Cup of Joe – 6/15/22

Nearly half a century ago, Sen. Howard Baker (R-KS), the top Republican on the Senate Watergate Committee, famously asked Nixon White House counsel John Dean: “What did the president know and when did he know it?”  Baker was asking about the break in at the Democratic headquarters at the Watergate building — and the subsequent coverup by White House aides.  On Monday, the January 6th Committee asked the same question about Donald Trump in relation to his claims of fraud in the 2020 election.

If the testimony of his inner circle is to be believed — everyone from Attorney General Bill Barr to campaign manager Bill Stepien to daughter Ivanka Trump — Trump knew everything he was saying was a lie. His claims of election fraud were “utter nonsense,” as Barr testified.  Trump knew this to be true as early as Election Night. It was only reinforced in the days following.  But the truth never stopped him.

Unfortunately, this is no longer about one man being “detached from reality,” as Barr speculated about Trump.  The machinery of the Republican party is now dedicated to perpetuating this lie.  Worse, they know it’s a lie.   As Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said at the first January 6 Committee hearing last week: “I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible — there will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) said that today’s January 6 Committee hearing will be postponed due to “technical issues,” Punchbowl News reports.  The next hearing will be on Thursday.

William Saletan: “On Monday, the House January 6th Committee presented evidence that Donald Trump, after losing the 2020 election, promoted allegations of voter fraud that his own advisers had told him were false. According to the committee, this evidence proves he was lying.”

“But the evidence actually points to a different conclusion: Trump wasn’t lying in the way that other presidents have done. He was simply impervious. He refused to accept unwelcome facts. And that degree of imperviousness, in a president, is much more dangerous than dishonesty.”

House Jan. 6 Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) told reporters on Monday that the committee won’t be making criminal referrals against Trump or his other cronies to the Justice Department because “that’s not our job”–but that was apparently news to the other committee members. The panel “has not issued a conclusion regarding potential criminal referrals,” vice chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) tweeted on Monday night.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) told CNN that he and his fellow panel members “haven’t had a discussion about that” and that he thought the committee was waiting until after the investigation was over to make a final decision.

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) tweeted that it is, in fact, the committee’s “responsibility” to report any criminal activity it finds in the investigation, and that it has yet to vote on the issue.

A committee spokesperson walked back Thompson’s comment later Monday, saying that the panel will, “if warranted,” make criminal referrals.

“Three days before Congress was slated to certify the 2020 presidential election, a little-known Justice Department official named Jeffrey Clark rushed to meet President Donald Trump in the Oval Office to discuss a last-ditch attempt to reverse the results,” the Washington Post reports.

“Clark, an environmental lawyer by trade, had outlined a plan in a letter he wanted to send to the leaders of key states Joe Biden won. It said that the Justice Department had “identified significant concerns” about the vote and that the states should consider sending ‘a separate slate of electors supporting Donald Trump’ for Congress to approve.”

“In fact, Clark’s bosses had warned there was not evidence to overturn the election and had rejected his letter days earlier. Now they learned Clark was about to meet with Trump.”

“Former President Trump on Monday issued a 12-page rebuttal to testimony and evidence presented by a House committee investigating the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, accusing Democrats of seeking to distract from a series of domestic issues facing the country,” The Hill reports.

Said Trump: “Seventeen months after the events of January 6th, Democrats are unable to offer solutions. They are desperate to change the narrative of a failing nation, without even making mention of the havoc and death caused by the Radical Left just months earlier. Make no mistake, they control the government. They own this disaster. They are hoping that these hearings will somehow alter their failing prospects.”

Rudy Giuliani denied he was drunk when he advised the former president to prematurely declare a 2020 re-election victory before results were final, USA Today reports.

Said Giuliani’s attorney, Robert Costello: “Mayor Giuliani denies the allegation. Talk to other people that were there that night and they will corroborate the Mayor. You might be interested to know that the Select Committee staff counsel never inquired about this subject. I wonder why? They never asked whether he had a single drink. No discussion whatsoever.”

