Cup of Joe – September 14, 2022

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will introduce a bill today banning abortions nationally after the first months of pregnancy.

Playbook: “Graham has previously introduced similar bills, but this year’s version — which is likely to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, as opposed to the 20-week threshold in previous bills — is sure to become a flashpoint. While Graham and Republicans plan to use the bill to rail against Democratic support for ‘late-term abortions,’ Democrats are certain to seize on any GOP effort to impose a national ban.”

Before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June, conservatives insisted that abortion should be an issue left to the states.

Here’s what Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said in May, just weeks before the decision: “If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, which I believe was one of the largest power grabs in the history of the Court, it means that every state will decide if abortion is legal and on what terms. That, in my view, is the most constitutionally sound way of dealing with this issue and the way the United States handled the issue until 1973.”

In the months since, many Republican-controlled states moved quickly to criminalize abortion — some even enacting total bans without any exceptions for rape and incest. In many Democratic states, abortion has remained legal and even reaffirmed with abortion rights added to state constitutions. That’s what Republicans like Graham said they wanted. They said that letting the states decide would make abortion “less contentious” as a political issue.

Now — just a couple of months later — Graham is introducing legislation to ban abortion nationally. It’s an important reminder that what conservatives always claimed they wanted was never their real goal.

Politico: “The South Carolina senator chose a uniquely tense moment to unveil his party’s first bill limiting abortion access since this summer’s watershed reversal of Roe v. Wade. It was designed as a nod to anti-abortion activists who have never felt more emboldened. Yet Graham’s bill also attempted to skate past a Republican Party that’s divided over whether Congress should even be legislating on abortion after the Supreme Court struck down a nationwide right to terminate pregnancies.”

“And some fellow Republicans said they were highly perplexed at Graham’s decision to inject a new abortion ban — more conservative than his previous proposals — into the nation’s political bloodstream at a precarious moment for the party.”

Said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): “That wasn’t a conference decision. It was an individual senator’s decision.”

Josh Marshall: “On it’s face it’s hard to understand why Graham or Republicans generally are doing this. It is really universally agreed that Dobbs has been damaging to GOP midterm prospects. Just how much is open to question. And if you’re a hardcore abortion opponent that’s probably fine. You try to win elections to make what you believe is positive change, etc. But most Republicans interested in winning elections have wanted to calm rather than churn these waters — suggest that the difference in effect will negligible, claim that a national abortion ban is just Democratic propaganda, etc. The general pitch has been that if you’re from a blue or purple state you don’t have anything to worry about. As a political matter, why not? You’ve already won the big battle. It’s simple to play down the implications — if it seems politically advantageous to do so — since the win remains a win regardless.

I’ve never had any question that Republicans would try to push a national ban on abortions as soon as they had the power to do so — basically Congress and the White House both in GOP hands. But it’s hard to see why one would want to advertise that fact now. After all, even if Republicans have a landslide victory in November, no bill like this will become law until 2025 at the earliest.”

“A higher-than-expected inflation report was threatening to black out President Joe Biden’s big celebration Tuesday of party-line legislation designed to bring down prices. The subsequent plunge of markets seemed to ensure a painful head-meets-wall day inside the White House,” Politico reports.

“And then, Sen. Lindsey Graham offered an unexpected soft landing. The South Carolina Republican’s 15-week national abortion ban immediately diverted and divided Republicans and left Biden’s aides shocked at the political lifeline they’d just been handed.”

“Administration officials and presidential allies — including some anxious about appearing jubilant on a day when markets were crashing — leaned hard into the split screen: denouncing Graham’s bill in increasingly harsh terms while Graham’s Republican colleagues pronounced themselves downright vexed over his decision to offer up a plan more conservative than his previous proposals.”

“Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan called the unprecedented leak of a draft opinion striking down Roe v. Wade last term ‘horrible’ and said she expects justices to be given a status update by the end of the month on an investigation into the leak,” CNN reports.

Said Kagan: “I don’t know anything. I suspect my colleagues don’t know anything, except for the chief justice maybe, about what the investigation has turned up if anything.”

“The West Virginia legislature on Tuesday passed a bill to prohibit nearly all abortions, making it the second state to pass a new ban since the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade in June,” the Washington Post reports.

