Cup of Joe – September 1, 2023

“Two Trump co-defendants in Georgia who requested speedy trials asked a judge Wednesday to formally separate their cases from the sprawling overall indictment, a move that would undercut Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ attempt to hold one massive trial for all 19 defendants in the election interference case,” CNN reports.

“Former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell and pro-Trump lawyer Kenneth Chesebro separately asked the judge overseeing the case to ‘sever’ their trials from the other defendants. If granted, this would break apart the case and allow their cases to go to trial as soon as October.”

“By the time Donald Trump is sitting at his federal trial on charges of criminally conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, he may have already secured enough delegates to effectively clinch the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination,” the New York Times reports.

“The former president’s trial is scheduled to start March 4, by which point five states are expected to have held nominating contests. The next day, March 5, is Super Tuesday, when 15 states, including delegate-rich California and Texas, plan to hold votes that will determine if any Trump challenger has enough political oxygen to remain a viable alternative.”

“One of the world’s most unrestrained speakers is on a collision course with the rigid rules and procedures of the U.S. criminal-justice system,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “In advance of trials, most defendants are concerned about reducing their jail time or getting a good plea deal, so they don’t argue about the restrictions judges routinely place on their speech rights to protect witnesses, preserve an unbiased jury pool and assure a fair hearing of the case. Lawyers’ standard advice to clients is to keep quiet, avoid antagonizing the judge and let the legal team make all the public statements about the case.”

“Donald Trump regularly flouts that advice and appears prepared to litigate to aggressively defend his right to keep doing so.”

“Mitch McConnell’s latest health scare guarantees Republican senators will return from recess next week just as they left — publicly and privately discussing the future of their 81-year-old leader,” Politico reports.

“The Senate GOP leader paused for roughly 30 seconds during a press availability in Kentucky, a little more than a month after a similar episode in the Capitol in late July. His office attributed both episodes to lightheadedness, adding that McConnell would consult on Wednesday with a physician as a precautionary measure.”

“That explanation may not stem questions when the Senate reconvenes next week. While worries about McConnell’s first freeze had faded somewhat during August recess, with even some critics publicly defending his abilities, the second incident is sure to trigger increased scrutiny of McConnell’s hold on the conference, as well as who might succeed him.”

Playbook: “The GOP leader’s latest health scare has sent the congressional rumor mill into overdrive, triggering questions about both his health and his political future. And yet, McConnell’s operation is saying very little. In that absence, both reporters and McConnell’s own rank and file are left to speculate about what’s happening.”

“How frequently are these bouts occurring? Are they seizures? Miniature strokes? Are they the byproduct of his concussion? Has he seen a neurologist?”

Philip Klein: “It’s one thing for something to happen once, but when it happens twice, and in a progressively worse way, it becomes harder to sweep under the rug.”

Politico: “The feud over the estate left by Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s late husband, Richard Blum, has many of the ingredients of a Netflix thriller — complete with a billion-dollar fortune and the potential for a season-ending cliffhanger over whether she will unleash political chaos by retiring from the Senate. It’s the story that everyone is whispering about given the messy final chapter in the life of a grand dame of California politics.”

“The family struggle that has emerged in recent weeks raises fresh questions about the 90-year-old senator’s ability to serve. A review of the San Francisco Superior Court file, along with a half-dozen interviews with family friends and associates, suggests Feinstein appears to be almost completely removed from the legal brawl, despite her stature and vast knowledge of government and the law.”

New U.S. intelligence shows North Korea and Russia are “actively advancing” high-level talks for additional weapons and other materials to assist Moscow’s brutal war in Ukraine, Politico reports.

 “Russia’s dead mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin filmed a video reassuring supporters that he hadn’t been ‘liquidated’ just a few days before he was killed in a fiery plane crash just over 30 miles from Vladimir Putin’s Valdai residence,” the Daily Beast reports.

“The video, released by a Prigozhin-affiliated Telegram channel on Thursday, appears to have been filmed on Aug. 19 or 20 while the Wagner Group boss was in Mali, where he was fighting to keep control of operations after his armed uprising in June intensified Wagner’s rivalry with the Russian Defense Ministry.”

Said Prigozhin in the video: “For those discussing whether or not I’m alive, how I’m doing. It’s the weekend now, the second half of August 2023. I’m in Africa. Fans of discussing my liquidation, intimate life, earnings or anything else—actually, everything is fine.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reissued a pointed warning to pillagers reportedly making rounds in areas devastated by Hurricane Idalia: “you loot, we shoot,” Politico reports.

Joe Perticone: “During last week’s Republican primary debate, Ron DeSantis said that, if elected, he would send U.S. Special Forces into Mexico to fight against the drug cartels on ‘Day One’ of his presidency.”

“This might seem like a fringe idea—sending troops across the southern border to kill people in a country that is one of our largest trading partners—but lately it has grown into something like a mainstream Republican policy position.”

Tucker Carlson is pounding home the theory that Democrats and the D.C. establishment are plotting to kill Donald Trump, the Daily Beast reports.

