Cup of Joe – August 12, 2023

Wasting no time, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan issued a protective order in U.S. v. Donald Trump. Prosecutors are now expected to begin sharing evidence with Trump’s lawyers.

Chutkan rejected Donald Trump’s request to designate witness transcripts and videos as non-sensitive, and thereby exclude them from the protective order.

Said Chutkan: “Disclosure of any of those materials creates too great a risk that witnesses may be intimidated.”

She notes that Trump’s defense is “conflating what your client needs to do to defend himself and what your client wants to do politically. Your client’s defense is supposed to happen in this courtroom, not on the internet.”

She added: “He is a criminal defendant, he is going to have restrictions like every single other defendant.”

“The more a party makes inflammatory statements… the greater the urgency will be that we proceed to trial quickly… to ensure an impartial jury.”— Judge Tanya Chutkan, quoted by ABC News, issuing a warning to Donald Trump.

The Atlantic: “The effect of Chutkan’s courtroom comments was to put Trump on notice. If he continues to flout judicial warnings, she could place a more formal gag order on him, the ex-prosecutors said. And if he ignores that directive, she would likely issue additional warnings before considering a criminal-contempt citation. A further escalation… would be to hold a hearing and order Trump to show cause for why he should not be held in contempt.”

Said former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade: “Maybe she gives him a warning, and she gives him another chance and another chance, but eventually, her biggest hammer is to send him to jail.”

Special counsel Jack Smith’s team wants to begin jury selection in December for Donald Trump’s trial over charges that he tried to overturn the 2020 election.

Prosecutors says they want to start the trial on January 2, 2024. They expect it will take 4 to 6 weeks to present their case.

They also indicate they expect to produce almost all of the evidence in the case to Trump’s attorneys by August 28.

Trump could clinch the GOP presidential nomination and be convicted of multiple federal crimes — within a few weeks of each other.

Donald Trump accused Special Counsel Jack Smith of “election interference” on Truth Social for proposing a January 2, 2024 trial date.

Said Trump: “Deranged Jack Smith has just asked for a trial on the Biden Indictment to take place on January 2nd., just ahead of the important Iowa Caucuses. Only an out of touch lunatic would ask for such a date, ONE DAY into the New Year, and maximum Election Interference with IOWA!”

Trump said the trial “should only happen, if at all, AFTER THE ELECTION,” along with his other “Fake Biden Indictments.”

“Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigation appears to be zeroing in on Sidney Powell, a conspiracy-theory-obsessed lawyer who was a key figure in Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election,” Rolling Stone reports.

“Four sources with knowledge of the matter, several witnesses, and Trump allies who’ve appeared before the special counsel — including at least one in the past few days — team seem to agree: Powell should be preparing now for Smith to bring criminal charges.”

John Gruber: “The Post story focuses on Twitter’s stonewalling — which, given that it took place this year, I presume was driven by Elon Musk. But I’m keenly interested in what the search warrant was after. It wasn’t Trump’s tweets, which are public. So the obvious conclusion: his direct messages. Trump, famously, does not use email and, until this year, apparently didn’t use text messaging either. But did he send or receive DMs on Twitter? And was he stupid enough to put anything incriminating in them? Is he about to be hoisted with Twitter’s unencrypted petard?”

“It seems unlikely on the surface that someone who doesn’t use email or text messaging would use DMs, but if the special counsel was not looking for DMs, I’m not even sure what the warrant could have been after. There just isn’t much else associated with a Twitter account that isn’t public.”

“Donald Trump and one of his two co-defendants on Thursday pleaded not guilty in federal court to multiple charges alleging that the former president kept classified documents at his Florida property and, with the help of aides, tried to hide some of the material from government officials seeking to get them back,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump entered his plea through his attorneys and was not present at the hearing.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed David Weiss to be special counsel overseeing investigations into Hunter Biden.

Garland had long insisted Weiss had the authority he needed to investigate Hunter Biden without special counsel status.

“President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden may be headed for trial on criminal charges after talks on a potential plea deal reached impasse, the newly named U.S. Special Counsel in the case, David Weiss, said on Friday,” Reuters reports.

Punchbowl News: “This is a stunning turnaround that could have major implications for President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign. House Republicans have been pressing for a possible impeachment inquiry over the Hunter Biden scandal, arguing that the president has refused to turn over information about how deeply he was involved with his son’s business dealings.”

“The undersigned request that you provide U.S. Attorney Weiss the full protections and authorities of a special counsel.”

— Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on September 16, 2022.

“There may be others who would be a worse pick than U.S. Attorney Weiss to be special counsel, but based on the prosecution of Hunter Biden to date, he has got to be close to the worst pick. This is unbelievable.”

— Johnson, in a tweet today.

