Cup of Joe – 6/17/22

House Jan. 6 Committee investigators have discovered that Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, exchanged emails with John Eastman, Trump’s coup mastermind, the Washington Post and the New York Times reported. CBS News confirmed the reports.

We don’t know what they discussed or when the exchange took place. We already do know, however, that Ginni Thomas, a hardline conservative activist, was deeply involved in MAGA World’s crusade to overturn the 2020 election.

Eastman once clerked for Clarence Thomas at the Supreme Court.

The Jan. 6 committee is now mulling whether to bring up Ginni Thomas’ actions during its public hearings, according to the Post. The panel had previously decided against focusing on her involvement in the election steal plot.

John Eastman, the aforementioned coup mastermind, claimed in an email to another pro-Trump lawyer on Dec. 24, 2020 to know about a “heated fight” the Supreme Court was having over whether to hear Trumpland’s arguments on why the election ought to be overturned, according to the New York Times.

It’s unclear how Eastman would have known about the reported “fight,” but both the Times and the Washington Post reported that the then-Trump legal adviser was in email contact with Ginni Thomas.

The pro-Trump lawyer Eastman was emailing, Kenneth Chesebro, reportedly signaled that he was banking on the Supreme Court to “start to fear that there will be ‘wild’ chaos on Jan. 6 unless they rule by then.” This was five days after Trump had posted a tweet encouraging his supporters to come to a “wild” gathering on Jan. 6.

The point of today’s January 6 Committee hearing was exceptionally clear. Donald Trump wanted Mike Pence to reject the electoral votes from the 2020 presidential election or send the votes back to the states to be counted again.

It was something no other vice president had ever done — and it was illegal.

Pence resisted the pressure. But his courage also put him in danger. Trump actively turned the mob that had broken into the Capitol against him — a mob that had begun chanting “Hang Mike Pence” and had even built a hangman’s gallows. Our democracy came dangerously close to catastrophe.

As Judge Michael Luttig testified: “A Pence declaration of Donald Trump as president would have plunged America into what I believe would have been tantamount to a revolution within a Constitutional crisis.”

If there was a bombshell from today’s hearings, it was that secret emails showed that attorney John Eastman — who was advising Trump — knew that his “fake electors” scheme was illegal and would be “dead on arrival in Congress.”  And he actually put all of this in an email. More from Luttig: “There was no basis in the Constitution or laws of the United States at all for the theory espoused by Mr. Eastman, at all. None.”

Pence counsel Greg Jacob testified that Eastman agreed with him that the Supreme Court would rule 9-0 against Eastman’s ploy. Jacob added that Eastman even admitted his scheme was illegal in front of Trump himself. Nonetheless, Trump pressured Eastman to push for the unilateral power of Pence to overturn the election. Eastman, knowing full well it was illegal, continued to push for it in public. They even weaponized the mob at the Capitol on January 6 to put even more pressure on Pence to do something illegal.

Finally, it’s worth repeating White House lawyer Eric Herschmann’s advice to Eastman: “Get a good fucking criminal defense lawyer. You’re going need it.” And since it’s been proven today that there was no daylight between Eastman and Trump, the former president might want to do so as well.

“Former President Donald Trump knew violence had taken hold at the Capitol on Jan. 6 when he tweeted that Mike Pence wasn’t willing to overturn the election,” NBC News reports.

Playbook: “One of the intended takeaways from today’s presentation is that Trump — knowingly — almost got Pence killed.”

The second half of today’s hearing explained how Donald Trump weaponized the mob at the Capitol to pressure Mike Pence to illegally overturn the 2020 presidential election. It started with a gathering in the Oval Office of the Trump family. Witnesses testified that Trump was having a “heated” conversation with Pence on the phone and then called him a “wimp” and a “pussy” for not agreeing to overturn the vote.

