Cup of Joe – 7/23/22

“Stephen Bannon, a former top adviser to President Donald Trump, was convicted on Friday of two counts of contempt of Congress, months after he had defied a subpoena to answer questions from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol,” the New York Times reports.

“The jury deliberated for less than three hours.”

Washington Post: “The trial, which lasted a week and only featured two witnesses, tested a rarely-used criminal statute meant to ensure that people comply with congressional subpoenas. Earlier this month as he prepared for trial, Bannon had vowed to go ‘medieval’ on his enemies. But most of his legal arguments were rejected by the trial judge, and Bannon ended up calling no witnesses.”

Wall Street Journal: “He will be sentenced at a later hearing and faces a minimum sentence of 30 days and a maximum of one year in prison for each count.”

Bannon is the first to be found guilty for contempt of Congress since Attorney General Richard Kleindienst and Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy in 1974.

The House on Thursday approved the Right To Contraception Act, legislation that would enshrine the right to obtain contraception into federal law, by a 228-195 vote, with all Democrats and eight Republicans voting “yes.”

The GOP votes came from: 

  • Liz Cheney (R-WY) 
  • Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) 
  • Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) 
  • Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) 
  • John Katko (R-NY) 
  • Nancy Mace (R-SC) 
  • Maria Salazar (R-FL) 
  • Fred Upton (R-MI)

Two Republicans voted “present”: 

  • Bob Gibbs (R-OH) 
  • Mike Kelly (R-PA)

Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) have already introduced the Senate version of the bill. We don’t know yet if it has enough support to make it past the filibuster, though.

As he was walking on an elevator, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said that a vote on a bill to codify same-sex marriage was a “stupid waste of time,” CNN reports.

“But when he said that, there was another senator on the elevator who heard him: Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the Wisconsin Democrat who is also the first known gay politician elected to the U.S. Senate.”

As Baldwin recounted: “You probably would have loved to be on the elevator to see the exchange after.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), perhaps the most vulnerable Republican senator facing reelection this year, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he would vote for a bill protecting same-sex marriage. 

Said Johnson: “Even though I feel the Respect for Marriage Act is unnecessary, should it come before the Senate, I see no reason to oppose it.”

“Secret Service investigators were scrutinizing the phones of 10 Secret Service personnel that contained metadata showing text messages were sent and received around January 6, 2021, but were not retained,” CNN reports.

“Investigators had been working to determine whether the content of the text messages sent by the 10 personnel contained relevant information that should have been preserved… Among the 24 Secret Service personnel under scrutiny, 10 other Secret Service personnel had no text messages, and three had only personal records.”

“The Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog has opened a criminal investigation into the destruction of Secret Service phone text messages related to the days around the Jan. 6 Capitol riot,” CNBC reports.

Mark Pomerantz, a former special New York prosecutor who quit a criminal investigation of Donald Trump after his boss declined to lodge charges, told The Cutting Edge podcast that if Trump “had been Joe Blow from Kokomo, we would have indicted without a big debate.”

He added: “I believe that Donald Trump, in fact, was guilty and, second, that there was sufficient evidence as a matter of law to have sustained a guilty verdict if we went forward.”

Josh Marshall: “One of the most resonant moments was in the outtakes not of the Jan. 6th video message but the one the next day on Jan. 7th. Now everyone has been cleared from the Capitol and the aim (in his staffers’ minds at least) is to record a video about reconciliation, declaring the election over and promising an orderly transition of power. As on-again, off-again aide Jason Miller put it in his taped testimony, on “peaceful” … well, that ship had already sailed. We see outtakes of that Jan. 7th video address and it’s the voice of daughter Ivanka we hear off camera trying to help him through it. He’s delicate and it’s clear his handlers know only she could manage the moment for him. He keeps snapping, snapping in anger. He’s not getting the lines quite right and they’re lines he doesn’t want to say. He’s editing them in real time, trying to bully them into conformance with his Big Lie. In what’s now the headline quote he insists, “I don’t want to say the election is over.”

What stuck with me is that I don’t remember seeing that kind of anger from Trump before. I can’t really remember it once. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen Trump angry. In many ways it’s his core emotive tenor. I’ve seen him channeling anger, malevolence, predation, violence. But this is different. This is clench your teeth and bang your hand on the lectern before you’re able to regain your composure anger. And that is the key. It’s the emotional register of someone who is out of control, dominated by events rather than dominating them. I’m sure it happens often enough. We’ve heard about it before. But he and his handlers are clearly keen to keep it off camera. That kind of powerlessness — losing — is difficult for everyone. But you can see in those Jan. 7th outtakes and we’ve really always known that for Donald Trump it amounts to a kind of psychic death. No wonder he needed his beloved daughter tending to him in those moments.”

