Cup of Joe – November 16, 2022

“Donald Trump is preparing to launch his third campaign for the White House on Tuesday, looking to move on from disappointing midterm defeats and defy history amid signs that his grip on the Republican Party is waning,” the AP reports.

“Trump had hoped to use the GOP’s expected gains in last week’s elections as a springboard to vault himself to his party’s nomination by locking in early support to keep potential challengers at bay. Instead, he now finds himself being blamed for backing a series of losing candidates after disappointing results in which Democrats retained control of the Senate and House control remains too early to call.”

Playbook: “The best way to understand the context of this announcement is to take a spin through the last 24 hours of Trump news. The big takeaway is that the movement on the right to abandon Trump is the strongest it’s been since the days after Jan. 6, 2021. (But, then again, it wasn’t very strong back then.)”

Insider: Trump trolls DeSantis, sharing old video showing his fawning Trump support as the two emerge as rivals for 2024.

“A trio of longtime Republican operatives will lead Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign, which the former president is set to announce Tuesday evening in the ballroom of his private Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach,” the Washington Post reports.

“There are expected to be notable differences from his 2020 campaign, advisers say. His nascent presidential bid is not currently expected to have a traditional campaign manager, with multiple advisers in top roles… Trump is famous for firing campaign managers.”

“Compared with 2020, the 2024 bid is expected to have a smaller staff and budget, advisers say, as Trump has complained that his failed 2020 campaign had too many people and spent too much money. He often told people that he did not even know what some of the people on his last campaign did.”

Donald Trump tried and failed to persuade Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner to join him for his campaign announcement, the New York Post reports. Said a source: “They both feel they got burned in Washington and don’t want to go back and expose themselves and their children to another bitter campaign.”

“Donald Trump hoarded $94 million this election in his various political committees as his anointed candidates lost the Senate for Republicans in tight races where that money might have made the difference between winning and losing,” the HuffPost reports.

Said one Trump adviser: “We didn’t lose because of Trump’s rhetoric. We lost because Trump is cheap. He left them all hanging dry…. It gave a free shot for all the right-wing pundits to turn on him.”

Citadel’s billionaire founder, Ken Griffin, called Donald Trump a “three-time loser” and said he hoped the former president would “see the writing on the wall” and not run for the White House again, Bloomberg reports. Said Griffin: “I’d like to think that the Republican party is ready to move on from somebody who has been for this party a three-time loser.”

Christian Vanderbrouk: “Trump can destroy the party whenever he wants, yet the party can’t destroy him without also risking its own crack-up.”

Rupert Murdoch has “warned Donald Trump his media empire will not back any attempt to return to the White House,” The Guardian reports.

Said a senior News Corp. source: “We have been clear with Donald. There have been conversations between them during which Rupert made it clear to Donald that we cannot back another run for the White House.”

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) “received huge applause at an annual meeting of Republican governors Tuesday morning after blaming former President Trump for GOP failures in the last three elections,” Axios reports.

“Christie, the former chair of the Republican Governors Association, pointed out that there were 31 GOP governors when he left the role in 2014. There are now 26 — five gone in eight years, all because Trump picks his candidates based purely on loyalty, he argued.”

Wall Street Journal: “The announcement would put the Justice Department into the tricky position of investigating the declared opponent of President Biden, who selected Attorney General Merrick Garland in part for his promise to keep the agency free of partisan influence.”

“Senior Justice Department officials, aware that a Trump candidacy will test that independence, are contemplating how to proceed with investigations involving the former president, people familiar with the matter said, including whether to appoint a special counsel to oversee the unprecedented inquiry into his handling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.”

“A special counsel appointed by Mr. Garland could have broad discretion over the inquiry, even though Mr. Garland and other senior officials still would be involved in any decision about whether to prosecute Mr. Trump or his aides. An appointment would provide what some current and former department officials believe would be protection against allegations that a decision to charge Mr. Trump would be politically motivated. Others caution against such a move, saying it would set an unnecessary precedent of appointing outsiders to handle any sensitive investigation.”

Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) told NBC News on that if the GOP Conference can’t agree to elect Kevin McCarthy or any other Republican as speaker on the House floor, then he would be willing to work with Democrats to elect a moderate Republican for the top post.

Said Bacon: “I will support Kevin McCarthy, but if we do get to that point, I do want the country to work and we need to govern. We can’t sit neutral; we can’t have total gridlock for two years.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) says he’d rather be waterboarded than vote for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for House Speaker, CNN reports.

Said Gaetz on a podcast: “I’m not voting for Kevin McCarthy. I’m not voting for him tomorrow. I’m not voting for him on the floor. And I am certain that there is a critical mass of people who hold my precise view. And so the sooner we can sort of dispense with the notion that Kevin is going to be speaker, then we can get to the important work.”

“At the first opportunity, he will zap her faster than you can say Jewish space laser.” — Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), commenting on Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) support of Kevin McCarthy for Speaker.

“Allies of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) made multiple calls to Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas over the weekend and asked him if he would switch parties to expand the GOP majority,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The pitch to Mr. Cuellar came as Mr. McCarthy struggles to reach the 218-vote threshold needed on the House floor to secure the speakership if his party wins a narrow majority.”

