Cup of Joe – 7/18/22

“A House committee’s prime-time hearing Thursday will offer the most compelling evidence yet of then-President Donald Trump’s ‘dereliction of duty’ on the day of the Jan. 6 insurrection, with new witnesses detailing his failure to stem an angry mob storming the Capitol,“ the AP reports.

Said Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL): “This is going to open people’s eyes in a big way. The president didn’t do anything.”

“The committee says it continues to receive fresh evidence each day and isn’t ruling out additional hearings or interviews with a bevy of additional people close to the president.”

“The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is planning to return to prime time on Thursday for what could be the finale of its summer hearing schedule: a session focused on former President Donald Trump’s 187 minutes of inaction as a mob of his supporters assaulted Congress,” the New York Times reports.

“The hearing, scheduled for 8 p.m. on July 21, is expected to give a detailed account of how Mr. Trump resisted multiple entreaties from staffers, lawyers and even his own family to call off the attack, which raged for hours in the early afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021.”

“The House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, has issued a subpoena to the US Secret Service, marking the first time the panel has publicly done so for an executive branch agency,” CNN reports.

Politico: “The subpoena, directed at agency director James Murray — who is retiring later this month — demands the production of records by July 19.”

“Members of the House’s Jan. 6 committee said Sunday that they expect the Secret Service to meet the Tuesday deadline for providing to the panel the reportedly deleted text messages that agents sent around the Capitol riot,” USA Today reports.

“The most exhaustive report yet on the May 24 mass shooting inside a Uvalde, Tex., elementary school spread blame across every law enforcement agency responding to the attack, faulting local police for mistakes and more experienced agencies for failing to take charge,” the Washington Post reports.

“Nearly 400 local, state and federal law enforcement officers were at the scene that day, including 91 state troopers — none of whom took the initiative to lead the response.”

Texas Tribune: “The 77-page report provides a damning portrayal of a family unable to recognize warning signs, a school district that had strayed from strict adherence to its safety plan and a police response that disregarded its own active-shooter training.”

“Amos Hochstein, a senior state department adviser for energy security, said on Sunday that he expects gas prices in the U.S. to fall to $4 per gallon,” Axios reports.

Washington Post: “Drivers relieved by the recent dip in gas prices may be in for a shock when the summer winds down, with energy analysts warning a fresh round of price surges could emerge as soon as October.”

“The prospect of a new gas price jolt coinciding with midterm elections has the White House and many Democrats on edge.”

“The price concerns are tied to the timeline for stricter sanctions on Russia that will further choke the global oil supply. J.P. Morgan has warned that in a worst-case scenario — in which Russia retaliates by shutting down its supply altogether — the price of oil could jump to $380 per barrel, more than triple what it is today.”

Wall Street Journal: “Over the past year, wage increases have continued to exceed prepandemic levels, with year-over-year growth topping 4% each month.”

“But those steady gains have been wiped out by high prices. When taking inflation into account, there hasn’t been a single month with year-over-year earnings growth since March 2021.”

“Federal Reserve officials have signaled they are likely to raise interest rates by 0.75 percentage point later this month, for the second straight meeting, as part of an aggressive effort to combat high inflation,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Policy makers left the door open to a larger, full-percentage-point increase at the July 26-27 gathering. But some of them simultaneously poured cold water on the idea in recent interviews and public comments ahead of their premeeting quiet period, which began Saturday.”

New York Times: “During his painful encounters with a series of Arab strongmen here in Saudi Arabia this weekend, President Biden kept returning to a single reason for renewing his relationship with American allies who fall on the wrong side of the struggle he often describes as a battle between ‘democracy and autocracy.’”

Said Biden: “We will not walk away and leave a vacuum to be filled by China, Russia or Iran. And we’ll seek to build on this moment with active, principled American leadership.”

“Mr. Biden’s framing of America’s mission as part of a renewed form of superpower competition was revealing. For decades, American presidents largely saw the Middle East as a hotbed of strife and instability, a place the United States needed a presence largely to keep oil flowing and eliminate terrorist havens. Now, more than 20 years after a group of Saudis left this country to stage terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and strike the Pentagon, Mr. Biden is driven by a new concern: That his forced dance with dictators, while distasteful, is the only choice if his larger goal is to contain Russia and outmaneuver China.”

Wall Street Journal: Biden bets on “long game” in bid to reset Saudi ties.

“President Biden exchanged the shaken fist for a fist bump on Friday as he abandoned his promise to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” and sat down with the crown prince he deemed responsible for the grisly killing and dismemberment of a columnist who lived in the United States,” the New York Times reports.

“In the most fraught foreign visit of his presidency to date, Mr. Biden’s encounter with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave the de facto Saudi leader a measure of the international rehabilitation he sought, while securing steps toward closer relations with Israel and an unannounced understanding that the kingdom would soon pump more oil to relieve high gas prices at home.”

“Mr. Biden’s discomfort was palpable as he avoided a handshake with the prince in favor of a fist bump that in the end proved no less problematic politically.”