“You know, you’re the commander in chief… You’ve got an assault going on on the Capitol of the United States of America, and there’s nothing? No call? Nothing? Zero?”  — Gen. Mark Milley’s testimony, expressed with astonishment, that President Trump refused to defend the Capitol on January 6.

The January 6 Committee hearings have been brilliant.

Using testimony almost exclusively from Republicans, the committee has focused the narrative on how Donald Trump and his allies worked to undermine our democracy, while also filling in many relevant and fascinating new details of what happened leading up to that day.

The hearings have also done a wonderful job trolling Trump and his defenders. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) was shown on security cameras running from the Capitol just after he riled up the crowd raising his fist “in solidarity” with them. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was described in testimony as “scared.” And Trump himself was mocked by showing outtakes as he fumbled through recording video messages.

As Rick Wilson commented last night: “I don’t know who put that Hawley hit out, but right now his tiny tiny testicles are a hood ornament on Liz Cheney‘s SUV.”

These hearings have shown Cheney collecting them from “50, 60, 70-year old men” like her constituents collect antlers.

Importantly, this comic humor has kept the public’s attention focused on the crimes without taking away from the seriousness of the hearings.

They have also caught Trump’s attention, as Jonathan Bernstein explains:

Perhaps he would be focused on 2020, anyway. But surely the committee is helping fix his attention there. That means that Trump has been attacking Cheney and the Republican witnesses, which doesn’t do Republicans trying to win the 2022 midterms any good. It probably makes the case that Trump is yesterday’s news more compelling (even though, as we learned in the wobbly outtakes from a Trump statement recorded on Jan. 7, 2021, Trump finds “yesterday” a hard word to say). With the conditions otherwise excellent for a strong Republican midterm performance in November, the hearings are a good reminder of how disruptive Trump can be for his own party.

With Cheney likely to lose her seat in a Republican primary next month, she’s now all in on making sure Trump never becomes president again.

From her closing statement: “Can a president who was willing to make the choices Donald Trump made during the violence of January 6 ever be trusted with any position of authority in our great nation again?”

These hearings are likely helping convince many Americans. And they may end up convincing Attorney General Merrick Garland to seek criminal indictments of Trump.

But if they do not and Trump somehow becomes the Republican nominee in 2024, don’t be surprised to see Cheney launch an independent bid with the sole purpose of blocking him.

Charlie Sykes: “As Capitol police battled rioters, Secret Service agents feared for their lives, and legislators fled to safety, the President of the United States sat in his dining room and refused pleas to call it off. For hours, he watched television, never once calling the Defense Department, the D.C. National Guard, or anyone else in law enforcement.”

“Instead he dialed senators urging them to delay the certification of the presidential vote. And amidst the height of the chaos and the terror, he inflamed the mob he had sent by sending out a tweet attacking his own vice president.”

“Please let all of that settle in.”

“Trump didn’t call off the mob, because it was doing precisely what he wanted; and he was using the delay caused by the attack to lobby his allies to help execute his coup. Only when it was apparent that the assault on the Capitol had failed, did he bother to call off his Insurrection. And, as we saw on his ‘blooper reel’ last night, he refused to say that the election was over, even after the violence, and after the congressional vote to certify Joe Biden’s victory.”

Wall Street Journal: “‘The case against Donald Trump, in these hearings, is not made by witnesses who are his political enemies,’ said Rep. Liz Cheney, the committee’s vice chair, at the close of the hearing, the eighth and last of the current series. ‘It is instead a series of confessions by Donald Trump’s own appointees, his own friends, his own campaign officials, people who worked for him for years, and his own family.’

New York Times: “Through a range of witness testimonies, the committee demonstrated that Mr. Trump never reached out to the heads of any law enforcement or national security department or agency in the government to seek help in responding to quell the violence. Fox News footage, which Mr. Trump was watching from his dining room, showed how the Capitol Police were under siege, massively outmanned and struggling to repel the crowd. But the president remained unmoved.”

Playbook: “A year and a half later, and we are still learning new things about Jan. 6 — and almost all of the revelations strengthen the case that the Jan. 6 committee has been building about Donald Trump’s (perhaps criminal) culpability that day. Merrick Garland has a lot to think about after last night.”

