Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) “announced that he had struck a deal with Democratic leaders on a domestic spending package that includes climate and energy programs and tax increases, less than two weeks after abruptly upending hopes for such a deal this summer,” the New York Times reports.
“In a statement, Mr. Manchin, who had been his party’s main holdout on an expansive social policy, climate and tax package, confirmed his support for the measure in a statement that did not provide detail on its precise elements. But in the statement, he signaled support for climate and energy programs, as well as some tax provisions, all of which he had previously suggested he could not support because of concerns about inflation.”
“It was not clear what had changed his mind about the plan, which only weeks ago he had said he could not back until he saw more economic data next month.”
Washington Post: “The new agreement opens the door for party lawmakers to try to advance the measure as soon as next week, capping off months of debate, delay and acrimony that some Democrats came to see as detrimental to their political fate ahead of this fall’s elections.”
“Federal prosecutors have directly asked witnesses in recent days about former President Donald Trump’s involvement in efforts to reverse his election loss, suggesting that the Justice Department’s criminal investigation has moved into a more aggressive and politically fraught phase,” the New York Times reports.
“Mr. Trump’s personal role in elements of the push to overturn his loss in 2020 to Joseph Biden has long been established, both through his public actions and statements and evidence gathered by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland gave an interview to NBC News yesterday but sounded like a law professor when asked if the Justice Department was investigating former President Donald Trump over his role in the January 6 insurrection.
Said Garland: “We intend to hold everyone, anyone who was criminally responsible for the events surrounding Jan. 6, for any attempt to interfere with the lawful transfer of power from one administration to another, accountable. That’s what we do. We don’t pay any attention to other issues with respect to that.”
He gave no indication that Trump was even the target of an investigation. But perhaps not by coincidence, the Washington Post later broke the story that the Justice Department was indeed investigating Trump’s actions. An hour or so later a New York Times story reported that federal prosecutors “have directly asked witnesses in recent days” about Trump’s involvement in efforts to reverse his election loss.
The stories suggested there were two investigative routes that prosecutors were pursuing:
- Seditious conspiracy and conspiracy to obstruct a government proceeding.
- Potential fraud associated with the “fake electors” scheme or with Trump pressuring the Justice Department to falsely claim that the election was rigged.
The New York Times also reported on explosive emails from Trump advisers who were concocting the fake electors scheme. The messages show they knew the plan might be illegal, acknowleding they would “just be sending in ‘fake’ electoral votes to Pence so that ‘someone’ in Congress can make an objection when they start counting votes, and start arguing that the ‘fake’ votes should be counted.”
A follow up email suggested they call them “alternative” electoral votes instead of “fake” electoral votes, followed by a smiley-face emoji. We’ll see where the investigation leads, but as George Conway notes: “If you had asked me to hypothesize, for illustrative purposes, a set of emails that prosecutors would find helpful in proving a fake-elector fraud conspiracy, I would not have come up with anything nearly as incriminating as the emails that the Times just reported on today.”
The House Jan. 6 Committee released more new footage of witness testimony on Tuesday, with this particular clip coming from testimony from former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller on whether Trump had ordered troops to be ready protect the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Miller disputed Trump and ex-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ claims that the then-president had done so. “I was never given any direction or order or knew of any plans of that nature,” the ex-Pentagon chief testified.
Trump has claimed he ordered 20,000 troops, and Meadows claimed on Fox that it was 10,000 troops. It was, in fact, zero, per Miller.
Miller said explicitly in his testimony that there was “no order from the President” on deploying troops, and that there was nothing “more than contingency planning.”
Amanda Carpenter: Trump’s January 6 National Guard lie crumbles.
The House Jan. 6 Committee has tentative plans to hold a private interview with Mike Pompeo, Trump’s former Secretary of State, in the coming days, according to ABC News.
Pompeo and then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed potentially invoking the 25th Amendment to oust Trump after the Capitol attack, according to CNBC and ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl’s book, “Betrayal.” Pompeo has denied having that discussion.
House Oversight Committee chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and House Homeland Security Committee/Jan. 6 Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) on Tuesday wrote a letter calling on Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari to recuse himself from the investigation into the Secret Service’s deleted texts.
Maloney and Thompson pointed to how Cuffari, a Trump appointee, didn’t alert Congress when he first found out in December that the texts sent and received by the Secret Service on Jan. 5 and 6 last year had been erased. The inspector general didn’t inform Congress of the deleted texts until July.
