Cup of Joe – August 2, 2022

“Democrats have been campaigning for 30 years on promises they’d let Medicare directly negotiate the cost of prescription drugs — and after all that time, they might finally be about to achieve it,” Axios reports.

“The Senate’s reconciliation bill would only open up negotiations for a small number of drugs, but even that is a threshold Democrats have never before been able to cross. And it opens the door to more aggressive policies in the future.”

It’s still unclear whether Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) supports the Democratic budget reconciliation bill being considered by the Senate this week, Politico  reports.

The Arizona Democrat was “caught completely off guard by its announcement, particularly the inclusion of a provision narrowing the so-called carried interest loophole, which brings in $14 billion of the bill’s $739 billion in new revenues.”

“Sinema had no new public comments on Sunday.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told CNN that he plans to talk to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) today and says he didn’t talk with her through negotiations of the new budget reconciliation legislation because he didn’t think deal would come to fruition.

Jonathan Chait: “Over the weekend, a congressional tax committee analyzed a portion of the tax Inflation Reduction Act Senator Joe Manchin struck with Senator Chuck Schumer and President Biden. Republicans inaccurately claimed the report shows the plan would increase taxes on the middle class.”

“The plan in fact raises taxes only on corporations with an income over $1 billion. It does not raise taxes on individual taxpayers at all.”

Politico: “Biden is touting a massive bill to subsidize computer chip manufacturing in the U.S. But the history of similar government interventions is spotty.”

Associated Press: “Democrats in Washington had big ambitions this year to boost child care subsidies nationally as part of a broad domestic spending bill. But with those plans stalled because of a lack of bipartisan support, some states moved ahead with plans of their own.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Sunday he intends to put a health care bill for military veterans exposed to deadly toxins up for a vote again this week after 41 Republicans senators blocked it, the New York Post reports.

Playbook: “Their opposition — ostensibly because they wanted to vote on an amendment offered by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), but difficult to divorce from the broader context of Democrats’ breakthrough on reconciliation talks — has spurred swift and widespread backlash, with veterans and advocates for the bill (the loudest and most famous among them being Jon Stewart) torching the senators in viral condemnations and TV hits.”

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to visit Taiwan as part of their tour of Asia, according to a senior Taiwanese government official and a US official, despite warnings from Biden administration officials, who are worried about China’s response to such a high-profile visit,” CNN reports.

“The stop – the first for a US House speaker in 25 years – is not currently on Pelosi’s public itinerary and comes at a time when US-China relations are already at a low point.”

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to meet Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday, in a controversial visit that has triggered concern about a possible military response from China,” the Financial Times reports.

New York Times: A Pelosi trip to Taiwan would test China’s appetite for confrontation.

After a call that lasted more than two hours — reflecting the long and thorny agenda — President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jingping “agreed to meet face-to-face at a time that has yet to be determined,” USA Today reports.

“Donald Trump’s lawyers are preemptively preparing a legal defense against criminal charges from the Justice Department, as the former president’s lawyers are increasingly anxious that their client will be prosecuted for his role in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election,” Rolling Stone reports.

“Members of the ex-president’s legal team have already begun brainstorming strategy and potential defenses, according to three people familiar with the matter and written communications reviewed by Rolling Stone. Trump himself has been briefed on potential legal defenses on at least two occasions this summer.”

“That effort intensified after former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s June testimony before the House committee investigating Jan. 6.”

“As expected, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is challenging a subpoena to testify before a special grand jury that’s investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and others broke any laws when they tried to overturn Joe Biden’s win in Georgia,” the AP reports.

“Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, received a subpoena that was issued on July 26 and orders him to appear before the special grand jury to testify on Aug. 23, his lawyers said in a court filing. Graham is seeking to have the challenge to the subpoena heard in federal court in Atlanta rather than before the Fulton County Superior Court judge who’s overseeing the special grand jury.”

“Cybersecurity experts and former government leaders are stunned by how poorly the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security handled the preservation of officials’ text messages and other data from around Jan. 6, 2021, saying the top agencies entrusted with fighting cybercrime should never have bungled the simple task of backing up agents’ phones,” the Washington Post reports.

“Experts are divided over whether the disappearance of phone data from around the time of the insurrection is a sign of incompetence, an intentional coverup, or some murkier middle ground. But the failure has raised suspicions about the disposition of records that could provide intimate details about what happened on that chaotic day, and whose preservation was mandated by federal law.”

Esquire: Hey, that’s weird. The texts for Trump’s top DHS officials are also gone.

“U.S. Secret Service Director James Murray announced Thursday that he will “briefly delay” his retirement amid multiple investigations into the agency’s response to the attack on the U.S. Capitol,” CBS News reports.

“The embattled inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security first learned of missing Secret Service text messages in May 2021 – months earlier than previously known and more than a year before he alerted the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, that potentially crucial information may have been erased,” CNN reports.