Giuliani also appeared on Steve Bannon’s podcast: “It’s the same cast of characters, in Bennie Thompson, shifty Schiff, and you see Swalwell – not on the committee, but in the background; now, the completely hysterical Mary [sic] Cheney, who’s gone off her deep end.”

“I am disgusted and outraged at the out right lie by Jason Miller and Bill Stepien. I was upset that they were not prepared for the massive cheating (as well as other lawyers around the President.) I REFUSED all alcohol that evening. My favorite drink… Diet Pepsi.”  — Rudy Giuliani, responding on Twitter to testimony that he was drunk on Election Night 2020.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) told CNN that Donald Trump and his family were paid from donations to help overturn the election, including $60,000 that Kimberly Guilfoyle was paid to introduce Donald Trump Jr. at the January 6 rally.

Said Lofgren: “It’s a grift… $60,000 for two-and-a-half minutes.”

Max Boot: “I admit to having been skeptical, ahead of time, of the hearings planned by the House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6, 2021. What more is there to be said, I wondered? The evidence of Donald Trump’s guilt in inciting an insurrection was already so obvious that it was hard to imagine that the committee would have much to add. This was not, after all, a situation such as Watergate, where the scandal happened behind closed doors. The entire nation saw Trump’s incendiary remarks and tweets, and the riot that followed, on national television.”

“I am happy to say I was wrong. The committee’s hearings are exceeding expectations, because it is not behaving like a typical congressional committee. There is no grandstanding and no preening. There are no petty partisan squabbles. There is not even the disjointedness that normally occurs when a bunch of politicians are each given five minutes to question each witness. There is only the relentless march of evidence, all of it deeply incriminating to a certain former president who keeps insisting that he was robbed of his rightful election victory.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety is urging state Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) to withhold police body cam footage that recorded law enforcements’ failed response to the Uvalde elementary school shooting, according to Vice.

The department argued in a letter to Paxton’s office that releasing the footage would supposedly enable criminals to “anticipate weakness in law enforcement procedures” and “alter their methods of operation in order to avoid detection and apprehension.”

Except there’s at least one “weakness” in the Uvalde officers’ response to the shooting that’s already been well established at this point: The officers not doing anything to stop the gunman.

Punchbowl News: “We caught up with all of the key players in the gun-control debate yesterday, and there was one constant – they recognize the need to move quickly to pass this legislation. Almost everyone we spoke to wants to have the Senate vote on this legislation before the July 4 recess.”

“Sen. John Cornyn, the lead Republican in this process, said he thinks negotiators can wrap up the text this week and have it ready for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to put on the floor next week.”

“One way Schumer can speed up the process is to file cloture on a House shell bill later this week, which would start the clock on the legislative process in the Senate. In other words, Schumer can take a House-passed bill, gut it and insert the gun-control proposal whenever the text is ready. This would help avoid one cloture vote – cloture on the motion to proceed – since it would be a House vehicle. Schumer has done this before on previous deals before the text was finalized. So if he does it this week again, we wouldn’t be surprised.”

Politico: House Democrats ready to accept Senate Gun deal — if it can stay intact.

“The Federal Reserve’s bid to contain the hottest inflation in decades will end in a recession. That’s the message the bond market is telegraphing,” Bloomberg reports.

“Key sections of the Treasury curve have inverted after Friday’s US inflation shock drove traders to boost bets on the pace of Fed tightening. Two-year yields exceeded 10-year rates for the first time since April on Monday, while five-year yields soared as much as 17 basis points above 30-year rates in the widest inversion in over two decades.”

“The 2022 stock sell-off intensified on Monday with the S&P 500 tumbling to a fresh low for the year and closing in bear market territory as recession fears grew ahead of this week’s key Federal Reserve meeting,” CNBC reports.

Wall Street Journal: “Meanwhile, a rout in cryptocurrencies highlighted investors’ increasing unwillingness to hang on to their most speculative holdings.”

“President Biden, in an Oval Office meeting last week with key members of his Cabinet, indicated he’s leaning toward removing some products from the Trump administration’s China tariffs list,” Axios reports.

“With inflation at a 40-year high of 8.6%, Biden and his top officials are desperate to show action on bringing down prices, even if it makes them appear weak on China.”

