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Cup of Joe – November 5, 2022

The White House is “exploring a series of strategies for raising the debt ceiling, in a bid to avert a standoff with Republicans next year that threatens to further rattle financial markets and endanger the nation’s fragile economic recovery.” Politico reports.

“The private discussions have focused largely on whether Congress can and should head off the high-stakes conflict before it begins by striking a lame-duck session deal to lift the debt limit — or, in a sign of the grave concerns within the party, deploying a procedural tool that would allow Democrats to unilaterally pass an increase. Under consideration is a debt ceiling hike that would extend past the 2024 election, in effect removing the drama for the rest of Biden’s term.”

“The race to succeed Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the leader of House Democrats may have been clinched at a meeting in the Capitol on Sept. 1,” Politico reports.

“That’s when House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York slipped back to Washington to connect in Clyburn’s office during the summer congressional recess at Jeffries’ request.”

“Jeffries, the fifth-ranking House Democrat who aspires to be the first-ranking House Democrat in the next Congress, was picking up heightened chatter from colleagues about California Rep. Adam Schiff’s outreach expressing his own interest in the top caucus job.”

Politico: A quiet race to succeed Pelosi is underway in San Francisco.

“The public is split over President Biden’s student-loan forgiveness plan, but groups that are key to Democrats’ chances in the midterm elections—Black, Latino and younger voters—strongly support the program,” according to a new Wall Street Journal poll.

“Forty-eight percent of the public favors Mr. Biden’s proposal to cancel up to $10,000 in student debt for borrowers with federal student loans who make less than $125,000 a year. Forty-seven percent of those polled said they oppose the program, which is temporarily on hold while a court considers a legal challenge.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said that Congress needs to deal with the nation’s “crippling debt” by making changes to shore up Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs he said are “going bankrupt,” Bloomberg reports.

“Job growth was stronger than expected in October despite Federal Reserve interest rate increases aimed at slowing what is still a strong labor market,” CNBC reports.

“Nonfarm payrolls grew by 261,000 for the month while the unemployment rate moved higher to 3.7%.”

The world is on the road to “hyperinflation” and could be heading towards its worst financial crisis since the second world war, according to Elliott Management, one of the world’s biggest and most influential hedge funds, the Financial Times reports.

The mayor of Milwaukee announced on Thursday that he had fired Milwaukee Election Commission deputy director Kimberly Zapata for allegedly making a bogus request for military ballots and sending them to a MAGA election-denying state lawmaker to prove voter fraud was possible.

Zapata also now potentially faces criminal charges over the gambit, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Milwaukee County prosecutors are reportedly looking at charging the ex-official with illegally requesting a ballot and malfeasance in office.

Zapata isn’t even the first person in Wisconsin to land in trouble for committing voter fraud to prove voter fraud could be committed: A conservative activist named Harry Wait was criminally charged in September for trying to pull the same stunt.

A voter in Austin, Texas alleged last week that a precinct chair of the Travis County Republican Party plus an unidentified man had come to her home and accused her of illegally voting by mail, according to the Texas Civil Rights Project.

The list of people who voted by mail is public, making it easier for voter intimidation campaigns to find targets. Mail-in ballots can be canceled after they’ve been sent, so the harassment can work even if the target’s already cast their vote. The Texas Secretary of State’s office has gotten at least two complaints of potential voter intimidation, a spokesperson for the office told Vice.

Sidenote: This is the same secretary of state who deployed “inspectors” to Harris County last month to monitor the elections.

Barack Obama used a rally in Arizona “to deliver perhaps his bluntest warning yet about the stakes of next week’s midterm elections for America’s system of self-government,” the Washington Post reports. If the Republican candidates here are successful, Obama argued, “Democracy as we know it may not survive in Arizona.” He added: “That’s not an exaggeration. That is a fact.”

“Broad, bipartisan numbers of Americans are concerned that political divisions are increasing the risk of politically motivated violence in this country, with majorities across the board highly concerned about it” in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll.  “Who gets the blame, however, differs sharply among partisan and ideological groups.”