Cuffari’s lack of disclosure “cast serious doubt on his independence and his ability to effectively conduct such an important investigation,” Maloney and Thompson wrote.
“Cassidy Hutchinson, a former top adviser to then-President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows, has recently cooperated with the Department of Justice investigation into the events of Jan. 6,” ABC News reports.
“The Justice Department reached out to her following her testimony a month ago before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.”
Jeannie Suk Gersen: “So far, the evidence of what Trump didn’t do on January 6th holds the strongest potential for making a successful criminal case against him.”
“A man who attacked police officers with poles during the riot at the U.S. Capitol was sentenced on Tuesday to more than five years in prison, matching the longest term of imprisonment so far among hundreds of Capitol riot prosecutions,” the AP reports.
“If you want to know what the Mike Pence vice-presidency was like, Mike Pence is a guy with an erect posture and flaccid conscience. He stood up tall but he did not stand up to Donald Trump.” — Miles Taylor, former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, quoted by The Guardian.
Former President Donald Trump “voiced support for imposing the death penalty as punishment for convicted drug dealers as part of a speech in which he laid out a series of drastic measures to curb crime,” The Hill reports.
Said Trump: “The penalties should be very, very severe. If you look at countries throughout the world, the ones that don’t have a drug problem are ones that institute a very quick trial death penalty sentence for drug dealers.”
He also called for police squad cars to be parked on every corner and suggested moving encampments of homeless people out of major cities and to “large parcels of inexpensive land at the outer reaches of the city.”
David Frum: “Yesterday, an ex-president who had tried to overturn a democratic election by violence returned to Washington, D.C., to call for law and order. Again and again, the speech reversed reality. The ex-president who had spread an actual big lie against the legitimacy of the 2020 election tried to appropriate the phrase big lie to use against his opponents. The ex-president who had fired an acting FBI director days before that official’s pension was due to be vested lamented that police officers might lose their pension for doing their job.”
“Yet scrape aside the audacity, the self-pity, and the self-aggrandizement, and there was indeed an idea in Donald Trump’s speech at a conference hosted by the America First Policy Institute: a sinister idea, but one to take seriously.”
“Trump sketched out a vision that a new Republican Congress could enact sweeping new emergency powers for the next Republican president. The president would be empowered to disregard state jurisdiction over criminal law. The president would be allowed to push aside a ‘weak, foolish, and stupid governor,’ and to fire ‘radical and racist prosecutors’—racist here meaning ‘anti-white.’ The president could federalize state National Guards for law-enforcement duties, stop and frisk suspects for illegal weapons, and impose death sentences on drug dealers after expedited trials.”
Donald Trump told the Wall Street Journal that the Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit, which has upended the sport by luring players away from the PGA Tour with lavish paydays, has been “worth billions of dollars” in publicity for Saudi Arabia.
Said Trump: “I think LIV has been a great thing for Saudi Arabia, for the image of Saudi Arabia. I think it’s going to be an incredible investment from that standpoint, and that’s more valuable than lots of other things because you can’t buy that—even with billions of dollars.”
Trump also dismissed the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi: “I can say that from the standpoint of Khashoggi, that has died down so much. It really seems to have totally died down.”
“Former Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday acknowledged he and former President Trump may differ on their approach to advancing their agendas as he urged conservatives to focus on the future to win elections,” The Hill reports.
Said Pence: “I don’t know that the president and I differ on issues. But we may differ on focus.”
He added: “I truly do believe that elections are about the future, and that it’s absolutely essential at a time when so many Americans are hurting, so many families are struggling, that we don’t give way to the temptation to look back.”
Jonathan Chait: “Whether the news media treats the Republican Party more or less harshly than the Democratic Party is a question that can’t be measured, and which most people settle by resorting to anecdotes. Partisans cling to examples of the media treating their side unfairly, with especially noxious examples hauled out of storage to be gazed at repeatedly, like cherished family heirlooms.”
“For the purposes of my argument here, I’d like to bracket it. The only point I need to make is that the mainstream media does routinely report critically on the Democratic Party. If you are watching CNN or reading the New York Times, you have encountered a steady stream of articles questioning whether Joe Biden is too old for the job, noting high inflation, pummeling the Afghanistan withdrawal, and so on. Whether you believe this level of criticism is excessive or insufficient is a matter of perspective, but the clear fact is that it exists.”
