Cup of Joe – 6/16/22

The House Jan. 6 Committee postponed the hearing that was scheduled to take place on Wednesday. Committee member Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) signaled on Tuesday that the panel was biting off more than it could chew with the video exhibits, which are an “exhausting exercise for our very small video staff.”

Today’s hearing was going to examine how Trump tried to exploit the Justice Department to both advance the Big Lie and to steal the election, with a special focus on the Jeffrey Clark scheme.

The committee will hold its hearing today as scheduled. That session will focus on how Trump and his goons tried to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence into hijacking the electoral vote count.

The House Jan. 6 Committee on Tuesday released a clip of ex-White House lawyer Eric Herschmann testifying that he told then-Trump legal adviser and coup architect John Eastman after Jan. 6, “I’m going to give you the best free legal advice you’re ever getting in your life: Get a great fucking criminal defense lawyer.”

The January 6 Committee released video showing a tour Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) gave the day before the Capitol riot, showing a man taking photos of hallways in the Capitol complex the day before he ultimately attended the “Stop the Steal” rally.

Axios: “The panel is renewing a request for Loudermilk to testify as part of a deep dive into alleged ‘surveillance’ tours — even as they execute blockbuster hearings to showcase the evidence they’ve already gathered.”

“The Jan. 6 select committee is in possession of documentary footage showing a man who took part in a Jan. 5 tour of the Capitol complex with Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) outside the Capitol the following day, yelling threats at members of Congress – including Speaker Nancy Pelosi – as the insurrection raged,” Punchbowl News reports.

“The select committee has video of this person taking part in the Loudermilk tour on Jan. 5, as well as documentary footage of the same man outside the Capitol on Jan. 6.”

Neal Katyal: “What would criminal charges against Donald Trump look like? Obstruction of an official proceeding is a serious offense that requires the prosecution to show that a defendant obstructed, or attempted to obstruct, an official proceeding and that the defendant did so corruptly. The official proceeding part of this is clear — by law, on Jan. 6, Congress and the vice president must certify the votes. There appears to have been an orchestrated plot by some to try to interfere with that certification — the question is really whether the former president was part of that plot.”

“The committee has presented evidence suggesting that Mr. Trump, along with the lawyer John Eastman, and perhaps others such as the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, attempted to interfere with the election certification on Jan. 6.”

The New York Times looks at how the testimony this week of former Trump advisers Bill Stepian and Jason Miller diverted from their public comments just after the election.

“Both appeared to believe that there was an opportunity for challenges that passed in the middle of November. Both continued working with the campaign, but receded from the forefront as Mr. Trump put Mr. Giuliani in charge of the efforts to overturn the results.”

“The change for some of the aides reflects the legal consequences of lying to a congressional committee, and how much Mr. Trump’s grip on his former aides has loosened in the 17 months he has been out of office.”

The Hill: How the testimony of Trump aides differs from their public statements.

“Bill Stepien, who told the Jan. 6 committee that he quit Donald Trump’s campaign after the 2020 election because he could not go along with his election lies, nevertheless continues to coordinate Trump’s political operation, which is built almost entirely on spreading those exact election lies,” the HuffPost reports.

He has already made at least $1.4 million by fueling it.

“A series of photos taken on election night 2020 inside the Trump White House captures the tension as Trump’s family and his top aides track election returns and see Trump’s early lead fade away,” ABC News reports.

“The photos, taken by a White House photographer and published exclusively in the book, Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show, are a visual representation of the testimony of senior Trump advisers who told the House Jan. 6 committee that they did not believe Donald Trump should declare victory on election night.”

Aaron Blake: “We’ve seen just two relatively brief hearings of the House Jan. 6 committee. Yet already members of Donald Trump’s inner circle are accusing one another of lying under oath, taking bribes from Democrats, shilling for Marxists and being past their primes. They’re also rekindling old scandals involving their one-time allies and deriding each other’s mental faculties (including, in one particularly remarkable case, Trump’s).”

“The Jan. 6 committee’s work might never lead to criminal charges against Trump or those around him. But it has certainly prompted an extraordinary round of sniping and infighting.”

