Cup of Joe – August 27, 2023

“Even as former President Donald Trump and his 18 co-defendants in the Georgia election interference case turned themselves in one by one at an Atlanta jail this week, their lawyers began working to change how the case will play out,” the New York Times reports.

“They are already at odds over when they will have their day in court, but also, crucially, where. Should enough of them succeed, the case could split into several smaller cases, perhaps overseen by different judges in different courtrooms, running on different timelines.”

“Less than two hours before the deadline to surrender expired, Illinois pastor Stephen Lee became the last of the 19 defendants accused in the sweeping racketeering case to surrender to the Fulton County Jail,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“The former director of Black Voices for Trump, Harrison Floyd, was the first of the 19 Fulton County defendants to be held in jail without bond,” the Daily Mail reports.

Former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN that Donald Trump supporters mistook her for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis outside the jail where Trump turned himself in.

Said Bottoms: “They thought I was Fani and started chanting at me as well, and just walking through the crowd, there was a lot of hatred out here.”

She added: “Imagine that. A lot of hatred and really bad energy out here, but, you know, this is—when you sign up for public service you don’t get to pick and choose your good days and your bad days.”

“Three Georgia Republicans who falsely claimed to be electors for Donald Trump — and are now charged alongside him in a sprawling racketeering indictment brought by local prosecutors — say they took the steps they did because Trump, then the sitting president, told them to,” Politico reports.

“In a series of court filings this week, those false electors, who became part of Trump’s last-ditch bid to subvert the 2020 election, said it was Trump and his campaign lawyers who urged them to sign the false documents, claiming they were necessary to preserve Trump’s flailing court efforts to reverse his defeat to Joe Biden.”

“Attorney Sidney Powell on Friday filed a speedy trial demand in the Fulton County elections interference case that has also ensnared former President Donald Trump and ex-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“Powell becomes the second defendant to file for a speedy trial in the sprawling racketeering case, which culminated in a 19-person, 41-count indictment last week.”

She joins Kenneth Chesebro, who is set to have his trial begin October 23.

Axios: “The Trump mug shot is exploding on social media — with Republicans posting their own fake mug shots to ride the wave — and now his campaign is threatening to “come after” any “scammer” who uses the image to raise money.” The Trump campaign has no legal ground to stand on, though, because mug shots are in the public domain, and cannot be copyrighted.  

New York Times: “As soon as it was taken, it became the de facto picture of the year. A historic image that will be seared into the public record and referred to for perpetuity — the first mug shot of an American president, taken by the Fulton County, Ga., Sheriff’s Office after Donald J. Trump’s fourth indictment. Though because it is also the only mug shot, it may be representative of all of the charges.”

“As such, it is also a symbol of either equality under the law or the abuse of it — the ultimate memento of a norm-shattering presidency and this social-media-obsessed, factionalized age.”

Joyce Vance: “Over his first three indictments, Trump’s well-orchestrated public appearances looked more like a royal progress than bookings in criminal cases, complete with deferential Secret Service agents opening doors and calling him sir. But not any longer. A mug shot. Fingerprints. An appearance in a county jail that is under federal investigation over its despicable conditions.”

“Here’s the first real indication, not just for us, but for Trump, too, that he is a mere mortal. He’s no longer in control. His status is now captured forever in a mug shot—something Jack Smith deferred to Trump on and didn’t make him submit to.”

Jonathan Last: “I would guess that he had a duplicate setup to run tests on. His makeup is exactly suited to the light and camera. His hair is teased differently than normal to provide some overhang. The jaw-jut and downward tilt of the head hide his jowls. Combine those affects with his slight turn to the left (notice that his is the only photo in which you cannot clearly see both ears) and it gives his pose a vague sense of motion, as though he is moving forward, towards the camera and into a glorious future filled with retribution, perfect phone calls, and #winning.”

“He took a low point in American history and turned it into an iconic triumph because he understands media and is biologically incapable of feeling shame.”

“Those powers make him a host unto himself and this mugshot is a warning to all of us. We underestimate Trump at our peril.”

Washington Post: Trump is selling his mugshot on shirts, koozies and bumper stickers.

“Mmmkay! And I’m 110lbs and a virgin! I’m not a scale or a doctor but I have spent some time beneath 215lb men and Tiny was not one of them.”— Stormy Daniels, referring to Donald Trump’s claim at his arrest this week that he weighs just 215 pounds.

