Cup of Joe – 7/26/22

Several members of the House Jan. 6 Committee, including committee vice chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) on Sunday urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to finally open a criminal investigation into Trump given how much evidence against the ex-president has emerged–especially in the committee’s own investigation.

Jan. 6 panel vice chair Cheney told CNN on Sunday that the committee is “fully prepared to contemplate a subpoena” if Big Lie extraordinaire Ginni Thomas, the ultra-conservative wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, doesn’t speak to it voluntarily.

The committee has been in contact with Thomas’ counsel, according to Cheney.

Thomas’ lawyer told the Jan. 6 panel last month that it needed a “better justification” for an interview with his client, even though Thomas had previously told the Daily Caller that she “looks forward” to speaking to the committee amid revelations of her close ties to Trumpland’s election steal crusade.

New York Times: “The contrast between the public urgency and aggressiveness of the investigations being carried out by the Georgia prosecutors and the congressional committee on the one hand and the quiet, and apparently plodding and methodical approach being taken by the Justice Department on the other is so striking that it has become an issue for Mr. Garland — and is only growing more pronounced by the week.”

“Exactly what is going on inside the Justice Department remains largely obscured, beyond what it prioritized in the months after the attack: its prosecution of hundreds of the rioters who stormed the Capitol and its sedition cases against the extremist groups who were present.”

“The House Jan. 6 committee said Sunday it will interview more former Cabinet secretaries and is prepared to subpoena conservative activist Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas, who’s married to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, as part of its investigation of the Capitol riot and Donald Trump’s role,” the AP reports.

“Lawmakers said they are deepening their inquiry after a series of eight hearings in June and July culminating in a prime-time session Thursday, with plans to interview additional witnesses and reconvene in September to resume laying out their findings to the public.”

Axios: Trump’s summer slump.

On Aug. 2, Kansas voters will decide whether their state’s constitution enshrines the right to an abortion.

If the proposed amendment on the ballot passes, the GOP supermajority in the Kansas state legislature could pass an abortion ban akin to fellow red states.

Right now, abortion in Kansas is legal for pregnancies of up to 22 weeks (though patients are required to go through a 24-hour waiting period), making it a crucial state for people in surrounding anti-abortion states to get the procedure.

Washington Post: “Kansans are heading to the polls Aug. 2 to decide whether the state’s constitution protects the right to abortion — the first such constitutional amendment to be determined since the Supreme Court’s historic overturning of Roe v. Wade, ending federal protection, on June 24. More than a dozen Republican states have already moved by other means to ban or further restrict abortion in the wake of the decision that reversed Roe.”

“The ballot measure, if approved, would effectively overturn a 2019 decision by the state’s Supreme Court enshrining abortion rights in its constitution. The measure could pave the way for the legislature to pass a ban on abortion at a time when Kansas has become a destination for pregnant patients fleeing strict abortion measures in nearby states.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill modeled after Texas’ anti-abortion law which allows private citizens to sue as a means to enforce a ban–except California’s new law is about assault weapons.

Under California’s law, private citizens can sue for a minimum of $10,000 per weapon against:  Anyone who manufactures, transports or distributes assault weapons and Licensed dealers who sell firearms to buyers under 21

The text of the California bill as written in February was tied directly to Texas’ abortion ban. The gun law would become “inoperative” if the Texas abortion law got struck down by the Supreme Court, according to the text.

Wall Street Journal: “Two prominent Democratic governors are expanding their national profile with political activity outside of their home states, moves that come as many Democratic voters look for alternatives to President Biden as the party standard-bearer in 2024.”

“Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat running for re-election this year, has spent time away from his home state to rally Democrats in Maine, New Hampshire and most recently Florida, where he gave the keynote address at an annual party gala last week.”

“California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this month went on the airwaves in the state to attack Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, himself a potential presidential contender in 2024. Messrs. Newsom and Pritzker have said they wouldn’t challenge Mr. Biden. Mr. Pritzker’s aides have said his political travel is meant to support gubernatorial candidates.

Biden’s physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, reported in a letter to the White House on Sunday that the President had completed his third full day of Paxlovid treatment, his COVID-19 symptoms “continue to improve significantly” and that his “predominant” symptom is now sore throat (which is a sign his body is clearing the virus, according to O’Connor).