“It was always a lie. The whole thing was always a lie. And it was a lie meant to rile people up. I’ve talked about this ad nausea, it really made me angry. Because I’m like, the promises you’re making that you’re gonna challenge the Electoral College and overturn the election, there’s not even a process for you to do that. It doesn’t even exist.”

— Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), quoted by the HuffPost.

“Elon Musk has now purged roughly half of Twitter’s 7,500 employee base, leaving whole teams totally or near completely gutted, including those tasked with defending against election misinformation ahead of the US midterms next week,” The Verge reports.

“Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Friday denied an emergency effort to block the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness program, her second such ruling in recent weeks,” The Hill reports.

“Barrett, who handles emergency matters arising from several Midwestern states, acted alone in denying the request, rather than referring it to the full court.”

“The House January 6 committee’s focus on US Secret Service witnesses is intensifying, as the panel has conducted two additional interviews over the last two days, including one with the onetime head of former Vice President Mike Pence’s security detail,” CNN reports.

“The committee is also expected to interview at least another half dozen Secret Service witnesses in the coming weeks, including current and former officials and agents.”

A lawyer for Newt Gingrich said the former speaker of the House is “willing to give an interview” to the Jan. 6 committee, given that certain conditions are met, the New York Times reports.

CNN: “The panel subpoenaed Trump last month seeking a wide array of documents by 10 a.m. Friday and for Trump to sit for an interview under oath beginning on November 14 and ‘continuing on subsequent days as necessary.’”

A federal judge on Thursday shot down MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s request to have his phone returned after the FBI seized it when agents confronted him at a Hardee’s in September. The seizure was part of the Justice Department’s investigation into indicted Mesa County clerk Tina Peters’ plot to breach her county’s election systems.

“Federal prosecutors rested their case Thursday against Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four associates charged in the U.S. Capitol attack after presenting nearly five weeks of testimony, videos and text messages they say prove the defendants were behind a violent plot to stop the transfer of presidential power,” the AP reports.

“The case then turned to the defense, which is preparing to put Rhodes on the witness stand — an enormously risky move that the extremist group leader may see as his only way to escape conviction. Rhodes’ lawyers have signaled that they will rely on an unusual defense strategy with former President Donald Trump at the center.”

Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul left the hospital following a six-day stay to recover from the attack in their San Francisco home that left him with a fractured skull and other injuries on his arm. He “remains under doctors’ care,” the speaker announced on Thursday.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) got a crowd of conservatives to boo Paul Pelosi, who had just been released from the hospital after an intruder broke into his house and fractured his skull with a hammer.

Said Greene: “The only crime victim you hear about from Democrats and the media is Paul Pelosi. Paul Pelosi was brutally attacked by a drugged-out illegal alien who should have been deported. And Paul Pelosi should have been a gun owner and shot his attacker.”

“A New York state judge on Thursday ordered that an independent monitor be appointed to oversee the Trump Organization before a civil fraud case by the state’s attorney general against Donald Trump’s company goes to trial,” Reuters reports.

Said the judge: “This court will appoint an independent monitor, to be paid by defendants, for the purpose of ensuring compliance with this order.”

“As Donald Trump inches closer to launching another presidential run after the midterm election, Justice Department officials have discussed whether a Trump candidacy would create the need for a special counsel to oversee two sprawling federal investigations related to the former president,” CNN reports.

“The Justice Department is also staffing up its investigations with experienced prosecutors so it’s ready for any decisions after the midterms, including the potential unprecedented move of indicting a former president.”

New York Times: “Under federal law, a special counsel functions, in essence, as a pop-up U.S. attorney’s office with broad discretion over every aspect of an investigation in ‘extraordinary circumstances’ in which the normal chain of command could be seen as creating a conflict of interest.”

“An attorney general still has the right to approve or discard a special counsel’s recommendations. But if Mr. Garland were to reject the counsel’s recommendation, he would have to inform Congress, a safeguard intended to ensure transparency and autonomy.”

“Kash Patel, a loyal aide to Donald Trump and former White House deputy, faced questions before a grand jury Thursday as part of a criminal investigation into the former president’s possession of classified records more than 18 months after he left office,“ the Washington Post reports.

