Cup of Joe – 6/24/22

The focus of today’s hearing was nicely summarized by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the chairman of the January 6 Committee: “Donald Trump didn’t just want the Justice Department to investigate. He wanted the Justice Department to help legitimize his lies, to baselessly call the election corrupt.”

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who was the Acting Attorney General after Bill Barr resigned, testified that between December 23 and January 3, Trump called him or met with him “virtually every day” about Trump’s desire for the Justice Department pursue election fraud claims. After being told repeatedly that there was no election fraud, Trump told Rosen: “Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and Republican Congressmen.”

When Rosen refused, Trump explored replacing Rosen with Jeffrey Clark, a lower level Justice Department official, who promised to declare the election fraudulent. Clark apparently told Trump in a White House meeting that he had “the intelligence and the will and the desire to pursue these matters in the way” that Trump wanted. But the scheme faced intense criticism from Trump officials.

Deputy Attorney General Rich Donoghue told Clark: “You’re an environmental lawyer. How about you go back to your office and we’ll call you when there’s an oil spill.”

Trump White House lawyer Eric Herschmann also pushed back against Clark: “I said, sorry fucking asshole, congratulations, you just admitted your first step or act you would take as Attorney General would be committing a felony.”

Like at the previous hearings, the key takeaway was that the conspiracy to overturn the election was directed by Trump himself. And once again, dedicated public servants stood up when the most powerful man in the world asked them to do corrupt things. William Barr, Jeffrey Rosen and Rich Donoghue all wanted Trump to win the election, but none were apparently willing to take illegal actions to overturn it. Unfortunately, there were others — like Jeff Clark — who seemed perfectly willing to do Trump’s bidding. He joins John Eastman on the likely indictment list.

Today’s hearing was masterful in continuing to build a criminal case against Donald Trump for attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election. It was extraordinary. We heard the smoking gun quote that proves Trump was directing the scheme: “Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican Congressmen.”

Trump’s quote was first reported last year but we learned today it was documented in real time by Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue on Dec. 27, 2020. When coupled with other testimony from these hearings, it demonstrates Trump’s intimate involvement and corrupt intent in trying to remain in power.

We also found out the White House had begun referring to Jeff Clark as the acting attorney general on the afternoon of January 3. That’s extraordinary because we know he was willing to carry out Trump’s plan and declare the election fraudulent. That’s how close the country came to a full-blown constitutional crisis and possible “political coup.”

The only reason Trump didn’t fire Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen and make the Clark appointment was because he was told mass resignations — possibly “hundreds and hundreds of them” — would take place at the Justice Department.

Just as important, we learned that at least six Republican members of Congress sought pardons in the final days of Trump’s presidency. They included Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Louis Gohmert (R-TX) and Scott Perry (R-PA).

Trump also talked about issuing a “blanket pardon” for family members and for staff. As Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) summarized: “The only reason I know to ask for a pardon is because you think you have committed a crime.”

One more thing worth mentioning: At the start of the hearing, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) emphasized how little of the committee’s evidence had been presented so far. She suggested much more is coming.

“Federal investigators descended on the home of Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, on Wednesday in connection with the department’s sprawling inquiry into efforts to overturn the 2020 election,” the New York Times reports.

“It remained unclear exactly what the investigators may have been looking for, but Mr. Clark was central to President Donald Trump’s unsuccessful effort in late 2020 to strong-arm the nation’s top prosecutors into supporting his claims of election fraud.”

Elie Honig: “To get a search warrant, prosecutors must show they have probable cause to believe that a crime was committed, and a judge must review and sign off.”

Jeffrey Toobin: “This is an extremely significant event.”

The FBI executed a search warrant on Nevada Republican Party chair Michael McDonald and seized his phone on Wednesday as part of the federal investigation into Trump’s fake elector scheme, according to local news outlet 8 News Now.

The House Jan. 6 Committee subpoenaed McDonald in January.

The FBI also issued a search warrant for Nevada GOP secretary James DeGraffenreid (one of the signatories of the bogus paperwork for the sham Trump electors), but agents reportedly couldn’t find him.

The Justice Department has begun issuing subpoenas to people who agreed to participate in Trump’s bogus elector plot, according to the Washington Post and the New York Times. People who reportedly got subpoenaed:

  • Georgia GOP chair David Shafer, who served as one of the fake electors
  • A Georgia lawyer named Brad Carver who was a fake elector
  • Thomas Lane, a Trump campaign official who worked in Arizona and New Mexico
  • Shawn Flynn, a Trump campaign official in Michigan

Former President Donald Trump “has tuned into every hearing and has grown increasingly irate — to “‘the point of about to scream at the TV,’ according to a close adviser — with what he views as the lack of defense by his Capitol Hill allies,” the Washington Post reports.

