What Now?! – 6/4/2021

“The Biden administration has announced which countries will share in the first 25 million Covid-19 vaccine doses donated by the U.S. to help low- and middle-income nations combat the pandemic,” Politico reports.

“The U.S. will route about 19 million doses — roughly 75 percent — through the global vaccine aid program COVAX… The Biden administration will send the remaining 25 percent of the doses directly to specific countries.”

Confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States have fallen to levels not seen since March 2020, according to an NBC News analysis — and experts say they expect case counts to stay low through the summer.

U.S. jobless claims drop to 385,000, another pandemic low, as layoffs further slow with economy strengthening, the AP reports.

“Former president Donald Trump remains relentlessly focused on the false claim that the November election was stolen from him and is increasingly consumed with the notion that ballot reviews pushed by his supporters around the country could prove that he won,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump has rebuffed calls from some advisers to drop the matter, instead fixating on an ongoing Republican-commissioned audit in Arizona and plotting how to secure election reviews in other states, such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Georgia… He is most animated by the efforts in Fulton County, Ga., and Maricopa County, Ariz.”

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times even reported that Trump “has been telling a number of people he’s in contact with that he expects he will get reinstated by August.”

Charles C.W. Cooke of the National Review confirms Haberman’s reporting: “I can attest, from speaking to an array of different sources, that Donald Trump does indeed believe quite genuinely that he — along with former senators David Perdue and Martha McSally — will be “reinstated” to office this summer after “audits” of the 2020 elections in Arizona, Georgia, and a handful of other states have been completed. I can attest, too, that Trump is trying hard to recruit journalists, politicians, and other influential figures to promulgate this belief — not as a fundraising tool or an infantile bit of trolling or a trial balloon, but as a fact.”

Of course, there’s no provision to “reinstate” a president who lost an election that’s been certified by Congress. It’s completely made up. On one level, it’s not important whether Trump himself believes these conspiracy theories or just uses them cynically to woo his supporters. It just doesn’t matter anymore what he thinks. Most of us can just ignore him. But on a more practical level, Trump has made support for his delusions a litmus test for whoever he endorses in the 2022 midterms. And most Republicans, it seems, are happy to play along.

That’s truly breathtaking. However, an alternate theory is that Trump thinks he’ll be indicted soon. Criminal defense attorney and journalist Seth Abramson suggests Trump is “setting the table to try to forestall an indictment with the implicit threat of violence.”

Trump’s rhetoric coincides with a return of his big rallies across the country this summer. Trump will use these events to whip up his supporters into a frenzy over the “stolen election” and how he will soon be “reinstated.” He likely believes this will make it harder to indict and prosecute him.

More from Abramson: “Malignant narcissistic sociopathic would-be strongmen always act this way. When they finally face accountability, they ramp up the threat of violence significantly by ramping up the anger and paranoia of their supporters. Trump is no different from Saddam Hussein in this respect.”

In many ways, it’s a repeat of the same playbook that led to the January 6 insurrection. Give your followers false hope in a completely unattainable outcome, so you can channel their disappointment into rage. It’s entirely plausible this is why Trump is talking about being “reinstated” later this summer. But it’s no less breathtaking in its scope.

“He called me a loser. I’ve never lost an election. He has. He’s the only loser in that mix… He’s down there obsessing about the fact that he’s a loser. I’m sorry you’re a loser, but you lost.”  — Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), talking about former President Donald Trump on CNN.

“The Supreme Court is expected to release a decision in the coming days that could provide the first glimpses of how its 6-3 conservative majority will shape the future of LGBT rights,” CNBC reports.

“The Supreme Court is leaving in place a $2 billion verdict in favor of women who claim they developed ovarian cancer from using Johnson & Johnson talc products,” the Associated Press reports.

“Justices Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh took no part in the court’s action. Alito owns $15,000 to $50,000 in Johnson & Johnson stock. Kavanaugh’s father headed the trade association that lobbied against labeling talc a carcinogen and including a warning label on talc products.”

“The Supreme Court has sharply curtailed the scope of the nation’s main cybercrime law, limiting a tool that civil liberties advocates say federal prosecutors have abused by seeking prison time for minor computer misdeeds,” Politico reports.

