Cup of Joe – December 7, 2022

Punchbowl News: “It’s Dec. 6 and the government runs out of money in 10 days. Senior lawmakers in both parties have been trying to cut an agreement for a yearlong omnibus funding package, yet they remain tens billions of dollars apart – especially on non-defense spending.”

“It seems almost certain that Congress will need to pass a short-term stopgap funding bill sometime ahead of Dec. 16 to give itself more time to try to reach an omnibus deal. So we view the real deadline as sometime between Dec. 23 and the end of the year.”

“This sounds daunting, but the political incentives right now point to Congress being able to figure everything out. House and Senate Democrats want to get one more long-term spending bill into law before the year is up. A lot of Senate Republicans don’t have much faith in a GOP-run House being able to properly pass a government funding bill in the first few months of next year. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy can’t say it out loud – or openly support an omnibus – but he benefits from a long-term funding bill being signed into law now.”

“A handful of bipartisan senators are working to strike separate 11th-hour immigration deals before Republicans take over the House in January and make the politically tricky agreements even harder to reach,” the Washington Post reports.

“Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) have outlined a potential immigration proposal that would provide a path to legalization for 2 million undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, known as “Dreamers,” in exchange for at least $25 billion in increased funding for the Border Patrol and border security.”

“Meanwhile, Sens. Michael F. Bennet (D-CO) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) are negotiating on a narrower bill based on a House-passed measure that provided a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented farmworkers.”

Donald Trump on Monday insisted he does not want to “terminate” the Constitution, responding to broad backlash after he said over the weekend its rules and laws should be disregarded so he can return to the White House, The Hill reports.

However, in an all-capitalized post on Truth Social, he insisted that “if an election is irrefutably fraudulent, it should go to the rightful winner or, at a minimum, be redone. Where open and blatant fraud is involved, there should be no time limit for change!”

“Top Senate Republicans are distancing themselves from Donald Trump in growing numbers after the former president’s call to suspend the Constitution — though there’s no sign it will lead them to actively oppose his 2024 presidential campaign,” Politico reports.

The Hill reports that Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said that he “couldn’t disagree more” with Trump’s call to terminate parts of the Constitution and said such comments present “a golden opportunity” for Trump’s rivals in 2024.

Playbook: “The Senate GOP leader, of course, is no fan of Trump and has been desperate for him to just fade into obscurity. But his consistent M.O. — even after blasting Trump following the Jan. 6 insurrection — has been to occasionally rebuke the former president’s statements without rebuking the man himself.”

“Could this time be different? It’s very unlikely. But given the gravity of Trump’s suggestion and his newly wobbly standing in the GOP, it’s not unthinkable. McConnell will surely be asked about the comment at his weekly post-luncheon news conference this afternoon.”

CNN: GOP slowly begins to condemn Trump’s call to terminate Constitution, but many remain silent.

Olivier Knox: “In the not-quite-month since he announced his candidacy in 2024, Trump has welcomed antisemites and Nazi sympathizers Kanye West and Nick Fuentes to his Mar-a-Lago resort and residence and this weekend called for the Constitution’s ‘termination.’”

“It’s like he’s daring GOP leaders and candidates to repudiate him. For the umpteenth time.”

Ron Brownstein: “The GOP’s disappointing showing among independents this year marked the third consecutive election in which the party has underperformed with those critical swing voters…”

“The GOP’s 2022 struggles with independents were especially striking because they came even as most of those voters expressed negative views of both President Joe Biden’s job performance and the state of the economy – sentiments that typically cause most swing voters to break for the party out of the White House. To many analysts in both parties, the reluctance of so many independents to support Republican candidates despite such discontent underscores how powerfully the Trump-era GOP has alienated these voters.”

Said GOP consultant John Thomas: “There’s a huge lesson here, which is if you talk like Trump or remind voters of Trump, particularly at a personality level, it’s pure poison to independent voters. It might have been effective in 2016 because voters were looking for something new and a change, but it hasn’t been useful since then.”

“Who are you afraid of alienating?”— Jake Tapper, on CNN, calling out Republican politicians who aren’t condemning tolerance of Nazism.

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority signaled sympathy on Monday toward an evangelical Christian web designer whose business refuses to provide services for same-sex marriages in a major case pitting LGBT rights against a claim that freedom of speech exempts artists from anti-discrimination laws,” Reuters reports.

Donald Trump failed to disclose a $19.8m loan from a company with historical ties to North Korea, while he was president, Forbes reports.