“A South Florida lawyer has filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump seeking to have the former president declared ineligible to run for another term as president,” the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

“The lawsuit, citing Trump’s involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, wants the federal courts to enforce the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, added after the Civil War to prevent people who engaged in rebellion against the United States from holding office again.”

ABC News: “Separate from the criminal cases, over the past few weeks a growing body of conservative scholars have raised the constitutional argument that Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election make him ineligible to hold federal office ever again.”

“That disqualification argument boils down to Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which says that a public official is not eligible to assume public office if they ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion against’ the United States, or had ‘given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof,’ unless they are granted amnesty by a two-thirds vote of Congress.”

“Advocacy groups have long argued that Trump’s behavior after the 2020 election fits those criteria.”

“A Florida judge signaled skepticism Thursday that he could uphold Gov. Ron DeSantis’ congressional districts after Florida’s lawyers admitted the districts violate the state constitution,” the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Oliver Anthony criticized the use of his viral folk song at the Republican debate this week, in a new video statement.

Said Anthony: “I wrote that song about those people… It’s aggravating seeing people on conservative news trying to identify with me like I’m one of them.”

Axios: “Over a dozen of former President Trump’s close allies face growing legal bills when he’s least able to help — and they’re turning to desperate measures to raise money for their fights.  Trump’s co-defendants in the Fulton County case each need legal teams that could cost well into the six figures.  […]

Jenna Ellis, a former Trump lawyer, wrote in a post on “X” that she “was reliably informed Trump isn’t funding any of us who are indicted.” Ellis, who represented Trump during and after the 2020 presidential election, has faced the wrath of some Trump supporters after she’s signaled support for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. As of Friday afternoon, she had received more than $161,000 in donations, according to a GiveSendGo page.

Cathy Latham, another co-defendant who is a former Republican Party chair of Coffee County, Georgia, wrote on a crowdfunding page that she is a “retired public school teacher living on a teacher’s pension.” “I am asking for your help today to help me cover legal fees during this time.” She’d raised nearly $7,000 as of Friday afternoon, well short of her $100,000 goal.

Two other Trump co-defendants, John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark, launched crowdfunding pages to support their legal defense fund after the 2020 presidential election.”

“President Joe Biden said Friday that he is planning to request more money from Congress to develop another new coronavirus vaccine, as scientists track new waves and hospitalizations rise, though not like before,” the AP reports.

The Kremlin said that Western suggestions Russian mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin had been killed on its orders were an “absolute lie” while declining to definitively confirm his death, citing the need to wait for test results, Reuters reports.

New York Times: “Whether Mr. Putin personally ordered the attack may be beside the point: What matters is that Mr. Prigozhin suffered a violent death after Mr. Putin publicly condemned him.”

“Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Friday requiring all mercenaries to swear allegiance to Russia, a revelation that comes on the heels of Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin’s reported death,” CNBC reports.

“The attacks range from the exotic — poisoned by drinking polonium-laced tea or touching a deadly nerve agent — to the more mundane of getting shot at close range. Some take a fatal plunge from an open window,” the AP reports.

“Over the years, Kremlin political critics, turncoat spies and investigative journalists have been killed or assaulted in a variety of ways.”

“None, however, has been known to perish in an air accident. But on Wednesday, a private plane carrying a mercenary chief who staged a brief rebellion in Russia plummeted into a field from tens of thousands of feet after breaking apart.”

“The passenger manifest of the plane that went down in Russia is essentially a who’s who of Wagner mercenaries, including its second-in-command, who baptized the group with his nom de guerre, as well as the logistics chief, a fighter wounded by U.S. airstrikes in Syria and at least one possible bodyguard,” the AP reports.

“And, of course, Yevgeny Prigozhin himself, Wagner’s leader and mutineer, who many believed was a marked man after his short-lived uprising in June against the Russian military.”

After trying to kill the story for a week and then publicly denying its accuracy, Rhode Island congressional candidate Don Carlson (D) acknowledged Friday he broached a romantic relationship with a student while serving as a college professor, WPRI reports.

Carlson, a 62-year-old candidate for Congress, posted a video message on YouTube downplaying the episode, which occurred at Williams College in 2019 and was revealed earlier this week.

“The Justice Department is weighing possible charges against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) after a yearslong public-corruption probe,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Prosecutors are expected to meet with his lawyers in the coming weeks ahead of a final decision.”

