Cup of Joe – 6/18/22

“The Jan. 6 select committee made its most forceful case Thursday that Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election was more than an affront to the democratic process — it was a crime,” Politico reports.

“For all the panel’s public quibbling over whether to vote on referring Trump to the Justice Department for a possible criminal case, members did it their own way. They used Thursday’s public hearing to present what they see as some of their most compelling evidence and thereby mount a case, with Attorney General Merrick Garland watching, that Trump broke the law in his effort to make former Vice President Mike Pence single-handedly overturn the election.”

The House Jan. 6 Committee held its third hearing yesterday and we learned more about Trump and ex-legal adviser John Eastman’s efforts to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence into unilaterally canceling the 2020 election results and keeping Trump as President.

More specifically, we learned that Eastman privately acknowledged that the legal “reasoning” behind the Pence plot was hot garbage (and then-Trump consigliere Rudy Giuliani separately admitted the same)–but that clearly didn’t stop any of them from trying to go through with the scheme anyway. Eastman also decided after the Jan. 6 attack that he deserved a presidential pardon. “I’ve decided that I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works,” he wrote to Giuliani (he did not make it to the pardon list).

Ginni Thomas told the Daily Caller she would agree to an interview with the January 6 Committee.  Said Thomas: “I can’t wait to clear up misconceptions. I look forward to talking to them.”

Rudy Giuliani was asked at a press conference for his son’s gubernatorial campaign if January 6 Committee testimony earlier today is true — alleging he privately acknowledged on Jan. 6 that Vice President Mike Pence likely didn’t have authority to not certify election results.  Giuliani was silent at first, then said: “I shouldn’t really talk about that.”

The January 6 Committee hearings have far surpassed my expectations. The testimony is riveting and the narrative the panel is constructing is very tight and compelling. And, so far, the committee has only used evidence only from those very close to Donald Trump. Nearly every witness would have considered themselves a Trump loyalist — at least before January 6.

At the end of yesterday’s hearing, I found it particularly interesting that Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the chairman of the committee, made a public appeal to anyone who might have more evidence about what transpired on January 6. This followed a comment earlier in the day by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD),  who told CNN: “New evidence is breaking every single day now. Suddenly, a lot of people want to tell the truth.” It shouldn’t be surprising. The story the panel is laying out suggests that anyone still standing by Donald Trump is possibly in big legal trouble. Now might be a good time to tell what you know.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) told MSNBC that she saw Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) giving tours of the Capitol “the day before the certification was going to take place” on January 6, 2021.

Said Dingell: “There was a whole group of visitors. We weren’t even supposed to have visitors inside of the complex… They weren’t wearing masks and I was irritated enough that went over and complained to the police.”

She added: “There were tours and I was a witness to more than one.”

“I think it’s been very clear for a very long time that I work with people who wish me harm. Who wish me physical harm, who wish me political harm, who wish me harm. And it’s not just Rep. Loudermilk. You have many members of Congress who have specifically used my name to incite violence. And this has been happening well before the 6th.”  — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY), quoted by Politico, on the video of Rep. Barry Loudermilk’s (R-GA) tour the day before the Capitol attack.  If you missed the video, one man invokes her name at the 1:33 mark.

“A January 6, 2021, rioter pleaded guilty Friday to carrying a loaded firearm on US Capitol grounds and assaulting police officers with one of their own batons during the insurrection,” CNN reports.

The ex-president is a little unhappy about how the House Jan. 6 Committee’s hearings have been featuring nary a Trump toady to disrupt the panel’s presentation of its damning discoveries, and he took to his fake Twitter app on Thursday to howl about the committee’s “one sided” hearings “go endlessly and aimlessly on (and on and on!).”

Trump declared he was “hereby demanding EQUAL TIME” to lie about election fraud, though it’s not clear what he meant by that. It’s a safe bet to assume he’s not talking about testifying at one of the hearings himself.

He demanded EQUAL TIME again a second time shortly after with a “I DEMAND EQUAL TIME!!!” post (or Truth, rather. And I guess it is the truth that he’s demanding equal time).

That can definitely be arranged, Donnie. All you have to do is come to the Committee room and be sworn in. And if you tell just a single lie, you will be indicted.

George Conway: “The hearings of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection have prompted a great deal of discussion about whether Donald Trump should be criminally charged for his attempted self-coup. You can count me as being on Team Prosecution, but there’s another important issue raised by the hearings: the effective operation of Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to future presidencies.”

“It could and should have been invoked to bring Trump’s calamitous presidency to an early and safe end.”

