Cup of Joe – 4/8/22

“The Senate on Thursday confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, making her the first Black woman to be elevated to the pinnacle of the judicial branch in what her supporters hailed as a needed step toward bringing new diversity and life experience to the court,” the New York Times reports.

“Overcoming a concerted effort by conservative Republicans to derail her nomination, Judge Jackson was confirmed on a 53-47 vote, with three Republicans joining all 50 Democrats in backing her.”

“Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will suddenly find herself with a lot of time on her hands if the Senate fulfills expectations and confirms her to the U.S. Supreme Court this week,” Bloomberg reports.

“The busiest six weeks of Jackson’s life are likely to turn into a three-month wait once she wins approval to occupy a Supreme Court seat that won’t open until late June or early July. Justice Stephen Breyer said in January he will retire when the court’s current term ends.”

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that he won’t commit to hearings for a potential Supreme Court nominee if he’s the Senate Majority Leader leading up to the 2024 election, Axios reports.

Former President Trump denied claims from Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Mo Brooks (R) that he asked the congressman to help remove President Biden from office, Axios reports.  Said Trump: “I didn’t ask him to do it. He’s in no position to do it. I certainly didn’t ask him to do it.”

“Former president Donald Trump voiced regret Wednesday over not marching to the U.S. Capitol the day his supporters stormed the building, and he defended his long silence during the attack by claiming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others were responsible for ending the deadly violence,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Trump: “I thought it was a shame, and I kept asking why isn’t she doing something about it? Why isn’t Nancy Pelosi doing something about it? And the mayor of D.C. also. The mayor of D.C. and Nancy Pelosi are in charge.”

He added: “I hated seeing it. I hated seeing it. And I said, ‘It’s got to be taken care of,’ and I assumed they were taking care of it.”

The Justice Department has begun taking steps to launch an investigation into former president Donald Trump’s improper removal of presidential records to Mar-a-Lago — some of which were labeled “top secret,” the Washington Post reports.

“Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said Thursday that his office’s criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump, his company and its leadership continues, despite the resignation earlier this year of two senior prosecutors,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The team working on the investigation was going through documents, interviewing witnesses and ‘exploring evidence not previously explored.’ He said while the law required secrecy during the investigation, he would tell the public when it had ended.”

Politico: “Ushered through the doors, he’d been met with a standing ovation, head nods and adoring smiles, the type of response he’s come to expect from the crowds that gather at his palatial Mar-a-Lago resort on the Florida coast. They were there, clustered together at white-tablecloth spreads under glittering chandeliers, to debut a movie meant to cast a shadow on the 2020 election results, but also to see Trump himself. Even in a slightly politically weakened state, he remains the axis around which the Republican Party revolves.”

“As he spoke, however, a tension became apparent in the room. Trump and his aides and allies may be living up the moment. Some may have their eyes on the potential of a presidential run in 2024. But on Tuesday night, like many others since Trump left the White House, they remained consumed by what happened in 2020.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told Axios that he’d be obligated to support former President Trump despite the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol if the GOP renominates him for president in 2024.  McConnell had not previously been pressed on the contradiction between his Senate floor comments in February of 2021 saying Trump was “morally responsible” for January 6th, followed two weeks later by saying he’d “absolutely” support Trump as nominee.

“Donald Trump used to bank with the big guns. Now he’s borrowing from Axos Financial, an obscure, internet-only institution based in San Diego and Las Vegas,” NBC News reports.

“In mid-February, Axos refinanced a $100 million Trump Tower mortgage due in September, a New York City Finance Department document shows. The new loan was made just days after The Trump Organization’s auditor resigned, saying that 10 years of the company’s financial statements could not be relied upon.”

“The Jan. 6 select committee is preparing to broach its most consequential decision yet: Whether and when to call Donald Trump for an interview,” Politico reports.  Said Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS): “We’ll be talking about the likelihood of a Trump interview in the not too distant future.”

“Ivanka Trump testified for around eight hours Tuesday to the select House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot that began after her father, former President Donald Trump, spent weeks falsely claiming he was being deprived of a second White House term because of widespread ballot fraud,” CNBC reports.  “Ivanka Trump testified five days after her husband Jared Kushner himself answered questions from the committee for more than six hours.”

Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann is expected to appear Wednesday before the Jan. 6 select committee investigating the Capitol attack, ABC News  reports.

The House voted to hold Peter Navarro, a former trade adviser, and Dan Scavino, a onetime communications aide, in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, the Washington Post reports.

The vote results in criminal referrals to the Justice Department, which will decide whether to prosecute.