“The probe in part has examined whether he or his wife, Nadine Arslanian, received gifts in exchange for political favors… Prosecutors also have investigated the circumstances surrounding a lucrative contract that a New Jersey businessman secured with Egyptian officials for certifying halal meat exports.”

NBC News: “Trump’s sizable lead is not the largest ever enjoyed by a Republican at this early point in a caucus campaign cycle. And, crucially, we have seen one previous GOP candidate — Bob Dole, in the 1996 election cycle — lose more than 40 points of support between roughly this point and the actual caucuses.”

“The implication for 2024 is clear: If someone has bled that much support before, surely it can happen again. And it wouldn’t take nearly as dramatic a plunge for Trump to lose his lead, which is only half of what Dole’s was at the start of the ’96 campaign.”

“But a closer look at the numbers reveals some key differences between then and now, and those differences suggest Trump’s 2024 edge may be more durable — and his challengers’ task much tougher.”

Charlie Cook: “The first Republican presidential debate did nothing to diminish Trump’s position as the prohibitive favorite for the 2024 Republican nomination. In fact, a GOP presidential debate without Trump reminds me of the old line asking, ‘If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?’ According at least to initial signs, viewership was considerably below that of the August 2015 Republican debate.”

“It’s a real reach to say that any of the eight candidates on the stage ‘won’ the debate or exceeded expectations. Arguably the debate’s loser was the Fox Business Channel, which is obligated to carry the next GOP debate without Trump on Sept. 27, an event that will likely draw still fewer viewers. It is a good bet that this field will be smaller by Labor Day and smaller still by the time of that next debate. Given that the thresholds required for participation will be tighter for the next event, that alone could effectively push some out of the race.”

“Some will have personal or professional agendas requiring them to pretend that this is still a real contest, and that the outcome is still in doubt, but that doesn’t change the reality that, barring Trump having some health-related problem before the convention, this nomination is settled. Indeed, the only thing that could prevent this being a rematch between President Biden and Trump would more likely be medical than political or legal.”

Wall Street Journal: “The U.S. has said American nuclear aid is contingent on the Saudis agreeing to not enrich their own uranium or mine their own uranium deposits in the kingdom — nonproliferation conditions not sought by China, which has been seeking to strengthen its influence in the Middle East.”

“A military medical board has concluded that Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who is accused of conspiring in the Sept. 11 attacks, has a mental illness that makes him incompetent to either face trial or plead guilty in the death penalty case,” the New York Times reports.

New York Times: “At the moment, the implications for the United States are probably minor, given China’s limited role as a customer for American goods and the minor connections between the countries’ financial systems.”

“A Zillow listing showing that former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort recently sold sent news outlets scrambling and rumors flying Friday, but public records and his son Eric Trump say otherwise,” The Messenger reports.

Said Eric Trump: “Mar-a-Lago has absolutely not been sold nor will it ever be. This rumor is asinine.”

“A group of high-profile Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors emerged Friday as backers of a group that plans to build a new city in Northern California, after its purchases of land around an Air Force base had raised national-security concerns among U.S. officials,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

New York Times: “A mysterious company has spent $800 million in an effort to buy thousands of acres of San Francisco Bay Area land. The people behind the deals are said to be a who’s who of the tech industry.”

“Political pressure is intensifying around Republican state senators who will serve as the jurors in the impeachment trial of suspended Attorney General Ken Paxton,” the Texas Tribune reports.

“Paxton’s allies are singling out a half dozen senators for lobbying. A mysterious entity is airing TV ads targeting certain senators. And an influential establishment group, as well as former Gov. Rick Perry, are urging senators to oppose efforts to effectively stop the trial before it starts.”

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) has vocally opposed an ATF program designed to limit gun dealers from selling firearms traced to criminal activity, the New York Times reports.

“What Mr. Clyde did not disclose was that one of two gun stores he owns in Georgia, Clyde Armory in Athens, was placed in the monitoring program in 2020 and 2021… ATF inspectors made the designation after they found that more than 25 guns sold there had been used in crimes within three years of their purchase.”

“The vice chair of the Conservative Political Action Coalition has resigned from his longtime position on the organization’s board and is calling for investigations into the group’s top leader and its financial practices, among other issues,” Politico reports.

“Charlie Gerow, an attorney and communications executive who has served on the board of CPAC and its parent organization, the American Conservative Union, for nearly two decades, submitted his letter of resignation on Friday.”

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

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