Cup of Joe – 7/31/21

“The Justice Department on Friday said the Treasury Department must turn over former President Trump’s long-sought tax returns to the Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee,” The Hill reports.

From the memo: “The statute at issue here is unambiguous: ‘Upon written request’ of the chairman of one of the three congressional tax committees, the Secretary ‘shall furnish’ the requested tax information to the Committee.”

This is a really big deal. Expect Trump to try to block it in the courts.

In private discussions, former President Donald Trump has told people close to him that some of the Police officers speaking out about the Capitol attack strike him as weak and as “pussies,” the Daily Beast reports.

The House Oversight Committee released handwritten notes by former Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue of a call with former Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and Donald Trump on Dec. 27, 2020 in which he sought their help in trying to overturn the results of the presidential election.

Trump asked them to “just say that the election was corrupt” and “leave the rest to me and the Republican Congressmen.”

Best line: “You guys may not be following the internet the way I do.”

New York Times: “The demands were an extraordinary instance of a president interfering with an agency that is typically more independent from the White House to advance his personal agenda. They are also the latest example of Mr. Trump’s wide-ranging campaign during his final weeks in office to delegitimize the election results.”

“President Donald Trump called his acting attorney general nearly every day at the end of last year to alert him to claims of voter fraud or alleged improper vote counts in the 2020 election,” the Washington Post reports.

“The personal pressure campaign, which has not been previously reported, involved repeated phone calls to acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen in which Trump raised various allegations he had heard about and asked what the Justice Department was doing about the issue.”

“President Biden’s success at propelling an infrastructure deal past its first major hurdle this week was a vindication of his faith in bipartisanship and a repudiation of the slash-and-burn politics of his immediate predecessor, President Donald Trump, who tried and failed to block it,” the New York Times reports.

“Having campaigned as the anti-Trump — an insider who regarded compromise as a virtue, rather than a missed opportunity to crush a rival — Mr. Biden has held up the promise of a broad infrastructure accord not just as a policy priority but as a test of the fundamental rationale for his presidency.”

Washington Post: “If Schumer can pull it off in the coming weeks, it would rank among the most significant feats of lawmaking in recent American history.”

Republicans are accusing Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of trying to substitute his own version of the bipartisan infrastructure agreement as the base text of the bill that differs from the actual deal, CNN reports.

Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR), chairman of House Transportation and Infrastructure, trashed Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill in a CNN interview and said it needs to be “substantially changed.”

Said DeFazio: “This was written by three people who have no knowledge of or expertise in transportation infrastructure.”

He was referring to Sean. Rob Portman (R-OH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Susan Collins (R-ME).

Wall Street Journal: “For President Biden and the group of senators who negotiated it, the roughly $1 trillion infrastructure agreement vindicates a long-held belief: With enough time, effort and expertise, bipartisanship on a major issue is still possible in a rancorously divided Washington.”

“But the agreement—which cleared an initial procedural step in the Senate with broad bipartisan support on Wednesday and faces several more hurdles before it can become law—also took place in a context that may be difficult to replicate in coming legislative efforts.”

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) criticized the “inconsistency” of Republicans who were all-in for President Donald Trump’s infrastructure ideas but aren’t supporting the $550 billion bipartisan deal reached this week, Bloomberg reports.

Said Cassidy: “President Donald Trump recommended a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package. Republicans were all on board. If Republicans were on board for former President Trump, we are one-third the cost and have it paid for, it seems like something that should be acceptable.”

An internal CDC document says “the delta variant of the coronavirus appears to cause more severe illness than earlier variants and spreads as easily as chickenpox,” the Washington Post reports.

“The document strikes an urgent note, revealing the agency knows it must revamp its public messaging to emphasize vaccination as the best defense against a variant so contagious that it acts almost like a different novel virus, leaping from target to target more swiftly than Ebola or the common cold.”

“A sobering scientific analysis published Friday of an explosive Massachusetts covid-19 outbreak fueled by the delta variant found that three-quarters of the people who became infected were fully vaccinated,” the Washington Post reports.

“The report, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bolstered the hypothesis that vaccinated people can spread the more transmissible variant and may be a factor in the summer surge of infections.”

New York Times: “The recommendation that vaccinated people in some parts of the country dust off their masks was based largely on one troublesome finding, according to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

“New research showed that vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant carry tremendous amounts of the virus in the nose and throat.”