“The Federal Reserve approved the largest interest rate increase since 1994 and signaled it would continue lifting rates this year at the most rapid pace in decades as it races to slow the economy and combat inflation that is running at a 40-year high,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“[It is a] bigger increase than it had previously signaled and a sign that the central bank is struggling to restrain stubbornly high inflation,” the AP reports.

“The Federal Reserve’s missteps in waiting too long to tackle the greatest run-up in prices in four decades has shaken trust across markets and the American public that it is up to the task of curbing inflation,” the Washington Post reports.

“On the eve of a high-stakes Fed policy announcement, investors, economists and policymakers were on edge over how sharply the Fed would raise interest rates to deal with inflation, which hit a new peak in May.”

“Financial market volatility and losses deepened on Tuesday, fueled by fears that the Fed continues to misjudge inflation and will come down too hard on the economy, prompting a recession. The S&P 500 has fallen into bear market territory — a 20 percent fall from the most recent high — and all the indexes have accelerated losses for the year.”

“Prices keep rising. And the clock keeps ticking,” Politico reports.

“So the White House has started to change up its messaging on inflation, even though President Joe Biden has limited tools at his disposal to battle the crisis. The president stepped up efforts to draw contrasts with Republicans, unleashing a series of new attack lines Tuesday in a speech delivered amid a flurry of sobering headlines on rising costs and interest rates.”

“But with the midterms rapidly approaching, voters’ patience appears likely to run out – and the president and party in power stand poised to pay the political price.”

New York Times: “Any move to tweak the tariffs could carry significant trade-offs. It could encourage companies to keep their supply chains in China, undercutting another White House priority to bring jobs back to America. And it could expose Mr. Biden — and his Democratic allies in Congress — to attacks that he is letting Beijing off the hook when America’s economic relationship with China has become openly hostile, deepening a wedge issue for the midterm elections and the next presidential race.”

“President Joe Biden on Wednesday called on U.S. oil refiners to produce more gasoline and diesel, saying their profits have tripled during a time of war between Russia and Ukraine as Americans struggle with record high prices at the pump,” the AP reports.

Meanwhile, The Hill reports the White House “is showing signs that it is more seriously considering a federal gas tax holiday.”

“The Biden administration is facilitating an additional shipment of infant formula on Thursday, transporting specialty formula from Switzerland to the US through ongoing ‘Operation Fly Formula’ efforts as the federal government continues to work to address the shortage,” CNN reports.

As a bipartisan group of senators hammer out legislation on modest gun control measures, which is slated to include “red flag” laws, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) told reporters straight-up on Tuesday that his party cares more about winning the midterms than addressing gun violence.

“I think we’re more interested in the red wave than we are in red flags, quite honestly, as Republicans, and we have a pretty good opportunity to do that,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “announced he supports a bipartisan framework on gun safety and will likely vote for legislation that reflects it,” The Hill reports.

Said McConnell: “For myself, I’m comfortable with the framework and if the legislation ends up reflecting the framework, I’ll be supportive.”

“The Biden administration is expected to announce on Wednesday an additional $1 billion in military aid to Ukraine to fight Russia,” CNN reports.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said he “won’t use any long-range missile systems the West might provide to strike civilian neighborhoods in Russia,” USA Today reports.  Said Zelensky: “We are not interested in shelling civilians, we are not terrorists.”

“The number and rate of U.S. abortions increased from 2017 to 2020 after a long decline,“ the AP reports.

“The report from the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, counted more than 930,000 abortions in the U.S. in 2020. That’s up from about 862,000 abortions in 2017, when national abortion figures reached their lowest point since the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized the procedure nationwide.”

“About one in five pregnancies ended in abortion in 2020, according to the report.”

“New York’s highest court on Tuesday rejected former President Donald Trump’s last-ditch effort to avoid testifying in the state attorney general’s civil investigation into his business practices, clearing the way for his deposition next month,” the AP reports.

“The state’s Court of Appeals said there was no “substantial constitutional question” that would warrant its intervention in the matter following an intermediate appellate court’s ruling last month enforcing a subpoena for Trump’s testimony.”

Tom Nichols: “The Joe Biden who ran in 2020 appeared wiser, sadder, somewhat deflated, and seemed to be taking on the presidency as a public service and a burden. Time and tragedy had tempered Biden, and I liked him even more than I did in his flashier, Jason Sudeikis–like youth. These days, I think he’s done a pretty good job, especially given the fact that he’s dealing with a pandemic, revelations about an attempted American coup d’état, and an economic slowdown over which he had no control.”

