“Most Federal Reserve officials signaled Wednesday they were prepared to raise their short-term benchmark rate at least three times next year to cool high inflation,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“As expected, officials also approved plans to more quickly scale back its pandemic stimulus efforts in response to hotter inflation, opening the door to rate increases starting next spring.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is now likely to delay a vote on the Build Back Better bill until next year and will instead seek to take action on voting rights legislation before Christmas, NBC News reports.
Politico reports that Schumer met with Sens. Joe Manchin, Tim Kaine, Angus King and Jon Tester this morning to discuss possible rules changes needed to pass an elections reform bill.
“Senate Democrats are escalating pressure on Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to get behind using the ‘nuclear option’ to change the filibuster and break a months-long stalemate on voting rights legislation,” The Hill reports.
“The flurry of talks — including dedicating a closed-door caucus lunch to the issue despite a public hyper-focus on passing President Biden’s climate and social spending bill — comes as Democrats are facing intense pressure to pass election legislation though there isn’t yet a clear path forward.”
Punchbowl News: “Despite heavy lobbying by Schumer and President Joe Biden, it doesn’t appear that Senate Democrats are that close to getting the Build Back Better Act done by Christmas. Sen. Joe Manchin hasn’t committed to voting for the $1.7 trillion package, or even beginning debate on it. Some of the Senate panels have yet to meet with the parliamentarian’s office to begin vetting their committee titles to make sure they’re in compliance with the Byrd Rule, which controls consideration of reconciliation bills. And Democrats don’t have consensus on the state and local tax deduction (SALT), a major issue for blue state Democrats like Schumer, who is also up for reelection this cycle.”
“Schumer will face a choice in the next few days. Does he keep the Senate in session, grinding through nominations on the floor — which needs to be done in the face of continued opposition from some Republicans — while pressing for a BBB deal behind-the-scenes? Or does he acknowledge that BBB isn’t happening right now, send his colleagues home for Christmas and come back Jan. 3 to try again?”
“President Biden and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) are locked in a disagreement over how long programs in the Build Back Better agenda should be funded,” Axios reports. “The impasse all but guarantees the Senate will delay a vote on the $1.75 trillion spending package until next year. It’s also an indication Biden is willing to hold out for a bigger deal, as opposed to a faster one.”
“Negotiations between President Joe Biden and Sen. Joe Manchin over the Democrats’ huge social and environment bill are going poorly, the latest sign that leaders’ hopes of moving the bill through the Senate before Christmas were increasingly bleak,” the AP reports.
Washington Post: “The gaps between the two sides remain immense, with Biden seeking to safeguard his economic agenda from significant cuts while Manchin continues to insist on steep spending reductions.”
“I hope so. It’s going to be close.” — President Biden, quoted by The Hill, on whether his Build Back Better bill will pass before the end of the year.
“The House on Tuesday voted to hold former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in criminal contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena issued by the bipartisan committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob,” the Washington Post reports.
“The resolution was approved on a 222-to-208 vote, with just two Republicans — Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger — joining Democrats in voting ‘yes.’”
“The matter now goes to the Justice Department, which will decide whether to pursue the contempt referral.”
Before the House voted to pass the Jan. 6 committee’s referral for criminal contempt charges against Meadows to the Justice Department yesterday, the panel presented additional bombshell texts the ex-White House official had received. One came from an unidentified lawmaker on Nov. 4–before the election was even called–proposing an “AGGRESSIVE STRATEGY” for GOP-controlled state legislatures to throw out Biden electors.
That evil traitorous Congressman was Jim Jordan.
David Corn notes that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows left out some key details in his new memoir — now that we’ve seen some of the text messages he received as the January 6 insurrection unfolded.
“What a dramatic afternoon. Meadows was being besieged by lawmakers, fellow Trump officials, the stars of Fox News, and the president’s eldest son. Why would he leave all this out of his book? It’s gripping. It’s suspenseful. And why not reveal to his readers how he reacted to these pleas and what he did—or didn’t do—in response?”
Jonathan Bernstein: “Meadows may or may not wind up being convicted, but he’ll probably join Steve Bannon in being indicted. Depending on how we count them, there have been about 34 White House chiefs of staff, and I think Meadows would be only the second to be indicted after H.R. Haldeman, who served 18 months in prison for crimes committed during the Watergate scandal.”
“To be sure: As crimes go, refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena isn’t all that big a deal. But we already know that Meadows was involved in former President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn an election, and it’s quite possible that his legal jeopardy extends beyond the contempt situation.”
