Cup of Joe – August 22, 2023

Jonathan Last wants to pretend we could go back in time, to January 2017, and tell people that in six years:

  • Trump will have been impeached twice.
  • He will have been found guilty of rape by a jury of his peers.
  • He will have been soundly defeated for re-election, but refused to concede the loss.
  • In an effort to remain in power he will put in motion a vast conspiracy to overturn the result through extralegal methods.
  • When this conspiracy fails he will incite a violent insurrection in which he directs his armed supporters to invade the Capitol and prevent the certification of Electoral College votes.
  • He will be indicted in four separate criminal cases.
  • He will seek a return to the White House explicitly for the stated purpose of “retribution.”
  • And he will be leading the Republican field by >30 points.

“My point is that six years ago I don’t think many people on either side would have believed that today’s reality was likely. Or even possible. Yet here we are, actually living in something close to the worst-case scenario.

“And yet we are so habituated to this dark reality that we’ve come to see it as normal.”

“Appearing to contradict former President Donald Trump’s primary public defense in the classified documents case, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has told special counsel Jack Smith’s investigators that he could not recall Trump ever ordering, or even discussing, declassifying broad sets of classified materials before leaving the White House, nor was he aware of any ‘standing order’ from Trump authorizing the automatic declassification of materials taken out of the Oval Office,” ABC News reports.

“ABC News has also reviewed an early draft of the prologue to Meadows’ book, The Chief’s Chief, … which includes a description of Trump having a classified war plan ‘on the couch’ at his office in Bedminster, New Jersey … The reference to that document being in Trump’s possession was removed before the book was published… Meadows acknowledged to investigators that he asked that the paragraph be changed, and that it would be ‘problematic’ had Trump had such a document in his possession.”

“Mike Pence said Sunday he was not made aware of any efforts by former President Donald Trump to declassify documents,” Axios reports. “Pence’s statement is at odds with Trump’s insistence he did nothing wrong by keeping the materials at Mar-a-Lago.”

Lawyers for Donald Trump and Walt Nauta “accused prosecutors of improperly using a Washington grand jury to gather evidence after they were charged in Florida with mishandling classified information and obstructing an investigation,” Bloomberg reports.

“Members of the House Freedom Caucus are making it harder for leadership to avoid a government shutdown, announcing on Monday that they’ll oppose a stopgap funding bill unless it caves to their terms,” Axios reports.

The House Freedom Caucus — still angry over the debt limit extension — is demanding a long list of policy changes in exchange for giving their support to any short-term funding measure designed to avert a government shutdown on September 30.

After the group issued its demands, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) tweeted: “House Republicans are determined to shutdown the government and crash our economy. We will fight these MAGA extremists every step of the way.”

The problem for Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is that a continuing resolution with House Freedom Caucus support could possibly pass the House with just Republican votes.

But it will go nowhere in the Senate.

A “clean” short-term funding bill could pass with both a majority of Republican and Democratic votes. 

But the House Freedom Caucus won’t stand for it.

Since there isn’t time to finish the appropriations process by the deadline, their only real leverage at this point is the ability to overthrow McCarthy.

McCarthy might need to force a government shutdown just to save his job.

Ronan Farrow: “How the U.S. government came to rely on the tech billionaire—and is now struggling to rein him in.”

“The sad truth is that there are no great ‘social networks’ right now. We may fail, as so many have predicted, but we will try our best to make there be at least one.”— Elon Musk, on X.

A Georgia judge set a $200,000 bond for Donald Trump on Monday in the Fulton County case that accuses the former president and 18 others of conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election, ABC News reports.

The “consent bond order” bars Trump from intimidating witnesses or from communicating with any of his co-defendants about the case.

Attorney John Eastman, one of Donald Trump’s 18 co-defendants in his Georgia indictment, has agreed to a $100,000 bond, The Hill reports.

Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows quickly moved in federal court to have the Georgia election interference indictment against him dismissed. The weekend filing asserts that Meadows is immune friom state prosecution under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

Meadows filed the motion to dismiss in the same federal venue where he is seeking to remove the state court case.

NBC News: Law enforcement expects Trump to surrender at the Atlanta jail late this week. The deadline for him to surrender is Friday, Aug. 25.

ABC News: Trump legal team expected to confer with Atlanta DA Fani Willis’ office early this week about the terms of the former president’s bond package.

Journal-Constitution: A look behind the scenes as country awaited Georgia grand jury’s decision

WaPo: FBI joins investigation of threats to grand jurors in Trump Georgia case.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter are “in the final chapter,” their grandson tells People magazine.

The NYT had its own version of CNN’s groundbreaking report that placed coup architect Ken Chesebro at the Capitol with Alex Jones on Jan. 6.

