Cup of Joe – September 9, 2023

The newly-released Fulton County special grand jury report shows the panel recommended criminal charges against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and former national security adviser Michael Flynn — in addition to those actually charged.

The report was not binding and it shows some significant dissent for indicting Graham.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution says the report recommended 39 total indictments, instead of the 19 who were formally charged.

Every criminal charge recommended against Donald Trump by the Fulton County special grand jury had at least one no vote, the Washington Post reports. That suggests one person was repeatedly holding out — which would matter greatly at Trump’s trial.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) defended his actions surrounding the 2020 election after a grand jury report in Fulton County, Ga., released Friday showed jurors recommended that he be prosecuted, The Hill reports.

Said Graham: “At the end of the day, nothing happened. What I did was consistent with my job as being a U.S. senator, chair of the Judiciary Committee… I think the system in this country is getting off the rails and we have to be careful not to use the legal system as a political tool.”

“Peter Navarro, a senior Trump White House aide and vocal election denier who has said he helped hatch a legislative scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential race, was found guilty Thursday of contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol,” the Washington Post reports.

“In a federal trial in Washington that included just one day of testimony from three prosecution witnesses, and no witnesses for the defense, the 74-year-old former trade adviser was convicted of the two contempt charges he faced, each punishable by up to a year behind bars.”

New York Times: “The jury’s decision handed a victory to the House committee, which had sought to penalize senior members of the Trump administration who refused to cooperate with one of the chief investigations into the Capitol attack.”

“The trial also amounted to an unusual test of congressional authority. Since the 1970s, referrals for criminal contempt of Congress have rarely resulted in the Justice Department bringing charges.”

Donald Trump on Thursday formally notified the judge overseeing the Georgia election subversion case that he “may” try to move his state case into federal court, CNN reports. Several of Trump’s 19 co-defendants are already attempting to move their case to federal court.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis blasted Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who has pledged to investigate her handling of an indictment of Donald Trump and others, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Said Willis, in a letter: “Its obvious purpose is to obstruct a Georgia criminal proceeding and to advance outrageous misrepresentations. As I make clear below, there is no justification in the Constitution for Congress to interfere with a state criminal matter, as you attempt to do.”

“Mayor Eric Adams escalated his rhetoric over the migrant crisis, claiming in stark terms that New York City was being destroyed by an influx of migrants from the southern border and saying that he did not see a way to fix the issue,” the New York Times reports.

Said Adams: “Let me tell you something New Yorkers, never in my life have I had a problem that I did not see an ending to — I don’t see an ending to this. This issue will destroy New York City.”

“The Biden administration is considering forcing some migrant families who enter the country without authorization to remain near the border in Texas while awaiting asylum screening, effectively limiting their ability to travel within the U.S.,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Administration officials have been considering the idea as a way to stem recent increases in the numbers of migrant families crossing the southern border, which reportedly reached an all-time high last month. Supporters of the remain-in-Texas idea, which has yet to be finalized, hope that it would help the administration advance its goals of quickly deporting families who fail initial asylum screenings and deterring other families from crossing in the first place.”

“When Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas began sending migrants and asylum seekers from the southwestern frontier to New York, Washington and Chicago, he vowed to bring the border to the Democratic cities he said were naïvely dismissing its costs,” the New York Times reports.

“A year later, the migrant waves he helped set in motion have put northern ‘sanctuary’ cities increasingly on edge, their budgets stretched, their communities strained. And a border crisis that has animated Republican politics for years is now dividing the Democratic Party.”

“A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Texas to move a large floating barrier to the bank of the Rio Grande after protests from the U.S. and Mexican governments over Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s latest tactic to stop migrants from crossing America’s southern border,” NBC Dallas Fort Worth reports.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh said Thursday that he is “hopeful” the Supreme Court soon will take specific steps to deal with ethics issues at the court and boost public confidence in the institution, the Washington Post reports.

“Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito sharply rejected calls from Democratic senators that he not participate in an upcoming tax case where one of the lawyers involved also participated in recent Wall Street Journal interviews of the conservative jurist,” CNN reports.

“While House Democrats are confident they can defend President Joe Biden against a potential impeachment inquiry, many wish for a clearer strategy against GOP allegations on a known sensitive topic in the West Wing: Hunter Biden,” CNN reports.

Former Vice President Mike Pence said there is an “ethical cloud” hanging over the Biden family, telling Fox News he would support an impeachment inquiry led by House Republicans.