“All of my colleagues, all of them knew that what happened on January 6th was an assault on the constitution. They knew it at the time yet now they are defending the indefensible… How we address January 6th is moral test of our generation.”— Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), on the House floor.
“Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the onetime Republican leader ousted from her post and pushed to the sidelines by her own party for bluntly condemning former President Donald J. Trump’s false election claims, has re-emerged as a force on Capitol Hill — this time as one of the most active and aggressive members of the special committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack,” the New York Times reports.
“Ms. Cheney’s no-holds-barred style grabbed the spotlight this week as the committee led the charge to hold Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff, in contempt for his refusal to cooperate with the panel’s investigation.”
Walter Shapiro: “All that we need to save American democracy are more Republicans with the brass and sass of Liz Cheney. Democracy cannot survive if it is supported by only one political party. But there is still time (albeit not much) for prominent Republicans to break their silence and work to safeguard the 2024 elections.”
“Writing regularly about torture during the Iraq War, I never imagined that I could ever lionize a Cheney. But there are moments to remember that the single thing we share — a fervent belief in American democracy — is more important than all the differences between us.”
Politifact says it’s the lies about the January 6 Capitol attack were the lies of the year. No shit.
Two Texas men accused of fighting with police at the U.S. Capitol building during the January riot and siege have been charged in federal court, the Dallas Morning News reports.
Insider: Capitol riot suspect identified and arrested after he was seen wearing same clothing he wore during insurrection.
National Review: “The riot at the Capitol happened because President Donald Trump simply lied, and lied, and lied.”
“Treating Trump like a baby whose feelings had to be coddled at the end resulted in Ashlie Babbit’s getting shot as she tried to break into Congress against a lawful order to desist. He could no more Stop the Steal than make Mexico pay for the wall. But, pay for his actions? Some people did.”
It’s been exactly one year since Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell last spoke to each other.
“We are all watching what is unfolding on the House side… and it will be interesting to reveal all of the participants that were involved.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), speaking to reporters, on the House move to hold Mark Meadows in criminal contempt.
Of course, McConnell previously tried to scuttle the investigation.
“The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 topped 800,000 on Tuesday, a once-unimaginable figure seen as doubly tragic, given that more than 200,000 of those lives were lost after the vaccine became available practically for the asking last spring,” the AP reports.
A new study finds that all three U.S.-authorized Covid-19 vaccines “appear to be significantly less protective against the newly-detected Omicron variant of the coronavirus in laboratory testing, but a booster dose likely restores most of the protection,” Reuters reports.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said that there is “no need for a variant-specific booster” at this time because research shows that the current U.S. booster vaccine programs are effective against Omicron, Axios reports.
Said Fauci: “If you are unvaccinated, get vaccinated, and particularly in the arena of Omicron, if you are fully vaccinated, get your booster shot.”
Science: “Omicron has now been found in more than 70 countries and is rapidly gaining ground. As Science went to press, for example, Danish scientists estimated Omicron was just days away from replacing Delta as the most common variant.”
Said researcher Troels Lillebæk: “What we see is an extraordinary, rapid spread.”
“Despite very high vaccination rates, the country of 5 million is now seeing more than 6000 cases a day, roughly twice the number seen during the highest previous peak… Neighboring Norway, which has about the same population, is now projecting more than 100,000 cases a day in a matter of weeks, unless people drastically reduce social contacts.”
“Health officials are stressing the importance of coronavirus vaccine booster shots as the Omicron variant spreads around the world, but millions of Americans aren’t yet eligible for another dose,” Axios reports.
“Anyone 16 and older who got their second Pfizer or Moderna shot at least six months ago is eligible for a booster shot in the U.S… But 58 million Americans received their second shots within the last six months.”
“Children aged 5–11 just became eligible for vaccines last month, meaning none of them are yet eligible for a third shot.”
Vanity Fair: “Finally, there’s the question of why Don Jr. was trying to communicate with this father through Meadows. Yes, Trump was the leader of the free world at the time, but surely most presidents inform their staff that calls from their children should be put through, particularly if they’re important. Did Junior initially try to contact his dad directly, only to find himself screened? Did he realize from the get-go that Trump—who’s never appeared particularly fond of his namesake—wouldn’t listen to him and then decide to try Meadows as a back channel? After all this, will Trump change his phone number and forget to give it to his son?”
“Don Jr. has been uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter for the last two days, but perhaps he’ll fill us in soon.”
“President Joe Biden will soon announce his latest wave of nine judicial nominees, capping a year where the selections — and an effort to establish an imprint on the federal courts — served as a focal point for his administration,” CNN reports.