Andrew Sullivan: “There are simply no precedents in history for this kind of assault on the core principles of the American republic. None. And there is no precedent for a president, having been exposed as a fantasist, to carry on, insisting that his fever dream remains reality, attacking the very legitimacy of our democracy, day after day. The idea that he could run again — or again become president — could only be entertained by those who wish to end the American experiment.”

“Peruse the 12-page letter Trump put out in response to the hearings. It is the work of someone with no grip on reality, absurd lie after lie after lie, barely literate, the kind of thing you’d think was written by a lunatic if you received it in the mail. Any other president would have conceded on election night. Others with a real case (unlike Trump’s) — Nixon in 1960, Gore in 2000 — knew what their duty was. They cared more about the republic than themselves — a concept simply outside Trump’s cognition. In four years, he never acted as a president. He only ever acted as Trump.”

“In the bitter end, he was just a man with a mob. Not a Republican. Not a politician. Not a president. Not a member of any political party but his own cult. A mindless, raging, bullying thug. The hearings have methodically and calmly revealed this, masterfully led by a Republican, Liz Cheney, through testimony supplied by Republican after Republican witness.”

Punchbowl News: “For the first time since negotiations began last week in the wake of several horrific mass shootings, there are serious doubts that a deal can be reached by Sens. Chris Murphy and John Cornyn, the lead Democratic and GOP negotiators on the package.”

“Republicans insist Democrats must move in their direction on the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” a provision that bars domestic abusers from getting guns. Republicans want to make sure claims from long dormant relationships don’t impact the ability of someone to buy a gun. Democrats want to broaden the language.”

“There are also unresolved issues over the red-flag provisions, although senators familiar with the matter believe those can still be closed out.”

New York Times: “The impasse on the boyfriend loophole has become so sticky that Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas and a crucial player in the talks, said the proposal could be dropped from the package altogether.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) “made another in a string of tone deaf media appearances in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas school shooting,” this time telling a conservative radio host that while it’s difficult for him to offer comfort to the parents of the 19 students killed at Robb Elementary School, he believes “God always has a plan,” the Houston Chronicle reports.

Said Paxton: “If I had the opportunity to talk to the people I’d have to say, look, there’s always a plan. I believe God always has a plan. Life is short no matter what it is.”

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) “was vacationing in the Italian region of Tuscany while his state was dealing with what officials called a ‘once-in-every-500-years’ flooding disaster,” the Daily Mail reports.  “The governor — who previously refused to confirm the location of his trip — is now returning to Montana Thursday evening as historic flooding continues to ravage the state, and Yellowstone National Park faces ‘indefinite’ closure.”

“The European Union opened the way for Ukraine to one day join the bloc on Friday, recommending that the country be recognized as an official candidate,” the Wall Street Journal reports.  “The recommendation comes close to meeting one of the central demands Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has made of European leaders, saying it will provide a crucial boost in morale for Ukrainians fighting a Russian invasion and offer the country a future firmly anchored in the West.”

It is the first formal step in the process of accepting a new member in the organization, as Ukraine continues to fight against Russia’s unprovoked invasion.

On Thursday, the leaders of Germany, France, Italy and Romania visited  Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky in Kiev to express their support for Ukraine’s potential E.U. membership.

“Senior White House aides have in recent days explored new ideas for responding to high gas prices and looked again at some that they had previously discarded, desperate to show that the administration is trying to address voter frustration about rising costs at the pump,” the Washington Post reports.

“Biden officials are taking a second look at whether the federal government could send rebate cards out to millions of American drivers to help them pay at gas stations — an idea they examined months ago before ruling it out.”

President Biden told the Associated Press that the American people are “really, really down” after a tumultuous two years with the coronavirus pandemic, volatility in the economy and now surging gasoline prices that are hitting family budgets.

He said a recession is not inevitable and bristled at claims by Republican lawmakers that last year’s Covid-19 aid plan was fully to blame for inflation reaching a 40-year high, calling that argument “bizarre.”

Said Biden: “They’re really down. The need for mental health in America, it has skyrocketed, because people have seen everything upset. Everything they’ve counted on upset. But most of it’s the consequence of what’s happened, what happened as a consequence of the Covid crisis.”

While certainly true, this probably isn’t the best midterm message.

Jonathan Chait: “The January 6 hearings are about the events of a single day, but they implicate a much broader phenomenon: the Republican Party’s faltering commitment to democracy. The mob attack on Congress a year and a half ago was merely the most grotesque manifestation of Donald Trump’s rejection of democracy, and Trump himself merely the most grotesque manifestation of his party’s authoritarian impulses.”

“Nobody should dismiss the importance of Team Normal’s refusal to follow Trump’s conspiracy theories to the barricades, which might have averted a constitutional crisis. But the Republican mainstream has used the existence of Team Normal to dismiss Trump’s effort to overturn the election as little more than a prank gone wrong.”

