Cup of Joe – August 24, 2023

Special Counsel Jack Smith’s team told Judge Aileen Cannon in a legal filing that a key witness in Donald Trump’s classified documents case has retracted false testimony after switching lawyers.

The witness provided new testimony implicating Trump and his two other co-defendants in efforts to delete security camera footage sought by federal investigators.

The Mar-a-Lago employee who changed his testimony to implicate Donald Trump in the classified documents case is information technology director Yuscil Taveras, ABC News reports.

“It’s not clear what was the substance of the negotiations between Taveras’ attorney and the special counsel that resulted in the parameters outlined in their specific agreement, which did not require Taveras to plead guilty to any charge.”

“Taveras entered into the agreement after receiving a target letter from Smith in June warning him he was likely to be charged with perjury for allegedly making false statements to investigators in grand jury testimony last March.”

Special Counsel Jack Smith in a new filing Tuesday outlined how it came to be that a third defendant was added to the Mar-a-Lago case in a superseding indictment.

Some of this may sound familiar to you because it mirrors reporting by CNN and the WaPo in late July, but now we have it confirmed by Smith. The short version is this: Trump Employee 4 (identified by news outlets as Yuscil Taveras) receives a target letter that conflicts out his attorney Stanley Woodward, Taveras gets a new attorney, Taveras meets with the feds, a superseding indictment soon follows adding Carlos De Oliveira as a co-defendant and new charges against Trump and Walt Nauta.

But there’s quite a bit more to this whole episode, the new filing reveals:

  • In March 2023 testimony to the DC grand jury, Taveras and De Oliveira perjured themselves by denying having any conversations about the security footage at Mar-a-Lago.
  • In June 2023, Smith advised Woodward that Taveras was a target of his investigation and sought a hearing with the chief judge in DC over Woodward conflict of interest. Woodward was repping both Nauta and Taveras.
  • U.S. District Judge James Boasberg provided Taveras with a public defender to confer with about the conflicts of interest Woodward had. On July 5, Taveras informed Boasberg that he was changing lawyers from Woodward to the public defender.
  • Soon after, Taveras recanted his prior false testimony to the grand jury and implicated Trump, Nauta, and De Oliveira. The superseding indictment soon followed.

Smith is hitting back hard on three main points: (1) his use of the grand jury in DC was proper; (2) Woodward is deeply conflicted for all the above reasons but also because he was provided to Taveras and paid for by Trumpworld entities; and (3) there is zero precedent for resolving this kind of conflict by barring the testimony of a key witness, which is what Woodward proposed.

One irony here is that Smith was forced to put it all on the public record because U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon rejected his effort to file under seal in a more discreet way.

“Mark Meadows asked a federal judge Tuesday to immediately move the Georgia criminal election interference case out of state court in order to protect him from being arrested,” CNBC reports.

“As an alternative, the federal court could simply issue an order barring Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from arresting Meadows this week, his attorney proposed in the 19-page filing.”

“Willis has already rejected Meadows’ request for an extension.”

“Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has been told he will be subpoenaed to provide testimony at a court hearing in which former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows will argue the Fulton County case against him should be removed to federal court,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“Donald Trump is expected to surrender at the Fulton county jail on Thursday evening on racketeering and conspiracy charges over his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state of Georgia,” The Guardian reports.

“The former president – seeking to distract from the indignity of the surrender by turning things into a circus – in essence had his lawyers negotiate the booking to take place during the prime viewing hours for the cable news networks.”

Donald Trump said on Truth Social that he’ll “proudly be arrested” tomorrow in his “fight for election integrity.”

“The first mugshots of those charged in Georgia under Fulton District Attorney Fanni Willis’ sprawling criminal case against Donald Trump and 18 other co-defendants were released Monday night,” the Daily Beast reports.

Rudy Giuliani said he will turn himself in to authorities in Georgia today, NBC News reports.

NBC News: “The practical difficulties of imprisoning a former president and the leading candidate for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination in the Fulton County Jail make it extremely unlikely that a single violation of his release conditions, unless it’s especially egregious, would land Trump in pretrial detention, Georgia legal experts say.”

Donald Trump will headline a $100,000 per person fundraiser to aid in the legal defense of his one-time personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, the New York Times reports.

“Rudy Giuliani still hasn’t found a Georgia-based lawyer and is getting help from former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, an unindicted co-conspirator in the Fulton County election subversion case, to help him find legal representation,” CNN reports.

“CNN previously reported that Giuliani is facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills and sanctions from numerous lawsuits related to his work for Donald Trump after the 2020 election.”