“The finding contradicts what scientists had observed in vaccinated people infected with previous versions of the virus, who mostly seemed incapable of infecting others.”

New York Times: “The vaccines remain powerfully effective against severe illness and death, and infections in vaccinated people are thought to be comparatively rare.”

Philip Bump pulls out the key numbers from the new CDC assessment on the Delta variant.

The Associated Press quotes Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell:  “What we’ve seen is with successive waves of COVID over the past year and some months now, there has tended to be less in the way of economic implications from each wave. We will see whether that is the case with the delta variety, but it’s certainly not an unreasonable expectation.’”

“We are in a public health emergency, and for that reason, I am reinstating the statewide public health emergency as of today. There will be no statewide mask mandate imposed by me. There’s no discussion about restrictions on business mandates on businesses. We are wide open in Arkansas. We’re going to be doing business in Arkansas… We have to live with the threat of the virus.”  — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), quoted by the Daily Beast.

AFP: “The World Health Organization warned the highly transmissible strain of the virus, first detected in India, could unleash a ‘fourth wave’ of cases in its Eastern Mediterranean zone — an area stretching from Morocco to Pakistan.”

“Those countries are especially at risk because vaccination rates are low — only 5.5 percent of the region’s population has been fully vaccinated. So in nations where vaccines are more available, public officials are sounding the alarm.”

“A coronavirus variant discovered in Colombia is showing up among patients in South Florida, increasing infections and putting health officials on alert as calls grow louder for unvaccinated individuals to get inoculated,” the Washington Post reports.

“This is so infectious that you will get it.”  — Former Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Brett Giroir, quoted by the New York Post, on the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Vox: “These sorts of mandates will undoubtedly trigger lawsuits from vaccine resisters. In some cases, individuals with religious objections to vaccines or people with disabilities that preclude them from being vaccinated will have strong legal claims — much like schoolchildren who can already seek exemptions from schools’ vaccination requirements if they have religious objections.”

“But, assuming that the courts follow existing law — and assuming that Republican state governments do not enact new laws prohibiting employers from disciplining workers who refuse to be vaccinated — most challenges to employer-imposed vaccination requirements should fail.”

Washington Post: Here’s how countries around the world have approached vaccine mandates.

“The European Union passed the U.S. in Covid-19 vaccinations, with the continent inoculating people at a sustained pace and America struggling to persuade vaccine holdouts to get a shot to slow the spread of the Delta variant,l the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Nearly 40 maskless House Republican lawmakers walked across the Capitol and onto the Senate floor in protest of the Capitol physician’s decision to reinstate a mask mandate in the lower chamber but not in the upper chamber,” The Hill reports.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said on Tuesday afternoon: “The vaccination rate for the members of Congress is over 85%.”

With every Congressional Democrat vaccinated, and nearly every Senate Republican vaccinated, that would leave around 80 GOP House members that aren’t vaccinated.

Playbook: “When Chuck Schumer announced earlier this month that he might keep the Senate in session into August — delaying a previously scheduled recess in order to shepherd the two gigantic bills through the chamber — Sinema told the majority leader that she was not sticking around to vote.”

“She had prior vacation plans, she said, and wasn’t about to let the infrastructure or reconciliation bills get in the way.”

Washington Post: “As a federal ban on evictions expires Saturday, a $46.5 billion emergency fund aimed at getting rent to tenants at risk of eviction remains largely unspent.”

“Only nine states and D.C. have some kind of emergency protections for tenants that will last into August.”

“House Democratic leaders failed to round up enough votes on Friday to pass legislation extending the federal ban on evictions just two days before it is set to expire,” The Hill reports.

“Two Democratic lawmakers said that a possible House floor vote on Friday was ultimately scrapped after leadership struggled all day to round up enough support.”

Wall Street Journal: “Some of the biggest names in tech aren’t just allowing existing workers to relocate out of the Bay Area, they are also starting to hire in places they hadn’t often recruited from before. The result is the most geographically distributed tech labor market to date. That’s leading to above-market rates for workers in smaller hubs, forcing local companies to raise wages to keep up with the cost of living and fend off deeper-pocketed rivals from California, Seattle and New York.”

“The winners of the pandemic are turning out to be the workers themselves and the companies in coastal hubs who can pay less than a San Francisco salary but more than a local one.”

CNN reports that 228 Republican members of Congress — 184 House members and 44 senators — told the Supreme Court that it should overturn Roe v. Wade and release its “vise grip on abortion politics.”