“The State Senate passed the bill 22 to 7, after a brief debate Tuesday afternoon. The State House concurred and passed the bill with a 78 to 17 vote. The ban will take effect 90 days after passage.”

“West Virginia Republicans moved forward with the strict ban despite signs in other parts of the country that many American voters do not support the Supreme Court’s ruling and largely oppose the harshest restrictions on abortion.”

Jonathan Chait: “Trump’s rise has reshaped the GOP, driving out some of its constituent elements while bringing in previously excluded factions, the ranks of which include virulent antisemites. The lessons of Hitler’s Germany have been badly overapplied, so it is important to contextualize these events carefully.”

“The GOP may not be an antisemitic party. Indeed, it has managed to maintain a big tent that includes both Jewish ultrahawks like Miriam Adelson and their most paranoid enemies. Nevertheless, it has become a party in which antisemitism has gained a foothold. No recent development in American life has done more to throw American Jews’ safety and civic equality into doubt.”

Donald Trump shared a picture of himself wearing a Q lapel pin, overlaid with the QAnon phrases “The Storm is Coming” and “WWG1WGA,” on his Truth Social account last night, Vice News reports.

New York Times: “Fresh inflation data released on Tuesday showed that price gains did not moderate as much as anticipated in August, unwelcome news for the Biden administration and the Federal Reserve and a sign of the extent to which fast-climbing costs continue to plague consumers.”

“Prices rose 8.3 percent from a year earlier, a rapid pace of increase for consumers and not as much of a slowdown as economists had expected, even as gas prices dropped and weighed on the overall numbers. At the same time, so-called core inflation re-accelerated notably in August. That measure strips out volatile food and fuel prices to give a better sense of underlying trends, and it tracks products like clothing and furniture along with an array of services.”

This is much worse than anyone anticipated and suggests inflation will remain the top focus of policymakers.

“A judge approved Tuesday the release of a less redacted version of the affidavit laying out the legal underpinnings for the FBI’s August search-and-seizure of material from former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida,” the Washington Examiner reports.

“The newly unredacted portions of the affidavit revealed that the Justice Department subpoena for surveillance camera footage demanded footage that dated back to Jan. 10. The DOJ had sought footage to gauge who may have had access to the documents stashed at Mar-a-Lago.”

“Justice Department criminal prosecutors are now examining nearly every aspect of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election – including the fraudulent electors plot, efforts to push baseless election fraud claims and how money flowed to support these various efforts,” CNN reports.

“The Justice Department filed court papers Monday signaling that it would accept a former chief federal judge in New York as a special master charged with reviewing papers seized by the FBI from former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and club,” the Washington Post reports.

“U.S. District Court judge Aileen Cannon still must approve Raymond Dearie’s appointment for the document review — which has stalled the Justice Department’s criminal probe — to go forward.”

“The National Archives has informed congressional aides that it is still unsure whether former President Donald Trump has surrendered all of the presidential records he removed from the White House as required, even after months of negotiations, a subpoena and a search of his Florida property, Mar-a-Lago,” the New York Times reports.

“A Ukrainian counteroffensive that has sent Russian forces into a hasty retreat could mark a turning point in the war and raise pressure on Moscow to call up additional forces if it hopes to prevent further Ukrainian advances, U.S. and Western officials said Monday,” the Washington Post reports.

“Whether the gains are permanent depends on Russia’s next moves, especially whether President Vladimir Putin implements a military draft or orders reinforcements from elsewhere to offset heavy losses in Ukraine.”

“Russia has covertly transferred over $300 million to foreign political parties around the globe since 2014, a senior Biden administration official said Tuesday, citing a review by the US intelligence community,” CNN reports.

Associated Press: “The rapid and reportedly chaotic troop withdrawal in the Kharkiv region, in which some weapons and ammunition were left behind, was a huge blow to Russian prestige. It was its largest military defeat in Ukraine since Moscow pulled back its forces from areas near Kyiv after a botched attempt to capture the capital early in the invasion.”

“As he attended the holiday celebrations that included the inauguration of the Ferris wheel — bigger than the iconic London Eye and now Europe’s largest such amusement ride — Putin said nothing about the key moment in Ukraine.”

