Delaware

Cup of Joe – 7/12/22

Punchbowl News: “The Jan. 6 select committee will hold its seventh hearing [today], focusing heavily on the violent mob that stormed the Capitol, how it was summoned to Washington by former President Donald Trump and the far-right extremists who coordinated the deadly attack on the Capitol.”

“The select committee won’t release the witnesses for tomorrow’s hearing until later today, but NBC reported that a former spokesperson for the Oath Keeper, a right-wing militia group, will testify.”

Politico: Meet the key players in the next January 6 Committee hearings.

“The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot is returning to prime time with a Thursday evening hearing that will examine the three-hour plus stretch when Donald Trump failed to act as a mob of supporters stormed the Capitol,” the AP reports.

With his trial on contempt of Congress charges set to begin next week, Steve Bannon set off a last-minute flurry of news reports and legal filings by claiming he was finally prepared to testify to the Jan. 6 Committee.

The Justice Department was having none of it, acidly remarking in a filing late Sunday night that Bannon’s offer was “not a genuine effort to meet his obligations but a last-ditch attempt to avoid accountability.”

Bannon, who has stonewalled the Jan. 6 committee for months, has said he will now testify, but the Justice Department noted that he has yet to produce any of the documents subpoenaed by the committee, putting him in only partial compliance with the committee’s demands. The Justice Department in a separate filing asked the court to reject Bannon’s request to delay the trial.

The Justice Department also dropped a little news in the filings: DOJ says that last month the FBI interviewed Trump lawyer Justin Clark, who claimed:

  • Trump had never asserted executive privilege over any particular information or materials to keep Bannon from testifying in the first place.
  • Clark never asked or was asked to attend Bannon’s deposition before the Jan. 6 committee.
  • Bannon’s attorney misrepresented to the Jan. 6 committee what Clark had him.
  • Clark made clear to Bannon’s attorney that a pivotal letter from Clark provided no basis for total noncompliance with the committee’s subpoena.

Bannon forwarded to the House Jan. 6 Committee a letter Trump had sent him on Saturday in which the ex-president said he would drop his “executive privilege” claim if the committee agreed to certain conditions. Bannon’s exact demands aren’t clear, but his letter reportedly hinted at wanting to testify publicly.

“A judge said Monday that he would not delay the contempt of Congress trial of Steve Bannon, just one week before it is set to begin,” NBC News reports.

The committee ain’t gonna go for a public hearing with Bannon. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) said on Sunday that the panel wants to get all their questions answered, “and you can’t do that in a live format.”

Ex-White House chief counsel Pat Cipollone sat in for transcribed, videotaped testimony with the House Jan. 6 Committee for eight hours on Friday. It was a private session, so the only information we’ve got on his testimony right now has come from committee members and reports from outlets like CNN and the New York Times.

A Fulton County judge has ordered Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to testify in front of a special grand jury looking into possible election tampering by Donald Trump in the November 2020 election, Yahoo News reports.

Graham is being asked to testify, in part because of two phone calls he made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) to ask him to reexamine “certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump.”

“In the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes tried to get the organization’s general counsel, Kellye SoRelle, to put him in touch with the White House,” NBC News reports.

“In addition to her work with the Oath Keepers, SoRelle was a volunteer for Lawyers for Trump during the 2020 election and was in contact with many of the individuals fighting a doomed legal battle to attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election and keep former President Donald Trump in office.”

Andrew Weissmann: “The hearings should inspire the Justice Department to rethink its approach: A myopic focus on the Jan. 6 riot is not the way to proceed if you are trying to follow the facts where they lead and to hold people ‘at any level’ criminally accountable, as Attorney General Merrick Garland promised.”

“The evidence gathered in the hearings describes a multiprong conspiracy — what prosecutors term a ‘hub and spoke’ conspiracy — in which the Ellipse speech by President Trump and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol were just one spoke of a grander scheme.”

“This broader approach would avoid the thorny debate that has emerged as to whether Mr. Trump could be criminally culpable for inciting the riot during his Ellipse speech, or if, on the contrary, his speech is protected under the First Amendment and the evidence too ambiguous to justify the extraordinary step of indicting a former president. Building a criminal case that looks solely at the riot itself is far more complex legally and factually for those who weren’t at or in the Capitol. These challenges of the current bottom-up approach have led to criticism of the slow pace of the narrow Justice Department approach.”