“If former President Donald Trump is indicted in Georgia, some believe he may face felony counts unlike any of the 78 charges already filed against him,” CBS News reports.

“Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis could pursue Trump under a law commonly known for its use against organized crime, but that has far broader applications — the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, better known as RICO.”

“Georgia’s RICO statute is considered to be more expansive in scope than the federal code from which it is derived. In Georgia, prosecutors are able to point to a range of organized or related attempts to engage in predicate acts or predicate crimes, which include everything from violent crimes such as murder or arson, to false statements and obstruction of justice.”

The Guardian: Trump allies face potential charges in Georgia over voting machine breaches.

“Sam Bankman-Fried was sent to jail Friday to await trial after a bail hearing for the fallen cryptocurrency wiz left a judge convinced that he had repeatedly tried to influence witnesses against him,” the AP reports.

Said U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan: “There is probable cause to believe that the defendant has attempted to tamper with witnesses at least twice.”

“The Ohio Supreme Court cleared the path for a November vote on abortion access by rejecting a legal challenge to backers’ petitions,” the Columbus Dispatch reports.

“In a unanimous decision, the Ohio Supreme Court denied a lawsuit filed by several Republicans to boot the measure from the Nov. 7 ballot. The GOP politicos had argued that abortion rights activists failed to include on their petitions the language of state abortion laws that would be repealed if the constitutional amendment passed.”

New York Times: “If anyone doubted the message that voters have been sending in election after election since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, Ohioans underscored it once more on Tuesday: Voters are highly motivated by abortion. They have repeatedly supported abortion rights even in red states, and have turned out to say so even on typically low-turnout primary dates.”

“That was clear in Kansas a year ago, when voters in a highly Republican state overwhelmingly rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed legislators to ban abortion. It was clear in November, when abortion-related questions were on the ballot in five states with different political leanings, and all five states voted in favor of abortion rights. It was clear this April, when a majority of voters in closely divided Wisconsin elected a liberal Supreme Court justice who had run on her support for abortion rights.”

“And now it is clear in Ohio, where voters turned out in much larger numbers than is normal in an August election, and voted against the amendment by 14 percentage points in a state that voted for Donald J. Trump in 2020 by about eight points.”

Ann Coulter: “Since Dobbs, voters haven’t approved abortion restrictions in ANY STATE. They’ve rejected abortion restrictions in Kentucky, Montana, Michigan, Kansas, Vermont and California … and now, Ohio.”

“By the time Republicans notice states keep voting IN FAVOR of abortion, there will be no elected Republicans left.”

“The United States and Iran have reached an agreement to win the freedom of five imprisoned Americans in exchange for several jailed Iranians and the unfreezing of about $6 billion in Iranian oil revenue,” the New York Times reports.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told a radio show that he is “thinking seriously” about becoming an independent. Said Manchin: “I’ve been thinking seriously about that for quite some time.”

“When President Joe Biden marks the first anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act next week with a major celebration at the White House, one prominent invited guest is not expected to be in the crowd,” NBC News reports.

“The decision by Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to skip the White House’s campaign-style affair highlighting the climate and health spending law he helped write — and name — is just the latest sign of an increasingly fraught relationship between Manchin, a conservative Democrat, and the Biden administration.”

Politico: “By Sept. 30, House GOP leaders have to pass a major bipartisan spending deal or a short-term patch to keep the government open, with both options requiring cooperation from McCarthy’s hardliners. But those recalcitrant conservatives are signaling they’ll be loath to support either solution, almost certainly putting the onus on House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and his Democrats to help avert disaster.”

“What’s more unusual this time, though, is that Democrats will probably need to do more than simply chip in to pass a bipartisan deal or a deadline extension. They’ll have to vote to help Republicans move any agreement to the House floor.”

House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) “said that his committee, which has been investigating the foreign business dealings of President Biden’s family members, will eventually move to subpoena the Biden family – a move Comer hinted could include the president himself,” The Hill reports. Said Comer: “This is always going to end with the Bidens coming in front of the committee. We are going to subpoena the family.”

“The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked a nationwide settlement with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma that would shield members of the Sackler family who own the company from civil lawsuits over the toll of opioids,” the AP reports.

“The justices agreed to a request from the Biden administration to put the brakes on an agreement reached last year with state and local governments. In addition, the high court will hear arguments before the end of the year over whether the settlement can proceed.”

“Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Thursday that he would be open to using drone strikes against Mexican drug cartels if elected president,” NBC News reports.

“Florida students will now be required to get their parents’ consent before using a nickname in schools, a move that critics say targets the LGBTQ+ community and could extend well beyond,” People reports.

“The rule would impact everyone from students who prefer using a shorthand nickname (‘Tom’ versus ‘Thomas,’ for instance), to those who prefer a different name altogether, including transgender students (who have already been the target of numerous pieces of legislation in Florida in recent months).”