“Supporters of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny do not know where he is after the politician was abruptly transferred from the prison where he has been serving out a sentence since February 2021,” Axios reports.

While he would never admit it, Donald Trump knows he has a credibility problem. Consider these three events:

  • In 2017, Trump asked FBI Director James Comey to publicly announce that he was not the subject of a counterintelligence investigation.
  • In 2019, Trump wanted Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to publicly announce the Biden family was under investigation.
  • In 2021, Trump pressured the Justice Department to announce they had uncovered fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

In every case, Trump sought credible third party sources to substantiate his narrative, or as Asha Rangappa notes, to legitimize his propaganda. If successful, Trump could point to a seemingly independent source and claim that “many people are saying” exactly what Trump was saying. The assumption would be that it must be true. Of course, Trump was not successful in the three examples cited above.

That’s what makes the January 6 Committee hearings so devastating to Trump so far. The committee has focused nearly exclusively on videotaped testimony of his own loyalists — his aides, his appointees and his family — to prove Trump knew he lost the election and attempted to overturn the results in order to stay in office. If these people are saying it, then it must be true.

Vice News: “On February 10, over a week before the platform went live, the developers set up Trump’s account. But that account was not the first one set up on the platform. A full 24-hours earlier, the developers running Truth Social set up an account with a single letter in its name: @Q.”

“Now, four months later, the platform is overrun with QAnon content, pushed by multiple QAnon influencers who have been given verified profiles on the platform. And now, Trump himself is boosting the QAnon content, resharing dozens of posts containing QAnon imagery, phrases, or memes.”

“In the 1980s, Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas had a moment of clarity: She realized she had fallen in with a group she considered ‘a cult’ and sought to be ‘deprogrammed’ from it,” NBC News reports.

“Thomas’ involvement with Lifespring, an organization advertising training seminars purporting to help participants unlock almost superhuman potential, left her wondering what it was about herself that allowed her to be drawn in. Her successful deprogramming — considered a controversial tactic — led her to become a vigorous anti-cult crusader.”

“It’s difficult to reconcile Thomas then and now, four people who worked with her at the height of her anti-cult activism through the late 1980s said in interviews. After she spent years trying to expose cults, these people found Thomas’s efforts to promote outlandish plans to overturn the 2020 results, particularly the text messages and emails in which she referenced false election conspiracies that originated in QAnon circles on the internet, surprising. Democrats and Republicans alike have said QAnon supporters exhibit cult-like behavior.”

Ron Brownstein: “With the powerful case it has assembled against former President Donald Trump, the bipartisan House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection may provide the clearest – and potentially most ominous – measure yet available of how completely red and blue America have separated into divergent information bubbles that no longer share even the most rudimentary agreement on the basic facts of American life.”

“President Biden is planning an expansive trip to the Middle East next month, including a controversial meeting with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, a much-debated move that signals a striking relaxation in Biden’s posture toward the Saudis,” the Washington Post reports.

“The trip reflects Biden’s attempt to address some of the thorniest challenges in the region: pressure to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, a need for more oil that could help lower soaring gas prices, efforts to revive peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, and a push to end the war in Yemen.”

“Widespread lockdowns and mass testing returned to China’s major cities over the weekend as both Beijing and Shanghai attempted to curtail the spread of Covid-19 cases in the community after months of lockdown,” the Financial Times reports.

Washington Post: “Throughout [Afghanistan], millions of lives are similarly threatened. Childhood malnutrition is on the rise, and nearly half of all Afghans don’t have enough to eat.”

“Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis has been building for decades, driven not just by persistent poverty and too little rain, but also by generations of war and an economy almost entirely dependent on international support. Still, it was the Biden administration’s decision to halt aid in response to the Taliban takeover that put the country on the brink of catastrophe.”

We are called to be led by men… God sent women out when they had to do their thing, but when it was time to face down Goliath, he sent David. Not Davita — David.”  — North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R), quoted by the Charlotte Observer.

“Investigators probing efforts to meddle with the 2020 election results in Georgia have sought testimony from a former publicist to R. Kelly and Kanye West who allegedly pressured a local election worker,” CNN reports.

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

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