“Instead, what the hearings have revealed is evidence of a plot orchestrated by Mr. Trump and his allies in the White House and elsewhere — including players from the Mueller investigation like Roger Stone, Michael Flynn and Rudy Giuliani as well as new players like Jeffrey Clark and John Eastman.”

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) was “sobbing” as he watched the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol unfold on television, a new book reports,” according to CNN.  Ryan said he’s not much of a crier, but “something snapped in him” as he watched the Capitol attack.

New York Times: “At Ms. Hutchinson’s deposition the next day, committee members investigating the attack on the Capitol were so alarmed by what they considered a clear case of witness tampering — not to mention Ms. Hutchinson’s shocking account of President Donald Trump’s behavior on Jan. 6, 2021 — that they decided in a meeting on June 24, a Friday, to hold an emergency public hearing with Ms. Hutchinson as the surprise witness the following Tuesday.”

“The speed, people close to the committee said, was for two crucial reasons: Ms. Hutchinson was under intense pressure from Trump World, and panel members believed that getting her story out in public would make her less vulnerable, attract powerful allies and be its own kind of protection. The committee also had to move fast, the people said, to avoid leaks of some of the most explosive testimony ever heard on Capitol Hill.”

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline is now $4.68, according to AAA, down from $5 a month ago. 

The latest talking point from Fox News is that gas prices are coming down so quickly that it might hurt the independent “Mom and Pop” gas stations.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) told CNN he would fire Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to help the economy because she “completely misled America” and avoided informing Americans about inflation and the “bad news.”

Jonathan Chait: “Unlike the Eisenhower-era Republican Party, and unlike the conservative parties in every other democratic country, the conservative movement never accepted the democratic legitimacy of the welfare state. Conservatives considered the ability of majorities to vote for economic redistribution a threat to liberty and placed the preservation of liberty (as they defined it) above democracy. And so, while Trump’s almost feral contempt for democracy and the rule of law represented a unique threat, the longer-term danger to the Republic was the institutional power of a movement that had never truly made its peace with democratic principles.”

“DeSantis is a flawless sample of this belief system. The conservative argument that democracy is dangerous lies so close to his heart that he wrote an entire book dedicated to the precept that ‘when the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.’”

Health officials in Shanghai announced on Sunday that they have discovered a new COVID-19 subvariant, Omicron BA.5.2.1, Reuters reports.

Washington Post: “The latest omicron offshoot, BA.5, has quickly become dominant in the United States, and thanks to its elusiveness when encountering the human immune system, is driving a wave of cases across the country.”

“The size of that wave is unclear because most people are testing at home or not testing at all. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the past week has reported a little more than 100,000 new cases a day on average. But infectious-disease experts know that wildly underestimates the true number, which may be as many as a million.”

“President Joe Biden said Sunday he is considering declaring a public health emergency to free up federal resources to promote abortion access even though the White House has said it doesn’t seem like ‘a great option,’” the AP reports.

“Such a move has been pushed by advocates, but White House officials have questioned both its legality and effectiveness, and noted it would almost certainly face legal challenges.”

New York Times: “For companies anchored in economically vibrant conservative states like Texas, Tennessee and Georgia, the rollback of women’s rights is no longer a hypothetical scenario but an immediate challenge. It represents a potential disruption to the calculus that has made Republican-led Sun Belt states a draw for big companies, which have tended to embrace the reduced taxes and regulations while treating local social policy as something of a sideshow.”

“That bargain may have grown more difficult in states that have imposed punitive abortion restrictions, banning the procedure altogether or limiting it nearly to the point of elimination.”

“The opposition to abortion that unified Republicans for a generation is poised to disintegrate, with internecine battles arising over how far the party should go with laws affecting when a woman can terminate her pregnancy,” the Washington Examiner reports.

“Some red states have settled on bans at 15 weeks with exceptions for rape and incest; others at conception with carve-outs only to preserve the mother’s life, sparking anxiety among veteran Republican strategists that the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, long sought-after by the GOP, could mark a new era of treacherous infighting.”

“And with Republican lawmakers in some legislatures mulling onerous regulations to prevent women from crossing state lines to obtain an abortion where the procedure remains legal, those worries are extending to a new battlefront: 2024. Party professionals concede Democrats could wield Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization as a bludgeon against their next presidential nominee.”

