandling of classified documents,” CNN reports.

“Carlos De Oliveira, the Florida property manager, and Trump’s body-man Walt Nauta have been charged with multiple offenses related to Trump’s allegedly unlawful retention of documents after leaving office, including classified material.”

“As lawyers for Donald Trump float various legal arguments to defend him in court against an onslaught of criminal charges, the former president has settled on a political defense: ‘I’m being indicted for you,’” the New York Times reports. In speeches, social media posts and ads, Mr. Trump has repeatedly declared the prosecutions a political witch hunt, and he has cast himself as a martyr who is taking hits from Democrats and the government on their behalf.”

Said Trump: “They want to take away my freedom because I will never let them take away your freedom. They want to silence me because I will never let them silence you.”

“GOP strategists and pollsters expect former President Trump’s criminal trials to divide their party, creating a challenge for the Senate and House Republican candidates who will have to walk a fine line on the issue,” The Hill reports.

“A decisive defeat for abortion foes in the red state of Ohio, the seventh such loss since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, has sent alarm bells ringing among some Republicans and prominent conservatives over the clear salience of the issue,” NBC News reports.

“But Republican strategists face a no-win conundrum. Retreating on abortion would infuriate the majority of their base that wants to ban the procedure, while their current strategy is alienating a formidable slice of swing voters who favor some GOP positions but oppose the party’s stance on reproductive rights.”

Philip Bump: “A review of six statewide votes since last year, including Ohio’s, shows that in 500 of 510 counties, access to abortion outperformed President Biden’s 2020 results.”

“Across those counties, including a lot of deep-red ones, the margin of support for abortion access topped Biden’s 2020 margin by an average of 26 points, a significant shift to the left.”

Trae Crowder: “Did they think people were going to line up around the block to disenfranchise themselves?”

“You’ve had three in a row where that case hasn’t been made or is not resonant, and these are not close. In modern American politics, these are blowouts!”— Steve Bannon, quoted by MSN, on the anti-abortion movement’s string of losses.

New York Times: “In addition to their views on abortion, many who cast ballots in Ohio’s referendum on Tuesday said they felt the measure’s backers weren’t honest about its purpose.”

Dan Pfeiffer: “Issue One generated an absurdly high turnout for a single-issue election in the summer. The Dobbs decision changed the trajectory of the midterms. The evidence is overwhelming. Abortion is a critical issue for Democratic victories in 2024.”

“Although abortion remains a dominant and galvanizing issue a year after the Dobbs decision, it won’t necessarily be so when people start voting next fall. Ultimately, the salience of the issue is up to Democrats. Like in Ohio, Republicans will do everything possible to distract from their extreme positions on abortion.”

“So, Democrats need to talk about abortion, put it in our ads, run on passing a federal law codifying Roe if we expand our Senate majority, and remind every voter that one of the first acts of a Republican President and Congress will be to pass a nationwide abortion ban.”

New York Magazine: “In theory, one can envision a deal that looks something like this: Trump pleads guilty to a small number of federal charges with the lowest statutory maximum penalties — say, the charge against him for causing the false certification provided in response to the Justice Department’s grand jury subpoena in Florida and the charge against him in Washington for conspiring to defraud the government, both of which have five-year maximum terms of imprisonment upon a conviction. With Trump agreeing to end his White House bid, federal prosecutors could agree to dismiss the remaining charges and not to seek prison time on the counts of conviction, with local prosecutors following suit.”

“All of this, however, is easier said than done. For starters, Justice Department policy generally requires prosecutors considering a plea agreement to “’nclude the most serious readily provable offense.’ This allows for the considerable exercise of judgment, but it is hard to see the government entirely forgoing the most serious pending charges against Trump — like the counts for obstructing the electoral certification and those for obstructing the federal investigation in Florida (all carry 20-year statutory maximum penalties).”

“Trump is also a singularly unappealing candidate for prosecutors to work out a generous plea deal with. He is now constantly railing and threatening retribution against them, and he is unreliable.”

“The consumer price index rose 3.2% from a year ago in July, a sign that inflation has lost at least some of its grip on the U.S. economy,” CNBC reports.

New York Times: “Fed officials do expect to cut interest rates next year, but only slightly — they think it could be several years before rates return to a level between 2 and 3 percent, like their peak in the years before the pandemic.”

