Krystal and Saagar cover the news about the FBI’s Trump investigation, Trump’s associates, midterm fundraising, housing market, NYT endorsements, Biden censorship, Liz Cheney election, & Biden climate provisions!
Jeff Stein: https://twitter.com/JStein_WaPo
Trump: 0:00 – 21:45
Guiliani: 21:46 – 35:17
Midterms: 35:18 – 56:22
Housing: 56:23 – 1:03:59
NYT: 1:04:00 – 1:10:23
Saagar: 1:10:24 – 1:20:52
Krystal: 1:20:53 – 1:29:33
Jeff Stein: 1:29:34 – 1:47:07
Trump: 0:00 – 21:45
Guiliani: 21:46 – 35:17
Midterms: 35:18 – 56:22
Housing: 56:23 – 1:03:59
NYT: 1:04:00 – 1:10:23
Saagar: 1:10:24 – 1:20:52
Krystal: 1:20:53 – 1:29:33
Jeff Stein: 1:29:34 – 1:47:07
Trump: 0:00 – 21:45 Guiliani: 21:46 – 35:17 Midterms: 35:18 – 56:22 Housing: 56:23 – 1:03:59 NYT: 1:04:00 – 1:10:23 Saagar: 1:10:24 – 1:20:52 Krystal: 1:20:53 – 1:29:33 Jeff Stein: 1:29:34 – 1:47:07
8/16 NEWSLETTER: Trump Orbit, Midterm Races, Housing Market, Climate Provisions, & More!
Welcome to the August 16th, 2022 edition of the Breaking Points with Krystal and Saagar premium newsletter. The live show is only a month away, so make sure to get your tickets here: https://www.ticketmaster.com/event/0E005CD6DBFF6D47. If you would like to buy a bundle of tickets please email email@example.com.
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The news about investigations of Donald Trump continues to pour in. In response to pressure from the right, Justice Department officials decided against releasing the FBI affidavit that led to the search warrant. An affidavit is a legal document that describes the basis of the search through sworn written testimony. The DOJ used an affidavit as part of their application for a search warrant from a Florida judge required to raid Trump’s compound. Multiple reasons were given as to why the affidavit will not be released, first being the safety of the cooperating witnesses, and second the presence of classified materials in the investigation. Escalating threats towards the FBI and extremist attacks that have already taken place after the raid serve as ample evidence for safety concerns. In a statement, DOJ officials expressed their belief that releasing the affidavit would do irreparable harm to the criminal investigation of Donald Trump. For the sake of transparency and public interest, the DOJ previously released the search warrant to deliver clarity on the FBI’s raid of Trump’s Florida residence. It revealed that top secret documents were contained in the basement of Mar-a-Lago, and that the probe is centered around the possibility Trump violated criminal statutes in the Espionage Act.
The former president posted on his TRUTH Social platform that the FBI had stolen his passports from Mar-a-Lago. He added that the raid was reminiscent of a third world country in the typical Trump voice. The passports were not listed on the property list for Mar-a-Lago and if they did, a man not charged with a crime would not be a flight risk. It would only be plausible if Trump mistakenly placed passports in boxes hidden behind locked doors in the basement of his home. Possessing two passports is common, particularly for a frequent international traveler like Trump. Justice Department officials say the FBI is not in possession of Trump’s passports and in response the Trump officials showed evidence that they were taken. Now the passports have been returned to him. The former president also told Fox News about his desire to do whatever he can to help the country turn down the temperature of political polarization. His newfound desire for calm will not sway the criminal investigators in New York nearing a plea deal with former Trump Org CFO Allen Weisselberg.