“Nothing like this exists within the conservative media. The communications apparatus of the conservative movement was established with the goal of advancing the right’s political interests. Its organs often borrow superficial conventions, like bylines and the inverted-pyramid structure, to create the simulacrum of a traditional news medium. But the people working in these institutions understand they are working for the conservative movement, not on behalf of the public’s right to know. Their approach to malfeasance by their side is to ignore, distort, or change the subject to some agreed-upon sin by the enemy (a practice called ‘whataboutism’).”
Associated Press: “U.S. officials say they have little fear that China would attack Nancy Pelosi’s plane if she flies to Taiwan. But the U.S. House speaker would be entering one of the world’s hottest spots, where a mishap, misstep or misunderstanding could endanger her safety. So the Pentagon is developing plans for any contingency.”
“Officials told The Associated Press that if Pelosi goes to Taiwan — still an uncertainty — the military would increase its movement of forces and assets in the Indo-Pacific region. They declined to provide details, but said that fighter jets, ships, surveillance assets and other military systems would likely be used to provide overlapping rings of protection for her flight to Taiwan and any time on the ground there.”
“President Biden will speak Thursday with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, a U.S. official said, amid new tension over Taiwan, the war in Ukraine and a decision over whether to remove some Trump-era tariffs,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) told NBC News that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has invited a small group of lawmakers on her official trip to Taiwan, including the top Democrat and Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Texas Republican said he declined the invitation “due to a personal obligation that conflicts with the visit.”
President Joe Biden has tested negative for Covid after a five-day isolation and will discontinue his isolation on Wednesday, CNN reports.
The Biden administration privately estimated to Congress this month that it may need nearly $7 billion to mount a response to the nation’s monkeypox outbreak that matches “the scope and urgency of the current situation,” the Washington Post reports.
Walter Shapiro: “With Trump toady Kevin McCarthy poised to be the next House speaker after a likely Republican takeover, this is not an issue that can be kicked to the next Congress.”
“Either the legislation passes this year or the 2024 election will be conducted under the same murky rules that Trump and his ragtag team of legal advisers tried so hard to exploit.”
“A gathering of US conservatives in Texas next week will still include Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán as a speaker despite his recent comments which prompted a long-time ally to resign from his government and compare his comments to Nazism,” Bloomberg reports.
A top adviser to Hungarian primary minister Viktor Orbán resigned after his “mixed race” remarks, Politico reports. Zsuzsa Hegedüs said in her resignation letter that they were “worthy of Goebbels” and a “pure Nazi text.” She added: “That you are able to deliver an openly racist speech would not occur to me even in a nightmare.”
Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) organizer Matt Schlapp isn’t all that bothered by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán declaring that he wanted to prevent the Hungarian population from becoming a “mixed race,” and still plans on unrolling the red carpet for the anti-democratic leader as a keynote speaker at CPAC anyway.
“The Senate on Wednesday passed an expansive $280 billion bill aimed at building up America’s manufacturing and technological edge to counter China, embracing in an overwhelming bipartisan vote the most significant government intervention in industrial policy in decades,” the New York Times reports.
“The legislation reflected a remarkable and rare consensus in an otherwise polarized Congress in favor of forging a long-term strategy to address the nation’s intensifying geopolitical rivalry with Beijing.”
CNBC: “The bill will now head to the House, where lawmakers hope to pass it and send it to the White House for President Joe Biden’s signature before Congress leaves town.”
Nikkei Asia: From China to the U.S. to Europe, semiconductor makers are being showered with subsidies, but to what effect?
“Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told a group of donors that he doesn’t believe that there are enough votes in the Senate to pass a piece of antitrust legislation intended to pare back the power of the largest technology companies,“ Bloomberg reports.
“Russia delivered less gas to Europe on Wednesday in a further escalation of an energy stand-off between Moscow and the European Union that will make it harder, and costlier, for the bloc to fill up storage ahead of the winter heating season,” Reuters reports.
Wall Street Journal: U.S. and Europe dig in for long economic standoff with Russia.
“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) won’t say whether he will support bipartisan House-passed legislation to require states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states until the bill comes to the Senate floor,” The Hill reports.
Politico: “Some of the heaviest hitters on the religious right are urging Senate Republicans not to support legislation writing same-sex marriage into federal law.”