“Russia’s State Duma Chairman, Vyacheslav Volodin, announced an emergency session Monday, calling back Russian lawmakers for an ‘extraordinary’ meeting just as representatives went out for summer vacation, raising alarm that Russia’s parliament might be preparing to take escalatory steps in the war in Ukraine,” the Daily Beast reports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday extending a simplified process for obtaining Russian citizenship to all Ukrainians, Axios reports.

New York Times: “U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss strategy deliberations, are urging the Ukrainians to consolidate their forces at the front. But Ukraine’s leaders want to go further and mass enough personnel to mount a counteroffensive to retake territory, a goal that American officials support in theory even if they are dubious about the Ukrainians’ capacity to dislodge the Russians. President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine told Group of 7 leaders last week that he wanted the war over by the end of the year. But there are serious doubts in Washington about whether that is possible militarily.”

“The Biden administration does not want to be seen pressuring Mr. Zelensky to negotiate a deal with the Kremlin at the risk of rewarding armed aggression, but officials and analysts said it would be hard to sustain the same level of material support as war fatigue grows on both sides of the Atlantic. Military aid passed by Congress is expected to last into the second quarter of next year, by some estimates, but the question is how long current supplies of weapons and ammunition can last without degrading the military readiness of the United States.”

“American officials have encouraged other countries to provide leftover stores of Soviet-made weaponry that Ukrainians are more familiar with — an item on Mr. Biden’s agenda for a trip to the Middle East next week, when he is scheduled to meet with leaders of Arab states that were once clients of Moscow.”

“The White House said it believes Russia is turning to Iran to provide it with ‘hundreds’ of unmanned aerial vehicles, including weapons-capable drones, for use in its ongoing war in Ukraine,” the AP reports.

“Congress returns on Monday with Democrats aiming to revive central pieces of President Biden’s stalled economic agenda while trying to keep on track a separate, bipartisan bill targeted at boosting competitiveness with China that top Republicans are threatening to block,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“House Democrats also are set to roll out legislation responding to the Supreme Court ruling ending federal abortion protections. The push could include legislation to write into law the right to an abortion before fetal viability, as well as a bill intended to block any state attempts to criminalize travel for the purpose of getting an abortion. The bills wouldn’t have enough support to pass the Senate.”

“Senate Democrats are redoubling their efforts to finalize a new spending package that could lower health-care costs and combat climate change, hoping to hammer out a long-elusive deal with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and bring it to the chamber floor later this month,” the Washington Post reports.

“A new sense of optimism — and urgency — has set in among party lawmakers nearly seven months after their last attempt to pass a sweeping bill ended in stunning defeat. Piece by piece, Democratic leaders in recent days have started reconstructing their economic ambitions as they race to deliver on a staple element of President Biden’s agenda before the midterm elections in November.”

“So far, top Democrats have worked out with Manchin new agreements that would cut drug costs for seniors, improve the financial health of Medicare and close a tax loophole that benefits the wealthy. They even have advanced talks around addressing the challenges posed by a faster-warming planet, raising the prospect that they can secure a limited initiative to penalize methane emissions.”

Three absences from the U.S. Senate — Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) — “threatened to upend Democrats’ plans for a productive July in the evenly divided Senate, and were the latest reminders that the party’s bare-minimum majority is exceedingly precarious,” the New York Times reports.

Schumer’s office announced he has tested positive for Covid-19  and “has very mild symptoms.”

Punchbowl News: “Now this leads to an interesting situation. The Senate is supposed to be voting this week on the nomination of Steven Dettelbach to serve as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. There hasn’t been a Senate-confirmed ATF director since 2015, and the White House and Democratic leaders would like to get Dettelbach in place.”

“GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Rob Portman voted with all 50 Democrats to discharge the nomination from the Senate Judiciary Committee, giving Dettelbach more than enough votes for confirmation. Schumer was going to schedule a cloture vote on Dettelbach’s nomination as early as Tuesday, with final passage to follow.”

“However, Schumer and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) are out. Leahy fell on June 29 and broke his hip. The 82-year-old Vermont Democrat underwent hip replacement surgery and is rehabbing.”

With a 50-50 Senate, Democrats can’t afford to have any senator absent for an extended period.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) slammed the reinvigorated Democratic push for social spending and climate change legislation and said moving forward with that bill would paralyze the chamber, Politico reports.