Jonathan Chait: “The idea that Trump is harming himself is passed off as an undeniable fact. And it is almost certainly true that Trump’s election conspiracies are harmful to the interests of the Republican Party. People loyal to the party are trying very hard to convince Trump that it is also harmful to him. And yet, if you think carefully about it, Trump seems to be wise to ignore the advice pouring in from his party.”

“Enormous mental energy, and innumerable visits to small-town diners, have been invested into the mystery of the Republican base’s attachment to Trump. The answer I find most persuasive, and which also explains his behavior, is that Trump sold himself as a fighter and a winner. The conservative media spent years convincing its audience that the Republican Party was led by weaklings who were allowing the country to be stolen from them by a truthless enemy. Trump, by virtue of his lack of virtue, would smite them. Conceding that he lost the election would destroy his core attribute.”

Axios has a shocking report laying out a detailed plan Trump and his cronies are currently hammering out in which the ex-president, if reelected to the White House, would expel what could be thousands of career employees in the federal government to replace them with MAGA loyalists.

“Former President Trump’s top allies are preparing to radically reshape the federal government if he is re-elected, purging potentially thousands of civil servants and filling career posts with loyalists to him and his ‘America First’ ideology,“ Axios reports.

“The impact could go well beyond typical conservative targets such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Internal Revenue Service. Trump allies are working on plans that would potentially strip layers at the Justice Department — including the FBI, and reaching into national security, intelligence, the State Department and the Pentagon.”

“The heart of the plan is derived from an executive order known as ‘Schedule F,’ developed and refined in secret over most of the second half of Trump’s term and launched 13 days before the 2020 election.”

new video shows House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was absent from a critical discussion as the Capitol was under siege on January 6.

Amanda Carpenter: “McCarthy’s apparent absence raises even more questions about his actions and relationship with Trump.”

“Thousands of witnesses have voluntarily complied with the committee’s requests for testimony; McCarthy is one of the few who have resisted. The committee asked him for a voluntary interview in January 2022, and after he declined, the committee issued a subpoena seeking his testimony. In response, McCarthy’s lawyer sent the committee an 11-page letter on Friday, questioning the committee’s legality and constitutionality and making other specious arguments previously rejected by the courts.”

video shows attendees of the January 6 Committee hearing erupting into laughter when they were shown footage of Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) fleeing the Capitol during the insurrection.

Hawley had riled up the rioters earlier with a raised fist.

HuffPost: Clip of Josh Hawley running from rioters gets the treatment on Twitter.

Missouri Democrats are planning a “Hawlin’ Hawley 5K” race to mock Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) flight from protesters on January 6, Insider reports.

Kansas City Star editorial called Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) a “laughingstock” and a “fleeing coward” after the January 6 Committee showed video footage of him running for safety during the attack on the U.S. Capitol, which he famously encouraged with a fist pump.

Politico: “The hearings that began early last month were supposed to be a limited series, but it looks increasingly likely that the show will be picked up for a second season, returning in the fall.”

“The panel’s members say that the hearings have generated new investigative leads and spurred new witnesses to come forward, so they could be back on the airwaves with new plotlines and new characters faster than The Kardashians. Of course, they need to do it quickly, since new management is expected to take over the studio early next year and overhaul the programming lineup.”

Mona Charen: “The January 6 committee has not conducted hearings, in the traditional sense, so much as a multi-part documentary. Wise choice.”

“The purpose is to educate the American people and to cement in the public memory the infamy of Trump’s final days. They have succeeded magnificently. Every member of the committee has conveyed a sense of righteous outrage – whether because her family were refugees from communism like Stephanie Murphy, or because they personally put their lives on the line serving in the military, like Adam Kinzinger and Elaine Luria, or because they come from a tradition of service like Liz Cheney, or because they hail from a community that was enslaved and oppressed and fought for dignity like Bennie Thompson. These are Americans who represent what is best about the country – its freedom, its openness to immigrants, its repudiation of its racist past, and its commitment to the Constitution.”

“The effects of the committee’s work may not be evident in the short term (though there are some indications that the hearings have weakened Trump’s grip on the GOP), but they will be felt in the medium and long term as the import of what happened ripens in the national consciousness.”

“This is all heresy.” — The @HouseGOP Twitter account, which presumably meant to tweet “hearsay” during last night’s January 6 Committee hearing.

“As a spokesperson, I knew I would be asked to defend that… it was indefensible.” — Former White House aide Sarah Matthews, testifying about her decision to resign from the Trump White House on January 6.

“Russian officials and their proxies in Ukraine are racing to permanently annex occupied regions in the south of the country, probably by engineering referendums, perhaps as early as September,” the Washington Post reports.