Ahead of his trip to the Fulton County Jail to be booked tomorrow night, Donald Trump spent his Tuesday evening at a fundraiser for January 6th defendants held at his Bedminster golf club, NBC News reports.

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) warned Tuesday that the House could launch an impeachment inquiry as soon as September if the Biden administration doesn’t turn over documents — including some that were apparently never requested by the GOP,” The Hill reports.

“A gaggle of the most-high profile conservative House Republicans have been plotting behind the scenes to topple Texas GOP Rep. Tony Gonzales, a new chapter of the war between the right and the middle of the conference,” Punchbowl News reports.

“This is a dynamic we’ve seen all year. The right flank is growing frustrated with their moderate colleagues. First the right dismissed the electoral challenges presented by embracing an ultra-conservative agenda. Now, they are simply trying to knock moderates out of Congress.”

William Saletan: “The party of ‘national security’ is subordinating military readiness to snowflake cultural sensitivities. Specifically, Republicans are demanding that military personnel who refused orders to get vaccinated against COVID during the pandemic—and were discharged for their defiance—should be reinstated with back pay.”

“At the same time, many of these politicians are calling for a ban on transgender service members. They’re pretending that the ‘woke mind virus’ is a threat to military preparedness, but an actual virus isn’t. These Republicans aren’t serious about preparing for a real war. To them, the armed forces are just another battleground in the culture war.”

Washington Post: “Trump’s current presidential campaign in some ways is more professionalized and orderly than his past operations — so far not besmirched by as much infighting, sudden staff firings and other drama. He has attracted a series of respected GOP strategists who have run successful campaigns and his team has worked behind the scenes with savvy operatives to shape primary rules.”

“But the candidate is still finding himself drawn to fringe figures, outside the formal chain of command, who reinforce — and encourage — his most pugilistic impulses.”

“The dynamic is especially pronounced as indictments against the former president have piled up — 91 charges across four criminal cases in state and federal courts.”

Rolling Stone: “Trump has talked in the past week about how he hopes a noticeable ratings slump for this week’s debate will teach Fox a lesson about not giving him what he wants. The former president also predicts that, because he is so severely beating his Republican competition in the polls, Rupert Murdoch will have no choice but to crawl back to Trump soon.”

“Indeed, this is precisely the scenario that the Murdoch family have for months feared would happen as they grew deeply disappointed with the Florida governor’s performance on the national stage this year.”

Nate Cohn: “I’m not a lawyer, so I won’t speculate about whether it’s likely that the special counsel will get his trial date, let alone a conviction, by Super Tuesday on March 5.”

“But as a political analyst, I can say Mr. Trump wouldn’t ordinarily seem likely to lose the nomination by conventional means in a conventional race: His lead over Ron DeSantis is at least twice as large as that of any front-runner who has ever gone on to lose a party nomination at this stage.”

“Taken together, it’s entirely possible that the likeliest way for Mr. Trump to lose the nomination involves the mounting weight of his legal challenges, rather than a conventional electoral defeat on the campaign trail and debate stage. That weight could take a variety of forms, including some well short of a conviction, like the possibility that Republican voters gradually reassess the seriousness of the risks facing Mr. Trump as a trial nears — but realistically we’re talking trial, conviction and even imprisonment.”

“Washington D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb is investigating judicial activist Leonard Leo and his network of nonprofit groups,” Politico  reports.

“The scope of the investigation is unclear. But it comes after Politico reported in March that one of Leo’s nonprofits — registered as a charity — paid his for-profit company tens of millions of dollars in the two years since he joined the company.”

Hugo Lowell: “The move to upstage the debate tackles Trump’s political goals for his 2024 campaign, but it also quietly solves worries that Trump could deepen his legal jeopardy were he to be questioned about his four criminal cases by debate moderators or the other candidates.”

“Criminal defendants typically avoid speaking publicly about their cases, because prosecutors could use their statements against them. Trump has developed a pattern of discussing his indictments after getting angered about the framing of questions.”

KFF Poll: “Overall, KFF found that about two-thirds of Democrats didn’t believe any of the false claims about covid-19 or vaccines. Only about a quarter of Republicans — and not many more independents — fell into the same category.”

“KFF also asked about other health-related subjects, including gun violence. Again, Republicans were more likely than Democrats to believe false claims about gun violence. In this case, independents landed closer to the middle.”

Jonathan Last: “There is no easy way out for Good Republicans. Extricating the party from Trump was always going to require pain.”

“They declined to accept that pain in 2016. They declined again in 2020. And 2021. I see no reason to believe that they’ll finally bite the bullet in 2024. Instead, I suspect that guys like Chris Sununu will try to get along by doing the bare minimum while hoping (again) that Democrats and the rest of America bail them out and clean up the mess for them.”