Walter Russell Mead: “If he can stabilize the military front until winter sets in, he has several months to prepare for the spring. He might use that time to organize a general mobilization, building a much larger conscript army for another year of conventional combat. But if the front doesn’t stabilize, or if he feels that public resistance to a general mobilization could endanger the stability of the regime, he might look to more drastic options, such as the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.”

“It is anything but clear how the West would respond. Allowing Mr. Putin to use nuclear blackmail to assert his control over Ukraine would be such a craven act that the moral and political foundations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would be shaken to the core—and nuclear-armed aggressors elsewhere would take note. Yet the obvious countermove, placing Ukraine under an American nuclear umbrella, risks the greatest nuclear crisis since John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev squared off over Cuba in October 1962.”

“In a little over a week, Ukrainians forces retook Izyum and dozens more occupied towns in a lightning offensive that shocked Western and Ukrainian officials with its speed, carrying almost all the way to the border, and sending Russian troops and pro-Russian separatist forces fleeing for their lives,” Foreign Policy reports.

“So far this month, Ukrainian officials say the military has reclaimed around 1,200 square miles of Russian-occupied territory in the offensive, which was enabled by Russia sending units to reinforce the south.”

“Conservative groups are lobbying members of Congress to vote against the White House’s request for additional money for Ukraine, arguing that the administration is asking for a blank check with no long-term plan to end the war,” Defense One reports.

“The Justice Department has issued about 40 subpoenas over the past week seeking information about the actions of former President Donald Trump and his associates related to the 2020 election and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, according to people familiar with the situation,” the New York Times reports.

“Two top Trump advisers, Boris Epshteyn and Mike Roman, had their phones seized as evidence.”

“The department’s actions represent a substantial escalation of a slow-simmer investigation two months before the midterm elections, coinciding with a separate inquiry into Mr. Trump’s hoarding of sensitive documents at his residence in Florida, Mar-a-Lago.”


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one of Donald Trump’s closest allies, told The Hill that granting pardons to Jan. 6 protesters is “a bad idea.”  

Said Graham: “Pardons are given to people who admit misconduct, rehabilitate themselves. They’re not supposed to be used for other purposes.”

“As the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack nears its final chapter, members plan to meet in person on Tuesday and one of the most pressing questions they’ll address is whether the committee should formally request that former President Donald Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence appear before them,” CNN reports.

“Such appearances are exceedingly rare in U.S. history. According to multiple sources, the committee does not expect either man to testify, but some members and staff believe the invitations should be extended for the record.”

The House committee investigating the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021, aims to hold another hearing September 28, USA Today reports.

“Members of the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot believe former Secret Service agent Tony Ornato was personally involved in efforts to discredit former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony,” Insider reports.

“Former Trump White House advisor Peter Navarro suffered a setback Monday ahead of his November trial on contempt of Congress charges, as a federal judge rejected his bid to pursue government records that he claimed would show political influence behind his criminal prosecution,” Insider reports.

“A little-known Donald Trump campaign operative delivered lists of false electors to Capitol Hill in a bid to get them to Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6, 2021,” Politico reports.

“Mike Roman, then Trump’s 2020 director of Election Day operations, delivered those false elector certificates — signed by pro-Trump activists in Michigan and Wisconsin — to Rep. Mike Kelly’s (R-Pa.) chief of staff at the time, both people told POLITICO. Kelly was a Trump ally in the effort to overturn the 2020 election, and his then-top aide received the documents from Roman before deputizing a colleague to disseminate copies on Capitol Hill.”

“President Biden will have dispensation to take his armored Beast to Westminster Abbey for the Queen’s funeral next week, while lesser world leaders will have to make do with a shared bus,” the Times of London reports.

“A unprecedented logistical and diplomatic operation is under way to prepare for the largest gathering of foreign dignitaries on British soil since the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill in 1965.”

“More than 100 kings, queens and heads of state are expected to attend Monday’s ceremony. However, the influx of dignitaries is proving a logistical and diplomatic headache for the government as officials try to balance the needs of foreign VIPs with the smooth running of the event.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be invited to Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral because of his invasion of Ukraine, CNN reports. The full list of invitations had not yet been finalized, but that officials from three countries had been ruled out: Russia, Belarus and Myanmar.

“After nearly two years of watching Joe Manchin tank some of their biggest priorities, House progressives finally have sway over one of his. And they have every intention of using it,” Politico reports.