Said McConnell: “Democrats have already picked the American people’s pocket once. And now their solution is to pick your pockets a second time. First with inflation. And now with tax hikes… Now is a terrible, terrible time to paralyze the Senate by trying to tax us into recession on a partisan basis.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg defended abortion rights protesters who gathered outside of a restaurant where Justice Brett Kavanaugh was dining, saying they were exercising their right to free speech.

The new British prime minister is expected to be announced after a leadership election on September 5, the BBC reports.

President Biden uncharacteristically slammed Republicans on Twitter last night: “Republicans are doing nothing but obstructing our efforts to crack down on gas-price gouging, lower food prices, lower healthcare costs, and hopefully, soon, lower your prescription drug costs.”

“This is not right. And that’s why this election is going to be so darn important.”

“When President Biden leaves Tuesday night for a four-day swing through the Middle East, he will presumably be more rested than he would have been had he followed the original plan,” the New York Times reports.

“The trip was initially tacked onto another journey last month to Europe, which would have made for an arduous 10-day overseas trek until it became clear to Mr. Biden’s team that such extended travel might be unnecessarily taxing for a 79-year-old president, or ‘crazy,’ as one official put it.”

“I am here to sound the alarm about a psychopath, killer, in the Middle East with infinite resources, who poses threat to his people, to the Americans and to the planet.” — Saad Aljabri, the former second in command of Saudi intelligence, talking about Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman in a 60 Minutes interview.

Jonathan Bernstein: “There’s a lot of babble out there about this — a lot of false claims that he’s sharply declined cognitively — but putting that aside, there are two ways to look at the fact that he will turn 80 in November. One is that as long as Biden is unpopular, everything about him is going to be interpreted as a negative, including his age. If he was at 60% approval instead of falling a bit below 40%, the age story would be that he is defying it and thriving.”

“But yes, Biden is very old for the presidency, and even if it’s not affecting him in any serious way right now, there’s no guarantee that it won’t next month or next year. Let alone the four years that a second term would give him. And the truth is that not only was nominating Biden in 2020 a risk for Democrats, so was nominating Hillary Clinton in 2016 — she’ll turn 75 this fall, in what would have been the second year of her second term — just as it was a bad risk for Republicans to nominate Donald Trump, who just turned 76, in 2016 and 2020. Once those candidates are nominated, party voters have little choice but to vote for them, but the parties shouldn’t do it.”

“I do feel it’s inappropriate to seek that office after you’re 80 or in your 80s… I have just turned 80 and I have found over the last two or three years I think it would have been unwise for me to try to run any organization. You’re not quite as sharp as you once were.”  — David Gergen, quoted by the New York Times.

New York Times: “U.S. officials have latched on to a never-before-tried plan aimed at depressing global oil prices — one that would complement European sanctions and allow critical flows of Russian crude onto global markets to continue but at a steeply discounted price…”

“The potential for another oil shock to puncture the global economy, and perhaps Mr. Biden’s re-election prospects, has driven the administration’s attempts to persuade government and business leaders around the world to sign on to a global price cap on Russian oil.”

“It is a novel and untested effort to force Russia to sell its oil to the world at a steep discount. Administration officials and Mr. Biden say the goal is twofold: to starve Moscow’s oil-rich war machine of funding and to relieve pressure on energy consumers around the world who are facing rising fuel prices.”

Just Security debunks the nonsensical idea that Donald Trump “really believed” he had won the election.

Los Angeles Times: “The problem isn’t lack of evidence. The former Trump aides who have testified before the House committee and been interviewed by the FBI have taken care of that.”

“The problem, Rosenzweig and other former prosecutors said, is that convincing a jury that Trump is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt will still be difficult — especially when the former president, armed with good lawyers, can challenge that evidence.”

Former President Donald Trump told a rally that Elon Musk is “not going to buy Twitter and he’s a bullshit artist.” Takes one to know one.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL) “sounded cool on Monday to the prospects of confirming Chad Meredith — the GOP lawyer who’s reportedly under consideration to join the federal bench in Kentucky,” Politico reports.

“Durbin described the potential nomination as challenging for Democrats, given Meredith’s previous work defending abortion restrictions.”

Said Durbin: “Imagine how controversial it would be within the Democratic caucus.”

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

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