Cup of Joe – October 22, 2022

“Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Thursday denied an emergency bid by a group of Wisconsin taxpayers to block the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness program,” The Hill reports.

“A federal judge in Missouri denied a request by a group of Republican state leaders to block the Biden administration’s student-loan forgiveness program, a boost for the White House as it plans to begin canceling debt in the coming days,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Former President Donald Trump is claiming that nine documents seized by the FBI. from his Florida residence are his personal property — but the Justice Department says they are official records that should be deposited with the National Archives,” the New York Times reports.

“The materials from the initial tranche that Mr. Trump maintains belong to him include six packages submitted to him when he was president supporting requests that he grant clemency to pardon-seekers; two documents related to his administration’s immigration policies; and an email addressed to him from a person at a military academy, it said.”

“Kash Patel, a top adviser to former President Donald Trump who has been deeply involved in disputes over classified records Trump kept from his presidency, appeared recently before the federal grand jury looking into the handling of documents at Mar-a-Lago,” CNN reports.

“The backup of container ships off Southern California’s coast that was at the heart of U.S. supply chain congestion during the Covid-19 pandemic has effectively disappeared,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Washington Post: “Amid intensifying forecasts of a U.S. recession, Washington policymakers are beginning to confront their limited options for easing the effects of a slowdown accompanied by high inflation – a confounding set of economic conditions that would present starkly different challenges from recent downturns.”

“Officials at the White House and the Federal Reserve say that they continue to believe a recession can be avoided and that they remain focused on fighting inflation, which is rising at rates not seen in four decades. But with Wall Street trembling, and many private forecasters warning that recession is likely, preliminary talks about policy options are underway around town.”

“On Capitol Hill, congressional officials have begun discussing the challenge of intervening to alleviate the pain of a recession in ways that do not exacerbate inflation. At the White House, aides have informally begun weighing hypothetical options, such as unemployment benefits and food stamp assistance. And at the Federal Reserve, staffers have discussed with outside analysts how monetary policy could simultaneously respond to an economic contraction and high prices — a dual challenge it has not faced in decades.”

“Prosecutors in Georgia have secured grand jury testimony from two prominent witnesses – former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) and former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone – in their investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in that state,” CNN reports.

“Their grand jury appearances in recent months, which have not been previously reported, highlight the wide-ranging investigation underway as Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis probes efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to try to keep him in power.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Thursday lost his bid in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to dodge Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ subpoena seeking his testimony in her Trump election meddling investigation.

More specifically, Graham will have to testify in front of a grand jury on his conversations with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) about the 2020 election results, including the one in which he allegedly asked Raffensperger about throwing away mail-in ballots wholesale.

Graham’s almost certainly going to appeal the order, which was issued by a three-judge panel on the court. The Republican senator can bring it to either the full appeals court or the Supreme Court.

“The Saudi-led oil cartel OPEC+’s announcement earlier this month that it was cutting 2 million barrels of oil per day — a move that would drive up the price of oil just a month before midterm elections — rankled Democrats in Washington,” The Intercept reports.

“They accused Riyadh of aligning itself with Russia, another powerful member of OPEC+, which would indeed profit off the move.”

“But Saudi Arabia actually pushed to cut oil production twice as much as Russian President Vladimir Putin, surprising the Russians… suggesting that Riyadh’s motives run deeper than what top Democrats want to admit.”

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), in line for a big role in a House Republican majority, told CBS News that the GOP should use the debt limit as a “major leverage point” to extract concessions next year.

“The Biden administration said Friday that the federal deficit fell in half from the year before, as Washington girds for new battles over taxes and spending with interest rates rising and Republicans expected to take back at least one branch of Congress in the midterm elections,” the Washington Post reports.

“In a statement, the Treasury Department said the annual deficit had plummeted from $2.8 trillion in 2021 to roughly $1.4 trillion in 2022 — a decline driven primarily by the expiration of trillions in pandemic-era emergency spending. The gap between revenue and spending also shrunk in part due to stronger-than-expected tax receipts, as a booming U.S. economy and large corporate profits helped bring in additional funds to federal coffers.”

“Amid concerns that a new Congress could take a more skeptical view of aid to Ukraine, lawmakers from both parties are looking to lock in billions of dollars in military assistance to Kyiv before newly elected members are sworn in in January,” NBC News reports.

“With early voting underway in Arizona, a swing state and epicenter of election distrust and denialism, public officials are worried that menacing bands of activist observers hunting for fraud will harass and intimidate voters,” the Washington Post reports.

“Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D), who oversees elections here, referred to federal and state authorities a report of intimidation after a voter complained he or she was approached and followed by a group of people after attempting to drop off a ballot at a drop box Monday.”

Officials in Harris County, Texas’ most populous county, sent a letter to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division on Thursday requesting it to send federal monitors in response to the Texas secretary of state’s plan to dispatch “inspectors” who will “perform randomized checks on election records” and “observe the handling and counting of ballots and electronic media.”

President Biden took a question from a reporter as he left the White House:

REPORTER: Any restrictions on abortion at all?


REPORTER: What should they be?

BIDEN: Roe v. Wade. Read it man. You’ll get educated.

Former Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon was sentenced Friday to four months in jail for defying a subpoena from the congressional probe of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, CNBC reports. He is expected to appeal his conviction.

Washington Post: “If he is sent to prison, he would be the first person ordered to serve time behind bars for defying a congressional subpoena in over than half a century under a statute that is rarely prosecuted.”