“Trump has said privately for months that McCarthy’s decision to pull pro-Trump Republicans from sitting on the Jan. 6 select committee was a mistake, one that has become clearer as Trump watches the hearings that are working to build the case that he should be criminally charged for conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election.”

One day after losing his bid for Alabama Senate, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), still licking his wounds over Trump’s endorsement snub, told CNN on Wednesday that he’s now open to testifying in front of the House Jan. 6 Committee, which had announced a subpoena for him last month.  Brooks said he has a “basic requirement,” however: That his testimony be public so people get the whole thing, not just “bits and pieces dribbled out.”

Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) told CNN that the panel has “redone” Brooks’ subpoena, which hasn’t been served to the GOP congressman yet because he was out campaigning.

Brooks declared earlier on Wednesday that he was retiring from politics — and took a shot at Trump. According to Brooks, the former president was “the big loser” in the Alabama GOP Senate primary runoff because he’s not “a man of his word,” has “no loyalty” and won’t take action unless it “enhances his wallet or his ego.”

From Roll Call and the Iowa Capital Dispatch on January 5, 2021: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) told reporters that Vice President Mike Pence wouldn’t be available on January 6 to count the electoral votes for the 2020 presidential election.

Said Grassley: “Well, first of all, I will be — if the Vice President isn’t there and we don’t expect him to be there, I will be presiding over the Senate.”

There’s got to be a bigger story here.

After revelations that he was asked to give slate of fake electors to Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) appeared to fake a phone call to avoid taking questions from reporters as he walked away from the Capitol. Said Johnson: “I’m on the phone right now.” Replied the reporter: “No you’re not. I can see your phone. I can see your screen.”

“Dude. Don’t blame the intern.” — Monica Lewinsky reacting to Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-WY) explanation of how his chief of staff ended up in possession of a slate of fake electors.

“A former judge who legally represented President Donald Trump coordinated with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WY) to pass documents falsely stating Trump won Wisconsin to then-Vice President Mike Pence as Pence was set to confirm Joe Biden as the next president on Jan. 6, 2021, newly revealed messages show,” the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

A documentary filmmaker said that former president Donald Trump described those who participated in the January 6 Capitol attack as “smart” during a defiant interview last spring, the Washington Post reports.

Alex Holder, a British documentary filmmaker who had extensive access to Donald Trump and his family ahead of and after the 2020 election, is testifying this morning behind closed doors to the January 6 Committee, the New York Times reports.

Holder’s footage — some 11 hours of it with the Trump family discussing the campaign and the election — was subpoenaed by the committee ahead of the interview.

“The Supreme Court struck down New York state’s system for issuing concealed weapons permits, ruling that the century-old law requiring that applicants demonstrate ‘proper cause’ and ‘good moral character’ violates the Second Amendment,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

New York Times: “The ruling was only the court’s second major statement on the scope of the individual constitutional right to keep and bear arms and its first on how the right applies to firearms in public places. The decision has far-reaching implications, particularly in cities that had sought to address gun crimes by putting restrictions on who can carry them.”

NBC New York: “Supreme Court decisions in 2008 and 2010 established a nationwide right to keep a gun at home for self-defense. The question the court confronted is about the right to carry a gun outside the home.”

“The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled in favor of a death row inmate in Georgia who is challenging the state’s lethal injection protocol and seeks to die by firing squad – a method not currently authorized in the state,” CNN reports.

“The court said the inmate could bring the challenge under a federal civil rights law that allows individuals to seek remedies when their Constitutional rights are violated. The decision could make it easier for inmates to challenge their potential execution method.”

Ian Prasad Philbrick: “The Supreme Court has become the most pro-religion it’s been since at least the 1950s, and it appears to include the six most pro-religion justices since at least World War II.”

“Yesterday’s ruling striking down a Maine law that blocked taxpayer dollars from funding religious school tuition furthered a transformation decades in the making. Since John Roberts became chief justice in 2005, the court has ruled in favor of religious organizations in orally argued cases 83 percent of the time. That is far more than any court in the past seven decades — all of which were led by chief justices who, like Roberts, were appointed by Republican presidents.”

“The Supreme Court said on Thursday that two Republican leaders of North Carolina’s legislature could step in to defend the state’s voter ID law even though the state’s attorney general, a Democrat, is already doing so,” CNN reports.  “The opinion will make it easier for other state government officials to intervene in some instances in lawsuits when the state government is divided.”

John Avlon notes that even in the mythical gun-loving wild west, sheriffs wouldn’t allow guns into town.

A new Gallup poll finds that 66% of Americans “want laws covering the sale of firearms to be stricter — up 14 percentage points from October, and the highest since after the Parkland high school shooting in 2018.”