Wall Street Journal: “Geopolitical tensions, heightened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, are leading to more curbs in the U.S. and Europe on doing business with China.”

“The sheer scale and complexity of global trade and investment links, however, mean any process of disentangling the world economy into blocks of like-minded countries is likely to be gradual and incomplete.”

Punchbowl News: “It’s been a cheery few months for the U.S. economy. Growth is solid, inflation is down — there will be more to say on this issue later in the week — and unemployment is holding steady at low rates not seen since the 1960s. The stock market and manufacturing investment are both way up.”

“‘Bidenomics’ may not be ‘It’s morning again in America,’ but it ain’t bad.” “Yet the past week has also made clear the financial system propping up that economy is facing some serious stress.

 “A Utah man was shot and killed during an FBI raid early Wednesday morning,” ABC News reports.  “The raid was in connection with an investigation into alleged threats against President Joe Biden and others.”

Josh Marshall: “I read through the criminal complaint against Craig Robertson, the man killed this morning during an FBI raid tied to threats he allegedly made to kill President Biden, New York City DA Alvin Bragg, New York AG Letitia James, AG Merrick Garland as well as Vice President Harris and California Governor Newsom.

As you’d expect, the complaint details numerous social media posts showing Robertson threatening to kill the men and women above and showing that he possessed a sniper rifle and a substantial arsenal of assault rifles. Two FBI agents recently visited his residence and asked to speak with him about his posts. He essentially told them to get lost and then, in follow-on posts, started threatening to kill them if they returned

The move to arrest Robertson this morning appears to have been triggered by a Sunday post in which he threatened to murder President Biden with a sniper rifle and a “ghillie suit” during the President’s visit to Utah today. As the complaint explains, Robertson’s alleged social media posts suggest he did in fact own a sniper and a ghillie suit, which is essentially a sniper’s camouflage suit that makes you look a bit like Sasquatch.

What’s notable about the complaint is how many of Robertson’s threats and complaints mirror standard GOP talking points from Capitol Hill. He refers to the FBI visits in response to his threats to murder Alvin Bragg and President Biden as an example of “the WEAPONIZED FBI coming after a 75 year old conservative,” and he makes general complaints about the FBI monitoring conservative social media. He also criticizes Facebook for censoring his assassination threats. Of course, he walked around in a Trump hat and identified himself as a “MAGA TRUMPER,” which from the material noted above seems like a credible claim.”

“Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is expected to seek more than a dozen indictments when she presents her case regarding efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia before a grand jury next week,” CNN reports.

“Willis has been eyeing conspiracy and racketeering charges, which would allow her to bring a case against multiple defendants. Her wide-ranging criminal probe focuses on efforts to pressure election officials, the plot to put forward fake electors and a voting systems breach in rural Coffee County, Georgia.”

Three sources who have spoken with prosecutors tell Rolling Stone that they believe that Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis is likely to indict not just Donald Trump, but a number of his associates involved in attempting to overturn the election, as well. 

Said one lawyer: “It really seems like they’re coming for everyone. Based on what I know, Willis and her team do not seem to be stopping at Donald Trump. The scope for this is probably going to be a hell of a lot wider than that…and round up a significant number of people.”

“Donald Trump is airing a television ad in Atlanta, and other TV markets, that attacks the Fulton County district attorney who could soon charge the former president with his fourth criminal indictment,” NBC News reports.

“The one-minute political ad will air in Atlanta, New York and Washington, D.C., as well as nationally.”

“Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis on Wednesday flatly denied that she had a relationship with a former client and other rumors spread by former President Donald Trump in a new campaign ad,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Said Willis, in a letter to colleagues: “You may not comment in any way on the ad or any of the negativity that may be expressed against me, your colleagues, this office in the coming days, weeks or months. We have no personal feelings against those we investigate or prosecute and we should not express any.”

Donald Trump’s lawyers have asked Judge Aileen Cannon to approve the reestablishment of a SCIF at Mar-a-Lago, saying it would be more cost-effective than sending Trump and his Secret Service detail to remote facilities.