A more prominent figure in Trump’s orbit is also in the crosshairs of investigators. Former personal lawyer to President Trump Rudy Guiliani is being targeted in a Georgia 2020 presidential election probe. The investigation is looking into whether Trump and his allies broke the law in their efforts to flip Georgia’s election result. It marks the first time a close adviser to Trump has been targeted in an investigation of the efforts to overturn the 2020 results. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina will also testify as part of the Georgia investigation. He will do so after failing in an attempt to avoid a subpoena issued by a grand jury. The senator believes he was engaging in legitimate inquiries about the election results under the Constitution’s speech and debate clause when he contacted Georgia officials following the 2020 election. According to a statement by his office, Graham will appeal a Federal Judge’s dismissal of his effort to evade the subpoena. The senator voted to certify the 2020 election won by President Biden.
The lawyers leading Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election reportedly sought data from voting machines in multiple states. They directed a data firm to copy data from Dominion voting machines in Georgia, Michigan, and Nevada The effort was revealed by subpoenas of texts as part of the Georgia investigation mentioned previously. It demonstrates the length Trump and his allies went in trying to overturn the election result. Likewise, the Department of Justice subpoenaed Trump lawyer Eric Herschmann for documents and testimony surrounding the Capitol riot. He did not formally represent Trump as an attorney, but he did defend him during the first impeachment trial before joining the administration as a senior adviser. His responsibilities could lead to litigation about the scope of the subpoena. Herschmann was present for the most tense moments within the Trump White House leading up to the Capitol attack and previously testified to the House January 6th Committee.
The Senate GOP campaign arm reportedly slashed TV ad buys in three crucial swing state contests. The cuts came for candidates in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Wisconsin in a sign of serious fundraising trouble. Cuts were headlines by $5 million in the Philadelphia market presumably for first time political candidate Dr. Oz. The second quarter of fundraising featured a sharp decline for GOP candidates and record floods of money from Democrats; a trend that could be continuing this Summer. The National Republican Senatorial Committee’s communications director disputed the report and the stories about fundraising trouble. The issues being reported reflect the grassroots support for Trump over the Republican party at large. Voters are giving to Donald Trump’s campaign war chest and election funds instead of donating to GOP candidates.
Another reason for reallocating funds is the Democrats improved outlook on the midterm landscape. Abortion has become an issue at the heart of Democrats 2022 midterm aspirations. They have spent eight times as much on abortion related senate campaign advertisements compared to Republicans. It reflects the salience of the issue for Democratic fundraising and their belief that the sizable majority of Americans are pro-choice on abortion. After the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and sent abortion laws back to the states, the issue has become an important one in the upcoming elections. Pro-life Republicans suffered a major defeat in a Kansas abortion referendum that Democrats believe reflects the widespread popular support for their abortion stances. Specifically in Pennsylvania, Democrat John Fetterman has taken a slightly different approach. He has painted Republican Dr. Oz as an out of touch carpetbagger through relentless memes and ads. Oz’s behavior throughout the campaign has only boosted Fetterman’s portrayal of his opponent. The GOP candidate is responding by painting Fetterman as a radical progressive in the vein of Bernie Sanders. He has also hit Fetterman on extensive financial support he received from his parents and the Democrat’s health issues. During a recent campaign address, Fetterman’s speaking difficulties following his stroke a few months ago was visible to onlookers. It remains to be seen whether Dr. Oz will be able to successfully hit Fetterman on this issue.
The US housing market is in a period of turbulence and uncertainty due to a range of economic considerations. Mortgage rates and prices were at all time highs before Fed rate hikes began to cool the market. Historic supply shortages and robust demand have generated sky high rent prices and are making it difficult for young families to afford homes. This might be why 78% of Americans are preparing for a housing market crash and 63% of those surveyed want a housing crash, particularly those in Generation Z. Three quarters of respondents in the poll said they plan to buy a home if the market crashes and on average they have saved roughly $30,000 dollars to buy one. When asked about the timeline, 36% of respondents predicted the crash would come this year and 49% said next year. The rest cited either 2024 or 2025 as the year the crash would occur. Many respondents indicated they would have to sell their home if a recession hit and it could leave them owing more for their homes than they are worth. A whopping 91% of renters believe that increased mortgage rates will price them out of a home and 25% believe rent increases will not slow down even if the housing market crashes. US homebuyer confidence hit its worst slump since the collapse of 2007-08 marking eight consecutive months of decline. All of these indicators provide a bleak picture of the US housing market and how Americans feel about its trajectory.