“The 6-3 decision handed down Thursday means federal prosecutors can no longer use the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to charge people who misused databases they are otherwise entitled to access… In an unusual lineup, the court’s three Trump appointees — who are also the newest justices — joined the court’s three liberals to reject the Justice Department’s interpretation of the statute.”

“The White House is making it increasingly clear that time is running out to craft a bipartisan agreement on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, taking a sharper tone that could soon clear Democrats to act on their own to achieve President Biden’s jobs ambitions but deny him the deal with Republicans he has actively sought for weeks,” the Washington Post reports.

“The urgent tone reflects the political choices confronting Biden, a would-be dealmaker, as liberals grow increasingly restless about delayed action on the president’s sweeping jobs plan that is a centerpiece of the Democratic agenda.”

We have conflicting reports from what happened at Wednesday’s meeting in the Oval Office with Senator Capito. According to the Politico Playbook: “Per three people familiar, Biden wants $1 trillion in new spending and is sticking to his guns on corporate tax hikes being part of the pay-fors. (A fourth person familiar tells us that the new money Biden wants would be atop a baseline of $400 billion over five years, if you want to get uber technical. Point is: New money.)”

“Republicans weren’t happy, to say the least. Biden, they have said publicly, told them just a few weeks ago in an Oval Office meeting that baseline spending — i.e., money that would be spent under current policy — could be included in the total. In their latest $928 billion infrastructure proposal, they had put forward only $257 billion in new spending, while the White House’s last number was $1.7 trillion.”

“The GOP is considering another counteroffer that could come as soon as Friday, when Capito will be talking to Biden again, this time likely by phone. It’s unclear what that would look like — or even whether Republicans will make a new proposal.”

But the Washington Post reports that “President Biden signaled at a private meeting on Wednesday that he would support significant revisions to his tax proposal to win Republican backing on a broader infrastructure package, outlining a plan for about $1 trillion in new spending financed through tax changes that do not appear to raise the top corporate rate.”

“Biden’s new offer amounted to a major concession after Republicans said his earlier proposal to lift the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% — a move that would unwind the tax cuts the GOP adopted in 2017 — amounted to a nonstarter.”

“Instead, Biden on Wednesday recommended a new, minimum corporate tax of 15%, seeking to take aim at dozens of profitable U.S. corporations that pay little to nothing to the federal government annually.”

Punchbowl News: “The Senate minority leader first lambasted Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Family Plan as too expensive and too full of liberal goals.”

“McConnell then laid out what Republicans would be willing to do, which was very, very far from what Democrats had proposed.”

“McConnell empowered Capito to cut a deal with Biden. McConnell also made clear Wednesday morning in Kentucky that he’d spoken to Capito before the meeting with Biden. The translation there: Capito isn’t freelancing.”

“Now the entire Senate Republican caucus has rallied around a slimmed-down infrastructure bill, leaving the two sides miles apart. McConnell has rallied his colleagues around where he wanted to go, giving them an alternative they can talk about back home. McConnell 101.”

Rich Lowry: “That the White House has been so willing to try to negotiate with Senate Republicans on infrastructure is probably a sign that it doesn’t have 50 votes for the current Biden proposal, either…”

“A couple of months from now, it could be obvious that the highly touted Biden revolution is sputtering to a stop before it even gets started.”

“If so, the fault won’t be Manchin’s or Sinema’s, or in our stars, but in the simple fact that Biden doesn’t have enough votes in Congress—never did and never will.”

“The FBI is investigating Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in connection with campaign fundraising activity involving his former business,” the Washington Post reports.

“FBI agents in recent weeks interviewed current and former employees of DeJoy and the business, asking questions about political contributions and company activities… Prosecutors also issued a subpoena to DeJoy himself for information.”

“The Trump Justice Department secretly seized the phone records of four New York Times reporters spanning nearly four months in 2017 as part of a leak investigation, the Biden administration disclosed on Wednesday,” the New York Times reports. “It was the latest in a series of revelations about the Trump administration secretly obtaining reporters’ communications records in an effort to uncover their sources.”

Adam Serwer: “The rioters were outliers in the sense that they employed political violence and intimidation in an attempt to overturn the election. But the rioters fell squarely within the Republican mainstream in sharing Trump’s belief that his defeat meant the election was inherently illegitimate. The main ideological cleavage within the GOP is not whether election laws should be changed to better ensure Republican victory, but whether political violence is necessary to achieve that objective.”