“Dozens of House Democrats are now threatening Manchin’s proposal to streamline energy project permits — even if it breaks a commitment that paved the way for the party’s massive climate, tax and health care victory earlier this summer. Now that President Joe Biden has signed that legislation into law, House liberals insist they have the numbers to at least force a negotiation on a Manchin side deal they see as too fossil fuel-friendly.”

“A looming Senate vote on legislation supporting same-sex marriage has created a political bind for Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson, the most at-risk GOP senator in the November election,” Bloomberg reports.

“The marriage equality legislation loads another contentious social policy issue into Johnson’s close contest with Democratic Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes. It’s one that will force him to decide whether to make a play for centrist voters or rely on his core Republican base to take him to victory in one of the five key races that will decide control of the Senate.”

“Sitting on top of more than $115 million across several political committees, Donald Trump has positioned himself as a uniquely indomitable force in the GOP who would almost certainly have the resources to swamp his rivals if he launched another presidential campaign,” the AP reports.

“But that massive pile of money is also emerging as a potential vulnerability. His chief fundraising vehicle, Save America PAC, is under new legal scrutiny after the Justice Department issued a round of grand jury subpoenas that sought information about the political action committee’s fundraising practices.”

“The Senate Judiciary Committee will investigate allegations that the Justice Department under President Donald Trump sought to use the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan to support Mr. Trump politically and pursue his critics, the committee’s chairman said on Monday,” the New York Times reports.

“The allegations are in a new book by Geoffrey Berman, who was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2018 through June 2020, when he was fired by Mr. Trump.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “Back when things were going badly, pressure began building on Biden to do something to turn his administration around. When an administration is perceived to be in trouble, often the first change presidents make is to bring on a new chief of staff. And sure enough, in late January the Washington Post reported that Chief of Staff Ron Klain’s job was in trouble. At that point, the poorly regarded U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan was still fresh in people’s minds. Meanwhile, inflation was building, and the big Build Back Better spending package (the one that eventually became the climate and health bill) was repeatedly pronounced dead.”

“Biden, to his credit, did not do something. He presumably knew that the case against Klain was weak and that his administration was reasonably well-organized and well-run. So he kept Klain on. It appears to have been the right decision.”

“President Joe Biden and Cabinet officials on Monday were in touch with freight-rail companies and unions in an effort to avert a crippling strike by thousands of workers,” Bloomberg reports.

“Biden’s personal involvement in the stalled labor talks signifies how seriously the White House is taking the possibility of a work stoppage, which could disrupt the US economy and hurt Democrats’ chances of keeping their congressional majorities in the November midterm elections.”

“Twenty-two GOP governors led by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday sent a letter to President Biden urging him to withdraw his student loan forgiveness plan, citing its negative impact on lower-income families,” Axios reports.

“A federal judge in D.C. on Tuesday will hand down verdicts in the trial of three Jan. 6 defendants that could have a major impact on the trajectory of Capitol attack prosecutions going forward,” NBC News reports.

“The three men — Patrick McCaughey, Tristan Stevens, and David Mehaffie — have appeared for a bench, or non-jury trial, before U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Donald Trump appointee who is the only federal judge in D.C. who has acquitted a Jan. 6 defendant. Following a trial that spanned two weeks, McFadden said he would announce the verdicts at 3 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon.”

“Federal prosecutors have secured guilty verdicts on every charge brought against every defendant in jury trials, so far. A mixed verdict in the bench trial of McCaughey, Stevens, and Mehaffie could encourage even more defendants to try their luck at a bench trial at a time when the Justice Department, FBI, and D.C. federal court system are struggling to keep pace with a massive investigation that has packed the court docket, with hundreds more arrests still yet to come.”

Miami Herald: “The Republican governor [Ron DeSantis], a strategic politician who is up for reelection in November, is increasingly using biblical references in speeches that cater to those who see policy fights through a morality lens and flirting with those who embrace nationalist ideas that see the true identity of the nation as Christian.”

“He and other Republicans on the campaign trail are blending elements of Christianity with being American and portraying their battle against their political opponents as one between good and evil.”

Said DeSantis: “Put on the full armor of God. Stand firm against the left’s schemes. You will face flaming arrows, but if you have the shield of faith, you will overcome them, and in Florida we walk the line here. And I can tell you this, I have only begun to fight.”

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

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