“Oh, and by the way: He’s also managed (so far) to head off World War III and a possible nuclear conflict. We seem to forget that this is Job One for every American president, but while we’re griping about the gas prices (over which Biden also has no control), the Russians are replaying the Eastern Front against 40 million Ukrainians and also threatening NATO. It’s been reassuring to have a steady hand in charge of our foreign policy.”

Jonathan Chait: “Biden also deserves some credit here. He promised during the campaign that he could turn down the temperature in Washington and that his Senate experience would make him a more effective negotiator. That has not always proven true when it comes to negotiating with his own party, but it very much has when it comes to negotiating with Republicans.”

“Many of us dismissed Biden’s claim that he could bring the parties closer together as delusional. To an extent we didn’t expect, he’s managed to do it.”

“President Joe Biden is set to announce a series of senior staff moves as he takes steps to solidify his team ahead of the November midterm elections, including the departure of the top White House lawyer,” CNN reports.

“President Biden is naming Julie Chavez Rodriguez to serve as a White House senior adviser, putting her on par with some of his most senior and longest-serving aides and making her the first Latina to ever hold a top West Wing staffing role,” CBS News reports. She’s the granddaughter of Cesar Chavez, who founded the United Farm Workers union.

President Biden is tapping former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to replace Cedric Richmond as one of his most senior aides, bringing a Democratic rising star and former VP contender into the White House at a critical juncture, Axios reports.

President Biden has nominated Bradley Garcia, a Department of Justice official, to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the Washington Post reports.

Should he be confirmed, he would be the first Latino on the powerful court.

“A federal judge refused to throw Steve Bannon a lifeline on Wednesday, instead deciding that the right wing provocateur will indeed go to trial in the coming weeks for refusing to testify before the Jan. 6 Committee,” the Daily Beast reports.

“However, the judge indicated he may eventually hold the Department of Justice accountable for spying on one of Bannon’s defense lawyers and secretly obtaining his call and email records.”

“New Omicron strains capable of evading immune protections and causing breakthrough infections now account for more than 21% of total COVID cases in the U.S.,” Axios reports.

“The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed an appeal from several states led by Republicans that had sought to step in to defend a Trump-era immigration policy that the Biden administration has abandoned,” the New York Times reports.

“The court’s decision was one sentence long.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, will visit the districts of more than 10 Frontliners and Democratic candidates in June and July, an attempt to continue to build support for a potential leadership run and help keep seats in Democrats’ hands, Punchbowl News reports.

Schiff is “a prolific fundraiser, which is a huge plus in a party leadership race. He’s second in House Democratic fundraising, trailing only Pelosi.”

Playbook has the key takeaway from last night’s primaries: “Republicans can survive crossing Trump, but rarely can they survive being anti-Trump.”

“So far this year, the Trump-targeted Republicans who have survived his wrath have run campaigns that embrace Trump even as he spurns them.”

Also important: “It’s becoming more common than not for Republicans who support false election fraud theories to win GOP primaries. In many places, it is now the establishment GOP position.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has an article on how he’s defending himself against an ongoing sex trafficking investigation — autographed by Donald Trump — prominently displayed in his congressional office.

Molly Ball: “Torching the news cycle is what Gaetz and Greene love to do. They are constantly in the headlines for their attention-getting antics, outrages and feuds. The pair have defended the Jan. 6 rioters, promoted countless conspiracy theories, hobnobbed with white nationalists and picked fights with colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Their own Republican colleagues have called them ‘unserious,’ clowns, bigots, and worse…”

“Gaetz and Greene are the ringleaders of the GOP’s most hard-core, pro-Trump congressional faction. The MAGA Squad, as you might call them, is not a formal caucus, but its numbers are growing—despite the impending departure of one prominent member, Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who lost his North Carolina primary after scandals ranging from insider-trading allegations to lewd videos.”

“The MAGA Squad has spent the past year building their power, and now they’re preparing to wield it. If Kevin McCarthy—or any other Republican—wants to be Speaker, he’s going to have to go through them.”

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

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