Cup of Joe – August 30, 2023

“Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows took the witness stand in federal court Monday in a bid to get the criminal case charging him with tampering with the 2020 presidential election results moved out of state court and, ultimately, dismissed,” Politico reports.

“Meadows spent more than two and a half hours testifying during the morning session, declaring that he took an extremely wide-ranging view of his responsibilities as chief of staff and viewed that role as encompassing nearly all his actions prosecutors say amounted to corrupt pressure on Georgia officials.”

The federal judge who must decide the issue promised to move as quickly as possible but indicated that it’s a complicated legal question with little precedent for guidance. In a sign that he might not rule immediately, the judge warned Meadows that he would have to attend his arraignment if no decision is issued by then. Arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 6.

Washington Post: “Meadows repeatedly argued that he was merely doing his duty as a very involved chief of staff who needed to be abreast of what the president was doing. While he participated in many key events, he often played down his proximity to the effort to overturn the election.”

“He said he somehow didn’t know that Trump was contesting the election results in Michigan when key Republican state lawmakers were invited to the Oval Office — even as at other points he made clear he was aware of litigation over Trump’s claims.”

“He said he didn’t recall his actions setting up the infamous Jan. 2, 2021, phone call with Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), or know what role the Trump-aligned lawyers on the call were playing — including that they were suing Raffensperger.”

Dennis Aftergut: Five ways Mark Meadows’s testimony in Georgia federal court could backfire.

Washington Post: “Over nearly four hours of testimony, Meadows defended his participation in meetings and phone calls described by prosecutors as part of a plot to subvert Joe Biden’s victory, repeatedly insisting there was a ‘federal nexus’ to all of his actions. He said his duties managing the president’s calendar and extricating him from lengthy meetings necessitated participating in hundreds if not thousands of conversations each month.”

New York Times: “But he also appeared unsure of himself at times, saying often that he could not recall details of events in late 2020 and early 2021.”

Politico: “Meadows’ appearance was a gamble by his defense team, opening him to cross examination by the prosecution and locking him into a specific description of events in a way that will be difficult for him to vary from if the case goes to trial.”

America is living through a reign of white supremacist terror, but we won’t bring ourselves to call it that, treat it that way, or hold accountable the provocateurs in the Republican Party who are catalyzing and instigating the attacks.

You might be forgiven for missing the significance of the weekend news that a gunman who fits the profile of domestic right-wing terrorist – white, male, 21 years old – allegedly targeted Black people and opened fire in a Jacksonville Dollar General store, killing three people of color before committing suicide.

It’s easy and not entirely erroneous to drop this incident in the bucket of runaway gun crimes in an America with few gun regulations. But it’s the wrong bucket to put in it. This is the runaway violence of white supremacists against minority groups happening in tandem with the rise of a radical right-wing Republican Party, but with little public acknowledgment or understanding of what’s really happening.

Thank god, though, for Jacksonville’s Black police chief, who went out of his way to call this what it is. “He targeted a certain group of people, and that’s Black people,” Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said in a Saturday news conference.

The terror attack is being investigated as a hate crime, and the feds are involved. The pattern is familiar, according to early accounts from law enforcement:

  • The gunman was heavily armed and in tactical wear.
  • He had Glock and an AR-15-style rifle marked with swastikas.
  • He lived with his parents.
  • He had authored several “manifestos” with a racist ideology.

The rush to reassure the public that he was a lone actor is itself not reassuring. Labeling it stochastic terrorism doesn’t make it less threatening or less systemic. An ongoing series of terror attacks by so-called lone wolfs in an environment full of right-wing hate, calls to violence, and demonization of minorities ends up looking a lot like the Islamic extremism American imagination’s conjure whenever the word “terrorism” is used.

“When Florida rejected a new Advanced Placement course on African American Studies, state officials said they objected to the study of several concepts — like reparations, the Black Lives Matter movement and ‘queer theory,’” the Miami Herald reports.

“But the state did not say that in many instances, its reviewers also made objections in the state’s attempt to sanitize aspects of slavery and the plight of African Americans throughout history.”

“In response, the state raised concerns that the unit ‘may not address the internal slave trade/system within Africa’ and that it ‘may only present one side of this issue and may not offer any opposing viewpoints or other perspectives on the subject.’”

“The judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s election interference case in federal court set a trial date for March 4, 2024, a schedule that could have a crucial impact on the 2024 race for the White House,” NBC News reports.