“Special counsel Jack Smith has subpoenaed local officials in Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin — three states that were central to former president Donald Trump’s failed plan to stay in power following the 2020 election — for any and all communications with Trump, his campaign and a long list of aides and allies,” the Washington Post reports.

“The subpoenas… show that Smith is extending the Justice Department’s examination of the circumstances leading up to the Capitol attack to include local election officials and their potential interactions with the former president and his representatives.”

Ukrainian cities faced a new barrage of missile attacks as Moscow accused Nato of being involved in a direct military confrontation with Russia that could spark a nuclear war, the Times of London reports.

Wall Street Journal: Moscow says Ukrainian drones hit third Russian airfield in two days.

Washington Post: “With Russia’s war in Ukraine in its 10th month, and no end in sight, Americans are split over whether Washington should urge Ukraine to reach a peace settlement with Russia imminently, the survey found. A plurality — 40 percent — said the United States should continue its current levels of support to Ukraine indefinitely.”

“Companies across Germany have been scrambling to adjust to the near disappearance of Russian gas,” the Financial Times reports.

“They have dimmed the lights, switched to oil — and, as a last resort cut production. Some are even thinking about moving operations to countries where energy is cheaper.”

“That is triggering deep concern about the future of German industry and the sustainability of the country’s business model, which has long been predicated on the cheap energy guaranteed by a plentiful supply of Russian gas.”

“Several people have been killed in explosions at two Russian military airfields,” the BBC reports. “It is not known what caused the blasts. Both areas are hundreds of kilometres from the Ukrainian border.”

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports “the U.S. secretly modified the advanced Himars rocket launchers it gave Ukraine so they can’t be used to fire long-range missiles into Russia, a precaution the Biden administration says is necessary to reduce the risk of a wider war with Moscow.”

“The number of Russians in favor of continuing the war in Ukraine has fallen dramatically, with just one in four now supporting the conflict, according to leaked Kremlin opinion polls,” the Times of London reports.

“In July, 57 percent of respondents said they wanted to see Russian troops remain in Ukraine. That figure has fallen to 25 percent. Support for negotiations to end the nine-month conflict has risen from 32 percent to 55 percent.”

Donald Trump’s namesake company was convicted of tax crimes committed by two of its longtime executives after a Manhattan trial that gave jurors a peek at some of the inner workings of the Trump Organization’s finances, the Washington Post reports.

New York Times: “The conviction on all 17 counts, after more than a day of jury deliberations in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, resulted from a long-running scheme in which the Trump Organization doled out off-the-books luxury perks to some executives: They received fancy apartments, leased Mercedes-Benzes, even private school tuition for relatives, none of which they paid taxes on.”

Wall Street Journal: “The jury found two Trump Organization corporate entities guilty of all criminal counts they faced, including conspiracy, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records. The two entities could face a total of more than $1.6 million in fines.”

“The Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, is hiring a former senior justice department official with a history of taking on Donald Trump and his family business, as the office seeks to ramp up its investigation into the former president,” the New York Times reports.

“The official, Matthew Colangelo, who before acting as third in command at the Justice Department, led the New York attorney general’s civil inquiry into Mr. Trump, will likely become one of the leaders of the district attorney’s criminal investigation into the former president.”

“Donald Trump’s political action committee is paying legal bills for some key witnesses involved in the Justice Department investigation into whether Trump mishandled classified documents, obstructed the investigation or destroyed government records,” the Washington Post reports.

“The witnesses include Kash Patel, who has testified in front of the grand jury and is key to Trump’s defense, along with Walt Nauta, a potentially critical prosecution witness.”

“Nauta, a Trump valet, has told FBI agents he was instructed by the former president to move boxes at Mar-a-Lago, even as government investigators were trying to recover classified documents at that private club and residence.”

Following a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony honoring police officers who responded to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, some of the officers and their family members refused to shake hands with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

One of them told MSNBC: “We got together and we said we’re not going to shake their hands.”

Washington Post: “Spokesmen for McConnell and McCarthy had no immediate comment.”

“The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol has decided to make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice,” CNN reports.

Democrats will control the U.S. Senate next year no matter what happens in the Georgia U.S. Senate runoff tomorrow.

But if Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) wins re-election, it would make a big difference to Democrats.

In a 50-50 Senate, any tie votes are broken by the vice president, while the committees operate under a power-sharing agreement and are evenly split. But if Warnock wins, Democrats would have the power to have clear majorities on every committee.