New York Times: “Attorney General Merrick Garland is intent on avoiding even the slightest errors, which could taint the current investigation, provide Mr. Trump’s defenders with reasons to claim the inquiry was driven by animus, or undo his effort to rehabilitate the department’s reputation after the political warfare of the Trump years.”

“Mr. Garland never seriously considered focusing on Mr. Trump from the outset, as investigators had done earlier with Mr. Trump and with Mrs. Clinton during her email investigation, people close to him say. As a result, his investigators have taken a more methodical approach, carefully climbing up the chain of personnel behind the 2020 plan to name fake slates of Trump electors in battleground states that had been won by Joseph Biden.”

“That has now led them to Mr. Trump and his innermost circle: Justice Department lawyers are grilling witnesses directly about the actions of Mr. Trump and top advisers like his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows.”

White House physician Kevin O’Connor reported on Monday that President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 again earlier in the day amid his “rebound positivity” for the virus.

In his memo to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre that largely echoed his report from the day before, O’Connor stated that Biden “continues to feel well as he starts his week” even though, “as could be anticipated,” the President’s testing for COVID-19 remained positive.

“The President will continue his strict isolation measures as previously described,” the White House physician wrote.

O’Connor’s latest update comes several days after Biden tested positive for the virus on Saturday due to what the doctor called “rebound” positivity that sometimes occurs with COVID-19 patients who have been treated with Paxlovid, as Biden was last week.

“Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery. We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family.”

— Joe Biden, on Oct 2, 2020.

“Joe Biden’s second bout of Covid, sometimes referred to as the China Virus, was sadly misdiagnosed by his doctors. He instead has Dementia, but is happily recovering well. Joe is thinking of moving, part time, to one of those beautiful Wisconsin Nursing Homes, where almost 100% of the residents miraculously, and for the first time in history, had the strength and energy to vote even if those votes were cast illegally. Get well soon, Joe!”

— Donald Trump, on July 31, 2022.

Peter Wehner: “For all the defects Donald Trump has as a politician, he does possess certain skills, among them an almost preternatural ability to tap into the sensibilities—the id—of the American right. More than any other Republican candidate in 2016, Trump was in sync with the base of the party. He still is, as he prepares for what looks like another run for the presidency.”

Gabriel Debenedetti: “Harris is the most scrutinized vice president in memory, and those around her have no doubt her coverage has been heavily warped by sexism and racism. Viewed from the most sympathetic perspective, the Harris who emerged as the administration’s foremost advocate of abortion rights this summer has hit her stride. She’s sat for high-profile interviews and condemned Republicans in speeches. She’s met with state legislators facing the most immediate threats, as in Indiana and Florida, and campaigned in states where the midterms will determine the fate of legal abortion, as in Pennsylvania. Her role now resembles one Biden envisioned for her in the summer of 2020 — aggressive partisan warrior selling the administration’s popular line.”

“But that was a different political universe, and it took one and a half uncomfortable years for her set of skills to align with the administration’s strategic needs. Harris set up her office with the instruction that maintaining close ties to the president was a priority, believing that to be a guarantee of internal influence. That proved unexpectedly complex, partly owing to their different operating styles.”

“Most exasperating to her advocates, however, have been the questions about her preparedness for the top job, an especially sensitive line of inquiry ever since the 79-year-old Biden contracted covid earlier in July. The concern comes mostly from her occasionally stumbling responses to journalists.”

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that “a court order that sought to bar enforcement of a dormant law criminalizing most abortions in Michigan does not apply to county prosecutors,” the Detroit Free Press reports.

“The massively consequential ruling means the 1931 law banning all abortions except those done to protect the life of a pregnant person essentially takes effect immediately.”

Ever since the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, Michigan’s Democratic officials have insisted that abortion remains legal there. Not anymore.

Washington Post: “The overturning of Roe v. Wade after nearly 50 years is expected to trigger a new set of legal challenges for which there is little precedent, observers say, further roiling the nation’s bitter political landscape and compounding chaos as Republican-led states move quickly to curtail access to reproductive care. It is possible, if not probable, that one or both of these questions will eventually work its way back to the high court.”

“The Biden administration has pledged to ensure access to abortion medication, which is used in more than half of all terminated pregnancies in the United States, and prohibit states from preventing their residents from traveling out-of-state for care. But a month after the Dobbs ruling, administration officials are still debating how they can deliver on that promise beyond the president’s executive order to protect access.”

Politico: The web is home to an illegal bazaar for abortion pills. The FDA is ill-equipped to stop it.

Rolling Stone: “Former President Donald Trump sounds like he wants WNBA player Brittney Griner to stay in a Russian prison. During a podcast appearance on the Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, the former president voiced his opposition to the U.S. government’s reported offer to swap Griner and U.S. Marine Paul Whelan for Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms trafficker.”

“On the show, Trump maligned Griner as ‘a potentially spoiled person’ who went to Russia ‘loaded up with drugs,’ which is an exaggeration of her cannabis arrest.”