The New York Times has made crucial endorsements in competitive New York City congressional primaries. The NY State redistricting process has changed the lines in NYC leading to hard fought primaries between Democrats. One of the high profile endorsements made by the NYTimes was lawyer Dan Goldman running for the open NY-10 congressional seat. He’s running against Rep. Mondaire Jones of a different district and multiple local progressive lawmakers. He became notable among Democrats for his role in serving the House during both of Trump’s impeachments. Goldman is also an extremely wealthy heir to the Levi’s clothing fortune. In a race full of progressives, Goldman has taken the moderate lane and is leading in the polls. A problem arose when the New York Times did not disclose Goldman’s ties to the Sulzberger family who owns the paper of record. He attended the same private school as multiple Sulzbergers and his wife later served on the board of the school with Cathy Sulzberger. The lack of disclosure could be an act of nepotism or an oversight error by the publication.
In his monologue today, Saagar focuses on covid censorship by Twitter in collaboration with the US government. Covid hit the world two and a half years ago and American life really returned to normal six months ago. The people who insist on wearing masks have become a minority who will not be convinced otherwise. But fairly recently people like them drove one of the most prolonged moral panics of our time. The rules were thrown out by those in power in favor of a censorship regime that has not been reckoned with. At the beginning of covid, it was a disease we knew nothing about and ludicrous solutions were being proposed online. The regime quickly struck down more complicated debates about masking, drug treatments, lockdowns, school closures, and vaccine mandates. Then it escalated when the Biden administration came into power, when Jen Psaki directed collusion between social media platforms. It was denounced on this show and elsewhere at the time because of the direct call from the government to censor American citizens online.
We now know it went even further based on information from a lawsuit by journalist Alex Berenson. He was a prominent covid skeptic who used to work at the New York Times. He runs a popular substack newsletter and rose to prominence during the covid pandemic. He was suspended from Twitter on August 28, 2021 and now his account is reinstated. Berenson claims that Twitter arbitrarily changed its rules on ‘content moderation’ to target him personally and his lawsuit against the company is proceeding. On his substack, Berenson revealed internal messages from Twitter’s slack group chat demonstrating that the White House pressured senior executives to remove Berenson from the platform. Executives initially pushed back on the demands of the administration led by Biden adviser Andy Slavitt. At the time, Slavitt was a senior adviser and prominent member of Biden’s pandemic response team. The platform ended up caving months later after rhetoric around vaccines became more heated. Berenson’s reinstatement came after Twitter had to acknowledge that his commentary did not violate the platform’s rules around vaccine efficacy. The White House cited a graphic about supposed misinformation surrounding the covid pandemic when they pushed for Berenson to be banned. It included mainstream conservative political commentators, Elon Musk, and other prominent Twitter users. If the government of the United States identifies you as a so-called disinformation spreader, they will use their power to get you off social media platforms. In retrospect, the statement made by Psaki is even more sinister than it was at the time. The government should not be deciding who gets to put out information online and target journalists they dislike. Freedom of expression is foundational to a free country, yet most of the media will ignore the campaign against Berenson.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar make the point that you cannot have the government decide who gets to be banned from platforms. The government should not just be neutral, they should take the steps of protecting the liberty of citizens. Corporate America owns the platforms and citizens have no ability to get information from them. Then you have government officials pressuring them to censor certain figures like Andy Slavitt with Alex Berenson. He should have been allowed on the platform at the time, and the government should try to persuade people instead of censorship. The censorship scandal surrounding Berenson has been practically ignored by the mainstream media journalists who would undoubtedly cry foul if a figure they support was deplatformed.