CNN: “Senior administration officials on Saturday defended Biden’s decision to meet with MBS face-to-face, despite the fierce pushback and criticism, saying it would have been ‘backsliding if the president didn’t come to the region and it would be backsliding if he didn’t and wasn’t willing to sit and raise human rights concerns with foreign leaders around the world.’”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that he believes the Supreme Court was “clearly wrong” when it decided in a historic 2015 ruling that same-sex marriage was legal under the Constitution, Newsweek reports.

New York Times: “The evidence that a climate crisis is well underway appears to be everywhere: the Great Salt Lake in Utah drying up, severe weather regularly imperiling the electric grid in Texas, wildfires scorching the drought-plagued West, ‘climate refugees’ seeking higher land in Louisiana and tidal floods swamping the streets of Miami.”

“Still, just 1 percent of voters in a recent New York Times/Siena College poll named climate change as the most important issue facing the country, far behind worries about inflation and the economy. Even among voters under 30, the group thought to be most energized by the issue, that figure was 3 percent.”

Wall Street Journal: Senate climate setback puts pressure on Biden.

Washington Post: “For the moment, Schumer has not indicated the path forward in the Senate, where work remains underway to prepare critical portions of the spending package for floor consideration. Democrats are set to confront the impasse directly at their private weekly lunch on Tuesday, two other people familiar with the matter said. They are expected to try to devise a strategy in the wake of Manchin’s demands, the aide said, at a time when tensions are running high.”

“At the White House, meanwhile, top aides to Biden already had grown dismayed and cynical about the negotiations. Only seven months earlier, the last attempt at a grand bargain around an economic package ended in public acrimony, with Manchin and the White House trading sharp barbs over who was to blame for collapse in talks.”

Said one White House adviser: “This is how the White House has always feared this would end. It really is a stunning turnaround from the dreams of a Green New Deal to this.”

“He has sabotaged the president’s agenda.” — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), quoted by Politico, about Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

“For a full year Democrats have tried to divine what Sen. Joe Manchin would say yes to, beginning with private huddles last fall at the White House to more recent Zooms with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer(D-NY),” the Washington Post reports.

“They seem to have all made the same mistake: Hearing the nice tones that the West Virginia Democrat said in their private meetings, while dismissing his pessimistic comments in public as standard negotiating ploys.”

“Instead, Manchin is the odd politician whose public pronouncements, whether in brief Capitol hallway interviews or in detailed prepared statements, carry more weight than whatever he tells his colleagues in private.”

“The White House is abandoning plans to nominate a Kentucky lawyer who opposes abortion rights and is backed by Senator Mitch McConnell to a federal court seat, citing opposition from Senator Rand Paul, Mr. McConnell’s home-state colleague,” the New York Times reports.

“The resistance from Mr. McConnell’s fellow Republican marked a new twist over a potential nomination that had prompted outrage on the left. Democrats were incensed that President Biden’s team had agreed to advance a conservative chosen by Mr. McConnell to fill a district court vacancy as the party is stepping up its focus on countering new abortion restrictions.”

“House Republicans are plotting revenge on the select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection, as the GOP weighs a broader effort to re-litigate some of Donald Trump’s biggest election grievances if it recaptures the House majority,” CNN reports.

“Republicans have already asked the January 6 panel to preserve a broad range of documents in its possession — a signal they’re preparing to force those records to be turned over should they wield powerful committee gavels next year. And privately, Republican sources say there have been discussions about subpoenaing members of the select committee, particularly Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who is fighting an uphill battle for reelection, and retiring Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, if both Republicans are private citizens next year.”

“The role of William Olson in advising the president in late 2020, which has not previously been disclosed, shows how fringe figures were influencing him at a critical time,” the New York Times reports.

“The involvement of a person like Mr. Olson, who now represents the conspiracy theorist and MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell, underscores how the system that would normally insulate a president from rogue actors operating outside of official channels had broken down within weeks after the 2020 election.”

“That left Mr. Trump in direct contact with people who promoted conspiracy theories or questionable legal ideas, telling him not only what he wanted to hear, but also that they — not the public servants advising him — were the only ones he could trust.”

“The Justice Department is adding prosecutors and resources to its investigation into the actions of former President Donald Trump’s allies to overturn the 2020 election, as the related congressional hearings have turbocharged interest in Mr. Trump’s own role in that effort,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“A Justice Department team focusing on elements of the investigation beyond the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, has in recent weeks been given more personnel, office space and an expanded mandate.”

“Federal prosecutors are asking that Jan. 6 rioter Guy Reffitt, who was the first Jan. 6 defendant to go to trial earlier this year, receive a 15-year prison sentence,” Axios reports.

“Reffitt carried a gun onto Capitol grounds and interfered with the police line during the riot. He also threatened to harm his son and daughter when he returned to Texas if they turned him in to the FBI.”

“Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) on Sunday said he saw little value in attempting to have Donald Trump testify before the committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol because he did not trust the former president would tell the truth, even under oath,” The Hill reports.

Said Trump: “Donald Trump has made it clear that he doesn’t mind not telling the truth. Let’s just put that mildly. He lies all the time. I wouldn’t put it past him to even lie under oath, so I’m not sure what the value is there.”

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