We also learned that Trump’s draft speech for the rally didn’t even mention Pence. Trump only added it after the phone call with Pence refused his wishes. After Trump returned to the White House, Trump tweeted that Pence didn’t have the courage and the crowds outside the capitol and inside the Capitol surged. Pence had to be removed to a secure location. The mob at one point was within 40 feet of Pence.  A confidential informant from the Proud Boys has told the FBI that the rioters would have killed Pence if given the chance.

On the one hand, Pence was simply doing his duty as vice president. But in the face of relentless pressure from the most powerful person in the world, Pence’s actions were clearly honorable and courageous.

But more courage will be needed from more Americans. Judge Michael Luttig made clear that Trump and his allies remain “a clear and present danger” to the United States and not just because of January 6 — but because they will attempt to overturn the 2024 election. Finally, a bombshell from this part of the hearing was that John Eastman requested a pardon from Trump in the final days of his presidency. He did not receive one.

“The Justice Department on Thursday revealed a deepening rift with the Jan. 6 House select committee, accusing the panel of a ‘failure’ to share its 1,000 witness transcripts,” Politico reports.

“DOJ officials say those documents would aid the prosecution of people who breached the Capitol, including leaders of the Proud Boys.”

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chairman of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, said the panel plans to invite Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to be interviewed by the panel, the Washington Post reports.

“The conservative activist was not originally expected to be a focus of public hearings this June. But people involved in the investigation say newly obtained email correspondence between her and White House lawyer John Eastman have revealed that her efforts to overturn the 2020 election were more extensive than previously known.”

The Economist: “Whether Merrick Garland might charge him is another matter. While prosecuting hundreds of foot-soldiers of the Capitol riot, Joe Biden’s attorney-general has given no indication that he intends to pursue Mr Trump. A cautious institutionalist, Mr Garland is intent on removing Mr Barr’s taint of politicization from his department. Arresting the previous president would make that hard.”

“As Ms Cheney knows, the prospects of blocking Mr Trump electorally are receding. Most Republicans say he won the election and hardly any Republican politician dares say otherwise. On June 14th a Trump-backed primary challenger defeated Tom Rice of South Carolina, making him the fifth of the ten Republican House members who voted to impeach Mr Trump to be pushed out. Mr Trump is the clear favorite to be the Republican nominee in 2024. It is why Mr Garland’s decision looks so important. Yet that will perhaps make him even more reluctant to act.”

Tara Palmeri: “If members of the January 6th committee hope that their must-see TV spectacle will inspire Americans to rise up and demand that Attorney General Merrick Garland press charges against Trump or his inner circle—like, say, Rudy Giuliani or Sidney Powell—well, then they don’t know much about Garland.”

“According to two people who have worked alongside him since the start of his career in the Carter administration, Garland is avowedly stoic and apolitical, despite the manner in which his own Supreme Court nomination was politicized and derailed by Mitch McConnell.”

Said one former colleague: “Merrick would be the person that would be most reluctant to do something if there was a fervor coming out of the committee. He wouldn’t like to look like he’s been pressured into doing something because of the demands of the committee.”

Charlie Sykes: “Beyond the grift, the key to understanding Bannon — and his influence on the MAGA right— is recognizing that he’s a revolutionary, who knows he doesn’t need to persuade, and who doesn’t need a majority. Bannon knows that he just needs a hard-core vanguard willing to do whatever it takes.”

“And his goal is to burn it all down.”

“This also explains the fundamental asymmetry of our politics. On today’s podcast we discuss whether Bannon is playing checkers while his opponents are playing chess.”

“But I suggested a different image: Bannon is bringing an axe to a chess game — and his opponents haven’t figured that out yet, even though he’s told us repeatedly who and what he is.”

Just Security has an excellent backgrounder on Donald Trump’s “fake electors’ scheme and how he hoped it would help him overturn the 2020 presidential election.  The Justice Department has already stated a criminal investigation into this.