Tim O’Brien: “Threats to freedom and democracy don’t simply fade away. And avoiding one disaster doesn’t mean you’ve prevented the next one.”

Iowa’s Supreme Court ruled Friday that abortion rights are not protected by the state constitution, a move that paves the way for lawmakers to ban future abortions in the state, the Des Moines Register reports.

The FDA authorized both the Moderna and Pfizer coronavirus vaccines for the nation’s youngest children, the New York Times reports.

Dr. Deborah Birx, Trump’s former COVID-19 White House response coordinator, is set to testify publicly for the first time since leaving the Trump administration in front of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. The hearing is scheduled for Thursday. She’s got a lot to talk about.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) “is now allowing healthcare providers, including pediatricians and children’s hospitals, to order COVID-19 vaccines from a federal program for children between six months and 5 years old, a reversal from earlier this week,” McClatchy reports. “State health facilities will still not be placing orders for vaccine doses.

The all-Republican Otero County Commission in New Mexico has scheduled an emergency meeting for today to vote on certifying the 2022 primary election results after the New Mexico Supreme Court ordered them to do their jobs and stop holding up the certification process on the basis of MAGA conspiracy theories about Dominion voting machines.

But one of the commissioners, Cowboys for Trump leader Couy Griffin, still plans on voting “no,” he told local outlet KOB. And, well, he did literally tell the Washington Post earlier this week that he doesn’t care about the law: “I tell people my oath is to the people I represent. I did not take an oath to the state of New Mexico or their election laws.”

On the other hand, Trump Cowboy Man also said he isn’t sure he can even cast a vote in the first place since he’s currently in D.C. waiting to be sentenced after he was convicted of trespassing on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) “is sounding the alarm over the move by rural Otero County in his state not to certify its primary election results,” Politico reports.

Said Heinrich: “We have to get back to a place where elections are won and lost on math. It is very, very deeply dangerous to democracy for counties or any other certifying agency to start making this political. We lose everything if our elections are not based on math. And, frankly, it robs the people of their will. And it is deeply undemocratic.”

“One of the members of the three-member county commission tasked with certifying the election results will be sentenced on Friday for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.”

“UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has signed an order to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States, where he faces espionage charges,” CNN reports.  “The decision will likely see months more of legal wrangling: Assange has the right to appeal Friday’s decision within 14 days.”

“Israeli and American intelligence officials have been watching each day as Iran digs a vast tunnel network just south of the Natanz nuclear production site, in what they believe is Tehran’s biggest effort yet to construct new nuclear facilities so deep in the mountains that they can withstand bunker-busting bombs and cyberattacks,” the New York Times reports.

“Though the construction is evident on satellite photographs and has been monitored by groups that track the proliferation of new nuclear facilities, Biden administration officials have never talked about it in public and Israel’s defense minister has mentioned it just once, in a single sentence in a speech last month. In interviews with national security officials in both nations, there clearly were differing interpretations of exactly how the Iranians may intend to use the site, and even how urgent a threat it poses.”

“Senate Democrats are preparing for possible summer action on their still-elusive climate, tax reform and prescription drugs bill, grinding behind the scenes on a new version during high-profile gun safety talks,” Politico reports.

“With much of Washington’s attention on guns, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) met twice this week on a potential party-line package. There’s more afoot: Schumer and his staff are working with the Senate parliamentarian to help tee up a possible July or August vote. And a prominent Democratic pollster has tested how popular major components of a hypothetical bill would be in Senate battleground states.”

“A congressional deal for billions of dollars in additional coronavirus funding appeared all but dead Thursday after Senate Republicans accused the White House of being dishonest about the nation’s pandemic funding needs,” the Washington Post reports.

“Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), who brought the Senate close to a bipartisan $10 billion covid funding deal in March, said the Biden administration had provided ‘patently false’ information about its inability to buy additional vaccines, treatments and supplies.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced he has joined Donald Trump’s social network, Truth Social.  He says he is “going to be on there calling out Republican lies.”

“USA Today said on Thursday that it had removed 23 articles from its website after an investigation into a reporter’s work revealed sources that appeared to be fabricated,” the New York Times reports.

“Walmart is the latest retailer to pull MyPillow products from its stores as the company’s CEO Mike Lindell continues to claim that the 2020 election was rigged against former President Trump,” Axios reports.

“Immigration arrests along the U.S. southern border rose in May to the highest levels ever recorded, as growing numbers of migrants arrived from Turkey, India, Russia and other nations outside the Western Hemisphere,” the Washington Post reports.

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

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