“A record-high 55% of Americans have an appetite for not only enforcing existing gun laws more strictly but also passing new gun legislation. This is only the second time since 2000 that a majority favors passing new gun legislation in addition to enforcing current laws more strictly.”

The Supreme Court announced this morning that it will issue decisions this this morning (Friday). It would be fitting for them to end the reproductive rights of half the human population of the United States on a news dump Friday.

“Russian forces are gaining an advantage in eastern Ukraine as they learn from mistakes made during the earlier stages of their invasion of the country, including better coordinating air and ground attacks and improving logistics and supply lines,” CNN reports.

“Approaching a pivotal moment in their invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces have tightened their vise around two key eastern cities, raising the risk their slow, brutal advance will capture the cities and trap the Ukrainian troops defending them,” the New York Times reports.

“The fall of the two neighboring cities, Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, would all but complete Russia’s conquest of Luhansk Province, a major part of the Donbas region that the Russians are attempting to seize in the four-month-old war. That would give a strategic and symbolic victory to President Vladimir Putin, and open avenues for Russia’s military to advance deeper into Ukraine.”

“The German government moved closer to rationing natural gas on Thursday after Russia cut deliveries to the country last week in an escalation of the economic war triggered by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

New York Times: “NATO was so confident that the invitation to both countries would go smoothly that it choreographed a series of events around a vote accepting the applications in May, which the alliance had to cancel when Turkey suddenly objected.”

“Mr. Erdogan has made numerous demands, mostly centering on nationalist issues with domestic impact, like Kurdish separatism and terrorism, and the extradition of some followers of an exiled opposition leader, Fethullah Gulen. Mr. Erdogan blames Mr. Gulen, who lives in the United States, for a failed coup attempt against him in 2016.”

“Boris Johnson will push France and Germany to strengthen their support for Ukraine next week as he fears Volodymyr Zelensky could be bounced into agreeing a ‘shitty’ peace deal,” the Telegraph reports.

Tom Nichols: “Our elections work because they are run by ordinary citizens at the state and local level who either were elected or volunteered to help administer the vote as a matter of civic duty. This is a wondrous thing: community volunteers overseeing the vote and counting the results. I love voting in person for just this reason; having seen people in other nations too terrified even to talk about politics, it always filled me with quiet joy to have my fellow townspeople hand me a ballot and protect my privacy while I voted.”

“Trump and his people, however, have made it clear that democracy is a meaningless word. They want what they want and they will hurt anyone who gets in their way. Their goal is to make public service a hazardous undertaking, to create an environment in which people working on elections—their fellow American citizens—fear for their lives if they don’t cough up the results they want.”

“A handful of House Republican lawmakers want to create lengthy new prison sentences for Michigan abortion providers and those creating or distributing abortion-inducing medication,” the Detroit Free Press reports.

“Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) will introduce a new bill Thursday that aims to shore up access to abortion pills in states that have not yet restricted access, focusing on codifying current regulatory and usage language around the drugs at a time when many reproductive rights advocates believe they are the next to face restrictions across the country,” NBC News reports.

“House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise told House Republicans during a closed-door conference meeting that they will oppose the agreement, which a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators unveiled Tuesday night,” Politico reports.

Playbook: “GOP announcements of opposition to the Senate gun bill are tumbling out of Congress. The latest to declare that he will vote against it is Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL). Scott, of course, is not just the junior senator from Florida; he’s also the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.”

“In the wake of the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Scott signed a bill that has some similarities to what’s been drafted in the Senate. But it’s not similar enough, according to Scott. So once again, on a major national policy issue, Scott is parting ways with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who supports the gun bill.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “Senate Republicans continue to be more open to compromise and, basically, acting like normal politicians during this Congress than many people expected. They’ve reached a deal on gun safety. There’s a bipartisan bill rolling out on insulin pricing. And there are small things, too. HuffPost’s Jennifer Bendery reports that Montana Senator Steve Daines ‘heaped praises’ on Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and her team for their response to flooding at Yellowstone National Park.”

“It’s good to see a Republican senator acknowledge such help, because it indicates that the positive, healthy incentives built into the system are working. Too often, Republicans have acted as if any cooperation with Democratic administrations was a mistake because it would tend to make the president more popular and, therefore, cost Republicans in the next election. Such effects in truth are pretty marginal. But it’s good for their constituents if Democratic administrations have incentives to govern well even in states they won’t carry in the next election.”

Politico: “Faced with a chorus of boos and a rebuke from the Texas GOP over the weekend, Cornyn got a taste of what the reaction could be on the right for Republicans who vote for the Senate’s bill designed to curb mass shootings in America. What’s more, on Monday evening the NRA announced opposition to the package crafted by a quartet of senators that includes Cornyn, whose A+ rating from the gun group is probably about to take a downgrade.”

