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Cup of Joe – 7/22/22

The White House announced Thursday that President Joe Biden has tested positive for COVID-19. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre released the statement, stressing that the president “is fully vaccinated and twice boosted and experiencing very mild symptoms,” adding that he has begun taking Paxlovid. He was last tested on Tuesday and had a negative result.

He “will participate in his planned meetings at the White House this morning via phone and Zoom from the residence.”

“Consistent with White House protocol for positive COVID cases, which goes above and beyond CDC guidance, he will continue to work in isolation until he tests negative. Once he tests negative, he will return to in-person work.

Out of an abundance of transparency, the White House will provide a daily update on the President’s status as he continues to carry out the full duties of the office while in isolation.”

The January 6 Committee hearing tonight provided a moment-by-moment accounting of the 187 minutes between when the Capitol insurrection began to when Donald Trump released a video on Twitter finally urging the rioters to stand down.

Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) noted that previous hearings showed how Trump “commanded a mob — a mob he knew was heavily armed and angry and he made targets out of his own Vice President and the lawmakers gathered to do the people’s work.”

Tonight’s hearing amounted to a closing argument in the case the committee has made against Trump, accusing him of dereliction of duty for failing to call off the violent assault carried out in his name.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) opened the hearing with the bombshell that more witnesses have come forward and there will be more hearings in September.

Said Cheney, in a comment seemed aimed at Trump himself: “The dam has begun to break.”

The testimony presented was incredibly damning and showed what was happening inside the White House that day. Dozens of aides, lawmakers and even family members begged Trump to stop the rioters. But he refused.

Instead, Trump did what he often did: he sat and watched television.

Said Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL): “President Trump did not fail to act during the 187 minutes between leaving the Ellipse and telling the mob to go home. He chose not to act.”

The culmination of the testimony was that Trump was in control of the rioters from start to finish.

Once again, detailed testimony explained how close Vice President Mike Pence came to people who wanted to harm him. His own Secret Service agents feared for their lives and sent messages to their families in case they were killed.

Trump’s tweet at 2:24 p.m. attacking Pence was a “green light” for the crowd, according to former White House aide Sarah Matthews.

Said Matthews: “He was pouring gasoline on the fire.”

I’ve lost track of how many crimes were committed by Donald Trump in the days leading up to January 6.

But on that day it’s completely clear he violated his oath of office.

“One day after the last rioter had left the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, President Donald Trump’s advisers urged him to give an address to the nation to condemn the violence, demand accountability for those who had stormed the halls of Congress and declare the 2020 election to be decided,” the Washington Post reports.

“He struggled to do it. Over the course of an hour of trying to tape the message, Trump resisted holding the rioters to account, trying to call them patriots, and refused to say the election was over.”

There will never be a moment when I’m not enraged by what happened on January 6th. Tonight’s hearing was especially infuriating. There have to be consequences for Donald Trump. It’s imperative if our democracy is to continue. It’s necessary if we’re to remain a free nation.

Here are some of things we learned tonight:

  • Stunning video showed Trump refused to read a script prepared by his staff to call off the rioters.
  • Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone testified that Trump was the only one among those in the White House that day who didn’t want the mob cleared out of the Capitol.
  • Audio indicated rioters were parsing Trump’s tweet telling them not to harm the Capitol Police, but concluding “he didn’t say not to do anything to the congressman.”
  • Several Secret Service agents have retained private counsel to help them respond to inquiries from the committee.
  • Video showed Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) fleeing the Capitol after he was photographed riling up the crowd.
  • Jared Kushner testified that he believed Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called the White House because he was “scared” of the rioters.
  • Congressional leaders were shown in secure location talking to defense officials about clearing the building and resuming counting electoral votes.
  • Video showed Trump refusing to say “the election was over” just 24 hours after the Capitol attack.

One final thought: After learning how close former Vice President Mike Pence was to danger, it seems very important to hear from him. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pence is a witness when the hearings resume in September.

“The Jan. 6 committee plans to use its Thursday night hearing to call out insurrection-friendly lawmakers who cowered during the Capitol attack but have since downplayed the insurrection’s severity,” Rolling Stone reports.

Said one source: “They have plans to paint a really striking picture of how some of Trump’s greatest enablers of his coup plot were — no matter what they’re saying today — quaking in their boots and doing everything shy of crying out for their moms.”

The January 6 Committee subpoena of Phil Waldron, the retired colonel who was working with Donald Trump’s outside lawyers to overturn the 2020 presidential election, seeks some interesting information:

“All documents supporting the claim that Italian satellites were used to hack voting systems…”

“All documents supporting the claim that voting machines were manipulated through the use of smart thermostats controlled by the Chinese government…”

Daily Beast: “Trump’s latest Federal Election Commission report indicates that payments from his political committees to firms representing Jan. 6 witnesses are now approaching $2 million.”