Mark Barabak on Peter Navarro: “Today, it seems hard to reconcile the nutty former UC Irvine professor who schemed to steal the 2020 election for President Trump with the candidate who inveighed against ‘fearmongering’ politicians and ‘the extreme right wing of the Republican Party.’ Who disparaged Rush Limbaugh and excoriated Pete Wilson’s 1996 presidential bid, saying the former California governor and San Diego mayor hoped ‘to cynically ride a tidal wave of white male rage and anti-immigration fervor right down the Potomac and into the White House.’”

“But there is a through-line, say those who have known and observed Navarro for decades: a monumental self-regard, a bottomless hunger for attention — he once showed up for a mayoral campaign event wearing nothing but a Speedo — and an utter lack of grounding principles.”

“A document, titled ‘1776 Returns‘, which federal prosecutors said was used by the leader of the Proud Boys, lays out a plan to occupy Capitol buildings on Jan. 6, 2021, using covert operators to let ‘patriots’ inside government offices in an apparent effort to force a new election,” NBC News reports.

The document “demands a new election — ‘not a recount’ — that involves ‘paper ballots only, no mail in ballots, no absentee ballots,’ with the National Guard monitoring the proceedings.”

A new photo obtained by ABC News “shows then-Vice President Mike Pence and his family in hiding after rioters broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6 and he was evacuated from the Senate floor.”

“Taken just minutes after the mob had breached the Capitol and as Pence and his family were evacuated from chamber by his Secret Service detail, the photo shows Karen Pence hurriedly closing the curtains in the room, as her daughter looks on with fear.”

Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) told Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Wednesday night that he won’t change his story on the tour he gave to a group of people in the Capitol office buildings the day before the Jan. 6 insurrection.

He’s changed his story multiple times. First there was no tour, then it was a tour with just “a constituent family with young children,” then it was a tour with a constituent family and their “guests.”

The House Jan. 6 Committee released eerie surveillance video yesterday revealing the tour group members taking pictures of hallways, staircases and security checkpoints–and it released another video revealing that one of those members had marched to the Capitol on Jan. 6, something Loudermilk has not addressed.

To be clear though, we don’t know whether Loudermilk was aware of any plans the tour group members may or may not have had on Jan. 6.

“As the first bipartisan agreement on gun safety measures in years takes shape on Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats are laboring to keep their compromise on track by sending disparate messages about its scope and implications,” the New York Times reports.

“Democrats, who wanted far more sweeping gun control steps, have noted that if passed, it would be the most significant legislation on the issue in decades. Republicans, fearful of crossing their anti-gun-control base, are focusing instead on the proposals they kept out of the agreement, including bans on weapons or ammunition and raising the age for purchasing firearms.”

The Hill: Sen. John Cornyn warns gun safety framework may have to be slimmed down.

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Wednesday that 18-year-old Payton Gendron, an alleged believer of the racist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, has been hit with federal hate crime charges after allegedly targeting Black people in a shooting spree at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.

Some of the charges carry a possible death sentence, but the Justice Department hasn’t yet indicated whether it will seek the death penalty in the case.

Gendron was indicted on state domestic terrorism and hate crime charges two weeks ago. He’s pleaded not guilty to all 25 charges.

“Moscow’s move to slash natural-gas exports to Europe has pitched the continent’s energy crisis into a dangerous new phase that threatens to drain vital fuel supplies and kneecap the continent’s economy,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

When Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said publicly the U.S. wanted Ukraine to win it’s war with Russia, President Biden told them to tone it down, NBC News reports.

“U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that the trajectory of the war in Ukraine is untenable and are quietly discussing whether President Volodymyr Zelenskyy should temper his hardline public position that no territory will ever be ceded to Russia as part of an agreement to end the war.”

A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows that “most Democrats (55%) and Republicans (53%) now believe it is ‘likely’ that America will ‘cease to be a democracy in the future’ — a stunning expression of bipartisan despair about the direction of the country.”

