Cup of Joe – September 28, 2023

“A judge has ruled that Donald Trump committed fraud for years while building the real estate empire that catapulted him to fame and the White House,” the AP reports.

“Judge Arthur Engoron, ruling Tuesday in a civil lawsuit brought by New York’s attorney general, found that the former president and his company deceived banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing financing.”

“The decision, days before the start of a non-jury trial in Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit, is the strongest repudiation yet of Trump’s carefully coiffed image as a wealthy and shrewd real estate mogul turned political powerhouse.”

After a judge ruled that Donald Trump was liable for extensive financial fraud over a decade, the former president railed against the “new, un-American depths” and “radical attack” against him.

Trump added the decision by a “deranged” judge was “a terrible reminder that the Radical Left Democrats will stop at nothing in trying to prevent me, and the American people, from winning the 2024 Presidential Election.”

Eric Trump also slammed the verdict: “Today, I lost all faith in the New York legal system. Never before have I seen such hatred toward one person by a judge—a coordinated effort with the Attorney General to destroy a man’s life, company and accomplishments.”

After a New York judge found that Eric Trump committed fraud, along with his father and brother, he complained on X:

“While everyone can see that this case is egregious, the only thing worse than weaponizing the legal system against a political opponent is unfairly going after their family. Both the Attorney General and the Judge know I had absolutely NOTHING to do with this case. Every single person has testified that my job has always been acquiring, developing and managing properties, not back office functions. The only reason I am collateral damage is because my last name is Trump and I am unwavering in the support of my father, his accomplishments and what he has done for our country, a nation which is now rapidly in decline.”

Not mentioned: Trump invoked his fifth amendment rights against self-incrimination more than 500 times.

“Nearly every aspect of Donald Trump’s life and career has been under scrutiny from the justice system over the past several years, leaving him under criminal indictment in four jurisdictions and being held to account in a civil case for what a jury found to be sexual abuse that he committed decades ago,” the New York Times reports.

“But a ruling on Tuesday by a New York State judge that Mr. Trump had committed fraud by inflating the value of his real estate holdings went to the heart of the identity that made him a national figure and launched his political career.”

“By effectively branding him a cheat, the decision in the civil proceeding by Justice Arthur Engoron undermined Mr. Trump’s relentlessly promoted narrative of himself as a master of the business world, the persona that he used to enmesh himself in the fabric of popular culture and that eventually gave him the stature and resources to reach the White House.”

David Cay Johnston says a judge’s ruling yesterday that Donald Trump committed large scale financial fraud effectively means that he “is no longer in business.”

“Worse, the self-proclaimed multibillionaire may soon be personally bankrupt as a result, stripped of just about everything because for years he engaged in calculated bank fraud and insurance fraud by inflating the value of his properties, a judge ruled Tuesday.”

“His gaudy Trump Tower apartment, his golf courses, his Boeing 757 jet and even Mar-a-Lago could all be disposed of by a court-appointed monitor, leaving Trump with not much more than his pensions as a one term president and a television performer.”

The Washington Post has a calculator that shows the Trump-inflated value of your home.

Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), who chairs the DSCC, called for indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who is up for reelection in 2024, to resign.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) called on indicted Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to resign his seat.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) called on indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to resign from the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Bob Casey also called on Menendez to step down.

And Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) too.

The dam has apparently broken among Democratic senators.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) told The Messenger that indicted Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) should resign his seat. Said Murray: “I believe he should step down and focus on his legal defense. If Senator Menendez refuses to resign, I encourage the Senate Ethics Committee to open an investigation into this, separate from the ongoing criminal case.”

“This week, I hope to see my colleagues fully address the alleged systemic corruption of Senator Menendez with the same vigor and velocity they brought to concerns about our dress code.”— Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), in a statement.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) in a statement: “Stepping down is not an admission of guilt but an acknowledgment that holding public office often demands tremendous sacrifices at great personal cost. Senator Menendez has made these sacrifices in the past to serve. And in this case he must do so again. I believe stepping down is best for those Senator Menendez has spent his life serving.”

Earlier this morning, several vulnerable red-state Democratic senators also called on Menendez to step down.

Charlie Sykes: “There’s something almost nostalgic about reading the indictment against New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. By which I mean clownishly nostalgic, because it’s a throwback to an age when our corrupt politicians were old-school crooks, and frankly, rather stupid. There are no seven-levels of separation influence-peddling, no elaborate shell-companies or conspiracies.”