“House Oversight Chair James Comer (R-KY) said on Thursday he thinks there are enough votes in the House to vote to open an impeachment inquiry of President Biden, predicting the vote will be held in the middle of this month,” The Hill reports.

Tina Nguyen: “Yes, it would be easy for Gaetz to initiate the process of snatching the gavel from McCarthy. But the problem, as the Republican source put it, is preventing McCarthy from grabbing it right back. John Boehner’s resignation as Speaker in 2015 was prompted not just by a ‘motion to vacate’ vote, but by the fact that there was a viable, vote-getting challenger waiting in the wings: Paul Ryan, who would eventually become Speaker himself. McCarthy has no such threat to his supremacy, unless Gaetz and four colleagues want to throw in with the Democrats.”

Said a GOP source: “If the inquiry is not enough, and they motion to vacate Kevin, then he’ll say, Ok, go ahead. Then you know what? Someone’s gonna renominate McCarthy and we’re gonna do 20 rounds again, just like last time. That’d be the biggest waste of fucking time you’ve ever seen.”

“Wisconsin Republicans talking about impeaching a state Supreme Court justice before she’s heard a case are pointing to the nearly $10 million she received from the Democratic Party as proof that she can’t fairly rule on redistricting cases that could weaken the GOP’s hold on the Legislature,” the AP reports.

“But the state GOP and other conservative groups have given campaign cash to other sitting justices, and they’re not recusing themselves on cases involving donors.”

Playbook: “Yes, they’re both political animals at heart, viewing each vote through the lens of whether it helps or hurts GOP prospects in the next election. But they have wildly different ways of doing that.”

“Where McCarthy is chatty, gabs with reporters and cheerily schmoozes with his members about their families, kids and even dogs, McConnell is reserved and at times taciturn — saying little and keeping his thoughts to himself. Even his deputies joke that being on his leadership team is like flying first class in a plane: You get to sit up front, sure, but McConnell is sealed off in the cockpit and you have no idea what he’s doing.”

“Their political situations are night and day. McCarthy is constantly under threat from the right, which constantly rumbles about ousting him from the speakership. McConnell’s members — most of them, anyway — are so loyal that even amid scrutiny from his recent health situation, they’re sticking behind him, full stop. Consequently, McConnell often focuses on what he likes to call the “long game,” thinking months and years ahead. McCarthy, meanwhile, tends to spend each day putting out a different fire.”

New York Times: “Though Mr. McConnell, 81, the longtime Republican leader, has been a leading nemesis of congressional Democrats for decades, they happen to share some common interests at the moment, with a government shutdown looming and clashes ahead on aid to Ukraine, disaster recovery spending and a potential impeachment of President Biden.”

“So despite their often hostile history with Mr. McConnell, some Democrats privately concede they are anxious about the prospect of his abrupt exit. They are counting on Mr. McConnell’s skills as a legislative tactician, his political stature and his general wiliness to help navigate congressional confrontation as they face a season of clashes with House Republicans driven by their party’s most far-right element.”

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) told Fox News he is “concerned” that Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) could severely damage the party’s chances in the 2024 election.

Said Hawley: “I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t vote for Mitch McConnell for leader. He is not my choice to be leader, and so I think we need a change.”

“The Biden administration has halted funding for a research program that sought to discover and catalogue thousands of exotic pathogens from around the world, officials confirmed Thursday, effectively ending a controversial virus-hunting endeavor that opponents say raised the risk of an accidental outbreak,” the Washington Post reports.

“A group of Republican presidential candidates and lawmakers have spent the week raising hell at the prospect of Covid mask mandates and lockdowns—despite the fact there’s no evidence any new mass restrictions will be implemented,” the Daily Beast reports.

“President Biden is set to arrive in New Delhi on Friday for a global summit meeting where he will present the United States as an economic and strategic counterweight to China and Russia, taking advantage of the absence of leaders from those two countries, who are skipping the gathering,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Biden is bringing with him the promise of up to $200 billion in new development funds for climate change, food security, public health and other infrastructure needs in less developed countries through revamped international financing institutions like the World Bank, leveraged by a relatively small investment by the United States.”

“The Internal Revenue Service has started using artificial intelligence to investigate tax evasion at multibillion-dollar partnerships as it looks for ways to better police hedge funds, private equity groups, real estate investors and large law firms,” the New York Times reports.

“The IRS is launching an initiative to crack down on 1,600 millionaires and 75 large businesses it says owe hundreds of millions of dollars in back taxes,” The Hill reports.

“The program takes advantage of additional funding for the agency included in the Inflation Reduction Act, which added funding to hire and replace 87,000 employees.”