“But becoming the face of the gun safety deal is a risk worth taking for the fourth-term Republican after a shooter killed 19 children and two teachers in his state.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told ABC News he had several concerns with President Biden’s proposal for a gas tax holiday and signaled he would not support it.  Said Manchin: “I’m not a yes right now, that’s for sure.”

Washington Post: “The notion of a gas tax holiday was met with instant criticism — not only from members of both parties on Capitol Hill, but even from many officials within the administration who said privately that it would probably do little to significantly lower gas prices.”

“Top Treasury Department officials expressed doubts about the gas tax holiday, and at least two top White House economists also privately conveyed reservations, according to two people familiar with the internal deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose sensitive conversations.”

Politico: “Biden’s break-glass moment on gas prices fell flat in the Capitol, with Democratic leaders keeping their distance and even those who support the idea privately wondering whether the White House has a longer-term plan. Even if the holiday had a chance of becoming law, lawmakers in Biden’s party say it’s far too limited a remedy.”

“A world economy already contending with raging inflation, stock-market turmoil and a grueling war is facing yet another threat: the unraveling of a massive housing boom,” Bloomberg reports.

“The soaring cost of food, gasoline and other staples is further complicating a fraught debate among President Biden and his closest advisers over whether to follow through on his campaign pledge to cancel thousands of dollars of student loan debt for tens of millions of people,” the New York Times reports.

“While Mr. Biden has signaled to Democratic lawmakers that he will probably move forward with some form of student loan relief, he is still pressing his team for details about the economic ramifications of wiping out $10,000 of debt for some — or all — of the nation’s 43 million federal student loan recipients.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) “signaled he’s open to extending enhanced subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, a move that would help Democrats avert a huge political threat in the November midterms from millions of people learning about spiking monthly premiums only weeks before casting ballots,” Insider reports.

“But he suggested that an extension of the program should be directed towards aiding lower-earning families.”

“The trial for five Proud Boys leaders — facing seditious conspiracy charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol — will be postponed until at least December, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, citing the ongoing publicity and uncertainty surrounding the Jan. 6 select committee,” Politico reports.

Wall Street Journal: “In a rare instance of agreement, prosecutors and defense lawyers in the case had asked for a postponement, saying they wanted to avoid a scenario in which the committee releases potentially relevant evidence mid-trial.”

New York Times: “It was perhaps inevitable that tensions would arise between the two investigations that are being conducted at the same time.”

The schools superintendent in Uvalde, Texas announced on Wednesday that Pete Arredondo, the embattled Uvalde schools police chief, had been placed on administrative leave amid investigations into his astonishingly feeble response to the mass shooting.

“Afghanistan was rocked by its deadliest earthquake in decades on Wednesday when a magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck the country’s east, killing more than 1,000 people and wounding many more,” CNN reports.

“A year after Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, his former chief of staff Mark Meadows released a tell-all book about his 10 months in the White House that promised to be a ‘frank, candid account’ of running Trump’s chaotic West Wing,” Politico reports.

“The buzz around it was heavy. But in the publishing world, it was a bust. The Chief’s Chief has sold only 21,569 books… And it’s not the only book by an ex-Trump aide that has failed to fly off the shelves.”

“The memoir of Deborah Birx, the Covid response coordinator under Trump, has sold fewer than 6,000 copies; Dr. Scott Atlas’ book sold 27,013 copies; Dr. Ben Carson’s book sold 21,786 copies; former White House press secretary turned Trump critic Stephanie Grisham sold 38,249 books; counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway has sold 42,273 books since it was published in late May; and former defense secretary Mark Esper sold 20,900 books.”

“Former attorney general Bill Barr sold 64,103 books. But the one Trump post-White House book sales that did best appears to be Peter Navarro’s, whose In Trump Time has sold 80,218 copies of his book so far.”

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) “is thinking about blowing up a bipartisan deal to extend school meals funding because of a Biden administration policy banning discrimination against LGBTQ students who participate in lunch programs that receive the money,” Politico reports.  “Democratic leaders are rushing to pass the legislation and get it to President Joe Biden’s desk before current funding runs out June 30, triggering a hunger cliff for millions of children.”

Nikkei Asia: “During the lockdown, children who tested positive for Covid-19 were separated from their parents; fences were installed to restrict people’s movement; pets whose owners tested positive were reportedly slaughtered by authorities; white-clad workers entered residents’ apartments to spray disinfectant without consent; and at least 200 individuals are believed to have died, not due to Covid, but due to lack of access to hospitals.”

“The outbreak was contained, if just barely. From Feb. 26 to June 15, Shanghai logged 58,098 positive cases and 588 Covid-related deaths… But while the lockdown officially ended on June 1, the psychological scars have yet to heal.”

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

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