Jonathan Bernstein explains why this is a big deal: “That will smooth the way for more rapid confirmation of judges and executive-branch nominees. Republicans in the current Congress haven’t had the votes to defeat any of them as long as every Democrat stayed onboard. But tie votes in committee gave them extra procedural tools to slow things down. There’s no proxy voting on the Senate floor — if for any reason a Democrat cannot make a vote, it might need to be delayed. And while Democrats have stayed unified behind almost all of President Joe Biden’s selections during the past two years, 51 Democrats will give the White House just a bit of breathing room.

High-priority nominations, such as for cabinet secretaries and appellate judges, will get confirmed regardless of Republican foot-dragging. But district court judges and less prominent executive-branch positions are important too, and they’re far more likely to be confirmed if there are 51 Democrats.”

Perhaps even more important for the 2024 elections, a clear Senate majority would give Democrats the ability to conduct oversight hearings on their own terms. This would allow them to counter-program what the Republicans plan in the House.

Tomorrow’s runoff is for just one seat in the Senate that Democrats will control anyway. But the ramifications will be felt for the next two years, if not longer.

CNN: “Trump’s disengaged posture has baffled former and current allies, many of whom experienced firsthand the frenetic pace of his two previous White House bids, and who now say he’s missed the window to make a splash with his 2024 rollout. The uninspiring launch of his supposed political comeback comes as his campaign appears to be operating on auto pilot, with few signs of momentum or enthusiastic support from donors or party heavyweights.”

Said one Trump adviser: “I don’t know why he rushed this. It doesn’t make sense.”

Mick Mulvaney talked to Puck about the founding of the House Freedom Caucus.

Said Mulvaney: “Keep in mind it was supposed to be the reasonable wing of the Tea Party movement. There were folks we didn’t let in. We didn’t let Louie Gohmert in because he was too crazy. We didn’t let Steve King in because he was too crazy. We were looking for the folks who had the discernment to sort of understand strategy, maybe vote yes, maybe vote no, depending upon what the long-term plan was, that was the whole purpose. And we did it with an eye towards spending, that’s what really drove us—spending.”

He added: “The Freedom Caucus changed under Donald Trump and sort of became the cheerleader wing in the House for Donald Trump. A lot of what Trump stood for was consistent with the Freedom Caucus, but certainly the spending wasn’t. Donald Trump spent a lot more money. Thanks in large part to Paul Ryan’s control of the House, we had to spend a lot more money than the Freedom Caucus would have voted for if somebody else was president.”

Wall Street Journal: “A smaller 0.5-point increase would mark a new phase of policy tightening as they calibrate how much higher to lift rates. Policy makers expect price pressures to ease meaningfully next year, but brisk wage growth or higher inflation in labor-intensive service sectors of the economy could lead more of them to support raising their benchmark rate next year above the 5% currently anticipated by investors.”

“House Republicans are plotting tactics for their new majority and weighing how to use their leverage to enact a laundry list of demands, with many zeroing in on an issue with enormous economic implications: Raising the nation’s borrowing limit,” CNN reports.

“It’s an issue confronting House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is rounding up the votes to win the House speaker race and facing pressure from some of his colleagues to more forcefully detail how he plans to handle the sensitive topic before they decide whether to support him on January 3 for the most powerful position in Congress.”

“Disgraced attorney Michael Avenatti was sentenced Monday to 14 years in prison for embezzling millions of dollars from four of his clients and obstruction,” CNN  reports.

“Avenatti is already serving five years in prison for his extortion and fraud convictions at two trials in New York.”

Former Rep. David Rivera (R-FL), who signed a $50 million consulting contract with Venezuela’s socialist government, has been arrested in connection to an ongoing federal criminal investigation, the AP reports.

“Indonesia has long been known as a widely tolerant nation at the forefront of establishing democratic reforms throughout Southeast Asia. That progressive reputation took a hit on Tuesday when Parliament cleared a sweeping overhaul of the country’s criminal code,” the New York Times reports.

“According to the new rules, sex outside of marriage is now illegal in Indonesia, as is defamation of the president. The overhaul also sharply expanded laws against blasphemy in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.“

“Rupert Murdoch, the 91-year-old chairman of Fox News parent company Fox Corp, will be forced to answer questions under oath next week about his network’s coverage of the 2020 presidential election,” the Washington Post reports.

“Murdoch will be deposed on the mornings of Dec. 13 and Dec. 14 as part of election technology company Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News… The lawsuit alleges that the network purposely aired false claims about Dominion’s role in the 2020 presidential election to boost ratings and fight off competition from more-conservative-leaning television networks.”

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

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