“Donald Trump is coming back to Washington as Republican rivals maneuver for a possible primary challenge and lawmakers probe his culpability for the Jan. 6 insurrection,” Bloomberg reports.

“In the aftermath of his defeat and the chaos that unfolded at the Capitol on Jan. 6, Trump slipped out of Washington in disgrace the morning of President Joe Biden’s inauguration. His return — at a time when Biden is notching the lowest approval rating of his presidency and contending with foreign crises and domestic anger over inflation and culture-war issues — has fanned speculation about what’s considered an all-but-inevitable campaign announcement.”

Politico: “Tuesday’s address represents a chance for Trump to demonstrate a focus on policy rather than score-settling. It will be the latest in a continuous war between those in Trump’s orbit who want him to move on, and his own instincts and ID, which prevent him from doing so.”

Associated Press: “There’s little doubt that Trump is moving closer to announcing a third presidential campaign.”

Politico: “The next chapter in [Vice President Harris’] strategy will get more aggressive. White House aides said the vice president is going to specifically head to red and purple states to call out ‘Republican extremism’ on issues like abortion.”

“On Monday, Harris will visit Indiana, as the state begins a special legislative session on abortion, the first in the nation since Roe v. Wade was overturned last month. The White House says she’ll meet with abortion rights advocates and state legislators during her trip.”

“Hospitals across the country are grappling with widespread staffing shortages, complicating preparations for a potential Covid-19 surge as the BA.5 subvariant drives up cases, hospital admissions and deaths,” Politico reports.

“Long-standing problems, worker burnout and staff turnover have grown worse as Covid-19 waves have hit health care workers again and again — and as more employees fall sick with Covid-19 themselves.”

“Congressional Republicans are eagerly floating investigations into Anthony Fauci and the Biden administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic if they win back control of the House or Senate in the midterm elections,” The Hill reports.  Said Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): “One way or another, if we are in the majority, we will subpoena his records and he will testify in the Senate under oath.”

“Five months into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there remains a startling lack of understanding by many Western policymakers and commentators of the economic dimensions of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion and what it has meant for Russia’s economic positioning both domestically and globally,” Foreign Policy reports.

“Far from being ineffective or disappointing, as many have argued, international sanctions and voluntary business retreats have exerted a devastating effect over Russia’s economy. The deteriorating economy has served as a powerful if underappreciated complement to the deteriorating political landscape facing Putin.”

“Russia’s top diplomat said Moscow’s overarching goal in Ukraine is to topple President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government, expressing the Kremlin’s war aims in some of the bluntest terms yet as its forces pummel the country with artillery barrages and airstrikes,” the AP reports.

“Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell has vowed to follow the data in deciding how high to crank up interest rates to crush the worst inflation surge in four decades,” Politico reports.

“But Powell and other Fed policymakers are making that crucial decision based on data that lately has been so confusing and contradictory that it’s hard for them to know where the economy actually stands.”

Key takeaway: “Economic growth is projected by some analysts to have been negative in the second quarter of the year, but hiring is strong and the jobless rate sits near historic lows. Consumers say they’re unhappy about the economy but are still spending even amid the aggressive price spikes. Supply chains are improving, but manufacturing output is slowing. And Covid cases are skyrocketing again even as America fully reopens for business.”

David Leonhardt: “With Roe v. Wade overturned, many of the most intense battles over abortion access will involve the mailing of pills into Republican-run states.”

“Some pregnant women in these states will travel to states where abortion remains legal. But travel can be expensive and time-consuming, making it especially difficult for lower-income workers.”

“That’s why both sides of the abortion issue are now gearing up for an extended fight over what’s known as medication abortion — and specifically over whether women who live in red states will be able to order abortion pills through the mail, even if it’s illegal. Abortion rights advocates are hoping to protect mail services from legal challenges and trying to spread the word that medication abortion is both safe and effective. Abortion opponents are thinking about how to prevent the mail from becoming a loophole that undermines their newly created bans.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) said the Republican Party’s primary focus this year should be on making the political party one of Christian nationalism.

Said Greene: “We need to be the party of nationalism and I’m a Christian, and I say it proudly, we should be Christian nationalists.”

