Cup of Joe – August 4, 2022

“The Congressional Budget Office released estimates for Democrats’ sprawling reconciliation plan, forecasting the legislation would lead to a net deficit decrease of more than $102 billion over roughly the next decade,” The Hill reports.

“Republican senators and the business community are mounting a full-court press on Sen. Kyrsten Sinema to sink — or substantially change — the Democrats’ economic package, arguing in private conversations that the new tax increases would hurt companies in her home state of Arizona,” CNN reports.

Politico reports Sinema “wants to nix language narrowing the so-called carried interest loophole, which would change the way some investment income is taxed. Cutting that provision would ax $14 billion of the bill’s $739 billion in projected revenue.”

“Sinema also wants an add. She’d like roughly $5 billion in drought resiliency funding added to the legislation, a key ask for Arizona given the state’s problems with water supply.”

“Five former Treasury secretaries — including Hank Paulson, who served under President George W. Bush — signed a statement strongly backing the ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ brokered by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV),” Axios reports.

Washington Post: “Since first testing positive for Covid nearly two weeks ago and remaining at the White House, Biden has presided over a remarkably successful, if short, stretch of his presidency.”

“Biden celebrated as the Senate, and then the House, passed the Chips and Science Act — a $280 billion bill that will subsidize domestic semiconductor manufacturing in an effort to help U.S. companies compete with China. He delighted as Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (WV) and Charles Schumer (D-NY), the majority leader, reached a secretive and unexpected $370 billion deal on legislation to lower prescription drug prices, cut emissions and overhaul how the country produces energy.”
“Then, after a rebound infection that the president’s doctor announced Saturday, a covid-positive Biden announced Monday evening that he had ordered the successful killing via two Hellfire missiles of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda and one of the world’s most-wanted terrorists who, along with Osama bin Laden, helped mastermind the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.”

“The Senate overwhelmingly gave the final sign-off Tuesday on legislation designed to aid veterans fighting diseases they believe are linked to toxic exposure, particularly those who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars,” the Washington Post reports.

“On a 86-11 roll call, the vote served as a political surrender by Senate Republicans, a week after they blocked consideration of the popular legislation seemingly out of political pique because Democrats clinched a party-line deal on an unrelated massive domestic policy bill that could be considered later this week.”

“Republicans absorbed a series of political blows, led by comedian Jon Stewart and several prominent veterans groups, that, by lunchtime Tuesday, left many ready to settle the matter and vote to send the legislation quickly to President Biden’s desk.”

“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) spoke in support of Finland’s and Sweden’s bids to join NATO in advance of a Senate vote later in the day expected to have broad, but not unanimous, support,” The Hill reports.

Said McConnell: “If any senator is looking for a defensible excuse to vote ‘no,’ I wish them good luck. This is a slam dunk for national security that deserves unanimous bipartisan support.”

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) has already said he would vote against their accession.

“A federal grand jury has subpoenaed former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone in its investigation into the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the 2020 election,” ABC News reports.

“The move to subpoena Cipollone signals an even more dramatic escalation in the Justice Department’s investigation of the Jan. 6 attack than previously known, following appearances by senior members of former Vice President Mike Pence’s staff before the grand jury two weeks ago.”

Former Deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin has been subpoenaed in the federal criminal probe of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, CNN reports.

Philbin worked in the White House counsel’s office under Pat Cipollone, who also was also subpoenaed for documents and testimony.

“The Justice Department filed suit Wednesday against Peter Navarro, claiming the former adviser to Donald Trump used an unofficial email account while working in the White House and wrongfully retained presidential records,” the AP reports.

“The lawsuit in federal court in Washington claims Navarro used at least one ‘non-official’ email account — a ProtonMail account — to send and receive emails.”

“The civil cases alleges that by using the unofficial email account, Navarro failed to turn over presidential records to the National Archives and Records Administration.”

“Ayman al-Zawahiri, the 71-year-old leader of al-Qaeda, stepped onto the third-floor balcony of his house in an exclusive neighborhood of Kabul around 6:15 a.m. Sunday. He usually appeared in the morning, shortly after daybreak. Sometimes he read. He was always alone,” the Washington Post reports.

“And the CIA was watching… At 6:18 a.m., a CIA drone in the sky above fired two Hellfire missiles.”