“Some of those witnesses sat for interviews with the committee as the investigation was heating up this spring. And according to a disclosure filed last week, around that same time, Trump’s old campaign committee made a curious, and major, payment—a flat $1 million to a law firm called Elections, LLC.”

“Elections, LLC was founded by three Trump alums. Two of them have given testimony that the Jan. 6 panel aired in public videos, and the third has represented a star witness against the president—former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.”

“The chairman of the House Jan. 6 committee is out with Covid-19. So after giving opening remarks by video when the panel convenes its final scheduled prime-time hearing of the summer on Thursday night, he will turn the gavel over to Representative Liz Cheney. But for all intents and purposes, it has been the Liz Cheney show all along,” the New York Times reports.

“Through six weeks of televised hearings in this season of reckoning, she has emerged as the lead narrator and chief accuser, coaxing reluctant former officials to come forward, issuing stern warnings against witness tampering and drawing out the story one damning fact at a time to argue that former President Donald Trump betrayed the Constitution out of hunger for power.”

Said Cheney: “I believe this is the most important thing I’ve ever done professionally and maybe the most important thing I ever do.”

Joseph Cuffari, the inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security, found out all the way back in February that the Secret Service had deleted texts from Jan. 5 and 6, 2021–but he chose not to report it to Congress, according to the Washington Post.

Cuffari also reportedly didn’t put out a public alert his office had prepared in October 2021 reporting that the Secret Service was stonewalling his requests for records on the Jan. 6 attack.

Two whistleblowers who worked with Cuffari recently alerted the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) on the inspector general’s delay, according to the Post.

“The Department of Homeland Security inspector general has directed the Secret Service to stop its internal investigations into what happened to text messages related to January 6 that may have been deleted,” CNN reports.

“The inspector general wrote that the Secret Service should stop investigating the matter because it could interfere with the inspector general’s own investigation into what happened to the agency’s text messages.”

Josh Marshall: “The Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security has ordered the Secret Service to stop its internal investigations into its deleted text messages because it could interfere with his own investigation of what happened. I was wondering why this hadn’t happened yet frankly. Given the facts as we know them no Secret Service investigation would be credible. And it would be hard to have confidence that it would become a vehicle for destroying or covering up evidence about the data purge itself.

Questions over the destruction of data have now creeped into the Inspector General’s office itself. According to the Post, the IG’s office has known about the document destruction since February – five months ago – and failed to notify Congress despite the obvious centrality of the documents to the Jan 6th investigations. In October 2021 the office draw up a public alert accusing the Secret Service and other DHS agencies of stonewalling document requests tied to the Jan 6th investigation. But the alert was never sent out. These revelations come from two whistleblowers.”

“Republican and Democratic senators said Wednesday they expect a bill to codify same-sex marriage to eventually win the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster, a sign of growing public acceptance and a sea change over an issue that had once badly divided the two parties,” CNN reports.

“While most GOP senators are likely to vote against the bill, lawmakers in both parties believe there will be at least 10 Republicans who would join all 50 Democrats and advance the bill to a final up-or-down vote.”

Per CNN, here’s where Republican senators stand at the moment. Four GOP senators have said they support or are likely to support the bill:

  • Rob Portman (R-OH)
  • Susan Collins (R-ME)
  • Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
  • Thom Tillis (R-NC)

Eight GOP senators have said they oppose the bill:

  • Bill Cassidy (R-LA)
  • John Cornyn (R-TX)
  • Ted Cruz (R-TX)
  • Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
  • Josh Hawley (R-MO)
  • Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
  • Marco Rubio (R-FL)
  • Roger Wicker (R-MS)

The rest are either undecided or haven’t given a response yet.

“The House voted 228-195 largely along party lines Thursday to pass legislation to codify the right to contraception nationwide, seeking to protect it from potential Supreme Court intervention,” NBC News reports.

“Eight Republicans voted with all 220 Democrats on the bill. Two Republicans voted ‘present.’”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) called on President Biden to enter “executive Beast Mode” to address the climate crisis.

“The head of the US Central Intelligence Agency said Russia’s interest in buying drones from Iran for its war in Ukraine reveals the poor state of its military,” Bloomberg reports.

Said CIA Director William Burns: “They need each other, they don’t really trust each other, in the sense that they’re energy rivals and historical competitors. It’s important to remind ourselves that it’s a reflection, in some ways, of the deficiencies of Russia’s defense industry today, and the difficulties they’re having after significant losses so far in the war against Ukraine.”

The CIA says there is no intelligence that Russian president Vladimir Putin is unstable or in bad health, the BBC reports.

CNN on the status of the Hunter Biden investigation: “Discussions recently have centered around possibly bringing charges that could include alleged tax violations and making a false statement in connection with Biden’s purchase of a firearm at a time he would have been prohibited from doing so because of his acknowledged struggles with drug addiction…”

“The Justice Department investigation initially focused on Hunter Biden’s financial and business activities in foreign countries dating to when Joe Biden was vice president. But investigators have examined a swath of broader conduct, including whether Hunter Biden and associates violated money laundering, campaign finance, tax and foreign lobbying laws, as well as whether Hunter Biden broke federal firearm and other regulations.”