Said Carlson: “They protested him, they called him names. He won anyway. They impeached him twice on ridiculous pretenses. They fabricated a lot about what happened on January 6 in order to impeach him again. It didn’t work. He came back. Then they indicted him. It didn’t work. He became more popular. Then they indicted him three more times. And every single time his popularity rose.”

He added: “If you begin with criticism, then you go to protest. Then you go to impeachment. Now you go to indictment and none of them work. What’s next? I mean, you know, graph it out, man! We’re speeding toward assassination, obviously, and no one will say that!”

Donald Trump was asked by radio host Glenn Beck if he would use the presidency to jail his political opponents – as he promised to do in 2016.

Asked Beck: “You said in 2016, you know, ‘lock her up.’ And then when you became president, you said, ‘We don’t do that in America.’ That’s just not the right thing to do. That’s what they’re doing. Do you regret not locking her up? And if you’re president again, will you lock people up?”

Said Trump: “Well, I’ll give you an example. Uh, the answer is you have no choice because they’re doing it to us.”

 “Donald Trump went absolutely buck wild online Wednesday, posting more than 30 angry videos railing against his 2020 opponent Joe Biden, the Department of Justice, Democrats in general, Fox News, special prosecutor Jack Smith, Rupert Murdoch, and his own attorney general Bill Barr, among others,” the Daily Beast reports.

“A Donald Trump supporter who continues to believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen told jurors at his trial Tuesday that he ‘felt very comfy’ sitting in a senator’s seat during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol,” NBC News reports. “Brandon Fellows, who has called Jan. 6, 2021, a ‘beautiful day’ and said he liked the fact that senators and members of Congress feared for their lives, is representing himself in a trial that began last week.”

“Conservative groups say they’re planning a telethon to benefit the Michigan Republicans who are facing criminal charges after signing a certificate falsely claiming that former President Donald Trump won the state’s 2020 election,” the Detroit News reports. “The event will feature guests like former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was Trump’s personal lawyer, and Steve Bannon, who was Trump’s chief strategist, according to the PAC.”

NBC News: “Prosecutors are seeking 33 years in federal prison for Enrique Tarrio, the former leader, when he’s sentenced in the morning. Ethan Nordean will be sentenced Wednesday afternoon, with prosecutors seeking a 27-year prison sentence.”

“On Thursday, Joe Biggs — whom prosecutors want to spend 33 years behind bars — will have his sentencing hearing. The same day, a judge will sentence Zach Rehl, whom the Justice Department wants to serve 30 years in prison.”

Sentencing hearings for two leaders of the far-right Proud Boys group have been rescheduled after the judge canceled Wednesday’s proceedings because of a medical issue, CNN reports.

Washington Post: “We don’t yet know how much Giuliani will ultimately be forced to pay, but Howell suggested it could be ‘significant.’ Howell has already ordered him to pay about $132,000 in sanctions for his failures to comply with court orders. There will still be a trial to assess how much Giuliani owes Freeman and Moss in monetary damages.”

“The development is merely the latest example of a Trump ally suffering direct consequences and even being forced to pay up for promoting bogus voter-fraud claims. The other big one, of course, was Fox News agreeing to pay a $787.5 million settlement to Dominion Voting Systems over its defamation claims. That case also involved false Giuliani claims that Fox chose to air, despite prominent figures within the company privately deriding such claims — and deriding Giuliani personally.”

“Donald Trump routinely overstated his net worth — sometimes by more than $2 billion — during years when the actual values of his real estate holdings were far less than he claimed, according to a court filing Wednesday by the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James,” ABC News reports.

“The attorney general’s office included the numbers in a motion for summary judgement that asks the court to resolve a civil fraud claim before the AG’s $250 million civil suit against Trump goes to trial.”

“With more than a year to go before the 2024 election, a constellation of conservative organizations is preparing for a possible second White House term for Donald Trump, recruiting thousands of Americans to come to Washington on a mission to dismantle the federal government and replace it with a vision closer to his own,” the AP reports.

“Led by the long-established Heritage Foundation think tank and fueled by former Trump administration officials, the far-reaching effort is essentially a government-in-waiting for the former president’s second term — or any candidate who aligns with their ideals and can defeat President Joe Biden in 2024.”

“Pope Francis has blasted the “backwardness” of some conservatives in the U.S. Catholic Church, saying they have replaced faith with ideology and that a correct understanding of Catholic doctrine allows for change over time,” the AP reports. “Francis’ comments were an acknowledgment of the divisions in the U.S. Catholic Church, which has been split between progressives and conservatives who long found support in the doctrinaire papacies of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, particularly on issues of abortion and same-sex marriage.”

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) said the state can prosecute people who help women travel out of state for abortions in response to a lawsuit filed by a pro-abortion group and owners of women’s clinics, reports.

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son must compensate a woman who sued him after he implied she was having an affair with his father’s chief political opponent,” the AP reports.

“The court ordered Netanyahu’s eldest son, Yair Netanyahu, to pay over $34,000 in compensation and $6,000 in legal costs to Dana Cassidy. Cassidy sued him for defamation in 2020 after he insinuated on social media that she was romantically involved with Benny Gantz, who was running against his father for prime minister at the time.”

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

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