Washington Post: “The complicated part is the politics: Despite the fact that 7 in 10 Americans now approve of same-sex marriage, the issue remains a fraught one for Republicans.”
“They still count the religious right as a key part of their electoral coalition, and they remain wary of being baited by Democrats into highlighting what some of them believe is a purely speculative threat to same-sex marriage rights nationally when Republicans would much rather be talking about rising inflation and a softening economy.”
“Almost none of the major tax ideas Democrats proposed as they won control of the federal government 18 months ago will get over the finish line,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“They talked about reversing the 2017 tax cuts, paring back a law they all opposed. They proposed wealth taxes, global minimum taxes and other ways to make the richest Americans and multinational corporations pay more. They even got $1.5 trillion in tax increases through the House.”
“However, despite holding the White House and narrowly controlling the House and Senate for nearly two years, Democrats are likely to walk into the midterm elections having barely budged tax policy in their direction. They implemented temporary tax breaks in their pandemic response law and might yet extend some other provisions later this year.”
Politico: “Monday evening’s crucial head-to-head TV clash between Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak — the final two contenders in the race to replace Boris Johnson — ended in an effective score draw, leaving Truss in pole position to become Tory leader and U.K. prime minister.”
“President Joe Biden is considering extending a pause on student loan repayments for several more months, as well as forgiving $10,000 in student loan debt per borrower, as he seeks to appeal to young voters ahead of the November midterms,” Bloomberg reports. “The current moratorium on student loan payments expires Aug. 31, and a fresh pause could extend either through the end of 2022 or until next summer.”
“The federal government’s student loan servicing contractors have been instructed to hold off on sending billing statements ahead of an Aug. 31 deadline for ending the pandemic freeze on loan payments, giving companies little time to start loan collection processes if payments resume.” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The future of the federal student loan portfolio is in limbo as President Biden considers whether to cancel a limited amount of debt for borrowers whose incomes fall under a certain threshold. The president and his advisers have been debating the issue for more than a year, frustrating activists and progressive Democrats, and putting borrowers, loan servicers and other stakeholders on edge about what happens next.”
“Chief Justice John Roberts privately lobbied fellow conservatives to save the constitutional right to abortion down to the bitter end, but May’s unprecedented leak of a draft opinion reversing Roe v. Wade made the effort all but impossible,” CNN reports.
“It appears unlikely that Roberts’ best prospect — Justice Brett Kavanaugh — was ever close to switching his earlier vote, despite Roberts’ attempts that continued through the final weeks of the session.”
“New details… insight into the high-stakes internal abortion-rights drama that intensified in late April when justices first learned the draft opinion would soon be published. Serious conflicts over the fate of the 1973 Roe were then accompanied by tensions over an investigation into the source of the leak that included obtaining cell phone data from law clerks and some permanent court employees.”
David Lat speculates that the person who leaked the draft Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade is unknown even to the Politico reporters who first broke the story.
Leonard Steinhorn: “When Donald Trump poached Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign catchphrase ‘Let’s Make America Great Again,’ it was not just the slogan but the meaning behind it that bonded the two Republican campaigns. What it embodies is less an ideology or even a conservative worldview than a deep yearning and determination to restore an idealized version of 1950s America that many Republicans believe has been lost. For the last half-century, that idea has informed much of what the GOP has come to represent.”
“In reality, however, the 1950s were great only for some Americans. Restoring that America — as many Republicans are attempting to do in places where they wield political power — would hurt almost everyone else.”
“The White House is scrambling behind the scenes and in public to get ahead of a potentially brutal economic punch to the face that could give Republicans the chance to declare that the ‘Biden recession’ is under way,” Politico reports.
“Wall Street analysts, economists and even some in the Biden administration itself expect a report on Thursday to show the economy shrank for a second straight quarter, meeting a classic — though by no means the only — definition of a recession.”
Associated Press: U.S. economy sending mixed signals.
Washington Post: The coming battle over when a recession is recession.
“House Sergeant at Arms William Walker plans to offer lawmakers thousands of dollars to safeguard their homes at a time when a growing number of members have received threats,” the Washington Examiner reports.
“Congressional members and staff were sent a letter announcing the residential security program, an initiative that will pay for up to $10,000 worth of expenses for security equipment such as cameras, video recorders, door locks, and motion sensors at representative’s personal residences.”