She added: “When Republicans learn to represent most of the people that vote for them, then we will be the party that continues to grow without having to chase down certain identities or chase down certain segments of people.”

Rick Hasen: “Last week’s announcement by a bipartisan group of senators proposing reforms to the poorly written 1887 law that governs Congress’ counting of the Electoral College votes is a good half-loaf measure against election subversion. This is an opportunity that Democrats should jump at, despite their nervousness, if they have the chance to pass the bill with some Republican support this summer or fall.”

“Any meaningful step that lessens the chances of a stolen presidential election in 2024 or beyond is worth pursuing, and the bill would be a significant step forward. But more will still need to be done.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has tested positive for Covid-19, CNN reports.  “It’s unclear what effect, if any, Manchin’s isolation will have on Democrats’ efforts to make progress on their legislative agenda. The Senate has a little under two weeks before it’s scheduled to start its August recess, and Democrats have indicated hopes in passing bills — from protecting same-sex marriage to increasing funding for semiconductor production in the US and changing laws surrounding prescription drug prices among other issues — before leaving town for about a month.”

“Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro made official his bid to run for reelection in October, giving him three months to close a double-digit gap to secure victory,” the AP reports.

“The Liberal Party’s formal approval of Bolsonaro’s candidacy took place at its convention Sunday in a Rio de Janeiro stadium. Support was widely expected and merely symbolic, given that the far-right president has effectively been campaigning for months, crisscrossing the country to drum up support and remind voters why they shouldn’t back his nemesis, leftist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.”

Said Bolsonaro: “We don’t need another ideology that hasn’t worked anywhere else in the world. We need to improve what we have. Our life wasn’t easy, but one thing comforts me isn’t seeing a communist sitting in that chair of mine.”

“Hungary’s far-right prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has lashed out against the ‘mixing’ of European and non-European races, in a speech that immediately drew outrage from opposition parties and European politicians,” The Guardian reports.  Said Orbán: “We are not a mixed race… and we do not want to become a mixed race.”  He added that countries where European and non-Europeans mingle were “no longer nations.

“The Democratic Republic of Congo, home to one of the largest old-growth rainforests on earth, is auctioning off vast amounts of land in a push to become ‘the new destination for oil investments,’ part of a global shift as the world retreats on fighting climate change in a scramble for fossil fuels,” the New York Times reports.

“Congo’s sole goal for the auction, he said, is to earn enough revenue to help the struggling nation finance programs to reduce poverty and generate badly needed economic growth.”

Said government adviser Tosi Mpanu Mpanu: “That’s our priority. Our priority is not to save the planet.”

“An influential network of conservative activists fixated on the idea that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election is working to recruit county sheriffs to investigate elections based on the false notion that voter fraud is widespread,” the New York Times reports.

“The push, which two right-wing sheriffs’ groups have already endorsed, seeks to lend law enforcement credibility to the false claims and has alarmed voting rights advocates. They warn that it could cause chaos in future elections and further weaken trust in an American voting system already battered by attacks from Mr. Trump and his allies.”

“Former President Donald Trump and his estranged vice president, Mike Pence, held rival campaign events in Arizona on Friday, turning the governor’s race into a broader referendum on the Republican Party’s future,” the AP reports.

“Trump and Pence both talked up the successes of their administration and hammered President Joe Biden, but neither directly addressed the other or the growing rift between them.”

Interestingly, Trump was booed for his endorsement in the Arizona governor’s race.

Politico: “It was billed as a split screen proxy war in the desert: Donald Trump versus Mike Pence in a midterm election skirmish that would provide an early indication about the future of the GOP.”

“It ended up more like a varsity-JV scrimmage.”

“The Republican Party landscape, in Arizona at least, remains tilted sharply towards Trump. And those who came to watch the former president speak seemed to know it.”

Former President Trump tore into Fox & Friends, lashing out at the show’s hosts for their coverage of his polling as he eyes another run for president in 2024, The Hill reports.

Saud Trump: “Fox & Friends just really botched my poll numbers, no doubt on purpose. That show has been terrible — gone to the ‘dark side.’ They quickly quote the big Turning Point Poll victory of almost 60 points over the number two Republican, and then hammer me with outliers.”

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

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