Cup of Joe – August 16, 2023

The New York Times looks at all 41 criminal counts in the indictment, including the 13 against Donald Trump himself.

“The new indictment from Fulton County DA Fani Willis’ office is Trump’s greatest legal threat yet,” Insider reports.

“The most significant charge against the former president — RICO — carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison…”

“And if Trump is convicted, a judge can take his entire judicial history into account during sentencing.”

“Moreover, Georgia is one of the few states where the governor doesn’t have any pardon power. Trump would have to apply for a pardon to an independent board. And he wouldn’t be allowed to do that until he’s already served five years in prison.”

The 41-count indictment charging Donald Trump and 18 others for the their role in a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia is absolutely massive.

Said former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean: “It’s much bigger than Watergate.”

Consider some of the individuals indicted last night:

  • Mark Meadows, White House chief of staff
  • Rudy Giuliani, Trump lawyer
  • John Eastman, Trump lawyer
  • Jeffrey Clark, top Justice Department official
  • Jenna Ellis, Trump campaign lawyer
  • Sidney Powell, Trump campaign lawyer
  • Mike Roman, Trump campaign official
  • Kenneth Chesebro, pro-Trump lawyer
  • David Shafer, Georgia GOP chair and fake elector

There were nine others. And that’s not to mention the 30 co-conspirators mentioned in the indictment who were not charged.

But after a packed summer of Trump legal drama it’s still easy to miss the scale of the complicity of Republican officials, especially when considering the additional federal charges brought earlier by Special Counsel Jack Smith. 

The big picture view is that much of the Republican Party conspired with Trump to overturn an election. Its most powerful elected officials continue to defend him. The majority of its voters still rally around him.

This is essentially a RICO indictment of the Republican Party. 

Peter Baker: “The nation once recoiled at presidential candidates caught driving under the influence or swiping lines in a speech without credit. Now one of the two major parties has not ruled out a front-runner charged with conspiring to subvert democracy, endangering national security, obstructing justice and falsifying records of hush money to a pornographic film star.”

“The notion that a rap sheet with multiple felonies would not be automatically disqualifying would have stunned the 44 presidents who came before him, including the Republicans.”

New York Times: “Moving the sprawling racketeering case against him and his allies to federal court would have advantages for Mr. Trump, the most obvious being that the jury pool for a trial would be drawn from a broader area than Fulton County, Ga., the Democratic stronghold where the charges were brought on Monday night.”

“And it could make it more likely that the U.S. Supreme Court, a third of whose justices are Trump appointees, would ultimately weigh in on where the trial should be held.”

Former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean told CNN that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis had not just charged Donald Trump with criminally conspiring to overthrow the 2020 election, “she threw the book at him.”

He added that the case “is much bigger than Watergate… it’s of a whole different dimension.”

Said Dean: “It goes to the very foundation of democracy. Nixon abused some powers, he exceeded his authority when he shouldn’t, but he wasn’t taking on the basics of the country, whereas Trump wanted to stay in office, he wanted to use Georgia and abuse Georgia as part of that plan, and so this is very different and much more serious and much more troubling.”

Axios: “Georgia law requires that cameras be allowed during judicial proceedings with a judge’s approval. Cameras are seen as an important aspect of transparency.”

“A judge would need a compelling reason — such as a juvenile victim or witness — to bar them… Neither are likely to apply.”

Washington Post: “Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat has said that if Trump is charged, he will be treated like any other arrestee -– subject to a mugshot that could be made public and a surrender at the county jail where squalid conditions and an inmate death recently sparked a Justice Department investigation.”

Said Labat: “Unless someone tells me differently, we are following our normal practices.”

“I don’t feel any satisfaction. I feel great, profound sadness that we have a former president who’s been indicted on so many charges…”— Hillary Clinton, on MSNBC.

“This should be decided at the ballot box and not in a bunch of liberal jurisdictions trying to put the man in jail. They’re weaponizing the law.”— Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), on Fox News, talking about the pending indictments against Donald Trump.

Of course, Trump and Graham didn’t accept the ballot box results in 2020, which is why we’re here.