“But even if a transgender student did get permission from their parent to use a different name, teachers would still not be obligated to use that student’s preferred pronouns.”

“President Biden on Thursday asked Congress to approve $20.6 billion in additional funding for Ukraine, as that country’s military struggles to achieve a decisive victory in its counteroffensive against Russia,” the Washington Post reports.

“Russia launched a spacecraft Friday that is headed to the moon — its first attempt since 1976, around when the Soviet Union and United States were in deep competition for space dominance during the Cold War,” the Washington Post reports.

“Moscow is now hoping to make history, in a race to be the first country to make a soft landing on the moon’s icy south pole.”

“Two prominent conservative law professors have concluded that Donald Trump is ineligible to be president under a provision of the Constitution that bars people who have engaged in an insurrection from holding government office,” the New York Times reports.

“The professors are active members of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal group, and proponents of originalism, the method of interpretation that seeks to determine the Constitution’s original meaning.”

“The social media company owned by former President Donald Trump in March tipped off the FBI about threats made by a Utah man who was fatally shot Wednesday by FBI agents as they attempted to arrest him for threatening to kill President Joe Biden,” NBC News reports.

President Biden blasted China’s economic problems as a “ticking time bomb” and referred to Communist Party leaders as “bad folks,” his latest barb against President Xi Jinping’s government even as his administration seeks to improve overall ties with Beijing, Bloomberg reports.

Biden said at a political fundraiser Thursday that China was in “trouble” because its growth has slowed and it had the “highest unemployment rate going.”

“California regulators voted Thursday to allow self-driving car companies Waymo and Cruise to offer 24/7 paid taxi service in San Francisco, a major win for the industry that could pave the way for more widespread adoption of the technology,” the Washington Post reports.

Media Matters analysis of Fox’s new prime-time lineup finds that ratings have fallen roughly 30% since Tucker Carlson’s firing, and over 45% in the key 25-54 year-old demographic.

“Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson could see two of the wealthiest GOP business megadonors, Rebekah Mercer and Peter Thiel, invest in his new media company,” CNBC reports. “Mercer has spoken with Carlson since his April departure from Fox News about possibly investing in his as yet unnamed media company…Thiel has hinted to allies that he could invest in the venture after hearing from Carlson’s side.”

“Fox Corporation’s chief legal officer, Viet Dinh, is departing, the company announced on Friday, in a major shake-up at the company after the landmark $787.5 million settlement it paid to Dominion Voting Systems in April,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Dinh, a former official in the George W. Bush White House who amassed considerable power inside Fox, will stay on through the rest of the year.”

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) says that electing Donald Trump back to the White House in 2024 would put “a criminal enterprise” in the executive mansion, the Washington Examiner reports. Said Pelosi: “Don’t even think of that. Don’t think of the world being on fire. It cannot happen, or we will not be the United States of America. “If he were to be president, it would be a criminal enterprise in the White House.”

The Hill: “After stepping down as Speaker last year, Pelosi has flown largely under the radar in the Democratic caucus, allowing a crop of new leaders to take control of the group she steered for two decades.”

“But the California Democrat — now with the title of “Speaker Emerita” — resumed her role of top Trump antagonist following his latest indictment, landing blows on the former president, praising the charges, and showcasing her unique ability to get under the skin of the man with whom she went toe-to-toe during the four years he occupied the White House.”

“A veteran FBI counterintelligence agent says his supervisor told him to stop investigating Rudy Giuliani and to cut off contact with any sources who reported on corruption by associates of former President Donald Trump,” Insider reports.

Well-connected GOP donor Anton “Tony” Lazzaro, who was convicted of giving teenage girls gifts, alcohol and money in exchange for sex, was sentenced Wednesday to 21 years in prison on sex trafficking charges, the AP reports.

“The mother of a 30-year-old Michigan man who’s accused of making death threats against Democratic politicians is now charged with lying when she purchased firearms later found in her son’s possession,” the AP reports.

 “Women working in the White House earn 20 percent less than their male colleagues, according to the latest figures, despite President Biden’s efforts to narrow America’s gender pay gap,” the Times of London reports.

“West African leaders have ordered a standby force to be immediately activated for possible use against coup leaders in Niger after the junta defied the bloc’s deadline to reinstate the ousted president,” the Times of London reports.

“You can basically make up your own reality in right-wing media.”— Former Republican staff Justin Higgins, quoted by Newsweek.

“Births in China could drop below 8 million this year, setting a record low and further clouding the country’s gloomy demographic outlook,” the South China Morning Post reports.

“Chinese banks extended the smallest amount of monthly loans since 2009 in July, a further sign of weak demand in the world’s second-largest economy that raises the risk of prolonged deflation pressure,” Bloomberg reports.

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

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