“One person said Mr. Cuellar, who sits on the powerful appropriations committee, was offered committee positions and asked what it would take for him to switch. Mr. Cuellar turned them down.” McCarthy’s office denied the entreaties were made at his request: “Anyone suggesting this is simply exercising in fan fiction.” 

Said Cuellar: “They just said: ‘Name your price.’”

Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) “is running to unseat Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as the top Republican in the Senate, he announced in a note to GOP colleagues Tuesday,” Fox News reports.

Said Scott: “I understand that I won’t gain the support of every member of our Conference, but we all have a clear choice to make. If you simply want to stick with the status quo, don’t vote for me.”

Interesting in that Scott just oversaw an election cycle in which Republicans blew a good chance to win the Senate.

“Tensions between two top Senate Republicans — Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rick Scott, who runs the chamber’s campaign arm — are running high amid rising dissent within the party over McConnell’s hammerlock on the top leadership job,” NBC News reports. “Hush-hush sniping between the Scott and McConnell camps spilled out into public view this week after Democrats clinched Senate control, with allies of the two men sniping at one another on social media and in the press. Now, a top adviser to Scott is questioning McConnell’s commitment to winning Georgia’s Dec. 6 runoff election that will decide the limits of Democratic power in the Senate, citing a lack of spending so far by the GOP leader’s aligned super PAC.”

“Donald Trump has been privately encouraging allies to support House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s bid for House speaker, believing that the California Republican will be an asset down the road should the former president find himself in a contested 2024 primary,” CNN reports.

“Trump reaffirmed his support for McCarthy’s leadership bid in an interview with Fox News last week and he has since been working the phones to persuade Republican allies to back him, particularly conservative members who remain skeptical of McCarthy.”

“Dozens of conservative leaders are calling on Republican lawmakers to postpone their leadership elections until next month, echoing the demands of several frustrated Senate and House Republicans after a much-hyped ‘red wave’ did not materialize in the midterm elections,” the Washington Post reports.

“Lawyers representing former President Donald Trump and the Justice Department presented dueling views over whether he can shield certain records from his time in office from federal investigators conducting a criminal investigation into the potential mishandling of classified national-security records,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“In legal briefs made public on Monday, Mr. Trump’s legal team argued that the doctrine of executive privilege protects Mr. Trump from having to disclose certain materials to federal investigators who are probing how records marked as classified came to be transferred to Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s Florida home, after he left office.”

“Federal agents and prosecutors have come to believe former president Donald Trump’s motive for allegedly taking and keeping classified documents was largely his ego and a desire to hold on to the materials as trophies or mementos,” the Washington Post reports.

“As part of the investigation, federal authorities reviewed the classified documents that were recovered from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and private club, looking to see if the types of information contained in them pointed to any kind of pattern or similarities, according to these people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.”

“That review has not found any apparent business advantage to the types of classified information in Trump’s possession… FBI interviews with witnesses so far also do not point to any nefarious effort by Trump to leverage, sell, or use the government secrets. Instead, the former president seemed motivated by a more basic desire not to give up what he believed was his property.”

When asked whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi should stay on as House Democratic leader, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was unequivocal: “I hope she does, I love her.” President Biden said the same to Pelosi on a phone call: “I know it’s family first but I hope you stick.”

When asked what he’s do if Speaker Nancy Pelosi steps down, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) told CNN: “I plan to stay in leadership.”

“The White House is mounting another effort to secure billions of dollars from Congress for a new generation of coronavirus vaccines and treatments, even as Republicans remain skeptical about how past allocations were spent,” the Washington Post reports.

“Biden officials are finalizing a request this week for about $10 billion in public health funds by year’s end, part of a larger request in the lame-duck session of Congress that would also include funding for Ukraine and disaster relief for hurricane damage in Florida.”

Casey Newton: “Company sources tell me that yesterday Twitter eliminated ~4,400 of its ~5,500 contract employees, with cuts expected to have significant impact to content moderation and the core infrastructure services that keep the site up and running. People inside are stunned.”

“Officials from six nations spent more than $750,000 at former President Donald Trump’s hotel in Washington when they were seeking to influence his administration, renting rooms for more than $10,000 per night,” the New York Times reports.

“The governments of Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and China spent more money than previously known at the Trump International Hotel at crucial times in 2017 and 2018 for those countries’ relations with the United States, according to the documents, which were obtained by the House Oversight Committee and released on Monday.”

“The Trump family has struck a deal with a Saudi-based real estate company to license its name to a housing and golf complex that will be built in Oman, renewing a swirl of questions about former President Donald Trump’s mixing of politics and business just as he appears poised to announce a third presidential candidacy,” the New York Times reports.

“News of the deal, the first such international marketing agreement the Trump Organization has negotiated since Mr. Trump left the White House, emerged as the former president already faces a string of investigations into his business.”

“The US has intelligence that Russia may have delayed announcing its withdrawal from the Ukrainian city of Kherson in part to avoid giving the Biden administration a political win ahead of the midterm elections,” CNN reports.