“What we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a throwback — a house full of gold bars, envelopes stuffed with cash ($480,000), and a shiny new Mercedes parked in the garage. A slightly modern twist: DNA linking all of this boodle to the guys who paid cash for their own U.S. senator.”

“Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, his chamber’s second-highest-ranking Democrat, is now calling for Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to resign following his federal indictment on bribery and a host of other charges,” Politico reports.

“It’s further erosion of support for Menendez among Senate Democrats, more than half of whom have called for the New Jersey Democrat’s ouster.”

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) appeared “in court on Wednesday to face charges of taking bribes from three New Jersey businessman, as calls for his resignation from his fellow Democrats escalated,” Reuters reports.

“Federal prosecutors in Manhattan last week accused Menendez, 69, and his wife of accepting gold bars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in exchange for the senator using his influence to aid Egypt’s government and interfere with law enforcement probes of the businessmen.”

He pled not guilty.

President Biden addressed the UAW picket line in Michigan: “You deserve the significant raise you need and other benefits.”

The New York Times called it “an extraordinary gesture of support to a labor union by a sitting American president.”

“The president mentioned he has been a labor supporter for decades and has picketed before — just not as president. The White House is betting that this visual is enough to help counter Trump’s visit to the area tomorrow.”

“Donald Trump swept into office in 2016 by making a series of grandiose promises to union workers in Michigan and nearby manufacturing states: No plant closures, better wages, a booming economy,” The Messenger reports.

“As he heads back to Michigan on Wednesday armed with a new focus on electric vehicles amid an ongoing strike by the United Automobile Workers, Trump’s rhetoric is meeting a stark reality: Many of the promises the former president made during the 2016 campaign not only failed to come true but in some cases, the opposite happened.”

UAW President Shawn Fain told CNN he won’t meet with Donald Trump later today in Michigan: “I see no point in meeting with him because I don’t think the man has – has any bit of care about what our workers stand for, what the working class stands for. He serves the billionaire class.”

Former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson claims without providing further evidence that Donald Trump said the word “hang” as he was watching rioters chant “hang Mike Pence” as the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection unfolded on a TV in the dining room off the Oval Office, ABC News reports.

As Hutchinson writes in her new book: “I take a few steps back as Mark takes my place in the doorway and strain to listen to both conversations. The TV in the Oval dining room is blaring, and the president is yelling. What’s he saying? I can’t make it out. I hear him say ‘hang’ repeatedly. Hang? What’s that about? Mark hands his phone back to me, the cue for me to return to my desk.”

“House Republicans on Tuesday advanced four full-year spending bills, handing Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) a small win but doing little to stave off a government shutdown at the end of the month,” The Hill reports.

“The chamber voted 216-212 to begin consideration of spending measures to fund the Department of Defense; Department of Homeland Security; Department of State and foreign operations; and the Department of Agriculture, rural development and Food and Drug Administration.”

“Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) was the lone GOP ‘no’ vote.”

“Kevin McCarthy lacks the votes to pass his latest idea for a short-term spending bill, signaling a shutdown at midnight Saturday is inevitable,” Politico reports.

“McCarthy is expected to bring a bill to the floor on Friday that would pair a stopgap funding bill with spending cuts and a sweeping GOP border bill. But despite multiple entreaties from the speaker and his allies during a closed-door meeting on Wednesday, Politico confirmed enough House conservatives oppose a so-called continuing resolution to block its passage.”

“Senate leaders released the details of a six-week stopgap spending bill on Tuesday afternoon, hoping to pass a bill through both chambers of Congress within five days — and little room for error,” Politico reports.

“The temporary spending bill, called a continuing resolution, would fund federal agencies at current levels through Nov. 17, setting up another government funding deadline before Thanksgiving rather than at midnight on Saturday.”

Punchbowl News: “Given what we know right now, there is virtually no chance Congress can avert a shutdown at this point. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has said consistently that he would not provide consent for any legislation that sends more money to Kyiv.”

“Without any kind of consent agreement, the Senate will take until at least Sunday to pass this bill. That doesn’t account for the House at all. Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the House GOP leadership will have major problems with this CR.”

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL), a House Freedom Caucus member, told Axios the bipartisan Senate funding bill is a “non-starter” with House Republicans: “That thing is dead over here.”

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told members of the House GOP conference Wednesday morning that he will not bring the Senate’s bipartisan continuing resolution to the floor for a vote,” The Hill reports.