“National security prosecutors asked Patel about his public claims this spring that Trump had declassified a large number of government documents before leaving office in 2021. Patel was also questioned about how and why the departing president took secret and top-secret records to Mar-a-Lago, his part-time residence and private club in Florida, according to the person with knowledge of the session, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak candidly about a grand jury probe.”

“An Indiana abortion provider who came under attack by the state attorney general has filed a lawsuit to block him from subpoenaing her patients’ medical records — including those of a 10-year-old rape victim she treated,” NPR reports.

“When Planned Parenthood decided four years ago to open a new clinic in a medically underserved working-class neighborhood here, it envisioned a place that would save women living nearby from having to take hourslong bus rides to obtain birth control, testing or an abortion,” the AP reports.

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision overturning Roe v. Wade — four days before the clinic opened — changed all that. Because Kansas is one of the few states in the region where abortion remains legal, the clinic soon found itself inundated with calls not just from panicked patients in Kansas and nearby Missouri, but also in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas — even as far away as Louisiana.”

“Top Democratic officials, lawmakers and strategists are openly second-guessing their party’s campaign pitch and tactics, reflecting a growing sense that Democrats have failed to coalesce around one effective message with enough time to stave off major losses in the House and possibly decisive defeats in the tightly contested Senate,” the New York Times reports. “The criticisms by Democrats in the final days of the midterm elections signal mounting anxiety as Republicans hammer away with attacks over the economy and public safety. For weeks, Democrats have offered a scattershot case of their own, accusing their opponents of wanting to gut abortion rights, shred the social safety net and shake the foundations of American democracy.”

“Yet as the country struggles with high gas prices, record inflation and economic uncertainty, some Democrats now acknowledge that their kitchen-sink approach may be lacking.”

“Saudi Arabia has shared intelligence with the U.S. warning of an imminent attack from Iran on targets in the kingdom, putting the American military and others in the Middle East on an elevated alert level,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The United States has released the U.S. military’s oldest prisoner of the war on terror, a 75-year-old businessman who was held for nearly two decades as a suspected sympathizer of Al Qaeda but was never charged with a crime,” the New York Times reports.

“China’s ambassador to the U.S. just became one of the more powerful people in the Chinese government,” Politico reports. “But the Biden administration has given him the cold shoulder for much of his tenure — a posture that could further complicate the touchy relations between the superpowers.”

New York Times: “[Biden and Netanyahu] will find themselves in the position of sparring anew over issues that have long strained their relationship. It is the most complicated of relationships, vacillating between warmth and combat, sometimes on the same day.”

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) “was unanimously chosen Tuesday to be the next president of the University of Florida by the university’s board of trustees, despite facing tough questions from some students and faculty over his higher education credentials and political views,” the Washington Post reports. “If he accepts the job, he is expected to resign from the Senate in December. He would take office in early 2023.”

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) “isn’t going to appoint himself to the Senate when Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) leaves for his new gig in Florida. But when his term as governor is up in January, he’s not opposed to being appointed by the next guy,” Politico reports. “Unlike a handful of other governors who have passed on opportunities to make the jump to the Senate, Rickets spoke fondly of the upper chamber.”

Washington Post: “Jewish leaders raised alarms Monday about antisemitism they say is increasingly normalized in American politics after a series of bigoted comments from associates or supporters of GOP candidates and growing calls for them to firmly reject such rhetoric.”

New York Times: “Antisemitism is one of the longest-standing forms of prejudice, and those who monitor it say it is now on the rise in America. The number of reported incidents has been increasing.”

“House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy is telling U.S. Chamber of Commerce board members and state leaders the organization must undertake a complete leadership change and replace current president and CEO Suzanne Clark,” Axios reports.

 “In the final sprint to Nov. 8, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy will have a familiar face traveling with him – Newt Gingrich,” Punchbowl News reports.  “The 79-former speaker will be accompanying McCarthy for three days over the weekend, sources told us. Gingrich will be with McCarthy as he travels from South Carolina to Florida to the Texas-Mexico border and back to Norfolk, Va.”

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

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