“Lawyers for President Biden’s son Hunter Biden argue in a new court filing that part of their failed plea deal with federal prosecutors should still stand, because a judge’s approval was never needed to handle a gun possession charge through a diversion program,” the Washington Post reports.

“Hunter Biden shifted his legal team Monday by officially adding attorney Abbe Lowell to help handle his response to the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation,“ Axios reports.

“Adding Lowell, a high-profile D.C. lawyer, is a move toward a more publicly combative strategy by the president’s son after plea deal talks on tax and gun charges broke down last week — and after Attorney General Merrick Garland elevated the case’s prosecutor to special counsel.”

“The top Republican on the House Oversight Committee intends to call President Joe Biden to testify in an ongoing investigation into the overseas business dealings of his son, Hunter Biden,” Time reports.

“Such a move would set off a tug of war between Congress and the White House, but it’s unlikely Biden would ultimately be forced to appear. It’s very rare for a sitting President to testify before Congressional committees, and no sitting president has ever been forced to answer questions in front of Congress.”

“Only three sitting Presidents have ever testified before Congressional committees—Abraham Lincoln in 1862, Woodrow Wilson in 1919, and Gerald Ford in 1974—and they all appeared voluntarily.”

After getting off a House GOP caucus call, Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) tweeted: “It’s clear President Biden and Speaker McCarthy want a government shutdown, so that’s what Congress will do after we return in September. Everyone should plan accordingly.”

“House Republicans are eyeing a short-term funding stopgap to keep the government open past the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 as lawmakers struggle through an appropriations process characterized by conservatives’ push to slash spending,” The Hill reports.

“McCarthy said he does not want the CR to be jammed at the end of the year or stretch into the December holidays… But a CR likely won’t come easily. Some members of the party’s right flank have stressed they will only vote for bills that set funding at fiscal 2022 levels, and a CR would keep spending the same as in fiscal 2023.”

“Donald Trump on Monday lost his bid for the Manhattan judge presiding over his criminal hush-money prosecution to step down and have the case reassigned,” The Messenger reports.

Daily Beast: “For months, critics of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr.’s case have called it weak because the case criminally charges Trump with faking business records—a lowly misdemeanor only bumped up to a felony on a technicality.”

“Except that Trump’s ploy to move the case to federal court gave a judge there the opportunity to take the first swing. And he used that opportunity to make it clear that the case against Trump is far more serious than it otherwise seems—and that the burden for proving that Trump’s alleged falsification of business records are felonies is low.”

“Former President Donald Trump is trying to put on hold one of the January 6-related lawsuits he faces because he is now facing criminal charges,” CNN reports.

“The lawsuit accuses Trump of having responsibility for the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick and is at an early stage.”

“Federal judges reviewing Alabama’s new congressional map on Monday sharply questioned if state lawmakers ignored the court’s directive to create a second-majority Black district, so minority voters have a fair opportunity to influence elections,” the AP reports.

“The three-judge panel held a hearing as they weigh whether to let the map stand or to step in and draw new congressional districts for the state. The panel heard arguments Monday but did not indicate when it would rule.”

“Alabama was forced to draw new district lines after the U.S. Supreme Court, in a surprise June decision, upheld the panel’s earlier finding that the state’s then-map — which had just one Black-majority district out of seven in a state where more than one in four residents is Black — likely violated the federal Voting Rights Act.”

“From the moment special counsel Jack Smith listed six co-conspirators in Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 indictment but didn’t name or charge them, a major question has been which of them might be tempted to flip and serve as witnesses for the prosecution,” the Washington Post reports.

“Then Trump’s legal team set about previewing in the media an ‘advice of counsel’ defense — one that could seemingly lay at least some blame at the feet of the co-conspirators who provided him that legal advice.”

“Predictable finger-pointing has now commenced.”

“Nearly a dozen Republican-appointed former judges and high-ranking federal senior legal officials on Monday endorsed the January 2, 2024, trial date proposed by special counsel Jack Smith in his 2020 election interference criminal case against Donald Trump,” CNN reports.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin criticized Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) ongoing hold on hundreds of military promotions as an “unprecedented” move that threatens the country’s safety, NBC News reports.