Former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said he has a “hard time seeing” how Congress averts a government shutdown, calling hard-right resistance to a spending deal nothing more than “nihilism,” the Madison Capital Times reports.

Said Ryan: “There’s just a small handful of members. I think they think they win by losing. I think they win under any scenario. … We look like fools, we look like we can’t govern.”

Washington Post: “With days left before the government shuts down, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has embraced steep reductions to the U.S. safety net in an attempt to appease far-right Republicans’ demands for lower spending.”

“If McCarthy can win over conservatives and pass legislation funding the government, the GOP hopes to have greater leverage in negotiations with the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House. But far-right votes have remained elusive, leading McCarthy to propose ever-larger — and still evolving — spending cuts.”

And he’s intent on pushing his more moderate members to vote for them. It seems like a perfect plan to lose the majority.

“Kevin McCarthy faces an unenviable choice this week: keep his job as speaker, or team up with Democrats to keep the government from shutting down,” NBC News reports.

“Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and other conservative hard-liners are threatening to overthrow McCarthy if he works with Democrats to pass a short-term, stopgap measure to keep the government open.”

“But McCarthy may have to do just that, putting a continuing resolution, or CR, on the floor in the coming days if he wants to stave off a highly disruptive shutdown when money for the federal government runs out at midnight Saturday. A shutdown would have far-reaching consequences, halting paychecks for hundreds of thousands of troops, border agents and other federal workers.”

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy has reached a new point in spending negotiations, with only five days until a shutdown deadline: pushing for a meeting with President Joe Biden,” Politico reports.

“While McCarthy and his allies are increasingly projecting confidence they’ll be able to notch at least one minor spending win this week, it won’t do anything to avert a shutdown. To prevent that from happening, the speaker would almost certainly need to work with Democrats, given conservative opposition. Asked about that possibility Tuesday afternoon, McCarthy implied it’d be easier to cut a deal directly with Biden.”

“Facing a potential government shutdown in four days triggered by House Republicans’ inability to unite to pass spending bills, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is trying out a new strategy: shifting the blame,” the Washington Post reports.

“While there’s no reliable polling yet on which party voters would blame more for a government shutdown, many Republicans privately worry it will be theirs.”

“McCarthy is starting to point fingers at Democrats in a bid to pin a shutdown on disagreements over border security. It’s an attempt to rewrite the record of the past several weeks, during which House Republicans have been unable to pass a short-term bill to prevent a shutdown — even one that includes the border security policies his conference overwhelmingly supports.”

“Sometimes this week you may wonder if Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are even in the same party anymore,” Punchbowl News reports.

“McCarthy and McConnell are diverging on strategy, tactics and legislative goals on a near-daily basis as Washington hurtles toward the third big government shutdown in the last 11 years.”

In fact, McConnell is putting the blame for a shutdown on McCarthy: “The choice facing Congress is pretty straightforward. We can take the standard approach and fund the government for six weeks at the current rate of operations, or we can shut the government down in exchange for zero meaningful progress on policy.”

“A U.S. government shutdown would have a cascading economic effect, beginning mildly and deepening over time as millions of workers go without salary, private contractors aren’t paid and consumer uncertainty grows over Washington’s dysfunction,” Bloomberg reports.

“Federal contractors ranging from Elon Musk’s SpaceX to janitorial service providers for local federal buildings are bracing for up to $1.9 billion a day in lost and delayed revenue as funding lapses Oct. 1.”

Punchbowl News: “Based on what we know right now, it seems exceedingly likely that the federal government is going to shut down this weekend. Full stop…”

“Weekend shutdowns aren’t really all too impactful. The full scale of the shutdown won’t be felt until Monday morning when the vast majority of federal employees begin their work week.”

“It’s also important to note that a government shutdown is a slow-moving crisis. The situation gets more serious each day that agencies can’t fully function and hundreds of thousands of federal employees — including the military — don’t get paid.

“Yet our reporting suggests that this shutdown probably won’t be limited to this weekend.”

Playbook: “On the surface, there was motion: Both the House and Senate last night took procedural steps toward advancing spending legislation.”

“Underneath, there was no movement: Washington is no closer to averting a shutdown. If anything, a Sunday morning shutdown looks as likely as ever.”

“The Supreme Court refused to reinstate Alabama’s Republican-drawn congressional map, enabling a court-appointed official to draw the lines for the 2024 election instead,” The Hill reports.

