It’s been a while since we delivered a good old-fashioned Morning Briefing, but I suspect as the primaries heat up along with the legal issues of Donald Trump that we may see more of these this year and especially next. Speaking of legal issues, federal prosecutors have Trump on tape discussing classified documents he kept after leaving the White House. These particular documents were about his administration’s potential plan to attack Iran, but the substance of the classified documents is less important than what Trump revealed on the recording: That he knew the documents were secret and that he had not declassified them. That basically shatters the threadbare defense he’s been pushing for the last year — that he had declassified all the documents, potentially “with his mind.”
This is what separates his case from that of Biden and Pence: When it was discovered they had classified documents, they returned them as soon as possible. Trump knew he had them, actively withheld and even hid the documents from government officials. Indeed, prosecutors are also trying to determine — and have sought information from Mar-a-Lago employees pertaining to — Trump’s efforts to obstruct justice by hiding boxes of classified documents from authorities.
Add this to the trial in Manhattan set to take place early next year, the potential indictment against him this August in Georgia, and the still ongoing January 6th investigation.
Elsewhere, the House passed a bill to raise the debt ceiling and avert economic disaster. Both parties have something to crow about, and credit where credit is due: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy managed to alienate the far right wing of the party enough to lose their votes but not enough to blow up the deal and get himself voted out as Speaker. He extracted some concessions, but ultimately, the deal was fairly typical of these kinds of deals during past administrations despite the fact that McCarthy and Biden were dealing with 20-25 Republicans who were willing to tank the American economy to get their way. It’s notable, too, that more Democrats and Republicans voted for the deal despite the fact that the GOP controls the House.
Moreover, as David Leonhardt over at the NYTimes says — and I think accurately — it’s more proof that, for all the guff he gets, Biden “is the most successful bipartisan negotiator to occupy the White House in decades.” After Trump’s term, that’s a big part of the reason why we elected him into office because we thought he could bridge the gap enough to get things done. He has, and the big victory here is that he kept his Clean Energy initiatives intact, and while the agreement adds new work requirements for older people receiving anti-poverty benefits, it erases those requirements for veterans and homeless people, which — in terms of numbers — gets rid of the work requirements for more people than it adds.
The bad news for many of us is that the bill also prohibits Biden from making any additional pauses to student loan repayments. We’re back on the hook after August 30th. However, Biden’s student debt cancellation executive order is still in play — the Supreme Court will decide the fate of that over the summer. It’s obviously an ultra-conservative Supreme Court, which is two strikes against Biden’s EO, but the Court does love to extend Presidential powers, so there’s still hope.
Happy Pride Month, folks!