“Half of all Americans (49%) express the same sentiment when independents and those who do not declare any political affiliation are factored in, while just a quarter (25%) consider the end of U.S. democracy unlikely and another quarter (25%) say they’re unsure.”

“The potential for far-right Republicans to reshape the election systems of major battleground states is growing much closer to reality,” the New York Times reports. “As the halfway point nears of a midterm year that is vastly friendlier to Republicans, the party’s voters have nominated dozens of candidates for offices with power over the administration and certification of elections who have spread falsehoods about the 2020 presidential contest and sowed distrust in American democracy.”

New CNN president Chris Licht discouraged staff from using “the big lie” to refer to former President Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election, Mediaite reports.  He encouraged producers to instead use the terms “Trump election lie” or “election lies” instead.

Dr. Anthony Facui tested positive for Covid-19 and has mild symptoms, Bloomberg reports.

“Every state has placed an order with the federal government to ensure coronavirus vaccines for young children are delivered as soon as regulators authorize their use — except for one,” McClatchy reports.

“Florida has yet to request delivery of Covid-19 pediatric vaccines for children under 5, missing yesterday’s deadline for pre-orders and guaranteeing a delay in access for parents across the state.”

“Deborah Birx, who served as Covid response coordinator under former President Donald Trump, will give her first public testimony about her time in the Trump administration,” NBC News reports.

“Birx is scheduled to provide testimony on June 23 at a hearing before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, led by Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.”

A new Economist/You Gov poll finds that 56% of Americans believed that the country is currently going through an economic recession. 

“The United States isn’t at risk of breaching its more than $31 trillion debt limit until at least the third quarter of next year,” Politico reports.  “That deadline is expected to be a major stress point in the 118th Congress, likely shaping other fiscal negotiations, with more Republican sway following the November midterm elections.”

“The city of Seattle will decide whether to adopt a new style of voting that would allow them to choose as many candidates as they like in future election contests,” The Hill reports.  “The proposal, called ‘approval voting,’ allows a voter to select every candidate of whom they approve in primary elections. The two candidates with the highest number of votes would advance to a general election, when voters would be allowed to choose between the two.”

The Intercept: “Instead of fueling a groundswell of public support to reinvigorate the party’s ambitious agenda, most of the foundation-backed organizations that make up the backbone of the party’s ideological infrastructure were still spending their time locked in virtual retreats, Slack wars, and healing sessions, grappling with tensions over hierarchy, patriarchy, race, gender, and power.”

Said one organization leader who departed his position: “So much energy has been devoted to the internal strife and internal bullshit that it’s had a real impact on the ability for groups to deliver. It’s been huge, particularly over the last year and a half or so, the ability for groups to focus on their mission, whether it’s reproductive justice, or jobs, or fighting climate change.”

“Sen. Elizabeth Warren and a group of other Democratic lawmakers have introduced a bill that would essentially outlaw the sale of location data harvested from smartphones,” Vice News reports.  “The move comes after Motherboard reported multiple instances in which companies were selling location data of people who visited abortion clinics, and sometimes making subsets of that data freely available.”

“The Environmental Protection Agency warned Wednesday that a group of human-made chemicals found in the drinking water, cosmetics and food packaging used by millions of Americans pose a greater danger to human health than regulators previously thought,” the Washington Post reports.

“The Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked 11-11 on the nomination of Steven Dettelbach to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives,” Politico reports.  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer “could move to advance the nomination on the floor later Thursday.”

“House Republicans welcomed to the Capitol on Wednesday a new self-described ‘anti-woke’ business lobbying group, amplifying their hostility toward the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and broader ‘environmental, social and corporate governance’ (ESG) movement,” Axios reports.

“The U.S. Chamber used to wield enormous power within the GOP as the representative of business interests. But the country’s largest lobbying group is now viewed with contempt across large swaths of the Republican Party.”

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

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