A new Monmouth poll finds that if the federal government does shut down, 43% of the American public will hold the Republicans in Congress most responsible while 27% will place the blame on President Biden and 21% will blame congressional Democrats.

“Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, whose office is prosecuting cases involving former President Donald Trump, rapper Young Thug and other high profile defendants, says she and members of her family have faced troubling threats,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“Willis said she, her daughters, her father and even her ex-husband had their private information posted online. Some of those posts included racial slurs while others suggested violence.”

“In public, Donald Trump says his conversation with the Georgia secretary of state asking to ‘find’ votes for him was ‘a perfect call,’” Rolling Stone reports.

“But in private, the former president sounded a different tone about the conversation, asking his attorneys to draw up proposals for how to suppress its use in the criminal case against him.”

“Attorneys for pro-Donald Trump lawyer Ken Chesebro told a Georgia judge on Tuesday that providing ‘less than two months’ of legal advice after the 2020 presidential election does not amount to a racketeering scheme,” The Messenger reports.

“House Republicans, shooting for the history books, have set the bar for impeaching Joe Biden: They say they don’t need to prove that the president received money in order to charge him with bribery,” The Messenger reports.

“GOP investigators believe they don’t have to show that Biden took a ‘direct payment’… There are other ways to prove Biden engaged in the constitutionally impeachable offense Republicans are pursuing.”

“House Republicans are planning to plow ahead with their impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden in the event of a government shutdown, though a lapse in federal funding could present logistical challenges to their investigative work,” CNN reports.

“In recent days, House Republicans – like all federal agencies – have been working behind the scenes to figure out which of their operations and staffers will be deemed ‘essential’ if the government shuts down at midnight on Saturday. And it has been determined that the GOP-led committees heading the Biden impeachment inquiry will fall under that umbrella.”

President Joe Biden’s younger dog, Commander, bit another U.S. Secret Service agent at the White House Monday evening, the 11th known biting incident involving the 2-year-old German Shepherd, CNN reports.

“Attorneys for former President Donald Trump argue that an attempt to bar him from the 2024 ballot under a rarely used ‘insurrection’ clause of the Constitution should be dismissed as a violation of his freedom of speech,” the AP reports.

“The lawyers made the argument in a filing posted Monday by a Colorado court in the most significant of a series of challenges to Trump’s candidacy under the Civil War-era clause in the 14th Amendment. The challenges rest on Trump’s attempts to overturn his 2020 loss to Democrat Joe Biden and his role leading up to the violent Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.”

Rick Hasen: “There’s an old saying that sometimes it is more important for the law to be certain than to be right. Certainty allows people to plan their actions knowing what the rules are going to be.”

“Nowhere is this principle more urgent than when it comes to the question of whether Donald Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election results have disqualified him from becoming president again. As cases raising the question have begun working their way through the courts in Colorado, Minnesota, and elsewhere, the country needs the Supreme Court to fully resolve the issue as soon as possible.”

Donald Trump’s “violent rhetoric toward Gen. Mark Milley is raising fears he will use a second term in the Oval Office to seek retribution against his enemies,” The Hill reports.

Trump literally declared “I am your retribution.”

Molly Jong-Fast: “I can’t speak to what lurks in the hearts of political reporters and editors, but one has to wonder why there isn’t more coverage about Trump musing about sentencing the nation’s highest ranking general to death than, say, the age of the current president…”

“Oddly, Trump’s dangerous rant was not treated as the major news it absolutely should have been. ‘Only CNN and MSNBC covered Trump’s inflammatory Truth Social post about the general,’ Media Matters noted Tuesday, ‘while broadcast news outlets and Fox News completely ignored it.’”

Tim Miller: “Yes, Trump is also old, and sure, it would be nice for The Media to mention that from time to time. But the real exasperation simmering underneath goes something like this: 

“Sure Biden is old but the other candidate is a felonious maniac who attempted a coup and has said he wants to end the Constitution and assassinate his political enemies. Why aren’t more people — Republicans, the media, my father, anyone!!!! — panicking about that instead?”

“That is the issue flummoxing me of late…”

“Any human of any ideological stripe who is capable of looking at that news rundown with the slightest discernment must concur that Trump needs to be stopped. Which is why it’s the absence of Trump panic in GOP discourse that is the outlier, not the reasonable ongoing discussion about the best course for President Biden coming from the left.”

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

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