“A Virginia police officer who was fired after storming the US Capitol was jailed Wednesday by a federal judge because he ordered a large stockpile of guns and ammunition after his January arrest, and posted online in support of future political violence,” CNN reports.

Thomas Robertson “was released in January but re-arrested last month after investigators said they found a rifle and bomb-making material in his home, and also learned that he recently bought another 37 guns on the Internet.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) nervously tried to dodge a question about when he talked to President Donald Trump on January 6 — something he already grudgingly admitted.

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) told Slate he had been wearing body armor at the “Save America” rally before the Capitol attack on January 6, where he gave a speech in which he encouraged rally attendees to “start taking down names and kicking ass.”

Said Brooks: “I was warned on Monday that there might be risks associated with the next few days. And as a consequence of those warnings, I did not go to my condo. Instead, I slept on the floor of my office. And when I gave my speech at the Ellipse, I was wearing body armor.”

He added: “That’s why I was wearing that nice little windbreaker. To cover up the body armor.”

The conservative House Freedom Caucus is calling for the removal of Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) from the Republican caucus, an effort to punish the pair for joining the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, NBC News reports.

CNN: “The night and day contrast between the current and former conference chairs — who were both dubbed rising GOP stars early on in their congressional careers — perfectly encapsulates the bitter rift in today’s Republican party, where lawmakers are still duking it out over the direction of the post-Trump GOP.”

As Stefanik told Fox News’ Sean Hannity this week: “Cheney is a Pelosi Republican, a Pelosi pawn at this point. She does not represent the Republican Conference, or Republican voters, or the American people.”

When presented with Stefanik’s comments from the press conference earlier this week, Cheney told CNN’s Jake Tapper: “If I were saying the things that you just played, I’d be deeply ashamed of myself.”

Former President Trump is ramping up his pressure campaign over a bipartisan infrastructure package, accusing Senate Republicans of “caving” to Democrats on the deal, The Hill reports.

Said Trump: “Once they pass this bill out of the Senate, it will sit in the House until they get steamrolled by the biggest government expansion in a generation. Tax increases on everyone, government run health care, more government run schools, amnesty for illegal immigrants, MASKS, and many more terrible socialist programs.”

He added: “Nancy Pelosi has said NO INFRASTRUCTURE until they get everything else.”

NBC News: “McConnell’s incentives are more complicated than the ‘Dr. No’ image he has cultivated over a decade and a half as the Senate Republican leader, according to senators and aides familiar with his thinking, as well as Democratic antagonists. By acquiescing to a deal, he can reward Republican allies, head off Democratic efforts to end the filibuster and even score some popular goodies for his state.”

Ryan Cooper: “The brute reality is that about half the people in the country do not work, because they are children, students, retired, disabled, and so on.”

“Nations with the lowest poverty in the world, like Iceland and Denmark, have gotten there through the Magic Money Trick: handing out money to nonworkers to cure their shortage of money.”

“The Biden administration is now crowing about this achievement on poverty, for obvious reasons.”

David Hopkins: “The main conduits through which Trump exerts control over other Republicans are the conservative media outlets with which he has maintained a close alliance ever since his 2016 nomination. Trump is much more effective at imposing his preferences on the party when the Republican electorate is made aware of those preferences by the informational sources they trust the most.”

“When Trump was president, and before he was banned from social media, we often heard about how he had uniquely harnessed the power of Twitter. But it wasn’t his tweets themselves that were especially powerful (only a small slice of the American public would have seen any of them directly), it was his tweets as amplified by other media platforms with much larger popular audiences. Republican members of Congress enjoyed much more political leeway to reject or ignore President Trump’s policy proposals than they did to explicitly disapprove of his personal behavior, because substantive differences with Trump did not usually receive much attention from the media—including the conservative media—while personal differences could turn into headline news.”

Politico: “It’s a far cry from the calls to ‘defund the police’ that took center stage in these cities just last summer. But the sobering reality of rising gun violence and flagrant theft is changing the conversation, pushing candidates to get tougher on crime in Democratic-leaning cities.”

“The chief executive of MyPillow Inc., one of Fox News’s big advertisers, said he is pulling his ads from the network after a disagreement over a proposed commercial,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Mike Lindell said he made the decision after Fox News declined to run a commercial linked to his efforts to promote his claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Security and election officials have said there is no proof of widespread election fraud.”

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

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