“It’s not known whether Zawahiri reacted. But former officials who have participated in drone strikes say it’s not uncommon, in the final seconds before impact, for the target to look up as he hears a projectile rocketing toward him.”

David Ignatius: “Zawahiri must have worried that in his last decade, he was a forgotten man. But that wasn’t quite true. He remained a daily obsession for the counterterrorism specialists at the Pentagon and CIA. That’s a warning for the Russians, Chinese or anyone else who doubts U.S. staying power. Americans might look impatient and undependable. But they have long memories.”

“The U.S. drone strike that killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri here early Sunday also struck a humiliating blow against the Taliban regime, which had secretly hosted the aging extremist in the heart of the Afghan capital for months but failed to keep him safe,” the Washington Post reports.

“Just as the Taliban was preparing to celebrate its first year in power later this month, the attack has sparked a nationalistic backlash against the beleaguered regime at home and taunting comments on social media calling for revenge against the United States.”

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi departed Taiwan on Wednesday after meeting with the president and other officials in a visit that heightened tensions with China,” the AP reports.

“In Taiwan, she said her delegation was showing their commitment to the self-governing island that China claims and says must come under its control.”

Josh Rogin: The real crisis over Taiwan will start after Pelosi comes home.

“President Biden will sign an executive order Wednesday to direct his health secretary to consider actions to assist patients traveling out of state for abortions,” the Washington Post reports.

“In the wake of a decisive victory for the abortion rights movement in Kansas, Democrats on Wednesday sought to capitalize on indicators of strong voter anger over conservative efforts to curtail access to abortion, as they looked ahead to the midterm elections and other ballot measures with new vigor,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI): “It is time to reevaluate the conventional wisdom about the midterms after this vote in Kansas. People are mad as hell at having their rights taken away.”

“Voter turnout was high in Kansas, a conservative state — a major surge during a midsummer vote and in the eyes of many Democrats the first major data point that abortion could prove to be a significant motivator in the fall.”

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones testified that he now understands it was irresponsible of him to declare the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax and that he now believes it was “100% real,” the AP reports.

In other news, Jones learned that his lawyer mistakenly send a huge cache of text messages to the Sandy Hook families’ attorney which prove he lied in his deposition.

“Lawyers representing families of Sandy Hook massacre victims who are suing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones said they received child pornography in documents they were sent by the Infowars founder,” NBC News reports.

“Consultants working with the lawyers discovered the images in the documents that were requested during a court hearing in April, the filing states. A lawyer representing the families immediately alerted the FBI, according to the filing.”

“The January 6th House committee is preparing to request the trove of Alex Jones’s text messages and emails revealed Wednesday in a defamation lawsuit filed by victims of the Sandy Hook massacre,” Rolling Stone reports.

“On Wednesday, Sandy Hook victims’ attorney Mark Bankston told Jones that his attorney had mistakenly sent Bankston three years worth of the conspiracy theorist’s emails and text messages copied from his phone.”

“Pennsylvania’s mail-voting law is constitutional, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, upholding the 2019 measure that allows any voter to use mail ballots and removing a cloud of uncertainty heading into the midterm elections,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

“The law, used for the first time in 2020, dramatically expanded mail voting from a method that had been allowed only in a very small number of cases — about 5% of votes in any given election — to one used by millions over the last two years.”

“Saying programs like Social Security and Medicare suffer from improper oversight, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) called for turning every government program into discretionary spending programs, meaning Congress would have to allocate funding for the programs each year,” the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

“Such an effort could lead to yearly battles over the programs — fights that some Republicans say are necessary to cut down on government spending, while many Democrats consider the programs to be some of the nation’s most beneficial.”

“A man pleaded guilty Monday to charges stemming from a scheme in which prosecutors said he and a co-defendant posed as federal law-enforcement officers and lavished gifts on Secret Service agents, including rent-free apartments and a drone,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Arian Taherzadeh acknowledged he never actually worked as a Department of Homeland Security officer but sought to ingratiate himself with real federal agents to deepen their relationship and promote his private security services.”

“The Biden administration has reunited 400 children with their parents after they were separated as migrants crossing the southern border under the Trump administration,” NBC News reports.