“A top adviser to Ukraine’s president accused Elon Musk of enabling Russian aggression, after the billionaire entrepreneur acknowledged denying satellite internet service in order to prevent a Ukrainian drone attack on a Russian naval fleet last year,” the New York Times reports.

“When the Supreme Court considered the challenge to an Alabama congressional map that shortchanged the state’s Black voters, liberal justices expected the conservative majority to side with Alabama – if not gut the 1965 Voting Rights Act altogether,” CNN reports.

“Instead, the justices emerged from their first closed-door conference meeting on the case in October 2022 without a solid majority for either side… Ordinarily, this meeting, held without any law clerks or other staff present, results in a clear understanding among the nine justices of which party will prevail in a case. In the Alabama dispute, sources said, it was far from certain which side would win.”

“What happened next defied predictions from inside and outside the court. A series of negotiations, most notably between Chief Justice John Roberts and fellow conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, transformed what many thought would be a ruling undercutting the Voting Rights Act into a forceful affirmation of the law.”

“Ohio will use the same congressional districts in 2024 that it used last year, as the Ohio Supreme Court on Thursday granted the dismissal of two legal challenges to the map the court previously deemed to be unconstitutionally gerrymandered in favor of Republicans,” the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Jonathan Chait: “The appeal of the electability argument, despite the absence of any solid evidence for it, is that it allows Trump skeptics to avoid making any moral case against Trump. It is probably a correct calculation that a party dominated by Trump admirers will not support a candidate who believes Trump has done anything worse than occasionally write a ‘mean tweet.’”

“But the single-minded focus on electability is not merely a communications strategy. It is also a way of establishing moral boundaries within the party. And the message sent by focusing on Trump’s electability is that the only problem with his behavior is that it reduces the party’s chances of obtaining power. If Trump does win the nomination, which now appears extremely likely, the electability argument leaves no room for abandoning him; to the contrary, it creates a permission structure for Trump skeptics to once again support him as the lesser evil.”

“‘Electability,’ even if it was factually persuasive, is a morally empty, de minimis critique of a nakedly authoritarian figure. The Republican calculation through every step of the Trump era has been to avoid the short-term cost of a party split and shrink its differences with his base to the smallest possible level. They couldn’t bear to break irrevocably with him after he won the 2016 nomination, or at any time during his crime spree of a presidency, or even after the insurrection. And now he has obtained total mastery of the party.”

Politico: “Nancy Pelosi is a towering figure, perhaps the most consequential speaker to ever wield the gavel of the House and certainly the most powerful elected woman in American history, At a time when her octogenarian counterparts in the Oval Office and Senate leadership suite are visibly hobbled by age, the 83-year-old San Franciscan, older than both President Joe Biden and Sen. Mitch McConnell, seemingly defies the march of time.”

“Now, having relinquished her leadership role in Washington, the question is if she’ll do the same with her House seat at a time when California’s clout in the capital is diminished, her party is led by Northeasterners in the White House and both chambers of Congress, and San Francisco is facing acute, if not as dire as portrayed, challenges in the aftermath of the pandemic.”

“Donald Trump is, by his own admission, attacking President Biden in increasingly vicious terms. The attacks on Biden center on allegations that are exaggerated or unfounded, frequently drawing on right-wing media reports about the foreign business dealings of Biden’s son Hunter Biden. The president has denied any involvement in his son’s affairs, and no evidence has emerged proving otherwise,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump’s escalation comes amid his commanding polling position in the Republican primary, setting up what many allies hope will be a rematch with Biden in next year’s election, as well as the former president’s mounting criminal jeopardy, with multiple trials scheduled to occur during the height of the campaign.”

“The attacks offer a glimpse of potential 2024 battle lines and follow a well-established pattern for Trump of trying to delegitimize his political opponents.”

“The Supreme Court is once again being asked to make a major ruling on abortion in an election year,” CNN reports.

“A manufacturer of the widely used abortion drug mifepristone asked the Supreme Court on Friday to reverse a lower court ruling that, if allowed to go into effect, would restrict access to the drug.”

The full extent of Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe’s lavish, donor-funded lifestyle was detailed in an internal audit obtained by the Washington Post.

“There was $208,980 worth of luxury black-car travel over a two-year period. There was a $600 haul of bottled water during one hotel stay in San Antonio. There was even a $2,500 set of DJ equipment; O’Keefe dreamed of playing a set at Coachella… and was irritated when his staff couldn’t get him booked at the legendary California music festival.”

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

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