“Senior officials and Kremlin propagandists on state television have warned that Russia will never leave the occupied areas of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine — home to more than 2.5 million people before the Russian invasion — and that the return of territory will not be up for negotiation should peace talks resume.”

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

Washington Post: “A six-term congressman and former governor of Indiana, Pence spent nearly five years as Trump’s obsequious sidekick — a quiet badge of conservative credibility next to the volatile political newcomer, always ready with a display of fealty or a look of solemn assent. But in the 18 months since the two men split, Pence has flipped a switch, returning to the path he was on before he began praising Trump in their private chats on the golf course. Pence wants everyone to know that he is once again his own man — and his team is looking to reintroduce him ahead of a possible 2024 presidential bid.”

“Advisers and allies say they think Pence is likely to run, and insist he will not base his decision on whether Trump chooses to run again.”

And then there’s this: “To watch Pence on the campaign trail today, as a yet unannounced candidate, is to witness a throwback to an earlier time in Republican politics — broadly saccharin, full of homages to Ronald Reagan and attempts at small town humor.”

“The Supreme Court on Thursday refused the Biden administration’s request to reinstate a policy limiting immigration arrests, after a Texas district judge said the guidance to immigration officers violated federal laws,” the Washington Post reports.

“The court instead said it will hear the merits of the case in December. Four justices — Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Amy Coney Barrett and Ketanji Brown Jackson — said they would have granted the administration’s request to put a lower court ruling on hold. It was Jackson’s first vote since joining the court.”

“I don’t think that matters.” — White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, quoted by the AP, when asked where President Biden picked up his Covid-19 infection.

That’s a bad and defensive answer. “We don’t know” is not only better, it’s probably more accurate.

Hours after testing positive for Covid, President Biden tweets a video message: “I really appreciate your concerns. I’m doing well. I’m getting a lot of work done.”

President Biden’s coronavirus symptoms “have improved” after completing first full day taking Pfizer’s antiviral pill, Paxlovid, his physician said in a letter on Friday, Axios reports.

John Harris: “Conservatives generally have low demands and low expectations of government. There are some non-negotiable items that GOP leaders must accommodate — business supporters demand low regulation and social activists demand opposition to legal abortion. But, especially in the Trump era, what partisans want most of all is a leader who gives voice to the contempt they feel toward liberals, the media and assorted cultural elites. This is a bar Trump easily cleared.”

“Progressives, by contrast, have high demands for activist government. There is a long roster of specific items that they want enacted, expanding government’s role in health care, education, income equality and transitioning to a low-carbon energy future. This is a bar that Biden cannot easily clear, especially without robust Democratic majorities in Congress.”

“This touches on something about progressives that goes even deeper: They may just be wired differently, in ways that don’t correlate to uncritical support of party leaders.”

Wall Street Journal: “Cutbacks in 2020 mean there aren’t enough baggage handlers, pilots and others. When something goes wrong, it ripples through to flight delays, cancellations, long lines and lost luggage.”

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland broke her left leg while hiking over the weekend in Shenandoah National Park, the Washington Post reports.

“More Americans are relocating to Europe, driven across the Atlantic by the rising cost of living, inflated house prices, a surging dollar and political rancor at home,” Bloomberg reports.  “Italy, Portugal, Spain, Greece and France are among the most popular destinations.”

“The U.S. accused Mexico of favoring state-owned energy companies at the expense of American businesses, in a trade dispute that could lead to U.S. tariffs,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) had additional surgery related to fractured hip on Tuesday, Fox News reports.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and his wife, an appointee in the Biden administration, together directed over $15 million in federal funding to protected wetlands where the couple owns property, The Intercept reports.

“President Joe Biden is proposing to spend roughly $37 billion for fighting and preventing crime, including $13 billion to help communities hire and train 100,000 police officers over five years,” the AP reports.

Verizon announced on Thursday that One America News will be removed from its channel lineup on July 31, leaving the far-right network with almost no TV providers, the Daily Beast reports.

“The Federal Communications Commission has ordered phone companies to stop carrying traffic related to robocalls about scam auto warranties,” Bloomberg reports.

Former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was hounded by reporters with questions related to the January 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol.  His only response: “I don’t comment on anything on January 6, guys.”

Eric Trump used his foundation to funnel donations — from donors who believed the money was going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital — to the Trump Organization by paying high sums for use of Trump properties during fundraisers, Forbes reports.

In the 1830s, President Andrew Jackson — whom Donald Trump has repeatedly said he admires — threatened to hang his vice president, John C. Calhoun, the Washington Post reports.

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

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