“Russian government officials requested that a former colonel from the country’s domestic spy agency who was convicted of murder in Germany last year be added to the US’ proposed swap of a notorious arms dealer for Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan,” CNN reports.  “The Russians communicated the request to the US earlier this month through an informal backchannel used by the spy agency.”

“Even as Moscow’s war machine crawls across Ukraine’s east, trying to achieve the Kremlin’s goal of securing full control over the country’s industrial heartland, Ukrainian forces are scaling up attacks to reclaim territory in the Russian-occupied south,” the AP reports.

“The Ukrainians have used American-supplied rocket launchers to strike bridges and military infrastructure in the south, forcing Russia to divert its forces from the Donbas in the east to counter the new threat.”

“Anatoly Chubais, who resigned as a top Kremlin adviser shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was hospitalized on Sunday in a western European country in critical condition with the symptoms of a rare neurological disorder,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Chubais had suddenly grown numb in his hands and legs, his wife, Avodtya Smirnova, told the Russian journalist Ksenia Sobchak.”

“Federal authorities charged a Russian man Friday with a years-long malign influence campaign targeting American politics — alleging that he used American groups in Florida, Georgia and California to sow discord and push pro-Russia propaganda,” the Washington Post reports.

“Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, who lives in Moscow, worked for nearly eight years with Russian officials to fund and direct the U.S. groups, according to the indictment filed in Florida.”

“When Ivana Trump, Donald Trump’s first wife, was buried last month near the first hole of Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, few immediately guessed that her grave’s location might also serve her ex-husband’s long-held tax planning purposes,” The Guardian reports.

“Tax code in New Jersey exempts cemetery land from all taxes, rates, and assessments – and her grave, as such, potentially has advantageous tax implications for a Trump family trust that owns the golf business, in a state where property and land taxes are notoriously high.”

“Donald Trump’s plans to build a grandiose family mausoleum with 19-foot stone obelisks on the grounds of his Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, were shot down in 2007 by local officials who found the design garish and out of character with the area,” the HuffPost reports.

“Now there’s a single grave on the course — for Ivana Trump, the ex-wife of the former president and mother of his three oldest children. Following her July 20 funeral, she was buried not far from the clubhouse and behind the first tee in a bare plot with a spray of flowers and small granite plaque.”

“A former state lawmaker who six weeks ago apologized to a federal judge for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack is now writing a book for a right-wing publisher claiming he has been mistreated,” the Washington Post reports.

“Derrick Evans, who was sentenced in June to three months in prison after pleading guilty to felony civil disorder, said in a statement that he had been ‘slandered’ and wanted ‘to share my story with the world.’”

At his sentencing, Evans told the judge he felt daily regret for getting “caught up in a moment which led to me breaking the law.”

“A right-wing activist who spoke at Freedom Plaza on Jan. 5 and then joined the assault on the Capitol the next day provided information to the FBI about rally organizers and more than a dozen other members of the Stop the Steal movement as part of a plea deal to avoid a felony charge,” WUSA reports.

“A former Trump campaign staffer asked a judge this week to hold Steve Bannon in civil contempt for allegedly failing to comply with a subpoena seeking his testimony in her ongoing sexual discrimination lawsuit against former President Donald Trump’ 2016 campaign,” WUSA reports.

“It’s the ‘most wide-ranging investigation’ in Justice Department history: the unprecedented manhunt for hundreds of rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Donald Trump’s behalf on Jan. 6, 2021, and the criminal inquiry into efforts to stop the peaceful transfer of power,” NBC News reports.

“It’s also a logistical nightmare.

“As cases against Capitol rioters work their way through the court system and a federal grand jury hears testimony about Trump’s role in Jan. 6, some federal officials are raising concerns that it could bring the already stretched investigation of Jan. 6 to a breaking point.”

Sarah Longwell: “I conducted dozens of focus groups of Trump 2020 voters in the 17 months between the storming of the Capitol on January 6 and when the hearings began in June. One measure was consistent: At least half of the respondents in each group wanted Trump to run again in 2024. The prevailing belief was that the 2020 election was stolen—or at least unfair in some way—and Trump should get another shot.”

“But since June, I’ve observed a shift. I’ve conducted nine focus groups during this period, and found that only 14 percent of Trump 2020 voters wanted him to run in 2024, with a few others on the fence. In four of the groups, zero people wanted Trump to run again. Their reasoning is clear: They’re now uncertain that Trump can win again.”

“House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said that he did not remember talking to former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson on Jan. 6 about the prospect of former President Trump going to the Capitol that day as Congress certified 2020 presidential electoral votes,” The Hill reports.

Said McCarthy: “If I talked to her, I don’t remember it. If it was coming up here, I don’t think I wanted a lot of people coming up to the Capitol. But I don’t remember the conversation.”

“I mean, look, I don’t trust a thing Kevin McCarthy says. I’ll be honest with you. Sometime about a year or two ago, he made the decision that his only goal was to become Speaker of the House. And he’ll do whatever he has to do, and he thinks that siding with the insurrectionists is the way to get there. Maybe it will make him speaker.”— Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), on CNN.

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

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