“A federal judge ordered a Jan. 6 rioter to be jailed Thursday after he admitted to assaulting officers with chemical spray and breaking out a window at the Capitol, with the judge calling the defendant’s conduct ‘outrageous,’” NBC News reports.

“The judge declined to make an exception to a law that requires those who plead guilty to violent felonies to be detained between their plea and their sentencing.”

Said Judge Reggie Walton: “You make your bed, you gotta lie in it.”

“Federal prosecutors have accused a Pennsylvania prison escapee of sending a letter with threats to kill President Biden and the chairman of the Jan. 6 committee, among others, and containing a white powder with an allusion to anthrax,” NBC News reports.

“U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss’s resignation is a stark reminder of how high inflation and rising interest rates have changed the game for politicians and narrowed their room to maneuver,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“For the past decade, low inflation and ultralow interest rates gave governments around the world room to spend more and pile on debt without alarming investors. Those days are over.”

Gerard Baker: “For a decade since the global financial crisis, governments and the private sector alike have floated on an expanding ocean of free money. That era is over. Nothing announces the start of a new era as effectively as the near-death experience for the UK government this month.”

Axios: “The ignominiously fast downfall of U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss is a warning sign for the U.S. and policymakers around the world: Deficits matter again.”

“An upcoming biography about Liz Truss is already undergoing some changes as the UK continues to face political chaos,” Indy100 reports.

“The biography, written by journalists Harry Cole and James Heale was initially slated to be called Out of the Blue: The Inside Story of Liz Truss and Her Astonishing Rise to Power.”

“However, following a turbulent few weeks in Truss’ government, it seems Cole and Heale have decided to change the name of the book ahead of its December release.”

“The new British prime minister, Liz Truss, has laid out a terrific supply-side economic growth plan which looks a lot like the basic thrust of Kevin McCarthy’s Commitment to America plan.” — Former Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow, on Fox Business on September 23, 2022.

The Economist on Britaly: “A country of political instability, low growth and subordination to the bond markets.”

“Pfizer gave some details about its plans to sell the Covid-19 vaccine it developed with BioNTech on the commercial market in the U.S., saying it expects to price the shot at $110 to $130 per dose for adults,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

The U.S. government paid $19.50 a dose for the Pfizer vaccine under its first contract, and $30.50 under its most recent one.

CNN: “Trump’s jet has spent several hours over the last week running pattern flights above a small airport in Lake Charles, Louisiana, likely testing various updated components before heading to the Palm Beach International Airport, where it arrived Wednesday evening. Trump has previously indicated that the plane would be in Louisiana for repairs.”

“The plane’s arrival in West Palm Beach comes less than three weeks before the 2022 midterm elections and with the political world on constant watch for Trump to announce another run for the White House. While Trump’s world has felt under siege with multiple investigations and legal actions open against him, the return of so-called ‘Trump Force One’ to its home base could provide a jolt to Trump’s fans.”

Jane Mayer: “A powerful new litigant has joined one of the most momentous cases slated to be heard by the Supreme Court this term. The respondents in the case of Moore v. Harper filed a brief today that included a surprising new signatory: J. Michael Luttig, who has been known for years as perhaps the most conservative Republican judge in the country. Now, though, he has joined a coalition of veteran lawyers and nonpartisan government-watchdog groups who are fighting against a far-right Republican election-law challenge—one so radical that critics say it has the potential to end American democracy as we know it.”

“The former judge is a surprising co-counsel to Neal Katyal, the well-known Supreme Court litigator… Luttig told me that he signed on as Katyal’s co-counsel because he regards Moore v. Harper as ‘without question the most significant case in the history of our nation for American democracy.’”

Said Luttig: “Legally, it’s the whole ballgame.”

“Federal officials working on the government response to Covid-19 made well-timed financial trades when the pandemic began—both as the markets plunged and as they rallied,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“More than 500 retired U.S. military personnel — including scores of generals and admirals — have taken lucrative jobs since 2015 working for foreign governments, mostly in countries known for human rights abuses and political repression”, according to a Washington Post investigation.

“Most of the retired U.S. personnel have worked as civilian contractors for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Persian Gulf monarchies, playing a critical, though largely invisible, role in upgrading their militaries.”

“The country’s largest online source of JFK assassination records is suing President Joe Biden and the National Archives to force the federal government to release all remaining documents related to the most mysterious murder of a U.S. president nearly 60 years ago,” NBC News reports.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) claims the FBI is in possession of “voluminous evidence” of “potential criminal conduct” by Hunter Biden related to his overseas business dealings with China and Ukraine, the Washington Examiner reports.

Remote work likely contributed to a mini-baby boom in 2021 among women in the U.S. — a reversal of a years-long decline in the birth rate, according to a working paper published by three economists this week, Axios reports.

The state of Texas is sending public school students home with DNA kits designed to help their parents identify their children “in case of an emergency,” NBC News reports.

The law requiring the indentification kits passed after eight students and two teachers were shot and killed inside Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas.

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) is scheduled to appear in court January 13 in the case stemming from his bringing a loaded handgun to the Charlotte airport, the Charlotte Observer reports.

“James Bullard, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, spoke last Friday at an off-the-record, invitation-only forum held by Citigroup, and open to clients,” the New York Times reports.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) announced that Diwali will become a public school holiday in New York City starting next year, Axios reports.

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

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