Cup of Joe – November 7, 2023

“Donald Trump and his allies have begun mapping out specific plans for using the federal government to punish critics and opponents should he win a second term, with the former president naming individuals he wants to investigate or prosecute and his associates drafting plans to potentially invoke the Insurrection Act on his first day in office to allow him to deploy the military against civil demonstrations,” the Washington Post reports.

“In private, Trump has told advisers and friends in recent months that he wants the Justice Department to investigate onetime officials and allies who have become critical of his time in office, including his former chief of staff, John Kelly, and former attorney general William Barr, as well as his ex-attorney Ty Cobb and former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark Milley… Trump has also talked of prosecuting officials at the FBI and Justice Department.”

“In public, Trump has vowed to appoint a special prosecutor to ‘go after’ President Biden and his family.”

New York Times: “For Donald Trump, a new set of New York Times/Siena College polls captures a stunning, seemingly contradictory picture.”

“His 91 felony charges in four different jurisdictions have not significantly hurt him among voters in battleground states. Yet he remains weaker than at least one of his Republican rivals, and if he’s convicted and sentenced in any of his cases, some voters appear ready to turn on him — to the point where he could lose the 2024 election…”

“If the former president is convicted and sentenced — as many of his allies expect him to be in the Jan. 6-related trial held next year in Washington, D.C. — around 6 percent of voters across Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin say they would switch their votes to Mr. Biden. That would be enough, potentially, to decide the election.”

“On Monday, Donald Trump [left] the campaign trail for a place where he’ll still be the center of attention: a witness box,” Politico reports.

“The former president [testified] in the ongoing $250 million civil fraud trial concerning a lawsuit in which Trump stands accused of orchestrating sweeping corporate fraud by inflating his net worth. New York Attorney General Tish James, who brought the case, alleges that Trump, his adult sons and their business associates used falsified documents about his net worth in order to obtain favorable terms from banks and insurers.”

Politico: Six things to watch for as the former president testifies.

It could be the only time Trump takes the witness stand in his many trials because “criminal defendants cannot be forced to testify.”

“Testimony by former president Donald Trump quickly descended into bitter sniping Monday among the judge, Trump’s attorneys and a lawyer for the New York attorney general’s office, as Trump’s discursive answers and outbursts prompted the judge to repeatedly admonish him and threaten to curtail his testimony,” Politico reports.

Said Justice Arthur Engoron: “I beseech you to control him if you can. If you can’t, I will. I will excuse him and draw every negative inference that I can.”

Washington Post: In the courtroom, Trump cycles through annoyance, boredom and frustration.

“Donald Trump testified on Monday in his civil fraud trial that he was more of an expert than anyone on real estate and acknowledged helping assemble documents stating the value of his properties,” the New York Times reports.

Said Trump: “I would look at them, I would see them, and I would maybe on occasion have some suggestions.”

“While Mr. Trump’s testimony appeared to undercut efforts to distance himself from the valuing of properties, he also testified at times that he did not intervene.”

“He called me a fraud and he didn’t know anything about me… It’s a terrible thing you’ve done. You know nothing about me. You believe this political hack back there, and this is unfortunate.”— Donald Trump, attacking the judge in his civil fraud trial.

“As Donald Trump prepares to take the stand in the civil fraud trial that could destroy his business empire, the ex-president and his attorneys have settled on a strategy built on spite and unbridled antagonism. According to two sources familiar with the matter and another person briefed on Team Trump’s legal strategies, the former president and his lawyers are intentionally trying to provoke the judge into a nuclear-level overreaction,” Rolling Stone reports.

“Inviting that kind of response could even lead to the judge ordering Trump to be remanded to a jail cell for the night. The judge in the case had already imposed a gag order on Trump, warning him to refrain from attacks on the judge’s staff. Late last week, the order was expanded to also include Trump’s attorneys. Trump has still shown a brazen willingness to violate it repeatedly.”

“And as bizarre as it may sound, there are attorneys and political advisers to Trump who have told the former president that a so-called ‘remand order’ to put him in custody for repeatedly breaching the judge’s rulings might be a good thing — both legally and politically.”

New York Times: “The testimony will push Mr. Trump far outside his comfort zone of social media and the rally stage, where he is a master of mockery, a no-holds barred flamethrower who relishes most opportunities to attack foes. He leveraged that persona during his days as a tabloid businessman and fixture of New York’s tabloids and found that it worked just as well in the 2016 presidential race. He has since taken control of the Republican Party, and his style has become a defining influence in contemporary politics.”

“The witness stand is a different venue. It’s a seat that requires care and control, where lying is a crime and emotional outbursts can land you in contempt of court. Another risk during his time on the stand: Mr. Trump, 77, has been showing signs of strain and age on the campaign trail, mixing up the names of foreign leaders and at one point confusing which city he was in.”

“The Israeli military announced that its forces had fully encircled Gaza City and were carrying out ‘a significant operation’ in the Gaza Strip late Sunday, as the entire enclave was plunged into the same kind of widespread communications blackout that cut it off from the world during Israel’s initial ground invasion 10 days ago,” the New York Times reports.

“Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced visit to Baghdad on Sunday, sending a message to Iran and its proxies about the Biden administration’s commitment to defending its partners and U.S. personnel amid concerns of a wider conflict,” the New York Times reports.

“The U.S. is rushing to support Middle East leaders facing domestic turmoil over the Israel-Hamas conflict, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken making two surprise visits Sunday to the West Bank and Iraq, as the Biden administration comes under pressure to secure a pause in fighting and ease regional tensions,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The unannounced stops, first to the West Bank city of Ramallah, and then to Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, followed a summit of Arab leaders Saturday in Jordan, where Blinken reassured Middle East allies that the U.S. would work to keep the conflict from spreading and help Palestinian civilians caught in the unfolding humanitarian crisis.”

Punchbowl News: “There are 12 days until the government runs out of money and if you’re a member of the House, you should be at least slightly nervous.”

“Speaker Mike Johnson, who is beginning his second full week on the job, probably has to move a government funding bill this week in order to avert a shutdown when funding expires Nov. 17.”

“Johnson hasn’t shared much with his leadership team. The GOP whip operation is not currently in action at all. Remember, when GOP speakers move government funding bills, the majority leader and whip operation typically hold listening sessions and begin to work the vote days — if not weeks — in advance. That hasn’t happened yet.”

The Washington Post says Johnson is pursuing a “two-track strategy” passing appropriations bills and working to avoid a shutdown, but is struggling on both fronts. 

House Republicans are unlikely to try passing a stopgap funding bill this week, Punchbowl News reports. Funding runs out Nov. 17. If the House doesn’t pass a CR this week, Congress will come right up against the government funding deadline next week. Speaker Mike Johnson’s leadership team is considering a “laddered CR,” which funds individual agencies on a rolling basis.

Washington Post: Expect a rough two weeks for Speaker Johnson.

Punchbowl News: “To hear Senate Republicans tell it, they want to find every possible way to break Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-AL) military promotions blockade before resorting to a temporary patch proposed by Democrats.”

“But unless Tuberville suddenly relents — the equivalent of Hell freezing over — what they’re really doing is laying the groundwork for an eventual vote in favor of the Democratic resolution that would allow multiple promotions to be approved in tandem.”

“In the coming days, Republicans — who say the resolution would amount to setting a dangerous precedent — will attempt to show that they’ve exhausted every possible option and were forced into backing it. And that will mean putting Tuberville’s intransigence on full display.”

Playbook: “With less than two weeks until government funding expires, Speaker Mike Johnson appears to be pursuing a collision course with Democrats over the continuing resolution Congress will need to quickly pass.”

“We’re told by a senior GOP aide that Johnson is prepared to discuss three potential paths at tomorrow morning’s Republican Conference meeting: (1) a clean CR into early next year, (2) a CR with across-the-board spending cuts, defense excepted, or (3) the ‘laddered’ CR Johnson floated last week, which would stagger the funding deadlines for various government agencies.”

“Only option 1 is going to get any cooperation from Democrats, and so far Johnson hasn’t been the go-along-to-get-along type, meaning we could be on track for a pre-Thanksgiving showdown.”

“Sensitive personal information like the apparent home addresses and health conditions of thousands of active-duty US military personnel can be bought cheaply online from so-called data brokers, according to a study published Monday by Duke University researchers,” CNN reports.

“The researchers could shop for data on servicemembers based on geolocation, including whether they lived or work near Fort Bragg, Quantico or other sensitive military locations. In some cases, they were able to buy the data for as cheap as $0.12 per record.”

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) “refused to take off the table a potential plea deal with the federal government and acknowledged mistakes in his handling of key issues outlined in the criminal indictments against him even as he forcefully defended himself,” CNN reports.

 “House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) on Sunday repeatedly did not answer whether or not the 2020 election was not stolen when questioned by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos,” Axios reports.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) acknowledged President Biden was “legitimately elected president” as Republicans continue to be peppered with questions about whether the 2020 election was legitimate, The Hill reports.

Said Youngkin: “Well, I’ve consistently said that Joe Biden was legitimately elected president. He’s sleeping in the White House. I wish he weren’t.”

Speaker Mike Johnson avoided the question of whether he has a bank account, only saying he was a “man of modest means,” the Daily Beast reports.

Johnson “admitted that he and his son monitored each other’s porn intake in a resurfaced clip from 2022,” Rolling Stone reports. Johnson talked in a video about how he installed “accountability software” on his devices in order to abstain from internet porn.

Said Johnson: “It scans all the activity on your phone, or your devices, your laptop, what have you; we do all of it.”

He added: “It sends a report to your accountability partner. My accountability partner right now is Jack, my son. He’s 17. So he and I get a report about all the things that are on our phones, all of our devices, once a week. If anything objectionable comes up, your accountability partner gets an immediate notice. I’m proud to tell ya, my son has got a clean slate.”

Rep. Cory Mills (R-FL) claimed that “paid actors” are pretending to be killed in the Israel-Hamas war.

Said Mills: “What the mainstream media is saying about the indiscriminate fire and the actors—I mean you literally have paid actors who are pretending to be killed, pretending to be treated.”

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

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