“The Senate voted 100-0 on separate bills Thursday stripping Russia of its most-favored-nation trade status and approving a ban on Russian oil imports to punish Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine, several weeks after the House cleared both pieces of legislation,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Washington Post: “The direct impact of the bills on the course of the conflict is likely to be negligible. They largely reinforce moves that President Biden has already made to ban energy imports and remove trade preferences from Russia. But they represent a significant gesture signaling ongoing bipartisan interest in supporting Ukraine’s quest to maintain its independence amid deadly aggression from its larger neighbor.”

“As Russian troops retreat from northern Ukraine and focus operations on the country’s east and south, the Kremlin is struggling to scrape together enough combat-ready reinforcements to conduct a new phase of the war,” the New York Times reports.

“Moscow initially sent 75 percent of its main ground combat forces into the war in February, Pentagon officials said. But much of that army of more than 150,000 troops is now a spent force, after suffering logistics problems, flagging morale and devastating casualties inflicted by stiffer-than-expected Ukrainian resistance.”

“Russian soldiers advancing on Kyiv brought parade uniforms with them, seeming to expect a victory in less than two days,” Insider reports.  “The official said the soldiers left them behind when withdrawing from the Kyiv area, after weeks of trying without success to take the Ukrainian capital.”

“Russian forces in Ukraine appear to be using a new type of weapon as they step up attacks on civilian targets: an advanced land mine equipped with sensors that can detect when people walk nearby,” the New York Times reports.

German intelligence intercepted radio traffic from the Russian military regarding the murder of civilians in Bucha, which were apparently part of the plan, Der Spiegel reports.  The intercepted comments appear to completely refute Russia’s denials over the atrocities.

The Atlantic: “As many prominent policy makers reckon uncomfortably with persistent inflation after months of forecasting that the phenomenon would be transitory, I’ve started making a list of other pandemic predictions about the economy that never materialized. There was the eviction tsunami and the ‘she-cession’ and the housing-market crash, and you can’t forget the state- and local-government deficit explosion. In each case, expectations set by economists, policy makers, advocates, and businesses have not borne out.”

The labor market tightened further last week, with initial jobless claims calling to 166,000 — their lowest level in more than 53 years, CNBC reports.

“Federal Reserve officials last month strongly considered raising rates by a half-percentage point and neared agreement on a plan to reduce their bondholdings as part of their most aggressive effort in years to curb price pressures,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday but “is currently asymptomatic.”  Pelosi attended an event with President Biden at the White House yesterday.

The Justice Department and the Commerce Department announced on Wednesday that Attorney General Merrick Garland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the day.

“Scores of reporters and elected officials have revealed — privately and publicly — in recent days that they have Covid. It’s touched Congress, the White House and major newsrooms. It’s impacted going-away parties and insider gatherings. It’s cast a shadow over the functions of President Joe Biden as well, though the White House says he remains virus-free and has not yet had what is deemed to be a close contact,” Politico report.

“The origins of the wave are unclear. But signs point to a few events that have likely contributed to the spread.”

Congress may punt on a $10 billion Covid preparedness funding package until the end of this month due to a fight over immigration policy, Axios reports.

“A top federal health official outlined a tight time frame on Wednesday if the Biden administration hopes to have new coronavirus vaccines by the fall that better meet the threat of a fast-evolving virus, saying clinical trials would have to be underway by next month in order to produce the shots,” the New York Times reports.

“European regulators concluded on Wednesday that it is “too early” to administer second booster shots of a coronavirus vaccine to the general population in the European Union, but added that the extra doses could be given to adults aged 80 and older,” the New York Times reports.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) “unveiled a stunning plan that sent a shockwave through the immigration rights community,” the Texas Tribune reports.

“Texas would place state troopers in riot gear to meet migrants at the border and bus them straight to the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. where the Biden administration ‘will be able to more immediately address the needs of the people that they are allowing to come across our border.’”

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed a bill that will reduce the state income tax over four years — the state’s largest-ever tax cut, the AP reports.  One of the poorest states in the nation, Mississippi has struggling rural hospitals and perpetually underfunded schools.

The Alabama Senate passed its own version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law Thursday after a surprise amendment to a transgender bathroom bill, reports.

Tennessee Republicans are pushing a bill that protests same-sex marriage by establishing a new “special” hetero-only common law marriage in the state. But oopsie!, they failed to include any kind of age restriction for the new special martial status.

Lawmakers on Wednesday amended the bill to include age limits. A new law that invites child brides would have come at an awkward time for a party that’s trying to resurrect homophobic tropes to vilify LGBTQ+ people as “groomers.”