Mike Pence told ABC News that he thinks Americans will have “better choices” than Donald Trump for president in the 2024 election. Said Pence: “The people of this country actually get along pretty well once you get out of politics, and I think they want to see their national leaders start to reflect that same compassion and generosity of spirit.”

Pence finally opens up about his break with Donald Trump in a new book, the AP reports. Writes Pence: “For four years, we had a close working relationship. It did not end well.” He added: “We parted amicably when our service to the nation drew to a close. In the months that followed, we spoke from time to time, but when the president returned to the rhetoric that he was using before that tragic day and began to publicly criticize those of us who defended the Constitution, I decided it would be best to go our separate ways.”

Last month, Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R) tweeted an open letter sarcastically thanking Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) for running a political ad against her, lauding the “Cheney anti-endorsement” as “the gift that keeps on giving.”

Cheney replied yesterday, after Lake lost the election: “You’re welcome.”

New York Times: “The FBI had as many as eight informants inside the far-right Proud Boys in the months surrounding the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, recent court papers indicate, raising questions about how much federal investigators were able to learn from them about the violent mob attack both before and after it took place.”

“The existence of the informants came to light over the past few days in a flurry of veiled court filings by defense lawyers for five members of the Proud Boys who are set to go on trial next month on seditious conspiracy charges connected to the Capitol attack.”

A federal appeals court on Monday issued a nationwide injunction temporarily barring the Biden administration’s student loan debt relief program, CNBC reports.

“White House officials are weighing extending a pause on student debt payments after a federal appeals court blocked President Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in debt per borrower,” the Washington Post reports.

Kelli Ward will have to cough up her phone records to the House Jan. 6 committee after the Supreme Court turned back her effort to rein in the subpoena against T-Mobile.

Ward, the chair of the Arizona Republican Party, was a key figure in the run-up to Jan. 6. She was one of the slate of fake electors the Trump team assembled as part of its election subversion plan. She previously took the Fifth when questioned by the Jan. 6 committee.

Notably, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito broke from the rest of the justices. Not only would they have had the court take up the matter, they would have gone so far as to actually block the subpoena (on what possible grounds is not clear). It should also be mentioned that Thomas did not recuse himself from the case even those his wife Ginni Thomas was in communications with Arizona lawmakers in advance of Jan. 6, urging them to name fake electors.

Ward, who first came to fame as Chemtrail Kelli, was also part of the pressure campaign against Mike Pence ahead of Jan. 6.

“Donald Trump’s iron grip on the GOP is beginning to crack. And some Republicans aren’t even sure he’s in command at all anymore,” Politico reports.

“The former president, who fostered a culture of fierce loyalty among Hill Republicans despite a scandal-plagued administration, is now increasingly viewed as a political liability after the latest midterm cycle. A raft of top Republicans is urging him to put off his presidential announcement until after the Georgia Senate runoff next month, with several longtime allies declining to immediately bless him as they focus on GOP leadership elections or figuring out what went wrong last Tuesday.”

Sen.-elect J.D. Vance (R-OH) writes in the American Conservative that the Republican Party is hurting itself if its leaders continue to blame Donald Trump for its poor performance in the midterm elections.

Writes Vance: “Our party has one major asset, contra conventional wisdom, to rally these voters: President Donald Trump. Now, more than ever, our party needs President Trump’s leadership to turn these voters out and suffers for his absence from the stage.”

“The question is: who is the current leader of the Republican Party? Oh, I know who it is: Ron DeSantis. Ron DeSantis is the leader of the Republican Party, whether he wants to be or not.” — Sen Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), quoted by Politico.

David Frum: “For the party of the president to do well in a midterm election is very rare: 2002, 1998, 1962, and 1934 are the exceptions over the past century or so. In all four of those exceptional years, the president’s party was buoyed by some affirmative factor: a rally around the flag after 9/11, the economic boom of the late 1990s, relief after the Cuban missile crisis, the beginnings of recovery from the Great Depression.”

“This year was one in which all the indicators seemed negative for the party of the president: right-track/wrong-track numbers, presidential approval ratings, and optimism about the future. Yet Biden’s party won and won and won again despite the negative indicators. Yes, for sure there were affirmative reasons to vote Democratic in 2022, but it’s hard to miss the strong smell here of a thorough repudiation, up and down the ballot, of the post-Trump Republican Party, of the January 6 insurrectionists, and of a cultural agenda that seems to many Americans regressive and repressive.”

Michelle Goldberg: “It will take a while to sort out exactly why Republicans did so much worse than expected. Maybe people care more about the integrity of our democracy than the pundits give them credit for. Maybe they were turned off by Republicans cackling over the assault on Nancy Pelosi’s husband. But there seems little question that abortion was a big part of the story.”

“There were five referendums dealing with abortion rights on Tuesday, in Michigan, Kentucky, Vermont, California and Montana. The abortion-rights side won the first four and, as of Wednesday afternoon, is leading in Montana. In North Carolina’s 13th District, the Trump-endorsed Republican Bo Hines, who said that victims of rape and incest who become pregnant should be subject to ‘a community-level review process’ before being granted an abortion, lost a seat considered a tossup.”

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

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