“A lawyer allied with President Donald Trump first laid out a plot to use false slates of electors to subvert the 2020 election in a previously unknown internal campaign memo that prosecutors are portraying as a crucial link in how the Trump team’s efforts evolved into a criminal conspiracy,” the New York Times reports. “The existence of the Dec. 6, 2020, memo came to light in last week’s indictment of Mr. Trump, though its details remained unclear. But a copy obtained by The New York Times shows for the first time that the lawyer, Kenneth Chesebro, acknowledged from the start that he was proposing ‘a bold, controversial strategy’ that the Supreme Court ‘likely’ would reject in the end.”

“But even if the plan did not ultimately pass legal muster at the highest level, Mr. Chesebro argued that it would achieve two goals. It would focus attention on claims of voter fraud and ‘buy the Trump campaign more time to win litigation that would deprive Biden of electoral votes and/or add to Trump’s column.’”

Washington Post: “Trump’s defenders have long insisted that the elector scheme was legal because the slates met as mere placeholders, to be activated only if the campaign won in court. Prosecutors now charge that Trump, Giuliani and others intended all along to use the electors to falsely claim the outcome of the election was in doubt, facilitating an effort to obstruct the certification of Biden’s victory in Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.”

“Legal experts said proving that Trump and his co-conspirators were lying when they said the electors were meeting just in case will be a central challenge of winning a conviction. Especially important may be the experience in Pennsylvania, where new interviews by The Washington Post reveal the extent of discomfort with the plan by Trump electors.”

“In five other states, Republicans did not hedge. Instead, they signed paperwork claiming to be electors for the president and casting their votes for Trump, even though he had lost their states.”

ProPublica: “The fullest accounting yet shows how Thomas has secretly reaped the benefits from a network of wealthy and well-connected patrons that is far more extensive than previously understood.”

“House Oversight Republicans laid out their intention to accuse President Joe Biden of corruption even without direct evidence that he financially benefited from Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings, a clear shift in their strategy that they said was launched to investigate the president,” CNN reports.

“The new strategy is highlighted in a memo released by the committee on Wednesday.”

“The memo follows the increasing drumbeat from many House Republicans – and certainly the GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump – to pursue impeachment of the sitting president even without a clear establishment of facts.”

Punchbowl News: “It’s a stunning claim for Comer to make, and it isn’t backed up by evidence of any bribe given to Joe Biden — at least none seen so far. Yet the repeated allegations by Comer against Biden show the direction House Republicans are moving in on an impeachment inquiry.”

“Up to this point, Republicans haven’t tied any official actions by Biden as vice president to the money received by Hunter Biden, other family members or their business associates. The Republicans’ basic thrust is that there has to be corruption or something illegal going on because it all seems so sordid.”

Philip Bump: So where’s the bribe, James Comer?

A Kremlin spokesperson said that Russian President Vladimir Putin can choose not to hold presidential elections next year because he will “obviously” win re-election, the Moscow Times reports.

“A Russian military plane made a mysterious trip to Pyongyang on August 1, according to flight radar,” the Daily Beast reports. “The mysterious flight comes a week after Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Pyongyang with the goal of convincing leadership in North Korea to boost weapons sales to Russia.”

“The White House is expected to formally ask Congress for supplemental funding for Ukraine and domestic disaster relief as soon as this week,” Punchbowl News reports. “While the exact timing of the request remains fluid, the funding proposal will tee up a high-stakes political battle when Congress returns from recess. This will be a major test of U.S. support for Ukraine that could see Republican defense hawks join forces with the Biden administration against Donald Trump-aligned conservatives.”

“Most importantly, it will come as Ukraine is in the midst of a slow-moving counteroffensive against Russia.”

“China’s trade plunged in July as slowing global demand clouded the outlook for exports, while domestic pressures weighed on imports in a hit to the economic recovery,” Bloomberg reports.

“After years of blacklisting Chinese companies and scrutinizing their investments in the U.S., the Biden administration is sending an unmistakable signal to American business to steer investment away from China,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“An executive order President Biden issued Wednesday—while narrowly targeted at critical leading-edge technologies with military, surveillance and cyber capabilities—more broadly aims to reorder the flow of American capital and expertise away from its biggest global rival.”