“They fail to understand that even if Trump loses to Biden again, he’ll still own the Republican party.”

“Virginia Democrats are worried the national party isn’t doing enough to stop Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, raising alarm bells that he could try to use wins on the state level to pull Virginia to the right and, potentially, mount a presidential bid,” NBC News reports.

“Chief among their worries is this fall’s legislative elections. Every single seat in the commonwealth’s General Assembly, which is currently split between the two parties, is up for re-election in November. Republicans now hold a five-seat edge in the House of Delegates with three vacancies, while Democrats control the Senate by the same margin. Youngkin’s statewide operation is aiming at a GOP sweep, which would open the door to a conservative governing package Democrats have largely been able to stymie during his first two years in office.”

Molly Ball: “It is somehow both early and late in a Republican primary campaign of maximum consequence, the race that will determine whether next year’s election turns into the sequel that few Americans claim to want: Biden vs. Trump, once again. Too early, rival campaigns and many voters say, for people to start paying attention and making up their minds about a primary season half a year away.”

“And yet it already feels too late for anyone to lay a finger on Trump, whose lead in polls stands at 30 or 40 points.”

“Cambodia’s parliament voted on Tuesday to approve a new government led by the son of outgoing leader Hun Sen following an election last month widely criticized as neither free nor fair,” Bloomberg reports.

“West Point-educated Hun Manet officially assumed the role of prime minister, marking the conclusion of a political succession years in the making. The 45-year-old leads a new generation of ruling elite taking power from the old guard for the first time since a rebellion against the Khmer Rouge in 1979.”

“Hun Sen, who steps aside as prime minister after more than 38 years, will continue on as president of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and a lawmaker.”

Times of London: “How did we get here? There are several distinct strands to the story of the City’s decline.”

“Since the development of the eurodollar market in the 1950s, the City has thrived on globalization. Margaret Thatcher’s abolition of currency exchange controls in 1979, and the ‘Big Bang’ deregulation masterminded by her chancellor, Nigel Lawson, in 1986, ushered in a golden era. It was summed up by the word ‘Wimbledonisation’ — the idea that foreigners were welcome to win big on a perfect financial lawn, while Britain enjoyed the lucrative role of host.”

“Brexit has rather changed the game. The referendum result in 2016 did not trigger the massive jobs exodus to Europe that some had predicted. But the Christmas Eve deal signed by Boris Johnson in 2020 left financial services out in the cold, with companies losing their ability to serve EU markets under so-called equivalence rules.”

Financial Times: “Gloom has replaced relief as the overriding sentiment about Germany among economists. Experts are warning of another downturn in Europe’s largest economy, despite it emerging from last winter’s energy crisis in better shape than initially feared.”

“The longstanding structural problems, from an ageing population to crumbling infrastructure, have been aggravated by the war in Ukraine, rising interest rates and faltering global trade.”

“Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will head to China for meetings with senior Chinese officials Aug. 27-30, the Commerce Department said, becoming the latest senior Biden administration official to travel there in an effort to stabilize rocky U.S.-China relations,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

India staked new claim as a national superpower in space, landing its Chandrayaan-3 mission safely on the moon’s unexplored south pole on Wednesday, CNBC reports.

“It has been a bad 10 months for Jair Bolsonaro,” the New York Times reports.  “He lost re-election as Brazil’s president. Thousands of his supporters stormed Brazil’s halls of power. And he was blocked from holding elected office for seven years.”

“Now things could soon get worse: Across Brazil, both his critics and supporters speculate that the next twist might be his arrest.”

“Two years after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, there is growing consensus that the country is again devolving into a hotbed of terrorism activity that is already beginning to affect the region, if not yet capable of reaching the West,” Voice of America reports.

“Republican attorney general hopeful and current Solicitor General Liz Murrill dropped the collab of the summer nobody asked for or expected when she mixed two classic Republican strawmen — the drug war and abortion — into a single, unexpected and wholly unsubstantiated talking point: Nefarious drug pushers are lacing online abortion pills with fentanyl,” the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

NBC News: “Asian American voter turnout spiked in 2020, surprising many political observers, and proved crucial to President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. In battleground Georgia, Asian American turnout jumped by a startling 84% from the previous presidential election. Two years later, Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., sought to capitalize with an unusual move in his ultra-competitive contest: He produced ads in Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese to mobilize Asian American voters. He carried 78% of that vote in the runoff and won.”

“Now, with the next campaign underway, the political power of this voting bloc has sunk in. The national committees for Democrats and Republicans say they’re launching unprecedented investments to court Asian American and Pacific Islander voters.”

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

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