“More than 5,000 families were separated under Trump’s 2018 ‘zero tolerance’ policy and a 2017 pilot program and advocates estimate over 1,000 remain separated. Because the Trump administration did not keep records of which children were separated and where they were sent, the task force and lawyers working on behalf of separated families have had a difficult time identifying families to offer them the chance of reunification.”

“A company profiting from a new North Carolina tribal casino gave shares to politicians’ family members and high-profile political figures as the casino’s backers were seeking federal approval for the project,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“One of the stakes is held by John B. Clyburn, a brother of Rep. James Clyburn, the powerful South Carolina Democratic congressman who introduced a bill in Congress last year that smoothed the way for the new Catawba Two Kings Casino.”

“Other stakes went to Michael Haley, husband of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican who served in the Trump administration as ambassador to the United Nations; Butch Bowers, a lawyer who has represented both Ms. Haley and former President Donald Trump; and Patti Solis Doyle, a Democratic political operative who helped manage campaigns in 2008 for Hillary Clinton and then-vice presidential candidate Joe Biden, according to the documents.”

“Well, in one word, it’s ambition. They want to climb higher, and they think if they just make one more deal with the Devil, then they’ll be able to do the right thing. But oftentimes, by then, they’ve forgotten what the right thing is. The Devil has a mortgage on the soul, and they’ve got to make the payment.” — Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), quoted by the New Yorker, on why so many of his colleagues “seem willing to gamble with the future of democracy just to avoid losing their jobs.”

A record low 8% of Americans lacked health insurance at the start of the year, USA Today reports.

Private polling suggests that Liz Truss is only five percentage points ahead of Rishi Sunak in the race to succeed British prime minister Boris Johnson, 48% to 43%, the Times of London reports.

Molly Ball on Rep. Jim Clyburn: “From poverty relief to funding for historically Black colleges to rural broadband, he’s the source of many significant policy achievements, but he is more often found behind the scenes than on the dais. This quality as much as anything has put him at odds with today’s left.”

“A federal judge has ruled against House Republicans who tried to challenge security screening on Capitol Hill for members of Congress,” CNN reports.

“Federal prosecutors moved Monday to make Michael Avenatti’s seized $4.5 million jet an official piece of government property as part of his upcoming sentence in his client fraud case,” Law & Crime reports.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is furious at Google because his fundraising emails were going to spam, but Tech Dirt discovered that his email was actually misconfigured.

“For decades, Donald Trump has boasted with impunity about a subject close to his heart and ego: his net worth,” the New York Times reports.

“But now, Mr. Trump will face questions under oath about that pattern of embellishment in an investigation that may shape the future of his family real estate business. The former president and his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, are expected to be questioned later this month by the New York State attorney general’s office, which has been conducting a civil investigation into whether he and his company fraudulently inflated the value of his assets. His son, Donald Trump Jr., was interviewed last week.”

“Three days after former President Donald Trump tore into his Fox & Friends pals, seemingly widening the Fox News-Trump rift, his one-time morning besties have begun to practically beg the ex-president to love them again,” the Daily Beast reports.

Former president Donald Trump had a private meeting with Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban today.

Edward-Isaac Dovere: “Former presidents do sometimes meet with current foreign leaders, but when they do, they usually keep the meetings informal. This one was made to look, at least, like a bilateral meeting.”

“Rudy Giuliani, already suffering under a mountain of legal issues, can add another to the heap,” the New York Post reports.  “He’s being sued by his ex-wife who wants him to cough up more than a quarter of a million dollars, or go to prison.”

“Rudy Giuliani is unlikely to face federal charges stemming from his dealings in Ukraine,” NBC News reports.

“Giuliani has been under investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors for nearly two years. He was a key figure in the events that led to Trump’s first impeachment, accused of relying on Ukrainian officials and members of parliament to try to dig up dirt about Joe Biden as he ran for president.”

Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) was killed in a car accident, along with two aides and the driver of the other vehicle, WSBT reports.

Keith Richburg: “Since Gerald Ford pardoned Richard M. Nixon for his Watergate crimes 48 years ago, Americans have been fixated on the need to heal and unite. But the United States is a global outlier in granting de facto impunity to fo

rmer presidents.”

“In many of the countries I’ve covered and followed closely as a foreign correspondent, prosecution of ex-leaders for crimes is not unusual and often expected by the public. In most cases, the democratic institutions not only held up but were bolstered by demonstrating that no one, even a former leader, is above the law.”

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

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