“As the investigation has entered its final stages, prosecutors have narrowed their focus to tax and gun-related charges.”

Fox News: “A source says officials are weighing possible charges for tax violations, foreign lobbying and false statements.”

CNN: “The amount of ice that melted in Greenland between July 15 and 17 alone – 6 billion tons of water per day – would be enough to fill 7.2 million Olympic-sized swimming pools.”

“Put another way, it was enough to cover the entire state of West Virginia with a foot of water.”

Live Science: “Solar winds from the snapping of a gigantic ‘canyon of fire’ filament on the sun are set to slam into the Earth today (July 20) or tomorrow (July 21), triggering a weak G1 geomagnetic storm.”

“Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi resigned on Thursday after his coalition imploded, setting up the country for a new era of political chaos at a critical time,” Axios reports.

The AP reports Draghi’s resignation sets up an early election as soon as late September or early October.

Eurointelligence: “This is well and truly the end of an era for Italy. A last-ditch attempt by Mario Draghi to assert himself against rebellious parties in his governing coalition has failed. Three of them, Five Star, Lega, and Forza Italia, abstained in a Senate confidence vote, allowing Draghi to win the vote, but depriving him of his majority.”

“Attorneys for Steve Bannon said Thursday that they will call no witnesses in the contempt trial of the former White House strategist, indicating that the case could be submitted to the jury later Thursday,” USA Today reports.

“Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had a message for Secretary of State Antony Blinken: Designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism — otherwise, Congress will,” Politico reports.

“The House Republican who led a tour of the Capitol complex on Jan. 5, 2021, that further fueled Democratic worries of pre-riot “reconnaissance” could end up leading the GOP’s investigation of the Jan. 6 select committee,” Politico reports.

“Rep. Barry Loudermilk found himself in the select panel’s crosshairs over his Jan. 5 tour, where participants took photos of stairwells and other elements of the Capitol complex not typically of interest to visitors. The Georgia Republican denied any connection between the tour and the following day’s riot — and he may get a chance to offer his side of the story with a gavel in hand if Republicans take back the House next year, as expected.”

“Michelle Obama will have a book out this fall, The Light We Carry, in which she reflects upon her experiences and shares insights on navigating an increasingly stressful world,” the AP reports.

“It’s the former first lady’s first entirely new work since the 2018 release of her acclaimed blockbuster Becoming, which has sold more than 17 million copies worldwide, surpassing the sales of any memoir by a previous first lady or modern president, including her husband, former President Barack Obama.”

Tom Nichols: “The conservatives, in any case, have become completely un-conservative. The traditional conservative emphasis on law and order and on limited government has not held the GOP’s theocratic-nutball wing in check. The same people who decried the growth of executive power now worship a sociopathic real-estate con man as a demigod. The party that prided itself on its national-security cred is now voting against admitting Sweden and Finland into NATO like some early–20th century isolationist know-nothings.”

“The White House is considering a major overhaul of its press and communications shop in the coming weeks, a staff shakeup that’s aimed at putting a new team in place to drive President Joe Biden’s message into November’s midterm elections and in the months after voters decide whether his party retains control of Congress,” NBC News reports.

“The effort to revamp the White House press operation comes as Biden has expressed frustration that his message isn’t breaking through to Americans and his approval ratings continue to hit new lows, while his aides prepare for him to seek re-election.”

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has appointed a historian to the state Board of Historic Resources who has defended the state’s Confederate monuments and condemned their destruction as a “dangerous” rewriting of history, the Washington Post reports.

“House Republicans are planning to bombard Joe Biden’s administration with investigations next year, from Hunter Biden to the border to the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Politico reports.

“As the GOP prepares for a likely takeover of the chamber next year, committee chairs-in-waiting have laid out a lengthy list of oversight goals that goes beyond Biden’s White House — including Democrats’ formation of the Jan. 6 select committee. But the party’s highest-profile targets are those with the potential to politically bruise the president ahead of 2024: his son’s business dealings, Afghanistan, the origins of the coronavirus, inflation causes and the U.S.-Mexico border.”

“The new communications director for the Republican Senate nominee in Nevada — a key state that could determine control in Washington — marched to the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, with two members of the far-right extremist group the Oath Keepers including one who was later charged with sedition,” CNN reports.

Recently, the emeritus Harvard law professor and Donald Trump impeachment lawyer has felt shunned at his usual haunts, the New Yorker reports.

“Members of the conservative Republican Study Committee thanked former Vice President Mike Pence for his actions on January 6 and encouraged him to run for President during a private meeting on Wednesday near the US Capitol in Washington,” CNN reports.

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

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