Said Austin: “Because of this blanket hold, starting today, for the first time in the history of the Department of Defense, three of our military services are operating without Senate-confirmed leaders.”

He added: “This is unprecedented, it is unnecessary, and it is unsafe. This sweeping hold is undermining America’s military readiness. It’s hindering our ability to retain our very best officers. And it’s upending the lives of far too many American military families.”

David Brooks: “I was recently talking with a restaurant owner who said that he has to eject a customer from his restaurant for rude or cruel behavior once a week—something that never used to happen. A head nurse at a hospital told me that many on her staff are leaving the profession because patients have become so abusive. At the far extreme of meanness, hate crimes rose in 2020 to their highest level in 12 years. Murder rates have been surging, at least until recently. Same with gun sales. Social trust is plummeting. In 2000, two-thirds of American households gave to charity; in 2018, fewer than half did. The words that define our age reek of menace: conspiracy, polarization, mass shootings, trauma, safe spaces.”

“We’re enmeshed in some sort of emotional, relational, and spiritual crisis, and it undergirds our political dysfunction and the general crisis of our democracy. What is going on?”

“In the first ruling of its kind nationwide, a Montana state court decided Monday in favor of young people who alleged the state violated their right to a ‘clean and healthful environment’ by promoting the use of fossil fuels,” the Washington Post reports.

“The court determined that a provision in the Montana Environmental Policy Act has harmed the state’s environment and the young plaintiffs, by preventing Montana from considering the climate impacts of energy projects. The provision is accordingly unconstitutional, the court said.”

“The win, experts say, could energize the environmental movement and reshape climate litigation across the country, ushering in a wave of cases aimed at advancing action on climate change.”

NBC News: “The administration of former President Donald Trump obstructed an investigation looking into why officials withheld about $20 billion in hurricane relief for Puerto Rico following the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017, one of the deadliest U.S. natural disasters in over 100 years, a new report says.”

“The Argentine peso plunged Monday after a shaggy-haired 52-year—old anti-establishment candidate who admires former President Donald Trump came first in primary elections that will help determine the country’s next president,” the AP reports.

Javier Milei “wants to replace the peso with the dollar, and says that Argentina’s Central Bank should be abolished, and that he thinks climate change is a lie. He has characterized sex education as a ploy to destroy the family and has said that he believes the sale of human organs should be legal and it should be easier for Argentines to own handguns.”

“You are a fucking full-on dick! You better recalculate, motherfucker!”— Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX.) to a Texas state trooper in bodycam footage.

“The ruble hit a 17-month low against the dollar Monday, highlighting the growing squeeze on Russia’s economy from Western sanctions and a slump in export revenues,” CNN reports.

Jonathan Martin: “Mitch McConnell has made it his practice to dodge questions about Donald Trump. Whether it be Trump’s bid to reclaim office, the mounting indictments leveled against the former president or even Trump’s racist mockery of McConnell’s wife, the Senate Republican leader avoids engaging a man he disdains.”

“Which is why it was so striking last month to sit in McConnell’s Capitol office and have him repeatedly steer our conversation toward Trump. I was there to discuss his forceful and out-of-vogue campaign to keep Republicans defending Ukraine and, more broadly, on the Reaganite path of projecting strength abroad. And at every turn, McConnell made plain it was his way of battling what Trump has done to the party.”

“A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Monday from conservative groups looking to block student loan forgiveness for some 804,000 borrowers,” Axios reports.

“The decision marks a win for student loan borrowers and for President Biden, who promised to continue pursuing debt relief after the Supreme Court’s decision last month to strike down his administration’s loan forgiveness plan.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis told CNBC that he and his allies have “basically moved on” from the feud with Disney.  Said DeSantis: “I would just say, go back to what you did well. I think it’s going to be the right business decision, and all that.”  Nope.  You started this DeSantis, Disney will end it.

Steve Bannon’s bid to stay out of prison will go before a federal appeals court panel on October 12 in Washington D.C., The Messenger reports.

“North Korea is punishing women who try to beat the summer heat by wearing shorts, with authorities saying shorts with a length above the knee are an infiltration of capitalist fashion – but only if the wearer is female,” Radio Free Asia reports.

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

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