“Most elected Republicans have repudiated the violence of the Capitol riot, but they share the belief of the rank and file that the rioters’ hearts were in the right place.”

George Conway: “Republican senators have managed to outdo themselves in cowardice — which is quite a feat.”

“Last week’s Senate vote blocking a national commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol was even more appalling than either of the Senate’s impeachment trial acquittals of former president Donald Trump.”

“Two Senate committees plan to release a flurry of recommendations in a thorough 100-page-plus report about what went wrong on January 6, but they will stop short of examining former President Donald Trump’s role in the run-up to the attack on the US Capitol,” CNN reports.

Politico: “Federal prosecutors are examining whether Rep. Matt Gaetz obstructed justice during a phone call he had with a witness in the sex-crimes investigation of the Florida congressman.”

“The obstruction inquiry stems from a phone call the witness had with Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend. At some point during the conversation, the ex-girlfriend patched Gaetz into the call, sources said. While it’s unknown exactly what was said, the discussion on that call is central to whether prosecutors can charge Gaetz with obstructing justice, which makes it illegal to suggest that a witness in a criminal case lie or give misleading testimony.”

Politico: “Businesses say they can’t find enough workers to hire. The pace of Americans moving off the unemployment rolls is slowing. And a top Federal Reserve official is warning that job trends in May might look ‘odd.’ All of that suggests that the next monthly U.S. employment report, which will be released Friday morning, may not show the robust growth that President Joe Biden needs to help pass his sweeping agenda.”

“Democrats have downplayed the concerns, maintaining that the path back to full employment was always going to be winding and stacked with challenges. And economists are predicting the report will show 630,000 jobs were created in May, a robust number. But while Biden has been polling strongly on his handling of the economy, a second straight month of slower-than-expected job creation could embolden critics of his multitrillion-dollar infrastructure spending plans and raise fears that the labor market is facing a long road back to normal.”

“Attorneys for Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) said they’ve hired a private investigator to find Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) in order to serve a lawsuit that alleges he and other pro-Trump allies bear responsibility for the Capitol riot,” Axios reports.

“Swalwell’s attorneys claim in a court filing that Brooks is avoiding being served the suit, with their calls and emails going unanswered.”

“A federal judge on Wednesday rebuffed South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s (R) efforts to force the National Park Service to grant the state permission to shoot fireworks from Mount Rushmore National Memorial to celebrate Independence Day this year,” the Associated Press reports.

“Noem sued the U.S. Department of Interior in an effort to reverse the decision to deny the state’s permit for the pyrotechnic display. The Republican governor successfully pushed last year for a return of the event after a decade-long hiatus. But the National Park Service denied it this year, citing safety concerns and objections from local Native American tribes.”

Perry Bacon Jr.: “Take a step back, and it becomes clear that our core divides are fairly simple.”

“I think most of today’s political fights are really about two underlying questions: Will power — cultural, economic, social and political in particular — be taken away from the kinds of people (wealthy, White, Christian, male) who have traditionally dominated most of American life? And, if so, how much and how quickly?”

New York Times: “In offering most Americans two more rounds of stimulus checks in the past six months, totaling $2,000 a person, the federal government effectively conducted a huge experiment in safety net policy.”

“A new analysis of Census Bureau surveys argues that the two latest rounds of aid significantly improved Americans’ ability to buy food and pay household bills and reduced anxiety and depression, with the largest benefits going to the poorest households and those with children.”

New York Times: “Workers in retail, hospitality and other service industries bore the brunt of last year’s mass layoffs. But unlike low-wage workers in past recessions, whose earnings power eroded, many of those who held on to their jobs saw their wages rise even during the worst months of the pandemic.”

“Now, as the economy bounces back and employers need to find staff, workers have the kind of leverage that is more typical of a prolonged boom than the aftermath of a devastating recession.”

“Households in wealthy countries have amassed an unprecedented pile of savings to spend as parts of the global economy thaw after a year in suspended animation,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“But it isn’t clear whether consumers will seize that opportunity with enthusiasm. If they hold back, the recovery will be less rapid than it could be.”

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of the murder of George Floyd, has requested a judge reduce his sentence to time served or probation, the Daily Beast reports.

Chauvin’s lawyers emphasized Chauvin’s “hard-working, law abiding life” and attempted to minimize his killing of Floyd, calling it “an error made in good faith reliance his own experience as a police officer.”

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

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