“U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s decision sets the trial in the middle of the Republican presidential primaries and the day before Super Tuesday.”

CNN: “A March trial for the former president in Washington, DC, over his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election will undoubtedly play a role in his run to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024.”

“Judge Tanya Chutkan’s announced trial date for the charges brought by the special counsel, March 4, is just one day before Super Tuesday, when over a dozen states will hold their primary elections.”

“Instead of campaigning, Trump – currently the leading GOP candidate by a wide margin in the polls – would possibly be sitting in federal court for a trial that could last eight weeks, attorneys in the case have said.”

“Meanwhile, the criminal case against Trump in New York is also scheduled for March. Chutkan said she has spoken with New York Judge Juan Merchan about the schedule.”

Former President Donald Trump’s trial for attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election is set to begin the day before voters in more than a dozen states will decide whether he should have another shot at the White House.

Depending on how Trump plays it, this could either be a catastrophic scheduling conflict or a major boon to the former president’s campaign. But Trump had requested that the trial begin in April 2026, suggesting that he isn’t pleased about having to juggle his legal obligations with his professional ones. Meanwhile, federal prosecutors, led by special counsel Jack Smith, had requested that the trial begin in January 2024.

Trump has already set the expectation that he’ll take on the 2024 campaign from the sidelines. Last week, he chose not to attend the first Republican presidential debate. Instead, he spoke with Tucker Carlson in an interview broadcast on Twitter. In spite of everything, he remains the GOP presidential frontrunner.

“Attorneys for former President Donald Trump have previewed that they will be seeking to launch several legal maneuvers to gum up the federal election subversion case that has been brought against him by special counsel Jack Smith,” CNN reports.

“Whether the gambits push back the swift timeline US District Judge Tanya Chutkan has laid out for a March 2024 trial date may depend largely on her ability to keep the pre-trial proceedings on track; so far, she’s shown an extremely no-nonsense approach to scheduling and little patience for unnecessary delays.”

“I think that there is a real chance now that that case could go to trial and come to conclusion before the election. However, even that trial date, as motions come up and things are won and lost and appealed and delayed, that date could slip – but we have a fair amount of time to get it in.”— Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, quoted by CNN, on Donald Trump’s election interference trial.

Donald Trump posted on Truth Social that he will appeal the trial date set today by a “Trump hating judge.”

Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti: “He can’t appeal the judge’s scheduling order.”

“The House Appropriations Committee could consider amendments to the fiscal 2024 Commerce-Justice-Science bill next month stripping federal funding from prosecutors who are pursuing charges against former President Donald Trump,” Roll Call reports.  “Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA), a member of the House Freedom Caucus who also sits on the Appropriations Committee, announced Monday that he is working on two amendments to offer when the panel takes up the bill in early September.”

NBC News: “Trump’s indictments in New York and Georgia would not be affected, while his federal indictments — for allegedly mishandling classified documents and for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection — are criminal matters that have been exempted from shutdowns in the past.”

“The Justice Department said in a 2021 memo that in a shutdown, ‘Criminal litigation will continue without interruption as an activity essential to the safety of human life and the protection of property.’ The Justice Department’s plans assume that the judicial branch remains fully operational, which it has said in the past can carry on for weeks in the event of a funding lapse.”

Daily Beast: “The offer from Schalapp was in the low six figures… But Schlapp’s accuser — Republican strategist Carlton Huffman, who filed the lawsuit against Schlapp and his wife, Mercedes Schlapp, in January — turned it down and countered with a substantially higher sum. Schlapp did not accept the counterproposal.”

“A senior board member of the parent organization behind the prominent Conservative Political Action Conference who resigned on Friday urged an independent investigation into additional allegations of sexual misconduct against Chairman Matt Schlapp,” the Washington Post reports.  “Earlier this year, Schlapp was sued for alleged sexual battery and defamation by a Republican campaign operative who claimed that the CPAC leader groped his crotch during a campaign trip last fall. Schlapp has denied the claim.”

“In addition to that lawsuit, some board members and staffers have been told about other incidents involving Schlapp, 55, and two younger men, multiple people with direct knowledge of the situation said.”

“A late-summer wave of coronavirus infections has touched schools, workplaces and local government, as experts warned the public to brace for even more Covid-19 spread this fall and winter,” the New York Times reports.