With that minor hiccup dealt with, let’s take a look at what the legislation’s supposed to do: Oh, it’s a homophobic and very weird bill that would invent a new type of marital contract that can only legally be established “between one man and woman,” a special kind of state-approved marriage that The Gays can’t touch.

The House approved a call on Wednesday for an investigation into war crimes allegedly being committed by Russian forces in Ukraine after the Senate passed a similar bill last month.

Only six House lawmakers (all Republicans) voted against the measure: Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Warren Davidson (R-OH) and Scott Perry (R-PA).

“Five Democratic and six Republican senators will introduce a new bill on Thursday that would prevent the Biden administration from lifting Title 42 without a detailed plan in place to stop an expected surge of migrants at the border,” Axios reports.

“The administration’s plans to end the Trump-era Covid-19 immigration ban by May 23 were immediately met with scathing criticism from lawmakers in both parties. They fear the announcement will trigger a mass migration event.”

“Vulnerable Democrats also worry it will create a political firestorm, and provide Republicans with fresh ammunition just months before the midterms.”

“Federal prosecutors on Wednesday charged two men they say were posing as federal agents, giving free apartments and other gifts to U.S. Secret Service agents, including one who worked on the first lady’s security detail,” the AP reports.

Josh Marshall: “Very, very, very weird story. A raid was conducted on two men in Washington, DC this evening. The two impersonated federal law enforcement officers and gave gifts and other enticements to ingratiate themselves with members of the Secret Service, one of whom was on the First Lady’s protective deal. But to what end? What’s especially weird about the first AP story here is that it doesn’t address what these two men were trying to accomplish. Here’s a thread with photos of the raid. Let’s keep an eye on this story.”

“The United States said that it had secretly removed malware from computer networks around the world in recent weeks, a step to pre-empt Russian cyberattacks and send a message to President Vladimir Putin,” the New York Times reports.

“The move, made public by Attorney General Merrick Garland, comes as U.S. officials warn that Russia could try to strike American critical infrastructure — including financial firms, pipelines and the electric grid — in response to the crushing sanctions that the United States has imposed on Moscow over the war in Ukraine.”

“The malware enabled the Russians to create ‘botnets’ — networks of private computers that are infected with malicious software and controlled by the G.R.U., the intelligence arm of the Russian military.”

Tim Naftali: “A major presidential scandal isn’t complete without missing evidence, though Donald Trump seems to have been the first president to swallow his own words, literally. The former president had a habit of tearing drafts and signed documents into small pieces to be thrown away—or flushing them down a toilet. And there have even been reports that, on occasion, he consumed them.”

“Now a seven-hour gap has appeared in Trump’s official daily White House diary, part of the documentation that the congressional January 6 committee requested for its investigation into all aspects of the country’s 2021 insurrection. The diary has no evidence of Trump making the calls that others have admitted receiving from him during the height of the violence in the Capitol. Nor does it document any meetings during that time, when the president was thought to be under pressure from aides to calm the situation on the Hill.”

“The comparisons to Richard Nixon were immediate and inevitable—but they missed a key difference: What happened in those seven hours should ultimately be knowable, at least at some level.”

A federal defense contractor who admitted to entering the Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection was found not guilty on Wednesday, NBC News reports.

BuzzFeed News: “The verdict represented an early test of efforts by some Jan. 6 defendants to argue that police allowed them to enter the Capitol, or that they believed they had permission because no officer told them to stop. It’s the third trial related to Jan. 6 to finish since the insurrection.”

New York Times: “As the coronavirus races through Shanghai, in the city’s worst outbreak since the pandemic began, the authorities have deployed their usual hard-nosed playbook to try and stamp out transmission, no matter the cost. What has been different is the response: an outpouring of public dissatisfaction rarely seen in China since the chaotic early days of the pandemic, in Wuhan.”

“The crisis in Shanghai is shaping up to be more than just a public health challenge. It is also a political test of the zero tolerance approach at large, on which the Communist Party has staked its legitimacy.”

“It’s not every day that a House minority calls its investigative shots months before a likely takeover of power. Then again, Hunter Biden is no ordinary oversight target,” Politico reports.

“Top House Republicans are vowing to dig into the overseas business dealings of the president’s son if they claim the majority next year, as is expected — picking a battle with the Justice Department and Democratic lawmakers centered around some of the same themes that defined the Trump administration’s tempestuous relationship with Congress.”

While conservative heat has for three years focused on the past business activities of President Biden’s son Hunter, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told CBS News this week that newly obtained banking records raise similar concerns about first brother James Biden.  Said Grassley: “We have people with the Biden name, dealing with Chinese business people that have a relationship to the Communist Party. I think James Biden was very much a part of this.”

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

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