“Biden plans to announce his intent Wednesday to nominate nine district court nominees, bringing the administration’s total for the year to 73 — one more than former President Donald Trump nominated in his first year in office.”
“Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) is threatening to keep the Senate in session and voting over the weekend and into the week of Christmas to break a Republican blockade of President Biden’s nominees,” The Hill reports.
Interestingly, a copy of the Senate’s schedule for 2022 leaked and they’ll be back to work on January 3 — which is earlier than expected.
CNN: “The release of almost 1,500 documents [concerning President Kennedy’s assasination] still leaves more than 10,000 either partially redacted or withheld entirely. It is expected to prolong the bitter debate between the federal government and JFK researchers, who have argued that the CIA, the FBI and other national security agencies have continually stonewalled a congressionally mandated release.”
Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) “was ordered to turn over roughly $5.1 million in proceeds from his 2020 pandemic memoir within 30 days, after a state ethics board found that he had run afoul of state ethics laws,” the New York Times reports.
“The order, which is sure to set up a protracted legal fight, could be complicated by the fact that Mr. Cuomo already donated $500,000 of the book’s proceeds to charity, and placed another $1 million in a trust for his daughters.”
New York Times: “Members of the Proud Boys, the far-right nationalist group, have increasingly appeared in recent months at town council gatherings, school board presentations and health department question-and-answer sessions across the country. Their presence at the events is part of a strategy shift by the militia organization toward a larger goal: to bring their brand of menacing politics to the local level.”
“For years, the group was known for its national profile. The Proud Boys were prominent at the rallies of Donald Trump, at one point offering to serve as the former president’s private militia. On Jan. 6, some Proud Boys members filmed themselves storming the U.S. Capitol to protest what they falsely said was an election that had been stolen from Mr. Trump.”
“But since federal authorities have cracked down on the group for the Jan. 6 attack, including arresting more than a dozen of its members, the organization has been more muted. Or at least that was how it appeared.”
“A longtime accountant for former president Donald Trump — who helped prepare Trump’s taxes and the financial statements his company used to woo lenders — testified recently before a New York grand jury investigating Trump’s financial practices,” the Washington Post reports.
“Accountant Donald Bender, of the firm Mazars, appeared before a grand jury that was impaneled this fall by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (D) to weigh potential criminal charges.”
“As prosecutors in Manhattan weigh whether to charge Donald Trump with fraud, they have zeroed in on financial documents that he used to obtain loans and boast about his wealth,” the New York Times reports.
“The documents, compiled by Mr. Trump’s longtime accountants and known as annual statements of financial condition, could help answer a question at the heart of the long-running criminal investigation into the former president: Did he inflate the value of his assets to defraud his lenders?”
“If the prosecutors seek an indictment, the case’s outcome could hinge on whether they can use the documents to prove that a defining feature of Mr. Trump’s public persona — his penchant for hyperbole — was so extreme and intentional when dealing with his lenders that it crossed the line into fraud.”
“Mitch McConnell is facing a frontal assault from emboldened pro-Trump Republicans eager to unseat him as the Senate’s GOP leader,” Axios reports.
“Taking on McConnell risks not only triggering his wrath in the Capitol but making candidate-critics vulnerable to targeting by his ample supply of campaign cash.”
Also interesting: “Tucker Carlson, one of the most influential conservatives in the country, castigated McConnell during his Fox News show last week — and promised to make the minority leader a consistent object of scorn in future segments.”
“A federal judge on Tuesday rejected former president Donald Trump’s long-running effort to block the Treasury Department from turning over his tax records to the House Ways and Means Committee, but put the ruling on hold pending an expected appeal,” the Washington Post reports.
Vanity Fair: Trump’s strategy to keep his tax returns secret.
“Governors from five states have written a joint letter to Lloyd Austin, the defense secretary, asking that their National Guard troops be exempted from a federal coronavirus vaccine mandate, greatly escalating what had been a single state conflict over inoculations,” the New York Times reports.
Playbook: “It took them a while, but Democrats have finally dealt with most of the tricky debt and spending issues that prevented them fully focusing on the Biden legislative agenda.”
“The Senate passed a debt limit increase of $2.5 trillion Tuesday afternoon, and the House followed suit just after midnight. Congress should be freed from addressing the issue again until 2023.”
“A final vote on the long-stalled NDAA is likely in the Senate today. Congress has funded the government through mid-February. It shouldn’t exactly get a big pat on the back for doing the basics, but the three issues were all cleared with some degree of bipartisanship and less brinkmanship and drama than expected.”