“Hospitalizations have increased 24 percent in a two-week period ending Aug. 12, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Wastewater monitoring suggests a recent rise in Covid infections in the West and Northeast. In communities across the United States, outbreaks have occurred in recent weeks at preschools, summer camps and office buildings.”

“Donald Trump will be arraigned next Wednesday in Georgia over charges he and 18 co-defendants sought to overturn the state’s election results,” The Hill reports.

“Trump’s arraignment has been set for Sept. 6 at 9:30 a.m., the first of all the defendants, who are charged in a sweeping racketeering case alleging they joined a criminal enterprise bent on keeping Trump in power.”

“House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and top Republicans have begun to strategize about how to move forward with an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden this fall – the latest sign that the House GOP is seriously laying the groundwork to initiate rare proceedings against the current president,” CNN reports.

Playbook: “In recent days Biden aides have been scrambling to secure a password-protected PDF of the book that has been sent to select journalists and reviewers, some of whom were required to sign nondisclosure agreements and promise not to share the contents with newsroom colleagues.”

“In the publishing world, The Last Politician is seen as a test of the market for political books about figures other than Donald Trump. In Washington, the book will be a test for how a generally leak-proof White House grapples with the first detailed excavation of its successes and failures from the Inaugural through the midterms.”

“Special Counsel Jack Smith’s office has repeatedly grilled witnesses about Rudy Giuliani’s drinking on and after election day, investigating whether Donald Trump was knowingly relying on an inebriated attorney while trying to overturn a presidential election,” Rolling Stone reports.

“In their questioning of multiple witnesses, Smith’s team of federal investigators have asked questions about how seemingly intoxicated Giuliani was during the weeks he was giving Trump advice on how to cling to power, according to a source who’s been in the room with Smith’s team, one witness’s attorney, and a third person familiar with the matter.”

“The special counsel’s team has also asked these witnesses if Trump had ever gossiped with them about Giuliani’s drinking habits, and if Trump had ever claimed Giuliani’s drinking impacted his decision making or judgment. Federal investigators have inquired about whether the then-president was warned, including after Election Night 2020, about Giuliani’s allegedly excessive drinking. They have also asked certain witnesses if Trump was told that the former New York mayor was giving him post-election legal and strategic advice while inebriated.”

Donald Trump faces an astonishing number of scheduled criminal and civil trials — six so far, with a seventh to be scheduled — within the next nine months at the same time he seeks the Republican presidential nomination.

One of the cases threatens to cripple his company. Others, comprising 91 criminal counts, threaten to put him in prison.

While some dates may change, here’s the calendar thus far:

October 2 — Trump, the Trump Organization, and his sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump are accused of years of widespread fraud involving false financial statements.

October 23 — Trump is charged with 13 felonies related to an alleged conspiracy to illegally interfere with Georgia’s 2020 presidential election. While Trump himself won’t likely be tried this day, at least one of his 18 co-defendants, Kenneth Chesbro, has asked for early trial.

January 15 — Trump is accused of defaming the writer E. Jean Carroll in 2019, when he was president, when he made statements about her allegation that he raped her in the mid-1990s.

January 20 — Trump and the Trump Organization are accused of making millions of dollars in secret payments by conning working-class Americans to invest in a multi-level marketing company.

March 4 — Trump and six unindicted co-conspirators are charged in trying to subvert democracy, including by trying to impede Congress from certifying Biden’s election on January 6, 2021.

March 25 — Trump was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records as part of a scheme to pay hush money in 2016 to a porn star and Playboy model.

May 20 — Trump was charged with retaining hundreds of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and trying to hide those records from government officials.

“Republican lawmakers voted Monday to temporarily silence a Democratic member of the so-called Tennessee Three during an already tense House floor session after determining the young Black member violated newly enacted rules designed to punish disruptive members,” the AP reports.

“The move directed at Rep. Justin Jones prohibited him from speaking on and debating bills for the remainder of the day, which came a week into a special session that Republican Gov. Bill Lee called in reaction to a deadly shooting at a Christian elementary school in Nashville in March.”

Tennessean: “Anger exploded from the gallery as the House voted to silence Rep. Justin Jones for the day, after he was ruled as out of order twice by House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R). Fellow Democrats walked out of the session after the vote.”