In her monologue, Krystal provides her outsider perspective to the past, present, and future of the Republican party. She spotlights the primary election for Rep. Liz Cheney in Wyoming and special election for Sarah Palin in Alaska. The former is the daughter of the former vice president and was once the heir to the neocon crown. Her punishment is coming not because of ideological shifts or her voting record; it is purely because she has fought Trump. Palin is on the ballot against two other candidates to fill the seat vacated when Rep. Don Young (R-AK) passed away. Liz Cheney closed out her campaign by placing her father in a campaign ad that targets Donald Trump. Her unapologetic Trump opposition demonstrates her acknowledgement that the race is finished and Cheney is looking to her next act. Trump being the dividing line in our politics explains why Cheney receives higher approval from Democrats than Republicans these days. In Alaska, Palin is trying to recapture the magic of the 2008 campaign posting throwback content on her Twitter timeline. She tried to bring back her old schtick in an interview with CPAC as if she is trying to relive her glory days. Palin is now surprisingly tame compared to the new GOP firebrands like Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene. Her antics set the stage for Trump when she leaned into trashing the media and drill baby drill in appeals to the party base. Now she is in an odd place as a nationally polarizing figure with less ecstatic support than new Republican figures. Her campaign is struggling with fundraising and she is locked in a tough special election battle. Alaska’s ranked choice voting system will be a challenge for her because she is likely to either be ranked first or last. So two figures connected to the past GOP are on the ballot Tuesday night. One from the bygone Bush era and the other a precursor to Trumpism. On policy they are nearly identical but that is not what matters in their respective elections.
After the monologue, Krystal and Saagar talk about the rank choice voting providing an obstacle for Palin in Alaska and a saving grace for Sen. Lisa Murkowski. The latter is a deeply tied politician to the communities in her state and won a write-in campaign back in 2010 for that reason. Sarah Palin’s antics and aesthetics are much more tame than the new stars of the Republican party and her national star has burned out. Her voting record would be the same as a MTG or a Liz Cheney, though because of her stance on Trump Cheney will lose her seat. Liberal billionaires are considering financing a presidential run for Cheney if she loses because policy matters very little now.
Krystal and Saagar are joined by Washington Post reporter and frequent Breaking Points guest Jeff Stein. He is back on the show to talk about climate provisions in the Schumer-Manchin budget agreement and how they could work in coal country. A man in West Virginia who was a coal miner is now hoping to get a green energy job as part of the deal. It reflects the shifting approach to climate from penalties for consuming carbon to reducing the cost of renewable infrastructure. Reviving the American industrial core through the green energy economy is the policy framework of the bill that could bring jobs to states like West Virginia. Deindustrialization has been devastating in Manchin’s state and investing in climate could lead to jobs for former miners. In the bill, Manchin added money to the mining and subsidies for fossil fuels that will promote energy independence and lower costs for consumers. The question becomes whether the model works on a national level and if the bill’s provision makes it an economic package rather than a climate bill. Total jobs added over ten years would be 100,000 so it is not quite a national package. Once renewable technology is made, they run on their own accord in a way that is different from coal. West Virginia also has existing infrastructure that could be used for exports in the way it was at the state’s peak. A battery facility highlighted by Stein’s piece demonstrates the potential to bring new jobs and the long way the state would have to climb to get back to its peaks. Solar industry jobs and non union membership has been part of the business model for West Virginia firms, unlike the old jobs in the coal industry. Bringing money specifically to the sector and tax credits for energy producing regions included in the bill could directly target states like West Virginia. Provisions in the bill to assist the fossil fuel industry drew criticism from the climate left and led to the industry backing the bill. New approvals for fossil fuel infrastructure will be expedited for companies looking to expand production, but in the aggregate the emissions will be reduced by the bill. There are still worries about cost competitiveness between renewable sectors and the fossil fuel industry though much less than a decade ago. Provisions creating tax incentives for oil companies to reduce emissions have spurred them to invest in renewables instead of putting funds towards even more fossil fuel investments.
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Categories: News Updates