“The U.S. is set to ban private-equity and venture-capital investments in some Chinese technology companies under an executive order the Biden administration will release Wednesday, escalating Washington’s efforts to prevent Beijing from developing cutting-edge technology for its military,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

 “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un replaced the military’s top general and called for more preparations for the possibility of war, a boost in weapons production, and expansion of military drills,” Reuters reports.

“An elite group of North Korean hackers secretly breached computer networks at a major Russian missile developer for at least five months last year,” Reuters reports. “Reuters found cyber-espionage teams linked to the North Korean government, which security researchers call ScarCruft and Lazarus, secretly installed stealthy digital backdoors into systems at NPO Mashinostroyeniya, a rocket design bureau based in Reutov, a small town on the outskirts of Moscow.”

“Pakistan’s jailing of opposition leader Imran Khan and moves to delay national elections have thrown the nation into political uncertainty that analysts say puts at risk its fragile democracy,” the Financial Times reports.

Washington Examiner: “Campaigns for eight Democratic and Republican politicians have paid over $41,500 combined between 2011 and 2023 for advertisements in Sing Tao U.S… The newspaper is a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-based Sing Tao News Corporation and reported itself as a foreign agent in 2021 that is involved in ‘political activity.’”

The Economist: “Latin America is no stranger to supplying the world with raw materials, but it could be on the verge of a boom.”

“Three forces are pushing the region to become this century’s commodity superpower. The green transition is increasing demand for metals and minerals that Latin America has in large supply, as well as the renewable energy to process them. The region already supplies more than a third of the world’s copper, used in wiring and wind turbines, and half of its silver, a component of solar panels. Its fertile land produces enough grain, animals, coffee and sugar to help feed a growing global population. Geopolitical tensions between the United States and China are causing countries to look fondly upon investing in a relatively neutral region.”

“With inflation at 116%, Argentina feels like a country careening out of control. The big question in this weekend’s presidential ballot is who, if anyone, can avert a crash,” Bloomberg reports. “What’s perhaps scariest for Argentines—at a time when pandemic inflation is subsiding elsewhere in the world—is that things could get worse before they get better, regardless of who’s elected president.”

“Ecuador presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated while leaving a political rally less than two weeks before the vote as a wave of political and drug violence roils the Andean nation,” Bloomberg reports.

“Villavicencio, an anti-graft crusader and journalist, was murdered while leaving a school in Quito. President Guillermo Lasso confirmed the killing in a statement, and pledged to bring the culprits to justice.”

New York Times: “His death provoked immediate alarm in Ecuador, a once relatively safe nation that has been consumed by violence related to narcotrafficking.”

Hackers gained access to the U.K.’s election regulator, the Electoral Commission, for more than a year, NBC News reports.

 “In the fall of 2020, the National Security Agency made an alarming discovery: Chinese military hackers had compromised classified defense networks of the United States’ most important strategic ally in East Asia. Cyberspies from the People’s Liberation Army had wormed their way into Japan’s most sensitive computer systems,” the Washington Post reports. “The hackers had deep, persistent access and appeared to be after anything they could get their hands on — plans, capabilities, assessments of military shortcomings.”

“An aggressive push is underway for the expulsion of Reuben Brigety, the United States ambassador who unleashed a diplomatic storm when he alleged that South Africa loaded arms on the Russian cargo ship, Lady R — jeopardizing the country’s future trade with the world superpower,” the Mail & Guardian reports.

Chris Bryant, a British lawmaker out with a new book, says he has been sexually assaulted on multiple occasions by other members of the British parliament, The Guardian reports. Writes Bryant, who is gay: “Over the years five male MPs have felt my bottom uninvited.” He added: “One of them, who was not out, did so repeatedly. Another, who is still in the house and still does not accept that he is gay, pushed me against a wall and felt my crotch. Another rubbed himself behind me in the queue to vote and was later snogging two men in the Strangers’ Bar.”

“Donald Trump is concerned that evidence sought by Michael Cohen in a $500 million lawsuit the former president filed against his ex-lawyer could potentially incriminate him in other cases,” Bloomberg reports. “Trump argued in a court filing Wednesday in Miami that documents sought by Cohen, particularly Trump Organization financial records, should be covered by a confidentiality order amid the former president’s separate criminal proceedings. Cohen has said the evidence should be made public, regardless of any prosecutions.”

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

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