“Former top Trump White House economic adviser Peter Navarro told a federal judge that Donald Trump made it ‘very clear’ that he wanted Navarro to invoke certain privileges and not respond to a congressional subpoena from the now-defunct House select committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol,” CBS News reports. “Navarro took the stand in an evidentiary hearing in which his legal team urged federal Judge Amit Mehta to allow Navarro to defend himself at his contempt of Congress trial by stating that Trump told him not to comply with the committee’s subpoena.”

“Russian President Vladimir Putin has no plans to attend the funeral of Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was killed when his plane crashed last week,” Reuters reports. The Daily Beast says Putin was not invited.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin has agreed to make his first foreign trip since a warrant for his arrest on alleged war crimes was issued by the International Criminal Court,” Bloomberg reports.  “The Kremlin is preparing Putin’s visit to China for the Belt and Road Forum in October… Putin has accepted the invitation from Chinese President Xi Jinping to attend the event.”

“After six consecutive days of drone attacks on the Moscow region last week, one would think the shock of sudden late-night explosions might compel some Russians to consider what Ukrainian civilians have endured during 550 days of relentless Russian attacks,” the Daily Beast reports.

“Instead, some residents near the Russian capital have taken to social media to vent about the inconvenience of being woken up in the middle of the night, question why the ‘international community’ isn’t coming to their rescue, and blame Ukrainian ‘terrorists’ for targeting civilian areas.”

David Frum: “The Fourteenth Amendment won’t save us from Donald Trump.”

“Eminent jurists are promising that it will. They argue that language in the Fourteenth Amendment, adopted after the Civil War, should debar the coup-plotting ex-president from appearing on a ballot for any office ever again. Their learning is undisputed. Their conclusions are another story.”

“The project to disqualify Trump from running for president is misguided and dangerous. It won’t work. If it somehow could work, it would create problems worse even than Americans already face. In an ideal world, Trump’s fellow Republicans would handle this matter by repudiating his crimes and rejecting his candidacy for their presidential nomination. Failing that—and it certainly seems as if that hope is failing—opponents of Trump must dig deep and beat him at the polls one more time. There is no cheat code to win this game.”

“The conservative chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday told the new liberal majority in a scathing email that they had staged a ‘coup’ and conducted an ‘illegal experiment’ when they voted to weaken her powers and fire the director of state courts,” the AP reports.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, Punchbowl News reports.  From a statement: “I have now begun treatment, which will continue for the next several months. I expect to work through this period and intend to return to Washington, continuing my work as Majority Leader and serving the people of Louisiana’s First Congressional District.”

Shawn Fain, president of the United Auto Workers union since March, has declared “war” on the Detroit Three automakers, with contract demands that even he calls “audacious,” including proposals for a 46% raise, a return to traditional pensions and a 32-hour work week, Bloomberg reports.

“The Biden administration made its most detailed argument to date on the benefits of organized labor with a potential autoworkers’ strike looming as negotiations between the United Auto Workers and auto companies continue and the president works to convince Americans to support his ‘Bidenomics’ vision,” CNN reports. “The report, which Vice President Kamala Harris delivered to the president, comes days after the UAW union approved possible strikes at the country’s automakers next month if a deal can’t be reached with management as they work to win back many concessions that were made over 15 years ago. The UAW, which backed Biden in 2020, has yet to say whether they will endorse the current president, saying their members still need to see more from Biden before lending him their support.”

A judge on Monday sentenced an Ohio attorney to three years in prison for illegally voting in the last two general elections, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

“Javier Milei, Argentina’s radical presidential front-runner, will need time to carry out his campaign pledges of scrapping the peso currency and cutting taxes on grains should he win the election, adding that he could avoid congressional hurdles by using executive decrees,” Reuters reports.

“The top Chinese official in charge of economic relations with Washington told Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Tuesday he was ready to ‘make new positive efforts’ to improve cooperation following an agreement to reduce trade tension by launching groups to discuss export controls and other commercial disputes,” the AP reports.

“The FBI and European law enforcement agencies dismantled a massive network of hacked computers that had been used to defraud victims of hundreds of millions of dollars,” CNN reports.

“Melania is busy with her son and family and she pays only so much attention to these issues which captivate the media. Of course these criminal charges are embarrassing to Melania and to Donald, but life goes on and each reacts to stress in different ways.”— A social acquaintance, quoted by People, on Donald Trump facing 91 criminal charges.

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

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