“The Biden administration plans to urge all Americans to get a booster shot for the coronavirus this autumn to counter a new wave of infections,” Reuters reports.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) “spent the weekend amplifying unfounded allegations by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ InfoWars that the President Joe Biden administration was preparing to impose new Covid-related lockdowns this fall,” the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

“President Biden is considering meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of next month’s G20 summit in New Delhi,” Axios reports.

“A meeting between the two leaders could give a significant push to the talks the White House has been holding with the Saudi government in an effort to reach a mega-deal that could include U.S. security guarantees for Riyadh, as well as a normalization agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel.”

“Such a deal would be a historic breakthrough in Middle East peace.”

Donald Trump “wants unprecedented restrictions on immigration and the border if he’s elected in 2024 — such as screening prospective immigrants for “Marxist” ideologies and a naval blockade to target drug smugglers,” Axios reports.

“As president, Trump built part of a border wall, began stringent wealth and health tests for prospective immigrants and limited asylum. His 2025 plan would go much further — potentially making it tougher for millions of foreigners to enter or stay in the U.S.”

“Trump’s plan would involve waves of harsh new policies — and dust off old ones that rarely have been enforced, if ever.”

Bloomberg: “Where Biden has opted to run his economy hot, spending trillions of dollars on household stimulus and infrastructure to goose the economy, Xi is running his cold in a bid to finally break China’s addiction to fueling growth with speculative apartment construction and low-return projects funded by opaque local borrowing. If China is a ‘ticking time bomb,’ Xi’s aim is to defuse it.”

“The clash of economic philosophies between the world’s two largest economies is already shifting investment flows and may delay the date at which China overtakes the US, or perhaps mean that moment will never arrive.”

“Many countries have followed a similar economic trajectory: As they develop, women increasingly enter the workforce, further fueling the country’s upward climb,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“It happened in China, Japan and South Korea in the latter half of the 20th century. The U.S. saw its female labor-force participation rate—the percentage of women age 15 and up who are working or actively looking for work—grow from 32% in 1948 to 59% by 2000.”

“India, which overtook the U.K. last year as the world’s fifth largest economy, hasn’t followed that path. Since 1990, its female labor-force participation rate has hit a peak of only 31% in 2000, according to data from the World Bank. Last year, it was 24%.”

“Ecuadorian voters looking for a new leader to help curb the country’s unprecedented violence will have to head to the polls again in October for a runoff that is likely to see the ally of a convicted former president vie against the principal heir of a banana growing and exporting empire,” the AP reports.

“No candidate in Sunday’s special presidential election received enough support to be declared winner. The election process took place under the watch of tens of thousands of police officers and soldiers deployed across the country, partly in response to the assassination of a presidential candidate earlier this month.”

“Nearly three years after authorities foiled a bizarre plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the last defendants accused of taking part go on trial Monday,” the AP reports.

“Eric Molitor and brothers William Null and Michael Null were among 14 men, described by prosecutors as anti-government extremists, charged in the scheme weeks before the November 2020 election. They were angered by Whitmer’s COVID-19 policies, which shut down schools and restricted the economy.”

“The plotters were members of paramilitary groups and spoke of attacking the state Capitol and police to ignite civil war.”

“The already logic-shattering 2024 White House race is expected to make an extraordinary detour through an Atlanta jail this week, with Donald Trump due to turn himself in over his fourth indictment – for alleged election meddling in Georgia,” CNN reports.

“The GOP front-runner is expected to surrender, potentially for fingerprinting and a mug shot, on Thursday or Friday, a senior law enforcement source told CNN. That’ll be just hours after the first GOP debate on Wednesday – normally an early defining moment in any campaign, but one that will be overshadowed by Trump’s decision to skip it and his expected appearance at the Fulton County jail soon after.”

“The potential juxtaposition of Trump’s appearance in Georgia with the first debate will show how every aspect of the political calendar is being entangled in Trump’s legal peril and the unprecedented government effort to try a former president – and potential major party nominee – over his effort to overturn his 2020 defeat.”

Playbook: “It will likely be the most Trump-centric week of news since January 2021.”

“President Biden is set to break away from his summer vacation on Monday to fly to Hawaii to inspect damage wrought by wildfires that have killed more than 100 people and effectively wiped out a coastal town on the island of Maui,” the New York Times reports.

CNN: “His initial response to the Maui wildfires drew criticism earlier this month, mainly from Republicans, who seized upon a lengthy period of public silence from the White House as the death toll rose.”

“The Biden administration on Monday continued its push toward internet-for-all by 2030, announcing about $667 million in new grants and loans to build more broadband infrastructure in the rural U.S.,” the AP reports.

NBC News: “Expanding broadband access is just one of the areas in which state and industry officials are scrambling to find workers as $550 billion in new federal infrastructure funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was passed in 2021, begins to come their way.”

“But with unemployment hovering around historic lows, they are turning to whatever untapped pockets of potential workers they can find to fill the hundreds of thousands of jobs economists expect the federal spending to create.”

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

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